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This spirited and brilliant action had a wonderful effect on the American mind. It revived the courage of the troops, which had sunk very low after so many defeats. It inspired them and the public at large with confidence in the talents and daring of their Commander-in-Chief, who was now eulogised as another Fabius. Such was the confidence inspired, even in himself, by this success, that, being immediately joined by three thousand six hundred Pennsylvanian militia, he determined to cross the Delaware, as it was now strongly frozen over. But General Grant had already joined General Leslie at Princeton, with a strong body of British and Hessian troops; and General Howe, on hearing of the fresh spirit of the American army, had detained Lord Cornwallis, who was about to leave for England. He hastened to Princeton, and took the command of the whole force, concentrating all the troops on the Delaware shore. On the 2nd of January, 1777, he marched from Princeton for Trenton, drove in the enemy's outposts, and reached Trenton by five o'clock the same afternoon. Washington retired as he approached. The British, on arriving at the fort and bridge of the Assumpinck, found both guarded by artillery, and Washington posted on[236] some high ground beyond. Cornwallis cannonaded the bridge and forts, and his fire was briskly returned. He then encamped for the night there, intending to force the creek the next morning; but Washington did not wait for him. With his raw militia only a few days in camp, he had no chance of resisting Cornwallis's army, and yet—a thaw having taken place—it was impossible to cross the Delaware. He called a council of war, and it was concluded that, from the great force of Cornwallis in front, the rear could not be very strong. It was therefore determined to make an attempt to gain the rear, beat up the enemy's quarters at Princeton, now, as they supposed, nearly deserted, and, if they could succeed, fall on the British stores and baggage at New Brunswick. Their own baggage was, accordingly, sent quickly down the river to Burlington, the camp-fires were replenished, and small parties being left to deceive the enemy by throwing up entrenchments, Washington, about midnight, silently decamped by a circuitous route towards Princeton. At dawn they encountered two out of three English regiments, which had been at Princeton, on the march. These were the 17th and 55th, hastening to join Cornwallis at Trenton. They imagined the Americans, owing to a thick fog, to be a body of Hessians; but, on discovering the mistake, a sharp fight took place, and for some time the two British regiments withstood Washington's whole force. Colonel Mawhood, the English commander, posted his force advantageously on a rising ground between the Americans and Princeton, sent back his baggage waggons, and dispatched messengers to bring up the 40th regiment, still in Princeton, with all speed. The 40th not arriving, Washington managed to force his way between the two British regiments. The 17th continued its march for Trenton; the 55th fell back upon Princeton, where the 40th, which had defended itself in the college, after losing a considerable number of prisoners, joined the 55th, and retreated upon New Brunswick.

The large majorities in the House of Lords were to be ascribed chiefly to the unparalleled influence of the Duke of Wellington. But the public at the time were little aware of the difficulties that great man had to deal with in overcoming the opposition of the king, who was much under the influence of the Duke of Cumberland. When the storm of Conservative violence reached its height, after the rejection of Peel in Oxford, and his return, not without a struggle, for Westbury; and when, on the 3rd of March, he gave notice that he would draw the attention of the House to the clause of the Royal Speech referring to Ireland, the king, greatly excited and alarmed, sent the same evening to desire that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor should wait upon him next day. He had already seen the Chancellor once, and the Duke twice separately. The king received his three Ministers, when they presented themselves at the palace, kindly but gravely; he looked anxious and embarrassed while he requested them to make him acquainted with the details of their Bill. It was explained to him that it would relieve Roman Catholics from the necessity of making a declaration against the doctrine of transubstantiation; whilst it so far modified in their case the oath of supremacy, as to omit all notice of the king's authority in things spiritual. "What!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to alter the ancient law of supremacy?" It was to no purpose he was shown that the alteration applied only to Roman Catholics, who would be dispensed from swearing what they could not believe; but he appealed to his own coronation oath, in reference to which he could not recognise the dispensing power of his Ministers. The king was condescending in the extreme. He seemed deeply grieved at the dilemma to which they had been brought. He acknowledged that possibly he had gone too far on former occasions, though he had acted entirely through misapprehension. But now he trusted that they would see, with him, that it had become a point of conscience, and that there was no alternative left him except to withdraw his assent. In the most respectful manner they acquiesced in his Majesty's determination, allowing, without a murmur, that he had a perfect right to act as he proposed. But when he went on further to ask what they intended to do, the Duke's answer was explicit: they must retire from his Majesty's service, and explain to Parliament that unexpected obstacles had arisen to the accomplishment of the policy which they were engaged to pursue. To this Mr. Peel added, that as the Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association had been carried on the understanding that other and more comprehensive measures would follow, it would be necessary to make Parliament generally aware of the causes which operated to prevent the bringing forward of those measures. The king heard all this to an end, without attempting to interrupt, or argue with, his Ministers. He admitted, on the contrary, that it was impossible for them to take any other course, and then bade them farewell, kissing each of them on both cheeks. They set off from Windsor immediately, and arrived at Lord Bathurst's, where their colleagues were waiting dinner for them. They made a full report of all that had occurred, and announced that the Government was at an end. The party broke up, believing themselves to be out of office; but early next morning, before any decisive steps had been taken, a special messenger arrived at Apsley House with a letter from the king. It was guardedly expressed, for it went no further than to state that his Majesty had found greater difficulties than he expected in forming a new Cabinet, and was therefore desirous that the present Ministry should go on. The moment was critical, and the position of the Government delicate and in some sense insecure. No doubt, his Majesty's letter might be read as[299] implying an abandonment of the objections which he had taken to the policy of his Ministers overnight, but it was certainly capable of a different interpretation. It appeared, therefore, to the Duke, that before proceeding further it would be necessary to come to a clear understanding with the king as to his Majesty's real intentions, and Mr. Peel concurring in this opinion, the Duke was requested to write to the king on the subject. He did so, with all the candour and loyalty which were natural to him; and the result was an unequivocal declaration from the Sovereign that he would accept the measures of his Ministers as his own.Ministers were in haste to close and dissolve Parliament in order to call a new one before the very probable demise of the king—for though they had provided that in case of the decease of the queen the Parliament should not reassemble, this did not apply to the decease of the king; and should this take place before the day fixed for the assembling of the new Parliament, the old Parliament—even though formally dissolved—would reassemble: therefore, on the 10th of June—the very day after the passing of the supplementary Alien Bill—the Prince Regent came down to the House of Lords, prorogued Parliament, and then immediately the Lord Chancellor pronounced it dissolved. The members of the Commons were taken by surprise. No such sudden dismissal had taken place since 1625, when Charles I. dismissed his Oxford Parliament after a single week's session. On the return to their own House the Speaker was proceeding, as usual, to read the Royal Speech, but he was reminded by Mr. Tierney that there was no Parliament in existence, and by Lord Castlereagh that, by so doing, he might render himself liable to a Pr?munire, and he therefore desisted and the members withdrew.[See larger version]

Monster meetings, not unaccompanied by disturbance, were held in various places, the most serious of which occurred at Birmingham. The inhabitants of this town had been kept in a state of almost incessant alarm by the proceedings of disorderly persons calling themselves Chartists. Representations to this effect having been sent to the Home Office, sixty picked men of the metropolitan force were sent down to aid the civil authorities in the preservation of peace. They arrived at Birmingham by the railway on Thursday, July 4th, and speedily mustering, they marched two abreast into the Bull Ring, where about 2,000 Chartists were assembled, at nine o'clock in the evening. They endeavoured, at first, to induce the meeting quietly to disperse, but failed in the attempt. They then seized the flags with which Lord Nelson's monument in the centre of the square was decorated, and among which was one that bore a death's head; but the Chartists, who had at first been disconcerted, recaptured them, after a desperate struggle, and broke their staves into pieces, to be used as clubs. A conflict immediately ensued, in which the police, who were armed only with batons, were seriously injured; and the Chartists were retiring in triumph when the 4th Dragoons charged them, by concert, through all the streets leading to the Bull Ring, and they fled in every direction. Further riots ensued, and on the 15th an organised mob attacked the houses in the High Street and Spiral Street. They broke into the warehouses, flinging their contents into the streets. A large pile of bedding was set on fire in the Bull Ring. Windows and shop-fittings were remorselessly demolished by the infuriated multitude. A few minutes past nine o'clock the cry of "Fire!" was raised. Scarcely had the words been uttered when the rioters carried immense heaps of burning materials from the streets, forcing them into the houses of Mr. Bourne and Mr. Legatt. Within a quarter of an hour the flames burst out with awful violence from both houses, amidst the exulting shouts of the rioters. While this work of destruction was going on they had the streets to themselves. The general cry among the inhabitants was, "Where are the military? Where are the magistrates?" At length, about ten o'clock, sixty of the metropolitan[457] police, with a posse of special constables, made their appearance, and rushed upon the rioters sword in hand, causing them to fly in all directions. The dragoons, under the command of Colonel Chatterton, were now discerned galloping down Moore Street, and another squadron at the same moment down High Street, and in five minutes about 300 of the Rifle Brigade marched to the Bull Ring. The inhabitants, feeling like people sore pressed by a long siege, clapped their hands with joy at the approach of their deliverers. The fire engines also came under escort, having been driven away before, and set about arresting the conflagration. In the meantime the cavalry were scouring and clearing the streets and suburbs, and the police were busily engaged bringing in prisoners. About midnight the roofs of the two houses fell in, and about one o'clock the fire was got under. Next day the shops were nearly all closed, the middle classes full of suspicion, and the populace vowing vengeance against the police and the soldiers. A piece of artillery placed at the head of High Street contributed materially to prevent further disturbance. About twenty prisoners were made, and the evidence produced before the magistrates showed the determined purpose of the rioters. When these outrages were the subject of discussion in the House of Lords, the Duke of Wellington said, "That he had seen as much of war as most men; but he had never seen a town carried by assault subjected to such violence as Birmingham had been during an hour by its own inhabitants."

Accordingly, the Duke found himself alone in his opposition to the plan of an armed intervention in Spain. It was at first proposed that all the Allies should unite in this; but it was ultimately agreed that a procès verbal should be jointly adopted, in which the King of Spain and his family should be declared to be under the protection of Europe, and Spain threatened with a terrible vengeance if any injury were done to them. This procès verbal was addressed to the head of the Spanish Government, with an explanation of the reasons for its adoption. The Duke was disappointed and mortified at the obstinate self-will of the crowned despots. He had gone to Verona in the hope that they would at all events be open to arguments in favour of peace; he found them bent on such a course as would render its preservation impossible. When the Ministers reduced their ideas to a definite shape, the incidents which they agreed to accept as leading necessarily to war appeared to him fallacious in the extreme. They were these:—First, an armed attack by Spain upon France[235]. Second, any personal outrage offered to Ferdinand VII., or to any member of the Spanish royal family. Third, an act of the Spanish legislature dethroning the king, or interfering in any way with the right of succession. Austria, Prussia, and Russia accepted the conditions readily, adhering, at the same time, to the substance of the notes which they had previously put in.CHAPTER XVI. THE REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).

Sir Robert Peel did all in his power to form out of the materials at his disposal a Ministry that should command the confidence of the country. On the 16th he issued an address to his constituents at Tamworth, in which he announced the policy that should guide the new Government. He declared his intention to correct all proved abuses and real grievances; to preserve peace at home and abroad; to resist the secularisation of Church property in any part of the United Kingdom; to fulfil existing engagements with Foreign Powers; to observe a strict economy in the public expenditure; and promised an impartial consideration of what was due to all interests, agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial. He said:—"With regard to the Reform Bill itself, I accept it as a final and irrevocable settlement of a great[379] constitutional question; a settlement which no friend to the peace and welfare of the country would attempt to disturb either by direct or insidious means. I will carry out its intentions, supposing those to imply a careful review of old institutions, undertaken in a friendly spirit, and with a purpose of improvement."I hated—I despised—and I destroy!"

The duties on bricks and tiles were opposed, as affecting brick-makers rather than the public, because stones and slates were not included. These duties were, however, carried, and the Bill passed; but great discontent arising regarding the duties on coals and on licences to deal in excisable commodities, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was obliged to produce a supplementary Budget, and, after withdrawing these, to lay others on the sale of ale, gold and silver plate, the exportation of lead, and postage of letters, at the same time limiting the privilege of franking. It was high time that the latter practice were put under regulation, for the privilege was enormously abused. Till this time, a simple signature of a member of Parliament, without name of the post town whence it was sent, or date, freed a letter all over the kingdom. Many persons had whole quires of these signatures, and letters were also addressed to numbers of places where they did not reside, so that, by an arrangement easily understood, the persons they were really meant for received them post-free. The loss to Government by this dishonest system was calculated at one hundred and seventy thousand pounds a year. By the present plan, no member was to permit any letter to be addressed to him except at the place where he actually was; and he was required, in writing a frank, to give the name of the post town where he wrote it, with the dates of day and year, and to himself write the whole address.Ministers were soon compelled to pursue the policy which Pitt had so successfully inaugurated. With all the determination of Lord Bute and his colleagues to make a speedy peace, they found it impossible. The Family Compact between France and Spain was already signed; and in various quarters of the world Pitt's plans were so far in progress that they must go on. In East and West, his plans for the conquest of Havana, of the Philippine Isles, and for other objects, were not to be abruptly abandoned; and Ministers were compelled to carry out his objects, in many particulars, in spite of themselves. And now the unpleasant truth was forced on the attention of Ministers, that the war which Pitt declared to be inevitable was so, and that he had recommended the only wise measure. The country was now destined to pay the penalty of their folly and stupidity in rejecting Pitt's proposal to declare war against Spain at once, and strip her of the means of offence, her treasure ships. Lord Bristol, our ambassador at Madrid, announced to Lord Bute, in a despatch of the 2nd of November, that these ships had arrived, and that all the wealth which Spain expected from her American colonies for the next year was safe at home. And he had to add that with this, Wall, the Minister, had thrown off the mask, and had assumed the most haughty and insolent language towards Great Britain. This was a confession on the part of Lord Bristol that he had suffered Wall to throw dust in his eyes till his object was accomplished, and it made patent the fact that Pitt had been too sagacious to be deceived; but that the new Ministers, whilst insulting Pitt and forcing him to resign, had been themselves completely duped. Spain now, in the most peremptory terms, demanded redress for all her grievances; and, before the year had closed, the Bute Cabinet was compelled to recall Lord Bristol from Madrid, and to order Fuentes, the Spanish ambassador in London, to quit the kingdom. On the 4th of January, 1762, declaration of war was issued against Spain. Neither king nor Ministers, seeing the wisdom of Pitt's policy and the folly of their own, were prevented from committing another such absurdity. They abandoned Frederick of Prussia at his greatest need. They refused to vote his usual subsidy. By this execrable proceeding—for we not only abandoned Frederick, but made overtures to Austria, with which he was engaged in a mortal struggle—we thus threw him into the arms and close alliance of Russia, and were, by this, the indirect means of that guilty confederation by which Poland was afterwards rent in pieces by these powers. On the 5th of January, 1762, died the Czarina Elizabeth. She was succeeded by her nephew, the Duke of Holstein, under the title of Peter III. Peter was an enthusiastic admirer of the Prussian king; he was extravagant and incessant in his praises of him. He accepted the commission of a colonel in the Prussian service, wore its uniform, and was bent on clothing his own troops in it. It was clear that he was not quite sane, for he immediately recalled the Russian army which was acting against Frederick, hastened to make peace with him, and offered to restore all that had been won from him in the war, even to Prussia proper, which the Russians had possession of. His example was eagerly seized upon by Sweden, which was tired of the war. Both Russia and Sweden signed treaties of peace with Frederick in May, and Peter went farther: he dispatched an army into Silesia, where it had so lately been fighting against him, to fight against Austria. Elated by this extraordinary turn of affairs, the Prussian ambassador renewed his applications for money, urging that, now Russia had joined Frederick, it would be easy to subdue Austria and terminate the war. This was an opportunity for Bute to retrace with credit his steps; but he argued, on the contrary, that, having the aid of Russia, Frederick did not want that of England; and he[173] is even accused of endeavouring to persuade Russia to continue its hostilities against Prussia; and thus he totally alienated a power which might have hereafter rendered us essential service, without gaining a single point. The Duke of Newcastle, man of mediocre merit as he was, saw farther than Bute into the disgraceful nature of thus abandoning a powerful ally at an extremity, as well as the impolicy of converting such a man into a mortal enemy; and, finding all remonstrances vain, resigned. Bute was glad to be rid of him; and Newcastle, finding both his remonstrance and resignation taken very coolly, had the meanness to seek to regain a situation in the Cabinet, but without effect, and threw himself into the Opposition.[See larger version]

T. Lingray, £1,500, and a commissionership of stamps.[414]

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The Crown had resolved to proceed against the queen by a Bill of Pains and Penalties, the introduction of which was preceded by the appointment of a secret committee, to perform functions somewhat analogous to those of a grand jury in finding bills against accused parties. Mr. Brougham earnestly protested against the appointment of a secret committee, which was opposed by Lords Lansdowne and Holland. The course was explained and defended by the Lord Chancellor, who said that the object of Ministers in proposing a secret committee was to prevent injustice towards the accused; that committee would not be permitted to pronounce a decision; it would merely find, like a grand jury, that matter of accusation did or did not exist; such matter, even if found to have existence, could not be the subject of judicial proceeding, strictly so called. The offence of a queen consort, or a Princess Consort of Wales, committing adultery with a person owing allegiance to the British Crown would be that of a principal in high treason, because by statute it was high treason in him; and as accessories in high treason are principals, she would thus be guilty of high treason as a principal; but as the act of a person owing no allegiance to the British Crown could not be high treason in him, so neither could a princess be guilty of that crime merely by being an accessory to such a person's act. Yet although, for this reason, there could be no judicial proceeding in such a case, there might be a legislative one; and the existence or non-existence of grounds for such legislative proceeding was a matter into which it would be fit that a secret committee should inquire. In no case could injustice be done, because that committee's decision would not be final. There might be differences of opinion about the best mode of proceeding, but, for God's sake, said the Lord Chancellor, let it be understood that they all had the same object in view, and that their difference was only about the best mode of procedure.Leipsic is nearly surrounded by rivers and marshy lands, and only, therefore, accessible by a number of bridges. The Pleisse and the Elster on the west, in various divisions, stretch under its walls; on the east winds far round the Parthe; on the south only rise some higher lands. On the 16th of October, at break of day, the Austrians attacked the southern or more accessible side with great fury, headed by Generals Kleist and Mehrfeldt, and were opposed by Poniatowski and Victor. Buonaparte was soon obliged to send up Souham to support these generals. Lauriston also was attacked by Klenau at the village of Liebertvolkwitz. After much hard fighting, Buonaparte ordered up Macdonald, who broke through the Austrian line at the village of Gossa, followed by Murat; Latour-Maubourg and Kellermann galloped through with all their cavalry. Napoleon considered this as decisive, and sent word to the King of Saxony that the battle was won, and that poor dupe and unpatriotic king set the church bells ringing for joy. But a desperate charge of Cossacks reversed all this, and drove back the French to the very walls of the town. In the meantime, Blucher had attacked and driven in Marmont, taking the village of Machern with twenty pieces of cannon and two[71] thousand prisoners. On the side of the Pleisse Schwarzenberg pushed across a body of horse, under General Mehrfeldt, who fell into the hands of the French; but another division, under General Giulay, secured the left bank of the Pleisse and its bridges, and had he blown them up, would have cut off the only avenue of retreat for the French towards the Rhine. Night fell on the fierce contest, in which two hundred and thirty thousand Allies were hemming in one hundred and thirty-six thousand French; for the Allies this time had adopted Buonaparte's great rule of conquering by united numbers.

On the 15th of April a message was sent down to both Houses from the king, in conformity with his pledge to the new Ministry, with regard to Mr. Burke's plan of economical reform, which it proposed should be a measure of effectual retrenchment, and to include his Majesty's own Civil List. Lord Shelburne, in communicating it to the Lords, assured the House that this was no mere ministerial message, but was the genuine language of the king himself, proceeding from the heart. Burke, in the Commons, used more exuberant terms of eulogy, declaring that "it was the best of messages to the best of people from the best of kings!" Early in May he moved for leave to bring in his Bill on the subject, and then most of the promised wonders of reform and retrenchment vanished. The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster and the principality of Wales were at once cut out of his scheme of reform. The plan of supplying the Royal Household by contract was abandoned; the Ordnance Office, in the hands of the Duke of Richmond, was not to be touched, nor the Treasurer of the Household's office; and some[291] other of the royal establishments, which were mere sinecures, were left. But he succeeded in lopping off the third Secretaryship of State, which had been created for the American colonies, and was useless now they were gone; the Lords of Trade and Plantations; the Lords of Police in Scotland; the principal officers of the Great Wardrobe, Jewel Office, Treasurer of the Chamber, Cofferer of the Household, six Clerks of the Board of Green Cloth—in all, about a dozen offices were swept away. The Pension List was vigorously revised. No pension was to exceed three hundred pounds a year, and not more than six hundred pounds was to be granted in pensions in any one year; the names of the persons to whom they were granted were to be laid before Parliament within twenty days after the beginning of each session, until the amount in the Pension List should reach ninety thousand pounds. The Secret Service money was, at the same time, limited; and a solemn oath was to be administered to the Secretaries of State regarding its proper employment. It may be imagined what were the consternation and the disgust of the large class which had been revelling on these misappropriated funds of the nation. Burke, in a letter, describes feelingly the gauntlet he had to run in proceeding with his reform. "I was loaded," he says, "with hatred for everything withheld, and with obloquy for everything given." What, however, brought unjust odium on him, but just reproach on the Cabinet, was, that Lord Rockingham made haste, before the Bill was passed, to grant enormous pensions to his supporters and colleagues, Lord Ashburton and Colonel Barré. The latter ardent patriot, who, whilst Burke's Bill was in consideration, said it did not go far enough in reform, now willingly pocketed three thousand two hundred pounds a year, as a pension, besides the salary of his office. In the House of Lords, Thurlow again attacked the Bill, supported by Lords Mansfield and Loughborough; but it passed, and Burke immediately gave an illustrious proof of his disinterestedness, by bringing in a Bill for regulating and reducing the enormous emoluments of his own office, the Paymastership of the Forces.

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