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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 30

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Meantime, before retiring, Pitt had moved and carried the usual vast supplies and the usual annual addition to the debt. The amount voted for the supplies was forty-two millions one hundred and ninety-seven thousand pounds; and the additional robbery of the unborn generations was twenty-five millions five hundred thousand pounds. Pitt, indeed, declared, with his usual assurance, that the sinking fund would speedily clear off all the debt at the close of the war - the fallacy of which we are now, more than half a century after, only too sensible of. He retired, passing over the melancholy prospect of defeats by our enemies, and desertion by our allies, but boasting that our commerce had never been more prosperous. And this was true, for the whole continent was disabled from commerce by trampling and pillaging armies, and by our blockading fleets. What commerce there was we had almost a monopoly of. The enemies of Pitt refused to give him credit for his assumed ground of retirement - the refusal of the king to consent to catholic emancipation. They said that he had never shown so sensitive a regard to questions of mere right, and that it was the labyrinth of difficulties into which he had plunged the nation, and from which he saw no honourable escape, which caused him to slip out of office, and leave the burden of embarrassment to others. And, so far as the catholic question was concerned, probably, they were right. It very likely did not weigh much with Pitt whether the catholics were relieved from their penalties or not; but what touched him was, that he was pledged to the question in order to achieve the union; and diplomatists, like duellists, have always been far more firm on the point of honour than on the point of principle. We shall see Pitt, having cut the Gordian knot of his pledge by his resignation, return to office, in 1804, without one stipulation regarding the catholic claims. But, as to the difficulties of the war, we must give Pitt credit in our belief that he was not the man to shrink from difficulties. Differing as we do from him totally on the soundness of his war policy, we believe it to have been in him and his colleagues, "Windham and lord first lord Grenville, an honest though mistaken policy. Pitt was the political quixote of the close of the eighteenth and the opening of the nineteenth Century. He had a fatal mono-mania that this country was the proper champion of all the world; that with its five-and-twenty millions of people it was bound to ruin itself for the defence of nations comprising some hundreds of millions of people; and that the representatives in parliament of the living had a right to usurp the office of the unborn representatives of the unborn generations, and vote away the wealth of those generations for the helpless and hopeless nations of the continent. However lunatic the fancy, it was the fancy of Pitt and his coadjutors, and, moreover, of no one more than the king. The fault lay in our representative constitution, which allowed such men and principles to predominate.

The new ministry consisted of Addington, son of Chat- ham's old physician, Dr. Addington, as first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer; the duke of Portland, president of the council; lord Eldon, the very embodiment of conservatism, chancellor; earl St. Vincent, of the admiralty; the earl of Chatham, master-general of the ordnance; lord Pelham, secretary of the home department; lord Hawkesbury, the eldest son of the earl of Liverpool, secretary for foreign affairs; lord Hobart, secretary for the colonies; viscount Lewisham, president of the board of control; Charles York, secretary at war; lord Hardwick, lord-lieutenant of Ireland; the earl of Clare, a violent anti-emancipationist, lord chancellor of Ireland; and Castlereagh, still secretary of state for Ireland, but soon after called to succeed lord Lewisham, as président of the board of control in England. Besides these, the earl of Liverpool was made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; Dudley Rider, treasurer of the navy; Thomas Hall and lord Glenbervie, joint paymasters of the forces; lord Auckland and lord Charles Spencer, joint postmasters general; John H. Addington and Nicholas Vansittart, secretaries of the treasury; Sir William Grant, master of the rolls; Sir Edward Law (afterwards lord Ellenborough), attorney- general; and the Hon. Spencer Perceval, solicitor-general The appointments were numerous enough; for not only were all the possible offices filled, but some of them doubly filled. It was soon seen, however, that though Pitt was out of office, his principles dominated in it, and that there was no chance of a change of system. Addington professed to be peaceably inclined, but Pitt had launched him into the midst of a war system, and victories, the result of his measures, came speedily to confirm him in his views. The suspension of the habeas corpus acts, for both England, Scotland, and Ireland, was renewed, and various motions for inquiring into the state of the nation, into the miscarriage of different expeditions, and into the conduct of lord Keith, in breaking the convention of El Arish, were negatived by large majorities, for the Pittite party, out of office, supported the measures they had originated when in office. Parliament was prorogued by commission on the 2nd of July.

But long before this - as early, indeed, as the 15th of April - news had reached London of the death of the erratic emperor Paul, and of the bombardment of Copenhagen by the English fleet. Paul had been won over by Buonaparte to his views, and had been flattered by him by being elected - though irregularly and illegally - grand-master of the Knights of Malta. He had been persuaded that the con- quest of Malta by the English was an invasion of his rights, and, by these and other flatteries, Buonaparte had influenced his weak mind to become the agent of his plans in destroying the English ships in the Baltic, and in closing that sea to British commerce.

Paul pretended that we had captured Danish convoys, these same convoys being engaged in guarding vessels loaded with materials of war for France, and that thus the independence of the north was menaced by us. On this ground, and on that of the invasion of Malta, he immediately laid an embargo on all English vessels in Russian ports; and, as two vessels in the harbour of Narva resisted the attempts to seize them, in consequence of the embargo, he ordered all the English vessels in that port to be burned. In consequence of this sudden and unwarrantable order, contrary to all the laws of nations, about three hundred English vessels were seized, and the officers and crews dragged on shore, put into irons, and sent up the country, under menaces of Siberia. Paul next ordered all property of Englishmen in Russia to be seized and sold; and this was our late beloved and highly- subsidised ally. Denmark - with whom we had various rencontres, on account of its men-of-war convoying vessels laden -with stores for French ports - soon joined Russia. We sent lord Whitworth to Copenhagen to endeavour to come to some understanding on these matters in 1800, but, though a convention was signed, it was not satisfactory. Sweden followed the example of Denmark, and the three northern powers entered into a treaty of armed neutrality to resist our search of their vessels under any circumstances. As this was well known to be promoted by the influence of Buonaparte, and that the consequence would be to shut us out of all trade with the ports and countries of the Baltic, as well as to dispute our supremacy at sea, it was resolved to send an armed fleet to chastise these powers, and, if possible, to break up their co-operation with France. The Hon. Mr. Vansittart was dispatched to Copenhagen, accompanied by a fleet of eighteen sail of the line, with a number of frigates and smaller vessels, under command of admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with vice-admiral Nelson as second. The fleet left the Yarmouth Roads on the 12th of March, 1801, and, arriving at the mouth of the Sound, Nelson recommended that they should sail directly up to Copenhagen, and be prepared, on the refusal of our proposals, to bombard the place, as this would not allow them time to get ready their batteries, and thus do all the more damage to our ships and men. But this was deemed too offensive before any attempt at negotiation, and accordingly Mr. Vansittart was sent forward in a frigate, with a flag of truce, leaving the fleet at the Scaw. He returned without effecting anything more than what Nelson anticipated - that is, putting the Danes into a bustle to receive us destructively. Sir Hyde Parker wasted time in making the needless inquiry by a flag of truce of the governor of Elsineur, whether the passage of the Sound would be disputed, who replied that it would. It was then proposed to enter by the Belt. Nelson said: - " Let it be by the Sound, or the Belt, or anyhow, - only, don't let us lose an hour." At last, it was determined to sail direct into the Sound, keeping as distant as possible from the castle of Cronenburg. The passage there was about three miles wide; our fleet kept close in by the Swedish shore, whence no shot was fired; but the castle of Cronenburg opened on the fleet with one hundred cannon, but without effect. On the 30th of March the English cast anchor before Copenhagen, between it and the island of Huen.

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.

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