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Dr. Thomas Burnet is known for his eloquent and able History of the Earth, "Telluris Sacra Theoria," first published in Latin, and afterwards in English. This work, on which his fame rests, was greatly read and admired at the time, but the discoveries of modern science have reduced it to mere ingenious but unfounded theory. He was also author of "Arch?ologica Philosophica," and some lesser treatises.When the Peers assembled on the 7th it became quite evident that in allowing the Bill to go into committee they were only practising a man?uvre. In the first place they wished to prevent the creation of peers, and in the second they were resolved to mutilate the Bill in committee. They were aware that they had the sympathy of the king in this plot, and that he would have been glad of their success, irritated as he was by the coercion and pressure put upon him by his Ministers. The first step was taken by Lord Lyndhurst, who proposed in committee to defer the consideration of the disfranchising clauses till the enfranchising clauses had been considered. "Begin," he said, "by conferring rights and privileges, by granting boons and favours, and not by depriving a portion of the community of the privileges which they at present enjoy." This ostentatious preference of boons and favours for the people, postponing disfranchisement to enfranchisement, ringing changes on the words, was a mere artifice, but it was at once seen through by the indignant people. Lord Grey and Lord Brougham promptly exposed the attempted imposition; the former hoped the noble lords would not deceive themselves. He would not say that the proposal was insidious, but its object was utterly to defeat the Bill. He declared that if the motion were successful it would be fatal to the whole measure. It would then be necessary for him to consider what course he should take. He dreaded the effect of the House of Lords opposing itself, as an insurmountable barrier, to what the people thought necessary for the good government of the country. The noble earl's warning was on this occasion disregarded. The House being in committee proxies could not be counted, and the amendment of Lord Lyndhurst was carried after an angry debatecontents, 151; non-contents, 116; majority, 35. This division put a sudden stop to the proceedings in committee. Lord Grey at once proposed that the chairman should report progress, and asked leave to sit again on the 10th. Lord Ellenborough endeavoured to dissuade him from this course, and proceeded to give a description of the measure which he was prepared to substitute for the Ministerial Bill, and which he presumed to hope would be satisfactory to the country. This was a critical moment in the destiny of England, and the awful nature of the crisis seemed to be felt by all present, except those who were blinded by faction. Lord Grey had now but one alternative, a large creation of peers or resignation. With a majority against him in the Lords so refractory, nothing could be done; but the king declined to create the fifty peerages which the Ministry demanded. Accordingly, on Wednesday,[350] the 9th of May, the resignation of the Ministers (and the king's acceptance of it) was formally announced by Lord Grey in the House of Lords, and by Lord Althorp in the House of Commons. Lord Ebrington immediately rose, and gave notice that he would next day move a call of the House, and then an Address to his Majesty on the present state of public affairs. In the course of the debate which ensued, attempts were made by Mr. Baring and Sir Robert Peel to excite sympathy for the Lords, as taking a noble stand against the unconstitutional pressure upon the king for the creation of peers, but in vain. Neither the House of Commons nor the country could be got to give them credit for any but the most selfish motives. They considered their obstinacy to be nothing better than the tenacity of the monopolists in power. Mr. Macaulay indignantly denounced their inconsistency in pretending that they wished to carry a measure of Reform. The influence of the Crown, always powerful, was visible in the division on Lord Ebrington's motion. The "ayes" were only 288 instead of the 355 that carried the third reading of the Reform Bill. There were evidently many defaulters; but woe to them at the next general election! Rigid scrutiny was instituted, and a black list made out of those who had deserted their constituents on this momentous question. In the meantime the most angry remonstrances came to absent members from their constituents. The motion, however, was carried by a majority of 80. It was evidently a relief to the king to get rid of the Whigs; and he knew so little of the state of public feeling as to suppose that a modified Reform measure, a mere pretence of Reform, would satisfy the country. He therefore sent for Lord Lyndhurst in order to consult him, assigning the reason, that being now Chief Baron, he was removed from the vortex of politics, although he had led the Opposition in their successful attack upon the Ministerial measure. The first thing Lord Lyndhurst did was to wait upon the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, to both of whom he stated the views of the king. His Majesty insisted that some extensive measures of Reform should be carried. "My advice to the king," said the Duke, "was not to reappoint his late Ministry, nor was it to appoint myself. I did not look to any objects of ambition. I advised him to seek the assistance of other persons well qualified to fill the high situations of the State, expressing myself willing to give his Majesty every assistance, whether in office or out, to enable him to resist the advice which had been given him." The Premiership was offered to Sir Robert Peel, but he peremptorily declined to take such a perilous position, declaring that "no authority nor example of any man, nor any number of men, could shake his determination not to accept office, under existing circumstances, upon such conditions." On the 12th of May the Duke undertook to form an Administration, taking the post of Prime Minister himself. Mr. Manners Sutton was to be leader of the Commons, Lord Lyndhurst Chancellor, and Mr. Baring Chancellor of the Exchequer. For five days the courageous Duke was engaged in a desperate effort to form a Cabinet. But no sooner was it known throughout the country than a terrific storm of popular fury burst forth, which threatened to blow down the House of Peers and sweep away the Throne. The king, from being the popular idol, became suddenly an object of popular execration. The queen, who had also been a great favourite with the people, attracted a large share of the odium excited against the Court. It was understood that her influence had much to do in causing the king to desert Lord Grey, and to break faith with him with regard to the creation of peers. The king and queen were groaned at and hissed, and pursued with tremendous noises by the people, while passing through the town of Brentford. Dirt was hurled at the royal carriage; and if the military escort had not kept close to the windows, it is probable their majesties would have sustained personal injury. Along the road to London the people expressed their feeling in a similar manner; and when the carriage entered the Park the mob saluted their majesties with yells and execrations of every description.

Thus argued the Conservatives, and not without effect, for the clause against disfranchising the freemen was carried only by a majority of twenty-eight; and in the passage through the Lords several important amendments were carried against the Government, owing chiefly to the vigorous opposition of Lord Lyndhurst. He proceeded to convert the Bill into what was called a Conservative arrangement, and when Peel's moderation was brought up against him, is said to have remarked, "Peel! What is Peel to me? D Peel!" On an amendment which he proposedto omit the clause disfranchising the freemenhe defeated the Government by a majority of 93; the numbers being 130 to 37. He followed up this victory by a motion to secure to the freemen their Parliamentary franchise, which was carried without a division. The Commons thought it better to adopt some of these alterations, however repugnant to their feelings, rather than lose the measure. The Bill, as amended, was accordingly passed on the 7th of September. London, with its numerous and wealthy incorporated guilds, was reserved for future legislation, which the lavish hospitalities of the Mansion House and Guildhall[390] postponed to a later date than municipal reformers then thought of.

This blow induced Scindiah to sue for peace from General Wellesley in November, and a truce was accordingly entered into with him; but as the Rajah of Berar still kept the field, Wellesley marched against him, and encountered him on the plains of Argaum, about one hundred and twenty miles north of the Purna river. He was surprised to find the treacherous Scindiah, notwithstanding the truce, also encamped with him. Wellesley attacked the allies on the 28th of November, though it was evening when he was ready for action, and there remained only twenty minutes of daylight. But it proved a brilliant moonlight night, and he routed the whole army, and his cavalry pursued the fugitives for several miles, taking many elephants, camels, and much baggage. He captured all their cannon, thirty-eight pieces, and all their ammunition. This done, he hastened[494] to reduce the formidable fortress of Gawilgarh, situated on a lofty rock. On the 15th the outer walls were carried, and the 94th regiment, led on by Captain Campbell, scaled the inner one, opened the gate, and the whole place was soon in possession of the British. This closed the opposition of the Rajah of Berar. On the 17th of December he came to terms, and surrendered to Wellesley the important province of Cuttack and the district of Balasore. Immediately afterwards Scindiah was compelled to treat in earnest. He consented to surrender all the country between the Jumna and the Ganges, with numerous forts and other territories, and agreed to recognise the right of the Peishwa to the domains which the British had conferred upon him. Both he and the Rajah of Berar stipulated to send away all Frenchmen or other Europeans and Americans, and not to employ them again, nor even to employ British subjects, native or European, without the consent of the British Government.

Britain was everywhere successful on the sea, and Lord Nelson, on the 1st of August, made an attempt on the French flotilla lying at Boulogne for the invasion of England. He was furnished with a flotilla of gunboats for the purpose, and he was able to destroy two floating batteries and a few gunboats, but found the fleet too strongly posted under the batteries of the harbour to make further impression. However, Napoleon saw that for the present an invasion was out of the question, and the autumn of this year was employed in endeavours to arrange a peace. Lord Cornwallis proceeded to Paris for this object, and went to Amiens, which was appointed as the place for the conference. The preliminaries were signed on the 1st of October, and General Lauriston, the schoolfellow and first aide-de-camp of Buonaparte, brought them over to London. The negotiations progressed slowly, being arrested now and then by the conduct of the First Consul. Without waiting for the ratification of peace, he sent off, on the 14th of December, 1801, only ten days after the signing of the preliminaries, a strong fleet and army to the West Indies to reduce the independent black Republic in St. Domingo. Britain was obliged to send reinforcements to her own West Indian fleet by Admiral Martinso that it looked much more like war than peace. Again, in January, 1802, came the news of the election of Buonaparte to the Presidency of the Cisalpine Republic, directly contrary to the Treaty of Lunville, and betraying the ambitious aims of Napoleon. Immediately followed the news that Buonaparte had exacted from Spain a treaty by which Parma and the island of Elba were made over to France on the death of the present, already aged, duke; that Spain had been compelled to cede part of the province of Louisiana in North America, by the same treaty; and that Portugal, though the integrity of her dominions had been carefully guaranteed by the preliminaries of peace, had by a secret article given up to France her province of Guiana. A Republican constitution was forced on Holland, and in Switzerland instructions were given to the French Minister to thwart all efforts at the formation of a stable constitution. These revelations startled the British Ministers, but did not deter them from concluding the peace, with the full approbation of Pitt. It was not that the First Consul, who every day betrayed some fresh symptom of an insatiable ambition, was disposed to offer them tempting terms; on the contrary,[485] though we were never more able to dictate measures at sea, and he never less so, he was as haughty and dictatorial in his demands as if Great Britain had been completely under his feet. Yet the treaty went on, and was concluded and signed on the 27th of March, 1802. It settled nothing, as Britain refused to acknowledge the newly organised Republics, and declined to entertain Napoleon's preposterous suggestion that Malta was to be occupied by Neapolitan troops, under a neutrality guaranteed by all the chief European Powers; since it was well known that Napoleon, when it suited him, would cease to respect the conditions, and would readily dispossess the troops of Naples. Though Pitt believed him to have been sincere, Grenville, Windham, and Spencer saw that the ambition of the "Little Corporal" was insatiable, and denounced the treaty.CHAPTER III. THE REIGN OF GEORGE II.In Germany, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, after driving the French out of Hanover, had followed them across the Rhine this spring, and on the 23rd of June defeated them at Crefeld, with a slaughter of six thousand men. He then took Düsseldorf; but the French court recalling the incapable Clermont, and sending Marshal De Contades with fresh forces against him, and Prince Soubise defeating the Hessians, he was obliged to fall back into Westphalia, where he was joined by the Duke of Marlborough and Lord George Sackville with the English auxiliaries, but too late to effect anything further. Shortly afterwards the Duke of Marlborough died suddenly, under strong suspicions of having been poisoned.

An active warfare had been going on at the same time in North Carolina. Lord Cornwallis had, however, no longer to compete with the inefficient Gates, but with General Greene, a much more vigorous man. On the 17th of January, Colonel Tarleton, who had been dispatched with a thousand men, horse and foot, to attack a body of Americans under General Morgan, came up with them at a place called Cowpens. Tarleton's troops were worn out by their long march, but that impetuous officer gave them no time to rest themselves, but fell on the enemy with loud shouts. The militia fled at once, and the advance of the English endangered the flanks of the Continentals, and it became necessary to make a retrograde movement. This Tarleton mistook for a retreat, so accustomed was he to carry all before him, and his men were rushing on without regard to order, when the Americans suddenly faced about, poured a deadly fire into the British at thirty yards' distance, and then,[280] briskly charging, broke their already disorderly line. Being closely pursued, they lost, in killed and wounded, upwards of five hundred men.

The suggestions of Murat had failed to induce Ferdinand to leave his capital and go to meet Napoleon; but a more adroit agent now presented himself in the person of Savary, the delegated murderer of the Duke d'Enghien. Savary paid decided court to Ferdinand. He listened to all his statements of the revolution of Aranjuez and the abdication of the king. He told him that he felt sure Napoleon would see these circumstances in the same favourable light as he did, and persuaded him to go and meet the Emperor at Burgos, and hear him salute him Ferdinand VII., King of Spain and of the Indies.

The state of parties in the House of Commons at the opening of the Session of 1837 was so evenly balanced, that Government had a very narrow majority. The number of Whigs was calculated at 150, of Liberals 100, and of Radicals 80, making the total number of Ministerialists 330. On the other side, the Tories counted 139, the Ultra-Tories 100, and the Conservatives, belonging to the new school which Sir[414] Robert Peel had constituted, 80. Parliament was opened by commission on the last day of January. The Royal Speech announced the continuance of friendly relations with Foreign Powers, alluded to the affairs of Spain and Portugal, and directed the attention of Parliament to the state of Lower Canada. It recommended a renewal of the inquiry into the operation of joint-stock banks; also measures for the improvement of civil and criminal jurisprudence, and for giving increased stability to the Established Church. Special attention was directed to the state of Ireland, with reference to its municipal corporations and the collection of tithes, and to "the difficult and pressing question of a legal provision for the poor." Animated debates on the Address took place in both Houses. The Radicals, led on by Mr. Roebuck, strongly condemned the want of earnest purpose on the part of Ministers, whom he represented as "worse than the Tories." He accused them of pandering to popular passions on one side, and to patrician feelings on the other. But, situated as they were, what could they do? Their majority was small and uncertain in the Commons, while the Opposition in the Lords was powerful and determined. Lord Lyndhurst mutilated measure after measure, and then at the end of each Session taunted Ministers with their failure. They were trying to get on with a House of Commons elected under the influence of a Conservative Administration. Of course, Lord Melbourne could have dissolved Parliament and appealed to the country, in the hope of getting a working majority; but the king was decidedly averse from a dissolution; and it would have been an exceedingly unwise course to adopt, at a time when the precarious state of his health plainly indicated that the reign was fast drawing to a close, and its termination would necessitate another general election. It was unreasonable to expect that in consequence of weakness proceeding from such causes a Liberal Cabinet should surrender the reins of power to the Tory party, on the eve of a new reign, and with all the bright prospects that would be opened by the accession of a youthful queen to the Throne. At the close of the Session of 1836 they had, indeed, contemplated resignation, but eventually determined to go on.

The first symptom of the breaking up was the[287] necessity felt for the dismissal of Lord George Germaine, who had contributed so essentially to the defeats in America. But even then the king would not consent that he should resign without conferring a peerage on him, observing, "No one can then say he is disgraced." No quiet was now allowed to the declining Ministers. Fox, on the 20th of February, strongly seconded by William Pitt, made another attack on Lord Sandwich, this time including the whole Board of Admiralty; and the motion was only lost by nineteen. Another, and perhaps more formidable, enemy now stood forward. This was General Conway, who enjoyed the highest esteem of the House, and had been the first to propose the abolition of the fatal Stamp Act. He moved, on the 22nd of February, that the House should address his Majesty, entreating that he would "listen to the advice of his Commons, that the war on the continent of North America might no longer be pursued for the impracticable purpose of reducing the inhabitants of that country to obedience by force." After a great debate, the House divided two hours after midnight, and Ministers were reduced to a majority of one, the votes being one hundred and ninety-four against one hundred and ninety-three. Five days after, General Conway again moved that any further attempts against America would weaken the efforts of England against her European enemies, and, by further irritating the colonies, render the desired peace more difficult. The resolution was carried against Government by two hundred and thirty-four against two hundred and fifteen. Finally, on the 15th of March Sir John Rous moved a vote of want of confidence, which was again lost by a minority of only nine. It was instantly determined to renew this motion through Lord Surrey; and Lord North saw so clearly that nothing could now avert his fall, that he implored the king most earnestly to accept his resignation. George sent for Lord North on the 20th, and addressed him in these words:"Considering the temper of the House, I thought the Administration at an end." Lord North instantly seized on the words, saying:"Then, sire, had I not better state the fact at once?" The king consented, and North hurried down to the House of Commons in his court-dress, as he was.But now Catherine of Russia had concluded her entanglements with Turkey. It was the August of 1791, and her eyes turned immediately on Poland, and she pretended to take great offence and alarm at the new Constitution, as full of French and Revolutionary principles, and therefore intolerable to any neighbouring state. She began to negotiate with Sweden, and Prussia, and Austria, to co-operate with her in her design against Poland. Prussia was easily led to adopt her ideas, for the king was like herself, greedy of his neighbour's dominions, and had been repulsed by the Poles in grasping at Thorn and Dantzic. Leopold of Austria was, by his connection with the royal party of France, through his sister, naturally ready to put down any influence from the French Revolution in a neighbouring country; but he was indisposed to war, and too just and moderate for aggression. His death, on the 1st of March, 1792, removed this obstacle, and Francis, his successor, was found to be more accessible to the Czarina's selfish arguments. Russia, Prussia, and Austria were all agreed on the plunder of Poland, whilst they still preserved the most hypocritical appearance of caring only for its unity and national interests. As for Gustavus III., of Sweden, brave and honest as he was, he was of such chivalrous and, to a certain degree, insane character, that he was easily led on by the artful Empress of Russia to lend himself to her designs, without being aware of them. He had declared himself the knight of Marie Antoinette, and had sworn to rescue her. He was avaricious of military glory, and, like his predecessor, Charles XII., he was desirous only of conducting some great and brilliant enterprise. He desired to lead an army against the French, now bursting out under the Revolutionary general, Custine, on Germany, and, joining with the army of the Emigrants, eighteen thousand in number, to beat back the Democratic general, to march into France, and restore the throne of Louis and Marie Antoinette. But he had no money; the Empress of Russia, who wished him employed at a distance, and especially in keeping back the French Democrats, whilst she carved up Poland, offered him both money and arms. But the Empress was relieved of the high-minded Gustavus in a manner which she had by no means contemplated. He fell, on the 16th of March, in his own capital, by the hand of an assassin called Ankarstr?m.Surely, both magistrates and soldiers might now have been satisfied. A defenceless multitude have no means of resistance, and, doing their best to get away, might have been left to do so without further molestation, which would be equally brutal in the magistrates, and cowardly in the soldiers. But neither of these parties seems to have thought so on this unhappy occasion. The magistrates issued no orders to desist, and the soldiers, by the confession of one of their officers, went on striking with the flats of their swords at the impeded people, who were thrown down in their vain efforts to get away, and piled in struggling heaps on the field. Mr. Hulton confessed that he walked away from the window after he had let loose the horse-soldiers on the people. "He would rather not see any advance of the military." He was, in fact, so tender-hearted that he did not mind the peoplemen, women, and children, met to exercise their political rightsbeing trodden down under the iron hoofs of horses, and cut down by the sword, so long as he did not see it.

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The court then adjourned to the 15th of April. The case of the Begums was opened by Mr. Adams, and concluded the next day by Mr. Pelham. Then sixteen days were occupied by the evidence, and at length, on the 3rd of June, Sheridan began to sum up the evidence, and, in a speech which lasted three days, he kept the court in the highest state of excitement. The place was crowded to suffocation during the whole time, and as much as fifty guineas is said to have been paid for a single seat. Greatly as this speech of Sheridan's was admired, it was felt to be too ornate and dramatic: there was not the deep and genuine feeling of Burke in it, and the effect was so evidently studied, that, on concluding, Sheridan fell back into the arms of Burke, as if overcome by his own sensations. The prorogation of Parliament was now at hand, and only two out of the twenty charges had been gone through: neither of them had yet been replied to, and yet other causes of engrossing interest arising, the trial was entirely suspended till the 20th of April of the following year! Then it was taken up languidly and at uncertain intervals, and rapidly became a mere exhibition of rhetoric. Further, Burke's unlawyer-like style and intemperance of language drew upon him the censure of the Lord Chancellor, and even of the House of Commons. A revulsion of public feeling took place, and was seen in the acquittal of Stockdale who was tried for libelling the promoters of the trial. Three years afterwards Burke himself renounced sixteen of his charges, and all popular interest in the trial gradually disappeared.These words, indiscreet as they were, and calculated to embarrass the Ministers, were regarded as in the highest degree precious by the bishops and clergy, and the whole Tory party. With the utmost despatch they were circulated far and wide, with the design of bringing public feeling to bear against Mr. Ward's motion. In the meantime, great efforts were made by the Government to be able to evade the motion. Its position at this time appeared far from enviable, and there was a general impression that it could not long survive. The new appointments did not give satisfaction. The Cabinet was said to be only patched up in order to wear through the Session. It was in these discouraging circumstances that Lord Althorp had to meet Mr. Ward's motion on Monday, the 2nd of June. In order to avoid a dissolution and a general election, the results of which might turn upon the existence of the Irish Church, it was necessary that Mr. Ward's motion should be defeated. He refused to withdraw it, because he apprehended the speedy dissolution of the Ministry, and he wished the decision of the House of Commons on the Irish Church question to be recorded, that it might stand in the way of a less liberal Administration. The anticipated contest in the Commons that evening excited extraordinary interest. The House was surrounded by a crowd anxious to obtain admittance or to hear the result, while within it was so thronged with members that the Ministers found it difficult to get to their seats. Rarely has there been so full a House, the number of members being 516. When Mr. Ward had spoken in favour of his motion, Lord Althorp rose to reply. He announced that a special commission of inquiry had been already issued, composed of laymen, who were to visit every parish in Ireland, and were to report on the means of religious instruction for the people; and that, pending this inquiry, he saw no necessity for the House being called upon to affirm the principles of Mr. Ward's motion. He would, therefore, content himself by moving the previous question. This was carried by an overwhelming majority, the numbers being 396 to 120."GOD SAVE KING JAMES."

On the 28th Massena had discovered the pass of Boyalva through these hills, to the north of Busaco, which Wellington had ordered Colonel Trant to occupy. But Trant had missed his way, and did not reach the pass in time. Wellington saw, therefore, his flank turned, and the enemy on the highway to Oporto. He therefore quitted his position, and, taking Coimbra in his way, compelled such of the inhabitants as had not obeyed his order to march along with him. On the 1st of October he was on his route southward, accompanied by this strange crowd. It was a perfect exodus, and appeared to the poor inhabitants as a severe measure, but to it they owed their after-salvation. Had they remained, it would have been only to suffer the oppressions and insults of the French, and to see them supporting themselves on their provisions. As it was, the French, on entering Coimbra, found it, as they had done Viseu, totally deserted, and the stacks of corn and provision that could not be carried away, for the most part too adroitly buried to be easily found. They were left to the starvation that the English general designed for them. But what a scene on the road! The whole country moving south with the cattle and sheep, and waggons laden with their goods. "No power of description," said an eye-witness, "can convey to the mind of any reader the afflicting scenes, the[605] cheerless desolation that we daily witnessed on our march from the Mondego to the lines. Where-ever we moved, the mandate, which enjoined the wretched inhabitants to forsake their homes and to remove or destroy their little property, had gone before us. The villages were deserted; the churchesretreats so often, yet so vainly confided inwere empty; the mountain cottages stood open and untenanted; the mills in the valley, but yesterday so busy, were motionless and silent. From Thomar the flanks of our line of march were literally covered with the flying population of the country. In Portugal there are at no time many facilities for travelling, and those few the exigencies of the army had very greatly diminished. Rich indeed were those who still retained a cabriolet, and mules for its service. Those who had bullock-cars, asses, or any mode of transporting their families and property, looked contented and grateful; for respectable men and delicate women of the second class might on every side be seen walking slowly and painfully on foot, encumbered by heavy burdens of clothes, bedding, and food." It was a whole country in emigration; quitting their cities, homes, and fields to coop themselves up in the vicinity of Lisbon, for the stern purpose of starving the detested enemy out of the land.

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