Imatges de pÓgina

Nevertheless the Czartoryskis made wide reforms, abolishing the Liberum Veto. It seemed that at their hands Poland might yet be saved.

Now came in the religious difficulty. The Diet had passed a decree, excluding from office all but Roman Catholics. Catherine demanded equal rights for Orthodox of Lithuania and Protestants of the Baltic province, which the Diet not only refused but repealed all the reforms. The Czartoryskis took up arms, and Catherine and Frederick, supporting them, forced the Diet to repeal the laws relating to religion. But when the Diet had repealed the reforms, the two Powers forced on it a treaty leaving the Constitution with the Liberum Veto as it was, sending troops into Poland who committed great atrocities. Against this the reforming party of the Poles formed a Confederation at Bar in the Ukraine, and prepared for resistance.

Eastern Europe was then in a most inflammable state, each of the great monarchies, ready for war, increasing their armies and watching for an opportunity of enlarging their borders. Joseph, the son of Maria Theresa, had been elected Emperor of Germany, and was co-Regent with his mother and controlling spirit of the Empire of Austria. He was one of the new reforming rulers, earnestly desiring the good of his subjects under an autocratic rule ; he was disputing the authority of the Pope, who had just dissolved the Jesuit order, over the appointment to bishoprics, and he was increasing and reforming his army. Turkey supported the reforming Poles, and, at the instigation, it is said, of Choiseul, the French minister, who hoped by this means to get Egypt for France, declared war

upon Russia.

The pretext put forward for the war was that Catherine, refusing to withdraw her troops from Poland, had encroached on Turkish territory, “ each party, as usual, making a solemn appeal to the world for the justice of its cause.' (Aikin.) There was a fear lest Austria and France might join Turkey as allies.

Turkey was not successful in the war. The Russians captured the Crimea, and both sides won successes on the Danube. Catherine sent her fleet round to the Mediterranean to attack Constantinople and incited the Greeks to revolt, which they did with enthusiasm ; but their forces were not equal to the work, and after massacres on both sides the Russians withdrew, leaving the Greeks to their sad fate, a course of action which only too often it has been their misfortune to encounter at the hands of the great European Powers. But the fleets, reinforced by a British squadron under Admiral Elphinstone, destroyed the entire Turkish fleet off Scio. In Egypt Ali Bey revolted and threw off Turkish authority, but later was defeated and killed. The war was not favourable to the French, as the Russians paid little attention to the neutrality of French merchantmen.

Negotiations were opened for peace, but were checked by the influence of the French, and the war continued until 1774, when it ended in favour of Russia, one of the terms of peace being a free navigation in all the Turkish seas, including the passage of the Dardanelles.

Meanwhile Poland was being devastated by war, by savage invasion by the troops of the great Powers, by plague, pestilence and internal disorder. In 1771 the reforming Poles kidnapped their king and carried him off, but he was rescued. There had been an agreement between the three Eastern Powers in 1769 to partition Turkey, but Frederick, with the true instinct of the thief, thought it better to keep Turkey as a possible ally against his other friends. He now proposed a partition of Poland. Maria Theresa, determined for peace, declined to join the faithless plunderer of her territories, but her son Joseph agreed, and the first partition of Poland took place. The thieves did not even notify France of their intention. In August, 1772, they signed a treaty by which they divided about a third of Poland between themselves, forcing the Diet by fraud, bribery and terrorism to confirm the crime. A modified Constitution was given to the remainder, the King becoming President of a Permanent Council.

It was remarked that of the three Powers Russia, who wished to make Poland dependent upon her, was by far the most just and moderate in its conduct towards Poland. “Prussia from the first entrance of her troops displayed that boundless rapacity and unfeeling tyranny which always marked the conduct of the Great Frederick towards weaker neighbours, and besides immoderate pecuniary exactions the transportation of numbers of Polish families to people the barren sands of his hereditary dominions was a characteristic trait of his despotic policy.” (Aikin.*) The treaty was published in September with the usual expressions of their kind intentions towards Poland. The King of Poland applied to Great Britain, France, Holland and Spain to fulfil their ancient treaties, but it does not appear that any attention was paid to them.

Leaving Europe for the present, we pass to the East.



i. India, 1763-75: Military Action and Civil Rule.--I do not propose to deal, except in the barest outline, with the military history of India so splendidly and fully told by military historians. It is a story of a combination finally successful of all the qualities which contribute to aggressive advance of a people conscious of their superiority, checked from time to time by the incompetence and folly of the civilian government. The civil authorities, whether in England, India or America, were always ready to put the blame of failure on the soldiers. Mad, is he ? " said George II. on being told by Newcastle that Wolfe was mad, "then I hope he will bite some of my generals.” I don't know," said Lord North in 1776," whether our generals frighten the enemy, but I know they frighten me whenever I think of them.” Occasionally such sarcasms may have been deserved. But it would appear that in most cases the failure was due to civil interference in military plans. In any event the Indian wars produced a succession of great leaders, men who dared everything, who took the opportunity

Writing from Berlin in 1776, Sir James Harris says of Frederick : “He is endeavouring to widen the breach between the Empress Queen and her son ... in Poland he is exciting fresh troubles, and takes every advantage of the dissension at present reigning between the magnates of that country to reduce it to such a state of anarchy as to make a second partition, his specific on these occasions, necessary."

or made it, men who had the power to mould the poor weedy material provided into armies of heroic dare-devils. The difficulty of recruiting was very great, the pay being poor and the hardships terrible. The quality of the men sent out is shown by the evidence of General Smith on the East India Recruiting Bill for more effectually raising a military force for the protection of the settlements and possessions of the East India Company on April 12th, 1771. Of course, it was bitterly opposed on various grounds by Burke, Barré and others of the opposition.

General Smith told the House that the European Army in Bengal of about 3,000 men was, in 1769, in very good discipline, considering the sort of men who, being chiefly raised about London, were the riff-raff of the people, chiefly boys under seventeen or old men above forty (sic) or sixty years old, and fitter on their arrival in India to fill the hospital than the ranks. When the Company sent these out, about a hundred in a ship, they lost about one in five in the passage, when crowded to the number of three hundred in a ship, they lost from a hundred to two hundred and fifty. Generally one-tenth of the European soldiers were in hospital from the climate. No English soldier, he says, was allowed to stand sentry from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Irish Catholics were objected to, and Germans on account of desertion at convenience. The reason for the Bill was stated to be to put a stop to the infamous system of locking-up houses to which men were decoyed and detained contrary to law.

Yet with such material and in such a climate the British armies, under splendid generalship, performed marvellous deeds. For example, Major Thomas Adams, in July, 1763, with a few thousand men, utterly routed a large army of Meer Cossim on the plains of Gheria, some 40,000 men commanded by European mercenaries and supplied with plenty of money, and followed this up by storming entrenchments of prodigious strength, "a feat,” says Fortescue, “which has hardly a peer in our military history. Had Napoleon fulfilled his dreams and added such a campaign in India to his exploits in Europe, the whole world would still ring with it; yet the conquest of Meer Cossim by a single English major of foot is forgotten. Nevertheless, be it remembered or forgotten, one of the great names in English military history is that of Thomas Adams.” He died in 1764 of the strain. His successor had to face mutiny owing to the non-payment of the troops by the Council at Calcutta, who looted themselves, and worked against Clive and the other military commanders. In October, 1764, Munro finished the war in the north by a decisive victory against enormous odds at Buxar.

But in the south a very serious state of things had arisen, which, owing to the meddlesome incompetence of the Madras Council, after nearly ruining British rule in India, remained to plague us with expensive and often unsuccessful war for twenty years. Two great powers had arisen in Southern India, the Mahrattas, who waged war by means of great bodies of light cavalry, moving at great speed, and varying or concealing their objective, a mode of warfare hard for Europeans to meet, and the rising power of the ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali, afterwards succeeded by his son Tippoo. The only times when the British were unsuccessful was when, in facing these powerful foes, the incompetent civilian councils interfered with the plans of their brilliant generals, and tried to manage the campaign, distributing little bodies of men at many points, instead of combining attack on the enemy. The Madras Council encumbered their generals with civilians to control the transport and provisioning of the force. Owing to their miserable wobblings their enemies, Hyder Ali and the Mahrattas, continued to grow in strength.

In later years, as our Empire in the East grew and strengthened, the British enjoyed an immense superiority of material, equipment and scientific knowledge over their opponents. But the heroic deeds of Clive, Adams, Caillaud, Smith, Munro, and the rest were achieved without any such advantage. In every respect they were the pioneers of British superiority. In clothing and habits they suffered a great handicap, in weapons and war material they were little better equipped than the native levies, in mobility and means of obtaining information they were far inferior. They had to meet natives officered, drilled and supported by other Europeans.

From the great men who led the riff-raff of London, accustomed to the heavy woollen clothing, the moderate heat, and the strong stimulants of our Labrador climate, to Indian con

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