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These disorders appealed with irresistible force to the Government and the legislature to put an end to a system fraught with so much evil, and threatening the utter disruption of society in Ireland. In the first place, something must be done to meet the wants of the destitute clergy and their families. Accordingly, Mr. Stanley brought in a Bill in May, 1832, authorising the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to advance 60,000 as a fund for the payment of the clergy, who were unable to collect their tithes for the year 1831. This measure was designed to meet the existing necessity, and was only a preliminary to the promised settlement of the tithe question. It was therefore passed quickly through both Houses, and became law on the 1st of June. But the money thus advanced was not placed on the Consolidated Fund. The Government took upon itself the collection of the arrears of tithes and to reimburse itself for its advances out of the sum that it succeeded in recovering. It was a maxim with Mr. Stanley that the people should be made to respect the law; that they should not be allowed to trample upon it with impunity. The odious task thus assumed produced a state of unparalleled excitement. The people were driven to frenzy, instead of being frightened by the Chief Secretary becoming tithe-collector-general, and the army employed in its collection. The first proceeding of the Government to recover the tithes under the Act of the 1st of June was, therefore, the signal for general war. Bonfires blazed upon the hills, the rallying sounds of horns were heard along the valleys, and the mustering tread of thousands upon the roads, hurrying to the scene of a seizure or an auction. It was a bloody campaign; there was considerable loss of life, and the Church and the Government thus became more obnoxious to the people than ever. Mr. Stanley being the commander-in-chief on one side, and O'Connell on the other, the contest was embittered by their personal antipathies. It was found that the amount of the arrears for the year 1831 was 104,285, and that the whole amount which the Government was able to levy, after putting forward its strength in every possible way, was 12,000, the cost of collection being 15,000, so that the Government was not able to raise as much money as would pay the expenses of the campaign. This was how Mr. Stanley illustrated his favourite sentiment that the people should be made to respect the law. But the Liberal party among the Protestants fully sympathised with the anti-tithe recusants.

When Parliament opened on the 20th of January, 1778, the Opposition fell, as it were, in a mass upon the Ministry on this question. There was much dissatisfaction expressed at the Government allowing Liverpool, Manchester, and other places, to raise troops without consulting Parliament. It was declared to be a practice contrary to the Constitution and to the Coronation Oath. Sir Philip Jennings Clerke, on the 22nd of January, moved for an account of the numbers of troops so raised, with the names of the commanding officers. Lord North, whilst observing that this mode of raising troops showed the[249] popularity of the war, and that the country was by no means in that helpless condition which a jealous and impatient faction represented it to be, readily granted the return. In the House of Lords the Earl of Abingdon moved to consult the judges on the legality of raising troops without authority of Parliament; but this motion was not pressed to a division. But, on the 4th of February, Sir Philip Jennings Clerke returned to his charge in the Commons. Lord North replied that this now hotly-decried practice was one which had been not only adopted, but highly approved of, in 1745, and again in 1759, when Lord Chatham was Minister, and that he had then thanked publicly those who had raised the troops for the honour and glory of their country. A motion was negatived by the Lords on the same day, to declare this practice unconstitutional, and a similar one later in the Session, introduced by Wilkes and supported by Burke.


Early in this year Admiral Sir John Jervis fell in with the great Spanish fleet, which was intended to co-operate with the French in the invasion of Ireland, and defeated it. Nelson had predicted that the Spanish fleet would not take much destroying. Admiral de Langara had had a fortunate escape in the Mediterranean, in venturing to Corsica. He had now been superseded by Don Juan de Cordova, and Jervis, on the 14th of February, met with him off Cape St. Vincent. Cordova had twenty-seven sail of the line, Jervis only fifteen; but he had Nelson in his fleet, which more than counterbalanced the inequality of numbers; and the discipline on board the Spanish ships was far below that of the British. Nelson broke through the Spanish line, and chiefly by his exertions and man?uvres four of the largest vessels were taken, including one of one hundred and twelve guns. The rest escaped into Cadiz, and there the British blockaded them. The news of this brilliant victory arrived in London when the public was greatly dispirited by the exhausted state of the Bank of England, and helped to revive confidence. Sir John Jervis was made Earl of St. Vincent, and Nelson, the real hero, a Knight of the Bath. The approaching marriage of the Queen was anticipated by the nation with satisfaction. We have seen, from the height to which party spirit ran, that it was extremely desirable that she should have a husband to stand between her and such unmanly attacks as those of Mr. Bradshaw. An occurrence, however, took place in the early part of the year very painful in its nature, which added much to the unpopularity of the Court. This was the cruel suspicion which was cast upon Lady Flora Hastings by some of the ladies about the Queen, and is supposed to have caused her early death. She was one of the ladies in attendance on the Duchess of Kent; and soon after her arrival at Court it was generally surmised, from the appearance of her person, that she had been privately married, the consequence of which was that, in order to clear her character, which was perfectly blameless, she was compelled to submit to the humiliation of a medical examination. Shortly afterwards she died of the disease which was suspected to be pregnancy, and the public feeling was intensified by the publication of the acrimonious correspondence which had taken place between her mother on the one side and Lady Portman and Lord Melbourne on the other.

Sir Arthur knew that at least one hundred thousand French were on the march to take him at once in flank and front; that Soult was advancing from Salamanca, Mortier from Valladolid; and, besideswhich he did not knowNey was en route from Astorga. He must, therefore, retreat at once or fight, and the enemy saved him the trouble of deciding. King Joseph, afraid of Sir Robert Wilson being joined by General Venegas, who had shown himself on the road towards Aranjuez, and of then falling on Madrid, ordered Victor to attack Wellesley at once, without waiting for any further reinforcements. Accordingly, Sir Arthur was attacked by Victor in front of Talavera. He had placed Cuesta and his Spaniards on his right, abutting on the Tagus, and protected by old enclosure walls and olive gardens; and his own troops on the left, on the open plain. The attack began on the evening of the 27th of July, on the outposts, which gradually fell back, and the battle was renewed the next day. The position of the Spaniards being found unapproachable, the whole fury of the French fell on the British, and the contest was kept up till it was pitch dark.[577] About midnight there was a tremendous firing on the Spanish side, and Sir Arthur rode there to ascertain the cause. No cause was visible, but the Spaniards were flying in great haste, and it was with difficulty that he and Cuesta could stop the rout. Next day the British line was attacked on all points by the troops of both Victor and Sebastiani, but they were repelled, and driven down the hills at the point of the bayonet. At one time the British centre was driven in, but it was re-established by the 48th, while the 23rd Dragoons, by a reckless charge, paralysed a whole division of the French army. In the words of Sir Arthur, the British everywhere maintained their positions gloriously, and gave the French a terrible beating. Out of the fifty thousand pitched against the less than twenty thousand Britishfor the Spanish were scarcely engaged at allthey lost in killed and wounded seven thousand men. General Lapisse was killed, and many prisoners were taken, besides seventeen pieces of artillery, with tumbrils and ammunition complete. The British lost eight hundred and fifty-seven killed, and had three thousand nine hundred and thirteen wounded. Major-General Mackenzie and Brigadier-General Langworth were killed.