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Napoleon, seeing that Bernadotte was become King of Sweden contrary to his secret will and to his expectations, determined, however, that he should still serve him. He gave him no respite. He demanded incessantly, and with his usual impetuosity, that Bernadotte should declare war against Great Britain and shut out of the Baltic both British and American merchandise. Alexander regarded him first with suspicion but his spies soon dissipated his fears. They soon perceived that Bernadotte was not disposed to be at once master of a powerful kingdom and the vassal of France. Alexander made offers of friendship; they were accepted by Bernadotte with real or affected pleasure, and his course became clearer. For the next two years there was a great strife to secure the alliance of the Crown Prince; and the proud, disdainful, imperious temper of Napoleon, who could not brook that one who had been created by him out of nothing but a sergeant of marines should presume to exercise an independent will, threw the prize into the hands of the more astute Russian, and decided the fate of Europe and of himself.The following is the general result of the Reform Acts upon the constitution of the Imperial Parliament:—In England the county constituencies, formerly 52, returning 94 members, were increased to 82, returning 159 members. The borough members were 341, giving a total of 500 for England. In Ireland the number of the constituencies remained the same, but five members were added, making the total number 105, representing 32 counties and 41 boroughs including the University of Dublin. A second member was given to each of the following:—Limerick, Waterford, Belfast, Galway, and Dublin University. The proportion of counties and boroughs in Scotland was 30 and 23, giving a total of 53. All the counties of the United Kingdom returned 253 members, all the boroughs 405, the total number constituting the House of Commons being 658.

A revolution of a similar character took place in France within a month of the fall of Ripperda in Spain. The Duke of Bourbon had exhibited a gross incapacity for governing France under the young king. He was replaced by Cardinal Fleury, whose pacific designs harmonised with those of Walpole. Thus Fleury's accession to power only strengthened the English alliance with France. As for Spain, notwithstanding the fall of Ripperda, Philip continued the same course of policy—clinging firmly to the Emperor, and employing Palm, the envoy of the Emperor in London, through bribery to the Duchess of Kendal and the king's Hanoverian Ministers, Bothmar and the rest, who were averse from the Treaty of Hanover, as in their estimation too exclusively calculated for British interests. They even produced a strong feeling of this kind in the mind of George, and they managed to detach the King of Prussia from the British alliance. On the other hand, Sweden was won over, by British gold and diplomacy, from Russian interests. The Dutch also, with their usual slowness, came into the Hanover Treaty. Several British fleets were at sea during the summer, watching the different points of possible attack. One under Admiral Wager sailed to the Baltic to overawe the Russians, which it did effectually. Admiral Jennings, with another squadron, having on board some land troops, scoured the coasts of Spain, kept the Spaniards in constant alarm, and returned home safe before winter. A third fleet, under Admiral Hosier, was not so fortunate. He was ordered to sail to the West Indies, and the shores of the Spanish Main, to obstruct or capture the galleons; but he was attacked off Porto Bello by the yellow fever, and lost a great number of his men.On assembling his remnant of an army in Brelowa, Buonaparte beheld a state of general disorganisation prevailing. Perishing with cold and hunger, every man was only mindful of himself. In a short time the whole village was pulled down to make camp-fires of the timber, for the weather was fiercely cold. He could scarcely prevent them from stripping off the roof under which he had taken shelter. He set out on his march for Wilna on the 29th of November. The army hurried along without order or discipline, their only care being to outstrip the Russians, who were, like famished wolves, at their heels; the Cossacks continually cutting down numbers of their benumbed and ragged comrades, who went along more like spectres than actual men. The thermometer was at twenty degrees below zero.

There was still a fair chance for the Austrians—Britain had furnished them with money—and two fresh armies were descending from the hills. One of these, amounting to thirty thousand, was led by a brave officer, General Alvinzi; the other of twenty thousand, under Davidowich, was marching from the Tyrol to meet Alvinzi near Verona, who was coming from Carinthia by Belluno. Buonaparte did not allow them to meet. He attacked Alvinzi on the 6th of November, and met with a terrible repulse. A detachment of French under Vaubois had been dispatched to impede the march of Davidowich, but was also in retreat. Buonaparte again attacked Alvinzi near Verona, and again was repulsed. Had the Austrians united their two new armies before entering Italy, or had Wurmser marched from Mantua to support Alvinzi, the French must have been utterly annihilated. As it was, Napoleon was dreadfully disheartened, and wrote a despairing letter to the Directory, saying his best officers were killed, and his men exhausted from fighting and severe marches. But his pride and dogged pertinacity came to his aid. He made a rapid march and got into the rear of Alvinzi, but found himself stopped by a narrow bridge over the Alpone at Arcole. The country on each side was a marsh, and the only approach to the bridge was by long narrow causeways. As the French advanced along the causeway on their side to storm the bridge, they were swept down by hundreds by the Austrian cannon. Time after time, Buonaparte drove his columns along the causeway, but only to see them mown down by grape shot. His men fled into the very marshes to save themselves, and he himself was thrown from his horse into the marsh, and had to be dragged from the mire. Bodies of Hungarians and Croats made a final sally along the causeway, cutting down all before them, and it was marvellous that he escaped them. By this time Alvinzi had brought up his main body to the neighbourhood of the bridge, and the battle raged obstinately there for three days. Seeing it impossible to carry the bridge against that solid mass of troops, Buonaparte dispatched General Guyeuse to cross the Adige at the ferry of Albaredo, below the confluence of the Alpone, and take Alvinzi in flank. Guyeuse succeeded in crossing, but was repulsed on the other side by the Austrians. Buonaparte again, on the 16th, made one more desperate rush at the bridge, but only to receive another bloody defeat. The next day he threw a bridge over the Alpone, just above its confluence with the Adige, and sent over Augereau with a powerful force, whilst he again assailed the bridge from his side. These combined operations succeeded. Alvinzi was compelled to retreat to Vicenza and Bassano. Scarcely had he given way, when Davidowich, who ought to have joined him long before, came down the right bank of the stream. He now came only to experience a severe defeat, whereas his timely arrival might have insured a complete victory. He again had recourse to the security of the hills. The belligerents then went into winter quarters, leaving the French victorious.Meanwhile in Ireland, where Lord Anglesey had been succeeded by Lord Wellesley and Mr. Stanley by Mr. Littleton, O'Connell was openly agitating for a Repeal of the union. His conduct was much resented by Lord Grey's followers, and at a meeting at Hull Mr. M. D. Hill challenged the good faith of the Irish party, and declared that an Irish member, who spoke with great violence against the Coercion Bill, had secretly urged the Ministers to force it through in its integrity. O'Connell brought the statement before the House early in the Session, when it was unnecessarily confirmed by Lord Althorp, who said that he had good reason to believe it to be true. After a violent scene, he further admitted that Sheil was one of the members to whom he referred. Mr. Sheil denied the imputation so passionately that, on the motion of Sir F. Burdett, both he and Lord Althorp were taken into custody by the Serjeant-at-Arms. They were released on submitting to the authority of the House, and a committee, after examining into the matter and collecting no evidence of value, were glad to avail themselves of an apology tendered by Hill and to bring the incident to a close.

The king left Scotland on the 29th, taking a route different from that by which he entered. On his way to the place of embarkation he visited the Earl of Hopetoun, at whose house he conferred the honour of knighthood on Mr. Raeburn, the celebrated portrait-painter. At Queensferry the country people assembled to testify their loyalty with a last look and a parting cheer. The roar of cannon from all the surrounding hills, and the shouts of the multitude, greeted him on his embarkation at Port Edgar. The royal squadron arrived safely on the 1st of September at Greenwich, where he was cordially welcomed home.

The forces on which the Ameers relied numbered about 20,000 men, who had retired to a great stronghold, eight days' journey distant, in the dreary desert of Beloochistan. Thither, notwithstanding the difficulties of the march, Sir Charles Napier boldly determined to pursue them. The wells being all dry, water for the troops and their horses had to be carried on camels' backs. With 360 men of the Queen's Regiment, mounted on camels, and 200 irregular cavalry, followed by ten camels bearing provisions, and eighty loaded with water, the adventurous general directed his perilous course into the desert, commencing his march on the 5th of January, 1843. After three or four days' march over burning sands, the camels became too weak to draw the howitzers. Their place was supplied, or their failing strength aided, by the hardy and indomitable Irishmen who formed part of the expedition. "At length, on the evening of the 14th, the square tower of Emaum-Ghur was discerned, rising on the distant horizon in solitary grandeur, in that profound solitude." They found the place deserted; Mahommed Khan, the governor, having retired with his treasure the day before, leaving an immense quantity of ammunition behind. With this the fortress was blown up. No fewer than twenty-four mines were run under it in different parts. As Major Warburton, the engineer, was applying his fusee to the last one, his assistant cried, "The other mines are going to burst." "That may be," he replied; "but this must burst also." He then set fire to the fusee with his own hand, and quietly walked away. In a few minutes the stronghold of the Beloochees was blown into fragments. They had another, of equal strength, farther on in the desert; but to attack that with the forces now at his command was an impossibility; and so Sir Charles Napier returned, and rejoined his main army near Hyderabad, having sent Outram to negotiate the details of the treaty.[See larger version]

One great cause of this progress was the growth of our colonies. They began now to demand a considerable quantity of our manufactures and other articles of domestic comfort and convenience, and to supply us with a number of items of raw material. Towards the end of the reign of George I. our American colonies, besides the number of convicts that we sent thither, especially to Virginia and Maryland, attracted[165] a considerable emigration of free persons, particularly to Pennsylvania, in consequence of the freedom of its constitution as founded by Penn, and the freedom for the exercise of religion.

[152]In September Commodore Sir Samuel Hood captured five frigates, which issued from Rochefort, laden with troops, stores, arms, and ammunition for the French forts in the West Indies. But the most daring feats of bravery were performed by Captain Lord Cochrane, afterwards Lord Dundonald. Early in this year he sent a number of boats up the Gironde, not far from Bordeaux, to endeavour to seize two large brig corvettes, the nearest of which lay twenty miles up the river, protected by two heavy land batteries. The sailors successfully brought away the first vessel, having only three men wounded in the affair; the other corvette lay much higher up the river, but, hearing the firing, it fell down to the assistance of its companion vessel; but the British seamen beat it back, and carried away their prize in the face of crowds of armed militia, and greater crowds of people along the shores. Whilst this daring action was in progress Lord Cochrane was not idle. He attacked with his single frigate one sixteen-gun and two twenty-gun corvettes, and drove them on shore. He then proceeded to Aix, to reconnoitre a strong fleet anchored in the roads, under cover of strong batteries. His little frigate, the Pallas, a twelve-pounder of thirty-two guns, was attacked by a forty-four-gun frigate and three big corvettes, but they were compelled to retire without driving him from his station. He then landed part of the crew of the Pallas, who destroyed some signal-posts which gave notice of all the movements of the British cruisers. One of these signal-posts was defended, but in vain, by a hundred French militia. He next attacked a battery of three thirty-six pounders, and a garrison of fifty men, spiked the guns, blew up the magazine, and flung the shot and shells into the sea. The frigate Minerva, of forty-four guns, and three corvettes, then ran out of harbour with studding-sails and royals set, and commenced a simultaneous attack on the Pallas; but Cochrane soon reduced the Minerva almost to a wreck, and was on the point of boarding her when two other frigates hastened to her aid, and the Pallas, considerably damaged herself, was obliged to haul off. Such were the audacious doings of the British men-of-war in every quarter of the world, and in these Lord Cochrane stood always conspicuous for his unparalleled daring and adroitness.

And he celebrates the compass in equally imposing heroics—The spirit of gambling thus set going by Government itself soon surpassed all bounds, and burst forth in a thousand shapes. It was well known that the king, his mistresses, his courtiers, his son and heir apparent, were all dabbling busily in the muddy waters of this huge pool of trickery and corruption. A thousand other schemes were invented and made public to draw in fresh gudgeons, and the Prince of Wales allowed his name to stand as governor of a Welsh Copper Company. All ranks and classes rushed to Change Alley—dukes, lords, country squires, bishops, clergy (both Established and Dissenting), were mixed up with stockjobbers and brokers in eager traffic. Ladies of all ranks mingled in the throng, struggling through the press and straining their voices to be heard amid the hubbub. There and all over the kingdom were advertised and hawked about the following and other schemes:—Wrecks to be fished for on the Irish coast; plans for making of oil from sunflower seeds; for extracting of silver from lead; for the transmuting of quicksilver into a malleable and fine metal; for importing a number of large jackasses from Spain; for a wheel for perpetual motion; and, finally, for an undertaking which shall in due time be revealed!

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CHAPTER XVI. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).

It was high time that some measures were taken for preventing clandestine marriages. Nothing could be so loose as the marriage laws, or so scandalous as the practice regarding marriages at this date. No previous public notice or publication of banns was hitherto required, nor was any license requisite. Any clergyman, though of the most infamous character, could perform the ceremony at any time or place, without consent of parents or guardians. The consequence was, that the strangest and most scandalous unions took place, for which there was no remedy, and the results of which were lives of misery and disgrace. The merest children were inveigled into such connections, and the heirs of noble estates were thus entrapped into the most repulsive alliances, and made the victims of the most rapacious and unprincipled of mankind. The Fleet Prison, where were many ruined parsons—ruined by their crimes and low habits—was a grand mart for such marriages. A fellow of the name of Keith had[116] acquired great pre-eminence in this line. He used to marry, on an average, six thousand couples every year; and on the news of this Bill, which would stop his trade, he vowed vengeance on the bishops, declaring that he would buy a piece of ground and out-bury them all!

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