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Reign of George II. (Concluded) page 15

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The parliament of England met on the 13th of October. Pitt, not without cause, assumed much merit from the successes of the year; and, in truth, so far as military matters went, rarely had this country reaped such fame. We had triumphed in every quarter of the world. In January came the news of the capture of Goree; in June, of Guadaloupe; in August, that of the victory of Minden; in September, of the victory off Lagos; in October, of the conquest of Quebec; in November, of Hawke's victory off Quiberon. Horace Walpole said, "victories came so thick, that every morning we were obliged to ask what victory there was, for fear of missing one." At the same time, the condition of our commerce warranted the inscription afterwards placed on Chatham's monument in Guildhall, that he caused commerce to flourish with war. The spirit of one man, risen strong and fresh from the people, had infused life, valour, and enterprise into every department of the public service - a sufficient warning to England to put its public business not into the hands of mere aristocracy unused to business, but into those of men who make no pretensions to ancestry, but have real ones to talent. Frederick of Prussia said that England had at length produced a man, and the splendour of this man so completely eclipsed his aristocratic colleagues, that even the duke of Newcastle seemed forgotten, except by people hunting after favours. Pitt, indeed, had been forced to act in the teeth of all his previous life; in other words, he professed to have unlearned his errors, and now contended that the cheapest policy in the end was to push on expense, and bring wars to an early and brilliant close. He declared at the same time that all was owing to Providence, which loves to reward virtue; and truly he seemed to put a wonderful trust in Providence, when we regard the boldness with which he proposed and carried a vote for fifteen millions of pounds for the year's expenditure, for eighteen thousand militia, and including them, for one hundred and seventy-five thousand troops altogether in the British pay. He said in private, that some time ago he should have been contented to bring France to her knees, but now he would not rest till he had laid her on her back.

Almost the only jar in his administration was occasioned by the ambition of his brother-in-law, lord Temple, for the order of the garter. Pitt solicited for him, and grumbled in no mild terms when he was refused, saying, when next his reluctant steps carried him to the stairs of Kensington palace, and mixed him with the dust of the antechamber, perhaps he might learn, once for all, whether the king would still inexorably persist in refusing to him and his that he granted to all others. The king, however, who had lately conferred the title of earl on Temple, whose squab and awkward figure promised no great grace to the order, still refused him, and Temple resigned, the day after the meeting of parliament, the privy seal. He was persuaded, nevertheless, to resume it, and in the following February, there being three vacancies, his wishes were complied with, the other garters being conferred on prince Ferdinand and lord Rockingham.

During this session a bill passed both houses to prevent the frauds committed by members of parliament under the Qualification Act of queen Anne, obliging every candidate for a seat in the commons to show that he was worth six hundred pounds a year in land if for a county, and three hundred pounds if for a borough. This had been evaded by mere sham transfers of property, which were destroyed as soon as the member obtained his seat. By this bill, every member presenting himself to take his seat, was obliged to produce a schedule of his lands to the speaker of the house, explain his qualifications, and swear to the truth of them. Time, however, showed that the only effect of this bill was to increase the crime of perjury.

The earliest martial event of the year 1760 was the landing of Thurot, the French admiral, at Carrickfergus, on the 28th of February. He had been beating about in the stormy seas betwixt Scandinavia and Ireland till he had only three of his five ships remaining, and six hundred soldiers only. But Carrickfergus was most negligently garrisoned; Thurot made his way into the town and plundered it, but was soon obliged to abandon it, and was overtaken by captain Elliot and three frigates before he had got fairly out to sea, his ships taken, himself killed, and his men carried prisoners to Ramsay, in the Isle of Man.

In April the French made an attempt to recover Quebec. Brigadier-general Murray had been left in command of the troops, six thousand in number, and the fleet had returned to England. The marquis de Vaudreuil, now the French governor at Montreal, formed a plan of dropping down the St. Lawrence the moment the ice broke up, and before the mouth of the river was clear for ships to ascend from England. He therefore held in readiness five thousand regular troops, and as many militia, and the moment the ice broke in April, though the ground was still covered with snow, he embarked them in ships and boats under the command of chevalier de Levis, an officer of reputation. On the 28th of that month they were within sight of Quebec. They had landed higher up than where Wolfe did, and were now at the village of Sillery, not far from Wolfe's place of ascent. Murray, who had only about three thousand men disposable for such a purpose, the rest having been reduced by sickness, or were needed to man the fortifications, yet ventured to march out against them. He was emulous of the fame of Wolfe, and attacked this overwhelming force with great impetuosity, but was soon compelled to retire into Quebec with the loss of one thousand men killed and wounded. This was a serious matter with their scanty garrison, considering the numbers of the enemy, and the uncertainty of the arrival of succour.

Levis, who knew that his success depended on forestalling any English arrivals, lost no time in throwing up trenches and preparing batteries. Had the river continued closed, Quebec must soon have reverted to the French; but, on the 11th of May, the English were rejoiced to see a frigate approaching, and this, only four days after, was followed by another frigate and a ship of the line. These, commanded by lord Colville, immediately attacked and destroyed or run on shore the French flotilla, and at that sight Levis struck his tents and decamped as rapidly as he mine, leaving behind him his baggage and artillery. Nor was the marquis de Vaudreuil left long undisturbed at Montreal. The three expeditions, which had failed to meet the preceding summer, were now ordered to converge on Montreal - Amherst from Lake Ontario, Haviland from Crown Point, and Murray from Quebec. Amherst had been detained at Oswego by an outbreak of the Cherokees against us. This native tribe had been friendly to us, and we had built a fort in their country, and called it Fort London, after lord London; but in the autumn of 1759 they had been bought over by the French, and made a terrible raid on our back settlements, murdering and scalping the defenceless inhabitants. Mr. Lyttleton, the governor of South Carolina, marched against them with a thousand men, and compelled them to Submission; but no sooner had he retired than they re-commenced their hostilities, and Amherst sent against them colonel Montgomery, with one thousand two hundred men, who made a merciless retaliation, plundering and burning their villages, so as to imprint a sufficient terror upon them.

Amherst had now ten thousand men; and though he had to carry all his baggage and artillery over the Ontario in open boats, and to pass the rapids of the upper St. Lawrence, he made a most able and prosperous march, reducing the fort of Ile Royale on the way, and reached the isle of Montreal on the very same day as Murray, and a day before Haviland. Vaudreuil saw that resistance was hopeless, and capitulated on the 8th of September. The French were, according to contract, sent home, under engagement not to come against us during the remainder of the war, Besides this, lord Byron chased a squadron of three frigates, convoying twenty store-ships to Quebec, into the Bay of Chaleurs, and there destroyed them. Thus all the French possessions in North America, excepting the recent and f feeble settlement of New Orleans, remained in our hands.

The war in Germany grew more and more bloody. Frederick of Prussia, in his winter quarters at Freyberg, seems to have ruminated gloomily on his Situation. In his desperate conflict of five millions of people against ninety millions, he had certainly shown that he was a great military genius, but that was his only greatness. The whole of this bloody struggle had been produced by his unprincipled invasion of his neighbours' territories in order to enlarge Ins own; and, however human policy may endeavour to reconcile such conduct to the rules of Christian truth and morality by the mere phrases of "great talent," "martial glory," "expansive policy," and the like, these phrases do not any the more render robbery and murder for your own self-interest the less criminal and disgraceful; if they did, they would loosen all the bonds of society, and the man in private life who murdered his neighbour and seized his estate would be worthy of our applause instead of the gallows. It is in vain that human ambition endeavours to disguise its truculence under the robes of a specious rhetoric - villany remains villany for ever. But Frederick was freed, or endeavoured to be so, from the bonds which Christians at once profess to wear and yet ignore at their will and convenience. He laughed atallideasof revealedreligion, scoffed with Voltaire, who was his guest at Sans Souci, at the immortality of the soul, and persuaded himself that his bottle of poison could reduce him to an equality with his dogs and horses, which he buried on the terrace of his garden at Potsdam, and ordered his own carcase, which he would fain think his only remains, to be laid beside them. Yet his theory of materialism did not render him any the more happy or cheerful. During this winter he wrote the most lugubrious letters, in which he seemed to have a lucid glimpse of his real life and character, which, however, produced no result beneficial to mankind. "Wretched fools that we are!" he says, "who havebut a moment to live! we make that moment as painful as we can. We delight in destroying those masterpieces of industry which even time has spared. We seem resolved to leave a hateful memory of our ravages, and of all the calamities that we have caused! "

Yet how completely Frederick uttered this wisdom without any real appreciation of it we shall soon see at Dresden. In fact, he had reduced his whole kingdom, as well as those of his neighbours, to the most frightful condition. According to Archenholz, in his " History of the Seven Years' War," he had so drained his country of men, that he resorted to the swindling trick of offering commissions in his army to young men of all ranks all over Germany. His agents were everywhere making these engagements, and that in the form of written patents for the posts of lieutenants and captains; but when these young men, many of them of family and education, arrived at headquarters, they were unceremoniously made privates of, and, if they resisted, were cudgelled into obedience. By such means did his great kidnapper, colonel Coligny, and his assistants, entrap thirty thousand men. Besides these, not only were the poor peasantry dragged away to his bloody wars, but prisoners were treated the same. Without being asked whether they would become Prussian soldiers or not, they were forced to the standards, compelled to swear allegiance, and marched off to fight for Prussia and against their own countrymen! By such means was the kingdom of Prussia put together, and by such means Frederick earned the prostituted epithet of u Great!" The condition to which his people were reduced may be imagined; and when he came into the neighbouring countries he swept up everything before him, till, though before him might be a garden, behind him was literally a desert. On Mecklenburg and Saxony he levied the most rigorous assessments; from Leipsic alone, in this present year, he forced one million one hundred thousand dollars. He felled the woods of Saxony, and sold them to speculators for what he could get; he left all his civil officers unpaid, and only paid his army by the English subsidy of six hundred and seventy thousand pounds, and that after it and all other coin had been enormously adulterated.

Russia and Austria came down upon him this year with great forces. Daun entered Saxony, Laudohn and Soltikow, Silesia. Laudohn defeated Fouque at Landshut, and took the fortress of Glatz, and compelled Frederick, though hard pressed by Daun, to march for Silesia. The month was July, the weather so hot that upwards of a hundred of his soldiers fell dead on the march. Daun followed him, watching his opportunity to fall upon him when engaged with other troops, but on the way Frederick heard of the defeat of Fouque and the fall of Glatz, and suddenly turned back to reach Dresden before Daun, and take the city by ßtorm; but as Daun was too expeditious for him, and Maguire, the governor, an Irishman, paid no heed to his demands for surrender, Frederick, who had lately been so beautifully philosophising on the inhumanities of men, commenced a most ferocious bombardment, not of the fortress but of the town. He burnt and laid waste all the suburbs, fired red-hot balls into the city to burn it all down, demolished the finest churches and houses, and crushed the innocent inhabitants in their flaming and falling dwellings, till crowds rushed from the place in desperation, rather facing his ruthless soldiers than the horrors of his bombardment. Such were the doings of this sentimental atheist, who had just before lamented over the "destruction of those masterpieces of industry which Time had spared," and that men "left a hateful memory of their ravages, and of all the calamities they caused!"

Prevented by the arrival of Daun from utterly destroying Dresden, though he had done enough to require thirty years of peace to restore, Frederick marched for Silesia. Laudohn, who was besieging Breslau, quitted it at his approach; but the Prussian king, who found himself surrounded by threes armies, cut his way, on the 15th of August, at Liegnitz, through Laudohn's division, which he denominated merely "a scratch." He was instantly, however, called away to defend his own capital from a combined army of Russians under Todtleben, and of Austrians under Lacy, another Irishman; but before he could reach them they had forced an entrance, on the 9th of October. The Russians, in a most extraordinary departure from their usual custom of plunder, touched nothing, but levied a contribution of one million seven hundred thousand dollars on the city. Prince Esterhazy, who commanded at Potsdam, was equally honourable - how different to Frederick at Dresden! - but Lacy and his Austrians plundered the palaces of Charlottenburg and Schönhausen, and ravaged the suburbs. At Frederick's approach they withdrew.

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