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lightly, in his presence, without calling forth the natural, perhaps generous, energy and better eloquence of the man, in place of the wretched oratory of the politician, and making the blood mantle in his usually pale cheek. Mr. Hone, the publisher, since distinguished more reputably by his curious researches as a literary antiquarian, defended himself chiefly on the ground that such parodies had the negative sanction of uniform toleration ; cited several which had appeared at various periods, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries; and was acquitted. The trial took place before Mr. Justice Abbot, who had just been raised to the bench. There were still two more indictments remaining against Mr. Hone. Lord Ellenborough took the place of Mr. Justice Abbot on the second day ; and upon the opening of the trial, interdicted Mr. Hone from pursuing the same line of defence. Blas. phemy, he said, like other offences, derived no sanction or protection from previous impunity. It was expected that the greater experience, firmness, and authority of the chief justice, would impose silence upon the accused, and obtain a conviction from the jury. In the course of an unceasing worrying struggle of several hours between the accused and the judge, the former succeeded in throwing out fragments of his obnoxious defence, sometimes by artifice, sometimes by clamour, and a second verdict of “ Not guilty” was returned. The chief justice next day appeared exhausted and depressed; the contest between him and the accused was on his part more languid, and there was a third verdict of acquittal. Lord Ellenborough never re
covered the shock given to his health, and mortification to his spirit, in these remarkable trials; and the ministry was exposed to fresh odium and contempt.
This disastrous year would have been marked as unhallowed, with solemn acts of expiation, in the annals of pagan Rome. It closed with an event which struck the nation to the heart. On the 6th of November, the princess Charlotte of Wales died in a few hours after having given birth to a stillborn child. It would have been impossible for this princess, had she lived, to realise the hopes which she inspired. Men naturally seek refuge from the disgusts of the present, in their visions of the future. Never was sorrow more universal and sin
Her death was felt at every fireside as a domestic calamity. On the 18th of November, her remains were conveyed from Claremont to Windsor, there to repose within the dismal magnificence of the royal vault in St. George's Chapel.
The sixth and last session of the existing parliament was opened by commission, on the 27th of January, 1818.
Whether parental grief or conventional decorum had the greater share in the regent's abstinence from appearing as the first figure in a ceremonial which had such charms for him, that, rather than renounce it, he exposed himself to the licentious humour of the populace, was made a question at the time. The loss of an only child in the bloom of youth and hope is among the most afflicting incidents of mortality; and it so affected the regent, that copious bleeding was judged necessary,to prevent the shock which he had received from endangering his life. The desolation of his domestic hearth, — the sense of holding a “ barren sceptre in his hand,” might be expected to strip royalty of its pomp, and society of its enjoyments, in his eyes, for a long time to come. But the princess was scarcely three months consigned to the tomb, when the public was scandalised by learning that the regent, giving way to exulting spirits, or a vanity out of season, exhibited his accomplishments in music at the Prussian ambassador's table by singing a song.
The death of the princess was referred to in the
speech of the commissioners with little
of pression or feeling. This document was chiefly remarkable for the sanguine tone in which the ministers congratulated the nation and themselves, on the return of public prosperity and quiet. It concluded with a recommendation that additional churches should be built, “ to meet the increased and increasing population of the country,” and promote “ the religious and moral habits of the people.” The address in the house of lords was unanimously agreed to. In the house of commons it was agreed to without a division, but not without animadversion. The system of demoralising espionnage, arbitrary imprisonment, and unwarrantable state prosecutions for treason, pursued by ministers in the north of England, and in Scotland, was exposed with great force by lord Althorp and sir Samuel Romilly, and vindicated by the attorney-general (Shepherd), in what was regarded an unfortunate defence.
On the following day, lord Sidmouth brought in a bill to repeal the habeas corpus suspension act; and, in order to expedite its progress, the standing orders of the house of lords were suspended. Lord Holland said he considered the act about to be repealed a great public calamity. “Believing," said he, “as I most firmly do that the habeas corpus,-a right of the people, equal to that of your lordships to sit and vote in this house, and of the king to the exercise of his sovereign prerogatives, - has been suspended upon garbled, tainted, and ex parte evidence, I am not satisfied with the simple repeal of that act, without a previous and solemn enquiry into the circumstances under which it was passed.” Lord Sidmouth,
in reply, reasserted the existence of a treasonable conspiracy, the necessity and benefits of the suspension, the wisdom and vigour of his own conduct; and the repeal bill, carried through its several stages the same evening, was sent to the commons. It was received, and carried through all its stages by the house of commons, with equal rapidity, in the course of the night. Secret papers
under seal in green bags were once more presented by viscounts Sidmouth and Castlereagh to the lords and commons, on the 2d and 5th of February, and, after some conversation rather than debate, referred as before to secret committees. The object of these papers was well known before it was avowed. “I must,” said lord Castlereagh, “ frankly state, that I think a bill of indemnity necessary.” Mr. Tierney treated this clumsy proceeding with great point and humour.
6 The ministers,” said he,“ know that, by their procedings in the last year, they have during the last months, been making out a prima facie case against themselves, in the mind of every man in the country; and now they want a case made out for them, and that under the sanction of a committee of secrecy. The noble lord, with the candour of which he gives such frequent examples, says, he should have no objection to a bill of indemnity. No one will doubt, without this candour, that he wishes for a bill of indemnity if he can get it; and to this end he proposes a committee, chosen by ballot, to sit on the papers in this bag. Why, this was one of the coarsest juggles which had ever been played off upon mankind. How had the secretary of state acted ? He