The Greeks had been struggling to emancipate themselves from the tyrannical dominion of the Turks, aided in their war of independence only by the voluntary contributions and personal services of enthusiastic friends of freedom, like Lord Byron. At length, however, the sanguinary nature of the contest, and the injury to commerce by piracy, induced the Great Powers of Europe to interfere in order to put an end to the war. Accordingly, on the 6th of July, 1827, a treaty was signed in London by the Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Russia, for the pacification of Greece. In pursuance of this treaty, a joint expedition, consisting of British, French, and Russian ships, entered the Bay of Navarino on the 20th of October, with the object of compelling the Sultan to concede an armistice, in order that there might be time for effecting an arrangement. The Sultan, Mahmoud, having declined the mediation of the combined Powers, and Ibrahim Pasha having received a large reinforcement of troops from Egypt, he was ordered to put down the insurrection at every cost by land and sea. He had accordingly recommenced the war with fanatical fury. All Greeks found in arms were to be put to the sword, and the Morea was to be laid waste. The combined fleet of the Allies had received orders to demand an armistice, and if this were refused by the Turkish admiral, they were to intercept the Turkish supplies, but not to commit hostilities. When the Turkish fleet met the Allies, the futility of these instructions became evident. They found it ranged at the bottom of the bay, in the form of a crescent. Instead of parleying, the Turks began to fire, and the battle commenced apparently without plan on either side. It soon became general. Admiral Codrington, in the Asia, opened a broadside upon the Egyptian admiral, and soon reduced his ship to a wreck; others in rapid succession shared the same fate. The conflict lasted with great fury for four hours. When the smoke cleared off, the enemy had disappeared, and the bay was strewn with the fragments of their ships. Among the Allies, the loss of the British was greatest, though not largeonly 75 men killed[263] and 197 wounded. The catastrophe produced immense excitement at Constantinople, and had the Janissaries (those fierce and bigoted defenders of Mohammedanism whom the Sultan had so recently extirpated) been still in existence, it would have fared ill with Christians in that part of the world. The Sultan demanded satisfaction, which would not be granted, and the European ambassadors left Constantinople. The battle of Navarino occurred at the time when the Duke of Wellington assumed the reins of office, our ambassador having then returned from Constantinople.

The events on land were very different. Abercrombie, like General Braddock, advanced with all the careless presumption of a second-rate general. The grand object was to reduce Fort Ticonderoga, built on a neck of land between Lakes George and Champlain. At the landing, Lord Howe, one of the best officers, was killed, but they drove back the French, and advanced on the fort, which was of great strength, defended by a garrison of four thousand men, commanded by the Marquis de Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadians, himself. Montcalm had raised a breastwork eight feet high, and made in front of it a barricade of felled trees with their branches outwards. Abercrombie, with a foolish confidence, advanced right upon this barricade, without waiting for the coming up of his artillery, which was detained by the badness of the roads. With a reckless disregard of the lives of his men, he commanded them to attempt to storm these defences, and after fighting with the usual courage of Englishmen for several hours, and two thousand of them being slaughtered, it was found that their efforts were useless, and they were ordered to retire. Brigadier Forbes, who had been sent against Fort Dupuesne, an attempt so disastrous to both Washington and Braddock, executed his task with the utmost promptitude and success. Forbes took possession of it on the 25th of November, and, in compliment to the great Minister under whose auspices they fought, named it Fort Pitt, since grown from a solitary fort into Pittsburg.

Before passing to the momentous history of the Irish famine we must notice some isolated facts connected with the Peel Administration, which our connected view of the triumph of Free Trade has prevented our mentioning under their proper dates. Among the many measures of the time which were fiercely discussed, the most complicated were the Bank Charter Act of 1844, and the Act dealing with the Irish and Scottish Banks of 1845, whereby the Premier placed the whole banking system of the kingdom upon an entirely new basis, in particular by the separation of the issue and banking business of the Bank of England, and by the determination of the issues by the amount of bullion in reserve. Under the Act the Bank was at liberty to issue 14,000,000 of notes on the security of Exchequer Bills and the debt due to it from the Government, but all issues above this amount were to be based on bullion. Still hotter were the passions roused by the Maynooth Bill, by which 30,000 were devoted to the improvement of the college founded at Maynooth for the education of Roman Catholic priests. The language used during the debates by the Protestant party has few parallels in the history of the British Parliament, and Sir Robert Peel's difficulties were increased by the resignation of Mr. Gladstone, who found his present support of the Bill incompatible with the opinions expressed in his famous essay on Church and State. Lord Aberdeen's foreign policy was completely the reverse of the bold, if hazardous, line adopted by Lord Palmerston. We have seen how the Ashburton mission composed the critical questions at issue with the United States, and in similar fashion a dispute about the Oregon boundary, which had been pending for thirty years, was terminated on sound principles of give-and-take by fixing the line at the 49th parallel, while Vancouver Island was reserved for Britain, and the commerce of the Columbia was made free. With France our relations were of the most pacific character; so close, indeed, was the entente cordiale that it was a commonplace of Tory oratory that M. Guizot was Foreign Minister of England. This was certainly not the case; on the contrary, when the Society Islands, over which Pomare was queen, were forcibly annexed by a roving French admiral, Lord Aberdeen behaved with very proper spirit, and obtained an indemnity for the missionary Pritchard, who had been forcibly placed under arrest. In other respects the friendship of Great Britain with France continued unimpaired, and there was an interchange of visits between the Queen and King Louis Philippe. It was a sign of a harmony of views between the two nations. Unfortunately, owing to a variety of causes, it was not to be of long continuance. It was seldom that his name was missed from the leaders of Conservative journals, and he was the great object of attack at the meetings of the Brunswick Clubs, which were called into existence to resist the Catholic Association. But of all his assailants, none dealt him more terrible blows than the venerable Henry Grattan, the hero of 1782. "Examine their leader," he exclaimed, "Mr. O'Connell. He assumes a right to direct the Catholics of Ireland. He advises, he harangues, and he excites; he does not attempt to allay the passions of a warm and jealous people. Full of inflammatory matter, his declamations breathe everything but harmony; venting against Great Britain the most disgusting calumny, falsehood, and treachery, equalled only by his impudence, describing her as the most stupid, the most dishonest nation that ever existed. A man that could make the speeches he has made, utter the sentiments he has uttered, abuse the characters he has abused, praise the characters he has praised, violate the promises he has violated, propose such votes and such censures as he has proposed, can have little regard for private honour or for public character; he cannot comprehend the spirit of liberty, and he is unfitted to receive it."

The Home Secretary thus refers to a letter of Lord Eldon, written to his daughter soon after the event, as follows:"After observing, 'Nothing is talked of now which interests anybody the least in the world, except the election of Mr. O'Connell,' he makes these memorable remarks:'As Mr. O'Connell will not, though elected, be allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons unless he will take the oaths, etc. (and that he won't do unless he can get absolution), his rejection from the Commons may excite rebellion in Ireland. At all events, this business must bring the Roman Catholic question, which has been so often discussed, to a crisis and a conclusion. The nature of that conclusion I do not think likely to be favourable to Protestantism.' It is clear, therefore," continues Mr. Peel, "that Lord Eldon was fully alive to the real character and magnitude of the event." Having now kidnapped and disposed of the whole dynasty of Spain, Buonaparte had to inaugurate the new one by the appointment of a king. For this purpose he pitched on his brother Lucien, who, next to himself, was the ablest of the family, and who had rendered him signal services in the expulsion of the Council of Five Hundred from St. Cloud. But Lucien was of too independent a character to become a mere puppet of the great man, like the rest of his brothers. As Napoleon grew haughty and imperious in the progress of his success, Lucien had dared to express disapprobation of his conduct. He declared that Napoleon's every word and action proceeded, not from principle, but from mere political considerations, and that the foundation of his whole system and career was egotism. He had married a private person to please himself, and would not abandon his wife to receive a princess and a crown, like Jerome. Lucien had, moreover, literary tastes, was fond of collecting works of art, and had a fortune ample enough for these purposes. When, therefore, Napoleon sent for him to assume the crown of Spain, he declined the honour. Napoleon then resolved to take Joseph from Naples, and confer on him the throne of Spain and the Indies. Joseph, who was indolent and self-indulgent, and who at Naples could not exempt himself from continual fears of daggers and assassination, received with consternation the summons to assume the crown of Spain, as ominous of no ordinary troubles. He declared that it was too weighty for his head, and showed no alacrity in setting out. Napoleon was obliged to summon him several times, and at length to dispatch one of his most active and trusted aides-de-camp to hasten his movements.

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The plot thickened as it proceeded. It was suspected that the Conservative section of the Whigs wished for office, and that Sir Robert Peel wished to have them. Mr. Stanley (now Lord Stanley in consequence of the death of his grandfather, the Earl of Derby), Sir. J. Graham, and the Duke of Richmond had a meeting at the Duke of Sutherland's, to consider what they should do, in consequence of proposals made to them to join the Administration. But as they would not pledge themselves to forward Conservative measures to the extent required, Sir Robert Peel was obliged to form a Government of Tories exclusively. On the 10th of the month the arrangements were completed, and the following were announced as the members of the Cabinet:First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Robert Peel; Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst; Privy Seal, Lord Wharncliffe; Secretary of the Home Department, Mr. Goulburn; Secretary of the Foreign Department, Duke of Wellington; Secretary of the Colonial Department, Lord Aberdeen; First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl Ripon; Secretary for Ireland, Sir H. Hardinge; President of the Board of Control, Lord Ellenborough; President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint, Mr. Baring; Paymaster of the Forces, Mr. E. Knatchbull; Secretary at War, Mr. Herries; Master-General of the Ordnance, Sir G. Murray.

On the 1st of February, 1831, the Birmingham Political union held its anniversary. It had been established some years, first to denounce the circulation of a metallic currency, and then for the purpose of agitating for Reform, organised somewhat on the principle of the Irish Catholic Association, and exerting a mighty influence on public opinion in the northern counties. Mr. Attwood stated that at this time it had on its books 9,000 members, paying from 4s. to 2 2s. a year each. Other unions of a similar kind were established in many cities and towns throughout the kingdom.

The army set out in successive divisions, and by different routes, in consequence of the exhausted state of the country, which had been stripped by the French as by an army of locusts. The roads were intolerable, and the weather was vile. Wading through mud, and dragging their artillery through bogs and sloughs, they struggled on to Castello Branco, which the first division reached on the 4th of December. By the 11th Sir John had crossed the Portuguese frontier, and entered Ciudad Rodrigo. There he was received with great demonstrations of joy; and on the 13th he arrived at Salamanca. Here he had to remain for the coming up of his artillery, which, under a guard of three thousand foot and one thousand horse, had been conducted, by Sir John Hope, round by Elvas, as the only road, according to the Portuguese, by which heavy cannon could be conveyed. This was a proof of the great need of those arrangements so strongly urged by Sir Arthur Wellesley. Proper inquiries, through proper officers, would have ascertained beforehand the actual state of the roads and passes. Here Sir John, too, had to wait for Sir David Baird's detachment, which had arrived at Corunna on the 13th of October, but had found the greatest difficulty in being allowed to land and proceed. This was refused by the junta of Galicia, out of that ignorant and inflated pride of the Spaniards, which persuaded them that, because they had compelled Dupont to surrender, they could drive the French out of their country without any assistance of the British, whom they regarded not as saviours, but as intruders. Whilst application was made to the Central Junta, at Madrid, for the troops to land, they had to remain for a fortnight cooped up in the transports. There was still another hindrance, which the sound sense and foresight of Wellesley would not have permitted. Though the British Government had forwarded to Spain two hundred thousand muskets, with all requisite ammunition, and sixteen millions of hard dollars, Sir John Moore was entrusted with only twenty-five thousand pounds of it, and Sir David Baird with none at all. When, therefore, permission was obtained, from Madrid, for the Allies, who were bringing them all the arms and all the material of war, to land, Baird had no money to pay his way on the march with ten thousand men, and Sir John Moore had to remit him eight thousand pounds. This was sufficiently bad management, but this[564] was far from the worst. Sir John Moore, in the most critical circumstances, was left without the necessary information regarding the real strength of the enemy, and without the influence which the British Ambassador should have exerted to have the army supplied with the necessary means of conveyance for its baggage, ammunition, and artillery. The Spaniards obstructed rather than helped the British army. They did not know themselves that the French were pouring reinforcements through the Pyrenees to the amount of seventy thousand men, soon to be followed by Buonaparte himself. The British Ambassador, at such a time, ought to have taken measures for knowing the truth; but the Ambassador was, just at this moment, the most unfit person that could possibly have been pitched upon. Sir Charles Stewart, who had been for some time Ambassador at Madrid, was well acquainted with the Spaniards, and had energy and intelligence enough to have operated upon them. But as, with new changes of Ministry, everything must be changed by the British Government, even if it be for the worse, so here, not only had the generals been changed three times in four-and-twenty hours, but the active and well-informed Minister was withdrawn, and a most indolent and useless man sent in his place. This was Mr. John Hookham Frere, great in the Quarterly Review, and connected with Canning and his party. He either sent Sir John no information as to the state and position of the Spanish armies or of the advance and numbers of the French, or he sent him erroneous intelligence. Lord William Bentinck, who was in Spain, exerted himself to rouse the Spanish Junta to a proper sense of their real position, and of the necessity for affording the British army, which had come to assist them, all the information and support that they could; and he himself sent word that the French were crossing not merely the Pyrenees, but the Ebro. At length, a dispatch to Marshal Jourdain, being accidentally intercepted by a guerilla party on the frontiers, startled the Junta with the news that immense bodies of French were advancing into Spain; and they began to appreciate the value of their British allies, but would do nothing to facilitate their march, or to direct them to the quarter where they would be most useful; and Frere, who should have stimulated them to a sense of their duty, did just nothing at all.

A new Ministry was appointed with Prince Schwarzenberg at its head, and on the 2nd of December the Emperor Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his nephew, Francis Joseph, whose father Francis Charles, next in succession, renounced his claim to the throne. The retiring emperor stated that the pressure of events, and the immediate want of a comprehensive reformation[580] in the forms of State, convinced him that more youthful powers were necessary to complete the grand work which he had commenced. The real reason was that Lord Palmerston, who in his private correspondence held the Emperor to be "next thing to an idiot," had been constantly advising him to resign his sceptre into firmer hands. The young Emperor, in his proclamation, expressed his conviction of the value of free institutions, and said that he entered with confidence on the path of a prosperous reformation of the monarchy.

At the point at which our former detail of[316] Indian affairs ceased, Lord Clive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had left us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the throne of Bengal, was our mere instrument.

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