On the 15th of March he took a more decided position of hostility to the Cabinet, by moving for an inquiry into the state of the navy. The Earl St. Vincent was now First Lord of the Admiralty, and he proved quite incompetent. Many gunboats had been broken up from motives of economy, and naval stores sold, for the most part, to the French. Pitt declared that only twenty-three gunboats had been built since January, 1803, and that the whole management of the navy was inert.

Such was the state of things in Ireland when the news of the French Revolution arrived and produced an electric effect throughout the country. The danger of permitting such atrocious incitements to civil war to be circulated among the people was obvious to every one, and yet Lord Clarendon allowed this propagandism of rebellion and revolution to go on with impunity for months.? Mitchel might have been arrested and prosecuted for seditious libels any day; the newsvendors who hawked the United Irishman through the streets might have been taken up by the police, but the Government still remained inactive. Encouraged by this impunity, the revolutionary party had established confederate clubs, by means of which they were rapidly enlisting and organising the artisans of the city, at whose meetings the most treasonable proceedings were adopted. From the Painting by J. Trumbull. On the 12th of February, 1843, Outram persuaded the Ameers, who were in deadly fear of Napier, to sign the treaty. But the negotiator, who continued to place implicit confidence in the pacific professions of the Ameersthey being anxious to gain time till the hot weather should come, and give them an advantage against their enemieswas convinced of his mistake by a treacherous attack made on the British residency; the Ameers boasting that "every man, woman, and child belonging to the British army in Scinde should be collected on the field of battle, and have their throats cut, except the general, who should be led, chained, with a ring in his nose to the durbar." Outram's garrison consisted only of 100 soldiers, with forty rounds of ammunition each, with which he had to defend himself against 8,000 men with six guns. The British fired with effect from behind a wall till their ammunition was exhausted, when they slowly retired till they got safe on board the British steamers, protected by their guns, which swept the flank of the enemy. The war had now come in earnest, and so Sir Charles Napier resolved to show the Ameers what British troops could do. The odds were greatly against him, for he had but 8,600 men, of whom only 400 were Europeans, with which he was to engage an army 22,000 strong, with 5,000 horse, and fifteen guns, all well posted in a strong position at Meeanee. It required marvellous hardihood in the veteran warrior of the Peninsula to enter upon such an unequal contest. But it was the first time that the ambition of his life was realisedin being placed in a position of supreme commandand he longed to show the world how worthily he could have filled it long ago. The officers who fought under him in that memorable battle deserve to be mentioned. Major Lloyd commanded the Artillery, Captain Henderson the Sappers and Miners; next to them stood the 22nd, commanded by Colonel Pennefather; Colonel Teesdale led the 25th Sepoys; Colonel Read the 12th Native Infantry; Major Clibborne the Bengal Engineers; Colonel Pattle the 9th Bengal Horse; and Captain[592] Tait the Poonah Horse. The plain between the two armies was about 1,000 yards in breadth. The space was rapidly passed over. Napier's men rushed forward, and crossing the bed of a river which intervened, they ran up the slope, while the artillery of the Beloochees fired over their heads. Reaching the summit, they beheld, for the first time, the camp of the enemy, which was carried by the 22nd. The Native Infantry also behaved well, and while the little army was doing terrible execution upon the enemy, the artillery swept their ranks with shot and shell. Nevertheless, they fought bravely, and held their ground for three hours in a hand to hand encounter with their assailants. The chasms which were repeatedly made by the guns in the living mass were quickly filled up by those behind rushing forward to the conflict. The pressure of numbers bearing down the hill seemed more than once on the point of overwhelming the British, and obliterating their "thin red lines." Nearly all the officers were killed or wounded. Everything now depended upon the cavalry, which were commanded by Colonel Pattle, who was ordered to charge instantly. They went at full gallop through the jungle: fifty were thrown off their horses, but the rest pressed on, ascended the ridge of the hill, dashed into the thick of the enemy's ranks, fiercely cutting their way with their swords right and left, trampling down the men under their horses' feet, never ceasing till they had traversed the whole camp. The confusion and wavering thus occasioned gave courage to the infantry. The Irish and the Sepoys, raising the cry of victory, pressed on with fury, drove the enemy back down the hill, and compelled them to retreat, abandoning their guns, their ammunition, and their baggage, leaving their dead on the field, and marking their course by a long train of killed and wounded. Their loss was estimated at 5,0001,000 bodies being found in the bed of the river. The British loss was almost incredibly small: six officers and fifty-four privates killed, fourteen officers and 109 men wounded.

[See larger version] "The Clare election supplied the manifest proof of an abnormal and unhealthy condition of the public mind in Irelandthe manifest proof that the sense of a common grievance and the sympathies of a common interest were beginning to loosen the ties which connect different classes of men in friendly relations to each other, to weaken the force of local and personal attachments, and to unite the scattered elements of society into a homogeneous and disciplined mass, yielding willing obedience to the assumed authority of superior intelligence hostile to the law and to the Government which administered it. There is a wide distinction (though it is not willingly recognised by a heated party) between the hasty concession to unprincipled agitation and provident precaution against the explosion of public feeling gradually acquiring the strength which makes it irresistible. 'Concede nothing to agitation,' is the ready cry of those who are not responsiblethe vigour of whose decisions is often proportionate to their own personal immunity from danger, and imperfect knowledge of the true state of affairs. A prudent Minister, before he determines against all concessionagainst any yielding or compromise of former opinionsmust well consider what it is that he has to resist, and what are his powers of resistance. His task would be an easy one if it were sufficient to resolve that he would yield nothing to violence or to the menace of physical force. In this case of the Clare election, and of its natural consequences, what was the evil to be apprehended? Not force, not violence, not any act of which law could take cognisance. The real danger was in the peaceable and legitimate exercise of a franchise according to the will and conscience of the holder. In such an exercise of that franchise, not merely permitted, but encouraged and approved by constitutional law, was involved a revolution of the electoral system in Irelandthe transfer of political power, so far as it was connected with representation, from one party to another. The actual transfer was the least of the evil; the process by which it was to be effectedthe repetition in each county of the scenes of the Clare electionthe fifty-pound free-holders, the gentry to a man polling one way, their alienated tenantry anotherall the great interests of the county broken down'the universal desertion' (I am quoting the expressions of Mr. Fitzgerald)the agitator and the priest laughing to scorn the baffled landlordthe local heaving and throes of society on every casual vacancy in a countythe universal convulsion at a general electionthis was the danger to be apprehended; those were the evils to be resisted. What was the power of resistance? 'Alter the law, and remodel the franchise,' was the ready, the improvident response. If it had been desired to increase the strength of a formidable confederacy, and, by rallying round it the sympathies of good men and of powerful parties in Great Britain, to insure for it a signal triumph, to extinguish the hope of effecting an amicable adjustment of the Catholic question, and of applying a corrective to the real evils and abuses of elective franchise, the best way to attain these pernicious ends would have been to propose to Parliament, on the part of the Government, the abrupt extinction of the forty-shilling franchise in Ireland, together with the continued maintenance of civil disability."

About a week before the king died the physician delicately announced to him the inevitable catastrophe, when he said, "God's will be done." His sufferings were very great, and during the paroxysms of pain his moans were heard even by the sentinels in the quadrangle. On the night of the 25th of June his difficulty of breathing was unusually painful, and he motioned to his page to alter his position on the couch. Towards three o'clock he felt a sudden attack of faintness, accompanied by a violent discharge of blood. At this moment he attempted to raise his hand to his breast, and ejaculated, "O God, I am dying!" Two or three seconds afterwards he said, "This is death." The physicians were instantly called, but before they arrived the breath of life was gone. A post mortem examination showed ossification of the heart, which was greatly enlarged, and adhering to the neighbouring parts. The liver was not diseased; but the lungs were ulcerated, and there were dropsical symptoms on the skin, on various parts of the body. The king was an unusually large and, at one time, well-proportioned man; but he afterwards became very corpulent. He died on the 26th of June, in the sixty-eighth year of his age and the eleventh of his reign, having been Prince Regent for ten years. During his last illness the bulletins had been unusually deceptive. The king was anxious to put away the idea of dissolution from his own mind, and unwilling that the public should know that his infirmities were so great; and it was said that he required to see the bulletins and to have them altered, so that he was continually announced as being better till the day of his death. His message to both Houses on the 24th of May, however, put an end to all delusion on the subject. He wished to be relieved from the pain and trouble of signing Bills and documents with his own hand. A Bill was therefore passed to enable him to give his assent verbally, but it was jealously guarded against being made a dangerous precedent. The stamp was to be affixed in the king's presence, by his immediate order given by word of mouth. A memorandum of the circumstances must accompany the stamp, and the document stamped must be previously endorsed by three members of the Privy Council; the operation of the Act was limited to the existing Session. The three Commissioners appointed for affixing his Majesty's signature were Lord Farnborough, General Sir W. Keppel, and Major-General A. F. Barnard.