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Lord North, however, was still sufficiently impressed by the solemn warnings of Chatham and others to attempt a conciliatory measure of his own. Accordingly, on the 20th of February, only ten days after his Bill restrictive of the American trade, and whilst it was progressing, he moved in a committee of the whole House, "That if the Legislature of any of the American provinces should propose to make some provision for the common defence, and also for the civil government of that province, and if such proposal shall be approved of by the king and Parliament, it would be proper to forbear, whilst such provision lasted, from levying or proposing any tax, duty, or assessment within the said province."

The naval transactions of 1810 were almost wholly confined to watching the French, Spanish, and Italian coasts, to thwart the French, who, on their part, were continually on the watch for any of our blockading ships being driven by the weather, or called to some other station, in order to run out and convey men and stores into Spain. The last action of Lord Collingwood took place in this service. Though his health was fast failing, and he had repeatedly entreated the Admiralty to allow him to give up the command and go home to his family—the only chance of his long survival—they always refused. His complaint was declared by the faculty to be owing to his long confinement on board ships, and he had now scarcely set foot on shore for three years. But notwithstanding all this, with a singular selfishness the Admiralty kept him on board, and he was too high-minded to resign his commission whilst he could be of service to his country. In this state of health he was lying off Toulon, blockading that port, when he was driven to Minorca by a gale of wind. He had regained the coast of Catalonia, when he heard that the French fleet had issued from Toulon, and were making for Barcelona. The whole British fleet were in exultation; but on sighting this supposed fleet it was found to consist only of three sail of the line, two frigates, and about twenty other vessels, carrying provisions to the French army at Barcelona. They no sooner caught view of the British fleet than they made off in all haste, and the British gave chase. Admiral Martin was the first to come up with them in the Gulf of Lyons, where two of the ships of the line ran ashore, and were set fire to by the French admiral, Baudin. Two others ran into the harbour of Cette; and eleven of the store-ships ran into the Bay of Rooas, and took refuge under the powerful batteries; but Lord Collingwood, in spite of the batteries, sent in the ships' boats, and in the face of the batteries, and of boarding nets, set fire to and destroyed them. Five other store-ships were captured. This was the last exploit of the brave and worthy Collingwood. His health gave way so fast, that, having in vain endeavoured again to induce the Admiralty to relieve him of his command, expressly assuring them that he was quite worn out, on the 3rd of March he surrendered his post to Rear-Admiral Martin, and set sail in the Ville de Paris for England. But it was too late; he died at sea on the 7th of March, 1810. Very few admirals have done more signal service, or have displayed a more sterling English character than Lord Collingwood; and perhaps none were ever more grudgingly rewarded or so unfeelingly treated by the Admiralty, who, in fact, killed him by a selfish retention of his services, when they could be continued only at the cost of his life.[46]


The general election was, on the whole, favourable to the Government; the forces of Conservatism being roused into activity by the violent democratic tendencies of the times, and by the threats of revolution. The new Parliament met on the 21st of April. Mr. Manners Sutton was re-elected Speaker. A week was occupied in swearing in the members, and the Session was opened on the 27th by a Speech from the king, the vagueness of which gave no ground for an amendment to the Address in either House. In the old roll of members one illustrious name was found, borne by a statesman who was never more to take his seat in the House.[205] Henry Grattan expired (June 4) soon after the Session commenced. Sir James Mackintosh, in moving a new writ for Dublin, which Grattan had represented for many years, observed "that he was, perhaps, the only man recorded in history who had obtained equal fame and influence in two assemblies differing from each other in such essential respects as the English and Irish Parliaments."

Rt. Hon. J. Toler, a peerage and chief justiceship.Britain was anxiously appealed to for aid; but Pitt, who had raised so powerful an armament to check the attacks of Russia on Turkey, was not disposed to denounce the attempts of Russia on Poland. He might be blamed for refraining from exerting the moral power of Britain in condemnation of the unprincipled aggression of Russia, but he could not be expected to take arms in defence of Poland, so far removed from the influence of a maritime nation. Colonel Gardiner, our Minister at Warsaw, was instructed by our Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Lord Grenville, to express a friendly interest towards Poland, but to take care to avoid raising hopes of assistance. The Poles, repelled by Prussia and Austria, and finding no warmth of sympathy in the agent of Britain, dispatched Count Bukaty in June to London to plead for aid. But Pitt was cold and immovable, though he saw with regret that the absorption of this large country, in the centre of Europe, would formidably increase that preponderance of Russia, which he had attempted to prevent when there was a question of the absorption of Turkey. He adopted an attitude of strict neutrality. No motion condemnatory of Russia's grasping schemes was made in Parliament; it seemed to Britain a matter of no moment that one of the chief nations of Europe should be torn in pieces by rapacious Powers, contrary to all moral and international law. The Whigs, those warm advocates of revolution and of popular freedom, were dumb. In fact, what could they say? Fox and his admirers had all along been lauding the Russian Empress as one of the greatest, ablest, and most innocent of monarchs, simply in opposition to Pitt and his endeavours to repress her schemes of aggrandisement. Fox had even sent Mr. Adair as his emissary to St. Petersburg, to congratulate her on her successes, and to assure her of the admiration of Englishmen. Such are the perversities into which men are driven by party spirit! At this very moment Fox and the Whigs were flattering and patting Catherine on the back, when her bandit armies had already their feet on the doomed soil of Poland, and they were still applauding the Revolutionists of France, when they were already beyond the Rhine, on that crusade of conquest which plunged Europe into more than twenty years of the most horrible bloodshed. They saw all this when too late. For the present, what was done for Poland was to call a meeting at the Mansion House and open a subscription for the suffering Poles.A third Bill yet remained to be carried, in order to complete the Ministerial scheme of Emancipation, and supply the security necessary for its satisfactory working. This was the Bill for disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders, by whose instrumentality, it may be said, Emancipation was effected. It was they that returned Mr. O'Connell for Clare; it was they that would have returned the members for twenty-three other counties, pledged to support his policy. It is true that this class of voters was generally dependent upon the landlords, unless under the influence of violent excitement, when they were wrested like weapons from their hands by the priests, and used with a vengeance for the punishment of those by whom they had been created. In neither case did they exercise the franchise in fulfilment of the purpose for which it was given. In both cases those voters were the instruments of a power which availed itself of the forms of the Constitution, but was directly opposed to its spirit. Disfranchisement, however, in any circumstances, was distasteful to both Conservative and Liberal statesmen. Mr. Brougham said he consented to it in this case "as the price—almost the extravagant price"—of Emancipation; and Sir James Mackintosh remarked that it was one of those "tough morsels" which he had been scarcely able to swallow. The measure was opposed by Mr. Huskisson, Lord Palmerston, and Lord Duncannon, as not requisite, and not calculated to accomplish its object. But although Mr. O'Connell had repeatedly declared that he would not accept Emancipation if the faithful "forties" were to be sacrificed, that he would rather die on the scaffold than submit to any such measure, though Mr. Sheil had denounced it in language the most vehement, yet the measure was allowed to pass through both Houses of Parliament without any opposition worth naming; only seventeen members voting against the second reading in the Commons, and there being no division against it in the Lords. Ireland beheld the sacrifice in silence. Mr. O'Connell forgot his solemn vows, so recently registered, and, what was more strange, the priests did not remind him of his obligation. Perhaps they were not sorry to witness the annihilation of a power which landlords might use against them[302] and which agitators might wield in a way that they could not at all times control. There had been always an uneasy feeling among the prelates and the higher clergy at the influence which Mr. O'Connell and the other lay agitators had acquired, because it tended to raise in the people a spirit of independence which rendered them sometimes refractory as members of the Church, and suggested the idea of combination against their own pastors, if they declined to become their leaders in any popular movement. The popular leaders in Ireland, however, consoling themselves with the assurance that many of the class of "bold peasantry" which they had glorified would still enjoy the franchise as ten-pound freeholders, consented, reluctantly of course, to the extinction of 300,000 "forties." They considered the danger of delay, and the probability that if this opportunity were missed, another might not occur for years of striking off the shackles which the upper classes of Roman Catholics especially felt to be so galling.


The art of sculpture, like that of painting, took a new spring in this reign, but the early part of it was encumbered by the tasteless works of Wilton, Read, and Taylor. It remained for the genius of Banks, Nollekens, Bacon, Baily, Behnes, and Chantrey, to place sculpture on its proper elevation in England.

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The murder of one landlord was sufficient to spread terror throughout the whole class, the most recent and horrible case being used for this purpose in the threatening notices. Thus, when Major Mahon was shot, a letter was sent to the wife of another landed proprietor, warning her that if her husband did not remit all the arrears of rent due by his tenants, two men would be sent to dispatch him as they had dispatched the demon Mahon. The Lord-Lieutenant had increased the[561] constabulary force in the disturbed districts, and called out the military to aid in the execution of the law. But it was the opinion of the magistrates in those districts that the powers of the executive were not sufficient. The object of Sir George Greys measure was to extend those powers—not to create any new tribunal, for trial by jury had worked satisfactorily. What he proposed was that the Lord-Lieutenant should have power to "proclaim" disturbed districts, to increase in them the constabulary force to any extent he might think fit out of the reserve of 600 in Dublin, to limit the use of firearms, and to establish nocturnal patrols. He thought that by such a measure the Government would be able to put down the crimes that were disorganising society in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel supported the Government measure. Mr. Feargus O'Connor divided the House against it; but was supported by only twenty members. It was soon after read a second time, having been strenuously resisted by some of the Irish members. It rapidly went through committee, and was read a third time, when the minority against it was only fourteen. The Bill passed through the Lords without alteration.The Prussian people, however, on their part, were clamorous for war; they still prided themselves on the victories of Frederick, called the Great, and the students and the young nobles were full of bravado. But, unfortunately, they had not generals like Frederick to place at the head of their armies, and their military system was entirely obsolete. The Duke of Brunswick, who, in his youth, had shown much bravery in the Seven Years' War, but who had been most unfortunate in his invasion of France, in 1792, was now, in his seventy-second year, placed in chief command, to compete with Napoleon. Nothing could exceed the folly of his plan of the campaign. The whole force of Prussia, including its auxiliaries, amounted only to about one hundred and fifty thousand men. Of these the Saxons, who had reluctantly united with Prussia, and had only been forced into co-operation by the Prussians marching into their country, and, in a manner, compelling them, were worse than lukewarm in the cause; they were ready at any moment to join the French. Besides these, and the troops of Hesse-Cassel, they had not an ally except the distant Russians. On the other hand, Napoleon had a considerably superior army of his own in advance, and he had immense forces behind the Rhine, for he had anticipated a whole year's conscription. He had, moreover, his flanks protected by his friendly confederates of the Rhine, ready to come forward, if necessary. In these circumstances, Prussia's policy ought to have been to delay action, by negotiation or otherwise, till the Russians could come up, and then to have concentrated her troops so as to resist, by their momentum, the onset of the confident and battle-practised French. But, so far from taking these precautions, the Duke of Brunswick rushed forward at once into Franconia, into the very face of Buonaparte, and long before he could have the assistance of Russia. Instead of concentrating his forces, Brunswick had stretched them out over a line of ninety miles in length. He and the king had their headquarters at Weimar; their left, under Prince Hohenlohe, was at Schleitz, and their right extended as far as Mühlhausen. The Prussians, in fact, appeared rather to be occupying cantonments than drawn into military position for a great contest. Besides they had in front of them the Thuringian Forest, behind which Napoleon could man?uvre as he pleased.

The spring of 1810 witnessed one of the most important events of the reign of Napoleon, and one which, no doubt had a decided influence on his fate—his divorce from Josephine and his marriage with Maria Louisa, the archduchess of Austria. It had long been evident to those about[2] Napoleon that a change of this kind would take place. Josephine had brought the Emperor no child, and, ambitious in every way, he was as much so of leaving lineal successors to the throne and empire which he had created, as he was of making that empire co-extensive with Europe. Josephine, strongly attached to him, as well as to the splendour of his position, had long feared such a catastrophe, and had done all in her power to divert his mind from it. She proposed to him that he should adopt an heir, and she recommended to him her own son, Eugene Beauharnais. But this did not satisfy Buonaparte. She then turned his attention to a child of her daughter, Hortense Beauharnais, by his brother Louis, the King of Holland. This would have united her own family to his, and to this scheme Buonaparte appeared to consent. He showed much affection for the child, and especially as the boy displayed great pleasure in looking at arms and military man?uvres; and on one occasion of this kind Buonaparte exclaimed, "There is a child fit to succeed, perhaps to surpass me!" But neither was this scheme destined to succeed. The child sickened and died, and with it almost the last hope of Josephine. Whilst at Erfurt with the Emperor Alexander, in 1808, Buonaparte had actually proposed for a Russian archduchess; nay, in 1807 he had made such overtures at the Treaty of Tilsit. Thus the idea had been settled in his mind three years, at least, before it was realised. The Russian match had on both occasions been evaded, on the plea of the difference of religion; but the truth was that the notion of such an alliance was by no means acceptable to the Imperial family of Russia. The Empress and the Empress-mother decidedly opposed it; and though the plea of difference of religion was put forward, Buonaparte could not but feel that the real reasons were very different—that he was looked on as a successful adventurer, whose greatness might some day dissolve as speedily as it had grown, and that, be this as it might, the Russian family were not disposed to receive him, a parvenu monarch, into their old regal status.The coronation was a magnificent ceremonial, and during the proceedings in the Abbey, Westminster Hall was being prepared for the banquet. There were three tables on each side, each table having covers for fifty-six persons, and each person having before him a silver plate. The other plate was entirely of gold. The dishes served up were all cold, consisting of fowls, tongues, pies, and a profusion of sweetmeats, with conserves and fruit of every kind. At twenty minutes to four o'clock the gates were thrown open to admit the procession on its return. Seen from the opposite end of the hall, the effect was magnificent as the procession passed under the triumphal arch. On the entrance of the king he was received with loud and continued acclamations. His Majesty being seated at the banquet, the first course came with a grand procession, which the king seemed to regard with great satisfaction. The Duke of Wellington, as Lord High Constable, the Marquis of Anglesey, as Lord High Steward, and the Deputy Earl Marshal, Lord Howard of Effingham, mounted on horses, and attended by their pages and grooms, advanced to the foot of the platform; the horsemen stopped while the clerks of the kitchen advanced to the royal table, and took the dishes from the gentlemen pensioners. Then the whole procession moved back, the horsemen backing their chargers with the greatest precision, amidst loud applause. The first course having been removed, a flourish of trumpets was heard at the bottom of the hall, the great gates were instantly thrown wide open, and the champion, Mr. Dymoke, made his appearance under the Gothic archway, mounted on his piebald charger, accompanied on the right by the Duke of Wellington, and on the left by Lord Howard of Effingham, and attended by trumpeters and an esquire. The usual challenges were given. Some other ceremonies having been gone through, the king's health was proposed by one of the peers, and drunk with acclamation. The National Anthem was then sung, after which the king rose and said, "The king thanks his peers for drinking his health and does them the honour of drinking their health and that of his good people." Shortly afterwards his Majesty quitted the hall and returned to his palace in his private carriage, attended by his usual body-guard.


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