The lace manufacture was still prosecuted merely by hand, and chiefly in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and in the West of England. No lace was produced from machinery before 1768. Undismayed, Fox renewed the contest on the following day, December 15th, by moving that an humble address should be presented to his Majesty, praying him to send an ambassador to France to treat with the persons constituting the existing executive Government. He said that he did not mean to vindicate what had taken place in that country, although, if we condemned the crimes committed in France, we must also condemn those of Morocco and Algiers, and yet we had accredited agents at the courts of those countries.

At length Argyll, whose movements had been hastened by the arrival of General Cadogan, prepared to march northwards through deep snow and villages burnt by the Pretender's order. On the 30th of January the rebel army retreated from Perth, the Highland soldiers, some in sullen silence, others in loud curses, expressing their anger and mortification at this proceeding. The inhabitants looked on in terror, and bade adieu to the troops in tears, expecting only a heavy visitation for having so long harboured them. Early the next morning they crossed the deep and rapid Tay, now, however, a sheet of solid ice, and directed their march along the Carse of Gowrie towards Dundee.

Napoleon, finding Blucher gone, turned his attentions to Wellington, expecting to find him still at Quatre Bras; but, as we have said, the Duke was now on his retreat to Waterloo. Buonaparte dispatched his cavalry in hot haste after him, and they came up with his rear at Genappe, where the British had to pass through a narrow street, and over a narrow bridge across the Dyle. There the French came with such impetus that they threw the light cavalry into confusion; but the heavy dragoons soon rode back, and drove the French with such effect before them, that they made no further interruption of the march. Without an enemy at their rear the march was repugnant enough to the soldiers. British soldiers abominate anything like a retreat. They had heard of the defeat of the Prussians at Ligny; and this retrograde movement looked too much of the same character to please them. Besides, it was raining torrents all the way; and they had to tramp across fields up to the knees in mud. At five in the evening, however, the Duke commanded a halt, and took up his position on ground which thenceforth was to be immortal. He was on the field of Waterloo! Long before this the position had attracted his attention, and he had thought that had he to fight a battle anywhere in that part of the country, it should be on that ground. About two miles beyond the village of Waterloo, which has been chosen to bear the name of this famous battle, and about a mile beyond the hamlet of Mont St. Jean, there stretches across the Charleroi road a ridge of some elevation. On this Wellington posted his army, his left extending to a hamlet called La Haye, and his right across the Nivelles road, to a village and ravine called Braine Merbes. These two roads united in the highway to Brussels, just behind the hamlet of Mont St. Jean, and close behind the centre of Wellington's position was the farm of Mont St. Jean; a little below his centre, on the Charleroi road or causeway, leading through Genappe to Quatre Bras, whence they had come, was another farmhouse, called La Haye Sainte. On Wellington's right, but down in the valley near the Nivelles road, lay an old chateau, with its walled orchard, and a wood beyond it, called Hougomonta contraction of Chateau-Gomont. Below this[98] position ran a valley, and from it ascended opposite other rising grounds, chiefly open cornfields; and along this ascent, at about half a mile distant, Buonaparte posted his army, shutting in by his right the chateau of Hougomont, and commanding it from the high ground. Nearly opposite to Wellington's centre stood a farmhouse, enclosed in its orchards, called La Belle Alliance. There Buonaparte took his stand, and kept it during all the fighteach commander being able to view the whole field. Close behind Wellington the ground again descended towards Mont St. Jean, which gave a considerable protection to his reserves, and kept them wholly out of the observation of the French. To make the situation of Wellington's army clear, we have only to say that behind the village of Waterloo extended the beech wood of Soigne along the road to Brussels for the greater part of the way. On the 12th of February, 1823, the President of the Board of Trade said, in his place in Parliament:"The general exports of the country in the four years from 1815 to 1819 had decreased 14,000,000 in official value; and he took the official value in preference to the declared, because it was from the quantity of goods produced that the best measure was derived of the employment afforded to the different classes of the community. In the year from the 5th of January, 1819, to the 5th of January, 1820, the exports of the country fell off no less than 11,000,000; and in looking at that part of it which more completely embraced British or Irish manufacture, he found that the difference in four years was 8,414,711; and that in the year from the 5th of January, 1820, to the 5th of January, 1821, there was a decrease of 8,929,629. Nobody, therefore, could be surprised that, at that period, the industry of the country appeared to be in a state of the utmost depression; that our manufacturers were most of them unemployed; that our agriculturists were many of them embarrassed; and that the country, to use the phrase of a friend of his in presenting a petition from the merchants of London, 'exhibited all the appearances of a dying nation.' Though the condition of the agricultural interest was not as favourable as he could wish, still it was most satisfactory for him to state that not only did the exports of last year [1822] exceed those of all the years to which he had been alluding, but also those of the most flourishing year which had occurred during the continuance of the war. In all material articles there had been a considerable increase. The export of cotton had increased ten per cent., and hardware seventeen per cent.; of linens twelve per cent., and of woollens thirteen per cent.; and the aggregate exports of 1822 exceeded those of 1820 by twenty per cent., and of 1821 by seven per cent., notwithstanding a deduction was to be made from the exports of one great article, sugar, owing to a prohibitory decree of Russia, amounting to thirty-five per cent." The result of this prosperous state of things was that, in 1823, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer was enabled to present the best and most popular Budget that had been laid before Parliament for many years, remitting a large amount of taxes that had pressed most heavily on the springs of industry, and inflicted the greatest amount of inconvenience and privation upon the people. The revenue of the nation in that year was 57,000,000, and the expenditure was estimated at 49,672,999, leaving a surplus of upwards of 7,000,000. Of this surplus, 5,000,000 was set aside for the reduction of the National Debt, and the remainder for the remission of taxes. As the assessed taxes were most oppressive, they were reduced fifty per[239] cent., a reduction which was estimated on the window tax alone at 1,205,000. On the whole, the assessed taxes were reduced by 2,200,000. This included 100,000, the total amount of assessed taxes in Ireland. In England the whole of the window tax was removed from the ground floors of shops and warehouses.

Lord Eldon, who was by no means weary of political life, became uneasy about his position, and certain arrangements at which the king had mysteriously hinted. The Lord Chancellor religiously obeyed his injunction to abstain from speaking on politics to anybody. But he was revolving in his mind not less anxiously who was to be the new leader of the House of Commons, and how the Constitution in Church and State might be best protected against the spirit of innovation. On the king's return from his northern metropolis the Lord Chancellor was about to press upon him the promotion to the vacant leadership of the House of Commons of Mr. Peel, who had won high distinction in the late debate upon the Catholic peers, when he found, to his unspeakable chagrin, that Lord Liverpool himself had selected Mr. Canning, and overcome the royal objections to him on the ground of his having been formerly the champion of the queen. He had represented to the king that this was the only arrangement by which the Whigs could be effectually excluded, and he gave him an assurance that Catholic Emancipation, though left an open question, should be resolutely opposed. Great as Mr. Canning's talents for Parliament were, and great as was the want of talent on the Ministerial side of the House, it was not without the utmost reluctance that the Cabinet consented to receive him as an associate. They invited him to fill the place vacated by Lord Londonderry, because he was forced upon them by circumstances, and they felt that the Government could not go on without his aid. His only competitor was Mr. Peel, who had not yet had sufficient opportunity of evincing his great powers for the conduct and discussion of public affairs to command the station which many of his colleagues would have gladly seen assigned to him. Canning was unpopular with the anti-Catholic party in general, and particularly obnoxious to the Lord Chancellor; and, besides, there was the great objection of his having been the friend and adherent of the queen. But Lord Liverpool, the Premier, having been associated with him from early life, was so thoroughly convinced that he was the fittest man for the post, and so well acquainted with his transcendent powers of intellect, that he prevailed upon him to relinquish the Governor-Generalship of India, to which he had been appointed, and to accept the vacant Secretaryship for Foreign Affairs, together with the leadership of the Commons. [See larger version]

The general result of the elections was considered to have diminished by fifty the number of votes on which Ministers could depend, and the relation in which they now stood to the more popular part of the representation was stated to be as follows:Of the eighty-two members returned by the forty counties of England, only twenty-eight were steady adherents of the Ministry; forty-seven were avowed adherents of the Opposition, and seven of the neutral cast did not lean much to Government. Of the thirteen popular cities and boroughs (London, Westminster, Aylesbury, etc.), returning twenty-eight members, only three seats were held by decidedly Ministerial men, and twenty-four by men in avowed opposition. There were sixty other places, more or less open, returning 126 members. Of these only forty-seven were Ministerial; all the rest were avowed Opposition men, save eight, whose leaning was rather against the Government than for it. Of the 236 men then returned by elections more or less popular in England, only seventy-nine were Ministerial votes; 141 were in avowed opposition, and sixteen of a neutral cast.