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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 23

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He now, therefore, plunged into preparations for this grand conquest of the east. We have seen him associating with the men of science and art. He conceived the ambition of uniting military conquest with the enrichment of France by the rape of all that was most celebrated in art and antiquity from every country that he could subdue, and of accumulating these trophies in Paris. He frequented the institute, wore its costume when out of his military one, and selected one hundred and two savans, or men of science and the arts, to attend the expedition. They were liberally supplied with books and philosophical instruments; and henceforth a new department of war was to be established - that of a scientific staff, for the purpose of universal spoliation. Whilst this is in organisation, we must notice a few other events.

The preparations for invasion turned the attention of the British government to ports where it was supposed the troops would be embarked. Ostend was regarded with particular suspicion, and Sir Home Popham was sent, in May, with a small squadron, conveying a thousand men, under colonel Coote, to destroy the ships and sluices of the Bruges canal there. The troops were landed, and did their work, but found themselves unable to regain the ships from the violence of the wind and the surf, and were surrounded, and compelled to surrender. In the autumn of this year admiral Duckworth sailed for Minorca, and landed eight hundred men, under Sir Charles Stuart, who readily made themselves masters of the island. In the West Indies, it was found necessary to abandon the portion of St. Domingo which we had held for the French planters against the revolutionary government of France. An agreement was entered into with Toussaint L'Ouverture, the head of the revolted negroes, by which he agreed to respect the lives and fortunes of the planters, and a negro republic was founded on these terms. Such of our troops as the climate had left alive quitted the island in May, and the French troops followed our example in the autumn, leaving Toussaint and his negro state in present possession of the best part of the island.

The fate of Switzerland was decided this year. The French, under the plea of liberating peoples, needed no other excuse for invading and subjecting them, not only to tyranny, but the most unbounded robbery and the most awful license. They had prepared their way by their usual arts. They had spread their propagandists through the portion of the Swiss cantons where French is spoken, with books and pamphlets, inviting them to free themselves from their federal diet, and accept the blessings of French liberation. This having sufficiently operated, Menard marched into the country with fifteen thousand troops, and made direct for Bern. The council of Bern called together from the sounder and more German cantons twenty thousand militia to oppose him. Menard was soon reinforced by ten thousand more troops, and was superseded by general Brune, who brought up still more forces, so that they now amounted to upwards of forty thousand. Papers were circulated amongst the Swiss contingents, insinuating that they were sold by their governors; and a body of Swiss being surprised and cut to pieces, suspicion spread amongst them, and they retired to their several cantons. Only about fifteen thousand men were left to defend Bern, and these, in a fit of suspicion, arose, and murdered two of their colonels and many other officers. General d'Erlach, a brave Swiss, having been defeated, his soldiers, who had been told by French emissaries that he was a traitor, turned upon him and murdered him.

Having thus scattered demoralisation through the Swiss troops, Brune attacked them on the road to Freyburg on the 5th of March, but was repulsed with a fearful slaughter. But the French, confident in their overpowering numbers, renewed the attack; and papers insinuating treason against their officers being freely spread amongst the Swiss, they gave way, and suffered a terrible defeat. More than a hundred officers, the most distinguished amongst the Bernese nobles, fell, and their names may be seen inscribed on slabs of black marble in the cathedral of Bern. The city surrendered, and Brune, marching in, seized the public treasury, containing thirty millions of francs, and also the treasure-chests of the various guilds and companies. He found and appropriated three hundred cannon, ample stores of ammunition, and arms and accoutrements for forty thousand men. These funds, and many of the guns and arms, went to equip and prepare the army of Buonaparte destined for Egypt. Soon after arrived a commissioner from the directory, named Carlier, who imposed fresh exactions, proclaiming that it was proper the Swiss should support their liberators. He levied on Bern eight hundred thousand more francs; on Freyburg, three hundred thousand, and like proportions on other places; and to insure the prompt payment, he seized and sent to the citadel of Strasburg sixteen of the chief men of these districts. Carlier then turned his attention to the cantons which had invited and fraternised with the French liberators, and levied equally heavy contributions on Zurich, Lucerne, and other towns. The astonished inhabitants, untaught by Belgium and Italy, resisted these testimonies of friendship and liberation, and were answered by troops marched in upon them, by confiscation of property, and by the shooting down such refractory peasants as refused compliance with the French demands.

The directory proclaimed that the Helvetic confederation was at an end, and sent a miniature copy of the French constitution for the adoption of the Swiss, ordering deputies to assemble at Aarau to inaugurate it. The inhabitants of the Waldstätten, or mountain cantons, declined to send deputies, and fifteen thousand men, under the Alsatian general, Schaumburg, were immediately dispatched to compel them; but he was met by a small body of Schwyzers, under Aloys Redding, who, supported by another body of men of Uri, attacked him in the mountain defiles, and slew four thousand of his troops. Unable to advance, Schaumburg made a convention with Redding, by which the Schwyzers were to be exempt from intrusion, and from sending deputies to Aarau. But no sooner had the Schwyzers retired and been thrown off their guard, than Schaumburg marched again, and, on the 9th of September, attacked with all his force a small body of Nidwalders, and, after a desperate battle from sunrise to sunset, cleared the defile with his cannon, slaughtered fifteen hundred of the Swiss, and dispersed the rest amongst the mountains. Schaumburg then gave up the canton to pillage and butchery, as a terrible warning to any who should resist these sanguinary, thieving highwaymen of France. He confessed, in his dispatch to the directors, that priests and women were put to the sword. The cattle were driven off, the towns and villages were burnt down, the fruit-trees cut down, and the gardens and fields laid waste. In the little town of Stanz a chapel has been erected to commemorate the murder of four hundred and fourteen of the inhabitants, including two hundred and two women and twenty-five children, and many other places show the like monuments. Thousands of homeless and parentless children were left wandering in the blood-drenched fields, many of whom were afterwards received by Pestalozzi, and educated in his institution.

Carlier, not deemed active enough in his pillage of the Swiss, was superseded by a fellow-countryman of Schaumburg, named Rapinat, who most amply justified his name. Whilst he indefatigably perpetrated his exactions on all alike, Schaumburg, having disarmed the population, forbade any one to quit his own canton without a passport from the French general. Switzerland now enjoyed those blessings of French liberation which Ireland would have experienced had the Fitzgeralds, the Emmets, and Wolfe Tones succeeded. Belgium, which was first initiated into this process of French philanthropy, was still undergoing it; and continual insurrections by the outraged people were as often trodden out in blood and fire.

The same process was going on in Rome. It was the fixed resolve of the French to be rid of the pope, and to set up one of their model republics. The Roman democrats were encouraged to harass and insult him. Joseph Buonaparte had been appointed ambassador to the papal states, and, not being found aggressive enough - for Joseph loved quietness and ease - two commissioners, of a thoroughly jacobin spirit, were sent to aid him. These were general Duphot and general Sherlock, a descendant of an Irish family. Under the patronage and encouragement of these men, the Roman democrats became audacious. On the 27th of December, 1797, as Joseph Buonaparte was giving a ball, these democrats attacked and insulted the town guard. Some lives were lost, and the next day the. democrats mustered at the Villa Medici, and, encouraged by Duphot, hoisted the tricolor flag; but, on hearing of the approach of some cavalry, they fled to the Corsini palace, the residence of Joseph Buonaparte. They trusted that they should be there protected by the French authority; but the cavalry pursued them into the court, and demanded that they should be turned out. Duphot, who was the next day to be married to the sister of Joseph Buonaparte's wife - afterwards the wife of Bernadotte, and queen of Sweden - like a madman, headed the democrats in a sally against the cavalry, and was shot. The democrats were dispersed, and a good many killed and wounded.

Joseph Buonaparte fled out of Rome to Florence, and the directory ordered Berthier to march into the Roman states, and take possession, declaring the pope the murderer of Duphot. Berthier advanced, seized and sacked the town and holy shrine of Loretto, pillaged and burned Osimo, and, on the 10th of February, 1798, appeared before Rome, forced it to capitulate, turned the Roman garrison out of the castle of St. Angelo, and took possession of all the military posts in the city. On the 15th of February, the twenty-third anniversary of the pope's assuming the tiara, the democrats hoisted the tricolor and the red nightcap on a tree of liberty in the Forum, and one of Sieyes' model constitutions was proclaimed. Berthier then made poor Pius VI. a prisoner in his own palace, put seals on the different apartments, and on those of the absent cardinals; seized four cardinals and a number of the principal nobility, and threw them into the castle of St. Angelo, as security for enormous contributions that he had ordered. He then sent the Corsican general, Cervoni, to inform the pope that he must abdicate his temporal authority, and recognise the French republic. The old man, more than eighty years of age, replied, that death and his many infirmities would soon take his authority from him, but, till then, no earthly power should compel him to lay it down. He was then ordered to quit Rome in eight-and- forty hours; but, not moving, on the 20th of February he was seized, put into a coach, and, with two or three of his ministers, guarded by a regiment of French cavalry, was carried rapidly into Tuscany. The country people, astonished and horrified at this treatment of the holy father, prostrated themselves in crowds along the roads as he passed, and implored his blessing; for, independent of his sacred function, he had been a kind and considerate governor. He was driven to the convent of the Augustine monks in Sienna, and was there guarded by French troops as a state prisoner.

By this time, the king of Sardinia had been compelled to admit a French garrison into Turin, and the rest of his fortresses and all the north of Italy were now under French domination.

Meantime, the fleet which was to bear Buonaparte to Egypt was lying in various squadrons in the ports of Genoa, Civita Vecchia, and Bastia, ready, when any adverse wind should drive the English fleet from the coast, where it blockaded them, to drop down to Toulon and join the main body. On board of these vessels were thirty thousand men, chiefly from the army of Italy. Nelson, with a numerous fleet, was maintaining the blockade, though the secret of the fleet's destination had been so well kept, that it was only surmised that Egypt might be its destination. Buonaparte himself had been recalled to Paris, with a view to his once more proceeding to Rastadt, in order to settle a difference which had arisen betwixt Bernadotte and the Austrians at Vienna. A sudden message sent him back to Toulon. A gale had driven Nelson's fleet from the coast, and so much damaged it, that he was obliged to make for Sardinia to repair. The moment was come; the different squadrons joined from the Italian ports, and the Egyptian armament issued on the 19th of May from Toulon. Napoleon was on the waters destined, he believed, to conquer Egypt, and thus to place not only a powerful barrier betwixt us and our Indian possessions, but, having established a strong empire in Egypt and Syria, to enable France to maintain a large fleet in the Persian Gulf, and to accomplish the invasion and conquest of British India by land or sea. Nay, like another Alexander, the boundless ambition of Buonaparte - an ambition which was his final ruin - contemplated the conquest of entire Asia, and the founding of a giant empire there. " If St. John d'Acre," he said to Las Casas, " had yielded to the French arms, a great revolution would have been accomplished in the east. The general-in-chief would have founded an empire there, and the destinies of France would have undergone different combinations from those to which they were subjected."

With such chimerical fancies, the young Corsican saw the fleet, on a splendid morning, stand out into the Mediterranean, the line-of-battle ships extending for a league, and the semi-circle formed by the convoy six leagues in extent. On their way to Malta, the first object of their enterprise they were joined by a large fleet of transports, bringing the division of general Dessaix. On the 10th they were before Valetta, a fortress which, properly defended, would have set the French at defiance for months, before which time the English admiral would have been upon them, and destroyed the whole scheme of the expedition, and, probably, its commander and projector with it; but the surrender of the place had been bargained for with the grand master, Hompesch, before starting. The once formidable knights of Malta were now sunk in indolence and sensual sloth, and the French agent, Poussielque, had agreed for the surrender for a bribe of six hundred thousand francs to the grand master. As general Caffarelli passed through the most formidable defences with Napoleon on their way to the house of the grand master, he said to him, " It is well, general, that there was some one within to open the gates for us. We should have had more trouble in entering if the place had been altogether empty."

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