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[See larger version]The Bills were highly necessary, and, on the whole, well calculated to nip in the bud those ever-growing abuses of India and its hundred millions of people which, some seventy years later, compelled Government to take the control out of the hands of a mere trading company, whose only object was to coin as much money as possible out of the country and the folk. But it needed no sagacity to see that the means of defeat lay on the very surface of these Bills. Those whose sordid interests were attacked had only to point to the fact that Parliament, and not the Crown, was to be the governing party under these Bills, in order to secure their rejection. This was quickly done through a most ready agent. Thurlow had been removed by the Ministry from the Woolsack, where he had remained as a steady opponent of all the measures of his colleagues; and it required but a hint from the India House, and he was at the ear of the king. Nothing was easier than for Thurlow to inspire George III. with a deep jealousy of the measure, as aiming at putting the whole government of India into the hands of Parliament and of Ministers, and the effect was soon seen.

[345][565]THE CAPTURE OF THE "CAROLINE." (See p. 446.)

The Ministers, instead of making rational concessions to the demands of the people for Reform, proceeded without delay to fresh aggressions on their liberties. Not contented with the existing suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and with introducing into the Lords a Bill for the protection of the king's person and Government, they passed a law prohibiting all political meetings, and another to extend the law of treason; they recommenced arrests and prosecutions, and sent out shoals of spies and informers, so that all the safeguards of public liberty were completely annihilated. These despotic measures did not pass without energetic opposition and a good deal of violent language from Fox; but all remonstrance was useless against Pitt's majority. Still the alarm of the Government was not allayed. On the 8th of December the king sent a message to both Houses, reiterating his assurance of an earnest desire to negotiate peace with France. The Opposition very properly pointed out that, so far as France was concerned, victorious in its armies, and as anti-monarchical in its government as ever, there were less hopes of any consent on its part to peace than when the Opposition had so repeatedly urged the same measure. In this unsatisfactory state closed the year 1795.This noble independence was in bright contrast to that of Scottish juries. In this very autumn, fresh trials of accused seditionists had taken place at Edinburgh, in which the conduct of Government and the servility of the Scottish juries were equally reprehensible. One Robert Watt, a ruined tradesman of that city, was put upon his trial, on the 14th of August, charged with eighteen overt acts of high treason—in exciting many individuals to arm themselves, and to meet in convention to concoct plans for the overthrow of the Government. But it appeared on the trial that Watt had long been a Government spy, employed to instigate people to these courses, by direct orders from Mr. Secretary Dundas and the Lord Advocate of Scotland. Letters from these gentlemen containing these orders, and proofs of Watt being in the pay of Government for these purposes, were produced by Mr. Henry Erskine, the prisoner's counsel. It was shown unanswerably that he had been encouraged to have arms made and distributed, and to tempt soldiers in Edinburgh. He had been thus employed to mislead and ensnare unsuspecting persons from August, 1792, to October, 1793—more than twelve months; and it was shown that after this the Government had abandoned him, and that he had then joined the Reformers in earnest. Notwithstanding this display of the infamous conduct of the Government, Watt was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Had Sir Home Popham been satisfied with this well-executed piece of service, he would have merited honour; but, this being done, he suggested to Sir David Baird that an expedition might be made with advantage against the Spanish colonies in South America. It was reported—not truly, as it turned out—that these colonies were as poorly defended as they were wealthy. Sir David was weak enough to fall into the scheme, and, without any authority from home, as it would appear, for so important a proceeding, he permitted General Beresford to sail in Sir Home's squadron with a part of his forces. The fleet touched at St. Helena, and took in a few more soldiers, but the whole body did not then amount to more than sixteen hundred. With this contemptible handful of men, the British squadron entered the river La Plata, and landed the troops, on the 24th of June, at a short distance from Buenos Ayres. The few Spanish troops in the city were easily routed, and the place capitulated on the 27th, and Beresford entered and took up his quarters there. But he was not long left at peace. The Spaniards discovering, as a matter of course, the insignificance of the force which had thus rashly surprised the city, collected in sufficient numbers to make prisoners of them all. A French officer in the Spanish service, M. Liniers, landed with a thousand men from Monte Video and Sacramento, and, being joined by the troops of the neighbourhood which had been repulsed by Beresford, appeared before the city on the 10th of July, and summoned the British to surrender. This was the signal for the inhabitants to rise en masse and fall on them. They were prevented from escaping to their ships by the badness of the weather, and were assailed from the windows and doors, and exposed to a general attack in the great square, and were compelled to yield, on condition of being allowed to re-embark; but no sooner had they laid down their arms, than Liniers, who probably looked on them as no better than filibusters, treated them as such, and marched them up the country, where they were rigorously treated. Four hundred of them had perished in this mad attempt. Meanwhile, Sir Home Popham had sent home upwards of a million of dollars, reserving two hundred and five thousand for the pay of the army. There were great rejoicings in London at the news, and at the receipt of the specie. Popham, in his despatches, represented himself as having conquered a great colony, and opened up a wonderful mart for our manufactures; and the Ministry, delighted at the receipt of the dollars, though they had, on first hearing of the scheme, sent out orders to stop the squadron, now, on the 20th of September, issued an Order in Council declaring Buenos Ayres and its dependencies open to our trade. Long before this order could have reached America the whole scene was reversed. Sir Home Popham had, indeed, blockaded the river La Plata, and had attempted to bombard Monte Video, but his ships could not get near enough. In October reinforcements arrived from the Cape and from England, but not in sufficient strength to enable him to do anything decisive. He therefore contented himself with landing troops at Maldonado, and drove the Spaniards from the isle of Gorriti, where he lay to, and waited for greater reinforcements.The Lords had been summoned to discuss a motion by the Duke of Richmond on universal suffrage and annual Parliaments, and Lord Mansfield was to preside in the absence of Lord Chancellor Thurlow. Mansfield had excited the particular resentment of these zealots by having acquitted a Catholic priest charged with the crime of celebrating Mass, and no sooner did he make his appearance than he was assailed with the fiercest yells and execrations. His carriage windows were dashed in, his robe was torn, and he escaped finally into the House with his wig in great disorder, and himself pale and trembling. The Archbishop of York was an object of the particular fury of these Protestants. They tore off his lawn sleeves and flung them in his face. The Bishop of Lincoln, a brother of Lord Thurlow, had his carriage demolished, and was compelled to seek refuge in a neighbouring house, where he is said to have made his way in women's clothes over the roof into another dwelling. The Secretaries of State, Lords Stormont, Townshend, and Hillsborough, were rudely handled. It was found impossible to proceed with the Orders of the Day. The peers retired as best they might, one by one, making their way home on foot, or in hackney coaches, in the dark, and no one was left in the House except Lord Mansfield and a few servants.The style of St. Paul's, and, indeed, of all Wren's churches, is neither Grecian nor Gothic, but Italian, influenced by the fashion which Bernini, the Italian architect of Louis XIV., had introduced into France. It is a class of architecture of which the Grecian is the basis, but which is so freely innovated upon as to leave little general resemblance. In its different parts we have columns and pilasters of every Grecian and, indeed, Roman order, pediments, peristyles, architraves, and friezes, mingled up with windows of all sorts, and all kinds of recesses and projections, the fa?ades and intercolumniations ornamented with festoons, and wreaths, and human masks, and the whole surmounted by a great Eastern dome, and by campaniles partaking of[159] all the compilations of the main buildings. St. Paul's itself is a noble building, notwithstanding the manifest gleanings from the antique and the medi?val, and their combination into a whole which has nothing original but their combination into one superb design. Besides St. Paul's, the rest of Wren's churches are disappointing, and we cannot avoid lamenting that he had lost the sense of the beauty of Gothic architecture, especially when we call to mind the exquisite churches of that style which adorn so many of the Continental cities. Whilst the exteriors of Wren's churches show heavily in their huddled-up situations in London streets, their interiors, in which much more of the Grecian and Roman styles is introduced, are equally heavy, and wanting in that pliant grace which distinguishes the interiors of Gothic cathedrals. Perhaps the noblest work of Wren next to St. Paul's is Greenwich Hospital, which is more purely Grecian, and therefore displays a more graceful and majestic aspect. The Palace of Hampton Court, attached to the fine old Tudor pile of Cardinal Wolsey, is a great square mass, in which the Dutch taste of William is said to have set aside Wren's original design. But surely William did not compel him to erect that (in such circumstances) ponderous barbarism of a Grecian colonnade in the second quadrangle of Hampton Court, attaching it to a Gothic building. In fact, neither Wren nor Inigo Jones appears to have had the slightest sense of the incongruity of such conjunctions. Jones actually erected a Grecian screen to the beautiful Gothic choir of Winchester Cathedral, and placed a Grecian bishop's throne in it, amid the glorious canopy-work of that choir. The return to a better taste swept these monstrosities away.

Astounded by these repeated defections, Louis tried to gather some notion of the state of other bodies and troops about him. He attended a sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, and was received with acclamation; he reviewed twenty-five thousand of the National Guard, and there was the same display of loyalty; he inspected six thousand troops of the line, but there the reception was not encouraging. He finally summoned a council at the Tuileries, and there the generals declared frankly that he had no real means of resisting Buonaparte. This was on the 18th of March, and Louis felt that it was time for him to be making his retreat. At one o'clock in the morning of the 20th he was on his way towards Lille, escorted by a body of Household Troops. It was time, for that very day Buonaparte reached the camp of Mélun, where Macdonald had drawn up the troops to attack him; but Buonaparte threw himself amongst them, attended only by a slight escort of horse, and the soldiers all went over to him with a shout. Macdonald rode back to Paris, and, following the king, assumed the command of the Guard accompanying him. Louis hoped that the troops at Lille, under Mortier, would stand by him; but Mortier assured him of the contrary, and so, taking leave of Macdonald on the frontiers, Louis pursued his way to Ostend and thence to Ghent, where he established his Court. The Household Troops who had accompanied him were disbanded on the frontiers, and in attempting to regain their homes by different routes, most of them were killed, or plundered and abused.The victory of Napoleon over Austria had wonderfully increased his influence with those German States which formed the Confederation of the Rhine. Bavaria, Würtemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, and other of the small princes, especially those on the right bank of that river, were more than ever bound to him, and were prepared to follow him in any wars that he might make against other countries, or even their own fatherland. Whilst some of them received crowns for their unnatural subserviency, several smaller princes were sunk into the condition of mere nobles. The military contingents which he exacted from them amounted to sixty thousand men, and these he soon had in a state of discipline and efficiency very different to that which they exhibited under the old German federation. Under Napoleon they behaved as well as any of his troops, showing that they needed only leaders of activity and talent to make good soldiers of them. Thus France superseded Austria in its influence over all the south-west of Germany. Nor did he stop here. He had created dukes and princes, and resolved also to create kings. These were to be his brothers, who were to be placed on half the thrones of Europe, and set there as vassal monarchs doing homage and service to him, the[524] great emperor of France. He expected them to be the obedient servants of France, or, rather, of himself, and not of the countries they were ostensibly set to govern. He began by making his brother Joseph King of Naples in March, and in June he made his brother Louis King of Holland. He told them that they must never forget that their first duty was to France and to himself. He intended to make his brother Jerome King of Westphalia; but Jerome had married a Miss Paterson, the daughter of an American merchant, and he must have this marriage broken, and a royal one arranged, before he could admit him to this regal honour: he must also wrest part of this territory from Prussia. His sister Pauline, widow of General Leclerc, who perished in St. Domingo, he had now married to the Roman Prince Borghese, and he gave her the Italian duchy of Guastalla. Murat, who had married another sister, he made Grand Duke of Berg and Cleve, and Marshal Berthier he made Prince of Neuchatel. These territories, taken from Prussia, Bavaria, and Switzerland, he conferred, with all their rights and privileges, on these generals. The duchy of Parma he conferred on Cambacérès, and Piacenza on General Lebrun.Anglesey, K.G."

On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, Lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lechmere in a bitter speech in the Commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed with impeachments against the Lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. The impeachments were carried up to the House of Lords on the same day, and on the 19th the accused noblemen were brought before the Peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the Lord Chancellor, when, with the exception of Lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty; and Lord Wintoun was condemned after trial, but several months later he effected his escape from the Tower. Every effort was made to save the prisoners, and they were all reprieved, with the exception of Derwentwater, Kenmure, and Nithsdale. The first two were executed; but the Countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire.During this time foreign painters of various degrees of merit flourished in England. Amongst these were John Baptist Vanloo, brother of the celebrated Carl Vanloo, a careful artist; Joseph Vanaken, a native of Antwerp, who did for Hudson what his countrymen did for Kneller—furnished draperies and attitudes. He worked for many others, so that Hogarth painted his funeral as followed by all the painters of the day in despair. The celebrated battle-painter, Peter Vander Meulen, Hemskerk, Godfrey Schalcken, famous for his candle-light effects, John Van Wyck, a famous painter of horses, James Bogdani, a Hungarian flower, bird, and fruit painter, Balthazar Denner, famous for his wonderfully finished heads, especially of old people, and Theodore Netscher, the son of Gaspar Netscher, all painted in England in the earlier part of the eighteenth century. Boit—a painter of French parentage—Liotard, and Zincke, were noted enamel painters. Peter Tillemans, who painted English landscapes, seats, busts, roses, etc., died in 1734; and the celebrated Canaletti came to England in 1746, and stayed about two years, but was not very successful, the English style of architecture, and, still more, the want of the transparent atmosphere of Italy, being unfavourable to his peculiar talent.

This proclamation was speedily followed by the steady march of soldiers to various quarters. At one moment was heard the loud roar of innumerable voices in the full commission of outrage, and at the next the rattle of musketry and the shrieks of the wounded and dying, followed by a strange silence. The first troops who commenced the bloody duty of repression were the Northumberland militia, who had come that day by a forced march of twenty-five miles, and who were led by Colonel Holroyd against the rioters at Langdale's distillery in Holborn. A detachment of the Guards at the same time drove the mob from the possession of Blackfriars Bridge. Numbers were there killed, or were forced by the soldiers or their own fears over the parapet of the bridge, and perished in the Thames. Where the mob would not disperse, the officers now firmly gave the word of command, and the soldiers fired in platoons. Little resistance was offered; in many quarters the inhabitants, recovering their presence of mind, armed themselves, and came forth in bodies to assist the soldiers. The number of troops now assembled in and around London amounted to twenty-five thousand, and before night the whole city was as quiet—far quieter, indeed—than on ordinary occasions, for a sorrowful silence seemed to pervade it; and besides two hundred men shot in the streets, two hundred and fifty were carried to the hospitals wounded, of whom nearly one hundred soon expired. But these bore no proportion to the numbers who had fallen victims to their own excesses, or who had been buried under the ruins of falling buildings, or consumed in the flames in the stupor of intoxication. The king's decision had saved London.In order to enable the revenue to furnish the required million surplus for the Sinking Fund, Pitt found it necessary to propose to extend the excise laws to foreign wine, which had hitherto been under the jurisdiction of the Custom House. He contended that, on a moderate calculation, the sum lost to the revenue by the frauds in the trade in wine amounted to upwards of two hundred and eighty thousand pounds per annum. To remedy this, and to prevent at once smuggling and the adulteration of wine, the excise officers were to have free access to the cellars of all who sold wine, but not into private ones. To abate that repugnance to the law which excise laws awaken in the public mind, Pitt stated that the change would not amount to more than thirteen thousand pounds a year, and that not more than one hundred and seventy additional officers would be required, who could add little to the influence of the Crown, as they were by law incapable of voting at elections. He carried his Bill with little difficulty through the Commons; but in the Lords, Lord Loughborough made a decided set against it, and pointed out one most shameful provision in it—namely, that in case of any suit against an exciseman for improper seizure, a jury was prohibited giving more damages than twopence, or any costs of suit, or inflicting a fine of more than one shilling if the exciseman could show a probable cause for such a seizure. Lord Loughborough declared justly that this was a total denial of justice to the complaint against illegal conduct on the part of excisemen, for nothing would be so easy as for the excise to plead false information as a probable cause. It was a disgraceful infringement of the powers of juries, and Lord Loughborough called on Lord Camden to defend the sacred right of juries as he had formerly done. Camden was compelled to confess that the clause was objectionable; but that to attempt an alteration would destroy the Bill for the present Session, and so it was suffered to pass with this monstrous provision.VIEW IN OLD PARIS: THE PORTE AU BLé, FROM THE END OF THE OLD CATTLE MARKET TO THE PONT NOTRE DAME. (From a Print by De l'Espinasse in 1782.)


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The other measures of Parliament during this Session were these:—In the House of Lords Lord Holland, and in the Commons Henry Brougham, moved for addresses to his Majesty, exhorting him to persevere in his efforts to induce the Governments of other nations to co-operate in the abolition of the slave trade, and to take measures for putting a stop to the clandestine practice of British subjects yet carrying on this trade in a fraudulent manner, as well as to adopt plans for preventing other evasions of Mr. Wilberforce's Act. Mr. Bankes introduced a motion for rendering perpetual his Bill to prevent the grant of offices in reversion, and such a Bill was passed in the Commons, but rejected in the Lords.On the 9th of August, 1834, a fire broke out in part of the Dublin Custom House, one of the finest buildings in the United Kingdom. Owing to the immense quantity of combustible materials, the fierceness of the conflagration was something terrific. By great exertion the building was saved. This fire naturally produced a great sensation throughout the United Kingdom, but it was nothing in comparison to the interest excited by the burning of the two Houses of Parliament, which occurred on the 16th of October, 1834. According to the report of the Lords of the Privy Council, who inquired into the cause of the fire, the tally-room of the exchequer had been required for the temporary accommodation of the Court of Bankruptcy, and it was necessary to get rid of a quantity of the old exchequer tallies, which had accumulated till they would have made about two cartloads. These tallies had been used for kindling the fires. On one occasion a quantity of them was burned in Tothill Fields. There had been a question as to the best mode of getting rid of them, and it was ultimately resolved that they should be carefully and gradually consumed in the stoves of the House of Lords. But the work had been committed to workmen who were the reverse of careful. They heaped on the fuel, nearly filling the furnaces, and causing a blaze which overheated the flues. The housekeeper of the Lords' chamber sent to them several times during the day, complaining of the smoke and heat, but they assured her there was no danger. About four o'clock in the afternoon two strangers were admitted to see the House of Lords, and found the heat and smoke so stifling, that they were led to examine the floor, when they perceived that the floor-cloth was "sweating." At six o'clock the pent-up flames broke forth through the windows, and immediately the alarm was spread in all directions. The Ministers, the king's sons, Mr. Hume, and others, were presently on the spot, and did all they could in the consternation and confusion. The law courts were saved by having their roofs stripped off, and causing the engines to play on the interior. The greatest efforts were made to save Westminster Hall, which was happily preserved; but the two Houses of Parliament were[377] completely destroyed, together with the Commons' library, the Lords' painted chamber, many of the committee rooms, part of the Speaker's house, the rooms of the Lord Chancellor and other law officers, as well as the kitchen and eating-rooms. The king promptly offered Parliament the use of Buckingham Palace; but it was thought best to fit up temporary rooms on the old site, and to have them ready for next Session. The committee of the Privy Council sat for several days, and during the whole of that time the fire continued to smoulder among the débris, and in the coal vaults, while the engines were heard to play from day to day within the boarded avenues. As soon as possible the temporary halls were prepared. The House of Lords was fitted up for the Commons, and the painted chamber for the Lords, at an expense of £30,000.

With Spain the prospect of war became every day more imminent. Stanhope quitted that country, and the Spanish Government ordered the seizure of the Prince Frederick, a ship belonging to the South Sea Company. Twenty thousand men were assembled and sent against Gibraltar. All attempts on the great fortress were as useless as former ones had been. The English regarded the attack with even an air of indifference, whilst their guns, sickness, and desertion, were fast cutting off the besiegers. In four months the investing army, being reduced to half its number, drew off with this empty but destructive result.It remained for Austria to put down the revolution in Venice. That city had bravely stood a siege for nearly twelve months, when, after wonderful displays of heroism, its defenders were at last compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. This glorious defence was mainly owing to the extraordinary energy and activity of Manin, who was at the head of the Government. After the capitulation he escaped with General Hesse and other leaders of the Republican party. Manin settled in Paris, where he lived in retirement, supporting himself by giving lessons in Italian. He died there in 1857. The people of Venice honoured his memory by going into mourning on the anniversary of his death, though, by doing so—such is the meanness of malice—even ladies incurred the penalties of fine and imprisonment at the hands of the Austrians.



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