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Instead of waiting to watch Washington, or leaving any force for that purpose, Howe now suddenly altered his plans, marched back in reality to Staten Island, and left the enemy in full command of the Jerseys. Embarking his army on the 5th of July, he left General Clinton at New York with seventeen battalions, a body of loyal American militia, and a regiment of light horse. He set sail on the 23rd of July, and stood out to sea. Washington, now supposing that he meant to make an attempt on Boston, moved slowly towards the Hudson; but he had soon information that caused him to retreat again towards the Delaware; and, news coming that Howe had been seen off Cape May, he advanced to Germantown. Instead of entering the Delaware, however, the British fleet was presently seen steering eastward, and all calculations were baffled. Washington, now believing that he was intending to return to New York, proceeded to Philadelphia, and had an interview with Congress.Lord John Russell was immediately summoned from Scotland, and on the 11th arrived at Osborne, where he received her Majesty's commands to form a Government. On the ground that his party were in a minority in the House of Commons, Lord John Russell at first declined the honour presented to him; but on a paper being placed in his hands by the Queen, in which Sir Robert Peel promised, in his private capacity, to aid and give every support to the new Ministry in settling the question of the Corn Laws, he undertook the task. There was no amicable feeling between the new and the retiring Minister. Lord John Russell's letter, published a few days before, had excited as much attention for its bitter sarcasm against Sir Robert Peel as for the important change in the Whig policy which it announced. Lord John Russell held communication with the late Government, but through Sir James Graham. It was of importance to him to know more clearly the nature of that support which Sir Robert Peel's memorandum seemed to promise; and he was, therefore, anxious to know what the latter would consider a satisfactory settlement. This proposal, however, to the late Minister to become responsible for the measures of his successors was declined. Sir James Graham communicated to Lord John Russell the information as to the state of the country on which they acted; but Sir Robert Peel, through his colleague, declined to state the details of the measures which had lately been contemplated. Lord John Russell then gave, in writing, an outline of the measures which the new Cabinet would propose, and invited the opinion of the late Minister. Sir Robert Peel, however, still declined to take part in the plans of his opponents; and in a letter to the Queen, on the 17th of December, he stated the constitutional grounds on which he considered it improper that any one, not an adviser of the Crown, should take a part in the preparation of Ministerial measures. Lord John Russell thereupon immediately proceeded with his negotiations with his own party. It soon, however, appeared that the task he had proposed to himself was beyond his power. Earl Grey, who had agreed to take the Secretaryship of the Colonies in the new Ministry, suddenly declared that he would not join any Administration in which Lord Palmerston should hold the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs. This unexpected accident was regarded by Lord John Russell as decisive. On the 20th of December he communicated the facts to the Queen, and begged to be relieved from the task he had undertaken.An address, founded on this resolution, was carried to the king, who faithfully kept the word he had given nearly three years before. Chatham had then, through Lord North, sought to get his own pension continued to his second son, William Pitt, afterwards the celebrated Minister. On that occasion, George III. had declared that the conduct of Chatham of late had totally obliterated any sense of gratitude for his former merits; but that, when decrepitude or death should put an end to him as a trumpet of sedition, he would not punish the children for the father's sins, but would place the second son's name where Chatham's had been. He now consented to that; an annuity bill settled four thousand pounds a-year on the heirs of Chatham to whom the title should descend, which received the sanction of Parliament; and the Commons, moreover, voted twenty thousand pounds to pay the deceased Earl's debts. Both these motions passed the House of Commons unanimously; but, in the Upper House, the Duke of Chandos attacked the grants, and condemned severely the custom of loading the country with annuities in perpetuity. The bill was, however, carried by forty-two votes to eleven, though four noble Lords entered a protest against it, namely, Lord Chancellor Bathurst, the Duke of Chandos, Lord Paget, and Markham, Archbishop of York.

WELLINGTON'S RETREAT FROM COIMBRA. (See p. 604.)The House of Commons received the speech with enthusiasm, and carried up an address of thanks in a body. Very different, however, was the reception of the speech in the House of Lords. Lord Wharton proposed that in the address they should declare themselves against a separate peace, and the Duke of Marlborough supported that view. He said that for a year past the measures pursued were directly opposed to her Majesty's engagement with the Allies, had sullied the glories of her reign, and would render our name odious to all nations. Lord Strafford, who had come over from the Hague purposely to defend the Government policy, and his own share in it at Utrecht, asserted that the opposition of the[6] Allies would not have been so obstinate had they not been encouraged by a certain member of that House who corresponded with them, and stimulated them by assurances that they would be supported by a large party in England. This blow aimed at Marlborough called up Lord Cowper, who directed his sarcasm against Strafford on the ground of his well-known illiterate character, observing that the noble lord had been so long abroad that he had forgotten not only the language but the constitution of his country; that according to our laws it could never be a crime in an individual to correspond with its allies, but that it was a crime to correspond, as certain persons did, with the common enemy, unknown to the allies, and to their manifest prejudice. The amendment of Lord Wharton, however, was rejected, and the protest, entered against its rejection by twenty peers and bishops, was voted violent and indecorous, and erased from the journal.

The supplies and the Mutiny Bill were now passed without much difficulty, but Ministers did not venture to introduce an Appropriation Bill. On the 23rd, Lord North, stating that the dissolution of Parliament was confidently asserted out of doors, declared that such a dissolution, without passing an Appropriation Bill, would be an unparalleled insult to the House. He expressed his astonishment that the Minister did not condescend to utter a syllable on the subject of the proposed change. Pitt, now confident of his position, replied that gentlemen might ask as many questions as they pleased; that he had adopted a course which was advantageous to the country, and did not feel bound to enter then into any explanations. All mystery, however, was cleared up the next day, for the king went down to the House of Lords and prorogued Parliament, announcing that he felt it his duty to the Constitution and the country to convoke a new Parliament. Accordingly, on the following day, the 25th of March, he dissolved Parliament by proclamation.

Robert Pollok was a young Scottish minister, who rose suddenly to popularity by the publication of a poem in blank verse, entitled "The Course of Time." It was long and discursive, extending to ten books. The style was very unequal, sometimes rising to a high level, and often sinking to tame prose. The author had a wonderful command of words for one so young, and time would, no doubt, have mellowed what was crude and refined what was coarse, if he had not been prematurely cut off, just when his genius and his goodness had gathered round him a host of warm friends. He died of consumption, on the 15th of September, 1827. His early death contributed to the popularity of the poem, which ran through many editions.Sir John Malcolm and Captain Grant pursued the fugitives along the banks of the Seepra, killing numbers, and seizing immense booty, including elephants and numerous camels. He left them no time to reassemble, but advanced rapidly on the capital of Holkar, joined by reinforcements from the Bombay army under Major-General Sir William Keir. Alarmed at this vigorous action, the Holkar Mahrattas hastily concluded peace, gave up all their forts, and placed their territories under British protection. Some Pathan chiefs attempted to resist, trusting to the defences of Rampoora; but General Brown soon stormed that place, and the whole country of the Holkar Mahrattas was reduced to obedience. No respite was granted to the Pindarrees. Cheetoo was followed from place to place by the Gujerat army under Sir William Keir, and sought refuge in vain amongst the hills and jungles of Malwa and along the Nerbudda. At length, in January, 1818, Cheetoo's last camp was surprised and cut to pieces. After seeking refuge amongst various tribes, Cheetoo was ultimately found in the jungle near the fort of Aseerghur, torn to pieces by a tiger, his horse grazing not far off, safe, and a bag on his saddle containing his remaining jewels and two hundred and fifty rupees. And thus ended the existence of the long formidable hosts of the Pindarrees.

As for the queen, she was a far superior person. She had been well brought up on the second marriage of her mother after the death of her father, by the Queen of Prussia, Sophia Charlotte, the sister of George I. She had been handsome till she grew corpulent and suffered from the smallpox, and still she was much admired for her impressive countenance, her fine voice, penetrating eye, and the grace and sweetness of her manner. She was still more admired for the striking contrast which she presented to her husband in her love of literature and literary men, extending her interest and inquiries into philosophy, theology, and metaphysics. Those who are disposed to ridicule her pretence to such knowledge admit that she was equally distinguished by prudence and[58] good sense. She combined in her manners royal dignity and unassuming grace, and was more popular with the nation than any one of the Hanover family had ever yet been. She delighted to engage theologians in discussing knotty points of doctrine, and in perplexing them with questions on the various articles of faith in different churches, and corresponded with them on these subjects through her bedchamber woman, Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon. But the best proofs of Queen Caroline's superiority were shown in her pure moral character, which was free from the slightest stain, and in her quick discernment and substantial promotion of the most able men in the Church.The foreign expeditions planned by the Grenville Ministry were, this year, attended by disgraceful results, and the news of their failure arrived in time to enable the new Ministry to throw additional odium upon their foes. The news of the seizure of Buenos Ayres by Sir Home Popham and General Beresford had induced the late Cabinet to overlook the irregular manner in which their enterprise had been undertaken. They sent out Admiral Sir C. Stirling to supersede Sir Home Popham, who was to be brought before a court-martial, but he took out with him a fresh body of troops, under General Auchmuty. These troops landed at Monte Video on the 18th of January, and, after a sharp contest against six thousand Spaniards, and the loss of five hundred and sixty British killed and wounded, the place was taken on the 2nd of February. Soon afterwards General Whitelocke arrived with orders to assume supreme command and to recapture Buenos Ayres, which the inhabitants had succeeded in recovering. Whitelocke reached Monte Video towards the end of May, and found the British army, with what he brought, amounting to nearly twelve thousand men, in fine condition. With such a force Buenos Ayres would have soon been reduced by a man of tolerable military ability. But Whitelocke seems to have taken no measures to enable his troops to carry the place by a sudden and brilliant assault. It was not till the 3rd of July that he managed to join Major-General Gore, who had taken possession of a commanding elevation[536] overlooking the city. The hope of success lay in the rapidity with which the assault was made: all this was now lost. The rain poured in torrents, and the men had no shelter, and were half starved. All this time the Spaniards had been putting the city into a state of defence. Still, on the morning of the 5th of July the order was issued to storm. The troops advanced in three columns from different sides of the town, headed severally by Generals Auchmuty, Lumley, and Craufurd. Whitelocke said that it could be of no use to delay the advance towards the centre of the town by attacking the enemy under cover of their houses; it could only occasion the greater slaughter. The command, therefore, was to dash forward with unloaded muskets, trusting alone to the bayonet. Much blame was cast on Whitelocke for this order, but there seems strong reason in it, considering the wholly uncovered condition of the troops against a covered enemy, and that the only chance was for each division to force its way as rapidly as possible to certain buildings where they could ensconce themselves, and from whence they could direct an attack of shot and shells on the Spaniards. General Auchmuty, accordingly, rushed on against every obstacle to the great square—Plaza de Toros, or Square of Bulls—took thirty-two cannon, a large quantity of ammunition, and six hundred prisoners. Other regiments of his division succeeded in getting possession of the church and convent of Santa Catalina, and of the residencia, a commanding post; Lumley and Craufurd were not so fortunate. The 88th was compelled to yield; and the 36th, greatly reduced, and joined by the 5th—which had taken the convent of Santa Catalina—made their way to Sir Samuel Auchmuty's position in the Plaza de Toros, dispersing a body of eight hundred Spaniards on their way and taking two guns. Craufurd's division capitulated at four o'clock in the afternoon. In the evening Whitelocke resolved to come to terms. The conditions of the treaty were—that General Whitelocke's army, with its arms, equipage, and stores, was to be conveyed across the La Plata to Monte Video; his troops were to be supplied with food; and that at the end of two months the British were to surrender Monte Video, and retire from the country. Such was the humiliating result of the attempt on Buenos Ayres. Nothing could exceed the fury of all classes at home against Whitelocke on the arrival of the news of this disgraceful defeat. It was reported that he had made the men take their flints out of their guns before sending them into the murderous streets of Buenos Ayres; and had he arrived with his despatches, his life would not have been safe for an hour. There was a general belief that the Court was protecting him from punishment; and, in truth, the delays interposed between him and a court-martial appeared to warrant this. It was not till the 28th of January, 1808, that he was brought before such a court at Chelsea Hospital, when he was condemned to be cashiered, as wholly unfit and unworthy to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatever.General Evans had taken the command of the Spanish Legion, which throughout the whole of the campaign was encompassed with difficulties and pursued by disasters, without any military success sufficiently brilliant to gild the clouds with glory. Within a fortnight after the debate on Lord Mahon's motion came the news of its utter defeat before Hernani. This defeat encouraged the opponents of Lord Palmerston's policy to renew their attacks. Accordingly, immediately after the recess, Sir Henry Hardinge brought forward a motion on the subject. He complained that no adequate provision was made for the support of those who were in the Legion. At Vittoria they were placed for four months in uninhabited convents, without bedding, fuel, or supplies of any kind. Not less than 40 officers and 700 men fell victims to their privations. The worst consequence was, however, the total demoralisation of the troops. Theirs was not honourable war, it was butchery. They were massacring a fine and independent people, who had committed no offence against Britain. Ill treatment, want of food and of clothing, habits of insubordination and mutiny, and want of confidence in their officers, had produced their natural effects. Let them palliate the disaster as they would, there was no doubt, he said, of the fact that a large body of Britons had suffered a defeat such as he believed no British soldiers had undergone in the course of the last five or six hundred years. The motion was defeated by 70 votes to 62, but as the Legion was dissolved in the following year, 1838, the object of the Opposition was gained.

Peel has been even more severely censured than the Duke of Wellington for the part he took on this memorable occasion. He wrote a long letter to the Duke, in which he earnestly[283] protested against taking charge of the Emancipation Bill in the House of Commons, offering, at the same time, to give it his earnest support. He also offered to resign, as a means of removing one obstacle to the adjustment which the interests of the country demanded. The letter concluded as follows: "I do not merely volunteer my retirement at whatever may be the most convenient time, I do not merely give you the promise that out of office (be the sacrifices that I foresee, private and public, what they may) I will cordially co-operate with you in the settlement of this question, and cordially support your Government; but I add to this my decided and deliberate opinion that it will tend to the satisfactory adjustment of the question if the originating of it in the House of Commons and the general superintendence of its progress be committed to other hands than mine." And in his "Memoirs" he remarks: "Twenty years have elapsed since the above letter was written. I read it now with the full testimony of my own heart and conscience to the perfect sincerity of the advice which I then gave, and the declarations which I then made; with the same testimony, also, to the fact that that letter was written with a clear foresight of the penalties to which the course I resolved to take would expose me—the rage of party, the rejection by the University of Oxford, the alienation of private friends, the interruption of family affections. Other penalties, such as the loss of office and of royal favour, I would not condescend to notice if they were not the heaviest in the estimation of vulgar and low-minded men, incapable of appreciating higher motives of public conduct. My judgment may be erroneous. From the deep interest I have in the result (though now only so far as future fame is concerned), it cannot be impartial; yet, surely, I do not err in believing that when the various circumstances on which my decision was taken are calmly and dispassionately considered—the state of political parties—the recent discussions in Parliament—the result of the Clare election, and the prospects which it opened—the earnest representations and emphatic warnings of the chief governor of Ireland—the evils, rapidly increasing, of divided counsels in the Cabinet, and of conflicting decisions in the two Houses of Parliament—the necessity for some systematic and vigorous course of policy in respect to Ireland—the impossibility, even if it were wise, that that policy should be one of coercion—surely, I do not err in believing that I shall not hereafter be condemned for having heedlessly and precipitously, still less for having dishonestly and treacherously, counselled the attempt to adjust the long litigated question, that had for so many years precluded the cordial co-operation of public men, and had left Ireland the arena for fierce political conflicts, annually renewed, without the means of authoritative interposition on the part of the Crown."The Budget did not retrieve the popularity of Ministers. Sir Francis Baring proposed to make up for an estimated deficit of £2,421,000 by an alteration of the timber duties producing £600,000 a year, and an alteration of the sugar duties producing £700,000. Both these changes were in the direction of free trade, and a still more significant proposal was the repeal of the existing corn law, and the substitution of a low fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat. The House, however, would not accept such a budget from a Government whose Premier had in the previous year declared that "the responsible advisers of the Crown would not propose any change in the Corn Laws." After a debate of eight nights the Ministry were defeated on the sugar duties by 317 votes to 281. Still they did not resign, and the Opposition in consequence had recourse to a direct vote of censure.

CHAPTER XI. THE REIGN OF WILLIAM IV. (concluded).Buonaparte had arrived in Rochefort on the 3rd of July—only fifteen days after the battle of Waterloo. The two frigates provided by the Provisional Government to convey him to America—the Saale and the Medusa, accompanied by the corvette Balladière and the large brig Epervier—lay in the Aix roads; but Buonaparte was very sure that the British Government would not permit them to sail. That Government, anticipating such an event as the endeavour of Napoleon to make his escape to America—whence he might watch his opportunity of once more renewing the troubles of the world—had, immediately after the battle of Waterloo, placed no less than thirty vessels of different descriptions along the whole coast of France, from Ushant to Cape Finisterre, thus making it impossible for any vessel to pass out of a French port without undergoing the severest search. Napoleon thereupon embarking in a British frigate, the Bellerophon, wrote a theatrical letter, claiming the hospitality of the Prince Regent:—




Undaunted by this display of prelatical bigotry, Lord Stanhope immediately gave notice of a Bill to prevent a tyrannical exercise of severity towards Quakers, whose principles did not permit them to pay tithes, church-rates, or Easter offerings; this he did on the 3rd of July of the same year. By the 7 and 8 William III. two justices of peace could order a distress on a Quaker for tithes under the value of ten pounds; and by 1 George I. this power was extended to the non-payment of Easter and other dues; but his Lordship showed that of late the clergy had preferred to resort to an Act of Henry VIII., a time when Quakers did not exist, which empowered the clergy, by warrant from two justices of peace, to seize the persons of the defaulters and throw them into prison, where, unless they paid the uttermost farthing, they might remain for life. Thus the clergy of the eighteenth century in England were not satisfied with the humane enactments of William III. or George I., by which they could easily and fully obtain their demands, but they thirsted for a little vengeance, a little of the old enjoyment of imprisoning and tormenting their neighbours, and therefore went back to the days of the brutal Henry VIII. for the means. They had, two months before, thrown a Quaker of Worcester into gaol for the non-payment of dues, so called, amounting to five shillings, and there was every prospect that he might lie there for life. At Coventry six Quakers had lately been prosecuted by the clergyman for Easter offerings of the amount of fourpence each; and this sum of two shillings amongst them had, in the ecclesiastical court, been swelled to three hundred pounds. For this three hundred pounds they were cast into prison, and might have lain there for life, but being highly respected by their townsmen, these had subscribed the money and let them out. But this, his Lordship observed, would prove a ruinous kindness to the Quakers, for it would whet the avarice of the clergy and proctors to such a degree that the people of that persuasion would everywhere be hunted down without mercy for small sums, which might be recovered at once by the simple process of distraint. He declared that he would have all clerical demands satisfied to the utmost, but not by such means, worthy only of the dark ages; and he therefore, in this Bill, proposed the repeal of the obnoxious Act of 27 Henry VIII. But the glutting of their vengeance was too precious to the clergy of this period, and the Bill was rejected without a division.[45]


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