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Mr. Canning had been offered the Governor-Generalship of India. Before his departure, he was resolved, if possible, to make a breach in the system of Parliamentary exclusiveness. On the 29th of March he gave notice of a motion to bring in a Bill for the admission of Roman Catholic peers to seats in Parliament, and on the following day supported it by a speech of great power of argument and brilliant eloquence, illustrating his position very happily from the case of the Duke of Norfolk, and his official connection with the ceremonial of the coronation. He asked, "Did it ever occur to the representatives of Europe, when contemplating this animating spectacledid it occur to the ambassadors of Catholic Austria, of Catholic France, or of states more bigoted in matters of religionthat the moment this ceremony was over the Duke of Norfolk would become disseized of the exercise of his privileges amongst his fellow peers?that his robes of ceremony were to be laid aside and hung up until the distant (be it a very distant!) day when the coronation of a successor to his present most gracious Sovereign might again call him forth to assist at a similar solemnisation?that, after being thus exhibited to the eyes of the peers and people of England, and to the representatives of the princes and nations of the world, the Duke of Norfolkhighest in rank amongst the peersthe Lord Clifford, and others like him, representing a long line of illustrious ancestry, as if called forth and furnished for the occasion, like the lustres and banners that flamed and glittered in the scene, were to be, like them, thrown by as useless and trumpery formalities?that they might bend the knee and kiss the hand, that they might bear the train or rear the canopy, might discharge the offices assigned by Roman pride to their barbarian ancestors

During this summer the island of Corsica fell into our hands, and that by conduct as brilliant on the part of Nelson and the troops and seamen under him, as was at the time the formal inefficiency of our generals there. The Corsicans soon experienced the insolence and rapacity of the godless French Republicans, and rose in general insurrection. The patriot Paoli was the first to advise them to renounce all connection with such a race of fiends, and was, in consequence, proscribed by the Convention, but at the same time appointed General-in-Chief and President of the Council of Government by his own people. As he well knew that little Corsica was no match for France, he applied to the British for assistance. Lord Hood was then engaged in the defence of Toulon, but he sent a few ships and troops during the summer and autumn to Paoli's aid, and by this assistance the French were driven out of every part of the island except San Fiorenzo, Calvi, and Bastia. The mother of Buonaparte, and part of the family, who were living at Ajaccio, fled to France, imploring the aid of the Convention for her native island. Lord Hood, however, having evacuated Toulon, made haste to be beforehand with them. By the 7th of February, 1794, he had blockaded the three ports still in the hands of the French, and had landed five regiments, under the command of General Dundas, at San Fiorenzo. The French were soon compelled to evacuate the place, but they retreated to Bastia, without almost any attempt on the part of Dundas to injure or molest them. Lord Hood now urged the immediate reduction of Bastia, but Dundas, an incompetent officer, and tied up by all the old formal rules of warfare, declared that he could not attempt to carry the town till the arrival of two thousand fresh troops from Gibraltar. But there was a man of very different metal and notions serving there, namely, Nelson, who was indignant at this timid conduct. He declared that if he had five hundred men and the Agamemnon ship-of-war, he could take the place. Lord Hood was resolved that he should try, whilst he himself blockaded the harbour. Nelson, who declared his own seamen of the Agamemnon were of the right sort, and cared no more for bullets than for peas, had one thousand one hundred and eighty-three soldiers, artillerymen, and marines, with two hundred and fifty sailors, put under his command, with the title of brigadier. They landed on the 4th of April, dragged their cannon up to the tops of the rocks overhanging Bastia, to the astonishment of French, Corsicans, and the timid Dundas. On the 10th Nelson was aloft with his whole force, and with all his cannon in position. A body of Corsicans rather kept guard than gave any active assistance on another side of the town; for they had no cannon, or could not drag them up precipices like British seamen. On the 11th Lord Hood summoned the town to surrender; but the French commander and Commissioner, Lacombe-Saint-Michel, replied that he had red-hot shot for the ships and bayonets for the British soldiers, and should not think of yielding till he had two-thirds of his garrison killed. But Nelson, ably seconded by Colonel Vilettes, plied his artillery to such purpose, that, on the 10th of May, Lacombe-Saint-Michel made offer of surrender, and on the 19th the capitulation was completed. The French forces and the Corsicans in their interest were shipped off to Toulon, after the signing of the capitulation on the 21st; and now General D'Aubant, who had succeeded General Dundas, but who had continued lying at San Fiorenzo instead of assisting at the siege, came up with his troops and took possession of Bastia. The whole loss of the British in this brilliant affair was only fourteen men killed and thirty-four wounded. Calvi, the most strongly-situated and fortified[432] place, still remained to be taken. By the middle of June it was thoroughly invested, both by sea and land, and Nelson again serving on shore, assisted by Captains Hallowell and Serecold, was pouring shells and red-hot shot into the fort. Captain Serecold was killed at the very outset; but Nelson and Hallowell, chiefly with the sailors and marines, continued the bombardment through the terrible heat of the dog-days, and the enervating effects of malaria from stagnant ponds in the hills, and compelled the surrender on the 10th of August, but not before one-half of the two thousand men engaged were prostrated by sickness. The island was now, by the advice of Paoli, offered to the British Crown and by it accepted; but a gross blunder was made in not appointing Paoli Governor, as was expected both by himself and his compatriots. Instead of this most proper and conciliatory measure, Sir Gilbert Elliot was appointed Governor, to the disappointment and disgust of the Corsicans. Sir Gilbert attempted to gratify the islanders by framing a new Constitution for them, and granting them trial by jury; but neither of these institutions was adapted to their ideas, and both failed to heal the wound which the ignominious treatment of their great patriot occasioned.

Meanwhile the war had continued, and with the commencement of 1841 fortune began to favour the British. The Chinese position at the mouth of the Canton river was forced, and the Emperor was compelled to send a Commissioner, Keshin by name, to treat with the "outer barbarians." Keshin cunningly transferred the scene of negotiations to Canton, in order to secure time to strengthen the forts and prepare for defence. He accordingly employed the interval busily in erecting new batteries at the Bogue, barricading the bars in the river by sinking boats laden with stones, throwing up breastworks near Canton, and levying troops. The British Commissioner, wearied and irritated by these proceedings, gave directions to Commodore Bremer to proceed at once to compulsory methods of bringing the Chinese to reason. On the 7th of January, therefore, he opened fire on the Bogue forts, on two of which the British flag very soon floated. Next morning, when everything was ready to attack the principal fort, Annughoy, a flag of truce was sent by the Chinese, and hostilities were suspended. Keshin offered to adjust matters immediately, and on the 20th a circular appeared, signed by Captain Elliot, and dated Macao, addressed to "Her Britannic Majesty's subjects," stating that her Majesty's plenipotentiary had to announce the conclusion of preliminary arrangements between the Imperial Commissioner and himself, involving the following conditions:1st. The cession of the harbour and island of Hong Kong to the British Crown. 2nd. An indemnity to the British Government of 6,000,000 dollars, to be paid in annual instalments in six years. 3rd. Direct official intercourse between the two countries upon equal footing. It was quite evident that her Majesty's plenipotentiary did not understand the sort of people he had to deal with; otherwise, he would not have arrested the operations of Commodore Bremer till he had all the principal forts in his possession. In fact he was completely duped by Keshin. His enemies of his own house were not so easily intimidated. The summer had been an unprecedentedly rainy one. The crops had failed, and, in consequence of the scarcity and dearness of corn, there had been riots, especially in the western counties. The enraged people had burned down the ricks and barns of the farmers who were hoarding their corn for higher prices. Chatham instantly, that is, on the 10th of September, issued a proclamation against "forestallers and regraters." As the riots still increased, on the 24th he caused an Order in Council to be issued, laying an embargo on corn, and prohibiting the sailing of vessels already laden with wheat for foreign markets, the failure of crops being as great on the Continent as in England. He had been advised not to venture on so bold a measure without calling together Parliament; but he would not hear of it, lest it should look like timidity of counsel. It was a daring stretch of prerogative, and did not pass without severe censure. Chatham defended the measure: he quoted Locke in justification of such measures for the prevention of internal calamity and tumult; and he defended it further by the fact, that to have called together Parliament would have brought noblemen and gentlemen from their own neighbourhood, just when they were most needful there to maintain order. Lord Camden, the present Chancellor, and Lord Northington, the late one, stoutly supported him, Camden saying that it was a measure so moderate and beneficial, that a Junius Brutus might have trusted it to a Nero. Unfortunately, he added that, at worst, it was only "a forty days' tyranny"a phrase which excited the utmost clamour, and was long remembered against him. The prospects of the European war at this juncture, as observed from England, were gloomy in the extreme. The dispersion of the armies of Spain, the retreat and death of Sir John Moore, leaving the whole of the Spanish and Portuguese Peninsula under the feet of Buonaparte, disposed many to believe the power of the conqueror unassailable. The Whig Opposition made every use of this feeling to damage and, if possible, drive their rivals from office. That the Whigs, in power, would have refrained from Continental war any more than the Tories is not to be believed. They had always, when in officeexcept, in the case of Fox, for a short intervalbeen as ready to fight; but they had generally conducted their campaigns with much less ability. Now, their great organ, the Edinburgh Review, indulged in the most vehement censures on the Cabinet; charged all the adverse circumstances of the Spanish and Portuguese war to its bad management; and intimated that it was the most wicked and idiotic folly to hope to contend with Buonaparte at all. But if ever there was a time when the continuance of the war was excusable, and perhaps necessary, it was now. Great Britain had gone fully and freely into the conflict to assist the Continental nations. She had pledged herself[571] solemnly to Spain and Portugal, and to have withdrawn at this crisis would have been equally treacherous to our allies and pusillanimous as regarded the enemy. It would have been, in fact, to proclaim to the world that we had been completely beaten out of the field, that we could not do what we had promised to our allies, and that Napoleon must be left the master of Europe, and the dictator to Britain. Such a confession would have destroyed for ever the prestige of Great Britain, and justly. Ministers felt this, and never were more resolved to persevere to the end. To show that they did not for a moment despair, they signed a treaty of peace and amity with Spain only five days after the arrival of the news of the retreat and death of Sir John Moore, binding themselves never to acknowledge the authority of Buonaparte over Spain, or of any family but of Ferdinand VII. and his lineal successors. That they were supported in their views by Parliament was soon made evident by the rejection, by a majority of two hundred and eight against one hundred and fifty-eight, of a motion of Lord Henry Petty censuring the Convention of Cintra, and, by a majority of two hundred and twenty against one hundred and twenty-seven, of a motion of Mr. Ponsonby for inquiry into the conduct of the late campaign in Spain. Ministers had at length satisfied themselves that they had in Sir Arthur Wellesley a man capable of contending against the haughty tyrant of Europe. The most liberal votes were made for the prosecution of the war. The total of supplies for the year amounted to fifty-three million eight hundred and sixty-two thousand pounds, including a loan of eleven million pounds. For the army twenty-seven million pounds was voted, and for the navy nineteen million pounds. Between twenty and thirty thousand men were drafted from the militia into the regulars, and thus the army was augmented to that amount by soldiers already well trained. The loan was freely taken at a lower interest than any hitherto borrowedthe Opposition asserted, because trade was deranged, and capitalists were at a loss how to invest their money; but the Ministers contended, on the other hand, that it was solely because the war was popular with the nation. Before, however, entering into its arduous and bloody details, we must narrate some disgraceful affairs at home.

Progress of the War on the ContinentLethargic Condition of PoliticsBattle of LaufeldtCapture of Bergen-op-ZoomDisasters of the French on the Sea and in ItalyNegotiations for PeaceCongress of Aix-la-ChapelleConditions of PeacePeace at HomeCommercial Treaty with SpainDeath of the Prince of WalesPopular feeling against the Bill for Naturalising the JewsLord Hardwicke's Marriage ActFoundation of the British MuseumDeath of PelhamNewcastle's DifficultiesFailure of RobinsonApproaching Danger from AmericaA State of Undeclared WarThe Battles of Boscawen and BraddockGeorge's Anxiety for HanoverSubsidiary Treaties against PrussiaPitt's OppositionDebate in the House of CommonsDanger of EnglandFrench Expedition against MinorcaThe Failure of ByngNewcastle resignsAttempts to Form a MinistryDevonshire SucceedsWeakness of the MinistryCoalition against PrussiaAlliance with EnglandCommencement of the Seven Years' WarFrederick Conquers SaxonyGloominess of AffairsCourt-Martial on Byng, and his DeathDismissal of PittThe Pitt and Newcastle CoalitionFailure of the attack on Rochefort and of that on LouisburgConvention of Closter-SevenFrederick's Campaign; Kolin, Rosbach, and LissaSuccesses elsewhereWolfe and CliveBattle of PlasseyCapture of LouisburgTiconderoga and Fort DuquesneAttacks on St. Malo and CherbourgVictory of CrefeldFrederick's CampaignCommencement of 1759; Blockade of the French CoastPitt's Plans for the Conquest of CanadaAmherst's and Prideaux's ColumnsWolfe before QuebecPosition of the CityWolfe fails to draw Montcalm from his PositionApparent Hopelessness of the ExpeditionWolfe Scales the Heights of AbrahamThe BattleSuccesses in IndiaBattle of QuiberonFrederick's FortunesCampaign of Ferdinand of BrunswickBattle of MindenGlorious Termination of the YearFrench Descent on CarrickfergusAttempt of the French to Recover QuebecTheir Expulsion from North AmericaFrederick's Fourth CampaignSuccesses of Ferdinand of BrunswickDeath of George II.

Bagration, prevented by Jerome of Westphalia from pursuing his route towards Drissa, changed his course towards Minsk; but finding himself outstripped there too, he made for the Beresina, and effected a passage at Bobruisk. He then ascended the Dnieper as far as Mohilev; but, finding himself anticipated by Davoust, he attacked that general in the hope of cutting his way through. In this he failed, after a sharply-contested engagement, and once more he retired down the Dnieper, and crossed at Nevoi-Bikoff, which enabled him to pursue his course for a union with Barclay de Tolly, who was making for Smolensk. Thus Bagration, though running imminent hazard of being cut off, managed to out-man?uvre Napoleon himselfa new event in his campaigns. On his march, his troops had several encounters with the French and Polish cavalry; but Platoff showed great gallantry, and often severely punished the enemy. On the 20th of June, when the Bill was in committee of the Peers, the Lord Chancellor urged his objection to the retrospective clause, as unsettling the rights of property. The report being brought up on the 25th, he repeated his objections, and moved that the retrospective clause should be omitted. The motion was negatived. On the 2nd of July, the day fixed for the third reading, his brother, Lord Stowell, made a similar motion, which was also defeated. The Lord Chancellor moved the insertion of a clause for giving validity to deeds, assignments and settlements made by persons having claims on any property affected by the Bill. The Marquis of Lansdowne opposed this clause, which, he said, would give the Bill the effect of declaring children legitimate and yet disinheriting them"of peopling the House of Lords with titled beggars." This clause having been negatived on a division, the Lord Chancellor proposed another to the same effect, with the addition of the words, "for good and valuable consideration." This also was rejected by a majority. This was too much for the temper of Lord Eldon, so long accustomed to have his way in that House. Irritated at being repeatedly thwarted in his efforts, on declaring the numbers he exclaimed with vehemence, "My lords, ten days ago I believed this House possessed the good opinion of the public, as the mediator between them and the laws of the country; if this Bill pass to-night, I hope in God that this House may still have that good opinion ten days hence. But to say the best of this measure, I consider it neither more nor less than a legal robbery, so help me God! I have but a short time to remain with you, but I trust it will be hereafter known that I used every means in my power to prevent its passing into law." Thenceforth the Lord Chancellor became sulky with his colleagues, feeling himself dragged on by their too rapid progress. He was very reluctant to attend their Cabinet meetings, and absented himself whenever he could make any excuse. In reply to a summons from Mr. Peel, the Home Secretary, to attend a meeting on the Alien Act, he answered that he could not possibly attend, adding, "My absence, however, can be of little, and possibly of no consequence." The Session ended on the 6th of August; the Parliament being prorogued by the king in person.

In the report drawn up by Mr. Wyse, the chairman of the select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the Foundation Schools in Ireland, in 1837, an interesting history is given of the origin, progress, and working of those obnoxious schools, and of other educational societies which followed. The Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland was established by Royal Charter in 1733, the avowed object being the education of the poor in the principles of the Established Church. It is sufficient to remark that the annual grants which were made to the schools in connection with it (well known as the Charter Schools) were, in consequence of the report of the Commissioners of 1824, gradually reduced, and finally withdrawn. In 1824 there were of those schools 32; the number of children in them amounted to 2,255. The grant for 1825 was 21,615. The grant was gradually reduced to 5,750 in 1832, when it was finally withdrawn. During nineteen years this system cost the country 1,612,138, of which 1,027,715 consisted of Parliamentary grants. The total number of children apprenticed from the beginning till the end of 1824 was only 12,745; and of these but a small number received the portion of 5 each, allotted to those who served out their apprenticeship, and married Protestants. The Association for Discountenancing Vice was incorporated in 1800. It required that the masters and mistresses in its schools should be of the Established Church; that the Scriptures should[358] be read by all who had attained sufficient proficiency; and that no catechism be taught except that of the Established Church. The schools of the Association amounted in 1824 to 226, and the number of children to 12,769; of whom it was stated that 7,803 were Protestants, and 4,804 were Roman Catholics; but the Rev. William Lee, who had inspected 104 of these schools in 1819 and 1820, stated before the Commissioners of 1824 that he had found the catechism of the Church of Rome in many of them. The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor was founded on the 2nd of December, 1811, and was managed by a committee of various religious persuasions. The principles which they had prescribed to themselves for their conduct were, to promote the establishment and assist in the support of schools in which the appointment of governors and teachers, and the admission of scholars, should be uninfluenced by religious distinctions, and in which the Bible or Testament, without note or comment, should be read by all the scholars who had attained a suitable proficiency in reading, excluding catechisms and books of religious controversy; at the same time it was to be distinctly understood that the Bible or Testament should not be used as a school book from which children should be taught to spell or read. A grant was accordingly made to the society of 6,980, Irish currency, in the Session of 1814-15. The system of this society was manifestly the same as that which was formerly called the Lancastrian system in England, and which, although adopted by the great body of the Protestant Dissenters there, was so much opposed by the bishops and clergy of the Established Church in general, that they completely prevented its application to schools for children of their communion. The Roman Catholic prelates and clergy set themselves with equal resolution against it in Ireland and with equal success. It was accordingly found in 1824, that of 400,348 children whose parents paid for their education in the general schools of the country, and whose religion was ascertained, there were 81,060 Protestants, and 319,288 Roman Catholics; while of 56,201 children educated under the Kildare Place Societyalthough theirs were schools for the poor, and the Roman Catholics bear a much greater proportion to Protestants in the poorer classes than in the higherthere were 26,237 Protestants, and only 29,964 Roman Catholics.

In the trying circumstances in which they were placed, Lord Grey and his colleagues displayed a firmness and courage which entitled them to the everlasting gratitude of the country. The pluck of Lord John Russell in particular had quite an inspiriting effect on the nation. Replying to a vote of thanks to him and Lord Althorp, which had been passed by the Birmingham Political union, the noble Paymaster of the Forces used an antithetical expression, which has become historical, and which, considering that the faction to which he alluded was the majority of the order to which he himself belonged, must be admitted to be one of extraordinary boldness. He said: "I beg to acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude the undeserved honour done me by 150,000 of my countrymen. Our prospects are now obscured for a moment, and I trust only for a moment. It is impossible that the whisper of faction should prevail against the voice of the nation."

In the West Indies a small squadron and some land troops took the islands of Tobago, St. Pierre, and Miquelon. At the invitation of the planters, we also took possession of the western or French portion of St. Domingo; but in Martinique, where we had had the same invitation, the Royalist French did not support our efforts according to promise, and the enterprise failed from the smallness of the force employed. Besides these transactions, there occurred a severe fight between Captain Courteney, of the frigate Boston, with only thirty-two guns and two hundred men, and the Ambuscade, a French frigate of thirty-six guns and four hundred picked men, in which both received much damage, and in which Captain Courteney was killed, but in which the Frenchman was compelled to haul off. In the East Indies we again seized Pondicherry, and all the small factories of the French.

In all those arts which increase the prosperity of a nation England made the most remarkable progress during this reign. A number of men, springing chiefly from its working or manufacturing orders, arose, who introduced inventions and improvements in practical science, which added, in a most wonderful degree, to the industrial resources of the country. Agriculture at the commencement of the reign was in a sluggish and slovenly condition, but the increase of population, and the augmented price of corn and cattle, led to numerous enclosures of waste lands, and to improvements both in agricultural implements and in the breeds of sheep and cattle. During the thirty-three years of the reign of George II. the number of enclosures averaged only seven per annum, but in the first twenty-five years of the reign of George III. they amounted to forty-seven per annum. During that period the number of enclosures was one thousand one hundred and eighty-six, the number each year rapidly increasing. The value of the produce also stimulated the spirit of improvement in tillage as well as enclosure. Many gentlemen, especially in Northumberland, Kent, Norfolk, and Suffolk, devoted themselves to agricultural science. They introduced rotation of crops instead of fallows, and better manuring, and also cultivated various vegetables on a large scale in the fields which before had generally been confined to the garden, as turnips, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, etc. Their example began to be followed by the ordinary class of farmers, and the raising of rents greatly quickened this imitation. At the opening of the reign the rental of land did not exceed ten shillings per acre on an[188] average; the rental of the whole kingdom in 1769 being sixteen million pounds, according to Arthur Young, but in a few years it was nearly doubled. This gentleman, who has left us so much knowledge of the agricultural state of the kingdom in his "Tours of Survey," tells us that, northward especially, the old lumbering ploughs and other clumsy instruments were still in use, instead of the improved ones, and that there was, therefore, a great waste of labour, both of man and beast, in consequence. But still improvement was slowly spreading, and already Bakewell was engaged in those experiments which introduced, instead of the old large-headed and ill-shaped sheep, a breed of superior symmetry, which at once consumed less food and yielded a heavier carcase. It was at first contemptuously said by the old race of farmers and graziers, that Bakewell's new herd of sheep was too dear for any one to purchase and too fat for any one to eat. As he was pursuing his improvements in Leicestershire, Culley prosecuted similar ones in Northumberland in both sheep and cattle.

Being conveyed to St. John's, Burgoyne there disembarked, and on the 16th of June he commenced his march for Crown Point, the shipping following him by the lake. On the 1st of July he appeared before Ticonderoga. The place required ten thousand troops effectually to defend it; but St. Clair who commanded them had only three thousand, very indifferently armed and equipped. St. Clair saw at once that he must retire, as the Americans had already done, at Crown Point; but he sought to do it unobserved. Accordingly, in the night of the 5th of July the flight took place; but St. Clair's orders were immediately disobeyed; the soldiers fired the house which had been occupied by General de Fermoy, and the British were at once apprised of the retreat. The sailors soon broke up the obstructions at the mouth of the river, and a fleet of gunboats was in instant pursuit. They overtook the Americans near the falls of Skenesborough, and quickly mastered the protecting galleys, and destroyed the vessels. General Burgoyne followed with other gunboats containing troops, and at the same time dispatched Generals Fraser and Reisedel by land after St. Clair.