FIVE-SHILLING PIECE OF THE SOUTH SEA COMPANY. In 1823 we behold the starting-point of the liberal system of commercial policy, for which not only England, but all the world, is so much indebtedthe rivulet which gradually expanded into a mighty river bearing incalculable blessings upon its bosom to every nation under heaven. The appointment of Mr. Huskisson as a member of the Government was an immense advantage to the nation. He was a man of great abilities, which he had perseveringly devoted to the study of political economy. He was a complete master of all subjects in which statistics were involved, and was universally looked up to as the highest authority on all financial and commercial questions. As President of the Board of Trade he had ample opportunities of turning his knowledge to account, and to him is mainly due the initiation and direction of the course of commercial policy which a quarter of a century later issued in the complete triumph of Free Trade. Mr. Huskisson was not only intimately acquainted with the whole range of economic, financial, and mercantile subjects, in their details as well as in their principles, he was also a powerful debater, a sound reasoner, and was animated in all he did by a spirit of generous philanthropy. At the same time it is only just to point out that he did but carry out the policy of Mr. Wallace, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, a statesman whose name is almost forgotten.


At the close of the Session of 1837 an earnest desire was expressed by the leaders of both parties in the House for an amicable adjustment of two great Irish questions which had been pending for a long time, and had excited considerable ill-feeling, and wasted much of the time of the Legislaturenamely, the Irish Church question, and the question of Corporate Reform. The Conservatives were disposed to compromise the matter, and to get the Municipal Reform Bill passed through the Lords, provided the Ministry abandoned the celebrated Appropriation Clause, which would devote any surplus revenue of the Church Establishment, not required for the spiritual care of its members, to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion; providing for the resumption of such surplus, or any part of it, as might be required, by an increase in the numbers of the members of the Established Church. The result of this understanding was the passing of the Tithe Bill. But there were some little incidents of party warfare connected with these matters, which may be noticed here as illustrative of the temper of the times. On the 14th of May Sir Thomas Acland brought forward a resolution for rescinding the Appropriation Clause. This Lord John Russell regarded as a breach of faith. He said that the present motion was not in accordance with the Duke of Wellington's declared desire to see the Irish questions brought to a final settlement. Sir Robert Peel, however, made a statement to show that the complaint of Lord John Russell about being overreached, was without a shadow of foundation. The noble lord's conduct he declared to be without precedent. He called upon Parliament to come to the discussion of a great question, upon a motion which he intended should be the foundation of the final settlement of that question; and yet, so ambiguous was his language, that it was impossible to say what was[451] or was not the purport of his scheme. Sir Thomas Acland's motion for rescinding the Appropriation resolution was rejected by a majority of 19, the numbers being 317 and 298. On the following day Lord John Russell gave Sir Robert Peel distinctly to understand that the Tithe measure would consist solely of a proposition that the composition then existing should be converted into a rent charge. On the 29th of the same month, Lord John Russell having moved that the House should go into committee on the Irish Municipal Bill, Sir Robert Peel gave his views at length on the Irish questions, which were now taken up in earnest, with a view to their final settlement. The House of Commons having disposed of the Corporation Bill, proceeded on the 2nd of July to consider Lord John Russell's resolutions on the Church question. But Mr. Ward, who was strong on that question, attacked the Government for their abandonment of the Appropriation Clause. He concluded by moving a series of resolutions reaffirming the appropriation principle. His motion was rejected by a majority of 270 to 46. The House then went into committee, and in due course the Irish Tithe Bill passed into law, and the vexed Church question was settled for a quarter of a century. The Municipal Bill, however, was once more mutilated by Lord Lyndhurst, who substituted a 10 for a 5 valuation. The amendment was rejected by the Commons, but the Lords stood firmly by their decision, and a conference between the two Houses having failed to settle the question, the measure was abandoned. In these events the Ministry had incurred much disrepute.

France and England being already agreed, independently of the consent of the rest of the Allies, the conference began on a basis which was sure to lead to immediate confusion and contention. The Dutch plenipotentiaries were astonished to see the different tone displayed by the French ambassadors. They were no longer the humble personages that they had been at Gertruydenberg. The Abb Polignac, who was the chief speaker, assumed a high and confident manner. The French envoys, therefore, when the Dutch deputies demanded that the treaty should be carried out on the basis of the terms offered at Gertruydenberg, told them plainly that matters were now quite altered, and that the conditions offered at Gertruydenberg could not be entertained by France at all, but those to which the Queen of England had agreed in London; that unless the Dutch were willing to treat on these conditions, they would find their allies concluding peace without them, and that on the spot. The chief article to which the Allies objected was the concession of Spain to Philip; and they were the more resolute because it had become imminently necessary from changes that had now taken place in France. The Dauphin had died of the smallpox during the last year. The title had been conferred on his son, the Duke of Burgundy; but the Duke of Burgundy had just expired, too, in the sixth year of his age; and of the Dauphin's children there only now remained the Duke of Anjou, a sickly child of two years old. This child was the only remaining obstacle to Philip, the King of Spain, mounting the throne of France. The danger was so obvious of the union of France and Spain in a very few yearsto prevent which had been the object of the warthat the English Government was compelled to demand from Philip a distinct renunciation of all claims on the French Crown, and from France as distinct a one in the treaty that any such claim should be resisted. St. John entered into a correspondence with De Torcy, the French minister, on this point; and the answers of De Torcy must have shown the English Government how useless it was to attempt to bind Frenchmen on such matters. He replied that any renunciation on the part of Philip or any French prince would be utterly null and void according to the laws; that on the king's death the next heir male of the royal blood succeeded, independently of any disposition or restriction of the late king, or any will of the people, or of himself, even; that he was, by the laws of France, sovereign by right of succession, and must be so, in spite of any circumstances to the contrary; that neither himself, the throne, nor the people had anything to do with it, but to obey the constitution. Therefore, even if Philip did bind himself to renounce the Crown of France, should the present Dauphin die, he would be king, independently of any circumstances whatever. Another expedient, however, was proposed by the English ministry, who must have seen clearly enough the folly of their treating on such hollow ground. That was, if Philip did not like to renounce the Crown of France, he should at once quit the throne of Spain, and agree that the Duke of Savoy should take it and the Indies, surrendering his own territories to Philip, to which should be added Naples, Sicily, Montserrat, and Mantua, all of which, whenever Philip succeeded to the French Crown, should be annexed to France, with the exception of Sicily, which should be made over to Austria. Louis XIV. professed to be delighted with this arrangement, but Philip would not listen to it, showing plainly that he meant, notwithstanding any renunciation, to retain his claim to both France and Spain. [See larger version]

An armistice was arranged with Piedmont, which lasted throughout the autumn and winter. The events at Rome and the flight of the Pope had meanwhile greatly altered the position of the Italian question; and the revolutionary spirit was so strong that Charles Albert found it impossible to resist the demand of his people for a renewal of hostilities. "I must restore war," he said, "or abdicate the crown and see a republic established." He opened his Parliament in person on the 1st of January, 1849, when he delivered a lengthy speech, in which he fully expounded his policy. He invited the nation to co-operate in the great struggle which was impending. In January, the Sardinian Prime Minister, M. Gioberti, addressed a protest to the foreign Powers, in which he stated that though the suspension of hostilities agreed to on the 5th of August, 1848, was productive of fatal political consequences, Sardinia had faithfully observed the agreement, while Austria had disregarded her promises, and exhibited nothing but bad faith. She had pursued an iniquitous system of spoliation. Under the name of extraordinary war contributions her fleet seized Italian vessels navigating the Adriatic. She had put to death persons whose safety was guaranteed by the law of nations. She had violated the most sacred compacts in a manner unparalleled in the annals of civilised nations. Gioberti, however, who was obnoxious to the republican party, was compelled to resign. On the 24th of February the new Ministry[586] issued a programme of its policy, and on the 14th of March M. Ratazzi, Minister of the Interior, announced to the Chamber of Deputies the expiration of the armistice, declaring that no honourable peace with Austria could be expected unless won by arms. War would, of course, have its perils; but between those perils and the shame of an ignominious peace, which would not insure Italian independence, the king's Government could not hesitate. Consequently, he stated that, two days before, a special messenger had been sent to Radetzky, announcing the termination of the armistice. He was perhaps justified by the declaration of the Austrian envoy to London, Count Colloredo, that Austria would not enter into any sort of conference unless she was assured that no cession of territory would be required. The king, meanwhile, had joined the army as a general officer, commanding the brigade in Savoy. The nominal strength of his army at that time was 135,000 men; but the muster-roll on the 20th of March showed only about 84,000 effective troops, including 5,000 cavalry, with 150 guns. Radetzky had under his command an army equal in number, but far superior in equipment and discipline. He at once broke Charles Albert's lines; drove him to retreat upon Novara, where he utterly defeated him. Abdication only remained for the king, and his son, Victor Emmanuel, concluded peace on terms dictated by Austria. The King of Sardinia was to disband ten military corps composed of Hungarians, Poles, and Lombards. Twenty thousand Austrian troops were to occupy the territory between the Po, the Ticino, and the Sesia, and to form one half of the garrison of Alessandria, consisting of 6,000 men, a mixed military committee to provide for the maintenance of the Austrian troops. The Sardinians were to evacuate the duchies of Modena, Piacenza, and Tuscany. The Piedmontese in Venice were to return home, and the Sardinian fleet, with all the steamers, was to quit the Adriatic. In addition to these stipulations, Sardinia was to indemnify Austria for the whole cost of the war. These terms were accepted with great reluctance by the Piedmontese Government, and with even more reluctance by the Genoese, who revolted, and had to be suppressed by the royal troops. There only needed now one thing to render the expedition triumphant, and place the Hudson from Albany to New York in the absolute power of the British armythat General Howe should have been prepared to keep the appointment[242] there with a proper fleet and armed force. But Howe was engaged in the campaign of Philadelphia, and seems to have been utterly incapable of conducting two such operations as watching Washington and supporting Burgoyne. As soon as Burgoyne discovered this fatal want of co-operation on the part of Howe, he ought to have retreated to the lakes, but he still determined to advance; and before doing so, he only awaited the coming up of the artillery and baggage under General Philips, and of Colonel St. Leger, who had been dispatched by the course of the Oswego, the Oneida Lake, and Wood Creek, and thence by the Mohawk river, which falls into the Hudson between Saratoga and Albany. St. Leger had two hundred regularsSir John Johnson's Royal Queen's and Canadian Rangerswith him, and a body of Indians under Brandt. St. Leger, on his way, had laid siege to Fort Schuyler, late Fort Stanwix, near the head of the Mohawk. General Herkimer raised the militia of Tryon county, and advanced to the relief of the place.