As it was now clearly useless to endeavour to prevent these desperate hordes from crossing the Nerbudda, it was determined to march into their own retreats beyond that river, and regularly hunt them down. Sir John Malcolm, one of our ablest officers, who has left us a most graphic account of these transactions, had just now returned from England, and he was appointed, with Major-General Marshall, to this service. Not only Cheetoo, but Kureem, was again on foot; and Sir John learnt that Cheetoo was posted near the camp of the Holkar Mahrattas, and had received a lac and sixty thousand rupees from the Peishwa. By this time he had advanced as far as Agra, but on this information he fell back on Oojein, where Sir Thomas Hislop lay with another body of troops. On the 21st of December, 1817, Holkar's army and Cheetoo's army made a united attack on the British at Mahidpore, on the banks of the Seepra. They were received with a murderous slaughter, and fled, leaving seventy pieces of artillery, all they had, and a great quantity of arms. They fled in confusion to Rampoora, a fortified town in Malwa. The British on their part had suffered severely, having one hundred and seventy-four killed, and six hundred and four wounded. Amongst these were thirty-five officers wounded, half of them severely.A strong garrison was left in Malta, under General Vaubois, and on the 16th the fleet was again under sail. As they were off the coast of Crete, and the savants were gazing on the birthplace of Jupiter, and speculating on the existence of the remains of the celebrated labyrinth, Nelson, who had missed the French fleet, and had sailed in quest of it, was near enough to be perceived by some of the frigates on the look-out, and created a terrible panic. But Nelson, not having frigates to send out as scouts, did not observe them, and suspecting that Egypt was their destination he made all sail for Alexandria. Finding no traces of them there, in his impatience he returned towards Malta. If he had but waited a while they would have come to him; but on reaching Malta and finding that they had taken and manned it, he again put about and made for Alexandria. He had actually been seen by some of the French frigates as he was crossing their track on his return from Alexandria, and Napoleon was impatient to reach land before he could overtake them again. On the 1st of July the French fleet came in sight of Alexandria, and saw before them the city of the Ptolemies and Cleopatra with its pharos and obelisks. The landing was effected at Marabout, about a league and a half from Alexandria.
This scheme was to take Ticonderoga, and then to advance upon Albany. Whilst the army was marching to this point, the fleet, carrying another strong force, was to ascend the Hudson, and there meet Burgoyne, by which means the British could then command the Hudson through its whole extent; and New England, the head of the rebellion, would be entirely cut off from the middle and southern countries. The plan was excellent in itself, but demanded for its successful accomplishment not only commanders familiar with the country, but the most ardent spirit in them, and the most careful co-operation.
At this very moment Necker was receiving his dismissal. His situation at Court had been most painful. The people surrounded the palace, crying, "Vive Necker!" "Vive le Ministre du Peuple!" He was more popular than ever, because he had had no part in the insult to the Tiers état on the 23rd of June. At the same time, when the queen appeared on the balcony with a child in her arms, the fiercest execrations were uttered amid curses on the aristocrats. This made Necker all the more unpopular within the palace. He was accused of having produced all the mischiefs by advising the king to summon the States General. He retorted that the nobles and bishops were the cause, by preventing the king from following the plans he had laid down. Necker, therefore, begged to resign; but he had been always desired to remain, for the Court apprehended an outbreak if he were dismissed. But now, matters being deemed sufficiently safe—the army being in grand force—the king, on the 11th of July, took him at his word. Necker was just sitting down to dinner when he received the king's note, which begged him to keep his retirement secret, and to get across the frontier as expeditiously as possible.
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per cent., while the actual increase in England and Wales, in the same space of time between 1801 and 1831, as found by numeration, reached to 5,024,207 souls, or 56But, not contented with this superiority, the British were tempted to invest and endeavour to storm New Orleans. This was returning to the old blunders, and giving the American sharp-shooters the opportunity of picking off our men at pleasure in the open field from behind their walls and batteries. This ill-advised enterprise was conducted by Sir Edward Pakenham. Nothing was so easy as for our ships to blockade the mouth of the Mississippi, and thus destroy the trade, not only of New Orleans, but of all the towns on that river; but this common-sense plan was abandoned for the formidable and ruinous one of endeavouring to take the place by storm. The city of New Orleans lies at the distance of one hundred and ten miles from the sea, on a low, boggy promontory, defended on the river side by a chain of powerful forts, and on the other by morasses. Having landed as near New Orleans as they could, the British troops, on the 23rd of December, were met by an American army, and received a momentary repulse; but this was quickly reversed, and on Christmas day Sir Edward Pakenham encamped at the distance of six miles from New Orleans. But he found at least twenty thousand Americans posted between him and the city, behind a deep canal and extensive earthworks. There was no way of approaching them except across bogs, or through sugar plantations swarming with riflemen, who could pick off our men at pleasure. This was exactly one of those situations which the whole course of our former wars in that country had warned us to avoid, as it enabled the Americans, by their numerous and excellent riflemen, to destroy our soldiers, without their being in scarcely any danger themselves. In fair and open fight they knew too well that they had no chance with British troops, and the folly of giving them such opportunities of decimating those troops from behind walls and embankments is too palpable to require military knowledge or experience to point it out. Yet Sir Edward Pakenham, who had fought in the Peninsula, was imprudent enough to run himself into this old and often-exposed snare. On the 26th of December he commenced a fight on these unequal terms, the Americans firing red-hot balls from their batteries on the unscreened advancing columns, whilst from the thickets around the Kentucky riflemen picked off the soldiers on the flanks. Pakenham thus, however, advanced two or three miles. He then collected vast quantities of hogsheads of sugar and treacle, and made defences with them, from which he poured a sharp fire on the enemy. By this means he approached to within three or four hundred yards of the American lines, and there, during the very last night of the year, the soldiers worked intensely to cast up still more extensive breastworks of sugar and treacle casks, and earth.
It must be confessed that it was impossible to keep peace with a nation determined to make war on the whole world. Perhaps on no occasion had the pride of the British people and their feelings of resentment been so daringly provoked. War was proclaimed against Britain, and it was necessary that she should put herself in a position to protect her own interests. The country was, moreover, bound to defend Holland if assaulted. But though bound by treaty to defend Holland, Great Britain was not bound to enter into the defence of all and every one of the Continental nations; and had she maintained this just line of action, her share in the universal war which ensued would have been comparatively insignificant. Prussia, Russia, and Austria had destroyed every moral claim of co-operation by their lawless seizure of Poland, and the peoples of the Continent were populous enough to defend their own territories, if they were worthy of independence. There could be no just claim on Britain, with her twenty millions of inhabitants, to defend countries which possessed a still greater number of inhabitants, especially as they had never been found ready to assist us, but on the contrary. But Britain, unfortunately, at that time, was too easily inflamed with a war spirit. The people as well as the Government were incensed at the disorganising and aggressive spirit of France, and were soon drawn in, with their Quixotism of fighting for everybody or anybody, to league with the Continental despots for the purpose not merely of repelling French invasions, but of forcing on the French a dynasty that they had rejected.[See larger version]
[See larger version]The 20th of November arrived; the two Houses met, and Lord Camden in the Peers, and Pitt in the Commons, were obliged to announce the incapacity of the king to open the Session, and to move for an adjournment till the 4th of December, in order that the necessary measures for transferring the royal authority, temporarily, might be taken. Fox, at this important crisis, was abroad, and had to hurry home with headlong speed, in order to join his party in their anxious deliberations preparatory to the great question of the regency. In the meantime, the king's physicians had been examined before the Privy Council, and had given their opinion that the royal malady would prove only temporary. This in particular was the opinion of Dr. Willis, a specialist who had the chief management of the case, and whose mild treatment, in contrast to the violent means previously employed, had already produced a marked improvement. From this moment Pitt appears to have taken his decision—namely, to carry matters with a high hand, and to admit the Prince of Wales as regent only under such restrictions as should prevent him from either exercising much power himself, or conferring much benefit on his adherents. When, therefore, Parliament met, after the adjournment, and that in great strength—for men of all parties had hurried up to town,—Lord Camden moved in the Lords, and Pitt in the Commons, that, in consequence of the king's malady, the minutes of the Privy Council containing the opinions of the royal physicians should be read, and that this being done, these opinions should be taken into consideration on the 8th of December.
The strong towns and fortresses of Prussia were all surrendered with as much rapidity as the army had been dispersed. They were, for the most part, commanded by imbecile or cowardly old villains; nay, there is every reason to believe that, in many instances, they sold the places to the French, and were paid their traitor fees out of the military chests of the respective fortresses. Whilst these events were so rapidly progressing, Louis Buonaparte, the new King of Holland, with an army of French and Dutch, had overrun, with scarcely any opposition, Westphalia, Hanover, Emden, and East Friesland. The unfortunate King of Prussia, who had seen his kingdom vanish like a dream, had fled to K?nigsberg, where he was defended by the gallant Lestog, and awaited the hoped-for junction of the Russians marching to his aid. Gustavus Adolphus, of Sweden, forgetting the slighted advice which he had offered to Prussia to unite with Austria, opened Stralsund and Riga to the fugitive Prussians.详情
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