A regrettable episode in this rebellious movement occurred on the 29th of April in the city of Limerick. The Sarsfield Club in that place invited Messrs. Smith O'Brien, Mitchell, and Meagher to a public soire. The followers of O'Connell, known as the Old Ireland party, being very indignant at the treatment O'Connell had received from the Young Ireland leaders, resolved to take this opportunity of punishing the men who had broken the heart of the Liberator. They began by burning John Mitchel in effigy, and, placing the flaming figure against the window where the soire was held, they set fire to the building. As the company rushed out they were attacked by the mob. Mr. Smith O'Brien, then member for the county of Limerick, was roughly handled. He was struck with a stone in the face, with another in the back of the head, and was besides severely hurt by a blow on the side. Had it not been for the protection of some friends who gathered round him, he would probably have been killed. The Covent Garden meeting became thenceforth an annual feature in the political events of the metropolis, and the effects of this movement in the chief city of the kingdom were seen in the election of Mr. Pattison, the Free Trade candidate, for the City of London. Another sign of the times was the accession to the ranks of the Anti-Corn-Law League of Mr. Samuel Jones Loyd, the wealthy banker, a conspicuous City man, and a great[509] authority on financial matters. This gentleman addressed a letter to the council of the League in October, 1844, in which, after mentioning his reluctance to join a public body, for whose acts he could not be responsible, he said, "The time is now arrived when this must be overruled by other considerations of overwhelming importance. The great question of Free Trade is now fairly at issue, and the bold, manly, and effectual efforts which have been made by the League in its support command at once my admiration and my concurrence." Still more remarkable was the progress of the League in its scheme of converting the agriculturists themselves to their views. The truths which they had always maintainedthat the tenant farmer had no real interest in maintaining the Corn Laws, the agricultural labourer, if possible, less, and that even the landed proprietor, on a far-seeing view of his interest, would be on the same side as themselveswere based upon arguments easily understood by calm reasoners, and were even beginning to make way with these classes themselves. Not a few great landowners and noblemen had openly classed themselves among their supporters. Foremost among these was Earl Fitzwilliam, who was one of the most effective speakers at Anti-Corn-Law meetings by the side of Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright. Among the noblemen openly supporting their cause were the Marquis of Westminster, Lord Kinnaird, Earl Ducie, the Earl of Radnor, Lord Morpeth, and Earl Spencer.

Since the appearance of the Waverley Novels the poetry of Scott has been somewhat depreciated, but his metrical romances, if not of the highest class of poetry, are always fresh, from their buoyancy and the scenery in which they are laid. They are redolent of the mountain heather and summer dews; and the description of the sending of the "fiery cross" over the hills, and the battle in "Marmion," as well as other portions, are instinct with genuine poetic vigour. Campbell, who won an early reputation by his "Pleasures of Hope," is more esteemed now for his heroic ballads "Hohenlinden," "The Battle of the Baltic," and his "Mariners of England;" Moore, for his "Irish Melodies," than for his "Lalla Rookh;" Byron, for his "Childe Harold," rather than for his earlier love tales of the East, or his later dramatic poems. Amongst the very highest of the poets of that period stands Percy Bysshe Shelley (b. 1792; d. 1822), the real poet of spiritual music, of social reformation, and of the independence of man. Never did a soul inspired by a more ardent love of his fellow-creatures receive such a bitter portion of unkindness and repudiation. John Keats, of a still more delicate and shrinking temperament, also received, in return for strains of the purest harmony, a sharp judgment, in no degree, however, equal to the severity of that dealt out to Shelley. In his "Ode to a Grecian Urn," and his "Lamia," Keats left us examples of beauty of conception and felicity of expression not surpassed since the days of Shakespeare. In his "Hyperion" he gave equal proof of the strength and grandeur to which he would have attained.

In history, as in fiction, a new school of writers arose during this period, at the head of which stood Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon. David Hume (b. 1711; d. 1776) had already acquired a great reputation by his "Philosophical Essays concerning the Human Understanding," his "Inquiry into the Principles of Morals," and his "Natural History of Religion." In these metaphysical works he had indulged his extreme sceptical tendency, and in the "Essay on Miracles" believed that he had exploded the Christian religion. His works on this subject did not, at first, gain much attention; but in a while were seized on by the deistical and atheistical philosophers in Britain and on the Continent, and have furnished them with their principal weapons. The first two volumes of history met for a time with the same cold reception as his metaphysics. He commenced with that favourite period with historiansthe reigns of James I. and Charles I.because then began the great struggle for the destruction of the Constitution, followed by the still more interesting epoch of its battle for and triumph over its enemies. Hume had all the Tory prejudices of the Scottish Jacobite, and the reigns of James I. and Charles I. were extremely to his taste, but as little to that of the English public. Hence the dead silence with which it was received. But when there had been time to read the second volume, containing the Commonwealth and the reigns of Charles II. and James II., the storm broke out. In these he had run counter to all the received political ideas of the age. But this excitement raised both volumes into notice, and he then went back, and, in[176] 1759, published two more volumes, containing the reigns of the Tudors; and, going back again, in 1762 he completed his history by bringing it down from the invasion of Julius C?sar to the accession of Henry VII. It was afterwards, as has been mentioned, continued by Smollett.