TEN ENGLISHMEN OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
By James Richard Joy
To My Daughter Helen With Her Father's Love
The object of this work is to set forth with as much clearness as possible the more important facts in the history of England in the nineteenth century. We have chosen to do this through the medium of biography, in the belief that the lives of a few representative men would present better opportunities for interesting and effective treatment than an historical narrative, which must have been encumbered by a mass of detail not capable of effective disposition within the limited space at our command. An introductory chapter serves to give a general view of the course of events and to show the relations of the men and movements which are afterward presented in more detail.
With but one exception our "Ten Englishmen" are men in public life, political or military. Artists, authors, preachers, and scholars were purposely left out of the account, because they are to receive prominence in other parts of the course for which this volume was written. The exception was made in the case of George Stephenson, because the revolution in transportation, due to his improvement of the locomotive engine, has had such a powerful influence upon the industrial development of the nation.
In bringing these great personages before the reader our intention has been quite as much historical as biographical. Each name is linked with some conspicuous problem in statesmanship, and the endeavor has been to set forth the work as well as the workman. It is hoped that the library notes appended to each chapter will be of assistance to the earnest student, in supplementing the meager outlines of this volume with the abundance of personal detail and wealth of dramatic incident which give life and action to history.
The appendix should not be overlooked. Its selections from authentic speeches, letters, dispatches, and other writings bring the reader into touch with the men who made England great.
One word more. Our "Ten" are not necessarily "THE Ten." They are the men whose lives lay in line with the writer's plan. If they serve to accentuate the leading features of the history we are not disposed to argue with those who would present other candidates for the honor of inclusion in the list.
James Richard Joy
Plainfield, N.J., June 4, 1902.
ENGLAND IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
The opening of the nineteenth century found England in the midst of a great foreign war, which for almost a generation absorbed the thought and energy of the nation, and postponed for the time the vital questions of economic and political reform which clamored for settlement.
THE STRUGGLE WITH NAPOLEON
The war began in 1793, when the French nation, having overturned its ancient throne, and revolutionized its social and political institutions, set out on a democratic crusade for "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," which involved it in a conflict with the governments of Europe. William Pitt, who had been Prime Minister of George III. since 1783, had twice banded the European states against the French republican armies; but while the English fleets remained masters of the seas, the enthusiasm of the French soldiers, and the genius of their young generals, had thus far proved too strong for the mercenary battalions of despotism. In the closing month of the year 1800, Pitt's "Second Coalition" had been shattered by the defeat of the Allies at Hohenlinden. The Peace of Amiens which shortly ensued (March, 1802, to May, 1803) was but a delusion. England greeted it with joy and hope, but soon discovered its unreality. From the renewal of hostilities, in May, 1803, until the final triumph of the allies, in 1815, the war resolved itself into a struggle between Napoleon and England. This young Corsican lieutenant had raised himself by sheer force of genius and unscrupulous ambition to absolute power. His scheme for the subjugation of Europe beat down every obstacle except the steady and unbending opposition of England. Pitt, who had withdrawn from the government because of the stupid King's refusal to honor his Minister's pledges of equal rights to the Irish Catholics, was recalled by the universal voice ot the nation to organize the resistance. Napoleon had assembled immense armaments upon the Channel coast of France for a descent on England, and had created a vast flotilla to transport the force to Kent. Great Britain trembled with excited apprehension. Three hundred thousand volunteers offered their services to the government. But, as often in the past, Britain's best defense was her wooden walls, and the sagacity, seamanship, and valor of her sailors, who out- manoeuvered the combined fleets of France and Spain, crushed their power at Trafalgar (October, 1805), and secured the Channel against the invader. Pitt's gold had called into existence a third coalition (England, Russia. Austria, and Sweden), only to see Napoleon hurl it to the ground on the field of Austerlitz (December, 1805). England's isolation seemed as complete as the Emperor's victory. Russia, Austria, and Prussia made humiliating peace with the victor, who carved his conquests into new states and kingdoms. Pitt, who, at the news of Austerlitz, had pointed to the map of Europe with the words "Roll up that map, there will be no use for it these ten years," survived the calamity scarcely a month.
Unable to meet, as yet, the English troops in battle on the land as he had met and defeated those of the Continent, and unequal to England on the seas, Napoleon devised a more insidious plan of campaign. Believing that a "nation of shop-keepers" might be attacked through its trade, he issued from the Prussian capital, in 1806, the famous Berlin Decree, which was the first note of that "Continental System," which was intended to close the ports of Europe to British goods. The British government met this boycott by its "Orders in Council," which placed a blockade upon French ports, and authorized the capture of neutral vessels endeavoring to trade with them. This inconclusive commercial warfare lasted several years, but was far from being successful in its object of ruining England. Indeed, it is said that the most stringent enforcement of the "Decrees" and "Orders" did not prevent the Napoleonic armies from wearing uniforms of English cloth and carrying English steel in their scabbards.
England first began to make head against the French conqueror when that far-sighted minister George Canning sent Sir Arthur Wellesley to Portugal to take command of the British forces in the Peninsula. Wellesley had recently returned from India, where he had achieved a brilliant reputation for thoroughness of organization, precision of manoeuver, and unvarying success, qualities which at that time were lamentably rare among British generals. In Portugal first, and later in Spain, the sterling qualities of the new commander steadily gained ground for England, driving out the French marshals, and carrying this Peninsular War to a triumphant conclusion by the invasion of France (1814). Created Duke of Wellington for his successes in the Peninsula, Wellesley held command of the allied forces on the Belgian frontier when, on the 18th of June, 1815, they met and routed the French at Waterloo. That day made Napoleon an exile, and "the Iron Duke" the idol of the English lands in which he continued to be the most conspicuous personage for nearly half a century.
THE RESETTLEMENT OF EUROPE
Waterloo brought England into new relations with the nations of Europe. The Congress of Vienna, in which the victors endeavored to restore the damage wrought by the Corsican intruder, added Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Malta, and a few less important islands, to the growing colonial empire of Great Britain. The Holy Alliance, which had been suggested by the Czar in 1815, at the friendly meeting of the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian sovereigns at Paris, was in theory a compact between these powerful rulers—"an intimate union on the basis of morality and religion"—but it soon degenerated into an unholy league for the mutual protection of these three despotic dynasties against the dormant forces of constitutional liberty, which began to stir again in every European state as soon as the Napoleonic specter had been laid. The French Revolution had given currency to opinions which no congress of sovereigns could wholly repress, and now the policy of the "Alliance," to strangle all constitutional aspirations and rivet the chains of Bourbonism upon limbs that had once known the bliss of freedom, led to fierce intellectual revolt, and sometimes to physical violence. England had made common cause with Turk and Christian, Kaiser and King, against Napoleon, and for a time her statesmen viewed with complacency the Holy Alliance, so reassuring in its name and so pure in its professions; but when it became evident that this mighty league was to be thrown against every liberty-loving people in the Old World and the New, George Canning broke the irksome bond, and put the land of parliaments and constitutional liberty in its rightful place as the friend of freedom and the foe to the oppressor. It was the spirit if not the voice of Canning which was powerful to save Portugal from the Bourbon, to recognize the independence of the revolted American colonies of Spain, and to restrain the enemies of freedom from handing insurgent Greece back to the Turk. His predecessors had been accustomed to sink the interests and desires of England in regard for what the continental power called "the good of Europe." He was the first statesman of his generation who dared to take an independent position on "European" questions—"to write 'England,'" as he phrased it, "where it had been the custom to write 'Europe.'" The policy which he inaugurated marks a turning- point in the history of British foreign affairs.
George IV., who had been regent since his father's illness in 1812, reigned in his own name from 1820 to 1830, though his voice in the affairs of state was small indeed. His Ministers, Liverpool, Canning, Goderich, and Wellington, were confronted by serious problems of domestic policy which had sprung up during the long period of foreign wars and partly in direct consequence of those disturbing conditions. The one recurrent question which found definite settlement in this reign was that of Catholic emancipation. The penal laws against Roman Catholics had disgraced the English statute-books for two centuries. On the first of January, 1801, the Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland had gone into effect under the name of the United Kingdom. The Irish Parliament, which had met in Dublin since 1782, went out of existence, and in the place of "Home Rule" Ireland was represented in both houses of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster. Pitt had promised the numerous Catholics of Ireland that the laws which made them ineligible to represent their country in Parliament should be repealed, and had abandoned office in disgust when George III. refused to sanction his project of Catholic emancipation. In 1807 the Whig ministry espoused the same cause, and in turn resigned because of the opposition of the Crown. In Daniel O'Connell the cause at length found a spokesman whose eloquence, wit, and talent for "agitation" soon combined his Irish partisans into "The Catholic Association." Working in conjunction with the Whigs of England, O'Connell's followers formed a body which could not be neglected. Soon after Canning's untimely death the Duke of Wellington had taken office. He was a Tory, with all the prejudices of that political faith deepened by his birth and training as an Irish Protestant, but the agitation had reached such proportions that he saw in it a menace of civil war, to avoid which he was willing to abandon his most cherished opinions on the Catholic question. Accordingly, in 1829, the Iron Duke faced about and brought in the bill which, becoming a law by Whig and Canningite votes, admitted Roman Catholics to Parliament, and to civil rights only a little short of complete. But instead of removing the Irish question from politics, it was only prepared for more strenuous presentation in a new guise, for O'Connell was returned to Parliament at the head of some fifty Catholic members to agitate for Irish independence.
The perfection of the steam locomotive and the inception and marvelous development of the system of steam railway transportation marked the second quarter of the century. The name of the Stephensons, father and son, is inseparably connected with this work which has affected so deeply the economic and social life of the nation, and has contributed in a thousand indirect ways to the expansion and consolidation of the empire. It has been said that in 1825 the traveler from London to Rome went no faster than the courier of the Caesars, eighteen hundred years before. Thanks to George Stephenson's inventive genius, the traveler of today consumes scarcely more time between London and Peking.
THE REFORM OF PARLIAMENT
The reform of Parliament was the next question to come up for settlement. In 1830 representation in the House of Commons still remained upon a basis which had been established centuries before. Meantime the distribution of the voting population had been totally transformed. The most populous shires had no more seats than the least of all. There were decayed boroughs which had dwindled in population until but a handful of voters remained, yet these "rotten" boroughs retained their right to choose one or more members of Parliament, while the great modern manufacturing towns and seaports were totally unrepresented. The agitation for parliamentary reform, which rose in the middle of the eighteenth century, was directed against the sale of seats in the rotten boroughs, and the shameless bribery. As early as 1770 Lord Chatham had predicted reform or revolution. His son, the younger Pitt, had proposed remedies, but the deluge which overwhelmed the government of France in the closing years of the century stiffened English conservatism for a century against any radical political change. Meanwhile the rapid industrial expansion of the kingdom, with its unprecedented increase of population, and the sudden growth of insignificant hamlets into teeming factory towns, had emphasized the injustice of existing arrangements. Earl Grey, who had been an advocate of reform for forty years, and Lord John Russell, who had championed the cause for a decade, were united in the Whig ministry which succeeded Wellington in 1830. Supported by a tremendous popular demand which seemed to stir the nation to its depths they brought in their first bill in 1831. It prevailed in the Commons by a bare majority, but the Tory House of Lords threw it out. This action by the privileged class was a signal for an indignant outburst from the nation. The "Radicals," as the advanced Whigs were already beginning to be called, did not conceal their lack of respect for the Upper House, and used revolutionary threats against it as a relic of mediaevalism which should no longer be tolerated in a free state. But the time had passed when the peers could flout an aroused nation. When the Third Reform Bill was ready for passage, the ministers secured the King's promise to frustrate the opposition of the Lords by filling up the House with new peers created expressly to vote for reform. The threat sufficed. Wellington and the most stern and unbending Tories absented themselves from the decisive division, and allowed the Reform Bill to become a law in June, 1832.
Great things were expected of the first Parliament which was chosen on the basis of the new law. The seats gained by the disfranchisement of the small and corrupt boroughs were distributed to new constituencies in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, and the other modern cities. The more populous counties were subdivided into districts, and the divisions received additional representation. The franchise had also been extended and based upon a moderate property qualification. The result was, that the center of political power passed from the nobility and landed gentry, with whom it had resided for centuries, and came to the farmers and shop-keepers, the so-called middle class, lying between the ancient aristocracy of birth and landed possessions and the still unenfranchised masses of mill operatives and agricultural laborers. That the new Parliament would show a new temper and be dominated by new ideas was but natural. But those who inferred from the bitterness of the struggle for reform that the nation was on the verge of an abyss into which the Lords and the Crown should shortly topple, greatly deceived themselves.
THE POOR LAWS
The reformed Parliaments devoted themselves to certain long- deferred and intensely practical reforms which were social and economic in their nature, leaving the constitution alone for the next twenty years. In these Parliaments and ministries for the next forty years the Whig party usually had the upper hand. In 1834 Parliament revolutionized the system of public relief to the needy which had existed for fifty years, to the extreme demoralization of the poorer working-classes and the frustration of really benevolent purpose. The old law had assumed that each parish owed every native a living. A sliding scale was accordingly provided by which, as the rate of wages declined, the parish should pay to the workman enough to bring his receipts up to the standard amount. Employers took advantage of this system cut wages to a minimum, the parish making up the difference. Another mischievous clause increased the pauper's dole in proportion to the number of his children, with the direct result of early and improvident marriages. To put it bluntly, children were bred for the bounty. The number of persons receiving parish aid was enormously increased. The self-respect of the poor was destroyed, and the poor-rate became a burden of millions of pounds annually upon the treasury. The act of 1834 put an end to these abuses by restricting outdoor relief to the aged and destitute, and requiring all other paupers to go to the union workhouse. Within two years the poor-rate was diminished fully one-third.
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY
In 1834 slavery was abolished throughout the British dominions. The earnest labors of the Abolitionists, Clarkson, Wilberforce, Macaulay, and others, had secured the abolition of the slave trade thirty years before (1807), but the united opposition of the colonial planters to a reform which would deprive them of the services of their chattel laborers postponed the consummation of the humanitarian measure. The reformed Parliament proved less sensitive to the planters' arguments. It destroyed the system forever, making a cash compensation to the owners.
A third question, on which Earl Grey's ministry took high moral ground, was a redress of another of the ancient wrongs of Ireland. The Church of England was by law established in that most distressful country, and the people, though mostly Roman Catholics, were under the necessity of paying tithes for the support of a church which they detested, and which indeed, in a large part of the island, had no existence except for purposes of taxation. The Irish protest, as has often been the case, took the form of violence and outrage, the so-called "Tithe War," which postponed rather than hastened the redress of their grievance. But in 1835 the ministry of Lord Melbourne relieved the peasants of this part of their many burdens.
ACCESSION OF VICTORIA
The name of Lord Melbourne has been kept green not only by the Australasian metropolis, but by the fact that it was his duty as Prime Minister to announce to the Princess Alexandrina Victoria the fact—to her so momentous—that her uncle, William IV., was dead (June 20, 1837), and that she, a girl of eighteen, was Queen of England. Victoria, as she was known thenceforward, lived to see the dawn of the twentieth century, to witness the enormous development of the British empire in population, wealth, and power, and it is perhaps not too much to say, to win all hearts among her subjects by the simplicity, purity, and strength of her character. Had she displayed the stubborn stupidity of her grandfather, George III., or the immorality of some of his sons, it is not rash to believe that the tide of radicalism might have thrown down all barriers and swept away the throne on the flood of democracy. By grace of character she was a model constitutional sovereign, and her benign reign, the longest in English annals, contributed more than the policy of any of her ministers to make the monarchy popular and permanent.
The first decade of the Victorian era witnessed three great agitations, two of which ended in fiasco and the third in a triumph which wrought tremendous changes in the kingdom. "Chartism," "Repeal," and "Free Trade" were the three topics on which the thought of multitudes was engaged.
Chartism was the name applied to the agitation in favor of a statement of principles called "The People's Charter." The six points of Chartism were: (l) annual Parliaments, (2) salaries for members, (3) universal suffrage, (4) vole by ballot, (5) abolition of property qualification for membership in the House of Commons, and (6) equal electoral districts. The demand came from the workingmen, who were dissatisfied because the Reform Bill of 1832 had stopped short of their political stratum. The Chartists copied the method of agitation which O'Connell had employed in extorting Catholic emancipation. Monster meetings, mile-long petitions, copious effusions of printer's ink and oratory, and a National Charter Association were a part of the machinery. In 1848, when the prevalent hard times increased the restless discontent of the masses, the movement culminated in a vast assembly on Kennington Common. A respectful half-million were to march to Westminster and lay their demands, the six points backed by six million signatures, before the Commons. The year 1848 was one of widespread discontent, the revolution year of the century, and the authorities took pains to guard the peace of London with especial care, even Wellington being called into service to direct the military. But nine-tenths of the mob failed to put in appearance, and the monster petition turned out to be a monstrous and clumsy fraud. Nothing came of it at the moment. The return of better times took the heart out of the agitation, and the progress of orderly political development gradually incorporated three of the Chartist points in the law of the land without seriously affecting the constitution.
O'CONNELL AND REPEAL
The second popular war cry was "Repeal." In this agitation, again O'Connell's was the chief personage, and his eloquence the chief factor. It was in effect another phase of the Irish demand for Home Rule. Since the first day of the new century Ireland had been, for legislative purposes, a part of the United Kingdom. It was the act which had established this "Legislative Union" and abolished the Irish Parliament which O'Connell was determined to repeal. All that monster meetings, soul-moving oratory, secret associations, printer's ink, could do to influence the government by parliamentary manoeuver, demonstration of popular feeling, intimidation, and threats of insurrection was done. As a member of Parliament, and the dictator to his "tail" of half a hundred Irish members, the silver-tongued "Irish tribune" exerted a considerable political power so long as parties were somewhat evenly divided so as to make his support desirable. But when, in 1841, the Tories came back into office under Sir Robert Peel, backed by a strong majority, this influence declined. The arrest of O'Connell, in 1843, for treasonable utterances, discredited him with his following, which soon fell apart-the more determined section to carry Ireland's cause to the extreme of violent outbreak, the milder partisans to await a more opportune moment to press their agitation for Home Rule.
THE REPEAL OF THE CORN LAWS
The names of Sir Robert Peel and Richard Cobden are indissolubly connected with the legislation which repealed the "Corn Laws" and placed English commerce upon the basis of free trade—Cobden as the theorist and untiring agitator, whose splendid talents were unsparingly devoted to preparing public opinion for the economic revolution, and Peel as the protectionist Prime Minister, who was open-minded enough to become convinced of his error in persisting in the policy in which he had been trained. The necessity for a change of commercial policy grew out of the altered conditions in the nation. The agricultural England of the eighteenth century had in a generation been transformed into a hive of manufacturing industry. The rapid adoption of steam power and improved machinery in England on the one hand, and the paralysis of industry on the Continent during the Napoleonic wars, had wrought the change, while the commercial marine, guarded by her powerful navy, had brought the carrying trade of the world under her flag. The weakest point in the English system was the protective tariff, which lay heaviest on imports of grain—or "corn," to use the insular term. The Corn Laws were a body of legislation enacted from time to time by Parliaments which were controlled by the great land-owning interests. The land-owner, whose income was derived chiefly from rents upon agricultural lands, consistently favored a scale of tariffs which would maintain the price of cereal grains at the highest figure. At the close of the great war (1815) the nation was confronted with business disaster. "War prices" for grain fell rapidly, the markets were stocked with more manufactured goods than impoverished Europe could absorb, while the English labor market was glutted by the influx of several hundred thousand able-bodied soldiers and sailors in quest of industrial employment. As early as 1821 Mr. Huskisson, a cabinet colleague of Mr. Canning, had endeavored to lighten the burden of British manufactures by reducing the import duties upon the raw material used by the English looms. He was for getting at the root of the matter and disposing of the Corn Laws, so as to provide "free food" as well as "free raw materials," but his Tory companions believed that such legislation would vote the bread out of their own mouths. In 1838 an Anti-Corn Law Association was formed at Manchester. Under the direction of Richard Cobden, a young and successful manufacturer, who had become the most ardent of free traders, a league of similar clubs was organized throughout the country, and through it an agitation unsurpassed in the history of politics was prosecuted until its object was attained. In Parliament he became one of the most effective orators, and the chief target of his argument was Peel, the leader of the protectionists. In 1845-46 a more powerful argument than Cobden's was thrown into the scale. The failure of the Irish potato crop, the sole food supply of that unhappy island, "forced Peel's hand." In the face of two-thirds of his own party, in opposition to his own life-long political creed, he gave notice as Prime Minister that he should introduce a bill for the immediate reduction and ultimate repeal of the laws which were responsible for the high price of food. He had become a convert to free trade, and was ready to carry it into practice. The young Disraeli as the representative of the Protectionist element of his party, lashed the premier in the speech which first gave him a following in the Parliament that he was soon to control. But enough Peelites followed their leader into the camp of the free traders to carry the bill. The Corn Laws disappeared from the statute-book.
The sudden and enormous expansion of English industry in the early part of the century brought special hardship to several classes in the community. The substitution of the factory system for cottage industry destroyed home life for thousands of families, and the pressure of poverty and the greed of manufacturers ground the poor mill operatives between the upper and nether millstones. To Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, more than to any other is due the persistent investigation and disclosure which aroused the public mind to the prevailing conditions in mine and factory where hours of labor were excessive, and where women and children were subjected to degrading tasks and brutal treatment. The Factory Law and kindred legislation since 1830 are the fruits of the beneficent and untiring labors of the Earl.
PALMERSTON AND FOREIGN RELATIONS
The era which had been marked by such political, social, and economic reforms and agitations came to a close in the middle of the century. The Whigs came into power in Parliament in 1846 for a long term. Foreign affairs supplied the most notable topics for the next twenty years. The foreign minister during much of this time was Lord Palmerston. He it was who piloted the nation without disaster through the rocks of 1848-51, when thrones were toppling in every European kingdom, and England was being appealed to for help against despot and democrat.
THE EASTERN QUESTION
The "Eastern Question" now came up. The Czar of Russia, an object of suspicion to England, because of his rivalry with her for the possession of India, endeavored to secure from the Sultan of Turkey official recognition of his government as the legitimate protector of Christians in the Ottoman empire. Such a responsibility would have afforded many opportunities for interfering in Turkish affairs. France opposed the demand, and Palmerston placed England on the side of Napoleon III., against the Czar, who had invaded Turkey in pursuance of his design to annex a large part of her European provinces, and advance his position toward Constantinople. The Crimean War which followed (1854-56) at least checked Russia for the time. It was the only European war in which England had borne arms since Waterloo. But in Asia and Africa the Queen's troops had found almost continual employment along the frontiers of the now vastly extended empire. In 1857 Persia had to be chastised for edging toward India by way of the Afghan possessions. Russia had been at the Shah's elbow. In 1856, and repeatedly until 1860, the British fleets were battering open the ports of China and extorting trade concessions. But the most memorable war in the imperial history of these years was within the borders of the empire, though in a distant land. This was the Sepoy Rebellion or Indian mutiny of 1857.
THE GREAT SEPOY MUTINY
The British possessions in India had been more than doubled in extent since the opening of the century. In 1833 the trade monopoly of the East India Company had been broken, but its civil and military servants continued to administer the government. Their ability was displayed especially in the rapidity with which they were extending British authority over the native states when the outbreak came. A conspiracy was laid among the Sepoys, the native soldiers in the regiments of "John Company." as the great corporation was called in Asia. To their private grievances was added the false report that the company intended to force them into Christianity by serving out to them cartridges which would defile them, neat's tallow for the Hindoo venerator of the sacred cow, and hog's lard for the Mohammedan hater of swine! In May, 1857, the mutiny burst into flame. The Sepoys slaughtered their officers and many other Europeans, and restored the heir of the ancient race of kings to the throne of his fathers at Delhi. Here and there, at Cawnpore and Lucknow, a few British troops defended themselves and the refugees against the hordes of bloodthirsty rebels. The "Massacre of Cawnpore" and "the Relief of Lucknow," phrases which have passed into history, suggest the fate of the two beleaguered garrisons. The rebellion was over in a twelve- month, smothered in its own blood. Close upon its suppression came the death of the East India Company, abolished by act of Parliament in 1858. Since that year the crown has ruled the Indian realm through a Secretary of State for India, residing in London, and a Viceroy holding court at Calcutta. From the defeat of the mutineers, in 1859, to his own death, in 1865, Lord Palmerston managed to save the nation from being embroiled to the fighting-point in the perpetual quarrels of Europe. Italy fought and won her liberty from the Austrian; Poland rose against the Russian; Denmark had her damaging Schleswig-Holstein War with Prussia and Austria. English sympathies were strongly enlisted in all these troubles, but Palmerston would not allow her to proceed to the point of breaking the peace. From 1861 to 1865, while the Civil War was being fought out in America, his government was prompt to recognize the belligerent status of the Confederacy, and to favor the South by allowing privateers like the "Alabama" to be built and manned in English ports. But the actual break with Mr. Lincoln's government did not come, and the old Whig statesman lived to see the South overpowered.
Through the middle reaches of the century the political power in England remained for the most part in the hands of the Whig, latterly called Liberal, ministries. The impulse for reform— political, economic, and social—had spent itself before 1850, and the older statesmen who guided the public policies had no sympathy with the demands for radical legislation, church disestablishment, universal suffrage, and what not, which came up from many parts of the nation. With the death of Palmerston, and the retirement of Russell, a new era was inaugurated, and new actors stepped to the front of the stage.
GLADSTONE AND DISRAELI
At the head of the Liberals was William Ewart Gladstone, who in his younger days had followed his master, Peel, out of the old Tory lines into the camp of the free traders, and had been Russell's chief lieutenant, and Palmerston's financial minister for the last half-dozen years. He was a man of splendid intellectual power, sterling morality, an adept at parliamentary management, a shrewd financier, and held a deep conviction that it was the part of statesmanship to embody in law what he conceived to be the proper demands of the nation. His opponent for a generation was Benjamin Disraeli, the young Jewish novelist, who had first won a following in the House of Commons by voicing the venom of the old-line protectionist Tories against the recreant Peel. Versatile, shifty, brilliant, this adventurous politician made himself indispensable to the Conservatives, and overcame by political moves which were little short of genius, the leadership of the opposition. Indeed, he may be said to have transformed Conservatism, giving it a new rallying cry, and inscribing great achievements upon its banner.
"Whenever that man gets my place we shall have strange doings," Palmerston had said toward the end of his life, alluding to the open-minded Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gladstone, and had he remained on earth for another generation, he would indeed have seen much done by his erstwhile followers under Gladstone's direction which he would have accounted passing strange. Admitting the democratic principle that the state owed it to itself to provide every man's child with an education, Gladstone inaugurated (1870) a beneficent system of free public schools. An old popular grievance, the viva voce method of voting at parliamentary elections, was done away and the secret ballot substituted (1872), a change which struck a heavy blow at the prevalent bribery and intimidation. He corrected one of the worst abuses in the army by abolishing the purchase system, under which a junior officer was accustomed to buy his promotion by compensating his seniors, a practice which had closed the higher grades to men of small means. The extension of the suffrage to the agricultural laborers was finally reached by his Reform Bill of 1884, the last class being thus admitted to the body politic.
THE CAUSE OF IRELAND
But it was to the grievances of Ireland that Gladstone bent the readiest ear, and it was upon that reef that his political career made shipwreck at the last. In his first ministry he undertook and carried the disestablishment of the Irish Church, by which the Irish Catholics were relieved of an odious burden. His Irish Land Act of 1870 aimed to give the tenant-farmer certain valuable rights in the land which he rented. The result was rather to redouble the cry against "landlordism," with its corollary of agrarian crime. A second Land Act (1881) provided a land court for adjusting rents. Instead of quieting the disorders this indulgent legislation was the signal for a fresh outburst of crime. The Irish Land League was organized to secure the abolition of landlordism, and when the Irish leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, was imprisoned he exhorted the tenants to cease paying rent altogether until the government should grant all their demands. The Liberals were forced for the moment to use strong measures to restore order to Ireland, but the Home Rule party in Parliament, skillfully led by Mr. Parnell, continued to embarrass legislation and obstruct the ordinary functions of government. In April, 1886, Mr, Gladstone, having become Prime Minister for the third time, asked Parliament to grant home rule to Ireland through an Irish Parliament sitting at Dublin. Parnell and his following supported the measure, but the Liberal party was rent in twain. Lord Hartington, Joseph Chamberlain, John Bright, and others of less note, deserted their old chief. Enough of these "Liberal Unionists" seceded to defeat the bill. In August, 1892, the aged Liberal chieftain again carried the elections and took the seals of office for the fourth time. Home Rule was again the principal plank in his platform, and all the energies of the "Grand Old Man" were mustered to carry a new law differing somewhat from the bill of 1886. Though it passed the Commons (301 to 267) it was thrown out by the Lords by 419 to 41, and his successor, Lord Rosebery, had no mind to renew the contest.
The Gladstonian foreign policy was such as might have been expected from a leader whose motto was "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." It was never aggressive, and in the opinion of many, it was lacking in the assertion of British rights. Thus, in 1871, when Russia refused to be bound longer by the treaty stipulations forbidding her to maintain a war fleet on the Euxine, Mr. Gladstone did not hold her to her engagement. In England it was thought to be a sign of weakness in his government to allow the "Alabama" and "San Juan Boundary" questions to be settled by arbitrators instead of by diplomacy or a show of force. In 1881, when the Boers of the Transvaal had worsted the British at Majuba Hill, they received from Gladstone an honorable peace instead of extermination. The abandonment of the Egyptian Soudan, in 1883, which carried with it the massacre of General Gordon, at Khartoum, was perhaps the heaviest load that the Gladstonian foreign policy ever had to bear.
DISRAELI AND IMPERIALISM
Foreign affairs were the field of Disraeli's most brilliant exploits. "He had two ruling ideas," says the historian Oman, "the first was the conception of England as an imperial world- power, interested in European politics, but still more interested in the maintenance and development of her vast colonial and Indian empire. This is the notion which friends and enemies now using the word in different senses call 'imperialism.' The second ruling thought in Disraeli's mind was the conviction that the Conservative party ought to step forward as rival to the Liberal party in commanding the sympathies and allegiance of the masses." In pursuance of this second idea he took the "leap in the dark," in 1867, carrying a reform bill which was but little short of democratic in its extension of the right to vote. This was followed up by legislation favoring the English tenant-farmers, and improving the condition of workingmen in towns. Even after Disraeli's death, Lord Salisbury continued his domestic policy, instituting local government by means of county councils in 1888, making the schools free in 1891, and refunding the national debt in 1888.
It was a great day for the British empire when Disraeli's telegram to the hard-pressed Khedive of Egypt, in 1875, bought for England the controlling interest in the Suez canal, the water-gate to India. It was a bold stroke of Disraeli's also which, at the close of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, compelled the victor to take his paw from the throat of his victim and submit the treaty to a congress of the powers at Berlin, where its terms were modified and England was admitted to its benefits. The Second Afghan War (1878-80), and the Zulu War (1878-79), and the Boer War, which brought little glory to Britain, were the direct result of the Prime Minister's desire to extend the empire and strengthen its frontiers. It may have been theatrical, but it was certainly impressive to the assembled princes of India when Lord Lytton, the Viceroy, proclaimed Victoria Empress of India in Delhi, the old capital of the Moguls, on January 1, 1877. And though Disraeli (raised to the peerage as Lord Beaconsfield) was in his grave, his spirit dominated the pageantry of 1887 and 1897, when every nation and tribe and kindred and people of the Greater Britain sent representatives to London to celebrate the jubilee and diamond jubilee of the Empress-Queen, to whose aggrandizement he had contributed so effectively.
AFTER A HUNDRED YEARS
The century closes upon another England than that which was struggling against Napoleon at its dawn. Instead of the "right little tight little island," a compact and self-contained nation, it is now the head of an empire comparable in extent and population with no other since the Rome of Augustus. Canada, Federal Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa form a Greater Britain, while the subject lands and islands dot the globe. The problem which confronts the English at the end of the century is not whether they can hold their own against a foreign power as in the days of Waterloo, but whether all these British commonwealths can be made to work together in some sort of federal union, or whether the present ties are to dissolve or snap asunder and girdle the globe with independent states like the American republic, where each may be free to develop under its peculiar conditions the genius of the Anglo-Saxon race.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. How was England situated at the opening of the nineteenth century? 2. What did the names Hohenlinden, Trafalgar, and Austerlitz mean to England? 3. Sum up briefly the career of Wellesley. 4. How did Canning's policy mark a turning-point in British foreign affairs? 5. What was the result of the Catholic agitation? 6. How did the locomotive influence England's empire? 7. How was Parliament changed by the Reform Bill? 8. What changes in the Poor Laws were at once undertaken? 9. What action regarding slavery and Irish taxation? 10. What was the Chartist agitation? 11. Describe the agitation for "repeal." 12. Why did the Corn Laws become intolerable? 13. What reforms were wrought through the influence of the Earl of Shaftesbury? 14. Through what foreign complications did England pass under Palmerston? 15. What important abuses were corrected under Gladstone's leadership? 16. Describe his dealings with the Irish question. 17. How were certain great foreign matters dealt with by his government? 18. What brilliant foreign achievements were accomplished by Disraeli? 19. What is England's problem in the twentieth century?
HISTORY OF ENGLAND DURING THE THIRTY YEARS' PEACE. By Harriet Martineau. HISTORY OF ENGLAND SINCE 1815. By Spencer Walpole. THE HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES. By Justin McCarthy. ENGLAND IN THE XIXTH CENTURY. By Elizabeth Wormely Latimer. THE GREVILLE MEMOIRS. Edited by Henry Reeve. HISTORY OF THE CHARTIST MOVEMENT. By R. G. Gammage. THE REIGN OF QUEEN VICTORIA. Edited by T. Humphrey Ward. HISTORY OF ENGLAND. By W. N. Molesworth.
WELLINGTON, AND THE STRUGGLE WITH NAPOLEON
[ARTHUR WELLESLEY, Duke of Wellington, born in Ireland, 1769; died Walmer Castle, September 14, 1852; educated at Eton and at Angers; entered Seventy-third Regiment as ensign, 1787; purchased lieutenant-colonelcy of Thirty-third Regiment, 1793; served in Holland expedition, 1794-95; 1796, in India with his regiment; 1803, major-general, commands in Mahratta War, victory at Assaye; 1805,in England; 1806, member of Parliament; 1807, Secretary for Ireland; 1808, in Portugal; 1809-13, chief in command in Peninsula, clears Portugal and Spain of the French; 1814, English Ambassador at Paris; 1815, defeats Napoleon at Waterloo; 1815, commander-in-chief of allied army in France; 1818, master-general of the ordnance; 1822, represents England at Congress of Verona; 1828-30, Prime Minister; 1829, grants Catholic emancipation; 1834-35, Foreign Secretary; 1841, commander-in-chief. Buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.]
In February, 1792, William Pitt, Prime Minister of George III., unfolding his annual budget in the House of Commons, declared, "Unquestionably there never was a time in the history of this country when, from the situation of Europe, we might more reasonably expect fifteen years of peace, than at the present moment." Yet within a twelvemonth after this utterance, apparently sincere, France and England were plunged into a war which lasted, with but one brief intermission, until 1815. It embroiled in succession nearly every nation in Europe. In France it provided a theater for the genius of Napoleon, who after conquering in turn the best soldiers of the continent, was to meet his match in the Duke of Wellington on the field of Waterloo.
The first period of the war mainly antedates the century which we are considering. In 1793 the Convention, the revolutionary body which had taken the place of the overturned French monarchy, declared war on Holland and England. Pitt was still at the head of King George III.'s ministry, and the conduct of the war devolved upon him. Her insular position and powerful fleet rendered England safe from invasion, but her active participation in the military operations upon the continent was limited in measure and distressing in outcome. The expeditions which she landed in the Netherlands were shockingly inadequate in numbers, and led by high-born generals without knowledge, talent, or experience. It is little wonder that they accomplished nothing except to feed the French contempt for English arms.
Successive coalitions were formed by the energetic Pitt with Prussia, Austria, and other nations to check the advance of the republican armies in which, after 1795, the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte leaped into prominence. His victories disintegrated these alliances, which had been cemented with English gold. At the same time his victories so strengthened his personal hold upon the army and the nation that he was able to make himself absolute master of France.
The Peace of Amiens (March, 1802, to May, 1803) afforded the only breathing space in all these twenty-two years of warfare. Napoleon, now first consul, was soon to change that republican mask for the honest and ambitious title of emperor. The hollowness of the peace soon became evident. Under its cloak French ships were building and French armies mustering in the channel ports for the invasion of England. The character of the strife had now radically changed. At the outset, ten years before, England had joined hands with the continental monarchies to check the spread of the liberal ideas which the French republican armies were carrying on their bayonets in a species of crusade in the name of liberty. But with the accession of Bonaparte to the throne of the Bourbons, England was plunged into a struggle for existence. Napoleon himself said that peace could never prevail in Europe so long as England had the power to disturb it, and all parties in England were resolved to combat to the last the establishment of a vast and menacing military despotism beyond the Straits of Dover.
The genius of Admiral Nelson preserved the command of the narrow seas for England, and forced the Emperor to abandon his project of invasion which had aroused the English nation to unprecedented military activity. Pitt's subsidies had again set the continental armaments in motion, but Napoleon's brilliant dash into Germany brought these to naught in the battle of Austerlitz, which destroyed the Third Coalition and brought Austria to terms. It was this news that the great Prime Minister of George III. took so to heart. He survived the disaster but a few weeks. But the ministry of "All the Talents" took up his task with no thought of abandoning the struggle. The death of Fox soon broke up this administration, but those of Portland, Perceval, and Liverpool, which followed, were as dogged in their resolution to spend the last pound, and the last man, if need were, in ridding Europe of the conqueror whose existence England had now come to regard as a threat against her national independence.
As his conquests added state after state to the territory in which his word was law, Napoleon developed new tactics against England. He conceived it practicable to crush that commercial and manufacturing power by excluding her goods from the markets of Europe. This "continental system" was inaugurated in November, 1806, by the Berlin Decree which closed the ports of Europe to British vessels, and declared a paper blockade against the British Isles. This policy he forced upon nation after nation, to which his conquests extended. England retaliated by the "Orders in Council," which declared a blockade against the French ports, and authorized the seizure of neutral vessels found trading with them. By a naval raid in September, 1807, the British swooped down on Denmark and carried off the Danish fleet to keep that weapon from falling into the Emperor's hands. Two months later, in anticipation of a British descent, French armies seized Portugal and entered Spain.
Up to the entrance of the French into the Spanish Peninsula, the protracted hostilities had brought little advantage to the British arms except on the sea. It was the Peninsular War, precipitated by this fresh encroachment of Napoleon, which first gave a laurel to the English arms and prepared Wellington for Waterloo. Napoleon and the soldier who was to overthrow him were born in the same year. The babe whom the world was to know as the Duke of Wellington was christened in Dublin in May, 1769, by the name of Arthur Wesley. (In 1798 the older spelling of the family name, Wellesley, was resumed.) He was descended from English ancestors long resident in Ireland, and was himself the fourth son of the Earl of Mornington. The death of the Earl when Arthur was but twelve years old left the family in slender circumstances. Richard, the eldest son and successor to the title, had achieved high university honors, but Arthur was a slow student of everything save music and mathematics. After a brief residence at Eton he entered a higher institution at Angers, in France. His mother thought him worth nothing better than "food for powder," and at eighteen he obtained a commission as ensign in the Seventy-sixth Regiment of British Foot. Family influence and the purchase of his "steps" soon made him a lieutenant- colonel (1793) of the Thirty-third Foot. He had already been three years a member of the Irish House of Commons where, however, he did not distinguish himself.
England was now at war with France, and Colonel Arthur Wellesley's first foreign service was in 1794, when his regiment was sent to the support of the Duke of York, who was near the end of his ignominious campaign in the Low Countries. In March, 1795, he was back in England, disgusted with the incompetency of his superiors. Of the value of this experience he afterward said, "Why, I learned what one ought not to do, and that is always something." At the time, however, he was less philosophical, and after consulting with his wise elder brother as to the future possibilities of distinction in military life, he applied for a civil office under the Lord Lieutenant of England.
Instead of droning out his life in a treasury clerkship, Wellesley found a more strenuous career abroad. In the autumn of 1795 his regiment was ordered to India, where he arrived in February, 1797. A year later his already famous brother Richard, Lord Mornington, came out as Governor-general. The brothers were sincerely devoted to each other, and co-operated cordially in the important operations which followed. The English possessions in India were then limited to the coast regions, the kings and princes of the states of the interior being variously bound to the East india Company by treaty engagements. The news of the victorious progress of the French arms in Europe lost nothing by repetition in the bazaars of Hindustan, and emissaries of France were not wanting to stir the native princes against England. Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in 1798 revealed his intention to attack England through her Indian realm. In February, 1799, the Governor-general declared war against Tippoo, Sultan of Mysore, a powerful prince, who had been plotting in the French interest. The younger Wellesley had contributed much to the efficient organization of the army which was to invade the Sultan's territory, and after the fall of Seringapatam he distinguished himself by his firm and orderly administration of the conquered domain. In 1802, the year of the Peace of Amiens, he was made a major-general. When the news of the treaty with France reached him, his opinion was emphatically expressed: "It establishes the French power over Europe, and when we shall have disarmed we shall have no security except in our own abjectness." The conquest of Mysore left only the Mahratta confederacy undominated by British authority. These states, a vast domain in western and central India, having quarreled among themselves, applied to the British for aid. General Wellesley secured the close alliance of one party, and as commander-in-chief, took the field against the others. On the 23rd of September, 1803, he found himself with seven thousand five hundred men in the presence of the Mahratta host of fifty thousand men with one hundred and twenty-eight guns. Retreat was difficult, speedy reinforcement impossible. The young major-general determined an attack immediately, and handling his little army with great skill and intrepid courage, he routed the enemy in the great victory of Assaye, which broke the Mahratta power. For his exploits he received the thanks of King and Parliament, and was dubbed a Knight of the Bath.
General Sir Arthur Wellesley returned to England in 1805, after seven years absence in India. On his way he touched at the Isle of St. Helena, and took note of its beautiful scenery and salubrious climate. Doubtless the impression then made was recalled ten years later, when it became necessary to select a safe residence for his defeated foe. To one who expressed surprise that a man of his solid achievement should receive but a subordinate post as that to which he was assigned on his return to England, General Wellesley said, "I am NIM MUK WALLAH, as we say in the East. I have eaten of the King's salt and therefore I conceive it to be my duty to serve with zeal and cheerfulness when and wherever the King or his government may think fit to employ me." This expression explains his lifelong attitude toward the crown. He considered himself its "retained servant."
It was two years before his talents were properly utilized. Meanwhile he was member of Parliament and secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Peninsular War was his opportunity. Napoleon had sent Marshal Junot to Lisbon with an army to seize the country and force it into his continental system, the royal family retiring to Brazil as he advanced. At almost the same time, by a series of conscienceless machinations, he had compelled the King of Spain to abdicate, and had occupied Madrid and the fortresses of the northern provinces. In spite of popular risings against the French, Napoleon made his brother Joseph King of Spain. At once revolt flamed out among the common people, and the insurrection spread through both kingdoms, and was accepted in England as an invitation to come to their relief.
Pitt had foreseen amid the shadows of the defeat of Austerlitz that the Iberian Peninsula might be the final field of resistance to Napoleon, and now events had brought his successors to the same view. It was accessible by England's ocean highway, its people were high-spirited, and impatient of foreign domination, and a successful campaign there would threaten the French flank. In June, 1808, an expedition was dispatched to the aid of the Spanish and Portuguese insurrectionists, and the command was given to Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley. The night before he left London he said to the friend who interrupted his reverie, "Why, I am thinking of the French. . . . 'Tis enough to make one thoughtful. But no matter; my die is cast. They may overwhelm me, but I don't think they will out-manueuver me. . . . I suspect all the continental armies were more than half-beaten before the battle was begun. I at least will not be beaten beforehand."
The qualities which fitted this officer for the heavy work in hand were those which had been developed and tested in India. He was, first of all, a worker of surpassing industry and the closest application. Where others were brilliant, he was thorough. No commander ever left less to chance or to the inspiration of the moment. He prepared for his campaigns by subjecting his troops to the most thorough drill and by providing them properly with all the munitions of war. His troops were shaped by incessant care and pains into a perfect weapon, the use of which he perfectly understood. Further than this, his experience in India, where conditions had made him the responsible administrator of vast native states, made him the right man to conduct a campaign in the peninsula, where, between the French and the Nationalists, civil administration had fallen into great disorder, and where all sorts of extraordinary tasks devolved upon the British representative. His management of his uncertain allies, the guerrilla chiefs, and his relations with the revolutionary "juntas" called for qualities as rare as those which defeated one after another of Napoleon's marshals and finally worsted the great captain himself. Thoroughness of preparation, the ability to see things as they are, to wait patiently, decide promptly, and act with energy—these are perhaps simple military virtues, but they bring success, and they were in high degree the possession of the young Indian officer, who was now to undertake a difficult campaign in a foreign country. The event proved that with such qualities a general may compass the most difficult tasks, though he may be "cold" in temperament, and incapable of kindling in the breasts of his men that passionate personal devotion which some hold to be the true test of a great soldier.
Wellesley disembarked his expeditionary force in August, at Mondego Bay, a hundred miles north of Lisbon, which Junot held with twelve thousand men. Junot advanced to meet the English, and at Vimiero Wellesley met and defeated the first of Napoleon's marshals. Before the close of the day the arrival of a superior officer terminated Wellesley's command. He had, however, inflicted such a blow that Junot was glad to sign a convention which permitted him to evacuate the kingdom. Wellesley returned to England.
In the spring of 1809 Wellesley was back in Lisbon. He had persuaded the government that Portugal could be defended and made the base of operations which should eventually clear the entire peninsula of the French. They had intrusted the chief command to him, and now left him free for four years to press his campaigns to the Spanish capital, and thence to the Pyrenees and beyond upon the very soil of France itself.
He was watched by two French armies. Soult was at Oporto in the north, and Victor far up the Tagus Valley, between him and Madrid. By an unexpected movement, having surprised Soult and sent him headlong beyond the frontier, Wellesley crossed the border in quest of Victor. The armies clashed at Talavera, in the last days of June, in one of the most stubbornly contested engagements of the war. The English kept possession of the field, and, though Joseph Bonaparte congratulated his soldiers upon the glory of the "victory," he knew in his heart, as his greater brother told him to his face, that the battle was a French defeat.
Conditions were not yet suited for an advance into Spain, where the French were gathering in enormous force, with instructions from Napoleon to "advance upon the English, pursue them without cessation, beat them, and fling them into the sea." To insure his forces against the execution of this mandate Wellesley constructed a crescent of earthworks about Lisbon, "the lines of Torres Vedras," within which he might take refuge, and under cover of which, as a last resort, his forces might be safely re- embarked for retreat. The veteran Massena was selected by the Emperor to drive the English out of Portugal. As he advanced, in the summer of 1810, Wellesley retired before him, and just when the pursuer believed the game was his, he was confronted by the impregnable lines of Torres Vedras, whose position and strength was all unsuspected. All winter Massena hovered about the hole, but the fox was safe in his earth, and in the spring the old hound again turned his face toward Spain, with the English on his trail.
For another year the English general, who, in honor of Talavera, had been raised to the peerage as Viscount Wellington, was engaged in reducing the French garrisons, and forming into useful auxiliary troops the raw Portuguese who had risen against the invader. The capture of the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo (January, 1812) opened the road to Spain. So important was this point that the captor was rewarded for it with an English earldom, a Spanish dukedom, and a Portuguese marquisate. In early summer Wellington's army took the offensive on Spanish soil. Marshal Marmont's army at Salamanca in the north was his first objective. The clash came on the 22nd of July. On the second day of the battle of Salamanca the English infantry crushed the weakened center of Marmont's line, the marshal was wounded, his army hurriedly retreated. On the 12th of August the English were in Madrid. The Bonaparte King fled from his capital, whose citizens, intoxicated with joy, crowded around the English general, hung on his stirrups, touched his clothes, and throwing themselves on the earth, blessed him aloud as the friend of Spain!
The work of deliverance was by no means complete. Wellington's army was small, and the support of the Spanish auxiliaries was not to be counted upon. Though the Emperor was in Russia, some of his best marshals and a powerful army were opposed to the English in Spain. It was only the most skilful management, in which caution and audacity were blended, that brought Wellington safely out of his dangerous position in Spain, and allowed him to retire to winter quarters on the Portuguese frontier. The effect of the campaign upon the Spaniards had been to give him the chief command of the national forces. England realizing that the general whose coming had been so long awaited was found at last, made Wellington a marquis, and voted him the thanks of the Lords and Commons and one hundred thousand pounds, besides sending him the reinforcements of cavalry which he needed for his broad plan of operations for the next campaign.
The winter of 1812-13, which Wellington devoted to his comprehensive preparations, saw the disastrous retreat of Napoleon from the snows of Russia. From that blow he never recovered, and thenceforward he could do little to support his eagles in the peninsula. The recall of Soult further weakened the resistance. In May, Wellington bade farewell to Portugal and recrossed the Spanish frontier, advancing on Madrid from the northwest. The King and his army retired toward France. Wellington overtook them at Vittoria (June 21) and fought them, capturing their guns, baggage, and Spanish plunder, though Joseph and the main French army escaped northward through the passes of the Pyrenees.
Soult came posthaste from Dresden to resume command. He found the army of Spain encamped on French soil, led it through the passes again, but the English could not be dislodged. In October an English general for the first time since Napoleon came to power stood on French soil at the head of an invading army. Soult, forced away from Bayonne, fell back on Toulouse, where Wellington dealt him another blow on April 14, 1814. That blow was the last. Just one week earlier Napoleon, driven back from the Rhine to Paris by the allied armies on the northeast, had abdicated the throne which had cost so much blood and treasure.
Wellington visited Paris and Madrid, and then returned to London. Five years earlier he had left England as Sir Arthur Wellesley; he came back Duke of Wellington. His own remark upon his campaigns contrasts strangely with the spirit of the Frenchman, whose best generals he had out-manoeuvered and overwhelmed. He was "a conqueror without ambition," he said. "All the world knew that I desired nothing but to beat the French out of Spain and then go home to my own country, leaving the Spaniards to manage theirs as they pleased." England lavished honors upon the hero of the Peninsular War. Parliament thanked him, granted him four hundred thousand pounds. He carried the sword of state on the occasion of the peace celebration in St. Paul's Cathedral. London banqueted him in Guildhall.
For a summer and a winter the Duke represented England at Paris and Vienna where the states of Europe were wrangling over the restoration of the continent to its antebellum condition. When Napoleon escaped from Elba and was welcomed to Paris by his former marshals, Europe turned to Wellington to deliver her from the new peril. On the 25th of March, 1815, Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Great Britain formed the Quadruple Alliance, binding themselves to maintain the treaty recently signed at Paris, and not to lay down arms until "Buonaparte should be placed absolutely beyond possibility of exciting disturbance and renewing his attempts to possess himself of the supreme power in France."
The Duke arrived at Brussels on the 4th of April to take command of the allied army. Instead of the grand armies of the Quadruple Alliance he found a composite force of some twenty-five thousand English, Dutch, Belgians, Brunswickers, and Hanoverians. The Prussians had thirty thousand men within co-operating distance. In comparison with the thoroughly disciplined army which he had developed and wielded so skilfully in the peninsula this force cut a sorry figure. The field-marshal's bitterest complaint was that his government had not even provided him with the admirable staff which five years of service had made so familiar with his methods and desires. On the very verge of the campaign he wrote, "I have an infamous army, very weak and ill equipped, and a very inexperienced staff." While the armies of Austria and Russia were advancing upon France the Emperor was setting an enormous force in the field. It was his purpose to fall upon the army on the Belgian frontier before the other allies could enter France. For the invasion of Belgium he selected one hundred and twenty-five thousand men. Prince Blucher, commanding the Prussians, now had as many men, while Wellington, his ally, commanded some ninety- three thousand, of whom barely one-third were British. Five- sixths of the British infantry had never been under fire.
Napoleon's plan was to thrust his army between Blucher and Wellington and defeat them in succession. On the evening of June 15th, news was brought to the Duke at Brussels that the enemy had passed the frontier and were engaging the Prussian outposts. He at once gave the necessary orders for the advance, and after midnight showed himself at the now famous ball of the Duchess of Richmond. At eleven the next forenoon he was at QuatreBras, where his army was engaged in beating off an attack by Marshal Ney, while Blucher was being pounded by Napoleon a few miles to the eastward at Ligny. Both the allies retreated, but instead of separating as Napoleon hoped and believed, they retired along converging lines, the English to Waterloo, the Prussians to Wavre, the positions being connected by a roadway. Through the rain of Saturday, June 17th, Wellington disposed his sixty-nine thousand men and one hundred and fifty-six guns on both sides of the Brussels highway, along which Napoleon advanced on the morrow with seventy-two thousand men and two hundred and forty cannon. The action opened near noon on the 18th, the French making a vain effort to carry the Chteau of Hougomont on the British right. Next an army corps was hurled at the center, only to be stopped by Wellington's cavalry with appalling loss. In the afternoon the Emperor delivered a series of cavalry attacks upon the allied center. Twelve thousand horsemen thundered up the gentle slope past the English guns, only to break against the bayonet-hedged squares of the infantry. At the end of eight hours' fighting the French center had advanced to within sixty yards of the British position, but the line still held, and Blucher's Prussians were rapidly coming up on the right flank. Marshal Grouchy having failed to prevent this fatal manoeuver, Napoleon shot his last bolt, sending Ney with the Old Guard against the British right. But "the bravest of the brave had fought his last battle," and as his ten battalions were flung back in disorder, Wellington gave the word to his whole line to advance. The rush of his reserves of horse scattered the remnants of the tired and disheartened host. The wreck of the grand army drifted back over the border, and the dispirited Emperor, having risked everything in one bold experiment and lost, hastened to Paris, and after a vain attempt to rally the nation once more about his standard, abandoned hope and sought refuge on board the "Bellerophon," British man-of-war (July 15, 1815). At nine o'clock in the evening of the memorable day of Waterloo, Blucher and Wellington met. The grizzled Prussian kissed the grave Englishman on both cheeks in the exuberance of his joy. Without the timely support of his Germans, that day might have had another ending.
Waterloo was the last act of the Napoleonic struggle. The Emperor went into exile at St. Helena to fret against his prison bars and curse his keepers. Wellington had already exhausted his country's sources of honor. All that Parliament could do was to present the fine estate of Strathfieldsaye to him and his heirs on condition of presenting a French tri-color flag to the sovereign at Windsor on each anniversary of the 18th of June.
Wellington was above all a soldier, but for the remaining thirty- six years of his lifetime his country had little employment for the sword. Yet the esteem in which he was held, not only for his military achievements, but for his honesty and common sense, made him a conspicuous figure in public affairs for most of his long life. After Waterloo he remained in France, where his moderation saved Paris from the vengeance of the continental commanders. Of the allied army of occupation which remained in France until 1818, Wellington was commander-in-chief. As head of the commission which passed upon the foreign claims for damages arising from the protracted wars, his fairness again saved France from her rapacious creditors.
His work on the continent done, Wellington returned to England to enter the public service as a member of Lord Liverpool's cabinet. In 1822 he was sent to represent Great Britain at the Congress of the Powers at Verona, where he frustrated Russia's intention of interfering in the affairs of Spain. In 1826 he was sent to Russia on a special mission from Canning to secure the consent of the new Czar to English intervention in behalf of the insurgent Greeks. On the death of the King's brother, the Duke of York, he became commander-in-chief of the army. Disagreement with Canning led him to withdraw from that premier's cabinet in April, 1827, but in the following January (1828), he himself became Prime Minister, with Robert Peel as Home Secretary. With all his Tory loyalty to the Church his administration broke its ancient monopoly. In 1828 he allowed the Test and Corporation Acts to pass, opening the way for Protestant dissenters to hold civil and military office. In 1829 he concluded that relief of the Roman Catholics of Ireland from their political disabilities could no longer be postponed. Peel had been even more reluctant than his chief—a native of Ireland—to reach this decision, but the growing power of the "Catholic Association," the popular organization which the agitator O'Connell had called into existence, compelled immediate action. The King was reluctantly brought to see the expediency of the act, which, when proposed by Pitt a generation before, had so stiffened the neck of his father, George III. Perhaps no minister whose prestige was less than that of the hero of Waterloo could have won the consent of the Hanoverian monarch, whose dynasty had been brought to England for the defense of the Protestant faith. The bill for the emancipation of the Catholics slid easily through the Commons, though the stiff old Tories who had counted Wellington as of their number voted solidly against it. Even the Lords failed to make the expected resistance, and accepted the measure by a vote of two to one despite the known preference of the court and clergy, and a bombardment of Protestant petitions. One peer had thus predicted the result to Macaulay, who was in doubt as to how the Duke would explain the bill and justify his change of front: "0, that will be simple enough. He'll say, 'My Lords! Attention! Right about face! Quick march!' and the thing will be done." King George tried to slip out of his pledges, but the Iron Duke held him fast, and the 13th of April, 1829, the act became a law. It is the chief monument of the Wellington administration.
Against the next great question, the reform of Parliament, he set himself resolutely, expressing his opposition in such unmistakable terms as to forfeit at once his office and his popularity. The London mob stoned his windows, but could not change his attitude toward legislation which he thought pernicious to the welfare of his country. He carried on his opposition when the reform bills began to come up from the Commons into the Peers' chamber. On the 18th of June, 1832, the seventeenth anniversary of Waterloo, he was pelted with stones and dirt by a yelling mob in the streets of London, and only saved from rougher handling by two old soldiers who walked at his stirrups and held back the ruffians until the police came to the rescue. The Reform Bill had already become a law, Wellington and his irreconcilable friends, perceiving the futility of further obstruction, absenting themselves from the chamber rather than vote contrary to their consciences. Even after the reformed Parliament had come into existence this arch aristocrat could see nothing but evil in the outlook. He complained that the House of Commons "had swallowed up all the power of the state," and he was not far wrong. Still his loyalty to the crown, and his determination that the government should be upheld kept him from merely factious opposition and made him a useful servant of the nation. The leader of the majority in the House of Lords, he declined to use his position to thwart the purposes of the popular House. "I do not choose," he said, in 1834, when the Poor Law Bill was up, "I do not choose to be the person to excite a quarrel between the two Houses of Parliament. The quarrel will occur in its time; and the House of Lords will probably be overwhelmed. But it shall not be owing to any action of mine." It was in this year that a singular occurrence showed his unique place in the confidence of King and nation. In November the King dismissed the Melbourne ministry and called on the Duke to form another. The latter perceived that no Tory but Peel could manage the Commons, but Peel was then traveling on the Continent. The Duke accordingly undertook to carry on the government alone until that leader's return. And for five weeks he was the cabinet, holding all the high offices—Treasury, Home, Foreign, and Colonial—himself, so as not to embarrass his successor by making appointments. The Whigs raised a great outcry against this one- man power, but the people rather admired the industry of the veteran who rose at six o'clock in the morning and went the rounds of the departments performing the routine duties with the greatest industry and fidelity and steadily refusing to use his enormous power and patronage for personal or factional rule. Sir Herbert Maxwell, the Duke's latest biographer, has attempted to describe the Duke's political creed by coining a term. He was not "an impracticable Tory," as the Reformers would name him, nor yet a mere "Tory opportunist," as sterner Tories would have it. "He was a possiblist rather than an opportunist, prepared to resist change as long as possible, but to give way rather than throw the power into the hands of those (Radicals) who, he honestly believed, would wreck the realm."
Wellington was foreign secretary in Peel's first cabinet (1834- 35), and commander-in-chief in the second (1841-46). His lifelong political theory is well exemplified by his words when notified by the Prime Minister, in November, 1845, of his intention to suspend the Corn Laws, an act most offensive to his party and social class. "My only object in public life is to support Sir Robert Peel's administration of the government for the Queen. A good government for the country is more important than Corn Laws." In much the same words the aged leader addressed the House of Lords in behalf of Peel's Corn Bill, and though bitterly opposed to the measure, they accepted his guidance and gave the bill their assent. In 1848 there were many who believed that the country was on the brink of a revolution. The Chartist agitation was culminating in the presentation of the great petition to Parliament, and half a million men were to escort it from Kennington to Westminster. Wellington was nearing his seventy- ninth birthday, but the government turned to him to organize the defense of the capital against mob violence. The old warrior- blood warmed in his veins, and he amazed the ministers by the clearness of his plans and the energy and decision with which he carried them out. Though the affair passed off without disturbance, being at all times under police control, so thorough were the Duke's preparations as to have made a successful revolution impossible.
To his latest year the Duke continued to attend the sessions of the Lords, and his opinions were listened to with respectful attention. It was fitting that his last speech there should have been in a military debate, and that in urging the value of militia organization, he should have drawn upon his experience with the raw Hanoverian levies in the Waterloo campaign. This was in the summer of 1852. On the evening of the 13th of the following September he retired in his usual condition of health. The next morning he was seized with sudden illness and did not live the day out.
Enough has been said in this brief sketch of his public career to show that the Duke of Wellington, though among the greatest of English soldiers, cannot rank high among English statesmen, although he served his country in the highest offices. If read in detail the record of his career in the Cabinet and in the House of Lords would confirm the reader in the opinion that his only sure title to greatness rests in his military career. It has often been said that, had he died in the moment of victory as did Nelson, it would have been happier for his fame. But it must not be forgotten that the years of his political action were those in which England was passing through the stages of a social and political revolution, in which the democracy was rising to power and the landed aristocracy was losing prestige and privilege. That this revolution was accomplished without such a convulsion as marked this struggle in other European kingdoms may have been due, in some degree at least, to the fact that the leader of the aristocratic Party was held in honor by the masses of the nation. Moments of exasperation there were when the bitterness of popular feeling against the obstructionists in the House of Lords vented itself upon the Duke, but the prevailing feeling toward him was one of pride in his military achievements and confidence in his honesty. As McCarthy has well said, "His victories belonged to the past. They were but tradition, even to middle-aged persons in the Duke's later years. But he was regarded still as the embodiment of the national heroism and success—a modern St. George in a tightly buttoned frock coat and white trousers!"
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. What share had England taken in the French struggle previous to 1802? 2. What did the Peace of Amiens prove to be? 3. In what ways and with what success did England struggle against Napoleon up to the Peninsular War? 4. Describe the early life of Wellesley. 5. What military experience did lie gain in India? 6. What policy did Napoleon pursue in Spain and Portugal? 7. What qualities fitted Wellesley to command the Peninsular Campaign? 8. Describe Wellington's campaigns up to 1813? 9. How was the Peninsular War finally closed? 10. Describe the struggle at Waterloo. 11. What important acts relative to church questions were enacted under Wellington's ministry? 12. What was his attitude toward the Reform Bill? 13. What curious instance of "one-man power" did he illustrate in 1834? 14. How was his character shown in his position regarding the Corn Laws? 15. How does he rank among great English leaders?
LIFE OF WELLINGTON. By W. Herbert Maxwell. HISTORY OF THE PENINSULAR WAR. By Sir William F. P. Napier. SELECTED DESPATCHES OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON. Edited by S. J. Owen. THE CAMPAIGN OF WATERLOO. By John C. Ropes, The best recent "Life of Wellington" is by Sir Herbert Maxwell. 2 vols. London. The great "History of the Peninsular War" is by Sir Wm. Napier.
GEORGE CANNING AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
[GEORGE CANNING, born, London, April II, 1770; died, London, August 8, 1827; educated at Eton and Oxford; Member of Parliament, 1793; 1797, editor of Anti-Jacobin periodical; 1807- 09, Secretary for Foreign Affairs; 1809, duel with Castlereagh; 1814-16, Ambassador at Lisbon; 1817-20, President of India Board; 1822, appointed Governor-General of India; 1822-27, Minister for Foreign Affairs; 1827, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. Buried in Westminster Abbey.]
During the first twenty years of the nineteenth century Great Britain, though possessing the most liberal constitution of any of the powers, was the consistent ally of the absolute monarchies of Europe. Strange as the situation at first appears, it is not difficult to trace the causes which produced it.
For the explanation of most of the phenomena of European history in the first half of the century the student must turn back to the French Revolution. The social and political ideas which were at the bottom of that great upheaval were in part suggested by the success of free institutions in constitutional England, where parliamentary government had been highly developed while France lay bound by her Bourbon despots. A large body of Englishmen numbering some of the greatest names in politics and literature sympathized deeply with the earlier manifestations of the revolutionary spirit.
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven"
sang Wordsworth, whose youthful enthusiasm over that dawn was soon chilled by the crimes which were committed in the name of Liberty—the slaughter of the royal pair, the reign of the guillotine, and the enthronement of reason in the place of God. The tide of opinion in England was turned by these scenes of lawless license, and when, in 1793, the revolutionary government of France offered its armed aid to all oppressed peoples, England, led by William Pitt, joined Austria and Prussia in a war to suppress the dangerous republic, and restore the Bourbon dynasty to its ancient throne. Seven successive coalitions were thus formed by English diplomacy between 1793 and 1815 to meet the changing phases of the struggle which, after 1803, had ceased to be monarchy against democracy and had become a universal war for self-preservation from Napoleon, the military genius who had made himself the dictator of revolutionary France. When the great war seemed to have come to an end, in 1814-15, and Napoleon was finally caged at St. Helena, England found herself naturally taking a principal part in re-establishing the Bourbon Louis XVIII. on the throne of France. She had stood with the other powers so long against a common foe that she continued to stand with them now in undoing, as far as might be, the work which the disturbing and renovating conqueror had wrought in the kingdoms which he had overrun. Not only were the old boundaries generally restored and the exiled monarchs brought back to replace the upstart Bonaparte kings, but the constitutional freedom which the French arms had introduced in many parts of Europe was annulled wherever possible. The Congress of Vienna, in which the allied powers formulated their policy, did its best to turn back the shadow twenty years on the dial of progress, and England either joined in the effort or stood by consenting to the death of so many newly won liberties.
When the allied sovereigns were met in Napoleon's capital after Waterloo, the Czar of Russia conceived a thought which seemed to him to be an inspiration. In the ecstasy of the hour of deliverance from the sword which had been the nightmare of the continent for a generation Alexander proposed to his fellow potentates a covenant binding them to be governed by the principles of Christian justice and charity in their dealings with their own subjects and in their mutual relations. Sincere and pious as the Czar undoubtedly was, this agreement, which was accepted by the other monarchs, excepting George IV. of England, did not produce the results which one might suppose from its name, the Holy Alliance. It was used not only to stifle the spirit of liberty in western Europe, but its baleful influence was felt in Italy, Spain, and Greece. In effect it was a trades- union in which the allied crowned-heads undertook to stifle popular liberty wherever it showed signs of life. When Alexander explained his proposal to the English commissioners at Paris they could scarcely keep a straight face at its absurdity. Yet though England refused to become a member of the Holy Alliance, she did allow herself for a period of several years to be ruled by its decisions, or at least to allow them to be enforced without a protest.
Such in brief was the chain of events which associated the foreign policy of England with that of the Holy Alliance. The brilliant statesman who broke away from this foreign policy and led England out upon a line of independent action was George Canning.
The future Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister was born in London, April II, 1770. His father was an Englishman from the north of Ireland, who had read law, but failed to get clients, and had succeeded at nothing, from pamphleteering to selling wine. He died on his babe's first birthday. The widow married an actor and essayed a stage career. What would have become of little George had he remained in his mother's company is an interesting speculation. An actor called the attention of his uncle, a London banker, to the probability that the lad was on the high road to the gallows—to which in those days more than one road led. This uncle, Stratford Canning, assumed the responsibility of the child's education, sent him to Eton and later to Oxford. At the former he distinguished himself by his witty contributions to "The Microcosm'—most famous of school-boy periodicals—and at the University where he was graduated, B.A., in 1791 he won some distinction in literature and oratory, taking the University prize with his Latin poem. At Oxford he passed through the "blissful dawn" of which Wordsworth sang, and was an enthusiastic admirer of the French Revolution of 1789 and of the British Whigs who supported it—Fox, Sheridan, and their sort. He came up to London as the tide was turning, and his own opinion was among the first to change. Pitt, the Prime Minister, had been apprised of his talent, sent for him, and had him "chosen" to the House of Commons, a simple matter in those unregenerate days, when the Tory chieftains had their pockets full of boroughs.
Pitt gave Canning a minor government office—he was not yet thirty years of age—and treated him almost as a son, the young man reciprocating the regard with a really filial devotion. He was ambitious for advancement, and discontented with his slow promotion. In 1797, in company with other choice spirits, he began the publication of The Anti-Jacobin, a weekly periodical which for nearly a year held up to merciless ridicule that section of the British public which still countenanced the ruling ideas of the French Revolution. When the King's refusal to yield on the question of Catholic emancipation (1801) compelled Pitt to resign, Canning went out of office with him. Addington, the stupid mediocrity who succeeded Pitt, provoked Canning's pen to fresh lampoons, some of them long remembered for their savage personalities.
When Pitt resumed the premiership, in 1804, to direct the new struggle with Napoleon, he again bestowed office upon Canning, and when he died, in 1806, Canning became the leader of the group of Pittites who endeavored to perpetuate his ideas. In 1807 he entered the cabinet in the important capacity of Foreign Secretary.
As Foreign Secretary under the spiritless premiership of the Duke of Portland, Canning was allowed free hand. The two years and a half during which he directed the foreign office were marked by a succession of moves which gave a new aspect to the contest with Napoleon.
Canning entered upon his duties just as the Fourth Coalition was being hammered to pieces, on the same anvil which had destroyed the others. By the Treaty of Tilsit (July, 1807), Napoleon prepared to unite the northern nations in his war on British commerce. Hearing or divining his purpose to further this project by seizing the fleet of Denmark, Canning dispatched an armed force to Copenhagen with a demand for the surrender of the Danish ships. The order was executed, and the Danish vessels were brought back to England, though at the cost of a bombardment of the Danish capital. The French Emperor's eye was fastened on the fleet of Portugal as another auxiliary, and when the Regent refused to accede to his request, Napoleon dispatched Marshal Junot to drive him from his kingdom and hold its ports and fortresses against England.
England now stood almost alone, and Napoleon hoped to complete her ruinous isolation by destroying her trade with Europe. His "Continental System," which was to make the continent commercially independent of Great Britain, was foreshadowed in his Berlin Decrees. Fresh decrees were now met by fresh Orders in Council, "shutting out from the continent all vessels which had not touched at a British port." It was Canning whose genius caught at the strategic possibilities of a war in the peninsula (Spain-Portugal) as a practical opening on the French flank for a final blow at the Napoleonic power. Napoleon's interference in the government of Spain by dethroning its monarchs and giving the crown to his brother Joseph had exasperated that proud nation and provoked the spirited people to arm against the intruder. The Portuguese were scarcely less bitter against the French conqueror. Canning perceived the possibility of gaining a foothold in these kingdoms, which were easily accessible by sea, and by utilizing the spirit and resources of the aroused nations to consolidate a power there which would threaten France itself, whose borders the great soldier had thus far kept inviolate. How ably Sir Arthur Wellesley fulfilled Mr. Canning's desire the life of Wellington has already shown.