C'est le sort le plus beau, le plus digne d'envie!"The defeated party, however, did not give up the idea of the Treaty of Commerce. Another Bill was introduced to modify, or, as it was called, to render the commercial treaty more effectual; but such a host of petitions was presented against it, that it was abandoned. Sir Thomas Hanmer, however, proposed and carried an address to the queen, which was intended to cover, in some degree, the defeat of the Ministers; and, as he had got rid of the Bill itself, he did not hesitate to move for what appeared inconsistent with his proceedings, namely, thanks to her Majesty for the care she had taken of the security and honour of the kingdom by the Treaty of Peace, and also by her anxiety for a Treaty of Commerce; and, further, recommending her to appoint Commissioners to meet those of France, and endeavour to arrange such terms of commerce as should be for the good and welfare of her people. This was laid hold of, as was no doubt intended, in the queen's reply, which assumed this to be a declaration of a full approbation of the Treaty of Commerce, as well as that of Peace; and she thanked them in the warmest terms for their address.
When the intense agitation had in some degree subsided, Fox rose and proposed the mode in which the trial should be conducted, which was that the evidence on both sides should be gone through on each separate charge, and that charge immediately decided, whilst all the facts were fresh in the minds of the lords, who were the judges. But this was opposed by the counsel of Hastings, who knew well the advantage of leaving the decision till the vivid impression of the events was worn off. They succeeded in carrying their object, and when the trial terminated eight years afterwards, the result was quite according to their hopes. The Managers complained loudly, but there was no remedy. Fox, therefore, proceeded to open the Benares case, which occupied five hours. Grey took it up, and completed it the next day. Several succeeding days were employed in reading papers and hearing witnesses, and then Anstruther summed up and commented on the charge.Colonel Campbell did not lose a single man, and had but three wounded, so that it is evident that the flight of the enemy must have been instantaneous and universal. Murat made no further attempt to seize Sicily, though he kept his camp on the heights behind Reggio and Scylla for two years longer.
On the 15th of August Parliament was prorogued by the king in person. The Speech referred to the postponement of a final settlement between Holland and Belgium, which his Majesty regretted. He expressed lively satisfaction at the termination of the civil war in Portugal, and disappointment at the recurrence of disorders in Spain. He alluded with satisfaction to the numerous and important questions that had engaged the attention of Parliament, more especially the amendment of the Poor Laws, and the establishment of a central court for the trial of offenders in the metropolis and its vicinity. The important subjects of jurisprudence and the reform of municipal corporations remained to be considered in the next Session.
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The Irish Reform Bill, which had been introduced by Mr. Stanley, then Irish Secretary, became the subject of debate on the 26th of May, when the second reading was moved by him in a speech of great ability. His main object was to prove that the passing of the measure would not endanger the Established Church in Ireland; and that it would not increase the power of O'Connell, whom, instead of conciliating, he exasperated by the contemptuous and defiant tone of his remarks. As the great question of Reform had been conceded in the English Bill, it was only with regard to matters of detail, and to the extent and nature of the franchise, that the Tories maintained their opposition. The second reading was carried by a majority of 116, the numbers being, for the Bill, 246; against it, 130. O'Connell contended that the Bill was not calculated to benefit Ireland, and he said he was sure it was framed with no good feeling to the country; but, on the contrary, was dictated by narrow and bigoted feeling. He complained that certain classes of the forty-shilling freeholders were not restored by the Reform Bill. He was supported by a moderate and greatly respected Irish statesman, the venerable Sir John Newport, who complained of defects in the measure, especially in the mode of registration, which would go far to neutralise all its benefits. O'Connell's proposal was made on the 13th of June, and was rejected by a majority of forty-nine. The Irish Reform Bill, instead of being the means of conciliation, tending to consolidate the union, and taking away the arguments for Repeal, really furnished O'Connell with fresh fuel for agitation. In a series of letters which he addressed to the Reformers of England, he pointed out the defects of the Irish Bill. He objected to it on the ground that it diminished the elective franchise instead of extending it; that the qualification for a voter was too high; that the registration of voters was complicated; and that the number of Irish representatives was inadequate. The substitution in counties of the ten-pound beneficial interest franchise for the forty-shilling freehold caused the disfranchisement of 200,000 voters. He referred to population to prove the unfairness towards Ireland: thus the county of Cumberland, with a population of 169,681, got two additional members, and returned four to Parliament; while the county of Cork, with a population of 807,366, got no additional member, and sent only two to the Reformed Parliament. A similar contrast was presented between other English and Irish counties.Wellington proceeded to put Badajoz into a strong state of defence, but he was soon called off by the movements of Marmont, who, in his absence, had advanced and invested both Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida. Wellington left General Hill to watch the south, which was the more necessary as Soult was in strong force at Seville, and Victor before Cadiz. That general had made a vigorous attack on Tarifa towards the end of December, but was repulsed with much loss by Colonel Skerrett. Hill, who had about twelve thousand men, made a successful attack on some strong forts near Almaraz, on the Tagus, erected by the French to protect their bridge of boats there—thus closing the communication between Soult in the south and Marmont in the north. In these satisfactory circumstances, Wellington broke up his cantonments between the Coa and the Agueda on the 13th of June, and commenced his march into Spain with about forty thousand men. Of these, however, one column consisted of Spaniards, on whom he wisely placed little reliance, and his cavalry was small and indifferently officered in comparison with the infantry. Marmont had as many infantry as himself, and a much more numerous and better disciplined cavalry. As Wellington advanced, too, he learned that General Bonnet, with a force upwards of six thousand strong, was hastening to support Marmont. That general abandoned Salamanca as Wellington approached, and on the 17th the British army entered the city, to the great joy of the people, who, during the three years which the French had held it, had suffered inconceivable miseries and insults; not the least of these was to see the usurper destroy twenty-two of the twenty-five colleges in this famous seat of learning, and thirteen out of twenty-five convents. Troops were left in different forts, both in the city and by the bridge over the river Tormes, which forts had chiefly been constructed out of the materials of the schools and monasteries. These were soon compelled to surrender, but not without heavy loss. Major Bowes and one hundred and twenty men fell in carrying those by the bridge. After different man?uvres, Marmont showed himself on the British right, near San Christoval, where he was met by a division under Sir Thomas Graham, who had beaten the French at Barrosa. Fresh man?uvres then took place: Marmont crossing and recrossing the Douro, and marching along its banks, to cut off Wellington from his forces in Salamanca, and to enable himself to open the way for King Joseph's troops from Madrid. This being accomplished, and being joined by General Bonnet, he faced the army of Wellington on the Guare?a. On the 20th of July he crossed that river, and there was a rapid movement of both armies, each trying to prevent the other from cutting off the way to Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo. On that day both armies were seen marching parallel to each other, and now and then exchanging cannon-shots. The military authorities present there describe the scene of those two rival armies—making a total of ninety thousand men, and each displaying all the splendour and discipline of arms, each general intent on taking the other at some disadvantage—as one of the finest spectacles ever seen in warfare. The next day both generals crossed the river Tormes—Wellington by the bridge in his possession, the French by fords higher up. They were now in front of Salamanca, Marmont still man?uvring to cut off the road to Ciudad Rodrigo. On the morning of the 22nd Marmont, favoured by some woods, gained some advantage in that direction; but Wellington drew up his troops in great strength behind the village of Arapiles, and Marmont extending his left to turn the British right flank, Wellington suddenly made a desperate dash at his line, and cut it in two. Marmont's left was quickly beaten on the heights that he had occupied, and was driven down them at the point of the bayonet. Marmont was so severely wounded that he was compelled to quit the field, and give up the command to Bonnet; but Bonnet was soon wounded too, and obliged to surrender the command to General Clausel, who had just arrived with reinforcements from "the army of the north," of which Wellington had had information, and which induced him to give battle before he could bring up all his force. Clausel reformed the line, and made a terrible attack on the British with his artillery; but Wellington charged again, though the fight was up hill; drove the French from their heights with the bayonet once more, and sent them in full rout through the woods towards the Tormes. They were sharply pursued by the infantry, under General Anson, and the cavalry, under Sir Stapleton Cotton, till the night stopped them. But at dawn the same troops again pursued them, supported by more horse; and overtaking the enemy's rear at La Serna, they drove it in—the cavalry putting spurs to their horses, and leaving the foot to their fate. Three battalions of these were made prisoners. As the French fled, they encountered the main body of Clausel's army of the north, but these turned and fled too; and on the night of the 23rd the fugitives had reached Flores de Avila, thirty miles from the field of battle. The flight and pursuit were continued all the way from Salamanca to Valladolid.By these endeavours Walpole managed to array a considerable body of the Commons against it. It was introduced on the 8th of December, and Sir John Pakington, Sir Richard Steele, Smith, Methuen, and others joined him in attacking it. Steele made a very powerful speech against it, but the grand assault was that of Walpole. He put out all his strength, and delivered a harangue such as he had never achieved till that day. He did not spare the motives of the king, though handling them with much tact, and was unsparingly severe on the Scottish clauses, and on the notorious subserviency of the Scottish representative peers. He declared that the sixteen elective Scottish peers were already a dead weight on the country; and he asked what they would be when made twenty-five, and hereditary? He declared that such a Bill would make the lords masters of the king, and shut up the door of honour to the rest of the nation. Amongst the Romans, he said, the way to the Temple of Fame was through the Temple of Virtue; but if this Bill passed, such would never be the case in this country. There would be no arriving at honours but through the winding-sheet of an old, decrepit lord, or the tomb of an extinct noble family. Craggs, Lechmere, Aislabie, Hampton, and other Ministerial Whigs supported the Bill; but, in the words of Speaker Onslow, the declamation of Walpole had borne down everything before it, and the measure was defeated by a majority of two hundred and sixty-nine to one hundred and seventy-seven.
Then—by a process of argument so close, so logical, as to amount to a demonstration—Sir Robert Peel meets this objection, and shows that the proposals of the Conservative party afforded no solution of the real difficulty. Granted that the overwhelming sense of the people of Great Britain was against concession, what aid could they afford in the daily, practical administration of the law in Ireland? If seditious libels were to be punished, or illegal confederacies, dangerous to the public peace, to be suppressed, the offenders could only be corrected and checked through the intervention of an Irish jury, little disposed, if fairly selected, to defer in times of political excitement to the authority of English opinion. But the real difficulty to be surmounted was not the violation of the law; it lay, rather, in the novel exercise of constitutional franchises, in the application of powers recognised and protected by the law, the power of speech, the power of meeting in public assemblies, the systematic and not unlawful application of all these powers to one definite purpose—namely, the organisation of a force which professed to be a moral force, but had for its object to encroach, step by step, on the functions of regular government, to paralyse its authority, and to acquire a strength which might ultimately render irresistible the demand for civil equality. If, then, Irish agitation could not be repressed through the action of Irish juries, if the agitators kept strictly within the letter of the law, so that even a conviction by an Irish jury might be pronounced, by the highest legal authorities in England, an Act making trial by jury "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare," how was the public opinion of England and Scotland to be brought to bear in putting down the popular will in Ireland? It could be done only through the Imperial Parliament, by having a law passed to suspend or abolish the Constitution in Ireland. But the existing Parliament could not be got to pass any such measure, for the House of Commons had just voted that the proper way to put down agitation in Ireland was to grant Catholic Emancipation; and that the remedy of establishing civil equality ought to be tried without delay. Was there any hope that a dissolution of Parliament would produce different results? No; for at the general election of 1826, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Devonshire sent representatives to Parliament, a majority of whom voted against the maintenance of Protestant ascendency in Ireland. The members for London, for Liverpool, for Norwich, for Coventry, for Leicester, were equally divided on the question; while the members for Westminster, Southwark, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Preston, Chester, and Derby voted unanimously for concession. Now, the Parliament which assumed this Liberal complexion had been elected in circumstances calculated to call forth the strongest manifestation of Protestant feeling; for it was only the previous year that, after long discussion and a severe contest, the Commons had sent up to the Lords, by a majority of twenty-one, a Bill for the repeal of Roman Catholic disabilities. Then, with regard to Ireland, what would have been the effect of a general election there? Would not the example of Clare have been imitated in every county and borough where the Roman Catholic electors were the majority? And what would have been the effect of such an attempt on the public peace? Probably, to involve the whole island in the horrors of a civil and religious war; to be followed by another penal code.[See larger version]
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If there wanted anything to prove the truth of Lord Wellington's warnings to the Spanish authorities of the undisciplined condition of their armies, and the incompetency of their generals, it came quickly. Whilst they continued to treat him more like an enemy than a friend, and had issued orders throughout the province where he lay, forbidding the sale of provisions and forage for his army, their own armies were again annihilated. The army of Venegas, which had retreated, on the advance of Sebastiani towards Madrid, into the Sierra Morena, had been taken from him, and given to a young, inexperienced man, General Areizaga. Cuesta, also, had been set aside for one still more incapable, a General Eguia, of whom Lord Wellington had already pronounced that he was a fool. Areizaga, instead of maintaining his strong post in the hills, being joined by the greater part of the army of Estremadura, now commanded by Eguia, imagined that he could beat the united forces of Mortier and Sebastiani, and drive them out of Madrid. With fifty thousand men and sixty pieces of artillery he descended from his hills into the open plains of Oca?a, where he was beaten on the 20th of November, with the loss of all his artillery but five guns, his baggage, military chest, provisions, and everything. There was immense slaughter of his soldiers, and the rest fled into the mountains. The Duke del Parque, who was placed for the protection of the line of the Tagus with another large army, was marching to support this intended conquest of Madrid, when, in the month of October, being strongly posted on the heights of Tamames, he encountered General Marchand, and defeated him. Elated by this success, he no longer trusted to hills and strong positions, but, like Areizaga, advanced boldly into the plains, and on the 28th of November he encountered Kellermann at Alba de Tormes, and received a most thorough defeat. His men, both cavalry and infantry, scarcely stayed to cross swords or bayonets with the French, but, flinging down their arms, and leaving all their baggage and artillery behind them, they fled in every direction. Kellerman pursued and cut them down without mercy—according to his own account, killing three thousand men and making three hundred prisoners.
The history of this question of Jewish Emancipation gives proof, as striking as any upon record, of the obstinacy and tenacity of prejudice established by law, although no possible danger could arise to the British Constitution from the admission of the Jews; although Mr. Salomons had been elected Sheriff of London in 1835, and a Bill was passed to enable him to act; although the year after, Mr. Moses Montefiore was likewise elected Sheriff of London, and knighted by the Queen; although in 1846 Jews elected to municipal offices were relieved by Parliament from taking the oaths; although Baron Rothschild and Alderman Salomons had been repeatedly elected by immense majorities; although Bills for emancipating the Jews, the only class of her Majesty's subjects still labouring under political disabilities on account of their religion, were passed year after year by the House of Commons, but were indignantly rejected by the House of Lords. At length, in 1858, the Commons were obliged to admit the Jews by a resolution of their own House, but it was not till 1860 that an Act was passed permitting Jewish members of Parliament to omit from the oath the words "on the true faith of a Christian."SIR ROWLAND HILL, 1847.详情
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