[See larger version]But unfortunately for the Pretender, at the moment that the Swedish hero should prepare his armament for the earliest spring, the conspiracy exploded. Whilst the leaders of it had been flattering themselves that it was conducted with the profoundest secrecy, the English Ministry were in possession of its clue. As early as October they had found reason to induce them to intercept the correspondence of Gyllenborg, and had come at once on the letters of Gortz. The matter was kept close, and as nothing was apprehended in winter, Ministers used the time to improve their knowledge of the scheme from the inspected letters passing between Gortz and Gyllenborg. On the king's return it was resolved to act, and accordingly Stanhope laid the information regarding this formidable conspiracy before the Council, and proposed that the Swedish Minister, who had clearly, by conspiring against the Government to which he was accredited, violated the law of nations, and deprived himself of its protection, should be arrested. The Cabinet at once assented to the proposal, and General Wade, a man of firm and resolute military habits, was ordered to make the arrest of the Ambassador. The general found Count Gyllenborg busy making up his despatches, which, after announcing laconically his errand, Wade took possession of, and then demanded the contents of his escritoire. The Dutch Government acted in the same manner to Gortz, and the evidence thus obtained was most conclusive.
The Bute Ministry was now in power, and determined on reversing the policy of Pitt—policy which had added so magnificently to the territory and glory of the country. Bute had now to seek powerful connections to enable him to carry on. The commonplace man seeks to make up for his feebleness by associating with him, not men of merit, but men of aristocratic connection. For this reason he conferred the Privy Seal on the Duke of Bedford, and the Seal of Secretary on the Earl of Egremont. To break the force of popular indignation for the loss of Pitt from the helm—for the people knew who was the great man and successful minister well enough—the king was advised to confer some distinguished mark of favour on Pitt. He was offered the government of Canada as a sinecure, with five thousand pounds a year. Pitt was not the man to undertake a highly responsible office without discharging the duties, and he was next offered the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster; but he preferred a simple pension of three thousand pounds a-year, and that a title should be conferred on his wife. By this arrangement he was left in the House of Commons, and in a position to continue his exertions for the country. Both these suggestions were complied with.The treaty between Russia, Prussia, and Austria for the first division of Poland was signed at St. Petersburg on the 5th of August, 1772. The three robber powers now promised to rest satisfied with their booty; to respect the rights and remaining territories of Poland—words hollow and worthless as they who used them. The invaders divided at this time about one-third of Poland between them. Prussia appropriated the whole of Pomerania, part of Great Poland, the bishopric of Warmia, and the palatinates of Marienburg and Culm; with complete command of the lower part of the Vistula. The whole of this territory did not exceed eight hundred square miles, but it was a territory of vast importance to Prussia, as it united Pomerania with the rest of that kingdom. Russia and Austria acquired immensely more in extent. Russia took nearly the whole of Lithuania, with the vast country between the rivers Dwina and Dniester. Austria secured the country along the left bank of the Vistula from Wieliczka to the confluence of the Vistula and the Viroz. But Russia had Galicia, the palatinate of Belz, and a part of Volhynia. Unsupported by France, England had no course but to acquiesce in the arrangement.
Such was the peace abroad and the prosperity of the country at this time, that there occur few events worthy of record. Of those which took place in 1731, the most remarkable was an Act abolishing the use of Latin in all proceedings of the Courts of Justice, and the next the renewal of the charter of the East India Company. If the country was peaceful and prosperous, however, it was neither free from corruption nor from the need of extensive reform. The very system of Walpole which produced such a show of prosperity that an old Scottish Secretary of State asked the Minister what he had done to make the Almighty so much his friend, was built on the most wholesale bribery and corruption. It was, in fact, a purchased domestic peace. In social life the example of the Government produced the like dishonesty. There was a fearful revelation of the proceedings of a charitable corporation for lending small sums of money to the industrious poor at legal interest; and Sir Robert Sutton, the late Ambassador at Paris, was found so deeply implicated in the frauds and extortions practised on those they were employed to benefit, that he was expelled from the House. There was also an inquiry into the state of the public prisons of London, which opened up a most amazing scene of horrors. It was found to be a common practice of the warders to connive at the escape of rich prisoners for a sufficient bribe, and to inflict the most oppressive cruelties on those who were too poor to pay heavy fees.The turn of affairs on the Continent justified Walpole's gravest apprehensions. France was discovered to have made a compact with Spain, and once having taken this step, she displayed her usual activity in every Court of Europe, to induce the allies to break with England and prevent her from making new leagues. Walpole did his best to counteract these French influences. He managed to secure the Russian Court, before in connection with France, and subsidised Sweden, Denmark, Hesse-Cassel, and some other of the German States. But at this crisis (1740) died the savage old Frederick William of Prussia, and his son Frederick now commenced that extraordinary military career which obtained him the name of the Great. Temptingly adjoining his own territory, the young king beheld that of an equally young female sovereign, Maria Theresa of Austria, and he determined to extend his kingdom at her expense. The mystery of Frederick's movements was dissipated by his crossing, on the 23rd of December, the Austrian frontiers into Silesia. It was seen that it was the favourable opportunity of overpowering a weak neighbour which had tempted the Prussian to break his engagement, and to endeavour to make himself master of the domains of a defenceless young princess. But Frederick brought out some antiquated claims on the province Of Silesia, and on these he justified his breach of treaties. Maria Theresa applied, in her alarm, to the Powers who had concurred in the Pragmatic Sanction, but all except George II. fell away instantly from her. They believed her incapable of defending her territories, and hoped to come in for a share of the spoil. The Elector of Bavaria joined Prussia; Saxony did the same; France was eager for the promised half of the winnings; and Spain and Sardinia assured Frederick of their secret support. George II., confounded by this universal defection, advised Maria Theresa to compromise the affair with Prussia by giving up half Silesia, or the whole, if necessary; but the high-spirited queen rejected the proposal with scorn, and called on George to furnish the troops guaranteed by England under the Pragmatic Sanction. George could, however, only assemble some few soldiers on the Hanoverian frontier, but this obliged Frederick to appropriate a considerable section of his army to guard against any attack from Hanover."The disease by which the plant has been affected has prevailed to the greatest extent in Ireland.
CHAPTER XIX. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).[See larger version]The fire raged with unabated fury from the 14th till the 19th—five days. Then the city lay a heap of burning ashes. All the wealth which was left behind was burnt or melted down. But there could be no stay at Moscow, for all their provisions had to be brought from distant districts by water carriage in summer, and on sledges in winter. But, as the Russian population had fled, the Russians were only too glad to starve out the French. Not a single article of food came near the place. Alexander returned no answer to Buonaparte's letter. The pledge which he might have made some concessions to redeem had been destroyed by his own orders, and Buonaparte had now nothing to offer worthy of his attention. He and his army were awaiting the attack of the wintry elements to join them in the extermination of the invaders. Buonaparte dispatched General Lauriston to Alexander with fresh offers; but Alexander refused to see him, and turned him over to Kutusoff, who flattered him with hopes and professions of desire for peace, in order to put off the time, for every day nearer to winter was a day gained of incalculable importance. But he said that he must send Napoleon's letter to St. Petersburg, to the Czar, and await his reply. This was on the 6th of October, and the reply could not be received before the 26th; there was nothing for it but to wait, and Lauriston waited—a fatal delay for the French!
[See larger version]William IV. was welcomed to the Throne with great acclamation. Called "The Sailor King," he was endowed with many of the personal qualities which make the sailor's character popular with Englishmen. He had been Lord High Admiral, and in that capacity he had lately been moving about the coasts, making displays and enjoying fêtes, although this was thought by some to be unseemly in the Heir Presumptive to the Throne, at a time when its occupant was known to be in a very infirm state of health. Heavy bills connected with these vainglorious displays were sent to the Treasury, which the Duke of Wellington endorsed with a statement that such expenses were not allowed. Although opinions differed about William very much, not only between the friends of Reform and the Conservatives, but between the leaders of the Liberal party themselves, he was esteemed the most popular king since the days of Alfred. William was certainly a more exemplary character than his brother. He had indeed formed an attachment to a celebrated actress, Mrs. Jordan, by whom he had a numerous family, one of whom was subsequently admitted to the ranks of the nobility with the title of Earl of Munster, and the others were raised to the dignity of younger sons of a marquis. He had, however, been married for several years to the Princess Adelaide, of Saxe-Meiningen, who became Queen of England, and adorned her exalted station by her virtues and her beneficence. They had two children, both of whom died in infancy; and as the king was in the sixty-fifth year of his age, and the queen was not young, there was no longer any hope of a direct succession to the Throne. Altogether, Charles Greville's verdict on the king—"something of a buffoon and more of a blackguard"—is excessively severe. If eccentric and hot-tempered, William IV. was straightforward and upright. He had some knowledge of foreign affairs, and thoroughly understood his position as a constitutional king.We must open the year 1790 by reverting to the affairs of Britain, and of other countries having an influence on British interests. The Parliament met on the 21st of January; and, in the course of the debate on the Address in the Commons, Fox took the opportunity to laud the French Revolution, and especially the soldiers for destroying the Government which had raised them, and which they had sworn to obey. Burke, in reply, whilst paying the highest compliments to the genius of Fox, and expressing the value which he placed on his friendship, endeavoured to guard the House and country against the pernicious consequences of such an admiration as had been expressed by Fox. He declared the conduct of the troops disgraceful; for instead of betraying the Government, they ought to have defended it so far as to allow of its yielding the necessary reforms. But the so-called reforms in France, he said, were a disgrace to the nation. They had, instead of limiting each branch of the Government for the general good and for rational liberty, destroyed all the balances and counterpoises which gave the State steadiness and security. They had pulled down all things into an incongruous and ill-digested mass; they had concocted a digest of anarchy called the Rights of Man, which would disgrace a schoolboy; and had laid the axe to the root of all property by confiscating that of the Church. To compare that revolution with our glorious one of 1688, he said, was next to blasphemy. They were diametrically opposed. Ours preserved the Constitution and got rid of an arbitrary monarch; theirs destroyed the Constitution and kept a monarch who was willing to concede reforms, but who was left helpless. Fox replied that he had been mistaken by his most venerated and estimable friend; that he was no friend to anarchy and lamented the cruelties that had been practised in France, but he considered them the natural result of the long and terrible despotism which had produced the convulsion, and that he had the firmest hopes that the French would yet complete their Constitution with wisdom and moderation. Here the matter might have ended, but Sheridan rose and uttered a grand but ill-considered eulogium on the French Revolution, and charged Burke with being an advocate of despotism. Burke highly resented this; he made a severe reply to Sheridan; and instead of the benefits which he prognosticated, Burke, with a deeper sagacity, declared that the issue of that revolution would be not only civil war but many other wars.
The plan of a very liberal constitution was discussed for several days, and ultimately adopted. It is unnecessary here to describe in detail the principles of a constitution so short-lived. One of those principles led to its speedy destruction. It was, that the President of the Republic should be chosen, not by the Assembly, but by the nation at large. This was a very extraordinary course for the Assembly to take, because they must have known that Louis Napoleon would be elected by universal suffrage; whereas their own choice would have fallen upon Cavaignac. The following was the result of the voting:—Louis Napoleon, 5,434,226; Cavaignac, 1,448,107; Ledru Rollin, 370,119; Raspail, 36,900; Lamartine, 17,910; Changarnier, 4,790; votes lost, 12,600. On the 20th of December Prince Napoleon was proclaimed President of the French Republic, in the National Assembly, by the President, M. Marrast, and took the oath required by the Constitution.On the 18th of June a public dinner, to commemorate the abolition of the Sacramental Test, was given at Freemasons' Hall, when the Duke of Sussex occupied the chair. The friends of the cause felt that to secure a meeting of the most opulent, talented, and influential Dissenters from all parts of the empire was a measure of no common policy, and it was evident that the illustrious and noble guests felt at once surprised and gratified to witness the high respectability and generous enthusiasm of that great company. Mr. William Smith, as deputy chairman, proposed, in an interesting and appropriate speech, "the health of the Duke of Sussex, and the universal prevalence of those principles which placed his family upon the throne." The health of the archbishops, bishops, and other members of the Established Church who had advocated the rights of the Dissenters was proposed by a Baptist minister, the Rev. Dr. Cox. The health of "the Protestant Dissenting ministers, the worthy successors of the ever memorable two thousand who sacrificed interest to conscience," having been proposed by the royal chairman, the Rev. Robert Aspland returned thanks. Another commemoration of the full admission of Nonconformists to the privileges of the Constitution was a medal struck by order of the united committee. The obverse side exhibits Britannia, seated on the right, presenting to a graceful figure of Liberty the Act of Repeal, while Religion in the centre raises her eyes to heaven with the expression of thankfulness for the boon. The inscription on this side is "Sacramental Test Abolished, May 9th, 1828." The reverse side presents an open wreath, enclosing the words, "Truth, Freedom, Peace, and Charity."
Eugene, during these affairs, had been actively prosecuting the fortunes of the Allies with his remnant of an army. He pushed on the siege of Quesnoy, and took it. He sent a flying detachment of one thousand five hundred cavalry, under Major-General Grovestein, to make an incursion into France. This force made a rapid raid in Champagne, passed the Noire, the Meuse, the Moselle, and the Saar, ravaged the country, reduced a great number of villages and towns to ashes, rode up to the very gate of Metz, and then retired to Traerbach with a load of rich booty. This was a proof of what might have been done in France at this period with the whole army united under a commander like Marlborough, in place of miserably giving up everything to that country in the moment of power. As it was, it created the utmost consternation in Paris, the people of which already saw the English at their gate; whilst Louis did not think himself safe at Versailles, but gathered all the troops in the neighbourhood of the capital around his palace, leaving the city to take care of itself.The safety of the prisoners diffused universal joy throughout the camps of the two generals; but there was one thing necessary, in their opinion, in which the Government concurred, in order to give the crowning proof of our complete triumph, and to restore the unquestionable supremacy of our power, and compel the respect and fidelity of the neighbouring provinces. This was the signal punishment of Cabul for the atrocities that had been perpetrated there. The hostile chiefs were now as eager to conciliate, as submissive in their tone as they had been cruel and arrogant. Even Akbar Khan professed the greatest friendship for the British, and repudiated the acts that had been done in his name, at the same time restoring to his friends Captain Bygrave, the last prisoner he had in his possession. The Afghans had a maiden fortress in the town of Istalif, which is built upon two ridges of the spur of Hindoo Koosh, which forms the western boundary of the beautiful valley of Kohistan. There, in its fortified streets and squares, as in a safe asylum, they had collected their treasures and their women. The sagacious Havelock suggested that the capture of this place, believed to be impregnable, would be a great stroke of policy. General M'Caskill, therefore, made a rapid march upon it, and after a desperate struggle, in which Havelock greatly distinguished himself, the place was stormed in gallant style, the Afghans in every direction giving way before our attacking columns.
Driven to desperation, Burgoyne now contemplated crossing the river in the very face of the enemy, and fighting his way through, and for this purpose he sent a party up the river to reconnoitre a suitable spot. Once over, he had little doubt of making his way to Fort Edward, and thence to the Canadian lakes. At this moment Gates was informed that Burgoyne had effected his passage, and that he had left only the rear-guard in the camp. He was in full march upon the camp, in the belief that he could seize it with ease, and part of his forces had actually crossed the fords of Fishkill, near which Burgoyne was strongly posted, when a spy or a deserter informed him of his mistake. Had it not been for this circumstance he must have suffered a surprise and a certain defeat, and the fortunes of Burgoyne would probably have been different. He was now on the alert to receive the Americans, and when, to his mortification, he saw them at a signal again retreating, he poured a murderous fire into them, and pursued them in confusion across the creek. This was his last chance. No news reached him from Clinton; but he ascertained that the Americans had already, in strong force, blocked up his way to Fort Edward. This was decisive. On the 13th he called together a council of war, at which every captain was invited to attend, and the unanimous result of the deliberations was that they must capitulate. Accordingly, an officer was sent with a note to the American headquarters that evening, to propose an interview between General Burgoyne and General Gates. The American General agreed to the meeting at ten o'clock the next morning. There Burgoyne stated that he was aware of the superiority of Gates's numbers, and, to spare the useless effusion of blood, he proposed a cessation of arms, to give time for a treaty to that effect.Here the Americans assert that when the minute-men did not retire on the first order, the English fired on them and killed eight of them. The English, on the other hand, declare that the Americans, in retiring, no sooner reached the shelter of a wall than they fired on the British; that the firing came also from some adjoining houses, and shot one man, and wounded Major Pitcairn's horse in two places; that then the English were ordered to fire, that they killed several, wounded others, and put the body, about a hundred in number, to flight. By this time the alarm had spread, the minute-men came running from all places, and as the English, having executed their commission, began to retire, the Americans shouted, "The lobsters run!" The minute-men now rushed over the bridge after them, and firing from behind trees and walls, killed a considerable number of them. The Americans—excellent shots with their rifles—could only be seen by the smoke of these rifles, and the English, tired with their long night march, instead of halting to hunt them out, kept on their way towards Lexington. The whole march was of this description: the English, unable to get a good shot at their enemies, the minute-men pressing on their rear, still sheltered by trees and walls. The result would have been more disastrous had not General Gage sent on to Lexington another detachment of foot and marines, consisting of about sixteen companies, under command of Lord Percy. In this first bloodshed between the colonists and the mother country, the British found they had lost sixty killed, forty-nine missing, and one hundred and thirty-six wounded. The Americans admitted that they had a loss of sixty, of whom two-thirds were killed.On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, Lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lechmere in a bitter speech in the Commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed with impeachments against the Lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. The impeachments were carried up to the House of Lords on the same day, and on the 19th the accused noblemen were brought before the Peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the Lord Chancellor, when, with the exception of Lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty; and Lord Wintoun was condemned after trial, but several months later he effected his escape from the Tower. Every effort was made to save the prisoners, and they were all reprieved, with the exception of Derwentwater, Kenmure, and Nithsdale. The first two were executed; but the Countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire.
The relief committees were also authorised to adopt measures to avert or mitigate the famine fever, which had prevailed to an awful extent. They were to provide temporary hospitals, to ventilate and cleanse cabins, to remove nuisances, and procure the proper burial of the dead, the funds necessary for these objects being advanced by the Government in the same way as for furnishing food. Upwards of 300 hospitals and dispensaries were provided under the Act, with accommodation for at least 23,000 patients, and the sanitary powers which it conferred were extensively acted upon. The expense incurred for these objects amounted to ￡119,000, the whole of which was made a free gift to the unions in aid of the rates. The entire amount advanced by the Government in 1846 and 1847 towards the relief of the Irish people under the fearful calamity to which they were exposed was ￡7,132,286, of which one half was to be repaid within ten years, and the rest was a free grant.Earlier than this, in July, Colonel Pilkington took all the islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy; and in another expedition, in September, the British took the fort of Castine, on the Penobscot river, defeated double their number of Americans, pursued up the river the John Adams, a fine frigate, and compelled the commander to burn it. They took the town of Bangor, and reduced the whole district of Maine, from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Penobscot. In fact, these ravages and inroads, which rendered the whole seaboard of America unsafe, made the Americans, and especially President Madison, exclaim loudly against the barbarous and wanton destruction of their capital and ports.
De Crillon, seeing that his bombardment from shore produced little effect, determined to make the attack also from the sea. Amongst the multiplicity of inventions which the offered rewards had produced, the Chevalier D'Arcon, a French engineer, had produced a scheme which excited the most confident expectations. The plan was to construct ten monster floating batteries of such capacity that they should carry the heaviest artillery, and so made and defended that they could be neither sunk nor burnt. Loud was the clangour of hammer and saw, and, as the secret could not be long preserved, equally busy was the garrison within, preparing furnaces, and laying ready huge piles of balls, to be discharged red-hot at these machines as soon as they arrived. To constitute the intended batteries, ten large ships of from six hundred to one thousand four hundred tons burden were cut down, and made bombproof on the top. They were to be prevented from sinking by the enormous thickness of the timber in their bottoms, and their sides, which were to be six or seven feet thick, bolted, and covered with raw hides. They were to be rendered more buoyant by thicknesses of cork, and the interstices were to be filled with wet sand to prevent combustion. There were to be plentiful supplies, by means of pumps, pipes, and cisterns, of water, everywhere, to put out fire, for they seem to have been aware of the burning balls that were being prepared for them.详情
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