Events in EnglandThe Budgets of 1848Repeal of the Navigation ActThe Jewish Disabilities BillElection of Baron Rothschild by the City of LondonHe is refused the OathElection of Alderman SalomonsHe takes his Seat in Spite of the SpeakerAction in the Court of the ExchequerThe Bill finally passedColonial Self-GovernmentLord Palmerston's Foreign Policy censured by the House of LordsThe Don Pacifico DebateTestimonial to Lord PalmerstonPeel's last SpeechHis DeathTestimony as to his WorthHonours to his Memory.

Before quitting Germany, however, George had signed a treaty between himself, Austria, and Sardinia, in which Italian affairs were determined. The Spaniards, under Count Gages and the Infant Don Philip, had made some attempts against the Austrians in Italy, but with little effect. By the present treaty, signed at Worms on the 13th of September, the King of Sardinia engaged to assist the Allies with forty-five thousand men, and to renounce his pretensions to the Milanese, on condition that he should command the Allied army in Italy in person, should receive the cession of Vigevenasco and the other districts from Austria, and a yearly subsidy of two hundred thousand pounds from England. This was also negotiated by Lord Carteret on the part of King George, and without much reference to the Ministers in England, who, on receiving the treaty, expressed much dissatisfaction; but, as it was signed, they let it pass. But there was another and separate convention, by which George agreed to grant the Queen of Hungary a subsidy of three hundred thousand pounds per annum, not only during the war, but as long as the necessity of her affairs required it. This not being signed, the British Ministers refused to assent to it, and it remained unratified.

Amid this melancholy manifestation of a convicted, yet dogged, treason against the people on the part of their rulers, many motions for reform and improvements in our laws were brought forward. On the part of Mr. Sturges Bourne, a committee brought in a report recommending three Bills for the improvement of the Poor Law: one for the establishment of select vestries, one for a general reform of the Poor Law, and one for revising the Law of Settlement. On the part of Henry Brougham, a Bill was introduced for appointment of commissioners to inquire into the condition of the charities in England for the education of the poor. There were many attempts to reform the Criminal Law, in which Sir Samuel Romilly especially exerted himself. One of these was to take away the penalty of death from the offence of stealing from a shop to the value of five shillings, another was to prevent arrests for libel before indictment was found, and another, by Sir James Mackintosh, to inquire into the forgery of Bank of England notes. There was a Bill brought in by Mr. Wynn to amend the Election Laws; and one for alterations in the Law of Tithes, by Mr. Curwen; another by Sir Robert Peel, father of the great statesman, for limiting the hours of labour in cotton and other factories; a Bill to amend the Law of Bankruptcy, and a Bill to amend the Copyright Act, by Sir Egerton Brydges; and finally a Bill for Parliamentary Reform, introduced by Sir Francis Burdett, and supported by Lord Cochrane, subsequently the Earl of Dundonald. All of these were thrown out, except the select Vestries Bill, Brougham's Bill to inquire into the public charities, a Bill for rewarding apprehenders of highway robbers and other offenders, and a Bill granting a million of money to build new churches. The cause of Reform found little encouragement from the Parliamentary majorities of the Sidmouths, Liverpools, and Castlereaghs. This list of rejections of projects of reform was far from complete; a long succession followed. The Scots came with a vigorous demand, made on their behalf by Lord Archibald Hamilton, for a sweeping reform of their burghs. Municipal reform was equally needed, both in Scotland and England. The whole system was flagrantly corrupt. Many boroughs were sinking into bankruptcy; and the elections of their officers were conducted on the most arbitrary and exclusive principles. The Scots had agitated this question before the outbreak of the French Revolution, but that and the great war issuing out of it had swamped the agitation altogether. It was now revived, but only to meet with a defeat like a score of other measures quite as needful. Lord Archibald Hamilton asked for the abolition of the Scottish Commissary Courts in conformity with the recommendation of a commission of inquiry in 1808; General Thornton called for the repeal of certain religious declarations to be made on taking office; and Dr. Phillimore for amendment of the Marriage Act of 1753; and numerous demands for the repeal of taxes of one kind or another all met the same fate of refusal. In one respect the general election happened at an unseasonable time. It was the driest and warmest summer on record. On the 28th of June, the hottest day in the year, the thermometer stood at eighty-nine and a half degrees in the shade. Several deaths were occasioned by sunstroke; among the victims were a son of Earl Grey, and Mr. Butterworth, the eminent law bookseller, a candidate for Dover. The elections were carried on in many places with great spirit. But, though there were exciting contests, the struggles were not for parties, but for measures. There were three great questions at issue before the nation, and with respect to these pledges were exacted. The principal were the Corn Laws, Catholic Emancipation, and the Slave Trade. In England and Wales one hundred and thirty-three members were returned who had never before sat in Parliament. This large infusion of new blood showed that the constituencies were in earnest. In Ireland the contests turned chiefly on the Catholic question. The organisation of the Catholic Association told now with tremendous effect. In every parish the populace were so excited by inflammatory harangues, delivered in the chapel on Sundays, after public worship, both[254] by priests and laymenthe altar being converted into a platformthat irresistible pressure was brought to bear upon the Roman Catholic electors. The "forty-shilling freeholders" had been multiplied to an enormous extent by the landlords for electioneering purposes. Roman Catholic candidates being out of the question, and the Tory interest predominant in Ireland, electioneering contests had been hitherto in reality less political than personal. They had been contests for pre-eminence between great rival families; consequently, farms were cut up into small holdings, because a cabin and a potato garden gave a man who was little better than a pauper an interest which he could swear was to him worth forty shillings a year. The Protestant landlords who pursued this selfish course little dreamt that the political power they thus created would be turned with terrible effect against themselves; and they could scarcely realise their position when, in county after county, they were driven from the representation, which some of them regarded as an inheritance almost as secure as their estates. The most powerful family in Ireland, and the most influential in the Government, was that of the Beresfords, whose principal estates lay in the county Waterford, and where no one would imagine that their candidate could be opposed with the least prospect of success. But on this occasion they suffered a signal defeat. The forty-shilling freeholders, as well as the better class of Roman Catholic farmers, were so excited by the contest that they went almost to a man against their landlords. In many cases they had got their holdings at low rents on the express condition that their vote should be at the disposal of the landlord. But all such obligations were given to the winds. They followed their priests from every parish to the hustings, surrounded and driven forward by a mass of non-electors armed with sticks and shouting for their church and their country. O'Connell was now in his glory, everywhere directing the storm which he had raised. When the contest was over, many of the landlords retaliated by evicting the tenants who had betrayed their trust and forfeited their pledges. They were tauntingly told that they might go for the means of living to O'Connell and the priests. This was a new ingredient in the cauldron of popular discontent, disaffection, and agrarian crime. The gain of the Catholic party in Ireland, however, was more than counterbalanced by the gain of the opposite party in England and Scotland.

VIEW OF LONDON FROM THE TOWER TO LONDON BRIDGE IN THE LATTER PART OF THE 18TH CENTURY. (After the Picture by Maurer.)