Had the sovereigns of Europe been in earnest in behalf of the King of France, and had they at once marched into the country, they could scarcely have failed to make themselves masters of Paris; though they might have precipitated the deaths of the king and queen. But, in truth, the kings of Europe were in no such chivalrous mood; they were thinking more of their own interests, and actually, some of them, planning the most disgraceful robberies of their neighbours. Spain, seeing no sign of coalition[387] amongst the northern sovereigns, expressed its friendly disposition towards the French Government, and prevented an attempt on its southern provinces, in which the Knights of Malta were to assist with two frigates. The French Emigrants at Brussels and Coblenz were in a state of agitation, declaring that Monsieur, who had now joined them, was the Regent of the kingdom, seeing that the king was a prisoner and had no will of his own. The poor king was compelled by the Assembly to write to them, disavowing these proceedings. As to the Powers in general, Leopold of Austria, who had the most direct interest in the rescue of his sister and her family, was, notwithstanding his recent declarations, desirous rather of peace and by no means pleased with the Emigrants. A declaration of allied sovereigns was, indeed, made at Pillnitz, that Prussia and Austria and Russia would advance to the rescue of Louis XVI.; but the more immediate object of the agreement made there was the dismemberment of Poland, which was determined in secret articles. Any concerted action on the part of the Powers was, in fact, rendered impossible by the action of Pitt, who, true to his policy of neutrality and of holding aloof from any interference in the domestic concerns of France, declined to sanction any appeal to arms.


The opening of the year 1848 was signalised by the appointment of a special commission, which was convened to try those accused of agrarian murders in the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, and Clare. The judges were the Chief Justice Blackburne and the Chief Baron Pigot. The commission was pre-eminently successful. The trials commenced at Limerick on the 4th of January. The Chief Justice, in his charge to the jury, drew a melancholy picture of the demoralised state of the country. He praised the patience and enduring fortitude of the people under the visitation of famine, which were generally in the highest degree exemplary, and he made this remarkable statement:"I do not find in the calendar before me, nor after the experience of the last two circuits have I been able to find, a single case in which destitution or distress, arising from the visitation of God, has in the remotest degree influenced this illegal confederacy, or stimulated any of those outrages." The first person tried was the notorious William Ryan, nicknamed "Puck," one of the greatest ruffians ever brought to the bar of justice. He was tried for the murder of a neighbour, named John Kelly, into whose house he entered, and shot him dead upon the spot, in the presence of his family. He was found guilty, and hanged on the 8th of February. He was well known to have committed nine murders during the previous year. A man named Frewin, a respectable farmer, was transported for life, being found guilty of harbouring Ryan, and screening him from justice. The next batch of prisoners consisted of six ill-looking young fellows, all of whom appeared to be about twenty years of age, charged with the abduction of the daughter of a respectable farmer, named Maloney, for whom they were in the habit of working, in order that another farmer, named Creagh, might marry her.

The history of the Peninsular War was written very ably and faithfully by a soldier who bore a distinguished part in itGeneral Sir W. F. P. Napier, one of three brothers, all eminently distinguished for their talents and achievements. About the time when this work was concluded appeared further illustrations of the war, in the "Despatches of Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington," which were edited by Colonel Gurwood, and which are very valuable. Of these despatches it was justly remarked in the Edinburgh Review that no man ever before had the gratification of himself witnessing the formation of such a monument to his glory.

On the 21st of September the Convention had met in the Tuileries. The first act of the Convention was to send to the Legislative Assembly the notification of its formation, and that the existence of that body was, as a matter of course, at an end. They then marched in a body to the Salle de Manege, and took possession of it. The Girondists now appeared on the Right, the Jacobins on the Left, under the name of the Mountain, and the Centre, or Moderates, took the name of the Plain. The first speech and motion was made by Manuel, proposing that the President of the Convention and of France should be lodged in the Tuileries, attended by all the state which had accompanied the king, and that, whenever he appeared in the House, all the members should receive him standing. The motion was received with a storm of reprobation, and dismissed. The second motion, made by Collot d'Herbois, was for the immediate abolition of royalty. He was seconded by the Abb Gregoire, and it was unanimously abolished accordingly. No time was lost in communicating this fact to the royal family in the Temple.

Peel then shows how, and under what constraining sense of duty, he responded to that claim: "And if the duty which that acknowledged claim imposed upon me were thisthat in a crisis of extreme difficulty I should calmly contemplate and compare the dangers with which the Protestant interest was threatened from different quartersthat I should advise a course which I believe to be the least unsafethat having advised and adopted, I should resolutely adhere to itthat I should disregard every selfish considerationthat I should prefer obloquy and reproach to the aggravation of existing evils, by concealing my real opinion, and by maintaining the false show of personal consistencyif this were the duty imposed upon me, I fearlessly assert that it was most faithfully and scrupulously discharged."


The case of Spain was the most perplexing of all. The British Cabinet expressed the opinion that no foreign Power had any right whatever to interfere with any form of government which she had established for herself, and that her king and people were to be left to settle their own differences as best they could. The representative of Great Britain was directed to urge this point with all his influence upon the Allies, and especially upon France. But the case of her revolted colonies was different. It was evident, from the course of events, that their recognition as independent States was become a mere question of time. Over by far the greater portion of them Spain had lost all hold, and it had been found necessary, in order to admit their merchant vessels into British ports, to alter the navigation laws both of Britain and Spain. The letter of instructions accordingly directed the British plenipotentiary to advocate a removal of the difficulty on this principle: that every province which had actually established its independence should be recognised; that with provinces in which the war still went on no relation should be established; there was to be no concert with France, or Russia, or any extraneous power, in establishing relations with the new States. "The policy projected was exclusively English and Spanish, and between England and Spain alone its course was to be settled. Other nations might or might not come into the views which England entertained; but upon their approval or disapproval of her views England was not in any way to shape her conduct."

In five days he had snatched the most damaging victories. The Archduke Charles retreated in haste towards Bohemia, to secure himself in the defiles of its mountains; and Buonaparte employed the 23rd and 24th of April in reviewing his troops and distributing rewards. General Hiller, who, with the Archduke Louis, had been defeated at Landshut, had united himself to a considerable body of reserve, and placed himself on the way, as determined to defend the capital. He retreated upon Ebersberg, where the sole bridge over the Traun gave access to the place, the banks of the river being steep and rocky. He had thirty thousand men to defend this bridge, and trusted to detain the French there till the Archduke Charles should come up again with reinforcements, when they might jointly engage them. But Massena made a desperate onset on the bridge, and, after a very bloody encounter, carried it. Hiller then retreated to the Danube, which he crossed by the bridge of Mautern, and, destroying it after him, continued his march to join the Archduke Charles. This left the road open to Vienna, and Buonaparte steadily advanced upon it. The Archduke Charles, becoming aware of this circumstance, returned upon his track, hoping to reach Vienna before him, in which case he might have made a long defence. But Buonaparte was too nimble for him: he appeared before the walls of the city, and summoned it to surrender. The Archduke Maximilian kept the place with a garrison of fifteen thousand men, and he held out for three or four days. Buonaparte then commenced flinging bombs into the most thickly populated parts of the city, and warned the inhabitants of the horrors they must suffer from a siege. All the royal family had gone except Maximilian and the young archduchess, Maria Louisa, who was ill. This was notified to Buonaparte, and he ordered the palace to be exempted from the attack. This was the young lady destined very soon to supersede the Empress Josephine in the imperial honours of France. The city capitulated on the 12th of May, the French took possession of it, and Napoleon resumed his residence at the palace of Sch?nbrunn, on the outskirts.