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Foiled in these quarters, Alberoni appeared more successful in the North. A negotiation had been opened between the two potentates, so long at bitter variance, the Czar and Charles XII. of Sweden. They were induced to meet in the island of ?land, and to agree that the Czar should retain Livonia, and other Swedish territories south of Finland which he had torn from Sweden, but, in compensation, Charles was to be allowed to reconquer Bremen and Verden from George of Hanover and England, and Norway from Denmark; and the two monarchs were to unite their arms for the restoration of Stanislaus to the throne of Poland, and of the Pretender to that of Great Britain. The success of these arrangements appeared to Alberoni so certain that he boasted that the Northern tempest would burst ere long over England with annihilating fury; but even here he was doomed to disappointment. Charles[42] XII. delighted in nothing so much as in wild and romantic enterprise. Such was that of the conquest of Norway; and he was led by his imagination to commence it without delay. With his characteristic madness, he divided his army into two parts, with one of which he took the way by the coast of Norway, and the other he sent over the mountains at the very beginning of winter. There that division perished in the snow amid the most incredible horrors; and he himself, whilst carrying on the siege of Frederickshall, was killed on the 11th of December, as appears probable, by the treacherous shot of a French engineer in his service. Almost simultaneously the Duke of Maine's conspiracy against the French Government was detected, and he and his wife, together with the Spanish Ambassador, were apprehended. There was nothing for it on the part of the Regent but to proclaim war against Spaina measure which England had long been urging on him. The English declaration appeared on the 28th of December, 1718, and the French on the 9th of January, 1719.

The Jacobites were in ecstasies at this new phase of their old enterprise. By Charles's adhesion, their scheme was stripped of all those prejudices which had insured its ruin with the English. It had no longer the unpopular aspect of a French invasion; it was no longer headed by a Popish but a Protestant leader; it was no longer consigned to an untried or doubtful general, but to one of the most victorious monarchs living, who came as a Protestant to call on a Protestant nation to receive their rightful king. Money was not wanting. Spain remitted to Baron Spaar a million of livres for the expedition, and the Court of the Pretender offered sixty thousand pounds.

Buonaparte's army now occupied the city and the right bank of the Danube. The archduke arrived, and posted himself on the left bank. The river was swollen with the spring rains and the melting of the snow in the mountains. All the bridges had been broken down by which Buonaparte might cross to attack the Austrians before they were joined by their other armies. Buonaparte endeavoured to throw one over at Nussdorf, about a league above Vienna, but the Austrians drove away his men. He therefore made a fresh attempt at Ebersdorf, opposite to which the Danube was divided into five channels, flowing amongst islands, the largest of which was one called Lobau. Here he succeeded, the Archduke Charles seeming unaware of what he was doing, or taking no care to prevent it. On the 20th of May the French began to cross, and deployed on a plain between the villages of Aspern and Esslingen. Thirty thousand infantry had crossed before the next morning, and six thousand horse, and they were attacked by the Austrians, near the village of Aspern, about four in the afternoon. The battle was desperately contested on both sides. The villages of Aspern and Esslingen were taken and retaken several times. The struggle went on with great fury, amid farm-yards, gardens, and enclosures, and waggons, carts, harrows, and ploughs were collected and used as barricades. Night closed upon the scene, leaving the combatants on both sides in possession of some part or other of these villages. On the following morning, the 22nd, the fight was renewed, and, after a terrible carnage, the French were driven back on the river. At this moment news came that the bridge connecting the right bank with the islands was broken down, and the communication of the French army was in danger of being altogether cut off. Buonaparte, to prevent this, retreated into the island of Lobau with the whole of the combating force, and broke down the bridge which connected the islands with the left bank behind them. The Austrians followed keenly upon them in their retreat, and inflicted a dreadful slaughter upon them. Marshal Lannes had both his legs shattered by a cannon-ball, and was carried into the island in the midst of the mle; General St. Hilaire also was killed. The loss in killed and wounded on both sides amounted to upwards of forty thousand. For two days Napoleon remained on the island, with his defeated troops, without provisions, and expecting hourly to be cut to pieces. General Hiller earnestly pressed the Archduke Charles to allow him to pass the Danube, by open force, opposite to the isle of Enzersdorf, where it might be done under cover of cannon, pledging himself to compel the surrender of Buonaparte and his army. But the archduke appeared under a spell from the moment that the fighting was over. Having his enemy thus cooped up, it was in his power to cut off all his supplies. By crossing the river higher or lower, he could have kept possession of both banks, and at once have cut off Buonaparte's magazines at Ebersdorf, under Davoust, from which he was separated by the inundation. By any other general, the other armies under his brother would have been ordered up by express; every soldier and every cannon that Austria could muster within any tolerable distance would have been summoned to surround and secure the enemy, taken at such disadvantage. In no other country but Austria could Napoleon have ever left that island but as a prisoner with a surrendered army.

In July of the present year the union of Ireland with Great Britain was carried. Pitt and Lord Cornwallis had come to the conclusion that a double Government was no longer possible, and that unless the Irish were to be allowed to exterminate one another, as they had attempted to do during the late rebellion, the intervention of the British Parliament was absolutely necessary. A resolution had passed the British Parliament in 1799, recommending this union, and the news of this created a tempest of indignation in Protestant Ireland. In January, 1799, the speech on the Address to the throne in the Irish Parliament was, on this account, vehemently opposed, and an amendment was carried against the Government by a majority of one; yet in January, 1800, a motion was carried, at the instigation of Lord Castlereagh, the Secretary, in favour of the union, by a majority of forty-two. Whence this magical change in twelve months? On the 5th of February the whole plan of the union was detailed by Lord Castlereagh, the principal Secretary of State for Ireland, in the Irish Commons. He stated that it was intended to give to Ireland in the Parliament of the United Kingdom four lords spiritual sitting in rotation of sessions, and twenty-eight lords temporal elected for life by peers of Ireland, and that the Irish representatives in the united House of Commons should be a hundred. The motion for this plan was carried in the Irish Commons by a majority of forty-two in spite of a magnificent speech from Grattan, and by a great majority in the House of Lords; but this was in the face of the most unmitigated amazement on the part of the opposition, and of the people, who were not in the secret. Their rage was beyond description. On the 13th of March Sir John Parnell declared that this measure had been effected by the most unexampled corruption, and moved for an Address to his Majesty, imploring him to dissolve this Parliament, and present the question to be decided by a new one. But the Solicitor-General declared that this motion was "unfurling the bloody flag of rebellion;" and Mr. Egan replied that the Solicitor-General and other members of the[475] administration had already "unfurled the flag of prostitution and corruption." But the measure was now passed, and that by the same Parliament which, only a year before, had rejected the proposition in toto. But what were the means employed by the British Government to produce this change? The answer is simple; a million and a quarter was devoted to the compensation of borough owners, lawyers who hoped to improve their prospects by entering the House, and the Dublin tradesmen.

Congress, alarmed at the progress of the English in South Carolina, had made extraordinary efforts to reinforce the Republican party in North Carolina. On the fall of Charleston, General Gates, who had acquired a high but spurious reputation upon the surrender of Burgoyne, was sent to take the chief command. In marching towards South Carolina, the American army suffered severely from the tropical heat of the climate and the scarcity of food. Gates led them through a country of alternating swamps and sandy deserts, called by the Americans pine-barrens. The troops lived chiefly on the lean cattle which they found scattered through the woods, on green Indian corn, and peaches, which were plentiful, being indigenous to the State of Louisiana. Lord Rawdon, who was lying at Camden, where he had halted his men to protect them from the heat, was joined there by Lord Cornwallis early in August. The entire force when united did not, however, exceed two thousand men, whilst the troops of Gates amounted to six thousand. The British general, notwithstanding, advanced briskly to meet the Americans, and on the evening of the 16th of August the two armies met rather unexpectedly, and some skirmishing took place, after which they halted in position till near daybreak. In Ireland the bulk of the population had been left to the Catholic pastors, who were maintained by their flocks, the property of the Catholic Church having been long transferred by Act of Parliament to the Church of England, or, as it was called, the sister Church of Ireland. The number of parishes in Ireland had been originally only two thousand four hundred and thirty-six, though the population at that time was half that of England; but in 1807 Mr. Wickham stated that, in 1803, these had been consolidated, and reduced to one thousand one hundred and eighty-three. In some of these parishes in the south of Ireland, Mr. Fitzgerald stated that the incomes amounted to one thousand pounds, to one thousand five hundred pounds, and even to three thousand pounds a year; yet that in a considerable number of these highly endowed parishes there was no church whatever. In others there were churches but no Protestant pastors, because there were no Protestants. The provision for religious instruction went wholly, in these cases, to support non-resident, and often very irreligious, clergymen. In fact, no truly religious clergyman ever could[171] hold such a living. The livings were, in fact, looked upon as sinecures to be conferred by Ministers on their relatives or Parliamentary supporters. It was stated that out of one thousand one hundred and eighty-three benefices in Ireland, two hundred and thirty-three were wholly without churches; and Mr. Fitzgerald said, "that where parishes had been consolidated, the services rendered to the people by their clergyman had been diminished in proportion as his income had been augmented; for no place of religious worship was provided within the reach of the inhabitants; nor could such parishioners obtain baptism for their children, or the other rites of the Church; and the consequence was that the Protestant inhabitants, in such places, had disappeared." After a week's popular tumult in his capital, the King's eyes were opened, and he conceived the idea of putting himself at the head of the popular movement, with a view, no doubt, of directing and controlling it. On the 18th of March he issued an ordinance against convoking a meeting of the Diet which had closed its Session only a fortnight before. In this document he stated that he demanded that Germany should be transformed from a confederation of States to one Federal State, with constitutional representation, a general military system after the Prussian model, a single Federal banner, a common law of settlement for all Germany, and the right of all Germans to change their abode in every part of the Fatherland, with the abolition of all custom-house barriers to commercial intercourse, with uniformity of weights, measures, and coinage, and liberty of the press throughout Germany. Thereby he placed himself at the head of the United Germany movement.

Rodney, who was still commanding in the West Indies, had been on the look-out for De Grasse, but, missing him, he had dispatched Sir Samuel Hood after him, supposing that he had made for New York. Hood had with him fourteen ships of the line, and, arriving at Sandy Hook on the 28th of August, he found that De Grasse had then sailed for the Chesapeake. Admiral Arbuthnot had been replaced by Admiral Graves, but Graves had only seven ships of the line, and of these only five fit for action. Taking the chief command, with these twenty-one ships Graves set sail for the Chesapeake, with Hood as second in command. There, on the 5th of September, he discerned the fleet of De Grasse at anchor, just within the Capes of Virginia, and blocking up York River with his frigates. Graves had his nineteen ships, De Grasse twenty-eight, and Nelson could have desired nothing better than such a sight in the narrow waters of the Chesapeake: not a ship would have escaped him; but Graves was no Nelson, and allowed De Grasse to cut his cables and run out to sea. There, indeed, Graves attacked him, but under infinitely greater disadvantages, at four o'clock in the afternoon. The night parted them, and De Grasse returned to his old anchorage in the Chesapeake, and Graves sailed away again for New York.