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Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 8


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Prince Charles now set out from Rome on the night of the 9th of January, 1744. To escape observation, he gave out that he was going to hunt the boar in the Pontine Marshes and the wilds of the Maremma, as he was used to do at that season. He took with him only one attendant, and, disguising himself as a Spanish courier, he gave to his follower the dignity of a Spanish secretary. It was necessary to use all this precaution, because the king of Sardinia would be ready to seize him on land, and the British admiral, Matthews, by sea. The secret was not even imparted to his younger brother, Henry, for some days. He travelled day and night, reached Savona, and, running in a small boat through the British fleet, in imminent danger of being stopped, he arrived safe at Antibes. Thence he rode post to Paris, where he arrived on the 20th. That same day his father announced the fact of his son's departure and its object at his table, and received the congratulations of his family. On the 29th a secret letter was dispatched to the English government by one of its agents in Rome, giving all the particulars of the prince's departure.

Charles had set out in great exultation, in the assurance that at length France was in earnest in the cause of his family. He was therefore proportionately disappointed and chagrined when, notwithstanding the most earnest entreaties, he was not permitted by the king to have audience of him. Louis, whilst actively moving in his favour, was to the last moment avoiding the appearance of it. He received the best advice, however, of the banished earl marischal, one of the wisest and most zealous of the Stuart supporters, and of lord Elcho, an equally zealous but secret adherent. He then proceeded to Gravelines, to be ready for the expedition. There he for the first time beheld the white cliffs of the glorious island which his family had lost by its bigotry and despotism, and which he now trusted to regain. He was obliged, however, to maintain the strictest incognito, being attended only by Drummond of Bohaldie, and passing himself as the chevalier Douglas. In his letters to his father he describes the anxious secrecy which he maintained, in constant apprehension that some one should recognise his features. "I often think," he says, " that you would laugh heartily if you saw me going about with a single servant, buying fish and other things, and squabbling for a penny, more or less.... Everybody," he added, "is wondering where the prince is. Some put him in one place, and some in another, but nobody knows where he is really; and sometimes he is told news of himself to his face which is very diverting." He was soon, however, joined by the earl marischal, who meant to accompany the expedition to Scotland.

The expedition against England was at this moment actually in motion. The squadrons of Brest and Rochefort were already united under the command of admiral Roquefeuille, and sailing up the channel to clear the way for the transports containing the soldiers. Sir John Norris had been appointed admiral of our channel fleet, consisting of twenty-one ships of the line. Norris had, according to the duchess of Marlborough, lingered when ordered to waylay the Spanish West India fleet, but then he had the excuse of bad weather; now, he had no obstacle. He had lain at Spithead, but had quitted that station and sailed into the Downs, where he was joined by other ships from Chatham; and thus was not only superior in number to the French, but had the advantage of being well acquainted with the coasts, he having long been captain of Deal Castle. Roquefeuille sailed right up to the Isle of Wight, and, observing no vessels off Spithead, he, in his French egotism, concluded that the fleet had sought shelter in Portsmouth harbour, He therefore lost no time in dispatching a small vessel to Dunkirk to hasten on his armament. Seven thousand men were instantly sent on board transports, and the prince and marshal Saxe accompanied them. Roquefeuille, meantime, proceeding on his voyage, came to anchor off Dungeness, which he had no sooner done than he beheld the British fleet bearing down upon him in much greater force than his own, for he had only fifteen ships of the line and five frigates. The destruction of the French fleet appeared inevitable, but Sir John Norris this time justly incurred the censure of lingering. He thought, from the state of the tide and the approach of night, it was better to defer the attack till morning; and, when morning came, no Frenchmen were to be seen. The French admiral, much more active than poor old Sir John, had slipped his cables and made the best of his way homewards.

The next day, that Providence which has on so many occasions defeated the attempts to invade "the inviolate island of the brave and free," sent out His tempests and scattered the approaching transports. Sir John thought the storm quite sufficient excuse for not pursuing; but the winds pursued the invaders, and blowing furiously direct from London towards Dunkirk, scattered the French transports, sunk some of the largest of them with all their men, wrecked others on the coast, and made the rest glad to recover their port. Charles waited impatiently for the cessation of the tempest to put to sea again, but the French ministers were discouraged by the disaster, and by the discovery of so powerful a British fleet in the channel. The army was withdrawn from Dunkirk, marshal Saxe was appointed to the command in Flanders, and the expedition for the present was relinquished.

Charles, extremely- chagrined at this turn of affairs, dispatched a message to the earl marischal to join him at Gravelines, and there proposed that they should not trouble themselves to wait any longer on French armaments, but should sail together arid raise Scotland. The earl marischal was too prudent to consent to any such project; and the prince then, losing all patience, declared that he would not remain idle, but go and fight against the usurper in Flanders. The earl marischal resisted this project more energetically than the former one. He justly represented that entering the French ranks against his own countrymen would for ever ruin all his hopes of regaining them as subjects. This advice, admirable as it was, put the climax to the young man's indignation. He wrote in severe terms to his father of the conduct of the earl marischal, and returned to Paris. Before this he had summoned the duke of Ormonde from Avignon to join the expedition; and the old man, now eighty years of age, was already on his way when the news of the failure met him, and he returned. Charles was directed by the king of France to maintain the strictest privacy whilst in Paris, and he accordingly took a house within a league of the town, where he lived, as he said, like a hermit. His incognito was, nevertheless, soon broken by his gossiping adherents, and he was compelled to seek occasionally the seclusion of Fitz-James, the seat of the duke of Berwick, where he could enjoy field sports.

Soon after the retreat of Roquefeuille, the six thousand Dutch troops landed, fresh troops were raised at home, and the coasts put into a better state of defence. The designs of France, frustrated on land, were still in part prosecuted at sea. It had been arranged that whilst Roquefeuille was engaged with the channel fleet, there should be a union of the Toulon fleet with the French squadron in the Mediterranean against the English fleet there under admiral Matthews. It was hoped by this simultaneous attack to annihilate our maritime power. Accordingly, the French and Spaniards having joined, they came to an engagement with Matthews off Toulon on the 22nd of February. The English were superior in number of ships, but those were foul from the time they had been at sea, and, what was worse, there was a deadly feud betwixt Matthews and his second in command, admiral Lestock. Matthews with his division gallantly bore down on the Spanish flag-ship of one hundred and fourteen guns, and the engagement was continued till night separated the combatants. The Spanish flag-ship was reduced to a mere wreck, the "Royal Philip" was disabled, and the "Padua" was burnt by the English. But all this time Lestock had held himself and his section of the fleet aloof, leaving Matthews to bear the brunt of battle. Matthews loudly complained, and evidently with great justice, of this conduct of Lestock, declaring that it was done purposely and maliciously; Lestock replying that Matthews' signals were so confused that he did not know what to do. The next day the combined squadrons retired, and then Lestock gave chase, followed by the whole fleet; but just as he was coming up with the enemy, Matthews signalled him to give up the pursuit. This Lestock complained, with equal justice, was done by Matthews from jealousy and resentment. Matthews treated Lestock with much indignity - suspended him from his command, and sent him to England for trial. But Matthews himself was very soon summoned to England, and the conduct of both parties subjected to inquiry. The house of commons interfered with the proceedings of the court-martial, where conflicting opinions ran high; but at length the court- martial acquitted Lestock, and declared Matthews for ever incapable of serving his majesty again. Some commanders of ships were also cashiered. To an impartial judgment at the present time, both admirals were culpable, but Lestock the most so, for being the first to sacrifice the interests of his country to his private pique; and this view is confirmed by Smollett, a competent judge, who pronounces Matthews brave, open, and undisguised, but proud, imperious, and precipitate; and Lestock, though brave and cool, yet cunning and vindictive. The English did not alone suffer from the quarrels of their commanders. The Spaniards complained that the French did not properly support them in the engagement. They claimed the honours of the day, both from the French and the English; and conferred on their admiral, Don Joseph Navarro, the title of marquis de la Vittoria. The French, not conceding the honour, also promoted their admiral.

After these transactions there could no longer remain even the name of peace betwixt France and England. Mr. Thompson, the British resident at. Paris, made the most indignant complaints of the hostile proceedings of the French fleets and of the encouragement of the young pretender. The reply to this was a formal declaration of war, couched in the most offensive terms, in the month of March, to which George replied in a counter-declaration, equally strong.

On the 15th of June of this year commodore Anson returned from circumnavigating the globe, and from a voyage in other respects one of the most extraordinary ever made. Having been, as we have seen, sent out to harass the coasts of Chili and Peru, and to co-operate with Yernon for more complete mischief to the Spaniards across the isthmus of Panama, he found his ships not only very unseasonably delayed, but most villanously stored. Those demons in the shape of contractors, commissioners, and others - who have in all ages been the curse of our service, making their infamous gains at the expense of the comfort and lives of our brave seamen - had sent out his squadron in the worst of conditions. In doubling Cape Horn in March, 1741 - a season when he had no business in so stormy a region - Iiis store-ship, the "Wager," was wrecked, and the rest of his ships scattered different ways. Anson, however, hardily pursued his way with his only ship, the "Centurion," and in June reached the island of Juan Fernandez, so celebrated as the imaginary scene of Robinson Crusoe's solitary sojourn. The scurvy and other diseases had reduced his crew of nearly five hundred to less than three hundred. At that island he was overtaken by the "Gloucester," a sloop, and a junk laden with provisions. With this small remains of his fleet, and altogether only three hundred and thirty-five men, he pursued his commission and plundered the coasts of the' Pacific, burning towns and seizing treasure. As the disasters of Yernon put an end to any operations across Panama, he determined to seize the Manilla galleon, which annually conveyed spices and silver from the Philippine Islands to Acapulco, in Mexico. For this purpose he had to traverse the whole enormous Pacific, and on, the way, finding the "Centurion" and the two other vessels too much for his reduced crews, he destroyed them, and continued his voyage with the "Centurion" alone. After many hardships and adventures he reached China, and anchored at Macao, in the bay of Canton, in November, 1742. He there new-coppered the "Centurion," and at the proper time sailing thence with some fresh seamen, he fell in with the Manilla galleon, and, after a short but sharp contest, took it, though mounting forty guns and carrying six hundred men. The treasure found on board was valued at three hundred and thirteen thousand pounds. He sold the ship in China, pursued his way home by the Cape of Good Hope, and after incredible hardships, and passing through the French fleet without seeing it, he reached Spithead on the 10th of June of the present year, 1744. There were great rejoicings on the announcement of his arrival with silver and gold to the amount of a million and a quarter sterling. Anson was made rear-admiral of the fleet; and to show the nation that at length there was a decided triumph over the Spaniards, the whole of this wealth was drawn in procession from Portsmouth to London in thirty wagons, escorted by the ship's crew, preceded by their officers with drawn swords, and with bands playing and flags flying, amongst them those taken from the Spaniards, and conspicuously that of the great galleon itself.

The French having now formally declared war with England, entered on the campaign with Flanders in the middle of May with eighty thousand men, and the king taking the nominal command, in imitation of his great grandfather, Louis XIV. Marshal Saxe was the real commander, and with this able general Louis went on for some time reaping fictitious laurels, as his ostentatious predecessor had done. The king of England expected to see the allies muster seventy-five thousand men – a force nearly equal to that of the French; but the Dutch and Austrians had grievously failed in their stipulated quotas, and the whole army did not exceed fifty thousand. Marshal Wade, the English commander, was a general of considerable experience, but no Marlborough, either in military genius or that self-command which enabled him to bear up against tardy movements and antagonistic tempers of the foreign officers. Wade found all the trying opposition and petty jealousy in the Dutch and Austrian leaders which Marlborough had done, but he had not the patience and firm urbanity by which Marlborough conquered them. Consequently, whilst he had to contend with a very superior force, he was hampered by his coadjutors - lost his temper, and, what was worse, lost battles, too. The French went on, as in Louis XIV.'s time, taking town after town and fortress after fortress. In six weeks they had made themselves masters of Courtray, Menin, Ypres, Fort Knoque, and Furnes, and spread a terrible consternation through the whole of. Holland itself.

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Pictures for Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 8

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

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