APSLEY HOUSE, HYDE PARK CORNER, LONDON.
We must return from victory abroad to discontent at home. On the 28th of January, 1817, the Prince Regent opened the fifth Session of Parliament. In his speech he expressed indignation at "the attempts which had been made to take advantage of the distresses of the country for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence;" and he declared himself determined to put down these attempts by stern measures. The seconder of the Address in the Commons had the good sense to believe that the demagogues and their acts would die of themselves. Certainly, if the demagogues had no cause on which to base their efforts, those efforts must have proved fruitless; and the wisdom of Government consisted in seriously inquiring whether there were such causes. To attempt to insure peace by smothering distress is the old remedy of tyrants, and is like heaping fuel on fire to put it out. Whilst this debate was proceeding, a message arrived from the Lords to announce that the Regent, on his return from the House, had been insulted, and some missile thrown through the windows of his carriage. The House agreed upon an Address to the Regent on this event, and then adjourned.PRISONERS OF WAR.
At length the Sikhs moved on to meet the British on the 18th of December. When they came in sight, the British bugles sounded, and the wearied soldiers, who had been lying on the ground, started up and stood to their arms. The Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief rode from regiment to regiment, cheering the spirits of their men, and rousing them to the needful pitch of valour by encouraging exhortations. About two miles from Moodkee, Gough, at the head of the advanced guard, found the enemy encamped behind sandy hillocks and jungle, 20,000 strong, with forty guns, which immediately opened fire as he approached. The battlefield was a sandy plain, on which the view was obstructed by small hills, which prevented the belligerents from seeing one another till they were quite near. For some time the contest was maintained on both sides by the artillery. Then General Gough ordered the advance of a column of cavalry—the 3rd Light Dragoons, the 5th Light Cavalry, and the 4th Lancers. The column was launched like an immense thunderbolt against a mass of Sikh cavalry, and proved so irresistible in its terrific onset that it broke them up into fragments, scattered them about, and swept along the whole line of the enemy, cutting down the gunners, and suspending for a time the roar of their artillery. Soon afterwards the infantry came into action, led on by Sir Harry Smith, General Gilbert, and Sir John M'Caskill. The Sikhs fought bravely and obstinately at every point; but when the steady incessant fire of the artillery had done its work, a general charge was made, with loud, exultant cheers, and the enemy were driven from their ground with tremendous loss. The day had closed upon the battlefield, but the routed enemy were pursued for a mile and a half by the light of the stars.
But the chief source whence the means at their disposal were derived was the magnificent bounty of the citizens of the United States of America. The supplies sent from America to Ireland were on a scale unparalleled in history. Meetings were held in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and other cities in quick succession, presided over by the first men in the country. All through the States the citizens evinced an intense interest, and a noble generosity, worthy of the great Republic. The railway companies carried free of charge all packages marked "Ireland." Public carriers undertook the gratuitous delivery of packages intended for the relief of Irish distress. Storage to any extent was offered on the same terms. Ships of war, without their guns, came to the Irish shores on a mission of peace and mercy, freighted with food for British subjects. Cargo after cargo followed in rapid succession, until nearly 100 separate shipments had arrived, our Government having consented to pay the freight of all donations of food forwarded from America, which amounted in the whole to ￡33,000. The quantity of American food consigned to the care of the Society of Friends was nearly ten thousand tons, the value of which was about ￡100,000. In addition to all this, the Americans remitted to the Friends' Committee ￡16,000 in money. They also sent 642 packages of clothing, the precise value of which could not be ascertained. There was a very large amount of remittances sent to Ireland during the famine by the Irish in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no records of those remittances prior to 1848; but after that time we are enabled to ascertain a large portion of them, though not the whole, and their amount is something astonishing. The following statement of sums remitted by emigrants in America to their families in Ireland was printed by order of Parliament:—During the years 1848, ￡460,180; 1849, ￡540,619; 1850, ￡957,087; 1851, ￡990,811.Amongst the novelists of the later period of the reign we may name Horace Smith, author of "Brambletye House," etc.; Leigh Hunt, the poet, author of "Sir Ralph Esher;" Peacock, author of "Headlong Hall;" Beckford, author of the wild Eastern tale of "Vathek;" Hamilton, author of "Cyril Thornton," etc.; Maturin, author of "Melmoth the Wanderer," etc.; Mrs. Brunton, author of "Discipline," "Self-Control," etc.; and Miss Ferrier, author of "Marriage" and other novels of a high order. Jane Austen (b. 1775; d. 1817), author of "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park," "Sense and Sensibility," etc., all distinguished by the nicest sense of character, was far above any of these, and ranks with the foremost of our writers of fiction.
On the 1st of March Sir Francis Burdett presented a Catholic petition, and in a speech of great eloquence and force moved for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the grievances of which it complained. The question thus brought before the House of Commons was one on which the Cabinet was divided. Canning had come down to the House from a sick bed, and on a crutch, to give his support to the motion. Plunket delivered one of his most powerful speeches on the same side. Peel took upon himself the heavy task of replying to both. He was supported by Mr. Leslie Foster. Brougham closed the debate; and the motion was carried by a majority of thirteen, amid loud cheers. Resolutions were adopted, and a Bill founded upon them passed the Commons, but it was lost in the Upper House, where it was thrown out, on the 19th of May, by a majority of sixty-five. It was on that occasion that the Duke of York, then heir presumptive to the Throne, made the celebrated declaration against all concession to the Catholics, which excited against him intense animosity in Ireland. At the conclusion of a vehement speech he said:—"If I have expressed myself warmly, especially in the latter part of what I have said, I must appeal to your lordships' generosity. I feel the subject most forcibly; but it affects me the more deeply when I recollect that to its agitation must be ascribed that severe illness and ten years of misery which had clouded the existence of my beloved father. I shall therefore conclude with assuring your lordships that I have uttered my honest and conscientious sentiments, founded upon principles I have imbibed from my earliest youth, to the justice of which I have subscribed after careful consideration in maturer years; and these are the principles to which I will adhere, and which I will maintain, and that up to the latest moment of my existence, whatever may be my situation of life, so help me God!"As he made these professions, he was, from the very commencement of the year 1812, and nearly six months before the avowal of hostilities, drawing the invading force nearer to the frontiers near Detroit. General Hull had a body of two thousand five hundred men ready for the enterprise, well supplied with artillery and stores; and scarcely was the declaration of war made than he hastened over the frontier line and seized on the British village of Sandwich. There he issued a bragging proclamation, calling on the "oppressed" Canadians to abandon the despotism of kingship and become free citizens of free America. To meet the invasion, the British had in Canada only about four thousand regulars, and the militia might number as many more. To make worse of the matter, the Commander-in-Chief, Sir George Prevost, was a very inefficient officer. But Major-General Brock sent orders to the British officers at Fort St. Joseph to attack the American port of Michilimachimac, which he did on the 17th of July, a month after the American declaration of war. The place was taken, with sixty prisoners and seven pieces of artillery. This raised the courage of the Indians in that quarter, who had long thirsted for revenge of the continual injuries received from the Americans, and they called on their different tribes to arm and support the British. At the news of the capture of Sandwich by Hull, Brock sent Colonel Procter to Fort Amherstberg to operate against him. He also followed quickly himself, and found Procter besieging Hull in Fort Detroit, to which he had retreated across the border. By the 10th of August he compelled Hull to surrender with his two thousand five hundred men and thirty pieces of artillery. Not only Fort Detroit and a fine American vessel in the harbour were taken, but, by the capitulation, the whole of the Michigan territory, which separated the Indian country from Canada, was ceded to us, much improving our frontier.
The year 1743 opened with a mighty struggle on the subject of gin. In 1736, as we have seen, the awful increase of drunkenness, which was attributed to the cheapness of gin, induced a majority of the House of Commons to pass an Act levying twenty shillings a gallon duty upon the liquor, and charging every vendor of it fifty pounds per annum for a licence. Walpole at the time declared that such an attempt to place gin beyond the reach of the poor consumers would fail; that it would fail equally as a source of revenue, for it would lead to wholesale smuggling and every possible evasion of the law. The event had proved Walpole only too correct in his prognostications. So far from checking the use of gin, the Act had stimulated it enormously. The licences, so preposterously high, were wholly neglected; no duty was paid, yet the destructive liquid was sold at every street corner. Ministers now saw that, by attempting too much, every thing in this case had been lost. They were sacrificing the revenues only to sacrifice the well-being of the people. They determined, therefore, to reduce the licences from fifty pounds to one pound per annum, and at the same time to retain a moderate duty on the liquor. By this means the fatal compound would remain much at the same price, but the vendors would be induced to take out licences, and the revenues would be greatly improved, whilst the whole sale of the article would be more under the restraints of law and police. A Bill was framed on these principles, and passed rapidly through the Commons; but in the Lords it encountered a determined opposition. It was, however, carried entire, and, says Smollett, "we cannot help averring that it has not been attended with those dismal consequences which the Lords in the Opposition foretold."
The Swedes cursed the less than half assistance of their British allies, and Gustavus endeavoured to fight his way without them. He continued to win victory after victory on land; but Catherine soon brought down on his squadron of galleys, which attended his march along the coast to keep up his supplies, an overwhelming fleet of galleys of her own. A desperate battle ensued, but the Swedish galley-fleet was at length overcome. Gustavus was thus greatly embarrassed, and compelled to stand merely on the defensive, till it was time to go into winter quarters. He continued for twelve months to do battle with Russia, and, though with insufficient forces, threatened the very capital of that country. A little support from Britain, Prussia, and Holland, would have enabled Sweden to regain its territories on the eastern shores of the Baltic, to curb the power of Russia, and to assume that station in the North which is essential to the peace of Europe. These countries, however, had not the statesmanship to appreciate this point, or the friendly feeling to effect it, and Gustavus was left to struggle on alone.
The Marquis of Ely " " 45,000In the midst of this constitution-making, famine was stalking through the country, and bankruptcy was menacing the exchequer. The first loan of thirty millions had proved a total failure; a second of eighty, according to a fresh plan of Necker's, was equally a blank. With the necessities of the Government, the necessities of the people kept pace. The whole country was revolutionising instead of working; destroying estates instead of cultivating them. Farmers were afraid of sowing what they might never reap; trade and manufactures were at an end, for there was little money and no confidence. The country was not become unfruitful, but its people had gone mad, and the inevitable consequence was an ever-increasing famine. This, instead of being attributed to the true causes, was ascribed by the mob orators to all kinds of devilish practices of the Court and the aristocracy.The advice of Pitt prevailed. Ministers determined to bring in two Acts in accordance with his counsels: an Act declaratory of the supreme power of Parliament over the colonies, and another repealing the Stamp Act, on the plea which he had suggested. The Declaratory Act passed readily enough, for all parties agreed in it; but the repeal of the Stamp Act met with stout opposition. Grenville, with the pertinacity of a man who glories in his disgrace, resisted it at every stage. When he was hissed by the people, he declared that "he rejoiced in the hiss. If it were to do again, he would do it!" In the Lords there was a strong resistance to the repeal. Lord Temple, who had now deserted Pitt, supported his brother Grenville with all his might. Lords Mansfield, Lyttelton, and Halifax, the whole Bedford faction, and the whole Bute faction, opposed it. The king declared himself for repeal rather than bloodshed.
On the Rhine there was a good deal of sharp fighting between the French and Austrians. General Bender had been compelled to surrender Luxembourg, on the 7th of July, and allowed to retire with his army of ten thousand men into Germany, on condition of not serving again till exchanged. There then remained little on either bank of the Rhine to restrain the advance of the French, except Mayence on the left bank, and Manheim and Düsseldorf on the right. Pichegru, in August, made himself master of both Düsseldorf and Manheim, and was advancing to the reduction of Heidelberg when he was met by old General Wurmser, and driven back to Manheim. He was, in fact, meditating treachery. Jourdain, who was advancing in another direction to co-operate with Pichegru in the reduction of Mayence, was encountered by Clairfait, and driven back to Düsseldorf. Clairfait then attacked the French forces already investing Mayence, and the garrison making a sally at the same time, the French were completely dispersed, and part retreated north and part south. Wurmser then invested Manheim, and compelled its surrender on the 22nd of November. Pichegru signed an armistice with the Austrians before joining them. Jourdain also retreated.This majority of the Coalition compelled Lord Shelburne to resign; but the rest of the Administration remained in their places, in the hope that Pitt would now take the Premiership. In fact, the king, on the 24th of February, sent for Pitt and proposed this to him; but Pitt was too sensible of the impossibility of maintaining himself against the present combination of parties. The next day Dundas moved and carried an adjournment for three days, to give time for the arrangement of a new Cabinet. Pitt continued to persist in declining to take the Premiership, and on the 2nd or 3rd of March the king sent for Lord North. His proposal was that North should resume the management of affairs; but North insisted on bringing in his new friends, and to that the king objected. Matters remained in this impracticable condition till the 12th, when the king sent for North, and proposed that the Duke of Portland should be asked to form an Administration; but this did not at all advance matters, for Portland was equally determined with North to maintain the Coalition, and the king was resolved to have nothing to do with Fox, whilst Fox was equally determined not to admit the king's friend, Lord Stormont, to any Cabinet of which he was a member. On the 31st the announcement was made that Pitt had resigned, and that the king was prepared to submit to the terms of the Coalition. George, with deep and inward groans, submitted himself once more to the slavery of the great Whig houses, and, as some small recompense, the Coalition admitted Lord Stormont to a place in the Cabinet.
CHAPTER II. THE REIGN OF GEORGE I.News now came that the Brest fleet was putting to sea. On the 7th of May Lord Bridport went on board and ordered anchor to be weighed. Not a man stirred; nor was it likely. No sooner had Lord Bridport told them what was not true, that their demands were acceded to, than, in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, Ministers had spoken of the subject in very ambiguous terms, and the Board of Admiralty had only ended the ambiguity by issuing an order on the 1st of May, commanding, in consequence of "the disposition lately shown by the seamen of several of his Majesty's ships," that the arms and ammunition of the marines should be kept in readiness for use in harbour, as well as at sea; and that on the first appearance of mutiny the most vigorous measures should be taken to quell it. This was ordering the officers of marines to fire on the sailors who should refuse to be thus shamefully juggled out of their promised rights by the Government. On board the London, Vice-Admiral Colpoys pushed the matter so far that his men resisted orders; and as one was unlashing a gun, Simpson, the first-lieutenant, told him that if he did not desist he would shoot him. The man went on unlashing, and Simpson shot him dead! On this, the sailors, in a rage, disarmed the officers and proceeded to hang Simpson at the yard-arm. Colpoys then begged for the lieutenant's life, assuring them that the order was his own, and that Simpson had only done his duty in obeying it. The chaplain and surgeon joined in the entreaty; and the men, far more merciful and reasonable than their commanders, complied. They ordered, however, Colpoys and all the officers to their respective cabins, and put the marines, without arms, below deck. Similar scenes took place on the other ships, and the fleet remained in the hands of the sailors from the 7th to the 11th of May, when Lord Howe arrived with an Act of Parliament, granting all their demands. Howe, who was old and infirm, persuaded them to prepare a petition for a full pardon. They, however, accompanied this petition by an assurance that they would not serve again under the tyrannical officers whom they had put on shore; and this was conceded. Admiral Colpoys was included in this list of officers proscribed by their oppressed men, along with four captains, twenty-nine lieutenants, seventeen masters' mates, twenty-five midshipmen, five captains of marines, three lieutenants, four surgeons, and thirteen petty officers of marines. The whole being arranged on the 15th of May, the red flag was struck; and the deputies waited on Lord Howe to express their obligations to him for his kind services on behalf of the oppressed seamen. His lordship gave them luncheon, and then was escorted by them, along with Lady Howe, on board the fleet. On their return, they carried Lord Howe on their shoulders to the Governor's House. Sir Roger Curtis's squadron had just come in from a cruise, and on learning what had passed, declared themselves ready to support the rest of the fleet; but the news which Howe had brought at once satisfied them, and all eagerly prepared to set sail, and demonstrate their loyal zeal by an encounter with the Brest fleet.In the course of 1810 the French were expelled completely from the East and West Indies, and the Indian Ocean. Guadeloupe, the last of their West India Islands, was captured in February, by an expedition conducted by General Beckford and Admiral Sir A. Cochrane. In July an armament, sent out by Lord Minto from India, and headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Keating, reduced the Isle of Bourbon; and, being reinforced by a body of troops from the Cape of Good Hope, under Major-General John Abercromby and Admiral Bertie, the Isle of France, much the more important, and generally called Mauritius, surrendered on the 3rd of December. Besides a vast quantity of stores and merchandise, five frigates and about thirty merchantmen were taken; and Mauritius became a permanent British colony. From this place a squadron proceeded to destroy the French factories on the coast of Madagascar, and finished by completely expelling them from those seas.详情
Copyright © 2020