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类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-10-20 14:58:22

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The spirit of the country appeared to be running in a strong current for the return of Lord Chatham to the helm, as the only man who could save the sinking state, and bring the American difficulty to a happy issue. But the great obstacle to this was the still continued assertion of Lord Chatham—that the full independence of America could not be for a moment listened to, whilst to almost every other man of the Opposition that independence was already an accomplished fact. Lord Rockingham, who was looked up to as a necessary part of any Cabinet at the head of which Chatham should be placed, had, in the previous Session, asserted his opinion that the time had now passed for hoping to preserve the dependence of these colonies; and, now he saw France coming into the field against us, he was the more confirmed in this view. This was a fatal circumstance in the way of the establishment of a strong co-operative Cabinet, formed out of the present Opposition. But a still greater obstacle was the iron determination of the king. In vain did Lord North express his desire to resign and declare the necessity of conciliatory measures. George reproached him with intending to desert him. On further pressure he gave him leave to apply to Chatham and the Whigs, but only on the absurd condition that[250] they should join the present Ministry, serve under Lord North, and carry on the policy of the existing Government. As usual, Lord North gave way, and consented to stay in office, and to bring in a plan of conciliation opposed to his former declarations.

In return for this favour, Clive obtained one of infinitely more importance. It was the transfer of the sole right of dominion throughout the provinces of Bengal, Orissa, and Bahar. All that vast territory was thus made the legal and valid property of the East India Company. The conveyance was ratified by public deed, which was delivered by the Great Mogul to Clive in presence of his court, the throne on which he was elevated during this most important ceremony being an English dining-table, covered with a showy cloth. And of this prince—who was entirely their own puppet—the British still continued to style themselves the vassals, to strike his coins at their mint, and to bear his titles on their public seal! Clive saw the immense importance of maintaining the aspect of subjects to the highest native authority, and of avoiding alarming the minds of the native forces by an open assumption of proprietorship. By this single treaty, at the same time that he had freed the Company from all dependence on the heirs of Meer Jaffier, he derived the Company's title to those states from the supreme native power in India; and he could boast of having secured to his countrymen an annual revenue of two millions of money. Thus began a system which has played a leading part in our Indian history.

The year 1732 was distinguished by little of importance. The Opposition, led on by Pulteney, attacked the Treaty of Vienna, concluded on March 16th, 1731, by which the Pragmatic Sanction had been approved of, and which, they contended, might lead us into a Continental war some day, or into a breach of the public faith, of which, they asserted, this Ministry had perpetrated too many already. They assailed the standing army, but were answered that there was yet a Pretender, and many men capable of plotting and caballing against the Crown. The King was so incensed at Pulteney for his strictures on the army, that he struck his name out of the list of Privy Councillors, and ordered that all commissions of the peace which he held in different counties should be revoked. Amongst the staunchest supporters of the Government was Lord Hervey, a young man of ability who is now best remembered because, having offended Pope, he was, according to custom, pilloried by the contentious poet, as Sporus in the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Pope nicknamed him Lord Fanny, in derision of his dainty and effeminate manners. Hervey contended that the writers who attacked Government ought to be put down by force, and in his own person he attempted to put this in practice; for Pulteney being suspected by him of having written a scarifying article on him in The Craftsman, he challenged him, and both combatants were wounded. Plumer very justly contended that scribblers ought to be left to other scribblers.And,Had Sir Home Popham been satisfied with this well-executed piece of service, he would have merited honour; but, this being done, he suggested to Sir David Baird that an expedition might be made with advantage against the Spanish colonies in South America. It was reported—not truly, as it turned out—that these colonies were as poorly defended as they were wealthy. Sir David was weak enough to fall into the scheme, and, without any authority from home, as it would appear, for so important a proceeding, he permitted General Beresford to sail in Sir Home's squadron with a part of his forces. The fleet touched at St. Helena, and took in a few more soldiers, but the whole body did not then amount to more than sixteen hundred. With this contemptible handful of men, the British squadron entered the river La Plata, and landed the troops, on the 24th of June, at a short distance from Buenos Ayres. The few Spanish troops in the city were easily routed, and the place capitulated on the 27th, and Beresford entered and took up his quarters there. But he was not long left at peace. The Spaniards discovering, as a matter of course, the insignificance of the force which had thus rashly surprised the city, collected in sufficient numbers to make prisoners of them all. A French officer in the Spanish service, M. Liniers, landed with a thousand men from Monte Video and Sacramento, and, being joined by the troops of the neighbourhood which had been repulsed by Beresford, appeared before the city on the 10th of July, and summoned the British to surrender. This was the signal for the inhabitants to rise en masse and fall on them. They were prevented from escaping to their ships by the badness of the weather, and were assailed from the windows and doors, and exposed to a general attack in the great square, and were compelled to yield, on condition of being allowed to re-embark; but no sooner had they laid down their arms, than Liniers, who probably looked on them as no better than filibusters, treated them as such, and marched them up the country, where they were rigorously treated. Four hundred of them had perished in this mad attempt. Meanwhile, Sir Home Popham had sent home upwards of a million of dollars, reserving two hundred and five thousand for the pay of the army. There were great rejoicings in London at the news, and at the receipt of the specie. Popham, in his despatches, represented himself as having conquered a great colony, and opened up a wonderful mart for our manufactures; and the Ministry, delighted at the receipt of the dollars, though they had, on first hearing of the scheme, sent out orders to stop the squadron, now, on the 20th of September, issued an Order in Council declaring Buenos Ayres and its dependencies open to our trade. Long before this order could have reached America the whole scene was reversed. Sir Home Popham had, indeed, blockaded the river La Plata, and had attempted to bombard Monte Video, but his ships could not get near enough. In October reinforcements arrived from the Cape and from England, but not in sufficient strength to enable him to do anything decisive. He therefore contented himself with landing troops at Maldonado, and drove the Spaniards from the isle of Gorriti, where he lay to, and waited for greater reinforcements.

This was wormwood to the Government; and Wilkes did not leave them many days in quiet. He had declared that, on returning to England, he would surrender himself under his outlawry on the first day of the next term. Accordingly, on the 20th of April, he presented himself to the Court of King's Bench, attended by his counsel, Mr. Glynn, and avowed himself ready to surrender to the laws. Lord Mansfield declared that he was not there by any legal process, and that the court could not take notice of him; but in a few days he was taken on another writ, and on the 8th of June he was again brought before Lord Mansfield, who declared the outlawry void through a flaw in the indictment; but the original verdict against him was confirmed, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty-two calender months, and two fines of five hundred pounds each—one for the North Briton, and the other for the "Essay on Woman."The tidings of this disaster roused the people of England to a pitch of desperation. The Ministers were condemned for their gross neglect and imbecile procrastination, and Byng was execrated as a coward and a traitor. Meanwhile, the most culpable man of all, Newcastle, was trembling with terror, and endeavouring to find a scapegoat somewhere. Fox was equally trembling, lest Newcastle should make that scapegoat of him. He declared to Dodington that he had urged Newcastle to send succour to Minorca as early as Christmas, and that Cumberland had joined him in urging this, to no purpose. He asserted that Newcastle ought to answer for it. "Yes," replied Dodington, "unless he can find some one to make a scapegoat of." This was the very fear that was haunting Fox, and he hastened, in October, to the king, and resigned the seals. This was a severe blow to Newcastle, and he immediately thought of Murray to succeed him; but, unfortunately, Sir Dudley Ryder, the Lord Chief Justice, just then having died, Murray had fixed his ambition on occupying his seat on the bench. They were obliged to give it to him, with the title[123] of Mansfield, or make a mortal enemy of him. Newcastle then thought of conciliating Pitt. Pitt refused to belong to any Ministry at all in which Newcastle remained. Newcastle, in his perplexity, next tried Lord Egmont, and even old Granville, but both declined the honour; and not a man being to be found who would serve under him, he was compelled most reluctantly to resign. He had certainly presided over the destinies of the nation far too long.

Sir George Prevost now put himself at the head of the brave troops that had so lately advanced from conquest to conquest under Wellington. He had eleven thousand of these brave fellows, including a fine regiment of cavalry, and a numerous train of artillery. With such an army, an able general would not only have cleared the whole frontier of Canada, but would have inflicted a severe chastisement on the Americans in their own territory. The great object to be accomplished was the destruction of Sacketts Harbour, with which must fall at once the whole naval power of America on Lake Ontario. Every military man expected that this would be done; but Sir George, after waiting in a camp at Chamblay, advanced to Plattsburg Harbour, on Lake Champlain. But there he would do nothing till the American flotilla, which lay in the harbour, was also attacked. For this purpose Captain Downie was sent by Sir James Yeo from the Ontario squadron suddenly to take command of a squadron of a few ships and a miscellaneous naval force, as hastily mustered and knowing little of each other—Downie knowing only one of his officers. The ship which he commanded was just launched, was unfinished, and everything was in confusion: yet in this condition, Sir George Prevost insisted on their going into action against a superior and well-prepared American squadron, promising to make a simultaneous attack on the harbour and defences on land. Downie commenced the attack on the water, but found no co-operation from Sir George on shore, who stood still till he had seen Downie killed, and the unequal British vessels, three in number, fairly battered to pieces, and compelled to strike. And, after all, Sir George never did commence the attack on the fort with that fine army, which would have carried it in ten minutes, but marched back again, amid the inconceivable indignation of officers and men, who could not comprehend why they should be condemned to obey the orders of so disgraceful a poltroon. On their march, or rather retreat, they were insulted by the wondering Americans, and abandoned vast quantities of stores, ammunition, and provisions. The loss of men during this scandalous expedition was not more than two hundred; but eight hundred veterans—who had been accustomed to very different scenes, under a very different commander—in their resentment at his indignity went over to the enemy. In fact, had this unhappy general continued longer in command, the whole British force would have become thoroughly demoralised.WILLIAM PITT. (After the Portrait by John Hoppner, R.A.)

On the 19th of October the French attacked the duke with sixty thousand men, and though his little army fought with its usual dogged bravery it was compelled to give way. It did this, however, only to assume a fresh position, still covering Nimeguen, where, on the 27th, the French again attacked it, and compelled it to retire from the contest. The duke led the wreck of his army across the Waal and the Rhine, and posted himself at Arnhem in Guelderland, to throw some impediment in the path of Pichegru, who was advancing, at the command of the Convention, to reduce Holland. Nimeguen, full of Dutch traitors, soon opened its gates; Maestricht did the same to Kleber; and at the end of the campaign the gloomiest prospects hung over Holland.[289]

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In five days he had snatched the most damaging victories. The Archduke Charles retreated in haste towards Bohemia, to secure himself in the defiles of its mountains; and Buonaparte employed the 23rd and 24th of April in reviewing his troops and distributing rewards. General Hiller, who, with the Archduke Louis, had been defeated at Landshut, had united himself to a considerable body of reserve, and placed himself on the way, as determined to defend the capital. He retreated upon Ebersberg, where the sole bridge over the Traun gave access to the place, the banks of the river being steep and rocky. He had thirty thousand men to defend this bridge, and trusted to detain the French there till the Archduke Charles should come up again with reinforcements, when they might jointly engage them. But Massena made a desperate onset on the bridge, and, after a very bloody encounter, carried it. Hiller then retreated to the Danube, which he crossed by the bridge of Mautern, and, destroying it after him, continued his march to join the Archduke Charles. This left the road open to Vienna, and Buonaparte steadily advanced upon it. The Archduke Charles, becoming aware of this circumstance, returned upon his track, hoping to reach Vienna before him, in which case he might have made a long defence. But Buonaparte was too nimble for him: he appeared before the walls of the city, and summoned it to surrender. The Archduke Maximilian kept the place with a garrison of fifteen thousand men, and he held out for three or four days. Buonaparte then commenced flinging bombs into the most thickly populated parts of the city, and warned the inhabitants of the horrors they must suffer from a siege. All the royal family had gone except Maximilian and the young archduchess, Maria Louisa, who was ill. This was notified to Buonaparte, and he ordered the palace to be exempted from the attack. This was the young lady destined very soon to supersede the Empress Josephine in the imperial honours of France. The city capitulated on the 12th of May, the French took possession of it, and Napoleon resumed his residence at the palace of Sch?nbrunn, on the outskirts.The country societies were pointed out "as principally to be found in the neighbourhood of Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Mansfield, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Blackburn, Manchester, Birmingham, Norwich, Glasgow, and its vicinity; but," it added, "they extend, and are spreading in some parts of the country, to almost every village." The report of the Commons went over much the same ground, dwelling particularly on the Hampden Clubs as avowed engines of revolution. It dwelt on the acts and activity of the leaders, of the numbers which they had seduced and were seducing, the oaths which bound them together, and the means prepared for the forcible attainment of their objects, which were the overthrow of all rights of property and all the national institutions, in order to introduce a reign of general confusion, plunder, and anarchy.[See larger version]

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The English now began to contemplate taking the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch. General Johnstone was dispatched in April with five ships of the line, some frigates, and smaller vessels, having on board General Medows and three regiments for this purpose; but encountering Admiral Suffren in the way, after an indecisive action, Johnstone fell in with and took a Dutch East Indiaman of great value, and learned through it that Suffren had managed to reach the Cape and give the alarm, and that the Cape was put into strong defence. Johnstone, therefore, made for Saldanha Bay, where he learned that a number of other Dutch East Indiamen were lying. Four of these he secured; the rest were run ashore by their commanders and burnt. During the autumn both Dutch and French suffered much from the British on the coasts of Coromandel and the island of Sumatra. They also took from the Dutch Negapatam, Penang, and other places.

Nothing could be more just or more excellent than the sentiments and arguments of this letter; but, unfortunately, circumstances on both sides were such as really precluded any hope of making peace. Great Britain foresaw Italy under the foot of France; Holland and Belgium in the same condition; Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, and other smaller German States, allied with France against the other German States. It was impossible for her to conclude a peace without stipulating for the return of these States to the status quo; and was Buonaparte likely to accede to such terms? On the contrary, at this very moment, besides being in possession of Hanover, George III.'s patrimony, he had been exercising the grossest violence towards our Ambassadors in various German States, was contemplating making himself king of Italy, and was forcibly annexing Genoa, contrary to the Treaty of Lunéville, to the Cisalpine Republic—that is, to the French State in Italy. Whilst he was thus perpetuating want of confidence in him, on the other hand a league for resistance to his encroachments was already formed between Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, and Austria. Peace, therefore, on diplomatic principles was impossible, and Napoleon must have known it well. True, we had no longer any right to complain of the expulsion of the Bourbons from France, seeing that the nation had ostensibly chosen a new government and a new royal family, any more than France had a right to attack us because we had expelled the Stuarts and adopted the line of Brunswick. But the very nature of Napoleon was incompatible with rest; for, as Lord Byron says, "quiet to quick bosoms is hell." Buonaparte had repeatedly avowed that he must be warlike. "My power," he said, "depends upon my glory; my glory on my victories. My power would fall if I did not support it by fresh glory and new victories. Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest alone can maintain me. A newly-born government, like mine, must dazzle and astonish. When it ceases to do that, it falls." With such an avowal as that, in entire keeping with his character, there must be constant aggressions by him on the Continent which intimately concerned us. Accordingly, the British Government replied to Buonaparte by a polite evasion. As Britain had not recognised Napoleon's new title, the king could not answer his letter himself. It was answered by Lord Mulgrave, the Secretary[500] for Foreign Affairs, addressed to M. Talleyrand, as the Foreign Secretary of France, and simply stated that Britain could not make any proposals regarding peace till she had consulted her Allies, and particularly the Emperor of Russia. The letter of Buonaparte and this curt reply were published in the Moniteur, accompanied with remarks tending to convince the French that the most heartfelt desires of peace by the Emperor were repelled by Great Britain, and that a storm was brewing in the North which would necessitate the Emperor's reappearance in the field.

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