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In this uneasy state of things Austria very unnecessarily put the match to the political train, and threw the whole of the south of Europe again into war. Don Joseph Molina, the Spanish Ambassador at Rome, being appointed Inquisitor-General at Spain, commenced his journey homewards, furnished with a passport from the Pope, and an assurance of safety from the Imperial Minister. Yet, notwithstanding this, he was perfidiously arrested by the Austrian authorities and secured in the citadel of Milan. The gross insult to Spain, and equally gross breach of faith, so exasperated the King and Queen of Spain that they would listen to nothing but war. The earnest expostulations of Alberoni, delivered in the form of a powerful memorial, were rejected, and he was compelled to abandon the cherished hopes of peaceful improvement and make the most active preparations for war.The Assembly had, on this memorable night of the 4th of August, decreed nothing less thanthe abolition of all serfdom; the right of compounding for the seignorial dues, and the abolition of seignorial jurisdictions; the suppression of exclusive rights of hunting, shooting, keeping warrens, dovecotes, etc.; the abolition of tithes; the equality of taxes; the admission of all citizens to civil and military employments; the abolition of the sale of offices; the suppression of all the privileges of towns and provinces; the reformation of wardenships; and the suppression of pensions obtained without just claims. The Assembly then continued the work of the constitution.
The English lay all night on their arms, and, as day dawned, began to entrench their position. If ever a general needed to push on his advantage it was now. Every day was consuming Burgoyne's stores; every day was augmenting the forces of the enemy. The country was closed to Burgoyne; it was open with all its resources to the Americans. Yet he lay there, as if paralysed, from the 20th of September to the 7th of October. The reason of this fatal delay is said to have been that Burgoyne had received a letter from General Sir Henry Clinton at New York, informing him that he must expect no co-operation from General Howe, but that he himself would take the responsibility of making a diversion in his favour by attacking the Forts Montgomery and Clinton, on the lower part of the Hudson. Burgoyne, on receiving this intelligence, sent Clinton word that he would remain where he was till the 12th of Octobera fatal resolve, as a calculation of his stores should have shown him, which the acts of the Americans were certain to render calamitous. Elated at being able to stand their ground in some degree, this novel and almost sole success in the war had raised the spirits of the Colonials as by a miracle. They poured in on all sides, and Arnold, ever ready in resource, suggested to Gates an enterprise to be effected while Burgoyne was lying still and consuming his own victuals.
No one in the territory was busy. The atmosphere was still too much that of the Mexican possession; but Cairness said it was undoubtedly so, and took his leave,[Pg 173] clanking his spurs, heavy footed, and stooping his long form, in continuance of the r?le of ass. He knew well enough that he had been so summed up. It is a disadvantage the British citizen labors under in the West.
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WILLIAM COBBETT.On the 10th of January the army came in sight of Corunna and the sea, but no transports could be seen in the bay. They were detained by contrary winds at Vigo, and the last hope of safety seemed cut off. Sir John, however, quartered his troops in Corunna, and determined to defend it manfully till the transports could get up. But great was his chagrin at the proofs of the miserable management of the Commissariat Department. On a hill above the town were four thousand barrels of gunpowder, which had been sent from England, and had been lying there many months, and the town was a great magazine of arms. Sir John replaced the weather-worn muskets of his troops with new ones, supplied them with fresh, good powder, and, after removing as many barrels of powder into the town as the time would allow, he blew up the rest, producing a concussion that shook the place like an earthquake.
This was an announcement of the utter overthrow of the Revolution, and the restoration of the ancient condition of France, with its aristocracy and its slaves. The sensation which it produced was intense. The king was immediately accused of secretly favouring this language, though it was far from being the case. It was in vain that he disavowed the sentiments of this haughty and impolitic proclamation to the Assembly; he was not believed, and the exasperation against him was dreadfully aggravated.