FIGHTING AT THE BARRICADES IN PARIS. (See p. 551.)With "The Battle of the Books" appeared "The Tale of a Tub;" and though these were anonymous, it was soon well known that they were from the hand of Jonathan Swift, a friend of Harley and Bolingbroke, who now assumed a position in the public eye destined to be rendered yet more remarkable. Swift was of English parentage, but born in Dublin in 1667. He was educated at Kilkenny and the University of Dublin. In early life he became private secretary to Sir William Temple, and at this time he wrote his "Tale of a Tub," which cut off all his hopes of a bishopric. He edited a selection from the papers of Temple, and then accompanied Lord Berkeley to Ireland as chaplain. Disappointed of the preferment which he had hoped for, he went over from the Whigs to the Tories in 1710, and thenceforward was an unscrupulous adherent of Harley and Bolingbroke, defending all their measures in the "Examiner," and pouring out his vengeance on all opponents with unflinching truculence. In his political character Swift has been styled the great blackguard of the age, and certainly with too much truth. In spite of rare intellectual power, wit, and sarcasm, no principle or tenderness of feeling restrained him in his attacks on his enemies. If Harley and Bolingbroke are guilty of inflicting the disgraceful peace of Utrecht on the nation, simply to avenge themselves on the Whigs, no man so thoroughly abetted them in that business as Swift. His "Conduct of the Allies," his "Public Spirit of the Whigs," and other political tracts and articles, bear testimony to his unscrupulous political rancour. His "Drapier's Letters," and his treatment of Wood in the affair of the Irish halfpence, show that no means, however base and false, came amiss to him in serving the objects of his ambition. The great work of Swift is his "Gulliver's Travels," a work characterised by a massive intellect and a fertile invention, but defiled by the grossness that was inseparable from his mind, and that equally pollutes his poems, in which there is much wit and humour, but not a trace of pathos or tenderness. There is none of that divine glow of love and human sympathy, mingled with the worship of beauty and truth, which courts our affections in the works of the greatest masters. When we are told that Swift's grossness is merely the grossness of the time, we point to "Robinson Crusoe," to "The Seasons" and "Castle of Indolence" of Thomson, and to the works of Addison, for the most admirable contrast. Swift—who died in the famous year of the '45—was one of the most vigorous writers of the age, but he was one of the most unamiable. He was the Mephistopheles of the eighteenth century.Robespierre believed that there was a majority of the Republicans who thought they had gone too far in abolishing the Deity and setting up the Goddess of Reason. He declared that the people needed festivals, and immediately it was decreed that every decade should be celebrated as a festival. A festival in honour of the Supreme Being inaugurated this series of special holidays, and it was to be followed by festivals to the Human Race, the French People, the Love of Country, Agriculture, Necessity, Misfortune, Posterity, and various other qualities and sentiments, each having one decade in the year. The first festival to the Supreme Being was fixed for the 20th of Prairial, or 8th of June. The painter David was commissioned to prepare the scenes and ceremonies of the festival, which was enacted in the gardens of the Tuileries. Robespierre, in his sky-blue coat and most showy waistcoat, and carrying in his hand a grand bouquet of flowers mixed with ears of wheat, led the procession and officiated as high priest. But though Robespierre had proclaimed the reign of the Supreme Being, he had not the least intention that it should on that account be any the more a reign of mercy. In his speech at the festival of the Supreme Being, he declared that the Republic must be still further purged—that they must remain inexorable. On this point he and all his colleagues were agreed, but they were agreed in nothing else. They immediately broke into fresh schisms, as would necessarily be the case with such men, who must go on exterminating one another to the last. Robespierre, St. Just, and Couthon still hung together; but Barrère, Collot d'Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, and most of the other members of the Committees of Public Welfare and Public Safety, were in the very act of rushing into opposition, and beginning a struggle with the triumvirate—Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just—to the death. St. Just advised Robespierre to anticipate them, but he, relying on his authority with the Convention, remained inactive. It was a fatal mistake. Barrère and his faction determined to strike a decisive blow at Robespierre; and Tallien volunteered to commence the attack on Robespierre in the Convention. To Robespierre's utter astonishment, his friends were outnumbered, and decrees were immediately passed for the arrest of Couthon, Lebas, St. Just, Robespierre and his brother. He escaped and fled to the Commune. For a moment it seemed as if a revolution would have restored him to power. But the Parisians were weary of their tyrant, and on the following day Robespierre with twenty members of the Commune perished on the scaffold (July 28th, 1794).
It was impossible to defend a system like this, and therefore the Conservatives offered no opposition to the principle of the Bill; their aim being to save as much as possible of the old system, which had rendered much more service to them than to the Whigs, and presented a number of barriers to the advance of democratic power. Sir Robert Peel, with Lord Stanley and Sir James Graham, who were now the ablest antagonists their former Whig colleagues had to encounter, pleaded powerfully for the delinquent boroughs; not for absolute acquittal, but for mitigation of punishment. They would not go the length of asserting that freemen were altogether immaculate; for of what body of electors could that be predicated? The question was not whether it was right to admit these men for the first time, but whether they should be deprived of the rights that they and their ancestors had enjoyed for centuries. The Reformers were the first to propose covertly and insidiously, a great and important change in the Reform Bill. What did they mean by first bringing in a Bill which was based on perpetuating the rights of freemen and recognising them as an integral part of the Constitution, and now, within three years, bringing in another intending to deprive them of their rights? Was not this a precedent for breaking up the final settlement, which might be followed on future occasions? Might not another Ministry deem it for their advantage to extinguish the ￡10 electors? And where was this to stop? Could it stop while a fragment remained of the Reform Act—the boasted second Charter of the people of England? If there were guilty parties, let them be punished. Let convicted boroughs be disfranchised; but let not whole bodies of electors be annihilated because some of their members may have been corrupt. Were the ￡10 voters perfectly immaculate? and, if not, on what principle were they spared, while the freemen were condemned? The Whigs had created the Reform Act; but now—infatuated men!—they were about to lay murderous hands upon their own offspring.
About four months passed happily away, when another event occurred which was very near furnishing a startling illustration of the truth that there is no certain tenure of human happiness. On the night of Wednesday, the 10th of June, London was agitated by a report of an attempt upon the life of the Queen. Next day an investigation took place at the Home Office, from which the public and the reporters of the daily press were excluded. The following are the facts:—At a quarter past six on Wednesday evening, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Albert, left Buckingham Palace, in a very low, open phaeton, to take her customary drive in Hyde Park before dinner. The carriage had proceeded a short distance up the road when a young man, who had been standing with his back to the Green Park fence, advanced to within a few yards of the carriage, and deliberately fired at the Queen. The postilions paused for an instant. The Prince ordered them, in a loud voice, to drive on. "I have got another!" exclaimed the assassin, who discharged a second pistol, aimed at the carriage, which also proved harmless. The Queen and the Prince went as far as Hyde Park Corner, and then turned to the Duchess of Kent's mansion, in Belgrave Square. Meanwhile, the assassin remained near the spot, leaning against the park fence, with the weapons in his hand. Several persons laid hold of him, and he was conveyed by two policemen to the Gardener's Lane station-house. After staying a short time with the Duchess of Kent, in Belgrave Square, the Queen and her husband proceeded to Hyde Park, where an immense concourse of persons, of all ranks and both sexes, had congregated. The reception of the royal pair was so enthusiastic as almost to overpower the self-possession of the Queen. They soon returned to Buckingham Palace, attended by a vast number of the nobility and gentry, in carriages and on horseback. A multitude of persons collected at the entrance to the palace, and vehemently cheered the Queen, who, though pale and agitated, repeatedly bowed and smiled in return.
After accepting an offer from the Irish militia serving in England during the war, and agreeing that ten thousand should be the number, and that this number should be reinstated in Ireland by a new levy, the House adjourned on the 29th of March for the Easter recess. But during the recess Pitt was planning fresh measures of opposition, and in fact driving out Addington and taking his place. On the re-assembling of the House on the 23rd of April, Fox moved that it should resolve itself into a committee of inquiry regarding the measures of defence necessary for the country. Addington opposed the inquiry as unnecessary, but Pitt declared that it was never more necessary; that though there were a hundred and eighty-four thousand troops of the line, and four hundred thousand volunteers, the measures of Government were not of that vigorous character which the times demanded. Yorke, the Secretary-at-War, and Spencer Perceval defended Addington, who asserted that great exertions had been made to bring up members to vote for Mr. Pitt's views, and that he did not see how the present Ministry could remain in office if this measure was carried against them. It was not carried; but Addington's majority had sunk to only fifty-two, the numbers being for Fox's motion two hundred and four, against it two hundred and fifty-six. Wilberforce, who had much respect for Addington, as he had a great admiration for Pitt, exerted himself to reconcile the two and to get Pitt into the Cabinet with Addington. He consulted with Lord Chancellor Eldon on the plan for bringing in Pitt to join Addington.[See larger version]
WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE. (See p. 235.)ON BOARD AN EMIGRANT SHIP AT THE TIME OF THE IRISH FAMINE. (See p. 542.)
Such a calamity could not but be attended with the most mischievous consequences. Chatham was obliged to leave town, and seek retirement and a purer air at North End, near Hampstead. Townshend, who in a few days would have ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, still retained office, and now showed more freely the wild and erratic character of his genius. He had lost half a million from the revenue by the reduction of the land-tax, and he pledged himself to the House to recover it from the Americans. He declared that he fully agreed with George Grenville, even in the principle of the Stamp Act, and ridiculed the distinction set up by Chatham, and admitted by Franklin, of the difference between internal and external taxation. This was language calculated to fire the already heated minds of the colonists, who, the more they reflected on Chatham's lofty language on the supreme authority of the mother country in the declaratory Act, the more firmly they repudiated it.
At the approach of the new French levies, Eugene Beauharnais retreated from Magdeburg, and joined them on the Saale. The Allies and Napoleon now lay face to face, the Allies cutting off his advance towards Leipsic and thence to Dresden. He resolved to make a determined attack upon them, and demoralise them by a blow which should make him master of Leipsic, Dresden, and Berlin at once, and give its impression to the whole campaign. In the skirmishes which took place previous to the general engagement at Weissenfels and Poserna on the 29th of April and the 1st of May, Buonaparte gained some advantages; but in the latter action his old commander of the Imperial Guard, Marshal Bessières, was killed. His death was deeply lamented, both by his men, who had served under him from the very commencement of Buonaparte's career, and by Buonaparte himself.
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.No sooner was this motion made than Spencer Perceval rose to oppose it. Sidmouth worked upon the king's feelings by sending in his resignation, and the Duke of Portland had offered to form a Ministry in accordance with the king's feelings. The Bill was, notwithstanding, brought in, read a first time, and the second reading fixed for the 12th of March. But now it was found that the king, who had previously received the Ministerial proposal without any comment, seeing his way clear with another Ministry, refused even his qualified consent to the prosecution of the measure. The Ministers postponed the second reading to the 18th, promising an after-statement of their reasons. But their reasons were already well known in both Houses of Parliament through the private communications of the embryo Cabinet. On the 25th of March there were motions made in both Houses for an adjournment: this was to allow the new Ministry to be announced in the interval. In the Lords, Earl Grenville seized the opportunity to make some observations in defence of the conduct of his Cabinet during its possession of office. He said they had entered it with the determination to carry these important measures, if possible: the Sinking Fund, the abolition of the Slave Trade, and the relief of the Catholics. He was happy to say that they had carried two of them; and though they had found the resistance in a certain quarter too strong for them to carry the third, they conceived that never did the circumstances of the times point out more clearly the sound policy of granting it. France had wonderfully extended her power on the Continent; peace between her and the nations she had subdued would probably lead Buonaparte to concentrate his warlike efforts on this country. What so wise, then, as to have Ireland attached to us by benefits? With these views, the king, he said, had been induced to allow Ministers to make communications to the Catholics of Ireland through the Lord-Lieutenant, which he had seemed to approve; yet when these communications as to the intended concessions had been made, his Majesty had been induced to retract his assent to them. Ministers had then endeavoured to modify the Bill so as to meet his Majesty's views; but, not succeeding, they had dropped the Bill altogether, reserving only, in self-justification, a right to make a minute on the private proceedings of the Cabinet, expressing their liberty to bring this subject again to the royal notice, as circumstances might seem to require; but now his Majesty had called upon them to enter into a written obligation never again to introduce the subject to his notice, or to bring forward a measure of that kind. This, he said, was more than could be expected of any Ministers of any independence whatever. The point was, of course, of some constitutional importance, but there was much truth in Sheridan's remark: "I have often heard of people knocking out their brains against a wall, but never before knew of anyone building a wall expressly for the purpose."详情
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