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Again, on the night between the 18th and 19th of April, General Gage sent a detachment of about eight hundred grenadiers and light infantry to destroy a dep?t of stores and arms at Concord. They were commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, of the Marines. The alarm was given, fires were kindled, bells rung, guns discharged, and the country was up. The British troops reached Lexington at five o'clock in the morning, and pushed on their light infantry to secure the bridges. They encountered a body of militia under cover of a gun near the road, whom they ordered to retire, and they withdrew in haste.

[305] The Spaniards had at length made Lord Wellington Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish armies,[56] but this appointment was little more than nominal, for the Spanish generals continued as froward and insubordinate as ever; and the Spanish Government was poorer than ever, its remittances from the South American colonies, which were asserting their independence, being stopped. Wellington's dependence, therefore, continued to rest on his army of British and Portuguesesixty-three thousand infantry and six thousand cavalry.


Such was the state of affairs at home and abroad during the recess of 1829. The Government hoped that by the mollifying influence of time the rancour of the Tory party would be mitigated, and that by the proposal of useful measures the Whig leaders would be induced to give them their support, without being admitted to a partnership in power and the emoluments of office. But in both respects they miscalculated. The Duke met Parliament again on the 4th of February, 1830. It was obvious from the first that neither was Tory rancour appeased nor Whig support effectually secured. The Speech from the Throne, which was delivered by commission, was unusually curt and vague. It admitted the prevalence of general distress. It was true that the exports in the last year of British produce and manufacture exceeded those of any former year; but, notwithstanding this indication of an active commerce, both the agricultural and the manufacturing classes were suffering severely in "some parts" of the United Kingdom. There was no question about the existence of distress; the only difference was as to whether it was general or only partial. In the House of Lords the Government was attacked by Earl Stanhope, who moved an amendment to the Address. He asked in what part of the country was it that the Ministers did not find distress prevailing? He contended that the kingdom was in a state of universal distress, likely to be unequalled in its duration. All the great interestsagriculture, manufactures, trade, and commercehad never at one time, he said, been at so low an ebb. The Speech ascribed the distress to a bad harvest. But could a bad harvest make corn cheap? It was the excessive reduction of prices which was felt to be the great evil. If they cast their eyes around they would see the counties pouring on them spontaneously every kind of solicitation for relief; while in towns, stocks of every kind had sunk in value forty per cent. The depression, he contended, had been continuous and universal ever since the Bank Restriction Act passed, and especially since the suppression of small notes took effect in the beginning of the previous year. Such a universal and continued depression could be ascribed only to some cause pressing alike upon all branches of industry, and that cause was to be found in the enormous contraction of the currency, the Bank of England notes in circulation having been reduced from thirty to twenty millions, and the country bankers' notes in still greater proportion. The Duke of Wellington, in reply, denied that the Bank circulation was less than it had been during the war. In the former period it was sixty-four millions, including gold and silver as well as paper. In 1830 it was sixty-five millions. It was an unlimited circulation, he said, that the Opposition required; in other words, it was wished to give certain individuals, not the Crown, the power of coining in the shape of paper, and of producing a fictitious capital. Capital was always forthcoming[308] when it was wanted. He referred to the high rents paid for shops in towns, which were everywhere enlarged or improved, to "the elegant streets and villas which were springing up around the metropolis, and all our great towns, to show that the country was not falling, but improving." After the Duke had replied, the supporters of the amendment could not muster, on a division, a larger minority than nine. In the House of Commons the discussion was more spirited, and the division more ominous of the fate of the Ministry. The majority for Ministers was only fifty-three, the numbers being 158 to 105. In the minority were found ultra-Tories, such as Sir Edward Knatchbull, who had proposed an amendment lamenting the general distress, Mr. Bankes, Mr. Sadler, and General Gascoigne, who went into the same lobby with Sir Francis Burdett, Lord John Russell, Mr. Brougham, Mr. Hume, and Lord Althorp, representing the Whigs and Radicals; while Lord Palmerston, Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Charles Grant, and Sir Stratford Canning represented the Canning party. No such jumble of factions had been known in any division for many years.

The rapid growth of the commerce of the American colonies excited an intense jealousy[166] in our West Indian Islands, which claimed a monopoly of supply of sugar, rum, molasses, and other articles to all the British possessions. The Americans trading with the French, Dutch, Spaniards, etc., took these articles in return; but the West Indian proprietors prevailed upon the British Government, in 1733, to impose a duty on the import of any produce of foreign plantations into the American colonies, besides granting a drawback on the re-exportation of West Indian sugar from Great Britain. This was one of the first pieces of legislation of which the American colonies had a just right to complain. At this period our West Indies produced about 85,000 hogsheads of sugar, or 1,200,000 cwts. About three hundred sail were employed in the trade with these islands, and some 4,500 sailors; the value of British manufactures exported thither being nearly 240,000 annually, but our imports from Jamaica alone averaged at that time 539,492. Besides rum, sugar, and molasses, we received from the West Indies cotton, indigo, ginger, pimento, cocoa, coffee, etc.

William IV. then sent for the veteran Grey, who formed a Ministry with unusual ease, chiefly of the Whig and Canningite elements. His chief difficulty was how to dispose of the volatile Brougham. The king had no objection to accept him as one of the Ministers, and Brougham himself wished to be Master of the Rolls, assuming that Sir John Leech was to become Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with a peerage, and that Mr. Plunket was to be Lord Chancellor of England. To this arrangement, however, the king and Lord Grey peremptorily objected. Brougham was then offered the Attorney-Generalship, which he calmly refused, upon which Lord Grey declared that his hopes of being able to form an Administration were at an end, and he waited on his Majesty for the purpose of communicating to him the failure of his negotiations. "Why so?" inquired the king. "Why not make him Chancellor? Have you thought of that?" The answer was, "No; your Majesty's objection to the one appointment seemed to preclude the other." "Not at all, not at all," replied the king; and the reasons for one appointment and against the other were very clearly stated by his Majesty, namely, that Brougham as Master of the Rolls and member for Yorkshire would be far too powerful. Mr. Brougham was left in the dark for some time about the intentions of Lord Grey, for on the 17th of November he said he had nothing to do with the Administration, except in the respect he bore them, and as a member of the House. On the 19th he presented petitions, and spoke on them in the Commons, without intimating any change of position. Hence it may easily be supposed that he surprised the world, as well as his friends, by suddenly appearing on November the 22nd in the House of Lords as Lord Chancellor of England. This was certainly a high office to which he was elevated, and for which the exigencies of party made him necessary; but, in accepting it, he sacrificed a great position which seemed to gratify all the desires of intellectual ambition; and, in order to induce his compliance, Lord Grey was obliged to appeal to his generous sympathies, his public spirit, and his devotion to his party. Lord Brougham and Vaux became, said a wag, "Vaux et praeterea nihil."

This letter, though marked "private and confidential," was, like the Duke's letter to the same prelate, made public, and became the subject of comment in the Association and in the press, which tended still more to embarrass the question by irritating the king and the Duke, and furnishing exciting topics to the enemies of the Catholic cause. The Marquis of Anglesey, indeed, from the time he went to Ireland, held the strongest language to the Government as to the necessity of carrying the measure. At a subsequent period he expressed a wish that his opinions should be made fully known to the king and his Ministers, because they could then better judge of his fitness for carrying into effect the measures they might decide upon adopting. On the 31st of July he wrote:"I will exert myself to keep the country quiet, and put down rebellion under any circumstances; but I will not consent to govern this country much longer under the existing law."

The Lords Justices having met, appointed Joseph Addison, afterwards so celebrated as a writer, and even now very popular, as their secretary, and ordered all despatches addressed to Bolingbroke to be brought to him. This was an intimation that Bolingbroke would be dismissed; and that proud Minister, instead of giving orders, was obliged to receive them, and to wait at the door of the Council-chamber with his bags and papers. As the Lords Justices were apprehending that there might be some disturbances in Ireland, they were about to send over Sunderland as Lord-Lieutenant, and General Stanhope as Commander-in-Chief; but they were speedily relieved of their fears by the intelligence that all had passed off quietly there; that the Lords Justices of Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh, and Sir Constantine Phipps, who had been more than suspected of Jacobitism, had proclaimed the king on the 6th of August, and, to give evidence of their new zeal, had issued a proclamation for disarming Papists and seizing their horses. The proclamation of George passed with the same quietness in Scotland, and no king, had he been born a native, in the quietest times, could have succeeded to the throne more smoothly. Eighteen lords, chiefly Whigs, were nominated by the new king to act as a Council of Regency, pending his arrival, and the Civil List was voted by Parliament.

On the 19th of October the French attacked the duke with sixty thousand men, and though his little army fought with its usual dogged bravery it was compelled to give way. It did this, however, only to assume a fresh position, still covering Nimeguen, where, on the 27th, the French again attacked it, and compelled it to retire from the contest. The duke led the wreck of his army across the Waal and the Rhine, and posted himself at Arnhem in Guelderland, to throw some impediment in the path of Pichegru, who was advancing, at the command of the Convention, to reduce Holland. Nimeguen, full of Dutch traitors, soon opened its gates; Maestricht did the same to Kleber; and at the end of the campaign the gloomiest prospects hung over Holland.

But long before thisas early, indeed, as the 15th of Aprilnews had reached London of the death of the erratic Emperor Paul, and of the bombardment of Copenhagen by the British fleet. Paul had been won over by Buonaparte to his views, and had been flattered by him by being electedthough irregularly and illegallyGrand-Master of the Knights of Malta. He had been persuaded that the conquest of Malta by the British was an invasion of his rights, and by these and other flatteries Buonaparte had influenced his weak mind to become the agent of his plans in destroying the British ships in the Baltic, and in closing that sea to British commerce. Paul pretended that we had captured Danish convoys, these same convoys being engaged in guarding vessels loaded with materials of war for France, and that thus the independence of the North was menaced by us. On this ground, and on that of the invasion of Malta, he immediately laid an embargo on all British vessels in Russian ports, and as two vessels in the harbour of Narva resisted the attempts to seize them, in consequence of the embargo, he ordered all the British vessels in that port to be burned. In consequence of this sudden and unwarrantable order, contrary to all the laws of nations, about three hundred British vessels were seized, and the officers and crews dragged on shore, put into irons, and sent up the country under menaces of Siberia. Paul next ordered all property of Englishmen in Russia to be seized and sold. Denmarkwith whom we had various rencontres, on account of its men-of-war convoying vessels laden with stores for French portssoon joined Russia. We sent Lord Whitworth to Copenhagen to endeavour to come to some understanding on these matters in 1800, but though a convention was signed, it was not satisfactory. Sweden followed the example of Denmark, and the three Northern Powers entered into a treaty of armed neutrality to resist our search of their vessels in any circumstances. As the consequence of this policy would be to shut us out of all trade with the ports of the Baltic, it was resolved to send a fleet to chastise these Powers and break up their co-operation with France. Mr. Vansittart was despatched to Copenhagen, accompanied by a fleet of eighteen sail of the line, with several frigates and smaller vessels, under command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with Vice-Admiral Nelson as second. The fleet left the Yarmouth Roads on the 12th of March, 1801, and arriving at the mouth of the Sound, Nelson recommended that they should sail directly up to Copenhagen, and be prepared, on the refusal of our proposals, to bombard the place, as this would not allow them time to get ready their batteries, and thus do all the more damage to our ships and men. But this was deemed too offensive before any attempt at negotiation, and accordingly Mr. Vansittart was sent forward in a frigate with a flag of truce, leaving the fleet at the Scaw. He returned without effecting anything more than what Nelson anticipated. Sir Hyde Parker wasted time in making[481] the needless inquiry by a flag of truce of the Governor of Elsinore, whether the passage of the Sound would be disputed, who replied that it would. It was then proposed to enter by the Belt. Nelson said:"Let it be by the Sound, or the Belt, or anyhowonly don't let us lose an hour."