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Britain had seen her Continental Allies fall away one by one. The time was now approaching when some good allies might have been very useful to herself, if such people were ever to be found. We have seen that, during the American Revolution, the rebellious colonists found admirable allies in the Irish. They had no difficulty in exciting disturbances amongst that ardent Celtic race, and thus greatly to augment our difficulties. No sooner did the French commence the work of revolution than the Irish became transported with admiration of their doings. Not all the bloodshed and horrors of that wild drama could abate their delight in them, and their desire to invite them over to liberate Ireland, as they had liberated Belgium. These views found expression in the north of Ireland, especially in Belfast and other places, where the population was Presbyterian and to a certain extent Republican. The Roman Catholics were inert, and disposed to wait patiently. Ever since the American revolt the necessity of conciliating the Irish had been impressed on the British Government, and many important concessions had been granted them. They had not yet obtained Catholic emancipation, but the public mind was ripening for it, and the chief difficulty was the opposition of the extreme Protestant party in the Irish Parliament. Whatever were the evils which England had inflicted on Ireland, they were nothing compared with those which French fraternity would have perpetrated. But the United Irishmen, as the revolutionaries called themselves, could see nothing of this, not even after all the world had witnessed the French mode of liberating Belgium, and French waggons, guarded by soldiers, were day after day, and month after month, bearing over the Alps the priceless chefs-d'?uvre of the arts from ravaged Italy. In the spring of 1798 the preparations of the French Directory for the invasion of Ireland were too open and notorious to be overlooked by anybody.

"To propose to Parliament no other measure than that during the sitting before Christmas. To declare an intention of submitting to Parliament immediately after the recess a modification of the existing law, but to decline entering into any details in Parliament with regard to such modification.

Whilst the fate of Louis XVI. was drawing to a crisis, the question of danger menaced by the French revolution had been warmly discussed in the British Parliament. The Government had already called out the militia when Parliament met on the 13th of December, 1792. The speech from the throne attributed this to the attempts of French incendiaries to create disturbance in the country, coupled with the doctrines of aggression promulgated by the French Convention, and their invasion of Germany and the Netherlands, which had already taken place. The latter country was overrun with French armies, and Holland, our ally, was threatened. The Address to the Speech, in the Commons, was moved by Mr. Wallace and seconded by Lord Fielding in the same tone. Fox, on the other hand, strongly opposed the warlike spirit of the speech. He declared that he believed every statement in the royal speech was unfounded, though the invasion of Germany and of the Netherlands was no myth. Fox had not yet, despite the horrors perpetrated by the French revolutionists, given up his professed persuasion of the good intentions of that peoplea wonderful blindnessand he recommended that we should send a fresh ambassador to treat with the French executive. Grey and Sheridan argued on the same side; Windham and Dundas defended the measures of Government, declaring that not only had the French forced open the navigation of the Scheldt, the protection of which was guaranteed by Britain, but that they were preparing for the regular subjugation of Holland. Burke declared that the counsels of Fox would be the ruin of England, if they could possibly prevail. He remarked that nothing was so notorious as the fact that swarms of Jacobin propagandists were actively engaged in disseminating their levelling principles in Great Britain, and were in close co-operation with Republican factions. These factions had sent over deputations to Paris, who had been received by the Jacobin society and by the Convention. He read the addresses of Englishmen and Irishmen resident in Paris, and of Joel Barlow and John Frost, deputies of the Constitutional Society of London. Burke said the question was, if they permitted the fraternising of these parties with the French Jacobins, not whether they should address the throne, but whether they should long have a throne to address, for the French Government had declared war against all kings and all thrones. Erskine replied, ridiculing the fears of Burke, and denouncing the prosecution of Paine's "Rights of Man" by Government. The Address was carried by a large majority. Fox, however, on the 14th of December, moved an amendment on the Report; and in his speech he rejoiced in the triumph of the French arms over what he called the coalition of despots, Prussia and Austria. He declared the people of Flanders had received the French with open arms; that Ireland was too disaffected for us to think of going to war; and that it was useless to attempt to defend the Dutch, for the people there would go over to France too. He again pressed on the House the necessity of our acknowledging the present French Government, and entering into alliance with it. He said France had readily acknowledged the Revolution in England, and entered into treaty with[411] Cromwell. Burke again replied to Fox, declaring that France had no real Government at all to enter into terms with. It was in a condition of anarchy, one party being in the ascendency one day, another the next; that such was not the condition of England under Cromwell. There was a decided and settled Republican Government, but a Government which did not menace or overthrow all monarchies around it, any more than Switzerland or the United States of America did now. Dundas reminded the House that we were bound by treaties to defend Holland if attacked, and that we must be prepared for it. Whigs, who had hitherto voted with Fox, now demanded to whom we were to send an ambassadorto the imprisoned king, to the Convention, or to the clubs who ruled the Convention? Fox's amendment was rejected without a division.[See larger version]

Skibbereen was described as "one mass of famine, disease, and death; the poor rapidly sinking under fever, dysentery, and starvation." There, as early as the first week in February, 1847, there was constant use for a coffin with movable sides, in which the dead were borne to the grave, and there dropped into their last resting-place. On the whole, the resignation of this stricken people was something wonderful. Outrage was rare, and the violations of the rights of property were not at all so numerous as might have been expected from persons rendered desperate by hunger; and where such things occurred, the depredators were not those who suffered the severest distress. But as the famine proceeded in its desolating course, and people became familiar with its horrors, the demoralising effects of which we have read in such visitations were exhibited in Ireland also. Next to the French, the Irish have been remarkable for their attention to the dead, as well as for the strength of their domestic affections. They had a decent pride in having a respectable "wake" and funeral when they lost any member of the family; and however great their privations were, they made an effort to spare something for the last sad tokens of respect for those they loved. But now there was no mourning for the dead, and but little attention paid to the dying. The ancient and deep-rooted custom with regard to funerals was "swept away like chaff before the wind." The funerals were rarely attended by more than three or four relatives or friends. Sometimes the work of burial was left entirely to persons hired to do it, and in many cases it was not done at all for five or six days after death, and then it was only by threats and rewards that any persons could be got to perform the dangerous duty.

The prorogation of Parliament, on the 21st of June, liberated both Sir Francis and the unfortunate president of the debating society, Mr. John Gale Jones. On the morning of this day vast crowds assembled before the Tower to witness the enlargement of the popular baronet. There was a great procession of Reformers with banners and mottoes, headed by Major Cartwright, and attended by Mr. Sheriff Wood and Mr. Sheriff Atkins; but as Sir Francis apprehended that there might be some fresh and fatal collision between the military and the people, he prudently resolved to leave the Tower quietly by water, which he effected, to the deep disappointment of the populace. No such excitement as this had taken place, on a question of right between the House of Commons and an individual member, since the days of Wilkes.The charity schools throughout the country were discovered, by the operation of Henry Brougham's Commission, to be monopolised by the landlords of the different parishes and the clergy, and the ample revenues for education embezzled by them. In some such schools there was not a single scholar; in others, as at Pocklington, in Yorkshire, the free grammar school, with an endowment of one thousand pounds a year, had only one scholar. This state of physical and moral destitution was made the more dreary by the equally low state of religion. The Dissenters were on the increase, and, chiefly in towns, were exerting themselves to disperse the Egyptian darkness of this Georgian era, and Methodism was now making rapid progress amongst the working classes, both in town and country. But the preachers of Methodism met with a reception from the country squirearchy and clergy which has no parallel since the days of Popish persecution. They were dragged out of the houses where they preached, kicked and buffeted, hauled through horse-ponds, pelted with mud and stones; and the clergy and magistracy, so far from restraining, hounded on the mob in these outrages. The lives of these preachers, and the volumes of the Wesleyan Magazine, abound in recitals of such brutalities, which, if they had not been recorded there, would not now be credited. What John Wesley and his brother Charles, and George Whitefield suffered, especially in Devonshire and Cornwall, reads like a wild romance.

Our forces in Sicily had an encounter, in the autumn, with those of Murat, King of Naples. Murat was ambitious of driving us out of Sicily, and Ferdinand IV. and his court with us. From spring till September he had an army lying at Scylla, Reggio, and in the hills overlooking the Strait of Messina, but he did not attempt to put across till the 18th of September. Seizing then the opportunity, when our flotilla of gunboats and our cruisers were off the station, he pushed across a body of three thousand five hundred men, under General Cavaignac. These troops were chiefly Neapolitans, but there were two battalions of Corsicans, and they were furnished with an embroidered standard to present to the Corsicans in our service, whom they hoped to induce to desert to them. General Cavaignac managed to land about seven miles to the south of Messina, and attacked the British right wing. Sir John Stuart made haste to bring up other troops to the support of the right, but before he could arrive, Colonel C. Campbell defeated the invaders, taking prisoners a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and forty other officers, with eight hundred men. There was a rapid retreat to their boats by the intruders, but the British pursued and cut to pieces great numbers of them, besides what were killed by the Sicilian peasantry. One boat full of soldiers was sunk as it went off, and the Neapolitans in another deserted to their old king.

Wellington proceeded to put Badajoz into a strong state of defence, but he was soon called off by the movements of Marmont, who, in his absence, had advanced and invested both Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida. Wellington left General Hill to watch the south, which was the more necessary as Soult was in strong force at Seville, and Victor before Cadiz. That general had made a vigorous attack on Tarifa towards the end of December, but was repulsed with much loss by Colonel Skerrett. Hill, who had about twelve thousand men, made a successful attack on some strong forts near Almaraz, on the Tagus, erected by the French to protect their bridge of boats therethus closing the communication between Soult in the south and Marmont in the north. In these satisfactory circumstances, Wellington[27] broke up his cantonments between the Coa and the Agueda on the 13th of June, and commenced his march into Spain with about forty thousand men. Of these, however, one column consisted of Spaniards, on whom he wisely placed little reliance, and his cavalry was small and indifferently officered in comparison with the infantry. Marmont had as many infantry as himself, and a much more numerous and better disciplined cavalry. As Wellington advanced, too, he learned that General Bonnet, with a force upwards of six thousand strong, was hastening to support Marmont. That general abandoned Salamanca as Wellington approached, and on the 17th the British army entered the city, to the great joy of the people, who, during the three years which the French had held it, had suffered inconceivable miseries and insults; not the least of these was to see the usurper destroy twenty-two of the twenty-five colleges in this famous seat of learning, and thirteen out of twenty-five convents. Troops were left in different forts, both in the city and by the bridge over the river Tormes, which forts had chiefly been constructed out of the materials of the schools and monasteries. These were soon compelled to surrender, but not without heavy loss. Major Bowes and one hundred and twenty men fell in carrying those by the bridge. After different man?uvres, Marmont showed himself on the British right, near San Christoval, where he was met by a division under Sir Thomas Graham, who had beaten the French at Barrosa. Fresh man?uvres then took place: Marmont crossing and recrossing the Douro, and marching along its banks, to cut off Wellington from his forces in Salamanca, and to enable himself to open the way for King Joseph's troops from Madrid. This being accomplished, and being joined by General Bonnet, he faced the army of Wellington on the Guare?a. On the 20th of July he crossed that river, and there was a rapid movement of both armies, each trying to prevent the other from cutting off the way to Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo. On that day both armies were seen marching parallel to each other, and now and then exchanging cannon-shots. The military authorities present there describe the scene of those two rival armiesmaking a total of ninety thousand men, and each displaying all the splendour and discipline of arms, each general intent on taking the other at some disadvantageas one of the finest spectacles ever seen in warfare. The next day both generals crossed the river TormesWellington by the bridge in his possession, the French by fords higher up. They were now in front of Salamanca, Marmont still man?uvring to cut off the road to Ciudad Rodrigo. On the morning of the 22nd Marmont, favoured by some woods, gained some advantage in that direction; but Wellington drew up his troops in great strength behind the village of Arapiles, and Marmont extending his left to turn the British right flank, Wellington suddenly made a desperate dash at his line, and cut it in two. Marmont's left was quickly beaten on the heights that he had occupied, and was driven down them at the point of the bayonet. Marmont was so severely wounded that he was compelled to quit the field, and give up the command to Bonnet; but Bonnet was soon wounded too, and obliged to surrender the command to General Clausel, who had just arrived with reinforcements from "the army of the north," of which Wellington had had information, and which induced him to give battle before he could bring up all his force. Clausel reformed the line, and made a terrible attack on the British with his artillery; but Wellington charged again, though the fight was up hill; drove the French from their heights with the bayonet once more, and sent them in full rout through the woods towards the Tormes. They were sharply pursued by the infantry, under General Anson, and the cavalry, under Sir Stapleton Cotton, till the night stopped them. But at dawn the same troops again pursued them, supported by more horse; and overtaking the enemy's rear at La Serna, they drove it inthe cavalry putting spurs to their horses, and leaving the foot to their fate. Three battalions of these were made prisoners. As the French fled, they encountered the main body of Clausel's army of the north, but these turned and fled too; and on the night of the 23rd the fugitives had reached Flores de Avila, thirty miles from the field of battle. The flight and pursuit were continued all the way from Salamanca to Valladolid.The chief seats of the hosiery manufacture are in the counties of Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester. The number of stocking-frames in England in 1821 was under 30,000, showing an increase in thirty years of only 10,000. Mr. Felkin gives an estimate for 1833, which states that there were 33,000 frames in England, producing 3,510,000 dozen stockings a year, and consuming 8,137,000 lbs. of cotton yarn, worsted, and silk, valued at 814,000; the wages for making them amounting to 948,000, and for finishing, 229,000; the total value being little short of 2,000,000 sterling, and the total value of the materials 560,000. The total number of persons employed in the making of stockings was 73,000. The total of fixed capital engaged in the manufacture was 385,000, and of floating capital 1,050,000. The quantity of cotton hosiery goods made in 1833 was estimated by Mr. Felkin to have increased more than fifty per cent. in the preceding twenty years.

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On the 6th of May Lord Pelham communicated to the Lords, and Mr. Addington to the Commons, another message from his Majesty, informing them that he had ordered Lord Whitworth, our Ambassador, to quit Paris immediately, unless he saw a prospect of closing the negotiations with the First Consul within a certain date; and that M. Andreossi, the French Ambassador, had applied for his passport, in order to quit London when Lord Whitworth should quit Paris. In consequence of the uncertainty of the result there was an adjournment, and then a second; but on the 16th of May all suspense was terminated by the announcement of Ministers that Lord Whitworth had quitted Paris, and M. Andreossi London. The papers which had passed between this Government and France, in the late negotiations, were ordered to be produced, and an Order in Council was issued, directing reprisals to be granted against the ships, goods, and subjects of the French Republic, and also for an embargo not only on all French ships in British ports, but on all Dutch vessels, and vessels of any Power under the military rule of France. Britain was once more at war. On the 17th of June the king announced, by message, that, in consequence of the Batavian Republic refusing to order the French troops to quit Hollandwhich, indeed, would have paid no attention to such ordershe had recalled his Ambassador from the Hague and had issued letters of marque and reprisals against that Republic. Thus, we were also at war with Holland. At the same time a demand was made for a grant of sixty thousand pounds, and a pension of sixteen thousand pounds per annum to the Prince of Orange, the ex-Stadtholder, on the plea that he was an exile and destitute; and the grant was voted. Parliament was now daily occupied in passing fresh measures for the defence of the country. It was voted, on the 20th of June, that a reserve army of fifty thousand should be raised by ballot, like the militia; and, indeed, it was no other than the extension of the militia: for during the war this division was to serve only in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. On the 18th of July it was proposed to pass a Bill[489] enabling his Majesty to raise a levy en masse in case of invasion. Pitt strongly supported it, and proposed fresh fortifications on the coasts.

But the great glory of this session was not the exposure of Davison and his fellow thieves, but the stop put to the operations of a much larger class of rascals. The death of Fox had been a sad blow to Wilberforce and the abolitionists, who had calculated on his carrying the prohibition of the slave trade; but Lord Grenville and his Cabinet seemed to have made up their minds to have the fame of achieving the grand object of so many years' exertion for the suppression of the African slave trade. Wilberforce, to his inconceivable joy, discovered that Spencer Perceval, the leader of the Opposition, and his party were willing to co-operate for this purpose. The king and royal family alone remained as adverse to the abolition of slavery as they were to the emancipation of the Catholics. The abolitionists, however, had so imbued the country with the sense of the barbarity and iniquity of the traffic, that royal prejudice could no longer swamp the measure, nor aristocratic apathy delay it. Lord Grenville brought in a Bill for the purpose into[532] the Peers on the 2nd of January, 1807: the 12th was fixed for the second reading. Before this took place, counsel was heard at the bar of the House against the measure, who repeated all the terrible prognostics of ruin to the West Indies and to Britain from the abolition, with which the planters and proprietors of the West Indies, the merchants and slave captains of Liverpool and Bristol, had so often endeavoured to alarm the nation. The emptiness of these bugbears had, however, been now too fully exposed to the people by the lectures, speeches, and pamphlets of the Abolition Society, and Wilberforce had all along merely to use the arguments in Parliament with which they had abundantly furnished him. Lord Grenville now introduced the second reading by an elaborate speech, in which he condensed and summed up these arguments. He was warmly supported by the Duke of Gloucestera liberal exception to his familyby Lords King, Selkirk, Rosslyn, Northesk, Holland, Suffolk, Moira, and the Bishops of Durham, London, and others. The Dukes of Clarence and Sussex as zealously opposed him, as well as Lords Sidmouth, Eldon, Ellenborough, Hawkesbury, St. Vincent, and many others. The second reading was carried, after a debate which continued till five o'clock in the morning, by one hundred against thirty-six. The third reading was also carried with equal ease, and the Bill was brought down to the Commons on the 10th of February. Lord Howick proposed its reading in an eloquent speech, and it was opposed, with the usual prediction of ruin, by Mr. George Hibbert, Captain Herbert, and General Gascoyne, who said the nation was carried away by sentimental cant, the result of an enormous agitation by the Quakers and Saints. The first reading, however, passed without a division, and the second on the 24th of February, by two hundred and eighty-three against sixteen. The House gave three cheers. Seeing the large majority, and that the Bill was safe, Lord Grenville recommended Wilberforce to strengthen it by inserting the penalties, which he did; but they left a great advantage to the slave merchants by allowing them to clear out their vessels from Great Britain by the 1st of May, and gave them time to deliver their human cargoes in the West Indies till the 1st of January, 1808a liberty which was sure to create a great sending out of vessels for the last occasion, and a fearful crowding of them. However, the accursed trade was now doomed, as far as British merchants could go, though it was soon found that it was not so easy to suppress it. When it was seen that the Bill must pass, Lords Eldon, Hawkesbury, and Castlereagh, who had hitherto opposed it, declared themselves in favour of it. It was carried in both Houses by large majorities, and received the royal sanction on the 25th of March. So easily was the Bill passed, at last, that Lord Percy, the day after it had left the Commons, moved in that House for leave to bring in a Bill for the gradual emancipation of the slaves; but this being deemed premature, and calculated to injure the operation of the Bill for the abolition of the trade, and to create dangerous excitement in the West Indies, the motion was discouraged, and so was dropped.[425]



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