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    [See larger version] CHAPTER XII. THE PROGRESS OF THE NATION DURING THE REIGNS OF GEORGE IV. AND WILLIAM IV.

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    The occasion for the Portuguese expedition arose in this way: bands of Portuguese rebels, armed, equipped, and trained in Spain, at the instigation of France, passed the Spanish frontier, carrying terror and devastation into their own country, crossing the boundary at different points, and proclaiming different pretenders to the throne of Portugal. Had Spain employed mercenaries to effect the invasion, there could not be a doubt of its hostile character. Portugal then enjoyed a constitutional government, under the regency of the infant daughter of the King of Brazil. The Absolutist party had proclaimed Don Miguel, the King of Brazil's younger brother. During the civil war the rebels had been driven into Spain, where they were welcomed with ardour, equipped afresh, and sent back to maintain the cause of Absolutism in the Portuguese dominions. England was bound by treaty to assist Portugal in any such emergency. Her aid was demanded accordingly, and, averse as Mr. Canning was from war, and from intervention in the affairs of foreign states, he rendered the assistance required with the utmost promptitude. On Friday, December 3rd, the Portuguese ambassador made a formal demand of assistance against a hostile aggression from Spain. Canning answered that, though he had heard rumours to that effect, he had not yet received such precise information as justified him in applying to Parliament. It was only on Friday that that information arrived. On Saturday the Cabinet came to a decision; on Sunday the decision received the sanction of the king; on Monday it was communicated to both Houses of Parliament, and on Tuesday the troops were on their march for embarkation. The expedition arrived at Lisbon in good time, and had the desired effect of restoring tranquillity and preventing warthat "war of opinions" which Canning so much dreaded. It was on this occasion that Canning delivered the magnificent oration which electrified the House and the country. No speech in Parliament had ever before produced such an effect. Only a man of splendid genius and intense sympathy, placed in a position to wield the force of a great nation, could have delivered such a speech or produced such an effect. "The situation of England," he said, "amidst the struggle of political opinions which agitates more or less sensibly different countries of the world, may be compared to that of the ruler of the winds

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    On the 1st of December the army resumed its march. They immediately found the effect of Cumberland's presence at Lichfield: they had to ford the Mersey near Stockport, and to carry the baggage and artillery over a rude wooden bridge, consisting of the trunks of trees thrown across, at Chorlton. That evening they reached Macclesfield. Lord George pushed on with his division to Congleton, whence he sent on Colonel[101] Kerr, who routed a small body of the Duke of Kingston's horse, and drove them towards Newcastle-under-Lyme. Kerr seized Captain Weir, well known as one of Cumberland's principal spies, and, by threatening him with the gallows, drew from him the particulars of the duke's numbers and position. It appeared that the duke was under the impression that the prince was directing his march towards Wales to join his partisans there, and having encouraged this notion by this advance, and led the duke to proceed as far as Stone, Lord George suddenly altered his route, and got to Ashbourne, and thence to Derby, thus throwing the road to London quite open, and being two or three days' march in advance of the duke. Charles entered Derby the same day, the 4th of December, and took up his quarters at a house belonging to the Earl of Exeter, at the bottom of Full Street.

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    At this point the advance of the Prussians was unexpectedly checked. After the capture of Verdun, on the 2nd of September, they had spread themselves over the plains of the Meuse, and occupied, as their main centre, Stenay. Dumouriez and his army lay at Sedan and in its neighbourhood. To reach him and advance on Chalons in their way to Paris, the Allies must pass or march round the great forest of Argonne, which extends from thirteen to fifteen leagues, and was so intersected with hills, woods, and waters, that it was at that time impenetrable to an army except through certain passes. These were Chne-Populeux, Croix-aux-Bois, Grand Pr, La Chalade, and Islettes. The most important were those of Grand Pr and Islettes, which however were the two most distant from Sedan. The plan therefore was to fortify these passes; and in order to do this Dumouriez immediately ordered Dillon to march forward and occupy Islettes and La Chalade. This was effected; a division of Dillon's forces driving the Austrian general, Clairfayt, from the Islettes. Dumouriez followed, and occupied Grand Pr, and General Dubouquet occupied Chne-Populeux, and sent a detachment to secure Croix-aux-Bois between Grand Pr and Chne-Populeux.

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    These were measures which must have greatly irritated the American colonists. They exhibited a disposition to curb and repress their growing energies between the interests of British merchants and British West Indian planters. The prospect was far from encouraging; whilst, at the same time, the English Ministers, crushing these energies with one hand, were contemplating drawing a revenue by taxation from them on the other. Britain argued that she sacrificed large amounts in building up colonies, and therefore had a right to expect a return for this expenditure. Such a return, had they had the sagacity to let them alone, was inevitable from the trade of the colonies in an ever-increasing ratio.

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    The main subject for consideration at that moment was the policy of continuing the Act for the suppression of the Catholic Association, which was to expire at the end of the Session of 1828. In connection with this subject a letter from Lord Anglesey came under the Ministry's consideration. "Do keep matters quiet in Parliament," he said, "if possible. The less that is said of Catholic and Protestant the better. It would be presumptuous to form an opinion, or even a sanguine hope, in so short a time, yet I cannot but think there is much reciprocal inclination to get rid of the bugbear, and soften down asperities. I am by no means sure that even the most violent would not be glad of an excuse for being less violent. Even at the Association they are at a loss to keep up the extreme irritation they had accomplished; and if they find they are not violently opposed, and that there is no disposition on the part of Government to coercion, I do believe they will dwindle into moderation. If, however, we have a mind to have a good blaze again, we may at once command it by re-enacting the expiring Bill, and when we have improved it and rendered it perfect, we shall find that it will not be acted upon. In short, I shall back Messrs. O'Connell's and Sheil's, and others' evasions against the Crown lawyers' laws."

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    The campaign against the French was opened in February by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick attacking the Duke de Broglie, and driving him out of Cassel. Prince Ferdinand followed up this advantage by attacking them in Marburg and G?ttingen, and applied himself particularly to the siege of Cassel. But Broglie, now recovered from his surprise, first defeated the hereditary Prince of Brunswick, Ferdinand's nephew, at Stangerode, and then repulsed Ferdinand himself from Cassel.

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    Of course, the commercial changes introduced by Mr. Huskisson and Mr. Robinson excited loud murmurs of dissatisfaction from the interests affected, especially the shipping interest. But the best answer to objectors was the continuously flourishing state of the country. At the opening of the Session in 1825, Lord Dudley and Ward, in moving the Address in answer to the King's Speech in the Upper House, observed:"Our present prosperity is a prosperity extending to all orders, all professions, and all districts, enhanced and invigorated by the flourishing state of all those arts which minister to human comfort, and those inventions by which man obtains a mastery over nature by the application of her own powers, and which, if one had ventured to foretell a few years ago, it would have appeared almost incredible." This happy state of things was the result of a legitimate expansion of trade. Manufacturers and merchants were at first guided by a spirit of sober calculation. The steady advance in the public securities, and in the value of property of all sorts, showed that the national wealth rested upon a solid basis. The extension of the currency kept pace with the development of trade and commerce, and the circulation of bankers' paper was enormously increased. But out of the national prosperity there arose a spirit of rash speculation and adventure, resulting in a monetary crisis. The issue of notes by country banks was under no restriction; no measures were taken to secure that their paper represented property, and could be redeemed if necessary. There were hundreds of bankers in the provinces who could issue any quantity of notes they pleased, and these passed as cash from hand to hand. The spirit of speculation and enterprise was stimulated to a feverish degree of excitement by the recognition of the states of Colombia, Mexico, and Buenos Ayres, formally announced in the King's Speech on the 3rd of February, which said that treaties of commerce had been made with those new states. The rich districts of South America being thus thrown open, there was a rush of capitalists and adventurers to work its inexhaustible mines. A number of companies was formed for the purpose, and the gains of some of them in a few months amounted to fifteen hundred per cent. The result was a mania of speculation, which seized upon all classes, pervaded all ranks, and threw the most sober and quiet members of society into a state of tumultuous excitement. Joint-stock companies almost innumerable were established, to accomplish all sorts of undertakings. There were thirty-three companies for making canals and docks, forty-eight for making railroads, forty-two for gas, twenty insurance companies, twenty-three banking companies, twelve navigation packet companies, five indigo and sugar companies, thirty-four metal companies, and many others. The amount of capital subscribed in these various companies, which numbered two hundred and seventy-six, was upwards of 174,000,000. In connection with South America there was the Anglo-Mexican Company, the Brazilian, the Colombian, Real de Monte, and the United Mexican. On the South American shares only ten pounds each had been paid, except the Real de Monte, on which 70 had been paid. We may judge of the extent to which gambling speculation was carried from the following statement of the market prices of the shares, in five of the principal mining companies[243], at two periods, December 10th, 1824, and January 11th, 1825:

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    Parliament opened gloomily on the 21st of January, 1806. The total failure of Pitt's new Continental coalition, the surrender of Ulm, the battle of Austerlitz, the retreat of Austria into peace with Napoleon, and of Russia into her northern snows, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and Belgium nearly all prostrate at the feet of Buonaparte, were killing Pitt. He had sought for renovation in the autumn at Bath; but its salutary waters and atmosphere had failed to restore his spirit, or to remove what Fox called the "Austerlitz look" from his face. He was dying at Putney as the House met, and the king was not in a condition to open the Session personally. The Royal Speech, read by a Commissioner, referred, with just pride, to the great victory of Trafalgar, and had but little to say on the defeat of all our endeavours on the Continent. The Opposition determined to move an amendment to the Address; but this was prevented by the announcement of the death of Pitt on the 23rd, two days after the opening of Parliament. Mr. Lascelles gave notice of a motion for a public funeral in Westminster Abbey. Fox moved that this question should be postponed till after the discussion on the Address, which was considered by Pitt's friends as a great want of generosity in Fox. The amendment was, of course, overruled, and it was voted, on the 27th of January, by a majority of two hundred and fifty-eight against eighty-nine, that Pitt should be buried in Westminster Abbey; which accordingly took place, the royal dukes, the Archbishop of Canterbury, eight bishops, a great number of peers, and about a hundred members of the House of Commons attending.

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    Driven to desperation, Burgoyne now contemplated crossing the river in the very face of the enemy, and fighting his way through, and for this purpose he sent a party up the river to reconnoitre a suitable spot. Once over, he had little doubt of making his way to Fort Edward, and thence to the Canadian lakes. At this moment Gates was informed that Burgoyne had effected his passage, and that he had left only the rear-guard in the camp. He was in full march upon the camp, in the belief that he could seize it with ease, and part of his forces had actually crossed the fords of Fishkill, near which Burgoyne was strongly posted, when a spy or a deserter informed him of his mistake. Had it not been for this circumstance he must have suffered a surprise and a certain defeat, and the fortunes of Burgoyne would probably have been different. He was now on the alert to receive the Americans, and when, to his mortification, he saw them at a signal again retreating, he poured a murderous fire into them, and pursued them in confusion across the creek. This was his last chance. No news reached him from Clinton; but he ascertained that the Americans had already, in strong force, blocked up his way to Fort Edward. This was decisive. On the 13th he called together a council of war, at which every captain was invited to attend, and the unanimous result of the deliberations was that they must capitulate. Accordingly, an officer was sent with a note to the American headquarters that evening, to propose an interview between General Burgoyne and General Gates. The American General agreed to the meeting at ten o'clock the next morning. There Burgoyne stated that he was aware of the superiority of Gates's numbers, and, to spare the useless effusion of blood, he proposed a cessation of arms, to give time for a treaty to that effect.