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CHAPTER XII. THE PROGRESS OF THE NATION DURING THE REIGNS OF GEORGE IV. AND WILLIAM IV.

Another matter which he was eager to set right was the captivity of the King of Spain. He had one hundred thousand of his best disciplined and most seasoned troops in Spain, and he was anxious to get them out to meet the approaching[75] Allies. Besides this, he was equally anxious to render the stay of Wellington in the south of France indefensible. To effect these purposes, he determined not only to liberate Ferdinand of Spain, but to send him home under the conditions of a treaty, by which a full exchange of prisoners should be effected, and the continuance of the British there be declared unnecessary. Nay, he did all in his power to embroil the Spaniards with their deliverers, the British. By a treaty Buonaparte recognised Ferdinand VII. and his successors as King of Spain and the Indies, and Ferdinand, on his part, bound himself to maintain the integrity of his empire, and to oblige the British immediately to evacuate every part of Spain. The contracting powers were to maintain their maritime rights against Great Britain; and whilst Buonaparte surrendered all fortresses held by him in Spain, Ferdinand was to continue to all the Spaniards who had adhered to King Joseph the rights, privileges, and property they had enjoyed under him.

The art of sculpture, like that of painting, took a new spring in this reign, but the early part of it was encumbered by the tasteless works of Wilton, Read, and Taylor. It remained for the genius of Banks, Nollekens, Bacon, Baily, Behnes, and Chantrey, to place sculpture on its proper elevation in England. Notwithstanding all this treachery and barbarity, General Elphinstone, feeling his situation desperate, was weak enough to trust the Afghan chiefs, and to enter into a convention with them on the 1st of January, in the hope of saving the garrison from destruction. The negotiations were carried on by Major Pottinger, the defender of Herat, and it was agreed that the former treaty should remain in force, with the following additional terms:That the British should leave behind all their guns excepting six; that they should immediately give up all their treasures;[496] and that hostages should be exchanged for married men with their wives and families. To this, however, the married men refused to consent, and it was not insisted on. Trautmansdorff now hastened to conciliate in earnest. He issued two-and-twenty separate proclamations, made all kinds of fair promises, restored the arms of the citizens, and liberated the imprisoned patriots. But it was too late. The insurgents, under Van der Mersch, were fast advancing towards Brussels, and Dalton marched out to meet them; but he was confounded by the appearance of their numbers, and entered into an armistice of ten days. But this did not stop the progress of insurrection in Brussels. There the people rose, and resolved to open the gates to their compatriots. Women and children tore up the palisades, and levelled the entrenchments. The population assumed the national cockade, and the streets resounded with cries of "Long live the Patriots!" "Long live Van der Noot!" Dalton retreated into Brussels, but found no security there. The soldiers began to desert. The people attacked those who stood to their colours, and Dalton was glad to secure his retreat by a capitulation. In a few days the insurgents from Breda entered, Trautmansdorff having withdrawn at their approach, and the new federal union of the Netherlands was completely established. The State of Luxembourg was the only one remaining to Joseph, and thither Dalton retired with his forces, five thousand in number.

THE QUEEN'S FIRST COUNCIL.

At first victory seemed to attend the French. Lefebvre defeated the Spaniards in Aragon, on the 9th of June, and General Bessires beat the insurgents, in several partial actions, in Navarre and Biscay. But his great success was over the united forces of Generals Cuesta and Blake, on the 14th of June, at Medina de Rio Seco, a few leagues from the city of Valladolid. Duchesne thought he should be able to send reinforcements to assist in reducing Valencia and Aragon; but he soon found that he had enough to do in his own district. Marshal Moncey, all this time expecting the co-operation of Duchesne, had advanced into Valencia. For a time the country seemed deserted; but as he advanced he found the hills and rocks swarming with armed people, and he had to force his march by continual fighting. There were Swiss troops mingled amongst the Spanish ones opposed to him, and whilst they attacked him in front, the Spaniards assaulted his flanks and rear. When he arrived before the city of Valencia, on the 27th of June, he found the place well defended. On the 29th Moncey retired from before the walls, despairing of the arrival of Duchesne. Moncey, like Bessires, now found himself called to Madrid to defend the new king, who, it was clear, could not long remain there; and already the British were landing on the shores of the Peninsula, to bring formidable aid to the exasperated inhabitants. At this period, both the grand old styles of architecture, the Gothic for ecclesiastical buildings, and the Tudor and Elizabethan for palaces and mansions, had, for a time, run their course. A classical or Italian fashion had come in, and the picturesque churches and halls of our ancestors were deemed barbarous. Inigo Jones had introduced the semi-classical style, and now Sir Christopher Wren and Vanbrugh arose to render it predominant. Wren had the most extraordinary opportunity for distinguishing himself. The fire of London had swept away a capital, and to him was assigned the task of restoring it. Wren (b. 1632; d. 1723) was descended from a clerical family. In 1651 he was appointed to the chair of astronomy at Gresham College; three years afterwards to that of the Savilian professor at Oxford. In 1661 he was appointed by Charles II. to assist Sir John Denham, the surveyor-general, and in 1663 he was commissioned to examine the old cathedral of St. Paul, with a view to its restoration in keeping with the Corinthian colonnade which Inigo Jones had, with a strange blindness to unity, tagged on to a Gothic church. The old church was found to be so thoroughly dilapidated, that Wren recommended its entire removal and the erection of another. This created a terrible outcry amongst the clergy and citizens, who regarded the old fabric as a model of beauty.

Washington, who had witnessed the battle, saw, to his infinite mortification, the British pursuing his flying troops almost up to their entrenchments. The ardour of the English soldiers was such that they would speedily have stormed and carried the lines, and not a man of the American army on Long Island would have escaped being taken or killed. But General Howe, with that marvellous stupidity which marked all our generals in this war, ordered them back, saying that the lines could be taken with less loss of life by regular approach. The next morning they began throwing up trenches near one of the American redoubts, from which to cannonade it; but Washington was much more aware of the untenable nature of his position than Howe, and, under favour of darkness, and of a thick fog in the morning, he had been for hours busily transporting his forces over the East River to New York. All that day, and in the night of the 29th, he continued, with all possible silence, conveying over his troops, artillery, and stores, expecting every moment that General Howe would burst through his lines at Brooklyn, and attack him in the rear, whilst Lord Howe, with his ships, would advance, and blow all his fragile transports into the water. Soon, however, Washington saw there was no maintaining his position there. He found the British fast enclosing him on all sides, too; and on the 12th of September he began to evacuate the place in such haste as to leave behind him a great quantity of his artillery and stores. The English landed on York Island without the loss of a man. Three thousand men had placed themselves ready to attack the British as they landed, and before they could form; but the sight of two companies of grenadiers, already in position, had such an effect on them, that they fled, leaving their blankets and jackets, which they had thrown off in certainty of beating the English.