"More than 100 workhouse officers fell victims to the famine fever during this fatal year, which also decimated the ranks of the Catholic clergy of the country. Mr. Trevelyan gives names of thirty English and Scottish priests who sacrificed their lives to their zealous attendance on the immigrant Irish, who carried the pestilence with them in their flight to other portions of the United Kingdom. Pestilence likewise slew its victims in the fetid hold of the emigrant ship, and, following them across the ocean, immolated them in thousands in the lazar houses that fringed the shores of Canada and the United States. The principal business of the time was in meal, and coffins, and passenger ships. A fact may be mentioned which renders further description of the state of the country needless. The Cork Patent Saw Mills had been at full work from December, 1846, to May, 1847, with twenty pairs of saws, constantly going from morning till night, cutting planks for coffins, and planks and scantlings for fever sheds, and for the framework of berths for emigrant ships."
The news of this astonishing cowardice of the soldiery caused great consternation in Paris. Lafayette and Rochambeau wrote complaining of Dumouriez and the Gironde Ministry; the Girondists accused the Jacobins of inciting the troops to this conduct; and the Jacobins blamed the incompetence of the Gironde. The king proceeded to dismiss his Girondist Ministry, and to rule with something like independence. In the early part of July it was known at the Tuileries that the Prussians, having joined the Austrians, had marched on Coblenz, to the number of eighty thousand men, all old soldiers of the great Frederick, and commanded by the Duke of Brunswick, the nephew of Frederick, who had won so much distinction in the Seven Years' War. Marshal Luckner, not deeming himself strong enough to resist this force, had retired upon Lille and Valenciennes. The Court was in high spirits; the queen told her ladies, in confidence, that the Allies would be in Paris in six weeks. The king wrote to the allied camp recommending moderation. In this moment of effervescence appeared the proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick as commander of the allied armies, and in the name of the allied monarchs. This proclamation arrived in Paris on the 28th of July, though it was dated Coblenz, July 25th. It was far from being of the reasonable nature which the king had recommended, and was calculated to do the most fatal injuries to his interests. It stated that the Emperor and the King of Prussia, having seen the manner in which the authority of the King of France had been overturned by a factious people, how his sacred person and those of his family had been subjected to violence and restraint, in which those who had usurped his Government had, besides destroying the internal order and peace of France, invaded the Germanic Empire, and seized the possessions of the princes of Alsace and Lorraine, had determined to march to his assistance, and had authorised himself, a member of the Germanic body, to march to the aid of their friend and ally; that he came to restore the king to all his rights, and to put an end to anarchy in France; that he was not about to make war on France, but on its internal enemies, and he called on all the well-disposed to co-operate in this object; that all cities, towns, villages, persons, and property would be respected and protected, provided that they immediately concurred in the restoration of order. He summoned all officers of the army and the State to return to their allegiance; all Ministers of Departments, districts, and municipalities were likewise summoned, and were to be held responsible, by their lives and properties, for all outrages and misdemeanours committed before the restoration of order; and all who resisted the royal authority, and fired on the royal troops or the Allies, should be instantly punished with all rigour, and their houses demolished or burned. Paris, in case of any injury done to the royal family, was to be delivered up to an exemplary and ever-memorable vengeance; that no laws were to be acknowledged as valid but such as proceeded from the king when in a state of perfect liberty.Meanwhile, Florida Blanca had planned the capture of Minorca. He prevailed on France, though with difficulty, to assist. The Duke de Crillon, a Frenchman, was made commander of the expedition, and on the 22nd of July the united fleets of France and Spain sailed out of Cadiz Bay, and stretched out into the ocean, as if intending to make a descent on England. The main part of the fleet did, in fact, sail into the English Channel. But they did not venture to attack Admiral Darby, and contented themselves with picking up a number of merchant vessels; and again dissensions and disease breaking out, this great fleet separated, and each nation returned to its respective ports, without effecting anything worthy of such an armament. But a lesser portion of this fleet, on coming out of harbour, carrying eight thousand troops, stores, and ordnance, had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, and appeared suddenly before Port Mahon. On the 19th of August the troops were landed near Port Mahon, and, being favoured by the inhabitants, once under the sway of Spain, and good Catholics, they soon invested the fort, and compelled General Murray, who formerly so bravely defended Quebec, to retire to Fort St. Philip, leaving the town of Port Mahon in their possession. Despite the resolute defence of his men, Murray was forced to surrender the island.
In the Peninsula, altogether, the French had upwards of two hundred thousand men, but the force which Massena led against Wellington did not amount to more than sixty thousand, Drouet remaining, for the present, in Spain with eighteen thousand men, and Regnier lying in Estremadura with ten or twelve thousand more. To contend against Massena's sixty thousand veterans, Lord Wellington had only twenty-four thousand British on whom he could rely. He had thirty thousand Portuguese regulars, who had been drilled by General Beresford, and had received many British officers. Wellington had great expectation that these troops, mixed judiciously with the British ones, would turn out well; but that had yet to be tried. Besides these, there were numerous bodies of Portuguese militia, who were employed in defending the fortresses in Alemtejo and Algarve, thus protecting the flanks of Wellington's army.Leave was given to bring in the Bill by a majority of 188; the numbers being 348 for the motion, and 160 against it. This astounding result was the signal for pouring into the House a flood of Protestant petitions, which, in the interval between the first and second reading, amounted to nearly 1,000; but an organisation like the Brunswick Clubs could easily get up any number of petitions. Considering the number of parishes in England, it is surprising, not that the number was so great, but that it was not greater. On the 18th the second reading was carried by a majority of 353 to 180; and on the 30th the third reading by a majority of 320 to 142, giving a majority of 178.The king's speech at the opening of Parliament, and the martial tone of the speeches by the members of both Houses, exceedingly exasperated Napoleon; for though preparing for war he was scarcely ready, and meant to have carried on the farce of peace a little longer. Talleyrand demanded of Lord Whitworth the reason of this ebullition of the British Parliament and of the Press. Lord Whitworth replied, as he had done regarding the comments on the trial of Peltier, that it was the direct result of the insulting articles in the Moniteur, which was known to be the organ of the French Government; whereas, in Britain, the Government had no direct control, either over the speeches in Parliament or over the press. Talleyrand and Whitworth again discussed all the vexed questions of the retention of Malta, the conduct of Colonel Sebastiani in the East, the aggressions of Napoleon in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, in violation of the Treaty of Amiens; and Lord Whitworth declared that all Britain wanted was, that the Treaty should be faithfully carried out on both sides; that we were ready to evacuate Malta, and recall our complaints, on that being done. But this was what Napoleon was resolved never to do, and he therefore resorted to the most extraordinary insults to the British Ambassador. He requested Lord Whitworth to call at the Tuileries at nine o'clock in the evening of the day on which he had had his conference with Talleyrand. Napoleon had, by an assumption of extreme hauteur and impetuosity, frightened the Austrian Ambassador at Campo Formio, and he probably thought of frightening the British one; but Britain had not been beaten like Austria, and such a proceeding could only enrage the British people. In this interview, Buonaparte ran over, in a rapid and excited harangue of two hours' length, scarcely permitting Lord Whitworth to interpose a word of reply, all the alleged causes of dissatisfaction with England; at one moment threatening to invade it, if it cost him his life; at another, proposing that France and England should unite to rule the Continent, and offering to share with it all the benefits of such an alliance. Lord Whitworth replied, as before, that the British Government desired nothing but the bona fide execution of the Treaty of Amiens, and could not for a moment entertain such schemes of aggression and domination as the First Consul proposed to her. He began to comment gravely on the aggressions in Switzerland and Italy, but Buonaparte cut him short angrily, saying those things were no business of his and that he had no right to talk of them. There was a fresh interview with Talleyrand, and fresh notes from him and Andreossi of the same character. A similar though more violent scene occurred at a levee on the 13th of March, in which Napoleon passionately accused Britain of driving France into war. A shrewd observer, Madame de Rémusat, was of opinion that his rage was simulated.
The meeting of the Westminster electors the next day, held in Palace Yard, under the very walls of Parliament, was attended by vast crowds, and the tone of the speakers was most indignant. They justified the letter of their representative to themselves; denounced the conduct of the Commons as oppressive, arbitrary, and illegal, tending to destroy the popular liberties; and they approved highly of the baronet's spirited resistance to the forcing of his house. They called for his liberation, and for that of the unjustly incarcerated Mr. Gale Jones. They drew up a letter to Sir Francis to this effect, to be presented to him in the Tower by the high bailiff of Westminster; and they prepared a petition and remonstrance to the House of Commons in equally spirited terms, which was presented the same evening by Lord Cochrane. The Honourable J. W. Ward, afterwards Lord Dudley and Ward, opposed the reception of the petition as highly indecorous, and as violating the dignity of the House; but Whitbread defended it, and even Canning and Perceval excused, in some degree, the tone of the petition in the circumstances. It was ordered, therefore, to be laid on the table.During the summer a French squadron stretched away across the Atlantic with six sail of the line, and finding our Newfoundland coasts almost wholly unprotected, destroyed and plundered the fishermen's huts and fishing stages, as well as their vessels, and then, returning, picked up a considerable number of our merchantmen at sea, and was lucky enough to make a retreat, by favour of a fog, through our watching squadrons, into Brest. After this clever exploit, they joined the great Brest fleet, which sailed for Ireland on the 15th of December. This consisted of no fewer than forty-three sail, seventeen of them of the line, four frigates, six corvettes and brigs, with six transports. On board the transports were twenty-five thousand men, who had been well tried in the war of La Vendée, and abundance of arms and ammunition, as well as extra arms to put into the hands of the disaffected Irish, for to Ireland the armament was bound. General Hoche, who had terminated the Vendéan war, was appointed to terminate all the woes of Ireland, and convert that sacred island into another French paradise. Besides Hoche, Generals Grouchy, Hombert, and Bruix were attached to the expedition. The fleet sailed out and anchored in Camaret Bay, but no British fleet was visible to intercept them. But no sooner did the armament put out to sea again the next day, than it was assailed by a tempest and the ships were driven different ways. One of them was forced immediately on the Grand Stenet rock, and wrecked—out of one thousand four hundred souls on board only sixty were rescued. Seven ships of the line, and ten of the vessels commanded by Rear-Admiral Bouvet, managed to reach Bantry Bay on the 24th of December, but there the storms continued to batter them. There being no sign of an insurrection, and no other part of the fleet appearing, they sailed back and reached Brest on the 1st of January, 1797. When they were gone, another portion of the fleet arrived in Bantry Bay, but only to be tossed and driven about without rest, to lose several of the ships, and to put back again. As for Hoche, he never saw Ireland; the greater part of the fleet being driven about and swamped in the Channel. Of the forty-three sail, only thirty-one returned, and thousands of the soldiers were drowned in the foundering transports. Sir Edward Pellew, in the Indefatigable, of forty-four guns, and Captain Reynolds, in the Amazon, of thirty-six guns, fell in with the Droits de l'Homme, of seventy-four guns, and after a severe fight close in Audierne Bay, south of Ushant, left her a wreck aground, where, of the one thousand eight hundred men aboard, scarcely more than three hundred were saved, notwithstanding the greatest exertions of the British seamen to rescue them.
Whilst these violent dissensions had sprung up from the French Revolution, Wilberforce and his coadjutors had been active in their exertions to abolish the Slave Trade. Thomas Clarkson, now devoted heart and soul to this object, was, with Dr. Dickson, sent out by the parent Anti-Slavery Society through the country, to call into life provincial societies and committees, and found themselves zealously supported and warmly welcomed by philanthropists, and especially by the Society of Friends. They circulated the evidence taken before the House of Commons' Committee, and made a great impression. On the other hand, the French Revolution proved as antagonistic to the cause of the abolitionists as it had to the friendship of Burke and Fox. The dreadful insurrection in St. Domingo was attributed to the formation of the Society in Paris of Les Amis des Noirs, and many otherwise enlightened men took the alarm, lest similar scenes in our West Indian colonies should be the result of the doctrines of the abolitionists. Few persons could be found willing to entertain the idea of immediate abolition of the trade in slaves; and even Dr. Parr, though a great Whig and adherent of Fox, declared that these Utopian schemes of liberty to blacks were alarming to serious men. Wilberforce was earnestly entreated to reconsider his plan; he was assured that immediate abolition would not pass the Commons, nor even gradual abolition the Lords. Wilberforce, however, could not be deterred from bringing on the question. On the 18th of April he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to prevent the introduction of any more slaves into our colonies. Besides showing the cruelties practised in the collection and transmission of negroes, he brought forward evidence to prove that, so far from this trade being, as had been represented before the Committee of the Commons, the nursery of British seamen, it was their grave. He showed that of twelve thousand two hundred and sixty-three men employed in it, two thousand six hundred and forty-five had been lost in twelve months. This was calculated to produce far less effect than the surrender of hundreds of thousands of negroes, inasmuch as profit and loss was a more telling argument with the slave traders than mere humanity; and they exerted all their influence in defence of their traffic. Wilberforce added that even had this trade really been a beneficial one as regarded mere political economy, there was a smell of blood about it that all the perfumes of Arabia could not disguise. He was ably supported by Fox and Pitt; but, on this occasion, the Prime Minister could not command his large majority; the motion was lost by one hundred and sixty-three against eighty-eight.
Nor were the fears of Cobbett imaginary. The Ministry at this time were such fanatics in tyranny, that they would have rejoiced to have thus caged the great political lion, and kept him in silence. At this very moment they had pounced upon one who was equally clever in his way, and who had, perhaps, annoyed them still more, but whom they did not so much fear to bring into a court of justice. This was William Hone, who had for some time been making them the laughing-stock of the whole nation by his famous parodies. Hone was a poor bookseller in the Old Bailey, who had spent his life in the quest after curious books, and in the accumulation of more knowledge than wealth. His parodies had first brought him into notice, and it did not appear a very formidable thing for the Government to try a secluded bookworm not even able to fee counsel for his defence. His trial did not come on at the Guildhall till the 18th of December, and then it was evident that the man of satirical fun meant to make a stout fight. The judge, Mr. Justice Abbott, and the Attorney-General, Sir Samuel Shepherd, from their manner of surveying the accused, did not apprehend much difficulty in obtaining a verdict against him. But they very soon discovered their mistake. The charge against Hone was for having published a profane and impious libel upon the Catechism, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, thereby bringing into contempt the Christian religion. The special indictment was for the publication of John Wilkes's catechism. The Attorney-General did not very judiciously commence his charge, for he admitted that he did not believe that Hone meant to ridicule religion, but to produce a telling political squib. This let out the whole gist of the prosecution, though that was very well perceived by most people before; and it was in vain that he went on to argue that the mischief was just the same. Hone opened his own defence with the awkwardness and timidity natural to a man who had passed his life amid books, and not in courts; but he managed to complain of his imprisonment, his harsh treatment, of his poverty in not being able to fee counsel, of the expense of copies of the informations against him, and of the haste, at last, with which he had been called to plead. The judge repeatedly interrupted him, with a mild sort of severity, and the spectators were expecting him to make a short and ineffective defence. Hone, on the contrary, began to show more boldness and pertinacity. He began to open his books, and to read parody after parody of former times. In vain Mr. Justice Abbott and the Attorney-General stopped him, and told him that he was not to be allowed to add to his offence by producing other instances of the crime in other persons. But Hone told them that he was accused of putting parodies on sacred things into his books, and it was out of his books he must defend himself. The poor, pale, threadbare retailer of old books was now warmed into eloquence, and stood in the most unquestionable ascendency on the floor of the court, reading and commenting as though he would go on for ever; and he did go on for six hours. He declared that the editor of Blackwood's Magazine was a parodist—he parodied a chapter of Ezekiel; Martin Luther was a parodist—he parodied the first Psalm; Bishop Latimer was a parodist; so was Dr. Boys, Dean of Canterbury; so was the author of the "Rolliad;" so was Mr. Canning. He proved all that he said by reading passages from the authors, and he concluded by saying that he did not believe that any of these writers meant to ridicule the Scriptures, and that he could not, therefore, see why he should be supposed to do so more than they. Nay, he had done what they never did: as soon as he was aware that his parodies had given offence he suppressed them—and that long ago, not waiting till he was prosecuted. They, in fact, were prosecuting him for what he had voluntarily and long ago suppressed. The Attorney-General, in reply, asserted that it would not save the defendant that he had quoted Martin Luther and Dr. Boys, for he must pronounce them both libellous. The judge charged the jury as if it were their sacred duty to find the defendant guilty; but, after only a quarter of an hour's deliberation, they acquitted him.
'Purpurea tollant aul?a Britanni;'详情
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