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Notwithstanding the real outbreak of the war, Congress yet professed to entertain hopes of ultimate reconciliation. When the reinforcements had arrived from England, and it was supposed that part of them were destined for New York, it issued orders that, so long as the forces remained quiet in their barracks, they should not be molested; but if they attempted to raise fortifications, or to cut off the town from the country, they should be stoutly opposed. When the news of the surprise of the forts on the Lake Champlain arrived, Congress endeavoured to excuse so direct a breach of the peace by feigning a belief in a design of an invasion of the colonies from Canada, of which there was notoriously no intention, and they gave orders that an exact inventory of the cannon and military stores there captured should be made, in order to their restoration, "when the former harmony between Great Britain and her colonies, so ardently wished for by the latter, should render it consistent with the overruling law of self-preservation." After the battle of Bunker's Hill, Congress still maintained this tone. On the 8th of July they signed a petition to the king, drawn up by John Dickinson, in the mildest terms, who, when to his own surprise the petition was adopted by the Congress, rose, and said that there was not a word in the whole petition that he did not approve of, except the word "Congress." This, however, was far from the feeling of many members; and Benjamin Harrison immediately rose and declared that there was but one word in the whole petition that he did approve of, and that was the word "Congress." The petition to the king expressed an earnest desire for a speedy and permanent reconciliation, declaring that, notwithstanding their sufferings, they retained in their hearts "too tender a regard for the kingdom from which they derived their origin to request such a reconciliation as might be inconsistent with her dignity or welfare." At the[220] same time, they resolved that this appeal, which they called "The Olive Branch," should, if unsuccessful, be their last. They could hardly have expected it to be successful.

The purport of these Cabinet Councils was generally understood by the country; but as yet only the most sanguine anticipated the proposal of Sir Robert Peel, when the Times newspaper on the 4th of December announced, apparently from secret information, that it was the intention of the Government to repeal the Corn Laws, and to call Parliament together in January for that purpose. The assertion was received with incredulity, not only by the Opposition, but by the Ministerial journals. One organ of the Tory party placarded its office with a bill, headed "Atrocious fabrication of the Times!" But the latter journal, on the following day, declared that it "adhered to its original announcement." Day by day the controversy raged in the newspapers; but the news was too probable not to gain credence. The result was a conviction throughout the country that the Times had really obtained information of the Government's intentions; but as a matter of fact its information was incorrect, as the Cabinet, far from intending to repeal the Corn Laws, had made up its mind to retire. When the returned Emperor, therefore, drove up to the Tuileries, at nearly ten o'clock on the night of the 20tha foggy and wet nighthis carriage, covered with mud, was surrounded by his friends, as if he had only been absent on one of his campaigns. As he stepped out of his carriage in his old grey great-coat and cocked hat, now to be seen in the museum of the Louvre, he was instantly so hemmed in that he called out, "My friends, you stifle me!" and a number of general officers at once hoisted him upon their shoulders, and thus bore him into the palace and up into the State apartments amid deafening shouts of "Vive l'Empereur!" Sir Robert Peel began by saying, "Sir, the honourable gentleman has stated here very emphatically, what he has more than once stated at the conferences of the Anti-Corn-Law League, that he holds me individually responsible for the distress and suffering of the country; that he holds me personally responsible." This was pronounced with great solemnity of manner, and at the word "individually" the Premier was interrupted by a loud cheer from the Ministerial benches of a very peculiar and emphatic kind. Sir Robert then continued, "Be the consequences of those insinuations what they may, never will I be influenced by menaces to adopt a course which I consider" But the rest of the sentence was lost in renewed shouts from the Ministerial benches. Mr. Cobden immediately rose and said, "I did not say that I held the right honourable gentleman personally responsible;" but he was interrupted by shouts from the Ministerial benches of, "You did, you did!" mingled with cries of "Order!" and "Chair!" The further remark from Mr. Cobden, "I have said that I hold the right honourable gentleman responsible by virtue of his office, as the whole context of what I said was sufficient to explain," brought renewed shouts from the same quarter of "No, no," accompanied by great confusion. When Sir Robert, says a newspaper of the day, gave the signal for this new light, then, and not till then, the sense so obtained burst forth with a frantic yell, which would better have befitted a company of savages who first saw and scented their victim, than a grave and dignified assembly insulted by conduct deemed deserving of condemnation. Sir Robert afterwards so far recovered from his excitement as to say, "I will not overstate anything. Therefore I will not say I am certain the honourable gentleman used the word 'personally';" but the debate created a painful impression, which was increased by an article in the Times of the following day, deliberately attempting to connect Mr. Cobden with the doctrine of assassination. The friends of the Anti-Corn-Law movement, however, immediately held meetings throughout the country, at which they expressed their indignation at the attempt to fix a calumny upon the man whose arguments in favour of Free Trade in food were unanswered and unanswerable.

WILLIAM WILBERFORCE. (After the Portrait by G. Richmond.) Sir Francis Burdett once wrote a letter of a single sentence to his friend Lord Cloncurry, as follows:"Dear Lord Cloncurry, I should like to know what you think would allay Irish agitation? Yours truly, F. B." It would have taken a volume to answer this question, and perhaps, after all, Sir Francis Burdett would not have been satisfied. George IV. thought that his visit would have had that effect, and appearances for a time seemed to justify his sanguine anticipations. The visit had been long meditated. He set out on a yachting excursion soon after the coronation, and arrived at Plymouth on the 1st of August amidst the huzzas of an immense concourse of people. On the following day the royal squadron departed for Ireland, and anchored in the bay at Holyhead on the 7th. The news of his approach threw the people of Dublin into a paroxysm of joy, to which the newspapers of the day gave expression in the most extravagant terms. The blessing that awaited them seemed too great to be realised. Never had they comforted their hours of despondency or flattered themselves in seasons of imagined felicity, with anything approaching to the reality which fortune was about to shower upon them. The king's name, they declared, was more to them than a tower of strength; it had effected what neither patriots, philosophers, nor moralists could ever accomplish.

When the two parties separated in 1846, the Young Irelanders established the Irish Confederation, which held its meetings in the Music Hall, Abbey Street, and whose platform was occupied by a number of young men, who subsequently figured in the State trialsMr. Dillon, a barrister, who had been a moderator in Trinity College, Mr. Doheny, solicitor, Mr. O'Gorman, and Mr. Martin, a Protestant gentleman of property in the county Down. The object of the confederacy was to prepare the country for national independence, "by the force of opinion, by the combination of all classes of Irishmen, and the exercise of all the political, social, and moral influence within their reach." They disclaimed any intention of involving the country in civil war, or invading the just rights of any of its people; and they were specially anxious that Protestants and Roman Catholics should be united in the movement. Resolutions to this effect were adopted at a great meeting in the Rotunda, a revolutionary amendment by Mr. Mitchel having been rejected, after a stormy debate, which lasted three days, and did not terminate on the last day until one o'clock at night. This led to Mitchel's secession from the Nation, and the establishment of the United Irishman, in which he openly and violently advocated rebellion and revolution. He continually insisted on the adoption of the most diabolical and repulsive measures, with the utmost sang froid. Every Saturday his journal contained a letter "To the Earl of Clarendon, Her Majesty's Executioner-General and Butcher-General of Ireland." Plans of insurrection were freely propounded; the nature and efficiency of street fighting were copiously discussed; ladies were invited to throw vitriol from their windows on the Queen's troops, and to fling empty bottles before the cavalry that they might stumble and fall. Precise instructions were given, week after week, for the erection of barricades, the perforation of walls, and other means of attack and defence in the war against the Queen. [See larger version]