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[83]Mr. Lamb, the Chief Secretary, wrote to Mr. Peel to the same effect. The Act, he said, had failed in fulfilling its main object, as well as every other advantageous purpose. To re-enact it would irritate all parties, and expose the Ministry to odium. He alluded to sources of dissension that were springing up in the Roman Catholic body, particularly the jealousy excited in the Roman Catholic prelates by the power which the Association had assumed over the parochial clergy. On the whole, his advice was against renewing the Statute. On the 12th of April Lord Anglesey wrote a memorandum on the subject, in which he pointed out the impolicy of any coercive measure, which, to be effective, must interfere with the right of public meeting, and make a dangerous inroad on the Constitution, at the same time displaying the weakness of the Government, which is shown in nothing more than passing strong measures which there was not vigour to enforce. His information led him to believe that the higher orders of the Roman Catholic clergy had long felt great jealousy of the ascendency that the leaders of the Association had assumed over the lower priesthood. Besides, many of the most respectable of the Catholic landlords were irritated at their tenantry for continuing to pay the Catholic rent, contrary to their injunctions; and sooner or later he believed the poorer contributors must consider the impost as onerous, arbitrary, and oppressive. These matters he regarded as seeds of dissolution, which would be more than neutralised by any coercive attempt to put down the Association. He felt confident that no material mischief could result from allowing the Act quietly to expire, supported as the Government was by "the powerful aid of that excellent establishment, the constabulary force, already working the greatest[270] benefit, and capable of still further improvement, and protected as this force was by an efficient army, ably commanded."

With regard to the Turkish question, all possible measures were in the first instance to be tried, with a view to reconcile the differences between Russia and Turkey. These referred to the Russian protection of the Christian subjects of the Sultan, and the navigation of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. When these matters were disposed of, then, and not till then, was the condition of Greece to be considered, and in dealing with this question the British plenipotentiary was to use great caution, to avoid committing England either to the recognition or subjugation of that country.

The fame of this battle, thus fought without any advantage of ground, and with such a preponderance on the side of the French, produced a deep impression both in Great Britain and France. The major part of the British side was composed of British troops, most of the Portuguese having been sent to Marshal Beresford, and this gave a vivid idea of the relative efficiency of British and French troops. Buonaparte had already satisfied himself that Massena was not the man to cope with Wellington, and Marshal Marmont was on the way to supersede him when this battle was fought, but he could only continue the flight of Massena, and take up his headquarters at Salamanca. With Massena returned to France also Ney, Junot, and Loison; King Joseph had gone there before; and the accounts which these generals were candid enough to give, in conversation, of the state of things in Spain, spread a very gloomy feeling through the circles of Paris.

In 1820 our imports of foreign and colonial merchandise were valued at £32,000,000; our exports of foreign and colonial merchandise at £10,000,000; and our exports of British and Irish produce and manufactures at £38,000,000. In 1840 these sums had respectively increased to £67,000,000, £13,000,000, and £102,000,000, setting aside odd numbers. From 1831 to 1840 the average annual export of British produce and manufactures was £45,000,000, while in the nine subsequent years it was nearly £56,000,000. From[423] 1830 onwards the value of our exports to France increased sixfold, notwithstanding the jealous system of protection that prevails in that country. The sphere of our commercial operations was being continually enlarged from year to year, and the enterprise of our merchants was continually opening up fresh markets in distant parts of the world. The value of the exports of British and Irish produce in 1820 was as follows:—To Northern Europe, £11,000,000; to Southern Europe, £7,000,000; to Africa, £393,000; to Asia, nearly £4,000,000; to the United States of America, nearly £4,000,000; to the British North American Colonies and the West Indies, £5,750,000; to Central and South America, including Brazil, £3,000,000. The total value of our exports to foreign countries, and to our colonies in that year, was £36,000,000. In 1840 we exported the following quantities, which, it will be seen, show a large increase:—To Northern Europe, about £12,000,000; to Southern Europe, £9,000,000; to Africa, £1,500,000; to Asia, £9,000,000; to the United States, £5,250,000; to the British North American Colonies, £6,500,000; to the foreign West Indies, £1,000,000; to Central and Southern America, including Brazil, £6,000,000; total, £51,000,000: showing an increase of £15,000,000 in the annual value of our exports to foreign countries during twenty years.

In the House of Lords on the 24th of January, 1721, five directors who had been called before them were arrested and their papers seized. By what had been drawn from them, it appeared that large sums had been given to people in high places to procure the passing of the South Sea Bill. Lord Stanhope rose and expressed his indignation at such practices, and moved that any transfer of stock for the use of any person in the Administration without a proper consideration was a notorious and dangerous corruption. The motion was seconded by Lord Townshend, and carried unanimously. The examination being continued on the 4th of February, Sir John Blunt refused to answer their lordships, on the plea that he had already given his evidence before the Secret Committee. A vehement debate arose out of this difficulty, during which the Duke of Wharton, a most profligate young nobleman, and president of the Hell-fire Club, made a fierce attack on Stanhope, accused him of fomenting the dissensions between the king and his son, and compared him to Sejanus, who had sown animosities in the family of Tiberius, and rendered his reign hateful to the Romans. Stanhope, in replying to this philippic, was so transported by his rage, that the blood gushed from his nostrils. He was carried from the House, and soon afterwards expired.

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.

REVENUE CUTTERS CAPTURING AN AMERICAN SMUGGLING VESSEL. (See p. 184.)On the 12th of February, 1843, Outram persuaded the Ameers, who were in deadly fear of Napier, to sign the treaty. But the negotiator, who continued to place implicit confidence in the pacific professions of the Ameers—they being anxious to gain time till the hot weather should come, and give them an advantage against their enemies—was convinced of his mistake by a treacherous attack made on the British residency; the Ameers boasting that "every man, woman, and child belonging to the British army in Scinde should be collected on the field of battle, and have their throats cut, except the general, who should be led, chained, with a ring in his nose to the durbar." Outram's garrison consisted only of 100 soldiers, with forty rounds of ammunition each, with which he had to defend himself against 8,000 men with six guns. The British fired with effect from behind a wall till their ammunition was exhausted, when they slowly retired till they got safe on board the British steamers, protected by their guns, which swept the flank of the enemy. The war had now come in earnest, and so Sir Charles Napier resolved to show the Ameers what British troops could do. The odds were greatly against him, for he had but 8,600 men, of whom only 400 were Europeans, with which he was to engage an army 22,000 strong, with 5,000 horse, and fifteen guns, all well posted in a strong position at Meeanee. It required marvellous hardihood in the veteran warrior of the Peninsula to enter upon such an unequal contest. But it was the first time that the ambition of his life was realised—in being placed in a position of supreme command—and he longed to show the world how worthily he could have filled it long ago. The officers who fought under him in that memorable battle deserve to be mentioned. Major Lloyd commanded the Artillery, Captain Henderson the Sappers and Miners; next to them stood the 22nd, commanded by Colonel Pennefather; Colonel Teesdale led the 25th Sepoys; Colonel Read the 12th Native Infantry; Major Clibborne the Bengal Engineers; Colonel Pattle the 9th Bengal Horse; and Captain[592] Tait the Poonah Horse. The plain between the two armies was about 1,000 yards in breadth. The space was rapidly passed over. Napier's men rushed forward, and crossing the bed of a river which intervened, they ran up the slope, while the artillery of the Beloochees fired over their heads. Reaching the summit, they beheld, for the first time, the camp of the enemy, which was carried by the 22nd. The Native Infantry also behaved well, and while the little army was doing terrible execution upon the enemy, the artillery swept their ranks with shot and shell. Nevertheless, they fought bravely, and held their ground for three hours in a hand to hand encounter with their assailants. The chasms which were repeatedly made by the guns in the living mass were quickly filled up by those behind rushing forward to the conflict. The pressure of numbers bearing down the hill seemed more than once on the point of overwhelming the British, and obliterating their "thin red lines." Nearly all the officers were killed or wounded. Everything now depended upon the cavalry, which were commanded by Colonel Pattle, who was ordered to charge instantly. They went at full gallop through the jungle: fifty were thrown off their horses, but the rest pressed on, ascended the ridge of the hill, dashed into the thick of the enemy's ranks, fiercely cutting their way with their swords right and left, trampling down the men under their horses' feet, never ceasing till they had traversed the whole camp. The confusion and wavering thus occasioned gave courage to the infantry. The Irish and the Sepoys, raising the cry of victory, pressed on with fury, drove the enemy back down the hill, and compelled them to retreat, abandoning their guns, their ammunition, and their baggage, leaving their dead on the field, and marking their course by a long train of killed and wounded. Their loss was estimated at 5,000—1,000 bodies being found in the bed of the river. The British loss was almost incredibly small: six officers and fifty-four privates killed, fourteen officers and 109 men wounded.

But this prosperity lay only on the surface, and scarcely even there or anywhere but in the pride and lying assertions of Buonaparte. If we contemplate merely the map of Europe, the mighty expanse of the French empire seemed to occupy nearly the whole of it, and to offer an awful spectacle of one man's power. This empire, so rapidly erected, had absorbed Holland, Belgium, part of Switzerland—for the Valais was united to France,—a considerable part of Germany, with Austria and Prussia diminished and trembling at the haughty usurper. Italy was also made part of the great French realm, and a fierce struggle was going on for the incorporation of Spain and Portugal. From Travemünde on the Baltic to the foot of the Pyrenees, from the port of Brest to Terracina on the confines of Neapolitan territory, north and south, east and west, extended this gigantic empire. Eight hundred thousand square miles, containing eighty-five millions of people, were either the direct subjects or the vassals of France. The survey was enough to inflate the pride of the conqueror, who had begun his wonderful career as a lieutenant of artillery. But this vast dominion had been compacted by too much violence, and in outrage to too many human interests, to remain united, or to possess real strength, even for the present. The elements of dissolution were already actively at work in it. The enormous drafts of men to supply the wars by which the empire had been created had terribly exhausted France. This drain, still kept up by the obstinate resistance of Spain and Portugal, necessitated conscription on conscription, and this on the most enormous scale. The young men were annually dragged from the towns, villages, and fields, from amid their weeping and despairing relatives, to recruit the profuse destruction in the armies, and there scarcely remained, all over France, any but mere boys to continue the trade and agriculture of the country, assisted by old men, and women. Beyond the boundaries of France, the populations of subdued and insulted nations were watching for the opportunity to rise and resume their rights. In Germany they were encouraging each other to prepare for the day of retribution; and in numerous places along the coasts bands of smugglers kept up a continual warfare with the French officers of the customs, to introduce British manufactures. The contributions which had been levied in Holland and the Hanse Towns before they were incorporated in the Gallic empire were now not readily collected in the shape of taxes. Beyond the Continent ceased the power of Napoleon; over all seas and colonies reigned his invincible enemy, Great Britain. There was scarcely a spot the wide world over where the French flag, or those of the nations whom he had crushed into an odious alliance, waved on which Great Britain had not now planted her colours. She cut off all colonial supplies, except what she secretly sold to his subjects in defiance of his system. She was now victoriously bearing up his enemies in Spain,[21] Portugal, and Sicily against him, and encouraging Russia, Sweden, Prussia, and Austria to expect the day of his final overthrow. There was scarcely a man of any penetration who expected that this vast and unwieldy government could continue to exist a single day after him who had compelled it into union, rather than life; but, perhaps, none suspected how suddenly it would collapse. Yet the very birth of a son was rather calculated to undermine than to perpetuate it. His great generals, who had risen as he had risen, were suspected of looking forward, like those of Alexander of Macedon, to each seizing a kingdom for himself when the chief marauder should fall. It was certain that they had long been at enmity amongst themselves—a cause of weakness to his military operations, which was especially marked in Spain.

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The next day tempest scattered the approaching transports. Sir John thought the storm sufficient excuse for not pursuing; but the winds followed the invaders, and blowing directly from London towards Dunkirk, dispersed the French transports, sank some of the largest of them with all their men, wrecked others on the coast, and made the rest glad to recover their port. Charles waited impatiently for the cessation of the tempest to put to sea again, but the French ministers were discouraged by the disaster, and by the discovery of so powerful a British fleet in the Channel. The army was withdrawn from Dunkirk, Marshal Saxe was appointed to the command in Flanders, and the expedition for the present was relinquished.The Lords Justices having met, appointed Joseph Addison, afterwards so celebrated as a writer, and even now very popular, as their secretary, and ordered all despatches addressed to Bolingbroke to be brought to him. This was an intimation that Bolingbroke would be dismissed; and that proud Minister, instead of giving orders, was obliged to receive them, and to wait at the door of the Council-chamber with his bags and papers. As the Lords Justices were apprehending that there might be some disturbances in Ireland, they were about to send over Sunderland as Lord-Lieutenant, and General Stanhope as Commander-in-Chief; but they were speedily relieved of their fears by the intelligence that all had passed off quietly there; that the Lords Justices of Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh, and Sir Constantine Phipps, who had been more than suspected of Jacobitism, had proclaimed the king on the 6th of August, and, to give evidence of their new zeal, had issued a proclamation for disarming Papists and seizing their horses. The proclamation of George passed with the same quietness in Scotland, and no king, had he been born a native, in the quietest times, could have succeeded to the throne more smoothly. Eighteen lords, chiefly Whigs, were nominated by the new king to act as a Council of Regency, pending his arrival, and the Civil List was voted by Parliament.



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