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dominions to consent to the independence of the colonies, and I will be the last man to do anything to injure it."
DOMESTIC HABITS AND CHARACTER OF GEORGE III.-HIS ILLNESS, AND THE JOY OF THE PEOPLE AT HIS RECOVERY.-IMPROVEMENTS IN MACHINERY AND MANUFACTURES.-USE OF THE STEAM-ENGINE. -INCREASE OF LONDON AND OTHER TOWNS.-VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY; CAPTAIN COOK.-JOHN HOWARD.-WILBERFORCE AND CLARKSON.-WAR IN INDIA.
(From 1783 to 1793.)
AFTER the conclusion of the peace with America, England enjoyed ten years' quietness. William Pitt, a son of the great Earl of Chatham, and the inheritor of his father's noble qualities as well as of his name, became the principal minister of state. The year after George the Third came to the throne, he had married the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh Strelitz. He lived, as far as it was possible, in retirement, surrounded by his children; and the palace presented a scene of domestic virtue and happiness such as had not for a very long while been witnessed at the court.
In public, the king behaved with great dignity; but in his hours of retirement, he delighted to go about plainly dressed, and conversing familiarly with every one whom he met; and there was a hearty homely good-nature in his character which made the people give him the name of "Farmer George." He was honoured, nevertheless, as much as he was loved, and well deserved to be so. Innumerable anecdotes are related of his pious and benevolent conduct, and
DOMESTIC HABITS OF GEORGE III.
none of them is more pleasing than that of his meeting with a poor ragged child, one day when he was out hunting, and had become separated from his attendants. The little girl, not knowing to whom she was speaking, begged him to come to her mother, who was very bad indeed. The king followed her to a wretched hovel, where he found a poor woman dying; and when his attendants, who had been in search of him, came up to the hut, they found him kneeling by the poor sufferer, and reading the Bible to her.
In the year 1788, the king was attacked with a serious illness, and his mind was so much affected that it was feared he would never regain his reason. But at the end of a few months, he recovered, and the joy of the nation was so great, that the king said it was quite worth while to have been ill that he might see the affectionate pleasure with which the people greeted his recovery.
During these years of peace, great improvements were made in the manufactures of the country. Just before the beginning of the American war, some ingenious men, of whom Arkwright is the most noted, had invented machines for spinning cotton far more quickly than it could be done by hand. Next came the invention of machinery for weaving, and some years afterwards, the use of the steam-engine to move all these and a thousand other machines.
James Watt, the very clever man who perfected the steam-engine, and first made engines fit for all kinds of machinery, began his useful labours about the year 1770. All these inventions proved of the greatest service; they enabled the manufacturers of Great Britain to work in cotton, wool, iron, &c. much better
and much more quickly and cheaply than before, so that they exported vast quantities of goods to foreign countries. This increase of trade brought great wealth to the nation, and enabled it to bear the burden of the long and terrible war in which Great Britain and all Europe were soon to be involved.
It was at this time that Liverpool, Manchester, and many other towns in the north of England, began to grow large and important. London too increased very much in size; the bridges at Blackfriars and Westminster were built during the first ten years of George the Third's reign.
At the same time that these inventions and improvements were being made at home, our countrymen were busily engaged in exploring unknown lands and seas. The king took great interest in these expeditions of discovery, and especially in the labours of Captain Cook, who made his three famous voyages between 1768 and 1779. Other voyagers were exploring the northernmost parts of America, and twenty thousand pounds were promised by Act of Parliament to any one who should find a northern passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
There was a traveller of a different kind who must not be forgotten even in this little history-John Howard, who went about to find out the miseries of the most guilty and wretched of his fellow-men, that he might relieve them. Being High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, his attention was drawn to the miserable condition of the prisoners in the county gaol. This led him to search into the state of other prisons, and he found them all alike; damp, filthy, unaired, and unwarmed.
He could not be happy till he had tried to get this great evil remedied; and when he had done all that he could for the prisons in England, he travelled into Italy, France, Germany, Russia, and Turkey. Everywhere he examined into the state of the prisons, and pleaded with the rulers of those countries that they would put a stop to the needless misery, and even cruelty, to which he found the prisoners were subjected. He died at Cherson, in South Russia, in January, 1790, far away from his own home and friends; but so much honoured by the natives of that country, that three thousand persons of all ranks followed him to the grave.
At the same time that Howard was pursuing his benevolent labours, other good men, and in particular Clarkson and Wilberforce, were taking pity on the negroes, and endeavouring to get the dreadful slavetrade between Africa and the West Indies abolished. Until this time, English people had not thought much about the slaves, and they knew hardly anything about the sufferings they endured during their passage to the West Indies. Wilberforce and his friends were obliged to labour hard for years before Englishmen generally could be made to understand the extreme misery to which the negroes were exposed.
In India, which was the only part of the British possessions where any war was going on, the English had found some determined enemies. Hyder Ali, who had raised himself from a soldier to be King of Mysore, and his son Tippoo Saib, were the most formidable. They hated the English, had numerous armies, and were assisted, like several other native princes, by French officers, who trained their soldiers
and taught them how to manage artillery. Warren Hastings, the most celebrated Governor whom England has ever sent to India, broke the power of Hyder; and some years afterwards, Tippoo Saib came to his end, being killed at the storming of his capital city, Seringapatam. But this was not till 1799, and by that time England had to deal with far more powerful enemies nearer home.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.-NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.--ARTHUR WELLESLEY. THE BATTLE OF ASSAYE.
(From 1789 to 1803.)
WHILE England was enjoying peace and prosperity, a terrible storm had been gathering over the kingdom of France. During a long time the kings of France had governed with absolute power, and for hundreds of years the middle and lower classes of the people had submitted to laws which, in England, would have been thought intolerably unjust. No man who was not of noble birth could rise to high office in the state, the church, or the army. The nobles and the clergy possessed two-thirds of all the land in France, yet they did not pay taxes like the rest of the people. The farmers and peasantry were subjected to innumerable exactions, and it was no uncommon thing for the poor to be almost in a state of famine.
For a long time, all this was endured with wonderful patience; but during the last fifty or sixty years, the evils which afflicted the country had become far worse than before. The last King of France,