The war was scarcely begun when it was discovered that we had proclaimed hostilities much before we were prepared to carry them out. Our ships were badly manned, and therefore slow to put to sea, and the more alert Spaniards were busy picking up our merchant vessels. Not they only, but the French, Dutch, and other nations who had hoisted Spanish colours, were making wide devastation amongst our trading vessels. Walpole was compelled to issue letters of marque and licences to swarms of privateers, which issued forth to make reprisals. The Lords of the Admiralty, on the 1st of February, 1740, had ordered an embargo on all shipping except coasters, so as at once to keep them out of reach of the enemy, and to induce seamen to enter the navy; but on the 28th of March a petition from merchants and owners of shipping was presented, complaining of the hardships and the destruction of trade by it. The Lords of the Admiralty contended that such had been the complaints of injuries done at sea to our traders, that they had been compelled to impose the embargo in the absence of sufficient hands for men-of-war. They now took the embargo off foreign ships, and gave notice to English owners that they would take it off altogether, on condition that the owners and masters of vessels would enter into an engagement to furnish a certain number of men to the navy in proportion to the number of hands in each trader. This also was denounced as a most oppressive measure, and the Opposition represented it as intended to make the mercantile community sick of the war. Driven, however, to extremities, Ministers would not listen to these arguments; a motion was carried sanctioning this plan, and then the merchants came into it.
Sir Arthur was anxious to engage and defeat Victor before he was joined by the forces of Joseph from Madrid, and of Sebastiani from La Mancha. He therefore dispatched Sir Robert Wilson, at the head of a considerable body of Spanish and Portuguese troops, on the way towards Madrid; and Sir Robert executed this duty with so much promptitude and address that he threw himself into the rear of Victor at Escalona, only eight leagues from the capital. On the 22nd of July the united armies of Britain and Portugal attacked Victor's outposts at Talavera, and drove them in. The stupid old Cuesta was nowhere to be seen; and the next day, the 23rd, when the British were again in position, ready to attack the French, the day was lost, because Cuesta said he would not fight on a Sunday. This tried Sir Arthur's patience past endurance, for every moment was precious, and he wrote on the occasion—"I find General Cuesta more and more impracticable every day. It is impossible to do business with him, and very uncertain that any operation will succeed in which he has any concern. He has quarrelled with some of his principal officers, and I understand they are all dissatisfied with him." The opportunity of beating Victor was thus lost. At midnight he quitted Talavera, and retreated to Santa Olalla, and thence towards Torrijos, to form a junction with Sebastiani. The next morning Wellesley took possession of Talavera, but he could not pursue the enemy, for he says, "he found it impossible to procure a single mule or a cart in Spain." Neither could he procure food for his army. He says his troops had actually been two days in want of provisions, though Cuesta's camp abounded with them. He declared that, under such treatment by those that he had come to save, he would return to Portugal before his army was ruined. On this, Cuesta became as wildly and madly active as he had been before stubbornly passive. He dashed forward after Victor alone, never stopping till he ran against the rear of the united army of Victor and Sebastiani, at Torrijos. Wellesley was quite sure what the result would be, and in a few days Cuesta came flying back with a confused mass of men, bullocks, flocks of sheep, baggage waggons, and artillery, beaten and pursued by the enemy.The new Premier, however, was resolute, and persevered with his arrangements. He found an excellent successor to Lord Eldon, as Chancellor, in Sir John Copley, the Master of the Rolls, who was created Lord Lyndhurst. Mr. Peel, as Home Secretary, was succeeded by Mr. Sturges Bourne, who retired after a few weeks to make way for the Marquis of Lansdowne. He represented a section of the Whigs, prominent among whom were Brougham, Tierney and Burdett, who gave their support to the Ministry. The Duke of Clarence succeeded Lord Melville as First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Marquis of Anglesey the Duke of Wellington as Master-General of the Ordnance. Viscount Palmerston was appointed the Secretary at War, with which office he commenced his long, brilliant, and popular career as a Cabinet Minister. The new Master of the Rolls was Sir John Leech, the Attorney-General Sir James Scarlett, and the Solicitor-General Sir N. Tindal. Mr. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, succeeded Mr. Goulburn as Chief Secretary of Ireland.
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The British losses in the battle of Moodkee were very heavy—215 killed; among whom were Sir Robert Sale, Sir John M'Caskill, and a number of young officers who had greatly distinguished themselves. The wounded amounted to 657. Meanwhile, the enemy, having left seventeen guns upon the field, retired in tolerably good order, within their entrenched camp, which they had formed at Ferozeshah, on the banks of the Sutlej, near Ferozepore. For two days both armies remained inactive, but ready to renew the conflict. The losses of the British had been made up by the arrival of the 29th Queen's and the 1st Bengal Light Infantry. A memorable event in the history of British warfare in India, was that Sir Henry Hardinge, the veteran commander, the hero of so many battles, the Governor-General of India, offered his services to Sir Hugh Gough as second in command. The offer was accepted, and the army marched forth to attack the enemy's camp. They started at daybreak on the 21st, and about midday a junction was effected with General Littler's division, which had marched out from Ferozepore, according to orders sent the night before. The British army was now raised to 19,000 effective men. The enemy were double that number, strongly entrenched, well provisioned, and fresh after two days' rest; while our troops were ill provided with food, and had marched ten miles that morning. To attack the Sikhs without waiting for some expected reinforcements was hazardous; to postpone the attack for another day seemed still more so—as there was a second Sikh army of equal force, which would then have reached the scene of action. An immediate attack was therefore determined upon—Gough leading the right wing, and Hardinge the left. The Sikh artillery was heavier than the British. The guns were protected behind embrasures, the gunners were sure in their aim; and so terrible was the effect that the 62nd Regiment, which led on the attack, was nearly cut away, and several Sepoy regiments broke and fled. The whole of the left wing, though led on gallantly by the Governor-General, were driven back, after carrying part of the works. The right wing, under General Gough, succeeded better, and held possession of several of the ramparts. But the Sikhs were still in possession of the fortified village of Ferozeshah, and remained so till night closed upon the scene; when the smoke and dust subsided, and the silence was broken only by an occasional shot from the guns, responded to in the darkness—the gunners seeing no enemy, but aiming at the flash of light.
The formidable organisation of the Roman Catholics led to a counter organisation of the Protestants, in the form of Brunswick Clubs. This organisation embraced the whole of the Protestant peasantry, north and south, the Protestant farmers, and many of the gentry. They, too, held their regular meetings, had their exciting oratory, and passed strong resolutions, condemnatory of the inaction of the Government, which was charged with neglecting its first and most imperative duty—the protection of society from lawless violence. The Brunswickers, as well as the Emancipators, had their "rent" to bear the expenses of the agitation. They alleged that they were obliged to organise in self-defence, and in defence of the Constitution. In Ulster the country was divided into two camps, Catholic and Protestant. Notwithstanding the difference in numbers, the Protestants of Ulster were eager to encounter their antagonists in the field, and had not the slightest doubt of being able to beat them. They had all the proud confidence of a dominant race, and regarded the military pretensions of their antagonists as scornfully as the Turks would have regarded similar pretensions on the part of the Greeks. The feeling on both sides was such, that an aggression upon the Protestants in the south would have called forth 100,000 armed men in the north; and an aggression upon the Catholics in Ulster would have produced a similar effect among the Catholics in Munster. The number of Protestants in favour of Emancipation constituted but a small minority. The great mass were against concession. They believed that an insurrection would be the most satisfactory solution of the difficulty. With the aid of the army they felt that they were able to crush the "Papists," as they had been crushed in 1798, and then they hoped they would be quiet for at least another generation, resuming what they considered their proper position as "sole-leather." They forgot, however, the increase in their numbers, their property, and their intelligence. They forgot the growth of a middle class amongst them; the increased power and influence of the hierarchy, and the formidable band of agitators supplied by the Roman Catholic bar, whose members, many of them men of commanding abilities and large practice, were excluded by their creed from the Bench; which exclusion filled the minds of the ambitious with a burning sense of wrong, and made it their interest to devise all possible modes of evading the law, while keeping the country on the verge of insurrection.In North America matters were still more unprosperous. Lord Loudon had raised twelve thousand men for the purpose of taking Louisburg and driving the French from our frontiers; but he did nothing, not even preventing the attack of Marshal Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada, on Fort William Henry, which he destroyed, thus leaving unprotected the position of New York. At the same time, Admiral Holbourne, who was to have attacked the French squadron off Louisburg, did not venture to do it, because he said they had eighteen ships to his seventeen, and a greater weight of metal.
The Government determined to make the most formidable preparations for the preservation of the peace, and for putting down a riot, should it occur. Troops were seen directing their march from all quarters to the metropolis, and there was not a village in the vicinity which did not display the plumed helmet. George IV., always excessively fond of show and pomp, was resolved that the ceremonial of his coronation should outshine anything in history. The nation entered into the spirit of the occasion, and the metropolis was full of excitement. As early as one o'clock on the morning of the 19th of July, Westminster, the scene of this magnificent pageant, presented a dazzling spectacle. Even at that early hour, those who were fortunate enough to obtain places were proceeding to occupy them. From Charing Cross two streams of carriages extended, one to the Abbey and the other to Westminster Hall. The streets were crowded with foot passengers eager to secure seats on the platforms erected along the way, or some standing-place. All distinctions of rank were lost in the throng of eager expectants; judges, bishops, peers, commanders, wealthy citizens, richly dressed ladies, all mingled in the moving masses that converged towards the great centre of attraction.
[See larger version]The Covent Garden meeting became thenceforth an annual feature in the political events of the metropolis, and the effects of this movement in the chief city of the kingdom were seen in the election of Mr. Pattison, the Free Trade candidate, for the City of London. Another sign of the times was the accession to the ranks of the Anti-Corn-Law League of Mr. Samuel Jones Loyd, the wealthy banker, a conspicuous City man, and a great authority on financial matters. This gentleman addressed a letter to the council of the League in October, 1844, in which, after mentioning his reluctance to join a public body, for whose acts he could not be responsible, he said, "The time is now arrived when this must be overruled by other considerations of overwhelming importance. The great question of Free Trade is now fairly at issue, and the bold, manly, and effectual efforts which have been made by the League in its support command at once my admiration and my concurrence." Still more remarkable was the progress of the League in its scheme of converting the agriculturists themselves to their views. The truths which they had always maintained—that the tenant farmer had no real interest in maintaining the Corn Laws, the agricultural labourer, if possible, less, and that even the landed proprietor, on a far-seeing view of his interest, would be on the same side as themselves—were based upon arguments easily understood by calm reasoners, and were even beginning to make way with these classes themselves. Not a few great landowners and noblemen had openly classed themselves among their supporters. Foremost among these was Earl Fitzwilliam, who was one of the most effective speakers at Anti-Corn-Law meetings by the side of Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright. Among the noblemen openly supporting their cause were the Marquis of Westminster, Lord Kinnaird, Earl Ducie, the Earl of Radnor, Lord Morpeth, and Earl Spencer.
THE MOB OF SPENCEANS SUMMONING THE TOWER OF LONDON. (See p. 121.)In 1783 the English carriage-builders, who had before been considered inferior in elegance to the French makers, began to receive large orders from Paris itself. In 1759 Walter Taylor and son introduced machinery for cutting blocks, sheaves, and pins for ships. Saw-mills were also introduced into Great Britain, in 1767, by Mr. Dingley, of Limehouse."Royal Highness,—A victim to the factions which distract my country, and to the enmity of the greatest Powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career, and I come, like Themistocles, to throw myself on the hospitality of the British people. I put myself under the protection of their laws, which I claim from your Royal Highness, as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies.
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