The garrison of Gibraltar was all this time hard pressed by the Spaniards. Florida Blanca had made a convention with the Emperor of Morocco to refuse the English any supplies; those thrown in by Rodney the year before were nearly exhausted, and they were reduced to grave straits. Admiral Darby was commissioned to convoy one hundred vessels laden with provisions, and to force a way for them into the garrison. Darby not only readily executed his commission, to the great joy of the poor soldiers, but he blockaded the huge Spanish fleet under Admiral Cordova, in the harbour of Cadiz, whilst the stores were landing. Notwithstanding the hopes which might have been fairly entertained that the measure of Reform would have been rendered complete throughout the kingdom, a considerable time elapsed before its benefits were extended to the sister country; and a large amount of persevering exertion was required before a measure for the purpose was carried through Parliament, although its necessity was unquestionable. This arose from certain difficulties which it was not found easy to overcome, so as to meet the views, or, at least, to secure the acquiescence, of the various parties in the House. And hence it happened that it was not until 1840 that an Act was passed for the regulation of municipal corporations in Ireland, after repeated struggles which had to be renewed from year to year, and the question was at length only settled by a sort of compromise. On the 7th of February, 1837, Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in the Irish Municipal Bill, which was passed by a majority of 55; but the consideration of it was adjourned in the Peers till it was seen what course Ministers were to adopt with regard to the Irish Tithe Bill. Early in 1838 the Bill was again introduced, when Sir Robert Peel, admitting the principle by not opposing the second reading, moved that the qualification should be 10. The motion was lost, but a similar one was made in the Upper House, and carried by a majority of 60. Other alterations were made, which induced Lord John Russell to relinquish his efforts for another year. In 1839 he resumed his task, and the second reading was carried by a majority of 26. Once more Sir Robert Peel proposed the 10 qualification for the franchise, which was rejected in the Commons, but adopted in the Lords by nearly the same majorities as before. Thus baffled again, the noble lord gave up the measure for the Session. In February, 1840, the Bill was introduced by Lord Morpeth with a qualification of 8. Sir Robert Peel now admitted that a settlement of the question was indispensable. With his support the Bill passed the Commons by a majority of 148. It also passed the Lords, and on the 18th of August received the Royal Assent.

The domestic serenity of the realm was, however, greatly disturbed at this moment by Dean Swift, who seized on the occasion to avenge himself on the Whig Ministry for the defeat and punishment of his party, and especially of his particular friends and patrons, Oxford and Bolingbroke. There had long been a great deficiency of copper coin in Ireland. The Government undertook to remove this pressing want of so useful a medium, and they set about it in an honest and honourable manner as regarded the quality of the coin. Tenders were issued, and various offers received for the coining of farthings and halfpence to the value of a hundred and eight thousand pounds. The proposal of Mr. William Wood, an iron and copper founder, of Wolverhampton, was accepted; but the quality of the coin, both as to weight and fineness, was determined by the advice of Sir Isaac Newton, then Master of the Mint, and Wood was bound under heavy penalties to furnish it according to this stipulation. Every care was used by the Ministers and the Solicitor- and Attorney-General to insure the supply of a much better copper coinage than Ireland had ever possessed before. [See larger version]

Telford, under the commission for Scotland, thoroughly revolutionised the roads of that country. From Carlisle to the extremity of Caithness, and from east to west of Scotland, he intersected the whole country with beautiful roads, threw bridges of admirable construction over the rivers, and improved many of the harbours, as those of Banff, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Fortrose, Cullen, and Kirkwall. The extent of new road made by him was about one thousand miles, and he threw one thousand two hundred bridges over rivers, some of them wild mountain torrents. Prussia, which had remained inactive whilst Buonaparte was winning over Bavaria and Würtemberg to his interests, and while he was crushing Austria, now that she stood alone took the alarm, and complained that the French troops on the Rhine and in the Hanse Towns, which, by the Treaty of Pressburg, ought to have been withdrawn from Germany, remained. The Queen of Prussia and Prince Louis, the king's cousin, were extremely anti-Gallic. They had long tried to arouse the king to resist the French influence in Germany, to coalesce with Austria while it was time, and to remove Haugwitz from the Ministry, who was greatly inclined towards France. The Emperor Alexander professed himself ready to unite in this resistance to France, and Frederick William began now to listen to these counsels. He withdrew his minister, Lucchesini, from Paris, and sent General Knobelsdorff in his place. On the 1st of October Knobelsdorff presented to Talleyrand a long memorial, demanding that the French troops should re-cross the Rhine immediately, in compliance with the Treaty of Pressburg; that France should desist from throwing obstacles in the way of the promotion of a league in North Germany, comprehending all the States not included in the Confederation of the Rhine; and that the fortress of Wesel and those abbeys which Murat, since becoming Grand Duke of Berg and Cleve, had seized and attached to his territory, should be restored.

But they were not then in the position of a beleaguered garrison. Before relief came, they had won a victory that covered them with glory. The troops had been in the highest pluck, and never seemed so happy as when they could encounter any portion of the enemy. In this state of feeling an idea began to take possession of the officers that they were able to capture Mahomed Akbar's camp. A false report had come to the Sirdar, that General Pollock had been beaten back with great slaughter in the Khyber Pass; and in honour of this event his guns fired a royal salute. A rumour also reached the garrison that there had been a revolution at Cabul, and that the enemy was obliged to break up his camp and hasten back to the capital. Whether either or both these reports should prove true, the time seemed to have come for General Sale to strike a blow. A council of war was held; the general would have shrunk from the responsibility of an attack upon the camp; but he was dissuaded by Havelock. Akbar Khan, at the head of 6,000 men, was aware of their approach and ready to receive them. On issuing from the gate, General Sale had ordered Colonel Dennie forward, to attack a small fort, from which the enemy had often molested the garrison. The colonel, at the head of the brave 13th, rushed to the fort; but having entered the outer wall, they found themselves exposed to a murderous fire from the defences of the inner keep. There Colonel Dennie received a mortal wound, a ball passing through his sword-belt. Sale now gave orders for a general attack on the enemy's camp, and in his despatch he thus describes the result:"The artillery advanced at a gallop, and directed a heavy fire upon the Afghan centre, whilst two of the columns of infantry penetrated the line near the same point, and the third forced back its left from its support on the river, into the stream of which some of his horse and foot were driven. The Afghans made repeated attempts to check our advance by a smart fire of musketry, by throwing forward heavy bodies of horse, which twice threatened the detachments of foot under Captain Havelock, and by opening upon us three guns from a battery screened by a garden wall, and said to have been served under the personal superintendence of the Sirdar. But in a short time they were dislodged from every point of their position, their cannon taken, and their camp involved in a general conflagration. The battle was over, and the enemy in full retreat, by about seven a.m. We have made ourselves masters of two cavalry standards, re-captured four guns lost by the Cabul and Gundamuk forcesthe restoration of which to our Government is matter of much honest exultation among the troopsseized and destroyed a great quantity of material and ordnance stores, and burnt the whole of the enemy's tents. In short, the defeat of Mahomed Akbar, in open field, by the troops whom he had boasted of blockading, has been complete and signal. The field of battle was strewed with the bodies of men and horses, and the richness of the trappings of some of the latter seemed to attest that persons of distinction were among the fallen. The loss on our side was remarkably smallseven privates killed, and three officers and fifty men wounded." By these violent and arbitrary means was passed on the 4th July, 1776, the famous Declaration of Independence. The original motion for such a Declaration, on the 8th of June, had been supported by a bare majority of seven States to six; and now the whole thirteen States were said to have assented, though it is perfectly well known that several signatures were not supplied till months afterwards by newly chosen delegates. The Declaration contained the following assertions of freedom:1. That all men are born equally free, possessing certain natural rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive their posterity; 2. That all power is vested in the people, from whom it is derived [but it was voted in Congress that the blacks made no part of the people]; 3. That they have an inalienable, indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish their form of government at pleasure; 4. That the idea of an hereditary first magistrate is unnatural and absurd.

On the 17th of February he introduced this plan in two Bills. He declared that his policy had always been pacific; that he had never proposed any tax on the Americanswhen he came into office he had found them taxed already; that he had tried conciliatory means before the sword was drawn, and would still gladly try them. He had thought the former propositions to the Americans very reasonable, and he thought so still. Forgetful of the hopes that he had held out, of assisting the revenues of Great Britain by the taxation of Americans, he now surprised his auditors by asserting that he had never expected to derive much revenue from America, and that, in reality, the taxes imposed had not paid the expenses of the attempt to collect them. The first of his Bills, therefore, he entitled one "For removing all doubts and apprehensions concerning taxation by the Parliament of Great Britain in any of the colonies." It repealed entirely the tea duty in America, and declared "that from and after the passing of this Act, the king and Parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment whatever, in any of his Majesty's colonies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce, the nett produce of such duty to be always paid and applied to and for the use of the colony in which the same shall be levied." The second Bill removed some otherwise insuperable obstacles to a treaty. The Commissionersfive in numberwere to raise no difficulties as to the legal ranks or titles of those with whom they would have to negotiate. They were empowered to proclaim a cessation of hostilities on the part of the king's forces by sea or land for any necessary term and on any necessary conditions. They might suspend all the Acts of Parliament respecting America passed since 1763, yet the Bill excepted the repeal of the Massachusetts Charter, and introduced that into a separate Actanother weak measure, for on such an occasion the only wisdom was to wipe away all Acts, or repeal of Acts, which had arisen out of these unhappy differences. The effect of this statement has been well described in the Annual Register of that year, in an article supposed to be from the hand of Burke:"A dull, melancholy silence for some time succeeded this speech. It had been heard with profound attention, but without a single mark of approbation of any part, from any description of men, or any particular man in the House. Astonishment, dejection, and fear overclouded the whole assembly. Although the Minister had declared that the sentiments he had expressed that day had been those which he always entertained, it is certain that few or none had understood him in that manner, and he had been represented to the nation at large as the person in it the most tenacious of those Parliamentary rights which he now proposed to resign, and the most adverse to the submissions which he now proposed to make."

Colonel Campbell did not lose a single man, and had but three wounded, so that it is evident that the flight of the enemy must have been instantaneous and universal. Murat made no further attempt to seize Sicily, though he kept his camp on the heights behind Reggio and Scylla for two years longer.

Buonaparte had watched all the motions of the Northern Powers and of Austria from the first, and was fully prepared to encounter and overthrow them. Even before his return from Italy his plans were laid. No sooner, indeed, was he in France again than he proceeded to his great camp at Boulogne, and dated several decrees thence, thus drawing attention to the fact. All France was once more persuaded that he was now going to lead his invincible Army of England across the strait, and add perfidious Albion to his conquests. He had increased that army greatly; it had been diligently disciplined, and contained soldiers who had carried him to victory in Italy and in Egypt. Such an army of a hundred and fifty thousand picked men was deemed capable of achieving anything, with the Emperor at their head. But Napoleon had no intention of making the desperate attempt to cross the Channel without an overwhelming fleet, and this, for reasons which we will mention by-and-bye, did not come. The maps of England had all been thrown aside, and those of Germany substituted. He was busy collecting material for artillery; he was sending everywhere to buy up draught-horses to drag his baggage and ammunition and guns; and suddenly, when people were looking for the ordering out of his flotilla, they were surprised by hearing that he was in full march for the Rhine. On the 23rd of September he sent a report to the Senate in these words:"The wishes of the eternal enemies of the Continent are accomplished; hostilities have commenced in the midst of Germany; Austria and Russia have united with England; and our generation is again involved in all the calamities of war. But a very few days ago I cherished a hope that peace would not be disturbed. Threats and outrage only showed that they could make no impression upon me; but the Austrians have passed the Inn; Munich is invaded; the Elector of Bavaria is driven from his capital; all my hopes have therefore vanished. I tremble at the idea of the blood that must be spilled in Europe; but the French name will emerge with renovated and increased lustre." This was accompanied by two decrees: one for ordering eighty thousand conscripts, and the other for the organisation of a national guard. The next day he was on the way to Strasburg. He said to Savary, "If the enemy comes to meet me"for Mack, like a madman, was rushing towards the Rhine, far away from his allies"I will destroy him before he has re-passed[505] the Danube; if he waits for me, I will take him between Augsburg and Ulm." The result showed how exactly he had calculated.

The difficulty which Buonaparte had created for himself by the usurpation of the thrones of Spain and Portugal, had the direct result which his wisest counsellors foresaw. Austria immediately began to watch the progress of the Peninsular struggle, and the resistance of the Spanish people; and the stepping of Great Britain into that field induced her to believe that the opportunity was come for throwing off the French yoke, and avenging her past injuries and humiliations. She had made arrangements by which she could call out an immense population, and convert them into soldiers. But in determining to declare open war against Buonaparte, Austria displayed a woful want of sagacity. To compete with a general like Buonaparte, and a power like France, it needed not only that her armies should be numerous but thoroughly disciplined. Nothing could have been lost by a little delay, but much might be gained. If Buonaparte succeeded in putting down the insurrection in Spain, he would then fall on Austria with all his victorious forces; if he did not succeed, but his difficulties increased, then every day that Austria waited was a day of strength to her. Russia, which was nominally at peace with Buonaparte, but which at heart was already determined on breaking the connection, saw, with just alarm, this precipitate movement of Austria. If she rose at once, Alexander was bound by treaty to co-operate in putting her down; if she deferred her enterprise for awhile, there was every probability that they could issue forth together against the common disturber. If Austria made a rash blow and were prostrated, Russia would then be left alone; and Alexander knew well, notwithstanding Napoleon's professions, that he would lose little time in demanding some concession from him.

Buonaparte very speedily matured his plans for the seizure of Spain, and he began to put them into execution. From Italy, where he was violating the territories of the Pope, and compelling the reluctant Queen of Etruria to give up her kingdom, he wrote to the King of Spain, her father, that he consented to a marriage between the Prince of Asturias and a lady of his family. Whilst he thus gave assurance of his friendship, he ordered his army, lying at Bayonne, to enter Spain at different points, and possess themselves of the strong positions along its frontier. By this means the French were received as friends by the people, and neither the king nor Godoy complained of this gross breach of the Treaty of Fontainebleau. The impudent tricks by which the great fortresses were secured, each of which might have detained an army for years, have scarcely any parallel in history. At Pamplona, on the 9th of February, 1808, the French troops commenced a game of snowballing each other on the esplanade of the citadel, when suddenly they occupied the drawbridge, entered the fortress gate, and admitted a body of their countrymen, who had been placed in readiness, and the fortress was secured. At Barcelona the French gave out that they were about to march. Duchesne, the General, drew up his men before the citadel, on pretence of speaking with the French guard, near the citadel gate, passed suddenly in, followed by an Italian regiment, and the place was their own. St. Sebastian was captured by a number of French being admitted into the hospital, who let in their fellows, and Mountjoy was taken by a like ruse.