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fleet and arsenal - silenced the batteries - killed about 7000 of the Algerines, who, on the whole, fought resolutely - lost on his side, Dutch and British, 883 killed or wounded and imposed on the dey as chief conditions of peace, the abolition of Christian slavery for ever, and the delivery to the British flag of all slaves within the dominions of the dey, to whatever nation belonging, on the following morning.
It was proclaimed in the speech from the throne at the opening of the session, that “the manufactures, commerce, and revenue of the united kingdom were in a flourishing state.” Ministers, in this announcement, proved an equal want of candour and capacity. There was distress at the time to an extent which nothing but presumptuous effrontery would attempt to disguise; and its workings and phenomena were such as would have discovered to persons ordinarily sagacious, that instead of being checked, it must terminate in a severe and perilous crisis. But the government of that period was, with the exception of one man, constituted of persons of a vulgar order of mind, -subaltern politicians, whose chief qualification was routine experience as administrators. They received credit for grand results produced, not by political genius, of which they were destitute, but by extrinsic circumstances and events. Suppose them for a moment judged by the standard of their successes, and this absurdity follows-that the names of Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Vansittart, should descend to posterity as the representative signs of a greater quantity of intellect than those of Pitt, Grenville, and Dundas.
The pressure in the course of the summer was equally grievous upon agriculture and manufactures. The burden of taxes, rent, and tithes continued undiminished; whilst the factitious war prices of land produce fell, and the landholder was ruined. An over-production of manufacturing labour, deprived of the war monopoly of the foreign market, was disposed of at a ruinous sacrifice, or left hands of the producer ; and the manufacturing capitalist was reduced to inaction, the labourer to starvation. The ancient cant of religion and social order had fallen into disrepute; the more recent appeals to military glory and the peace of Europe would not bear repetition in the midst of suffering, complaint, and raging discontent; and the ministers invented a new fallacy, which they expressed by a new phrase
66 the transition from war to peace.” The simple fact was, that the nation now found itself called upon to pay the price of its glory, and of having restored Louis XVIII.
An inclement season and bad harvest filled up the measure of public calamity. Serious tumults, and nocturnal outrages the most daring and criminal, took place in the agricultural districts of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Norfolk, and Suffolk; and in the manufacturing districts of Warwickshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire, and South Wales. The distressed workmen, banding themselves into disorderly and formidable bodies, violated the public peace by their tumultuous proceedings, or appealed to the public compassion by presenting themselves - a melancholy sight — yoked like brute animals to loaded waggons, which they drew from town to town.
There was a natural and urgent call for retrenchment in the public service, and for the abolition of useless charges. Ministers were obstinately opposed to economical reform. This was ascribed, partly to their individual and family interests, but still more to a placed and pensioned oligarchy, which tyrannised over the ministers as well as the country, through the fallacious and corrupt constitution of the house of commons; and a prayer for parliamentary reform figured in many of the petitions on the state of public distress. The most frank and energetic of these remonstrances, was that of the common hall of London to the prince regent. The citizens in their petition conveyed a severe lesson to the regent, upon “ immense subsidies to foreign powers to defend their own territories, or make aggressions on those of others," —
enormous sums paid for unmerited pensions and sinecures,” an unconstitutional and unnecessary military force in time of peace," "overwhelming taxation," -“ lavish expenditure,' “ all arising from the inadequate and corrupt state of the repre. presentation.” This address must have deeply wounded the regent; but the expressions of stern rebuke, and the rude sulkiness of manner with which he replied to it, were ungracious and unwarrantable. In reading the answer, he pointed his resentment by emphasis, pauses, and frowns ; and having concluded it, he turned upon his heel, without allowing those whom he addressed the usual and absurd courtesy of kissing his hand. The court of common council retaliated, by recording
the answer in their proceedings, with a censure upon the ministers who advised it.
In London, the general distress of the time was chiefly felt by the Spitalfields weavers; who, of the manufacturing population of the metropolis, are the most formidable for their spirit, density, and organisation. A petition, professing to be from a meeting of the workmen of this quarter, to the regent, was forwarded through lord Sidmouth, the home secretary, about the middle of November ; and an adjourned meeting to hear the result, was fixed for the following 2d of December, to be held in an open space called Spafields, on the north-eastern outskirts of the metropolis. Whilst at this adjourned meeting a person of some notoriety, named Hunt, was haranguing the meeting from a waggon at one point, another orator from his waggon at another addressed his section of the multitude declaimed on the insensibility of the regent to their sufferings - jumped down from his rostrum — called upon his hearers to follow him was followed by a disorderly rabble, bearing inscribed banners and tri-coloured cockades - rushed through several leading streets of the city - plundered a few gunsmiths' shops of firearms — passed in at one and out at another gate of the royal exchange, leaving three prisoners behind them, locked in — made what may be called mock demonstrations of an attack upon the bank and tower - excited for a time the terrors ot' an insurrection — and, after being foiled by the defensive police of the city, separated and dissolved in their own weakness. The lord mayor (Wood) and a few other magistrates performed their duty with great
promptitude and effect. About half a dozen of the rioters were arrested in the course of the day. Two persons only, named Watson, father and son, apothecaries, as it proved, in very reduced circumstances, had any pretensions to respectability or intelligence. The father was apprehended; but the son, described as the person who called upon
the rabble to follow him, and who grievously wounded an individual during the plunder of a gunsmith's shop, effected his escape to America. Never was attempt at political insurrection, whether premeditated or improvised, more crazy and contemptible.
The opening of the year 1817 was truly dismal. A rise in the price of corn, produced by a bad harvest, gave the landholders a faint, melancholy, and even doubtful advantage; whilst it aggravated starvation into famine in the manufacturing districts. Voluntary benevolence did all that could be expected of the most humane and generous people, by public subscription and private relief; but the evil far exceeded its utmost limits. Acts of lawless violence and tumultuary desperation continued unabated, and, it may be said, unchecked. The ministers appeared rather to observe the popular movements, than employ the force placed at their disposal by the law of the land. The chief, if not the only exception, was the trial at the Old Bailey of Watson the elder, and three persons named Preston, Cashman, and Hooper, on a capital charge as Spafields insurgents. Cashman only was convicted. He was a reckless, desolate, Irish sailor, scarcely conscious of the crime into which he had been drawn by distress and the braggart declamations of vulgar sedi