The Political History of England - Vol XI - From Addington's Administration to the close of William - IV.'s Reign (1801-1837)
by George Brodrick
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[53] See p. 105.

[54] George, Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, p. 33.

[55] James, British Naval History, iv., 470-84.

[56] See above, p. 58.

[57] See Cambridge Modern History, vii., 336, 338.

[58] For details of the naval warfare of this year see James, British Naval History, vi., 115-202.

[59] Rose, Life of Napoleon I., ii., 372.

[60] For the importance of this flight of the Emperor Francis see Rose, Life of Napoleon I., ii., 418, 425. The flight did not take place till after the advance on Paris was begun.



After the restoration of Louis XVIII. as a constitutional king, the treaty of Paris between France and the allied powers was signed on May 30, 1814. The treaty amounted to a settlement in outline of those territorial questions in Europe in which France was concerned, and aimed mainly at the construction of a strong barrier to resist further encroachments by France on her neighbours. The French boundaries were to coincide generally with the limits of French territory on January 1, 1792, but with certain additions. The principle adopted was that France should retain certain detached pieces of foreign states within her own frontier (such as Muehlhausen, Montbeliard, and the Venaissin), while the line of frontier was extended so as to include certain detached fragments belonging to France before 1792, such as Landau, Mariembourg, and Philippeville, as well as Western Savoy with Chambery for its capital. She was moreover allowed to regain all her colonies except the Mauritius, St. Lucia, and Tobago. The Spanish portion of San Domingo was restored to the Spanish government. Holland was placed under the sovereignty of the house of Orange, and was to receive an increase of territory; so much of Italy as was not to be ceded to Austria was to consist of independent sovereign states; and Germany was to be formed into a confederation. Finally an European congress was to meet at Vienna in two months' time "to regulate the arrangements necessary for completing the dispositions of the treaty". At the same time secret articles provided that the disposition of territories was to be controlled at Vienna by Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia; that Austria, was to receive Venice and Lombardy as far as the Ticino; and that the former territories of Genoa were to be annexed to Sardinia, and the late Austrian Netherlands to Holland.

In the midst of the general restoration of legitimate princes difficulties were occasioned by the exceptional cases in which territories were reserved for the new dynasties that had arisen during the Napoleonic wars. France, Spain, and Sicily objected to the retention of the kingdom of Naples by Murat, Spain resented the cession of Parma to the Bonapartes, and Norway was in revolt against the attempt to subjugate it to the king of Sweden and his heir Marshal Bernadotte. The Norwegian government under Prince Christian vainly endeavoured to secure the British recognition of the independence of Norway. The British government, on the contrary, held itself bound to support the claims of Sweden, and on April 29 notified a blockade of the Norwegian ports, which was promptly carried into effect. Meanwhile a new constitution was promulgated in Norway, and Prince Christian was proclaimed king. While the British maintained the blockade Sweden attempted to gain its ends by negotiation. At last, on July 30, the Swedes invaded Norway. After some Swedish successes a convention was signed at Moss on August 14, which recognised the new Norwegian constitution, but provided for a personal union of the crowns of Sweden and Norway. This constitution was accepted by Charles XIII. of Sweden in the following November, and Norway retained almost complete independence, though united to Sweden.

[Pageheading: THE SLAVE TRADE.]

Among the last acts of Napoleon's government had been the release and restoration of Ferdinand VII. of Spain and of Pope Pius VII. Ferdinand, supported by the vast mass of Spanish opinion, declared against the rather unpractical constitution established in his absence, and entered Madrid as an absolute king on May 14. One of his first acts was the revival of the inquisition. There was some apprehension among British representatives lest the two restored Bourbon monarchies should renew the family compact, and also lest they should attempt to assert the Bourbon claims to Naples and Parma. Sir Henry Wellesley, afterwards Lord Cowley, was, however, successful in negotiating a treaty of alliance between Great Britain and Spain, which made provision against any renewal of the family compact, restored the commercial relations of the two countries to the footing on which they had been before 1796, and promised the future consideration of means to be adopted for the suppression of the slave trade. Spain was in fact too dependent on British credit to be able to adopt a line of her own in politics. But the hold which Great Britain had thus gained over Spain was somewhat weakened by the British attitude towards the slave trade.

It is remarkable how large a space the abolition of the slave trade occupied in the foreign policy of Great Britain, when the liberties of Europe were at stake. During the months preceding the meeting of the congress of Vienna, which had been postponed till September by the tsar, British diplomacy had been engaged in a strenuous effort to obtain the co-operation of such European powers as possessed American colonies in securing this philanthropic object. Sweden had already consented to it, and now Holland also gave her consent. Portugal agreed to relinquish the trade north of the equator, on condition that the other powers consented to impose a similar restriction on themselves. Strong pressure was brought to bear upon France to consent to the immediate abolition of the trade, and Wellington, who had been created a duke in May and who arrived at Paris in August in the capacity of British ambassador, was authorised by Liverpool to offer the cession of Trinidad or the payment of two or three million pounds to obtain this end. By the treaty of Paris only French subjects were allowed to trade in slaves with the French colonies, and French subjects were excluded from trading elsewhere; and the whole trade was to cease within French dominions after five years. Talleyrand, negotiating with Wellington, refused to consent to a general abolition, but, on being pressed to surrender the slave trade north of the equator, consented to abandon it to the north of Cape Formoso. In the following year Napoleon on his return from Elba ordered its immediate suppression, and this was not the least significant act of the Hundred Days. With Spain our diplomatists were less successful. The British government refused to renew its subsidy to Spain for the last half of 1814 except on condition that Spain relinquished the slave trade north of the equator at once, and consented to relinquish that south of the equator in five years' time; while it would not issue a loan except on condition that Spain abolished the whole trade immediately. Even these terms did not prevail with Spain, and the most that she would grant at the congress was to relinquish the trade at the conclusion of eight years.

Meanwhile Talleyrand was endeavouring to induce Great Britain to combine with France in a joint mediation between Austria and Russia at the congress, in the event of Russia demanding the duchy of Warsaw. Wellington, while expressing himself in favour of an understanding, refused to accept anything which might seem equivalent to a declaration in favour of mediation by the two powers in every case. At the congress itself Great Britain was first represented by Castlereagh, who was succeeded in February, 1815, by Wellington. The two principal difficulties were the questions of Poland and Saxony. The tsar desired to erect the duchy of Warsaw, Prussia's share in the two partitions of Poland in 1793 and 1795, into a constitutional monarchy attached to the Russian crown, while Prussia, though not unwilling to resign her claims to Polish dominion, wished to increase her territory by the incorporation of Saxony in her monarchy. Austria was naturally averse from any increase of strength in the states on her northern borders, and she was also opposed to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in Poland which might serve as a centre for political discontent in her own dominions. Even France urged this objection to a constitutional Poland. Great Britain alone was willing to see an independent Poland, but preferred to join France, Prussia, and Austria in demanding its repartition between the two latter powers rather than its annexation to Russia. All through October Austria, Great Britain, and Prussia endeavoured to induce the tsar to withdraw his demand. Early in November he won over the King of Prussia to whom he promised the kingdom of Saxony, proposing to indemnify the Saxon king with a new state on that lower Rhine which France was not allowed to have, but which no other power desired.


It was no longer possible to resist Russia's claims on Poland, but Austria was determined not to allow Prussia to receive the proffered compensation. On December 10 Metternich notified the Prussian minister, Hardenberg, that he would not allow Prussia to annex more than a fifth part of Saxony. Great Britain, France, Bavaria, and the minor German states joined Austria in this action, and thus the attempt to effect a settlement of Europe by a concert of the four allied powers broke down. On January 3, 1815, a secret treaty was concluded between Austria, France, and Great Britain in defence of what their diplomatists called "the principles of the peace of Paris". Each of these powers was to be prepared, if necessary, to place an army of 50,000 men in the field. Bavaria joined them in their preparations for war, and many of the troops which occupied Paris in 1815 would have been disbanded or dispersed, but for the prospect of a rupture between the allies themselves. But a compromise was soon arranged, and on February 8 it was agreed that Cracow, the Polish fortress which threatened Austria most, should be an independent republic, and that Prussia should retain enough of Western Poland to round off her dominions, while the remainder of the duchy of Warsaw became a constitutional kingdom under the tsar. Prussia was to be allowed to annex part of Saxony, and was to receive a further compensation on the left bank of the Rhine and in Westphalia. The most thorny questions were now settled, and Castlereagh had left Vienna when the congress was electrified by the news that Napoleon had reappeared in France.

The episode of "the Hundred Days" interrupted, but did not break up, the councils of the congress at Vienna. It cannot be said that Napoleon's escape from Elba took the negotiators altogether by surprise. They were already aware of his correspondence with the neighbouring shores of Italy, and his removal to St Helena or some other distant island had been proposed by the French government, though never discussed at the congress. Sir Neil Campbell, the British commissioner at Elba, had gone so far as to warn his government of Napoleon's suspected "plan," and to indicate, though erroneously, the place of his probable descent upon the Italian coast. Owing to an almost incredible want of precaution, he embarked on February 26 with the least possible disguise, and accompanied by 400 of his guards, on board his brig the Inconstant, eluded the observation of two French ships, and landed near Cannes on March 1. Thence he hastened across the mountains to Grenoble, passing unmolested, and sometimes welcomed, through districts where his life had been threatened but a few months before. The commandant of Grenoble was prepared to resist his further progress, but a heart-stirring appeal from Napoleon induced a regiment detached to oppose him to join his standard, and the rest of the garrison was brought over by Colonel Labedoyere, one of the officers who had conspired to bring him back. Thence he proceeded to Lyons, issuing decrees, scattering proclamations, and gathering followers at every stage. He was lavish of promises, not perhaps wholly insincere, that he would adopt constitutional government—already established by the charter of Louis XVIII.—and cease to wage aggressive wars. He relied unduly on the discontent provoked by the blind partisans of the Bourbons, who, it was said, had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. This was true, if the spirit of the restoration were to be measured by the parade of expiatory masses for the execution of royalists under the revolution, the ostentatious patronage of priests, the preference of returned emigres to well-tried servants of the republic and the empire, or the anticipated expulsion of landowners in possession of "national domains" for the purpose of dividing them among their old proprietors. All this naturally exasperated those who had imbibed the principles of the revolution, but it was more than compensated in the eyes of millions of Frenchmen by the cessation of conscription and the infinite blessings of peace.

[Pageheading: "THE HUNDRED DAYS."]

The king was amongst the least infatuated of the royalists. On hearing of Napoleon's proclamation, he had the sense to appreciate the danger of such a bid for sovereignty and the magic of such a name, while his courtiers regarded Napoleon's enterprise as the last effort of a madman. He addressed the chamber of deputies in confident and dignified language; the Duke of Angouleme was employed to rouse the royalist party at Bordeaux; the Duke of Bourbon was sent into Brittany, the Count of Artois, with the Duke of Orleans and Marshal Macdonald, visited Lyons, upon the attitude of which everything, for the moment, seemed to depend. Most of the marshals remained faithful to the restored monarchy, and Ney was selected to bar the progress of Napoleon in Burgundy, and has been credited with a vow that he would bring him back in an iron cage. But it was all in vain. The Count of Artois was loyally received by the officials and upper classes at Lyons, but he soon found that Napoleon possessed the hearts of the soldiers and the mass of the people. Ney yielded to urgent appeals from his old chief, signed and read to his troops a proclamation drawn up by Napoleon himself, and was followed in his treason by his whole army. As Napoleon approached Paris, all armed opposition to him melted away. On March 19, Louis XVIII., seeing that his cause was hopeless, proclaimed a dissolution of the chambers, and retired once more into exile, fixing his residence at Ghent.

Napoleon re-entered the Tuileries on the 20th, after a journey which he afterwards described as the happiest in his life. But his penetrating mind was not deceived by the manifestations of popular joy. He well knew that he was distrusted by the middle classes, as well as by the aristocracy, and threw himself more and more on the sympathy of the old revolutionists. When he came to fill up the higher offices, he met with a strange reluctance to accept them, and was driven to enlist the services of two regicides, the virtuous republican, Carnot, and the double-dyed traitor Fouche. Feeling the necessity of resting his power on a democratic basis, he promulgated a constitution modelled on the charter of Louis XVIII., and known as the Acte Additionnel, which, however, satisfied no one. The royalists objected to its anti-feudal spirit, the revolutionists and moderates to its express recognition of an hereditary peerage, and its tacit recognition of a dictatorial power. It was by no means with a light heart that Napoleon took leave of Paris on June 7, having appointed a provisional government, to place himself at the head of his army.

Attempts had been made in the southern provinces and La Vendee to organise armed rebellion against the emperor, and met for a time with considerable success. But they were soon quelled by the overwhelming imperialism not only of the regular army, but of vast numbers of disbanded soldiers and half-pay officers, dispersed throughout France, and disgusted with their treatment under the restored monarchy. Even among the bourgeoisie Napoleon had an advantage which he never possessed before. Disguise it as he might, all his former wars had been essentially wars of conquest, and, however patiently they might endure it, the peasantry of France, in thousands upon thousands of humble cottages, groaned under the exaction of crushing taxes—worst of all, the blood-tax of conscription—in order to enable one man, in the name of France, to usurp the empire of the world. Now, however, as in the early days of the revolution, France was put on its defence, and called upon to repel an invasion of its frontiers. For the news of Napoleon's escape, announced by Talleyrand on March 11, instantly stilled the quarrels and rebuked the jealousies which had so nearly proved fatal to any settlement at Vienna. For the moment, the designs of Russia in Poland, the selfish demands of Prussia, and the half-formed coalition between Great Britain, France, and Austria, were thrust into the background. Austria thought it necessary to repudiate decisively the audaciously false assertion of Napoleon that he was returning with the concurrence of his father-in-law, and would shortly be supported by Austrian troops. Metternich, therefore, assumed the lead in drawing up a solemn manifesto, dated March 13, in which Napoleon was virtually declared an outlaw "abandoned to public justice," and the powers which had signed the treaty of Paris in the preceding May bound themselves, in the face of Europe, to carry out all its provisions and defend the king of France, if need be, against his own rebellious subjects.

By a further convention made at the end of March, they engaged to provide forces exceeding 700,000 men in the aggregate, to be concentrated on the Upper Rhine, the Lower Rhine, and the Low Countries, with an immense reserve of Russians to be rapidly moved across Germany from Poland. Wellington having succeeded Castlereagh at Vienna, was appointed to command the British, Hanoverian, and Belgian contingents on the north-east frontier of France; Bluecher's headquarters were to be on the Lower Rhine, within easy reach of that frontier; for, whichever side might take the offensive, it was there that the first shock of war might be expected. The recent conclusion of peace with America at Ghent on December 24, 1814, left England free to use her whole military power. Enormous sums were voted by Parliament, with a rare approach to unanimity, for the equipment of a British army, and a sum of L5,000,000 for subsidies to the allied powers. A small section of the opposition led by Whitbread opposed the renewal of war. On April 7 he moved an amendment to the address in reply to the prince regent's message announcing that measures for the security of Europe were being concerted with the allies, but he was only supported by 32 votes against 220. On April 28 his motion for an address to the prince regent, deprecating war with Napoleon, was defeated by 273 votes against 72. This was Whitbread's last prominent appearance in parliament. On July 6, during a fit of insanity, he died by his own hand. The subsidies to the allies were opposed by Bankes, but were carried on May 26 by 160 votes against 17. There can be no doubt that the majorities in the house of commons correctly expressed the national sentiment. Nobody wished to dictate to France the form of government which she was to adopt, but it was generally felt that Napoleon's character rendered peace with him impossible.

[Pageheading: THE CAMPAIGN OF 1815.]

In the end, about 80,000 men were assembled in Belgium under Wellington's orders, but of these not half were British soldiers, including untrained drafts from the militia, who replaced veteran Peninsular regiments still detained in Canada and the United States. Yet Napoleon admitted the British contingent to be equal, man for man, to his own troops, while he estimated these to be worth twice their own number of Dutchmen, Prussians, or other Germans. The first blow in the war was struck by Murat. Already in February, dissatisfied with his ambiguous position, he had levied troops and summoned Louis XVIII. to declare whether he was at war with him. As soon as he heard of Napoleon's return, he invaded the Papal States, and summoned the Italians to rise in the cause of Italian unity and independence. Though disowned by Napoleon, he persevered in this plan, but he was attacked and twice defeated by an Austrian army. On May 22 the British and Austrians took the city of Naples, and Murat fled to France. In October he made an attempt to recover his kingdom, but was captured and shot. It is noteworthy that, on hearing of his fate at St. Helena, Napoleon showed but little sympathy with his brother-in-law.

On the morning of June 12, Napoleon left Paris, saying as he entered his carriage that he went to match himself with Wellington. All his troops were already marshalled on the Belgian frontier, and numbered 124,588 men, with 344 guns. The Imperial Guard alone was 20,954 strong, and the whole army was largely composed of seasoned veterans. The Prussian army consisted of 116,897 men, with 312 guns under Marshal Bluecher, whose headquarters were at Namur. Though the majority of these were veterans, there was a considerable leaven of inferior troops, hastily raised from the Westphalian and Rhine militia. Between this town and Quatre Bras lay the Prussian line of defence, Sombreffe being the centre, with Ligny and St. Amand in front of it, and rather on the south-west. Wellington's headquarters were at Brussels, and, having no certain intelligence of Napoleon's movements, he kept the various divisions of his army within easy distance of that capital until the very eve of the final conflict. Of the 93,717 men under his command, 31,253 were British, two-thirds of whom had never been under fire; 6,387 were of the king's German legion; 15,935 Hanoverians; 29,214 (including 4,300 Nassauers in the service of the Prince of the Netherlands) Dutch and Belgians; 6,808 Brunswickers; 2,880 Nassauers; the engineers, numbering 1,240, were not classified by nationality. He fully expected that Napoleon would move upon Brussels along the route by Mons and Hal, and maintained in later days that such would have been the best strategical course. Napoleon thought otherwise, and resolved to strike in between the Prussian and British armies, crushing the former before the latter could be fully assembled. He very nearly succeeded, and, if all had gone as he hoped, he could scarcely have failed to win one of his greatest victories.


On the evening of the 15th, Wellington was still at Brussels, with the great body of his army, and only a weak force of Dutch and Belgians was at Quatre Bras, some sixteen miles to the south. Bluecher, with about three-fourths of his army, was at Sombreffe, a few miles south-east of Quatre Bras. Napoleon himself was at or close by Charleroi, ten or twelve miles south of Quatre Bras; the mass of his army was at Fleurus, south-west of Sombreffe, with Ligny and St. Amand between it and the Prussians; and Marshal Ney, with Reille's corps, was at Frasnes, opposite to and due south of Quatre Bras. On the morning of the 16th, Napoleon arrived from Charleroi at Fleurus, and carefully inspected his enemy's position, but delayed his attack upon Ligny and St Amand until half-past two in the afternoon. The Prussians outnumbered the French, and a murderous conflict ensued among the streets, gardens, and enclosures of these little towns, which lasted until eight or nine o'clock. At last Napoleon ordered his guard to advance, and the plateau behind Ligny was taken, with a loss to the French of 12,000, and to the Prussians of over 20,000. Bluecher himself was unhorsed and severely bruised in a furious charge of cavalry, but the Prussians retired in good order towards Wavre, north of the battlefield.

Had Ney been in a condition to obey an urgent message from Napoleon, and to envelop the Prussian right and rear, this defeat would have been overwhelming in its effect. But while the battle of Ligny was raging, another battle was going on at Quatre Bras, six miles distant, in which the French sustained a serious check. Happily for the British, Ney failed to bring up his divisions for an attack on Quatre Bras until two o'clock in the afternoon, when the Dutch and Belgians under the Prince of Orange were still his only opponents. The news for which Wellington had been waiting did not reach him until just before the memorable ball, given by the Duchess of Richmond at Brussels on the night of the 15th, which he nevertheless attended, hurrying off his troops to Quatre Bras. They arrived just in time to reinforce the Prince of Orange and save the position; but Ney, too, was receiving fresh reinforcements every hour, the Duke of Brunswick was killed, and a fearful stress fell on Picton's division and the Hanoverians, who alone were a match for Ney's splendid infantry and Kellermann's cuirassiers.

These made a charge like that which had borne down the Austrians at Marengo, but the British squares were proof against it, and when a division of guards came up from Nivelles, the French in turn were put on the defensive and retreated to Frasnes. The loss on the British side was 4,500 men; that on the French somewhat less. It is not difficult to imagine what the issue of the battle must have been if D'Erlon's corps had been brought into action. This corps was occupied in marching and countermarching, under contradictory orders from Napoleon and Ney, between the British left and the Prussian right during the whole of this eventful day. Its appearance in the distance just when Napoleon was about to launch his guard against the Prussians at Ligny, caused him to hesitate long, and lose the decisive moment for demolishing his enemy. Its failure to appear at Quatre Bras, and to roll up the wavering Dutch-Belgians, before Picton took up the fighting, enabled Wellington to hold his ground at first, to repulse Ney afterwards, and on hearing of Bluecher's defeat at Ligny, to fall back in good order on Waterloo. Even then, something was due to good fortune. Had Napoleon joined Ney and marched direct on Quatre Bras early on the 17th, it is difficult to see how his advance to Brussels could have been arrested. But whether he was exhausted by his incessant labours since leaving Paris, or whether his marvellous intuition was deserting him, certain it is that he allowed that critical morning to slip by without an effort—and without a reconnaissance. He assumed that Bluecher must retire upon Namur as his base of operations, and that Wellington, retiring towards Brussels, would be cut off from his allies. He therefore despatched Marshal Grouchy, with 33,000 men, to follow up the Prussians eastward by the Namur road. His assumption was unfounded. Bluecher, loyal to his engagements, retired upon Wavre; Wellington, relying upon Bluecher's loyalty, took his stand on the field of Waterloo; and this error on the part of Napoleon determined the fortunes of the campaign.[61]

[Pageheading: WATERLOO.]

The British army retreated upon Waterloo almost unmolested. Ney was probably awaiting orders, and Napoleon, believing the Prussians to be at Namur, probably thought he might safely rest himself and his army before crushing Wellington at his leisure. When they realised that Wellington was deliberately moving his army to a position nearer Brussels, they both followed in pursuit along different roads converging at Quatre Bras, and a brisk skirmish took place near Genappe between Ney's cavalry and that of the British rear-guard. Heavy rain came on, and the two armies spent a miserable night, half a mile from each other, close to Mont St. Jean, and south of Waterloo. Napoleon rose before daybreak on the 18th, reconnoitred the British position, and convinced himself that Wellington intended to give battle. He expressed to his staff his satisfaction and confidence of victory, when General Foy, who had experience of the Peninsular war, replied in significant words: "Sire, when the British infantry stand at bay, they are the very devil himself". Why Napoleon did not begin the battle at eight o'clock has been the subject of much discussion. It is said that he waited for Grouchy to join him before the close of the action. But neither he nor Grouchy, though aware that at least a large force of Prussians had gone to Wavre and not to Namur, suspected that Bluecher had promised Wellington to march with his whole army on the morning of the 18th to support the British at Waterloo. It is more likely that he waited for his men to assemble and for the ground to dry and become more practicable for his powerful artillery.[62]

Exception has been taken to the conduct of Wellington in detaching 17,000 men to guard the approach to Brussels at Hal, and, still more, in not recalling them, when he must have ascertained that nothing was to be feared on that side, and when such a reinforcement of his right wing must have been all-important. But it must be remembered that in this force there were only 1,500 English troops, and 2,000 Hanoverian militia. The rest were Dutch and Belgians. At all events, Napoleon left his right flank undefended, though he was already somewhat anxious about the Prussian movements, and Wellington fought the battle of Waterloo with a force numerically inferior to that under Napoleon's command, though it might have been rendered superior by the accession of the Hal contingent. The effective part of this force, numbering in all 67,661 men, consisted of 24,000 British soldiers, 6,000 soldiers of the king's German legion, and about 11,000 Hanoverians. Napoleon's force numbered 72,000 men, and it was stronger both in cavalry and in guns. It represented the flower of the French army; there were few, if any, recruits as raw as those who swelled the ranks of the British regiments; there were thousands upon thousands who had formed part of that Grande Armee which had overawed the continent of Europe. It is fair, however, to record that, while the British rank and file suffered much for want of sufficient food, the French had fared still worse, and that very many of them could have been in no fit condition for the struggle impending over them.

Both armies occupied ground extending from west to east, on opposite ridges, and crossed at right angles by the great highway running north and south from Charleroi to Brussels. In front of the British right were the chateau and enclosures of Hougoumont which were occupied by the British; nearly in front of the centre were the large farm-house and buildings of La Haye Sainte. Further to the left were the hamlet of Smohain and the farms Papelotte and La Haye. Wellington had arranged his brigades so as to distribute the older troops as much as possible among the less experienced. Sir Thomas Picton's fifth division formed the left of the line; to his right was Alten's second division, and beyond him to the right was the guards division under Cooke. Further to the right and partly in reserve was Clinton's second division, while Chasse's Dutch division on the extreme right occupied the village of Braine l'Alleud. Somerset's brigade of heavy cavalry and Kruse's Dutch cavalry were posted behind Alten's division, and Ponsonby's "union brigade," consisting of the royal dragoons, Scots greys, and Inniskillings, was stationed in Picton's rear. The whole line lay on the inner slopes of the ridge with the exception of Bylandt's Dutch-Belgian brigade which was posted on the outer slope in front of Picton's division. D'Erlon's corps was opposite the British left, Reille's opposite the British right. Squadrons of cavalry covered the outer flank of either of the two French corps. The magnificent squadrons of French cavalry, 15,000 strong, under Milhaud, Kellermann, and other famous leaders, were in the second line; the imperial guard, as usual, was massed in the rear.

[Pageheading: WATERLOO.]

The battle opened about half-past eleven with a furious attack on Hougoumont. It was defended with desperate gallantry, mainly by the British guards, who reopened the old loopholes in the garden-walls, and closed by sheer muscular force the eastern gate of the yard, which had been forced open by the French. In the fruitless siege of Hougoumont, as it may be called, the French left wing thus wasted most of its strength, and incurred enormous loss. Meanwhile, the French right wing under D'Erlon, advanced to attack the British left, which had been assailed for an hour and a half by the fire of a battery with seventy-eight guns. The Dutch and Belgians, who in their exposed position had suffered severely from the French artillery fire, soon gave way; but Picton's division, after a single volley, charged with the bayonet and drove their assailants reeling backward, though Picton himself fell dead on the field. Without orders from Wellington, Lord Uxbridge, in command of the British cavalry, seized the opportunity, and launched the union brigade with other regiments upon the flying masses. This whirlwind of British horsemen swept all before it, slaughtering many of the French cavalry in passing, taking 3,000 prisoners, sabring the gunners of Ney's battery, and spiking fifteen of the guns. But their ardour carried them too far. By Napoleon's orders a large force of French cuirassiers and lancers fell upon their flank before they could take breath again, and their ranks were frightfully thinned in a disorderly retreat. But their charge had saved the day.

At one o'clock, while the fate of D'Erlon's onslaught was still undecided, Napoleon observed Prussian troops on his right. An intercepted despatch proved these to be Buelow's corps. He instantly sent off a despatch to Grouchy, whom he supposed to be within reach, ordering him to attack Buelow in the rear. Then followed the memorable succession of charges by the whole of the French cavalry upon the squares of the British infantry. Not one of these squares was broken; a great part of the French cavalry was mown down by volleys or cut to pieces by the British cavalry in their precipitate retreat, and the British line remained unmoved, though grievously weakened, behind its protecting ridge. This was the crisis of the fight. Much of the British artillery was dismounted, and Wellington confessed to one of his staff that he longed for the advent of night or Bluecher. Napoleon next felt himself compelled to detach Lobau's corps for the purpose of meeting the advancing Prussians. Soon afterwards Ney carried La Haye Sainte by a most determined assault, aided by the failure of ammunition within its defences, and thus captured the key of the British position. But Napoleon saw that his one chance of victory lay in a final coup before the Prussians could wrest it from him. He ordered the imperial guard to the front, leading it himself across the valley, and then handing over the command to Ney. The guard was but the remnant of its original strength, for all its cavalry had been wrecked in wild charges against the British squares, and several battalions of its infantry were kept in reserve to hold back the Prussians and protect the baggage train. Nevertheless, the advance of this superb corps, the heroes of a hundred fights, who had seldom failed to hurl back the tide of battle at the most perilous junctures, was among the most impressive spectacles in the annals of war. They swerved a little to the left, thereby exposing themselves to the fire of the British footguards and of a battery in excellent condition. The former were lying down for shelter, but when the imperial guard came within sixty paces of them they started up at the word of command from Wellington himself. The footguards poured a deadly fire into the front, and the 52nd regiment into the flank of their columns; as they wavered under the storm of shot a bayonet charge followed, and the imperial guard, hitherto almost invincible, was dissolved into a mob of fugitives scattered over the plain.

It was now past eight o'clock; Buelow's Prussians had long been engaged on the British left, and Bluecher, with indomitable energy, was pressing forward with all his other divisions. Wellington first sent Vandeleur's and Vivian's cavalry, still comparatively fresh, to sweep away what remained of the French reserves, and then ordered a general advance. The French retreat speedily became a rout, and a rout to which there is no parallel except that which succeeded the battle of Leipzig. Wellington and Bluecher met at La Belle Alliance on the high road, just south of the battlefield, and lately the French headquarters. The British troops were utterly tired out, but the Prussian cavalry never drew rein until they had driven the last Frenchman over the river Sambre in their relentless pursuit. The slaughter had been prodigious, though far short of that at Borodino. The British army lost 13,000 men, the Prussian 7,000, and the French 37,000[63] (including prisoners), besides the whole of their artillery, ammunition, baggage-waggons, and military train. But the battle was one of the most decisive recorded in history, and was the real beginning of a peace which lasted over the whole of Europe for nearly forty years. Grouchy heard the cannonade of Waterloo on his march from Ligny to Wavre, and was strongly urged by Gerard to hasten across country, with his whole force, in the direction of the firing. But he pleaded the letter of Napoleon's instructions, and reached Wavre only to find Bluecher gone. After an encounter with a Prussian corps, which had been left behind, he received news of Napoleon's defeat, and ultimately escaped into France.


The march of the allies into France after the battle of Waterloo was not wholly unchecked, but it was far more rapid than in 1814. The French could not be rallied, and in the first week of July Paris was occupied by Anglo-Prussian troops. The Austrians and Prussians were moving again upon the eastern frontiers of France, but were still far behind. The Prussian general and soldiers were animated by the bitterest spirit of vengeance, and it needed all the firmness of Wellington to prevent the bridge of Jena from being blown up, and a ruinous contribution levied on the citizens of Paris. Napoleon himself was now at Rochefort, having quitted Paris after a second abdication on June 22, but four days after the battle. No other course was open to him. When he started for his last campaign, he was no longer the champion of an united nation, and consciously staked his all on a single throw. When he returned from it, discomfited and without an army, he found the chambers actively hostile to him. Carnot, who had formerly opposed his assumption of the imperial title, was now the only one of his ministers to deprecate his abdication, but Napoleon himself saw no hope of retaining his power, or transmitting it to his son, without a reckless appeal to revolutionary passions. From this he shrank, and he represented himself at St. Helena as having sacrificed personal ambition to patriotism.

The chamber of deputies appointed an executive commission of five, including the infamous Fouche, and from this body the late emperor actually received an order to quit Paris. He retired to Malmaison, where he received a fresh order to set out for Rochefort, which he reached on July 3. On the next day Paris capitulated to the allies, and the necessity for his leaving the shores of France became more urgent. Two frigates were assigned for his escape to America, but a British squadron was lying ready to intercept them. Some of his bolder companions devised a scheme for smuggling him on board a swift merchant ship, but it was foiled by the vigilant watch of the British squadron off the islands of Oleron and Re. At last he surrendered himself on board the Bellerophon, relying, as he said, on the honour of the British nation, and claiming the generous protection of the prince regent. He was, however, clearly informed that he would be at the disposal of the government. Under an agreement with the allied powers, the ministers decided, and were supported by the nation in deciding, that he could not be detained in England, either as a guest or as a prisoner, with any regard to public safety or the verdict of Europe at Vienna. The proposal of banishing him to St. Helena, suggested in the previous year, was finally adopted, and he sailed thither in the Northumberland on August 8, vehemently protesting against the bad faith of Great Britain. Louis XVIII. was restored, and the treaty of Vienna, signed on the eve of the Waterloo campaign, was but slightly modified.

The action of Murat had solved the difficulties which the congress had to face in Italy. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies reverted to the Bourbon, Ferdinand; and the Bourbons also acquired a right of reversion in Parma, where the protest of Spain against the rule of Maria Louisa could now be ignored. Genoa was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia; the pope received back the states of the Church; the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Duke of Modena were restored; while Austria had to be content with Venetia and Lombardy as far as the Ticino. The organisation of Germany occupied the congress until June, and was the least durable part of its work. The basis of it was a confederation of thirty-eight states, represented and in theory controlled by a diet under the presidency of Austria. This diet naturally resolved itself into a mere permanent congress of diplomatists for the purpose of settling the mutual relations of the constituent states. Each state was ordered to adopt a constitutional form of government, but, as no provision was made for enforcing this clause, it remained a dead letter. Prussia regained her provinces on the left bank of the Rhine, with a population exceeding 1,000,000, and was allotted the northern part of Saxony, with a population of 800,000, besides retaining her original share of Poland, with the province of Posen, which had formed part of the duchy of Warsaw. Most of this duchy was annexed by Russia, but Cracow was left a republic. Prussia also gained Swedish Pomerania. Bavaria, Hanover, and Denmark profited more or less by the repartition of Germany. Denmark, however, finally lost Norway, and Sweden paid the price of this acquisition by resigning Finland to Russia. The neutrality of Switzerland was proclaimed and her constitution simplified. The Belgian Netherlands were united to Holland, the two forming together the kingdom of the Netherlands, to which Austria ceded all her claims in the Low Countries.


The treaty of Vienna left the boundaries of France itself as they had been defined by the first treaty of Paris in 1814. The second treaty of Paris, however, signed on November 20, 1815, was less favourable to France, which had already ceded Western Savoy to Sardinia, and was now required to abandon Landau and other outlying territories beyond the frontier of 1792. She was also compelled to restore all the works of art accumulated during the war.

Great Britain had failed to obtain from the congress any binding regulation on the subject of the slave trade. The most that she could obtain was a solemn denunciation of that trade issued on February 8, which declared it to be "repugnant to the principles of civilisation and of universal morality". The moderation of the British demands, as embodied in these treaties, excited not only the amazement but the contempt of Napoleon, who discussed the subject at St. Helena with great freedom. Well knowing that his paramount object throughout all his wars and negotiations had been to crush Great Britain, and that Great Britain had been the mainstay of all the combinations against him, he could find no explanation of our self-denial except our insular simplicity. Perhaps it might be attributed with greater reason to politic magnanimity; nor, indeed, could Great Britain, as a member of the European council, dictate such terms as Napoleon suggested. Still, the gains of Great Britain were substantial. She retained Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of France (Mauritius), Trinidad, St. Lucia, Tobago, and, above all, Malta. She also obtained possession of Heligoland and the protectorate of the Ionian Islands, both of which she has since resigned of her own accord. If she afterwards lost the commanding position which she had attained among the allied powers, it was chiefly because the colossal empire which she had defied was effectually shattered, because neither her armies nor her subsidies were any longer needed on the continent of Europe, and perhaps because the energies of her statesmen were no longer braced up by the stress of a struggle for national life.

Even before the allied armies entered Paris Wellington considered it necessary to induce Louis XVIII. to make advances to certain politicians of the revolution so as to inspire national confidence in him, and to anticipate the risk of a "White Terror," or a continuance of the war. Fouche was accordingly summoned to power, and he had sufficient influence to prevent any national opposition to the Bourbon restoration. Napoleon remained at large for three weeks after his abdication, that is, for eight days after the allied troops had entered Paris, and the fear of a future Bonapartist revolution inclined the British government under Liverpool to entertain favourably the demand of Prussia for the cession of Alsace, Lorraine, and the northern fortresses. When, however, Napoleon had placed himself on board the Bellerophon, the situation changed. A contented France seemed preferable to an impotent France, and Wellington argued that the Bourbon restoration could not last, if French opinion connected it with the loss of Alsace and Lorraine. The tsar took this line from the first, and Wellington won for it the adhesion first of his own government and then of Austria. Prussia had finally to be contented with a provision for the cession of the outlying districts, which the treaty of Paris of 1814 had left to France. The second treaty of Paris, which embodied this stipulation, also provided for an indemnity of L40,000,000 to be paid by France to the allies, and for the temporary occupation of Northern France by the allied armies. On the same day Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia signed a treaty pledging themselves to act together in case fresh revolution and usurpation in France should endanger the repose of other states, and providing for frequent meetings of congresses to preserve the peace of Europe.

In addition to the formal treaties of alliance signed at Chaumont, Vienna, and Paris, an attempt was made by the Tsar Alexander to bind together the European sovereigns in an union based on the principles of Christian brotherhood. A form of treaty was accordingly drawn up which gave expression to these motives, dealt with all Christians as one nation, and committed their sovereigns to mutual affection and reciprocal service. This treaty of the holy alliance was signed on September 26, by Austria, Prussia, and Russia. All European princes except the sultan were invited to adhere to it, and all except the pope and the sultan ultimately either accepted it or expressed their sympathy with its principles. But in England there was hardly a statesman who regarded the treaty seriously, Wellington avowed his distrust of it, the prince regent declined to join it, and its effective value in promoting the subsequent concert of the powers was less than nothing. Still, however visionary and extravagantly worded, it remains as an unique record embodying the deliberate adoption of the principle of international brotherhood, and the sacrifice of separate national interests for the sake of European peace.

[Pageheading: NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA.]

It is remarkable that so little public discussion took place on two questions which have since been so hotly debated—the legal status of Napoleon after he surrendered himself, and the moral right of Great Britain to banish him to St. Helena. One reason for this apparent indifference to the fate of one who had overawed all Europe may be found in the fact that parliament was not sitting when the decision of the government was taken, and that, when it met on February 1, 1816, that decision was virtually irrevocable. We know, however, that the first question was fully considered by the allied powers and the British ministry before his place of exile was fixed, and Great Britain undertook the custody of his person. The view which prevailed was that, after his escape from Elba, he could neither be treated as an independent sovereign nor as a subject of the French king, but must be regarded as a public enemy who had fallen into the hands of one among several allied powers. Accordingly, it was by their joint mandate that he remained the prisoner of Great Britain, and was to be under the joint inspection of commissioners appointed by the other powers. Still the minds of Liverpool, Ellenborough, and Sir William Scott, judge of the court of admiralty, were not altogether easy on the legal aspect of the case, which Eldon reviewed in an elaborate and exhaustive memorandum. His conclusion was that Napoleon's position was quite exceptional, that he could not rightly be made over to France as a French rebel, but was a prisoner of war at the disposal of the British government, both on the broad principles of international law, and under the express terms of his surrender, as reported officially by Captain Maitland of the Bellerophon.

It was thought expedient, however, to pass an act of parliament in the session of 1816 for the purpose of setting at rest any objections which might afterwards be raised. This measure was introduced on March 17 by Lord Castlereagh, who defended it on grounds of national justice and national policy. It met with no opposition in the house of commons, but Lords Holland and Lauderdale criticised it in the house of lords, not as sanctioning a wrong to Napoleon, but as implicitly admitting the right of other powers to join in arrangements for his custody. Little attention was then bestowed by parliament or the public on the moral aspect of his life-long detention at St. Helena, the restrictions to be there imposed upon his liberty, or the provision to be made for his comfort. Yet these subjects have ever since exercised the minds of myriads both in England and France, and have given birth to a copious literature for more than three generations.


[61] For the movements of June 15, 16, see Chesney, Waterloo Lectures, pp. 70-137; Ropes, The Campaign of Waterloo, pp. 44-196.

[62] Rose, Life of Napoleon I., ii., 494, 495.

[63] Oman in English Historical Review, xix., 693, and xxi., 132.



When Parliament met on February 1, 1816, after a recess of unusual length, Castlereagh was received with loud acclamations from all parts of the house as the chief actor in the pacification of Europe. There was, of course, a full debate upon the treaties, but the opposition dwelt less upon the arbitrary partition of Europe than upon their alleged tendency to guarantee sovereigns against the assertion of popular rights and upon the manifest intention of the government to "raise the country into a military power". From this moment dates the whig and radical watchword of "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform". The nation was, in fact, entering upon a period of unprecedented depression and discontent, which lasted through the last four years of George III.'s reign. At the close of 1815, however, the whole horizon was apparently bright. Great Britain had saved Europe by her example, and, however small her army in comparison with those of continental states, she stood foremost among the powers which had crushed the rule of Napoleon. Her national debt, it is true, had reached the prodigious total of L861,039,049, and the interest on it amounted L32,645,618, but the expansion of our national resources had kept pace with it. In spite of the continental system, the orders in council, and the American war, the imports and exports had enormously increased, chiefly by means of an organised contraband traffic; the carrying trade of the world had passed into the hands of British shipowners; British manufactures were largely fostered by warlike expenditure at home and the suspension of many industries abroad; while population, stimulated by a vicious poor law, was rapidly on the increase. In this last element, then considered as a sure sign of prosperity, really consisted one of the chief national dangers.

So long as the war lasted, low as the rate of wages might be, there was generally employment enough in the fields or in the factories for nearly all the hands willing to labour. When the inflated war prices came to an end, and wheat fell below 80s. or even 70s. a quarter, until it reached 52s. 6d. early in 1816, labourers were turned off and wages cut down still further; bread was not proportionately cheapened, and agrarian outrages sprang up. The continent, impoverished by the war, no longer required British goods for military purposes, and, as its own domestic industries revived, ceased to absorb British products, flung in profusion on its markets. Hence came a reduction of 16 per cent. in the export trade, and of nearly 20 per cent. in the import trade, which resulted in bankruptcies and the dismissal of workpeople. If we add to these causes of distress, the influence of over-speculation, the accession of disbanded soldiers to the ranks of the unemployed, and the substitution of the factory system with machinery for domestic manufactures with hand labour, we can partly understand why Great Britain, never harried by invading armies, should have suffered more than France itself from popular misery and disaffection for several years after the restoration of peace.


The history of these years is mainly a history of social unrest, and attempts to cure social evils by legislation or coercion. Liverpool and his colleagues, with the possible exception of Eldon, were not bigoted tories, and it is sometimes forgotten that among them, together with Sidmouth, Castlereagh, and Vansittart, were Canning, Palmerston, and Peel. One of the first parliamentary struggles was on the proposal of the government to reduce the income tax from 10 to 5 per cent., and to apply this half of it, producing about L7,500,000, towards the expense of maintaining an army of 150,000 men. Since the income tax has become a favourite of democratic economists, as pressing specially upon the rich, we may be surprised to find that its total repeal was successfully advocated by Henry Brougham, the leading democrat of that day—a man whose noble services to progress and to humanity in the earlier part of his career have been obscured by the inordinate vanity and unprincipled egotism which he displayed in the later phases of his long public life. He had entered parliament in 1810, and rapidly became the most active of the opposition speakers. He now employed without scruple all the arts of agitation, petition-framing, and parliamentary obstruction to achieve his object, and succeeded, by the aid of bankers and country-gentlemen, in defeating the government by a majority of thirty-seven. This vote might be justified, more or less, on the principle laid down by Pitt, that the income tax should be held in reserve as a war tax only, or on the ground that it was equally wasteful and mischievous to keep up so large a peace-establishment, especially if it might be used to bolster up despotism abroad. It was also unfortunate that Castlereagh, ignoring the heroic efforts made by the people of England for more than twenty years, should have deprecated "an ignorant impatience to be relieved from the pressure of taxation". Still, it is remarkable that friends of the people and the ultra-liberal corporation of London, as it then was, should have concentrated their indignant protests against the financial policy of the government, not on the corn laws, or any other indirect tax, but on the income tax.

Public confidence in the economic wisdom of the ministers was further weakened by the gratuitous abandonment of the malt tax, apparently in a fit of petulance, on the ground, explicitly stated, that, if another war tax must be raised, two or three millions more or less would make little difference. By a temporary suspension of the sinking fund, a deficit might be converted into a surplus; Vansittart, however, neglected to take advantage of this simple expedient, and raised L11,500,000 by loan. His waning reputation was almost shattered by this absurd proceeding. Finally, the excessive and irregular expenditure upon the civil list provoked a searching inquiry into its abuses, prefaced by a scathing attack from Brougham upon the character of the prince regent. His character was, in fact, indefensible, and had justly forfeited the respect of the nation. He was a debauchee and gambler, a disobedient son, a cruel husband, a heartless father, an ungrateful and treacherous friend, and a burden to the ministries which had to act in his name and palliate his misdoings. That of Liverpool carried a measure for the better regulation of the civil list, upon which, swollen as it was by the wrongful appropriation of other public funds, many official salaries had been charged hitherto. For these parliament now made a separate provision. The house of commons, which properly grudged the prince regent the means of reckless luxury and self-indulgence, was unanimous in voting L60,000 for outfit and L60,000 a year to the Princess Charlotte on her marriage, on May 2, to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, looking forward to a reign under which virtue and a sense of public duty would again be the attributes of royalty. In this session, too, it conferred a boon upon Ireland, which earned little gratitude, by the consolidation of the British and Irish exchequers. Ireland was virtually insolvent before this measure was passed. With the union of the exchequers the union of the countries was completed. The administration, discredited by its financial policy, was strengthened in June by the acquisition of Canning, who succeeded Buckinghamshire as president of the board of control. In September, 1814, Wellesley Pole, a brother of the Marquis Wellesley and the Duke of Wellington, had been admitted to the cabinet as master of the mint, so that with Castlereagh, Vansittart, and Bragge-Bathurst, there were now five members of the cabinet in the lower house.

[Pageheading: INDUSTRIAL RIOTS.]

The disturbances which broke out again and again during the years 1816-19 were partly the outcome of sheer destitution among the working classes, and partly of a growing demand for reform, whether constitutional or revolutionary. The statesmen of the regency must not be too severely judged if they often confounded these causes of seditious movements, and failed to distinguish between the moderate and violent sections of reformers. Those who remembered the bloodthirsty orgies of the French revolution, ushered in by quixotic visions of liberty, equality, and fraternity, may perhaps be excused for distrusting the moderate professions of demagogues who deliberately inflamed the passions of ignorant mobs. Moreover, the whigs and moderate reformers, who privately condemned the excesses of their violent followers, made light of these in their public utterances, and reserved all their censures for the repressive policy of the government. Bread riots had begun before the harvest, which proved a total failure. The price of wheat, which was as low as 52s. 6d. a quarter in January, 1816, rose to 103s. 1d. in January, 1817, and to 111s. 6d. in June, 1817. And when rickburning set in as a consequence of agricultural depression, tumultuary processions as a consequence of enforced idleness in the coal districts, and a revival of Luddism as a consequence of stagnation in the various textile industries, itself due to a glut of British goods on the continent, the reform party, now raising its head, was held responsible by the government for a great part of these disorders.[64] The writings of Cobbett, especially his Weekly Register, certainly had a wide influence in stirring up discontent against existing institutions, but it must be admitted that he condemned the use of physical force, and pointed to parliamentary reform as the legitimate cure for all social evils. Reform, however, in Cobbett's meaning included universal suffrage with annual parliaments, and the Hampden clubs, all over the country, agitated for the same objects in less guarded language. Still, looking back at these democratic agencies by the light of later experience, we can hardly adopt the opinion expressed by a secret committee of the house of commons that their avowed objects were "nothing short of a revolution".

It was on December 2, 1816, that the extreme section of reformers, now for the first time known as radicals, in alliance with a body of socialists called Spenceans, first came into open collision with the forces of the law. A meeting was announced to be held on that day in Spa Fields, Bermondsey, and was to be addressed by "Orator" Hunt, Major Cartwright, the two Watsons, and other demagogues. Hunt was a gentleman of Somerset, and had stood for Bristol in 1812. Though a prominent speaker, he in no sense directed the movement. Burdett and Cochrane, the orthodox leaders of London reformers, were not concerned in this demonstration, which, according to an informer who gave evidence, was to be the signal for an attack upon the Tower and other acts of atrocity. As it was, before Hunt chose to appear, the mob, headed by the younger Watson, broke into gunsmiths' shops, not without bloodshed, and marched through the Royal Exchange, but were courageously met by the lord mayor, with a few assistants, and very soon dispersed. The alarm produced in the whole nation by this riotous fiasco was quite out of proportion to its real importance, and was reawakened by an insult offered to the prince regent on his return from opening parliament on January 28, 1817. Even Canning, a life-long opponent of reform, did not scruple to magnify these and similar evidences of popular restlessness into proofs of a deep-laid plot against the constitution, and committees of both houses urged the necessity of drastic measures to put down a conspiracy against public order and private property. These measures took the form of bills for the suppression of seditious meetings, and for the suspension until July 1 of the habeas corpus act, which had been uninterruptedly in force since its suspension by Pitt had expired in 1801. This last bill was passed on March 3, and, before the other became law, the so-called march of the Blanketeers took place at Manchester. The march was the ridiculous sequel of a very large meeting got up for the purpose of carrying a petition to London, and presenting it to the prince regent in person. The meeting was dispersed by the soldiers and police, after the riot act had been read, and a straggling crowd of some three hundred who began their pilgrimage, carrying blankets or overcoats, melted away by degrees before they had got far southward.


A far more serious outbreak at Manchester seems to have been clumsily planned soon afterwards, but it ended in nothing, and the enemies of the government freely attributed this and other projects of mob violence to the instigation of an agent-provocateur, well known as "Oliver the Spy". This man was also credited with the authorship of "the Derbyshire insurrection," for which three men were executed and many others transported. Here there can be no doubt that a formidable gang, armed with pikes, terrorised a large district, pressing operatives to join them in overt defiance of the law, and killing one who held back. Being confronted by a Nottinghamshire magistrate named Rolleston, with a small body of soldiers, they fled across the fields, and the bubble of rebellion burst at a touch. Whether they were legally guilty of high treason, for which they were unwisely tried, may perhaps be doubted, but it would certainly be no palliation of their crime if it could be shown, as it never was shown, that Oliver had led them to rely on a jacobin revolution in London. What does appear very clearly is that Sidmouth was greatly alarmed by the reports of his agents on the disturbed state of the country, but that he was highly conscientious in his instructions and in the use of his own powers. The great majority of those imprisoned for political offences at this time were liberated or acquitted, but the suspension of the habeas corpus act was renewed at the beginning of July.

Moreover, a circular was addressed by Sidmouth to the lords-lieutenant of counties, for the information of the magistrates, intimating that, in the opinion of the law officers, persons charged on oath with seditious libel might be apprehended and held to bail. No act of Sidmouth called forth such an outburst of reprobation as this; yet it is not self-evident that instigations to outrage, being criminal offences, should be treated by magistrates differently from other offences for which bail may be required, with the alternative of imprisonment. On the other hand, it is hardly becoming for a home secretary to interpret the law, and, since the forensic triumphs of Erskine, it had been declared by an act of parliament that in cases of libel, as distinct from all other criminal trials, both the law and the fact were within the province of the jury. At all events, William Cobbett, feeling himself to be at the mercy of informers and the crown, took refuge in America in December, 1817. Hone, an antiquarian bookseller, was thrice prosecuted for blasphemous libels, in which the ministers had been held up to contempt. All these ill-judged, if not vindictive, prosecutions ended in signal failure. Ellenborough, the chief justice, before whom the two last trials were held, strained his judicial authority to procure a conviction of Hone, but the prisoner, with a spirit worthy of a martyr, defied the intimidation of the court, and thrice carried the sympathies of the jury with him. His triple acquittal led to Ellenborough's resignation, and perceptibly shook the prestige of the government.

In the year 1818 there was a temporary improvement in the economic condition of the country. The depression of the preceding year was followed in this year by a rapid increase of revenue. The importance the ministry attached to finance was emphasised by the admission to the cabinet in January of Frederick John Robinson, afterwards prime minister as Lord Goderich, who had been appointed president of the board of trade and treasurer of the navy. The chancellor of the exchequer and the master of the mint were already members of the cabinet. The suspension of the habeas corpus act having expired, the reform agitation revived, but assumed a less dangerous character, and no serious outbreak occurred. A bill of indemnity was passed to cover any excesses of jurisdiction in arresting suspected persons or in suppressing tumultuous assemblies. A parliamentary inquiry showed both that the disorders of the previous year had been exaggerated, and that, after all, the extraordinary powers of the home office had been used with moderation. Nevertheless, the early part of the session was largely occupied by party debates on these questions, the employment of spies, and apprehensions for libel. Parliament was dissolved in June, and the general election which followed resulted in a gain of several seats to the opposition.[65] The ministry was strengthened in January, 1819, by the appointment of Wellington to be master-general of the ordnance, in succession to Mulgrave, who remained in the cabinet without office.


Before the end of the year 1818, a strike of Manchester cotton-spinners was attended by the usual incidents of brutal violence towards workmen who refused to join in it, but a few shots from the soldiers, one of which killed a rioter, proved effectual in quelling lawlessness. Manchester, however, remained the centre of agitation, and during the summer of 1819 a series of reform meetings held in other great towns culminated in a monster meeting originally convened for August 9, but postponed until the 16th. The history of this meeting ending in the so-called "Manchester" or "Peterloo massacre," has been strongly coloured by party spirit and sympathy with the victims of reckless demagogy no less than of blundering officialism. It is certain that drilling had been going on for some time among the multitudes invited to attend the meeting of the 9th; that its avowed object was to choose a "legislatorial representative," as Birmingham had already done, and that, on its being declared illegal by the municipal authorities, who declined to summon it on their own initiative, its organisers deliberately resolved to hold it a week later, whether it were legal or not.

The contingents, which poured in by thousands from neighbouring towns, seem to have carried no arms but sticks, and to have conducted themselves peaceably when they arrived at St. Peter's Fields, where Orator Hunt, puffed up with silly vanity, was voted into the chair on a hustings. Unfortunately, instead of attempting to prevent the meeting, the county magistrates decided to let the great masses of people assemble, and then to arrest the leaders in the midst of them. They had at their disposal several companies of infantry, six troops of the 15th hussars, and a body of yeomanry, besides special constables. The chief constable, being ordered to arrest Hunt and his colleagues, declared that he could not do so without military aid, whereupon a small force of yeomanry advanced but soon became wedged up and enclosed by the densely packed crowd. One of the magistrates, fancying the yeomanry to be in imminent danger, of which there is no proof, called upon Colonel L'Estrange, who was in command of the soldiers, to rescue them and disperse the mob. Four troops of the hussars then made a dashing charge, supported by a few of the yeomanry; the people fled in wild confusion before them; some were cut down, more were trampled down, and an eye-witness describes "several mounds of human beings" as lying where they had fallen. Happily, the actual loss of life did not exceed five or six, but a much larger number was more or less wounded, the real havoc and bloodshed were inevitably exaggerated by rumour, and a bitter sense of resentment was implanted in the breasts of myriads, innocent of the slightest complicity with sedition, but impatient of oligarchical rule, and disgusted with so ruthless an interference with the right of public meeting.

It would have been wise if Sidmouth and his colleagues had recognised this widespread feeling, had seen that famine and despair were at the bottom of popular discontent, and had admitted error of judgment, at least, on the part of the Lancashire magistrates. On the contrary, they felt it so necessary to support civil and military authority, at all hazards, that they induced the prince regent to express unqualified approbation of the course taken, and afterwards defended it without reserve in parliament. Even Eldon expressed his opinion privately that it would be hard to justify it, unless the assembly amounted to an act of treason, as he regarded it; whereas Hunt and his associates were prosecuted (and convicted in the next year) not for treason, but only for a misdemeanour. At all events, the storm of indignation excited by this sad event, and not confined to the working classes, powerfully fomented the reform movement. Large meetings were held over all the manufacturing districts, and a requisition to summon a great Yorkshire meeting was signed by Fitzwilliam, the lord-lieutenant, who attended it in person. For these acts he was properly dismissed, but, in spite of inflammatory speeches, nearly all the meetings passed off quietly and without interference. Nevertheless, the government thought it necessary to hold an autumn session, and strengthen the hands of the executive by fresh measures of repression. These having been passed in December after strenuous opposition, were afterwards known as the six acts, and regarded as the climax of Sidmouth's despotic regime.

Two of the six acts, directed against the possession of arms and military training for unlawful purposes, cannot be considered oppressive under the circumstances then prevailing. Nor can exception be taken on the ground of principle to another for "preventing delay in the administration of justice in cases of misdemeanour," which, indeed, was amended, by Holland, with Eldon's consent, so as to benefit defendants in state prosecutions. Two were designed to curb still further the liberty of the press. One of these made the publication of seditious libels an offence punishable with banishment, and authorised the seizure of all unsold copies. When we consider the extreme virulence of seditious libels in those days, this act does not wear so monstrous an aspect as its radical opponents alleged, but happily it soon became a dead letter, and was repealed in 1830. The other, imposing a stamp-duty on small pamphlets, only placed them on the same footing with newspapers. The last of the new measures—"to prevent more effectually seditious meetings and assemblies"—was practically aimed against all large meetings, unless called by the highest authorities in counties and corporate towns, or, at least, five justices of the peace. It was, therefore, a grave encroachment on the right of public meeting, and the only excuse for it was that it was passed under the fear of a revolutionary movement, and limited in duration to a period of five years.


Nor can it be denied that, as a whole, this restrictive code was successful. From a modern point of view it may appear less arbitrary than the suspension of the habeas corpus act for a whole year (1817-18), but it was assuredly tainted with a reactionary spirit, and was capable of being worked in a way inconsistent with civil liberty. That it was not so worked, on the whole, and caused less hardship than had been anticipated, was not so much the result of changes in the government itself, as of economic progress in the nation, aided by a healthier growth of public opinion. The violence which marked the early stages of the reform movement has been described as a safety-valve against anarchy; it was, in reality, the chief obstacle to a sound and comprehensive reform bill. While it lasted, the middle classes and liberals of moderate views were estranged from the cause; when it ceased, the demand for a new representative system became irresistible.

Whatever allowance may be made for the coercive policy of the government during the dark period of storm and stress which succeeded the great war, it is hard to find any excuse for its neglect of social legislation. Then, if ever, was a time when the work of Pitt's best days should have been resumed, when real popular grievances should have been redressed, and when the long arrears of progressive reform should have been gradually redeemed. Yet very little was done to better the lot of men, women, and children in Great Britain, and that little was chiefly initiated by individuals. In 1816, on the motion of a private member, an inquiry was commenced into the state of the metropolitan police, which disclosed most scandalous abuses, such as the habitual association of thieves and thief-takers, encouraged by the grants of blood-money which had been continued since the days of Jonathan Wild. In 1817 a committee sanctioned by the ministers recommended a measure for the gradual abolition of sinecures, which then figured prominently in the domestic charter of reform. Their recommendations were adopted, and a large number of sinecure offices were swept away. But inasmuch as sinecures had been largely given to persons who had held public offices of business, it was thought necessary to institute pensions to an amount not exceeding one-half of the reduction. In 1816 a private member, named Curwen, brought forward a fanciful scheme of his own for the amendment of the poor laws, which in effect anticipated modern projects of old age pensions. He obtained the appointment of a select committee, which reported in 1817, but their proposals were thoroughly inadequate, and no sensible improvement came of them.

It was also in 1816 that the cause of national education, the importance of which had been vainly urged by Whitbread, was taken up in earnest by Brougham. His motion for the appointment of a select committee was confined to the schools of the metropolis. It sat at intervals until 1818, when its powers were enlarged, and its labours somewhat diverted into a searching exposure of mismanagement in endowed charities. The one direct fruit of the committee was the creation of the charity commission, but in the opinion of Brougham himself it was of the highest value in opening the whole education question. The almost universal prevalence of distress in 1817, and the excessive burden thrown upon poor rates, induced parliament to authorise an expenditure of L750,000 in Great Britain and Ireland for the employment of the labouring poor on public works. A far sounder and more fruitful measure of relief owes its origin to the same year. It was now that the institution of savings banks, hitherto promoted only by single philanthropists, emerged from the experimental stage and claimed the attention of parliament. A bill for their regulation, introduced by Pitt's friend, George Rose, did not pass into an act; but the establishment of savings banks was now directly encouraged by the legislature, and there were thoughtful men who already dimly foresaw the manifold benefits of their future development.


In the year 1819 was initiated a very important reform in the currency, which had long been delayed. When the bullion committee reported in 1810, Bank of England notes were at a discount of about 131/2 per cent. There were several reasons why this should be the case. Continental trade was then compelled to pass through British ports, and a large supply of gold was needed to serve as the medium of this trade. There was also a steady drain of gold to the Spanish peninsula to meet war expenses, while troubles in South America diminished the annual output of the precious metals. In 1811 Bank of England notes were made legal tender, but no further action was then taken, and the depreciation continued until 1814. The magnificent harvest of 1813, together with other causes, brought about a sudden fall of prices, in consequence of which no less than 240 country banks stopped payment in the years 1814-16. The decrease and popular distrust of private banknotes produced an increased demand for Bank of England notes, which in 1817 had nearly risen in value to a par with gold. In 1819, when they were at a discount of only 41/2 per cent., a committee was appointed by the house of commons to reconsider the policy of resuming cash payments, and Peel, young as he was, became its chairman. In this character he abandoned his preconceived views and induced the house to adopt those which had been advocated by Horner. It was not thought prudent to fix an earlier date than 1823 for the actual resumption of cash payments, but the directors of the Bank of England anticipated this date, and began to exchange notes for specie on May 1, 1821. The new standard was definitely one of gold. A considerable fall of prices ensued, and it is still a disputed question whether the return to a single standard was entirely beneficial.

But for what is called the public, the readers of newspapers and the frequenters of clubs or taverns, the rivalry of party leaders or the incidents of court life excite a much keener interest than painful efforts for the good of the humbler classes. During the closing years of George III.'s reign there were no party conflicts of special intensity. The whigs acquiesced in their self-imposed exclusion from office, and contented themselves with damaging criticism; the radicals had not yet acquired the confidence or respect of the electors. Liverpool remained prime minister; Castlereagh, foreign secretary; Sidmouth, home secretary; Vansittart, chancellor of the exchequer. Meanwhile there were startling vicissitudes in the fortunes of the royal family. The king, indeed, remained under the cloud of mental derangement which darkened the last ten years of his life, and the Princess of Wales, who had been the object of so much scandal, was now out of sight and residing abroad. The Princess Charlotte, however, the only daughter of the regent, had centred in herself the loyalty and hopes of the nation in a remarkable degree, and was credited, not unjustly, with private virtues and public sympathies contrasting strongly with the disposition of her father. Her marriage with Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who bore a high character, had been hailed with national enthusiasm, for it was known that, like Queen Victoria, she had been carefully trained and had disciplined herself, physically and morally, for the duties of a throne. It has been truly said that her death in childbirth, on November 6, was the great historical event of 1817. The prince regent, with his constitution weakened by dissipation, was not expected to survive her long, and so long as his wife lived there was no prospect of other legitimate issue, unless he could procure a divorce. There was no grandchild of George III. who could lawfully inherit the crown, and the apprehension of a collateral succession became more and more generally felt.[66]

In the following year four royal marriages were announced. The Princess Elizabeth espoused the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg; the Duke of Clarence, the Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen; the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Augusta of Hesse; the Duke of Kent, the Princess Victoria Mary of Saxe-Coburg. The Duke of Sussex was already married, but not with the necessary consent of the crown, and the Duke of Cumberland was childless, having married three years earlier a divorced widow whom the queen, for private reasons, declined to receive. It is a striking proof of the discredit into which the royal family had fallen, since the old king virtually ceased to reign, that parliament, in spite of its anxiety about the succession, displayed an almost niggardly parsimony when it was moved to increase the allowances of the princes about to marry. No application was made on behalf of the Princess Elizabeth or the Duke of Sussex, who was already married morganatically. The additional grant of L6,000 a year asked on behalf of the Duke of Cumberland was refused by a small majority, partly, no doubt, because his anti-liberal opinions and untrustworthy character were no secret to public men. L10,000 a year was asked for the Duke of Clarence, and justified by Canning as less than he might fairly have claimed, but it was reduced to L6,000 and declined by the duke as inadequate; he afterwards married without a parliamentary grant. The provision of L6,000 a year for the Dukes of Cambridge and Kent respectively was stoutly opposed but ultimately carried. Of all George III.'s sons, the Duke of Kent was perhaps the most respected. It has been truly said that if the nation could have expressed its dearest wish, in the spirit of prophecy, after the death of the Princess Charlotte, it would have been that the issue of the Duke of Kent's marriage with Prince Leopold's sister might succeed, as Queen Victoria, to the crown of her grandfather.[67]


On November 17, 1818, Queen Charlotte died, having filled her great and most difficult position for nearly sixty years with sound judgment, exemplary moral integrity, and a certain homely dignity. The Duke of York succeeded her as guardian of the king's person. Little more than a year later she was followed to the grave by the Duke of Kent, who died on January 23, 1820, and by the king himself, who died on January 29, in the eighty-second year of his age. He was not a great sovereign, but, as a man, he was far superior to his two predecessors, and must ever stand high, if not highest, in the gallery of our kings. His venerable figure, though shrouded from view, was a chief mainstay of the monarchy. Narrow as his views were, and obstinately as he adhered to them, he was not incapable of changing them, and could show generosity towards enemies, as he ever showed fidelity to friends. His reception of Franklin after the American war, and of Fox after the death of Pitt, was that of a king who understood his kingly office; and his strict devotion to business, regardless of his own pleasure, could not have been exceeded by a merchant engrossed in lucrative trade. The many pithy and racy sayings recorded of him show an insight into men's characters and the realities of life not unworthy of Dr. Johnson. His simplicity, kindliness, and charity endeared him to his subjects. His undaunted courage and readiness to undertake sole responsibility, not only during the panics of the Gordon riots and of the impending French invasion, but in many a political crisis, compelled the respect of all his ministers, and his disappearance from the scenes, to make way for the regency of his eldest son, was almost as disastrous for English society as the exchange, in France, of Louis XIV.'s decorous rule for that of the Regent Orleans.

The European concert which had been called into existence by the war against Napoleon, and had effected a continental settlement at Vienna, continued to act for the maintenance of peace. The treaty of alliance of 1815 only bound the four powers to common action in the event of a fresh revolution in France which might endanger the tranquillity of other states. The holy alliance was more comprehensive and wider in its aims, but was too vague to form the practical basis of a federation. The settlement of Europe by the treaty of Vienna was, however, the work of all the powers, and they had therefore an interest in everything that might be likely to affect that settlement. The habit of concerted action, once formed, was not lightly abandoned, and the succeeding age was an age of congresses. But though there was a general sentiment in favour of concerted action it manifested itself in different ways. The causes of the recent struggle with France had been political in their origin, and it was agreed that a recurrence of disorder from France could be best prevented by the establishment of a government in that country which should be at once constitutional and legitimist. England favoured, and Russia, the most autocratic of states, favoured still more vehemently, the development of constitutions wherever it might be practicable, while Austria, being composed of territories with no national cohesion, endeavoured rather to thwart the growth of constitutions. But Russia was also the most active advocate of joint interference where a constitutional reform was effected by unconstitutional means. Great Britain and Austria, on the other hand, with a juster instinct, considered armed interference an extreme remedy which might often be worse than the disease of a revolution.


The numerous restorations of 1814 and 1815 were followed by a royalist and aristocratic reaction in many countries of Europe. In France Louis XVIII. found himself confronted by an ultra-royalist chamber of deputies which clamoured for vengeance on the partisans of the republican and imperial regimes and for the restoration of the privileges and estates of the Church. Ferdinand VII. of Spain swept away the unwieldy constitution of 1812 amid the rejoicings of his people, who little foresaw his future tyranny; and Great Britain did not venture to resist the action of Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies in abolishing a constitution which British influence had induced him to grant his island kingdom in 1813. In Prussia the government dealt sternly with the liberal press, and the provincial estates opposed the institution of a national diet; while in Wuertemberg a parliament assembled under a liberal constitution demanded the restoration of the ancient privileges of the nobility and clergy. In the Two Sicilies British influence, supported by that of Austria, was used to prevent outrages on the defeated party; in Spain the moderate counsels of Great Britain were less successful. Austria endeavoured to prevent future disturbance in the Italian peninsula by a secret treaty, which obtained the sanction of the British government, requiring the Two Sicilies to adopt no constitutional changes inconsistent with the principles adopted by Austria in the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. Similar treaties were concluded by Austria with Tuscany, Modena, and Parma, and she thus gained an ascendency in Italy, from which only Sardinia and the papal states were exempt. Russian agents meanwhile began to conduct a liberal propaganda in Spain and Italy, and Russia was even credited with a desire to make a liberalised Spain a counterpoise to England on the sea.

For a time, however, there were no European complications of a formidable nature. In 1816 a British squadron was sent out under Lord Exmouth lo execute the decree of the congress of Vienna against the Barbary states. The Dey of Algiers and the Beys of Tunis and Tripoli were called upon to recognise the Ionian Islands as British, to accept British mediation between them and the courts of the Two Sicilies and Sardinia, to restore their Christian captives, and not to authorise further piracy. These terms were accepted by the Beys of Tunis and Tripoli, and the two first demands were granted by the Dey of Algiers. He was allowed a delay of three months in order to obtain the sultan's permission for granting the remainder, but in the interval a massacre of Italian fishermen took place at Bona. Lord Exmouth now sailed from Gibraltar to attack Algiers. On his demands being again ignored, he bombarded that city on August 27 for more than six hours. The arsenal and storehouses and all the ships in the port were burned, and on the next day the dey accepted Exmouth's terms; peace was signed on the 30th, the principal terms being the abolition of Christian slavery, and the delivery of all slaves to Exmouth on the following day.

The treaty of Vienna in placing the Ionian Islands under British protection had made no mention of the towns of Parga and Butrinto on the mainland of Epirus which had passed under British rule along with the islands. These places were now surrendered to Turkey in accordance with a former treaty, in return for the Turkish recognition of the British protectorate over the islands. The inhabitants of Parga were, however, vehemently opposed to such a transference of their allegiance, and they were conveyed to the Ionian Islands and compensated for the loss of their property. The Turks entered into occupation of Parga in 1819. In 1817 and 1818 wild rumours of Russian aggression in the direction of the Mediterranean began to circulate in England. It was reported that Spain had promised to cede Port Mahon to Russia; and that Russia was preparing a great military force, to be employed, if necessary, in alliance with the Bourbon states, France, Spain, and the Two Sicilies, to counteract British and Austrian influence. This influence, with that of Prussia, had really been employed to keep the Dardanelles closed against Russian ships. Meanwhile Austria had won over Prussia to her conservative policy in Germany.

The violent language of the liberal party, especially at the universities, already began to terrify the Prussian government. The first danger signal was given at the Wartburg festival of delegates from the German universities in 1817, at which the students indulged in some boyish manifestations of their sympathies; their proceedings made some stir in Germany, and Metternich declared that they were revolutionary. The horror of liberalism was destined to be heightened in 1819 by the murder of the tsar's agent, the dramatist Kotzebue, by a lunatic member of a political society at Giessen. Its immediate result was a conference of German ministers at Carlsbad, where several resolutions for the suppression of political agitation were passed, and afterwards adopted by the diet at Frankfort. This policy was embodied in the "final act" of a similar conference held at Vienna in the following year (1820), which empowered the greater states of Germany to aid the smaller in checking revolutionary movements. At the same time it reaffirmed the general principle of non-intervention, and even laid down the pregnant doctrine that constitutions could not be legitimately altered except by constitutional means. The union of Austria and Prussia on the conservative side had rather the effect of throwing the secondary states of southern Germany upon the liberal side. In the spring and summer of 1818 Bavaria and Baden framed constitutions, and in 1819 Wuertemberg once more essayed parliamentary government, which the reactionary policy of her first parliament had compelled her to abandon. The significant fact in European politics was that Frederick William III. of Prussia, always accustomed to being led, had passed from the influence of Russia to that of Austria.


Such were the general tendencies of European politics when the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle assembled on September 30, 1818. The primary object of this conference was to consider the request of France for a reduction in the indemnity demanded of her and for the evacuation of her territories by the four allied powers. Wellington and Castlereagh, who represented Great Britain, earned the gratitude of France by readily agreeing to these requests, which were granted without any difficulty. This question was obviously one which required such a conference to settle it; but the conference, having once assembled, was urged to deal with other difficulties that less directly concerned it. One of these was a dispute between Denmark and Sweden about the apportionment of the Danish debt, which, in consideration of the annexation of Norway to Sweden, under the treaty of Kiel, was to be partly borne by Sweden. Denmark appealed to the four powers, representing that treaty as in fact a part of their own settlement of Europe. Sweden would not admit the right of the powers to intervene, but finally settled her difficulty with Denmark by a separate negotiation conducted by the mediation of Great Britain in 1819.

A still more doubtful question was raised by the request of Spain for the assistance of the allied powers against her revolted colonies. The Spanish dependencies in America had declined to acknowledge Joseph Bonaparte, and had lapsed into a state of chaos; the restoration of Ferdinand VII. had induced most of them to return to their allegiance, but the three south-eastern colonies, Banda Oriental (Uruguay), La Plata (the Argentine), and Paraguay, continued in revolt. In 1817 fortune turned still further against Spain; Monte Video, the capital of Banda Oriental, was taken by Portugal, or rather by Brazil, and Chile revolted against Spain. On February 12, 1818, Chile proclaimed her independence, and she began at once to procure warships in England and the United States, of which Lord Cochrane took command. The four allied powers and France had protested against the seizure of Monte Video, but otherwise Spain had been left to herself. Great Britain seemed to have more to gain than to lose by the insurrection. The revolted colonies were open to her commerce, and by weakening Spain they had strengthened the maritime supremacy of Great Britain. Nevertheless Great Britain was willing to mediate, on condition that Spain would make reasonable concessions. Spain, however, refused to make any concessions at all, and called on the allied powers to aid her in crushing the insurrection by force. Great Britain did not regard an unconditional subjection of the colonies as either expedient or practicable, and opposed this course; Austria took the same view, and thus placed intervention out of the question.


But the principal question before the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle was not one relating to any particular difficulty, but the permanent form of the European alliance. The tsar desired a general confederacy of European powers, such as had signed the treaty of Vienna and the holy alliance. This confederacy was to guard against two evils—that of revolutionary agitation and that of arbitrary administration and sectional alliances. Such a project, though doubtless proposed in good faith, practically gave Russia an interest in the domestic movements, both reactionary and constitutional, of every country, while it forbade any political combination to which Russia was not a party. Castlereagh agreed with Metternich in thinking that such an extension of Russian Influence was more to be dreaded than local disorder, and Great Britain and Austria proposed therefore that the alliance should be based on the treaty of Chaumont, as renewed at Vienna and Paris, though they were willing to have friendly discussions from time to time without extending the scope of the alliance. All parties desired to include France in their alliance, but the tsar pertinently objected that France could not be admitted to an alliance aimed solely against France. A compromise was therefore adopted. The quadruple alliance for war, in case of a revolution in France, was secretly renewed, and centres for mobilisation were fixed, while France was publicly invited to join the deliberations of the allied powers. A secret protocol was then signed providing for the meeting of congresses from time to time, and giving the minor European powers a place in these congresses when their affairs should be under discussion.

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