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- Ten Englishmen of the Nineteenth Century - 1/41 -


By James Richard Joy


To My Daughter Helen With Her Father's Love


The object of this work is to set forth with as much clearness as possible the more important facts in the history of England in the nineteenth century. We have chosen to do this through the medium of biography, in the belief that the lives of a few representative men would present better opportunities for interesting and effective treatment than an historical narrative, which must have been encumbered by a mass of detail not capable of effective disposition within the limited space at our command. An introductory chapter serves to give a general view of the course of events and to show the relations of the men and movements which are afterward presented in more detail.

With but one exception our "Ten Englishmen" are men in public life, political or military. Artists, authors, preachers, and scholars were purposely left out of the account, because they are to receive prominence in other parts of the course for which this volume was written. The exception was made in the case of George Stephenson, because the revolution in transportation, due to his improvement of the locomotive engine, has had such a powerful influence upon the industrial development of the nation.

In bringing these great personages before the reader our intention has been quite as much historical as biographical. Each name is linked with some conspicuous problem in statesmanship, and the endeavor has been to set forth the work as well as the workman. It is hoped that the library notes appended to each chapter will be of assistance to the earnest student, in supplementing the meager outlines of this volume with the abundance of personal detail and wealth of dramatic incident which give life and action to history.

The appendix should not be overlooked. Its selections from authentic speeches, letters, dispatches, and other writings bring the reader into touch with the men who made England great.

One word more. Our "Ten" are not necessarily "THE Ten." They are the men whose lives lay in line with the writer's plan. If they serve to accentuate the leading features of the history we are not disposed to argue with those who would present other candidates for the honor of inclusion in the list.

James Richard Joy

Plainfield, N.J., June 4, 1902.



The opening of the nineteenth century found England in the midst of a great foreign war, which for almost a generation absorbed the thought and energy of the nation, and postponed for the time the vital questions of economic and political reform which clamored for settlement.


The war began in 1793, when the French nation, having overturned its ancient throne, and revolutionized its social and political institutions, set out on a democratic crusade for "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," which involved it in a conflict with the governments of Europe. William Pitt, who had been Prime Minister of George III. since 1783, had twice banded the European states against the French republican armies; but while the English fleets remained masters of the seas, the enthusiasm of the French soldiers, and the genius of their young generals, had thus far proved too strong for the mercenary battalions of despotism. In the closing month of the year 1800, Pitt's "Second Coalition" had been shattered by the defeat of the Allies at Hohenlinden. The Peace of Amiens which shortly ensued (March, 1802, to May, 1803) was but a delusion. England greeted it with joy and hope, but soon discovered its unreality. From the renewal of hostilities, in May, 1803, until the final triumph of the allies, in 1815, the war resolved itself into a struggle between Napoleon and England. This young Corsican lieutenant had raised himself by sheer force of genius and unscrupulous ambition to absolute power. His scheme for the subjugation of Europe beat down every obstacle except the steady and unbending opposition of England. Pitt, who had withdrawn from the government because of the stupid King's refusal to honor his Minister's pledges of equal rights to the Irish Catholics, was recalled by the universal voice ot the nation to organize the resistance. Napoleon had assembled immense armaments upon the Channel coast of France for a descent on England, and had created a vast flotilla to transport the force to Kent. Great Britain trembled with excited apprehension. Three hundred thousand volunteers offered their services to the government. But, as often in the past, Britain's best defense was her wooden walls, and the sagacity, seamanship, and valor of her sailors, who out- manoeuvered the combined fleets of France and Spain, crushed their power at Trafalgar (October, 1805), and secured the Channel against the invader. Pitt's gold had called into existence a third coalition (England, Russia. Austria, and Sweden), only to see Napoleon hurl it to the ground on the field of Austerlitz (December, 1805). England's isolation seemed as complete as the Emperor's victory. Russia, Austria, and Prussia made humiliating peace with the victor, who carved his conquests into new states and kingdoms. Pitt, who, at the news of Austerlitz, had pointed to the map of Europe with the words "Roll up that map, there will be no use for it these ten years," survived the calamity scarcely a month.

Unable to meet, as yet, the English troops in battle on the land as he had met and defeated those of the Continent, and unequal to England on the seas, Napoleon devised a more insidious plan of campaign. Believing that a "nation of shop-keepers" might be attacked through its trade, he issued from the Prussian capital, in 1806, the famous Berlin Decree, which was the first note of that "Continental System," which was intended to close the ports of Europe to British goods. The British government met this boycott by its "Orders in Council," which placed a blockade upon French ports, and authorized the capture of neutral vessels endeavoring to trade with them. This inconclusive commercial warfare lasted several years, but was far from being successful in its object of ruining England. Indeed, it is said that the most stringent enforcement of the "Decrees" and "Orders" did not prevent the Napoleonic armies from wearing uniforms of English cloth and carrying English steel in their scabbards.

England first began to make head against the French conqueror when that far-sighted minister George Canning sent Sir Arthur Wellesley to Portugal to take command of the British forces in the Peninsula. Wellesley had recently returned from India, where he had achieved a brilliant reputation for thoroughness of organization, precision of manoeuver, and unvarying success, qualities which at that time were lamentably rare among British generals. In Portugal first, and later in Spain, the sterling qualities of the new commander steadily gained ground for England, driving out the French marshals, and carrying this Peninsular War to a triumphant conclusion by the invasion of France (1814). Created Duke of Wellington for his successes in the Peninsula, Wellesley held command of the allied forces on the Belgian frontier when, on the 18th of June, 1815, they met and routed the French at Waterloo. That day made Napoleon an exile, and "the Iron Duke" the idol of the English lands in which he continued to be the most conspicuous personage for nearly half a century.


Waterloo brought England into new relations with the nations of Europe. The Congress of Vienna, in which the victors endeavored to restore the damage wrought by the Corsican intruder, added Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Malta, and a few less important islands, to the growing colonial empire of Great Britain. The Holy Alliance, which had been suggested by the Czar in 1815, at the friendly meeting of the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian sovereigns at Paris, was in theory a compact between these powerful rulers--"an intimate union on the basis of morality and religion"--but it soon degenerated into an unholy league for the mutual protection of these three despotic dynasties against the dormant forces of constitutional liberty, which began to stir again in every European state as soon as the Napoleonic specter had been laid. The French Revolution had given currency to opinions which no congress of sovereigns could wholly repress,

Ten Englishmen of the Nineteenth Century - 1/41

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