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Our forces in Sicily had an encounter, in the autumn, with those of Murat, King of Naples. Murat was ambitious of driving us out of Sicily, and Ferdinand IV. and his court with us. From spring till September he had an army lying at Scylla, Reggio, and in the hills overlooking the Strait of Messina, but he did not attempt to put across till the 18th of September. Seizing then the opportunity, when our flotilla of gunboats and our cruisers were off the station, he pushed across a body of three thousand five hundred men, under General Cavaignac. These troops were chiefly Neapolitans, but there were two battalions of Corsicans, and they were furnished with an embroidered standard to present to the Corsicans in our service, whom they hoped to induce to desert to them. General Cavaignac managed to land about seven miles to the south of Messina, and attacked the British right wing. Sir John Stuart made haste to bring up other troops to the support of the right, but before he could arrive, Colonel C. Campbell defeated the invaders, taking prisoners a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and forty other officers, with eight hundred men. There was a rapid retreat to their boats by the intruders, but the British pursued and cut to pieces great numbers of them, besides what were killed by the Sicilian peasantry. One boat full of soldiers was sunk as it went off, and the Neapolitans in another deserted to their old king.

But this was only the lull before the storm. Burke and Francis were living, and the thunder-bolts were already forged which were to shatter his pleasing dream of approval. His agreeable delusion was, indeed, soon ended. On the 24th of January, 1787, Parliament met, and Major Scott, an officious friend of Hastings, unfortunately for the ex-Governor-General, relying on the manifestation of approbation of Hastings by the Court and fashionable circles, got up and asked where now was that menace of impeachment which Mr. Burke had so long and often held out? Burke, thus challenged, on the 17th of February rose and made a call for papers and correspondence deposited in the India House, relative to the proceedings of Hastings in India. He also reminded Pitt and Dundas of the motion of the latter on the 29th of May, 1782, in censure of the conduct of Hastings on the occasions in question. This was nailing the ministers to their opinions; but Dundas, now at the head of the Board of Control, repeated that he still condemned the conduct of Hastings, but taken with the services which he had rendered to the country in India, he did not conceive that this conduct demanded more than censure, certainly not impeachment. Fox supported Burke, and Pitt defended Hastings, and attacked Fox without mercy. There was a feeling abroad that the king was determined to support Hastings, and the proceedings of Pitt confirmed this. Burke's demand for papers was refused, but this did not deter Burke. On the 4th of April he rose again and presented nine articles of impeachment against Hastings, and in the course of the week twelve more articles. To these a twenty-second article was afterwards added.

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.

Early in the following year the mayor and the commanding officer, Colonel Brereton, were brought to trial for neglect of duty. The mayor was acquitted, as not having been adequately supported by the military; but Colonel Brereton's humanity led to the most painful consequences. His trial began on the 9th of January following, and lasted four days, during which, as the proofs against him accumulated, he was overwhelmed with agony of mind. On the night of the 12th he did not visit, as was his custom, the chamber of his two motherless daughters. He was heard walking for hours about his room during that night, and in the morning, when the court assembled, it was announced that the prisoner had shot himself through the heart.

As for Spain, she abandoned all designs on Portugal, and restored the colony of Sacramento; and she surrendered every point on which her declaration of war against England was basednamely, the right to fish on the coast of Newfoundland; the refusal to allow us to cut logwood in Honduras; and to admit the settlement of questions of capture by our courts of law.

Of the coinage of this reign little is to be said. It was of the most contemptible character till Boulton and Watt, as already mentioned, struck the copper pence in 1797 in a superior style. In 1818 was issued a gold and silver coinage, which was entrusted to a foreign artist, Pistrucci, and which was turned out of very unequal merit. Flaxman would have produced admirable designs, and there was a medallist of high talent, Thomas Wyon, who would have executed these designs most ably. In fact, the best part of the silver coinage was produced by Wyon, from the designs of Pistrucci.

CHAPTER XIV. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).

LONDON BRIDGE IN 1760.

FROM THE PICTURE BY W. F. YEAMES, R.A.

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Reports that the king was rapidly recovering now began to fly about Court, daily gaining strength. The Whigs, impatient to seize on office, were in a state of strange excitement; but to go in with the prospect of being immediately dismissed by the king, did not accord with the dignity of the leaders. On the other hand, there were so many good things to be given awayone or two bishoprics, the office of Chief Justice in Eyre, sundry commissions of Major-General, besides expectations of promotions to the rank of Field-Marshalthat the dependents of the party grew impatient. Neither the Whigs nor Pitt knew well what to do. The Lords did not commit the Bill till the 17th, when they made two important additions to it, namely, to place all the palaces, parks, houses, and gardens of the king under the control of the queen, and to give her the care of all the royal children under the age of twenty-one. But, at that very crisis, the king was pronounced convalescent. On the 19th, Lord Thurlow announced this, on the certificate of the physicians; and it was declared by him that their lordships could not, in these circumstances, proceed with the Bill, but had better adjourn till Tuesday next. The Duke of York observed that he should most gladly have corroborated the statement of the Lord Chancellor, but could not, having called the day before at Kew, to desire that he might see his father, but had not been permitted. The House, however, adjourned, and on Tuesday, the 24th, Thurlow informed it that he had seen his Majesty, had found him perfectly recovered, and therefore he moved another adjournment to the Monday following, which was agreed to.