From the Picture by T. R. HARDY.But this little episode of the war presented one bright spot amid the vast picture of miserable mismanagement, want of concert and of activity, amongst the Allies engaged against France. The campaign of 1794 was most disgraceful and discouraging. The plan still was for the different armies of the Allies to advance from the different frontiers, north, west, east, and south, and concentrate themselves on Paris; but all the activity and concentration were on the side of the French. In the very commencement of it, it was observed that Prussia was not bringing by any means the stipulated amount of forces into the field. The king, thinking much more of securing his Polish robberies than of co-operating against France, remained in Poland, and was even discovered to be secretly negotiating with the French Convention for peace. Britain was alarmed at this symptom of Prussian defection and made strong remonstrances. Frederick William coolly replied that it was impossible for him to go on without a large sum of money. The hint of Prussia was not lost; money was promised, and in April of this year a subsidy of two millions two hundred thousand pounds was paid to Prussia to secure her more active operation, and on condition that she brought into the field sixty thousand men. The bulk of this money was paid by Britain, a small fraction by Holland; and what was the result? The King of Prussia sent very few troops into the field, but employed the money in paying and maintaining armies to keep down the invaded provinces of Poland, and to invade more! Thus Britain was duped into the disgraceful business of riveting the fetters of unhappy Poland; and it would have been well had this taught the British Government wisdom. But it was now intent on that astonishing career of subsidising almost all the nations of Europe against France; of purchasing useless German soldiers at astounding prices; of pouring out the wealth and blood of Britain like water to enable the Germans and Russians to defend their own hearths and homes, and in vain. The results of this subsidy ought to have satisfied Britain, and would have satisfied any other nation; for it did not long retain Prussia as an ally, even in name.
O'Connell also wielded against the Government the fierce democracy of Roman Catholic Ireland. Sir Robert Peel had irritated him by some contemptuous remarks on his Repeal agitation, and he rose in his own defence, like a lion in his fury. He proceeded to give a description of the condition of Ireland, "which," said Mr. Brougham, "if not magnified in its proportions, if not painted in exaggerated colours, presents to my mind one of the most dismal, melancholy, and alarming conditions of society ever heard of or recorded in any State of the civilised world." Mr. O'Connell thus addressed the Treasury bench:—"Tell the people of Ireland that you have no sympathy with their sufferings, that their advocate is greeted with sneers and laughter, that he is an outlaw in the land, and that he is taunted with want of courage, because he is afraid of offending his God. Tell them this, and let them hear also in what language the Secretary of State, who issued the proclamation to prevent meetings in Ireland, has spoken of Polignac." A powerful defence of his system of peaceful agitation, and a fierce defiance and denunciation of the existing Administration, closed this remarkable speech, whose effect upon the House, Mr. Roebuck said, was great and unexpected. Its effect upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland, it need not be added, was immense.In 1821, 7,250,000 lbs. of coffee were consumed by fourteen millions of people in Great Britain. In 1824 the consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom was 8,250,000 lbs., and the duties were—on foreign coffee, 2s. 6d. per lb.; East India, 1s. 6d.; British West India, 1s. per lb. In the same year the consumption was—of foreign coffee, 1,540 lbs.; East India, 313,000 lbs.; West India, about 800,000 lbs. In the following year Mr. Huskisson reduced the duties on these several kinds to 1s. 3d., 9d., and 6d., respectively, which caused a rapid increase in the consumption. In 1840 the consumption was—of East and West India, 14,500,000 lbs.; and of foreign, 14,000,000 lbs. In 1841, 27,250,000 lbs. were consumed by eighteen and a half millions of people. The tea trade with China was used by the East India Company for the purpose of enriching itself by an enormous tax upon the British consumer. During one hundred years it ranged from 2s. to 4s. in the pound excise duty, with a customs duty of 14 per cent., down to a total minimum duty of 12? per cent. The former duty was estimated at 200 per cent. on the value of the common teas. The effect, as might be expected, was an enormous amount of smuggling. The monopoly of the Company was abolished; it was made lawful for any person to import tea by the Act 4 William IV., c. 85; and the trade was opened on the 22nd of April, 1834. The ad valorem duties were abolished, and all the Bohea tea imported for home consumption was charged with a customs duty of 1s. 6d. per lb.; Congou and other teas of superior quality were charged 2s. 2d. per lb., and some 3s. per lb. In 1836 these various duties gave place to a uniform one of 2s. 1d. per lb., which, with the addition of 5 per cent., imposed in 1840, continued till 1851, when the penny was removed. During the last year of restricted trade (1833) our aggregate importations amounted to 32,000,000 lbs.; during the first year of Free Trade, they bounded up to 44,000,000 lbs.; and in 1856 they had attained to 86,000,000 lbs. The average price of tea per lb., including duty, in 1834, was 4s. 4d. In 1821 the total quantity of tea imported into Great Britain was upwards of 31,000,000 lbs., and its value ￡1,873,886; in 1834 the quantity was about 35,000,000 lbs., and the value about ￡2,000,000. In 1837 the quantity was about 40,000,000 lbs.A third Bill yet remained to be carried, in order to complete the Ministerial scheme of Emancipation, and supply the security necessary for its satisfactory working. This was the Bill for disfranchising the forty-shilling freeholders, by whose instrumentality, it may be said, Emancipation was effected. It was they that returned Mr. O'Connell for Clare; it was they that would have returned the members for twenty-three other counties, pledged to support his policy. It is true that this class of voters was generally dependent upon the landlords, unless under the influence of violent excitement, when they were wrested like weapons from their hands by the priests, and used with a vengeance for the punishment of those by whom they had been created. In neither case did they exercise the franchise in fulfilment of the purpose for which it was given. In both cases those voters were the instruments of a power which availed itself of the forms of the Constitution, but was directly opposed to its spirit. Disfranchisement, however, in any circumstances, was distasteful to both Conservative and Liberal statesmen. Mr. Brougham said he consented to it in this case "as the price—almost the extravagant price"—of Emancipation; and Sir James Mackintosh remarked that it was one of those "tough morsels" which he had been scarcely able to swallow. The measure was opposed by Mr. Huskisson, Lord Palmerston, and Lord Duncannon, as not requisite, and not calculated to accomplish its object. But although Mr. O'Connell had repeatedly declared that he would not accept Emancipation if the faithful "forties" were to be sacrificed, that he would rather die on the scaffold than submit to any such measure, though Mr. Sheil had denounced it in language the most vehement, yet the measure was allowed to pass through both Houses of Parliament without any opposition worth naming; only seventeen members voting against the second reading in the Commons, and there being no division against it in the Lords. Ireland beheld the sacrifice in silence. Mr. O'Connell forgot his solemn vows, so recently registered, and, what was more strange, the priests did not remind him of his obligation. Perhaps they were not sorry to witness the annihilation of a power which landlords might use against them and which agitators might wield in a way that they could not at all times control. There had been always an uneasy feeling among the prelates and the higher clergy at the influence which Mr. O'Connell and the other lay agitators had acquired, because it tended to raise in the people a spirit of independence which rendered them sometimes refractory as members of the Church, and suggested the idea of combination against their own pastors, if they declined to become their leaders in any popular movement. The popular leaders in Ireland, however, consoling themselves with the assurance that many of the class of "bold peasantry" which they had glorified would still enjoy the franchise as ten-pound freeholders, consented, reluctantly of course, to the extinction of 300,000 "forties." They considered the danger of delay, and the probability that if this opportunity were missed, another might not occur for years of striking off the shackles which the upper classes of Roman Catholics especially felt to be so galling.
Puisaye's mission to London had been successful. Pitt was weak enough to fall into the plan of sending over the Emigrants in our ships—as if any such force could do more against the Republican armies than create fresh miseries to all parties, and bring down worse vengeance on the unfortunate Vendéans and Bretons. Puisaye, with the aid of the Counts d'Hervilly, d'Hector, du Dresnay, Colonel Routhalier, and other Royalist officers, had mustered a most miscellaneous body of three thousand Emigrants, most of whom had been soldiers, and who were accompanied by four hundred artillerymen of Toulon, commanded by Routhalier. Besides these men, of whom the Count d'Artois, for the time, gave the command to Puisaye, intending himself to follow, Puisaye carried over ten thousand pounds, furnished by the Count d'Artois, twenty-seven thousand muskets, six hundred barrels of gunpowder, uniforms for seventeen thousand infantry and four thousand cavalry, as well as provisions for three months. These troops and stores were, after many delays, conveyed in a little squadron of three ships of the line and six frigates, attended by transports, and commanded by Sir John Borlase Warren. They sailed from the Isle of Wight in the beginning of June, another squadron being sent to take up the Emigrant troops in the Channel Islands, and land them at St. Malo, where they were to co-operate with bodies of Chouans. These Chouans were smugglers and bandits, who had led a life of plunder, and had been easily collected into a sort of guerilla force, and their mode of warfare still bore a strong resemblance to their old habits. These men, under their different chiefs, had been excited by Puisaye to combine for a strong resistance to the Republicans. They were dressed in green coats and pantaloons, with red waistcoats. During his absence, Puisaye had deputed the chief command of the Chouan bands to the so-called Baron Cormatin, or Sieur Désoteux, who had assumed the title of Baron de Cormatin from an estate of his wife's. Cormatin was a vain, weak man, and by no means trustworthy, being ready, at any moment, to supersede his chief, Puisaye, and act for himself. If the expedition against St. Malo did not succeed, it was to join Puisaye and his detachment in the Bay of Quiberon; and transports were also sent to the mouth of the Elbe, to fetch thence the Emigrant regiments with the black cockade, and bring them to join Puisaye. If all went well, the Count d'Artois was to follow with British troops. The grand error of the whole was, that the French prince did not put himself at once at the head of the expedition, and see the different squadrons united in the Bay of Quiberon before making the descent, though, even then, it could have effected no great success.It was at the close of 1719, when George I. returned from Hanover, that this Company proposed to Ministers to consolidate all the funds into one. It was strange that both Ministers and merchants could be deluded by the hope of enriching themselves by a share of the trade with the Spanish South American provinces, when Spain herself, in full enjoyment of them, was sunk into indigence and weakness, and presented the most determined resistance to the unfettered intercourse of any other nation with them. Yet Sir John Blunt, a leading director of the South Sea Company, persuaded the Ministers that by granting the Company power to deal with the public funds, and especially to buy up the unredeemable annuities which had been granted in the two preceding reigns, chiefly on terms of ninety-nine years, and which now amounted to about eight hundred thousand pounds a year, they could, in twenty-six years, pay off the entire National Debt. But, to enable them to do this, they must be empowered to reduce all the different public securities to one aggregate fund in their hands, to convert both redeemable and unredeemable debts into stock by such arrangements as they could make with the holders, and to have certain commercial privileges vested in them. Ministers accepted the proposals with great alacrity. Aislabie introduced the scheme to Parliament in the month of February, 1720, declaring that, if it was accepted by the House, the prosperity of the nation would be amazingly enhanced, and all its debts liquidated in a very few years. Craggs seconded the proposal in most sanguine terms, expressing his conviction that every member of the House must be ready to adopt so advantageous an offer. Ministers had already closed with the proposals of the Company, and they were themselves greatly disconcerted by the suggestion of Mr. Thomas Brodrick, the member for Stockbridge, who expressed his entire accordance with Ministers, but thought that the nation should endeavour to obtain the best terms for itself by opening the competition to every other company or association of men as well as that in question. Ministers were confounded by this proposal, and Aislabie endeavoured to get out of it by declaring that to do this would be like putting the nation up to auction, and that such things should be done with spirit. But Jekyll interposed, saying it was this spirit which had ruined the nation, and it was now requisite to consider seriously what was best for the public. A violent debate ensued, in which Walpole eloquently recommended open competition, and was sharply replied to by Lechmere. The question was carried in favour of competition; and then the Bank of England, which before had coolly declined to enter into the proposals, suddenly appeared in a new temper, and made liberal offers for the privilege of thus farming the public debts. But the South Sea Company was not to be outdone; it offered seven millions and a half, and the Bank gave way in despair.
On the 11th of March the Earl of Radnor presented a petition adopted at a great meeting of inhabitants of the county of Somerset, which led to a long debate, in the course of which the Duke of Wellington earnestly recommended their lordships to leave the Corn Law as it was, and to continue to maintain the system which it was the object of that law to carry into effect; and the Duke of Richmond declared that he was surprised that any doubt could exist that "the farmers were, almost to a man, hostile to the delusions of Free Trade." On the following evening Mr. Cobden brought forward a motion to inquire into the effects of protective duties on the interests of the tenant-farmers and labourers of the country, promising that he would not bring forward a single witness who should not be a tenant-farmer or a landed proprietor; but the debate concluded with a division which negatived the motion by 244 votes to 153.The Spaniards had at length made Lord Wellington Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish armies, but this appointment was little more than nominal, for the Spanish generals continued as froward and insubordinate as ever; and the Spanish Government was poorer than ever, its remittances from the South American colonies, which were asserting their independence, being stopped. Wellington's dependence, therefore, continued to rest on his army of British and Portuguese—sixty-three thousand infantry and six thousand cavalry.
The plan of a very liberal constitution was discussed for several days, and ultimately adopted. It is unnecessary here to describe in detail the principles of a constitution so short-lived. One of those principles led to its speedy destruction. It was, that the President of the Republic should be chosen, not by the Assembly, but by the nation at large. This was a very extraordinary course for the Assembly to take, because they must have known that Louis Napoleon would be elected by universal suffrage; whereas their own choice would have fallen upon Cavaignac. The following was the result of the voting:—Louis Napoleon, 5,434,226; Cavaignac, 1,448,107; Ledru Rollin, 370,119; Raspail, 36,900; Lamartine, 17,910; Changarnier, 4,790; votes lost, 12,600. On the 20th of December Prince Napoleon was proclaimed President of the French Republic, in the National Assembly, by the President, M. Marrast, and took the oath required by the Constitution.At length the firing mutually ceased, but the Russians did not quit their position; it was the French who drew off, and their outposts, during the following night, were alarmed by the Russian cavalry. The Russians had fifteen thousand killed and thirty thousand wounded; the French ten thousand killed and above twenty thousand wounded, and of these latter very few recovered, for they were destitute of almost every hospital necessary, even lint. The Russians made one thousand prisoners and the French about two thousand. The loss of guns on either side was nearly equal. Had the battle been resumed the next day it must have gone hard with the French; but Kutusoff was not willing to make such another sacrifice of his men, and he resumed the policy of De Tolly and made his retreat, continuing it to Moscow in so masterly a manner, that he left neither dead, nor dying, nor wounded, nor any article of his camp equipage behind him, so that the French were at a loss to know where he had really gone. On the 12th they learned, however, that he had retreated to Moscow, and Buonaparte instantly resumed his march. At Krymskoi Murat and Mortier came upon a strong body of Russians, and were repulsed, with the loss of two thousand men. The Russian rear-guard then hastened on again towards Moscow.
The world looked on in astonishment—diplomatists in dread of more secret and momentous compacts, and that not without cause. In the heat of this hastily-formed alliance, it was proposed to marry the young Archduchess, the heiress of the Austrian States, to one of the Infants of Spain—a contract, if carried out, which would probably have overthrown all that had been done at such cost of life and wealth for the establishment of the balance of power. This dangerous project was frustrated by other events, but serious engagements were entered into for compelling England to surrender Gibraltar and Minorca to Spain, and for placing the Pretender on the throne of Great Britain.On the 29th of November Flood moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the more equal representation of the people. This was the scheme of the Volunteer Parliament, and all the delegates to the Convention who were members of the House, or had procured admittance as spectators, appeared in uniform. The tempest that arose is described as something terrific. The orders of the House, the rules of debate, the very rules of ordinary conduct amongst gentlemen, were utterly disregarded. The fury on both sides was uncontrollable. The motion was indignantly rejected by one hundred and fifty-seven votes against seventy-seven; and the House immediately voted a cordial Address to his Majesty, declaring their perfect satisfaction with the blessings enjoyed under his auspicious reign, and the present happy Constitution, and their determination to support him with their lives and fortunes. On the 13th of March Mr. Flood introduced his Bill once more, for equalising the representation of the people in Parliament. It proposed to abolish the right of boroughs altogether to send members, and to place the franchise in the people at large. Sir John Fitzgibbon, the Attorney-General, stoutly opposed it; Grattan dissented from it, and it was thrown out on the motion to commit it.Sheridan marked the opening of the year 1795 by moving, on the 5th of January, for the repeal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He showed that the very grounds on which this suspension had been based had miserably given way on the trials of Tooke, Hardy, and the rest; that the whole amount of arms and money on which the so-called "formidable" conspiracy had rested had been shown to be one pike, nine rusty muskets, and a fund of nine pounds and one bad shilling! He said that the great thing proved was the shameful conspiracy of the Government against the people, and their infamous employment of spies for that end; that eight thousand pounds had been spent on the Crown lawyers, and a hundred witnesses examined, only to expose the guilt of the Ministry. Windham defended the measures of Government, and charged the juries with ignorance and incapacity, for which Erskine severely reprimanded him. But the standing majorities of Pitt were inaccessible to argument, and the continuance of the suspension was voted by a majority of two hundred and thirty-nine against fifty-three. A like result attended the debate in the Lords, where, however, the Dukes of Norfolk and Bedford, the Marquis of Lansdowne, and the Earls of Lauderdale and Guildford strongly opposed the suspension.
Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan;The Crown had resolved to proceed against the queen by a Bill of Pains and Penalties, the introduction of which was preceded by the appointment of a secret committee, to perform functions somewhat analogous to those of a grand jury in finding bills against accused parties. Mr. Brougham earnestly protested against the appointment of a secret committee, which was opposed by Lords Lansdowne and Holland. The course was explained and defended by the Lord Chancellor, who said that the object of Ministers in proposing a secret committee was to prevent injustice towards the accused; that committee would not be permitted to pronounce a decision; it would merely find, like a grand jury, that matter of accusation did or did not exist; such matter, even if found to have existence, could not be the subject of judicial proceeding, strictly so called. The offence of a queen consort, or a Princess Consort of Wales, committing adultery with a person owing allegiance to the British Crown would be that of a principal in high treason, because by statute it was high treason in him; and as accessories in high treason are principals, she would thus be guilty of high treason as a principal; but as the act of a person owing no allegiance to the British Crown could not be high treason in him, so neither could a princess be guilty of that crime merely by being an accessory to such a person's act. Yet although, for this reason, there could be no judicial proceeding in such a case, there might be a legislative one; and the existence or non-existence of grounds for such legislative proceeding was a matter into which it would be fit that a secret committee should inquire. In no case could injustice be done, because that committee's decision would not be final. There might be differences of opinion about the best mode of proceeding, but, for God's sake, said the Lord Chancellor, let it be understood that they all had the same object in view, and that their difference was only about the best mode of procedure.GREAT SEAL OF GEORGE I.
[See larger version]Joseph H. Blake, created Lord Wallscourt.
GEORGE II.ARRIVAL OF DR. BRYDON AT JELALABAD. (See p. 496.)详情
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