The effect of steam communication between Great Britain and Ireland was to increase very greatly the traffic of those countries. It has been stated that in order to save the salaries of one or two junior clerks, it was determined to cease keeping any official records of this traffic, with the exception of grain and flour. In the absence of such records we can only arrive at an approximation to the quantity and value of the exports and imports. It was, however, estimated by persons acquainted with the subject, that the quantity of agricultural produce imported into Liverpool alone in 1832 was worth four millions and a half sterling; and this produce consisted chiefly of live stockhorses, sheep, and pigswhich could not have been so profitably brought over by sailing vessels. The value of agricultural produce brought to the port of Bristol from Ireland in the same year was one million sterling. The total value of all sorts of live animals brought from Ireland to Liverpool in 1837 was 3,397,760. One of the most curious items in the traffic is the egg trade. In the course of the year 1832 no less than 100,000 was paid for Irish eggs in Liverpool and Bristol alone. Looking at the whole traffic between the two islands, we perceive that the amount of tonnage employed in 1849 was 250 per cent. more than it was in 1801. Up to 1826 the increase was not so rapid as subsequently, it being then only 62 per cent. on the whole period, showing an annual increase of 2-2/5 per cent., whereas for the quarter of a century that followed, the increase was 188 per cent., the annual increase being 8 per cent. [See larger version]

Here, had the Government been wise, they would have stopped; but they were not contented without experiencing a third defeat. The next morning, the 20th of December, they returned to the charge with an indictment against Mr. Hone for publishing a parody on the Athanasian Creed, called "The Sinecurist's Creed." The old Chief Justice was again on the bench, apparently as resolved as ever, and this time the defendant, on entering the court, appeared pale and exhausted, as he well might, for he had put forth exertions and powers of mind which had astonished the whole country and excited the deepest interest. The Attorney-General humanely offered to postpone the trial, but the defendant preferred to go on. He only begged for a few minutes' delay to enable him to put down a few notes on the Attorney-General's address after that was delivered; but the Chief Justice would not allow him this trifling favour, but said, if the defendant would make a formal request for the purpose, he would put off the trial for a day. This would have injured the cause of the defendant, by making it appear that he was in some degree worsted, and, fatigued as he was, he replied, promptly, "No! I make no such request." William Hone, on this third trial, once more seemed to forget his past fatigues, and rose with a strength that completely cowed the old and fiery judge. He did not desist till he had converted his dictatorial manner into a suppliant one. After quoting many eminent Churchmen as dissentients from the Athanasian Creed, and amongst them Warburton and Tillotson, he added, "Even his lordship's father, the Bishop of Carlisle, he believed, took a similar view of this creed." This was coming too near; and the judge said, "Whatever that opinion was, he has gone, many years ago, where he has had to account for his belief and his opinions. For common delicacy, forbear." "O, my lord," replied the satisfied defendant, "I shall certainly forbear." The judge had profited by the lesson to-day: he gave a much more temperate charge to the jury, and they required only twenty minutes to return the third and final victory of Not Guilty. Never had this arbitrary Government suffered so withering a defeat. The sensation throughout the country was immense. The very next day Lord Ellenborough sent in his announcement of retiring from[131] the bench, and in a very short time he retired from this world altogether (December 13, 1818), it being a settled conviction of the public mind that the mortification of such a putting-down, by a man whom he rose from his sick-bed to extinguish, tended materially to hasten that departure.

Whilst Cornwallis was pursuing Washington through the Jerseys, Clinton swept Rhode Island of the American troops, and drove Commodore Hopkins with some ships up Providence River, where he remained. Rhode Island, however, required a strong body of English soldiers constantly to defend it. Meanwhile Sir Guy Carleton, having destroyed the American flotilla on Lake Champlain, was daily expected to march from Crown Point and invest Ticonderoga, which was only fifteen miles distant, and where Schuyler lay prepared to abandon it on the approach of the English. But Carleton, who had displayed so much activity and energy, now, like the rest of our generals, seemed at once to abandon them at the decisive point. He descended the Champlain to Isle-aux-Noix, put his forces into winter quarters there, and proceeded himself to Quebec, to prepare for the next campaign. Thus ended the campaign of 1776.

The aggressive policy of the Holy Alliance, and the French invasion of Spain, despite England's remonstrances, provoked Mr. Canning to hasten the recognition of the revolted colonies in South America. It was in defending this policy that he uttered the memorable sentence so often quoted as a specimen of the sublime:"Contemplating Spain such as our ancestors had known her, I resolved that if France had Spain, it should not be Spain with the Indies. I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old." THE "VICTORY" AT PORTSMOUTH.

Another measure in this Session marks an epoch in the history of literature and science in Great Britain. Parliament empowered the Crown to raise money by lottery for the purchase of the fine library, consisting of fifty thousand volumes, and the collection of articles of vertu and antiquity, amounting to sixty-nine thousand three hundred and fifty-two in number, bequeathed by Sir Hans Sloane to the nation on the condition that twenty thousand pounds should be paid to his daughters for what had cost himself fifty thousand pounds. The same Bill also empowered Government to purchase of the Duchess of Portland, for ten thousand pounds, the collection of MSS. and books, etc., made by her grandfather, Harley, the Lord Treasurer Oxford, and also for the purchase of Montagu House, which was offered for sale in consequence of the death of the Duke of Montagu without heirs, in which to deposit these valuable collections. The antiquarian and literary collections of Sir Robert Cotton, purchased in the reign of Queen Anne, were also removed to Montagu House; and thus was founded the now magnificent institution, the British Museum. It is remarkable that whilst Horace Walpole, professing himself a patron of letters, has recorded all the gossip of his times, he has not deemed this great literary, scientific, and artistic event worthy of the slightest mention.

The trial of the chief prisoner lasted nine days. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty, but unanimously and strongly prayed that his life might be spared. It was generally understood that this recommendation would be acted upon, especially as the insurgents had killed none of the Queen's subjects, and their leader had done all in his power to dissuade them from the perpetration of crime. McManus and Meagher were next tried, and also found guilty, with a similar recommendation to mercy. When they were asked why sentence of death should not be passed upon them, Smith O'Brien answered that he was perfectly satisfied with the consciousness of having performed his duty to his country, and that he had done only what, in his opinion, it was the duty of every Irishman to have done. This no doubt would have been very noble language if there had been a certainty or even a likelihood that the sentence of death would be executed, but as no one expected it, there was perhaps a touch of the melodramatic in the tone of defiance adopted by the prisoners. The Government acted towards them with the greatest forbearance and humanity. They brought a writ of error before the House of Lords on account of objections to the jury panel; but the sentence of the court was confirmed. The sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life; but they protested against this and insisted on their legal right to be either hanged or set free, in consequence of which an Act was passed quickly through Parliament to remove all doubt about the right of the Crown to commute the sentence. The convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land, where they were allowed to go about freely, on their parole. Meagher and McManus ultimately escaped to America, and Smith O'Brien after some years obtained a free pardon, and was permitted to return home to his family, but without feeling the least gratitude to the Government, or losing the conviction that he had only done his duty to his country. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Gavan Duffy was tried for high treason in Dublin, in February, 1849, but the jury disagreed. He was again tried in April following, when the same thing occurred, and Mr. Duffy gave security to appear again, if required, himself in 1,000.

The Government at once sent Dr. Lindley and Dr. Playfair, two men of science, to Ireland, in the hope that they might be able to suggest remedies for staying the progress of the disease, or preserve that portion of the crop which was still untainted; and the consular agents in different parts of Europe and of America were directed to make inquiries and endeavour to obtain a supply of sound potatoes for seed; indeed, the seed question was even more important than that more immediately pressing one, of how the people were to be fed. In addition to this, early in October, they secretly gave orders for the purchase abroad of 100,000 worth of Indian corn, to be conveyed to Irish ports for distribution among the people. These measures, however, proved of little avail, and meanwhile it grew evident that in a great portion of the United Kingdom a famine was inevitable, which could not fail to influence the price of provisions of all kinds elsewhere. During this time it became known that the harvest, about which opinions had fluctuated so much, would be[518] everywhere deficient. The friends of Sir Robert Peel in the Cabinet who shared his Free Trade tendencies knew then how impossible it was that the already tottering system of the Corn Laws could be any longer maintained. The Ministers had scarcely reached the country seats in which they looked for repose after the labours of the Session, ere the cry of "Open the ports!" was raised throughout the kingdom; but except three, none of them took his view of the gravity of the crisis. All knew that the ports once open, public opinion would probably for ever prevent the reimposition of the duties, and the majority of the Cabinet for a time still adhered to their Protectionist principles.


BARTHOLOMEW FAIR, LONDON, IN 1721. (From a Painting on a Fan.)