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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5


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This custom of England's seizing on the ships, property, and persons of nations with whom she -was on the verge of war, but antecedently to the declaration of war, had nothing to plead on its behalf, except the very circumstance which made it the more aggravated - that it was a custom of long standing. It was a custom at once unjust and detestable, and has now been abandoned, due notice being given that all ships belonging to the nation in question may remove, before a given day. The value of property thus seized by England was valued at upwards of three millions. Of course, all the persons belonging to the vessels seized were detained. To satisfy his anger at this proceeding, Buonaparte resorted to one, on his part, that had never been practised before, and which excited the most violent indignation in England. He ordered the detention of English subjects then in France, as prisoners of war. Perhaps little could have been justly said against this, as a retaliative measure, for the practice of England was bad enough, had not Talleyrand assured some English travellers, who applied to him -far information, that they had nothing to fear; that their persons would be safe under the protection of a government which, unlike that of England, observed the laws of nations, and had not Buonaparte caused his well-known agent, Louis Goldsmith, the editor of a French paper, the Argus, published in London, to insert the same assurance in that journal?

Thus thrown off their guard, all the English in France were seized by authority of a proclamation of the 22nd of May. Numbers of these were families and individuals not resident in France, but merely hurrying home from Italy, Switzerland, &c. The plea for the seizure was, that many of the gentlemen were of a military class, officers of the regular army, or, at least, of the militia; but this could not apply to the women and children, who were equally detained, although the proclamation exempted all persons under eighteen or more than sixty years of age. These exemptions were utterly and rudely disregarded. The families were separated - the men consigned in Paris to the Temple, or to the Coneiergerie; the women and children were carried to Fontainebleau. All the usual diplomatic exemptions were equally violated. Lord Whitworth's private secretary, Mr. Talbot, left to wind up the concerns of the embassy, was seized and imprisoned, as were also Mr. Liston, the ambassador of the Hague, and lord Elgin, on his way from Paris to London. The same inexorable rule was applied to clergymen, artists, men of letters; and this was extended to Italy as well as France. One of the grossest cases of this kind was that of Joseph Forsyth, who had been collecting materials for his celebrated work on the arts, antiquities, and literature of Italy. He was seized at Turin, having no intention of entering France at all, but was carried there, and thrown into prison. Having made an attempt to escape, he was marched, in the depth of winter, six hundred miles, from one end of France to the other, and thrown into the miserable dungeon of Fort de Bitché, from whence he only obtained his release, with his constitution destroyed, on the entrance of the English army into France in 1814. Such was the treatment of men of letters, whom Buonaparte professed so especially to honour and patronise. About ten thousand British subjects, of all classes and degrees, were thus pounced upon by Buonaparte, and were thus destined to a long detention. Buonaparte, in his explanations of the chief acts of his life at St. Helena, said that he did it to compel the English government to release the French ships, property, and persons whom they had seized, and that he made them a proposition to this effect, which they did not choose to accept. If he really did this, then the English so disastrously detained in France had really more reason to complain of their own government than of Napoleon. It was clear that they valued the booty they had seized more than the happiness of ten thousand of their countrymen and countrywomen, many of them with great claims to every consideration. Buonaparte said to the English ministers, " If you detain my travellers at sea, where you can do what you like, I will detain yours at land, where I can do what I like." After all the indignation which our historians have displayed on this occurrence, we cannot but think that Napoleon had much reason on his side, and that his decided conduct in the matter was the cause of putting an end to our own disgraceful, kidnapping practice, which was none the juster because it was old.

Whilst Napoleon was now exercising all the rights of a sovereign of France, a proposal was made through the Prussian minister, Haugwitz, and herr von Meyer, president of the regency of Warsaw, to the comte de Provence, afterwards Louis XVIIL, to surrender to Buonaparte the Bourbon title to the crown of France, on condition of having a substantial kingdom created for him in Italy. Louis, paying some compliments to Buonaparte, declined most positively the offer. Buonaparte afterwards denied that there had ever been such an overture made, asserting that he drew his authority from the people, and that to seek a title from the Bourbons would have weakened and not strengthened this popular one. But the Bourbons always maintained the fact of this overture, and there can be no doubt that, whatever Napoleon might say, a formal surrender to him of their rights by the Bourbons would have been proudly insisted on by him. From this time, too, his acrimony against the Bourbons seems to date; many trace to it his otherwise causeless murder of the duke d'Enghein.

There was another point, besides the seizure of unsuspecting English travellers, on which Buonaparte could deeply wound the honour of the British monarch, and at the same time furnish himself with considerable materials of war - the seizure of Hanover. George III. held this hereditary territory distinct from his crown of England, as a state of the German federation. It was impossible to defend this against France with the forces kept there, and Napoleon ordered general Mortier to cross the Dutch frontier, and march into the electorate with twenty thousand men. The duke of Cambridge, who was viceroy there, and general Walmoden, at first, put themselves in an attitude of resistance; they called on the chief powers of Germany to protest against this invasion of the German empire, and to come to their aid, if this remonstrance was disregarded. Now was the time for Prussia and Austria to show a fitting sense of the magnificent support which they had received in their distress from England, but neither of them stirred a hand or foot. Austria contented itself with a feeble protest, Prussia did nothing at all - a sufficient reason, when aid, on their part, was again sought, for reminding them of this conduct, and for remaining, like them, quiet. The crown prince of Denmark showed a disposition to resist this encroachment of France, so menacing to the whole north, but, seeing the utter cowardice of Germany, he again relapsed into a pacific attitude.

The duke of Cambridge, seeing himself totally deserted by Germany, thought it best to surrender Hanover to France, by agreement that the troops should retire behind the Elbe, and not serve again till exchanged. This was done at the end of May; the different towns made their submission on the 3rd of June, and on the 5th Mortier entered Hanover; the duke of Cambridge had quitted the country; and the British cabinet, refusing to ratify the convention previously made with him, he called on the Hanoverian army to surrender as prisoners of war. Walmoden would have resisted with anything like equal forces, but, as that was impossible, he made the best terms he could, which were that his army should give up their arms, and disband themselves. Even Mortier, the French general, seems to have been affected by the despair of the fine regiment of Hanoverian cavalry as they dismounted, and yielded up their horses and swords. More than five hundred pieces of artillery, much ammunition, and a vast quantity of horses fell into the hands of Buonaparte - most timely supplies for his Coming campaign. He next ordered Mortier, regardless of the neutrality of the Hanse Towns, to levy contributions on them, as lie had done on all Hanover, compelling them to furnish clothing for his army. He made forced loans amongst the Jews and merchants of Hamburg and Bremen - and through all this Germany lay as still as if it were dead. All that England could do against the French was to blockade the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, to prevent their receiving any supplies by sea, but this, at the same time, severely punished the cities and districts on the banks of these great rivers.

Whilst doing this, Napoleon was also acting in the same lawless manner towards Naples. The Neapolitan territories had been guaranteed against invasion by treaties with Napoleon himself, and by large sums paid for this immunity; but the king of Naples was the ally of England, and it was one mode of wounding England to invade Naples, and shut her commerce out of its ports. By this means, too, he would command an immediate passage to Corfu and the Ionian Islands, which he had determined to seize. Besides this, he intended to make Naples clothe his Italian army, as Hanover and the Hanse Towns had done his Dutch ones. He therefore forced a great army into the Neapolitan territory, seized Tarentum, Brundusium, and other ports, and threatened the city of Naples itself. In order to prevent England's sending efficient aid to these quarters, he exerted himself to excite a rebellion in Ireland. He was the more bent on this, because he saw that it was hopeless to make a direct descent on England itself. He had collected a great fleet in the harbours of Boulogne, Dieppe, Havre, Dunkirk, Ostend, and other smaller ports, many of them capable only of receiving the gunboats in which he proposed to transport his soldiers. He had assembled a very fine army on the heights above Boulogne, called the " army of England," and there continually exercised it, under the inspection of Soult, Ney, Davoust, and Victor - men the pride of his army; but he saw such powerful fleets crowding the Channel, blockading his very ports, cutting out, every now and then, some of his gunboats under the very batteries, and the war-ships of England even standing in and. firing at him and his suite as they made observations from the cliffs, that, combined with the information that England was almost all one camp with soldiers, militia, volunteers, &c., he abandoned the project, for the present, in despair.

But Ireland he deemed vulnerable, from the treason of her own children. He assembled all the Irish refugees in Paris, formed the Irish brigade into the " Irish legion," and sent over active agents to arouse their countrymen in Ireland. Amongst these were Quigley and Robert Emmett, who had been engaged in the rebellion of 1798. Quigley had been outlawed, and Emmett had been so deeply implicated in that rebellion with his brother Thomas, who was banished, that he had found it necessary to quit the country. These emissaries soon collected around them, in Dublin, disaffected associates, amongst them, Dowdall, Redmond, and Russell. They formed a central committee, and corresponded with others in différent towns, and especially with one Dwyer, who had also been in the former rebellion, and had ever since maintained himself and a knot of desperate followers in the mountains of Wicklow. The government received, from time to time, information of the proceedings of these foolish men - Emmett being a rash youth, of only twenty- two or twenty-three years of age - but they took no precautions; and when, on the 23rd of July, the eve of the festival of St. James, these desperadoes rushed, at evening, into the streets of Dublin, armed with pikes, old guns, and blunderbusses, the authorities were taken entirely by surprise. There were from two thousand to three thousand soldiers in the Castle, but neither police, soldier, nor officer appeared till the mob had murdered colonel Brown, who was hastening to the castle to arouse the troops, and lord Kilwardine, the chief justice, whom they dragged from his carriage as it passed, and killed, along with his nephew, but, at the same time, they allowed the chief justice's daughter, who was with them, to depart. Soon after this - but not before the insurgents had severely wounded a Mr. Clarke, a manufacturer, who was riding to alarm the Castle - the soldiers appeared, and the mob fled at their very sight. The same day Russell had turned out at Belfast, and Quigley at Kildare, but with as little success. Emmett had escaped to the Wicklow mountains to join Dwyer; but, having assumed the fatal disguise of French officers, the country people, who hated the French since their appearance under general Humbert, when they had ridiculed the catholic religion, drove him and twelve of his companions back. In a short time, Emmett, Russell, Redmond, and others were all secured and executed. Dowdall escaped, with Allen and others, out of Ireland; Quigley and Stafford, one of his companions, were admitted as king's evidence, and thus escaped. The project of Napoleon had thus entirely failed, with his sacrifice of some of his leading agents.

During this year, England held that position which most properly belonged to her, and which showed how unassailable she was whilst employed in self-defence. Her fleets covered the Channel, and, at the same time, now plied in the most distant regions, for that money which for years had been wasted on helpless and ingrate continental nations, was calculated to make her on the ocean an unapproachable power. So far from permitting Buonaparte to set foot on her coasts, she continually insulted his. She entered the ports and roadsteads of Havre, St. Vallery, and other places, and brought away ships and gun-boats; she attacked Dieppe, and destroyed its batteries; she bombarded Granville, and demolished its pier, under the eyes of some of his most distinguished officers. Her fleet amounted to nearly six hundred vessels of différent kinds, and she began rapidly to recapture the colonies which she had so tamely, and without compensation, surrendered at the strange peace of Amiens. St. Lucia was retaken by commodore Hood and general Grinfield on the 22nd of June. In one day, the 30th of June, were retaken Tobago, in the West Indies, and St. Pierre and Miquelon, on the coast of Newfoundland. Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice were soon after reconquered, and Guadeloupe was invested, and destined to fall into our hands ere long.

But our military achievements in the East Indies were on a scale to throw even these successes far into the shade. Lord Wellesley, the governor-general, was entreated by the peishwa of Poonah to assist him against the other Mahratta Chiefs, Scindiah and Holkar. The peishwa had been driven out of his territory by these chiefs, aided principally by the military talents of M. Perron, a Frenchman, who had for many years entered, with several other French officers, on the fall of the Mysore power, into the service of Scindiah. He had been extremely successful, and had been rewarded with a wide territory in the Jumna; and when, in 1793, Shah Alum, the mogul, had been made prisoner, he had been consigned to the custody of M. Perron. The Frenchman had now given his aid to expel the peishwa, and lord Wellesley, in sending general Lake to restore the peishwa, gave him authority to attempt to win over M. Perron to the English interest, by very brilliant offers of proper to and distinction, for Perron was deemed avaricious. The temptation, however, failed, both with Perron and his French officers. He took the field in support of Scindian, with seventeen thousand infantry, from fifteen to twenty thousand Mahratta horse, and a numerous train of artillery.

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