News of this most extraordinary defeat acted on the French, on all sides, like the concussion of some violent explosion. They fell back and fled in confusion before any enemy appeared. General Clausel, who was advancing from Logro?o with fifteen thousand men, fled back to Saragossa with such precipitation, and thence through the central Pyrenees into France, that he left all his artillery and most of his baggage on the road. The same was the case with General Foy, who fled from Bilbao to Bayonne in hot haste, with General Graham at his heels. Except at San Sebastian and Pampeluna, where the garrisons were soon besieged, the French were scarcely to be found in Spain, except those with Suchet in the south-east.
But the subject was not so easily disposed of. Colonel Barré, in the House of Commons, only three days after Burke introduced his great motion, declared that Burke's measure did not go far enough; that Burke did not mean to interfere with the enormous pensions and overpaid places already in possession; and that he would himself introduce a motion for a Committee of Accounts, to probe all these depths of corruption, and to examine into the army extravagances, which were excessive, and to him unaccountable. Lord North, so far from opposing this motion, declared his surprise that no one had thought of introducing it before, and that he was extremely anxious himself for the reduction of all needless expenditure. The Opposition expressed their particular satisfaction; but they were rather too precipitate, for North made haste to get the business into his own hands; and, on the 2nd of March, was ready with a Bill of his own framing. The Opposition were lost in astonishment; and Barré denounced this perfidious conduct in the Minister in terms of just indignation. The whole Opposition, who found themselves outwitted, declared that the scheme, so far from being intended to relieve the country, was meant to shield existing abuses, and they accordingly resisted it to the utmost. North, however, by his standing majority of myrmidons, carried the Bill through the House; and Sir Guy Carleton, late Governor of Canada, and five others, were appointed Commissioners. Thus the whole motion was in reality shelved.
In the Commons, on the same day, Grenville delivered a message from the Crown, announcing to the House the imprisonment of one of their members during the recess. Wilkes immediately rose in his place, and complained of the breach of that House's privilege in his person; of the entry of his house, the breaking open of his desk, and the imprisonment of his person—imprisonment pronounced by the highest legal authority to be illegal, and therefore tyrannical. He moved that the House should take the question of privilege into immediate consideration. On the other hand, Lord North, who was a member of the Treasury board, and Sir Fletcher Norton, Attorney-General, put in the depositions of the printer and publisher, proving the authorship of No. 45 of the North Briton on Wilkes, and pressing for rigorous measures against him. A warm debate ensued, in which Pitt opposed the proceedings to a certain extent, declaring that he could never understand exactly what a libel was. Notwithstanding, the Commons voted, by a large majority, that No. 45 of the North Briton was "a false, scandalous, and malicious libel," tending to traitorous insurrection, and that it should be burnt by the common hangman.SLAVERY EMANCIPATION FESTIVAL IN BARBADOES. (See p. 368.)
The Greeks had been struggling to emancipate themselves from the tyrannical dominion of the Turks, aided in their war of independence only by the voluntary contributions and personal services of enthusiastic friends of freedom, like Lord Byron. At length, however, the sanguinary nature of the contest, and the injury to commerce by piracy, induced the Great Powers of Europe to interfere in order to put an end to the war. Accordingly, on the 6th of July, 1827, a treaty was signed in London by the Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Russia, for the pacification of Greece. In pursuance of this treaty, a joint expedition, consisting of British, French, and Russian ships, entered the Bay of Navarino on the 20th of October, with the object of compelling the Sultan to concede an armistice, in order that there might be time for effecting an arrangement. The Sultan, Mahmoud, having declined the mediation of the combined Powers, and Ibrahim Pasha having received a large reinforcement of troops from Egypt, he was ordered to put down the insurrection at every cost by land and sea. He had accordingly recommenced the war with fanatical fury. All Greeks found in arms were to be put to the sword, and the Morea was to be laid waste. The combined fleet of the Allies had received orders to demand an armistice, and if this were refused by the Turkish admiral, they were to intercept the Turkish supplies, but not to commit hostilities. When the Turkish fleet met the Allies, the futility of these instructions became evident. They found it ranged at the bottom of the bay, in the form of a crescent. Instead of parleying, the Turks began to fire, and the battle commenced apparently without plan on either side. It soon became general. Admiral Codrington, in the Asia, opened a broadside upon the Egyptian admiral, and soon reduced his ship to a wreck; others in rapid succession shared the same fate. The conflict lasted with great fury for four hours. When the smoke cleared off, the enemy had disappeared, and the bay was strewn with the fragments of their ships. Among the Allies, the loss of the British was greatest, though not large—only 75 men killed and 197 wounded. The catastrophe produced immense excitement at Constantinople, and had the Janissaries (those fierce and bigoted defenders of Mohammedanism whom the Sultan had so recently extirpated) been still in existence, it would have fared ill with Christians in that part of the world. The Sultan demanded satisfaction, which would not be granted, and the European ambassadors left Constantinople. The battle of Navarino occurred at the time when the Duke of Wellington assumed the reins of office, our ambassador having then returned from Constantinople.
At the point at which our former detail of Indian affairs ceased, Lord Clive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had left us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the throne of Bengal, was our mere instrument.The evils of the social state of Ireland were bad enough without being aggravated by the virulence of faction. The result of numerous Parliamentary inquiries, and the observations of travellers from foreign countries, was to present a state of society the most deplorable that can well be imagined in any civilised country under a Christian Government. Many of the lower orders, especially in Munster and Connaught, as well as in mountainous districts of the other provinces, maintained a state of existence the most wretched that can be conceived. They lived in cabins built of mud, imperfectly covered with sods and straw, consisting generally of one room, without any window, with a chimney which admitted the rain, but did not carry off the smoke. They had little or nothing that deserved the name of furniture; their food consisted of potatoes and salt, with milk or a herring sometimes as a luxury; their wages, when they got work, were only sixpence or fourpence a day. They subsisted on small patches of land, which were continually subdivided as the children got married, the population at the same time multiplying with astonishing rapidity. When the potatoes and the turf failed, towards summer, the men went off to seek harvest work in the low lands and richer districts of the country, and in England and Scotland. The women, locking up the doors, set forth with the children to beg, the youngest of the lot being wrapped up in blankets, and carried on their backs. They passed on from parish to parish, getting a night's lodging, as they proceeded, in a chimney corner or in a barn, from the better part of the peasantry and farmers, who shared with them their potatoes, and gave them "a lock of straw" to sleep on. Thus they migrated from county to county, eastward and northward, towards the sea, lazily reposing in the sunshine by the wayside, their children enjoying a wild kind of gipsy freedom, but growing up in utter ignorance, uncared for by anybody, unrecognised by the clergy of any church. The great proprietors were for the most part absentees, who had let their lands, generally in large tracts, to "middlemen," a sort of small gentry, or "squireens," as they were called, who sublet at a rack-rent to the peasantry. Upon these rack-rented, ignorant cultivators of the soil fell a great portion of the burden of supporting the Established clergy, as well as their own priesthood. The tithes were levied exclusively off tillage, the rector or vicar claiming by law a tenth of the crop, which was valued by his "tithe proctors," and unless compounded for in money, which was generally done by the "strong farmers," before the crop left the field, the tenth sheaf must have been set aside to be borne away on the carts of the Protestant clergyman, who was regarded by the people that thus supported him as the teacher of heresy.
On receiving the Emperor Alexander's decisive reply that no terms could be entered into with Napoleon till he had evacuated both Pomerania and Prussia, Buonaparte—who professed to be greatly insulted by the demand—immediately set out from Paris for the northern army, on the 9th of May, and left his passports for the Russian Ambassador, which were delivered two days afterwards. Buonaparte, accompanied by Maria Louisa, proceeded immediately to Dresden, to which place he had invited, or rather summoned, all his allied and vassal monarchs to meet him. There, accordingly, were assembled the Emperor and Empress of Austria—the Empress being the sister of the expelled Duke of Modena, and mother-in-law of the Empress of the French,—the solitary King of Prussia (whose queen had perished under the calumnies and insults of Napoleon), and a crowd of lesser German monarchs. Whilst Napoleon was playing the host to these crowned heads, and treating them to banquets, plays, and operas, he was closeted with his cabinet, still planning fresh humiliations for them when he had utterly extinguished Russia. He declared to them that he should take Galicia from Austria, and Silesia from Prussia. He summoned the Abbé de Pradt, now Archbishop of Malines, and bade him go and promise the Poles the restoration of their kingdom, so as to induce them to follow him in a mass to Russia. "I will," he said, "put all Poland on horseback! I am on my way to Moscow. Two battles there will do the business! I will burn Thoula! The Emperor Alexander will come on his knees; and then Russia is disarmed. All is ready, and only waits my presence. Moscow is the heart of their empire. Besides, I make war at the expense of the blood of the Poles! I will leave fifty thousand of my Frenchmen in Poland. I will convert Dantzic into another Gibraltar."Home we have none!
[See larger version]Mr. Williams, made Baron of the Exchequer 3,300The first Reform Parliament was dissolved by proclamation on the 30th of December, after an existence of only one year and eleven months. This proceeding was regarded by the Reformers as a sort of political sacrilege; a manifest flying in the face of the people; a clear declaration of an intention to destroy popular rights. But the care bestowed on the registries told strongly in favour of the Conservatives at the English elections. The exertions they made to secure a majority were immense. It was believed at the time that the Carlton Club had expended nearly a million sterling in securing the success of their candidates in every possible way in which money could be made available. In the counties and boroughs the Whigs and Radicals lost about 100 seats, but after all the Conservatives could muster only 302 members; against 356. The contests were unusually numerous and severe, but the Reform Act machinery worked so well that the elections were for the most part conducted in a very orderly manner. In many places the closeness of the poll was remarkable. It was a neck and neck race between the rival candidates. In the metropolitan boroughs the Ministerialists were everywhere defeated. Not one of the sixteen seats in this vast centre of influence could the Government, with all its lavish expenditure, obtain. In some of the provincial towns, however—Bristol, Exeter, Newcastle, Hull, York, Leeds, Halifax, and Warrington—a Tory supplanted a Whig. At Liverpool the contest was intensely exciting. During the last hour of polling were seen in every direction vans, gigs, and flies in rapid motion, and the price of a vote rose from ￡15 to ￡25. The result was the return of Lord Sandon, a moderate Tory; Sir Howard Douglas, the other Conservative candidate, being defeated by Mr. Ewart. In Lancashire and Hampshire both the Liberal candidates were defeated. Manchester, Birmingham, Bolton, Sheffield, Preston, and most of the manufacturing towns, returned Liberals. On the whole, the Government had a small majority of the five hundred English members. In Scotland, however, the Reform Act had wrought a complete revolution, and the mass of the electors so long excluded from political power used the privileges they had obtained with great zeal in favour of the party to which they were indebted for their enfranchisement. The whole of the burghs, twenty in number, returned Liberal members. Five of the counties were gained by the Tories and three by the Whigs, where respectively they had formerly failed. Glasgow, whose voice had been neutralised by returning one representative of each party, now returned two Liberals. Serious disturbances took place at Jedburgh when Lord John Scott, the Tory candidate, made his appearance. At Hawick, in the same county, the rioting was still worse. The persons who came to vote for him were spit upon, pelted with stones, and severely struck. In some cases they were thrown into the stream that runs through the town, and subjected to the most shocking indignities, which the judges who afterwards tried the cases declared to be "worse than death itself."
Anne demanded Oxford's resignation. The "dragon," as Arbuthnot styled him, held the White Staff with a deadly grip; but, on the 27th of July, he was compelled to relinquish it, and that afternoon her Majesty stated to the Council her reasons for dismissing him. His confidant and creature, Erasmus Lewis, himself thus records them:—"The queen has told all the Lords the reasons of her parting with him, namely, that he neglected all business; that he was seldom to be understood; that when he did explain himself she could not depend upon the truth of what he said; that he never came to her at the time she appointed; that he often came drunk; lastly, to crown all, that he behaved himself towards her with bad manners, indecency, and disrespect."
It was resolved to make the first attack only on the trade in slaves, not on the whole gigantic subject, with all its widely-ramified interests. Nay, it was deemed prudent by the committees, seeing well that the abolition of the monstrous practice of slave-holding must be a work of many years, in the first place to limit their exertions to the ameliorating of the sufferings of the negroes, in their passage from Africa to the scenes of their servitude. Numerous petitions had now reached the Houses of Parliament on the subject of the trade in and the sufferings of slaves, and a Committee of the Privy Council was procured to hear evidence on the subject. This commenced its sittings on the 11th of February, 1788. Before this committee were first heard the statements of the slave merchants of Liverpool. According to these gentlemen, all the horrors attributed to the slave trade were so many fables; so far from instigating African sovereigns to make war upon their neighbours and sell them for slaves, the oppressions of these despots were so horrible that it was a real blessing to bring away their unfortunate victims. But very different facts were advanced on the other side. On the part of the Liverpool merchants was the most palpable self-interest to colour their statements; on the other, was disinterested humanity. Amongst the gentlemen brought forward to unfold the real nature of the African traffic was Dr. Andrew Sparrman, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Stockholm, who had, with Mr. Wadstr?m, been engaged in botanical researches in Africa. This information put to flight the pleasant myths of the Liverpool traders, and produced a profound impression.
Parliament opened its first sitting on the 9th of October. The rumour of invasion, of course, gave the tone to the king's speech. He recited the leading facts of the conspiracy, and observed that he should the less wonder at them had he in any one instance, since his accession to the throne of his ancestors, invaded the liberty or property of his subjects.详情
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