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    The effect of the American war, so extremely unsatisfactory to the nation, had now perceptibly reduced the influence of Lord North and his Ministry. Their majorities, which had formerly been four to one, had now fallen to less than two to one; and this process was going rapidly on. The changes in the Cabinet had been considerable, but they had not contributed to reinvigorate it. The removal of Thurlow to the House of Lords had left nobody equal to him in the Commons to contend with such men as Fox, Burke, Barr, and the several others. Wedderburn had taken Thurlow's place as Attorney-General, and Wallace had stepped into Wedderburn's as Solicitor-General. Lord Weymouth, who had held the posts of Secretary of State for the North and South Departments since the death of the Earl of Suffolk, now resigned, and Lord Hillsborough was appointed to the Southern Department, and Lord Stormont to the Northern Department. Neither of these changes was popular. The Duke of Bedford's party had become more and more cool towards Lord North, and in every respect there was a declining power in the Cabinet. It was at variance with itself, and was fast losing the confidence of the public. Lord George Germaine was still retained by the king as Secretary of the Colonies, notwithstanding the disgust he had excited by the unfortunate planning of the expedition of Burgoyne.The conduct of the trades unions excited a great deal of angry feeling amongst the wealthier classes; and the Government were vehemently condemned for not putting down the combination with a strong hand. It was said that the mischief they created was well known; that though their interference with trade, "their atrocious oaths, impious ceremonies, desperate tyranny, and secret assassinations had been brought under their observation," Ministers could not be stirred to any exhibition of energy for the protection of the manufacturer, the workman, or the public. On the 28th of April the Duke of Newcastle had brought the trades unions under the consideration of the House of Lords, and questioned Ministers as to their neglect respecting the disturbances these combinations occasioned. Lord Grey contented himself with a quiet expression of regret for their existence, and of a hope that they would die out if let alone; meanwhile, the Government were ready to put down disorderly meetings. This apparent indifference called forth indignant protests from the Marquis of Londonderry and Lord Eldon. The Lord Chancellor declared that the meetings were illegal, and that they were likely to produce great mischief; adding, "Of all the worst things, and of all the most pernicious devices that could be imagined for the injury of the interests of the working classes, as well as of the interests of the country at large, nothing was half so bad as their existence." He also stated that there could not remain the shadow of a doubt of the justice of the conviction of the Dorchester labourers. Strikes and combinations, however, continued during the summer. At the Chester Assizes, on the 5th of August, two men were indicted for the murder of a manufacturer during a strike in 1831. It appeared on evidence that the deceased had excited the ill feeling of the trades unions of the place, where he had a mill, in which he gave employment to a great number of people. Two of his own workmen had agreed to assassinate him for the sum of 3 6s. 8d. each, paid by the union. They shot him as he was passing through a lane to his mills. Being found guilty, they were executed. On the 18th of the same month the workmen employed by the builders of London struck to the number of 10,000, including the artisans at the Government works. This course was adopted in consequence of a combined declaration of the master-builders, requiring them to abandon their connection with trades unions.The British Ministry adopted the advice most cordially. Lord Liverpool, in the House of Lords, and Lord Castlereagh, in the Commons, on the 6th of April, announced the astounding fact of the escape of Buonaparte, and proposed addresses from both Houses to the Prince Regent, recommending the most energetic measures of co-operation with the Allies now finally to crush this lawless man. Whitbread vehemently opposed this measure, declaring that it was not our business "to commence a new crusade to determine who should fill the throne of France." This was true enough; but it was a truth, in the then temper of the Government or public, which was not likely to be attended to. The addresses were carried in both Houses without any division, and Lord Wellington was nominated to command the forces which should take the field for Great Britain; and these were to amount to no fewer than one hundred and fifty thousand, and to consist of a moderate number of British soldiers, and the rest to be paid Hanoverians, Belgians, Dutch, and Germans. Parliament immediately voted the enormous sum of ninety million pounds for supplies, knowing the vast subsidies which would be required by the Allied monarchs, besides the large sum necessary to pay our own quota of troops.
    Matters were at this pass when Lord Wellington, who had heard of the attack, at his headquarters at Lezaco, two days before, came galloping up on the morning of the 27th. He found Soult only two leagues from Pampeluna, and saw him so near that he could plainly discern his features. Wellington caused his own presence to be announced to his two bodies of troops, and they answered the announcement with loud cheers. That day the troops of Soult were pushed backwards by a regiment of the Irish, and a body of Spanish infantry, at the point of the bayonet. The next day, the 28th, the French were driven down still farther. On the 29th both armies rested, but on the 30th the fight was renewed with fury; but Picton and Dalhousie, being sent across the mountains in opposite directions, managed to turn both flanks of Soult, and the French fled precipitately as far as Olaque. There the pursuing troops fell in with the right of the French, which[60] had been worsted by Hill. In the darkness the French continued their flight, and the next morning were found in full retreat for France. The British gave chase, and made many prisoners, taking much baggage. These battles, which have been named "The Battles of the Pyrenees," Wellington describes as some of the most severe that he ever saw. He states the loss of the British in killed at one thousand five hundred, but in killed and wounded at six thousand. The French, he says, admitted that they had lost fifteen thousand men, and he therefore gave them credit for the loss being much more. On one occasion Wellington surprised Soult, and had so laid his plans for surrounding him that he felt sure of capturing him; but three drunken British soldiers, rambling carelessly beyond the outposts, were taken, and let out the secret of Wellington being hidden close at hand, behind the rocks, and thus saved the French commander. A second time he was saved by the Spanish generals, Longa and Barcenas, not being at their posts in a narrow defile near St. Estevan, where he could only pass by a slender bridge. Still the British were at his heels, and committed dreadful havoc on his troops in this pass. On the 2nd of August there was a fresh encounter with Soult's forces near the town of Echalar, where they were again beaten, and driven from a lofty mountain called Ivantelly. Soult retired behind the Bidassoa, and concentrated his routed forces; and Wellington, having once more cleared the passes of the Pyrenees of the French, gave his army some rest, after nine days of incessant and arduous action, where they could look out over the plains of France, which they were ere long to traverse. But the army had not much rest here. The French made determined efforts to raise the siege of San Sebastian, while Wellington was as active in endeavouring to force Pampeluna to capitulate. Unfortunately he had still scarcely any proper men or tools for siege-work. He had long urged on the Government the formation of companies of sappers and miners. But, after eighteen months, they had formed only one company, whilst, as Wellington informed the Government, there was no French corps d'arme which had not a battalion of them. This first British company of sappers and miners came out on the 19th of August, and were immediately set to work. Sir George Collier sent his sailors to assist, and on the 31st Wellington considered that he had made sufficient breach for storming. But that morning Soult sent across the Bidassoa a strong body of French to attack the besiegers. These were met by a division of eight thousand Spaniards, who allowed the French to ascend the heights of San Marcial, on which they were posted, and then, with a shout, charged with the bayonet down hill, at which sight the French instantly broke, and ran for it. They were pursued to the river, in which many plunged, and were drowned. In the afternoon Soult sent over again fifteen thousand men, having put across a pontoon bridge. These, under the eye and encouragement of Lord Wellington, were charged again by the Spaniards, and routed as before; many again rushing into the river, and the rest, crushing upon the bridge, broke it down, and perished in great numbers also. The Portuguese troops likewise met and defeated another detachment of French, who had come by another way. These were supported by British troops, under General Inglis, and with the same result. Wellington was highly delighted to see the Spaniards thus, at length, doing justice to their native valour under British discipline, and praised them warmly. Soult is said to have lost two thousand men.

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    Here he heard his faithful servants, Duroc and Daru, whispering, as they thought he slept, of their critical situation, and caught the words "prisoner of State." On this, he started up, and demanded whether the reports of his Ministers were yet burnt, and being answered in the negative, he had both them and all documents which could give information of his affairs to the enemy put into the fire. Segur says that amongst these were materials for writing his life, for, like C?sar, he had determined to be his own historian. In tracing the map for a passage over the Beresina, his eye caught the word Pultowa, and he said, "Ah! Charles XII.Pultowa!"

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    Indeed, Mr. O'Connell's agitating tour in the North of England and in Scotland was in effect a crusade against the Lords. In a speech which he addressed to an immense assemblage of the working classes of Manchester, he said, if there were only one House of Parliament, a majority of that House, perhaps a faction, might become the rulers of the entire nation. He was, therefore, for two Houses, but they should be honest and competent. Why should a man be a legislator because his father was one? It was as reasonable to expect that a man would be a good tailor on the hereditary principle. The Lords had proved themselves to be arrant botchers in the work of[393] legislation. Were they to have 170 masters of that class? He then proceeded in this strain:"Will you endure that any gang or banditti, I care not by what name you call them, should treat you contemptuously? In one word, I call them rogues. We must put down the House of Lords. Ye are miserable minions of power. Ye have no choice for yourselves till that House be thoroughly reformed. Let the king retain his prerogative of raising men to that rank and station to which they may be eligible. Let every 200,000 men in Great Britain and Ireland select one lord from this list; that will give you 120 for the 24,000,000; let them be re-eligible every five years, and you will have a steady Chamber." Still, the outrageous attacks of Mr. O'Connell gave much offence, and when, on his return to Dublin after his crusade, he was invited to dinner by the Lord-Lieutenant, a violent storm was raised against the Government, and the king was greatly indignant.

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    The English now began to contemplate taking the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch. General Johnstone was dispatched in April with five ships of the line, some frigates, and smaller vessels, having on board General Medows and three regiments for this purpose; but encountering Admiral Suffren in the way, after an indecisive action, Johnstone fell in with and took a Dutch East Indiaman of great value, and learned through it that Suffren had managed to reach the Cape and give the alarm, and that the Cape was put into strong defence. Johnstone, therefore, made for Saldanha Bay, where he learned that a number of other Dutch East Indiamen were lying. Four of these he secured; the rest were run ashore by their commanders and burnt. During the autumn both Dutch and French suffered much from the British on the coasts of Coromandel and the island of Sumatra. They also took from the Dutch Negapatam, Penang, and other places.

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    But they were not then in the position of a beleaguered garrison. Before relief came, they had won a victory that covered them with glory. The troops had been in the highest pluck, and never seemed so happy as when they could encounter any portion of the enemy. In this state of feeling an idea began to take possession of the officers that they were able to capture Mahomed Akbar's camp. A false report had come to the Sirdar, that General Pollock had been beaten back with great slaughter in the Khyber Pass; and in honour of this event his guns fired a royal salute. A rumour also reached the garrison that there had been a revolution at Cabul, and that the enemy was obliged to break up his camp and hasten back to the capital. Whether either or both these reports should prove true, the time seemed to have come for General Sale to strike a blow. A council of war was held; the general would have shrunk from the responsibility of an attack upon the camp; but he was dissuaded by Havelock. Akbar Khan, at the head of 6,000 men, was aware of their approach and ready to receive them. On issuing from the gate, General Sale had ordered Colonel Dennie forward, to attack a small fort, from which the enemy had often molested the garrison. The colonel, at the head of the brave 13th, rushed to the fort; but having entered the outer wall, they found themselves exposed to a murderous fire from the defences of the inner keep. There Colonel Dennie received a mortal wound, a ball passing through his sword-belt. Sale now gave orders for a general attack on the enemy's camp, and in his despatch he thus describes the result:"The artillery advanced at a gallop, and directed a heavy fire upon the Afghan centre, whilst two of the columns of infantry penetrated the line near the same point, and the third forced back its left from its support on the river, into the stream of which some of his horse and foot were driven. The Afghans made repeated attempts to check our advance by a smart fire of musketry, by throwing forward heavy bodies of horse, which twice threatened the detachments of foot under Captain Havelock, and by opening upon us three guns from a battery screened by a garden wall, and said to have been served under the personal superintendence of the Sirdar. But in a short time they were dislodged from every point of their position, their cannon taken, and their camp involved in a general conflagration. The battle was over, and the enemy in full retreat, by about seven a.m. We have made ourselves masters of two cavalry standards, re-captured four guns lost by the Cabul and Gundamuk forcesthe restoration of which to our Government is matter of much honest exultation among the troopsseized and destroyed a great quantity of material and ordnance stores, and burnt the whole of the enemy's tents. In short, the defeat of Mahomed Akbar, in open field, by the troops whom he had boasted of blockading, has been complete and signal. The field of battle was strewed with the bodies of men and horses, and the richness of the trappings of some of the latter seemed to attest that persons of distinction were among the fallen. The loss on our side was remarkably smallseven privates killed, and three officers and fifty men wounded."

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    It was the 10th of November when Mar, aware that Argyll was advancing against him, at length marched out of Perth with all his baggage and provisions for twelve days. On the 12th, when they arrived at Ardoch, Argyll was posted at Dunblane, and he advanced to give them battle. The wild, uneven ground of Sheriffmuir lay between them, and it was on this spot that Argyll on quitting Stirling had hoped to meet them. He therefore drew up his men on this moorland in battle array, and did not wait long for the coming of the Highland army. It was on a Sunday morning, the 13th of November, that the battle of Sheriffmuir was fought. Argyll commanded the right wing of his army, General Whitham the left, and General Wightman the centre. He[31] calculated much on this open ground for the operations of his cavalry. On the other hand, Mar took the right wing of his army, and was thus opposed, not to Argyll, but to Whitham. The Highlanders, though called on to form in a moment, as it were, did so with a rapidity which astonished the enemy. They opened fire on Argyll so instantly and well, that it took the duke's forces by surprise. The left army retired on Stirling pursued by Mar. Argyll was compelled to be on the alert. He observed that Mar had drawn out his forces so as to outflank him; but, casting his eye on a morass on his right, he discovered that the frost had made it passable, and he ordered Major Cathcart to lead a squadron of horse across it, while with the rest of his cavalry he galloped round, and thus attacked the left wing of Mar both in front and flank. The Highlanders, thus taken by surprise, were thrown into confusion, but still fought with their wonted bravery. They were driven, however, by the momentum of the English horse, backwards; and between the spot whence the attack commenced and the river Allan, three miles distant, they rallied ten times, and fairly contested the field. Argyll, however, bore down upon them with all the force of his right wing, offering quarter to all who would surrender, and even parrying blows from his own dragoons which went to exterminate those already wounded. After an obstinate fight of three hours, he drove the Highlanders over the Allan, a great number of them being drowned in it. Mar at this crisis returned to learn the fate of the rest of his army. He found that he had been taking the office of a General of Division instead of that of the Commander-in-Chief, whose duty is to watch the movements of the whole field, and send aid to quarters which are giving way. Like Prince Rupert, in his ardour for victory over his enemies in front of him, he had totally forgotten the centre and left wing, and discovered now that the left wing was totally defeated. He was contented to draw off, and yet boast of victory.

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    From the moment that Russia was called in, under the pretext of maintaining order, she became, or aimed to become, the dominant power there. She pressed on the whole line of the Polish frontier with her armies, inundated the kingdom with her troops, and levied contributions for their support as if she had been in a conquered country. From that hour, too, the kings were elected rather by foreign armies than by the Poles themselves.[207] Stanislaus Poniatowski, the present king, was the nominee of Catherine of Russia, whose lover he had been till superseded by Orloff. She had placed him on the throne by force of arms, and he was incapable of doing anything except through her power.
    [529]

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