The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, Etc., Etc.
Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald

Part 2 out of 6

Lord Cochrane never really intended to attempt a second escape. Had it
been otherwise, the illness induced by his confinement in the Strong
Room would have restrained him. Being placed in healthier apartments
on the 16th of April, he quietly remained there for the remainder of
his term of imprisonment. On the 20th of June he was informed that,
the term being now at an end, he was at liberty to depart on payment
of the fine of 1000_l._ levied against him. This he at first refused
to do, and accordingly he was detained in prison for a fortnight more;
but at length the entreaties of his friends prevailed. On the 3rd of
July he tendered to the Marshal of the King's Bench a 1000_l._ note,
with this memorable endorsement: "My health having suffered by long
and close confinement, and my oppressors being resolved to deprive
me of property or life, I submit to robbery to protect myself from
murder, in the hope that I shall live to bring the delinquents to
justice." Upon that the prison doors were opened for him, and he was
able once more to fight for the justice so cruelly withheld from
him, and to make his innocence entirely clear to all whose selfish
interests did not force them to be blind to the truth.




Released from imprisonment on Monday, the 3rd of July, Lord Cochrane
resumed his seat in the House of Commons on the evening of the
same day, just in time to secure the defeat of a measure which was
especially obnoxious to his Radical friends. The Duke of Cumberland
having lately married a daughter of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,
it was proposed to augment his income of about 20,000_l._ a year by
a further pension of 6000_l._ A bill to that effect was brought in by
Lord Castlereagh, and, after much sullen opposition from independent
members, allowed a first reading by a majority of seventeen. On the
second division the majority was reduced to twelve. The bill was
brought on for the third reading on the 3rd of July, and would have
been passed through the House of Commons by the Speaker's casting vote
but for Lord Cochrane's sudden appearance. His vote secured a majority
against it, and thereby it was finally overthrown. Great, on the
morrow, were the rejoicings of his supporters. "What a triumph," it
was said in a friendly newspaper, "is this to innocence! After being
sentenced to the scandalous and disgraceful punishment of the pillory,
after being confined in a loathsome dungeon, fined 1000_l._ in money
to the king, disgracefully removed from that service in which he had
attained such high honours and rendered to his country such essential
service, his escutcheon kicked out of Westminster Abbey, his order
of knighthood taken from him; in short, after having every possible
indignity which the most malignant imagination could invent heaped
upon him in every way, his single vote, on the very first day of his
returning to his parliamentary duties, has been the means of obtaining
a signal victory over those under whose persecution he had been so
long suffering."

The one victory upon which Lord Cochrane set his heart, however--the
reversal of the unjust sentence passed upon him, and the consequent
restoration of the honours and offices that were now doubly dear to
him--he was not able to obtain. On the 6th of July, just before the
prorogation of Parliament, he gave notice that, early in the next
session, he should move for the appointment of a committee to inquire
into the conduct of Lord Ellenborough and others towards him during
the Stock Exchange trial. In arranging for this new effort at
self-justification, he was partly occupied during the ensuing autumn
and winter, and the question was brought prominently before the House
of Commons in the spring of 1816; only to issue, however, in further
injustice and disappointment.

His purpose from the first was, of course, virtually the impeachment
of Lord Ellenborough; and that object was yet more apparent from the
altered shape which the question assumed when introduced in the new
session. During the recess, Lord Cochrane, with the help of advisers,
some of whom were more zealous than wise, William Cobbett being the
chief, had prepared an elaborate series of "charges of partiality,
misrepresentation, injustice, and oppression against the Lord Chief
Justice;" and these were formally introduced to the House of Commons
on the 5th of March. "When I recollect," said Lord Cochrane on that
occasion, "the imputations cast upon my character, and circulated
industriously previous to any legal proceedings, the conduct pursued
at my trial, the verdict obtained, the ineffectual endeavours; to
procure a revision of my case in the Court of King's Bench, and the
infamous sentence there pronounced, together with my expulsion from
this House without being suffered to expose its injustice--when I call
to mind my dismissal from a service in which I have spent the fairest
portion of my life, at least without reproach, and my illegal and
unmerited deprivation of the order of the Bath--it is impossible
to speak without emotion. I have but one course now left to pursue,
namely, to show that the charge of the Lord Chief Justice, on which he
directed the jury to decide, was not only unsupported by, but was
in direct contradiction to, the evidence on which it professed to
be founded. This is the best course to pursue both in justice to the
learned judge and to myself. Either I am unfit to sit in this House,
or the judge has no right to his place on the bench. I have courted
investigation in every shape; and I trust that the learned lord will
not shrink from it or suffer his friends on the opposite side to evade
the consideration of these charges by 'the previous question.'"

Lord Cochrane thereupon tendered to the House thirteen charges against
Lord Ellenborough, in which every point of importance in the Stock
Exchange trial was minutely detailed and discussed; and these charges
being read, therein occupying nearly three hours, were ordered to be
printed. A fourteenth charge, bearing upon Lord Ellenborough's conduct
subsequent to the trial, was introduced on the 29th of March; but
this, as it included aspersions upon the character of another judge,
Sir Simon Le Blanc, was objected to and withdrawn. There was further
discussion on the subject on the 1st and the 29th of April; but not
much was done until the 30th of April.

On that evening, Lord Cochrane formally moved that his charges against
Lord Ellenborough should be referred to a Committee of the whole
House, and that evidence in support of them should be heard at the
bar. A lengthy discussion then ensued, the most notable speeches
being made by the Solicitor-General, Sir Francis Burdett, and the

The Solicitor-General of course opposed the motion. "As the House, on
the one hand," he said, "should jealously watch over the conduct of
judges, so, on the other, it should protect them when deserving of
protection, not only as a debt of justice due to the judges, but as
a debt due to justice herself, in order that the public confidence in
the purity of the administration of our laws may not be disappointed,
and that the course of that administration may continue the admiration
of the world; for, unless the judges are protected in the exercise of
their functions, the public opinion of the excellence of our laws will
be inevitably weakened,--and to weaken public opinion is to weaken
justice herself."

That sort of argument, too frivolous and faulty, it might be supposed,
to influence any one, had weight with the House of Commons to which it
was addressed; and the Solicitor-General adduced much more of it.
To him the spotless character of Lord Ellenborough appeared to be an
ample defence against Lord Cochrane's charges. "Never," he said, with
a truthfulness that posterity can appreciate, "never was there an
individual at the bar or on the bench less liable to the imputation
of corrupt motives; never was there one more remarkable for
independence--I will say, sturdy independence--of character, than the
noble and learned lord. For twelve years he has presided on the bench
with unsullied honour, displaying a perfect knowledge of the
law; evincing as much legal knowledge as was ever amassed by any
individual; and now, in the latter part of his life, when he has
arrived at the highest dignity to which a man can arrive, by a
promotion well-earned at the bar, and doubly well-earned at the bench,
we are told that he has sacrificed all his honours by acting from
corrupt motives!"

Sir Francis Burdett replied effectively to the speeches of the
Solicitor-General and others who sided with him, and nobly defended
his friend. He showed that the proposal to refuse investigation of
this case because it might weaken the cause of justice, by making the
conduct of the administrators of justice contemptible, was worse than
frivolous. "Such language," he averred, "would operate against the
investigation of any charges whatever against any judge; would indeed
form a barrier against the exercise of the best privilege of this
House--the privilege of inquiring into the conduct of courts of
justice. It would serve equally well to shelter even those judges
who have been dragged from the bench for their misconduct." He then
reviewed the incidents of the Stock Exchange trial, and urged that
Lord Cochrane had good reason for bringing forward his charges. "The
question for the House to consider is, 'Do these charges, if admitted,
contain criminal matter for the consideration of the House?' I
conceive that they do. No doubt the judges who condemned Russell and
Sidney were, at the time, spoken of as men of high character, who
could not be supposed to suffer any base motives to influence their
conduct. Such arguments as those ought to be banished from this House.
It is our duty to look, with constitutional suspicion on jealousy, on
the proceedings of the judges; and, when a grave charge is solemnly
brought forward, justice to the country, as well as to the judge,
demands an inquiry into it."

That, however, was refused. After a long speech from the
Attorney-General, and an eloquent reply by Lord Cochrane, the House
divided on the motion. Eighty-nine members voted against it. Its only
supporters were Sir Francis Burdett and Lord Cochrane himself. Not
only did the House refuse to listen to the allegations against Lord
Ellenborough; in the excess of its devotion to such law and such order
as the Government of the day appointed, it even resolved that all the
entries in its record of proceedings which referred to this subject
should be expunged from the journals. Lord Cochrane made no
resistance to this further insult thrown upon him. "It gives me great
satisfaction," he said, in the brief and dignified speech with which
he closed the discussion, "to think that the vote which has been come
to has been come to without any of my charges having been disproved.
Whatever may be done with them now, they will find their way to
posterity, and posterity will form a different judgment concerning
them than that which has been adopted by this House. So long as I have
a seat in this House, however, I will continue to bring them forward,
year by year and time after time, until I am allowed the opportunity
of establishing the truth of my allegations."

Other occupations prevented the full realization of that purpose. But
to the end of his life Lord Cochrane used every occasion of asserting
his innocence and courting a full investigation of all the incidents
on which his assertion was based. Posterity, as he truly prophesied,
has learnt to endorse his judgment; and therefore, in the ensuing
pages, it will not be necessary to adduce from his letters and actions
more than occasional illustrations of the temper which animated him
throughout with reference to this heaviest of all his heavy troubles.

By these troubles, however, even in the time of their greatest
pressure, he was not overcome; and in the midst of them he found time
and heart for active labour in the good work of various sorts that was
always dear to him. He used the advantages of his liberty in striving
to perfect the invention of improved street lamps and lighting
material that had occupied him while in prison, and to procure their
general adoption. His place in Parliament, moreover, all through the
session of 1816, was employed not only in seeking justice for himself,
but also in furthering every project advanced for benefiting the
community and checking the pernicious action of the Government. A
zealous, honest Whig before, he was now as zealous and as honest
as ever in all his political conduct. And his devotion to the best
interests of the people was yet more apparent in his unflagging
labours, out of Parliament, for the public good. His great abilities,
rendered all the more prominent by the cruel persecution to which he
had been and still was subjected, made him a leading champion of the
people during the turmoil to which misgovernment at home, and the
distracted state of foreign politics, gave a special stimulus in 1816.

A long list might be made of the great meetings which he attended,
and took part in, both among his own constituents of Westminster
and elsewhere, for the consideration of popular grievances and their
remedies. One such meeting, attended by Henry Brougham and Sir Francis
Burdett among others, was held in Palace Yard, Westminster, on the
1st of March, for the purpose of petitioning Parliament against the
renewal of the property-tax and the maintenance of a standing army in
time of peace. Lord Cochrane, the hero of the day, on account of "the
spirit of opposition which he had shown to the infringement of the
constitution and the grievances of the people," won for himself new
favour by the boldness with which he denounced the policy of the
Government, which, boasting that it was ruining the French nation, was
at the same time bringing misery also upon Englishmen by the excessive
taxation and the reckless extravagance to which it resorted.

A smaller, but much more momentous meeting assembled at the City
of London Tavern on the 29th of July, under the auspices of the
Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor.
Instigated in a spirit of praiseworthy charity by many of the most
influential persons of the day, it was used by Lord Cochrane for the
enforcement of the views as to public right and public duty, and the
mutual relations of the rich and the poor, which were forced upon him
by his recent troubles, and the relations in which he was at this time
placed with some over-zealous champions of popular reform, and some
unreasonable exponents of popular grievances. That his conduct on this
occasion was extravagant and even factious, he afterwards heartily
regretted. Yet as a memorable illustration of the power and
earnestness with which he fought for what seemed to him to be right,
as well with word as with sword, its details, as reported at the time,
may be here set forth at length.

About half-past one o'clock the Duke of York entered and took
the chair, supported on his right by the Duke of Kent, and on
his left by the Duke of Cambridge. He was accompanied on
his entrance by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of
London, the Duke of Rutland, Lord Manvers, the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, Mr. Wilberforce, and other distinguished

His Royal Highness the Duke of York immediately
proceeded to open the business of the day, by observing that the
present meeting had been called to consider and, as far as possible,
to alleviate the present distress and sufferings of the labouring
classes of the community. These distresses were, he feared, too well
known to all who heard him to require any description; and all he
had to add to the bare statement of them was the expression of his
confidence that the liberality which had been so signally manifested
in the course of foreign distress would not be found wanting when the
direction of it was to be towards the comfort and relief of our own
countrymen at home.

THE DUKE OF KENT, after alluding to the exertions of the Committee of
1812, observed that the immediate object was to raise a fund, in
the subsequent accumulation and management of which many ulterior
arrangements might be projected, and from which charity might soon
emanate in a thousand directions. He doubted not that every county and
every town would be quick to imitate the example of the metropolis.
The association of 1812 had at least the merit of producing this
effect, and had spread through the whole land that spirit of active
benevolence which he was feebly invoking on this occasion. He trusted
that it was necessary for him to say but little more to insure the
adoption of the resolution which he should have the honour to propose.
He confessed he felt gratified when he saw so great a concourse of
his countrymen assembled together for such a purpose, and additional
gratification at seeing by whom they were supported. He was sure,
then, that he should not plead in vain to the national liberality; but
that the remedy would be promptly afforded to an evil which he trusted
would be found but temporary. If they should be so happy as but to
succeed in discovering new sources of employment to supply the place
of those channels which had been suddenly shut up, he should
indeed despond if we did not soon restore the country to that
same flourishing condition which had long made her the envy of
the world. The royal Duke then moved the first resolution,
as follows:--"That the transition from a state of extensive
warfare to a system of peace has occasioned a stagnation of
employment and a revulsion of trade, deeply affecting the
situation of many parts of the community, and producing many
instances of great local distress."

The resolution was seconded by Mr. Harman.

Lord Cochrane offered himself to the attention of the meeting,
but was for some time unable to proceed, his voice being lost
in the huzzas and hisses which his presence called forth.
Silence being at length in some measure obtained, his lordship
said he would not have addressed the meeting but that, having
received a circular letter from the committee, and feeling
the importance of the subject, he would have thought it a
dereliction of his duty if he refrained from attending. He
rose thus early because the observations he had to submit
would not be suitable if made when the other resolutions were
put. The first resolution was, in his opinion, founded on
a gross fallacy; and this was his reason for saying so. The
existing distresses could not be truly ascribed to any sudden
transition from war to peace. Could it be pretended that it
was peace which had occasioned the fall in the value of all
agricultural produce? Or could any man venture to assert that
the difficulties and sufferings of the manufacturing classes
had any other cause than a prodigious and enormous burthen of
taxation? He was much gratified at seeing the royal Dukes so
active in promoting a generous and laudable undertaking, and
he hoped he should not be understood as treating them with
disrespect when he repeated that the resolution was founded
on an entire fallacy. But, not to content himself with a mere
assertion of his own belief,
he had brought official documents to prove the correctness
of his statements; and if he should be wrong, he saw the
Chancellor of the Exchequer near him, who would have the
opportunity of correcting his misrepresentation. This brief
statement, he believed, would be quite sufficient to show that
the financial situation of the country was such as to render
any attempts of that meeting for the purpose of extending
general relief utterly ineffectual. The whole revenue of the
kingdom was 62,267,450_l._, deducting the property-tax, and
the revenue was thus expended. The interest of the national
debt, including the interest of unfunded exchequer bills, was
upwards of 40,300,000_l._, leaving to support the expenses of
Government only about 22,000,000_l._ It was this enormous sum
which now hung round our necks--it was this, which unnecessary
extravagance had caused to increase from year to year to its
present terrible amount, which was the cause of all the
evils of the country at this moment. This taxation, and
extravagance, for which the country was now suffering, was
supported and sanctioned by those who had derived and still
derived large emoluments from them. These were truths that
the people ought to know; for they were the source of their
burthens, and the origin of all the mischief. It was this
profuse expenditure of the public money, to say no worse of
it, that occasioned the present calamities. It was the lavish
expenditure to meet a compliant list of placemen that brought
the country to its present state. The deficiency in the
revenue occasioned by the enormous interest of the national
debt, which ministers would have to supply, would, according
to the present disbursements and receipts, amount to
11,578,000_l._ unless that expenditure were reduced, every
such attempt as they were at present making would, he was
convinced, prove abortive: it was a mere topical application
while a mortal distemper was raging within. He had taken
no notice in his estimate of the charges for sinecures or
the bounties on exports and imports: and yet the returns upon
which he went, exclusive of these charges, showed a deficit
for the ensuing year of 3,500,000_l._ Were those who heard him
prepared to make this good? It was, he believed, undeniable
that nothing could equalize our revenue with our expenditure,
but the putting down entirely the army and navy, or the
extinction of one half of the national debt; but when he
looked to the actual receipt of the last quarter and found
a falling off of 2,400,000_l._, which, with a corresponding
decrease in the three succeeding quarters, must create a new
deficit of 10,000,000_l._, and, added to the 3,500,000_l._
to which he had alluded, would form a sum equal to the whole
amount of the boasted sinking-fund, he felt that it was worse
than trifling to suppose we could go on upon the present
system. Were they prepared to make up this enormous
deficiency? [A voice from the crowd cried "Yes."] He was happy
to hear it: he supposed it was some fund-holder who answered,
and if any class could do so, it was the fund-holders. They
alone had the ability, they alone now derived any returns
from their property; but even if they should be both able and
willing, still it would only remain a positive deficit made
good, and no new facility would be derived for alleviating
the existing burthens. The burthens and distresses must
still remain what they were before. He spoke not now upon
conjecture, or loose calculation, he had brought his authority
with him. These were the records from which he derived his
statements--the official returns of the Treasury; and
if false, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was present to
contradict them. He was glad, he confessed, to see him, for
those who heard him were, no doubt, aware that it was not
always in the House of Commons that a minister could discover
the genuine sentiments of the people. If, therefore, no other
person should move an amendment, he should feel it his duty
to propose an omission of that part of the resolution which
ascribed the distressed state of the country to the transition
from a state of war to a state of peace, and to state the
cause to be an enormous debt, and a lavish expenditure. He had
come there with the expectation of seeing the Duke of Rutland
in the chair; and with some hopes, as he took the lead upon
this occasion, that it was his intention to surrender that
sinecure of 9,000_l._ a-year which he was now in the habit
of putting in his pocket. He still trusted that all who were
present and were also holders of sinecures had it in their
intention to sacrifice them to their liberality and their
justice; and that they did not come there to aid the
distresses of their country by paying half-a-crown per cent,
out of the hundreds which they took from it. If they did not,
all he could say was, that to him their pretended charity was
little better than a fraud. Without, however, taking up more
of their time, he should move his amendment, with this one
additional observation, that it would be a disgrace to an
enlightened meeting, and particularly to a meeting which might
be considered as comprising an aggregate mass of the property
and intellect of the country, to place a fallacy upon the
record of their proceedings, and to build all their following
resolutions upon an assertion which had no foundation in
truth. He concluded by moving the following amendment to the
first resolution:--"That the enormous load of the national
debt, together with the large military establishment and the
profuse expenditure of public money, was the real cause of the
present public distress."

Mr. Wilberforce said he was himself too much of an Englishman,
and had been too long engaged in political discussions to feel
any surprise that those who felt warmly on such a subject as
the present should be anxious to give
expression to their sentiments: but he could not help thinking
that, upon cool reflection, the noble lord would be of opinion
that his own object would be better attained if he confined
himself, on this occasion, to the distinct question under
consideration. The noble lord said the country was in a
crisis, and would they apply a mere topical remedy? but he
might ask the noble lord if he would refuse to assuage the
pain of a temporary distemper because he had it not in his
power at once to cure it radically? To him the existing
distress appeared to be a distemper which rather called for
immediate alleviation, than for the speculative discussion of
its cause. He thought the most charitable and manly course to
be pursued--and that which must be most congenial to what
he knew to be the noble lord's own charitable and manly
disposition--was not to call upon the meeting to give any
opinion upon a political question not under consideration,
so as to divert them from pursuing it with diligence and
confidence, but to postpone to a better opportunity a
discussion of this nature, and to unite cordially in the
general cause of finding employment and encouragement for our
suffering fellow-citizens. If the noble lord would reflect
upon the best mode of relieving the distresses of the people,
he would find his amendment not likely to have that tendency.
Let him reserve all discussion on the question it involved
until he could do it without interrupting the stream of
charity, and until he could enter upon it under fair and
proper circumstances. He (Mr. Wilberforce), in a proper place,
would not shrink from meeting the noble lord on that inquiry;
he was twice as old in public life as the noble lord could
pretend to be, and fully as independent; yet he would not have
easily supposed any man, however young in politics, could have
started such topics there. For his part, he should be sorry to
take advantage of any credit which might be
to supposed to belong to him upon such an occasion as this to
cast reproaches upon those who were concurring with him in a
benevolent design. The meeting must on the present occasion
feel how much indebted it stood to the royal personages for
their attendance. They had come to listen to a discussion
which had for its avowed and direct object the relief of the
people, and they were in the room suddenly called upon to lay
aside the practical part of their inquiry and to enter upon
a distinct pursuit. Was such a course fair towards those
illustrious individuals? Was it that which was likely
to induce them to listen to proposals for their personal
co-operation on occasions of benevolence, if they had no
security against the occupation of their time for discussions
of a different character? In conclusion, he entreated the
noble lord, of whose real disposition to relieve the people
of England he had no doubt, and whose motives he could justly
appreciate, to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Cochrane thanked the honourable gentleman for his
personal civilities towards him, and said that he would feel
no hesitation in withdrawing his amendment if the honourable
gentleman would state to the meeting, on his own personal
veracity and honour, that he believed that the original
resolution contained the true cause of the public distress,
and the amendment the false one. If the honourable gentleman
would say that--if any respectable man present would say
it--he would be satisfied.

Mr. Cotes said he was entirely unconnected with the noble
lord, and had never even had the honour of speaking, to him.
He agreed, however, with him in thinking that this was a
moment when the eyes of the public ought to be open to their
real situation. The amendment harmonized entirely with all
the opinions which he had been able to form upon subject. Mr.
Wilberforce, to whose humane and benevolent
Mr. character he was happy to pay his acknowledgments, had
attempted to get rid of the noble lord's amendment by a sort
of side-wind; but to his judgment there was no incompatibility
between the object of the meeting and the amendment. There was
nothing irrelevant in it; it naturally grew out of the course
adopted by the chair, and in which a cause of the prevailing
distress was distinctly specified. The question was, then,
ought their resolutions to go forth to the public with a
falsehood upon the face of them? Ought they not to state the
true cause, since His Royal Highness by mistake had assigned
a fallacious one? Mr. Wilberforce, with his usual ability, but
in a manner that still marked its duplicity--he meant the
word in no offensive sense--had asked, would he enter into
a political discussion when we were called upon to extend
relief? He begged to state this was not the true question: it
was whether they would found all the future proceedings
upon error and misstatement, or upon incontrovertible facts.
Another question was, would they be satisfied to patch up the
wounds of the country for a short period or seek to remedy
the disease in its spring and in its sources before it became
still more alarming and incurable? The Duke of Kent said he
had offered the resolution as it had been put into his hand;
and if he had conceived there had been any mention of a course
upon which difference of opinion could exist, he hoped they
knew him sufficiently to believe that he should have been
incapable of requiring their assent to it. He now, therefore,
proposed an omission of all that part of the resolution
which had any reference whatever to the cause of the present
distress. He knew the noble lord well enough--and he had known
him in early life--to be assured that he would agree with him,
at least in a declaration as to the fact. Their common object,
he believed, was to afford relief and to admit its necessity
without assigning
either one cause or another. For his own part, it had not been
his intention to attend a political discussion. He would never
enter the arena of politics with the noble lord; but he begged
leave to say, he considered himself as competent to plead
the cause of humanity, to advocate the interests of the
weather-beaten sufferer, as the noble lord could be. There
were, however, other times and other places for men to engage
in discussion of party politics, and he therefore implored the
noble lord not to distract the attention of the meeting by the
introduction of these; and to keep solely in view that they
had met as the friends of benevolence, not as the advocates of
a party. His Royal Highness then proposed to alter the motion
as follows:--

"Resolved that there do at this moment exist a stagnation
of employment and a revulsion of trade, deeply affecting the
situation of many parts of the community, and producing many
instances of great local distress."

Lord Cochrane, in reply, stated that he had no wish to excite
a difference of opinion on such an occasion, and that, after
the alteration in the resolution, nothing gave him more
pleasure than the opportunity of withdrawing his amendment;
but, in justification of what he had done, it became necessary
for him to say that he never would have thought of his
amendment if it had not been for the assertion as to the cause
of existing distress--he had no doubt in his mind as to the
nature of that cause, and he held it but just and honourable
that if a cause must be assigned, it should be the true one.
After returning thanks to Mr. Wilberforce and the Duke of Kent
for their expressions of personal civility, the noble lord
consented to withdraw his motion so far as he was personally
concerned in it.

Considerable opposition, however, from various parts of the
hall was manifested to this mode of withdrawing the
amendment, and a great deal of disturbance took place. At last
the resolution, as altered by the Duke of Kent, was put and

The Duke of Cambridge, in his speech, which followed, returned
his warm thanks to the noble lord for the handsome manner in
which he had withdrawn his amendment. He moved the following
resolution, which was unanimously agreed to:--

"From the experienced generosity of the British nation it may
be confidently expected that those who are able to afford the
means of relief to their fellow-subjects will contribute their
utmost endeavours to remedy or alleviate the sufferings of
those who are particularly distressed."

The Archbishop of Canterbury moved the following resolution,
which was seconded and carried unanimously: "That although it
is obviously impossible for any association of individuals to
attempt a general relief of difficulties affecting so large a
proportion of the public, yet that it has been proved by
the experience of this association that most important and
extensive benefits may be derived from the co-operation and
correspondence of a society in the metropolis encouraging the
efforts of those benevolent individuals who may be disposed to
associate themselves in the different districts for the relief
of their several neighbourhoods."

The Duke of Rutland afterwards addressed the meeting,
and moved that a subscription be immediately opened, and
contributions generally solicited for carrying into effect the
objects of this association; which was seconded, and agreed

The Earl of Manvers, after stating that he had opposed the
amendment of the noble lord (Lord Cochrane) solely from his
anxiety to preserve the unanimity of the meeting, as it was
only by becoming unanimous they could gain their
object, moved: "That subscribers of 100_l._ and upwards be
added to the committee of the Association for the Relief of
the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor; that the committee have
full power to dispose of the funds to be collected, and to
name sub-committees for correspondence."

The motion was seconded by Sir T. Bell, and unanimously

The Bishop of London proposed a vote of thanks to the Duke of
York, which Mr. C. Barclay was about to second, but--

Lord Cochrane again stepped forward and gained the attention
of the meeting. He repeated the explanation of the motives
for withdrawing his proposed amendment, adding, that he had no
wish again to press that amendment upon the consideration
of the meeting. But he could not forbear from observing what
would have been the fate of such a proposition, if brought
forward in another place, which he need not name. For there,
instead of being requested to withdraw the proposition, it
would have been met by a direct negative or by 'the previous
question,' in support of which, no doubt, a majority of that
assembly, miscalled the representatives of the people, would
have voted. Yet the manner in which this, a meeting of the
people, would have decided, was pretty obvious; and hence it
might be inferred how far the people concurred in sentiment
and feeling with the House of Commons. That the proposed, or
any charitable subscription, must be inadequate to relieve the
actual distress of the country was a proposition which could
not be disputed, but yet he did not intend to oppose that
subscription; on the contrary, he should give it every
possible support in his power; and it was, he felt, a
consolation to them that there were still some persons in this
country who could afford something to relieve the poor; but
he was afraid that neither the landowner nor the mercantile
interest had the means of
doing so; for the former could obtain no rent, and the latter
no trade--the only persons, in fact, who were able to assist
the poor under present circumstances were the placemen, the
sinecurists, and the fund-holders, who must give up at least
half of their ill-gotten gains in order to effect the object.
With this impression fixed upon his mind, he felt it his duty
to propose an additional resolution, that the ministers of
the crown, that the Government of the country, who wielded
the power of Parliament, were alone competent to remove and
to alleviate the national distress. This, indeed, was evident
from the statement of our financial situation which he
had already made. He had called upon the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, who was present, to contradict that statement if
he could; but the right honourable gentleman had felt it
expedient not to utter one word, as the meeting had witnessed.
Yet from that statement it must be obvious, as he had already
observed, that the military and naval situation of the country
must be abandoned, or at least half the national debt must be
extinguished, for the resources of the empire could not endure
such burthens. The noble lord concluded with expressing his
intention when the present resolutions were got over, to move
another, stating the real cause of the present distress,
and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his majesty's
ministers were alone capable of affording serious relief to
the present distress.

Mr. Barclay seconded the motion of the Right Reverend the
Bishop of London, to which Lord Cochrane assured the meeting
he entertained no objection.

Great confusion prevailed in the meeting, some crying out
for Lord Cochrane's motion, while others were equally loud in
testifying their anxiety for the vote of thanks.

The Duke of Kent then put the motion.

Lord Cochrane said that his sole object was to have an
opportunity of moving his resolution after the present was
disposed of.

A person from a distant part of the room exclaimed: "That resolution
shall not be put, for it is a libel on the Parliament." Several other
remarks were made, but they were generally unintelligible from the
violent uproar and confusion that prevailed. Loud cries of "Put Lord
Cochrane's motion first" were mixed with the cry of "Chair, chair."

The Duke of Kent said that he had attended this meeting with a view
to assist in promoting an object of charity, and he had no doubt that
such was the intention of the noble lord (Cochrane). Of this he
was sure from the noble lord's own declaration, as well as from his
knowledge of the noble lord's feelings. The noble lord had, indeed,
himself stated that he had no wish to introduce any political, or to
press any, measure likely to interfere with the object of the
meeting. Therefore, he called upon the noble lord, in consistency, in
politeness and urbanity, not to urge any political principle; and the
noble lord must be aware that his proposition had a strong political
tendency. The proposition was indeed such, that the noble lord must be
aware that it was calculated to injure the subscription, for those who
were not of the noble lord's opinion in politics were but too likely
to leave the room if that proposition were pressed to a vote, and thus
a material object of charity would suffer through a desire to urge a
declaration of a mere political opinion.

Lord Cochrane disclaimed any wish to provoke political discussion.
He expressed his desire merely to declare a truth which no man
could venture to dispute in any popular assembly, in order that
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others present, might have an
opportunity of reporting to Government the decided sentiment
and real feeling of the people.

The Archbishop of Canterbury begged leave to call back the
attention of the meeting to the motion before it, and which,
he had no doubt, would be unanimously adopted. This motion,
the most reverend prelate added, was not intended in any
degree to interfere with the motion of the noble lord.

Amid loud cries of "Put Lord Cochrane's motion first, for if
the motion of thanks be disposed of, the Duke of York will
leave the chair, and the noble lord's motion will not be put
at all," the Duke of Kent declared that there could be
no intention to get rid of the noble lord's motion by any

The motion of thanks was then passed while Lord Cochrane was
engaged in writing his motion, and the Duke of York, having
bowed to the meeting, immediately withdrew, amidst loud
hissings, and cries of "Shame! shame! a trick! a trick!"

The Duke of Kent, whose head was turned towards Lord Cochrane,
was much surprised and disappointed at discovering the absence
of the chairman.

The general cry was then raised: "The Duke of Kent to the

His Royal Highness addressed the meeting. Having, he said,
pledged himself on proposing the last resolution that there
was no intention of getting rid of Lord Cochrane's motion by
any side-wind, he felt himself in a very awkward predicament.
"But," he added, "I hope that, as liberal Englishmen, you
will consider my situation and who I am; and that after my
illustrious relatives have retired from the meeting, you
will not insist upon my taking the chair for the purpose of
pressing the declaration of a political opinion;
but that you will commend my motives, and do justice to
those feelings which determine the propriety of my immediate
departure." His Royal Highness accordingly withdrew.

The majority of the meeting still remained, calling for the
nomination of another chairman, and pressing the adoption of
Lord Cochrane's motion; but the noble lord also withdrew, and
the meeting separated.

That meeting was memorable. If Lord Cochrane's bearing at it was
factious, it must be remembered how greatly he had suffered and how
earnestly he desired to save the people at large from the sufferings
entailed upon them by the Government which he and they had learnt to
regard with a common dislike. By exposing what appeared to him and
many others to be the hypocrisy of seeming philanthropists, and
showing what he deemed the only real cause and the only real remedy
of the national distress, he only acted as a brave and honest man, and
his work was appreciated by the masses in whose interest it was done.
A thrill of satisfaction ran through the land. During the ensuing
weeks and months congratulations were heaped upon him from all
quarters, and from nearly every class of society. If he had lessened
the resources of the Association for the Belief of the Manufacturing
and Labouring Poor, he was thanked even for this, since it was
believed to be a good thing for shallow charity to be stayed, in order
that the cause of real justice might be promoted.

The thanks were all the heartier because of the fresh persecution to
which Lord Cochrane was subjected on account of his patriotism. This
persecution was in the shape of legal proceedings instituted against
him by the Marshal of the King's Bench Prison for his escape therefrom
on the 10th of March, 1815. The action had been formally commenced
almost immediately after the alleged offence, but on technical
grounds, and perhaps from the consciousness that he was already
punished enough, it was delayed for more than a year. As the
previous punishment, however, had not been enough to silence him, the
Government determined to revive the old charge as a further act of
vengeance. At the special instigation of Lord Ellenborough, as it
was averred, the prosecution had been renewed in May, 1816, almost
immediately after the rejection by the House of Commons of Lord
Cochrane's charges against the vindictive and unprincipled judge; but
the time was too far gone for trial to take place during the summer
term. It was again renewed, and at length successfully, directly after
Lord Cochrane's fresh exhibition of his hostility to the Government at
the London Tavern meeting.

The trial was at Guildford, on the 17th of August. Its history and
issue may best be told in the words of an autobiographical fragment,
written by Lord Dundonald shortly before his death. "I was accompanied
to Guildford," he said, "by Sir Francis Burdett and several other
leading inhabitants of Westminster, whose names are forgotten by me. I
took neither counsel nor witnesses, having determined to rest my case
on the point of law that 'no Member of Parliament can be imprisoned,
either for non-payment of a fine to the king, or for any other cause
than treason or felony, or refusing to give security to keep the
peace,' my inference being that as I was illegally imprisoned, I had
committed no illegality in escaping. I read to the jury a general
statement, on which they unequivocally expressed their conviction that
the trial had better not have been instituted, for that the punishment
already sustained was more than adequate to the offence alleged to
have been committed. The judge, however, interfered, and told the
jury that, as I had admitted the escape in my statement, they had no
alternative but to bring in a verdict of guilty, which was reluctantly
done, and judgment was deferred.

"After the trial I returned to my house in Hampshire, and not hearing
anything more of the affair, naturally concluded that, in the face of
the opinion expressed by the jury, the Government would be ashamed to
prosecute the matter further. Not liking, however, to trust to their
mercy, whilst their malevolence might be exercised at an inconvenient
season, or made to depend upon my political conduct, I directed my
attorney to inquire whether it was intended to put in execution the
sentence at Guildford. The reply was that no steps had been taken,
and the impression was, that Government would be against further
proceedings, lest they should tend to increase my popularity.
Considering that this might be a feint to put me off my guard, I went
to London for the purpose of attending a large political meeting, in
the conduct of which I participated. Shortly afterwards I received
a summons to appear at Westminster Hall and receive judgment on the
verdict; the judgment being that I was condemned to pay a fine of
100_l._ to the Crown.

"On my refusal to pay the fine, on the 21st of November, I was again
taken into custody, I alleging that the sentence would amount to
perpetual imprisonment, for that I would never pay a fine imposed for
escaping from an illegal detention.

"On my being taken back to prison, however, a meeting of the electors
of Westminster was held, at which it was determined that the amount
of the fine should be paid by a penny subscription, no person being
allowed to subscribe more. This plan was adopted in order that the
public throughout the kingdom might have an opportunity of manifesting
their disapprobation of the oppressive way in which I was being
treated. Though I knew nothing of the intentions of the committee at
the time, it was expected that the subscription would amount to a
much larger sum than the fine, and resolved that the surplus should be
devoted to the re-imbursement of the former fine of 1000_l._ and of the
expenses to which I had been put at the trial. Receiving-houses were
accordingly opened in the metropolis and in various other large towns,
and the amount of the fine of 100_l._ was speedily collected in London

"Meanwhile meetings were constantly being held to petition Parliament
for reform, and at these my name and sufferings formed a prominent
topic, so that the Government would have been glad to be rid of
me. After one of these meetings in Spafields, for the purpose of
requesting Sir Francis Burdett and myself to present a petition to
Parliament, a serious riot took place in the city of London, in which
a gentleman was shot by the military. The Government, in alarm lest
the people should proceed to the King's Bench and liberate me, did me
the honour to send a company of infantry to guard me, the officers of
the prison being ordered to admit no strangers whatever. The troops
were further ordered to continue their attendance till I was released
from custody.

"The subscription having been completed in pence, sent from all parts
of the kingdom, my secretary, Mr. Jackson, applied to the Master of
the Crown Office to receive the amount of the fine in coppers. This
was refused, as not being a legal tender. The Master, however, in
token of the suffering to which I had so unworthily been subjected,
said that, as payment of the fine in such a manner marked the sense of
the people on my case, he would not oppose himself to the expression
of public sentiment, but would take 10_l._ of the sum in coppers. This
was accordingly paid, and the remainder in notes and silver, which
were given by various tradesmen in exchange for the coppers of the
people, whose money was thus literally appropriated to the payment of
the fine.

"Finding, on my liberation, whole chests filled with penny pieces, I
wrote to the committee, stating that sufficient had been collected.
The reply was that the subscription should go on till the amount of
the fine of 1000_l._ was paid in addition. The whole of the amount of
the fine was thus realized, with something beyond--I do not recollect
how much--towards my law expenses, which had necessarily been
excessive. Taking, however, the 1100_l._ paid in pence, this
alone showed that two million six hundred and forty thousand
persons--composing a very large portion of the adult population of
the kingdom--sympathised with me. Not one of my persecutors could have
elicited such an expression of public sympathy."

The fine being thus paid, Lord Cochrane was released from the King's
Bench Prison on the 7th of December, after a confinement of sixteen
days, which was attended by all the wanton severity shown to him
during his previous incarceration. Having been apprehended on a
Thursday, he was, on his arrival at the King's Bench, placed in an
unhealthy room protected by an iron grating. In the evening, having
complained of such unusual treatment, he was informed that it was
under the express directions of the Marshal. Next day, being seriously
unwell, a physician was sent to him, who reported that he was
suffering from palpitation of the heart and other symptoms of
dangerous excitement, which made it necessary that he should be
removed to better quarters. Accordingly, worse quarters were found for
him, in a damp, dark, and very imperfectly-ventilated room, entirely
devoid of furniture, in the middle of the building. Stedfastly
refusing to go there, he was allowed to remain for that night in
the room, first assigned to him. On Saturday morning, just as he
was sitting down to breakfast, he was ordered to proceed to his new
dungeon. Again refusing, his untasted breakfast was forcibly taken
from him until he consented to eat it in the appointed place. Thither
he accordingly went, and there he was detained for the fortnight that
passed before his liberation.

On the 17th of December an enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of
Westminster was held to congratulate Lord Cochrane upon his release.
"We, your lordship's constituents," it was stated in an address
adopted by that meeting, "beg leave, on the present occasion, to
declare that, after having had long and ample means for inquiry and
reflection, we remain in the full and entire conviction of the perfect
innocence of your lordship of every part of the offence laid to your
charge at the outset of that series of persecutions by which, during
the last three years of your life, you have been incessantly harassed.
But, indeed, those persons must have very little knowledge of public
affairs, and particularly of your distinguished naval and political
career, who do not clearly perceive that all those persecutions have
arisen from your public virtues, and who are not well convinced that,
if you had not served the people by your exposure of the abuses in the
prize courts, by your endeavours to restore to the right owners
the immense sums unjustly alienated under the names of Droits of
Admiralty, by your honest explanation of the causes which prevented
the naval renown of your country being complete at Basque Roads, and
by having caused to be produced in Parliament, and published to the
nation, that memorable account of sinecures, pensions, and grants
which so usefully enlightened the public, you never would have
been prosecuted for a pretended fraud on the funds. Your lordship's
constituents, being thus fully sensible that you have suffered and are
still suffering solely for their and their country's sake, would deem
themselves amongst the most ungrateful of mankind were they to neglect
this occasion to tender you the most solemn assurances of their
unabated attachment and their most resolute support, and, whilst they
are endeavouring to discharge their duty towards your lordship, they
entertain the consoling reflection that the day is not distant when
you will mainly assist in carrying forward that measure of radical
parliamentary reform which alone can be a safeguard against all sorts
of oppressions, and especially oppressions under which your lordship
has so long and so severely suffered."

To that honourable address an honourable reply was penned by Lord
Cochrane on the 24th of December, and presented to the electors of
Westminster at another meeting assembled for the purpose on the 1st of
January ensuing.

The direct persecution which began with the Stock Exchange trial and
its antecedents was now at an end, after three years of gross and
untiring vindictiveness. Indirect persecution was to continue for more
than thirty years.




The years 1817 and 1818 were years of great political turmoil. The
English people, weary of the European wars, which in two-and-twenty
years had raised the national debt from 230,000,000_l._ to
860,000,000_l._, thus causing a taxation which amounted, in the average,
to 25_l._ a year upon every family of five persons, were in no mood to
be made happy even by the restitution of peace. Partly by necessity,
partly by the bad management of the Government and its officials, the
war-burdens were continued, and to the starving multitudes they were
more burdensome than ever. Angry complaints were uttered openly, and
repeated again and again with steadily-increasing vehemence, in all
parts of the country. That the ministers and agents of the Crown were
grievously at fault was patent to all; and it is not strange that, in
the excitement and the misery that prevailed, they should be blamed
even more than was their due. But the men in power did not choose to
be blamed at all; they denied that any fault attached to them, and
fiercely reprobated every complaint as sedition, every opponent as a
lawless and unpatriotic demagogue. Hence the Government and the people
came to be at deadly feud. Most right was with the people, and their
bold assertion of that right, albeit sometimes in wrong ways, has
secured memorable benefits in later times; but power was still with
the Government, and it was used even more roughly than in former

That Lord Cochrane, having suffered so much from the vindictive
persecution of the Tories, should have thrown in his lot with its
most extreme opponents, is not to be wondered at. During 1817 he was
intimately associated with the popular party in all its efforts for
the redress of grievances and in all the assertions of its real and
fancied rights. In and out of Parliament he was alike active and
outspoken. The history of his public conduct at this time forms
no small section of the history of the Radical movement during the
period. It resulted naturally from the circumstances in which he had
lately been placed. Energetic in thought and action, a ready writer
and an able speaker, his recent sufferings helped to place him in the
foremost rank of patriots, as they were called by friends--demagogues,
as they were called by enemies. With the exception of Sir Francis
Burdett, than whom he even went further, the people had, outside their
own ranks, no sturdier champion.

If there had been any doubt before as to his line of action, there
could be no doubt after the re-assembling of Parliament in January,
1817. During the recess, monster meetings had been held in all parts
of the country to consider the popular troubles and to insist upon
popular reforms. Lord Cochrane agreed to present to the House of
Commons many of the petitions that resulted from these meetings, and
this he did on the 29th of January, the very day of the re-opening of

In anticipation of this measure, there was a great assembling of
reform delegates from all parts of England, and of others favourable
to their purpose, in front of Lord Cochrane's residence at No. 7,
Palace Yard, Westminster. Shortly before two o'clock Lord Cochrane
showed himself at the window, and announced that he was now on his
way to the House, there to watch over the rights and liberties of the
people, and that he would shortly return and let them know what was
passing. This he did at four o'clock, part of the interval being
occupied with a fervid address from Henry Hunt. On his reappearance,
Lord Cochrane stated that the speech with which the Prince Regent had
opened Parliament had not disappointed his expectations, for it was
wholly disappointing to the people. The Regent had complained of the
disaffection pervading the country, and had announced his intention of
using all the power given him by the Constitution for its suppression.
Lord Cochrane expressed his confident hope that the people, having
the right on their side, would so demean themselves as to give their
enemies no ground of charge against them; for those enemies desired
nothing so much as riot and disorder.

Thereupon an immense bundle of petitions was handed him, and he
himself was placed in a chair, and so conveyed on men's shoulders to
the door of Westminster Hall, where the crowd dispersed in an orderly

In the House, before the motion for an address in answer to the Prince
Regent's speech, Lord Cochrane rose to present a petition, signed by
more than twenty thousand inhabitants of Bristol, setting forth the
present distress of the country, the increase of paupers and beggars,
the grievous lack of employment for industrious persons, and
the misery that resulted from this state of things. In these
circumstances, the petitioners urged, it was in vain to pretend to
relieve the sufferers by giving them soup, while, for the support of
sinecure placemen, pensioners without number, and an insatiable
civil list, half their earnings were taken from them by the enormous
taxation under which the country groaned. After considerable
opposition, the petition was allowed to lie on the table.

Lord Cochrane then presented a smaller but much more outspoken
petition from the inhabitants of Quirk, in Yorkshire. "The
petitioners," it was there urged, "have a full and immovable
conviction--a conviction which they believe to be universal throughout
the kingdom--that the House does not, in any constitutional or
rational sense, represent the nation; that, when the people have
ceased to be represented, the Constitution is subverted; that taxation
without representation is a state of slavery; that the scourge
of taxation without representation has now reached a severity too
harassing and vexatious, too intolerable and degrading, to be longer
endured without resistance by all possible means warranted by the
Constitution; that such a condition of affairs has now been reached
that contending factions are alike guilty of their country's wrongs,
alike forgetful of her rights, mocking the public patience with
repeated, protracted, and disgusting debates on questions of
refinement in the complicated and abstruse science of taxation, as if
in such refinement, and not in a reformed representation, as if in a
consolidated corruption, and not in a renovated Constitution,
relief were to be found; that thus there are left no human means of
redressing the people's wrongs or composing their distracted minds,
or of preventing the subversion of liberty and the establishment of
despotism, unless by calling the collected wisdom and virtue of the
community into counsel by the election of a free Parliament; and
therefore, considering that, through the usurpation of borough
factions and other causes, the people have been put even out of a
condition to consent to taxes; and considering also that, until their
sacred right of election shall be restored, no free Parliament can
have existence, it is necessary that the House shall, without delay,
pass a law for putting the aggrieved and much-aroused people in
possession of their undoubted right to representation co-extensive
with taxation, to an equal distribution of such representation
throughout the community, and to Parliaments of a continuance
according to the Constitution, namely, not exceeding one year."

A long discussion ensued as to whether this petition should be
accepted by the House or rejected as an insulting libel. Several
members of the House denounced it. Other members, while objecting to
its terms, urged its acceptance. Among them the most notable was
Mr. Brougham. The petition, he said, was rudely worded, and its
recommendations were such as no wise lover of the English Constitution
could wholly subscribe to; but it pointed to real grievances and
recommended improvements which were necessary to the well-being of the
State, and therefore it ought to be admitted. Mr. Canning was one of
those who insisted upon its rejection, and this was ultimately done by
a majority of 87, 48 being in favour of the petition, and 135 against

Four other petitions presented by Lord Cochrane, being to the same
effect, were also rejected; and two, more moderate in their language,
were accepted. Lord Cochrane thus succeeded, at any rate, in forcing
the House during several hours to take into consideration the troubled
state of the country, and the pressing need, as it seemed to great
masses of the people, of thorough parliamentary reform.

"You will see by the 'Debates,'" he wrote next day to a friend, "that
I presented a number of petitions last night, and had a hard battle to
fight. Today I am quite indisposed, by reason of the corruption of the
Honourable House. It is impossible to support a bad cause by honest
means. God knows where all these base projects will end." That his own
cause was a good one, and that the means used by him were honest, he
had no doubt. In the same letter he referred to the opposition offered
to him, even by some of his own relatives, on account of his conduct.
"Mr. Cochrane has thought proper to disavow, through the public
papers, any connection with my politics. The consciousness that I am
acting as I ought makes that light which I should otherwise feel as a
heavy clog in following that course which I think honour and justice

Therefore he persevered in his Herculean task. Having presented and
spoken upon others in the interval, he presented another monster
petition to the House on the 5th of February. It was signed, he said,
by twenty-four thousand inhabitants of London and the neighbourhood.
It complained of the unbearable weight of taxation and the distresses
of the country, and of the squandering of the money extracted from the
pockets of an oppressed and impoverished people to support sinecure
placemen and pensioners. "It appears to me," he said, "surprising that
there should be any set of men so cruel and unjust as to wallow in
wealth at the public expense while poor wretches are starving at every
corner of the streets." He represented that the petition was drawn
up in temperate, respectful language,--more temperate, indeed, than
he should have employed had he dictated its phrases. He urged that the
people had good cause for complaint as to the way in which Parliament
neglected their interests, and good ground for asserting that the
system of parliamentary representation then afforded them was no real
representation at all. Members entered the House only in pursuit of
their own selfish ends, and the Government encouraged this state of
things by fostering a system of wholesale bribery and corruption,
degrading in itself and fraught with terrible mischief to the
community. What wonder, then, that the people should pray, as they did
in this petition, for a thorough reform, and should point to annual
Parliaments and universal suffrage as the only efficient remedies?

It is needless to recapitulate all the arguments offered again
and again by Lord Cochrane, with ever fresh-force and cogency, in
presenting massive petitions to the House, and in introducing into
the occasional debates on reform with which the House amused itself
a vigour and practicalness in which few other members cared to
sympathize. Nor need we enumerate all the meetings, in London and the
provinces, in which he took prominent part. It is enough to say that
in Parliament he always spoke with exceeding boldness, and that upon
the people, notwithstanding the contrary assertions of his detractors,
he always enjoined, if not conciliation and forbearance, at any rate
such action as was within the strict letter of the law, and most
likely, in the end, to obtain the realization of their wishes. On all
occasions he defended them from the charges of sedition and conspiracy
brought against them by their opponents, and proved, to all who were
open to proof, that their objects were patriotic, and were being
sought in patriotic ways.

Of this, however, the Government did not choose to be convinced.
Taking advantage of some intemperate speeches of demagogues, making
much of some violent handbills circulated by police-officers under
secret instructions, mightily exaggerating a few lawless acts,--as
when a drunken old sailor summoned the keepers of the Tower of London
to surrender,--they procured, on the 26th of February, the suspension
of the Habeas Corpus Act. Therefrom resulted, at any rate, some good.
The Whigs, who had hitherto mainly supported the Tory Government, were
now turned against it, and with them the wiser Radicals, like Lord
Cochrane, sought to effect a coalition. "You will perceive by the
papers," he said in a letter dated February the 28th, "that I have
resolved to steer another political course, seeing that the only means
of averting military despotism from the country is to unite the people
and the Whigs, so far as they can be induced to co-operate, which they
must do if they wish to preserve the remainder of the Constitution.
The 'Times' of yesterday contains the fullest account of the late
debates on the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and by that report
you will perceive that the Whigs really made a good stand."

In that temper, Lord Cochrane spoke at a Westminster meeting, held
on the 11th of March, "to take into consideration the propriety
of agreeing to an address to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent,
beseeching that he will, in his well-known solicitude for the freedom
and happiness of His Majesty's subjects, remove from his royal
councils those ministers who appear resolved to adopt no effectual
measures of economy and retrenchment, but, on the contrary, to
persevere in measures calculated to drive a suffering people to

There was some flattery or some mockery, or something of both, in
that announcement; and both, with much earnest enunciation of popular
grievances, were in Lord Cochrane's speech on the subject. He said
that the Regent had as much cause as the people to complain of his
present ministers, seeing how shamelessly they sought to hide from him
the real state of the country. It was to be expected, from the early
habits and character of the Regent, that he would anxiously pursue
the interests of the nation, if, instead of being in the hands of an
odious oligarchy, he could act for himself. This, at any rate, Lord
Cochrane maintained should be urged upon him, for if something were
not quickly done for the relief of the nation, trade and commerce
would soon be utterly ruined, and the whole community would share the
misery that had so long oppressed the lower orders. He again dwelt
forcibly on the causes of this misery, and again denounced the conduct
of the ministers and placemen who, while squandering the hardly-earned
pounds of the people, claimed respect for their exemplary charity
in doling out a few farthings for "the relief of the poor." In the
previous year, he showed, Lord Castlereagh, "the bell-wether of the
House of Commons," and thirteen other persons, had drawn from the
revenues of the country 309,861_l._, and out of that amount had given
back, in "sinecure soup," only 1505_l._

On a hundred other occasions, both outside of the House of Commons and
within its walls, Lord Cochrane continued fearlessly to set forth
the troubles of the people and the wrong-doing of its governors. In
Parliament petitions without number were presented, and, amid all
sorts of contumely, defended by him; and he took a no less active part
in various important discussions, of which it will suffice, by way of
illustration, to name the debates of the 3rd, 14th, and 28th of March,
on the famous Seditious Meetings Bill, and that of the 13th of March
on the depressed condition of English trade and its causes--a subject
which was recurred to by Mr. Brougham in his memorable motion of the
11th of July on the state of the nation.

Six weeks before that, on the 20th of May, Lord Cochrane spoke on
another famous motion--that made by his friend Sir Francis Burdett
in favour of parliamentary reform. Once more, he complained that the
existing House of Commons in no way represented the people, and was
entirely regardless of its interests. Nothing better, he alleged,
could be hoped for, without a radical change in the system of
representation. "But," he continued, "reform we must have, whether we
will or no. The state of the country is such that things cannot much
longer be conducted as they now are. There is a general call for
reform. If the call is not obeyed, thank God the evil will produce
its own remedy, the mass of corruption will destroy itself, for the
maggots it engenders will eat it up. The members of this House are the
maggots of the Constitution. They are the locusts that devour it and
cause all the evils that are complained of. There is nothing wicked
which does not emanate from this House. In it originate all knavery,
perjury, and fraud. You well know all this. You also know that the
means by which the great majority of the House is returned is one
great cause of the corruption of the whole people. It has been said,
'Let the people reform themselves;' but if sums of money are offered
for seats within these walls, there will always be found men ready to
receive them. It is impossible to imagine that the profuse expenditure
of the late war would have taken place, had it not been for a corrupt
majority devoted to their selfish interests. At least it would have
had a shorter duration, from being carried on in a more effective
manner, had it not been conducive to the views of many to prevent its
speedy termination. Much has been said about the glorious result of
the war; but has not lavish expenditure loaded us with taxation which
is impoverishing the people and annihilating commerce? Are not vessels
seen everywhere with brooms at their mastheads? Are not sailors
starving? Is not agriculture languishing? Are not our manufactures in
the most distressed state?"

Lord Cochrane asserted that the real revolutionists of England were
the ministers and their followers. "I am persuaded that no man without
doors wishes the subversion of the Constitution; but within it,
bribery and corruption stand for the Constitution. Mr. Pitt himself
confessed that no honest man could hold the situation of minister for
any length of time. There can be no honest minister until measures
have been taken to purge and purify the House. If this be not done,
it is in vain to hope for a renewal of successful enterprise in this
country: the sun of the country is set for ever. It may indeed exist
as a petty military German despotism, with horsemen parading up and
down, with large whiskers, with sabres ringing by their horses' sides,
with fantastically-shaped caps of fantastical colours on their
heads; but this country cannot thus be made a great military power.
A previous speaker has instanced juries as one of the benefits of the
Constitution; but I will affirm, with respect to the manner in which
juries are chosen under the present system, that justice is much
better administered, in a more summary manner, with less expense, and
no chicanery, by the Dey of Algiers. If this country were erected at
once into a downright, honest, open despotism, the people would be
gainers. If a judge or despot then proved a rogue, he would at
once appear in his true character; but now villany can be artfully
concealed under the verdict of a packed jury. I am satisfied that the
present system of corruption is more detrimental to the country than a

No other speaker spoke so boldly as Lord Cochrane; but his eloquent
words were substantially endorsed by many; by Sir Samuel Romilly and
Mr. Brougham in especial; and on a division, though 265 voted
against Sir Francis Burdett's motion, it was supported by a
minority--unusually large for the time--of 77.

Slowly but surely the better principles of government for which
Lord Cochrane fought so persistently were gaining ground, destined
ultimately to produce the changes in national temper which made plain
the duty and expediency of adopting the changes in political systems
in which the years 1832 and 1867 are epochs. In after years, Lord
Cochrane himself clearly saw that he had been rash in his advocacy
of the sweeping reforms which the excited people deemed necessary for
their welfare in the years of trouble and misgovernment consequent on
the tedious war-time ending with the battle of Waterloo. But he never
had cause to regret the honest zeal and the generous sympathy with
which he strove, though in violent ways, to lessen the weight of the
popular distresses.

Distresses were not wanting to himself during this period. The weight
of his former troubles still hung heavily upon him. He could not
forget the terrible disgrace--none the less terrible because it was
unmerited--that had befallen him. And in pecuniary ways he was a
grievous sufferer by them. In losing his naval employment he lost
the income on which he had counted. His resources were thus seriously
crippled; and the scientific pursuits, in which he still persevered,
failed to bring to him the profit that he anticipated.

In one characteristic way--only one among many--the Government
persecution still clung to him. In the distribution of prize-money
for the achievement at Basque Roads all the officers and crews of
Lord Grambier's fleet had been considered entitled to share. To this
arrangement Lord Cochrane objected. He urged that as the whole triumph
was due to the _Imperieuse_ and the few ships actually engaged with
her, the reward ought to be limited to them. "I am preparing to
proceed in the Court of Admiralty on the question of head-money for
Basque Roads," he wrote on the 5th of November, 1816; "my affidavit
has reluctantly been admitted, though strenuously opposed, on the
ground that I was not to be believed on my oath!"

Lord Cochrane's council in this case was Dr. Lushington, afterwards
the eminent judge of the Admiralty Court. Dr. Lushington showed
plainly that the greater part of the fleet, having taken no share in
the action, had no right to head-money, and that therefore all ought
to be divided among those who actually shared with Lord Cochrane
the danger and the success of the enterprise. But Sir William Scott
(afterwards Lord Stowell), the judge at that time, was not disposed
to sanction this view. Therefore he thwarted it by delays. The case
having been postponed from November, 1816, was brought up again in the
first term of 1817. "The judge has again delayed his decision," wrote
Lord Cochrane on the 28th of February, the day of the announcement,
"and I believe has done so until next session. He gave a curious
reason for this, namely, that I took part at the Westminster meeting
against the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act!"

At the next session it was again postponed, all the time available
for its consideration being taken up with a frivolous discussion as to
Lord Cochrane's right to give evidence. "They have gone the length,"
wrote his secretary, Mr. Jackson, on the 3rd of May, "of denying Lord
Cochrane's credibility in a court of justice. They had no other way
of answering his affidavit, which would have gained his cause in the
Court of Admiralty, as it proved that the French ships in Basque Roads
were destroyed by his own exertions in fighting without orders from
the Admiral. The denial-of Lord Cochrane's competency to give evidence
has excited a great deal of interest, and the Court of Admiralty was
quite crowded on Tuesday, when the question came on to be discussed.
I thought that our counsel had much the best of the argument, and I
believe the judge, Sir William Scott, thought so too, as he put off
his sentence to a future day." On the future day the judge admitted as
much. "We have gained a bit of a victory in the Admiralty Court," said
the same writer in a letter dated the 9th of June, "the judge having
been compelled to pronounce in favour of his lordship's right to
be believed on his oath." The time taken by him to arrive at this
decision, however, was so long that the case had to be adjourned to
November term, and thereby Lord Cochrane's enemies so far attained
their object, that it was impossible for him, in November term, to
renew the suit.

In the interval he had gone to France, preparatory to a much longer
and more momentous journey to South America, in anticipation of which
he was winding up his affairs and realizing his property during and
after the summer of 1817.

In this settlement of accounts there was at any rate one amusing
incident. It will be remembered that, on the occasion of his being
elected Member of Parliament for Honiton in 1806, Lord Cochrane had
refused to follow the almost universal fashion of bribery, but, after
the election was over, had thoughtlessly yielded to the proposal
of his agent that he should entertain his constituents at a public
supper.[A] This entertainment, either through spite or through wanton
extravagance, was turned by those to whom the management of it was
assigned into a great occasion of feasting for all the inhabitants of
the town; and for defrayment of the expenses thus incurred a claim
for more than 1200_l._ was afterwards made upon Lord Cochrane. Through
eleven years he bluntly refused to pay the preposterous demand; but
his creditors had the law upon their side, and in the spring of 1817
an order was granted for putting an execution into his house at Holly

[Footnote A: 'The Autobiography of a Seaman,' vol. i. pp. 203, 204.]

Lord Cochrane, however, having resisted the demand thus far,
determined to resist to the end. For more than six weeks he prevented
the agents of the law from entering the house. "I still hold out,"
he said in a letter to his secretary, "though the castle has several
times been threatened in great force. The trumpeter is now blowing for
a parley, but no one appears on the ramparts. Explosion-bags are set
in the lower embrasures, and all the garrison is under arms." In
the explosion-bags there was nothing more dangerous than powdered
charcoal; but, supposing they contained gunpowder or some other
combustible, the sheriff of Hampshire and twenty-five officers were
held at bay by them, until at length one official, more daring than
the rest, jumped in at an open window, to find Lord Cochrane sitting
at breakfast and to be complimented by him upon the wonderful bravery
which he had shown in coming up to a building defended by charcoal

That battle with the sheriff and bailiffs of Hampshire occupied nearly
the whole of April and May, 1817. In the latter month, if not before,
Lord Cochrane began to think seriously of proceeding to join in
battles of a more serious sort in South America, under inducements and
with issues that will presently be detailed. "His lordship has made up
his mind to go to South America," wrote his secretary on the 31st of
May. "Numbers of gentlemen of great respectability are desirous of
accompanying him, and even Sir Francis Burdett has declared that he
feels a great temptation to do so; but Lord Cochrane discourages all.
They think he is going to immolate the Spaniards by his secret plans;
but he is not going to do anything of the kind, having promised the
Prince Regent not to divulge or use them otherwise than in the service
of his country."

With this expedition in view, and purposing to start upon it nearly a
year sooner than he found himself able to do, Lord Cochrane sold Holly
Hill and his other property in Hampshire, in July. In August he went
for a few months to France, partly for the benefit of Lady Cochrane's
health, partly, as it would seem, in the hope of introducing into
that country the lamps which he had lately invented, and from which he
hoped to derive considerable profit.

To this matter, and to his efforts to obtain some share, at any rate,
of his rights from the English Government, the letters written by
him from France chiefly refer. But there are in them some notes and
illustrations of more general interest. "I am quite astonished at the
state of Boulogne," he wrote thence on the 14th of August. "Neither
the town nor the heights are fortified; so great was Napoleon's
confidence in the terror of his name and the knowledge he possessed
of the stupidity and ignorance of our Government." In a letter from
Paris, dated the 23rd of August, we read: "Everything is looking much
more settled than when I was formerly here, and I do really think that
the Government, from the conciliatory measures wisely adopted, will
stand their ground against the adherents of Buonaparte. We are to have
a great rejoicing to-morrow. All Paris will be dancing, fiddling, and
singing. They are a light-hearted people. I wish I could join in their
fun. I was hopeful that I should; but the cursed recollection of the
injustice that has been done to me is never out of my mind; so that
all my pleasures are blasted, from whatever source they might be
expected to arise."

That last sentence fairly indicates the state of Lord Cochrane's mind
during these painful years. Weighed down by troubles heavy enough to
break the heart of an ordinary man, he fought nobly for the thorough
justification of his character and for the protection of others from
such persecution as had befallen him. In both objects, altogether
praise-worthy in themselves, he may have sometimes been intemperate;
but ample excuse for far greater intemperance would be found in the
troubles that oppressed him. "The cursed recollection of the injustice
that has been done to me is never out of my mind; all my pleasures are

In the same temper, after a lapse of nine months, about which it is
only necessary to say that, like their forerunners, they were
employed in private cares, and, especially after the reassembling of
Parliament, in zealous action for the public good, he made his last
speech in the House of Commons on the 2nd of June, 1818. The occasion
was a debate upon a second motion by Sir Francis Burdett in favour of
parliamentary reform, more cogent and effective than that of the
20th of May, 1817, to Lord Cochrane's share in which we have already
referred. The former speech was wholly of public interest. This has a
personal significance, very painful and very memorable. It brings to a
pathetic close the saddest epoch in Lord Cochrane's life--so very full
of sadness.

"I rise, sir," he said, "to second the motion of my honourable friend.
In what I have to say, I do not presume to think that I can add to
the able arguments that have just been uttered; but it is my duty
distinctly to declare my opinions on the subject. When I recollect all
the proceedings of this House, I confess that I do not entertain much
hope of a favourable result to the present motion. To me it seems
chiefly serviceable as an exhibition of sound principles, and as
showing the people for what they ought to petition. I shall perhaps be
told that it is unparliamentary to say there are any representatives
of the people in this House who have sold themselves to the purposes
and views of any set of men in power; but the history of the
degenerate senate of that once free people, the Romans, will serve
to show how far corruption may make inroads upon public virtue or
patriotism. The tyranny inflicted on the Roman people, and on mankind
in general, under the form of acts passed by the Roman senate, will
ever prove a useful memento to nations which have any freedom to lose.
It is not for me to prophesy when our case will be like theirs; but
this I will say, that those who are the slaves of a despotic
monarch are far less reprehensible for their actions than those who
voluntarily sell themselves when they have the means of remaining

"And here," he continued, in sentences broken by his emotions, "as it
is probably the last time I shall ever have the honour of addressing
the House on any subject, I am anxious to tell its members what I
think of their conduct. It is now nearly eleven years since I have
had the honour of a seat in this House, and since then there have
been very few measures in which I could agree with the opinions of the
majority. To say that these measures were contrary to justice would
not be parliamentary. I will not even go into the inquiry whether
they tend to the national good or not; but I will merely appeal to the
feelings of the landholders present, I will appeal to the knowledge
of those members who are engaged in commerce, and ask them whether the
acts of the legislative body have not been of a description, during
the late war, that would, if not for the timely intervention of the
use of machinery, have sent this nation to total ruin? The country is
burthened to a degree which, but for this intervention, it would have
been impossible for the people to bear. The cause of these measures
having such an effect upon the country has been examined and gone
into by my honourable colleague (Sir Francis Burdett); they are to
be traced to that patronage and influence which, a number of powerful
individuals possess over the nomination of a great proportion of the
members of this House; a power which, devolving on a few, becomes
thereby the more liable to be affected by the influence of the Crown;
and which has in fact been rendered almost entirely subservient to
that influence. To reform the abuses which arise out of this system
is the object of my honourable friend's motion. I will not, cannot,
anticipate the success of the motion; but I will say, as has been
said before by the great Chatham, the father of Mr. Pitt, that, if the
House does not reform itself from within, it will be reformed with
a vengeance from without. The people will take up the subject, and
a reform will take place which will make many members regret their
apathy in now refusing that reform which might be rendered efficient
and permanent. But, unfortunately, in the present formation of the
House, it appears to me that from within no reform can be expected,
and for the truth of this I appeal to the experience of the few
members, less than a hundred, who are now present, nearly six hundred
being absent; I appeal to their experience to say whether they have
ever known of any one instance in which a petition of the people for
reform has been taken into consideration, or any redress afforded in
consequence of such a petition? This I regret, because I foresee the
consequence which must necessarily result from it. I do trust and
hope that before it is too late some measures shall be adopted for
redressing the grievances of the people; for certain I am that
unless some measures are taken to stop the feelings which the people
entertain towards this House and to restore their confidence in it,
you will one day have ample cause to repent the line of conduct you
have pursued. The gentlemen who now sit on the benches opposite
with such triumphant feelings will one day repent their conduct. The
commotions to which that conduct will inevitably give rise will shake,
not only this House, but the whole framework of Government and society
to its foundations. I have been actuated by the wish to prevent this,
and I have had no other intention.

"I shall not trespass longer on your time," he continued, in a few
broken sentences, uttered painfully and with agitation that aroused
much sympathy in the House. "The situation I have held for
eleven years in this House I owe to the favour of the electors of
Westminster. The feelings of my heart are gratified by the manner
in which they have acted towards me. They have rescued me from a
desperate and wicked conspiracy which has nearly involved me in total
ruin. I forgive those who have so done; and I hope when they depart to
their graves they will be equally able to forgive themselves. All
this is foreign to the subject before the House, but I trust you will
forgive me. I shall not trespass on your time longer now--perhaps
never again on any subject. I hope his Majesty's ministers will take
into their serious consideration what I now say. I do not utter it
with any feelings of hostility--such feelings have now left me--but
I trust they will take my warning, and save the country by abandoning
the present system before it is too late."




To an understanding of Lord Cochrane's share in the South American
wars of independence a brief recapitulation of their antecedents, and
of the state of affairs at the time of his first connection with them,
is necessary.

The Spanish possessions in both North and South America, which had
reached nearly their full dimensions before the close of the sixteenth
century, had been retained, with little opposition from without,
and with still less from within, down to the close of the eighteenth
century. These possessions, including Mexico and Central America, New
Granada, Venezuela, Peru, La Plata, and Chili, covered an area larger
than that of Europe, more than twice as large as that of the present
United States. Through half a dozen generations they had been governed
with all the short-sighted tyranny for which the Spanish Government is
famous; the resources of the countries had been crippled in order that
each day's greed might be satisfied; and the inhabitants, who, for the
most part, were the mixed offspring of Spanish and native parents,
had been kept in abject dependence and in ignorant ferocity. There
was plenty of internal hatred and strife; but no serious thought of
winning their liberty and working out their own regeneration seems to
have existed among the people of the several provinces, until it was
suggested by the triumphant success of the United States in throwing
off the stronger but much less oppressive thraldom of Great Britain.
That success having been achieved, however, it was soon emulated by
the colonial subjects of Spain.

The first leader of agitation was Francisco Miranda, a Venezuelan
Creole. He visited England in 1790, and received some encouragement in
his revolutionary projects from Pitt. He went to France in 1792, and
there, while waiting some years for fit occasion of prosecuting the
work on which his heart was set, he helped to fight the battle of the
revolution against the Bourbons and the worn-out feudalism of which
they were representatives. During his absence, in 1794, conspiracies
against Spain arose in Mexico and New Granada, and, these continuing,
he went in 1794, armed by secret promises of assistance from Pitt, to
help in fomenting them. They prospered for several years; and in 1806
Miranda obtained substantial aid from Sir Alexander Cochrane, Lord
Cochrane's uncle, then the admiral in command of the West India
station. But in 1806 Pitt died. The Whigs came into power, and with
their coming occurred a change in the English policy. In 1807, General
Crawfurd was ordered to throw obstacles in the way of Miranda, then
heading a formidable insurrection. The result was a temporary check
to the work of revolution. In 1810 Miranda renewed his enterprise
in Venezuela, still with poor success; and in the same year a fresh
revolt was stirred up in Mexico by Miguel Hidalgo, of Costilla, a
priest of Dolores. Hidalgo's insurrection was foolish in design and
bloodthirsty in execution. It was continued, in better spirit, but
with poor success, by Morelos and Rayon, who, sustaining a serious
defeat in 1815, left the strife to degenerate into a coarse bandit
struggle, very disastrous to Spain, but hardly beneficial to the cause
of Mexican independence.

In the meanwhile a more prosperous and worthier contest was being
waged in South America. Besides the efforts of Miranda in Venezuela,
which were renewed between 1810 and 1812, when he was taken prisoner
and sent to Spain, there to die in a dungeon, a separate standard of
revolt was raised in Quito by Narinno and his friends in 1809. After
fighting desperately, in guerilla fashion, for five years, Narinno
was captured and forced to share Miranda's lot. A greater man, the
greatest hero of South American independence, Simon Bolivar, succeeded

Bolivar, a native of Caraccas, had passed many years in Europe, when
in 1810, at the age of twenty-seven, he went to serve under Miranda
in Venezuela. Miranda's defeat in 1812 compelled him to retire to New
Granada, but there he did good service. He improved the fighting ways
and extended the fighting area, and in December, 1814, was appointed
captain-general of Venezuela and New Granada, soon, however, to be
driven back and forced to take shelter in Jamaica by the superior
strength of Morillo, the Spanish general, who arrived with a
formidable army in 1815. In 1816 Bolivar again showed himself in the
field at the head of his famous liberating army, which, crossing
over from Trinidad, and gaining reinforcements at every step, planted
freedom, such as it was, all along the northern parts of South
America, in which the new republic of Colombia was founded under his
presidency, in the neighbouring district of New Granada, and down to
the La Plata province, where he established the republic of Bolivia,
so named in his honour. With these patriotic labours he was busied
upon land, while Lord Cochrane was securing the independence of the
Spanish colonies by his brave warfare on the sea.

As the cause of liberty progressed in South America, it became
apparent that it had poor chance of permanence, while the
revolutionists were unable to cope with the Spaniards in naval
strife or to wrest from Spain her strongholds on the coast. This was
especially the case with the maritime provinces of Chili and Peru.
Peru, held firmly by the army garrisoned in Lima, to which Callao
served as an almost impregnable port, had been unable to share in the
contest waged on the other side of the Andes; and Chili, though
strong enough to declare its independence, was too weak to maintain it
without foreign aid.

The Chilian struggle began in 1810, when the Spanish captain-general,
Carrasco, was deposed, and a native government set up under Count de
la Conquista. By this government the sovereignty of Spain was still
recognised, although various reforms were adopted which Spain could
not be expected to endorse. Accordingly, in April, 1811, an attempt
was made by the Spanish soldiers to overturn the new order of
things. The result was that, after brief fighting, the revolutionists
triumphed, and the yoke of Spain was thrown off.

But the independence of Chili, thus easily begun, was not easily
continued. Three brothers, Jose Miguel, Juan Jose, and Luis Carreras,
and their sister, styled the Anne Boleyn of Chili, determined to
pervert the public weal to their own aggrandisement. Winning their way
into popularity, they overturned the national congress that had been
established in June, and in December set up a new junta, with Jose
Miguel Carrera at its head. A dismal period of misrule ensued, which
encouraged the Spanish generals, Pareja and Sanchez, to attempt the
reconquest of Chili in 1813. Pareja and Sanchez were successfully
resisted, and a better man, General Bernardo O'Higgins, the republican
son of an Irishman who had been Viceroy of Peru, was put at the
head of affairs. He succeeded to the command of the Chilian army in
November, 1813, when a fresh attack from the Spaniards was expected.
At first his good soldiership was successful. The enemy, having come
almost to the gates of Santiago, was forced to retire in May, 1814;
and the Chilian cause might have continued to prosper under O'Higgins,
had not the Carreras contrived, in hopes of reinstating themselves in
power, to divide the republican interests, and so, while encouraging
renewed invasion by the Spaniards from Lima, make their resistance
more difficult. Wisely deeming it right to set aside every other
consideration than the necessity of saving Chili from the danger
pressing upon it from without, O'Higgins effected a junction with the
Carreras, hoping thus to bring the whole force of the republic against
the royalist army, larger than its predecessors, which was marching
towards Santiago and Valparaiso. Had his magnanimous proposals been
properly acted upon, the issue might have been very different. But
the Carreras, even in the most urgent hour of danger, could not forget
their private ambitions. Holding aloof with their part of the army,
they allowed O'Higgins and his force of nine hundred to be defeated
by four thousand royalists under General Osorio, in the preliminary
fight which took place at the end of September. They were guilty of
like treachery during the great battle of the 1st of October. On that
day the royalists entered Rancagua, the town in which O'Higgins and
his little band had taken shelter. They were fiercely resisted, and
the fighting lasted through thirty-six hours. So brave was the conduct
of the patriots that the Spanish general was, after some hours'
contest, on the point of retreating. He saw that he would have no
chance of success, had the Carreras brought up their troops, as
was expected by both sides of the combatants. But the Carreras,
short-sighted in their selfishness, and nothing loth that O'Higgins
should be defeated, still held aloof. Thereupon the Spaniards took
heart, and made one more desperate effort. With hatchets and swords
they forced their way, inch by inch and hour by hour, into the centre
of the town. There, in an open square, O'Higgins, with two hundred
men--all the remnant of his little army--made a last resistance. When
only a few dozen of his soldiers were left alive, and when he himself
was seriously wounded, he determined, not to surrender, but to end the
battle. The residue of the patriots dashed through the town, cutting
a road through the astonished crowd of their opponents, and effected
a retreat in which those opponents, though more than twenty times as
numerous, durst not pursue them.

That memorable battle of Rancagua caused throughout the American
continent, and, across the Atlantic, through Europe, a thrill of
sympathy for the Chilian war of independence. But its immediate
effects were most disastrous. The Carreras, too selfish to fight
before, were now too cowardly. They and their followers fled.
O'Higgins had barely soldiers enough left to serve as a weak escort
to the fourteen hundred old men, women, and children who crossed the
Andes with him on foot, to pass two years and a half in voluntary
exile at Mendoza.

During those two years and a half the Spaniards were masters in
Santiago, and Chili was once more a Spanish province, in which the
inhabitants were punished terribly in confiscations, imprisonments,
and executions for their recent defection. Deliverance, however,
was at hand. General San Martin, through whom chiefly La Plata had
achieved its freedom, gave assistance to O'Higgins and the Chilian
patriots. The main body of the Spanish army, numbering about five
thousand, had been stationed on the heights of Chacabuco, whence
Santiago, Valparaiso, and the other leading towns of Chili were
overawed. On the 12th of February, 1817, San Martin and O'Higgins,
with a force nearly as large, surprised this garrison, and, with
excellent strategy and very little loss of life, to the patriots at
any rate, it was entirely subdued. Santiago was entered in triumph on
the 14th of February, and a few weeks served for the entire dispersion
of the royalist forces. The supreme directorship of the renovated
republic was offered to San Martin. On his declining the honour, it
was assigned, to the satisfaction of all parties, to O'Higgins.

The new dictator and the wisest of his counsellors, however, were not
satisfied with the temporary advantage that they had achieved. They
knew that armies would continue to come down from Peru, the defeat
of which, even if that could be relied upon, would waste all the
resources of the republic. They knew, too, that the Spanish war-ships
which supplied Peru with troops and ammunition from home, passing the
Chilian coast on their way, would seriously hinder the commerce on
which the young state had to depend for its development, even if
they did not destroy that commerce at its starting-point by seizing
Valparaiso and the other ports. Therefore they resolved to seek
for efficient help from Europe. With that end Don Jose Alvarez,
a high-minded patriot, who had done much good service to Chili in
previous years, was immediately sent to Europe, commissioned to borrow
money, to build or buy warships, and in all the ways in his power to
enlist the sympathies of the English people in the republican cause.
In the last of these projects, at any rate, he succeeded beyond all
reasonable expectation.

Beaching London in April, 1817, Alvarez was welcomed by many friends
of South American freedom--Sir Francis Burdett, Sir James Mackintosh,
Mr. Henry Brougham, and Mr. Edward Ellice among the number. Lord
Cochrane was just then out of London, fighting his amusing battle with
the sheriffs and bailiffs of Hampshire; but as soon as that business
was over he took foremost place among the friends of Don Alvarez and
the Chilian cause which he represented. With a message to him, indeed,
Alvarez was specially commissioned. He was invited by the Chilian
Government to undertake the organization and command of an improved
naval force, and so, by exercise of the prowess which he had displayed
in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, to render invaluable service to
the young republic.

He promptly accepted the invitation, being induced thereto by many
sufficient reasons. Sick at heart, as we have seen, under the cruel
treatment to which for so many years he had been subjected by his
enemies in power, he saw here an opportunity of, at the same
time, escaping from his persecutors, returning to active work in
a profession very dear to him, and giving efficient aid to a noble




Having accepted, in May, 1817, the offer conveyed to him by the
Chilian Government through Don Jose Alvarez, Lord Cochrane's departure
from England was delayed for more than a year. This was chiefly on
account of the war-steamer, the _Rising Star_, which it was arranged
to build and equip in London under his superintendence. But the work
proceeded so slowly, in consequence of the difficulty experienced by
Alvarez in raising the requisite funds, that, at last, Lord Cochrane,
being urgently needed in South America, where the Spaniards were
steadily gaining ground, was requested to leave the superintendence
of the _Rising Star_ in other hands, and to cross the Atlantic without

Accompanied by Lady Cochrane and his two children, he went first from
Rye to Boulogne, and there, on the 15th of August, 1818, embarked in
the _Rose_, a merchantman which had formerly been a warsloop. The long
voyage was uninteresting until Cape Horn was reached. There, and in
passing along the rugged coast-line of Tierra del Fuego, Lord Cochrane
was struck by its wild scenery. He watched the lazy penguins that
crowded on the rocks, among evergreens that showed brightly amid the
imposing mass of snow, and caught with hooks the lazier sea-pigeons
that skimmed the heavy waves and hovered round the bulwarks and got
entangled among the rigging of the _Rose_. He shot several of the
huge albatrosses that floated fearlessly over the deck, but was not
successful in his efforts to catch the fish that were seen coming to
the surface of the troubled sea. The sea was made so boisterous by
rain and snow, and such a stiff wind blew from the west, that for two
or three days the _Rose_ could not double the Cape. She was forced to
tack towards the south until a favourable gale set in, which carried
her safely to Valparaiso.

Valparaiso was reached on the 28th of November, after ten weeks passed
on shipboard. There and at Santiago, the seat of government, to which
he proceeded as soon as the congratulations of his new friends
would allow him, Lord Cochrane was heartily welcomed. So profuse and
prolonged were the entertainments in his favour--splendid dinners,
at which zealous patriots tendered their hearty compliments, being
followed by yet more splendid balls, at which handsome women showed
their gratitude in smiles, and eagerly sought the honour of being led
by him through the dances which were their chief delight--that he had
to remind his guests that he had come to Chili not to feast but to

There was prompt need of fighting. The Spaniards had a strong land
force pressing up from the south and threatening to invest Santiago.
Their formidable fleet swept the seas, and was being organized for an
attack on Valparaiso. Admiral Blanco Encalada had just returned from
a cruise in which he had succeeded in capturing, in Talcuanho Bay, a
fine Spanish fifty-gun frigate, the Maria Isabel; but his fleet
was ill-ordered and poorly equipped, quite unable, without thorough
re-organization, to withstand the superior force of the enemy. An
instance of the bad state of affairs was induced by Lord Cochrane's
arrival, and seemed likely to cause serious trouble to him and worse
misfortune to his Chilian employers. One of the republican vessels was
the _Hecate_, a sloop of eighteen guns which had been sold out of the
British navy and bought as a speculation by Captains Guise and Spry.
Having first offered her in vain to the Buenos Ayrean Government,
they had brought her on to Chili, and there contrived to sell her with
advantage and to be themselves taken into the Chilian service. They
and another volunteer, Captain Worcester, a North American, liking
the ascendancy over Admiral Bianco which their experience had won
for them, formed a cabal with the object of securing Admiral Blanco's
continuance in the chief command, or its equal division between him
and Lord Cochrane. Nothing but the Chilian admiral's disinterested
patriotism prevented a serious rupture. He steadily withstood all
temptations to his vanity, and avowed his determination to accept no
greater honour--if there could be a greater--than that of serving as
second in command under the brave Englishman who had come to fight
for the independence of Chili. Thus, though some troubles afterwards
sprang from the disaffections of Guise, Spry, and Worcester, the
mischief schemed by them was prevented at starting.

A few days after his arrival Lord Cochrane received his commission as
"Vice-Admiral of Chili, Admiral, and Commander-in-Chief of the
Naval Forces of the Republic." His flag was hoisted, on the 22nd
of December, on board the _Maria Isabel_, now rechristened the
_O'Higgins_, and fitted out as the principal ship in the small Chilian
fleet. The other vessels of the fleet were the _San Martin_, formerly
an Indiaman in the English service, of fifty-six guns; the _Lautaro_,
also an old Indiaman, of forty-four guns; the _Galvarino_, as the
_Hecate_ of Captains Cruise and Spry was now styled, of eighteen guns;
the _Chacabuco_, of twenty guns; the _Aracauno_, of sixteen guns; and
a sloop of fourteen guns named the _Puyrredon_.

The Spanish fleet, which these seven ships had to withstand, comprised
fourteen vessels and twenty-seven gunboats. Of the former three were
frigates, the _Esmeralda_, of forty-four guns, the _Venganza_, of
forty-two guns, and the _Sebastiana_, of twenty-eight guns; four were
brigs, the _Maypeu_, of eighteen guns, the _Pezuela_, of twenty-two
guns, the _Potrilla_, of eighteen guns, and another, whose name is not
recorded, also of eighteen guns. There was a schooner, name unknown,
which carried one large gun and twenty culverins. The rest were armed
merchantmen, the _Resolution_, of thirty-six guns; the _Cleopatra_, of
twenty-eight guns; the _La Focha_, of twenty guns; the _Guarmey_, of
eighteen guns; the Fernando, of twenty-six guns, and the San Antonio,
of eighteen guns. Only ten out of the fourteen, however, were ready
for sea; and before the whole naval force could be got ready for
service, it had been partly broken up by Lord Cochrane.

There was delay, also, in getting the Chilian fleet under sail. After
waiting at Valparaiso as long as he deemed prudent, Lord Cochrane left
the three smaller vessels to complete their equipment under Admiral
Blanco's direction, and passed out of port on the 16th of January,
with the O'Higgins, the San Martin, the Lautaro, and the Chacabuco. He
had hardly started before a mutiny broke out on board the last-named
vessel, which compelled him to halt at Coquimbo long enough to try
and punish the mutineers. Resuming the voyage, he proceeded along the
Chilian and Peruvian coast as far northward as Callao Bay, where he
cruised about for some days, awaiting an opportunity of attacking the
Spanish shipping there collected in considerable force.

While thus waiting he employed his leisure in observations, great and
small, of the sort and in the way characteristic of him all through
life. One of his rough notes runs thus:--"Cormorants resort in
enormous nights, coming in the morning from the northward to Callao
Bay, and proceeding along shore to the southward, diving in regular
succession one after another on the fish which, driven at the same
time from below by shoals of porpoises, seem to have no chance but to
be devoured under water or scooped up in the large bags pendent from
the enormous bills of the cormorants." "Prodigious seals," we read in
another note, "inhabit the rocks, whose grave faces and grey beards
look more like the human countenance than the faces of most other
animals. They are very unwieldy in their movements when on shore, but
most expert in the water. There is a small kind of duck in the bay,
which, from the clearness of the water, can be seen flying with its
wings under water in chase of small fry, which it speedily overtakes
from its prodigious speed."

From note-making of that sort, Lord Cochrane turned to more serious
business. The batteries of Callao and of San Lorenzo, a little island
in the bay which helped to form the port, mounted one hundred and
sixty guns, and more than twice as many were at the command of vessels
there lying-to. Direct attack of a force so very much superior to
that of the Chilian fleet seemed out of the question. Therefore
Lord Cochrane bethought him of a subterfuge. Learning that two North
American war-ships were expected at Callao, he determined to personate
them with the _O'Higgins_ and _Lautaro_, and so enter the port under
alien colours. It was then carnival-time, and on the 21st of February,
deeming that the Spaniards were more likely to be off their guard, he
proposed "to make a feint of sending a boat ashore with despatches,
and in the mean time suddenly to dash at the frigates and cut them
out." Unfortunately a dense fog set in, which lasted till the 28th,
and made it impossible for him to effect his purpose before the
carnival was over. Let the sequel be told in his own words.

"On the 28th, hearing heavy firing and imagining that one of the ships
was engaged with the enemy, I stood with the flag-ship into the
bay. The other ships, imagining the same thing, also steered in the
direction of the firing, when, the fog clearing for a moment, we
discovered each other, as well as a strange sail near us. This proved
to be a Spanish gunboat, with a lieutenant and twenty men, who, on
being made prisoners, informed us that the firing was a salute
in honour of the Viceroy, who had that morning been on a visit of
inspection to the batteries and shipping, and was then on board the
brig-of-war _Pezuela_, which we saw crowding sail in the direction
of the batteries. The fog, again coming on, suggested to me the
possibility of a direct attack. Accordingly, still maintaining our
disguise under American colours, the _O'Higgins_ and _Lautaro_ stood
towards the batteries, narrowly escaping going ashore in the fog. The
Viceroy, having no doubt witnessed the capture of the gunboat, had,
however, provided for our reception, the garrison being at their guns,
and the crews of the ships-of-war at their quarters. Notwithstanding
the great odds, I determined to persist in an attack, as our
withdrawing, without firing a shot, would produce an effect upon the
minds of the Spaniards the reverse of that intended. I had sufficient
experience in war to know that moral effect, even if the result of a
degree of temerity, will not unfrequently supply the place of superior

"The wind falling light, I did not venture on laying the flag-ship and
the _Lautaro_ alongside the Spanish frigates, as I at first intended,
but anchored with springs on our cables, abreast of the shipping,
which was arranged in a half-moon of two lines, the rear-rank being
judiciously disposed so as to cover the intervals of the ships in the
front line. A dead calm succeeded, and we were for two hours exposed
to a heavy fire from the batteries, in addition to that from the
two frigates, the brigs _Pezuela_ and _Maypeu_, and seven or eight
gunboats. Nevertheless the northern angle of one of the principal
forts was silenced by our fire. As soon as a breeze sprang up, we
weighed anchor, standing to and fro in front of the batteries,
and returning their fire, until Captain Guise, who commanded the
_Lautaro_, being severely wounded, that ship sheered off and never
again came within range. As, from want of wind, or doubt of the
result, neither the _San Martin_ nor the _Chacabuco_ had ever got
within fire, the flag-ship was thus left alone, and I was reluctantly
compelled to relinquish the attack. I withdrew to the island of San
Lorenzo, about three miles distant from the forts; the Spaniards,
though nearly quadruple our numbers, exclusive of their gunboats, not
venturing to follow us.

"The action having been commenced in a fog, the Spaniards imagined
that all the Chilian vessels were engaged. They were not a little
surprised, as it again cleared, to find that their own frigate, the
quondam _Maria Isabella_, was almost their only opponent. So much were
they dispirited by this discovery that, as soon as possible after the


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