类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-11-25 19:11:06


A Commission had been appointed to inquire into the Department of Naval Affairs. The Commissioners, at whose head was Mr. Whitbread, had extended their researches so far back as to include the time when Lord Melville, as Mr. Dundas, had presided over that Department. They there discovered some very startling transactions. Large sums of money had been drawn out of the Bank of England on the plea of paying accounts due from the Naval Department; these sums had been paid into Coutts's Bank in the name of the Treasurer of the Navy, Mr. Trotter, who, for long periods together, used these sums for his own benefit. Other large sums had been drawn in the name of Dundas, and had been employed for his profit. Other sums had disappeared, and there was no account showing how they had vanished; but these were scored under the name of Secret Service Money, and Melville declared that the money paid into his account had gone in the same way. As much as forty-eight thousand pounds had been paid over to Pitt at once, and no account given of its expenditure. Indeed, as Pitt had nothing to do with that Department, the payment to him was altogether irregular. These discoveries created a great sensation. George Rose, who had begun life without a sixpence, but who, after attracting the attention of Pitt, had rapidly thriven and become extremely wealthy, had confessed to Wilberforce that some strange jobs had come under his notice as a member of that Department. There was a loud outcry for the impeachment of Melville. Melville appears to have been a jovial, hard-drinking Scotsman, of a somewhat infidel turn, according to Scottish philosophy of that period. Amongst Melville's faults, however, it does not appear that he was of an avaricious character, but rather of a loose morale, and ready to fall in with the licence practised by the officers of all departments of Government in the duties entrusted to them.but that with the pageantry of the hour their importance faded away?—that as their distinction vanished their humiliation returned?—and that he who headed the procession of peers to-day could not sit among them as their equal on the morrow?"

Notwithstanding his careless manner, however, there was much sincerity in the nature of Lord Melbourne; and there is no doubt that he laboured with an honest purpose to make his Administration useful to the country, though not with so much activity and energy, or with such constant solicitude to secure success, as his predecessor had brought to the task. As it was now advancing towards the end of the Session, he confined his attention to two great measures of reform—the Irish Tithe question (of which we have already disposed) and the question of Municipal Reform. It is scarcely necessary to remark that abuses in corporations had been a matter of constant and general complaint for two centuries. But it was hopeless to expect a remedy so long as the Parliamentary representation was so inadequate and corrupt. The rotten and venal boroughs, of which the franchise was abolished or amended by the Reform Act, were the chief seats of abuse. The correction of the local evil would have been the destruction of the system by which the ruling party in the State sustained its political power. There were, therefore, the most powerful interests at work, restraining each from attempting the work of reform; but by the Parliamentary Reform Act these interests were abolished, and those local fountains of corruption could no longer pour their fetid contents into the legislature. Statesmen now felt at liberty to abate those nuisances. Yet the work was not as speedily accomplished as might have been expected. It is true that Lord Grey advised the king to issue a commission of inquiry in July, 1833, but it was not until the 5th of June, 1835, that any measure was brought forward upon the subject. Even then Lord Melbourne had to overcome the dislike of the king, who distrusted the measure, and thought that, if the corporations were to be reformed at all, they had best be reformed by granting them new charters. The commission consisted of twenty gentlemen, who were to proceed with the utmost despatch to inquire as to the existing state of the municipal corporations in England and Wales, and to collect information respecting the defects in their constitution, to make inquiry into their jurisdiction and powers as to the administration of justice, and in all other[388] respects; and also into the mode of electing and appointing the members and officers of such corporations, into the privileges of the freemen and other members thereof, and into the nature and management of the income, revenues, and funds of the said corporations. They divided the whole of England and Wales into districts, each of which was assigned to two commissioners. Their reports on individual corporations occupied five folio volumes. The whole was presented in a general report, signed by sixteen of the Commissioners.Meanwhile the Whigs were anxious to add fresh security to their own lease of office. At the last election they had procured the return of a powerful majority; but two years out of the triennial term had expired, and they looked with apprehension to the end of the next year, when a dissolution must take place. They were aware that there were still strong plottings and secret agitations for the restoration of the banished dynasty. By both the king and his Ministers all Tories were regarded as Jacobites, and it was resolved to keep them out of office, and, as much as possible, out of Parliament. They had the power in their own hands in this Parliament, and, in order to keep it, they did not hesitate to destroy that Triennial Act for which their own party had claimed so much credit in 1694, and substitute a Septennial Act in its place. They would thereby give to their own party in Parliament more than a double term of the present legal possession of their seats. Instead of one year, they would be able to look forward four years without any fear of[33] Tory increase of power through a new election. On the 10th of April, Devonshire, Lord Steward of the Household, moved the repeal of the Triennial Act, long lauded as one of the bulwarks of our liberties, under the now convenient plea that it had been "found very grievous and burthensome, by occasioning much greater and more continued expenses in order to elections of members to serve in Parliament, and more lasting heats and animosities amongst the subjects of this realm than ever were known before the said clause was enacted."The restrictions, however, if not to any great extent a practical grievance, were felt to be a stigma utterly undeserved, and the necessity for an annual Indemnity Act continually reminded a large, influential, intelligent, energetic portion of the nation of their inferiority to the rest of the king's subjects. The Government felt that public opinion was against them. They therefore allowed the Bill to go into committee without opposition, and there they adopted it as their own by carrying certain amendments. It passed the Commons by a majority of 44, the numbers being 237 to 193. From the tone of the debate in the Commons it was evident that the Government was not sorry to be left in a minority. In the House of Lords the measure encountered more opposition. Lord Eldon, exasperated with the treatment he had received from the Ministers, denounced it with the utmost vehemence. When he heard of its success in the Lower House, he was in a state of consternation.

The General Election of 1784 secured for Pitt a prolonged tenure of power. The king, in opening the Session, could not repress the air of triumph, and congratulated the Houses on the declared sense of his people, not forgetting to designate Fox's India Bill as a most unconstitutional measure. In fact, no one was so delighted as the king. He had contemplated the victory of Fox and his friends over Pitt with actual horror. He had never liked Fox, and the violent and overbearing manner in which he had endeavoured to compel the king to dismiss his Ministers had increased his aversion into dread and repugnance. In his letters to Pitt he had said, "If these desperate and factious men succeed, my line is a clear one, to which I have fortitude to submit." Again: "Should not the Lords stand boldly forth, this Constitution must soon be changed; for if the two remaining privileges of the Crown are infringed, that of negativing the Bills which have passed both Houses of Parliament, and that of naming the Ministers to be employed, I cannot but feel, as far as regards my person, that I can be no longer of utility to this country, nor can with honour, remain in the island." In fact, George was menacing, a second time, a retreat to Hanover; a step, however, which he was not very likely to adopt. The sentiment which the words really express is his horror of the heavy yoke of the great Whig Houses. The Addresses from both Houses of Parliament expressed equal satisfaction in the change, Pitt's triumphant majority having now rejected the amendments of the Opposition.Joseph H. Blake, created Lord Wallscourt.

Dr. Erasmus Darwin assumed the hopeless task of chaining poetry to the car of science. He was a physician of Derby, and, like Sir Richard Blackmore, "rhymed to the rumbling of his own coach wheels;" for we are told that he wrote his verses as he drove about to his patients. His great poem is the "Botanic Garden," in which he celebrates the loves of the plants, and his "Economy of Vegetation," in which he introduces all sorts of mechanical inventions. Amongst the rest he announces the triumphs of steam in sonorous rhymes—

[See larger version]But Sir John Duckworth was to play a leading part in a still more abortive enterprise. There was a rumour that Buonaparte had promised the Grand Turk to aid him in recovering the provinces which Russia had reft from Turkey on the Danube, in the Crimea, and around the Black Sea, on condition that Egypt was given up to him. To prevent this, an expedition was fitted out to seize on this country. Between four and five thousand men were sent from our army in Sicily, under Major-General Mackenzie Frazer. They embarked on the 5th of May, and anchored off Alexandria on the 16th. The following morning General Frazer summoned the town to surrender, but the governor of the Viceroy Mehemet Ali replied that he would defend the place to the last man. On that day and the following a thousand soldiers and about sixty sailors were landed, and, moving forward, carried the advanced works with trifling loss. Some of the transports which had parted company on the voyage now arrived, the rest of the troops were landed; and, having secured the castle of Aboukir, Frazer marched on Alexandria, taking the forts of Caffarelli and Cretin on the way. On the 22nd Sir John Duckworth arrived with his squadron; the British army expected to hear that he had taken Constantinople, and his ill news created a just gloom amongst both officers and men. The people of Alexandria appeared friendly; but the place was, or seemed to be, destitute of provisions; and the transports had been so badly supplied that the men were nearly starved before they got there. The Alexandrians assured General Frazer that, in order to obtain provisions, he must take possession of Rosetta and Rahmanieh. Frazer, therefore, with the concurrence of Sir John Duckworth, dispatched Major-General Wauchope and Brigadier-General Mead to Rosetta, with one thousand two hundred men. The troops were entangled in the streets and shot down. A subsequent effort was made to besiege Rosetta in form. The troops reached Rosetta on the 9th of April, and posted themselves on the heights above it. They summoned the town formally to surrender, and received an answer of defiance. Instead of proceeding to bombard the town at once, Major-General Stewart waited for the arrival of a body of Mamelukes. The Mamelukes had been in deadly civil strife with Mehemet Ali, and had promised to co-operate with the British; and this was one of the causes which led the British Government to imagine that they could make themselves masters of Egypt with so minute a force. But the Mamelukes did not appear. Whilst waiting for them, Colonel Macleod was sent to occupy the village of El Hammed, to keep open the way for the expected succour; but Mehemet Ali had mustered a great force at Cairo, which kept back the Mamelukes; and, at the same time, he was reinforcing both Rosetta, and Rahmanieh. Instead of the Mamelukes, therefore, on the morning of the 22nd of April a fleet of vessels was seen descending the Nile, carrying a strong Egyptian force. Orders were sent to recall Colonel Macleod from El Hammed; but too late; his detachment was surrounded and completely cut off. The besieging force—scattered over a wide area, instead of being in a compact body—were attacked by overwhelming[539] numbers; and, having no entrenched camp, were compelled to fight their way back to Alexandria as well as they could. When Stewart arrived there he had lost one half of his men. Mehemet Ali, in proportion as he saw the British force diminished, augmented his own. He collected and posted a vast army between Cairo and Alexandria, and then the Alexandrians threw off the mask and joined their countrymen in cutting off the supplies of the British, and murdering them on every possible occasion at their outposts. Frazer held out, in the vain hope of aid from the Mamelukes or from home, till the 22nd of August, when, surrounded by the swarming hosts of Mehemet Ali, and his supplies all exhausted, he sent out a flag of truce, offering to retire on condition that all the British prisoners taken at Rosetta, at El Hammed, and elsewhere, should be delivered up to him. This was accepted, and on the 23rd of September the ill-fated remains of this army were re-embarked and returned to Sicily.Vigilant Stair had discovered the ships that had been prepared at Havre, by the connivance and aid of the late king, and he insisted that they should be stopped. Admiral Byng also appeared off Havre with a squadron, and Lord Stair demanded that the ships should be given up to him. With this the Regent declined to comply, but he ordered them to be unloaded, and the arms to be deposited in the royal arsenal. One ship, however, escaped the search, containing, according to Bolingbroke, one thousand three hundred arms, and four thousand pounds of powder, which he proposed to send to Lord Mar, in Scotland.

But the alterations were fatal to the measure in Ireland. Instead now of being the resolutions passed in the Irish Parliament, they embraced restrictive ones originating in the British Parliament—a point on which the Irish were most jealous, and determined not to give way. No sooner did Mr. Orde, the original introducer of the resolutions to the Irish Parliament, on the 2nd of August, announce his intention to introduce them as they now stood, than Flood, Grattan, and Dennis Browne declared the thing impossible; that Ireland never would surrender her birthright of legislating for herself. Mr. Orde, however, persisted in demanding leave to introduce a Bill founded on these resolutions, and this he did on the 12th of August. Flood attacked the proposal with the utmost vehemence. Grattan, Curran, and others declared that the Irish Parliament could hear no resolutions but those which they themselves had sanctioned. Accordingly, though Mr. Orde carried his permission to introduce his Bill, it was only by a majority of nineteen, and under such opposition that, on the 15th, he moved to have it printed for the information of the country, but announced that he should proceed no further in it at present. This was considered as a total abandonment of the measure, and there was a general rejoicing as for a national deliverance, and Dublin was illuminated. But in the country the spirit of agitation on the subject remained: the non-importation Associations were renewed, in imitation of the proceedings in Boston, and the most dreadful menaces were uttered against all who should dare to import manufactured goods from England. The consequences were the stoppage of trade—especially in the seaports—the increase of distress and of riots, and the soldiers were obliged to be kept under arms in Dublin and other towns to prevent outbreaks.THE SOUTH SEA BUBBLE. (After the Picture by E. M. Ward, R.A., in the National Gallery, London.)

As this rout was taking place, Bulow, who had beaten back the French battalions from Frischermont and Planchenoit, was approaching La Belle Alliance, and Blucher with the main army soon after appeared following him. At a farmhouse called Maison Rouge, or Maison du Roi, behind La Belle Alliance, the Duke of Wellington and Blucher met and felicitated each other. Blucher, in the Continental manner, embraced and kissed the victorious Duke; and it was agreed that, as the army of Wellington had been fighting hard for eight hours, the Prussians should make the pursuit. Blucher swore that he would follow the French whilst a horse or a man could move, and, with three cheers from the British, he set forward with his troops in chase. So far from "the Guards dying, but not surrendering," these brave men flew now before the stern old Prussian, and immediately in the narrow passage at Genappe they abandoned to him sixty pieces of their cannon. Amongst other spoil they captured the carriage of Napoleon, and found in it, amongst other curious papers, a proclamation for publication the next day at Brussels. As it was moonlight, the Prussians continued the chase till late into the night, slaughtering the fugitives like sheep. Numbers quitted the road and fled across the country, seeking shelter in the woods, where many of them were afterwards found dead or severely wounded. The highway, according to General Gneisenau, was covered with cannon, caissons, carriages, baggage, arms, and property of every kind. The wounded were humanely sent to Brussels, but those who could continue their flight did so till they had reached France, where they sold their horses and arms, and dispersed themselves to their homes. The grand army was no more, with the exception of the division of Grouchy, who made good his retreat to Paris, only to be upbraided by Buonaparte as the cause of his defeat. In this battle and retreat the French lost more men than at Leipsic, the killed and wounded exceeding thirty thousand.

We return now to the American campaign. Sir Henry Clinton, at the close of the year 1779, proceeded to carry into effect his plan of removing the war to the Southern States. The climate there favoured the project of a winter campaign, and, on the day after Christmas Day, Sir Henry embarked five thousand men on board the fleet of Admiral Arbuthnot. But the weather at sea at this season proved very tempestuous, and his ships were driven about for seven weeks. Many of his transports were lost, some of them were taken by the enemy; he lost nearly all the horses of the cavalry and artillery, and one vessel carrying the heavy ordnance foundered at sea. It was the 11th of February, 1780, when he landed on St. John's Island, about thirty miles from Charleston. He then planned the investment of Charleston with Admiral Arbuthnot; but he was not on good terms with that officer, and this threw great impediments in the way of prompt action. It was the 1st of April before they could break ground before the city. Once begun, however, the siege was prosecuted with vigour. Lord Cornwallis was sent to scour the country, and so completely did he effect this, that Lincoln was compelled to offer terms of surrender. These were considered too favourable to the Americans, and the siege continued till the 11th of May, when the English were doing such damage to the town, and the inhabitants suffering so much, that they threatened to throw open the gates if Lincoln did not surrender. In this dilemma, Lincoln offered to accept the terms proposed by Clinton before, and the British general assented to his proposal. On the 12th of May the Americans grounded their arms. The news of this blow, which laid the whole south open to the English, carried consternation throughout the States; and, arriving in England at the close of the Gordon riots, seemed to restore the spirits of the British.



THE ROYAL PALACE, MADRID. (From a Photograph by Frith & Co.)

In the report drawn up by Mr. Wyse, the chairman of the select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to inquire into the Foundation Schools in Ireland, in 1837, an interesting history is given of the origin, progress, and working of those obnoxious schools, and of other educational societies which followed. The Incorporated Society for Promoting English Protestant Schools in Ireland was established by Royal Charter in 1733, the avowed object being the education of the poor in the principles of the Established Church. It is sufficient to remark that the annual grants which were made to the schools in connection with it (well known as the Charter Schools) were, in consequence of the report of the Commissioners of 1824, gradually reduced, and finally withdrawn. In 1824 there were of those schools 32; the number of children in them amounted to 2,255. The grant for 1825 was £21,615. The grant was gradually reduced to £5,750 in 1832, when it was finally withdrawn. During nineteen years this system cost the country £1,612,138, of which £1,027,715 consisted of Parliamentary grants. The total number of children apprenticed from the beginning till the end of 1824 was only 12,745; and of these but a small number received the portion of £5 each, allotted to those who served out their apprenticeship, and married Protestants. The Association for Discountenancing Vice was incorporated in 1800. It required that the masters and mistresses in its schools should be of the Established Church; that the Scriptures should[358] be read by all who had attained sufficient proficiency; and that no catechism be taught except that of the Established Church. The schools of the Association amounted in 1824 to 226, and the number of children to 12,769; of whom it was stated that 7,803 were Protestants, and 4,804 were Roman Catholics; but the Rev. William Lee, who had inspected 104 of these schools in 1819 and 1820, stated before the Commissioners of 1824 that he had found the catechism of the Church of Rome in many of them. The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor was founded on the 2nd of December, 1811, and was managed by a committee of various religious persuasions. The principles which they had prescribed to themselves for their conduct were, to promote the establishment and assist in the support of schools in which the appointment of governors and teachers, and the admission of scholars, should be uninfluenced by religious distinctions, and in which the Bible or Testament, without note or comment, should be read by all the scholars who had attained a suitable proficiency in reading, excluding catechisms and books of religious controversy; at the same time it was to be distinctly understood that the Bible or Testament should not be used as a school book from which children should be taught to spell or read. A grant was accordingly made to the society of £6,980, Irish currency, in the Session of 1814-15. The system of this society was manifestly the same as that which was formerly called the Lancastrian system in England, and which, although adopted by the great body of the Protestant Dissenters there, was so much opposed by the bishops and clergy of the Established Church in general, that they completely prevented its application to schools for children of their communion. The Roman Catholic prelates and clergy set themselves with equal resolution against it in Ireland and with equal success. It was accordingly found in 1824, that of 400,348 children whose parents paid for their education in the general schools of the country, and whose religion was ascertained, there were 81,060 Protestants, and 319,288 Roman Catholics; while of 56,201 children educated under the Kildare Place Society—although theirs were schools for the poor, and the Roman Catholics bear a much greater proportion to Protestants in the poorer classes than in the higher—there were 26,237 Protestants, and only 29,964 Roman Catholics.Spain and Portugal are so bound together by natural sympathy that they generally share the same vicissitudes. Bad feeling had arisen between the national party and the Government in consequence of the appointment of Prince Ferdinand, the husband of the queen, to be commander-in-chief of the army. Other causes increased the popular discontent, which was at its height when the public was electrified by the news of the Spanish Revolution. The Ministers were obliged to make concessions; but, besides being inadequate, they were too late. The steamboat from Oporto was loaded with opposition members, who were received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of welcome. On the 9th of September the clubs had everything arranged for a revolution, and a mixed array of troops of the line, ca?adors, and National Guards, proclaimed the Constitution adopted by John VI.; and, having sung a constitutional hymn, they appointed a deputation, headed by Viscount Sa Bandiera, to wait upon Queen Donna Maria. She had first contemplated resistance, but the army would not act against the people. The National Guards were in possession of the city, having occupied the Rocio Square in Lisbon all night, and in the morning they were informed that the queen had yielded to their wishes, appointing a new Ministry, with Bandiera at its head. Some of the most obnoxious of the ex-Ministers took refuge from popular vengeance on board the ships of the British squadron lying in the Tagus. Most of the peers protested against the Revolution; but it was an accomplished fact, and they were obliged to acquiesce.From the Painting by Seymour Lucas, R.A.


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