The Government at once sent Dr. Lindley and Dr. Playfair, two men of science, to Ireland, in the hope that they might be able to suggest remedies for staying the progress of the disease, or preserve that portion of the crop which was still untainted; and the consular agents in different parts of Europe and of America were directed to make inquiries and endeavour to obtain a supply of sound potatoes for seed; indeed, the seed question was even more important than that more immediately pressing one, of how the people were to be fed. In addition to this, early in October, they secretly gave orders for the purchase abroad of ￡100,000 worth of Indian corn, to be conveyed to Irish ports for distribution among the people. These measures, however, proved of little avail, and meanwhile it grew evident that in a great portion of the United Kingdom a famine was inevitable, which could not fail to influence the price of provisions of all kinds elsewhere. During this time it became known that the harvest, about which opinions had fluctuated so much, would be everywhere deficient. The friends of Sir Robert Peel in the Cabinet who shared his Free Trade tendencies knew then how impossible it was that the already tottering system of the Corn Laws could be any longer maintained. The Ministers had scarcely reached the country seats in which they looked for repose after the labours of the Session, ere the cry of "Open the ports!" was raised throughout the kingdom; but except three, none of them took his view of the gravity of the crisis. All knew that the ports once open, public opinion would probably for ever prevent the reimposition of the duties, and the majority of the Cabinet for a time still adhered to their Protectionist principles.In pursuance of this plan of the campaign, Prideaux and Johnson arrived before the fort of Niagara in the middle of July, which they found very strong, and garrisoned by six hundred men. Prideaux was soon killed by the bursting of a shell, but Johnson continued the siege with great ability, having to invest the fort on one hand, whilst he was menaced on the other by a mixed body of French and Indians, one thousand seven hundred in number, who came to relieve the fort. The attack upon him commenced with a terrible war-whoop of the Indians, which, mingling with the roar of the great cataract near, made the most horrible din imaginable. But this did not disconcert the English and their savage allies, who received them with such steady courage, that in less than an hour they were put to the rout in sight of their own garrison, and pursued for five miles with dreadful slaughter. The garrison thereupon capitulated, remaining prisoners of war. There, however, Sir William Johnson's career stopped. From various causes, not foreseen, he was not able to advance beyond the Ontario to unite with Amherst. That general had fully succeeded in taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point, but he found the French so strongly posted on an island at the upper end of Lake Champlain, that he was compelled to stop and build boats to enable his army to reach and dislodge them; and it was not till October that he was ready to proceed, when he was driven back repeatedly by tempests, and compelled to go into winter quarters.
Scarcely was the Prince married, when he began to complain of his limited income. His father, as Prince of Wales, had been allowed one hundred thousand pounds from the Civil List, which then was only seven hundred thousand pounds, but he now received only fifty thousand pounds from a Civil List of eight hundred thousand pounds. Bolingbroke, two years before, on leaving England, told the prince, as his parting advice, to apply to Parliament, without any regard to the king, for a permanent income of one hundred thousand pounds a year. Under these circumstances, Walpole persuaded the king to send a message to the prince, offering to settle a large jointure on the princess, and to make the prince's own income independent of his father. Here the prince ought to have yielded; if he had been either politic or well-disposed, he would have done so. The king was at this time very ill, and his physicians declared that if he did not alter soon, he could not live a twelvemonth. This circumstance of itself would have touched any young man of the least natural feeling, to say nothing of policy; for, if the king died, there was an end of the question—the prince would be king himself. But he was now in such a temper that he would not listen to the royal proposal; and the next day, the 22nd of February, 1737, Pulteney made his motion in the House of Commons for an address beseeching the king to settle upon the prince a hundred thousand pounds a year, and promising that the House would enable him effectually to do so. What was still stranger, it was seconded by Sir John Barnard. The Commons were not willing to run counter to a prince apparently on the point of ascending the throne, and Walpole would have found himself in a minority had Wyndham, as he hoped, brought the Tories to vote for the prince. But forty-five Jacobites, who could not bring themselves to vote for an heir of the House of Hanover, though they would by that have done a serious mischief to the Hanoverian usurper, as they styled him, rose in a body and quitted the House. On the division, the Ministerial party amounted to two hundred and thirty-four, the Opposition to only two hundred and four—being a majority for Ministers of exactly thirty. The next day the same motion was made in the Lords by Carteret, but was rejected by a large majority—one hundred and three to forty.
On the 10th of September the Prussians began to examine the passes of the forest; and finding them defended, they attacked the French entrenchments but were everywhere repulsed. On the 11th, they concentrated their efforts on the pass of Grand-Pré, defended by Dumouriez himself, and were again repulsed by General Miranda at Mortaume, and by General Stengel at St. Jouvion. The Allies, thus unexpectedly brought to a check, for they had been led by the Emigrants to expect a disorganised or as yet undisciplined army, determined to skirt the forest and endeavour to turn it near Sedan. Whilst engaged in this plan, the Austrians discovered the weakness of the force in the defile of Croix-aux-Bois, where only two battalions and two squadrons of volunteers were posted, for Dumouriez had not examined the pass himself and was assured that this force was amply sufficient. Once aware of this mistake, the Austrians, under the Duke de Ligne, briskly attacked the position and drove the French before them. Dumouriez, informed of this disorder, ordered forward General Chasot with a strong force, who defeated the Austrians, killed De Ligne, and recovered the pass. But the advantage was but momentary; the Austrians returned to the charge with a far superior force, and again cleared the pass and remained in possession of it. Thus Dumouriez saw his grand plan of defence broken up; and finding that Chasot, who had fallen back on Vouziers, was cut off from him on his left along with Dubouquet, he saw the necessity of falling back himself into the rear of Dillon, on his right, who was yet master of the Islettes and the road to St. Menehould. He then sent messages to Chasot, Dubouquet, and to Kellermann, to direct their march so as to meet him at St. Menehould.
VIEW OF WASHINGTON FROM ARLINGTON HEIGHTS.Thus the whole country was torn by religious animosity; the nobles were insolent to the Crown, and the people were nothing. Such was the divided condition of Poland which led to its dismemberment. All nobility of mind was destroyed; pride and oppression were the inseparable consequences of such a system. There was no middle class, no popular class; it was a country of lords and slaves—of one class domineering over the other. The Greek Catholics were the Dissidents, and the Dissidents sought aid from Russia—which was also Greek in religion—and, to insure this aid, condescended to the lowest arts of solicitation, to the practice of fawning, stooping, and cringing to the great barbarous power of Russia on one side, and to the equally barbarous power of Turkey on the other. The nobles could bring large bodies of cavalry into the field, as many, at times, as a hundred thousand; but as they had no free people, and dreaded to arm their slaves, they had little or no infantry, except such as they hired, and even this was in no condition to withstand the heavy masses of Russian infantry, much less such armies as Prussia or Austria might be tempted to bring against them.[See larger version]
Everything in Parliament and in Ministerial movements now denoted the near approach of the renewal of war. On the 8th of March a message was received by both Houses of Parliament from his Majesty, stating that great military preparations were going on in Holland and France, and that his Majesty deemed it highly necessary to take measures for the security of his dominions. It added that negotiations were going on with France, the issue of which was uncertain, but it neither stated what these negotiations were, nor the measures called for. The message was taken for what it was—a note of war, and both in the Lords and Commons strong expressions of defiance were used to France. This seemed to have encouraged Ministers to a plainer expression of their intentions, for only two days later another message came down, calling for an increase of the navy. The next day, the 11th, the Commons formed themselves into a committee, and voted an addition of ten thousand seamen to the fifty thousand already voted. The militia were embodied. Sheridan was very zealous for war; Ministers, however, professed to desire the continuance of peace if possible.WATERLOO VIEWS.Napoleon, however, called his Champ-de-Mai together for the electors to this anomalous document; but, to add to the incongruity, the assembly was held in the Champ-de-Mars, and not in May at all, but on the 1st of June. There he and his brothers, even Lucien, who had been wiled back to his assistance, figured in fantastic robes as emperor and princes of the blood, and the electors swore to the Constitution; but the whole was a dead and dreary fiasco. On the 4th the two Chambers, that of Peers and that of Representatives, met. The Peers, who were his own officers and picked men, readily agreed to the Constitution; but not so the Chamber of Representatives. They chose Lanjuinais president, who had been a zealous advocate of Louis XVI., and who had drawn up the list of crimes under which Buonaparte's forfeiture had been pronounced in 1814. They entered into a warm discussion on the propriety of abolishing all titles of honour in that Chamber. They rejected a proposition to bestow on Napoleon the title of Saviour of his Country, and they severely criticised the "additional Act," declaring that "the nation would entertain no plans of aggrandisement; that not even the will of a victorious prince should lead them beyond the boundaries of self-defence." In this state of things Buonaparte was compelled to depart, leaving the refractory chamber to discuss the articles of his new Constitution.
AFTER THE PAINTING BY SIR DAVID WILKIE, R. A., IN THE ROYAL COLLECTION.At this juncture Napoleon proceeded to set all Europe against him. A conspiracy had been set on foot against his Government by the Royalists, notably by one Lajolais, who had formerly fought under Pichegru, and in 1794 had assisted him in his intrigues with the Bourbon princes. On arriving in London he had interviews with Pichegru, Georges Cadoudal, the Chouan chief, the Polignacs, the Count d'Artois, the Duke of Berry, etc., and assured them that such was the feeling against Buonaparte in France, that it only needed the appearance of the Royalist leaders, and their forming a league with Moreau, the victor of Hohenlinden, whom he truly represented as greatly disgusted with Buonaparte, to produce a revolution and crush the aspiring First Consul. The statements of Lajolais were listened to, and a vessel, under the command of Captain John Wesley Wright, was despatched to the coast of Brittany, with General Georges Cadoudal, the Marquis de la Rivière, the brothers Armand and Jules Polignac, and some others, whom he put safely ashore in the autumn of 1803. Pichegru, Georges Cadoudal, the Polignacs, de la Rivière, and the rest of the Royalists, about thirty in number, had made their way to Paris, and were living there secretly, endeavouring to learn the real state of the public mind, and Pichegru and Cadoudal had been introduced to Moreau. Pichegru saw Moreau at least twice, and on one of these occasions he took with him Georges Cadoudal; but Moreau seemed taken by surprise by their communications with him, and was so horrified by the language and proposals of the daring Chouan, that he desired Pichegru not to bring that irrational savage again into his company. It appeared pretty clear that there was some mistake somewhere; and that Moreau, however much dissatisfied with Napoleon, was by no means disposed to enter into any Royalist conspiracy. Had the delegates found things ripe for such a revolution, they were to inform the Bourbon princes in London, and they were to make a strong descent on the coast of Brittany; but they all felt so satisfied that Lajolais had given them false information, that they were about to quit the capital, and to return to England, Captain Wright having been lingering with his frigate on the Breton coast for that purpose, when Fouchè the Minister of Police, pounced upon them. He had been keeping a strict watch on all their movements; he had now established their intercourse with Moreau, and trusted to be able to make sufficient use of that fact to destroy both them and him. It was asserted, although there is no proof whatever of the fact, that the plan included the murder of the First Consul. Further, in order to bring odium upon England, Buonaparte succeeded, by means of his agents, in entrapping Messrs. Drake and Spencer Smith, our Ministers at the courts of Bavaria and Würtemberg, into consenting to the conspiracy. They knew nothing of the real plot, but being informed that a Royalist conspiracy was on foot, gave it a certain amount of countenance. Napoleon thereupon accused them of being accomplices in a diabolical plot to assassinate him, forced the Courts to which they were accredited to expel them, and circulated throughout Europe a violent attack on the British Government. In an exceedingly able and dignified reply Lord Hawkesbury pointed out that Britain was at war with France, and had a right, which she intended to use, to take advantage of the political situation in that country. Napoleon gained little by his Machiavellian man?uvre.
CHARTISTS AT CHURCH. (See p. 456.)Meanwhile, the American emissaries were both busy and successful at the Court of France. Though the Government still professed most amicable relations towards Great Britain, it winked at the constant sale of the prizes taken by American privateers, or those who passed for such, in their ports. The Government had, as we have seen, supplied the insurgents with money and arms. It was now arranged between Silas Deane and the French Minister, Vergennes, that the supplies of arms and ammunition should be sent by way of the West Indies, and that Congress should remit payment in tobacco and other produce. The French Government supplied the American agents with money for their purchases of arms and necessary articles for the troops, also to be repaid in tobacco. Two of the ships sent off with such supplies were captured by the British men-of-war; but a third, loaded with arms, arrived safely. To procure the money which they could not draw from Europe, Congress made fresh issues of paper money, though what was already out was fearfully depreciated. They voted a loan also of five millions of dollars, at four per cent. interest. They authorised a lottery to raise a like sum, the prizes to be payable in loan-office certificates. These measures only precipitated the depreciation of the Government paper; people refused to take it; and Washington, to prevent the absolute starvation of the army, was endowed with the extraordinary power of compelling the acceptance of it, and of arresting and imprisoning all maligners of the credit of Congress. Congress went further, and passed a resolution that their bills ought to pass current in all payments, trade, and dealings, and be deemed equal in value to the same sum in Spanish dollars; and that all persons refusing to take them should be considered enemies to the United States; and the local authorities were called upon to inflict forfeitures and other penalties on all such persons. Still further: the New York convention having laid before Congress their scheme for regulating the price of labour, produce, manufactured articles, and imported goods, it was adopted. But these arbitrary and unscientific measures the traders set at defiance, and the attempts to enforce them only aggravated the public distress. Loans came in slowly, the treasury ran low, the loan offices were overdrawn, and the issue of bills of credit was reluctantly recommenced; ten additional millions were speedily authorised, and as the issue increased, the depreciation naturally kept pace with it. The Commissioners in France were instructed to borrow money there, but the instructions were more easily given than executed.
Bagration, prevented by Jerome of Westphalia from pursuing his route towards Drissa, changed his course towards Minsk; but finding himself outstripped there too, he made for the Beresina, and effected a passage at Bobruisk. He then ascended the Dnieper as far as Mohilev; but, finding himself anticipated by Davoust, he attacked that general in the hope of cutting his way through. In this he failed, after a sharply-contested engagement, and once more he retired down the Dnieper, and crossed at Nevoi-Bikoff, which enabled him to pursue his course for a union with Barclay de Tolly, who was making for Smolensk. Thus Bagration, though running imminent hazard of being cut off, managed to out-man?uvre Napoleon himself—a new event in his campaigns. On his march, his troops had several encounters with the French and Polish cavalry; but Platoff showed great gallantry, and often severely punished the enemy.The Duke brought this letter to Mr. Peel, who read it in his presence, and then at once told him that he would not press his retirement, but would remain in office, and would propose, with the king's consent, the measures contemplated by the Government for the settlement of the Catholic question. Immediately after this decision was taken he attended a meeting of the Cabinet and announced his determination to his colleagues. One of these, Lord Ellenborough, could not refrain from writing to express his admiration of his conduct, dictated by true statesmanlike wisdom; adding that he had acted nobly by the Government, and in a manner which no member of it would forget. On the day that the king got the paper, those of the Ministers who had uniformly voted against the Catholic question had each a separate interview with the king, and individually expressed their concurrence in the course Mr. Peel recommended. The Ministers were—the Duke of Wellington, Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Bathurst, Mr. Goulburn, and Mr. Herries. The king, after this interview, intimated his consent that the Cabinet should consider the whole state of Ireland, and submit their views to him, not pledging himself, however, to adopt them, even if they should concur unanimously in the course to be pursued. The king was not convinced by Mr. Peel's arguments. He admitted it to be a good statement, but denied that it was an argumentative one.
The plot thickened as it proceeded. It was suspected that the Conservative section of the Whigs wished for office, and that Sir Robert Peel wished to have them. Mr. Stanley (now Lord Stanley in consequence of the death of his grandfather, the Earl of Derby), Sir. J. Graham, and the Duke of Richmond had a meeting at the Duke of Sutherland's, to consider what they should do, in consequence of proposals made to them to join the Administration. But as they would not pledge themselves to forward Conservative measures to the extent required, Sir Robert Peel was obliged to form a Government of Tories exclusively. On the 10th of the month the arrangements were completed, and the following were announced as the members of the Cabinet:—First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Robert Peel; Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst; Privy Seal, Lord Wharncliffe; Secretary of the Home Department, Mr. Goulburn; Secretary of the Foreign Department, Duke of Wellington; Secretary of the Colonial Department, Lord Aberdeen; First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl Ripon; Secretary for Ireland, Sir H. Hardinge; President of the Board of Control, Lord Ellenborough; President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint, Mr. Baring; Paymaster of the Forces, Mr. E. Knatchbull; Secretary at War, Mr. Herries; Master-General of the Ordnance, Sir G. Murray.详情
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