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.[See larger version]Mr. O'Connell's avowed principle of action was "moral force." He was in the constant habit of asserting that "the man who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy;" and that no political advantages, however great, should be obtained at the expense of "one drop of Christian blood." Nevertheless, the letters which he was in the habit of addressing to "the people of Ireland," and which were remarkable for their clearness, force, and emphatic tautology, had always prefixed to them, as a standing motto, Byron's couplet—
This was an announcement of the utter overthrow of the Revolution, and the restoration of the ancient condition of France, with its aristocracy and its slaves. The sensation which it produced was intense. The king was immediately accused of secretly favouring this language, though it was far from being the case. It was in vain that he disavowed the sentiments of this haughty and impolitic proclamation to the Assembly; he was not believed, and the exasperation against him was dreadfully aggravated.Meanwhile, in America military intrigues were on foot against Washington. Amongst these endeavours was one for alienating from him Lafayette. For this purpose an expedition was planned against Canada, and Lafayette, as a Frenchman, was appointed to the command, hoping thus to draw to him the Frenchmen of Canada. Not a word was to be breathed of it to Washington; and Conway and Starke, two of the most malicious members of the cabal, were to take command under Lafayette. On the 24th of January, 1778, Washington received a letter from Gates, the President of the Board of War, commanding him to send one of his best regiments to Albany, on the Hudson, for a particular service, and enclosing another to Lafayette, requiring his immediate attendance on Gates. Gates found, however, that Lafayette was not to be seduced from his attachment to Washington. He would not accept the command, otherwise than as acting in subordination to his Commander-in-Chief; and he should send all his despatches and bulletins to him, at the same time that he furnished copies to Congress. The vain Frenchman verily believed that he was going to restore Canada, not to America, but to the French Crown—a fear which began to haunt Congress after he had set out; but the fear was needless. When Lafayette reached his invading army, instead of two thousand five hundred men, it amounted to about one thousand two hundred, and the militia were nowhere to be heard of. Clothes, provisions, sledges, were all wanting, and, instead of leading his troops, as he was directed, to Lake Champlain, whence he was to proceed to ?le-aux-Noix to blow up the English flotilla, and thence, crossing the Sorel, to descend the St. Lawrence to Montreal, he gave up the expedition with a sigh, and returned to the camp of Washington.
The opening of the year 1840 saw no flagging in the efforts of the Manchester men to bring forward the question, which the Annual Register had just regarded as finally set at rest. It had been determined that a great meeting of delegates should be held in that city. There was no hall large enough to hold half of the then members even of the local association, and it was therefore resolved to construct one. Mr. Cobden owned nearly all of the land then unbuilt on in St. Peter's Field—the very site of the Peterloo massacre of 1819. In eleven days one hundred men constructed on this spot a temporary pavilion, which afterwards gave place to the permanent Free Trade Hall, which long continued to be the favourite scene of great political meetings. The Manchester Times described the pavilion as comprising an area of nearly 16,000 square feet. It contained seats for dining 3,800 persons, and 500 more were admitted after the dinner. Among the most conspicuous speakers at the banquet were Daniel O'Connell, Mr. Cobden, and Mr. Milner Gibson; but perhaps the most interesting feature in the proceedings was the operatives' banquet, which took place on the following day. Five thousand working men, overlooked by their wives, sisters, and daughters in the galleries, sat down on that occasion. It was evident from this that the people were emancipating themselves from the advice of evil counsellors, and were beginning to see the importance to their interests of the movement of the League.The spirit of gambling thus set going by Government itself soon surpassed all bounds, and burst forth in a thousand shapes. It was well known that the king, his mistresses, his courtiers, his son and heir apparent, were all dabbling busily in the muddy waters of this huge pool of trickery and corruption. A thousand other schemes were invented and made public to draw in fresh gudgeons, and the Prince of Wales allowed his name to stand as governor of a Welsh Copper Company. All ranks and classes rushed to Change Alley—dukes, lords, country squires, bishops, clergy (both Established and Dissenting), were mixed up with stockjobbers and brokers in eager traffic. Ladies of all ranks mingled in the throng, struggling through the press and straining their voices to be heard amid the hubbub. There and all over the kingdom were advertised and hawked about the following and other schemes:—Wrecks to be fished for on the Irish coast; plans for making of oil from sunflower seeds; for extracting of silver from lead; for the transmuting of quicksilver into a malleable and fine metal; for importing a number of large jackasses from Spain; for a wheel for perpetual motion; and, finally, for an undertaking which shall in due time be revealed!
During these debates, Ministers detailed the proceedings which had for some time past taken place between the Governments of France and Britain, to show that the maintenance of peace was impossible. The chief of these transactions were briefly these:—From the date of the conferences at Pillnitz in 1791, when Prussia and Austria resolved to embrace the cause of the French king, and invited the other Powers to support them, Britain declared, both to those Powers and to France, her intention of remaining neutral. It was no easy matter to maintain such neutrality. To the Jacobin leaders, every country with an orderly Government, and still more a monarchy, was an offence. Against Britain they displayed a particular animus, which the most friendly offices did not remove. When, towards the end of 1791, the Declaration of the Rights of Man having reached St. Domingo, the negroes rose in insurrection to claim these rights, Lord Effingham, the Governor of Jamaica, aided the French Colonial Government with arms and ammunition, and the fugitive white people with provisions and protection. When this was notified to the National Assembly, with the King of Britain's approval of it, by Lord Gower, the ambassador at Paris, a vote of thanks was passed, but only to the British nation, and on condition that not even Lord Effingham's name should be mentioned in it. Other transactions on the part of the French still more offensive took place from time to time, but Britain still maintained her neutrality. When war was declared by France against Austria, in April, 1792, Chauvelin announced the fact to the British Government, and requested that British subjects should be prohibited from serving in any foreign army against France. Government at once issued an order to that effect. In June the French Government, through Chauvelin, requested the good offices of Britain in making pacific proposals to Prussia and Austria; but find that France expected more than friendly mediation—actual armed coalition with France—the British Government declined this, as contrary to existing alliances with those Powers. The proclamations of the French Government were already such as breathed war to Europe; all thrones were menaced with annihilation. At this time Mr. Miles, who exerted himself to maintain a friendly feeling between the nations, records, in his correspondence with the French Minister Lebrun and others, that Roland declared to one of his friends that peace was out of the question; that France had three hundred thousand men in arms, and that the Ministers must make them march as far as ever their legs could carry them, or they would return and cut all their throats.
With this force, tempted by the battering train, Charles committed the error of wasting his strength on a siege of Stirling Castle, instead of preparing to annihilate the English troops, which were in rapid advance upon him.
Thus was the man who had been put down by all the assembled armies of Europe not twelve months before, who had quitted Paris weeping like a woman, and threatened, in his exile southward, with being torn limb from limb—thus was he as it were miraculously borne back again on men's shoulders, and seated on the throne of the twice-expelled Bourbons! It was far more like a wild romance than any serious history. The peace of the world had again to be achieved. The Bourbons had been worsted everywhere, even in loyal Vendée, and in Marseilles, which had so recently set a price on Buonaparte's head. The Duke of Angoulême was surrounded in Marseilles, and surrendered on condition of quitting France. The Duke of Bourbon found La Vendée so permeated by Buonapartism that he was obliged to escape by sea from Nantes; and the Duchess of Angoulême, who had thrown herself into Bordeaux, found the troops there infected by the Buonaparte mania, and, quitting the place in indignation, went on board an English frigate."The Clare election supplied the manifest proof of an abnormal and unhealthy condition of the public mind in Ireland—the manifest proof that the sense of a common grievance and the sympathies of a common interest were beginning to loosen the ties which connect different classes of men in friendly relations to each other, to weaken the force of local and personal attachments, and to unite the scattered elements of society into a homogeneous and disciplined mass, yielding willing obedience to the assumed authority of superior intelligence hostile to the law and to the Government which administered it. There is a wide distinction (though it is not willingly recognised by a heated party) between the hasty concession to unprincipled agitation and provident precaution against the explosion of public feeling gradually acquiring the strength which makes it irresistible. 'Concede nothing to agitation,' is the ready cry of those who are not responsible—the vigour of whose decisions is often proportionate to their own personal immunity from danger, and imperfect knowledge of the true state of affairs. A prudent Minister, before he determines against all concession—against any yielding or compromise of former opinions—must well consider what it is that he has to resist, and what are his powers of resistance. His task would be an easy one if it were sufficient to resolve that he would yield nothing to violence or to the menace of physical force. In this case of the Clare election, and of its natural consequences, what was the evil to be apprehended? Not force, not violence, not any act of which law could take cognisance. The real danger was in the peaceable and legitimate exercise of a franchise according to the will and conscience of the holder. In such an exercise of that franchise, not merely permitted, but encouraged and approved by constitutional law, was involved a revolution of the electoral system in Ireland—the transfer of political power, so far as it was connected with representation, from one party to another. The actual transfer was the least of the evil; the process by which it was to be effected—the repetition in each county of the scenes of the Clare election—the fifty-pound free-holders, the gentry to a man polling one way, their alienated tenantry another—all the great interests of the county broken down—'the universal desertion' (I am quoting the expressions of Mr. Fitzgerald)—the agitator and the priest laughing to scorn the baffled landlord—the local heaving and throes of society on every casual vacancy in a county—the universal convulsion at a general election—this was the danger to be apprehended; those were the evils to be resisted. What was the power of resistance? 'Alter the law, and remodel the franchise,' was the ready, the improvident response. If it had been desired to increase the strength of a formidable confederacy, and, by rallying round it the sympathies of good men and of powerful parties in Great Britain, to insure for it a signal triumph, to extinguish the hope of effecting an amicable adjustment of the Catholic question, and of applying a corrective to the real evils and abuses of elective franchise, the best way to attain these pernicious ends would have been to propose to Parliament, on the part of the Government, the abrupt extinction of the forty-shilling franchise in Ireland, together with the continued maintenance of civil disability."
NAPOLEON ABANDONING HIS ARMY. (See p. 54.)
[See larger version][See larger version]
A new and vigorous campaign was this year carried on in India by General, now Lord, Lake, against the Mahrattas. Holkar had refused to enter into amicable arrangements with the British at the same time as Scindiah and the Rajah of Berar, but had continued to strengthen his army, and now assumed so menacing an attitude, that Lord Lake and General Frazer were sent to bring him to terms or to action. They found him strongly posted near the fortress of Deeg, in the midst of bogs, tanks, and topes, and formidably defended by artillery. On the 13th of November, 1804, General Frazer attacked them, notwithstanding, and defeated them, but was killed himself in the action, and had six hundred and forty-three men killed and wounded; for the fire of round, grape, and chain shot by the Mahrattas was tremendous. On the 17th Lord Lake fell on Holkar's cavalry near Ferruckabad, commanded by Holkar himself, and thoroughly routed it, very nearly making capture of Holkar. He retreated into the Bhurtpore territory, the Rajah of that district having joined him. Lord Lake determined to follow him, and drove him thence, reducing the forts in that country. He had first, however, to make himself master of the fortress of Deeg, and this proved a desperate affair. Still the garrison, consisting of troops partly belonging to Holkar and partly to the Rajah of Bhurtpore, evacuated it on Christmas Day, leaving behind them a great quantity of cannon and ammunition. On the 1st of January, 1805, Lord Lake, accompanied by Colonel Monson, marched into the territory of Bhurtpore, and on the 3rd sat down before its fortress, one of the strongest places in India. On the 18th of January Major-General Smith arrived from Agra with three battalions of Sepoys and a hundred Europeans. But these advantages were counterbalanced by Meer Khan arriving with a strong force from Bundelcund to assist Holkar.
On the 26th the Houses adjourned for a month, for the Christmas recess, and during this time the treaties with France and Spain made rapid progress. The fact of America being now withdrawn from the quarrel, coupled with the signs of returning vigour in England—Rodney's great victory and the astonishing defence of Gibraltar—acted as a wonderful stimulant to pacification. Spain still clung fondly to the hope of receiving back Gibraltar, and this hope was for some time encouraged by the apparent readiness of Lord Shelburne to comply with the desire, as Chatham and Lord Stanhope had done before. But no sooner was this question mooted in the House of Commons than the public voice denounced it so energetically, that it was at once abandoned. On the 20th of January, 1783, Mr. Fitzherbert signed, at Versailles, the preliminaries of peace with the Comte de Vergennes, on the part of France, and with D'Aranda, on the part of Spain. By the treaty with France, the right of fishing off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence was restored, as granted by the Treaty of Utrecht; but the limits were more accurately defined. The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, on the coast of Newfoundland, were ceded for drying of fish. In the West Indies, England ceded Tobago, which France had taken, and restored St. Lucia, but received back again Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, St. Kitt's, Nevis, and Montserrat. In Africa, England gave up the river Senegal and the island of Goree, but retained Fort St. James and the river Gambia. In India, the French were allowed to recover Pondicherry and Chandernagore, with the right to fortify the latter, and to carry on their usual commerce. They regained also Mahé and the factory of Surat, with their former privileges. The articles in the Treaty of Utrecht, regarding the demolition of the fortifications of Dunkirk, were abrogated. Spain was allowed to retain Minorca and both the Floridas, but she agreed to restore Providence and the Bahamas. The latter, however, had already been retaken by us. She granted to England the right of cutting logwood in Honduras, but without the privilege of erecting forts or stock-houses, which rendered the concession worthless, for it had always been found that without these it was impossible to carry on the trade. With the Dutch a truce was made on the basis of mutual restoration, except as concerned the town of Negapatam, which Holland ceded. The preliminaries, however, were not settled till nearly eight months afterwards.详情
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