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sion of the military ascendance implied in this objection was like that of the poor insane gentleman, who was afraid of his own sword after he had hung it up on the wall;—that the character and constitution of our army, as well as the principles and education of our officers, were such as to warrant us against any apprehension of their being led to consider their own interest, or that of their profession, as distinct from the liberty and welfare their country; that as Britain could not repay by more solid bounty the actions of her best and bravest sail ors and soldiers, the least which could be assigned to them was the empty honour of rank and precedence;-that there was no novelty in the precedence of the Companions of the Order, since an Esquire of the Bath took rank of all Esquires, except those of the King's body, by the original statute of the order; and, finally, that the gentry of England, who had been protected in their rights by these gal lant men, could feel no degradation in giving place to their distinguished
Viewing the matter generally, we can see no impropriety in the establishment or extension of a military order, to reward past services, and afford an honourable object of emulation in future wars. Something perhaps may be objected to the terms Grand Crosses and Commanders, both as unknown to our English chivalry, whose dialect affords modes of distinction as significant; and as ap. proaching too nearly, in sound at least, to the phraseology of foreign orders, the lowest ranks of which are usually distributed with injudicious and indiscriminate profusion. This, however, is a trifle; for the respectability of the Order of the Bath, and every other honorary institution,
must depend, not upon its titles or classes, but on the mode in which it is conferred. At present, there is no want of breasts, often exposed to danger for their country, on which the badges of the various classes may be honourably displayed. But we hope, (for the hope implies a prospect of long and continued peace) that the time will arrive when worthy candidates for military honours must necessarily be more scarce. If the sovereign, withstanding favour and importunity, shall then refuse to grant the distinctions of the order to all who have not honourably earned them, it will retain its lustre in the eyes of those who wear it, of those who aspire to win it, of the country, and of posterity. Should it be otherwise, this, like other honours, will cease to be the badge of merit, and sink into a distinction of little value, to be obtained by court-intrigue or favouritism, honouring neither the wearer, nor the sovereign by whom it is conferred. And it is further to be remarked, that the supposed degradation cannot take place, even in the lowest rank of the Order, without transgression of the fundamental rule, that the officers on whom it is conferred, shall have been distinguished for some special act of service communicated to the public in the London Gazette.
The trial of Sir John Murray by a court martial next engaged the attention of the public. The reader may remember, that while the Duke of Wellington was pursuing his victorious career in the south-west of Spain, in summer 1813,* Sir John Murray, at the head of an army of English and Sicilians, had the difficult task to keep in check Suchet, who occupied Catalonia with a large French force. With this view Sir John undertook the siege
* See the Edinburgh Register for that year, Chapter X.
of Tarragona, and being compelled to raise it by the advance of a very superior French force, succeeded indeed in embarking his men with safety, but left behind some battering guns and mortars, and stores of no great value. We have given the particulars of his expedition in our volume for the year in which it took place, with so much minuteness, that we may dispense with resuming the subject. The charges brought against Sir John Murray were three in number, the two first being supported by the judgeadvocate, Mr Larpent, and the third by Admiral Hallowell, who commanded the naval force of the expeditions. The first charge related to the siege of Tarragona, and the delay in raising it, even after, in Sir John Murray's own former opinion, the success of the enterprise had become hopeless. The second was, that he had disobeyed his instructions in embarking only a part of his army, and in subsequently disembarking them. The third charged, that the force was embarked in a hurried and precipitate manner, so as to sacrifice the object pointed out in Lord Wellington's letter, and to disgrace the military character of the country, by abandoning various guns and trophies to an approaching enemy. Upon these charges, the first and third of which are not easily reconciled to each other, a quantity of evidence was led, and Sir John Murray adduced many witnesses to support his defence. The decision of the court found Sir John Murray Not Guilty of the two first charges. Upon the third, they found that LieutenantGeneral Sir John Murray, Bart. is Guilty only of so much of the charge as states, "That he unnecessarily abandoned a considerable quantity of artillery and stores, which he might have embarked in safety, such conduct being detrimental to the service; and the court does therefore find him Guilty of such part, but does acquit
him of the remainder of that charge; and the court, under all the circumstances of the case, considering the conduct of Sir John Murray to have proceeded from a mere error in judgment, is of opinion, and does adjudge, that for the part of the third charge of which Lieutenant-General Sir J. Murray has been so found guilty, he be admonished in such manner as his Royal Highness the Commander in Chief may think proper." It was probably considered by his Royal Highness the Duke of York, that the error of judgment of which Sir John Murray was found to be guilty, arose from his preferring the certain loss of a few guns and stores of no great value, to the possible and even probable chance of the troops being exposed to the attack of a superior enemy when in the very act of re-embarkation. It was, therefore, the conclusion of his royal highness, that as an error in judgment alone was charged against Sir John Murray, and that it proceeded from a cautious regard to the safety of his army, engaged in what always must be a perilous operation, the case did not appear to call for any further observation. The decision of the commander in chief was generally acceptable to the public, for the temporary prejudices against Sir John Murray had been long removed when the impossibility of success against Tarragona was made fully manifest, and the necessity of a retreat no less so. The third charge, comparatively unimportant in itself, was supposed to be in some degree founded upon the rivalry between the army and navy, which had in former times done so much prejudice to both, and which has occasionally disposed the officers of the one service to think and judge somewhat harshly of the conduct of those belonging to the other.
Another incident, of an extravagant and even ludicrous nature, occupied for a few days the public attention. We regret to say it again
assembled in the very lobby of the House, for the avowed purpose of intimidating the members of the legislature in their deliberations; and his eyes, if theirs be the channel of communication he is most in the habit of trust ing, might have read an answer to his question in the marks of ill-usage exhibited by such members as had undergone the discipline of the mob. But, notwithstanding the evidence of his own senses, it was not until several witnesses had been examined at the bar, that Mr Lambton became finally satisfied that the soldiery were brought down, not to overawe the House of Commons, but to protect them from the threats and actual violence of a riotous populace.
Upon the whole (as might have been expected from the British spirit of our legislators) the violence, by which the populace attempted to overawe the House, produced exactly the opposite effect. Several members, whose opinions were not before completely made up, were decided in favour of the bill, from the determination to shew they were not to be debarred from their duty by popular clamour and violence. Many of those who opposed the bill, and had advised that the measure should be at least postponed, now agreed with its supporters that a dilatory course might inspire the populace with a dangerous belief that their measures of intimidation had made some impression, and consented therefore to the immediate and final discussion. And the vote of the night was decisive in favour of the corn bill, by a more triumphant majority than had accompanied the measure in any former stage of its progress.
The resentment of the populace did not subside upon their being driven from the vicinity of the House of Commons by the military. They divided into parties, in order, by a simultaneous attack, to destroy the pro
perty and houses of the members understood to favour the corn bill. A small and desperate band, which at first did not exceed seventy or eighty in number, went to the house of the right honourable F. J. Robinson, the original mover of the bill, and obtaining admittance by a stratagem, proceeded to destroy the whole furniture, with books, pictures, papers, and property of every description, and ended by dashing the windows into the street, and breaking the doors down. Having thus completely sacked the habitation of the obnoxious member with whom the bill originated, they proceeded to those of others, whom they regarded as its supporters. Lord Darnley's house and Mr Yorke's were attacked. The rioters were unable to force admittance into the latter, and were alarmed in their attack upon the former, when they had penetrated into the hall, so that less damage was sustained than at Mr Robinson's.
Neither peace officers nor military appeared in sufficient force to disturb the mob in these riotous proceedings. If this was little creditable to the po lice of the metropolis, the conduct of two eminent law-lords shewed the firmness and spirit worthy of those selected to administer justice to a great nation. The rabble assembled before the Lord Chancellor's house in Bedford-square, and having giving three cheers, deliberately proceeded to force their way into the premises, by breaking open the doors. Lord Eldon, by a private door, through which he had let out his lady and family into the gardens of the British Museum, introduced two files of soldiers; and finding the mob had succeeded in forcing their way into his house, and were commencing the destruction of his property, his lordship exhibited the Chancellor of England in a new character, by personally leading his military auxiliaries to the charge.
The rioters fled with great alarm before this inferior, but unexpected force; not, however, till the Lord Chancellor had with his own hand made two of their ringleaders prisoners. Lord Ellenborough behaved with equal spirit. On the mob appearing before his house, and commencing their usual violence, he came out and demanded their purpose; and being answered with menacing shouts of "No corn bill!" he placed before them, in a few brief words, the folly and danger of their conduct, with such effect, that they greeted him with three cheers, and carried their clamours and fury elsewhere. These were the events of the Monday night. It has seldom happened that riots, having been allowed to proceed to a certain height, without an effectual check, subside till they arrive at a fatal crisis. What is in the first day a popular start of violence, becomes on the next a system of organized plun der and destruction. Every great city contains a certain number of persons, to whom theft and rapine are familiar: and in London, at this period, there existed several associations who were led to join in such scenes of tumult, and to aid the thoughtless rioter, and the more determined professional depredator, from the instigation of political zeal. The tumults, therefore, assumed on the Tuesdaya more systematic form. The rioters, dispersed in parties through different and remote quarters of the city, selected their objects of vengeance, by learning at the beerhouses in the Meuse-lanes the names of such members of parliament as inhabited the adjacent streets. They then proceeded to the work of destruction, not in one large mass, but acting in different parties of limited numbers; and to add to the general alarm which their tactics produced, as the night was dark and the wind high, they sometimes accomplished
VOL. VIII. PART L.
their purpose while the soldiers were in the next street, without their having notice of it. When a party of the military did come up, the rioters dropped their implements of mischief, and appeared to be the wondering and innocent spectators of the ruins they themselves had made. The mansions of Lord King, Earl Bathurst, and Sir William Rowley suffered se verely; the sashes and doors being demolished, the windows dashed in, and the iron railings broken down and converted into weapons for storming the street-doors. The houses of many other distinguished members of the legislature were injured in a greater or less degree.
The rioters, whatever care they might mean to take in selecting the victims of their fury, fell into various mistakes, and frequently broke the windows and assaulted the houses of persons who had nothing to do with the state measure which they resented so deeply. The following instances of such errors were ludicrous. Mr Morritt (member for Northallerton, and known to the literary world as the advocate of the Iliad against the criticisms of Bryant) had spoken in favour of the corn bill. From the similarity of the names, the mob visited with their vengeance the house of Mr Morris the Indian director; and the classical defender of Homer had his windows broken only by proxy. At another time the mob announced their next object of vengeance by shouting "Let's to Berkeley Paget's." A gentleman enquired what possible pretext they could have for attacking the house of a brave officer, who had no concern whatever with the corn-laws. It was replied by one of these sagacious orators, that the individual in question was no officer, but a brewer, and deeply concerned in grain speculations. An ecclaircissement ensued, and it was found out
that these "most sweet voices" had confounded Colonel Berkeley Paget, with Messrs Barclay, Perkins, and Co.
But the events of the 7th March were unfortunately not all of a ludicrous nature. A guard of soldiers had been posted in Mr Robinson's house, which, as we have said, had sustained the first fury of the mob on the preceding evening, and had again been visited by them in the course of the day. The guard were supported by some of that gentleman's servants, armed to protect what property their master had left, and to repel the riot. ers, who had repeatedly demanded to know where Mr Robinson was; and threatened death to him and all who protected him. About seven o'clock at night a party of the mob entered Burlington-street, and again attacked the ruins of Mr Robinson's house. The military, after warning them of their danger, and loading their pieces in their presence, at length fired from the windows. Several of the mob were wounded, but the persons killed were unfortunately a young midshipman named Vize, and a female called Jane Watson, innocent spectators of the tumult, if those can be termed entirely irreprehensible, who, though ga. zing on the mob out of mere curiosity, increase their confidence by giving an appearance of numbers, and put themselves in the way of danger from the means which at last must be used to suppress them. It is probable that no mob would ever appear so formidable as to defy the civil power, were the mass of idle, curious, and unthinking spectators to be withdrawn from the determined and active rioters. The deaths of these persons were not the less accidents deeply to be regretted, since, however prudent and proper it may be to repress the spirit of curiosity in such cases, it cannot
but be thought most natural to indulge it.
The riots did not cease even with this fatal accident. In the course of Wednesday (8th March) fresh outra ges were committed, and some for which no pretext whatever could be alledged. An attack was made on the house of Sir Joseph Banks, whose whole life had been devoted not to politics but to science, and some property and papers were destroyed. Fortunately, the arrival of the military saved the inexpressible loss to knowledge which might other wise have been sustained by the destruction of his library and scientific collections. Similar violence disgraced different parts of the metropolis; and it seemed that the audacity of the rioters increased with the forbearance of the soldiery, who conducted themselves with the most uncommon temper and discretion; hardly assuming even the blameless li cense of self-defence, though subjected to every species of outrage in language and action. In the meanwhile a scène passed in the House of Commons, which, though doubtless not so intended, must have led the mob to believe they were not without a friend and advocate even within the walls of that House.
On the forenoon of the 6th there had been a meeting of the electors in Old Palace-Yard for petitioning against the corn bill. Their representative, Sir Francis Burdett, seems (like the general who said he was a Venetian before he was a Christian) to have remembered that he was a landholder before he was a patriot, and therefore approved of the corn bill. But to have avouched such sentiments in the House of Commons would have risked his popularity with his constituents; and therefore, as a compromise between his opinion and his