The earliest statistics by which the progress of popular education may be measured are contained in the Parliamentary returns of 1813, when there were in England and Wales nearly 20,000 day schools, with about 675,000 scholars, giving the proportion of 1 in 17 of the population. There were also 5,463 Sunday schools, with 477,000 scholars, or 1 in 24 of the population. Lord Kerry's Parliamentary returns for 1833 showed the number of day schools and scholars to be nearly doubled, and the proportion to be 1 in 11 of the population. The Sunday schools, during the same period, were trebled in number, and also in the aggregate of children attending; while their proportion to the population was 1 in 9the population having in the interval increased 24 per cent., the day scholars 89 per cent., and the Sunday scholars 225 per cent. Up to this time (1833) the work of education was conducted by private liberality, incited mainly by religious zeal, and acting through the agencies of the two great societies, the British and the National. In that year Government came to their aid, and a meagre grant of 20,000 a year continued to be made till 1839, when it was increased to 30,000. This was shared between the two societies,[426] representing two educational parties. The principle of the British and Foreign School Society, chiefly supported by Dissenters, was, that the Bible should be read without note or comment in the schools, and that there should be no catechism admitted, or special religious instruction of any kind. The schools of the National Society, on the other hand, were strictly Church schools, in which the Church Catechism must be taught. The total number of schools in 1841 was 46,000, of which 30,000 were private. These statistics indicate an immense amount of private energy and enterprise, the more gratifying from the fact that the greater portion of the progress was due to the working classes themselves. Great improvements had been effected in the art of teaching. Both the British and the National Societies from the beginning devoted much attention to the training of efficient teachers. In 1828 the former sent out 87 trained teachers; in 1838 as many as 183. The National Society commenced a training institution in 1811, and after forty years' progress it had five training colleges, sending out 270 teachers every year.

On the 30th of January, 1793, Dundas announced to the House of Commons a message from the throne, communicating the news of the execution of the French king. This was accompanied by copies of a correspondence with M. Chauvelin, the late plenipotentiary of Louis, and of an order for his quitting the kingdom, in consequence of this sanguinary act. The message made a deep impression on the House, though the circumstances were already well known. It was agreed to take these matters into consideration on the 2nd of February, when Pitt detailed the correspondence which had for some time taken place between the British Cabinet and the French Government. He said that Britain, notwithstanding many provocations, had carefully maintained an attitude of neutrality, even when, in the preceding summer, France was at war with Austria and Prussia, and was menacing our Dutch allies. The French, on their part, had, he said, made similar professions. They had publicly renounced all aggression, and yet they had annexed Saxony, overrun Belgium, and now contemplated the invasion of Holland. They had done more: they had plainly menaced this country with invasion. So recently as the last day of the year, their Minister of Marine had addressed a letter to the seaports of France, in which this was the language regarding England:"The King and his Parliament mean to make war against us. Will the English Republicans suffer it? Already these free men show their discontent, and the repugnance they have to bear arms against their brothers, the French. Well, we will fly to their succour; we will make a descent on the island; we will lodge there fifty thousand caps of liberty; we will plant there the sacred tree; we will stretch out our arms to our Republican brethren, and the tyranny of their Government shall soon be destroyed!" There was a strong war spirit manifest in the House. Fox and his diminished party combated it in vain. The same prevailing expression was exhibited in a similar debate in the House of Lords, in which Lord Loughboroughwho, on the 20th of January, succeeded Thurlow as Lord Chancellorsupported the views of Ministers. But there was little time allowed for the two Houses to discuss the question of peace or war, for on the 11th of February Dundas brought down a royal message, informing the Commons that the French had declared war on the 1st of February, against both Britain and Holland. On the following day Pitt moved an Address to his Majesty, expressing a resolve to support him in the contest against France. In the debate, Burke declared the necessity of war against a nation which had, in fact, proclaimed war against every throne and nation. At the same time, he declared that it would be a war in defence of every principle of order or religion. It would not be the less a most desperate war. France was turning almost every subject in the realm into a soldier. It meant to maintain its armies on the plunder of invaded nations. Trade being ruined at home by the violence of mob rule, the male population was eager to turn soldiers, and to live on the spoils of the neighbouring countries. Lyons alone, he said, had thirty thousand artisans destitute of employment; and they would find a substitute for their legitimate labour in ravaging the fields of Holland and Germany. He deemed war a stern necessity. A similar Address was moved and carried in the Peers.

By the terms of the Treaty of Tilsit, Prussian Poland was taken away, but not to be incorporated with a restored Poland, as Buonaparte had delusively allowed the Poles to hope. No; a restored Poland was incompatible with a treaty of peace with Russia, or the continuance of it with Austria. It was handed over to the Duke of Saxony, now elevated to the title of the King of Saxony and Duke of the Grand Duchy of Warsawthe name which Prussian Poland assumed. The duped Polish patriots cursed Buonaparte bitterly in secret. Alexander, with all his assumed sympathy for his fallen cousins of Prussia, came in for a slice of the spoil, nominally to cover the expenses of the war. Dantzic, with a certain surrounding district, was recognised as a free city, under the protection of Prussia and Saxony; but Buonaparte took care to stipulate for the retention of a garrison there till the conclusion of a general peace, so as to stop out any British armament or influence. To oblige the Emperor of Russia, he allowed the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who were the Czar's relations, to retain possession of their territories; but he returned to Prussia only about one-half of the provinces which he had seized, reducing her very much to the limits in which Frederick the Great had found her before his usurpations. She surrendered her provinces between the Rhine and the Elbe, which, together with Hesse, Brunswick, and part of Hanover, were formed into the kingdom of Westphalia and given to Jerome Buonaparte. She was saddled by a crushing war indemnity, and had to leave Berlin and the chief fortresses in the hands of the French until the debt was paid. In the articles of the Treaty which were made public, Alexander paid a nominal courtesy to his ally, Great Britain, by offering to mediate between her and France, if the offer were accepted within a month; but amongst the secret articles of the Treaty was one binding the Czar to shut his ports against all British vessels, if this offer were rejected. This was a sacrifice demanded of Alexander, as Great Britain was Russia's best customer, taking nearly all her raw or exported produce. In return for this, and for Alexander's connivance at, or assistance in, Buonaparte's intention of seizing on Spain and Portugal, for the taking of Malta and Gibraltar, and the expulsion of the British from the Mediterranean, Alexander was to invade and[546] annex Finland, the territory of Sweden, and, giving up his designs on Moldavia and Wallachia, for which he was now waging an unprovoked war, he was to be allowed to conquer the rest of Turkey, the ally of Napoleon, and establish himself in the long-coveted Constantinople. Thus these two august robbers shared kingdoms at their own sweet will and pleasure. Turkey and Finland they regarded as properly Russian provinces, and Spain, Portugal, Malta, Gibraltar, and, eventually, Britain, as provinces of France. [See larger version]

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Chatham, undeterred by the fate of his motion, determined to make one more effort, and bring in a Bill for the pacification of the colonies, and he called upon Franklin to assist in framing it. On the following Tuesday, Franklin hurried down to Hayes with the draft of the Bill left with him, and with his full approbation of it, having, he says, only added one word, that of "constitutions" after "charters." The next day (Wednesday), the 1st of February, Chatham appeared in the House of Lords with his Bill. He declared that it was a[215] Bill not merely of concession, but of assertion, and he called on the Lords to entertain it cordially, to correct its crudenesses, and pass it for the peace of the whole empire. The Bill first explicitly asserted our supreme power over the colonies; it declared that all that related to the disposing of the army belonged to the prerogative of the Crown, but that no armed force could be lawfully employed against the rights and liberties of the inhabitants; that no tax, or tollage, or other charge for the revenue, should be levied without the consent of the provincial Assemblies. The Acts of Parliament relating to America passed since 1764 were wholly repealed; the judges were made permanent during their good behaviour, and the Charters and constitutions of the several provinces were not to be infringed or set aside, unless upon some valid ground of forfeiture. All these concessions were, of course, made conditional on the recognition by the colonies of the supreme authority of Parliament.

The party which, under the guidance of Mr. Disraeli, Lord Stanley, and Lord George Bentinck, was destined to present so formidable an opposition to the Minister's policy, and to render his labours in the interests of the people so full of pain and anxiety, as yet only marked its existence by murmurs along the Conservative benches. As usual, the somewhat revived prosperity of the country was the chief pretext for resisting change. People with this view did not see the danger of opposing reforms until a sudden storm compelled the Legislature to face them with mischievous haste. It had again and again been shown that the evils of the old system of restrictions lay chiefly in the fact that they led to violent fluctuations in the circumstances of the people. Nothing, therefore, could be more certain than that, even had the prosperity been tenfold greater, one of those alternations of depression which brought so much misery to the people would not be long in making its appearance. The monopolist party, however, seldom looked beyond the day or the hour. There had been rick-burning in the country, and an agricultural labourer, named Joseph Lankester, had declared that his object in committing this crime was to raise the price of wheat, and so bring about those high wages which the political farmers and landlords were always saying came from good prices in the corn market. The Protectionist lords declared, nevertheless, that the Anti-Corn-Law League, with their mischievous agitation, their models of the big and the little loaf, their lectures and meetings, their music and banners, their poisonous tracts and pamphlets, were at the bottom of these disturbances. In the towns, however, political agitation was comparatively silent. To some agriculturists it appeared a fair compromise to maintain the protective laws in consideration of their being content to put up with the low prices of the day. Any way, the dreaded League seemed to them to be checked.

Savary accompanied Ferdinand to conduct him safely into the snare. He spoke positively of meeting Napoleon at Burgos; but when they arrived there, they received the information that Napoleon was only yet at Bordeaux, about to proceed to Bayonne. Savary seemed so sure of his victim, that he ventured to leave Ferdinand at Vittoria, and went on to see Napoleon and report progress; probably, also, to receive fresh instructions. The opportunity was not lost by some faithful Spaniards to warn Ferdinand to make his escape during Savary's absence, and to get into one of his distant provinces, where he could, at least, negotiate with Napoleon independently. Ferdinand was astounded, but persuaded himself that Napoleon could not contemplate such treachery. Although the people opposed the Prince's going, Savary prevailed, and on they went.

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Amongst these, for the most part working men, sat a number of gentlemen, and even one lord, Lord Dacre, who had lived in Paris and was a regular Revolutionist. The Convention sat unmolested till the 5th of December, arranging for a future meeting in England, and organising committees and correspondents in different towns. They also recommended to all Reform clubs and societies to invoke Divine aid on their endeavours for just reform. On meeting on the morning of the 5th, the president, Paterson, announced that himself, Margarot, and the delegates had been arrested, and were only out on bail. Immediately after this, the Lord Provost appeared with a force to disperse the meeting, and though Skirving informed him that the place of meeting was his own hired house, and that they had met for a purely constitutional purpose, the Lord Provost broke up the meeting and drove out the members. That evening they met again at another place, but only to be turned out again. Still they did not disperse before Gerald had offered up a fervent prayer for the success of Reform. Mr. Skirving then issued a circular inviting the delegates to meet in his private house, and for this he was arrested on the 6th of January, 1794, brought before the Court of Justiciary, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. On the 13th Margarot received the same sentence; and, in the month of March, Gerald likewise.

It is said that when Johnson called on Goldsmith to see what could be done to raise money to pay the latter's landlady, who threatened him with imprisonment, Goldsmith handed the doctor the MS. of a new novel that might be worth something! This was the "Vicar of Wakefield." Johnson recognised its merits instantly, and at once sold it to a bookseller for 60, with which Goldsmith's rent was paid.

The only matters of interest debated in Parliament during this year, except that of the discontent in the country, were a long debate on Catholic emancipation, in the month of May, which was negatived by a majority of only twenty-four, showing that that question was progressing towards its goal; and a motion of Lord Castlereagh for the gradual abolition of sinecures. This intimated some slight impression of the necessity to do something to abate the public dissatisfaction, but it was an impression only on the surface. This Ministry was too much determined to maintain the scale of war expenditure to which they had been accustomed to make any real retrenchment. A committee appointed to consider the scheme recommended the abolition of sinecures to the amount of fifty-four thousand pounds per annum, but neutralised the benefit by recommending instead a pension-list of forty-two thousand pounds per annum. The country received the amendment with disgust and derision.

The news of the approach of the French succours was brought by Lafayette, who, much to the joy of Washington, and of America generally, again reached the States, landing at Boston in April. He announced that the fleet, commanded by the Chevalier de Ternay, consisted of seven sail of the line, with numerous smaller vessels, and brought over six thousand troops, under the Comte de Rochambeau. The French squadron reached Rhode Island on the 13th of July. Washington thereupon declared himself ready for an attack on New York; but Rochambeau replied that it would be better to wait for the expected and much larger fleet of De Guichen. Before De Guichen appeared, the English admiral, Graves, arrived, with six ships of war, thus increasing the English superiority at sea, and De Ternay found himself blockaded in the harbour of Newport, and Rochambeau was glad to entrench himself on Rhode Island, and abandon all idea of attacking New York. Sir Henry Clinton, on his part, planned an attack on Rochambeau with the army, while the French fleet blockaded in Newport harbour should be attacked by Admiral Arbuthnot. But Clinton and Arbuthnot were at variance, and the admiral did not promptly and cordially second the views of Clinton. He went slowly round Long Island, to place himself in conjunction with the general; whilst Clinton embarked eight thousand troops, and approached the position of Rochambeau. But Arbuthnot strongly contended against the attempt, declaring Rochambeau too formidably fortified, and Washington, at the same time, advancing from his position with a large force, suddenly passed the North River and approached King's Bridge, as if meditating an attack on New York. These circumstances induced Clinton reluctantly to return to New York. Washington retreated to his old ground at Morristown, and Arbuthnot remained blockading De Ternay before Newport. Neither party, therefore, could do more than be still for the remainder of the season. Clinton was completely crippled for any decisive action by the miserable modicum of troops which the English Government had furnished him, and the enemy now knew that the fleet of De Guichen was not likely to arrive this season.

The measure, which was founded on the recommendations of the report, was advocated principally by Lord John Russell, Lord Melbourne, and Mr. C. Hobhouse. The plan was intended to provide for 183 corporations, extending to a population of at least 2,000,000. Many of these corporations governed large and important towns, of which they did not sufficiently represent the property, intelligence, and population. In Bedford the corporation composed only one in seventy of the people, and one-fortieth of the property. In Oxford there were only 1,400 electors, and seldom more than 500 voted at an election. In Norwich 315 of the electors were paupers. In Cambridge there were only 118 freemen, out of a population of 20,000; and while the annual rental was more than 25,000, the property of freemen amounted to little more than 2,000. These were only samples of the strange anomalies that everywhere prevailed. It was obvious to every one that corporations so constituted were altogether unfitted for the objects which they were originally designed to answer. On the contrary, they tended directly to frustrate those objects, and to render the proper government of towns impracticable. They engendered jealousy and distrust between the small governing power and the body of the people. A few persons carrying on the government for their own benefit were connected with a portion of the lower classes, whose votes they purchased and whose habits they demoralised. With such a monopoly the grossest abuses were inevitable. Charitable funds, often large in amount, which had been left for the benefit of the whole people, were either lavishly distributed among the venal dependents of the governing body, squandered on civic feasts, or spent in bribing the freemen in order to secure their votes. In short, the general if not the universal practice had been to use the powers of municipal corporations, not for the good government or benefit of the towns over which they presidednot in order that they might be well and quietly governed in the terms of the charters, but for the sole purpose of establishing an interest which might be useful in the election of members of Parliament.