台湾捐献者“生命之火”为湖南5岁患儿点燃“生的希望”

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The garrison of Gibraltar was all this time hard pressed by the Spaniards. Florida Blanca had made a convention with the Emperor of Morocco to refuse the English any supplies; those thrown in by Rodney the year before were nearly exhausted, and they were reduced to grave straits. Admiral Darby was commissioned to convoy one hundred vessels laden with provisions, and to force a way for them into the garrison. Darby not only readily executed his commission, to the great joy of the poor soldiers, but he blockaded the huge Spanish fleet under Admiral Cordova, in the harbour of Cadiz, whilst the stores were landing.

But the surprise of Antwerp and the destruction of the docks of Flushing were determined upon; and Lord Chatham, rather for his name than for any military talent that he possessed, was appointed the commander of the forces. Lord Chatham was so notorious for his sluggish and procrastinating nature, that he had long been nicknamed the late Lord Chatham; the justice of this epithet had been too obvious in all the offices that he had hitherto held; and yet this expedition which demanded the utmost promptness and active skill, was entrusted to him. At the head of the fleet was placed Sir Richard Strachan, a man of no energy. The commander of the ships on such an occasion should have been Lord Cochrane, for Sir Sidney Smith was already engaged on the coast of Italy. The orders for each commander were extremely loose and indefinite thereby leaving every chance of disputes and consequent delays and mishaps; and, to complete the disgraceful management of the Government, no inquiries had been made as to the healthiness or unhealthiness of the district where the army would have to encamp. Though the island of Walcheren had been occupied by our troops under William III., no record was to be found, or, indeed, was sought for, as to the cost of life to our men on that occasion from the climate. The whole plan was laid in ignorance and carried out with carelessness, and it was no wonder, therefore, that it ended in misery and disgrace. To the Czar it appeared most politic that the war with Napoleon, as it must come, should come whilst the British in Spain were harassing him and draining his resources; and, on his part, Buonaparte, resenting the hostile attitude of Alexander, and suspecting his secret understanding with Bernadotte, determined, notwithstanding the ominous character of the war in Spain, to summon an army utterly overwhelming and crush the Czar at once. It was in vain that such of his counsellors as dared urged him to abstain from the Russian invasion. They represented the vast extent of Russia; its enormous deserts, into which the army could retreat, and which must exhaust so large a host as he contemplated; the inhospitable climate; the difficult rivers; the unprofitableness of the conquest, if it succeeded; and the improbability that success there would put an end to the war in Spain, whilst any serious disaster would cause the nations to stand up behind him as one man. These were all arguments of mere policy; for as to the considerations suggested by morality or justice, these had long been abandoned by Buonaparte, and therefore were never even adverted to by his friends.

NAPOLEON I. (From the Portrait by Paul Delaroche.)

Fox and his party still maintained a vigorous and persevering endeavour to remain at peace; but he weakened his efforts by professing to believe that we might yet enter into substantial engagements with the French, who had at this moment no permanent settled Government at all, but a set of puppet Ministers, ruled by a Convention, and the Convention ruled by a mob flaming with the ideas of universal conquest and universal plunder. If Fox had advocated the wisdom of maintaining the defensive as much as possible, and confining ourselves to defending our Dutch allies, as we were bound, his words would have had more weight; but his assurance that we might maintain a full and friendly connection with a people that were butchering each other at home, and belying all their most solemn professions of[416] equity and fraternity towards their dupes abroad, only enabled Pitt to ask him with whom he would negotiateWas it with Robespierre, or the monster Marat, then in the ascendant? "But," added Pitt, "it is not merely to the character of Marat, with whom we would now have to treat, that I object; it is not to the horror of those crimes which have stained their legislatorscrimes in every stage rising above one another in enormity,but I object to the consequences of that character, and to the effect of those crimes. They are such as render a negotiation useless, and must entirely deprive of stability any peace which could be concluded in such circumstances. The moment that the mob of Paris comes under a new leader, mature deliberations are reversed, the most solemn engagements are retracted, or free will is altogether controlled by force. All the crimes which disgrace history have occurred in one country, in a space so short, and with circumstances so aggravated, as to outrun thought and exceed imagination." In fact, to have made an alliance with France at that moment, and for long afterwards, would have been to sanction her crimes, and to share the infamy of her violence and lawlessness abroad. But the British were in no condition to take advantage of American exhaustion. At a time when the Ministry at home had obtained the most magnificent grants from Parliamentgrants for ninety thousand seamen, thirty thousand soldiers, and twenty-five millions of pounds to pay for themthere was scarcely a fleet on the American coasts, and nothing which could be called an army. Had Cornwallis been in possession of an adequate force, he would speedily have cleared all the Southern States. Wherever he came, even with his handful of men, he drove the Americans before him. He now took up his headquarters at Cross Creek, where he sought to rest his troops and recover his sick and wounded. He hoped there to establish a communication with Major Craig, who had been successfully dispatched to take possession of Wilmington, at the mouth of Cape Fear River, but this was not very practicable, and as the country about Cross Creek was destitute of the necessary supplies, Cornwallis himself descended to Wilmington, which he reached on the 7th of April. Colonel Webster and others of his wounded officers died on the march. Greene, with his fragment of an army, as badly provisioned as that of Cornwallis, followed them at a safe distance.

But these were by no means the total of the royal troubles at this period. The youngest and most beloved of George III.'s sisters, Caroline Matilda, had been married to Christian VII. of Denmark. This young man was little better than an idiot, and the poor princess was married to him at the age of sixteen. The marriage of this young couple, and their ascent to the throne, were nearly simultaneous; and, contrary to the usual custom of a monarch, it was deemed advisable that he should travel. In his tour he fell in with the celebrated Struensee, a young physician of Altona. Christian VII., like all weak monarchs, must have favourites. Struensee speedily became the perfect master of Christian's mind and actions, and on their return to Copenhagen he was raised to the rank of count, and soon after was made Prime Minister. His enemies were of course numerous, and scandal soon connected his name with that of the queen. All this especially favoured the plans of the base queen dowager, who, in league with the hostile nobles, feigned a plot against the king; obtained from him, in his bed at midnight, an order for the arrest of the queen, Struensee, and others. The queen was seized half dressed. Struensee was executed with especial barbarities; but the King of England interfered to save his sister, and to procure the succession to her son. The unhappy young queen, however, was separated for ever from her two children, and conveyed to Zell, in Hanoverthe same castle or prison where the unhappy wife of George I. had pined away her life. There she died after a few years, protesting her innocence, though Struensee had confessed his guilt.