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Yet, on the first view of the case, the selection of the Swedes augured anything but a Russian alliance; and showed on the surface everything in favour of Napoleon and France, for it fell on a French general and field-marshal, Bernadotte. The prince royal elect made his public entry into Stockholm on the 2nd of November. The failing health of the king, the confidence which the talents of Bernadotte had inspired, the prospect of a strong alliance with France through himall these causes united to place the national power in his hands, and to cast upon him, at the same time, a terrible responsibility. The very crowds and cries which surrounded him expressed the thousand expectations which his presence raised. The peasantry, who had heard so much of his humble origin and popular sentiments, looked to him to curb the pride and oppression of the nobles; the nobles flattered themselves that he would support their cause, in the hope that they would support him; the mass of the people believed that a Republican was the most likely to maintain the principles of the Revolution of 1809; the merchants trusted that he would be able to obtain from Napoleon freedom for trade with Great Britain, so indispensable to Sweden; and the army felt sure that, with such a general, they should be able to seize Norway and re-conquer Finland. Nor was this all. Bernadotte knew that there existed a legitimist party in the country, which might long remain a formidable organ in the hands of internal factions or external enemies. How was he to lay the foundation of a new dynasty amid all these conflicting interests? How satisfy at once the demands of France, Britain, and Russia? Nothing but firmness, prudence, and sagacity could avail to surmount the difficulties of his situation; but these Bernadotte possessed.
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During these disgraceful days the Church-and-King party took no measures to prevent the destruction of the property of Dissenters. Noblemen, gentlemen, and magistrates rode in from the country on pretence of doing their duty, but they did little but sit and drink their wine, and enjoy the mischief. They could have called out the militia at once, and the mob would have been scattered like leaves before the wind; but they preferred to report the outbreak to the Secretary-at-War, and, after the time thus lost, three troops of the 15th Light Dragoons, lying at Nottingham, were ordered to march thither. But the arrival of the Light Dragoons showed what might have been done at first if the magistrates had been so minded. The mob did not stay even to look at the soldiers; at their very name they vanished, and Birmingham, on Monday morning, was as quiet as a tomb. Government itself took a most indifferent leisure in the matter. It did not issue a proclamation from the Secretary of State's office till the 29th, when it offered one hundred pounds for the discovery and apprehension of one of the chief ringleaders.This was a serious position of affairs for the consideration of the new Whig Ministry. They were called on to declare, either that Ireland was part of the empire, and subject to the same laws, as regarded the empire, as Great Britain, or that it was distinctly a separate empire under the same king, just as Hanover was. The Ministry of Rockingham have been severely blamed by one political party, and highly lauded by another, for conceding the claims of Ireland on that head so readily; for they came to the conclusion to yield them fully. They were by no means blind to the difficulties of the case, and to the evils that might arise from a decision either way. But the case with the present Ministry was one of simple necessity. England had committed the great error of refusing all concession to demanded rights in the case of America, and now lay apparently too exhausted by the fight to compel submission, with all Europe in arms against her. Ireland, aware of this, was in arms, and determined to profit by the crisis. Fox, therefore, on the 17th of May, announced the intention of Ministers at once to acknowledge the independence of Ireland by repealing the Act of the 6th of George I. Fox, in his speech, declared that it was far better to have the Irish willing subjects to the Crown than bitter enemies. The Bill repealing the 6th of George I. accordingly passed both Houses as a matter of course, and the effect upon Ireland was such, that in the first ebullition of the national joy the Irish House of Commons voted one hundred thousand pounds to raise twenty thousand seamen. The Irish Commons, moreover, offered to grant Grattan, for his patriotic and successful exertions in this cause, a similar sum, to purchase him an estate. Grattanthough a poor man, his income at that time scarcely exceeding five hundred pounds a yeardisinterestedly refused such a sum, and was only with difficulty induced ultimately to accept half of it.
In committee the Opposition endeavoured to introduce some modifying clause. They proposed that the Dissenters should have schools for their own persuasion; and, had the object of the Bill been to prevent them from endangering the Church by educating the children of Churchmen, this would have served the purpose. But this was not the real object; the motive of the Bill was the old tyrannic spirit of the Church, and this most reasonable clause was rejected. They allowed, however, dames or schoolmistresses to teach the children to read; and they removed the conviction of offenders from the justices of peace to the courts of law, and granted a right of appeal to a higher court. Finally, they exempted tutors in noblemen's families, noblemen being supposed incapable of countenancing any other than teachers of Court principles. Stanhope seized on this to extend the privilege to the members of the House of Commons, arguing that, as many members of the Commons were connected with noble families, they must have an equal claim for the education of their children in sound principles. This was an exquisite bit of satire, but it was unavailing. The Hanoverian Tories, headed by Lord Anglesey, moved that the Act should extend to Ireland, where, as the native population was almost wholly Catholic, and therefore schismatic in the eye of the Established Church, the Bill would have almost entirely extinguished education. The Bill was carried on the 10th of June by a majority only of seventy-seven against seventy-two, and would not have been carried at all except for the late creation of Tory peers.