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Reign of George II. (Continued.)


Carthagena attacked by the English unsuccessfully - Cuba attacked with like Result - Anson arrives at Juan Fernandez - A French Invasion threatened in favour of the Pretender - His Agent, Drummond of Bohaldie, arrives in Edinburgh - The King offers the Prince of Wales an additional Fifty Thousand Pounds a Year, which he refuses, unless Walpole be dismissed - Final Attack upon Walpole, who resigns - Made Earl of Ortord - Wilmington made Minister with Carteret, and the Marquis of Tweeddale Secretary for Scotland - King of Bavaria crowned Emperor of Germany as Charles VII. - Inquiry into Walpole's Administration - Paxton, Solicitor to the Treasury, committed to Newgate - Five Millions voted for the War, and Five Hundred Thousand Pounds to the Queen of Hungary - Battle of Czaslau - Prussia obtains Bohemia - Peace betwixt Prussia and Austria - Belleisle retreats across the Line - Pulteney made Earl of Bath - War on Italy by the Spaniards - Defeat of Spaniards at St. Christopher's - Spaniards defeated in Georgia by Oglethorpe - Cardinal Fleury dies - Bolingbroke returns to England-Wilmington dies; Pelham succeeds - Battle of Dettingen - Quadruple Alliance betwixt England, Holland, Austria, and Saxony - The Young Pretender sails for England, but is driven back - Louis XV. takes the Command of the Army in Flanders - Anson returns, laden with Spanish Treasures - King of Prussia takes Prague - Austrians driven from the Kingdom of Naples - Charles VII. dies - Walpole dies - Battle of Fontenoy - French take many Towns in Flanders.
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Whilst these transactions had been taking place on the continent, our fleets, which should have kept the French and Spaniards in check, had done worse than nothing^ France had subtly delayed to declare war against us, so that, although she joined her fleets and armies to the enemy, we could not attack her without being the first to declare war, or to commence it by direct breach of the peace. Admiral Haddock, who was on the watch in the Mediterranean to harass the Spaniards, was thus baffled. The Spanish fleet was joined by twelve French men-of-war from Toulon, the admiral of which declared that he had orders to defend the Spaniards if they were attacked. As the combined fleet, moreover, doubled his own, he was compelled to fall off and leave them.

Still more inglorious were the proceedings of our fleet on the coasts of the Spanish American colonies. Sir Chaloner Ogle, on his way with his squadron, carrying lord Cathcart and his troops to join the fleet of admiral Vernon, fell in with four large ships of war. Ogle sent the same number of ships, under lord Augustus Fitzroy, to give them chase. The vessels refused to hoist their colours or show who they were, and lord Fitzroy discharged a broadside at one of them, and a fight began. This continued the greater part of the night, and then the vessels hoisted French colours. It now turned out that these ships were part of the French squadron, under the command of the marquis D'Antin, sent to assist the Spanish admiral, De Torres, against the English liest and colonies. As war was not yet declared betwixt France and England, although the French were thus ready to perpetrate it anywhere on the seas, the firing ceased, as though it had been an accidental mistake. The two commanders exchanged mutual compliments, apologised for the blunder, and separated with an air of friendship, but with a considerable loss on each side. The French ships proceeded to join D'Antin, and to commit any other such mistake whenever the English should attack the Spaniards, or the Spaniards be disposed to attack the English. Ogle joined admiral Vernon in Jamaica, who now found himself at the head of the most formidable fleet and army which ever appeared in those seas, and with full authority to act at his discretion. The united squadron consisted of twenty-nine ships of the line, and an equal number of frigates, fire-ships, and bomb-ketches, supplied amply with all necessary stores of ammunition and provisions. Had Vernon been the great commander which the opposition represented him, he had now the opportunity of doing magnificent service, and reducing some of the most important and valuable of the Spanish territories. He had fifteen thousand seamen and twelve thousand soldiers, including an American regiment, and a considerable body of negroes. But Vernon, so far from being the great man that his party had described, and, perhaps, believed him, was a testy, captious, and incompetent person. The palpable thing to do was to sail for Cuba, and endeavour to take Havannah, This place was, according to all accounts, badly garrisoned. There was no chance of its resisting such a force as that of England. The capital once taken, all Cuba must speedily have been reduced; and Spain, thus deprived of one of her finest possessions, would have found us so placed, that we must continually intercept the whole wealth of the Spanish West Indies, and Spain must have been reduced to a humiliating surrender.

Sir Chaloner Ogle joined Vernon on the 9th of January, and no time was to be lost, for the wet season set in at the and of April, which, besides the deluges of rain which fall, is attended by a most unhealthy state of the climate. Vernon, however, did not move till towards the end of the month, and then, instead of directing his course towards the Havannah, which lay to the leeward, and could have been reached in three days, he beat up against the wind to Hispaniola, in order to watch the motions of the French fleet under D'Antin. It was the 15th of February before he learned distinctly that the French had sailed for Europe in great distress for men and provisions. Now was the time to make his way to Cuba; but, instead of that, he called a council of war - the resource of a weak commander, and which was followed by its almost invariable result - a contrariety of advice. It was at length concluded that, as admiral Torres had now sailed for Havannah, and thus closed the opportunity for its attack, the fleet should take in wood and water at Hispaniola, and make for the continent of New Spain. On the 4th of March the fleet came to anchor in Play a-Grande, to the windward of Carthagena.

Carthagena was strongly fortified, and the garrison was reinforced by the crews of a squadron lying there under Don Blas de Leso. If the place was to be assaulted, it should have been done at once; but Vernon lay perfectly inactive for five days, as if to allow the enemy to make all his preparations for defence. He then, with a surprising infatuation, landed his troops on the island of Tierra Bomba, near the mouth of the harbour called Boca-Chica, or the Little Mouth, which was wonderfully fortified with castles, batteries, bombs, chains, cables, and ships of war. Notwithstanding this, the brave English erected a battery on shore, and played so effectually on the principal fort, that they soon made a breach in it, whilst the fleet fired into the harbour, thus dividing the attention of the enemy. In spite of their advantages, the Spaniards abandoned their forts and batteries, the English entered the breach, the vessels in the harbour were destroyed, and the passage cleared so that the fleet could sail in and support the army Lord Aubrey Beauclerk was killed whilst he was leading on the ships, but this did not stop the attack. There appeared nothing capable of preventing the conquest of the town but the cabals of the two commanders. Lord Cathcart had caught the endemic fever and died, and was succeeded by general Wentworth in command of the land forces. Wentworth had a great contempt of Vernon, and Vernon was by no means well disposed towards Wentworth. The fleet having entered the harbour, the land forces were all disembarked, and posted within a mile of Carthagena. But there the success stopped. Vernon had written home his dispatches to the duke of Newcastle on the 6th of August, saying, "The wonderful success of this evening and night is so astounding, that we cannot but cry out, 1 It is the Lord's doing, and it seems marvellous in our eyes!'"

The news, when it reached England, produced a transport of exultation. Bells were rung, cannon fired, and great rejoicings made, anticipatory of fresh tidings of wonderful success. But very different was the reality. Wentworth called on Vernon to bombard Carthagena from the harbour, whilst he assailed it on land; but Vernon replied that he could not get near enough to attack the town effectually, and that Wentworth must attempt the reduction of the fort San Lazaro, which commanded the town, and might be taken by escalade. Wentworth replied to Vernon with indignation, that he did not support him; that he had landed the troops and their tents, stores, and artillery most negligently, so that his men had had to lie on the bare ground for three nights, under the heavy dews of that unhealthy season, and exposed to the fire of the Spaniards, without any means of returning it. On the other hand, Vernon complained that Wentworth had left open the communication betwixt the town and the country, by which means the enemy was reinforced and the town supplied with abundance of provisions. Amid these recriminations, Wentworth called a council of officers, and it was resolved to attempt the escalade of San Lazaro. Twelve hundred men advanced, under General Guise, to the assault. They were led on by a number of pretended Spanish deserters or guides. These fellows conducted them, not to the weakest, but to the very strongest part of the fort, where they were at the same time exposed to the fire of the town. Whilst they were thus standing under a murderous fire, they discovered, to their consternation, that their scaling ladders were too short, The attack had been commenced under the obscurity of night, but it was now broad day-light, and a prudent commander would have drawn off his forces for a better opportunity. But the escalade was persisted in: they remained splicing their ladders, and a detachment of Grenadiers, under colonel Grant, reached the top of a rampart; but Grant was instantly killed, and the grenadiers hurled back over the wall. Still, the bull-dog spirit of the English made them persist in this desperate attempt, till six hundred, that is, half of them, lay dead, when they drew off.

All this time the great admiral Yernon, as the opposition delighted to call him, in disparagement of all the commanders favourable to government, lay still with his ships, and afforded no assistance to the land troops. When Wentworth bitterly complained of this, to show that it was impossible to operate on the town from the harbour, Vernon sent into the inner harbour the Galicia, a Spanish ship which had been taken. It was sent in before day, with sixteen guns mounted on one side as a floating battery, and manned by volunteers from different ships, under captain Hoar. This ship kept up a cannonade on the town for several hours, producing little effect, and fired on from the town with as little. The men were then brought off in boats, the Galicia's cable was cut, and she was suffered to run upon a shoal, where she soon filled. This Vernon held to be a triumphant proof that there was not depth of water in the inner harbour to enable a squadron to act on the town effectually; but Smollett, who was present, says that this was ridiculous, for that a little farther to the left he might have stationed four or five of his largest ships abreast, within pistol shot of the walls; and that, had this been done simultaneously with the attack of San Lazaro, the town would, in all likelihood, have been taken.

The troops were now hastily re-embarked; the unhealthy season was at its height, and the men were swept away by fever more rapidly than they had been mowed down on land. The heavy rains had set in, and the troops in a few days were reduced to one half their number. " Nothing," says Smollett, u was to be heard but complaints and execrations, the groans of the dying, and the service for the dead. Nothing was seen but objects of woe and images of dejection. The conductors of this unfortunate expedition agreed in nothing but the expediency of a speedy retreat from this scene of misery and disgrace. Admiral Vernon, instead of undertaking any enterprise which might have retrieved the honour of the British arms, set sail from Jamaica with the forces in July, and anchored in the south part of Cuba in a bay, on which he bestowed the appellation of Cumberland Harbour."

Here the remains of that fine fleet and army, capable of achieving the most brilliant conquests under able commanders, were suffered to corrode away under the influence of inactivity, the season, bad salted provisions, and excess of rum. When they landed, the twelve thousand men were already reduced to three thousand, and they soon fell away to two thousand. To reinforce them, one thousand negroes were landed from Jamaica and drilled, but nothing was attempted, for the small town of St. Jago, even, was deemed too strong for their diminished body. In November they were re-embarked and carried back to Jamaica.

Unfortunately, the government, probably before they were informed of the miserable mismanagement of this costly armament, sent out four more ships of war and three thousand more soldiers. These only followed their predecessors to a miserable death, for Vernon, as if struck with paralysis of mind, attempted no new enterprise, which might have saved his troops, by leading them into a healthier region, and by the mere change to enterprise and activity. As the dreadful news began to reach England, the public became outrageous in their condemnation of Vernon, from whom they had been taught to expect so much, and discovered too late that they had been deceived in his character. He endeavoured to cast the blame on Wentworth, and had the hardihood to boast in his dispatches to the duke of Newcastle, that, had the combined command of the expedition been left to him, he would have taken both Carthagena and St. Jago with far less loss than they had suffered altogether. His boasts could, however, no longer impose on the people at large.

The conduct of Vernon, though he had been the idol of the opposition and not of the ministry, as it became known, increased enormously the unpopularity of Walpole. Though he had literally been forced into the war by the opposition, the whole of its disasters were charged not on them but on him; and they did not hesitate to throw from themselves upon him the odium of all its failures. The general election which now came on was seized upon to load Walpole with all the weight of the unsuccessful war. The duchess of Marlborough, Pulteney, and the prince of Wales raised funds to outbribe the master of corruption himself. They incurred heavy debts to complete his ruin, and as the news of the miserable issue of the expedition to the Spanish settlements came in, numbers of those who had been returned to parliament as friends of the ministry, turned round and joined the opposition in violent denunciations of the mismanagement of the war. Lord Chesterfield, whilst these transactions had been progressing, had hastened on to Avignon, and taking up his quarters with the duke of Ormonde, obtained from the pretender letters to nearly a hundred Jacobites in England and Scotland, engaging them to put out all their power and influence against Walpole.

Whilst these combined efforts were making to unseat him, Walpole saw his cabinet every day becoming more unreliable, more divided against him. The duke of Newcastle was eagerly pressing forward to supplant him. He had entered into secret engagements with the duke of Argyll, and lord chancellor Hardwicke threw himself into that clique. The earl of Harrington did not forget the severe observations of Walpole on his conduct when he was with king George at Hanover, and the king was compelled to undergo such humiliation on the approach of the French army under marshal de Maillebois. To these were added the earl of Wilmington, formerly Sir Spencer Compton, who, foi getting his alarm at the idea of succeeding Walpole as prime minister, now was anxious for that honour. To add to these depressing circumstances, the king arrived from Hanover in a humour ready to lay his disgrace and failure at anybody's door. On the 4th of December he opened the new parliament, and, conscious of Iiis own contemptible figure after the submission to French dictation in Hanover, he took care to remind it that he had commenced the war only at the urgent desire and advice of both houses, and that he had been particularly counselled to direct our naval efforts towards America. He next adverted to the menacing confederacy of France, Russia, and Bavaria against the queen of Hungary, and he severely criticised the continental powers who had guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction, and had all, except England, abandoned their engagement. All that he could hold out in the shape of hope was, that he trusted that a sense of the common danger must, ere long arouse some of the powers to unite against the formidable confederacy mentioned.

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Pictures for Reign of George II. (Continued.)

Westminster election
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Harbour of Helsingfors
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The retreat of Belleisle
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George II. at the battle of Dettingen
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Medal in commemoration of the battle of Dettingen.
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View in the city of Worms
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Prince Charles
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Duke of Belleisle
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Prince Charles Stuart
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