Meanwhile, the fleet which was to bear Buonaparte to Egypt was lying in various squadrons in the ports of Genoa, Civita Vecchia, and Bastia, ready, when any adverse wind should drive the British fleet from the coast, where it blockaded them, to drop down to Toulon and join the main body. On board of these vessels were thirty thousand men, chiefly from the army of Italy. Nelson, with a numerous fleet, was maintaining the blockade, though the secret of the fleet's destination had been so well kept that it was only surmised that Egypt might be its destination. Buonaparte himself had been recalled to Paris. A sudden message sent him back to Toulon. A gale had driven Nelson's fleet from the coast, and so much damaged it that he was obliged to make for Sardinia to repair. The moment was come; the different squadrons joined from the Italian ports, and the Egyptian armament issued on the 19th of May from Toulon. Napoleon was on the mission destined, he believed, to conquer Egypt, and thus to place not only a powerful barrier between us and our Indian possessions, but, having established a strong empire in Egypt and Syria, to enable France to maintain a large fleet in the Persian Gulf, and to accomplish the invasion and conquest of British India by land or sea, with the aid of Tippoo Sahib, who was once more at war with[466] Britain. Nay, like another Alexander, the boundless ambition of Buonapartean ambition which was his final ruincontemplated the conquest of all Asia and the founding of a giant empire there. "If St. Jean d'Acre," he said to Las Cases, "had yielded to the French arms, a great revolution would have been accomplished in the East. The general-in-chief would have founded an empire there, and the destinies of France would have undergone different combinations from those to which they were subjected." He would have come back and proceeded to the conquest of Europe.

Sir Arthur determined to give Soult as sharp a chase as he had given Sir John Moore. He wrote to General Beresford to hold Villa Real, if possible, whilst he pressed on the heels of Soult. On the 16th of May he came up with Soult's rear, near Salamonde, defeated the rear-guard, killed and wounded a great number of men, and Sir Arthur wrote that, had they had half an hour's more daylight, he should have taken the whole of his rear-guard. He added: "I shall follow him to-morrow. He has lost everythingcannon, ammunition, baggage, military chestand his retreat is in every respect, even in weather, a pendant for the retreat to Corunna." In truth, had Sir John Moore sent a Nemesis to avenge himself, it could not have executed a more complete retribution. All the horrors of Sir John's retreat, and far worse, were repeated. The French had exasperated the population here, as everywhere, by their reckless cruelties and rapacity, and they surrounded the flying army, and killed every man that they could find straggling, or who was left exhausted on the road. On the other hand, the French tracked their retrograde path with equal fury. "Their route," says Sir Arthur, "could be traced by the smoke of the villages that they set on fire." Sir Arthur, in his dispatches, also says that, during their abode in Portugal, the French had murdered people merely because they did not like their seizure of their country; and that he saw men hanging on trees by the roadside, whom they had executed for no other reason. So the scene of Soult's retreat was now one long picture of Pandemoniumthe whole way strewn with dead men, horses, and mules; a wasted country, and an infuriated peasantry seeking to wreak their vengeance. Sir Arthur stopped his pursuit near the frontiers of Spain. He could not overtake Soult, who fled flinging away every impediment, whilst he was compelled to carry his supplies and artillery along with him. Besides, the French, since the defeat of the Spaniards at Tudela, had entered Andalusia in great force, where there was no army to oppose them except the ill-equipped one of the proud and unmanageable General Cuesta; and Marshal Victor, who commanded in Estremadura, might readily have made a descent on Lisbon, had Wellesley gone far into Spain. He therefore resolved to return to Oporto, to make necessary inquiries as to the roads into Spain; to improve his commissariat; and then, forming a junction with Cuesta, to[575] advance against Marshal Victor. Whilst at Oporto he had the satisfaction to learn that Frere was superseded by his own brother, Lord Wellesley, as ambassador for Spain, a circumstance of immense importance to the cause.

The last night's debate continued till between six and seven o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 8th of October. It was a night of intense anxiety, both in the House and out of doors. The space about the throne was crowded with foreigners and members of the other House. There was a number of ladies, peeresses, and their daughters, sitting there the whole night, manifesting their excitement in every way consistent with decorum. Palace Yard and the space all round the House was thronged with people waiting to hear the result of the division. The night was wet, however, and the debate was so protracted that the crowd had dispersed before morning. This was a matter of consolation to the Opposition peers, who dreaded a mobbing. It was now broad daylight, and no sound was heard outside except the rolling of the carriages of the peers, who passed up Parliament Street as quietly as if they had come from disposing of a road Bill. The fate of the Bill was that day decided, for it, 158; against it, 199leaving a majority of 41. "The night was made interesting," wrote Lord Eldon, "by the anxieties of all present. Perhaps, fortunately, the mob on the outside would not wait so long." "GOD SAVE KING JAMES."


In pursuance of this plan of the campaign, Prideaux and Johnson arrived before the fort of Niagara in the middle of July, which they found very strong, and garrisoned by six hundred men. Prideaux was soon killed by the bursting of a shell, but Johnson continued the siege with great ability, having to invest the fort on one hand, whilst he was menaced on the other by a mixed body of French and Indians, one thousand seven hundred in number, who came to relieve the fort. The attack upon him commenced with a terrible war-whoop of the Indians, which, mingling with the roar of the great cataract near, made the most horrible din imaginable. But this did not disconcert the English and their savage allies, who received them with such steady courage, that in less than an hour they were put to the rout in sight of their own garrison, and pursued for five miles with dreadful slaughter. The garrison thereupon capitulated, remaining prisoners of war. There, however, Sir William Johnson's career stopped. From various causes, not foreseen, he was not able to advance beyond the Ontario to unite with Amherst. That general had fully succeeded in taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point, but he found the French so strongly posted on an island at the upper end of Lake Champlain, that he was compelled to stop and build[134] boats to enable his army to reach and dislodge them; and it was not till October that he was ready to proceed, when he was driven back repeatedly by tempests, and compelled to go into winter quarters.

This was an attempt as constitutional as it was ignorantly and hopelessly planned by suffering people; but more criminal speculations were on foot. A second report of the Lords' secret committee, recommending the renewal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, stated that a general insurrection was planned to take place at Manchester, on the 30th of Marchto seize the[125] magistrates, to liberate the prisoners, burn the soldiers in their barracks, and set fire to a number of factories; and that such proposals were really in agitation is confirmed by Bamford and other of the Radical leaders. The report says that the design was discovered by the vigilance of the magistrates, a few days before its intended taking place; but it is far more probable that the magistrates had received some intimation of what was in progress from those who had misguided the ignorant multitude. Bamford tells us that both he and his friends had been applied to to engage in the design, but they had condemned it as the work of incendiaries, who had availed themselves of the resentment of the Blanketeers at their treatment, to instigate them to a dreadful revenge. The truth was, a number of spies in the pay of Government, with the notorious Oliver at their head, were traversing the manufacturing districts of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, to stimulate the suffering population into open insurrection, that they might be crushed by the military. Bamford and the more enlightened workmen at once saw through the snare, and not only repulsed the tempters, but warned their fellows against their arts. The failure of the first design, however, did not put an end to the diabolical attempt on the part of the spies. They recommended the most secret meetings for the purpose; that another night attack should be prepared for Manchester, and that Ministers should be assassinated. Such proposals were again made to Bamford and his friends, but they not only indignantly repelled them, but sought safety for their own persons in concealment, for continual seizures of leading Reformers were now made.

Thus it happened that the King of Prussia, with hands full of aggression, did not appear on the Rhine to chastise the aggressions of France, before the month of April. He brought with him about fifty thousand men, Prussians, Saxons, Hessians, and Bavarians. He was joined by fifteen or twenty thousand Austrians, under Wurmser, and five or six thousand French Emigrants under the Prince of Cond. But the French had on the Rhine one hundred and forty thousand men at least, of whom twenty thousand were within the walls of Mayence. The Prussians laid siege to that city, and the Austrians and British to Valenciennes. On the 21st of July the French engaged to give up Mayence on condition that they should be allowed to march out with the honours of war, and this the King of Prussia was weak enough to comply with. They must, of necessity, have soon surrendered at discretion; now they were at liberty to join the rest of the army and again resist the Allies. Valenciennes did not surrender until the 28th of July, and not till after a severe bombardment by the Duke of York. Thus three months of the summer had been wasted before these two towns, during which time the French had been employed in drawing forces from all quarters to the frontiers of Belgium, under the guidance of Carnot. The Duke of York was recalled from Valenciennes to Menin, to rescue the hereditary Prince of Orange from an overwhelming French force, against which his half-Jacobinised troops showed no disposition to act. Having effected his deliverance, the Duke of York marched on Dunkirk, and began, towards the end of August, to invest it; but he was left unsupported by the Prince of Orange, and being equally neglected by the Austrians, he was compelled to raise the siege on the 7th of September, and retreated with the loss of his artillery. The Prince of Orange was himself not long unassailed. Houchard drove him from Menin, and took Quesnoy from him, but was, in his turn, routed by the Austrian general Beaulieu, and chased to the very walls of Lille. According to the recent decree of the Convention, that any general surrendering a town or post should be put to death, Houchard was recalled to be guillotined. There continued a desultory sort of warfare on the Belgian frontiers for the remainder of the campaign. On the 15th and 16th of October Jourdain drove the Duke of Coburg from the neighbourhood of Maubeuge across the[421] Sambre, but the Duke of York coming up with fresh British forces, which had arrived at Ostend under Sir Charles Grey, the French were repulsed, and the Netherland frontiers maintained by the Allies for the rest of the year.

Hunt, and about a dozen of his friends, were seized on the platform. Bamford and some others, who had escaped, were afterwards taken. The streets were then cleared by the infantry. Such was the celebrated Manchester massacre, in which the actual wounds inflicted by the soldiers do not appear to have been many. About seventy people were carried to the infirmaries, or went there, to have their wounds dresseda considerable number for severe cuts and fractured limbs; and six lives were lost, including a special constable run over by the cavalry, and a Manchester Yeoman, who was struck from his horse by a brickbat, aimed by a man whom he was pursuing.