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The Swedes cursed the less than half assistance of their British allies, and Gustavus endeavoured to fight his way without them. He continued to win victory after victory on land; but Catherine soon brought down on his squadron of galleys, which attended his march along the coast to keep up his supplies, an overwhelming fleet of galleys[354] of her own. A desperate battle ensued, but the Swedish galley-fleet was at length overcome. Gustavus was thus greatly embarrassed, and compelled to stand merely on the defensive, till it was time to go into winter quarters. He continued for twelve months to do battle with Russia, and, though with insufficient forces, threatened the very capital of that country. A little support from Britain, Prussia, and Holland, would have enabled Sweden to regain its territories on the eastern shores of the Baltic, to curb the power of Russia, and to assume that station in the North which is essential to the peace of Europe. These countries, however, had not the statesmanship to appreciate this point, or the friendly feeling to effect it, and Gustavus was left to struggle on alone. [See larger version]

COSTUMES OF THE PERIOD OF GEORGE II.

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Rodney, who was still commanding in the West Indies, had been on the look-out for De Grasse, but, missing him, he had dispatched Sir Samuel Hood after him, supposing that he had made for New York. Hood had with him fourteen ships of the line, and, arriving at Sandy Hook on the 28th of August, he found that De Grasse had then sailed for the Chesapeake. Admiral Arbuthnot had been replaced by Admiral Graves, but Graves had only seven ships of the line, and of these only five fit for action. Taking the chief command, with these twenty-one ships Graves set sail for the Chesapeake, with Hood as second in command. There, on the 5th of September, he discerned the fleet of De Grasse at anchor, just within the Capes of Virginia, and blocking up York River with his frigates. Graves had his nineteen ships, De Grasse twenty-eight, and Nelson could have desired nothing better than such a sight in the narrow waters of the Chesapeake: not a ship would have escaped him; but Graves was no Nelson, and allowed De Grasse to cut his cables and run out to sea. There, indeed, Graves attacked him, but under infinitely greater disadvantages, at four o'clock in the afternoon. The night parted them, and De Grasse returned to his old anchorage in the Chesapeake, and Graves sailed away again for New York.

But the agitation of this question produced a strong sensation on the Continent. Buonaparte, who watched every movement of the British Parliament and Government with the deepest anxiety, immediately seized on the discussion as a proof that Great Britain was fast sinking under his Continental system. That system, indeed, was rapidly prostrating the Continent. From all sides complaints had long been pouring in upon him that the suppression of commerce was ruining the great mercantile citiesHamburg, Bremen, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Naples, Genoa, and the other parts of Italy; and that it was diffusing universal poverty and distress. The breach which the Emperor Alexander had made in it, and the determined resistance which the Swedes made to it, had caused him to feel the necessity of relaxing the rigour of his system. But now he took fresh courage. He believed that Great Britain was at her last gasp; that there would speedily be universal rebellion within her from starving citizens; and he held on in his plan, and this proved his ultimate destruction; for it made him all the more determined to coerce Russia, and thus precipitated his fatal campaign against that country.