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Some of the most eminent land-owners were clear-sighted and disinterested enough to oppose these views with all their power. The Dukes of Buckinghamshire and Devonshire, the Lords Carlisle, Spencer, Grey, Grenville, Wellesley, and many members of the Commons, voted and protested energetically against them; and the additional restrictions were not carried. But enough had been done to originate the most frightful[120] sufferings and convulsions. We shall see these agitations every remaining year of this reign. The Prince Regent, in his opening speech, in 1816, declared "manufactures and commerce to be in a flourishing condition." But Mr. Brougham at once exposed this fallacy. He admitted that there had been an active manufacturing and an unusual amount of exportation in expectation of the ports of the world being thrown open by the peace; but he declared that the people of the Continent were too much exhausted by the war to be able to purchase, and that the bulk of these exported goods would have to be sold at a ruinous reductionat almost nominal prices; and then would immediately follow a stoppage of mills, a vast population thrown out of employment, and bread and all provisions made exorbitantly dear when there was the least power to purchase. All this was speedily realised. British goods were soon selling in Holland and the north of Europe for less than their cost price in London and Manchester. Abundant harvests defeated in some degree the expectations of the agriculturists, and thus both farmers and manufacturers were ruined together; for, the check being given to commerce, the manufacturing population could purchase at no price, and, in spite of the harvest, the price of wheat was still one hundred and three shillings per quarter. Many farmers, as well as manufacturers, failed; country banks were broken, and paper-money was reduced in value twenty-five per cent.; and a circumstance greatly augmenting the public distress was the reduction of its issues by the Bank of England from thirty-one millions to twenty-six millions. Then came the Lake school, so called because the poets lived more or less amongst the lakes of Westmoreland and Cumberland; but which would have been more correctly called the natural school, in contradistinction to the artificial school which they superseded. The chief of these were Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey. Wordsworth and Coleridge had travelled in Germany, when few Englishmen travelled there, and all of them had more or less imbibed that spirit of intense love of natural beauty and of mental philosophy which prevails in Germany. In Southey this evaporated in ballads of the wild and wonderful, with a strong tinge of Teutonic diablerie. In Wordsworth and Coleridge these elements sank deeper, and brought forth more lasting fruits. But there was another cause which went greatly to the formation of Wordsworth's poetic system. He was thoroughly indoctrinated by his early friends, Charles Lloyd and Thomas Wilkinson, members of the Society of Friends, with their theory of worship and psychology. They taught him that the spirit of God breathes through all nature, and that we have only to listen and receive. This system was enunciated in some of his lyrical poems, but it is the entire foundation of his great work, the "Excursion." In his earliest poems William Wordsworth (b. 1770; d. 1850) wrote according to the manner of the time, and there is nothing remarkable in them; but in his "Lyrical Ballads," the first of which appeared in 1798, there was an entire change. They were of the utmost simplicity of language, and some of them on subjects so homely that they excited the most unmeasured ridicule of the critics. In particular, the Edinburgh Review distinguished itself by its excessive contempt of them. The same fate awaited his successive publications, including his great work, the "Excursion;" and the tide of scorn was only turned by a series of laudatory criticisms by Professor Wilson, in Blackwood's Magazine, after which the same critics became very eulogistic.

DUEL BETWEEN THE "GUERRIRE" AND THE "CONSTITUTION." (See p. 36.) The growth of our commerce during these seventy-two years is shown by the amount of our exports. In 1697that is, nine years after the Revolutionthe amount of exports was only 3,525,907; but in the three next years of peace they rose to 6,709,881. War reduced these again to little more than 5,000,000, and at the end of the reign of Anne, during peace, they rose to 8,000,000. At the end of the reign of George I. the war had so much checked our commerce, that the exports scarcely amounted to that sum, the average of the three years1726, 1727, and 1728being only 7,891,739. By the end of the reign of George II., however (1760), they had risen to 14,693,270. Having by this period driven the fleets of France and Spain from the ocean, we rather extended our commerce than injured it. Thus, during these seventy-two years, our exports had increased from about three millions and a half annually to more than fourteen millions and a half annually, or a yearly difference of upwards of eleven millionsa most substantial growth. The news, when it reached England, produced a transport of exultation. Bells were rung, cannon fired, and great rejoicings made, anticipatory of fresh tidings of wonderful success. But very different was the reality. Wentworth called on Vernon to bombard Carthagena from the harbour, whilst he assailed it on land; but Vernon replied that he could not get near enough to attack the town effectually, and that Wentworth must attempt the reduction of the Fort San Lazaro, which commanded the town, and might be taken by escalade. This was[76] attempted, and while our men were thus standing under a murderous fire, they discovered, to their consternation, that their scaling ladders were too short. But the escalade was persisted in: they remained splicing their ladders, and a detachment of Grenadiers, under Colonel Grant, reached the top of a rampart; but Grant was instantly killed, and the Grenadiers hurled back over the wall. Still, the bull-dog spirit of the English made them persist in this desperate attempt, till six hundredthat is, half of them, lay dead, when they drew off.

It was upon this very able report of Mr. Nicholls that the Irish Poor Law was based. After undergoing much consideration, it was finally adopted by the Government on the 13th of December, 1836, and on the following day he was directed to have a Bill prepared, embodying all his recommendations. This was accordingly done; and after being scrutinised, clause by clause, in a committee of the Cabinet specially appointed for the purpose, and receiving various emendations, the Bill was introduced on the 13th of February, 1837, by Lord John Russell, then Home Secretary, and Leader of the House of Commons. His speech on the occasion was able and comprehensive. "It appears," he said, "from the testimony both of theory and experience, that when a country is[406] overrun by marauders and mendicants having no proper means of subsistence, but preying on the industry and relying on the charity of others, the introduction of a Poor Law serves several very important objects. In the first place, it acts as a measure of peace, enabling the country to prohibit vagrancy, which is so often connected with outrage, by offering a substitute to those who rely on vagrancy and outrage as a means of subsistence. When an individual or a family is unable to obtain subsistence, and is without the means of living from day to day, it would be unjust to say they shall not go about and endeavour to obtain from the charity of the affluent that which circumstances have denied to themselves. But when you can say to such persons, 'Here are the means of subsistence offered to you'when you can say this on the one hand, you may, on the other hand, say, 'You are not entitled to beg, you shall no longer infest the country in a manner injurious to its peace, and liable to imposition and outrage.'" Another way, he observed, in which a Poor Law is beneficial is, that it is a great promoter of social concord, by showing a disposition in the State and in the community to attend to the welfare of all classes. It is of use also by interesting the landowners and persons of property in the welfare of their tenants and neighbours. A landowner who looks only to receiving the rent of his estate may be regardless of the numbers in his neighbourhood who are in a state of destitution, or who follow mendicancy and are ready to commit crime; but if he is compelled to furnish means for the subsistence of those persons so destitute, it then becomes his interest to see that those around him have the means of living, and are not in actual want. He considered that these objects, and several others collateral to them, were attained in England by the Act of Elizabeth. Almost the greatest benefit that could be conferred on a country was, he observed, a high standard of subsistence for the labouring classes; and such a benefit was secured for England chiefly by the Quest Act of Elizabeth. Lord John Russell then alluded to the abuses which subsequently arose, and to the correction of those abuses then in progress under the provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act, and said that we ought to endeavour to obtain for Ireland all the good effects of the English system, and to guard against the evils which had arisen under it.