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A History of England, Volume 3 (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): From the Conclusion of the Great War in 1815

A History of England, Volume 3 (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): From the Conclusion of the Great War in 1815

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A History of England, Volume 3 (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): From the Conclusion of the Great War in 1815

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May 24, 2011


This useful 1890 work recounts the history of England from the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815 to the peace of Paris in 1856, following the Crimean War. A balanced yet honest six-volume history, it is Walpole’s masterpiece. The third volume begins with a discussion of England’s foreign policy and the passing of the Reform Act in 1832; it closes with the fall of Lord Grey in 1834 and the dismissal of his Ministry.

May 24, 2011

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A History of England, Volume 3 (Barnes & Noble Digital Library) - Spencer Walpole


From the Conclusion of the Great War in 1815



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THE victory of Waterloo, and the arrangements which followed the battle, gave the great military nations of Europe nearly forty years of peace. The first-rate powers of the Continent were not again arrayed in arms against one another till an entire generation had passed away. The lesser powers, however, did not derive the same advantages from the negotiations which followed the victory. Whole nations were handed over to czar or king without any reference to their own feelings. Countries whose geographical position made their annexation impracticable were consigned to the rule or misrule of their hereditary sovereigns. The restoration of the Bourbons to France was followed by the restoration of the Bourbons to Spain and Naples. The illustrious diplomatists of the Continent were too deeply interested in maintaining the divine right of kings to ignore the claims of the minor potentates of Continental Europe.

There are few subjects which deserve more consideration from the world at large, and from Englishmen in particular, than the history of the decline and fall of Spain. Up to a certain point there is a striking similarity between the history of Spain and that of this country. Spain, like the United Kingdom, originally consisted of different states. The people of Castille and Aragon, on their union at the end of the fifteenth century, enjoyed greater liberties than the English or the Scotch had obtained at that time. The many admirable qualities which Isabella the Catholic possessed proved of the highest advantage to the kingdom which she was called upon to govern. Her policy in many respects resembled the course which, in a succeeding generation, was pursued by Elizabeth of England. Fortunately, however, for her subjects, Elizabeth inherited from her mother the Protestant principles of the Reformed Church. Unfortunately for Spain, Isabella was above all things a Catholic. Elizabeth's first object was the increase of the glory, of the wealth, of the worldly happiness of her people. Isabella's first object was the promotion of the Catholic religion. A country which was not Catholic could not in her judgment be happy. In consequence of this unfortunate belief, her naturally kind heart was impelled to the commission of the most merciless cruelties. Jew and Moor were relentlessly driven from the Peninsula, and free thought and free will effectually burned out by the fires of the Inquisition. Isabella's subjects imitated to a great extent the merciless bigotry of their monarch. In Elizabeth's reign the English sailor ventured into unknown seas for the sake of the wealth and glory which were certain to secure him welcome from his queen on his return. The Spaniard in Isabella's reign conquered vast territories for the sake of increasing the sway of the Pope of Rome.

The causes which produced the fall of Spain and the rise of England are to be traced in the reigns of Elizabeth and Isabella. Both queens left their countries in enjoyment of a material prosperity which they had never previously known; but the two queens were succeeded by very different personages. Twelve years after the death of Isabella, her grandson, Charles, the greatest general of his age, mounted her throne. Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, united in his person, engaged in a series of military expeditions, in which the Spanish infantry acquired reputation, but from which Spain derived neither wealth nor advantage. Half a century after her death, her great-grandson, Philip, imitating only too faithfully her own example, forced the Netherlands into revolt, and occupied a whole reign in a vain endeavour to recover a dominion which his folly and his bigotry had lost. The Spaniards forgot their privileges amidst the glories which Charles V. won for them; they forgot their own liberties in their determination to extirpate liberty from the Netherlands. England, on the contrary, was reserved for a different fate. King Elizabeth, as the elder Disraeli observes, was succeeded by Queen James. The worthless pedant was succeeded by his well-intentioned but misjudging son. The extravagance of the Stuarts made them dependent on the people. Selden, Hampden, Pym, and Eliot stood at bay against the court. The crown fell, and with the fall of the crown the liberties of the people were assured. Forty years, indeed, elapsed before the fruits of the Civil War were finally secured. The military government of Cromwell was, in some respects, more injurious to freedom than the illegal exactions of the two first Stuart kings. The restoration of Charles II. reproduced the illegalities of his father. But the time had gone when a bad sovereign could be allowed to curse the country permanently with arbitrary government. The Stuarts were driven out of the kingdom amidst the general execration of the nation; and Parliament, learning wisdom from experience, refused to repose unlimited trust in another sovereign. In changing a king, it remodelled a system, appropriating the sums which it granted to specific uses, and ensuring obedience to its decisions by auditing the expenditure.

Ever since the Revolution of 1688, England, secure in the enjoyment of the blessings of freedom, has prospered. Her wealth has been continually increasing; her dominion has been constantly extended; and, with a few exceptional occasions, her population has been acquiring fresh influence in her Government. Ever since the reign of Philip II., on the contrary, Spain has been deprived of social and religious freedom. Her empire has been gradually contracted; her trade has been constantly reduced; her population has been impoverished, her treasury emptied, and her influence annihilated. Spain, which, three centuries ago, was the most powerful among the nations of Europe, is one of the most impotent of them all.

A weak and languid Government controlled the fortunes of Spain in 1807. Godoï, the Prince of the Peace, exercised an almost boundless influence over the mind of his sovereign, Charles IV. Ferdinand, heir to the throne, dissatisfied at the favourite's power, entered into a secret intrigue with Napoleon, who readily took advantage of the divisions at the Spanish court. Under the pretext of partitioning the neighbouring kingdom of Portugal, he marched a strong force into the Peninsula, and seized some of the most important positions in the country. Charles IV. was urged to imitate the example of the neighbouring house of Braganza, and to withdraw to his colonial dominions in America. But the nation prevented the realisation of a scheme to which the weak king would probably have subscribed. The Prince of the Peace was arrested; Charles IV. was persuaded to abdicate, and Ferdinand mounted the throne.

Ferdinand was no better match for Napoleon than his weak and incompetent father. He was tricked to meet the emperor at Bayonne; and found himself, for all practical purposes, a prisoner. Charles was persuaded by the French to resume the power which he had formally laid down; with equal ease he was induced to renounce it in favour of Napoleon. Napoleon made his brother Joseph king of Spain; and, with characteristic energy, devised a new constitution for the unhappy country. Spain, for the moment stunned by the suddenness of the blow which had thus been inflicted on her, submitted to French dictation. But the calm which prevailed was only momentary. The people rose against the French; they achieved an important success at Baylen; they proved their constancy and their fortitude at Saragossa; and the struggle commenced which, in its ultimate results, proved as disastrous to Napoleon as the flames of Moscow or the frosts of Russia.

Ferdinand the Bourbon was restored to the throne of Spain; and no sovereign ever had a harder task before him than that to which he succeeded. A Cortes, nominally representing the kingdom, but in reality chosen by the few towns which, in 1812, had been free from the presence of the French, usurped the authority of the State. Its democratic views, its oppressive measures, offended the majority of the nation. Ferdinand was welcomed as the liberator of his country from its dictation. "Viva il re assoluto!" was the shout which was raised and reiterated as he approached. Impelled by the voice of the nation, deceived by the universal unpopularity of the Cortes, Ferdinand ventured to annul all its acts and to restore absolute government to Spain. The king, indeed, while abolishing the Cortes of 1812, promised to take immediate steps for convening a new one. But the burst of popularity which greeted him in the first instance, and the injudicious advice of the counsellors by whom he was surrounded, prevented him from fulfilling his promises. The new Cortes was not convoked, and the Inquisition in a moderate form was reconstituted.

The Spaniards had hailed with pleasure the dissolution of an assembly which had not fairly represented their country; they cheered to the echo the monarch who had the courage to dismiss it. But the dismissal of the Cortes was popular because it was regarded as an indispensable step towards the convocation of a new one. As soon as it was evident that the king's advisers were bent on the institution of arbitrary government, the unpopularity which had been concentrated on the Cortes descended on Ferdinand. Serious disturbances broke out in different parts of the country; and, though they were suppressed, the severity which attended their suppression increased the unpopularity of the new Government. Every fresh riot afforded the friends of arbitrary rule a new excuse for repressive measures; every fresh measure of repression afforded the friends of liberal administration a new excuse for rebellion. Absolutists and liberals, arrayed against each other, were driven to plot and counterplot; to obscure rebellion on the one side, and to unjustifiable severity on the other.

There was, however, one subject on which men of all parties were agreed. Every Spaniard was proud of the magnificent empire which Spanish valour had won for Spain in the New World. The Transatlantic dependencies of Spain exceeded in extent the enormous colonial empire which Britain has acquired. They were originally divided into two huge viceroyalties. The viceroyalty of Mexico comprised all the dominions of Spain in North America; the viceroyalty of Peru comprised all her possessions in South America. But as time wore on these huge viceroyalties were subdivided for the purposes of government. The viceroyalty of New Granada was carved out of the northern territory of Peru; the viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata was cut off from Peru on the south. Even these four viceroyalties proved too cumbrous for administration. The territory of Venezuela, on the north-east coast of South America; the territory of Chili, on the south-west coast of the same continent; the territory of Guatemala, the link between North and South America; the island of Cuba and the adjacent coasts of Florida; Porto Rico and the other West India islands belonging to Spain, were formed into separate captains-generalships. The magnificent Transatlantic possessions of Spain were thus placed under four viceroys and five captains-general.

It is impossible in a history of England to trace either the cause or the progress of the rebellion which led ultimately to the independence of South America. During the earlier years Spain was, on the whole, successful. Hidalgo, who had dared the authority of Spain in Mexico, was defeated and put to death. Miranda, who had been the first to raise the standard of revolt, and who had been the most powerful of the rebels, died. Bolivar, who succeeded Miranda, experienced an apparently decisive defeat. Revolutionary Juntas in Columbia and Buenos Ayres, however, still defied the authority of the mother country. In 1817 the Junta at Buenos Ayres sent an army into Chili, and in two victories drove the Spaniards from that colony. It was abundantly evident that the authority of Spain in the New World was again tottering to its fall, and that nothing but the most decisive measures could lead to its restoration.

Decisive measures could, however, be taken only with difficulty by the exhausted and divided country in which Ferdinand was asserting his absolute authority. Spain, in the days of her prosperity, had depended for her wealth on her Transatlantic possessions, and the rebellions of the last ten years had emptied her treasury and reduced her resources. A vast continent could not be reconquered without a considerable force, and Spain had neither ships nor money for equipping a great armament. In 1818 she was in a state of extreme exhaustion. Nothing I could say, wrote a British resident, could convey to you an adequate idea of the wretchedness, misery, want of credit, confidence, and trade, which exist from one end of the country to the other. The army is naked and unpaid; navy there is none; and the roads are covered with bands of forty or fifty robbers each.¹ In these circumstances, Spain was glad of the opportunity of disposing of a portion of her colonial empire to the United States. The sale of the Floridas was doubly advantageous to the Spanish Government. It provided Spain with a little ready money; it relieved her from a serious international difficulty. The northern boundary of Florida was separated from the southern boundary of the States by an imaginary line, which it was impossible to guard, and which it was easy to pass. The imaginary line was constantly passed and repassed by the aboriginal inhabitants of the district, the Seminole Indians. The Seminoles made a raid into the United States and retreated, when they were pursued, into the territory of Spain. As the authority of Spain had ceased to exist, the President of the United States claimed the right to pursue the enemy into Spanish territory, and ordered the United States troops to do so.²

A state of things, therefore, had obviously arisen which might at any moment have led to war. War was avoided by the sale of the Floridas to the United States for 5,000,000 dollars.³ The sale provided Spain with a little money, and left her free to deal with her insurgent provinces. Russia was readily prevailed upon to sell her some old frigates. Badly built originally of pitch-pine, worn out by long service, the crazy vessels were hardly equal to a voyage from the Baltic to Cadiz. It was impossible to despatch them across the Atlantic until they were repaired, and their repair necessarily occupied some months. In the interval the troops, which had been collected for the expedition in the Isle of Leon, became more and more discontented. Ill fed, ill clothed, ill paid, they murmured against the necessity of embarking on crazy vessels for a king whom they did not reverence, and in a cause which they did not understand. Their murmurs were so loud that they reached the ears of the authorities. O'Donnell, Count Abisbal, one of the most famous of Spanish generals, hastily collected a considerable force, and, surrounding the camp of the mutineers, awed them into obedience. Three thousand of them were embarked and despatched to America. These measures quelled the mutiny for a time, but the threatened outbreak proved fatal to the expedition. The Spanish Government, nervously afraid of every one, removed O'Donnell from his command. The advance guard of 3000 men carried the ships in which they sailed into Buenos Ayres and passed over to the insurgents. A serious outbreak of yellow fever at Cadiz compelled the Government to postpone the main expedition; and through the whole of 1819 no further steps were taken to quell the insurrection in South America.⁴

While, however, Spain relaxed her efforts to subdue her colonies, the insurgents freed themselves more and more from the control of the mother country. Their own efforts were gradually achieving their independence, and their own efforts were nobly seconded by volunteers from Britain. Englishmen have an instinctive hatred of autocratic government, and an instinctive desire to array themselves under any standard which may be raised in the name of freedom in any part of the world. The same feeling which, eleven years afterwards, led to the battle of Navarino, roused the nation to support the cause of South American independence in 1816.

England, moreover, was largely reducing her armaments. Large numbers of officers and men found themselves without employment and without any clear means of obtaining remunerative work. It was almost inevitable that these men, who were inured to war, should be ready to dispose of their services to any power prepared to engage them. Soon after the peace several British officers left this country to enter the service of the insurgents; the number became so considerable that the Government thought it necessary to notify that officers enlisting on foreign service without license would lose their half-pay. This step, however, had no effect. The disposition to enter the service of the insurgents was not checked. Soldiers were raised, regiments formed, uniforms of various descriptions prepared, and considerable bodies of men openly embarked for South America.⁵ A battalion was paid off at Chatham, and 300 men immediately enlisted in the service of the insurgents.⁶ The English did more than fill the ranks of the insurgents. Lord Cochrane, the eldest son of the Earl of Dundonald, was one of the most brilliant sailors in the British navy. In 1801, while in command of a little brig, manned by only fifty-four men and boys, and armed with only four small guns, he had attacked and taken the El Gamo, a Spanish frigate with 32 guns and 319 men. In 1809 he had been selected to command the fireships which, laden with combustibles, had thrown themselves on the French fleet in Basque Roads. Nelson himself had never displayed more skill and more daring than this brilliant officer. His exploits gave him great popularity among his fellow-countrymen. His advanced political opinions made him peculiarly acceptable to a large constituency, and Cochrane was elected member for Westminster. While he was member for Westminster the circumstance occurred which led to his expulsion from the House of Commons. A gentleman in French uniform suddenly arrived at Dover, announced the fall of Napoleon, and hurriedly posted to Lord Cochrane's house in London. The Funds rose; Lord Cochrane's uncle sold his stock, and made a large sum of money; and it was usually supposed that Lord Cochrane himself derived some advantage from the officer's visit to his house. He was indicted with others for a conspiracy to defraud, and was convicted. The severity of the sentence which Ellenborough passed on him caused the opinion of the public to react in his favour. The Government was compelled to remit the greater part of the punishment. Cochrane, though expelled from the House of Commons, was immediately re-elected by his constituents; and circumstances which would have tarnished the reputation of most men only increased the popularity of this brilliant officer.

Cochrane joined the insurgents in 1818. In November of that year he arrived at Valparaiso, and was made at once Vice-Admiral of Chili. The terror of his name caused the Spanish men-of-war to abandon the seas; his presence infused new life into the insurgents' cause, new vigour into their operations. The enthusiasm of the British nation for the insurgents was increased when the hero of the Basque Roads became their most prominent leader; and men gladly joined a service where Cochrane was in command, who would have hesitated to place themselves under the standard of Bolivar. Cochrane, however, had never been popular either at the Admiralty or on the Ministerial benches of the House of Commons. At the Admiralty he was regarded as a troublesome officer, opposed to mere routine, and in the habit of pressing his own claims and those of his subordinates with a heat which was inconvenient and distasteful to the officials. In the House of Commons he was considered as an intemperate politician, prepared to endorse the extreme views of the Radicals out of doors, and ready at any time to present their most offensive petitions. An enthusiastic Reformer of this description was not likely to be popular among the members of the Administration. His adherence to the insurgents was not calculated to make them sympathise with the cause of South American independence. But the ministry could under no circumstances have continued to ignore the armed expeditions which were continually leaving this country for South America. Two Acts, passed in the reign of George II., made it felony for any British subject to enter into the service of any foreign state. Under these Acts it would have been illegal for any British subject to have enlisted in the armies of the King of Spain. But the insurgent colonies of Spain had not been recognised as states. From the accident that they had not been so recognised the Acts of George II. did not apply to British subjects enlisting in their service. The ministry consequently proposed that it should be made illegal for a British subject to enter the service, not merely of a foreign king, prince, or potentate, but also of a colony or district who do assume the powers of a government. By another clause of the bill they forbade the fitting out of a vessel for the purposes of war.

It is difficult to see how any ministry could have avoided proposing some such measure as the Foreign Enlistment Act; But the Opposition was determined to resist it. Many of them sympathised with the colonists in their struggle with the mother country, and thought that the autocratic Government at Madrid had no right to demand any alteration of the laws in their own favour, especially as Spain had forfeited any claim to consideration by selling the Floridas to the United States. The historical records of England, said Mackintosh, afforded innumerable instances of British troops serving under foreign belligerents without subjecting themselves to any penalty. A Catholic regiment served in the Spanish service in Flanders under Lord Arundel of Wardour; a regiment of Scotch Catholics, commanded by the Earl of Home, entered the service of the King of France. In neither instance was any breach of neutrality supposed to have taken place. The celebrated Bynkershoek, president of the courts of Holland, denied that it was a breach of neutrality to allow a friendly belligerent to levy troops in your territory. Gustavus Adolphus had in his pay a band of six thousand men raised in Scotland and led by the Marquis of Hamilton. The Spanish and Imperial ambassadors were resident in London, but neither of them presumed to remonstrate. It was expressly laid down by Vattel that a nation did not commit a breach of neutrality by allowing its subjects to enter the service of one belligerent, and refusing the same permission with respect to another. There was one case more. In the reign of James I. a great body of English troops, commanded by Sir Horace Vere, served against the Spaniards, and received pay from a foreign power. Yet Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, dared not go so far as to require the boon which his Majesty's ministers now called on the House of Commons of England to have the condescension to grant. Mackintosh's speech made a profound impression on the House; but neither his learning nor his eloquence affected the issue. The Foreign Enlistment Act was passed through all its stages and became law.

The time was, however, gone when the sympathy of a foreign state could have restored the tottering authority of the Spanish monarchy. On the first day of February 1820, a military revolt broke out among the troops in Andalusia, in the extreme south-west of Spain. The mutineers placed themselves under the command of two energetic officers—Colonel Riego and Lieutenant-Colonel Quiroga—who found themselves at the head of a considerable force. Baffled, however, in an attempt on Cadiz, and receiving no active aid from the surrounding population, the mutiny seemed likely to terminate in failure. O'Donnell, the brother of the general who had suppressed the revolt of the previous year, drove Riego into the mountainous district of Ronda, in Granada. Quiroga with 4000 troops was shut up by General Freyre in the Isle of Leon. The rebellion in the South of Spain seemed on the point of being suppressed, when the news of it was slowly brought to Galicia, in the extreme northwest. The troops at Corunna and at Ferrol, animated by the news, threw off their allegiance and imitated the example which had been set them by Riego and Quiroga. The Government of Ferdinand was thrown into perplexity by these various rebellions; and a still more formidable defection completed the revolution. O'Donnell, Count Abisbal, had in the previous year restored the royal authority. The shabby treatment which he had experienced from Ferdinand probably rankled in his breast. Hastily leaving Madrid, he proclaimed the Constitution at Oçana. The troops immediately pronounced in his favour. Ferdinand, isolated by the defection, found himself unable to continue resistance. Making a virtue of necessity, he consented to summon the Cortes and to swear fidelity to the Constitution. The Cortes rapidly removed every trace of the autocratic Government of the preceding six years. New commercial regulations were adopted; the press was declared free; entails were abolished; all the convents and monasteries, except eight, were dissolved; and the revenues were ordered to be applied to the payment of the national debt.

These events, rapidly succeeding one another in Spain, made a profound impression on the people of other nations. But there were two countries to which the revolutionary movement in Spain was particularly liable to spread. Portugal was united to Spain by nature; Naples by the blood of her sovereign. The rebellion in Andalusia and the rebellion in Galicia had broken out in provinces which marched upon the northern and southern boundaries of Portugal; and Portugal happened to be in a condition which made it peculiarly susceptible to disaffection. Ever since 1807 Portugal had not known a court. On the first threat of French invasion the Regent had emigrated to the Brazils, and he had since lived and ruled entirely in the great Transatlantic colony. The ordinary conditions of other countries had been reversed. Portugal had virtually become a dependency of her own colony. The absence of the court was a sore trial to the pride of the Portuguese. An absent court had few supporters. It happened, too, that its ablest defender had lately left the country on a visit to Brazil. Marshal Beresford had made a great reputation in the Peninsula. His memorable stand at Albuera was properly regarded as one of the most brilliant achievements of the war; and his subsequent organisation of the Portuguese army, of which he still retained the command, made him one of the most powerful men in the country. Unfortunately, in April 1820, Beresford sailed for the Brazils. He did not return till the following October; and the revolution had been completed before his return. On the 24th of August the troops at Oporto determined on establishing a constitutional government, and appointed a provisional Junta with this object. The Regency which conducted the affairs of the country at Lisbon denounced the movement as a nefarious conspiracy. But, however nefarious the conspiracy might be, the defection of the army was so general that resistance became impossible. On the 1st of September the Regency issued a proclamation promising to convene the Cortes. The promise did not stop the progress of the insurrection. The Junta which had been constituted at Oporto marched at the head of the troops upon Lisbon. The troops at Lisbon and in the south of Portugal threw off their allegiance, and established a Junta of their own. The Junta at Lisbon was, for the moment, in favour of milder measures than the Junta of Oporto. But the advocates of the more extreme course won their ends. The Oporto troops, surrounding the two Juntas, which had been blended together, compelled them to adopt the Spanish constitution; in other words, to sanction the election of one deputy to the Cortes for every 30,000 persons inhabiting the country.

A rebellion more formidable even than that at Oporto occurred about the same time in Naples. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been united in 1735 under Charles III., son of the King of Spain. In 1759 Charles succeeded to the Spanish throne; and his third son thereupon became King of the Two Sicilies under the title of Ferdinand IV. Ferdinand, with Nelson's assistance, maintained his authority at Naples till 1806. The French entered Naples at the beginning of that year. Napoleon, in the first instance, placed his brother Joseph, and subsequently his brilliant lieutenant, Murat, on the throne; and Ferdinand was compelled to retire to the island of Sicily. The tragic events of 1815 effected his restoration. Ferdinand was re-established at Naples. Adversity, however, had not taught the old king wisdom. His government had been bad and tyrannical before 1806; it was bad and tyrannical after 1815.¹⁰ Oppressive taxation sowed the seeds of rebellion; and a secret organisation, whose origin had been recent, but whose growth had been rapid, afforded the requisite machinery for effecting a revolution. Some years before, a few discontented republicans had retired from Naples to the Abruzzi and Calabria. The trade of the district to which they thus migrated was charcoal burning, and from this circumstance they took the name of Carbonari, or charcoal-burners. Gradually acquiring strength and influence, their lodges ramified throughout Italy, till nearly 700,000 persons joined the society. In the eyes of autocracy the society was a secte ténébreuse dont les chefs secrets ne cessaient de méditer la destruction de tous les gouvernemens. Murat, bent on conquering all Italy, deigned to appeal to them. Ferdinand, restored by Austrian bayonets to his throne, did his best to neutralise them. The power of the Carbonari had either ceased or their activity had declined, when the news of the revolution in Spain threw fresh spirit into their counsels. The Neapolitan troops caught the infection. Early on the morning of the 2nd of July a cavalry regiment stationed at Nola raised a tricolour flag¹¹ and proclaimed the Constitution. The troops detached to quell the revolt made common cause with the rebels; the garrison of Naples deserted the royal cause; the regiments in the provinces imitated the example which had been set them at Nola; and the king, powerless from the defection of his army, promised to make known the bases of the Constitution within eight days.

The partial surrender of Ferdinand did not satisfy the army. The chiefs of the revolt insisted on the immediate proclamation of the Spanish Constitution. It was said that there was no copy of this Constitution at Naples; neither the king, his ministers, nor any Neapolitan had ever seen it; but the force of the revolutionary movement was so strong that the king had to give way. Within one week of the first revolt at Nola, without any bloodshed, the king was compelled to swear fidelity to the new order of things. In little more than a month a National Assembly completely reformed the institutions of Naples, and replaced the laws which had previously been in force with new statutes. These extraordinary events had been effected without bloodshed in Naples. But the revolution was not completed in Sicily without fighting. Sicily was ripe for revolt from a reason exactly opposite to that which influenced the Neapolitans. The Neapolitans were enraged at Ferdinand's presence among them; the inhabitants of Palermo were annoyed at the departure of the court. The news of the insurrection at Naples reached Palermo on the 14th of July. The populace on the following day rose, assaulted some forts, supplied themselves with the arms which they found in them, broke open the prisons, and liberated the prisoners. The troops endeavoured to restore order; but they were overpowered by the populace, and a provisional Junta was established to conduct the government. The Junta sent a deputation to Naples, but the Neapolitan Government declined to admit them into the town. Events at Palermo had gone so far that they threatened the separation of Sicily and the violent disruption of the kingdom. General William Pepe possessed the chief authority among the army in Naples. His brother was sent with 4000 men to control Palermo. Meeting with little resistance, he arrived before Palermo on the 25th of September. On the 5th of October the terms of capitulation were signed, and on the following day Pepe took possession of the town and proclaimed the Spanish Constitution.¹²

These successive revolutions in Spain, Naples, and Portugal excited consternation among the military empires of Europe. The events which have occurred in Spain, wrote Count Hardenberg to Lord Castlereagh, are full of danger for the peace of Europe. The example of an army making a revolution is infinitely deplorable.¹³ But, deplorable as the conduct of the Spanish army must have appeared to autocrats, dependent for their authority on their own armies, the revolutions in Portugal and Italy were much more serious. In Portugal the entire army had declared for the Constitution. In Naples a kingdom had crumbled before a handful of insurgents that half a battalion of good soldiers might have crushed in an instant.¹⁴ It seemed impossible to foresee where the revolution might extend. The military monarchs of the Continent were not disposed to sit quietly by and watch the progress of a flood which might ultimately overwhelm themselves. Five years before, at Paris, they had bound themselves in a Holy Alliance to be governed by Christian principles in all their political transactions, with a view to perpetuating the peace which they had achieved. The peace which they had achieved was rudely threatened by insurrections which, in their eyes, were unnatural and unchristian; and the time seemed, therefore, to have arrived for concerting measures of protection against states which had placed themselves in an attitude of hostility towards legitimate authority.¹⁵ The military despots of the Continent were unanimous in their desire to check such proceedings as those which had occurred in the Two Sicilies. But the monarchs of Europe felt an unequal interest in these events. A revolution at Naples constituted a comparatively remote danger to the Emperor of Russia or the King of Prussia; but Austria was peculiarly sensitive to any popular commotion in Italy. The arrangements of 1815 had given her a large territorial interest, and had made the Emperor of Austria the natural guardian and protector of public tranquillity in Italy. The emperor was firmly resolved to fulfil this important duty, and was prepared to use force, if other means were inadequate, for the purpose. Prince Metternich, however, the Austrian minister, was too cautious a diplomatist to assume the entire responsibility of quelling the revolt. He was at considerable pains to explain the policy of his court to the minor German states; he laboured to form a common understanding with the great powers of Europe; he persuaded them all to imitate the example of his own master, and to decline to receive an envoy from the Court of Naples; he invited the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia to meet the Emperor of Austria at Troppau for the purpose of arranging the measures which the crisis might require; and in the meanwhile he largely strengthened the force which Austria maintained in the northern provinces of Italy.¹⁶

The Congress at Troppau met at the end of October 1820. The Emperors of Austria and Russia attended it in person. The King of Prussia, who was unwell, was represented by Count Hardenberg. Castlereagh's brother, Lord Stewart, was present, but did not take any immediate part in the proceedings. The conference was short. The three powers were agreed in lamenting the revolutions which had occurred in Spain in March and in Naples in July, and the catastrophe in Portugal. They were agreed in thinking that the revolution in Naples, which was daily taking deeper root, was causing greater danger to the tranquillity of the neighbouring states than the troubles in Spain and Portugal, and that it was capable of being more easily quelled. They were agreed in refusing to recognise a Government which had been the result of open revolt; and, before resorting to more extreme measures, they were agreed in inviting the King of Sicily to meet them at Laybach. They expressed a hope that France and England would not refuse to join in a proceeding which was in perfect harmony with the treaties to which they had already consented, and which promised to lead to the most pacific and equitable arrangements.¹⁷

The King of France readily assented to the views of his brother potentates. The British Government, with the dread of the British Parliament before it, refrained from committing itself in any way to the proposal. A British squadron was, however, stationed off Naples; instructions were given to the officer in command of it to protect the king from any danger, and a man-of-war was placed at his disposal to convey him on his way to Laybach.¹⁸ The king himself was nervously anxious to escape from the difficulties of his situation. Ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of his nation, neither his advanced years nor the rigour of the season prevented him from accepting the invitation of the powers. He was prepared to promise that he would do his best to secure to his people the enjoyment of a Constitution which—so he declared—was as liberal as it was wise; and he left his son, the Duke of Calabria, whom he had already made his Vicar-General and alter ego, as Regent in his absence. The king probably imagined that these smooth sentences would reconcile his people to his absence. On the day after that on which he penned them the National Parliament told him that he could not go to Laybach except to defend the Constitution which he had deigned to acknowledge. The king, finding that the Parliament was firm, declared that he had never had any intention of violating the Constitution which he had sworn to maintain; and with this declaration was permitted to proceed to Laybach.¹⁹ On the 13th of December he embarked on board the Vengeur, an English man-of-war. An untoward accident, which in another age would have been regarded as ominous, interrupted his journey at the outset. Crossing on opposite tacks in a dark and squally night, the Vengeur fouled the Revolutionnaire, another English man-of-war; and both vessels, much disabled, were compelled to run for Baiæ.²⁰ The accident, however, did not cause any very serious delay. The Vengeur was able to proceed to Leghorn on the 15th of December; and the unhappy old monarch, leaving the sea, proceeded by land to meet his powerful brother potentates at Laybach.

The king on his arrival at Laybach found it impossible to fulfil his promise to his Parliament. His Majesty was told that the allied sovereigns were resolved to abolish a Constitution which a faction with neither title nor power had imposed on the kingdom of the Two Sicilies by the most criminal proceedings; that they regarded this Constitution as incompatible with the security of neighbouring states and with the peace of Europe; and that, if no other means were available for repealing it, they must have recourse to war. The king saw, or fancied that he saw, that it was hopeless to attempt to alter this resolution, and he was persuaded to write to the Regent to this effect, and to renounce the Constitution.²¹

The king, in his letter to the Regent, did not apparently think it necessary to explain that he had renounced at Laybach the Constitution which, at Naples, he had sworn to maintain. His reticence on this point did not, however, produce much inconvenience. The king's letter to the Regent was followed by explanatory circulars to the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian ministers at Naples. The first of these circulars contained an elaborate history of the proceedings at Laybach, and directed the ministers to explain to the Regent the calamities which would inevitably follow should he refuse to obey the paternal voice of his king. The second of them explained that the temporary occupation of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies by an armed force was judged indispensably necessary as a guarantee for the future.²² The invasion of Naples had, indeed, been already decided on. Throughout the autumn Austria had been steadily strengthening the forces which she maintained in her Italian provinces. Her army, at the commencement of February 1821, was instructed to advance.²³ His Imperial Majesty could not bring himself to suppose that any serious resistance would be made to his troops. None but the public enemies to the state or the incurable partisans of a ruinous system could misconstrue the duty imposed on every loyal soldier and every patriotic citizen.

In one respect the Emperor of Austria judged accurately. His army met with no resistance which was worth the name. Patriotic speeches were, indeed, made in the Neapolitan Cortes; patriotic laws were rapidly passed. The idea of submission was unanimously scouted, and resistance to the death was the watchword of every Neapolitan. Had the action of the Revolutionary Government been as valorous as its words, had its preparations been as complete as they appeared on paper, it is possible that the Austrian army might have met with unexpected difficulties. Acting at a great distance from the base of its operations, marching through a mountainous and inhospitable country, surrounded by a hostile and active population, its progress might have been impeded at every river which it crossed and at every pass through which it wound. The Neapolitans, however, mistook the bravery of words for the bravery of action. They talked of the levies which they had made and the levies which they had ordered; but these troops, if they ever existed except on paper, never reached the scene of active operations. Pepe, who had been the soul of the revolution, made a slight stand at Rieti on the 7th of March. After an indecisive skirmish his flank was turned, and he was compelled to retire. His men were not steady enough to conduct a retrograde movement. They fell into confusion and dispersed among the mountains. The Neapolitans did not attempt any further resistance to the Austrian arms. Within a fortnight of the skirmish at Rieti a convention was signed between the Austrian and Sicilian armies at Capua. The war had been commenced with protests that death was preferable to concession; it was concluded within the month by unqualified submission.²⁴

Austria, however, had not stamped out the seeds of revolution in Italy by occupying the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Piedmont was nearly connected with Naples. The King of Piedmont was married to a daughter of the King of Naples. The secret society which had its origin in the South had its branches in the North of Italy. For some months past the Neapolitans had been hoping that an insurrection in Piedmont would make a seasonable diversion in their own favour. Revolutionary views had made progress among the Piedmontese troops; and there was reason to hope that the Sardinian army might imitate the example which had been set them by the Neapolitan soldiery.

For some months, however, nothing was done. On the 10th of March, three days after the Austrian victory of Rieti, a portion of the garrison at Alessandria raised the tricolour, occupied the citadel, and proclaimed the Spanish Constitution. On Monday, the 12th, some students and citizens succeeded in entering the cathedral at Turin, and, mingling with the garrison, raised the cry of Viva la Constituzione di Spagna! The populace, seeing that the citadel was forced, joined in the shout, and persuaded the Prince de Carignano to mediate between the king and his people. The Prince complied; but the king, who was made of stouter stuff than his brother of the Two Sicilies, refused to give way. Powerless, however, to resist, on the following morning he abdicated his throne and proceeded to Nice. A provisional Junta was formed under the regency of the Prince de Carignano. But these events had hardly occurred before serious news reached the Piedmontese. The Neapolitan troops were scattered like sheep at the approach of the Austrians; the allied sovereigns were still sitting in congress at Laybach; an army was being hurriedly collected on the frontier of Piedmont. The revolution had never taken the deep root in Piedmont which it had gained in Naples. The people saw the departure of their king with regret; they looked towards the august congress at Laybach with consternation. On the 8th of April, Count Bubna, the Austrian commander-in-chief, crossed the Ticino and marched towards Vercelli. A brief and almost bloodless skirmish ensured him a victory. The provisional Junta was dissolved on the 9th of April. Count Bubna made his entrance into Alessandria on the 11th. The Austrians had gained an even easier victory in Piedmont than that which they had achieved in Naples. Revolution had been effectually crushed both in the north and in the south of the Italian peninsula; and armies of occupation, both in Piedmont and Naples, made any renewed attempts of a similar character impracticable.²⁵

The allied sovereigns watched these events from the council-chamber at Laybach. The complete success of the Austrian troops, however, made the continuance of their council unnecessary. The legitimate authority had been restored; the factions had been dispersed; the Neapolitan people had been delivered from the tyranny of those impudent impostors, who, deluding them with the dreams of false liberty, had in reality inflicted upon them the most bitter vexations. This important restoration had been completed by the counsels and the acts of the allied sovereigns. During the progress of these transactions the true character of that vast conspiracy which has so long existed against all established authority had been revealed. The leaders of this impious league, indifferent as to what may result from the general destruction they meditate, aim merely at the fundamental bases of society. The allied sovereigns could not fail to perceive that there was only one barrier to oppose to this devastating torrent. To preserve what is legally established—such was, as it ought to be, the invariable principle of their policy. Useful or necessary changes in legislation and in the administration of states ought only to emanate from the free-will and the intelligent and well-weighed conviction of those whom God has rendered responsible for power. Penetrated with this eternal truth, the sovereigns had met at Troppau, had adjourned to Laybach, and had crushed revolution in Naples and in Piedmont. Penetrated with this eternal truth, they communicated their sentiments to their representatives in every foreign court. Penetrated with this eternal truth, they returned to their own dominions to apply the great principles on which they had agreed. But their separation was to be only temporary. They had still to determine the period during which it might be necessary to continue the enforced occupation of the countries which they had crushed into submission, and thus to consolidate the tranquillity of the Peninsula. The same circular, therefore, which announced the close of the Congress stated that it would reassemble during the following year.²⁶

The proceedings of the allied sovereigns at Troppau and Laybach had made the true object of the Holy Alliance manifest for the first time. It had been authoritatively declared that useful or necessary changes in legislation and in the administration of states ought only to emanate from the free-will and the intelligent and well-weighed conviction of those whom God had rendered responsible for power. And the declaration had unfortunately been made by sovereigns who had both the will and the strength to apply it. No such prodigious blow had ever previously been struck at the struggling liberties of the civilised world. Nearly every useful or necessary change which had hitherto been made either in legislation or administration had been wrung from reluctant sovereigns by the perseverance of a determined people. The United Kingdom was the last country in Europe which would have consented to recognise the novel doctrine. Its whole history, from the days of the Great Charter to the defeat of the Government on the reform of the Criminal Laws, had been one eloquent protest against it. Unhappily, however, the people of this kingdom believed that the principle which the allied sovereigns had laid down was less distasteful to their ministers than to themselves. They thought that British ambassadors should not have been present either at Troppau or at Laybach; they thought that the British fleet should not have been stationed in the Bay of Naples while an Austrian army was marching southwards from the Po; and that the British ministry should not have contented themselves with cold declarations of neutrality, but should have energetically protested against the interference of the allied sovereigns in the internal affairs of an independent and friendly kingdom.

The language, indeed, which Castlereagh held in public was tolerably satisfactory. The circular of the allied sovereigns from Troppau was issued on the 8th of December 1820. Castlereagh replied to it on the 19th of January 1821. He should not have felt it necessary, he began his reply by stating, to have made any communication to the British representatives at foreign courts, had it not been for a circular communication addressed by the Courts of Austria, Prussia, and Russia to their several missions, which, if not adverted to, might convey very erroneous impressions of the past as well as of the present sentiments of the British Government. It had become, therefore, necessary to state that the system of measures proposed by the allied powers was in direct repugnance to the fundamental laws of the United Kingdom. But, even if this decisive objection did not exist, the British Government would, nevertheless, regard the principles on which these measures rest to be such as could not be safely admitted as a system of international law. Their adoption would inevitably sanction, and, in the hands of less beneficent monarchs, might hereafter lead to a much more frequent and extensive interference in the internal transactions of states than they are persuaded is intended. With respect to the particular case of Naples, the British Government did not hesitate to express their strong disapprobation of the mode and circumstances under which that revolution was understood to have been effected; but they, at the same time, expressly declared to the several allied courts that they should not consider themselves called upon or justified to advise an interference on the part of this country. They fully admitted, however, that other European states might feel themselves differently circumstanced; and they professed that it was not their purpose to interfere with the course which such states might think fit to adopt with a view to their security; provided only that they were ready to give every reasonable assurance that their views were not directed to purposes of aggrandisement subversive of the territorial system of Europe as established by the late treaties.²⁷

A mild protest of this character would not, in any circumstances, have stopped the march of the Austrian troops across the Po. But the country thought the protest, mild as it was, the least unsatisfactory feature in the conduct of the ministry. It was observed that the British ministry had waited

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