Thus it happened that the King of Prussia, with hands full of aggression, did not appear on the Rhine to chastise the aggressions of France, before the month of April. He brought with him about fifty thousand men, Prussians, Saxons, Hessians, and Bavarians. He was joined by fifteen or twenty thousand Austrians, under Wurmser, and five or six thousand French Emigrants under the Prince of Condé. But the French had on the Rhine one hundred and forty thousand men at least, of whom twenty thousand were within the walls of Mayence. The Prussians laid siege to that city, and the Austrians and British to Valenciennes. On the 21st of July the French engaged to give up Mayence on condition that they should be allowed to march out with the honours of war, and this the King of Prussia was weak enough to comply with. They must, of necessity, have soon surrendered at discretion; now they were at liberty to join the rest of the army and again resist the Allies. Valenciennes did not surrender until the 28th of July, and not till after a severe bombardment by the Duke of York. Thus three months of the summer had been wasted before these two towns, during which time the French had been employed in drawing forces from all quarters to the frontiers of Belgium, under the guidance of Carnot. The Duke of York was recalled from Valenciennes to Menin, to rescue the hereditary Prince of Orange from an overwhelming French force, against which his half-Jacobinised troops showed no disposition to act. Having effected his deliverance, the Duke of York marched on Dunkirk, and began, towards the end of August, to invest it; but he was left unsupported by the Prince of Orange, and being equally neglected by the Austrians, he was compelled to raise the siege on the 7th of September, and retreated with the loss of his artillery. The Prince of Orange was himself not long unassailed. Houchard drove him from Menin, and took Quesnoy from him, but was, in his turn, routed by the Austrian general Beaulieu, and chased to the very walls of Lille. According to the recent decree of the Convention, that any general surrendering a town or post should be put to death, Houchard was recalled to be guillotined. There continued a desultory sort of warfare on the Belgian frontiers for the remainder of the campaign. On the 15th and 16th of October Jourdain drove the Duke of Coburg from the neighbourhood of Maubeuge across the Sambre, but the Duke of York coming up with fresh British forces, which had arrived at Ostend under Sir Charles Grey, the French were repulsed, and the Netherland frontiers maintained by the Allies for the rest of the year.The End
FROM THE PAINTING BY VEREKER M HAMILTON, R.E.The congress had opened at Aix-la-Chapelle early in the spring, but it did not begin its sittings till the 11th of March, 1748, Sandwich being sent thither as our Plenipotentiary. The campaign, however, opened simultaneously, and, could Cumberland and the king have managed it, war would soon have overturned the hopes of peace; but circumstances were too much for them. The Prince of Nassau, ambitious as he was of military renown, failed to bring into the field his Dutch levies; the thirty thousand Prussians, as Pelham had expected, did not appear. The Dutch, so far from furnishing the sums they had engaged for, sent to London to raise the loan of a million sterling; but London itself had ceased to be a money-lending place. The war had drained the resources even of the British capital. To complete the deadlock, Marshal Saxe advanced into the field, and showed to the world that, though Cumberland might beat an army of famine-exhausted Highlanders, he was no match for him. He completely out-generalled him, made false demonstrations against Breda, where the Allied army lay, and then suddenly concentrated his forces before Maestricht, which, it was evident, must soon fall into his hands. Maestricht secured, the highway into Holland was open.
The Queen did not disturb the Administration which she found in office. The Premier, Lord Melbourne, who was now fifty-eight years old, had had much experience of public life. He had been Chief Secretary for Ireland, Home Secretary, and Prime Minister, to which position he had been called the second time, after the failure of Sir Robert Peel's Administration in the spring of 1835. The young Queen seems to have looked to his counsel with a sort of filial deference; and from the time of her accession to the close of his career he devoted himself to the important task of instructing and guiding his royal mistress in the discharge of her various official duties—a task of great delicacy, which he performed with so much ability and success as not only to win her gratitude, but to secure also the approbation of the country, and to disarm the hostility of political opponents. No royal pupil, it may be safely said, ever did more credit to a mentor than did Queen Victoria. For the time being, Lord Melbourne took up his residence at Windsor, and acted as the Queen's Secretary.
The result of the Duke's deliberations upon the crisis and the duty of Government respecting it was stated at length in an unpublished manuscript, left in his own handwriting, and is probably a copy of the memorandum sent to the king. The following is the substance of the Duke's reflections as given in Mr. Gleig's "Life of Wellington":—Very strong hopes were entertained by the Liberal party from the Administration of Lord Wellesley, but it was his misfortune to be obliged to commence it with coercive measures, always the ready resource of the Irish Government. The new Viceroy would have removed, if possible, the causes of public disturbance; but, in the meantime, the peace must be preserved and sanguinary outrages must be repressed, and he did not shrink from the discharge of his duty in this respect on account of the popular odium which it was sure to bring upon his Government. Mr. Plunket, as Attorney-General, was as firm in the administration of justice as Mr. Saurin, his high Tory predecessor, could be. The measures of repression adopted by the legislature were certainly not wanting in severity. The disorders were agrarian, arising out of insecurity of land tenure, rack rents, and tithes levied by proctors upon tillage, and falling chiefly upon the Roman Catholic population, who disowned the ministrations of the Established Church. The remedies which the Government provided for disturbances thus originating were the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act and the renewal of the Insurrection Act. By the provisions of the latter the Lord-Lieutenant was empowered, on the representation of justices in session that a district was disturbed, to proclaim it in a state of insurrection, to interdict the inhabitants from leaving their homes between sunset and sunrise, and to subject them to visits by night, to ascertain their presence in their own dwellings. If absent, they were considered idle and disorderly, and liable to transportation for seven years! These measures encountered considerable opposition, but they were rapidly passed through both Houses, and received the Royal Assent a week after Parliament met. Under these Acts a number of Whiteboys and other offenders were tried and convicted, several hanged, and many transported. Lord Wellesley must have felt his position very disagreeable between the two excited parties. To be impartial and just was to incur the hostility of both. Possibly he became disgusted with the factions that surrounded him. Whether from this cause, or from an indolent temper, or from the feeling that he was hampered and restrained, and could not do for the country what he felt that its well-being required, or from ill health, it is certain that he became very inactive. A member of the Cabinet writes about him thus:—"I find the Orange party are loud in their abuse of Lord Wellesley, for shutting himself up at the Ph?nix Park, lying in bed all day, seeing nobody, and only communicating with Secretary Gregory by letter. Indeed, I believe that the latter is more than he often favours Secretaries Peel and Goulburn with." In another letter, the same Minister, Mr. Wynn, complains of his total neglect of his correspondence with England. This, he said, was inexcusable, because those on whom the chief responsibility rested had a right to know his views upon the state of Ireland, in order to be able to meet the Opposition during the sitting of Parliament. This was written towards the end of April, and at that time the Government had not for a month heard a syllable from him on the agitated questions of tithes, magistracy, and police. The state of Ireland, indeed, became every day more perplexing and alarming. A revolutionary spirit was abroad, and all other social evils were aggravated by famine, which prevailed in extensive districts in the south and west. The potato crop, always precarious, was then almost a total failure in many counties, and left the dense population, whose existence depended upon it, totally destitute. The cry of distress reached England, and was responded to in the most generous spirit. Half a million sterling was voted by Parliament, and placed at the disposal of Lord Wellesley, to be dispensed in charitable relief and expended on public works for the employment of the poor. In addition to this, the English people contributed from their private resources the sum of three hundred thousand pounds for the relief of Irish distress. On the 30th of May there was a ball given for the same object, in the King's Theatre, London, which produced three thousand five hundred pounds.
In the south great successes had been won by the French. A formidable attack was made on the territories of the King of Sardinia and the position of Saorgio was turned. But another division of these French descended from the Alps. It was the month of May when General Dumas, with the army of the Alps, had forced his way through the defiles of Mont Cenis. The Piedmontese garrisons of the forts there had fled without much resistance, astonished and confounded at seeing the French appear on the loftiest heights around them. The French pursued their retreating troops as far as Susa, led on by Jacobinised Savoyards, who hated the Piedmontese. But Dumas, finding that strong forces of Piedmontese and Austrians, under the King of Sardinia and the Austrian General Wallis, were drawn up at the foot of the Alps, did not venture to descend into the plains. Another body of the army of Italy was delayed some time in the Genoese territory, whilst Buonaparte was employed in sounding the condition and intentions of the people of Genoa. All the Alpine passes were in their hands, and Italy was doomed to drink the cup of misery to the very dregs.NELSON AT THE BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN. (See p. 481.)
Reproduced by André & Sleigh, Ltd., Bushey, Herts.
Notwithstanding the constant wars of this time, British shipping, commerce, colonies, and manufactures made considerable progress. At the commencement of this period the amount of shipping employed in our commerce was altogether 244,788 tons, being 144,264 tons English, and 100,524 foreign; in 1701 the amount of shipping employed was 337,328 tons, of which alone 293,703 were English. In 1702, the end of William's reign, the number of English mercantile vessels was about 3,281, employing 27,196 seamen. The royal navy, at the end of William's reign, amounted to about 159,000 tons, employing some 50,000 sailors, so that the seamen of England must have amounted at that period to nearly 80,000.But the matters most important, and in which the Rockingham Ministry succeeded the best, were those of attempting to accomplish the peace with America, and with the Continental nations, on which they had so long and so loudly insisted. Fox first tried his diplomatic genius with the Dutch, whom he could, as he boasted, soon conciliate; but, to his infinite chagrin, that calculating people were so elated by the recent ill success of the English, and relied so completely on the powerful fleets of France and Spain to protect their trade and islands, that they returned a contemptuous answer, declaring that they could not treat without their allies. Still more mortifying was his repulse by the Americans. His offers of negotiations for peace were received with a haughty indifference by Congress, and he was again referred to France. Fox now had recourse to the mediations of Russia and Prussia. But Frederick the Great declined to intervene, and the Czarina Catherine coupled her offers of alliance with conditions which the king and the majority of the Cabinet refused to accept, though Fox thought they were reasonable.
It was not long before the Third Estate was discovered to be in hopeless antagonism with the Court and privileged Orders, and they resolved to act separately. They must act for themselves and for the people at large, or, by further delays, lose all the advantages of the moment. They resolved to assume the character of the representatives of the entire nation. Siéyès declared that the Commons had waited on the other Orders long enough. They had given in to all the conciliations proposed; their condescensions had been unavailing; they could delay no longer, without abandoning their duty to the country. A great debate arose regarding the name that the body of deputies which resolved to become the real legislative power should choose. Mirabeau proposed, the "Representatives of the People;" Mounier, "The Deliberative Majority in the absence of the Minority;" and Legrand, "The National Assembly." The proposal of Mounier was soon disposed of; but there was a strong inclination in favour of "The National Assembly," and Mirabeau vehemently opposed it. The name of "National Assembly" had, it is said, been recommended to Lafayette by Jefferson, the American Minister, and as Lafayette had not yet ventured to move before his Order, and join the Tiers état, Legrand, an obscure member, and lately a provincial advocate, was employed to propose it. But Siéyès had, in his famous brochure on the "Rights of Man," long before thrown out these words:—"The Tiers état alone, it will be said, cannot form a States General. So much the better; it will constitute a National Assembly!" On the 15th of June, Siéyès proposed that the title should be "The National Assembly of Representatives, known and verified by the French Nation." Mirabeau indignantly repelled the title in any shape. He declared that such a title, by denying the rights and existence of the other two Orders, would plunge the nation into civil war. Legrand proposed to modify the name by making it "The General Assembly." Siéyès then came back to his original title of simply "The National Assembly," as devoid of all ambiguity, and Mirabeau still more violently opposed it. But it was soon seen that this name carried the opinion of the mob with it; the deputies cried out loudly for it; the galleries joined as loudly in the cries. Mirabeau in a fierce rage read his speech, said to have been written by his friend Dumont, before the president Bailly, and withdrew, using violent language against the people who had hooted him down, declaring that they would soon be compelled to seek his aid. He had protested in his speech that the veto, which some of the deputies wished to refuse to the king, must be given to him; that without the royal veto he would rather live in Constantinople than in France; that he could conceive nothing more dreadful than the sovereignty of six hundred persons; that they would very soon declare themselves hereditary, and would finish, like all other aristocracies that the world had ever seen, by usurping everything. These words, only too prophetic, had brought down upon him a tempest of execration; and writhing under it he had hastened to the Court and had an interview with Necker, warning him of the danger of the crisis, and offering to use his influence in favour of the king's authority. Necker received him coldly, and thus Mirabeau was thrown back on the people. Siéyès's motion was carried by a majority of four hundred and ninety-one against ninety; and the National Assembly was proclaimed amid loud acclamations, mingled with cries of "Vive le Roi!"Besides these leading histories, this reign produced many others of great value. Amongst these appeared, in 1763, a "History of England," by a lady, Catherine Macaulay, from James I. to the accession of the House of Hanover; which was followed by another series, from the Revolution to her own time. Mrs. Macaulay was a thorough-going Republican; had gone to America expressly to see and converse with Washington, and her history presented the very opposite opinions and phase of events to those of Hume. Lord Lyttelton wrote a "History of Henry II.," in by no means a popular style; and the book is now forgotten. In 1776 there was published the first volume of Lord Hailes's valuable "Annals of Scotland," of which Dr. Johnson entertained so high an opinion. Besides these may be named Macpherson's "History of Great Britain from the Restoration;" Stuart's "History of the Reformation in Scotland," and "History of Scotland from the Reformation to the Death of Queen Mary;" Whitaker's "History of Manchester;" Warner's "History of Ireland;" Leland's "History of Ireland;" Grainger's "Biographical History of England;" Ferguson's "History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic;" Watson's "History of Philip II. of Spain;" Orme's "History of the British Nation in Hindostan;" Anderson's "Annals of Commerce." In 1784 Mitford published his "History of Ancient Greece," and two years later Gillies published another "History of Greece." In 1789 Pinkerton published a "History of the House of Stuart down to Queen Mary." In 1790 Boswell published his "Life of Johnson," the most interesting biography ever written; in 1796 Roscoe his "Life of Lorenzo de' Medici," and, in 1805, the "Life and Pontificate of Leo X."
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