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Astounded by these repeated defections, Louis tried to gather some notion of the state of other bodies and troops about him. He attended a sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, and was received with acclamation; he reviewed twenty-five thousand of the National Guard, and there was the same display of loyalty; he inspected six thousand troops of the line, but there the reception was not encouraging. He finally summoned a council at the Tuileries, and there the generals declared frankly that he had no real means of resisting Buonaparte. This was on the 18th of March, and Louis felt that it was time for him to be making his retreat. At one o'clock in the morning of the 20th he was on his way towards Lille, escorted by a body of Household Troops. It was time, for that very day Buonaparte reached the camp of Mlun, where Macdonald had drawn up the troops to attack him; but Buonaparte threw himself amongst them, attended only by a slight escort of horse, and the soldiers all went over to him with a shout. Macdonald rode back to Paris, and, following the king, assumed the command of the Guard accompanying him. Louis hoped that the troops at Lille, under Mortier, would stand by him; but Mortier assured him of the contrary, and so, taking leave of Macdonald on the frontiers, Louis pursued his way to Ostend and thence to Ghent, where he established his Court. The Household Troops who had accompanied him were disbanded on the frontiers, and in attempting to regain their homes by different routes, most of them were killed, or plundered and abused.

It was on this occasion that Mr. Disraeli, rising from the benches filled with the ordinary supporters of the Government, delivered one of those bitter and sarcastic diatribes which thenceforward proved so effective in arousing the revengeful feelings of those of the party who believed their interests to have been betrayed in deference to the League. "I remember," he said, "in 1841 the right hon. baronet used these words: he said, 'I have never joined in the anti-slavery cry, and now I will not join in the cry of cheap sugar.' Two years have elapsed, and the right hon. gentleman has joined in the anti-slavery cry, and has adopted the cry of cheap sugar. But," he continued, appealing to the rebellious supporters of the Government, whom the Minister had just defied, "it seems that the right hon. baronet's horror of slavery extends to every place except the benches behind him. There the gang is still assembled, and there the thong of the whip still resounds. The right hon. gentleman," he added, "came into power upon the strength of our votes, but he would rely for the permanence of his Ministry upon his political opponents. He may be righthe may even be to a certain degree successful in pursuing the line of conduct which he has adopted, menacing his friends, and cringing to his opponents; but I, for one, am disposed to look upon it as a success neither tending to the honour of the House nor to his own credit. I therefore must be excused if I declare my determination to give my vote upon this occasion as I did in the former instance; and as I do not follow the example of the hon. and gallant member near me (Sir H. Douglas), it will not subject me to the imputation of having voted on the former occasion without thought or purpose." The appeal of the Ministers, however, was, fortunately for the Free Trade movement, for a time successful. The Government were reinstated by a vote of 255 to 233, in a House in which both parties had evidently done their utmost. Alberoni, though defeated at sea, was more successful in Sicily, and he continued his cabals against England in nearly every Court of Europe with only the more assiduity. He was zealously at work in France, England itself, Holland, Piedmont, and Sweden. By his ambassador at the Hague he endeavoured to keep the Dutch out of the Quadruple Alliance by exciting their commercial jealousy; but he was ably opposed by our minister there, the Earl of Cadogan. In Piedmont he endeavoured to deter Victor Amadeus from entering into this alliance by assuring him that he was only endeavouring to secure Sicily to keep it out of the hands of the Austrians, and reserve it for him; while, on the other hand, he threatened him with thirty thousand bayonets if he dared to accede to the Quadruple Treaty. The Allies, however, threatened still greater dangers, and the Duke at last consented to accept Sardinia in lieu of Sicily, and that island remains attached to the kingdom of Italy to the present time. Soon it became apparent that the Italians were disunited, monarchists against republicans, and Milanese against Piedmontese. Radetzky, meanwhile, had received ample reinforcements, and in June set himself to reduce Venetia. Fortress after fortress fell, and by the end of the month the province, with the exception of the capital, was once more in Austrian hands. Then the sturdy[585] old warrior crushed the Piedmontese at Custozza and drove them pell-mell across the Mincio, after a battle which lasted three days. Charles Albert, unequal to his position, and worn out by the dissensions of his staff, surrendered Milan without a struggle, and by August, 1848, the fate of Lombardy was sealed. In vain the Lombards appealed to France; the cautious Cavaignac had there replaced the sentimental Lamartine. He offered, indeed, to join with England in mediation, and, with his consent, Lord Palmerston proposed the terms which had been previously offered by Baron Hummelauer. The Austrians, however, declined to negotiate on that basis, and at last on the 25th of September declared that they would consent to no cession of territory. However, there was a cessation of hostilities.

In our time this defeat would, as a matter of course, have turned out the Ministry, but in that day it had no such effect. They continued to hold office, and to command undiminished majorities on other questions. Still more singular was its effect, for it induced them to offer office to their triumphant opponent Walpole, who not only accepted a subordinate post amongst themthe Paymaster of the Forcesbut consented to support the very clauses regarding the Scottish peers which he had so firmly denounced, should they be inclined to bring forward the Bill a third time.

Buonaparte now prepared for his coronation. Whilst at Mayence, on the Rhinewhere the German princes flocked to pay abject homage to him as their protector, no nations, except Great Britain, Russia, and Sweden, keeping aloofhe despatched one of his aides-de-camp, General Caffarelli, an Italian, to invite the Pope to go to Paris to crown the new emperor and empress. Pius VII. had already been compelled to submit to the terms of the Concordat, which had made such inroads into the ancient power of the Church; and he knew very well that to refuse this request would bring down upon him fresh humiliations. Buonaparte, who affected to imitate Charlemagne as the founder of the French nation, passing over all the kings of France as unworthy of notice, determined to inaugurate the Second Empire by a still bolder stretch of authority than Charlemagne himself. That monarch had condescended to make the journey to Italy to receive the privilege of coronation from Pope Leo; but Buonaparte resolved that poor old Pope Pius VII. should come to him in France. His desire was carried out to the letter, and Pius arrived at Fontainebleau on the 25th of November. The 2nd of December having been fixed for the coronation, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was gorgeously decorated for the occasion, and the ceremony was performed amidst the utmost pomp and magnificence, Napoleon himself putting the crown on his head and then placing the Empress's diadem on the head of the kneeling Josephine. During the whole proceedings the Pope was made to play a secondary part. He simply "assisted" at the function. The ceremony was followed by a profuse creation of marshals and nobles. ELECTION MEETING IN IRELAND. (See p. 254.)