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High duties were not the only evils that had been strangling the silk trade. Its chief seat was at Spitalfields, where by the Act of 1811 and other legislation the magistrates had been empowered to fix the rate of wages, and to subject to severe penalties any masters who employed weavers in other districts. The result, said a manufacturers' petition in 1823, is, "that the removal of the entire manufacture from the metropolis is inevitable, if the Acts are to continue any longer in force." However, the journeymen declared that a repeal of the Acts would be followed by the reduction of their wages and the increase of the poor rates. No less than 11,000 petitioned against Huskisson's motion for a repeal, and,[242] though the Bill passed the House of Commons by small majorities, it was so altered by amendments in the Lords that it was abandoned for the Session. But in this remarkable Session of 1824 it was reintroduced and passed through all its stages. As a result the Combination Acts directed against meetings of workmen to affect wages, the Acts which prevented the emigration of artisans, and the laws against the exportation of machinery were brought under discussion by Joseph Hume. The last question was waived for the present, but the laws interfering with the emigration of artisans were repealed without a voice being raised in their favour. As for the Combination Acts, it was ordained that no peaceable meeting of masters or workmen should be prosecuted as a conspiracy, while summary punishments were enacted on those "who by threats, intimidation, or acts of violence interfered with that freedom, which ought to be allowed to each party, of employing his labour or capital in a manner he may deem most advantageous." In consequence, however, of the outrages which occurred during the Glasgow strikes of 1824, during which a workman who disregarded the wishes of his union was shot, and men of one trade were employed to assassinate the masters of another, further legislation was necessary. By the Act of 1825 all associations were made illegal, excepting those for settling such amount of wages as would be a fair remuneration to the workman. Any other combination either of men against masters or of masters against men, or of working men against working men, was made illegal. The law thus framed continued to regulate the relations of capital and labour for nearly half a century.Mr. Morgan O'Connell soon found that he had no sinecure in undertaking to give satisfaction with the pistol for all his father's violations of the code of honour. Shortly after, Mr. Daniel O'Connell referred, in strong language, to an attack made upon him by Mr. Disraeli at Taunton:—"In the annals of political turpitude, there is not anything deserving the appellation of black-guardism to equal that attack upon me.... He possesses just the qualities of the impenitent thief who died upon the Cross; whose name, I verily believe, must have been Disraeli. For aught I know, the present Disraeli is descended from him; and with the impression that he is, I now forgive the heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the Cross." When Mr. Disraeli read this tremendous philippic, he wrote to Mr. Morgan O'Connell for satisfaction, which the latter denied his right to demand. He had not seen the attack, nor was he answerable for his father's words, though he had taken up his quarrel with Lord Alvanley. Not being able to get satisfaction by means of pistols, he had recourse to the pen; and, certainly, if O'Connell's attack was violent, the retaliation was not of the meekest. However, ink alone was spilt.The action of private benevolence was on a scale proportioned to the vast exertions of the Government. It is quite impossible to estimate the amount of money contributed by the public for the relief of Irish distress. We know what sums were received by associations and committees; but great numbers sent their money directly, in answer to appeals from clergymen and others, to meet demands for relief in their respective localities. In this way we may easily suppose that abuses were committed, and that much of the money received was misappropriated, although the greater portion of it was honestly dispensed. Among the organisations established for raising contributions, the greatest was the British Relief Association, which had for its chairman and vice-chairman two of our merchant princes—Mr. Jones Loyd, afterwards Lord Overstone, and Mr. Thomas Baring. The amount of subscriptions collected by this association, "for the relief of extreme distress in Ireland and Scotland," was £269,302. The Queen's letters were issued for collections in the churches throughout England and Wales, and these produced £200,738, which was also entrusted to the British Relief Association. These sums made together no less than £470,040, which was dispensed in relief by one central committee. One-sixth of the amount was apportioned to the Highlands of Scotland, where there was extensive destitution, and the rest to Ireland. In fact, the amount applied to these objects by the association exceeded half a million sterling, for upwards of £130,000 had been obtained by the sale of provisions and seed corn in Ireland, and by interest accruing on the money contributed. In administering the funds placed at their disposal, the committee acted concurrently with the Government and the Poor Law authorities. It wisely determined at the outset that all grants should be in food, and not in money; and that no grant should be placed at the disposal of any individual for private distribution. The committee concluded their report to the subscribers by declaring that although evils of greater or less degree must attend every system of gratuitous relief, they were confident that any evils that might have accompanied the application of the funds would have been far more than counterbalanced by the benefits that had been conferred upon their starving fellow-countrymen, and that if ill-desert had sometimes participated in their bounty, a vast amount of human misery and suffering had been relieved.

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Whilst these affairs had been taking place in England, the Emperor had been finding himself less and less able to contend against France and Spain. He had in vain exerted himself to engage the Dutch and English in his quarrel. He called upon them as bound by the faith of treaties; he represented the balance of power for which both Holland and England had made such sacrifices, as more in danger than ever; but none of these pleas moving Walpole or the Dutch, he threatened to withdraw his troops from the Netherlands, and make over that country to France. The threat of the Emperor did not move Walpole; he knew too well that it was but a threat. The Emperor, therefore, was now compelled to come to terms. A treaty was to be entered into under the mediation of the maritime Powers. As Fleury and Walpole, too, were bent on peace, they submitted to all the delays and punctilios of the diplomatists, and finally were rewarded by a peace being concluded between the different parties on these terms:—Don Carlos was to retain Naples and Sicily, but he was to resign the possession of Parma and the reversion of Tuscany; of the claimants to the Polish Crown, Augustus was to remain King of Poland, and Stanislaus was to receive, as an equivalent, the Duchy of Lorraine, which, after his decease, was to devolve to the Crown of France. This was an aim which France had had in view for ages, but which neither the genius of Richelieu nor of Mazarin could[66] accomplish. It was rendered comparatively easy now, as the young Duke of Lorraine was about to marry the Empress's only child, the Princess Maria Theresa, and thus to succeed through her to the Empire. Yet the Duke ceded his patrimonial territory with extreme regret, and not till he had received in return the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and a pension from France. The regnant Grand Duke of Tuscany, the last of the Medicis, was on the verge of death, and his decease took place in less than two years, when the Duke of Lorraine was put in possession. France and Sardinia gave their guarantee to the Pragmatic Sanction, and Sardinia obtained, in consequence, Novara, Tortona, and some adjoining districts. England appears to have looked on with strange apathy at this aggrandisement of France by the acquisition of Lorraine, but it was impossible to prevent it, except by a great war, and Walpole was not disposed for even a little one. This treaty is known as the Definitive Peace of Vienna (Nov. 8, 1738).[See larger version]At the period at which we have now arrived France was in a state of the wildest and most awful convulsion. A revolution had broken out, more terrible and furious than had ever yet appeared in the history of nations. The French people, so long trodden down by their princes, their aristocracy, and their clergy, and reduced to a condition of wretchedness and of ignorant brutality, almost unparalleled, seizing the opportunity of the distresses of the impoverished Government, and encouraged by a new race of philosophers who preached up the equality of the human race, had broken through their ancient subserviency, and were pulling down all the old constituted powers, ranks, and distinctions, with a rapidity which electrified the whole world.

On the 4th of May, 1789, Versailles was crowded by immense masses of people from Paris and the country round, to see the grand procession of the deputies of the three Orders advancing from the church of Notre Dame to that of St. Louis. The whole of the costumes, the order of march, and the spectacle had been carefully studied by the Court, so as to impress deeply the distinctions of the three Orders, and to humiliate the Tiers état. The evening before, the deputies had waited on the king, and even then he had greatly incensed those of the Tiers état who came most favourably disposed to him. Even whilst he[359] hoped to obtain essential advantages from the people against the presumption of the privileged orders, Louis or his advisers could not refrain from humiliating the Third Estate. Instead of receiving the deputies in one body, they had been carefully separated; the clergy were received first, the nobles next, and then, not till after a considerable pause, the Tiers état. Now, on the great morning, all Paris and the vicinity—thousands from distant towns—was astir. The streets of Versailles were lined with French and Swiss guards and made gay with garlands of flowers, and from the windows hung rich tapestries. The balconies and windows were crowded with spectators of all ages and both sexes—the handsomest ladies gorgeously attired. The deputies, instead of one thousand, amounted to one thousand two hundred. First marched the members of the Tiers état, six hundred in number, all clad in plain black mantles, white cravats, and slouched hats. Next went the nobles in black coats, but the other garments of cloth of gold, silk cloak, lace cravat, plumed hat turned up à la Henry IV.; then the clergy, in surplice, with mantle, and square cap; the bishops in their purple robes, with their rochets. Last came the Court, all ablaze with jewels and splendid robes; the king in good spirits, the queen anxious, and dimly conscious even then of the miseries that were to follow. Her eldest son, the Dauphin, was lying at the point of death in the palace, and her reputation was being daily murdered by atrocious calumnies. Yet still Marie Antoinette, the daughter of the great Maria Theresa, the once light-hearted, always kind and amiable woman, was the perfect queen in her stately beauty. Two things were remarked—the absence of Siéyès, and the presence of Mirabeau, two men who had already become popular leaders. Siéyès had not yet arrived; Mirabeau drew all eyes. His immense head of hair; his lion-like appearance, marked by an ugliness quite startling, almost terrifying; the spectators seemed fascinated by his look. He marched on visibly a man; the rest, compared with him, were mere shadows.[See larger version]

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Meanwhile the coronation had taken place. It was fixed for the 8th of September, and the necessary alterations were made in Westminster Abbey for the occasion. On the morning of the appointed day numerous labourers, in scarlet jackets and white trousers, were busy completing the arrangements. Forty private gentlemen acted as pages of the Earl Marshal, and devised a novelty in the way of costume, clothing themselves in blue frock coats, white breeches and stockings, a crimson silk sash, and a small, ill-shaped hat, with a black ostrich feather, each provided with a gilt staff. Their duty was to conduct persons provided with tickets to their proper places. Three-fourths of the members of the House of Commons were in military uniform, and a few in Highland costume. The equipages produced for the occasion were magnificent, the Lord Chancellor rivalling the Lord Mayor in this display; but neither of them came up to the Austrian ambassador in finery. The street procession commenced on Constitution Hill, and attracted thousands of spectators. Their Majesties' carriage was drawn by eight horses, four grooms being on each side, two footmen at each door, and a yeoman of the guard at each wheel. The crowds were in good humour with the spectacle, and manifested no disposition to dispense with royalty. The presence of the queen offered a contrast to the coronation of George IV. Of the regalia, the ivory rod with the dove was borne by Lord Campbell, the sceptre and the cross by Lord Jersey, and the crown by the Duke of Beaufort. The queen followed, supported by the Bishops of Winchester and Chichester, and attended by five gentleman pensioners on each side, the train borne by the Duchess of Gordon, assisted by six daughters of earls. There was no banquet, Government having the fear of the economists before their eyes, and the nation having too lively a recollection of the coronation folly of George IV.; but the king entertained a large party of the Royal Family and nobility, with the principal officers of his household.

During the winter of 1812 and the spring of[63] 1813 Buonaparte was making the most energetic exertions to renew the campaign against Russia and the German nations that were now uniting with the Czar. He called out new conscriptions, and enforced them with the utmost rigour; the militia were drafted extensively into the regular army, and the sailors, whose service had been annihilated by the victorious seamen of Great Britain, were modelled into regiments, and turned into soldiers. He sent for part of his forces from Spain; and in the spring he was enabled to present himself in Germany at the head of three hundred and fifty thousand men. But this was a very different army from that which he had led into and lost in Russia—an army of practised veterans, familiar with victory through a hundred fights. It was necessarily but ill-disciplined, and much more full of the sense of wrong in having been dragged from home and its ties than of any thirst of glory. The cavalry was especially defective, and had lost the commander who gave it such spirit by his own example. Disgusted by the insolence and sarcasms of Buonaparte, and believing that his career was about to end, Murat quitted his command on the 16th of January, 1813, and hastened to Naples, where he was not long in opening negotiations with Great Britain and the other Powers for the acknowledgment of his kingdom as one independent of France, and ranking with the other established Powers of Europe. Nor was this the only alarming circumstance. Bernadotte was at the head of an army of Swedes against him—Bernadotte whom he had driven by the same insolent and unbearable domination into the arms of his enemies, and whom he now denounced as a renegade Frenchman who had renounced his country. The truth, however, was that Bernadotte had been adopted by a new country, and was bound to defend it.[502]

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It was not till between eleven and twelve o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 18th of June, that this terrible conflict commenced; for the troops of Napoleon had not yet all reached the ground, having suffered from the tempests of wind and rain equally with the Allies. The rain had now ceased, but the morning was gloomy and lowering. The action opened by a brisk cannonade on the house and wood of Hougomont, which were held by the troops of Nassau. These were driven out;[99] but their place was immediately taken by the British Guards under General Byng and Colonels Home and Macdonald. A tremendous cannonade was kept up on Hougomont by Jerome's batteries from the slopes above; and under cover of this fire the French advanced through the wood in front of Hougomont, but were met by a terrible fire from the British, who had the orchard wall as a breastwork from which to assail the enemy. The contest here was continued through the day with dreadful fury, but the British held their ground with bull-dog tenacity. The buildings of the farmyard and an old chapel were set fire to by the French shells; but the British maintained their post amid the flames, and filled the wood in front and a lane running under the orchard wall with mountains of dead.But the condition of Canada was very tempting to the cupidity of Madison and his colleagues. We had very few troops there, and the defences had been neglected in the tremendous struggle going on in Europe. At this moment it appeared especially opportune for invading the Canadas from the States, as Britain was engaged not only in the arduous struggle in Spain, but its attention was occupied in watching and promoting the measures that were being prepared in Russia, in Sweden, and throughout Germany, against the general oppressor. At such a moment the Americans—professed zealots for liberty and independence—thought it a worthy object to filch the colonies of the country which, above all others, was maintaining the contest against the universal despot. They thought the French Canadians would rise and join the allies of France against Great Britain. The American Government had accordingly, so early as in 1811, and nearly a year previous to the declaration of war, mustered ten thousand men at Boston, ready for this expedition; and long before the note of war was sounded they had called out fifty thousand volunteers. Still, up to the very moment of declaring war, Madison had continually assured our envoy that there was nothing that he so much wished as the continuance of amicable connections between the two countries.During the months of April and May Florence and all the other towns of Tuscany recovered from the revolutionary fever, and returned to their allegiance. At Bologna the Austrians met with a determined resistance. The garrison consisted of 3,000 men, including some hundreds of the Swiss Guards, who had abandoned the service of the Pope. They defied the Austrians, stating that the Madonna was all for resistance, and was actively engaged in turning aside the rockets of the enemy. But the heavy artillery did its deadly work notwithstanding; and after a short bombardment the white flag was hung out, the city capitulated, and the garrison laid down their arms, but were permitted to march out unmolested. Ancona also capitulated on the 10th, and Ferrara was occupied without resistance by Count Thurn. In fact, the counter-revolution was successful all over Central Italy, except in the Papal States, which now became the centre of universal interest. The leaders of the revolutionary party, chased from the other cities of Italy, were warmly welcomed at Rome, and gladly entered the ranks of its defenders.

Driven to desperation, Burgoyne now contemplated crossing the river in the very face of the enemy, and fighting his way through, and for this purpose he sent a party up the river to reconnoitre a suitable spot. Once over, he had little doubt of making his way to Fort Edward, and thence to the Canadian lakes. At this moment Gates was informed that Burgoyne had effected his passage, and that he had left only the rear-guard in the camp. He was in full march upon the camp, in the belief that he could seize it with ease, and part of his forces had actually crossed the fords of Fishkill, near which Burgoyne was strongly posted, when a spy or a deserter informed him of his mistake. Had it not been for this circumstance he must have suffered a surprise and a certain defeat, and the fortunes of Burgoyne would probably have been different. He was now on the alert to receive the Americans, and when, to his mortification, he saw them at a signal again retreating, he poured a murderous fire into them, and pursued them in confusion across the creek. This was his last chance. No news reached him from Clinton; but he ascertained that the Americans had already, in strong force, blocked up his way to Fort Edward. This was decisive. On the 13th he called together a council of war, at which every captain was invited to attend, and the unanimous result of the deliberations was that they must capitulate. Accordingly, an officer was sent with a note to the American headquarters that evening, to propose an interview between General Burgoyne and General Gates. The American General agreed to the meeting at ten o'clock the next morning. There Burgoyne stated that he was aware of the superiority of Gates's numbers, and, to spare the useless effusion of blood, he proposed a cessation of arms, to give time for a treaty to that effect.The great question of the Prince of Wales's debts was brought on by Alderman Newnham, who had been selected by the prince's set for that purpose, to give it more an air of independence. Newnham, on the 20th of April, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Majesty's Ministers proposed to make any arrangement for this purpose. He praised the prince for his generous conduct in breaking up his establishment to facilitate the payment of his debts; but declared it disgraceful to the nation that he should remain in that condition. Not[338] receiving any satisfactory answer, the alderman gave notice of a motion on the subject for the 4th of May. Pitt then endeavoured to deter the alderman from bringing in the motion, by saying that it was not his duty to do so except by command of the king. Newnham, however, persisted in his motion, and in the course of the debate Mr. Rolle, the member for Devonshire, pointedly alluded to the rumours that were afloat as to the marriage of the prince with Mrs. Fitzherbert, a Roman Catholic lady. As a matter of fact, these rumours were true: the prince had been secretly united to her by a Protestant clergyman on December 21st, 1785, in the presence of several witnesses. The marriage placed the prince in this dilemma: by the Act of Settlement, marriage with a Roman Catholic invalidated all claims to the throne; but by the Royal Marriage Act, any marriage contracted without the royal consent was null. He could therefore annul the action of the first Act by pleading the second, but by so doing he would obviously take away the character of his wife. The prince saw a better way out of the difficulty—namely, a denial that the marriage had taken place at all. Fox, completely duped by the mendacious assurances of his royal friend, was induced to get up and contradict the rumour, "by direct authority." The revulsion of feeling in the House was immediate. On the 23rd of May Pitt laid before the members a schedule of the prince's debts, amounting to one hundred and ninety-four thousand pounds. Of this sum a hundred and sixty-one thousand were voted, together with twenty thousand for the completion of Carlton House, and the king was induced to add ten thousand a year from the Civil List to the prince's income. He was thus placed for the time being in affluence, and only had to reckon with Mrs. Fitzherbert. This he did by disavowing Fox, whom he declared to have spoken without authority. But the lady appears to have urged some public explanation. The prince naturally avoided Fox, but sent for Grey, who, however, declined to have anything to do with the dirty business. "Then," said the prince, "Sheridan must say something." Accordingly, a few days later, Sheridan got up and paid a few vapid compliments to Mrs. Fitzherbert, which assuaged her wrath, without exposing the royal liar.

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