The Russians were seen to be falling back as they advanced, and Buonaparteimpatient to overtake and rout thempushed forward his troops rapidly. On reaching the river Wilna it was found to be swollen by the rain, and the bridges over it were demolished; but Buonaparte ordered a body of Polish lancers to cross it by swimming. They dashed into the torrent, and were swept away by it almost to a man, and drowned before the eyes of the whole army. On the 28th of June, however, Napoleon managed to reach Wilna, which Barclay de Tolly had evacuated at his approach, and there he remained till the 16th of July, for he had outmarched his supplies, few of his waggons having even reached the Niemen, owing to the state of the country through which they had to be dragged, and the Russians had taken care to carry off or destroy all provisions for man and horse as they retreated. His vast host began, therefore, at once to feel all the horrors of famine, and of those other scourges that were soon to destroy them by hundreds of thousands. Meanwhile, the mission of the Abb de Pradt to Poland had failed. The abb, believing in the reality of the promises of Buonaparte, had faithfully executed his mission. The Poles met in diet at Warsaw, and expressed their gratitude to the Emperor for his grand design of restoring their nation. The country was all enthusiasm, and a host of soldiers would soon have appeared to join his standard, when Napoleon returned them an evasive answer, saying that he could not do all that he wished, as he was under engagement to Austria not to deprive her of Galicia. As to the provinces held by Russia, he assured them thatprovided they showed themselves brave in his cause"Providence would crown their good cause with success." This positive information regarding Austriathis vague statement regarding Russia, at once showed the hollow hypocrisy of the man, and from that moment all faith was lost in him in Poland. To have restored Poland was in the power of Buonaparte, and would have been the act of a great man; but Buonaparte was not a great man, morally: he could not form a noble designhe could form only a selfish one. But he immediately felt the consequences of his base deceit. The Poles remained quiet; nor did the people of Lithuania respond to his calls on them to rise in insurrection against Russia. They saw that he had intended to deceive the Poles, and they felt that, should he make peace with Russia, he would at once sacrifice them. They were about to form a guard of honour for him, but they instantly abandoned the design; and thus his miserable policy destroyed all the effect which he contemplated from the action of the nations on the Russian frontiers.

On the 21st of March Parliament was dissolved by proclamation, and the same day the Gazette announced several of the changes determined on in the Ministry. The Duke of Bedford retired from the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, and his place was taken by the Earl of Halifax. Legge, who was considered too much in the interest of Pitt, was dismissed, and Lord Barrington now took his place of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Charles Townshend took Barrington's former office, and Sir Francis Dashwood became Treasurer of the Chambers in room of Townshend. Both Townshend and Dashwood had gone over to the party of Bute. Lord Holderness was now made to do what Dodington had before suggested; he resigned his office of Secretary of State, and in due course Bute was gazetted as appointed to that post. No notice of this change had been communicated to Pitt, the other and Chief Secretary, till it took place.

The Hanoverian Tories now again joined the Whigs, and their demands compelled the Government to issue a proclamation offering a reward of five thousand pounds for the apprehension of the Pretender should he attempt to land anywhere in Great Britain. Wharton proposed that the words "Alive or Dead" should be inserted in the proclamation, but the queen rejected them with horror. The House of Lords passed a resolution increasing the reward to one hundred thousand pounds. It was made high treason, too, to enlist or be enlisted for the Pretender. Bolingbroke, however, assured Iberville, a French agent, that "it would make no difference;" and that the queen regarded the whole as a mere sop to the public was evinced by her immediately afterwards receiving the Earl of Mar, a most determined Jacobite, at Court on his marriage with Lady Francis Pierrepoint, sister of the celebrated Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and soon after making this man one of her Ministers of State, who, in the very next year, headed the Jacobite rebellion. The foreign relations of England at this period were, on the whole, satisfactoryas might be expected from the fact that our foreign policy was committed to the able management of Lord Palmerston, who, while sympathising with oppressed nationalities, acted steadily upon the principle of non-intervention. Considering, however, the comparative smallness o our naval and military forces, the formidable military powers of Russia and France created a good deal of uneasiness, which the king expressed in one of his odd impromptu speeches at Windsor. On the 19th of February there was a debate in the House of Commons on Eastern affairs, in which the vast resources and aggressive policy Of Russia were placed in a strong light. On that occasion Lord Dudley Stuart said, "Russia has 50,000,000 subjects in Europe alone, exclusive of Asia; an army of 700,000 men, and a navy of eighty line-of-battle ships and frigates, guided by the energy of a Government of unmitigated despotism, at whose absolute and unlimited disposal stand persons and property of every description. These formidable means are constantly applied to purposes of territorial aggrandisement, and every new acquisition becomes the means of gaining others. Who can tell that the Hellespont may not be subject to Russia at any moment? She has a large fleet in the Black Sea, full command of the mouths of the Danube, and of the commercial marine cities of Odessa and Trebizond. In three days she may be at Constantinople from Sebastopol; and if once there, the Dardanelles will be so fortified by Russian engineers that she can never be expelled except by a general war. She could be in entire possession of these important straits before any expedition could be sent from this country, even if such a thing could be thought of against the enormous military force at the command of Russia. That Russia is determined to have the Dardanelles is evident from the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, by which she began by excluding the ships of all other nations. The effect of this treaty was to exclude any ship of war from these straits, except with the permission of Russia. Russia might at any moment insist on the exclusion of our ships of war from the Dardanellesnay, she has already done so; for when Lord Durham, going on his late embassy to the Court of St. Petersburg, arrived at the Dardanelles in a frigate, he was obliged to go on board the Pluto, an armed vessel without her guns, before he could pass the straits; and when he arrived at Sebastopol no salute was fired, and the excuse given was that they did not know the Pluto from a merchant vessel. But both before and since Lord Durham went, Russian ships of war, with their guns out and their streamers flying, passed through the Black Sea to the Dardanelles, and again through[412] the Dardanelles to the Black Sea. Russia has now fifteen ships of the line and seven frigates in the Black Sea. Sebastopol is only three days' sail from the Hellespont. Turkey has no force capable of resisting such an armament; the forts of the Hellespont are incapable of defence against a land force, for they are open in the rear. Russia might any day have 100,000 men in Constantinople before England or France could even fit out expeditions to defend it." One of the first things which the Regent did was to re-appoint the Duke of York to the post of Commander-in-chief of the Forces. Old Sir David Dundas, as thoroughly aware of his unfitness for the office as the army itself was, had requested leave to retire, and on the 25th of May the appointment of the duke was gazetted. There was a considerable expression of disapproval in the House of Commons of this measure. Lord Milton moved that it was highly improper and indecorous, and he was supported by Lord Althorp, Mr. Wynn, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Whitbread, and others; but the facts which had come to light through Mrs. Clarke's trials, both regarding her and her champion, Colonel Wardle, had mitigated the public feeling towards the duke so far, that the motion was rejected by a majority of two hundred and ninety-six against forty-seven. It is certain that the change from the duke to Sir David Dundas, so far as the affairs of the army were concerned, was much for the worse. The duke was highly popular in that office with the soldiers, and he rendered himself more so by immediately establishing regimental schools for their children on Dr. Bell's system.

The British Cabinet having come to the conclusion that the Duke of Wellington ought not to abstain from attending the Congress because of its meeting in an Italian city, and thinking so himself, he set out for Verona, after a fortnight's sojourn in Vienna. Previous to this, however, Chatham had thought over several decisive measures, and sketched out a scheme of foreign and domestic policy, which marked how far above the intellectual grasp of most of his contemporaries was that of his mind. He determined, if possible, to form an alliance of European states against the Family Compact of the Bourbons in France and Spain; to reform the Government of Ireland, which greatly needed it, and that of India.

The French were driven again out of Naples by the end of July. Cardinal Ruffo brought down a wild army of Calabrians, and an army made up of Russians, Turks, Portuguese, and British, completed the expulsion of the Republicans and restored the king. In this restoration Nelson and his squadron took a most effective part; but unfortunately for his fame, he at this time became acquainted with Lady Hamilton, the wife of the British ambassador, and gave himself up entirely to her fascinations. Lady Hamilton was the friend of the Queen of Naples (a sister of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette), and she was said to have instigated Nelson to take a melancholy part in the savage retaliations of the court on the Neapolitan Republicans, but the charge has since been completely disproved. Nelson sent Commodore Trowbridge to Civita Vecchia to blockade it, and both that port and the castle of St. Angelo soon surrendered, and Captain Lewis rowed up the Tiber in his barge, hoisted the British colours on the Capitol, and acted as Governor of Rome till Pius VI., ejected by the French in the previous year, was nominally restored. The poor old man, however, never returned to his kingdom; he died at Valence, on the Rh?ne, on the 29th of August of this year. The election of the new Pope, Pius VII., did not take place till March, 1800. Before the end of the year, nearly all Italy, except Genoa, was cleared of the French. We need not follow the track of the deserted army with much minuteness. The moment Buonaparte was gone, all discipline and command ceased. The chief officers quarrelled vehemently; and Murat denounced his Imperial brother-in-law in the bitterest terms, and escaped away into Italy on the first opportunity. The Austrians and Prussians marched off, and the French, pursued by the Russians till they crossed the Niemen, were continually assailed, and dispersed or killed; so that Macdonald at length reached K?nigsberg with nine thousand men, the body of French presenting anything but the appearance of an army! In this fatal campaign, Boutourlin states that, of this splendid army, one hundred and twenty-five thousand were killed; one hundred and thirty-two thousand died from fatigue, hunger, and the severity of the climate; and one hundred and ninety-three thousand, including forty-eight generals and three thousand officers, were taken prisonersan awful comment on the assertions of Buonaparte that he had beaten the Russians everywhere. The nine thousand soldiers who returned with Macdonald leave only eleven thousand to be accounted for of the whole four hundred and seventy thousand, besides women, children, and camp servitors, who entered Russia. These eleven thousand were, no doubt, dispersed fugitives, some of whom might eventually reach France. Such a destruction of human life in one campaign, so utterly unfelt for by the man who[55] occasioned it, stands alone in the history of this world's miserable wars. The crime of it, as it rests on the head of that guilty soul, is beyond mortal calculation.

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The next step in the increase of means of traffic was the construction of canals. The rivers had previously been rendered more navigable by removing obstructions, deepening channels, and making good towing-paths along their banks; but now it was projected to make artificial rivers. In this scheme, Richard Brindley, under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater, was the great engineer; and his intrepid genius dictated to him to carry these canals over hills by locks, over rivers by aqueducts, and through the heart of hills by tunnels. These enterprises at that moment appeared, to the ordinary run of civil engineers, as rash experiments, which were sure to prove abortive. As all new ideas are, these ideas, now so commonplace, were ridiculed by the wise ones as little short of madness. Mr. Brindley's first great work was the formation of the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, from Worsley to Manchester. In this he at once proved all his plans of locks, tunnels, and aqueducts. He conducted his canal by an aqueduct over the river Irwell, at an elevation of thirty-nine feet; and those learned engineers who had laughed at the scheme as "a castle in the air," might now see boats passing over the river at that height with the greatest ease, while other boats were being drawn up the Irwell against the stream and under the aqueduct with five times the labour. At Worsley the canal was conducted into the very heart of the coal-mine by a tunnel, with branches, which conducted the boats up to the different parts of the[191] mine, so that the coal could be loaded on the spot where it was dug. The immediate effect of this canal was to reduce coals in Manchester to half the former price; and the canal being extended so as to connect it with the Mersey, at Runcorn, it reduced the freight of goods from Manchester to Liverpool to the same extent, from twelve shillings to six shillings per ton, the land carriage having been forty shillings. Brindley was next engaged to execute the Grand Trunk Canal, which united the Trent and Mersey, carrying it through Birmingham, Chesterfield, and to Nottingham. This was commenced in 1766, and exhibited further examples of his undaunted skill, and, as he had been laughed at by the pedants of the profession, he now in his turn laughed at their puny mediocrity. One of his tunnels, at Harecastle Hill, in Staffordshire, was two thousand eight hundred and eighty yards long, twelve feet wide, nine high, and in some parts seventy yards below the surface of the ground. This tunnel, after half a century's use, was found too confined for the traffic, and a new one, much wider, was made by Telford. By this time the art of tunnelling had made great progress, and whilst Brindley required eleven years to complete his tunnel, Telford made his much larger one in three. Many causes intervened to check for a time the progress of canals, so that from 1760 to 1774 only nineteen Acts were passed for them; but in the two years of 1793 and 1794 no fewer than thirty-six new Bills were introduced to Parliament, with others for extending and amending rivers, making altogether forty-seven Acts, the expenditure on the canals of these two years' projection amounting to five million three hundred thousand pounds. The work now went on rapidly, and investments in canal shares exhibited at that day, in miniature, the great fever of railway speculation at a later period. Lines of canals were made to connect the Thames, the Tweed, the Severn, and the Mersey; so that the great ports of London, Liverpool, Hull, and Bristol were connected by them, and put into communication with nearly all the great inland manufacturing towns. In 1779 a ship-canal was completed from the Forth to the Clydea work proposed as early as the reign of Charles II. This canal, thirty-five miles in length, had thirty-nine locks, which carried the canal to a height of one hundred and fifty-six feet above the sea, and it crossed the river Kelvin by an aqueduct eighty-three feet from the bed of the river to the top of the masonry. A few years later a much larger ship-canal united Gloucester to the Severn, and wonderfully increased the trade and growth of that city.

HENRY FIELDING. (The Portrait by Hogarth; the Border by James Basire.)