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Another attempt was to burn a portion of the Brest fleet, which was found lying off La Rochelle, in the Basque Roads. Lord Gambier, on the 11th of March, wrote to the Admiralty proposing to send fire-ships amongst them and destroy them. The Admiralty seized on the idea; but instead of leaving Lord Gambier to work out his own plan, they appointed Lord Cochrane to that service, under Gambier. This was sure to create jealousies, not only in the mind of Gambierto whom the Admiralty had written on the 19th, approving his design, and ordering him to execute it according to his own ideasbut also in the minds of other officers in Gambier's fleet. Lord Cochrane proceeded to the Basque Roads in a frigate, arriving there on the 3rd of April, and presenting Gambier with a letter informing him of the change of plan by the Admiralty. Mr. Congreve, with a supply of his rockets, was to accompany the fire-ships from England; and on the 11th, these having arrived, and being joined by several large transports which Lord Gambier had converted into fire-ships, the attack was made. The French squadron was lying between the isle of Aix and the town of La Rochelle, in a narrow passage, commanded by powerful batteries both on the land and on the island of Aix. Besides this, numbers of gunboats were placed so as to defend the approach to the vessels; but still more, a very strong boom was stretched across the passage, formed of enormous cables, secured by equally enormous anchors, and supported by buoys. None of the officers, not even Gambier or Cochrane, seem to have been aware of this boom till some of the foremost fire-ships ran against it; and several of the ships, whilst thus detained, exploded, being too far off to do any harm. But Captain Woolridge, in the Mediator, burst the boom asunder, and the fire-ships sailed up towards the French ships in the dark, and exploded, one after another, with a terrible uproarone fire-ship alone containing fifteen hundred barrels of gunpowder, besides three or four hundred shells and three or four thousand hand-grenades. But the only mischief done was to cause the French to cut their cables, and run their ships ashore. There, the next morning, they were seen; and Lord Cochrane signalled to Lord Gambier to stand in and destroy them before the rising of the tide should float them, and enable them to run up the river Charente. No ships, however, arriving, Cochrane again more urgently signalled that all the fleet was aground, except two vessels, and might easily be destroyed. Lord Gambier paid no attention to these signals, and, as the tide rose, the vessels floated and escaped up the river, except four, which still stuck fast, and were destroyed by[586] Cochrane. Those which escaped were all greatly damaged. Had Gambier stood in with his vessels promptly, no doubt the whole squadron would have been destroyed.

If the scandalous gossip of the Court may be trusted, the king did not allow affairs of State, or public displays, or the death of the queen to wean him even for a week from his attachment to Lady Conyngham. Mr. Freemantle, a rather cynical commentator on public affairs, wrote as follows:"Lady C. has been almost constantly at the Ph?nix Park, but has not appeared much in public." Again, the same writer remarks, "I never in my life heard of anything equal to the king's infatuation and conduct towards Lady Conyngham. She lived exclusively with him during the whole time he was in Ireland at the Ph?nix Park. When he went to Slane, she received him dressed out as for a drawing-room; he saluted her, and they then retired alone to her apartments. A yacht is left to bring her over, and she and the whole family go to Hanover. I hear the Irish are outrageously jealous of her, and though courting her to the greatest degree, are loud in their indignation at Lord C. This is just like them. I agree in all you say about[220] Ireland. As there is no chance of the boon being granted, no lord-lieutenant could have a chance of ingratiating himself, or of fair justice done him, with the king's promises and flattery."

The earliest statistics by which the progress of popular education may be measured are contained in the Parliamentary returns of 1813, when there were in England and Wales nearly 20,000 day schools, with about 675,000 scholars, giving the proportion of 1 in 17 of the population. There were also 5,463 Sunday schools, with 477,000 scholars, or 1 in 24 of the population. Lord Kerry's Parliamentary returns for 1833 showed the number of day schools and scholars to be nearly doubled, and the proportion to be 1 in 11 of the population. The Sunday schools, during the same period, were trebled in number, and also in the aggregate of children attending; while their proportion to the population was 1 in 9the population having in the interval increased 24 per cent., the day scholars 89 per cent., and the Sunday scholars 225 per cent. Up to this time (1833) the work of education was conducted by private liberality, incited mainly by religious zeal, and acting through the agencies of the two great societies, the British and the National. In that year Government came to their aid, and a meagre grant of 20,000 a year continued to be made till 1839, when it was increased to 30,000. This was shared between the two societies,[426] representing two educational parties. The principle of the British and Foreign School Society, chiefly supported by Dissenters, was, that the Bible should be read without note or comment in the schools, and that there should be no catechism admitted, or special religious instruction of any kind. The schools of the National Society, on the other hand, were strictly Church schools, in which the Church Catechism must be taught. The total number of schools in 1841 was 46,000, of which 30,000 were private. These statistics indicate an immense amount of private energy and enterprise, the more gratifying from the fact that the greater portion of the progress was due to the working classes themselves. Great improvements had been effected in the art of teaching. Both the British and the National Societies from the beginning devoted much attention to the training of efficient teachers. In 1828 the former sent out 87 trained teachers; in 1838 as many as 183. The National Society commenced a training institution in 1811, and after forty years' progress it had five training colleges, sending out 270 teachers every year. From the Painting by E. M. Ward. R.A. Amongst the followers of Whitefield became[170] conspicuous Rowland Hill, Matthew Wilks, and William Huntington. Of the followers of Whitefield, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, became the patron, as she had been of Whitefield himself, whom she made her chaplain. This remarkable woman founded schools and colleges for the preachers; and so completely did she identify herself with this sect that it became styled "Lady Huntingdon's Society." Perhaps the most celebrated of these preachers, after Whitefield, was Rowland Hill, who was a younger son of Sir Rowland Hill, of Hawkstone, in Shropshire. He was educated at Cambridge for the Church of England, but preferred following Whitefield, and for many years went about preaching in the open air, like Whitefield, in different parts of the country, and particularly amongst the colliers of Kingswood. In 1783 his chapel, called the Surrey Chapel, being built, he settled in London, and continued his ministry in the metropolis till his death in 1833, at the age of eighty-eight. Rowland Hill was as much celebrated for his humour and eccentricity, which he carried into his preachings, as for his talents. He was also an author of various productions, the most popular of which were his "Village Dialogues."

For some time a monster petition to the House of Commons was being signed by the Chartists in all the towns throughout the United Kingdom, and the signatures were said to have amounted to five millions. It was to be presented on the 10th of April. Two hundred thousand men were to assemble on Kennington Common, and thence they were to march to Westminster, to back up their petition. Possibly they might force their way into the House of Commons, overpower the members, and put Mr. Feargus O'Connor in the Speaker's chair. Why might they not in this way effect a great revolution, like that which the working classes of Paris had just accomplished? If the French National Guard, and even the troops of the line, fraternised with the people, why should not the British army do likewise? Such anticipations would not have been unreasonable if Parliamentary and Municipal Reform had been up to this time resisted; if William IV. had been still upon the throne; if a Guizot had been Prime Minister, and a York or a Cumberland at the Horse Guards. The Chartists, when they laid their revolutionary plans, must have forgotten the loyalty of the English people, and the popularity of the young Queen. They could not have reflected that the Duke of Wellington had the command of the army; that he had a horror of riots; and that there was no man who knew better how to deal with them. Besides, every one in power must have profited by the unpreparedness of the French authorities, and the fatal consequences of leaving the army without orders and guidance. All who were charged with the preservation of the peace in England were fully awake to the danger, and early on the alert to meet the emergency. On the 6th of April a notice was issued by the Police Commissioners, warning the Chartists that the assemblage of large numbers of people, accompanied with circumstances tending to excite terror and alarm in the minds of her Majesty's subjects, was criminal; and that, according to an Act of the 13th of Charles II., no more than ten persons could approach the Sovereign, or either House of Parliament, on pretence of delivering petitions, complaints, or remonstrances; and that whereas information had been received that persons had been advised to procure arms and weapons to[556] carry in procession from Kennington Common to Westminster, and whereas such proposed procession was calculated to excite terror in the minds of her Majesty's subjects, all persons were strictly enjoined not to attend the meeting in question, or take part in the procession; and all well-disposed persons were called upon and required to aid in the enforcement of the law, and the suppression of any attempt at disturbance. The general election was, on the whole, favourable to the Government; the forces of Conservatism being roused into activity by the violent democratic tendencies of the times, and by the threats of revolution. The new Parliament met on the 21st of April. Mr. Manners Sutton was re-elected Speaker. A week was occupied in swearing in the members, and the Session was opened on the 27th by a Speech from the king, the vagueness of which gave no ground for an amendment to the Address in either House. In the old roll of members one illustrious name was found, borne by a statesman who was never more to take his seat in the House.[205] Henry Grattan expired (June 4) soon after the Session commenced. Sir James Mackintosh, in moving a new writ for Dublin, which Grattan had represented for many years, observed "that he was, perhaps, the only man recorded in history who had obtained equal fame and influence in two assemblies differing from each other in such essential respects as the English and Irish Parliaments."

On the 28th of March the Ministry, as completed, was announced in the House, and the writs for the re-elections having been issued, the House adjourned for the Easter holidays, and on the 8th of April met for business. The first affairs which engaged the attention of the new Administration were those of Ireland. We have already seen that, in 1778, the Irish, encouraged by the events in North America, and by Lord North's conciliatory proposals to Congress, appealed to the British Government for the removal of unjust restrictions from themselves, and how free trade was granted them in 1780. These concessions were received in Ireland with testimonies of loud approbation and professions of loyalty; but they only encouraged the patriot party to fresh demands. These were for the repeal of the two obnoxious Acts which conferred the legislative supremacy regarding Irish affairs on England. These Acts werefirst, Poynings' Act, so called from Sir Edward Poynings, and passed in the reign of Henry VII., which gave to the English Privy Council the right to see, alter, or suppress any Bill before the Irish Parliament, money Bills excepted; the second was an Act of George I., which asserted in the strongest terms the right of the king, Lords, and Commons of England to legislate for Ireland. But of all the parties which remembered their wrongs and indignities, the Roman Catholic clergy were the most uncomplying and formidable. They had seen the Pope seized in his own palace at Rome, and forced away out of Italy and brought to Fontainebleau. But there the resolute old man disdained to comply with what he deemed the sacrilegious demands of the tyrant. Numbers of bishoprics had fallen vacant, and the Pontiff refused, whilst he was held captive, to institute successors. None but the most abandoned priests would fill the vacant sees without the papal institution. At length Buonaparte declared that he would separate France altogether from the Holy See, and would set the Protestant up as a rival Church to the Papal one. "Sire," said the Count of Narbonne, who had now become one of Buonaparte's chamberlains, "I fear there is not religion enough in all France to stand a division." But in the month of June Buonaparte determined to carry into execution his scheme of instituting bishops by the sanction of an ecclesiastical council. He summoned together more than a hundred prelates and dignitaries at Paris, and they went in procession to Notre Dame, with the Archbishop Maury at their head. They took an oath of obedience to the Emperor, and then Buonaparte's Minister of Public Worship proposed to them, in a message from the Emperor, to pass an ordinance enabling the archbishop to institute prelates without reference to the Pope. A committee of bishops was found complying enough to recommend such an ordinance, but the council at large declared that it could not have the slightest value. Enraged at this defiance of his authority, Buonaparte immediately ordered the dismissal of the council and the arrest of the bishops of Tournay, Troyes, and Ghent, who had been extremely determined in their conduct. He shut them up in the Castle of Vincennes, and summoned a smaller assembly of bishops as a commission to determine the same question. But they were equally uncomplying, in defiance of the violent menaces of the man who had prostrated so many kings but could not bend a few bishops to his will. The old Pope encouraged the clergy, from his cell in Fontainebleau, to maintain the rights of the Church against his and its oppressor, and thus Buonaparte found himself completely foiled.

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Though war had long been foreseen with France, when it took place we had no fleet in a proper condition to put to sea. It was not till the 14th of July that Lord Howe, who had taken the command of the Channel fleet, sailed from Spithead with fifteen ships of the line, three of which were first-rates, but none of them of that speed and equipment which they ought to have been. He soon obtained intelligence of a French fleet of seventeen sail of the line, seen westward of Belleisle. He sent into Plymouth, and had two third-rate vessels added to his squadron. On the 31st of July he caught sight of the French fleet, but never came up with them, the French ships being better sailers. After beating about in vain, he returned to port, anchoring in Torbay on the 4th of September. At the end of October Howe put to sea again with twenty-four sail of the line and several frigates, and several times came near the French fleet, but could never get to engage. He, however, protected our merchant vessels and disciplined his sailors. One French ship was taken off Barfleur by Captain Saumarez of the Crescent, and that was all.

But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed[239] his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men.

This Act, which repealed the Test Act, provided another security in lieu of the tests repealed:"And whereas the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof respectively are by the laws of this realm severally established permanently and inviolably, I., A., B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, upon the true faith of a Christian, that I will never exercise any power, authority, or influence which I may possess by virtue of the office of , to injure or weaken the Protestant Church, as it is by law established in England, or to disturb the said Church, or the bishops and clergy of the said Church, in the possession of any rights and privileges to which such Church, or the said bishops and clergy, are or may be by law entitled."

In England the Chancellor of the Exchequer had found no difficulty in raising a loan of thirty-six million pounds, and this money was freely devoted to put the armies of the Coalition in motion. Never had such vast armaments been in preparation from the very north of Europe to France. The Congress had removed its locale from Vienna to Frankfort, to be nearer the scene of action. The Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia, were again at the head[92] of their forces. On the side of Switzerland, one hundred and fifty thousand Austrians, who were liberated from Italy by the defeat of Murat, were ready to march into France; another army of the same number directed its course to the upper Rhine. Schwarzenberg was again Commander-in-Chief of Austria. Two hundred thousand Russians, under Barclay de Tolly, were also marching for Alsace, and Langeron, Sacken, and other generals were at the head of other numerous divisions, all under the nominal leadership of the Archduke Constantine. Blucher was already posted in Belgium with one hundred and fifty thousand Prussians; and the army of Wellington, of eighty thousand men, composed of British, and different nations in British pay, occupied Flanders. The contingents of Holland, Sweden, and the smaller German states raised the total to upwards of a million of men, which, if they were not all at hand, were ready to march up in case of any reverses to those first in the field.

On the 9th of April, 1809, the Archduke Charles crossed the Inn, and invaded Bavaria, the ally of France. He issued a manifesto declaring that the cause of Austria was that of the general independence of Germany, and called on those States which had been compelled to bear the yoke of France to throw it off, and stand boldly for the common liberty. The serious discontent of the people of Germany encouraged him to hope that his call would be responded to; but Germany was not yet ripe for an effective reaction. Simultaneously, the Archduke John had descended from the Alps into Italy, and driven the troops of the viceroy, Eugene Beauharnais, before him. He had advanced as far as the Tagliamento, and laid siege to the fortresses of Orobo and Palma Nuova. The Archduke Ferdinand had also marched into Poland, defeated Poniatowski, Buonaparte's general, and taken possession of Warsaw. All so far looked cheering; for the great actor was not yet on the scene. But he quitted Paris on the 11th of April, two days only after the Archduke Charles entered Bavaria, and in a few days was with his army at Donauw?rth. He expressed the utmost contempt for the Austrian troops, saying, in a letter to Massena, that six thousand French ought to beat twelve thousand or fifteen thousand of "those canaille." He greatly disapproved of the manner in which Berthier had disposed of his forces, for he had extended them in a long line from Augsburg to Ratisbon, with a very weak centre. He ordered Davoust and Massena, who commanded the opposite wings, to draw nearer together. That being done, on the 20th of April he made a sudden attack on the Austrians at Abensberg, and defeated them. The next day he renewed the attack at Landshut, and took from them thirty pieces of cannon, nine thousand prisoners, and a great quantity of ammunition and baggage. The following day he advanced against the main position of the Archduke Charles, at Eckmühl, where, by the most skilful man?uvres, he turned all the enemy's positions, and defeated one division after another with all the art and regularity of a game of chess. Charles was thoroughly defeated, and had twenty thousand men taken prisoners, with a loss of fifteen stand of colours, and the greater part of his artillery. The next day the Austrians made a stand to defend the town of Ratisbon. They fought bravely; but, a breach being made in the wall, Marshal Lannes seized a scaling-ladder, and, whilst hundreds of French were falling under the fire of the Austrians, he planted it against the breach, saying, "I will show you that your general is still a grenadier!" The wall was scaled, and a desperate battle ensued in the streets of the town. At one moment, a number of tumbrils loaded with powder were in danger of exploding, and destroying the combatants on both sides; but the Austrians warned the French of the danger, and they mutually combined to remove them. That over, they recommenced the struggle, and the Austrians were driven out of the town, leaving again cannon, much ammunition, and many prisoners in the hands of the French. Whilst watching the mle, Buonaparte was struck on the toe by a spent musket-ball; but he had the wound dressed, and again remounted his[588] horse, and watched with unfailing vigilance the progress of the battle.

Pitt, in a series of motions and violent debates on themwhich did not terminate till the 23rd of January, 1789not only carried his point, that Parliament should assert the whole right of appointing a regent, but he contrived to tie down the prince completely. On the 16th of December Pitt moved three resolutionsthe third and most material of which was, that it was necessary that both Houses should, for the maintenance of the constitutional authority of the king, determine the means by which the royal assent might be given to an Act of Parliament for delegating the royal authority during the king's indisposition. After most determined opposition by the Whigs, he carried the whole of these resolutions, and it was then moved that the proper mode of doing this was to employ the Great Seal just as if the king were in the full exercise of his faculties. To prepare the way for this doctrine, the lawyers in Pitt's party had declared that there was a broad distinction between the political and the natural capacity of the king; that, as the king could do no wrong, so he could not go politically, though he might go naturally, mad; that therefore the king, in his political capacity, was now as fully in[345] power and entity as ever, and therefore the Great Seal could be used for him as validly as at any other time. In vain did Burke exclaim that it was "a phantom," "a fiction of law," "a mere mummery, a piece of masquerade buffoonery, formed to burlesque every species of government." In the midst of the debate Mr. Rushworth, the young member for Newport, in Hampshire, standing on the floor of the House, exclaimed, in a loud and startling tone, "I desire that gentlemen of more age and experience than myself will refer to the glorious reign of George II. Let them recall to their memory the year 1745. Suppose that great and good king had lain under a similar affliction of madness at that period, where are the men, much less a Minister, that would have dared to come down to that House, and boldly, in the face of the world, say that the Prince of Wales had no more right to the regency than any other subject? The man or Minister who could have dared to utter such language must henceforward shelter in some other place than in the House of Commons, and in some other country than England!" The Prince of Wales, by letter, complained of the want of respect shown to him, but Pitt carried the resolution regarding the Great Seal, that it should be appended to a commission for opening Parliament, it now occupying the position of a convention, and that the commission should then affix the royal assent to the Bill for the regency. This done, he consented to the demand for the appearance of the physicians again before proceeding with the Bill, and the physicians having expressed hopes of the king's speedy recovery, on the 16th of January Pitt moved the following resolutions:That the Prince of Wales should be invested with the royal authority, subject, however, to these restrictions, namely, that he should create no peers; that he should grant no place or pension for life, or in reversion, except such place as in its nature must be held for life, or during good behaviour; that the prince should have no power over the personal property of the king, nor over the king's person or household; that these two latter powers should be entrusted to the queen, a council being appointed to assist her in these duties by their advice, but subject to her dismissal, and without any power of alienation of any part of the property. The bad character of the prince, combined with the rumours of his indecent jests at the expense of his unhappy parents, rendered the restrictions universally popular.