The British losses in the battle of Moodkee were very heavy215 killed; among whom were Sir Robert Sale, Sir John M'Caskill, and a number of young officers who had greatly distinguished themselves. The wounded amounted to 657. Meanwhile, the enemy, having left seventeen guns upon the field, retired in tolerably good order, within their entrenched camp, which they had formed at Ferozeshah, on the banks of the Sutlej, near Ferozepore. For two days both armies remained inactive, but ready to renew the conflict. The losses of the British had been made up by the arrival of the 29th Queen's and the 1st Bengal Light Infantry. A memorable event in the history of British warfare in India, was that Sir Henry Hardinge, the veteran commander, the hero of so many battles, the Governor-General of India, offered his services to Sir Hugh Gough as second in command. The offer was accepted, and the army marched forth to attack the enemy's camp. They started at daybreak on the 21st, and about midday a junction[598] was effected with General Littler's division, which had marched out from Ferozepore, according to orders sent the night before. The British army was now raised to 19,000 effective men. The enemy were double that number, strongly entrenched, well provisioned, and fresh after two days' rest; while our troops were ill provided with food, and had marched ten miles that morning. To attack the Sikhs without waiting for some expected reinforcements was hazardous; to postpone the attack for another day seemed still more soas there was a second Sikh army of equal force, which would then have reached the scene of action. An immediate attack was therefore determined uponGough leading the right wing, and Hardinge the left. The Sikh artillery was heavier than the British. The guns were protected behind embrasures, the gunners were sure in their aim; and so terrible was the effect that the 62nd Regiment, which led on the attack, was nearly cut away, and several Sepoy regiments broke and fled. The whole of the left wing, though led on gallantly by the Governor-General, were driven back, after carrying part of the works. The right wing, under General Gough, succeeded better, and held possession of several of the ramparts. But the Sikhs were still in possession of the fortified village of Ferozeshah, and remained so till night closed upon the scene; when the smoke and dust subsided, and the silence was broken only by an occasional shot from the guns, responded to in the darknessthe gunners seeing no enemy, but aiming at the flash of light.

This was immediately made evident. The treaty was concluded on the 4th of April, 1769, and the first news was that Hyder had quarrelled with the Mahrattas, and called on the Presidency of Madras to furnish the stipulated aid. But the Presidency replied that he had himself sought this war, and therefore it was not a defensive but an offensive war. The Peishwa of the Mahrattas invaded Mysore, and drove Hyder to the very walls of Seringapatam, dreadfully laying waste his territory. Hyder then sent piteous appeals to his allies, the British, offering large sums of money; but they still remained deaf. At another time, they were solicited by the Mahratta chief to make an alliance with him, but they determined to remain neutral, and left Hyder and the Peishwa to fight out their quarrels. In 1771 the Mahrattas invaded the Carnatic, but were soon driven out; and in 1772 the Mahrattas and Hyder made peace through the mediation of the Nabob of the Carnatic, or of Arcot, as he was more frequently called. Hyder had lost a considerable portion of Mysore, and besides had to pay fifteen lacs of rupees, with the promise of fifteen more. The refusal of the English to assist him did not fail to render him more deeply hostile than ever to them.

At the point at which our former detail of[316] Indian affairs ceased, Lord Clive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had left us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the throne of Bengal, was our mere instrument.

The Bill was suffered to pass the second reading, but was thrown out, on the motion of its being committed, by two hundred and twenty-two against two hundred and fourteen. Fox then gave notice of his intention of bringing in a new Bill of his own on India, and demanded to know from the Ministers whether he might expect to proceed in security with it, or whether the House would be dissolved. Pitt did not answer; the question was repeated by other members, but Pitt continued silent, till General Conway said it was a new thing to see a Minister sitting in sulky silence, and refusing to satisfy the reasonable desires of the House. This brought out Pitt with an indignant denial; but he preserved silence as to the probability of a dissolution. Pitt, in a series of motions and violent debates on themwhich did not terminate till the 23rd of January, 1789not only carried his point, that Parliament should assert the whole right of appointing a regent, but he contrived to tie down the prince completely. On the 16th of December Pitt moved three resolutionsthe third and most material of which was, that it was necessary that both Houses should, for the maintenance of the constitutional authority of the king, determine the means by which the royal assent might be given to an Act of Parliament for delegating the royal authority during the king's indisposition. After most determined opposition by the Whigs, he carried the whole of these resolutions, and it was then moved that the proper mode of doing this was to employ the Great Seal just as if the king were in the full exercise of his faculties. To prepare the way for this doctrine, the lawyers in Pitt's party had declared that there was a broad distinction between the political and the natural capacity of the king; that, as the king could do no wrong, so he could not go politically, though he might go naturally, mad; that therefore the king, in his political capacity, was now as fully in[345] power and entity as ever, and therefore the Great Seal could be used for him as validly as at any other time. In vain did Burke exclaim that it was "a phantom," "a fiction of law," "a mere mummery, a piece of masquerade buffoonery, formed to burlesque every species of government." In the midst of the debate Mr. Rushworth, the young member for Newport, in Hampshire, standing on the floor of the House, exclaimed, in a loud and startling tone, "I desire that gentlemen of more age and experience than myself will refer to the glorious reign of George II. Let them recall to their memory the year 1745. Suppose that great and good king had lain under a similar affliction of madness at that period, where are the men, much less a Minister, that would have dared to come down to that House, and boldly, in the face of the world, say that the Prince of Wales had no more right to the regency than any other subject? The man or Minister who could have dared to utter such language must henceforward shelter in some other place than in the House of Commons, and in some other country than England!" The Prince of Wales, by letter, complained of the want of respect shown to him, but Pitt carried the resolution regarding the Great Seal, that it should be appended to a commission for opening Parliament, it now occupying the position of a convention, and that the commission should then affix the royal assent to the Bill for the regency. This done, he consented to the demand for the appearance of the physicians again before proceeding with the Bill, and the physicians having expressed hopes of the king's speedy recovery, on the 16th of January Pitt moved the following resolutions:That the Prince of Wales should be invested with the royal authority, subject, however, to these restrictions, namely, that he should create no peers; that he should grant no place or pension for life, or in reversion, except such place as in its nature must be held for life, or during good behaviour; that the prince should have no power over the personal property of the king, nor over the king's person or household; that these two latter powers should be entrusted to the queen, a council being appointed to assist her in these duties by their advice, but subject to her dismissal, and without any power of alienation of any part of the property. The bad character of the prince, combined with the rumours of his indecent jests at the expense of his unhappy parents, rendered the restrictions universally popular.

Mr. Henry Deane Grady, ditto ditto 5,000

The debate on Mr. Villiers's annual motion, on June 10, produced still further evidences of the decline of Protectionist principles. On that occasion Sir James Graham, who was currently believed to be better acquainted with the feelings of the Premier than any other of the Ministers, said, "He would not deny that it was his opinion, that by a gradual and cautious policy it was expedient to bring our system of Corn Laws into a nearer approximation to those wholesome principles which governed legislation with respect to other industrial departments. But it was his conviction that suddenly and at once to throw open the trade in corn would be inconsistent with the well-being of the community, and would give such a shock to the agricultural interest as would throw many other interests into a state of convulsion. The object of every Government, without distinction of party, for the last twenty years, had been to substitute protecting duties for prohibitory duties, and to reduce gradually protecting duties, where it had them to deal with. He approved of this as a safe principle, and showed that it was the keystone of the policy of Sir Robert Peel.... If they could show him that Free Trade with open ports would produce a more abundant supply to the labourer, they would make him [Sir James] a convert to the doctrine of Free Trade in corn. He confessed that he placed no value on the fixed duty of four shillings lately proposed; it would be of no avail as a protection, whilst it would be liable to all the obloquy of a protecting duty; and he therefore thought that if they got rid of the present Corn Law, they had better assent to a total repeal." Sir Robert Peel spoke more cautiously; but he began by striking away a favourite maxim of his party, in observing that experience proved that the high price of corn was not accompanied by a high rate of wages, and that wages did not vary with the price of corn. He said that he "must proceed, in pursuance of his own policy, to reconcile the gradual approach of our legislation to sound principle on this subject, with the interests which had grown up under a different state of things;" but he admitted that it would be "impossible to maintain any law on the ground that it was intended to keep up rents."

THE CORONATION OF QUEEN VICTORIA. (After the Picture by Sir George Hayter.)

The vast development of the coal trade, which contributed so materially to our national prosperity, occasioned the employment of a large number of persons at high rates of wages. Upwards of 118,000 people were working in coal mines. In the county of Durham there were more persons thus employed under ground than in cultivating the surface. It was a kind of work at which women and children could earn money, and in some of the collieries their labour was made available to a very large extent. It may be supposed that this practice entailed upon the boys and girls so employed the most serious evils, physical and moral. When this state of things began to attract public attention, an extensive inquiry was instituted by the Children's Employment Commission, which prepared three reports, presented to Parliament in 1842. The Commissioners collected a large mass of evidence at the collieries which brought to light facts of the most astounding nature as to the cruelty and demoralisation connected with the employment of women and children in coal mines. It seemed almost incredible that such practices could have existed in a civilised country, and showed the extent to which the thirst for gain will carry men, under circumstances where they can count upon impunity, and evade the censure of public opinion. Lord Ashley took up the subject with his usual earnestness in all questions affecting the welfare of the working classes, and in the Session of 1842 he brought in a Bill founded upon the reports of the Commission. The statement of facts with which he introduced the measure excited the astonishment and indignation of the House, and greatly shocked the moral sense of the country. The nature of the employment in which the children were engaged was calculated to brutalise them in every sense. They were obliged to crawl along the low passages with barely room for their persons in that posture, each dragging a load of coals in a cart by means of a chain which was fastened to a girdle borne round the waist, the chain passing between the legs. This they dragged through a passage often not as good as a common sewer, in an atmosphere almost stifling. At this sort of work girls were employed as well as boys, and they commonly worked quite naked down to the waist, their only dress being a pair of loose trousers, and in this condition they were obliged to serve adult colliers who worked without any clothing at all. The grossest immorality was the natural consequence. In Scotland a subcommission found one little girl, six years of age, carrying an eight-stone weight, fourteen times a day, a journey equal in distance to the height of St. Paul's Cathedral. The Commissioner adds, "And it not unfrequently happens that the tugs break, and the load falls upon those females who are following, who are, of course, struck off the ladders. However incredible it may be, yet I have taken the evidence of fathers who have ruptured themselves by straining to lift coals on to their children's backs." The Bill of Lord Ashley was passed almost unanimously by the Commons. In the Lords it was subjected to considerable opposition, and some amendments were introduced. The amendments were adopted by the Commons, and on the 10th of August, 1842, the Act was passed "to prohibit the employment of women and girls in mines and collieries, to regulate the employment of boys, and to make other provisions relating to persons working therein." The Act prohibited the employment of any boys under ground in a colliery who were under the age of ten years.

In England Parliament met on the 31st of October, and Lord North now moved, in a Committee of Supply, for forty-five thousand seamen for the service of the following year; and in a warm debate, in which Mr. Luttrell made a severe charge of maladministration at the Admiralty, and of the most shameful corruptions and peculations in that department and in the Commissariat, he called for the production of the necessary papers to enable him to substantiate these charges.

Again, on the 22nd of March, Burke made another earnest effort to induce the infatuated Ministers and their adherents in Parliament to listen to reason. In one of the finest speeches that he ever made, he introduced a series of thirteen resolutions, which went to abolish the obnoxious Acts of Parliament, and admit the principle of the colonial Assemblies exercising the power of taxation. In the course of his speech he drew a striking picture of the rapid growth and the inevitable future importance of these colonies. He reminded the House that the people of New England and other colonies had quitted Great Britain because they would not submit to arbitrary measures; that in America they had cultivated this extreme independence of character, both in their religion and their daily life; that almost[216] every man there studied law, and that nearly as many copies of Blackstone's "Commentaries" had been sold there as in England; that they were the Protestants of Protestants, the Dissenters of Dissenters; that the Church of England there was a mere sect; that the foreigners who had settled there, disgusted with tyranny at home, had adopted the extremest principles of liberty flourishing there; that all men there were accustomed to discuss the principles of law and government, and that almost every man sent to the Congress was a lawyer; that the very existence of slavery in the southern States made white inhabitants hate slavery the more in their own persons. "You cannot," he said, "content such men at such a distanceNature fights against you. Who are you that you should fret, rage, and bite the chains of Nature? Nothing worse happens to you than does to all nations who have extensive empires. In all such extended empires authority grows feeble at the extremities. The Turk and the Spaniard find it so, and are compelled to comply with this condition of Nature, and derive vigour in the centre from the relaxation of authority on the borders." His resolutions were negatived by large majorities.