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NAPOLEON AT ROSSBACH. (See p. 527.)The demoralisation appeared further in the abuses connected with the distribution of relief. The reports of the Commissioners have stated that, in those districts where the relief committees worked together with zeal and in good faith, the administration was excellent, checking fraud and imposture, while it relieved the really distressed. But in some districts this was unhappily not the case. Abuses existed, varying from apathy and neglect to connivance at frauds and misappropriation of the funds. Gross impositions were daily practised by the poor. The dead or absent were personated; children were lent for a few days in order to give the appearance of large families, and thus entitle the borrowers to a greater number of rations. Almost the whole population, in many cases, alleged poverty and looked for relief; and then, conceiving the receipt of cooked food a degradation, they endeavoured to compel the issue of raw meal. One universal spirit of mendicancy pervaded the people, to which in several places the committees offered no opposition. Yielding to intimidation, or seeking for popularity, they were willing to place the whole population indiscriminately on the lists to be supported by public charity.But the King of France did not share in the feeling of Choiseul. He wrote to the King of Spain about this time, "My Minister wishes for war, but I do not!" In fact, changes had taken place in the Court of France which were about to precipitate Choiseul from his long-enjoyed favour. Madame de Pompadour was dead, and the king had become deeply enamoured of Madame du Barry. Choiseul was impolitic enough to despise her influence, and treated her with undisguised hauteur. He soon felt the consequence in an order from the king to resign his office and retire[203] to his estate at Chanteloupe, in Touraine. The shock to the insolent Minister, who had so long ruled absolutely in the French Court, was the more unlooked for, because he thought himself now all the more safe from having secured the marriage of the king's heir, his eldest grandson, with the Austrian archduchess, Marie Antoinette. Choiseul was succeeded by the triumvirate d'Aiguillon, as Foreign Minister; Terray, as Minister of Finance; and Maupeou, as Minister of Jurisprudence; but all subject to the supreme influence of Madame du Barry. Louis XV. thenceforth became a cipher.

On the 22nd of February the English House of Commons resolved itself into a Committee, on the motion of Pitt, to consider these resolutions. Pitt spoke with much freedom of the old restrictive jealousy towards Ireland. He declared that it was a system abominable and impolitic; that to study the benefit of one portion of the empire at the expense of another was not promoting the prosperity of the empire as a whole. He contended that there was nothing in the present proposals to alarm the British manufacturer or trader. Goods, the produce of Europe, might now be imported through Ireland into Britain by authority of the Navigation Act. The present proposition went to allow Ireland to import and then to export the produce of our colonies in Africa and America into Great Britain. Beyond the Cape of Good Hope, or the Straits of Magellan, they could not go, on account of the monopoly granted to the East India Company.Buonaparte had arrived in Rochefort on the 3rd of Julyonly fifteen days after the battle of Waterloo. The two frigates provided by the Provisional Government to convey him to Americathe Saale and the Medusa, accompanied by the corvette Balladire and the large brig Epervierlay 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 Americawhence he might watch his opportunity of once more renewing the troubles of the worldhad, 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:Sir Francis Burdett once wrote a letter of a single sentence to his friend Lord Cloncurry, as follows:"Dear Lord Cloncurry, I should like to know what you think would allay Irish agitation? Yours truly, F. B." It would have taken a volume to answer this question, and perhaps, after all, Sir Francis Burdett would not have been satisfied. George IV. thought that his visit would have had that effect, and appearances for a time seemed to justify his sanguine anticipations. The visit had been long meditated. He set out on a yachting excursion soon after the coronation, and arrived at Plymouth on the 1st of August amidst the huzzas of an immense concourse of people. On the following day the royal squadron departed for Ireland, and anchored in the bay at Holyhead on the 7th. The news of his approach threw the people of Dublin into a paroxysm of joy, to which the newspapers of the day gave expression in the most extravagant terms. The blessing that awaited them seemed too great to be realised. Never had they comforted their hours of despondency or flattered themselves in seasons of imagined felicity, with anything approaching to the reality which fortune was about to shower upon them. The king's name, they declared, was more to them than a tower of strength; it had effected what neither patriots, philosophers, nor moralists could ever accomplish.

It was a melancholy thing to see the Queen of England bandied about from door to door, in the throng of curious and anxious spectators; cheered by some, laughed at by others, and an object of pity to her friends, making vain efforts to obtain admission to witness the glory of her worthless husband, repulsed at every point by the lowest officials, and compelled to return home discomfited and humiliated. By indiscreet and foolish acts like this she injured her position, and degraded herself to an extent that her husband, powerful and malignant as he was, never could have done. She and her friends counted upon the devotion of the people to her cause, which they hoped would have borne down all impediments and broken through all barriers. But it was felt that in attempting to intrude herself in that way at the risk of marring a great national festival, and causing tumult and possibly bloodshed, she had forgotten her own dignity; her conduct shocked the public sense of propriety, and went far to forfeit popular sympathy. She became deeply sensible of this fact while waiting for admission, and with all her attempts at hilarity, her laughter and gaiety of manner ill concealed the deep, self-inflicted wounds of her spirit, which were never healed. Now completely disenchanted, robbed of the fond illusion which had hitherto affected her perception of things, and viewing her situation in the cold morning light of stern reality, a chill of despondency came over her, and thenceforth settled heavily upon her spirit.The Ministry lost no time in introducing their Irish measuresthe new Municipal Reform Bill and the Bill for the Relief of the Poor. The former, after three nights' debate, passed the Commons by a majority302 to 247. It was during this debate that Mr. Sheil delivered his brilliant reply to the indiscreet and unstatesmanlike taunt of Lord Lyndhurst, who, when speaking on the same question in the Upper House, declared that the Irish were "aliens in blood, in language, and religion." "The Duke of Wellington," said Mr. Sheil, "is not a man of sudden emotions; but he should not, when he heard that word used, have forgotten Vimiera, Badajoz, and Salamanca, and Toulouse, and the last glorious conflict which crowned all his former victories. On that day, when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance, when the batteries spread slaughter over the field, and the legions of France rushed again and again to the onset, did the 'aliens' then flinch? On that day the blood of the men of England, of Ireland, and of Scotland was poured forth together. They fought on the same field, they died the same death, they were stretched in the same pit; their dust was commingled; the same dew of heaven fell on the grass that covered them; the same grass sprang from the soil in which they reposed together. And is it to be endured that we are to be called aliens and strangers to that empire for whose salvation our best blood has been poured out?"

At the same time that we were thus dragged into hostilities with Sweden, we were brought into hostilities with the Czar too in defence of Hanover. Peter had married his niece to the Duke of Mecklenburg, who was on bad terms with his subjects, and the Czar was only too glad to get a footing in Germany by sending a large body of troops into the Duchy. Denmark became immediately alarmed at such a dangerous and unscrupulous neighbour, and remonstrated; whereupon the Czar informed the Danish king that if he murmured he would enter Denmark with his army too. Of course the King of Denmark called on his ally, George of Hanover, for the stipulated aid; and George, who hated the Czar mortally, and was hated by the Czar as intensely in return,[35] at once sent his favourite, Bernsdorff, to Stanhope, who had accompanied him to Hanover, with a demand that "the Czar should be instantly crushed, his ships secured, his person seized, and kept till he should have caused his troops to evacuate both Denmark and Germany."FLORA MACDONALD. (After the Portrait by J. Markluin, 1747.)[See larger version]

It was the 10th of November when Mar, aware that Argyll was advancing against him, at length marched out of Perth with all his baggage and provisions for twelve days. On the 12th, when they arrived at Ardoch, Argyll was posted at Dunblane, and he advanced to give them battle. The wild, uneven ground of Sheriffmuir lay between them, and it was on this spot that Argyll on quitting Stirling had hoped to meet them. He therefore drew up his men on this moorland in battle array, and did not wait long for the coming of the Highland army. It was on a Sunday morning, the 13th of November, that the battle of Sheriffmuir was fought. Argyll commanded the right wing of his army, General Whitham the left, and General Wightman the centre. He[31] calculated much on this open ground for the operations of his cavalry. On the other hand, Mar took the right wing of his army, and was thus opposed, not to Argyll, but to Whitham. The Highlanders, though called on to form in a moment, as it were, did so with a rapidity which astonished the enemy. They opened fire on Argyll so instantly and well, that it took the duke's forces by surprise. The left army retired on Stirling pursued by Mar. Argyll was compelled to be on the alert. He observed that Mar had drawn out his forces so as to outflank him; but, casting his eye on a morass on his right, he discovered that the frost had made it passable, and he ordered Major Cathcart to lead a squadron of horse across it, while with the rest of his cavalry he galloped round, and thus attacked the left wing of Mar both in front and flank. The Highlanders, thus taken by surprise, were thrown into confusion, but still fought with their wonted bravery. They were driven, however, by the momentum of the English horse, backwards; and between the spot whence the attack commenced and the river Allan, three miles distant, they rallied ten times, and fairly contested the field. Argyll, however, bore down upon them with all the force of his right wing, offering quarter to all who would surrender, and even parrying blows from his own dragoons which went to exterminate those already wounded. After an obstinate fight of three hours, he drove the Highlanders over the Allan, a great number of them being drowned in it. Mar at this crisis returned to learn the fate of the rest of his army. He found that he had been taking the office of a General of Division instead of that of the Commander-in-Chief, whose duty is to watch the movements of the whole field, and send aid to quarters which are giving way. Like Prince Rupert, in his ardour for victory over his enemies in front of him, he had totally forgotten the centre and left wing, and discovered now that the left wing was totally defeated. He was contented to draw off, and yet boast of victory.

CAPTURE OF MURAT. (See p. 117.)James Cuffe; his father made Lord Tyrawley.Meanwhile, Colonel Thornton, though delayed, and with only a handful of men, still pushed on towards the battery, surprised the Americans, who expected no attack in that quarter, and carried it against overwhelming numbers. When about to turn the captured guns against the enemy, a messenger came in haste to say that Pakenham had fallen, and the attacking force had retired. But Thornton would not retrace his steps without carrying off a good quantity of the artillery, amongst which was a howitzer, inscribed, "Taken at the surrender of Yorktown, 1781." On his return to the main body, which he did without any pursuitfor even so small a band the Americans did not venture to pursueit was found that he had had but three men killed and forty wounded, he himself being amongst the latter.

Lord Wellington, early in October, called down his troops from their cold and miserable posts in the mountains, and marched them over the Bidassoa, and encamped them amongst the French hills and valleys of La Rhune. The last division moved across on the 10th of November, the town of Pampeluna having surrendered on the 31st of October. This was a very agreeable change to the troops; but, before crossing, his lordship issued the most emphatic orders against plundering or ill-using the inhabitants. He told them, and especially the Spanish and Portuguese, that though the French had committed unheard-of barbarities in their countries, he would not allow of retaliation and revenge on the innocent inhabitants of France; that it was against the universal marauder, Buonaparte, and his system, that the British made war, and not against the people of France. But the passions of the Portuguese and Spaniards were too much excited against their oppressors, and they burnt and plundered whenever they had opportunity. On this, Wellington wrote sternly to the Spanish general, Freyre.[62] "Where I command," he said, "no one shall be allowed to plunder. If plunder must be had, then another must have the command. You have large armies in Spain, and if it is wished to plunder the French peasantry, you may then enter France; but then the Spanish Government must remove me from the command of their armies. It is a matter of indifference to me whether I command a large or a small army; but, whether large or small, they must obey me, and, above all, must not plunder." To secure the fulfilment of these orders, he moved back most of the Spanish troops to within the Spanish frontiers. The strictness with which Lord Wellington maintained these sentiments and protected the inhabitants produced the best results. The folk of the southern provinces, being well inclined to the Bourbons, and heartily wearied of seeing their sons annually dragged away to be slaughtered in foreign countries for Buonaparte's ambition, soon flocked into camp with all sorts of provisions and vegetables; and they did not hesitate to express their wishes for the success of the British arms.



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CHAPTER V. THE REIGN OF GEORGE IV.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."Kutusoff had made a dexterous march and encamped at Taroutino, a strong position near Kaluga, between Moscow and Poland, so as to be able to cut off the retreat of the French into the fertile plains of Poland, and to cover Kaluga and Tula, the great Russian manufactory of arms and artillery. Buonaparte sent Murat with the cavalry to watch the camp of Kutusoff, and the King of Naples established himself in front of the Russian lines. Murat entered into a sort of armistice with Kutusoff whilst waiting for the reply from Alexander, in the hope that thus they should obtain supplies from the peasants; but neither food nor firing was obtainable except by fighting for it, nor was the armistice at all observed, except just in the centre, where Murat lay. From every quarter Cossacks continued to collect to the Russian armystrange, wild figures, on small, wild-looking horses with long manes and tails, evidently drawn from the very extremities of the empire. All Russia was assembling to the grand destruction of the invaders. Behind the camp the French could hear the continued platoon-firing, indicating the perpetual drilling of the peasantry that was going on. Other bodies of peasants formed themselves into troops of guerillas, under the chiefs of their neighbourhood. The whole of the Russian population since the burning of Moscow had become grimly embittered, and had taken arms to have a share in the mighty revenge that was coming. And now, as the sudden descent of winter was at hand, the same men who had pretended to admire the soldier-like figure and gallantry of Muratwho galloped about in all his military finery in front of the Russian campbegan to ask the officers if they had made a paction with winter. "Stay another fortnight," they said, "and your nails will drop off, and your fingers from your hands, like rotten boughs from a tree." Others asked if they had no food, nor water, nor wood, nor ground to bury them in France, that they had come so far?

The first proclamation issued by the Provisional Government was the following:"A retrograde Government has been overturned by the heroism of the people of Paris. This Government has fled, leaving behind it traces of blood, which will for ever forbid its return. The blood of the people has flowed, as in July; but, happily, it has not been shed in vain. It has secured a national and popular Government, in accordance with the rights, the progress, and the will of this great and generous people. A Provisional Government, at the call of the people, and some deputies, in the sitting of the 24th of February, is for the moment invested with the care of organising and securing the national victory. It is composed of MM. Dupont (de L'Eure), Lamartine, Crmieux, Arago, Ledru Rollin, and Garnier Pags. The secretaries to this Government are MM. Armand Marrast, Louis Blanc, and Ferdinand Flocon." Scarcely had the ex-king found a resting-place on British soil than every vestige of royalty was obliterated in France.



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