"No words," says Sir Archibald Alison, "can convey an adequate idea of the astonishment which the announcement of this project of Reform created in the House of Commons and the country. Nothing approaching to it had ever been witnessed before, or has been since. Men's minds were prepared for a change, perhaps a very considerable one, especially in the enfranchising of new cities and towns which were unrepresented; but it never entered into the imagination of any human being out of the Cabinet that so sweeping and entire a change would be proposed, especially by the king's Ministers. The Tories had never dreaded such a revolution; the Radicals had never hoped for it. Astonishment was the universal feeling. Many laughed outright; none thought the Bill could pass. It was supposed by many that Ministers neither intended nor desired it, but wished only to establish a thorn in the side of their adversaries, which should prevent them from holding power if they succeeded in displacing them. So universal was this feeling, that it is now generally admitted that had Sir Robert Peel, instead of permitting the debate to go on, instantly divided the House, on the plea that the proposed measure was too revolutionary to be for a moment entertained, leave to bring in the Bill would have been refused by a large majority. The Cabinet Ministers themselves are known to have thought at the time that their official existence then hung upon a thread." Such a result, however, was most unlikely, as Sir Robert Inglis and other Tory orators were eager to speak, having collected precedents, arguments, and quotations against the Bill. These they proceeded to impart to the House. After a debate of seven nights, the Bill was read a first time, without a division, and the second reading was set down for the 21st of March.

At this crisis George Grenville brought in and carried through a measure, which showed how useful he might have been, had he never been raised out of his proper element to rule and alienate colonies. He was now fast sinking into the grave, though but fifty-eight years of age. This measure was a bill to transfer the trial of controverted elections from the whole House of Commons to a select Committee of it. Ever since the famous Aylesbury case, the whole House had taken the charge of examining all petitions against the return of candidates and deciding them. This was a great obstruction of business; and Grenville now proposed to leave the inquiry and decision to the select Committee, which was to be composed of fifteen members of the House, thirteen of whom were to be chosen by the contesting claimants for the seat, out of a list of forty-five, elected by ballot from the whole House. The other two were to be named, one each, by the contesting candidates. The Committee was empowered to examine papers, call and swear witnesses, and, in fact, to exercise all the authority previously wielded by the whole House. It was opposed by Welbore Ellis, Rigby, Dyson, and Charles James Fox, not yet broken from his office shell into a full-fledged patriot. It was, however, carried, and being supported in the Lords by Lord Mansfield, who on this occasion manifested an unusual disregard of his party principles, it was passed there too.

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.

What a contrast immediately presents itself in the generous nature of Steele, in the genial and pure writings of Addison! Both Addison and Steele were poets, Steele principally a dramatic poet, of considerable success; Addison was the author of "Cato," a tragedy, and the "Campaign," celebrating the victory of Blenheim, with other poems. But the reputation of both Steele and Addison rests on their prose. They were the introducers of essay and periodical writings, and carried these to a perfection which has never been surpassed. Richard Steele (b. 1671; d. 1729) has the honour of originating this new department of literaturea departmentwhich has grown into such importance, that the present age would scarcely know how to exist without it. He started the "Tatler" in 1709, issuing it three times a week, and was joined by Addison in about six weeks. The interest with which this new literary paper was expected at the breakfast tables of that day, can only be likened to that which the morning papers now excite. In 1711, the "Tatler" having come to an end, the "Spectator" was started on the same plan, jointly by Steele and Addison, and, this ceasing in 1712, in the following year the "Guardian" took its place. Steele was the largest contributor to the "Tatler" and "Guardian," Addison to the "Spectator." Various of their contemporaries furnished papers, Swift amongst the rest, but there are none which can compare with the vigorous, manly writing of Steele, and the elegant, and often noble, compositions of Addison. The mixture of grave and gay was admirable. In these papers we find abundant revelations of the spirit and manners of the times. The characters of Sir Roger de Coverley, Will Wimble, etc., have an imperishable English interest. The poetic and generous nature of Joseph Addison (b. 1672) was demonstrated by his zealous criticisms on Milton's "Paradise Lost," which mainly contributed to rescue it from the neglect which it had experienced. Addison, after Sir Philip Sidney, was the first to call attention to our old popular ballads, "Chevy Chase" and "The Babes in the Wood," the eulogies on which probably led Bishop Percy to the collection of the precious "Reliques" of the ballad lore of former ages. The "Spectator" and "Guardian" were published daily. Steele afterwards published the "Englishman," with which Addison had no concern, and it only reached to fifty-seven numbers. These two fellow-labourers, both in literature and Parliament, after nearly fifty years' friendship, were sundered by a mere political differencethe question of limiting the royal prerogative of creating peers, in 1719, the last year of Addison's life. On the Rhine there was a good deal of sharp fighting between the French and Austrians. General Bender had been compelled to surrender Luxembourg, on the 7th of July, and allowed to retire with his army of ten thousand men into Germany, on condition of not serving again till exchanged. There then remained little on either bank of the Rhine to restrain the advance of the French, except Mayence on the left bank, and Manheim and Düsseldorf on the right. Pichegru, in August, made himself master of both Düsseldorf and Manheim, and was advancing to the reduction of Heidelberg when he was met by old General Wurmser, and driven back to Manheim. He was, in fact, meditating treachery. Jourdain, who was advancing in another direction to co-operate with Pichegru in the reduction of Mayence, was encountered by Clairfait, and driven back to Düsseldorf. Clairfait then attacked the French forces already investing Mayence, and the garrison making a sally at the same time, the French were completely dispersed, and part retreated north and part south. Wurmser then invested Manheim, and compelled its surrender on the 22nd of November. Pichegru signed an armistice with the Austrians before joining them. Jourdain also retreated.

The spirits of the Americans had been raised by the success of attempts against the forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, on Lake Champlain. Early in the spring, some of the leading men of Connecticut, and chief amongst them Wooster and Silas Deane, projected this expedition, as securing the passes into Canada. The volunteers who offered for this enterprise were to march across the frontiers of New York, and come suddenly on these forts. The wretched condition of carelessness existing in these important outposts, notwithstanding the alarming state of the colonies, may be known by the result. Phelps, disguised as a countryman, entered the fort on pretence of seeking a barber; and, whilst roaming about in feigned search of him, noted well the ruinous condition of the fort, and the utter negligence of the guard. The next day, Ethan Allen went alone to the fortress, ostensibly on a visit to his friend the commander, leaving his troops concealed in the wood. He represented that he wanted to conduct some goods across the lake, and borrowed twenty of his soldiers to help him. These men he made dead-drunk; and then, rushing suddenly to the fort, where there were only twenty-two soldiers more, he compelled them in their surprise to lay down their arms, set a guard over them, and entered his friend's bed-room and pronounced him a prisoner. He then advanced against the fort of Crown Point, where he found only a garrison of twelve men, and immediately afterwards secured Skenesborough, the fortified house of Major Skene, and took his son and his negroes.


Another expedition, planned by the Grenville Ministry, produced no favourable result. This was to Constantinople. Buonaparte had sent thither the artful Sebastiani, and General Andreossi, to destroy British influence, and to engage the Sultan in war with Russia, so as to act as a most effectual diversion of the Russian forces, whilst he himself was occupied with the Czar in the North. The French agents had completely succeeded in their plans against Russia. The Sultan assumed an attitude which compelled Alexander to keep a strong army on the Lower Danube, thus weakening his force against Napoleon, and distracting his attention. There appeared every probability that British influence would be equally swamped in Turkey by the French, and it was determined to send a naval squadron to Constantinople to overawe the Sultan Selim, and to compel the removal of the French intriguants. Had this expedition been committed to such a man as Sir Sidney Smith, there is little doubt but that it would have been entirely successful; but it was altogether most miserably mismanaged, and therefore failed. To have been effectual it should have been sudden. There should have been no previous negotiation about it; the ships should have appeared off Constantinople, and then and there the ambassador should have stated his terms and have insisted on them. Instead of this, our ambassador, Mr. Arbuthnot, commenced his negotiations for the strengthening of the British alliance in conjunction with Russia, and for the restriction of the French influence. But, excepting Britain, Russia had no advocates with the Porte, which had already declared war. The victories of Buonaparte now in Austria and Prussia gave the French great clat with the Turks, and Sebastiani made the utmost of this advantage. He was zealously supported by Spain and Holland. In the midst of these negotiations, Admiral Louis appeared off Constantinople with one ship of the line and one frigate. Had it[537] been a whole fleet, the effect would have been decisive. As it was, there was immediately a rumour that a great British fleet was on the way, and accordingly the Turks were in a hurry to strengthen their fortifications, and make every arrangement for defence. They were ably assisted in these measures by Sebastiani, Andreossi, and a number of French engineer officers. On the 10th of February Sir John Duckworth appeared off the Dardanelles, and, joining his squadron with that of Admiral Louis, the British fleet now consisted of eight line-of-battle ships, two frigates, and two bombs. But on the 14th the Ajax, one of the men-of-war, took fire, and blew up, killing two hundred and fifty of the people on board. They had then to wait till the 19th for a breeze that would carry them through the strait. The British ships passed the batteries under a brisk fire, without replying, and on the 20th of February Sir John Duckworth came to anchor off Prince's Islands, opposite to Constantinople, and at about ten miles' distance. Now was the time to have struck an effectual terror by demanding the immediate dismissal of the French, and to have begun storming the town unless the demand was at once complied with. The whole population was in an astounding panic, expecting every moment the commencement of the bombardment; and the Sultan sent Ismail Bey to request Sebastiani and his suite to quit Constantinople without delay. But Sebastiani replied that there was no cause of alarm from the British, he was perfectly indifferent to their presence, and that, as he was under the protection of the Porte, he should not quit Constantinople without an express order from the Sultan. Had Sir Sidney Smith been in command, Sebastiani would soon have received this order, for he would have quickened the Sultan's movements by some shot and shells sent into the Seraglio; but Duckworth was made of much more phlegmatic stuff. The wind on the 21st was fair, and the whole fleet expected the order to put across and commence bombarding the city. Instead of that, however, Sir John sent a fresh message and menace. As this received no answer, and yet was followed by no prompt action, the[538] Turks at once took heart, went on fortifying and planting batteries, and continued to amuse Sir John from day to day with hopes of treating, employing the time only to make their defences, under the supervision of Sebastiani and the French engineers, the more perfect. It is almost impossible to imagine a British admiral so besotted as to continue this course for ten days; yet this was precisely what Sir John Duckworth did, and that in spite of the orders of Admiral Collingwood. By this time every possible point of defence had its batteries, soldiers had poured into Constantinople, and every male inhabitant was armed, and foaming with fury at the British. On the morning of the 1st of March Sir John weighed anchor to return from his ignominious, abortive mission. The wind was fair for him, but his return was now not so easy a matter. Whilst he had been wasting his time before Constantinople, Turkish engineers, who had studied under the French, had been sent down to the Dardanelles with two hundred well-trained cannoneers. Numbers of troops had been collected on each side of the strait, and the batteries were supplied with enormous cannons, capable of carrying granite balls of seven or eight hundred pounds' weight. Towards nightfall he dropped down towards the strait, and the next day cast anchor before passing the castles and batteries, that he might sail through by daylight, when the enemy could best see him. On the morning of the 3rd he accordingly sailed through the strait, and was sharply assailed by the cannon of the forts and batteries, the stone shot doing some of his ships damage, and the loss of men being twenty-nine killed and a hundred and forty wounded. The object of the expedition failed, and the only resource was to keep the Turkish fleet blockaded.


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The shameful length to which Congress carried this dishonourable shuffling astonished Europe. They insisted that Great Britain should give a formal ratification of the convention before they gave up the troops, though they allowed Burgoyne and a few of his officers to go home. The British Commissioners, who had arrived with full powers to settle any affair, offered immediately such ratification; but this did not arrest the slippery chicane of Congress. It declared that it would not be satisfied without ratification directly from the highest authority at home. In short, Congress, in open violation of the convention, detained the British troops for several years prisoners of war.

The example of Oxford, who made an attempt on the life of the Queen, was followed by another crazy youth, named Francis, excited by a similar morbid passion for notoriety. On the 29th of May, 1842, the Queen and Prince Albert were returning to Buckingham Palace down Constitution Hill in a barouche and four, when a man who had been leaning against the wall of the palace garden went up to the carriage, drew a pistol from his pocket, and fired at the Queen. Her Majesty was untouched, and seemed unaware of the danger. The assassin was observed by Prince Albert, and pointed out by him to one of the outriders, who dismounted to pursue him; but he had been at once arrested by other persons. The carriage, which was driving at a rapid pace, no sooner arrived at the palace, than a messenger was sent to the Duchess of Kent to announce the Queen's danger and her safety. The prisoner, John[491] Francis, the son of a machinist or stage carpenter at Covent Garden Theatre, having been twice examined by the Privy Council, was committed to Newgate for trial at the Central Criminal Court on a charge of shooting at the Queen with a loaded pistol. He was only twenty years of age. The trial of Francis took place on the 17th of June, before Chief Justice Tindal, Baron Gurney, and Justice Patteson. The principal witness was Colonel Arbuthnot, one of the equerries who was riding close to the Queen when the shot was fired, and cried out to a policeman, "Secure him!" which was done. Colonel Wylde, another equerry, with several other witnesses, corroborated the testimony of Colonel Arbuthnot; and it appeared that Francis had on the previous day pointed a pistol at the Queen, though he did not fire. For the defence it was alleged that the attempt was the result of distress, and that the prisoner had no design to injure the Queen. The jury retired, and in about half an hour returned into court with a verdict of "Guilty," finding that the pistol was loaded with some destructive substance, besides the wadding and powder. Chief Justice Tindal immediately pronounced sentence of death for high treason, that he should be hanged, beheaded, and divided into four quarters. The sentence was commuted to transportation for life.

Bolingbroke was now Prime Minister, and he hastened to arrange his Cabinet entirely on Jacobite principles. So far as he was concerned, the country was to be handed over to the Pretender and popery on the queen's death. He would not run the risk of a new antagonist in the shape of a Lord Treasurer, but put the Treasury in commission, with Sir William Wyndham at its head. The Privy Seal was given to Atterbury; Bromley was continued as the other Secretary of State; and the Earl of Mar, the rankest of Jacobites, was made Secretary of State for Scotland. Ormonde, long engaged in the Pretender's plot, was made Commander-in-Chiefa most significant appointment; Buckingham was made Lord President, and Harcourt Lord Chancellor. As for the inferior posts, he found great difficulty in filling them up. "The sterility of good men," wrote Erasmus Lewis to Swift, "is incredible." Good men, according to the unprincipled Bolingbroke's notions, were not to be found in a hurry. There were plenty of candidates ready, but it may give an impressive notion of the state of that party, that there was scarcely a man beyond those already appointed whom Bolingbroke could trust. The Cabinet never was completed. What his own notions of moral or political honesty were, may be imagined from the fact that he did not hesitate to attempt a coalition with the Whigs. He gave a dinner-party at his house in Golden Square to Stanhope, Walpole, Craggs, General Cadogan, and other leaders; but though Walpole, when Minister himself, boasted that every man had his price, Bolingbroke had not yet discovered Walpole's price nor that of his colleagues. They to a man demanded, as a sine qua non, that the Pretender should be compelled to remove to Rome, or to some place much farther off than Lorraine, and Bolingbroke assured them that the queen would never consent to such a banishment of her brother. Nothing but the lowest opinion of men's principles could have led Bolingbroke to expect any other result from these Whig leaders. Perhaps he only meant to sound their real views; perhaps only to divert public attention from his real designs, which the very names of his coadjutors in the Ministry must have made patent enough to all men of any penetration. The very same day that he thus gave this Whig dinner he assured Gualtier that his sentiments towards "the king" were just the same as ever, provided his Majesty took such measures as would suit the people of England. Time only was wanting for this traitor-Minister to betray the country to its old despotisms and troubles; but such time was not in the plans of Providence. The end of Anne was approaching faster than was visible to human eyes; but the shrewd and selfish Marlborough had a pretty strong instinct of it, and was drawing nearer and nearer to the scene of action, ready to secure himself whichever way[22] the balance inclined. He was at Ostend, prepared to pass over at an hour's notice, and to the last moment keeping up his correspondence with the two Courts of Hanover and Bar-le-duc. Both despised and suspected him, but feared him at the same time. Such was still his influence, especially with the army, that whichever party he adopted was considered pretty sure to succeed. That it was likely to succeed was equally certain before Marlborough did adopt it. Lockhart of Carnwath, one of the most active and sagacious Jacobites, and likely to be in the secrets of the Jacobite party, says that the Pretender, to test the sincerity of Marlborough, asked the loan of one hundred thousand pounds from him, as a proof of his fidelity. He did not abide the test, but soon afterwards offered twenty thousand pounds to the Electoral Prince, to enable him to come over to England. The moment that Marlborough was prepared, with his deep-rooted love of money, to do that, it might be certainly pronounced that he was confident of the success of the Hanoverians.