湖北周观察--湖北频道--人民网

ASSASSINATION OF SPENCER PERCEVAL. (See p. 23.)

Prussia, which had remained inactive whilst Buonaparte was winning over Bavaria and Würtemberg to his interests, and while he was crushing Austria, now that she stood alone took the alarm, and complained that the French troops on the Rhine and in the Hanse Towns, which, by the Treaty of Pressburg, ought to have been withdrawn from Germany, remained. The Queen of Prussia and Prince Louis, the king's cousin, were extremely anti-Gallic. They had long tried to arouse the king to resist the French influence in Germany, to coalesce with Austria while it was time, and to remove Haugwitz from the Ministry, who was greatly inclined towards France. The Emperor Alexander professed himself ready to unite in this resistance to France, and Frederick William began now to listen to these counsels. He withdrew his minister, Lucchesini, from Paris, and sent General Knobelsdorff in his place. On the 1st of October Knobelsdorff presented to Talleyrand a long memorial, demanding that the French troops should re-cross the Rhine immediately, in compliance with the Treaty of Pressburg; that France should desist from throwing obstacles in the way of the promotion of a league in North Germany, comprehending all the States not included in the Confederation of the Rhine; and that the fortress of Wesel and those abbeys which Murat, since becoming Grand Duke of Berg and Cleve, had seized and attached to his territory, should be restored.

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On the other hand, the kings whom he had set up amongst his brothers and brothers-in-law added nothing to his power. Joseph proved a mere lay figure of a king in Spain; Louis had rejected his domination in Holland, and abdicated; Lucien had refused to be kinged at all; Murat managed to control Naples, but not to conciliate the brave mountaineers of the country to French rule. The many outrages that Buonaparte had committed on the brave defenders of their countries and their rights were still remembered to be avenged. Prussia brooded resentfully over the injuries of its queen; the Tyrol over the murder of Hofer and his compatriots. Contemptible as was the royal family of Spainthe head of which, the old King Charles, with his queen, made a long journey to offer his felicitations on the birth of the king of Rome,the Spaniards did not forget the kidnapping of their royal race, nor the monstrous treatment of the Queen of Etruria, the daughter of Charles IX. and the sister of Ferdinand. Buonaparte first conferred on her the kingdom of Etruria, and then took it away again, to settle Ferdinand in it instead of in Spain; but as he reduced Ferdinand to a prisoner, he reserved Etruria to himself, and kept the Queen of Etruria in durance at Nice. Indignant at her restraint, she endeavoured to fly to England, as her oppressor's brother, Lucien, had done. But her[22] two agents were betrayed, and one of them was shot on the plain of Grenelle, and the other only reprieved when the fear of death had done its work on him, and he only survived a few days. She herself was then shut up, with her daughter, in a convent.

Austria stood in a hesitating position. On the one hand, she felt reluctant to join the Allies and assist in destroying the throne of the Emperor's son-in-law; but at the same time she was anxious to strengthen her own position by giving more strength to her neighbour, Prussia. For this purpose Austria offered her mediation for a peace on terms that would restore Prussia to a more becoming position, and such proposals of mediation were made by the Austrian Minister to Great Britain. But these entirely failed. On the one hand, Napoleon would concede nothing, but declared that he would entirely annihilate Prussia, and would give Silesia to Austria for her assistance in the war; on the other hand, Great Britain declared that there could be no peace unless France disgorged the bulk of her usurpations. On the 23rd of June the king sent down a message to the Commons, recommending them to[301] take into consideration a separate establishment for the Prince of Wales, who had arrived at the age of twenty-one. This young man, whose whole career proved to be one of reckless extravagance and dissipation, was already notorious for his debauched habits, and for his fast accumulating debts. He was a great companion of Fox, and the gambling rous amongst whom that grand orator but spendthrift man was accustomed to spend his time and money, and therefore, as a pet of this Coalition Ministry, the Duke of Portland proposed to grant him one hundred thousand pounds a year. The king, alarmed at the torrent of extravagance and vice which such an income was certain to produce in the prince's career, declared that he could not consent to burden his people, and encourage the prince's habits of expense, by such an allowance. He therefore requested that the grant should amount only to fifty thousand pounds a year, paid out of the Civil List, and fifty thousand pounds as an outfit from Parliamentary funds. The Ministers were compelled to limit themselves to this, though the saving was merely nominal, for the debts on the Civil List were again fast accumulating, and the prince was not at all likely to hesitate to apply to Parliament to wipe off his debts, as well as his father's when they became troublesome to him. Resenting, however, the restraint attempted to be put upon him by his father, the prince the more closely connected himself with Fox and his party, and the country was again scandalised by the repetition of the scenes enacted when Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III., was the opponent of his own father, George II., and the associate of his opponents. Such, indeed, had been the family divisions in every reign since the Hanoverian succession. On the 16th of July Parliament was prorogued.

On the following evening Lord Melbourne, having explained why he resigned, said, "And now, my lords, I frankly declare that I resume office unequivocally and solely for this reason, that I will not abandon my Sovereign in a situation[463] of difficulty and distress, and especially when a demand is made upon her Majesty with which I think she ought not to complya demand, in my opinion, inconsistent with her personal honour, and which, if acquiesced in, would make her reign liable to all the changes and variations of political parties, and render her domestic life one constant scene of unhappiness and discomfort." The Whigs, therefore, returned to office, but not to power.

Stanhope appears to have done his best to break Townshend's fall. He represented to the king the high character of that minister, his real services, and the injustice and impolicy of disgracing him; that he might remove him to another office, and thus answer every purpose. He could take the chief direction of affairs out of his hands, even while appearing to promote him. He therefore advised that Townshend should, without a word of dismissal or disapprobation, be offered the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, instead of the Secretaryship of State, and to this the king consented. Accordingly Stanhope was directed to write to Townshend, and also to Secretary Methuen, and he did so on the 14th of December, conveying in most courteous terms the king's desire that he should accept the Lord-Lieutenancy, and this without a syllable of discontent on the part of his Majesty. Townshend at first refused, but on the arrival of George in London he received Townshend very cordially, and so softened him as to induce him to accept the Lord-Lieutenancy, and to do the very thing he had declared it was not[36] common honesty to doaccept the post and still remain in London, acting with the rest of the Cabinet. His political adherents, including Methuen, Pulteney, the Walpoles, Lord Orford, and the Duke of Devonshire, were contented to remain in office. The only change was that Methuen was made one of the two Secretaries along with Stanhope. It was thus imagined that the great schism in the Whig party was closed; but this was far from being the case: the healing was only on the surface. It was during this brief reconciliation that the great Triple Alliance between England, France, and Holland, was concluded.

This spirited and brilliant action had a wonderful effect on the American mind. It revived the courage of the troops, which had sunk very low after so many defeats. It inspired them and the public at large with confidence in the talents and daring of their Commander-in-Chief, who was now eulogised as another Fabius. Such was the confidence inspired, even in himself, by this success, that, being immediately joined by three thousand six hundred Pennsylvanian militia, he determined to cross the Delaware, as it was now strongly frozen over. But General Grant had already joined General Leslie at Princeton, with a strong body of British and Hessian troops; and General Howe, on hearing of the fresh spirit of the American army, had detained Lord Cornwallis, who was about to leave for England. He hastened to Princeton, and took the command of the whole force, concentrating all the troops on the Delaware shore. On the 2nd of January, 1777, he marched from Princeton for Trenton, drove in the enemy's outposts, and reached Trenton by five o'clock the same afternoon. Washington retired as he approached. The British, on arriving at the fort and bridge of the Assumpinck, found both guarded by artillery, and Washington posted on[236] some high ground beyond. Cornwallis cannonaded the bridge and forts, and his fire was briskly returned. He then encamped for the night there, intending to force the creek the next morning; but Washington did not wait for him. With his raw militia only a few days in camp, he had no chance of resisting Cornwallis's army, and yeta thaw having taken placeit was impossible to cross the Delaware. He called a council of war, and it was concluded that, from the great force of Cornwallis in front, the rear could not be very strong. It was therefore determined to make an attempt to gain the rear, beat up the enemy's quarters at Princeton, now, as they supposed, nearly deserted, and, if they could succeed, fall on the British stores and baggage at New Brunswick. Their own baggage was, accordingly, sent quickly down the river to Burlington, the camp-fires were replenished, and small parties being left to deceive the enemy by throwing up entrenchments, Washington, about midnight, silently decamped by a circuitous route towards Princeton. At dawn they encountered two out of three English regiments, which had been at Princeton, on the march. These were the 17th and 55th, hastening to join Cornwallis at Trenton. They imagined the Americans, owing to a thick fog, to be a body of Hessians; but, on discovering the mistake, a sharp fight took place, and for some time the two British regiments withstood Washington's whole force. Colonel Mawhood, the English commander, posted his force advantageously on a rising ground between the Americans and Princeton, sent back his baggage waggons, and dispatched messengers to bring up the 40th regiment, still in Princeton, with all speed. The 40th not arriving, Washington managed to force his way between the two British regiments. The 17th continued its march for Trenton; the 55th fell back upon Princeton, where the 40th, which had defended itself in the college, after losing a considerable number of prisoners, joined the 55th, and retreated upon New Brunswick.

HELIGOLAND.

Braves, with broad sail, the immeasurable sea;

None of the princes who accepted our protection benefited more than Scindiah. He was relieved from the insolence of haughty military chieftains, who commanded his armies, and left him as little free will as they left to his subjects quiet possession of their property. He was enabled to disband his vast armies, and reduce them to thirteen thousand infantry and nine thousand horse. His disbanded soldiers returned home, and became tillers of the land lately running into jungle, by which, and other influences of peace, his revenue was nearly doubled. All the districts wrested from him by the Pindarrees were restored to him; he lost only the mischievous fortress of Aseerghur. Sir John Malcolm cleared the country of the swarms of Arabs, and of Mekranees from Beluchistan, who had acquired a most formidable ascendency in the armies of the Indian chiefs; and these chiefs were informed that again to employ these mercenary ruffians, or to allow them to remain on their territories, would be regarded as a declaration of hostility by the British Government. Similar changes were introduced into the territories of the dethroned Peishwa by the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, who resided at Poonah; and by the conquest of the Poonah territory, by the treaty of Mundissoor, made by Sir John Malcolm after his great victory at Mahidpore, and by exchanges made with the Guicowar of Baroda, and other arrangements, the British dominions were now linked together in one broad and continuous expanse, from Calcutta to Bombay, and from Bombay to Madras, as by the former Mahratta war they had been established between Madras and Calcutta.

As a means of popularity, they insisted on the standing army being abolished in time of peace, on the strict limitation of placemen in Parliament, and on the return to triennial Parliaments. These were hard topics for the patriots now in power to digest. But the depression of trade continued, and no one could suggest a remedy but that of reducing taxation at the very time that all parties were zealous for the prosecution of the war. Finding no other solution to their difficulties, the public turned again to the demand of an inquiry into the administration of Walpole, hoping to lay bare in that the causes of their sufferings. Accordingly Lord Limerick, on the 23rd of March, rose and proposed a committee to inquire into the administration of Walpole, not for twenty, but for the last ten years. Pulteney not only voted, but spoke in favour of this motion, and it was carried by a majority of seven. Lord Limerick was chosen chairman, and such was the partial and vindictive spirit in which they went to work in examining papers and witnesses, that the honourable-minded Sir John Barnard, though so staunch an opponent of Walpole when in power, declared that he would no longer take part in the labours of a committee which displayed so little regard to the general inquiry, but concentrated all their efforts on the ruin of one individual.