Hitherto the United Irishmen had obtained little support from the Catholics, who were entirely out of sympathy with the Protestantism of one section of the party, and the irreligion of Wolfe Tone and his immediate associates. They preferred to look to the British Government, and especially to Pitt who was known to be favourable to the Catholic claims. But the Protestants in the Irish Parliament were too strong for him, and only a few remedial measures were passed and those inconsiderable in extent. In 1792 Sir Hercules Langrishe, with the consent of the Government, succeeded in carrying a Bill which admitted Catholics to the profession of the law, removed restrictions on their education, and repealed the Intermarriage Act. In 1793 the Irish Secretary, Major Hobart, succeeded, after much Government pressure, in carrying a second Catholic Relief Bill, admitting Catholics to the grand juries, magistracy, and finally to the franchise, though not to Parliament. Further than that Pitt could not be induced to go. He would neither consent to the admission of Catholics to Parliament, nor would he consent to a measure of Parliamentary reform, though the state of the representation was about as rotten as could possibly be conceived. From an inquiry instituted some years earlier it appeared that out of a House of 300 members 124 were nominated by 53 peers, while 91 others were chosen by 52 commoners. The British ascendency was, in fact, maintained by a system of organised corruption and place-holding, which failed only when religious bigotry carried the day.

Nor did these terms contain anything like the extent of tyranny imposed on the conscience of the nation by these monarchs. By the 29 Elizabeth it was provided that what right or property any person might dispose of, or settle on any of his[162] family, should still be liable to these penalties if the proprietor and disposer of them neglected to go to church. So that a son might be deprived of lands or other property settled upon him at his marriage, or at any other time, if his father ceased to attend church, though he himself went punctually; and by the 21 James I. the informers were stimulated by great rewards to lay complaints against all whom they could discover offending. And, moreover, any person was to be considered an absentee from church, and liable to all the penalties, who did not remain in church during the whole time of the service; and, also, not only on Sundays, "but upon all the other days ordained and used to be kept as holidays." All these odious enactments were left in force by the Toleration Act, except that they did not compel every one to go to church, but to some licensed place of worship.

At sea, Sir Edward Hawke attacked the French fleet under Admiral Conflans at the mouth of the Vilaine in Quibron Bay. The situation, amid rocks and shoals, and with a sea running high, so late in the year as the 20th of November, was most perilous, but Hawke scorned all danger, attacked the French fleet close under their own shores, took two men-of-war, sank four more, including the admiral's ship, the Soleil Royal, and caused the rest, more or less damaged, to take refuge up the river. Two of our own vessels were stranded in the night, but their crews and stores were saved. For this brilliant action, which crippled the French navy for the remainder of the war, Hawke was thanked by Parliament, received from the king a pension of one thousand five hundred pounds a-year for his own and his son's life, and, in the next reign, was raised to the peerage. Thurot, meanwhile, had escaped out of Dunkirk, but with only five ships, which kept out of the way by seeking shelter in the ports of Sweden and Norway. As a means of popularity, they insisted on the standing army being abolished in time of peace, on the strict limitation of placemen in Parliament, and on the return to triennial Parliaments. These were hard topics for the patriots now in power to digest. But the depression of trade continued, and no one could suggest a remedy but that of reducing taxation at the very time that all parties were zealous for the prosecution of the war. Finding no other solution to their difficulties, the public turned again to the demand of an inquiry into the administration of Walpole, hoping to lay bare in that the causes of their sufferings. Accordingly Lord Limerick, on the 23rd of March, rose and proposed a committee to inquire into the administration of Walpole, not for twenty, but for the last ten years. Pulteney not only voted, but spoke in favour of this motion, and it was carried by a majority of seven. Lord Limerick was chosen chairman, and such was the partial and vindictive spirit in which they went to work in examining papers and witnesses, that the honourable-minded Sir John Barnard, though so staunch an opponent of Walpole when in power, declared that he would no longer take part in the labours of a committee which displayed so little regard to the general inquiry, but concentrated all their efforts on the ruin of one individual.

Pichegru, on his part, having driven back Clairfait, turned round on the Duke of York, who lay at Tournay. There he met with a severe repulse, and fell back with heavy loss; but Clairfait having again advanced to regain Courtrai, Pichegru once more engaged and defeated him. Clairfait then fell back into Flanders, to cover Ghent, Bruges, and Ostend. Pichegru, urged on against his better judgment by St. Just, who was the Commissioner from the Convention, sent Kleber and Marceau across the Sambre to attack General Kaunitz; but Kaunitz gave the French a severe defeat, killing four thousand of them; and had the Austrians been as rapid as they were brave, they might have nearly exterminated the whole of the French division. This success inspirited the Allies to advance actively, but the Duke of York, not taking into account the habitual slowness of German troops, shot ahead, expecting to fall in with Clairfait's columns at Turcoing; but there he only found the French, under Souham and Bonnaud, who well nigh enveloped him by their vast numbers, totally defeated, and nearly took him prisoner. This gave such a panic to the Austrians, that the entire army fell back, and Francis II., thoroughly discouraged, withdrew from the command and left it to the Prince of Coburg. The Duke of York rallied, and maintained his ground at Tournay against Pichegru, and Kaunitz followed up his advantage against Kleber and Moreau, driving them across the Sambre; but these were only temporary successes. Jourdain, finding no Prussians in the Moselle, drew nearer to the camp of Pichegru. There were various conflicts at Ypres, Charleroi, and on the plains of Fleurus. The Allies drove the French three times across the Sambre, but they returned with fresh and never-ending forces, and compelled the Allies to a general retreat. Bruges opened its gates to the French; Pichegru, aided by Moreau, compelled the Duke of York to retire successively on Oudenarde, Tournay, and Antwerp, places filled with the fame of Marlborough. At Antwerp the Duke of York was joined by Lord Moira, with ten thousand men, intended originally for La Vende, but too late to prevent the massacre of Savenay. The English garrison quitted Ostend, and came round to Antwerp; and the British occupied that town, whilst Clairfait lay at Louvain, and the two armies, unitedly, protected Mechlin.

The celebrated Reform Ministry consisted of the following members:In the Cabinet: First Lord of the Treasury, Earl Grey; Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham; Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the Commons, Lord Althorp; President of the Council, Marquis of Lansdowne; Lord Privy Seal, Earl of Durham; Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne; Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston; Secretary of the Colonies, Lord Ripon; First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham; President of the Board of Control, Mr. Charles Grant; Postmaster-General, Duke of Richmond; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Holland; without office, Lord Carlisle. Not in the Cabinet there were: President of the Board of Trade, Lord Auckland; Secretary at War, Mr. C. W. Wynn; Master-General of Ordnance, Sir James Kemp; Paymaster-General of the Forces, Lord John Russell; Lord Chamberlain, Duke of Devonshire; Lord Steward, Marquis Wellesley; Master of the Horse, Lord Albemarle; Groom of the Stole, Marquis of Winchester; First Commissioner of Land Revenue, Mr. Agar Ellis; Treasurer of the Navy, Mr. Poulett Thompson; Attorney-General, Sir T. Denman; Solicitor-General, Sir W. Horne. In Ireland the office-bearers were: Lord-Lieutenant, Marquis of Anglesey; Lord Chancellor, Lord Plunket; Commander of the Forces, Sir John Byng; Chief Secretary, Mr. Stanley; Attorney-General, Mr. Blackburne; Solicitor-General, Mr. Crampton. In Scotland they were: Lord Advocate, Mr. Jeffrey; Solicitor-General, Mr. Cockburn. The saying of Lord Grey, that he would stand by his order, has been often quoted as characteristic of his aristocratic spirit. He certainly did stand by it on this occasion, for his Cabinet could scarcely have been more aristocratic than it was. It consisted of thirteen members, of whom eleven were peers, or sons of peers, one was a baronet, and one an untitled commoner.


Had the sovereigns of Europe been in earnest in behalf of the King of France, and had they at once marched into the country, they could scarcely have failed to make themselves masters of Paris; though they might have precipitated the deaths of the king and queen. But, in truth, the kings of Europe were in no such chivalrous mood; they were thinking more of their own interests, and actually, some of them, planning the most disgraceful robberies of their neighbours. Spain, seeing no sign of coalition[387] amongst the northern sovereigns, expressed its friendly disposition towards the French Government, and prevented an attempt on its southern provinces, in which the Knights of Malta were to assist with two frigates. The French Emigrants at Brussels and Coblenz were in a state of agitation, declaring that Monsieur, who had now joined them, was the Regent of the kingdom, seeing that the king was a prisoner and had no will of his own. The poor king was compelled by the Assembly to write to them, disavowing these proceedings. As to the Powers in general, Leopold of Austria, who had the most direct interest in the rescue of his sister and her family, was, notwithstanding his recent declarations, desirous rather of peace and by no means pleased with the Emigrants. A declaration of allied sovereigns was, indeed, made at Pillnitz, that Prussia and Austria and Russia would advance to the rescue of Louis XVI.; but the more immediate object of the agreement made there was the dismemberment of Poland, which was determined in secret articles. Any concerted action on the part of the Powers was, in fact, rendered impossible by the action of Pitt, who, true to his policy of neutrality and of holding aloof from any interference in the domestic concerns of France, declined to sanction any appeal to arms.

Still, Fox took the opportunity to sound the French Government as to the possibility of peace. In a correspondence with Talleyrand he said that Britain would be willing to treat on reasonable terms, the first condition of which was that the Emperor Alexander should be admitted to the treaty. This was at once refused; yet Fox did not give up the attempt, and at length the French Government proposed that a British ambassador should go to Paris, to endeavour to arrange the principles of an agreement. Fox complied. Before a British plenipotentiary was[518] permitted to proceed to Paris, the great points of the negotiation should have been brought forward, and it should have been seen whether there was a probability of agreeing. It should have been understood whether Buonaparte was disposed to surrender Naples again, which Britain demanded; to require the retirement of the Prussians from Hanover, even if nothing was said of Holland and Switzerland. To send a plenipotentiary without having ascertained these points was simply to enable Buonaparte to boast that he had sought to conciliate, and that British rapacity and ambition rendered all his overtures useless. This was exactly what occurred. Lord Yarmouth, late Marquis of Hertford, who had been residing for years in France as one of Buonaparte's dtenus at the Peace of Amiens, was first sent. Lord Yarmouth arrived in Paris towards the end of May, and though it had been settled that the negotiations should, for the present, remain secret, the French had taken care to make every Court in Europe well acquainted with the fact. Then one of the very first demandshaving got the ambassador therewas for the recognition, not only of Buonaparte as emperor, but also of all his family as princes and princesses of the blood. Next they came to the surrender of Naples, but Talleyrand assured Lord Yarmouth that the Emperor, so far from giving up Naples, or any part of Italy, must have Sicily, which was in possession of the British, because Joseph Buonaparte, now made King of Naples, declared that it could not be held without Sicily. France, Talleyrand said, would consent to Britain holding Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, which we had taken again, and would not only restore Hanover to us, but also allow us to seize on the Hanse Towns and Hamburg! We were in fact, to be permitted to set up for marauders, like themselves, and invade neutral States, and appropriate them; but, as for Naples or Sicily being restored, that was impossible. Lord Yarmouth also demanded that Dalmatia, Istria, and Albania should be restored, the last to the Turks, whose empire should regain its entirety. These points were equally resisted. Meanwhile, Prussia had taken the alarm about Hanover, and Russia, fearful of our treating without her, sent to Paris Count d'Oubril. Talleyrand managed to excite jealousies between the British and Russian envoys, to such a degree, that d'Oubril quitted Paris hastily, and returned to St. Petersburg. Instead of peace, the elements of new heartburnings and wars every day developed themselves. Finding that Lord Yarmouth did not succeed. Fox sent over the Earl of Lauderdale, but he got on no better. Buonaparte insisted that Sicily should be given up to Naples, and a little mock monarchy should be created for Ferdinand, the ex-king, in the Balearic Isles, which were to be taken unceremoniously from Spain. Lord Lauderdale, after a month's waste of words, demanded his passports, and returned; and Fox had now had ample proof that no peace was to be effected with Napoleon, except upon the terms of leaving the Continent to his dictation.

Sir E. Bulwer Lytton (afterwards Lord Lytton) is chiefly known as a most successful novelist, but he won fame also as a dramatic author, his chief productions in this line being The Lady of Lyons and Richelieu. He was born in 1805, and was the youngest son of General Bulwer, of Haydon Hall. He commenced the career of authorship very early, having written "Weeds and Wild Flowers," "O'Neil, the Rebel," and "Falkland," before the appearance of "Pelham" in 1828. Then in rapid succession appeared "The Disowned," "Devereux," "Paul Clifford," "Eugene Aram," "The Last Days of Pompeii," "Rienzi," "Ernest Maltravers," "Alice, or the Mysteries," "The Last of the Barons," "Harold, or the Last of the Saxon Kings," and several others. In 1831 he entered the House of Commons, and represented Lincoln till 1841. His political career, however, belongs to the reign of Queen Victoria.

Burgoyne was now in a condition which demanded all the talents of a great general. His forces were heavily reduced, those of the enemy much increased, and he was amongst bogs and wildernesses, which Barrington and Barr had from the first declared would be fatal to any army. He had sent express after express to Howe to urge a movement in co-operation, but no news of it arrived, and every day he was becoming more and more cut off from advance or retreat. Whilst these circumstances were operating against him, Burgoyne collected his artillery and provisions for about a month, and, forming a bridge of boats, passed his army, on the 13th and 14th of September, over the Hudson, and encamped on the heights and plains of Saratoga. Just at this juncture Schuyler had been superseded by his successor Gates, yet he himself remained to give his assistance in the campaign. The day after Gates assumed the command, Morgan had marched in with his rifle corps, five hundred strong, and Major Dearborn with two hundred and fifty other picked men. Arnold, too, had returned from pursuit of St. Leger, with two thousand men. The Americans numbered, with militia continually flocking in, nearly eight thousand, whilst Burgoyne's force did not exceed half that number. To approach the Americans it was necessary to cross the low ground, seamed with watercourses and rugged with scrub and stones, and to lay down bridges and causeways. This being completed, on the 19th the British army took position at Bemus's Heights in front of the American left. Gates, stimulated by the presence of Arnold, began the attack by sending out a detachment to turn Burgoyne's right flank, but they soon perceived the covering division of Fraser, and retreated. Gates then put Arnold at the head of a still stronger detachment to fall directly on Burgoyne's position, and a severe fight commenced about three o'clock in the afternoon, which lasted until sunset. Arnold made the most impetuous[243] assaults on the British line to break it, but everywhere in vain, although the whole weight of the attack fell on three or four of our regiments, the rest being posted on some hills, and the Germans on the left at a greater distance. Whenever they advanced into the open field, the fire of the American marksmen from their concealment drove them back in disorder; but whenever the Americans ventured out, the British rushed forward and committed havoc amongst them; so the contest continued till night. The British remained in the field and claimed the victory; but it was a victory severely won, and far from decisive. The losses on both sides had been from five hundred to six hundred killed and wounded.