[See larger version] When the House met again, Pitt moved for leave to bring in his Bill for the better government and management of the affairs of the East India Company. He was aware, he said, how certain men would triumph when he informed them that he had based his intended measures on the resolutions of the proprietors of India stock. He was so miserably irresolute, he said, as not to venture on a Bill founded on violence and disfranchisement. He was so weak as to pay respect to chartered rights; and he had not disdained, in proposing a new system of government, to consult those who had the greatest interest in the matter, as well as the most experience in it. These were all hard hits at Fox and his party. In his Bill he went on the principle of placing the commerce of India chiefly under the control of the Company itself; but the civil and military government, he admitted, required some other control than that of the Company, yet even this, in his opinion, ought to be established in accordance with the convictions of the Company. In truth, it was a Bill rather calculated to win the good will of the East India Company than to reform the abuses of that body and to protect the interests of the natives. Fox, with as much truth as personal feeling, designated the Bill as the wisdom of an individual opposed to the collective wisdom of the Commons of England.

But matters had greatly changed at Calcutta before this. Maclean did not present the letter of resignation till October, 1776; but, in September of that year, Colonel Monson had died, and, the members in the Council being now equal, the Governor-General's casting vote restored to him his lost majority. Hastings was not the man to defer for a moment the exercise of his authority. He began instantly to overturn, in spite of their most violent efforts, the measures of Francis and friends. He dismissed Goordas from the chief authority in Oude, and reinstated his "dear friend, Nat Middleton," as he familiarly termed him. He revived his land revenue system, and was planning new and powerful alliances with native princes, especially with the Nabob of Oude, and the Nizam of the Deccan, not omitting to cast a glance at the power of the Sikhs, whose dangerous ascendency he already foresaw. In the midst of these and other grand plans for the augmentation of British power in Indiaplans afterwards carried out by othershe was suddenly astounded by the arrival of a packet in June, 1777, containing the news of his resignation, and of its acceptance by the Directors. He at once protested that it was invalid, as he had countermanded the resignation before its presentation; but General Clavering, as next in succession, at once claimed the office of Governor-General, and Francis, in Council, administered the oath to him. Clavering immediately demanded the keys of the fort and the treasury from Hastings; but that gentleman refused to admit his own resignation, much less Clavering's election to his post. Here, then, were two would-be Governor-Generals, as Europe had formerly seen two conflicting Popes. To end the difficulty, Hastings proposed that the decision of the question should be referred to the Supreme Court. It is wonderful that Clavering and Francis should have consented to this, seeing that Impey, Hastings' friend, and the judge of Nuncomar, was at the head of that Court; but it was done, and the Court decided in Hastings' favour. No sooner was Hastings thus secured, than he charged Clavering with having forfeited both his place in the Council, and his post as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, by attempting to seize on the Governor-Generalship. Clavering and Francis were compelled to appeal once more to the Supreme Court, and this time, to his honour, Impey decided in favour of Clavering. Clavering, who had been deeply mortified by his defeat, died a few days after this occurred, in August, 1777. By this event the authority of Hastings in the government was sufficiently restored, notwithstanding that Wheler generally sided with Francis, for him to carry his own aims. But all this could not have prevailed with Bernadottewho leaned fondly and tenaciously towards France from old associationshad not the unbearable pride, insolence, and domineering spirit of Napoleon repelled him, and finally decided his course. So late as March, 1811, Bernadotte used this language to M. Alquier, the French ambassador, when pressed by him to decide for France:"I must have NorwayNorway which Sweden desires, and which desires to belong to Sweden, and I can obtain it through another power than France." "From England, perhaps?" interposed the ambassador. "Well, yes, from England; but I protest that I only desire to adhere to the Emperor. Let his majesty give me Norway; let the Swedish people believe that I owe to him that mark of protection, and I will guarantee all the changes that he desires in the system and government of Sweden. I promise him fifty thousand men, ready equipped by the end of May, and ten thousand more by July. I will lead them wherever he wishes. I will execute any enterprise that he may direct. Behold that western point of Norway. It is separated from England only by a sail of twenty-four hours, with a wind which scarcely ever varies. I will go there if he wishes!"

In June Massena advanced, and laid siege to Ciudad Rodrigo. This was almost within sight of Wellington's lines. The town was defended by a Spanish garrison, and Wellington was called upon to co-operate by attacking the besiegers. This he offered to do if Romana would undertake to prevent the march of Regnier from Estremadura on his rear the while; but Romana would not undertake to maintain himself against Regnier if the British force under General Hill crossed the Tagus. Wellington, whose object was to defend Portugal and not Spain, therefore lay still; and the Spaniards, after a brave defence, were compelled to capitulate on the 10th of July. Then there was a wild cry of indignation raised against Wellington by the Spaniards, and even by his own officers, that he should see a place taken from our allies, under his very eyes, and not attempt to relieve it. The French taunted him with it in the Moniteur, and regarded it as a great sign of his weakness. But none of these things moved Wellington. He knew what he had to dowhich was to defend Portugaland he had made his plans for doing it; but this was not by exposing his small army in any situation to which the Spanish chose to call him, while, at the same time, they declined to co-operate with him. He soon had the division of Marshal Ney upon his outposts, where he fell in with our light division under General Craufurd. Wellington had ordered that, on attack, Craufurd should retire on the main body in order, because he did not wish to reduce his small numbers in skirmishes, but to reserve them for favourable occasions; but Craufurd, being hotly pursued, turned and gave the French a severe rebuff, killing and wounding above one thousand of Massena's men. Craufurd, having driven the French back three times, made a masterly passage, by a bridge, over the Coa, and joined the main army. As Ministers did not resign on being placed in a minority the third time, rumours were industriously circulated by their opponents that they meant to rule the country despotically; that they were about to dissolve Parliament the second time, and had resolved to maintain the army on their[381] own responsibility, without the Mutiny Act. On the 2nd of March Lord John Russell, referring to these rumours, gave notice that he intended to bring forward the Irish Appropriation question, and the question of Municipal Reform. It was for a test of this kind that Sir Robert Peel waited. In the meantime he denied that he had any such intentions as those ascribed to him, and compelled Mr. Hume to withdraw his proposal to limit the supplies to three months. He promised that Government would bring in a Bill on the Irish Church; but it would adhere strictly to the principle that ecclesiastical property should be reserved for ecclesiastical purposes. He declared they would be prepared to remedy all real abuses when the report of the Commissioners appointed for their investigation was received.

About four months passed happily away, when another event occurred which was very near furnishing a startling illustration of the truth that there is no certain tenure of human happiness. On the night of Wednesday, the 10th of June, London was agitated by a report of an attempt upon the life of the Queen. Next day an investigation took place at the Home Office, from which the public and the reporters of the daily press were excluded. The following are the facts:At a quarter past six on Wednesday evening, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Albert, left Buckingham Palace, in a very low, open phaeton, to take her customary drive in Hyde Park before dinner. The carriage had proceeded a short distance up the road when a young man, who had been standing with his back to the Green Park fence, advanced to within a few yards of the carriage, and deliberately fired at the Queen. The postilions paused for an instant. The Prince ordered them, in a loud voice, to drive on. "I have got another!" exclaimed the assassin, who discharged a second pistol, aimed at the carriage, which also proved harmless. The Queen and the Prince went as far as Hyde Park Corner, and then turned to the Duchess of Kent's mansion, in Belgrave Square. Meanwhile, the assassin remained near the spot, leaning against the park fence, with the weapons in his hand. Several persons laid hold of him, and he was conveyed by two policemen to the Gardener's Lane station-house. After staying a short time with the Duchess of Kent, in Belgrave Square, the Queen and her husband proceeded to Hyde Park, where an immense concourse of persons, of all ranks and both sexes, had congregated. The reception of the royal pair was so enthusiastic as almost to overpower the self-possession of the Queen. They soon returned to Buckingham Palace, attended by a vast number of the nobility and gentry, in carriages and on horseback. A multitude of persons collected at the entrance to the palace, and vehemently cheered the Queen, who, though pale and agitated, repeatedly bowed and smiled in return. Here the Americans assert that when the minute-men did not retire on the first order, the English fired on them and killed eight of them. The English, on the other hand, declare that the Americans, in retiring, no sooner reached the shelter of a wall than they fired on the British; that the firing came also from some adjoining houses, and shot one man, and wounded Major Pitcairn's horse in two places; that then the English were ordered to fire, that they killed several, wounded others, and put the body, about a hundred in number, to flight. By this time the alarm had spread, the minute-men came running from all places, and as the English, having executed their commission, began to retire, the Americans shouted, "The lobsters run!" The minute-men now rushed over the bridge after them, and firing from behind trees and walls, killed a considerable number of them. The Americansexcellent shots with their riflescould only be seen by the smoke of these rifles, and the English, tired with their long night march, instead of halting to hunt them out, kept on their way towards Lexington. The whole march was of this description: the English, unable to get a good shot at their enemies, the minute-men pressing on their rear, still sheltered by trees and walls. The result would have been more disastrous had not General Gage sent on to Lexington another detachment of foot and marines, consisting of about sixteen companies, under command of Lord Percy. In this first bloodshed between the colonists and the mother country, the British found they had lost sixty killed, forty-nine missing, and one hundred and thirty-six wounded.[218] The Americans admitted that they had a loss of sixty, of whom two-thirds were killed.

The middle classes at that time, bent on the acquisition of Parliamentary Reform, were anxious that the movement should be conducted strictly within the bounds of legality, and without producing any social disorders. There was, however, a class of agitators who inflamed popular discontent by throwing the blame of the existing distress on machinery, on capitalists, and on the Government. This course of conduct served to encourage mobs of thieves and ruffians both in town and country, who brought disgrace upon the cause of Reform, and gave a pretext for charging the masses of the people with a lawless spirit and revolutionary tendencies. Carlile and Cobbett were the chief incendiaries. Both were brought to trial; Carlile was fined 2,000 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, but Cobbett was acquitted as the jury were unable to agree.