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    Slider 1 The success of the Duke of Wellington in carrying Emancipation was fatal to his Government. Almost to a man the Tories fell from him, and he found no compensation in the adhesion of the Whigs. The latter were glad that their opponents had been induced to settle the question, a result which they had long desired, but had not the power to accomplish. Their gratitude, however, for this great service to the public was not sufficiently warm to induce them to enlist under the banner of the Duke of Wellington, though they were ready to come to his assistance, to protect his Government for a time against the violent assaults of the party whose feelings and prejudices he had so grievously outraged. All parties seem, indeed, to have been exhausted by the violence of the struggle, and there was no desire to attempt anything important in the way of legislation during the remainder of the Session. There was nothing extraordinary in the Budget, and it was accepted without much objection. The subject of distress among the operatives gave rise to a debate which occupied two days, and a motion for inquiry into its causes was rejected. The trade which suffered most at the time was the silk trade. It was stated that, in 1824, there were 17,000 looms employed in Spitalfields; now there were only 9,000. At the former period wages averaged seventeen shillings a week, now the average was reduced to nine shillings. By the manufacturers this depression was ascribed to the relaxation of the prohibitory system, and the admission of foreign silks into the home market. On the other hand, Ministers, and the advocates of Free Trade, ascribed the depression to the increase of production, and the rivalry of the provincial towns of Congleton, Macclesfield, and Manchester. That the general trade had increased was shown by the vast increase in the quantity of raw silk imported, and in the number of spindles employed in the silk manufacture. The Government was firm in its hostility to the prohibitory system, and would not listen to any suggestion for relief, except a reduction in the duties on the importation of raw silk, by which the demand for the manufactured article might be augmented. While these discussions were going on in Parliament the silk-weavers were in a state of violent agitation, and their discontent broke forth in acts of lawlessness and destructive outrage. They were undoubtedly in a very miserable condition. It was ascertained that there were at Huddersfield 13,000 persons, occupied in a fancy trade, whose average earnings did not exceed twopence-halfpenny a day, out of which they had to meet the wear and tear of looms, etc. The artisans ascribed this reduction to the avarice of their employers, and they avenged themselves, as was usual in those times, by combination, strikes, and destruction of property. In Spitalfields bands of weavers entered the workshops and cut up the materials belonging to refractory masters. The webs in thirty or forty looms were sometimes thus destroyed in a single night. The same course was pursued at Macclesfield, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Bedworth, in which towns power-looms had been introduced which enabled one man to do the work of four. The reign of terror extended to Yorkshire, and in several places the masters were compelled to succumb, and to accept a list of prices imposed by the operatives. In this way the distress was greatly aggravated by their ignorance. What they demanded was a restrictive system, which it was impossible to restore. The result obtained was simply a reduction of the duties on raw silk.

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    On the 13th of February the Opposition in the Commons brought on the question of the validity of general warrants. The debate continued all that day and the next night till seven o'clock in the morning. The motion was thrown out; but Sir William Meredith immediately made another, that a general warrant for apprehending the authors, printers, and publishers of a seditious libel is not warranted by law. The combat was renewed, and Pitt made a tremendous speech, declaring that if the House resisted Sir William Meredith's motion, they would be the disgrace of the present age, and the reproach of posterity. He upbraided Ministers with taking mean and petty vengeance on those who did not agree with them, by dismissing them from office. This charge Grenville had the effrontery to deny, though it was a notorious fact. As the debate approached its close, the Ministers called in every possible vote; "the sick, the lame were hurried into the House, so that," says Horace Walpole, "you would have thought they had sent a search warrant into every hospital for Members of Parliament." When the division came, which was only for the adjournment of Meredith's motion for a month, they only carried it by fourteen votes. In the City there was a confident anticipation of the defeat of Ministers, and materials had been got together for bonfires all over London, and for illuminating the Monument. Temple was said to have faggots ready for bonfires of his own.

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    The most interesting of all the debates that occurred in the House of Commons during the Session of 1850 was that which took place on the foreign policy of Great Britain, particularly with reference to Greece. The House of Lords had passed a vote of censure upon the Government, by a majority of thirty-seven, on a motion brought forward by Lord Stanley, and folk were anxious to see how the House of Commons would deal with that fact. On the 20th of June Lord John Russell read the resolution, and said, "We are not going in any respect to alter the course of conduct we have thought it right to pursue in respect of foreign Powers, in consequence of that resolution." He concluded his speech with the following bold defiance, which elicited general and protracted cheering:"So long as we continue the Government of this country, I can answer for my noble friend [Lord Palmerston] that he will act not as a Minister of Austria, or of Russia, or of France, or of any other country, but as the Minister of England. The honour of England and the interests of Englandsuch are the matters that are within our keeping; and it is to that honour and to those interests that our conduct will in future be, as it has hitherto been, directed."

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