The opening of the campaign on the Rhine in 1797 restored the positions of the French. On the lower part of the river, Hoche, who now commanded them, defeated General Kray; on the upper Rhine Moreau retook the fortress of Kehl,[459] opposite to Strasburg; and such was the alarm of Austria that she began to make overtures of peace. The fortunes of her army in Italy made these overtures more zealous; Alvinzi was defeated at Rivoli on the 14th of January, and Provera soon after surrendered with four thousand men, and Wurmser capitulated at Mantua. The Archduke Charles was now sent into Italy with another army, but it was an army composed of the ruins of those of Beaulieu, Alvinzi, Wurmser, and Davidowich, whilst it was opposed by the victorious troops of Buonaparte, now supported by a reinforcement of twenty thousand men under Bernadotte. The archduke, hampered by the orders of the Aulic Council in Vienna, suffered some severe defeats on the Tagliamento in March, and retreated into Styria, whither he was followed by Buonaparte. But the danger of a rising in his rear, where the Austrian General Laudon was again collecting numerous forces, induced Buonaparte to listen to the Austrian terms for peace. The preliminaries were signed on the 18th of April at Leoben, and Buonaparte, to bind the Emperor to the French cause, and completely to break his alliance with Britain, proposed to hand over to the Austrians the territory of Venice. This being effected, Buonaparte hurried back to seize and bind the promised victim. He took a severe vengeance on the people of Verona, who had risen against the French in his absence, and then marched to Genoa, where, under pretence of supporting the people in their demands for a Republic, he put down the Doge and Senate, set up a democratical provisional government, seized on all the ships, docks, arsenal, and storesin fact, took full possession. All further pretence of regard for the neutrality of Genoa was abandoned.

But the conquered Sikhs did not very easily acquiesce in the terms proposed by the conquerors, in spite of the wise administration of the great brothers John and Henry Lawrence, who organised a thoroughly efficient government in the new territories. Gholab Singh was chased from the territory the British had given him, and it became necessary that British arms should reinstate him, and that a British force should permanently garrison Lahore, at a cost to the Sikh Government of 220,000 a year. The intriguing and restless Ranee was sent off from the capital to Sharpoora, where she was kept under surveillance. Sir Charles Napier was obliged to resign his government in Scinde from ill-health, and he returned home in 1847. The Governor-General, after making a progress through various parts of the empire, in order to inaugurate and encourage works of social improvement, was also obliged to retire from his post, in consequence of the failure of his health owing to the fatigues and hardships he had endured in the campaign, and Henry Lawrence accompanied him. On his return home Hardinge was made Master-General of the Ordnance and Commander-in-Chief, being succeeded in India by Lord Dalhousie, who arrived there on the 10th of January, 1848. He, too, found disturbances to be quelled and treachery to be punished among our allies and tributaries. Troubles occurred at Lahore, where the hostility of the inhabitants to the British broke out with terrible effect. Mr. Vans Agnew, the British Resident, and Lieutenant Anderson were treacherously murdered at Mooltan, apparently by the orders of Moolraj, who had been ordered to pay a large sum as succession duty to the Sikh Government. Their death was avenged by Lieutenant Edwardes and General Courtland, who, at the head of a small force, attacked and defeated the revolted Sikhs, 3,000 strong. At length 26,000 troops under General Whish invested the place. But his troops went over to the enemy, and he was compelled to raise the siege and retire. At the same time an insurrection broke out in the Punjab, headed by the governor of the North-West Provinces; in fact, there was a general revolt of the Sikhs against British rule.

Next day the victorious general sent a message to Hyderabad, threatening to storm the city if it was not immediately surrendered. The walls were very strong, and might have been defended successfully; but the Ameers had lost heart, and six of them came out to the British camp, and laid their swords at the feet of the conqueror. But though the city was in his possession, conquest seemed only to increase his difficulties. He had to keep possession of a large hostile city, and to defend his own entrenched camp against 20,000 Beloochees, who were still in the field under Shere Mahommed, and to accomplish all this he had but 2,000 effective men under his command. Reinforcements, however, were quickly dispatched by Lord Ellenborough. They arrived safely and gave him an army of 5,000 veteran troops. In the meantime, Shere Mahommed had come within five miles of the British camp, and sent Sir Charles Napier a summons to surrender; he had an army of 20,000 men in an extremely strong position. Nothing daunted, Sir Charles Napier attacked the enemy. His plan of action was altered, on account of an unauthorised attack made by Colonel Stark with his cavalry, in consequence of the giving way of the centre before an onset of the Irish regiment. The cavalry charge, the result of a sudden inspiration, was brilliantly successful. The cavalry swept everything before them, and carried confusion and dismay into the rear of the enemy's centre. The British general instantly took advantage of this success, and, changing his plan, he led on the Irish infantry to storm the first nullah. After a fierce resistance, the scarp was mounted, and Lieutenant Coote fell wounded while in the act of waving the Beloochee standard in triumph on the summit. The Sepoys were equally successful in storming the second nullah, which was bravely defended, but ultimately carried with great loss to the enemy, who were routed in all directions, their retreating ranks being mowed down by the artillery, and pursued by the cavalry for a distance of several miles. The loss of the British in this great victory was only 270 men. Although the heat was then 110° in the shade, Sir Charles Napier rapidly pursued the enemy, so that his cavalry arrived at Meerpoor, a distance of forty miles, before Shere Mahommed could reach it. It was his capitalstrongly fortified, filled with stores of all kindsand it fell without resistance into the hands of the British general. Shere Mahommed had retreated to the stronghold of Omerkote, in the desert. Thither he was pursued by Captain Whitlie, at the head of the Light Horse. The Ameer fled with some horsemen into the desert. The garrison that remained, after a few shots, pulled down their colours, and, on the 4th of April, the British standard waved on the towers of Omerkote. ARREST OF THE RAJAH OF BENARES. (See p. 334.)

On the 21st of June Pitt introduced and carried several resolutions, which formed the basis of his Commutation Act. These went to check smuggling, by reducing the duty on tea from fifty to twelve and a half per cent., and to raise the house and window tax so as to supply the deficiency. A Bill was then passed to make good another deficiency in the Civil List, to the amount of sixty thousand pounds. Early in August Mr. Pitt brought in his India Bill, which differed chiefly from his former one in introducing a Government Board of Commissioners, with power to examine and revise the proceedings of the Court of Directors. This, which afterwards acquired the name of the Board of Control, was opposed by Fox, but passed both Houses with little trouble. George III., at the time of the sudden death of his grandfather, was in his twenty-second year. The day of the late king's death and the following night were spent in secret arrangements, and the next morning George presented himself before his mother, the Princess-dowager, at Carlton House, where he met his council, and was then formally proclaimed. This was on the 26th of October, 1760.

CHAPTER IX. REIGN OF WILLIAM IV. (continued).

It was proposed also to form, in certain districts, relief committees, which should be empowered to receive subscriptions, levy rates, and take charge of donations from the Government; and that out of the fund thus raised they should establish soup kitchens, and deliver rations to the famishing inhabitants. Sir John Burgoyne, Inspector-General of Fortifications, was appointed to superintend the works. Lord John Russell referred to measures for draining and reclaiming waste land in Ireland, and to advances of money for this purpose to the proprietors, to be repaid in instalments spread over a number of years. On a subsequent day, in answer to questions from Mr. Roebuck, the noble lord gave a statement of the sums that had already been advanced. 2,000,000 had been issued on account of the Poor Employment Act of the last Session. He expected that not less than 500,000 or 600,000 a month would be spent from the present time until August, and he calculated the whole expenditure would not be less than 7,000,000. There was great difference of opinion on the subject of the Government plans. A counter-scheme for the establishment of reproductive works deserves to be noticed for the interest it excited and the attention it occupied for years afterwardsnamely, the railway plan of Lord George Bentinck. Acts of Parliament, he said, had been passed for 1,582 miles of railway in Ireland, of which only 123 miles had then been completed, while 2,600 miles had been completed in England. In order to encourage the formation of Irish railways, therefore, he proposed that for every 100 expended by the companies 200 should be lent by the Government at the same interest at which they borrowed the money, Mr. Hudson, who was "chairman of 1,700 miles of railroad," pledging his credit that the Government would not lose a shilling by the transaction. By adopting this plan they could give reproductive employment to 109,000 men in different parts of the country, for earth-works, fences, drains, and watercourses connected with the lines. This would give support of 550,000 souls on useful work, tend to develop the resources of the country, and produce such improvement that the railways constructed would add 23,000,000 to the value of landed property in twenty-five years, and would pay 22,500 a year to the poor rates. The purchase of land for the railways would moreover place 1,250,000 in the hands of Irish proprietors, for the employment of fresh labour, and 240,000 in the hands of the occupying tenants for their own purposes. The Government also would reap from the expenditure of 24,000,000 on railways in Ireland, an enormous increase of revenue in the augmented consumption of articles of excise and customs. The noble lord's speech, which lasted two hours and a half, was received with cheers from both sides of the House. Leave was given to bring in the Bill, though it was strongly objected to by Lord John Russell, Mr. Labouchere, and other members of the Government. It was also opposed by Sir Robert Peel, who exposed the unsoundness of the economic principles involved in it. The Bill was rejected by a majority of 204, the numbers being 118 for the second reading, and 322 against it. Notwithstanding this decision, loans were subsequently advanced to certain Irish railways, amounting to 620,000, so that the objection of the Government was more to the extent than to the principle of Lord George Bentinck's measure.

Soult, on the retreat of Sir John Moore, had taken possession of Ferrol, Bilbao, and the other principal towns in the north of Spain. He had then entered Portugal, and had marched to Oporto, which he took after a resistance of only two days; and Sir J. Cradock had retired to Lisbon. Soult was prevented from advancing farther by the rising of the Spaniards behind him in Galicia, who retook Vigo and other places; whilst Silviera, the Portuguese general, interposed between him and Galicia, and formed a junction with the Spaniards. Wellesley determined to expel Soult from Oporto, and did not hesitate to say that the French general could not long remain in Portugal. Leaving a division in Lisbon to guard the eastern frontiers of Portugal against the forces of Victor, who lay in Spanish Estremadura, Sir Arthur advanced towards Oporto with a celerity that astonished the French. He quitted Lisbon on the 28th of April, reached Coimbra, driving the French before him, and on the 9th of May he was advancing from that city on Oporto. By the 11th he was occupying the southern bank of the Douro, opposite to that city. Soult had broken down the bridges and sent away the boats, so that he might be able to retire at leisure into Galicia; but Sir Arthur managed to send across General Murray with a brigade, a few miles above Oporto, and a brigade of Guards also passed at the suburb of Villanova, and he discovered sufficient boats to carry over his main army just above the town. The French commenced a fierce attack on the British forces as they landed; but the first battalion, the Buffs, got possession of a large building called the Seminario, and held it till the other troops arrived. Major-General Hill soon brought up the 48th and 66th regiments; General Sherbrooke, who crossed the river below the town with the brigade of Guards and the 29th regiment, entered the town amid the acclamations of the people, and charged the French in the rear; and General Murray, about the same time, showed himself on the French left, above the town. Soult fled, leaving behind him his sick and wounded, and many prisoners, besides much artillery and ammunition. This taking of Oporto, in the face of a French force of ten thousand men, coupled with his having to cross the broad Douro, and that with very defective means of transit, was a most brilliant affair; and the most astonishing thing was, that Wellesley lost only twenty-three killed and ninety-eight wounded, whilst Soult's troops suffered severely.

The first symptom of the breaking up was the[287] necessity felt for the dismissal of Lord George Germaine, who had contributed so essentially to the defeats in America. But even then the king would not consent that he should resign without conferring a peerage on him, observing, "No one can then say he is disgraced." No quiet was now allowed to the declining Ministers. Fox, on the 20th of February, strongly seconded by William Pitt, made another attack on Lord Sandwich, this time including the whole Board of Admiralty; and the motion was only lost by nineteen. Another, and perhaps more formidable, enemy now stood forward. This was General Conway, who enjoyed the highest esteem of the House, and had been the first to propose the abolition of the fatal Stamp Act. He moved, on the 22nd of February, that the House should address his Majesty, entreating that he would "listen to the advice of his Commons, that the war on the continent of North America might no longer be pursued for the impracticable purpose of reducing the inhabitants of that country to obedience by force." After a great debate, the House divided two hours after midnight, and Ministers were reduced to a majority of one, the votes being one hundred and ninety-four against one hundred and ninety-three. Five days after, General Conway again moved that any further attempts against America would weaken the efforts of England against her European enemies, and, by further irritating the colonies, render the desired peace more difficult. The resolution was carried against Government by two hundred and thirty-four against two hundred and fifteen. Finally, on the 15th of March Sir John Rous moved a vote of want of confidence, which was again lost by a minority of only nine. It was instantly determined to renew this motion through Lord Surrey; and Lord North saw so clearly that nothing could now avert his fall, that he implored the king most earnestly to accept his resignation. George sent for Lord North on the 20th, and addressed him in these words:"Considering the temper of the House, I thought the Administration at an end." Lord North instantly seized on the words, saying:"Then, sire, had I not better state the fact at once?" The king consented, and North hurried down to the House of Commons in his court-dress, as he was.

The convention, which did not contain a word about the opium trade, gave great dissatisfaction at home, and Lord John Russell declared in the House of Commons, on the 6th of May, that it had been disapproved of by the Government; that Captain Elliot had been recalled, and Sir Henry Pottinger appointed plenipotentiary in his stead. The Chinese, meanwhile, soon violated their engagements. On the 19th of February an English boat was fired upon from North Wang-ton, in consequence of which the squadron under Captain Sir H. Flemming Senhouse attacked the forts on the 26th of February, and in a very short time the British colours were flying on the whole chain of these celebrated fortifications, and the British became masters of the islands without the loss of a single man. Proceeding up the river towards the Whampoa Reach they found it fortified with upwards of forty war junks, and the Cambridge, an old East Indiaman. But they were all silenced in an hour, when the marines and small-arm men were landed and stormed the works, driving before them upwards of 3,000 Chinese troops, and killing nearly 300. Next day Sir Gordon Bremer joined the advanced squadron, and the boats were pushed forward within gunshot of Howgua's fort; and thus, for the first time, were foreign ships seen from the walls of Canton. On the 2nd of May the Cruiser came up, having on board Major-General Sir Hugh Gough, who took command of the land forces. On approaching the fort it was found to be abandoned, as well as those higher up the river, the Chinese having fired all their guns and fled. The Prefect or Governor of Canton then made his appearance, accompanied by the Hong merchants, announcing that Keshin having been recalled and degraded, and the new Commissioner not having arrived, there was no authority to treat for peace. Captain Elliot again hesitating, requested the naval and military commanders to make no further movement towards the city until it was seen what was the disposition of the provincial authorities at Canton, and admitted the[475] city to a ransom of 1,250,000. But Sir G. Bremer observed in a despatch that he feared the forbearance was misunderstood, and that a further punishment must be inflicted before that arrogant and perfidious Government was brought to reason. He was right; for on the 17th of March a flag of truce, with a message sent by Captain Elliot to the Imperial Commissioner, was fired upon by the Chinese. In consequence of this, a force under Captain Herbert, who was in advance of the rest of the armament, carried in succession all the forts up to Canton, taking, sinking, burning, and otherwise destroying the flotilla of the enemy, and hoisted the union Jack the same day on the walls of the British factory.

Amongst those who hailed enthusiastically the French Revolution, and gave credit to its promises of benefit to humanity, were a considerable number of the Dissenting body, and especially of the Unitarian class. Amongst these, Drs. Price, Priestley, Kippis, and Towers were most prominent. Dr. Pricewho furnished Pitt with the theory of the Sinking Fund, and with other propositions of reform,on the breaking out of the French Revolution was one of the first to respond to it with acclamation. He was a member of the Revolution Society, and in 1789 he preached before it a sermon on "The Love of our Country," and in this drew so beautiful a picture of the coming happiness of man from the French Revolution, that he declared that he was ready to exclaim with Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." At the dinner on the same occasion he moved that a congratulatory address be sent to the National Assembly on that glorious event, which was seconded by Lord Stanhope the chairman, and which was sent, and received with great acclamation by the National Assembly. Burke, in his "Reflections on the French Revolution," was very severe on Price, as well as on his coadjutors; and as Price died this year it was said that the "Reflections" had killed him, which, were it true, could not be said[384] to have done it very prematurely, for the doctor was in his seventieth year.