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The next day the war against France was proclaimed, and for the righteous cause of restoring the independence of the nations. Prussia, and indeed all Germany, had now been trampled on sufficiently to crush the effeminacy out of all classesto rouse the true soul of liberty in them. Men of every rank offered themselves as the defenders and avengers of their country; the students at this moment not only sung, but aided freedom. The volunteers were formed into Black Bands, and others assumed the dress and arms of the Cossacks, who had won much admiration. They were disciplined in the system of Scharnhorst, and soon became effective soldiers. A leader was found for them after their own heartthe brave and patriotic Blucher, who had been reserving himself for this day, and Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, better tacticians than himself, were appointed to assist him, and carry out all the strategic movements; whilst Blucher, never depressed by difficulties, never daunted by defeat, led them on with the cheer from which he derived his most common appellation of Marshal Forwards"Forwards! my children, forwards!" All classes hastened to contribute the utmost amount possible to the necessary funds for this sacred war. The ladies gave in their gold chains and bracelets, their diamonds and rubies, and wore as ornaments chains and bracelets of beautifully wrought iron.

These three eventsthe death of the Duke of York, the appointment of Mr. Canning as Prime Minister, and the entire remodelling of the Cabinet on Liberal principlessucceeding one another so rapidly in the early months of 1827, were regarded as the turning-points in the modern history of England, and fraught with most momentous consequences. The first changed the Heir-Apparent to the Throne, and for an obstinate bigot substituted a prince of popular sympathies. The second represented the triumph of intellect and public opinion over rank and monopoly. "Changes so vast," writes Sir Archibald Alison, "could not fail to exercise a powerful influence on the course of events in future times. The magnitude of the change appeared in the most decided manner when the Ministerial explanations usual in such cases took place in Parliament. Both Houses were crowded to excess, both in the highest degree excited, but the excitement in the two was as different as the poles are asunder: in the Commons it was the triumph of victory, in the Peers the consternation of defeat. So clearly was this evinced that it obliterated for a time the deep lines of party distinction, and brought the two Houses, almost as hostile bodies united under different standards, into the presence of each other. The Commons rang with acclamations when the new Premier made his triumphant explanation from the head of the Ministerial bench; but they were still louder when Mr. Peel, from the cross benches, out of office, said, 'They may call me illiberal and Tory, but it will be found that some of the most necessary measures of useful legislation of late years are inscribed with my name.' The tide of reform had become so strong that even the avowed Tory leaders in the Lower House were fain to take credit by sailing along with it. In the House of Lords, on the other hand, the feeling of the majority was decidedly hostile to the new Administration, and that not merely on the Tory benches, where it might naturally have been looked for, but among the old Whig nobility, who had long considered Government as an appendage of their estates. It was hard to say whether the old peers on both sides responded more strongly to the Duke of Wellington's and Lord Eldon's explanation of their reasons for declining to hold office, or to Earl Grey's powerful and impassioned attack on the new Premier. The division of the two Houses was clearly pronounced; the one presaged its approaching triumph, the other its coming downfall. The secret sense of coming change had raised their numbers in unwonted combinations, and the vital distinction of interest and order had for the time superseded the old divisions of party."

On the 1st of September Wellington marched out of Madrid, and directed his course towards Valladolid, leaving, however, Hill in the city with two divisions. He then proceeded towards Burgos, and, on the way, fell in with the Spanish army of Galicia, commanded by Santocildes, ten thousand in number, but, like all the Spanish troops, destitute of discipline and everything else which constitutes effective soldiersclothes, food, and proper arms. Clausel quitted Burgos on the approach of Wellington, but left two thousand, under General Dubreton, in the castle. Wellington entered the place on the 19th, and immediately invested the castle. The French stood a desperate siege vigorously, and after various attempts to storm the fort, and only gaining the outworks, the news of the advance of the army of the north, and of that of Soult and King Joseph from the south, compelled the British to abandon the attempt. General Ballasteros had been commanded by the Cortes, at the request of Lord Wellington, to take up a position in La Mancha, which would check the progress of Soult; but that proud and ignorant man neglected to do so, because he was boiling over with anger at the Cortes having appointed Lord Wellington Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish armies. General Hill, therefore, found it prudent to quit Madrid, and fall back on Salamanca; and Lord Wellington, on the 21st of October, raised the siege of the castle of Burgos, and moved to Palencia, to be near to General Hill. At Palencia Lord Dalhousie joined him with a fresh brigade from England; and he continued his retreat to the Douro, pursued briskly by the French, under General Souham. At Tudela Souham halted to wait for Soult, who was approaching. THE MANSION HOUSE, LONDON, IN 1760.

The Budget did not retrieve the popularity of Ministers. Sir Francis Baring proposed to make up for an estimated deficit of 2,421,000 by an alteration of the timber duties producing 600,000 a year, and an alteration of the sugar duties producing 700,000. Both these changes were in the direction of free trade, and a still more significant proposal was the repeal of the existing corn law, and the substitution of a low fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat. The House, however, would not accept such a budget from a Government whose Premier had in the previous year declared that "the responsible advisers of the Crown would not propose any change in the Corn Laws." After a debate of eight nights the Ministry were defeated on the sugar duties by 317 votes to 281. Still they did not resign, and the Opposition in consequence had recourse to a direct vote of censure. [See larger version]

Meanwhile these disturbances elsewhere were having a disastrous effect upon the fortunes of the war in Lombardy. At first, indeed, everything pointed to the success of the Italian cause. In May Peschiera fell, and Radetzky, venturing beyond the Quadrilateral, was defeated by Charles Albert at Goito. Already the Italians had rejected the help which Lamartine offered them from France, and Austria in despair appealed to Lord Palmerston for the mediation of Britain. Well would it have been for the Italians if terms could have been arranged. Lord Palmerston, indeed, who had already sent off a private note to the British Minister at Vienna, advising the Austrians to give up their Italian possessions at once, now consented to propose an armistice, while asserting that "things had gone too far to admit of any future connection between Austria and the Italians." But nothing came of the proposal; the Sardinians declined to consent to the armistice, which would only be for the benefit of Radetzky, who was at this moment somewhat hardly pressed; and the maximum of the concessions offered by the Austrian envoy, Baron Hummelauer, was that Lombardy should be freed from its connection with Austria while Venice should be retained. Palmerston considered the surrender insufficient, and the war went on. The first debate arose on the subject of drunkenness and gin. Drunkenness had of late years appeared to grow rapidly, and to assume more horrible features from the increasing use of gin. Sir Joseph Jekyll proposed in committee that a heavy tax should be laid on this pernicious liquor, which should put it out of the reach of the working classesnamely, a duty of twenty shillings per gallon on all sold retail, and fifty pounds yearly for the licence to every retailer. This benevolent man had not arrived at the truth, that to tax a crime is only to stop up one vent of it, and to occasion its bursting out in half a dozen other places. Sir Robert Walpole saw this clearly, and though he would not oppose the Bill for this purpose, he predicted that Parliament would soon be called upon to modify its provisions. The small duties heretofore levied on this article had brought in about seventy thousand pounds annually, and, as the Excise had been made over to the Crown, this sum went to the Civil List. Walpole demanded, therefore, that whatever deficiency of this sum should be produced by the new regulations should be made up to the Civil List. The whole measure excited great clamour out of doors. It was regarded as an invidious attempt to abridge the comforts of the people, whilst those of the wealthy remained untouched. The clause proposed by Walpole to protect the revenue was assailed with much fury both in and out of the House. It was said that the Minister was quite indifferent to the morals of the people on the one hand, or to their enjoyment on the other, so that the revenue did not suffer. On the 28th of March the Ministry, as completed, was announced in the House, and the writs for the re-elections having been issued, the House adjourned for the Easter holidays, and on the 8th of April met for business. The first affairs which engaged the attention of the new Administration were those of Ireland. We have already seen that, in 1778, the Irish, encouraged by the events in North America, and by Lord North's conciliatory proposals to Congress, appealed to the British Government for the removal of unjust restrictions from themselves, and how free trade was granted them in 1780. These concessions were received in Ireland with testimonies of loud approbation and professions of loyalty; but they only encouraged the patriot party to fresh demands. These were for the repeal of the two obnoxious Acts which conferred the legislative supremacy regarding Irish affairs on England. These Acts werefirst, Poynings' Act, so called from Sir Edward Poynings, and passed in the reign of Henry VII., which gave to the English Privy Council the right to see, alter, or suppress any Bill before the Irish Parliament, money Bills excepted; the second was an Act of George I., which asserted in the strongest terms the right of the king, Lords, and Commons of England to legislate for Ireland.

Sir Robert Peel hoped that by earnestly promoting practical reforms, and improving the institutions of the country in the spirit of his manifesto, he would gradually conciliate a number of members of independent position and moderate views, so that he might be able to secure a working majority. He therefore did not resign when defeated in the first trial of strength on the election of a Speaker; and the same consideration induced him to hold his ground when he was defeated on the amendment to the Address. The House of Commons met for the despatch of business on the 24th of February. The Speech from the Throne, after lamenting the destruction of the Houses of Parliament, congratulated the country on the prevalent commercial prosperity, which, however, was accompanied by a general depression of the agricultural interest. The king, therefore, recommended to the consideration of Parliament whether it might not be in their power, after providing for the exigencies of the public service, and consistently with the steadfast maintenance of the public credit, to devise a method for mitigating the pressure of those local charges which bore heavily on the owners and occupiers of land, and for distributing the burden of them more equally over other descriptions of property. When the Address was moved, an amendment was proposed by Lord Morpeth, which was designed to strike at the very existence of the new Ministry. It was not a direct censure upon their policy, or a formal declaration of want of confidence; but it affirmed a policy materially differing from that which had been announced by Sir Robert Peel. It expressed a hope that municipal corporations would be placed under vigilant popular control; that the undoubted grievances of the Dissenters would be considered; that abuses in the Church of England and Ireland would be removed; and it lamented the dissolution of Parliament as an unnecessary measure, by which the progress of these and other reforms had been interrupted and endangered. This hostile motion gave rise to a debate of intense earnestness, which lasted four nights. It was not easy to predict, during the course of the conflict, which side would be victorious. Even the whippers-in were doubtful of the issue; but the contest ended in the triumph of the Liberals, who had a majority of seven, the numbers being 309 to 302. Of the English members, the Government had a majority of 32; and of the English and Scottish together, of 16; but in Ireland Sir Robert Peel's supporters were only 36, while the Liberals mustered 59.