Opinions of the Irish Government on the Catholic QuestionRenewal of the Catholic Claims by BurdettVesey Fitzgerald accepts the Board of TradeO'Connell opposes him for ClareHis ReputationHis BackersFather Murphy's SpeechO'Connell to the FrontThe NominationO'Connell's SpeechThe ElectionReturn of O'ConnellAnglesey's PrecautionsPeel's Reflections on the Clare ElectionAnglesey describes the State of IrelandPeel wishes to resignThe Duke waversAnglesey urges ConcessionInsurrection probableWellington determines on RetreatWhy he and Peel did not resignThe Viceroy's OpinionMilitary Organisation of the PeasantryThe Brunswick ClubsPerplexity of the GovernmentO'Connell's "Moral Force"The Liberator ClubsDawson's Speech"No Popery" in EnglandThe Morpeth BanquetThe Leinster DeclarationWellington's Letter to Dr. CurtisAnglesey's Correspondence with O'ConnellThe Premier Censures the ViceroyAnglesey dismissedHe is succeeded by NorthumberlandDifficulties with the King and the English BishopsPeel determines to remainHis Views communicated to the KingThe King yieldsOpening of the SessionPeel defeated at Oxford UniversitySuppression of the Catholic AssociationThe Announcement in the King's SpeechPeel introduces the Relief BillArguments of the OppositionThe Bill passes the CommonsThe Duke's SpeechIt passes the Lords by large MajoritiesThe King withdraws his ConsentHe again yieldsHis Communication to EldonNumbers of the Catholics in BritainThe Duke's Duel with WinchilseaBill for the disfranchisement of "the Forties"O'Connell presents himself to be swornHe refuses to take the OathsHe is heard at the BarFresh Election for ClareO'Connell's new AgitationThe Roman Catholic HierarchyRiots in the Manufacturing DistrictsAttempt to mitigate the Game LawsAffairs of PortugalNegotiations with the CanningitesPitched Battles in IrelandMeeting of ParliamentDebate on the AddressBurdett's Attack on WellingtonThe Opposition proposes RetrenchmentsThe Duke's EconomiesProsecution of Mr. AlexanderIllness and Death of George IV. The affairs of Ireland had been entrusted in the House of Commons to the vigorous hands of Mr. Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby), who had been sent over as Chief Secretary with Lord Anglesey, and whom, from his firmness in administering the law, Mr. O'Connell denounced as "scorpion Stanley." On the 24th of March Mr. Stanley moved the first reading of the Bill to amend the representation of Ireland. A long and a violent debate ensued, in which Ireland was not so much thought of as the vast general interests involved in the impending revolution. In the meantime Ministers had done what they could to make the king comfortable with regard to his revenue. They proposed 510,000 a year for the Civil List, instead of 498,480, as recommended by the committee, while the liberal jointure of 100,000 a year was settled upon Queen Adelaide. This gratified his Majesty in the highest degree, and reconciled him to the dissolution, his decision being hastened by the attempt of the Tories to stop supplies. When the royal carriages were not ready to take him to the House of Lords, the king said, "Then call a hackney coach." 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."

Nor did these terms contain anything like the extent of tyranny imposed on the conscience of the nation by these monarchs. By the 29 Elizabeth it was provided that what right or property any person might dispose of, or settle on any of his[162] family, should still be liable to these penalties if the proprietor and disposer of them neglected to go to church. So that a son might be deprived of lands or other property settled upon him at his marriage, or at any other time, if his father ceased to attend church, though he himself went punctually; and by the 21 James I. the informers were stimulated by great rewards to lay complaints against all whom they could discover offending. And, moreover, any person was to be considered an absentee from church, and liable to all the penalties, who did not remain in church during the whole time of the service; and, also, not only on Sundays, "but upon all the other days ordained and used to be kept as holidays." All these odious enactments were left in force by the Toleration Act, except that they did not compel every one to go to church, but to some licensed place of worship.

All Europe was astonished by the news of the French Revolution. The successful insurrection of the working classes in Paristhe flight of the kingthe abolition of monarchythe establishment of a Republic, all the work of two or three days, were events so startling that the occupants of thrones might well stand aghast at their recital, and tremble for their own possessions. It would not have been surprising if the revolutionary spirit emanating from Paris had, to a large extent, invaded Great Britain and Ireland. The country had just passed through a fearful crisis; heavy sacrifices had been made by all classes to save the people from starvation; many families had been utterly ruined by gigantic failures, and there was still very general privation prevailing in all parts of the United Kingdom. In such circumstances the masses are peculiarly liable to be excited against the Government by ignorant or unprincipled agitators, who could easily persuade[555] them that their sufferings arose from misgovernment, and that matters could never go right till the people established their own sovereigntytill they abolished monarchy and aristocracy, and proclaimed a republic. The Chartist agitation, though not formally proposing any such issue of the movement, had, nevertheless, familiarised the minds of the working classes with the idea of such a revolution. The points of their charter comprised vote by ballot, universal suffrage, annual parliaments, payment of the members, and the abolition of the property qualification. Besides, the Chartist leaders had been in the habit of holding what was called a National Convention, which was a kind of parliament of their own, in which the leaders practised the art of government. The train was thus laid, and it seemed to require only a spark to ignite it; but a thick shower of sparks came from Paris, as if a furnace had been emptied by a hurricane. It would have been almost miraculous if there had been no explosions of disaffection in Great Britain in such circumstances as these. [See larger version]

"More than 100 workhouse officers fell victims to the famine fever during this fatal year, which also decimated the ranks of the Catholic clergy of the country. Mr. Trevelyan gives names of thirty English and Scottish priests who sacrificed their lives to their zealous attendance on the immigrant Irish, who carried the pestilence with them in their flight to other portions of the United Kingdom. Pestilence likewise slew its victims in the[542] fetid hold of the emigrant ship, and, following them across the ocean, immolated them in thousands in the lazar houses that fringed the shores of Canada and the United States. The principal business of the time was in meal, and coffins, and passenger ships. A fact may be mentioned which renders further description of the state of the country needless. The Cork Patent Saw Mills had been at full work from December, 1846, to May, 1847, with twenty pairs of saws, constantly going from morning till night, cutting planks for coffins, and planks and scantlings for fever sheds, and for the framework of berths for emigrant ships."

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Thus was destroyed in Egypt all the prestige of the battles of Alexandria and Aboukir Bay. The consequence of these two badly-planned and worse-executed expeditions was the declaration of war against Britain by the Porte, the seizure of all British property in the Turkish dominions, and the formation of a close alliance between Turkey and France. But the triumph over the British had not relieved the Turks of the Russians. Admiral Siniavin still blockaded the Dardanelles, and another Russian squadron, issuing from the Black Sea, blockaded the mouth of the Bosphorus. The Turks came boldly out of the Dardanelles and attacked Siniavin on the 22nd of May and on the 22nd of June; but on both occasions they lost several ships, and were expecting heavier inflictions from the Russians, when they were suddenly relieved of their presence by the news of the Treaty of Tilsit, which had been contracted between Alexander of Russia and Buonaparte. Alexander, by this, ceased to be the ally, and became the enemy of Britain. It was necessary, therefore, for Siniavin to make all speed for the Baltic before war could be declared between the two nations, after which his return would be hopeless. The Russian admiral, however, before quitting the Mediterranean, had the pleasure of taking possession of Corfu, which Buonaparte had made over to Alexander.

The other charges having been voted, on the 25th of April Burke brought up the articles of impeachment. There was a long debate, in which Wilkes, who had completely changed his politics, and had cultivated a friendship with Warren Hastings and his wife, made a very effective speech in his defence. He tried to shift the blame from Hastings to the Company. Pitt again pointed out the fact that honourable members had not been showing the innocence of Hastings, but raising all manner of set-offs for his crimesa course which he had before said he had hoped would have been abandoned; that for his part,[339] without going to the length of all the charges brought forward, he saw sufficient grounds for an impeachment. He could conceive a State compelled by sudden invasion and an unprovided army, to lay violent hands on the property of its subjects, but then such a State must be infamous if it did not, on the first opportunity, make ample satisfaction. But was this the principle on which Mr. Hastings had acted? No; he neither avowed the necessity nor the exaction. He made criminal charges, and, under colour of them, levied immoderate penalties, which, if he had a right to take them at all, he would be highly criminal in taking in such a shape; but which, having no right to take, the mode of taking rendered much more heinous and culpable.


On the 9th of April, 1809, the Archduke Charles crossed the Inn, and invaded Bavaria, the ally of France. He issued a manifesto declaring that the cause of Austria was that of the general independence of Germany, and called on those States which had been compelled to bear the yoke of France to throw it off, and stand boldly for the common liberty. The serious discontent of the people of Germany encouraged him to hope that his call would be responded to; but Germany was not yet ripe for an effective reaction. Simultaneously, the Archduke John had descended from the Alps into Italy, and driven the troops of the viceroy, Eugene Beauharnais, before him. He had advanced as far as the Tagliamento, and laid siege to the fortresses of Orobo and Palma Nuova. The Archduke Ferdinand had also marched into Poland, defeated Poniatowski, Buonaparte's general, and taken possession of Warsaw. All so far looked cheering; for the great actor was not yet on the scene. But he quitted Paris on the 11th of April, two days only after the Archduke Charles entered Bavaria, and in a few days was with his army at Donauw?rth. He expressed the utmost contempt for the Austrian troops, saying, in a letter to Massena, that six thousand French ought to beat twelve thousand or fifteen thousand of "those canaille." He greatly disapproved of the manner in which Berthier had disposed of his forces, for he had extended them in a long line from Augsburg to Ratisbon, with a very weak centre. He ordered Davoust and Massena, who commanded the opposite wings, to draw nearer together. That being done, on the 20th of April he made a sudden attack on the Austrians at Abensberg, and defeated them. The next day he renewed the attack at Landshut, and took from them thirty pieces of cannon, nine thousand prisoners, and a great quantity of ammunition and baggage. The following day he advanced against the main position of the Archduke Charles, at Eckmühl, where, by the most skilful man?uvres, he turned all the enemy's positions, and defeated one division after another with all the art and regularity of a game of chess. Charles was thoroughly defeated, and had twenty thousand men taken prisoners, with a loss of fifteen stand of colours, and the greater part of his artillery. The next day the Austrians made a stand to defend the town of Ratisbon. They fought bravely; but, a breach being made in the wall, Marshal Lannes seized a scaling-ladder, and, whilst hundreds of French were falling under the fire of the Austrians, he planted it against the breach, saying, "I will show you that your general is still a grenadier!" The wall was scaled, and a desperate battle ensued in the streets of the town. At one moment, a number of tumbrils loaded with powder were in danger of exploding, and destroying the combatants on both sides; but the Austrians warned the French of the danger, and they mutually combined to remove them. That over, they recommenced the struggle, and the Austrians were driven out of the town, leaving again cannon, much ammunition, and many prisoners in the hands of the French. Whilst watching the mle, Buonaparte was struck on the toe by a spent musket-ball; but he had the wound dressed, and again remounted his[588] horse, and watched with unfailing vigilance the progress of the battle.