Buonaparte took up his residence at a palace in the suburbs. In the night there was an alarm of fire; it broke out in the quarter full of bazaars and coachmakers' factories. Napoleon rushed to the spot, and the flames were extinguished by the exertions of the soldiers. The next day all was quiet, and such French as lived in Moscow came out of their hiding-places and joined their countrymen. The following night the fires burst forth again. At first the conflagration had been attributed to accident; now it was felt to be the result of design, and Russians were seen fanatically hurrying from place to place with combustibles in their hands—the preparations of Rostopschin. Buonaparte during the day had taken possession of the Kremlin, and it was in imminent danger. When the fire was discovered near it, it came with the wind; it was extinguished, but the wind changed, and fire rose on that side, and again blew towards the palace. This occurred several times during the night; it was clear that there was a determined resolve to burn down the Kremlin. The flames defied all the efforts of the soldiers; they hunted down, according to Napoleon's twenty-first bulletin, no less than three hundred incendiaries, and shot them on the spot. These were armed with fusees six inches long, and inflammables, which they threw on the roofs. Buonaparte, who that day had dispatched a letter to Alexander proposing peace, was in the utmost agitation. He walked to and fro in distraction. "These are indeed Scythians!" he exclaimed. The equinoctial gales rose in all their wild fury. Providence commenced its Nemesis. The Kremlin was on fire, and all was raging fire around it; churches, palaces, streets, mostly of wood, were roaring in the storm. It was with difficulty that Buonaparte could be induced to leave the Kremlin, and as he did so he said gloomily, "This bodes us great misfortunes." He began to foresee all the horrors which followed.
The suggestions of Murat had failed to induce Ferdinand to leave his capital and go to meet Napoleon; but a more adroit agent now presented himself in the person of Savary, the delegated murderer of the Duke d'Enghien. Savary paid decided court to Ferdinand. He listened to all his statements of the revolution of Aranjuez and the abdication of the king. He told him that he felt sure Napoleon would see these circumstances in the same favourable light as he did, and persuaded him to go and meet the Emperor at Burgos, and hear him salute him Ferdinand VII., King of Spain and of the Indies.The news had the most instant effect across the Channel. All hesitation on the part of the French Court to enter into the treaty with the United States disappeared. The American Commissioners, Franklin, Deane, and Lee, were informed that the King of France was ready to make a treaty, claiming no advantage whatever, except that of trade with the States. It was intimated that this proceeding would, in all probability, involve France in a war with Great Britain, but that she would claim no indemnity on that score. The only condition for which she positively stipulated was, that America should, under no temptations, give up its independence, or return under the dominion of England. The two kingdoms were to make common cause, and assist each other against the common enemy. The Americans were to endeavour to make themselves masters of all the British territories that they could, and retain them as their rightful acquisition; the French to obtain whatever islands they could in the West Indies, and retain them. France did not venture to seek back the Canadas or Nova Scotia, well knowing that the Americans would not consent to have them there as neighbours. Neither country was to make peace with England without the other. Lee was to continue at Paris as the first American Ambassador there, and the treaty was to continue some weeks a secret, in order to obtain, if possible, the accession of Spain to it, which, however, they could not do then.But the bullionists were still bent on forwarding their scheme, or on throwing the country into convulsions. Lord King announced to his tenants in a circular letter that he would receive his rents in specie or in bank-notes to an amount equalling the advanced value of gold. This raised a loud outcry against the injustice of the act, which would have raised the rents of his farms twenty or more per cent.; and Lord Stanhope brought in a Bill to prevent the passing of guineas at a higher value than twenty-one shillings, and one-pound banknotes at a less value than twenty shillings. There was a strenuous debate on the subject in both Houses. In the Lords, Lord Chancellor Eldon demonstrated the enormity of people demanding their rents in gold when it did not exist, and when, if the person who could pay in notes carried these notes to the Bank of England, he could not procure gold for them. He denominated such a demand from landlords as an attempt at robbery. Yet the Bill was strongly opposed in both Houses—in the Commons by Sir Francis Burdett, Sir Samuel Romilly, Brougham, and others. It underwent many modifications, but it passed, maintaining its fundamental principles, and landlords were obliged to go on taking their rents in paper.
Having put Prussia under his feet, Buonaparte proceeded to settle the fate of her allies, Saxony and Hesse-Cassel. Saxony, which had been forced into hostilities against France by Prussia, was at once admitted by Buonaparte to his alliance. He raised the prince to the dignity of king, and introduced him as a member of the Confederacy of the Rhine. The small states of Saxe-Weimar and Saxe-Gotha were admitted to his alliance on the same terms of vassalage; but Hesse-Cassel was wanted to make part of the new kingdom of Westphalia, and, though it had not taken up arms at all, Buonaparte declared that it had been secretly hostile to France, and that the house of Hesse-Cassel had ceased to reign. Louis Buonaparte had seized it, made it over to the keeping of General Mortier, and then marched back to Holland. Mortier then proceeded to re-occupy Hanover, which he did in the middle of November, and then marched to Hamburg. He was in hopes of seizing a large quantity of British goods, as he had done at Leipzic, but in this he was disappointed, for the Hamburg merchants, being warned by the fate of Leipzic, had made haste, disposed of all their British articles, and ordered no fresh ones. Buonaparte, in his vexation, ordered Mortier to seize the money in the banks; but Bourrienne wrote to him, showing him the folly of such a step, and he refrained.
The year 1818 did not close without one more brush of war. This was in India. There had not been much quiet, even after the destruction of Tippoo Sultan and the power of Mysore. When the Earl of Moira (afterwards Marquis of Hastings) succeeded, as Governor-General, to Earl Minto, in 1813, he found the country still disturbed in different directions, particularly on the north-west frontiers. The Burmese engaged his immediate attention, and then the Nepaulese, who were not quietened till after two campaigns. But there was a far more troublesome enemy than either of these in the field. These were the Pindarrees, a multitude of horsemen made up of the scum of Hindostan—men who had either lost caste, or never had any—who formed themselves into flying bands, and with the swiftness of the wind rushed down on the cultivated districts, and swept all before them—cattle, sheep, money, jewels, everything that could be made prey of. The two most celebrated chiefs of the Pindarrees were Kureem and Cheetoo, but Cheetoo managed to put down Kureem, and became the one great and formidable head of these robbers. In 1811 he rode at the head of twenty-five thousand cavalry. In 1814, whilst our troops were engaged in Nepaul, the Pindarrees, under Cheetoo, crossed the Nerbudda, the Godavery, and advanced to the Kistnah, ravaging the whole of the Deccan and the neighbouring territories; and in spite of our forces under Major Frazer in one direction, and Colonel Doveton in another, they effected their retreat across the Nerbudda again, loaded with enormous booty. In 1816 they made a still more extensive incursion, ten thousand of them descending into the Madras Presidency as far as Guntoor, and though Colonel Doveton exerted himself to come up with them, it was in vain. In twelve days Cheetoo's marauders had plundered three hundred and ninety villages in the Company's territory, put to death one hundred and eighty-two people, wounded five hundred and five, and tortured in various ways three thousand six hundred.The Duke of Wellington was informed, at Brussels, on the same day, of this attack of Napoleon on the Prussians at Ligny, and of the British advance, under the Prince of Orange, at Quatre Bras. It has been said that he was taken by surprise. Quite the contrary. He was waiting in the most suitable position for the movement of Buonaparte. This was announced to him by a Prussian officer of high rank, said to be Baron Müffling, who arrived at half-past one at his hotel in Brussels. Wellington immediately dispatched orders to all the cantonments of his army to break up and concentrate on Quatre Bras, his intention being that his whole force should be there by eleven o'clock the next night, Friday, the 16th. At three o'clock his Grace sat down to dinner, and it was at first proposed that notice should be sent to the Duchess of Richmond to put off a ball which she was going to give at her hotel that evening; but, on further consideration, it was concluded to let the ball proceed, and that the Duke and his officers should attend it, as though nothing was about to occur, by which the great inconvenience of having the whole city in confusion during their preparations for departure would be avoided. Accordingly, every officer received orders to quit the ball-room, and as quietly as possible, at ten o'clock, and proceed to his respective division en route. This arrangement was carried out, and the Duke himself remained at the ball till twelve o'clock, and left Brussels the next morning (April 16) at six o'clock for Quatre Bras. Such were the facts which gave rise to the widespread report that the Duke knew nothing of the attack of Napoleon till the thunder of his cannon was heard by the Duke of Brunswick in the ball-room.
The retired Ministers showed for the most part a very hostile attitude, and Pulteney denounced the new Ministry as a "German Ministry." Walpole, for a little time, affected a liberal conduct, declaring, when the Supply of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds was voted, that, as he had before spoken in its favour, he should now vote in its favour, and would show by his proceedings that he had never intended to make the king uneasy, or to embarrass his affairs. But it was not in Walpole's nature to maintain this air of temperance long. He was as violent in opposition as he was able and zealous in office. Whether in or out of office, he was, in fact, equally unscrupulous. He very soon joined himself to Shippen, Wyndham, Bromley, and the other violent opponents of the reigning family; so that Shippen himself ere long said exultingly that he was glad to see that Walpole was no longer afraid of being styled a Jacobite.The Ministers and their supporters were complimentary, as a matter of course, to the new Sovereign, who had graciously continued them in their offices; and the Whigs, who had ascribed their exclusion from power to the personal dislike of the king, were resolved that there should not be again any obstacle of the kind, and that they would keep upon the best possible terms with the Court. During the previous part of the Session they had kept up a rapid fire of motions and questions upon the Government, especially with regard to the public expenditure, the distress of the operatives, and the necessity of rigid economy and large retrenchment. The attacks were led by Sir James Graham, who, though he was always left in a minority in the divisions on his motions, did much to weaken the Government by exciting public feeling against them on the ground of their alleged heartless extravagance, while many of the people were starving and the country was said to be going fast to destruction. The Duke of Wellington, however, moved an answer to the Royal Message, declaring that they would forward the measure necessary to provide for the temporary supply required. He suggested that as everybody would be occupied about the coming elections, the best mode of proceeding would be to dissolve at once. Lord Grey, in the name of the Opposition, complained of this precipitancy, and delivered a long speech full of solemn warnings of evil. He supposed that the king might die before the new Parliament was chosen; the Heir Apparent was a child in fact, though not in law. No regency existing, she would be legally in the possession of her full regal power, and this was a situation which he contended would be fraught with danger. A long, unprofitable wrangle ensued, dull repetitions dragged out the debate, when at length the Duke wisely refused to accede to the proposition for a useless interval of delay, and proved the numerical strength of the Administration. Lord Grey having moved for an adjournment to allow time for providing a regency, the motion was lost by a majority of 44, the numbers being 56 against 100.
Before this, however, the financial statement for the year had been made, and for awhile the Corn Law question was suspended for the country to recover from its astonishment at finding in the Minister of the Conservative party one of the boldest reformers of our tariff who had ever occupied the Ministerial benches. But yesterday his position had appeared one of the greatest difficulty, in which a cautious hold upon the established sources of revenue, with some well-balanced proposals for additional taxes, was all that could be expected. He had not the good fortune of Mr. Goulburn or Lord Althorp in having a surplus to dispose of. The Whig Government had bequeathed to their successors a deficit, which had been increasing from year to year, with a revenue falling off even in the face of new taxes. How was the deficit to be met was the question which filled the mouths of public men; a question which was answered by the famous financial statement of Sir Robert Peel on the 11th of March. After showing that the deficiency for the coming year would be little short of ￡2,500,000, and that this deficiency might be expected to be considerably augmented by the position of affairs in India and China, the Minister declared that he would not consent to resort to the miserable expedient of continual loans. He declared that he would not attempt to impose burdens upon the labouring classes, and that if he did, recent experience had shown that they would be defeated. In fact, the country had arrived at the limits of taxation upon articles of consumption. After ridiculing the various suggestions of people who were constantly sending him projects for taxes on pianofortes, umbrellas, and other articles, accompanied with claims of very large percentages upon the proceeds, he acknowledged the principle laid down by financiers that increased revenue may be obtained by taking off the taxes which pressed upon industry, but declared that the first effect was always a diminution in revenue, and that time was found necessary to restore the amount. In these circumstances, he stated what the measure was which, under a deep conviction of its necessity, he was prepared to propose, and which, he was persuaded, would benefit the country, not only in her pecuniary interests, but in her security and character. His scheme was this: he proposed, for a period to be limited, an income tax of not more than 3 per cent., from which he would exempt all incomes under ￡150, and in which he would include not only landed but funded property. Sir Robert Peel calculated that the tax would yield ￡3,350,000 a year, a sum which, with an addition to the spirit duties in Ireland, and an export duty of 4s. on coals, would not only cover the existing deficiency, but enable him to remit indirect taxes to the amount of ￡1,200,000. The sliding scale had brought little credit to the Minister, and the income tax was in its nature an unpopular measure; but the proposal to reduce the custom duties on 750 out of the 1,200 articles in the tariff—to remove prohibitions altogether (in itself a vast concession to Free Trade doctrines)—to reduce the duties on raw materials of manufactures to five per cent. or less—to keep the duties on articles partially manufactured under twelve per cent., and on articles wholly manufactured under twenty per cent., was a scheme which excited general admiration. The measure was, indeed, contested by the Whig Opposition at every stage. The preliminary resolutions were debated for eight nights. There were many of Sir Robert Peel's old supporters who looked on the financial plan with distrust, as being founded, in a great measure, avowedly on those principles of political economy which they had been accustomed to sneer at; but, in truth, it was not unfavourable to the interests of their party. We have already seen that the new tax—at least, if a temporary one—was calculated to impose a far greater burden upon the manufacturing and moneyed class than upon the landowners; in fact, by exempting incomes under ￡150 a year, and assessing land only upon its net rental, the burden was imposed almost entirely upon that middle class which was the especial object of the dislike of Tories of the more advanced kind. At the same time, by cheapening articles of general consumption, the Minister did something towards securing popularity among the working classes, who, as exemplified in the Chartist agitation, were not always disposed to take part against the landowners. The Income Tax Bill passed, after considerable opposition in the Commons. An amendment proposed by Lord John Russell was rejected by a vote of 302 to 202, and another amendment, proposing the reading of the Bill on that day six months, having been thrown out on the 18th of April by a vote of 285 to 188, the third reading was carried by a majority of 130 on the 30th of May. No debate took place in the Lords until the third reading, when the Bill passed by a majority of 71.
The changes in, and uncertainty about, the Ministry gave great uneasiness to Lord Wellington, whose operations in Spain depended so much on earnest support at home. During the latter part of the autumn and the commencement of winter, whilst his army was in cantonments, he was actively preparing to surprise the French, and make himself master of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. With much activity, but without bustle, he made his preparations at Almeida. Pretending to be only repairing the damages to its fortifications, he got together there ample stores and a good battering train. He prepared also a portable bridge on trestles, and regulated the commissariat department of his army; he also had a great number of light, yet strong waggons constructed for the conveyance of his provisions and ammunition, to supersede the clumsy and ponderous carts of the Portuguese.The way having been thus prepared, Mr. O'Connell proceeded to the scene of the contest. On the day of his departure his carriage, with four horses, drove into the yard of the Four Courts, where he had been engaged on an important trial. Having concluded his address to the judges, he put off his wig and gown, and proceeded through the hall, where he was followed by the lawyers and the persons from the different courts, so that the judges were deserted. Stepping into his open barouche, accompanied by Mr. P. O'Gorman, secretary of the Association, Mr. R. Scott, solicitor, and Father Murphy, the celebrated parish priest of Corrofin, he drove off amidst the cheers of all present. The greatest possible excitement prevailed along the whole route, and he enjoyed an ovation at every town he passed through. At Ennis, though he entered the town by daybreak, the traders and the inhabitants turned out in procession to meet him. Priests swarmed in all the streets, and in every face there was an unconcealed expression of joyous and exulting triumph.Soon shall thy arm, unconquered Steam! afar
The purport of these Cabinet Councils was generally understood by the country; but as yet only the most sanguine anticipated the proposal of Sir Robert Peel, when the Times newspaper on the 4th of December announced, apparently from secret information, that it was the intention of the Government to repeal the Corn Laws, and to call Parliament together in January for that purpose. The assertion was received with incredulity, not only by the Opposition, but by the Ministerial journals. One organ of the Tory party placarded its office with a bill, headed "Atrocious fabrication of the Times!" But the latter journal, on the following day, declared that it "adhered to its original announcement." Day by day the controversy raged in the newspapers; but the news was too probable not to gain credence. The result was a conviction throughout the country that the Times had really obtained information of the Government's intentions; but as a matter of fact its information was incorrect, as the Cabinet, far from intending to repeal the Corn Laws, had made up its mind to retire.Napoleon's Desire for an Heir—The Archduchess Maria Louisa—The Divorce determined upon—The Marriage—Napoleon quarrels with his Family—Abdication of Louis Buonaparte—Napoleon's bloated Empire—Affairs of Sweden—Choice of Bernadotte as King—He forms an Alliance with Russia and Britain—His Breach with Napoleon—Insanity of George III.—Preparations for a Regency—Restrictions on the Power of the Regent—Futile Negotiations of the Prince of Wales with Grey and Grenville—Perceval continued in Power—The King's Speech—Reinstatement of the Duke of York—The Currency Question—Its Effect on the Continent—Wellington's Difficulties—Massena's Retreat—His Defeat at Sabugal—Surrender of Badajoz to the French—Battle of Barrosa—Wellington and Massena—Battles of Fuentes d'Onoro and Albuera—Soult's Retreat—End of the Campaign—Our Naval Supremacy continues—Birth of an Heir to Napoleon—Elements of Resistance to his Despotism—Session of 1812—Discussions on the Civil List—Bankes's Bill—Assassination of Perceval—Renewed Overtures to Grey and Grenville—Riots in the Manufacturing Districts—Wellington's Preparations—Capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz—Wellington and Marmont—Battle of Salamanca—Wellington enters Madrid—Victor's Retreat—Incapacity of the Spaniards—The Sicilian Expedition—Wellington's Retreat—Its Difficulties—Wellington's Defence of his Tactics—A Pause in the War.The unnatural state of things induced by the war had now brought about a great change in our currency. As we could manage to get in our goods to the Continent by one opening or another, but could not get the produce of the Continent in return, it would have appeared that we must be paid in cash, and that the balance of specie must be in our favour; but this was not the case. By our enormous payments to our troops in Spain, Portugal, and Sicily, as well as in the East and West Indies, and by our heavy subsidies, gold had flowed out of the country so steadily that there appeared very little left in it, and bank paper had taken its place. On the Continent, impoverished as they were, the people tenaciously clung to their gold, and Buonaparte alone could draw it from them in taxes. He always took a heavy military chest with him on his expeditions, and his officers also carried the money necessary for themselves in their belts, or otherwise about their immediate persons. The gold being enormously diminished in quantity in England, was carefully hoarded on all hands, thus again increasing the scarcity, and raising the value of it. The price of bullion had risen from twenty to thirty per cent., and here was a further strong temptation to hoard or send guineas to the melting-pot. This state of things led a certain class of political economists to call for a repeal of the Act for suspension of cash payments, and Francis Horner obtained a committee of inquiry into the causes of the decrease of gold and the increase of paper: and this committee came to the conclusion that the true cause of the evil lay in the excess of paper, and that the way to restrain it would be to allow the demand for gold at the Bank. But the truth was that the cause of the evil was not the excess of paper, but the enormous diminution of gold; and to have opened a legal demand for gold which could not be had would only have produced a panic, and a complete and horrible assassination of all credit and all business. But there were clearer-sighted men in Parliament, who declared that, though bullion had risen in price, bank-notes would still procure twenty shillings' worth of goods in the market, and that they were not, therefore, really depreciated in value. That was true, but guineas had, notwithstanding, risen to a value of five- or six-and-twenty shillings, and might be sold for that. Gold had risen, but paper had not fallen; and gold could not take the place of paper, because it did not, to any great extent, exist in the country; if it had, paper must have fallen ruinously. Mr. Vansittart and his party, therefore, moved resolutions that the resumption of cash payments being already provided for six months after the conclusion of peace, was an arrangement which answered all purposes, and ought not to be disturbed; that this would keep all real excess of paper in check, and leave gold to resume its circulation when, by the natural influence of peace, it flowed again into the country. These were, accordingly, carried.
But smoothly as this transaction had passed, there was a hurricane behind. The threatened extension of the measure to Scotland roused all the Presbyterian bigotry of the North. The synod of Glasgow and other synods passed resolutions vowing to oppose any interference with the Scottish Act for the suppression of Popery. Press and pulpit were speedily inflamed; associations were formed in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and most of the towns, for the defence of the Protestant interest. All the old persecutions and insults of Catholics were renewed; they could not safely appear in the streets, or remain safely in their houses. Not even those liberal enough to advocate the just rights of Catholics were secure, at least from rude treatment. Dr. Robertson, the historian, was hooted, when he went abroad, as a favourer of the Papists. There was as yet no more toleration in Scotland than if a William III. had never appeared in England. From Scotland the intolerant leaven spread southwards. It grew fiercer and fiercer, and in a while found a proper champion in the hot-headed Lord George Gordon, whose exploits as the ringleader of riot, and fire, and confusion, culminated two years later in the scenes of destruction and terror for ever memorable as the Gordon riots.These resolutions being carried, it then became a question whether the prince would accept this restricted regency. Burke had warned the House that perhaps, after all, the prince would not accept such a shadow of his own natural powers, and he warned them likewise that the British Parliament might find itself electing the prince as regent, whilst the Irish Parliament was nominating him as by right. But it would appear that the Whigs were so anxious to seize on office, even under such cramping restrictions, and to see Pitt dethroned, that they advised the prince to accept. A joint committee of Lords and Commons waited on him on the 30th of January, the anniversary of the execution of Charles I., and another joint-committee the same day waited on the queen, and the next day their answers, accepting their respective offices, were communicated to Parliament. The prince, indeed, qualified his acceptance by declaring that he did it only as a temporary arrangement, and in the hope, notwithstanding the peculiar and unprecedented circumstances, of preserving the interests of the king, the crown, and the people.
LORD ELDON. (After the Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence.)详情
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