Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/176

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also gifted with an unscrupulous impudence. On 20 Feb. 1814, while at Dover, he sent word to the admiral at Deal (whence the news was brought to London) that he was Lord Cathcart's aide-de-camp, and was the bearer of intelligence from Paris to the effect that Bonaparte had been killed, that the allies were in full march on Paris, and that immediate peace was certain. The funds rose suddenly, and then fell heavily; out of the fluctuation one of Cochrane's uncles, who had taken the name of Johnstone, netted, it was said, a very large sum. De Berenger meanwhile posted up to London, took a hackney coach and drove to Cochrane's house in Green Street, changing his dress on the way from the scarlet coat of a staff officer to his own green coat of a rifleman, and in Green Street again changing into plain clothes which he borrowed from Cochrane. He was traced to Green Street, and Cochrane thus learning that he was the perpetrator of the swindle, gave information that led to his arrest. De Berenger, Johnstone, and with them Cochrane were thus all apprehended and brought to trial. The case of Cochrane, who knew absolutely nothing of the affair, was mixed up with that of the others who were undoubtedly guilty; all were convicted, and Cochrane was sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000l, to stand in the pillory for an hour, and to be imprisoned in the king's bench prison for a year. The standing in the pillory was remitted, probably because Sir Francis Burdett, his fellowmember for Westminster, avowed his intention of standing with him, and the government feared a riot; but his name was struck off the list of the navy (25 June); he was expelled from the House of Commons (5 July); and, with every possible indignity, from the number of knights of the Bath. Within a few days of his being expelled from the House of Commons he was enthusiastically returned again by Westminster, the electors in a mass meeting passing a unanimous resolution that he 'was perfectly innocent of the Stock Exchange fraud, that he was a fit and proper person to represent their city in parliament, and that his re-election should be secured without any expense to him.' He, however, had to undergo his term of imprisonment, which, after he had escaped and been recaptured, was made cruelly severe. On 20 June 1815 he was told that, the term being expired, he would be set at liberty on paying the fine of 1,000l. On 3 July he reluctantly accepted his liberty, paying the fine with a bank note, on the back of which he wrote : 'My health having suffered by long and close confinement, and my oppressors being resolved to deprive me of property or life, I submit to robbery to protect myself from murder, in the hope that I shall live to bring the delinquents to justice.' This note is still preserved at the Bank of England. Cochrane always suspected Croker, the secretary of the admiralty, of having helped to contrive his disgrace. But there is no proof beyond the personal and political enmity which subsisted between the two men. On the day of his release Cochrane appeared in the House of Commons, just in time to give a casting vote against the proposal to increase the Duke of Cumberland's pension, and for the next two years he devoted himself both in and out of parliament to an active and energetic opposition to the government; an opposition which, though honest in principle, was embittered by his keen sense of the injustice to which he had been subjected. In August 1816, immediately after a stormy meeting at the London Tavern, and, as Cochrane maintained, in order to punish him for the very prominent part he had taken, he was brought to trial on a charge of breaking out of the king's bench prison seventeen months before. As he rested his defence entirely on the alleged illegality of imprisoning him, a member of parliament, he freely admitted having made his escape, and was on his own admission found guilty. Sentence was deferred, but three months afterwards, having again taken part in a large political meeting, he was condemned to pay a fine of 100l. This he refused to pay, and was taken into custody; the sentence, he said, amounted to one of perpetual imprisonment, as he would never pay a fine imposed for escaping from an illegal detention. The fine was, however, speedily raised by a penny subscription, and Cochrane was released after a confinement of sixteen days. The subscription once started was continued, and the 1,000l. previously paid was raised, actually in coppers, together with some further contribution towards his law expenses.

In May 1817 Cochrane accepted the invitation of the Chilian government to undertake the organisation and command of their navy, though in consequence of various delays he did not leave England till August 1818, when, crossing over to Boulogne, accompanied by his wife and two children, he sailed in the Rose merchantman. He reached Valparaiso on 28 Nov., and proceeded at once to Santiago, where he was received with the utmost enthusiasm. The Spaniards had a formidable squadron, and were preparing for an attack on Valparaiso, while the whole navy of Chili numbered only seven vessels, one of which, a 50-gun frigate captured from the Spaniards, andrechristened the O'Higgins, was an efficient man-of-war; the others were