- Software name: appdown
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But though we punished the Dutch for their French predilections, the tide of French success was rolling on in various quarters, and presenting a prospect of a single-handed conflict with France. The powers on whose behalf we had armed were fast, one after another, making terms with the Republicans. Holland was in their hands, and the King of Prussia, on the 5th of April, concluded a peace with them at Basle, in which he agreed to surrender to France all his possessions on the left bank of the Rhine, on condition of retaining those on the right. There was a mutual exchange of prisoners, including the troops of such other German States as had served with Prussia. Spain hastened to follow the example of Prussia. A peace was concluded at the same placeBasleon the 22nd of July, by which she gave up all the Spanish part of San Domingo. To purchase the French evacuation, the Ministers of Spain itself recognised the Batavian Republicwhich was become, in reality, a province of Franceand promised to intercede with Portugal, Naples, Parma, and Sardinia. The Grand Duke of Tuscany followed with a proclamation of a treaty of neutrality with France, on the 1st of March. Sweden and the Protestant Cantons recognised the French Republic and the Batavian one, its ally; and the Duke of Hesse-Cassel, and even George III., as Elector of Hanover, were compelled to an agreement to furnish no more troops to the Emperor of Germany. Whilst the Allies were thus falling away in rapid succession before the forces of Republican France, Britain, instead of taking warning, and resolving to mind only her own business, went madly into fresh treaties with Continental Powers. Russia and Austria were received into fresh treaties of mutual defence. Russia we were to assist with ships, and Austria with twenty thousand foot and six thousand horse, or to pay each month ten thousand florins for every thousand infantry, and thirty thousand florins for every thousand of cavalry. To complete the circle of treaties, Sir Gilbert Elliot, British Governor of Corsica, entered into a treaty with the Dey of Algiers, by which, on payment of a hundred and seventy-nine thousand piastres, he was to restore all the Corsicans captured and enslaved by him, and was to enjoy the strange privilege of carrying all his piratical prizes into the ports of Corsica, and to sell them therewhich was, in fact, licensing this chief of sea-robbers to plunder all the other Italian States.
The White explained carefully that it was not a contract, that it was nothing at all, in fact.
Charles Stanhope, though clearly guilty, escaped, after examination in the House, by a majority of three, out of respect for the memory of his deceased relative, the upright Lord Stanhope. Aislabie's case came next, and was so palpably bad that he was committed to the Tower and expelled the House, amid the ringing of bells, bonfires, and other signs of rejoicing in the City of London. The bulk of his property, moreover, was seized. This was some compensation to the public, which had murmured loudly at the acquittal of Stanhope. Sunderland's case was the next, and he escaped by the evidence against him being chiefly second-hand. He was acquitted by a majority of two hundred and thirty-three against one hundred and seventy-two. As to the king's mistresses, their sins were passed over out of a too conceding loyalty; but no favour was shown to the directors, though some of them were found to be much poorer when the scheme broke up than they were when it began. Amongst them was Mr. Gibbon, the grandfather of the historian, who afterwards exposed the injustice of many of these proceedings, though at the time they were considered as only too merited. The directors were disabled from ever again holding any place, or sitting in Parliament; and their estates, amounting to upwards of two millions, were confiscated for the relief of the sufferers by the scheme.
The Wesleyan Methodists were next in number to the members of the Established Church. The progress of this society was very rapid after 1820. In that year the number of its ministers was 718, and of its members or communicants in Great Britain, 191,000. In 1830 the numbers were respectively 824 and 248,000; and so largely did they increase in the next ten years, that in 1840 the ministers were 1,167, and the members 323,000. The 1851 census returns showed 6,579 chapels belonging to this connexion in England and Wales, containing accommodation for 1,447,580 persons. The Society of Friends, on the other hand, was declining. The Roman Catholics made considerable progress in England during the last two reigns. In 1829 they had 394 chapels, which in 1840 had increased to 463, and in 1852 they reached 600. They had at the same time 11 colleges, 88 religious houses, and 875 priests. Their chapels at the time of the census furnished accommodation for 186,000, and the number of attendants on the morning of census Sunday of 1851 was 252,983.Lord Wellington, early in October, called down his troops from their cold and miserable posts in the mountains, and marched them over the Bidassoa, and encamped them amongst the French hills and valleys of La Rhune. The last division moved across on the 10th of November, the town of Pampeluna having surrendered on the 31st of October. This was a very agreeable change to the troops; but, before crossing, his lordship issued the most emphatic orders against plundering or ill-using the inhabitants. He told them, and especially the Spanish and Portuguese, that though the French had committed unheard-of barbarities in their countries, he would not allow of retaliation and revenge on the innocent inhabitants of France; that it was against the universal marauder, Buonaparte, and his system, that the British made war, and not against the people of France. But the passions of the Portuguese and Spaniards were too much excited against their oppressors, and they burnt and plundered whenever they had opportunity. On this, Wellington wrote sternly to the Spanish general, Freyre. "Where I command," he said, "no one shall be allowed to plunder. If plunder must be had, then another must have the command. You have large armies in Spain, and if it is wished to plunder the French peasantry, you may then enter France; but then the Spanish Government must remove me from the command of their armies. It is a matter of indifference to me whether I command a large or a small army; but, whether large or small, they must obey me, and, above all, must not plunder." To secure the fulfilment of these orders, he moved back most of the Spanish troops to within the Spanish frontiers. The strictness with which Lord Wellington maintained these sentiments and protected the inhabitants produced the best results. The folk of the southern provinces, being well inclined to the Bourbons, and heartily wearied of seeing their sons annually dragged away to be slaughtered in foreign countries for Buonaparte's ambition, soon flocked into camp with all sorts of provisions and vegetables; and they did not hesitate to express their wishes for the success of the British arms.
On the reassembling of Parliament on the 3rd of February, 1842, Sir Robert Peel was confronted by a rapidly increasing demand for freedom of trade. Among the earliest of the Parliamentary champions of the people's right to cheap food was Mr. Villiers, afterwards President of the Poor Law Board. He became a pupil of Mr. M'Culloch, the author of the "Commercial Dictionary," who was also one of the soundest and most consistent advocates of commercial and fiscal reforms. The bold attacks of Mr. Huskisson and Mr. Canning upon commercial monopolies naturally excited his admiration, and as a supporter of those statesmen he offered himself as a candidate for Hull at the general election in 1826. The election was lost by a small majority, and Mr. Villiers was afterwards called to the bar, became Secretary to the Master of the Rolls, and subsequently one of the Examiners in Chancery. At the general election in 1835 he presented himself as a candidate for Wolverhampton, avowing the same Free Trade principles which he had professed nine years before at Hull. It is said to have been at a meeting at Sir William Molesworth's, in 1837, that Mr. Villiers was strongly urged to take the opposition to the Corn Laws as his peculiar field of Parliamentary duty; and in that year he pledged himself at the hustings to move for their total repeal, an object at that time generally regarded as too wild and hopeless to be undertaken seriously by a practical statesman. On the 15th of March, 1838, Mr. Villiers rose in Parliament to make the first of those motions on the Corn Laws with which he afterwards became associated in the public mind. Scarcely any excitement was caused by this discussion. It seems, indeed, to have been regarded rather as an exercise in political speaking by some who viewed the matter in a philosophic, rather than in a practical light, and who had no real expectation of success. Only one of the ministers was present during a debate which was destined, in its annual reappearance, to become so formidable to the party of monopoly; and this Minister, it was remarked by one speaker, appeared to be taking "his evening siesta," doubtless "owing to weariness induced by his close attention to official duties"a remark which elicited loud laughter. It must be confessed, however, that the slumber of the Minister was no unfit representation of the want of faith in Corn Law Repeal which existed out of doors. It was certain that nothing but pressure from without could obtain even a modification of those laws in the teeth of the all-powerful aristocracy and their representatives in the Commons; but as yet the country took little part in the great question of the final emancipation of British industry. For a repeal of the Poor Laws there had been presented to the House not less than 235 petitions, with 190,000 signatures. The agitationchiefly supported by the Times newspaper and a few Socialistic reformers, like Mr. Fielden, against the law which, harsh as it seemed, was at bottom a really wise and humane measure for raising the people from that condition of acquiescence in misery and degradation to which the bad legislation of past years had so powerfully contributed to reduce themhad assumed formidable dimensions, and stirred the country in every part; but for a repeal of the law which in every way depressed the energies of the people, only a few petitions, bearing at most about 24,000 signatures, had been presented.