Great Britain was now the only power at war with France, and the directory prepared a large army for its invasion. This threat produced a noble display of patriotism throughout the country, volunteer associations for defence were formed, and every man was ready to act as a soldier. But while the British navy rode triumphant in the channel, the menace of invasion was an idle boast, and Bonaparte only used it as a pretext to cover his ulterior designs. While the French were modelling, at their pleasure, the governments of Italy, Switzerland, and Holland, Napoleon planned an expedition to Egypt, with the hope of rendering the French influence as predominant in the east as it was in western Europe (A. D. 1798). Convoyed by a fleet, under Admiral Brueys, he sailed first to Malta, which was betrayed by the French knights. A garrison was left to secure the forts of this important island ; the rest of the expedition escaping the vigilance of the English fleet, safety reached Egypt, and having effected a landing, took Alexandria by storm. The Mameluke beys, who were then masters of the country, led their brilliant cavalry to check the progress of the invaders; but these undisciplied warriors were unable to break the firm squares of the French infantry, and they were almost annihilated in the battle of Embaba.

But the hopes inspired by such success were soon dashed by the ruin of the French fleet. After a long search, Admiral Nelson discovered Brueys, in the bay of Aboukir, and immediately formed a bold plan of action. He led a part of his fleet between the French and the shore, so as to place his enemies between two fires. The victory was complete, nine sail-of-the-line were captured, L'Orient, a ship of uncommon size, blew up with the greater part of her crew; another ship-ofthe-line and a frigate were burned by their respective captains.

But Great Britain was not equally fortunate in other quarters ; an armament sent against the Belgic coast signally failed, and the island of St. Domingo was evacuated by the British troops. Ireland was distracted by an insurrection, planned by some enthusiastic admirers of French principles, but put into execution by an ignorant peasantry, whose excesses their leaders were unable to control. Many acts of atrocity were committed by the insurgents, and the conduct of the royal army was frequently very disgraceful. The insurrection was finally quelled'; but scarcely was tranquillity restored, when a small party of French landed in Connaught, and through the cowardice of the troops first sent

o oppose them, penetrated into the heart of the country. Lord Cornwallis, who had just been appointed lord lieutenant, soon overtook the French, and forced them to surrender. Judiciously tempering severity with clemency, he conciliated the discontented; and Sir John Warren, by capturing the greater part of a French fleet, averted the dangers of a future invasion.

The victory of Nelson at the Nile produced a powerful effect throughout Europe. The sultan made preparations for a vigorous defence of his dominions; the Russians sent an armament into the Mediterranean, and captured the Ionian islands, which the French had wrested from the Venetians ; the king of Naples took arms to recover the Roman territories for the pope ; and the emperor of Austria yielded to the suggestions of Mr. Pitt, and commenced hostilities.

The French were not daunted by this powerful coalition ; they easily repelled the Neapolitans, but they found a more formidable foe in the Russians, who entered Italy under the command of Suwaroff, and being there joined by the Austrians, gained several important advantages in spite of Marshals Moreau and Macdonald. But these successes were so dearly purchased, that the allies resolved to try a new plan of operations. Suwaruff undertook to drive the French from Switzerland ; Kray and Melas were to direct the Piedmontese and Austrian troops in Italy; while the archduke Charles protected Germany with all the forces of the empire. Victory in general favored the allied powers : the French lost all their posts in Italy except Genoa, and that was closely besieged ; Suwaroff made rapid progress in Switzerland ; and in Germany the French arms suffered several but not very important reverses. In the ineantime Napoleon invaded Syria ; but being foiled at Acre, chiefly through the heroic exertions of Sir Sydney Smith, he returned to Egypt, and having provided for the security of that country, secretly embarked for France. He escaped the vigilance of the English cruisers, and arrived at Paris just as the directory were indulging in extravagant joy for the defeat of the joint invasion of Holland by the English and Russians. It had been confidently asserted that the Dutch were anxious to throw off the yoke of France, but these representations were proved to be fallacious ; and the duke of York, who commanded the English forces, was compelled to purchase a safe retreat by restoring eight thousand French prisoners without ransom or exchange.

Bonaparte soon perceived that the French people had grown weary of the directory. "Trusting to his popularity with the army, he drove the legislative council from their chamber at the point of the bayonet, and formed a new constitution, by which the executive power was intrusted to three consuls, of whom he was the chief. The first consul, in everything but name a monarch, attempted to commence negotiations ; the English ministers repulsed him rather harshly, and preparations were made for a decisive campaign.

An important and necessary change was made in the constitution of the British empire (A. D. 1800). Some difficulties had arisen from the existence of independent legislatures in England and Ireland ; the two parliaments had already divided differently on the important question of the regency, and there was reason to fear that some future discrepancy night lead to the dismemberment of the empire. To prevent such an evil, it was resolved that the two legislatures should form on? imperial parliament, and the terms of the union were warmly canvassed in both countries. The measure was very unpopular in Ireland, and when first proposed, was rejected by the parliament; but, during the recess, the minister found means to increase the number of his supporters, and in the following session the Act of Union was passed by considerable majorities.

It was expected that the first consul would attempt the invasion of England or Ireland ; but Napoleon was too well aware of his naval weakness to undertake such a hazardous enterprise. He formed a daring plan of a campaign in Italy, and led his army like Hannibal over the Alps. The Austrians could scarcely have been more surprised if an army had fallen from the clouds, than they were by the appearance of the French columns descending from Mount St. Bernard ; but, encouraged by their recent acquisition of Genoa, they prepared to make a vigorous resistance. The battle of Montebello, in which the French had the advantage, was the prelude to the decisive battle of Marengo. The Austrians commenced the fight with unusual spirit ; both wings of their opponents were beaten, and the centre shaken ; but some fresh divisions arriving to the support of the French at the last moment of the crisis, Napoleon pierced the lines of the imperialists, which were too much extended, and Murat's furious charge completed the rout of the Austrians. So disheartened was the imperial general, Melas, that he purchased a truce by resigning Genoa, and the principal fortresses in Piedmont and the Milanese, to the conquerors.

The influence of the British cabinet, and some slight successes in Germany, induced the emperor Francis to continue the war; but his rising hopes were crushed by the battle of Hohenlinden, in which the French and Bavarians under Moreau completely defeated the imperialists, and opened a passage into Upper Austria. The emperor, alarmed for his hereditary dorninions, consented to a truce, and this was soon followed by the treaty of Luneville, which annihilated for a season the Austrian influence in Italy. Scarcely had Great Britain lost one ally, when she was threatened with the active hostility of another. The Russian emperor, Paul, had been chosen patron of the order of St. John of Jerusalem; and when the English, after having reduced Malta by blockade, refused to restore the island to the degenerate knights, the chivalrous potentate ordered the British ships in the Russian ports to be detained, and prevailed upon Sweden and Denmaik to unite with him in an armed neutrality (A. D. 1801). In the meantime Mr. l'itt, who had so long presided over the councils of Great Britain, resigned his office as premier. When he was urging forward the great measure of the union with Ireland, he had endeavored to conciliate the catholics of that country by a promise of his aid in procuring a repeal of the laws vhich excluded them from parliament and office ; but the king's repugnance to catholic emancipation was invincible, and Mr. Pitt retired from the cabinet. Mr. Addington, his successor, had scarcely been installed, when the gratifying intelligence was received of a great triunph 05tained by the British navy in the Baltic. When Mír. Piit received intelligence of the armed neutrality, he sent a large fleet into the northern seas, under the command of Sir Hyde Parker and Lord Nelson. The latter, with twelve sail-of-the-line and some small vessels, attacked the Danish fleet, inoored in a formi.lable position before their capit al, an.) after a desperate contest, took or destroyed every Danish ship that had a share in the engagement. The Danes were humbled by this loss but they were still more disheartened by the death of the Russian em peror, Paul, who was the founder and head of the northern conseileracy. This potenate's incapacity provoked the indignation of the nobles and the people, and he was murdered by a party of conspirators, who placed his son Alexander upon the throne The young prince concluded a treaty with the British on equitable terms, and the other northern powers imitated his example.

A British army, under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, had been sent to drive the French from Egypt, and it succeeded in this object, but with the loss of its gallant commander. Some naval enterprises were less successful : and as there was now a stable government in France, the English minister consented to commence negotiations for peace. The terms were soon arranged : France retained her acquisitions in Germany and the Netherlands, and her supremacy in Holland, Switzerland, and Italy. England consented to resign Malta to the knights, to make the Ionian islands an independent republic, and to restore all her colonial conquests except Ceylon and Trinidad. The treaty was signed at Amiens, and for a short time Europe was deceived with a hope of continued tranquillity.

During this war the maritime and commercial supremacy of England had been completely established, and her colonial empire in India extended and secured. When the French invaded Egypt, Tippoo, the sultan of Mysore, inheriting his father's hostility to the English, meditated an attack on the company's territories, but he was anticipated by the vigor of the earl of Mornington, the governor-general, who, instead of waiting for an attack, invaded Mysore. Seringapatam, Tippoo's capital, was taken by storm, and that unfortunate prince fell in the assault. This conquest made the British power supreme in southern India, and led to the establishment of the company's paramount authority over the whole peninsula of Hindustan.

France had gained a vast accession of territory, but the freedom which the French had taken arms to defend was no more.

The revolution, whose progress had been so strangely marked by savage crime and cruel suffering, was now fast finding its consummation in a military despotism, more arbitrary and crushing than the iron rule even of the feudal monarchs ; but the French, weary of the many vicissitudes that their government had undergone, submitted to a change that promised future stability, and consoled themselves with dreams of glory for the loss o* freedom.



SECTION 1. Renewal of the War between England and France.

When peace was restored, Napoleon directed all his energies to consolidate the power he had acquired. Permission was granted to those whom the violence of the revolution had driven from their country, to return, on certain conditions. Christianity, abolished in the madness of the preceding convulsions, was restored, and arrangements were made with the pope for the future government of the Gallican church; and finally, the consular power was conferred upon Napoleon for life, while a representative constitution preserved for the nation a mere shadow of freedom. His interference in foreign states was less honorable : he moulded the Italian and Ligurian republics at his pleasure; but the Swiss proving more refractory, Marshal Ney entered their territory with a large army, to enforce submission to the imperious dictates of the first consul. The British ministers remonstrated against this interference, but they could not prevent the French from extending their influence in Germany and Italy, as well as the Swiss cantons. Napoleon was less successful in his efforts to recover the island of Hispaniola or St. Domingo. A large French army was sent to the island, and the proceedings of its commanders were marked by gross cruelty and treachery; but these abominable means failed to crush the spirit of the insurgent negroes, and the unfortunate colony was exposed to all the horrors of a servile war. Great Britain did not interfere in this contest; the example of a successful revolt of slaves was deemed of dangerous consequence to our West Indian islands, and the reduction of St. Domingo was desired ratner than deprecated.

But the encroachments of France on the independence of the neighboring states, and the determination of England to retain the island of Malta, gave rise to angry discussions, which, it was soon obvious, would only terminate in a renewal of hostilities (A. D. 1803).

The English commenced the war by issuing letters of marque, authorizing the seizure of French vessels ; Napoleon retaliated, by seizing the persons of all the British whom pleasure or business had induced to visit France during the brief interval of peace. The threats of invasion were renewed, but the English people evinced a spirit of loyalty which quelled all fear of danger. In Ireland an unmeaning insurrection was raised by two enthusiasts, Russell and Emmett, but it was suppressed almost the instant it exploded, and a few of the leaders were capitally

« ElőzőTovább »