THE ATTACK ON THE "VILLE DE PARIS." (See p. 292.)
On the 23rd of October Napoleon reached Erfurt, whose fortifications afforded him the means of two days' delay, to collect his scattered forces. As they came straggling in, in a most wretched condition, and without arms, his patience forsook him, and he exclaimed, "They are a set of scoundrels, who are going to the devil! I shall lose eighty thousand before I get to the Rhine!" In fact, he had only eighty thousand men left, besides another eighty thousand in the garrisons in the north of Germany—thus also lost to him. Of his two hundred and eighty thousand men, had utterly perished one hundred and twenty thousand. He sent orders to those in the garrisons to form a junction in the valley of the Elbe, and so fight their way home; but this was not practicable; and in a few months they all surrendered, on conditions. He here dismissed such of the Saxons and Baden troops as remained with him, and offered the same freedom to the Poles; but these brave men—with a generosity to which the betrayer of their country had no claim—refused to disband till they had seen him safe over the Rhine. Murat, with less fidelity, took his leave again, on the plea of raising troops on the frontiers of France to facilitate Napoleon's retreat, but in reality to get away to Naples and make terms for himself.
The Peace of Amiens, instead of turning the attention of Buonaparte to internal improvements, seemed to give it opportunity to range, in imagination, over the whole world with schemes of conquest and of the suppression of British dominion. There was no spot, however remote, that he did not examine on the map with reference to plans of conquest. Louisiana and Guiana, obtained from Spain and Portugal, were viewed as ports whence conquest should advance to Nova Scotia, Canada, the Brazils, Mexico, and Peru. Every station in the West India Isles was calculated as a point for this purpose, and for seizing some day all the British islands there. The Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, the isles of France and Bourbon, the Dutch spice isles, and their settlements in Java, Sumatra, etc., were regarded as a chain of ports which would enable Buonaparte to become master of India. He sent out expeditions, under different officers, to examine every island and region where the British had a settlement, or where he might plant one, to oppose them. One of these expeditions sailed in a couple of corvettes, commanded by Captain Baudin, who was accompanied by a staff of thirty-three naturalists, geologists, savants, etc., the ostensible object being science and discovery—the real one the ascertaining of the exact possessions of Britain, and of the best means of becoming master of them. The head of the scientific staff was M. Péron. On their return their report was published, and it is singular that in this report St. Helena, destined to be the prison of Napoleon, is described in rapturous terms as an earthly paradise.
The whole mode of coming into possession of these papers has something in it revolting to all honourable minds. Franklin, aware of this, insisted that they should not be printed nor made public, but only circulated amongst a select few. But the same motives which had induced Franklin to break his pledged secrecy, operated on the Assembly. They determined to make them public, and therefore pretended that other copies of them had reached them from England, and that they were thus absolved from all conditions of secrecy. This was totally false. The story was invented for the occasion, and the letters, without the name of Whately, to whom they had been addressed, were published by the Assembly. It was left to be inferred by the public, that they had been sent officially to England by the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, and the Assembly voted the writing of them ample evidence of a fixed design on the part of the British Government to destroy the Constitution and establish arbitrary power. A petition was dispatched to be presented by Franklin to the king, calling for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver from their posts. When these letters were read under these false impressions, sentiments were found in them which assumed a wholly exaggerated character, and the flame produced was, as Franklin and the Assembly intended, of the most furious kind.Leipsic is nearly surrounded by rivers and marshy lands, and only, therefore, accessible by a number of bridges. The Pleisse and the Elster on the west, in various divisions, stretch under its walls; on the east winds far round the Parthe; on the south only rise some higher lands. On the 16th of October, at break of day, the Austrians attacked the southern or more accessible side with great fury, headed by Generals Kleist and Mehrfeldt, and were opposed by Poniatowski and Victor. Buonaparte was soon obliged to send up Souham to support these generals. Lauriston also was attacked by Klenau at the village of Liebertvolkwitz. After much hard fighting, Buonaparte ordered up Macdonald, who broke through the Austrian line at the village of Gossa, followed by Murat; Latour-Maubourg and Kellermann galloped through with all their cavalry. Napoleon considered this as decisive, and sent word to the King of Saxony that the battle was won, and that poor dupe and unpatriotic king set the church bells ringing for joy. But a desperate charge of Cossacks reversed all this, and drove back the French to the very walls of the town. In the meantime, Blucher had attacked and driven in Marmont, taking the village of Machern with twenty pieces of cannon and two thousand prisoners. On the side of the Pleisse Schwarzenberg pushed across a body of horse, under General Mehrfeldt, who fell into the hands of the French; but another division, under General Giulay, secured the left bank of the Pleisse and its bridges, and had he blown them up, would have cut off the only avenue of retreat for the French towards the Rhine. Night fell on the fierce contest, in which two hundred and thirty thousand Allies were hemming in one hundred and thirty-six thousand French; for the Allies this time had adopted Buonaparte's great rule of conquering by united numbers.
The King of Prussia was anxious to unite with Russia, and to furnish forty thousand men for the common defence. But all his strongest garrisons were in the hands of France, and Alexander did not advise him to subject his territories to the certain misery of being overrun by the French till the contest in Russia was decided; for Alexander meant to fall back during the early part of the campaign, and could, therefore, lend no aid to Prussia. It was agreed, therefore, that Prussia should afford the demanded twenty thousand men and sixty pieces of artillery to the army of Napoleon, and act according to circumstances. Prussia was also to furnish the French army with all that it required during its march across it, the charge to be deducted from the debt of Prussia to France.Monster meetings, not unaccompanied by disturbance, were held in various places, the most serious of which occurred at Birmingham. The inhabitants of this town had been kept in a state of almost incessant alarm by the proceedings of disorderly persons calling themselves Chartists. Representations to this effect having been sent to the Home Office, sixty picked men of the metropolitan force were sent down to aid the civil authorities in the preservation of peace. They arrived at Birmingham by the railway on Thursday, July 4th, and speedily mustering, they marched two abreast into the Bull Ring, where about 2,000 Chartists were assembled, at nine o'clock in the evening. They endeavoured, at first, to induce the meeting quietly to disperse, but failed in the attempt. They then seized the flags with which Lord Nelson's monument in the centre of the square was decorated, and among which was one that bore a death's head; but the Chartists, who had at first been disconcerted, recaptured them, after a desperate struggle, and broke their staves into pieces, to be used as clubs. A conflict immediately ensued, in which the police, who were armed only with batons, were seriously injured; and the Chartists were retiring in triumph when the 4th Dragoons charged them, by concert, through all the streets leading to the Bull Ring, and they fled in every direction. Further riots ensued, and on the 15th an organised mob attacked the houses in the High Street and Spiral Street. They broke into the warehouses, flinging their contents into the streets. A large pile of bedding was set on fire in the Bull Ring. Windows and shop-fittings were remorselessly demolished by the infuriated multitude. A few minutes past nine o'clock the cry of "Fire!" was raised. Scarcely had the words been uttered when the rioters carried immense heaps of burning materials from the streets, forcing them into the houses of Mr. Bourne and Mr. Legatt. Within a quarter of an hour the flames burst out with awful violence from both houses, amidst the exulting shouts of the rioters. While this work of destruction was going on they had the streets to themselves. The general cry among the inhabitants was, "Where are the military? Where are the magistrates?" At length, about ten o'clock, sixty of the metropolitan police, with a posse of special constables, made their appearance, and rushed upon the rioters sword in hand, causing them to fly in all directions. The dragoons, under the command of Colonel Chatterton, were now discerned galloping down Moore Street, and another squadron at the same moment down High Street, and in five minutes about 300 of the Rifle Brigade marched to the Bull Ring. The inhabitants, feeling like people sore pressed by a long siege, clapped their hands with joy at the approach of their deliverers. The fire engines also came under escort, having been driven away before, and set about arresting the conflagration. In the meantime the cavalry were scouring and clearing the streets and suburbs, and the police were busily engaged bringing in prisoners. About midnight the roofs of the two houses fell in, and about one o'clock the fire was got under. Next day the shops were nearly all closed, the middle classes full of suspicion, and the populace vowing vengeance against the police and the soldiers. A piece of artillery placed at the head of High Street contributed materially to prevent further disturbance. About twenty prisoners were made, and the evidence produced before the magistrates showed the determined purpose of the rioters. When these outrages were the subject of discussion in the House of Lords, the Duke of Wellington said, "That he had seen as much of war as most men; but he had never seen a town carried by assault subjected to such violence as Birmingham had been during an hour by its own inhabitants."
Other English artists of this period were John Riley, an excellent and original painter, who died in 1691; Murray, a Scotsman; Charles Jervas, the friend of Pope, a man much overrated by his acquaintance; and Jonathan Richardson, a much superior artist to Jervas, and author of the valuable "Essay on the Art of Criticism, as it relates to Painting." Thomas Hudson, a pupil of Richardson, and his son-in-law, was an admirable painter of heads, and had the honour of being the instructor of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Henry Cook, like Thornhill, was a decorator, and painted the choir of New College Chapel, at Oxford, and the ceiling of a large room at the New River head. Among other artists of repute there may be named Luke Cradock, a flower and fruit painter; John Wootton, an animal painter; Francis Hayman, an historical painter and designer for book-plates—those for "Don Quixote" being his best; and George Lambert, one of the first English landscape painters of any mark.The situation of Lord Cornwallis was now growing desperate. An attempt to destroy the enemy's batteries failed on the 16th. "At this time," he says, "we knew that there was no part of the whole front attacked in which we could show a single gun, and our shells were nearly exhausted. I had therefore only to choose between preparing to surrender the next day, or endeavouring to get off with the greater part of the troops; and I determined to attempt the latter." Having conceived this desperate scheme of endeavouring to escape, Cornwallis that night wrote to Sir Henry Clinton, in cypher, telling him not to risk fleet or army in the attempt to rescue them. He was sure that something had prevented the fleet from sailing at the time proposed, and he sought to steal away with the bulk of his army, leaving a small number to capitulate for the town. The idea, with such troops of well-mounted cavalry at his heels, was a wild one, and there were other obstacles in the way. He must first ferry his troops across the river to Gloucester, and, as he had not vessels enough to carry all at once, he had sent over part of them, when a violent storm arose, and prevented the return of the boats. This was decisive. With his forces thus divided, Cornwallis had scarcely soldiers enough left to man the guns in York Town, and there was nothing for it but to surrender.The year 1839 will be always memorable for the establishment of the system of a uniform penny postage, one of those great reforms distinguishing the age in which we live, which are fraught with vast social changes, and are destined to fructify throughout all time with social benefits to the human race. To one mind pre-eminently the British Empire is indebted for the penny postage. We are now so familiar with its advantages, and its reasonableness seems so obvious, that it is not easy to comprehend the difficulties with which Sir Rowland Hill had to contend in convincing the authorities and the public of the wisdom and feasibility of his plan. Mr. Rowland Hill had written a pamphlet on Post Office Reform in 1837. It took for its starting-point the fact that whereas the postal revenue showed for the past twenty years a positive though slight diminution, it ought to have shown an increase of ￡507,700 a year, in order to have simply kept pace with the growth of population, and an increase of nearly four times that amount in order to have kept pace with the growth of the analogous though far less exorbitant duties imposed on stage coaches. The population in 1815 was 19,552,000; in 1835 it had increased to 25,605,000. The net revenue arising from the Post Office in 1815 was ￡1,557,291; in 1835 it had decreased to ￡1,540,300. At this period the rate of postage actually imposed (beyond the limits of the London District Office) varied from fourpence to one and eightpence for a single letter, which was interpreted to mean a single piece of paper, not exceeding an ounce in weight. A second piece of paper or any other enclosure, however small, constituted a double letter. A single sheet of paper, if it at all exceeded an ounce in weight, was charged with fourfold postage. The average charge on inland general post letters was nearly ninepence for each letter. In London the letter-boxes were only open from eight in the morning to seven p.m., and a letter written after that hour on Friday did not reach Uxbridge earlier than Tuesday morning.
On the 26th Blucher had nearly annihilated the division of Macdonald. No sooner did he learn the return of Buonaparte to Dresden than he wheeled round upon Macdonald, taking him by surprise, and driving his troops into the rivers Katzbach and Neisse, swollen by the rains. The battle raged the most fiercely near Wahlstadt, and, on the subsidence of the floods, hundreds of corpses were seen sticking in the mud. A part of the French fled for a couple of days in terrible disorder along the right bank of the Neisse, and were captured, with their general, by the Russian commander, Langeron.
In England the Chancellor of the Exchequer had found no difficulty in raising a loan of thirty-six million pounds, and this money was freely devoted to put the armies of the Coalition in motion. Never had such vast armaments been in preparation from the very north of Europe to France. The Congress had removed its locale from Vienna to Frankfort, to be nearer the scene of action. The Emperors of Russia and Austria, and the King of Prussia, were again at the head of their forces. On the side of Switzerland, one hundred and fifty thousand Austrians, who were liberated from Italy by the defeat of Murat, were ready to march into France; another army of the same number directed its course to the upper Rhine. Schwarzenberg was again Commander-in-Chief of Austria. Two hundred thousand Russians, under Barclay de Tolly, were also marching for Alsace, and Langeron, Sacken, and other generals were at the head of other numerous divisions, all under the nominal leadership of the Archduke Constantine. Blucher was already posted in Belgium with one hundred and fifty thousand Prussians; and the army of Wellington, of eighty thousand men, composed of British, and different nations in British pay, occupied Flanders. The contingents of Holland, Sweden, and the smaller German states raised the total to upwards of a million of men, which, if they were not all at hand, were ready to march up in case of any reverses to those first in the field.
Though the genius and services of Pitt to his country have been overrated, he was a man of great and persevering energies, of remarkable talent and conspicuous oratory; but his temperament was cold, proud, self-glorifying, and imperious, without either the deep insight or the comprehensive grasp of genius.Sir W. G. Newcomen, a peerage for his wife, etc.
The English Opposition now began to comment with great vigour on the conduct of affairs. The spirit of that body rose higher, as the imminence of war became greater. Charles James Fox made a motion for a committee to inquire into the causes of the inefficiency of his Majesty's arms in North America, and of the defection of the people in the province of Quebec. He took a searching review of the whole proceedings since 1774, and contended that there was a great lack of ability and management somewhere, either in the Government which planned, or the generals who had to execute the Ministerial orders. His motion, however, was useless, for it was rejected by two hundred and forty to one hundred and four votes.详情
Copyright © 2020