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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 Copenhagena 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 countryFinland, 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.[340]given out. Total

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At length the firing mutually ceased, but the Russians did not quit their position; it was the French who drew off, and their outposts, during the following night, were alarmed by the Russian cavalry. The Russians had fifteen thousand killed and thirty thousand wounded; the French ten thousand killed and above twenty thousand wounded, and of these latter very few recovered, for they were destitute of almost every hospital necessary, even lint. The Russians made one thousand prisoners and the French about two thousand. The loss of guns on either side was nearly equal. Had the battle been resumed the next day it must have gone hard with the French; but Kutusoff was not willing to make such another sacrifice of his men, and he resumed the policy of De Tolly and made his retreat, continuing it to Moscow in so masterly a manner, that he left neither dead, nor dying, nor wounded, nor any article of his camp equipage behind him, so that the French were at a loss to know where he had really gone. On the 12th they learned, however, that he had retreated to Moscow, and Buonaparte instantly resumed his march. At Krymskoi Murat and Mortier came upon a strong body of Russians, and were repulsed, with the loss of two thousand men. The Russian rear-guard then hastened on again towards Moscow.

The only attempts at reform were in the commissariat and discipline of the army. The soldiers were allowed an extra quantity of bread and meat, and the militia regiments were permitted to have artillery, and to increase their force and improve their staffs. But even these reforms were made unconstitutionally by the dictum of the Ministers, without the authority of Parliament, and occasioned smart but ineffectual remonstrances from the House. Every motion for inquiry or censure was borne down by the Ministerial majority.In the report drawn up by Mr. Wyse, the chairman of the select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the Foundation Schools in Ireland, in 1837, an interesting history is given of the origin, progress, and working of those obnoxious schools, and of other educational societies which followed. The Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland was established by Royal Charter in 1733, the avowed object being the education of the poor in the principles of the Established Church. It is sufficient to remark that the annual grants which were made to the schools in connection with it (well known as the Charter Schools) were, in consequence of the report of the Commissioners of 1824, gradually reduced, and finally withdrawn. In 1824 there were of those schools 32; the number of children in them amounted to 2,255. The grant for 1825 was 21,615. The grant was gradually reduced to 5,750 in 1832, when it was finally withdrawn. During nineteen years this system cost the country 1,612,138, of which 1,027,715 consisted of Parliamentary grants. The total number of children apprenticed from the beginning till the end of 1824 was only 12,745; and of these but a small number received the portion of 5 each, allotted to those who served out their apprenticeship, and married Protestants. The Association for Discountenancing Vice was incorporated in 1800. It required that the masters and mistresses in its schools should be of the Established Church; that the Scriptures should[358] be read by all who had attained sufficient proficiency; and that no catechism be taught except that of the Established Church. The schools of the Association amounted in 1824 to 226, and the number of children to 12,769; of whom it was stated that 7,803 were Protestants, and 4,804 were Roman Catholics; but the Rev. William Lee, who had inspected 104 of these schools in 1819 and 1820, stated before the Commissioners of 1824 that he had found the catechism of the Church of Rome in many of them. The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor was founded on the 2nd of December, 1811, and was managed by a committee of various religious persuasions. The principles which they had prescribed to themselves for their conduct were, to promote the establishment and assist in the support of schools in which the appointment of governors and teachers, and the admission of scholars, should be uninfluenced by religious distinctions, and in which the Bible or Testament, without note or comment, should be read by all the scholars who had attained a suitable proficiency in reading, excluding catechisms and books of religious controversy; at the same time it was to be distinctly understood that the Bible or Testament should not be used as a school book from which children should be taught to spell or read. A grant was accordingly made to the society of 6,980, Irish currency, in the Session of 1814-15. The system of this society was manifestly the same as that which was formerly called the Lancastrian system in England, and which, although adopted by the great body of the Protestant Dissenters there, was so much opposed by the bishops and clergy of the Established Church in general, that they completely prevented its application to schools for children of their communion. The Roman Catholic prelates and clergy set themselves with equal resolution against it in Ireland and with equal success. It was accordingly found in 1824, that of 400,348 children whose parents paid for their education in the general schools of the country, and whose religion was ascertained, there were 81,060 Protestants, and 319,288 Roman Catholics; while of 56,201 children educated under the Kildare Place Societyalthough theirs were schools for the poor, and the Roman Catholics bear a much greater proportion to Protestants in the poorer classes than in the higherthere were 26,237 Protestants, and only 29,964 Roman Catholics.Accordingly, petitions were sent in from several of the principal men-of-war lying at Portsmouth, to Lord Howe, the commander of the Channel fleet, praying him to intercede with the Admiralty for the same liberality towards the seamen of the royal navy and their families as had been shown to the army and militia, in increase of pay and better provisions. Lord Howe, instead of complying with this reasonable desire, sent the petitions to the port-admiral, Sir Peter Parker, and to Lord Bridport, who commanded the Channel fleet under Howe. They treated the petitions as the work of some ill-disposed person, and therefore of no consequence; but Parker was very soon compelled to inform Lord Spencer, the head of the Admiralty, that he had discovered that there was a general conspiracy to take the command of the ships from the officers on the 16th of April. To test this, orders were immediately issued to put out to sea; and the moment that Lord Bridport signalled this order to the fleet, the effect was seen. The sailors all ran up into the rigging and gave several tremendous cheers. They instantly followed up this by taking the command from the officers, and sending two delegates from each ship to meet on board the Queen Charlotte, Lord Howe's flag ship. They thence issued orders for all the seamen to swear fidelity to the cause, and the next day they all swore. They kept part of the officers on board as hostages, and put others, whom they accused of oppression, on shore. They next passed resolutions to maintain order, and treat the confined officers with all due respect. They then drew up a petition to the Admiralty stating their grievances, and respectfully praying for redress. This brought down to Portsmouth Lord Spencer, and other lords of the Admiralty, where they met in council with Bridport and other admirals. Had these admirals shown a proper attention to the health and claims of these men, their grievances must long ago have ceased; but though they were perfectly well aware of them, they now proposed, along with the Admiralty, to recommend the granting of part of their demands. The deputies replied that they sought nothing but what was reasonable, and would never[456] lift an anchor till those terms were granted. This Admiralty committee then offered some of the terms, but left out the proposal that the pensions of the Greenwich veterans should be raised from seven pounds to ten pounds, and the crews of men-of-war should have vegetables when in port. The sailors, indignant at this miserable parsimony, returned on board and hoisted the red flag at every mast-head. This was a sign that no concession would be made. Yet, on the 22nd, the delegates addressed letters to the Admiralty, and to Lord Bridport, firm, but respectful. Government then tried its usual resource, the proclamation of a pardon, but without taking notice of the necessary concessions. With this proclamation, Lord Bridport went the next day on board the Royal George, and assured the seamen that he had brought a royal pardon, and also the redress of all their grievances. On this assurance, the crew hauled down the red flag, and all the other ships did the same.

At sea he was somewhat more fortunate. He took care to have his war-ships, such as they were, in readiness for sea at the very instant that war was proclaimed. The declaration took place on the 18th of June, and on the 21st Commodore Rogers was already clear of the harbour of New York in his flag-ship, the President, which was[36] called a frigate, but was equal to a seventy-four-gun ship, and attended by a thirty-six-gun frigate, a sloop of war, and a brig-sloop. His hope was to intercept the sugar fleet from the West Indies, which was only convoyed by a single frigate and a brig-sloop. Instead of the West India merchantmen, about one hundred sail in number, he fell in with the British frigate, the Belvedere, commanded by Captain Richard Byron. Though the two other vessels of war were in sight, Byron did not flinch. He commenced a vigorous fight with the President, and held on for two hours, pouring three hundred round shot into her from his two cabin guns alone. By the explosion of a gun, Commodore Rogers and fifteen of his men were severely wounded. About half-past six in the evening the President was joined by the Congress frigate, and then Captain Byron cut away several of his anchors, started fourteen tons of water, and otherwise lightening his ship, sailed away, and left the President to repair her damages. By thus detaining Rogers for fifteen hours the West India fleet was out of all danger. Rogers then continued a cruising sail towards Madeira and the Azores, and captured a few small merchantmen, and regained an American one, and he then returned home without having secured a single British armed vessel, but having been in great trepidation lest he should fall in with some of our ships of the line.GEORGE III.'S LIBRARY, BRITISH MUSEUM.

No sooner was the sentence passed than his judges were seized with a vehement desire to procure a pardon for the admiral. They made the most urgent entreaties to the Admiralty for that purpose, and Captain Augustus Keppel authorised Horace Walpole to say that he and four others of the members of the Council had something of importance to communicate, and desired to be relieved from their oath of secresy. The House of Commons was quite ready to pass a Bill for the purpose, and the king respited the admiral till all such inquiries had been made. But when the Bill had been passed by one hundred and fifty-three to twenty-three, it turned out that these five officers had nothing of consequence to disclose. Still Lord Temple, who was at the head of the Admiralty, was greatly averse from the carrying out of the sentence, which, in fact, was much disproportioned to the crime. Pitt also interceded with the king, and renewed applications were made to the Admiralty; but, on the other hand, the people were smarting under the loss of Minorca, and demanded the execution of the sentence. Hand-bills were posted up, "Hang Byng, or take care of the King." The House of Lords, when the Commons' Bill was carried up to them, however, settled the matter. Murray and Lord Hardwicke demanded of every member of the court-martial at the bar of the House whether they knew of any matter which showed their sentence to be unjust, or to have been influenced by any undue motive; and as all declared they did not, the Lords dismissed the Bill. The[126] sentence was therefore fixed for execution on the 14th of March. Byng, both during the trial, and now when brought on board the Monarch in Portsmouth Harbour to be shot, showed no symptoms of fear. When one of his friends, to prevent a man from coming in to measure Byng for his coffin, said, standing up by him, "Which of us is the taller?" Byng immediately replied, "Why this ceremony? I know what it means; let the man measure me for a coffin." On the deck he wished to have his eyes left unbound; but when told it might frighten the soldiers and distract their aim, he said, "Let it be done, then; if it would not frighten them, they would not frighten me." He fell dead at the discharge (March 14, 1757).

On the 1st of December Bonney, Joyce, Kyd, and Holcroft were brought up, but the evidence was precisely the same against them as against Tooke; they were discharged without trial. Holcroft would have made a speech condemnatory of these prosecutions, but was not allowed. As these gentlemen were removed from the bar, John Thelwall, the well-known elocutionist and political lecturer, was brought up. As the Government thought there were some other charges against him, the trial went on, and lasted four days, but with the same result; and as it was found that it was hopeless to expect verdicts of guilty from English juries for mere demands of Reform, the rest of the accused were discharged. To the honour of the nation, people of all parties appeared to rejoice at the independent conduct of the juries.


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THE "NOTTINGHAM CAPTAIN" AND THE AGITATORS AT THE "WHITE HORSE." (See p. 126.)Events now rushed on with accumulating force and accelerated pace. There had been a long drought, withering up the prospects of the harvest, and now, in July, came a terrible hailstorm, which extended one hundred and fifty miles round Paris, destroying the nearly ripe corn, the fruit on the trees, and leaving all that extent of country a desert, and the inhabitants the prey of famine. In such circumstances the people could not, those in other quarters would not, pay taxes; the Treasury was empty, and the king was compelled to promise to convoke the States General in the following May; Brienne endeavoured to amuse the active reformers by calling on men of intelligence to send in plans for the proper conduct of the States General, as none had been held for one hundred and seventy-two years. The public was impatient for a much earlier summons, but probably they would not have been much listened to, had Lomnie de Brienne known how to keep things going. His empty exchequer, however, and the pressing demands upon him, drove him to solicit the king to recall Necker and appoint him once more Comptroller of the Finances. He imagined that the popularity of Necker would at least extend the public patience. The queen energetically opposed the reinstatement of Necker; the position of affairs was, however, too desperate, and Necker was recalled. His triumphant return was speedily followed by the meeting of the States.

The conditions proposed by Lord Cornwallis were, that Tippoo should cede one-half of his territories; that he should pay three crores and thirty lacs of rupees; that he should restore all the prisoners taken since the time of his father, Hyder Ali; and that two of his eldest sons should be given up as hostages for the faithful fulfilment of the articles. On the 26th the boys, who were only eight and ten years old, were surrendered, and part of the money was sent in. Cornwallis received the little princes very kindly, and presented each of them with a gold watch, with which they were delighted. When, however, it came to the surrender of the territory, Tippoo refused and began to make preparations for resistance; but Lord Cornwallis's active firmness soon compelled him to submit. He ordered the captive children to be sent away to Bangalore, and prepared to storm the town, for which both our soldiers and those of the Nizam were impatient. Tippoo gave way; and the surrender of territory according to the treaty was completed.



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