培育壮大“互联网+”消费新动能

[122] Fortunately, the princess was safely delivered at St. James's (June 4), though the house was unprepared for such an emergencythe rooms and beds being unaired, and there being no adequate suite of servants. The moment that the king heard of this extraordinary conduct of the prince, he despatched Walpole and Lord Harrington to attend the birth, but they were too late. After that the king repulsed all the prince's advances towards a reconciliation. Frederick betook himself to Norfolk House, St. James's Square, and there all the opponents of his father's Government collected around him. The prince was now the head and centre of the Opposition himself.

Britain was everywhere successful on the sea, and Lord Nelson, on the 1st of August, made an attempt on the French flotilla lying at Boulogne for the invasion of England. He was furnished with a flotilla of gunboats for the purpose, and he was able to destroy two floating batteries and a few gunboats, but found the fleet too strongly posted under the batteries of the harbour to make further impression. However, Napoleon saw that for the present an invasion was out of the question, and the autumn of this year was employed in endeavours to arrange a peace. Lord Cornwallis proceeded to Paris for this object, and went to Amiens, which was appointed as the place for the conference. The preliminaries were signed on the 1st of October, and General Lauriston, the schoolfellow and first aide-de-camp of Buonaparte, brought them over to London. The negotiations progressed slowly, being arrested now and then by the conduct of the First Consul. Without waiting for the ratification of peace, he sent off, on the 14th of December, 1801, only ten days after the signing of the preliminaries, a strong fleet and army to the West Indies to reduce the independent black Republic in St. Domingo. Britain was obliged to send reinforcements to her own West Indian fleet by Admiral Martinso that it looked much more like war than peace. Again, in January, 1802, came the news of the election of Buonaparte to the Presidency of the Cisalpine Republic, directly contrary to the Treaty of Lunville, and betraying the ambitious aims of Napoleon. Immediately followed the news that Buonaparte had exacted from Spain a treaty by which Parma and the island of Elba were made over to France on the death of the present, already aged, duke; that Spain had been compelled to cede part of the province of Louisiana in North America, by the same treaty; and that Portugal, though the integrity of her dominions had been carefully guaranteed by the preliminaries of peace, had by a secret article given up to France her province of Guiana. A Republican constitution was forced on Holland, and in Switzerland instructions were given to the French Minister to thwart all efforts at the formation of a stable constitution. These revelations startled the British Ministers, but did not deter them from concluding the peace, with the full approbation of Pitt. It was not that the First Consul, who every day betrayed some fresh symptom of an insatiable ambition, was disposed to offer them tempting terms; on the contrary,[485] though we were never more able to dictate measures at sea, and he never less so, he was as haughty and dictatorial in his demands as if Great Britain had been completely under his feet. Yet the treaty went on, and was concluded and signed on the 27th of March, 1802. It settled nothing, as Britain refused to acknowledge the newly organised Republics, and declined to entertain Napoleon's preposterous suggestion that Malta was to be occupied by Neapolitan troops, under a neutrality guaranteed by all the chief European Powers; since it was well known that Napoleon, when it suited him, would cease to respect the conditions, and would readily dispossess the troops of Naples. Though Pitt believed him to have been sincere, Grenville, Windham, and Spencer saw that the ambition of the "Little Corporal" was insatiable, and denounced the treaty.

With the military he had a far more violent contest. After the battle of Plassey, Meer Jaffier had conferred on the officers of the army what was called double batta, meaning an additional allowance of pay. Clive had always told the officers that it was not likely that the Company would continue this; and, now that the territories of Jaffier were become virtually their own, he announced that this must be discontinued. The Governor and Council issued the orders for this abolition of the double batta; he received in reply nothing but remonstrances. The officers, according to Burke's phrase, in his speech of December 1st, 1783, "could not behold, without a virtuous emulation, the moderate gains of the civil service." Clive was peremptory, and found his orders openly set at defiance by nearly two hundred officers, headed by no less a person than his second in command, Sir Robert Fletcher. These gentlemen had privately entered into a bond of five hundred pounds to resign on the enforcement of the order, and not to resume their commissions unless the double batta was restored. To support such as might be cashiered, a subscription was entered into, to which the angry civilians of Calcutta are said to have added sixteen thousand pounds. The conspirators flattered themselves that, in a country like India, held wholly by the sword, Clive could not dispense with their services for a single day. They were mistaken. On receiving the news of this military strike, Clive immediately set off for the camp at Monghyr. He was informed that two of the officers vowed that if he came to enforce the order, they would shoot or stab him. Undaunted by any such threats, although in failing health, and amid drenching rains, he pursued his journey, and, on arriving, summoned the officers of the army, and, treating the threats of assassination as those of murderers, and not of Englishmen, he reasoned with them on the unpatriotic nature of their conduct. His words produced the desired effect on many; the privates showed no disposition to support their officers in their demand, and the sepoys all shouted with enthusiasm for Sabut Jung, their ideal of a hero. The younger officers, who had been menaced with death if they did not support the conspiracy, now begged to recall their resignation, and Clive allowed it. He ordered Sir Robert Fletcher and all who stood out into arrest, and sent them down the Ganges to take their trial at Calcutta. Many are said to have departed with tears in their eyes. By this spirited conduct Clive crushed this formidable resistance, and averted the shame which he avowed not all the waters of the Ganges could wash outthat of a successful mutiny. By the 8th of October Wellington was safely encamped within these impregnable lines, and the crowd of flying people sought refuge in Lisbon, or in the country around it. The British did not arrive a moment too soon, for Massena was close at their heels with his van; but he halted at Sobral for three days to allow of the coming up of his main body. This time was spent by the British in strengthening their position, already most formidable. The two ranges of mountains lying one behind the other were speedily occupied by the troops; and they were set to work at more completely stopping up roads, and constructing barriers, palisades, platforms, and wooden bridges leading into the works. For this purpose fifty thousand trees were allowed them, and all the space between Lisbon and these wonderful lines was one swarming scene of people bringing in materials and supplies. The right of the position was flanked by the Tagus, where the British fleet lay anchored, attended by a flotilla of gunboats, and a body of marines occupied the line of embarkation; Portuguese militia manned the Castle of St. Julian and the forts on the Tagus, and Lisbon itself was filled with armed bands of volunteers. There was no want of anything within this busy and interesting enclosure, for the British fleet had the command of the sea and all its means of supply. Seven thousand Portuguese peasantry were employed in bringing in and preparing the timber for the defences; and every soldier not positively on guard was enthusiastic in helping the engineers and artillery in the labour of making the lines impregnable.