The age was remarkably prolific in female poets and novelists, some of whom have taken as high a rank in literature as their sex have done in any age. Lady Blessington and Lady Morgan were not young at the death of George III., but many of their most celebrated works were published during the two subsequent reigns. The former, soon after the death of Lord Blessington in 1829, fixed her residence in London at Gore House, which became the centre of attraction for men of talent and distinction in every department. Even great statesmen and Ministers of the Crown sometimes spent their evenings in her circle, which was then unrivalled in London for the combined charms of beauty, wit, and brilliant conversation; and besides, all the celebrities and lions of London were sure to be met there. The ambiguous attachment that so long subsisted between her and Count D'Orsay, one of the most accomplished men of the age, however, excluded Lady Blessington from the best society. The heavy expenses of her establishment compelled her to work hard with her pen, and she produced a number of works, which were in great demand in the circulating libraries of the day. They are no longer read. Debt at length broke up the establishment at Gore House, and all its precious collections passed under the hammer of the auctioneer, to satisfy inexorable creditors. Lady Blessington removed to Paris, where she lived in retirement for some years, and died in 1849. Lady Morgan (Sydney Owenson) was before the country as an author for nearly half a century. She was born in Dublin, in 1783, and died in 1859. Before she was sixteen years of age she was the author of two novels. Her third work, "The Wild Irish Girl," brought to her the fame for which she longed, and made her a celebrity. In 1811 she married Sir Charles Morgan, a Dublin physician. Her principal works as a novelist were "Patriotic Sketches," "O'Donnell," "Florence M'Carthy," and "The O'Briens and O'Flahertys," which was published in 1827.
Meanwhile Lord Howe had been on the look-out some time for the French fleet, which, it was understood, was about to leave Brest, in order to meet a convoy of merchant ships from the West Indies, and aid it in bringing that trade fleet into port. On reaching Brest, however, he discovered that the French fleet had sailed, and it was not till the 28th of May that he caught sight of it out at sea, opposite the coast of Brittany. The French fleet, commanded by Admiral Villaret Joyeuse, was greatly superior to Howe's in ships, number of seamen, and weight of metal. Howe had twenty-five sail of the line and five frigates, carrying two thousand and ninety-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-one thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds, and sixteen thousand six hundred and forty-seven men. Joyeuse, now joined by Admiral Neilly, had twenty-six line-of-battle ships and smaller vessels, carrying two thousand one hundred and fifty-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-five thousand five hundred and twenty-one pounds, and nineteen thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight men. After some skirmishing, on the 1st of June—"the glorious first"—Howe came to close quarters with the enemy, who was compelled to fight by the presence of the Conventional Commissioner Bon St. André. He ordered his fleet to follow his ship, the Charlotte, in cutting right through the enemy's line. Only five ships, however, accomplished this so as to engage the French to the leeward, and prevent them from escaping. Howe afterwards complained that some of his captains had not obeyed his orders, and threatened them with a court-martial; but some replied that their ships were in such bad sailing condition that they could not effect this movement, and others that they did not understand the signal. Thus, five vessels fighting to the leeward, and the rest to the windward, the battle raged furiously from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon, when the French admiral sheered off for Brest, leaving behind seven of his finest vessels in the hands of the British. The British lost in the action two hundred and seventy-nine men, and had eight hundred and seventy-seven wounded. The French lost in six of the captured ships alone six hundred and ninety men, and had five hundred and eighty wounded. The seventh, the Vengeur, went down almost as soon as the British flag was hoisted on her, with, it is supposed, three hundred men in her. Altogether, it is likely that the French did not lose less than fifteen hundred men, besides wounded, and two thousand three hundred prisoners. The British lost a number of officers, who were either killed in the battle or died afterwards of their injuries Amongst these were Sir Andrew Douglas, second captain of Howe's own ship; Captains Montagu of the Montagu, Hutt of the Queen, and Harvey of the Brunswick; Rear-Admirals Pasley of the Bellerophon, and Bowyer of the Barfleur. Admiral Graves and Captain Berkeley were severely wounded. Howe made every effort to pursue and bring the French admiral again to action; but, owing to the bad sailing qualities of English ships at that time, and the shattered state of many of them, he could not overtake Villaret, who made the best of his way to Brest. During the remainder of the year there were various engagements between small squadrons in different quarters, in which the advantage generally remained with the British, besides the training thus afforded to the officers and sailors for the mighty victories which awaited them.
On Monday night the whole city was brilliantly illuminated. The excitement of the multitude had time to cool next day, for it rained incessantly from morning till night. But the rain did not keep the Queen in-doors. She was out early through the city, visiting the Bank of Ireland, the National Model Schools, the University, and the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. There she cheered the hearts of the brave old pensioners by saying, "I am glad indeed to see you all so comfortable." The illuminations were repeated this evening with, if possible, increased splendour, and the streets were filled with people in every direction, all behaving in the most orderly manner. Her Majesty held a levee in Dublin Castle on Wednesday, which was attended by unprecedented numbers. On Thursday she witnessed a grand review in the Ph?nix Park, and held a Drawing-room in her palace in the evening. The Queen left Dublin on Friday evening, followed to the railway station by immense multitudes, cheering and blessing as only enthusiastic Celts can cheer and bless. The scene at the embarkation in Kingstown Harbour was very touching. The whole space and the piers were crowded as when she arrived. The cheering and waving of handkerchiefs seemed to affect her Majesty as the royal yacht moved slowly out towards the extremity of the pier near the lighthouse. She left the two ladies-in-waiting with whom she was conversing on deck, ran up to the paddle-box, and, taking her place beside Prince Albert, she gazed upon the scene before her, graciously waving her hand in response to the parting salutations of her loyal Irish subjects. She appeared to give some order to the commander, the paddles immediately ceased to move, and the vessel merely floated on; the royal standard was lowered in courtesy to the cheering thousands on shore; and this stately obeisance was repeated five times. This incident produced a deep impression on the hearts of the people, and it was this picture that dwelt longest on their minds.
Poland, abandoned to her own resources, made a brave but ineffectual defence. The Russians received several severe checks in their advance. At Zadorsk, at Palorma, and finally at Dulienska, the Poles fought them gallantly. At the last-named battle, on the 17th of July, the heroic Kosciusko made terrible havoc of the Russian lines, and was only prevented from utterly routing them by his flank being turned by another arrival of Russians, whom the Emperor Francis, of Austria, had allowed to march through Galicia. The Russians advanced to Warsaw, took regular possession of it, and of all the towns and military forts throughout the country. They dismissed the patriot officers of the army, and dispersed the army itself in small divisions into widely-separated places. They abolished the new Constitution, thrust the burgher class again out of their newly-acquired privileges, and put the press under more ignominious restrictions than before. They confiscated the estates of nobles who had advocated the new reforms. Both Catherine and her Ministers treated the idea of any partition of Poland as the most groundless and ridiculous of notions. They pointed to the invasion of Germany already by Custine, the French Revolutionary general, and justified the temporary occupation of Poland as necessary to the security of both Poland and the neighbouring states. We must leave the three robber Powers, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, therefore, gloating over their prey, and ready to rend it asunder, in order to continue the narrative of the wild explosion of France.
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On the 9th of April, 1809, the Archduke Charles crossed the Inn, and invaded Bavaria, the ally of France. He issued a manifesto declaring that the cause of Austria was that of the general independence of Germany, and called on those States which had been compelled to bear the yoke of France to throw it off, and stand boldly for the common liberty. The serious discontent of the people of Germany encouraged him to hope that his call would be responded to; but Germany was not yet ripe for an effective reaction. Simultaneously, the Archduke John had descended from the Alps into Italy, and driven the troops of the viceroy, Eugene Beauharnais, before him. He had advanced as far as the Tagliamento, and laid siege to the fortresses of Orobo and Palma Nuova. The Archduke Ferdinand had also marched into Poland, defeated Poniatowski, Buonaparte's general, and taken possession of Warsaw. All so far looked cheering; for the great actor was not yet on the scene. But he quitted Paris on the 11th of April, two days only after the Archduke Charles entered Bavaria, and in a few days was with his army at Donauw?rth. He expressed the utmost contempt for the Austrian troops, saying, in a letter to Massena, that six thousand French ought to beat twelve thousand or fifteen thousand of "those canaille." He greatly disapproved of the manner in which Berthier had disposed of his forces, for he had extended them in a long line from Augsburg to Ratisbon, with a very weak centre. He ordered Davoust and Massena, who commanded the opposite wings, to draw nearer together. That being done, on the 20th of April he made a sudden attack on the Austrians at Abensberg, and defeated them. The next day he renewed the attack at Landshut, and took from them thirty pieces of cannon, nine thousand prisoners, and a great quantity of ammunition and baggage. The following day he advanced against the main position of the Archduke Charles, at Eckmühl, where, by the most skilful man?uvres, he turned all the enemy's positions, and defeated one division after another with all the art and regularity of a game of chess. Charles was thoroughly defeated, and had twenty thousand men taken prisoners, with a loss of fifteen stand of colours, and the greater part of his artillery. The next day the Austrians made a stand to defend the town of Ratisbon. They fought bravely; but, a breach being made in the wall, Marshal Lannes seized a scaling-ladder, and, whilst hundreds of French were falling under the fire of the Austrians, he planted it against the breach, saying, "I will show you that your general is still a grenadier!" The wall was scaled, and a desperate battle ensued in the streets of the town. At one moment, a number of tumbrils loaded with powder were in danger of exploding, and destroying the combatants on both sides; but the Austrians warned the French of the danger, and they mutually combined to remove them. That over, they recommenced the struggle, and the Austrians were driven out of the town, leaving again cannon, much ammunition, and many prisoners in the hands of the French. Whilst watching the mêlée, Buonaparte was struck on the toe by a spent musket-ball; but he had the wound dressed, and again remounted his horse, and watched with unfailing vigilance the progress of the battle.[See larger version]
On the 21st of October the British fleet sailed from Copenhagen Roads; at Helsingfors the fleet was saluted by the King of Sweden, who invited the admirals to breakfast; and, by the end of the month, was anchored in Yarmouth Roads safely, with all its captives. Fresh offers of alliance with Denmark were made before leaving, accompanied with promises of restoration, but were indignantly refused by the Crown Prince; and no sooner were the British gone, than the Danes converted their trading-vessels into armed ones, and commenced a raid amongst the British merchants, now in the Baltic, for the protection of which some men-of-war ought to have been left. The Crown Prince, now thrown completely into the arms of the French, made a declaration of war against Britain, and the British Government issued an order for reprisals on the ships, colonies, and property of the Danes. They also seized on the island of Heligoland, a mere desolate rock, but, lying at the mouth of the Elbe, and only twenty-five miles from the mouths of the Weser and the Eider, it was of the greatest importance, during the war, as a safe rendezvous for our men-of-war, and as a dep?t for our merchandise, ready to slip into any of the neighbouring rivers, and thus, by smugglers, to be circulated all over the Continent, in spite of Buonaparte's embargo. It served also to remind the people of those regions, that, though Buonaparte ruled paramount on land, there was a power on the sea that yet set him and all his endeavours at defiance.Those Highlanders commenced their march into England with no predilection for the adventure. The warfare of Scotland was familiar to them; in all ages they had been accustomed to descend from their mountains and make raids in the Lowlands. But England was to them an unknown region; they knew little of the dangers or the perils before them; they knew that in the Whiggish clans of the West they left powerful enemies behind them. No sooner did they lose sight of Edinburgh than they began to desert. Charles led his division of the army across the Tweed at Kelso, and sent on orders to Wooler to prepare for his reception, thus keeping up the feint of marching eastward; instead of which, he took his way down Liddesdale, and on the 8th of November crossed the Esk, and encamped that night at a place called Reddings, on the Cumberland side.
But the triumph of the insurgents was brief. From Radetzky, triumphant in Italy, from Windischgr?tz at Prague, and from Jellacic in Hungary, came assurances that they were making haste to rally round the emperor's flag, and to cause it to wave in triumph over the vanquished revolution. The last with his Croats moved up by forced marches, availing himself of the Southern Railway, and on the 9th of October he was within two hours' march of Vienna. On the news of the approach of this formidable enemy, consternation seized the Viennese. The reinforcements brought by Windischgr?tz swelled the Imperial forces at Vienna to 70,000 men. In the presence of this host, hanging like an immense thunder-cloud charged with death and ruin over the capital, the citizens relied chiefly upon the Hungarian army. But this was held in check by the Croatian army; and Kossuth, deeming it prudent not to enter into the contest, withdrew his troops within the bounds of Hungarian territory. On the 28th, Prince Windischgr?tz began to bombard the city, and the troops advanced to the assault. The Hungarians at last advanced in aid of the insurgents, but were beaten off, and on the night of the 31st of October the city surrendered, and was in possession of the Imperial troops.