In September the Americans in Fort Erie, being strongly reinforced, and elated by their repulse of General Drummond, marched out and made an attack on the British lines. General de Watteville received them with such effect that they rapidly fell back on Fort Erie and, no longer feeling themselves safe even there, they evacuated the fort, demolished its works, and retreated altogether from the shore of Upper Canada. When the news of peace, which had been concluded in December of this year, arrived in the spring, before the commencement of military operations—though thirty thousand men at a time had invaded the Canadian frontiers, and Hampton, Wilkinson, and Harrison had all been marching in the direction of Kingston and Montreal simultaneously, the British were in possession of their fortress of Niagara, and of Michilimakinac, the key of the Michigan territory; and they had nothing to give in exchange but the defenceless shore of the Detroit. They had totally failed in their grand design on Canada, and had lost—in killed, wounded, and prisoners—nearly fifty thousand men, besides vast quantities of stores and ammunition. In short, they had incurred an expenditure quite heavy enough to deter them from lightly attacking the Canadas again.The siege of Badajoz was again resumed, but with the same almost insurmountable obstacle of the deficiency of the requisite material for siege operations; and on the 10th of June, learning that Marmont, the successor of Massena, was marching south to join Soult, who was also to be reinforced by Drouet's corps from Toledo, Wellington fell back on Campo Mayor, gave up the siege of Badajoz, and gathered all his forces together, except a considerable body of British and Portuguese, whom he left at Alemtejo. Marmont, observing Wellington's movement, again retired to Salamanca. Some slight man?uvring followed between the hostile commanders, which ended in Wellington resuming his old quarters on the river Coa. On this, Soult also retired again to Seville.
George had, if anything, a narrower intellect than his father, but spoke English fluently, though with a foreign accent—a great advantage over his predecessor. He was small of stature, and subject to fits of violent passion, neither of which qualities was conducive to royal dignity. Nor did the attributes of his mind supply any gain calculated to remedy these defects. He was possessed of courage, which he had proved at the battle of Oudenarde, and displayed again at Dettingen, and he was praised for justice. Perhaps it was a love of order and etiquette rather than justice which distinguished him. For his sort of military precision and love of soldiers he was nicknamed the "Little Captain" by the Jacobites. But the worst trait of his disposition was his avarice. He admitted, says Lord Chesterfield, that he was much more affected by little things than great ones—the certain mark of a little mind; he therefore troubled himself very little about religion, but took it as he found it, without doubt, objection, or inquiry. He hated and despised all literature and intellectual pursuit, arts and sciences, and the professors of them.The murder of one landlord was sufficient to spread terror throughout the whole class, the most recent and horrible case being used for this purpose in the threatening notices. Thus, when Major Mahon was shot, a letter was sent to the wife of another landed proprietor, warning her that if her husband did not remit all the arrears of rent due by his tenants, two men would be sent to dispatch him as they had dispatched the demon Mahon. The Lord-Lieutenant had increased the constabulary force in the disturbed districts, and called out the military to aid in the execution of the law. But it was the opinion of the magistrates in those districts that the powers of the executive were not sufficient. The object of Sir George Greys measure was to extend those powers—not to create any new tribunal, for trial by jury had worked satisfactorily. What he proposed was that the Lord-Lieutenant should have power to "proclaim" disturbed districts, to increase in them the constabulary force to any extent he might think fit out of the reserve of 600 in Dublin, to limit the use of firearms, and to establish nocturnal patrols. He thought that by such a measure the Government would be able to put down the crimes that were disorganising society in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel supported the Government measure. Mr. Feargus O'Connor divided the House against it; but was supported by only twenty members. It was soon after read a second time, having been strenuously resisted by some of the Irish members. It rapidly went through committee, and was read a third time, when the minority against it was only fourteen. The Bill passed through the Lords without alteration.
The career of Lord Ellenborough as Governor-General of India was one of the most remarkable in its annals. He went out for the purpose of inaugurating a policy of peace, conciliation, and non-intervention. His course from that day was one of constant aggression and war. The conquests of Scinde and Gwalior were planned and prepared for deliberately and in good time; and when the Governments to be subdued were goaded into hostilities, he was ready to pounce upon them with overwhelming force. His friends defended this policy on the ground that, though it was aggressive it was self-defensive; to guard against a possible, but very remote contingency—an invasion of the Sikhs to drive the British out of India. The Governor-General, however, had become entirely too warlike; and since he had smelt powder and tasted blood at Gwalior, the Board of Control, who had already formally censured his Scinde policy, became so alarmed at his martial propensities that they determined on his immediate recall, and sent out Sir Henry Hardinge to rule in his stead.SIR JOHN MOORE.At the opening of 1810 a peace was contracted with Turkey; but not with the Sultan Selim, with whom we had been at war, nor with his successor, Mahmoud. Whilst the throne of Turkey was occupied by a mere boy, and whilst his regular troops were dispersed, Alexander of Russia, famed for his piety, thought it a fine opportunity to seize on his neighbour's lands. His Ministers, at the commencement of 1809, at the Congress of Jassy, demanded, as a condition of peace, the cession of the Turkish provinces on the left bank of the Danube. The Turks, of course, refused to thus dismember their empire for the aggrandisement of Russia; and Alexander, who was resolved to have those provinces by hook or by crook, immediately declared war on Turkey, on the shameless plea that it had made peace with Britain. The Russians were supported by the Greeks, and other inhabitants of Moldavia and Wallachia; but on crossing the Danube and pushing forward into Bulgaria they were beaten on every occasion. On the 22nd of October, 1809, a desperate conflict took place between them under the walls of Silistria, which continued from morning till night, in which the Russians were driven back, and, in a second engagement, routed with such slaughter that they retired from Bulgaria, and went into winter-quarters in Moldavia and Wallachia. In this campaign it was found that the guns were served by French officers, though Buonaparte professed to be willing that Alexander should possess himself of Constantinople. By the peace with Turkey, the trading ports of that empire were again opened to us, and our manufactures, entering there, spread over all the Continent, and were sold and worn in Hamburg, Bremen, and other towns where they were strictly excluded by sea.
DUEL BETWEEN THE "GUERRIèRE" AND THE "CONSTITUTION." (See p. 36.)The spring of 1810 witnessed one of the most important events of the reign of Napoleon, and one which, no doubt had a decided influence on his fate—his divorce from Josephine and his marriage with Maria Louisa, the archduchess of Austria. It had long been evident to those about Napoleon that a change of this kind would take place. Josephine had brought the Emperor no child, and, ambitious in every way, he was as much so of leaving lineal successors to the throne and empire which he had created, as he was of making that empire co-extensive with Europe. Josephine, strongly attached to him, as well as to the splendour of his position, had long feared such a catastrophe, and had done all in her power to divert his mind from it. She proposed to him that he should adopt an heir, and she recommended to him her own son, Eugene Beauharnais. But this did not satisfy Buonaparte. She then turned his attention to a child of her daughter, Hortense Beauharnais, by his brother Louis, the King of Holland. This would have united her own family to his, and to this scheme Buonaparte appeared to consent. He showed much affection for the child, and especially as the boy displayed great pleasure in looking at arms and military man?uvres; and on one occasion of this kind Buonaparte exclaimed, "There is a child fit to succeed, perhaps to surpass me!" But neither was this scheme destined to succeed. The child sickened and died, and with it almost the last hope of Josephine. Whilst at Erfurt with the Emperor Alexander, in 1808, Buonaparte had actually proposed for a Russian archduchess; nay, in 1807 he had made such overtures at the Treaty of Tilsit. Thus the idea had been settled in his mind three years, at least, before it was realised. The Russian match had on both occasions been evaded, on the plea of the difference of religion; but the truth was that the notion of such an alliance was by no means acceptable to the Imperial family of Russia. The Empress and the Empress-mother decidedly opposed it; and though the plea of difference of religion was put forward, Buonaparte could not but feel that the real reasons were very different—that he was looked on as a successful adventurer, whose greatness might some day dissolve as speedily as it had grown, and that, be this as it might, the Russian family were not disposed to receive him, a parvenu monarch, into their old regal status.
CHAPTER II. THE REIGN OF GEORGE I.It is said that when Johnson called on Goldsmith to see what could be done to raise money to pay the latter's landlady, who threatened him with imprisonment, Goldsmith handed the doctor the MS. of a new novel that might be worth something! This was the "Vicar of Wakefield." Johnson recognised its merits instantly, and at once sold it to a bookseller for ￡60, with which Goldsmith's rent was paid.
On the 30th of March the British cast anchor before Copenhagen, between it and the island of Huen. On reconnoitring, the defences of the place were found to be very formidable. Nelson was appointed to make the attack with twelve line-of-battle ships, and some smaller craft. He had asked for ten. The next morning—the 2nd of April—the wind was favourable, and Nelson weighed and drew nearer to the town—Sir Hyde Parker on the outside threatening the batteries and vessels at the mouth of the harbour. At ten o'clock the firing commenced, and at eleven it was general. Three of the British vessels—the Agamemnon, the Bellona, and the Russell—stuck fast on the shoal. For three hours the battle raged fiercely, for the Danes fought with their well-known valour. It was necessary for Nelson to silence or destroy the floating batteries and gunboats before he could come at the ships of the line and the great land batteries. He had ordered five hundred seamen, under the Hon. Colonel Stuart and Captain Freemantle to storm the Kroner Battery as soon as it was silenced; but at this moment Sir Hyde Parker, seeing the signals of distress flying at the mast-heads of the three vessels aground, and that three others, which he had sent forward as a reinforcement, were making but slow way to the front, signalled for the fleet to draw off, and cease the engagement. But Nelson took no notice of the signal: he continued to walk the deck, and asked if his signal for close action was still hoisted, and, being told it was, said:—"Mind you keep it so." About half-past one o'clock the fire of the Danes slackened, and by two it had nearly ceased. But the vessels that had struck their flags recommenced firing on our boats sent to take possession of them, and the fire of the batteries on land and on Amager Island struck these surrendered vessels on one side, and that of our ships on the other. To prevent the destruction of the unhappy Danes placed in this fatal situation, Nelson sent on shore Sir Frederick Thesiger with a flag of truce, and a letter to the Crown Prince, entreating him to put an end to a contest that was uselessly wasting the lives of the brave Danes. Within half an hour after Thesiger's departure, the firing from the Kroner Battery ceased, and Adjutant-General Lindholm came on board to learn the precise object of Nelson's note. Nelson replied that his object was humanity. He demanded that the action should cease, and that the wounded Danes should be taken on shore; that then he would burn or carry away the surrendered vessels, as he should think fit. It was agreed that the combat should cease for twenty-four hours, during which negotiations should be entered into. After five days' arduous discussion, an armistice was concluded for fourteen weeks, during which the treaty of armed neutrality with Russia was to be suspended. Nelson was to have full liberty to purchase any necessaries for his fleet, in Copenhagen or along the coast, and in case of renewal of hostilities all the Danish prisoners were to be again surrendered.
There was a number of lady dramatists of this period. Mrs. Cowley wrote "The Runaway," "The Belle's Stratagem," "More Ways than One," etc.; Mrs. Brooke, Miss Marshall, Mrs. Lennox, and Miss Sophia Lee, all wrote successful plays; Mrs. Sheridan, the author of the Eastern story, "Nourjahad," was the writer of the successful comedies of "The Discovery" and "The Dupe." But the chief dramatist of this period was Richard Brinsley Sheridan, her son (b. 1751; d. 1816). He was equally distinguished as a politician, an orator, and a critic. Like Murphy, Macklin, and Cumberland, he was an Irishman. His dramas placed him at the head of all the writers for the stage of his time. They abounded with humour, wit, the smartest action, and knowledge of life and human nature. His splendid comedy of "The Rivals," written when he was not twenty-five, did not at first augur much success; but "The Duenna," which appeared the same year, carried with it at once the highest public favour; and his "School for Scandal," acted in 1777, raised his reputation to the utmost. He also wrote the farces of "The Critic," "The Trip to Scarborough," and "St. Patrick's Day." All these were issued before 1780, and after that he was too much involved in political affairs to renew this style of writing. Amongst his other labours for the theatre was the adaptation of "Pizarro," one of Kotzebue's numerous plays. Sheridan first appeared before the world as the translator of "Arist?netus."LORD COLLINGWOOD.
The workhouse test, then, operated powerfully in keeping down pauperism; but another cause came into operation still more influential, namely, the Law of Settlement. By the Act 13 and 14 Charles II. a legal settlement in a parish was declared to be gained by birth, or by inhabitancy, apprenticeship, or service for forty days; but within that period any two justices were authorised, upon complaint being made to them by the churchwardens or overseers, if they thought a new entrant likely to become chargeable, to remove him, unless he either occupied a tenement of the annual value of ten pounds, or gave sufficient security that he would indemnify the parish for whatever loss it might incur on his account. And by a subsequent Act, 3 William III., every newcomer was obliged to give notice to the churchwarden of his arrival. This notice should be read in church after divine service, and then commenced the forty days during which objection might be made to his settlement. In case of objection, if he remained it was by sufferance, and he could be removed the moment he married, or was likely to become chargeable. A settlement might also be obtained by being hired for a year when unmarried or childless, and remaining the whole of that time in the service of one master; or being bound an apprentice to a person who had obtained a settlement. The effect of this system was actually to depopulate many parishes. The author of a valuable pamphlet on the subject, Mr. Alcock, stated that gentlemen were led by this system to adopt all sorts of expedients to hinder the poor from marrying, to discharge servants in their last quarter, to evict small tenants, and pull down cottages; so that several parishes were in a manner depopulated, while England complained of want of useful hands for agriculture, for manufactures, and for the land and sea services.The Ministry were now involved in a transaction which produced them a plentiful crop of unpopularity. The country was already highly disappointed by the character of the financial measures, and now saw them engaged in an attempt to gratify the domestic resentments of the Prince of Wales. We have already alluded to the disreputable circumstances attending his marriage with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick. After little more than a year's cohabitation they separated, but not before a daughter was born. So long as the Pitt Administration continued, all offensive measures of a public nature were warded from the unfortunate princess. The king had always been her decided protector; but now the Whigs came in, who had ever been in alliance with the Prince of Wales, and that exemplary gentleman conceived hopes that he might rid himself of her. The public had been for some time scandalised by disputes between the prince and princess as to a proper separate allowance for her, and concerning the prince's endeavours to deprive her of the company of her own child; but, as he had not succeeded in taking away the infant, rumours were soon industriously spread that the princess, at Blackheath, was leading a very disreputable life. All that they could gather up or construe to the princess's disadvantage was duly communicated to the Duke of Sussex, and by the duke to his brother, the prince. In 1805 they had supplied their employer or employers with a most startling story of the princess's having been delivered of a son, whom she was openly keeping in her house, under pretence that it was the child of a poor woman of the name of Austin, which she had adopted. Immediate steps were taken privately to get up a case. On the 24th of May Lord Chancellor Erskine read the written statements to the king, who decided that a private inquiry should take place; that the house of Lord Grenville should be selected as the proper scene, and that Lords Erskine, Spencer, Grenville, and Ellenborough should undertake the inquiry and report to him upon it. This meeting and inquiry took place, accordingly, on the 1st of June. Romilly attended. The servants were examined, and appear, according to Romilly's diary, to have uniformly given the most favourable testimony to the conduct of the princess. Further: the reputed mother of the child, Sophia Austin, was examined, and proved that the child was veritably her own; had been born at the Brownlow Street Hospital on the 11th of July, 1802, and had been taken to the princess's house on the 15th of November, adopted by her, and had remained there ever since. "The result," says Romilly, "was a perfect conviction on my mind, and, I believe, on the minds of the four lords, that the child was the child of Sophia Austin." This affair of the Princess of Wales was not terminated till the end of January, 1807. When the report was laid before the king, he referred it to the Cabinet, and they advised him to send a written message to the princess, acquitting her of the main charge, but observing that he saw in the depositions of the witnesses, and even in her own letter to him, defending her conduct, evidence of a deportment unbecoming her station. The odium excited against the Ministry by these un-English proceedings was intense, especially amongst women, all over the country.
'Purpurea tollant aul?a Britanni;'Parliament was prorogued on the 31st of May, 1826, and two days afterwards dissolved. It had nearly run its course. It was the sixth Session, which had been abridged with a view of getting through the general election at a convenient season. But though short, the Session had much work to show of one kind or another, including some useful legislation. The Parliamentary papers printed occupied twenty-nine folio volumes, exclusive of the journals and votes. The Parliament whose existence was now terminated had, indeed, effected the most important changes in the policy of Great Britain, foreign and domestic. Mr. Canning had severed the connection, unnatural as it was damaging, between England and the Holy Alliance. The Government of the freest country in the world, presenting almost the only example of a constitution in which the power of the people was represented, was no longer to be associated in the councils of a conclave of despots; and this change of direction in its foreign policy was cordially adopted by the House of Commons and by the nation. Another great and vital change in national policy was the partial admission of the principles of Free Trade, which the Tories regarded, not without reason, as effecting a complete revolution, which extended its influence to the whole legislation and government.详情
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