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Pitt had returned to office in anything but promising circumstances. Britain was at war with a great nation, and as yet the coalition which he was laboriously building up was far from being complete. Pitt's health was failing: his energies were prematurely worn out by the gigantic task that was forced upon him; his end was fast approaching, and his majority was shrunk and attenuated to an alarming degree. The Fox and Grenville opposition held together firmly, and Addington had carried a strong party along with him on retiring. Pitt felt his situation keenly and the king was sensibly alarmed at it. He attempted to conciliate Grenville, but, as Fox could not be accepted too, that failed. He then turned to Addington, and as the king was favourably disposed to his old minister, he warmly recommended this coalition. It was effected, and Addington was made a peer鈥擵iscount Sidmouth, of Sidmouth. This was one of those rapid political promotions of George III.'s reign in which politics were made to ennoble men of no particular mark or abilities; and certainly the son of Pitt's father's doctor had never shown those splendid talents or rendered those brilliant services which justified such an elevation. But, as Pitt would take the lead in the Commons, it was, no doubt, felt more convenient that one who had lately been Prime Minister should not serve under the present Prime Minister, but should represent the Cabinet in the Upper House. There were some other changes at the same time. The Duke of Portland, who was growing old and infirm, retired from the post of President of the Council, which Sidmouth took up. Lord Harrowby, a warm friend of Pitt, retired, in consequence of continued illness, from the Foreign Department, and Lord Mulgrave took it, the Earl of Buckinghamshire succeeding to Lord Mulgrave's post as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster..
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During that evening and night there were serious contentions between the mob and the soldiers still posted in front of Sir Francis's house, and one man was shot by the military. Scarcely had the sheriffs quitted the house of the besieged baronet on the Sunday morning, supposing no attempt at capture would take place that day, when the serjeant-at-arms presented himself with a party of police, and demanded entrance, but in vain. All that day, and late into the night, the mob continued to insult the soldiers who kept guard on the baronet's house, and an order being given at night to clear the streets around, the mob broke the lamps, and threw all into darkness. They then carried away the scaffolding from a house under repair, and made a barricade across[597] Piccadilly, which was, however, removed by the soldiers; and the rain falling in torrents, the mob dispersed.
The Government now resolved to follow up the vigorous step they had so tardily taken, by the prosecution of O'Connell and several leading members of the Association. They were arrested in Dublin on the 14th of October, charged with conspiracy, sedition, and unlawful assembly. The other gentlemen included in the prosecution were Mr. John O'Connell, Mr. Thomas Steele, Mr. Ray, Secretary to the Repeal Association, Dr. Gray, proprietor of the Freeman's Journal, Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy, editor of the Nation, Mr. Barrett, of the Pilot, and the Rev. Messrs. Tyrrell and Tierney, Roman Catholic priests. Mr. O'Connell, with his two sons and several friends, immediately on his arrest, went to the house of Mr. Justice Burton, and entered into recognisances, himself in 锟1,000, with two sureties of 锟500 each. The tone of Mr. O'Connell was now suddenly changed. From being inflammatory, warlike, and defiant, it became intensely pacific, and he used his utmost efforts to calm the minds of the people, to lay the storm he had raised, and to soothe the feelings he had irritated by angry denunciations of the "Saxon." That obnoxious word was now laid aside, being, at his request, struck out of the Repeal vocabulary, because it gave offence. Real conciliation was now the order of the day.
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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