The Parisians were now afforded proofs that Napoleon was once more victorious. The prisoners, banners, and cannon which he had taken were sent forward rapidly to the capital, and ostentatiously paraded through the streets. Meanwhile, the Allies were so alarmed, that the sovereigns wrote to Buonaparte, expressing their surprise at his attacks, as they had ordered their Plenipotentiaries to accept the terms offered by his ambassador, Caulaincourt. These terms had indeed been offered by Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, at a Congress held at Chatillon-sur-Seine on the 5th of February, and which was still sitting; but the Allies had never, in fact, accepted them, and now, as he was again in the ascendant, Napoleon was not likely to listen to them. He therefore left the letter unanswered till he should have thoroughly defeated the Allies, and then he would dictate his reply.
The fleet sailed from the Downs on the 28th of July, 1809, and on the 30th it touched at the islands of South Beveland and Walcheren. The orders of the Government were, "the capture or destruction of the enemy's ships, building or afloat at Antwerp and Flushing; the destruction of the arsenals at Antwerp, Terneuse, and Flushing; the reduction of the island of Walcheren, and, if possible, the rendering of the Scheldt no longer navigable for ships." Nelson, who had contemplated this enterprise, had calculated that it would require four or five thousand men, and could be accomplished in a week. But now Buonaparte had rendered the task more difficult, and there was no Nelson to do it. The most sagacious of the officers pointed out that the first rush should be for Antwerp, as the extreme point of the expedition, so as to destroy or capture the vessels there before the French could come to the rescue. The places nearer to the sea could be taken in returning. Had the troops landed at Blankenberg, they could have made a rapid march along a paved road through Bruges and Ghent, and captured Antwerp, only forty-five miles distant, whilst the fleet ascended the Scheldt to receive them on their return; but no such common-sense ideas found acceptance with the commanders. They determined to reduce Flushing first, and the other forts on the Scheldt, as Lillo and Liefkenshoek, in succession, by which time it was certain that the French would appear at Antwerp in numbers sufficient to protect it. Flushing was attacked on the 1st of August, and did not surrender till the 16th. Had this been the reduction of Antwerp, the rest of the objects of the expedition would have followed of course; but Lord Chatham and Rear-Admiral Strachan were in no hurry. They remained signing the capitulation, securing six thousand prisoners that they had taken, and reducing two small islands to the north of the eastern Scheldt, till the 21st (three whole weeks virtually wasted!), and on the 23rd they landed at Ter Goes, on the neighbouring island of South Beveland. Here, again, they delayed another precious fortnight, whilst the French were planting batteries at every turn of the river between them and Antwerp; had drawn a boom-chain across the channel between Lillo and Liefkenshoek; and had sunk vessels to obstruct the narrowest part of the channel beyond. They still talked of forcing their way to Antwerp; but according to a satiric rhyme of the time—
NELSON'S CHASE AFTER THE FRENCH FLEET, 1805.
VIEW OF LONDON FROM THE TOWER TO LONDON BRIDGE IN THE LATTER PART OF THE 18TH CENTURY. (After the Picture by Maurer.)
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.Accession of George III.—His Conduct—Ascendency of Bute—Meeting of Parliament—Enthusiastic Reception of the King's Speech—Bute's Cabals—Hostility to Pitt—Ministerial Changes—Marriage of the King—Queen Charlotte—Misfortunes of Frederick—Ferdinand of Brunswick's Campaign—Defeat of the French in the East and West Indies—Negotiations for Peace—Pitt's large Demands—Obstinacy of Choiseul—The Family Compact suspected—Resignation of Pitt—Bute's Ministry—War with Spain—Abandonment of Frederick—Policy of the new Czar—Resignation of Newcastle—Bute at the head of the Treasury—Successes in the West Indies—Capture of Manila—Bute's Eagerness for Peace—The Terms—Bute's Unpopularity—Close of the Seven Years' War—Successes of Clive—Defeat of the Dutch in India—Final Overthrow of the French in India—Fate of the Count de Lally—Bute and the Princess of Wales—The Cider Tax—Bute's Vengeance—His Resignation—George Grenville in Office—No. 45 of the North Briton—Arrest of Wilkes—His Acquittal—Vengeance against him—The King negotiates with Pitt—Wilkes's Affairs in Parliament—The Wilkes Riots—The Question of Privilege—The Illegality of General Warrants declared—Wilkes expelled the House—Debates on General Warrants—Rejoicing in the City of London.
In preparation for this movement James the Pretender was to sail secretly to Spain, in readiness to cross to England; and he had already quitted his house in Rome and removed to a villa, the more unobserved to steal away at the appointed moment. Ormonde also had left Madrid and gone to a country seat half way to Bilbao, when the secret of the impending expedition was suddenly revealed by the French Government to that of England. The conspirators had been mad enough to apply to the Regent for five thousand troops, trusting that, notwithstanding his peaceful relations with Britain, he would secretly enjoy creating it some embarrassment. But in this, as in all other views, they proved more sanguine than profound. Sir Luke Schaub, the British Ambassador, was immediately informed of it on condition, it was said, that no one should die for it.
The debate on Mr. Villiers's annual motion, on June 10, produced still further evidences of the decline of Protectionist principles. On that occasion Sir James Graham, who was currently believed to be better acquainted with the feelings of the Premier than any other of the Ministers, said, "He would not deny that it was his opinion, that by a gradual and cautious policy it was expedient to bring our system of Corn Laws into a nearer approximation to those wholesome principles which governed legislation with respect to other industrial departments. But it was his conviction that suddenly and at once to throw open the trade in corn would be inconsistent with the well-being of the community, and would give such a shock to the agricultural interest as would throw many other interests into a state of convulsion. The object of every Government, without distinction of party, for the last twenty years, had been to substitute protecting duties for prohibitory duties, and to reduce gradually protecting duties, where it had them to deal with. He approved of this as a safe principle, and showed that it was the keystone of the policy of Sir Robert Peel.... If they could show him that Free Trade with open ports would produce a more abundant supply to the labourer, they would make him [Sir James] a convert to the doctrine of Free Trade in corn. He confessed that he placed no value on the fixed duty of four shillings lately proposed; it would be of no avail as a protection, whilst it would be liable to all the obloquy of a protecting duty; and he therefore thought that if they got rid of the present Corn Law, they had better assent to a total repeal." Sir Robert Peel spoke more cautiously; but he began by striking away a favourite maxim of his party, in observing that experience proved that the high price of corn was not accompanied by a high rate of wages, and that wages did not vary with the price of corn. He said that he "must proceed, in pursuance of his own policy, to reconcile the gradual approach of our legislation to sound principle on this subject, with the interests which had grown up under a different state of things;" but he admitted that it would be "impossible to maintain any law on the ground that it was intended to keep up rents."[See larger version]
All attempts at negotiation having failed, sealed green bags were laid upon the table of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, with a message from the king to the effect that in consequence of the arrival of the queen he had communicated certain papers respecting her conduct, which he recommended to their immediate and serious attention. The bags contained documents and evidence connected with a commission sent in 1818 to Milan and other places to investigate charges—or rather to collect evidence to sustain charges which had been made against the Princess of Wales. The principal of these charges was that she had been guilty of adultery with a person named Bergami, whom she had employed as a courier, and afterwards raised to the position of her chamberlain and companion. The commission was under the direction of Sir John Leach, afterwards Vice-Chancellor.
While affairs were in this state, the Prince of Wales died (March 20, 1751). He had been in indifferent health for some time, and had injured his constitution by dissipated habits. He was forty-four years of age, of a weak character, which had led him into excesses, and the consequences of these were made worse by great neglect of his health. The same weakness of character had made him very much the tool of political faction, and placed him in an unnatural opposition to his father. An attempt was made by Lord Egmont to keep together the prince's party. He assembled a meeting of the Opposition at his house on the morning of the prince's death, and hinted at taking the princess and her family under their protection; and he recommended harmony among themselves; but some one said, "Very likely, indeed, that there should be harmony, when the prince could never bring it about;" and so every one hastened away to look after themselves. It was no sooner seen that there was an understanding between the Princess of Wales and the king than numbers of the late prince's friends offered their adhesion to the Pelhams, equally out of dread of the Duke of Cumberland and dislike of the Duke of Bedford, who was opposed to the Pelhams, and, it was feared, likely to support Cumberland, and thus place him at the head of affairs.The following is the general result of the Reform Acts upon the constitution of the Imperial Parliament:—In England the county constituencies, formerly 52, returning 94 members, were increased to 82, returning 159 members. The borough members were 341, giving a total of 500 for England. In Ireland the number of the constituencies remained the same, but five members were added, making the total number 105, representing 32 counties and 41 boroughs including the University of Dublin. A second member was given to each of the following:—Limerick, Waterford, Belfast, Galway, and Dublin University. The proportion of counties and boroughs in Scotland was 30 and 23, giving a total of 53. All the counties of the United Kingdom returned 253 members, all the boroughs 405, the total number constituting the House of Commons being 658.详情
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