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Well-disposed people happily comprised the great mass of the population of all ranks and classes, who responded with alacrity to the appeal of the Government for co-operation. Great alarm was felt in the metropolis lest there should be street-fighting and plundering, and it might be said that society itself had taken effective measures for its own defence. The 10th of April, 1848, will be a day for ever remembered with pride by Englishmen, and posterity will read of it with admiration. In the morning nothing unusual appeared in the streets, except that the shops were mostly closed, the roar of traffic was suspended, and an air of quiet pervaded the metropolis. No less than 170,000 men, from the highest nobility down to the humblest shopkeeper, had been enrolled and sworn as special constablesa great army of volunteers, who came forward spontaneously for the defence of the Government. In every street these guardians of the peace might be seen pacing up and down upon their respective beats, and under their respective officers. Among them was Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, acting as a private, under the command of the Earl of Eglinton. No soldiers appeared in the streets; but, during the previous night, the Duke of Wellington had taken the most effective measures to prevent any violation of the peace. Strong bodies of foot and horse police were placed at the ends of the bridges, over which the Chartists must pass from Kennington Common to Westminster, and these were assisted by large numbers of special constables, posted on the approaches at each side. And lest these should be overpowered by the Chartists in attempting to force a passage, a strong force of militaryhorse, foot, and artillerywas kept concealed from view in the immediate neighbourhood. The public buildings were all occupied by troops and strongly fortified. Two regiments of the line were stationed at Millbank Penitentiary. There were 1,200 infantry at the Deptford Dockyards. At the Tower 30 pieces of heavy field ordnance were ready to be shipped by hired steamers to any spot where their services might be required. The public offices at the West-end, Somerset House, and in the City, were occupied by troops and stored with arms. The Bank of England was strongly fortified, sandbags being piled all round upon the roof, as parapets to protect the gunners, while the interior was filled with soldiers. There were also similar barricades to the windows, with loopholes for muskets. In the space of Rose Inn Yard, at the end of Farringdon Street, a large body of troops was posted ready to move at a moment's notice, and another in the enclosure of Bridewell Prison. At several points immediately about Kennington Common, commanding the whole space, bodies of soldiers were placed out of view, but ready for instant action. The Guardshorse and footwere all under arms, in Scotland Yard and in other places.

[570] PARISHES. [584]

For this Keppel was much blamed, as it was considered that the papers might have been made out in order to deceive him. The number of the French fleet, however, soon proved to be correct, for, during Keppel's absence, it sailed out of Brest, under the command of Admiral D'Orvilliers. Keppel, returning with his squadron augmented to thirty vessels of the line, found D'Orvilliers out at sea, and the Lively, twenty-gun brig, which he had left to watch the motions of the French, surprised by them in a fog, and captured. On the 27th of July Keppel came up with D'Orvilliers off Ushant, and instantly gave battle. The two fleets passed each other on different tacks, keeping up a furious cannonade for two hours. Keppel then signalled his second in command, Sir Hugh Palliser, to wear round and renew the attack; but Palliser had received so much injury, that he could not or did not obey the signal. Keppel, therefore, bore down to join Palliser's division, and formed afresh for the fight. But by this time D'Orvilliers was making for Brest as fast as he could, claiming a victory. Night came down, and the next morning the French fleet was nearly out of sight. On this, Keppel returned to England to refit, much out of humour with Palliser.

And, for some time, events seemed to justify these apprehensions by the old governing class. Not a plan of Pitt's but failed. His first enterprise was one of that species that has almost universally faileda descent on the coast of France. Early in September a fleet of sixteen ships of the line, attended by transports and frigates, was despatched to Rochefort, carrying ten regiments of foot, under the command of Sir John Mordaunt. Sir Edward Hawke commanded the fleet, and the troops were landed[127] on a small fortified island named Aix, at the mouth of the Charente. There, in spite of strict orders, the English soldiers and sailors became awfully drunk, and committed shocking excesses and cruelties on the inhabitants. The rumour of this made the forces in Rochefort furious for vengeance; and when the army was to be landed within a few miles of the place in order to its attack, as usual in such cases, the admiral and general came to an open quarrel. Mordaunt betrayed great timidity, and demanded of Hawke how the troops, in case of failure, were to be brought off again. Hawke replied, that must depend on wind and tidean answer which by no means reassured Mordaunt. General Conway, next in command to Mordaunt, was eager for advancing to the attack; and Colonel Wolfeafterwards the conqueror of Quebecoffered to make himself master of Rochefort with three ships of war and five hundred men at his disposal. The brave offer was rejected, but the report of it at once pointed out Wolfe to Pitt as one of the men whom he was on the look-out to work with. Howe, the next in command to Hawke, proposed to batter down the fort of Fouras before advancing on Rochefort; but Mordaunt adopted the resort of all timid commandersa council of warwhich wasted the time in which the assault should have been made, and then it was declared useless to attempt it; the fortifications of Aix were destroyed, and the fleet put back. Mordaunt, like Byng, was brought before a court-martial, but with very different results. He was honourably acquittedperhaps, under the atrocious 12th Article of War, the Court feared even to censure; and it was said by the people that Byng was shot for not doing enough, and Mordaunt acquitted for doing nothing at all.

On the 26th of August Massena arrived before Almeida, a strongly fortified town not thirty miles from Ciudad Rodrigo. Wellington hoped that it would detain him at least a month, for it had a good Portuguese garrison, commanded by Colonel Cox, an English officer: and he himself drew near, to be able to seize any opportunity of damaging the besiegers. But in the night of the 27th there was a terrible explosion of a powder magazine, which threw down part of the wall, and made the place untenable. Treachery was immediately suspected, and what followed was sufficient proof of it; for the Portuguese major, whom Colonel Cox sent to settle the terms of the capitulation, went over to the French, and was followed by a whole Portuguese regiment with the exception of its British officers. This was a great disappointment to Lord Wellington, whose plan was to detain Massena till the rainy season set in, when he would at once find himself embarrassed by bridgeless floods and in intolerable roads, and, as he hoped and had ordered, in a country without people and without provisions.

Before passing to the momentous history of the Irish famine we must notice some isolated facts connected with the Peel Administration, which our connected view of the triumph of Free Trade has prevented our mentioning under their proper dates. Among the many measures of the time which were fiercely discussed, the most complicated were the Bank Charter Act of 1844, and the Act dealing with the Irish and Scottish Banks of 1845, whereby the Premier placed the whole banking system of the kingdom upon an entirely new basis, in particular by the separation of the issue and banking business of the Bank of England, and by the determination of the issues by the amount of bullion in reserve. Under the Act the Bank was at liberty to issue 14,000,000 of notes on the security of Exchequer Bills and the debt due to it from the Government, but all issues above this amount were to be based on bullion. Still hotter were the passions roused by the Maynooth Bill, by which 30,000 were devoted to the improvement of the college founded at Maynooth for the education of Roman Catholic priests. The language used during the debates by the Protestant party has few parallels in the history of the British Parliament, and Sir Robert Peel's difficulties were increased by the resignation of Mr. Gladstone, who found his present support of the Bill incompatible with the opinions expressed in his famous essay on Church and State. Lord Aberdeen's foreign policy was completely the reverse of the bold, if hazardous, line adopted by Lord Palmerston. We have seen how the Ashburton mission composed the critical questions at issue with the United States, and in similar fashion a dispute about the Oregon boundary, which had been pending for thirty years, was terminated on sound principles of give-and-take by fixing the line at the 49th parallel, while Vancouver Island was reserved for Britain, and the commerce of the Columbia was made free. With France our relations were of the most pacific character; so close, indeed, was the entente cordiale that it was a commonplace of Tory oratory that M. Guizot was Foreign Minister of England. This was certainly not the case; on the contrary, when the Society Islands, over which Pomare was queen, were forcibly annexed by a roving French admiral, Lord Aberdeen behaved with very proper spirit, and obtained an indemnity for the missionary Pritchard, who had been forcibly placed under arrest. In other respects the friendship of Great Britain with France continued unimpaired, and there was an interchange of visits between the Queen and King Louis Philippe. It was a sign of a harmony of views between the two nations. Unfortunately, owing to a variety of causes, it was not to be of long continuance.

On the 17th of March a proclamation was placarded at the gates of the palace, announcing that the king was resolved to remain and share the fate of his people. Great were the acclamations and rejoicings; but, towards evening, the crowds that still lingered around the royal residence saw unmistakable signs of departure: there was an active movement amongst the Guards; carriages and baggage were becoming apparent, and the agitation of the people grew intense. The Prince of Asturias and his brother protested against the departure; bodies of soldiers, in open revolt, began to assemble, and the people cried that they would have the head of the traitor, Godoy. From angry words the populace and revolted soldiers came to blows with the Household Troops. Godoy's brother led up a regiment against the rioters, but the men seized him, and joined the people. Whilst one crowd surrounded the Palace of Aranjuez, another rushed to the house of Godoy to seize and kill him. They ran all over his house, but could not discover him. The tumult continued all night, but was somewhat appeased the next morning by a Royal proclamation, which announced that the king had dismissed him from his offices. This did not, however, prevent the people continuing the search for Godoy, who was at length discovered by a Life-Guardsman in a garret of his own house, where he had been concealed between two mattresses. Compelled to come forth by heat and thirst, he was dragged into the street, soundly beaten, and would soon have been put to death, had not the Prince of Asturias, at the urgent entreaty of the king and queen, interceded, declaring that he should be tried for his crimes, and duly punished. Godoy was committed to custody, in the Castle of Villaviciosa: his property was confiscated; and, on the 19th, the king, terrified at the still hostile aspect of the people, proclaimed his own resignation in favour of Ferdinand, their favourite; in truth, as little deserving of their favour, by any moral or intellectual quality, as the king himself. The abdication was formally communicated by letter to Napoleon, whose troops, under Murat, were, during these tumults, now rapidly advancing on Madrid.