Napoleon had so far executed his plans with wonderful success. He had rescued Bavaria, reduced the enemy's army and prestige at once by the capture of Ulm and Vienna, and had driven the Austrians simultaneously from Upper Italy and the Tyrol. But still his situation, for any general but himself, was very critical. The defeated army of the Emperor Francis had united itself to that of the young Emperor of Russia, in Moravia; the two archdukes were mustering great bodies of troops on the confines of Hungary, ready to rush forward and swell the Austro-Russian army; and the King of Prussia was watching the movements of the two parties, ready to strike, if France met with a reverse. Napoleon saw that his only security lay in a bold and decisive blow. He therefore crossed the Danube on the 23rd of November, and began a brisk march into the heart of Moravia, to attack the main body of the Allies under their two Emperors. He was soon before Brünn, its little capital, and the Allies retreated, at his approach, as far as Olmütz. This movement was, however, made to form a junction with the twenty-four thousand men under Benningsen. This being effected, they amounted to about eighty thousand men, but of these, many of the Austrians were troops already discouraged by defeat, and many more were raw recruits. The French were in number about equal, but consisting of veteran soldiers flushed with victory. On the 2nd of December Napoleon brought on the battle of Austerlitz, and before the close of the day the forces of the Coalition were completely beaten, losing upon the field some 27,000 killed and wounded, 20,000 prisoners, and 133 pieces of cannon.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.Some remarkable commercial reforms were introduced by Robinson and Huskisson in 1824. In the previous year the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to boast of a very large surplus, and this year he had a surplus of ￡1,050,000. Part of it was devoted to the repair and embellishment of Windsor Castle; ￡40,000 were devoted towards the erection of rooms for the reception of the library of George III., which was presented to the British Museum by his successor, whose gift, however, was somewhat discounted by the fact that he was with difficulty dissuaded from selling the collection. With ￡57,000 Government purchased Angerstein's collection of pictures, which became the nucleus of the National Gallery. But the main object of the Budget was not expenditure but economy. The Four per Cents. were redeemed or exchanged for Three-and-a-Half per Cent. Stock, and a death-blow was given to the old system of bounties by a reduction of that on the herring fishery and the immediate cessation of that on inferior kinds of linen, while that on the higher class of linen was annually decreased ten per cent. There was further a reduction of the duties on rum and coals, with the result, as Robinson prophesied, that lower prices considerably increased the consumption. His greatest innovations, however, concerned the wool and silk trades. In the former there prevailed a great conflict of interests. The agriculturists wished for the prohibition of foreign wool; the manufacturers desired the retention of an export duty, together with free importation. The judicious Chancellor effected a compromise by which the duty on foreign wool was reduced from 6d. to 1d. per pound, while the exportation of English wool was sanctioned on a similar duty. The fear of a large exportation of English wool proved so groundless that by 1826 only 100,000 pounds in weight had been exported, while 40,000,000 pounds of foreign wool had been introduced.
The approaching marriage of the Queen was anticipated by the nation with satisfaction. We have seen, from the height to which party spirit ran, that it was extremely desirable that she should have a husband to stand between her and such unmanly attacks as those of Mr. Bradshaw. An occurrence, however, took place in the early part of the year very painful in its nature, which added much to the unpopularity of the Court. This was the cruel suspicion which was cast upon Lady Flora Hastings by some of the ladies about the Queen, and is supposed to have caused her early death. She was one of the ladies in attendance on the Duchess of Kent; and soon after her arrival at Court it was generally surmised, from the appearance of her person, that she had been privately married, the consequence of which was that, in order to clear her character, which was perfectly blameless, she was compelled to submit to the humiliation of a medical examination. Shortly afterwards she died of the disease which was suspected to be pregnancy, and the public feeling was intensified by the publication of the acrimonious correspondence which had taken place between her mother on the one side and Lady Portman and Lord Melbourne on the other.But besides nascent war, the Anti-Slavery movement of Wilberforce, Pitt's friend, was decidedly adverse to the expected increase of income. The Abolitionists had now begun to abandon the use of slave-grown sugar, and they proposed to extend this to all the produce of the West India islands, till the slave trade should be extirpated. This alarmed Pitt, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he prevailed on Wilberforce to discourage this project for awhile. The Abolition cause received serious injury from the frightful insurrection which had broken out in St. Domingo, and from the outrages which the insurgent blacks had perpetrated on the whites. Such were held up by the friends of slavery as the natural consequences of novel doctrines of philanthropy. What made the matter more serious was, that Brissot and the worst of the Jacobins were the authors of these bloody tragedies, by their violent advocacy of the universal adoption of the Rights of Man. All these men were enthusiastic applauders of the English Abolitionists. Paine was a prominent Abolitionist; and Clarkson, the right hand of Wilberforce, was an equal admirer of the French Revolution, and gave serious offence by attending a dinner at the "Crown and Anchor," to celebrate the taking of the Bastille. These circumstances had a great effect when Wilberforce, on the 2nd of April, brought in his annual motion for the immediate abolition of the slave trade. Fox and Pitt eloquently supported him; but Dundas, now become Secretary of State, prevailed to introduce into the motion the words "gradual abolition." The Wilberforce party managed to carry a motion in the Commons, for the abolition of the trade to the West Indies, on the 1st of January, 1796; but this was thrown out in the Lords, where it was opposed by the Duke of Clarence, who had been in the West Indies, and thought the descriptions of the condition of the slaves overdrawn. It was also opposed by Thurlow, by Horsley, Bishop of St. Davids, and a considerable majority.
This fleet had enough to do to cope with Rodney in the West Indian waters. Rodney, as we have hinted, with twenty sail of the line, came up with De Guichen's fleet of twenty-three sail of the line, besides smaller vessels, on the evening of the 16th of April, off St. Lucia. He came into action with it on the 17th, and succeeded in breaking its line, and might have obtained a most complete victory, but that several of his captains behaved very badly, paying no attention to his signals. The Sandwich, the Admiral's ship, was much damaged in the action, and the French sailed away. Rodney wrote most indignantly home concerning the conduct of the captains, and one of them was tried and broken, and some of the others were censured; but they were protected by the spirit of faction, and escaped their due punishment. Rodney, finding he could not bring the French again to engage, put into St. Lucia to refit, and land his wounded men, of whom he had three hundred and fifty; besides one hundred and twenty killed. De Guichen had suffered far more severely. Rodney again got sight of the French fleet on the 10th of May, between St. Lucia and Martinique; but they avoided him, and made their escape into the harbour of Fort Royal. Hearing of the approach of a Spanish fleet of twelve sail of the line, and a great number of lesser vessels and transports, bringing from ten thousand to twelve thousand men, Rodney went in quest of it, to prevent its junction with the French; but Solano, the Spanish admiral, took care not to go near Rodney, but, reaching Guadeloupe, sent word of his arrival there to De Guichen, who managed to sail thither and join him. This now most overwhelming united fleet of France and Spain left Rodney no alternative but to avoid an engagement on his part. He felt that not only our West India Islands, but the coasts of North America, were at its mercy; but it turned out otherwise.The active mind, strong will, and philanthropic spirit of Mr. Stanley, now transferred from Ireland to the Colonial Secretaryship, found an important field for their exercise in the Colonial Office. He applied his energies to the abolition of negro slavery in the West Indies, and was happily more successful in that work than in his attempt to tranquillise Ireland. The time had arrived when the labours on behalf of the negro race, of Clarkson, Wilberforce, Mackintosh, Brougham, Buxton, Lushington, and William Smith were to be followed with success, by the abolition of slavery in the British West Indian colonies. The Society of Friends, as became that philanthropic body, led the van in the movement which began in 1823, when Wilberforce presented a petition from them in the House of Commons. Soon afterwards, when Mr. Buxton brought forward a resolution condemning slavery as repugnant to Christianity and to the British Constitution, Mr. Canning moved a counter-resolution as an amendment, recommending reforms in the system, which, he alleged, might be safely left to the West Indian Assemblies; and if they refused to do their duty, the Imperial Parliament might then interfere. These resolutions were carried, although any one acquainted with the history of the West Indies might have known that they would be perfectly futile. No amelioration of the system could be rationally expected from the reckless adventurers and mercenary agents by whom many West Indian plantations were managed. The infamous cruelty of which the missionary Smith had been the victim showed that, while the colonial laws allowed the most horrible atrocities, there existed among the planters a spirit of brutality which did not shrink from their perpetration. Time was when such barbarities might have escaped with impunity; when in Great Britain it was maintained in high places, and even by the legislature, that slavery was defended by an impregnable fortress, that property in human flesh was not only expedient for the good of the commonwealth, and beneficial for the negro, but also a sacred institution, founded on the authority of the Bible. But, thanks to the indefatigable labours of the friends of the negro race, such abominable dogmas had been long reprobated by public opinion, and at the period now referred to no man ventured to promulgate such heresies in England. The moral sense of the nation had condemned slavery in every form. The missionaries had, in the midst of tremendous difficulties and cruel persecutions, enlightened the West Indian slaves with regard to their rights as men and their privileges as Christians; and while they inculcated patience and meek submission even to unjust laws, they animated their crushed hearts with the hope that the blessings of liberty would soon be enjoyed by them, and that humanity and justice would speedily triumph over the ruthless tyranny under which they groaned.
Mr. Canning had been offered the Governor-Generalship of India. Before his departure, he was resolved, if possible, to make a breach in the system of Parliamentary exclusiveness. On the 29th of March he gave notice of a motion to bring in a Bill for the admission of Roman Catholic peers to seats in Parliament, and on the following day supported it by a speech of great power of argument and brilliant eloquence, illustrating his position very happily from the case of the Duke of Norfolk, and his official connection with the ceremonial of the coronation. He asked, "Did it ever occur to the representatives of Europe, when contemplating this animating spectacle—did it occur to the ambassadors of Catholic Austria, of Catholic France, or of states more bigoted in matters of religion—that the moment this ceremony was over the Duke of Norfolk would become disseized of the exercise of his privileges amongst his fellow peers?—that his robes of ceremony were to be laid aside and hung up until the distant (be it a very distant!) day when the coronation of a successor to his present most gracious Sovereign might again call him forth to assist at a similar solemnisation?—that, after being thus exhibited to the eyes of the peers and people of England, and to the representatives of the princes and nations of the world, the Duke of Norfolk—highest in rank amongst the peers—the Lord Clifford, and others like him, representing a long line of illustrious ancestry, as if called forth and furnished for the occasion, like the lustres and banners that flamed and glittered in the scene, were to be, like them, thrown by as useless and trumpery formalities?—that they might bend the knee and kiss the hand, that they might bear the train or rear the canopy, might discharge the offices assigned by Roman pride to their barbarian ancestors—
Meanwhile, Sir Robert Peel applied himself with great energy and diligence to the legislative work that he had proposed for his Government. On the 17th he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to relieve Dissenters from the disabilities under which they laboured with regard to the law of marriage. It was felt to be a great grievance that Nonconformists could not be married except according to the rites of the Established Church, to which they had conscientious objections. Attempts had been made by the Whigs to relieve them, but in a hesitating manner, and with only a half recognition of the principle of religious equality. Sir Robert Peel took up the subject in a more liberal spirit and with more enlightened views. He proposed that, so far as the State had to do with marriage, it should assume the form of a civil contract only, leaving the parties to solemnise it with whatever religious ceremonies they chose. The Bill for this purpose met the approval of the House, and would have satisfied the Dissenters if Sir Robert Peel had remained in office long enough to pass it. All the committees of the preceding year were reappointed, in order to redeem, as far as possible, the time lost by the dissolution. A measure was brought forward for the improvement of the resources of the Church of England, by turning some of the larger incomes to better account, and by creating two additional bishoprics, Ripon and Manchester. The Premier did not act towards the Dissenters in the same liberal spirit with regard to academic education as he did with regard to marriage. They were excluded from the privileges of the Universities; and yet when it was proposed to grant a charter to the London University, that it might be able to confer degrees, the Government opposed the motion for an Address to the king on the subject, and were defeated by a majority of 246 to 136.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 English Opposition now began to comment with great vigour on the conduct of affairs. The spirit of that body rose higher, as the imminence of war became greater. Charles James Fox made a motion for a committee to inquire into the causes of the inefficiency of his Majesty's arms in North America, and of the defection of the people in the province of Quebec. He took a searching review of the whole proceedings since 1774, and contended that there was a great lack of ability and management somewhere, either in the Government which planned, or the generals who had to execute the Ministerial orders. His motion, however, was useless, for it was rejected by two hundred and forty to one hundred and four votes.
There was grave discontent and suffering in France, and Marshal Saxe, through General Ligonier, made proposals for peace. The news of these overtures gave great delight in England, but the king and Cumberland were bent on continuing the war. Pelham and Chesterfield advocated acceptance of the terms, but Newcastle sided with the king, to gain favour with him. As the terms, however, could not with decency be bluntly rejected, Cumberland solicited and obtained the post of negotiator in the matter for England; but the Ministers, desirous of peace, foreseeing that the wishes or the hasty temper of Cumberland would soon ruin every chance of accomplishing a treaty, the Earl of Sandwich was sent over to act as assistant to the duke; this meant that he was to overrule, if possible, the mischief Cumberland would be sure to make. Sandwich accordingly hastened over to Holland, and had a secret interview with the Marquis de Puisieulx, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, and, after much dodging on the part of the marquis, he managed to have the discussion removed from military negotiators to a congress at Aix-la-Chapelle.
NAPOLEON ABANDONING HIS ARMY. (See p. 54.)
In the army the cocked-hat and pigtail at first prevailed, but these were soon dismissed, as well as the great jack-boots of the cavalry. With the employment of the Hessian soldiers in the American war, and afterwards on the Continent, there prevailed amongst English gentlemen the Hessian boot; instead of the queue, cropped hair and close-fitting small hats became the vogue. Powdering became profuse, both amongst ladies and gentlemen, till Pitt taxed it, when it vanished, except from the heads of particularly positive old gentlemen and servants.The arrival of the news of Lord North's repeal of all the duties, except tea, produced little effect on the minds of the people of Boston. They declared that the unconstitutional principle was the real offence, and that it was still retained. The people of New York, however, had long inclined to gentler measures. They agreed to import all other articles except tea. Pennsylvania and other colonies followed their example; and they declared that they who wanted tea must smuggle it. The more fiery patriots declared against this lukewarmness; but the desire for the English goods was so great that, during the years 1770 and 1771, the importations were larger than they had ever been. Nevertheless, though the colonies appeared returning to order and obedience, the efforts of the Republican party never relaxed, and, especially in Massachusetts, there was a tone of sullen discontent. "Liberty poles" were still erected; exciting harangues were delivered on the anniversary of "the massacre," and the Assembly continued to manifest a stubborn resistance to the will of the Lieutenant-Governor.
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CARLTON HOUSE, LONDON (1780).THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON'S DUEL WITH LORD WINCHILSEA. (See p. 300.)This alarming event produced an instant and zealous union of the Court and the nobles. The heads of the aristocracy and of the dignified clergy threw themselves at the feet of the king, declaring the monarchy lost if he did not at once dismiss the States. The utmost confusion reigned in the palace. The unhappy Louis, never able to form a resolution of his own, was made to sway to and fro like a pendulum between opposite recommendations. The Assembly had adjourned on the 19th to the next day, and Bailly, on reaching the door of the hall, attended by many other deputies found it not only closed, but surrounded by soldiers of the French Guard, who had orders to refuse admittance to every one. Some of the fiercer young spirits amongst the deputies proposed to force their way in; but the officer in command ordered his men to stand to their arms, and showed that he would make use of them. Bailly induced the young men to be patient, and obtained leave from the officer to enter a court and write a protest. A brisk conference was then held, while standing in the Avenue de Paris, in the midst of pouring rain, as to whither they should betake themselves. The deputy Guillotin recommended that they should go to Old Versailles, to the Jeu de Paume, or Tennis Court, and this plan was adopted.
[See larger version]During this time St. Leger had been investing Fort Schuyler. The whole of his miscellaneous force did not exceed six hundred, exclusive of Indians; and on the 5th of August he learned that General Herkimer was advancing to the relief. He instantly dispatched Sir John Johnson with a party of regulars and a number of Indians to waylay him. Herkimer fell into the ambush, and was himself mortally wounded. St. Leger, finding that his light artillery made no impression on the walls of Fort Schuyler, and hearing a false rumour that Burgoyne was defeated, raised the siege, leaving behind him his artillery, tents, and stores. His precipitation was occasioned by the more certain news of the approach of Arnold with ten pieces of artillery and two thousand men, who indeed, reached Fort Schuyler two days after his retreat.This royal denunciation of the Repeal movement greatly exasperated O'Connell. He had recently submitted a plan to the Repeal Association, recommended by a committee of which he was chairman, for the restoration of the Irish Parliament. In the document containing this plan it was declared that the people of Ireland finally insisted upon the restoration of the Irish House of Commons, consisting of 300 representatives, and claimed, in "the presence of the Creator," the right of the Irish people to such restoration, stating that they submitted to the union as being binding in law, but solemnly denied that it was founded on right, or on constitutional principle, or that it was obligatory on conscience. The franchise was to be household suffrage, and the voting by ballot. It was also provided that the monarch or regent de jure in England should be the monarch or regent de facto in Ireland. This revolutionary scheme was to be carried into effect, "according to recognised law and strict constitutional principle." The arbitration courts which O'Connell had threatened to set up, in consequence of the superseding of magistrates connected with the Repeal Association, had actually been established; and the Roman Catholic peasantry, forsaking the regular tribunals, had recourse to them for the settlement of their disputes.详情
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