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Many improvements were made also in the glass manufacture during this reign, and more would undoubtedly have been made but for the very heavy duties upon it to help to support the ruinous wars of the period. In 1760, the first year of the reign, crown glass is said to have been introduced. In 1763 the first glass plates for looking-glasses and coach-windows were made at Lambeth. In 1779 flint-glass was first made; and about that time plate-glass. The duties on different kinds of glass at that date were about one hundred and forty thousand pounds per annum. So oppressive were those duties that, in 1785, the St. Helens Plate-glass Company petitioned Parliament, stating that, in consequence of the weight of taxation, notwithstanding an expenditure of one hundred thousand pounds, they had not been able to declare a dividend. [See larger version]

In the House of Lords the comments on the Ministerial measures were characterised by much bitterness, both against the Government and the League; and the Duke of Richmond asked why Mr. Cobden was not created a peer, and placed on the Treasury Bench in the House of Lords? In the Commons the excitement among the Protectionist party was no less manifest; but the crowded House waited impatiently for the Minister's explanations. Lord Francis Egerton moved the Address, giving the key-note of the Ministerial plans by declaring that his own opinions on the Corn Laws had undergone a complete alteration, and imploring the House to come to "a full, satisfactory, and final settlement of the question." Mr. Beckett Denison, who seconded the motion, declared that experience had "driven" him to the same conclusion.

Every one knows how well these instructions were carried out; how the final hope of Napoleon was destroyed by the conflagration of Moscow, and the terrors of that fearful retreat, in which clouds of Cossacks, mingling with those of the snow and hail, completed the most horrible tragedy which the history of wars from the world's foundation contains; with what consummate ability Bernadotte led his Swedes, through all the great and eventful campaign of 1813, from Leipsic to Paris, and how he received his rewardthe possession of Norway, and a family compact between himself and the Czar of Russia; while Denmark, with a fatal blindness to the signs of the times, adhered to the falling power, and became, like Saxony, dismembered and debilitated.

The Ministry lost no time in introducing their Irish measuresthe new Municipal Reform Bill and the Bill for the Relief of the Poor. The former, after three nights' debate, passed the Commons by a majority302 to 247. It was during this debate that Mr. Sheil delivered his brilliant reply to the indiscreet and unstatesmanlike taunt of Lord Lyndhurst, who, when speaking on the same question in the Upper House, declared that the Irish were "aliens in blood, in language, and religion." "The Duke of Wellington," said Mr. Sheil, "is not a man of sudden emotions; but he should not, when he heard that word used, have forgotten Vimiera, Badajoz, and Salamanca, and Toulouse, and the last glorious conflict which crowned all his former victories. On that day, when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance, when the batteries spread slaughter over the field, and the legions of France rushed again and again to the onset, did the 'aliens' then flinch? On that day the blood of the men of England, of Ireland, and of Scotland was poured forth together. They fought on the same field, they died the same death, they were stretched in the same pit; their dust was commingled; the same dew of heaven fell on the grass that covered them; the same grass sprang from the soil in which they reposed together. And is it to be endured that we are to be called aliens and strangers to that empire for whose salvation our best blood has been poured out?"

Undaunted by his defeat, he immediately offered himself for Middlesex, and there, though the mob could not vote, they could act for him. They assembled in vast numbers, shouting, "Wilkes and Liberty!" They accompanied him to the poll; they stopped all the roads that led to the hustings at Brentford, suffering no one to pass who was not for Wilkes and liberty. His zealous supporters wore blue cockades or paper in their hats, inscribed "Wilkes and Liberty," or "No. 45." At night they assembled in the streets, insisting on people illuminating their houses in honour of Wilkes; abused all Scotsmen they met; scribbled "No. 45" on the panels of carriages as they passed; made the parties in them shout their favourite cry; broke the windows of Lord Bute at the West End, and of Harley, the Lord Mayor, at the Mansion Housethe same Harley, a younger brother of the Earl of Oxford, who, as sheriff, had had to burn No. 45 of the North Briton in Cornhill. By such means the mob managed to return Wilkes at the very head of the poll.