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"My lords," he said, "I rejoice that the grave has not closed upon me; that I am still alive to lift up my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and most noble monarchy. Pressed down as I am by the hand of infirmity, I am little able to assist my country in this most perilous conjuncture; but, my lords, whilst I have sense and memory, I will never consent to deprive the royal offspring of the House of Brunswick, the heirs of" here he faltered for some moments, whilst striving to recall the name"of the Princess Sophia, of their fairest inheritance. My lords, his Majesty succeeded to an empire as great in extent as its reputation was unsullied. Shall we tarnish the lustre of that empire by an ignominious surrender of its rights and fairest possessions? Shall this great kingdom, which has survived whole and entire the Danish depredations the Scotch inroads, and the Norman conquestthat has stood the threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada, now fall prostrate before the House of Bourbon? Surely, my lords, this nation is no longer what it was! Shall a people that fifteen years ago were the terror of the world now stoop so low as to tell this ancient, inveterate enemy'Take all we have, only give us peace'? It is impossible! I wage war with no man or set of men; I wish for none of their employments; nor would I co-operate with men who persist in unretracted errorwho, instead of acting on a firm, decisive line of conduct, halt between two opinions where there is no middle path. In God's name, if it is absolutely necessary to declare either for peace or war, and the former cannot be preserved with honour, why is not the latter commenced without hesitation? I am not, I confess, well informed of the resources of this kingdom; but I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just rights, though I know them not. But, my lords, any state is better than despair. Let us, at least, make one effort, and if we must fall, let us fall like men!" [333]

Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?"

At the time of this armistice, Napoleon, by the great battles of Lützen and Bautzen, had recovered his prestige sufficiently to induce the German Confederates of the Rhine to stand by him; but he was by no means what he had been. The[67] opinion of his invincibility had been irreparably damaged by the Russian campaign, and the success in these battles was not of a character to give confidence to his own army. They saw that the Allies had lost all superstitious fear of him. To assist in the negotiations of this armistice, Buonaparte sent for his two ablest heads, Fouch and Talleyrand, whom he had so long thrown from him for their sound advice. If Buonaparte could have heard, too, what was really going on in France, what were the growing feelings there, he would have been startled by a most ominous condition of things. But he had thoroughly shut out from himself the voice of public opinion, by his treatment of the press and of liberty, and he now was to suffer for it. Great Britain, on the 14th of June, had concluded an alliance with Russia and Prussia, and promised to send ample materials of assistance, even an army to the north of Prussia; and many British officers of the highest rank repaired to the headquarters of the Allies. When Great Britain was asked to take part in this negotiation she refused, declaring it useless, as Napoleon would not grant the only demands which the Allies ought to make. Napoleon now called up his auxiliary forces from Saxony, Würtemberg, Bavaria, and from all the Confederation of the Rhine, as well as new battalions from France, and advanced against the Russians. In the first place, the French, who had completed the subjugation of the Prussian states east of the Oder, pushed forward towards Poland, to attack the Russian general, Benningsen, who advanced to Warsaw, and occupied it in conjunction with the Prussians. Benningsen, however, finding the Prussians few and dispirited, fell back beyond the Vistula, and Murat, at the head of the French vanguard, entered Warsaw on the 28th of November. He was soon after joined there by Buonaparte, and Warsaw being put into a state of defence, the French army advanced to the Vistula and the Bug, in spite of the lateness of the season. Benningsen again retreated behind the Wkra, where he united his forces with those of Generals Buxhowden and Kaminskoi. Kaminskoi took the supreme command. When Napoleon arrived at the Wkra on the 23rd of December, he formed his army into three divisions, and forced the passages of the river. Kaminskoi fell back behind the Niemen, and the French pursued him, committing some injury on him. This trifling advantage Napoleon converted, in his bulletins to Paris, into the rout and general defeat of the Russians. It was true that the Russians were destitute of stores, having applied to Britain for money, and obtained only eighty thousand pounds. They fought, therefore, under great disadvantages, against an army furnished with everything. Notwithstanding, Benningsen, who was by far the most vigorous of their generalsfor Kaminskoi was fast falling into lunacyposted himself strongly behind Pultusk, his right led by Barclay de Tolly, and his left by Ostermann. Kaminskoi ordered Benningsen to retreat, but he refused, and stood his ground. At first Tolly was driven back by Lannes and Davoust, but Benningsen converted this disadvantage into a ruse, ordering Tolly to continue his retreat, till the French were drawn on, so that he could bring down his left wing on them. This he did with such effect that he killed and wounded nearly eight thousand of them, having, however, himself five thousand killed and wounded. Lannes and five other generals were amongst the wounded. The French seized the opportunity of darkness to retreat with such speed, that the next morning not a trace of them could be seen near Pultusk. Prince Galitzin fought another division of the French the same day at Golynim, and with the same success. Had Benningsen had the chief command, and brought down the whole united Russian army on Napoleon, the victory must have been most decisive; as it was, it taught the French that they had different troops to Prussians or Austrians to contend with. They drew off, and went into winter quarters at Warsaw and the towns to the eastward. The chief command of the Russian army was now conferred on Benningsen, and so far from Buonaparte having, as he boasted, brought the war to a close with the year, we shall find Benningsen, at the head of ninety thousand men, soon forcing him into a winter campaign. Before the close of 1792 the French resolved to send an ambassador to the United States to demand a return of the aid given to the Americans in their revolution, by declaration of war against Great Britain. M. Genet was dispatched for this purpose at the beginning of 1793.[415] Still neutrality was maintained, though our ambassador was withdrawn from Paris, and M. Chauvelin was no longer recognised in an official capacity by the British Court. This gentleman, however, continued in London, ignoring the loss of his official character, and officiously pressing himself on the attention of Ministers as still French plenipotentiary. Lord Grenville was repeatedly obliged to remind him that he had no power to correspond with him officially. He, however, informed him privately that, if the French Government wished to be duly recognised in Great Britain, they must give up their assumed right of aggression on neighbouring countries and of interference with established Governments. The French Girondist Ministers took advantage of this letter which Chauvelin transmitted to them to send a reply, in which, however, having now invaded Holland, they gave no intimation of any intention of retiring. They even declared that it was their intention to go to war with Britain; and if the British Government did not comply with their desires, and enter into regular communication with them, they would prepare for war. Lord Grenville returned this letter, informing Chauvelin again that he could receive no official correspondence from him in a private capacity. This was on the 7th of January, 1793; Chauvelin continued to press his communications on Lord Grenville, complaining of the Alien Bill, and on the 18th presented letters of credence. Lord Grenville informed him, in reply, that his Majesty in the present circumstances could not receive them. These circumstances were the trial and conviction of Louis XVI. On the 24th arrived the news of Louis's execution, and Chauvelin immediately received passports for himself and suite, and an order to quit the kingdom within eight days. This order created the utmost exultation in the French Convention, for the Jacobins were rabid for war with all the world, and on the 1st of February the Convention declared war against Britain, and the news reached London on the 4th. Such was the Ministerial explanation.

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ASSASSINATION OF SPENCER PERCEVAL. (See p. 23.) "It was always," said Mr. Brougham, "the queen's sad fate to lose her best stay, her strongest and surest protection, when danger threatened her; and by a coincidence most miraculous in her eventful history, not one of her intrepid defenders was ever withdrawn from her without that loss being the immediate signal for the renewal of momentous attacks upon her honour and her life. Mr. Pitt, who had been her constant friend and protector, died in 1806. A few weeks after that event took place, the first attack was levelled at her. Mr. Pitt left her as a legacy to Mr. Perceval, who became her best, her most undaunted, her firmest protector. But no sooner had the hand of an assassin laid prostrate that Minister, than her Royal Highness felt the force of the blow by the commencement of a renewed attack, though she had but just been borne through the last by Mr. Perceval's skilful and powerful defence of her character. Mr. Whitbread then undertook her protection; but soon that melancholy catastrophe happened which all good men of every political party in the State, he believed, sincerely and universally lamented. Then came with Mr. Whitbread's dreadful loss the murmuring of that storm which was so soon to burst with all its tempestuous fury upon her hapless and devoted head. Her child still lived, and was her friend; her enemies were afraid to strike, for they, in the wisdom of the world, worshipped the rising sun. But when she lost that amiable and beloved daughter, she had no protector; her enemies had nothing to dread; innocent or guilty, there was no hope, and she yielded to the entreaty of those who advised her residence out of this country. Who, indeed, could love persecution so steadfastly as to stay and brave its renewal and continuance, and harass the feelings of the only one she loved so dearly by combating such repeated attacks, which were still reiterated after the echo of the fullest acquittal? It was, however, reserved for the Milan Commission to concentrate and condense all the threatening clouds which were prepared to burst over her ill-fated head; and as if it were utterly impossible that the queen could lose a single protector without the loss being instantaneously followed by the commencement of some important step against her, the same day which saw the remains of her venerable Sovereign entombedof that beloved Sovereign who was, from the outset, her constant father and friendthat same sun which shone upon the monarch's tomb ushered into the palace of his illustrious son and successor one of the perjured witnesses who were brought over to depose against her Majesty's life.

Such language was certain to irritate, in no ordinary degree, the full-blown pride of Buonaparte. It is probable that he was only too desirous of finding a cause of quarrel with Prussia. He longed to avenge himself on her for keeping him in a state of tantalising uncertainty during his Austrian campaign; and he wished to bring the whole of Germany under his dominion. He replied, through Talleyrand, that Prussia had no right to demand from him that he should withdraw his troops from friendly States, and that they should remain there as long as he pleased. In fact, he was already watching the movements of Prussia. He was well aware of the negotiations with Russia, he had full information of the man?uvring of troops, and that the Queen of Prussia, in the uniform of the regiment called by her name, had been at reviews of the army, encouraging the soldiers by her words. He had, weeks before, assembled his principal marshalsSoult, Murat, Augereau, and Bernadottein Paris, and, with them, sketched the plan of the campaign against Prussia. Four days before Knobelsdorff presented the King of Prussia's letter to Talleyrand Napoleon had quitted Paris, and was on the Rhine, directing the march of his forces there, and calling for the contingents from the princes of the Rhenish Confederation; nay, so forward were his measures, that his army in Germany, under Berthier, stretched from Baden to Düsseldorf, and from Frankfort-on-the-Main to Nuremberg. At the same time he commenced a series of the bitterest attacks on Prussia in the Moniteur and other papers under his control, and of the vilest and most unmanly attacks on the character of the Queen of Prussia, a most interesting and amiable woman, whose only crime was her patriotism.