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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Annals of the reign of King George the Third

by John Aikin


On the 4th of January war was declared against Spain; and although the nation was lying under the pressure of a heavy debt and vast expenses, though it had no aid to expect from allies, and saw the greatest part of the European continent either directly hostile, or disposed to become so, yet this accession of hazard seemed little to affect the spirits of the public. In fact, a war with Spain has generally been popular in this country, where she has been looked upon, especially by the navy, rather in the light of a tempting prey, than of a formidable antagonist. Past successes, moreover, had inspired confidence; the naval and military forces were in a high state of discipline and ably commanded; and there appeared no deficiency of vigour in the administration, to conduct a war which they had not hesitated to enter upon, under the idea that the honour and interest of the nation rendered it necessary.

The first military operation of the year was the execution of an enterprise determined on at the close of the preceding year, against the island of Martinico, the principal of the French Caribbees. An attempt against this important settlement in the year 1759, had failed of success; but the British arms having now little more employment in North America, and it being obviously a point of great consequence to deprive the enemy of their remaining strong-hold in the West Indies, which, in case of a Spanish war, might be rendered a dangerous annoyance as a place of rendezvous, it was resolved to renew the attack with a force that was likely to overcome all resistance. Accordingly, a body of troops, amounting to nearly 12,000 men, under the command of General Monckton, and a squadron of eighteen ships of the line, commanded by Admiral Rodney, assembled at Barbadoes, whence they proceeded early in January to Martinico. A landing was effected without loss, and the army proceeded to the town of Fort Royal, which was protected by a strong citadel, and by batteries erected on two eminences, named Morne Tortenson and Morne Gamier. These were stormed and carried with great intrepidity; and on February 4th, the town and citadel capitulated. The governor-general of the island, M. de la Touche, having retreated to the capital, St. Pierre, he made preparations for a farther resistance; but on the 10th, as the British commander was about to embark for an attack on that place, deputies arrived to offer a capitulation for the whole island. The reduction of Martinico was followed by the surrender of all the dependent islands, which comprised Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St.Vincent, and Tobago; and thus the whole chain of the Caribbees was brought under the British dominion.

The effects of the war with Spain were first felt in Europe by the necessity incurred of undertaking the defence of an ancient but feeble ally of Great Britain. This was Portugal, a country naturally weak in extent and position, and from various circumstances, declined from its former power, and reduced to a deplorable state of inability and disorganisation. To compel it to renounce that close connection with England, which had so long been a source of commercial advantage to the latter, and of security to the former, and to force it into the confederacy against her, doubtless appeared an easy task to the courts of France and Spain; and should the King of Portugal obstinately remain faithful to his engagements, the pretext afforded thereby of conquering his country, and annexing it to the larger portion of the peninsula, would not fail to gratify the ambitious views of the House of Bourbon. Troops were in consequence early in the year assembled on the Portuguese frontier, and the commerce of corn between the two kingdoms was prohibited. On March 16th, a joint memorial was presented by the ambassadors of France and Spain at the court of Lisbon, inviting the King of Portugal to join the alliance against Great Britain, insisting upon his expelling the English residents in Portugal from his kingdom, and no longer giving shelter to the English shipping in his ports, and offering to garrison his fortresses and maritime towns, in order to protect them from the resentment of England. The Portuguese sovereign having returned a conciliatory answer, in which he expressed his determination to preserve his ancient alliance with England, but to maintain an exact neutrality; the associated powers delivered a second memorial, in terms still more imperious, telling him that " he ought to be glad of the necessity which they laid upon him to make use of his reason, in order to take the true road of his glory and the common interest." As his Majesty still remained unshaken, and declared his resolution to continue faithful to his engagements at any hazard, the ambassadors, on April 27th, demanded passports for leaving the country, and soon after, France and Spain jointly issued a declaration of war against Portugal.

No country could be worse prepared for defence. Its army was equally contemptible in numbers and discipline; its fleet was reduced to six or seven ships of the line and a few frigates; and its fortified places were wholly incapable of standing a long siege. In this emergence all its hope was fixed upon the assistance of England, which lost no time in transmitting supplies of every kind. No immediate resistance, however, could be made to the invaders; and a Spanish army, having entered the north-eastern angle or Portugal, invested Miranda, of which, in consequence of the explosion of a powder-magazine, they obtained easy possession on May 9th. Braganza soon after submitted without resistance, and in a short time the whole of Tralos Montes was overrun to the banks of the Douro. A second body of Spaniards, entering the province of Beira, reduced Almeida, and proceeding southwards, occupied the territory of Castell Branco, and approached the Tagus. During this time, the Portuguese, though reinforced by British troops, brought to their aid under the command of Lord Tyrawley, had no army in the field capable of encountering the enemy in a battle, and were obliged to confine their efforts to the defence of passes. Lord Tyrawley appears to have been disgusted at the want of due exertion on the part of the Portuguese ministers, and returned to England on the arrival of the celebrated Count de la Lippe Buckeburg to take the supreme command of the forces of Portugal. A third army of combined French and Spaniards assembled in Spanish Estramadura, with the intention of penetrating into Alentejo, and making a junction with the other armies, which would have brought Lisbon into great hazard. In order to frustrate' this design, the Count de la Lippe sent a detachment under the command of Brigadier-General Burgoyne, to attack an advanced body of Spaniards which lay at Valentia de Alcantara; the result was a complete surprise, in which the enemy sustained considerable loss. The Spanish army in Beira then made repeated attempts to cross the Tagus, which were foiled by the skill of the Commander-in-Chief; and the British troops gained additional honour by the surprise of a large body of Spanish cavalry near Villa Velha, directed by Burgoyne, and executed by Colonel Lee with distinguished success. In conclusion, the autumnal rains setting in, and the invader finding no prospect of farther success, all the Bourbon troops fell back to the frontiers of Spain, and Portugal was delivered from one of the greatest dangers she had ever incurred.

While the British administration was thus providing for the defence of an ally, they resolved upon striking a home blow at the new enemy, in a part in which he

Cuba is the centre of the trade and navigation of the Spanish West Indies, and the station of the principal naval force of Spain in that quarter. Its capture therefore would lay at our mercy the main resources of Spain for the support of a maritime war, and would lead to any enterprise that might be planned against her American possessions. An expedition was therefore prepared early in the year under the command of General Lord Albemarle and Admiral Pococke, which sailed from Portsmouth on the 5th of March. It was joined off Hispaniola by a fleet from Martinico, under Sir James Douglas, when the armament consisted of nineteen ships of the line, eighteen small armed vessels, and one hundred and fifty transports, conveying 10,000 land forces, to which 4000 were to be added from New York. The fleet, passing through the Bahama straits, arrived off the Havanna on June 5th, and a landing was effected without opposition on the 7th. The first object was the reduction of the strong fort,

was supposed to be almost impregnable. Prodigious difficulties were encountered in making the approaches and carrying on the works for the siege of this place, which were met by the greatest courage and perseverance on the part of the commanders and men, although a severe sickness was added to the other hardships they had to sustain. At length, an attempt from the town for its relief having been frustrated, but no proposals being yet made for a capitulation, on the 44th day from the first operations it was stormed, through a breach made by springing a mine, and carried at the bayonets' point, the brave governor, and the second in command, perishing in the defence. Not long after, on the 14th of August, the city of

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