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Soult, indeed, had sixty thousand men and ninety-one guns to deal with the flying and now greatly disorganised army of the British. At first the retreat had been made with much discipline and order, but the miserable weather, the torrents of rain, and heavy falls of snow, the roads rough with rocks, or deep with mud, tried the patience of the men. So long as they were advancing towards the enemy they could bear all this with cheerfulness, but the British are never good-humoured or patient under retreat. Sullen and murmuring, they struggled along in the[569] retreat, suffering not only from the weather, but from want of provisions, and the disgraceful indifference of the people to those who had come to fight their battles. Whenever a halt was made, and an order given to turn and charge the enemy, they instantly cheered up, forgot all their troubles, and were full of life and spirit. But their gloom returned with the retreat; and, not being voluntarily aided by the Spaniards, they broke the ranks, and helped themselves to food and wine wherever they could find them. Such was now the state of the weather and the roads, that many of the sick, and the women and children, who, in spite of orders, had been allowed to follow the army, perished. The French pressed more and more fiercely on the rear of the British, and several times Sir John was compelled to stop and repel them. On one of these occasions the French general, Colbert, was killed, and the six or eight squadrons of horse led by him were, for the most part, cut to pieces. At Lugo, on the 5th of January, Sir E. Paget beat back a very superior force. Again, on the 7th, Sir John Moore halted, and repulsed the advanced line of Soult, killing four or five hundred of the French. The next morning the armies met again in line of battle, but Soult did not attack; and as soon as it was dark Sir John quietly pursued his march, leaving his fires burning to deceive the enemy.

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION: COSTUME OF LADY OF THE PERIOD.

THE ENGLISH PLENIPOTENTIARIES INSULTED IN THE STREETS OF UTRECHT. (See p. 7.) WARREN HASTINGS. December 10th. January 11th.

HELIGOLAND.

The Minister still claimed the character of the landowner's friend; and in the House of Commons, out of 658 members, 125 was the utmost number that could be considered as Free Traders. But the progress of the League agitation this year was immense. Five years had elapsed since the Anti-Corn-Law Association in Manchester had put forth its humble appeal for five-shilling subscriptions, and now in one single year 50,000 had been given for the objects of the Association, and it was resolved to raise a further fund of 100,000. Mr. Bright had been returned for Durham in July, and already his touching appeals for justice for the people had struck the ear of the House. Like his fellow-labourers, Cobden, Colonel Thompson, George Wilson, W. J. Fox, M.P., and others, he had been busy in all parts of England, addressing audiences sometimes of 10,000 persons. The League speakers had also visited Scotland, and had been everywhere received enthusiastically. The great Free Trade Hall in Manchester was finished, and had been the scene of numerous gatherings and Free Trade banquets, at which 7,000 or 8,000 persons had sometimes sat down together. The metropolis, however, was still behind the great provincial cities in supporting the movement; and the League, therefore, resolved on holding a series of great meetings in Drury Lane Theatre, which was engaged for one night a week during Lent. The first of these important meetings was held on the 15th of March, and was attended by so large a number of persons that the pit, boxes, and even the higher gallery were filled immediately upon the opening of the doors. The succeeding meetings were no less crowded and enthusiastic. Attempts were made to obstruct these meetings, but without success. The use of Drury Lane Theatre had soon to be relinquished, the Earl of Glengall and the committee of shareholders having prohibited Mr. Macready, the lessee, from letting it for political purposes. The League were, in like manner, refused admittance to Exeter Hall; but they were soon enabled to obtain the use of Covent Garden Theatre, where they quickly prepared for a series of great meetings, which proved to be no less crowded and enthusiastic.

It is only too true, however, that many of the Hampden Clubs entertained very seditious ideas, and designs of seizing on the property of the leading individuals of their respective vicinities. Still more questionable were the doctrines of the Spenceans, or Spencean Philanthropists, a society of whom was established in London this year, and whose chief leaders were Spence, a Yorkshire schoolmaster, one Preston, a workman, Watson the elder, a surgeon, Watson the younger, his son, and Castles, who afterwards turned informer against them. Mr. "Orator" Hunt patronised them. They sought a common property in all land, and the destruction of all machinery. These people, with Hunt and Watson at their head, on the 2nd of December, met in Spa Fields. The Spenceans had arms concealed in a waggon, and a flag displayed declaring that the soldiers were their friends. The crowd was immense, and soon there was a cry to go and summon the Tower. Mr. Hunt and his party appear to have excused themselves from taking part in this mad movement. The mob reached the Tower, and a man, supposed to be Preston, summoned the sentinels to surrender, at which they only laughed. The mob then followed young Watson into the City, and ransacked the shop of Mr. Beckwith, a gunsmith, on Snow Hill, of its firearms. A gentleman in the shop remonstrated, and young Watson[122] fired at him and severely wounded him. Young Watson then made his escape, but his father was secured and imprisoned; and the Lord Mayor and Sir James Shaw dispersed the mob on Cornhill, and took one of their flags and several prisoners. Watson the elder was afterwards tried and acquitted; but a sailor who was concerned in the plunder of the gunsmith's shop was hanged. A week after this riot the Corporation of London presented an Address to the Throne, setting forth the urgent necessity for Parliamentary reform.

Soon shall thy arm, unconquered Steam! afar

Parliament having been prorogued, the members retired to their respective counties and boroughs, many of them out of humour with themselves and with the Government which they had heretofore[307] supported, and meditating revenge. An endeavour was made in the course of the summer to renew the political connection between the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Huskisson. The friends of the existing Administration felt the weakness of their position, deprived of their natural support, and liable to be outvoted at any time. The Tories had become perfectly rabid in their indignation, vehemently charging the Duke with violation of public faith, with want of statesmanship, with indifference to the wishes and necessities of the people, and with a determination to govern the country as if he were commanding an army. Their feelings were so excited that they joined in the Whig cry of Parliamentary Reform, and spoke of turning the bishops out of the House of Lords. It was to enable the Premier to brave this storm that he was induced by his friends to receive Mr. Huskisson at his country house. The Duke was personally civil, and even kind, to his visitor; but his recollections of the past were too strong to permit of his going farther. In the following Session negotiations were made with the other Canningites, but without success, as they had thrown in their lot with the Whigs.