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salient events of this great Peninsular War are the victories of Fuentes de Oñoro (May 3, 1811) and Albuera (won by marshal Beresford May 15); the taking of Ciudad Rodrigo (Jan. 19, 1812), which made Wellington a Spanish duke and an English earl; the horrible storming of Badajoz (April 6); his decisive victory over Marmont at SALAMANCA (July 2), followed by the occupation of Madrid ; his advance to Burgos, and retreat thence to Ciudad Rodrigo for the winter; his final advance in the next spring, crowned by the decisive victory over king Joseph and marshal Jourdan at VITTORIA (June 21, 1813); the occupation of the passes of the Pyrenees (July); the taking of St. Sebastian (Aug. 31) and Pampluna (Oct. 31); the entrance on French soil, and forcing of the position of the Nivelle (Nov. 10), after which Soult, who had bravely defended the frontier, went into winter quarters at Bayonne.
In England, meanwhile, George III. finally succumbed to bis mental malady in 1810, and the prince of Wales governed as REGENT during the nine last years of his father's reign (Jan. 1811-Jan. 1820). Mr. Perceval was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons by one Bellingham, whose petitions had been rejected (May 11, 1812); and lord LIVERPOOL became premier, with lord Castlereagh as foreign secretary, and Mr. VANSITTART (afterwards lord Bexley) as chancellor of the exchequer. Just at this time the United States declared war against Great Britain in consequence of various commercial and maritime disputes. An attack on Canada was repulsed, but our over-confidence on the sea led to the capture of several frigates by stronger American cruisers.
It was now that Napoleon undertook his gigantic expedition to chastise Russia for resistance to his Berlin and Milan decrees. He set in motion the vast forces of his empire, with those of Germany and Austria, over a base which stretched from the Baltic to the Alps; and, after gaining the battle of BORODINO, he reached Moscow, Sept. 15, 1812. But Alexander refused to treat; the winter set in early; and finally the conflagration of Moscow forced Napoleon to that awful retreat in which, pursued by winter and the Cossatks, he left nearly HALF A MILLION of men dead upon the route. He himself hurried from Smolensko to Paris to prepare for one last effort; and he fought the campaign of 1813 in Germany, against the combined armies of all Europe, till he lost the decisive BATTLE OF LEIPZIG (Oct. 16-18, 1813). Still he rejected even the offer of the frontier of the Rhine and the Alps; and after a campaign in France, which is reckoned among the most skilful that Napoleon ever made, the vast armies of the allied sovereigns put them in possession of Paris. Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau (April 11, 1814), and retired to Elba, retaining his imperial title,
while Louis XVIII., brother of Louis XVI., was proclaimed king. His first act was to sign the Peace of Paris (May 30), by which England, after all her conquests and expenses, gained little more than Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Ceylon, and a few islands in the West Indies. Hanover was made a kingdom, with succession in the male line. During these events lord Wellington had renewed the campaign against Soult (Feb. 1814), who lost the battle of TOULOUSE on Easter Sunday (April 10). A convention was signed on the 18th; and, after the conclusion of the Peace of Paris, Wellington went to Madrid, and tried to reconcile the Spaniards to their restored king, Ferdinand VII. Thence he returned home to receive fresh honours. He was created DUKE OF WELLINGTON ; and, in addition to former grants, 500,0001. were voted for the purchase of an estate, which is held by a tenure similar to Blenheim (See p. 265). In the rejoicings which followed, the duke divided the applauses of the people with the prince Regent and his guests, the emperor of Russia and the king of Prussia.
Many of the veterans of the Peninsula were sent to reinforce our armies in America, where two more attempts on Canada had failed (1813 and 1814); and our navy had regained its prestige. One most brilliant action was the capture of the frigate Chesapeake by captain BROKE of the Shannon in fifteen minutes, off Boston harbour (June 1, 1813). On Aug. 15, 1814, general Ross took Washington, and barbarously burnt the Capitol and other public buildings, besides the arsenal and dockyards. He was repulsed and killed in an attack on Baltimore, and a still more disastrous defeat was suffered at New Orleans in December. This unnatural war was concluded by the Peace of Ghent (Dec. 24, 1814).
The congress of European powers, which assembled at Vienna in January 1815, was startled by the news that Napoleon had escaped from Elba and landed at Cannes in the south of France (March 1, 1815). They voted him a public enemy, and agreed to put him down with all their forces. In the mean time he advanced on Paris, welcomed by all the troops that were sent to take him, and entered the Tuileries on April 20, whence Louis XVIII. had fled to Lille the night before. His reception was cold, except from the soldiers, and he soon raised six armies to meet the allies, who were advancing on all sides with 1,000,000 of armed men. The post of honour was held in Belgium by the English and Prussians under Wellington and Blücher; and against them Napoleon hastened at the head of his veteran troops. He crossed the frontier on June 14th, by Charleroi, and engaged the allies on the 16th, with a view to separate them and advance to Brussels. Blücher was defeated at Ligny, and thrown off, as Napoleon supposed, to
the right, pursued by Grouchy; but on his left Ney failed to dislodge the English from Quatre Bras; and Wellington, after arranging with Blücher for a new junction on the field of the approaching battle, fell back on the 17th to a position which he had long marked and caused to be surveyed, and which is said to have attracted the notice also of Marlborough, on the ridge of Mont St. Jean, in front of WATERLOO. Napoleon took up his position on the opposite ridge of La Belle Alliance; and here, on Sunday, June 18th, 1815, was fought one of the most obstinate and decisive battles of all history. Napoleon had about 78,000 men, and Wellington 72,720; but the emperor was vastly superior in artillery, and he commanded his own veteran troops, while only half of Wellington's were British, most of them raw recruits ; and the rest were Hanoverians, Dutch, and Belgians, some disaffected, and some cowards who fled at the first volley. But the Duke's iron will maintained the position against Napoleon's fiercest efforts, while the Prussians strained every nerve to reach the field. Leaving his rear engaged with Grouchy at Wavre, Blücher made a cross march against Napoleon's right, which his van began to threaten early in the afternoon, and he arrived in force upon the field just as the column of French guards had reeled back broken from their last attempt to charge, and Wellington had given the signal for the advance of his whole line. It was about seven o'clock when Napoleon exclaimed Sauve qui peut, and rode off the field to Charleroi. The Prussians took up the pursuit throughout the night; while Wellington returned, after meeting Blücher, to his quarters at Waterloo, and recorded in one of his letters the conviction that “no amount of glory could compensate for the losses of such a day :" a use of the word glory even more significant than its supposed absence from his despatches. The loss of the French from the 16th to the 18th was about 30,000; and that of the allies 15,000.
Napoleon reached Paris on the 21st; and, after a brief struggle with the Chambers, he abdicated in favour of his son, Napoleon II., and fled to Rochefort, intending to embark for America (June 29). Thus ended the HUNDRED Days of his second empire (March 21 -June 29). Louis XVIII. re-entered Parison July 8; and Napoleon, after writing to the prince regent that “he came, like Themistocles, to throw himself on the hospitality of the British people," embarked for England on board the Bellerophon (July 15). By the decision of the allies, he was conveyed to the island of St. Helena, where he died on May 5, 1821. A new Peace of Paris was signed by the allies, Nov. 20. The affairs of Europe were regulated by the Congress of Vienna, which parcelled out kingdoms regardless of the wishes of their inhabitants ; and a second congress,
at Aix-la-Chapelle, arranged for the withdrawal of the allied troops from France (Sept. 1818). The duke of Wellington, who had remained as generalissimo, returned home in November. The war had raised the English national debt from a little less than 228 millions to nearly 800 millions, involving an annual charge of 28 millions. In 1816 the piracy of the Algerines was suppressed by sir Edward Pellew (lord EXMOUTH), who bombarded Algiers (Aug. 27), and compelled the Dey to release 1083 Christian slaves.
The war was succeeded by much distress and discontent. Trade languished, and the high price of bread was aggravated by the mistaken policy of a corn-law, closing the ports till the price of wheat reached 80s. a quarter. The prohibition was afterwards modified by a sliding-scale, lowering the duty with the rise of the price (1829). The reform agitation was renewed, with its adjuncts of political clubs, mob orators, and government prosecutions. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in 1817, on account of an attack on the prince regent as he returned from opening parliament. A reform meeting at Manchester, in Aug. 1819, at which the yeomanry were called out and some lives lost, was long remembered as “ the Peterloo Massacre.” Amidst the general alarm the home secretary, lord Sidmouth (formerly Mr. Addington), carried the “ Six Acts" for suppressing seditious meetings and writings and the use of arms. A more wholesome measure was the act passed by Mr. Secretary (afterwards sir Robert) PEEL, for the resumption of cash payments and the regulation of the currency (1819).
The unhappy death of sir SAMUEL ROMILLY, by his own hand, deprived the country of a leader in the reform of the criminal law; but the work of its mitigation was steadily carried on from this time, against much opposition from lords Eldon and Ellenborough.
The last years of George III. were clouded with mournful events in the royal family, in addition to the king's continued illness. The princess CHARLOTTE, only daughter of the prince regent, formed a marriage of affection with prince LEOPOLD, of Saxe-Coburg, now king of the Belgians (May 16, 1816); and, on Nov. 6, 1817, she died in childbirth, amidst a grief even more intense than that we have lately witnessed. Marriages were now contracted by the dukes of Clarence, Kent, Cumberland, and Cambridge. The duke of Kent espoused the princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, who gave birth to our present queen, May 24, 1819; but the duke died on Jan. 23, 1820. In less than a week he was followed to the tomb by his father, George III., who expired Jan. 29, 1820, in the 82nd year of his age and the 60th of his reign; the longest in our annals. Queen Charlotte had already died in November 1818.
The reigns of the first and third sons of George III. may be regarded as a period of transition, during which the great political questions that had been postponed by the war received their solution. The accession of the prince regent to the throne as GEORGE IV. (1820-1830) involved little more than a change of title. He was in his 58th year, having been born Aug. 12, 1762. His accomplished manners had gained him the character of the “first gentleman in Europe," and he was a patron of literature and art. But he was vain, selfish, and insincere. His nature, originally amiable, had been spoilt by a life of dissipation. His domestic relations were most unhappy. In 1795, he was forced, as a condition of the payment of his debts, to abandon Mrs. Fitzherbert, and to marry the princess CAROLINE of Brunswick, to whom he took a deep disgust. After the birth of the princess Charlotte (Jan. 7, 1796), they separated, and the princess of Wales lived abroad, giving colour by her imprudence to charges against her chastity. On her