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类型:奇幻地区:发布:2020-10-20 14:18:57

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[See larger version]During the Easter recess, popular meetings were held condemning the conduct of Ministers and calling for Parliamentary Reform. On the meeting of the House again, a very strong petition, bearing rather the character of a remonstrance, was presented from the electors of Middlesex by Mr. George Byng, on the 2nd of May. The Ministerial party declared that the petition was an insult to the House; but the Reformers maintained that not only the language of the petition, but the whole of the unhappy events which had taken place, were the direct consequences of the corrupt character of the representation, and of the House screening from due punishment such culprits as the Duke of York, Lord Castlereagh, etc. The petition was rejected; but the very next day a petition of equal vigour and plainness was voted by the Livery of London, and was presented on the 8th, and rejected too. The House had grown so old in corruption, that it felt itself strong enough to reject the petitions of the people. A memorial was presented also on the same subject from Major Cartwright, one of the most indefatigable apostles of Reform, by Whitbread, and this was rejected too, for the major pronounced the committal of Sir Francis a flagrantly illegal act.

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[72] 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 Germanythus 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 menwith a generosity to which the betrayer of their country had no claimrefused 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.

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He had, however, lost something of his old self-confidence, and the opposition which he had met with from the State, and the alienation of the people, were not exhilarating. Napoleon saw that he must conciliate the French by concessions, but neither his temperament nor his necessities permitted him to do this liberally. He gave nominal freedom to the press, but he bought up the majority of the editors and proprietors; yet, not being able to do this wholly, the opposition spoke bitter things to him and of him, and damaged his cause seriously. He called on Siys, Carnot, and Fouch to assist in framing his constitution; and he gave peerages to Carnot and Siys, and those once stern Republicans accepted them. But, even with their aid, he could not bring himself to grant a free constitution. Nobody believed him to be sincere even in what he did give. The police were as strict as ever, and yet every night the walls of Paris were covered with proclamations of Louis XVIII., forbidding the payment of taxes, and announcing the approach of one million two hundred thousand men.After the reports that had gone abroad, to the effect that the Government were about to settle the question, and that they had even prepared a Bill on the subject, this letter from the Prime Minister to the Roman Catholic Primate was most disappointing. Besides, it was absurd to expect that the subject could be buried in oblivion. The Duke, no doubt, had in his mind the difficulty with the king, and the excitement of Protestant feeling in England, which was exasperated by the violence of the debates in the Catholic Association, and the tone of menace and defiance which that body had assumed. This obstacle was not lessened by the letter in question, the purport of which was communicated to Mr. O'Connell, and also to the Lord-Lieutenant. The latter wrote an admirable letter in reply, which led to serious consequences. On the 22nd of December Dr. Curtis sent him the Duke's letter, and a copy of his own answer to it. He acknowledged that it conveyed information which he had not himself received, though entitled, from his position, to receive it first. He then frankly offered his opinion as to the course which it behoved the Catholics to pursue. He was perfectly convinced that the final and cordial settlement of the question could alone give peace, harmony, and prosperity to all classes of his Majesty's subjects. He advised that the Duke of Wellington should by every means be propitiated; for if any man could carry the measure, it was he. All personal and offensive insinuations should therefore be suppressed, and ample allowance should be made for the difficulties of his situation. "Difficult," said Lord Anglesey, "it certainly is; for he has to overcome the very strong prejudices and the interested motives of many persons of the highest influence, as well as allay the real alarm of many of the more ignorant Protestants." As to burying in oblivion the question for a short time, the Viceroy considered the thing utterly impossible, and, if possible, not at all desirable. He recommended, on the contrary, that all constitutional means should be used to forward the cause, coupled with the utmost forbearance, and the most submissive obedience to the law. Personality offered no advantage. It offended those who could assist, and confirmed predisposed aversion. "Let the Catholic," said his lordship, "trust to the justice of his cause, and to the growing liberality of mankind. Unfortunately, he has lost some friends, and fortified enemies, during the last six months, by unwearied and unnecessary violence. Brute force, he should be assured, can effect nothing. It is the legislature that must decide this great question, and my anxiety is that it should be met by the Parliament under the most favourable circumstances, and that the opposers of Catholic Emancipation shall be disarmed by the patient forbearance as well as by the unwearied perseverance of its advocates."

Parliament again met for a few days, but only to vote Addresses of condolence and congratulation, as a dissolution had been determined on. The Marquis of Lansdowne pointed out that there was not the usual reason for a dissolution which occurred upon a demise of the Crown; but Lord Eldon explained that, at common law, the Parliament died with the Sovereign in whose name it was called; and although, by the statute of William III., it could sit six months longer, it was liable to be dissolved sooner; and constitutionally it ought to be dissolved as soon as public business would allow; so that noble lords who started any business to delay the dissolution would be obstructing the due exercise of the Royal Prerogative. He, as Lord Commissioner, therefore, concluded the Session by delivering the Royal Speech, which deplored the loss of a Sovereign, the common father of all his people, and praised the prudence and firmness with which the Lords and Commons had counteracted the designs of the disaffected.[See larger version]Oxford had sent round a circular to every Whig lord in or near London who had ever belonged to the Privy Council, warning them to come and make a struggle for the Protestant succession. This was one of the most decided actions of that vibratory statesman, and was, no doubt, prompted by his desire to avenge his recent defeat by Bolingbroke, and to stand well at the last moment with the House of Hanover. In consequence of this, the Jacobite Ministers found themselves completely prostrate and helpless in the midst of the strong muster of Whigs. Even the aged and infirm Somers made his appearance, and threw the weight of his great name into the scale. Prompt measures were taken to secure the advent of the new king. Four regiments were ordered to London; seven battalions were sent for from Ostend, where[23] Marlborough was said to have secured their zealous fidelity to the Elector; a fleet was ordered to put to sea to prevent any interruption of his transit, and to receive him in Holland. An embargo was laid on all ports, and Anne the next morning having sunk again into lethargy, the Council ordered the Heralds-at-Arms and a troop of the Life Guards to be in readiness to proclaim her successor. Mr. Craggs was sent express to Hanover to desire the Elector to hasten to Holland, where the fleet would be ready to receive him. The Council also sent a dispatch to the States General, to remind them of the factwhich for a long time and to this moment the English Government appeared itself to have forgottenthat there was such a thing as a treaty, and that by it they were bound to guarantee the Protestant succession. Lord Berkeley was appointed to the command of the fleet, and a reinforcement was ordered for Portsmouth. A general officer was hastened to Scotland, where much apprehension of a movement in favour of the Pretender existed; and, in short, every conceivable arrangement was made for the safe accession of the Protestant king.

MEN OF WAR OFF PORTSMOUTH.Sir John Stuart did not long remain idle at Palermo. At the suggestion of Lord Collingwood, he sent out an expedition to seize on a number of the Ionian Isles, which had been taken possession of by the French, who were calculating on further conquests in that directionnamely, in continental Greece itself. The Warrior, commanded by Captain Spranger, attended by other vessels, carried over one thousand six hundred troops, under command of Brigadier-General Oswald. The troops were half of them British, and half Corsicans, Sicilians, Calabrians, and other foreigners in British pay. They carried with them Signor Foresti and an Ionian Greek as interpreters and agents with their countrymen, many of whom, they were aware, had an indignant hatred of the French domination. They arrived off Cephalonia on the 28th of September, and on the 1st of October, being joined by their transports and gunboats, they anchored in the bay of Zante, and the following morning commenced a landing, under the cover of a brisk fire from some of the ships and gunboats. The land-batteries were soon silenced, and before night the French commander had not only surrendered the castle, but the islands of Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Cerigo. Two of the seven islands remained for the time in the hands of the FrenchSanta Maura and Corfu. But Santa Maura, after a sharp contest, was carried, in the following April, by General Oswald, most brilliantly supported by Lieutenant-Colonel Hudson Lowe, Major Church, and other officers. General Camus, the French commandant, surrendered with his garrison of one thousand men. There remained only Corfu, but this, the most important island of the group, would have required a much stronger force to reduce it; and as it was completely useless to the French, being cut off from all communication with France by our ships, it remained under France till 1814, when, at the Congress of Paris, it was made over by Louis XVIII., and the whole seven islands were declared a republic, under the protection of Great Britain. Such was the origin of our connection with the Ionian Islands, where we maintained a Commissioner and a body of troops, much to the discontent of a party in the islands, who desired to join the kingdom of Greece.

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But the Czarina, though mistress of Oczakoff, was far from the end of her designs. She contemplated nothing but the subjugation of the Turkish empire. For this purpose she determined to excite insurrection in all the tributary states of that empire. Her agents had excited the Montenegrins to an outbreak; they had prepared the Greeks for the same experiment, and the Mameluke Beys in Egypt. She determined to send a powerful fleet into the Mediterranean to co-operate with these insurgents, to seize on the island of Crete, to ravage the coasts of Thrace and Asia Minor, and to force the passage of the Dardanelles, or, if that were not practicable, to blockade them. Thus opening the communication between her forces in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea, she considered that Turkey would lie helpless at her feet. To give the necessary ascendency to her fleet, she had long been encouraging English naval officers to take commands in it. At the famous battle of Chesm, it was the British Admirals Elphinstone, Greig, and others who had made Potemkin victorious. Greig was now at the head of the fleet that was being prepared at Cronstadt for this Mediterranean enterprise. She had also managed to engage eighteen British ships to serve as transports of troops, artillery, and stores.Lord Shannon, for his patronage in the Commons 45,000CHAPTER II. THE REIGN OF GEORGE I.

SLAVERY EMANCIPATION FESTIVAL IN BARBADOES. (See p. 368.)Jellacic, the Ban, or Governor, of Croatia, resolved to hold a Slavonic Diet at Agram on the 5th of June; but it was forbidden as illegal by the Austrian Government, and the Ban was summoned to Innsbruck to explain his conduct to the emperor. He disobeyed the summons. The Diet was held, and one of its principal acts was to confer upon Jellacic the title of Ban, which he had held under the now repudiated authority of the emperor. He was consequently denounced as a rebel, and divested of all his titles and offices. The emperor proceeded to restore his authority by force of arms. Carlowitz was bombarded, and converted into a heap of ruins; and other cities surrendered to escape a similar fate. It was not, however, from disloyalty to the imperial throne, but from hostility to the ascendency of Hungary, that the Ban had taken up arms. He therefore went to Innsbruck early in July, and having obtained an interview with the emperor, he declared his loyalty to the Sovereign, and made known the grievances which his nation endured under the Hungarian Government. His demands were security and equality of rights with the Hungarians, both in the Hungarian Diet and in[579] the administration. These conditions were profoundly resented by the Magyars, who, headed by Count Batthyny and Louis Kossuth, had in 1847 extorted a Constitution from the emperor. It was the unfortunate antipathy of races, excited by the Germanic and Pan-Slavonic movements, that enabled the emperor to divide and conquer. The Archduke Stephen in opening the Hungarian Diet indignantly repelled the insinuation that either the king or any of the royal family could give the slightest encouragement to the Ban of Croatia in his hostile proceedings against Hungary. Yet, on the 30th of September following, letters which had been intercepted by the Hungarians were published at Vienna, completely compromising the emperor, and revealing a disgraceful conspiracy which he appears to have entered into with Jellacic, when they met at Innsbruck. Not only were the barbarous Croatians, in their devastating aggression on Hungary, encouraged by the emperor while professing to deplore and condemn them, but the Imperial Government were secretly supplying the Ban with money for carrying on the war. Early in August the Croatian troops laid siege to several of the most important cities in Hungary, and laid waste some of the richest districts in that country. In these circumstances the Diet voted that a deputation of twenty-five members should proceed at once to Vienna, and make an appeal to the National Assembly for aid against the Croats, who were now rapidly overrunning the country under Jellacic, who proclaimed that he was about to rid Hungary "from the yoke of an incapable, odious, and rebel Government." The deputation went to Vienna, and the Assembly, by a majority of 186 to 108, resolved to refuse it a hearing. Deeply mortified at this insult, the Hungarians resolved to break completely with Austria. They invested Kossuth with full powers as Dictator, whereupon the Archduke resigned his vice-royalty on the 25th of September, and retired to Moravia.Sir John Moore entered Spain under the impression that several brave and victorious Spanish armies were to co-operate with him; but he looked in vain for any such armies. Nay, on the very day of his arrival at Salamanca he heard of the defeat of the Count de Belvedere, near Burgos; and only two days afterwards that general had also been defeated at Espinosa, on the frontiers of the province of Biscay. He demanded from the Junta to know with whom he was to co-operate for the conduct of the campaign, and he was referred to Casta?os. But Casta?os had already lost the confidence of the proud and ignorant Junta, and had little information to give. On the 15th of November the governor of the province announced to him that the French had taken possession of Valladolid, only twenty leagues from Salamanca; from the dormant Mr. Frere he heard nothing. This was startling intelligence; for he had only a small portion of his army yet with him. Sir David Baird was still struggling with the obstructive junta at Corunna, and Sir John Hope was wandering near Madrid with the artillery. Moore began to have a very gloomy idea of the situation, not only of Spain, but of his situation in it. He wrote that there was no unity of action; no care of the juntas to promote it, or to furnish arms and clothing to the soldiers; that he was in no correspondence with the generals of the other armies, and knew neither their plans nor those of the Government. He declared that the provinces around him were not armed; and as for the national enthusiasm of which so much had been said, that he saw not a trace of it; that, in short, the British had no business there; but he would still try to do something, if possible, for the country, since he was there.

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