Captain Dacres, of the Guerrire, returning to Halifax to refit after convoying another fleet of merchantmen, fell in with the large United States' frigate Constitution, commanded by Captain Hull. The Guerrire was old and rotten, wanting a thorough refit, or, rather, laying entirely aside. In addition to other defects she was badly supplied with ammunition. The Guerrire had only two hundred and forty-four men and nineteen boys; the Constitution had four hundred and seventy-six men, and a great number of expert riflemen amongst them, which the American men-of-war always carried to pick off the enemy, and especially the officers, from the tops. Yet Captain Dacres stayed and fought the Constitution till his masts and yards were blown away, and his vessel[37] was in a sinking state. In this condition Dacres, who was himself severely wounded with a rifle-ball, struck, the only alternative being going to the bottom. The old ship was then set on fire, the British crew being first removed to the American ship. Though the contest had been almost disgracefully unequal, the triumph over it in the United States was inconceivable. Hull and his men were thanked in the most extravagant terms, and a grant of fifty thousand dollars was made them for a feat which would not have elicited a single comment in England. But when our officers and men were carried on board the Constitution, they discovered that nearly one-halfa number, in fact, equal to their ownwere English or Irish. Some of the principal officers were English; many of the men were very recent deserters; and so much was the American captain alarmed lest a fellow-feeling should spring up between the compatriots of the two crews, that he kept his prisoners manacled and chained to the deck of his ship during the night after the battle, and for the greater part of the following day.

Austria gets ready for WarNapoleon's PreparationsInvasion of Bavaria by AustriaThe Archduke Charles driven from BavariaOccupation of ViennaBattle of AspernThe Spirit of Revolt in Germany; Schill and BrunswickBattle of WagramPeace of ViennaVictories of the TyroleseDeath of HoferThe Betrayal of Poland and ItalyDeposition of the PopeMinisterial DissensionsDeath of Portland, and Reconstruction of the MinistryInquiry into the Walcheren ExpeditionImprisonment of Gale JonesBurdett committed to the TowerThe Piccadilly RiotsArrest of BurdettDebates in the House of CommonsAgitation for Parliamentary ReformLiberation of BurdettRemaining Events of the SessionCondition of SpainSoult's victorious ProgressHe fails at CadizThe Guerilla WarMassena sent against WellingtonCapture of Ciudad RodrigoCapitulation of AlmeidaBattle of BusacoThe Lines of Torres VedrasMassena baffledCondition of the rival ArmiesVictories in the East and West IndiesThe War in Sicily.

Before the termination of the reign there were active preparations for putting steam-engines on all iron railroads. So early as 1758, Watt, who afterwards did so much in the construction of steam-engines, had an idea that locomotive engines might be put on such roads. In 1770 such an engine was actually made and worked by John Theophilus Cugnot, in Paris, but he had not discovered sufficient means of controlling it. In 1802 Messrs. Trevethick and Vivian exhibited such an engine running along the streets in London. In 1805 the same gentlemen again exhibited one of their engines working on a tram-road at Merthyr Tydvil, drawing ten tons of iron at the rate of five miles an hour; and in 1811 Mr. Blenkinsop was running an engine on the Middleton Colliery, near Leeds, drawing a hundred tons on a dead level at the rate of three and a half miles an hour, and going at the rate of ten miles when only lightly loaded. Blenkinsop had made the wheels of his engines to act by cogs on indented rails; for there was a strong persuasion at that period that the friction of plain wheels on plain rails would not be sufficient to enable the engine to progress with its load. The folly of this idea had already been shown on all the colliery lines in the kingdom, and by the engine of Trevethick and Vivian at Merthyr. The fallacy, however, long prevailed. But during this time Thomas Gray was labouring to convince the public of the immense advantages to be derived from steam trains on railways. In five editions of his work, and by numerous memorials to Ministers, Parliament, lord mayors, etc., he showed that railroads must supersede coaches for passengers, and waggons and canals for goods. He was the first projector of a general system of railroads, laid down maps for comprehensive general lines for both England and Ireland, invented turn-tables, and very accurately calculated the cost of constructing lines. For these services he was termed a madman, and the Edinburgh Review recommended that he should be secured in a strait jacket. In his "Life of George Stephenson" Dr. Smiles takes exception to the statement that Thomas Gray was the originator of railways, and transfers that term to Stephenson. Let us be correct; Gray was the projector, Stephenson the constructor of railways. But it is not to be supposed that Gray had sold five editions of his work without Stephenson, and perhaps every engineer, having read and profited by it. Yet, so little had Stephenson any idea of the real scope and capacity of railways, that it was not till five years after the running of his engines on such lines, by Dr. Smiles's own showing, that he ever imagined such a thing as their becoming the general medium of human transit. He tells us Mr. Edward Pease suggested to him to put an old long coach on the Darlington and Stockton line, attached to the luggage trucks, and see if people might not wish to travel by it. Gray had demonstrated all this long before. He stood in the place of the architect, Stephenson only of the builder who carries out the architect's design. Seven years only after the death of George III. the railway line between Manchester and Liverpool was commenced, and from its successful opening, on the 15th of September, 1830, dates the amazing development of the present railway system.

In Europe, Pitt was still bent on those attacks on the coast of France which long experience had shown were of little use as means of successful war, but highly objectionable, as fraught with excessive inhumanity to the innocent people of the seaboard. This, his second expedition, was aimed at St. Malo. A fleet of eighteen ships of the line, thirteen frigates, with sloops, fire-ships, and bomb-ketches, was put under the command of Lord Howe; but as Sir Edward Hawke, his senior, struck his flag, and refused to serve as second, Lord Anson, to get rid of the difficulty, put himself nominally at the head of the squadron. The command of the troops was given to the Duke of Marlborough, a brave man, but destitute of the genius of his father, and Lord George Sackville and Lord Granby were under him. There were fourteen thousand troops of the line and six thousand marines. With these went a number of aristocratic volunteers, amongst them Lord Downe, Sir John Armitage, and Sir John Lowther, the possessor of fourteen thousand pounds a-year. On the 5th of June, 1758, the transports anchored in Cancale Bay, and next day the troops were landed and led against St. Malo. This town, built on one of a cluster of granite rocks which rise out of the sea on that iron-bound coast, they found too strongly fortified to storm, but they burnt a hundred and thirty privateers and a great quantity of small craft in the harbour, and then returned to their ships. They then sailed for Le Havre, but were prevented by the wind from doing the same damage, and so continued their voyage to Granville and Cherbourg, whence they were driven by storm; and thereupon coasting a considerable way farther, but to no purpose, the fleet returned to Portsmouth, the main result being a heavy expense. Fox and the Opposition in the Commons called it breaking windows with guineas; and the old king, who had expressed his dislike of this sort of warfare, said we should brag of having burnt the French ships, and the French of having driven us away.

Amongst those who hailed enthusiastically the French Revolution, and gave credit to its promises of benefit to humanity, were a considerable number of the Dissenting body, and especially of the Unitarian class. Amongst these, Drs. Price, Priestley, Kippis, and Towers were most prominent. Dr. Pricewho furnished Pitt with the theory of the Sinking Fund, and with other propositions of reform,on the breaking out of the French Revolution was one of the first to respond to it with acclamation. He was a member of the Revolution Society, and in 1789 he preached before it a sermon on "The Love of our Country," and in this drew so beautiful a picture of the coming happiness of man from the French Revolution, that he declared that he was ready to exclaim with Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." At the dinner on the same occasion he moved that a congratulatory address be sent to the National Assembly on that glorious event, which was seconded by Lord Stanhope the chairman, and which was sent, and received with great acclamation by the National Assembly. Burke, in his "Reflections on the French Revolution," was very severe on Price, as well as on his coadjutors; and as Price died this year it was said that the "Reflections" had killed him, which, were it true, could not be said[384] to have done it very prematurely, for the doctor was in his seventieth year. On the 10th of January the army came in sight of Corunna and the sea, but no transports could be seen in the bay. They were detained by contrary winds at Vigo, and the last hope of safety seemed cut off. Sir John, however, quartered his troops in Corunna, and determined to defend it manfully till the transports could get up. But great was his chagrin at the proofs of the miserable management of the Commissariat Department. On a hill above the town were four thousand barrels of gunpowder, which had been sent from England, and had been lying there many months, and the town was a great magazine of arms. Sir John replaced the weather-worn muskets of his troops with new ones, supplied them with fresh, good powder, and, after removing as many barrels of powder into the town as the time would allow, he blew up the rest, producing a concussion that shook the place like an earthquake.

On the very next day took place what Burke had foreseen. A deputation from the two Irish Houses of Parliament arrived in London, with an address to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, requesting him to assume the regency as his right. Though the English Bill was now certain to be abandoned, this address was presented on the 26th of February, the day after the arrival, and was received by the prince in a manner likely to mark his sense of his treatment by Pitt and his party. The deputies were entertained at a splendid banquet; the walls of the dining-room at Carlton House were adorned with Irish harps, the shamrock, and other Irish emblems; the arms of Ireland, encircled by a glory, blazed in the centre of the table, and the richest wines flowed in torrents. But these banquetings had not been confined to this more auspicious day. Whilst the great contest had been going on in Parliament, dinners had been given on the Saturdays and Sundays of every week at Carlton House, to which about thirty of the members of both Houses had been invited, and at which the prince and the Duke of York had presided. Besides these, the attractions and persuasive powers of the great ladies on both sides had been enthusiastically called into play. The fascinating Duchess of Devonshire, who, in 1784, had so successfully canvassed for Charles James Fox in Westminster, had now thrown open her house, and employed all her amiabilities to win supporters to the prince's party. On the other hand, the more bold and vigorous Duchess of Gordon had feasted, entreated, and almost commanded adherence to Pitt, through whom it was said her husband had obtained the Great Seal of Scotland, and his brother, Lord William Gordon, the sinecure Rangerships of St. James's and Hyde Parks. The rivalries of these parties had been carried on in the most public manner, by[348] caricatures, lampoons, ballads, and popular jests. Westminster was pre-eminently Whig; but London, which had formerly been so democratic, had become essentially loyal. The Coalition had given the first shock to the popularity of the Whigs in the City, and the sympathy for the calamity of the king, combined with disgust at the prince's levity and heartlessness, had produced a wonderful degree of loyalty there.

Parliament, having so smoothly transacted its business, was prorogued on the 14th of June, and Walpole then addressed himself to the settlement of the Spanish difference. But here he found a spirit of resistance which had undoubtedly grown from the invectives of the Opposition. The outcries against the Spanish captains, the right of search, and the payment of compensation for the ships taken by Byng, had given great offence to the proud Spaniards. They were encouraged, also, by the earnest manner in which Walpole had argued for peace. They now assumed a high tone. They complained of the continuance of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. They demanded the payment of the sixty-eight thousand pounds which they said was due from the South Sea Company,[72] though it had been stipulated in the Convention that it should not come into consideration.

One of the pioneers of the science of political economy at this time was Dr. Davenant, the son of Sir William Davenant, the poet. He had no genius for drawing principles and theories from accumulated facts, but he was a diligent collector of them, and his porings amongst State documents and accounts have served essentially the historians and political economists of our day.

Major-General Brock left Colonel Procter to defend Detroit, and marched hastily towards Niagara, to surprise the American forts in that direction. But, in the midst of his preparations, he was thunderstruck to learn that Sir George Prevost had concluded an armistice with the American general, Dearborn, and that this armistice stipulated that neither party should move in any manner till the American Government had ratified or annulled the engagement. Thus Brock had the mortification of feeling that his hands were tied up, whilst the enemy, aroused to the danger of their position, despite the truce, were marching up troops, and strengthening every fort and port along the line. As soon as a force of six thousand three hundred men and stores were ready, Madison refused to ratify the armistice. On his part, Sir George Prevost had done nothing to support Brock, and this brave officer found himself with only one thousand two hundred men, partly regulars and partly militia, to repel the swarming invaders.

But the more the mystery, the greater was the rage of the English Government. On the opening of the Session of Parliament for 1737, a Bill was brought in of a most frantic and unwise character:"To abolish the charter of the City of Edinburgh, to rase the city gates, disband the City Guard, and declare Mr. Wilson, the Provost, incapable of again holding any public office." Nothing so furious and unstatesmanlike could ever have been imagined possible in the eighteenth century. Witnesses were called to the bar of both Houses, and amongst them three Scottish judges, in their robes, were subjected to a sharp cross-examination. Nothing, however, could be elicited except some degree of carelessness on the part of the city magistrates. The Scottish nation, with its usual spirit, highly resented the menaces of this impolitic Bill. The Duke of Argyll in the Lords, and various members of the Commons, denounced it as equally insulting and unjust. They were zealously supported by many English members, especially by Wyndham and Sir John Barnard, and the Bill gradually shrank into an Act disabling Mr. Provost Wilson from holding any office in future, and fining the city two thousand pounds for the benefit of the widow of Captain Porteous; and, alluding to her original station, it was jocosely said, therefore, that all this terrible menace ended in making the fortune of an old cookmaid.

"I recommend you to take into your early consideration whether the principles on which you have acted may not with advantage be yet more extensively applied; and whether it may not be in your power, after a careful review of the existing[521] duties upon many articles, the produce or manufacture of other countries, to make such further reductions and remissions as may tend to ensure the continuance of the great benefits to which I have adverted, and, by enlarging our commercial intercourse, to strengthen the bonds of amity with foreign Powers."

Alexander of Russia, having obtained all that he hoped for from the peace of Tilsit and the alliance with Napoleon by the conquest of Finland, was looking about for a new ally to aid him in freeing himself from the insolent domination of Buonaparte, who was ruining Russia as well as the rest of Europe by his Continental system, when these unexpected events in Sweden opened up to him a sudden and most marvellous ally. The Swedes had chosen the Duke of Sudermania, the uncle of the deposed king. Charles XIII., the brother of Gustavus III. (assassinated by Count Anckarstr?m in 1792), was old, imbecile, and childless. A successor was named for him in the Duke of Augustenburg, who was extremely popular in Norway, and who had no very distant expectations of the succession in Denmark. This princea member of an unlucky househad scarcely arrived in Sweden when he died suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned; in fact, various rumours of such a fate awaiting him preceded his arrival. Russia, as well as a powerful party in Sweden, was bent on restoring the line of Vasa. Alexander was uncle to the young prince, who, by no fault of his own, was excluded from the throne. Whatever was the real cause, Augustenburg died, as had been predicted; and while the public mind in Sweden was agitated about the succession, the aged king, Charles XIII., applied to Napoleon for his advice. But Napoleon had bound himself at Tilsit to leave the affairs of the North in the hands of Alexander, and especially not to interfere in those of Sweden. He therefore haughtily replied:"Address yourself to Alexander; he is great and generous"ominous words, which were, ere long, applied, to his astonishment and destruction.

Of all the expectants of office in the Wellington Administration, the most bitterly disappointed was the ex-Chancellor, Lord Eldon, to whom official life had from long habit become almost a necessity. He had enjoyed power long enough in reason to admit of his retirement with a contented mind; but the passion for it was never stronger than at the present moment. He hastened to London a few days after Christmas on account of rumours of a dissolution of the Cabinet. Having so often done this when there was a talk of a Ministerial crisis, he was called the "stormy petrel." Believing that he had mainly contributed to bring about the Ministerial catastrophe, he was dreadfully mortified when he saw in the newspapers the list of the new Ministers beginning thus: "Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst." He had not set his heart this time on the office of Lord Chancellor, he would have been content with the Presidentship of the Council or Privy Seal; but his name was not found in the list at all, nor had he been consulted in any way, or informed about what was going forward during the fortnight that passed before the Ministerial arrangements were completed. This utter neglect of his claims excited his anger and indignation to the utmost, and caused him to indulge in bitter revilings and threats against the new Cabinet. The great Tory lords shared in his resentment, and felt that they were all insulted in his person. Referring to the Ministerial arrangements, he wrote:"You will observe, Dudley, Huskisson, Grant, Palmerston, and Lyndhurst (five) were all Canningites, with whom the rest were three weeks ago in most violent contest and opposition; these things are to me quite marvellous. How they are all to deal with each other's conduct, as to the late treaty with Turkey and the Navarino battle, is impossible to conjecture. As the first-fruits of this arrangement, the Corporation of London have agreed to petition Parliament to repeal the laws which affect Dissenters."

As it was, the extreme caution of Kutusoff saved Buonaparte and the little remnant of his army that ever reached France again. Buonaparte left Smolensk with only forty thousand, instead of four hundred and seventy thousand men, which he had on entering Russia, and a great part of the Italian division of Eugene was cut off by the Russians before the Viceroy could come up with Buonaparte. Napoleon, therefore, halted at Krasnoi, to allow of the two succeeding divisions coming up; but Kutusoff took this opportunity to fall on Buonaparte's division, consisting of only fifteen thousand men, and attacked it in the rear by cannon placed on sledges, which could be brought rapidly up and as rapidly made to fall back.