OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 30


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 <30> 31 32

On reconnoitring, the defences of the place were found to be very formidable: a number of ships of war, block-ships, &c., were moored in the only channel leading betwixt extensive shoals to the city, and these supported by powerful batteries, especially the Crown Batteries, those at the end of the Great Shoal, called the Middle Ground, nearest to the town. Nelson was appointed to make the attack with twelve line-of-battle ships, and some smaller craft. On the morning of the 1st of April, every ship having been appointed its place and duty, and captain Rivers having two frigates, two sloops, and two fire-ships assigned to him, to act with as he should see best, Nelson gave the signal to weigh and stand in, which was followed by a universal cheer from the fleet. As the day closed, the squadron anchored at the farther extremity of the Great Shoal, about two miles distant from the van line of the enemy's ships. The next morning - the 2nd of April - Nelson found the wind favourable, and weighed and drew nearer to the town, and Sir Hyde Parker followed, and cast anchor where Nelson had been during the night. At ten o'clock the firing commenced, and at eleven it was general. Three of the English vessels - the Agamemnon, the Bellona, and the Russell - stuck fast on the shoal, for they found the pilots ignorant of the channel,, from which all the buoys were pulled up, and so became useless. Neither did the division of Hyde Parker approach near enough to take part in the engagement. Only one of the gun-brigs and two of the bombs could get to their station, and open their mortars on the arsenal, owing to the currents. For three hours the battle raged fiercely, for the Danes fought with more than their well-known valour. It was necessary for Nelson to silence or destroy the floating batteries and gun-boats before he could come at the ships of the line and the great land batteries. He had ordered five hundred seamen, under the hon. colonel Stuart and captain Freemantle, to storm the Crown Battery as soon as it was silenced; but, at this moment, Sir Hyde Parker, seeing the signals of distress flying at the mast-heads of the three vessels aground, and that three others, which he had sent forward as a reinforcement, were making but slow way to the front, signalled for the fleet to draw off, and cease- the engagement. Had Nelson been as timidly obedient to the signals as Sir Charles Napier, since, was to the instructions from home, when before Cronstadt, we should have retired with a defeat, instead of a victory. But Nelson took no notice of the signal: he continued to walk the deck, and asked if his signal for close action was still hoisted, and, being told it was, said: - " Mind you keep it so." Riou, who was amid a murderous fire, only drew off a little, but not in time to save his own fife; for he was cut in two by a. shot, just as he had said, when obeying the signal of the commander-in-chief: - " What will Nelson think of us?"

About half-past one o'clock the fire of the Danes slackened, and by two it had nearly ceased. But the vessels which had struck their flags recommenced firing on our boats sent to take possession of them, and the fire of the batteries on land and on Amak Island struck these surrendered vessels on one side, and that of our ships on the other. To prevent the destruction of the unhappy Danes placed in this fatal situation, Nelson sent on shore Sir Frederick Thesiger with a flag of truce, and a letter to the crown prince, entreating him to put an end to a contest which was uselessly wasting the lives of the brave Danes. Within half an hour after Thesiger's departure, the firing from the Trekroner battery ceased, and adjutant-general Lindholm. came on board to learn the precise object of Nelson's note. Nelson replied that his object was humanity. He demanded that the action should cease, and that the wounded Danes should be taken on shore; that then he would burn or carry away the surrendered vessels, as he should think fit. It was- agreed that the combat should cease for twenty-four hours, during which negotiations should be entered into with the commander-in-chief. Nelson then endeavoured to remove his crippled vessels out of the reach of the batteries; but the Elephant, his own ship, and three others remained fast on the shoal for many hours. On removing from the Elephant to another ship, Nelson said, remembering the signal of the chief admiral, " Well, I have fought contrary to orders, and I shall, perhaps, be hanged. Never mind; let them!"

The negotiation could not be concluded within the twenty-four hours, and Nelson was sent on shore to treat with the crown prince. This prince was the son of the unhappy Caroline Matilda, the sister of George III., and therefore the nephew of the king of England. He appeared highly incensed at the attack upon his capital by England, and demanded of Nelson why they had done it. Nelson bluntly replied, to crush and annihilate a confederacy formed against the most vital interests of England. He pointed to Bernsdorf, the minister, who was present, and said, " That is the man who has done all the mischief, and is guilty of all the blood that has been shed." Nelson said afterwards that he told the crown prince more truths than any sovereign had ever heard. He pressed for an armistice, and the Danes expressed their fears of the resentment of Russia if they consented; but Nelson replied that he wanted the armistice in order to go and destroy the fleet of Russia, and then come back to Copenhagen. The negotiations halted at this point, and one of the Danes recommended that they should renew the hostilities. " Very well," said Nelson, "we are ready to begin the bombardment to-night." On the part of the Danes, a considerable part of their fleet, and the great three-crown battery, were yet untouched; but, on the other hand, nearly half the English fleet had not yet gone into action. The crown prince thought better of it. He took Nelson into his private closet, and, after five days' arduous discussion, an armistice was concluded for fourteen weeks, during which the treaty of armed neutrality with Russia was to be suspended, Nelson was to have full liberty to purchase any necessaries for his fleet, in Copenhagen or along the coast, and, in case of renewal of hostilities, all the Danish prisoners were to be again surrendered.

Nelson then burnt six line-of-battle ships and eight praams which he had taken, and kept the Holstein, of sixty-four guns. The loss to the British in this action was severe, but not more so than might be expected when contending against land and floating batteries, and against a people famous for their valour, and on fire to defend their capital and navy; it was three hundred and fifty killed, and eight hundred and fifty wounded. But to the Danes it was far heavier - from one thousand seven hundred to one thousand eight hundred killed and wounded, and four thousand taken prisoners. Nelson declared that the bravery of the Danes had never been surpassed, nor the horrors of the fight. The ships, all except the Desiree, being got afloat again, on the 12th Sir Hyde Parker sailed away with the main body of the fleet, leaving Nelson in the St. George, and a few other ships, to repair their damages. Sir Hyde Parker went in quest of the Swedish fleet, which consisted only of six ships, and which had taken refuge behind the forts of Carlscrona. Parker sent in a flag of truce, informing them of the armistice with Denmark, and demanding an answer as to the intentions of Sweden. Gustavus, the king of Sweden, hastened to Carlscrona, and, on the 22nd, informed the English admiral that he was ready to treat with an envoy accredited to the northern powers. Admiral Parker then proceeded towards the Gulf of Finland, to attack the Russian fleet, but was soon overtaken by a dispatch boat from the Russian ambassador at Copenhagen, announcing that the emperor Paul was dead, and that his son, Alexander, had accepted the proposals of England to treat.

Paul, the czar, had shown himself a tyrannical madman. A strong party was formed amongst the nobles and officers of the army to depose him. His son Alexander had, for some time, resisted the proposal for this; but, being at length assured that the czar was jealous of him, and intended to put him to death, or shut him up for life, he consented to the project. The day on which this scheme was to be carried into effect, Paul appeared on the military parade, and wrote a letter, on the crown of his hat, to Napoleon, and others, recalling his ambassadors from Copenhagen and Berlin. When the conspirators appeared at his bedside, and presented for his signature an act of abdication, on the ground of incapacity for government, and in favour of his son Alexander, he refused, and attempted to defend himself; but he was seized, thrown down, and strangled. A physician was called in, who signed a certificate that he had died of apoplexy. His death, however, was concealed till all was secured in favour of Alexander, who, though probably not contemplating the actual murder of his father, was so much implicated in the transaction as to cause it to haunt him during his life with a feeling of horror and remorse.

Parker considered the news of Paul's death as tantamount to the conclusion of peace, and proposed sailing down the Baltic again; but Nelson, who had joined him at Carlscrona, thought very differently. He had blamed Parker's slowness and easiness all through the affairs of Copenhagen, and he now wanted to push on to Revel, and destroy the Russian fleet before the ice allowed it to retire into Cronstadt. Sir Hyde Parker refused; and the fleet was on its way down the Baltic, when an order came, recalling Parker, and giving the command to Nelson. He immediately put about, and proceeded to Revel, but the thaw had allowed the Russian fleet to get into Cronstadt. Nelson, however, opened communications with the emperor Alexander, and proposed to land and terminate a convention with him at once. Alexander, not liking to have Nelson's fleet too near, declined the proposal in terms of courtesy, and Nelson took his leave in no complimentary mood. The emperor thought it best to send after him admiral Tchitchagoff, to assure him that Alexander regretted that any misunderstanding had ever taken place betwixt Russia and England; that all the British subjects seized by Paul should be immediately liberated, all their property restored, and that the emperor would be glad to see Nelson at Petersburg in any style which he liked to assume. But Nelson had now resolved to return at once to England, his shattered health ill bearing the severity of the northern climate; nor was his presence necessary, for, on the 17th of June, two days before Nelson went on board the brig which took him to England, lord St. Helens, who had proceeded to Petersburg as ambassador, had signed a convention, by which all subjects of dispute between the two countries were ended. Denmark and Sweden came into the convention as a matter of course. The death of Paul, and the bombardment of Copenhagen, had broken all the schemes of Napoleon Buonaparte in that quarter. And these schemes, through the means of the excitable Paul, had been of the boldest, and even of the wildest kind. The fleets of Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden, were to have joined that of France, and to have swept the channel of the English. This effected, Buonaparte was to land one hundred thousand men on the coast of England, and make himself master of this redoubtable island. Another army of thirty thousand men was to have joined an army of thirty thousand Russian infantry, and forty thousand Cossack and other cavalry, and, proceeding by the Caspian Sea, and by Persia, was to reach and subdue British India. Thus we were to have been put down on land, at home, on the sea, everywhere, and in India and all our colonies. All these dreams of romance vanished with Paul and the submission of the north; and the allies of Napoleon, even in Germany, rapidly drew in their armies. Frederick William III. of Prussia, another of our beloved and highly-subsidised late allies, who had been encouraged to overrun George III.'s electorate of Hanover, to seize the independent port of Bremen, and close the Elbe against us, now quickly retreated into his own proper limits; and Napoleon, startled from his soaring calculations by these events, and by the defeat of his army in Egypt, which occurred about a fortnight before the battle of Copenhagen, began to think of peace instead of universal conquest." We have now to relate the circumstances of this remarkable Egyptian campaign.

The victory of Marengo, and the appointment of ministers of such great talent as Talleyrand, Fouché, and others, had given Napoleon a vast power in France; yet, during the passing of these events abroad, he had been in imminent dangers. Twice his life had been attempted. The first conspiracy was planned by the jacobins, who hated him for overthrowing their reign of licence, and the immediate actors in it were chiefly Italians, as if they hated him the more because he was their countryman. These were Arena, a Corsican, the brother of the deputy who had aimed a dagger at him in the council of five hundred, Ceracchi, a Roman, Diana, and Topino-Lebrun, also Italians, and some others. They planned to assassinate him at the opera, but one Harrel betrayed them, and they were all seized on the spot. This was on the 10th of October, 1800. The next was a royalist plot. The royalists, seeing him put down the ultra-revolutionists, fondly hoped that he intended to restore the monarchy. Louis, afterwards XVIII., wrote to him on that supposition, offering to make him constable of the kingdom, with any other honour that he might covet. As the queen of Naples had been successful in making a journey to the emperor Paul, to induce him to intercede with Buonaparte, so the royalists thought it a good plan to send the duchess de Guiche, a most beautiful and fascinating woman, to make proposals to the chief consul. The duchess was introduced at the Tuileries, and won greatly on Napoleon, and still more on Josephine. Breakfasting with Josephine, she opened her proposals, but Buonaparte instantly ordered her to leave Paris. Thus disappointed, and now conceiving the real aim of his ambition, the royalist princes resolved to combat his attempts by open force; but the lower and less scrupulous of that party determined to take him off by stratagem. Two Chouans, Carbon and St. Regent, appear to have made themselves acquainted with an infernal machine, first prepared by Chevalier and Veycer, jacobins, and to have forestalled them in the use of it. This was a barrel of gunpowder placed on a cart, and charged with grape-shot, which should be placed in the way as the chief consul went to the opera, and exploded at the moment of the passing of his carriage. On the evening of the 24th of December they carried out their plans; the infernal machine exploded close to his carriage; but, whilst it greatly damaged two or three horses, and killed twenty persons, and wounded fifty-three more, the report being heard for several leagues round Paris, Buonaparte, Lannes, and Bessieres, who were in the carriage with him, escaped as by miracle. The conspirators connected with both the plots - Arena, Ceracchi, Topino-Lebrun,. Demerville, Chevalier and Veycer, the jacobins, and Carbon and St. Regent - were all executed. Buonaparte was too acute a politician, and men like Talleyrand and Fouché were too much of the same stamp, not to avail themselves of these circumstances, still more to increase the power of government. They immediately established a tribunal to try all insurrectionists and conspirators, without jury, and without appeal. A law was passed, enabling the executive to seize and transport, or banish, from France all such persons whose conduct and principles had already marked them out as dangerous to the established constitution. This included every prominent royalist and republican. A more searching and stringent system of police was established by the peculiar genius of Fouché, who still remained its head. It consisted of three different bodies besides the general body: the military police of the palace, the police under the inspector of the gendarmes, the police of the city of Paris. Buonaparte received every day a separate report from each of these bodies; and, whilst he thus made himself certain of learning all that passed, the astute Fouché boasts, in his memoirs, that he had himself his spies on the chief consul - that Bourrienne, his private secretary, for twenty-five thousand francs a month, informed him of all the plans and proceedings of Buonaparte; and that Josephine herself, for one thousand francs per day, made him cognisant of all that passed in the Tuileries. By means of this police, in a hand so practised and unscrupulous as that of Fouché, which was ready to turn on Buonaparte himself, should events become adverse, Buonaparte next enslaved the press, Fouché suppressing in one day eleven journals, and keeping a constant eye on all their motions. Any. literary person of too independent or inquiring a nature was banished France, and madame de Stäel was one of the first to be expelled. To secure the interest of the clergy, and to induce, or rather to compel, the pope to sanction his government, Napoleon made a concordat with his holiness, restoring him to his see and privileges, but stipulating for the complete subjection of the clergy in France to the civil power. The concordat was solemnly inaugurated at Notre Dame in April, 1802, Buonaparte attending with quite royal state, with a splendid retinue of civil and military officers; the archbishop of Aix, the same who had crowned Louis XVI., preaching on the occasion. The name of Buonaparte was introduced, by this concordat, into the catechism of the church, and the catechumens were thus taught to honour and serve him as God himself, to oppose his will being to incur damnation. Blind must the man have been who did not see whither all this was tending. On the return from the ceremony Buonaparte asked Augereau how he liked it. He replied, "Oh, all was very fine; there only wanted the million of men who had died in order to destroy what they were now re-establishing."

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 <30> 31 32

Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 30

Chateaudun
Chateaudun >>>>
Old Parliament House
Old Parliament House >>>>
Horne Tooke
Horne Tooke >>>>
Defeat of the French
Defeat of the French >>>>
Dordrecht
Dordrecht >>>>
Splugex
Splugex >>>>
Kufstein
Kufstein >>>>
Danton
Danton >>>>
Festival of the Supreme
Festival of the Supreme >>>>
Kosciusko
Kosciusko >>>>
Attack of Barras
Attack of Barras >>>>
Dresden
Dresden >>>>
Suvaroff
Suvaroff >>>>
Right Hon, George Canning
Right Hon, George Canning >>>>
Princess Caroline
Princess Caroline >>>>
Meissen
Meissen >>>>
Attempted assassination of George III
Attempted assassination of George III >>>>
Flumet
Flumet >>>>
Sistine chapel
Sistine chapel >>>>
Mantua
Mantua >>>>
Seamen complaining of their rations
Seamen complaining of their rations >>>>
Verona
Verona >>>>
Cork
Cork >>>>
Lord Edward Fitzgerald
Lord Edward Fitzgerald >>>>
Bern
Bern >>>>
Battle of the Nile
Battle of the Nile >>>>
Plan of battle of the Nile
Plan of battle of the Nile >>>>
Plan of the Siege of Acre
Plan of the Siege of Acre >>>>
Sir Sidney Smith
Sir Sidney Smith >>>>
Council Hall of the Ancients
Council Hall of the Ancients >>>>
Council of the Five Hundred
Council of the Five Hundred >>>>
Tippoo Sahib
Tippoo Sahib >>>>
Henry Grattan
Henry Grattan >>>>
Buonaparte in the Alps
Buonaparte in the Alps >>>>
Death of general Dessaix
Death of general Dessaix >>>>
General Dessaix
General Dessaix >>>>
Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson >>>>
Battle of Copenhagen
Battle of Copenhagen >>>>
General Abercrombie
General Abercrombie >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About