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[77]Notwithstanding these addresses and the confident tone of the Queen's Speech, the Funds fell, and there was general dissatisfaction at the conditions of the proposed pacification. In order to stimulate the proceedings and excite a jealousy of the Dutch, St. John professed to discover that they were themselves secretly negotiating with France, and urged that, if we did not take care, they would have the management of the negotiations and not her Majesty. Lord Strafford hastened back to the Hague, and from thence to Utrecht, where he proposed a cessation of arms, which was rejected by the Allies. He then went on to the army, where the Duke of Ormonde was in a situation of the utmost difficulty. He had received orders from Government, in consequence of the clamour in Parliament, to support Prince Eugene at the siege of Quesnoy, which he had invested on the 8th of June, and accordingly he had appeared before the place with such forces as threatened speedily to reduce it. At the same time he had received from the Marquis de Torcy a copy of the articles of peace signed by him, and from the Marquis of Villars the most bitter remonstrances on his conduct, which he did not hesitate to declare most perfidious and disgraceful. On the other hand, Prince Eugene, who did not find the English forces, notwithstanding their presence, rendering any active service, was equally irritated by his proceedings. Ormonde could but reply to each party that such were his orders, and leave the Government to bear the ignominy of it. To extricate themselves from the just censures on this dishonourable policy, St. John instructed Ormonde to demand from Villars the surrender of Dunkirk, which, it was asserted, must be put into the hands of the queen's troops, as a pledge that France would perform all that she had promised, before there could be a cessation of hostilities.

Meanwhile, the attention of the Western Powers was called to the constitutional monarchy of Spain. For, whatever were its merits in comparison with the systems that preceded it, it had not the merit of securing good government, protecting life and property, and maintaining public tranquillity. During the summer of 1836 that country, always more or less disturbed, was the scene of fresh tumults and insurrections, breaking out at different points, at Malaga, Cadiz, Seville, and Cordova. The Constitution of 1812 was proclaimed, and provincial juntas were established in defiance of the queen's authority. Madrid was also the scene of insurrection, which was repressed, and the city was put in a state of siege. Soon afterwards a more determined demand was made for the Constitution of 1812, when a regiment of militia forced themselves into the apartments of the queen regent, in spite of the remonstrances of the French and British Ambassadors, and extorted from her a promise to accept that Constitution. This daring act was the signal for a general rising in the capital. The Prime Minister, Isturitz, fled to Lisbon, and there took ship for England. He was fortunate in escaping with his life, for had he fallen into the hands of the enraged populace he would probably have shared the fate of General Quesada, the military governor of Madrid, who was caught about three miles from the capital and killed. Order was at length restored by the queen regent proclaiming the Constitution, subject to the revision of the Cortes and by the appointment of a decidedly Liberal Administration, which commenced by calling for a conscription of 50,000 men to carry on the war against the Carlists, who were still in active rebellion. The Constitution so imperatively demanded by the people was first proclaimed at Cadiz in 1812, and again by Riego in 1820. It now was brought forward once more, and on the 24th of February, 1837, adopted by the general Cortes assembled for the purpose, having been previously revised by a committee.Peel's Second Cabinet—Prorogation of Parliament—Growing Demand for Free Trade—Mr. Villiers—His First Motion for the Repeal of the Corn Laws—The Manchester Association—Bright and Cobden—Opposition of the Chartists—Growth of the Association—The Movement spreads to London—Renewal of Mr. Villiers' Motion—Formation of the Anti-Corn Law League—Its Pamphlets and Lectures—Ebenezer Elliott—The Pavilion at Manchester—Mr. Villiers' Third Motion—Want in Ireland—The Walsall Election—Depression of Trade—Peel determines on a Sliding Scale—His Corn Law—Its Cold Reception—Progress of the Measure—The Budget—The Income Tax—Reduction of Custom Duties—Peel's Speech on the New Tariff—Discussions on the Bill—Employment of Children in the Coal Mines—Evidence of the Commission—Lord Ashley's Bill—Further Attempts on the Life of the Queen—Sir Robert Peel's Bill on the subject—Differences with the United States—The Right of Search—The Canadian Boundary—The Macleod Affair—Lord Ashburton's Mission—The First Afghan War: Sketch of its Course—Russian Intrigue in the East—Auckland determines to restore Shah Sujah—Triumphant Advance of the Army of the Indus—Surrender of Dost Mohammed—Sale and the Ghilzais—The Rising in Cabul—Murder of Burnes—Treaty of 11th of December—Murder of Macnaghten—Treaty of January 1st—Annihilation of the Retreating Force—Irresolution of Auckland—His Recall—Disasters in the Khyber Pass—Pollock at Peshawur—Position of Affairs at Jelalabad—Resistance determined upon—Approach of Akbar Khan—The Earthquake—Pollock in the Khyber—Sale's Victory—Ellenborough's Proclamation—Votes of Thanks—Ellenborough orders Retirement—The Prisoners—They are saved—Reoccupation of Cabul—Ellenborough's Proclamation—The Gate of Somnauth.

The year 1799 opened by the discussion of this new scheme of revenue. It was a mode of making every man tax himself by stating the amount of his income, on which he was to be charged ten per cent., with the exception only of such persons whose incomes were less than two hundred pounds per annum, who were to be charged less than ten per cent. It was to include all who had more than sixty pounds a-year. Pitt calculated the income of the nation at a hundred and two million pounds, which would thus produce a revenue of ten million pounds. To make this excellent device the more palatable, the increase in the assessed taxes made in the preceding Session was to be repealed. To such a degree did the nation trust the great Minister, that this tax was carried through both Houses with comparatively little difficulty.

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An attempt was made during the Session to mitigate the evils of the Game Laws, and a Bill for legalising the sale of game passed the Commons with extraordinary unanimity. In the House of Lords the Bill met with determined opposition. In vain Lord Wharncliffe demonstrated the demoralising and disorganising effects of the Game Laws. Lord Westmoreland was shocked at a measure which he declared would depopulate the country of gentlemen. He could not endure such a gross violation of the liberty of the aristocratic portion of the king's subjects; and he thought the guardians of the Constitution in the House[306] of Commons must have been asleep when they allowed such a measure to pass. Lord Eldon, too, who was passionately fond of shooting, had his Conservative instincts aroused almost as much by the proposal to abolish the monopoly of killing hares and pheasants, as by the measure for admitting Roman Catholics into Parliament. The Bill was read a second time, by a majority of ten; but more strenuous exertions were called forth by the division, and the third reading of this Bill to mitigate an iniquitous system was rejected by a majority of two. Lord Eldon's familiarity with the principles of equity did not enable him to see the wrong of inflicting damage to the amount of £500,000 a year on the tenant farmers of the country, by the depredations of wild animals, which they were not permitted to kill, and for the destruction caused by which they received no compensation.The events that followed form part of the general history of that time. The Government well knew that they were more popular in the country than their opponents. In the few days that succeeded, during which men were doubtful if they would resign, the Minister had had time to feel the power of that popularity, and the value of the support of the Free Trade party. To satisfy the selfish expectations of the more bigoted of his own supporters must have seemed to him more and more helpless. To break with them, and to look elsewhere for the support which their vindictiveness would inevitably render necessary—to become less a leader of a class, and more a statesman seeking the true foundations of power in a steady regard to the welfare of the great bulk of the community—were ideas naturally present to the Minister's mind. When he met Parliament again to announce the determination of the Government to ask the House to reconsider its decision, his tone was observed to be more bitter than before. His allusions to the defections of his own followers were significant; but they plainly indicated that his course was taken. "We cannot conceal from ourselves," he said, "that in respect to some of the measures we have proposed, and which have been supported, they have not met with that cordial assent and agreement from those for whose character and opinions we entertain the[514] highest and sincerest respect. But I am bound to say, speaking here of them with perfect respect, that we cannot invite their co-operation and support upon the present occasion by holding out expectations that we shall take a middle or other course with regard to those measures which we believe to be best for the interests of the country, and consistent with justice." This modest but firm defiance of the ultra-Protectionist party was not lost upon the Free Traders in the House; neither were the Minister's further remarks—"We have thought it desirable to relax the system of Protection, and admit into competition with articles of the domestic produce of this country articles from foreign lands. We have attempted to counsel the enforcement of principles which we believe to be founded in truth, and with every regard for existing institutions, and with every precaution to prevent embarrassment and undue alarm."

Austria gets ready for War—Napoleon's Preparations—Invasion of Bavaria by Austria—The Archduke Charles driven from Bavaria—Occupation of Vienna—Battle of Aspern—The Spirit of Revolt in Germany; Schill and Brunswick—Battle of Wagram—Peace of Vienna—Victories of the Tyrolese—Death of Hofer—The Betrayal of Poland and Italy—Deposition of the Pope—Ministerial Dissensions—Death of Portland, and Reconstruction of the Ministry—Inquiry into the Walcheren Expedition—Imprisonment of Gale Jones—Burdett committed to the Tower—The Piccadilly Riots—Arrest of Burdett—Debates in the House of Commons—Agitation for Parliamentary Reform—Liberation of Burdett—Remaining Events of the Session—Condition of Spain—Soult's victorious Progress—He fails at Cadiz—The Guerilla War—Massena sent against Wellington—Capture of Ciudad Rodrigo—Capitulation of Almeida—Battle of Busaco—The Lines of Torres Vedras—Massena baffled—Condition of the rival Armies—Victories in the East and West Indies—The War in Sicily.The Queen did not disturb the Administration which she found in office. The Premier, Lord Melbourne, who was now fifty-eight years old, had had much experience of public life. He had been Chief Secretary for Ireland, Home Secretary, and Prime Minister, to which position he had been called the second time, after the failure of Sir Robert Peel's Administration in the spring of 1835. The young Queen seems to have looked to his counsel with a sort of filial deference; and from the time of her accession to the close of his career he devoted himself to the important task of instructing and guiding his royal mistress in the discharge of her various official duties—a task of great delicacy, which he performed with so much ability and success as not only to win her gratitude, but to secure also the approbation of the country, and to disarm the hostility of political opponents. No royal pupil, it may be safely said, ever did more credit to a mentor than did Queen Victoria. For the time being, Lord Melbourne took up his residence at Windsor, and acted as the Queen's Secretary.

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And he celebrates the compass in equally imposing heroics—Mr. Villiers renewed his motion on the 26th of May, 1840, after the presentation of petitions in support of his views bearing a quarter of a million of signatures. These signs of the growth of public opinion had no effect upon the House. There was a fixed determination to give neither Mr. Villiers nor the petitioners a fair hearing. He was assailed with a volley of every kind of uncouth sounds. The Speaker's calls to order were utterly disregarded, and it was not until, losing patience, he commanded the bar to be cleared, and members to take their seats, that the advocate of Free Trade could be heard by the reporters. It was useless to carry on the discussion amid this deafening clamour. Lord John Russell weakly demanded what the Government could do when a majority of the House was against any alteration in the law, and said he would vote for the motion, but not with a view to total repeal, as his own opinion was in favour of a moderate fixed duty. The House again divided, when 300 members voted for the landlords' monopoly, against only 177 in favour of inquiry.

The year 1818 did not close without one more brush of war. This was in India. There had not been much quiet, even after the destruction of Tippoo Sultan and the power of Mysore. When the Earl of Moira (afterwards Marquis of Hastings) succeeded, as Governor-General, to Earl Minto, in 1813, he found the country still disturbed in different directions, particularly on the north-west frontiers. The Burmese engaged his immediate attention, and then the Nepaulese, who were not quietened till after two campaigns. But there was a far more troublesome enemy than either of these in the field. These were the Pindarrees, a multitude of horsemen made up of the scum of Hindostan—men who had either lost caste, or never had any—who formed themselves into flying bands, and with the swiftness of the wind rushed down on the cultivated districts, and swept all before them—cattle, sheep, money, jewels, everything that could be made prey of. The two most celebrated chiefs of the Pindarrees were Kureem and Cheetoo, but Cheetoo managed to put down Kureem, and became the one great and formidable head of these robbers. In 1811 he rode at the head of twenty-five thousand cavalry. In 1814, whilst our troops were engaged in Nepaul, the Pindarrees, under Cheetoo, crossed the Nerbudda, the Godavery, and advanced to the Kistnah, ravaging the whole of the Deccan and the neighbouring territories; and in spite of our forces under Major Frazer in one direction, and Colonel Doveton in another, they effected their retreat across the Nerbudda again, loaded with enormous booty. In 1816 they made a still more extensive incursion, ten thousand of them descending into the Madras Presidency as far as Guntoor, and though Colonel Doveton exerted himself to come up with them, it was in vain. In twelve days Cheetoo's marauders had plundered three hundred and ninety villages in the Company's territory, put to death one hundred and eighty-two people, wounded five hundred and five, and tortured in various ways three thousand six hundred.The Spanish junta sent an officer to Lisbon to consult with General Caraffa, the commander of the Spanish auxiliaries, on the best means of withdrawing the troops from that city. Caraffa, who was an Italian, did not seem to fall into the proposal; but this was of less consequence, for his men took the liberty of deserting, first in small numbers and secretly, but soon by a whole regiment at a time, and openly. Junot sent out six hundred men to stop them; but they attacked, killed, and wounded nearly half the detachment, and pursued their march. General Bellesta, who commanded the Spanish troops at Oporto, seized the French general, Quesnel, who had but a small number of men, and marched away for Corunna, carrying Quesnel and his few soldiers prisoners with him. No sooner were the Spaniards gone, however, than the cowardly governor of Oporto put down the rising and declared for the French. But the fire of revolt was flying too fast all over the kingdom for this to succeed. In a few days the people rose again, seized on the arsenal, and armed themselves. They were encouraged by the monks, who rang their bells to call the people out, and by the bishops, who blessed the banners, and offered up public prayers for the enfranchisement of the country in the cathedrals. There was a similarly successful outbreak at Braganza. From one end of the country to the other the rising was complete and enthusiastic. Deputies were dispatched to England to solicit assistance and arms. For a time Junot managed to keep down the population of Lisbon by collecting troops into it, seizing, altogether, four thousand five hundred of the Spaniards, and making them prisoners. Alarmed, however, at his position, and fearing to move any of his forces from the capital, he ordered Loison, who lay at the fortress of Almeida, on the frontiers, to march to Oporto, and suppress the revolt; but General Silviera, a Portuguese nobleman, put himself at the head of the armed population, and successfully defended Oporto. At Beja, Leiria, Evora, and other places, the French managed to put down the insurgents, but not without much bloodshed and severe military executions. But the hour of retribution was fast approaching. Spanish as well as Portuguese deputies appeared in London soliciting aid. They did not ask for men; for, in the pride of their temporary success, they imagined themselves amply able to drive out the French; but they asked for arms, clothes, and ammunition; and they prayed that an army might be sent to Portugal, which would act as a powerful diversion in their favour.

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