The motion of Fox was negatived by a large majority, and on the 21st of June the king prorogued Parliament. But at length the thunder of the Russian cannon roused him from this delirious dreaming. Kutusoff, inducing Murat by a stratagem to declare the armistice at an end, attacked his position and defeated him, with a loss of two thousand men killed, and one thousand five hundred taken prisoners. He took his cannon and baggage, and drove him from his entrenchments. The only food found in the French camp was horseflesh and flayed cats; the King of Naples had no better for his tablethus showing the miserable straits to which they were reduced. On the 19th of October Buonaparte marched out of Moscow, leaving, however, a strong garrison in the Kremlin, under Mortier, for it would appear that he still intended to return thither. The army which followed him still consisted of nearly one hundred and twenty thousand men, accompanied by five hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, and two thousand artillery waggons. Buonaparte spoke with affected cheerfulness to his generals, saying that he would march by Kaluga to the frontiers of Poland, where they would go into comfortable winter quarters. After the army came another host of camp-followers of French who had been resident at Moscow but dared not remain behind, and a vast train of carriages loaded with baggage and the spoils of Moscow.[49]

By six o'clock in the evening the Allied army had lost ten thousand men in killed and wounded, besides a great number of the dispersed Belgians and other foreigners of the worst class, who had run off, and taken refuge in the wood of Soigne. But the French had suffered more severely; they had lost fifteen thousand in killed and wounded, and had had more than two thousand taken prisoners. At about half-past four, too, firing had been heard on the French right, and it proved to be the advanced division of Bulow. Grouchy had overtaken the Prussians at Wavre, but had been stopped there by General Thielemann, by order of Blucher, and kept from crossing the Dyle till it was too late to prevent the march of Blucher on Waterloo; so that whilst Thielemann was thus holding back Grouchy, who now heard the firing from Waterloo, Blucher was on the track of his advanced division towards the great battle-field. When Buonaparte heard the firing on the right, he thought, or affected to think, that it was Grouchy, whom he had sent for in haste, who was beating the Prussians; but he perceived that he must now make one gigantic effort, or all would be lost the moment that the main armies of the British and Prussians united. Sending, therefore, a force to beat back Bulow, he prepared for one of those thunderbolts which so often had saved him at the last moment. He formed his Imperial Guard into two columns at the bottom of the declivity of La Belle Alliance, and supporting them by four battalions of the Old Guard, and putting Ney at their head, ordered him to break the British squares. That splendid body of men, the French Guards, rushed forward, for the last time, with cries of "Vive l'Empereur!" and Buonaparte rode at their head as well as Ney, as far as the farm of La Haye Sainte. There the great Corsican, who had told his army on joining it this last campaign that he and they must now conquer[100] or die, declined the death by suddenly wheeling his horse aside, and there remaining, still and stiff as a statue of stone, watching the last grand venture. The British right at this moment was wheeling towards Buonaparte's position, so that his Guards were received by a simultaneous fire in front and in the flank. The British soldiers advanced from both sides, as if to close round the French, and poured in one incessant fire, each man independently loading and discharging his piece as fast as he could. The French Guards endeavoured to deploy that they might renew the charge, but under so terrible a fire they found it impossible: they staggered, broke, and melted into a confused mass. As they rolled wildly down the hill, the battalions of the Old Guard tried to check the pursuing British; but at this moment Wellington, who had Maitland's and Adams's brigades of Guards lying on their faces behind the ridge on which he stood, gave the command to charge, and, rushing down the hill, they swept the Old Guard before them. On seeing this, Buonaparte exclaimed, "They are mingled together! All is lost for the present!" and rode from the field. The battle was won. But at the same moment Wellington ordered the advance of the whole line, and the French, quitting every point of their position, began a hasty and confused retreat from the field.

But these proceedings had not been effected without continual tumults. On the day that Wilkes was arrested by order of the King's Bench (the 27th of April), and, being refused bail, was sent to the King's Bench prison, the mob stopped the hackney coach as it proceeded over Westminster Bridge, took out the horses, and, with shouts of "Wilkes and Liberty!" drew him, not to the prison, but into the City, and took him into a tavern in Cornhill, where they kept him till midnight, declaring that he should enjoy his freedom in spite of the law. But Wilkes knew his position better than his champions, and, stealing away, he went voluntarily to the King's Bench, and surrendered himself. The next morning, when the mob knew that he was in prison, they assembled in furious throngs, and demanded, under the most terrible menaces, his liberation. They were at length dispersed by a detachment of Horse Guards, but not until the mob had abused and pelted the soldiers. These riots were kept up in different places from day to day; and on the 10th of May, twenty people were killed or wounded. When the soldiers who had fired on the rioters were brought to trial, they were not only acquitted, but the new Parliament voted loyal addresses on the occasion; and the Government, through Lord Barrington, the Secretary at War, and in the king's name, thanked publicly the officers and men for their signal service in protecting the public peace. This only added fresh fuel to the popular flame. To protect the public peace by shooting the people, and to assure the perpetrators of this outrage, as Lord Barrington did, that they should have every assistance from Government in defending them from all legal consequences, was rightly deemed most un-English conduct. The riots spread on all sides. The British Government had done all in its power, except annuling the Orders in Council, to produce a better tone of feeling in America. It put up with many insults and violations of neutrality. It sent Mr. Foster as envoy to the United States to endeavour to adjust all differences; but in vain. This continued so till 1812, when, on the 20th of May, Mr. Russell, the American charg-d'affaires, presented Lord Castlereagh with a copy of an instrument by which France had, on the 28th of April, abrogated its Berlin and Milan Decrees so far as they related to American vessels. To show an equal liberality, Great Britain, on the 23rd of June, revoked its Orders in Council so far as concerned America, on condition that the United States also revoked its non-Intercourse Act. But this had no effect on the Government of America, which had already concluded a secret treaty with France, and was making every preparation for the invasion of our Canadian colonies. The Americans had the most profound idea of the stability of Buonaparte, and could not conceive that the expedition that he was now preparing against Russia would prove his overthrow. But they expected that Buonaparte would crush Russia altogether, and would rule unopposed over Europe; that the Government of Great Britain was bankrupt, and that they might assail her with impunity. Accordingly, all activity was used in getting ready all kinds of ships to send out as privateers, calculating on a plentiful spoil of British traders in the waters along the American coast and amongst the West Indian Isles, before they could be put upon their guard. At the same time, on the 14th of April they laid an embargo on all American vessels, so as to keep them at home; and on the 18th of June the President announced to Congress that the United States and Great Britain were in an actual state of war. There was a studied ambiguity in this declaration; it did not candidly take the initiative, and assert that the United States declared war against Great Britain, but said that the two countries were, somehow or other, already in a state of war.


On the third day Lord King moved that the Bill was not one of State necessity or expediency. This gave occasion to Lord Liverpool, then at the head of the Government, to express his sentiments upon the measure. He declared upon his honour and in his conscience that, if the Bill passed, he believed the king would not marry again. But if the charges against the queen were proved, it was absolutely impossible not to conclude with an enactment for a divorce. Earl Grey replied to Lord Liverpool, and called upon their lordships, from respect for their own character, not to persevere with the measure before them. The success of the revolt against the French in Spain was certain to become contagious in Portugal. Junot was holding the country with an army of thirty thousand men, amongst whom there was a considerable number of Spanish troops, who were sure to desert on the first opportunity after the news from Spain. What Buonaparte intended really to do with Portugal did not yet appear. The conditions of the Treaty of Fontainebleau remained a dead letter. He had established neither the Queen of Etruria nor the Prince of the Peace in their kingdoms there. The likelihood was that, as soon as Spain was secure, he would incorporate Portugal with it. This seemed very probably his intention, from words that he let fall at an Assembly of Portuguese Notables, whom he had summoned to meet him at Bayonne. The Count de Lima, the president of the Assembly, opened it with an address to Napoleon, who listened with great nonchalance, and then said, "I hardly know what to make of you, gentlemen; it must depend on the events in Spain. And, then, are you of consequence sufficient to constitute a separate people? Have you enough of size to do so? What is the population of Portugal? Two millions, is it?" "More than three, sire," replied the Count. "Ah, I did not know that. And Lisbonare there a hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants?" "More than double that number, sire." "Ah, I was not aware of that. Now, what do you wish to be, you Portuguese? Do you desire to become Spaniards?" "No!" said the Count de Lima, bluntly, and drawing himself up to his full height. Then Buonaparte broke up the conference.

We now arrive at the "Irish Crisis," the famine of 1846 and 1847one of the greatest calamities that ever afflicted the human race. In order to understand fully the events connected with this visitation, it is necessary to notice the social condition of the country which rendered its effects so destructive. Ireland had long been in a chronic state of misery, which has been ascribed by the most competent judges to the peculiar state of the land tenure in that country. It had often been predicted by writers on the state of Ireland, that, owing to this rottenness at the foundation of the social fabric, it would come down with a crash some day. The facts reported by the Census Commissioners of 1841 showed that this consummation could not be far off. Out of a population of 8,000,000, there were 3,700,000 above the age of five years who could neither read nor write; while nearly three millions and a half lived in mud cabins, badly thatched with straw, having each but one room, and often without either a window or a chimney. These figures indicate a mass of ignorance and poverty which could not be contemplated without alarm, and the subject was, therefore, constantly pressed upon the attention of Parliament. As usual in cases of difficulty, the Government, feeling that something should be done, and not knowing what to do, appointed, in 1845, a commission to inquire into the relations between landlord and tenant, and the condition of the working classes. At the head of this commission was the Earl of Devon, a benevolent nobleman, whose sympathies were on the side of the people. Captain Kennedy, the secretary to the Commissioners, published a digest of the report of the evidence, which presented the facts in a readable form, and was the means of diffusing a large amount of authentic information on the state of Ireland. The Commissioners travelled through the country, held courts of inquiry, and examined witnesses of all classes. As the result of their extensive intercourse with the farming classes and their own observations, they were enabled to state that in almost every part of Ireland unequivocal symptoms of improvement, in spite of many embarrassing and counteracting circumstances, continually presented themselves to the view, and that there existed a very general and increasing spirit and desire for the promotion of such improvement, from which the most beneficial results might fairly be expected. Indeed, speaking of the country generally, they add: "With some exceptions, which are unfortunately too notorious, we believe that at no former period did so active a spirit of improvement prevail; nor could well-directed measures for the attainment of that object have been proposed with a better prospect of success than at the present moment."