The first transactions of the campaign of 1795 which demand our attention, are those of Holland. To the British army these were most disastrous, and came to an end before the winter closed. The Duke of York had returned to England early in December, 1794, leaving the chief command to General Walmoden, a Hanoverian, second to whom was General Dundas. Walmoden had gone quietly into winter quarters in the isle of Bommel, forgetting that the firmness of the ice would soon leave him exposed with his small force to the overwhelming swarms of the French, under Pichegru, who, in the middle of December, crossed the Waal with two hundred thousand men, and drove in his lines. General Dundas advanced against him with eight thousand men, and, for the time, drove the French back, on the 30th of December, across the Waal. But this could not last with such disproportionate forces, especially as our troops were left with the most wretched commissariat, and an equally wretched medical staff; in fact, there were neither surgeons to attend the greater part of the wounded, nor medicines for the sick. On the 4th of January, 1795, the French came back with their overpowering numbers, and on the 6th the British were compelled to retire across the Leck, and continue their retreat, suffering indescribable miseries from the want of food, tents, and proper clothes, in the horrors of a Dutch winter. Notwithstanding this, the British repeatedly turned and drove back the enemy with heavy slaughter. But on the 11th of January Pichegru attacked them in a defile between Arnhem and Nimeguen, with a condensed force of seventy thousand men, and took every measure to destroy, or compel the surrender of, the whole British army. They, however, fought their way through and continued their march for the Elbe, the only quarter open to them. During this retreat they were less harassed by the French, who fell off to occupy Utrecht and Rotterdam, than by the fury of the winter and the hostility of the Jacobinised Dutch, who cursed them as the cause of all the sufferings of their country. Such was the end of Britain's campaign for the defence of her Dutch allies. Holland was proclaimed a free Republic under the protection of France, and Britain immediately commenced operations for indemnifying herself, by seizing the ships and colonies of her late ally in every quarter of the globe. They intercepted the homebound Dutch Indiamen, and when the Council of Government sent deputies to London to reclaim them, Lord Grenville, the Foreign Minister, asked them in what character they came. They replied, that they came as representatives of the sovereign people of Batavia. The Foreign Minister said he knew of no such Power, and declined to receive them. No time was lost in seizing the Dutch colonies and factories. On the 14th of July Admiral Sir G. Keith Elphinstone appeared in Table Bay, and landed a considerable force under command of Major-General Craig. They possessed themselves of Simon's Town and the strong fort of Muyzenberg, and in the beginning of September, being reinforced by another body of troops, under Major-General Alured Clarke, on the 23rd of that month they were masters of Cape Town. A similar activity was displayed in the East Indies; and in the course of the year, or early in 1796, all the Dutch possessions in Ceylon, Malacca, Cochin, Amboyna, and other places were surrendered to the British. The same seizures were in course of execution on the settlements of the Dutch in the West Indies, and on the coast of South America.
But, in the autumn of 1781, they resolved on a renewed attack of the most vigorous kind. Elliot received information of this, and determined to anticipate the plan. At midnight of the 26th of November he ordered out all his grenadiers and light infantry, including the two veteran regiments with which he had seen service in Germany so many years ago, the 12th, and the regiment of General Hardenberg. Three hundred sailors volunteered to accompany them, and the brave old general himself could not stay behind. The detachment marched silently through the soft sand, and entered the fourth line almost before the Spanish sentinel was aware of them. In a very few minutes the enemy was in full flight towards the village of Campo, and the English set to work, under direction of the engineer officers, to destroy the works which had cost the Spaniards such enormous labour to erect. The Spaniards for several days appeared so stupefied that they allowed their works to burn without any attempt to check the fire. In the following month of December, however, they slowly resumed their bombardment. Nevertheless, it was not till the spring of 1782 that the Spaniards were cheered by the news that the Duke of Crillon was on his way to join them with the army which had conquered Minorca.
Pitt, on the day mentioned, announced these facts, and declared that his Majesty had demanded satisfaction from the Court of Spain for the insult to our flag and for the usurpation of our settlement; but that considerable armaments were making in the ports of Spain. He called upon the House to address his Majesty, imploring him to take all necessary measures for the vindication of our honour and our rights. Fox naturally expressed his surprise at this announcement, after the high assurances of such profound prospects of peace little more than a fortnight before. He moreover asserted that not only were the Ministers fully aware of all these circumstances at the very moment when the Premier made these statements, but that he had himself been aware of them a considerable time before that. Pitt endeavoured to explain that all the circumstances were not known when he professed such confidence in peace; but these assertions were clearly as little true as the former, for the British Government had received information from the Spanish Government itself, as early as the 10th of the previous February. Notwithstanding, the House supported the Government warmly in its determination to resist the enormous claims of Spain and to compel her to make satisfaction. Lord Howe was desired to have a fleet in readiness, and the Spanish Court having taken a high tone to Mr. Merry, our Minister at Madrid, Mr. Fitzherbert was dispatched thither as our plenipotentiary. He arrived at Madrid in the beginning of June. At first the Spanish Court were very high, and applied to France for co-operation, according to treaty; but France, in the throes of the Revolution, had no money to spend in such armaments and, on second thoughts, Spain dreaded introducing French revolutionary sailors amongst their own. They soon, therefore, lowered their tone, agreed to surrender Nootka Sound, make full compensation for all damages, and consented that British subjects should continue their fisheries in the South Seas, and make settlements on any coasts not already occupied. Captain Vancouver, who had been with Cook as a midshipman in his last two voyages, being present at his tragical death, was sent out in the following year to see that the settlement of Nootka Sound was duly surrendered to England. He saw this done, the Spanish commander, Quadra, behaving in a very friendly manner; and he proceeded then, during the years 1792 and 1793, to make many accurate surveys of the western coasts of North and South America, in which the Spaniards gave him every assistance. The British took formal possession not only of Nootka Sound, but of the fine island called after Vancouver. Pitt was highly complimented for his firmness and ability in the management of this business.But this little episode of the war presented one bright spot amid the vast picture of miserable mismanagement, want of concert and of activity, amongst the Allies engaged against France. The campaign of 1794 was most disgraceful and discouraging. The plan still was for the different armies of the Allies to advance from the different frontiers, north, west, east, and south, and concentrate themselves on Paris; but all the activity and concentration were on the side of the French. In the very commencement of it, it was observed that Prussia was not bringing by any means the stipulated amount of forces into the field. The king, thinking much more of securing his Polish robberies than of co-operating against France, remained in Poland, and was even discovered to be secretly negotiating with the French Convention for peace. Britain was alarmed at this symptom of Prussian defection and made strong remonstrances. Frederick William coolly replied that it was impossible for him to go on without a large sum of money. The hint of Prussia was not lost; money was promised, and in April of this year a subsidy of two millions two hundred thousand pounds was paid to Prussia to secure her more active operation, and on condition that she brought into the field sixty thousand men. The bulk of this money was paid by Britain, a small fraction by Holland; and what was the result? The King of Prussia sent very few troops into the field, but employed the money in paying and maintaining armies to keep down the invaded provinces of Poland, and to invade more! Thus Britain was duped into the disgraceful business of riveting the fetters of unhappy Poland; and it would have been well had this taught the British Government wisdom. But it was now intent on that astonishing career of subsidising almost all the nations of Europe against France; of purchasing useless German soldiers at astounding prices; of pouring out the wealth and blood of Britain like water to enable the Germans and Russians to defend their own hearths and homes, and in vain. The results of this subsidy ought to have satisfied Britain, and would have satisfied any other nation; for it did not long retain Prussia as an ally, even in name.
Mr. Peel urged that it is dangerous to touch time-honoured institutions in an ancient monarchy like this, if the Dissenters did not feel the tests as a grievance; if they did, it would be a very strong argument for a change. "But," he asked, "are the grievances now brought forward in Parliament really felt as such by the Dissenters out of doors? So far from it, there were only six petitions presented on the subject from 1816 to 1827. The petitions of last year were evidently got up for a political purpose." He quoted from a speech of Mr. Canning's, delivered, in 1825, on the Catholic Relief Bill, in which he said, "This Bill does not tend to equalise all the religions in the State, but to equalise all the Dissenting sects of England. I am, and this Bill is, for a predominant church, and I would not, even in appearance, meddle with the laws which secure that predominance to the Church of England. What is the state of the Protestant Dissenters? It is that they labour under no practical grievances on account of this difference with the Established Church; that they sit with us in this House, and share our counsels; that they are admissible into the highest offices of State, and often hold them. Such is the operation of the Test and Corporation Acts, as mitigated by the Annual Indemnity Act; this much, and no more, I contend, the Catholics should enjoy." With regard to Scotland Mr. Peel appealed to the facts that from that country there was not one solitary petition; that there was not any military or naval office or command from which Scotsmen were shut out; that, so far from being excluded from the higher offices of Government, out of the fourteen members who composed the Cabinet, three—Lord Aberdeen, Lord Melville, and Mr. Grant—were Scotsmen and good Presbyterians. Even in England the shutting out, he said, was merely nominal. A Protestant Dissenter had been Lord Mayor of London the year before. The Acts had practically gone into desuetude, and the existing law gave merely a nominal preponderance to the Established Church, which it was admitted on all hands it should possess.
On the 24th of June Lord John Russell proposed his second edition of the Reform Bill, which did not substantially differ from the first. His speech on this occasion was a perfect contrast to the one with which he had introduced the measure at first. There was no longer any hesitation or timidity. He was no longer feeling his way doubtfully on an untried path, or navigating without compass along a dangerous coast. He boldly launched out to sea, with his eye steadily fixed on the north star, certain of his course and confident of the issue. The discussions of the previous Session had thrown a flood of light upon the whole question. Sustained by the enthusiasm of the people, and animated by the sympathy of the majority around him on the Ministerial benches, he spoke as if a greater and more vigorous mind had taken possession of his frame. He was strong in argument, cutting in sarcasm, defiant in tone, powerful in declamation. Borne by the power of public opinion to a higher and more commanding position, and proudly conscious of the elevation, he seemed ashamed of the petty proposals of former years, and felt his heart as well as his intellect expanding to the greatness of the new position. The Bill was read a first time without opposition, the discussion being expressly reserved by Sir Robert Peel for the second reading, which was fixed for the 4th of July. In the meantime the Irish Bill was brought in by Mr. Stanley on the 30th of June, Messrs. O'Connell and Sheil complaining bitterly of the difference existing, to the disadvantage of Ireland, between the proposed plans of Reform for the two countries. On the following day the Lord Advocate brought in the Bill relating to Scotland. On the 4th of July Lord John Russell moved the second reading of the English Reform Bill. A debate of three nights followed, containing little or no novelty in the argument, nothing but a wearisome repetition of points that had been discussed all over the country, hundreds of times, during the last few months. The most interesting feature was the attitude of Sir Robert Peel, who unfortunately placed himself in the front of the battle against Reform, in which he proved himself so able a general that all enlightened friends of the country lamented his false position. It was remarked, however, that he confined himself to a criticism of details.LORD ANGLESEY LEAVING IRELAND: SCENE AT KINGSTOWN. (See p. 292.)Mr. Stanley left behind him one enduring monument of his administration in Ireland which, though afterwards a subject of controversy and party strife, conferred immense advantages upon the country—the national system of education. It has been remarked that the principle of the Irish Establishment was that of a "missionary church;" that it was never based on the theory of being called for by the wants of the population; that what it looked to was their future spiritual necessities. It was founded on the same reasons which prompt the building of churches in a thinly peopled locality, the running of roads through an uncultivated district, of drains through a desert morass. The principle was philanthropic, and often, in its application, wise; but it proceeded on one postulate, which, unfortunately, was here wanting—namely, that the people will embrace the faith intended for them. This was so far from having hitherto been the case that the reverse was the fact. For nearly three centuries this experiment was tried with respect to the education of the rising generations of the Roman Catholics, and in every age it was attended by failures the most marked and disastrous. The Commissioners of National Education refer to this uniformity of failure in their sixth report, in which they observe,—"For nearly the whole of the last century the Government of Ireland laboured to promote Protestant education, and tolerated no other. Large grants of public money were voted for having children educated in the Protestant faith, while it was made a transportable offence in a Roman Catholic (and if the party returned, high treason) to act as a schoolmaster, or assistant to a schoolmaster, or even as a tutor in a private family. The Acts passed for this purpose continued in force from 1709 to 1782. They were then repealed, but Parliament continued to vote money for the support only of the schools conducted on principles which were regarded by the great body of the Roman Catholics as exclusively Protestant until the present system was established."
The Duke of Wellington was informed, at Brussels, on the same day, of this attack of Napoleon on the Prussians at Ligny, and of the British advance, under the Prince of Orange, at Quatre Bras. It has been said that he was taken by surprise. Quite the contrary. He was waiting in the most suitable position for the movement of Buonaparte. This was announced to him by a Prussian officer of high rank, said to be Baron Müffling, who arrived at half-past one at his hotel in Brussels. Wellington immediately dispatched orders to all the cantonments of his army to break up and concentrate on Quatre Bras, his intention being that his whole force should be there by eleven o'clock the next night, Friday, the 16th. At three o'clock his Grace sat down to dinner, and it was at first proposed that notice should be sent to the Duchess of Richmond to put off a ball which she was going to give at her hotel that evening; but, on further consideration, it was concluded to let the ball proceed, and that the Duke and his officers should attend it, as though nothing was about to occur, by which the great inconvenience of having the whole city in confusion during their preparations for departure would be avoided. Accordingly, every officer received orders to quit the ball-room, and as quietly as possible, at ten o'clock, and proceed to his respective division en route. This arrangement was carried out, and the Duke himself remained at the ball till twelve o'clock, and left Brussels the next morning (April 16) at six o'clock for Quatre Bras. Such were the facts which gave rise to the widespread report that the Duke knew nothing of the attack of Napoleon till the thunder of his cannon was heard by the Duke of Brunswick in the ball-room.At two o'clock the York Town troops marched out with their drums beating, their muskets shouldered, and their colours cased, and piled their arms. The number of those who remained effective now amounted only to four thousand; the rest, making up the total number to about six thousand, were lying sick or wounded. General Lincoln, who had been so lately a prisoner of the English, was appointed to receive them, and the British prisoners had to march through two lines of the allied army, upwards of a mile in length, the Americans on the right, and the French on the left. The different feelings with which the English regarded the French and Americans was remarked. The English officers, as they passed along the enemy's lines, courteously saluted every French officer—a compliment which they withheld from every American one, even the highest. The surrender of Cornwallis's army was the determining point of the war. The news of this decisive event reached London on the 25th of November. Lord North walked about the room, exclaiming, "Oh, God! it is all over!" The king received the communication with more firmness. In Paris great was the exultation. Franklin, who was there, and who, only three days before, had written to Governor Pownall that he never expected to see "this accursed war" finished in his time, now wrote to John Adams, at the Hague:—"I congratulate you on this glorious news. The infant Hercules, in his cradle, has now strangled his second serpent;" and so delighted was he with his conceit of the serpent, that he afterwards had a medal cast embodying it.
[See larger version]JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER. (After the Portrait by C. Turner.)The massacre of Savenay had not settled La Vendée. In the spring of 1794 armed parties were again on foot. The largest body was that under Charette, posted on the Isle Noirmoutier, to which many of the fugitives who escaped from the massacre of Savenay betook themselves. Amongst these was the wounded General D'Elbée, with his wife, and a brother of Cathelinau. Charette quitted the isle to make an attack on some of the Republican troops left in small bodies in the country, consigning the care of the sick and wounded to the protection of a garrison of one thousand eight hundred men. This garrison was soon corrupted by the Republican general, Turreau; it surrendered, and D'Elbée and his wife were both shot, and the sick and wounded treated with merciless cruelty. This was about the only place of any strength left the Vendéans; but a worse misfortune was at hand. The young and chivalrous Henri La Roche-Jaquelein, marching, at the head of a body of his own peasantry, between Trementine and Nouaillé, met two Republican soldiers. The count generously offered them quarter; but, instead of accepting it, one of them instantly levelled his musket and shot him through the head. The two soldiers were immediately dispatched by his followers and, supposing that a Republican column must be at hand, they buried the three hastily in one grave and fled. The young count was only in his twenty-first year, and with him died the hopes and confidence of his peasantry. Stofflet succeeded him in the command of his people, but Charette might be considered the Commander-in-Chief of the Vendéans.
Parliament opened its first sitting on the 9th of October. The rumour of invasion, of course, gave the tone to the king's speech. He recited the leading facts of the conspiracy, and observed that he should the less wonder at them had he in any one instance, since his accession to the throne of his ancestors, invaded the liberty or property of his subjects.Lord William Bentinck, after having retired to Alicante, once more returned to Tarragona, and made himself master of that place. Attempting further advantages in this country, he was compelled to fall back on Tarragona with considerable loss. He then returned to Sicily, and General Clinton took the command of the forces, and strengthened the defences of the post. At the same time news arrived of the retreat of Buonaparte from Russia and the rising of Germany, which compelled Suchet to disarm his German regiments, and march them into France under guard. He had also to send some of his best French troops to recruit Buonaparte's decimated army, and the Italian ones to resist the Austrians in Italy, who were once more in motion through the Alps. In these circumstances the campaign in the south-east of Spain closed for the year.Scotland, before the Reform Bill, was ruled by an oligarchy. The population was two millions and a half, the constituency was only 2,500. The power was to be taken from this small junto, and extended to the great middle class of that intelligent and loyal people. In Ireland, a host of rotten boroughs, some without any constituency at all, was to be swept away. The general result would be an increase for the United Kingdom of half a million electors, making the whole number enjoying the franchise 900,000. Of these 50,000 would be found in the new towns, created into Parliamentary boroughs in England, 110,000 additional electors in boroughs already returning members. For instance, London would have 95,000; the English counties, 100,000; Scotland, 60,000; Ireland, 40,000. The House would consist in all of 596 members, being a reduction of sixty-two on the existing number of 658. The number of seats abolished was 168, which reduced the House to 490. Five additional members were given to Scotland, three to Ireland, one to Wales, eight to London, thirty-four to large English towns, and fifty-five to English counties.详情
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