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The question of the regency was again brought forward, on the 6th of July, by Mr. Robert Grant, in pursuance of a notice he had previously given. The unbounded personal popularity of the kingwho, unlike his predecessor shut up in seclusion and resembling Tiberius, went about sailor-like through the streets, frank, talkative, familiar, good-humoured, delighting the Londoners with all the force of pleasant contrastrendered it increasingly difficult and delicate on the part of the Opposition to propose any measure disagreeable to a Sovereign who was the idol of the multitude, from whom no evil could be apprehended, and whose death, even in the ordinary course of Providence, it seemed something like treason to anticipate as likely to occur within a few months. They were, therefore, profuse in their declarations of respect, of admirationnay, almost of venerationfor a monarch whom a beneficent Providence had so happily placed upon the Throne of Great Britain. The division on Mr. Grant's motion was still more decidedly favourable to the Government, the numbers beingAyes, 93; noes, 247majority, 154.

On the 26th of March the Marquis of Chandos made an attempt to obtain some relief for the agricultural interest, which was then in a very depressed state, and the measure he proposed was the abolition of the malt tax, which brought in the sum of 4,812,000. Sir Robert Peel prophesied that if this tax were abolished they would be in for a property tax. He said: "My prophecy is, that if you repeal this tax you will make an income tax necessary; to that, be assured, you must come at last, if you repeal the malt tax. You will lay your taxes on articles of general consumptionon tobacco, on spirits, on wineand you will meet with such a storm that will make you hastily recede from your first advances towards a substitute. To a property tax, then, you must come; and I congratulate you, gentlemen of the landed interest, on finding yourselves relieved from the pressure of the malt tax, and[382] falling on a good, comfortable property tax, with a proposal, probably, for a graduated scale. And you who represent the heavy land of this country, the clay soilsthe soils unfit for barleyI felicitate you on the prospect that lies before you. If you think that the substitute will be advantageous to your interests, be it so; but do notwhen hereafter you discover your mistakedo not lay the blame upon those who offered you a timely warning, and cautioned you against exchanging the light pressure of a malt duty for the scourge of a property tax." The motion was rejected by a majority of 350 to 192.

The next morning, the 6th of December, the retreat commenced; but the soldiers and the inferior officers little dreamed that it was a retreat. They imagined that they were going to fight the Duke of Cumberland, and marched out in high spirits. The morning was foggy, and for some time the delusion was kept up; but when the fog cleared away, and they perceived that they were retracing their former route, their disappointment and rage became excessive. The retreat was rapidly continued through Preston, and on to Lancaster, which they reached on the 13th. On the 18th Oglethorpe and Cumberland, accompanied by a mob of country squires and mounted farmers, attacked Lord George Murray's rear near Penrith; but the countrymen were speedily put to flight by a charge of the Glengarry clan, and Oglethorpe fell back to the main body. They came up again, however, in the evening near the village of Clifton, and Lord George perceived, by the fitful light of the moon, the enemy forming behind the stone walls, and lining every hedge, orchard, and outhouse. Just as the royal troops commenced their charge they were stopped by a cross-fire of the concealed Highlanders, and, whilst affected by this surprise, Lord George cried, "Claymore! claymore!" and rushing down upon them with the Macphersons of Cluny, attacked them sword in hand. Being supported by the Stuarts of Appin, they compelled the English to retreat.

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In Germany, Frederick of Prussia was hard put to it. A fresh army of Russians, under General Soltikow, advanced to the Oder, and another army of Austrians, under Laudohn, advanced to form a junction with them. To prevent this, Frederick sent General Wedel to encounter the Russians, but he was defeated by them on the 23rd of July, with heavy loss. Frederick himself then hastened against them, but, before his arrival, the Austrians had joined Soltikow, making a united force of sixty thousand, which Frederick attacked, on the 12th of August, with forty-eight thousand, at the village of Kunersdorf, close to Frankfort-on-the-Oder. At first he was successful; but, attempting to push his advantages, he was completely beaten, the whole of his army being killed or scattered to three thousand men. So completely did his ruin now seem accomplished, that, expecting the Russians, Austrians, Poles, Swedes, and Saxons to come down on him on all sides, he once more contemplated taking the poison that he still carried about him; wrote a letter to that effect to his Prime Minister, and directed the oath of allegiance to be taken to his nephew, and that his brother, Prince Henry, should be regent; but finding that the Russians, who had lost twenty thousand men, were actually drawing off, he again took courage, was soon at the head of thirty thousand men, and with these was hastening to the relief of Dresden, when he was paralysed by the news that General Finck, with twelve thousand men, had suffered himself to be surrounded at Maxen, and compelled to surrender. Despairing of relieving Dresden during this campaign, Frederick eventually took up his winter quarters at Freiberg, in Saxony, and employed himself in raising and drilling fresh soldiers; compelled, however, to pay his way by debasing both the Prussian coin, and the English gold which he received in subsidy, by a very large alloy. The news, when it reached England, produced a transport of exultation. Bells were rung, cannon fired, and great rejoicings made, anticipatory of fresh tidings of wonderful success. But very different was the reality. Wentworth called on Vernon to bombard Carthagena from the harbour, whilst he assailed it on land; but Vernon replied that he could not get near enough to attack the town effectually, and that Wentworth must attempt the reduction of the Fort San Lazaro, which commanded the town, and might be taken by escalade. This was[76] attempted, and while our men were thus standing under a murderous fire, they discovered, to their consternation, that their scaling ladders were too short. But the escalade was persisted in: they remained splicing their ladders, and a detachment of Grenadiers, under Colonel Grant, reached the top of a rampart; but Grant was instantly killed, and the Grenadiers hurled back over the wall. Still, the bull-dog spirit of the English made them persist in this desperate attempt, till six hundredthat is, half of them, lay dead, when they drew off.

Now he is with the blest!

No sooner was this motion made than Spencer Perceval rose to oppose it. Sidmouth worked upon the king's feelings by sending in his resignation, and the Duke of Portland had offered to form a Ministry in accordance with the king's feelings. The Bill was, notwithstanding, brought in, read a first time, and the second reading fixed for the 12th of March. But now it was found that the king, who had previously received the Ministerial proposal without any comment, seeing his way clear with another Ministry, refused even his qualified consent to the prosecution of the measure. The Ministers postponed the second reading to the 18th, promising an after-statement of their reasons. But their reasons were already well known in both Houses of Parliament through the private communications of the embryo Cabinet. On the 25th of March there were motions made in both Houses for an adjournment: this was to allow the new Ministry to be announced in the interval. In the Lords, Earl Grenville seized the opportunity to make some observations in defence of the conduct of his Cabinet during its possession[534] of office. He said they had entered it with the determination to carry these important measures, if possible: the Sinking Fund, the abolition of the Slave Trade, and the relief of the Catholics. He was happy to say that they had carried two of them; and though they had found the resistance in a certain quarter too strong for them to carry the third, they conceived that never did the circumstances of the times point out more clearly the sound policy of granting it. France had wonderfully extended her power on the Continent; peace between her and the nations she had subdued would probably lead Buonaparte to concentrate his warlike efforts on this country. What so wise, then, as to have Ireland attached to us by benefits? With these views, the king, he said, had been induced to allow Ministers to make communications to the Catholics of Ireland through the Lord-Lieutenant, which he had seemed to approve; yet when these communications as to the intended concessions had been made, his Majesty had been induced to retract his assent to them. Ministers had then endeavoured to modify the Bill so as to meet his Majesty's views; but, not succeeding, they had dropped the Bill altogether, reserving only, in self-justification, a right to make a minute on the private proceedings of the Cabinet, expressing their liberty to bring this subject again to the royal notice, as circumstances might seem to require; but now his Majesty had called upon them to enter into a written obligation never again to introduce the subject to his notice, or to bring forward a measure of that kind. This, he said, was more than could be expected of any Ministers of any independence whatever. The point was, of course, of some constitutional importance, but there was much truth in Sheridan's remark: "I have often heard of people knocking out their brains against a wall, but never before knew of anyone building a wall expressly for the purpose."

Before there was any declaration of war, the King of France, on the 18th of March, issued an[255] order to seize all British ships in the ports of that kingdom; and, nine days afterwards, a similar order was issued by the British Government as to all French ships in their harbours. The first act of hostility was perpetrated by Admiral Keppel. He had been appointed first Admiral on the earliest news of the treaty of France with America; and, being now in the Channel with twenty ships of the line, he discovered two French frigates, La Licorne and La Belle Poule, reconnoitring his fleet. Not troubling himself that there had been no declaration of war, Keppel ordered some of his vessels to give chase; and, on coming up with the Licorne, a gun was fired over her, to call her to surrender; and the Frenchman struck his colours, but not before he had poured a broadside into the America, commanded by Lord Longford, and wounded four of his men. The "saucy" Arethusa, famed in song and story, in the meantime, had come up with the Belle Poule, and, after a desperate action, drove her in amongst the rocks, whilst the Arethusa herself was so disabled as to require towing back to the fleet. A schooner and a French frigate were soon afterwards taken; and, finding on board these vessels papers stating that the fleet in Brest harbour consisted of thirty-two sail of the line and ten or twelve frigates, Keppel returned to Portsmouth for reinforcements.

THE END OF THE '45. (After the Painting by John Pettie, R.A., by permission of the late Captain Hill.)

Hon. J. Hutchinson, made Lord Hutchinson, and a general.

Lord Anglesey had expressed himself so strongly in his communications with the Government, that he was afraid of being regarded by them as a partisan. He deprecated giving the executive any additional powers, though not without apprehensions of a rebellion, which he believed he had sufficient force to quell, even in the improbable event of foreign aid, upon which some of the Irish people might, however rashly, rely for success. On the 20th of July he wrote: "It appears not improbable there may be an attempt to introduce arms, and finally insurrection. I am quite sure the disaffected are amply organised for the undertaking. They are partially, but ill, armed. Pikes, however, to any amount, and at very short notice, would be easily manufactured, if they are not already made and secreted. Still, I cannot bring myself to believe that the ruling characters are at all inclined to put their cause to the test of arms; and if they do, I cannot imagine how, without foreign aidof which there appears no fearthey can calculate upon success." The priests had become all silent and reserved, even towards those with whom they had hitherto maintained confidential intercourse. No money would tempt them to make a single disclosure, and there was a general impression among them that some great event was at hand. The law officers of the Crown had been consulted as to the expediency of prosecuting some of the agitators for the most violent of their speeches; but their advice was, that it could not be done with any prospect of success, because their most exciting stimulants were accompanied by declarations that they wished only to guard the Government against insurrection, which only concession could prevent. Such being the condition of Ireland, the position of the Government was in the highest degree perplexing. The House of Commons was for Emancipation; the Lords were opposed to it; the king was opposed to it. The strength of political parties was nicely balanced in Parliament, and strong political excitement prevailed on both sides of the Irish Sea. Peel, in view of this state of affairs, says: "I maturely and anxiously considered every point which required consideration, and I formed a decision as to the obligation of public duty, of which I may say with truth that it was wholly at variance with that which the regard for my own personal interests or private feelings would have dictated." His intention was to relinquish office; but he resolved not to do so without placing on record his opinion that a complete change of policy was necessary, that the Catholic question should no longer be an open question, and that the whole condition of Ireland, political and social, should be taken into consideration by the Cabinet, precisely in the same manner in which every other question of grave importance was considered, and with the same power to offer advice upon it to the Sovereign. He also gave it as his decided opinion that there was less evil and less danger in conceding the Catholic claims than in persevering in the policy of resistance. He left London for Brighton soon after the close of the Session, having made a previous arrangement with the Duke of Wellington that he should send him a memorandum explanatory of his views on the state of Ireland and on the Catholic question, and that he should write to the Duke fully in reply. On the 9th of August the Duke wrote to him as follows:"I now send you the memorandum which I sent to the king on the state of Ireland, a letter which I sent to him at the same time, his answer, a memorandum upon the Roman Catholic[281] question which I have since drawn up, and a letter which I wrote yesterday to the Lord Chancellor."

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The most distinguished dramatic writers of the time were Sheridan Knowles, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Mr. Justice Talfourd, and Miss Mitford. Mr. Knowles's first drama, Caius Gracchus, appeared in 1815, and was followed by more successful efforts, namely, The Wife, a Tale of Mantua, The Hunchback, Virginius, The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, William Tell, The Love Chase, Old Maids, and The Daughter. Ultimately, however, he became disgusted with the stage from religious scruples, and taking a fancy to polemics, he published two attacks upon Romanism, entitled, "The Rock of Rome" and "The Idol demolished by its own Priest." He ended his career as a preacher in connection with the Baptist denomination, and died in 1862, having enjoyed a literary pension of 200 a year since 1849.