Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cscited, and much advancement in the arts may be the result. Mr. Hoare, indeed, mixes with his encomiums some qualifying sentences and some admonitions; and these we seriously recommend to the patrons of the Institution.

Art. XI. History of Great Britain, from the Revolution, 1688, to

the Conclusion of the Treaty of Amiens, 802. By William

Belsham. 12 Volumes. 8vo. 31. &3. Boards. R. Phillips. THE he British Public is no stranger to the general character.

istics of Mr. Belsham's History, which, as now before us, forms a regularly progressive work, but of which all the volumes, excepting the inth and 12th, have been previously printed in detached portions and in irregular chronological or der. The same animated and glowing style, and the sune popular principles and sentiments, which marked his preceding labors, will probably still attract the approbation of his admirers ; while the exceptions which have been made against his prepossessions and his ardour will equally continue to be urged. Ever the friends to freedom both of principle and discussion, but alike the opposers of intemperance either of conduct or of language, we adverted in former articles to an occasional degree of excess in Mr. Belsham's diction, which was little suitable to the dignity of history. In the preface to his 11th volume, he enters into an explanation of this part of his conduct; and speaking of himself in the third person,

• Far be from him,' he says, 'that “ frigid philosophy," which, in treating upon subjects the most interesting to the human welfare and happiness, can satisfy itself with that sort of impartiality, or rather of monkish insensibility, which confines its efforts and its object to a simple and naked recital of facts, without adverting to principles, or to the bearings and tendencies of different and opposite systems of action. On the contrary, he has labored, invariably and a siduously, to inculcate such principles and sentiments as have been proved by the reasonings of the ablest political writers, by the practice of the greatest statesmen, and by the uniform tenor of historical evidence, to be in the highest degree beneficial to mankind. For any occasional warmth of language, arising from this source, he trusts that the Public will think an apology very unnecessary; and, on the calmest retrospection of his own views and motives, he has none to offer.'

He admits, however, in the subsequent paragraph, as he had before allowed in a letter which he addressed to us t, chat the animadversions were not without foundation :

See Rev. N.S. Vols. xiii. xvii. xxxiv. and xxvii. f Ibid. Vol. xxxvii. N. S. p. 221.

04

. The

• The critical reader will nevertheless find, that various expres. sions, bordering upon anger and asperity, are, in the latest edition of the preceding volumes of this history, altered and modified; and, in those now offered to the Public, the author has been solicitous not to transgress the limits of that freedom'which is the inseparable privilege and characteristic of historical composition.'

In the additional volumes, which now form the only subject of our notice, Mr. B. commences with the Session of Parliament in 1798-9; and here the important event of the Union with Ireland early attracts the notice of the historian. On this topic, he is rather reserved, but on the whole he seems to approve the measure.-- He is next called to an event, the record of which, according to his detail of it, must indeed be unwelcome to British ears, since in it che honour of Britain is declared to have received a foul and deep stain; we refer to the conduct adopted towards its revolutionary subjects, by the imbecil and immoral court of Naples, to which the great Lord Nelson was a party. In noticing the memoirs of our naval hero, we have already alluded to these transactions : of which, until we are more fully informed of them, we shall continue to speak in terms of reserve which their nature would not permit us to use, if we were decidedly convinced that the present representations of them admitted of no material correction. We expect shortly to attend to other accounts of this affair, and at present shall no farther advert to it than by quoting a part of Mr. Belshani's statement :

The members of the Neapolitan government had taken possession of the two forts of the capital ; viz. Castel Nuovo and Castel del Uovo: as also of the Castell-a-mare, six leagues from Naples. The latter immediately capitulated, on terms of satety to the lives, persons, and property of the garrisuni, to the English squadron commanded by commodore Fooie. The capiure of the two former was attended with more difficulty. The patriots, who had at first taken the reso. lution of burying themselves under the ruins of their liberty, fought with incredible valor. Feeling, however, on receiving a second summons of surrender, that, deprived of all external succour, their eventual resistance would serve only to increase the misfortunes of their country, they at length decided on a treaty, in concert with citizen Mejan, commander of the fort of St. Elmo, garrisoned by the French ; and a joint capitulation was accordingly signed, June 22, pon condition of their being allowed to march out with the honors of war; of security, both to persons and property, for all those in the two forts; and, liberty to all, either to remain at Naples, or embark for France on board transports to be provided and equipped by his Neapolitan majesty: The capitulation thus solemnly agreed on was ratified by cardinal Ruffo, vicar.general of the king of the Two Sicilies, by commodore Foote, and by the respective commanders of the Russian and Turkish squadrons, the last of whom affixed his

mark

mark and seal, consisting of a cimetar and half-moon. Hostages were, agreeably to the tenor of the treaty, delivered on the one side; and on the other, the prisoners of all descriptions were set at liberty.

• While the capitularies, to the 'number of about 1500, who had declared their intention of emigrating, were waiting for the vessels which were to convey them to France, lord Nelson arrived with his whole fleet in the bay of Naples, having on board the Anglo Neapolitan ambassador, sir William Hamilton, and his lady. On the evening of the 26th of June the patriots evacuated their forts, and embarked on board the transports prepared for them, and which were moored alongside the English fleet. On the next day the members of the executive commission, a great part of those of the legislative commission, the whole of the officers who had occupied the first ranks of the republic, and others who had been marked by the court of Sicily, were taken out of the transports, and carried on board the British admiral's own ship. Among these was the celebrated Dominico Cerilli, above thirty years the intimate friend of the English ambassador. On the deck of the admiral's ship stood sir William Hamilton and his lady, surveying, with curious attention, these devoted victims, bound hand and foot like the vilest crin.inals. After this review, these martyrs at the shrine of liberty were distributed among the different ships of the fleet. The remainder of the revolutionists were shut up in the dungeons of the castles which they had surrendered on the faith of the treaty.

"A few days subsequent to these transactions, the king of Naples, accompanied by his minister Acton, arrived from Palermo on board an English frigate. He immediately declared, by an edict, that it never was his intention to capitulate with rebels, and that consequently the fate of those who were in the transports, or in the forts, was to depend entirely upon his justice and clemency. And by a second edici the property of the patriots was put under sequestration. Against this procedure, remonstrances were in vain made by the commander of the coalesced powers who had signed the articles of the capitulation.

· Wearied by the cruelties they suffered, and emboldened by the sanctity of the treaties so recently concluded, the prisoners on board the ships in the bay at length addressed a letter to admiral Nelson, in which they stated, in clear and specific terms, the conditions to which they were entitld. “ After the arrival,” say they, “ of the British fleet in this road, commanded by your excellency, the capitulation was begun to be put in execution. The garrisons of the foris, on their part, set ac liberty the state prisoners and the English prisoners of and

gave up to the troops of his Britannic majesty the gate of the royal palace which leads to the new fort : and on the other side, the troops of his majesty the emperor of all the Russias attended the march of the garrison, with all the honors of war, out of the forts. It is now twenty-four days that we are lying in this road, unprovided with every thing necessary to existence. We have nothing but bread to eat; we drink nothing but putrid water, or wine mingled with sea-water; and we have nothing but the bare planks to sleep on. Our houses liave been entirely pillaged, and the greater part of our relations either imprisoned or massacred. We are persuaded that all the treatment which we suffer, after having capitu. later, and after having on our side put the articles of the capitulation religiously into execution, is entirely unknown to your excellency, and to his Sicilian majesty, your fidelity and his benevolence being engaged in our deliverance. The delay of the execution of the capitulation gives us room to claim and implore his and your justice, in order that a treaty concluded with four of the most civilised powers of Europe, who have always appreciated the inviolability of treaties, should be executed as speedily as possible. We hope that, by mcans of your good offices with his Sicilian majesty, due execution will be given to the articles of a capitulation which has been signed with good faith, and religiously fulfilled on the part of the garrison.” The answer of lord Nelson to this moving address will be for ever memorable in history. "I have,” said this renowned hero, “shown your paper to your gracious king, who must be the best and only judge of the merits and demerits of his subjects. What! was the king of Naples the only judge whether the articles of a treaty, to the strict observance of which the faith and honor of Britain were irrevocably engaged, should, or should not, be carried into execution ? Could so monstrous a proposition be advanced with seriousness, or beard without scorn and amazement ?

greater

war,

• After the surrender of the fort Castell-a-mare, commodore Foote had shown the most anxious solicitude that the conditions granted to the garrison should be punctually performed. “I entreat you," said this gallant officer to the commander of the fortress for the king of Naples, who had, as it appears, detained some effects belonging to the officers of the garrison, " to observe, that I am highly interested in seeing these gentlemen satished ; since such is the condition of the capitulation : which is necessarily sacked.” The whole body of Neapolitan revolutionists being thus consigned to remediless ruin, by the British admiral, in open, and almost avowed, violation of the faith of Britain, solemnly and publicly pledged, a horrible scene com. menced; of which the view, and even the relation, might suffice to rouse the most insensible to indignation, to melt the most obdurate to pity.'

With these proceedings, the author is gratified in contrasting the humane and honorable behaviour of a gallant British oflicer, the companion and esteemed friend of Nelson, on a scene not very distant from that of which we have been speaking, viz. the conduct of Captain Trowbridge, on the occasion of the surrender of Rome to the British naval force :

• It was determined to enter into a negotiation with the English, who proposed the same capitulation as had taken place at

Gaeta: The British squadron was under the direction of commodore Trowbridge ; an officer of the highest reputation. In consequence of the positive instructions he received from Naples, the British comman. der was obliged to make a formal demand of the French gove deliver up the Neapolitan patriots who had fled for refuge to

Rome. General Garnier nobly answered, "that he would never con sent to

3

nor, to

an action so unworthy; but that the French would rather sacrifice their own lives with those of their friends.'

• The first name on the fatal list happened to be that of the princess de Belmonte ; and when the detera ination of the French commandant was made known to the commodore, he is said to have signified very intelligibly his high approbation of it. He knew what had passed at Naples. He felt how paramount to all orders or instructions, was the honor and dignity of a British soldier. “I never will become the executioner of the vengeance of the queen of Na. ples !” was the indignant declaration of this gallant officer. This being perfectly understood, a capitulation was signed 6th Vendemiaire, (Sept. 27); conformably to the articles of which, Rome and its dependencies, for the first time since the foundation of that famous capital of the world, surrendered to the arms of BRITAIN :-an event than which, had the awful book of destiny been laid open to the view of the Julian or Augustan age, nothing more calculated to excite amazement could have occurred in all its records.

• The twelfth and other concurrent articles of the treaty of capi. tulation imported that “such citizens of Rome as shall now form, or have heretofore formed, a part of the constituted authorities of the Roman republic; and those also who shall have served the republican cause by their patriotic works, or taken up arms for that purpose, shall be at liberty to depart with their property at the same time. with the French troops, and on the same terms as they do." And by other articles it was agreed, “ that transports should be provided by the English commander, and victuallıd, for the conveyance of the above descriptions of persons to Villa Franca, Antibes, or Toulon; and that such Romans as choose to remain, shall suffer no molestation.” The last article even expressly stipulates, “ in case of any difficulty arising with respect to the interpretation of the articles of this convention, that such articles shall be explained in favor of the French and their allies.”

During the transient existence of the Napolitan republic, the duke of Cansano had been sent as ambassador to Rome, and many other Neapolitans of high ranks were also residen in that city at the period of its investment. Even previous to its surrender, the English commander took an anxious interest in the fate of these unfortunate exiles. He precipitated their departure from the port of Civita Vecchia ; and, on their being unavoidably forced back to that place, commodore Trowbridge, inflexible in his humanity, again eral led the vessel to put to sea, and the proscribed fugitives were at length happily landed at Toulon. In return, they paid him--and it was all they could pay--those grateful tears of admiration which are shed over noble deeds. Thus the honor of the British name was vindicat. ed; and the world, as in other and better times, saw that it uit not without reason aspire to a rivalship with that of ancient Rome.'

In relating the Siege of Acre, Mr. B. makes some just observations on the singularity of the contest, especially on the circumstance of British Christian Kuights fighting in defence of the Turkish Infidels. To the account of Bonaparte's saving

massacred

« AnteriorContinuar »