Sir Robert Walpole was not a man, with his huge standing majority, to be readily frightened from his purpose. On the 14th of March, 1733, he brought forward his project in a speech in which he put forth all his ability, and that under a well-maintained air of moderation. He took advantage of the alarm that the tax was to be general, by representing the falsity of that declaration, and the very slight and limited nature of his real proposal. Adverting to what he called the common slander of his having intended to propose a general excise, he said: "I do most unequivocally assert that no such scheme ever entered my head, or, for what I know, the head of any man I am acquainted with. My thoughts have been confined solely to the duties on wine and tobacco; and it was the frequent advices I had of the shameful frauds committed in these two branches that turned my attention to a remedy for this growing evil. I shall for the present confine myself to the tobacco trade." He then detailed the various frauds on the revenue in tobacco, which he stated were of such extent and frequency, that the gross average produce of the tax was seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds.[63] but the nett average only a hundred and sixty thousand pounds. The remedy which he proposed was to transfer this revenue from the Customs to the Excise. That the same might afterwards be applied to wine, a system of warehousing for re-exportation or placing in bond was proposed, which, he said, "would tend to make London a free port, and, by consequence, the market of the world." He held out the expectation that the success of this plan would render the land tax unnecessary, and thus enable the Government to dispense with it entirely.

Of these unions and parishes 111 were declared and organised in the first year, 252 in the second, 205 in the third, and 17 in the fourth. Within the four years succeeding 1834 as many as 328 unions had workhouses completed and in operation, and 141 had workhouses building or in course of alteration. The work went on slowly till the whole country was supplied with workhouse[366] accommodation. The amount expended in providing new workhouses up to 1858 was 4,168,759, and in altering and enlarging old workhouses, 792,772; the total amount thus expended was upwards of five millions sterling.

SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH. (After the Portrait by Sir T. Lawrence, P.R.A.)

In fact, though the Allies still held out, it was useless. Bolingbrokefor St. John had been called in this year to the Upper House as Viscount Bolingbrokeaccompanied by Matthew Prior, had been in Paris since the beginning of August, where they were assisted also by the Abb Gualtier, determined to close the negotiations for England, whether the Allies objected or not. To make this result obvious to the whole world, the troops which Ormonde had brought home were disbanded with all practicable speed. The ostensible cause of Bolingbroke's and Prior's visit to Paris was to settle the interests of the Duke of Savoy and the Elector of Bavaria; but the real one was to remove any remaining impediment to the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace. France and England were quite agreed; Bolingbroke returned to London, and Prior remained as resident at the Court of France, as if the Articles of Peace were, in fact, already signed. A truce, indeed, for four months longer by land and sea was proclaimed in Paris. It was agreed that the Pretender should return to Lorraine; that all hostilities should cease in Italy in consequence of the arrangement of the affairs of the Duke of Savoy; and that the Austrian troops should be allowed to quit Spain and return to Naples.

But the year 1809 opened with one auspicious circumstance. There was no relief from the necessity of continuing the flight; but the proud Corsican, who hoped to annihilate the "English leopards," was suddenly arrested in his pursuit, and called away to contend with other foes. On the 1st of January he was in Astorga, and from the heights above it could see the straggling rear of the British army. Nothing but the most imperative urgency prevented him from following, and seeking a triumph over the hated Britishbut that urgency was upon him. Pressing dispatches from France informed him that the North was in ferment, and that Austria was taking the field. The intelligence was too serious to admit of a moment's delay; but he made sure that Soult could now conquer the British, and on the 2nd he turned his face northward, and travelled to Paris with a speed equal to that with which he had reached Spain.