问政快报(2020.04.02)

To insure a powerful diversion, the Sultan had engaged the military co-operation of Sweden. Sweden had been forcibly deprived of Finland by Peter the Great, and she longed to recover it. She had a brave army, but no money. The Grand Turk, to enable her to commence the enterprise, had sent her a present of about four hundred thousand pounds sterling. Sweden put her fleet in preparation in all haste, and had Pitt merely allowed the Russian fleet to quit the Baltic, there was nothing to prevent the execution of the Swedish design on Finland, nor, indeed, of marching directly on St. Petersburg in the absence of the army.

ARREST OF THE RAJAH OF BENARES. (See p. 334.)

But there was no rest for Frederick. Daun was overrunning Saxony; had reduced Leipsic, Wittenberg, and Torgau. Frederick marched against him, retook Leipsic, and came up with Daun at Torgau on the 3rd of November. There a most sanguinary battle took place, which lasted all day and late into the night. Within half an hour five thousand of Frederick's grenadiers, the pride of his army, were killed by Daun's batteries of four hundred cannon. Frederick was himself disabled and carried into the rear, and altogether fourteen thousand Prussians were killed or wounded, and twenty thousand of the Austrians. This scene of savage slaughter closed the campaign. The Austrians evacuated Saxony, with the exception of Dresden; the Russians re-passed the Oder, and Frederick took up his winter quarters at Leipsic.

The Reformers made repeated and strenuous efforts to obtain a parliamentary expression of the desirableness of this country refraining from interfering with the internal affairs of France, and of making specific arrangements with that country. Earl Stanhope made such a motion in the Lords[441] on the 6th of January, and the Duke of Bedford made a similar one on the 27th of February. Lord Grey had moved the same thing on the day before, but all these endeavours were rendered abortive by Pitt's standing majority. It was replied that France had no government that could be treated with, and Lord Mansfield asserted that we had a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country that acted on principles dangerous to its neighbour. Fox, on the 24th of March, moved for a committee of the whole House to inquire into the state of the nation, but this was rejected on the ground that the times were too critical, and Canning adduced the condition of Ireland, just on the verge of rebellion, as a sufficient cause for not ascertaining our actual state.

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.