In the autumn the great Congress of Sovereigns assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle. We have already anticipated their chief object—the final evacuation of France by the Allied troops, and the settlement of compensations. They assembled about the middle of September, and remained together till the middle of November. Their business conferences, however, did not commence till the 30th of September. With regard to the evacuation of France, we need only state that it was greatly promoted by the exertions of the Duke of Wellington. Robert Owen was there to endeavour to enlist the Sovereigns in his schemes of social reform, but did not make any proselytes amongst the crowned heads, though the Czar Alexander told him he fully entered into his views, as he was generally accustomed to tell all reformers and religious professors, leaving them in the pleasing delusion that they had won him to their opinions. Clarkson was there to engage them to sanction the suppression of the slave trade, but with as indifferent a result. This was the closing scene of the great European drama, which opened with the French Revolution and terminated with the capture of Buonaparte. The Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle may be regarded as the recital of the epilogue.
But Wellington was not intending to stop here. He immediately made preparations for the siege of Badajoz. He had artillery sent out to sea from Lisbon, as for some distant expedition, and then secretly carried, in small boats, up the Setubal, to Alcacer do Sal, and thence, by land, across Alemtejo to the Guadiana. On the 16th of March, after a rapid march, he reached, with a strong body of troops, the Guadiana, crossed, and at once invested Badajoz. By the 26th he had carried the Picurina and the advanced work separated from the city by the little river Rivillas, and made two breaches in the city walls. There was the same want of besieging tools and battering trains which had retarded his operations before; but the men worked well, and on the 6th of April, there being three breaches open, orders were given to storm, for Soult was collecting his forces at Seville to raise the siege. One of the breaches had been so strongly barricaded by General Philippon, the governor of Badajoz, by strong planks bristling with iron spikes, and with chevaux-de-frise of bayonets and broken swords, that no effect could be produced on the obstruction; whilst the French, from the ramparts and the houses overlooking them, poured down the most destructive volleys. But the parties at the other two breaches were more successful, and on their drawing away the French from this quarter, the spike-beams and chevaux-de-frise were knocked down, and the British were soon masters of the place. Philippon endeavoured to escape with a number of men, but he was obliged to throw himself into Fort San Christoval, on the other side the Guadiana, where he was compelled to surrender. The loss of the allies was nearly one thousand men killed, including seventy-two officers, and three hundred and six officers and three thousand four hundred and eighty men wounded. The French, though they fought under cover of batteries and houses, lost nearly one thousand five hundred men; they also delivered up upwards of five thousand prisoners of their own nation, and nearly four thousand Spaniards, British, and Portuguese, who had been kept at Badajoz as a safe fortress. The British soldiers fought with their usual undaunted bravery, but they disgraced themselves by getting drunk in the wine cellars during the night of the storming, and committed many excesses. Wellington, who was extremely rigorous in suppressing all such conduct, reduced them to discipline as quickly as possible, and on the 8th Badajoz was completely in his hands. Soult, who was at Villafranca when he received the news, immediately retreated again on Seville, briskly pursued by the British cavalry, who did much execution on his rear-guard at Villagarcia.
CULLODEN HOUSE. (From a Photograph by G. W. Wilson and Co., Aberdeen.)But our military achievements in the East Indies were on a scale to throw even these successes far into the shade. Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General, was entreated by the Peishwa of Poonah to assist him against the other Mahratta chiefs, Scindiah and Holkar. The Peishwa had been driven out of his territory by these chiefs, aided principally by the military talents of M. Perron, a Frenchman, who had for many years entered, with several other French officers, on the fall of the Mysore power, into the service of Scindiah. He had been extremely successful, and had been rewarded with a wide territory on the Jumna; and when, in 1793, Shah Allum, the Mogul, had been made prisoner, he had been consigned to the custody of M. Perron. The Frenchman had now given his aid to expel the Peishwa, and Lord Wellesley, in sending General Lake to restore the Peishwa, authorised him to attempt to win over M. Perron to the British interest by very brilliant offers of property and distinction, for Perron was deemed avaricious. The temptation, however, failed, both with Perron and his French officers. He took the field in support of Scindiah, with seventeen thousand infantry, from fifteen to twenty thousand Mahratta horse, and a numerous train of artillery.
Mr. Robert Johnson, made judge of Common Pleas 3,300[See larger version]
William Johnson, according to his own statement, "returned to Parliament by Lord Castlereagh, to put an end to it;" a judgeship.Another admiral was still less fortunate. This was Linois, who had been beaten off in his attack on a British fleet of India merchantmen, in the Straits of Malacca, some time before, and who had been cruising far and wide in pursuit of British prizes, whilst a number of English commanders were eagerly hunting after him. He was now returning home, when, in sight of the port of Brest, with only two of his ships remaining, Sir John Warren stood in his way, and compelled him to surrender both of them.
It was found that the potato was almost the only food of the Irish millions, and that it formed their chief means of obtaining the other necessaries of life. A large portion of this crop was grown under the conacre system, to which the poorest of the peasantry were obliged to have recourse, notwithstanding the minute subdivision of land. In 1841 there were 691,000 farms in Ireland exceeding one acre in extent. Nearly one-half of these were under five acres each. The number of proprietors in fee was estimated at 8,000—a smaller number in proportion to the extent of territory than in any other country of Western Europe except Spain. In Connaught, several proprietors had 100,000 acres each, the proportion of small farms being greater there than in the rest of Ireland. The total number of farms in the province was 155,842, and of these 100,254 consisted of from one to five acres. If all the proprietors had resided among their tenantry, and been in a position to encourage their industry and care for their welfare, matters would not have been so bad; but most of the large landowners were absentees. It frequently happened that the large estates were held in strict limitation, and they were nearly all heavily encumbered. The owners preferred living in England or on the Continent, having let their lands on long leases or in perpetuity to "middlemen," who sublet them for as high rents as they could get. Their tenants again sublet, so that it frequently happened that two, three, or four landlords intervened between the proprietors and the occupying tenant, each deriving an interest from the land. The head landlord therefore, though ever so well-disposed, had no power whatever to help the occupying tenants generally, and of those who had the power, very few felt disposed. There were extensive districts without a single resident proprietor, and when the absentees were appealed to by the local relief committees during the famine to assist the perishing people, they seldom took the trouble of answering the application.
LORD GREY.It was now proposed that as the Orange leaders had violated the law as much as the Dorsetshire labourers, they should be dealt with in the same manner, and that if evidence could be obtained, the Duke of Cumberland, Lord Kenyon, the Bishop of Salisbury, Colonel Fairman, and the rest should be prosecuted in the Central Criminal Court. There was an Orangeman, named Heywood, who had betrayed his confederates, and was about to be prosecuted by them for libel. The opponents of the Orangemen, believing his allegations to be borne out by the evidence given before the committee, resolved to have him defended by able counsel, retaining for the purpose Serjeant Wilde, Mr. Charles Austen, and Mr. Charles Buller. All the necessary preparations were made for the trial, when Heywood suddenly died, having broken a blood-vessel through agitation of mind, and alarm lest he should somehow become the victim of an association so powerful, whose vengeance he had excited by what they denounced as treachery and calumny. The criminal proceedings, therefore, were abandoned. Almost immediately after the opening of Parliament in February, 1836, Mr. Finn and Mr. Hume again made a statement in the House of Commons of the whole case against the Duke of Cumberland and the Orange Society, and proposed a resolution which seemed but a just consequence of their terrible indictment. The resolution declared the abhorrence of Parliament of all such secret political associations, and proposed an Address to the king requesting him to cause the dismissal of all Orangemen and members of any other secret political association from all offices civil and military, unless they ceased to be members of such societies within one month after the issuing of a proclamation to that effect. Lord John Russell proposed a middle course, and moved, as an amendment, an Address to the king praying that his Majesty would take such measures as should be effectual for the suppression of the societies in question. Mr. Hume having withdrawn his resolution, the amendment was adopted unanimously. The king expressed concurrence with the Commons; a copy of his reply was sent to the Duke of Cumberland, as Grand Master, by the Home Secretary. The duke immediately sent an intimation that before the last debate in the Commons he had recommended the dissolution of the Orange societies in Ireland, and that he would immediately proceed to dissolve all such societies elsewhere. "In a few days," Harriet Martineau remarked, "the thing was done, and Orangeism became a matter of history."MARSHAL BERESFORD. (From the Portrait by Sir W. Beechey, R.A.)
The Tory party sustained serious damage in consequence of an inquiry on the subject of Orange lodges in the army, which was granted in May, on the motion of Mr. Finn, an Irish member. Very startling disclosures were made by this committee during Sir Robert Peel's brief Administration. Various addresses had been presented from Orange societies, which led to pertinacious questioning of the Ministers. It was asked whether the addresses in question purported to come from Orange societies; whether the king ought to receive addresses from illegal associations; and whether it was true, as the newspapers said, that such addresses had been graciously received by his Majesty. There was a peculiar significance given to these inquiries by an impression that began to prevail that there had been on foot for some years a conspiracy to prevent the Princess Victoria from ascending the throne, and to secure the sovereignty for the eldest brother of the king, the Duke of Cumberland, the avowed head of the Tory party, and also the head of the Orange Society, through whose instrumentality the revolution was to be effected, in furtherance of which Orange lodges had been extensively organised in the army. The report of the committee was presented in September, and from this report it appeared that Orange lodges were first held in England under Irish warrants; but that in 1808 a lodge was founded in Manchester, and warrants were issued for the holding of lodges under English authority. On the death of the Grand Master in that town, in 1821, the lodge was removed to London, where the meetings were held in the house of Lord Kenyon, Deputy Grand Master. The Duke of York had been prevented from assuming the office of Grand Master, because the law officers of the Crown were of opinion that the society was illegal. The Act against political associations in Ireland having expired in 1828, the Orange lodges started forth in vigorous and active existence, under the direction of the Duke of Cumberland as Grand Master. The passing of the Emancipation Act seems to have had the effect of driving the leaders of the society into a conspiracy to counteract its operation, or to bring about a counter-revolution by means of this treasonable organisation; though, perhaps, they did not consider it treasonable, as their object was to place upon the throne the brother of the king, whom they thought to be alone capable of preserving the Constitution, and of excluding from it a very young princess, who would be during her minority in the hands of Whigs and Radicals, whom they believed to be leagued together to destroy it. Considering the frenzy of party spirit at this time, and the conditional loyalty openly professed by the men who annually celebrated the battle of the Boyne and the glorious Revolution of 1688, there is nothing very surprising in the course adopted by the Orange societies, though the English public were astounded when they learnt for the first time, in 1835, that there were 140,000 members of this secret society in England, of whom 40,000 were in London; and that the army was to a large extent tainted.[See larger version]
The restless Englishman, much more like a Frenchman in temperament and character than a native of England, had married Madame de Villette, a niece of Louis XIV.'s last mistress, Madame de Maintenon, a lady rich and well-trained in all the Court life of Paris. By this means Bolingbroke was brought into close connection with that Court. The notorious Cardinal Dubois had died in August, 1723, and in less than four months died also the Duke of Orleans, the Regent. Louis XV. being nominally of age, no other Regent was appointed; but the Duke of Bourbon, a man of better character but of less ability than the Regent, Orleans, was Prime Minister. He was greatly under the influence of his bold and ambitious mistress Madame de Prie; and Bolingbroke, who was high in the favour of both Minister and mistress, flattered himself that, with the aid of his courtier wife, he could govern both them and France.The British, apprised of the views of France, determined to send a fleet and troops to protect the West Indies; but, instead of sending the requisite force from home, the Ministers ordered Clinton to send five thousand men from New York. This was another example of the feeble and penurious manner in which they carried on this war. Clinton had recently sent three thousand five hundred men to Georgia, and now this detachment of five thousand diminished his already insufficient army by eight thousand five hundred men. It was, therefore, utterly impossible that he could take another decisive step in America during this year, and thus Congress was left to strengthen its army and to await fresh reinforcements from France.详情
Copyright © 2020