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The new Premier, however, was resolute, and persevered with his arrangements. He found an excellent successor to Lord Eldon, as Chancellor, in Sir John Copley, the Master of the Rolls, who was created Lord Lyndhurst. Mr. Peel, as Home Secretary, was succeeded by Mr. Sturges Bourne, who retired after a few weeks to make way for the Marquis of Lansdowne. He represented a section of the Whigs, prominent among whom were Brougham, Tierney and Burdett, who gave[259] their support to the Ministry. The Duke of Clarence succeeded Lord Melville as First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Marquis of Anglesey the Duke of Wellington as Master-General of the Ordnance. Viscount Palmerston was appointed the Secretary at War, with which office he commenced his long, brilliant, and popular career as a Cabinet Minister. The new Master of the Rolls was Sir John Leech, the Attorney-General Sir James Scarlett, and the Solicitor-General Sir N. Tindal. Mr. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, succeeded Mr. Goulburn as Chief Secretary of Ireland.[13]From the Painting by J. S. Copley, R.A., at the National Gallery.

It was at this era of religious apathy that John Wesley (b. 1703; d. 1791), and Charles, his brother (b. 1708; d. 1788), and George Whitefield (b. 1714), came forward to preach a revival, and laid the foundation of Methodism. These young men, students at Oxford, all of them originally of clerical families but Whitefield—who was the son of an innkeeper—with Hervey, afterwards the author of the well-known "Meditations amongst the Tombs," and some others of their fellow-collegians, struck by the dearth of religious life of the time, met in their rooms for prayer and spiritual improvement. They were soon assailed with the nicknames of "Sacramentarians," "Bible Moths," and finally, "Methodists," a term current against the Puritans in those days, and suggested by the appellative Methodist?, given to a college of physicians in ancient Rome, in consequence of the strict regimen which they prescribed to their patients.

Attention was now turned to a matter of the highest importance in a commercial, an intellectual, and a moral point of view. The stamp duty on newspapers had been the subject of keen agitation for some months, and newspaper vendors had incurred repeated penalties for the sale of unstamped newspapers; some of them having been not only fined, but imprisoned. A general impression prevailed that such an impost was impolitic, if not unjust, and that the time had come when the diffusion of knowledge must be freed from the trammels by which it had been so long restrained. A deputation, consisting of Dr. Birkbeck, Mr. Hume, Colonel Thompson, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Grote, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Brotherton, Mr. Wallace, and Mr. Buckingham, having, on the 11th of February, waited upon Lord Melbourne, to ask for an entire abolition of the stamp on newspapers, he promised to give his most serious attention to the matter; and he kept his word, for on the 15th of the next month the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought the subject before Parliament, and announced the intentions of Government with regard to it. He stated that it was proposed to revise the whole of the existing law respecting stamp duties, first by consolidating into one statute the 150 Acts of Parliament over which the law was at present distributed; secondly,[402] by the apportionment of the various rates on a new principle—namely, by the simple and uniform rule of making the price of the stamp in every case correspond to the pecuniary value involved in the transaction for which it is required. The effect of this change would be to reduce the stamp duty upon indentures of apprenticeship, bills of lading, and many others of the more common instruments, and to increase it upon mortgages and conveyances of large amounts of property. It was intimated that the proposed Consolidation Act would contain no less than 330 sections. With regard to the stamp on newspapers, then fourpence with discount, it was proposed to reduce it to one penny without discount. This would be a remission of a proportion, varying according to the price of the newspaper, of between two-thirds and three-fourths of the tax. To this remission Parliament assented, and the illicit circulation of unstamped papers was in consequence abandoned. Some of the members very reasonably objected to any stamp whatever on newspapers; but the time was not yet come when Government would venture entirely to remove it, although the advantages which must necessarily arise from such a proceeding could not but have been foreseen. It was considered unfair that the public at large should pay for the carriage of newspapers by post; and it does not seem to have been remembered that, as only a portion of them would be transmitted in this way, an injustice would be committed by demanding payment for all. The difficulty of the case was, however, in due time, easily surmounted; and political knowledge was, by the change even then made, in a great degree exempted from taxation—a good preparation for the time, which was not very far off, when a newspaper of a high order might be obtained, even for the reduced price of the stamp.On the 6th of October Sir John Moore received instructions from Lord Castlereagh that his army was to advance into Spain, and co-operate with the Spanish armies for the expulsion of the French. He was informed that his twenty-five thousand men would receive a reinforcement of ten thousand men under Sir David Baird, who was on his voyage to Corunna. When Sir John prepared to march, the most serious difficulties presented themselves. Even at Lisbon it was found impossible to procure conveyance for the necessary baggage, and therefore the supplies of provisions and stores were cut down extremely—a great mistake. There was one species of baggage—women and children—who, according to the wretched practice of the time, were allowed to accompany the troops, and would not be left behind, though the army was going into immediate active service against the enemy. Sir John directed the commanding officers to order that as many as possible of these should stay behind, especially such women as had very young children, or infants at the breast, as there would not be found sufficient carts for them; and in the mountainous tracks at that season, and the horrible roads, they must suffer the most exhausting fatigues and hardships. But Sir John had not the commanding firmness of Wellesley, and his orders in this respect were, for the most part, neglected. Very proper orders were also issued by Sir John regarding the behaviour of the soldiers towards the natives. They were informed that the Spaniards were a grave and very proud people, readily offended by any disrespect towards their religion or customs; and the soldiers were desired to behave courteously, and to wear the cockade of King Ferdinand VII. as well as their own.

Sir John Stuart did not long remain idle at Palermo. At the suggestion of Lord Collingwood, he sent out an expedition to seize on a number of the Ionian Isles, which had been taken possession of by the French, who were calculating on further conquests in that direction—namely, in continental Greece itself. The Warrior, commanded by Captain Spranger, attended by other vessels, carried over one thousand six hundred troops, under command of Brigadier-General Oswald. The troops were half of them British, and half Corsicans, Sicilians, Calabrians, and other foreigners in British pay. They carried with them Signor Foresti and an Ionian Greek as interpreters and agents with their countrymen, many of whom, they were aware, had an indignant hatred of the French domination. They arrived off Cephalonia on the 28th of September, and on the 1st of October, being joined by their transports and gunboats, they anchored in the bay of Zante, and the following morning commenced a landing, under the cover of a brisk fire from some of the ships and gunboats. The land-batteries were soon silenced, and before night the French commander had not only surrendered the castle, but the islands of Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Cerigo. Two of the seven islands remained for the time in the hands of the French—Santa Maura and Corfu. But Santa Maura, after a sharp contest, was carried, in the following April, by General Oswald, most brilliantly supported by Lieutenant-Colonel Hudson Lowe, Major Church, and other officers. General Camus, the French commandant, surrendered with his garrison of one thousand men. There remained only Corfu, but this, the most important island of the group, would have required a much stronger force to reduce it; and as it was completely useless to the French, being cut off from all communication with France by our ships, it remained under France till 1814, when, at the Congress of Paris, it was made over by Louis XVIII., and the whole seven islands were declared a republic, under the protection of Great Britain. Such was the origin of our connection with the Ionian Islands, where we maintained a Commissioner and a body of troops, much to the discontent of a party in the islands, who desired to join the kingdom of Greece.The most distinguished dramatic writers of the time were Sheridan Knowles, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Mr. Justice Talfourd, and Miss Mitford. Mr. Knowles's first drama, Caius Gracchus, appeared in 1815, and was followed by more successful efforts, namely, The Wife, a Tale of Mantua, The Hunchback, Virginius, The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, William Tell, The Love Chase, Old Maids, and The Daughter. Ultimately, however, he became disgusted with the stage from religious scruples, and taking a fancy to polemics, he published two attacks upon Romanism, entitled, "The Rock of Rome" and "The Idol demolished by its own Priest." He ended his career as a preacher in connection with the Baptist denomination, and died in 1862, having enjoyed a literary pension of £200 a year since 1849.There was a radical difference in spirit between the Viceroy and the Premier. The former sympathised warmly with the Roman Catholics in their struggles for civil equality, feeling deeply the justice of their cause. The Duke, on the other hand, yielded only to necessity, and thought of concession not as a matter of principle, but of expediency; he yielded, not because it was right[291] to do so, but because it was preferable to having a civil war. The feeling of Mr. Peel was somewhat similar; it was with him, also, a choice of evils, and he chose the least.

But the fleet at Sheerness, which sympathised with that at Portsmouth, did not think fit to accept the terms which had satisfied the seamen of Portsmouth. They were incited by a sailor, named Richard Parker, to stand for fresh demands, which were not likely to meet with the sympathy of either sailors or landsmen, being of a political character and including a revision of the Articles of War. On the 20th of May, the ships at the Nore, and others belonging to the North Sea fleet, appointed delegates, and sent in their demands, in imitation of the Portsmouth men. The Admiralty flatly rejected their petition. On the 23rd of May the mutineers hoisted the red flag; and all the ships of war lying near Sheerness dropped down to the Nore. On the 29th, a committee from the Board of Admiralty went down to Sheerness, to try to bring them to reason, but failed. The mutineers then drew their ships in a line across the Thames, cutting off all traffic between the sea and London. On this, the Government proceeded to pull up the buoys at the mouth of the river, to erect batteries along the shores for firing red-hot balls; and a proclamation was issued declaring the fleet in a state of rebellion, and prohibiting all intercourse with it. This soon brought some of the mutineers to their senses. They knew that every class of people was against them. On the 4th of June, the king's birthday, a royal salute was fired from the whole fleet, as a token of loyalty; the red flag was pulled down on every ship but the Sandwich, on board of which was Parker, and all the gay flags usual on such occasions were displayed. Several of the ships now began to drop away from the rest, and put themselves under protection of the guns of Sheerness. On the 13th of June the crew of the Sandwich followed this example, and delivered up the great agitator, Richard Parker, who was tried, and hanged at the yard-arm of that ship on the 30th. Some others of the delegates were executed, and others imprisoned in the hulks; and thus terminated this mutiny, as disgraceful to the sailors as that at Portsmouth was reasonable and honourable.

[See larger version]Some of the writers of the last period were still existing in this. Dryden was living, and wrote some of his most perfect works, as his "Fables," and his "Alexander's Feast," as well as translated Virgil after the Revolution. He was still hampered by his miserable but far more successful dramatic rivals, Shadwell and Elkanah Settle. Nathaniel Lee produced in William's time his tragedies, "The Princess of Cleves," and his "Massacre of Paris." Etherege was yet alive; Wycherley still poured out his licentious poems; and Southern wrote the greater part of his plays. His "Oronooko" and his "Fatal Marriage" were produced now, and he received such prices as astonished Dryden. Whilst "Glorious John" never obtained more than a hundred pounds for a play, Southern obtained his six or seven hundred.



Such was the state of affairs at home and abroad during the recess of 1829. The Government hoped that by the mollifying influence of time the rancour of the Tory party would be mitigated, and that by the proposal of useful measures the Whig leaders would be induced to give them their support, without being admitted to a partnership in power and the emoluments of office. But in both respects they miscalculated. The Duke met Parliament again on the 4th of February, 1830. It was obvious from the first that neither was Tory rancour appeased nor Whig support effectually secured. The Speech from the Throne, which was delivered by commission, was unusually curt and vague. It admitted the prevalence of general distress. It was true that the exports in the last year of British produce and manufacture exceeded those of any former year; but, notwithstanding this indication of an active commerce, both the agricultural and the manufacturing classes were suffering severely in "some parts" of the United Kingdom. There was no question about the existence of distress; the only difference was as to whether it was general or only partial. In the House of Lords the Government was attacked by Earl Stanhope, who moved an amendment to the Address. He asked in what part of the country was it that the Ministers did not find distress prevailing? He contended that the kingdom was in a state of universal distress, likely to be unequalled in its duration. All the great interests—agriculture, manufactures, trade, and commerce—had never at one time, he said, been at so low an ebb. The Speech ascribed the distress to a bad harvest. But could a bad harvest make corn cheap? It was the excessive reduction of prices which was felt to be the great evil. If they cast their eyes around they would see the counties pouring on them spontaneously every kind of solicitation for relief; while in towns, stocks of every kind had sunk in value forty per cent. The depression, he contended, had been continuous and universal ever since the Bank Restriction Act passed, and especially since the suppression of small notes took effect in the beginning of the previous year. Such a universal and continued depression could be ascribed only to some cause pressing alike upon all branches of industry, and that cause was to be found in the enormous contraction of the currency, the Bank of England notes in circulation having been reduced from thirty to twenty millions, and the country bankers' notes in still greater proportion. The Duke of Wellington, in reply, denied that the Bank circulation was less than it had been during the war. In the former period it was sixty-four millions, including gold and silver as well as paper. In 1830 it was sixty-five millions. It was an unlimited circulation, he said, that the Opposition required; in other words, it was wished to give certain individuals, not the Crown, the power of coining in the shape of paper, and of producing a fictitious capital. Capital was always forthcoming[308] when it was wanted. He referred to the high rents paid for shops in towns, which were everywhere enlarged or improved, to "the elegant streets and villas which were springing up around the metropolis, and all our great towns, to show that the country was not falling, but improving." After the Duke had replied, the supporters of the amendment could not muster, on a division, a larger minority than nine. In the House of Commons the discussion was more spirited, and the division more ominous of the fate of the Ministry. The majority for Ministers was only fifty-three, the numbers being 158 to 105. In the minority were found ultra-Tories, such as Sir Edward Knatchbull, who had proposed an amendment lamenting the general distress, Mr. Bankes, Mr. Sadler, and General Gascoigne, who went into the same lobby with Sir Francis Burdett, Lord John Russell, Mr. Brougham, Mr. Hume, and Lord Althorp, representing the Whigs and Radicals; while Lord Palmerston, Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Charles Grant, and Sir Stratford Canning represented the Canning party. No such jumble of factions had been known in any division for many years.

At length the firing mutually ceased, but the Russians did not quit their position; it was the French who drew off, and their outposts, during the following night, were alarmed by the Russian cavalry. The Russians had fifteen thousand killed and thirty thousand wounded; the French ten thousand killed and above twenty thousand wounded, and of these latter very few recovered, for they were destitute of almost every hospital necessary, even lint. The Russians made one thousand prisoners and the French about two thousand. The loss of guns on either side was nearly equal. Had the battle been resumed the next day it must have gone hard with the French; but Kutusoff was not willing to make such another sacrifice of his men, and he resumed the policy of De Tolly and made his retreat, continuing it to Moscow in so masterly a manner, that he left neither dead, nor dying, nor wounded, nor any article of his camp equipage behind him, so that the French were at a loss to know where he had really gone. On the 12th they learned, however, that he had retreated to Moscow, and Buonaparte instantly resumed his march. At Krymskoi Murat and Mortier came upon a strong body of Russians, and were repulsed, with the loss of two thousand men. The Russian rear-guard then hastened on again towards Moscow.



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