In 1828, when the Duke of Cumberland became Grand Master, he issued a commission to his "trusty, well-beloved, and right worshipful brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Fairman," whom he had chosen from a knowledge of his experience and a confidence in his integrity. This commission was signed as follows: "Given under my seal at St. James's, this 13th day of August, 1828. Ernest G. M." In the fulfilment of his commission, Colonel Fairman went to Dublin, in order to bring the Irish and English lodges into one uniform system of secret signs and passwords. He also made two extensive tours in England and Scotland, for the purpose of extending the system through the large towns and populous districts. From letters written by Colonel Fairman at various dates, we gather that he hoped to strike the foe with awe by assuming an attitude of boldness; that they had inculcated the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance "too religiously by far;" that Lords Kenyon, Londonderry, Longford, and Cole had written about their prospects in the highest spirits; that Lord Wynford and other chiefs denounced the Melbourne Administration to the Duke of Cumberland; that if the duke would make a tour in the country, for which Fairman had prepared the way, he would be idolised; that Lord Kenyon had in two years spent nearer 20,000 than 10,000 on behalf of the good cause; that Lord Roden wrote to him about "our cause;" that they wanted another "sound paper" as well as the Morning Post to advocate the causethe cause, as they professed, of all the friends of Christianity who devoutly cherished the hope of the arrival of a day of reckoning, when certain "hell-hounds would be called upon to pay the full penalty of their cold-blooded tergiversations." It was found that of 381 lodges existing in Great Britain, 30 were in the army, andthe inquiry having been extended to the colonies on the motion of Mr. Humethat lodges had been established among the troops at Bermuda, Gibraltar, Malta, Corfu, New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land, and the North American colonies. The Bishop of Salisbury was Lord Prelate and Grand Chaplain of the order, and there were a number of clergymen of the Church chaplains. No Dissenter in England belonged to the body, though it included many Presbyterians in Ireland, where the members amounted to 175,000, who were ready at any time to take the field.

The American Colonies and their TradeGrowing Irritation in AmericaThe Stamp ActThe American ProtestThe Stamp Act passedIts Reception in AmericaThe King's IllnessThe Regency BillThe Princess Dowager omittedHer Name inserted in the CommonsNegotiations for a Change of MinistryThe old Ministry returnsFresh Negotiations with PittThe first Rockingham MinistryRiots in AmericaThe Stamped Paper destroyedPitt's SpeechThe Stamp Act repealedWeakness of the GovernmentPitt and Temple disagreePitt forms a MinistryAnd becomes Lord ChathamHis Comprehensive PolicyThe Embargo on WheatIllness of ChathamTownshend's Financial SchemesCorruption of ParliamentWilkes elected for MiddlesexArrest of WilkesDangerous RiotsDissolution of the Boston AssemblySeizure of the Liberty SloopDebates in ParliamentContinued Persecution of WilkesHis Letter to Lord WeymouthAgain expelled the HouseHis Re-electionThe Letters of JuniusLuttrell declared elected for MiddlesexIncapacity of the MinistryPartial Concessions to the AmericansBernard leaves BostonHe is made a Baronet"The Horned Cattle Session"Lord Chatham attacks the MinistryResignations of Granby and CamdenYorke's SuicideDissolution of the Ministry.

In 1817 the number of power-looms in Lancashire was estimated at 2,000, of which only about 1,000 were then in employment, and the wages had fallen below the rate at which goods could be produced by machinery. To the power-loom, therefore, the hand-loom weavers gradually gave way. In 1832 there were 80,000 power-looms in Lancashire, employing persons of both sexes and of all ages from nine years upwards, at rates of wages varying from half-a-crown to ten shillings a week. In 1817 the estimated number of persons employed in the spinning of cotton in Great Britain was 110,763, and the quantity of yarn produced was under 100,000,000 lbs.; in 1853 the yarn spun was nearly 700,000,000 lbs. In 1838 the total number of cotton factories in Great Britain and Ireland was 1,815, of which there were in England and Wales, 1,599; in Scotland, 192; in Ireland, 24. The total number of persons employed in these factories was 206,000, of whom 145,934 were females. GENERAL ELECTION OF 1784: MASTER BILLY'S PROCESSION TO GROCERS' HALLPITT PRESENTED WITH THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY OF LONDON. (Reduced facsimile of the Caricature by T. Rowlandson.) In 1792 a measure of relief was passed for the Episcopalians of Scotland. These had fallen into disgrace for their refusal to swear allegiance to the House of Hanover. The conduct of many of them during the rebellion of 1745 had increased the rigour of Government against them, and an Act was passed, the 19 George II., ordering the shutting up of all Episcopalian chapels where the minister had not taken the oath of allegiance, and where he did not pray for the king and royal family. Any clergyman of that church violating these regulations was liable to six months' imprisonment for the first offence, and transportation to one of the American plantations for the second, with perpetual imprisonment did he dare to return thence. No minister was to be held qualified to officiate except he had received letters of orders from an English or Irish bishop of the Protestant Episcopalian Church. All persons frequenting the chapels of such unqualified persons were liable to a penalty of five pounds for the first offence, and two years' imprisonment for the second. But now, the Pretender being dead, and his brother, Cardinal York, being held on account of[169] his clerical character to have forfeited his claim to the Crown, the Scottish Episcopalians came and took the necessary oaths; this Bill was passed removing their disabilities, and the aristocracy of Scotland soon, for the most part, became members of the church when it ceased to be in disgrace.

Whilst things were in this position, Parliament met on the 13th of November. The great question on which the fate of the Ministry depended was that of the subsidies to Hesse and Russia. It was something new to see not merely an ordinary opposition, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Paymaster of the ForcesLegge and Pittranging themselves against the king and their colleagues on this question. In the House of Lords the Address in reply to the royal speech, which implied approbation of these subsidies, was supported by Newcastle, Hardwicke, and the Duke of Bedford, who hitherto, since quitting office, had opposed everything, and was opposed by Lords Temple and Halifax. But the great struggle was in the Commons. The debate began at two in the afternoon, and continued till five the next morningthe longest hitherto recorded, except the one on the Westminster election in 1741. On this occasion William Gerard Hamilton made his first and almost last speech, which acquired him promotion in the Government of Ireland, and the cognomen of "Single-speech Hamilton." Murray spoke splendidly in defence of the subsidies; but Pitt, rising at one o'clock in the morning, after sitting eleven hours in that heated atmosphere, burst out upon the whole system of German subsidies with a tempest of eloquence which held the House in astonished awe. He denounced the whole practice of feeing the little German potentates as monstrous, useless, absurd, and desperate: an eternal drain on England for no single atom of benefit. He compared the union of Newcastle and Fox to the union of the Rh?ne and Sa?nea boisterous and impetuous torrent, with a shallow, languid, and muddy stream. But though Pitt's eloquence dismayed and confounded Ministers, it could not prevent their majority. The Address was carried by three hundred and eleven votes against one hundred and five; and it was now clear that Pitt must quit the Cabinet. In fact, in a very few days, not only he, but Legge and George Grenville, were summarily dismissed, and James Grenville, the other brother, resigned his seat at the Board of Trade. TRIAL OF LOUIS XVI. (See p. 409.)



The direct consequence was that he was immediately nominated again by the freeholders of Middlesex. Mr. Dingley, a mercantile speculator of London, offered himself as the Government candidate, but withdrew in a fright, and Wilkes was returned, without opposition, on the 16th of February, only thirteen days after his expulsion. The next day Lord Strange moved in the Commons, that John Wilkes, after having been expelled, was incapable of serving again in the present Parliament, and the case of Sir Robert Walpole was quoted in justification. Wilkes was a second time declared incapable of sitting, the election was declared void, and the public indignation rose higher than ever. The freeholders of Middlesex instantly met at the "London" Tavern, and subscribed on the spot two thousand pounds towards defraying the expenses of Wilkes's election. They then formed themselves into a "Society for Supporting the Bill of Rights," and a third time proposed Wilkes as their candidate. He was immediately returned for Middlesex, Dingley not finding any one who dared to nominate him. The next day, the 17th of March, the Commons again voted the election void.

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This open breach of the Royal Family was quickly followed by the death of the queen. Besides the misery of seeing her son and husband so awfully at variance, she had long been struggling with a complaint which, out of false delicacy, she had carefully concealed. "The queen's great secret," says Horace Walpole, "was her own rupture, which, till her last illness, nobody knew but the king, her German nurse, Mrs. Mailborne, and one other person, Lady Sundon."

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Such was the position of affairs when Parliament was prorogued on the 9th of August. The Peel Ministry appeared to be as firmly seated as any combination then possible was likely to be, and the agriculturists' monopoly seemed safe at least for another year; but the Government had already received warnings of a coming storm. The weather had been for some time wet and cold, but as yet a general failure of the wheat crop was not anticipated. The trouble approached from a quarter in which no one had looked for it. Early in the month of August Sir Robert Peel had received an account of an extraordinary appearance in the potato crop in the Isle of Wight. On the 11th of August Sir James Graham received a letter from a great potato salesman, indicating that the same mysterious signs were observable throughout the south-eastern counties, and he hastened to communicate the facts to his colleague. These isolated[517] observations soon became confirmed from numerous quarters, and the account was everywhere the same. First a brown spot was observable on the skin of the potato; then the spot became black, the leaves and flowers of whole fields grew shrivelled, black, and putrid; and the crops, wherever the plague appeared, were almost entirely destroyed. From Ireland the most alarming accounts were received, and the newspapers were quickly filled with details of the progress of the "potato disease." It began to be asked what would be done with the unemployed multitudes in that country, whose stock of provisions for the next ten months was gone?