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[See larger version] But our military achievements in the East Indies were on a scale to throw even these successes far into the shade. Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General, was entreated by the Peishwa of Poonah to assist him against the other Mahratta chiefs, Scindiah and Holkar. The Peishwa had been driven out of his territory by these chiefs, aided principally by the military talents of M. Perron, a Frenchman, who had for many years entered, with several other French officers, on the fall of the Mysore power, into the service of Scindiah. He had been extremely successful, and had been rewarded with a wide territory on the Jumna; and when, in 1793, Shah Allum, the Mogul, had been made prisoner, he had been consigned to the custody of M. Perron. The Frenchman had now given his aid to expel the Peishwa, and Lord Wellesley, in sending General Lake to restore the Peishwa, authorised him to attempt to win over M. Perron to the British interest by very brilliant offers of property and distinction, for Perron was deemed avaricious. The temptation, however, failed, both with Perron and his French officers. He took the field in support of Scindiah, with seventeen thousand infantry, from fifteen to twenty thousand Mahratta horse, and a numerous train of artillery.

Mr. Lamb, the Chief Secretary, wrote to Mr. Peel to the same effect. The Act, he said, had failed in fulfilling its main object, as well as every other advantageous purpose. To re-enact it would irritate all parties, and expose the Ministry to odium. He alluded to sources of dissension that were springing up in the Roman Catholic body, particularly the jealousy excited in the Roman Catholic prelates by the power which the Association had assumed over the parochial clergy. On the whole, his advice was against renewing the Statute. On the 12th of April Lord Anglesey wrote a memorandum on the subject, in which he pointed out the impolicy of any coercive measure, which, to be effective, must interfere with the right of public meeting, and make a dangerous inroad on the Constitution, at the same time displaying the weakness of the Government, which is shown in nothing more than passing strong measures which there was not vigour to enforce. His information led him to believe that the higher orders of the Roman Catholic clergy had long felt great jealousy of the ascendency that the leaders of the Association had assumed over the lower priesthood. Besides, many of the most respectable of the Catholic landlords were irritated at their tenantry for continuing to pay the Catholic rent, contrary to their injunctions; and sooner or later he believed the poorer contributors must consider the impost as onerous, arbitrary, and oppressive. These matters he regarded as seeds of dissolution, which would be more than neutralised by any coercive attempt to put down the Association. He felt confident that no material mischief could result from allowing the Act quietly to expire, supported as the Government was by "the powerful aid of that excellent establishment, the constabulary force, already working the greatest[270] benefit, and capable of still further improvement, and protected as this force was by an efficient army, ably commanded."

In all those arts which increase the prosperity of a nation England made the most remarkable progress during this reign. A number of men, springing chiefly from its working or manufacturing orders, arose, who introduced inventions and improvements in practical science, which added, in a most wonderful degree, to the industrial resources of the country. Agriculture at the commencement of the reign was in a sluggish and slovenly condition, but the increase of population, and the augmented price of corn and cattle, led to numerous enclosures of waste lands, and to improvements both in agricultural implements and in the breeds of sheep and cattle. During the thirty-three years of the reign of George II. the number of enclosures averaged only seven per annum, but in the first twenty-five years of the reign of George III. they amounted to forty-seven per annum. During that period the number of enclosures was one thousand one hundred and eighty-six, the number each year rapidly increasing. The value of the produce also stimulated the spirit of improvement in tillage as well as enclosure. Many gentlemen, especially in Northumberland, Kent, Norfolk, and Suffolk, devoted themselves to agricultural science. They introduced rotation of crops instead of fallows, and better manuring, and also cultivated various vegetables on a large scale in the fields which before had generally been confined to the garden, as turnips, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, etc. Their example began to be followed by the ordinary class of farmers, and the raising of rents greatly quickened this imitation. At the opening of the reign the rental of land did not exceed ten shillings per acre on an[188] average; the rental of the whole kingdom in 1769 being sixteen million pounds, according to Arthur Young, but in a few years it was nearly doubled. This gentleman, who has left us so much knowledge of the agricultural state of the kingdom in his "Tours of Survey," tells us that, northward especially, the old lumbering ploughs and other clumsy instruments were still in use, instead of the improved ones, and that there was, therefore, a great waste of labour, both of man and beast, in consequence. But still improvement was slowly spreading, and already Bakewell was engaged in those experiments which introduced, instead of the old large-headed and ill-shaped sheep, a breed of superior symmetry, which at once consumed less food and yielded a heavier carcase. It was at first contemptuously said by the old race of farmers and graziers, that Bakewell's new herd of sheep was too dear for any one to purchase and too fat for any one to eat. As he was pursuing his improvements in Leicestershire, Culley prosecuted similar ones in Northumberland in both sheep and cattle.

General Lake had no sooner seen Delhi clear of the enemy than he marched to Agra, which he reached on the 4th of October, and carried on the 17th. But Scindiah had availed himself of his absence, and made a sudden rush on Delhi, with[493] seventeen well-disciplined battalions of infantry and between four thousand and five thousand cavalry. The Mahratta troops had been well trained by the French, who hoped, by their means, to crush the power of the British in India, and had shown throughout this war wonderfully increased efficiency, yet General Lake did not hesitate, with his small force, to go in quest of them. He started on the 27th of October, and after marching in heavy rains and through dreadful roadsthe country having been purposely inundated by Scindiah's officers cutting down the banks of reservoirshe came upon the Mahrattas on the 31st, near the village of Laswaree, their left flanked by that village, their right by a stream, and their front protected by seventy-two pieces of cannon. A furious battle took place, in the course of which Lake's troops were repeatedly repulsed, but returned to the attack undauntedly, and the successive charges by the bayonet, and the gallant conduct of the cavalry, at length, in the face of terrible discharges of grape-shot and canister, drove the Mahrattas from all their positions. The enemy had fought desperately, and step by step only had given way, but in the end the rout was completecannon, baggage, and almost everything, being left in the hands of the British (November 1st, 1803). This division of Scindiah's army was thus annihilated, and all the territory watered by the Jumna left in the hands of the British.

Whilst this Bill was passing the Lords, on the 28th of March Lord Gower brought a fresh one into the Commons, which had no less object than the repeal of the Charter of Massachusetts. It was entitled, "A Bill for the Better Regulating Government in the Province of Massachusetts Bay." It went to remove the nomination of the members of the Council, of the judges and magistrates, etc., from the popular constituencies to the Crown. Lord North observed that the Charter of William III. had conferred these privileges on Massachusetts as exceptional to all other colonies, and that the consequence was that the Governor had no power whatever. Strong opposition was made to this proposed Bill by Dowdeswell, Sir George Savile, Burke, Barr, Governor Pownall, General Conway, and Charles Fox, who was now in opposition. The Bill passed the Commons by a majority of two hundred and thirty-nine against sixty-four; and it passed the Lords by a majority of ninety-two against twenty. But even now another Bill passed the House of Commonsa Bill for removing to another colony for trial any inhabitant of Massachusetts Bay, who was indicted for any murder or other capital offence which the Governor might deem to be perpetrated in the attempt to put down tumults and riots. This measure was still more vehemently opposed than the rest.

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