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


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On the coasts of Italy, as in various other quarters of the world, our naval flag asserted its supremacy. Buonaparte was endeavouring to make Venice a great naval port for the 'Mediterranean. He had built a number of small armed vessels there, and at length he produced a fine 74-gun ship at the docks of Malamocca, within a few miles of Venice. With a crew of eight hundred and fifty men, chiefly Italians and Dalmatians, this new ship, the Rivoli, ventured out to sea, and was standing over for Pola, a port of Istria, when captain Talbot, of the 74-gun ship the Victorious, descried her on the 21st of February, 1812, only three days after quitting port. The Rivoli was accompanied by three brigs and two gun-boats; the Victorious by an 18-gun brig, the Weazle, commanded by captain Andrew. There was a desperate fight, in which the crews of the Italian vessels fought undauntedly; but the Rivoli was compelled to surrender, having lost nearly half her crew in killed and wounded. Both ships were dreadfully shattered; most of their masts shot away, or irreparably damaged. The Victorious had twenty-seven killed, and about one hundred wounded. The Weazle did not lose a man. The lesser craft managed to escape.

From skirmishing at sea, we had now come to direct war with the people of North America. From the period of the American colonists obtaining their independence of this country, they retained a peculiar animus against the mother country. We have seen that, in the war by which that independence was achieved by the aid of France, Holland, and Spain, which all combined to attack us on sea and land, the Americans displayed no traces of a magnanimity which usually accompanies bravery. They resorted to many dishonourable practices, amongst which was the breach of contract in retaining prisoners from the army of Sir John Burgoyne. The same spirit continued to animate them afterwards. It was natural to suppose that their success would have the usual effect of making them forget enmity when the cause of it was gone by; but this was not the case. In ail our contests with revolutionary France, they rejoiced over any disasters which befell us, and were silent in the hour of our victories. Though they were bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and our population was pouring over to swell their numbers, they displayed towards us a hostility that no other nation, France excepted, had ever shown. There were not Wanting thousands in England only too ready to praise them for their heroic spirit, but this elicited no generous response on their parts. The praises of Europe, not excepting England herself, seemed to have carried them off their feet, and produced in them a spirit of boasting, in which not even Gascony could equal them; and this characteristic remains pre-eminently theirs, above all other nations, to this day.

But it was not to England only that this want of generosity was shown. No people rejoiced more vehemently, none, indeed, so much, but quite the contrary, over the fall and execution of Louis XVI. of France, the one monarch of Europe who had been their great benefactor, without whose powerful aid they would have fought and struggled in vain, and who had, in fact, lost his crown and his head, and his empire to his family, by sending his soldiers to learn republicanism amongst them. There were feasts and public rejoicings in the United States to commemorate the death of Louis, who was, in fact, the martyr of America. What was equally extraordinary, whilst they exulted in the French republic, they followed with an equal admiration the career of Buonaparte, who crushed that republic, and raised up a despotism opposed in its principles to all the political professions of Americans. But it was the idea that he was born to humble and, perhaps, blot England from the list of nations, which served to render Napoleon so especially the object of their unbounded eulogies. His victories were celebrated nowhere so vociferously as in the United States, through the press, the pulpit, and in general oratory. With them he was the man of destiny, who was to overthrow all kings but himself, and especially drive Great Britain from her dominion of the seas.

During the republic of France, and in the worst times of Robespierre, the French had their minister, M. Genet, in the United States, who excited the democrats to acts of hostility against England, and gave them French authorities to seize and make prizes of English-vessels at sea, though they were nominally at peace with England. And though Washington, then president, protested against these proceedings, the great body of the people were against him, and were supported in that spirit by Jefferson, who was secretary of state. When Jefferson became president, in 1801, and Maddison his secretary of state, the hatred to England was carried to its extreme, and the friendship of Buonaparte was cultivated with the utmost zeal. When Jefferson was a second time president, in 1807, he violently resisted our right of search of neutral vessels, thus playing into the hands of Buonaparte and his Berlin decree, in the hope of carrying on a great trade with the European continent at our expense. Out of this arose the affair of the Leopard and the Chesapeake off the capes of Virginia, in which the Chesapeake, refusing to allow a search for English deserters, was attacked and taken. This put the whole of the democracy of America into a raging fury, though the boarding of the United States war-sloop, the Hornet, in the French port of L'Orient, for he same purpose, was passed over without a murmur. To prevent such collisions, Canning, on the part of the British government, issued orders that search of war-ships should be discontinued. This, however, did not prevent Jefferson from making proclamations prohibiting all English men-of-war entering or remaining in American ports; and the utmost indignities were offered to all the officers and crews of our men-of-war who happened to be lying in American harbours. Moreover, Jefferson issued, in December, 1807, an embargo against all American vessels quitting their own ports, because, if, at sea, they did not submit to be searched to ascertain whether they were carrying goods to French ports, they were treated as hostile by England, were attacked, and seized. This was in retaliation of Buonaparte's Berlin decree, and made necessary by it. On the other hand, Buonaparte seized any American or other vessel entering into any port of Europe under the power of France, which had submitted to search. To prevent this certain seizure of trading vessels, the embargo was issued, and all merchant vessels of all nations were prohibited entering American ports. A more suicidal act than this could not be conceived, and the people of the United States soon felt and complained loudly of the consequences. In 1809, Madison succeeding Jefferson in the presidency, and Buonaparte having now rendered matters worse by his Milan decree, in addition to his Berlin one, abolished the general embargo with all nations except France and England, and declared that, too, was at an end, whenever either or both of these nations withdrew - one its decrees, and the other its orders in council. But in 1810 Madison declared that France had withdrawn its decrees so far as America was concerned; though this was notoriously untrue. Numbers of American vessels continued to be seized in French ports, though the United States government dared not to complain, nor did they ever recover any compensation from Napoleon; it was from Louis Philippe that they first obtained such compensation, and, curiously enough, through the friendly intervention of England.

To produce a better tone of feeling in America, the English government had done ail in its power, except to annul the orders in council. It put up with many insults and violations of neutrality. It sent Mr. Foster as envoy to the United States, to endeavour to adjust all differences; but in vain. This continued thus till 1812, when, on the 20th of May, Mr. Russell, the American chargé-d'affaires, presented lord Castlereagh a copy of an instrument by which France had, on the 28th of April, abrogated its Berlin and Milan decrees so far as they related to American vessels. To show an equal liberality, England, on the 23rd of June, revoked its orders in council so far as concerned America, on condition that the United States also revoked its non- intercourse act. But this had no effect on the government of America, which had already concluded a secret treaty with France, and was making every preparation for the invasion of our Canadian colonies. The Americans had the most profound idea of the stability of Buonaparte, and could not conceive that the expedition that he was now preparing against Russia would prove his overthrow. The Americans had long been extremely adulatory to the Russian government; for, says Sir Augustus Foster: - " Strange to say, they have always had a leaning affection to the most absolute of all governments, and have been publicly, as well as individually, assiduous in courting the good graces of the autocrat."

But they expected that Buonaparte would crush Russia altogether, and would rule unopposed over all Europe; that the government of England was bankrupt, and that they might assail her with impunity. Accordingly, all activity was used in getting ready all kinds of ships to send out as privateers, calculating on a plentiful spoil of English traders in the waters along the American coast and amongst the West Indian Isles, before they could be put upon their guard. At the same time, on the 14th of April, they laid an embargo on all American vessels, so as to keep them at home; and on the 18th of June the president announced to congress that the United States and Great Britain were in an actual state of war. There was a studied ambiguity in this declaration; it did not candidly take the initiative, and declare that the United States declared war against England, but that the two countries were, somehow or other, already in a state of war.

But this declaration did not issue without a violent debate in congress, where the moderate party declared that the interests of the country were sacrificed to a mischievous war-spirit, and in the east and north of the States there was raised a loud cry of severance, as there had been in the south when Jefferson had laid his embargo on the American vessels - the early indications of that great rupture of the union which is now carried out. They complained bitterly that if, as was now alleged, the French emperor had abrogated his Berlin and Milan decrees in favour of America as early as the 2nd of March, 1811, why was this not communicated to England before the 20th of May, 1812? And when England had long ago declared that she would rescind her orders in council when such a notification could be made to her, accompanied by a repeal of the American non-intercourse act; and when she did immediately rescind her orders in council on this condition, why should there be all this haste to rush into war with Great Britain? They complained bitterly that, though Buonaparte was professed to have abrogated his decrees as early as November, 1810, he had gone on till just lately in seizing American ships, both in the ports of France, and by his cruisers at sea. The state of Massachusetts addressed a strong remonstrance to the federal government, in which they represented the infamy of the descendants of the pilgrim fathers co-operating with the common enemy of civil liberty to bind other nations in chains, and that at the very moment that the European peoples were uniting for their violated liberties.

But the condition of Canada was very tempting to the cupidity of Madison and his colleagues. We had very few troops there, and all the defences had been neglected, in the tremendous struggle going on in Europe. At this moment, it appeared especially opportune for invading the Canadas from the states, as England was engaged, not only in the arduous struggle in Spain, but its attention was seriously occupied in watching and promoting the measures preparing in Russia, in Sweden, and throughout all Germany, against the general oppressor. At such a moment the Americans - professed zealots for liberty and independence - thought it a worthy object to filch the colonies of the state which, above all others, was maintaining the contest against the universal despot. They thought that the French Canadians would rise and join the allies of France against England. The American government had accordingly, so early as 1811, and nearly a year previous to the declaration of war, mustered ten thousand men at Boston, ready for this expedition; and long before the note of war was sounded, they had called out fifty thousand volunteers. Still, up to the very moment of declaring war, Madison had continually assured our envoy that there was nothing that he so much wished as the continuance of amicable connections betwixt the two countries.

As he made these professions, he was, from the very commencement of the year 1812, and nearly six months before the avowal of hostilities, drawing the invading force nearer to the frontiers near Detroit. General Hull had a body of two thousand five hundred men ready for the enterprise, well supplied with artillery and stores; and scarcely was the declaration of war made, when he hastened over the frontier line and seized on the British village of Sandwich. There he issued a bragging proclamation, calling on the oppressed Canadians to abandon the despotism of kingship, and become free citizens of free America. To meet the invasion, the British had in Canada only about four thousand regulars, and the militia might number as many more. To make worse of the matter, the commander-in-chief, Sir George Prevost, was a very inefficient officer. But major-general Brock sent orders to the British officers at fort St. Joseph to attack the American port of Michilimachimac, which he did on the 17th of July, a month after the American declaration of war. The place was taken, with sixty prisoners and seven pieces of artillery. This raised the courage of the Indians in that quarter, who had long thirsted for revenge of the continual injuries received from the Americans, and they called on their different tribes to arm and support the British. At the news of the capture of Sandwich by Hull, Brock sent colonel Procter to fort Amherstburg to operate against him. He also followed quickly himself, and found Procter besieging Hull in fort Detroit, to which he had retreated across the. border. By the 10th of August he compelled Hull to surrender with his two thousand five hundred men and thirty pieces of artillery. Not only fort Detroit and a fine American vessel in the harbour were taken, but, by the capitulation, the whole of the Michigan territory, which separated the Indian country from Canada, was ceded to us, much improving our frontier.

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

Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales >>>>
Travelling in Catalonia
Travelling in Catalonia >>>>
City of Murcia
City of Murcia >>>>
The Battle of Albuera
The Battle of Albuera >>>>
Lucca
Lucca >>>>
Venta
Venta >>>>
Cathedral of Tarragona
Cathedral of Tarragona >>>>
Marshal Ney
Marshal Ney >>>>
Storming of the Fortress Ciudad Rodrigo
Storming of the Fortress Ciudad Rodrigo >>>>
Palermo
Palermo >>>>
Arsenal
Arsenal >>>>
Emperor Alexander I
Emperor Alexander I >>>>
View of the city of Moscow.
View of the city of Moscow. >>>>
Destruction of Moscow
Destruction of Moscow >>>>
Travelling in Russia.
Travelling in Russia. >>>>
Grille of the Kremlin
Grille of the Kremlin >>>>
Grand Square of the Kremlin
Grand Square of the Kremlin >>>>
Return of the French army
Return of the French army >>>>

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