[See larger version] THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA.

D'Estaing, who expected to have taken the place with little trouble, greatly alarmed lest the English should seize most of the French West Indian islands in his absence, urged an assault contrary to the wishes of Lincoln, and this was made on the 9th of October. The forces, five thousand eight hundred in number, were led on in two columns, but they were received by such a raking fire from walls and redoubts, and from the brig flanking the right of the British lines, that they were thrown back in confusion; and before D'Estaing and Lincoln could restore order, Colonel Maitland made a general sortie with fixed bayonets, and the whole attacking force fled in utter rout. D'Estaing would now remain no longer, but re-embarked his forces, and sailed away, to the unspeakable chagrin of the Americans, who retreated in all haste, the greater part of the militia breaking up and returning home.

KIDNAPPING OF THE DUKE D'ENGHIEN. (See p. 498.) There was a radical difference in spirit between the Viceroy and the Premier. The former sympathised warmly with the Roman Catholics in their struggles for civil equality, feeling deeply the justice of their cause. The Duke, on the other hand, yielded only to necessity, and thought of concession not as a matter of principle, but of expediency; he yielded, not because it was right[291] to do so, but because it was preferable to having a civil war. The feeling of Mr. Peel was somewhat similar; it was with him, also, a choice of evils, and he chose the least. Puisaye's mission to London had been successful. Pitt was weak enough to fall into the plan of sending over the Emigrants in our shipsas if any such force could do more against the Republican armies than create fresh miseries to all parties, and bring down worse vengeance on the unfortunate Vendans and Bretons. Puisaye, with the aid of the Counts d'Hervilly, d'Hector, du Dresnay, Colonel Routhalier, and other Royalist officers, had mustered a most miscellaneous[446] body of three thousand Emigrants, most of whom had been soldiers, and who were accompanied by four hundred artillerymen of Toulon, commanded by Routhalier. Besides these men, of whom the Count d'Artois, for the time, gave the command to Puisaye, intending himself to follow, Puisaye carried over ten thousand pounds, furnished by the Count d'Artois, twenty-seven thousand muskets, six hundred barrels of gunpowder, uniforms for seventeen thousand infantry and four thousand cavalry, as well as provisions for three months. These troops and stores were, after many delays, conveyed in a little squadron of three ships of the line and six frigates, attended by transports, and commanded by Sir John Borlase Warren. They sailed from the Isle of Wight in the beginning of June, another squadron being sent to take up the Emigrant troops in the Channel Islands, and land them at St. Malo, where they were to co-operate with bodies of Chouans. These Chouans were smugglers and bandits, who had led a life of plunder, and had been easily collected into a sort of guerilla force, and their mode of warfare still bore a strong resemblance to their old habits. These men, under their different chiefs, had been excited by Puisaye to combine for a strong resistance to the Republicans. They were dressed in green coats and pantaloons, with red waistcoats. During his absence, Puisaye had deputed the chief command of the Chouan bands to the so-called Baron Cormatin, or Sieur Dsoteux, who had assumed the title of Baron de Cormatin from an estate of his wife's. Cormatin was a vain, weak man, and by no means trustworthy, being ready, at any moment, to supersede his chief, Puisaye, and act for himself. If the expedition against St. Malo did not succeed, it was to join Puisaye and his detachment in the Bay of Quiberon; and transports were also sent to the mouth of the Elbe, to fetch thence the Emigrant regiments with the black cockade, and bring them to join Puisaye. If all went well, the Count d'Artois was to follow with British troops. The grand error of the whole was, that the French prince did not put himself at once at the head of the expedition, and see the different squadrons united in the Bay of Quiberon before making the descent, though, even then, it could have effected no great success.


[See larger version]

The course of business was suddenly interrupted by the unexpected death of Pelham, the Prime Minister, in 1754. Pelham was but sixty years of age, of a florid and apparently healthy appearance, but at once indolent and too fond of the table. He had been compelled to seek sea-bathing at Scarborough, and on the 7th of January wrote to his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, saying that he never was better; but on the 3rd of March he was taken ill, and on the 6th was a corpse. The king was startled at his death, for his moderation and quiet management had long held together very jarring elements in the Ministry. "Now I shall have no more peace!" exclaimed George, on hearing the news of his decease, and he was only too correct in his prognostic. Pelham was a respectable rather than a great minister. His abilities were by no means shining, but experience had made him a good man of business. Waldegrave gave him credit for being "a frugal steward of the public, averse to Continental extravagances and useless subsidies;" and yet never were more of each perpetrated than during his administration. He had the merit, which he had acquired in the school of Walpole, of preferring peace to war; and Horace Walpole admits that "he lived without abusing his power, and died poor."


Besides the grand army of the Allies, of two hundred thousand, marching from Bohemia, one hundred and twenty thousand Austrians, and eighty thousand Russians and Prussians, Blucher lay on the road to Breslau with eighty thousand; the Crown Prince of Sweden, near Berlin, with thirty thousand Swedes and sixty thousand[68] Prussians and Russians; Walmoden lay at Schwerin, in Mecklenburg, with thirty thousand Allies; and Hiller, with forty thousand Austrians, watched the army of Italy.

The coarse manners of the gentlemen were gradually yielding to refining influences, but the society of ladies amongst the upper classes was generally neglected. Husbands spent their days in hunting or other masculine occupations, and their evenings in dining and drinking; the dinner party, which commenced at seven, not breaking up before one in the morning. Four- or five-, or even six-bottle men were not uncommon among the nobility. Lord Eldon and his brother Lord Stowell used to say that they had drunk more bad port than any two men in England. The Italian Opera was then the greatest attraction. It became[441] less exclusive in its arrangements when the Opera House was under the management of Mr. Waters; but the strictest etiquette was still kept up with regard to the dress of gentlemen, who were only admitted with knee-buckles, ruffles, and chapeaux bras. If there happened to be a Drawing Room, the ladies as well as the gentlemen would come to the opera in their Court dresses.

The events that followed form part of the general history of that time. The Government well knew that they were more popular in the country than their opponents. In the few days that succeeded, during which men were doubtful if they would resign, the Minister had had time to feel the power of that popularity, and the value of the support of the Free Trade party. To satisfy the selfish expectations of the more bigoted of his own supporters must have seemed to him more and more helpless. To break with them, and to look elsewhere for the support which their vindictiveness would inevitably render necessaryto become less a leader of a class, and more a statesman seeking the true foundations of power in a steady regard to the welfare of the great bulk of the communitywere ideas naturally present to the Minister's mind. When he met Parliament again to announce the determination of the Government to ask the House to reconsider its decision, his tone was observed to be more bitter than before. His allusions to the defections of his own followers were significant; but they plainly indicated that his course was taken. "We cannot conceal from ourselves," he said, "that in respect to some of the measures we have proposed, and which have been supported, they have not met with that cordial assent and agreement from those for whose character and opinions we entertain the[514] highest and sincerest respect. But I am bound to say, speaking here of them with perfect respect, that we cannot invite their co-operation and support upon the present occasion by holding out expectations that we shall take a middle or other course with regard to those measures which we believe to be best for the interests of the country, and consistent with justice." This modest but firm defiance of the ultra-Protectionist party was not lost upon the Free Traders in the House; neither were the Minister's further remarks"We have thought it desirable to relax the system of Protection, and admit into competition with articles of the domestic produce of this country articles from foreign lands. We have attempted to counsel the enforcement of principles which we believe to be founded in truth, and with every regard for existing institutions, and with every precaution to prevent embarrassment and undue alarm."