Before he withdrew, the king, who retained his high opinion of his political wisdom, consulted him on the constitution of the new Cabinet. Walpole recommended that the post of First Lord of the Treasury, including the Premiership, should be offered to Pulteney, as the man of the most undoubted talent. If he should refuse it, then that it should be given to Lord Wilmington, who, though by no means capable of directing affairs by his own energy, was of a disposition which might allow them to be conducted by the joint counsel of his abler colleagues. The king consented that the Premiership should be offered to Pulteney, though he hated the man, but only on this condition, that he pledged himself to resist any prosecution of the ex-Minister. Pulteney declined the overture on such a condition, for though he said he had no desire to punish Walpole, he might not be able to defend him from the attacks of his colleagues, for, he observed, "the heads of parties, like those of snakes, are carried on by their tails." The king then sent Newcastle to Pulteney, and it was agreed to allow Wilmington to take the post of First Lord of the Treasury. Carteret thought that this office was more due to him, but Pulteney declared that if Wilmington were not permitted to take the Premiership he would occupy it himself, and Carteret gave way, accepting the place of Secretary of State, with the promise that he should manage in reality the foreign affairs. In all these arrangements the king still took the advice of Walpole, and Newcastle was instructed to again endeavour to draw from Pulteney a promise that he would at least keep himself clear of any prosecution of the late Minister. Pulteney evaded the question by saying that he was not a bloody or revengeful man; that he had always aimed at the destruction of the power of Walpole, and not of his person, but that he still thought he ought not to escape without some censure, and could not engage himself without his party.Wellington arrived early in the forenoon at Quatre Bras, and then rode to Brie, to consult with Blucher. It appeared as if it was the intention of Buonaparte to bear down with his whole force on Blucher; and though Bulow's division, stationed between Liége and Hainault, was too far off to arrive in time, Blucher resolved to stand battle; and it was agreed that Wellington should, if possible, march to his assistance, and vice versa, should the attack be on Wellington. Ney, with a division of forty-five thousand, attacked the British at Quatre Bras and Frasnes, whilst Napoleon directed the rest of his force on Blucher at Ligny, and General D'Erlon lay with ten thousand men near Marchiennes, to act in favour of either French force, as might be required. Buonaparte did not attack Blucher till about three o'clock, and then he continued the battle with the utmost fury for two hours along his whole line. Buonaparte, finding that he could not break the Prussian line, sent for the division of D'Erlon, and then, contriving to get into the rear of Blucher's position at Ligny, threw the Prussians into disorder. Blucher made a desperate charge, at the head of his cavalry, to repel the French, but his horse was killed under him; and the French cuirassiers galloped over him, a Prussian officer having flung a cloak over him. He escaped with his life, and, remounting, led the retreat towards Tilly. The loss of the French in this battle is stated by General Gourgaud at seven thousand, but is supposed to exceed ten thousand. The Prussians admit the loss of as many, but the French declared that they lost fifteen thousand. It was, however, a severe blow for the Allies; and had Ney managed to defeat Wellington, the consequences would have been momentous. But Ney found that the British had evacuated Frasnes that morning, and lay across four roads at Quatre Bras—one leading to St. Amand, the Prussian position. On another, leading from Charleroi to Brussels, was a wood, called the Bois de Bossu; and here the attack commenced on the Belgians. The wood was sharply contested, and about three o'clock the Belgians were driven out by the French, who, in their turn, were expelled by the British Guards. The battle then became general and severe, the 42nd Highlanders suffering greatly. Ney endeavoured to cut through the British by a furious charge of cavalry; but this was repelled by such a deadly fire as heaped the causeway with men and horses. Ney then sent for the division of D'Erlon, but that had been already summoned by Buonaparte. The battle was continued till it was dark, and the British remained on the field, hoping that the Prussians had also maintained their ground, and that they might form a junction in the morning. But the Prussians had retreated in the night to Wavre, about six leagues in the rear of Ligny, and had gone off in such silence that Napoleon was not even aware of it. But Wellington was aware of it, and, on the morning of the 17th, began a retreat also on Waterloo, where he and Blucher had concerted to form a junction and give battle. Blucher had made his retreat so artfully, that the French were at a loss to know which way he had taken. It appeared as if he had directed his march for Namur, and about three o'clock on the 17th Grouchy received orders to pursue Blucher, wherever he might have gone. This dispatch of Grouchy with thirty-two thousand men to deal with Blucher proved a serious mistake for Napoleon, who, not having Grouchy's division to support him at the battle of Waterloo, severely blamed him, and charged his own defeat upon him. But it was the ungenerous practice of Buonaparte, whenever he was defeated, to charge it upon some of his generals, even when they had been acting most meritoriously. This he did in Russia, and this he repeated in the retreat on Paris in 1814, and this we shall find him doing again in the battle of Waterloo, to the undaunted and indefatigable Ney. Grouchy has shown satisfactorily that he himself first brought to Napoleon the news of Blucher's retreat, and requested orders to pursue him with his cavalry, but that he could not obtain such order till noon on the 17th, and then the order was to follow him wherever he went. We shall soon see that Thielemann, by Blucher's orders, kept Grouchy well employed, and took care to prevent his return to Waterloo.
At length the Sikhs moved on to meet the British on the 18th of December. When they came in sight, the British bugles sounded, and the wearied soldiers, who had been lying on the ground, started up and stood to their arms. The Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief rode from regiment to regiment, cheering the spirits of their men, and rousing them to the needful pitch of valour by encouraging exhortations. About two miles from Moodkee, Gough, at the head of the advanced guard, found the enemy encamped behind sandy hillocks and jungle, 20,000 strong, with forty guns, which immediately opened fire as he approached. The battlefield was a sandy plain, on which the view was obstructed by small hills, which prevented the belligerents from seeing one another till they were quite near. For some time the contest was maintained on both sides by the artillery. Then General Gough ordered the advance of a column of cavalry—the 3rd Light Dragoons, the 5th Light Cavalry, and the 4th Lancers. The column was launched like an immense thunderbolt against a mass of Sikh cavalry, and proved so irresistible in its terrific onset that it broke them up into fragments, scattered them about, and swept along the whole line of the enemy, cutting down the gunners, and suspending for a time the roar of their artillery. Soon afterwards the infantry came into action, led on by Sir Harry Smith, General Gilbert, and Sir John M'Caskill. The Sikhs fought bravely and obstinately at every point; but when the steady incessant fire of the artillery had done its work, a general charge was made, with loud, exultant cheers, and the enemy were driven from their ground with tremendous loss. The day had closed upon the battlefield, but the routed enemy were pursued for a mile and a half by the light of the stars.
We now arrive at the "Irish Crisis," the famine of 1846 and 1847—one of the greatest calamities that ever afflicted the human race. In order to understand fully the events connected with this visitation, it is necessary to notice the social condition of the country which rendered its effects so destructive. Ireland had long been in a chronic state of misery, which has been ascribed by the most competent judges to the peculiar state of the land tenure in that country. It had often been predicted by writers on the state of Ireland, that, owing to this rottenness at the foundation of the social fabric, it would come down with a crash some day. The facts reported by the Census Commissioners of 1841 showed that this consummation could not be far off. Out of a population of 8,000,000, there were 3,700,000 above the age of five years who could neither read nor write; while nearly three millions and a half lived in mud cabins, badly thatched with straw, having each but one room, and often without either a window or a chimney. These figures indicate a mass of ignorance and poverty which could not be contemplated without alarm, and the subject was, therefore, constantly pressed upon the attention of Parliament. As usual in cases of difficulty, the Government, feeling that something should be done, and not knowing what to do, appointed, in 1845, a commission to inquire into the relations between landlord and tenant, and the condition of the working classes. At the head of this commission was the Earl of Devon, a benevolent nobleman, whose sympathies were on the side of the people. Captain Kennedy, the secretary to the Commissioners, published a digest of the report of the evidence, which presented the facts in a readable form, and was the means of diffusing a large amount of authentic information on the state of Ireland. The Commissioners travelled through the country, held courts of inquiry, and examined witnesses of all classes. As the result of their extensive intercourse with the farming classes and their own observations, they were enabled to state that in almost every part of Ireland unequivocal symptoms of improvement, in spite of many embarrassing and counteracting circumstances, continually presented themselves to the view, and that there existed a very general and increasing spirit and desire for the promotion of such improvement, from which the most beneficial results might fairly be expected. Indeed, speaking of the country generally, they add: "With some exceptions, which are unfortunately too notorious, we believe that at no former period did so active a spirit of improvement prevail; nor could well-directed measures for the attainment of that object have been proposed with a better prospect of success than at the present moment."On the 8th of July an extraordinary Privy Council was summoned. All the members, of whatever party, were desired to attend, and many were the speculations as to the object of their meeting. The general notion was that it involved the continuing or the ending of the war. It turned out to be for the announcement of the king's intended marriage. The lady selected was Charlotte, the second sister of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Apart from the narrowness of her education, the young princess had a considerable amount of amiability, good sense, and domestic taste. These she shared with her intended husband, and whilst they made the royal couple always retiring, at the same time they caused them to give, during their lives, a moral air to their court. On the 8th of September Charlotte arrived at St. James's, and that afternoon the marriage took place, the ceremony being performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the 22nd the coronation took place with the greatest splendour.
Music advanced at an equal rate with its sister arts, and during this period added to its conquests the compositions of Purcell and Handel. William was too much engaged in war to become a patron of music, or of any of the fine arts, and his queen, Mary, does not appear to have possessed much taste for it. She is related by Sir John Hawkins to have sent for Purcell and Mrs. Arabella Hunt, a famous singer, to entertain her. Mrs. Hunt sang some of Purcell's splendid compositions, and Purcell accompanied them on the harpsichord; but Mary soon grew weary of these, and called on Mrs. Hunt to sing the Scottish ballad, "Cold and Raw!"
On the 27th of March, after a powerful address from Sir Robert Peel, the Corn Importation Bill was read a second time—the House, on division, showing a majority for the second reading of 302 to 214. Three nights' debate took place on the third reading, in the course of which the Protectionists contended with undiminished obstinacy for the maintenance of the landlords' monopoly. The third reading was finally carried at four o'clock in the morning of Saturday, May 16th, the numbers being 327 for the Bill; against it, 229; leaving a majority for the Government of 98.SURRENDER OF THE PEISHWA. (See p. 141.)
Rt. Hon. Sir H. Langrishe, ￡15,000 for his patronage of Knocktopher, and a commissionership of revenue.The triumph of the Whigs was complete. Whilst Oxford, who had been making great efforts at the last to retrieve himself with his party by assisting them to seize the reins of power on the queen's illness, was admitted in absolute silence to kiss the king's hand, and that not without many difficulties, Marlborough, Somers, Halifax, and the rest were received with the most cordial welcome. Yet, on appointing the new cabinet, the king showed that he did not forget the double-dealing of Marlborough. He smiled on him, but did not place him where he hoped to be, at the head of affairs. He made Lord Townshend Secretary of State and Prime Minister; Stanhope, the second Secretary; the Earl of Mar was removed from the Secretaryship of Scotland to make way for the Duke of Montrose; Lord Halifax was made First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and was raised to an earldom, and was allowed to confer on his nephew the sinecure of Auditor of the Exchequer; Lord Cowper became Lord Chancellor; Lord Wharton was made Privy Seal, and created a marquis; the Earl of Nottingham became President of the Council; Mr. Pulteney was appointed Secretary-at-War; the Duke of Argyll, Commander-in-Chief for Scotland; Shrewsbury, Lord Chamberlain and Groom of the Stole; the Duke of Devonshire became Lord Steward of the Household; the Duke of Somerset, Master of the Horse; Sunderland, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; Walpole was at first made simply Paymaster of the Forces, without a place in the cabinet, but his ability in debate and as a financier soon raised him to higher employment; Lord Orford was made First Lord of the Admiralty; and Marlborough, Commander-in-Chief and Master of the Ordnance. His power, however, was gone. In the whole new cabinet Nottingham was the only member who belonged to the Tory party, and of late he had been acting more in common with the Whigs. The Tories complained vehemently of their exclusion, as if their dealings with the Pretender had been a recommendation to the House of Hanover. They contended that the king should have shown himself the king of the whole people, and aimed at a junction of the two parties.(After the Portrait by J. B. Greuze.)
Dr. Curtis, the Roman Catholic Primate, was an old friend of the Duke of Wellington, whom he had known during the war in the Peninsula, and with whom he had kept up a confidential correspondence on the subject of the Catholic claims, on the state of the country, on the disposition of the Roman Catholics in the army, and other matters of the kind. On the 11th of December the Duke, in answer to a letter urging the prompt settlement of the Catholic question, wrote to Dr. Curtis as follows: "I have received your letter of the 4th instant, and I assure you that you do me justice in believing that I am sincerely anxious to witness the settlement of the Roman Catholic question, which, by benefiting the State, would confer a benefit on every individual belonging to it. But I confess that I see no prospect of such a settlement. Party has been mixed up with the consideration of the question to such a degree, and such violence pervades every discussion of it, that it is impossible to expect to prevail upon men to consider it dispassionately. If we could bury it in oblivion for a short time, and employ that time diligently in the consideration of its difficulties on all sides (for they are very great), I should not despair of seeing a satisfactory remedy."
The changes in furniture were not remarkable. During the French war a rage for furniture on the classic model had taken place; but on the return of peace Paris fashions were restored. Rosewood superseded mahogany, and a more easy and luxurious style of sofa and couch was adopted. There came also Pembroke tables, Argand lamps, register stoves, Venetian and spring blinds, a variety of ladies' work-tables and whatnots; and a more tasteful disposition of curtains and ornamental articles purchased on the Continent.
The eyes of the world were now turned upon Rome. It was not to be expected that the Catholic Powers would allow the bark of St. Peter to go down in the flood of revolution without an effort to save it. Spain was the first to interpose for this purpose. Its Government invited France, Austria, Bavaria, Sardinia, Tuscany, and Naples to send plenipotentiaries to consult on the best means of reinstating the Pope. Austria also protested against the new state of things, complaining that the Austrian flag, and the arms of the empire on the palace of its ambassador at Rome, had been insulted and torn down. On the 8th of February a body of Austrian troops, under General Haynau, entered Ferrara, to avenge the death of three Austrian soldiers, and an insult offered to an Austrian consul. He required that the latter should be indemnified, that the Papal colours should be again displayed, that the murderers of the soldiers should be given up, and that the city should support 10,000 Austrian troops. This was a state of things not to be endured by the French Republic, and its Government determined to interpose and overreach Austria, for the purpose of re-establishing French ascendency at Rome, even though based upon the ruins of a sister republic. The French Republicans, it is well known, cared very little for the Pope, but they were ready to make use of him to gratify their own national ambition. Their attack on the Roman Republic would therefore be fittingly described by the language which Pius IX. applied to that republic itself, as "hypocritical felony."By E. M. WARD, R.A.详情
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