Government now resorted to vigorous measures; the Chartist leaders were brought to trial, and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. At a meeting of the National Convention held on the 14th of September, it was moved by Mr. O'Brien, and seconded by Dr. Taylor, that the Convention be dissolved. On a division, the numbers were for the dissolution eleven; against it eleven. The chairman gave his casting vote in favour of the dissolution. It was thereupon hoped, and, indeed, publicly declared by the Attorney-General, that Chartism was extinct and would never again be revived. It soon appeared, however, that this was a delusion, and that a most formidable attempt at revolution by force of arms had been planned with great care and secrecy, and on a comprehensive scale, the principal leader being a justice of the peace. Among the new borough magistrates made by the Whigs after the passing of the Reform Bill was Mr. John Frost, a linendraper at Newport. At the beginning of the Chartist agitation in 1838 Mr. Frost attended a meeting in that town, when he made a violent speech, for which he was reprimanded by the Home Secretary. But this warning was far from having the desired effect. During the autumn of 1839 he entered into a conspiracy with two other leadersJones, a watchmaker, of Pontypool, and Williams, of the Royal Oak Inn, in the parish of Aberystwithto take possession of the town of Newport, which was to be the signal for a simultaneous rising of the Chartists in Birmingham and in all other parts of the kingdom. But the weather was unfavourable and the night was dark. The divisions under the command of Jones and Williams failed to arrive at the appointed time, and the party under the command of Frost himself was late. The intention was to surprise Newport at about midnight on Sunday, the 3rd of November; but owing to the wetness of the weather it was not till ten o'clock on Monday morning that the insurgents entered the town in two divisions, one headed by Frost, and another by his son, a youth of fourteen or fifteen. They were armed with guns, pistols, pikes, swords, and heavy clubs. The mayor, Mr. Thomas Philips, apprised of their approach, had taken prompt measures for the defence of the place.

Joseph, in the face of these things, passed an edict sequestrating all the abbeys in Brabant. The States of Brabant therefore refused the voting of any subsidies, and Joseph, irritated to deeper blindness, determined to abolish the Great Charter entitled the Joyeuse Entre, so called because granted on the entry of Philip the Good into Brussels, and on which nearly all their privileges rested. To compel them to vote a permanent subsidy, the military surrounded the States of Hainault, forcibly dissolved their sitting, and then calling an extraordinary meeting of the States of Brabant, Trautmansdorff ordered them to pass an Act sanctioning such a subsidy. But the deputies remained firm, and thereupon the Joyeuse Entre was annulled by proclamation, and the House of Assembly dissolved. Joseph vowed that he would extinguish the rebellion in blood, and reduce the Netherlands to the same despotism which ruled all his other states, except Hungary and the Tyrol.

(From the Picture by Franz Defregger.)

On the 15th of March he took a more decided position of hostility to the Cabinet, by moving for an inquiry into the state of the navy. The Earl St. Vincent was now First Lord of the Admiralty, and he proved quite incompetent. Many gunboats had been broken up from motives of economy, and naval stores sold, for the most part, to the French. Pitt declared that only twenty-three gunboats had been built since January, 1803, and that the whole management of the navy was inert. [65]

During this time Britain was suffering severely from the effects of the war. The nation was indignant under the disgrace of the complete defeat of its army on the Continent, at the defection of those very Allies who had been so profusely subsidised, at the perfidy by which these despot Powers had made Britain the efficient party in the dismemberment of Poland, and at the heavy taxes imposed in consequence. Political meetings were held in most large towns and in the metropolis, expressing the most decided disapprobation of the policy of Ministers and at the refusal of all reforms. At the end of June a monster meeting had been held in St. George's Fields, and on the 26th of October, another, of fifty thousand people, near Copenhagen House, at which the lately prosecuted but acquitted agitators, Thelwall, Gale Jones, and others, were the speakers. The numbers and tone of these meetings, which were accompanied with loud cries of "Bread! Bread!" and "Down with Pitt!" greatly alarmed Government, and there was a summons of Parliament at the unusually early date of October 29th, only three days after the meeting in Copenhagen Fields. On going to the House to open the session, the kingwho had become very unpopular from his eager support of the war, and his going about saying, "The French won't leave a single crowned head in Europe!"was shot at with an air-gun in Margaret Street, opposite to the Ordnance Office, the ball from which passed through the windows of the carriage, between his Majesty and the Earl of Westmoreland. The king on entering the House, exclaimed to the Lord Chancellor, "My lord, I have been shot at!" As the king returned, he was again furiously hissed; there was the same vociferous shouting of "Bread! Bread!" and "No Pitt!" Stones were thrown at the royal carriage; and, in the haste and confusion to escape into the palace of St. James's, one of the royal grooms was thrown to the ground, and had his thigh broken. The king got into a private coach to regain Buckingham House, where his family was; but he was recognised, and pursued by the same cries of "Bread! Bread!" and "Peace!" That evening the king, who had[449] behaved throughout with great courage, accompanied the queen and three of his daughters to Covent Garden Theatre, where he was received with zealous acclamations; the actors sang "God save the king!" three times over. Some of the people in the gallery were, however, pretty vehement in their hisses, but were attacked and turned out.

But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed[239] his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men.

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