The downfall of the French monarchy was the cause, more or less directly, of a series of Continental revolutions, but Spain was less affected by the flight of the monarch who had exerted so baneful an influence upon its policy and its Royal Family than might have been anticipated. Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer was then British Minister at Madrid, and Lord Palmerston was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He evidently expected another revolution in Spain, as appears from a remarkable despatch which he addressed to Sir Henry. Its tone was certainly rather dictatorial, and it is not much wonder that it fired the pride of the Spanish Government. The noble lord wrote as follows:"Sir,I have to recommend you to advise the Spanish Government to adopt a legal and constitutional system. The recent downfall of the King of the French and of his family, and the expulsion of his Ministers, ought to indicate to the Spanish Court and Government the danger to which they expose themselves in endeavouring to govern a country in a manner opposed to the sentiments and opinions of the nation; and the catastrophe which has just occurred in France is sufficient to show that even a numerous and well-disciplined army offers only an insufficient means of defence to the Crown, when the system followed by it is not in harmony with the general system of the country. The Queen of Spain would act wisely, in the present critical state of affairs, if she were to strengthen her executive Government, by widening the basis on which the administration reposes, and in calling to her councils some of the men in whom the Liberal party places confidence."

This was the state of things when, on the 17th of August, 1792, the French deposed Louis, and prepared for his death. Lord Gower was thereupon recalled, on the plain ground that, being accredited alone to the king, and there being no longer a king, his office was at an end; he was, however, ordered to take a respectful leave, and to assure the Government that Britain still desired to maintain peaceful relations. Yet at this very time London was swarming with paid emissaries of the French Government, whose business was to draw over the people to French notions of republican liberty. Nay, more, Lebrun, the Foreign Minister, took no pains to conceal the assurance of the French that Ireland would revolt and that France would secure it. On the 18th of November a great dinner was given at White's Hotel in Paris, at which Lord Edward Fitzgerald and other Irish Republicans, Thomas Paine, Santerre, and a host of like characters, English, Irish, French, and others, toasted the approaching National Convention of Great Britain and Ireland, and amid wild acclamations drank the sentiment, "May revolutions never be made by halves!" The very next day, the 19th, the National Convention issued its decree, declaring war against all thrones and proclaiming the enfranchisement of all peoples. This was immediately followed by Jacobinised deputations of Englishmen, thanking the Convention for this proclamation; and the President, in reply, said, "Citizens of the world! Royalty in Europe is utterly destroyed, or on the point of perishing on the ruins of feudality; and the Rights of Man, placed by the side of thrones, are a devouring fire which will consume them all. Worthy Republicans! Congratulate yourselves on the festival which you have celebrated in honour of the French Revolutionthe prelude to the festival of nations!" [See larger version]


The Covent Garden meeting became thenceforth an annual feature in the political events of the metropolis, and the effects of this movement in the chief city of the kingdom were seen in the election of Mr. Pattison, the Free Trade candidate, for the City of London. Another sign of the times was the accession to the ranks of the Anti-Corn-Law League of Mr. Samuel Jones Loyd, the wealthy banker, a conspicuous City man, and a great[509] authority on financial matters. This gentleman addressed a letter to the council of the League in October, 1844, in which, after mentioning his reluctance to join a public body, for whose acts he could not be responsible, he said, "The time is now arrived when this must be overruled by other considerations of overwhelming importance. The great question of Free Trade is now fairly at issue, and the bold, manly, and effectual efforts which have been made by the League in its support command at once my admiration and my concurrence." Still more remarkable was the progress of the League in its scheme of converting the agriculturists themselves to their views. The truths which they had always maintainedthat the tenant farmer had no real interest in maintaining the Corn Laws, the agricultural labourer, if possible, less, and that even the landed proprietor, on a far-seeing view of his interest, would be on the same side as themselveswere based upon arguments easily understood by calm reasoners, and were even beginning to make way with these classes themselves. Not a few great landowners and noblemen had openly classed themselves among their supporters. Foremost among these was Earl Fitzwilliam, who was one of the most effective speakers at Anti-Corn-Law meetings by the side of Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright. Among the noblemen openly supporting their cause were the Marquis of Westminster, Lord Kinnaird, Earl Ducie, the Earl of Radnor, Lord Morpeth, and Earl Spencer. Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan; Real de Monte 550 0 0 1,350 0 0

The Allied sovereigns and their Ministers met at Vienna, in the opening of the year 1815, in congress, to settle the boundaries of all such States as had undergone disruptions and transformations through the will of Buonaparte. They were proceeding, with the utmost composure, to rearrange the map of Europe according to their several interests and ambitions. Austria, Spain, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden had their sovereigns or their representatives there. Those for Great Britain were the Duke of Wellington, the Lords Cathcart and Clancarty, and Sir Charles Stewart. All at once a clap of political thunder shook the place, and made every astute diplomatist look aghast. It was announced that Buonaparte had escaped from Elba, and was rapidly traversing France on the way to Paris, and that his old soldiers were flocking with acclamation to his standard. It was what was certain to occurwhat every man not a cunning diplomatist must have foreseen from the first, as certainly as that a stone thrown up is sure to come down again. Yet no one seems to have foreseen it, except it were Lord Castlereagh, who, not arriving at Paris before this foolish scheme was adopted, had protested against it, and then yielded to it. On the 13th of March the ministers of the Allied Powers met, and signed a paper which, at length, was in earnest, and showed that they were now as well convinced of a simple fact as the dullest intellect had been ten years beforethat there was no use treating Buonaparte otherwise than as a wild beast. They now declared him an outlaw, a violator of treaties, and an incorrigible disturber of the peace of the world; and they delivered him over to public contempt and vengeance. Of course, the British ambassadors were immediately looked to for the means of moving the armies of these high and mighty Powers, and the Duke of Wellington to plan and to lead the military operations against the man who had once more developed himself from the Emperor of Elba into the Emperor of the French.

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

This proposal, which, at an earlier stage of the dispute, might have been listened to, was one at this stage which was sure to be rejected, and was only one of those miserable half measures which commonplace minds so frequently put forth only to demonstrate their inability to grasp the amplitude of the occasion. It was supposed that the measure had been intended to be larger, but that the Bedford party had fallen on it in Council, and reduced it to these pitiable dimensions. Yet when it was introduced into the Commons by Lord North, the Bedford party looked at each other in consternation, and soon the tempest broke loose on the Treasury benches.

A succession of battles now took place with varying success, but still leaving the Allies nearer to Paris than before. If Buonaparte turned against Blucher, Schwarzenberg made an advance towards the capital; if against Schwarzenberg, Blucher progressed a stage. To check Schwarzenberg whilst he attacked Blucher, Napoleon sent Oudinot, Macdonald, and Gerard against Schwarzenberg; but they were defeated, and Napoleon himself was repulsed with severe loss from Craonne and the heights of Laon. But Buonaparte getting between the two Allied armies, and occupying Rheims, the Austrians were so discouraged that Schwarzenberg gave orders to retreat. The Emperor Alexander strenuously opposed retreat; but the effectual argument was advanced by Lord Castlereagh, who declared that the moment the retreat commenced the British subsidies should cease. A sharp battle was fought on the 20th of March, between Schwarzenberg and Napoleon, at Arcis-sur-Aube, and Napoleon was compelled to retreat. Blucher, who had received the order to retreat from Schwarzenberg, had treated it with contempt, and replied to it by his favourite word, "Forwards!" Napoleon had now to weigh the anxious question, whether it was better to push on, and stand a battle under the walls of Paris, with his small, much-reduced force, against the Allies, and with the capital in a state of uncertainty towards himor to follow and harass the rear of the enemy. He seems to have shrunk from the chance of a defeat under the eyes of his metropolis, and he therefore, finding a Prussian force in Vitry, crossed the Marne on the 22nd of March, and held away towards his eastern frontiers, as if with some faint, fond hope that the peasantry of Franche Comt and Alsace might rise and fly to his support. But no such movement was likely; all parts of France were mortally sick of his interminable wars, and glad to see an end put to them. The Allies had now taken the bold resolve to march on Paris and summon it to surrender.

Austria, the centre of despotic power on the Continent, the model of absolutism, in which the principle of Divine Right was most deeply rooted, enjoyed peace from 1815, when Europe was tranquillised by the Holy Alliance, down to 1848, when it felt in all its force the tremendous shock of revolution. During that time Prince Metternich ruled the Austrian Empire almost autocratically. This celebrated diplomatist was the greatest champion and most powerful protector in Europe of legitimacy and ultra-conservatism. The news of the French Revolution reached Vienna on the 1st of March; and no censorship of the press, no espionage, no sanitary cordon designed to exclude the plague of revolution, could avert its electric influence, or arrest its momentous effects. On the 13th the people rose, defeated the Imperial troops, forced Metternich to fly, and the emperor to promise constitutional reforms. The emperor and his family, however, soon felt that Vienna was too hot for them, and notwithstanding unlimited concessions, Ferdinand began to fear that his throne might share the fate of Louis Philippe's. Therefore, he secretly quitted the capital with the imperial family, on the evening of the 17th of May, 1848, alleging the state of his health as a reason for his flight, which took his Ministers quite by surprise. He proceeded to Innsbruck in Tyrol.

Earl Grey was not slow to avail himself of these exciting topics in order to point the lightning of popular discontent against the head of the Government. "We ought," he said, "to learn wisdom from what is passing before our eyes; and, when the spirit of liberty is breaking out all round, it is our first duty to secure our own institutions by introducing into them a temperate reform. I have been a Reformer all my life; and on no occasion have I been inclined to go farther than I am prepared to go now, if an opportunity were to offer. But I do not found the title to demand it on abstract right. We are told that every man who pays taxesnay, that every man arrived at the years of discretionhas a right to vote for representatives. That right I utterly deny. The right of the people is to have a good Government, one that is calculated to secure their privileges and happiness; and if that is incompatible with universal, or very general suffrage, then the limitation, and not the extension, is the true right of the people."

From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. A scene followed the king's departure which seems almost incredible. After the service of the second course, the numerous attendants, singers, and even ladies and gentlemen began to press round the royal table, as if prepared for a scramble to possess its contents. The crowd of spectators pressed nearer and nearer. For a moment only covetous eyes were cast on the spoils, as if each were afraid to begin the plunder; but, at last, a rude hand having been thrust through the first ranks, and a golden fork having been seized, this operated as a signal to all, and was followed by a "general snatch." In a short time all the small portable articles were transferred to the pockets of the multitude. The Lord High Chamberlain, hearing of the attack, hastened to the rescue, and[216] with the greatest difficulty saved the more important articles of plate, and had them conveyed to Carlton Garden. Then followed a scene unparalleled in the annals of coronations. The crowds in the galleries had beheld with envy the operations at the banquet. They were very hungry, and very thirsty, and seeing now that Westminster Hall was "liberty hall," they rushed down different stairs and passages, and attacked the viands and the wine. A raging thirst was the first thing to be satisfied, and in a few minutes every bottle on the table was emptied. A fresh supply was soon obtained from the cellarettes. When the ravening selfishness of the hungry crowd was satisfied, the gentlemen recovered their politeness, and began to think of the ladies. Groups of beautiful women then found their way to the tables, and every effort was made to afford them the refreshment of which they stood so much in need. In the meantime, the plunderers took advantage of the confusion to enrich themselves with trophies, breaking and destroying the table ornaments to obtain fragments of things too cumbrous to carry away. Thus, baskets, flowerpots, vases, and figures were everywhere disappearing, and these were followed by glasses, knives, forks, salt-spoons, and, finally, the plates and dishes. The last were engraved with the royal arms and the letters "Geo. IV.," and were therefore specially coveted as memorials. The dirty state of the articles, however, was rather out of keeping with the costly dresses; but the ladies and gentlemen got over the difficulty by wrapping up the articles in their pocket-handkerchiefs. Having thus secured all the spoils they could, they made all possible haste to their carriages. At a subsequent period, it was with the greatest difficulty that the royal plate could be kept from being carried away by the multitude outside when the barriers were removed.