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The news of the approach of the French succours was brought by Lafayette, who, much to the joy of Washington, and of America generally, again reached the States, landing at Boston in April. He announced that the fleet, commanded by the Chevalier de Ternay, consisted of seven sail of the line, with numerous smaller vessels, and brought over six thousand troops, under the Comte de Rochambeau. The French squadron reached Rhode Island on the 13th of July. Washington thereupon declared himself ready for an attack on New York; but Rochambeau replied that it would be better to wait for the expected and much larger fleet of De Guichen. Before De Guichen appeared, the English admiral, Graves, arrived, with six ships of war, thus increasing the English superiority at sea, and De Ternay found himself blockaded in the harbour of Newport, and Rochambeau was glad to entrench himself on Rhode Island, and abandon all idea of attacking New York. Sir Henry Clinton, on his part, planned an attack on Rochambeau with the army, while the French fleet blockaded in Newport harbour should be attacked by Admiral Arbuthnot. But Clinton and Arbuthnot were at variance, and the admiral did not promptly and cordially second the views of Clinton. He went slowly round Long Island, to place himself in conjunction with the general; whilst Clinton embarked eight thousand troops, and approached the position of Rochambeau. But Arbuthnot strongly contended against the attempt, declaring Rochambeau too formidably fortified, and Washington, at the same time, advancing from his position with a large force, suddenly passed the North River and approached King's Bridge, as if meditating an attack on New York. These circumstances induced Clinton reluctantly to return to New York. Washington retreated to his old ground at Morristown, and Arbuthnot remained blockading De Ternay before Newport. Neither party, therefore, could do more than be still for the remainder of the season. Clinton was completely crippled for any decisive action by the miserable modicum of troops which the English Government had furnished him, and the enemy now knew that the fleet of De Guichen was not likely to arrive this season.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th, he sent a flag of truce to Washington, proposing a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, in order that commissioners might meet and settle the terms of surrender. They were soon arranged, and articles of surrender were signed by the respective generals on the morning of the 19th of October.[See larger version]

[See larger version]Mr. Morgan O'Connell soon found that he had no sinecure in undertaking to give satisfaction with the pistol for all his father's violations of the code of honour. Shortly after, Mr. Daniel O'Connell referred, in strong language, to an attack made upon him by Mr. Disraeli at Taunton:"In the annals of political turpitude, there is not anything deserving the appellation of black-guardism to equal that attack upon me.... He possesses just the qualities of the impenitent thief who died upon the Cross; whose name, I verily believe, must have been Disraeli. For aught I know, the present Disraeli is descended from him; and with the impression that he is, I now forgive the heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the Cross." When Mr. Disraeli read this tremendous philippic, he wrote to Mr. Morgan O'Connell for satisfaction, which the latter denied his right to demand. He had not seen the attack, nor was he answerable for his father's words, though he had taken up his quarrel with Lord Alvanley. Not being able to get satisfaction by means of pistols, he had recourse to the pen; and, certainly, if O'Connell's attack was violent, the retaliation was not of the meekest. However, ink alone was spilt.[See larger version]

But the Czarina, though mistress of Oczakoff, was far from the end of her designs. She contemplated nothing but the subjugation of the Turkish empire. For this purpose she determined to excite insurrection in all the tributary states of that empire. Her agents had excited the Montenegrins to an outbreak; they had prepared the Greeks for the same experiment, and the Mameluke Beys in Egypt. She determined to send a powerful fleet into the Mediterranean to co-operate with these insurgents, to seize on the island of Crete, to ravage the coasts of Thrace and Asia Minor, and to force the passage of the Dardanelles, or, if that were not practicable, to blockade them. Thus opening the communication between her forces in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea, she considered that Turkey would lie helpless at her feet. To give the necessary ascendency to her fleet, she had long been encouraging English naval officers to take commands in it. At the famous battle of Chesm, it was the British Admirals Elphinstone, Greig, and others who had made Potemkin victorious. Greig was now at the head of the fleet that was being prepared at Cronstadt for this Mediterranean enterprise. She had also managed to engage eighteen British ships to serve as transports of troops, artillery, and stores.

In the House of Lords the second reading was carried on the 28th of May by a majority of 47, and the Bill was finally passed on the 25th of June. The attitude of the House was due entirely to the Duke of Wellington, and his conduct constitutes his best claim to the title of statesman. But the downfall of the Peel Ministry was inevitable. In a letter to the Duke, of the 18th of February, Lord Stanley had said that, whatever might be the result of the Corn Bill, the days of the existing Government were numbered, and that the confidence of his party in Sir Robert Peel had been so shaken, "that, in spite of his pre-eminent abilities and great services, he could never reunite it under his guidance." The Protectionist party found its opportunity in the Irish Coercion Bill, which, introduced by Earl St. Germans into the House of Lords, had slowly passed through its various stages, and appeared in the Commons in March. At first the Bill was obstructed in order to delay the Corn Bill, but when that measure became law, Whigs and Protectionistswho had voted for the second reading of the Protection of Life Billresolved to use it as an instrument for the overthrow of Peel. They combined, therefore, with the Radicals and Irish members, and, on the very night on which Free Trade was passed by the Lords, the Minister was finally defeated in the Commons. He might have dissolved, but his preference was for retirement. The concluding words of his speech will long be remembered. He said: "With reference to honourable gentlemen opposite, I must say, as I say with reference to ourselves, neither of us is the party which is justly entitled to the credit of those measures. There has been a combination of parties, and that combination, and the influence of Government, have led to their ultimate success; but the name which ought to be, and will be, associated with the success of those measures, is the name of the man who, acting, I believe, from pure and disinterested motives, has, with untiring energy, by appeals to reason, enforced their necessity with an eloquence the more to be admired because it was unaffected and unadornedthe name which ought to be associated with the success of those measures is the name of Richard Cobden. Sir, I now close the address which it has been my duty to make to the House, thanking them sincerely for the favour with which they have listened to me in performing the last act of my official career. Within a few hours, probably, that favour which I have held for the period of five years will be surrendered into the hands of anotherwithout repiningI can say without complaintwith a more lively recollection of the support and confidence I have received than of the opposition which, during a recent period, I have met with. I shall leave office with a name severely censured, I fear, by many who, on public grounds, deeply regret the severance of party tiesdeeply regret that severance, not from interest or personal motives, but from the firm conviction that fidelity to party engagementsthe existence and maintenance of a great partyconstitutes a powerful instrument of government. I shall surrender power severely censured also by others who, from no interested[524] motives, adhere to the principle of Protection, considering the maintenance of it to be essential to the welfare and interests of the country. I shall leave a name execrated by every monopolist who, from less honourable motives, clamours for Protection because it conduces to his own individual benefit; but it may be that I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of good-will in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labour, and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when they shall recruit their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by the sense of injustice."

On Monday, the 18th of May, O'Connell took his seat under the gallery. Seldom, if ever before, were there in the House so many strangers, peers, or members. The adjourned debate was resumed, and it was resolved that he should be heard at[303] the bar. To the bar he then advanced, accompanied by his solicitor, Mr. Pierce Mahony, who supplied him with the books and documents, which had been arranged and marked to facilitate reference. His speech on that occasion is said to have been one of the most remarkable for ability and argument he ever delivered. It should be observed that his claim to enter the House without taking the oaths was supported from the first by the opinion of Mr. Charles Butler, an eminent English barrister, and a Roman Catholic; but law and precedent were against him, and he could not be admitted. The House ordered the Speaker to make out a new writ for Clare.[See larger version]

[See larger version]In Lancashire and Cheshire the principal roads were paved; but as there grew a necessity for more rapid transit of mails and stage-coaches, we find, from a tour by Adam Walker to the Lakes in 1792, that a better system had been introduced; the paved roads were in many places pulled up, and the stones broken small; and he describes the roads generally as good, or wonderfully improved since the "Tours" of Arthur Young. Except in the county of Derby, the highways were excellent, and broken stones were laid by the roadsides ready for repairs.Whilst these changes had been passing at home, the effervescence in America had grown most riotous and alarming. Boston took the lead in tumultuous fury. In August, the house of Mr. Oliver, the newly appointed stamp-distributor, was attacked and ransacked; his effigy was hanged on a tree, thenceforward honoured by the name of the Liberty Tree. It was then taken down, paraded about the streets, and committed to the flames. The colonel of the militia was applied to, but sent an evasive answer, showing that there were others above the mob who enjoyed what the mob were doing. With this encouragement they broke out afresh, crying, "Liberty and Property!" which, said a colonial authority, "was their cry when they meant to plunder and pull down a house." This time they gutted and partly demolished the houses of the registrar-deputy of the Admiralty, the comptroller of the customs, and the lieutenant-governor, destroying a great quantity of important papers. In New York, delegates assembled from nine different colonial Assemblies. The governor forbade them to gather, declaring their meetings unprecedented and unlawful, but he took no active measures to prevent their deliberations. The Congress met in October, and sat for three weeks. They appointed Mr. Timothy Ruggles, from Massachusetts, their chairman, and passed fourteen resolutions denying the right of the mother country to tax them without their own consent; and they drew up petitions to the king and Parliament. Everywhere associations were established to resist the importation of British manufactures after the 1st of January next,[188] and it was agreed that they should dissolve themselves as soon as the stamp tax was abolished. But it is well known, from letters addressed to Franklin, that the Republican element was already widely spread through the colonies, and this very first opportunity was seized on by its advocates to encourage the idea of throwing off the allegiance to England without further delay.

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"The Minister might ask Parliament for power to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and to place all Ireland under military law. To ask for less would be ridiculous; because the Act against unlawful assemblies had failed, and, on account of its helplessness, was suffered to expire. Now, would Parliament grant such extensive powers to any Government merely that the Government might be enabled to debar his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects a little longer from enjoying equal political privileges with Protestants? The issue was very doubtfulperhaps it was not doubtful at all. Parliament would never grant such powers. But, assuming that the powers were given, what must follow?a general insurrection, to be put down after much bloodshed and suffering, and then a return to that state of sullen discontent which would render Ireland, ten times more than she had ever been, a millstone round the neck of Great Britain, and by-and-by, when military law ceased, and the same measure of personal liberty was granted to Irishmen which the natives of England and Scotland enjoyed, a renewal of agitation, only in a more hostile spirit, and the necessity of either reverting again and again to measures of coercion, or of yielding at last what, upon every principle of humanity and common sense, ought not to have been thus far withheld. But the Minister, if the existing Parliament refused to give him the powers which he asked, might dissolve, and go to the country with a strong Protestant cry; and this cry might serve his purpose in England and Scotland. Doubtless; but what would occur in Ireland?the return of Roman Catholic members in the proportion of four to one over Protestants, and the virtual disfranchisement thereby of four-fifths of the Irish people. Would Ireland submit quietly to any law carried against herself in a House of Commons so constituted? Was it not much more probable that a dissolution would only lead to the same results which had been shown to be inevitable in the event of the existing Parliament acquiescing in the Ministers' views? And was there not, at all events, a chance that the electors, even, of England and Scotland, might refuse to abet a policy so pregnant with danger to themselves and to the commonwealth? But why move at all? Mr. O'Connell had been elected by the priests and rabble of Clare to represent them in Parliament. Let him retain this empty honour; or, better still, let him be summoned by a call of the House to the bar, and, on his refusal to take the oaths, issue a new writ, and go to a new election. In the first place, Mr. O'Connell could not be forced to attend to a call of the House, such call being obligatory only on members chosen at a general election; and in the next, if he did attend, what then? As soon as the new writ was issued, he would take the field again as a candidate, and again be elected; and so the game would continue to be played, till a dissolution occurred, when all those consequences of which we have elsewhere spoken would inevitably come to pass."The conduct of Vernon, though he had been the Idol of the Opposition, and not of the Ministry, as it became known, increased enormously the unpopularity of Walpole. Though he had literally been forced into the war by the Opposition, the whole of its disasters were charged, not on them, but on him; and they did not hesitate to throw from themselves upon him the odium of all its failures. The general election which now came on was seized upon to load Walpole with all the weight of the unsuccessful war. The Duchess of Marlborough, Pulteney, and the Prince of Wales raised funds to outbribe the master of corruption himself. They incurred heavy debts to complete his ruin, and as the news of the miserable issue of the expedition to the Spanish settlements came in, numbers of those who had been returned to Parliament as friends of the Ministry turned round and joined the Opposition in violent denunciations of the mismanagement of the war. Lord Chesterfield, whilst these transactions had been progressing, had hastened on to Avignon, and, taking up his quarters with the Duke of Ormonde, obtained from the Pretender letters to nearly a hundred Jacobites in England and Scotland, engaging them to put out all their power and influence against Walpole.

[See larger version]But though the 21st of January was to be the day of the grand attack on the Ministry, the battle was not deferred till then. Every day was a field-day, and the sinking Minister was dogged step by step, his influence weakened by repeated divisions, and his strength worn out by the display of the inevitable approach of the catastrophe. The first decided defeat that he suffered was in the election of the Chairman of Committees. The Ministerial candidate, Giles Earle, was thrown out by a majority of two hundred and forty-two to two hundred and thirty-eight, and the Opposition candidate, Dr. Lee, was hailed by a shout that rent the House. Other close divisions followed. The fall of Walpole was now certain, and he would have consulted both his dignity and comfort in resigning at once. This was the earnest advice of his friends, but he had been too long accustomed to power to yield willingly. He was oppressed with a sense of his defeats, and the insolence of enemies whom he had so long calmly looked down upon without fear. He was growing old and wanted repose, but he still clung convulsively to his authority, though he had ceased to enjoy it.

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