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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 25

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The news of the battle of Aboukir produced the most astonishing sensation when it reached Europe. Their own historian, Thiers, says, " Such was the famous battle of Aboukir; the most disastrous that the French had yet sustained, and the one, the military consequences of which were destined to prove the most prejudicial. That fleet which had carried the French to Egypt; which might have served to succour, or recruit them; which was to second their movements on the coast of Syria, had there been any to execute; which was to overawe the Porte; to force it to put up with false reasoning, and to oblige it to wink at the invasion of Europe; which, finally, in case of reverse, was to convey the French back to their country - that fleet was destroyed. This defeat came not to break the spell of the enterprise, but to revive all the hopes of the enemies of France."

Nelson, having blockaded the port of Alexandria, sailed to Naples to repair, There he received the news of the intense rejoicing his victory had spread through England, and that he was raised to the peerage, by the title of baron Nelson of the Nile. He found Ferdinand of Naples already collecting an army to drive the French from Rome and Tuscany. Austria, Switzerland, and other countries were again in arms. The treaty of Campo Formio was at an end by the French violation of it everywhere; and, as it was supposed that Buonaparte would never be allowed to get back again, the spirit of Europe had revived. Nelson, allowing himself as little repose as possible, in November had made himself master of the island of Gazzo, separated only by a narrow Channel from Malta. He had blockaded Malta itself, and it must soon surrender. Pitt, elated by this great success, and in consequence of the death of the old czarina, Catherine, at the end of 1796, now entered into a treaty with her successor, Paul, who was subsidised by a hundred and twelve thousand pounds a-month, and great expectations were raised of the effect of his victorious general, the merciless Suvaroff, leading an army into Italy. When the British parliament met on the 20th of November, the late victory and this new alliance were the themes of congratulation from the throne. Twenty-nine million two hundred and seventy-two thousand pounds were granted with alacrity for the ensuing year; and the nation willingly put its neck under a new yoke invented by Pitt - that of an income tax.

The year 1799 opened by the discussion of this new scheme of revenue. It was a mode of making every man tax himself by stating the amount of his income, on which he was to be charged ten per cent., with the exception only of such persons whose incomes were less than two hundred pounds per annum, who were to be charged less than ten per cent. It was to include all who had more than sixty pounds a-year. Pitt calculated the income of the nation at a hundred and two million pounds, which would thus produce a revenue of ten million pounds. To make this inquisitorial and sweeping imposition the more palatable, the increase in the assessed taxes made the preceding session were to be repealed. To such a degree was Pitt's extraordinary scale of taxation now become familiarised, that this tax was carried through both houses with comparatively little difficulty.

A still more important proposition was laid before parliament by royal message, on the 22nd of January - the union of Ireland with Great Britain. It was argued that the late attempts to bring in a French army, and to alienate Ireland from this country altogether, showed the necessity of drawing closer the bonds betwixt the two countries. On the 31st of January a series of resolutions were agreed to as the basis of this union. These we shall notice at length, when we come to the discussion of the measure. For the present year, the matter ended in a joint address on the subject from both houses being presented to the king.

On the continent, 'the struggle against the French was renewed. The king of Naples and the emperor of Austria, in alliance with Russia, determined to free Italy of them in the absence of Buonaparte; but, without waiting for the arrival of the Austrians and Russians, Ferdinand mustered nearly forty thousand men, badly described, and worse officered, and set out to drive the French from Rome. General Mack, still in high repute, was sent from Vienna to command this army, and Ferdinand, a most self-indulgent and unmartial monarch, was advised to march with them in person. Nelson was employed, with an addition of some Portuguese ships, to land a division of five thousand men of this army at Leghorn. Mack, in true Austrian style, then divided the remaining thirty-two thousand men into five columns, and marched them by different routes towards Rome. Nelson had narrowly watched the manœuvre of Mack, and pronounced him incompetent, and that the whole would prove a failure. This was speedily realised. Ferdinand, with a portion of his forces, entered Rome in triumph on the 29th of November; but Championnet, the French general, who evacuated Rome to concentrate his forces at Terni, soon defeated the other divisions of the Neapolitan army in detail, and Ferdinand fled from Rome back to Naples. But there was now no security for him there. Championnet was marching on that capital with twenty thousand veteran soldiers, and Ferdinand availed himself of Nelson's fleet to get over to Palermo. The lazzaroni defended the deserted city for three days with incredible bravery against the French; but they were betrayed by a republican party in the city, which hoisted the tricolor flag, surrendered the forts to the enemy, and fired on them from the Castle of St. Elmo, which commands the town. Championnet took possession of Naples on the 23rd of January, 1799, and proclaimed a republic, under the title of Republica Parthenopea." Ferdinand had the deposits of the bank and the Monte di Pietà of Sicily with him; but the French levied a contribution of twelve million of francs on the inhabitants of the city, and fifteen million on the inhabitants of the provinces; seized on the royal property, the property of the church, and laid hands on all the statues, pictures, books, manuscripts, and the antiquities collected from Herculaneum and Pompeii, and sent them off to Paris. Yet even Championnet had moderation enough to curb the relentless pillage of Faypoult, the commissioner of the directory, and he was therefore superseded by general Macdonald.

The Austrians and Russians, by this time, were in full march for Italy. Leaving the archduke Charles to cope with Jourdan, who had made himself master of the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein in January, and menaced a march on the Danube, an army of Austrians, under generals Bellegarde and Hotze, entered Switzerland, reoccupied the Grison country, drove the French from the St. Gothard, and menaced Massena at Zurich. Another army of Austrians, under old general Melas, issued from the Tyrol, and drove the French general, Scherer, from post to post in Upper Italy, till he took refuge behind the Mincio. Moreau was then sent to supersede Scherer, but found himself, in April, confronted, not only by Melas, but by Suvaroff, with an addition of fifty thousand men. On the 27th of that month he was attacked by this combined force, and beaten. Brescia and Peschiera surrendered, Mantua was invested, and Suvaroff entered Milan. Moreau was compelled to retreat upon Genoa, and await the arrival of Macdonald, who was rapidly marching from Naples to his aid. But Macdonald was confronted on the banks of the Trebia, and, after a tierce battle of three days, he was routed, and escaped only to Moreau with the remnant of his army. Moreau now stationed himself in the entrance of the Bochetta pass, in the Appenines, behind the town of Novi; but there he was superseded by general Joubert, the directory having lost faith in Moreau. Joubert, however, had no better success than Moreau. Suvaroff attacked him on the 16th of August, routed his army, and killed him; the French abandoning nearly all their artillery on the field, and flying in disorder towards Genoa.

Leaving Melas to complete the subjection of Italy, Suvaroff then turned his army towards Switzerland, where Massena had effectually opposed the Austrians under Bellegarde and Hotze, and defeated a Russian force, under Korsakoff, sent to reinforce them. But Suvaroff found himself unable to unite with Korsakoff till after much fighting with Massena; and the two Russian generals retreated to Augsburg, leaving Massena master of Switzerland.

The French were driven again out of Naples by the end of July. Cardinal Ruffo brought down a wild army of Calabrians, and an army made up of Russians, Turks, Portuguese, and English, completed the expulsion of the republicans, and restored the king. In this restoration Nelson and his squadron took a most effective part; but, unfortunately for his fame, he at this time became acquainted with Lady Hamilton, the wife of the English ambassador, and gave himself up so completely to her fascinations that he was induced to do deeds that leave a lasting stain upon his reputation. Lady Hamilton was the friend of the queen of Naples, a sister of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, and she instigated Nelson to take a melancholy part in the savage retaliations of the court on the Neapolitan republicans. The title of duke of Bronté and a large estate, were a poor equivalent for these un- English services. Nelson sent commodore Trowbridge to Civita Vecchia to blockade it, and both that port and the castle of St. Angelo soon surrendered, and captain Lewis rowed up the Tiber in his barge, hoisted the English colours on the capitol, and acted as governor of Rome till Pius YI. was nominally restored. The poor old man, however, never returned to his kingdom; he died at Valence, on the Rhone, on the 29th of August of this year. The election of the new pope, Pius VII., did not take place till March, 1800. Before the end of the year, nearly all Italy, except Genoa, was cleared of the French.

Whilst these changes had been effectuating in Italy, the English, with their new allies, the Russians, made an abortive attempt to drive the French from Holland. An army of seventeen thousand Russians and thirteen thousand English was assembled on the coast of Kent; and Sir Ralph Abercromby, who was destined to fall on a more memorable field, taking the command of a division of twelve thousand men, admiral Mitchell put them across to the coast of Holland. Abercromby landed, and took the Fort of the Helder; and our fleet, occupying the Texel, compelled the Dutch fleet to surrender, and mount the Orange flag. So long as Abercromby commanded, he repelled all the attacks of the French general, Brune, with a force more than double in number; but, on the 13th of September, the duke of York arrived with the remainder of the Anglo-Russian army, and took the chief command. From that moment all went wrong. The old want of success followed the royal duke, who, whatever his courage, certainly possessed no abilities as a general. By the 17th of October, notwithstanding the bravery of his troops, he was glad to sign a convention, by which he was allowed to withdraw his army, on condition of the liberation of eight thousand French and Dutch prisoners of war in England.

Buonaparte in Egypt, cut off from all communication with France, soon found himself threatened by the attack of two Turkish armies, one assembling at Rhodes, one in Syria. To anticipate this combination, he determined to march into Syria, where he expected to startle the Turks by the progress that he should make there. He therefore commenced his march through the desert at the head of ten thousand men, easily routed a body of Mamelukes, and took the fort of El Arish, reckoned one of the keys of Egypt. He set out in February, and, passing the desolate wilderness, not without experiencing some of the sufferings which might be expected, entered Gaza, where he found plenty of provisions. He then attacked Jaffa, the Joppa of the Gospels, carried it, and put three thousand Turks to the sword, giving up the town to licence and plunder. But it was here that Buonaparte perpetrated one of those wholesale massacres which blacken his name. In Paris, in the affair of the sections, he had shown his disregard of human life, and again at Cairo; but his deed at Jaffa was still more deliberately murderous. Amongst the prisoners who had surrendered was a mixed body of Egyptians, Turks, and others. He himself admitted to lord Ebrington, at Porto-Ferrajo, that they were little short of two thousand - " à peu près deux mille" Thinking that these men would be an incumbrance to him, and would join the enemy again if' he set them at liberty, he pretended that they bad before made part of the garrison of El Arish; and engaged not to serve again; and that, moreover, the governor of Jaffa had cut off the head of his messenger. To have cut off the head of the governor in return would have been just; but proof is wanting that any great number of these Turks had been in El Arish; and even if they had, when he had accepted their surrender on condition of quarter, they had a claim for their lives. But Buonaparte,- two days after their surrender, marched them out under guard of a strong detachment of his army to the sand-hills south-east of Jaffa, and had them shot down in successive companies, and their bodies piled up in a pyramid were, and perhaps are still, visible as a pyramid of bones. Heaven seemed to put the stamp of its reprobation on this horrible deed by immediately sending the plague into his camp.

He next marched to St. Jean d'Acre, and summoned it to surrender. The pacha, named, from his fierce cruelties, Djezzaar, or the Butcher, instead of returning an answer, cut off the head of the messenger. Buonaparte vowed an awful revenge. But the pacha had warned Sir Sidney Smith, who was off the coast ready to convey the Turkish army to Egypt, of the appearance of the French before Acre; and Sir Sidney, so famous already for his exploits at Toulon, where he and Buonaparte had met, sailed into the port with two ships of the line, the Tigre and the Theseus. Scarcely had Sir Sidney arrived, when he heard of the approach of a French frigate flotilla bringing to Buonaparte artillery, ammunition, and machines for the siege. He captured seven vessels out of the nine, and turned the artillery on the walls against the French themselves. A French royalist officer, general Phillippeaux, took charge of these cannon. The siege began on the 17th of March, and ended on the 21st of May - a period of sixty-five days, during which eight desperate assaults had been made, and eleven as desperate sallies. At one time Buonaparte had to march to Mount Tabor, to disperse an army of Moslems; at another, he succeeded in making himself master of a tower which commanded all the rest of the fortifications; but Sir Sidney Smith, himself leading on a body of his seamen armed with pikes, drove the French, in a hand-to-hand fight, from the tower. Buonaparte, one day walking on the hill still called Coeur de Lion's Mount, pointing to Acre, said to Murat, " The fate of the East depends upon yonder petty tower." When a prisoner in St. Helena he repeated this, saying that, Acre won, he should have pushed on to Damascus; Syria his, he would have assembled a hundred thousand men, taken Constantinople, and have marched to India. His ambitious notions on this head amounted to a species of monomania. But Sir Sidney Smith stood in his way; and the bitterness of Buonaparte against him became rancorous. He declared that Sir Sidney had exposed the French prisoners purposely to the plague, and ended by denouncing him as mad. Buonaparte had now, however, lost several of his best generals, and retreat was inevitable; but he endeavoured to cover the disgrace of it by asserting that it was the plague raging at Acre that drove him from it. On the march he proposed to Desgenettes, the surgeon, to end the lives of some of the wounded who incumbered him, by poisoning them with opium. Desgenettes replied indignantly that his art was employed to save, and not to kill. But the proposal soon grew into a rumour that it had been carried into execution, and that not on a few dozens, but on several hundreds - a rumour which continued to be believed for many years, not only by the other European nations, but by Buonaparte's own army. He continued his march back to Cairos burning the crops and villages by the way, in revenge of the hostility of the natives. He reached Cairo on the 14th June, his reputation much diminished by his repulse.

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