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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 15


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Disappointed in England, general Miranda turned to the United States. Jefferson, the president, was well enough inclined to favour Miranda's scheme, but, unfortunately, at that moment, the United States were in negotiation for the purchase of Florida from Spain, as they had purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. The negotiation failed through the refusal of Spain to part with the colony, and then Jefferson was quite ready to fall into Miranda's views. The constitution of the United States, indeed, forbade all wars of conquest; the American republicans had already learned perfectly well that system of sending out Sympathisers, or, according to their more recent phrase, Filibusters, and then annexing. Jefferson, therefore, would not send a direct open expedition against Spanish America, nor was he very ready to furnish the needful funds; but he allowed Miranda to hire a ship, and collect adventurers. Had Miranda had funds, he might have carried out from New York a large armament; as it was, he was only able to hire a British armed vessel of eighteen guns, and muster in her a band of from three to four hundred sympathisers. On reaching St. Domingo he engaged two schooners, and, adding to his band, sailed thence for his native province in April. But his proceedings were already known to the Spanish governor of Venezuela, who sent out a twenty-gun brig and a sixteen-gun schooner to meet him. These vessels encountered him, at the end of April, near Puerto Cabello, and Miranda's two schooners were captured, but he himself escaped in the Leander to Trinidad. There, he was openly patronised by the English commanders of the ships of war; numbers of men flocked to his standard from the different islands, and, on the 2nd of August, Miranda landed at Vela de Coro, in the Caracas. But his little army was not important enough to inspire his countrymen with confidence in the result; on the contrary, alarmed at the idea of being involved in a hopeless attempt, they fled up the country; and Miranda, seeing that nothing could then be done, returned to Trinidad, and deferred his plans to a future day. The expedition having thus totally failed, on the 1st of December, nine months after the Leander sailed from New York, president Jefferson issued a proclamation against Miranda's enterprise, and stated that he had, in May, issued a proclamation to that effect; but this Was not true. He had, indeed, issued a proclamation against the Leander for having killed an American citizen by a shot fired from it, and had prohibited the said Leander and her consorts from again entering the waters of the United States - a very- different thing from prohibiting the expedition.

During this year, Buonaparte made another attempt to recover the mastery of St. Domingo. Dessalines was now emperor, having a court full of black nobles and marshals, an exact parody of Napoleon's. A French squadron, under admiral Leissegues, consisting of five ships of the line, two frigates, and a corvette, managed to escape the English fleets, and, on the 20th of January, to anchor in the road of St. Domingo. They had just landed a body of troops, when Sir John Duckworth made his appearance with seven sail of the line and four frigates. Leissegues slipped his cables, and endeavoured to get out to sea, but the wind did not favour him; Sir John Duckworth came up with him, and, on the 6th of February, attacked and defeated him. Though Sir John had the superiority in number of vessels, the French vessels were, some of them, much larger ones; and one, the Imperial, was reckoned the largest and finest ship of their navy - a huge three-decker, of three thousand three hundred tons, and a hundred and thirty guns. Yet, in three hours, Sir John had captured three of the French line of battle ships; the other two ran on the rocks, and were wrecked. One of these was the gigantic Imperial. Nearly the whole of her crew perished, five hundred being killed and wounded before she struck. One of the frigates which escaped was afterwards captured by an English sloop of war in a very battered condition from a storm, in addition to the fight.

Another French fleet, under admiral Willaumez, left Brest at the same time with that of Leissegues, bound for the Cape of Good Hope, to assist" the Dutch troops in defending it. The English, however, having taken it before his arrival, he went cruising about and picking up such stray British merchantmen as he could meet with betwixt the continents of Africa and South America. He then stood away for the West Indies, hoping to be able to destroy the English shipping in the ports of Barbadoes. Facing in that, he made for Martinique, which was still in the possession of the French. Willaumez had but six sail of the line, and the English admirals, Sir John Borlase Warren, who had the same number and a frigate, and Sir Richard Strachan, who had seven sail of the line and two frigates, were in eager quest of him. The British commanders, being aware that Willaumez had prince Jerome Buonaparte with him in command of the Veteran, were especially anxious to capture the brother of the French emperor; but Jerome was equally anxious that they should not, and he therefore gave Willaumez the slip in the night of the 31st of July, and set all sail for Europe. It was wonderful that Jerome did not encounter some of our men-of-war, and so reach England instead of France; but not only did he escape, but managed to fall in, on the 10th of August, with a British merchant fleet, convoyed only by an armed vessel of twenty-two guns, whilst he had seventy-four. He captured and burnt six of the traders; /but, on the 26th of August, when approaching the French coast, he was in imminent jeopardy, for he fell in with three British men-of-war, an eighty-gun ship, and two thirty-six- gun frigates. By good fortune, he managed to outsail them, and escape into Concarneau Bay. His brother, the emperor, though excessively angry at his running away from Willaumez, proclaimed Jerome's exploits as something marvellous. He was stated to have encountered two English men-of-war, and made them run, and to have burnt nine merchantmen, instead of six. But Jerome had no taste for the sea, and these glories never tempted him back again to it.

Meanwhile, Willaumez, who had beaten about in search of the stray prince, was attacked by a terrible tempest, and then chased by Strachan in the Chesapeake. Of his six ships of the line he brought home only two, and was obliged to burn the British merchantmen that lie had taken.

Another admiral was still less fortunate. This was Linois, who had been beaten off in his attack on a British India fleet of merchantmen, in the states of Malacca, some time before, and who had been cruising far and wide in pursuit of English prizes, whilst a number of English commanders were eagerly hunting after him. He was now returning home, when, in sight of the port of Brest, with only two of his ships remaining, admiral Sir John Borlase Warren stood in his way, and compelled him to surrender both of them.

In September, commodore Sir Samuel Hood captured five frigates, which issued from Rochefort, laden with troops, stores, arms, and ammunition for the French forts in the West Indies. But the most daring feats of bravery were performed by captain lord Cochrane, afterwards lord Dundonald, who, had he been properly estimated by the government, would have equalled or exceeded the services of Nelson. Early in this year he sent a number of boats up the Gironde, not far from Bourdeaux, to endeavour to seize and bring away two large brig corvettes, the nearest of which lay twenty miles up the river, protected by two heavy land batteries. The sailors successfully boarded and brought away the first vessel, having only three men wounded in the affair; the other corvette lay much higher up the river, but, hearing the firing, it fell down rapidly to the assistance of its companion vessel; but the English seamen beat it back, and carried away their prize in the face of crowds of armed militia, and greater crowds of people along the shores.

Whilst this daring action was in progress, lord Cochrane was not idle. He attacked with his single frigate one sixteen-gun and two twenty-gun corvettes, and drove them on shore. He then proceeded to Aix, to reconnoitre a strong fleet anchored in the roads, under cover of strong batteries. His little frigate, the Pallas, a twelve-pounder of thirty-two guns, was attacked by a forty-four-gun frigate and three brig corvettes, but they were compelled to retire without driving him from his station. lie then landed part of the crew of the Pallas, who destroyed some signal-posts, which gave notice of all the movements of the British cruisers. One of these signal-posts was defended, but in vain, by a hundred French militia. He next attacked a battery of three thirty-six pounders, and a garrison of fifty men, spiked the guns, blew up the magazine, and flung the shot and shells into the sea. The frigate Minerva, of forty- four guns, and three corvettes, then ran out of harbour with studding sails and royals set, and commenced a simultaneous attack on the Pallas; but Cochrane soon reduced the Minerva almost to a wreck, and was on the point of boarding her, but two other frigates hastened out to he- aid, and the Pallas, considerably damaged herself, was obliged to haul off. Such were the audacious doings of the British men-of-war in every quarter of the world, and in these lord Cochrane stood always conspicuous for his un- paralleled daring and adroitness.

The victory of Napoleon over Austria had wonderfully increased his influence with those German states which formed the confederation of the Rhine. Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Hesse Darmstadt, and other of the small princes, especially those on the right bank of that river, were more than ever bound to him, and were prepared to follow him in any wars that he might make against other countries, or even their own fatherland. Whilst some of them received crowns for their unnatural subserviency, several smaller princes were sunk into the condition of mere nobles. The military contingents which he exacted from them amounted to sixty thousand men, and these he soon had in a State of discipline and efficiency, very différent to that which they exhibited under the old German federation. Under Napoleon they behaved as well as any of his troops, showing that they needed only leaders of activity and talent to make good soldiers of them. Thus France superseded Austria in its influence over all the south-west of Germany.

Fêted on his way from the overthrow of Austria by the German princes of the Rhine, as though he had relieved them of some foreign oppression, instead of having humbled their brother Germans and imposed a foreign tyranny, Buonaparte had passed through applauding German cities, under a succession of triumphal arches, on his way to Paris. There he was received with general acclamation in January of this year. His return was compared to that of one of the victorious emperors of Rome, and it was proposed by Carion-de-Nisas, the same who had proposed his being made emperor, that a bronze column should be erected to his honour in the Place Vendôme, on which his statue should be placed. This was decreed, and the column was formed from two thousand cannon taken from the Austrians, and the whole of the victories over Austria were represented, in bas-reliefs, running round it from bottom to top. But it was not Austria alone which felt the effect of this triumph of Napoleon. Secure in his elevation through the passion of the French for military glory, lie proceeded to complete that absolutism on which lie had as yet only ventured in part. He reduced the Senate and the tribunate to mere machines dependent on his will; he reorganised the bank of France, making it to suit his own convenience; he passed fresh and more Stringent decrees against the introduction of English manufactures; he swept away the remains of the republican calendar, restoring that of St. Gregory; and he abolished the republican Pantheon, giving back to that church the name of St. Geneviève. He still continued it as the burial- place of the great men of France, but he undertook to say who were those great men. Henceforth they were the dignitaries of his new empire, the grand officers of State, and members of the legion of honour. He admitted men of letters and the arts; but then, such men must have made themselves his adulators, or they would be more likely to find sepulchres in Guiana or Cayenne. As for the abbey of St. Denis, the republicans had destroyed the monuments of the ancient dynasty of France there, and he now refitted it for the reception of the new race of emperors.

These emperors, he resolved, should be regarded as the successors of a new Charlemagne. He therefore made a new distribution of honours, and created feudal fiefs to be held under him and his posterity. Fifteen dukedoms, not of France, but of the French empire, were created, and territories assigned in the conquered countries; and, whilst his marshals and ministers were made dukes, his especial favourites or instruments were made princes. To notice these arrangements more particularly: Soult became duke of Dalmatia; Bessières, of Istria; Duroc, of Friuli; Champagny, duke of Cadore; Victor, duke of Belluno; marshal Moncey, duke of Conegliano; Mortier, of Treviso; general Clarke, duke of Feltri; Maret, his minister of State, duke of Bassano; Caulincourt, duke of Vicenza; and Savary, his deputy-murderer of the duke d'Enghien, duke of Rovigo. His sister Pauline, widow of general Leclerc, who perished in St. Domingo, he had now married to the Roman prince Borghese, and he gave her the Italian duchy of Guastalla. Murat, who had married another sister, he made grand- duke of Berg and Cleves, and marshal Berthier he made prince of Neuchatel. These territories, taken from Prussia, Bavaria, and Switzerland, he conferred, with all their rights and privileges, on these generals. The duchy of Parma he conferred on Cambacérès, and Piacenza on general Lebrun. Fouché he made duke of Otranto; marshal Lannes, duke of Montebello; marshal Massena, duke of Rivoli; Augereau, duke of Castiglione; Talleyrand he made prince of Benevento; and Bernadotte, prince of Pontecorvo. As ail these estates, if not "the honours, lay outside France, it was evident that, on any decided reverse of fortune, they would ail be as quickly lost as they were thus found. Within France, Buonaparte laid the foundations of hereditary aristocracy again, by creating majorats, or entail of property, on eldest sons, though contrary to the most deeply-struck principles of the révolution - that of the equal distribution of estates amongst families. Nor did he stop here. He had created dukes and princes, and resolved also to create kings. These were to be his brothers, who were to be placed on half the thrones of Europe, and set there as vassal monarchs doing homage and service to him, the great emperor of France. He expected them to be the obedient servants of France, or, rather, of himself, and not of the countries they were ostensibly set to govern. He began by making his brother Joseph king of Naples, in March, and, in June, he made his brother Louis king of Holland. He told them that they must never forget that their first duty was due to France and to himself. When Louis afterwards abdicated the throne of Holland, and Napoleon set up his son Louis, he repeated this injunction more forcibly, telling him to remember that his first duty was to the emperor, the second to France, and that his duties to the people over whom he reigned must come after these. He intended to make his brother Jerome king of Westphalia; but Jerome had married a Miss Paterson, the daughter of an American merchant, and he must have this marriage broken, and a royal one arranged, before he could admit him to this regal honour: he must also wrest part of this territory from Prussia.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 15

Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII >>>>
Lord Sidmouth
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Coronation of Napoleon the First
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Conscript
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Napoleon entering Milan
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City of Trieste
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The Battle of Austerlitz
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French soldier
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Birth-place of Lord Nelson
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Plan of the Battle of Trafalgar
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Lord Nelson mortally wounded
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View of Peschiera.
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All the Talents
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A Brazilian forest
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Statue of Napoleon
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Jerome Buonaparte
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Sir John Duckworth
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Trial of Palm
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