There was a sort of understanding in those times that Hyde Park was the peculiar preserve of the aristocracy. Women of notoriously bad reputation would not then have dared to show themselves in Rotten Row, and the middle and lower classes of London did not think of intruding themselves as equestrians upon the pleasure-ground of the nobility. At that time it was every way more retired; the walks were fewer, and cows and deer were seen quietly grazing under clumps of trees. The frequenters of the park, who then congregated daily about five o'clock, were chiefly[442] composed of dandies and ladies in the best society; the former, well-mounted and dressed in a blue coat, with brass buttons, leather breeches and top-boots, with a tremendously deep, stiff, white cravat, and high shirt-collar, which rendered stooping impossible. Many of the ladies used to drive round the park in a carriage, called a vis--vis, which held only two persons, having a hammer-cloth rich in heraldic designs, powdered footmen in smart liveries, and a coachman who assumed all the airs and importance of a wigged archbishop.

ALEXANDER I. [See larger version]

Next day the victorious general sent a message to Hyderabad, threatening to storm the city if it was not immediately surrendered. The walls were very strong, and might have been defended successfully; but the Ameers had lost heart, and six of them came out to the British camp, and laid their swords at the feet of the conqueror. But though the city was in his possession, conquest seemed only to increase his difficulties. He had to keep possession of a large hostile city, and to defend his own entrenched camp against 20,000 Beloochees, who were still in the field under Shere Mahommed, and to accomplish all this he had but 2,000 effective men under his command. Reinforcements, however, were quickly dispatched by Lord Ellenborough. They arrived safely and gave him an army of 5,000 veteran troops. In the meantime, Shere Mahommed had come within five miles of the British camp, and sent Sir Charles Napier a summons to surrender; he had an army of 20,000 men in an extremely strong position. Nothing daunted, Sir Charles Napier attacked the enemy. His plan of action was altered, on account of an unauthorised attack made by Colonel Stark with his cavalry, in consequence of the giving way of the centre before an onset of the Irish regiment. The cavalry charge, the result of a sudden inspiration, was brilliantly successful. The cavalry swept everything before them, and carried confusion and dismay into the rear of the enemy's centre. The British general instantly took advantage of this success, and, changing his plan, he led on the Irish infantry to storm the first nullah. After a fierce resistance, the scarp was mounted, and Lieutenant Coote fell wounded while in the act of waving the Beloochee standard in triumph on the summit. The Sepoys were equally successful in storming the second nullah, which was bravely defended, but ultimately carried with great loss to the enemy, who were routed in all directions, their retreating ranks being mowed down by the artillery, and pursued by the cavalry for a distance of several miles. The loss of the British in this great victory was only 270 men. Although the heat was then 110° in the shade, Sir Charles Napier rapidly pursued the enemy, so that his cavalry arrived at Meerpoor, a distance of forty miles, before Shere Mahommed could reach it. It was his capitalstrongly fortified, filled with stores of all kindsand it fell without resistance into the hands of the British general. Shere Mahommed had retreated to the stronghold of Omerkote, in the desert. Thither he was pursued by Captain Whitlie, at the head of the Light Horse. The Ameer fled with some horsemen into the desert. The garrison that remained, after a few shots, pulled down their colours, and, on the 4th of April, the British standard waved on the towers of Omerkote. Under the management of these enlightened men the disproportionate mass of bone was reduced, and flesh increased, and the whole figure assumed a regular and handsome contour. The quality of the meat was as greatly improved.

But the subject was not so easily disposed of. Colonel Barr, in the House of Commons, only three days after Burke introduced his great motion, declared that Burke's measure did not go far enough; that Burke did not mean to interfere with the enormous pensions and overpaid places already in possession; and that he would himself introduce a motion for a Committee of Accounts, to probe all these depths of corruption, and to examine into the army extravagances, which were excessive, and to him unaccountable. Lord North, so far from opposing this motion, declared his surprise that no one had thought of introducing it before, and that he was extremely anxious himself for the reduction of all needless expenditure. The Opposition expressed their particular satisfaction; but they were rather too precipitate, for North made haste to get the business into his own hands; and, on the 2nd of March, was ready with a Bill of his own framing. The Opposition were lost in astonishment; and Barr denounced this perfidious conduct in the Minister in terms of just indignation. The whole Opposition, who found themselves outwitted, declared that the scheme, so far from being intended to relieve the country, was meant to shield existing abuses, and they accordingly resisted it to the utmost. North, however, by his standing majority of myrmidons, carried the Bill through the House; and Sir Guy Carleton, late Governor of Canada, and five others, were appointed Commissioners. Thus the whole motion was in reality shelved. [See larger version]

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