类型:奇幻地区:̤发布:2020-10-28 23:24:00


After a lengthened and toilsome Session Parliament was at length prorogued by the king in person on the 10th of September. Several important measures which had passed the Commons were rejected by the Lords. Their resistance had caused great difficulty in carrying through the imperatively demanded measures of Municipal Reform; and they had deprived the Irish Church Temporalities Act of one of its principal features. But their obstructive action was not confined to great political measures of that kind. They rejected the Dublin Police Bill, and other measures of practical reform. The consequence was that the Liberal party began to ask seriously whether the absolute veto which the Lords possessed, and which they sometimes used perversely and even factiously, was compatible with the healthful action of the legislature and the well-being of the country. It was roundly asserted that the experience of the last two years had demonstrated the necessity of reform in the House of Lords. The question was extensively agitated, it was constantly discussed in the press, public meetings were held throughout the country upon it, and numerous petitions were presented to Parliament with the same object. On the 2nd of September Mr. Roebuck, while presenting one of these petitions, announced his intention of introducing early in the next Session a Bill to deprive the House of Lords of its veto upon all measures of legislation, and to substitute for it a suspense of power, so that if a Bill thrown out by the Lords should pass the Commons a second time, and receive the Royal Assent, it might become law without the concurrence of the Peers. Mr. Ripon also gave notice of a motion to remove the bishops from the House of Peers; while Mr. Hume indignantly denounced the humiliating ceremonials observed in the intercourse between the Commons and the Lords. Although the whole proceeding at a conference between the two Houses consists of the exchange of two pieces of paper, oral discussions not being permitted, the members of the House of Commons are obliged to wait upon the Lords, standing with their hats off, the members of the Upper House, as if they were masters, remaining seated with their hats on. The state of feeling among the working classes on this subject was expressed in the strongest language in an address to Mr. O'Connell from the "non-franchised inhabitants of Glasgow." They warmly deprecated the unmanly and submissive manner in which the Ministers and the Commons had bowed bare-headed to the refractory Lords. They demanded that responsibility should be established in every department of the State; and they said, "As the House of Lords has hitherto displayed a most astounding anomaly in this enlightened age by retaining the right to legislate by birth or Court favour, and being thereby rendered irresponsible, it follows it must be cut down as a rotten encumbrance, or be so cured as to be made of some service to the State, as well as amenable to the people."[398]

The great philosopher of this period was John Locke (b. 1632; d. 1704). Locke had much to do with the governments of his time, and especially with that extraordinary agitator and speculator, Ashley, Lord Shaftesbury, whom he attended in his banishment, and did not return till the Revolution. Yet, though so much connected with government, office, and the political schemers, Locke remained wonderfully unworldly in his nature. His philosophical bias, no doubt, preserved him from the corrupt influences around him. He was a staunch advocate of toleration, and wrote three letters on Toleration, and left another unfinished at his death. In these he defended both religious and civil liberty against Jonas Proast and Sir Robert Filmer, advocates of the divine right of kings. His "Thoughts on Education" and his "Treatises on Government" served as the foundations of Rousseau's "Emile" and his "Contrat Social." Besides these he wrote numerous works of a theological kind, as "The Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity;" and in his last years, "A Discourse upon Miracles," "Paraphrases of St. Paul," and "An Essay for the Understanding of St. Paul's Epistles;" a work "On the Conduct of the Understanding," and "An Examination of Father Malebranche's Opinion of Seeing all Things in God." But his great work is his "Essay concerning the Human Understanding." This may be considered the first pure and systematic treatise on metaphysics in the English language; and though the pursuit of the science since his time has led to the rejection of many of his opinions, the work will always remain as an able and clearly-reasoned attempt to follow the method of Bacon in tracing the nature and operations of the understanding.The campaign in Flanders commenced with the highest expectation on the part of England. Cumberland had now obtained the great object of his ambitionthe command of the Allied army; and the conqueror of Culloden was confidently expected to show himself the conqueror of Marshal Saxe and of France. But Cumberland, who was no match for Marshal Saxe, found the Dutch and Austrians, as usual, vastly deficient in their stipulated quotas. The French, hoping to intimidate the sluggish and wavering Dutch, threatened to send twenty thousand men into Dutch Flanders, if the States did not choose to negotiate for a separate peace. The menace, however, had the effect of rousing Holland to some degree of action. When the vanguard of Saxe's army, under Count L?wendahl, burst into Dutch Flanders, and reduced the frontier forts of Sluys, Sas-van-Ghent, and Hulst, the Dutch rose against their dastardly governors, and once more placed a prince of the House of Nassau in the Stadtholdership. William of Nassau, who had married Anne, daughter of George II. of England, was, unfortunately, not only nominated Stadtholder, but Captain-General and Lord High Admiral; and, being equally desirous of martial glory with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Cumberland, he headed the Dutch army, and immediately began to contend with Cumberland for dictation as to the movements of the army. In these disastrous circumstances, the Allies came to blows with the French at the village of Laufeldt, before Maestricht. The Dutch in the centre gave way and fled; the Austrians on the right, under Marshal Batthyani, would not advance out of their fortified position; the brunt of the whole onset, therefore, fell upon the English. Cumberland found himself engaged with the whole French army, directed by the masterly mind of Saxe, and animated by the presence of Louis himself. The dispositions of Cumberland were bad, but the bravery of the British troops was never more remarkable. Though it was impossible for them to prevail against such overwhelming numbers, they did not retreat before they had, according to Saxe's own acknowledgment, killed or wounded nine thousand of the French.

[See larger version]

It remained for Austria to put down the revolution in Venice. That city had bravely stood a siege for nearly twelve months, when, after wonderful displays of heroism, its defenders were at last compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. This glorious defence was mainly owing to the extraordinary energy and activity of Manin, who was at the head of the Government. After the capitulation he escaped with General Hesse and other leaders of the Republican party. Manin settled in Paris, where he lived in retirement, supporting himself by giving lessons in Italian. He died there in 1857. The people of Venice honoured his memory by going into mourning on the anniversary of his death, though, by doing sosuch is the meanness of maliceeven ladies incurred the penalties of fine and imprisonment at the hands of the Austrians.

Besides the general compact, there was a particular one, which engaged that, should England and France remain at war on the 1st of May, 1762, Spain should on that day declare war against England, and should at the same time receive possession of Minorca. The existence of these compacts was kept with all possible secrecy; but Mr. Stanley penetrated to a knowledge of them in Paris, and his information was fully confirmed from other sources. If these, however, had left any doubt, it would have been expelled by the receipt of a French memorial through M. Bussy, to which a second memorial on Spanish affairs was appended. Pitt received the proposition with a tone of indignation that made it manifest that he would suffer no such interference of a third partywould not yield a step to any such alliance. He declared, in broad and plain terms, that his majesty would not permit the affairs of Spain to be introduced by France; that he would never suffer France to presume to meddle in any affairs between himself and Spain, and that he should consider any further mention of such matters as a direct affront. A similar message was dispatched to the Earl of Bristol in Spain, declaring that England was open to any proposals of negotiation from Spain, but not through the medium of France. This was, in fact, tantamount to a defiance to both France and Spain, and would undoubtedly have put an end to all further negotiation had there not been a purpose to serve. The Spanish treasure ships were yet out at sea on their way home. Any symptoms of hostility would insure their capture by the British, and cut off the very means of maintaining a war. General Wall, therefore, concealed all appearance of chagrin; admitted that the memorial had been presented by France with the full consent of his Catholic majesty, but professed the most sincere desire for the continuance of peaceful relations.During this first Session of the new Parliament Ministers had carried matters with a high hand, imagining that they had a majority which would enable them to resist popular opinion, as they had done since the conclusion of the war. But the progress of the Session did not warrant this conclusion. They were defeated in several very important contests, and before the Session came to an end were made to feel that they had greatly declined in public confidence. In the severe debate of the 18th of May, on the motion of Mr. Tierney for a Committee of Inquiry into the state of the nation, they had a majority of more than two to one. But this was very different on the 3rd of June, when they only carried their Foreign Enlistment Bill by a majority of thirteen. On the question of the resumption of cash payments, the conversion of Mr. Peel to the principles of Horner was a rude shock to the Cabinet, and shrewd men prognosticated that, the entire system of Mr. Vansittart being thus overturned, he must retire. Then came not merely partial conversions, or near approaches to defeat, but actual defeats. Such were those on Sir James Mackintosh's motion for inquiry into the criminal laws, and on Lord Archibald[147] Hamilton's for Scottish burgh Reform. The question of Catholic Emancipation had approached to a crisis, and a majority of only two against it was, in truth, a real defeat. The consequence was that the conviction of the insecurity of Ministers was not only shared by men of impartial judgment, but by themselves. Towards the end of the Session Lord Liverpool himself was found writing to a friend, that unless the measure for the return to cash payments raised the confidence of the public in them, they must soon go out:"I am quite satisfied that, if we cannot carry what has been proposed, it is far better for the country that we should cease to be a government. After the defeats we have already experienced during this Session, our remaining in office is a positive evil. It confounds all ideas of government in the minds of men. It disgraces us personally, and renders us less capable every day of being of any real service to the country, either now or hereafter. If, therefore, things are to remain as they are, I am quite sure that there is no advantage, in any way, in our being the persons to carry on the public service. A strong and decisive effort can alone redeem our character and credit, and is as necessary for the country as it is for ourselves."

Accordingly, Benningsen communicated Alexander's willingness for peace, on the 21st of June, and the armistice was ratified on the 23rd. Buonaparte determined then, as on most occasions, to settle the treaty, not by diplomatists, but personally, with the Czar. A raft was prepared and anchored in the middle of the Niemen, and on the morning of the 25th of June, 1807, the two Emperors met on that raft, and embraced, amid the shouts of the two armies arranged on each bank. The two Emperors retired to a seat placed for them on the raft, and remained in conversation two hours, during which time their attendants remained at a distance. The town of Tilsit was declared neutral ground, and became a scene of festivities, in which the Russian, French, and even Prussian officers, who had been so long drenching the northern snows with each other's blood, vied in courtesies towards each other. Amongst them the two Emperors appeared as sworn brothers, relaxing into gaiety and airs of gallantry, like two young fashionables. On the 28th the King of Prussia arrived, and was treated with a marked difference. He was bluntly informed, that whatever part of his territories were restored would be solely at the solicitation of the Emperor of Russia.

But fresh light continued to break on the all-pervading corruption. The Commissioners of Naval Inquiry presented a fresh report, abounding with proofs of the villainies that had been going on in that department. The Military Commissioners had a like frightful exposure to make of frauds and peculations which had been going on wholesale, especially in the West Indies. The same result followed the investigations of the committee that inquired into the appointment of cadets to the East India Service. There was abundance of proofs of the sale of such places, and even Lord Castlereagh was implicated. It was found that as President of the Board of Controlthe Minister, in fact, for Indian Affairshe had presented a writership to his friend, Lord Clancarty, which Clancarty had bartered with a Mr. Reding for a seat in Parliament, and which Reding immediately sold for three thousand pounds. Lord Archibald Hamilton immediately moved that Lord Castlereagh had been guilty of an abuse of his authority as President of the Board of Control. Castlereagh replied that, when he presented his friend, Lord Clancarty, with the writership, he had no notion that Reding was a regular broker in parliamentary seats, though he did not deny that Reding had told him that he meant to make over the place to a Member of Parliament who had a nephew whom he wished to send to India, and that this Member of Parliament would vote accordingly. The virtuous Wilberforce seemed to hold this easy-going morality, for he voted for Lord Castlereagh, and, in spite of the denunciations of Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. W. Smith, and others, Lord Archibald Hamilton's motion was rejected by two hundred and sixteen against a hundred and sixty-sevenand Lord Castlereagh walked away scathless. There was immediately another charge brought against him, in company with the Honourable Henry Wellesley, the brother of General Wellesley, and late Secretary of the Treasury, for corrupt practices in the election of members of Parliament; but the ministerial majority outvoted Mr. Madox, the mover. About the same time Mr. Curwen brought in a Bill to prevent such practices, and to obtain purity of Parliament by extinguishing bribery, and this was suffered to pass when all vitality had been taken out of it. On the 15th of June Sir Francis Burdett also made a motion for extensive parliamentary Reform; but the greater part of the members of Parliament had already left town, and the motion was rejected by seventy-four against fifteen. On the 21st the Session was closed with a speech which took a hopeful view of the war in Spain, and also of that which Austria had again commenced. We may now return to the details of these great contests on the Continent.



King of the prow, the ploughshare, and the sword!The repetition of these infamous outrages excited great public indignation, and led to a general demand that something effectual should be done to put a stop to them by rendering the law more prompt and effective, and the punishment more disgraceful. In compliance with this demand, Sir Robert Peel brought in a Bill upon the subject, which was unanimously accepted by both Houses, and rapidly passed into law. Sir Robert Peel in his Bill proposed to extend the provisions of the Act of the year 1800, passed after the attempt of Hatfield on the life of George III., to cases where the object was not compassing the life, but "compassing the wounding of the Sovereign." "I propose," he said, "that, after the passing of this Act, if any person or persons shall wilfully discharge or attempt to discharge, or point, aim, or present at or near the person of the Queen any gun, pistol, or other description of firearms whatsoever, although the same shall not contain explosive or destructive substance or material, or shall discharge or attempt to discharge any explosive or destructive substance or material, or if any person shall strike, or attempt to strike the person of the Queen, with any offensive weapons, or in any manner whatever; or, if any persons shall throw or attempt to throw any substance whatever at or on the person of the Queen, with intent in any of the cases aforesaid to break the public peace, or to excite the alarm of the Queen, etc., that the punishment in all such cases shall be the same as that in cases of larcenynamely, transportation for a term not exceeding seven years." But a more effective punishment was added, namely, public whipping, concerning which Sir Robert Peel remarked, "I think this punishment will make known to the miscreants capable of harbouring such designs, that, instead of exciting misplaced and stupid sympathy, their base and malignant motives in depriving her Majesty of that relaxation which she must naturally need after the cares and public anxieties of her station, will lead to a punishment proportioned to their detestable acts."Catherine of Russia, thus rid of the only two monarchs who were likely to trouble her with scruples, hastened her grand design of absorbing Poland. She professed to be much scandalised and alarmed at the proceedings of the king, who had attended a dinner given by the municipality of Warsaw on the anniversary of the passing of their new Constitution, at which he had not only responded to the toast of his health by drinking to the nation and the municipality, thus sanctioning them as great powers, as the French had done, but had sat complacently amid the loud cries of "Long live Liberty! Long live the nation, and our citizen king, the friend of the Rights of Man!" The Poles had certainly become enthusiastic imitators of the French; they had[397] established clubs in imitation of the clubs of Paris, had sent a deputation to congratulate the French on their Revolution, and had passed various decrees of a Jacobin character. Neither did she lack a sanction from the Poles themselves. There had always been violent parties in that kingdom; and at this time a number of nobles, who opposed the new Constitution, sent a deputation with a memorial to the Empress, at St. Petersburg, inviting her to assist them in restoring the old Constitution. Catherine gave them a ready promise, and, on the 14th of May, Felix Potocki, Branicki, Rzewinski, and eleven other nobles, met at Targowica, and entered into a confederacy for this purpose. This confederacy was followed, only four days after its signing, by a protest issued by Bulgakoff, the Russian Minister, at Warsaw, against the whole of the new institutions and decrees. On the 18th of May, the same day that this proclamation was issued at Warsaw, a hundred thousand Russian troops marched over the Polish frontiers, attended by some of the pro-Russian confederates, and assumed the appearance of an army of occupation.



Copyright © 2020