The first report related to the duties and revenues of bishops. The Commissioners suggested various alterations of the boundaries of dioceses. They recommended the union of the sees of Gloucester and Bristol, and of Bangor and St. Asaph. They also recommended the establishment of two new sees, Ripon and Manchester. They calculated the net income of the bishoprics of England and Wales at 148,875. They found that, owing to the unequal manner in which this revenue was[408] distributed, the income of one-half the bishoprics was below the sum necessary to cover the expenses to which a bishop is unavoidably subject, which rendered it necessary to hold livings in commendam. To do away with this state of things, and with a view to diminish the inducements to episcopal translations, they recommended a different distribution of episcopal revenues. In the second and fourth reports, and the draft of the fifth report, they presented the result of their inquiries on cathedral and collegiate churches. They recommended the appropriation of part of their revenues, and of the whole of the endowments for non-residentiary prebends, dignitaries, and officers, and that the proceeds in both cases should be carried to the account of a fund, out of which better provision should be made for the cure of souls. In their second report they stated that they had prepared a Bill for regulating pluralities and the residence of the clergy.

The Marquis of Ely " " 45,000 The Ministry were now involved in a transaction which produced them a plentiful crop of unpopularity. The country was already highly disappointed by the character of the financial measures, and now saw them engaged in an attempt to gratify the domestic resentments of the Prince of Wales. We have already alluded to the[520] disreputable circumstances attending his marriage with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick. After little more than a year's cohabitation they separated, but not before a daughter was born. So long as the Pitt Administration continued, all offensive measures of a public nature were warded from the unfortunate princess. The king had always been her decided protector; but now the Whigs came in, who had ever been in alliance with the Prince of Wales, and that exemplary gentleman conceived hopes that he might rid himself of her. The public had been for some time scandalised by disputes between the prince and princess as to a proper separate allowance for her, and concerning the prince's endeavours to deprive her of the company of her own child; but, as he had not succeeded in taking away the infant, rumours were soon industriously spread that the princess, at Blackheath, was leading a very disreputable life. All that they could gather up or construe to the princess's disadvantage was duly communicated to the Duke of Sussex, and by the duke to his brother, the prince. In 1805 they had supplied their employer or employers with a most startling story of the princess's having been delivered of a son, whom she was openly keeping in her house, under pretence that it was the child of a poor woman of the name of Austin, which she had adopted. Immediate steps were taken privately to get up a case. On the 24th of May Lord Chancellor Erskine read the written statements to the king, who decided that a private inquiry should take place; that the house of Lord Grenville should be selected as the proper scene, and that Lords Erskine, Spencer, Grenville, and Ellenborough should undertake the inquiry and report to him upon it. This meeting and inquiry took place, accordingly, on the 1st of June. Romilly attended. The servants were examined, and appear, according to Romilly's diary, to have uniformly given the most favourable testimony to the conduct of the princess. Further: the reputed mother of the child, Sophia Austin, was examined, and proved that the child was veritably her own; had been born at the Brownlow Street Hospital on the 11th of July, 1802, and had been taken to the princess's house on the 15th of November, adopted by her, and had remained there ever since. "The result," says Romilly, "was a perfect conviction on my mind, and, I believe, on the minds of the four lords, that the child was the child of Sophia Austin." This affair of the Princess of Wales was not terminated till the end of January, 1807. When the report was laid before the king, he referred it to the Cabinet, and they advised him to send a written message to the princess, acquitting her of the main charge, but observing that he saw in the depositions of the witnesses, and even in her own letter to him, defending her conduct, evidence of a deportment unbecoming her station. The odium excited against the Ministry by these un-English proceedings was intense, especially amongst women, all over the country.


The Irish delegates described the condition of Ireland as most deplorable. They said that the Government interest, through the landed aristocracy, was omnipotent; that the manufacturers were unemployed; that an infamous coalition had taken place between the Irish Opposition and Ministry; that the Catholics had been bought up so that all parties might combine to crush Reform; that the United Irishmen were everywhere persecuted, and that one of them had only just escaped from a six months' imprisonment.


Imagining that the crowd would now disperse, the soldiers were dismissed, and the magistrates returned home. But this was premature. There were shoals of hot-headed fanatics, who were not willing to depart without some damage inflicted on the Catholics. One division of these attacked the Bavarian chapel in Warwick Lane, Golden Square, and another attacked the Sardinian chapel in Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, destroyed their interiors, and set them on fire. The engines arrived only in time to see a huge bonfire before the Sardinian chapel made of its seats, and both chapels too far in flames to be stopped; indeed, the mob would not allow the engines to play. The soldiers, too, arrived when it was too late to do anything, but seized thirteen of the rioters.

On the 15th of August Parliament was prorogued by the king in person. The Speech referred to the postponement of a final settlement between Holland and Belgium, which his Majesty regretted. He expressed lively satisfaction at the termination of the civil war in Portugal, and disappointment at the recurrence of disorders in Spain. He alluded with satisfaction to the numerous and important questions that had engaged the attention of Parliament, more especially the amendment of the Poor Laws, and the establishment of a central court for the trial of offenders in the metropolis and its vicinity. The important subjects of jurisprudence and the reform of municipal corporations remained to be considered in the next Session.