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The army set out in successive divisions, and by different routes, in consequence of the exhausted state of the country, which had been stripped by the French as by an army of locusts. The roads were intolerable, and the weather was vile. Wading through mud, and dragging their artillery through bogs and sloughs, they struggled on to Castello Branco, which the first division reached on the 4th of December. By the 11th Sir John had crossed the Portuguese frontier, and entered Ciudad Rodrigo. There he was received with great demonstrations of joy; and on the 13th he arrived at Salamanca. Here he had to remain for the coming up of his artillery, which, under a guard of three thousand foot and one thousand horse, had been conducted, by Sir John Hope, round by Elvas, as the only road, according to the Portuguese, by which heavy cannon could be conveyed. This was a proof of the great need of those arrangements so strongly urged by Sir Arthur Wellesley. Proper inquiries, through proper officers, would have ascertained beforehand the actual state of the roads and passes. Here Sir John, too, had to wait for Sir David Baird's detachment, which had arrived at Corunna on the 13th of October, but had found the greatest difficulty in being allowed to land and proceed. This was refused by the junta of Galicia, out of that ignorant and inflated pride of the Spaniards, which persuaded them that, because they had compelled Dupont to surrender, they could drive the French out of their country without any assistance of the British, whom they regarded not as saviours, but as intruders. Whilst application was made to the Central Junta, at Madrid, for the troops to land, they had to remain for a fortnight cooped up in the transports. There was still another hindrance, which the sound sense and foresight of Wellesley would not have permitted. Though the British Government had forwarded to Spain two hundred thousand muskets, with all requisite ammunition, and sixteen millions of hard dollars, Sir John Moore was entrusted with only twenty-five thousand pounds of it, and Sir David Baird with none at all. When, therefore, permission was obtained, from Madrid, for the Allies, who were bringing them all the arms and all the material of war, to land, Baird had no money to pay his way on the march with ten thousand men, and Sir John Moore had to remit him eight thousand pounds. This was sufficiently bad management, but this[564] was far from the worst. Sir John Moore, in the most critical circumstances, was left without the necessary information regarding the real strength of the enemy, and without the influence which the British Ambassador should have exerted to have the army supplied with the necessary means of conveyance for its baggage, ammunition, and artillery. The Spaniards obstructed rather than helped the British army. They did not know themselves that the French were pouring reinforcements through the Pyrenees to the amount of seventy thousand men, soon to be followed by Buonaparte himself. The British Ambassador, at such a time, ought to have taken measures for knowing the truth; but the Ambassador was, just at this moment, the most unfit person that could possibly have been pitched upon. Sir Charles Stewart, who had been for some time Ambassador at Madrid, was well acquainted with the Spaniards, and had energy and intelligence enough to have operated upon them. But as, with new changes of Ministry, everything must be changed by the British Government, even if it be for the worse, so here, not only had the generals been changed three times in four-and-twenty hours, but the active and well-informed Minister was withdrawn, and a most indolent and useless man sent in his place. This was Mr. John Hookham Frere, great in the Quarterly Review, and connected with Canning and his party. He either sent Sir John no information as to the state and position of the Spanish armies or of the advance and numbers of the French, or he sent him erroneous intelligence. Lord William Bentinck, who was in Spain, exerted himself to rouse the Spanish Junta to a proper sense of their real position, and of the necessity for affording the British army, which had come to assist them, all the information and support that they could; and he himself sent word that the French were crossing not merely the Pyrenees, but the Ebro. At length, a dispatch to Marshal Jourdain, being accidentally intercepted by a guerilla party on the frontiers, startled the Junta with the news that immense bodies of French were advancing into Spain; and they began to appreciate the value of their British allies, but would do nothing to facilitate their march, or to direct them to the quarter where they would be most useful; and Frere, who should have stimulated them to a sense of their duty, did just nothing at all.

On the 28th of March the Ministry, as completed, was announced in the House, and the writs for the re-elections having been issued, the House adjourned for the Easter holidays, and on the 8th of April met for business. The first affairs which engaged the attention of the new Administration were those of Ireland. We have already seen that, in 1778, the Irish, encouraged by the events in North America, and by Lord North's conciliatory proposals to Congress, appealed to the British Government for the removal of unjust restrictions from themselves, and how free trade was granted them in 1780. These concessions were received in Ireland with testimonies of loud approbation and professions of loyalty; but they only encouraged the patriot party to fresh demands. These were for the repeal of the two obnoxious Acts which conferred the legislative supremacy regarding Irish affairs on England. These Acts werefirst, Poynings' Act, so called from Sir Edward Poynings, and passed in the reign of Henry VII., which gave to the English Privy Council the right to see, alter, or suppress any Bill before the Irish Parliament, money Bills excepted; the second was an Act of George I., which asserted in the strongest terms the right of the king, Lords, and Commons of England to legislate for Ireland. [See larger version]

The next month Pitt despatched a smaller fleet and force to destroy the port of Cherbourg, which the French had constructed under Cardinal Fleury, and, as they stated by an inscription, "for all eternity." This time the command was given to General Bligh. Howe was admiral, and on board with him went Prince Edward, afterwards Duke of York. On the 8th of August the troops were landed at Cherbourg, which was[131] deserted by the garrison, and they destroyed the forts and harbour, demolished a hundred and seventy pieces of iron cannon, and carried off twenty-two fine brass ones. After re-embarking and returning to Portsmouth, Bligh was ordered to pay another visit to St. Malo, but still found it too strong for him; yet he landed his men in the bay of St. Lunaire, about two leagues westward of St. Malo; and the weather immediately driving Howe to sea, the army was marched overland to St. Cast, some leagues off. The soldiers were allowed to rove about and plunder, till Bligh heard that the Duke of Aiguillon was advancing against them at the head of a strong force. Bligh then, but in no hurry, marched for the port of St. Cast, followed by Aiguillon, who waited till he had embarked all but one thousand five hundred men, when he fell upon them, and slaughtered a thousand of them in a hollow way amongst the rocks leading down to the shore.

"But perhaps it might be possible to get a Bill passed to disfranchise the Irish forty-shilling freeholdersa class of voters who, as they had been created for acknowledged purposes of corruption in the Irish Parliament, would have nobody to stand up for them in high places, now that they refused to play their patrons' game. This was quite as improbable an issue as the other. The disfranchisement of forty-shilling freeholders had, indeed, been talked of in former years; but, if effected at all, it was to be in connection with a measure of Catholic Emancipation. To propose it now for the avowed purpose of rendering Catholic Emancipation impossible would be to insure the rejection of the Bill. That plan, therefore, fell at once to the ground; and there remained but two others.

Amongst the fine arts, the first to which we direct attention, that is, music, was warmly patronised by the Royal Family, and therefore maintained the status which it had acquired in the last reign, though it produced no great original genius. Church music continued to be cultivated, and the anthems of Kent, published in 1773, and those of Nares, published in 1778, were of much merit. To these we may add the services and anthems of Doctors Hayes, Dupuis, Arnold, Cooke, Ayrton, and of Mr. Battishill. The "Shunamite Woman," an oratorio by Arnold, appeared at a later date, as well as the anthems and services of Dr. Whitfield.

Anne prorogued Parliament on the 16th of July in a speech, in which she felicitated herself on having closed a long and bloody war, which she had inherited, and not occasioned. She trusted also that before the meeting of the next Parliament the commercial interests of France and England would be better understood, so that there would be no longer any obstacle to a good commercial treaty. She said not a word regarding the Pretender, so that it was felt by the Whigs that she had followed the dictates of nature rather than of party in regard to him. On the 8th of August she dissolved Parliament by proclamation, its triennial term having expired. Burnet says it had acquired the name of the Pacific Parliament; and he winds up his[12] own history with the remark that "no assembly but one composed as this was could have sat quiet under such a peace." There was every effort made, however, to impress on the constituencies the high merit of the Parliament in making an advantageous and glorious peace, medals being cast for that purpose bearing the effigy of the queen and a Latin motto laudatory of peace.