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When day dawned, Cornwallis saw that the ground he occupied was so favourable that it rendered his inferiority of numbers of little consequence. He therefore drew out his forces for immediate action. Swamps to the right and left narrowed the ground by which the Americans could approach him, and forming his troops into two lines, commanded by Lord Rawdon and General Webster, he attacked the Americans under Gates and quickly put them to the rout. The Virginian militia ran most nimbly, and sought refuge in the woods. Gates himself galloped away believing all was lost, and never halted till he reached Charlotte, about eighty miles off. The only men who fought well were two brigades of regulars under the command of the German, Von Kalb, who kept his ground against the troops of Lord Rawdon for three-quarters of an hour, sustaining repeated charges of the bayonet unmoved; but Von Kalb fell mortally wounded, and the last of the Americans then gave way and fled for their lives in all directions.

The Government at once sent Dr. Lindley and Dr. Playfair, two men of science, to Ireland, in the hope that they might be able to suggest remedies for staying the progress of the disease, or preserve that portion of the crop which was still untainted; and the consular agents in different parts of Europe and of America were directed to make inquiries and endeavour to obtain a supply of sound potatoes for seed; indeed, the seed question was even more important than that more immediately pressing one, of how the people were to be fed. In addition to this, early in October, they secretly gave orders for the purchase abroad of 100,000 worth of Indian corn, to be conveyed to Irish ports for distribution among the people. These measures, however, proved of little avail, and meanwhile it grew evident that in a great portion of the United Kingdom a famine was inevitable, which could not fail to influence the price of provisions of all kinds elsewhere. During this time it became known that the harvest, about which opinions had fluctuated so much, would be[518] everywhere deficient. The friends of Sir Robert Peel in the Cabinet who shared his Free Trade tendencies knew then how impossible it was that the already tottering system of the Corn Laws could be any longer maintained. The Ministers had scarcely reached the country seats in which they looked for repose after the labours of the Session, ere the cry of "Open the ports!" was raised throughout the kingdom; but except three, none of them took his view of the gravity of the crisis. All knew that the ports once open, public opinion would probably for ever prevent the reimposition of the duties, and the majority of the Cabinet for a time still adhered to their Protectionist principles.

In the midst of this prosperous career the two brothers-in-law, the Ministers, began to differ in their views, and Lord Townshend was soon driven by the overbearing conduct of Walpole to resign. Lady Townshend, the sister of Walpole, and even Queen Caroline, exerted their influence for some time to put an end to these feuds; but Lady Townshend soon died, and the queen, finding the breach inevitable, took the side of Walpole as the more indispensable servant of the Crown. There were serious topics on which Townshend and Walpole differed, both domestic and foreign. Townshend did not approve of the length to which matters were carried against the Emperor, and he was weary of the timid temper of the Duke of Newcastle, and strongly urged his dismissal, and the employment of Lord Chesterfield in his place; but a Pension Bill brought the quarrel to a crisis. The object of the Bill, which was warmly supported by the Opposition, was to prevent any man holding a pension, or who had any office held in trust for him, from sitting in Parliament. The king privately styled it "a villainous Bill, which ought to be torn to pieces in every particular." Both Walpole and Townshend were of the same opinion; but Townshend was for openly opposing it, Walpole for letting it pass the Commons, and be thrown out in the Lords. Townshend, to whom the odium of rejecting it was thus carried in the Lords, protested against this disingenuous conduct on the part of Walpole, and assured him that the trick would soon be fully observed, and bring more unpopularity on him in the end than a manly, open oppositionwhich it did.

The Irish Reform Bill, which had been introduced by Mr. Stanley, then Irish Secretary, became the subject of debate on the 26th of May, when the second reading was moved by him in a speech of great ability. His main object was to prove that the passing of the measure would not endanger the Established Church in Ireland; and that it would not increase the power of O'Connell, whom, instead of conciliating, he exasperated by the contemptuous and defiant tone of his remarks. As the great question of Reform had been conceded in the English Bill, it was only with regard to matters of detail, and to the extent and nature of the franchise, that the Tories maintained their opposition. The second reading was carried by a majority of 116, the numbers being, for the Bill, 246; against it, 130. O'Connell contended that the Bill was not calculated to benefit Ireland, and he said he was sure it was framed with no good feeling to the country; but, on the contrary, was dictated by narrow and bigoted feeling. He complained that certain classes of the forty-shilling freeholders were not restored by the Reform Bill. He was supported by a moderate and greatly respected Irish statesman, the venerable Sir John Newport, who complained of defects in the measure, especially in the mode of registration, which would go far to neutralise all its benefits. O'Connell's proposal was made on the 13th of June, and was rejected by a majority of forty-nine. The Irish Reform Bill, instead of being the means of conciliation, tending to consolidate the union, and taking away the arguments for Repeal, really furnished O'Connell with fresh fuel for agitation. In a series of letters which he addressed to the Reformers of England, he pointed out the defects of the Irish Bill. He objected to it on the ground that it diminished the elective franchise instead of extending it; that the qualification for a voter was too high; that the registration of voters was complicated; and that the number of Irish representatives was inadequate. The substitution in counties of the ten-pound beneficial interest franchise for the forty-shilling freehold caused the disfranchisement of 200,000 voters. He referred to population to prove the unfairness towards Ireland: thus the county of Cumberland, with a population of 169,681, got two additional members, and returned four to Parliament; while the county of Cork, with a population of 807,366, got no additional member, and sent only two to the Reformed Parliament. A similar contrast was presented between other English and Irish counties. Bolingbroke promptly fled and took service with the Pretender; Ormonde, after putting himself ostentatiously forward as leader of the Jacobite Opposition, followed his example. Both were proceeded against by Act of Attainder.

Still, during all this time, though the Tory Ministers in the Council appeared paralysed, the Jacobite lords assembled in secret junto in the very palace where the Council was sitting and the queen dying. Lady Masham's apartments were the scene of the last convulsive agitation of Jacobitism. From her the distracted leaders of that faction received the accounts of the progress of the queen's illness. Amongst these were Buckingham, Ormonde, Atterbury, and, when he was not at Anne's bedside, Robinson, Bishop of London. This prelate, when he attended to administer the Sacrament to the dying woman, received a message from her, which he was bound by the Duchess of Ormonde to promise to deliver, though it cost him his head. Probably it was some last remembrance to her brother, the Pretender; though it was supposed by some to be an order to the Duke of Ormonde, the Commander-in-Chief, to hold the army for the Stuart. Nothing, however, of the nature of this message ever transpired; but the Duke of Buckingham, on the separation of the Council, which had just obtained the affixing of the Great Seal to a patent providing for the government of the country by four-and-twenty regents till the arrival of the successor, clapped his hand on Ormonde's shoulder, saying, "My lord, you have four-and-twenty hours to do our business in, and make yourself master of the country." It was a forlorn hope. That evening Lady Masham entered her apartments in great agitation, saying, "Oh, my lords, we are all undoneentirely ruined! The queen is a dead woman; all the world cannot save her!" Upon which one of the lords asked if the queen had her senses, and if Lady Masham thought she could speak to them. She replied, "Impossible; her pain deprives her of all sense, and in the interval she dozes and speaks to nobody." "That is hard indeed," said one of the lords. "If she could but speak to us, and give us orders, and sign them, we might do the business for all that." "Alas!" replied another lord, "who would act on such orders? We are all undone!" "Then we cannot be worse," said a third. "I assure you," remarked another of these conspirators, probably Ormonde, "that if her Majesty would give orders to proclaim her successor in her lifetime, I would do it at the head of the army. I'll answer for the soldiers." "Do it, then!" swore the Bishop Atterbury, for he did not stick at an oath. "Let us go out and proclaim the Chevalier at Charing Cross. Do you not see that we have no time to lose?" Lady Masham told them they might waive debate; there was nothing to be done; her Majesty was no longer capable of directing anything. On which the Duke of Ormonde exclaimed, "Lord, what an unhappy thing this is! What a cause is here lost at one blow!"

The news of the invasion brought George from Hanover. He arrived in London on the last day of August, by which time the Young Pretender had already been entertained by Lord Tullibardine at Blair Castle; but he seemed to feel no great alarm. He thought the forces of Cope were sufficient to compete with the insurgents, and Lord Granville and his party did their best to confirm him in this opinion. On the 20th of September three battalions of the expected Dutch forces landed, and received orders to march north. But what contributed more than anything to the security of the kingdom was the activity of the fleet. The seamen all round the coasts showed as much spirit and life as the soldiers had shown cowardice. Privateers as well as men-of-war vied with one another in performing feats of bravery. A small ship off Bristol took a large Spanish ship, bound for Scotland, with arms and money. Another small ship took the Soleil, from Dunkirk, carrying twenty French officers and sixty men, to Montrose; and a small squadron of privateers, which volunteered to serve under a brave naval captain, took a vast number of French vessels, and drove still more upon their own shores. Charles's younger brother, Henry, was waiting to bring over the Irish regiments to his aid, but Louis would not hazard their appearance at sea in the face of such a dangerous fleet. Charles made an attempt to corrupt Captain Beavor, of the Fox man-of-war, by offering him splendid rewards in case of his success, but the gallant officer sent him word that he only treated with principals, and that, if he would come on board, he would talk with him.

Before quitting Germany, however, George had signed a treaty between himself, Austria, and Sardinia, in which Italian affairs were determined. The Spaniards, under Count Gages and the Infant Don Philip, had made some attempts against the Austrians in Italy, but with little effect. By the present treaty, signed at Worms on the 13th of September, the King of Sardinia engaged to assist the Allies with forty-five thousand men, and to renounce his pretensions to the Milanese, on condition that he should command the Allied army in Italy in person, should receive the cession of Vigevenasco and the other districts from Austria, and a yearly subsidy of two hundred thousand pounds from England. This was also negotiated by Lord Carteret on the part of King George, and without much reference to the Ministers in England, who, on receiving the treaty, expressed much dissatisfaction; but, as it was signed, they let it pass. But there was another and separate convention, by which George agreed to grant the Queen of Hungary a subsidy of three hundred thousand pounds per annum, not only during the war, but as long as the necessity of her affairs required it. This not being signed, the British Ministers refused to assent to it, and it remained unratified.

Such was the state of things in Ireland when the news of the French Revolution arrived and produced an electric effect throughout the country. The danger of permitting such atrocious incitements to civil war to be circulated among the people was obvious to every one, and yet Lord Clarendon allowed this propagandism of rebellion and revolution to go on with impunity for months.? Mitchel might have been arrested and prosecuted for seditious libels any day; the newsvendors who hawked the United Irishman through the streets might have been taken up by the police, but the Government still remained inactive. Encouraged by this impunity, the revolutionary party had established confederate clubs, by means of which they were rapidly enlisting and organising the artisans of the city, at whose meetings the most treasonable proceedings were adopted.

It might have been imagined that this magnificent and destructive repulse would have convinced the allies that the siege was hopeless, but they were pretty well informed that General Elliot had well nigh exhausted his ammunition in this prodigal death-shower, and they had still their great combined fleet, snug in the narrow bay, with scouts in the Strait to prevent the carrying in of supplies. But on the 24th of September news arrived at Madrid that the fleet of Lord Howe was under weigh for Gibraltar. Howe's fleet of thirty-four sail-of-the-line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, though in the neighbourhood of one of fifty sail-of-the-line, besides a number of frigates and smaller vessels, managed to get into the bay of Gibraltar all safe, amid the wildest acclamations of soldiers and inhabitants. By the 18th of October all the store-ships had discharged their cargoes, and had passed through the Strait, and on the 19th Lord Howe followed them with his fleet. The enemy's fleet then came out after him, and the next day they were in the open ocean, and Howe proceeded to their leeward to receive them. Some of their vessels had suffered[296] in the late gales, but they had still at least forty-four sail to Howe's thirty-four, and, having the weather-gauge, had every advantage. But after a partial firing, in which they received great damage from Howe, they hauled off and got into Cadiz bay. Howe, then dispatching part of his fleet to the West Indies and a second squadron to the Irish coast, returned home himself. The news of the grand defence of Gibraltar produced a wonderful rejoicing in England; thanks were voted by Parliament to the officers and privates of the brave garrison; General Elliot was invested with the Order of the Bath on the king's bastion in sight of the works which he had preserved, and on his return, in 1787, at the age of seventy, he was created a Peer as Lord Heathfield of Gibraltar.

The ships being got afloat again, on the 12th of April Parker sailed away with the main body of the fleet, leaving the St. George (with Nelson) and a few other ships to repair their damages. Sir Hyde Parker went in quest of the Swedish fleet, which consisted only of six ships, and which had taken refuge behind the forts of Karlskrona. Parker sent in a flag of truce, informing them of the armistice with Denmark, and demanding an answer as to the intentions of Sweden. Gustavus, the King of Sweden, hastened to Karlskrona, and on the 22nd informed the English admiral that he was ready to treat with an envoy accredited to the Northern Powers. Admiral Parker then proceeded towards the Gulf of Finland to attack the Russian fleet, but was soon overtaken by a dispatch boat from the Russian ambassador at Copenhagen, announcing that the Emperor Paul had been murdered by his courtiers, and that his son, Alexander, had accepted the proposals of Britain to treat. Parker considered the news of Paul's death as tantamount to the conclusion of peace, and proposed sailing down the Baltic again; but Nelson, who had joined him at Karlskrona, thought very differently. He had blamed Parker's slowness and easiness all through the affair of Copenhagen, and he now wanted to push on to Revel, and destroy the Russian fleet before the ice allowed it to retire into Cronstadt. Sir Hyde Parker refused; and the fleet was on its way down the Baltic when an order came recalling Parker and giving the command to Nelson. He immediately put about and proceeded to Revel, but the thaw had allowed the Russian fleet to get into Cronstadt. Nelson, however, opened communications with the Emperor Alexander, and proposed to land and terminate a convention with him at once. Alexander, not liking to have Nelson's fleet too near, declined the proposal in terms of courtesy, and Nelson took his leave in no complimentary mood. The emperor thought it best to send after him Admiral Tchitchagoff, to assure him that Alexander regretted that any misunderstanding had ever taken place between Russia and Britain; that all the British subjects seized by Paul should be immediately liberated, all their property restored, and that the Czar would be glad to see Nelson at St. Petersburg in any style which he liked to assume. But Nelson had now resolved to return at once to Britain, his shattered health ill bearing the severity of the northern climate; nor was his presence necessary, for on the 17th of June, two days before Nelson went on board the brig which took him to Britain, Lord St. Helens, who had proceeded to St. Petersburg as ambassador, had signed a convention, by which all subjects of dispute between the two countries were ended. Denmark and Sweden came into the convention as a matter of course.

Caulaincourt, who had been sent by Buonaparte from Fontainebleau to the Allied sovereigns to treat on his behalf, returned, and informed Buonaparte of all these events. He declared that he would march on Paris; and the next day, the 4th of April, he reviewed his troops, and told them that some vile persons had insulted the tricolour cockade in Paris, and they would march there at[83] once and punish them. The soldiers shouted, "Paris, Paris!" but, after the review, the marshals produced the Moniteur, told him what had taken place, and that it was necessary that he should submit. He appeared greatly agitated, and asked them what they wished. Lefebvre said, bluntly, that he had been advised by his best friends to make peace in time, when he would have saved everything; there was nothing for it now but to abdicate. Napoleon then called for a pen, and abdicated in favour of his son. Caulaincourt and Ney were to carry this to the Allied sovereigns. They inquired what terms they should ask for himself. He replied"None: I ask nothing." Yet, the moment the commissioners were gone, he started up and vowed that he would fight with Marmont's corps and the Guards, and would be in Paris on the morrow.