It was deemed necessary, before the end of the Session, which would close the term of Parliament, to renew the Alien Act. It had been renewed in 1814, and again in 1816, each time for two years. On the last occasion it had been vehemently opposed, and as determined an opposition was now manifested against its renewal. From the 5th of May to the 29th the fight was continued, every opportunity and advantage which the forms of Parliament afforded being resorted to to delay and defeat it; but on the 29th it passed the Commons by ninety-four votes against twenty-nine. It was introduced into the Lords on the 1st of June by Lord Sidmouth. But it had been discovered that, by an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1685, all foreigners holding shares in the Bank of Scotland to a certain amount became thereby naturalised; and, by the Act of union, all subjects of Scotland became naturalised subjects of England. A clause, therefore, was introduced by the Lords to obviate this, and passed; but on the Bill being sent down to the Commons it was struck out; and Ministers were compelled to allow the Bill without this clause to pass, and to introduce their separate Bill, which was passed on the 9th of June.On the subject of the Free Trade measures generally, the Speech continued:—Yet, during this winter, while Massena's army was in a constant state of semi-starvation, badly clothed and badly lodged, and thus wasting away by sickness and desertion, that of Wellington increased in numbers, in physical condition, and in discipline. Whilst Massena's army, originally seventy-one thousand men, was ere long reduced by the battle of Busaco and the miserable quarters in the wet country near Torres Vedras to fifty-five thousand, the forces of Wellington had been augmented, by reinforcements from England, and by the addition of Portuguese and Spanish troops, to fifty-eight thousand. When Massena retreated to Santarem, Wellington followed him to Cartaxo, and there fixed his headquarters, and ordered General Hill to post his division opposite to Santarem, so as to check the enemy's foraging parties in that direction. At the same time, Colonel Trant, who had surprised the French rear as Massena's army was leaving Coimbra on his march after Wellington to Torres Vedras, and had secured the sick and wounded in the hospitals there to the amount of five thousand men, and who retained possession of Coimbra, now joined Sir Robert Wilson and Colonel Millar, who commanded the Portuguese militia, and their united force appeared in Massena's rear, cutting off his communication with the north and also with the Spanish frontier.
[See larger version]The next day, the 8th of July, Louis a second time entered his capital, escorted by the National Guard. Fouché announced to the two Chambers that their functions were at an end; but they still declared themselves sitting in permanence. But General Desolles, commander of the National Guard, proceeded to close the Chambers. He found both of them deserted, and locked the doors, and put his seal upon them, setting also a guard. Soon afterwards the members of the Chamber of Representatives, who had only adjourned, began to arrive, but were received with jeers by the Guards, which were eagerly joined in by the populace, and they retreated in confusion. Fouché, in reward for his politic private correspondence with the Allies, was reinstated in his old office of Minister of Police, and the government of Louis recommenced in great quiet—affording the French much more real liberty than they had enjoyed either under Buonaparte or the factions of the Revolution. And thus ended the celebrated Hundred Days from the landing of Napoleon to his second exclusion.
Besides succeeding to the government of a country whose chief province was thus exhausted, the finances of the Company were equally drained, both in Calcutta and at home, and the Directors were continually crying to Hastings for money, money, money! As one means of raising this money, they sent him a secret order to break one of their most solemn engagements with the native princes. When they bribed Meer Jaffier to depose his master, by offering to set him in his seat, and received in return the enormous sums mentioned for this elevation, they settled on Meer Jaffier and his descendants an annual income of thirty-two lacs of rupees, or three hundred and sixty thousand pounds. But Meer Jaffier was now dead, and his eldest son died during the famine. The second son was made Nabob, a weak youth in a weak government, and as the Company saw that he could not help himself, they ordered Hastings to reduce the income to one-half. This was easily done; but this was not enough, disgraceful as it was. Mohammed Reza Khan, who had been appointed by the Company the Nabob's Minister, on the ground that he was not only a very able but a very honest man, they ordered to be arrested on pretended pleas of maladministration. He and all his family and partisans must be secured, but not in an open and abrupt way, which might alarm the province; they were to be inveigled down from Moorshedabad to Calcutta, on pretence of affairs of government, and there detained. Nuncomar, the Hindoo, who had been displaced, in order to set up Mohammed, who was a Mussulman, and who had been removed on the ground of being one of the most consummate rogues in India, was to be employed as evidence against Mohammed. Hastings fully carried out the orders of the secret committee of the India House. He had Mohammed seized in his bed, at midnight, by a battalion of sepoys; Shitab Roy, the Minister of Bahar, who acted under Mohammed at Patna, was also secured; and these two great officers and their chief agents were sent down to Calcutta under guard, and there put into what Hastings called "an easy confinement." In this confinement they lay many months, all which time Nuncomar was in full activity preparing the charges against them. Shitab Roy, like Mohammed, stood high in the estimation of his countrymen of both faiths; he had fought on the British side with signal bravery, and appears to have been a man of high honour and feeling. But these things weighed for nothing with Hastings or his masters in Leadenhall Street. He hoped to draw large sums of money from these men; but he was disappointed. Though he himself arranged the court that tried them, and brought up upwards of a hundred witnesses against them, no malpractice whatever could be proved against them, and they were acquitted. They were therefore honourably restored, the reader will think. By no means. Such were not the intentions of the Company or of Hastings. Whilst Mohammed and Shitab Roy had been in prison, Hastings had been up at Moorshedabad, had abolished the office of Minister in both Patna and Moorshedabad, removed all the government business to Calcutta, cut down the income of the young Nabob, Muharek-al-Dowla, to one half, according to his instructions, and reduced the Nabob himself to a mere puppet. He had transferred the whole government to Calcutta, with all the courts of justice, so that, writes Hastings, "the authority of the Company is fixed in this country without any possibility of competition, and beyond the power of any but themselves to shake it."As Sir Francis Burdett had commenced suits, not only against the Speaker, but also against the Sergeant-at-arms, and against Lord Moira, the Governor of the Tower, for his arrest and detention, the House of Commons appointed a select committee to inquire into the proper mode of defence, and it was determined that the Sergeant-at-arms should appear and plead to these indictments, and that the Attorney-General should be directed to defend them. Though these trials did not take place till May and June of the following year, we may here note the result, to close the subject. In the first two, verdicts were obtained favourable to the Government, and in the third the jury, not agreeing, were dismissed. These trials came off before Lord Ellenborough, one of the most steady supporters of Government that ever sat on the judicial bench; and the results probably drew their complexion from this cause, for the feeling of the public continued to be exhibited strongly in favour of the prisoner of the House of Commons. He continued to receive deputations from various parts of the country, expressive of the sympathy of public bodies, and of the necessity of a searching reform of Parliament. Whatever irregularity might have marked the proceedings of the radical baronet, there is no question that the discussions to which they led all over the country produced a decided progress in the cause of a renovation of our dilapidated representation.Great meetings were held in various towns and counties to condemn the whole proceedings, and addresses were sent up and presented to the Prince Regent which were, in fact, censures of his own conduct, and were not, therefore, received in a becoming manner. To one from the Common Council of London he replied that he received it with regret, and that those who drew it up knew little or nothing of the circumstances which preceded or attended the Manchester meeting. The fact was, that they knew these a great deal better than he did. Similar addresses were sent up from Westminster, York, Norwich, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and many other towns. A meeting of the county of York was calculated at twenty thousand persons, and amongst them was the Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding, who had also signed the requisition to the high-sheriff. For this conduct he was summarily dismissed from his lord-lieutenancy. Scarcely less offence was given by the Duke of Hamilton, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Lanark, who sent a subscription of fifty pounds to the committee for the relief of the Manchester sufferers, expressing, at the same time, his severe censure of the outrage committed on the 16th of August. Of course, the Ministerial party in town and country did all in their power to counteract this strong and general expression of disapprobation. In Scotland and the North of England the squirearchy got up associations for raising troops of yeomanry, as in direct approval of the savage conduct of the Manchester Yeomanry. In the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of outrage the conflict of opinion between the two parties ran high. Numbers of the Manchester Yeomanry were indicted for cutting and maiming in St. Peter's Field, with intent to kill; but these bills were thrown out by the grand jury at the Lancaster assizes. An inquest at Oldham, on the body of one of the men killed, was also the scene of a fierce and regular conflict for nine days, that was put an end to by an order from the Court of King's Bench. But even men who were accustomed to support Ministers generally were startled by their conduct on this occasion. Mr. Ward, afterwards Lord Dudley and Ward, in one of his letters written from Paris at the time, but not published till a later date, says:—"What do reasonable people think of the Manchester business? I am inclined to suspect that the magistrates were in too great a hurry, and that their loyal zeal, and the nova gloria in armis tempted the yeomanry to too liberal a use of the sabre—in short, that their conduct has given some colour of reason to the complaints and anger of the Jacobins. The approbation of Government was probably given as the supposed price of support from the Tories in that part of the country."
BOSTON "BOYS" DISGUISED AS INDIANS THROWING THE TEA CHESTS INTO THE HARBOUR. (See p. 210.)No small curiosity was experienced to see the man that had maintained a defence, obstinate and protracted beyond any related in the annals of modern war. Gorgeously attired in silks and splendid arms, he rode a magnificent Arab steed, with a rich saddle-cloth of scarlet. He but little exceeded the middle size, was powerfully but elegantly formed; his keen, dark, piercing, restless eyes surveyed at a glance everything around. He neither wore the face of defiance nor dejection; but moved along under the general gaze as one conscious of having bravely done his duty.
The Emperor of Russia was now fast advancing towards the Vistula in support of Prussia, and the contest appeared likely to take place in Poland; and Buonaparte, with his usual hollow adroitness, held out delusive hopes to the Poles of his restoring their unity and independence, in order to call them into universal action against Russia and Prussia. Amongst the most distinguished of these was the General Dombrowski. Buonaparte sent for him to headquarters, and employed him to raise regiments of his countrymen. By such lures he obtained a considerable number of such men; but his grand scheme was to obtain the presence and the sanction of the great and popular patriot, Kosciusko. If he were to appear and call to arms, all Poland would believe in its destinies, and rise. Kosciusko was living in honourable poverty near Fontainebleau, and Buonaparte had made many attempts to engage him in his service, as he had done Dombrowski; but Kosciusko saw too thoroughly the character of the man. He pleaded the state of his wounds and of his health as incapacitating him for the fatigues of war, but he privately made no secret amongst his friends that he regarded Napoleon as a mere selfish conqueror, who would only use Poland as a tool to enslave other nations, never to enfranchise herself. In vain did Buonaparte now urge him to come forward and fight for his country; he steadfastly declined; but Buonaparte resolved to have the influence of his name, by means true or false. He sent him a proclamation to the Poles, requesting him to put his name to it. The patriot refused, at the risk of being driven from France; but Buonaparte, without ceremony, fixed his name to the address, and published it on the 1st of November. It declared that Kosciusko was coming himself to lead his countrymen to freedom. The effect was instantaneous; all Poland was on fire, and, before the cheat could be discovered, Dombrowski had organised four good Polish regiments.THE ATTACK ON THE "VILLE DE PARIS." (See p. 292.)
[See larger version]De Tolly halted at Rudnia, half way between Vitebsk and Smolensk, and there was considerable man?uvring between the rival generals to surprise one another, but this resulted in nothing but the loss of several days. On the 14th of August they arrived at the Dnieper, and Murat dashed across and attacked the rear-guard of the Russians on the opposite bank. Newerowskoi, the general in command, stood his ground well, and then made a good retreat to Smolensk. His retreat was reckoned an advantage on the part of the French; and as it happened to be Buonaparte's birthday, and the anniversary of the canonisation of St. Napoleon—whom Buonaparte had had made a saint,—a hundred guns were fired in commemoration. On the 15th Buonaparte pressed after the Russians towards Smolensk. The united Russian army now amounted to one hundred and eighty thousand men, and Buonaparte had already lost one-third of his active force. Barclay de Tolly, therefore, appeared here to make a stand, much to the delight of Buonaparte, who cried out, exultingly, "Now I have them!"
All these causes of unpopularity were rendered more effective by the powerful political party which now assailed him. Pitt led the way, and the Dukes of Devonshire, Bolton, and Portland, the Marquis of Rockingham, the Earls of Temple, Cornwallis, Albemarle, Ashburton, Hardwicke, and Bessborough, Lords Spencer, Sondes, Grantham, and Villiers, James Grenville, Sir George Savile, and other Whigs, presented a formidable phalanx of opponents in both Houses. The measures, too, which he was obliged to bring forward, were certain to augment his discredit. The funded debt had grown to upwards of a hundred millions, and there were three millions and a half besides unfunded. It was necessary to raise a new loan, and, moreover, to raise a new tax, for the income was unequal to the expenditure, even in time of peace. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dashwood, was not a man likely to make these new burdens go down easily. He issued the new loan to the public with so little advertisement, that the friends of the Ministers secured the greater part of the shares, and they soon rose to eleven per cent. premium, by which they were enabled, at the public cost, to make heavy sums. The tax which Sir Francis proposed was one on cider and perry, besides some additional duties on wines. There was at once an outcry in the City against this tax, led on by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Beckford, a great friend of Pitt. The cry was only too sure to find a loud echo from the cider-growing districts. Bute and his Chancellor were quickly compelled to reduce the proposed impost from ten shillings a hogshead, to be paid by the buyer, that is, by the merchant, to four shillings, to be paid by the grower. The tax thus cut down was calculated to produce only seventy-five thousand pounds—a sum for which it was scarcely worth while to incur so much odium.
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