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But in February the long-expected armament from France arrived on the Coromandel coast. Suffren, the admiral, was one of the ablest sea-commanders of France. On his way he had secured the Cape of Good Hope against the English, and he now landed at Porto Novo two thousand French soldiers to join the army of Hyder Ali. Tippoo, flushed with the recent capture of Colonel Braithwaite, invited the French to join him in an attack on Cuddalore, an important town between Porto Novo and Pondicherry. This was done, and Cuddalore was wrested from the English in April. Whilst these events were taking place on land, repeated engagements occurred with the British fleets on the coasts. That of Admiral Hughes was reinforced by fresh ships from England, and between February, 1782, and June, 1783, the British and French fleets fought five pitched battles with varied success. In none of these was any man-of-war captured by either side, nor any great number of men lost; but, eventually, Suffren succeeded in retaking Trincomalee, in Ceylon, from the British. Though the genius and services of Pitt to his country have been overrated, he was a man of great and persevering energies, of remarkable talent and conspicuous oratory; but his temperament was cold, proud, self-glorifying, and imperious, without either the deep insight or the comprehensive grasp of genius. Parliament met on the 15th of November, and the very first object which engaged the attention of both Houses was Wilkes. In such fiery haste were Ministers, that Lord Sandwich, in the Peers, started up, before the king's speech could be considered, and declared that he held in his hand a most filthy and atrocious libel, written by Wilkes, called "An Essay on Woman." Wilkes never had published the filth. He had written, as it appeared, by the assistance of a profligate and now deceased son of Archbishop Potter, this "Essay on Woman;" but he had never published it. It had lain in his desk, and had only been read to two personsone of whom was Sandwich himself. When Wilkes, however, was driven to set up a printing press in his own house, he had printed a dozen copies of the "Essay on Woman," to give to his dissolute friends, whom he used to meet at the Dilettanti Club, in Palace Yard. Sandwich, aware of the existence of the essay, had bribed one of Wilkes's printers, named Curry, to lend him a copy of it, and had paid him five guineas as a guarantee for its safe return. The whole thing was a stupid parody of Pope's "Essay on Man;" in which, instead of the inscription to Bolingbroke, commencing "Awake, my St. John!" there appeared an invocation beginning, "Awake, my Sandwich!" and there were also ridiculous notes attributed to Warburton.

The Americans had marched on the evening of the 16th with orders to make themselves masters of Bunker's Hill. By some mistake, they had planted themselves on Breed's Hill, and instantly began to throw up a formidable redoubt and entrenchments, and to place their guns in battery. Gage then ordered a detachment of troops, under the command of General Howe and Brigadier Pigott, to drive the Americans, at all costs, from that position. It was noon before Howe crossed the river and landed on the Charlestown peninsula; but then Howe perceived the strength of the Americans to be greater than had been supposed, and, halting, he sent for reinforcements. They advanced up the hill, formed in two lines, the right headed by General Howe, the left by Brigadier Pigott. The left was immediately severely galled by the riflemen posted in the houses and on the roofs of Charlestown, and Howe instantly halted and ordered the left wing to advance and set fire to the town. This was soon executed, and the wooden buildings of Charlestown were speedily in a blaze, and the whole place burnt to the ground. The Americans reserved their fire till the English were nearly at the entrenchments, when they opened with such a deadly discharge of cannon and musketry as astonished and perplexed the British. Most of the men and the staff standing around General Howe were killed, and he stood for a moment almost alone. Some of the newer troops never stopped till they reached the bottom of the hill. The officers, however, speedily rallied the broken lines, and led them a second time against the murderous batteries. A second time they gave way. But General Clinton, seeing the unequal strife, without waiting for orders, and attended by a number of resolute officers, hastened across the water in boats, and, rallying the fugitives, led them a third time up the hill. By this time the fire of the Americans began to slacken, for their powder was failing, and the English, wearied as they were, rushed up the hill, and carried the entrenchments at the point of the bayonet. Had Gage had a proper reserve ready to rush upon the flying rout on the Neck, few of them would have remained to join their fellows. The battle was called the Battle of Bunker's Hill, though really fought on the lower, or Breed's Hill. The South Sea Company had immediately on the passing of the Bill proposed a subscription of one million, and this was so eagerly seized on that, instead of one, two millions were subscribed. To stimulate this already too feverish spirit in the public, the Company adopted the most false and unjustifiable means. They had eight millions and a half to pay over to Government as a douceur for granting them the management of the Funds; and, therefore, to bring this in rapidly, they propagated the most lying rumours. It was industriously circulated that Lord Stanhope had received overtures at Paris to exchange Gibraltar and Port Mahon for invaluable gold lands in Peru! The South Sea trade was vaunted as a source of boundless wealth in itself. In August the stock had risen from the one hundred and thirty of the last winter to one thousand! Men sold houses and land to become shareholders; merchants of eminence neglected their affairs and crippled their resources to reap imaginary profits. The Company flattered the delusion to the utmost. They opened a third, and even a fourth subscription, larger than the former, and passed a resolution that from next Christmas their yearly dividend should not be less than fifty per cent.! In labouring to increase the public delusion they seem to have caught the contagion themselves, for they began to act, not like men who were blowing a bubble which they knew must speedily burst, but like persons who had mounted permanently into the very highest seat of prosperous power. They assumed the most arrogant and overbearing manner, even towards men of the highest station and influence. "We have made them kings," said a member of Parliament, "and they deal with everybody as such."

Amongst the foremost of the promoters of science, and the most eloquent of its expounders, was Sir David Brewster, who died full of years and of honours in 1868. Arrived at manhood at the opening of the present century, having been born in 1781, he continued his brilliant course during fifty years, pursuing his investigations into the laws of polarisation by crystals, and by the reflection, refraction, and absorption of light, in which he made important discoveries. The attention of the British public was forcibly arrested by an able treatise on "Light," contributed by Sir John Herschel, in 1827, to the "Encyclop?dia Metropolitana." Its excellent method and lucid explanations attracted to the theory of Young and Fresnel men of science who had been deterred by the fragmentary and abstruse style of the former. This was followed four years later by a most able and precise mathematical exposition of the theory, and its application to optical problems, by Professor Airy, who became Astronomer-Royal in 1835.

The spring of 1720 was a period of remarkable national prosperity. But "the grand money schemes projected of late," which appeared to the Jacobite Atterbury and others calculated to cement the royal peace and strengthen the foundation[46] of the Government and nation, were destined to produce a very different effect. For the South Sea Bubble was about to burst. In 1711, Harley, being at his wits' end to maintain the public credit, established a fund to provide for the National Debt, which amounted to ten millions of pounds. To defray the interest he made permanent the duties on wine, vinegar, and tobacco, etc. To induce the purchase of the Government stock, he gave to the shareholders the exclusive privilege of trading to the Spanish settlements in South America, and procured them an Act of Parliament and a royal charter, under the name of the South Sea Company. The idea, hollow and groundless as it was, seized on the imagination of the most staid and experienced traders. All the dreams of boundless gold which haunted the heads of the followers of Drake and Raleigh were revived. The mania spread through the nation, and was industriously encouraged by the partisans of Harley. But this stupendous dream of wealth was based on the promises of Ministers, who at the Peace of Utrecht were to secure from the Government of Spain this right to trade to its colonies. The right was never granted by that haughty and jealous Power, further than for the settlement of some few factories, and the sending of one small ship annually of less than five hundred tons. This, and the Assiento, or privilege of supplying those colonies with African slaves, were the sole advantages obtained, and these were soon disturbed by the war with Spain, which broke out under Alberoni. The South Sea Company, however, from its general resources, remained a flourishing corporation, and was deemed the rival of the Bank of England.

The gulf between the Minister and the landowners was widening. The debates on the Budget, and on Mr. Cobden's motion for inquiry into the alleged agricultural distress, had drawn out more bitter speeches from Mr. Disraeli, and served still further to mark the distinction between the Minister and a large section of his old followers. But one of the most significant signs of the time was the increasing tendency to recognise the talents and singleness of purpose of the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers. It became almost fashionable to compliment the ability of Mr. Cobden. It was almost forgotten that the Minister had once carried with him the whole House in making an excited charge against that gentleman of marking him out for assassination. The bitterness of the ultra-Protectionists was certainly unabated; but neither the Quarterly nor any other review now classed the Manchester men with rick-burners and assassins, or called upon the Government to indict them for sedition.

In the Royal Speech his Majesty recommended that, when this special object was accomplished, Parliament should take into their deliberate consideration the whole condition of Ireland, and that they should review the laws which imposed disabilities upon Roman Catholics, to see whether their removal could be effected "consistently with the full and permanent security of our establishments in Church and State, with the maintenance of the Reformed religion established by law, and of the rights and privileges of the bishops and of the clergy of this realm, and of the churches committed to their charge."

Napoleon was at Vervins, on the 12th of June, with his Guard, and on the 14th he had joined five divisions of infantry and four of cavalry at Beaumont. The triple line of strong fortresses on the Belgian frontiers enabled him to assemble his forces unobserved by the Allies, whilst he was perfectly informed by spies of their arrangements. Wellington had arrived at Brussels, and had thrown strong garrisons into Ostend, Antwerp, Nieuwport, Ypres, Tournay, Mons, and Ath. He had about thirty thousand British, but not his famous Peninsular troops, who had been sent to America. Yet he had the celebrated German legion, eight thousand strong, which had won so many laurels in Spain; fifteen thousand Hanoverians; five thousand Brunswickers, under their brave duke, the hereditary mortal foe of Napoleon; and seventeen thousand men, Belgians, Dutch, and troops of Nassau, under the Prince of Orange. Doubts were entertained of the trustworthiness of the Belgians, who had fought under Napoleon, and who had shown much discontent of late; and Napoleon confidently calculated on them, and had Belgian officers with him to lead them when they should come over to him. But, on the whole, the Belgians behaved well; for, like all others, their country had felt severely the tyranny of Napoleon. Altogether, Wellington's army amounted to about seventy-five thousand men. He occupied with his advanced division, under the Prince of Orange, Enghien, Braine-le-Comte, and Nivelles; with his second, under Lord Hill, Hal, Oudenarde, and Grammont; and with his reserve, under Picton, Brussels and Ghent. What he had most to complain of was the very defective manner in which he had been supplied with cannon on so momentous an occasion, being able to muster only eighty-four pieces of artillery, though he had applied for a hundred and fifty, and though there were cannons enough at Woolwich to have supplied the whole of the Allied armies.