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Buonaparte posted himself in his centre, near the farmhouse of La Belle Alliance, having Ney and Soult near him, but Counts Reille and D'Erlon being in immediate command of the centre. His left, which stretched round the chateau of Hougomont, was commanded by his brother Jerome; his right by Count Lobau. Wellington took his post on the ridge near where the great mound of the dead surmounted by the Belgian lion now stands. His troops were divided into two lines; the right of the first line—consisting of British, Hanoverian, and Belgian troops—under Lord Hill. The centre, under the Prince of Orange, consisted of troops of Brunswick and Nassau, flanked on the right by the Guards under General Cooke, and on the left by the division of the Hanoverian general Alten. The left wing consisted of the divisions of Picton, Lambert, and Kemp. The second line consisted of troops in which less confidence was placed, or which had suffered severely at Quatre Bras on the 16th. In and around the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, in advance of the centre, was placed a body of Germans. The plan of each commander was simple: Wellington's, to keep his ground till Blucher should come up, and then all simultaneously charge forward to drive the French from the field; Napoleon's, by his brisk and ponderous charges to break and disperse the British before the Prussians could arrive.Notwithstanding the hopes which might have been fairly entertained that the measure of Reform would have been rendered complete throughout the kingdom, a considerable time elapsed before its benefits were extended to the sister country; and a large amount of persevering exertion was required before a measure for the purpose was carried through Parliament, although its necessity was unquestionable. This arose from certain difficulties which it was not found easy to overcome, so as to meet the views, or, at least, to secure the acquiescence, of the various parties in the House. And hence it happened that it was not until 1840 that an Act was passed for the regulation of municipal corporations in Ireland, after repeated struggles which had to be renewed from year to year, and the question was at length only settled by a sort of compromise. On the 7th of February, 1837, Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in the Irish Municipal Bill, which was passed by a majority of 55; but the consideration of it was adjourned in the Peers till it was seen what course Ministers were to adopt with regard to the Irish Tithe Bill. Early in 1838 the Bill was again introduced, when Sir Robert Peel, admitting the principle by not opposing the second reading, moved that the qualification should be £10. The motion was lost, but a similar one was made in the Upper House, and carried by a majority of 60. Other alterations were made, which induced Lord John Russell to relinquish his efforts for another year. In 1839 he resumed his task, and the second reading was carried by a majority of 26. Once more Sir Robert Peel proposed the £10 qualification for the franchise, which was rejected in the Commons, but adopted in the Lords by nearly the same majorities as before. Thus baffled again, the noble lord gave up the measure for the Session. In February, 1840, the Bill was introduced by Lord Morpeth with a qualification of £8. Sir Robert Peel now admitted that a settlement of the question was indispensable. With his support the Bill passed the Commons by a majority of 148. It also passed the Lords, and on the 18th of August received the Royal Assent.

On the 8th of May the Catholic claims were again brought forward by Sir Francis Burdett, who moved for a committee of the whole House, "with a view to such a final and conciliatory adjustment as may be conducive to the peace and strength of the United Kingdom, to the stability of the Protestant Establishment, and to the general satisfaction and concord of all classes of his Majesty's subjects." The debate, which was animated and interesting, continued for three days. On a division, the motion for a committee was carried by 272 against 266, giving a majority of six only. But in the preceding Session a similar motion had been lost by a majority of four. On the 16th of the same month Sir Francis moved that the resolution be communicated to the Lords in a free conference, and that their concurrence should be requested. This being agreed to, the conference was held, and the resolution was reported to the Lords, who took it into consideration on the 9th of June. The debate, which lasted two days, was opened by the Marquis of Lansdowne. The Duke of Wellington opposed the resolution, which was lost by a majority of 181 to 137.But long before this—as early, indeed, as the 15th of April—news had reached London of the death of the erratic Emperor Paul, and of the bombardment of Copenhagen by the British fleet. Paul had been won over by Buonaparte to his views, and had been flattered by him by being elected—though irregularly and illegally—Grand-Master of the Knights of Malta. He had been persuaded that the conquest of Malta by the British was an invasion of his rights, and by these and other flatteries Buonaparte had influenced his weak mind to become the agent of his plans in destroying the British ships in the Baltic, and in closing that sea to British commerce. Paul pretended that we had captured Danish convoys, these same convoys being engaged in guarding vessels loaded with materials of war for France, and that thus the independence of the North was menaced by us. On this ground, and on that of the invasion of Malta, he immediately laid an embargo on all British vessels in Russian ports, and as two vessels in the harbour of Narva resisted the attempts to seize them, in consequence of the embargo, he ordered all the British vessels in that port to be burned. In consequence of this sudden and unwarrantable order, contrary to all the laws of nations, about three hundred British vessels were seized, and the officers and crews dragged on shore, put into irons, and sent up the country under menaces of Siberia. Paul next ordered all property of Englishmen in Russia to be seized and sold. Denmark—with whom we had various rencontres, on account of its men-of-war convoying vessels laden with stores for French ports—soon joined Russia. We sent Lord Whitworth to Copenhagen to endeavour to come to some understanding on these matters in 1800, but though a convention was signed, it was not satisfactory. Sweden followed the example of Denmark, and the three Northern Powers entered into a treaty of armed neutrality to resist our search of their vessels in any circumstances. As the consequence of this policy would be to shut us out of all trade with the ports of the Baltic, it was resolved to send a fleet to chastise these Powers and break up their co-operation with France. Mr. Vansittart was despatched to Copenhagen, accompanied by a fleet of eighteen sail of the line, with several frigates and smaller vessels, under command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with Vice-Admiral Nelson as second. The fleet left the Yarmouth Roads on the 12th of March, 1801, and arriving at the mouth of the Sound, Nelson recommended that they should sail directly up to Copenhagen, and be prepared, on the refusal of our proposals, to bombard the place, as this would not allow them time to get ready their batteries, and thus do all the more damage to our ships and men. But this was deemed too offensive before any attempt at negotiation, and accordingly Mr. Vansittart was sent forward in a frigate with a flag of truce, leaving the fleet at the Scaw. He returned without effecting anything more than what Nelson anticipated. Sir Hyde Parker wasted time in making[481] the needless inquiry by a flag of truce of the Governor of Elsinore, whether the passage of the Sound would be disputed, who replied that it would. It was then proposed to enter by the Belt. Nelson said:—"Let it be by the Sound, or the Belt, or anyhow—only don't let us lose an hour."

[See larger version]It was no wonder that Spain, feeling the serious effects of this state of things, should resist it; and when she did so, and exerted an unusual degree of vigilance, then the most terrible outcries were raised, and wonderful stories were circulated of Spanish cruelties to our people beyond the Atlantic. At this time the Opposition got hold of one of these, and made the House of Commons and the nation resound with it. It was, that one Captain Robert Jenkins, who had been master of a sloop trading from Jamaica, had been boarded and searched by a Coastguard, and treated in a most barbarous manner, though they could detect no proof of smuggling in his vessel. He said that the Spanish captain had cut off one of his ears, bidding him carry it to his king, and tell his Majesty that if he were present he would treat him in the same manner. This story was now seven years old, but it was not the less warmly received on that account. It excited the utmost horror, and Jenkins was ordered to appear at the bar of the House of Commons on the 16th of March, to give an account of the outrage himself; and it would appear that both he and other witnesses were examined the same day. Jenkins carried his ear about with him wrapped in cotton, to show to those to whom he related the fact, and the indignation was intense. He was asked by a member how he felt when he found himself in the hands of such barbarians, and he replied, "I recommended my soul to God, and my cause to my country." The worthy skipper had probably been crammed with this dramatic sentiment by some of his clever Parliamentary introducers; but its effect was all the same as if it had been a genuine and involuntary expression of his own mind. Researches made at the Admiralty in 1889 proved that he really had lost an ear.

Meanwhile, Florida Blanca had planned the capture of Minorca. He prevailed on France, though with difficulty, to assist. The Duke de Crillon, a Frenchman, was made commander of the expedition, and on the 22nd of July the united fleets of France and Spain sailed out of Cadiz Bay, and stretched out into the ocean, as if intending to make a descent on England. The main part of the fleet did, in fact, sail into the English Channel. But they did not venture to attack Admiral Darby, and contented themselves with picking up a number of merchant vessels; and again dissensions and disease breaking out, this great fleet separated, and each nation returned to its respective ports, without effecting anything worthy of such an armament. But a lesser portion of this fleet, on coming out of harbour, carrying eight thousand troops, stores, and ordnance, had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, and[285] appeared suddenly before Port Mahon. On the 19th of August the troops were landed near Port Mahon, and, being favoured by the inhabitants, once under the sway of Spain, and good Catholics, they soon invested the fort, and compelled General Murray, who formerly so bravely defended Quebec, to retire to Fort St. Philip, leaving the town of Port Mahon in their possession. Despite the resolute defence of his men, Murray was forced to surrender the island.

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 historians—the 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.

These mischiefs it was proposed wholly to remove by enacting that "the charge for primary distribution—that is to say, the postage on all letters received in a post town, and delivered in the same or in any other post town in the British Isles—shall be at the uniform rate of one penny for each half-ounce; all letters and other papers, whether single or multiple, forming one packet, and not weighing more than half an ounce, being charged one penny, and heavier packets to any convenient limit being charged an additional penny for each additional half-ounce." And it was further proposed that stamped covers should be sold to the public at such a price as to include the postage, which would thus be collected in advance. By the public generally, and preeminently by the trading public, the plan was received with great favour. By the functionaries of the Post Office it was at once denounced as ruinous, and ridiculed as fanciful. Lord Lichfield, then Postmaster-General, said of it in the House of Lords, "Of all the wild and visionary schemes I ever heard, it is the most extravagant." On another occasion, he assured the House that if the anticipated increase of letters should be realised, "the mails will have to carry twelve times as much in weight, and therefore the charge for transmission, instead of £100,000, as now, must be twelve times that amount. The walls of the Post Office would burst; the whole area in which the building stands would not be large enough to receive the clerks and the letters." In the course of the following year (1838) petitions were poured into the House of Commons. A select Committee was appointed, which held nearly seventy sittings, and examined nearly eighty-three witnesses in addition to the officers of the department. Its report weakly recommended the substitution of a twopenny for a penny rate, but this was overruled by the Cabinet. During the Session of Parliament that followed the presentation of[465] this report, about 2,000 petitions in favour of penny postage were presented to both Houses, and at length the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in a Bill to enable the Treasury to carry it into effect. The measure was carried in the House of Commons by a majority of 100, and became law on the 17th of August, 1839. A new but only temporary office under the Treasury was created, to enable Mr. Hill to superintend (although, as it proved, with very inadequate arrangements) the working out of his plan. The first step taken was to reduce, on the 5th of December, 1839, the London district postage to one penny, and the general inland postage to fourpence, the half ounce, except as respected places to which letters were previously carried at lower rates, these rates being continued. On the 10th of January, 1840, the uniform penny rate came into operation throughout the United Kingdom; the scale of weight advancing from one penny for each of the first two half-ounces, by gradations of twopence for each additional ounce or fraction of an ounce, up to sixteen ounces. The postage was to be prepaid, or charged at double rates, and Parliamentary franking was abolished. Postage stamps were introduced on the 6th of May following. The facilities of despatch were soon afterwards increased, especially by the establishment of day mails. But on the important points of simplification in the internal economy of the Post Office, with the object of reducing its cost without diminishing its working power, very little was done. For the time being the loss incurred by the change was more than £1,000,000.When these arrangements became known, the Tory party grew dreadfully exasperated. But not the Tories only—there were throngs of Whigs who had battled zealously for the same object, and with the same hope of personal benefit, and yet they were passed over, and Pulteney, Carteret, and their immediate coterie had quietly taken care of themselves, and thrown their coadjutors overboard. A meeting was appointed between Pulteney and the rest already in office, and the Duke of Argyll, Chesterfield, Cobham, Bathurst, and some others. The Prince of Wales was present, and the different claims were discussed. Argyll was satisfied by being made Master-General of the Ordnance, Colonel of His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, Field-Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of all the forces in South Britain. Chesterfield got nothing, professing to wait to see a more thorough change of men before he went amongst them; but Cobham was made a Field-Marshal, and restored to the command of the Grenadier Guards, but he could get nothing for his nephew, the fiery Oppositionist, Lyttelton. Lord Harrington was made an Earl and President of the Council. But what surprised the country most was that Pulteney, hitherto the head and soul of the party, should have been content to sacrifice himself for the sake of a title. He was made Earl of Bath and received a place in the Cabinet; but by this change, although he seemed to have a brilliant career before him, he forfeited the confidence of the country, which had always looked up to him as the most determined and disinterested of patriots. From this moment he sank into insignificance and contempt. Some others of the old officials remained in as well as Newcastle. Sir William Yonge and Pelham, brother of Newcastle, retained their posts, Yonge as Secretary of War, and Pelham as Paymaster of the Forces.

Mr. Villiers's motion was again brought forward on the 9th of May. The debate lasted for five nights, and ended in a division which, though it showed a majority of 256 against inquiry, was encouraging as evidencing an increase in the number of the Free Traders. The minority numbered 125. The debate was chiefly remarkable for the violence of the monopolist party. Sir Robert Peel said that the subject was exhausted, and nothing new could be adduced. "The motion of Mr. Villiers was fairly stated and proposed—there was no subterfuge involved in it. But he thought that the principle must be applied generally and universally to every article on which a duty was levied. They could not stand on the single article of corn. By the adoption of the motion they would sound the knell of Protection, and they must immediately proceed to apply the principle to practice. This would at once upset the commercial arrangements of the last year. The whole of our colonial system must be swept away without favour and without consideration." A contemporary writer describes the uproar which took place on this occasion as exceeding anything that had been witnessed since the night of the memorable division on the Corn Bill. The minority, it is said, were aware that the remaining speeches, even if delivered, could not be reported, and for that and other reasons were in their resolves so resolute, that although outvoted in some divisions, the question was just as often removed and seconded. At length Mr. Ross told Lord Dungannon, that if he were contented to sit till eight o'clock, he himself, and those who acted with him, would willingly sit till nine; and it was at this stage that Sir Charles Napier slyly suggested that they should divide themselves into three watches, after the fashion of a ship's crew. This arrangement would afford ease to all, excepting the Speaker, to whom he was sorry he could not afford the slightest relief. Worn out at length by the violence of their exertions, and despairing of victory, the majority yielded.

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It was now the turn of the French to triumph, and of the Allies to suffer consternation. Louis, once more elate, ordered Te Deum to be sung in Notre Dame, and all Paris was full of rejoicing. He declared that God had given a direct and striking proof of the justice of his cause and of the guilty obstinacy of the Allies. His plenipotentiaries assumed at Utrecht such arrogance that their very lacqueys imitated them; and those of Mesnager insulted one of the plenipotentiaries, Count von Richteren, and Louis justified them against all complaints. In such circumstances, all rational hope of obtaining peace except on the disgraceful terms accepted by England vanished.



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