The approaching marriage of the Queen was anticipated by the nation with satisfaction. We have seen, from the height to which party spirit ran, that it was extremely desirable that she should have a husband to stand between her and such unmanly attacks as those of Mr. Bradshaw. An occurrence, however, took place in the early part of the year very painful in its nature, which added much to the unpopularity of the Court. This was the cruel suspicion which was cast upon Lady Flora Hastings by some of the ladies about the Queen, and is supposed to have caused her early death. She was one of the ladies in attendance on the Duchess of Kent; and soon after her arrival at Court it was generally surmised, from the appearance of her person, that she had been privately married, the consequence of which was that, in order to clear her character, which was perfectly blameless, she was compelled to submit to the humiliation of a medical examination. Shortly afterwards she died of the disease which was suspected to be pregnancy, and the public feeling was intensified by the publication of the acrimonious correspondence which had taken place between her mother on the one side and Lady Portman and Lord Melbourne on the other.THE MUTINY AT SPITHEAD: HAULING DOWN THE RED FLAG ON THE "ROYAL GEORGE." (See p. 456.)On the 15th the British squadron brought in the Emigrant troops from the Elbe, under the young and gallant Count de Sombreuil; but they amounted only to eleven thousand men. Puisaye now ordered the Count de Vauban to advance against Hoche with twelve thousand Chouans, and, whilst they attacked on the right, he himself attacked his lines in front. After some desperate fighting they were driven back, and lost most of their cannon in the deep sand of the isthmus. Their misfortunes were completed, on the 20th, by the garrison of the fort of Penthièvre going over to the enemy, surrendering the fort to them, and helping to massacre such of their officers and comrades as refused to follow their example. The English admiral exerted himself to receive the remainder of the troops who remained true on board his ships; but the storminess of the weather and the impatience of the fugitives rendered this a most difficult task. About fourteen thousand regulars and two thousand four hundred Chouans were got on board; but Sombreuil, exposed to the murderous fire from the enemy whilst waiting on the beach, surrendered on promise of life. No sooner, however, were they in the hands of the Republicans than all the officers and gentlemen were led out and shot; and the common men enrolled in Hoche's regiments.
Some of the offenders in this "Bottle Riot," as it was called, were prosecuted. Bills against them were sent up to the grand jury of the city of Dublin. But as this body had a strong Orange animus, the bills were thrown out. Mr. Plunket then proceeded by ex-officio informations, which raised a great outcry against the Government, as having violated the Constitution, and a resolution to that effect was moved by Mr. Brownlow in the House of Commons. It turned out, however, that his predecessor, Mr. Saurin, one of his most vehement accusers, who alleged that the course was altogether unprecedented, had himself established the precedent ten or twelve years before. Forgetting this fact, he denounced the conduct of Mr. Plunket as "the most flagrant violation of constitutional principle that had ever been attempted." The trial in the Court of Queen's Bench, which commenced on February 3rd, 1823, produced the greatest possible excitement. The ordinary occupations of life appeared to be laid aside in the agitating expectation of the event. As soon as the doors were opened, one tremendous rush of the waiting multitude filled in an instant the galleries, and every avenue of the court. The result of the trial was, that the jury disagreed, the traversers were let out on bail, the Attorney-General threatening to prosecute again; but the proceedings were never revived.The rest of the Speech consisted of endeavours to represent the country as in a prosperous condition; to have escaped from insurrection by the vigilance of Ministers, and to have recovered the elasticity of commerce. No amendment was moved to the Address in either House, but not the less did the conduct of Ministers escape some animadversion. In the Peers, Lord Lansdowne ridiculed the alarms which had been raised regarding the movements in Derbyshire, which, he said, had not been at all participated in by the working population at large, and had been put down by eighteen dragoons. He contended that there was no evidence of any correspondence with these conspirators in other quarters; but this was notoriously incorrect, for there had been a correspondence in Lancashire and Yorkshire, a correspondence especially disgraceful to Ministers, for it was on the part of their own incendiary agents. He observed truly, however, that the insurrection, as it was called, had by no means justified the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, for it could have been most readily put down without it by the regular course of law. In the Commons, Sir Samuel Romilly thought that the Derbyshire insurrectionists had been very properly brought to trial; for Brandreth had committed a murder, and, therefore, those who acted with him were, in the eye of the law, equally guilty. But if they were properly brought to trial, there were others who ought still more properly to have been brought to trial too—the very men whom Government had sent out, and who had aroused these poor people into insurrection by false and treacherous statements. There was no justice in trying and punishing the victims, and screening their own agents; and this was what Government had done, and were still doing. It is in vain, therefore, that their defenders contend that they gave no authority to Oliver and the other spies to excite the people to outbreak: these spies having notoriously done it, they still protected and rewarded them, and thus made themselves responsible for their whole guilt. If they had not authorised the worst part of the conduct of the spies, they now acted as though they had, and thus morally assumed the onus of these detestable proceedings. One thing immediately resulted from the p?ans of Ministers on the flourishing state of the country—the repeal of the Suspension Act. The Opposition at once declared that if the condition of the country was as Ministers described it, there could be no occasion for the continuance of this suppression of the Constitution; and accordingly a Bill for the repeal of the Suspension Act was at once brought in and passed by the Lords on the 28th, and by the Commons on the 29th of January.But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men.
It was towards the end of May before Marshal M?llendorf, the Prussian general, began the campaign. He then attacked the French, and drove them out of their entrenchments at Kaiserslautern with great slaughter. There, however, his activity seemed to cease; and on the 12th of July the French again fell upon him. He fought bravely for four whole days, supported by the Austrians; but both these Powers were compelled to retreat down the Rhine, the Prussians retiring on Mayence and the Austrians crossing the river for more safety. The French marched briskly after the Prussians, took Trèves, and then sent strong detachments to help their countrymen to make a complete clearance of Belgium and to invade Holland. Clairfait, who was still hovering in Dutch Flanders, was attacked by overwhelming numbers, beaten repeatedly, and compelled to evacuate Juliers, Aix-la-Chapelle, and finally Cologne. The French were so close at his heels at Cologne that they shouted after him that "that was not the way to Paris." Coblenz, where the Royalist Emigrants had so long made their headquarters, though strongly fortified, soon after surrendered. The stout fortress of Venloo, on the Meuse, and Bois-le-Duc, as promptly surrendered, and the French marched on Nimeguen, near which the Duke of York lay, hoping in vain to cover the frontiers of Holland. The people of Holland, like those of Belgium, were extensively Jacobinised, the army was deeply infected by French principles, and to attempt to defend such a country with a mere handful of British was literally to throw away the lives of our men. Yet the duke stood stoutly in this hopeless defence, where half Holland ought to have been collected to defend itself.[See larger version]
Great was the joy inspired by these successes. The new Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, issued a proclamation, in which he stated that he felt assured every subject of the British Government would peruse with the deepest interest and satisfaction the report of the entire defeat of the Afghan troops, under the command of Mahomed Akbar Khan, by the garrison of Jelalabad. These feelings of joy and satisfaction were shared by the Home Government. On the 20th of February, 1843, the Duke of Wellington, in the House of Lords, moved a vote of thanks to Sir George Pollock, Sir William Nott, Sir John M'Caskill, Major-General England, and the other officers of the army, both European and native, for the intrepidity, skill, and perseverance displayed by them in the military operations in Afghanistan, and for their indefatigable zeal and exertions throughout the late campaign. Lord Auckland seconded the motion, which was carried without opposition. Sir Robert Peel brought forward a similar motion in the House of Commons on the same day, following the example of the Duke in giving a succinct narrative of the events of the war, and warmly eulogising, amidst the cheers of the House, the officers who had most distinguished themselves. The resolution passed without opposition, Mr. Hume having withdrawn an amendment which he had proposed.
This great debate was interrupted by a motion brought on by Mr. O'Connell, on the impending famine in Ireland, which is chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Bright, in which, alluding to Sir Robert Peel's last address to the House, he said, "I watched the right honourable baronet go home last night, and I confess I envied him the ennobling feelings which must have filled his breast after delivering that speech—a speech, I venture to say, more powerful and more to be admired than any speech ever heard in this House within the memory of any man in it." A further eloquent allusion to the Minister's newly acquired freedom from the enthralment of the bigoted among his party had a powerful effect upon the House, and it was observed by those who sat near Sir Robert Peel that the tears started to his eyes at this unexpected generosity from his old opponent.
[See larger version]The Whig party were in consternation at this sudden disruption of the union of the heads of their party. A meeting was held on the night of the 11th of February at Burlington House, which did not separate till three in the morning. The result did not appear to have been very satisfactory, and the fears of the Whigs were greatly augmented by finding Pitt, who had hitherto praised the Revolution, now express the great obligations of the country to Mr. Burke, for the able warning which he had given against revolutionary principles. The king made no secret of his abhorrence of these principles. He considered the French Revolution as the direct result of the American one; and having come to the conclusion that he had himself erred by too much concession, he now censured the concessions of Louis XVI. as fraught with certain calamity. All this boded a decided resistance to the spirit of reform at home. There was a new schism amongst the organs of the press. Many of the newspapers still fostered in their columns the wildest hopes of universal advantage to the cause of liberty from the French Revolution; but others adopted the opinions and views of Burke—and no few of the Whig and Foxite papers were of this class. The effect of the alarm at the wild conduct of the French was speedily seen in the refusal to consider the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act, which was brought forward by Fox, on behalf of the Dissenters, and a motion for parliamentary reform, introduced by Mr. Flood. Both were strongly opposed, on the ground that this was not the time to make any changes whilst so riotous a spirit of change was near us, and was so warmly admired by many of our own people. Both motions were rejected by large majorities.The left of his operations was entrusted to General Prideaux with a body of colonial militia, and Sir William Johnson with another of friendly Indians, over whom he had a wonderful ascendency. This united force was to march against the fort of Niagara, reduce it, and then, crossing Lake Ontario, advance on Montreal. The centre of his operations was entrusted to General Amherst, who superseded Abercrombie. With twelve thousand men he was again to attempt Ticonderoga, open the navigation of Lake Champlain, and then, joining Prideaux and Johnson at Montreal, descend the St. Lawrence to support Wolfe, who was to be conveyed by sea to the St. Lawrence, and to prepare for the storming of Quebec, it being hoped that, by the time of his arrival, the two other divisions of the army would have come up.
Shortly before the Clare election Mr. O'Connell established the order of "Liberators," as a mode of expressing the gratitude and confidence of the people for past services. Its objects were to prevent the formation or continuance of secret societies; to conciliate all classes in one bond of brotherhood and affection, "so that all religious animosities may cease among Irishmen;" to bury in total and eternal oblivion all ancient animosities and reproaches; to prevent feuds and riots, and faction fights at fairs and markets; to promote the collection of a national fund for national purposes; to protect voters from the vengeance of their landlords, and to watch over their registration; "to promote the system of dealing exclusively with the friends of civil and religious liberty, Protestant and Catholic, with the selection, where choice can be made, of Protestant friends, being the most disinterested of the two; also, to prevent, as much as possible, all dealing with the enemies of Ireland, whether Protestant, Orangemen, or Orange Catholics, the worst of all Orangists; to promote the exclusive use of articles the growth and manufacture of Ireland."Whilst the American colonies were thus stimulated, by unwise taxation, into a temper which never again could be entirely allayed, the king was suddenly attacked with an illness, that startled himself and the kingdom from that security which his apparently robust constitution had inspired. He was said to labour under cough and fever; but it became pretty well understood, after a time, that it was something more alarming—that it was, in fact, an attack of that insanity which recurred again and again, and held him for years, during the latter part of his reign, in its fearful power. This time it was of short occurrence; and the moment it was past, George held a levee at St. James's, and appeared at it with a cheerful air, as if to dissipate all alarm. But the king himself immediately proposed a measure, which showed that it had excited grave thoughts in him. He submitted to Ministers the propriety of a provision for a regency, in case of any recurring malady which should incapacitate him for business. The matter was discussed in the Cabinet, and it was agreed that such a bill should be prepared, empowering the king to name, if deemed necessary, "either the queen, or any other person of the royal family usually residing in Great Britain."
[See larger version]On the morning of the 19th the battle recommenced with fury. The French were now fighting close under the walls of the town, and Napoleon, posted on an eminence called Thonsberg, watched the conflict. Till two o'clock the fight raged all along the line, round the city; and neither party seemed to make any advance. At length the Allies forced their way into the village of Probstheide, and threw the French on that side into great confusion. Ney, on the north side, was also fearfully pressed by Blucher and the Crown Prince of Sweden, and was compelled to retreat under the walls. On a sudden, as the Russians advanced also against Ney, the Saxons—ten thousand in number—went over to them with a shout. They were sent to the rear, but their cannon was at once turned against the enemy. By evening it was clear that the French could not hold their position another day. Schwarzenberg announced to the Allied sovereigns that victory was certain, and they knelt on the field and returned thanks to God. The French knew this better than their opponents, for in the two days they had fired two hundred and fifty thousand cannon-balls, and had only about sixteen thousand cartridges left, which would not serve for more than two hours, much of their artillery having been sent to Torgau. The retreat, therefore, commenced in the night. There was only one bridge prepared, of timber, in addition to the regular stone bridge, over which one hundred thousand men must pass, with the enemy at their heels. To add to the misery, the temporary bridge soon broke down. Napoleon took a hasty leave of the King and Queen of Saxony, ordered Poniatowski to defend the rear, and himself made for the bridge. It was not without much difficulty, and considerable alarm lest he should be surrounded and taken, that he and his suite got across. Then there was a terrible scene of crushing and scrambling; and the enemy, now aware of the flight, were galloping and running from all sides towards the bridge, to cut off the fugitives. Soon after Buonaparte had got over, the bridge was blown up by the French officer in charge of the mine already made, and twenty-five thousand men were left to surrender as prisoners in the town. Amongst these were Marshals Macdonald and Poniatowski; but, disdaining to surrender, they sprang, with their horses, into the Pleisse—to swim. Macdonald escaped, but Poniatowski, though he crossed the Pleisse, was again nearly cut off, and plunging into the deep and muddy Elster, was drowned. No braver man perished in these tragic campaigns; both Allies and French in Leipsic followed his remains to the tomb, in sincere honour of his gallantry. The triumph of the Allied monarchs was complete. They met in the great square of the city, and felicitated each other. The King of Saxony was sent, without any interview, under a guard of Cossacks to Berlin, and at the General Congress he was made to pay dearly in territory for his besotted adhesion to the invader of Germany. In this awful battle the French lost three hundred guns. The slain on both sides amounted to eighty thousand, and thousands of the wounded lay for days around the city, exposed to the severe October nights, before they could be collected into lazarettos; and the view of the whole environs of Leipsic, covered with dead, was fearful.On the 3rd of February the Commons attended to hear the commission read at the bar of the Lords, which was done by Earl Bathurst, in the absence of Thurlow. On returning to their House now as an authorised Parliament, the Commons read the Bill for the first time without a division, but on the second reading, on the 6th of February, Burke attacked it with unabated ferocity. He wanted to know how they were to determine when the king was sane again. Who was to inform them of it? Who was to certify it? He asserted the utter impossibility of adducing proof whether a person who had been insane were perfectly recovered or not. If this doctrine had been established, the regency must have become permanent. But this mode of reasoning was too metaphysical for the House of Commons; the debate passed on, and the Bill was committed. The clause providing against the non-residence of the prince, and against his marrying a papist, again brought up Mr. Rolle. He said that he had given his assent to the appointment of the prince regent on the assurance of his friends, that he was not married to a certain lady, either in law or in fact; but that he had since read a famous pamphlet, which affirmed that the facts were in opposition to those avowals. This was a brochure of Horne Tooke's, in the shape of a letter to a friend, in which he declared his positive knowledge of the prince's marriage with "the late Mrs. Fitzherbert," who, he contended, in spite of the Marriage Act, was his lawful wife. Rolle was answered by Lord North, who declared that the object of the pamphleteer was simply to make mischief by throwing out assertions that he never meant to prove, and Welbore Ellis called for the reading of the Royal Marriage Act, and showed that no royal marriage could be valid without the king's consent, and that, therefore, whatever was the case, all those objections were a mere waste of words. Rolle did not press the question to a division. The other clauses of the Bill raised much debate, but were all passed, and on the 10th of February the council was appointed to assist the queen in her charge, and Pitt named as members of it the four principal officers of the household, the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward, the Master of the Horse, and the Groom of the Stole, with the addition of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor Thurlow, the Archbishop of York, and Lord Kenyon. The names of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, several of the other princes, the Lord Mayor of London, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, were all strongly urged upon Parliament as persons who ought to be members of this council, but they were, to a man, rejected by a majority of about fifty.详情
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