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But the most important operations were at this moment taking place in the south between Dupont and Casta?os. Casta?os was quartered at Utrera with twenty thousand men. Dupont had been ordered by Murat to march from Madrid into the south-west, and make himself master of the important post of Cadiz. After a countermand, he again advanced in that direction, and had crossed the Sierra Morena, so celebrated in the romance of "Don Quixote," and reached the ancient city of Cordova. There he received the news that Cadiz had risen against the French, and had seized the French squadron lying in the bay, and, at the same time, that Seville was in the highest state of insurrection. Whilst pausing in uncertainty of what course to pursue, Casta?os advanced from Utrera towards the higher part of the Guadalquivir. If Dupont had rushed forward to attack Casta?os at Utrera, he would have done it under great disadvantages. He was cut off from the main French army by the Sierra Morena, and these mountains being occupied by the insurgent inhabitants, he would have no chance of falling back in case of disaster. He now advanced to Andujar, which he reached on the 18th of June, having had to fight his way through bands of fiery patriots.On the passage, the squadron of Sir John Warren came in sight of the French fleet of Villaret-Joyeuse, of nine ships of the line, but it bore away, and left them to pursue their course. They entered the Bay of Quiberon on the 25th of June and, after much wrangling as to the best situation for landing, they put the troops ashore at the village of Carnac. There they were immediately joined by Georges Cadoudal, d'Allgre, Dubois-Berthollet, and other Chouan chiefs, with about four thousand or five thousand of their wild and bandit-looking soldiers. Along with the Chouans came troops of peasants, crying "Vive le Roi!" and bringing in abundance of fresh eggs, poultry, and other provisions. Puisaye was delighted, and felt confident that all Brittany was ready to rise. But this delusion was soon dissipated. The Emigrants, accustomed to regular armies, looked with contempt on this wild and ragged band, and they, on their part, were not restrained, on the landing of the arms and uniforms, from seizing and carrying them off, without much exertion on the part of Puisaye. There was danger of bloodshed. At length, in about a couple of days, ten thousand of them were put into red coats, and furnished with muskets. But fatal dissensions prevented all operations. Puisaye proposed to march up the country, seize different towns, such as Vannes and Rennes, and take up their position behind the Mayenne; but d'Hervilly refused to march till the troops were formed into regular regiments, and the Emigrants joined him in despising the Chouans, and in complaining that they had not been taken to La Vende to join Charette. Puisaye and d'Hervilly also disputed the supreme command, and Puisaye had to dispatch letters to London, to Count d'Artois, on the subject. At length, after five days had been wasted in this contention, Puisaye proposed that they should endeavour to carry Fort Penthivre, which stood on a small peninsula on Quiberon Bay, and was united to the main land by a sandy isthmus. To this d'Hervilly consented, and Sir John Warren agreed to support him in the attempt. On the 1st of July Warren began to bombard the fort, and on the 3rd, the place being warmly assailed by both the British and the Chouans, the Republicans surrendered. Meanwhile, Puisaye had sent off emissaries all over Brittany, to rouse Scpeaux, Charette, Stofflet, and the rest of the insurgent chiefs. The news of the landing had flown all over Brittany in a few days, and the Royalists were full of joy.
The Home Secretary thus refers to a letter of Lord Eldon, written to his daughter soon after the event, as follows:"After observing, 'Nothing is talked of now which interests anybody the least in the world, except the election of Mr. O'Connell,' he makes these memorable remarks:'As Mr. O'Connell will not, though elected, be allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons unless he will take the oaths, etc. (and that he won't do unless he can get absolution), his rejection from the Commons may excite rebellion in Ireland. At all events, this business must bring the Roman Catholic question, which has been so often discussed, to a crisis and a conclusion. The nature of that conclusion I do not think likely to be favourable to Protestantism.' It is clear, therefore," continues Mr. Peel, "that Lord Eldon was fully alive to the real character and magnitude of the event."
During this Session, also, an important Bill was passed for the relief of Roman Catholics. The Bill was introduced by Mr. Mitford and seconded by Mr. Windham. Mr. Mitford showed that the enactments still in force against them occupied, by mere recital of their penalties, seventy pages of "Burn's Ecclesiastical Law." Priests were still guilty of high treason and liable to death for endeavouring to convert people to the tenets they deemed essential to salvation; and the laity were liable to heavy penalties for not going to church, and for hearing Mass at their own chapels. The Bill was supported by Pitt and Fox, by Lord Rawdon, by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Moore), and by Dr. Horsley, Bishop of St. David's. It passed. By this Act all the severe restrictions and penalties were removed from those Roman Catholics who would comply with its requisitions, to appear at one of the courts of Westminster, or at quarter sessions, and make and subscribe a declaration that they professed the Roman Catholic religion, and also an oath exactly similar to that required by the Statute of 1778. On this declaration and oath being duly made, they were enabled to profess and perform the offices of their religion, to keep schools, to exercise parochial or other offices in person or by deputy, and the ministers of that religion were exempt from serving on juries and from parochial offices. Their congregations were protected from disturbance; but their priests were restrained from officiating in places consecrated to the burial of Protestants, and from wearing their habits anywhere but in their own places of worship. They were also restrained from establishing religious orders; and the endowment of schools and colleges was still to be deemed unlawful. No person could in future be summoned to take the Oath of Supremacy and the declaration against Transubstantiation; nor were Roman Catholics who had qualified removable from London and Westminster, or punishable for coming into the presence or palace of the king or queen. They were no longer obliged to register their names and estates, or enrol their deeds and wills; and every Roman Catholic who had duly qualified might act as barrister, attorney, or notary.
Warren Hastings was summoned to the bar, and there kneeling, the Lord Chancellor, Thurlow, intimated the charge against him, and assured him that, as a British subject, he would receive full justice from the highest British court. Hastings replied, in a clear and firm voice, that he had the highest confidence in the justice and integrity of that august court. The clerks of the court then commenced reading the charges against him, and the answers to them, and this reading occupied the whole of that day and the following one; and on the third, Burke rose to deliver his opening speech. This occupied the whole of four days, beginning on the 15th, and terminating on the 19th of February. The effect of that speech, notwithstanding its enormous length, was such as had scarcely ever been witnessed in a court of justice before. As he detailed the horrors practised by Hastings on the princes and people of India, both the orator and his audience were convulsed with terror and agitation. Ladies fainted away in the galleries; Mrs. Sheridan, amongst others, had to be carried out insensible: the faces of the strongest men, as well as of the more sensitive women, were flushed with emotion, or bathed in tears. In his peroration Burke far exceeded even himself. He appeared raised, enlarged into something ethereal by his subject, and his voice seemed to shake the very walls and roof of that ancient court. Finally, he exclaimed:"I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours. I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed. I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate. I impeach him in the name, and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated. I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life. And I conjure this high and sacred court to let not these proceedings be heard in vain." Such was the effect of this wonderful torrent of eloquence that Hastings himself said, "For half an hour I looked up at the orator in a reverie of wonder; and during that space I actually felt myself the most culpable man on earth; but I recurred to my own bosom, and there found a consciousness that consoled me under all I heard and all I suffered."
D'Estaing, who expected to have taken the place with little trouble, greatly alarmed lest the English should seize most of the French West Indian islands in his absence, urged an assault contrary to the wishes of Lincoln, and this was made on the 9th of October. The forces, five thousand eight hundred in number, were led on in two columns, but they were received by such a raking fire from walls and redoubts, and from the brig flanking the right of the British lines, that they were thrown back in confusion; and before D'Estaing and Lincoln could restore order, Colonel Maitland made a general sortie with fixed bayonets, and the whole attacking force fled in utter rout. D'Estaing would now remain no longer, but re-embarked his forces, and sailed away, to the unspeakable chagrin of the Americans, who retreated in all haste, the greater part of the militia breaking up and returning home.Such contradictions between the laws of a family and the fundamental laws of a State are a fertile source of other contradictions between public and private morality, giving rise consequently to a perpetual conflict in every individual mind. For whilst private morality inspires fear and subjection, public morality teaches courage and freedom; whilst the former inculcates the restriction of well-doing to a small number of persons indiscriminately, the latter inculcates its extension to all classes of men; and whilst the one enjoins the constant sacrifice of self to a vain idol, called the good of the family (which is frequently not the good of any single member that composes it), the other teaches men to benefit themselves, provided they break not the laws, and incites them, by the reward of enthusiasm, which is the precursor of their action, to sacrifice themselves to the good of their country. Such contradictions make men scorn to follow virtue, which they find so complicated and confused, and at that distance from them, which objects, both moral and physical, derive from their obscurity. How often it happens that a man, in reflecting on his past actions, is astonished at finding himself dishonest. The larger society grows, the smaller fraction of the whole does each member of it become, and the more is the feeling of the commonwealth diminished, unless care be taken by the laws to reinforce it. Societies, like human bodies, have their circumscribed limits, extension beyond which involves inevitably a disturbance of their economy. The size of a State ought apparently to vary inversely with the sensibility of its component parts; otherwise, if both increase together, good laws will find, in the very benefit they have effected, an obstacle to the prevention of crimes. Too large a republic can only save itself from despotism by a process of subdivision, and a union of the parts into so many federative republics. But how effect this, save by a despotic dictator with the courage of Sylla and as much genius for construction as he had for destruction? If such a man be ambitious, the glory of all the ages awaits him; and if he be a philosopher, the blessings of his fellow-citizens will console him for the loss of his authority, even should he not become indifferent to their ingratitude. In proportion as the feelings which unite us to our own nation are weakened, do those for the objects immediately around us gain in strength; and it is for this reason that under the severest despotism the strongest friendships are to be found, and that the family virtues, ever of an exalted character, are either the most common or the only ones. It is evident, therefore, how limited have been the views of the great majority of legislators.