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The gulf between the Minister and the landowners was widening. The debates on the Budget, and on Mr. Cobden's motion for inquiry into the alleged agricultural distress, had drawn out more bitter speeches from Mr. Disraeli, and served still further to mark the distinction between the Minister and a large section of his old followers. But one of the most significant signs of the time was the increasing tendency to recognise the talents and singleness of purpose of the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers. It became almost fashionable to compliment the ability of Mr. Cobden. It was almost forgotten that the Minister had once carried with him the whole House in making an excited charge against that gentleman of marking him out for assassination. The bitterness of the ultra-Protectionists was certainly unabated; but neither the Quarterly nor any other review now classed the Manchester men with rick-burners and assassins, or called upon the Government to indict them for sedition.

The growth of material wealth during this reign had in no degree improved the condition of the working class in any proportion to that of other classes. Landlords had greatly raised their rents, and farmers, by the high price of corn and other provisions, had grown comparatively rich, many very rich. The merchants and master manufacturers had shared liberally in the benefits of a vastly increased commerce, and the wonderful spread of manufactures; but the working manufacturers, between the high price of corn and meat, and the lowness of their wages, were in a miserable condition, and frequently, as we have seen, were driven to riot and insurrection. The handloom weavers were swamped by machinery, and those working the machinery were living in wretched houses, and in a most neglected and insanitary condition. Before the first Sir Robert Peel introduced his Bill for reforming the hours and other regulations of cotton mills, many of these worked night and day, one gang, as it was called, succeeding another at the spinning-jenny, in hot, ill-ventilated rooms. Apprentices were purchased of parishes, either children of paupers, or orphans of such, and these were kept by mill-owners, and worked long hours, one gang having to quit their beds in the morning for another gang of these poor unfortunates to turn into them. The agricultural labourers were little better off. Their habitations were of the worst description, though squires' kennels on the same estates were equal, in all sanitary conditions, to tolerable mansions. Their wages remained only some eight or ten shillings a weekwhen the wheat which they had raised was one hundred and thirty shillings per quarter, and a stone of flour of fourteen pounds cost a gold seven-shilling piece. This drove them in shoals to the workhouse, and produced a state of things that is hardly credible. Their mental and moral condition was equally deplorable. Education, either in town or country, was scarcely known. There was not a school in all the swarming region[158] of Whitechapel, and many another equally poor and populous region of London, much less in country towns and agricultural parishes. It was a settled maxim amongst the landed gentry, that education, even of the most elementary kind, would totally destroy the supply of servants; and it was gravely stated in Parliament that the plot of Thistlewood was owing to the working classes being able to read.

When he entered Portugal Massena issued a proclamation, informing the Portuguese that the British were the troublers and mischief-makers of Europe, and that they were there only for their own objects of ambition, and calling on the inhabitants to receive the French as their friends and saviours. Lord Wellington issued a counter-proclamation, remarking that the Portuguese had had too much occasion to learn what sort of friends the French were; that they had learned it by the robbery of their property, their brutality towards the women, and oppression of all classes. He called on them, as the sole means of rescue, to resist to the death; and he ordered them, as the British army retired from Lisbon, to withdraw from their towns and villages, carrying whatever they could with them, so that the enemy might find no means of support. This was part of his great plan; and he assured the Portuguese that those who stayed behind after their magistrates had ordered them to withdraw should receive no assistance from him; and that whoever was found holding any communication with the enemy should be deemed a traitor, and treated accordingly.

The English lay all night on their arms, and, as day dawned, began to entrench their position. If ever a general needed to push on his advantage it was now. Every day was consuming Burgoyne's stores; every day was augmenting the forces of the enemy. The country was closed to Burgoyne; it was open with all its resources to the Americans. Yet he lay there, as if paralysed, from the 20th of September to the 7th of October. The reason of this fatal delay is said to have been that Burgoyne had received a letter from General Sir Henry Clinton at New York, informing him that he must expect no co-operation from General Howe, but that he himself would take the responsibility of making a diversion in his favour by attacking the Forts Montgomery and Clinton, on the lower part of the Hudson. Burgoyne, on receiving this intelligence, sent Clinton word that he would remain where he was till the 12th of Octobera fatal resolve, as a calculation of his stores should have shown him, which the acts of the Americans were certain to render calamitous. Elated at being able to stand their ground in some degree, this novel and almost sole success in the war had raised the spirits of the Colonials as by a miracle. They poured in on all sides, and Arnold, ever ready in resource, suggested to Gates an enterprise to be effected while Burgoyne was lying still and consuming his own victuals. Meeting of ParliamentLord Chatham's Amendment to the AddressThe News of SaratogaTreaty between France and AmericaWashington in Valley ForgeIntrigues against himViolation of Burgoyne's ConventionDebates in ParliamentAttempt to bring Chatham into the MinistryLord North's Conciliation BillsThe French NotePatriotism of the NationThe King refuses to send for ChathamHis last Speech and DeathHonours to his MemoryBurke's Measure of Irish ReliefRepeal of Laws against Roman CatholicsExplosion of Scottish BigotryTurgot's WarningsNaval Engagement off UshantFailure of Lafayette's Canadian ExpeditionClinton compelled to evacuate PhiladelphiaFailure of Lord North's CommissionersD'Estaing and Sullivan attempt to take Rhode IslandSubsequent Proceedings of D'EstaingCourts-martial of Keppel and PalliserThe Irish VolunteersSpain declares WarMilitary PreparationsJunction of the French and Spanish FleetsThey retire from the ChannelD'Estaing in the West IndiesHis Attempt on SavannahWeakness of Lord North's MinistryMeeting of ParliamentLord North's Irish BillRichmond, Shelburne, and Burke attempt Economic ReformsThe Meeting at York petitions for Reform of ParliamentBurke's Economic SchemeNorth's Man?uvreFurther Attempts at ReformThe Westminster MeetingDunning's MotionDefeat of his later Resolutions"No Popery" in ScotlandLord George Gordon's AgitationThe Riots and their ProgressTheir SuppressionTrial of the PrisonersRodney relieves GibraltarDestruction of English MerchantmenDisputes with HollandThe Armed Neutrality of the NorthCapture of CharlestonDeclaration of South CarolinaBattle of CamdenExpedition into North CarolinaArrival of the French SquadronRodney in the West IndiesArnold's TreacheryTrial and Death of AndrBreach with HollandAttacks on Jersey and GibraltarMutiny in the Army of WashingtonArnold's Raids in VirginiaCornwallis in North CarolinaHis Engagements with GreeneHis March into VirginiaRawdon and GreeneBattle of Eutaw SpringsSiege of York TownThe American Armies close round himCornwallis compelled to Surrender.