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Title: History of the English People, Volume VIII (of 8) - Modern England, 1760-1815
Author: Green, John Richard, 1837-1883
Language: English
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Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford


MODERN ENGLAND. 1760-1815.

MacMillan and Co., Ltd.
New York: The MacMillan Co.

First Edition, 1879; Reprinted 1882, 1886, 1891.
Eversley Edition, 1896.



   MODERN ENGLAND. 1760-1815.

     THE INDEPENDENCE OF AMERICA. 1767-1782                   1


     INDUSTRIAL ENGLAND. 1782-1792                           45


     ENGLAND AND REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE. 1792-1801             97


     ENGLAND AND NAPOLEON. 1801-1815                        144


           DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE        _To face p._ 1


  III. EUROPE AFTER THE PEACE OF TILSIT, 1807            158

[Illustration: THE COLONIES OF NORTH AMERICA at the Declaration of




[Sidenote: Growing influence of public opinion.]

The Chatham ministry marked a new phase in the relation of public
opinion to the government of the State. In 1766 as in 1756 Pitt had been
called into office by "the voice of the people" at large. But in his
former ministry the influence he drew from popularity could only make
itself effective through an alliance with the influence which was drawn
from political connexion; and when the two elements of the
administration became opposed the support of the nation gave Pitt little
strength of resistance against the Whigs. Nor had the young king had
much better fortune as yet in his efforts to break their rule. He had
severed them indeed from Pitt; and he had dexterously broken up the
great party into jealous factions. But broken as it was, even its
factions remained too strong for the king. His one effort at
independence under Bute hardly lasted a year, and he was as helpless in
the hands of Grenville as in the hands of Rockingham. His bribery, his
patronage, his Parliamentary "friends," his perfidy and his lies, had
done much to render good government impossible and to steep public life
in deeper corruption, but they had done little to further the triumph of
the Crown over the great houses. Of the one power indeed which could
break the Whig rule, the power of public opinion, George was more
bitterly jealous than even of the Whigs themselves. But in spite of his
jealousy the tide of opinion steadily rose. In wise and in unwise ways
the country at large showed its new interest in national policy, its new
resolve to have a share in the direction of it. It showed no love for
the king or the king's schemes. But it retained all its old disgust for
the Whigs and for the Parliament. It clung to Pitt closer than ever, and
in spite of his isolation from all party support raised him daily into a
mightier power. It was the sense that a new England was thus growing up
about him, that a new basis was forming itself for political action,
which at last roused the Great Commoner to the bold enterprise of
breaking through the bonds of "connexion" altogether. For the first time
since the Revolution a minister told the peers in their own house that
he defied their combinations.

[Sidenote: Chatham's withdrawal.]

The ministry of 1766 in fact was itself such a defiance; for it was an
attempt to found political power not on the support of the Whigs as a
party, but on the support of national opinion. But as Parliament was
then constituted, it was only through Chatham himself that opinion could
tell even on the administration he formed; and six months after he had
taken office Chatham was no more than a name. The dread which had driven
him from the stormy agitation of the Lower House to the quiet of the
House of Peers now became a certainty. As winter died into the spring of
1767 his nervous disorganization grew into a painful and overwhelming
illness which almost wholly withdrew him from public affairs; and when
Parliament met again he was unable either to come to town or to confer
with his colleagues. It was in vain that they prayed him for a single
word of counsel. Chatham remained utterly silent; and the ministry which
his guidance had alone held together at once fell into confusion. The
Earl's plans were suffered to drop. His colleagues lost all cohesion,
and each acted as he willed. Townshend, a brilliant but shallow
rhetorician whom Pitt had been driven reluctantly to make his Chancellor
of the Exchequer, after angering the House of Commons by proposals for
an increase of the land-tax, strove to win back popularity among the
squires by undertaking to raise a revenue from America. That a member of
a ministry which bore Pitt's name should have proposed to reopen the
question of colonial taxation within a year of the repeal of the Stamp
Acts was strange enough to the colonists; and they were yet more
astonished when, on its neglect to make provision for compensating those
who had suffered from the recent outbreak in due conformity to an Act of
the British Parliament, the Assembly of New York was suspended, and when
Townshend redeemed his pledge by laying duties on various objects
brought into American ports. But these measures were the result of
levity and disorganization rather than of any purpose to reopen the
quarrel. Pitt's colleagues had as yet no design to reverse his policy.
The one aim of the ministry which bore his name, and which during his
retirement looked to the Duke of Grafton as its actual head, was simply
to exist. But in the face of Chatham's continued withdrawal, of
Townshend's death in 1767, and of the increasing hostility of the
Rockingham Whigs, even existence was difficult; and Grafton saw himself
forced to a union with the faction which was gathered under the Duke of
Bedford, and to the appointment of a Tory noble as Secretary of State.

[Sidenote: His resignation.]

Such measures however only showed how far the ministry had drifted from
the ground on which Pitt took his stand in its formation; and the very
force on which he had relied turned at once against it. The elections
for the new Parliament which met in 1768 were more corrupt than any
that had as yet been witnessed; and even the stoutest opponents of
reform shrank aghast from the open bribery of constituencies and the
prodigal barter of seats. How bitter the indignation of the country had
grown was seen in its fresh backing of Wilkes. Wilkes had remained in
France since his outlawry; but he seized on the opening afforded by the
elections to return and offer himself as a member for the new
Parliament. To the surprise and dismay of the ministers he was returned
for Middlesex, a county the large number of whose voters made its choice
a real expression of public opinion. The choice of Wilkes at such a
moment was in effect a public condemnation of the House of Commons and
the ministerial system. The ministry however and the House alike shrank
from a fresh struggle with the agitator. But the king was eager for the
contest. After ten years of struggle and disappointment George had all
but reached his aim. The two forces which had as yet worsted him were
both of them paralysed. The Whigs were fatally divided, and discredited
in the eyes of the country by their antagonism to Pitt. Pitt on the
other hand was suddenly removed from the stage. The ministry was without
support in the country; and for Parliamentary support it was forced to
lean more and more on the men who looked for direction to the king
himself. At a moment when all hope of exerting any influence seemed
crushed by the return of Chatham to power, George found his influence
predominant as it had never been before. One force of opposition alone
remained in the public discontent; and at this he struck more fiercely
than ever. "I think it highly expedient to apprise you," he wrote to
Lord North, "that the expulsion of Mr. Wilkes appears to be very
essential, and must be effected." The ministers and the House of Commons
bowed to his will. By his non-appearance in court when charged with
libel, Wilkes had become an outlaw, and he was now thrown into prison on
his outlawry. Dangerous riots broke out in London and over the whole
country at the news of his arrest; and continued throughout the rest of
the year. In the midst of these tumults the ministry itself was torn
with internal discord. The adherents of Chatham found their position in
it an intolerable one; and Lord Shelburne announced his purpose of
resigning office. The announcement was followed in the autumn by the
resignation of Chatham himself. Though still prostrated by disease, the
Earl was sufficiently restored to grasp the actual position of the
Cabinet which traded on his name, and in October 1768 he withdrew
formally from the ministry.

The withdrawal of Chatham however, if it shook the ministry, only
rendered it still more dependent on the king; and in spite of its
reluctance George forced it to plunge into a decisive struggle with the
public opinion which was declaring itself in tumult and riot against the
system of government. The triumph of Wilkes had been driven home by the
election of a nominee of the great agitator as his colleague on a fresh
vacancy in the representation of Middlesex. The Government met the blow
by a show of vigour, and by calling on the magistrates of Surrey to
disperse the mobs; a summons which ended in conflicts between the crowd
and the soldiers, in which some of the rioters were slain. Wilkes at
once published the letter of the Secretary of State with comments on it
as a cause of bloodshed; and the ministry accepted the step as a
challenge to combat. If his comments were libellous, the libel was
cognizable in the ordinary courts of law. But no sooner had Parliament
assembled in 1769 than the House of Commons was called to take the
matter into its own hands. Witnesses were examined at its bar: the forms
of a trial were gone through; and as Wilkes persisted in his charge, he
was expelled as a libeller. Unluckily the course which had been adopted
put the House itself on trial before the constituencies. No sooner was
the new writ issued than Wilkes again presented himself as a candidate,
and was again elected by the shire of Middlesex. Violent and oppressive
as the course of the House of Commons had been, it had as yet acted
within its strict right, for no one questioned its possession of a
right of expulsion. But the defiance of Middlesex led it now to go
further. It resolved, "That Mr. Wilkes having been in this session of
Parliament expelled the House, was and is incapable of being elected a
member to serve in the present Parliament"; and it issued a writ for a
fresh election. Middlesex answered this insolent claim to limit the free
choice of a constituency by again returning Wilkes; and the House was
driven by its anger to a fresh and more outrageous usurpation. It again
expelled the member for Middlesex; and on his return for the third time
by an immense majority it voted that the candidate whom he had defeated,
Colonel Luttrell, ought to have been returned, and was the legal
representative of Middlesex. The Commons had not only limited at their
own arbitrary discretion the free election of the constituency, but they
had transferred its rights to themselves by seating Luttrell as member
in defiance of the deliberate choice of Wilkes by the freeholders of
Middlesex. The country at once rose indignantly against this violation
of constitutional law. Wilkes was elected an Alderman of London; and the
Mayor, Aldermen, and Livery petitioned the king to dissolve the
Parliament. A remonstrance from London and Westminster mooted a far
larger question. It said boldly that "there is a time when it is clearly
demonstrable that men cease to be representatives. That time is now
arrived. The House of Commons do not represent the people." Meanwhile a
writer who styled himself Junius attacked the Government in letters,
which, rancorous and unscrupulous as was their tone, gave a new power to
the literature of the Press by their clearness and terseness of
statement, the finish of their style, and the terrible vigour of their

[Sidenote: Parliamentary Reform.]

The storm however beat idly on the obstinacy of the king. The printer of
the bold letters was prosecuted, and the petitions and remonstrances of
London were haughtily rejected. The issue of the struggle verified the
forebodings of Burke. If, as Middlesex declared, and as the strife
itself proved, the House of Commons had ceased to represent the English
people, it was inevitable that men should look forward to measures that
would make it representative. At the beginning of 1770 a cessation of
the disease which had long held him prostrate enabled Chatham to
reappear in the House of Lords. He at once denounced the usurpations of
the Commons, and brought in a bill to declare them illegal. But his
genius made him the first to see that remedies of this sort were
inadequate to meet evils which really sprang from the fact that the
House of Commons no longer represented the people of England; and he
mooted a plan for its reform by an increase of the county members, who
then formed the most independent portion of the House. Further he could
not go, for even in the proposals he made he stood almost alone. The
Tories and the king's friends were not likely to welcome proposals which
would lessen the king's influence. On the other hand the Whigs under
Lord Rockingham had no sympathy with Parliamentary reform. As early as
1769, in his first political publication, their one philosophic thinker,
Edmund Burke, had met a proposal to enlarge the number of constituents
by a counter-proposal to lessen them. "It would be more in the spirit of
our constitution, and more agreeable to the fashion of our best laws,"
he said, "by lessening the number to add to the weight and independency
of our voters." Nor did the Whigs shrink with less haughty disdain from
the popular agitation in which public opinion was forced to express
itself, and which Chatham, while censuring its extravagance, as
deliberately encouraged. It is from the quarrel between Wilkes and the
House of Commons that we may date the influence of public meetings on
English politics. The gatherings of the Middlesex electors in his
support were preludes to the great meetings of Yorkshire freeholders in
which the question of Parliamentary reform rose into importance; and it
was in the movement for reform, and the establishment of corresponding
committees throughout the country for the purpose of promoting it, that
the power of political agitation first made itself felt. Political
societies and clubs took their part in this quickening and organization
of public opinion: and the spread of discussion, as well as the
influence which now began to be exercised by the appearance of vast
numbers of men in support of any political movement, proved that
Parliament, whether it would or no, must soon reckon with the sentiments
of the people at large.

[Sidenote: Publication of debates.]

But an agent far more effective than popular agitation was preparing to
bring the force of public opinion to bear directly on Parliament itself.
We have seen how much of the corruption of the House of Commons sprang
from the secrecy of Parliamentary proceedings, but this secrecy was the
harder to preserve as the nation woke to a greater interest in its own
affairs. From the accession of the Georges imperfect reports of the more
important discussions began to be published under the title of "The
Senate of Lilliput," and with feigned names or simple initials to denote
the speakers. The best known reports of this kind were those contributed
by Samuel Johnson to the _Gentleman's Magazine_. Obtained by stealth and
often merely recalled by memory, such reports were naturally inaccurate;
and their inaccuracy was eagerly seized on as a pretext for enforcing
the rules which guarded the secrecy of proceedings in Parliament. In
1771 the Commons issued a proclamation forbidding the publication of
debates; and six printers, who set it at defiance, were summoned to the
bar of the House. One who refused to appear was arrested by its
messenger; but the arrest brought the House into conflict with the
magistrates of London. The magistrates set aside its proclamation as
without legal force, released the printers, and sent the messenger to
prison for an unlawful arrest. The House sent the Lord Mayor to the
Tower, but the cheers of the crowds which followed him on his way told
that public opinion was again with the Press, and the attempt to hinder
its publication of Parliamentary proceedings dropped silently on his
release at the next prorogation. Few changes of equal importance have
been so quietly brought about. Not only was the responsibility of
members to their constituents made constant and effective by the
publication of their proceedings, but the nation itself was called in to
assist in the deliberations of its representatives. A new and wider
interest in its own affairs was roused in the people at large, and a new
political education was given to it through the discussion of every
subject of national importance in the Houses and the Press. Stimulated
and moulded into shape by free discussion, encouraged and made conscious
of its strength by public meetings, and gathered up and represented on
all its sides by the journals of the day, public opinion became a force
in practical statesmanship, influenced the course of debates, and
controlled, in a closer and more constant way than even Parliament
itself had been able to do, the actions of the Government. The
importance of its new position gave a weight to the Press which it had
never had before. The first great English journals date from this time.
With the _Morning Chronicle_, the _Morning Post_, the _Morning Herald_,
and the _Times_, all of which appeared in the interval between the
opening years of the American War and the beginning of the war with the
French Revolution, journalism took a new tone of responsibility and
intelligence. The hacks of Grub Street were superseded by publicists of
a high moral temper and literary excellence; and philosophers like
Coleridge or statesmen like Canning turned to influence public opinion
through the columns of the Press.

[Sidenote: Renewed strife with America.]

But great as the influence of opinion was destined to become, it was
feebly felt as yet; and George the Third was able to set Chatham's
policy disdainfully aside and to plunge into a contest far more
disastrous than his contest with the Press. In all the proceedings of
the last few years, what had galled him most had been the act which
averted a war between England and her colonies. To the king the
Americans were already "rebels," and the great statesman whose eloquence
had made their claims irresistible was a "trumpet of sedition." George
deplored in his correspondence with his ministers the repeal of the
Stamp Acts. "All men feel," he wrote, "that the fatal compliance in 1766
has increased the pretensions of the Americans to absolute
independence." But in England generally the question was regarded as
settled, while in America the news of the repeal had been received with
universal joy, and taken as a close of the strife. On both sides however
there remained a pride and irritability which only wise handling could
have allayed; and in the present state of English politics wise handling
was impossible. Only a few months indeed passed before the quarrel was
again reopened; for no sooner had the illness of Lord Chatham removed
him from any real share in public affairs than the wretched
administration which bore his name suspended the Assembly of New York on
its refusal to provide quarters for English troops, and resolved to
assert British sovereignty by levying import duties of trivial amount at
American ports. The Assembly of Massachusetts was dissolved on a
trifling quarrel with its Governor, and Boston was occupied for a time
by British soldiers. It was without a thought of any effective struggle
however that the Cabinet had entered on this course of vexation; and
when the remonstrances of the Legislatures of Massachusetts and
Virginia, coupled with a fall in the funds, warned the ministers of its
danger, they hastened to withdraw from it. In 1769 the troops were
recalled, and all duties, save one, abandoned. But with a fatal
obstinacy the king insisted on retaining the duty on tea as an
assertion of the supremacy of the mother country. Its retention was
enough to prevent any thorough restoration of good feeling. A series of
petty quarrels went on in almost every colony between the popular
assemblies and the Governors appointed by the Crown, and the colonists
persisted in their agreement to import nothing from the mother country.
As yet however there was no prospect of serious strife. In America the
influence of George Washington allayed the irritation of Virginia; while
Massachusetts contented itself with quarrelling with its Governor and
refusing to buy tea so long as the duty was levied.

The temper of the colonists was in the main that of the bulk of English
statesmen. Even George Grenville, though approving the retention of the
duty in question, abandoned all dream of further taxation. But the king
was now supreme. The reappearance and attack of Chatham at the opening
of 1770 had completed the ruin of the ministry. Those of his adherents
who still clung to it, Lord Camden, the Chancellor, Lord Granby, the
Commander-in-Chief, Dunning, the Solicitor-General, resigned their
posts. In a few days they were followed by the Duke of Grafton, who
since Chatham's resignation had been nominally the head of the
administration. All that remained of it were the Bedford faction and the
dependents of the king; but George did not hesitate to form these into a
ministry, and to place at its head the former Chancellor of the
Exchequer, Lord North, a man of some administrative ability, but
unconnected with any political party, steadily opposed to any
recognition of public opinion, and of an easy and indolent temper which
yielded against his better knowledge to the stubborn doggedness of the
king. The instinct of the country at once warned it of the results of
such a change; and the City of London put itself formally at the head of
the public discontent. In solemn addresses it called on George the Third
to dismiss his ministers and to dissolve the Parliament; and its action
was supported by petitions to the same effect from the greater counties.
In the following year it fought, as we have seen, a battle with the
House of Commons which established the freedom of the press. But the
efforts of the country failed before the paralysis of political action
which resulted from the position of the Whigs and the corruption of
Parliament. The deaths of Grenville and Bedford broke up two of the Whig
factions. Rockingham with the rest of the party held aloof from the
popular agitation, and drew more and more away from Chatham as he
favoured it. The Parliament remained steady to the king, and the king
clung more and more to the ministry. The ministry was in fact a mere
cloak for the direction of public affairs by George himself. "Not only
did he direct the minister," a careful observer tells us, "in all
important matters of foreign and domestic policy, but he instructed him
as to the management of debates in Parliament, suggested what motions
should be made or opposed, and how measures should be carried. He
reserved for himself all the patronage, he arranged the whole cast of
administration, settled the relative places and pretensions of ministers
of State, law officers, and members of the household, nominated and
promoted the English and Scotch judges, appointed and translated bishops
and deans, and dispensed other preferments in the Church. He disposed of
military governments, regiments, and commissions; and himself ordered
the marching of troops. He gave and refused titles, honours, and
pensions." All this immense patronage was persistently used for the
creation and maintenance in both Houses of Parliament of a majority
directed by the king himself; and its weight was seen in the steady
action of such a majority. It was seen yet more in the subjection to
which the ministry that bore North's name was reduced. George was in
fact the minister through the years of its existence; and the shame of
the darkest hour of English history lies wholly at his door.

[Sidenote: The Boston tea-riots.]

His fixed purpose was to seize on the first opportunity of undoing the
"fatal compliance of 1766." A trivial riot gave him at last the handle
he wanted. In December 1773 the arrival of some English ships laden with
tea kindled fresh irritation in Boston, where the non-importation
agreement was strictly enforced; and a mob in the disguise of Indians
boarded the vessels and flung their contents into the sea. The outrage
was deplored alike by the friends of America in England and by its own
leading statesmen; and both Washington and Chatham were prepared to
support the Government in its looked-for demand of redress. But the
thought of the king was not of redress but of repression, and he set
roughly aside the more conciliatory proposals of Lord North and his
fellow-ministers. They had already rejected as "frivolous and vexatious"
a petition of the Assembly of Massachusetts for the dismissal of two
public officers whose letters home advised the withdrawal of free
institutions from the colonies. They now seized on the riot as a pretext
for rigorous measures. A bill introduced into Parliament in the
beginning of 1774 punished Boston by closing its port against all
commerce. Another punished the State of Massachusetts by withdrawing the
liberties it had enjoyed ever since the Pilgrim Fathers landed on its
soil. Its charter was altered. The choice of its Council was transferred
from the people to the Crown, and the nomination of its judges was
transferred to the Governor. In the Governor too, by a provision more
outrageous than even these, was vested the right of sending all persons
charged with a share in the late disturbances to England for trial. To
enforce these measures of repression troops were sent to America, and
General Gage, the commander-in-chief there, was appointed Governor of
Massachusetts. The king's exultation at the prospect before him was
unbounded. "The die," he wrote triumphantly to his minister, "is cast.
The colonies must either triumph or submit." Four regiments would be
enough to bring the Americans to their senses. They would only be "lions
while we are lambs." "If we take the resolute part," he decided
solemnly, "they will undoubtedly be very meek."

[Sidenote: American resistance.]

Unluckily the blow at Massachusetts was received with anything but
meekness. The jealousies between colony and colony were hushed by a
sense that the liberties of all were in danger. If the British
Parliament could cancel the charter of Massachusetts and ruin the trade
of Boston, it could cancel the charter of every colony and ruin the
trade of every port from the St. Lawrence to the coast of Georgia. All,
therefore, adopted the cause of Massachusetts; and all their
Legislatures save that of Georgia sent delegates to a Congress which
assembled on the 4th of September at Philadelphia. Massachusetts took a
yet bolder course. Not one of its citizens would act under the new laws.
Its Assembly met in defiance of the Governor, called out the militia of
the State, and provided arms and ammunition for it. But there was still
room for reconciliation. The resolutions of the Congress had been
moderate, for Virginia was the wealthiest and most influential among
the States who sent delegates, and though resolute to resist the new
measures of the government, Virginia still clung to the mother country.
At home the merchants of London and Bristol pleaded loudly for
reconciliation; and in January 1775 Chatham again came forward to avert
a strife he had once before succeeded in preventing. With characteristic
largeness of feeling he set aside all half-measures or proposals of
compromise. "It is not cancelling a piece of parchment," he insisted,
"that can win back America: you must respect her fears and her
resentments." The bill which he introduced in concert with Franklin
provided for the repeal of the late Acts and for the security of the
colonial charters, abandoned the claim of taxation, and ordered the
recall of the troops. A colonial assembly was directed to meet and
provide means by which America might contribute towards the payment of
the public debt.

[Sidenote: Washington.]

Chatham's measure was contemptuously rejected by the Lords, as was a
similar measure of Burke's by the House of Commons, and a petition of
the City of London in favour of the Colonies by the king himself. With
the rejection of these efforts for conciliation began the great struggle
which ended eight years later in the severance of the American Colonies
from the British Crown. The Congress of delegates from the Colonial
Legislatures at once voted measures for general defence, ordered the
levy of an army, and set George Washington at its head. No nobler figure
ever stood in the forefront of a nation's life. Washington was grave and
courteous in address; his manners were simple and unpretending; his
silence and the serene calmness of his temper spoke of a perfect
self-mastery. But there was little in his outer bearing to reveal the
grandeur of soul which lifts his figure with all the simple majesty of
an ancient statue out of the smaller passions, the meaner impulses, of
the world around him. What recommended him for command was singly his
weight among his fellow-landowners of Virginia, and the experience of
war which he had gained by service in border contests with the French
and the Indians, as well as in Braddock's luckless expedition against
Fort Duquesne. It was only as the weary fight went on that the colonists
discovered, however slowly and imperfectly, the greatness of their
leader, his clear judgement, his heroic endurance, his silence under
difficulties, his calmness in the hour of danger or defeat, the patience
with which he waited, the quickness and hardness with which he struck,
the lofty and serene sense of duty that never swerved from its task
through resentment or jealousy, that never through war or peace felt the
touch of a meaner ambition, that knew no aim save that of guarding the
freedom of his fellow-countrymen, and no personal longing save that of
returning to his own fireside when their freedom was secured. It was
almost unconsciously that men learned to cling to Washington with a
trust and faith such as few other men have won, and to regard him with a
reverence which still hushes us in presence of his memory. But even
America hardly recognised his real greatness while he lived. It was only
when death set its seal on him that the voice of those whom he had
served so long proclaimed him "the man first in war, first in peace, and
first in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen."

[Sidenote: Declaration of Independence,]

Washington more than any of his fellow-colonists represented the
clinging of the Virginian landowners to the mother country, and his
acceptance of a military command proved that even the most moderate
among the colonists had no hope now save in arms. The struggle opened
with a skirmish between a party of English troops and a detachment of
militia at Lexington on the nineteenth of April 1775; and in a few days
twenty thousand colonists appeared before Boston. The Congress
reassembled, declared the States they represented "The United Colonies
of America," and undertook the work of government. Meanwhile ten
thousand fresh English troops landed at Boston. But the provincial
militia, in number almost double that of the British force which
prepared to attack them, seized a neck of ground which joins Boston to
the mainland; and though on the 17th of June they were driven from the
heights of Bunker's Hill which commanded the town, it was only after a
desperate struggle in which their bravery put an end for ever to the
taunts of cowardice which had been levelled against the colonists. "Are
the Yankees cowards?" shouted the men of Massachusetts as the first
English attack rolled back baffled down the hill-side. But a far truer
courage was shown in the stubborn endurance with which Washington's raw
militiamen, who gradually dwindled from sixteen thousand to ten,
ill-fed, ill-armed, and with but forty-five rounds of ammunition to each
man, cooped up through the winter a force of ten thousand veterans in
the lines of Boston. The spring of 1776 saw them force these troops to
withdraw from the city to New York, where the whole British army,
largely reinforced by mercenaries from Germany, was concentrated under
General Howe. Meanwhile a raid of the American General Arnold nearly
drove the British troops from Canada; and though his attempt broke down
before Quebec, it showed that all hope of reconciliation was over. The
colonies of the south, the last to join in the struggle, had in fact
expelled their Governors at the close of 1775; at the opening of the
next year Massachusetts instructed its delegates to support a complete
repudiation of the king's government by the Colonies; while the American
ports were thrown open to the world in defiance of the Navigation Acts.
These decisive steps were followed by the great act with which American
history begins, the adoption on the 4th of July 1776 by the delegates in
Congress after a fierce resistance from those of Pennsylvania and South
Carolina, and in spite of the abstention of those of New York, of a
Declaration of Independence. "We," ran its solemn words, "the
representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our
intentions, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are,
and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States."

[Sidenote: Saratoga.]

But the earlier successes of the colonists were soon followed by
suffering and defeat. Howe, an active general with a fine army at his
back, cleared Long Island in August by a victory at Brooklyn; and
Washington, whose force was weakened by withdrawals and defeat and
disheartened by the loyal tone of the State in which it was encamped,
was forced in the autumn of 1776 to evacuate New York and New Jersey,
and to fall back first on the Hudson and then on the Delaware. The
Congress prepared to fly from Philadelphia, and a general despair showed
itself in cries of peace. But a well-managed surprise and a daring march
on the rear of Howe's army restored the spirits of Washington's men, and
forced the English general in his turn to fall back on New York.
England however was now roused to more serious efforts; and the
campaign of 1777 opened with a combined attempt for the suppression of
the revolt. An army which had assembled in Canada under General Burgoyne
marched in June by way of the Lakes to seize the line of the Hudson.
Howe meanwhile sailed up the Chesapeake and advanced on Philadelphia,
the temporary capital of the United States and the seat of the Congress.
The rout of his little army of seven thousand men at Brandywine forced
Washington to abandon Philadelphia, and after a bold but unsuccessful
attack on his victors to retire into winter quarters on the banks of the
Schuylkill, where the unconquerable resolve with which he nerved his
handful of beaten and half-starved troops to face Howe's army in their
camp at Valley Forge is the noblest of his triumphs. But in the north
the war had taken another colour. Burgoyne's movement had been planned
in view of a junction with at least a part of Howe's army from New York;
a junction which would have enabled him to seize the line of the Hudson
and thus cut off New England from her sister provinces. But Howe was
held fast by Washington's resistance and unable to send a man to the
north; while the spirit of New England, which had grown dull as the war
rolled away from its borders, quickened again at the news of invasion
and of the outrages committed by the Indians employed among the English
troops. Its militia hurried from town and homestead to a camp with
which General Gates had barred the road to Albany; and after a fruitless
attack on the American lines, Burgoyne saw himself surrounded on the
heights of Saratoga. On the 17th of October his whole force was
compelled to surrender.

[Sidenote: France and America.]

The news of this calamity gave force to the words with which Chatham at
the very time of the surrender was pressing for peace. "You cannot
conquer America," he cried when men were glorying in Howe's successes
over Washington. "If I were an American as I am an Englishman, while a
foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my
arms--never, never, never!" Then, in a burst of indignant eloquence he
thundered against an outrage which was at that moment nerving New
England to its rally against Burgoyne, the use of the Indian with his
scalping-knife as an ally of England against her children. The proposals
which Chatham brought forward might perhaps in his hands even yet have
drawn America and the mother country together. His plan was one of
absolute conciliation. He looked forward to a federal union between the
settlements and Great Britain which would have left the Colonies
absolutely their own masters in all matters of internal government, and
linked only by ties of affection and loyalty to the general body of the
Empire. But the plan met with the same scornful rejection as his
previous proposals. Its rejection was at once followed by the news of
Saratoga, and by the yet more fatal news that this disaster had roused
the Bourbon Courts to avenge the humiliation of the Seven Years' War.
Crippled and impoverished as she was at its close, France could do
nothing to break the world-power which was rising in front of her; but
in the very moment of her defeat, the foresight of Choiseul had seen in
a future straggle between England and her Colonies a chance of ruining
the great fabric which Pitt's triumphs had built up. Nor was Pitt blind
to the steady resolve of France to renew the fight. In every attempt
which he had made to construct a Ministry he had laid down as the
corner-stone of his foreign policy a renewal of that alliance with the
Protestant States of North Germany against the House of Bourbon which
could alone save England from the dangers of the Family Compact. But his
efforts had been foiled alike by the resistance of the king, the timid
peacefulness of the Whigs, and at last by the distrust of England which
had been rooted in the mind of Frederick the Great through the treachery
of Lord Bute.

[Sidenote: Death of Chatham.]

The wisdom of his policy was now brought home by the coming of the
danger he had foreseen when the foresight of Choiseul was justified by
the outbreak of strife between England and America. Even then for a
while France looked idly on. Her king, Lewis the Sixteenth, was averse
from war; her treasury was empty; her government, scared by the growth
of new movements towards freedom about it, and fearful of endangering
the monarchy by the encouragement these would receive from a union with
the revolted Colonies, still doubted whether America had any real power
of resisting Britain. It was to no purpose that from the moment when
they declared themselves independent, the United States called on France
for aid; or that Franklin pressed their appeal on its government. A year
in fact passed without any decisive resolution to give aid to the
colonists. But the steady drift of French policy and the passion of the
French people pressed heavier every day on the hesitation of their
government; and the news of Saratoga forced its hand. The American
envoys at last succeeded in forming an alliance; and in February 1778 a
treaty offensive and defensive was concluded between France and America.
Lord North strove to meet the blow by fresh offers of conciliation, and
by a pledge to renounce for ever the right of direct taxation over the
Colonies; but he felt that such offers were fruitless, that the time for
conciliation was past, while all hope of reducing America by force of
arms had disappeared. In utter despair he pressed his resignation on the
king. But George was as obstinate for war as ever; and the country,
stung to the quick by the attack of France, backed passionately the
obstinacy of the king. But unlike George the Third, it instinctively
felt that if a hope still remained of retaining the friendship of the
Colonies and of baffling the efforts of the Bourbons, it lay in Lord
Chatham; and in spite of the king's resistance the voice of the whole
country called him back to power. The danger indeed which had scared
Lord North into resignation, and before which a large party of the Whigs
now advocated the acknowledgement of American independence, only woke
Chatham to his old daring and fire. He had revolted from a war against
Englishmen. But all his pride in English greatness, all his confidence
in English power, woke afresh at the challenge of France. His genius saw
indeed in the new danger a means of escape from the old. He would have
withdrawn every soldier from America, and flung the whole force of
Britain into the conflict with France. He believed that in the splendour
of triumphs over her older enemy England might be brought to terms of
amity which would win back the Colonies, and that the English blood of
the colonists themselves would be quickened to a fresh union with the
mother country by her struggle against a power from which she had so
lately rescued them. Till such a trial had been made, with all the
advantages that the magic of his name could give it in England and
America alike, he would not bow to a need that must wreck the great
Empire his hand had built up. Even at this hour there was a chance of
success for such a policy; but on the eve of Chatham's return to office
this chance was shattered by the hand of death. Broken with age and
disease, the Earl was borne to the House of Lords on the seventh of
April to utter in a few broken words his protest against the proposal to
surrender America. "I rejoice," he murmured, "that I am still alive to
lift up my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and noble
monarchy. His Majesty succeeded to an Empire as great in extent as its
reputation was unsullied. Seventeen years ago this people was the terror
of the world." He listened impatiently to the reply of the Duke of
Richmond, and again rose to his feet. But he had hardly risen when he
pressed his hand upon his heart, and falling back in a swoon was borne
home to die.

[Sidenote: England against Europe.]

How well founded was Chatham's faith in the power of Britain was seen in
the strife that now opened. From the hour of his death England entered
on a conflict with enemies whose circle gradually widened till she stood
single-handed against the world. At the close of 1778 the Family Compact
bore its full fruit; Spain joined the league of France and America
against her; and in the next year the joint fleets of the two powers
rode the masters of the Channel. They even threatened a descent on the
English coast. But dead as Chatham was, his cry woke a new life in
England. "Shall we fall prostrate," he exclaimed with his last breath,
"before the House of Bourbon?" and the divisions which had broken the
nation in its struggle with American liberty were hushed in the presence
of this danger to its own existence. The weakness of the Ministry was
compensated by the energy of England itself. For three years, from 1779
to 1782, General Elliott held against famine and bombardment from a
French and Spanish army the rock fortress of Gibraltar. Although a
quarrel over the right of search banded Holland and the Courts of the
North in an armed neutrality against her, and added the Dutch fleet to
the number of her assailants, England held her own at sea. In her
Eastern dependency, where France sought a counterpoise to the power of
Britain in that of the Mahrattas, freebooters of Hindoo blood whose
tribes had for a century past carried their raids over India from the
hills of the Western coast, and founded sovereignties in Guzerat, Malwa,
and Tanjore, the tenacity and resource of Warren Hastings, the first
Governor-General of British India, wrested victory from failure and
defeat. Though the wide schemes of conquest which he formed were for the
moment frustrated, the annexation of Benares, the extension of British
rule along the Ganges, the reduction of Oudh to virtual dependence, the
appearance of English armies in Central India, and the defeat of the
Sultan of Mysore, laid the foundation of an Indian Empire which his
genius was bold enough to foresee. Even in America the fortune of the
war seemed for a while to turn. After Burgoyne's surrender the English
generals had withdrawn from Pennsylvania, and bent all their efforts on
the Southern States, where a strong Royalist party still existed. The
capture of Charlestown and the successes of Lord Cornwallis in 1780 were
rendered fruitless by the obstinate resistance of General Greene; but
the United States remained weakened by bankruptcy and unnerved by hopes
of aid from France.

[Sidenote: America and Ireland.]

Hardly a year however had passed when the face of the war in America was
changed by a terrible disaster. Foiled in an attempt on North Carolina
by the refusal of his fellow-general, Sir Henry Clinton, to assist him,
Cornwallis fell back in 1781 on Virginia, and entrenched himself in the
lines of York Town. A sudden march of Washington brought him to the
front of the English troops at a moment when the French fleet held the
sea, and the British army was driven by famine in October to a surrender
as humiliating as that of Saratoga. The news fell like a thunderbolt on
the wretched Minister, who had till now suppressed at his master's order
his own conviction of the uselessness of further bloodshed. Opening his
arms and pacing wildly about the room, Lord North exclaimed, "It is all
over," and resigned. At this moment indeed the country seemed on the
brink of ruin. Humiliating as it was, England could have borne fifty
such calamities as the surrender at York Town. But in the very crisis of
the struggle with America she found herself confronted with a danger
nearer home. The revolt of one great dependency brought with it a
threatened revolt from another. In Ireland, as in the Colonies, England
had shrunk from carrying out either a national or an imperial policy.
She might have recognised Ireland as a free nationality, and bound it to
herself by federal bonds; or she might have absorbed it, as she had
absorbed Scotland, into the general mass of her own national life. With
a perverse ingenuity she had not only refrained from taking either of
these courses, but she had deliberately adopted the worst features of
both. Ireland was absolutely subject to Britain, but she formed no part
of it, she shared neither in its liberty nor its wealth. But on the
other hand she was allowed no national existence of her own. While all
the outer seeming of national life was left, while Ireland possessed in
name an army, a Parliament, a magistracy, the mass of the Irish people
was as strange to all this life as the savages of Polynesia. Every
Catholic Irishman, and there were five Irish Catholics to every Irish
Protestant, was treated as a stranger and a foreigner in his own
country. The House of Lords, the House of Commons, the magistracy, all
corporate offices in towns, all ranks in the army, the bench, the bar,
the whole administration of government or justice, were closed against
Catholics. The very right of voting for their representatives in
Parliament was denied them. Few Catholic landowners had been left by the
sweeping confiscations which had followed the successive revolts of the
island, and oppressive laws forced even these few with scant exceptions
to profess Protestantism. Necessity indeed had brought about a practical
toleration of their religion and their worship; but in all social and
political matters the native Catholics, in other words the immense
majority of the people of Ireland, were simply hewers of wood and
drawers of water for Protestant masters, for masters who still looked on
themselves as mere settlers, who boasted of their Scotch or English
extraction, and who regarded the name of "Irishman" as an insult.

[Sidenote: Irish Government.]

But small as was this Protestant body, one-half of it fared little
better as far as power was concerned than the Catholics. The
Presbyterians, who formed the bulk of the Ulster settlers, were shut out
by law from all civil, military, and municipal offices. The
administration and justice of the country were thus kept rigidly in the
hands of members of the Established Church, a body which comprised
about a twelfth of the population of the island, while its government
was practically monopolised by a few great Protestant landowners. The
rotten boroughs, which had originally been created to make the Irish
Parliament dependent on the Crown, had by this time fallen under the
influence of the adjacent landlords, whose command of these made them
masters of the House of Commons while they themselves formed in person
the House of Peers. To such a length had this system been carried that
at the time of the Union the great majority of the boroughs lay in the
hands of a very few families. Two-thirds of the House of Commons, in
fact, was returned by a small group of nobles, who were recognised as
"parliamentary undertakers," and who undertook to "manage" Parliament on
their own terms. Irish politics was for these men a mere means of public
plunder; they were glutted with pensions, preferments, and bribes in
hard cash, in return for their services; they were the advisers of every
Lord-Lieutenant and the practical governors of the country. The results
were what might have been expected. For more than a century Ireland was
the worst governed country in Europe. That its government was not even
worse than it was, was due to its connection with England and the
subordination of its Parliament to the English Privy Council. The Irish
Parliament had no power of originating legislative or financial
measures, and could only say "yes" or "no" to Acts laid before it by
the Privy Council in England. The English Parliament too claimed the
right of binding Ireland as well as England by its enactments, and one
of its statutes transferred the appellate jurisdiction of the Irish
Peerage to the English House of Lords. Galling as these restrictions
were to the plundering aristocracy of Ireland, they formed a useful
check on its tyranny. But as if to compensate for the benefits of this
protection, England did her best from the time of William the Third to
annihilate Irish commerce and to ruin Irish agriculture. Statutes passed
by the jealousy of English landowners forbade the export of Irish cattle
or sheep to English ports. The export of wool was forbidden lest it
might interfere with the profits of English wool-growers. Poverty was
thus added to the curse of misgovernment; and poverty deepened with the
rapid growth of the native population, a growth due in great part to the
physical misery and moral degradation of their lives, till famine turned
the country into a hell.

[Sidenote: The Volunteers.]

The bitter lesson of the last conquest however long sufficed to check
all dreams of revolt among the native Irish; and the outbreaks which
sprang from time to time out of the general misery and discontent were
purely social in their character, and were roughly repressed by the
ruling class. When political revolt at last threatened English
supremacy over Ireland, the threat came from the ruling class itself.
Some timid efforts made by the English Government at the accession of
George the Third to control its tyranny were resented by a refusal of
money bills, and by a cry for the removal of the checks imposed on the
independence of the Irish Parliament. But it was not till the American
war that this cry became a political danger. The threat of a French
invasion and the want of any regular force to oppose it compelled the
Government to call on Ireland to provide for its own defence, and in
answer to its call forty thousand volunteers appeared in arms in 1779.
The force was wholly a Protestant one, commanded by Protestant officers,
and it was turned to account by the Protestant oligarchy. Threats of an
armed revolt backed the eloquence of two Parliamentary leaders, Grattan
and Flood, in their demand for the repeal of Poynings' Act, which took
all power of initiative legislation from the Irish Parliament, and for
the recognition of the Irish House of Lords as an ultimate Court of
Appeal. But the Volunteers were forced to bid for the support of the
native Catholics, who looked with indifference on these quarrels of
their masters, by claiming for them a relaxation of the penal laws
against the exercise of their religion and of some of their most
oppressive disabilities. So real was the danger that England was forced
to give way. The first demands were in effect a claim for national
independence. But there were no means of resisting them, for England was
without a soldier to oppose the Volunteers, while she was pressed hard
by the league of Europe and America against her. In the face of such a
rising close at home, it became plain even to the most dogged of Tories
that it was impossible to continue a strife across three thousand miles
of sea; and to deal with the attitude of Ireland became even a more
pressing need of the Ministry which followed that of Lord North than the
need of dealing with America.

[Sidenote: End of the war.]

The blow which had shattered the attempt of England to wield an
autocratic power over her Colonies had shattered the attempt of its king
to establish an autocratic power over England itself. The Ministry which
bore the name of Lord North had been a mere screen for the
administration of George the Third, and its ruin was the ruin of the
system he had striven to build up. Never again was the Crown to possess
such a power as he had wielded during the past ten years. For the moment
however there was nothing to mark so decisive a change; and both to the
king and his opponents it must have seemed only a new turn in the
political game which they were playing when in March 1782 the Whigs
returned to office. Rockingham was still at the head of the party; and
on Rockingham fell the double task of satisfying Ireland and of putting
an end, at any cost, to the war with the United States. The task
involved in both quarters a humiliating surrender; for neither Ireland
nor America would be satisfied save by a full concession of their
claims. It needed the bitter stress of necessity to induce the English
Parliament to follow Rockingham's counsels, but the need was too urgent
to suffer their rejection. The Houses therefore abandoned by a formal
statute the judicial and legislative supremacy they had till then
asserted over the Parliament of Ireland; and from this moment England
and Ireland were simply held together by the fact that the sovereign of
the one island was also the sovereign of the other. The grant of
independence to the one great dependency made it easier to recognise the
freedom of the other. Rockingham in fact took office with the purpose of
winning peace by a full acknowledgement of the independence of the
United States, and negotiations were soon entered into for that purpose.

[Sidenote: The Peace.]

But America was bound by its league with the Bourbon Courts to make no
peace save one common to its allies, and from its allies peace was hard
to win without concessions which would have stripped from England all
that remained of her older greatness. With the revolt of Ireland and the
surrender of Cornwallis the hopes of her enemies rose high. Spain
refused to suspend hostilities at any other price than the surrender of
Gibraltar; while France proposed that England should give up all her
Indian conquests save Bengal. The triumph of the Bourbons indeed seemed
secure. If terms like these were accepted the world-empire of Britain
was at an end. Stripped of her Colonies in America, stripped of her rule
in India, matched on the very ocean by rival fleets, England sank back
into a European State, into the England of the first Georges. And yet
there seemed little chance of her holding out against the demands of
such a league as fronted her at a moment when her military power was
paralysed by the attitude of Ireland. But the true basis of her
world-power lay on the sea. It was by her command of the sea that such
an empire could alone be possible; nor was it possible so long as she
commanded the sea for all the armies of the Bourbon powers to rob her of
it. And at this moment the command of the seas again became her own. On
the 16th of January 1780 Admiral Rodney, the greatest of English seamen
save Nelson and Blake, encountered the Spanish fleet off Cape St.
Vincent, and only four of its vessels escaped to Cadiz. At the opening
of 1782 the triumphs of the French admiral De Grasse called him to the
West Indies; and on the 12th of April a manoeuvre which he was the
first to introduce broke his opponent's line, and drove the French fleet
shattered from the Atlantic. With Rodney's last victory the struggle of
the Bourbons was really over, for no means remained of attacking their
enemy save at Gibraltar, and here a last attack of the joint force
gathered against it was repulsed by the heroism of Elliott. Nor would
America wait any longer for the satisfaction of her allies. In November
her commissioners signed the preliminaries of a peace in which Britain
reserved to herself on the American continent only Canada and the island
of Newfoundland; and acknowledged without reserve the independence of
the United States.

[Sidenote: England and the United States.]

The action of America ended the war; and the treaty of peace with the
United States was a prelude to treaties of peace with the Bourbon
powers. Their actual gains were insignificant. France indeed won nothing
in the treaties with which the war ended; Spain gained only Florida and
Minorca. Nor could they feel even in this hour of their triumph that the
end at which they aimed had been fully reached. In half their great
effort against the world-power of Britain they had utterly failed. She
had even won ground in India. In America itself she still retained the
northern dominion of Canada. Her West Indian islands remained intact.
Above all, she had asserted more nobly than ever her command of the sea,
and with it the possibility of building up a fresh power in such lands
as Cook had called her to. But at the close of the war there was less
thought of what she had retained than of what she had lost. She was
parted from her American Colonies; and at the moment such a parting
seemed to be the knell of her greatness. In wealth, in population, the
American Colonies far surpassed all that remained of her Empire; and the
American Colonies were irrecoverably gone. It is no wonder that in the
first shock of such a loss England looked on herself as on the verge of
ruin, or that the Bourbon Courts believed her position as a world-power
to be practically at an end. How utterly groundless such a conception
was the coming years were to show. The energies of England were in fact
spurred to new efforts by the crisis in her fortunes. The industrial
developement which followed the war gave her a material supremacy such
as she had never known before, and the rapid growth of wealth which this
industry brought with it raised her again into a mother of nations as
her settlers built up in the waters of the Pacific Colonies as great as
those which she had lost on the coast of America. But if the Bourbons
overrated their triumph in one way, they immensely underrated it in
another. Whatever might be the importance of American independence in
the history of England, it was of unequalled moment in the history of
the world. If it crippled for a while the supremacy of the English
nation, it founded the supremacy of the English race. From the hour of
American Independence the life of the English People has flowed not in
one current, but in two; and while the older has shown little signs of
lessening, the younger has fast risen to a greatness which has changed
the face of the world. In 1783 America was a nation of three millions of
inhabitants, scattered thinly along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It
is now a nation of forty millions, stretching over the whole continent
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In wealth and material energy, as in
numbers, it far surpasses the mother country from which it sprang. It is
already the main branch of the English People; and in the days that are
at hand the main current of that people's history must run along the
channel not of the Thames or the Mersey, but of the Hudson and the
Mississippi. But distinct as these currents are, every year proves more
clearly that in spirit the English People is one. The distance that
parted England from America lessens every day. The ties that unite them
grow every day stronger. The social and political differences that
threatened a hundred years ago to form an impassable barrier between
them grow every day less. Against this silent and inevitable drift of
things the spirit of narrow isolation on either side the Atlantic
struggles in vain. It is possible that the two branches of the English
People will remain for ever separate political existences. It is likely
enough that the older of them may again break in twain, and that the
English People in the Pacific may assert as distinct a national life as
the two English Peoples on either side the Atlantic. But the spirit,
the influence, of all these branches will remain one. And in thus
remaining one, before half-a-century is over it will change the face of
the world. As two hundred millions of Englishmen fill the valley of the
Mississippi, as fifty millions of Englishmen assert their lordship over
Australasia, this vast power will tell through Britain on the old world
of Europe, whose nations will have shrunk into insignificance before it.
What the issues of such a world-wide change may be, not even the wildest
dreamer would dare to dream. But one issue is inevitable. In the
centuries that lie before us, the primacy of the world will lie with the
English People. English institutions, English speech, English thought,
will become the main features of the political, the social, and the
intellectual life of mankind.




[Sidenote: England in the American War.]

That in the creation of the United States the world had reached one of
the turning-points in its history seems at the time to have entered into
the thought of not a single European statesman. What startled men most
at the moment was the discovery that England herself was far from being
ruined by the greatness of her defeat. She rose from it indeed stronger
and more vigorous than ever. Never had she shown a mightier energy than
in the struggle against France which followed only ten years after her
loss of America, nor did she ever stand higher among the nations than on
the day of Waterloo. Her internal developement was as imposing as her
outer grandeur. Weary and disgraceful indeed as was the strife with the
Colonies, the years of its progress were years of as mighty a revolution
for the mother country as for its child. The England that is about us
dates from the American War. It was then that the moral, the
philanthropic, the religious ideas which have moulded English society
into its present shape first broke the spiritual torpor of the
eighteenth century. It was then that with the wider diffusion of
intelligence our literature woke to a nobler and larger life which
fitted it to become the mouthpiece of every national emotion. It was
then that by a change unparalleled in history the country laid aside her
older agricultural character to develope industrial forces which made
her at a single bound the workshop of the world. Amidst the turmoil of
the early years of George the Third Brindley was silently covering
England with canals, and Watt as silently perfecting his invention of
the steam-engine. It was amidst the strife with America that Adam Smith
regenerated our economical, Gibbon our historical, and Burke our
political literature; and peace was hardly declared when the appearance
of Crabbe, Cowper, and Burns heralded a new birth of our poetry.

[Sidenote: The religious movement.]

No names so illustrious as these marked the more silent but even deeper
change in the religious temper of the country. It dates, as we have
seen, from the work of the Wesleys, but the Methodists themselves were
the least result of the Methodist revival. Its action upon the Church
broke the lethargy of the clergy; and the "Evangelical" movement, which
found representatives like Newton and Cecil within the pale of the
Establishment, made the fox-hunting parson and the absentee rector at
last impossible. In Walpole's day the English clergy were the idlest and
the most lifeless in the world. In our own time no body of religious
ministers surpasses them in piety, in philanthropic energy, or in
popular regard. But the movement was far from being limited to the
Methodists or the clergy. In the nation at large appeared a new moral
enthusiasm which, rigid and pedantic as it often seemed, was still
healthy in its social tone, and whose power showed itself in a gradual
disappearance of the profligacy which had disgraced the upper classes,
and the foulness which had infested literature ever since the
Restoration. A yet nobler result of the religious revival was the steady
attempt, which has never ceased from that day to this, to remedy the
guilt, the ignorance, the physical suffering, the social degradation of
the profligate and the poor. It was not till the Wesleyan impulse had
done its work that this philanthropic impulse began. The Sunday Schools
established by Mr. Raikes of Gloucester at the close of the century were
the beginnings of popular education. By writings and by her own personal
example Hannah More drew the sympathy of England to the poverty and
crime of the agricultural labourer. A passionate impulse of human
sympathy with the wronged and afflicted raised hospitals, endowed
charities, built churches, sent missionaries to the heathen, supported
Burke in his plea for the Hindoo, and Clarkson and Wilberforce in their
crusade against the iniquity of the slave trade.

[Sidenote: Howard.]

It is only the moral chivalry of his labours that amongst a crowd of
philanthropists draws us most to the work and character of John Howard.
The sympathy which all were feeling for the sufferings of mankind Howard
felt for the sufferings of the worst and most hapless of men. With
wonderful ardour and perseverance he devoted himself to the cause of the
debtor, the felon, and the murderer. An appointment to the office of
High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1774 drew his attention to the state of
the prisons which were placed under his care; and from that time the
quiet country gentleman, whose only occupation had been reading his
Bible and studying his thermometer, became the most energetic and
zealous of reformers. Before a year was over he had personally visited
almost every English gaol, and in nearly all of them he found frightful
abuses which had been noticed half-a-century before, but which had been
left unredressed by Parliament. Gaolers who bought their places were
paid by fees, and suffered to extort what they could. Even when
acquitted, men were dragged back to their cells for want of funds to
discharge the sums they owed to their keepers. Debtors and felons were
huddled together in the prisons which Howard found crowded by the
legislation of the day. No separation was preserved between different
sexes, no criminal discipline was enforced. Every gaol was a chaos of
cruelty and the foulest immorality, from which the prisoner could only
escape by sheer starvation or through the gaol-fever that festered
without ceasing in these haunts of misery. Howard saw everything with
his own eyes, he tested every suffering by his own experience. In one
prison he found a cell so narrow and noisome that the poor wretch who
inhabited it begged as a mercy for hanging. Howard shut himself up in
the cell and bore its darkness and foulness till nature could bear no
more. It was by work of this sort and by the faithful pictures of such
scenes which it enabled him to give that he brought about their reform.
The book in which he recorded his terrible experience and the plans
which he submitted for the reformation of criminals made him the father,
so far as England is concerned, of prison discipline. But his labours
were far from being confined to England. In journey after journey he
visited the gaols of Holland and Germany, till his longing to discover
some means of checking the fatal progress of the Plague led him to
examine the lazarettos of Europe and the East. He was still engaged in
this work of charity when he was seized by a malignant fever at Cherson
in Southern Russia, and "laid quietly in the earth," as he desired.

[Sidenote: Trial of Hastings.]

In Howard's later labours the new sentiment of humanity had carried him
far beyond the bounds of national sympathy; and forces at once of pity
and religion told more and more in begetting a consciousness of the
common brotherhood of man. Even at the close of the American war this
feeling had become strong enough to colour our political life. It told
on the attitude of England towards its great dependency of India.
Discussions over rival plans of Indian administration diffused a sense
of national responsibility for its good government, and there was a
general resolve that the security against injustice and misrule which
was enjoyed by the poorest Englishman should be enjoyed by the poorest
Hindoo. It was this resolve which expressed itself in 1786 in the trial
of Warren Hastings. Hastings returned from India at the close of the war
with the hope of rewards as great as those of Clive. He had saved all
that Clive had won. He had laid the foundation of a vast empire in the
East. He had shown rare powers of administration, and the foresight,
courage, and temperance which mark the born ruler of men. But with him
came rumours of tyranny and wrong. Even those who admitted the wisdom
and glory of his rule shrank from its terrible ruthlessness. He was
charged with having sold for a vast sum the services of British troops
to crush the free tribes of the Rohillas, with having wrung
half-a-million by extortion from the Rajah of Benares, with having
extorted by torture and starvation more than a million from the
Princesses of Oudh. He was accused of having kept his hold upon power by
measures as unscrupulous, and with having murdered a native who opposed
him by an abuse of the forms of English law. On almost all these charges
the cooler judgement of later inquirers has acquitted Warren Hastings of
guilt. Personally there can be little doubt that he had done much to
secure to the new subjects of Britain a just and peaceable government.
What was hardest and most pitiless in his rule had been simply a
carrying out of the system of administration which was native to India
and which he found existing there. But such a system was alien from the
new humanity of Englishmen; and few dared to vindicate Hastings when
Burke in words of passionate earnestness moved for his impeachment.

[Sidenote: The Slave-Trade.]

The great trial lingered on for years; and in the long run Hastings
secured an acquittal. But the end at which the impeachment aimed had
really been won. The attention, the sympathy of Englishmen had been
drawn across distant seas to a race utterly strange to them; and the
peasant of Cornwall or Cumberland had learned how to thrill at the
suffering of a peasant of Bengal. And even while the trial was going on
a yet wider extension of English sympathy made itself felt. The
hero-seamen of Elizabeth had not blushed to make gain out of kidnapping
negroes and selling them into slavery. One of the profits which England
bought by the triumphs of Marlborough was a right to a monopoly of the
slave-trade between Africa and the Spanish dominions; and it was England
that had planted slavery in her American colonies and her West Indian
islands. Half the wealth of Liverpool, in fact, was drawn from the
traffic of its merchants in human flesh. The horrors and iniquity of the
trade, the ruin and degradation of Africa which it brought about, the
oppression of the negro himself, had till now moved no pity among
Englishmen. But as the spirit of humanity told on the people this apathy
suddenly disappeared. Philanthropy allied itself with the new religious
movement in an attack on the slave-trade. At the close of the American
war its evils began to be felt so widely and deeply that the question
forced itself into politics. "After a conversation in the open air at
the root of an old tree, just above the steep descent into the Vale of
Keston," with the younger Pitt, his friend, William Wilberforce, whose
position as a representative of the evangelical party gave weight to his
advocacy of such a cause, resolved to bring in a bill for the abolition
of the slave-trade. The bill which he brought forward in 1788 fell
before the opposition of the Liverpool slave merchants and the general
indifference of the House of Commons. But the movement gathered fresh
strength in the country with every year; in spite of the absorption of
England in the struggle with the French Revolution, it succeeded at last
in forcing on Parliament the abolition of the traffic in slaves; and
this abolition was followed a few years later by the abolition of
slavery itself.

[Sidenote: English manufactures.]

Time was to show how wide were the issues to which this religious
developement and the sentiment of humanity which it generated were to
tend. But at the moment they told less directly and immediately on the
political and social life of England than an industrial revolution which
accompanied them. Though England already stood in the first rank of
commercial states at the accession of George the Third, her industrial
life at home was mainly agricultural. The growth of her manufactures was
steady, but it continued to be slow; they gave employment as yet to but
a small part of the population, and added in no great degree to the
national wealth. The wool-trade remained the largest, as it was the
oldest of them; it had gradually established itself in Norfolk, the West
Riding of Yorkshire, and the counties of the south-west; while the
manufacture of cotton was still almost limited to Manchester and Bolton,
and though winning on its rival remained so unimportant that in the
middle of the eighteenth century the export of cotton goods hardly
reached the value of fifty thousand a year. There was the same slow and
steady progress in the linen trade of Belfast and Dundee, and the silks
of Spitalfields. But as yet textile manufactures contributed little to
the national resources; nor did these resources owe much to the working
of our minerals. The coal trade was small, and limited by the cost of
carriage as well as by ignorance of any mode of employing coal in
iron-smelting. On the other hand the scarcity of wood, which was used
for that purpose, limited the production of iron. In 1750 only eighteen
thousand tons were produced in England; and four-fifths of its iron
goods were imported from Sweden. Nor did there seem any likelihood of a
rapid change. Skilled labour was scarce; and the processes of
manufacture were too rude to allow any large increase of production. It
was only where a stream gave force to turn a mill-wheel that the
wool-worker could establish his factory; and cotton was as yet spun by
hand in the cottages, the "spinsters" of the family sitting with their
distaffs round the weaver's hand-loom.

[Sidenote: Canals.]

But even had the processes of production become more efficient, they
would have been rendered useless by the inefficiency of the means of
distribution. The older main roads, which had lasted fairly through the
Middle Ages, had broken down in later times before the growth of traffic
and the increase of wagons and carriages. The new lines of trade lay
often along mere country lanes which had never been more than
horse-tracks, and to drive heavy wains through lanes like these was all
but impossible. Much of the woollen trade therefore had to be carried on
by means of long trains of pack-horses; and in most cases the cost of
carriage added heavily to the price of production. In the case of yet
heavier goods, such as coal, distribution was almost impracticable, save
along the greater rivers or in districts accessible from the sea. But at
the moment when England was just plunging into the Seven Years' War the
enterprise of a duke and a millwright solved this problem of carriage,
and started the country on a mighty course of industry which was to
change both its social and its political character. Francis, Duke of
Bridgewater, was a shy, dreamy man, whom a disappointment in love drove
to a life of isolation on his estates in the north. He was the possessor
of collieries at Worsley whose value depended on their finding a market
at the neighbouring town of Manchester; and it was to bring his coal to
this market that he resolved to drive a canal from the mine to the river
Irwell. With singular good luck he found the means of carrying out his
design in a self-taught mechanic, James Brindley. But in Brindley's mind
the scheme widened far beyond the plans of the duke. Canals, as he
conceived them, were no longer to serve as mere adjuncts to rivers; on
the contrary, "rivers were only meant," he said, "to feed canals"; and
instead of ending in the Irwell, he carried the duke's canal by an
aqueduct across that river to Manchester itself. What Brindley had
discovered was in fact the water-road, a means of carrying heavy goods
with the least resistance, and therefore the least cost, from the point
of production to the point of sale; and England at once seized on his
discovery to free itself from the bondage in which it had been held.
From the year 1767, when Brindley completed his enterprise, a network of
such water-roads was flung over the country; and before the movement had
spent its force Great Britain alone was traversed in every direction by
three thousand miles of navigable canals.

[Sidenote: Mineral developement.]

To English trade the canal opened up the richest of all markets, the
market of England itself. Every part of the country was practically
thrown open to the manufacturer: and the impulse which was given by this
facility of carriage was at once felt in a vast developement of
production. But such a developement would have been impossible had not
the discovery of this new mode of distribution been accompanied by the
discovery of a new productive force. In the coal which lay beneath her
soil England possessed a store of force which had hitherto remained
almost useless. But its effects were now to make themselves felt. The
first instance of the power of coal was shown in utilizing the stores
of iron which had lain side by side with it in the northern counties,
but which had lain there unworked through the scarcity of wood, which
was looked upon as the only fuel by which it could be smelted. In the
middle of the eighteenth century a process for smelting iron with coal
turned out to be effective; and the whole aspect of the iron-trade was
at once revolutionized. In fifty years the annual production of iron in
Great Britain rose from under twenty thousand to more than one hundred
and seventy thousand tons. During the fifty years that followed it rose
to six millions of tons. Iron was to become the working material of the
modern world; and it is its production of iron which more than all else
has placed England at the head of industrial Europe. But iron was not
the only metal which coal drew from the soil to swell the national
wealth. The increase in its production was rivalled by that of lead,
copper, and tin; and the "mining districts" soon gathered a population
which raised them into social as well as economical importance.

[Sidenote: The Steam Engine.]

But it was not in its direct application to metallurgy that coal was
destined to produce its most amazing effects. What was needed to turn
England into a manufacturing country was some means of transforming the
force stored up in coal into a labour force; and it was this
transformation which was now brought about through the agency of steam.
Engines in which steam was used as a means of draining mines had long
been in use; but the power relied on was mainly that of the weight of
the air pressing on a piston beneath which a vacuum had been created by
the condensation of steam; and the economical use of such engines was
checked by the waste of fuel which resulted from the cooling of the
cylinder at each condensation, and from the expenditure of heat in again
raising it to its old temperature before a fresh stroke of the piston
was possible. Both these obstacles were removed by the ingenuity of
James Watt. Watt was a working engineer at Glasgow, whose mind had for
some time been bent on the improvement of the steam-engine; but it was
not till the spring of 1765, amidst the political turmoil which
characterized the early reign of George the Third, that as he strolled
on a Sunday afternoon across the Green of Glasgow the means of effecting
it burst on him. "I had gone," he says, "to take a walk on a fine
Sabbath afternoon. I had entered the Green by the gate at the foot of
Charlotte Street, and had passed the old washing-house. I was thinking
upon the engine at the time, and had got as far as the herd's house,
when the idea came into my mind that as steam was an elastic body it
would rush into a vacuum, and if a communication were made between the
cylinder and an exhausted vessel it would rush into it, and might there
be condensed without cooling the cylinder. I had not walked farther
than the Golf-House when the whole thing was arranged in my mind." The
employment of a separate condenser, with the entire discarding of any
other force in its action save that of steam itself, changed the whole
conditions of the steam-engine. On the eve of the American war, in 1776,
its use passed beyond the mere draining of mines; and it was rapidly
adopted as a motive-force for all kinds of manufacturing industry.

[Sidenote: The Cotton manufactures.]

The almost unlimited supply of labour-power in the steam-engine came at
a time when the existing supply of manual labour was proving utterly
inadequate to cope with the demands of the manufacturer. This was
especially the case in textile fabrics. In its earlier stages the
manufacture of cotton had been retarded by the difficulty with which the
weavers obtained a sufficient supply of cotton yarn from the spinsters;
and this difficulty became yet greater when the invention of the
fly-shuttle enabled one weaver to do in a single day what had hitherto
been the work of two. The difficulty was solved by a Blackburn weaver,
John Hargreaves, who noticed that his wife's spindle, which had been
accidentally upset, continued to revolve in an upright position on the
floor, while the thread was still spinning in her hand. The hint led him
to connect a number of spindles with a single wheel, and thus to enable
one spinster to do the work of eight. Hargreaves's invention only
spurred the wits of a barber's assistant, Richard Arkwright, to yet
greater improvement in the construction of a machine for spinning by
rollers revolving at different rates of speed; and this in its turn was
improved and developed in the "mule" of a Bolton weaver, Samuel
Crompton. The result of these inventions was to reverse the difficulty
which hampered the trade, for the supply of yarn became so rapid and
unlimited as to outrun the power of the hand-loom weaver to consume it;
but a few years after the close of the American war this difficulty was
met by the discovery of the power-loom, which replaced the weaver by
machinery. Ingenious however as these inventions were, they would have
remained comparatively useless had it not been for the revelation of a
new and inexhaustible labour-force in the steam-engine. It was the
combination of such a force with such means of applying it that enabled
Britain during the terrible years of her struggle with France and
Napoleon to all but monopolise the woollen and cotton trades, and raised
her into the greatest manufacturing country that the world had seen.

How mighty a force this industrial revolution was to exert on English
politics and English society time was to show. By the transfer of wealth
and population from southern to northern England, and from the country
to the town, it was in the next fifty years to set on foot a revolution
in both, the results of which have still to be disclosed. Of such a
revolution no English statesman as yet had a glimpse; but already the
growth of industrial energy and industrial wealth was telling on the
conditions of English statesmanship. The manufacturer and the merchant
were coming fast to the front; and their temper was more menacing to the
monopoly of political power by the Whigs and the landed aristocracy whom
the Whigs represented than the temper of the king himself. Already
public opinion was finding in them a new concentration and weight; and
it was certain that as the representatives of public opinion they would
at last demand a share in the work of government. Such a demand might
have been delayed for a while had they been content with the way in
which England was governed. But they were far from being content with
it. To no class indeed could the selfishness, the corruption, the
factiousness, and the administrative inefficiency of the ruling order be
more utterly odious. Their tone was moral, and they were influenced more
and more by the religious and philanthropic movement about them. As men
of business, they revolted against the waste and mismanagement which
seemed to have become normal in every department of government. Their
patriotism, their pride in England's greatness, alienated them from men
who looked upon political eminence as a means of personal gain. Above
all their personal energy, their consciousness of wealth and power, and
to some extent the natural jealousy of the trader against the country
gentleman, urged them to press for an overthrow of the existing
monopoly, and for a fairer distribution of political influence. But such
a pressure could only bring them into conflict with the Whigs whom the
fall of Lord North had recalled to office. Though the Tories had now
grown to a compact body of a hundred and fifty members, the Whigs still
remained superior to their rivals in numbers and ability as well as in
distinctness of political aim; for the return of the Bedford section to
the general body of the party, as well as its steady opposition to the
American war, had restored much of their early cohesion. But this
reunion only strengthened their aristocratic and exclusive tendencies,
and widened the breach which was steadily opening on questions such as
Parliamentary Reform between the bulk of the Whigs and the small
fragment of their party which remained true to the more popular
sympathies of Chatham.

[Sidenote: William Pitt.]

Lord Shelburne stood at the head of the Chatham party, and it was
reinforced at this moment by the entry into Parliament of the second and
youngest son of Chatham himself. William Pitt had hardly reached his
twenty-second year; but he left college with the learning of a ripe
scholar, and his ready and sonorous eloquence had been matured by his
father's teaching. "He will be one of the first men in Parliament," said
a member to Charles Fox, the Whig leader in the Commons, after Pitt's
earliest speech in that house. "He is so already," replied Fox. Young as
he was, the haughty self-esteem of the new statesman breathed in every
movement of his tall, spare figure, in the hard lines of a countenance
which none but his closer friends saw lighted by a smile, in his cold
and repulsive address, his invariable gravity of demeanour, and his
habitual air of command. But none knew how great the qualities were
which lay beneath this haughty exterior; nor had any one guessed how
soon this "boy," as his rivals mockingly styled him, was to crush every
opponent and to hold England at his will. There was only a smile of
wonder when he refused any of the minor posts which were offered him in
the Rockingham administration, and the wonder passed into angry sarcasms
as soon as it was known that he claimed, if he took office at all, to be
at once admitted to the Cabinet. But Pitt had no desire to take office
under Rockingham. He was the inheritor of that side of his father's
policy which was most distasteful to the Whigs. To him as to Chatham the
main lesson of the war was the need of putting an end to those abuses in
the composition of Parliament by which George the Third had been enabled
to plunge the country into it. A thorough reform of the House of Commons
was the only effectual means of doing this, and Pitt brought forward a
bill founded on his father's plans for that purpose. But though a more
liberal section of the Whigs, with Charles Fox at their head, were
wavering round to a wish for reform, the great bulk of the party could
not nerve themselves to the sacrifice of property and influence which
such a reform would involve. Rockingham remained hostile to reform, and
Burke, whose influence still told much upon Rockingham, was yet more
hostile than his chief. Pitt's bill therefore was thrown out. In its
stead the Ministry endeavoured to weaken the means of corrupt influence
which the king had unscrupulously used by disqualifying persons holding
government contracts from sitting in Parliament, by depriving revenue
officers of the elective franchise (a measure which diminished the
weight of the Crown in seventy boroughs), and above all by a bill for
the reduction of the civil establishment, of the pension list, and of
the secret service fund, which was brought in by Burke. These measures
were to a great extent effectual in diminishing the influence of the
Crown over Parliament, and they are memorable as marking the date when
the direct bribery of members absolutely ceased. But they were utterly
inoperative in rendering the House of Commons really representative of
or responsible to the people of England.

[Sidenote: The Coalition.]

The jealousy which the mass of the Whigs entertained of the followers of
Chatham and their plans was more plainly shown however on the death of
Lord Rockingham in July. Shelburne, who had hitherto served as Secretary
of State, was called by the king to the head of the Ministry, a post to
which his eminent talents and the ability which he was showing in the
negotiations for the Peace clearly gave him a title. But Shelburne had
been hampered in these negotiations by the jealousy of Charles Fox, who
as joint Secretary of State with him claimed in spite of usage a share
in conducting them, and who persisted without a show of reason in
believing himself to have been unfairly treated. It was on personal
grounds therefore that Fox refused to serve under Shelburne; but the
refusal of Burke and the bulk of Rockingham's followers was based on
more than personal grounds. It sprang from a rooted distrust of the more
popular tendencies of which Shelburne was justly regarded as the
representative. To Pitt, on the other hand, these tendencies were the
chief ground of confidence in the new Ministry; and, young as he was, he
at once entered office as Chancellor of the Exchequer. But his tenure of
this post was a brief one. The Shelburne Ministry in fact only lasted
long enough to conclude the final peace with the United States on the
base of their independence; for in the opening of 1783 it was overthrown
by the most unscrupulous coalition known in our history, a union of the
Whig followers of Fox with the Tories who still clung to Lord North. In
Parliament such a coalition was irresistible, and the resignation of
Shelburne at once made way for an administration in which both the
triumphant parties were represented. But the effect on England at large
was very different. Whatever new credit the Whigs had gained with the
country during their long exclusion from office had been due to their
steady denunciation of the policy and temper of Lord North's
administration. That they should take office hand in hand with men whom
they had for years denounced as the worst of Ministers shocked even
their most loyal adherents; and the shock was the greater that a new
seriousness in politics, a longing for a deeper and more earnest
treatment of political questions, was making mere faction intolerable to
Englishmen. But behind all this was the sense that something more than
mere faction had really brought the two parties together. It was their
common dread of the popular tendencies which Shelburne's Ministry
represented, their common hatred of parliamentary reform, which hushed
for the moment the bitter hostility between the followers of Rockingham
and the followers of North. Yet never had the need of representative
reform been more clearly shown than by a coalition which proved how
powerless was the force of public opinion to check even the most
shameless faction in Parliament, how completely the lessening of royal
influence by the measures of Burke and Rockingham had tended to the
profit not of the people but of the borough-mongers who usurped its
representation. The turn of public opinion was quick in disclosing
itself. Fox was the most popular of the Whigs, but he was hooted from
the platform when he addressed his constituents at Westminster. Pitt, on
the other hand, whose attacks on the new union rose to a lofty and
indignant eloquence, was lifted by it into an almost solitary greatness.

[Sidenote: Fall of the Coalition.]

But in Parliament Pitt was as powerless as he was influential in the
country. His renewed proposal of Parliamentary Reform, though he set
aside the disfranchisement of rotten boroughs as a violation of private
property, and limited himself to the disfranchisement of boroughs
convicted of corruption, and to the addition of one hundred members to
the county representation, was rejected by a majority of two to one.
Secure in their parliamentary majority, and heedless of the power of
public opinion outside the walls of the House of Commons, the new
Ministers entered boldly on a greater task than had as yet taxed the
constructive genius of English statesmen. To leave such a dominion as
Warren Hastings had built up in India to the control of a mere Company
of traders was clearly impossible; and Fox proposed to transfer its
political government from the Directors of the Company to a board of
seven Commissioners. The appointment of the seven was vested in the
first instance in Parliament, and afterwards in the Crown; their office
was to be held for five years, but they were removable on address from
either House of Parliament. The proposal was at once met with a storm of
opposition. The scheme indeed was an injudicious one; for the new
Commissioners would have been destitute of that practical knowledge of
India which belonged to the Company, while the want of any immediate
link between them and the actual Ministry of the Crown would have
prevented Parliament from exercising an effective control over their
acts. But the real faults of this India Bill were hardly noticed in the
popular outcry against it. It had challenged the hostility of powerful
influences. The merchant-class was galled by the blow levelled at the
greatest merchant-body in the realm: corporations trembled at the
cancelling of a charter; the king viewed the measure as a mere means of
transferring the patronage of India to the Whigs. But it might have
defied the opposition of corporations and the king had it not had to
meet the bitter hostility of the nation at large. With the nation the
faults of the bill lay not in this detail or that, but in the character
of the Ministry which proposed it. To give the rule and patronage of
India over to the existing House of Commons was to give a new and
immense power to a body which misused in the grossest way the power it
possessed. It was the sense of this popular feeling which encouraged the
king to exert his personal influence to defeat the measure in the
Lords, and on its defeat to order his Ministers to deliver up the seals.
The unpopularity of Shelburne stood in the way of his resumption of
office, and in December 1783 Pitt accepted the post of First Lord of the
Treasury. His position would at once have been untenable had the country
gone with its nominal representatives. He was defeated again and again
by large majorities in the Commons; but the majorities dwindled as a
shower of addresses from every quarter, from the Tory University of
Oxford as from the Whig Corporation of London, proved that public
opinion went with the Minister and not with the House. It was the
general sense of this that justified Pitt in the firmness with which, in
the teeth of addresses for his removal from office, he delayed the
dissolution of Parliament for five months, and gained time for that
ripening of the national sentiment on which he counted for success. When
the election of 1784 came the struggle was at once at an end. The public
feeling took a strength which broke through the corrupt influences that
commonly governed its representation. Every great constituency, the
counties and the large towns, returned supporters of Pitt. Of the
majority which had defeated him in the Commons, a hundred and sixty
members were unseated. Fox hardly retained his seat for Westminster,
Burke lost his seat for Bristol, and only a fragment of the Whig party
was saved by its command of nomination boroughs.

[Sidenote: Pitt's temper.]

When Parliament came together after the overthrow of the Coalition, the
Minister of twenty-five was master of England as no Minister had been
before. Even George the Third yielded to his sway, partly through
gratitude for the triumph he had won for him, partly from a sense of the
madness which was soon to strike him down, but still more from a gradual
discovery that the triumph which he had won over his political rivals
had been won, not to the profit of the crown, but of the nation at
large. The Whigs, it was true, were broken, unpopular, and without a
policy; while the Tories, whom the Coalition had disgusted with Lord
North, as it had estranged Fox from their opponents, clung to the
Minister who had "saved the king." But it was the support of a new
political power that really gave his strength to the young Minister. The
sudden rise of English industry was pushing the manufacturer to the
front; and the manufacturer pinned his faith from the first in William
Pitt. All that the trading classes loved in Chatham, his nobleness of
temper, his consciousness of power, his patriotism, his sympathy with a
wider world than the world within the Parliament-house, they saw in his
son. He had little indeed of the poetic and imaginative side of
Chatham's genius, of his quick perception of what was just and what was
possible, his far-reaching conceptions of national policy, his outlook
into the future of the world. Pitt's flowing and sonorous commonplaces
rang hollow beside the broken phrases which still make his father's
eloquence a living thing to Englishmen. On the other hand he possessed
some qualities in which Chatham was utterly wanting. His temper, though
naturally ardent and sensitive, had been schooled in a proud
self-command. His simplicity and good taste freed him from his father's
ostentation and extravagance. Diffuse and commonplace as his speeches
seem to the reader, they were adapted as much by their very qualities of
diffuseness and commonplace as by their lucidity and good sense to the
intelligence of the classes whom Pitt felt to be his real audience. In
his love of peace, his immense industry, his despatch of business, his
skill in debate, his knowledge of finance, he recalled Sir Robert
Walpole; but he had virtues which Walpole never possessed, and he was
free from Walpole's worst defects. He was careless of personal gain. He
was too proud to rule by corruption. His lofty self-esteem left no room
for any jealousy of subordinates. He was generous in his appreciation of
youthful merits; and the "boys" he gathered round him, such as Canning
and Lord Wellesley, rewarded his generosity by a devotion which death
left untouched. With Walpole's cynical inaction Pitt had no sympathy
whatever. His policy from the first was a policy of active reform, and
he faced every one of the problems, financial, constitutional,
religious, from which Walpole had shrunk. Above all, he had none of
Walpole's scorn of his fellowmen. The noblest feature in his mind was
its wide humanity. His love for England was as deep and personal as his
father's love, but of the sympathy with English passion and English
prejudice which had been at once his father's weakness and strength he
had not a trace. When Fox taunted him with forgetting Chatham's jealousy
of France and his faith that she was the natural foe of England, Pitt
answered nobly that "to suppose any nation can be unalterably the enemy
of another is weak and childish."

[Sidenote: His statesmanship.]

The temper of the time, and the larger sympathy of man with man which
especially marks the eighteenth century as a turning-point in the
history of the human race, was everywhere bringing to the front a new
order of statesmen, such as Turgot and Joseph the Second, whose
characteristics were a love of mankind, and a belief that as the
happiness of the individual can only be secured by the general happiness
of the community to which he belongs, so the welfare of individual
nations can only be secured by the general welfare of the world. Of
these Pitt was one. But he rose high above the rest in the consummate
knowledge and the practical force which he brought to the realization of
his aims. His strength lay in finance; and he came forward at a time
when the growth of English wealth made a knowledge of finance essential
to a great Minister. The progress of the nation was wonderful.
Population more than doubled during the eighteenth century, and the
advance of wealth was even greater than that of population. Though the
war had added a hundred millions to the national debt, the burden was
hardly felt. The loss of America only increased the commerce with that
country, and industry, as we have seen, had begun that great career
which was to make England the workshop of the world. To deal wisely with
such a growth required a knowledge of the laws of wealth which would
have been impossible at an earlier time. But it had become possible in
the days of Pitt. If books are to be measured by the effect which they
have produced on the fortunes of mankind, the "Wealth of Nations" must
rank among the greatest of books. Its author was Adam Smith, an Oxford
scholar and a professor at Glasgow. Labour, he contended, was the one
source of wealth, and it was by freedom of labour, by suffering the
worker to pursue his own interest in his own way, that the public wealth
would best be promoted. Any attempt to force labour into artificial
channels, to shape by laws the course of commerce, to promote special
branches of industry in particular countries, or to fix the character of
the intercourse between one country and another, is not only a wrong to
the worker or the merchant, but actually hurtful to the wealth of a
state. The book was published in 1776, at the opening of the American
war, and studied by Pitt during his career as an undergraduate at
Cambridge. From that time he owned Adam Smith for his master; and he had
hardly become Minister before he took the principles of the "Wealth of
Nations" as the groundwork of his policy.

[Sidenote: Pitt and Parliamentary reform.]

It was thus that the ten earlier years of Pitt's rule marked a new point
of departure in English statesmanship. He was the first English Minister
who really grasped the part which industry was to play in promoting the
welfare of the world. He was not only a peace Minister and a financier,
as Walpole had been, but a statesman who saw that the best security for
peace lay in the freedom and widening of commercial intercourse between
nations; that public economy not only lessened the general burdens but
left additional capital in the hands of industry; and that finance might
be turned from a mere means of raising revenue into a powerful engine of
political and social improvement. That little was done by Pitt himself
to carry these principles into effect was partly owing to the mass of
ignorance and prejudice with which he had to contend, and still more to
the sudden break of his plans through the French Revolution. His power
rested above all on the trading classes, and these were still persuaded
that wealth meant gold and silver, and that commerce was best furthered
by jealous monopolies. It was only by patience and dexterity that the
mob of merchants and country squires who backed him in the House of
Commons could be brought to acquiesce in the changes he proposed. How
small his power was when it struggled with the prejudices around him was
seen in the failure of the first great measure he brought forward. The
question of parliamentary reform which had been mooted during the
American war had been coming steadily to the front. Chatham had
advocated an increase of county members, who were then the most
independent part of the Lower House. The Duke of Richmond talked of
universal suffrage, equal electoral districts, and annual Parliaments.
Wilkes anticipated the Reform Bill of a later time by proposing to
disfranchise the rotten boroughs, and to give members in their stead to
the counties and to the more populous and wealthy towns. William Pitt
had made the question his own by bringing forward a motion for reform on
his first entry into the House, and one of his earliest measures as
Minister was to bring in a bill in 1785 which, while providing for the
gradual extinction of all decayed boroughs, disfranchised thirty-six at
once, and transferred their members to counties. He brought the king to
abstain from opposition, and strove to buy off the borough-mongers, as
the holders of rotten boroughs were called, by offering to compensate
them for the seats they lost at their market-value. But the bulk of his
own party joined the bulk of the Whigs in a steady resistance to the
bill, while it received no effective support from the general opinion of
the people without. The more glaring abuses, indeed, within Parliament
itself, the abuses which stirred Chatham and Wilkes to action, had in
great part disappeared. The bribery of members had ceased. Burke's Bill
of Economical Reform had just dealt a fatal blow at the influence which
the king exercised by suppressing a host of useless offices, household
appointments, judicial and diplomatic charges, which were maintained for
the purpose of corruption. But what was probably the most fatal obstacle
to any pressure for reform was the triumph of public opinion to which
Pitt owed his power. The utter overthrow of the Coalition, the complete
victory of public opinion, had done much to diminish the sense of any
real danger from the opposition which Parliament had shown till now to
the voice of the nation. England, then as now, was indifferent to all
but practical grievances; and the nation cared little for anomalies in
the form of representation so long as it felt itself represented.
"Terribly disappointed and beat," as Wilberforce tells us Pitt was by
the rejection of his measure, the temper of the House and of the people
was too plain to be mistaken, and though his opinion remained unaltered,
he never brought it forward again.

[Sidenote: Pitt's finance.]

The failure of his constitutional reform was more than compensated by
the triumphs of his finance. When he entered office public credit was at
its lowest ebb. The debt had been doubled by the American war, yet large
sums still remained unfunded, while the revenue was reduced by a vast
system of smuggling which turned every coast-town into a nest of
robbers. The deficiency in the revenue was met for the moment by new
taxes, but the time which was thus gained served to change the whole
face of public affairs. The first of Pitt's financial measures--his plan
for gradually paying off the debt by a sinking fund--was undoubtedly an
error; but it had a happy effect in restoring public confidence. He met
the smuggler by a reduction of Custom-duties which made his trade
unprofitable. He revived Walpole's plan of an Excise. Meanwhile the
public expenses were reduced, and commission after commission was
appointed to introduce economy into every department of the public
service. The rapid developement of the national industry which we have
already noted no doubt aided the success of these measures. Credit was
restored. The smuggling trade was greatly reduced. In two years there
was a surplus of a million, and though duty after duty was removed the
revenue rose steadily with every remission of taxation. Meanwhile Pitt
was showing the political value of the new finance in a wider field.
Ireland, then as now, was England's difficulty. The tyrannous
misgovernment under which she had groaned ever since the battle of the
Boyne was producing its natural fruit; the miserable land was torn with
political faction, religious feuds, and peasant conspiracies; and so
threatening had the attitude of the Protestant party which ruled it
become during the American war that they had forced the English
Parliament to relinquish its control over their Parliament in Dublin.
Pitt saw that much at least of the misery and disloyalty of Ireland
sprang from its poverty. The population had grown rapidly, while culture
remained stationary and commerce perished. And of this poverty much was
the direct result of unjust law. Ireland was a grazing country, but to
protect the interest of English graziers the import of its cattle into
England was forbidden. To protect the interests of English clothiers and
weavers, its manufactures were loaded with duties. To redress this wrong
was the first financial effort of Pitt, and the bill which he introduced
in 1785 did away with every obstacle to freedom of trade between England
and Ireland. It was a measure which, as he held, would "draw what
remained of the shattered empire together," and repair in part the loss
of America by creating a loyal and prosperous Ireland; and, struggling
almost alone in face of a fierce opposition from the Whigs and the
Manchester merchants, he dragged it through the English Parliament,
though only to see it flung aside by the Protestant faction under
Grattan which then ruled the Parliament of Ireland. But the defeat only
spurred him to a greater effort elsewhere. If Ireland was England's
difficulty, France had been looked upon as England's natural enemy. We
have seen how nobly Pitt rebuked prejudices such as this; but he knew
that nothing could so effectively dispel it as increased intercourse
between nation and nation. In 1787 therefore he concluded a Treaty of
Commerce with France which enabled subjects of both countries to reside
and travel in either without licence or passport, did away with all
prohibition of trade on either side, and reduced every import duty.

[Sidenote: England and Europe.]

The immediate result of this treaty was a great increase of trade
between France and England; and brief as its course was fated to be, it
at once set Pitt on a higher level than any rival statesman of his time.
But the spirit of humanity which breathed through his policy had to
wrestle with difficulties both at home and abroad. No measure secured a
warmer support from the young Minister than the bill for the suppression
of the slave-trade; but in 1788 it was defeated by the vigorous
opposition of the trading classes and the prejudice of the people at
large. His efforts to sap the enmity of nation against nation by a freer
intercourse encountered a foe even more fatal than English prejudice, in
the very movement of which his measures formed a part. Across the
Channel this movement was growing into a revolution which was to change
the face of the world. That such a revolution must one day come, every
observer who had compared the state of Europe with that of England had
long seen to be inevitable. So far as England was concerned, the Puritan
resistance of the seventeenth century had in the end succeeded in
checking the general tendency of the time to religious and political
despotism. Since the Revolution of 1688 freedom of conscience and the
people's right to govern itself through its representatives in
Parliament had been practically established. Social equality had begun
long before. Every man from the highest to the lowest was subject to,
and protected by, the same law. The English aristocracy, though
exercising a powerful influence on government, were possessed of few
social privileges, and hindered from forming a separate class in the
nation by the legal and social tradition which counted all save the
eldest son of a noble house as commoners. No impassable line parted the
gentry from the commercial classes, and these again possessed no
privileges which could part them from the lower classes of the
community. Public opinion, the general sense of educated Englishmen, had
established itself after a short struggle as the dominant element in
English government. But in all the other great states of Europe the wars
of religion had left only the name of freedom. Government tended to a
pure despotism. Privilege was supreme in religion, in politics, in
society. Society itself rested on a rigid division of classes from one
another, which refused to the people at large any equal rights of
justice or of industry.

[Sidenote: France.]

We have already seen how alien such a conception of national life was
from the ideas which the wide diffusion of intelligence during the
eighteenth century was spreading throughout Europe; and in almost every
country some enlightened rulers were striving by administrative reforms
to satisfy in some sort the sense of wrong which was felt around them.
The attempts of sovereigns like Frederick the Great in Prussia and
Joseph the Second in Austria and the Netherlands were rivalled by the
efforts of statesmen such as Turgot in France. It was in France indeed
that the contrast between the actual state of society and the new ideas
of public right was felt most keenly. Nowhere had the victory of the
Crown been more complete. The aristocracy had been robbed of all share
in public affairs; it enjoyed social privileges and exemption from any
contribution to the public burdens without that sense of public duty
which a governing class to some degree always possesses. Guilds and
monopolies fettered the industry of the trader and the merchant, and cut
them off from the working classes, as the value attached to noble blood
cut off both from the aristocracy. If its political position indeed
were compared with that of most of the countries round it, France stood
high. Its government was less oppressive, its general wealth was larger
and more evenly diffused, there was a better administration of justice,
and greater security for public order. Poor as its peasantry seemed to
English eyes, they were far above the peasants of Germany or Spain. Its
middle class was the quickest and most intelligent in Europe. Under
Lewis the Fifteenth opinion was practically free, and a literary class
had sprung up which devoted itself with wonderful brilliancy and
activity to popularizing the ideas of social and political justice which
it learned from English writers, and in the case of Montesquieu and
Voltaire from personal contact with English life. The moral conceptions
of the time, its love of mankind, its sense of human brotherhood, its
hatred of oppression, its pity for the guilty and the poor, its longing
after a higher and nobler standard of life and action, were expressed by
a crowd of writers, and above all by Rousseau, with a fire and eloquence
which carried them to the heart of the people. But this new force of
intelligence only jostled roughly with the social forms with which it
found itself in contact. The philosopher denounced the tyranny of the
priesthood. The peasant grumbled at the lord's right to judge him in his
courts and to exact feudal services from him. The merchant was galled
by the trading restrictions and the heavy taxation. The country gentry
rebelled against their exclusion from public life and from the
government of the country. Its powerlessness to bring about any change
at home turned all this new energy into sympathy with a struggle against
tyranny abroad. Public opinion forced France to ally itself with America
in its contest for liberty, and French volunteers under the Marquis de
Lafayette joined Washington's army. But while the American war spread
more widely throughout the nation the craving for freedom, it brought on
the Government financial embarrassments from which it could only free
itself by an appeal to the country at large. Lewis the Sixteenth
resolved to summon the States-General, which had not met since the time
of Richelieu, and to appeal to the nobles to waive their immunity from
taxation. His resolve at once stirred into vigorous life every impulse
and desire which had been seething in the minds of the people; and the
States-General no sooner met at Versailles in May 1789 than the fabric
of despotism and privilege began to crumble. A rising in Paris destroyed
the Bastille, and the capture of this fortress was taken for the dawn of
a new era of constitutional freedom in France and through Europe. Even
in England men thrilled with a strange joy at the tidings of its fall.
"How much is this the greatest event that ever happened in the world,"
Fox cried with a burst of enthusiasm, "and how much the best!"

[Sidenote: Pitt and Russia.]

Pitt regarded the approach of France to sentiments of liberty which had
long been familiar to England with greater coolness, but with no
distrust. For the moment indeed his attention was distracted by an
attack of madness which visited George the Third in 1788, and by the
claim of a right to the Regency which was at once advanced by the Prince
of Wales. The Prince belonged to the Whig party; and Fox, who was
travelling in Italy, hurried home to support his claim in full belief
that the Prince's Regency would be followed by his own return to power.
Pitt successfully resisted the claim on the constitutional ground that
in such a case the right to choose a temporary Regent, under what
limitations it would, lay with Parliament; and a bill which conferred
the Regency on the Prince, in accordance with this view, was already
passing the Houses when the recovery of the king put an end to the long
dispute. Foreign difficulties, too, absorbed Pitt's attention. Russia
had risen into greatness under Catharine the Second; and Catharine had
resolved from the first on the annexation of Poland, the expulsion of
the Turks from Europe, and the setting up of a Russian throne at
Constantinople. In her first aim she was baffled for the moment by
Frederick the Great. She had already made herself virtually mistress of
the whole of Poland, her armies occupied the kingdom, and she had
seated a nominee of her own on its throne, when Frederick in union with
the Emperor Joseph the Second forced her to admit Germany to a share of
the spoil. If the Polish partition of 1773 brought the Russian frontier
westward to the upper waters of the Dwina and the Dnieper, it gave
Galicia to Maria Theresa, and West Prussia to Frederick himself. Foiled
in her first aim, she waited for the realization of her second till the
alliance between the two German powers was at an end through the
resistance of Prussia to Joseph's schemes for the annexation of Bavaria,
and till the death of Frederick removed her most watchful foe. Then in
1788 Joseph and the Empress joined hands for a partition of the Turkish
Empire. But Prussia was still watchful, and England was no longer
fettered as in 1773 by troubles with America. The friendship established
by Chatham between the two countries, which had been suspended by Bute's
treachery and all but destroyed during the Northern League of Neutral
Powers, had been restored by Pitt through his co-operation with the
successor of Frederick the Great in the restoration of the Dutch
Stadtholderate. Its political weight was now seen in an alliance of
England, Prussia, and Holland, in 1789, for the preservation of the
Turkish Empire. A great European struggle seemed at hand. In such a
struggle the sympathy and aid of France were of the highest importance;
and it was only as weakening her in face of such a crisis that Pitt
looked on the Revolution with any fear. But with the treaty the danger
passed away. In the spring of 1790 Joseph died broken-hearted at the
failure of his plans and the revolt of the Netherlands against his
innovations; Austria practically withdrew from the war with the Turks;
and the young Minister could give free expression to the sympathy with
which the French movement inspired him.

[Sidenote: The French Revolution.]

In France indeed things were moving fast. By breaking down the division
between its separate orders the States-General became a National
Assembly, which abolished the privileges of the provincial parliaments,
of the nobles, and the Church. In October 1789 the mob of Paris marched
on Versailles and forced both King and Assembly to return with them to
the capital; and a Constitution hastily put together was accepted by
Lewis the Sixteenth in the stead of his old despotic power. To Pitt the
tumult and disorder with which these great changes were wrought seemed
transient matters. In January 1790 he still believed that "the present
convulsions in France must sooner or later culminate in general harmony
and regular order," and that when her own freedom was established,
"France would stand forth as one of the most brilliant powers of
Europe." But the coolness and goodwill with which Pitt looked on the
Revolution were far from being universal in the nation at large. The
cautious good sense of the bulk of Englishmen, their love of order and
law, their distaste for violent changes and for abstract theories, as
well as their reverence for the past, were rousing throughout the
country a dislike of the revolutionary changes which were hurrying on
across the Channel; and both the political sense and the political
prejudice of the nation were being fired by the warnings of Edmund
Burke. The fall of the Bastille, though it kindled enthusiasm in Fox,
roused in Burke only distrust. "Whenever a separation is made between
liberty and justice," he wrote a few weeks later, "neither is safe." The
night of the fourth of August, when the privileges of every class were
abolished, filled him with horror. He saw, and rightly saw, in it the
critical moment which revealed the character of the Revolution, and his
part was taken at once. "The French," he cried in January, while Pitt
was foretelling a glorious future for the new Constitution, "the French
have shown themselves the ablest architects of ruin who have hitherto
existed in the world. In a short space of time they have pulled to the
ground their army, their navy, their commerce, their arts and their

[Sidenote: Pitt and France.]

But in Parliament Burke stood alone. The Whigs, though distrustfully,
followed Fox in his applause of the Revolution. The Tories, yet more
distrustfully, followed Pitt; and Pitt warmly expressed his sympathy
with the constitutional government which was ruling France. At this
moment indeed the more revolutionary party in that country gave a signal
proof of its friendship for England. Irritated by an English settlement
at Nootka Sound in California, Spain appealed to France for aid in
accordance with the Family Compact; and the French Ministry, with a
party at its back which believed things had gone far enough, resolved on
a war as the best means of checking the progress of the Revolution and
restoring the power of the Crown. The revolutionary party naturally
opposed this design; and after a bitter struggle the right of declaring
war, save with the sanction of the Assembly, was taken from the king.
With this vote all danger of hostilities passed away. "The French
Government," Pitt asserted, "was bent on cultivating the most unbounded
friendship for Great Britain," and he saw no reason in its revolutionary
changes why Britain should not return the friendship of France. What
told even more on his temper towards that country was a conviction that
nothing but the joint action of France and England would in the end
arrest the troubles of Eastern Europe. His intervention foiled for the
moment a fresh effort of Prussia to rob Poland of Dantzig and Thorn. But
though Russia was still pressing Turkey hard, a Russian war was so
unpopular in England that a hostile vote in Parliament forced Pitt to
discontinue his armaments; and a fresh union of Austria and Prussia,
which promised at this juncture to bring about a close of the Turkish
struggle, promised also a fresh attack on the independence of Poland. To
prevent a new partition without the co-operation of France was
impossible; and in the existing state of things Pitt saw nothing to
hinder the continuance of a friendship which would make such a
co-operation inevitable.

[Sidenote: Burke and the Revolution.]

But while Pitt was pleading for friendship between the two countries,
Burke was resolved to make friendship impossible. In Parliament, as we
have seen, he stood alone. He had long ceased, in fact, to have any hold
over the House of Commons. The eloquence which had vied with that of
Chatham during the discussions on the Stamp Act had become distasteful
to the bulk of its members. The length of his speeches, the profound and
philosophical character of his argument, the splendour and often the
extravagance of his illustrations, his passionate earnestness, his want
of temper and discretion, wearied and perplexed the squires and
merchants about him. He was known nowadays as "the dinner-bell of the
House," so rapidly did its benches thin at his rising. For a time his
energies found scope in the impeachment of Hastings; and the grandeur of
his appeals to the justice of England hushed detraction. But with the
close of the impeachment his repute had again fallen; and the approach
of old age, for he was now past sixty, seemed to counsel retirement from
an assembly where he stood unpopular and alone. But age and
disappointment and loneliness were forgotten as Burke saw rising across
the Channel the embodiment of all that he hated--a Revolution founded on
scorn of the past, and threatening with ruin the whole social fabric
which the past had reared; the ordered structure of classes and ranks
crumbling before a doctrine of social equality; a State rudely
demolished and reconstituted; a Church and a Nobility swept away in a
night. Against the enthusiasm of what he rightly saw to be a new
political religion he resolved to rouse the enthusiasm of the old. He
was at once a great orator and a great writer; and now that the House
was deaf to his voice, he appealed to the country by his pen. The
"Reflections on the French Revolution" which he published in October
1790 not only denounced the acts of rashness and violence which sullied
the great change that France had wrought, but the very principles from
which the change had sprung. Burke's deep sense of the need of social
order, of the value of that continuity in human affairs "without which
men would become like flies in a summer," blinded him to all but the
faith in mere rebellion and the yet sillier faith in mere novelty which
disguised a real nobleness of aim and temper even in the most ardent of
the revolutionists. He would see no abuses in the past, now that it had
fallen, or anything but the ruin of society in the future. He preached a
crusade against men whom he regarded as the foes of religion and
civilization, and called on the armies of Europe to put down a
Revolution whose principles threatened every state with destruction.

[Sidenote: His failure in Parliament.]

The great obstacle to such a crusade was Pitt: and one of the grandest
outbursts of the "Reflections" closed with a bitter taunt at the
Minister. "The age of chivalry," Burke cried, "is gone; that of
sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of
Europe is extinguished for ever." But neither taunt nor invective moved
Pitt from his course. At the moment when the "Reflections" appeared he
gave a fresh assurance to France of his resolve to have nothing to do
with any crusade against the Revolution. "This country," he wrote,
"means to persevere in the neutrality hitherto scrupulously observed
with respect to the internal dissensions of France; and from which it
will never depart unless the conduct held there makes it indispensable
as an act of self-defence." So far indeed was he from sharing the
reactionary panic which was spreading around him that he chose this time
for supporting Fox in his Libel Act, a measure which, by transferring
the decision on what was libellous in any publication from the judge to
the jury, completed the freedom of the press; and himself passed in 1791
a bill which, though little noticed among the storms of the time, was
one of the noblest of his achievements. He boldly put aside the dread
which had been roused by the American war, that the gift of
self-government to our colonies would serve only as a step towards their
secession from the mother country, and established a House of Assembly
and a Council in the two Canadas. "I am convinced," said Fox, who gave
the measure his hearty support, "that the only method of retaining
distant colonies with advantage is to enable them to govern themselves";
and the policy of the one statesman as well as the foresight of the
other has been justified by the later history of our dependencies. Nor
had Burke better success with his own party. Fox remained an ardent
lover of the Revolution, and answered a fresh attack of Burke upon it
with more than usual warmth. Till now a close affection had bound the
two men together; but no sooner had this defence been uttered than the
fanaticism of Burke declared their union to be over. "There is no loss
of friendship," Fox exclaimed, with a sudden burst of tears. "There is!"
Burke repeated. "I know the price of my conduct. Our friendship is at an

[Sidenote: His success with the country.]

Within the walls of Parliament however Burke as yet stood utterly alone.
His "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs," in June 1791, failed to
detach a follower from Fox; while Pitt coldly counselled him rather to
praise the English Constitution than to rail at the French. "I have made
many enemies and few friends," Burke wrote sadly to the French princes
who had fled from their country and were gathering in arms at Coblentz,
"by the part I have taken." But the opinion of the people was slowly
drifting to his side; and a sale of thirty thousand copies showed that
the "Reflections" echoed the general sentiment of Englishmen. At this
moment indeed the mood of England was singularly unfavourable to any
fair appreciation of the Revolution across the Channel. Her temper was
above all industrial. Men who were working hard and fast growing rich,
who had the narrow and practical turn of men of business, looked angrily
at this sudden disturbance of order, this restless and vague activity,
these rhetorical appeals to human feeling, these abstract and often
empty theories. In England it was a time of political content and social
well-being, of steady economic progress, as well as of a powerful
religious revival; and an insular lack of imaginative interest in other
races hindered men from seeing that every element of this content, of
this order, of this peaceful and harmonious progress, of this
reconciliation of society and religion, was wanting abroad. The
sympathy which the first outbreak of the Revolution had roused among
Englishmen grew cooler in fact with every step which the Revolution
took. While the Declaration of the Rights of Man roused France to a
frenzy of enthusiasm, it was set aside as a dream by the practical
islanders who based their rights on precedent and not on theory. The
abolition of all social privileges on the 12th of August, the most
characteristic step in the French Revolution, was met with grave
disapproval by a people more alien from social equality than any people
in Europe. Every incident in the struggle between the French people and
their king widened the breach of feeling. The anarchy of the country,
the want of political sense in its Assembly, the paltry declamation of
its clubs, the exaggerated sentiment, the universal suspicion, the
suspension of every security for personal freedom, the arrests, the
murders, the overthrow of the Church, the ruin of the Crown, were
watched with an ever-growing severity by a nation whose chief instinct
was one of order, whose bent was to practical politics, whose temper was
sober and trustful, whose passionate love of personal liberty was only
equalled by its passionate abhorrence of bloodshed in civil strife, and
whose ecclesiastical and political institutions were newly endeared to
it by a fresh revival of religious feeling, and by the constitutional
attitude of its Government for a hundred years.

[Sidenote: The coalition against France.]

Sympathy in fact was soon limited to a few groups of reformers who
gathered in "Constitutional Clubs," and whose reckless language
quickened the national reaction. But in spite of Burke's appeals and the
cries of the nobles who had fled from France and longed only to march
against their country, Europe held back from any attack on the
Revolution, and Pitt preserved his attitude of neutrality, though with a
greater appearance of reserve. So anxious, in fact, did the aspect of
affairs in the East make him for the restoration of tranquillity in
France, that he foiled a plan which its emigrant nobles had formed for a
descent on the French coast, and declared formally at Vienna that
England would remain absolutely neutral should hostilities arise between
France and the Emperor. But the Emperor was as anxious to avoid a French
war as Pitt himself. Though Catharine, now her strife with Turkey was
over, wished to plunge the two German powers into a struggle with the
Revolution which would leave her free to annex Poland single-handed,
neither Leopold nor Prussia would tie their hands by such a contest. The
flight of Lewis the Sixteenth from Paris in June 1791 brought Europe for
a moment to the verge of war; but he was intercepted and brought back:
and for a while the danger seemed to incline the revolutionists in
France to greater moderation. Lewis too not only accepted the
Constitution, but pleaded earnestly with the Emperor against any armed
intervention as certain to bring ruin to his throne. In their conference
at Pillnitz therefore, in August, Leopold and the king of Prussia
contented themselves with a vague declaration inviting the European
powers to co-operate in restoring a sound form of government in France,
availed themselves of England's neutrality to refuse all military aid to
the French princes, and dealt simply with the affairs of Poland. But the
peace they desired soon became impossible. The Constitutional Royalists
in France availed themselves of the irritation caused by the Declaration
of Pillnitz to revive the cry for a war which, as they hoped, would give
strength to the throne. The more violent revolutionists, or Jacobins, on
the other hand, abandoned their advocacy of peace. Under the influence
of the "Girondists," the deputies from the south of France, whose aim
was a republic, and who saw in a great national struggle a means of
overthrowing the monarchy, they decided, in spite of the opposition of
their leader, Robespierre, on a contest with the Emperor. Both parties
united to demand the breaking up of an army which the emigrant princes
had formed on the Rhine; and though Leopold before his death assented to
this demand, France declared war against his successor, Francis, in
April 1792.




[Sidenote: England and the Revolutionists.]

That the war with Germany would widen into a vast European struggle, a
struggle in which the peoples would rise against their oppressors, and
the freedom which France had won diffuse itself over the world, no
French revolutionist doubted for an hour. Nor did they doubt that in
this struggle England would join them. It was from England that they had
drawn those principles of political and social liberty which they
believed themselves to be putting into practice. It was to England that
they looked above all for approbation and sympathy, and on the aid of
England that they confidently counted in their struggle with a despotic
and priest-ridden Europe. Absorbed in the mighty events about them, and
utterly ignorant of the real set of English feeling or the real meaning
of Pitt's policy, they were astonished and indignant at his firm refusal
of their alliance and his resolve to stand apart from the struggle. It
was in vain that Pitt strove to allay this irritation by demanding only
that Holland should remain untouched, and promising neutrality even
though Belgium should be occupied by a French army, or that he
strengthened these pledges by a reduction of military forces, and by
bringing forward in 1792 a peace-budget which rested on a large
remission of taxation. To the revolutionists at Paris the attitude of
England remained unintelligible and irritating. Instead of the aid they
had counted on, they found but a cold neutrality. In place of the
sympathy on which they reckoned, they saw, now that they looked coolly
across the Channel, a reserve passing into disapproval. The pen of Burke
was denouncing the Revolution as the very negation of those principles
on which English liberty rested. The priests and nobles who had fled
from the new France were finding pity and welcome on English shores. And
now that France flung herself on an armed Europe to win freedom for its
peoples from their kings, England stood coldly apart. To men frenzied
with a passionate enthusiasm, and frenzied yet more with a sudden terror
at the dangers they were encountering, such an attitude of neutrality in
such a quarter seemed like a stab in the back.

[Sidenote: Their efforts in England.]

But that this attitude was that of the English people as a whole was
incredible to the French enthusiasts. Conscious as no Englishman could
be conscious of the great evils they had overthrown, of the great
benefits they had won for their country, they saw in the attitude of
England only the sympathy of an aristocracy with the aristocracy they
had struck down. The cries for a parliamentary reform which reached them
across the Channel became in their ears cries of a people as powerless
and oppressed as the people of France had been. They still clung to the
hope of England's aid in the emancipation of Europe from despotism and
superstition, but they came now to believe that England must itself be
emancipated before such an aid could be given. Their first work
therefore they held to be the bringing about a revolution in England
which might free the people from the aristocracy and the aristocratic
government which held it down. But this was far from being all the work
they looked to accomplishing. The aristocracy which oppressed the people
at home oppressed, as they believed, great peoples beyond the bounds of
England itself. It was subjecting to its sway nation after nation in
India. Its rule over Ireland was a masterpiece of tyranny. To rouse
India, to rouse Ireland to a struggle which should shake off the English
yoke, became necessary steps to the establishment of freedom in England
itself. From the moment therefore that the opposition between the two
countries declared itself, French agents were busy "sowing the
revolution" in each quarter. In Ireland they entered into communication
with the United Irishmen. In India they appeared at the courts of the
native princes, and above all at the court of Mysore. Meanwhile in
England itself they strove through a number of associations, which had
formed themselves under the name of Constitutional Clubs, to rouse the
same spirit which they had roused in France; and the French envoy,
Chauvelin, protested warmly against a proclamation which denounced this
correspondence as seditious.

[Sidenote: The Coalition attacks France.]

Such a course could only knit men of all parties together in a common
resentment; and the effect of these revolutionary efforts on the friends
of the Revolution was seen in a declaration which they wrested from Fox,
that at such a moment even the discussion of parliamentary reform was
inexpedient. A far worse result was the new strength they gave to its
foes. Burke was still working hard in writings whose extravagance of
style was forgotten in their intensity of feeling to spread alarm
throughout Europe. He had from the first encouraged the emigrant princes
to take arms, and sent his son to join them at Coblentz. "Be alarmists,"
he wrote to them; "diffuse terror!" But the royalist terror which he
sowed would have been of little moment had it not roused a revolutionary
terror in France itself. At the threat of war against the Emperor the
two German Courts had drawn together, and reluctantly abandoning all
hope of peace with France, gathered eighty thousand men under the Duke
of Brunswick, and advanced slowly in August 1792 on the Meuse. France,
though she had forced on the struggle, was really almost defenceless;
her forces in Belgium broke at the first shock of arms into shameful
rout; and the panic, as it spread from the soldiery to the nation at
large, took violent and horrible forms. At the first news of Brunswick's
advance the mob of Paris broke into the Tuileries on the 10th of August;
and at its demand Lewis, who had taken refuge in the Assembly, was
suspended from his office and imprisoned in the Temple. In the following
September, while General Dumouriez by boldness and adroit negotiations
was arresting the progress of the Allies in the defiles of the Argonne,
bodies of paid murderers butchered the royalist prisoners who crowded
the gaols of Paris, with a view of influencing the elections to a new
Convention which met to proclaim the abolition of royalty. The retreat
of the Prussian army, whose numbers had been reduced by disease till an
advance on Paris became impossible, and a brilliant victory won by
Dumouriez at Jemappes which laid the Netherlands at his feet, turned the
panic of the French into a wild self-confidence. In November the
Convention decreed that France offered the aid of her soldiers to all
nations who would strive for freedom. "All governments are our enemies,"
cried its President; "all peoples are our allies." In the teeth of
treaties signed only two years before, and of the stipulation made by
England when it pledged itself to neutrality, the French Government
resolved to attack Holland, and ordered its generals to enforce by arms
the opening of the Scheldt.

[Sidenote: France declares war with England.]

To do this was to force England into war. Public opinion was already
pressing every day harder upon Pitt. The horror of the massacres of
September, the hideous despotism of the Parisian mob, did more to
estrange England from the Revolution than all the eloquence of Burke.
But even while withdrawing our Minister from Paris on the imprisonment
of the king, to whose Court he had been commissioned, Pitt clung
stubbornly to a policy of peace. His hope was to bring the war to an end
through English mediation, and to "leave France, which I believe is the
best way, to arrange its own internal affairs as it can." No hour of
Pitt's life is so great as the hour when he stood lonely and passionless
before the growth of national passion, and refused to bow to the
gathering cry for war. Even the news of the September massacres could
only force from him a hope that France might abstain from any war of
conquest and might escape from its social anarchy. In October the French
agent in England reported that Pitt was about to recognize the Republic.
At the opening of November he still pressed on Holland a steady
neutrality. It was France, and not England, which at last wrenched peace
from his grasp. The decree of the Convention and the attack on the Dutch
left him no choice but war, for it was impossible for England to endure
a French fleet at Antwerp, or to desert allies like the United
Provinces. But even in December the news of the approaching partition of
Poland nerved him to a last struggle for peace; he offered to aid
Austria in acquiring Bavaria if she would make terms with France, and
pledged himself to France to abstain from war if that power would cease
from violating the independence of her neighbour states. But desperately
as Pitt struggled for peace, his struggle was in vain. Across the
Channel his moderation was only taken for fear, while in England the
general mourning which followed on the news of the French king's
execution showed the growing ardour for the contest. The rejection of
his last offers indeed made a contest inevitable. Both sides ceased from
diplomatic communications, and in February 1793 France issued her
Declaration of War.

[Sidenote: The Panic.]

From that moment Pitt's power was at an end. His pride, his immoveable
firmness, and the general confidence of the nation, still kept him at
the head of affairs; but he could do little save drift along with a tide
of popular feeling which he never fully understood. Around him the
country broke out in a fit of passion and panic which rivalled the
passion and panic over sea. The confidence of France in its illusions
as to opinion in England deluded for the moment even Englishmen
themselves. The partisans of Republicanism were in reality but a few
handfuls of men who played at gathering Conventions, and at calling
themselves citizens and patriots, in childish imitation of what was
going on across the Channel. But in the mass of Englishmen the dread of
these revolutionists passed for the hour into sheer panic. Even the bulk
of the Whig party believed property and the constitution to be in peril,
and forsook Fox when he still proclaimed his faith in France and the
Revolution. The "Old Whigs," as they called themselves, with the Duke of
Portland, Earls Spencer and Fitzwilliam, and Mr. Windham at their head,
followed Burke in giving their adhesion to the Government. Pitt himself,
though little touched by the political reaction which was to constitute
the creed of those who represented themselves as "Pittites," was shaken
by the dream of social danger, which was turning the wisest heads about
him. For a moment at least his cool good sense bent to believe in the
existence of "thousands of bandits" who were ready to rise against the
throne, to plunder every landlord, and to sack London. "Paine is no
fool," he said to his niece, who quoted to him a passage from the
_Rights of Man_, in which that author had vindicated the principles of
the Revolution. "He is perhaps right; but if I did what he wants I
should have thousands of bandits on my hands to-morrow and London
burnt." It was this sense of social danger which alone reconciled him to
the war. It would have been impossible indeed for Pitt, or for any other
English statesman, to have stood idly by while France annexed the
Netherlands and marched to annex Holland. He must in any case have
fought even had France not forced him to fight by her declaration of
war. But bitter as the need of such a struggle was to him, he accepted
it with the less reluctance that war, as he trusted, would check the
progress of "French principles" in England itself.

The worst issue of this panic was the series of legislative measures in
which it found expression. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, a bill
against seditious assemblies restricted the liberty of public meeting,
and a wider scope was given to the Statute of Treasons. Prosecution
after prosecution was directed against the Press; the sermons of some
dissenting ministers were indicted as seditious; and the conventions of
sympathizers with France were roughly broken up. The worst excesses of
this panic were witnessed in Scotland, where young Whigs, whose only
offence was an advocacy of parliamentary reform, were sentenced to
transportation, and where a brutal Judge openly expressed his regret
that the practice of torture in seditious cases should have fallen into
disuse. But the panic soon passed away for sheer want of material to
feed on. The bloodshed and anarchy of the Jacobin rule disgusted the
last sympathizers with France. To staunch Whigs like Romilly, the
French, after the massacres of October, seemed a mere "nation of
tigers." The good sense of the nation discovered the unreality of the
dangers which had driven it to its short-lived frenzy; and when the
leaders of the Corresponding Society, a body which expressed sympathy
with France, were brought to trial in 1794 on a charge of high treason,
their acquittal told that all active terror was over. So far indeed was
the nation from any danger of social overthrow that, save for occasional
riots to which the poor were goaded by sheer want of bread, no social
disturbance troubled England during the twenty years of struggle which
lay before it. But though the public terror passed, it left a terrible
legacy behind. The blind reaction against all reform which had sprung
from the panic lasted on when the panic was forgotten. For nearly a
quarter of a century it was hard to get a hearing for any measure which
threatened change to an existing institution, beneficial though the
change might be. Even the philanthropic movement which so nobly
characterized the time found itself checked and hampered by the dread of

Easy however as Pitt found it to deal with "French principles" at home,
he found it less easy to deal with French armies abroad. The very
excellences of his character indeed unfitted him for the conduct of a
war. He was at heart a Peace Minister; he was forced into war by a panic
and enthusiasm which he shared in a very small degree; and he was
utterly destitute of his father's gift of entering instinctively into
the sympathies and passions around him, and of rousing passions and
sympathies in return. At first indeed all seemed to go ill for France.
When the campaign of 1793 opened she was girt in along her whole
frontier by a ring of foes. The forces of the House of Austria, of the
Empire, and of the King of Prussia, pressed her to the north and the
east; those of Spain and Sardinia attacked her in the south; and the
accession of England to this league threatened to close the sea against
her. The efforts of these foreign foes were seconded too by civil war.
The peasants of Poitou and Brittany, estranged from the revolution by
its attack on the clergy, rose in revolt against the government at
Paris; while Marseilles and Lyons were driven into insurrection by the
violent leaders who now seized on power in the capital. The campaign
opened therefore with a series of terrible reverses. In spite of the
efforts of General Dumouriez the French were foiled in their attack on
Holland and driven, after a disastrous defeat at Neerwinden, from the
Netherlands. At the moment when the Duke of York with ten thousand
English troops joined the Austrian army on the northern border of
France, a march upon Paris would have crushed the revolution. But the
chance was lost. At this moment indeed the two German powers were far
from wishing honestly for the suppression of the Republic and the
re-establishment of a strong monarchy in France. Such a restoration
would have foiled their projects of aggrandizement in Eastern Europe.
The strife on the Rhine had set Russia free, as Pitt had foreseen, to
carry out her schemes of aggression; and Austria and Prussia saw
themselves forced, in the interest of a balance of power, to share in
her annexations at the cost of Poland. But this new division of Poland
would have become impossible had France been enabled by a restoration of
its monarchy to take up again its natural position in Europe, and to
accept the alliance which Pitt would in such a case have offered her.
The policy of the German courts therefore was to prolong an anarchy
which left them free for the moment to crush Poland, and which they
counted on crushing in its turn at a more convenient time; and the
allied armies which might have marched upon Paris were purposely
frittered away in sieges in the Netherlands and the Rhine.

[Sidenote: The revival of France.]

Such a policy gave France all that she needed to recover from the shock
of her past disasters: it gave her time. Whatever were the crimes and
tyranny of her leaders, the country felt in spite of them the value of
the Revolution, and rallied enthusiastically to its support. The
strength of the revolt in La Vendée was broken. The insurrection in the
south was drowned in blood. The Spanish invaders were held at bay at the
foot of the Pyrenees, and the Piedmontese were driven from Nice and
Savoy. At the close of the year a fresh blow fell upon the struggling
country in the revolt of Toulon, the naval station of its Mediterranean
fleet. The town called for foreign aid against the government at Paris;
and Lord Hood entered the port with an English squadron, while a force
of 11,000 men, gathered hastily from every quarter, was despatched under
General O'Hara as a garrison. But the successes against Spain and Savoy
freed the hands of France at this critical moment: the town was at once
invested, and the seizure of a promontory which commanded the harbour, a
step counselled by a young artillery officer, Napoleon Buonaparte,
brought about the withdrawal of the garrison and the surrender of
Toulon. The success was a prelude of what was to come. At the opening of
1794 a victory at Fleurus, which again made the French masters of the
Netherlands, showed that the tide had turned. France was united within
by the cessation of the Terror and of the tyranny of the Jacobins, while
on every border victory followed the gigantic efforts with which she
met the coalition against her. The coalition indeed was fast breaking
up. Spain sued for peace. Prussia, more intent on her gains in the east
than on any battle with the revolution on the west, prepared to follow
Spain's example by the withdrawal of her armies from the Rhine. It was
only by English subsidies that Austria and Sardinia were still kept in
the field; and the Rhine provinces were wrested from the first, while
the forces of Sardinia were driven back from the Riviera and the
Maritime Alps into the plain of Piedmont. Before the year ended Holland
was lost. Pichegru crossed the Waal in midwinter with an overwhelming
force, and the wretched remnant of ten thousand men who had followed the
Duke of York to the Netherlands, thinned by disease and by the hardships
of retreat, re-embarked for England.

[Sidenote: Howe's victory.]

In one quarter only had the fortune of war gone against the French
republic. The victories of Rodney at the close of the strife with
America had concentrated English interest on the fleet. Even during the
peace, while the army was sacrificed to financial distress, great
efforts were made to preserve the efficiency of the navy; and the recent
alarms of war with Russia and Spain had ended in raising it to a
strength which it had never reached before. But France was as eager as
England herself to dispute the sovereignty of the seas, and almost
equal attention had been bestowed on the navy which crowded the great
harbours of Toulon and Brest. In force as in number of ships it was
equal in effective strength to that of England; and both nations looked
with hope to the issue of a contest at sea. No battle marked the first
year of the war; but, as it ended, the revolt of Toulon gave a fatal
wound to the naval strength of France in the almost total destruction of
her Mediterranean fleet. That of the Channel however remained unhurt;
and it was this which Lord Howe at last encountered, off Brest in 1794,
in the battle which is known by the name of the day on which it was
fought--The "First of June." The number of ships on either side was
nearly the same, and the battle was one of sheer hard fighting, unmarked
by any display of naval skill. But the result was a decisive victory for
England, and the French admiral, weakened by a loss of seven vessels and
three thousand men, again took refuge in Brest.

[Sidenote: Break-up of the Coalition.]

The success of Lord Howe did somewhat to counteract the discouragement
which sprang from the general aspect of the war. At the opening of 1795
the coalition finally gave way. Holland had been detached from it by
Pichegru's conquest, and the Batavian republic which he set up there was
now an ally of France. In the spring Prussia bought peace at Basle by
the cession of her possessions west of the Rhine. Peace with Spain
followed in the summer, while Sweden and the Protestant cantons of
Switzerland recognized the republic. These terrible blows were hardly
met by the success of the Austrian army in relieving Maintz, or by the
colonial acquisitions of England. The latter indeed were far from being
inconsiderable. Most of the West-Indian Islands which had been held by
France now fell into British hands; and the alliance of Holland with the
French threw open to English attack the far more valuable settlements of
the Dutch. The surrender of Cape Town in September gave England the
colony of the Cape of Good Hope, the nucleus of what has since grown
into a vast southern settlement which is destined to play a great part
in the history of Africa. At the close of the year the Island of Ceylon
was added to our Indian dependencies. Both of these acquisitions were
destined to remain permanently attached to England, though at the moment
their value was eclipsed by the conquest of the Dutch colonies in the
Pacific, the more famous Spice Islands of the Malaccas and Java. But,
important as these gains were in their after issues, they had no
immediate influence on the war. The French armies prepared for the
invasion of Italy; while in France itself discord came well-nigh to an
end. A descent by a force of French emigrants on the coast of Brittany
ended in their massacre at Quiberon and in the final cessation of the
war in La Vendée; while the royalist party in Paris was crushed as soon
as it rose against the Convention by the genius of Napoleon Buonaparte.

[Sidenote: Pitt's effort for peace.]

But the fresh severities against the ultra-republicans which followed on
the establishment of a Directory after this success indicated the
moderate character of the new government, and Pitt seized on this change
in the temper of the French Government as giving an opening for peace.
The dread of a Jacobin propagandism was now all but at an end. In spite
of an outbreak of the London mob, whose cries meant chiefly impatience
of dear bread, but which brought about a fresh suspension of the Habeas
Corpus Act and the introduction of a Bill "for the prosecution of
seditious meetings," the fear of any social disturbance or of the spread
of "French principles" in England was fast passing away from men's
minds. The new constitution which France accepted in 1795 showed that
the tendencies of the French themselves were now rather to order than to
freedom. The old grounds for the struggle therefore had ceased to exist;
while the pressure of it grew hourly more intolerable. Pitt himself was
sick of the strife. The war indeed had hardly begun when he found
himself without the means of carrying it on. The English navy was in a
high state of efficiency; but the financial distress which followed the
American war had brought with it a neglect of the army. The army was not
only small, but without proper equipment; and the want of military
experience among its soldiers was only equalled by the incapacity of
their leaders. "We have no general," Lord Grenville wrote bitterly, "but
some old woman in a red riband." Wretched, too, as had been the conduct
of the war, its cost was already terrible; for if England was without
soldiers she had wealth, and in default of nobler means of combating the
revolution Pitt had been forced to use wealth as an engine of war. He
became the paymaster of the coalition, and his subsidies kept the allied
armies in the field. But the immense loans which these called for, and
the quick growth of expenditure, undid all the financial reforms on
which the young minister prided himself. Taxation, which had reached its
lowest point at the outbreak of the contest, mounted ere a few years
were past to a height undreamed of before. The debt rose by leaps and
bounds. In three years nearly eighty millions had been added to it, a
sum greater than that piled up by the whole war with America, and in the
opening of 1796 votes were taken for loans which amounted to twenty-five
millions more.

[Sidenote: The dogged temper of England.]

Nor was this wreck of his financial hopes Pitt's only ground for
desiring a close of the war. From the first, as we have seen, he had
been keenly sensitive to the European dangers which the contest
involved; nor had he shown, even in his moment of social panic, the
fanatical blindness of men like Burke to the evils which had produced
the revolution, or to the good which it had wrought. But he could only
listen in silence while the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Lord Shelburne of
earlier days and the successor of Chatham as the advocate of a more
liberal policy, met the rhetoric of Burke by a cool demonstration of the
benefit which the recent change had brought to the mass of the French
people, and by pointing to the profit which Russia was drawing from the
struggle in the west. In their wide-reaching view of European affairs,
in their justice to the revolution, Shelburne and Pitt stood alone.
Around them men were hardened and blinded by passion. The old hatred
between nation and nation, which Pitt had branded as irrational, woke up
fiercer than ever at the clash of arms, for with it was blended a
resentment that had smouldered in English breasts ever since the war
with America at the blow which France had dealt England in that hour of
her weakness, and a disgust which only slowly grew fainter at her
overthrow of every social and political institution that Englishmen held
dear. On the dogged temper of the nation at large the failure of the
coalition produced little effect. It had no fear of fighting France
single-handed, nor could it understand Pitt's suggestion that a time
had come for opening negotiations with a view to peace. Public opinion
indeed went hotly with Burke in his denunciation of all purpose of
relaxing England's hostility against the revolution, a denunciation
which was embodied in his "Letters on a Regicide Peace," the last outcry
of that fanaticism which had done so much to plunge the world in blood.

[Sidenote: The Irish danger.]

But though Pitt stood all but alone, he was firm in his purpose to bring
the war, if he could, to a close. What specially moved him was not the
danger on the Continent, whether that danger sprang from French
victories or from aggression in the east. It was a danger in the west.
Vain as the expectations of the French revolutionists had proved in the
case of England, they had better ground for their hopes elsewhere. Even
before the outbreak of the war Pitt had shown how keen was his sense of
a possible danger from Ireland. In that wretched country the terrible
fruits of a century of oppression and wrong were still to reap. From the
close of the American war, when her armed Volunteers had wrung
legislative independence from the Rockingham ministry, Ireland had
continued to be England's difficulty. She was now "independent"; but her
independence was a mere name for the uncontrolled rule of a few noble
families. The victory of the Volunteers had been won simply to the
profit of "undertakers," who returned a majority of members in the
Irish House of Commons, while they themselves formed the Irish House of
Lords. The suspension of any effective control or interference from
England left Ireland at these men's mercy, and they soon showed that
they meant to keep it for themselves. When the Catholics claimed
admission to the franchise or to equal civil rights as a reward for
their aid in the late struggle, their claim was rejected. A similar
demand of the Presbyterians, who had formed a good half of the
Volunteers, for the removal of their disabilities was equally set aside.
Even Grattan, when he pleaded for a reform which would make the
Parliament at least a fair representative of the Protestant Englishry,
utterly failed. The ruling class found government too profitable to
share it with other possessors. It was only by hard bribery that the
English viceroys could secure their co-operation in the simplest
measures of administration. "If ever there was a country unfit to govern
itself," said Lord Hutchinson, "it is Ireland. A corrupt aristocracy, a
ferocious commonalty, a distracted Government, a divided people!"

[Sidenote: Irish Emancipation.]

The real character of this Parliamentary rule was seen in the rejection
of Pitt's offer of free trade. In Pitt's eyes the danger of Ireland lay
above all in the misery of its people. Although the Irish Catholics were
held down by the brute force of their Protestant rulers, he saw that
their discontent was growing fast into rebellion, and that one secret
at any rate of their discontent lay in Irish poverty, a poverty
increased if not originally brought about by the jealous exclusion of
Irish products from their natural markets in England itself. One of his
first commercial measures therefore, as we have seen, aimed at putting
an end to this exclusion by a bill which established freedom of trade
between the two islands. But though he met successfully the fears and
jealousies of the English farmers and manufacturers he was foiled by the
factious ignorance of the Irish landowners, and his bill was rejected by
the Irish Parliament. So utterly was he discouraged that for the moment
he ceased from all further attempts to improve the condition of Ireland.
But the efforts which the French revolutionists made to excite rebellion
amongst the Irish roused him to fresh measures of conciliation and good
government. The hopes of some reform of the Irish Parliament had been
fanned by the eloquence of Grattan and by the pressure of the United
Irishmen, an association which had sprung up in Ulster, where Protestant
dissenters, who were equally excluded with Catholics from any share in
political power, formed the strongest part of the population. These
hopes however were growing every day fainter. To the Irish aristocracy
parliamentary reform meant the close of a corrupt rule which had gone on
unchecked since the American war. But to the Irish Catholic it meant
far more; it meant his admission, not only to the electoral franchise,
but in the end to all the common privileges of citizenship from which he
was excluded, his "emancipation," to use the word which now became
common, from the yoke of slavery which had pressed on him ever since the
Battle of the Boyne.

[Sidenote: The United Irishmen.]

To such an emancipation Pitt was already looking forward. In 1792, a
year before the outbreak of war with France, he forced on the Irish
Parliament measures for the admission of Catholics to the electoral
franchise and to civil and military office within the island, which
promised a new era of religious liberty. But the promise came too late.
The hope of conciliation was lost in the fast rising tide of religious
and social passion. As the dream of obtaining Parliamentary reform died
away the United Irishmen of the North drifted into projects of
insurrection and a correspondence with France. The news of the French
Revolution fell with a yet more terrible effect on the Catholic
peasantry, brooding over their misery and their wrongs. Their discontent
broke out in social disorder, in the outrages of secret societies of
"Defenders" and "Peep o' Day Boys," which spread panic among the ruling
classes. It was only by sheer terror and bloodshed that the Protestant
landowners, who banded together in "Orange" societies to meet the secret
societies about them, could hold the country down. Outrages on the one
side, tyranny on the other, deepened the disorder and panic every day,
and the hopes of the reformers grew fainter as the terror rose fast
around them. The maddened Protestants scouted all notions of further
concessions to men whom they looked upon as on the verge of revolt; and
Grattan's motions for reform were defeated by increasing majorities. On
the other hand the entry of the anti-revolutionary Whigs into Pitt's
ministry revived Grattan's hopes, for Burke and his followers were
pledged to a liberal policy towards Ireland, and Lord Fitzwilliam, who
came over as viceroy in 1794, encouraged Grattan to bring in a bill for
the entire emancipation of the Catholics at the opening of the next
year. Such a step can hardly have been taken without Pitt's assent; but
the minister was now swept along by a tide of feeling which he could not
control. The Orangemen threatened revolt, the Tories in Pitt's own
Cabinet recoiled from the notion of reform, and Lord Fitzwilliam was not
only recalled, but replaced by Lord Camden, an avowed enemy of all
change or concession to the Catholics. From that moment the United
Irishmen became a revolutionary society; and one of their leaders, Wolfe
Tone, made his way to France, in the spring of 1796, to seek aid in a
national rising.

[Sidenote: France and Ireland.]

It is probable that Tone's errand was known to Pitt; it is certain that
Lord Edward Fitzgerald, another of the patriot leaders, who had been
summoned to carry on more definite negotiations in Basle, revealed
inadvertently as he returned the secret of his hopes to an agent of the
English Cabinet. Vague as were the offers of the United Irishmen, they
had been warmly welcomed by the French Government. Masters at home, the
Directory were anxious to draw off the revolutionary enthusiasm which
the French party of order dreaded as much as Burke himself to the
channels of foreign conquest. They were already planning that descent of
their army in the Alps upon Lombardy which was to give a fatal blow to
one of their enemies, Austria; and they welcomed the notion of a French
descent upon Ireland and an Irish revolt, which would give as fatal a
blow to their other enemy, England. An army of 25,000 men under General
Hoche was promised, a fleet was manned, and preparations were being made
for the expedition during the summer. But the secret was ill kept, and
the news of such an attempt was, we can hardly doubt, the ground of the
obstinacy with which Pitt persisted in the teeth of the national feeling
and of Burke's invectives in clinging to his purpose of concluding a
peace. In October 1796 Lord Malmesbury was despatched to Paris and
negotiations were finally opened for that purpose. The terms which Pitt
offered were terms of mutual restitution. France was to evacuate
Holland and to restore Belgium to the Emperor. England on the other hand
was to restore the colonies she had won to France, Holland, and Spain.
As the English Minister had no power of dealing with the territories
already ceded by Prussia and other states, such a treaty would have left
France, as her eastern border, the line of the Rhine. But even had they
desired peace at all, the Directors would have scorned it on terms such
as these. While Malmesbury was negotiating indeed France was roused to
new dreams of conquest by the victories of Napoleon Buonaparte. The
genius of Carnot, the French Minister of War, had planned a joint
advance upon Vienna by the French armies of Italy and the Rhine, the one
under Buonaparte, the other under Moreau. The plan was only partly
successful. Moreau, though he pushed forward through every obstacle to
Bavaria, was compelled to fall back by the defeat of a lieutenant; and
was only enabled by a masterly retreat through the Black Forest to reach
the Rhine. But the disaster of Moreau was more than redeemed by the
victories of Buonaparte. With the army which occupied the Riviera and
the Maritime Alps the young general marched on Piedmont at the opening
of the summer, separated its army from the Austrian troops, and forced
the king of Sardinia to conclude a humiliating peace. A brilliant
victory at the bridge of Lodi brought him to Milan, and drove the
Austrians into the Tyrol. Lombardy was in the hands of the French, the
Duchies south of the Po pillaged, and the Pope driven to purchase an
armistice at enormous cost, before the Austrian armies, raised to a
force of 50,000 men, again descended from the Tyrol for the relief of
Mantua. But a fatal division of their forces by the Lake of Garda
enabled Buonaparte to hurl them back broken upon Trent, and to shut up
their general, Wurmser, in Mantua with the remnant of his men; while
fresh victories at the bridge of Arcola and at Bassano drove back two
new Austrian armies who advanced to Wurmser's rescue.

[Sidenote: The Terror of Ireland.]

It was the success of Buonaparte which told on the resolve of the
Directory to reject all terms of peace. After months of dilatory
negotiations the offers of Lord Malmesbury were definitely declined, and
the English envoy returned home at the end of the year. Every hour of
his stay in Paris had raised higher hopes of success against England in
the minds of the Directory. At the moment of his arrival Spain had been
driven to declare war as their ally against Britain; and the Spanish and
Dutch fleets were now at the French service for a struggle at sea. The
merciless exactions of Buonaparte poured gold into the exhausted
treasury; and the energy of Hoche rapidly availed itself of this supply
to equip a force for operations in Ireland. At the opening of December
he was ready to put to sea with a fleet of more than forty sail and
25,000 men; and the return of Lord Malmesbury was the signal for the
despatch of his expedition from Brest. The fleet at Toulon, which was
intended to co-operate with that at Brest, and which had sailed through
the Straits of Gibraltar for that purpose, was driven into Port l'Orient
by an English squadron: but contrary winds baffled the fleet which was
watching Hoche, and his armament slipped away with little hindrance
towards the Irish coast. Had it reached Ireland unbroken and under such
a general, the island might well have been lost to the English Crown.
But the winds fought against France, as they had fought against the
Armada of Spain; and the ships were parted from one another by a gale
which burst on them as they put to sea. Seventeen reached Bantry Bay,
but hearing nothing of their leader or of the rest, they sailed back
again to Brest, in spite of the entreaties of the soldiers to be
suffered to land. Another division reached the Shannon to be scattered
and driven home again by a second storm. Twelve vessels were wrecked or
captured, and the frigate in which Hoche had embarked returned to port
without having seen any of its companions. The invasion had failed, but
the panic which it roused woke passions of cruelty and tyranny which
turned Ireland into a hell. Soldiers and yeomanry marched over the
country torturing and scourging the "croppies," as the Irish peasantry
were termed from their short-cut hair; robbing, ravishing, and murdering
at their will. The lightest suspicion, the most unfounded charges, were
taken as warrants for bloodshed. So hideous were these outrages that the
news of them as it reached England woke a thrill of horror in the minds
of even the blindest Tories; but by the landowners who formed the Irish
Parliament they were sanctioned in a Bill of Indemnity and protected for
the future by an Insurrection Act. The terror however only woke a
universal spirit of revolt. Ireland drank in greedily that hatred of
England and of English rule which all the justice and moderation of
later government has failed to destroy; and the United Irishmen looked
with more passionate longing than ever to France.

[Sidenote: The struggle for the Sea.]

Nor had France abandoned the design of invasion; while her victories
made such a design every day more formidable. The war was going steadily
in her favour. A fresh victory at Rivoli, the surrender of Mantua, and
an advance through Styria on Vienna, enabled Buonaparte to wring a peace
from England's one ally, Austria. The armistice was concluded in April
1797, and the final treaty which was signed at Campo Formio in October
not only gave France the Ionian Islands, a part of the old territory of
Venice (whose Italian possessions passed to the Emperor), as well as the
Netherlands and the whole left bank of the Rhine, but united Lombardy
with the Duchies south of the Po and the Papal States as far as the
Rubicon into a "Cisalpine Republic," which was absolutely beneath her
control. The withdrawal of Austria left France without an enemy on the
Continent, and England without an ally. The stress of the war was
pressing more heavily on her every day. A mutiny in the fleet was
suppressed with difficulty. The news of Hoche's expedition brought about
a run for gold which forced on the Bank a suspension of specie payments.
It was in this darkest hour of the struggle that Burke passed away,
protesting to the last against the peace which, in spite of his previous
failure, Pitt was again striving to bring about by fresh negotiations at
Lille. Peace seemed more needful than ever to him now that France was
free to attack her enemy with the soldiers who had fought at Arcola and
Rivoli. Their way, indeed, lay across the sea, and at sea Britain was
supreme. But her supremacy was threatened by a coalition of naval forces
such as had all but crushed her in the American war. Again the Dutch and
Spanish fleets were allied with the fleets of France; and it was
necessary to watch Cadiz and the Scheldt as well as Brest and Toulon. A
single victory of the three confederates, or even such a command of the
Channel as they had held for months during the war with America, would
enable the Directory to throw overwhelming armies not only on the shores
of England, but on the shores of Ireland, and whatever might be the
fate of the one enterprise, there could be little doubt of the success
of the other. The danger was real; but it had hardly threatened England
when it was dispelled by two great victories. The Spanish fleet, which
put out to sea with twenty-seven sail of the line, was met on the
fourteenth of February 1797 by Admiral Jervis off Cape St. Vincent with
a force of but fifteen; and driven back to Cadiz with a loss of four of
its finest vessels. Disheartened as they were, however, their numbers
still exceeded that of the force which blockaded them; and France
counted with confidence on the fleet of Holland, which was ordered to
join its own fleet at Brest. The aim of this union was to protect a
fresh force in its descent upon Ireland, where the United Irishmen now
declared themselves ready for revolt. But a yet sterner fortune awaited
the Dutch than that which had fallen on the Spaniards. Their admiral, De
Winter, who had quitted the Texel during a storm with eleven sail of the
line and four frigates, fell in on the eleventh of October with a far
larger fleet under Admiral Duncan off Camperdown. The Hollanders fought
with a stubborn courage worthy of their old renown, and it was only when
their ships were riddled with shot into mere wrecks that they fell into
the hands of the English.

[Sidenote: The Irish Rising.]

The French project for an expedition to Ireland hung on the junction of
the Dutch fleet with that of Brest, and the command of the Channel
which this junction would have given them. Such a command became
impossible after the defeat of Camperdown. But the disappointment of
their hopes of foreign aid only drove the adherents of revolt in Ireland
to a rising of despair. The union of the national party, which had
lasted to some extent from the American war, was now broken up. The
Protestants of Ulster still looked for aid to France. The Catholics, on
the other hand, were alienated from the French by their attack on
religion and the priesthood; and the failure of the French expedition,
while it damped the hopes of the Ulstermen, gave force to the demands of
the Catholic party for a purely national rising. So fierce was this
demand that the leaders of the United Irishmen were forced to fix on the
spring of 1798 for the outbreak of an insurrection, in which Lord Edward
Fitzgerald, who had some small military experience, was to take the
command. But while yielding on this point to the Catholic section of
their party they conciliated the Protestants by renewed appeals for aid
to the Directory. In spite of its previous failures France again
promised help; and a division was prepared during the winter for service
in Ireland. But the passion of the nation was too intense to wait for
its arrival. The government too acted with a prompt decision in face of
the danger, and an arrest of Lord Edward Fitzgerald with three of their
chief leaders in February 1798 broke the plans of the insurgents. On the
23rd of May, however, the day fixed for the opening of the revolt, the
Catholic peasantry of the south rose in arms. Elsewhere their disorderly
gatherings were easily dispersed by the yeomanry; but Wexford
surrendered to 14,000 insurgents who marched on it, headed by a village
priest, and the town at once became the centre of a formidable revolt.

[Sidenote: Its failure.]

Fortunately for the English rule the old religious hatred which had so
often wrecked the hopes of Ireland broke out in the instant of this
triumph. The Protestant inhabitants of Wexford were driven into the
river or flung into prison. Another body of insurgents, frenzied by the
cruelties of the royal troops, massacred a hundred Protestants in cool
blood. The atrocities of the soldiers and the yeomanry were avenged with
a fiendish ruthlessness. Loyalists were lashed and tortured in their
turn, and every soldier taken was butchered without mercy. The result of
these outrages was fatal to the insurrection. The Ulster Protestants,
who formed the strength of the United Irishmen, stood sullenly aloof
from rebels who murdered Protestants. The Catholic gentry threw
themselves on the side of the government against a rising which
threatened the country with massacre and anarchy. Few in fact had joined
the insurgents in Wexford when Lord Lake appeared before their camp
upon Vinegar Hill with a strong force of English troops on the 21st of
May. The camp was stormed, and with the dispersion of its defenders the
revolt came suddenly to an end. But its suppression came only just in
time to prevent greater disasters; for a few weeks after the close of
the rebellion the long-expected aid arrived from France. The news of the
outbreak had forced the armament which was being equipped in the French
ports to put to sea with forces utterly inadequate to the task it had
set itself, but fresh aid was promised to follow, and the nine hundred
soldiers who landed in August under General Humbert on the coast of Mayo
showed by their first successes how formidable a centre they would have
given to the revolt had the revolt held its ground. But in the two
months which had passed since Vinegar Hill all trace of resistance to
the English rule had been trodden out in blood, and Humbert found
himself alone in a country exhausted and panic-stricken. He marched
however boldly on Castlebar, broke a force of yeomanry and volunteers
three times his number, and only surrendered when Lord Cornwallis, who
had succeeded to the Lord-Lieutenancy, faced him with thirty thousand

[Sidenote: French designs on India.]

Of the threefold attack on which the Directory had relied for the ruin
of England two parts had now broken down. Humbert's surrender and the
failure of the native insurrection left little hope for future attack
on the side of Ireland. The naval confederacy which was to rob England
of the command of the seas had been foiled by the utter wreck of the
Dutch fleet, and the imprisonment of the Spanish fleet in Cadiz. But the
genius of Buonaparte had seized on the schemes for a rising against the
English rule in Hindostan, and widened them into a project of all but
world-wide conquest. At this time the strongest and most vigorous of the
Indian powers was that of Mysore, at the southern extremity of the
peninsula, where a Mussulman state had been built up by the genius of an
adventurer, Hyder Ali. In the days when the English were winning their
supremacy over the Carnatic, Hyder had been their chief difficulty; and
his attack had once brought them to the verge of ruin. The hostility of
his son Tippoo was even more bitter; but the victories of Lord
Cornwallis had taught the Sultan of Mysore that he was no match for the
British power single-handed; and his hopes, like those of the United
Irishmen, were fixed upon France. He was striving to get aid from the
Afghans and from the Nizam, but what he most counted on for the
expulsion of the English from the Carnatic was a force of thirty
thousand French soldiers. Letters requesting such a force were
despatched by him to France in 1797. Buonaparte had already fixed on
Mysore as a basis of operations against the British rule in Hindostan;
and after dismissing as impracticable a project suggested to him on his
return from Italy after the treaty of Campo Formio for a descent upon
England itself, he laid before the Directory a plan for the conquest and
occupation of Egypt as a preliminary to a campaign in Southern India.
Utterly as this plan was foiled in the future, it was far from being the
wild dream which it has often been considered. Both the Ministry and
East Indian Directors were roused into anxiety by the first news of
Buonaparte's expedition. The Earl of Mornington, Governor-General of
British India, was warned of a possible attack from the Red Sea. Four
thousand soldiers were hurried off to reinforce his army; while the
English fleet watched anxiously in the Mediterranean. But so perfect was
the secrecy with which the French plans were combined that Buonaparte
was able to put to sea in May 1798 with a force of 30,000 veterans drawn
from the army of Italy, and making himself master of Malta as he passed
to land near Alexandria at the close of June.

[Sidenote: The battle of the Nile.]

The conquest of Egypt proved as easy and complete as Buonaparte had
hoped. The Mamelukes were routed in the battle of the Pyramids; Cairo
was occupied; and the French troops pushed rapidly up the valley of the
Nile. Their general meanwhile showed his genius for government by a
masterly organization of the conquered country, by the conciliation of
his new subjects, and by measures for the enrolment of native soldiers
which would in a short time have placed him at the head of a formidable
army. Of his ultimate aim there can be little doubt; for he had hardly
landed at Alexandria when he despatched the news of his arrival and
promises of support to Tippoo. All chance however of success in his
projects hung on the maintenance of communications with France. With
Italy, with the Ionian Islands, with Alexandria in French holding, it
was all but impossible to prevent supplies of men and arms from being
forwarded to Egypt, so long as the French fleet remained in the waters
of the Mediterranean and kept the English force concentrated by the
necessity of watching its movements. But the French were hardly masters
of Egypt when their fleet ceased to exist. The thirteen men-of-war which
had escorted the expedition were found by Admiral Nelson in Aboukir Bay,
moored close to the coast in a line guarded at either end by gunboats
and batteries. Nelson resolved to thrust his ships between the French
and the shore. On the morning of the 1st of August his own flag-ship led
the way in this attack; and after a terrible fight of twelve hours, nine
of the French vessels were captured and destroyed, two were burned, and
five thousand French seamen were killed or made prisoners. "Victory,"
cried Nelson, "is not a name strong enough for such a scene." Few
victories indeed in history have produced more effective results than
the battle of the Nile. The French flag was swept from the waters of the
Mediterranean. All communication between France and Buonaparte's army
was cut off; and his hopes of making Egypt a starting-point for the
conquest of India fell at a blow. To hold Egypt itself soon became
difficult, for a desperate revolt broke out at the news of Nelson's
victory in the streets of Cairo, and a Turkish army advanced from Syria
to recover the valley of the Nile.

[Sidenote: France and Europe.]

Secure against invasion at home as against rebellion in Ireland, secure
too against the dangers that threatened her rule in India, and mistress
of the seas, England was free in her turn to attack the assailant who
had so long threatened her very existence. And in such an attack she was
aided at this moment by the temper of the European powers, and by the
ceaseless aggressions of France. The treaties of Basle and Campo Formio
were far from being accepted by the Directory as a final settlement of
the relations of France with Europe. Some faint remnant of the older
dreams of freeing oppressed peoples may have lingered in the aid which
it gave to the rising of the subject districts of Basle and Vaud against
their Bernese masters in the opening of 1798. But mere greed of gold was
seen in the plunder of the treasury of Berne, a plunder which served to
equip the army that sailed with Buonaparte to the shores of Egypt, and
to recruit the exhausted treasury of the Directory; and an ambition, as
reckless as this greed, broke out in an attack on the mountain cantons,
states whose democratic institutions gave no such excuse for hostility
as had been afforded by the aristocracy of Berne. A French decree
abolished the Swiss Confederation, and the independence of its several
states, and established in their place an Helvetic Republic modelled on
a plan sent from Paris, and placed under the protection of France. The
mountain cantons rose against this overthrow of a freedom compared with
which the freedom of France was but of yesterday; but desperate as was
their struggle they were overwhelmed by numbers, and the men of Uri, of
Unterwalden and of Schwytz bowed for the first time to a foreign

[Sidenote: Russia and France.]

The overthrow of this immemorial house of freedom opened the eyes of the
blindest enthusiast to the real character of the French aggressions.
Even in the group of young English poets, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and
Southey, who had clung till now to the dream of the Revolution, of a
Europe freed and regenerated by the arms of the new republic, all belief
in such a dream passed finally away. But the France of the Directory
would have cared little for this alienation of the peoples, had it not
been backed by the revived hostility of their kings. What England
counted on in her efforts for a revival of the coalition was the
resentment of Austria at the aggressions which the Directory had ever
since the peace of Campo Formio been carrying on in Italy. In the
opening of 1798 a French force entered Rome, set up a Roman republic,
and carried off Pius VI. a prisoner to Siena; while the king of Sardinia
was driven to admit French garrisons into his fortresses. Austria
however was still too weak after her defeats to listen to Pitt's
advances, had Pitt stood alone. But Russia was now about to take a new
part in European affairs. Under Catharine the Second this power had
availed itself of the war against France in the west to carry out its
own projects of conquest in eastern Europe; and, as we have seen, Pitt
had watched its advance at the opening of the Revolution with far
greater dread than the movements in France. It was in fact the need
which the two German states felt of balancing the Russian annexations in
Poland by annexations of their own which had paralysed their armies on
the Rhine and saved France at the moment of her greatest danger in 1793.
It is probable that the Directory still counted on the persistence of
Russia in a similar policy, and believed that Catharine would see in
their attack on Egypt and the Turks only a fresh opportunity for
conquests on the Danube. But the sudden greatness of France had warned
Russia that its policy of selfishness had been carried too far. It had
allowed the Republic to tower into supremacy over the Continent, and if
once such a supremacy was firmly established it would prove a fatal
obstacle to the Russian advance. France would again, as under the
monarchy, aim at the restoration of Poland; she would again bar the way
to Constantinople; and her action would be backed by the weight of all
western Europe, which had been thrown into her scale by the policy of
the very state she defied. To avert such a result it was necessary to
restore that balance of the Continent by which France and the German
powers held one another in check; and with a view to this restoration
Russia suddenly declared itself an enemy of France. Catharine's
successor, the Czar Paul, set aside the overtures of the Directory. A
close alliance was formed with Austria, and while an Imperial army
gathered on the Bavarian frontier Russian troops hurried to the west.

[Sidenote: The Union with Ireland.]

The appearance of this new element in the struggle changed its whole
conditions; and it was with renewed hope that Pitt lavished subsidies on
the two allies at the close of 1798. But his preparations for the new
strife were far from being limited to efforts abroad. In England he had
found fresh resources in an Income-Tax, from which he anticipated an
annual return of ten millions. Heavy as the tax was, and it amounted to
ten per cent on all incomes above £200 a year, the dogged resolution of
the people to fight on was seen in the absence of all opposition to
this proposal. What was of even greater importance was to remove all
chance of fresh danger from Ireland. Pitt's temper was of too
statesmanlike a mould to rest content with the mere suppression of
insurrection or with the system of terrorism which for the moment held
the country down. His disgust at "the bigoted fury of Irish Protestants"
had backed Lord Cornwallis in checking the reprisals of his troops and
of the Orangemen; but the hideous cruelty which he was forced to witness
brought about a firm resolve to put an end to the farce of
"Independence" which left Ireland helpless in such hands. The political
necessity for a union of the two islands had been brought home to every
English statesman by the course of the Irish Parliament during the
disputes over the Regency. While England repelled the claims of the
Prince of Wales to the Regency as of right, the legislature of Ireland
admitted them. As the only union left between the two peoples since the
concession of legislative independence was their obedience to a common
ruler, such an act might conceivably have ended in their entire
severance; and the sense of this danger secured a welcome in England for
the proposal which Pitt made at the opening of 1799 to unite the two
Parliaments. The opposition of the Irish borough-mongers was naturally
stubborn and determined, and when the plan was introduced into the
Parliament at Dublin, it was only saved from rejection by a single
vote. But with men like these it was a sheer question of gold; and their
assent was bought with a million in money, and with a liberal
distribution of pensions and peerages. Base and shameless as were such
means, Pitt may fairly plead that they were the only means by which the
bill for the Union could have been passed. As the matter was finally
arranged in June 1800, one hundred Irish members became part of the
House of Commons at Westminster, and twenty-eight temporal peers chosen
by their fellows for life, with four spiritual peers succeeding in a
fixed rotation, took their seats in the House of Lords. Commerce between
the two countries was freed from all restrictions, and every trading
privilege of the one thrown open to the other, while taxation was
proportionately distributed between the two peoples.

[Sidenote: France and the Coalition.]

While the Union was being pushed slowly forward, the struggle abroad was
passing through strange vicissitudes. At the opening of 1799 the efforts
of the new coalition were crowned with success in every quarter. Though
Naples had been turned into a Parthenopean Republic at the close of the
previous year, and the French supremacy extended over the whole
peninsula, the descent of an Austrian army from the Tyrol at the end of
March, and a victory of the Russian and Austrian forces at Cassano,
compelled the French army to evacuate Southern Italy and Lombardy,
while a fresh defeat at Novi flung it back on the Maritime Alps. A
campaign conducted with more varying success drove the armies which
advanced into Germany back over the Rhine. In Switzerland however the
stubborn energy of Massena enabled his soldiers to hold their ground
against the combined attack of Russian and Austrian forces; and the
attempt of a united force of Russians and English to wrest Holland from
its French masters was successfully repulsed. Twelve of the thirty
thousand men who formed this army consisted of English troops; and Sir
Ralph Abercromby succeeded in landing at their head, in seizing what
remained of the Dutch fleet at the Texel, and in holding General Brune
at bay when he advanced with superior forces. But Abercromby was
superseded in his command by the Duke of York; and in another month the
new leader was glad to conclude a convention by which the safe
withdrawal of his troops was secured.

[Sidenote: Buonaparte in Syria.]

In the East however England was more successful. Even had Buonaparte not
been baffled in his plans of a descent on Southern India from the basis
of Egypt by the battle of the Nile, they would have been frustrated by
the energy of Lord Wellesley. Mysore was invaded, its capital stormed,
and Tippoo slain, before a French soldier could have been despatched to
its aid. But foiled as were his dreams of Indian conquest the daring
genius of the French general plunged into wilder projects. He conceived
the design of the conquest of Syria and of the creation of an army among
its warlike mountaineers. "With a hundred thousand men on the banks of
the Euphrates," he said years afterwards, "I might have gone to
Constantinople or India, I might have changed the face of the world."
Gaza was taken, Jaffa stormed, and ten thousand French soldiers advanced
under their young general on Acre. Acre was the key of Syria, and its
reduction was the first step in these immense projects. "Once possessed
of Acre," wrote Napoleon, "the army would have gone to Damascus and the
Euphrates. The Christians of Syria, the Druses, the Armenians, would
have joined us. The provinces of the Ottoman Empire were ready for a
change, and were only waiting for a man." But Acre was stubbornly held
by the Turks, the French battering train was captured at sea by an
English captain, Sir Sidney Smith, whose seamen aided in the defence of
the place, and after a loss of three thousand men by sword and plague,
the besiegers were forced to fall back upon Egypt.

[Sidenote: The Peace of Lunéville.]

Egypt indeed was more than ever their own, for their army had now
penetrated to the cataracts of the Nile, and a Turkish force which
landed near Alexandria was cut to pieces by Buonaparte in the battle of
Aboukir. But the news of defeat at home and the certainty that all wider
hopes in the East were at an end, induced him only a month after his
victory to leave his army. With a couple of frigates he set sail for
France; and his arrival in Paris was soon followed by a change in the
government. The Directors were divided among themselves, while the
disasters of their administration made them hateful to the country; and
a revolution brought about by the soldiery on the 10th of November put
an end to their power. In the new system which followed three consuls
took the place of the Directors; but the system only screened the
government of a single man, for under the name of First Consul
Buonaparte became in effect sole ruler of the country. His energy at
once changed the whole face of European affairs. The offers of peace
which he made to England and Austria were intended to do little more
than to shake the coalition, and gain breathing time for the
organization of a new force which was gathering in secrecy at Dijon,
while Moreau with the army of the Rhine pushed again along the Danube.
The First Consul crossed the Saint Bernard with this army in the spring
of 1800, and on the 14th of June a victory at Marengo left the Austrian
army, which had just succeeded in reducing Genoa, helpless in his hands.
It was by the surrender of all Lombardy to the Oglio that the defeated
general obtained an armistice for his troops; and a similar truce
arrested the march of Moreau, who had captured Munich and was pushing
on to Vienna. The armistice only added to the difficulties of
Buonaparte's opponents, for Russia, as anxious not to establish a German
supremacy as she had been to weaken the supremacy of France, had
withdrawn from the contest as soon as the coalition seemed to be
successful; and Austria was only held back from peace by her acceptance
of English subsidies. But though she fought on, the resumption of the
war in the autumn failed to reverse the fortune of arms. The Austrians
were driven back on Vienna; and on the second of December Moreau crushed
their army on the Iser in the victory of Hohenlinden. But the aim of the
First Consul was only to wrest peace from his enemies by these triumphs;
while the expiration of her engagements with England left his opponent
free to lay down her arms. In February 1801 therefore the Continental
War was brought suddenly to an end by the Peace of Lunéville.




[Sidenote: The New Europe.]

The treaty of Lunéville was of far greater import than the treaties
which had ended the struggle of the first coalition. It was in effect
the close of the attack which revolutionary France had directed against
the Continental powers. With it expired the outer energy of the
Revolution, as its inner energy expired with the elevation of Buonaparte
to the First Consulate. The change that the French onset had wrought in
the aspect of Europe had no doubt been great. In the nine years which
had passed since the earlier league of the powers against her, France
had won all and more than all that the ambition of her older statesmen
had ever aimed at. She had absorbed the Netherlands. She was practically
mistress of Holland, Switzerland, and Piedmont, whose dependent
republics covered her frontier; while she had revived that union with
Spain which had fallen for a time with the Family Compact of the House
of Bourbon. But in spite of this growth the dread of French aggression
was far less keenly felt by her neighbour states than in the early years
of the war. What they had dreaded then was not so much the political
reconstruction of Europe as the revolutionary enthusiasm which would
have pushed this political reconstruction into a social revolution. But
at the opening of the nineteenth century the enthusiasm of France had
faded away. She was again Christian. She was again practically
monarchical. What her neighbours saw in her after all these years of
change was little more than the old France with a wider frontier; and
now that they could look upon those years as a whole, it was clear that
much of this widening of her borders was only a fair counterbalance for
the widened borders of the states around her. If France had grown great,
other powers had grown in greatness too. If France had pushed her
frontier to the Rhine and established dependencies across the Rhone and
the Alps, Russia during the same period had annexed the bulk of Poland,
and the two great German powers had enlarged themselves both to the east
and the west. The Empire had practically ceased to be; but its ruin had
given fresh extension and compactness to the states which had profited
by it. The cessions of Prussia had been small beside her gains. The
losses of Austria had been more than counterbalanced in Italy by her
acquisition of Venice, and far more than counterbalanced by
secularizations and annexations within Germany itself.

[Illustration: EUROPE after the PEACE OF LUNÉVILLE, 1801]

[Sidenote: France and Britain.]

Although therefore the old Europe and its balance of power had passed
away, the new Europe which had taken its place presented a balance of
power which might be regarded as even more effective; and the peace of
Lunéville was in reality the recognition on both sides of a European
settlement on the basis of such a balance. But in the mind of Buonaparte
it was far more than this. It was the first step in an entire reversal
of the policy which Revolutionary France had pursued in her dealings
with the world. It was a return to the older policy of the French
monarchy. Under the guidance of the revolutionists France had striven
for supremacy among the states of Europe. But for such a supremacy the
First Consul cared comparatively little. What he cared for was what
Choiseul and the statesmen who followed him cared for, the supremacy of
the world. And he saw that with every year of war on the Continent such
a supremacy grew more distant than ever. The very victories of France
indeed were playing into the hands of England. Amidst all the triumphs
of the revolutionary war the growth of the British Empire had been
steady and ceaseless. She was more than ever mistress of the sea. The
mastery of Holland by the French had only ended in the removal of one of
the obstacles to such a mastery by the ruin of the Dutch navy, and the
transfer of the rich Dutch colonies to the British crown. The winning of
Egypt had but spurred her to crush the only Mussulman power that could
avert her rule over southern India. But her growth was more than a
merely territorial growth. She was turning her command of the seas to a
practical account. Not only was she monopolizing the carrying trade of
the European nations, but the sudden uprush of her industries was making
her the workshop as well as the market of the world. From the first the
mind of Buonaparte had been set on a struggle with this growing
world-power. Even amidst his earliest victories he had dreamed of
wresting from England her dominion in the East; and if his Egyptian
expedition had done nothing for India, it had secured in Egypt itself a
stepping-stone for further efforts. But now that France was wholly at
his disposal, the First Consul resolved to free his hands from the
strife with the Continent, and to enter on that struggle with Britain
which was henceforth to be the task of his life.

[Sidenote: Pitt's position.]

The significance then of the Peace of Lunéville lay in this, not only
that it was the close of the earlier revolutionary struggle for
supremacy in Europe, the abandonment by France of her effort to
"liberate the peoples," to force new institutions on the nations about
her by sheer dint of arms; but that it marked the concentration of all
her energies on a struggle with Britain for the supremacy of the world.
For England herself the event which accompanied it, the sudden
withdrawal of William Pitt from office which took place in the very
month of the treaty, was hardly less significant. To men of our day the
later position of William Pitt seems one of almost tragic irony. An
economist heaping up millions of debt, a Peace Minister dragged into the
costliest of wars, he is the very type of the baffled statesman; and the
passionate loyalty with which England clung to him through the
revolutionary struggle is one of the least intelligible passages of our
history. But if England clung to Pitt through these years of gloom, it
was because then more than ever she saw in him her own representative.
His strength had lain throughout in his reflection of public opinion:
and public opinion saw itself reflected in him still. At the outset of
his career the set of opinion had been towards a larger and more popular
policy than of old. New facilities of communication, new industrial
energy, and a quick accumulation of wealth, as well as the social
changes which followed hard on these economical changes, all pointed
forward to political progress, to an adaptation of our institutions to
the varied conditions of the time. The nation was quivering with a new
sense of life; and it faced eagerly questions of religion, of
philanthropy, of education, of trade, as one after another they
presented themselves before it. Above all it clung to the young minister
whose ideas were its own, who, alien as his temper seemed from that of
an innovator, came boldly to the front with projects for a new
Parliament, a new finance, a new international policy, a new imperial
policy, a new humanitarian policy. It was this oneness of Pitt's temper
with the temper of the men he ruled that made him sympathize, in spite
of the alarm of the court, with the first movements of the revolution in
France, and deal fairly, if coldly, with its after-course. It was this
that gave him strength to hold out so long against a struggle with it.

[Sidenote: Pitt and the War.]

But as the alarm deepened, as the nation saw its social, political, and
religious traditions alike threatened, the bulk of Englishmen swung
round into an attitude of fierce resistance. The craving for
self-preservation hushed all other cravings. What men looked for in Pitt
now was not the economist or the reformer, but the son of Chatham, the
heir of his father's courage, of his father's faith in the greatness of
England. And what they looked for they found. Pitt was no born War
Minister; he had none of the genius that commands victory, or of the
passionate enthusiasm that rouses a nation to great deeds of arms. But
he had faith in England. Even when she stood alone against the world he
never despaired. Reading him, as we read him now, we see the sickness
and the gloom of his inner soul; but no sign betrayed it to the world.
As the tempest gathered about them, men looked with trust that deepened
into awe on the stately figure that embodied their faith in England's
fortunes, and huddled in the darkness round "the pilot that weathered
the storm." But there were deeper and less conscious grounds for their
trust in him. Pitt reflected far more than the nation's resolve. He
reflected the waverings and inconsistencies of its political temper in a
way that no other man did. In the general swing round to an attitude of
resistance, the impulse of progress had come utterly to an end. Men
doubted of the truth of principles that seemed to have brought about the
horrors of the Revolution. They listened to Burke as he built up his
theory of political immobility on the basis of an absolute perfection in
the constitution of things as they were. But even in this moment of
reaction they still clung unconsciously to a belief in something better,
to a trust that progress would again be possible, and to the man who
reflected their trust. Like them, Pitt could understand little of the
scene about him, that seething ocean of European change where states
vanished like dreams, and the very elements of social life seemed to
melt in a mist; his mind, like theirs, was baffled with doubt and
darkness, with the seeming suicide of freedom, the seeming triumph of
violence and wrong. But, baffled and bewildered as he was, he never
ceased to believe in liberty, or to hope that the work of reform which
he had begun might yet be carried into effect.

It was as the representative of this temper of the people at large, of
its mingled mood of terror at the new developements of freedom and yet
of faith in freedom itself, of its dread of progress and yet its hope of
a time when a larger national life should again become possible, that
Pitt had gathered the nation round him from the opening of the war. Much
indeed of the seeming weakness and uncertainty of his statesmanship
throughout the struggle sprang from the fidelity with which he reflected
this double aspect of national opinion. He has been blamed for fighting
the French Revolution at all, as he has been blamed for not entering on
an anti-revolutionary crusade. But his temper was that of the nation as
a whole. He shrank from the fanaticism of Burke as he shrank from the
fanaticism of Tom Paine: his aim was not to crush France or the
Revolution, but to bring the struggle with them to such an end as might
enable England to return in safety to the work of progress which the
struggle had interrupted. And it was this that gave significance to his
fall. It was a sign that the time had come when the national union which
Pitt embodied must dissolve with the disappearance of the force that
created it; when resistance had done its work, and the arrest of all
national movement had come to an end with the attitude of mere
resistance from which it sprang; when in face of a new France and a new
French policy England could again return to her normal political life,
and the impulses towards progress which had received so severe a check
in 1792 could again flow in their older channels. In such a return Pitt
himself took the lead; and his proposal of Catholic emancipation was as
significant of a new era of English life as the Peace of Lunéville was
significant of a new settlement of Europe.

[Sidenote: Catholic Emancipation.]

In Pitt's mind the Union which he brought about in 1800 was more than a
mere measure for the security of the one island; it was a first step in
the regeneration of the other. The legislative connexion of the two
countries was only part of the plan which he had conceived for the
conciliation of Ireland. With the conclusion of the Union indeed, his
projects of free trade between the two countries, projects which had
been defeated a few years back by the folly of the Irish Parliament,
came quietly into play; and in spite of insufficient capital and social
disturbance the growth of the trade, shipping, and manufactures of
Ireland has gone on without a check from that time to this. The change
which brought Ireland directly under the common Parliament was followed
too by a gradual revision of its oppressive laws and an amendment in
their administration; while taxation was lightened, and a faint
beginning made of public instruction. But in Pitt's mind the great means
of conciliation was the concession of religious equality. In proposing
to the English Parliament the union of the two countries he pointed out
that when thus joined to a Protestant country like England all danger of
a Catholic supremacy in Ireland, even should Catholic disabilities be
removed, would be practically at an end. In such a case, he suggested
that "an effectual and adequate provision for the Catholic clergy" would
be a security for their loyalty. His words gave strength to the hopes of
"Catholic emancipation," as the removal of what remained of the civil
disabilities of Catholics was called, which were held out by his agent,
Lord Castlereagh, in Ireland itself as a means of hindering any
opposition to the project of Union on the part of the Catholics. It was
agreed on all sides that their opposition would have secured its defeat;
and the absence of such a Catholic opposition showed the new trust in
Pitt which was awakened by the hints of Lord Castlereagh. The trust had
good grounds to go on. After the passing of the bill Pitt prepared to
lay before his Cabinet a measure which would have raised not only the
Irish Catholic but the Irish Dissenter to a perfect equality of civil
rights. He proposed to remove all religious tests which limited the
exercise of the franchise, or which were required for admission to
Parliament, the magistracy, the bar, municipal offices, or posts in the
army or the service of the State. An oath of allegiance and of fidelity
to the Constitution was substituted for the Sacramental test; while the
loyalty of the Catholic and Dissenting clergy was secured by a grant of
some provision to both on the part of the State. To win over the
Episcopal Church to such an equality measures were added for
strengthening its modes of discipline, as well as for increasing the
stipends of its poorer ministers, while a commutation of tithes was
planned as a means of removing a constant source of quarrel between the
Protestant clergy and the Irish people.

[Sidenote: Pitt's resignation.]

But the scheme was too large and statesmanlike to secure the immediate
assent of the Cabinet; and before that assent could be won or the plan
laid with full ministerial sanction before the king, it was communicated
through the treachery of the Chancellor, Lord Loughborough, to George
the Third. "I count any man my personal enemy," George broke out angrily
to Dundas, "who proposes any such measure." Pitt answered this outburst
by submitting his whole plan to the king. "The political circumstances
under which the exclusive laws originated," he wrote, "arising either
from the conflicting power of hostile and nearly balanced sects, from
the apprehension of a Popish queen as successor, a disputed succession
and a foreign pretender, a division in Europe between Catholic and
Protestant Powers, are no longer applicable to the present state of
things." But argument was wasted upon George the Third. In spite of the
decision of the lawyers whom he consulted, the king declared himself
bound by his Coronation Oath to maintain the tests; and his obstinacy
was only strengthened by a knowledge that such a refusal must drive Pitt
from office. George was weary of his minister's supremacy. He was
longing for servants who would leave him more than a show of power, and
he chose his ground for a struggle with all the cunning of his earlier
years. It was by his command of public opinion that Pitt had been able
to force his measures on the king. But in the question of Catholic
Emancipation George knew that opinion was not with his minister, but
with himself. On this point his bigotry was at one with the bigotry of
the bulk of his subjects, as well as with their political distrust of
Catholics and Irishmen. He persisted therefore in his refusal; and it
was followed by the event he foresaw. In February 1801, at the moment of
the Peace of Lunéville, William Pitt resigned his office into the hands
of the king.

[Sidenote: The Addington Ministry.]

It was with a sense of relief that George found himself freed from the
great minister whose temper was so alien from his own. But it was with a
yet greater sense of relief that he saw him followed into retirement not
only by Lord Grenville, but by nearly all the more liberal section of
the ministry, by men like Windham and Lord Spencer, the representatives
of the "Old Whigs" who had joined Pitt on the disruption of their party
through the French Revolution. Such a union indeed could hardly have
lasted much longer. The terror which had so long held these Whigs in
their alliance with the Tories who formed the bulk of the administration
was now at an end; and we have already seen their pressure for a more
liberal policy in the action of Lord Fitzwilliam as Lord-Lieutenant of
Ireland. But the question of Emancipation finally brought about a
restoration of the natural position of parties; and from this moment the
old Whigs, who accepted Lord Grenville as their head, fell into alliance
with the more revolutionary Whigs who had remained faithful to Fox. The
Whig party thus became again a powerful element in English politics,
while in face of the reunited Whigs stood the Tories, relieved like
themselves from the burthen of an alliance which grew hourly more
distasteful. The bulk of the old Ministry returned in a few days to
office with Mr. Addington at their head, and his administration received
the support of the whole Tory party in Parliament.

Without the walls of Parliament however the nation looked on such a
change with dismay. Addington was regarded as a weak and narrow-minded
man; and the favour with which the king welcomed him was clue to a
consciousness of their common bigotry. Of Lord Hawkesbury, who succeeded
Lord Grenville in the conduct of foreign affairs, nothing was known
outside the House of Commons. It was with anxiety that England found
itself guided by men like these at a time when every hour brought darker
news. The scarcity of bread was mounting to a famine. Taxes were raised
anew, and yet the loan for the year amounted to five-and-twenty
millions. The country stood utterly alone; while the peace of Lunéville
secured France from all hostility on the Continent. And it was soon
plain that this peace was only the first step in a new policy on the
part of the First Consul. What he had done was to free his hands for a
decisive conflict with Britain itself, both as a world-power and as a
centre of wealth. England was at once the carrier of European commerce
and the workshop of European manufactures. While her mines, her looms,
her steam-engines, were giving her almost a monopoly of industrial
production, her merchant ships sufficed not only to spread her own
products through the world, but to carry to every part of it the
products of other countries. Though the war had already told on both
these sources of wealth, it was far from having told fatally. It had
long closed France indeed to English exports, while the waste of wealth
in so wide a strife had lessened the buying power of Europe at large.
But in Europe the loss was to some extent made up for the moment by the
artificial demand for supplies which war creates; the home market still
sufficed to absorb a vast quantity of manufactures; and America, which
was fast growing into the most important of English customers, remained
unaffected by the struggle. Industry had thus suffered but little loss,
while commerce believed itself to have greatly gained. All rivals save
one had in fact been swept from the sea; the carrying trade of France
and Holland alike had been transferred to the British flag, and the
conquest of their wealthier settlements had thrown into British hands
the whole colonial trade of the world.

[Illustration: EUROPE after the PEACE OF TILSIT, 1807]

[Sidenote: League of Neutrals.]

To strike at England's wealth had been among the projects of the
Directory: it was now the dream of the First Consul. It was in vain for
England to produce, if he shut her out of every market. Her carrying
trade must be annihilated if he closed every port against her ships. It
was this gigantic project of a "Continental System" that revealed itself
as soon as Buonaparte became finally master of France. From France
itself and its dependencies in Holland and the Netherlands English trade
was already excluded. But Italy also was shut against her after the
Peace of Lunéville, and Spain not only closed her own ports but forced
Portugal to break with her English ally. In the Baltic Buonaparte was
more active than even in the Mediterranean. In a treaty with America,
which was destined to bring this power also in the end into his great
attack, he had formally recognized the rights of neutral vessels which
England was hourly disputing; and in her disregard of them he not only
saw the means of bringing the northern powers into his system of
exclusion, but of drawing on their resources for a yet more decisive
blow. He was set upon challenging not only England's wealth but her
world-empire; and his failure in Egypt had taught him that the first
condition of success in such an enterprise was to wrest from her her
command of the seas. The only means of doing this lay in a combination
of naval powers; and the earlier efforts of France had left but one
naval combination for Buonaparte to try. The Directory had been able to
assail England at sea by the joint action of the French fleet with those
of Holland and of Spain. But the Spanish navy had been crippled by the
battle of Cape St. Vincent, and the Dutch fleet destroyed in the victory
of Camperdown. The only powers which now possessed naval resources were
the powers of the North. The fleets of Denmark, Sweden, and Russia
numbered forty sail of the line, and they had been untouched by the
strife. Both the Scandinavian states resented the severity with which
Britain enforced that right of search which had brought about their
armed neutrality at the close of the American war; while Denmark was
besides an old ally of France, and her sympathies were still believed to
be French. The First Consul therefore had little trouble in enlisting
them in a league of neutrals, which was in effect a declaration of war
against England, and which Prussia as before showed herself ready to

[Sidenote: Russia's designs.]

Russia indeed seemed harder to gain. Since Paul's accession she had been
the moving spirit in the confederacy which had only been broken up by
the victory of Marengo. But the spirit of revolutionary aggression which
had nominally roused Paul to action, had, as the Czar believed, been
again hushed by the First Consul. Buonaparte had yielded to his
remonstrances in preserving the independence of Naples and Sardinia; and
with Italian subtlety he now turned the faith in French moderation which
these concessions created in the mind of Paul into a dread of the
ambition of England and a jealousy of her sovereignty of the seas. But
his efforts would have been in vain had they not fallen in with the
general current of Russian policy. From the first outbreak of the
Revolutionary struggle Russia, as we have seen, had taken advantage of
the strife among the Western nations to push forward her own projects in
the East. Catharine had aimed at absorbing Poland, and at becoming the
mistress of European Turkey. In the first she had been successful, but
the second still remained unaccomplished when her empire passed to her
son. For a time Paul had been diverted from the task by the turn of
affairs in Western Europe, where the victories of the French Republic
threatened an utter overthrow of the powers opposed to it, which would
have foiled the plans of Russia by bringing about a European union that
must have paralysed her advance. The Czar therefore acted strictly in
the spirit of Catharine's policy when he stepped in again to feed the
strife by raising the combatants to a new equality, and when he withdrew
his armies at the very moment that this was done. But successful as his
diversion had been, Paul saw that one obstacle remained in the way of
his projects upon Turkey. Pitt had never hidden his opposition to the
Russian plans. His whole policy at the outbreak of the Revolution had
been guided by a desperate hope of binding the powers again together to
prevent the ruin of Poland, or of hindering it by a league of England
and France alone. Foiled as he had been in these efforts, he was even
more resolute to check the advance of Russia on Constantinople. Already
her growing empire in India was telling on the European policy of
England; and the security of Egypt, of Syria, of Turkey at large, was
getting deemed to be essential to the maintenance of her communication
with her great dependency. The French descent on Egypt, the attack on
Syria, had bound Britain and Turkey together; and Paul saw that an
attack on the one would bring him a fresh opponent in the other.

[Sidenote: The League broken up.]

It was to check the action of Britain in the East that the Czar now
turned to the French Consul, and seconded his efforts for the formation
of a naval confederacy in the North, while his minister, Rostopchin,
planned a division of the Turkish Empire in Europe between Russia and
her allies. Austria was to be satisfied with the western provinces of
the Balkan peninsula; Russia gained Moldavia, Bulgaria, and Roumelia as
far as Constantinople; while Greece fell to the lot of France, whose
troops were already on the Italian shores, at a day's sail from the
Illyrian coast. A squabble over Malta, which had been blockaded since
its capture by Buonaparte, and which surrendered at last to a British
fleet, but whose possession the Czar claimed as his own on the ground of
an alleged election as Grand Master of the Order of St. John, served as
a pretext for a quarrel with England; and at the close of 1800 Paul
openly prepared for hostilities. In October he announced an armed
neutrality; in December he seized three hundred English vessels in his
ports, and sequestrated all English goods found in his Empire. The
Danes, who throughout the year had been struggling to evade the British
right of search, at once joined this neutral league, and were followed
by Sweden in their course. It was plain that, as soon as the spring of
1801 opened the Baltic, the fleets of the three Powers would act in
practical union with those of France and Spain. But the command of the
seas which such a union threatened was a matter for England of life and
death, for at this very moment the Peace of Lunéville left Buonaparte
without a foe on the Continent, and able to deal as he would with the
whole military resources of France. Once master of the Channel he could
throw a force on the southern coast of England which she had no means of
meeting in the field. But dexterous as the combination was, it was
shattered at a blow. On the first of April 1801 a British fleet of
eighteen men-of-war forced the passage of the Belt, appeared before
Copenhagen, and at once attacked the city and its fleet. In spite of a
brave resistance from the Danish batteries and gunboats six Danish ships
were taken, and the Crown Prince was forced to conclude an armistice
which enabled the English ships to enter the Baltic, where the Russian
fleet was still detained by the ice. But their work was really over. The
seizure of English goods and the declaration of war had bitterly
irritated the Russian nobles, whose sole outlet for the sale of the
produce of their vast estates was thus closed to them; and on the
twenty-fourth of March, nine days before the battle of Copenhagen, Paul
fell in a midnight attack by conspirators in his own palace. With Paul
fell the Confederacy of the North. The policy of his successor, the Czar
Alexander, was far more in unison with the general feeling of his
subjects; in June a Convention between England and Russia settled the
vexed questions of the right of search and contraband of war, and this
Convention was accepted by Sweden and Denmark.

[Sidenote: French lose Egypt.]

The First Consul's disappointment was keen; but he saw clearly that with
this dissolution of the Northern alliance the war came virtually to an
end. He no longer had any means of attacking Britain save by the efforts
of France itself, and even with the aid of Holland and Spain France was
at this moment helpless before the supremacy of England at sea. On the
other hand the continuance of the struggle would give triumph after
triumph to his foes. One such blow had already fallen. Even in the midst
of his immense schemes against Britain at home, Buonaparte had not
abandoned the hope of attacking her in India. Egypt was needful to such
a scheme; and from the first moment of his power he strained every nerve
to retain Egypt in the hands of France. Menou, who commanded there, was
ordered to hold the country; an expedition was fitted out in the Spanish
ports for its relief; and light vessels were hurried from the Italian
coast with arms and supplies. But at the very moment of the attack on
Copenhagen, a stroke as effective wrecked his projects in the East.
England had not forgotten the danger to her dependency; ever since
Buonaparte's expedition her fleet had blockaded Malta, the island
fortress whose possession gave France a first stepping-stone in any
enterprise against it; and the surrender of Malta left her unquestioned
mistress of the Mediterranean. From Malta she now turned to Egypt
itself. Triumphant as England had been at sea since the opening of the
war, her soldiers had proved no match for the French on land. Two
expeditions had been sent against Holland, and each had ended in a
disastrous retreat. But at this moment England reappeared as a military
power. In March 1801 a force of 15,000 men under General Abercromby
anchored in Aboukir Bay. Deserted as they were by Buonaparte, the French
had firmly maintained their hold on Egypt. They had suppressed a revolt
at Cairo, driven back Turkish invaders in a fresh victory, and by native
levies and reinforcements raised the number of their troops to 30,000
men. But their army was foolishly scattered, and Abercromby was able to
force a landing five days after his arrival on the coast. The French
however rapidly concentrated; and on the 21st of March their general
attacked the English army on the ground it had won with a force equal to
its own. The battle was a stubborn one, and Abercromby fell mortally
wounded ere its close; but after six hours' fighting the French drew off
with heavy loss; and their retreat was followed by the investment of
Alexandria and Cairo, into which Menou had withdrawn his army. All hope
however was over. Five thousand Turks, with a fresh division from
England and India, reinforced the besiegers; and at the close of June
the capitulation of the 13,000 soldiers who remained closed the French
rule over Egypt.

[Sidenote: The Peace of Amiens.]

Bitter as was the anger with which the First Consul received the news of
this surrender, it only strengthened his resolve to suspend a war of
which Britain only could now reap the fruits, and whose continuance
might in the present temper of Russia and its Czar disturb that peace of
the Continent on which all his plans against England rested. It was to
give time for such an organization of France and its resources as might
enable him to reopen the struggle with other chances of success that the
First Consul opened negotiations for peace at the close of 1801. His
offers were at once met by the English Government. In the actual
settlement of the Continent indeed England saw only an imperfect balance
to the power of France, but it had no means of disputing the settlement,
as France had no means of disturbing its supremacy at sea. If Buonaparte
wished to husband his resources for a new attack all but the wilder
Tories were willing to husband the resources of England for the more
favourable opportunity of renewing it which would come with a revival of
European energy. With such a temper on both sides the conclusion of
peace became easy; and the negotiations which went on through the winter
between England and the three allied Powers of France, Spain, and the
Dutch, brought about in March 1802 the Peace of Amiens. The terms of the
Peace were necessarily simple; for as England had no claim to interfere
with the settlement of the Continent, which had been brought about by
the treaties of its powers with the French Republic, all that remained
for her was to provide that the settlement should be a substantial one
by a pledge on the part of France to withdraw its forces from Southern
Italy, and to leave to themselves the republics it had set up along its
border in Holland, Switzerland, and Piedmont. In exchange for this
pledge England recognized the French government, restored all the
colonies which they had lost, save Ceylon and Trinidad, to France and
its allies, acknowledged the Ionian Islands as a free republic, and
engaged to restore Malta within three months to its old masters, the
Knights of St. John.

[Sidenote: Buonaparte.]

There was a general sense of relief at the close of so long a struggle;
and for a moment the bitter hatred which England had cherished against
France seemed to give place to more friendly feelings. The new French
ambassador was drawn in triumph on his arrival through the streets of
London; and thousands of Englishmen crossed the Channel to visit a
country which had conquered the world, and to gaze on the young general
who after wonderful victories had given a yet more wonderful peace to
Europe. But amidst all the glare of success, shrewd observers saw the
dangers that lay in the temper of the First Consul. Whatever had been
the errors of the French Revolutionists, even their worst attacks on the
independence of the nations around them had been veiled by a vague
notion of freeing the peoples whom they invaded from the yoke of their
rulers. But the aim of Buonaparte was simply that of a vulgar conqueror.
He was resolute to be master of the Western world, and no notions of
popular freedom or sense of national right interfered with his resolve.
The means at his command for carrying out such a design were immense.
The political life of the Revolution had been cut short by his military
despotism, but the new social vigour which the Revolution had given to
France through the abolition of privileges and the creation of a new
middle class on the ruins of the clergy and the nobles still lived on;
and while the dissensions which tore the country asunder were hushed by
the policy of the First Consul, by his restoration of the Church as a
religious power, his recall of the exiles, and the economy and wise
administration that distinguished his rule, the centralised system of
government that had been bequeathed by the Monarchy to the Revolution
and by the Revolution to Buonaparte enabled him easily to seize this
national vigour for the profit of his own despotism. On the other hand,
the exhaustion of the brilliant hopes raised by the Revolution, the
craving for public order, the military enthusiasm and the impulse of a
new glory given by the wonderful victories France had won, made a
Tyranny possible; and in the hands of Buonaparte this tyranny was
supported by a secret police, by the suppression of the press and of all
freedom of opinion, and above all by the iron will and immense ability
of the First Consul himself.

[Sidenote: His designs.]

Once chosen Consul for life, he felt himself secure at home, and turned
restlessly to the work of outer aggression. The pledges given at Amiens
were set aside. The republics established on the borders of France were
brought into mere dependence on his will. Piedmont and Parma were
actually annexed to France; and a French army occupied Switzerland. The
temperate protests of the English Government were answered by demands
for the expulsion of the French exiles who had been living in England
ever since the Revolution, and for its surrender of Malta, which was
retained till some security could be devised against a fresh seizure of
the island by the French fleet. Meanwhile huge armaments were preparing
in the French ports; and a new activity was seen in those of Spain. Not
for a moment indeed had Buonaparte relinquished his design of attacking
Britain. He had made peace because peace would serve his purpose, both
in strengthening the tranquillity of the Continent, which was essential
to his success in any campaign across the Channel, and in giving him
time to replace by a new combination the maritime schemes which had
broken down. Beaten as it had been, the Spanish fleet was still
powerful; and a union with the French fleet which the First Consul was
forming might still enable it to dispute the command of the sea. All
that he wished for was time; and time was what the Peace gave him. But
delay was as dangerous to England, now that it discerned his plans, as
it was profitable to France; and in May 1803 the British Government
anticipated his attack by a declaration of war.

[Sidenote: The Camp at Boulogne.]

The breach only quickened Buonaparte's resolve to attack his enemy at
home. The difficulties in his way he set contemptuously aside; "Fifteen
millions of people," he said, in allusion to the disproportion between
the population of England and France, "must give way to forty millions";
and the invasion was planned on a gigantic scale. A camp of one hundred
thousand men was formed at Boulogne, and a host of flat-bottomed boats
gathered for their conveyance across the Channel. The peril of the
nation forced Addington from office and recalled Pitt to power. His
health was broken, and as the days went by his appearance became so
haggard and depressed that it was plain death was drawing near. But
dying as he really was, the nation clung to him with all its old faith.
He was still the representative of national union; and he proposed to
include Fox and the leading Whigs in his new ministry, but he was foiled
by the bigotry of the king; and the refusal of Lord Grenville and of
Windham to take office without Fox, as well as the loss of his post at a
later time by his ablest supporter, Dundas, left him almost alone. But
lonely as he was, he faced difficulty and danger with the same courage
as of old. The invasion seemed imminent when Buonaparte, who now assumed
the title of the Emperor Napoleon, appeared in the camp at Boulogne. A
slight experience however showed him the futility of his scheme for
crossing the Channel in open boats in the teeth of English men-of-war;
and he turned to fresh plans of securing its passage. "Let us be masters
of the Channel for six hours," he is reported to have said, "and we are
masters of the world." A skilfully-combined plan, by which the British
fleet would have been divided while the whole French navy was
concentrated in the Channel, was delayed by the death of the admiral
destined to execute it. But the alliance with Spain placed the Spanish
fleet at Napoleon's disposal, and in 1805 he planned its union with that
of France, the crushing of the squadron which blocked the ports of the
Channel before the English ships which were watching the Spanish
armament could come to its support, and a crossing of the vast armament
thus protected to the English shore.

[Sidenote: Trafalgar.]

Though three hundred thousand volunteers mustered in England to meet the
coming attack, such a force would have offered but small hindrance to
the veterans of the Grand Army, had they once crossed the Channel. But
Pitt had already found them work elsewhere. It was not merely the danger
of Britain, and the sense that without this counterpoise they would be
helpless before the new French Empire, that roused the alarm of the
Continental powers. They had been scared by Napoleon's course of
aggression since the settlement at Lunéville, and his annexation of
Genoa brought their alarm to a head. Pitt's offer of subsidies removed
the last obstacle in the way of a league; and Russia, Austria, and
Sweden joined in an alliance to wrest Italy and the Low Countries from
the grasp of the French Emperor. Napoleon meanwhile swept the sea in
vain for a glimpse of the great armament whose assembly in the Channel
he had so skilfully planned. Admiral Villeneuve, uniting the Spanish
ships with his own squadron from Toulon, drew Nelson in pursuit to the
West Indies, and then suddenly returning to Cadiz, hastened to form a
junction with the French squadron at Brest and to crush the English
fleet in the Channel. But a headlong pursuit brought Nelson up with him
ere the manoeuvre was complete, and the two fleets met on the 21st of
October 1805 off Cape Trafalgar. "England" ran Nelson's famous signal,
"expects every man to do his duty"; and though he fell himself in the
hour of victory, twenty French sail had struck their flag ere the day
was done. The French and Spanish navies were in fact annihilated. From
this hour the supremacy of England at sea remained unquestioned; and the
danger of any invasion of England rolled away like a dream.

[Sidenote: The Peace of Tilsit.]

Her allies were less fortunate. "England has saved herself by her
courage," Pitt said in what were destined to be his last public words:
"she will save Europe by her example!" But even before the victory of
Trafalgar Napoleon had abandoned the dream of invading England to meet
the coalition in his rear; and swinging round his forces on the Danube,
he forced an Austrian army to capitulation in Ulm three days before his
naval defeat. From Ulm he marched on Vienna, and at the close of
November he crushed the combined armies of Austria and Russia in the
battle of Austerlitz. "Austerlitz," Wilberforce wrote in his diary,
"killed Pitt." Though he was still but forty-seven, the hollow voice and
wasted frame of the great Minister had long told that death was near;
and the blow to his hopes proved fatal. "Roll up that map," he said,
pointing to a map of Europe which hung upon the wall; "it will not be
wanted these ten years!" Once only he rallied from stupor; and those
who bent over him caught a faint murmur of "My country! How I leave my
country!" On the twenty-third of January 1806 he breathed his last; and
was laid in Westminster Abbey in the grave of Chatham. "What grave,"
exclaimed Lord Wellesley, "contains such a father and such a son! What
sepulchre embosoms the remains of so much human excellence and glory!"
So great was felt to be the loss that nothing but the union of parties,
which Pitt had in vain desired during his lifetime, could fill up the
gap left by his death. In the new ministry Fox, with the small body of
popular Whigs who were bent on peace and internal reform, united with
the aristocratic Whigs under Lord Grenville and with the Tories under
Lord Sidmouth. All home questions, in fact, were subordinated to the
need of saving Europe from the ambition of France, and in the resolve to
save Europe Fox was as resolute as Pitt himself. His hopes of peace
indeed were stronger; but they were foiled by the evasive answer which
Napoleon gave to his overtures, and by a new war which he undertook
against Prussia, the one power which seemed able to resist his arms. On
the 14th of October 1806 a decisive victory at Jena laid North Germany
at the Emperor's feet. From Berlin Napoleon marched into the heart of
Poland to bring to terms the last opponent now left him on the
Continent; and though checked in the winter by the stubborn defence of
the Russian forces on the field of Eylau, in the summer of 1807 a
decisive victory at Friedland brought the Czar to consent to the Peace
of Tilsit.

[Sidenote: The Continental System.]

The Peace of Tilsit marked an overthrow for the time of that European
settlement and balance of power which had been established five years
before by the Peace of Lunéville. The change in his policy had been to a
great extent forced on Napoleon; for the league of 1805 had shown that
his plan of such a Continental peace as would suffer him to concentrate
his whole strength on an invasion of Britain was certain to be foiled by
the fears of the Continental states; and that an unquestioned supremacy
over Europe was a first condition in the struggle with his great rival.
Even with such a supremacy, indeed, his plans for a descent on Britain
itself, or for winning the command of the sea which was the necessary
preliminary to such a descent, still remained impracticable. The battle
of Trafalgar had settled the question of an invasion of England; and a
thousand victories on land would not make him master, even for "six
hours," of the "silver streak" of sea that barred his path. But Napoleon
was far from abandoning his struggle against Britain; on the contrary,
he saw in his mastery of Europe the means of giving fresh force and
effectiveness to his attack in a quarter where his foe was still
vulnerable. It was her wealth that had raised up that European coalition
against him which had forced him to break up his camp at Boulogne; and
in his mastery of Europe he saw the means of striking at her wealth. His
earlier attempt at the enforcement of a "Continental System" had broken
down with the failure of the Northern League; but he now saw a yet more
effective means of realising his dream. It was this gigantic project
which revealed itself as soon as Jena had laid Prussia at his feet.
Napoleon was able to find a pretext for his new attack in England's own
action. By a violent stretch of her rights as a combatant she had
declared the whole coast occupied by France and its allies, from Dantzig
to Trieste, to be in a state of blockade. It was impossible to enforce
such an order as this, even with the immense force at her disposal; but
it was ostensibly to meet this "paper blockade" that Napoleon issued
from Berlin, on the twenty-first of November 1806, a decree
which--without a single ship to carry it out--placed the British Islands
in a state of blockade. All commerce or communication with them was
prohibited; all English goods or manufactures found in the territory of
France or its allies were declared liable to confiscation; and their
harbours were closed, not only against vessels coming from Britain, but
against all who had touched at her ports. An army of inspectors spread
along the coasts to carry out this decree.

[Sidenote: Its results.]

But it was almost impossible to enforce such a system. It was foiled by
the rise of a widespread contraband trade, by the reluctance of Holland
to aid in its own ruin, by the connivance of officials along the
Prussian and Russian shores, and by the pressure of facts. It was
impossible even for Napoleon himself to do without the goods he
pretended to exclude; an immense system of licences soon neutralized his
decree; and the French army which marched to Eylau was clad in
greatcoats made at Leeds, and shod with shoes made at Northampton.
Vexatious therefore as the system might be at once to England and to
Europe, it told on British industry mainly by heightening the price of
its products, and so far by restricting the market for them. But it told
far more fatally on British commerce. Trade at once began to move from
English vessels, which were subject to instant confiscation, and to
shelter itself under neutral flags, where goods had at least to be
proved to be British before they could be seized. America profited most
by this transfer. She was now entering on that commercial career which
was to make her England's chief trading rival; and she rapidly availed
herself of the Berlin decree to widen her carrying trade. But the
British Government at once felt the pressure of the merchant class. As
yet this class had profited above all others by the war and by the
monopoly which war placed in its hands; and now that not only its
monopoly but its very existence was threatened, it called on the
Government to protect it. It was to this appeal that the administration
of Lord Grenville replied, in January 1807, by an Order in Council which
declared all the ports of the coast of France and her allies under
blockade, and any neutral vessels trading between them to be good prize.

[Sidenote: Fall of the Grenville Ministry.]

Such a step however, though it arbitrarily shut neutral vessels out from
the coasting trade of most of Europe, was far from satisfying the
British merchants, for it left the whole trade between Europe and other
countries, which virtually included the colonial trade, untouched; and
this passed as of old into American bottoms. But their appeal was no
longer to Lord Grenville. The work which his ministry had set itself to
do was to continue the double work of Pitt, his resolute maintenance of
English greatness, and his endeavour to carry on even amidst the stress
of the fight that course of philanthropic and political progress which
was struggling back into renewed vigour after its long arrest through
the French Revolution. But the forces of ignorance and bigotry which had
been too strong for Pitt were too strong for the Grenville ministry,
weakened as it was by the death of Fox at the close of the previous
year. Its greatest work, the abolition of the slave-trade, in February
1807, was done in the teeth of a vigorous opposition from the Tories and
the merchants of Liverpool; and in March the first indication of its
desire to open the question of religious equality by allowing Catholic
officers to serve in the army was met on the part of the king by the
demand of a pledge not to meddle with the question. On the refusal of
this pledge the Ministry was dismissed. Its fall was the final close of
that union of parties in face of the war with France which had brought
about the junction of the bulk of the Whig party with the Tories, and
which had been to some extent renewed after the temporary breach in
Pitt's last ministry by the junction of Lord Sidmouth and a large body
of the Tories with the Whigs. The union had been based on the actual
peril to England's existence, and on the suspension of all home
questions in face of the peril. But with the break-up of the camp at
Boulogne and the victory of Trafalgar the peril of invasion had
disappeared. England again broke into the party that called for progress
and the party that resisted it.

[Sidenote: The Portland Ministry.]

The last was still the stronger: for in the mass of the nation progress
was still confounded with the destruction of institutions, the passion
for war absorbed public attention, and the Tories showed themselves most
in earnest in the prosecution of the war. From this time therefore to
the end of the war England was wholly governed by the Tories. The
nominal head of the ministry which succeeded that of Lord Grenville was
the Duke of Portland; its guiding spirit was the Foreign Secretary,
George Canning, a young and devoted adherent of Pitt, whose brilliant
rhetoric gave him power over the House of Commons, while the vigour and
breadth of his mind gave a new energy and colour to the war. At no time
had opposition to Napoleon seemed so hopeless as at the moment of his
entry into power. From foes the two Emperors of Western and Eastern
Europe had become friends, and the hope of French aid in the conquest of
Turkey drew Alexander to a close alliance with Napoleon. Russia not only
enforced the Berlin decrees against British commerce, but forced Sweden,
the one ally that England still retained on the Continent, to renounce
her alliance. The Russian and Swedish fleets were thus placed at the
service of France; and the two Emperors counted on securing in addition
the fleet of Denmark, and again threatening by this union the maritime
supremacy which formed England's real defence. The hope was foiled by
the decision of the new ministers. In July 1807 an expedition was
promptly and secretly equipped by Canning, with a demand for the
surrender of the Danish fleet into the hands of England, on pledge of
its return at the close of the war. On the refusal of the Danes the
demand was enforced by a bombardment of Copenhagen; and the whole Danish
fleet, with a vast mass of naval stores, was carried into British
ports. It was in the same spirit of almost reckless decision that
Canning turned to meet Napoleon's Continental System. The cry of the
British merchant fell upon willing ears. Of trade or the laws of trade
Canning was utterly ignorant; nor could he see that the interests of the
country were not necessarily the interests of a class; but he was
resolute at any cost to hinder the transfer of commerce to neutral
flags; and he saw in the crisis a means of forcing the one great neutral
power, America, to join Britain in her strife with France. In November
1807, therefore, he issued fresh Orders in Council. By these France, and
every Continental state from which the British flag was excluded, were
put in a state of blockade, and all vessels bound for their harbours
were held subject to seizure unless they had touched at a British port.
The orders were at once met by another decree of Napoleon issued at
Milan in December, which declared every vessel, of whatever nation,
coming from or bound to Britain or any British colony, to have forfeited
its character as a neutral, and to be liable to seizure.

[Sidenote: The American Embargo.]

The policy of Napoleon was at any rate a consistent one in these
measures; for his sole aim was to annihilate the industry as well as the
commerce of Britain; and he had little to fear from the indignation of
America. But the aim of Britain was to find outlets for her
manufactures; and of these outlets America was now far the most
important. She took in fact ten millions of our exports every year, not
only for her own consumption, but for the illicit trade which she
managed to carry on with the Continent. To close such an outlet as this
was to play into Napoleon's hands. And yet the first result of Canning's
policy was to close it. In the long strife between France and England,
America had already borne much from both combatants, but above all from
Britain. Not only had the English Government exercised its right of
search, but it asserted a right of seizing English seamen found in
American vessels; and as there were few means of discriminating between
English seamen and American, the sailor of Maine or Massachusetts was
often impressed to serve in the British fleet. Galled however as was
America by outrages such as these, she was hindered from resenting them
by her strong disinclination to war, as well as by the profit which she
drew from the maintenance of her neutral position; and she believed in
the words of Jefferson, that "it will ever be in our power to keep so
even a stand between France and England, as to inspire a wish in neither
to throw us into the scale of his adversary." But the Orders in Council
and the Milan Decree forced her into action, and she at once answered
them by an embargo of trade with Europe.

Such a step was a menace of further action, for it was plain that
America could not long remain in utter isolation, and that if she left
it she must join one combatant or the other. But she had as yet shown no
military power outside her own bounds, either by land or sea; and
England looked with scorn on the threats of a state which possessed
neither army nor fleet. "America," Lord Sidmouth wrote at this time, "is
a bugbear: there is no terror in her threats!" Canning indeed saw in the
embargo only a carrying out of his policy by the very machinery of the
American Government. The commerce of America ceased to exist. Her seamen
were driven to seek employment under the British flag; and Britain again
absorbed the carrying-trade of the world. But what he really looked
forward to was something far beyond this. He saw that the embargo was
but a temporary expedient: and he believed that its failure would force
the United States into union with England in her war with France.
Nothing shows the world-wide nature of the struggle more than such a
policy as this; but for a while it seemed justified by its results.
After a year's trial America found it impossible to maintain the
embargo: and at the opening of 1809 she exchanged it for an Act of
Non-Intercourse with France and England alone. But this Act was as
ineffective as the embargo. The American Government was utterly without
means of enforcing it on its land frontier; and it had small means of
enforcing it at sea. Throughout 1809 indeed vessels sailed daily for
British ports. The Act was thus effective against France alone, and part
of Canning's end was gained. At last the very protest which it embodied
was given up, and in May 1810 the Non-Intercourse Act was repealed
altogether. All that America persisted in maintaining was an offer that
if either Power would repeal its edicts, it would prohibit American
commerce with the other.

[Sidenote: Napoleon and Spain.]

What the results of this offer were to be we shall see hereafter. But at
the moment the attitude of America was one of utter submission; and the
effect of the Continental system on Britain had thus been to drive it to
a policy of aggression upon neutral states, which seemed to be as
successful as it was aggressive. The effect of his system on Napoleon
himself was precisely the same. It was to maintain this material union
of Europe against Britain that he was driven to aggression after
aggression in North Germany, and to demands upon Russia which threatened
the league that had been formed at Tilsit. Above all, it was the hope of
more effectually crushing the world-power of Britain that drove him, at
the very moment when Canning was attacking America, to his worst
aggression, the aggression upon Spain. Spain was already his subservient
ally; but her alliance became every hour less useful. The country was
ruined by misgovernment: its treasury was empty: its fleet rotted in
its harbours. To seize the whole Spanish Peninsula, to develope its
resources by an active administration, to have at his command not only a
regenerated Spain and Portugal, but their mighty dominions in Southern
and Central America, to renew with these fresh forces the struggle with
Britain for her empire of the seas, these were the designs by which
Napoleon was driven to the most ruthless of his enterprises. He acted
with his usual subtlety. In October 1807 France and Spain agreed to
divide Portugal between them; and on the advance of their forces the
reigning House of Braganza fled helplessly from Lisbon to a refuge in
Brazil. But the seizure of Portugal was only a prelude to the seizure of
Spain. Charles the Fourth, whom a riot in his capital drove at this
moment to abdication, and his son and successor, Ferdinand the Seventh,
were alike drawn to Bayonne in May 1808, and forced to resign their
claims to the Spanish crown; while a French army entered Madrid, and
proclaimed Joseph Buonaparte as King of Spain.

[Sidenote: The Rising of Spain.]

High-handed as such an act was, it was in harmony with the general
system which Napoleon was pursuing elsewhere, and which had as yet
stirred no national resistance. Holland had been changed into a monarchy
by a simple decree of the French Emperor, and its crown bestowed on his
brother Louis. For another brother, Jerome, a kingdom of Westphalia had
been built up out of the Electorates of Hesse Cassel and Hanover.
Joseph himself had been set as king over Naples before his transfer to
Spain. But the spell of submission was now suddenly broken, and the new
king had hardly entered Madrid when Spain rose as one man against the
stranger. Desperate as the effort of its people seemed, the news of the
rising was welcomed throughout England with a burst of enthusiastic joy.
"Hitherto," cried Sheridan, a leader of the Whig opposition, "Buonaparte
has contended with princes without dignity, numbers without ardour, or
peoples without patriotism. He has yet to learn what it is to combat a
people who are animated by one spirit against him." Tory and Whig alike
held that "never had so happy an opportunity existed for Britain to
strike a bold stroke for the rescue of the world"; and Canning at once
resolved to change the system of desultory descents on colonies and
sugar islands for a vigorous warfare in the Peninsula. Supplies were
sent to the Spanish insurgents with reckless profusion, and two small
armies placed under the command of Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur
Wellesley for service in the Peninsula. In July 1808 the surrender at
Baylen of a French force which had invaded Andalusia gave the first
shock to the power of Napoleon, and the blow was followed by one almost
as severe. Landing at the Mondego with fifteen thousand men, Sir Arthur
Wellesley drove the French army of Portugal from the field of Vimiera,
and forced it to surrender in the Convention of Cintra on the 30th of
August. But the tide of success was soon roughly turned. Napoleon
appeared in Spain with an army of two hundred thousand men; and Moore,
who had advanced from Lisbon to Salamanca to support the Spanish armies,
found them crushed on the Ebro, and was driven to fall hastily back on
the coast. His force saved its honour in a battle before Corunna on the
16th of January 1809, which enabled it to embark in safety; but
elsewhere all seemed lost. The whole of northern and central Spain was
held by the French armies; and even Zaragoza, which had once heroically
repulsed them, submitted after a second equally desperate resistance.

[Sidenote: Wellesley in Portugal.]

The landing of the wreck of Moore's army and the news of the Spanish
defeats turned the temper of England from the wildest hope to the
deepest despair; but Canning remained unmoved. On the day of the
evacuation of Corunna he signed a treaty of alliance with the Junta
which governed Spain in the absence of its king; and the English force
at Lisbon, which had already prepared to leave Portugal, was reinforced
with thirteen thousand fresh troops and placed under the command of Sir
Arthur Wellesley. "Portugal," Wellesley wrote coolly, "may be defended
against any force which the French can bring against it." At this
critical moment the best of the French troops with the Emperor himself
were drawn from the Peninsula to the Danube; for the Spanish rising had
roused Austria as well as England to a renewal of the struggle. When
Marshal Soult therefore threatened Lisbon from the north, Wellesley
marched boldly against him, drove him from Oporto in a disastrous
retreat, and suddenly changing his line of operations, pushed with
twenty thousand men by Abrantes on Madrid. He was joined on the march by
a Spanish force of thirty thousand men; and a bloody action with a
French army of equal force at Talavera in July 1809 restored the renown
of English arms. The losses on both sides were enormous, and the French
fell back at the close of the struggle; but the fruits of the victory
were lost by a sudden appearance of Soult on the English line of
advance. Wellesley was forced to retreat hastily on Badajoz, and his
failure was embittered by heavier disasters elsewhere; for Austria was
driven to sue for peace by a decisive victory of Napoleon at Wagram,
while a force of forty thousand English soldiers which had been
despatched against Antwerp in July returned home baffled after losing
half its numbers in the marshes of Walcheren.

[Sidenote: The Perceval Ministry.]

The failure at Walcheren brought about the fall of the Portland
ministry. Canning attributed this disaster to the incompetence of Lord
Castlereagh, heir to an Irish peerage, who after taking the chief part
in bringing about the union between England and Ireland had been raised
by the Duke of Portland to the post of Secretary at War; and the quarrel
between the two Ministers ended in a duel and in their resignation of
their offices in September 1809. The Duke of Portland retired with
Canning; and a new ministry was formed out of the more Tory members of
the late administration under the guidance of Spencer Perceval, an
industrious mediocrity of the narrowest type; while the Marquis of
Wellesley, a brother of the English general in Spain, succeeded Canning
as Foreign Secretary. But if Perceval and his colleagues possessed few
of the higher qualities of statesmanship, they had one characteristic
which in the actual position of English affairs was beyond all price.
They were resolute to continue the war. In the nation at large the fit
of enthusiasm had been followed by a fit of despair; and the City of
London even petitioned for a withdrawal of the English forces from the
Peninsula, Napoleon seemed irresistible, and now that Austria was
crushed and England stood alone in opposition to him, the Emperor
determined to put an end to the strife by a vigorous prosecution of the
war in Spain. Andalusia, the one province which remained independent,
was invaded in the opening of 1810, and with the exception of Cadiz
reduced to submission; while Marshal Massena with a fine army of eighty
thousand men marched upon Lisbon. Even Perceval abandoned all hope of
preserving a hold on the Peninsula in face of these new efforts, and
threw on Wellesley, who had been raised to the peerage as Lord
Wellington after Talavera, the responsibility of resolving to remain

[Sidenote: Torres Vedras.]

But the cool judgement and firm temper which distinguished Wellington
enabled him to face a responsibility from which weaker men would have
shrunk. "I conceive," he answered, "that the honour and interest of our
country require that we should hold our ground here as long as possible;
and, please God, I will maintain it as long as I can." By the addition
of Portuguese troops who had been trained under British officers, his
army was now raised to fifty thousand men; and though his inferiority in
force compelled him to look on while Massena reduced the frontier
fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida, he inflicted on him a heavy
check at the heights of Busaco, and finally fell back in October 1810 on
three lines of defence which he had secretly constructed at Torres
Vedras, along a chain of mountain, heights crowned with redoubts and
bristling with cannon. The position was impregnable: and able and
stubborn as Massena was he found himself forced after a month's
fruitless efforts to fall back in a masterly retreat; but so terrible
were the privations of the French army in passing again through the
wasted country that it was only with forty thousand men that he reached
Ciudad Rodrigo in the spring of 1811. Reinforced by fresh troops,
Massena turned fiercely to the relief of Almeida, which Wellington had
besieged. Two days' bloody and obstinate fighting however, in May 1811,
failed to drive the English army from its position at Fuentes d'Onore,
and the Marshal fell back on Salamanca and relinquished his effort to
drive Wellington from Portugal. But great as was the effect of Torres
Vedras in restoring the spirit of the English people, and in reviving
throughout Europe the hope of resistance to the tyranny of Napoleon, its
immediate result was little save the deliverance of Portugal. If Massena
had failed, his colleagues had succeeded in their enterprises; the
French were now masters of all Spain save Cadiz and the eastern
provinces, and even the east coast was reduced in 1811 by the vigour of
General Suchet.

[Sidenote: The Quarrel with America.]

While England thus failed to rescue Spain from the aggression of
Napoleon, she was suddenly brought face to face with the result of her
own aggression in America. The repeal of the Non-Intercourse Act in 1810
had in effect been a triumph for Britain: but the triumph forced
Napoleon's hand. As yet all he had done by his attack on neutral rights
had been to drive the United States practically to join England against
him. To revenge himself by war with them would only play England's game
yet more; and with characteristic rapidity Napoleon passed from
hostility to friendship. He seized on the offer with which America had
closed her efforts against the two combatants, and after promising to
revoke his Berlin and Milan Decrees he called on America to redeem her
pledge. In February 1811, therefore, the United States announced that
all intercourse with Great Britain and her dependencies was at an end.
The effect of this step was seen in a reduction of English exports
during this year by a third of their whole amount. It was in vain that
Britain pleaded that the Emperor's promises remained unfulfilled, that
neither of the decrees was withdrawn, that Napoleon had failed to return
the American merchandise seized under them, and that the enforcement of
non-intercourse with England was thus an unjust act, and an act of
hostility. The pressure of the American policy, as well as news of the
warlike temper which had at last grown up in the United States, made
submission inevitable; for the industrial state of England was now so
critical that to expose it to fresh shocks was to court the very ruin
which Napoleon had planned.

[Sidenote: State of England.]

During the earlier years of the war indeed the increase of wealth had
been enormous. England was sole mistress of the seas. The war gave her
possession of the colonies of Spain, of Holland, and of France; and if
her trade was checked for a time by the Berlin Decree, the efforts of
Napoleon were soon rendered fruitless by the smuggling system which
sprang up along the southern coasts and the coast of North Germany.
English exports indeed had nearly doubled since the opening of the
century. Manufactures were profiting by the discoveries of Watt and
Arkwright; and the consumption of raw cotton in the mills of Lancashire
rose during the same period from fifty to a hundred million of pounds.
The vast accumulation of capital, as well as the vast increase of the
population at this time, told upon the land, and forced agriculture into
a feverish and unhealthy prosperity. Wheat rose to famine prices, and
the value of land rose in proportion with the price of wheat. Inclosures
went on with prodigious rapidity; the income of every landowner was
doubled, while the farmers were able to introduce improvements into the
processes of agriculture which changed the whole face of the country.
But if the increase of wealth was enormous, its distribution was
partial. During the fifteen years which preceded Waterloo, the number of
the population rose from ten to thirteen millions, and this rapid
increase kept down the rate of wages, which would naturally have
advanced in a corresponding degree with the increase in the national
wealth. Even manufactures, though destined in the long run to benefit
the labouring classes, seemed at first rather to depress them; for one
of the earliest results of the introduction of machinery was the ruin of
a number of small trades which were carried on at home and the
pauperization of families who relied on them for support. In the winter
of 1811 the terrible pressure of this transition from handicraft to
machinery was seen in the Luddite, or machine-breaking, riots which
broke out over the northern and midland counties; and which were only
suppressed by military force. While labour was thus thrown out of its
older grooves, and the rate of wages kept down at an artificially low
figure by the rapid increase of population, the rise in the price of
wheat, which brought wealth to the landowner and the farmer, brought
famine and death to the poor, for England was cut off by the war from
the vast corn-fields of the Continent or of America, which nowadays
redress from their abundance the results of a bad harvest. Scarcity was
followed by a terrible pauperization of the labouring classes. The
amount of the poor-rate rose fifty per cent; and with the increase of
poverty followed its inevitable result, the increase of crime.

[Sidenote: Political Progress.]

The natural relation of trade and commerce to the general wealth of the
people at large was thus disturbed by the peculiar circumstances of the
time. The war enriched the landowner, the farmer, the merchant, the
manufacturer; but it impoverished the poor. It is indeed from these
fatal years that we must date that war of classes, that social severance
between employers and employed, which still forms the main difficulty
of English politics. But it is from these too that we must date the
renewal of that progressive movement in politics which had been
suspended since the opening of the war. The publication of the
_Edinburgh Review_ in 1802 by a knot of young lawyers at Edinburgh
marked a revival of the policy of constitutional and administrative
progress which had been reluctantly abandoned by William Pitt. Jeremy
Bentham gave a new vigour to political speculation by his advocacy of
the doctrine of Utility, and his definition of "the greatest happiness
of the greatest number" as the aim of political action. In 1809 Sir
Francis Burdett revived the question of Parliamentary Reform. Only
fifteen members supported his motion; and a reference to the House of
Commons in a pamphlet which he subsequently published, as "a part of our
fellow-subjects collected together by means which it is not necessary to
describe," was met by his committal to the Tower, where he remained till
the prorogation of the Parliament. A far greater effect was produced by
the perseverance with which Canning pressed year by year the question of
Catholic Emancipation. So long as Perceval lived both efforts at Reform
were equally vain; but the advancing strength of a more liberal
sentiment in the nation was felt by the policy of "moderate concession"
which was adopted by his successors. Catholic Emancipation became an
open question in the Cabinet itself, and was adopted in 1812 by a
triumphant majority in the House of Commons, though it was still
rejected by the Lords.

[Sidenote: War with America.]

With social and political troubles thus awaking anew to life about them,
even Tory statesmen were not willing to face the terrible consequences
of a ruin of English industry such as might follow from the junction of
America with Napoleon. They were in fact preparing to withdraw the
Orders in Council, when their plans were arrested by the dissolution of
the Perceval ministry. Its position had from the first been a weak one.
A return of the king's madness made it necessary in the beginning of
1811 to confer the Regency on the Prince of Wales; and the Whig
sympathies of the Prince threatened for a while the Cabinet with
dismissal. Though this difficulty was surmounted their hold of power
remained insecure, and the insecurity of the ministry told on the
conduct of the war; for the apparent inactivity of Wellington during
1811 was really due to the hesitation and timidity of the Cabinet at
home. But in May 1812 the assassination of Perceval by a madman named
Bellingham brought about the dissolution of his ministry; and fresh
efforts were made by the Regent to install the Whigs in office. Mutual
distrust however again foiled his attempts; and the old ministry
returned to office under the headship of Lord Liverpool, a man of no
great abilities, but temperate, well informed, and endowed with a
remarkable skill in holding discordant colleagues together. The most
important of these colleagues was Lord Castlereagh, who became Secretary
for Foreign Affairs. Time has long ago rendered justice to the political
ability of Castlereagh, disguised as it was to men of his own day by a
curious infelicity of expression; and the instinctive good sense of
Englishmen never showed itself more remarkably than in their preference
at this crisis of his cool judgement, his high courage, his discernment,
and his will to the more showy brilliancy of Canning. His first work
indeed as a minister was to meet the danger in which Canning had
involved the country by his Orders in Council. On the 23rd of June, only
twelve days after the ministry had been formed, these Orders were
repealed. But, quick as was Castlereagh's action, events had moved even
more quickly. At the opening of the year America, in despair of redress,
had resolved on war; Congress had voted an increase of both army and
navy; and laid in April an embargo on all vessels in American harbours.
Actual hostilities might still have been averted by the repeal of the
Orders, on which the English Cabinet was resolved; but in the confusion
which followed the murder of Perceval, and the strife of parties for
office through the month that followed, the opportunity was lost. When
the news of the repeal reached America, it came six weeks too late. On
the 18th of June an Act of Congress had declared America at war with
Great Britain.

[Sidenote: Napoleon and Russia.]

Had Napoleon been able to reap the fruits of the strife which his policy
had thus forced on the two English peoples, it is hard to say how
Britain could have coped with him. Cut off from her markets alike in
east and west, her industries checked and disorganized, a financial
crisis added to her social embarrassment, it may be doubted whether she
must not have bowed in the end before the pressure of the Continental
System. But if that system had thrust her into aggression and ruin, it
was as inevitably thrusting the same aggression and ruin on her rival.
The moment when America entered into the great struggle was a critical
moment in the history of mankind. Six days after President Madison
issued his declaration of war, Napoleon crossed the Niemen on his march
to Moscow. Successful as his policy had been in stirring up war between
England and America, it had been no less successful in breaking the
alliance which he had made with the Czar at Tilsit and in forcing on a
contest with Russia. On the one hand, Napoleon was irritated by the
refusal of Russia to enforce strictly the suspension of all trade with
England, though such a suspension would have ruined the Russian
landowners. On the other, Alexander saw with growing anxiety the advance
of the French Empire which sprang from Napoleon's resolve to enforce his
system by a seizure of the northern coasts. In 1811 Holland, the
Hanseatic towns, part of Westphalia, and the Duchy of Oldenburg were
successively annexed, and the Duchy of Mecklenburg threatened with
seizure. A peremptory demand on the part of France for the entire
cessation of intercourse with England brought the quarrel to a head; and
preparations were made on both sides for a gigantic struggle.

[Sidenote: Salamanca.]

Even before it opened, this new enterprise gave fresh vigour to
Napoleon's foes. The best of the French soldiers were drawn from Spain
to the frontier of Poland; and Wellington, whose army had been raised to
a force of forty thousand Englishmen and twenty thousand Portuguese,
profited by the withdrawal to throw off his system of defence and to
assume an attitude of attack. Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz were taken by
storm during the spring of 1812; and at the close of June, three days
before Napoleon crossed the Niemen, in his march on Moscow, Wellington
crossed the Agueda in a march on Salamanca. After a series of masterly
movements on both sides, Marmont with the French army of the North
attacked the English on the hills in the neighbourhood of that town on
the twenty-second of July. While he was marching round the right of the
English position his left wing remained isolated; and with a sudden
exclamation of "Marmont is lost!" Wellington flung on it the bulk of
his force, crushed it, and drove the whole army from the field. The loss
on either side was nearly equal, but failure had demoralized the French
army; and its retreat forced Joseph to leave Madrid, and Soult to
evacuate Andalusia and to concentrate the southern army on the eastern
coast. While Napoleon was still pushing slowly over the vast plains of
Poland, Wellington made his entry into Madrid in August, and began the
siege of Burgos. The town however held out gallantly for a month, till
the advance of the two French armies, now concentrated in the north and
south of Spain, forced Wellington, in October, to a hasty retreat on the
Portuguese frontier.

[Sidenote: Ruin of Napoleon.]

If Wellington had shaken the rule of the French in Spain in this
campaign, his ultimate failure showed how firm a military hold they
still possessed there. But the disappointment was forgotten in the news
which followed it. At the moment when the English troops fell back from
Burgos began the retreat of the Grand Army from Moscow. Victorious in a
battle at Borodino, Napoleon had entered the older capital of Russia in
triumph, and waited impatiently to receive proposals of peace from the
Czar. But a fire kindled by its own inhabitants reduced the city to
ashes; Alexander still remained silent; and the gathering cold bent even
the stubborn will of Napoleon to own the need of retreat. The French
were forced to fall back amidst the horrors of a Russian winter; and of
the four hundred thousand combatants who formed the Grand Army at its
first outset, only a few thousands recrossed the Niemen in December. In
spite of the gigantic efforts which Napoleon made to repair his losses,
the spell which he had cast over Europe was broken. Prussia rose against
him as the Russians crossed the Niemen in the spring of 1813; and the
forces which held it were at once thrown back on the Elbe. In this
emergency the military genius of the French Emperor rose to its height.
With a fresh army of two hundred thousand men whom he had gathered at
Mainz he marched on the allied armies of Russia and Prussia in May,
cleared Saxony by a victory over them at Lutzen, and threw them back on
the Oder by a fresh victory at Bautzen. Disheartened by defeat, and by
the neutral attitude which Austria still preserved, the two powers
consented in June to an armistice, and negotiated for peace. But
Austria, though unwilling to utterly ruin France to the profit of her
great rival in the East, was as resolute as either of the allies to
wrest from Napoleon his supremacy over Europe; and at the moment when it
became clear that Napoleon was only bent on playing with her proposals,
she was stirred to action by news that his army was at last driven from
Spain. Wellington had left Portugal in May with an army which had now
risen to ninety thousand men; and overtaking the French forces in
retreat at Vitoria on the twenty-first of June he inflicted on them a
defeat which drove them in utter rout across the Pyrenees. Madrid was at
once evacuated; and Clausel fell back from Zaragoza into France. The
victory not only freed Spain from its invaders; it restored the spirit
of the Allies. The close of the armistice was followed by a union of
Austria with the forces of Prussia and the Czar; and in October a final
overthrow of Napoleon at Leipzig forced the French army to fall back in
rout across the Rhine.

[Sidenote: His Abdication.]

The war now hurried to its close. Though held at bay for a while by the
sieges of San Sebastian and Pampeluna, as well as by an obstinate
defence of the Pyrenees, Wellington succeeded in the very month of the
triumph at Leipzig in winning a victory on the Bidassoa, which enabled
him to enter France. He was soon followed by the Allies. On the last day
of 1813 their forces crossed the Rhine; and a third of France passed,
without opposition, into their hands. For two months more Napoleon
maintained a wonderful struggle with a handful of raw conscripts against
their overwhelming numbers; while in the south, Soult, forced from his
entrenched camp near Bayonne and defeated at Orthez, fell back before
Wellington on Toulouse. Here their two armies met in April in a stubborn
and indecisive engagement. But though neither leader knew it, the war
was even then at an end. The struggle of Napoleon himself had ended at
the close of March with the surrender of Paris; and the submission of
the capital was at once followed by the abdication of the Emperor and
the return of the Bourbons.

[Sidenote: The American War.]

England's triumph over its enemy was dashed by the more doubtful
fortunes of the struggle across the Atlantic. The declaration of war by
America seemed an act of sheer madness; for its navy consisted of a few
frigates and sloops; its army was a mass of half-drilled and half-armed
recruits; while the States themselves were divided on the question of
the war, and Connecticut with Massachusetts refused to send either money
or men. Three attempts to penetrate into Canada during the summer and
autumn were repulsed with heavy loss. But these failures were more than
redeemed by unexpected successes at sea, where in two successive
engagements between English and American frigates, the former were
forced to strike their flag. The effect of these victories was out of
all proportion to their real importance; for they were the first heavy
blows which had been dealt at England's supremacy over the seas. In 1813
America followed up its naval triumphs by more vigorous efforts on land.
Its forces cleared Lake Ontario, captured Toronto, destroyed the British
flotilla on Lake Erie, and made themselves masters of Upper Canada. An
attack on Lower Canada, however, was successfully beaten back; and a
fresh advance of the British and Canadian forces in the heart of the
winter again recovered the Upper Province. The reverse gave fresh
strength to the party in the United States which had throughout been
opposed to the war, and whose opposition to it had been embittered by
the terrible distress brought about by the blockade and the ruin of
American commerce. Cries of secession began to be heard, and
Massachusetts took the bold step of appointing delegates to confer with
delegates from the other New England States "on the subject of their
grievances and common concerns."

[Sidenote: Peace in America.]

In 1814, however, the war was renewed with more vigour than ever; and
Upper Canada was again invaded. But the American army, after inflicting
a severe defeat on the British forces in the battle of Chippewa in July,
was itself defeated a few weeks after in an equally stubborn engagement,
and thrown back on its own frontier; while the fall of Napoleon enabled
the English Government to devote its whole strength to the struggle with
an enemy which it had ceased to despise. General Ross, with a force of
four thousand men, appeared in the Potomac, captured Washington, and
before evacuating the city burnt its public buildings to the ground. Few
more shameful acts are recorded in our history; and it was the more
shameful in that it was done under strict orders from the Government at
home. But the raid upon Washington was intended simply to strike terror
into the American people; and the real stress of the war was thrown on
two expeditions whose business was to penetrate into the States from the
north and from the south. Both proved utter failures. A force of nine
thousand Peninsular veterans which marched in September to the attack of
Plattsburg on Lake Champlain was forced to fall back by the defeat of
the English flotilla which accompanied it. A second force under General
Packenham appeared in December at the mouth of the Mississippi and
attacked New Orleans, but was repulsed by General Jackson with the loss
of half its numbers. Peace, however, had already been concluded. The
close of the French war, if it left untouched the grounds of the
struggle, made the United States sensible of the danger of pushing it
further; Britain herself was anxious for peace; and the warring claims,
both of England and America, were set aside in silence in the treaty of

[Sidenote: Return of Napoleon.]

The close of the war with the United States freed England's hands at a
moment when the reappearance of Napoleon at Paris called her to a new
and final struggle with France. By treaty with the Allied Powers
Napoleon had been suffered to retain a fragment of his former
empire--the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany; and from Elba he
looked on at the quarrels which sprang up between his conquerors as soon
as they gathered at Vienna to complete the settlement of Europe. The
most formidable of these quarrels arose from a claim of Prussia to annex
Saxony and that of Russia to annex Poland; but their union for this
purpose was met by a counter-league of England and Austria with their
old enemy, France, whose ambassador, Talleyrand, laboured vigorously to
bring the question to an issue by force of arms. At the moment, however,
when a war between the two leagues seemed close at hand, Napoleon landed
on the coast near Cannes, and, followed only by a thousand of his
guards, marched over the mountains of Dauphiné upon Grenoble and Lyons.
He counted, and counted justly, on the indifference of the country to
its new Bourbon rulers, on the longing of the army for a fresh struggle
which should restore its glory, and above all on the spell of his name
over soldiers whom he had so often led to victory. In twenty days from
his landing he reached the Tuileries unopposed, while Lewis the
Eighteenth fled helplessly to Ghent. But whatever hopes he had drawn
from the divisions of the Allied Powers were at once dispelled by their
resolute action on the news of his descent upon France. Their strife was
hushed and their old union restored by the consciousness of a common
danger. An engagement to supply a million of men for the purposes of the
war, and a recall of their armies to the Rhine, answered Napoleon's
efforts to open negotiations with the Powers.

England furnished subsidies to the amount of eleven millions, and
hastened to place an army on the frontier of the Netherlands. The best
troops of the force which had been employed in the Peninsula however
were still across the Atlantic; and of the eighty thousand men who
gathered round Wellington only about half were Englishmen, the rest
mainly raw levies from Belgium and Hanover. The Duke's plan was to unite
with the one hundred and fifty thousand Prussians under Marshal Blücher
who were advancing on the Lower Rhine, and to enter France by Mons and
Namur while the forces of Austria and Russia closed in upon Paris by way
of Belfort and Elsass. But Napoleon had thrown aside all thought of a
merely defensive warfare. By amazing efforts he had raised an army of
two hundred and fifty thousand men in the few months since his arrival
in Paris; and in the opening of June 1815 one hundred and twenty
thousand Frenchmen were concentrated on the Sambre at Charleroi, while
Wellington's troops still lay in cantonments on the line of the Scheldt
from Ath to Nivelles, and Blücher's on that of the Meuse from Nivelles
to Liége. Both the allied armies hastened to unite at Quatre Bras; but
their junction there was already impossible. Blücher with eighty
thousand men was himself attacked by Napoleon at Ligny, and after a
desperate contest driven back with terrible loss upon Wavre. On the
same day Ney with twenty thousand men, and an equal force under D'Erlon
in reserve, appeared before Quatre Bras, where as yet only ten thousand
English and the same force of Belgian troops had been able to assemble.
The Belgians broke before the charges of the French horse; and only the
dogged resistance of the English infantry gave time for Wellington to
bring up corps after corps, till at the close of the day Ney saw himself
heavily outnumbered, and withdrew baffled from the field.

[Sidenote: Waterloo.]

About five thousand men had fallen on either side in this fierce
engagement: but, heavy as was Wellington's loss, the firmness of the
English army had already done much to foil Napoleon's effort at breaking
through the line of the Allies. Blücher's retreat however left the
English flank uncovered; and on the following day, while the Prussians
were falling back on Wavre, Wellington, with nearly seventy thousand
men--for his army was now well in hand--withdrew in good order, followed
by the mass of the French forces under the Emperor himself. Napoleon had
detached thirty thousand men under Grouchy to hang upon the rear of the
beaten Prussians, while with a force of eighty thousand he resolved to
bring Wellington to battle. On the morning of the 18th of June the two
armies faced one another on the field of Waterloo in front of the Forest
of Soignies, on the high road to Brussels. Napoleon's one fear had been
that of a continued retreat. "I have them!" he cried, as he saw the
English line drawn up on a low rise of ground which stretched across the
high-road from the château of Hougomont on its right to the farm and
straggling village of La Haye Sainte on its left. He had some grounds
for his confidence of success. On either side the forces numbered
between seventy and eighty thousand men: but the French were superior in
guns and cavalry, and a large part of Wellington's force consisted of
Belgian levies who broke and fled at the outset of the fight. A fierce
attack upon Hougomont opened the battle at eleven; but it was not till
midday that the corps of D'Erlon advanced upon the centre near La Haye
Sainte, which from that time bore the main brunt of the struggle. Never
has greater courage, whether of attack or endurance, been shown on any
field than was shown by both combatants at Waterloo. The columns of
D'Erlon, repulsed by the English foot, were hurled back in disorder by a
charge of the Scots Greys; but the victorious horsemen were crushed in
their turn by the French cuirassiers, and the mass of the French
cavalry, twelve thousand strong, flung itself in charge after charge on
the English front, carrying the English guns and sweeping with desperate
bravery round the unbroken squares whose fire thinned their ranks. With
almost equal bravery the French columns of the centre again advanced,
wrested at last the farm of La Haye Sainte from their opponents, and
pushed on vigorously though in vain under Ney against the troops in its

But meanwhile every hour was telling against Napoleon. To win the battle
he must crush the English army before Blücher joined it; and the English
army was still uncrushed. Terrible as was his loss, and many of his
regiments were reduced to a mere handful of men, Wellington stubbornly
held his ground while the Prussians, advancing from Wavre through deep
and miry forest roads, were slowly gathering to his support,
disregarding the attack on their rear by which Grouchy strove to hold
them back from the field. At half-past four their advanced guard
deployed at last from the woods; but the main body was far behind, and
Napoleon was still able to hold his ground against them till their
increasing masses forced him to stake all on a desperate effort against
the English front. The Imperial Guard--his only reserve, and which had
as yet taken no part in the battle--was drawn up at seven in two huge
columns of attack. The first, with Ney himself at its head, swept all
before it as it mounted the rise beside La Haye Sainte, on which the
thin English line still held its ground, and all but touched the English
front when its mass, torn by the terrible fire of musketry with which it
was received, gave way before a charge. The second, three thousand
strong, advanced with the same courage over the slope near Hougomont,
only to be repulsed and shattered in its turn. At the moment when these
masses fell slowly and doggedly back down the fatal rise, the Prussians
pushed forward on Napoleon's right, their guns swept the road to
Charleroi, and Wellington seized the moment for a general advance. From
that hour all was lost. Only the Guard stood firm in the wreck of the
French army; and though darkness and exhaustion checked the English in
their pursuit of the broken troops as they hurried from the field, the
Prussian horse continued the chase through the night. Only forty
thousand Frenchmen with some thirty guns recrossed the Sambre while
Napoleon himself fled hurriedly to Paris. His second abdication was
followed by a triumphant entry of the English and Prussian armies into
the French capital; and the long war ended with his exile to St. Helena,
and the return of Lewis the Eighteenth to the throne of the Bourbons.

      *      *      *      *      *


   Reference to the Index has been removed from the
   Table of Contents.

   The word manoeuvre uses an oe ligature in the original.

   Variations in spelling have been left as in the original.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the English People, Volume VIII (of 8) - Modern England, 1760-1815" ***

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