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One of the events of the early part of this year was the capture of the Dutch island of Cura?oa, by a squadron under Captain Brisbane; but by far the most prominent naval transaction of the year was the seizure of the Danish fleet off Copenhagen—a proceeding which occasioned severe censures on Britain by Buonaparte and the Continental nations under his domination. The Opposition at home were equally violent in the outcry against this act, as in open violation of the laws of nations, Denmark then being nominally at peace with us. But, though nominally at peace, Denmark was at heart greatly embittered against us by our bombardment of its capital in 1801, and it was quite disposed to fall in with and obey the views of Napoleon, who was now master of all Germany, at peace with Russia through the Treaty of Tilsit, and, therefore, able any day to overrun Denmark. Buonaparte was enforcing his system of the exclusion of Britain from all the ports of the Continent, and it was inevitable that he would compel Denmark to comply with this system. But there was another matter. Denmark had a considerable fleet and admirable seamen, and he might employ the fleet greatly to our damage, probably in endeavouring to realise his long-cherished scheme of the invasion of England; at the least, in interrupting her commerce and capturing her merchantmen. The British Ministers were privately informed that Buonaparte intended to make himself master of this fleet, and they knew that there were private articles in the Treaty of Tilsit between Russia and France, by which he contemplated great changes in the North, in which Denmark was believed to be involved. Upon these grounds alone the British Government was justified, by the clearest expressions of international law, in taking time by the forelock, and possessing themselves of the fleet to be turned against them; not to appropriate it, but to hold it in pledge till peace. Grotius is decisive on this point:—"I may, without considering whether it is manifest or not, take possession of that which belongs to another man, if I have reason to apprehend any evil to myself from his holding it. I cannot make myself master or proprietor of it, the property having nothing to do with the end which I propose; but I can keep possession of the thing seized till my safety be sufficiently provided for." This view would fully have justified the British Government, had nothing further ever become known. But subsequent research in the Foreign Office of France has placed these matters in their true light. The Treaty of Tilsit contains secret articles by which Alexander was permitted by Napoleon to appropriate Finland, and Napoleon was authorised by Alexander[540] to enter Denmark, and take possession of the Danish fleet, to employ against us at sea. These secret articles were revealed to the British Government. No man at this time was so indignant as Alexander of Russia at our thus assailing a power not actually at war. He issued a manifesto against Britain, denouncing the transaction as one which, for infamy, had no parallel in history, he himself being in the act of doing the same thing on a far larger scale, and without that sufficient cause which Britain could show, and without any intention of making restitution. We only seized a fleet that was on the point of being used against us, and which was to be returned at the end of the war; the horrified Czar invaded Sweden, while at peace, and, without any declaration of war, usurped a whole country—Finland, larger than Great Britain. Russia, in fact, had brought Denmark into this destructive dilemma by its insidious policy; but, having seized Finland, in five years more it committed a still greater robbery on Denmark than it had done on Sweden, by contracting with Bernadotte to wrest Norway from Denmark, and give it to Sweden.Progress of the War on the Continent—Lethargic Condition of Politics—Battle of Laufeldt—Capture of Bergen-op-Zoom—Disasters of the French on the Sea and in Italy—Negotiations for Peace—Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle—Conditions of Peace—Peace at Home—Commercial Treaty with Spain—Death of the Prince of Wales—Popular feeling against the Bill for Naturalising the Jews—Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act—Foundation of the British Museum—Death of Pelham—Newcastle's Difficulties—Failure of Robinson—Approaching Danger from America—A State of Undeclared War—The Battles of Boscawen and Braddock—George's Anxiety for Hanover—Subsidiary Treaties against Prussia—Pitt's Opposition—Debate in the House of Commons—Danger of England—French Expedition against Minorca—The Failure of Byng—Newcastle resigns—Attempts to Form a Ministry—Devonshire Succeeds—Weakness of the Ministry—Coalition against Prussia—Alliance with England—Commencement of the Seven Years' War—Frederick Conquers Saxony—Gloominess of Affairs—Court-Martial on Byng, and his Death—Dismissal of Pitt—The Pitt and Newcastle Coalition—Failure of the attack on Rochefort and of that on Louisburg—Convention of Closter-Seven—Frederick's Campaign; Kolin, Rosbach, and Lissa—Successes elsewhere—Wolfe and Clive—Battle of Plassey—Capture of Louisburg—Ticonderoga and Fort Duquesne—Attacks on St. Malo and Cherbourg—Victory of Crefeld—Frederick's Campaign—Commencement of 1759; Blockade of the French Coast—Pitt's Plans for the Conquest of Canada—Amherst's and Prideaux's Columns—Wolfe before Quebec—Position of the City—Wolfe fails to draw Montcalm from his Position—Apparent Hopelessness of the Expedition—Wolfe Scales the Heights of Abraham—The Battle—Successes in India—Battle of Quiberon—Frederick's Fortunes—Campaign of Ferdinand of Brunswick—Battle of Minden—Glorious Termination of the Year—French Descent on Carrickfergus—Attempt of the French to Recover Quebec—Their Expulsion from North America—Frederick's Fourth Campaign—Successes of Ferdinand of Brunswick—Death of George II.

Fox was very indignant, and made no scruple of attributing the conduct of the king, not to mere report, but to fact. "There is," he said, "a written record to be produced. This letter is not to be put in the balance with the lie of the day;" whereupon he pulled from his pocket a copy of the note said to have been written by the king to Lord Temple. When he sat down, Mr. Grenville rose and stated that he had taken down the words read as the king's note, and had shown them to his relative, Lord Temple, who had authorised him to say that such words had never been made use of by him. But Fox demanded whether Lord Temple had not used words to that effect, and Grenville was silent. Fox continued in a very fierce strain, denouncing back-stairs lords and bedchamber politicians, and declared that the best-meant and best-concerted plans of Ministers were subject to the blasting influence of a villainous whisper. He added that he could not continue in office any longer consistently either with his own honour or the interests of the nation. He felt that he was goaded to it, and upbraided for not resigning instantly; but a very honourable majority of that House stood pledged to a great measure, and Ministers were equally bound not to abandon the affairs of State in the midst of so much anarchy. These last words, and the division, which was nearly two to one in favour of Ministers, left it doubtful, after all, whether Fox and his colleagues would resign. As such language, however, could not be used by Ministers with impunity, and a dissolution of the Cabinet was probable, Erskine moved a resolution, pledging the House to persevere in the endeavour to remedy the abuses in the government of India, and declaring "that this House will consider as an enemy to this country any person who shall presume to advise his Majesty to prevent, or in any manner interrupt, the discharge of this important duty." All strangers were excluded, but it was ascertained that the motion was severely censured as an invasion of the king's prerogative; yet the resolution was carried by one hundred and forty-seven votes against seventy-three.Meer Cossim, for a time, served their purpose. They obtained, as the price of his elevation, a large sum of money and an accession of territory. But he was not a man of the obsequious temper of Meer Jaffier. He removed his court from Moorshedabad to Monghyr, two hundred miles farther from Calcutta. He increased and disciplined his troops; he then made compulsory levies on the English traders, from which they had always claimed exemption. There was a loud outcry, and a determined resistance on the part of the English; but Meer Cossim not only continued to compel them to pay the same revenue dues as others, but imprisoned or disgraced every man of note in his dominions who had ever shown regard to the English. It was clear that he chafed under the impositions of his elevators, and meant to free himself from them and their obligations together. It was in vain that the English Council in Calcutta uttered warning and remonstrance; there was the most violent controversy between the English factory at Patna and Meer Cossim. Vansittart hastened to Monghyr, to endeavour to arrange matters with Cossim. He consented to the payment, by the English, of the inland revenue to the amount of nine per cent.; and on his part he accepted a present for himself from Cossim of seven lacs of rupees, or upwards of seventy thousand pounds. But on this occasion, though Vansittart had pocketed this large bribe from Meer Cossim, the council in Calcutta, who got nothing, voted the terms most dishonourable, and sent a fresh deputation to Cossim at Monghyr. This deputation was headed by Mr. Amyott; but as it went to undo what Vansittart had just done, Cossim, who saw no end of exactions, and no security in treating with the English, caused his troops to fall on the unfortunate deputation as they passed through Moorshedabad, and they were all cut to pieces. Here was an end to all agreement with this impracticable man, so the Council immediately decreed the deposition of Meer Cossim, and the restoration of the more pliant puppet, Meer Jaffier.General Cartaux arrived and took up his position in the villages around Toulon. He was reinforced by General Doppet, from the Rhone, and General Dugommier, from the Var; and the latter had in his corps-d'armée a young lieutenant of artillery, who contained in his yet unknown person the very genius of war—namely, Napoleon Buonaparte. Cartaux was a man who had risen from the ranks; Doppet had been a physician in Savoy; and Dugommier was acting on a plan sent from the Convention. Buonaparte suggested what he thought a much superior plan. "All you need," he said, "is to send away the English; and to do that, you have only to sweep the harbour and the roadstead with your batteries. Drive away the[423] ships, and the troops will not remain. Take the promontory of La Grasse, which commands both the inner and outer harbour, and Toulon will be yours in a couple of days." On this promontory stood two forts, Equilette and Balaquier, which had been much strengthened by the English. It was resolved to assault these forts, and batteries opposite to them were erected by the French under Buonaparte's direction. After much desperate fighting, vast numbers of troops being pressed against the forts, that of Balaquier was taken. This gave the French such command of the inner harbour, that Lord Hood called a council of war, and showed the necessity of retiring with the fleet, and thus enabling the Royalists to escape, who would otherwise be exterminated by their merciless countrymen. This was agreed to, and it was resolved to maintain the different forts till the ships had cleared out. The Neapolitans behaved very ill, showing no regard for anything but their own safety. They held two forts—one at Cape Lebrun, and the other at Cape Lesset; these, they said, they would surrender as soon as the enemy approached. They made haste to get their ships and men out of harbour, leaving all else to take care of themselves. The Spaniards and Piedmontese behaved in a much nobler manner. They assisted willingly all day in getting on board the Royalists—men, women, and children. All night the troops began to defile through a narrow sallyport to the boats under the guns of the fort La Malaga. This was happily effected; and then Sir Sidney Smith, who had recently arrived at Toulon, and had volunteered the perilous office of blowing up the powder-magazines, stores, arsenals, and the ships that could not be removed, began his operations. He succeeded in setting fire to the stores and about forty ships of war that were in the harbour.

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Before he withdrew, the king, who retained his high opinion of his political wisdom, consulted him on the constitution of the new Cabinet. Walpole recommended that the post of First Lord of the Treasury, including the Premiership, should be offered to Pulteney, as the man of the most undoubted talent. If he should refuse it, then that it should be given to Lord Wilmington, who, though by no means capable of directing affairs by his own energy, was of a disposition which might allow them to be conducted by the joint counsel of his abler colleagues. The king consented that the Premiership should be offered to Pulteney, though he hated the man, but only on this condition, that he pledged himself to resist any prosecution of the ex-Minister. Pulteney declined the overture on such a condition, for though he said he had no desire to punish Walpole, he might not be able to defend him from the attacks of his colleagues, for, he observed, "the heads of parties, like those of snakes, are carried on by their tails." The king then sent Newcastle to Pulteney, and it was agreed to allow Wilmington to take the post of First Lord of the Treasury. Carteret thought that this office was more due to him, but Pulteney declared that if Wilmington were not permitted to take the Premiership he would occupy it himself, and Carteret gave way, accepting the place of Secretary of State, with the promise that he should manage in reality the foreign affairs. In[80] all these arrangements the king still took the advice of Walpole, and Newcastle was instructed to again endeavour to draw from Pulteney a promise that he would at least keep himself clear of any prosecution of the late Minister. Pulteney evaded the question by saying that he was not a bloody or revengeful man; that he had always aimed at the destruction of the power of Walpole, and not of his person, but that he still thought he ought not to escape without some censure, and could not engage himself without his party.Peel has been even more severely censured than the Duke of Wellington for the part he took on this memorable occasion. He wrote a long letter to the Duke, in which he earnestly[283] protested against taking charge of the Emancipation Bill in the House of Commons, offering, at the same time, to give it his earnest support. He also offered to resign, as a means of removing one obstacle to the adjustment which the interests of the country demanded. The letter concluded as follows: "I do not merely volunteer my retirement at whatever may be the most convenient time, I do not merely give you the promise that out of office (be the sacrifices that I foresee, private and public, what they may) I will cordially co-operate with you in the settlement of this question, and cordially support your Government; but I add to this my decided and deliberate opinion that it will tend to the satisfactory adjustment of the question if the originating of it in the House of Commons and the general superintendence of its progress be committed to other hands than mine." And in his "Memoirs" he remarks: "Twenty years have elapsed since the above letter was written. I read it now with the full testimony of my own heart and conscience to the perfect sincerity of the advice which I then gave, and the declarations which I then made; with the same testimony, also, to the fact that that letter was written with a clear foresight of the penalties to which the course I resolved to take would expose me—the rage of party, the rejection by the University of Oxford, the alienation of private friends, the interruption of family affections. Other penalties, such as the loss of office and of royal favour, I would not condescend to notice if they were not the heaviest in the estimation of vulgar and low-minded men, incapable of appreciating higher motives of public conduct. My judgment may be erroneous. From the deep interest I have in the result (though now only so far as future fame is concerned), it cannot be impartial; yet, surely, I do not err in believing that when the various circumstances on which my decision was taken are calmly and dispassionately considered—the state of political parties—the recent discussions in Parliament—the result of the Clare election, and the prospects which it opened—the earnest representations and emphatic warnings of the chief governor of Ireland—the evils, rapidly increasing, of divided counsels in the Cabinet, and of conflicting decisions in the two Houses of Parliament—the necessity for some systematic and vigorous course of policy in respect to Ireland—the impossibility, even if it were wise, that that policy should be one of coercion—surely, I do not err in believing that I shall not hereafter be condemned for having heedlessly and precipitously, still less for having dishonestly and treacherously, counselled the attempt to adjust the long litigated question, that had for so many years precluded the cordial co-operation of public men, and had left Ireland the arena for fierce political conflicts, annually renewed, without the means of authoritative interposition on the part of the Crown."It was in these grave circumstances that Lord North, on the 5th of March, 1770, brought forward his bill, based on the terms of Lord Hillsborough's letter to the American governors, to repeal all the import duties except that on tea. This was one of those half-and-half measures which never succeed; it abandoned the bulk of the duties, but retained the really obnoxious thing—the principle. Grenville very truly told them that they should retain the whole, or repeal the whole. Lord Barrington and Welbore Ellis, in their dogged Toryism, protested against repealing a single item of them; and the Opposition, Barré, Conway, Meredith, Pownall, etc., as earnestly entreated them to remove the duties altogether, and with them all cause of irritation. The motion for leave to bring in the bill was carried by two hundred and four votes to one hundred and forty-two. During the debates it was shown that, during the financial year, the American tea duties had produced—not the calculated ten or twelve thousand, but less than three hundred pounds! For such a sum did our legislators risk a civil war. As a last effort on this question at this time, the Opposition, on the 1st of May, called for the correspondence with America; and, on the 9th, Burke moved nine resolutions on the general topic. They were not only negatived, but a similar motion, introduced into the Peers by the Duke of Richmond, met the same fate.

The foreign relations of England at this period were, on the whole, satisfactory—as might be expected from the fact that our foreign policy was committed to the able management of Lord Palmerston, who, while sympathising with oppressed nationalities, acted steadily upon the principle of non-intervention. Considering, however, the comparative smallness o£ our naval and military forces, the formidable military powers of Russia and France created a good deal of uneasiness, which the king expressed in one of his odd impromptu speeches at Windsor. On the 19th of February there was a debate in the House of Commons on Eastern affairs, in which the vast resources and aggressive policy Of Russia were placed in a strong light. On that occasion Lord Dudley Stuart said, "Russia has 50,000,000 subjects in Europe alone, exclusive of Asia; an army of 700,000 men, and a navy of eighty line-of-battle ships and frigates, guided by the energy of a Government of unmitigated despotism, at whose absolute and unlimited disposal stand persons and property of every description. These formidable means are constantly applied to purposes of territorial aggrandisement, and every new acquisition becomes the means of gaining others. Who can tell that the Hellespont may not be subject to Russia at any moment? She has a large fleet in the Black Sea, full command of the mouths of the Danube, and of the commercial marine cities of Odessa and Trebizond. In three days she may be at Constantinople from Sebastopol; and if once there, the Dardanelles will be so fortified by Russian engineers that she can never be expelled except by a general war. She could be in entire possession of these important straits before any expedition could be sent from this country, even if such a thing could be thought of against the enormous military force at the command of Russia. That Russia is determined to have the Dardanelles is evident from the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, by which she began by excluding the ships of all other nations. The effect of this treaty was to exclude any ship of war from these straits, except with the permission of Russia. Russia might at any moment insist on the exclusion of our ships of war from the Dardanelles—nay, she has already done so; for when Lord Durham, going on his late embassy to the Court of St. Petersburg, arrived at the Dardanelles in a frigate, he was obliged to go on board the Pluto, an armed vessel without her guns, before he could pass the straits; and when he arrived at Sebastopol no salute was fired, and the excuse given was that they did not know the Pluto from a merchant vessel. But both before and since Lord Durham went, Russian ships of war, with their guns out and their streamers flying, passed through the Black Sea to the Dardanelles, and again through[412] the Dardanelles to the Black Sea. Russia has now fifteen ships of the line and seven frigates in the Black Sea. Sebastopol is only three days' sail from the Hellespont. Turkey has no force capable of resisting such an armament; the forts of the Hellespont are incapable of defence against a land force, for they are open in the rear. Russia might any day have 100,000 men in Constantinople before England or France could even fit out expeditions to defend it."

THE PALACE OF FONTAINEBLEAUOxford had sent round a circular to every Whig lord in or near London who had ever belonged to the Privy Council, warning them to come and make a struggle for the Protestant succession. This was one of the most decided actions of that vibratory statesman, and was, no doubt, prompted by his desire to avenge his recent defeat by Bolingbroke, and to stand well at the last moment with the House of Hanover. In consequence of this, the Jacobite Ministers found themselves completely prostrate and helpless in the midst of the strong muster of Whigs. Even the aged and infirm Somers made his appearance, and threw the weight of his great name into the scale. Prompt measures were taken to secure the advent of the new king. Four regiments were ordered to London; seven battalions were sent for from Ostend, where[23] Marlborough was said to have secured their zealous fidelity to the Elector; a fleet was ordered to put to sea to prevent any interruption of his transit, and to receive him in Holland. An embargo was laid on all ports, and Anne the next morning having sunk again into lethargy, the Council ordered the Heralds-at-Arms and a troop of the Life Guards to be in readiness to proclaim her successor. Mr. Craggs was sent express to Hanover to desire the Elector to hasten to Holland, where the fleet would be ready to receive him. The Council also sent a dispatch to the States General, to remind them of the fact—which for a long time and to this moment the English Government appeared itself to have forgotten—that there was such a thing as a treaty, and that by it they were bound to guarantee the Protestant succession. Lord Berkeley was appointed to the command of the fleet, and a reinforcement was ordered for Portsmouth. A general officer was hastened to Scotland, where much apprehension of a movement in favour of the Pretender existed; and, in short, every conceivable arrangement was made for the safe accession of the Protestant king.

QUATRE BRAS.

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The events on land were very different. Abercrombie, like General Braddock, advanced with all the careless presumption of a second-rate general. The grand object was to reduce Fort Ticonderoga, built on a neck of land between Lakes George and Champlain. At the landing, Lord Howe, one of the best officers, was killed, but they drove back the French, and advanced on the fort, which was of great strength, defended by a garrison of four thousand men, commanded by the Marquis de Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadians, himself. Montcalm had raised a breastwork eight feet high, and made in front of it a barricade of felled trees with their branches outwards. Abercrombie, with a foolish confidence, advanced right upon this barricade, without waiting for the coming up of his artillery, which was detained by the badness of the roads. With a reckless disregard of the lives of his men, he commanded them to attempt to storm these defences, and after fighting with the usual courage of Englishmen for several hours, and two thousand of them being slaughtered, it was found that their efforts were useless, and they were ordered to retire. Brigadier Forbes, who had been sent against Fort Dupuesne, an attempt so disastrous to both Washington and Braddock, executed his task with the utmost promptitude and success. Forbes took possession of it on the 25th of November, and, in compliment to the great Minister under whose auspices they fought, named it Fort Pitt, since grown from a solitary fort into Pittsburg.[See larger version][469]

[See larger version]Besides those already mentioned as distinguished in various branches of literature, there was a host of others whom we can only name. In theology there were Warburton, South, Horsley, Jortin, Madan, Gerard, Blair, Geddes, Lardner, Priestley; in criticism and philology, Harris, Monboddo, Kames, Blair, Sir William Jones, Walpole; in antiquarian research, Hawkins, Burney, Chandler, Barrington, Stevens, Pegge, Farmer, Vallancey, Grose, Gough; in belles-lettres and general literature, Chesterfield, Hawkesworth, Brown, Jenyns, Bryant, Hurd, Melmoth, Potter, Francklin, etc.; in mathematical and physical science, Black, the discoverer of latent heat, Cavendish, the discoverer of the composition of water, Priestley, Herschel, Maskelyne, Horsley, Vince, Maseres, James Hutton, author of "The Huttonian Theory of the Earth," Charles Hutton, Cullen Brown, the founder of the Brownian theory of medicine, John and[179] William Hunter, the anatomists, Pennant, the zoologist, etc.; discoverers of new lands, plants, and animals, Commodore Byron, Captains Wallis, Cook, Carteret, Flinders, etc., Dr. Solander, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Green.

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