[See larger version]Wellington acquitted himself as well as could be expected in the circumstances. Austria was induced to acknowledge an old debt to Britain, and to pay an instalment. The utmost which she could obtain from the Allies on the slave trade was a reissue of the joint condemnation of the traffic which had been pronounced in 1815 at Vienna, and a special assurance from France that as soon as public feeling would admit, steps would be taken to carry out the treaty with Great Britain. In the discussion of the affairs of Italy the Duke took no part; but the peace which he had urged upon Russia and Turkey was happily concluded, on terms honourable to both. With regard to the struggles for freedom in Spain and other countries, the Duke found the Allied Sovereigns in the worst possible temper. They had no patience with Britain on account of her dissent, however mild, from their policy. "Hence, though England never expressed her approval of the military revolts in Spain and Italy, or even in South America, still, because she declined to be a party to the suppression of the free institutions in which they issued, Austria, Prussia, and Russia spoke of her as the champion of revolutionary principles all over the world."
As he made these professions, he was, from the very commencement of the year 1812, and nearly six months before the avowal of hostilities, drawing the invading force nearer to the frontiers near Detroit. General Hull had a body of two thousand five hundred men ready for the enterprise, well supplied with artillery and stores; and scarcely was the declaration of war made than he hastened over the frontier line and seized on the British village of Sandwich. There he issued a bragging proclamation, calling on the "oppressed" Canadians to abandon the despotism of kingship and become free citizens of free America. To meet the invasion, the British had in Canada only about four thousand regulars, and the militia might number as many more. To make worse of the matter, the Commander-in-Chief, Sir George Prevost, was a very inefficient officer. But Major-General Brock sent orders to the British officers at Fort St. Joseph to attack the American port of Michilimachimac, which he did on the 17th of July, a month after the American declaration of war. The place was taken, with sixty prisoners and seven pieces of artillery. This raised the courage of the Indians in that quarter, who had long thirsted for revenge of the continual injuries received from the Americans, and they called on their different tribes to arm and support the British. At the news of the capture of Sandwich by Hull, Brock sent Colonel Procter to Fort Amherstberg to operate against him. He also followed quickly himself, and found Procter besieging Hull in Fort Detroit, to which he had retreated across the border. By the 10th of August he compelled Hull to surrender with his two thousand five hundred men and thirty pieces of artillery. Not only Fort Detroit and a fine American vessel in the harbour were taken, but, by the capitulation, the whole of the Michigan territory, which separated the Indian country from Canada, was ceded to us, much improving our frontier.This destruction accomplished, the mob marched away to the house of Priestley, which was at Fair Hill, where they utterly burned and destroyed all the invaluable library, philosophical instruments, and manuscripts, containing notes of the doctor's further chemical experiments and discoveries. Fire-engines were called out to prevent the flames of the meeting-houses from spreading to the adjoining houses, but they were not suffered to play on the meeting-houses themselves, nor does any effort appear to have been made to save Priestley's house. The doctor and his family had made a timely retreat. He himself passed the first two nights in a post-chaise, and the two succeeding on horseback, but less owing to his own apprehensions of danger than to those of others. An eye-witness said that the high road for fully half a mile from his house was strewed with books, and that, on entering the library, there were not a dozen volumes on the shelves; while the floor was covered several inches deep with torn manuscripts. This was the work of the night of the 14th of July, and the riots continued from Thursday to Sunday; among the buildings destroyed being the paper warehouse of William Hutton, the historian of the place, and the author of several antiquarian treatises. Hutton was a man who had raised himself from the deepest poverty, for his father was a poor stocking-weaver of Derby. He had found Birmingham without a paper warehouse; had opened one, and, by that shrewdness and carefulness in business, which are so conspicuous in his "Autobiography," and afford a valuable study for young men, had acquired a competence. He was not only an honour to the town by his upright character, and reputation as a self-taught author, but he had been an active benefactor to it. He had been the first to establish a circulating library in the town; was always an advocate and co-operator in works and institutions of improvement, and was the most active and able commissioner of the Court of Requests. His only crime was that of being a Nonconformist, and an advocate of advanced principles.While this was going on, the town of San Sebastian was stormed by the British. Sir Thomas Graham conducted the assault, which was led on by the brigade of General Robinson, bravely supported by a detachment of Portuguese under Major Snodgrass. The place was captured; the French were driven through it to the castle standing on a height, in which they found refuge. Seven hundred prisoners were taken. The British lost two thousand men in the assault—a loss which would have been far greater had a mine, containing one thousand two hundred pounds of gunpowder, exploded, but which was fortunately prevented by the falling in of a saucisson. Many less would have fallen, however, had General Graham allowed shells to be thrown into the town, which he would not, on account of the inhabitants. But the French had not only prepared this great mine, but exploded various other appliances for setting the town on fire. In fact they showed no care for the people or the town. When driven to the castle, after a murderous street fight—in which they picked off our men from behind walls and windows, killing Sir Richard Fletcher, the commanding engineer, and wounding Generals Robinson, Leith, and Oswald, besides slaughtering heaps of our men—they continued to fire down the streets, killing great numbers of the inhabitants besides our soldiers. Yet, after all, they charged Lord Wellington with not only throwing shells into the town, but with setting it on fire, and plundering it. His lordship indignantly repelled these accusations in his letter to his brother, Sir Henry Wellesley. He declares that he himself had been obliged to hasten to his headquarters at Lezaco, on the morning of the 31st of August, but that he saw the town on fire in various places before our soldiers entered it; in fact, the French had set it on fire in six different places, and had their mine exploded scarcely a fragment of the town would have been left, or a single inhabitant alive. The lenity shown to the town by Wellington and Graham, who acted for him, was not used towards their calumniators in the castle. It was stoutly bombarded, and being soon almost battered to pieces about the ears of the defenders, the French surrendered on the 8th of September, two thousand five hundred in number; but the siege of both town and fort had cost the allies four thousand men in killed and wounded. Had the town been, as the French represented, bombarded like the castle, some thousands of English and Portuguese lives would have been spared, but at the expense of the inhabitants.
[See larger version]Lord Wellington had been duly informed of the progress of these man?uvres, and they had given him great anxiety; nor were these the only causes of anxiety which affected him. The British Ministry were so much absorbed with the business of supporting the Allies in their triumphant march after Buonaparte, that they seemed to think the necessity of Lord Wellington's exertions at an end. At the close of 1813 they recalled Sir Thomas Graham and some of his best battalions to send them into Holland. They appeared to contemplate still further reductions of the Peninsular army, and Lord Wellington was obliged to address them in very plain terms to impress them with the vital necessity of maintaining the force in this quarter unweakened. He reminded them that thirty thousand British troops had kept two hundred thousand of Buonaparte's best troops engaged in Spain for five years; that without this assistance Spain and Portugal would have long ago been completely thrown under the feet of the invader, and the Allies of the North would have had to contend against the undivided armies and exertions of Napoleon; that to render his own army inefficient would be at once to release one hundred thousand veterans such as the Allied armies had not had to deal with. This had the proper effect; and as soon as Wellington had obtained the necessary supplies, he resumed his operations to drive Soult from under the walls of Bayonne.
The question of Catholic Emancipation was brought forward on the 3rd of May, by Grattan: it was the last time that he did so, but he had the satisfaction of seeing that the question was rapidly advancing, for it was lost by only two votes. A fortnight afterwards Lord Donoughmore introduced a similar motion, in the hope of surmounting this small difference, but, after a long debate, he found the majority increased against it by thirty-nine votes. The closing contest of the Session was for Parliamentary Reform. Sir Francis Burdett brought on his annual motion, on the 1st of July, for the eighteenth time, but was defeated by one hundred and fifty-three votes against fifty-eight. He was seconded by Mr. George Lamb, younger brother of Lord Melbourne, who, however, did not go the length of annual parliaments and universal suffrage. Even at that day, Joseph Hume was for moderate reform, and Lord John Russell was alarmed at anything further than Triennial Parliaments, and the transferring the franchise from certain corrupt boroughs to others not yet represented. Such were the feeble ideas of Reform amongst its self-constituted leaders. Parliament was prorogued, on the 13th of July, by the Prince Regent in person.
AMERICAN BILL OF CREDIT (1775).In 1821, 7,250,000 lbs. of coffee were consumed by fourteen millions of people in Great Britain. In 1824 the consumption of coffee in the United Kingdom was 8,250,000 lbs., and the duties were—on foreign coffee, 2s. 6d. per lb.; East India, 1s. 6d.; British West India, 1s. per lb. In the same year the consumption was—of foreign coffee, 1,540 lbs.; East India, 313,000 lbs.; West India, about 800,000 lbs. In the following year Mr. Huskisson reduced the duties on these several kinds to 1s. 3d., 9d., and 6d., respectively, which caused a rapid increase in the consumption. In 1840 the consumption was—of East and West India, 14,500,000 lbs.; and of foreign, 14,000,000 lbs. In 1841, 27,250,000 lbs. were consumed by eighteen and a half millions of people. The tea trade with China was used by the East India Company for the purpose of enriching itself by an enormous tax upon the British consumer. During one hundred years it ranged from 2s. to 4s. in the pound excise duty, with a customs duty of 14 per cent., down to a total minimum duty of 12? per cent. The former duty was estimated at 200 per cent. on the value of the common teas. The effect, as might be expected, was an enormous amount of smuggling. The monopoly of the Company was abolished; it was made lawful for any person to import tea by the Act 4 William IV., c. 85; and the trade was opened on the 22nd of April, 1834. The ad valorem duties were abolished, and all the Bohea tea imported for home consumption was charged with a customs duty of 1s. 6d. per lb.; Congou and other teas of superior quality were charged 2s. 2d. per lb., and some 3s. per lb. In 1836 these various duties gave place to a uniform one of 2s. 1d. per lb., which, with the addition of 5 per cent., imposed in 1840, continued till 1851, when the penny was removed. During the last year of restricted trade (1833) our aggregate importations amounted to 32,000,000 lbs.; during the first year of Free Trade, they bounded up to 44,000,000 lbs.; and in 1856 they had attained to 86,000,000 lbs. The average price of tea per lb., including duty, in 1834, was 4s. 4d. In 1821 the total quantity of tea imported into Great Britain was upwards of 31,000,000 lbs., and its value ￡1,873,886; in 1834 the quantity was about 35,000,000 lbs., and the value about ￡2,000,000. In 1837 the quantity was about 40,000,000 lbs.
The whole of London was thrown into great agitation, and Sir John Anstruther that evening, in the House of Commons, was very severe on the Ministers for not taking more decided measures for the protection of the metropolis. The next day the letter of Sir Francis was taken into consideration. Many severe strictures were made on his conduct, and even Whitbread contended that the Speaker's warrant was perfectly legal, and that Sir Francis had done a great injury to the cause of Reform by stirring up a riot in the prosecution of a constitutional question. There was a call for the expulsion of the Radical baronet from the House; but as this would have produced a new election in Westminster, by which he would certainly have been returned afresh, that was prudently abandoned.The Attorney-General, Sir R. Gifford, was then called in, when he proceeded to state the case against the queen. He traced her Majesty's conduct from the time at which she left England, in 1814. Her suite consisted of Lady Charlotte Lindsay and Lady Elizabeth Forbes, and the Hon. Keppel Craven; Sir William Gell and a Mr. Fitzgerald as chamberlains, with Captain Hash as equerry; Dr. Holland as physician; and other persons, in various capacities. She went first to Brunswick, her native place, and thence to Milan, where she remained three weeks. There Bartolomeo Bergami was received into her service as a courier, having been a servant in a similar capacity to a General Picco. The princess went next to Rome, and thence to Naples, where she arrived on the 8th of November, 1814. Her adopted child, William Austin, then only six or seven years of age, to whom she was particularly attached, had been in the habit of sleeping in a bed in the same room with her, while, according to the domestic arrangements that had been adopted, Bergami slept, among other menial servants, at a distance. On the 9th of November, three weeks after his appointment, an apartment was assigned to Bergami near her own bedroom, and communicating with it by means of a corridor. The surprise occasioned by this alteration was increased when the princess directed that the child Austin should no longer sleep in her room. There was an air of hurry, agitation, and embarrassment about her manner which awakened suspicion, which was increased in the morning, according to the story of the witnesses, when they found that her own bed had not been occupied, and instead of summoning her female attendants at the usual time, she remained in the apartment of Bergami until a late hour. Her recent arrival at Naples naturally induced persons of consequence to pay their respects to her, but she was not accessible. The Attorney-General thought their lordships could have no doubt that "this was the commencement of that most scandalous, degrading, and licentious intercourse which continued and increased." The natural effect of this was that Bergami assumed airs of importance, and became haughty and arrogant with the other servants. A few days afterwards the princess gave a masked ball to the person then filling the Neapolitan throne. She first appeared as a Neapolitan peasant, but soon retired to assume another character, taking the courier with her, for the purpose of changing her costume. She then came forth as the genius of history, in a dress, or rather want of dress, of a most indecent and disgusting kind. The Attorney-General referred to a number of facts of a similar kind to those already detailed; also to instances of indelicacy and indecency, in which the queen was said to have indulged in the presence of her attendants and of strangers. On the fourth day, after the conclusion of his address, he proceeded to call his witnesses, and for more than a month the House was occupied in hearing their evidence.
"The Government, if it should determine under existing circumstances to maintain the statutes excluding Roman Catholics from power, must ask for new laws, the old having quite broken down. They must bring in a Bill requiring candidates for seats in Parliament to take at the hustings the oaths of supremacy and allegiance; otherwise they could not prevent Roman Catholics from contesting every vacant county and borough in the United Kingdom, and from becoming ipso facto members of Parliament, should constituencies see fit to elect them. Practically speaking, there might be small risk that either in England or Scotland this result would follow—at least, to any extent. But what was to be expected in Ireland? That every constituency, with the exception, perhaps, of the university and city of Dublin, and of the counties and boroughs of the north, would, whenever the opportunity offered, return Roman Catholics; and that the members so returned being prevented from taking their seats, three-fourths, at least, of the Irish people must remain permanently unrepresented in Parliament. Was it possible, looking to the state of parties in the House of Commons, that such a measure, if proposed, could be carried? For many years back the majorities in favour of repeal had gone on increasing, Session after Session. Even the present Parliament, elected as it had been under a strong Protestant pressure, had swerved from its faithfulness. The small majority which threw out Lord John Russell's Bill in 1827 had been converted, in 1828, into a minority; and among those who voted on that occasion with Mr. Peel, many gave him warning that hereafter they should consider themselves free to follow a different course.详情
Copyright © 2020