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master, to “the busts which are sold in Red Lion-street, and are said to be the busts of Prince Charles."' * The brother of the unhappy prince had been named a cardinal in 1747; and this was considered by Charles and his friends as a fatal barrier to the restoration of the House of Stuart to the throne of Protestant Great Britain-an event more fatal than the defeat of Culloden.t
The measures of the English government in relation to Scot. land were of much greater importance to the security of the House of Brunswick, than the humiliation of Charles Edward, or the dedication to the papacy of Cardinal York. The pacification of the Highlands was gradually being accomplished Ly a series of enactments, one of which was of unquestionable public benefit. Tlie disarming Act of 1748, and that for the abolition of the Highland dress, might be regarded as unnecessary severities, and as sources of national irritation. But the great measure for the abolition of heritable jurisdictions was open to no objection beyond the complaints of a few int rested nobles. It was carefully considered by , the law authorities of England, and was carried through under the advice of the Scottish Court of Session. The sum of a hundred and fifty thousand pounds was wisely expended in buying up the emoluments which great and petty chiefs of clans derived from the exercise of their arbitrary and dangerous powers. The Sheriff Courts were taken as the foundation of local tribunals where justice should be administered by responsible judges. The exclusive privileges which were thus abolished destroyed that power which, whether it be regarded as feudal or patriarchal, was a real tyranny, as dangerous to the State as oppressive to the people. There was one indication of an attempt to revive the disaffection of the Highland chiefs. In 1753, the execution of Dr. Archibald Cameron, upon a previous attainder, renewed some of the odium which attached to the severities of 1746. He had not come to Scotland solely upon his private affairs, as alleged, but “to inquire about a considerable sum of money which had been remitted from France to the friends of the exiled family," and he had a commission to hold intercourse with M’Pherson of Cluny, who kept up the correspondence between Charles Edward and his friends. Sir Walter Scott, who relates these circumstances, holds that the execution of Dr. Cameron might have been justified upon reasons of a public nature, had the king's ministers thought it prudent to develop the channel of information which they possessed as to the plots of Charles Edward. "Anecdotes," p. 196.
+ See Note, at the end of this chapter. * Introduction to " Redgauntlet."
The termination of the war was publicly celebrated as if it had been the glorious result of sagacious counsels and military bravery. On the 27th of April, 1749, there was an unequalled display of fireworks in the Green Park Handel composed a grand overture of warlike instruments. An Italian artist designed a temple, a hundred and fourteen feet high, with statues and pictures-heathen gods and cardinal virtues; Neptune drawn by sea-horses; Mars drawn by three lions. The king was recorded in Latin inscriptions as having given peace to Europe, secured the faith of treaties, restored and enlarged commerce. Britannia joined hands with France and Spain, in renewed concord and for mutual benefit. The people were pleased, and cared little for caricatures in which the fire-works were called “ The grand whim for posterity to laugh at.” But the shouts of the multitude were not echoed in Parlia. ment. Mr. Pelham, who carried political candour somewhat beyond the point of prudence, spoke of the necessity for this peace in a tone which indicated very much of that prostration of national spirit of which there were too many evidences at this particular period. In a speech on the 5th of February, 1750, in reply to a motion of lord Egmont on the article of the treaty of Aix-laChapelle respecting Dunkirk, Mr. Pellam, as head of the Administration, said that the wonder was that England could have obtained such good terms as she did : that another campaign would have made the French masters of the Dutch provinces ; that if the Dutch had joined France in alliance against this country, we should not long have preserved our superiority at sea, “ the loss of which would soon have put an end to our sitting here, to debate about the demolition of Dunkirk, or any other point relating to the honour or interest of Great Britain." This timid minister even went farther in the course of this speech : " I think myself in duty bound to declare, that in our present loaded condition, when the people are so burdened with taxes, and most of those taxes mortgaged for the payment of debts, it is my opinion, that we are not able to stand single and alone in a war against the whole House of Bourbon ; and the circumstances of Europe are such at present, that it would be impossible for us to form a confederacy upon the continent that would not be a burden rather than an advantage to us.” Pelham wrote in the same desponding temper to the duke of Newcastle :-“ Dear brother, we are conquered ; we have little strength of our own, and less of other people's.” With such a humiliated spirit in the prime-minister of a country, it is easy to understand how, during the years which remained of the Pelham
Parliamentary History," vol. xiv. col. 678.
REDUCTION OF THE INTEREST ON THE NATIONAL DEBT.
Acministration, the nation was held to be sunk and degraded. A mighty change was produced by the genius of one man-he who having been thrust upon the king as a subordinate member of the government in 1746, came gradually to be looked up to as the most influential man in the state, especially after the death of Henry Pelham in 1754. The extraordinary abilities of William Pitt at length rose above the control of incapable colleagues. In five years he raised a dispirited nation to an unprecedented height of honour and power. The history of this great man's administration is a history of which England may well be proud, even after a century has elapsed of events too wonderful and of changes too vast, to have presented themselves to the imagination of the most sanguine believer in his country's future greatness, who lived in the last years of George the Second. But before we reach the history of that period, we have first to trace the less stimulating occurrences of six or seven years of peace. In those years Great Britain was husbanding the means of triumph. Her people were carrying forward their industry with a success which gave them the sinews of war. Some important social reforms were made ; others were attempted, and were deferred through antiquated prejudices. A careful examination will show, that, amidst much that was rotten and corrupt, the nation was unusually prosperous ; and that the common predictions of its decline were the fallacies of superficial observers.
The Parliament which commenced its sittings in November, 1747 was continued through its full septennial period until April, 1754. This tenth Parliament of Great Britain holds an honourable place in history for two measures of permanent utility-the Reform of the Calendar, and the Marriage Act. Other portions of its legislation are interesting, as bearing upon some questions which are still not wholly settled ; or as illustrating the state of public morality. During the remaining years of the Pelham administration we may follow the course of parliamentary proceedings as the best outline of the progress of the nation.
Mr. Pelham, though a timid war-minister, was sufficiently bold as a financier. At the opening of the Session, the king recommended to the Commons “ to be watchful to improve any opportunity of putting the national debt in a metliod of being reduced, with a strict regard to public faith and private property.” In a fortnight the proposal of the minister was entertained, to reduce the 4 per cent. annuities to a lower rate of interest. The whole unredeemed capital of the funded debt amounted, in round numbers, to seventy-one millions, of which forty-three millions were
due to the Bank of England, the South Sea Company, and the East India Company, at varying rates of interest,-namely : 4 per cent., 3% per cent., 3 per cent. Of the other public debt, nearly nineteen millions were in 4 per cent. annuities, and eight millions in 3 per cent. consolidated annuities. Mr. Pelham proposed that all persons or bodies corporate entitled to any part of the redeemable national debt, which carried interest at 4 per cent., who should consent to receive interest at 3 per cent., commencing on the 25th December, 1757, should receive 3/2 per cent., in the intermediate years. The scheme, according to Tindal, was regarded as a very bold and even dangercus measure by many friends of the minister. Smollett says that foreign nations looked on with wonder, to see such a proposition carried without disturbance, and asked where money could be found to pay off the dissentient sund-holders. But there were very few who chose to be paid off. The confidence in the government, and the convenience to many persons of these public investments with their certain dividends, enabled the minister to accomplislı his plan without the disquiet which some had dreaded. The public benefit of the reduction of interest was sensibly felt when, after the death of Mr. Pelbam, the nation became engaged in the Seven Years War. After languishing for a year or two, this contest was conducted to a successful close, with a lavish expense wholly unprecedented on the part of England. In 1749, when the funded debt was seventy-one millions, the interest was very nearly three millions. In 1759, when the funded debt was eighty-nine millions, the interest was still under three millions.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, such a change had taken place in the relations between employers and workmen, that the old system of regimenting labour, by prescribing the rate of wages and the hours of work, was coming quickly to an end. Four hundred years before that time the labour-question, as it is called, was putting strife between masters and servants. The labourers of the reign of Edward III., in consequence of a pestilence which had reduced the amount of labour seeking employment demanded a rise in wages--as they justly might, according to the natural law which regulates wages. They founded their demand upon sound principles, although these were not reduced into a science. But it was held that the labourers of the time of Edward III. demanded what the employers considered excessive wages ; and the legislature stepped in to compel a rate of bire, and to con
* See Parliamentary Return of the National Debt, &c. dered to be printed geha July, 1958.
fine labourers to one locality. This was the stronger tyranny; and the precedent was ever at hand, in future contests. * Statutes for the regulation of wages and the hours of labour went on multiplying, even against the growing conviction that they were inefficient. There was a constant and gradual tendency in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the prices of commodities to advance; and this inevitable result of the discovery of the precious metals in America baffled every attempt to fix a stationary scale of wages. A statute of 1548 endeavours to grapple with what it held to be two fagrant evils. Sellers of victuals were to be punished for conspiring and covenanting to sell their commodities at unreasonable prices. This was to be a boon to those who laboured for subsist
But, on the other hand, combinations of workmen were prohibited by this statute, under severe penalties. It would appear from this enactment that workmen, under a system of promises and mutual oaths, then engaged in a confederacy against the liberty of other workmen ; and to this extent the legislators were right, even in enacting their harsh penalties of imprisonment and pillory, We here see the commencerment of statutory regulations against combinations of workmen ; which, however, were always punishable at common law, as well as combinations of masters. , We go on to the eighteenth century, and we then find special laws against combinations in particular trades. A statute of the 7th George I. is " for regulating journeymen tailors," especially those of London and Westminster, " who have lately departed from their services without just cause, and have entered into combinations to advance their wages to unreasonable prices, and lessen their usual hours of work.” A statute of the 12th George I. extends the penalties against combinations to “ workmen employed in the woollen manufacture.” The next step is the Act of 1749, which especially extends the provisions of the two previous statutes to those employed in hat-making, and to the workers in all textile substances, and in leather; and, moreover, provides the usual supposed remedies of legal punishinents against all combinations of workmen whatever. It required the experience of three quarters of a century to show that such legislation was essentially a mistake. The statutes against combinations had been so multiplied that when these laws were repealed in 1824, they amounted to thirty-five different enactments. It was inconsistent with the principle of justice to all classes that they should continue on the statute-book in their original arbitrary and unequal provisions. Adam Smith, in 1776, proclaimed this inequality : - We have no acts of pariiament
* See ante, vol. i. p. 471.