Though war had long been foreseen with France, when it took place we had no fleet in a proper condition to put to sea. It was not till the 14th of July that Lord Howe, who had taken the command of the Channel fleet, sailed from Spithead with fifteen ships of the line, three of which were first-rates, but none of them of that speed and equipment which they ought to have been. He soon obtained intelligence of a French fleet of seventeen sail of the line, seen westward of Belleisle. He sent into Plymouth, and had two third-rate vessels added to his squadron. On the 31st of July he caught sight of the French fleet, but never came up with them, the French ships being better sailers. After beating about in vain, he returned to port, anchoring in Torbay on the 4th of September. At the end of October Howe put to sea again with twenty-four sail of the line and several frigates, and several times came near the French fleet, but could never get to engage. He, however, protected our merchant vessels and disciplined his sailors. One French ship was taken off Barfleur by Captain Saumarez of the Crescent, and that was all.

The battle of Falkirk, which in itself appeared so brilliant an affair for Prince Charles, was really one of his most serious disasters. The Highlanders, according to their regular custom when loaded with plunder, went off in great numbers to their homes with their booty. His chief officers became furious against each other in discussing their respective merits in the battle. Lord George Murray, who had himself behaved most bravely in the field, complained that Lord John Drummond had not exerted himself, or pursuit might have been made and the royal army been utterly annihilated. This spirit of discontent was greatly aggravated by the siege of the castle of Stirling. Old General Blakeney, who commanded the garrison, declared he would hold out to the last man, in spite of the terrible threats of Lord George Murray if he did not surrender. The Highlanders grew disgusted with work so contrary to their habits; and, indeed, the French engineer, the so-called Marquis de Mirabelle, was so utterly ignorant of his profession, that the batteries which he constructed were commanded by the castle, and the men were so much exposed that they were in danger of being destroyed before they took the fortress. Accordingly, on the 24th of January they struck to a man, and refused to go any more into the trenches.

ST. JUST. (After the Portrait by David.) TEMPLE BAR IN 1800.

But all this could not have prevailed with Bernadottewho leaned fondly and tenaciously towards France from old associationshad not the unbearable pride, insolence, and domineering spirit of Napoleon repelled him, and finally decided his course. So late as March, 1811, Bernadotte used this language to M. Alquier, the French ambassador, when pressed by him to decide for France:"I must have NorwayNorway which Sweden desires, and which desires to belong to Sweden, and I can obtain it through another power than France." "From England, perhaps?" interposed the ambassador. "Well, yes, from England; but I protest that I only desire to adhere to the Emperor. Let his majesty give me Norway; let the Swedish people believe that I owe to him that mark of protection, and I will guarantee all the changes that he desires in the system and government of Sweden. I promise him fifty thousand men, ready equipped by the end of May, and ten thousand more by July. I will lead them wherever he wishes. I will execute any enterprise that he may direct. Behold that western point of Norway. It is separated from England only by a sail of twenty-four hours, with a wind which scarcely ever varies. I will go there if he wishes!" As for the poems of Ossian, he made a violent attack upon them in his "Tour to the Western Isles."


These arrangements having been made, the sovereigns of Russia and Prussia came over to London on a visit to the Prince Regent, and to take a look at that wonderful capital which had poured out such torrents of gold to bring up their armies to Paris. With them came the Duchess of Oldenburg, the sister of the Czar, the two sons of the King of Prussia, and a great number of the victorious field-marshals, generals, princes, dukes, barons, and the like. But the two grand favourites of the people were Platoff, whose Cossacks had charmed the British people so by their wild prowess, and the bluff old Marshal Blucher. This was a hero exactly after the British heartblunt, uncompromising, and, like the British, never knowing when he was beaten.

Mr. Nicholls next applied himself to the solution of the problem how the workhouse system, which had been safely and effectually applied to depauperise England, might be applied with safety and efficiency to put down mendicancy and relieve destitution in Ireland. In that country the task was beset with peculiar difficulties. Assuming the principle that the pauper should not be better off than the labourer, it would be difficult to devise any workhouse dress, diet, or lodging that would not be better than what many of the poor actually enjoyed. But, on the other hand, the Irish poor were fond of change, hopeful, sanguine, migratory, desultory in their habits, hating all restraints of order and system, averse from the trouble of cleanliness; and rather than be subject to the restrictions and regularity of a workhouse, an Irishman, in health and strength, would wander the world over to obtain a living. Hence, no matter how well he might be lodged, fed, and clad in a workhouse, he could not endure the confinement. Consequently, Mr. Nicholls found in the state of Ireland no sufficient reason for departing from the principle of the English Poor Law, which recognises destitution alone as the ground of relief, nor for establishing a distinction in the one country that does not exist in the other.

This majority of the Coalition compelled Lord Shelburne to resign; but the rest of the Administration remained in their places, in the hope that Pitt would now take the Premiership. In fact, the king, on the 24th of February, sent for Pitt and proposed this to him; but Pitt was too sensible of the impossibility of maintaining himself against the present combination of parties. The next day Dundas moved and carried an adjournment for three days, to give time for the arrangement of a new Cabinet. Pitt continued to persist in declining to take the Premiership, and on the 2nd or 3rd of March the king sent for Lord North. His proposal was that North should resume the management of affairs; but North insisted on bringing in his new friends, and to that the king objected. Matters remained in this impracticable condition till the 12th, when the king sent for North, and proposed that the Duke of Portland should be asked to form an Administration; but this did not at all advance matters, for Portland was equally determined with North to maintain the Coalition, and the king was resolved to have nothing to do with Fox, whilst Fox was equally determined not to admit the king's friend, Lord Stormont, to any Cabinet of which he was a member. On the 31st the announcement was made that Pitt had resigned, and that the king was prepared to submit to the terms of the Coalition. George, with deep and inward groans, submitted himself once more to the slavery of the great Whig houses, and, as some small recompense, the Coalition admitted Lord Stormont to a place in the Cabinet.

An active warfare had been going on at the same time in North Carolina. Lord Cornwallis had, however, no longer to compete with the inefficient Gates, but with General Greene, a much more vigorous man. On the 17th of January, Colonel Tarleton, who had been dispatched with a thousand men, horse and foot, to attack a body of Americans under General Morgan, came up with them at a place called Cowpens. Tarleton's troops were worn out by their long march, but that impetuous officer gave them no time to rest themselves, but fell on the enemy with loud shouts. The militia fled at once, and the advance of the English endangered the flanks of the Continentals, and it became necessary to make a retrograde movement. This Tarleton mistook for a retreat, so accustomed was he to carry all before him, and his men were rushing on without regard to order, when the Americans suddenly faced about, poured a deadly fire into the British at thirty yards' distance, and then,[280] briskly charging, broke their already disorderly line. Being closely pursued, they lost, in killed and wounded, upwards of five hundred men.

Britain had seen her Continental Allies fall away one by one. The time was now approaching when some good allies might have been very useful to herself, if such people were ever to be found. We have seen that, during the American Revolution, the rebellious colonists found admirable allies in the Irish. They had no difficulty in exciting disturbances amongst that ardent Celtic race, and thus greatly to augment our difficulties. No sooner did the French commence the work of revolution than the Irish became transported with admiration of their doings. Not all the bloodshed and horrors of that wild drama could abate their delight in them, and their desire to invite them over to liberate Ireland, as they had liberated Belgium. These views found expression in the north of Ireland, especially in Belfast and other places, where the population was Presbyterian and to a certain extent Republican. The Roman Catholics were inert, and disposed to wait patiently. Ever since the American revolt the necessity of conciliating the Irish had been impressed on the British Government, and many important concessions had been granted them. They had not yet obtained Catholic emancipation, but the public mind was ripening for it, and the chief difficulty was the opposition of the extreme Protestant party in the Irish Parliament. Whatever were the evils which England had inflicted on Ireland, they were nothing compared with those which French fraternity would have perpetrated. But the United Irishmen, as the revolutionaries called themselves, could see nothing of this, not even after all the world had witnessed the French mode of liberating Belgium, and French waggons, guarded by soldiers, were day after day, and month after month, bearing over the Alps the priceless chefs-d'?uvre of the arts from ravaged Italy. In the spring of 1798 the preparations of the French Directory for the invasion of Ireland were too open and notorious to be overlooked by anybody.

"Child, is thy father dead?"