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The "History of Scotland, during the Reigns of Queen Mary and James VI.," by Dr. Robertson, was published in 1759, the year of the appearance of Hume's "History of the House of Tudor." It was at once popular; and Hume, writing to him, attributed this to the deference which he had paid to established opinions, the true source of the popularity of many works. This was followed, in 1769, by his "History of Charles V.," and, in 1777, by his "History of America." Robertson's chief characteristic is a sonorous and rather florid[177] style, which extremely pleased his age, but wearies this. His histories drew great attention to the subjects of them at that period; but time has shown that they are extremely superficial, and they have not held their place. On the 8th of March, 1801, General Sir Ralph Abercromby landed in Egypt, where Nelson had fought the battle of Aboukir. Menou brought down against the British twelve or fourteen thousand men, including a fine body of cavalry. Sir Ralph Abercromby landed only about ten thousand in effective order, but these were men full of ardour and disciplined to perfection. On the 8th of March they landed in face of the French, five thousand being put on shore at once, these returning no single shot whilst in the boats, though assailed by fifteen pieces of artillery from the opposite hill, and by grape-shot from Aboukir Castle. They were led on by General (afterwards Sir John) Moore; and running, or climbing on hands and knees, up the steep sand-hills, they drove the French from their cannon, and seized them. The French retreated, and posted themselves on some heights between Aboukir and Alexandria. On the 19th, having compelled Fort Aboukir to surrender, General Abercromby advanced, and found Menou had concentrated all his forces between them and Alexandria. On the 21st of March a general engagement took place. It commenced as early as three o'clock in the morning, whilst quite dark, by an attack on the British left, which was meant to draw all attention to that quarter, then a desperate charge was made on the right by the main body of the French cavalry, which hoped to get into the rear of the British infantry; but the attempted surprise failed: the French were driven back with great loss. As the day dawned the battle became general, and the French found themselves opposed not only by accustomed British doggedness, but by a precision of fire and an adroitness of man?uvre which astonished them. By ten o'clock the French were in full flight for Alexandria, leaving seventeen hundred men on the field. The loss of the British was stated at fourteen hundred killed and wounded; and, unfortunately, the brave Abercromby was killed. To complete the success, the Capitan Pacha's fleet in a few days brought a Turkish army of between five and six thousand men, and the Grand Vizier, posted at El Arish, began to march towards Cairo. General Hutchinson, now chief in command of the British army, hastened to join the Grand Vizier; but before he could accomplish this, he had to drive four thousand French from a fortified camp at Ramaneeh, and meanwhile five thousand French rushed out of Cairo and attacked the Grand Vizier. On the 27th of June Cairo capitulated, General Belliard obtaining the condition that his troops should be conveyed to the ports of France on the Mediterranean with their arms and baggage; yet they left behind them three hundred and thirteen heavy cannon and one hundred thousand pounds of gunpowder. On the 8th of June General Baird had landed at Cosseir on the Red Sea with his Indian army, and was marching through the burning desert for Cairo. Menou, cooped up at Alexandria, found it useless to contend further and, before Baird could join the main army, capitulated on the same terms as Belliard, and the Egyptian campaign was at an end. The news of the French expulsion reached France sooner than it did England, and created a strong sensation.[484]

It might have been imagined that this magnificent and destructive repulse would have convinced the allies that the siege was hopeless, but they were pretty well informed that General Elliot had well nigh exhausted his ammunition in this prodigal death-shower, and they had still their great combined fleet, snug in the narrow bay, with scouts in the Strait to prevent the carrying in of supplies. But on the 24th of September news arrived at Madrid that the fleet of Lord Howe was under weigh for Gibraltar. Howe's fleet of thirty-four sail-of-the-line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, though in the neighbourhood of one of fifty sail-of-the-line, besides a number of frigates and smaller vessels, managed to get into the bay of Gibraltar all safe, amid the wildest acclamations of soldiers and inhabitants. By the 18th of October all the store-ships had discharged their cargoes, and had passed through the Strait, and on the 19th Lord Howe followed them with his fleet. The enemy's fleet then came out after him, and the next day they were in the open ocean, and Howe proceeded to their leeward to receive them. Some of their vessels had suffered[296] in the late gales, but they had still at least forty-four sail to Howe's thirty-four, and, having the weather-gauge, had every advantage. But after a partial firing, in which they received great damage from Howe, they hauled off and got into Cadiz bay. Howe, then dispatching part of his fleet to the West Indies and a second squadron to the Irish coast, returned home himself. The news of the grand defence of Gibraltar produced a wonderful rejoicing in England; thanks were voted by Parliament to the officers and privates of the brave garrison; General Elliot was invested with the Order of the Bath on the king's bastion in sight of the works which he had preserved, and on his return, in 1787, at the age of seventy, he was created a Peer as Lord Heathfield of Gibraltar.

In pursuance of this report, Mr. O'Loughlin, the Irish Attorney-General, introduced a Bill, early in the Session of 1836, for the better regulation of Irish corporations. There still remained, he said, 71 corporations, which included within their territories a population of 900,000, while the number of corporators was only 13,000. Of these, no less than 8,000 were to be found in four of the larger boroughs, leaving only 5,000 corporators for the remaining 67 corporations, containing above 500,000 inhabitants. So exclusive had they been, that though, since 1792, Roman Catholics were eligible as members, not more than 200 had ever been admitted. In Dublin the principle of exclusion was extended to the great majority of Protestants of wealth, respectability, and intelligence. In a word, the Attorney-General said that the management of corporations, and the administration of justice in their hands, was nothing but a tissue of injustice, partisanship, and corruption. He concluded by laying down a plan of Reform which would assimilate the Irish corporations to those of England. On the part of the Conservatives it was admitted that the greater part of the corporations in Ireland were created by James I., avowedly as guardians of the Protestant interests, and to favour the spread of the Protestant religion; and that ancient and venerable system this Bill would annihilatea revolution against which they solemnly protested, even though it covered many abuses which had crept into it during the lapse of time. They were quite appalled at the prospect of the evils that this Bill would produce. Borough magistrates were to be elected by popular suffrage. What a source of discord and animosity! First, there would be the registration of the voters, then the election of the town councillors, and then the election of the mayor, aldermen, and town clerks. What a scene would such a state of things present! How truly was it said that the boroughs would be the normal[391] schools of agitation! Then what was to become of the corporate property, which yielded an income of 61,000, while the expenditure was only 57,000, and the debt charged on it only 133,000? Was all this property to be placed under the control of the priests, whose influence would determine the elections? Painting, like architecture, was at a very low ebb during this period, with one or two brilliant exceptions. Foreign artists were in demand, and there was no native talent, except that of Thornhill and Hogarth, which could claim to be unjustly overlooked in that preference. Sir Peter Lely was still living, but Sir Godfrey Kneller, another foreigner, was already taking his place. Kneller was a German, born at Lübeck, and educated under the best Flemish masters of the day. As he had chosen portrait-painting as his department, he hastened over to England after a visit to Rome and Venice, as the most profitable field for his practice, and being introduced to Charles II. by the Duke of Monmouth, he became at once the fashion. Kneller had talents of the highest order, and, had not his passion for money-making been still greater, he would have taken rank with the great masters; but, having painted a few truly fine pictures, he relied on them to secure his fame, and commenced an actual manufacture of portraits for the accumulation of money. Like Rubens, he sketched out the main figure, and painted the head and face, leaving his pupils to fill in all the rest. He worked with wonderful rapidity, and had figures often prepared beforehand, on which he fitted heads as they were commissioned. Sir John Medina, a Fleming, was the chief manufacturer of ready-made figures and postures for him, the rest filled in the draperies and backgrounds. Kneller had a bold, free, and vigorous hand, painting with wonderful rapidity, and much of the grace of Vandyck, but only a few of his works show what he was capable of. The beauties of the Court of William and Mary, which may be seen side by side with those of the Court of Charles II. by Lely at Hampton Court, are far inferior to Lely's. If the man who turnips cries,

CHARLES JAMES FOX. (After the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.) [See larger version]


Orders soon came from the Government for the liberation of the prisoners. After some consultation with their friends, it was resolved that there should be a public procession from the prison in the morning. Mr. O'Connell, however, left that evening, and proceeded on foot to his house in Merrion Square. Before he had reached the square, the tidings spread abroad that he was out, and crowds rapidly assembled from all directions. The people leaped and danced about him, while their acclamations rent the air. When he placed his foot upon the step to ascend to his own door, the exulting shouts of some 10,000 or 15,000 people were almost deafening. Appearing on the balcony of his house, where he had often stood before, to address his followers, they could scarcely be got to keep silence while he spoke. The procession next day was, in point of magnitude, quite in keeping with the other "monster" proceedings. Twelve o'clock was the time appointed to start from the prison, and at that hour the first part of the procession arrived. Its length may be inferred from the fact that it was not until two o'clock that the triumphal car reached the prison gate. During those two hours thousands upon thousands defiled before it in one unbroken line of men, perfect order being kept, without the aid of a single policeman, and the marching mass being broken into sections only by the bands of music, preceding the flags or carriages of the different trades, which numbered about thirty. The bands were all dressed in fancy uniforms, bearing bright coloursblue, pink, and greenwith banners of the most gorgeous description. There was such a demand for carriages and vehicles of all sorts, that Dublin alone could not meet it, and carriages were obtained from Bray, and various other places around the metropolis. The procession was composed of Repeal wardens, members of the Repeal Association, the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and town council, personal friends and political admirers of O'Connell.


The name of the leader of the new movement, however, had not yet been added to the list. Mr. Bright, whose residence was at Rochdale, had not begun to give personal aid to the cause, and was scarcely known out of his native town, where his efforts to improve the moral and social condition of the working classes had, however, long made him conspicuous among his fellow-townsmen. The name of Richard Cobden, which appears in the additional list of the committee published a short time afterwards, was one more familiar in Manchester ears. Mr. Cobden was the son of a yeoman at Dunford, near Midhurst, in Sussex. Beginning with small advantages, he had become a successful tradesman. In the course of 1835 a pamphlet was published by him under the title, "England, Ireland, and America." It was followed by a second pamphlet entitled "Russia; by a Manchester Manufacturer." In these writings he advocated peace and retrenchment, and reprobated a panic fear of Russia. But he was soon to advocate more important reforms.

Meanwhile the second and rear divisions of the army under Davoust and Ney were labouring hard to reach Smolensk, assailed by all the horrors of the season, and of the myriad Russians collected around them, who killed all who straggled or fell behind from fatigue and starvation. The rearguard of Ney suffered most of all, for it was not only more completely exposed to the raids of the Cossacks and of the enraged peasants, but they found every house on their way burnt, and nothing around them but treeless, naked plains, over which the freezing winds and the hurrahing Cossacks careered in deadly glee. At the passage of the Dnieper, it was only by stupendous exertions that Ney saved any part of his army. He lost many men, and much of his artillery. On the 13th of November, as he approached Smolensk, he was appalled by the apparition of the remains of the army of Italy pursued by a cloud of Cossacks, who were hewing them down by thousands. Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, had been sent with this division on a northward route to support Oudinot, who was retreating before Wittgenstein; but he had found it impossible to reach Oudinot, and had again made for Smolensk. His passage of the river Vop had been no less destructive than the passage of the Dnieper by Ney. He had lost all his baggage and twenty-three pieces of cannon[51] and was only saved by the fortunate arrival of Ney.