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The Americans did not make their Declaration of Independence till they had communicated with France. The British Government, as Lord North publicly declared in Parliament, had long heard of American emissaries at Paris seeking aid there. A secret committee, which had Thomas Paine for its secretary, was appointed to correspond with the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world. Encouraged by the assurances of France, the secret committee was soon converted into a public one, and agents were sent off to almost every court of Europe to invite aid of one kind or another against the mother country, not omitting even Spain, Naples, Holland and Russia. Silas Deane was dispatched to Paris in March of this year, to announce the growing certainty of a total separation of the colonies from Great Britain, and to solicit the promised co-operation. [529]

When peace was made in Europe, the United States became anxious for peace too. Madison had begun the war in the ungenerous hope of wresting Canada from Great Britain, because he thought her too deeply engaged in the gigantic war against Napoleon to be able to defend that colony. He believed that it would fall an easy prey; that the Canadians must so greatly admire the model republic that they would abandon monarchy at the first call, and that he should thus have the glory of absorbing that great world of the north into the American Republic. In all this, he and those who thought with him found themselves egregiously deceived. The Canadians showed they were staunchly attached to Great Britain, and the attempts at invasion were beaten back by the native militia and by our handful of troops with the greatest ease. Meanwhile, the blockade of the east, and the seizure of the merchant shipping, drove the New England and other eastern States to desperation. Throughout this war Great Britain made a uniform declaration of a preference for peace, but her offers were regularly rejected so long as Napoleon was triumphant. The United States, professing the utmost love of freedom, were the blind and enthusiastic worshippers of the man who was trampling the liberties of all Europe under his feet. It was not till the last momentnot till he had been defeated in Russia, driven by Britain out of Spain, routed and pursued out of Germany, and compelled to renounce the Imperial Crown of Francethat the American Government began to understand the formidable character of the Power which it had so long and so insolently provoked, and to fear the whole weight of its resentment directed against its shores. It is certain that, had Britain been animated by a spirit of vengeance, it had now the opportunity, by sending strong fleets and a powerful army to the coast of America, to ravage her seaboard towns, and so utterly annihilate her trade as to reduce her to the utmost misery, and to precipitate a most disastrous system of internal disintegration. The New England States, in 1814, not only threatened to secede, but stoutly declared that they would not furnish another shilling towards paying the expenses of the war. They even intimated an idea of making a separate peace with Britain. In Massachusetts especially these[114] menaces were vehement. Governor Strong spoke out plainly in the Legislative Chamber of that State. Madison endeavoured to mollify this spirit by abandoning his Embargo and Emancipation Acts, but this was now too late, for the strict blockade of the British, in 1814, rendered these Acts perfectly dead.

THE ENGLISH PLENIPOTENTIARIES INSULTED IN THE STREETS OF UTRECHT. (See p. 7.) On the 1st of December, 1837, shortly after the opening of Parliament, Lord John Russell introduced a question of great urgencythe relief of the Irish poor. After going through, and commenting on, the several recommendations of the Inquiry Commissioners, and noticing the objections to which they were all more or less open, he explained, by way of contrast, the principles on which the present Bill was founded, much in the same manner that he had done on the first introduction of the measure. The statement was generally well received, although there were some marked exceptions in this respect; and the Bill was read a first time without a division. It was, in like manner, read a second time on the 5th of February, 1838; but, on the motion for going into committee, on the 9th, Mr. O'Connell strongly opposed it, and moved that it be committed that day six months. The amendment was, however, negatived by 277 to 25, a majority which made the passing of the measure in some form pretty certain. On the 23rd of February the question of settlement was again very fully discussed, and its introduction opposed by 103 to 31, the latter number comprising all that could be brought to vote for a settlement law of any kind. The vagrancy clauses were for the present withdrawn from the Bill, on the understanding that there would hereafter be a separate measure for the suppression of mendicancy. The Bill continued to be considered in successive committees until the 23rd of March, when, all the clauses having been gone through and settled, it was ordered to be reported, which was done on the 9th of April. On the 30th of April the Bill was read a third time and passed by the Commons, and on the day following was introduced and read a first time in the Lords. Many of the peers, whose estates were heavily encumbered, were alarmed at the threatened imposition of a poor-rate, which might swallow up a large portion of their incomes. Those who were opposed to a poor law on economic principles,[449] appealed to their lordships' fears, and excited a determined opposition against the measure. On the 21st of May there was a stormy debate of nine hours' duration. Lord Melbourne moved the second reading in a judicious speech, in which he skilfully employed the best arguments in favour of a legal provision for the poor, stating that this measure was, in fact, but the extension to Ireland of the English Act of 1834, with such alterations as were adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that country. It would suppress mendicancy, and would abate agrarian violence, while relieving the destitute in a way that would not paralyse the feeling of energy and self-reliance. Among the most violent opponents of the measure was Lord Lyndhurst, who declared that it would lead to a dissolution of the union. The Duke of Wellington, on the contrary, contended that the Bill, if amended in committee, would improve the social relations of the people of Ireland, and would induce the gentry to pay some attention to their properties, and to the occupiers and labourers on their estates. He objected, however, to a law of settlement as leading to unbounded litigation and expense. Owing chiefly to the support of the Duke, the second reading was carried by a majority of 149 to 20. On the motion that the Bill be committed, on the 28th of May, a scene of confusion and violence was presented, surpassing anything that could have been expected in such a dignified assembly. The Irish peers especially were in a state of extreme excitement. The discussion was adjourned to the 31st, and, after a debate of eight hours, the clause embodying the principle of the Bill was adopted by a majority of 107 to 41. The Bill was considered in committee on the 7th, 21st, 22nd, and 26th of June, and was read a third time on the 6th of July. It had now passed the Lords, altered, and in some respects improved; although, in the opinion of its author, the charge upon electoral divisions approximated too nearly to settlement to be quite satisfactory. The Royal Assent was given to the measure on the 31st of July, and thus a law was at length established making provision for the systematic and efficient relief of destitution in Ireland.

This most bloody of battles took place on the 7th of September. There were about one hundred and twenty thousand men engaged on each side, and the guns on each side are said to have amounted to one thousand. Before the battle, the priests passed along the ranks of the Russians, reminding them of the wrongs they had suffered, and promising paradise to all that fell. Buonaparte, on his side, issued this proclamation:"Soldiers! here is the battle you have longed for! It is necessary, for it brings us plenty, good winter-quarters, and a safe return to France. Behave yourselves so that posterity may say of you'He was in that great battle under the walls of Moscow.'" It was rather a damping circumstance that the day before the battle Buonaparte received the news of Wellington's victory at Salamanca. The battle commenced at seven o'clock in the morning, and continued the greater part of the day, the Russians, even to the newest levies, fighting with the most immovable courage. Buonaparte demanded of Caulaincourt whether the Russians were determined to conquer or die? He replied that they had been fanaticised by their leaders, and would be killed rather than surrender. Buonaparte then ordered up every possible gun, on his plan of battering an army as he would batter a fortress. Still the Russians fought on furiously, and Berthier urged him to call up his "young Guard." But he replied, "And if there is another battle to-morrow, where is my army?"

For this rebuff, to which he did not even venture an answer, Lord Palmerston speedily obtained a dexterous revenge. Kossuth, Bem, Dembinski, and some thousands of the Hungarian leaders, found refuge at Shumla, within the Turkish frontier. A joint and imperative demand was made by Austria and Russia upon the Sultan to deliver them up. This demand was enforced by two envoys from each Court. The pressure was resisted by the Sultan, who refused to yield to a demand which required him to violate his own honour, the national dignity, the dictates of humanity, and the most sacred rights of hospitality. He took this course at the risk of a rupture with Russia, and though he was pledged by treaty to refuse to shelter both Austrian and Russian malcontents. But he was strongly supported by Lord Palmerston and the French Government, who[582] having gained time by the Sultan's despatch of a special mission to St. Petersburg, ordered the British and French fleets to move up to the Dardanelles and Smyrna. Thereupon the autocratic Powers lowered their tone, Russia demanding only the expulsion of the Poles, Austria the internment of some thirty of the refugees. The refugees were removed to Kutaya, in Asia Minor, where they remained till August 22nd, 1851. On the 1st of September in that year Kossuth left Turkey. On his arrival at Marseilles he was refused permission to travel through France; but he was hospitably received at Gibraltar and Lisbon, and on the 28th of October arrived safely in England, where he was welcomed with unbounded enthusiasm. During these negotiations Palmerston had displayed a courage which raised his reputation both at home and abroad.