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CHAPTER XIII.

GEORGE III.

Serious State of Affairs in England.

Threats of Invasion. —

England's Attitude of Defence and Defiance. — Enrolment, as Volunteers, of almost the entire Male Population. — Mr. Pitt's Speech on this subject. - Unparalleled Exertions of Britain. Paramount Influence of Public Opinion. Peace of Amiens. Renewal of War. Absurd Demands of the Trafalgar. - Downfal

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French Government.

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- Austerlitz.

of Napoleon. Change in the Prospects of England.

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MUCH, however, had the nation to endure. When we consider the state of affairs in England at this period, the mutiny at the Nore, that took place the succeeding year, the financial difficulties, the danger of invasion, and the activity of some demagogues in our sister island, and even here, to inflame the minds of the people, and induce them to imitate the example of France, it really appears that no Government could by any possibility have extricated itself, except kept up by the powerful influence of public sentiment.

From the early part of this century, until Bonaparte broke up his camp at Boulogne, England was continually threatened with invasion from the other side of the Channel. These hostile demonstrations

heightened the patriotic fervour then existing, and procured the support of public opinion in regard to a continuance of the war.

The French camps were formed facing the English coast; one at Ostend, another between Gravelines and Dunkirk, and a third at Boulogne. Naval preparations also were carried on with great activity along the Dutch and Flemish shores, and, at a subsequent period, extended even to Denmark. Besides which, the combined fleets of France and Spain, some years after defeated at Trafalgar, presented a most formidable appearance, and could not but make the chance of invasion a subject of deep interest to all thinking minds in that day.

These hostile preparations were considered by the Government and by public opinion in England with a steady coolness; danger was fully apparent, but it produced, not terror, but additional energy and caution. No measure was omitted which might contribute to the public safety. The whole kingdom seemed united, and animated with the spirit of patriotism and of military ardour; and a full and just confidence was placed in the national courage and resources.

About this time a circular letter was issued by the Secretary of State to the lord lieutenants of counties, stating "that the naval and military preparations in the ports and on the coasts of France and Holland had of late been pursued with great activity, and signifying his Majesty's earnest wish

that the several corps of volunteer cavalry and infantry throughout the kingdom might be kept in a state of immediate service."

This request was every where obeyed with the utmost alacrity. Reviews and field-days became common in every district, almost in every parish; the whole country assumed a military air, and an attitude not merely of defence but of defiance. Guards and piquets were mounted the entire length of the coast; frigates and advice-boats were at their proper places; while a chain of vessels of war stretched along the whole extent of the Channel, at a small distance from the enemy's shore.

The sentiment of the country and influence of civilisation are apparent in the formation of the volunteer system of enrolment, or organisation and discipline, for security against invasion. To men of active habits, of professional or commercial pursuits, time is valuable, - more so in this country, probably, than in any other. Yet, during the continuance of hostilities with France, more particularly when the fear of invasion was entertained, and the danger was apparent, nearly the entire male population of the country, whose means would afford it, came forward, enrolled themselves at their own expense in some local corps, and, without pay, submitted to perform the duty of soldiers.

In July, 1803, the Secretary of War having brought in a bill to amend an act to enable his Majesty more effectually to provide for the defence

and security of the realm, Mr. Pitt made the following remarks:

"I feel sincerely happy that this measure has been at length brought before the House, as it affords a prospect of that vigour which is necessary in the present conjuncture. I approve of its principle and object. It indeed is founded on the principles of the plan, which, unconnected as I am with his Majesty's government, I have thought it my duty to intimate to ministers. I have been always decidedly of opinion that such a measure was essentially necessary, in addition to our regular force, in order to put the question as to our domestic security entirely beyond all doubt. I am not now disposed, because, indeed, I do not think it necessary, to enter into any investigation of the degree of danger which the country has to apprehend, though I am aware it is material that the danger should not be underrated. But to return to the measure before the House. I rejoice in its introduction, as the most congenial in its spirit to the constitution of this country, and in its execution not at all likely to meet any obstacle from the character or disposition of the people. In its structure there is nothing new to our history; in its tendency there is nothing ungrateful to our habits; it embraces the interests, it avails itself of the energies, and it promises to establish the security of the country. It imposes no burthens, nor does it propose any arrangement of which it can be in the

power of any class of the community to complain. Its object is the safety of all, without containing any thing in its provisions offensive to any. It is perfectly agreeable to the best institutions of civilised society, and has for its basis the rudiments of our constitutional history.

It is,

"It is obvious, that unless we make efforts adequate to the crisis in which we are placed, the country is insecure, and if those efforts cannot be effectual without compulsion, I trust no man can entertain a doubt of the propriety of resorting to it but I have a confident expectation that compulsion will be unnecessary; that the number of voluntary offers will be sufficient to obviate the necessity of that disagreeable alternative. however, an alternative of which I hope no man will disapprove, should the necessity arise. Such a plan is highly desirable; for it would be unwise to leave the defence of the country placed on our naval force, however superior, or in our regular army, however gallant and well disciplined, or even in the people armed en masse, unless previously drilled in military manœuvres, and subject to the directions of Government, who, by the measure before the House, are to be invested with ample powers of rendering the application of this force effectual, and of directing it to the several branches of public service which circumstances may call for. The training of the people, however, should be prompt; no delay should be suffered, for there is

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