But his great measure, at this period, was the blow aimed at the commerce of Britain, and comprised in his celebrated Berlin Decrees, promulgated on the 21st of November. He had subjugated nearly the whole of the European Continent. Spain, Portugal, Italy to the south of France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Prussia to the north, with nearly the whole seaboard of Europe, were under his hand and his armies. He had found that he could not invade England; her fleet had risen triumphant, his own fleet had disappeared like a vapour at Trafalgar. As, therefore, he could not reach her soil, he determined to destroy her by destroying her commerce, on which he imagined not merely her prosperity but her very existence depended. As he was master of nearly all Continental Europe, he supposed it as easy for him to exclude by his fiat the merchandise of Britain, as to put down old dynasties and set up new ones. He had yet to learn that commerce has a conquering power greater than that either of martial genius or of arms.But he went on to Smorgony, and there, the remains of the army having come up, he called a council of war on the 5th of December. He told his generals that he had ordered Ney to reorganise the army at Wilna, and had appointed Murat, King of Naples, generalissimo in his absence. He assumed a tone of great confidence, promised his army good winter-quarters beyond the Niemen, and assured them that he was hasting away to present himself directly at the head of one hundred and twenty thousand men to keep the Austrians and Prussians firm to their alliance, and thus to make those he left behind more secure than he could do by staying with them. He then passed through the crowd of his officers, who were drawn up in an avenue as he passed, bidding them adieu with forced and melancholy smiles. He then stepped into a sledge with Caulaincourt and shut themselves in, and Duroc and Lobau followed in another sledge; and thus the man who entered Russia with nearly half a million of men, stole away, leaving the miserable remnant of his vast army to the elements and the Russians!
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At the ensuing assizes in August, those rioters who had been apprehended were tried; some at Worcester for participating in the outrages, but there only one prisoner was committed. Of those tried at Warwick, on the 25th of the month, four received sentence of death. Of these five rioters condemned, only three actually suffered, while two received his Majesty's gracious pardon. The victims of this riot thought the penalty much too trivial! Such, indeed, was the perverted state of public feeling in and around Birmingham, that the sufferers were regarded as men seeking the lives of innocent men who had only shown their loyalty to Church and King. They were declared to be no better than selfish murderers. Whilst they attended at the assizes, their lives scarcely seemed safe. They were publicly abused in the streets, or menaced and cursed wherever they appeared. In the very assize-hall there were persons who, on seeing Priestley, cried, "Damn him! there is the cause of all the mischief!" He was followed in the streets, especially by an attorney, who cursed him furiously, and wished he had been burned with his house and books. The favourite toast of the Church-and-King party was, "May every Revolutionary dinner be followed by a hot supper!" The damages awarded to the sufferers were, in most cases, ludicrously inadequate. Hutton was a heavy loser; Priestley received three thousand and ninety-eight pounds, but he complained that this was two thousand pounds short of the extent of his loss. But this deficiency was made up by sympathising friends.BEAUS AND BELLES OF THE REGENCY PERIOD.
[See larger version]On the 15th the British squadron brought in the Emigrant troops from the Elbe, under the young and gallant Count de Sombreuil; but they amounted only to eleven thousand men. Puisaye now ordered the Count de Vauban to advance against Hoche with twelve thousand Chouans, and, whilst they attacked on the right, he himself attacked his lines in front. After some desperate fighting they were driven back, and lost most of their cannon in the deep sand of the isthmus. Their misfortunes were completed, on the 20th, by the garrison of the fort of Penthièvre going over to the enemy, surrendering the fort to them, and helping to massacre such of their officers and comrades as refused to follow their example. The English admiral exerted himself to receive the remainder of the troops who remained true on board his ships; but the storminess of the weather and the impatience of the fugitives rendered this a most difficult task. About fourteen thousand regulars and two thousand four hundred Chouans were got on board; but Sombreuil, exposed to the murderous fire from the enemy whilst waiting on the beach, surrendered on promise of life. No sooner, however, were they in the hands of the Republicans than all the officers and gentlemen were led out and shot; and the common men enrolled in Hoche's regiments.Connaught 1,418,859 1,465,643 745,652 526,048
Clive, a young clerk of the Company's, at Madras, had deserted his desk, taken a commission, and, as early as 1748, had distinguished himself by baffling the French commanders Dupleix and Bussy, at Pondicherry. In 1751 he had taken Arcot from Chunda Sahib, the Viceroy of the Carnatic, and, aided by the Mahrattas, defeated Rajah Sahib, the son of Chunda, in a splendid victory at Arnee. In 1752 he raised the siege of Trichinopoly, where the Nabob of Arcot was besieged by the French. In 1755, landing at Bombay from England, he, with Admiral Watson, made an expedition to Gheriah, the stronghold of the celebrated pirate Angria, demolished it, and seized the spoils, valued at one hundred and twenty thousand pounds. In 1757 he took Calcutta from the Nabob Surajah Dowlah, the ally of the French, who had captured it, and shut up the English prisoners in the memorable Black Hole, where, in one night (June 20, 1756), out of one hundred and forty-six persons, one hundred and twenty-three perished. Clive also captured the city of Hooghly, defeated Dowlah, and compelled him to cede the town and vicinity. He then drove the French from their factory of Chandernagore; marched forward on Moorshedabad, defeated Surajah Dowlah in a battle extraordinary for the rout of an immense army by a mere handful of men, at Plassey (1757); deposed him, and seated on his throne Meer Jaffier. From this day dates British supremacy in India.Louis was succeeded for the time by the Duke of Orleans as Regent, who had other views, and was surrounded by other influences than the old king. He had secured the Regency in opposition to Madame Maintenon and the royal bastards. He changed all the ministers, and was not inclined to risk his government by making enemies of the English abroad, having sufficient of these at home. He had been for some time cultivating the good offices of the present English Government, which had offered to assist him with troops and money, if necessary, to secure the Regency. He had seen a good deal of the new Secretary of State, Stanhope, in Spain, and still maintained a correspondence with him. Lord Stair, the British Ambassador, therefore, was placed in a more influential position with the Regent, and the Pretender and his ministers were but coldly looked on.
RESCUE OF THE BRITISH PRISONERS FROM AKBAR KHAN. (See p. 503.)Meanwhile Buonaparte had taken the route for Troyes and Dijon, ignorant of the rapid advance of the Allies on Paris. Never in any of his campaigns does he seem to have been so ill-informed of the movements of the enemy as at this most momentous juncture. On the 26th of March he was attacked by the flying squadrons of Winzengerode. At Doulaincourt he was startled by learning that Paris was on the point of being assaulted by the Allies. From this place he dispatched one courier after another to command the forces in Paris to hold out, and, ordering the army to march with all speed, he himself entered his carriage and was driven in all haste to Fontainebleau. Thence he was driving to Paris, when, at an inn, called La Cour de France, he met General Belliard with his cavalry, who gave him the confounding information that the Empress, King Joseph, and the Court had fled; that the Allies were in Paris, and a convention was signed. At this news he began to rave like an insane man, blamed Marmont and Mortier—as, during his defeats, he had often bitterly upbraided his generals,—blamed Joseph, and everybody but himself, and insisted on going to Paris, and seeing the Allies himself, but was at length persuaded to return to Fontainebleau, and ordered his army to assemble, as it came up on the heights of Longjumeau, behind the little river Essonnes.
The Swiss acted a more cautious part. Fearful that Napoleon might yet, by some other wonderful chance, regain his power, they summoned a Diet, passed an order for the neutrality of the cantons, and issued an order calling on the Allies to respect this, and not attempt to march troops through their country. This would have suited Buonaparte extremely well, as it would have closed his eastern frontiers to the Austrians, who were marching that way under Count Bubna; but the Austrians informed the Swiss authorities that they should certainly march through; and the Allied sovereigns dispatched Count Capo d'Istria and Herr Lebzeltern to Zurich to state that the power of France over Switzerland was at an end, and to desire them to send deputies to meet them, and to establish an independent government for Switzerland. Thus assured, the greater part of the cantons sent their deputies to Zurich, who proclaimed the restoration of national independence, and gave free consent for the armies of the Allies to march through the country.THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO. (See p. 99.)
The success of the Scottish courts in sentencing Reformers encouraged the Ministers to try the experiment in England; but there it did not succeed so well. First, one Eaton, a bookseller, of Bishopgate, was indicted for selling a seditious libel, called "Politics for the People; or, Hog's-wash." On the 2nd of April, Thomas Walker, a merchant of Manchester—was, with six others, indicted at the Lancaster assizes; but Eaton, in London, and these Manchester men, were acquitted. Rather irritated than discouraged by these failures, Pitt and Dundas made a swoop at the leaders of the Corresponding Society, and the Society for Constitutional Information in London; and, in the month of May, Horne Tooke, John Thelwall—a celebrated political lecturer—Thomas Hardy, Daniel Adams, and the Rev. Jeremiah Joyce—private secretary to the Earl of Stanhope, and tutor to his son, Lord Mahon—were arrested and committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason. No sooner was this done, than, on the 12th of May, Dundas announced to the House of Commons that, in consequence of the Government having been informed of seditious practices being carried on by the above-named societies, they had seized their papers, and he now demanded that a committee of secrecy should be appointed to examine these papers. This was agreed to; and on the 16th Pitt brought up the report of this committee, which was so absurd in its results that nothing but the most blind political desperation could have induced the Government to make it known. The committee found nothing amongst these papers but the reports of the societies since the year 1791, which had been annually published and made known to every one. Yet on this miserable evidence Pitt called for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and it was accordingly granted, Burke—who now seems to have grown quite politically mad by dwelling on the horrors of the French Revolution—believing it the only measure to insure the safety of the country. Windham and others asserted that the mere suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was hardly sufficient: there required yet more stringent measures. Similar language was held in the Lords, but did not pass without some severe comments from the Duke of Bedford, and the Lords Stanhope, Lauderdale, and Albemarle, who declared that Ministers, instead of suppressing, were creating a veritable reign of terror. The Bill was, notwithstanding, readily passed; and on the 13th of June an Address was carried to his Majesty, expressing the determination of their lordships to punish the men who had been concerned in the so-called conspiracy. Fox and Lambton condemned this course energetically in the Commons, declaring that, if there were any conspiracy, the ordinary laws and tribunals were amply sufficient for their punishment. Fox moved that all that part of the Address which expressed a conviction of the existence of a conspiracy should be struck out, but it was carried entire; and such was the alarm of the country at the reverses of the Allies on the Continent and the successes of France, that far more violent measures would have been readily assented to.LORD CASTLEREAGH.CHAPTER XIII. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA.
The next person to attempt the impossible in the vain endeavour to keep the vessel of the old French monarchy afloat with all its leaks and rottenness, was the Archbishop of Toulouse, Loménie de Brienne. He had vigorously opposed Calonne; but there was no way of raising the necessary revenue but to adopt some of the very proposals of Calonne, and tax the privileged classes, or to attempt to draw something still from the exhausted people. As the less difficult experiment of the two, he was compelled to cast his eyes towards the property of the nobles and the Church; but he found the nobles and the clergy as ready to sacrifice him as they had been to sacrifice Calonne. When one or two of the more pliant or more enlightened members of those classes ventured to remark on the vast amount of untaxed property, and particularly of tithes, there was an actual tempest of fury raised. Tithes were declared to be the voluntary offerings of the piety of the faithful, and therefore not to be touched. As further loans were out of the question, some one ventured to assert that the only means of solving the difficulty was to assemble the States General. "You would convoke the States General?" said the Minister in consternation. "Yes," replied Lafayette, who was bent on revolutionising France, as he had helped to revolutionise America—"yes, and something more than that!" These words were taken down as most exceptionable and dangerous. All that the Assembly of Notables could be brought to do was to confirm the abolition of the corvée, and to pass a stamp act. They would not move a step further, and they were dismissed by the king on the 25th of May, 1787. The Parliament, or Chief Court of Justice, adopted a similar course, and it also was dismissed. The king then promulgated a new constitution, but it fell hopelessly to the ground.It was the lot of the Earl of Clarendon to govern Ireland during the most trying period of her history. It was a trying crisis, affording great opportunity to a statesman of pre-eminent ability to lay broad and solid foundations for a better state of society. But though a painstaking and active administrator, Clarendon was not a great statesman; he had no originating power to organise a new state of things, nor prescience to forecast the future; but he left no means untried by which he could overcome present difficulties. The population had been thinned with fearful rapidity; large numbers of the gentry had been reduced from affluence to destitution; property was changing hands on all sides; the Government had immense funds placed at its command; a vast machinery and an enormous host of officials operating upon society when it was in the most plastic and unresisting state, a high order of statesmanship could have made an impress upon it that would have endured for ages. But Lord Clarendon's government, instead of putting forth the power that should have guided those mighty resources to beneficial and permanent results, allowed them to be agencies of deterioration. The truth is, he was frightened by a contemptible organisation, existing openly under his eyes in Dublin, for the avowed purpose of exciting rebellion and effecting revolution. The conspirators might have been promptly dealt with and extinguished in a summary way; but instead of dealing with it in this manner, Clarendon watched over its growth, and allowed it to come to maturity, and then brought to bear upon it a great military force and all the imposing machinery of State trials; the only good result of which was a display of forensic eloquence worthy of the days of Flood and Grattan.详情
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