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Such was the condition into which an army and navy, once illustrious through the victories of Marlborough and Blake, were reduced by the aristocratic imbecility of the Newcastles, Bedfords, and Cumberlands. This last princely general had, in fact, put the climax to his career. He had placed himself at the head of fifty thousand confederate troops, in which there were no English, except the officers of his own staff, to defend his father's Electorate of Hanover. But this ruthless general, who never won a battle except the solitary one of Culloden, against a handful of famished men, was found totally incompetent to cope with the French general, d'Estrées. He allowed the French to cross the deep and rapid Weser, and continued to fall back before them as they entered the Electorate, until he was driven to the village of Hastenbeck, near Hameln, where the enemy overtook and defeated him. He then continued his retreat across the desolate Lüneburg Heath, to cover Stade, near the mouth of the Elbe, where the archives and other valuable effects of Hanover had been deposited for safety. At this time Richelieu succeeded to the command of d'Estrées in this quarter, and he continued to drive Cumberland before him, taking Hameln, G?ttingen, and Hanover itself, and soon after Bremen and Verden. Thus were Hanover and Verden, which had cost England such millions to defend, seized by France; nor did the disgrace end here. Cumberland was cooped up in Stade, and compelled, on the 8th of December, to sign a convention at Closter-Seven, by which he engaged to send home the Hesse and Brunswick troops, and to disperse the Hanoverians into different quarters, not to serve again during the war.Mr. Walpole has summed up the character of George IV. in words alike of terrible conciseness and of unmitigating truth—" He was a bad son, a bad husband, a bad father, a bad subject, a bad monarch, and a bad friend."The Grenville Ministry was approaching its extinction. It had done a great work in the abolition of the Slave Trade, but there was another species of abolition which they were disposed to further which was not quite so acceptable. They had supported Wilberforce and his party in their measure for the negroes, but Wilberforce and his friends were by no means willing to support them in liberating the Catholics from their disabilities. Grenville and Fox had made no particular stipulation, on taking office, to prosecute the Catholic claims, but they were deeply pledged to this by their speeches of many years. It was, therefore, highly honourable of them, though very impolitic, to endeavour to do something, at least, to show their sincerity. Though the king was obstinately opposed to any relaxation of the restraints on this class of his subjects, yet the Fox and Grenville Ministry had introduced a milder and more generous treatment of the Catholics in Ireland. The Duke of Bedford, as Lord-Lieutenant, had discouraged the rampant spirit of Orangeism, and admitted Catholics to peace and patronage. He had abandoned the dragooning system, and had managed to settle some disturbances which broke out in the autumn of 1806, without even proclaiming martial law. These measures had won the cordial attachment of the Catholics both in Ireland and England, but, in the same proportion, had exasperated the Church and War party against them in both countries. Their adding another three-and-a-half per cent. to the income and property taxes had still further embittered these parties, and the antagonism to them was every day becoming stronger. Yet they resolved, in spite of all this, to make an attempt to do some justice to the Catholics. They managed to carry an additional grant to the College of Maynooth, and on the 4th of March, when this grant was debated, Wilberforce, though[533] wanting the support of Ministers for his Slave Trade Bill, made a violent speech against all concessions to the Catholics. He declared the Protestant Church the only true one, and, therefore, the only one which ought to be supported. "He did not profess," he said, "to entertain large and liberal views on religious subjects; he was not, like Buonaparte, an honorary member of all religions." Undeterred by these tokens of resistance, Lord Howick, the very next day, moved for leave to bring in a Bill to enable Catholics to hold commissions in the army and navy on taking a particular oath. He said that it was a strange anomaly that Catholics in Ireland could hold such commissions since 1793, and attain to any rank except that of Commander-in-Chief, of Master-General of the Ordnance, or of General of the Staff, yet, should these regiments be ordered to this country, they were, by law, disqualified for service. A clause had already been added to the Mutiny Bill to remove the anomaly. He proposed to do away with this extraordinary state of things, and enable his Majesty, at his pleasure—for it only amounted to that, after all—to open the ranks of the army and navy to all subjects, without distinction, in Great Britain as well as Ireland.

The members of the Government were scarcely less rejoiced at getting rid of the matter than the nation was at their defeat. The most thinking men of their party became greatly alarmed at the state of public feeling, and were in constant dread of a revolution. The most violent language was used by the democratic leaders, and the press abounded with libels against the Government, whose chief members were hooted and pelted as they passed through the streets. This alarming state of things had arrived at its height towards the end of September. The Duke of York, who was then at Brighton, was violent against the queen. He felt confident that the troops must be called out, and he thought he could trust them. On them alone he depended for the preservation of the Throne. The king, at this time, rarely showed himself to any of his subjects. His conduct was an excitement to popular hatred. Mr. W. H. Freemantle, who was well informed as to all that was going forward in the highest quarters, describes the condition of things in letters to the Duke of Buckingham. "You have no idea," he says, "of the state of the town. The funds fell to-day. As to the king forming a Government, after the resignation of all his present servants, with the avowed object of persecuting the queen, it would be impossible; it would be making her the popular object and throwing the country in a flame. Be assured that the king on[213] this subject is no less than mad!" "In the months of October and November," observes the Duke of Buckingham, "it became evident that the frenzy outside the Houses of Parliament was exerting its influence within its walls. The aspect of affairs looked blacker every hour." "Matters here are in a critical state," writes Lord Sidmouth to Mr. Bathurst on the 27th of October. "Fear and faction are actively and not unsuccessfully at work; and it is possible that we may be in a minority, and that the fate of the Government may be decided." Plumer Ward, in his diary, has this entry under date of November 2nd:—"Called upon (Wellesley) Pole. He was at breakfast, and we had a long chat. He thought everything very bad—Ministers, Opposition, king, queen, country—and, what was more, no prospect of getting right. All ties were loosened. Insolence and insubordination out of doors; weakness and wickedness within. 'The Whigs,' he said, 'were already half Radicals, and would be entirely so if we did not give way.' I said his brother, the Duke of Wellington, felt this too, but would not give way nevertheless. Meantime, the king was as merry as a grig. At first he had been annoyed, but was now enjoying himself at Brighton."

Such were the circumstances of France in every quarter of the globe, except on the Continent of Europe; and there already, notwithstanding the vast space over which Buonaparte ruled by the terror of his arms, there were many symptoms of the coming disruption of this empire of arms, which sprang up like a tempest and dispersed like one. Spain and Portugal, at one end of the Continent, were draining the very life's blood from France, and turning all eyes in liveliest interest to the spectacle of a successful resistance, by a small British army, to this Power so long deemed invincible. In the North lowered a dark storm, the force and fate of which were yet unsuspected, but which was gathering into its mass the elements of a ruin to the Napoleonic ambition as sublime as it was to be decisive. In France itself never had the despotic power and glory of Buonaparte appeared more transcendent. Everything seemed to live but at his beck: a magnificent Court, Parliament the slave of his will, made up of the sham representatives of subjected nations, the country literally covered with armies, and nearly all surrounding nations governed by kings and princes who were but his satraps. Such was the outward aspect of things; and now came the long-desired event, which was to cement his throne with the blood of kindred kings, and link it fast to posterity—the birth of a son. On the 20th of March it was announced that the Empress Maria Louisa was delivered of a son, who was named Napoleon Francis Charles Joseph, Prince of the French Empire, and King of Rome.

The gulf between the Minister and the landowners was widening. The debates on the Budget, and on Mr. Cobden's motion for inquiry into the alleged agricultural distress, had drawn out more bitter speeches from Mr. Disraeli, and served still further to mark the distinction between the Minister and a large section of his old followers. But one of the most significant signs of the time was the increasing tendency to recognise the talents and singleness of purpose of the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers. It became almost fashionable to compliment the ability of Mr. Cobden. It was almost forgotten that the Minister had once carried with him the whole House in making an excited charge against that gentleman of marking him out for assassination. The bitterness of the ultra-Protectionists was certainly unabated; but neither the Quarterly nor any other review now classed the Manchester men with rick-burners and assassins, or called upon the Government to indict them for sedition.[See larger version]But these assumptions of new territories and new honours had, as we have seen, alarmed the Northern Powers and Austria. They saw that they could have no peace with such a man, except it were a peace of continual encroachment, humiliation, and slavery, and Russia went so far as to recall her Ambassador, though without a declaration of war.[504] There was the utmost necessity for union, caution, and the exertion of every ability. But the folly and incapacity of those nations appeared to rise in intensity in proportion to the actual need of wisdom, and to the genius of their enemy. Britain, could give them money, but she could not give them talent and sagacity. Before Russia could march down to unite with Austria, Austria, which had so long hung back, and thus delayed the operations of Alexander, now showed as fatal a temerity, and commenced the campaign alone. She rushed into Bavaria, whose Elector, Maximilian Joseph, had entered into league with Buonaparte, in common with Würtemberg and other German States. The Emperor Francis had despatched Schwarzenberg to Munich, to endeavour to prevail on him to unite with Austria against the common enemy of Germany. Maximilian Joseph pleaded that he was quite resolved on doing that, but that his son was travelling in France, and he prayed time to recall him, or Buonaparte would wreak his vengeance upon him. This should have induced Francis of Austria to delay at least a sufficient time for this purpose, especially as it gave another chance for the decision of Prussia in their favour, when it saw the Russians already on the march. Whether the Elector of Bavaria would eventually have kept his promise is doubtful, for Napoleon was, on the other hand, pressing him close, through his Ambassador, M. Otto, to proclaim openly the secret alliance concluded with France.

On the 10th of February, 1797, the French made a descent on the Welsh coast, which created much alarm at the time, and no less speculation as to its meaning. Four armed vessels, containing about fourteen hundred men, had appeared in the Bristol Channel, off Ilfracombe, in north Devon. They did not attempt to land there, but stood over to the Welsh coast, and landed in a bay near Fishguard. They were commanded by General Tate, and commenced marching inland, and the whole country was in alarm. Lord Cawdor marched against them with three thousand men, including a considerable body of militia, and they at once laid down their arms and surrendered without a shot. Many were the conjectures as to the object of this descent, and historians have much puzzled themselves about a matter which appears plain enough. The men looked ragged and wild, more like felons than soldiers, and were apparently not unwilling to be made prisoners. They were, no doubt, a part of the great Brest fleet meant for Ireland, which had been driven about by the tempests ever since they quitted that port on the 17th of December, and were only too glad to set foot on any land at all, and probably were by this time so famished and bewildered that they did not know whether they were in England or Ireland. Many of their comrades of the same unfortunate expedition never did see land again.The Austrians and Russians by this time were in full march for Italy. Leaving the Archduke Charles to cope with Jourdain, who had made himself master of the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein in January, and menaced a march on the Danube, an army of Austrians, under Generals Bellegarde and Hotze, entered Switzerland, re-occupied the Grisons country, drove the French from the St. Gothard, and menaced Massena at Zurich. Another army of Austrians, under old General Mélas, issued from the Tyrol and drove the French General, Scherer, from post to post in Upper Italy, till he took refuge behind the Mincio. Moreau was then sent to supersede Scherer, but found himself in April confronted not only by Mélas, but by Suvaroff, with an addition of fifty thousand men. On the 27th of that month he was attacked by this combined force and beaten. Brescia and Peschiera surrendered, Mantua was invested, and Suvaroff entered Milan. Moreau was compelled to retreat upon Genoa, and await the arrival of Macdonald, who was rapidly marching from Naples to his aid. But Macdonald was confronted on the banks of the Trebia, and after a fierce battle of three days he was routed, and escaped only to Moreau with the remnant of his army. Moreau now stationed himself in the entrance of the Bochetta Pass, in the Apennines, behind the town of Novi; but there he was superseded by General Joubert, the Directory having lost faith in him. Joubert, however, had no better success than Moreau. Suvaroff attacked him on the 16th of August, routed his army and killed him; the French abandoning nearly all their artillery on the field, and flying in disorder towards Genoa.

Sir Robert Peel did all in his power to form out of the materials at his disposal a Ministry that should command the confidence of the country. On the 16th he issued an address to his constituents at Tamworth, in which he announced the policy that should guide the new Government. He declared his intention to correct all proved abuses and real grievances; to preserve peace at home and abroad; to resist the secularisation of Church property in any part of the United Kingdom; to fulfil existing engagements with Foreign Powers; to observe a strict economy in the public expenditure; and promised an impartial consideration of what was due to all interests, agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial. He said:—"With regard to the Reform Bill itself, I accept it as a final and irrevocable settlement of a great[379] constitutional question; a settlement which no friend to the peace and welfare of the country would attempt to disturb either by direct or insidious means. I will carry out its intentions, supposing those to imply a careful review of old institutions, undertaken in a friendly spirit, and with a purpose of improvement."CHAPTER XVIII. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).

CHARLES JAMES FOX. (After the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.)Catherine of Russia, thus rid of the only two monarchs who were likely to trouble her with scruples, hastened her grand design of absorbing Poland. She professed to be much scandalised and alarmed at the proceedings of the king, who had attended a dinner given by the municipality of Warsaw on the anniversary of the passing of their new Constitution, at which he had not only responded to the toast of his health by drinking to the nation and the municipality, thus sanctioning them as great powers, as the French had done, but had sat complacently amid the loud cries of "Long live Liberty! Long live the nation, and our citizen king, the friend of the Rights of Man!" The Poles had certainly become enthusiastic imitators of the French; they had[397] established clubs in imitation of the clubs of Paris, had sent a deputation to congratulate the French on their Revolution, and had passed various decrees of a Jacobin character. Neither did she lack a sanction from the Poles themselves. There had always been violent parties in that kingdom; and at this time a number of nobles, who opposed the new Constitution, sent a deputation with a memorial to the Empress, at St. Petersburg, inviting her to assist them in restoring the old Constitution. Catherine gave them a ready promise, and, on the 14th of May, Felix Potocki, Branicki, Rzewinski, and eleven other nobles, met at Targowica, and entered into a confederacy for this purpose. This confederacy was followed, only four days after its signing, by a protest issued by Bulgakoff, the Russian Minister, at Warsaw, against the whole of the new institutions and decrees. On the 18th of May, the same day that this proclamation was issued at Warsaw, a hundred thousand Russian troops marched over the Polish frontiers, attended by some of the pro-Russian confederates, and assumed the appearance of an army of occupation.

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GREENWICH HOSPITALThe Provisional Government of France lost no time in framing a new constitution, in which the limited monarchy and the House of Lords of Great Britain were imitated. They declared Louis XVIII., the brother of the last king, Louis XVI., the rightful occupant of the throne, and his brothers and the other members of the House of Bourbon, after him in due succession. Talleyrand was the first to put his signature to this document; and the Abbé Siéyès, though he did not sign it, declared his adhesion to the abdication of Buonaparte. On the 11th of April, the same day that Napoleon signed his abdication, the brother of Louis, the Count d'Artois, arrived, and the next day was received by the new Government in a grand procession into Paris. There was a show of much enthusiasm on the part of the people, but this was more show than reality; the Bourbonist party was the only one that sincerely rejoiced at the restoration; and when it was seen that a troop of Cossacks closed the prince's procession, the people gave unequivocal signs of disapprobation. The Duke of Angoulême had already entered the city of Bourdeaux amid much acclamation, for the Bourbonist interest was strong in the south, and he now came on to Paris. The new king, who had been living, since the peace of Tilsit, at Hartwell, in Buckinghamshire, a seat of the Marquis of Buckingham assigned by the British Government for his residence, now went over. Louis was a quiet, good-natured man, fond of books, and capable of saying witty things, and was much better fitted for a country gentleman than for a throne. He was conducted into London by the Prince Regent, and by crowds of applauding people. The Prince Regent also accompanied him[84] to Dover, where, on the 24th of April, he embarked on board a vessel commanded by the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV. He was accompanied by the Duchess of Angoulême, the Prince of Condé, and his son, the Duke of Bourbon. On landing at Calais, he embraced the Duchess of Angoulême, saying, "I hold again the crown of my ancestors; if it were of roses, I would place it upon your head; as it is of thorns, it is for me to wear it."Pitt's expeditions were not particularly well arranged. Instead of sending an army of thirty or forty thousand to the Baltic, and calling on Russia to do the same, which she could have done, notwithstanding the army under the Emperor Alexander, he sent only about six thousand, and sent another eight thousand from Malta, to co-operate with twelve thousand Russians in a descent on the kingdom of Naples. This expedition might have been left till the success in the North was secured; in truth, it had better have been left altogether. When General Don and Lord Cathcart landed in Swedish Pomerania, and were joined by the king's German legion and some other German hired troops, our army amounted only to sixteen thousand men, the Swedes to twelve thousand, and the Russians to ten thousand—altogether, not forty thousand men. But what was worse than the paucity of numbers was the disunion amongst the commanders. Lord Harrowby was sent to Berlin, to endeavour to induce Prussia to join this coalition, but Prussia was well aware of the want of unity in the Allied Army, and, weighing probabilities, she could not be moved. The King of Sweden was so incensed at the cold, shuffling conduct of the King of Prussia, that he wrote him some very indignant and undiplomatic letters, which only furnished him with a further excuse for holding aloof. Gustavus, seeing no good likely to be done, resigned his command of the Allied Army, where, indeed, he had enjoyed no real command at all, and retired with his forces to Stralsund. This was a fatal exposition of want of unity, and it was not till three weeks were gone that the breach was healed. By this time it was the middle of November. Ulm had surrendered, Napoleon was master of Vienna, and Prussia was still watching what would be the fate of the coming battle between Napoleon and the Emperors of Austria and Russia. The union of the Allies came too late; the force was altogether too small to turn the scale of the campaign. Had Gustavus marched into Hanover a month earlier, with sixty thousand men, he might have rendered Austerlitz a nonentity; as it was, he had only time to invest Hameln, where Bernadotte had left a strong garrison, when the news of Austerlitz arrived, and caused the Allies to break up the campaign, and each to hurry off to his own country.

In North America matters were still more unprosperous. Lord Loudon had raised twelve thousand men for the purpose of taking Louisburg and driving the French from our frontiers; but he did nothing, not even preventing the attack of Marshal Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada, on Fort William Henry, which he destroyed, thus leaving unprotected the position of New York. At the same time, Admiral Holbourne, who was to have attacked the French squadron off Louisburg, did not venture to do it, because he said they had eighteen ships to his seventeen, and a greater weight of metal."My lords and gentlemen," said his Majesty, "I have come to meet you for the purpose of proroguing this Parliament, with a view to its instant dissolution." The voice of the king rose, and became still more shrill and piercing, as he reached the last clause of the sentence; and a loud buzz and hum, the loudest such a presence permitted, immediately followed, and nearly drowned all the succeeding sentences. The dissolution speedily followed the prorogation, and a new Parliament was summoned to meet on the 14th of June.

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