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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 26


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He retired amid shouts of " Vive Buonaparte! " from his soldiers in the court-yard. The council of five hundred was in the midst of a most excited debate on the menaced danger, and every member, including Lucien Buonaparte, who was the president, had just been compelled to take an oath to maintain inviolable the constitution of the year Three, when Napoleon entered, attended by four grenadiers of the constitutional guard of the councils. The soldiers remained near the door, Napoleon advanced up the hall uncovered. There were loud murmurs. " What! " exclaimed the members, " soldiers - drawn swords in the sanctuary of the laws! " They rushed upon him, and seized him by the collar, shouting, " Outlawry! outlawry! proclaim him a traitor! " The grenadiers, followed by others, rushed forward, and rescued him, conducting him out of the hall. Then arose a storm of fury. Lucien Buonaparte, called on to put the outlawry of his brother to the vote, threw off his robes of office, and demanded to be heard as a simple member. The uproar became terrible; a fresh body of soldiers entered, and bore Lucien away with them. No sooner was Lucien outside than he mounted on horseback, and, as president of the council of five hundred, announced to the soldiers that factious members with drawn draggers had interrupted the deliberations of the council, and attempted the life of their general. The soldiers were furious, and, headed by Murat, they entered the Orangerie, and drove the members at the point of the bayonet out of the windows. The place was cleared in a moment, the members flying without their caps and gowns for their lives; the place was shut up, and the operation of Cromwell on the long parliament was once more complete in the person of Buonaparte and the national assembly of France.

Out of doors there were abundance of rumours propagated to excite the interest of the public in favour of Buonaparte. It was said that Arena, a Corsican, had attempted to stab the general with a dagger; that he and other deputies had attacked him with swords and pistols; and that he was severely wounded. Arena publicly denied the whole of these assertions. But Thome, one of the grenadiers, who was said to have rescued Buonaparte from the most imminent peril, was invited by him to dinner, and was received by Josephine with a salute, and the present of a valuable jewel. The two councils were remodelled by excluding all the republican members. The directors all, excepting Sièyes and Ducos, resigned. Buonaparte was made chief consul, and the dictatorship was complete. Sieyès retired into the senate with a salary of twenty-five thousand francs, and the estate of Crôsne, in the park of Versailles, whereupon some wag observed: -

"Buonaparte to Sièyes has given du Crôsne,
But Sièyes to Buonaparte has given a throne."

Ducos also retired into the senate. Thus Buonaparte, with an army at his back, was openly dictator. He removed to the palace of the Luxembourg, and assumed a state little inferior to royalty. He revised the constitution of the abbé Sièyes, concentrating all the power of the state in the chief consul, instead of making him, as he expressed it, a personage whose only duties were to fatten, like a pig, upon so many millions a-year. Sièyes had hoped that Buonaparte would be satisfied with directing the military power of the state, and leave the civil power to him. He was soon undeceived. On the very first meeting of the three consuls, Ducos said: - " General, the presidency belongs to you of right." Sièyes hoped Buonaparte would insist on his taking it, but Napoleon seated himself, as a matter of course; and, on his return from the meeting, Sièyes said to Talleyrand, and the rest of those who had planned the revolution of the 18th of Brumaire: - " Gentlemen, you have a master. Give yourselves no further trouble about the affairs of state; Buonaparte can and will manage them all at his own pleasure." It is to the credit of Napoleon that, contrary to the sanguinary disposition which he had displayed in Syria and Egypt, ho now showed the utmost clemency. He refused any proscriptions of those who had resisted this coup-d’état; he conciliated the Chouans and the inhabitants of La Vendée; caused a decree to be passed for the return of La Fayette, Latour-Maubourg, and others, who had been banished by the ultra-revolutionists. The same man who had professed himself a Mohammedan in Egypt now restored the exercise of the Christian religion, and relaxed the rigour of the law against the clergy and the royalists. When Sièyes, in conversation, spoke of Louis XVI., in the usual phrase, as the tyrant, he replied: - " He was no tyrant, or I should have been a subaltern officer of artillery, and you, monsieur l'Abbé, would still be saying mass." On one point alone he was immovable - that of his own power. When some persons advised him to put himself at the head of the army, and renew his splendid victories, he replied: - " I shall remain at Paris - I am chief consul." And he set himself actively to appoint effective ministers, and to reform the lamentable abuses and disorders in both the executive and the army.

In concluding the remarkable events of this year, we must turn to India, and witness the termination of the career of Tippoo Sultaun. This prince, for ever restless under the losses which he had suffered from the English, though nominally at peace with them, was seeking alliances to enable him once more to contend with them. He sought to engage the Affghans in his favour, and to bring over the English ally, the nizam of the Deccan. Failing in this, he made overtures to the French republic through the governor of the Isle of France. Buonaparte had Tippoo in his mind when he proposed to march to India and conquer it, but only a few hundreds of French of the lowest caste reached Seringapatam from the Isle of France, and those immediately set up a tree of liberty, surmounted by a red night-cap, vowed vengeance to all tyrants, except their ally, whom they called citizen Tippoo. Lord Mornington, afterwards the marquis of Wellesley, determined to anticipate the plans of Tippoo, and dispatched general Harris with twenty-four thousand men into Mysore, at the same time ordering another force of seven thousand, under general Stuart, from Bombay, to co-operate with him. To these also was added a strong reinforcement of British troops in the pay of the nizam, and some regiments of sepoys, commanded by English officers. The united forces of Harris and the nizam came into conflict with Tippoo's army on the 22nd of March, 1799, when within two days' march of Seringapatam. In this action, colonel Wellesley, afterwards the duke of 'Wellington, greatly distinguished himself, and the success of the action was ascribed to his regiment, the 34th. On the 5th of April general Harris invested Seringapatam, and, on the 14th, general Stuart arrived with the Bombay army. Tippoo soon made very humble overtures for peace, but the English, having no faith in him, continued the siege, and the city was carried by storm on the 4th of May, and Tippoo himself was found amongst the slain. Two of his sons fell into the hands of the English; his territories were divided betwixt themselves and the nizam. They retained Seringapatam and the island on which it is situated, and the whole of his territory on the Malabar coast, with Coimbra, and all the rest of his possessions stretching to the company's territories west and east, thus completing their dominion from sea to sea. The nizam received equally valuable regions in the interior, and a province was bestowed on the descendant of a Hindoo rajah, who had been dispossessed of it by Hyder Ali, Tippoo's father. Thus was the English empire of India freed from its most formidable enemy, and thus was it enabled, soon after, to send an armament up the Red Sea to assist in driving the French from Egypt.

The year 1800 opened in the British parliament by a debate on an address to the king, approving of his reply to an overture for peace by Buonaparte, as first consul of France. As in this proposition there were no conditions stated, a correspondence ensued betwixt lord Grenville, as secretary at war, and M. Talleyrand, as French minister for foreign affairs but it ended in nothing. If Buonaparte had been sincerely desirous of peace, he must have withdrawn the French army from Egypt, as it was there with the open declaration of an intention to make that country a stepping- stone to India. But, so far from this, Buonaparte was, at the same moment, preparing to make fresh and still more overwhelming invasions of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. As England was yet far from having learned the great and necessary lesson of non-intervention, its ministers were not likely to accept a peace which left Belgium and Holland parts of France. Pitt, in his speech on the address, set himself elaborately to answer Mr. Erskine, who not only declared in his place in parliament, but had published a pamphlet, to prove that we were the first aggressors in this dreadful and expensive war with France. If the case could have been argued at that time on the basis on which we now admit that it ought to have been, Erskine would have succeeded. "We were the first to take up arms to defend our allies, the Dutch; but then, in the eyes of Pitt and of his majority, to attack our allies was to attack us; and Pitt argued triumphantly to a large public of that time, when he recapitulated the dates of the aggressions of France on Belgium and Holland, stating truly that we did not take up arms till after the battle of Jemappe, in 1792. Could the English government and its borough-purchased majority in parliament of that day have been able to comprehend the great doctrine of non-intervention, there would have been a fair ground of peace, had Buonaparte been prepared to evacuate Egypt, and renounce all designs on our Indian territory. We had certainly done enough, and more than enough, on account of our allies; for we had for them accumulated a vast burden on the shoulders of our posterity, whose consent could not be obtained, who had no representatives living and elected by them, and could not, therefore, be justly charged with the costs of war for the benefit of foreign nations. But such doctrines then were so much empty wind against the theory of Pitt, who was destined by his wild ideas of universal quixotism to cost this country more, as one man, than all its kings together had cost it from this conquest. The address in the commons was carried by a majority of two hundred and sixty to sixty-four; and it was immediately followed by a message from the crown, announcing new complications with the continental powers, and making the most enormous demands for the prosecution of the war. On the 17th of February it was distinctly stated that the king was making fresh arrangements with the emperor of Germany, the elector of Bavaria, and other continental princes, to enable them to defend their own territories, and of which defence they had already amply shown that they were utterly incapable. Pitt demanded half-a-million of money to be paid over to these princes as an instalment; and he called for no less than forty-seven millions four hundred and ninety thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine pounds for the expenditure of the year.

Mr. Tierney, who now began to distinguish himself in opposition, objected to the whole of these propositions, as most uncalled for and unjust to the people of this country, and defied Pitt to state the real aim and object of the war, Pitt replied, as in astonishment, "The honourable gentleman defies me to state what is the object of the war. I will state it, not in one sentence, but in one word: it is Security - security against the greatest danger that ever threatened the world. It is security against a danger which threatens all the nations of the earth! "

If this was the real motive for the war - " security against a danger that threatened all the nations of the earth" - then the answer was plain: - Let us insure our own security, and let all the nations of the earth do the same. We have surely done enough to show a real sympathy with those nations, and it bas been useless. Some of them have made peace with the enemy, and spent our money to destroy other nations. We are not justified in preserving Austria and Prussia, that they may destroy Poland. We cannot answer it to our posterity, whose money it is that we are spending, and not our own. Behold our national debt; that is at once the monument of our sympathy for other nations, and of our useless endeavour to save nations far more numerous than ourselves.

Had this language been used, no nation could have any- thing to say against it, for no other nation came to our aid; no other nation was quixotic enough to make itself the champion of the whole world, when it had, moreover, to borrow the money to do it with, or, rather, to take it from those who could not protest against the act - namely, posterity. We could at comparatively little cost have defended our coasts and our colonies, and have been prepared at any time to perform offices of sympathy towards suffering nations, and of peace-making betwixt hostile ones; but Pitt was insane on the point of fighting for all the world, and not only proceeded to expend nearly fifty millions that year, but to raise a new loan of twenty million five hundred thousand pounds more by annuities, and he imposed still more taxes. all inquiry into the necessity of such expenditure was quashed. An inquiry into the causes of our disgraceful expulsion from Holland was negatived, also, by an immense majority. The same fate attended the attempt to defeat the renewal of the suspension of the habeas corpus act.

On the 15th of May the king was twice in danger of his life. In the morning, as he was witnessing the exercises of a battalion of grenadier guards, one of them fired a bail cartridge, which hit a Mr. Ongley, a clerk in the navy office, who stood only eight paces from the king. An immediate examination of the cartouche-boxes of the soldiers was made, but nothing was discovered to lead to the detection of the shooter, and probably it was a mere accident; but it made a great- sensation at court; and, as the king had publicly announced that he should pay a visit to Drury Lane Theatre that evening, ever y endeavour was made to induce him to keep away. The king would not listen to any suspicion of danger; he went, accompanied by the queen and some of the princesses. As, however, he entered the box, and was bowing to the audience, a shot was fired at him. He stood for a moment, and then, turning to the queen and princesses, who were just entering the box, he said, "Keep back! - Keep back! They are firing squibs for diversion, and perhaps there may be more! " He then went forward to the front of the box, and bowed again to the audience, which rose en masse, and cheered vehemently. An impromptu stanza was said to be written by Sheridan to " God save the King," and sung with rapturous applause. It was found that the man who had fired was a Chelsea pensioner of the name of Hatfield, who had become insane from no less than eight sabre wounds in the campaigns in Holland and Belgium. He had fired a horse-pistol at the king; but his arm having been struck up by a person near him, the bail hit the top of the box. The man was tried, and committed to Bethlehem Hospital for life. To reduce the chances of these insane attempts at the monarch's life, two new clauses were introduced into the insanity bill, considerably abridging the privilege of bail allowed to alleged lunatics.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 26

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