Another successful expedition this year was one against the Cape of Good Hope. This settlement, so desirable for Britain, with her Indian possessions, had been yielded up by the Addington Administration, at the Peace of Amiens, most imprudently. A body of five thousand men was dispatched for its recovery, under Sir David Baird, in a fleet commanded by Sir Home Popham. They arrived in January, and the Dutch soldiers fled at the first attack. Retiring into the interior, General Beresford was dispatched after them, whereupon they surrendered, on condition that they should be sent to Holland without being deemed prisoners of war.In England the Ministry was thrown into the utmost chaos and discord by the disastrous progress of the war on the Continent, and especially by the miserable result of the Walcheren expedition. One member of the Cabinet endeavoured to throw the blame on another, and the feud between Canning, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Lord Castlereagh, the Minister at War, grew deadly. Each accused the other of interfering and thwarting action, and so producing the lamentable consequences that ensued. A hot correspondence followed, in which Castlereagh charged Canning with privately insinuating to the other Ministers that Castlereagh should be dismissed, and Canning denied it. Between them, Lord Camden came into difficulty; for, though Canning had told Lord Camden, as Lord Castlereagh's relative, that one or other of them must resign, he declared that he did not mean this communication as secret, but as one that he expected Lord Camden would communicate to Lord Castlereagh. Castlereagh resigned, and then challenged Canning. Canning also resigned; and the duel was fought on the 22nd of September, on Putney Heath, and Canning was wounded. The Duke of Portland, who was near his end—hastened probably by these agitations and embarrassments—also resigned, and died a few days afterwards.
"But perhaps it might be possible to get a Bill passed to disfranchise the Irish forty-shilling freeholders—a class of voters who, as they had been created for acknowledged purposes of corruption in the Irish Parliament, would have nobody to stand up for them in high places, now that they refused to play their patrons' game. This was quite as improbable an issue as the other. The disfranchisement of forty-shilling freeholders had, indeed, been talked of in former years; but, if effected at all, it was to be in connection with a measure of Catholic Emancipation. To propose it now for the avowed purpose of rendering Catholic Emancipation impossible would be to insure the rejection of the Bill. That plan, therefore, fell at once to the ground; and there remained but two others.SIR THOMAS PICTON.Parliament, which had been prorogued for a few days on account of the demise of the king, assembled on the 18th of November. The king delivered a speech, composed by Lord Hardwicke, and revised by Pitt, and containing a passage, said to be inserted by himself, as follows:—"Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton!" In the addresses these words produced the most enthusiastic responses. "What a lustre," exclaimed the Lords, "doth it cast upon the name of Briton, when you, sir, are pleased to esteem it amongst your glories!" For the rest, the speech expressed the royal determination to prosecute the war with all vigour; praised the magnanimity and perseverance of his good brother, the King of Prussia; and recommended unanimity of action and opinion in Parliament. Nothing could appear more unanimous or more liberal than Parliament.
At the very moment that these negotiations on the part of Britain were going on, Buonaparte, who had been appointed to the command of the army of Italy, was achieving there victory after victory. Genoa had shut her ports against our ships, Naples had concluded peace with France, Spain had been induced to proclaim war against us, and Hoche had sailed for Ireland with twenty-five thousand troops. On the 19th of December Lord Malmesbury received a message to quit Paris within forty-eight hours, with the additional assurance, that whenever Great Britain was prepared to accept the terms of France, an ordinary courier would answer the same purpose as well as a lord. The blame of continuing the war thus lay entirely with the French.A new Ministry was appointed with Prince Schwarzenberg at its head, and on the 2nd of December the Emperor Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his nephew, Francis Joseph, whose father Francis Charles, next in succession, renounced his claim to the throne. The retiring emperor stated that the pressure of events, and the immediate want of a comprehensive reformation in the forms of State, convinced him that more youthful powers were necessary to complete the grand work which he had commenced. The real reason was that Lord Palmerston, who in his private correspondence held the Emperor to be "next thing to an idiot," had been constantly advising him to resign his sceptre into firmer hands. The young Emperor, in his proclamation, expressed his conviction of the value of free institutions, and said that he entered with confidence on the path of a prosperous reformation of the monarchy.
The third topic discussed at these conferences was the nature of the relations then subsisting between France and Spain, and the projects of the former power in reference to the latter. These were explained by the Minister without any reserve, and with no symptoms of apprehension that they would be disagreeable to Britain, or of anxiety as to the result, whether they were so or not. He frankly avowed that, under cover of the sanitary cordon, 100,000 French troops were assembled; that it was proposed to throw them in two columns into Spain; that one column, of 40,000 men, was to pass into Catalonia, while the other, of 60,000, was to march by the great road through Irun upon Madrid. He stated that the sole object of this invasion was to insure the personal safety of the king, to afford him the opportunity to collect a native force strong enough to enable him to protect himself against the schemes of the Revolutionists—that is, to put down the Constitution. Of course, France said she entertained no views of conquest or aggrandisement, or even of prolonged occupation. She would withdraw her troops whenever the King of Spain said he could do without them, and yield up every inch of territory. In reference to this matter the Duke of Wellington wrote home for instructions, and in reply Canning said:—"If there be a determined project to interfere by force or by menace in the present struggle in Spain, so convinced are his Majesty's Government of the uselessness and danger of any such interference—so objectionable does it appear to them in principle, as well as utterly impracticable in execution—that when the necessity arises—or, I would rather say, when the opportunity offers—I am to instruct your grace at once frankly and peremptorily to declare that to any such interference, come what may, his Majesty will not be a party." To say that England peremptorily declined "to be a party" to the invasion of an independent state, in order to force upon the people a government contrary to their will, was not saying very much, nor putting the objection very strongly. We are assured, however, that the Duke steadily set his face against the project, pointing out that the step would be not only unjust, but impolitic; that it would precipitate the catastrophe which the French Government feared; that the Revolutionists would probably remove Ferdinand from Madrid as soon as they heard of the passing of the frontier by the French troops, and that, even if these troops should reach the capital, the Spaniards would not therefore submit, nor would the king be set at liberty. He argued that a war between France and Spain for such a purpose would be pronounced a war to put down free institutions, and that if France sought the support of her allies, the only one amongst them that had free institutions would feel it her duty to meet such a request with a refusal. Europe would be ranged into two hostile camps, that of absolutism on the one side and of revolution on the other; amid which not thrones only, but settled governments in every form, might be overthrown. In reply to these arguments, both the king and his Minister stated that whatever France might do in the matter she would do single-handed, and that she would not only not apply for assistance from without, but that, if such assistance were offered, she would refuse it. The Duke could not, however, prevail upon the French Government to refrain from bringing the question between France and Spain before the Congress. The king and his Minister both contended that vast moral good would accrue from a joint remonstrance on the part of the Allies against the treatment to which the King of Spain was subjected, and a joint threat that if any violence were offered to his person or family all would unite to avenge the outrage.
During the Republic of France, and in the worst times of Robespierre, the French had their Minister, M. Genet, in the United States, who excited the democrats to acts of hostility against Great Britain, and gave them French authority to seize and make prizes of British vessels at sea, though they were nominally at peace with England. And though Washington, then President, protested against these proceedings, the main body of the people were against him, and were supported in that spirit by Jefferson, who was Secretary of State. When Jefferson became President, in 1801, and Madison his Secretary of State, the hatred to Great Britain was carried to its extreme, and the friendship of Buonaparte was cultivated with the utmost zeal. When Jefferson was a second time President, in 1807, he violently resisted our right of search of neutral vessels, thus playing into the hands of Buonaparte and his Berlin Decree, in the hope of carrying on a large trade with the European Continent at our expense. Out of this arose the affair of the Leopard and the Chesapeake off the capes of Virginia, in which the Chesapeake, refusing to allow a search for British deserters, was attacked and taken. This put the whole of the democracy of America into a raging fury, though the boarding of the United States war-sloop, the Hornet, in the French port of L'Orient, for the same purpose, was passed over without a murmur. To prevent such collisions, Canning, on the part of the British Government, issued orders that search of war-ships should be discontinued. This, however, did not prevent Jefferson from making proclamations prohibiting British men-of-war from entering or remaining in American ports; and the utmost indignities were offered to all the officers and crews of our men-of-war who happened to be lying in American harbours. Moreover, Jefferson issued, in December, 1807, an embargo against all American vessels quitting their own ports, because if at sea they did not submit to be searched to ascertain whether they were carrying goods to French ports, they were treated as hostile by Great Britain, were attacked and seized. This was in retaliation of Buonaparte's Berlin Decree, and made necessary by it. On the other hand, Buonaparte seized any American or other vessel entering into any port of Europe under the power of France, which had submitted to search. To prevent this certain seizure of trading vessels, the embargo was issued, and all merchant vessels of all nations were prohibited from entering American ports. A more suicidal act than this could not be conceived, and the people of the United States soon complained loudly of the consequences. In 1809, Madison succeeding Jefferson in the Presidency, and Buonaparte having now rendered matters worse by his Milan Decree, besides his Berlin one, Madison abolished the general embargo with all nations except France and Great Britain, and declared this, too, at an end, whenever either or both of these nations withdrew—the one its Decrees and the other its Orders in Council. But in 1810 Madison declared that France had withdrawn its Decrees so far as America was concerned; though this was notoriously untrue. Numbers of American vessels continued to be seized in French ports, though the United States Government dared not complain, nor did they ever recover any compensation from Napoleon; it was from Louis Philippe that they first obtained such compensation, and, curiously enough, through the friendly intervention of Great Britain.
Such was Massena's situation, so early as the commencement of November—having to maintain his army in a country reduced to a foodless desert by the art of his masterly antagonist, and, instead of being able to drive the British before him, finding them menacing him on all sides, so that he dispatched General Foy to make his way with a strong escort to Ciudad Rodrigo, and thence to proceed with all speed to Paris, to explain to the Emperor the real state of affairs. The state was that the whole of Portugal, except the very ground on which Massena was encamped, was in possession of the British and the Portuguese. There was no possibility of approaching Lisbon without forcing these lines at Torres Vedras, and that, if done at all, must be at the cost of as large an army as he possessed altogether. All the rest of Portugal—Oporto, Coimbra, Abrantes—and all the forts except Almeida were in the hands of the enemy. As to the destitution of Massena's army, we have the description from his own statements in letters to Napoleon, which were intercepted. From this information, Lord Wellington wrote in his dispatches: "It is impossible to describe the pecuniary and other distresses of the French army in the Peninsula. All the troops are months in arrears of pay; they are, in general, very badly clothed; they want horses, carriages, and equipments of every description; their troops subsist solely upon plunder; they receive no money, or scarcely any, from France, and they realise but little from their pecuniary contributions from Spain. Indeed, I have lately discovered that the expense of the pay and the hospitals alone of the French army in the Peninsula amounts to more than the sum stated in the financial exposé as the whole expense of the entire French army."
It was in these circumstances that Sir James Graham, on the 7th of April, brought forward a series of resolutions on our relations with China, and the Government escaped defeat by a narrow majority of ten. A vote of censure would inevitably have been passed, had not the Duke of Wellington expressed his cordial approval of the Ministerial policy. His followers were furious. "I know it," said the Duke to Charles Greville, "and I do not care one damn. I have no time to do what is not right."
On the 14th of January, 1766, the king opened Parliament with a speech, rendered necessary by the change of Ministry and the affairs of America. A great debate followed, in which Burke made his maiden speech, and was followed by Pitt, who said in his loftiest tone of eloquence: "This kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies. On this point I could not be silent, nor repress the ardour of my soul, smote as it is with indignation at the very thought of taxing America internally without a requisite voice of consent. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power. Taxes are the voluntary gift and grant of the Commons alone. At the same time, on every real point of legislation, I believe the authority to be fixed as the pole-star—fixed for the reciprocal benefit of the mother country and her infant colonies. They are the subjects of this kingdom, equally entitled with yourselves to all the rights of mankind and the peculiar privileges of Englishmen, and equally bound by its laws. The Americans are the sons, not the bastards of England. The distinction between legislation and taxation is essential to liberty. The Crown, the Peers, are equally legislative powers with the Commons. If taxation be a part of simple legislation, the Crown, the Peers, have rights in taxation as well as yourselves—rights which they will claim whenever the principle can be supported by might."
Lord Wellington had been duly informed of the progress of these man?uvres, and they had given him great anxiety; nor were these the only causes of anxiety which affected him. The British Ministry were so much absorbed with the business of supporting the Allies in their triumphant march after Buonaparte, that they seemed to think the necessity of Lord Wellington's exertions at an end. At the close of 1813 they recalled Sir Thomas Graham and some of his best battalions to send them into Holland. They appeared to contemplate still further reductions of the Peninsular army, and Lord Wellington was obliged to address them in very plain terms to impress them with the vital necessity of maintaining the force in this quarter unweakened. He reminded them that thirty thousand British troops had kept two hundred thousand of Buonaparte's best troops engaged in Spain for five years; that without this assistance Spain and Portugal would have long ago been completely thrown under the feet of the invader, and the Allies of the North would have had to contend against the undivided armies and exertions of Napoleon; that to render his own army inefficient would be at once to release one hundred thousand veterans such as the Allied armies had not had to deal with. This had the proper effect; and as soon as Wellington had obtained the necessary supplies, he resumed his operations to drive Soult from under the walls of Bayonne.
The Swedes cursed the less than half assistance of their British allies, and Gustavus endeavoured to fight his way without them. He continued to win victory after victory on land; but Catherine soon brought down on his squadron of galleys, which attended his march along the coast to keep up his supplies, an overwhelming fleet of galleys of her own. A desperate battle ensued, but the Swedish galley-fleet was at length overcome. Gustavus was thus greatly embarrassed, and compelled to stand merely on the defensive, till it was time to go into winter quarters. He continued for twelve months to do battle with Russia, and, though with insufficient forces, threatened the very capital of that country. A little support from Britain, Prussia, and Holland, would have enabled Sweden to regain its territories on the eastern shores of the Baltic, to curb the power of Russia, and to assume that station in the North which is essential to the peace of Europe. These countries, however, had not the statesmanship to appreciate this point, or the friendly feeling to effect it, and Gustavus was left to struggle on alone.[See larger version]详情
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