类型:奇幻地区:㳡发布:2020-10-30 21:46:13


[58][See larger version]

When the resolutions of the Committee were reported two days afterwards, the debate was renewed with all its vehemence, and Pulteney unveiled another view of the case, which had much real truth and warning in it. "It is well known," he said, "that every one of the public officers have already so many boroughs or corporations which they look on as their properties. There are some boroughs which are called Treasury boroughs; there are others which may be called Admiralty boroughs; in short, it may be said that nearly all the towns upon the sea-coast are already seized upon, and in a manner taken prisoners by the officers of the Crown. In most of them they have so great an influence that none can be chosen members of Parliament but such as they are pleased to recommend. But, as the Customs are confined to our seaports, as they cannot travel far from the coast, therefore this scheme seems to be contrived in order to extend the laws of Excise, and thereby to extend the influence of the Crown over all the inland towns and corporations of England.""Thus," says Thiers, "was effected the first revolution. The Tiers tat had recovered the Legislature, and its adversaries had lost it by attempting to keep it entirely to themselves. In a few days this legislative revolution was completely consummated." But it was not consummated without a violent fermentation of the populace.

When day dawned, Cornwallis saw that the ground he occupied was so favourable that it rendered his inferiority of numbers of little consequence. He therefore drew out his forces for immediate action. Swamps to the right and left narrowed the ground by which the Americans could approach him, and forming his troops into two lines, commanded by Lord Rawdon and General Webster, he attacked the Americans under Gates and quickly put them to the rout. The Virginian militia ran most nimbly, and sought refuge in the woods. Gates himself galloped away believing all was lost, and never halted till he reached Charlotte, about eighty miles off. The only men who fought well were two brigades of regulars under the command of the German, Von Kalb, who kept his ground against the troops of Lord Rawdon for three-quarters of an hour, sustaining repeated charges of the bayonet unmoved; but Von Kalb fell mortally wounded, and the last of the Americans then gave way and fled for their lives in all directions.Lord Wellington did not give the retreating enemy much time for repose; within the week he was approaching Valladolid and Clausel was quitting it in all haste. On the 30th of July Wellington entered that city amid the enthusiastic acclamations of the people. In his haste, Clausel abandoned seventeen pieces of artillery, considerable stores, and eight hundred sick and wounded. The priests were preparing to make grand processions and sing a Te Deum in honour of Wellington's victories, as they had done at Salamanca; but he was much too intent on following up[28] his blows to stay. He was on his march the very next day. He re-crossed the Douro to advance against King Joseph Buonaparte, who had set out from Madrid to make a junction with Marmont, but on arriving at Arevalo Joseph had learnt with amazement of the French defeat, and diverted his march, with twenty thousand men, on Segovia, in order to reinforce Clausel. Wellington left a division to guard against Clausel's return from Burgos, whither the latter had fled, and, collecting provisions with difficulty, he marched forward towards Madrid. Joseph fell back as the British advanced. Wellington was at San Ildefonso on the 9th of August, and on the 11th issued from the defiles of the mountains into the plain on which Madrid stands. On the 12th he entered the capital amid the most enthusiastic cheersJoseph having merely reached his palace to flee out of it again towards Toledo. He had, however, left a garrison in the palace of Buon Retiro; but this surrendered almost as soon as invested, and twenty thousand stand of arms, one hundred and eighty pieces of ordnance, and military stores of various kinds were found in it. These were particularly acceptable; for it can scarcely be credited in what circumstances Wellington had been pursuing his victorious career. We learn this, however, from his dispatch to Lord Bathurst, dated July 28ththat is, very shortly before his arrival at Madrid. After declaring that he was in need of almost everything, he particularises emphatically: "I likewise request your lordship not to forget horses for the cavalry, and money. We are absolutely bankrupt. The troops are now five months in arrears, instead of being one month in advance. The staff have not been paid since February, the muleteers not since July, 1811; and we are in debt in all parts of the country. I am obliged to take the money sent to me by my brother for the Spaniards, in order to give a fortnight's pay to my own troops, who are really suffering from want of money."During the Session of 1764 Grenville imposed several duties on American articles of export, if imported direct from the French, Dutch, and Spanish West Indies. The Americans did not dispute the right of the mother country to impose such duties on the trade of the empire in any quarter; but these imposts, seeing the object of them, were not the less galling. But Grenville did not stop there; he stated, at the time of passing these duties, that it was probable that Government would charge certain stamp duties in America. This was creating a sore place and immediately striking it. The infatuated Minister was contemplating an act of the nature of which neither he nor his colleagues had any conception.

To the north of Boston peninsula, separated from it only by an arm of the sea, called the Charles River, about as broad as the Thames at London Bridge, stands Charlestown, built also on a peninsula, surrounded everywhere by navigable water, except a neck somewhat wider than Boston Neck. On the peninsula of Charlestown were two eminences: the lower one, nearest to Boston, being called Breed's Hill, the higher and more remote, Bunker's Hill. These hills, which commanded Boston, would have immediately attracted the eye of any general of the least talent. But Gage had utterly neglected this most vital point; and, on awaking on the morning of the 17th of June, he suddenly saw the height of Breed's Hill covered with soldiers and military works, as by magic, and the Americans shouting and beginning to fire upon the town and shipping in the harbour.

On the 6th of January there landed at Greenwich an illustrious visitor to the Court on an unwelcome errandnamely, Prince Eugene. The Allies, justly alarmed at the Ministerial revolution which had taken place in England, and at the obvious design of the Tories to render abortive all the efforts of the Whigs and the Allies through the war, from mere party envy and malice, sent over Eugene to convince the queen and the Government of the fatal consequences of such policy. Harley paid obsequious court to the prince as long as he hoped to win him over. He gave a magnificent dinner in his honour, and declared that he looked on that day as the happiest of his life, since he had the honour to see in his house the greatest captain of the age. The prince, who felt that this was a mean blow at Marlborough, replied with a polite but cutting sarcasm, which must have sunk deep in the bosom of the Lord Treasurer, "My lord, if I am the greatest captain of the age, I owe it to your lordship." That was to say, because he had deprived the really greatest captain of his command. The queen, though she was compelled to treat Eugene graciously, and to order the preparation of costly gifts to him as the representative of the Allies, regarded him as a most unwelcome guest, and in her private circle took no pains to conceal it. The whole Tory party soon found that he was not a man to be seduced from his integrity, or brought to acquiesce in a course of policy which he felt and knew to be most disgraceful and disastrous to the peace of Europe; and being fully convinced of this, they let loose on the illustrious stranger all the virulence of the press. Eugene returned to the Continent, his mission being unaccomplished, on the 13th of March.

Refused in this quarter, the people proceeded to hold a meeting without such sanction, and invited Mr. "Orator" Hunt to go down and take the chair. Perhaps they could not have selected a more unsafe guide on the occasion, for personal vanity was Hunt's besetting sin. Hunt, instead of encouraging the very constitutional object of the meetingto petition Parliament for the repeal of the obnoxious lawtreated the petitioning that House as ridiculous, and persuaded the excited people to put their sentiments into the form of a remonstrance to the Prince Regent. The meeting then dispersed quietly; but Hunt found occasion to keep himself in the public eye there a little longer. Some officers of the 7th Hussars, who were posted at Manchester, treated him rudely as he appeared at the theatre, asserting that when "God Save the King" was called for, he hissed. Whether he did so or not, the conduct of the officers answered his purpose of making political capital; he wrote to the Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of York, and then sent his letter to the newspapers. Still more, he wrote to Samuel Bamford to support him in a scheme which was particularly calculated to produce riot and bloodshed, and in this case Bamford did not exercise his usual good sense. At Hunt's suggestionto select a dozen stout fellows, and appear on the evening of the following Monday in the pit of the theatre, armed with stout cudgels, to inflict a summary chastisement on the officers in case of a second demonstration of their feelingsBamford appeared at the time appointed with ten stout, picked fellows, with knotty cudgels, marching along the streets to the theatre. The object was immediately perceived by the people, who crowded to the door of the theatre, completely filling the space in front. But the manager was too prudent to open his theatre in such circumstances. He announced[148] that there would be no performance that evening. Hunt was, therefore, disappointed of a catastrophe in the theatre; but he drove up in a carriage, mounted the box, and addressed the crowd in very exciting tones, declaring that the magistrates desired nothing so much as an opportunity of letting loose the bloody butchers of Waterloo upon themmeaning the 7th Hussars. It was not his fault that all went off quietly.Meanwhile, Lafayette and Bailly, summoned by this strange news, had hurried to the H?tel de Ville, where they found the National Guard and the French Guard drawn up, and demanding to be led to Versailles. The French Guard declared that the nation had been insulted by the Flanders regimentthe national cockade trampled on; and that they would go and bring the king to Paris, and then all should be well. Bailly and Lafayette attempted to reason with them; but they, and thousands upon thousands of armed rabble again collected there, only cried, "Bread! bread! Lead us to Versailles!" There was nothing for it but to comply; and at length Lafayette declared that he would conduct them there. He mounted his white horse, and this second army, about three o'clock in the afternoon, marched in the track of the amazons who had already reached Versailles.

In the face of such facts it was clear that something must be done, even by a Protectionist Ministry, to diminish the effect of the growing belief that bad legislation was at the bottom of the country's difficulties. In the spring men had looked eagerly for the Budget of the new Ministry. It had been bitterly remarked that at the time when Parliament was prorogued there were nearly 21,000 persons in Leeds whose average earnings were only 11-3/4 d. per weekthat in one district in Manchester alone a gentleman had visited 258 families, consisting of 1,029 individuals, whose average earnings were only 7? d. per head a week; and that while millions were in this deplorable condition, the duty on wheat stood at 24s. 8d. a quarter, and Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues demanded four months' leisure at their country abodes before they would permit the Legislature to take the distress of the people into consideration. At length came the meeting of Parliament, at which the Queen in person read the Speech prepared by her Ministers. It acknowledged with deep regret "the continued distress in the manufacturing districts," and that the sufferings and privations which had resulted from it had been "borne with exemplary patience and forbearance." Finally, her Majesty recommended to the consideration of both Houses "the laws which affect the import of corn and other articles." What was the intention of the Ministers was not then known; but it was already understood that, unlike their rivals, who had proposed a fixed duty, the new Government would attempt some modification of the sliding scale. In the account of these transactions which Sir Robert Peel left to be published by his executors after his death, he says:"One of the first acts of the Government over which I presided (the Government of August, 1841) was to propose a material change in the Corn Law of 1828. I brought the subject under the consideration of my colleagues by means of written memoranda, in preference to proposals made verbally. In the first of these memoranda I recommended my colleagues to undertake the revision of the Corn Laws of 1828, as an act of the Government. In the second, after I had procured their assent to the principle of revision, I submitted a proposal in respect to the extent to which such revision should be carried, and to the details of the new law." Then were seen the first symptoms of that estrangement from his party which reached its climax in 1846. Glaring as was the necessity for change, and evident as it was, even to the body of the landowners, that they must choose between the mild reform of Peel and the more objectionable measure of his antagonists, there were members of the Cabinet who would still have held out for no concession. The Duke of Buckingham retired from the Ministry, and the Duke of Richmond refused to allow his son to move the Address.The depth of Walpole's mortification, however, was shown by the vengeance he took on those who had opposed him. This fell with peculiar weight on Lord Chesterfield. Chesterfield had acquired a great reputation by his able management of affairs at the Hague. Since his return he had become Lord Steward of the Household, and a frequent and much admired debater in the House. But Chesterfield was too ambitious himself to stoop patiently to the domineering temper of Walpole. He was said to have thrown out some keen sarcasms at Walpole's Excise Bill, and his three brothers in the Commons voted against it. Only two days after the abandonment of the Bill, as Chesterfield was ascending the staircase at St. James's, he was stopped by an attendant, and summoned home to surrender the White Staff. The same punishment was dealt out to a number of noblemen who acted in concert with him. Lord Clinton, a Lord of the Bedchamber, the Earl of Burlington, Captain of the Band of Pensioners,[64] were dismissed, as well as the Duke of Montrose, and the Earls of Marchmont and Stair from offices held in Scotland. The Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham were, by a most unjustifiable stretch of authority, deprived of their regiments.



But Joseph did not live to see the full extent of the alienation of the Netherlands. He had despatched Count Cobentzel to Brussels on the failure of Trautmansdorff's efforts. Cobentzel was an able diplomatist, but all his offers were treated with indifference. On the last day of 1789 the States of Brabant, in presence of the citizens of Brussels, swore to stand by their new freedoman act which was received by the acclamations of the assembled crowds. They soon afterwards ratified their league with the other States, and entered into active negotiation with the revolutionists of France for mutual defence. On the 20th of February, 1790, Joseph expired, leaving a prospect full of trouble to his brother Leopold, the new Emperor.CHAPTER II. THE REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).

Measures to alter this disgraceful state of things were repeatedly introduced, but as steadily rejected. The collection of tithes seemed to occupy the chief attention of the Established clergy of Ireland, even where they rendered no spiritual services, and eventually led to a state of irritation and of dire conflict between the Protestant incumbent and the Catholic population which did not cease till after the death of George III. The clergyman called in the soldiery to assist him in the forcible levying of tithes, and the bloodshed and frightful plunder of the poor huts of the Irish in this bellum ecclesiasticum became the scandal of all Christendom ere it was ended by the Act of a later reign, which transferred the collection of tithes to the landlord in the shape of rent.ARRIVAL OF THE MAIL COACH. (See p. 420.)On the fifth night of the debate Sir Robert Peel rose to speak in defence of his policy against these attacks of his enemies. It was already ten o'clock, and the House listened to him for three hours. He spoke with remarkable warmth and energy, and overpowered his opponents with the unanswerable truths of political economy, and with humorous demonstrations of the fallacies in which the Protectionist speakers had indulged. In concluding he said, "This night is to decide between the policy of continued relaxation of restriction, or the return to restraint and prohibition. This night you will select the motto which is to indicate the commercial policy of England. Shall it be 'Advance!' or 'Recede'?" The division took place on the 27th (or rather on the 28th) of February, at twenty minutes to three in the morning, when the numbers for the motion were337; against it, 240; leaving a majority for going into committee of 97.


Copyright © 2020