[See larger version] In five days he had snatched the most damaging victories. The Archduke Charles retreated in haste towards Bohemia, to secure himself in the defiles of its mountains; and Buonaparte employed the 23rd and 24th of April in reviewing his troops and distributing rewards. General Hiller, who, with the Archduke Louis, had been defeated at Landshut, had united himself to a considerable body of reserve, and placed himself on the way, as determined to defend the capital. He retreated upon Ebersberg, where the sole bridge over the Traun gave access to the place, the banks of the river being steep and rocky. He had thirty thousand men to defend this bridge, and trusted to detain the French there till the Archduke Charles should come up again with reinforcements, when they might jointly engage them. But Massena made a desperate onset on the bridge, and, after a very bloody encounter, carried it. Hiller then retreated to the Danube, which he crossed by the bridge of Mautern, and, destroying it after him, continued his march to join the Archduke Charles. This left the road open to Vienna, and Buonaparte steadily advanced upon it. The Archduke Charles, becoming aware of this circumstance, returned upon his track, hoping to reach Vienna before him, in which case he might have made a long defence. But Buonaparte was too nimble for him: he appeared before the walls of the city, and summoned it to surrender. The Archduke Maximilian kept the place with a garrison of fifteen thousand men, and he held out for three or four days. Buonaparte then commenced flinging bombs into the most thickly populated parts of the city, and warned the inhabitants of the horrors they must suffer from a siege. All the royal family had gone except Maximilian and the young archduchess, Maria Louisa, who was ill. This was notified to Buonaparte, and he ordered the palace to be exempted from the attack. This was the young lady destined very soon to supersede the Empress Josephine in the imperial honours of France. The city capitulated on the 12th of May, the French took possession of it, and Napoleon resumed his residence at the palace of Sch?nbrunn, on the outskirts.

Before the report of the committee was presented, Mr. Hume, on the 4th of August, moved eleven resolutions declaring the facts connected with Orangeism, proposing an Address to the king, and calling his Majesty's attention to the Duke of Cumberland's share in those transactions. Lord John Russell, evidently regarding the business as being of extreme gravity, moved that the debate be adjourned to the 11th of August, plainly to allow the Duke of Cumberland an opportunity of retiring from so dangerous a connection; but instead of doing so, he published a letter to the chairman of the committee, stating that he had signed blank warrants, and did not know that they were intended for the army. Lord John Russell expressed his disappointment at this illogical course. If what he stated was true, that his confidence was abused by the members of the[395] society in such a flagrant manner, he should have indignantly resigned his post of Grand Master, but he expressed no intention of doing so. Mr. Hume's last resolution, proposing an Address to the king, was adopted, and his answer, which was read to the House, promised the utmost vigilance and vigour. On the 19th the House was informed that Colonel Fairman had refused to produce to the committee a letter-book in his possession, which was necessary to throw light on the subject of their inquiry. He was called before the House, where he repeated his refusal, though admonished by the Speaker. The next day an order was given that he should be committed to Newgate for a breach of privilege, but it was then found that he had absconded.

Carthagena was strongly fortified, and the garrison was reinforced by the crews of a squadron lying there under Don Blas de Leon. If the place was to be assaulted, it should have been done at once; but Vernon lay perfectly inactive for five days, as if to allow the enemy to make all his preparations for defence. Notwithstanding this, the brave English erected a battery on shore, and played so effectually on the principal fort, that they soon made a breach in it, whilst the fleet fired into the harbour, thus dividing the attention of the enemy. In spite of their advantages, the Spaniards abandoned their forts and batteries, the English entered the breach, the vessels in the harbour were destroyed, and the passage cleared so that the fleet could sail in and support the army. There appeared nothing capable of preventing the conquest of the town but the cabals of the two commanders. Lord Cathcart had caught the endemic fever and died, and was succeeded by General Wentworth in command of the land forces. Wentworth had a great contempt of Vernon, and Vernon was by no means well disposed towards Wentworth. The fleet having entered the harbour, the land forces were all disembarked, and posted within a mile of Carthagena; but there the success stopped. Vernon had written home his dispatches to the Duke of Newcastle saying, "The wonderful success of this evening and night is so astounding, that we cannot but cry out, 'It is the Lord's doing, and it seems marvellous in our eyes!'" At the point at which our former detail of[316] Indian affairs ceased, Lord Clive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had left us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the throne of Bengal, was our mere instrument.

The platform for the chairman and speakers consisted of a couple of waggons boarded over, and Hunt and his friends had some difficulty in reaching it through the dense crowd, the attendant bands continuing to play "God Save the King," and "Rule Britannia," till they were safely placed on the platform, when the music ceased, and Hunt, having been called to the chair, took off his white hat, and was commencing his address, when there was a strange movement in the throng, and a cry, "The soldiers are upon us!" and this was the fact. The magistrates had met in great numbers on the previous Saturday, and had determined to seize the ringleaders; but instead of doing this as they might have done, at their several localities when drilling, or on their way to the town, they left this to be done after these vast numbers were assembled, and by the aid of the soldiers, which was certain to produce serious consequences. We have the statements of these magistrates themselves, as laid before Parliament, and of Sir William Jolliffe, M.P., lieutenant of the 15th Hussars, and personally engaged on the occasion. The reason assigned by them was, that they waited to see "what the complexion of the meeting might be;" but, if this was the case, they might as well have waited till some disorder took place, which they did not, but sent the soldiers into the crowd, whilst peacefully and in an orderly manner standing to listen to the chairman. Had they waited to the end, they would undoubtedly have seen the immense crowd disappear as quietly as it had come. But the magistrates were clearly excited by their fears. They had assembled a great constabulary and military force. Two hundred special constables had been sworn in; six troops of the 15th Hussars lying in the barracks were held in readiness; a troop of Horse Artillery with two guns; the greater part of the 31st Regiment of Infantry; several companies of the 88th Regiment; the Cheshire Yeomanry, nearly four hundred men, who had ridden in that very morning; and about forty Manchester Yeomanry, chiefly master manufacturers. These were troops enough to storm a town, much more to defend it from an unarmed multitude. The whole of this force, except the Manchester Yeomanry, was put under the command of Colonel L'Estrange, of the 31st Regiment, in the absence of Sir John Byng, the general of the district, but who had his headquarters at Pontefract, and who, it appeared, had received no information of these military preparations, or of the imagined need of them.

The Ministerial statement was anticipated with great interest. It was delivered by the new Premier, on the evening of the 22nd, Brougham presiding as Lord Chancellor. Foremost and most conspicuous in his programme was the question of Parliamentary Reform; next, economy and peace. Having gone in detail through the principles of[325] his policy, and the reforms he proposed to introduce, the noble lord summed up all in the following words:"The principles on which I now stand, and upon which the Administration is prepared to act, arethe amelioration of existing abuses; the promotion of the most rigid economy in every branch of the public expenditure; and lastly, every endeavour that can be made by Government to preserve peace, consistent with the honour and character of the country. Upon these principles I have undertaken an office to which I have neither the affectation nor presumption to state that I am equal. I have arrived at a period of life when retirement is more to be desired than active employment; and I can assure your lordships that I should not have emerged from it had I not foundmay I be permitted to say thus much without incurring the charge of vanity or arrogance?had I not found myself, owing to accidental circumstances, certainly not to any merit of my own, placed in a situation in which, if I had declined the task, I had every reason to believe that any attempt to form a new Government on principles which I could support would have been unsuccessful. Urged by these considerations, being at the same time aware of my own inability, but acting in accordance with my sense of public duty, I have undertaken the Government of the country at the present momentous crisis."

Some remarkable commercial reforms were introduced by Robinson and Huskisson in 1824. In the previous year the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to boast of a very large surplus, and this year he had a surplus of 1,050,000. Part of it was devoted to the repair and embellishment of Windsor Castle; 40,000 were devoted towards the erection of rooms for the reception of the library of George III., which was presented to the British Museum by his successor, whose gift, however, was somewhat discounted by the fact that he was with difficulty dissuaded from selling the collection. With 57,000 Government purchased Angerstein's collection of pictures, which became the nucleus of the National Gallery. But the main object of the Budget was not expenditure but economy. The Four per Cents. were redeemed or exchanged for Three-and-a-Half per Cent. Stock, and a death-blow was given to the old system of bounties by a reduction of that on the herring fishery and the immediate cessation of that on inferior kinds of linen, while that on the higher class of linen was annually decreased ten per cent. There was further a reduction of the duties on rum and coals, with the result, as Robinson prophesied, that lower prices considerably increased the consumption. His greatest innovations, however, concerned the wool and silk trades. In the former there prevailed a great conflict of interests. The agriculturists[241] wished for the prohibition of foreign wool; the manufacturers desired the retention of an export duty, together with free importation. The judicious Chancellor effected a compromise by which the duty on foreign wool was reduced from 6d. to 1d. per pound, while the exportation of English wool was sanctioned on a similar duty. The fear of a large exportation of English wool proved so groundless that by 1826 only 100,000 pounds in weight had been exported, while 40,000,000 pounds of foreign wool had been introduced.