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The Irish peasantry very soon learnt that whatever Emancipation had done or might do for barristers and other persons qualified to hold situations under Government, from which Roman Catholics had previously been almost entirely excluded, it had done nothing to remove or even to mitigate their practical grievances. They found that the rackrents of their holdings were not reduced; that the tax-collector went round as usual, and did not abate his demands; that the tithe-proctor did not fail in his visits, and that, in default of payment, he seized upon the cow or the pig, the pot or the blanket. Through the machinery of the Catholic Association, and the other associations which O'Connell had established, they became readers of newspapers. They had read that a single tithe-proctor had on one occasion processed 1,100 persons for tithes, nearly all of the lower order of farmers or peasants, the expense of each process being about eight shillings. It would be scarcely possible to devise any mode of levying an impost more exasperating, which came home to the bosoms of men with more irritating, humiliating, and maddening power, and which violated more recklessly men's natural sense of justice. If a plan were invented for the purpose of driving men into insurrection, nothing could be more effectual than the tithe-proctor system. Besides, it tended directly to the impoverishment of the country, retarding agricultural improvement and limiting production. If a man kept all his land in pasture, he escaped the impost; but the moment he tilled it, he was subjected to a tax of ten per cent, on the gross produce. The valuation being made by the tithe-proctora man whose interest it was to defraud both the tenant and the parson,the consequence was that the gentry and the large farmers, to a great extent, evaded the tax, and left the small occupiers to bear nearly the whole burden; they even avoided mowing their meadows in some cases, because then they should pay tithe for the hay.[See larger version]But the Peace of Vienna was now concluded, and, on the 30th of October, Baron Lichtenthurm appeared in the camp of the Tyrolese, and delivered a letter to the leaders from the Archduke John, requesting them peaceably to disperse, and surrender the country to the Bavarians. This was a terrible blow to these brave men. They appeared prostrated by the news, and Hofer announced to Spechbacher, who was still fighting with the Bavarians, that peace was made with France, and that the Tyrol was forgotten! Hofer returned to his native vale of Passeyr, and still held out against the French, and the Italian mercenaries under Rusca, whom he defeated with great slaughter. But traitors were amongst them, who guided the French to their rear. Hofer escaped into the higher Alps, but thirty of the other leaders were taken and shot without mercy. Another traitor guided the French to Hofer's retreat in the high wintry Alps. He had been earnestly implored to quit the country, but he refused. As the French surrounded his hut, on the 17th of February, 1810, he came out calmly and submitted. He was carried to the fortress of Mantua, and Napoleon sent an order that he should be shot within four-and-twenty hours. He would not suffer himself to be blindfolded, nor would he kneel, but exclaimed"I stand before my Creator, and, standing, I will restore to Him the spirit He gave!" Thus died, on the 20th of February, 1810, the brave Hoferanother murdered man, another victim of the sanguinary vengeance of Buonaparte against whatever was patriotic and independent.

The passing of these Acts was marked by attacks on Lord Clive. Burgoyne brought up a strong report from his Committee, and, on the 17th of May, moved a resolution charging Clive with having, when in command of the army in Bengal, received as presents two hundred and thirty-four thousand pounds. This was carried; but he then followed it by another, "That Lord Clive did, in so doing, abuse the power with which he was entrusted, to the evil example of the servants of the public." As it was well understood that Burgoyne's resolutions altogether went to strip Clive of the whole of his property, a great stand was here made. Clive was not friendless. He had his vast wealth to win over to him some, as it inflamed the envy of others. He had taken care to spend a large sum in purchasing small boroughs, and had six or seven of his friends and kinsmen sitting for these places in Parliament. He had need of all his friends. Throughout the whole of this inquiry the most persistent and envenomed attacks were made upon him. He was repeatedly questioned and cross-questioned, till he exclaimed, "I, your humble servant, the Baron of Plassey, have been examined by the select Committee more like a sheep-stealer than a member of Parliament." Then the House thought he had suffered enough, for nothing was clearer than that justice required the country which was in possession of the splendid empire he had won to acknowledge his services, whilst it noted the means of this acquisition. Burgoyne's second resolution was rejected, and another proposed by Wedderburn, the Solicitor-General, adopted, "That Robert, Lord Clive, did, at the same time, render great and meritorious services to this country." This terminated the attack on this gifted though faulty man. His enemies made him pay the full penalty of his wealth. They had struck him to the heart with their poisoned javelins. From a boy he had been subject to fits of hypochondriacal depression; as a boy, he had attempted his own life in one of these paroxysms. They now came upon him with tenfold force, and in a few months he died by his own hand (November 22, 1774).On the 17th of July the new Premier, Lord Melbourne, who, declining, on the king's suggestion, to form a coalition with the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Stanley, had made few alterations in the Ministry, announced a less offensive Coercion Bill for Ireland, which led to an animated debate, in which Lords Wicklow and Wharncliffe, the Duke of Wellington, and other peers strongly censured the conduct of the Government for its alleged inconsistency, vacillation, and tergiversation. The new Coercion Bill passed quickly through both Houses, and became the law of the land before the end of the month. The Tithes Bill was rejected in the House of Lords, on the motion of Lord Ellenborough, by 189 votes to 122.[See larger version]

Buonaparte found that, during his absence in Syria, Egypt had been disturbed by insurrections, which Desaix had put down, and had again defeated, and driven back into Upper Egypt, Murad Bey, who had made a descent thence. Soon after his return, however, Murad was once more in motion, descending the Nile in two bodies, and Ibrahim Bey was moving on the frontiers of Syria, as if to form a union with Murad. Lagrange was despatched against Ibrahim, and Murat against Murad. Scarcely were they repulsed when the cause of their man?uvres became evident. A Turkish fleet, containing eighteen thousand men, appeared in the Bay of Alexandria, commanded by Mustapha Pacha. They seized the fort, and, landing, began to fortify themselves, expecting the arrival of the Mamelukes, as had been concerted. On the 25th of July Buonaparte attacked them, and drove in all their outposts; but on coming within reach of their batteries and their gunboats in the bay, the French were checked, and the Turks, rushing out, with their muskets slung at their backs, made terrible havoc amongst them with their sabres, poniards, and pistols. The defeat of Napoleon must have been complete had not the Turks stopped to cut off the heads of the slain, for which they were offered a reward. This gave time for the French to rally. It was now the turn of the Turks to give way, and Murat, who had fought at the head of the troops, followed them so impetuously with the bayonet that the confusion and panic became general. The Turks threw themselves en masse into the sea to regain their ships; and by drowning and the bayonets and bullets of the French, ten thousand out of the eighteen thousand perished. Mustapha Pacha himself was taken, and carried in triumph before[472] Buonaparte. This battle had been fought at Aboukir, near the spot where Nelson had so signally triumphed over them. The victory was the event which Buonaparte needed to enable him to return with credit to France. He immediately embraced it. All his plans and brilliant visions of empire in the East had perished for the present, and private letters from his brothers in Paris, and a number of newspapers, which Sir Sidney Smith had furnished him with to mortify him, roused him to instant action. From these he learnt that the Directory had, as he expected, consummated their unpopularity; that Italy, which he had won to France, was again lost by the other generals. To remain in Egypt was to sink into a sort of provincial or proconsular general; to return to Paris was, by a bold and adroit stroke, to make himself the master of France. He immediately ordered Admiral Gantheaume to have ready a couple of frigates, which lay in the harbour of Alexandria; and, taking with him his favourite generals, Murat, Lannes, Marmont, Berthier, Desaix, Androssy, and Bessieres, and the two principal savants, Monge and Denon, to give an account of the scientific results of the expedition, he rushed on board. He had left the care of the army to Kleber and Menou; and he issued a short proclamation, saying that events in Paris demanded his presence there, but that he would return with all possible expedition. He arrived in Paris without mishap.

From skirmishing at sea the British had now come to direct war with the people of North America. From the period of the American colonists obtaining their independence of Great Britain, they retained a peculiar animus against the mother country. In the war by which that independence was achieved by the aid of France, Holland, and Spain, which all combined to attack Britain on sea and land, the Americans displayed no traces of the magnanimity that usually accompanies bravery. They resorted to many dishonourable practices, amongst which was the breach of contract in retaining prisoners from the army of General Burgoyne. The same spirit continued to animate them afterwards. It was natural to suppose that their success would have the usual effect of making them forget enmity when the cause of it was gone by; but this was not the case. In all contests of Great Britain with revolutionary France, they rejoiced over any disasters which befel her, and were silent in the hour of her victories. Though they were bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and our population was pouring over to swell their numbers, they displayed towards us a hostility that no other nation, France excepted, had ever shown.

The mechanical invention, however, destined to produce the most extraordinary revolution in social life was that of railways, which during this reign were progressing towards the point where, combined with the steam-engine, they were to burst forth into an activity and strength astonishing to the whole world. Tram-roadsthat is, roads with lines of smooth timber for the wheels of waggons to run uponhad been in use in the Newcastle collieries for a century before. In 1767, at the Coalbrook Dale Iron Works, iron plates were substituted for wood, and by this simple scheme one horse could, with ease, draw as much as ten on an ordinary road. In 1776 iron flanges, or upright edges, were used at the collieries of the Duke of Norfolk, near Sheffield, and after this time they became common at all collieries, both above and below ground. In 1801 an iron railway, by a joint-stock company, was opened from Wandsworth to Croydon. Three years before iron railways had been introduced to convey the slates from Lord Penrhyn's quarries, in Carnarvonshire, to the Menai Strait for shipment, and they were attached to canals for the conveyance of goods to and from them. At the end of this reign there were two hundred and twenty-five miles of iron railroads in the neighbourhood of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and upwards of three hundred miles in the single county of Glamorgan.Whilst these things were happening, and but two days before the mail arrived bringing the news of the defeat at Closter-Campen, George II. died. He had, till within the last two years, enjoyed robust health. He had then a severe attack of gout, and from that time his eyes and hearing had failed. On the morning of the 25th of October he rose at his usual hour of six, drank his chocolate, inquired how the wind was, being anxious for the arrival of the mails, and then suddenly fell, uttered a groan, and expired. He was seventy-seven years of age.[99]

The vast development of the coal trade, which contributed so materially to our national prosperity, occasioned the employment of a large number of persons at high rates of wages. Upwards of 118,000 people were working in coal mines. In the county of Durham there were more persons thus employed under ground than in cultivating the surface. It was a kind of work at which women and children could earn money, and in some of the collieries their labour was made available to a very large extent. It may be supposed that this practice entailed upon the boys and girls so employed the most serious evils, physical and moral. When this state of things began to attract public attention, an extensive inquiry was instituted by the Children's Employment Commission, which prepared three reports, presented to Parliament in 1842. The Commissioners collected a large mass of evidence at the collieries which brought to light facts of the most astounding nature as to the cruelty and demoralisation connected with the employment of women and children in coal mines. It seemed almost incredible that such practices could have existed in a civilised country, and showed the extent to which the thirst for gain will carry men, under circumstances where they can count upon impunity, and evade the censure of public opinion. Lord Ashley took up the subject with his usual earnestness in all questions affecting the welfare of the working classes, and in the Session of 1842 he brought in a Bill founded upon the reports of the Commission. The statement of facts with which he introduced the measure excited the astonishment and indignation of the House, and greatly shocked the moral sense of the country. The nature of the employment in which the children were engaged was calculated to brutalise them in every sense. They were obliged to crawl along the low passages with barely room for their persons in that posture, each dragging a load of coals in a cart by means of a chain which was fastened to a girdle borne round the waist, the chain passing between the legs. This they dragged through a passage often not as good as a common sewer, in an atmosphere almost stifling. At this sort of work girls were employed as well as boys, and they commonly worked quite naked down to the waist, their only dress being a pair of loose trousers, and in this condition they were obliged to serve adult colliers who worked without any clothing at all. The grossest immorality was the natural consequence. In Scotland a subcommission found one little girl, six years of age, carrying an eight-stone weight, fourteen times a day, a journey equal in distance to the height of St. Paul's Cathedral. The Commissioner adds, "And it not unfrequently happens that the tugs break, and the load falls upon those females who are following, who are, of course, struck off the ladders. However incredible it may be, yet I have taken the evidence of fathers who have ruptured themselves by straining to lift coals on to their children's backs." The Bill of Lord Ashley was passed almost unanimously by the Commons. In the Lords it was subjected to considerable opposition, and some amendments were introduced. The amendments were adopted by the Commons, and on the 10th of August, 1842, the Act was passed "to prohibit the employment of women and girls in mines and collieries, to regulate the employment of boys, and to make other provisions relating to persons working therein." The Act prohibited the employment of any boys under ground in a colliery who were under the age of ten years.




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