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Had the sovereigns of Europe been in earnest in behalf of the King of France, and had they at once marched into the country, they could scarcely have failed to make themselves masters of Paris; though they might have precipitated the deaths of the king and queen. But, in truth, the kings of Europe were in no such chivalrous mood; they were thinking more of their own interests, and actually, some of them, planning the most disgraceful robberies of their neighbours. Spain, seeing no sign of coalition[387] amongst the northern sovereigns, expressed its friendly disposition towards the French Government, and prevented an attempt on its southern provinces, in which the Knights of Malta were to assist with two frigates. The French Emigrants at Brussels and Coblenz were in a state of agitation, declaring that Monsieur, who had now joined them, was the Regent of the kingdom, seeing that the king was a prisoner and had no will of his own. The poor king was compelled by the Assembly to write to them, disavowing these proceedings. As to the Powers in general, Leopold of Austria, who had the most direct interest in the rescue of his sister and her family, was, notwithstanding his recent declarations, desirous rather of peace and by no means pleased with the Emigrants. A declaration of allied sovereigns was, indeed, made at Pillnitz, that Prussia and Austria and Russia would advance to the rescue of Louis XVI.; but the more immediate object of the agreement made there was the dismemberment of Poland, which was determined in secret articles. Any concerted action on the part of the Powers was, in fact, rendered impossible by the action of Pitt, who, true to his policy of neutrality and of holding aloof from any interference in the domestic concerns of France, declined to sanction any appeal to arms.

[See larger version]Sir Walter Scott has, perhaps, left the most permanent traces behind him. We have on many occasions mentioned this illustrious writer; perhaps this is a fitting time to speak more in detail of his career. He was born, in 1771, of a very respectable family, at Edinburgh. He began his career as an author while very young; his earlier publications, though not successful in a pecuniary way, were greatly admired by good judges; and his undoubted talents, as well as his family connections, introduced him to men high in rank, whose influence became valuable to him, and also to the most distinguished literary characters of the time. His appointment as sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire, by securing him a competent income, while its duties demanded but little of his time, enabled him to devote himself to his favourite pursuits; and his resources were further augmented by a small patrimony which he obtained at the death of his father, and by property he received with the lady whom he married. At this period he produced several poems, some of which were of considerable length, and he acquired a large amount of celebrity. "Marmion" appeared in 1808, and "The Lady of the Lake" in 1810. His income from various sources became, after some time, very considerable; and happy would it have been for him had he been content with it. But ambition, of which he had long shown symptoms, became a master passion, and he yielded fatally to its influence. To hasten the acquisition of wealth, as a means of adding to the consequence and importance of his family, which was the dream of his life, he became a partner in a large publishing firm, which afterwards involved him in its ruin, and whose liabilities swallowed up the profits of a most successful career. The demands which it continually made on his resources compelled him to undertake literary drudgery, in addition to his ordinary labours; and the magnitude of the enterprises filled him with continual anxiety. His time was unremittingly occupied: from 1815 to 1825 he vanished, indeed, from public view; yet he was never more thoroughly employed. "Waverley" made its appearance in 1814; but the name of the writer was, for some time, involved in impenetrable mystery. Its success was unexampled, and it was followed by many similar productions. When the hour of Sir Walter Scott's seemingly greatest prosperity had arrived, and his most sanguine expectations[437] appeared to be nearly realised, the crash came. The firm of which he had so long been a secret partner stopped payment; this event, besides entailing upon him immense pecuniary loss, inflicted a deep wound on his feelings by proclaiming to the world his connection with mercantile speculations. His conduct upon this trying occasion was, however, in accordance with his whole life; he refused to avail himself of any legal technicalities for the purpose of diminishing his responsibilities; and he not only gave up to the creditors of the concern with which he was so unfortunately connected all he then possessed, but devoted the energies of the remainder of his life to make up the large deficit that still remained. He afterwards realised the enormous sum of £40,000 by his writings, and shortly after his death his debts were paid in full by his executors. But his exertions had been too much for him; he became ultimately a wreck both in body and mind; every effort to recover health was in vain; the last few months of his life passed with very rare intervals of consciousness; and he expired, it may be said, prematurely, in the sixty-first year of his age. He ranks high as a poet, but far higher as the discoverer of a new world of fiction; in describing which, however numerous those who attempt to follow the course which he pursued, he is little likely ever to have a successful rival. He died in 1832, and so belongs more properly to the reign of George III.

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Prussia having been introduced into the debate, on the 1st of March it was renewed by Mr. Martin, followed by Francis, Fox, and others, who argued that the secret was thus out; we were fighting again on account of the old mischief—German alliances. Pitt defended the policy of Ministers. He asked whether Russia was to be permitted to drive the Turks from Europe and plant herself in Constantinople, with Greece as part of her empire? In that case, Russia would become the first maritime power in the world, for her situation in the heart of the Mediterranean, and with Greeks for her sailors—the best sailors in that sea—would give her unrivalled advantages, and make her the most destructive opponent of British interests that had ever arisen. Pitt drew a dark character of the Czarina—the Messalina of the North; reminded the House of her endeavours to strike a mortal blow at us during the American war; of her arrogance and insolence on many occasions, and said that he did not envy Fox the honour of having his bust ordered by this notorious woman from Nollekens, the sculptor. Fox well deserved this hard blow, for he had shown a strange blindness to the grasping designs of Russia, and confessed that, whilst in office, he had refused to concur in remonstrances to Russia against the seizure of the Crimea. The motion of Whitbread was rejected by a majority of two hundred and forty-four against one hundred and sixteen.


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JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER. (After the Portrait by C. Turner.)

But this little episode of the war presented one bright spot amid the vast picture of miserable mismanagement, want of concert and of activity, amongst the Allies engaged against France. The campaign of 1794 was most disgraceful and discouraging. The plan still was for the different armies of the Allies to advance from the different frontiers, north, west, east, and south, and concentrate themselves on Paris; but all the activity and concentration were on the side of the French. In the very commencement of it, it was observed that Prussia was not bringing by any means the stipulated amount of forces into the field. The king, thinking much more of securing his Polish robberies than of co-operating against France, remained in Poland, and was even discovered to be secretly negotiating with the French Convention for peace. Britain was alarmed at this symptom of Prussian defection and made strong remonstrances. Frederick William coolly replied that it was impossible for him to go on without a large sum of money. The hint of Prussia was not lost; money was promised, and in April of this year a subsidy of two millions two hundred thousand pounds was paid to Prussia to secure her more active operation, and on condition that she brought into the field sixty thousand men. The bulk of this money was paid by Britain, a small fraction by Holland; and what was the result? The King of Prussia sent very few troops into the field, but employed the money in paying and[433] maintaining armies to keep down the invaded provinces of Poland, and to invade more! Thus Britain was duped into the disgraceful business of riveting the fetters of unhappy Poland; and it would have been well had this taught the British Government wisdom. But it was now intent on that astonishing career of subsidising almost all the nations of Europe against France; of purchasing useless German soldiers at astounding prices; of pouring out the wealth and blood of Britain like water to enable the Germans and Russians to defend their own hearths and homes, and in vain. The results of this subsidy ought to have satisfied Britain, and would have satisfied any other nation; for it did not long retain Prussia as an ally, even in name.



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