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Parliament reassembled, according to the Minister's plan, at the unusually early date of the 22nd of January, 1846. The Queen's Speech, read by her Majesty in person, thus alluded to the topic most prominent in the public mind:—THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR AND THE VICTORY OF LORD NELSON OVER THE COMBINED FRENCH AND SPANISH FLEETS, OCTOBER 21ST, 1805.

The British Government had done all in its power, except annuling the Orders in Council, to produce a better tone of feeling in America. It put up with many insults and violations of neutrality. It sent Mr. Foster as envoy to the United States to endeavour to adjust all differences; but in vain. This continued so till 1812, when, on the 20th of May, Mr. Russell, the American chargé-d'affaires, presented Lord Castlereagh with a copy of an instrument by which France had, on the 28th of April, abrogated its Berlin and Milan Decrees so far as they related to American vessels. To show an equal liberality, Great Britain, on the 23rd of June, revoked its Orders in Council so far as concerned America, on condition that the United States also revoked its non-Intercourse Act. But this had no effect on the Government of America, which had already concluded a secret treaty with France, and was making every preparation for the invasion of our Canadian colonies. The Americans had the most profound idea of the stability of Buonaparte, and could not conceive that the expedition that he was now preparing against Russia would prove his overthrow. But they expected that Buonaparte would crush Russia altogether, and would rule unopposed over Europe; that the Government of Great Britain was bankrupt, and that they might assail her with impunity. Accordingly, all activity was used in getting ready all kinds of ships to send out as privateers, calculating on a plentiful spoil of British traders in the waters along the American coast and amongst the West Indian Isles, before they could be put upon their guard. At the same time, on the 14th of April they laid an embargo on all American vessels, so as to keep them at home; and on the 18th of June the President announced to Congress that the United States and Great Britain were in an actual state of war. There was a studied ambiguity in this declaration; it did not candidly take the initiative, and assert that the United States declared war against Great Britain, but said that the two countries were, somehow or other, already in a state of war.

To reach the enemy the British had to cross the river, and that by a single bridge. This was commanded by the American artillery, and it might have been expected that it would not be easily carried; but, on the contrary, a light brigade swept over it, in face of the cannon, followed by the rest of the army; and the troops deploying right and left the moment they were over, this single division—about one thousand six hundred strong—routed the whole American force before the remainder of the British could come into action. Few of the Americans waited to be killed or wounded. Madison had the mortification to see his army all flying in precipitation, and the city open to the British.Such were the means by which the union of Ireland with Great Britain was accomplished, and it would be idle to argue that a majority in the Irish Parliament was not purchased by places, pensions, peerages, and compensation for suppressed seats. But it was a bargain, made above-board, and in the open market. It was, moreover, in agreement with the sentiment of the age, a borough-owner was thought to have a right "to do what he willed with his own," and Pitt, in one of his own Reform bills, had acted on the theory that boroughs were a species of property. Lord Cornwallis, though he acknowledged that he was engaged in dirty work, declared that the union was imperatively necessary, and could be accomplished only by those means. The Irish Parliament was profoundly corrupt, and from no point of view could its extinction be regretted, but that extinction could be accomplished only by further corruption. Nor is there any proof that the Irish nation as a whole were opposed to the union. It was, of course, hard on a pure patriot like Grattan to be involved in the fate of a corrupt gang of placemen, but, as a Protestant, he only[476] represented the minority. The Catholics were either indifferent, with the indifference resulting from long oppression, or in favour of the measure. They knew that from the Irish Parliament it had become, since the Rebellion, hopeless to expect Catholic emancipation; they believed the assurances of Pitt that a measure for their relief would speedily be introduced in the British Parliament. Had he been able to fulfil his promise, the union would have been—to use Macaulay's familiar phrase—a union indeed.

These preparations on the part of Spain were in one particular favourable to the King of England—they rendered the Emperor much more conceding. The English envoy at that Court—rather singularly a Swiss of the canton of Bern—the General de St. Saphorin, had found Stahremberg, the Emperor's Minister, very high, and disinclined to listen to the proposals of the King of England regarding Bremen and Verden; but the news of the Spanish armament, and still more of its having sailed from Cadiz to Barcelona, produced a wonderful change. The Imperial Court not only consented to the demands of England, but accepted its mediation with the Turks, by which a considerable force was liberated for the service in Italy. The Emperor acceded to the alliance proposed between England, France, and Germany in order to drive Spain to terms, and which afterwards, when joined by the Dutch, was called the Quadruple Alliance. In France, however, all obstacles to this Treaty were not yet overcome. There was a strong party, headed by the Marshal d'Huxelles, chief of the Council for Foreign Affairs, which strongly opposed this plan of coercing the grandson of Louis XIV. To overcome these obstacles Stanhope went over to Paris, and had several conferences with King Philip; and, supported by Lord Stair and Nancré, all difficulties were removed, and the Alliance was signed in the succeeding August.

GEORGE CANNING.[185]GENERAL ELECTION OF 1784: THE HUSTINGS, COVENT GARDEN: THE WESTMINSTER DESERTER DRUMMED OUT OF THE REGIMENT—DEFEAT OF SIR CECIL WRAY. (Reduced facsimile of the Caricature by T. Rowlandson.)

News now came that the Brest fleet was putting to sea. On the 7th of May Lord Bridport went on board and ordered anchor to be weighed. Not a man stirred; nor was it likely. No sooner had Lord Bridport told them what was not true, that their demands were acceded to, than, in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, Ministers had spoken of the subject in very ambiguous terms, and the Board of Admiralty had only ended the ambiguity by issuing an order on the 1st of May, commanding, in consequence of "the disposition lately shown by the seamen of several of his Majesty's ships," that the arms and ammunition of the marines should be kept in readiness for use in harbour, as well as at sea; and that on the first appearance of mutiny the most vigorous measures should be taken to quell it. This was ordering the officers of marines to fire on the sailors who should refuse to be thus shamefully juggled out of their promised rights by the Government. On board the London, Vice-Admiral Colpoys pushed the matter so far that his men resisted orders; and as one was unlashing a gun, Simpson, the first-lieutenant, told him that if he did not desist he would shoot him. The man went on unlashing, and Simpson shot him dead! On this, the sailors, in a rage, disarmed the officers and proceeded to hang Simpson at the yard-arm. Colpoys then begged for the lieutenant's life, assuring them that the order was his own, and that Simpson had only done his duty in obeying it. The chaplain and surgeon joined in the entreaty; and the men, far more merciful and reasonable than their commanders, complied. They ordered, however, Colpoys and all the officers to their respective cabins, and put the marines, without arms, below deck. Similar scenes took place on the other ships, and the fleet remained in the hands of the sailors from the 7th to the 11th of May, when Lord Howe arrived with an Act of Parliament, granting all their demands. Howe, who was old and infirm, persuaded them to prepare a petition for a full pardon. They, however, accompanied this petition by an assurance that they would not serve again under the tyrannical officers whom they had put on shore; and this was conceded. Admiral Colpoys was included in this list of officers proscribed by their oppressed men, along with four captains, twenty-nine lieutenants, seventeen masters' mates, twenty-five midshipmen, five captains of marines, three lieutenants, four surgeons, and thirteen petty officers of marines. The whole being arranged on the 15th of May, the red flag was struck; and the deputies waited on Lord Howe to express their obligations to him for his kind services on behalf of the oppressed seamen. His lordship gave them luncheon, and then was escorted by them, along with Lady Howe, on board the fleet. On their return, they carried Lord Howe on their shoulders to the Governor's House. Sir Roger Curtis's squadron had just come in from a cruise, and on learning what had passed, declared themselves ready to support the rest of the fleet; but the news which Howe had brought at once satisfied them, and all eagerly prepared to set sail, and demonstrate their loyal zeal by an encounter with the Brest fleet.To reach the enemy the British had to cross the river, and that by a single bridge. This was commanded by the American artillery, and it might have been expected that it would not be easily carried; but, on the contrary, a light brigade swept over it, in face of the cannon, followed by the rest of the army; and the troops deploying right and left the moment they were over, this single division—about one thousand six hundred strong—routed the whole American force before the remainder of the British could come into action. Few of the Americans waited to be killed or wounded. Madison had the mortification to see his army all flying in precipitation, and the city open to the British.

On the 10th of September the Prussians began to examine the passes of the forest; and finding them defended, they attacked the French entrenchments but were everywhere repulsed. On the 11th, they concentrated their efforts on the pass of Grand-Pré, defended by Dumouriez himself, and were again repulsed by General Miranda at Mortaume, and by General Stengel at St. Jouvion. The Allies, thus unexpectedly brought to a check, for they had been led by the Emigrants to expect a disorganised or as yet undisciplined army, determined to skirt the forest and endeavour to turn it near Sedan. Whilst engaged in this plan, the Austrians discovered the weakness of the force in the defile of Croix-aux-Bois, where only two battalions and two squadrons of volunteers were posted, for Dumouriez had not examined the pass himself and was assured that this force was amply sufficient. Once aware of this mistake, the Austrians, under the Duke de Ligne, briskly attacked the position and drove the French before them. Dumouriez, informed of this disorder, ordered forward General Chasot with a strong force, who defeated the Austrians, killed De Ligne, and recovered the pass. But the advantage was but momentary; the Austrians returned to the charge with a far superior force, and again cleared the pass and remained in possession of it. Thus Dumouriez saw his grand plan of defence broken up; and finding that Chasot, who had fallen back on Vouziers, was cut off from him on his left along with Dubouquet, he saw the necessity of falling back himself into the rear of Dillon, on his right, who was yet master of the Islettes and the road to St. Menehould. He then sent messages to Chasot, Dubouquet, and to Kellermann, to direct their march so as to meet him at St. Menehould.[See larger version]

The irritation which this note caused was increased by the fact that before it was communicated by Sir Henry Bulwer to the Spanish Minister, the Duke de Sotomayor, a copy of it had got into print in one of the Opposition journals. In replying to it the Duke reminded our representative that when Lord Palmerston sent the despatch in question the Spanish Cortes were sitting, the press was entirely free, and the Government had adopted a line of conduct admitted to be full of kindness and conciliation. He asked, therefore, what motive could induce the British Minister to make himself the interpreter of the feelings and opinions of a foreign and independent nation in regard to its domestic affairs, and the kind of men that should be admitted to its councils. The Spanish Cabinet, which had the full confidence of the Crown and the Cortes and had been acting in conformity with the constitution and the laws, could not see "without the most extreme surprise the extraordinary pretensions of Lord Palmerston, which led him to interfere in this manner with the internal affairs of Spain, and to support himself on inexact and equivocal data, and the qualification and appreciation of which could not, in any case, come within his province." They declined to give any account of their conduct at the instigation of a foreign Power, and declared that all the legal parties in Spain unanimously rejected such a humiliating pretension. And, he triumphantly asked, "What would Lord Palmerston say if the Spanish Government were to interfere in the administrative acts of the British Cabinet, and recommend a modification of the régime of the State; or if it were to advise it to adopt more efficacious or more liberal measures to alleviate the frightful condition of[575] Ireland? What would he say if the representative of her Catholic Majesty in London were to qualify so harshly as your Excellency has done, the exceptional measures of repression which the English Government prepares against the aggression which threatens in the midst of its own States? What would he say if the Spanish Government were to demand, in the name of humanity, more consideration and more justice on behalf of the unfortunate people of Asia? What, in fine, would he say if we were to remind him that the late events on the Continent gave a salutary lesson to all Governments, without excepting Great Britain?"In balancing accounts at the Congress at Paris, there was a resignation on the part of Great Britain of the colonies which she had won with so much cost of money and men. Our statesmen never thought of placing some of the enormous sums we had bestowed on the Powers we helped against the islands we had conquered. We had dearly purchased them. But Great Britain gave back to France all the colonies possessed by her in 1792, except Tobago, St. Lucia, and the Isle of France. Still more absurdly, we returned Pondicherry, in the East Indies, as a focus for fresh annoyances there from the French, whom we had expelled at such cost for their meddling and exciting the natives against us. We restored to the French, under certain conditions, the right of fishing on the bank of Newfoundland, as they had enjoyed it in 1783; conditions which they boldly violated, and which the British Ministry did not venture to insist on being observed. We gave back also to Spain several islands and colonies; and the same to Holland—namely, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, the immense island of Java, and the rich one of Sumatra, retaining only the Cape of Good Hope and the settlements in Ceylon.We have already noted the excitement in Scotland at the Act which was passed in 1778 for the repeal of some of the severest disabilities of the Catholics; and this had been greatly increased by the proposal to extend its operation by a second Act to Scotland. The fanatics of Scotland were promptly on the alert, and there were dangerous riots in Edinburgh and Glasgow. But the same unchristian spirit had now spread to England, and Protestant Associations, as they were called, linked together by corresponding committees, were established in various towns, and had elected as their president and Parliamentary head Lord George Gordon, a brother of the Duke of Gordon. During the spring of 1780 he presented several petitions from the people of Kent, and he then conceived his grand idea of a petition long enough to reach from the Speaker's chair to the centre window at Whitehall, out of which Charles walked to the scaffold. At a meeting of the Protestant Association, held towards the end of May in Coachmakers' Hall, in London, he announced that he would present this petition on the 2nd of June. Resolutions were passed that the Association and all their friends must go in procession on that day to present the petition. They were to assemble in St. George's Fields; every one must have a blue cockade in his hat, to distinguish him from the enemies of the cause; and Lord George, to stimulate them, told them that unless the gathering amounted to twenty thousand he would not present the petition. On the 26th of May he stated in the House of Commons that he should appear there with the petition at the head of all those who had signed it. Accordingly, on 2nd of June vast crowds assembled on the appointed spot, amounting to sixty thousand, or, as many asserted, one hundred thousand men. This formidable throng was arranged in four battalions, one consisting entirely of Scotsmen, who received Lord George with enthusiastic acclamations, and, after a vapouring speech from him, marched by different ways to Westminster.

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The Christmas holidays necessarily postponed the plans of the conspirators by the Ministers going out of town, and the deaths of the king and of the Duke of Kent produced further impediments by preventing the regular Cabinet meetings. At one moment the plan appeared to be in jeopardy from the Ministers being in danger of dismissal for their refusal to procure the new king a divorce; but all these hindrances only the more enabled Edwards to ply his arts, and stimulate his victims to their destruction. So thoroughly had he brought them to this point, that, on the 19th of February, they came to the resolution to assassinate the Ministers each at his own house, as they could not get them all together; but at this moment Edwards brought them word that the Ministers were going to have a Cabinet dinner the next day. To make sure, they sent out for a newspaper, and finding that it was so, Thistlewood remarked that as there had not been a Cabinet dinner for a long time, there would be fourteen or sixteen there, and it would be a fine haul to murder them all together. The dinner was to be at the house of Lord Harrowby, and it was planned that one of the conspirators should call with a note, and then the rest should rush in and put the Ministers all to death, and bring away the heads of Sidmouth and Castlereagh in bags provided for that purpose. They were then to fire the cavalry barracks by throwing fire-balls into the straw-sheds, and the people rising, as they hoped, on the spread of the news, they were to take the Bank and the Tower.These great victories, so hardly won with such heavy sacrifices of human life, and accompanied by such heroic achievements, excited the admiration of the British public. The principal actors were munificently rewarded. The Governor-General was created Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, the title being accompanied by a shower of honours from his Sovereign, and a large pension from the East India Company. Sir Hugh Gough was also raised to the peerage, and received from the Company an annual pension of £2,000, with the same amount from Parliament, for three lives. Many of the officers engaged in the Sikh war received promotion and military orders, and a gratuity of twelve months' pay was given to all the soldiers without exception engaged in the campaign.

Burke proceeded amidst constant interruption to review the many scenes and debates in which Fox and himself had acted, as well as those on which they had differed, especially their difference of opinion on the Royal Marriage Act; but no difference of opinion had ever before affected their friendship. He alluded to his own long services and his grey hairs, and said that it was certainly an indiscretion, at his time of life, to provoke enemies, or induce his friends to desert him; but that, if his firm and steady adherence to the British Constitution placed him in that dilemma, he would risk all, and, as public duty required, with his last breath exclaim, "Fly from the French Constitution!" Here Fox whispered that there was no loss of friends; that there could be no loss of friendship between them; but Burke said—"Yes, there was a loss of friends: he knew the penalty of his conduct; he had done his duty at the price of his friends—there was an end of their friendship." It was some time before Fox could answer; he was completely overcome by his emotion; and it was only after a free flow of tears that he could proceed. He then said: "Painful as it was to listen to such sentiments as those just delivered by one to whom he owed so many obligations, he could never forget that, when little more than a boy, he had been in the habit of receiving instructions and favours from his right honourable friend. Their friendship had grown with their life; it had continued for upwards of five-and-twenty years; and he hoped, notwithstanding what had happened that day, that his right honourable friend would think on past times, and would give him credit for not intending anything unkind. It was quite true that they had before now differed on many subjects, without lessening their friendship, and why should they not now differ on the French Revolution without a severance of friendship? He could not help feeling that the conduct of his right honourable friend tended to fix upon him the charge of Republican principles, whereas he was far from entertaining such principles. His friend had heaped very ignominious terms upon him that day." Here Burke said aloud, he did not recollect having used such terms; and Fox promptly observed that "if his friend did not recollect those epithets—if they are out of his mind, then they were for ever out of his mind, too; they were obliterated and forgotten." He then denied that there was any marshalling of a party on this subject; that not one gentleman who had risen to call his right honourable friend to order had done it by his desire; on the contrary, he had entreated his friends not to interrupt him. After again dwelling for some time on the merits of the French Revolution, he once more lamented the breach in the unanimity of his friend and[380] himself, and said he would keep out of the way of his right honourable friend till he had time to reflect and think differently, and that their common friends might bring them together again; that he would endeavour to discuss the question on some future day, with all calmness, if his friend wished, but for the present he had said all that he desired to say.

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