Scarcely had Lord Cornwallis commenced his march into the interior of North Carolina, and scarcely had he dispatched Major Ferguson with a corps of American Royalists, to advance through the country towards the frontiers of Virginia, when this corps received another proof of the wisdom of keeping out of the woods and hills. Major Ferguson was attacked near the pass of King's Mountain by swarms of riflemen, many of them mounted, from Virginia, Kentucky, and the Alleghanies who shot down and exterminated his followers almost to a man, the major falling amongst the rest. The victors gave a prompt proof of their apt adoption of Lord Cornwallis's teaching, by hanging ten of the prisoners. Lord Cornwallis was harassed by similar hordes of flying and creeping skirmishers. Hearing the news of the slaughter of Ferguson's force, he returned to Charlotte, retracing his march through most rainy weather, terrible roads, and almost totally destitute of provisions. Cornwallis fell ill on the road, and Lord Rawdon had to assume the command. It was not till the 29th of October that the army resumed its original position near Camden; and General Leslie, who had been also dispatched to co-operate with Cornwallis in Virginia, was recalled, but was obliged to return by sea.The fame of Sir Thomas Lawrence (b. 1769) had attained to its meridian in this period. In portrait painting he was one of the most distinguished artists of the day, and he attained proficiency in it without having gone to Italy or studied the old masters. It has been said of him, as well as of Sir Joshua Reynolds, that he painted three generations of beauties. He went to Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, by invitation, to take the likenesses of the most distinguished statesmen who were there assembled for diplomatic purposes. During his residence on the Continent he was received by the Sovereigns of the different countries he visited, and entertained with marked distinction; and the propriety and elegance of his deportment, we are told, made an impression highly favourable to his character. On his return he found that he had been unanimously elected to succeed West as the President of the Royal Academy, and this office he continued to hold till his death, which took place on the 7th of January, 1830.Parliament again met for a few days, but only to vote Addresses of condolence and congratulation, as a dissolution had been determined on. The Marquis of Lansdowne pointed out that there was not the usual reason for a dissolution which occurred upon a demise of the Crown; but Lord Eldon explained that, at common law, the Parliament died with the Sovereign in whose name it was called; and although, by the statute of William III., it could sit six months longer, it was liable to be dissolved sooner; and constitutionally it ought to be dissolved as soon as public business would allow; so that noble lords who started any business to delay the dissolution would be obstructing the due exercise of the Royal Prerogative. He, as Lord Commissioner, therefore, concluded the Session by delivering the Royal Speech, which deplored the loss of a Sovereign, the common father of all his people, and praised the prudence and firmness with which the Lords and Commons had counteracted the designs of the disaffected.
An extraordinary scene of confusion was being enacted in the House of Commons at the moment when the king's reluctance was overcome. Sir R. Vivian took occasion to arraign Ministers violently for their intention of dissolving Parliament. Sir Francis Burdett contended that he was out of order. The Speaker ruled that he was in order. The Reformers differed from the Chair. Loud cries of "Sir Robert Peel! Sir Robert Peel!" were answered by counter-cries of "Sir Francis Burdett! Sir Francis Burdett!" and some wiser cries of "Chair! Chair!" The Speaker rose and stilled this unprecedented storm—rebuked those who had disputed his authority, and again called on Sir Robert Peel, who proceeded thereupon, in undisguised anger, to address the House. But as the noise of the cannon, which announced the king's approach, boomed into the House, the Reform members loudly cheered, each discharge being greeted with overbearing and triumphant shouts. Suddenly Sir Robert's angry speech, and the loud cheers of the Reformers, were stilled by the three admonitory taps of the Usher of the Black Rod, who came to summon the members to attend his Majesty in the House of Peers. The Speaker at once obeyed, the Commons following. A similar scene of confusion in the Upper House was interrupted by the approach of the king. Lord Londonderry said, "I protest my lords, I will not submit to——." Further than this his speech did not proceed, as the Lord Chancellor, who heard the king approaching, clutched the seals, left the woolsack, and darted out of the House. Lord Londonderry, not yet despairing, moved Lord Shaftesbury again to act as Speaker, and Lord Mansfield began a furious harangue in a loud and angry voice. In the meantime the Lord Chancellor met the king entering the House, and proceeding in procession to the robing-room. As the king advanced, the noise in the House became distinctly audible. "What's that, my Lord Chancellor?" said the king. "Only, may it please you, sire, the House of Lords amusing themselves while awaiting your Majesty's coming." The king, knowing what was meant, hastily robed, and as hastily entered the House—cutting short Lord Mansfield's speech, and putting an end to all chance of passing the resolution under debate. The king ascended the throne, and commanded the attendance of the Commons. The bar of the House of Lords was thronged by the mass of members who now entered. The Speaker addressed the king, stating that the House of Commons approached the king with profound respect; and that the Commons had at no time more faithfully responded to the real feelings and interest of his Majesty's affectionate people; "while it has been," he added, "their earnest desire to support the dignity and honour of the Crown, upon which depend the greatness, the happiness, and the prosperity of this country." The Royal Assent being given to the bills that had passed, and, among others, to the Civil List Bill, the Chancellor presented to his Majesty the Speech he was to deliver, and the king, with the high shrill tone he always employed, but with more than wonted energy, read the first, which, indeed, was the really important paragraph of the Speech, and that which alone men cared to listen to or hear.THE CONSCRIPTION IN FRANCE: RECRUITING FOR NAPOLEON'S WARS. (See p. 20.)
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.VIEW IN DRESDEN.
Napoleon, however, called his Champ-de-Mai together for the electors to this anomalous document; but, to add to the incongruity, the assembly was held in the Champ-de-Mars, and not in May at all, but on the 1st of June. There he and his brothers, even Lucien, who had been wiled back to his assistance, figured in fantastic robes as emperor and princes of the blood, and the electors swore to the Constitution; but the whole was a dead and dreary fiasco. On the 4th the two Chambers, that of Peers and that of Representatives, met. The Peers, who were his own officers and picked men, readily agreed to the Constitution; but not so the Chamber of Representatives. They chose Lanjuinais president, who had been a zealous advocate of Louis XVI., and who had drawn up the list of crimes under which Buonaparte's forfeiture had been pronounced in 1814. They entered into a warm discussion on the propriety of abolishing all titles of honour in that Chamber. They rejected a proposition to bestow on Napoleon the title of Saviour of his Country, and they severely criticised the "additional Act," declaring that "the nation would entertain no plans of aggrandisement; that not even the will of a victorious prince should lead them beyond the boundaries of self-defence." In this state of things Buonaparte was compelled to depart, leaving the refractory chamber to discuss the articles of his new Constitution.But we come now to a new phase in the Poor-Law system, rather a complete revolution, by which the flood-gates of pauperism were opened, and all those barriers that had restrained the increase of population were swept away. The old system had been somewhat relaxed in 1782 by Mr. Gilbert's Act, which, by incorporating parishes into unions, prevented grasping landlords and tenants from feeling that intense interest in the extinction of population and pauperism which they did when the sphere was limited to a single parish. But in the year 1795 the price of corn rising from 54s. to 74s., and wages continuing stationary, the distress of the poor was very great and many of the able-bodied were obliged to become claimants for parish relief. But instead of meeting this emergency by temporary expedients and extra grants suited to the occasion, the magistrates of Berks and some other southern counties issued tables showing the wages which they affirmed every labouring man ought to receive, not according to the value of his labour to his employer, but according to the variations in the number of his family and the price of bread; and they accompanied these tables with an order directing the parish officers to make up the deficit to the labourer, in the event of the wages paid him by his employer falling short of the tabulated allowance. This was the small beginning of a gigantic evil. The practice originating in a passing emergency grew into a custom, and ultimately assumed the force of an established right, which prevailed almost universally, and was productive of an amount of evil beyond anything that could have been conceived possible. The allowance scales issued from time to time were framed on the principle that every labourer should have a gallon loaf of standard wheaten bread weekly for every member of his family, and one over. The effect of this was, that a man with six children, who got 9s. a week wages, required nine gallon loaves, or 13s. 6d. a week, so that he had a pension of 4s. 6d. over his wages. Another man with a wife and five children, so idle and disorderly that no one would employ him, was entitled to eight gallon loaves for their maintenance, so that he had 12s. a week to support him. The increase of allowance according to the number of children acted as a direct bounty upon early marriage.But the bullionists were still bent on forwarding their scheme, or on throwing the country into convulsions. Lord King announced to his tenants in a circular letter that he would receive his rents in specie or in bank-notes to an amount equalling the advanced value of gold. This raised a loud outcry against the injustice of the act, which would have raised the rents of his farms twenty or more per cent.; and Lord Stanhope brought in a Bill to prevent the passing of guineas at a higher value than twenty-one shillings, and one-pound banknotes at a less value than twenty shillings. There was a strenuous debate on the subject in both Houses. In the Lords, Lord Chancellor Eldon demonstrated the enormity of people demanding their rents in gold when it did not exist, and when, if the person who could pay in notes carried these notes to the Bank of England, he could not procure gold for them. He denominated such a demand from landlords as an attempt at robbery. Yet the Bill was strongly opposed in both Houses—in the Commons by Sir Francis Burdett, Sir Samuel Romilly, Brougham, and others. It underwent many modifications, but it passed, maintaining its fundamental principles, and landlords were obliged to go on taking their rents in paper.
Encouraged by this unwonted success (for the words of the speaker, reminding them of the coming elections, had sunk deep into many hearts). Dunning immediately moved a second proposition, namely, that it was competent to that House to examine into and correct any abuses of the Civil List, as well as of any other branch of the public revenue. The resolution was carried without a division. Immediately on the heels of this, Thomas Pitt moved that it was the duty of the House to redress without delay the grievances enumerated in the petitions of the people. Lord North implored that they would not proceed any further that night; but this resolution was also put and carried, likewise without division. Immediately, though it was past one o'clock in the morning, Fox moved that all these motions should be reported. Lord North, in the utmost consternation, declared this procedure was "violent, arbitrary, and unusual;" but Fox pressed his motion, and it was carried, like the rest, without a division, and the Report was brought up.
[See larger version]The fleet sailed from the Downs on the 28th of July, 1809, and on the 30th it touched at the islands of South Beveland and Walcheren. The orders of the Government were, "the capture or destruction of the enemy's ships, building or afloat at Antwerp and Flushing; the destruction of the arsenals at Antwerp, Terneuse, and Flushing; the reduction of the island of Walcheren, and, if possible, the rendering of the Scheldt no longer navigable for ships." Nelson, who had contemplated this enterprise, had calculated that it would require four or five thousand men, and could be accomplished in a week. But now Buonaparte had rendered the task more difficult, and there was no Nelson to do it. The most sagacious of the officers pointed out that the first rush should be for Antwerp, as the extreme point of the expedition, so as to destroy or capture the vessels there before the French could come to the rescue. The places nearer to the sea could be taken in returning. Had the troops landed at Blankenberg, they could have made a rapid march along a paved road through Bruges and Ghent, and captured Antwerp, only forty-five miles distant, whilst the fleet ascended the Scheldt to receive them on their return; but no such common-sense ideas found acceptance with the commanders. They determined to reduce Flushing first, and the other forts on the Scheldt, as Lillo and Liefkenshoek, in succession, by which time it was certain that the French would appear at Antwerp in numbers sufficient to protect it. Flushing was attacked on the 1st of August, and did not surrender till the 16th. Had this been the reduction of Antwerp, the rest of the objects of the expedition would have followed of course; but Lord Chatham and Rear-Admiral Strachan were in no hurry. They remained signing the capitulation, securing six thousand prisoners that they had taken, and reducing two small islands to the north of the eastern Scheldt, till the 21st (three whole weeks virtually wasted!), and on the 23rd they landed at Ter Goes, on the neighbouring island of South Beveland. Here, again, they delayed another precious fortnight, whilst the French were planting batteries at every turn of the river between them and Antwerp; had drawn a boom-chain across the channel between Lillo and Liefkenshoek; and had sunk vessels to obstruct the narrowest part of the channel beyond. They still talked of forcing their way to Antwerp; but according to a satiric rhyme of the time—
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ANDREW HOFER APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF THE TYROL. (See p. 591.)CHAPTER X. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).
FIVE-GUINEA PIECE OF GEORGE I.On the 10th of February, 1797, the French made a descent on the Welsh coast, which created much alarm at the time, and no less speculation as to its meaning. Four armed vessels, containing about fourteen hundred men, had appeared in the Bristol Channel, off Ilfracombe, in north Devon. They did not attempt to land there, but stood over to the Welsh coast, and landed in a bay near Fishguard. They were commanded by General Tate, and commenced marching inland, and the whole country was in alarm. Lord Cawdor marched against them with three thousand men, including a considerable body of militia, and they at once laid down their arms and surrendered without a shot. Many were the conjectures as to the object of this descent, and historians have much puzzled themselves about a matter which appears plain enough. The men looked ragged and wild, more like felons than soldiers, and were apparently not unwilling to be made prisoners. They were, no doubt, a part of the great Brest fleet meant for Ireland, which had been driven about by the tempests ever since they quitted that port on the 17th of December, and were only too glad to set foot on any land at all, and probably were by this time so famished and bewildered that they did not know whether they were in England or Ireland. Many of their comrades of the same unfortunate expedition never did see land again.There were not wanting, however, those who strove to disturb the joy of Ireland, and the peace of England thus acquired, by sowing suspicions of the sincerity of England, and representing that the independence granted was spurious rather than real. Amongst these, Flood, the rival of Grattan in political and Parliamentary life, took the lead. He seized on every little circumstance to create doubts of the English carrying out the concession faithfully. He caught at an imprudent motion of the Earl of Abingdon, in the Peers, and still more vivaciously at the decision of an appeal from Ireland, in the Court of King's Bench, by Lord Mansfield. The case had remained over, and it was deemed impracticable to send it back to Ireland, though nearly finished before the Act of Repeal. Fox explained the case, and made the most explicit declaration of the "full, complete, absolute, and perpetual surrender of the British legislative and judicial supremacy over Ireland." But the suspicions had been too adroitly infused to be removed without a fresh and still more positive Act, which was passed in the next Session.详情
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