These unfortunate affairs precipitated the resignation of Lord George Germaine. His proud and impetuous temper had occasioned the resignation already of Sir Guy Carleton and of the two Howes. All complained that they could not obtain the necessary reinforcements and supplies from him as the Colonial Minister; and his tart and insolent replies to their complaints produced the retirement of these three commanders. He was already charged with having been the luckless projector of Burgoyne's disastrous expedition. Sir Henry Clinton was named the successor to the command of the forces in America, in the place of Sir William Howe. The punishment of North for the policy which had thus virtually lost America, was every day falling more crushingly upon him. On the 13th of March the Marquis de Noailles, the French Ambassador in London, and the uncle of Lafayette's wife, handed to Lord Weymouth a note formally announcing the treaty of friendship and commerce between France and America. On the 17th it was the bitter duty of Lord North to read this remarkable document to the House of Commons. The affected right to make such a treaty with the colonies of another nation, and the professions of goodwill, notwithstanding such an interference, amounted to the keenest irony, if not downright insult.Such was the peace abroad and the prosperity of the country at this time, that there occur few events worthy of record. Of those which took place in 1731, the most remarkable was an Act abolishing the use of Latin in all proceedings of the Courts of Justice, and the next the renewal of the charter of the East India Company. If the country was peaceful and prosperous, however, it was neither free from corruption nor from the need of extensive reform. The very system of Walpole which produced such a show of prosperity that an old Scottish Secretary of State asked the Minister what he had done to make the Almighty so much his friend, was built on the most wholesale bribery and corruption. It was, in fact, a purchased domestic peace. In social life the example of the Government produced the like dishonesty. There was a fearful revelation of the proceedings of a charitable corporation for lending small sums of money to the industrious poor at legal interest; and Sir Robert Sutton, the late Ambassador at Paris, was found so deeply implicated in the frauds and extortions practised on those they were employed to benefit, that he was expelled from the House. There was also an inquiry into the state of the public prisons of London, which opened up a most amazing scene of horrors. It was found to be a common practice of the warders to connive at the escape of rich prisoners for a sufficient bribe, and to inflict the most oppressive cruelties on those who were too poor to pay heavy fees.
Shortly after the king arrived, on the 12th of May, pursued to his palace gates by a multitude of his angry and insurgent subjects, he was waited upon by the Duke of Wellington, who remained in conference with him about twenty minutes, and then departed amidst the most astounding yells of the populace. "A week since," said the Sun of that day, "only a short week since, the king was in full possession of the greatest popularity any earthly monarch could enjoy; and now behold the change!" Among the means resorted to for the purpose of coercing the Peers, was a run upon the banks. The cry was raised, "To stop the Duke, go for gold!" The advice was acted upon, and in three days no less than ￡1,800,000 was drawn out of the Bank of England in specie.Britain was everywhere successful on the sea, and Lord Nelson, on the 1st of August, made an attempt on the French flotilla lying at Boulogne for the invasion of England. He was furnished with a flotilla of gunboats for the purpose, and he was able to destroy two floating batteries and a few gunboats, but found the fleet too strongly posted under the batteries of the harbour to make further impression. However, Napoleon saw that for the present an invasion was out of the question, and the autumn of this year was employed in endeavours to arrange a peace. Lord Cornwallis proceeded to Paris for this object, and went to Amiens, which was appointed as the place for the conference. The preliminaries were signed on the 1st of October, and General Lauriston, the schoolfellow and first aide-de-camp of Buonaparte, brought them over to London. The negotiations progressed slowly, being arrested now and then by the conduct of the First Consul. Without waiting for the ratification of peace, he sent off, on the 14th of December, 1801, only ten days after the signing of the preliminaries, a strong fleet and army to the West Indies to reduce the independent black Republic in St. Domingo. Britain was obliged to send reinforcements to her own West Indian fleet by Admiral Martin—so that it looked much more like war than peace. Again, in January, 1802, came the news of the election of Buonaparte to the Presidency of the Cisalpine Republic, directly contrary to the Treaty of Lunéville, and betraying the ambitious aims of Napoleon. Immediately followed the news that Buonaparte had exacted from Spain a treaty by which Parma and the island of Elba were made over to France on the death of the present, already aged, duke; that Spain had been compelled to cede part of the province of Louisiana in North America, by the same treaty; and that Portugal, though the integrity of her dominions had been carefully guaranteed by the preliminaries of peace, had by a secret article given up to France her province of Guiana. A Republican constitution was forced on Holland, and in Switzerland instructions were given to the French Minister to thwart all efforts at the formation of a stable constitution. These revelations startled the British Ministers, but did not deter them from concluding the peace, with the full approbation of Pitt. It was not that the First Consul, who every day betrayed some fresh symptom of an insatiable ambition, was disposed to offer them tempting terms; on the contrary, though we were never more able to dictate measures at sea, and he never less so, he was as haughty and dictatorial in his demands as if Great Britain had been completely under his feet. Yet the treaty went on, and was concluded and signed on the 27th of March, 1802. It settled nothing, as Britain refused to acknowledge the newly organised Republics, and declined to entertain Napoleon's preposterous suggestion that Malta was to be occupied by Neapolitan troops, under a neutrality guaranteed by all the chief European Powers; since it was well known that Napoleon, when it suited him, would cease to respect the conditions, and would readily dispossess the troops of Naples. Though Pitt believed him to have been sincere, Grenville, Windham, and Spencer saw that the ambition of the "Little Corporal" was insatiable, and denounced the treaty.
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Immediately on the rising of Parliament O'Connell published a violent attack in the form of a letter to Lord Duncannon. This was taken up by Lord Brougham in the course of an oratorical tour which he was making through Scotland, and a mutual exchange of compliments ensued. Unfortunately the Chancellor's eccentricity did not stop there. Earl Grey was not permitted to retire into private life without some popular recognition of his great public services. On the 15th of September a grand banquet was given in Edinburgh in honour of this illustrious statesman. "Probably," says a contemporary chronicle, "no Minister in the zenith of his power ever before received so gratifying a tribute of national respect as was paid on this occasion to one who had not only retired from office, but retired from it for ever. The popular enthusiasm, both in the capital and other parts of Scotland, was extreme, which the noble earl sensibly felt, and gratefully acknowledged as among the proudest circumstances of his life. The dinner took place in a large pavilion, erected for the occasion in the area of the High School, and was provided for upwards of 1,500 persons, more than 600 having been admitted after the removal of the cloth. The principal speakers were Earl Grey, the Lord Chancellor, and the Earl of Durham. Earl Grey and the Lord Chancellor, in their speeches, said they considered that the Reform in Parliament afforded the means by which all useful improvements might be obtained without violence. Both advocated a deliberate and careful, but steady course of amelioration and reform, and both derided the idea of a reaction in favour of Tory principles of government. The Earl of Durham avowed his opinions in favour of the ballot and household suffrage, and declared that he should regret every hour which left ancient and recognised abuses unreformed." This involved the Lord Chancellor in a new controversy in which more personalities were exchanged.
Lord Clanmorris " " 45,000"The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," by Gibbon, began to appear in 1776, a few months before the death of Hume, and was not completed till 1788. It consisted of six ponderous quarto volumes, and now often occupies double that number of octavos. It is a monument of enormous labour and research, filling the long, waste, dark space between ancient and modern history. It traces the history of Rome from its Imperial splendour; through its severance into East and West; through its decadence under its luxurious and effeminate emperors; through the ravages of the invading hordes of the North, to the period when the nations of Europe began, in the dawn of a new morning, to rise from the depth of barbarism into life, form, and power. The faults of this great work are, that it is written, like Hume's "History of England," in the sceptical spirit of the period; and that it marches on, in one high-sounding, pompous style, with a monotonous step, over every kind of subject. The same space and attention are bestowed on the insignificance of the feeblest emperors, and the least important times, as on the greatest and most eventful. It is a work which all should read, but a large part of it will be waded through rather as a duty than a pleasure. Still, Gibbon holds his own indispensable position; no other man has yet risen to occupy it better.
This scheme was to take Ticonderoga, and then to advance upon Albany. Whilst the army was marching to this point, the fleet, carrying another strong force, was to ascend the Hudson, and there meet Burgoyne, by which means the British could then command the Hudson through its whole extent; and New England, the head of the rebellion, would be entirely cut off from the middle and southern countries. The plan was excellent in itself, but demanded for its successful accomplishment not only commanders familiar with the country, but the most ardent spirit in them, and the most careful co-operation.
During his absence from the extreme south, General Graham, with about four thousand British and Portuguese, had quitted Cadiz by sea, and proceeded to Alge?iras, where he landed, intending to take Victor, who was blockading Cadiz, in the rear. His artillery, meanwhile, was landed at Tarifa; and on marching thither by land, over dreadful mountain roads, he was joined, on the 27th of February, by the Spanish General Lape?a, with seven thousand men. Graham consented to the Spaniard taking the chief command—an ominous concession; and the united force—soon after joined by a fresh body of about one thousand men, making the whole force about twelve thousand—then marched forward towards Medina Sidonia, through the most execrable roads. Victor was fully informed of the movements of this army, and advanced to support General Cassagne, who held Medina Sidonia. No sooner did he quit his lines before Cadiz than the Spanish General De Zogas crossed from the Isle de Leon, and menaced the left of the French army. On this Victor halted at Chiclana, and ordered Cassagne to join him there. He expected nothing less than that Lape?a would manage to join De Zogas, and that fresh forces, marching out of Cadiz and the Isle of Leon, would co-operate with them, and compel him to raise the siege altogether. But nothing so vigorous was to be expected from a Spanish general. Lape?a was so slow and cautious in his movements that Graham could not get him to make any determined advance; and on arriving at the heights of Barrosa, which a Spanish force had been sent forward to occupy, this body of men had quitted their post, and Victor was in possession of these important positions, which completely stopped the way to Cadiz and at the same time rendered retreat almost equally impossible. Lape?a was skirmishing, at about three miles' distance, with an inconsiderable force, and the cavalry was also occupied in another direction. Seeing, therefore, no prospect of receiving aid from the Spaniards, General Graham determined to attack Marshal Victor, and drive him from the heights, though the latter's force was twice as strong as the former's. This Graham did after a most desperate struggle. Had Lape?a shown any vigour or activity, Victor's retreating army might have been prevented from regaining its old lines; but it was in vain that Graham urged him to the pursuit. Lord Wellington eulogised the brilliant action of the heights of Barrosa, in a letter to Graham, in the warmest terms, declaring that, had the Spanish general done his duty, there would have been an end of the blockade of Cadiz. As it was, Victor returned to his lines and steadily resumed the siege. In the meantime, Admiral Keats, with a body of British sailors and marines, had attacked and destroyed all the French batteries and redoubts on the bay of Cadiz, except that of Catina, which was too strong for his few hundred men to take.With the same want of sagacity which was driving Ministers and Parliament to the loss of America, they were still persecuting Wilkes into popularity. On the 14th of November, 1768, Sir Joseph Mawby, member for Southwark, presented a petition from Wilkes, reciting all the proceedings of Government against him, and praying for his being heard at the bar of the House. Wilkes appeared before the House on the 31st of January, where he took exception to the word "blasphemous" as applied to the "Essay on Woman." Thurlow, afterwards Lord Chancellor, a most swearing, blaspheming man, protested that if the House did not declare it blasphemous, it would be a disgrace to it. However, the words "impious" and "obscene" were substituted. On the 1st of February the House determined that his petition was frivolous. The next day the House went into another charge against Wilkes. In the preceding April Lord Weymouth, previous to the riots in St. George's Fields, had issued a letter, as Secretary of State, to the magistrates of Lambeth, warning them of the danger of riots taking place in the endeavour to free Wilkes from prison, and offering them the aid of the military. Wilkes, while in the King's Bench, had obtained a copy of this letter, and sent it to the St. James's Chronicle with his own comments, styling it a "hellish project," and as the direct cause of that "horrid massacre." Weymouth complained to the House of Lords that this was a breach of privilege. A conference was had with the Commons; Wilkes was brought to the Bar, where Baldwin, the printer, had acknowledged the letter to be his, and then, so far from denying it, claimed the thanks of the country for having exposed that "bloody scroll." The Commons decided that he was guilty of an insolent and seditious libel, and on the following day, February 3rd, on the motion of Lord Barrington, he was expelled the House, by a majority of two hundred and nineteen to one hundred and thirty-seven. The king had directly asked for such a verdict by a letter to Lord North, declaring that Wilkes's expulsion was "highly expedient and must be effected."
[See larger version]PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD STUART (THE "YOUNG PRETENDER"). (After the Portrait by Tocque, 1748.)
But this was not the only chastisement which the Americans had received. On the 27th Captain Gordon, of the Seahorse, accompanied by other vessels, attacked Alexandria, situated lower on the Potomac. They found no resistance from Fort Washington, built to protect the river at that point; and the authorities of Alexandria delivered up all public property, on condition that the private property should be spared. The British carried off the naval and ordnance stores, as well as twenty-one vessels, of different freights. On the 12th of September General Ross made an assault on the city of Baltimore. This was a strongly fortified place, and the Americans can always fight well under cover; and, on that account, the attempt should have been made with due military approaches. But General Ross had so readily dispersed the army that defended Washington, and another which had been drawn up in front of Baltimore, that he made a rash endeavour to carry the place at once, but was killed in the attempt, as well as a considerable number of his men. He had inflicted a loss of six or eight hundred men, in killed and wounded, on the Americans; but this was little satisfaction for his own loss.详情
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