With the reign of George III. began the real era of civil engineering. With respect to our highways there had been various Parliamentary enactments since the Revolution of 1688; but still, at the commencement of George III.'s reign, the condition of the greater part of our public roads was so dreadful as now to be almost incredible. Acts of Parliament continued to be passed for their amendment, but what was their general state we learn from the invaluable "Tours" of Arthur Young. He describes one leading from Billericay to Tilbury, in Essex, as so narrow that a mouse could not pass by any carriage, and so deep in mud that chalk-waggons were continually sticking fast in them, till so many were in that predicament that the waggoners put twenty or thirty of their horses together to pull them out. He describes the same state of things in almost every part of the country—in Norfolk, Suffolk, Wiltshire, and Lancashire. Some of them had ruts four feet deep by measure, and into these ruts huge stones were dropped to enable waggons to pass at all; and these, in their turn, broke their axles by the horrible jolting, so that within eighteen miles he saw three waggons lying in this condition. Notwithstanding, from 1785 to 1800 no fewer than six hundred and forty-three Acts of Parliament regarding roads were passed. But scarcely a penny of the money collected at the toll-bars went to the repair of the roads, but only to pay the interest of the debt on their original construction. Whatever was raised was divided amongst the members of the body known as the trustees for the original fund; and though many Acts of Parliament limited this interest, means were found for evading the restriction.
DEPARTURE OF THE BRITISH TROOPS FROM ALEXANDRIA. (See p. 539.)It remains only to notice the terminating scene of the once gay Murat, Buonaparte's gallant leader of cavalry in so many campaigns, and finally King of Naples. In consequence of plans that he had laid with Buonaparte in Elba, Murat rose on the 22nd of March of this year, and pushed forward with the intention of driving the Austrians out of Upper Italy. But Austria was well aware of what had been in progress, and, though Murat proclaimed the independence of Italy, the Italians fled from him rather than joined him. On the Po he was met by the Austrians, under General Fremont, fifty thousand strong, and defeated. He retreated rapidly towards Naples again, suffering other discomfitures, and at the same time receiving a notice from Lord William Bentinck that, as he had broken his convention with the European Powers, Britain was at war with him. To keep the Neapolitans in his interest, he drew up a liberal Constitution, on the 12th of May, amid the mountains of the Abruzzi, and sent it to Naples, where his queen, Caroline Buonaparte, proclaimed it. It was of no avail; the people, instead of assisting him, were ready to rise against him, and his soldiers every day rapidly deserted and went to their homes.
The effects of the growth in our commerce and manufactures, and the consequent increase of the national wealth, were seen in the extension of London and other of our large towns. Eight new parishes were added to the metropolis during this period; the Chelsea Waterworks were established in 1721; and Westminster Bridge was completed in 1750. Bristol, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Frome, Dublin, and several other towns, grew amazingly.
Amid this melancholy manifestation of a convicted, yet dogged, treason against the people on the part of their rulers, many motions for reform and improvements in our laws were brought forward. On the part of Mr. Sturges Bourne, a committee brought in a report recommending three Bills for the improvement of the Poor Law: one for the establishment of select vestries, one for a general reform of the Poor Law, and one for revising the Law of Settlement. On the part of Henry Brougham, a Bill was introduced for appointment of commissioners to inquire into the condition of the charities in England for the education of the poor. There were many attempts to reform the Criminal Law, in which Sir Samuel Romilly especially exerted himself. One of these was to take away the penalty of death from the offence of stealing from a shop to the value of five shillings, another was to prevent arrests for libel before indictment was found, and another, by Sir James Mackintosh, to inquire into the forgery of Bank of England notes. There was a Bill brought in by Mr. Wynn to amend the Election Laws; and one for alterations in the Law of Tithes, by Mr. Curwen; another by Sir Robert Peel, father of the great statesman, for limiting the hours of labour in cotton and other factories; a Bill to amend the Law of Bankruptcy, and a Bill to amend the Copyright Act, by Sir Egerton Brydges; and finally a Bill for Parliamentary Reform, introduced by Sir Francis Burdett, and supported by Lord Cochrane, subsequently the Earl of Dundonald. All of these were thrown out, except the select Vestries Bill, Brougham's Bill to inquire into the public charities, a Bill for rewarding apprehenders of highway robbers and other offenders, and a Bill granting a million of money to build new churches. The cause of Reform found little encouragement from the Parliamentary majorities of the Sidmouths, Liverpools, and Castlereaghs. This list of rejections of projects of reform was far from complete; a long succession followed. The Scots came with a vigorous demand, made on their behalf by Lord Archibald Hamilton, for a sweeping reform of their burghs. Municipal reform was equally needed, both in Scotland and England. The whole system was flagrantly corrupt. Many boroughs were sinking into bankruptcy; and the elections of their officers were conducted on the most arbitrary and exclusive principles. The Scots had agitated this question before the outbreak of the French Revolution, but that and the great war issuing out of it had swamped the agitation altogether. It was now revived, but only to meet with a defeat like a score of other measures quite as needful. Lord Archibald Hamilton asked for the abolition of the Scottish Commissary Courts in conformity with the recommendation of a commission of inquiry in 1808; General Thornton called for the repeal of certain religious declarations to be made on taking office; and Dr. Phillimore for amendment of the Marriage Act of 1753; and numerous demands for the repeal of taxes of one kind or another all met the same fate of refusal.
On the 2nd of July, in a letter to Lord Francis Leveson Gower, the Viceroy gave his opinion of the state of Ireland in these terms:—"I begin by premising that I hold in abhorrence the Association, the agitators, the priests, and their religion; and I believe that not many, but that some, of the bishops are mild, moderate, and anxious to come to a fair and liberal compromise for the adjustment of the points at issue. I think that these latter have very little, if any, influence with the lower clergy and the population.
At this point the advance of the Prussians was unexpectedly checked. After the capture of Verdun, on the 2nd of September, they had spread themselves over the plains of the Meuse, and occupied, as their main centre, Stenay. Dumouriez and his army lay at Sedan and in its neighbourhood. To reach him and advance on Chalons in their way to Paris, the Allies must pass or march round the great forest of Argonne, which extends from thirteen to fifteen leagues, and was so intersected with hills, woods, and waters, that it was at that time impenetrable to an army except through certain passes. These were Chêne-Populeux, Croix-aux-Bois, Grand Pré, La Chalade, and Islettes. The most important were those of Grand Pré and Islettes, which however were the two most distant from Sedan. The plan therefore was to fortify these passes; and in order to do this Dumouriez immediately ordered Dillon to march forward and occupy Islettes and La Chalade. This was effected; a division of Dillon's forces driving the Austrian general, Clairfayt, from the Islettes. Dumouriez followed, and occupied Grand Pré, and General Dubouquet occupied Chêne-Populeux, and sent a detachment to secure Croix-aux-Bois between Grand Pré and Chêne-Populeux.
Rodney, on reaching the West Indies, found, as we shall see, a combined fleet of French under the Count de Guichen, and of Spanish under Admiral Solano; but he could not bring them to an engagement, and, after a brief brush, they eventually eluded him, Solano taking refuge in Havana, and De Guichen convoying the home-bound merchant ships of France. Disappointed in his hopes of a conflict with these foes, Rodney sailed for the North American coasts. Scarcely had he quitted the European waters, however, when the Spaniards took a severe revenge for his victory over them at St. Vincent. Florida Blanca, the Minister of Spain, learnt, through his spies in England, that the English East and West Indian traders were going out under a very foolishly feeble escort—in fact, of only two ships of the line. Elated at the news, Florida Blanca collected every vessel that he could, and dispatched them, under Admirals Cordova and Gaston, to intercept this precious prize. The enterprise was most successful. The Spanish fleet lay in wait at the point where the East and West India vessels separate, off the Azores, captured sixty sail of merchantmen, and carried them safe into Cadiz. The two vessels of war escaped, but in the East Indiamen were eighteen hundred soldiers going out to reinforce the troops in the East.
These arrangements being complete, Charles lay at Pinkie House on the 31st of October, and the next day, the 1st of November, he commenced his march. Each of the two columns was preceded by a number of horsemen to act as scouts. In the day of battle each company of a regiment furnished two of its best men to form the bodyguard of the chief, who usually took his post in the centre, and was surrounded by his brothers and cousins, with whom it was a point of honour to defend the chief to the death. So set forward the Highland army for England, and it is now necessary to see what preparations England had made for the invasion.CAPTAIN WALPOLE INTERCEPTING THE DUKE OF SALDANHA'S SHIPS. (See p. 306.)
CAPTURE OF WOLFE TONE. (See p. 464.)With this debate terminated the friendship of Fox and Burke. Fox disclaimed any premeditated attack on Burke, but the severe things which he himself had said of his old friend, the contempt which he expressed for Burke's "Reflections on the French Revolution," and the private conversations which he invariably dragged into these public debates, give us less confidence in this assertion; whilst the co-operation of his party with him bore all the marks of a systematic assault. On the one side stood Fox, expressing much feeling and regret, but uttering the most cutting things, taunting Burke with his age and his enthusiastic temperament, and backed by a violent and insulting crew; on the other side stood Burke, deserted by those, and they were numerous, who thought entirely with him. Not a few expressed to Burke, in private, their agreement of opinion and admiration of his conduct; but to make this expression of any value it should have been open and bold. As it was, the great master who had taught the whole generation of politicians their principles, was left to stand alone in the conflict. He sustained his part nobly, and time was not long in justifying his accuracy of calculation and his prescience. All the results, however, which he declared inevitable, were already rushing into open day, and the enamoured lovers of the French Revolution were forced to hang their heads. In the meantime, the newspapers had poured on the head of Burke their vials of abuse. On the very day on which the Quebec debates terminated, the Morning Chronicle, the organ of the Whigs, published this paragraph:—"The great and firm body of the Whigs of England, true to their principles, have decided on the dispute between Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke; and the former is declared to have maintained the pure doctrines by which they are bound together, and upon which they have invariably acted. The consequence is that Mr. Burke retires from Parliament." They were not contented with this premature announcement; they charged him with corruption and apostacy, and described his life, one of honour and generosity, as a long series of basenesses.
The history of the Peninsular War was written very ably and faithfully by a soldier who bore a distinguished part in it—General Sir W. F. P. Napier, one of three brothers, all eminently distinguished for their talents and achievements. About the time when this work was concluded appeared further illustrations of the war, in the "Despatches of Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington," which were edited by Colonel Gurwood, and which are very valuable. Of these despatches it was justly remarked in the Edinburgh Review that no man ever before had the gratification of himself witnessing the formation of such a monument to his glory.In North America matters were still more unprosperous. Lord Loudon had raised twelve thousand men for the purpose of taking Louisburg and driving the French from our frontiers; but he did nothing, not even preventing the attack of Marshal Montcalm, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada, on Fort William Henry, which he destroyed, thus leaving unprotected the position of New York. At the same time, Admiral Holbourne, who was to have attacked the French squadron off Louisburg, did not venture to do it, because he said they had eighteen ships to his seventeen, and a greater weight of metal.详情
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