The Attorney-General defied the enemies of the administration to point out a single instance in which the Viceroy had deviated from the line of strict impartiality, yet he was the object of most virulent attacks by the fanatical members of the Orange societies in Dublin, and by the Orange press. Their animosity was excited to the utmost by a proceeding which he adopted with reference to the statue of King William III. in College Green. For some years a set of low persons, connected with the Orange lodges, had been in the habit of bedaubing the statue with ridiculous painting and tawdry orange colours, with a fantastic drapery of orange scarves. The Catholics believed that this was done with the avowed purpose of insulting them, and they thought that they had as much right to undress as others had to dress a public statue. On one occasion, therefore, they painted King William with lampblack. Consequently, on the 12th of July, 1822, a serious riot occurred, in the course of which lives were endangered, the tranquillity of the metropolis was disturbed, and evil passions of the most furious kind were engendered in the minds of the parties. As the peace must be preserved, the only course was to put an end to those senseless brawls by ordering that no unauthorised parties should presume to put their hands on a public monument, either for the purpose of decorating or defiling it. But this judicious order the Orangemen felt to be a wrong, which should be resented and avenged by driving Lord Wellesley out of the country. Accordingly, certain members of the Orange Society, amounting to nearly one hundred, entered into a conspiracy to mob him in the theatre. They were supplied with pit-tickets, and assembling early at the door, they rushed in, and took possession of the seat immediately under the Viceregal box. Other parties of them went to the galleries. They agreed upon the watchword, "Look out." They had previously printed handbills, which were freely distributed in and about the theatre, containing insulting expressions, such as "Down with the Popish Government!" Before the Viceroy arrived, they had been crying for groans for the "Popish Lord-Lieutenant," for the house of Wellesley, for the Duke of Wellington. When the marquis arrived he was received with general cheering, that overbore the Orange hisses; but during the playing of the National Anthem the offensive noise became so alarming that some of the audience[248] left the theatre. At this moment a bottle was flung from one of the galleries, which was supposed to be aimed at the head of the Lord-Lieutenant, and which fell near his box. Sir Henry arrived at Calcutta in September, 1844. He found that tranquillity prevailed throughout the empire, and applied his energies to the formation of railways. But he had soon to encounter the exigencies of war. Notwithstanding the stringent injunctions he had received to cultivate the most amicable spirit with the Sikhs, he was obliged to tax the resources of the empire in maintaining with them one of the most desperate conflicts recorded in Indian history. The Sikhs were a warlike race, distinguished not less by fanaticism than bravery. They were bound together and inspired by the most powerful religious convictionsa tall, muscular, and athletic race of men, full of patriotic ardour, elevated by an ancient faith. They were confederated in various provinces, to the number of about 7,000,000. They were accustomed to ride upon fleet horses, and had organised an effective cavalry, while their infantry had been disciplined by French and Italian officers. They could, if necessary, bring into the field 260,000 fighting men; but their regular army now consisted of 73,000 men with 200 pieces of artillery. Settled chiefly in the Punjab, a country of extraordinary fertility, they also abounded in Mooltan, Afghanistan, and Cashmere, celebrated from the most ancient times as the favoured abode of manufacturing industry, social order, wealth, and happiness. This warlike race had been governed by Runjeet Singh, a chief of extraordinary ability, energy, and determination. He had but one eye; he was deeply marked with the small-pox; his aspect was repulsive, and his manner rude; yet was he looked up to by this great people with respectful homage, and obeyed with implicit trust. While he lived he maintained an alliance with the British Government; but after his death the Sikhs were divided into two factionsone headed by Gholab Singh, and professing to be favourable to the British; the other by the Ranee, who yielded to the clamours of the unpaid soldiers to be led against the English. Accordingly the[597] military forces of the Sikhs were ordered to march down to the Sutlej. But their intended attack was prevented by the astrologers, who declared that the auspicious day for marching had not yet arrived. Sir Henry Hardinge, however, in common with the most experienced officers of the Indian Government, did not think the Sikh army would cross the Sutlej with its infantry and artillery, or that they would have recourse to offensive operations on a large scale. Up to this period it had committed no act of aggression. In 1843 and 1844 it had moved down the river from Lahore, and after remaining there encamped a few weeks, had returned to the capital. These reasons, and, above all, his extreme anxiety to avoid hostilities, induced him not to make any hasty movement with his army, which, when the two armies came into each other's presence, might bring about a collision. This moderation, however, was misconstrued by the Sikhs. They supposed that the British were afraid to encounter them. Accordingly, on the night of the 9th of December, 1845, a portion of the Sikh army appeared within three miles of the Sutlej; and information was received by our garrison at Ferozepore that preparations were making on a large scale for the movement of infantry, artillery, and stores from the Sikh capital, Lahore. On the 12th of December the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej, and concentrated in great force on the British side of the river. The British reserves, meanwhile, were advancing to meet this formidable enemy; but they were still far off, and Ferozepore had but a garrison of 9,500 men to withstand an army of 60,000 with 100 guns! Sir Charles Napier wrote in his "Memoirs" that he did not think history would let off Sir Henry Hardinge for allowing such an army to cross the river unmolested, and entrench itself on the other side. It is quite certain that Sir Charles would not have given them such an advantage. But their generals did not know how to use it. Sir Henry Hardinge had hastened in person to assist General Gough in conducting the operations against the enemy, and both putting themselves at the head of the advanced guard, they were followed by the reserves, marching at the rate of twenty-six miles a day, full of excitement at the prospect of more fighting. The massacre of Savenay had not settled La Vende. In the spring of 1794 armed parties were again on foot. The largest body was that under Charette, posted on the Isle Noirmoutier, to which many of the fugitives who escaped from the massacre of Savenay betook themselves. Amongst these was the wounded General D'Elbe, with his wife, and a brother of Cathelinau. Charette quitted the isle to make an attack on some of the Republican troops left in small bodies in the country, consigning the care of the sick and wounded to the protection of a garrison of one thousand eight hundred men. This garrison was soon corrupted by the Republican general, Turreau; it surrendered, and D'Elbe and his wife were both shot, and the sick and wounded treated with merciless cruelty. This was about the only place of any strength left the Vendans; but a worse misfortune was at hand. The young and chivalrous Henri La Roche-Jaquelein, marching, at the head of a body of his own peasantry, between Trementine and Nouaill, met two Republican soldiers. The count generously offered them quarter; but, instead of accepting it, one of them instantly levelled his musket and shot him through the head. The two soldiers were immediately dispatched by his followers and, supposing that a Republican column must be at hand, they buried the three hastily in one grave and fled. The young count was only in his twenty-first year, and with him died the hopes and confidence of his peasantry. Stofflet succeeded him in the command of his people, but Charette might be considered the Commander-in-Chief of the Vendans.

Colonel Gardiner endeavoured to charge the advancing enemy with his dragoons; but it was in vain that he attempted to animate their craven souls by word and exampleat the first volley of the Highlanders they wheeled and fled. The same disgraceful scene took place on the left, at nearly the same moment. Hamilton's regiment of horse dispersed at the first charge of the Macdonalds, leaving the centre exposed on both its flanks. The infantry made a better stand than the cavalry; it discharged a steady and well-directed volley on the advancing Highlanders, and killed some of their best men, amongst others, a son of the famous Rob Roy. But the Highlanders did not give them time for a second volley; they were up with them, dashed aside their bayonets with their targets, burst through their ranks in numerous places, so that the whole, not being able to give way on account of the park wall of Preston, were thrown into confusion, and at the mercy of the foe. Never was a battle so instantly decidedit is said not to have lasted more than five or six minutes; never was a defeat more absolute. Sir John Cope, or Johnnie Cope, as he will be styled in Scotland to the end of time, by the assistance of the Earls of Loudon and Home, collected about four hundred and fifty of the recreant dragoons, and fled to Coldstream that night. There not feeling secure, they continued their flight till they reached Berwick, where Sir Mark Kerr received Cope with the[97] sarcastic but cruelly true remark that he believed that he was the first general on record who had carried the news of his own defeat. From the 11th of February to the 1st of March the struggle went on, many endeavours being made, but without effect, to come to an agreement between the parties. On the last day Fox moved that an Address be carried up to the king by the whole House, representing the violence done to the Constitution by a Minister retaining his place after a vote of want of confidence by the Commons, and insisting strongly on the right and duty of that House to advise his Majesty on the exercise of his prerogative. Pitt replied that, by attempting to force the king to decide contrary to his judgment, they were placing the sceptre under the mace; but the resolution was carried by a majority, though of twelve only, and on the 4th the Address was carried up, when the king repeated that his sentiments remained the same. Fox, on the return of the House, moved that this answer should not be taken into consideration before the 8th, and till then the Mutiny Bill should remain in abeyance. His object was to stave off a dissolution until the 25th, when the Mutiny Bill expired. By refusing to renew it, he hoped to force his rival to resign. The House on the 8th was excessively crowded, for a very warm debate was anticipated. When it came to divide about midnight, Fox was found to have carried his resolution, but only by a majority of one. This was the climax of defeat. The once triumphant Opposition saw that all was over with them, and they gave up the contest.

In wood engraving, Thomas Bewick, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, revived the art, and threw such fascination into it by the exquisite tail-pieces in his "Natural History," that his name will always be associated with this style of engraving. [See larger version]

The Budget excited extraordinary interest throughout the country; but the proposed sugar duties were, in the eyes of the Free Traders, objectionable, as maintaining the differential rates in favour of the West Indian landlords. Though well received on the whole, it was impossible not to see in the Budget traces of the anomalous position of the Minister. One newspaper described his measures as combining the most glaring inconsistencies that ever disfigured the policy of any Minister, and arranged in parallel columns illustrations of its assertion. Sir Robert Peel was charged with proposing at the same time a tariff whose[516] express object was declared to be to cheapen the necessaries of life and corn, and provision laws whose sole object was to make the chief necessaries of life dear; with professing great concern to relieve trade and commerce, for the sake of which a property tax was proposed, combined with a still greater concern to uphold the rent of land, for the sake of which trade and commerce were loaded with a bread tax; with devising taxes for the mere purpose of revenue; with levying taxes for the mere purpose of protection; with repealing the duty on slave-grown cotton, while imposing prohibitory duties on slave-grown sugar; with encouraging Brazilian coffee and cotton, while refusing Brazilian sugar; and with admitting cheap slave-grown sugar to be refined in Britain, and sold to Continental nations, while forbidding the selfsame cheap sugar to our own working people. Still, there was progress. The Corn Law was untouched, but statesmen of all parties had spoken despairingly of its continuance.

In the meantime, the Catholic Association was pursuing its work with increasing vigour and determination. It resolved thenceforth to support no candidate who should not pledge himself to oppose every Government that did not make Emancipation a Cabinet measure. Provincial meetings were held in Clonmel, Kilkenny, and Mullingar; the chair at the last place being occupied by the Marquis of Westmeath. Between the two extreme parties there were many moderate men, of high social position, anxious for something like a compromise. Some of these were in confidential communication with Lord Anglesey's Government, and it was thought desirable to establish a Liberal platform, with a view to moderating the violence of Catholics and Brunswickers.


It may be as well to dispose here of the Irish Church question; for although Lord Morpeth, on the part of the Melbourne Administration, brought in a Bill for settling the Tithe question, which passed the House of Commons by a majority of 26 votes, and contained the appropriation clausein the House of Lords this clause was struck out, and the Bill was otherwise altered in committee so materially that, when sent back to the Commons, they scarcely knew their own offspring. The Bill was therefore disowned, and thrown out.

The general election brought a large accession of strength to the Reform Party. The new Parliament met on the 21st of June, and Mr. Manners Sutton was again elected Speaker. In the Speech from the Throne the king said, "Having had recourse to the dissolution of Parliament, for the purpose of ascertaining the sense of my people on the expediency of a Reform in the Representation, I have now to recommend that important question to your earliest and most attentive consideration, confident that, in any measures which you may prepare for its adjustment, you will adhere to the acknowledged principles of the Constitution, by which the rights of the Crown, the authority of both Houses of Parliament, and the rights and liberties of the people are equally secured." The usual assurances were then given of the friendly disposition of all foreign Powers; reference was made to the contest then going on in Poland, to the Belgian Revolution, and the right of its people to regulate their own affairs, so long as the exercise of it did not endanger the security of neighbouring States. A paragraph was devoted to Portugal, lamenting that diplomatic relations with its Government could not be re-established, though a fleet had been sent to enforce our demands of satisfaction. Strict economy was recommended, in the stereotype phraseology of Royal Speeches. Having referred to reduction of taxation, the state of the revenue, and to the desire to assist the industry of the country, by legislation on sound principles, the Speech described the appearance of Asiatic cholera, and the precautions that had been taken to prevent its introduction into England. The rest of the Speech was devoted to Ireland, where "local disturbances, unconnected with political causes," had taken place in various districts, especially in Clare, Galway, and Roscommon, for the repression of which the constitutional authority of the law had been vigorously and successfully applied; and thus the necessity of enacting new laws to strengthen the executive had been avoided, to avert which, the king said, would ever be his most earnest desire.

THE RETREAT FROM MOSCOW. (After the Picture by Meissonier.)