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    Lord Howe now prepared to attack New York, where Washington had about thirty thousand men. But the latter's troops were ill-equipped, and deficient in discipline. Washington expected that Howe would attack New York by the way of Long Island, and so he had posted nine thousand men at Brooklyn, nearly opposite to it, behind entrenchments thrown up by General Greene. Greene had been attacked by fever; and General Putnam, who had taken his post, was but indifferently acquainted with the position of the forces and the nature of the ground they would have to defend with a rabble of most insubordinate troops. In these circumstances General Howe, on the morning of the 22nd of August, threw over from Staten Island into Long Island four thousand men, under the command of General Clinton. They landed in Gravesend Bay, under cover of the artillery of three frigates and two bombs. The rest of the army followed with the artillery. Washington hastened over from New York to strengthen General Sullivan, who was in command on the island. He posted no less than fifteen thousand men along a peninsula at that end of the island facing New York.
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    In balancing accounts at the Congress at Paris, there was a resignation on the part of Great Britain of the colonies which she had won with so much cost of money and men. Our statesmen never thought of placing some of the enormous sums we had bestowed on the Powers we helped against the islands we had conquered. We had dearly purchased them. But Great Britain gave back to France all the colonies possessed by her in 1792, except Tobago, St. Lucia, and the Isle of France. Still more absurdly, we returned Pondicherry, in the East Indies, as a focus for fresh annoyances there from the French, whom we had expelled at such cost for their meddling and exciting the natives against us. We restored to the French, under certain conditions, the right of fishing on the bank of Newfoundland, as they had enjoyed it in 1783; conditions which they boldly violated, and which the British Ministry did not venture to insist on being observed. We gave back also to Spain several islands and colonies; and the same to Hollandnamely, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, the immense island of Java, and the rich one of Sumatra, retaining only the Cape of Good Hope and the settlements in Ceylon.

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    Skibbereen was described as "one mass of famine, disease, and death; the poor rapidly sinking under fever, dysentery, and starvation." There, as early as the first week in February, 1847, there was constant use for a coffin with movable sides, in which the dead were borne to the grave, and there dropped into their last resting-place. On the whole, the resignation of this stricken people was something wonderful. Outrage was rare, and the violations of the rights of property were not at all so numerous as might have been expected from persons rendered desperate by hunger; and where such things occurred, the depredators were not those who suffered the severest distress. But as the famine proceeded in its desolating course, and people became familiar with its horrors, the demoralising effects of which we have read in such visitations were exhibited in Ireland also. Next to the French, the Irish have been remarkable for their attention to the dead, as well as for the strength of their domestic affections. They had a decent pride in having a respectable "wake" and funeral when they lost any member of the family; and however great their privations were, they made an effort to spare something for the last sad tokens of respect for those they loved. But now there was no mourning for the dead, and but little attention paid to the dying. The ancient and deep-rooted custom with regard to funerals was "swept away like chaff before the wind." The funerals were rarely attended by more than three or four relatives or friends. Sometimes the work of burial was left entirely to persons hired to do it, and in many cases it was not done at all for five or six days after death, and then it was only by threats and rewards that any persons could be got to perform the dangerous duty.

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    The French left six hundred killed and wounded on the field; the British had four hundred and eighty killed or disabled. Laborde retreated amongst the hills to the village of Azambugueira, and thence to Torres Vedras, where he looked for the junction of Loison, and where that general really appeared. Still the British force was equal, if not superior, in numbers to the French, and Sir Arthur Wellesley advanced along the sea-coast to Vimiera, where he was joined by Generals Anstruther and Acland. Unfortunately, at this moment arrived Sir Harry Burrard, whom the Ministry had ordered to supersede Sir Arthur Wellesley in the chief command till the arrival of Sir Hew Dalrymple, who was to be the General-in-Chief; Burrard, second in command; and Wellesley, Sir John Moore, Lord Paget, Sir John Hope, and Macdonald Frazer, to command different[560] divisions. Thus, by the old system of routine, the real military genius was reduced from the first to the fourth in command. Sir Arthur went on board Sir Harry Burrard's vessel on the evening of his arrival, the 20th of August, and explained to him the positions of the armies, and his plan of advancing along the coast to Mafra, thus turning the flank of Laborde and Loison, and compelling them to fight or retreat on Lisbon. This was clearly the view of every one of the officers, who were eager to press on; but Sir Harry, old and cautious, was of opinion that nothing more should be risked till Sir John Moore arrived with his reinforcements. Sir Arthur must have returned under a sense of deep disappointment, but, fortunately for him, the enemy did not allow of his waiting for Sir John Moore. At midnight he received a hasty message that the French were in motion, and coming in one dense mass of twenty thousand men to surprise and rout him. Sir Arthur was strongly posted in the village of Vimiera and on the hills around it. He sent out patrols, and ordered the pickets to be on the alert, and he then called out his troops, and had them in good fighting order by the dawn of day. At about seven o'clock the advance of the enemy was perceived by the clouds of dust that rose into the air, and soon they were seen coming on in columns of infantry, preceded by cavalry. By ten o'clock the French were close at hand, and made an impetuous attack on the British centre and left, to drive them into the sea, according to a favourite French phrase, the sea actually rolling close to their rear. The first troops which came into collision with them were the 50th regiment, commanded by Colonel Walker. Seeing that the intention of the French, who were led by Laborde himself, was to break his line by their old method of pushing on a dense column by a momentum from behind, which drove in the van like a wedge, in spite of itself, Colonel Walker instantly changed the position of his regiment so as, instead of a parallel line, to present an oblique one to the assailing column. This was, therefore, driven on by the immense rear, and, instead of breaking the British line, was actually taken in flank by it, and the musketry and grape-shot mowed down the French in a terrible manner. This was at once succeeded by a rapid charge with the bayonet; and so astonishing was the effect of this unexpected movement, that the French were thrown into irretrievable confusion, and broke on every side. Whilst this was the effect on the centre and left, General Sir Ronald Fergusson was attacked with equal impetuosity by Loison: bayonets were crossed, and the same result as took place at Maida occurredthe French fell back and fled. Nothing was wanted but a good body of cavalry to follow up the flying foe, and completely reduce them to surrender. The small body of horse, commanded by Colonel Taylor, fought with an ardour that led them too far into the centre of Margaron's powerful cavalry, and Colonel Taylor was killed, and half of his little troop with him. Kellermann, to stop the pursuit, posted a strong reserve in a pine wood, on the line of retreat, but they were driven out at the point of the bayonet. Had the orders of General Wellesley now been carried out, the French would have been cut off from much further retreat. General Hill was commanded to take a short cut, and interpose between the French and the strong position of Torres Vedras, and General Fergusson was directed to follow sharply in their rear. In all probability they must have capitulated at once; but here the evil genius of Sir Harry Burrard again interfered to save them. He appeared on the field and thought sufficient had been done till Sir John Moore arrived. It was not enough for him that the French had now been twice put to rout within a few days, and were in full flight, and that they were found not to be twenty thousand, but only eighteen thousand strong. He ordered the pursuit to cease, and the army to sit down at Vimiera till the arrival of Moore. To the great astonishment of the French, and the equal mortification of the British, the retreating enemy was thus allowed to collect their forces and take possession of the heights of Torres Vedras.

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    Mr. Smith O'Brien, early in July, gave occasion for another great debate on the state of Ireland, by moving that the House resolve itself into a committee for the purpose of taking into consideration the causes of the discontent prevailing there, with a view to the redress of grievances, and the establishment of a system of just and impartial government in that part of the United Kingdom. The honourable gentleman reviewed the history of the country since the union, discussed the questions of the National Debt and taxation, the Church Establishment, the position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Government appointments, Coercive Acts, and land tenure. Lord Eliot, then Chief Secretary of Ireland, answered his arguments at length. A great number of speakers followed, continuing the debate for five nights. At length the House divided, when the numbers wereagainst the motion for a committee, 243; for it, 164. The whole of these vexed questions again came up on the 9th of August, when the Irish Arms Bill was set down for the third reading. On this occasion Sir Robert Peel made some remarks, expressing the feeling of his Government with regard to Ireland, declaring that he viewed the state of things there with deep anxiety and pain. He had hoped that there was a gradual abatement of animosity on account of religious differences; that he saw the gradual influence of those laws which removed the political disabilities of Catholics and established civil equality. He thought he saw, in some respects, a great moral and social improvement; that there was a hope of increasing tranquillity, which would cause the redundant and superfluous capital of England, then seeking vent in foreign and precarious speculations, to flow into Ireland. But the agitation had, in his opinion, blasted all those hopes.

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