The next person to attempt the impossible in the vain endeavour to keep the vessel of the old French monarchy afloat with all its leaks and rottenness, was the Archbishop of Toulouse, Loménie de Brienne. He had vigorously opposed Calonne; but there was no way of raising the necessary revenue but to adopt some of the very proposals of Calonne, and tax the privileged classes, or to attempt to draw something still from the exhausted people. As the less difficult experiment of the two, he was compelled to cast his eyes towards the property of the nobles and the Church; but he found the nobles and the clergy as ready to sacrifice him as they had been to sacrifice Calonne. When one or two of the more pliant or more enlightened members of those classes ventured to remark on the vast amount of untaxed property, and particularly of tithes, there was an actual tempest of fury raised. Tithes were declared to be the voluntary offerings of the piety of the faithful, and therefore not to be touched. As further loans were out of the question, some one ventured to assert that the only means of solving the difficulty was to assemble the States General. "You would convoke the States General?" said the Minister in consternation. "Yes," replied Lafayette, who was bent on revolutionising France, as he had helped to revolutionise America—"yes, and something more than that!" These words were taken down as most exceptionable and dangerous. All that the Assembly of Notables could be brought to do was to confirm the abolition of the corvée, and to pass a stamp act. They would not move a step further, and they were dismissed by the king on the 25th of May, 1787. The Parliament, or Chief Court of Justice, adopted a similar course, and it also was dismissed. The king then promulgated a new constitution, but it fell hopelessly to the ground.
Meantime Cambacérès and Fouché had dispatched couriers to Louis Buonaparte, in Holland, to march down troops to the defence of Antwerp; and he had not only done that, but had opened the sluices on the borders of the Scheldt, and laid the country under water, to prevent the march of the British. He also had ordered the erection of numerous batteries, and Bernadotte arrived in about a fortnight, by orders of Napoleon, to resist the advance of the British. From forty to fifty thousand troops were assembled in and around Antwerp, and hosts of Dutch and Belgian militia swarmed over the country. This was certain to be the case if any time was allowed, and it was now agreed, in a council of war, that it was not possible to proceed further. In fact, they were no longer allowed to remain where they were. Their provisions were rapidly being exhausted, sickness was spreading amongst the troops, and the fire of the enemy's batteries from both sides of the river compelled them to fall down the stream. That was the end of the campaign; the rest was a foolish and murderous delay in the island of Walcheren, without any conceivable purpose. There was no use in retaining the island, for we could at any time blockade the mouths of the Scheldt, and our men on board the ships were comparatively healthy; but in this swamp of death the soldiers continued dying like rotten sheep. The island of Walcheren, to which they were now confined, is a spongy swamp, below the level of the sea at high water. The wet oozes through the banks, and stagnates in the dykes, and is only capable of being pumped out by windmills. The ground is covered often with mud and slime, and the inhabitants are sickly and sallow in aspect, and of loose and flaccid muscles. Yet, in this den of fever and death, the commanders seemed determined to retain the army till it perished entirely. The Earl of Chatham himself returned to London on the 14th of September, with as many of the sick as he could take. At this time he left eleven thousand, out of the seventeen thousand quartered on the island of Walcheren, on the sick-list, and rapidly dying; yet neither he nor Sir Eyre Coote, who succeeded him, seems to have felt the necessity of saving the army by retiring from the place. They attributed the unhealthiness to the dykes being cut, and the surrounding country being flooded in the hot season. No matter what was the cause, the army was perishing, and ought to have been removed; but, so far from this, the Ministers seemed determined to keep possession of this useless and pestilential swamp at any cost. As it was imagined that the drinking of the water was the cause of the fever, Thames water was carried over for the troops, five hundred tons per week being required. But it was not the drinking it only that caused disease and death, but the standing and working in it, as many of them did, up to the middle for many hours together, and the malaria arising from the oozy soil. As the roofs in Flushing were knocked to pieces by the storming of the town, British workmen, with bricks, mortar, tiles, and tools, were sent over to repair them, so as to protect the sick in the hospitals, though plenty of workmen and materials might have been had in the country.WILLIAM COBBETT.
Thus baffled, he returned to Dublin, where he met with an enthusiastic reception. A meeting was held the next day to make arrangements for insuring his return for Clare. On the 1st of June O'Connell started for Ennis. All the towns he passed through turned out to cheer him on, with green boughs and banners suspended from the windows. He arrived at Nenagh in the night, and the town was quickly illuminated. Having travelled all night, he retired to rest at Limerick; and while he slept the streets were thronged with people anxious to get a glance at their "Liberator." A large tree of Liberty was planted before the hotel, with musicians perched on the branches playing national airs. The Limerick trades accompanied him in his progress towards Ennis, where his arrival was hailed with boundless enthusiasm, and where a triumphal car was prepared for him. Thus terminated a progress, during which he made twenty speeches, to nearly a million of persons. On the 30th of July O'Connell was a second time returned for Clare, on this occasion without opposition, and the event was celebrated with the usual demonstrations of joy and triumph.
Amid these popular outbursts the great body of the Spaniards were calmly organising the country for defence. A junta or select committee was elected in each district, and these juntas established communications with each other all over the land. They called on the inhabitants to furnish contributions, the clergy to send in their church plate to the mint, and the common people to enrol themselves as soldiers and to labour at the fortifications. The Spanish soldiers, to a man, went over to the popular side, and in a few days the whole nation was in arms. The crisis of which Buonaparte had warned Murat was come at once, and the fight in Madrid on the 2nd of May was but the beginning of a war which was to topple the invader from his now dizzy height. This made Buonaparte convene a mock national junta, or Assembly of Notables, to sanction the abdication, and the appointment of Joseph Buonaparte as the new monarch. Joseph entered Madrid on the 6th of June, and proclaimed a new constitution.
The convention, which did not contain a word about the opium trade, gave great dissatisfaction at home, and Lord John Russell declared in the House of Commons, on the 6th of May, that it had been disapproved of by the Government; that Captain Elliot had been recalled, and Sir Henry Pottinger appointed plenipotentiary in his stead. The Chinese, meanwhile, soon violated their engagements. On the 19th of February an English boat was fired upon from North Wang-ton, in consequence of which the squadron under Captain Sir H. Flemming Senhouse attacked the forts on the 26th of February, and in a very short time the British colours were flying on the whole chain of these celebrated fortifications, and the British became masters of the islands without the loss of a single man. Proceeding up the river towards the Whampoa Reach they found it fortified with upwards of forty war junks, and the Cambridge, an old East Indiaman. But they were all silenced in an hour, when the marines and small-arm men were landed and stormed the works, driving before them upwards of 3,000 Chinese troops, and killing nearly 300. Next day Sir Gordon Bremer joined the advanced squadron, and the boats were pushed forward within gunshot of Howgua's fort; and thus, for the first time, were foreign ships seen from the walls of Canton. On the 2nd of May the Cruiser came up, having on board Major-General Sir Hugh Gough, who took command of the land forces. On approaching the fort it was found to be abandoned, as well as those higher up the river, the Chinese having fired all their guns and fled. The Prefect or Governor of Canton then made his appearance, accompanied by the Hong merchants, announcing that Keshin having been recalled and degraded, and the new Commissioner not having arrived, there was no authority to treat for peace. Captain Elliot again hesitating, requested the naval and military commanders to make no further movement towards the city until it was seen what was the disposition of the provincial authorities at Canton, and admitted the city to a ransom of ￡1,250,000. But Sir G. Bremer observed in a despatch that he feared the forbearance was misunderstood, and that a further punishment must be inflicted before that arrogant and perfidious Government was brought to reason. He was right; for on the 17th of March a flag of truce, with a message sent by Captain Elliot to the Imperial Commissioner, was fired upon by the Chinese. In consequence of this, a force under Captain Herbert, who was in advance of the rest of the armament, carried in succession all the forts up to Canton, taking, sinking, burning, and otherwise destroying the flotilla of the enemy, and hoisted the union Jack the same day on the walls of the British factory.LICHFIELD HOUSE, ST. JAMES'S SQUARE, LONDON.
O'Connell also wielded against the Government the fierce democracy of Roman Catholic Ireland. Sir Robert Peel had irritated him by some contemptuous remarks on his Repeal agitation, and he rose in his own defence, like a lion in his fury. He proceeded to give a description of the condition of Ireland, "which," said Mr. Brougham, "if not magnified in its proportions, if not painted in exaggerated colours, presents to my mind one of the most dismal, melancholy, and alarming conditions of society ever heard of or recorded in any State of the civilised world." Mr. O'Connell thus addressed the Treasury bench:—"Tell the people of Ireland that you have no sympathy with their sufferings, that their advocate is greeted with sneers and laughter, that he is an outlaw in the land, and that he is taunted with want of courage, because he is afraid of offending his God. Tell them this, and let them hear also in what language the Secretary of State, who issued the proclamation to prevent meetings in Ireland, has spoken of Polignac." A powerful defence of his system of peaceful agitation, and a fierce defiance and denunciation of the existing Administration, closed this remarkable speech, whose effect upon the House, Mr. Roebuck said, was great and unexpected. Its effect upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland, it need not be added, was immense.
It was towards the end of May before Marshal M?llendorf, the Prussian general, began the campaign. He then attacked the French, and drove them out of their entrenchments at Kaiserslautern with great slaughter. There, however, his activity seemed to cease; and on the 12th of July the French again fell upon him. He fought bravely for four whole days, supported by the Austrians; but both these Powers were compelled to retreat down the Rhine, the Prussians retiring on Mayence and the Austrians crossing the river for more safety. The French marched briskly after the Prussians, took Trèves, and then sent strong detachments to help their countrymen to make a complete clearance of Belgium and to invade Holland. Clairfait, who was still hovering in Dutch Flanders, was attacked by overwhelming numbers, beaten repeatedly, and compelled to evacuate Juliers, Aix-la-Chapelle, and finally Cologne. The French were so close at his heels at Cologne that they shouted after him that "that was not the way to Paris." Coblenz, where the Royalist Emigrants had so long made their headquarters, though strongly fortified, soon after surrendered. The stout fortress of Venloo, on the Meuse, and Bois-le-Duc, as promptly surrendered, and the French marched on Nimeguen, near which the Duke of York lay, hoping in vain to cover the frontiers of Holland. The people of Holland, like those of Belgium, were extensively Jacobinised, the army was deeply infected by French principles, and to attempt to defend such a country with a mere handful of British was literally to throw away the lives of our men. Yet the duke stood stoutly in this hopeless defence, where half Holland ought to have been collected to defend itself.
[See larger version]
They succeeded in landing unobserved by any of the sentinels posted along the shore, where they had to wait for the boats fetching over the second detachment, there not being boats enough. Before this arrived, they began to climb the rocks by a narrow track, so steep and rugged that they could only ascend by clinging to the bushes and projecting crags. Directly above their heads was a watch-post of a captain and a hundred and fifty men. There, as they drew near the summit, Colonel Howe—a brother of Lord Howe, who fell at Ticonderoga—leading the van, the watch became aware of a noise, and fired down the rocks, directed by the sound. The English soldiers imprudently returned the volley upwards, instead of reserving it until they had gained the ascent. They continued their scramble up, however, with redoubled ardour, and the French, on their sudden appearance, panic-struck, fled. The second detachment soon followed them, and the whole little army stood on the heights above the town before the break of day.It was not to be expected that the difficulties of Ireland would have passed away with the paroxysm of the crisis through which that nation had been working into a better state of existence. The social evils of that country were too deep-rooted and too extensive to be got rid of suddenly. The political disturbances above recorded, coming immediately after the famine, tended to retard the process of recovery. Another failure of the potato crop caused severe distress in some parts of the country, while in the poorer districts the pressure upon the rates had a crushing effect upon the owners of land, which was, perhaps, in the majority of cases, heavily encumbered. This led to the passing of a measure for the establishment of a "rate in aid," in the Session of 1849, by which the burden of supporting the poor was more equally divided, and a portion of it placed upon the shoulders most able to bear it. In anticipation of this rate the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Charles Wood, proposed an advance of ￡100,000 to meet the existing pressure. The proposed "rate in aid" was sixpence in the pound, to be levied in every union in Ireland, towards a general fund for the relief of the poor, and this was connected with a provision that the maximum rate should not exceed five shillings in the pound in any electoral division. The proposition of the Government, with the exception of the maximum rate clause, was agreed to after a good deal of discussion and various amendments. In the House of Lords the Bill was carried with difficulty, after much discussion and the moving of various amendments.详情
Copyright © 2020