« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
St. David, and a lieutenant-colonel in the king's army. genius was soon to be put to the strongest test. Surajah Dowlah, sovereign of Bengal, hated the English. At the head of a great army he marched against Fort-William, determined to destroy that important British settlement, and the fort fell into his hands. The English, to the number of 146, were thrust into a black hole twenty feet square, where, in the course of a stifling Indian night, 123 died of suffocation, after undergoing indescribable suffering. Within forty-eight hours of the intelligence of this horrible crime reaching Madras, an expedition was ordered to the Hooghley under Clive, with a naval armament commanded by Admiral Watson. Calcutta was recovered. But something more was to be done : the fate of India was to be decided. After a toilsome day's march, Clive, at the head of only 3000 men, of whom 1000 were English, took up his quarters in a grove of mango-trees near Plassey. A river lay between him and the enemy 60,000 strong. Should he cross that river and attack with the certainty that defeat would be destruction? A council of war which he called decided in the negative. Nevertheless he, after anxious deliberation, resolved upon hazarding an engagement. The battle commenced at daybreak of the morning of the 20th June 1757. The English fire was so steady, and produced so great an effect, that disorder began soon to spread amongst the multitude-a disorder which Surajah Dowlah, cowardly as he was cruel, increased by his own terror and mental confusion. That immense army became a mob, and in an hour was in headlong flight before the disciplined valour of Clive's troops, who lost only twenty-two killed and fifty wounded. This victory gave the English command of the district round Calcutta, and was followed year after year by large additions of territory. Native princes, as in the cases of the Nabobs of the Carnatic and Bengal, submitted to become pensioned dependants of the Company. The French, before the close of 1759, had been defeated in every part of India, and British power was firmly established.
George II., full of years and glory, died suddenly, without pain, 25th October 1760. The Calendar was reformed during this reign, the British Museum founded, and newspapers began to attain political importance.
Cotemporary Sovereigns and Events.-France: Louis xv. Prussia: Frederick I., II. Russia invades the Crimea (1738). Frederick the Great takes Prague (1744). Earthquake at Lisbon (1755).
Questions.-1. Who was at the head of British affairs during the first part of George 11.'s reign; and what was his character? 2. Write a narrative of the Rebellion of '45. 3. What was the cause and the result of the war with France which broke out in 1755? 4. Give an account of the rise and progress of British rule in India.
3. George III.
(Son of Frederick Prince of Wales, and Grandson of George II.)
CONCLUSION OF THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR-THE AMERICAN WAR-CHANGES OF
George III., on ascending the throne, was in his twenty-third A few months afterwards he married Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg Strelitz, 8th September 1761, a princess, like himself, of decorous manners and devout disposition. Although disposed for peace, the young king found the country still engaged in the Seven Years' War,1 in which all the European powers were taking part, and which was raging, as we have seen, in America and India, as well as on the continent of Europe. On the 15th July (1760), a furious attack was made on the entrenched camp of the English and Hanoverians at Hokenower, which, owing to the distinguished conduct of Lord Granby and his troops, ended. in the total defeat of the enemy. Early in the year 1761, Pon
1 In this war Prussia and England were allied against France, Austria, Sweden, Russia, and Poland. The object of England was the maintenance and extension of her Colonial Possessions, while Prussia was resisting attempts to limit its territory and power on the part of Austria and Russia.
dicherry, the last stronghold of the French in the East Indies, surrendered to Colonel Coote. France was showing a disposition for peace, when the accession of Charles king of Naples (the Two Sicilies) to the throne of Spain, offered an ally in the person of this king, who could not forgive his having been obliged, by the menace of an English fleet in 1742, to sign an engagement of neutrality. A treaty was arranged, called the Family Compact, by which all the sovereigns of the house of Bourbon, viz., the Kings of France, Spain, and the Two Sicilies, signed an agree ment, by which the enemy of one was to be considered the enemy of all (1761). The Spaniards had soon reason to regret this treaty so far as England was concerned, for they lost Havannah, 13th August 1762, with the Philippine Islands, beside ships and treasure in the West Indies to an immense amount. The French West India Islands suffered a like fate. About the same time an attempt by the Spaniards upon Portugal was, with the assistance of British troops, completely repelled. The French king again manifesting a desire for a cessation of hostilities, Lord Bute, now the English prime minister, proposed a renewal of negotiations, and preliminaries for peace were signed at Fontainebleau, 3d November 1762. The Treaty of Paris, which followed in 1763, put an end to the seven years' war, in which Europe lost upwards of a million of men, but which secured to England its colonial possessions, and raised Prussia to its present rank through the splendid talents of its king, Frederick the Great.
England was destined to become engaged, some short time afterwards, in a war with her own American colonies, occasioned by an attempt of the British Government to impose taxes upon the rising communities in the New World who owed her allegiance. colonists denied the right of the mother country to levy taxes for other than colonial purposes, while the government thought the colonists bound to share in the general burdens of the empire. Although the question had been raised as early as 1764, yet nearly ten years elapsed before differences broke out into actual quarrel. Great events could happen then without attracting
WAR WITH AMERICA.
timely notice, because communication between countries was slow, and that great public enlightener, the press, was comparatively in its infancy. For instance, the first partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria-Frederick the Great, Catharine, Maria Theresa-took place in 1772, yet not a word was said about it in the British Parliament, which sat immediately after the consummation of that iniquitous event. As little attention was given to the severance by Russia of the Crimea and other provinces from Turkey, which laid the seeds of future wars involving England herself. In like manner, the English seem not to have appreciated the importance of the movement that had taken place in the American colonies, until news arrived that two ships laden with tea, on which the Americans were required to pay duty, had been boarded by a mob in the harbour of Boston, and the tea destroyed (the 16th December 1773). To punish the Bostonians, the British Government resolved upon removing the customs and all other offices to another town called New Salem. But while Parliament was debating, the Americans were armning for combat. A convention of deputies from all the States met at Philadelphia to maintain the popular cause. Military stores were collected at Concord, a town about twenty miles from Boston, which the British general, Gage, determined to seize; and at Lexington, the 19th April 1775, the first blood was shed in that unhappy war, which ended in the acknowledgment by Great Britain of the independence of the United States.
France, taking advantage of the quarrel with America, signed a treaty with the latter, 6th February 1773, in pursuance of which, beside assisting the Americans with arms and money, she began to threaten England with invasion. A naval engagement was fought between Admiral Keppel and the Brest fleet, 27th July, but without decisive result. The unsatisfactory war with the Americans went on, one man acquiring for himself by his heroism immortal renown-the noble George Washington. Spain at length joined France, as was announced to Parliament (16th June 1779). If Great Britain was to suffer in a war with her own offspring,
INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES. [A.D. 1782.
against which some of her own greatest statesmen never ceased to protest, yet she did not fail to chastise those nations which mixed in the quarrel for their own selfish purposes. The attempt by Spain to recover Gibraltar led to a wonderful defence, which has rendered for ever memorable the name of Elliot, the governor by whose genius and intrepidity that important fortress was preserved.
We must pause to record a disgraceful scene at home. A penal enactment against Roman Catholics having been wisely repealed, a fanatic, Lord George Gordon, under favour of presenting petitions to Parliament, raised a "No Popery" cry, and so inflamed the fury of his followers that they committed the wildest devastation in London. Thirty-six great fires were blazing at once, and the returns of killed amounted to 210, and the wounded to 248. This disgraceful scene took place 8th June 1780. The leader, tried for high treason, was acquitted, and by way of proving his sanity, became a Jew.
As the garrison of Gibraltar was suffering privation, Sir George Rodney was sent with stores for their relief. On his way, he fell in with the Spanish fleet-eleven ships of the line-off Cape St. Vincent, and despite a raging tempest, got in between the Spanish admiral and a dangerous coast, and destroyed seven vessels (16th January 1780). Another foe was to be added to the league against England. As the Dutch claimed the right of a neutral power to carry stores to the Americans—a right which the English denied disputes arose in consequence of our navy searching their vessels to make sure that they had no warlike stores aboard. The annoyances thus occasioned ended in their declaring war. tremendous naval action between the English and Dutch was soon after fought off the Dogger Bank, 5th August 1781, at the end of which the Dutch withdrew, but the English were too crippled to follow.
On the 18th October 1781, the war in America ended by the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at York Town, when reduced to the last extremity, to a combined French and American force greatly