After the Painting by SEYMOUR LUCAS, R.A., in the National Gallery of British Art
The spirit of Choiseul having departed from the French administration, and the king having so unequivocally expressed his intention not to go to war, the Spanish Court hastened to lower its tone and offer conciliatory terms. In December they had proposed, through Prince de Masserano, to disavow the expedition of Buccarelli, if the English Court would disown the menaces of Captain Hunt. This was promptly refused, and orders were sent to Mr. Harris to quit the capital of Spain. He set out in January, 1771, but was speedily recalled; the expedition of Buccarelli was disavowed; the settlement of Port Egmont was conceded, whilst the main question as to the right of either party to the Falklands at large was left to future discussion. So little value, however, did Britain attach to the Falkland Isles, that it abandoned them voluntarily two years afterwards. For many years they were forsaken by both nations; but in 1826 the Republic of Buenos Ayres adopted them as a penal colony, and in 1833 the British finally took possession of them.
Whilst these events had been passing in Austria and Bavaria, the King of England had endeavoured to make a powerful diversion in the Netherlands. Under the plea of this movement sixteen thousand British troops were embarked in April for the Netherlands; but they were first employed to overawe Prussia, which was in contention with Hanover regarding the Duchy of Mecklenburg. There were other causes of dispute between Prussia and the Elector of Hanover. George having now this strong British force, besides sixteen thousand Hanoverian troops and six thousand auxiliary Hessians, Frederick thought proper to come to terms with him, and, in consequence of mutual arrangements, the Hanoverian troops quitted Mecklenburg, and George, feeling Hanover safe, marched this united force to the Netherlands to join the British ones. He expected the Dutch to co-operate with him and the Austrians, and strike a decided blow at France. But the Earl of Stair, who was to command these forces, and who was at the same time ambassador to the States, found it impossible to induce the Dutch to act. They had increased their forces both by sea and land, but they were afraid of the vicinity of the French, and were, with their usual jealousy, by no means pleased to see the English assuming power in the Netherlands. Therefore, after making a great demonstration of an attempt on the French frontier with the united army, the project was suddenly abandoned, and the troops retired into winter quarters. But little was accomplished during this year by the British fleet.
Napoleon was at Vervins, on the 12th of June, with his Guard, and on the 14th he had joined five divisions of infantry and four of cavalry at Beaumont. The triple line of strong fortresses on the Belgian frontiers enabled him to assemble his forces unobserved by the Allies, whilst he was perfectly informed by spies of their arrangements. Wellington had arrived at Brussels, and had thrown strong garrisons into Ostend, Antwerp, Nieuwport, Ypres, Tournay, Mons, and Ath. He had about thirty thousand British, but not his famous Peninsular troops, who had been sent to America. Yet he had the celebrated German legion, eight thousand strong, which had won so many laurels in Spain; fifteen thousand Hanoverians; five thousand Brunswickers, under their brave duke, the hereditary mortal foe of Napoleon; and seventeen thousand men, Belgians, Dutch, and troops of Nassau, under the Prince of Orange. Doubts were entertained of the trustworthiness of the Belgians, who had fought under Napoleon, and who had shown much discontent of late; and Napoleon confidently calculated on them, and had Belgian officers with him to lead them when they should come over to him. But, on the whole, the Belgians behaved well; for, like all others, their country had felt severely the tyranny of Napoleon. Altogether, Wellington's army amounted to about seventy-five thousand men. He occupied with his advanced division, under the Prince of Orange, Enghien, Braine-le-Comte, and Nivelles; with his second, under Lord Hill, Hal, Oudenarde, and Grammont; and with his reserve, under Picton, Brussels and Ghent. What he had most to complain of was the very defective manner in which he had been supplied with cannon on so momentous an occasion, being able to muster only eighty-four pieces of artillery, though he had applied for a hundred and fifty, and though there were cannons enough at Woolwich to have supplied the whole of the Allied armies.The question of the regency was again brought forward, on the 6th of July, by Mr. Robert Grant, in pursuance of a notice he had previously given. The unbounded personal popularity of the king—who, unlike his predecessor shut up in seclusion and resembling Tiberius, went about sailor-like through the streets, frank, talkative, familiar, good-humoured, delighting the Londoners with all the force of pleasant contrast—rendered it increasingly difficult and delicate on the part of the Opposition to propose any measure disagreeable to a Sovereign who was the idol of the multitude, from whom no evil could be apprehended, and whose death, even in the ordinary course of Providence, it seemed something like treason to anticipate as likely to occur within a few months. They were, therefore, profuse in their declarations of respect, of admiration—nay, almost of veneration—for a monarch whom a beneficent Providence had so happily placed upon the Throne of Great Britain. The division on Mr. Grant's motion was still more decidedly favourable to the Government, the numbers being—Ayes, 93; noes, 247—majority, 154.
Some faint endeavours were made to shake off the yoke. Encouraged by France, they summoned the Turks to their aid and cut to pieces several detachments of the Russians. They proclaimed Poniatowski deposed, and called on the people to aid them to drive out the invaders. But the people, long used to oppression from their own lords, did not answer to the call. In France, Choiseul had been hurled from power, and France left the Poles to their fate. It was now that Frederick of Prussia proposed to Austria to combine with Russia and share Poland between them. At this robber proposition, so in character with Frederick, who had all his life been creating a kingdom by plundering his neighbours, Maria Theresa at first exclaimed in horror. But she was now old and failing, and she gave way, declaring that, long after she was dead and gone, people would see what would happen from their having broken through everything which had, till then, been deemed just and holy. Frederick of Prussia took the surest way to compel the Austrians to come in for a share of the spoils of Poland. He marched a body of soldiers out of Silesia—the territory which he had rent from Austria—into Posen, and Austria, not to be behind, had marched another army into the Carpathian Mountains.
Next came the declaration of war by the King of Prussia, which Buonaparte styled a treachery; but, on the contrary, the King of Prussia had only preserved faith towards his oppressor and insulter too long. Not only all Prussia, but all Germany was on fire to throw off the detested yoke of the oppressor, and Frederick William would have been a traitor to his people and to common sense to have hesitated. Yet he proposed terms of a mutual settlement. To place himself in a position of independent treaty, he suddenly left Berlin on the 22nd of January, and made his way to Breslau, where he was out of the reach of French arms, and in certainty of the arrival, at no very distant date, of Russian ones. He invited, however, the French ambassador to follow him, and he there proposed an armistice, on the conditions that the French should evacuate Dantzic and all the other Prussian fortresses on the Oder, and retire behind the Elbe, on which the Czar had promised that he would stop the march of his army beyond the Vistula. But Buonaparte treated the proposition with contempt; he was determined to give up nothing—to recover everything.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.
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During the winter the Americans had been preparing for war, fabricating and repairing arms, drilling militia, and calling on one another, by proclamations, to be ready. On the 26th of February, 1775, Gage sent a detachment to take possession of some brass cannon and field-pieces collected at Salem. A hundred and fifty regulars landed at Salem for this purpose, but, finding no cannon there, they proceeded to the adjoining town of Danvers. They were stopped at a bridge by a party of militia, under Colonel Pickering, who claimed the bridge as private property, and refused a passage. There was likely to be bloodshed on the bridge, but it was Sunday, and some ministers of Salem pleaded the sacredness of the day, and prevailed on Colonel Pickering to let the soldiers pass. They found nothing, and soon returned.For a time, Bute and his colleagues appeared to brave the load of hatred and ignominy which was now piled everywhere upon them, but it was telling; and suddenly, on the 7th of April, it was announced that the obnoxious Minister had resigned. Many were the speculations on this abrupt act, some attributing it to the influence of Wilkes, and his remorseless attacks in the North Briton; others to the king and queen having at length become sensitive on the assumed relations of Bute and the king's mother; but Bute himself clearly stated the real and obvious cause—want of support, either in or out of Parliament. "The ground," he wrote to a friend, "on which I tread is so hollow, that I am afraid not only of falling myself, but of involving my royal master in my ruin. It is time for me to retire."详情
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