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Such were the conditions on which this great contest was finally terminated. The Americans clearly had matters almost entirely their own way, for the English were desirous that everything should now be done to conciliate their very positive and by no means modest kinsmen, the citizens of the United States. It was, in truth, desirable to remove as much as possible the rancour of the American mind, by concessions which England could well afford, so as not to throw them wholly into the arms of France. The conditions which the Americans, on their part, conceded to the unfortunate Royalists consisted entirely of recommendations from Congress to the individual States, and when it was recollected how little regard they had paid to any engagements into which they had entered during the war—with General Burgoyne, for example—the English negotiators felt, as they consented to these articles, that, so far, they would prove a mere dead letter. They could only console themselves with the thought that they would have protected the unhappy Royalists, whom Franklin and his colleagues bitterly and vindictively continued to designate as traitors. Franklin showed, on this occasion, that he had never forgotten the just chastisement which Wedderburn had inflicted on him before the Privy Council for his concern in the purloining of the private papers of Mr. Thomas Whateley, in 1774. On that occasion, he laid aside the velvet court suit, in which he appeared before the Council, and never put it on till now, when he appeared in it at the signing of the Treaty of Independence.[333]

They were now only one hundred and twenty-seven miles from the capital, both Wade and Cumberland behind them, and Charles, notwithstanding the conditions on which they had come on from Macclesfield, still confidently and enthusiastically dwelt on the onward march to London, and his certain success. In the morning a council was held, when Lord George Murray appealed to the prince whether they had received the least accession of strength, or the smallest sign of encouragement? Such being the case, what hope was there for them in proceeding? They had barely five thousand men to contend against three armies, amounting at least altogether to thirty thousand. If they got to London before Cumberland, and if they managed to elude the army at Finchley, they had scarcely numbers to take quiet possession of London. But were they forced to fight the king and his army under the walls of the metropolis, they could not do it without loss; and then, supposing Wade and Cumberland to unite behind them, as they certainly would do, how could they hope to contend against them? Assistance from France, as they had pointed out, was hopeless whilst the English had such a force in the Channel. Charles listened to these arguments with undisguised[102] impatience, and the probability is that, had his officers been willing to follow him, and live or die in the enterprise, he would have seized London, and accomplished one of the most brilliant exploits in history.It might have been imagined that this magnificent and destructive repulse would have convinced the allies that the siege was hopeless, but they were pretty well informed that General Elliot had well nigh exhausted his ammunition in this prodigal death-shower, and they had still their great combined fleet, snug in the narrow bay, with scouts in the Strait to prevent the carrying in of supplies. But on the 24th of September news arrived at Madrid that the fleet of Lord Howe was under weigh for Gibraltar. Howe's fleet of thirty-four sail-of-the-line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, though in the neighbourhood of one of fifty sail-of-the-line, besides a number of frigates and smaller vessels, managed to get into the bay of Gibraltar all safe, amid the wildest acclamations of soldiers and inhabitants. By the 18th of October all the store-ships had discharged their cargoes, and had passed through the Strait, and on the 19th Lord Howe followed them with his fleet. The enemy's fleet then came out after him, and the next day they were in the open ocean, and Howe proceeded to their leeward to receive them. Some of their vessels had suffered[296] in the late gales, but they had still at least forty-four sail to Howe's thirty-four, and, having the weather-gauge, had every advantage. But after a partial firing, in which they received great damage from Howe, they hauled off and got into Cadiz bay. Howe, then dispatching part of his fleet to the West Indies and a second squadron to the Irish coast, returned home himself. The news of the grand defence of Gibraltar produced a wonderful rejoicing in England; thanks were voted by Parliament to the officers and privates of the brave garrison; General Elliot was invested with the Order of the Bath on the king's bastion in sight of the works which he had preserved, and on his return, in 1787, at the age of seventy, he was created a Peer as Lord Heathfield of Gibraltar.

Various inquiries had been instituted from time to time by royal commissions and Parliamentary committees into the state of education in Ireland. One commission, appointed in 1806, laboured for six years, and published fourteen reports. It included the Primate, two bishops, the Provost of Trinity College, and Mr. R. Lovell Edgeworth. They recommended a system in which the children of all denominations should be educated together, without interfering with the peculiar tenets of any; and that there should be a Board of Commissioners, with extensive powers, to carry out the plan. Subsequent commissions and committees adopted the same principle of united secular education, particularly a select committee of the House of Commons appointed in 1824. These important reports prepared the way for Mr. Stanley's plan, which he announced in the House of Commons in July, 1832. His speech on that occasion showed that he had thoroughly mastered the difficult question which he undertook to elucidate. It was remarkable for the clearness of its statements, the power of its arguments, and for the eloquence with which it enforced sound and comprehensive principles. Mr. Spring-Rice having moved that a sum of £30,000 be granted for enabling the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to assist in the education of the people, and the House having agreed to the motion without a division, Mr. Stanley, in the following month, wrote a letter to the Duke of Leinster, in which he explained "the plan of national education," which afterwards bore his name. The first Commissioners were the Duke of Leinster, Archbishop Whately, Archbishop Murray, the Rev. Dr. Sadleir, Rev. James Carlile (Presbyterian), A. R. Blake (Chief Remembrancer, a Roman Catholic), and Robert Holmes, a Unitarian barrister. Mr. Carlile, minister of Mary's Abbey congregation in Dublin, was the only paid commissioner, and to him, during seven years, was committed a principal share in working the system. He selected the Scripture lessons, directed the compilation of the schoolbooks, aided in obtaining the recognition of parental rights, apart from clerical authority; in arranging the machinery and putting it in working order.The purport of these Cabinet Councils was generally understood by the country; but as yet only the most sanguine anticipated the proposal of Sir Robert Peel, when the Times newspaper on the 4th of December announced, apparently from secret information, that it was the intention of the Government to repeal the Corn Laws, and to call Parliament together in January for that purpose. The assertion was received with incredulity, not only by the Opposition, but by the Ministerial journals. One organ of the Tory party placarded its office with a bill, headed "Atrocious fabrication of the Times!" But the latter journal, on the following day, declared that it "adhered to its original announcement." Day by day the controversy raged in the newspapers; but the news was too probable not to gain credence. The result was a conviction throughout the country that the Times had really obtained information of the Government's intentions; but as a matter of fact its information was incorrect, as the Cabinet, far from intending to repeal the Corn Laws, had made up its mind to retire.

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The construction of public roads has been greatly improved in the United Kingdom by the general adoption of the plan of Mr. Macadam, who gave his name to the process of substituting stones broken small for the old rough pavement. We read with astonishment of the state of English roads a century ago, of carriages breaking down and sticking fast in deep ruts, and of days passed in a journey which now only occupies as many hours. Yet in early times England was better off in this respect than other countries. Of all the proofs of social progress which the country now exhibits to such a marvellous extent on every side, there is nothing more decisive or more wonderful than the rapidity with which we have improved and extended our internal communication. From 1818 to 1839 the length of turnpike roads in England and Wales was increased by more than 1,000 miles. In the former year England and Wales contained paved streets and turnpike roads to the extent of 19,725 miles. Scotland also made great progress in the construction of highways from the commencement of the century, and roads were thrown across the wildest districts in Ireland. By the improvement of the common roads, and in the construction of vehicles, stage coaches increased their speed from four to ten miles an hour. Upon the Stamp Office returns for 1834 a calculation was based which showed that the extent of travelling on licensed conveyances in that year would be equal to the conveyance of one person for a distance of 597,159,420 miles, or more than six times the distance between the earth and the sun. There were, in 1837, in England, fifty-four mail coaches drawn by four horses each, and forty-nine by two horses each, drawn at an average speed of nine miles an hour. Ireland had at the same time thirty four-horse mails, and Scotland ten.By permission, from the Picture in the Corporation of Leicester Art Gallery.

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.If the man who turnips cries,Buonaparte allowed his army, now reunited in Smolensk, five days' rest and enjoyment of the stores there, and on the 14th of November he again marched out to force his way into Poland. The second division, under Davoust, followed on the 16th, and the rear, still under Ney, on the 17th. The worn-down Italians of Prince Eugene could not move till the 15th, and did not overtake Buonaparte and assume their proper position till the 17th. The road which Buonaparte was taking was by Wilna, Krasnoi, and Borissov to Minsk; at the last two places he had his stores. But his way was now hemmed in on all sides by Russian armies. Wittgenstein was already at Vitebsk, and thence advanced on Borissov on the Beresina, where Buonaparte hoped to cross; whilst Tchitchagoff, who had joined Tormasoff, and thus raised their force to sixty thousand men, had driven the Austrians, under Schwarzenberg, back on the Bug, and had taken Minsk on the very day that Napoleon marched out of Smolensk. At the same time Kutusoff, with the grand army of Russia, was marching in a parallel line on the left flank of the Emperor, ready to fall on him whenever he was reduced to extremities by the other converging Russian forces. Now was coming the grand crisis. The elements were fighting fearfully against him; his men were wearied, half-starved, and disheartened; his enemies on all sides were alert with hope and revenge. Had Kutusoff used more alertness, and secured the passage of the Beresina as it ought to have been secured, the event which Bernadotte had planned must have taken place, and Buonaparte, with the remainder of his army, must have remained a prisoner there.

Otherwise the prospect was dismal enough, and some of the greatest thinkers of the age were profoundly affected by the conviction that they were on the eve of a vast convulsion—that the end of the world was at hand, and that the globe was about to emerge into a new state of existence. The unsettled state of society accounts, in some measure, for the prevalence of the delusions of Edward Irving—then in the height of his fame; delusions from which such minds as Dr. Arnold's did not wholly escape. In reply to inquiries about the gift of tongues, this great man wrote:—"If the thing be real, I should take it merely as a sign of the coming day of the Lord. However, whether this be a real sign or no, I believe the day of the Lord is coming—i.e. the termination of one of the great ages of the human race; whether the final one of all, or not, that, I believe, no created being knows, or can know.... My sense of the evils of the times, and to what purpose I am bringing up my children, is overwhelmingly bitter. All the moral and physical worlds appear so exactly to announce the coming of the great day of the Lord—i.e. a period of fearful visitation, to terminate the existing state of things—whether to terminate the whole existence of the human race, neither man nor angel knows—that no entireness of private happiness can possibly close my mind against the sense of it."

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Sir Robert Peel was sent for by the Queen. No difficulties were now raised about the Ladies of the Court, since the difficulty had been settled through the diplomacy of the Prince Consort and his well-intentioned, though pedantic, adviser, Baron Stockmar. In due time the following Administration was formed:—First Lord of the Treasury, Sir Robert Peel; Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst; Chancellor of the Exchequer, Right Hon. H. Goulburn; President of the Council, Lord Wharncliffe; Privy Seal, Duke of Buckingham; Home Secretary, Sir J. Graham; Foreign Secretary, Earl of Aberdeen; Colonial Secretary, Lord Stanley; President of the Board of Control, Lord Ellenborough; President of the Board of Trade, Earl of Ripon; Secretary at War, Sir H. Hardinge; Treasurer of the Navy and Paymaster of the Forces, Sir E. Knatchbull. The Duke of Wellington was in the Cabinet without office. It was thus composed of thirteen members, but of these Wellington, Lyndhurst, Aberdeen, Stanley, and Graham were the only people of importance. Before the prorogation of Parliament on the 7th of October the Poor Law was continued until the end of the following July, and the financial deficit of £2,500,000 was provided for by the creation of £5,000,000 of new stock, half of which was devoted to the funding of Exchequer Bills.On the 26th of September the hostile host was seen in full march—cavalry, infantry, and artillery, attended by a vast assemblage of waggons and burden-bearing mules. The spectacle, as described by eye-witnesses, was most imposing in its multitudes and its beautiful order. At night, the whole country along the foot of the hills was lit up by the enemy's camp fires, and towards morning the din of preparation for the contest was plainly audible. Nothing but the overweening confidence of Massena in his invincibility, and the urgent commands of Napoleon, could have induced him to attack the Allied army in such a position; but both he and Buonaparte held the Portuguese as nothing, regarding them no more than as so many Spaniards, unaware of the wonderful change made in them by British discipline. A letter of Buonaparte to Massena had been intercepted, in which he said that "it would be ridiculous to suppose that twenty-five thousand English could withstand sixty thousand French, if the latter did not trifle, but fell on boldly, after having well observed where the blow might be struck." Ney, it is said, was of opinion that this was not such a situation; that it was at too great odds to attack the Allies in the face of such an approach. But Massena did not hesitate; early on the morning of the 27th he sent forward several columns both to the right and left of Wellington's position, to carry the heights. These were met, on Wellington's right, by Picton's division, the 88th regiment being commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace, and the 45th by Lieutenant-Colonel Meade. They were supported by the 8th Portuguese regiment. The French rushed up boldly to the very heights; but were hurled back at the point of the bayonet, the Portuguese making the charge with as much courage and vigour as the British. Another attempt, still farther to Wellington's right, was made, the French supposing that they were then beyond the British lines, and should turn their flank; but they were there met by General Leith's division, the Royals, the 9th and the 38th regiments, and were forced down the steeps with equal destruction. Both these sanguinary repulses were given to the division of General Regnier. On the left of Wellington the attack was made by Ney's division, which came in contact with that of General Craufurd, especially with the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th regiments of British, and the 3rd Portuguese Ca?adores, and with the same decisive and destructive result. There, too, the Portuguese fought gallantly, and, where they had not room to kill with their bayonets, they imitated the British soldiers, and knocked down the French with the butt-ends of their guns. Everywhere the repulse was complete, and Massena left two thousand slain on the field, and had between three and four thousand wounded. One general was killed, three wounded, one taken prisoner, besides many other officers. The Allies lost about one thousand three hundred, of whom five hundred and seventy-eight were Portuguese. Wellington was delighted with the proof that General Beresford's drilling had answered the very highest expectations, and that henceforth he could count confidently on his Portuguese troops, and he wrote in the most cheering terms of this fact in his dispatches home.There were various actions at sea, in one quarter or other. Sir Hyde Parker, convoying a merchant fleet from the Baltic, on the 5th of August fell in with Admiral Zouttman near the Dogger Bank, also convoying a fleet of Dutch traders. An engagement took place, Zouttman having a few men-of-war more than Parker. The engagement was terrible. The ships on both sides were severely damaged, and the Hollandia—a sixty-four-gun ship of Zouttman's—went down with all its crew. Many of the other ships were with difficulty kept afloat. On reaching the Nore, the king and the Prince of Wales went on board, where they highly complimented both Parker and the rest of the officers. On the 12th of December Admiral Kempenfeldt, with thirteen ships-of-the-line, discovered, off Ushant, the French fleet, under De Guichen, convoying a fleet of transports and merchantmen, bound, some for the East and others for the West Indies, with troops and stores. The fleet of De Guichen was far superior to that of Kempenfeldt, but, the convoy being at a considerable distance from the transports and traders, Kempenfeldt adroitly made himself master of twenty sail of these vessels, and sailed off with them; and within a few days afterwards he[286] captured five more of these ships. There were also other fights of minor importance.

They were now only one hundred and twenty-seven miles from the capital, both Wade and Cumberland behind them, and Charles, notwithstanding the conditions on which they had come on from Macclesfield, still confidently and enthusiastically dwelt on the onward march to London, and his certain success. In the morning a council was held, when Lord George Murray appealed to the prince whether they had received the least accession of strength, or the smallest sign of encouragement? Such being the case, what hope was there for them in proceeding? They had barely five thousand men to contend against three armies, amounting at least altogether to thirty thousand. If they got to London before Cumberland, and if they managed to elude the army at Finchley, they had scarcely numbers to take quiet possession of London. But were they forced to fight the king and his army under the walls of the metropolis, they could not do it without loss; and then, supposing Wade and Cumberland to unite behind them, as they certainly would do, how could they hope to contend against them? Assistance from France, as they had pointed out, was hopeless whilst the English had such a force in the Channel. Charles listened to these arguments with undisguised[102] impatience, and the probability is that, had his officers been willing to follow him, and live or die in the enterprise, he would have seized London, and accomplished one of the most brilliant exploits in history.The year 1800 opened in the British Parliament by a debate on an Address to the king, approving of the reply to an overture for peace by Buonaparte, as First Consul of France. The letter addressed directly to the king was a grave breach of diplomatic etiquette, and was answered by Lord Grenville, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in a caustic but dignified tone. A correspondence ensued between Lord Grenville and M. Talleyrand, as French Minister for Foreign Affairs; but it ended in nothing, as the British Minister distinctly declined to treat. If Buonaparte had been sincerely desirous of peace, he must have withdrawn the French army from Egypt, as it was there with the open declaration of an intention to make that country a stepping-stone to India. But, so far from this, Buonaparte was, at the same moment, preparing to make fresh and still more overwhelming invasions of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, and the proposal was simply made to gain time.

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