In the Royal Speech his Majesty recommended that, when this special object was accomplished, Parliament should take into their deliberate consideration the whole condition of Ireland, and that they should review the laws which imposed disabilities upon Roman Catholics, to see whether their removal could be effected "consistently with the full and permanent security of our establishments in Church and State, with the maintenance of the Reformed religion established by law, and of the rights and privileges of the bishops and of the clergy of this realm, and of the churches committed to their charge."

James Bradley (b. 1692), who succeeded Halley as the third Astronomer Royal, held that post till 1762, when he died. He had in 1728 distinguished himself by his discovery of an unanswerable proof of the motion of the earth by his observations on the apparent alteration in the place of a fixed star. His second great discovery was that of the mutation of the earth's axis, showing that the pole of the equator moves round the pole of the elliptic, not in a straight but in a waving line. Bradley gave important assistance to the Ministry in their alteration of the calendar in 1751, and the vast mass of his[153] observations was published after his death, by the University of Oxford, in two volumes, in 1798.

Though a declaration of war had been issued both against France and Holland, there had been none against Spain. But Ministers hearing that a strong Spanish armament was being equipped in the port of Ferrol, and that French soldiers were expected to join and sail in it, despatched Captain Graham Moore, the brother of Sir John Moore, with four frigates to intercept four Spanish treasure-ships. The proceeding was certainly high-handed, but Ministers were justified by their knowledge that Spain paid subsidies to France. The Spaniards were furious in their indignation; an order was speedily issued to make reprisals on British ships and property, and on the 12th of December war was formally proclaimed against us.

This tragedy produced a painful sensation through the whole community. The facts brought to light at the trial had the effect of dissociating the Bristol outrages from the cause of Reform, with which they had no real connection. Still the leading anti-Reformers were extremely obnoxious to the people; and as men's minds became more and more heated, in reiterating demands for national rights, withheld by a faction, extreme opinions grew into greater favour. For example, a national political union was formed in London, and held a great meeting, at which Sir Francis Burdett presided. This body issued a manifesto, in which they demanded annual Parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot. This was a legitimate demand; but they broached more disputable topics when they proclaimed "that all property honestly acquired is sacred and inviolable; that all men are born equally free, and have certain natural and inalienable rights; that all hereditary distinctions of birth are unnatural, and opposed to the equal rights of man, and ought to be abolished; and that they would never be satisfied with any laws that stopped short of these principles." The union was proclaimed by Lord Melbourne, but continued to assemble. Altogether, the country was in a most dangerous crisis in the autumn of 1831.

WILLIAM WILBERFORCE. (After the Portrait by G. Richmond.) One great cause of this progress was the growth of our colonies. They began now to demand a considerable quantity of our manufactures and other articles of domestic comfort and convenience, and to supply us with a number of items of raw material. Towards the end of the reign of George I. our American colonies, besides the number of convicts that we sent thither, especially to Virginia and Maryland, attracted[165] a considerable emigration of free persons, particularly to Pennsylvania, in consequence of the freedom of its constitution as founded by Penn, and the freedom for the exercise of religion.

Why did his master break?

[356]

Leinster 1,973,731 4,624,542 450,606 308,068

Notwithstanding the hopes which might have been fairly entertained that the measure of Reform would have been rendered complete throughout the kingdom, a considerable time elapsed before its benefits were extended to the sister country; and a large amount of persevering exertion was required before a measure for the purpose was carried through Parliament, although its necessity was unquestionable. This arose from certain difficulties which it was not found easy to overcome, so as to meet the views, or, at least, to secure the acquiescence, of the various parties in the House. And hence it happened that it was not until 1840 that an Act was passed for the regulation of municipal corporations in Ireland, after repeated struggles which had to be renewed from year to year, and the question was at length only settled by a sort of compromise. On the 7th of February, 1837, Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in the Irish Municipal Bill, which was passed by a majority of 55; but the consideration of it was adjourned in the Peers till it was seen what course Ministers were to adopt with regard to the Irish Tithe Bill. Early in 1838 the Bill was again introduced, when Sir Robert Peel, admitting the principle by not opposing the second reading, moved that the qualification should be 10. The motion was lost, but a similar one was made in the Upper House, and carried by a majority of 60. Other alterations were made, which induced Lord John Russell to relinquish his efforts for another year. In 1839 he resumed his task, and the second reading was carried by a majority of 26. Once more Sir Robert Peel proposed the 10 qualification for the franchise, which was rejected in the Commons, but adopted in the Lords by nearly the same majorities as before. Thus baffled again, the noble lord gave up the measure for the Session. In February, 1840, the Bill was introduced by Lord Morpeth with a qualification of 8. Sir Robert Peel now admitted that a settlement of the question was indispensable. With his support the Bill passed the Commons by a majority of 148. It also passed the Lords, and on the 18th of August received the Royal Assent.

Lord North, however, was still sufficiently impressed by the solemn warnings of Chatham and others to attempt a conciliatory measure of his own. Accordingly, on the 20th of February, only ten days after his Bill restrictive of the American trade, and whilst it was progressing, he moved in a committee of the whole House, "That if the Legislature of any of the American provinces should propose to make some provision for the common defence, and also for the civil government of that province, and if such proposal shall be approved of by the king and Parliament, it would be proper to forbear, whilst such provision lasted, from levying or proposing any tax, duty, or assessment within the said province."

To insure a powerful diversion, the Sultan had engaged the military co-operation of Sweden. Sweden had been forcibly deprived of Finland by Peter the Great, and she longed to recover it. She had a brave army, but no money. The Grand Turk, to enable her to commence the enterprise, had sent her a present of about four hundred thousand pounds sterling. Sweden put her fleet in preparation in all haste, and had Pitt merely allowed the Russian fleet to quit the Baltic, there was nothing to prevent the execution of the Swedish design on Finland, nor, indeed, of marching directly on St. Petersburg in the absence of the army.