From the Painting by E. M. Ward. R.A.

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But, scarcely had Howe posted himself at Wilmington, when Washington re-crossed the Schuylkill and marched on the British left, hoping to imitate the movement of Cornwallis at the Brandywine which had been so effectual. Howe, aware of the strategy, however, reversed[239] his front, and the Americans were taken by surprise. In this case, Howe himself ought to have fallen on the Americans, but a storm is said to have prevented it, and Washington immediately fell back to Warwick Furnace, on the south bank of French creek. From that point he dispatched General Wayne to cross a rough country and occupy a wood on the British left. Here, having fifteen hundred men himself, he was to form a junction with two thousand Maryland militia, and with this force harass the British rear. But information of this movement was given to Howe, who, on the 20th of September, sent Major-General Greig to expel Wayne from his concealment. Greig gave orders that not a gun should be fired, but that the bayonet alone should be used, and then, stealing unperceived on Wayne, his men made a terrible rush with fixed bayonets, threw the whole body into consternation, and made a dreadful slaughter. Three hundred Americans were killed and wounded, about a hundred were taken prisoners, and the rest fled, leaving their baggage behind them. The British only lost seven men. T. Lingray, 1,500, and a commissionership of stamps.

[See larger version] Buonaparte had not a sufficient French force in Germany under Davoust and Oudinot, but he called on the Confederacy of the Rhine to furnish their stipulated quotas to fight for the subjugation of their common fatherland. Bavaria, Würtemberg, Saxony, and the smaller States were summoned to this unholy work. His numbers, after all, were far inferior to those of the enemy, and, besides the renegade Germans, consisted of a medley of other tributary nationsItalians, Poles, Dutch, Belgians, and others. It is amazing how, in all his later wars, he used the nations he had conquered to put down the rest. Even in his fatal campaign in Russiayet to comea vast part of his army consisted of the troops of these subjugated nations. The year 1792 opened in England with a state of intense anxiety regarding the menacing attitude of affairs in France. There were all the signs of a great rupture with the other Continental nations; yet the king, in opening Parliament, on the 31st of January, did not even allude to these ominous circumstances, but held out the hope of continued peace. George III. stated that he had been engaged with some of his allies in endeavouring to bring about a pacification between the Russians and Austrians with Turkey, and that he hoped for the conclusion of the war in India against Tippoo Sahib, ere long, through the able management of Lord Cornwallis. He also announced the approaching marriage of the Duke of York with the eldest daughter of the King of Prussia. Grey and Fox, in the debate upon the Address, condemned strongly our interference on behalf of Turkeya state which they contended ought, from its corruption, to be allowed to disappear. They also expressed a strong opinion that the war in India would not be so soon terminated. Fox was very severe on the treatment of Dr. Priestley and the Dissenters at Birmingham, declaring the injuries[389] done to Priestley and his friends equally disgraceful to the nation and to the national Church. He passed the highest encomiums on the loyalty of the Dissenters. Pitt regretted the outrages at Birmingham, but slid easily over them to defend the support of Turkey as necessary to the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe; and he concluded the debate by stating that the revenue of the last year had been sixteen million seven hundred and seventy thousand pounds, and that it left nine hundred thousand pounds towards the liquidation of the National Debt.

De Crillon, seeing that his bombardment from shore produced little effect, determined to make the attack also from the sea. Amongst the multiplicity of inventions which the offered rewards had produced, the Chevalier D'Arcon, a French engineer, had produced a scheme which excited the most confident expectations. The plan was to construct ten monster floating batteries of such capacity that they should carry the heaviest artillery, and so made and defended that they could be neither sunk nor burnt. Loud was the clangour of hammer and saw, and, as the secret could not be long preserved, equally busy was the garrison within, preparing furnaces, and laying ready huge piles of balls, to be discharged red-hot at these machines as soon as they arrived. To constitute the intended batteries, ten large ships of from six hundred to one thousand four hundred tons burden were cut down, and made bombproof on the top. They were to be prevented from sinking by the enormous thickness of the timber in their bottoms, and their sides, which were to be six or seven feet thick, bolted, and covered with raw hides. They were to be rendered more buoyant by thicknesses of cork, and the interstices were to be filled with wet sand to prevent combustion. There were to be plentiful supplies, by means of pumps, pipes, and cisterns, of water, everywhere, to put out fire, for they seem to have been aware of the burning balls that were being prepared for them.


After thus settling the form and powers of the constitution, Congress voted eight million dollars to be raised as a loan, and ordered a fresh issue of paper money. But, above all, it laboured to acquire aid from abroad, without which it was clear they must yield to the superior military force of the mother country, and return to their obedience on humiliating terms. For this purpose, in addition to Silas Deane, who was already in Paris, Franklin and Arthur Lee were dispatched to that capital to obtain aid with all possible speed. These gentlemen set sail in the beginning of November, though in much apprehension of being intercepted by the British cruisers; but managed to reach Quibron Bay in safety, and Paris before the end of the year. So successful was Franklin in Paris, that he obtained a gift of two millions of livres from the French king in aid of America, and the assurance that[233] this should be annually augmented, as her finances allowed. The only stipulation for the present was profound secrecy. Franklin had also found the cause of America so popular, that many officers were anxious to engage in her service; and the enthusiastic young Marquis Lafayette, notwithstanding the ill news from the United States, engaged to embark his life and fortune with Washington and his compatriots.

Chatham, undeterred by the fate of his motion, determined to make one more effort, and bring in a Bill for the pacification of the colonies, and he called upon Franklin to assist in framing it. On the following Tuesday, Franklin hurried down to Hayes with the draft of the Bill left with him, and with his full approbation of it, having, he says, only added one word, that of "constitutions" after "charters." The next day (Wednesday), the 1st of February, Chatham appeared in the House of Lords with his Bill. He declared that it was a[215] Bill not merely of concession, but of assertion, and he called on the Lords to entertain it cordially, to correct its crudenesses, and pass it for the peace of the whole empire. The Bill first explicitly asserted our supreme power over the colonies; it declared that all that related to the disposing of the army belonged to the prerogative of the Crown, but that no armed force could be lawfully employed against the rights and liberties of the inhabitants; that no tax, or tollage, or other charge for the revenue, should be levied without the consent of the provincial Assemblies. The Acts of Parliament relating to America passed since 1764 were wholly repealed; the judges were made permanent during their good behaviour, and the Charters and constitutions of the several provinces were not to be infringed or set aside, unless upon some valid ground of forfeiture. All these concessions were, of course, made conditional on the recognition by the colonies of the supreme authority of Parliament.