Whilst the French had been thus beating the Austrians out of Italy, and thus rendering abortive our new and lavish subsidy to the Emperor, Ministers had been busy in the election of a new Parliament. This new Parliament assembled on the 6th of October, and was full of patriotism. As Hoche's army had not yet sailed, and as nobody seemed to know its destination, Pitt represented that it probably was for the coast of England, and called for the enrolment of fifteen thousand men from the parishes, half of whom were to be sent into the navy, and for sixty thousand militia and twenty thousand more yeomen cavalry, all which were carried. On the 26th of October Windham, as Secretary at War, announced the whole military force of the country at home and abroad, apart from the troops in the East Indies, which were raised and maintained by the Company, to be one hundred and ninety-six thousand men, and he demanded for their payment five million one hundred and ninety thousand pounds. On the 7th of November Pitt opened his Budget, requiring no less than twenty-seven million nine hundred and forty-five thousand pounds for the total expenditure of the year. There was another loan called for of eighteen million pounds, and though the terms were then considered low, such was the spirit of the nation that the amount was subscribed within two days.

On the 18th of June a public dinner, to commemorate the abolition of the Sacramental Test, was given at Freemasons' Hall, when the Duke of Sussex occupied the chair. The friends of the cause felt that to secure a meeting of the most opulent, talented, and influential Dissenters from all parts of the empire was a measure of no common policy, and it was evident that the illustrious and noble guests felt at once surprised and gratified to witness the high respectability and generous enthusiasm of that great company. Mr. William Smith, as deputy chairman, proposed, in an interesting and appropriate speech, "the health of the Duke of Sussex, and the universal prevalence of those principles which placed his family upon the throne." The health of the archbishops, bishops, and other members of the Established Church who had advocated the rights of the Dissenters was proposed by a Baptist minister, the Rev. Dr. Cox. The health of "the Protestant Dissenting ministers, the worthy successors of the ever memorable two thousand who sacrificed interest to conscience," having been proposed by the royal chairman, the Rev. Robert Aspland returned thanks. Another commemoration of the full admission of Nonconformists to the privileges of the Constitution was a medal struck by order of the united committee. The obverse side exhibits Britannia, seated on the right, presenting to a graceful figure of Liberty the Act of Repeal, while Religion in the centre raises her eyes to heaven with the expression of thankfulness for the boon. The inscription on this side is "Sacramental Test Abolished, May 9th, 1828." The reverse side presents an open wreath, enclosing the words, "Truth, Freedom, Peace, and Charity." [See larger version]

On the 22nd of April Mr. O'Connell brought forward a very comprehensive motion. It was for a select committee to inquire and report on the means by which the destruction of the Irish Parliament had been effected; on the results of the union upon Ireland, and upon the labourers in husbandry and operatives in manufactures in England; and on the probable consequences of[371] continuing the Legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland. This motion originated a debate on the Repeal question which lasted four days. O'Connell himself spoke for six hours. The debate was chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Spring-Rice, in defence of the union, which also occupied six hours in the delivery. He concluded by proposing an amendment to the effect that an Address should be presented to the king by both Houses of Parliament, expressing their determination to maintain the Legislative union inviolate. In a very full House the amendment was carried by an overwhelming majority, the numbers being for, 523; against, 38. Mr. Spring-Rice's speech served the Government materially, while by the Conservatives it was regarded as "a damper" to their own hopes. Accordingly, the Duke found himself alone in his opposition to the plan of an armed intervention in Spain. It was at first proposed that all the Allies should unite in this; but it was ultimately agreed that a procs verbal should be jointly adopted, in which the King of Spain and his family should be declared to be under the protection of Europe, and Spain threatened with a terrible vengeance if any injury were done to them. This procs verbal was addressed to the head of the Spanish Government, with an explanation of the reasons for its adoption. The Duke was disappointed and mortified at the obstinate self-will of the crowned despots. He had gone to Verona in the hope that they would at all events be open to arguments in favour of peace; he found them bent on such a course as would render its preservation impossible. When the Ministers reduced their ideas to a definite shape, the incidents which they agreed to accept as leading necessarily to war appeared to him fallacious in the extreme. They were these:First, an armed attack by Spain upon France[235]. Second, any personal outrage offered to Ferdinand VII., or to any member of the Spanish royal family. Third, an act of the Spanish legislature dethroning the king, or interfering in any way with the right of succession. Austria, Prussia, and Russia accepted the conditions readily, adhering, at the same time, to the substance of the notes which they had previously put in.

On the 18th of February, however, Fox moved a string of resolutions condemnatory of war with France. They declared that that country was only doing what every country had a right to doreorganise its internal Constitution; that, as we had allowed Russia, Prussia, and Austria to dismember Poland, we had no right to check the aggressions of France on these countries; as we had remained quiescent in the one case, we were bound to do so in the other, and not to make ourselves confederates of the invasion of Poland; and his final resolution went to entreat his Majesty not to enter into any engagements with other Powers which should prevent us from making a separate peace with France. Burke did not lose the opportunity of rebuking Fox for his long advocacy of the Empress Catherine, whose unprincipled share in the partition of Poland he was now compelled to reprobate. The resolutions of Fox were negatived by two hundred and seventy votes against forty-four. Not daunted by this overwhelming majority, Fox again, on the 21st of February, brought forward his resolution in another form, declaring that there were no sufficient causes for war. The motion was negatived without a division.

To contend against this enormous force, Buonaparte, by the most surprising exertions, had again collected upwards of two hundred thousand men of considerable military practice; but he dared not to name the conscription to a people already sore on that point; and he endeavoured to raise further reinforcements by an enrolment of National Guards all over France. For this purpose commissioners were sent down into the Departments, on the authority of an Imperial decree of April the 5th; and he proposed to raise as many federates, or volunteers of the lower ordersthe only class which had raised a cheer for him on his return. But these schemes proved, for the most part, abortive. In the northern Departments, where heretofore the commands of Buonaparte had been most freely obeyed, the inhabitants showed a sullen and dogged resistance, and the same was the case in Brittany. Farther south matters were worse. In the Departments of Gard, Marne, and Nether Loire, the white flag and cockade were openly displayed; and wherever the tree of liberty was plantedfor it was now the trick of Buonaparte to associate the sacred name of liberty with his, a name and a thing on which he had so uniformly trampledit was cut down and burnt. It was in such circumstances that Buonaparte had to put his frontiers into a state of defence against the advancing hosts. He had defended the northern side of Paris with a double line of fortifications; strongly fortified Montmartre, and on the open southern side cast up some field-works, relying, however, on the Seine as the best barrier. Paris he placed under the command of General Haxo; and the fortresses on the side of Alsace, the Vosges, and Lorraine were all strongly garrisoned. Lyons, Guise, Vitry, Soissons, Chateau-Thierry, Langres, and other towns were made as strong as forts, redoubts, field-works, and garrisons could make them; and trusting by these to retard the slow Austrians, and even the Russians, till he could have given a desperate blow to the Allies in the Netherlands, of whom he was most afraid, on the 11th of June he quitted Paris, saying, "I go to measure myself with Wellington!"

To assist the Governor-General, the British Government had sent out Sir Eyre Coote in 1780 to the scene of his former fame, not only as Commander of the Forces in place of Clavering, but also as member of Council. Coote usually supported Hastings in the Council, but he greatly embarrassed him by the insatiable spirit of avarice which had grown upon him with years; and in making arrangements with the Nabob of Oude and others to supply the means of accommodation to the old commander, Hastings largely augmented the grounds of his future persecutions. The war with the Mahrattas and the announcement of the speedy arrival of a French armament on the coast of Coromandel induced the Company's old enemy, Hyder Ali, to think it a good opportunity to recover some of his territory from the Company. He saw that the present opportunity was most favourable for taking a signal revenge on the English. For years he had concerted with the French a grand plan for the destruction of the British power; and even whilst he remained quiet, he was preparing with all his energies for its accomplishment. He had squeezed his treasurers and collectors to the utmost for the accumulation of money, and mustered an army of nearly ninety thousand men, including twenty-eight thousand cavalry and two thousand artillery and rocketmen, besides four hundred engineers, chiefly French. Hyder suddenly poured down from his hills with this host into the plains of Madras. To the last moment the authorities there appear to have been wholly unconscious of their danger. Besides this, the army in the presidency did not exceed six thousand men, and these were principally sepoys. This force, too, was spread over a vast region, part at Pondicherry, part at Arcot, part in Madras, but everywhere scattered into cantonments widely distant from each other, and in forts capable of very little defence. As for the forces of their ally, the Nabob of Arcot, they ran at the first issue of Hyder's army through the ghauts. On came the army of Hyder like a wild hurricane. Porto Novo on the coast, and Conjeveram near Trichinopoli, were taken; and Hyder advanced laying all waste with fire and sword, till he could be seena dreadful apparitionwith his host from Mount St. Thomas, his progress marked by the flames and smoke of burning villages.


Numbers of persons fled from the different towns to the frontiers of Holland, trade became stagnant, manufactories stood empty; the whole country began to assume a melancholy and ruinous aspect. Many of the refugees, formed into revolutionary clubs by French emissaries, were prepared not merely to oppose Joseph's despotism, but all monarchical government whatever. A powerful body of these placed themselves under the leadership of Van der Noot, a lawyer, who assumed the title of plenipotentiary agent of the people of Brabant; and of Van der Mersch, an officer who had served in the Seven Years' War, who was made their commander-in-chief. These two men were in league with the new Assembly of Breda, and issued their proclamations. These Trautmansdorff caused to be burnt by the executioner. The patriots in Brussels who sympathised with those in arms were, many of them, arrested; the citizens were disarmed, the fortifications strengthened by palisades, and every means of defence was resorted to.

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George and his soldiers, however, lost no atom of heart; they determined to cut a way through the enemy or die on the ground; and luckily at this moment the enemy committed almost as great an error as Stair had done. Noailles quitted his post in front of the king's army, and crossed the Main bridge to give some further orders on that side; and no sooner did he depart than his nephew, De Gramont, eager to seize the glory of defeating the English, and not aware that the whole British army was at that moment about to bear down upon him, ordered his troops to cross the ravine in their front, and assault the English on their own side. The order was executed, and had instantly the unforeseen effect of silencing their own batteries on the other side of the river, for, by this movement, the French came directly between their fire and the English, which it had been till that moment mercilessly mowing down.