About this time two publications occurred, which produced long and violent controversies—those of the pretended "Poems of Rowley," by Chatterton, and "Ossian's Poems," by Macpherson. Chatterton, who was the articled clerk of an attorney at Bristol, a mere youth, pretended that he had discovered Rowley's poems in the muniment room of the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. These poems, written on yellow parchment, and in a most antiquated style, by a boy of sixteen, were palmed upon the world as the genuine productions of one Thomas Rowley, and took in many well-known authors and literary antiquaries, very wise in their own conceit. As the productions of a boy of that age these poems are marvellous, and nothing besides which Chatterton, in his short, neglected life, produced approached them in merit. This, too, was the case with Macpherson, who professed to have collected the poems of Ossian, an old bard of Morven, in the Highlands, and simply translated them into English. He was warmly accused of having written them himself; but as Chatterton, so Macpherson, steadily denied the authorship of the poems thus introduced, and as in Chatterton's case, so in Macpherson's, no other compositions of the professed collector ever bore any relation to these in merit. There can now be very little doubt that Macpherson founded his Ossianic poems on real originals to some extent; but that Chatterton, if he received Rowley's poems from Rowley, did so by inspiration.
This point settled, the preliminaries of peace were signed at Fontainebleau on the 3rd of November. To console Spain for her losses by her unlucky alliance with France, Louis XV. ceded Louisiana to that country by a private convention.
In this wild but confident manner did this now pride-blinded man talk. And all the time he had no intention whatever of re-establishing the Poles; he meant only to use them. Once more, however, he sent General Lauriston and the Count Narbonne to the Emperor Alexander at Wilna. The pretext was to invite him to Dresden, "where," he said, "all might be arranged;" the real object was to spy out the forces and preparations of the Czar. Alexander refused to see Lauriston, and gave to Narbonne a very curt and warlike answer. The French emissaries found the Russians neither depressed nor elated, but quietly cheerful and determined.
The gulf between the Minister and the landowners was widening. The debates on the Budget, and on Mr. Cobden's motion for inquiry into the alleged agricultural distress, had drawn out more bitter speeches from Mr. Disraeli, and served still further to mark the distinction between the Minister and a large section of his old followers. But one of the most significant signs of the time was the increasing tendency to recognise the talents and singleness of purpose of the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers. It became almost fashionable to compliment the ability of Mr. Cobden. It was almost forgotten that the Minister had once carried with him the whole House in making an excited charge against that gentleman of marking him out for assassination. The bitterness of the ultra-Protectionists was certainly unabated; but neither the Quarterly nor any other review now classed the Manchester men with rick-burners and assassins, or called upon the Government to indict them for sedition.The excitement, both at Court and in the country, was far beyond the then apparent value of the islands; but there had been an insult to the British flag, and both Government and Opposition demanded expiation. Lord North displayed a bold and determined tone on the occasion. Orders were sent over to the British ambassador, at Madrid, to demand an immediate disavowal of Buccarelli's act, and instant measures were taken for war, in case of refusal. Ships were refitted, their commanders named, stores were put on board, and orders for pressing men, according to the custom of the time, were issued. But in London these preparations met with resistance from the opposition spirit of the Corporation. Things, however, seemed tending strongly towards war. Our Chargé d'affaires at Madrid, in absence of the ambassador, was Mr. Harris, the son of the author of "Hermes." He was but a youth of four-and-twenty, but already displayed much of the talent which raised him to the title of Malmesbury. He wrote home that the King of Spain and some of his Ministers were averse from the idea of war, and unprepared for it; but that others were influenced by Choiseul, the French Premier, and demanded a vigorous attack on England.
On the following evening Lord Melbourne, having explained why he resigned, said, "And now, my lords, I frankly declare that I resume office unequivocally and solely for this reason, that I will not abandon my Sovereign in a situation of difficulty and distress, and especially when a demand is made upon her Majesty with which I think she ought not to comply—a demand, in my opinion, inconsistent with her personal honour, and which, if acquiesced in, would make her reign liable to all the changes and variations of political parties, and render her domestic life one constant scene of unhappiness and discomfort." The Whigs, therefore, returned to office, but not to power.The French Revolution of 1830 exerted an influence so mighty upon public opinion and political events in England, that it becomes necessary to trace briefly its rise, progress, and rapid consummation. When Louis XVIII. was restored to the throne by the arms of the Allies, it was found that he had learnt little wisdom in his exile. He was, however, a man of moderation, and affected to pursue a middle course. His successor, Charles X., who ascended the throne in 1824, was violent and bigoted, a zealous Catholic, hating the Revolution and all its results, and making no secret of his feelings. From the moment he commenced his reign he pursued a course of unscrupulous reaction. At the general election the prefects so managed as to procure an overwhelming Ministerial majority, who immediately resolved to extend the duration of the Chamber of Deputies to seven years. They next passed a law to indemnify Emigrants, for which they voted an annual sum representing a capital of thirty millions sterling. In 1827 the Prime Minister, Villele, adopted the daring measure of disbanding the National Guard, because it had expressed its satisfaction at the defeat of a measure for the restriction of the liberty of the press. He next took the still more dangerous step of dissolving the Chamber of Deputies. This produced a combination of parties, which resulted in the defeat of the Ministerial candidates in every direction. The consequence was the resignation of Villele, on the 5th of January, 1828. He was succeeded by Martignac, whose Government abolished the discretionary power of re-establishing the censorship of the press, and adopted measures for securing the purity of the electoral lists against the frauds of the local authorities. They also issued an ordonnance on education, guarding society against the encroachments of the Jesuits, and the apprehension of clerical domination. The king, taking alarm at these Liberal tendencies, dismissed Martignac and his colleagues, and in August, 1829, he appointed a Ministry exclusively and devotedly Royalist, at the head of which he placed Prince de Polignac, a bigoted Catholic, who, during the Empire, had engaged in many wild schemes for the restoration of the Bourbons. This conduct on the part of the king was regarded by the people almost universally as indicating a design to suppress their constitutional liberties, which they resolved to counteract by having recourse to the constitutional remedy against arbitrary power—namely, refusal to pay the taxes. With this object an association was formed in Brittany, which established a fund to indemnify those who might suffer in resisting the levy of imposts. The press was most unanimous in condemning the new Ministry, and by spirited and impassioned appeals to the patriotism of the people and their love of freedom, roused them to a sense of their coming danger. Prince de Polignac was charged with the design of destroying the Charter; of creating a majority in the Chamber of Deputies by an unconstitutional addition of aristocratic members; of calling in foreign armies to overawe the French people; and of raising military forces by royal ordonnances. The Moniteur contained an authorised contradiction of all these imputations and rumours. Charles was assured, however, by the Royalists that surrounded him, that there always would be a majority against him in the Chamber, no matter who the Ministers might be, and that it was impossible to carry on the Government under the existing system. He was too ready to listen to such counsels, fondly attached as he was to the priesthood, the privileged orders, tithes, feudal services, and provincial administrations.
This letter, though marked "private and confidential," was, like the Duke's letter to the same prelate, made public, and became the subject of comment in the Association and in the press, which tended still more to embarrass the question by irritating the king and the Duke, and furnishing exciting topics to the enemies of the Catholic cause. The Marquis of Anglesey, indeed, from the time he went to Ireland, held the strongest language to the Government as to the necessity of carrying the measure. At a subsequent period he expressed a wish that his opinions should be made fully known to the king and his Ministers, because they could then better judge of his fitness for carrying into effect the measures they might decide upon adopting. On the 31st of July he wrote:—"I will exert myself to keep the country quiet, and put down rebellion under any circumstances; but I will not consent to govern this country much longer under the existing law."
The Prussian people, however, on their part, were clamorous for war; they still prided themselves on the victories of Frederick, called the Great, and the students and the young nobles were full of bravado. But, unfortunately, they had not generals like Frederick to place at the head of their armies, and their military system was entirely obsolete. The Duke of Brunswick, who, in his youth, had shown much bravery in the Seven Years' War, but who had been most unfortunate in his invasion of France, in 1792, was now, in his seventy-second year, placed in chief command, to compete with Napoleon. Nothing could exceed the folly of his plan of the campaign. The whole force of Prussia, including its auxiliaries, amounted only to about one hundred and fifty thousand men. Of these the Saxons, who had reluctantly united with Prussia, and had only been forced into co-operation by the Prussians marching into their country, and, in a manner, compelling them, were worse than lukewarm in the cause; they were ready at any moment to join the French. Besides these, and the troops of Hesse-Cassel, they had not an ally except the distant Russians. On the other hand, Napoleon had a considerably superior army of his own in advance, and he had immense forces behind the Rhine, for he had anticipated a whole year's conscription. He had, moreover, his flanks protected by his friendly confederates of the Rhine, ready to come forward, if necessary. In these circumstances, Prussia's policy ought to have been to delay action, by negotiation or otherwise, till the Russians could come up, and then to have concentrated her troops so as to resist, by their momentum, the onset of the confident and battle-practised French. But, so far from taking these precautions, the Duke of Brunswick rushed forward at once into Franconia, into the very face of Buonaparte, and long before he could have the assistance of Russia. Instead of concentrating his forces, Brunswick had stretched them out over a line of ninety miles in length. He and the king had their headquarters at Weimar; their left, under Prince Hohenlohe, was at Schleitz, and their right extended as far as Mühlhausen. The Prussians, in fact, appeared rather to be occupying cantonments than drawn into military position for a great contest. Besides they had in front of them the Thuringian Forest, behind which Napoleon could man?uvre as he pleased.Parliament, having so smoothly transacted its business, was prorogued on the 14th of June, and Walpole then addressed himself to the settlement of the Spanish difference. But here he found a spirit of resistance which had undoubtedly grown from the invectives of the Opposition. The outcries against the Spanish captains, the right of search, and the payment of compensation for the ships taken by Byng, had given great offence to the proud Spaniards. They were encouraged, also, by the earnest manner in which Walpole had argued for peace. They now assumed a high tone. They complained of the continuance of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. They demanded the payment of the sixty-eight thousand pounds which they said was due from the South Sea Company, though it had been stipulated in the Convention that it should not come into consideration.
The procession, on its return, presented a still more striking appearance than before, from the circumstance that the Queen wore her crown, and the royal and noble personages their coronets. The mass of brilliants, relieved here and there by a large coloured stone, and the purple velvet cap, became her Majesty extremely well, and had a superb effect. The sight of the streets "paved with heads," and the houses alive with spectators, was most impressive. The Queen entertained a party of one hundred at dinner, and in the evening witnessed, from the roof of her palace, the fireworks in the Green Park. The Duke of Wellington gave a grand banquet at Apsley House, and several Cabinet Ministers gave official State dinners next day. The people were gratified, at the solicitation of Mr. Hawes, M.P. for Lambeth, with permission to hold a fair in Hyde Park, which continued for four days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday. The area allotted comprised nearly one-third of the park, extending from near the margin of the Serpentine river to a line within a short distance of Grosvenor Gate. To the interior there were eight entrances, the main one fifty feet wide, and the others thirty feet each. The enclosed area was occupied by theatres, taverns, and an endless variety of exhibitions, the centre being appropriated to lines of stalls for the sale of fancy goods, sweetmeats, and toys. The Queen condescended to visit the fair on Friday. The illuminations on the night of the coronation were on a larger and more magnificent scale than had been before seen in the metropolis, and the fireworks were also extremely grand. All the theatres in the metropolis, and nearly all the other places of amusement, were opened gratuitously that evening by her Majesty's command, and though all were crowded, the arrangements were so excellent that no accident occurred. In the provinces, rejoicing was universal. Public dinners, feasts to the poor, processions, and illuminations were the order of the day. At Liverpool was laid the first stone of St. George's Hall, in presence of a great multitude. At Cambridge 13,000 persons were feasted on one spot, in the open field, called Parker's Piece, in the centre of which was raised an orchestra for 100 musicians, surrounded by a gallery for 1,600 persons. Encircling this centre were three rows of tables for the school children, and from them radiated, like the spokes of a wheel, the main body of the tables, 60 in number, and 25 feet in length. Beyond their outer extremity were added 28 other tables, in a circle; and outside the whole a promenade was roped in for spectators, who were more numerous than those who dined. The circumference of the whole was more than one-third of a mile. Other great towns similarly distinguished themselves."Father clammed thrice a week,
The debate on Mr. Villiers's annual motion, on June 10, produced still further evidences of the decline of Protectionist principles. On that occasion Sir James Graham, who was currently believed to be better acquainted with the feelings of the Premier than any other of the Ministers, said, "He would not deny that it was his opinion, that by a gradual and cautious policy it was expedient to bring our system of Corn Laws into a nearer approximation to those wholesome principles which governed legislation with respect to other industrial departments. But it was his conviction that suddenly and at once to throw open the trade in corn would be inconsistent with the well-being of the community, and would give such a shock to the agricultural interest as would throw many other interests into a state of convulsion. The object of every Government, without distinction of party, for the last twenty years, had been to substitute protecting duties for prohibitory duties, and to reduce gradually protecting duties, where it had them to deal with. He approved of this as a safe principle, and showed that it was the keystone of the policy of Sir Robert Peel.... If they could show him that Free Trade with open ports would produce a more abundant supply to the labourer, they would make him [Sir James] a convert to the doctrine of Free Trade in corn. He confessed that he placed no value on the fixed duty of four shillings lately proposed; it would be of no avail as a protection, whilst it would be liable to all the obloquy of a protecting duty; and he therefore thought that if they got rid of the present Corn Law, they had better assent to a total repeal." Sir Robert Peel spoke more cautiously; but he began by striking away a favourite maxim of his party, in observing that experience proved that the high price of corn was not accompanied by a high rate of wages, and that wages did not vary with the price of corn. He said that he "must proceed, in pursuance of his own policy, to reconcile the gradual approach of our legislation to sound principle on this subject, with the interests which had grown up under a different state of things;" but he admitted that it would be "impossible to maintain any law on the ground that it was intended to keep up rents."详情
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