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      Thus entered the year 1717. It had been intended to open Parliament immediately on the king's return, but the discovery of a new and singular phase of the Jacobite conspiracy compelled its postponement. We have seen that the trafficking of George with Denmark for the bishoprics of Bremen and Verden, reft in the king of Sweden's absence from his possession, had incensed that monarch, and made him vow that he would support the Pretender and march into Scotland with twelve thousand men. Such a menace on the part of a general like Charles XII. was not likely to pass unnoticed by the Jacobites. The Duke of Berwick had taken up the idea very eagerly. He had held several conferences upon it with Baron Spaar, the Swedish Minister at Paris, and he had sent a trusty minister to Charles at Stralsund, with the proposal that a body of seven or eight thousand Swedes, then encamped near Gothenburg, should embark at that port, whence, with a favourable wind, they could land in Scotland in eight-and-forty hours. The Pretender agreed to furnish one hundred and fifty thousand livres for their expenses. At that time, however, Charles was closely besieged by the Danes, Prussians, and their new ally, George of Hanover, purchased by the bribe of Bremen and Verden. Charles was compelled by this coalition to retire from Stralsund, but only in a mood of deeper indignation against the King of England, and therefore more favourable to his enemies.

      "You'll do nothin' o' the kind," said Si impatiently. "What's eatin' you? What'd you skip out from our house for? What'd you mean"

      "I have the ranch; how could I get away?" Cairness opposed.

      The new Parliament reassembled on the 14th of November, and the king in his speech, whilst pretending the differences which had arisen between us, France, and Spain were by no means serious, yet called for enlarged supplies to defend our American territories against the designs of these Powers. In fact, matters were becoming very serious in our American colonies; but the Government withheld the real facts from the knowledge of the public, and it was not till the opening of Parliament, in March, 1755, that they candidly avowed that war was inevitable. The French and English were actually engaged in war both in the East Indies and in America. In the East Indies there was just now an apparent pause in hostilities, through an agreement between the two Companies; but in North America matters daily grew worse. There were, and had been ever since the Peace, violent disputes as to the boundary-lines both of Nova Scotiaor, as the French styled it, Acadiaand between Canada and our colony of New England. The French, becoming more and more daring, commenced the erection of forts in the valley of the Ohio, to connect the settlements on the St. Lawrence with those on the Mississippi. They had already erected one called Duquesne, greatly to the indignation of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania and Virginia. In Nova Scotia, Major Lawrence, with one thousand men, defeated the French and their Indian allies; but, on the other hand, the French surprised and sacked Block's Town, on the Ohio, belonging to the Virginians, who sent forward Major George Washington to attack Fort Duquesne. Washington, destined to acquire the greatest name in the New World, marched with four hundred men, but was surprised at a place called Great Meadows, and was glad to capitulate on condition of retiring with military honours (1754)."Throw a piece o' that fat pine on the fire. Shorty," said the Deacon, "and let's see what I've got."

      The next month Pitt despatched a smaller fleet and force to destroy the port of Cherbourg, which the French had constructed under Cardinal Fleury, and, as they stated by an inscription, "for all eternity." This time the command was given to General Bligh. Howe was admiral, and on board with him went Prince Edward, afterwards Duke of York. On the 8th of August the troops were landed at Cherbourg, which was[131] deserted by the garrison, and they destroyed the forts and harbour, demolished a hundred and seventy pieces of iron cannon, and carried off twenty-two fine brass ones. After re-embarking and returning to Portsmouth, Bligh was ordered to pay another visit to St. Malo, but still found it too strong for him; yet he landed his men in the bay of St. Lunaire, about two leagues westward of St. Malo; and the weather immediately driving Howe to sea, the army was marched overland to St. Cast, some leagues off. The soldiers were allowed to rove about and plunder, till Bligh heard that the Duke of Aiguillon was advancing against them at the head of a strong force. Bligh then, but in no hurry, marched for the port of St. Cast, followed by Aiguillon, who waited till he had embarked all but one thousand five hundred men, when he fell upon them, and slaughtered a thousand of them in a hollow way amongst the rocks leading down to the shore.


      "Think it over, in any case," urged Forbes; "I am going in, good night.""I can shoot, myself, when it comes to that," suggested Stone.


      Her? cried Larry."Hey, Taters, come lend me a spit. I'se got a' army contrack."


      The deaths of monarchs, however, were peculiarly fatal to this ambitious man; that of Queen Anne had precipitated him from power, and rescued his country from the ruin he prepared for it; that of George now came as opportunely to prevent the national calamity of his ministry. George set out for Hanover on the 3rd of June, accompanied, as usual, by Townshend and the Duchess of Kendal. Just before his departure the youthful Horace Walpole saw him for the first and last time. When the king was come down to supper, Lady Walsingham took Walpole into the Duchess's ante-room, where George and his favourite were alone. Walpole knelt and[57] kissed the king's hand. George appeared in his usual health."Shut up!" he commanded, jumping to his feet. "You killed her and you ought to be burned at the stake for it, but you shall not talk about her like that, you devilish old crone."


      Chapter 26"'E's certainly warm yet. Hand 'e breathes."