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Thus this mighty armada—of which such high things were expected—was dispersed; Rodney, sending part of his fleet to Jamaica, proceeded to join Arbuthnot at New York, with eleven ships of the line and four frigates. The news of his approach reached the French and Americans there, at the same time as that of the return of De Guichen to Europe, and spread the greatest consternation. To consider what was best to do in the circumstances, a meeting was proposed at Hartford, in Connecticut, between Washington and Rochambeau, which took place on the 21st of September. At this moment a discovery took place which had a startling effect on the Americans, and was calculated to inspire the most gloomy views of their condition. General Arnold, who had fought his way up from the humble station of a horse-dealer to that which he now held, had, on all occasions, shown himself an officer of the most daring and enterprising character. Having been appointed military governor of Philadelphia, after its evacuation by General Clinton in 1778, as a post where he might recover from the severe wounds which he had received in the recent campaign, he began a style of living much too magnificent for his finances, for, with all his abilities, Arnold was a vain and extravagant man. He married a beautiful young lady of that city of Royalist origin. Rumours to his disadvantage were soon afloat, originating in this cause, for whatever he did was regarded by the staunch Whigs with an unfavourable eye. Congress was the more ready to listen to charges against him, because, involved himself in debts incurred by his extravagance, he pressed them for large claims upon them, which they had no means to satisfy. Commissioners were selected by them to examine his claims, and these men, appointed for their hard, mean natures, reduced his demands extremely. Arnold uttered his indignation at such treatment in no measured terms, and the consequence was that he was arrested, tried by a court-martial, on various charges of peculation in his different commands, and for extortion on the citizens of Philadelphia. Some of these were declared groundless, but others were pronounced to be proved, and Arnold was condemned to be reprimanded by the Commander-in-Chief. This put the climax to his wrath. Washington, who had, in Arnold's opinion, been as unjustly exalted and favoured for his defeats and delays, as he himself had been envied and repressed for his brilliant exploits, was of all men the one from whom he could not receive with patience a formal condemnation. This sentence was carried into effect in January, 1779, and Arnold, stung to the quick, was prepared to perpetrate some desperate design. The opportunity came when he was placed in command of West Point, on the Hudson, which was the key to all intercourse between the Northern and Southern States.In the Christmas recess Chatham hastened to Bath, to improve his health for the campaign of the ensuing Session; but when Parliament met again, in the middle of January, 1767, Ministers were in consternation at his not reappearing. The Duke of Grafton and Beckford, who were his most devoted adherents, were thunderstruck. They found it impossible to keep in order the heterogeneous elements of the Cabinet. All the hostile qualities, which would have lain still under the hand of the great magician, bristled up, and came boldly out. The spirit of Bedford, of Newcastle, and of Rockingham, was active in their partisans, and gathered courage to do mischief. Lord Shelburne and the Duke of Grafton became estranged; Charles Townshend, who had as much ambition and eccentricity as talent, began to show airs, and aim at supremacy. Grafton implored Chatham to come to town if possible, and when that was declared impracticable, to allow him to go down, and consult with him in his sick chamber. But he was informed that the Minister was equally unable to move or to consult.

The genius of Lord Stair was anything but military, and soon led him into a dilemma. Instead of waiting, as he had first determined, for the reinforcements of Hessians and Hanoverians, he advanced up the river, with the intention of drawing supplies from Franconia. He advanced to Aschaffenberg, which he reached on the 16th of June; but Noailles had rapidly followed him, and adroitly seized on the fords of both the Upper and Lower Main, thus cutting off Stair both from his own stores at Hanau, and from the expected supplies of Franconia. At this critical moment King George arrived at the camp, and found Noailles lying in a strong position, and Stair cooped up with his army in a narrow valley between the wild and hilly forest of Spessart, which extends from Aschaffenberg to Dettingen and the river Main. To render his case the more desperate, he had quarrelled with Aremberg, who had let him pursue his march alone; and Stair now lay, with only thirty-seven thousand men, in the very grasp, as it were, of Noailles and his sixty thousand men.

[83]

Had Sir Home Popham been satisfied with this well-executed piece of service, he would have merited honour; but, this being done, he suggested to Sir David Baird that an expedition might be made with advantage against the Spanish colonies in South America. It was reported—not truly, as it turned out—that these colonies were as poorly defended as they were wealthy. Sir David was weak enough to fall into the scheme, and, without any authority from home, as it would appear, for so important a proceeding, he permitted General Beresford to sail in Sir Home's squadron with a part of his forces. The fleet touched at St. Helena, and took in a few more soldiers, but the whole body did not then amount to more than sixteen hundred. With this contemptible handful of men, the British squadron entered the river La Plata, and landed the troops, on the 24th of June, at a short distance from Buenos Ayres. The few Spanish troops in the city were easily routed, and the place capitulated on the 27th, and Beresford entered and took up his quarters there. But he was not long left at peace. The Spaniards discovering, as a matter of course, the insignificance of the force which had thus rashly surprised the city, collected in sufficient numbers to make prisoners of them all. A French officer in the Spanish service, M. Liniers, landed with a thousand men from Monte Video and Sacramento, and, being joined by the troops of the neighbourhood which had been repulsed by Beresford, appeared before the city on the 10th of July, and summoned the British to surrender. This was the signal for the inhabitants to rise en masse and fall on them. They were prevented from escaping to their ships by the badness of the weather, and were assailed from the windows and doors, and exposed to a general attack in the great square, and were compelled to yield, on condition of being allowed to re-embark; but no sooner had they laid down their arms, than Liniers, who probably looked on them as no better than filibusters, treated them as such, and marched them up the country, where they were rigorously treated. Four hundred of them had perished in this mad attempt. Meanwhile, Sir Home Popham had sent home upwards of a million of dollars, reserving two hundred and five thousand for the pay of the army. There were great rejoicings in London at the news, and at the receipt of the specie. Popham, in his despatches, represented himself as having conquered a great colony, and opened up a wonderful mart for our manufactures; and the Ministry, delighted at the receipt of the dollars, though they had, on first hearing of the scheme, sent out orders to stop the squadron, now, on the 20th of September, issued an Order in Council declaring Buenos Ayres and its dependencies open to our trade. Long before this order could have reached America the whole scene was reversed. Sir Home Popham had, indeed, blockaded the river La Plata, and had attempted to bombard Monte Video, but his ships could not get near enough. In October reinforcements arrived from the Cape and from England, but not in sufficient strength to enable him to do anything decisive. He therefore contented himself with landing troops at Maldonado, and drove the Spaniards from the isle of Gorriti, where he lay to, and waited for greater reinforcements.

Parliament having been prorogued, the members retired to their respective counties and boroughs, many of them out of humour with themselves and with the Government which they had heretofore[307] supported, and meditating revenge. An endeavour was made in the course of the summer to renew the political connection between the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Huskisson. The friends of the existing Administration felt the weakness of their position, deprived of their natural support, and liable to be outvoted at any time. The Tories had become perfectly rabid in their indignation, vehemently charging the Duke with violation of public faith, with want of statesmanship, with indifference to the wishes and necessities of the people, and with a determination to govern the country as if he were commanding an army. Their feelings were so excited that they joined in the Whig cry of Parliamentary Reform, and spoke of turning the bishops out of the House of Lords. It was to enable the Premier to brave this storm that he was induced by his friends to receive Mr. Huskisson at his country house. The Duke was personally civil, and even kind, to his visitor; but his recollections of the past were too strong to permit of his going farther. In the following Session negotiations were made with the other Canningites, but without success, as they had thrown in their lot with the Whigs.

In May the gingham-weavers of Carlisle and that neighbourhood held a similar gathering, and in June meetings were held on Hunslet Common, near Leeds, at Glasgow, Ashton-under-Lyne, and other places. The meeting at Glasgow, on the 16th of June, was held on the Green, and amounted to thirty or forty thousand people. They complained of the low wages for cotton-weaving, and proposed a petition to the Prince Regent, praying that he would enable them to get over to Canada, promising that all such as received that favour should repay the outlay by yearly instalments. But the bulk of the assembly protested against emigration, asserting that the remedy for their distresses lay in annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and the consequent reduction of taxation; and they proposed that they should march up to London in a body, and present their petition to the Prince Regent in person. At Ashton the chair was taken by the Rev. Joseph Harrison, and the strange creature called Dr. Healey, of whom Bamford gives an extraordinary account in his "Life of a Radical," made a most wild and seditious harangue. At a great meeting at Stockport, on the 28th of the same month, a very different personage presided. This was Sir Charles Wolseley, of Wolseley Park, in Staffordshire. Sir Charles said that he had been engaged in the outbreak of the French Revolution, and had assisted in the taking of the Bastille, and that he would spend his last drop of blood, if it were necessary, in destroying the Bastilles of his own country. The acquisition of such an advocate of Reform was not likely to be received with apathy. Sir Charles was invited to preside at a similar meeting at New Hall, near Birmingham, on the 12th of July. At this meeting he was elected "legislatorial attorney and representative" for that town. This was a circumstance that excited the alarm of Government. They immediately issued warrants for the apprehension both of Sir Charles and of Dr. Harrison for seditious expressions used at the Stockport meeting. Sir Charles was arrested at his own house, at Wolseley Park; and Harrison was taken on the platform of a public meeting, at Smithfield, in London, on the 21st of July, at which Hunt was presiding. On conveying Harrison to Stockport, the constable who arrested him was attacked by the mob, and a pistol was fired at him, the ball of which lodged in his body.CHAPTER XIX. THE REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).Growth of Material Wealth—Condition of the Working Classes—The Charity Schools—Lethargy of the Church—Proposal to abolish Subscription to the Articles—A Bill for the further Relief of Dissenters—The Test and Corporation Acts—The Efforts of Beaufoy and Lord Stanhope—Attempts to relieve the Quakers—Further Effort of Lord Stanhope—The Claims of the Roman Catholics—Failure of the Efforts to obtain Catholic Emancipation—Lay Patronage in Scotland—The Scottish Episcopalians—Illustrious Dissenters—Religion in Wales and Ireland—Literature—The Novelists: Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne—Minor and later Novelists—Scott—Historians: Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon—Minor Historians—Miscellaneous Literature—Criticism, Theology, Biography, and Science—Periodical Literature—The Drama and the Dramatists—Poetry: Collins, Shenstone, and Gray—Goldsmith and Churchill—Minor Poets—Percy's "Reliques," and Scott's "Border Minstrelsy"—Chatterton and Ossian—Johnson and Darwin—Crabbe and Cowper—Poetasters and Gifford—The Shakespeare Forgeries—Minor Satires—Burns—The Lake School: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey—Scott, Campbell, Byron, Shelley, and Keats—Poets at the close of the Period—Improvement of Agricultural Science—Arthur Young—Drainage and Roots—Improvements in Road-making: Telford and Macadam—Brindley's and Telford's Canals—Bridges and Harbours—Iron Railways—Application of the Steam-Engine to Railways and Boats—Improvements in Machinery—Wedgwood—Manufacture of Glass—Collieries—Use of Coal in Iron-works—Improvements in various Manufactures—Scientific Discoveries—Music—Architecture—Painting—Sculpture—Engraving—Coins and Coinage—Manners and Customs.

In fact, whilst these events had been proceeding on the frontiers of France, Russia, Prussia, and Austria had been dividing Poland amongst them. The King of Prussia, when contemplating his participation in this vile business, issued a proclamation assigning the most virtuous reasons for it. It was to check the spread of French principles in Poland, which had compelled himself and his amiable allies, the Empress of Russia and the Emperor of Germany, to invade Poland. But these pretences were merely a cloak for a shameless robbery. Poland abutted on Prussia with the desirable ports of Thorn and Dantzic, and therefore Great Poland was especially revolutionary in the eyes of Frederick William of Prussia. The Polish Diet exposed the hollowness of these pretences in a counter-manifesto. This produced a manifesto from Francis of Austria, who declared that the love of peace and good neighbourhood would not allow him to oppose the intentions of Prussia, or permit any other Power to interfere with the efforts of Russia and Prussia to pacify Poland; in fact, his love of peace would not allow him to discountenance an aggressive war, but his love of good neighbourhood would allow him to permit the most flagrant breach of good neighbourhood. As for the Empress of Russia, she had a long catalogue of ingratitude against the Poles, in addition to their Jacobinical principles, and for these very convenient reasons she had now taken possession of certain portions of that kingdom, and called on all the inhabitants of these districts to swear allegiance to her immediately. The Empress having thus broken the ice of her real motives, the King of Prussia no longer pretended to conceal his, but called on all the inhabitants of Great Poland to swear allegiance to him forthwith. The Russian Ambassador at Grodno commanded the Poles to carry these orders of Russia and Prussia into effect by a circular dated the 9th of April. The great Polish Confederation, which had invited the interference of Russia in order to carry out their own party views, were much confounded by these announcements of their friends. They reminded the marauders of the engagements entered into by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, at the time of the former partition, to guarantee the integrity of the remainder. But this was merely parleying with assassins with the knife at their throats. The aggressive Powers by force of arms compelled poor King Poniatowski and the nobles to assemble a Diet, and draw up and sign an instrument for the alienation of the required territories. By this forced cession a territory, containing a population of more than three millions and a half, was made over to Russia; and another territory to Prussia, containing a million and a half of inhabitants, together with the navigation of the Vistula, with the port of Thorn on that great river, and of Dantzic on the Baltic, so long coveted. As for the small remainder of what once had been Poland, which was left to that shadow-king, Poniatowski, it was bound down under all the old oppressive regulations, and had Russian garrisons at Warsaw and other towns. But all these Powers were compelled to maintain large garrisons in their several sections of the appropriated country.[420]

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Before the proclamation of the new king the Council had met, and, according to the Regency Act, and an instrument signed by the king and produced by Herr Kreyenberg, the Hanoverian resident, nominated the persons who were to act till the king's arrival. They consisted of the seven great officers of State and a number of the peers. The whole was found to include eighteen of the principal noblemen, nearly all of the Whig party, as the Dukes of Shrewsbury, Somerset, and Argyll; the Lords Cowper, Halifax,[25] and Townshend. It was noticed, however, that neither Marlborough, Sunderland, nor Somers was of the number; nor ought this to have excited any surprise, when it was recollected that the list was drawn out in 1705, though only signed just before the queen's death. These noblemen belonged to that junto under whose thraldom Anne had so long groaned. The omission, however, greatly incensed Marlborough and Sunderland.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.Thus was O'Connell driven into a new course of agitation. He did not conceal, even in the hour of his triumph, that he regarded Catholic Emancipation as little more than a vantage ground on which he was to plant his artillery for the abolition of the Legislative union. After the passing of the Emancipation Act he appealed as strongly as ever to the feelings of the people. "At Ennis," he said, "I promised you religious freedom, and I kept my word. The Catholics are now free, and the Brunswickers are no longer their masters; and a paltry set they were to be our masters. They would turn up the white of their eyes to heaven, and at the same time slily put their hands into your pockets.... What good did any member ever before in Parliament do for the county of Clare, except to get places for their nephews, cousins, etc.? What did I do? I procured for you Emancipation." "The election for Clare," he said, "is admitted to have been the immediate and irresistible cause of producing the Catholic Relief Bill. You have achieved the religious liberty of Ireland. Another such victory in Clare, and we shall attain the political freedom of our beloved country. That victory is still necessary to prevent Catholic rights and liberties from being sapped and undermined by the insidious policy of those men who, false to their own party, can never be true to us, and who have yielded not to reason, but to necessity, in granting us freedom of conscience. A sober, moral, and religious people cannot continue slaves—they become too powerful for their oppressors—their moral strength exceeds their physical powers—and their progress towards prosperity is in vain opposed by the Peels and Wellingtons of society. These poor strugglers for ancient abuses yield to a necessity which violates no law, and commits no crime; and having once already succeeded by these means, our next success is equally certain, if we adopt the same virtuous and irresistible means." His new programme embraced not only the Repeal of the union, but the restoration of the franchise to the "forties."

On the Continent the struggle against the French was renewed. The King of Naples and the Emperor of Austria, in alliance with Russia, determined to free Italy of them in the absence of Buonaparte; but without waiting for the arrival of the Austrians and Russians, Ferdinand mustered nearly forty thousand men, badly disciplined, and worse officered, and set out to drive the French from Rome. General Mack, still in high repute, was sent from Vienna to command this army, and Ferdinand, a most self-indulgent and unwarlike monarch, was advised to march with them in person. Nelson was employed, with an addition of some Portuguese ships, to land a division of five thousand men of this army at Leghorn. Mack, in true Austrian style, then divided the remaining thirty-two thousand men into five columns, and marched them by different routes towards Rome. Nelson had narrowly watched the man?uvres of Mack, and pronounced him incompetent, and that the whole would prove a failure. This was speedily realised. Ferdinand, with a portion of his forces, entered Rome in triumph on the 29th of November; but Championnet, the French general, who evacuated Rome to concentrate his forces at Terni, soon defeated the other divisions of the Neapolitan army in detail, and Ferdinand fled from Rome back to Naples. But there was now no security for him there. Championnet was marching on that capital with twenty thousand veteran soldiers, and Ferdinand availed himself of Nelson's fleet to get over to Palermo. The lazzaroni defended the deserted city for three days with incredible bravery against the French, but they were betrayed by a republican party in the city, which hoisted the tricolour flag, surrendered the forts to the enemy, and fired on the defenders from the Castle of St. Elmo, which commands the town. Championnet took possession of Naples on the 23rd of January, 1799, and proclaimed a republic under the title of "Respublica Parthenopea."In fact the Ministry remained deplorably weak, despite the numerous changes in the Cabinet. The Marquis of Normanby, who had been a failure at the Home Office, changed places with Lord John Russell, who went to the Colonial Office. Mr. Francis Baring was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in the place of the most incompetent financier of modern times, Mr. Spring-Rice, who was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Monteagle, and soon afterwards appointed Comptroller of the Exchequer, with a salary of £2,000 a year; Sir John Newport having retired from that post on a pension. The Earl of Clarendon became Lord Privy Seal, and Mr. Macaulay Secretary at War, with a seat in the Cabinet in the room of Viscount Howick, who had quitted the Administration because he had disapproved of the political import of the changes, taken altogether, and they were unalterably fixed without seeking his concurrence. Mr. Charles Wood, the brother-in-law of Lord Howick, also resigned shortly afterwards, and Sir Charles Grey was refused promotion.

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