王沪宁看望文化教育界知名人士和科技专家

[See larger version]

[209] The fall of Robespierre produced a marked change in the policy of the Convention towards the Royalists of this district, and they were promised, on laying down their arms, that they[445] should enjoy their country and their religion in peace. On this assurance, Charette signed a treaty of pacification with the agents of the Government at Nantes, in February, 1795. But scarcely was the peace signed, when Charette received a letter from Monsieurbrother of the late king, and now appointed by the Royalist party Regent to the Dauphin, now styled by them Louis XVII.assuring him of his confidence, declaring him the second founder of the monarchy, and appointing him his Lieutenant-General. Charette wrote back to inform him that he had been compelled to sign a peace, but that his submission was only apparent, and when the Royalist affairs were somewhat reinstated, he should be ready to take up arms and die in the service of his prince. The young General Hoche, who was sent to reduce the insurgents of Brittany, whilst Canclaux reduced those of La Vende, did not for a moment believe in the sincerity of the peace. He was aware that Puisaye, the chief of the insurgents in Brittany, was gone to England, to endeavour to induce Pitt to do what all the efforts and importunities of the Bourbon princes and Emigrant nobles had failed to doto send an expedition to the coast of Brittany, with another to the coast of La Vende, in which the British fleet should support the bodies of Emigrants who had, in England and the Channel Islands, formed themselves into regiments for the purpose. Aware of this, he still did all he could to reconcile the peasantry to the peace, and very soon they would have been pacified by this judicious treatment, and been averse from rising again, with a prospect of re-experiencing their former sufferings; but the Bourbon princes and the tribes of Emigrants now driven from the Rhine did not allow them that chance. There was also a vast deal of decorations of ceilings and staircases still going on, and foreign artists flocked over to execute it. Laguerre, a Frenchman, succeeded Verrio in this department, and his works yet remain at Hampton Court, Burleigh, Blenheim, and other places. Laguerre was appointed to paint the cupola of St. Paul's, designs having been offered also by Antonio Pellegrini, who had thus embellished Castle Howard; but their claims were overruled in favour of Sir James Thornhill. Besides these, there were Lafosse, who had decorated Montagu House, Amiconi, a Venetian, and others, who executed many hundred square yards of such work in England. Such was the fashion for these foreign decorators, that when a native artist appeared equal to any one of them in skill and talent, and superior to most, he found himself paid at a very inferior and invidious rate.

[See larger version]

Whilst these combined efforts were being made to unseat him, Walpole saw his Cabinet every day becoming more untrustworthy, more divided against him. The Duke of Newcastle was eagerly pressing forward to supplant him. He had entered into secret engagements with the Duke of Argyll, and Lord Chancellor Hardwicke threw himself into that clique. To these were added the Earl of Wilmington, formerly Sir Spencer Compton, who, forgetting his alarm at the idea of succeeding Walpole as Prime Minister, now was anxious for that honour. To add to these depressing circumstances, the king arrived from Hanover in a humour ready to lay his disgrace and failure at anybody's door. On the 4th of December he opened the new Parliament, and, conscious of his own contemptible figure after the submission to French dictation in Hanover, he took care to remind it that he had commenced the war only at the urgent desire and advice of both Houses, and that he had been particularly counselled to direct our naval efforts towards Spanish America.

SIGNATURES TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

[See larger version]

Both the Government and people of Britain responded to these demands with enthusiasm. War with Spain was declared to be at an end; all the Spanish prisoners were freed from confinement, and were sent home in well-provided vessels. The Ministers, and Canning especially, avowed their conviction that the time was come to make an effectual blow at the arrogant power of Buonaparte. Sir Arthur Wellesley was selected to command a force of nine thousand infantry and one regiment of cavalry, which was to sail immediately to the Peninsula, and to act as circumstances should determine. This force sailed from Cork on the 12th of July, and was to be followed by another of ten thousand men. Sir Arthur reached Corunna on the 20th of the same month, and immediately put himself in communication with the junta of Galicia. All was confidence amongst the Spaniards. They assured him, as the deputies in London had assured the Ministers, that they wanted no assistance from foreign troops; that they had men to any amount, full of bravery; they only wanted arms and money. He furnished them with a considerable sum of money, but his experienced mind foresaw that they needed more than they imagined to contend with the troops of Buonaparte. They wanted efficient officers, and thorough discipline, and he felt confident that they must, in their overweening assurance, suffer severe reverses. He warned the junta that Buonaparte, if he met with obstructions in reaching them by land, would endeavour to cross into Asturias by sea, and he advised them to fit out the Spanish ships lying at Ferrol to prevent this; but they replied that they could not divert their attention from their resistance by land, and must leave the[559] protection of their coasts to their British allies. Sir Arthur then sailed directly for Oporto, where he found the Portuguese right glad to have the assistance of a British force, and most willing to co-operate with it, and to have their raw levies trained by British officers. On the 24th of July he opened his communication with the town. The bishop was heading the insurrection, and three thousand men were in drill, but badly armed and equipped. A thousand muskets had been furnished by the British fleet, but many men had no arms except fowling-pieces. Wellesley made arrangements for horses and mules to drag his cannon, and convey his baggage, and then he sailed as far as the Tagus, to ascertain the number and condition of the French forces about Lisbon. Satisfied on this head, he returned, and landed his troops, on the 1st of August, at Figueras, in Mondego Bay. This little place had been taken by the Portuguese insurgents, and was now held by three hundred mariners from British ships. Higher up the river lay five thousand Portuguese regulars, at Coimbra. On the 5th he was joined by General Spencer, from Cadiz, with four thousand men; thus raising his force to thirteen thousand foot and about five hundred cavalry. The greatest rejoicing was at the moment taking place amongst the Portuguese from the news of General Dupont's surrender to Casta?os.

[See larger version]