On the return of the king and Carteret, Parliament was opened on the 1st of December. The first trial of the Opposition was on the Address, on which occasion its real strength was not called forth, and this was carried by two hundred and seventy-eight votes against one hundred and forty-nine. But the subject of Hanoverian troops and Hanoverian measures soon displayed its extent and virulence. There was a vehement feeling against everything relating to Hanover, and Pitt lost no time in denouncing Carteret and his measures in the most bitter terms. Pitt's thunder was echoed by others, and the scene in the Commons was described by a spectator as like nothing but a tumultuous Polish Diet. Such was the ferment amid which opened the year 1744, and it soon became evident that the existence of the country was at stake. Preparations had been making for the invasion of England for some time. Cardinal Tencin, the new French Minister, sent Murray of Broughton to James in Rome, to desire him to send his eldest son, Prince Charles, to France to be in readiness for the campaign[87] in England, and in due course the Young Pretender arrived at Gravelines. Wellington arrived early in the forenoon at Quatre Bras, and then rode to Brie, to consult with Blucher. It appeared as if it was the intention of Buonaparte to bear down with his whole force on Blucher; and though Bulow's division, stationed between Lige and Hainault, was too far off to arrive in time, Blucher resolved to stand battle; and it was agreed that Wellington should, if possible, march to his assistance, and vice versa, should the attack be on Wellington. Ney, with a division of forty-five thousand, attacked the British at Quatre Bras and Frasnes, whilst Napoleon directed the rest of his force on Blucher at Ligny, and General D'Erlon lay with ten thousand men near Marchiennes, to act in favour of either French force, as might be required. Buonaparte did not attack Blucher till about three o'clock, and then he continued the battle with the utmost fury for two hours along his whole line. Buonaparte, finding that he could not break the Prussian line, sent for the division of D'Erlon, and then, contriving to get into the rear of Blucher's position at Ligny, threw the Prussians into disorder. Blucher made a desperate charge, at the head of his cavalry, to repel the French, but his horse was killed under him; and the French cuirassiers galloped over him, a Prussian officer having flung a cloak over him. He escaped with his life, and, remounting, led the retreat towards Tilly. The loss of the French in this battle is stated by General Gourgaud at seven thousand, but is supposed to exceed ten thousand. The Prussians admit the loss of as many, but the French declared that they lost fifteen thousand. It was, however, a severe blow for the Allies; and had Ney managed to defeat Wellington, the consequences would have been momentous. But Ney found that the British had evacuated Frasnes that morning, and lay across four roads at Quatre Brasone leading to St. Amand, the Prussian position. On another, leading from Charleroi to Brussels, was a wood, called the Bois de Bossu; and here the attack commenced on the Belgians. The wood was sharply contested, and about three o'clock the Belgians were driven out by the French, who, in their turn, were expelled by the British Guards. The battle then became general and severe, the 42nd Highlanders suffering greatly. Ney endeavoured to cut through the British by a furious charge of cavalry; but this was repelled by such a deadly fire as heaped the causeway with men and horses. Ney then sent for the division of D'Erlon, but that had been already summoned by Buonaparte. The battle was continued till it was dark, and the British remained on the field, hoping that the Prussians had also maintained their ground, and that they might form a junction in the morning. But the Prussians had retreated in the night to Wavre, about six leagues in the rear of Ligny, and had gone off in such silence that Napoleon was not even aware of it. But Wellington was aware of it, and, on the morning of the 17th, began a retreat also on Waterloo, where he and Blucher had concerted to form a junction and give battle. Blucher had made his retreat so artfully, that the French were at a loss to know which way he had taken. It appeared as if he had directed his march for Namur, and about three o'clock on the 17th Grouchy received orders to pursue Blucher, wherever he might have gone. This dispatch of Grouchy with thirty-two thousand men to deal with Blucher proved a serious mistake for Napoleon, who, not having Grouchy's division to support him at the battle of Waterloo, severely blamed him, and charged his own defeat upon him. But it was the ungenerous practice of Buonaparte, whenever he was defeated, to charge it upon some of his generals, even when they had been acting most meritoriously. This he did in Russia, and this he repeated in the retreat on Paris in 1814, and this we shall find him doing again in the battle of Waterloo, to the undaunted and indefatigable Ney. Grouchy has shown satisfactorily that he himself first brought to Napoleon the news of Blucher's retreat, and requested orders to pursue him with his cavalry, but that he could not obtain such order till noon on the 17th, and then the order was to follow him wherever he went. We shall soon see that Thielemann, by Blucher's orders, kept Grouchy well employed, and took care to prevent his return to Waterloo.

On the 20th of January a Bill was introduced to the House of Lords for the naturalisation of the Prince. By this Act, which passed the next day through the House of Commons, the Prince was declared already exempt, by an Act passed in the sixth year of George IV., from the obligations that had previously bound all persons to receive the Lord's Supper within one month before exhibition of a Bill for their naturalisation. And the Bill was permitted to be read the second time without his having taken the oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, as required by an Act passed in the first year of George I. But on the second reading in the House of Lords the Duke of Wellington objected that it was not merely a Bill[468] for naturalising the Prince, but that it also contained a clause which would enable him, "during the term of his natural life, to take precedence in rank after her Majesty in Parliament, and elsewhere as her Majesty might think fit and proper," any law, statute, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding. The Duke of Wellington stated that as the title of the Bill said nothing about precedence, the House had not received due notice of its contents; he therefore moved the adjournment of the debate. Lord Melbourne remarked that the omission was purely accidental and, in his opinion, of no importance; at the same time he admitted that this Bill did differ in form from other similar Bills, as it gave the Queen power to bestow on Prince Albert a higher rank than was assigned to Prince George of Denmark, or to Prince Leopold. But the reason for the difference was to be found in the relative situation of the parties. Lord Brougham, however, pointed out a practical difficulty that might possibly arise. According to the proposed arrangement, if the Queen should die before there was any issue from the marriage, the King of Hanover would reign in this country, and his son would be Prince of Wales. Prince Albert would thus be placed in the anomalous position of a foreign naturalised Prince, the husband of a deceased Queen, with a higher rank than the Prince of Wales. Lord Londonderry decidedly objected to giving a foreign Prince precedence over the Blood Royal. In consequence of this difference of opinion the debate was adjourned till the following week, when the Lord Chancellor stated that he would propose that power should be given to the Crown to allow the Prince to take precedence next after any Heir Apparent to the Throne. Subsequently, however, Lord Melbourne expressed himself so anxious that it should pass with all possible expedition, that he would leave out everything about precedence, and make it a simple Naturalisation Bill, in which shape it immediately passed.

This was no idle threat; the guards at Dublin castle and at the several barracks were doubled; Alborough House, commanding the road to Clontarf, was garrisoned; the streets on the north side of the city were patrolled by parties of soldiers during the night. Three war steamers were placed in the Liffey, with their guns run out, commanding the ground where the meeting was to be held; while the guns at the Pigeon House fort at the mouth of the river, right opposite Clontarf, were so placed as to sweep the road to it. The village was occupied by the 5th Dragoon Guards, the 60th Rifles, the 11th Hussars, the 54th Regiment of Infantry, and a brigade of Royal Horse Artillery; the infantry being commanded by Colonel Fane, the cavalry by Lord Cardigan, and the artillery by Colonel Higgins. The men and horses were provisioned for twenty-four hours, and each soldier was furnished with sixty rounds of ball cartridge. A crisis had now come; a collision between the troops and O'Connell's army of teetotallers was imminent, and even he could have no doubt of the[531] issue. He seemed to stand appalled on the edge of the precipice to which he had brought his deluded followers, and shrinking from the consequences, he made all possible haste to save them. As soon as the proclamation was issued, he called a special meeting of the Repeal Association, and announced that in consequence of the measures taken by the Government, which he denounced as "the most base and imbecile step ever taken," there would be no meeting at Clontarf the next day. He submitted a counter-proclamation, which was adopted and posted up that evening throughout the city beside the Government proclamation. It was also sent by special messengers to the neighbouring towns and villages. The preventive measures taken on both sides were completely successful. No mounted Repealers came in from the country, and though vast multitudes went out from Dublin to view the military demonstrations, their meeting with the Queen's forces was quite amicable. They were allowed to see the spectacle, but they were compelled to move on along the high road, which they did very good-humouredly.

Napoleon, who had every need of success to regain his former position in the opinion of France, sent off in all haste to Paris the most exaggerated account of the battle of Lützen, as one of the most[66] decisive victories that he had ever won, and that it had totally scattered the Allies, and neutralised all the hopes and schemes of Great Britain. The Empress went in procession to Notre Dame, where Te Deum was celebrated by Cardinal Maury, who drew the most extravagant picture of Napoleon's invincible genius. The same false statements were sent also to every friendly Court in Europe, even to Constantinople. The stratagem had its effect. The wavering German princes, who were ready to go over to their own countrymen, still ranged their banners with the French. The King of Saxony had gone to Prague as a place whence he might negotiate his return to the ranks of his own fatherland; but he now hastened back again, and was in Dresden on the 12th of May with Napoleon, who conducted him in a kind of triumph through his capital, parading his adhesion before his subjects who had hailed the Allies just before with acclamations. The Saxon king, in fresh token of amity to Napoleon, ceded to him the fortress of Torgau, much to the disgust of his subjects. [402]

'Purpurea tollant aul?a Britanni;'

DEPARTURE OF THE BRITISH TROOPS FROM ALEXANDRIA. (See p. 539.)

WASHINGTON AND HIS MEN AT VALLEY FORGE. (See p. 239.)

Within a few days after the first passing of this Act, that is, in the first week of March, a body of weaverssaid by the Government to amount to ten thousand men, but by a more competent authority, Samuel Bamford, the author of the "Life of a Radical," not to have exceeded four or five thousandmet in St. Peter's Field, at Manchester, and commenced a march southward. The intention was to proceed to London, to present to the Prince Regent, in person, a petition describing their distress. Bamford had been consulted, and had condemned the project as wild, and likely to bring down nothing but trouble on the petitioners. He believed that they were instigated by spies sent out by Government in order to find an opportunity of justifying their arbitrary measures. Suspicious persons had been trying him. But the poor, deluded people assembled, "many of them," says Bamford, "having blankets, rugs, or large coats rolled up, and tied knapsack-like on their backs. Some had papers, supposed to be petitions, rolled up, and some had stout walking-sticks." From their blankets, they afterwards acquired the name of Blanketeers. The magistrates appeared and read the Riot Act, and dispersed the multitude by soldiers and constables; but three or four hundred fled in the direction of their intended route, and continued their march, pursued by a body of yeomanry. By the time that they reached Macclesfield, at nine o'clock at night, they amounted to only one hundred and eighty; yet many of them persisted in proceeding, but they continually melted away, from hunger and from the misery of lying out in the fields on March nights. By the time that they reached Leek they were reduced to twenty, and six only were known to pass over the bridge at Ashbourne.

Junot had from sixteen to eighteen thousand men in Portugal, but a considerable number of them were scattered into different garrisons; his hope of reinforcements from Spain was likewise cut off by the surrender of Dupont, and by the fact of the Spaniards being in possession of Andalusia, Estremadura, and Galicia. Thus the numbers of the two armies which could be brought into the field against each other were pretty equal, except that Junot had a fine body of cavalry, of which arm the British were nearly destitute. On the 9th of August General Wellesley commenced his march southward, in the direction of Lisbon, to encounter Junot. On the 16th Wellesley came in contact with the van of Junot's army. On the landing of the British, Junot had called in his different garrisons, and concentrated his troops about Lisbon. He also dispatched General Laborde to check Wellesley's march, and ordered Loison to support him. But before Loison could reach Laborde, Wellesley was upon him, and drove in his outpost at the village of Obidos, and forced him back on Roli?a. At that place Laborde had a very strong position, and there he determined to stand. He was located on a range of rocky hills, the ravines between which were thickly grown with underwood and briars. Up these the British must force their way, if they attacked, and must suffer severely from the riflemen placed in the thickets and on the brows of the hills. But Wellesley knew that Loison with his detachment was hourly expected, and he determined to beat Laborde before he came up. He therefore placed his Portuguese division on his right to meet Laborde, and ordered his left to ascend the steep hills, and be prepared for the appearance of Loison's force, which was coming in that direction. His middle column had to make its way up the steepest heights, in front of Laborde's centre. All three columns executed their movements, however, with equal valour and spirit. The centre suffered most of all, both from the nature of the ground, and from a rifle ambuscade placed in a copse of myrtle and arbutus, which mowed our soldiers down in heaps, with their gallant colonel, the son of Lord Lake, of Indian fame, at their head. Notwithstanding all difficulties, our soldiers scaled the heights, formed there, and the centre charged Laborde's centre with the bayonet and drove them back. As the French had been taught that the British soldiers were of no account, and their general only a "Sepoy general," they returned several times to the attack, but on every occasion found themselves repulsed as by an immovable wall. Then, seeing the right and left wings bearing down upon them, they gave way, and ran for it. They were equally astonished at the terrible charges with the bayonet, at the rapidity and precision of the firing, and the general arrangement of the battle, and the exactitude with which it was carried out.

WILLIAM PITT. (After the Portrait by John Hoppner, R.A.)

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Amongst these, for the most part working men, sat a number of gentlemen, and even one lord, Lord Dacre, who had lived in Paris and was a regular Revolutionist. The Convention sat unmolested till the 5th of December, arranging for a future meeting in England, and organising committees and correspondents in different towns. They also recommended to all Reform clubs and societies to invoke Divine aid on their endeavours for just reform. On meeting on the morning of the 5th, the president, Paterson, announced that himself, Margarot, and the delegates had been arrested, and were only out on bail. Immediately after this, the Lord Provost appeared with a force to disperse the meeting, and though Skirving informed him that the place of meeting was his own hired house, and that they had met for a purely constitutional purpose, the Lord Provost broke up the meeting and drove out the members. That evening they met again at another place, but only to be turned out again. Still they did not disperse before Gerald had offered up a fervent prayer for the success of Reform. Mr. Skirving then issued a circular inviting the delegates to meet in his private house, and for this he was arrested on the 6th of January, 1794, brought before the Court of Justiciary, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. On the 13th Margarot received the same sentence; and, in the month of March, Gerald likewise.