Under sharp fighting, Wellington crossed the Nivelle on the 10th of November, and proposed to go into cantonments at St. Jean de Luz, on the right bank of the Nivelle; but he did not find himself in a position to obtain supplies there, and he therefore crossed the Nive, and occupied the country between that river and the Adour. Soult made desperate efforts to drive the enemy back; but he was compelled to fall back on his entrenched camp in front of Bayonne; and Wellington went into winter-quarters about the middle of December, but quarters extremely uncomfortable. Their late conflicts, between the 9th and 13th of December, had been made in the worst of weather, and they had marched over the most terrible roads. During these conflicts they had lost six hundred and fifty killed, and upwards of one thousand wounded and five hundred missing. The French had lost three times that number. But the French were at home amid their own people; while the allies were in a hostile country, suffering every species of want. At this moment Britain was sending clothes, arms, and ammunition to the Germans, the Sclavonians, and Dutch; but her own gallant army, which had chased the French out of Spain, and which had to maintain the honour of Great Britain by advancing towards Paris, was suffered to want everything, especially great-coats and shoes, in that severe season. Wellington had earnestly implored a reinforcement of twenty thousand men, but it did not arrive.The danger of civil war was felt to be so great that earnest attempts were made to conciliate the queen, and to effect a compromise. Mr. Wilberforce was very zealous in this matter. He wrote to the king, entreating him to restore the queen's name to the liturgy. This was a vital point. The Ministry had expressed their intention to resign if this must be done. Mr. Wilberforce headed a deputation from the House of Commons, who proceeded to her residence, in full court costume. He describes her manner as "extremely dignified, but very stern and haughty." He got no thanks from either party for his attempts at negotiation. He was very much abused by Cobbett and other writers on the popular side. Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman met the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh on the 15th of June to discuss an adjustment; when it was laid down, as a preliminary, that the queen must not be understood to admit, nor the king to retract, anything; and that the questions to be examined were—the future residence of the queen; her title, when travelling on the Continent; the non-exercise of certain rights of patronage in England; and the income to be assigned to her for life. This fourth topic the queen desired might be altogether laid aside in these conferences; and the differences which arose upon the first proposition prevented any discussion on the second and third. They suggested that her Majesty should be officially introduced by the king's Ministers abroad to foreign Courts, or, at least, to the Court of some one state which she might select for her residence; and that her name should be restored to the liturgy, or something conceded by way of equivalent, the nature of which, however, was not specified by her negotiators. It was answered that, on the subject of the liturgy, there could be no change of what had been resolved; that, with respect to her residence in any foreign state, the king, although he could not properly require of any foreign Power to receive at its Court any person not received at the Court of England, would, however, cause official notification to be made of her legal character as queen; and that a king's yacht, or a ship of war, should be provided to convey her to the port she might select. These conditions were wholly declined by the queen, and on the 19th of June the negotiations were broken off. On the 22nd two resolutions were passed by the House of Commons, declaring their opinion that, when such large advances had been made toward an adjustment, her Majesty, by yielding to the wishes of the House, and forbearing to press further the propositions on which a material difference yet remained, would not be understood as shrinking from inquiry, but only as proving her desire to acquiesce in the authority of Parliament.
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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.Mother has sold her bed;On the 21st of October the British fleet sailed from Copenhagen Roads; at Helsingfors the fleet was saluted by the King of Sweden, who invited the admirals to breakfast; and, by the end of the month, was anchored in Yarmouth Roads safely, with all its captives. Fresh offers of alliance with Denmark were made before leaving, accompanied with promises of restoration, but were indignantly refused by the Crown Prince; and no sooner were the British gone, than the Danes converted their trading-vessels into armed ones, and commenced a raid amongst the British merchants, now in the Baltic, for the protection of which some men-of-war ought to have been left. The Crown Prince, now thrown completely into the arms of the French, made a declaration of war against Britain, and the British Government issued an order for reprisals on the ships, colonies, and property of the Danes. They also seized on the island of Heligoland, a mere desolate rock, but, lying at the mouth of the Elbe, and only twenty-five miles from the mouths of the Weser and the Eider, it was of the greatest importance, during the war, as a safe rendezvous for our men-of-war, and as a dep?t for our merchandise, ready to slip into any of the neighbouring rivers, and thus, by smugglers, to be circulated all over the Continent, in spite of Buonaparte's embargo. It served also to remind the people of those regions, that, though Buonaparte ruled paramount on land, there was a power on the sea that yet set him and all his endeavours at defiance.
It must be confessed that it was impossible to keep peace with a nation determined to make war on the whole world. Perhaps on no occasion had the pride of the British people and their feelings of resentment been so daringly provoked. War was proclaimed against Britain, and it was necessary that she should put herself in a position to protect her own interests. The country was, moreover, bound to defend Holland if assaulted. But though bound by treaty to defend Holland, Great Britain was not bound to enter into the defence of all and every one of the Continental nations; and had she maintained this just line of action, her share in the universal war which ensued would have been comparatively insignificant. Prussia, Russia, and Austria had destroyed every moral claim of co-operation by their lawless seizure of Poland, and the peoples of the Continent were populous enough to defend their own territories, if they were worthy of independence. There could be no just claim on Britain, with her twenty millions of inhabitants, to defend countries which possessed a still greater number of inhabitants, especially as they had never been found ready to assist us, but on the contrary. But Britain, unfortunately, at that time, was too easily inflamed with a war spirit. The people as well as the Government were incensed at the disorganising and aggressive spirit of France, and were soon drawn in, with their Quixotism of fighting for everybody or anybody, to league with the Continental despots for the purpose not merely of repelling French invasions, but of forcing on the French a dynasty that they had rejected.The conduct of the young king, considering his shyness and the defects of his education, was, during the first days of his sudden elevation, calm, courteous, affable, and unembarrassed. "He behaved throughout," says Horace Walpole, "with the greatest propriety, dignity, and decency." He dismissed his Guards to attend on the body of his grandfather. But it was soon seen that there would be great changes in his Government. Pitt waited on him with the sketch of an address to his Council; but the king informed him that this had been thought of, and an address already prepared. This was sufficient for Pitt; he had long been satisfied that the favourite of mother and son, the Groom of the Stole, and the inseparable companion, Bute, would, on the accession of George, mount into the premiership.
THE CATHEDRAL OF MILAN."I have adopted all such precautions as it was in my power to adopt for the purpose of alleviating the sufferings which may be caused by this calamity; and I shall confidently rely on your co-operation in devising such other means for effecting the same benevolent purpose as may require the sanction of the Legislature."
On the 29th of November Flood moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the more equal representation of the people. This was the scheme of the Volunteer Parliament, and all the delegates to the Convention who were members of the House, or had procured admittance as spectators, appeared in uniform. The tempest that arose is described as something terrific. The orders of the House, the rules of debate, the very rules of ordinary conduct amongst gentlemen, were utterly disregarded. The fury on both sides was uncontrollable. The motion was indignantly rejected by one hundred and fifty-seven votes against seventy-seven; and the House immediately voted a cordial Address to his Majesty, declaring their perfect satisfaction with the blessings enjoyed under his auspicious reign, and the present happy Constitution, and their determination to support him with their lives and fortunes. On the 13th of March Mr. Flood introduced his Bill once more, for equalising the representation of the people in Parliament. It proposed to abolish the right of boroughs altogether to send members, and to place the franchise in the people at large. Sir John Fitzgibbon, the Attorney-General, stoutly opposed it; Grattan dissented from it, and it was thrown out on the motion to commit it.CHAPTER XVIII. The Reign of Victoria (continued).
HEROISM OF THE MAID OF SARAGOSSA. (See p. 556.)The war in Afghanistan was alluded to in the Royal Speech, at the opening of the Session of 1843, in terms of congratulation at the complete success that had attended the recent military operations in that country, owing to the high ability with which they had been directed, as well as the constancy and valour of the European and native forces, which had established, by decisive victories on the scenes of former disasters, the superiority of her Majesty's arms, and had effected the liberation of the British subjects that had been held in captivity. This, therefore, is the proper time to relate briefly the incidents of that war, some of which are full of romantic interest. About the year 1837 the attention of the British Government in India was attracted by the conduct of certain supposed agents of Russia, in the countries to the west of the Indus. The Russian ambassador, Simonitch, was urging the Shah to lay siege to Herat, "the key to India," and the place was soon closely invested. It was saved by the fortuitous presence in the town of a gallant young officer of engineers, Eldred Pottinger, who rallied the inhabitants and beat off the enemy. Meanwhile, another Russian agent, Vicovitch by name, had been sent to Cabul. In order to counteract his designs, it was thought desirable to establish an alliance with the rulers of Afghanistan. With this view overtures were made to Dost Mahomed Khan through a mission headed by Alexander Burnes. These having failed, chiefly from the ill-advised interference with Burnes of the Governor-General, Lord Auckland, the British Government sought to establish a friendly power in Afghanistan by aiding the exiled prince, Shah Sujah, in another attempt to regain his throne. The step, which was condemned by numerous clear-sighted people in India, was probably forced upon Lord Auckland by the Melbourne Ministry, to whom it was recommended by the military authorities at home, among them the Duke of Wellington. The chief of Cabul had an army of 14,000 men, including 6,000 cavalry, with 40 field-pieces. His brothers held Candahar and the surrounding country, with a military force of 4,000 men and 50 guns. The British force assembled to support the claims of his opponent amounted to 28,000 men, aided by a contingent force of 6,000 Sikhs, furnished by the ruler of the Panjab, and about 5,000 troops raised by the Shah's eldest son. This combined force was called "the Army of the Indus." Under the chief command of Sir John Keane, it advanced to the town of Quetta, and thence to Candahar, which was occupied without opposition; and there, on the 8th of May, 1839, Shah Sujah was solemnly enthroned. After this the march was resumed towards Cabul. The fortress of Ghuznee, believed by the Afghans to be impregnable, was blown up and taken by storm. The invading army reached Cabul, and on the 7th of August the restored sovereign made his public entry into his capital. Having thus accomplished its mission, the Army of the Indus returned home, leaving behind a detachment of 8,000 men. For two years Shah Sujah and his allies remained in possession of Cabul and Candahar, Dost Mahomed having surrendered after having won a partial success over the British on the 2nd of November, 1840.详情
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