The Association had become so formidable, and was yet so carefully kept within the bounds of law by "Counsellor O'Connell," in whose legal skill the Roman Catholics of all classes had unbounded confidence, that the Government resolved to procure an Act of Parliament for its suppression. Accordingly, on the 11th of February, 1825, a Bill was brought into the House of Commons by the Irish Chief Secretary, Mr. Goulburn, under the title of Unlawful Societies in Ireland Bill. The plural form caused a great deal of debating. The Government declared they wished to include the Orange Society as well as the Catholic Association. But the Opposition had no faith in this declaration, and Mr. Brougham stated that they would put down the Catholic Association with one hand and pat the Orange Society on the back with the other. The debates on the subject were very animated, and touched upon constitutional questions of the widest interest to the public. The Irish Attorney-General said he did not deny that if a set of gentlemen thought fit to unite for those purposes, it was in their power to do so; but then came the question as to the means which they employed, and those means he denied to be constitutional. "They have," he said, "associated with them the Catholic clergy, the Catholic nobility, many of the Catholic gentry, and all the surviving delegates of 1791. They have established committees in every district, who keep up an extensive correspondence through the country. This Association, consisting originally of a few members, has now increased to 3,000. They proceeded to establish a Roman Catholic rent; and in every single parish, of the 2,500 parishes into which Ireland is divided, they appointed twelve Roman Catholic collectors, which make an army of 30,000. Having this their army of collectors, they brought to their assistance 2,500 priests, and the whole ecclesiastical body. And thus provided, they go about levying contributions on the peasantry." This Mr. Plunket pronounced to be unconstitutional, though not in the strict sense illegal; the Association was a representative and a tax-levying body. He denied that any portion of the subjects of this realm had a right to give their suffrages to others, had a right to select persons to speak their sentiments, to debate upon their grievances, and to devise measures for their removal. This was the privilege alone of the Commons of the United Kingdom. He would not allow that species of power to anybody not subjected to proper control. But to whom were those individuals accountable? Where was their responsibility? Who was to check them? Who was to stop their progress? By whom were they to be tried or rebuked if found acting mischievously? People not acquainted with Ireland were not aware of the nature of this formidable instrument of power, greater than the power of the sword. Individuals connected with it went into every house and every family. They mixed in all the relations of private life, and afterwards detailed what they heard with the utmost freedom. The Attorney-General could not conceive a more deadly instrument of tyranny than it was when it interfered with the administration of justice. Claiming to represent six millions of the people of Ireland, it denounced as a public enemy, and arraigned at the bar of justice, any individual it chose to accuse of acting contrary to the popular interest. Thus the grand inquest of the people were the accusers, and there was an unlimited supply of money to carry on the prosecution. The consequence was that magistrates were intimidated, feeling that there was no alternative but to yield, or be overwhelmed by the tide of fierce popular passions.

Blucher's headquarters were at Namur, his right extending to Charleroi, near the left of Wellington, and his left and reserves covering Gevil and Lige. His force amounted to eighty thousand men, supplied with two hundred cannon. On the 15th Buonaparte addressed his army, telling them that the enemies arrayed against them were the same that they had so often beaten, and whom they must beat again if they were the men they had been. "Madmen!" he exclaimed, "the moment of prosperity has blinded them. The oppression and humiliation of the French people are beyond their power. If they enter France they will there find their tomb!" This address had such an effect that the French advanced with all the spirit of their former days. They swept the western bank of the Sambre of the Prussian outposts; they advanced to Charleroi, drove out the Prussians under Ziethen, and compelled them to fall back on the village of Gosselies, and thence to Ligny and St. Amand. It was now seen that the object of Buonaparte was to cut off the communication between the Prussians and British, and defeat the Prussians first, instead of having to fight the two armies at once. To complete this Ney had been dispatched to attack and drive back the British advance at Quatre Bras and Frasnes; but, hearing firing in the direction of Charleroi, which was the engagement with Ziethen, he sent a division to support the French there, and thus found his main body too weak to move the British at Quatre Bras. For doing this without orders, Buonaparte reprimanded Ney, as he afterwards did Grouchy for too implicitly following his orders in pursuit of Blucher. Whilst the latter scenes of this great tragedy were passing, in Britain a new Parliament assembled on the 24th of November, and amongst its first acts were, before Christmas, to vote one hundred thousand pounds to the Marquis of Wellington, and two hundred thousand pounds for the relief of sufferers in Russia. And thus closed the remarkable year of 1812.

The Government determined to make the most formidable preparations for the preservation of the peace, and for putting down a riot, should it occur. Troops were seen directing their march from all quarters to the metropolis, and there was not a village in the vicinity which did not display the plumed helmet. George IV., always excessively fond of show and pomp, was resolved that the ceremonial of his coronation should outshine anything in history. The nation entered into the spirit of the occasion, and the metropolis was full of excitement. As early as one o'clock on the morning of the 19th of July, Westminster, the scene of this magnificent pageant, presented a dazzling spectacle. Even at that early hour, those who were fortunate enough to obtain places were proceeding to occupy them. From Charing Cross two streams of carriages extended, one to the Abbey and the other to Westminster Hall. The streets were crowded with foot passengers eager to secure seats on the platforms erected along the way, or some standing-place. All distinctions of rank were lost in the throng of eager expectants; judges, bishops, peers, commanders, wealthy citizens, richly dressed ladies, all mingled in the moving masses that converged towards the great centre of attraction. The career of Lord Ellenborough as Governor-General of India was one of the most remarkable in its annals. He went out for the purpose of inaugurating a policy of peace, conciliation, and non-intervention. His course from that day was one of constant aggression and war. The conquests of Scinde and Gwalior were planned and prepared for deliberately and in good time; and when the Governments to be subdued were goaded into hostilities, he was ready to pounce upon them with overwhelming force. His friends defended this policy on the ground that, though it was aggressive it was self-defensive; to guard against a possible, but very remote contingencyan invasion of the Sikhs to drive the British out of India. The Governor-General, however, had become entirely too warlike; and since he had smelt powder and tasted blood at Gwalior, the Board of Control, who had already formally censured his Scinde policy, became so alarmed at his martial propensities that they determined on his immediate recall, and sent out Sir Henry Hardinge to rule in his stead.

Immediately on the rejection of his terms Frederick William concluded a treaty with Alexander on the 28th of February, and Austria was invited to join the league. Alexander had joined his army himself on the 22nd of December, and had marched along with it through that horrible winter. On the 1st of March Prussia concluded its alliance with Alexander, offensive and defensive. On the 15th Alexander arrived at Breslau, and there was an affecting meeting of the two sovereigns, who had been placed in outward hostility by the power of Buonaparte, but who had never ceased to be friends at heart. The King of Prussia was moved to tears. "Courage, my brother," said Alexander; "these are the last tears that Napoleon shall cause you." [458] While these changes were being made in Italy, the British, with their new allies, the Russians, made an abortive attempt to drive the French from Holland. An army of seventeen thousand Russians and thirteen thousand British was assembled on the coast of Kent, and Sir Ralph Abercromby, who was destined to fall on a more memorable field, taking the command of a division of twelve thousand men, Admiral Mitchell put them across to the coast of Holland. Abercromby landed, and took the fort of the Helder, and our fleet, occupying the Texel, compelled the Dutch fleet to surrender and mount the Orange flag. So long as Abercromby commanded, he repelled all the attacks of the French general, Brune, with a force more than double in number; but on the 13th of September the Duke of York arrived with the remainder of the Anglo-Russian army and took the chief command. From that moment all went wrong. The old want of success followed the royal duke, who, whatever his courage, certainly possessed no abilities as a general. By the 17th of October, notwithstanding the bravery of his troops, he was glad to sign a convention by which he was allowed to withdraw his army, on condition of the liberation of eight thousand French and Dutch prisoners of war in England. In Switzerland, too, Massena defeated Korsakoff at Zurich, and Suvaroff, believing himself to have been betrayed by the Austrians, effected a brilliant retreat over the mountains.

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On the 17th of Julya week after the burial of the Kingthe Queen went in state to meet Parliament. She was received along the line of procession with extraordinary enthusiasm; and never on the accession of a Sovereign was the House of Peers so thronged by ladies of rank. A tone of kindness, mercy, and conciliation, befitting her youth and sex, marked her first Speech from the Throne. She stated that she regarded with peculiar interest the measures that had been brought to maturity for the mitigation of the criminal code, and the reduction of the number of capital punishments; promised that it should be her care to strengthen our institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, by discreet improvement, wherever improvement was required, and to do all in her power to compose and allay animosity and discord. Immediately on the delivery of the Royal Speech Parliament was prorogued in order to its dissolution. The general elections speedily followed, and were all over early in August. The Ministerial candidates were accused of making an unconstitutional use of the Queen's name in their addresses, and availing themselves of her popularity to strengthen the position of the Government, and the Conservatives asserted that the Queen had no partiality for her present advisers, whom she found in office, and bore with only till Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues should feel strong enough to take their places. The elections did not materially alter the balance of parties, the Whigs still commanding a small majority.

The repetition of these infamous outrages excited great public indignation, and led to a general demand that something effectual should be done to put a stop to them by rendering the law more prompt and effective, and the punishment more disgraceful. In compliance with this demand, Sir Robert Peel brought in a Bill upon the subject, which was unanimously accepted by both Houses, and rapidly passed into law. Sir Robert Peel in his Bill proposed to extend the provisions of the Act of the year 1800, passed after the attempt of Hatfield on the life of George III., to cases where the object was not compassing the life, but "compassing the wounding of the Sovereign." "I propose," he said, "that, after the passing of this Act, if any person or persons shall wilfully discharge or attempt to discharge, or point, aim, or present at or near the person of the Queen any gun, pistol, or other description of firearms whatsoever, although the same shall not contain explosive or destructive substance or material, or shall discharge or attempt to discharge any explosive or destructive substance or material, or if any person shall strike, or attempt to strike the person of the Queen, with any offensive weapons, or in any manner whatever; or, if any persons shall throw or attempt to throw any substance whatever at or on the person of the Queen, with intent in any of the cases aforesaid to break the public peace, or to excite the alarm of the Queen, etc., that the punishment in all such cases shall be the same as that in cases of larcenynamely, transportation for a term not exceeding seven years." But a more effective punishment was added, namely, public whipping, concerning which Sir Robert Peel remarked, "I think this punishment will make known to the miscreants capable of harbouring such designs, that, instead of exciting misplaced and stupid sympathy, their base and malignant motives in depriving her Majesty of that relaxation which she must naturally need after the cares and public anxieties of her station, will lead to a punishment proportioned to their detestable acts."

Encouraged by this unwonted success (for the words of the speaker, reminding them of the coming elections, had sunk deep into many hearts). Dunning immediately moved a second proposition, namely, that it was competent to that House to examine into and correct any abuses of the Civil List, as well as of any other branch of the public revenue. The resolution was carried without a division. Immediately on the heels of this, Thomas Pitt moved that it was the duty of the House to redress without delay the grievances enumerated in the petitions of the people. Lord North implored that they would not proceed any further that night; but this resolution was also put and carried, likewise without division. Immediately, though it was past one o'clock in the morning, Fox moved that all these motions should be reported. Lord North, in the utmost consternation, declared this procedure was "violent, arbitrary, and unusual;" but Fox pressed his motion, and it was carried, like the rest, without a division, and the Report was brought up.



On the 3rd of May Lord Cornwallis arrived on the coast with a squadron of transports, convoyed by Sir Peter Parker, with several ships of war. General Clinton arrived soon after, and took the command of the troops; and, in concert with Parker, he determined to attack Charleston, the capital of South Carolina. On the 4th of June they appeared off Charleston, and landed on Long Island. They found the mouth of the harbour strongly defended by fortifications on Sullivan's Island, and by others on Hadrell's Point on its north. On the point lay encamped the American General Lee. Clinton threw up two batteries on Long Island to command those on Sullivan island, whilst Parker, from the ships, was to assist in covering the landing of the troops on that Island. Clinton was informed that he could easily cross from one island to the other by a ford; and consequently, on the morning of the 28th of June,[225] Sir Peter Parker drew up his men-of-warthree vessels of fifty guns each, and six frigates of twenty-eight guns each, besides another of twenty-four guns and the Thunder bomb. But he had been deceived; what was called a ford, he found impassable. He was compelled to reimbark his troops, and meanwhile Parker's vessels, also unacquainted with their ground, ran upon a shoal, where one of them struck. In these unfortunate circumstances, the Americans, from the island and from Hadrell's Point, poured a tremendous fire into the ships, doing dreadful execution. Clinton sailed away, after this ignominious attempt to join General Howe, but some of the vessels were compelled to remain some time at Long Island to refit.