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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.)

The British Government, spite of the issue of Sir John Moore's Campaign, make Alliance with Spain, and determine to prosecute the War there - The Affair of the Duke of York and Mary Anne Clarke - The Duke compelled to resign the Office of Commander-in-Chief - Discovery of corrupt Government Practices in various Departments - Charges against Lord Castlereagh, Spencer Perceval, and others - Sir Francis Burdett moves for Parliamentary Reform - Sir Arthur Wellesley appointed to command in the Spanish Peninsula - Proceeds to Lisbon - Drives Soult out of Oporto - Pursuit of Soult, harassed by the Peasants - He flies into Gallicia - Mr. Frere superseded by the Marquis of Wellesley - Sir Arthur advances into Spain - Joined by the Spanish General Cuesta - Ill-disposition of the Spaniards towards their English Allies - The Battle of Talavera - Shameful Conduct of the Spaniards in withholding Provisions - Sir Arthur Wellesley created Lord Wellington - He fixes his Camp at Viseu for the Winter - Austria declares War against France - Stupendous Preparations for War by England - The Walcheren Expedition - Port of Flushing destroyed - Capri taken by Murat - French Atrocities in Calabria - English take Ischia and Procida - Capture of the Ionian Isles by England - Revolution in Turkey - Russia declares War against Turkey - Defeated by the Turks - Capture of Danish and French West India and African Colonies - Last Victory and Death of Lord Collingwood - Destruction of French Ships in the Basque Roads by Lord Cochrane - War in Austria - Buonaparte defeated at Aspern - His Victory at Wagram - Austria makes Peace - Defeat of the Austrians by the Russians in Poland - Driven out of Italy by the French - The Pope carried to France, and his Territories annexed to French Italy - The Black Brunswickers - Rising against the French in the Tyrol - Andrew Hofer shot by order of Buonaparte - Resignation of the Portsmouth Ministry - Duel of Castlereagh and Canning - The Liverpool Ministry - Riots in London - Sir Francis Burdett committed to the Tower - Imprisonment of Gale Jones - Parliament prorogued, and Sir Francis Burdett and Gale Jones liberated - Campaign in Spain and Portugal - Battle of Busaco - Wellington's Retreat on Torres Vedras - Capture of the Isles of Bourbon and France, of Guadaloupe, in the West Indies; of the Dutch Settlements, Amboyna, and the Spice Islands - Failure of French Attempts on Sicily - Divorce of Josephine, and Marriage of Buonaparte with Maria Louisa of Austria - Deposition of Louis Buonaparte, and Annexation of Holland and the Hanse Towns to France - Insanity of George III., and Appointment of the Prince of Wales as Regent.
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The prospects of the European war at this juncture, as observed from England, were gloomy in the extreme. The dispersion of the armies of Spain, the retreat and death of Sir John Moore, leaving the whole of the Spanish and Portuguese peninsula under the feet of Buonaparte, disposed many to believe the power of the conqueror unassailable. The whig opposition made every use of this feeling to damage and, if possible, drive from office their rivals. That the whigs, in power, would have refrained from continental war any more than the tories is not to be believed. They had always, when in office, except, in the case of Fox, for a short interval, been as ready to fight and to vote enormous sums for the purpose; but they had generally conducted their campaigns with much less ability. Now, their great organ, the "Edinburgh Review," indulged in the most vehement censures on the cabinet; charged all the adverse circumstances of the Spanish and Portuguese war to its bad management, and intimated that it was the most wicked and idiotic folly to hope to contend with Buonaparte at all. But if ever there was a time when the continuance of the war was excusable, and perhaps necessary, it was now. England had gone fully and freely into the conflict to assist the continental nations. That this should not have been done is clear enough, and we have paid enough, and still must continue to pay enough, for the folly; but now they had pledged themselves to put down the common disturber; they had pledged themselves solemnly to Spain and Portugal, and to have withdrawn at this crisis' would have been equally treacherous to our allies and pusillanimous as regarded the enemy. It would have been, in fact, to proclaim to the world that we had been completely beaten out of the field, that we could not do what we had promised to our allies, and that Napoleon must be left the master of Europe, and the dictator to England. Such a confession would have destroyed for ever the prestige of England, and justly. Ministers felt this, and never were more resolved to persevere to the end. To show that they did not for a moment despair, they signed a treaty of peace and amity with Spain only five days after the arrival of the news of the retreat and death of Sir John Moore, binding themselves never to acknowledge the authority of Buonaparte over Spain, or of any family but of Ferdinand VII. and his lineal successors. That they were supported in their views by parliament was soon made evident by the rejection, by a majority of two hundred and eight against one hundred and fifty-eight, a motion of lord Henry Petty for censuring the convention of Cintra, and, by a majority of two hundred and twenty against one hundred and twenty-seven, a motion of Mr. Ponsonby for an inquiry into the conduct of the late campaign in Spain. Ministers had, at length, satisfied themselves that they had in Sir Arthur Wellesley a man capable of contending against the, haughty tyrant of Europe. The most liberal votes were made for the prosecution of the war. The total of supplies for the year amounted to fifty-three million eight hundred and sixty-two thousand pounds, including a loan of eleven million pounds. For the army twenty-seven million pounds was voted, and for the navy nineteen million pounds. Between twenty and thirty thousand men were drafted from the militia into the regulars, and thus the army was augmented to that amount by soldiers already well trained. The loan was freely taken at a lower interest than any hitherto borrowed - the opposition asserted, because trade was deranged, and capitalists were at a loss how to invest their money; but the ministers contended, on the other hand, that it was solely because the war was popular with the nation. Before, however, entering into its arduous and bloody details, we must narrate some disgraceful affairs at home.

On the 27th of January colonel Wardle, a militia officer, rose in his place in the house of commons, and made some startling charges against the duke of York, as commander- in-chief of the army. Wardle had been a zealous conservative, but had now changed his politics, and was acting with the party of extreme reformers headed by Sir Francis Burdett, lord Folkstone, and others. He was a Welshman, and had married a Welsh lady of large fortune, and was living in a very fashionable style, and, in fact, fast spending his wife's money. Being what is called a "gay" man himself, he might be supposed to know what was going on in that class of society; and his charge was that the duke of York was keeping a mistress, named Mary Anne Clarke, a married woman, to the great scandal of the nation, and was allowing her to traffic in commissions and promotions in the army, very much in the style of lady Marlborough when her husband was in a similar position. Nor was this all: he asserted that, not in the army alone, but in the church, this public adulteress was conferring promotions, through her influence with the duke, and that she had quite a levee of clergy, who were soliciting and bribing her to procure livings, and even bishoprics. These were sufficiently exciting statements, and the colonel demanded a committee of inquiry to enable him to prove his assertions. Sir Francis Burdett seconded the motion; and the proposal was not met - as it should have been by ministers or the duke's friends - by a denial, but, in general, by a eulogium on the duke's excellent discharge of his duties as commander-in-chief. Some few - as Mr. Yorke - treated it as a gross conspiracy, introduced by men inspired by jacobinical principles; but lord Castlereagh and the leading conservatives satisfied themselves with warm praises of the duke's improvement of the condition of the army. That this was the case was asserted by a great authority, Sir Arthur Wellesley, who declared that the duke had found the army one of the worst, and had brought it to be one of the best, in Europe. This was, so far as it went," a substantial set-off against the charge, but it did not meet it; and, in fact, the charge was too notoriously true, so far as the influence of the mistress over the duke went. The charge, however, extended further than this; it went to implicate the duke in the participation of the profits of this abominable traffic. The scandal of the immorality of the connection was little thought of - such relations were too common, not only in high life, but amongst the sons of the moral George and Charlotte. Wilberforce alone appeared disturbed at it, and, for the sake of decency, proposed that the committee should be a select committee, and thus avoid the impure details, which must have a most evil effect on the morals of the public. Canning declared that infamy must attach somewhere; it must attach either to the accused or the accuser. The house determined that, wherever the infamy was to fall, it should have the full airing of a committee of the whole house, which was appointed to commence its inquiries on Wednesday, the 1st of February, the duke intimating, through his friends, that he was, on his part, desirous of the fullest investigation of the matter.

Accordingly, Mrs. Clarke was called before the house at the time appointed, and made her appearance at the bar with equal gracefulness of manner, of wit, and impudence. Her obeisance to the house on her entry was declared to be in the highest style of theatrical grace, and she seemed to take the members at once captive by her fascinations. These did not consist in youth or beauty, for she was no longer young, having lived for years under the so-called protection of one gentleman or other, some of whom she was said to have utterly ruined by her extravagance. It appeared that she was the daughter of a working printer, and the wife of a bricklayer or builder; but she had plenty of smartness of mind, and unabashed assurance of manner. She glanced around amongst the members, amongst whom there were various of her old paramours, and the recognition that her speaking looks gave them at once pointed them out. Her examination continued for days, and the wit and cleverness of her replies, and the cool and good-humoured style of her demeanour - never ruffled, never put out, but giving keen hits in return for any exposures which were made of her conduct - carried not only the members out of than decorum, but made her at once an object of intense curiosity out of doors. Mrs. Clarke was the heroine of the day. The reformers regarded her as one of themselves, because she was helping them to expose the duke, who had been a steady enemy of every innovation in church and state. They were willing to forget that she had been doing her best, so long as the duke continued his connection with her, to abuse the institutions of the country, and to enrich herself by the worst corruptions. Wherever she appeared on her way to and from the house, she was followed and surrounded by crowds, who rushed pell-mell to get a sight of her, as though she had been the most virtuous woman in the country. She was sung all over London in admiring ballads; the boys ceased to cry " heads or tails " at chuck-farthing, but " duke or darling," because a Miss Mary Anne Taylor, on her examination, said she had often heard the duke call Mrs. Clarke " darling." The speaker of the house found it almost impossible to preserve order, such was the laughter and applause of the members at the witty sallies or cutting retorts of the charming adulteress - an epithet at which she only smiled pleasantly when incidentally applied to her by the counsel. The following jeu d'esprit of the amiable Mary Anne convulse 1 the house with laughter. A Mr. Taylor, the duke's shoemaker, of Bond-street, had been employed by him as go-between, and he had taken a fine house for her in Gloucester Place, and furnished it by the duke's orders. When the attorney-general asked her who brought her a particular message, she replied - " A particular friend of the duke's." "Who was he?" asked the attorney-general. - " Mr Taylor," she replied, " the shoemaker of Bond-street." (At this there was a laugh.) " By whom did you send your address to the duke? " - " By my own pen." " I mean, who carried the letter?" - "The same ambassador." "What ambassador?" - "Why, the ambassador of Morocco!'1'1 It was in vain, at this reply, that the speaker thundered, " Order! order! " and threatened Mrs. Clarke with the displeasure of the house.

It appeared very clear that the duke had permitted her to traffic in the sale of commissions, and both Mrs. Clarke and Mary Anne Taylor, whose brother was married to Mrs. Clarke's sister, asserted that the duke had received part of the money for some of these bargains. Sums of one thousand pounds, of five hundred pounds, and two hundred pounds had been paid to her for such services. She had not only made her brother, but her foot-boy an officer in the army; and the bargainings with the clergy were particularly scandalous - the particulars of which may be seen in all the newspapers of the time, and in the "Edinburgh Annual Register" of 1809.

Unfortunately, however, for the continuance of the popularity of Mrs. Clarke, it appeared that she was now actually living in the keeping of this virtuous colonel Wardle, who was thus chastising royal peccadilloes. The whole of the circumstances did not come out whilst the question was before the house of commons, but enough to injure the credit irreparably of colonel Wardle, and make Mrs. Clarke's evidence more than ever suspicious. The full information was brought out by a trial instituted by a Mr. Wright, an upholsterer, in Rathbone Place, for furnishing a new house for her in Westbourne Place. She had now quarrelled with colonel Wardle, and he refused to pay the bill. Wardle, it appeared, had done his best to stop the coming on of the trial, but in vain; Mrs. Clarke appeared against him, and not only deposed that he had gone with her to order the goods, but told her it was in return for her aid in prosecuting the duke of York's case. Wardle was cast on the trial, with costs, having about two thousand pounds to pay, and losing all the popularity that he had gained by the investigation. He had been publicly thanked by public meetings, both in the city and the country, and now came this rueful expose.

Serjeant Best, who conducted the trial for Wardle, said he was sure that, had she made such an exhibition of herself as she had done on that trial before the colonel had brought his charge against the duke of York on her authority, he would never have done it. But it was too late now to save the duke's reputation. The house of commons had concluded its examination in March. It acquitted the duke of any participation in the vile profits on the sale of commissions with his artful mistress, but that she had made such there was no question; and Wilberforce gave great offence to the royal family by declaring that this was not a time, when all the countries on the continent were lying at the feet of Buonaparte, for our commander-in-chief to be a man so easily made the dupe of a woman; that the French emperor stuck at no means of gaining his ends, and he could afford to pay an insinuating woman at an enormous price - at that of making a duchess or a princess of her - who should be able to get into the confidence of such a commander, and draw from him the most important secrets of the state. The duke did not await the decision of the commons, but resigned his office. Lord Althorpe, in moving that, as the duke had resigned, the proceedings should go no further, said that the duke had lost the confidence of the country for ever, and therefore there was no chance of his ever returning to that situation. This was the conclusion to which the house came on the 21st of March, and, soon after, Sir David Dundas was appointed to succeed the duke as commander-in-chief, much to the chagrin of the army, and equally to its detriment. The duke, though, like some of his brothers, very profligate, and, like them - according to a statement made during the debates on his case - capable, as a youth, of learning either Greek or arithmetic, but not the value of money, seems to have discharged his duty to the army extremely well, of which old general Dundas was wholly incapable.

The corruptions connected with the duke of York and his mistress were but a small fragment of the wide and universal system which was existing. The exposures, however, made by this inquiry induced the chancellor of the exchequer to bring in a bill to prevent such abuses. He referred to the sale of commissions which had been brought to light, and which had been carried on by means of improper influence over a man in high office; His bill, therefore, went to make it extremely penal to demand money for the appointment to office, or to issue advertisements to that effect. The bill was passed.

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