History of England, Part III, William and Mary to 1887

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER VI: George III The Struggle against Napoleon, 1803-1815 the Regency, 1810-1820


1. [1]  had not meant the peace to last. He only wanted a short breathing-time while he built up his great fabric of despotism. But he soon fancied him self so strong that he did not care much what England did. He had now made his peace with the Pope by the Concordat, and had restored the Roman Catholic Church in France. He seized Piedmont and Parma, and sent his soldiers to occupy Switzerland. He was safe from the German side, as Prussia andAustria were angrily dis puting about their share in the plunder of the ecclesiastical states and free towns of Germany, which had been abolished to compensate the princes for what they had lost at Luneville, and were soon actually to call on and of Russia to mediate between them. So he took a high line with England, and while sending spies and stirring up rebellion in Ireland, angrily complained that Malta was not given up as the treaty required, and demanded the expul sion of the royalist emigres who were libelling him in their London newspaper L'Ambigu. England refused to


give up Malta, called out the militia, and on 18th May declared war. answered by putting an embargo on English shipping and shutting up in prison the thousands of English tourists who had swarmed into France as soon as peace was made.

2. [2] War now lasted without a break until . It was a very different war to that waged between . That had been the war of the old order against the ideas of the Revolution. This was fought for the balance of power and the liberties of Europe, threatened by the greedy despot who had already put down the freedom of his adopted country. Master of enlarged France, of Italy, the Low Countries, and Spain, the mediator of Germany, and the ally of Russia, now picked a quarrel with the one nation outside his influence. England readily entered into a struggle of unexampled severity and length. On the Continent still overthrew the old-fashioned armies of the despots of Europe, and was still welcomed, though with less zeal, as the apostle of Revolutionary France. But the English first taught the conqueror of so many governments how hard it is to overcome a nation. Bit by bit, as his designs became clearer, England succeeded in rousing up the nations of the Continent to defeat his designs of universal monarchy. Hence the extraordinary hatred which always felt for England.

3. [3] England had no ally, and threatened invasion. The attack began in Ireland. In July Robert Emmet, brother of Thomas, the rebel in '98, was incited by to attempt a revolution in Dublin, but he only managed to stir up a riot, during which the mob barbarously murdered Lord Chief Justice Kilwarden. The soldiers soon put down the disturbance, and even the Irish peasantry would not hide Emmet in his character of a French officer. He was taken and hanged, and the stern coercive laws that were now passed were the first Irish measures of a Union Parliament.

4. [4] England was fighting single-handed, and was not strong enough for such a crisis. A powerful opposition had been formed by the union of 's cousin and old colleague Lord with and the Whigs. still professed to support him, but his great disciple, the brilliant George , was already openly laughing at

"the doctor and his galipots"

('s father was a physician), and declaring.


"'Twere best, no doubt, the truth to tell;

But still, good soul, he means so well."

's chief supporters in the House were his own family.

"When his speeches hobble vilely,

What 'Hear hims' burst from brother Hiley;

When his faltering periods lag,

Hark to the cheers of brother Bragge.

Not even 's friendship could keep him in office, and in May he had to give way to , who thought that in the face of the enemy his duty was to save the state rather than bewilder the half-mad king with advice on the Catholic question. He still wisely asked for a broad national ministry. But would not hear of making a Secretary of State, though he offered place to Lord Gren ville. But refused to take office without , though good-naturedly pressed him to do so. made no heroic attempt to struggle against the king, backed by the party-feelings of the Tories. He gave up as he had given up the Catholics, and did the next best thing he could, built up a ministry out of his own followers. Some of 's ministers remained, and chose out some brilliant young men, such as , William , and Spencer Perceval, for the lesser posts. A few months later himself joined the Government, and was made Lord .

5. [5]  restored confidence by his zeal in meeting the threatened invasion. , who in May declared himself Emperor of the French, had gathered together a great army round Boulogne, and had built a vast fleet of flat-bottomed boats to carry the

"Army of England"

over the Channel. In excited the Maratha war against England. He also strengthened his naval force by compelling his depen dant, the contemptible Charles IV. of Spain, to fit out a great fleet. Like his father in , desired to get before hand with Spain; and, as was now on the minister's side, war was declared in December. But still ruled the Channel, and Dundas (now Lord Melville) administered the navy with much energy. Yet 's fireships and the Catamaran Expedition failed to destroy the flotilla at Boulogne. On land built martello towers, set up beacons, dug the Military Canal, and encouraged the volunteer movement, which soon filled England with zealous


if badly trained fighters. He also strengthened the army, though his Additional Forces Bill (which required each parish to find a certain number of men or pay a fine, and so slightly extended the principle of forcing people to act as soldiers already recognised in the militia) was fiercely attacked by the Whigs, who foolishly laughed at his plans.


Nelson's chase of Villeneuve, 1805.

Months rolled on and the

"Army of England "

did nothing. At last


saw that it could only succeed if helped by his fleet ; so he ordered all the French and Spanish men-of-war to meet in the Channel to overbear


by numbers. But his orders were hard to carry out, and he kept changing his plans. He finally sent Admiral Villeneuve with the Toulon fleet to the West Indies to meet the Rochefort and Brest fleets, which had been already ordered there. Villeneuve picked up the Spanish fleet of Admiral Gravina at Cadiz, and arrived at Martinique in May


. He then found that the Rochefort fleet had sailed home again, thinking that he was never coming; while the Brest fleet under Gantheaume was shut in so closely by Admiral


that it never got out at all. So Villeneuve sailed back to Europe, and was then told to liberate Gantheaume at Brest. Meanwhile


had hurried to the West Indies and back on a wild-goose chase after Villeneuve. He then sailed to the Mediterranean and missed him again, and at last returned to England. But Admiral Calder with fifteen ships of the line had fought a gallant though indecisive battle with Villeneuve's twenty off Cape Finisterre, and had been unable to prevent the enemy getting back to Ferrol to refit. In August Villeneuve again went to sea, but believing that the English fleets had united to blockade Brest, was afraid to sail north, and went to Cadiz. To


's intense disgust, the great schemes of combination had failed.

7. [7] 's diplomacy now triumphed over the jealousies of the powers, and a Third Coalition of England, Russia, Austria, Naples, and Sweden was formed. therefore changed his plans, and in August hurried the eastwards to attack Austria before she was ready. On 19th October he forced General Mack to surrender with 30,000 Austrians at Ulm.


Battle of Trafalgar, 1805.

On 15th September


sailed from Portsmouth on his last chase after Villeneuve. Two days after Ulm (21st Oct.) the fleets met off Cape Trafalgar.


had twenty-seven ships of the line to meet the thirty-three of the French and Spaniards. Villeneuve arranged his fleet in a close line, which gradually drifted into the form of a crescent.


's plan was to divide his fleet into two squadrons, and break the enemy's line in two places at once. The superior tactics of the English made it easy to carry this out, though Villeneuve's skilful change of front prevented


from cutting off his retreat to Cadiz. The lee line, led by


's second, Collingwood, in the Royal Sovereign, began the attack. But the weather line, headed by


in the Victory, soon

came into action. Both lines got to close quarters, and a deadly struggle between ships almost interlocking each other broke out. This


had wished for.

"I have no fear of the result,"

he had written to Collingwood,

"should the enemy close. No captain can do wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy."

The Victory, as the


leading ship, suffered terribly, and a musket ball from the tops of the Redoubtable struck


down. But he lived long enough to know that the enemy's fleet had been broken up. Twenty of their ships had lowered their flags, and Villeneuve was a prisoner. A storm broke out, and Collingwood's neglect to cast anchor probably caused the loss of some of the prizes and the escape of others to Cadiz. But the victory


was decisive, fears of invasion were over, and the narrowest strip of water became an effectual barrier against the lord of half Europe. The command of the seas was henceforth with the English.

9. [9] Nothing at sea could make up really for 's triumph in Germany, where the South German princes now joined him in his invasion of Austria. On 2d December he won a decisive victory on the snow-covered plain of Austerlitz, and forced Austria to the humiliating Peace of Pressburg, which swelled out the territories of his own kingdom of Italy, and the puppet monarchies of Bavaria and Wurtemberg. now set up a ring of dependent kingdoms round his mighty empire. He drove the Bourbons from Naples, and put his brother Joseph as king in their stead. Another brother, Louis, became King of Holland, while out of Hanover and other North German States he soon built up the kingdom of Westphalia for his brother Jerome. He also formed the smaller German States, with their cowardly and greedy rulers, now less than thirty in number, into the Confederation of the Rhine, under his Protectorship. Francis II. now gave up the vain title of Roman Emperor (which himself coveted), and called himself Hereditary Emperor of Austria instead.

10. [10] The collapse of the Coalition was a fatal blow to . He had never been strong, and had suffered terribly in April when Speaker Abbott's casting vote decided that there should be an inquiry into the irregularities at the Admiralty when his friend Melville had acted as Treasurer of the Navy. Tears trickled down his cheeks as his friends hurried him half-unconscious, out of the House, amidst the uproarious triumph of the elated Opposition. It would be satisfied with noithing less than Melville's impeachment, and , Melville's enemy, resigned in disgust. 's health now completely decayed. Trafalgar was very little consolation for Austerlitz and Pressburg. He died on 23d January , at his pleasant villa at Putney. He was only forty-six years old.

11. [11] It was impossible to keep the ministry together without , and very unwillingly sent for , who would not take office without . was forced to give way, and 's ideal was at last attained of a broad and united ministry that would sink petty party jealousies to defend the empire against .

In this Ministry of all the Talents


was First Lord of the Treasury, and


Foreign Secretary.


's ministers were represented by Windham and Lord Spencer;


took with him his friend Chief-Justice Ellenborough; Fitzwilliam, Lord Howick (afterwards Earl Grey, the leader of the Reform agitation), and Lord Henry Petty (afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne), represented the Whigs; Erskine, the great Whig advocate, was Chancellor, and the personal friends of the Prince of Wales even had a spokesman in Lord Moira.

's former views compelled him to negotiate with for peace, but though it suited the emperor to lead him by the nose a little longer, was at last undeceived, and compelled to carry on the war. But on 13th September died, worn out, like , and humiliated by failure. His last measure was the congenial task of pledging the House to the abolition of the brutal and degrading slave-trade. In February the bill was passed, with little opposition in the Commons, though in the Lords the old Tories, under and six royal dukes, voted against it.

In March the ministry resigned on the Catholic Question. The Union had joined the English and Irish armies, and in the latter Catholics could hold rank up to that of colonel. The ministry proposed that English Catholic officers should have the same rights as the Irish officers.

"I have often heard,"

remarked the Whig wit ,

"of people knocking out their brains against a wall, but never knew any one before build a wall expressly for the purpose."

Of course 's prejudices were aroused. easily persuaded him that the ministers wanted to get rid of the Catholic disabilities by a side wind, and his anger frightened them into dropping their proposal, but they drew up a minute saving their right of giving him advice on the Catholic claims.

"I must be the Protestant king of a Protestant country or no king,"

cried , and he demanded the withdrawal of the minute. On their refusal he turned them out of office. It was the last and greatest of 's triumphs.

12. [12] The Tories now came back to power. Portland became nominal Prime Minister, though the real chief was Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer. , the Foreign Secretary, and , the Secretary for War, kept up 's policy and still favoured the Catholics. But the brilliant and sensitive quarrelled with the harder and narrower Castle reagh. In they fought a duel and gave up their offices.


Portland died, and Perceval now headed a reactionary Government, from which the Pittites were quite shut out.

13. [13] In November the failure of his armies and the death of his favourite daughter Amelia threw the old king into the madness against which he had so long wrestled. , Prince of Wales, now became Prince Regent, hedged in at first by limitations like those had proposed in . The Regent's admirers describe him as

"a merry, good-humoured man, tall, somewhat portly, with laughing eyes, pouting lips, and a nose slightly turned up."

"He had,"

says the acute Clerk of the Council, Charles Greville,

"a sort of capricious good-nature, arising from no good principle, which cancelled at small cost a long score of misconduct; but a more cowardly, selfish, unfeeling dog does not exist."

He had always been a Whig, and if he had chosen he could have brought his friends back to power; but he threw them over and kept the Tories in office.

[14] In May Perceval was murdered by a lunatic.

" Had


joined Perceval at Portland's death, he would now have been the acknowledged head,"

wrote ,

"but his ambitious policy threw him out, and he sunk infinitely, and has since with difficulty kept himself afloat."

So the Earl of Liverpool (formerly Lord Hawkesbury) now became Prime Minister. He was a man with

"lank limbs and figure, destitute of elegance and grace, with reflection and caution stamped on every feature, with eyes generally looking downwards, of impervious and inscrutable demeanour, and with manners polite, calm, and unassuming, grave, if not cold."

, now Foreign Secretary, and leader of the Commons, was the strongest man in the Cabinet, and most mixed up in the popular mind with its repressive policy. Liverpool remained in office till . The Tories kept in power as long as ruled, whether as regent or king. As put it

"Nought's permanent among the human race, Except the Whigs not getting into place."

14. [15] The great merit of the Tory Government was that it kept fighting away against in a sort of bull-dog fashion, and triumphed in the end by sheer doggedness and perseverance. But it never grasped that it was a waste of energy to send small expeditions all over the world, which annoyed the enemy, but did not influence the larger struggle. It knew


nothing of continental feeling, was jealous of its best generals, and hampered by all sorts of jobbery and weakness. In the easy and foolish Duke of York had to resign the office of Commander-in-Chief because his favourite, Mrs. Clarke, had sold commissions in the army.


War policy of the Grenville Ministry, 1806-7.



's negotiations had failed, England plunged into the war with renewed vigour, but the


ministry frittered away its resources in petty expeditions. The most successful of these forays was Stuart's brilliant dash into Calabria (the toe of the Italian boot), where he stirred up the peasants against

Joseph Buonaparte

, and with only 4700 men defeated 7000 French soldiers in a pitched battle at Maida (


). But he was too weak to hold his own, and had soon to recross the Straits of Messina. In


General Whitelocke failed completely in his attack on Buenos Ayres; Admiral Duckworth was compelled to give up his attempt on Constantinople, and had some trouble in escaping through the Dardanelles; General Fraser could not capture Rosetta, and had to abandon Egypt.


Tilsit, 1807.


was carrying all before him on the Continent. On 1st October


Prussia was forced to fight the French, but the spirit of


the Great had fled; and on 14th October her army was crushed at Jena, and


entered Berlin in triumph. Russia now united her vast and stubborn hosts to the remnants of the Prussian forces. A fierce and bloody campaign was fought in the extreme east of Prussia during the winter. But after the hardly contested Battle of Eylau had revived the hopes of the Coalition, the genius and good fortune of


triumphed at Friedland.

Alexander I.

now threw over his allies, and in July


signed the Treaty of Tilsit with


, by which they divided Europe between them. Prussia was stripped of lands west of the Elbe, which went to Jerome's kingdom of Westphalia, and her vast Polish provinces fell to the treacherous new-made King of Saxony, with the title of Grand Duke of Warsaw. Sweden and Turkey were left to

Alexander I.

's mercy. Finland was filched from the chivalrous Gustavus IV., whom the Swedes compelled to abdicate, as he would not break from the Coalition. His uncle, Charles XIII., made peace, and adopted Bernadotte, one of


's marshals, as his heir.

17. [18] From to France and Russia remained friends, and , who now hated England more than ever, strove in vain to get a new navy. His last hopes failed when, in September , England again bombarded Copenhagen, and seized the Danish fleet. He had now formed a plan to ruin English trade. By the Berlin Decree of 21st November , he declared all the British islands in a state of blockade, forbade any of his dependants or allies to trade with them, confiscated all English goods, and seized upon every English subject he could catch. His first object was now to force this Conti nental System upon all Europe. England answered with



effect by the Orders in Council, which forbade all trade with France and her dependencies, and still further cut down the rights of neutrals. But England answered even better by clearing off the sea the chief commercial navies of Europe, and occupying the colonies of the French and their Dutch vassals. Before the war was over England had secured for herself the carrying trade of the world, and had built up by her conquests a new colonial empire to make up for lost America. So strong was she at sea, that she could do much more harm to the Continent than it could to her. All colonial produce, most manufactured goods, rose to famine prices on the Continent. A vast system of smuggling grew up which brought great gains to English traders, and centred round the little Danish island of Heligoland, which England had now seized, and has kept until . almost confessed himself beaten when he was forced to clothe his soldiers in English cloth, and nothing made him more hated throughout Europe than the dear sugar, coffee, and cloth which resulted from his malicious and impracticable policy. The greatest trouble which his system brought on England was a new quarrel with America, whose ships, the only neutral traders of importance left, were constantly searched or stopped by English cruisers.

18. [19] Portugal, the old and faithful ally of England, still rejected the Continental System. , in alliance with Charles of Spain, drove the Prince Regent to the Brazils, and sent the bold and ambitious Junot to occupy Lisbon. But the intrigues of the Infant (Charles's eldest son) had produced riots in Spain, which frightened Charles into abdication, and gave the French a pretext to occupy Madrid (23d March ). now enticed Charles and to Bayonne, where both were persuaded to surrender their rights to the throne, which was given to , whom Murat now succeeded as King of Naples. Never was a more wanton insult inflicted on a proud and high-spirited nation. Never did make a worse mistake than in getting rid of a submissive tool whom Spaniards would obey for his brother whom they scorned. Hitherto Spain had quietly followed his lead. But a popular rising soon set the whole Peninsula on fire. For the first time on the Continent had roused a whole nation against him. The regular Spanish Government was replaced by turbulent revolutionary Juntas. The Spanish armies were weak, ill-provided, and miserably led, yet the French could only


hold the ground on which they were encamped. Every peasant took up arms. Every straggler was mercilessly cut off. The low brick wall of Zaragoza resisted the French assault; 18,000 French soldiers laid down their arms to the raw army that had defeated them at Baylen (20th July 1808). Joseph fled from Madrid. The spirit of resistance spread to Portugal. The slowly ate into the vitals of 's empire, and all his genius could not cut it away.


Beginnings of the Peninsular War, 1808.

Englishmen hailed with delight the patriotism of the peoples of the Peninsula. But the Government was slow to see the chance which it now had. A mere expedition foolishly destined by


for South America was now diverted to Portugal under Sir Arthur


, the hero of the Mysore and Mahratta wars, but latterly Irish Secretary under Perceval. On 5th August



landed his army at the little fort of Figueras on the Mondego River. His wise plan was to keep his troops together, and strike a decisive blow as soon as he could. But Sir Harry


, an incompetent senior officer, now arrived to take the command, and ordered him to make no attack.

Vimiero, 1808.

Fortunately on 21st August Junot attacked


at Vimiero, when well posted in a strong position. The French failed, withdrew with heavy losses, and might have been forced to surrender but for


's stopping the pursuit next day.


was superseded by Sir Hew Dahymple, and it was resolved to wait still longer. But Junot showed little vigour, and began to negotiate. On 30th August lie agreed by the Convention of Cintra to give up Portugal if his whole army and its arms were shipped over to France. It was a great triumph, but people at home thought that Junot was let off too easily, and were very angry.

" Certain it is,"

wrote an English agent,

" that if your army were at Madrid, the French would evacuate Spain before you got within a week's march of them."

Sir John


, who had in


commanded in Sweden, was sent with 25,000 men to march all the way from Portugal to the Ebro, and unite with the Spanish armies from which so much was expected. Even the Duke of York protested against the folly of sending so small a force so great a distance.

"Without a moment of repose,"



to his army,

" I bid you traverse France. The hideous presence of the leopard contaminates the Peninsula; in terror he must fly before you. Let us bear our triumphal eagles to the pillars of Hercules. A real Frenchman ought not to rest until the seas are open to all."

Three hundred and thirty thousand French troops were now in the Peninsula, where on 8th November they were joined by the Emperor. Within a month the Spanish armies were crushed and scattered. On 4th December


entered Madrid in triumph.

Coruna, 1809.


had already reached Salamanca, misled by the English agents, and profoundly disgusted with the vanity and the sluggishness of the Spaniards. On learning the defeat of his allies, he could only beat a quick retreat.


hurried after him, but


moved still faster, over bad mountain roads

amidst the snows and storms of winter, with his dispirited, mutinous, and disorderly troops. Other business now took away the Emperor, but Soult followed


closely to Coruna, where the English arrived on 10th January


, only to find that the expected fleet was not there. At last driven to bay, they fought and defeated Soult on 16th January. But the ships had now arrived, and the victory only secured a safe embarkation.


was slain in the battle. He had carried through a hopeless task with the greatest gallantry and spirit.

" He was,"

says the soldier historian, Sir William Napier,

"a man of uncommon capacity and of the purest virtue. His tall graceful person, his dark searching eyes, strongly defined forehead, and singularly expressive mouth, indicated a noble disposition and a refined understanding. While he lived he scorned and spurned the base, and they spurned at him when he was dead."

20. [23]  had hurried away from Spain because Austria had again taken up arms. His tyranny had already begun to do its work in Germany, and Schill, abrave officer, and the exiled Duke of Brunswick, raised the North against King Jerome, while the heroic innkeeper, Hofer, had stirred up Tyrol against 's tool, the King of Bavaria. The popular minister Stadion, and the gallant Archduke Charles, had inspired Austria with a new spirit. It was hoped that Germany would rise as Spain had arisen. The French were held in check at the great battle of Aspern.

Wacheren, 1809.

The English ministry equipped nearly 90,000 soldiers, but did not know what to do with them. If it had sent them to the Peninsula where


was at last in command, and where Beresford was drilling the raw Portuguese troops into good soldiers, they might have driven the French over the Pyrenees. If they had gone to the Elbe they might have stretched a helping hand to Schill and Brunswick, and have stirred up Germany to imitate the Spanish insurrection. But ministers wasted their strongest army in a hopeless campaign amidst the unhealthy swamps of Walcheren, in Zeeland, where the peasantry was hostile, and the impregnable stronghold of Antwerp barred the way. They gave the command to the second Lord Chatham, who, though in appearance the image of his father, with his eagle nose and haughty manners, had nothing of his great spirit, and was thoroughly incompetent. Nothing was done inGermany, and small help sent to the Peninsula, so that


was followed by less than 20,000 English troops in the daring and desperate march towards Madrid which he now ventured to undertake.

Soult now formed a brilliant plan of occupying the ground in


's rear, while Marshal Victor and King Joseph lured the English into Spain.


now found that the Spaniards were of little use, and could hardly even get provisions from them. They kept him in such ignorance of the French movements that he nearly fell into the trap. But vain King Joseph preferred to risk a battle rather than lose Madrid for a second time. On 28th July he attacked the English and Spaniards at Talavera. The Spaniards either fled or remained inactive in their

The Regency.


positions ; but for three hours 16,000 raw British troops withstood the assault of 30,000 French, and drove them back after a hard honest fight.

Talavera, 1809.


did not venture to pursue, and only escaped from Soult, who now blocked up the direct road back, by a roundabout march over the Sierras with his sick and starving troops. He reached Portugal at last, thoroughly disgusted, and resolved that he would never again work along with the Spaniards. Yet the brilliancy of the victory broke the prestige of the French troops, and made


(created Viscount


of Talavera) too strong for the Government to turn out.

Wagram, 1809.

Failure met the allies at every point. On 6th July Austria was again crushed at the Battle of Wagram, and was forced to make peace,and surrender the Archduchess Maria Louisa to be the wife of


. The popular risings in Germany failed, and


was stronger than ever.

21. Vast French armies were now poured into the Peninsula, and the incapable ministry left to shift for himself, while the factious opposition denounced him as headstrong and incompetent. He was

" a man a little above the middle height, well-limbed, muscular, thin, with a firm tread, an erect carriage, a countenance strongly patrician, and an appearance remarkable and distinguished, with something penetrating in his clear light eye."

He now showed as much self-restraint and caution as he had before shown courage and daring.

Busaco, 1810.

Unable to keep the field,


calmly waited attack within the lines of TorresVedras, an impregnable series of forts and earthworks between the sea and the Lower Tagus, to defend Lisbon and its peninsula. With unwonted sluggishness the French delayed until the late summer of


. At the last moment


thought it best to keep up the courage of the Portuguese by another battle, and drove back the hosts of Massena, the new French general, from their attack on the ridge of Busaco (September 27). He then retired within the lines, until winter and hard fare drove Massena out of Portugal.

Albuera, 1811.




ventured on a more forward policy. On 5th May he defeated Massena at Fuentes de 0noro, which led to the capture of the great fortress of Almeida and the siege of Badajos. On 16th May Beresford and his Portuguese, with less than 7000 English troops, fought the bloody battle of Albuera, to prevent Soult raising this siege. Beresford was out-generalled by Soult, and his little English forces on an isolated hill had to bear the full brunt of the attack. The dense columns of the French pushed vigorously to the assault, but the cramped space and their close formation prevented their superiority in number being felt. After a terrific struggle the French were slowly pushed back over the cliff;

" the rain flowed in streams discoloured by blood, and 1800 wounded men, the remnant of 6000 unconquerable British soldiers, stood triumphant on the fatal hill."



had to give up the siege of Badajos.



the long alliance of France and Russia was broken up, and


put raw conscripts in the place of Soult and Massena's veterans, whom he summoned to Russia. In the spring


cleared the way for the invasion of Spain by storming with terrible loss the great frontier fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos.

Salamanca, 1812.

But Marmont pressed him hard, and but for rashly forcing a battle at Salamanca (22d July), would probably have driven him back to Portugal. As it was,


occupied Madrid on 12th August, amidst the rejoicings of the people. But he was now far from his basis, and superior French forces were rapidly gathering on either side. Again he was compelled to retreat amidst scenes of mutiny and disorder that not even his iron discipline could check. But next year the renewal of the general war in Europe gave him for the first time an advantage in numbers, for the need of keeping Spain down compelled the wide scattering of the French armies.


again advanced, this time to the north, where the Spanish revolt was in full strength.

Vittoria, 1813.

On 21st June


he won the decisive victory of Vittoria, and a series of bloody fights opened up the passes of the Pyrenees. Soult manfully withstood his progress, and checked his advance in the hard-fought Battle of Toulouse (14th April




Fall of Napoleon, 1814.

The grasping masterfulness of


had wounded the self-love of

Alexander I.

of Russia, and the Continental System was a burden too heavy to be borne. In


the compact of Tilsit was broken and the rulers of the West and East were again at war.


led a Grand Army of half a million men to the invasion of Russia, defeated the Czar's army at Borodino, and wintered in Moscow, the old capital and national centre. But he had again set a whole people against him, and incessant attacks and the rigours of a northern winter drove him back over the Niemen in a headlong retreat. Prussia, which had been filled with a new spirit by the wise reforms of Stein, Hardenberg, and Scharnhorst, now ventured to join the victorious Russians. In


all Germany rose in revolt. In vain


hurried up a new army and fought a brilliant and successful campaign in Saxony. Austria now joined the allies. The great Battle of the Nations at Leipzig (l9th October) drove him over the Rhine. His German vassals fell from their thrones, and the famous Stein sought to build up a German nation from the fervent and patriotic volunteers. In the spring of



was slowly pushed back to Paris. On 4th April, ten days before the battle of Toulouse,


abdicated his throne, and was sent to play at king in the little island of Elba, while the swords of the allies made

Louis XVIII.

, brother of

Louis XVI.

, constitutional king of France. The first Peace of Paris was made, and a Congress met at Vienna to arrange the final settlement of Europe.


The American War, 1812-14.

Another war now called off the attention of England. The Orders in Council had provoked great discontent in America, which had retaliated by breaking off all trade with England. In June


America declared war against England to satisfy the southern planters. Now it was too late the obnoxious Orders in Council were abolished. The Americans invaded Canada and failed, but won many small victories at sea, especially with their large and heavily armed frigates, which easily captured the English frigates, and made havoc with our trading ships. After the


end of the Peninsular War


's veterans were shipped off to America, where they pillaged and destroyed Washington, but failed on Lake Champlain, at Baltimore, and at New Orleans. At last, on 24th December


, the mediation of the Czar led to the Treaty of Ghent, which compromised the disputes and put off the difficult boundaries question. It was a wasteful and unnecessary war, which might have been avoided by tact and good sense.

24. [33]  could not rest at Elba, and on 1st March landed in the south of France. He was welcomed with enthusiasm by the army; his march to Paris was a triumph, and helpless fled before him. His one chance now lay in promptitude, and he resolved to make a hasty dash against the army gathering in Belgium, hoping to drive it into the sea before the great Austrian and Russian armies had assembled in the East. , now a Duke, and with a reputation only second to 's, was made commander of the English and Netherlands troops, while the daring old cavalry officer Blucher, and the famous strategist Gneisenau, led the Prussians.

Waterloo, 1815.

The allies were stretched along a long line south of Brussels to save that city from capture. On 16th June


drove back the Prussians, who held the left wing, at Ligny, but his attack on the English outposts at Quatre Bras failed. But the retreat of the Prussians forced


to retire also, and Blucher, who was not at all badly beaten, deceived the 30,000 French under Grouchy, who were seeking him in the East, by retreating northwards to Wavre. On 18th June


took up his station on a low ridge running east and west, about two miles south of the little town of Waterloo, and immediately before the village of Mont St. Jean. The country house of Hougomont protected his right, a farm called La Haye Sainte was at his centre, and others called Papelotte and La Haye, covered his left. The French drew up opposite, with their centre at the small village of Planchenoit. The numbers were about equal, perhaps 70,000 men a-side; but


's army consisted of raw English recruits and of Netherlandish conscripts that would have gladly been fighting for


. The French, to whom time was everything, began the battle by a desperate assault on Hougomont, which was gallantly and successfully resisted by the garrison of English Guards and Germans. Though meant as a mere feint, this attack made Hougomont a chief centre of the fighting. But the main struggle was at the allies' centre.

" Never did I see,"



to Beresford,

"such a pounding match. Both were what the boxers call 'gluttons.' Napoleon did not manoeuvre at all. He just moved forward in the old style in columns, and was driven off in the old style. The only difference was that he mixed cavalry with his infantry, and supported both by an enormous quantity of artillery. I had the infantry for some time in squares, and we had the French cavalry walking about as if they had been our own. I never saw the British infantry behave so well."

Both sides lost terribly, especially the close columns

of the attacking French. The battle raged all the afternoon, and the English line stood firm, though La Haye Sainte was abandoned, and the weakened left was in a critical position. But the Prussians, after a heavy march over muddy roads, were now arriving from Wavre. The last desperate charge of the reserves of the Imperial Guard failed, and the whole line of the French was broken, and at once plunged into a panic-stricken retreat. Gneisenau followed up the pursuit, and effectually scattered the remains of


's last army. The game was now up. On 7th July Paris was again occupied, and the defeated Emperor took refuge in an English man-of-war. He spent the rest of his life on the barren rock of St. Helena, dictating lies and slanders to his attendants to justify his career.



The Congress of Vienna, 1815.


First Peace of Paris



) had restored the Bourbon king, and limited France to its boundaries before


, but had given it back all the English colonial conquests, except Tobago, St. Lucia, and the Mauritius. Malta remained with England, and Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and part of Guiana were not given back to the Dutch. The

Second Peace of Paris



) now brought back

Louis XVIII.

a second time, and punished France by a slight loss of territory and by a war indemnity of twenty-eight million pounds, and imposed on it a foreign garrison for five years to prop up the throne of the Bourbons. The

Congress of Vienna

now completed its settlement of Europe. It restored most of the old princes of Italy, the King of Naples, the Duke of Tuscany, the Pope, and the King of


, but it gave Milan and Venice to Austria, whose arms alone held up the petty despots.


's German settlement was practically continued, and the double treachery of the Kings of Bavaria and Wurtemberg, the Grand Duke of Baden, and the rest, kept them on


their thrones, though with diminished territories.

George III.

got back Hanover with the title of king. Even the King of Saxony was kept, because the jealousies of Austria and Prussia made it hard to deal with his territory. The Grand Duchy of Warsaw was formed into a constitutional kingdom of Poland, of which the Czar, however, was king. Prussia received her compensation for losses in Poland in the reconquered Rhineland. A feeble German Confederation with a Diet at Frankfurt included both the lesser powers, and Austria and Prussia. Protestant Holland and Catholic Belgium were united in the new kingdom of the Netherlands, with the Prince of Orange for its king. (At the same time Norway revolted from its taskmaster Denmark, and became an independent state with the king of Sweden as its ruler.) In all its arrangements the Congress disregarded the national feeling which had overthrown


, and made its arrangements entirely in the interests of the princes. The chief powers also entered into a Holy Alliance to

"govern Europe on Christian principles."

This was really a treaty by which they agreed to help each other to put down Liberalism.




, the English representatives at Vienna, refused to join it.

26. [36] England was terribly worn out by the long war. The hoped-for revival in trade did not follow upon peace, and a series of wretched harvests, along with the New Corn Law of (which prevented the bringing in of foreign wheat till English wheat was 80s. a quarter) made bread so dear that many honest workmen could hardly get enough to eat. Riots broke out. The wretched peasants burnt the farmers' ricks, and the factory hands destroyed their masters' labour-saving machines. In some silly enthusiasts called Spencean Philanthropists formed a plot to capture the Tower of London, and establish a Committee of Public Safety; but their great meeting in Spa Fields proved a failure. The blanketeers (so called from the blankets they strapped to their backs) met at and set out to march to London, while a really formidable riot broke out at Derby in June . But the most famous riot was on 16th August , when a great meeting of Radical Reformers in St. Peter's Field (a small plot of waste ground in surrounded with houses) assembled with some sort of military discipline, and was dispersed by cavalry with considerable loss. This was called the Manchester Massacre, or Peterloo.

The Tory government was still afraid of the ghost of the French Revolution. , the Home Secretary, had no remedy but repression. All constitutional agitation for reform was put down, and the people in their distress were driven into the arms of silly agitators, like the vain and worthless

"Orator Hunt,"

or professed revolutionists


like the desperate . But there were sturdy Radicals like Samuel Bamford, the weaver, who abhorred all notions of bloodshed, and blunt, honest, wrong- headed William , who wielded an enormous influence through the nervous, vigorous prose of his .

In the was suspended, though the Government could not get the Radical bookseller Hone convicted for his profane parodies. After the Manchester Massacre the hands of the Executive were further strengthened by the repressive , but the unpopularity they brought on the Government did it more harm than the new weapons against sedition did good.

27. [37] The Regent lost his last scrap of popularity when in his only daughter, the Princess Charlotte, died soon after her marriage with the astute and politic Leopold of Sachsen-Coburg. had long lived apart from his foolish and ill- chosen wife, of Brunswick, and there was no hope of a direct heir. Frederick Duke of York, the only other married son of , had no children. So the elderly sons of at once hurried into wedlock. The sailor, , now married Adelaide of Meiningen, but his only daughter died quite young. Edward Duke of Kent married Victoria of Coburg, sister of Prince Leopold, and the birth of their daughter, the present Queen (), was much welcomed, because it saved the throne from going to the next brother, the odious Ernest Duke of Cumberland, and his descendants. Adolphus Duke of Cambridge also married and left a son, the present Duke.

Queen Charlotte died in . survived until 29th January , but he had become blind and deaf, as well as mad. He had outlived his triumph, but was unconscious how his wretched son had, happily perhaps for the nation, let his great power slip unnoticed away.


[1] Renewal of the French War, 1803.

[1] [1803-1804.]

[2] Character of the struggle, 1803-14.

[3] Emmet's Rebellion, 1803.

[4] Pitt's second Ministry, 1804-6.

[5] Preparations against invasion, 1803-4.

[1] [1804-1805.]

[7] The Third Coalition, 1805.

[9] Failure of the Coalition, 1805-6.

[10] Death of Pitt, 1806.

[11] Ministry of all the Talents, 1806-7.

[12] The long Tory rule, 1807-30.

[1] [1810-1812.]

[13] The Regency, 1810-20.

[14] The Liverpool Ministry, 1812-27.

[15] The Conduct of the War 1806-14.

[18] The Continental System, 1806.

[1] 1808.]

[19] The Spanish Insurrection, 1808.

[1] [1808-1809.

[23] The Austrian War of 1809.

[33] The Hundred Days, 1815.

[36] Distress, Disturbances, and Repression, 1815-20.

[37] Death and Family of George III.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights