On the morning of the 16th of May Beresford fell in with the French at Albuera, a ruined village, standing on ground as favourable for horse as that at Fuentes d'Onoro. Blake's corps occupied the right wing of the allied army, the British the centre, opposite to the village and bridge of Albuera. Soult advanced in great strength towards the centre; but Beresford soon saw that the attack was not intended to be made there, but on the division of Blake on the right. He sent to desire Blake to alter his front so as to face the French, who would else come down on his right flank; but Blake thought he knew better than the British general, and would not move, declaring that it was on the British centre where the blow would fall. But a little time showed the correctness of Beresford's warning, and Blake, attempting to change his front when it was too late, was taken at disadvantage and rapidly routed.
Great meetings were held in various towns and counties to condemn the whole proceedings, and addresses were sent up and presented to the Prince Regent which were, in fact, censures of his own conduct, and were not, therefore, received in a becoming manner. To one from the Common Council of London he replied that he received it with regret, and that those who drew it up knew little or nothing of the circumstances which preceded or attended the Manchester meeting. The fact was, that they knew these a great deal better than he did. Similar addresses were sent up from Westminster, York, Norwich, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and many other towns. A meeting of the county of York was calculated at twenty thousand persons, and amongst them was the Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding, who had also signed the requisition to the high-sheriff. For this conduct he was summarily dismissed from his lord-lieutenancy. Scarcely less offence was given by the Duke of Hamilton, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Lanark, who sent a subscription of fifty pounds to the committee for the relief of the Manchester sufferers, expressing, at the same time, his severe censure of the outrage committed on the 16th of August. Of course, the Ministerial party in town and country did all in their power to counteract this strong and general expression of disapprobation. In Scotland and the North of England the squirearchy got up associations for raising troops of yeomanry, as in direct approval of the savage conduct of the Manchester Yeomanry. In the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of outrage the conflict of opinion between the two parties ran high. Numbers of the Manchester Yeomanry were indicted for cutting and maiming in St. Peter's Field, with intent to kill; but these bills were thrown out by the grand jury at the Lancaster assizes. An inquest at Oldham, on the body of one of the men killed, was also the scene of a fierce and regular conflict for nine days, that was put an end to by an order from the Court of King's Bench. But even men who were accustomed to support Ministers generally were startled by their conduct on this occasion. Mr. Ward, afterwards Lord Dudley and Ward, in one of his letters written from Paris at the time, but not published till a later date, says:—"What do reasonable people think of the Manchester business? I am inclined to suspect that the magistrates were in too great a hurry, and that their loyal zeal, and the nova gloria in armis tempted the yeomanry to too liberal a use of the sabre—in short, that their conduct has given some colour of reason to the complaints and anger of the Jacobins. The approbation of Government was probably given as the supposed price of support from the Tories in that part of the country."
Napoleon's grand army had now dwindled down to twelve thousand men, with about thirty thousand stragglers, who added little to his strength. They were in Poland, and provisions were now more abundant; but they had still to cross the Beresina, and at this moment he heard of the fall of Minsk, and that Victor and Oudinot, instead of attacking Wittgenstein, had quarrelled about the manner of doing it, and so had not done it at all. Wittgenstein and Kutusoff were thus at liberty to attack his flanks, and Tchitchagoff to occupy the Beresina before him. On this, he turned from the route to Minsk and made for Borissov. At Borissov was a bridge of three hundred fathoms in length, and this he had sent Dombrowski to secure and hold; but now he heard of Dombrowski's defeat, that the bridge was in the hands of the Russians, and that they had broken it down. In his agony, he stamped his cane on the ground, and exclaimed, looking upwards—"Is it, then, written that we shall commit nothing but errors?"Parliament, having so smoothly transacted its business, was prorogued on the 14th of June, and Walpole then addressed himself to the settlement of the Spanish difference. But here he found a spirit of resistance which had undoubtedly grown from the invectives of the Opposition. The outcries against the Spanish captains, the right of search, and the payment of compensation for the ships taken by Byng, had given great offence to the proud Spaniards. They were encouraged, also, by the earnest manner in which Walpole had argued for peace. They now assumed a high tone. They complained of the continuance of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. They demanded the payment of the sixty-eight thousand pounds which they said was due from the South Sea Company, though it had been stipulated in the Convention that it should not come into consideration.Sir Mark Isambard Brunel, a hero of mechanical science, made a great step in advance by the invention of self-acting machinery to supersede the work of artisans, by which a new epoch was created in art. The greatest effort of Brunel was the Thames Tunnel, a structure of perfect firmness and solidity laid on a quicksand, and forced through a quaking mass of mud, which will endure like the cloac? of regal Rome, when the palace and the cathedral have crumbled to dust. He was enabled to accomplish this prodigious work by means of "the shield"—a movable vertical frame of cast iron, provided with thirty-six cells, in each of which a man was placed with a pick to excavate the area, this frame or shield being moved bodily forward by powerful screws, while the bricklayers brought up the arched masonry behind, which was then beyond the power of injury. The works, however, were several times "drowned" during their progress by the irruptions of the Thames, but every fresh difficulty was met successfully by the heroic engineer. The tunnel was commenced on the 2nd of March, 1825, and finished on the 25th of March, 1843. Brunel survived the completion of this, his greatest work, above six years, dying on the 12th of December, 1849.
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Telford succeeded to Brindley, with all his boldness and skill, and with much extended experience. He executed the Ellesmere canal, which occupied a length of upwards of a hundred miles, connecting the rivers Severn, Dee, and Mersey. In the construction of this canal Telford introduced a bold, but successful, novelty. In aqueducts, instead of puddling their bottoms with clay, which was not proof against the effects of frost, he cased them with iron, and adopted the same means when he had to pass through quicksands or mere bog. Some of Telford's aqueducts were stupendous works. The Chirk aqueduct passed, at seventy feet above the river, on ten arches of forty feet span, and cost twenty thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight pounds. The aqueduct over the Dee passed at a height of one hundred and twenty-one feet above low water, and consisted of a great trough of cast-iron plates, supported on eighteen piers, and having a towing-path of cast-iron, supported on cast-iron pillars. This aqueduct took ten years in building, and cost, with its embankments, forty-seven thousand pounds. Tunnels much larger than that at Harecastle Hill were executed. That at Sapperton, on the Thames and Severn canal, executed by Mr. Whitworth, was nearly two miles and a half long, ran two hundred and fifty feet below the summit of the hill, and was large enough for boats of seventy tons burden. This was completed in 1788. These daring enterprises led to the design of a tunnel under the Thames, from Gravesend to Tilbury; but this was abandoned for want of capital. In 1804 a like attempt was made at Rotherhithe, but stopped from the same cause, and was not completed till 1843 by Sir Mark Isambard Brunel. Between 1758 and 1801 no fewer than sixty-five Acts of Parliament were passed for making or extending canals. At the end of that period canals extended over upwards of three thousand miles, and had cost upwards of thirteen millions sterling. In fact, the bulk of canal work was done by this time, though not some few works of great importance. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, begun in 1770, but not completed till 1816, opened up connection with a vast manufacturing district; and the Rochdale, Huddersfield, and Hull canals gave access for the Baltic traffic into the heart of Lancashire. The Paddington and Regent's Canals wonderfully promoted the intercourse between the interior and the metropolis. In the Highlands, the Caledonian Canal, connecting the string of lakes between Inverness and the Atlantic, gave passage to ships of large burden. At the end of this reign the aggregate length of canals in England and Wales was two thousand one hundred and sixty miles; in Scotland, two hundred and twelve; in Ireland, two hundred and fifty; total, two thousand six hundred and twenty-two miles. The attention paid to roads and canals necessitated the same to bridges; and during this reign many new structures of this kind were erected, and much improvement attained in their formation. In 1776 a totally new kind of bridge was commenced at Coalbrook Dale, and completed in 1779; this was of cast-iron, having a single arch of one hundred feet span, and containing three hundred and seventy-eight and a half tons of metal. Telford greatly improved on this idea, by erecting an iron bridge over the Severn, at Buildwas, in 1796, having an arch of one hundred and thirty feet span.But the chief source whence the means at their disposal were derived was the magnificent bounty of the citizens of the United States of America. The supplies sent from America to Ireland were on a scale unparalleled in history. Meetings were held in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and other cities in quick succession, presided over by the first men in the country. All through the States the citizens evinced an intense interest, and a noble generosity, worthy of the great Republic. The railway companies carried free of charge all packages marked "Ireland." Public carriers undertook the gratuitous delivery of packages intended for the relief of Irish distress. Storage to any extent was offered on the same terms. Ships of war, without their guns, came to the Irish shores on a mission of peace and mercy, freighted with food for British subjects. Cargo after cargo followed in rapid succession, until nearly 100 separate shipments had arrived, our Government having consented to pay the freight of all donations of food forwarded from America, which amounted in the whole to ￡33,000. The quantity of American food consigned to the care of the Society of Friends was nearly ten thousand tons, the value of which was about ￡100,000. In addition to all this, the Americans remitted to the Friends' Committee ￡16,000 in money. They also sent 642 packages of clothing, the precise value of which could not be ascertained. There was a very large amount of remittances sent to Ireland during the famine by the Irish in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no records of those remittances prior to 1848; but after that time we are enabled to ascertain a large portion of them, though not the whole, and their amount is something astonishing. The following statement of sums remitted by emigrants in America to their families in Ireland was printed by order of Parliament:—During the years 1848, ￡460,180; 1849, ￡540,619; 1850, ￡957,087; 1851, ￡990,811.
These were measures which must have greatly irritated the American colonists. They exhibited a disposition to curb and repress their growing energies between the interests of British merchants and British West Indian planters. The prospect was far from encouraging; whilst, at the same time, the English Ministers, crushing these energies with one hand, were contemplating drawing a revenue by taxation from them on the other. Britain argued that she sacrificed large amounts in building up colonies, and therefore had a right to expect a return for this expenditure. Such a return, had they had the sagacity to let them alone, was inevitable from the trade of the colonies in an ever-increasing ratio.
A revolution of a similar character took place in France within a month of the fall of Ripperda in Spain. The Duke of Bourbon had exhibited a gross incapacity for governing France under the young king. He was replaced by Cardinal Fleury, whose pacific designs harmonised with those of Walpole. Thus Fleury's accession to power only strengthened the English alliance with France. As for Spain, notwithstanding the fall of Ripperda, Philip continued the same course of policy—clinging firmly to the Emperor, and employing Palm, the envoy of the Emperor in London, through bribery to the Duchess of Kendal and the king's Hanoverian Ministers, Bothmar and the rest, who were averse from the Treaty of Hanover, as in their estimation too exclusively calculated for British interests. They even produced a strong feeling of this kind in the mind of George, and they managed to detach the King of Prussia from the British alliance. On the other hand, Sweden was won over, by British gold and diplomacy, from Russian interests. The Dutch also, with their usual slowness, came into the Hanover Treaty. Several British fleets were at sea during the summer, watching the different points of possible attack. One under Admiral Wager sailed to the Baltic to overawe the Russians, which it did effectually. Admiral Jennings, with another squadron, having on board some land troops, scoured the coasts of Spain, kept the Spaniards in constant alarm, and returned home safe before winter. A third fleet, under Admiral Hosier, was not so fortunate. He was ordered to sail to the West Indies, and the shores of the Spanish Main, to obstruct or capture the galleons; but he was attacked off Porto Bello by the yellow fever, and lost a great number of his men.It was resolved to make the first attack only on the trade in slaves, not on the whole gigantic subject, with all its widely-ramified interests. Nay, it was deemed prudent by the committees, seeing well that the abolition of the monstrous practice of slave-holding must be a work of many years, in the first place to limit their exertions to the ameliorating of the sufferings of the negroes, in their passage from Africa to the scenes of their servitude. Numerous petitions had now reached the Houses of Parliament on the subject of the trade in and the sufferings of slaves, and a Committee of the Privy Council was procured to hear evidence on the subject. This commenced its sittings on the 11th of February, 1788. Before this committee were first heard the statements of the slave merchants of Liverpool. According to these gentlemen, all the horrors attributed to the slave trade were so many fables; so far from instigating African sovereigns to make war upon their neighbours and sell them for slaves, the oppressions of these despots were so horrible that it was a real blessing to bring away their unfortunate victims. But very different facts were advanced on the other side. On the part of the Liverpool merchants was the most palpable self-interest to colour their statements; on the other, was disinterested humanity. Amongst the gentlemen brought forward to unfold the real nature of the African traffic was Dr. Andrew Sparrman, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Stockholm, who had, with Mr. Wadstr?m, been engaged in botanical researches in Africa. This information put to flight the pleasant myths of the Liverpool traders, and produced a profound impression.
[See larger version]ARREST OF THE RAJAH OF BENARES. (See p. 334.)
The Ministry lost no time in introducing their Irish measures—the new Municipal Reform Bill and the Bill for the Relief of the Poor. The former, after three nights' debate, passed the Commons by a majority—302 to 247. It was during this debate that Mr. Sheil delivered his brilliant reply to the indiscreet and unstatesmanlike taunt of Lord Lyndhurst, who, when speaking on the same question in the Upper House, declared that the Irish were "aliens in blood, in language, and religion." "The Duke of Wellington," said Mr. Sheil, "is not a man of sudden emotions; but he should not, when he heard that word used, have forgotten Vimiera, Badajoz, and Salamanca, and Toulouse, and the last glorious conflict which crowned all his former victories. On that day, when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance, when the batteries spread slaughter over the field, and the legions of France rushed again and again to the onset, did the 'aliens' then flinch? On that day the blood of the men of England, of Ireland, and of Scotland was poured forth together. They fought on the same field, they died the same death, they were stretched in the same pit; their dust was commingled; the same dew of heaven fell on the grass that covered them; the same grass sprang from the soil in which they reposed together. And is it to be endured that we are to be called aliens and strangers to that empire for whose salvation our best blood has been poured out?"
But there was another topic started in this first Imperial Parliament which was as odious to George III. as the perfidious conduct of his late Russian ally. As one means of bringing about the union with Ireland, Pitt held out to the Irish Catholics the argument that by having Irishmen in the united Parliament they would be most likely to obtain a repeal of the Catholic disabilities. Both he and Lord Cornwallis had sent circulars to this effect, anonymous, it is true, but with a secret avowal of their authorship, amongst the leading Catholics, which had a great effect in procuring their assent to the union. Lord Castlereagh, who as Secretary of State for Ireland had helped to carry the union, claimed the redemption of this pledge. The matter was talked over in the Cabinet during the autumn of 1799, and again in September, 1800. Pitt introduced the subject about the middle of January in the Privy Council. But in the interval the Chancellor, Lord Loughborough, had betrayed the plan to the king, and in conjunction with Lord Auckland had convinced his Majesty that it would involve a violation of the Coronation Oath. George was indignant, and almost furious. At the levee on the 28th of January, when Lord Castlereagh was presented, he said to Dundas, "What is this which this young lord [Castlereagh] has brought over to fling at my head?" He alluded to a plan for Catholic emancipation, and added, "I shall reckon every man my personal enemy who proposes any such measure! This is the most jacobinical thing I ever heard of." Dundas replied that his Majesty would find amongst those friendly to the measure some whom he had never supposed to be his enemies. On the 31st of January Pitt wrote to the king, assuring him that the union with Ireland would render it absolutely necessary that important questions regarding the Catholics and Dissenters should be discussed; but, as he found how extremely such topics were disliked by his Majesty, and yet how just it was that Catholics should be admitted to Parliament as well as Protestant Dissenters, who were already admitted, he begged to be permitted to resign. At the same time, not to inconvenience his Majesty, he was willing to hold office till his Majesty had reconstructed a Cabinet wholly to his mind. George replied, the very next day, that Mr. Pitt's letter had occasioned him the liveliest concern; that, so far from exposing him to the agitation of this question, he had flattered himself that the union, by uniting the Protestants of both kingdoms, would for ever have excluded the question of Catholic emancipation. He expressed his ardent wish that Pitt should continue to be his Minister as long as he lived; and he only required, as a condition, that he should stave off this question. Pitt replied, on the 3rd of February, that his Majesty's determined tone on the subject of Catholic emancipation left him no alternative but to resign, in compliance with his duty; and that, as his Majesty's resolve was taken, it would certainly be best for the country that his retirement should be as early as possible. On the 5th the king wrote, accepting Pitt's resignation, though with expressions of deep regret.[See larger version]详情
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