In the following June Lord Stanhope again came forward with a Bill to remove some of these enactments, and he showed that the literal fulfilment of several of them was now impossible; that as to compelling every man to go to church, by returns lately made to that House it was shown that there were four millions more people in England than all the churches of the Establishment could contain. With respect to the Church enforcing uniformity, he said that the variations between the Book of Common Prayer printed at Oxford and that printed at Cambridge amounted to above four thousand. His Bill was again thrown out by thirty-one against ten; but his end was gained. He had brought the injustice towards the Dissenters so frequently forward, and it was now so glaring, and the Dissenters themselves were become so numerous and influential, that the question could be no longer blinked. On the majority being pronounced against the Bill, Lord Holland rose and asked whether, then, there was to be nothing done to remove the disabilities under which Dissenters laboured? If that were the case, he should be under the necessity of bringing forward a measure on that subject himself. This compelled Ministers to promise that something should be done; and, on the 10th of the same month, Lord Castlereagh proposed to bring in a Bill to repeal certain Acts, and to amend others respecting persons teaching or preaching in certain religious assemblies. This Act, when explained, went to repeal the 13 and 14 Charles II., which imposed penalties on Quakers and others who should refuse to take oaths; the 16 of Charles II., known as the Five Mile Act, which prohibited any preacher who refused to take the non-resistance oath coming within five miles of any corporation where he had preached since the Act of Oblivion, under a penalty of fifty pounds; and the 17, which also imposed fine and imprisonment on them for attempting to teach a school unless they went to church and subscribed a declaration of conformity. It also repealed the 22 Charles II., commonly called the Conventicle Act. Instead of those old restraints, his Act simply required the registration of all places of worship in the bishop's or archdeacon's court; that they must not be locked, bolted, or barred during divine service, and that the preachers must be licensed according to the 19 George III. These conditions being complied with, all persons officiating in, or resorting to such places of worship, became entitled to all the benefits of the Toleration Act, and the disturbance of their assemblies became a punishable offence. This Bill passed both Houses, and became known as the Statute of 52 George III. It was a great step in the progress of religious freedom; and Mr. William Smith, the leader of the Dissenting interests in the House of Commons, expressed his heartfelt gratification at this proof of the increasing liberality of the times. THE PETERLOO MASSACRE: HUSSARS CHARGING THE PEOPLE. (See p. 151.)

[229]

This decided repulse ought to have shown the prince the violence that he was doing to the public sense of decency, and the mischief to his own character; but the disappointment only the more embittered him and increased his miserable obstinacy. Time had no effect in abating his unnatural resentment. Though this parliamentary decision took place in February, he continued so much in the same temper, that the very last day of the following May, his wife being seized with symptoms of labour, he suddenly determined to remove her from Hampton Court, where all the Royal Family then were, and hurry her off to London. The only matters of interest debated in Parliament during this year, except that of the discontent in the country, were a long debate on Catholic emancipation, in the month of May, which was negatived by a majority of only twenty-four, showing that that question was progressing towards its goal; and a motion of Lord Castlereagh for the gradual abolition of sinecures. This intimated some slight impression of the necessity to do something to abate the public dissatisfaction, but it was an impression only on the surface. This Ministry was too much determined to maintain the scale of war expenditure to which they had been accustomed to make any real retrenchment. A committee appointed to consider the scheme recommended the abolition of sinecures to the amount of fifty-four thousand pounds per annum, but neutralised the benefit by recommending instead a pension-list of forty-two thousand pounds per annum. The country received the amendment with disgust and derision. The next day tempest scattered the approaching transports. Sir John thought the storm sufficient excuse for not pursuing; but the winds followed the invaders, and blowing directly from London towards Dunkirk, dispersed the French transports, sank some of the largest of them with all their men, wrecked others on the coast, and made the rest glad to recover their port. Charles waited impatiently for the cessation of the tempest to put to sea again, but the French ministers were discouraged by the disaster, and by the discovery of so powerful a British fleet in the Channel. The army was withdrawn from Dunkirk, Marshal Saxe was appointed to the command in Flanders, and the expedition for the present was relinquished.

Foiled in these quarters, Alberoni appeared more successful in the North. A negotiation had been opened between the two potentates, so long at bitter variance, the Czar and Charles XII. of Sweden. They were induced to meet in the island of ?land, and to agree that the Czar should retain Livonia, and other Swedish territories south of Finland which he had torn from Sweden, but, in compensation, Charles was to be allowed to reconquer Bremen and Verden from George of Hanover and England, and Norway from Denmark; and the two monarchs were to unite their arms for the restoration of Stanislaus to the throne of Poland, and of the Pretender to that of Great Britain. The success of these arrangements appeared to Alberoni so certain that he boasted that the Northern tempest would burst ere long over England with annihilating fury; but even here he was doomed to disappointment. Charles[42] XII. delighted in nothing so much as in wild and romantic enterprise. Such was that of the conquest of Norway; and he was led by his imagination to commence it without delay. With his characteristic madness, he divided his army into two parts, with one of which he took the way by the coast of Norway, and the other he sent over the mountains at the very beginning of winter. There that division perished in the snow amid the most incredible horrors; and he himself, whilst carrying on the siege of Frederickshall, was killed on the 11th of December, as appears probable, by the treacherous shot of a French engineer in his service. Almost simultaneously the Duke of Maine's conspiracy against the French Government was detected, and he and his wife, together with the Spanish Ambassador, were apprehended. There was nothing for it on the part of the Regent but to proclaim war against Spaina measure which England had long been urging on him. The English declaration appeared on the 28th of December, 1718, and the French on the 9th of January, 1719. Whilst Prince Eugene had been labouring in vain to recall the English Government from its fatal determination to make a disgraceful peace, the Dutch envoy Van Buys had been equally active, and with as little success. The Ministers incited the House of Commons to pass some severe censures on the Dutch. They alleged that the States General had not furnished their stipulated number of troops both for the campaigns in the Netherlands and in Spain; that the queen had paid above three millions of crowns more than her contingent. They attacked the Barrier Treaty, concluded by Lord Townshend with them in 1709, and declared that it contained several Articles destructive to the trade and interests of Great Britain; that Lord Townshend was not authorised to make that treaty; and that both he and all those who advised it were enemies to the queen and kingdom. They addressed a memorial to the queen, averring that England, during the war, had been overcharged nineteen millions sterlingwhich was an awful charge of mismanagement or fraud on the part of the Whig Ministers. They further asserted that the Dutch had made great acquisitions; had extended their trade as well as their dominion, whilst England had only suffered loss. Anne gave her sanction to this address by telling the House that she regarded their address as an additional proof of their affection for her person and their attention to the interests of the nation; and she ordered her ambassador at the Hague, the new Earl of Strafford, to inform the States of these complaints of her Parliament, and to assure them that they must increase their forces in Flanders, or she must decrease hers.