Meanwhile Brigadier Wild occupied a position of great difficulty at Peshawur. He had four native infantry regiments, containing a large number of young soldiers, whom the mutinous Sikhs had impressed with a great horror of the Khyber Pass. The only cavalry he had was a troop of irregular horse, and the only guns, four pieces of Sikh artillery. Besides, the owners of the camels, which had been hired at Ferozepore to proceed as far as Jelalabad, refused to advance farther than Peshawur. It was in these circumstances that Sale and M'Gregor earnestly urged the advance of the brigade for the relief of that place. The fortress of Ali Musjid, regarded as the key to the Khyber Pass, is situated about[498] twenty-five miles from Peshawur: and as it lay between the two positions of Sale and Wild, it was of the utmost importance that it should be occupied. It was accordingly resolved that one-half of Wild's brigade should be dispatched for this service. On the 15th of January Colonel Moseley, with the 53rd and 64th Sepoy Regiments, started under cover of the night, and reached their destination early in the morning. The fortress was about five miles up the Pass. Soon after they had taken up their position they discovered to their dismay that owing to some mistake, instead of 350 supply bullocks, which had been ordered, only fifty or sixty had arrived. Here, then, were two regiments shut up in an isolated fortress without provisions. Day after day passed and no succour came. Wild made an effort to send forward supplies, but the attempt was a disastrous failure. The Sikh auxiliaries mutinied to a man, and refused to enter the Pass. There being no prospect of relief, Colonel Moseley determined to evacuate the fortress. Captain Burt and Captain Thomas offered to remain and keep possession of so important a position, if only 150 men would volunteer for the service. But none were found willing to undertake the perilous duty, and so Ali Musjid was abandoned and suffered to fall into the hands of the Afreedis. The brigade had some fighting on its way back. Some of its officers were killed, some wounded and sick were abandoned, and some baggage was lost.

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On the 22nd of January, 1801, the first Imperial Parliament met, and Addington was re-elected Speaker. The king did not meet this Parliament till the whole of its members had been sworn; his opening of it for business took place on the 2nd of February, and his speech had no cheering topics to give spirit to its first proceedings; on the Continent there had been nothing but defeat on the part of the Allies, of triumph on that of France. Our late ally, Paul, had not only seized our merchant vessels in the ports of the Baltic, and the property of our merchants in the Russian towns, but he had entered into a league with Sweden and Denmark to close the Baltic altogether to us, and to compel us to relinquish the right of search. This confederacy, by stopping the supplies of corn from the North, threatened us with great aggravation of the distresses at home; and some members advocated the surrender of the right of search, or the acceptance of the principles of an armed neutrality, such as Catherine of Russia had endeavoured to establish. But Pitt plainly showed that to allow neutral vessels to carry arms, ammunition, and commodities of life into the ports of our enemies would render all blockades of their forts useless, and enormously increase our difficulties during war. Orders were immediately issued to send a powerful fleet into the Baltic to chastise the insane Czar. Otherwise the prospect was dismal enough, and some of the greatest thinkers of the age were profoundly affected by the conviction that they were on the eve of a vast convulsionthat the end of the world was at hand, and that the globe was about to emerge into a new state of existence. The unsettled state of society accounts, in some measure, for the prevalence of the delusions of Edward Irvingthen in the height of his fame; delusions from which such minds as Dr. Arnold's did not wholly escape. In reply to inquiries about the gift of tongues, this great man wrote:"If the thing be real, I should take it merely as a sign of the coming day of the Lord. However, whether this be a real sign or no, I believe the day of the Lord is comingi.e. the termination of one of the great ages of the human race; whether the final one of all, or not, that, I believe, no created being knows, or can know.... My sense of the evils of the times, and to what purpose I am bringing up my children, is overwhelmingly bitter. All the moral and physical worlds appear so exactly to announce the coming of the great day of the Lordi.e. a period of fearful visitation, to terminate the existing state of thingswhether to terminate the whole existence of the human race, neither man nor angel knowsthat no entireness of private happiness can possibly close my mind against the sense of it."

[See larger version] On the Rhine there was a good deal of sharp fighting between the French and Austrians. General Bender had been compelled to surrender Luxembourg, on the 7th of July, and allowed to retire with his army of ten thousand men into Germany, on condition of not serving again till exchanged. There then remained little on either bank of the Rhine to restrain the advance of the French, except Mayence on the left bank, and Manheim and Düsseldorf on the right. Pichegru, in August, made himself master of both Düsseldorf and Manheim, and was advancing to the reduction of Heidelberg when he was met by old General Wurmser, and driven back to Manheim. He was, in fact, meditating treachery. Jourdain, who was advancing in another direction to co-operate with Pichegru in the reduction of Mayence, was encountered by Clairfait, and driven back to Düsseldorf. Clairfait then attacked the French forces already investing Mayence, and the garrison making a sally at the same time, the French were completely dispersed, and part retreated north and part south. Wurmser then invested Manheim, and compelled its surrender on the 22nd of November. Pichegru signed an armistice with the Austrians before joining them. Jourdain also retreated. The day before George embarked, Admiral Boscawen set sail, with eleven ships of the line and two regiments of soldiers, to intercept the French fleet, which had sailed from Rochefort and Brest to carry reinforcements to the Canadians. Boscawen was to attack and destroy the French, if possible. Boscawen came up with the French fleet on the banks of Newfoundland, but a thick fog hid them from each other. Captain Howe, afterwards Lord Howe, and Captain Andrews, however, descried and captured two of the French men-of-war, containing eight thousand pounds in money, and many officers and engineers; but the rest of the fleet, under Admiral Bois de la Motte,[119] warned by the firing, got safe into the harbour of Louisburg.