RETREAT OF THE FRENCH FROM RUSSIA. (See p. 50.)
The question of the Canadian boundary had been an open sore for more than half a century. Nominally settled by the treaty of 1783, it had remained in dispute, because that arrangement had been drawn up on defective knowledge. Thus the river St. Croix was fixed as the frontier on the Atlantic sea-board, but there were five or six rivers St. Croix, and at another point a ridge of hills that was not in existence was fixed upon as the dividing line. Numerous diplomatic efforts were made to settle the difficulty; finally it was referred to the King of the Netherlands, who made an award in 1831 which was rejected by the United States. The question became of increasing importance as the population grew thicker. Thus, in 1837, the State of Maine decided on including some of the inhabitants of the disputed territory in its census, but its officer, Mr. Greely, was promptly arrested by the authorities of New Brunswick and thrust into prison. Here was a serious matter, and a still greater source of irritation was the McLeod affair. McLeod was a Canadian who had been a participator in the destruction of the Caroline. Unfortunately his tongue got the better of his prudence during a visit to New York in 1840, and he openly boasted his share in the deed. He was arrested, put into prison, and charged with murder, nor could Lord Palmerston's strenuous representations obtain his release. At one time it seemed as if war was imminent between England and the United States, but, with the acquittal of McLeod, one reason for fighting disappeared.
Before Buonaparte, therefore, could proceed to Spain, he determined to meet the Czar at Erfurth, in Germany, by their open union to overawe that country, and to bind Alexander more firmly to his interest by granting him ampler consent to his designs on Turkey and on Finland. The meeting took place on the 27th of September, and terminated on the 17th of October. Both Emperors returned in appearance more friendly and united than ever, but each in secret distrusting his ally. Buonaparte, who was now intending in earnest to divorce Josephine, and marry a daughter of a royal house, by whom he might have issue, and thus league himself with the old dynasties, made a proposal for one of the Russian archduchesses, which was evaded by Alexander, on the plea of the difference of religion. Such a plea did not deceive the keen sagacity of Buonaparte; he felt it to result from a contempt of his plebeian origin, and a belief in the instability of his giddy elevation; and he did not forget it. To impress on Europe, however, the idea of the intimate union of the Czar and Buonaparte, they addressed, before leaving Erfurth, a joint letter to the King of Great Britain, proposing a general peace. To this letter Canning answered to the Ministers of Russia and France, that Sweden—against whom the Czar had commenced his war of usurpation—Spain, Portugal, and Sicily, must be included in any negotiations. The French and Russian Ministers, on the contrary, proposed a peace on the principle of every one retaining what they had got. This, Canning replied, would never be consented to; and the two emperors knew that very well, but the letter had served Buonaparte's purpose. It enabled him to tell France and the world how much he was disposed to peace, and how obstinate was Britain; it served to make the world believe in the close intimacy of the Czar and himself. He now hurried back to France, and, opening the session of the Corps Législatif, on the 25th of October, he announced that he was going to Spain to drive the "English leopards"—for such he always absurdly persisted in calling the lions in the royal arms of Great Britain—out of both Spain and Portugal. On the 27th he set out.The news had the most instant effect across the Channel. All hesitation on the part of the French Court to enter into the treaty with the United States disappeared. The American Commissioners, Franklin, Deane, and Lee, were informed that the King of France was ready to make a treaty, claiming no advantage whatever, except that of trade with the States. It was intimated that this proceeding would, in all probability, involve France in a war with Great Britain, but that she would claim no indemnity on that score. The only condition for which she positively stipulated was, that America should, under no temptations, give up its independence, or return under the dominion of England. The two kingdoms were to make common cause, and assist each other against the common enemy. The Americans were to endeavour to make themselves masters of all the British territories that they could, and retain them as their rightful acquisition; the French to obtain whatever islands they could in the West Indies, and retain them. France did not venture to seek back the Canadas or Nova Scotia, well knowing that the Americans would not consent to have them there as neighbours. Neither country was to make peace with England without the other. Lee was to continue at Paris as the first American Ambassador there, and the treaty was to continue some weeks a secret, in order to obtain, if possible, the accession of Spain to it, which, however, they could not do then.
The condition of the Irish poor, and the expediency of a State provision for their support, had long been a subject of anxious consideration with the Imperial Government and the legislature, and also with public men of every party who took an interest in the state of the country. It was at length resolved that something should be done for their regular relief. At the close of 1835 there had been a Poor Law Commission in existence for more than two years, consisting of men specially selected on account of their fitness for the task, and standing high in public estimation, including the Protestant and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin. They were appointed, in September, 1833, "to inquire into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland, and into the various institutions at present established by law for their relief, and also whether any and what further remedial measures appear to be requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor or any portion of them." In July, 1835, they made their first report, in which they refer to the various theories with which they were assailed in the course of their inquiries. "One party attributed all the poverty and wretchedness of the country to an asserted extreme use of ardent spirits, and proposed a system for repressing illicit distillation, for preventing smuggling, and for substituting beer and coffee. Another party found the cause in the combinations among workmen, and proposed rigorous laws against trades unions. Others, again, were equally confident that the reclamation of the bogs and waste lands was the only practical remedy. A fourth party declared the nature of the existing connection between landlord and tenant to be the root of all the evil. Pawn-broking, redundant population, absence of capital, peculiar religious tenets and religious differences, political excitement, want of education, the maladministration of justice, the state of prison discipline, want of manufactures and of inland navigation, with a variety of other circumstances, were each supported by their various advocates with earnestness and ability, as being either alone, or conjointly with some other, the primary cause of all the evils of society; and loan-funds, emigration, the repression of political excitement, the introduction of manufactures, and the extension of inland navigation, were accordingly proposed each as the principal means by which the improvement of the country could be promoted."Through all these arrangements Lord North continued to persist in his resignation. If the king had had any glimmering of what was necessary to save the colonies, he would himself have removed North long ago. But the only man who could take the place with any probability of success, or with any of the confidence of the public, was Lord Chatham, whom the king regarded with increasing aversion. Chatham's pride, which would not stoop an inch to mere outside royalty, feeling the higher royalty of his own mind, so far from seeking office, must himself be sought, and this deeply offended the monarch. Lord North could point to no other efficient successor, and George angrily replied that, as regarded "Lord Chatham and his crew," he would not condescend to send for "that perfidious man" as Prime Minister; he would only do it to offer him and his friends places in the Ministry of Lord North.
Whilst these contentions were going on, Wren had entered fairly on his profession of architect. He built the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, begun in 1663, and completed in 1669; and the fine library of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the beautiful square, Neville's Court, to the same college. He also built the chapels of Pembroke and Emmanuel Colleges, in the same university. In the erection of these, he suffered, from the conceit and conflicting opinions of parties concerned, a foretaste of the squabbles and contradictions which rendered the whole period of the building of St. Paul's miserable. In 1665 he found leisure to visit Paris, and study the magnificent palaces and churches with which Louis XIV. was embellishing his capital. There he got a glimpse of the design for the Louvre, which Bernini, the architect, showed him, but only for a moment; and he was in communication with Mansard, Le Vau, and Le Pautre.
And, for some time, events seemed to justify these apprehensions by the old governing class. Not a plan of Pitt's but failed. His first enterprise was one of that species that has almost universally failed—a descent on the coast of France. Early in September a fleet of sixteen ships of the line, attended by transports and frigates, was despatched to Rochefort, carrying ten regiments of foot, under the command of Sir John Mordaunt. Sir Edward Hawke commanded the fleet, and the troops were landed on a small fortified island named Aix, at the mouth of the Charente. There, in spite of strict orders, the English soldiers and sailors became awfully drunk, and committed shocking excesses and cruelties on the inhabitants. The rumour of this made the forces in Rochefort furious for vengeance; and when the army was to be landed within a few miles of the place in order to its attack, as usual in such cases, the admiral and general came to an open quarrel. Mordaunt betrayed great timidity, and demanded of Hawke how the troops, in case of failure, were to be brought off again. Hawke replied, that must depend on wind and tide—an answer which by no means reassured Mordaunt. General Conway, next in command to Mordaunt, was eager for advancing to the attack; and Colonel Wolfe—afterwards the conqueror of Quebec—offered to make himself master of Rochefort with three ships of war and five hundred men at his disposal. The brave offer was rejected, but the report of it at once pointed out Wolfe to Pitt as one of the men whom he was on the look-out to work with. Howe, the next in command to Hawke, proposed to batter down the fort of Fouras before advancing on Rochefort; but Mordaunt adopted the resort of all timid commanders—a council of war—which wasted the time in which the assault should have been made, and then it was declared useless to attempt it; the fortifications of Aix were destroyed, and the fleet put back. Mordaunt, like Byng, was brought before a court-martial, but with very different results. He was honourably acquitted—perhaps, under the atrocious 12th Article of War, the Court feared even to censure; and it was said by the people that Byng was shot for not doing enough, and Mordaunt acquitted for doing nothing at all.After these transactions there could no longer remain even the name of peace between France and England. Mr. Thompson, the British Resident at Paris, made the most indignant complaints of the hostile proceedings of the French fleets and of the encouragement of the Young Pretender. The reply to this was a formal declaration of war, couched in the most offensive terms, in the month of March, to which George replied in a counter-declaration equally strong.
On the 13th of April the Speaker read to the House a notice which he had received, that a bill would be filed against him, in the Court of King's Bench, to try the validity of his warrant in this case, and the House ordered the letter and the notice to be entered on the Journals. On the 16th Sir Samuel Romilly moved for the discharge of Gale Jones; but Windham observed that a meeting of the electors of Westminster was announced for the morrow, to take into consideration the case of their representative, and that to liberate Jones at that moment would be sure to be attributed to fear on the part of the Commons. The motion was, therefore, rejected.At the sight of Byng sailing away, the French fired a feu de joie from all their lines, and Blakeney knew that he was left to his fate. He determined still to defend the place, but Richelieu sent in haste to Toulon for fresh reinforcements. The fort was soon surrounded by twenty thousand men, with eighty-five pieces of artillery. In about a week Richelieu carried one of the breaches by storm, though with great loss, and Blakeney capitulated on condition that the English should march out with all the honours of war, and should be conveyed in the French ships to Gibraltar. Thus was Minorca lost to England through the shameful neglect of a miserably incompetent Ministry and a faint-hearted admiral.For some time after the revival of true poetry the old forms still hung about what in spirit was new. The last of the old school of any note may be said to have been Dr. Johnson and Dr. Darwin. Johnson was too thoroughly drilled into the dry, didactic fashion of the artificial past, he was too bigotedly self-willed to be capable of participating in the renovation. In fact, he never was more than a good versifier, one of that class who can win prizes for University themes on the true line and square system of metrical composition. His "London," a mere paraphrase of the third book of "Juvenal," and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" are precisely of that stamp. Johnson lived at the time of Chatterton's appearance, but he completely ignored him, and he ridiculed the simplicity of the poems introduced by Bishop Percy by absurd parodies on them, as—
On the 4th of May, 1789, Versailles was crowded by immense masses of people from Paris and the country round, to see the grand procession of the deputies of the three Orders advancing from the church of Notre Dame to that of St. Louis. The whole of the costumes, the order of march, and the spectacle had been carefully studied by the Court, so as to impress deeply the distinctions of the three Orders, and to humiliate the Tiers état. The evening before, the deputies had waited on the king, and even then he had greatly incensed those of the Tiers état who came most favourably disposed to him. Even whilst he hoped to obtain essential advantages from the people against the presumption of the privileged orders, Louis or his advisers could not refrain from humiliating the Third Estate. Instead of receiving the deputies in one body, they had been carefully separated; the clergy were received first, the nobles next, and then, not till after a considerable pause, the Tiers état. Now, on the great morning, all Paris and the vicinity—thousands from distant towns—was astir. The streets of Versailles were lined with French and Swiss guards and made gay with garlands of flowers, and from the windows hung rich tapestries. The balconies and windows were crowded with spectators of all ages and both sexes—the handsomest ladies gorgeously attired. The deputies, instead of one thousand, amounted to one thousand two hundred. First marched the members of the Tiers état, six hundred in number, all clad in plain black mantles, white cravats, and slouched hats. Next went the nobles in black coats, but the other garments of cloth of gold, silk cloak, lace cravat, plumed hat turned up à la Henry IV.; then the clergy, in surplice, with mantle, and square cap; the bishops in their purple robes, with their rochets. Last came the Court, all ablaze with jewels and splendid robes; the king in good spirits, the queen anxious, and dimly conscious even then of the miseries that were to follow. Her eldest son, the Dauphin, was lying at the point of death in the palace, and her reputation was being daily murdered by atrocious calumnies. Yet still Marie Antoinette, the daughter of the great Maria Theresa, the once light-hearted, always kind and amiable woman, was the perfect queen in her stately beauty. Two things were remarked—the absence of Siéyès, and the presence of Mirabeau, two men who had already become popular leaders. Siéyès had not yet arrived; Mirabeau drew all eyes. His immense head of hair; his lion-like appearance, marked by an ugliness quite startling, almost terrifying; the spectators seemed fascinated by his look. He marched on visibly a man; the rest, compared with him, were mere shadows.
For this rebuff, to which he did not even venture an answer, Lord Palmerston speedily obtained a dexterous revenge. Kossuth, Bem, Dembinski, and some thousands of the Hungarian leaders, found refuge at Shumla, within the Turkish frontier. A joint and imperative demand was made by Austria and Russia upon the Sultan to deliver them up. This demand was enforced by two envoys from each Court. The pressure was resisted by the Sultan, who refused to yield to a demand which required him to violate his own honour, the national dignity, the dictates of humanity, and the most sacred rights of hospitality. He took this course at the risk of a rupture with Russia, and though he was pledged by treaty to refuse to shelter both Austrian and Russian malcontents. But he was strongly supported by Lord Palmerston and the French Government, who having gained time by the Sultan's despatch of a special mission to St. Petersburg, ordered the British and French fleets to move up to the Dardanelles and Smyrna. Thereupon the autocratic Powers lowered their tone, Russia demanding only the expulsion of the Poles, Austria the internment of some thirty of the refugees. The refugees were removed to Kutaya, in Asia Minor, where they remained till August 22nd, 1851. On the 1st of September in that year Kossuth left Turkey. On his arrival at Marseilles he was refused permission to travel through France; but he was hospitably received at Gibraltar and Lisbon, and on the 28th of October arrived safely in England, where he was welcomed with unbounded enthusiasm. During these negotiations Palmerston had displayed a courage which raised his reputation both at home and abroad.GIBRALTAR.详情
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