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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 3

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Yet, under such unpromising circumstances, Mr. Banks brought in his bill aimed at Spencer Perceval, which the dissolution had put a stop to. It was intended to prevent the crown granting places by reversion and for life. This passed the commons quietly enough, because it was sure of its quietus in the lords. There it was briskly assailed by lord Arden, the eider brother of Perceval, and himself in possession of the lucrative office of registrar of the admiralty, also granted by reversion, and with a second reversion to Spencer Perceval, in addition to his life-grant of the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster. This bill was thrown out, but Banks then introduced another, restraining the crown from granting any office in reversion before the end of six weeks after the meeting of next session of parliament, and this was allowed to pass; for the mischief, as far as it regarded Spencer Perceval, was already done. Parliament was then prorogued on the 14th of August.

The expeditions planned by the Grenville ministry against different distinct points were, this year, attended by disgraceful results, and the news of their failure came in to enable the new ministry to throw additional odium upon them. The news of the seizure of Buenos Ayres by Sir Home Popham and general Beresford, had induced the late cabinet to overlook the irregular manner in which their enterprise had been undertaken. They sent out admiral Sir C. Stirling to supersede Sir Home Popham, who was to be brought before a court-martial, but he took out with him a fresh body of troops, under general Auchmuty. These troops lauded at Monte "Video on the 18th of January, and, after a sharp contest against six thousand Spaniards, and the loss of five hundred and sixty English killed and wounded, the place was taken on the 2nd of February. At the same time, brigadier-general Craufurd had been dispatched with four thousand two hundred men to conquer Chili. The Grenville ministry seemed to have an idea that the Spaniards were so weary of their own government, that the English had only to appear in any of their immense colonies with a handful of men to receive their surrender. But, though these colonies might be tired of the maladministration and ceaseless exactions of the Spanish home government, it was one thing to desire independence, and another to be subjected to a foreign yoke. Had the English government only wished to liberate the Spanish South American colonists, and to seek their recompense in the trade that would naturally have sprung up with them, they had only to support Miranda and other Spanish revolutionists to have succeeded, and to have won the honour of being benefactors to oppressed nations. But no such liberal ideas animated them, and they were soon taught their folly in the exasperation of the colonies which they thought of winning so facilely. The news of the recapture of Buenos Ayres reached London in time to enable them to overtake Craufurd at the Cape, and to order him to abandon the voyage to Chili, and to hasten to Buenos Ayres, to support our forcer there. Both Craufurd and Auchmuty were brave and able generals, but they were only brigadiers, and the Grenville government could not judge of a man's talent, except through his rank. They could not, like Chatham, see the man of genius in the pour lieutenant; they, therefore, dispatched a full general to take the chief command at Buenos Ayres. This full general proved a very empty one on trial. He was a general Whitelocke - a man standing well with the king and court, who had been promoted without the necessity of much real service. It has been said that there was but another general more utterly unfitted for any responsible command in Europe, and that was the Austrian Mack. Indeed, Whitelocke, in almost the only opportunity which lie had had, which was some years before in St. Domingo, was accused of having shown that Whitelocke and white feather were synonymous, and ought to have been then and there cashiered. Yet, such was the man appointed to take the command at Buenos Ayres over the heads of really effective officers! Whitelocke arrived at Monte Video towards the end of May, and found the English army, with what he brought, amounting to nearly twelve thousand men, in fine conditions. With such a force Buenos Ayres would have soon been reduced by a man of tolerable military ability. But Whitelocke seems to have taken no measures to enable his troops to cross directly to that city, and carry it by a sudden and brilliant assault. Instead of providing himself with boats or rafts to convey his army across the river Chiuelo, near the town, he had not even really ascertained that the bridge over which general Beresford had passed in June of last year was destroyed. He therefore went up the country, looking for a ford, and sent major-general Gore with the light troops to seek for one in another place. Gore soon found one, only two miles above the bridge, and crossed there, but Whitelocke, instead of waiting to learn his success, had gone northwards with the rest of the troops, and whilst he might have been across and made a rush on the city, Gore was waiting for him in danger of being surrounded and cut off by the Spaniards, who were dow grown numerous, and still acting under the directions of the clever Frenchman, Linières. Whitelocke went on leading his men through bogs and thickets, till they were nearly worn out, and it was not till the 3rd of July that he managed to join major-general Gore, who had taken possession of a commanding elevation overlooking the city. The great hope of success lay in the rapidity with which the assault was made: all this was now lost. The rain poured in torrents, and the men had no shelter, and were half starved for the want of provisions. All this time the Spaniards had been putting the city into a State of defence. They had armed the whole male population, and posted them at the windows and on the flit roofs of the houses, behind the parapets; they had barricaded the streets, and placed batteries of cannon to sweep them with grape-shot. It would have been only prudent for the general to have considered whether, under the circumstances, he would make the attack, and whether he might not be able to reduce it by blockade. His vessels were too far off, owing to the shallow water, to render him any service in the storming. His men were famished and half drowned with the deluges of rain, from which they had no protection; but there was little hope of reducing the place by bombardment, for the houses were constructed with but little wood, and that the incombustible Brazil timber. The walls, too, were of such soft brick that balls and shells could pass through them as through mud walls, without making any considerable breaches and fractures. After another day was lost in deciding on the mode of proceeding, Whitelocke determined to attempt to carry the place by storm, destructive as tint mode must have appeared to any one, the streets and squares being commanded by from fifteen to twenty thousand men, posted at windows and on roofs, and two hundred cannon ready to clear the streets.

Still, on the morning of the 5th of July, the order was issued to storm. The troops advanced in three columns from different sides of the town, headed severally by generals Auchmuty, Lumley, and Craufurd. Whitelocke said that it could be of no use to delay the advance towards the centre of the town by attacking the enemy under ewer of their houses; it could only occasion the greater slaughter. The command, therefore, was to dash for ward with unloaded muskets, trusting alone to the bayonet. Much blame was cast on Whitelocke for this order, but there seems strong reason in it, considering the wholly uncovered condition of the troops against a covered enemy, and that the only chance was for each division to force its way as rapidly as possible to certain buildings where they could ensconce themselves, and from whence they could direct an attack of shot and shells on the Spaniards. General Auchmuty, accordingly, rushed on against every obstacle to the great square - Plaza de Toros, or Square of Bulls - took thirty- two cannons, a great quantity of ammunition, and six hundred prisoners. Other regiments of his division succeeded in getting possession of the church and convent of Santa Catalina, and of the residencia, a commanding post; but brigadier-general Lumley was not so fortunate lie headed two regiments, the 36th and the 88th. They advanced under a most murderous lire from the grape-shot in the narrow streets, and the musketry from the windows and housetops. The 88th was compelled to yield; and the 36th, greatly reduced, and joined by the 5th - which had taken the convent of Santa Catalina - made their way to Sir Samuel Auchmuty's position in the Plaza de Toros, dispersing a body of eight hundred Spaniards on their way and taking two guns.

Meantime, general Craufurd had made his way to the Dominican convent, had secured it, and assailed the enemy from the top of the building; but he was soon compelled - by showers of grape and musket-balls - to retire from the top. He had lost a great number of men; major Trotter, one of his best officers, was killed; and colonel Parke, who commanded the left division of his brigade, was compelled to surrender, and five or six thousand men drew up before Craufurd's post with cannon to drive in the gates. As he was quite separated from the rest of the forces, and perceived that the firing had ceased, he inferred that the assault had failed, and therefore capitulated at four o’clock in the afternoon. A.11 this time Whitelocke had kept himself in safety outside of the place, and though, in his defence, he said that he had pushed for ward the dragoons to ascertain the situation of Craufurd, the fact was that, during the remainder of the evening and the following night, Craufurd was left without any knowledge of the fate of the rest of the storming force. Whitelocke pleaded that it was the failure of Craufurd which compelled him to surrender tin city, for, of the three objects aimed at, the other two had been accomplished, and that the town might have been commanded from the Plaza de Toros and the residencia, had Craufurd stood firm at the Dominican. But no means had been effectually taken to let Craufurd know that, and the next morning Linières informed Whitelocke of the surrender of part of Lumley's division and the whole of Craufurd's, and recommended him to capitulate, for, in case of his refusal, he would not guarantee the lives of the prisoners from the exasperation of the people. He promised that, on his agreeing to retire, he should be allowed to remove his troops without molestation, and receive back not only the prisoners now made, but those taken with general Beresford the former year.

Whitelocke, at first, made demur, representing the advantages he had already gained, but the threats used against the prisoners, he stated, and the persuasion of himself and the other generals, such was the animosity of the whole colony against the English for their attempt at possessing themselves of it, that it would be impossible to conquer it, at length induced him to accept the offered terms. Rear admiral Murray, who, on the 7th of July, signed the treaty with Whitelocke and Linières, also gave it as his opinion that the prosecution of the enterprise was useless, since it was clear that the inhabitants of the colony did not wish for the dominion of the British. The conditions of the treaty were - that general Whitelocke's army, with its arms, equipage, and stores, was to be conveyed across the La Plata to Montevideo; his troops to be supplied with provisions; and that at the end of two months the English were to surrender Monte Video, and retire from the country.

Such was the humiliating result of the attempt on Buenos Ayres. That that colony was not to be conquered by a force of twelve thousand was so clear, that the ministry who attempted it were deserving of the severest censure for their ignorance, as well as for their illiberal rapacity. They might have assisted Miranda to free the colony, but they wanted to seize it for themselves, and they were justly punished. As it was, the most Condensed odium fell on the general, and nothing could be more disgraceful and incompetent than his conduct; but, then, theirs was the fault for choosing such a general. Nothing could exceed the fury of all classes at home against Whitelocke on the arrival of the news of this disgraceful defeat. It was reported that lie had made the men take their flints out of their guns before sending them into the murderous streets of Buenos Ayres; and, had ho arrived with his despatches, his life would not have been safe for an hour. There was a general belief that the court was protecting him from punishment; and, in truth, the delays interposed betwixt him and a court-martial appeared to warrant this. It was not till the 28th of January that he was brought before such a court at Chelsea Hospital, when he was condemned to be cashiered, as wholly unfit and unworthy to serve his majesty in any military capacity whatever.

Another expedition, planned by the Grenville ministry, produced no favourable result. This was to Constantinople. Buonaparte had sent thither the artful and audacious Sebastiani, and general Andreossi, to destroy the English influence, and to engage the sultan in war with Russia, so as to act as a most effectual diversion of the "Russian forces, whilst he himself was engaged with the czar in the north. The French agents had completely succeeded in their plans against Russia. The sultan assumed an attitude which compelled Alexander to keep a strong army on the Lower Danube, thus weakening his force against Napoleon, and distracting his attention. There appeared every probability that the English influence would be equally swamped in Turkey by the French, and it was determined to send a naval squadron to Constantinople to overawe the sultan Selim, and to compel the removal of the French intriguants. Had this expedition been committed to such a man as Sir Sidney Smith, there is little doubt but that it would have been entirely successful; but it was altogether most miserably mismanaged, and therefore failed. To have been effectual it should have been sudden. There should have been no previous negotiation about it; the ships should have appeared off Constantinople, and then and there the ambassador should have stated his terms and have insisted on them.

Instead of this, our ambassador, Mr. Arbuthnot, commenced his negotiations for the strengthening of the English alliance in conjunction with Russia, and for the restriction of the French influence. But, besides England, Russia had no advocates with the Porte, for her designs were too notorious in Turkey. The victories of Buonaparte now in Austria and Prussia gave the French great eclat with the Turks, and Sebastiani made the utmost of this advantage. He was zealously supported by Spain and Holland. In the midst of these negotiations, Admiral Louis appeared off Constantinople with one ship of the line and one frigate. It should have been a whole fleet, and the effect would have been decisive. As it was, there was immediately a rumour that a great English fleet was on the way, and accordingly the Turks were in a hurry to strengthen their fortifications, and make every arrangement for defence. They were ably assisted in these measures by Sebastiani, Andreossi, and a number of French engineer officers. The Russian ambassador, Italinsky, took his departure, not thinking himself safe, and Mr. Arbuthnot soon began to fear for the security of his own person, and got away by requesting the captain of the English frigate to invite himself and the whole diplomatic staff on board. This was done, and suddenly, the whole being on board, the frigate fell down the sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles unmolested by the batteries, and anchored off the island of Tenedos. Here Arbuthnot reopened negotiations, stating his reasons for withdrawing to this distance, but expressing still the desire of England to conclude amicable terms with the Porte. That the Turks did not want to come to an open rupture with England had been sufficiently evident by their permitting admiral Louis to ascend the Dardanelles with vessels of war, contrary to existing treaties. The sultan, therefore, sent Feyzi-Effendi, a Mussulman of high rank, to treat with Arbuthnot on the Dardanelles. Arbuthnot's plan was to await the time for the arrival of the English fleet, which the French had already declared was on the way, and with which a member of the English embassy had foolishly threatened the Porte. Feyzi-Effendi, who was more favourable to the English alliance than the French, was extremely easy, and conceding about delays; but the French, who had taken care to hasten to the spot, were vehemently urgent for him to come to an instant decision. M. de Lascours, Sebastiani's aide-de-camp, urged Feyzi- Effendi to strengthen his batteries at the mouth of the Dardanelles, assuring him that the English would soon be there in great force; but Feyzi replied that it was not written in the book of fate that the English would come. However, on the 10th of February Sir John Duckworth appeared off the Dardanelles, and, joining his squadron with that of admiral Louis, the English fleet now consisted of eight line-of-battle ships, two frigates, and two bombs. But on the 14th, the Ajax, one of the men-of-war, took fire, and blew up, killing two hundred and fifty of the people on board. They had then to wait till the 19th for a breeze that would carry them through the straits. The British ships passed the batteries under a brisk fire, without replying, and, about half-past nine in the morning, the squadron came abreast of the batteries and fortifications of Kelidil-Bahar and Sultanie-Kalessi, which guard the narrowest parts of the straits from the opposite shores of Europe and Asia, there not more than a mile and a quarter apart. These were commanded by the capitan-pasha and Feyzi-Effendi, who had suddenly awaked out of his fatalistic dream that the English would not come. From both forts the squadron was saluted by a heavy fire, to which it replied in such style that the forts were soon deserted, in spite of all the exertions of the French to keep the Turks at their posts. A little beyond the Castle of Abydos, on the Adriatic side, was lying a s mall Turkish squadron, consisting of a G4-gun ship of the line, four frigates, four corvettes, two brigs, and two gunboats. Whilst admiral Duckworth pursued his course toward Constantinople, Sir Sidney Smith, the second in command, who ought to have been first, was left with about half a dozen ships to attack this squadron. One of the brigs cut its cable, and made all haste for Constantinople, to carry the news; and the English admiral seems to have taken no pains to pursue and stop it. Sir Sidney soon destroyed, or drove on shore, all the Turkish vessels except one corvette and one gunboat, which were captured. The vessels which drove on shore were set fire to and exploded, and the gallant Sir Sidney, who had done all this work in less than an hour, threw a few shells to disperse some Turkish soldiers, horse and foot, who had gathered on the hills, and then sent on shore lieutenant Mark Oakes and his marines, from the Pompeii, who drove the few remaining Turks from the fort, and spiked its thirty-one guns. All this had been done in admirable style, for there was a man at work who seldom did things by halves. The whole loss of the English in doing what the Turks thought impossible was tell killed and seventy-seven wounded. A gross neglect, however, had been committed by Duckworth, or, rather, by Arbuthnot, in not recalling Berto-Pisani, who had been engaged as dragoman in the negotiations with Feyzi-Effendi. He was left on shore at the village of the Dardanelles, to the mercy of the Turks, and was in the greatest peril of his lift from the enraged Turks. He escaped death, but was sent prisoner of war to Brusa, and afterwards to Kutaiah, in the interior of Asia Minor, where he suffered a miserable captivity till the peace between Turkey and England. Feyzi-Effendi lost his head on the charge of treason, and the capitan-pasha, though he saved his life, lost his office and property.

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