There was besides a tax called Church Cess, levied by Protestants in vestry meetings upon Roman Catholics for cleaning the church, ringing the bell, washing the minister's surplice, purchasing bread and wine for the communion, and paying the salary of the parish clerk. This tax was felt to be a direct and flagrant violation of the rights of conscience, and of the principles of the British Constitution; and against it there was a determined opposition, which manifested itself in tumultuous and violent assemblages at the parish churches all over the country on Easter Monday, when the rector or his curate, as chairman of the meeting, came into angry collision with flocks who disowned him, and denounced him as a tyrant, a persecutor, and a robber.

[See larger version] The Parliamentary Session for 1845 was opened by the Queen in person on the 4th of February. At a meeting a few days earlier, Mr. Cobden had warned his hearers that no change in the Corn Laws could be expected from Sir Robert Peel so long as the Ministry could avail themselves of the old excuse, the revived prosperity of manufactures and commerce. "Ours," he had said, "is a very simple proposition. We say to the right honourable baronet, 'Abolish the monopolies which go to enrich that majority which placed you in power and keeps you there.' We know he will not attempt it; but we are quite certain he will make great professions of being a Free Trader, notwithstanding."

Buonaparte's army now occupied the city and the right bank of the Danube. The archduke arrived, and posted himself on the left bank. The river was swollen with the spring rains and the melting of the snow in the mountains. All the bridges had been broken down by which Buonaparte might cross to attack the Austrians before they were joined by their other armies. Buonaparte endeavoured to throw one over at Nussdorf, about a league above Vienna, but the Austrians drove away his men. He therefore made a fresh attempt at Ebersdorf, opposite to which the Danube was divided into five channels, flowing amongst islands, the largest of which was one called Lobau. Here he succeeded, the Archduke Charles seeming unaware of what he was doing, or taking no care to prevent it. On the 20th of May the French began to cross, and deployed on a plain between the villages of Aspern and Esslingen. Thirty thousand infantry had crossed before the next morning, and six thousand horse, and they were attacked by the Austrians, near the village of Aspern, about four in the afternoon. The battle was desperately contested on both sides. The villages of Aspern and Esslingen were taken and retaken several times. The struggle went on with great fury, amid farm-yards, gardens, and enclosures, and waggons, carts, harrows, and ploughs were collected and used as barricades. Night closed upon the scene, leaving the combatants on both sides in possession of some part or other of these villages. On the following morning, the 22nd, the fight was renewed, and, after a terrible carnage, the French were driven back on the river. At this moment news came that the bridge connecting the right bank with the islands was broken down, and the communication of the French army was in danger of being altogether cut off. Buonaparte, to prevent this, retreated into the island of Lobau with the whole of the combating force, and broke down the bridge which connected the islands with the left bank behind them. The Austrians followed keenly upon them in their retreat, and inflicted a dreadful slaughter upon them. Marshal Lannes had both his legs shattered by a cannon-ball, and was carried into the island in the midst of the mle; General St. Hilaire also was killed. The loss in killed and wounded on both sides amounted to upwards of forty thousand. For two days Napoleon remained on the island, with his defeated troops, without provisions, and expecting hourly to be cut to pieces. General Hiller earnestly pressed the Archduke Charles to allow him to pass the Danube, by open force, opposite to the isle of Enzersdorf, where it might be done under cover of cannon, pledging himself to compel the surrender of Buonaparte and his army. But the archduke appeared under a spell from the moment that the fighting was over. Having his enemy thus cooped up, it was in his power to cut off all his supplies. By crossing the river higher or lower, he could have kept possession of both banks, and at once have cut off Buonaparte's magazines at Ebersdorf, under Davoust, from which he was separated by the inundation. By any other general, the other armies under his brother would have been ordered up by express; every soldier and every cannon that Austria could muster within any tolerable distance would have been summoned to surround and secure the enemy, taken at such disadvantage. In no other country but Austria could Napoleon have ever left that island but as a prisoner with a surrendered army. Measures to alter this disgraceful state of things were repeatedly introduced, but as steadily rejected. The collection of tithes seemed to occupy the chief attention of the Established clergy of Ireland, even where they rendered no spiritual services, and eventually led to a state of irritation and of dire conflict between the Protestant incumbent and the Catholic population which did not cease till after the death of George III. The clergyman called in the soldiery to assist him in the forcible levying of tithes, and the bloodshed and frightful plunder of the poor huts of the Irish in this bellum ecclesiasticum became the scandal of all Christendom ere it was ended by the Act of a later reign, which transferred the collection of tithes to the landlord in the shape of rent.

The Americans did not make their Declaration of Independence till they had communicated with France. The British Government, as Lord North publicly declared in Parliament, had long heard of American emissaries at Paris seeking aid there. A secret committee, which had Thomas Paine for its secretary, was appointed to correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world. Encouraged by the assurances of France, the secret committee was soon converted into a public one, and agents were sent off to almost every court of Europe to invite aid of one kind or another against the mother country, not omitting even Spain, Naples, Holland and Russia. Silas Deane was dispatched to Paris in March of this year, to announce the growing certainty of a total separation of the colonies from Great Britain, and to solicit the promised co-operation. After the coronation, the queen resided at Brandenburgh House, determined to lead a life of dignified retirement. But the violent agitation and excitement, and the terribly painful mortification to which she was subjected in her ill-advised attempt to form part of the coronation pageant, were too much for her constitution. As soon as it was evident that her end was approaching, much public sympathy was excited, and the vicinity of her residence was incessantly thronged with persons of all classes making anxious inquiries about her health, and solicitous for her restoration. On the 4th of August, when her professional advisers were receiving instructions about the disposition of her property, one of them suggested the propriety of sending a messenger to Italy to seal up her papers, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of her enemies. "And what if they do?" she exclaimed; "I have no papers that they may not see. They can find nothing, because there is nothing, nor ever has been, to impeach my character." One of them said that he was aware of that, but her enemies might put there what they did not find. She replied, "I have always defied their malice, and I defy it still." Nevertheless, it was her conscious failure in her efforts to make the public believe this, coupled with the public humiliation to which she had been subjected, that bowed down her spirit at last, and gave the victory to her enemies. She had painted their characters in vivid colours in her private diary, and might have transmitted their punishment to posterity had she ordered it to be preserved and published; but she gave directions to have it destroyed, and it was burnt in her presence by one of her foreign maids. After suffering intensely for four or five days, she sank into a stupor, from which she never woke, and on the 7th of August, after an entire absence of sense and faculty for more than two hours, expired Caroline of Brunswick, Queen Consort of George IV., in the fifty-fourth year of her age. She had by her bedside in her last hours her faithful friends and constant attendants, Lord and Lady Hood, and Lady Anne Hamilton; Alderman Wood, who had been devoted to her interests from the first, was also present, as well as her legal and medical advisers.

Perhaps there is no cause from which Ireland has suffered more than from misrepresentations. Nowhere have the want of discrimination, and due allowance for the extravagant exaggerations of vehement partisans, been more pernicious. There were in the reign of George IV. no evils in Ireland which would not have yielded to the action of just and impartial government, removing real grievances, and extending to the people, in a confiding spirit, the blessings of the British Constitution, in the spirit of Lord Wellesley's administration. He had to contend, indeed, with peculiar difficulties. Ireland shared largely in the general distress of the United Kingdom, occasioned by the contraction of the currency, and the consequent low prices of agricultural produce. He found a great portion of the south in a state of licentiousness, surpassing the worst excesses of former unhappy times; he had to deal with dangerous and secret conspiracies in other parts of the country. He applied the energies of his powerful mind to master these complicated difficulties in the spirit of conciliation which had been enjoined in the king's instructions. He explored every dangerous and untried path, and he laboured diligently, by the equal administration of the laws, to promote peace and happiness among all classes of the people. He succeeded to a great extent in accomplishing the object of his administration. Mr. Plunket, the Irish Attorney-General, in his speech on unlawful societies, in the House of Commons, in February, 1825, described the country as in a state of peace and prosperity. She had been enabled, by the noble lord at the head of the Government, and by the measures which he had matured, to enjoy the blessings which were the offspring of internal tranquillity. Those measures had been properly administered, and public confidence had been in consequence restored. "It was a great blessing," he said, "it was a most gratifying object, to behold that country now floating on the tide of public confidence and public prosperity. She was lying on the breakers, almost a wreck, when the noble marquis arrived; and if he had not taken the measures which have been so successfully adopted, she never could have floated on that tide of public prosperity."