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Mr. Morgan O'Connell soon found that he had no sinecure in undertaking to give satisfaction with the pistol for all his father's violations of the code of honour. Shortly after, Mr. Daniel O'Connell referred, in strong language, to an attack made upon him by Mr. Disraeli at Taunton:—"In the annals of political turpitude, there is not anything deserving the appellation of black-guardism to equal that attack upon me.... He possesses just the qualities of the impenitent thief who died upon the Cross; whose name, I verily believe, must have been Disraeli. For aught I know, the present Disraeli is descended from him; and with the impression that he is, I now forgive the heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the Cross." When Mr. Disraeli read this tremendous philippic, he wrote to Mr. Morgan O'Connell for satisfaction, which the latter denied his right to demand. He had not seen the attack, nor was he answerable for his father's words, though he had taken up his quarrel with Lord Alvanley. Not being able to get satisfaction by means of pistols, he had recourse to the pen; and, certainly, if O'Connell's attack was violent, the retaliation was not of the meekest. However, ink alone was spilt.Meanwhile, the British and Prussian armies advanced, and on the 1st of July Wellington was within a few miles of Paris, with his right on the heights of Richebourg, and his left on the forest of Bondy; and Blucher, at the same time, crossing the Seine on the 2nd, posted his army, with its right at Plessis-Piquet, his left at St. Cloud, and his reserve at Versailles. In this position, Commissioners were sent by the Provisional Government to Wellington, desiring a suspension of hostilities, informing him that Buonaparte had abdicated and retired from Paris. The Duke replied, that so long as the army remained in Paris there could be no suspension of hostilities, and that he had no authority to treat on any question of government. The Commissioners demanded whether the Allies would stop if Napoleon II. was proclaimed? Wellington said "No." Whether they would stop provided they chose another prince of a royal house?—probably meaning the Duke of Orleans. As the Duke said he had no orders to accept any such proposals, they were useless, and he handed to them the proclamation of Louis XVIII., offering to grant constitutional liberties, and to pardon all offenders, excepting a few who had committed the most recent and aggravated treason. These were supposed to mean Ney, Labédoyère, and some others. Wellington offered, however, to remain where he was on condition that the regular troops should be sent beyond the Loire, and the town be held by the National Guard till the king's arrival. The Commissioners did not comply with this demand; and the necessity of such compliance was sufficiently shown by this army disputing the advance of the Prussians on the 2nd of July. They had resisted Blucher at St. Cloud, Meudon, and in the village of Issy. Blucher succeeded, but with considerable loss; and the next day the French made another attack to recover Issy, but without effect.

In the eyes of the Conservatives the League was now the great cause of the political ferment that had spread throughout the land. In the Quarterly Review for December a long and elaborate indictment had been published against that body, and all who were in any way connected with them, in which it was attempted to show that the means by which the League sought to attain their objects were of the worst kind. The writer of the article hinted that the League's system of levying money for the avowed purpose of forcing Parliament to alter the law of the land was criminally punishable. A Mr. Bailey had stated, at one of the League meetings, that he had heard of a gentleman who, in private company, had said that if one hundred persons cast lots, and the lot should fall upon him, he would take the lot to deprive Sir Robert Peel of life. The teller of this injudicious anecdote added, that "he felt convinced that no such attempt ought to be made under any pretence whatever; but he was persuaded of this, that when Sir Robert Peel went to his grave there would be but few to shed one tear over it." The speaker was a minister of the Gospel, and there could be no doubt that he intended his anecdote only as an illustration of the frenzy to which some persons had been wrought by the political circumstances of the time; but this fact circulated by the great Tory organs, together with all the most violent and excited passages which could be found in the innumerable speeches delivered at League meetings, and in the pamphlets and other publications of that body, tended to create a vague horror of the Leaguers in the minds of that large class who read only writers on that side which accords with their own views.

The next month Pitt despatched a smaller fleet and force to destroy the port of Cherbourg, which the French had constructed under Cardinal Fleury, and, as they stated by an inscription, "for all eternity." This time the command was given to General Bligh. Howe was admiral, and on board with him went Prince Edward, afterwards Duke of York. On the 8th of August the troops were landed at Cherbourg, which was[131] deserted by the garrison, and they destroyed the forts and harbour, demolished a hundred and seventy pieces of iron cannon, and carried off twenty-two fine brass ones. After re-embarking and returning to Portsmouth, Bligh was ordered to pay another visit to St. Malo, but still found it too strong for him; yet he landed his men in the bay of St. Lunaire, about two leagues westward of St. Malo; and the weather immediately driving Howe to sea, the army was marched overland to St. Cast, some leagues off. The soldiers were allowed to rove about and plunder, till Bligh heard that the Duke of Aiguillon was advancing against them at the head of a strong force. Bligh then, but in no hurry, marched for the port of St. Cast, followed by Aiguillon, who waited till he had embarked all but one thousand five hundred men, when he fell upon them, and slaughtered a thousand of them in a hollow way amongst the rocks leading down to the shore.

The history of Hume was much over-estimated in his own time, in spite of the despotic notions which abound in it. It was held up as a marvel of eloquence and acuteness. But after times always correct the enthusiasm of contemporaries, and Hume's history has been found not in every case trustworthy. When we now, indeed, take up Hume, we are surprised to find it a very plain, clear narrative of events, with many oversights and perversions, and nothing more. We wonder where are the transcendent beauties which threw our readers of the eighteenth century into raptures for which language scarcely gave expression. Whoever will read the correspondence of contemporaries with Hume, will find him eulogised rather as a demi-god than a man, and his works described in extravagant strains of praise.Bolingbroke (b. 1678; d. 1751) must be named with the prose writers of the age. Amongst his writings there is little that will now interest the reader. He wrote in a brilliant and pretentious style, as he acted; and his writings, like his policy, are more showy than sound. As a cold sceptic in religion, and a Jacobite in politics, proud and essentially selfish in his nature, we are not likely to find anything from his pen which can strongly attract us, or is calculated to benefit us. In the Tory party, to which he belonged, he was one of those brilliant and self-complacent apparitions, which have all the[149] qualities of the meteor—dazzling, but speedily sinking into darkness, though his "Patriot King" had some temporary influence, and even furnishes the keynote to some of the earlier writings of Lord Beaconsfield.

A law in force since the time of Cromwell had provided that no merchandise from Asia, Africa, or America should be imported into Great Britain in any foreign ships; and not only the commander, but three-fourths of the crew, were required to be English. In addition to this restriction of our foreign commerce to English-built and English-manned ships, discriminating duties were imposed upon foreign ships from Europe, which had to pay more heavily than if the goods were imported under the British flag. The object of this system, which prevailed for one hundred and fifty years, was to maintain the ascendency of Britain as a Maritime Power. Adam Smith remarks that the Navigation Act may have proceeded from national rivalry and animosity towards Holland; but he held that its provisions were as beneficial as if they had been dictated by the most consummate wisdom. He admits, however, that they were not favourable to foreign commerce, or to the growth of that opulence that can arise from it, remarking, "As defence is of more value than opulence, the Act of Navigation is perhaps the wisest of all the commercial regulations of England." But had Adam Smith lived later on, he would have seen that the utmost freedom of commerce with foreign nations, and the most boundless opulence arising from it, are quite compatible with a perfect system of national defence; and whatever were the advantages of the restrictive system, other nations could act upon it as well as England. America did so, and thus commenced a war of tariffs equally injurious to herself and the mother country, causing the people of each to pay much more for most of the commodities they needed than they would have done if the markets of the world were open to them. The consequence was that both parties saw the folly of sending their ships across the Atlantic in ballast, and a commercial treaty was concluded in 1815, which put the shipping of both America and England upon an equal footing, and relieved them from the necessity of paying double freight. The reciprocity system was also partially adopted in our commerce with other countries. In 1822 Mr. Wallace had brought in four Bills, which made other important alterations. The 3 George IV., cap. 41, repealed certain statutes relating to foreign commerce which were passed before the Navigation Act. Another Act (cap. 42) repealed that part of the Navigation Act itself which required that goods of the growth or manufacture of Asia, Africa, and America should only be imported in British ships; and that no goods of foreign growth or manufacture should be brought from Europe, except from the place of their production, and in the ships of the country producing them. The next enactment prescribed certain specified goods to be brought to Great Britain from any port in Europe, in ships belonging to the ports of shipment. Two other Acts further extended freedom of commerce, and removed the vexatious restrictions that had hampered our colonial and coasting trade. In 1823 Prussia retaliated, as the United States had done, which led Mr. Huskisson to propose what are called the Reciprocity Acts, 4 George IV., cap. 77, and 5 George IV., cap. 1, which empowered the king, by Order in Council, to authorise the importation and exportation of goods in foreign ships from the United Kingdom, or from any other of his Majesty's dominions, on the same terms as in[240] British ships, provided it should first be proved to his Majesty and the Privy Council that the foreign country in whose favour the order was made had placed British ships in its ports on the same footing as its own ships. These enactments proved an immense advantage to the people of the nations affected by them, and satisfied all parties but the ship-owners, who cried out loudly that their interest was ruined. But their complaints were altogether unfounded, as will appear from the following figures. Under the restrictive system, from 1804 to 1823, the tonnage of British shipping had increased only ten per cent. Under the Reciprocity Acts and the Free Trade system, from 1823 to 1845, the increase rose to forty-five per cent. This result fully bore out the calculations and anticipations of Mr. Huskisson, in his answer to the arguments of the Protectionists.[162]

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Rodney takes St. Eustatia—Destruction of Dutch Commerce—Loss of Minorca—Naval Actions—Meeting of Parliament—Vehemence of the Opposition—Losses in the West Indies—Breaking up of the Ministry—Their Defeat on Conway's Motion—Lord North's Resignation—Shelburne refuses the Premiership—New Whig Government—Agitation in Ireland—Grattan's Motion for Legislative Independence—The Volunteer Meeting at Dungannon—Grattan's Motion carried—Demands of the Irish Parliament conceded—Flood's Agitation—Economic Reforms—Pitt's Motion for Parliamentary Reform—Unsuccessful Negotiations for Peace—Rodney's Victory over De Grasse—Lord Howe's Exploits—The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar—Negotiations for Peace—Folly of Oswald and Duplicity of Shelburne—The Negotiations continued—Franklin throws over Vergennes—Conclusion of a Secret Treaty between England and America—Fate of the American Royalists—Announcement of the Peace in Parliament—Terms of Peace with France, Spain, and Holland—Opposition to the Peace—Coalition of Fox and North—Fall of Shelburne—Pitt's Attempt to form a Ministry—The Coalition in Office—Reform and the Prince of Wales—Fox's India Bill—Its Introduction—Progress of the Measure—The King's Letter to Temple—Reception of the News in the Commons—Dismissal of the Ministry—Pitt forms a Cabinet—Factious Opposition of Fox—Pitt's India Bill—He refuses to divulge his Intentions—The Tide begins to Turn—Attempt at a Coalition—Increasing Popularity of Pitt—Fox's Resolution—The Dissolution—"Fox's Martyrs."[See larger version]

At Vereiva, where Buonaparte halted on the 27th of October, Mortier arrived from Moscow, having blown up the Kremlin with gunpowder, and with it a crowd of Russians who had rushed in at the moment of his evacuation. Mortier on his march had also surprised and captured General Winzengerode. From this place Buonaparte issued a bulletin, announcing that not only Moscow but the Kremlin was destroyed; that the two hundred thousand inhabitants of Moscow were wandering in the woods existing on roots; and that the French army was advancing towards St. Petersburg with every means of success. Such was the audacity of lying by which he hoped to conceal the truth from Paris. At this moment he was exasperated almost to frenzy by his prospects, and since the defeat of Maloi-Jaroslavitz he had been gloomy and unapproachable from the violence of his temper. On the march the army passed with horror the field of Borodino. "The ground," says Segur, "was covered with fragments of helmets and cuirasses, broken drums, gun-stocks, tatters of uniforms, and standards steeped in blood. On this desolate spot lay thirty thousand half devoured corpses. A number of skeletons, left on the summit of one of the hills, overlooked the whole. It seemed as if here death had fixed his empire. The cry, 'It is the field of the great battle!' found a long and doleful murmur. Napoleon passed quickly; no one stopped; cold, hunger, and the enemy urged us on. We merely turned our faces as we proceeded to take a last melancholy look at our late companions in arms."Pitt was not for a moment deceived, and in August the Family Compact was signed. He broke off the negotiation, recalled Stanley from Paris, dismissed Bussy from London, and advised an immediate declaration of war against Spain, whilst it was yet in our power to seize the treasure ships. But there was but one Pitt—one great mind capable of grasping the affairs of a nation, and of seizing on the deciding circumstances with the promptness essential to effect. The usually timid Newcastle became suddenly courageous with alarm. Bute pronounced Pitt's proposal as "rash and unadvisable;" the king, obstinate as was his tendency, declared that, if his Ministers had yielded to such a policy, he would not; and Pitt, having laboured in vain to move this stolid mass of ministerial imbecility through three Cabinet Councils, at last, in the beginning of October, declared that, as he was called to the Ministry by the people, and held himself responsible to them, he would no longer occupy a position the duties of which he was not able to discharge. On the 5th he resigned, and his great Ministry came to an end.

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