The people having collected in great crowds in the neighbourhood of the Council House, Dalton ordered out a company of soldiers, under a young ensign, to patrol the streets, and overawe any attempts at demonstrations in support of the Council. The young ensign, having a stone flung at him, without further ceremony ordered his men to fire into the crowd, and six persons were killed, and numbers of others wounded. No sooner did Joseph hear of this rash and cruel act, than he wrote highly approving of it, and promoting the ensign. The people, greatly enraged, rose in the different towns, and were attacked by the Imperial troops, and blood was shed in various places. With his usual disregard of consequences, Joseph was at this moment endeavouring to raise a loan in the Netherlands, to enable him to carry on the war against Turkey. But this conduct completely quashed all hope of it; not a man of money would advance a stiver. Trautmansdorff continued to threaten the people, and Dalton was ready to execute his most harsh orders. It was determined to break up the University of Antwerp, and on the 4th of August, 1789, troops were drawn up, and cannon planted in the public square, to keep down the populace, whilst the professors were turned into the streets, and the college doors locked. Here there occurred an attack on the unarmed people, as wanton as that which took place at Brussels, and no less than thirty or forty persons were killed on the spot, and great numbers wounded. This Massacre of Antwerp, as it was called, roused the indignation of the whole Netherlands, and was heard with horror by all Europe. The monks and professors who had been turned out became objects of sympathy, even to those who regarded with wonder and contempt their bigotry and superstition. But Joseph, engaged in his miserable and disgraceful war against the Turks, sent to Dalton his warmest approval of what he called these vigorous measures.
The Duke of Leinster, in pursuance of his intention to oppose the Bill in all its stages, moved that the order of the day be rescinded. The motion was negatived by a majority of two hundred and sixty to forty-one; the number of peers present being three hundred and one. Lord Carnarvon denounced the Bill of Pains and Penalties as a measure unnecessary and unconstitutional. It was a species of ex post facto and illegitimate mode of proceeding against an individual, an unprecedented anomaly in the law. In one of the cases which they had adduced as the best precedent, the sentence passed on the criminal was that he should be boiled to death! Far better to have drawn a veil over the transactions, than to have searched the Alps, the Apennines, and the ocean for evidence against the queen. The measure had excited the disgust of every honest man in the kingdom. Both Pitt and Fox died in 1806, and a circumstance occurred in the following year which showed the inveterate obstinacy of the king regarding the Catholics. Lord Howick, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, obtained leave to bring in a Bill to enable Catholics to hold the higher offices in the army and navy; but the king soon let him know that he should not ratify any such Bill, and he agreed to withdraw it. But this did not satisfy George; he demanded from the Ministers a written engagement to propose no further concessions to the Catholics, and as they declined to do this, he dismissed them, and placed the Duke of Portland at the head of a new Cabinet. The continued resistance of the English Government meanwhile was rousing the quick blood of Ireland. The old Catholic Convention of 1793 was revived, and from year to year met and passed increasingly strong resolutions in Dublin. In 1810 its meetings, and the agitation it occasioned throughout the kingdom, became very conspicuous. A private letter was circulated all over the country, recommending the appointment of committees everywhere in order to the preparation of a monster petition. It was resolved that as soon as the Convention met, it should sit in permanence, so as to keep up an incessant action throughout the country. The Government took alarm, and Mr. Wellesley Pole, Secretary of State for Ireland, issued a letter to the sheriffs and chief magistrates throughout Ireland, ordering them to arrest all persons concerned in sending up delegates to this Convention. No sooner was this known in England than Lord Moira in the Lords, and Mr. Ponsonby in the Commons, adverted to the subject, and called for a copy of all correspondence by Government upon it. The demand was resisted in both Houses. On the 4th of April Lord Stanhope moved a resolution that the letter of Mr. Wellesley Pole was a violation of the law, being, in fact, a prohibition of his Majesty's subjects to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Parliament. This was negatived by twenty-one votes against six.
On the 15th of September this year the Manchester and Liverpool Railway was opened. It was the first line opened for passenger traffic in the British empire. There was much difference of opinion as to the success of the experiment, and vast crowds attended to see the first trains running. The Duke of Wellington, Mr. Huskisson, and many persons of the highest distinction, started in the trains, which travelled on two lines in the same direction, sometimes nearly abreast. At Parkside the trains stopped to take in water, and Mr. Huskisson and several of his friends got out. He was brought round to the carriage where the Duke of Wellington was seated, who, as soon as he saw him, shook hands cordially with his old colleague. At this moment the other train started, when there was a general cry of "Get in, get in!" There was not time to do this, but Mr. Holmes, who was with Mr. Huskisson, had sufficient presence of mind to draw himself up close to the Duke's carriage, by which means he escaped uninjured. Mr. Huskisson, unfortunately, caught one of the doors, which, struck by the train in motion, was swung round, and caused him to fall on the other railway, so that his right leg was passed over and crushed by the engine. The Duke of Wellington and others ran to his assistance. The only words he uttered were, "I have met my death. God forgive me!" He was carried to Eccles, where the best medical advice was obtained, but he survived only a few hours, bearing his intense pain with great fortitude.