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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 9


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But the royal family put no faith iii these professions; they resolved not to wait the arrival of the French, but to muster all the money and valuables that they could, and escape to their South American possessions. Whilst these preparations were making in all haste, the British traders collected their property, and conveyed it on board British vessels. The inhabitants of the British factory, so long established in Lisbon, had quitted it on the 18th of October, amid the universal regret of the people. The ambassador, lord Strangford, took down the British arms, and went on board the squadron of Sir Sidney Smith, lying in the Tagus. On the 27th of November the royal family, amid the cries and tears of the people, went on board their fleet, attended by a great number of Portuguese nobility; in all, about one thousand eight hundred Portuguese thus emigrating. The prince regent accompanied them, sensible that his presence could be of no service any longer, The weather was as gloomy as the occasion, and a more affecting scene could not well be witnessed. The British ambassador put the squadron at their service, to guard them on the voyage, and pledged his country never to recognise any government which the usurper might establish in Portugal. The fleet of the royal emigrants was still in the Tagus, under the safe protection of Sir Sidney Smith's men-of-war, when Junot and his foot- sore troops entered Lisbon, on the 1st of December. He was transported with rage when he saw their departing Bails, for he had received the most imperative injunctions to secure the person of the prince regent, from whom Napoleon hoped to extort the cession of the Portuguese American colonies. They were now safe from his grasp, and Junot trembled at the idea of his master's fury at the escape. In his desperate march to accomplish this object, his troops, who were chiefly conscripts, little more than boys, entered Lisbon in the most lame, worn-out, and haggard condition.

Junot and his officers made, however, good use of the present. He took possession of the house of the richest merchant in Lisbon, and, though allowed one thousand two hundred crusadoes a-month for his table, he compelled the landlord to supply his establishment on the most extravagant scale of splendour. His officers freely followed his example, and the whole of Lisbon became a scene of the most audacious extortion and license The people, roused to fury by their wrongs, rose against their oppressors, and shed, the blood of some of them. But this was only to bring double vengeance on themselves. The Portuguese troops, who might favour their countrymen, were disbanded. Junot declared that the prince regent and royal family, having abandoned the country, had ceased to reign, and that the emperor Napoleon willed that it should henceforth be governed, in his name, by the general-in-chief of his army. This proclamation of the 2nd of February set aside at once the conditions of the treaty of Fontainebleau; the imaginary princedom of Godoy was no more heard of, and the kingdom erected for the king of Etruria remained a mere phantom at the will of Buonaparte. The property of the royal family, and of all who had followed them, was confiscated; a contribution of four millions five hundred thousand pounds sterling was laid on a people of less than three millions, and, as there was not specie enough to pay it, plate and every species of movable property were seized in lieu of it, without much regard to excess of quantity. The officers became money-brokers and jobbers in this property, much of which was sent to Paris for sale, and the whole unhappy country was a scene of the most ruthless rapine and insult.

Whilst these abominations were perpetrating in Portugal, Buonaparte had proceeded to Italy to prosecute other parts of his one great design. He determined, in the first place, to shut the trade of England out of all the Italian ports, as he had now, in imagination, done in nearly all the other ports of Europe. Accordingly, at Milan, on the 17th of December, he issued his celebrated decree, which took it» name from that city, as his northern decree had taken its name from Berlin. Henceforward the Berlin and Milan decrees acquired a great and twin notoriety. To counteract the ordinances of the Berlin decree, which forbade any ship of any nation to be admitted to continental ports without certificates of origin - that is, without certificates showing that no part of their cargo was of British produce - various Orders in council had been issued by England, permitting all neutral vessels to trade to any country at peace with Great Britain, provided that they touched at a British port, and paid the British duties. Thus, neutrals were placed betwixt Scylla and Charybdis. If they neglected to take out British certificates they were captured at sea by the British cruizers; if they did take them, they were confiscated on entering any continental port where there were French agents. This led to an enormous system of bribery and fraud. The prohibited goods were still admitted by false papers, with respect to which the French officers, men of the highest rank, were well paid to shut their eyes. All the ports of Italy were now subjected to this system, and Buonaparte immediately seized a great number of American vessels, on the ground that they had complied with the English Orders in council. It might be thought that America would so far resent this as to declare war on France, but Buonaparte calculated on the strength of American prejudices against England and for France at that time; that the United States would rather declaré war against England, which, by its Orders in council, brought them into this dilemma. The ports of the pope alone now remained open, and these Buonaparte determined forthwith to shut.

But, in the first place, he announced to the queen of Etruria, whom he had hitherto allowed to retain her Italian territory in right of her infant son, that she must give that up, and accept the kingdom of Northern Lusitania, in Portugal. This princess had an ominous persuasion that her son would never possess, or, if he possessed, would never retain this Northern Lusitania; but she had no alternative, and, in the month of June following, the kingdom of Etruria was converted into three new departments of France. This having been arranged, this setter-up and puller-down of kingdoms proceeded to compel the pope to adopt his system. Pius VII. did not seem disposed to comply. He had no quarrel with England; had no advantage, but much the contrary, in depriving his subjects of the articles of British traffic; besides that, amongst the numerous adherents of the church in Ireland, he would create great prejudice. But all these reasons had no more weight with the haughty egotism of Buonaparte than so much air. He forced his troops into the papal territories; threw a strong body into Ancona on the Adriatic, and another into Civita Vecchia, and at the mouth of the Tiber. The pope pro- tested against the violent invasion of his principality, but in vain; Buonaparte insisted that he should declaré war against England. Pius then consented to close his ports, but this did not satisfy Napoleon; he demanded that war should be declared, pronouncing himself the heir of Charlemagne, and therefore suzerain of the pope, and he demanded compliance. On the pope continuing obstinate, Buonaparte forced more troops into his states, and sent general Miollis to take possession of Rome. This accordingly was done in February, 1808. Miollis entered Rome, announcing that he was only on his march to convey six thousand men to the support of king Joseph Buonaparte in Naples; but he seized the castle of St. Angelo, took the command of the papal troops, and acted as the sovereign of the city and country. The pope shut himself up in the Quirinal palace, and the French surrounded him with troops and cannon, and held him prisoner to compel him to comply. The cardinals were all ordered to withdraw from Rome - those who came from the territory of Naples on the summons of king Joseph, and the rest at the command of Napoleon - with the assurance that, if they did not go willingly, they would be forcibly put out by the soldiers. More troops were marched into the State, and the Marches, or Adriatic provinces of the pope, were forcibly seized, and added to Napoleon's kingdom of Italy. The pope, though shut up in the Quirinal and deprived of his cardinals, remained unshaken, and protested solemnly against this violent usage and robbery by the man whom he had consented to crown and to make a concordat with. When the magistrates and clergy of the Marches were called on to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon, they refused almost unanimously, and were driven out of the state, or shut up in prisons and fortresses in the Alps and Apennines. This most unparalleled oppression and injustice excited murmurs and insurrections amongst the people, and these were silenced in blood. The despotisms and aggressions of Buonaparte had now assumed an arbitrary violence, and an extent such as had never been seen in any age in Europe, and its violence foreboded its brief duration.

The British parliament opened January 31st, 1808, amid the deep sensation occasioned by these audacious doings of the continental despot. The royal speech, delivered by commission, dwelt, as its great topic, on this remarkable state of things; on the height to which the power of Buonaparte had risen on the continent, and on the fact that he had arrayed nearly the whole of it against us. Regret was expressed that by his victories he had been able to draw away our ally the emperor of Russia, and that the Orders in council issued to counteract his system of British exclusion had occasioned disputes betwixt us and the United States, which, however, ought not to induce us to relax our maritime regulations so long as that exclusion continued. Congratulations were expressed at the buoyancy of trade and foreign commerce, notwithstanding these gigantic efforts of our determined enemy. It was regretted that the aggressive schemes of Buonaparte had compelled us to seize by force the fleet of Denmark; and an unshaken confidence was expressed that by a steady perseverance in the contest our success, under Providence, was certain. The addresses were carried in both houses without a division.

On the 5th of February Spencer Perceval moved that the orders in council should be considered in the committee of ways and means. This produced a great debate on the policy or impolicy of these orders. The opposition severely blamed the rape of the fleet of Denmark, and contended that the orders in council were unjust, and as impolitic as unjust, doing more injury to our commerce than the Berlin and Milan decrees themselves. Ministers replied that they were absolutely necessary to throw back on the issuer of the exclusive decrees the consequences of those decrees. If he hoped to supply the countries over which he ruled by confiscating all vessels bearing British produce, it was necessary to deprive him of supplies from other quarters; that neutrals had no right to complain of our regulations when they were ready to comply with those of Napoleon. Lord Grenville declared that the consequence of these orders in council, if not relaxed towards America, would assuredly lead to a war with the United States. This produced some modification as it regarded the States, which was embodied in a bill intended to give time for some satisfactory arrangement with the States; and a bill was also carried through both houses regulating the orders in council as they affected neutrals.

The budget exhibited all the unabated expenditure consequent on the great struggle on the continent. The army was actually increased from a hundred and nine thousand to a hundred and eighty-two thousand men; the number of seamen voted was a hundred and thirty thousand. With volunteers and militia, our armed population amounted to three hundred thousand men. The foreign troops in our pay were somewhat increased, and, on the motion of lord Castlereagh, a new force was brought into existence, that of the local militia, to consist of two hundred thousand men, to be called out and drilled for twenty-eight days every year. An infraction of Windham's army regulations was proposed by lord Castlereagh, that of allowing men again to enlist for life, and this, notwithstanding the earnest opposition of Windham, was carried.

To meet all these establishments supplies were voted to the amount of forty-eight millions seven hundred thousand pounds; a new eight million pounds was added to the debt, and additional taxes to the amount of three hundred thousand were imposed. The prospects of the year were essentially warlike. The invasion of Spain and Portugal, and the menaced invasion of Sicily, which was withheld from the grasp of Napoleon entirely by our aid, and the dangers which encompassed the king of Sweden, our ally, presented a prospect of full employment for our troops and navy.

Amongst the lesser topics of parliament, the indefatigable Mr. Banks again introduced his bill against granting in reversion, or for joint lives, with benefit of survivorship. Failing in carrying it as a permanent measure, he introduced a bill to the same effect, but limited in its operations to one year, and this passed.

The state of Ireland underwent discussion. There still appeared much disaffection there, and there were still hopes of French invasion cherished by the disaffected. Lord Hawkesbury observed that Irish disaffection was not without its advantages. They always received the first knowledge of the designs of Buonaparte from the disaffected in Ireland; from that quarter came the first whispers of the secret articles in the treaty of Tilsit; of the intended seizure by Napoleon of the fleets of Denmark and Portugal; of the intended coalition of Denmark with France; and all these disclosures had proved true. If Ireland, therefore, was likely to be attacked by France Ave should certainly hear of it from the disaffected in that country, who appeared to be particularly in the confidence of the great disturber of nations.

The opposition made a call for papers, and Whitbread contended, from a view of them, that ministers were greatly to blame for not having accepted of the mediation of the emperor of Russia with France, and that there was nothing in the state of affairs on the continent to prevent a satisfactory peace. Perhaps, at no time had the chance of any satisfactory negotiation been so small. The motion was negatived by a very large majority. The chief pressure of the war was evinced by petitions for peace from the cotton-spinners of Lancashire, which spoke of heavy taxation and suffering. But this cry was destined to become much louder before it arrested much attention.

The charges against the administration of the marquis Wellesley in India were again gone into, and Sir John Anstruther not only defended his policy, but moved that the measures of the noble marquis had been dictated by an ardent desire to benefit both India and this country, and this resolution was carried by a hundred and eighty-nine against twenty-nine. Sir Arthur Wellesley, who had been implicated in the charges against his brother, the marquis, was not only exempt from any blame by this decision, but was highly complimented by the speaker, in February, when returning thanks to the general officers who had commanded at the bombardment of Copenhagen. He alluded in the most eulogistic terms to the services of Sir Arthur, both in India, Portugal, and Denmark, and intimated that the country looked to him for yet more signal achievements. Parliament was prorogued on the 4th of July, and the lord chancellor, in delivering the speech, dwelt on the critical situation of Spain from the invasion of Napoleon, and stated that we must no longer regard that country as an enemy, but as an ally.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 9

Hall of the council
Hall of the council >>>>
Chateau of Fontainebleau
Chateau of Fontainebleau >>>>
Napoleon extricating artillery
Napoleon extricating artillery >>>>
Turkish vessels
Turkish vessels >>>>
Attack on Seraglio
Attack on Seraglio >>>>
General Murat
General Murat >>>>
Napoleon and Alexander
Napoleon and Alexander >>>>
General Junot
General Junot >>>>
Ancona
Ancona >>>>
Borghese
Borghese >>>>
Royal shield of Spain
Royal shield of Spain >>>>
Ferdinand of Spain resigning his crows
Ferdinand of Spain resigning his crows >>>>
Dangan Castle
Dangan Castle >>>>
Sir Arthur Wellesley
Sir Arthur Wellesley >>>>
Marshal Soult
Marshal Soult >>>>
The defiles of Corunna
The defiles of Corunna >>>>
Burial of Sir John Moore
Burial of Sir John Moore >>>>

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