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While the agitation was going forward in this manner in Ireland, the state of that country was the subject of repeated and animated debates in Parliament. One of the remedies proposed by the Government was an Arms Bill, which was opposed with great vehemence by the Irish Liberal members. Mr. Shaw, the Recorder of Dublin, in his speech on the second reading, described the condition of Ireland from the Conservative point of view; he considered that the country was in an alarming state, the lower classes extensively agitated, and the higher unusually dejected and depressed. Even the great benefit of the temperance movement had brought with it the evil of an organisation now turned to the most dangerous purposes. The real object of the Repeal agitation was to array the people and the priesthood against the property of the country. There was no class more alarmed at the progress of the movement than the respectable portion of the Roman Catholics, who dreaded lest they should be swept away by the tide. If the law did not put down the agitation, the agitation would put down the Constitution. Mr. C. Buller's remedy was "to Canadianise" Ireland, which meant to make Mr. O'Connell Attorney-General, and substitute the titulars for the clergy of the Establishment. Mr. Roebuck thought "there was no great difference between the late and the present Government. Neither of them had put down the giant evil of Ireland, her rampant Church. He would take away her revenue, and give it, if to any Church at all, to the Church of the Roman Catholics. The grand evil and sore of Ireland was the domination of the Church of the minority."
In this year the Spanish Legion, which had been sent to help the Constitutionalists in Spain was dissolved, after an inglorious career. It had been constantly attacked by the Conservatives in Parliament. Thus, in the Session of 1837, Lord Mahon, who had been Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Sir Robert Peel's Government, reviewed the line of policy pursued by Lord Palmerston. He complained that the public had been kept in a state of ignorance whether they were at peace or at war, and in his opinion it was a peace without tranquillity and a war without honour. The object of the Quadruple Alliance had been to appease the civil dissensions in Portugal, and not to sanction the intervention of France and Britain in Spain. He lamented the policy that led to the additional articles signed in 1834, which stipulated for a certain degree of interference. But Lord Palmerston had thought proper to proceed still further, in suspending the Foreign Enlistment Act, and allowing 12,000 Englishmen to enlist under the banners of the Queen of Spain. More than 540,000 had been already expended in the war; and in Lord Mahon's opinion the influence of Great Britain in Spain had not been augmented by these measures, in proof of which he alleged that British merchants got less fair play there than French merchants. Lord Palmerston defended his policy against the attacks of Lord Mahon and other speakers. The Quadruple Treaty, he contended, contemplated assistance to the Constitutional party in Spain as well as in Portugal. It was concluded because there was a civil war in Portugal; and when the civil war was transferred to Spain, the same parties who took part with Portugal by treaty were bound at an early period to extend its provisions to Spain, its object being expressly "the pacification of the Peninsula by the expulsion of the two Infants from it." He differed widely from Lord Mahon in thinking the suspension of the Foreign Enlistment Act was disgraceful to the Government. Examples of the same kind were to be found in the most brilliant periods of the history of England.
On the 8th of May, 1777, Ministers moved for more money for the insatiable Landgrave of Hesse, whose troops were at this very time exhibiting the most scandalous state of defiance of discipline, of consequent inefficiency, and of plunder of the inhabitants of America. This grant, though violently opposed, was carried, but only by a majority of eight. All parties now began to denounce the shameless rapacity of these German princes. Nor did Chatham, ill as he was, allow the Session to pass without making one more energetic protest against the continuance of the war with America. On the 30th of May he moved an address to his Majesty for the immediate cessation of hostilities. Notwithstanding all that had been said on our successes over the Americans, Chatham contended as positively as ever that we could never conquer them. "You have," he said, "ransacked every corner of Lower Saxony, but forty thousand German boors never can conquer ten times the number of British freemen. You may ravage, you cannot conquerit is impossibleyou cannot conquer America. You talk of your numerous funds to annihilate the Congress, and your powerful forces to disperse their army; I might as well talk of driving them before me with my crutch! But what would you conquer? The map of America? I am ready to meet any general officer on the subject" (looking at Lord Amherst)"What will you do out of the protection of your fleet? In the winter, if together, they are starved; and if dispersed, they are taken off in detail. I am experienced in spring hopes and vernal promises. I know what Ministers throw out; but at last will come your equinoctial disappointment. You have got nothing in America but stations. You have been three years teaching them the art of war. They are apt scholars; and I will venture to tell your lordships that the American gentry will make officers enough fit to command the troops of all the European Powers." Chatham's motion was rejected by ninety-nine votes against twenty-eight. Parliament was prorogued by the king on the 6th of June, in a speech in which he indulged the fallacious hope that the American insurrection would be terminated in the present campaign. But Chatham's prophecies were at the very time realising themselves. Had the Howes had the necessary qualities of commanders in such an important causehad they pursued and dispersed the American army, as they ought to have done on defeating it, and as they might readily have done; and had the British Government instantly, whilst in this favourable position, repealed all the obnoxious statutes, they would have thrown Congress and Washington so completely into the wrong, that it would have been impossible for them to have made head again. But neither the Generals nor the Government of that day had the capacity for such strategic and statesmanlike policy. The Generals went comfortably into winter quarters, leaving the embers of war to rekindle and spread; and Government, deaf to the warnings of Chatham, still stolidly refused justice whilst rigorously enforcing their injustice. And, indeed, when Chatham gave his last Cassandra-like remonstrance, it was already too late. We had indeed taught the Americans the art of war. Washington was no longer contented to stand on the defensive, happy if he could preserve his soldiers from running off without fighting at all. His circumstances were desperate, and the energy which springs from despair now urged him to measures of daring and wakefulness just as the English Generals, like northern bears, were entering on their winter's sleep. Benedict Arnold had paid him a visit in his wretched camp beyond the Delaware, and probably from their united counsels sprang a new style of movement, which confounded his unsuspecting enemies. * Lettre dAvaugour au Ministre, 1661.
MAP OF THE UNITED STATES AT THE TIME WHEN THEY GAINED THEIR INDEPENDENCE.means to procure the recall of those chosen without their participation; * filled offices with their adherents, and tolerated no secular priests except those of one mind with them. ** Talon, therefore, under the veil of a reverent courtesy, sharply watched them. They paid courtesy with courtesy, and the intendant wrote home to his master that he saw nothing amiss in them. He quickly changed his mind. I should have had less trouble and more praise, he writes in the next year, if I had been willing to leave the power of the church |where I found it. *** It is easy, he says again,
Even if we assume that death is absolutely the severest penalty devisable by the law, and that as a punishment for murder it is not too severe, it remains certain, that, relatively to the circumstances of a trial for murder, to the reluctance of judges or juries to pass an irretrievable sentence, to their fear of error, to their conscientious regard for human life, it is really a much less terrible danger for a malefactor to face than a penalty which would justify fewer hopes of impunity.
Buonaparte took up his residence at a palace in the suburbs. In the night there was an alarm of fire; it broke out in the quarter full of bazaars and coachmakers' factories. Napoleon rushed to the spot, and the flames were extinguished by the exertions of the soldiers. The next day all was quiet, and such French as lived in Moscow came out of their hiding-places and joined their countrymen. The following night the fires burst forth again. At first the conflagration had been attributed to accident; now it was felt to be the result of design, and Russians were seen fanatically hurrying from place to place with combustibles in their handsthe preparations of Rostopschin. Buonaparte during the day had taken possession of the Kremlin, and it was in imminent danger. When the fire was discovered near it, it came with the wind; it was extinguished, but the wind changed, and fire rose on that side, and again blew towards the palace. This occurred several times during the night; it was clear that there was a determined resolve to burn down the Kremlin. The flames defied all the efforts of the soldiers; they hunted down, according to Napoleon's twenty-first bulletin, no less than three hundred incendiaries, and shot them on the spot. These were armed with fusees six inches long, and inflammables, which they threw on the roofs. Buonaparte, who that day had dispatched a letter to Alexander proposing peace, was in the utmost agitation. He walked to and fro in distraction. "These are indeed Scythians!" he exclaimed. The equinoctial gales rose in all their wild fury. Providence commenced its Nemesis. The Kremlin was on fire, and all was raging fire around it; churches, palaces, streets, mostly of wood, were roaring in the storm. It was with difficulty that Buonaparte could be induced to leave the Kremlin, and as he did so he said gloomily, "This bodes us great misfortunes." He began to foresee all the horrors which followed.The year 1810 opened with violent debates on the conduct of the late Ministry, and the miserable management of the Walcheren Expedition. The King's Speech, read by commission, passed over the disasters in Belgium entirely, and spoke only of Wellesley's glorious victory at Talavera. But the Opposition did not pass over Walcheren; in both Houses the whole business was strongly condemned by amendments which, however, the Ministry managed to get negatived by considerable majorities. Both Castlereagh and Canning defended their concern in the expedition. They declared that the orders were to push forward and secure Antwerp, and destroy the docks and shipping there, not to coop up the troops in an unhealthy island swamp; and that they were not responsible for the mismanagement of the affair. This threw the onus on Lord Chatham, the commander, but did not exonerate Ministers for choosing such a commander; and though they were able to defeat the amendments on the Address, they were not able to prevent the appointment of a secret committee to inquire into the conduct and policy of the expedition. The committee was secret, because Buonaparte carefully read the English newspapers, and Parliament was desirous of keeping from his knowledge the wretched blunders of our commanders. This object, however, was not achieved, for the evidence given before the committee oozed out and appeared in our newspapers, and was duly set forth in the Moniteur for the edification of France and the Continent. Notwithstanding the frightful details laid before the committee, and the gross proof of dilatoriness and neglect, Ministers succeeded in negativing every condemnatory motion; and though General Craufurd actually carried resolutions affirming the propriety of taking and keeping the island of Walcheren, awfully fatal as it was, still Lord Chatham, though exculpated by the Court and Parliament, was by no means acquitted by the country, and he found it necessary to surrender his post of Master-General of the Ordnance.