The End[See larger version]
Great attention was drawn at this time to the operation of the new Poor Law Act, which seemed, in some respects, repugnant to humane and Christian feeling, and was strongly denounced by a portion of the press. An attempt was made by Mr. Walter to get the stringency of the law in some measure relaxed, and on the 1st of August he moved for a select Committee to inquire into its operation, particularly in regard to outdoor relief, and the separation of husbands from their wives, and children from their parents. But it seemed to be the opinion of the House that the workhouse test would lose its effect in a great measure if the separation in question did not take place. The operation of the Act was certainly successful in saving the pockets of the ratepayers, for on a comparison between the years 1834 and 1836 there was a saving to the amount of ￡1,794,990. The question did not seem to excite much interest, for the attendance was thin, as appears by the numbers on the division, which were—for the motion, 46; against it, 82.On the 8th of October Murat landed near Pizzo, on the Calabrian coast—a coast more than any other in Italy fraught with fierce recollections of the French. His army now consisted of only twenty-eight men; yet, in his utter madness, he advanced at the head of this miserable knot of men, crying, "I am your king, Joachim!" and waving the Neapolitan flag. But the people of Pizzo, headed by an old Bourbon partisan, pursued him, not to join, but to seize him. When they began firing on him, he fled back to his vessels; but the commander, a man who had received the greatest benefits from him, deaf to his cries, pushed out to sea, and left him. His pursuers were instantly upon him, fired at him, and wounded him; then rushing on him, they knocked him down and treated him most cruelly. Women, more like furies than anything else, struck their nails into his face and tore off his hair, and he was only saved from being torn to pieces by the old Bourbon and his soldiers, who beat off these female savages and conveyed him to the prison at Pizzo. The news of his capture was a great delight to Ferdinand. He entertained none of the magnanimity of the Allies, but sent at once officers to try by court-martial and, of course, to condemn him. Some of these officers had been in Murat's service, and had received from him numerous favours, but not the less readily did they sentence him to death; and on the 13th of October, 1815, he was shot in the courtyard of the prison at Pizzo—with characteristic bravery refusing to have his eyes bound, and with characteristic vanity bidding the soldiers "save his face, and aim at his heart!"The most interesting of all the debates that occurred in the House of Commons during the Session of 1850 was that which took place on the foreign policy of Great Britain, particularly with reference to Greece. The House of Lords had passed a vote of censure upon the Government, by a majority of thirty-seven, on a motion brought forward by Lord Stanley, and folk were anxious to see how the House of Commons would deal with that fact. On the 20th of June Lord John Russell read the resolution, and said, "We are not going in any respect to alter the course of conduct we have thought it right to pursue in respect of foreign Powers, in consequence of that resolution." He concluded his speech with the following bold defiance, which elicited general and protracted cheering:—"So long as we continue the Government of this country, I can answer for my noble friend [Lord Palmerston] that he will act not as a Minister of Austria, or of Russia, or of France, or of any other country, but as the Minister of England. The honour of England and the interests of England—such are the matters that are within our keeping; and it is to that honour and to those interests that our conduct will in future be, as it has hitherto been, directed."
The growth of material wealth during this reign had in no degree improved the condition of the working class in any proportion to that of other classes. Landlords had greatly raised their rents, and farmers, by the high price of corn and other provisions, had grown comparatively rich, many very rich. The merchants and master manufacturers had shared liberally in the benefits of a vastly increased commerce, and the wonderful spread of manufactures; but the working manufacturers, between the high price of corn and meat, and the lowness of their wages, were in a miserable condition, and frequently, as we have seen, were driven to riot and insurrection. The handloom weavers were swamped by machinery, and those working the machinery were living in wretched houses, and in a most neglected and insanitary condition. Before the first Sir Robert Peel introduced his Bill for reforming the hours and other regulations of cotton mills, many of these worked night and day, one gang, as it was called, succeeding another at the spinning-jenny, in hot, ill-ventilated rooms. Apprentices were purchased of parishes, either children of paupers, or orphans of such, and these were kept by mill-owners, and worked long hours, one gang having to quit their beds in the morning for another gang of these poor unfortunates to turn into them. The agricultural labourers were little better off. Their habitations were of the worst description, though squires' kennels on the same estates were equal, in all sanitary conditions, to tolerable mansions. Their wages remained only some eight or ten shillings a week—when the wheat which they had raised was one hundred and thirty shillings per quarter, and a stone of flour of fourteen pounds cost a gold seven-shilling piece. This drove them in shoals to the workhouse, and produced a state of things that is hardly credible. Their mental and moral condition was equally deplorable. Education, either in town or country, was scarcely known. There was not a school in all the swarming region of Whitechapel, and many another equally poor and populous region of London, much less in country towns and agricultural parishes. It was a settled maxim amongst the landed gentry, that education, even of the most elementary kind, would totally destroy the supply of servants; and it was gravely stated in Parliament that the plot of Thistlewood was owing to the working classes being able to read.On the 28th of March the Ministry, as completed, was announced in the House, and the writs for the re-elections having been issued, the House adjourned for the Easter holidays, and on the 8th of April met for business. The first affairs which engaged the attention of the new Administration were those of Ireland. We have already seen that, in 1778, the Irish, encouraged by the events in North America, and by Lord North's conciliatory proposals to Congress, appealed to the British Government for the removal of unjust restrictions from themselves, and how free trade was granted them in 1780. These concessions were received in Ireland with testimonies of loud approbation and professions of loyalty; but they only encouraged the patriot party to fresh demands. These were for the repeal of the two obnoxious Acts which conferred the legislative supremacy regarding Irish affairs on England. These Acts were—first, Poynings' Act, so called from Sir Edward Poynings, and passed in the reign of Henry VII., which gave to the English Privy Council the right to see, alter, or suppress any Bill before the Irish Parliament, money Bills excepted; the second was an Act of George I., which asserted in the strongest terms the right of the king, Lords, and Commons of England to legislate for Ireland.Melbourne returned to town that evening, the bearer of a letter to the Duke. He communicated the state of affairs to Brougham under pledge of secrecy, but the Lord Chancellor promptly went to the Times and gave the editor a report of the circumstances, with the malicious addition—"The queen has done it all." The king, furious at the insult, came up to town, and dismissed his Ministers before their successors were appointed. Meanwhile, the Duke went to Brighton on Sunday, and advised the king to send for Sir Robert Peel, who was then in Italy. A messenger was immediately despatched, who in ten days arrived at Rome, and surprised Sir Robert Peel with the announcement of the king's wish that he should return to England forthwith. Next morning the right honourable baronet started for home, and arrived in London on the 9th of December. The Duke of Wellington details the circumstances of this Ministerial crisis in a letter to the Duke of Buckingham. According to his account, the death of the Earl Spencer, which removed Lord Althorp from the House of Commons, from the management of the Government business in that assembly, and from the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, occasioned the greatest difficulty and embarrassment. His personal influence and weight in the House of Commons were the main foundation of the strength of the late Government; and upon his removal it was necessary for the king and his Ministers to consider whether fresh arrangements should be made to enable his Majesty's late servants to conduct the affairs of the country, or whether it was advisable for his Majesty to adopt any other course. The arrangements in contemplation must have reference, not only to men, but to measures, to some of which the king felt the strongest objection. He had also strong objections to some of the members of the Cabinet. The Duke was therefore requested to form an Administration, but he earnestly recommended Sir Robert Peel as the fittest man for the office of Prime Minister. In the meanwhile he offered to hold the offices of First Lord of the Treasury and Home Secretary until Sir Robert Peel's return, Lord Lyndhurst holding the Great Seals temporarily, subject, with all the other arrangements, to Sir Robert Peel's approbation. On the 21st Lord Lyndhurst was gazetted as Lord Chancellor, holding in the interim his office of Chief Baron of the Exchequer, which Lord Brougham, dreading the prospect of idleness, offered to fill without salary, thus saving the country ￡12,000 a year, an offer which exposed him to censure from his own party, and which he afterwards withdrew.
It must be confessed that it was impossible to keep peace with a nation determined to make war on the whole world. Perhaps on no occasion had the pride of the British people and their feelings of resentment been so daringly provoked. War was proclaimed against Britain, and it was necessary that she should put herself in a position to protect her own interests. The country was, moreover, bound to defend Holland if assaulted. But though bound by treaty to defend Holland, Great Britain was not bound to enter into the defence of all and every one of the Continental nations; and had she maintained this just line of action, her share in the universal war which ensued would have been comparatively insignificant. Prussia, Russia, and Austria had destroyed every moral claim of co-operation by their lawless seizure of Poland, and the peoples of the Continent were populous enough to defend their own territories, if they were worthy of independence. There could be no just claim on Britain, with her twenty millions of inhabitants, to defend countries which possessed a still greater number of inhabitants, especially as they had never been found ready to assist us, but on the contrary. But Britain, unfortunately, at that time, was too easily inflamed with a war spirit. The people as well as the Government were incensed at the disorganising and aggressive spirit of France, and were soon drawn in, with their Quixotism of fighting for everybody or anybody, to league with the Continental despots for the purpose not merely of repelling French invasions, but of forcing on the French a dynasty that they had rejected.The great maritime struggle of the year was at Toulon. The south of France was then in active combination against the Convention and the Jacobin faction. There was a determination in Toulon, Marseilles, and other places on the coast to support the Royalist party in Aix, Lyons, and other cities. For this purpose they invited the British to co-operate with them. Lord Hood, having obtained from the people of Toulon an engagement to surrender the fleet and town to him, to be held for Louis XVII., arrived before that port in July, with, however, only seven ships of the line, four frigates, and some smaller vessels. Nearly all the old Royalist naval officers were collected in Toulon, and were so eager for revenge on the Jacobin officers and sailors—who had not only superseded them, but had persecuted them with all the savage cruelty of their faction—that they were all for surrendering their fleet to Lord Hood, and putting him in possession of the forts and batteries. There was a firm opposition to this on the part of the Republicans, both in the fleet and the town, but it was carried against them. Besides the Royalist townsmen, there were ten thousand Proven?als in arms in the town and vicinity. As General Cartaux had defeated the Royalists at Marseilles, taken possession of the town, and, after executing severe measures on the Royalists there, was now in full march for Toulon, there was no time to be lost. Lord Hood landed a body of men under Captain Elphinstone, to whom the forts commanding the port were quietly surrendered. Lord Hood was thus at once put into possession of the best French port in the Mediterranean, and a great fleet, with all the stores and ammunition. But he knew very well that the place itself could not long be maintained against the whole force of Republican France. He resolved, however, to defend the inhabitants, who had placed themselves in so terrible a position with their merciless countrymen, to the utmost of his power. He therefore urged the Spaniards to come to his assistance, and they sent several vessels, and three thousand men. He received reinforcements of ships and men from Naples—the queen of which was sister to Marie Antoinette—and from Sardinia. Fresh vessels and men also arrived from England. Lord Mulgrave arrived from Italy, and at Lord Hood's request assumed command, for the time, of the land forces.The interval of repose now obtained continued through the winter, and late into the spring of 1813. It was greatly required by the British army. Lord Wellington stated that the long campaign, commencing in January, had completely tired down man and horse; that they both required thorough rest and good food, and that the discipline of the army, as was always the case after a long campaign, needed restoration; and he set himself about to insure these ends, not only in the troops immediately under his own eye, but in those under Maitland and his successors in the south. He had, even during his own retreat, written to Maitland, encouraging him to have confidence in his men, assuring him that they would repay it by corresponding confidence in themselves. Lord William Bentinck, however, ordered Maitland to return to Sicily with his army in October; Lord Wellington decidedly forbade it. Maitland therefore resigned, and was succeeded by General Clinton, who found himself completely thwarted in his movements by the governor of Alicante, who treated the allies much more like enemies, and would not allow the British to have possession of a single gate of the town, keeping them more like prisoners than free agents. At the beginning of December a fresh reinforcement of four thousand men, under General Campbell, arrived from Sicily, and Campbell took the chief command; but he did not venture to take any decisive movement against the French, but waited for Lord William Bentinck himself, who now determined to come over, but did not arrive till July, 1813. Whilst Campbell remained inactive from this cause, his motley foreign troops continued to desert, and many of them went and enlisted with Suchet.
Ministers carried their indemnity in the Commons by one hundred and sixty-two against sixty-nine; but this did not prevent a prolongation of the demands of the Reformers for a searching inquiry into their employment of the spies. Many petitions were presented to the House of Commons for this inquiry—one of them from Samuel Bamford, who had been a sufferer by imprisonment. On the 3rd of February Hone's case was brought forward by William Smith, of Norwich; on the 10th, Lord Archibald Hamilton made a motion for inquiry into similar prosecutions of persons in Scotland, and especially of Andrew M'Kinley, and this was supported by Sir Samuel Romilly and others, but rejected; yet the next day Mr. Fazakerley made a demand for a rigid inquiry into the employment of the spies, and for ascertaining whether they really had exceeded their instructions. Here was an opportunity for Ministers to clear themselves, were they really innocent of sending them out to excite as well as to discover conspirators. There was a violent debate, but the motion was rejected by one hundred and eleven against fifty-two. The discussion left no doubt of the employment of Oliver and others, and this fact being put beyond dispute, Ministers should, in self-vindication, have cleared themselves, if they were guiltless, as their friends pretended; but they did not do so. On the 17th Lord Folkestone moved for inquiry into the treatment in prison of Mr. Ogden and others, and a similar motion was made on the 19th, in the Lords, by the Earl of Carnarvon. In both cases Ministers, instead of courting inquiry, resented it, and closed the door of investigation by large majorities. Lords Sidmouth, Bathurst, and Liverpool were prominent in staving off these inquiries; and Lords Grosvenor, King, and Holland were earnest in urging the necessity of such inquiry for their own good fame. Lord Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby, put this in the strongest light. He said that he thought Ministers "had been much calumniated, but they would be most so by themselves if they refused to inquire into those acts, when inquiry, according to their own statements, would fully acquit them of the charges laid against them." This was so self-evident that the fact that they would not admit this inquiry might, were there no other grounds for decision, be taken as positive proof of their guilt. But it is not likely that Oliver and his comrades, who were for months in daily communication with Ministers whilst on their detestable missions, would have dared so far to exceed their orders, or, had they done so, that they would have been protected at the expense of the reputations of Ministers themselves, and rewarded into the bargain. The instructions to these men were undoubtedly of too dark a character to be produced in open daylight.[See larger version]
It was stated that the overthrow of Peel's Government was decided by what was called the Lichfield House compact, which made a great noise at the time. By this compact it was alleged that a formal coalition had been effected between the Whigs and the Irish Catholics; but they denied that there was anything formal about the arrangement. There was a meeting, it is true, at Lichfield House, when Lord John Russell stated his intentions, and described what would be his Parliamentary tactics. These met the approval of O'Connell and his friends, and to that extent alone, even by implication, did any compact exist. There had also, it appears from Mr. Walpole's "Life of Lord John Russell," been certain pour-parlers, the result of a formal circular issued by Lord Duncannon. Mr. O'Connell was accustomed to explain his reason for supporting the Whigs by a comparison which was not the most complimentary to them; he said they were like an old hat thrust into a broken pane to keep out the cold.The inhabitants, men, women, and children, fled in terror from their splendid villas, around the city, into the fort of St. George. A fast-sailing vessel was dispatched to Calcutta, to implore the Governor-General to send them speedy aid of men and money. The forces were called together from different quarters, and Sir Hector Munro at the head of one body, and Colonel Baillie at the head of another, were ordered to combine, and intercept Hyder. First one place of rendezvous and then another was named, but, before the junction could take place, Baillie had managed to allow himself to be surrounded by the whole host of Hyder, and after a brave defence was compelled to surrender, one half of his troops being cut to pieces. The insults and cruelties of the troops of Hyder to their captives were something demoniac. Munro had sent to demand troops from the Nabob of Arcot, for whom the British were always fighting, and received a message of compliments, but no soldiers. On the defeat of Baillie he made a hasty retreat to Mount St. Thomas. Meanwhile, the call for aid had reached Calcutta, and Hastings instantly responded to it with all his indomitable energy. He called together the Council, and demanded that peace should be made at once with the Mahrattas; that every soldier should be shipped off at once to Madras; that fifteen lacs of rupees should be sent without a moment's delay to the Council there; that the incompetent governor, Whitehill, should be removed; and Sir Eyre Coote sent to perform this necessary office, and take the command of the troops. Francis, who was just departing for England, raised as usual his voice in opposition. But Hastings' proposals were all carried. The troops, under Sir Eyre Coote, were hurried off, and messengers dispatched in flying haste to raise money at Moorshedabad, Patna, Benares, Lucknow—in short, wherever the authority of Hastings could extort it. At the same time, other officers were sent to negotiate with the Mahrattas for peace.
Gradually, however, a more refined tone was diffusing itself. The example of the head of the nation had not been without its effect. The higher classes abandoned Ranelagh and Vauxhall to the middle and lower classes, if they did not abandon their theatre, opera, and rout. But the theatres, too, became more decorous, and the spread of what had been called Methodism began to reach the higher classes through such men as Wilberforce, and such women as the Countess of Huntingdon and Hannah More. The most palpable drawback to this better state of sentiment and manners was the profligacy of the Prince of Wales and his associates. But towards the end of the reign a decided improvement in both manners and morals had taken place. The momentous events passing over the world, and in which Great Britain had the principal agency, seemed to have rooted out much frivolity, and given a soberer and higher tone to the public mind. The spread of a purer and more humane literature baptised the community with a new and better spirit; art added its refinements, and religion its restraints. The efforts to introduce education amongst the people had begun, and the lowest amusements of dog-fighting, cock-fighting, and bull-baiting were discouraged and put down. The new birth of science, art, literature, and manufactures was accompanied by a new birth of morals, taste, and sentiment, and this, happily, was a true birth; and the growth of what was then born has been proceeding ever since.
Though Buonaparte had been absent, his family had taken care to keep public opinion alive to his importance. His wife, Josephine, lived at great expense, and collected around her all that was distinguished in society. His brother Lucien had become President of the Council of Five Hundred; and Joseph, a man much respected, kept a hospitable house, and did much to maintain the Buonaparte prestige. Talleyrand and Fouché were already in Napoleon's interest, and Bernadotte, now Minister of War, Jourdain, and Augereau, as generals, were prepared to act with him. The Abbé Siéyès, with his perpetual constitution-making, had also been working in a way to facilitate his schemes. He had planned a new and most complicated constitution, known as that of the year Eight, by which the executive power was vested in three Consuls. Of the five Directors Buonaparte left in office, the most active had been removed; Abbé Siéyès had succeeded Rewbell, and two men of no ability, Gohier and Moulins, had succeeded others. Roger Ducos, also in the interest of Buonaparte, made the fifth. All measures being prepared, on the 18th Brumaire, that is, the 10th of November, Buonaparte proceeded to enact the part of Cromwell, and usurp the chief authority of the State, converting the Republic into a military dictatorship. The army had shown, on his return, that they were devoted to his service. Jourdain, Bernadotte, Moreau, and Augereau were willing to co-operate in a coup-de-main which should make the army supreme. He therefore assembled three regiments of dragoons on pretence of reviewing them, and, everything being ready, he proceeded to the Council of Ancients, in which the moderate, or reactionary, party predominated, on the evening of the 10th of November. They placidly gave way in the midst of a most excited debate on the menaced danger, and every member, including Lucien Buonaparte, who was the President, had just been compelled to take an oath to maintain inviolable the Constitution of the year Three, when Napoleon entered, attended by four grenadiers of the Constitutional Guard of the Councils. The soldiers remained near the door, Napoleon advanced up the hall uncovered. There were loud murmurs. "What!" exclaimed the members, "soldiers—drawn swords in the sanctuary of the laws!" They rushed upon him, and seized him by the collar, shouting, "Outlawry! outlawry! proclaim him a traitor!" For a moment he shrank before them, but soon at the instigation of Siéyès returned, and quietly expelled them. Thus Buonaparte, with an army at his back, was openly dictator. He removed to the Palace of the Luxembourg, and assumed a state little inferior to royalty. He revised the Constitution of the Abbé Siéyès, concentrating all the power of the State in the First Consul, instead of making him, as he expressed it, a personage whose only duties were to fatten, like a pig, upon so many millions a-year.
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These godless atrocities, these enormous murders, beyond all historic precedent, proclaimed a people which had renounced God as well as humanity; and they soon proceeded to avow this fact, and to establish it by formal decree. In their rage for destroying everything old, there was nothing that escaped them. They altered the mode of computing time, and no longer used the Gregorian calendar, but dated all deeds from the first year of Liberty, which they declared to have commenced on the 22nd of September, 1792. The next and greatest achievement was to dethrone the Almighty, and erect the Goddess of Reason in His place. Under the auspices of the Goddess of Reason they did a very unreasonable thing: they deprived all working people and all working animals of one rest-day in every month. Instead of having the four weeks and four Sundays in a month, they decimalised the months, dividing them each into three decades, or terms of ten days each, so that there were only three rest-days, instead of four, in the month.[See larger version]On this day all Paris was astir. The drums were beating in all quarters; the National Guard were assembling at their different posts; the Insurrectional Committee had divided itself into three sections. One took its station in the Faubourg St. Marceau, with Fournier at its head; another in the Faubourg St. Antoine, headed by Westermann and Santerre; whilst Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Carra, were at the Cordeliers. About twelve o'clock the tocsin began to ring out from the H?tel de Ville, and was quickly followed by the bells in every church tower in Paris. By one o'clock the palace was surrounded by vast throngs of armed people. They could be seen by the inmates of the palace through the old doors of the courts, and from the windows. Their artillery was visibly pointed at the palace, and the noise of their shouting, beating of drums, and singing of insurrectionary songs, was awful. The king had issued an order that the Swiss and Guards should not commence the attack, but should repel force by force. It was now recommended that the king also should go down, and by showing himself, and addressing a few words to them, should animate them in their duty. The queen, her eyes inflamed with weeping, and with an air of dignity, which was never forgotten by those who saw her, said also, "Sire, it is time to show yourself." She is said to have snatched a pistol from the belt of old General d'Affry, and to have presented it in an excitement that scarcely allowed her to remain behind. Could she have changed places, had she been queen in her own right, there would soon have been a change of scene. As for Louis, with that passive courage which he always possessed, and so uselessly, he went forward and presented himself to view upon the balcony. At the sight of him, the Grenadiers raised their caps on the points of their swords and bayonets, and there were cries of "Vive le Roi!" the last that saluted him in his hereditary palace. Even at this cry, numbers of the National Guard took alarm, imagining that they were to be surrendered to the knights of the dagger, and that they had been betrayed. The gunners, joining in the panic, turned their guns towards the palace, but the more faithful Guard drove them from the guns, disarmed them, and put them under watch.
[See larger version]THE FRENCH REVOLUTION: COSTUME "à LA ROBESPIERRE."详情
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