The arbitrary crushing of the freedom of the Tyrol, and the handing of it over to the Bavarians as a gift, was not the only oppression of this period of Napoleon's career, which the Germans call his supremacy. He seemed to have put down all opposition on the Continent, except in Spain, and he dictated to all nations according to the arrogance of his will. His general in Poland, Poniatowski, himself a Pole, was employed to crush his countrymen. Poniatowski fell on the Austrians with forty thousand men, and made himself master of Warsaw, whilst the Archduke Ferdinand was besieging Thorn. He then advanced against the archduke, beat him in two battles fought in April and May, and eventually drove the Austrians out of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Buonaparte then divided Galicia, giving one portion to the Emperor of Russia, and adding the other to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which was restored to the King of Saxony. Thus the Poles saw an end of all the high hopes with which Buonaparte had artfully succeeded in inspiring them, in order to induce them to[594] fight his battles for the subjugation of other peoples.

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In the meantime the Irish State trial, and the affairs of Ireland generally, were the subject of frequent discussions in both Houses of Parliament. On the 13th of February the Marquis of Normanby moved a resolution condemnatory of the policy of the Government, contrasting it with his own Administration, with the treatment of Canada, and with the liberal policy by which, he said, Austria had conquered disaffection in Lombardy. He was answered by Lord Roden and others, and on a division his motion was rejected by a majority of 175 to 78. On the same day the state of Ireland was introduced by Lord John Russell, in a speech which occupied three hours. The debate that followed lasted for nine days. The principal speakers who took part in it were Mr. Wyse, Sir James Graham, Mr. Young, Sir George Grey, Lord Eliot, Mr. Shaw, the Recorder of Dublin, Lord Howick, Lord Stanley, Mr. Macaulay, Sir William Follett, Sir Thomas Wilde, Sir F. Pollock, the English Attorney-General, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Sheil, and Sir Robert Peel. The discussion turned mainly upon the question whether or not O'Connell had had a fair trial, and upon this the lawyers and the House pronounced opinions in harmony with the interests of their respective parties. But nearly every topic that could be mentioned was brought up in the course of the monster debate. Sir Robert Peel concluded a long and able speech in defence of his Government with the following beautiful peroration:"I have a firm conviction that if there were calm and tranquillity in Ireland, there is no part of the British empire that would make such rapid progress in improvement. There are facilities for improvement and opportunities for it which will make the advance of Ireland more rapid than the advance of any other country. I will conclude, then, by expressing my sincere and earnest hope that this agitation, and all the evil consequences of it, may be permitted to subside; and hereafter, in whatever capacity I may be, I should consider that the happiest day of my life when I could see the beloved Sovereign of these realms fulfilling the fondest wishes of her heart, possessing a feeling of affection towards all her people, but mingling that[535] affection with sympathy and tenderness towards Ireland. I should hail the dawning of that auspicious day, when she could alight like some benignant spirit on the shores of Ireland, and lay the foundations of a temple of peace; when she could, in accents which proceeded from the heartspoken to the heart rather than to the earcall upon her Irish subjects of all classes and of all denominations, Protestants and Roman Catholics, Saxon and Celt, to forget the difference of creed and of race, and to hallow that temple of peace which she should then found, with sacrifices still holier than those by which the temples of old were hallowedby the sacrifice of those evil passions that dishonour our common faith, and prevent the union of heart and hand in defence of our common country."

The declaration of war against Britain by the Convention was unanimous. The decree was drawn up by the Girondists, but it was enthusiastically supported by the Jacobins, including Robespierre and Danton. A vote creating assignats to the amount of eight hundred million livres was immediately passed, a levy of three hundred thousand men was ordered, and to aggravate the whole tone of the affair, an appeal to the people of Great Britain was issued, calling on them to act against and embarrass their own Government.

The events on land were very different. Abercrombie, like General Braddock, advanced with all the careless presumption of a second-rate general. The grand object was to reduce Fort Ticonderoga, built on a neck of land between Lakes George and Champlain. At the landing, Lord Howe, one of the best officers, was killed, but they drove back the French, and advanced on the fort, which was of great strength, defended by a garrison of four thousand men, commanded by the Marquis de Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadians, himself. Montcalm had raised a breastwork eight feet high, and made in front of it a barricade of felled trees with their branches outwards. Abercrombie, with a foolish confidence, advanced right upon this barricade, without waiting for the coming up of his artillery, which was detained by the badness of the roads. With a reckless disregard of the lives of his men, he commanded them to attempt to storm these defences, and after fighting with the usual courage of Englishmen for several hours, and two thousand of them being slaughtered, it was found that their efforts were useless, and they were ordered to retire. Brigadier Forbes, who had been sent against Fort Dupuesne, an attempt so disastrous to both Washington and Braddock, executed his task with the utmost promptitude and success. Forbes took possession of it on the 25th of November, and, in compliment to the great Minister under whose auspices they fought, named it Fort Pitt, since grown from a solitary fort into Pittsburg. Belgium, this summer, was the great battle-ground. In it were Austrians, Dutch, British, and Hanoverians. At the opening of the campaign the Allies had probably two hundred thousand men scattered along the frontiers, and the French upwards of three hundred thousand. But whilst the French were united in one object, and the Convention kept pouring fresh masses of men in, the Allies were slow and disunited. The Duke of York, who commanded the English and Hanoverians, about thirty thousand men, was completely tired of the sluggish formality of the Austrian general, Clairfait, and refused to serve under him. To remove the difficulty, the Emperor of Austria agreed to take the command of his forces in the Netherlands in person, so that the Duke of York would serve under him. Francis II. arrived in April, and great expectations were excited by his presence. Instead of urging all the different divisions of the allied armies to concentrate in large masses against the able generals, Pichegru and Jourdain, Francis sat down before the secondary fortress of Landrecies, though the Allies already held those of Valenciennes,[434] Cond, and Quesnoy. This enabled Pichegru to advance on West Flanders, and take Courtrai and Menin in the very face of Clairfait. At the same time Jourdain had entered the country of Luxembourg with a large force, and whilst the Austrians were wasting their time before Landrecies, he was still further reinforced from the army of the Rhine, which the absence of the King of Prussia left at leisure, and he now fell upon the Austrian general, Beaulieu; and though Beaulieu fought bravely for two days, he was overwhelmed by successive columns of fresh troops, and driven from his lines. Jourdain then advanced upon the Moselle, where the Prussians ought to have been, and were not, in spite of the subsidy.