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小说冷皇的废后

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[See larger version]The first debate arose on the subject of drunkenness and gin. Drunkenness had of late years appeared to grow rapidly, and to assume more horrible features from the increasing use of gin. Sir Joseph Jekyll proposed in committee that a heavy tax should be laid on this pernicious liquor, which should put it out of the reach of the working classesnamely, a duty of twenty shillings per gallon on all sold retail, and fifty pounds yearly for the licence to every retailer. This benevolent man had not arrived at the truth, that to tax a crime is only to stop up one vent of it, and to occasion its bursting out in half a dozen other places. Sir Robert Walpole saw this clearly, and though he would not oppose the Bill for this purpose, he predicted that Parliament would soon be called upon to modify its provisions. The small duties heretofore levied on this article had brought in about seventy thousand pounds annually, and, as the Excise had been made over to the Crown, this sum went to the Civil List. Walpole demanded, therefore, that whatever deficiency of this sum should be produced by the new regulations should be made up to the Civil List. The whole measure excited great clamour out of doors. It was regarded as an invidious attempt to abridge the comforts of the people, whilst those of the wealthy remained untouched. The clause proposed by Walpole to protect the revenue was assailed with much fury both in and out of the House. It was said that the Minister was quite indifferent to the morals of the people on the one hand, or to their enjoyment on the other, so that the revenue did not suffer.But the most discouraging feature of this war was the incurable pride of the Spaniards, which no reverses, and no example of the successes of their allies could abate sufficiently to show them that, unless they would condescend to be taught discipline, as the Portuguese had done, they must still suffer ignominy and annihilation. Blake, who had been so thoroughly routed on every occasion, was not content, like the British and Portuguese, to go into quarters, and prepare, by good drilling, for a more auspicious campaign. On the contrary, he led his rabble of an army away to the eastern borders of Spain, encountered Suchet in the open field on the 25th of October, was desperately beaten, and then took refuge in Valencia, where he was closely invested, and compelled to surrender in the early part of January next year, with eighteen thousand men, twenty-three officers, and nearly four hundred guns. Such, for the time, was the end of the generalship of this wrong-headed man. Suchet had, before his encounter with Blake, been making a most successful campaign in the difficult country of Catalonia, which had foiled so many French generals. He had captured one fortress after another, and in June he had taken Tarragona, after a siege of three months, and gave it up to the lust and plunder of his soldiery.

Wellington was quite prepared for the fiercest attack of Buonaparte. Notwithstanding his loss at Quatre Bras, he had still about sixty-eight thousand men, though the British portion did not exceed thirty-five thousand; and Buonaparte, as he had stated, had about seventy thousand, but most of them of the very best troops of France, whilst few of Wellington's army had been under fire before, and some of the Belgians and Hanoverians were of very inferior quality. In point of cannon, Buonaparte had more than double the number that Wellington had. But the Duke informed Blucher that he should make a stand here, and the brave old Marshal replied to Wellington's request of a detachment of Prussians to support him, that he would be there with his main army. Wellington therefore expected the arrival of the Prussians about noon; but though they lay only about twelve miles off, the difficulties of the route over the heights of Chapelle-Lambert, and the occupation of part of Wavre by the French division under Grouchy, prevented their advance under Bulow from reaching the field till half-past four. Wellington, however, rested in confident expectation of the support of the Prussians and of their numerous cannon.THE BASTILLE.

A succession of battles now took place with varying success, but still leaving the Allies nearer to Paris than before. If Buonaparte turned against Blucher, Schwarzenberg made an advance towards the capital; if against Schwarzenberg, Blucher progressed a stage. To check Schwarzenberg whilst he attacked Blucher, Napoleon sent Oudinot, Macdonald, and Gerard against Schwarzenberg; but they were defeated, and Napoleon himself was repulsed with severe loss from Craonne and the heights of Laon. But Buonaparte getting between the two Allied armies, and occupying Rheims, the Austrians were so discouraged that Schwarzenberg gave orders to retreat. The Emperor Alexander strenuously opposed retreat; but the effectual argument was advanced by Lord Castlereagh, who declared that the moment the retreat commenced the British subsidies should cease. A sharp battle was fought on the 20th of March, between Schwarzenberg and Napoleon, at Arcis-sur-Aube, and Napoleon was compelled to retreat. Blucher, who had received the order to retreat from Schwarzenberg, had treated it with contempt, and replied to it by his favourite word, "Forwards!" Napoleon had now to weigh the anxious question, whether it was better to push on, and stand a battle under the walls of Paris, with his small, much-reduced force, against the Allies, and with the capital in a state of uncertainty towards himor to follow and harass the rear of the enemy. He seems to have shrunk from the chance of a defeat under the eyes of his metropolis, and he therefore, finding a Prussian force in Vitry, crossed the Marne on the 22nd of March, and held away towards his eastern frontiers, as if with some faint, fond hope that the peasantry of Franche Comt and Alsace might rise and fly to his support. But no such movement was likely; all parts of France were mortally sick of his interminable wars, and glad to see an end put to them. The Allies had now taken the bold resolve to march on Paris and summon it to surrender.It was found that the potato was almost the only food of the Irish millions, and that it formed their chief means of obtaining the other necessaries of life. A large portion of this crop was grown under the conacre system, to which the poorest of the peasantry were obliged to have recourse, notwithstanding the minute subdivision of land. In 1841 there were 691,000 farms in Ireland exceeding one acre in extent. Nearly one-half of these were under five acres each. The number of proprietors in fee was estimated at 8,000a smaller number in proportion to the extent of territory than in any other country of Western[536] Europe except Spain. In Connaught, several proprietors had 100,000 acres each, the proportion of small farms being greater there than in the rest of Ireland. The total number of farms in the province was 155,842, and of these 100,254 consisted of from one to five acres. If all the proprietors had resided among their tenantry, and been in a position to encourage their industry and care for their welfare, matters would not have been so bad; but most of the large landowners were absentees. It frequently happened that the large estates were held in strict limitation, and they were nearly all heavily encumbered. The owners preferred living in England or on the Continent, having let their lands on long leases or in perpetuity to "middlemen," who sublet them for as high rents as they could get. Their tenants again sublet, so that it frequently happened that two, three, or four landlords intervened between the proprietors and the occupying tenant, each deriving an interest from the land. The head landlord therefore, though ever so well-disposed, had no power whatever to help the occupying tenants generally, and of those who had the power, very few felt disposed. There were extensive districts without a single resident proprietor, and when the absentees were appealed to by the local relief committees during the famine to assist the perishing people, they seldom took the trouble of answering the application.There was still a fair chance for the AustriansBritain had furnished them with moneyand two fresh armies were descending from the hills. One of these, amounting to thirty thousand, was led by a brave officer, General Alvinzi; the other of twenty thousand, under Davidowich, was marching from the Tyrol to meet Alvinzi near Verona, who was coming from Carinthia by Belluno. Buonaparte did not allow them to meet. He attacked Alvinzi on the 6th of November, and met with a terrible repulse. A detachment of French under Vaubois had been dispatched to impede the march of Davidowich, but was also in retreat. Buonaparte again attacked Alvinzi near Verona, and again was repulsed. Had the Austrians united their two new armies before entering Italy, or had Wurmser marched from Mantua to support Alvinzi, the French must have been utterly annihilated. As it was, Napoleon was dreadfully disheartened, and wrote a despairing letter to the Directory, saying his best officers were killed, and his men exhausted from fighting and severe marches. But his pride and dogged pertinacity came to his aid. He made a rapid march and got into the rear of Alvinzi, but found himself stopped by a narrow bridge over the Alpone at Arcole. The country on each side was a marsh, and the only approach to the bridge was by long narrow causeways. As the French advanced along the causeway on their side to storm the bridge, they were swept down by hundreds by the Austrian cannon. Time after time, Buonaparte drove his columns along the causeway, but only to see them mown down by grape shot. His men fled into the very marshes to save themselves, and he himself was thrown from his horse into the marsh, and had to be dragged from the mire. Bodies of Hungarians and Croats made a final sally along the causeway, cutting down all before them, and it was marvellous that he escaped them. By this time Alvinzi had brought up his main body to the neighbourhood of the bridge, and the battle raged obstinately there for three days. Seeing it impossible to carry the bridge against that solid mass of troops, Buonaparte dispatched General Guyeuse to cross the Adige at the ferry of Albaredo, below the confluence of the Alpone, and take Alvinzi in flank. Guyeuse succeeded in crossing, but was repulsed on the other side by the Austrians. Buonaparte again, on the 16th, made one more desperate rush at the bridge, but only to receive another bloody defeat. The next day he threw a bridge over the Alpone, just above its confluence with the Adige, and sent over Augereau with a powerful force, whilst he again assailed the bridge from his side. These combined operations succeeded. Alvinzi was compelled to retreat to Vicenza and Bassano. Scarcely had he given way, when Davidowich, who ought to have joined him long before, came down the right bank of the stream. He now came only to experience a severe defeat, whereas his timely arrival might have insured a complete victory. He again had recourse to the security of the hills. The belligerents then went into winter quarters, leaving the French victorious.

It was arranged that the coronation should take place early in the summer of 1821, and the queen, who in the interval had received an annuity of 50,000, was resolved to claim the right of being crowned with the king. She could hardly have hoped to succeed in this, but her claims were put forth in a memorial complaining that directions had not been given for the coronation of the queen, as had been accustomed on like occasions, and stating that she claimed, as of right, to celebrate the ceremony of her royal coronation, and to preserve as well her Majesty's said right as the lawful right and inheritance of others of his Majesty's subjects. Her memorial was laid before the Privy Council, and the greatest interest was excited by its discussion. The records were brought from the Tower: the "Liber Regalis" and other ancient volumes. The doors continued closed, and strangers were not allowed to remain in the adjoining rooms and passages. The following official decision of the Privy Council was given after some delay:"The lords of the committee, in obedience to your Majesty's said order of reference, have heard her Majesty's Attorney- and Solicitor-General in support of her Majesty's said claim, and having also heard the observations of your Majesty's Attorney- and Solicitor-General thereupon, their lordships do agree humbly to report to your Majesty their opinions, that as it appears to them that the Queens Consort of this realm are not entitled of right to be crowned at any time, her Majesty the queen is not entitled as of right to be crowned at the time specified in her Majesty's memorials. His Majesty, having taken the said report into consideration, has been pleased, by and with the advice of the Privy Council, to approve thereof." The queen's subsequent applications, which included a letter to the king, were equally unsuccessful.SURPRISE OF FREDERICK AT HOCHKIRCH. (See p. 131.)

The Ministry were now involved in a transaction which produced them a plentiful crop of unpopularity. The country was already highly disappointed by the character of the financial measures, and now saw them engaged in an attempt to gratify the domestic resentments of the Prince of Wales. We have already alluded to the[520] disreputable circumstances attending his marriage with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick. After little more than a year's cohabitation they separated, but not before a daughter was born. So long as the Pitt Administration continued, all offensive measures of a public nature were warded from the unfortunate princess. The king had always been her decided protector; but now the Whigs came in, who had ever been in alliance with the Prince of Wales, and that exemplary gentleman conceived hopes that he might rid himself of her. The public had been for some time scandalised by disputes between the prince and princess as to a proper separate allowance for her, and concerning the prince's endeavours to deprive her of the company of her own child; but, as he had not succeeded in taking away the infant, rumours were soon industriously spread that the princess, at Blackheath, was leading a very disreputable life. All that they could gather up or construe to the princess's disadvantage was duly communicated to the Duke of Sussex, and by the duke to his brother, the prince. In 1805 they had supplied their employer or employers with a most startling story of the princess's having been delivered of a son, whom she was openly keeping in her house, under pretence that it was the child of a poor woman of the name of Austin, which she had adopted. Immediate steps were taken privately to get up a case. On the 24th of May Lord Chancellor Erskine read the written statements to the king, who decided that a private inquiry should take place; that the house of Lord Grenville should be selected as the proper scene, and that Lords Erskine, Spencer, Grenville, and Ellenborough should undertake the inquiry and report to him upon it. This meeting and inquiry took place, accordingly, on the 1st of June. Romilly attended. The servants were examined, and appear, according to Romilly's diary, to have uniformly given the most favourable testimony to the conduct of the princess. Further: the reputed mother of the child, Sophia Austin, was examined, and proved that the child was veritably her own; had been born at the Brownlow Street Hospital on the 11th of July, 1802, and had been taken to the princess's house on the 15th of November, adopted by her, and had remained there ever since. "The result," says Romilly, "was a perfect conviction on my mind, and, I believe, on the minds of the four lords, that the child was the child of Sophia Austin." This affair of the Princess of Wales was not terminated till the end of January, 1807. When the report was laid before the king, he referred it to the Cabinet, and they advised him to send a written message to the princess, acquitting her of the main charge, but observing that he saw in the depositions of the witnesses, and even in her own letter to him, defending her conduct, evidence of a deportment unbecoming her station. The odium excited against the Ministry by these un-English proceedings was intense, especially amongst women, all over the country.

And, in truth, Ney was in the most terrible of situations. When he left Smolensk he was at the head of eight thousand men, but followed by an army of stragglers, whom the cannon of Platoff caused to evacuate Smolensk instantly, leaving behind him five thousand sick and wounded. When they reached the battle-field of Krasnoi they saw the carcases of their late comrades lying in heaps on the ground, and, a little beyond, the Russians in full force occupying the banks of the Losmina, and crowding all the hills around. In spite of this, Ney endeavoured to cut his way through, but failed, after a dreadful slaughter, and only saved one thousand five hundred men of his[52] whole force by retreating and taking another route to the river, where he lost all his baggage, and such sick as he brought with him, for the ice broke with their weight. Pursued by the Cossacks, he came up with Davoust's division on the 20th of November. "When Napoleon," says Segur, "heard that Ney had reappeared, he leaped and shouted for joy, saying, 'Then I have saved my eagles! I would have given three hundred millions sooner than have lost him.'" The losses which troubled Napoleon were those which endangered his own safety or reputation; he thought little of the hundreds of thousands who had perished through this mad expedition; but he rejoiced over the safety of Ney, because he deemed it a pledge that his own escape was also assured.

The next day the debate was resumed. It appeared that the Prince had been hooted at, and a stone, or other missile, flung through the window of the carriage. The Ministerial party endeavoured to raise the occurrence into an attempt on the Prince's life; the Opposition hinted at the expression of public disgust with the tone which Government was assuming towards the distresses of the people, called zealously for stringent reductions of expense, and moved an amendment to that very effect. But the Government had yet much to learn on this head; and Lord Sidmouth announced that the Prince Regent in three days would send down a message on the disaffection of the people. It would have been wise to have added to this measure a recommendation of serious inquiry into the causes of this disaffection, for disaffection towards a Government never exists without a cause; but the Government had carried on matters so easily whilst they had nothing to do but to vote large sums of money for foreign war that they had grown callous, and had been so much in co-operation with arbitrary monarchs that they had acquired too much of the same spirit; and they now set about to put down the people of England as they, by means of the people of England, had put down Buonaparte. It was their plan to create alarm, and under the influence of that alarm to pass severe measures for the crippling of the Constitution and the suppression of all complaints of political evil.

Major-General Brock left Colonel Procter to defend Detroit, and marched hastily towards Niagara, to surprise the American forts in that direction. But, in the midst of his preparations, he was thunderstruck to learn that Sir George Prevost had concluded an armistice with the American general, Dearborn, and that this armistice stipulated that neither party should move in any manner till the American Government had ratified or annulled the engagement. Thus Brock had the mortification of feeling that his hands were tied up, whilst the enemy, aroused to the danger of their position, despite the truce, were marching up troops, and strengthening every fort and port along the line. As soon as a force of six thousand three hundred men and stores were ready, Madison refused to ratify the armistice. On his part, Sir George Prevost had done nothing to support Brock, and this brave officer found himself with only one thousand two hundred men, partly regulars and partly militia, to repel the swarming invaders.In the meantime the preparations for civil war went on steadily on both sides in Dublin, neither party venturing to interfere with the other. Lest the Government should not be able to subdue the rebellion with 10,000 troops in the strong points of the city, and artillery commanding the great thoroughfares, with loopholes for sharpshooters in every public building, an association was formed to provide loyal citizens with arms and combine them in self-defence. The committee of this body ordered six hundred stand of arms from the manufacturer, and also some thousands of knots of blue ribbon to be worn by the loyal on the night of the barricades. It was intimated that the Government would pay for those things, but as it did not, an action for the cost of the muskets was brought against a gentleman who went to inspect them. Circulars were sent round to the principal inhabitants, with directions as to the best means of defending their houses when attacked by the insurgents. There were instances in which the lower parts of houses were furnished with ball-proof shutters, and a month's provisions of salted meat and biscuits actually laid in. The Orange-menregarded with so much coldness by the Government in quiet timeswere now courted; their leaders were confidentially consulted by the Lord-Lieutenant; their addresses were gratefully acknowledged; they were supplied with muskets, and the certificate of the master of an Orange lodge was recognised by the police authorities as a passport for the importation of arms.

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Though war had long been foreseen with France, when it took place we had no fleet in a proper condition to put to sea. It was not till the 14th of July that Lord Howe, who had taken the command of the Channel fleet, sailed from Spithead with fifteen ships of the line, three of which were first-rates, but none of them of that speed and equipment which they ought to have been. He soon obtained intelligence of a French fleet of seventeen sail of the line, seen westward of Belleisle. He sent into Plymouth, and had two third-rate vessels added to his squadron. On the 31st of July he caught sight of the French fleet, but never came up with them, the French ships being better sailers. After beating about in vain, he returned to port, anchoring in Torbay on the 4th of September. At the end of October Howe put to sea again with twenty-four sail of the line and several frigates, and several times came near the French fleet, but could never get to engage. He, however, protected our merchant vessels and disciplined his sailors. One French ship was taken off Barfleur by Captain Saumarez of the Crescent, and that was all.SLAVERY EMANCIPATION FESTIVAL IN BARBADOES. (See p. 368.)

The occasion for the Portuguese expedition arose in this way: bands of Portuguese rebels, armed, equipped, and trained in Spain, at the instigation of France, passed the Spanish frontier, carrying terror and devastation into their own country, crossing the boundary at different points, and proclaiming different pretenders to the throne of Portugal. Had Spain employed mercenaries to effect the invasion, there could not be a doubt of its hostile character. Portugal then enjoyed a constitutional government, under the regency of the infant daughter of the King of Brazil. The Absolutist party had proclaimed Don Miguel, the King of Brazil's younger brother. During the civil war the rebels had been driven into Spain, where they were welcomed with ardour, equipped afresh, and sent back to maintain the cause of Absolutism in the Portuguese dominions. England was bound by treaty to assist Portugal in any such emergency. Her aid was demanded accordingly, and, averse as Mr. Canning was from war, and from intervention in the affairs of foreign states, he rendered the assistance required with the utmost promptitude. On Friday, December 3rd, the Portuguese ambassador made a formal demand of assistance against a hostile aggression from Spain. Canning answered that, though he had heard rumours to that effect, he had not yet received such precise information as justified him in applying to Parliament. It was only on Friday that that information arrived. On Saturday the Cabinet came to a decision; on Sunday the decision received the sanction of the king; on Monday it was communicated to both Houses of Parliament, and on Tuesday the troops were on their march for embarkation. The expedition arrived at Lisbon in good time, and had the desired effect of restoring tranquillity and preventing warthat "war of opinions" which Canning so much dreaded. It was on this occasion that Canning delivered the magnificent oration which electrified the House and the country. No speech in Parliament had ever before produced such an effect. Only a man of splendid genius and intense sympathy, placed in a position to wield the force of a great nation, could have delivered such a speech or produced such an effect. "The situation of England," he said, "amidst the struggle of political opinions which agitates more or less sensibly different countries of the world, may be compared to that of the ruler of the winds[See larger version]

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