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Much opposition was excited by the part of Mr. Stanley's letter to the Duke of Leinster which spoke of "encouraging" the clergy to give religious instruction, and requiring the attendance of the scholars at their respective places of worship on Sunday to be registered by the schoolmaster. This was treading on religious ground, and committing both Protestants and Catholics to the actual support of what they mutually deemed[359] false. But the Government were driven to this course by the cry of "infidelity" and "atheism" which the new plan encountered as soon as it was proposed in Parliament. Explanations were afterwards issued by authority, showing that the "encouragement" of religious instruction meant only granting "facility of access" to the children out of school hours, not "employing or remunerating" the teachers. The Commissioners very properly treated the Bible as a book for religious instruction; but so far from offering the sacred volume an "indignity," or "forbidding" its use, they said: "To the religious instructors of the children they cheerfully leave, in communicating instruction, the use of the sacred volume itself, as containing those doctrines and precepts a knowledge of which must lie at the foundation of all true religion." To obviate every cavil, however, as far as possible, without departing from the fundamental principle of the Board, it was arranged that the Bible might be read at any hour of the day, provided the time was distinctly specified, so that there should be no suspicion of a desire to take advantage of the presence of Roman Catholics. This satisfied the Presbyterians, who nearly all placed their schools in connection with the Board. But the great body of the Established clergy continued for some time afterwards hostile, having put forward the Church Education Society as a rival candidate for Parliamentary recognition and support. Its committee declared that the national system was "essentially defective" in permitting the Catholic children to refuse the Bible. They said this permission "involves a practical indignity to the Word of God," and that it was "carrying into effect the discipline of the Church of Rome, in restricting the use of the inspired writings." This was the grand charge against the Board, the vital point in the controversy.On the 3rd of February Mr. Darby brought forward a motion that the sheriffs should be discharged from the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms. This gave rise to a long and animated debate. The Attorney-General opposed the motion, contending that until they made their submission the House could not dismiss them with due regard to its dignity. Sir William Follett replied to the arguments of the Attorney-General, and was answered by the Solicitor-General. The debate was adjourned, and was resumed on the 7th. At its conclusion the House divided on the question that the sheriffs be discharged, which was negatived by a majority of 71. On the 12th Mr. Sheriff Wheelton was discharged on account of ill-health, a motion for the release of the other sheriff having been rejected.

The name of the prisoner was Edward Oxford. He was about eighteen years of age, and of an[472] unprepossessing countenance. He was a native of Birmingham, which town he had left nine years before. He was last employed at a public-house, "The Hog in the Pond," at the corner of South Molton Street and Oxford Street. His trial for high treason was begun in the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, July 9th, and ended next day. The judges were Lord Denman, Baron Alderson, and Justice Patteson. The jury returned the following special verdict:—"We find the prisoner, Edward Oxford, guilty of discharging the contents of two pistols, but whether or not they were loaded with ball has not been satisfactorily proved to us, he being of unsound mind at the time." An argument followed between counsel as to whether this verdict amounted to an absolute acquittal, or an acquittal on the ground of insanity. Lord Denman said that the jury were in a mistake. It was necessary that they should form an opinion as to whether the pistols were loaded with bullets or not; but it appeared they had not applied their minds to that point, and therefore it would be necessary that they should again retire, and say aye or no. Did the prisoner fire a pistol loaded with ball at the Queen? After considerable discussion upon the point, the jury again retired to consider their verdict. During their absence the question was again argued, and it appeared to be the opinion of the judges that the jury were bound to return a verdict of "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" upon the evidence brought before them. After an absence of an hour they returned into court, finding the prisoner "guilty, he being at the same time insane." The sentence was that he should be imprisoned during her Majesty's pleasure, according to the Act 40 George III., providing for cases where crimes were committed by insane persons.[See larger version]

Meanwhile, Frederick of Prussia was waging a tremendous war with France, Russia, and Austria. To disable Austria before her allies could come up to her aid, he suddenly, in April, made an eruption into Bohemia. His army threaded the defiles of the mountains of the Bohemian frontier in different divisions, and united before Prague, where Marshal Braun and Prince Charles of Lorraine met him with eighty thousand men, his own forces amounting to about seventy thousand. A most obstinate and sanguinary conflict took place, which continued from nine in the morning till eight at night, in which twenty-four thousand Austrians were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, and eighteen thousand Prussians. The Prussians were destitute of pontoons to cross the Moldau, or their writers contend that not an Austrian would have escaped. But Marshal Daun advancing out of Moravia with another[128] strong army, to which sixteen thousand of the fugitives from Prague had united themselves, Frederick was compelled to abandon the siege of Prague, and march to near Kolin, where he was thoroughly defeated by Daun, with a loss of thirteen thousand of his bravest troops."Royal Highness,—A victim to the factions which distract my country, and to the enmity of the greatest Powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career, and I come, like Themistocles, to throw myself on the hospitality of the British people. I put myself under the protection of their laws, which I claim from your Royal Highness, as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies.

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She continued till nearly the last to hide from the surgeons the real cause of her sufferings, and was treated by the medical men for gout in the stomach. When the secret was at length disclosed, it was too late; though one of the surgeons declared that, if they had been informed two days earlier, they could have saved her.The downfall of the French monarchy was the cause, more or less directly, of a series of Continental revolutions, but Spain was less affected by the flight of the monarch who had exerted so baneful an influence upon its policy and its Royal Family than might have been anticipated. Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer was then British Minister at Madrid, and Lord Palmerston was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He evidently expected another revolution in Spain, as appears from a remarkable despatch which he addressed to Sir Henry. Its tone was certainly rather dictatorial, and it is not much wonder that it fired the pride of the Spanish Government. The noble lord wrote as follows:—"Sir,—I have to recommend you to advise the Spanish Government to adopt a legal and constitutional system. The recent downfall of the King of the French and of his family, and the expulsion of his Ministers, ought to indicate to the Spanish Court and Government the danger to which they expose themselves in endeavouring to govern a country in a manner opposed to the sentiments and opinions of the nation; and the catastrophe which has just occurred in France is sufficient to show that even a numerous and well-disciplined army offers only an insufficient means of defence to the Crown, when the system followed by it is not in harmony with the general system of the country. The Queen of Spain would act wisely, in the present critical state of affairs, if she were to strengthen her executive Government, by widening the basis on which the administration reposes, and in calling to her councils some of the men in whom the Liberal party places confidence."The excitement was kept up during the summer and autumn by meetings held in various places, and the arrest of persons taking a prominent part in the proceedings. On the 4th of August there was an evening meeting at Manchester held in Stephenson's Square, when about 5,000 persons attended. The object was to determine whether "the sacred month" should commence on the 12th of August or not. Mr. Butterworth, who moved the first resolution, said he considered that the Chartists of 1839 were the Whigs of 1832, and the Whigs of 1839 were the Tories of 1832. The Whigs were more violent then than the Chartists now, and yet the Whigs were the very men to punish the Chartists. During the meeting persons[458] in the crowd continued to discharge firearms. There was, however, no disturbance of the public peace.

The French allowed the retreating Allies no rest. There was no want of men. The Convention, by the menace of the guillotine at home, and the promises of plunder and licence abroad, could raise any number of thousands of men, could find millions of money, and they had not a single feeling of humanity, as the streaming axes of the executioners all over the country showed. They could also fight and daunt their enemies by the same unhesitating ferocity. They had long published to all their armies that no quarter was to be given to British or Hanoverians—they were to be massacred to a man; and they now sent word to the fortresses of Valenciennes, Condé, Quesnoy, and Landrecies, that unless the garrisons surrendered every soul on their being taken should be butchered. The fortresses were immediately surrendered, for the menace was backed by one hundred and fifty thousand men—the combined troops of Pichegru and Jourdain. Besides, the fortresses in the hands of the Allies were so badly supplied both with ammunition and stores, that they were but dens of famine and impotence. On the 5th of July Ghent opened its gates to the French; on the 9th the French entered Brussels, having driven the Duke of Coburg out of his entrenchments in the wood of Soignies, near which the battle of Waterloo was afterwards fought. They next attacked the Duke of York and Lord Moira at Mechlin, and after a sharp conflict drove them thence. The very next day Clairfait was defeated and obliged to abandon both Louvain and Liége. General Beaulieu was driven out of Namur, solely because he had no provisions there for his army, though otherwise the place could have made a long defence. The Duke of York was compelled to abandon the strong and important citadel of Antwerp from the same cause, and to cross the Scheldt into Dutch territory, leaving the French to make their triumphant entry into Antwerp on the 23rd of July. Such was the brilliant campaign of the French in the[435] Netherlands in the summer of 1794—such the ignominious defeat of the Allies, with an army of two hundred thousand men. Pitt, however, bravely struggled to keep up the Coalition. A loan of four million pounds was granted to Austria. At the same time, in addition to the Hessian soldiers engaged, the Duke of Brunswick, the king's relative, was to furnish two thousand two hundred and eighty-nine men on the same liberal terms, and was himself to have an annual allowance of sixteen thousand pounds sterling.[See larger version]Amid this melancholy manifestation of a convicted, yet dogged, treason against the people on the part of their rulers, many motions for reform and improvements in our laws were brought forward. On the part of Mr. Sturges Bourne, a committee brought in a report recommending three Bills for the improvement of the Poor Law: one for the establishment of select vestries, one for a general reform of the Poor Law, and one for revising the Law of Settlement. On the part of Henry Brougham, a Bill was introduced for appointment of commissioners to inquire into the condition of the charities in England for the education of the poor. There were many attempts to reform the Criminal Law, in which Sir Samuel Romilly especially exerted himself. One of these was to take away the penalty of death from the offence of stealing from a shop to the value of five shillings, another was to prevent arrests for libel before indictment was found, and another, by Sir James Mackintosh, to inquire into the forgery of Bank of England notes. There was a Bill brought in by Mr. Wynn to amend the Election Laws; and one for alterations in the Law of Tithes, by Mr. Curwen; another by Sir Robert Peel, father of the great statesman, for limiting the hours of labour in cotton and other factories; a Bill to amend the Law of Bankruptcy, and a Bill to amend the Copyright Act, by Sir Egerton Brydges; and finally a Bill for Parliamentary Reform, introduced by Sir Francis Burdett, and supported by Lord Cochrane, subsequently the Earl of Dundonald. All of these were thrown out, except the select Vestries Bill, Brougham's Bill to inquire into the public charities, a Bill for rewarding apprehenders of highway robbers and other offenders, and a Bill granting a million of money to build new churches. The cause of Reform found little encouragement from the Parliamentary majorities of the Sidmouths, Liverpools, and Castlereaghs. This list of rejections of projects of reform was far from complete; a long succession followed. The Scots came with a vigorous demand, made on their behalf by Lord Archibald Hamilton, for a sweeping reform of their burghs. Municipal reform was equally needed, both in Scotland and England. The whole system was flagrantly corrupt. Many boroughs were sinking into bankruptcy; and the elections of their officers were conducted on the most arbitrary and exclusive principles. The Scots had agitated this question before the outbreak of the French Revolution, but that and the great war issuing out of it had swamped the agitation altogether. It was now revived, but only to meet with a defeat like a score of other measures quite as needful. Lord Archibald Hamilton asked for the abolition of the Scottish Commissary Courts in conformity with the recommendation of a commission of inquiry in 1808; General Thornton called for the repeal of certain religious declarations to be made on taking office; and Dr. Phillimore for amendment of the Marriage Act of 1753; and numerous demands for the repeal of taxes of one kind or another all met the same fate of refusal.

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But this prosperity lay only on the surface, and scarcely even there or anywhere but in the pride and lying assertions of Buonaparte. If we contemplate merely the map of Europe, the mighty expanse of the French empire seemed to occupy nearly the whole of it, and to offer an awful spectacle of one man's power. This empire, so rapidly erected, had absorbed Holland, Belgium, part of Switzerland—for the Valais was united to France,—a considerable part of Germany, with Austria and Prussia diminished and trembling at the haughty usurper. Italy was also made part of the great French realm, and a fierce struggle was going on for the incorporation of Spain and Portugal. From Travemünde on the Baltic to the foot of the Pyrenees, from the port of Brest to Terracina on the confines of Neapolitan territory, north and south, east and west, extended this gigantic empire. Eight hundred thousand square miles, containing eighty-five millions of people, were either the direct subjects or the vassals of France. The survey was enough to inflate the pride of the conqueror, who had begun his wonderful career as a lieutenant of artillery. But this vast dominion had been compacted by too much violence, and in outrage to too many human interests, to remain united, or to possess real strength, even for the present. The elements of dissolution were already actively at work in it. The enormous drafts of men to supply the wars by which the empire had been created had terribly exhausted France. This drain, still kept up by the obstinate resistance of Spain and Portugal, necessitated conscription on conscription, and this on the most enormous scale. The young men were annually dragged from the towns, villages, and fields, from amid their weeping and despairing relatives, to recruit the profuse destruction in the armies, and there scarcely remained, all over France, any but mere boys to continue the trade and agriculture of the country, assisted by old men, and women. Beyond the boundaries of France, the populations of subdued and insulted nations were watching for the opportunity to rise and resume their rights. In Germany they were encouraging each other to prepare for the day of retribution; and in numerous places along the coasts bands of smugglers kept up a continual warfare with the French officers of the customs, to introduce British manufactures. The contributions which had been levied in Holland and the Hanse Towns before they were incorporated in the Gallic empire were now not readily collected in the shape of taxes. Beyond the Continent ceased the power of Napoleon; over all seas and colonies reigned his invincible enemy, Great Britain. There was scarcely a spot the wide world over where the French flag, or those of the nations whom he had crushed into an odious alliance, waved on which Great Britain had not now planted her colours. She cut off all colonial supplies, except what she secretly sold to his subjects in defiance of his system. She was now victoriously bearing up his enemies in Spain,[21] Portugal, and Sicily against him, and encouraging Russia, Sweden, Prussia, and Austria to expect the day of his final overthrow. There was scarcely a man of any penetration who expected that this vast and unwieldy government could continue to exist a single day after him who had compelled it into union, rather than life; but, perhaps, none suspected how suddenly it would collapse. Yet the very birth of a son was rather calculated to undermine than to perpetuate it. His great generals, who had risen as he had risen, were suspected of looking forward, like those of Alexander of Macedon, to each seizing a kingdom for himself when the chief marauder should fall. It was certain that they had long been at enmity amongst themselves—a cause of weakness to his military operations, which was especially marked in Spain.Sir John Moore was left in a most critical situation. All those fine armies, which were to have enfranchised Spain without his assistance, were scattered as so much mist; but this he only knew partly. He knew enough, however, to induce him to determine on a retreat into Portugal, and there to endeavour to make a stand against the French. He wrote to Sir David Baird and Sir John Hope—both of them still at a great distance—to retreat too: Sir David, with his division, to fall back on Corunna, and then sail to Lisbon to meet him; Sir John to await him at Ciudad Rodrigo. Had Moore carried out this plan whilst Buonaparte and his troops were[568] engaged with the army of Casta?os, and with Madrid, his fate might have been very different. But here again he was the victim of false information. Mr. Frere, who seems to have really known nothing of what was going on, and to have believed anything, wrote to him from Aranjuez, on the 30th of November, protesting against his retreat, and assuring him that he had nothing to do but to advance to Madrid, and save Spain. He expressed his most unbounded faith in the valour and success of the Spaniards. He talked to Moore of repulsing the French before they collected their reinforcements. On reflecting on the statements of Mr. Frere, Sir John concluded that Madrid was still holding out, and thought it his duty to proceed to its rescue. He was joined, on the 6th of December, by Hope and the artillery, and he wrote again to Sir David Baird to countermand his retreat, and order him to come up with dispatch. Thus precious time was lost, and it was not till the 9th that he was undeceived. He had sent Colonel Graham to Madrid with a reply to Morla, and to procure intelligence of the real state of affairs. Graham now came back with the alarming and astonishing truth that the French were in Madrid; that it had held out only one day. It is strange that Sir John did not instantly commence his retreat; but he was still misled by false accounts of the strength of the French, and actually resolved to proceed to Madrid. On the 11th he sent forward his cavalry, under General Stewart, when they came upon the advanced post of the enemy occupying the village of Rueda. It was but about eighty men, infantry and cavalry. They were quickly surrounded by the British dragoons, and the whole killed or taken prisoners. On the 14th, an intercepted letter of Berthier to Soult fell into Moore's hands, by which he learned that various French divisions were moving down upon him, and that Soult was in advance. He thought that he might meet and beat Soult before the other divisions arrived, and he therefore, after sending a dispatch to General Baird to warn him of Soult's approach, crossed the Tordesillas, and continued his march as far as Mayorga, where he was joined by Sir David Baird and Sir John Hope, so that his army now amounted to twenty-three thousand five hundred and eighty on the spot. He had other regiments in Portugal and on the road, making up his total to thirty-five thousand.

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These godless atrocities, these enormous murders, beyond all historic precedent, proclaimed a people which had renounced God as well as humanity; and they soon proceeded to avow this fact, and to establish it by formal decree. In their rage for destroying everything old, there was nothing that escaped them. They altered the mode of computing time, and no longer used the Gregorian calendar, but dated all deeds from the first year of Liberty, which they declared to have commenced on the 22nd of September, 1792. The next and greatest achievement was to dethrone the Almighty, and erect the Goddess of Reason in His place. Under the auspices of the Goddess of Reason they did a very unreasonable thing: they deprived all working people and all working animals of one rest-day in every month. Instead of having the four weeks and four Sundays in a month, they[426] decimalised the months, dividing them each into three decades, or terms of ten days each, so that there were only three rest-days, instead of four, in the month.

On the 10th of April, when Mr. Canning kissed hands as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, he found himself deserted by the Duke of Wellington, Lord Eldon, Mr. Peel, Lords Bathurst, Melville, and Westmoreland. The members of the Cabinet who finally adhered to him were Lord Harrowby, Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Wynne, and Mr. Robinson, afterwards Lord Goderich, who had become Secretary of the Colonial Department, with the lead of the Government in the House of Lords. Having received the resignations, and presented them to the king, Mr. Canning said:—"Here, sire, is that which disables me from executing the orders I have received from you respecting the formation of a new Administration. It is now open to your Majesty to adopt a new course; for no step has yet been taken in the execution of those orders that is irrecoverable." He added, that if he was to go on, his writ must be moved for that day, which was the last before the Easter recess. The king at once gave him his hand to kiss, and confirmed the appointment. Two hours afterwards the House was ringing with acclamations while Mr. Wynne was moving that a new writ be issued for the borough of Newport in consequence of the Right Honourable George Canning having accepted the office of First Lord of the Treasury. This was a result which Lord Eldon did not anticipate. He evidently expected that Canning would be foiled in his attempt to form a Ministry. He wrote, "Who could have thought it? I guess that I, Wellington, Peel, Bathurst, Westmoreland, and C. will be out." Again he says, "The whole conversation in town is made up of abusive, bitterly abusive, talk of people about each other—all fire and flame. I have known nothing like it." Elsewhere he remarks, "I think political enmity runs higher and waxes warmer than I ever knew it."

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