Vol IV CHAPTER I THE REIGN OF ANNE (concluded).
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The cider tax passed, opposed by thirty-nine Peers and a hundred and twenty Commoners; but it left a very sore feeling in the western counties, that cider, worth only five shillings a hogshead, the poor man's meagre beverage, should have a tax levied on it nearly doubling the price; whilst that at fifty shillings a hogshead, the rich man's luxury, only paid the same. The growers even threatened to let the apples fall and rot under the trees, rather than make them into cider, subject to so partial a tax. No imposition had excited so much indignation since Sir Robert Walpole's Excise Bill, in 1733. In the cider counties bonfires were made in many places, and Bute was burnt emblematically as a jack-bootJack Buteand his supposed royal mistress under that of a petticoat, which two articles, after being carried about on poles, were hurled into the flames.The news, when it reached England, produced a transport of exultation. Bells were rung, cannon fired, and great rejoicings made, anticipatory of fresh tidings of wonderful success. But very different was the reality. Wentworth called on Vernon to bombard Carthagena from the harbour, whilst he assailed it on land; but Vernon replied that he could not get near enough to attack the town effectually, and that Wentworth must attempt the reduction of the Fort San Lazaro, which commanded the town, and might be taken by escalade. This was attempted, and while our men were thus standing under a murderous fire, they discovered, to their consternation, that their scaling ladders were too short. But the escalade was persisted in: they remained splicing their ladders, and a detachment of Grenadiers, under Colonel Grant, reached the top of a rampart; but Grant was instantly killed, and the Grenadiers hurled back over the wall. Still, the bull-dog spirit of the English made them persist in this desperate attempt, till six hundredthat is, half of them, lay dead, when they drew off.