污名化中国 挡不住中国的自信与力量

[See larger version] The king and his war cabinet were now compelled to sue to France for the peace which was so freely offered the year before. Newcastle wrote to Sandwich in April, that the impossibility of arresting the progress of the French army, the discordant pretensions of the Allies, and their gross neglect of their engagements, rendered it absolutely necessary to make peace. Sandwich was to communicate this necessity to the Plenipotentiaries of the Allies, and if they declined to assent to it, to sign the preliminaries without them. The Ministers of the Allies still refused to join; it suited them very well to receive vast subsidies to fight their own battles, and yet to leave England to fight them. On the other hand, Count St. Severin, the Plenipotentiary of France, now felt his vantage-ground, and offered far worse terms than before, and, to force their acceptance, threatened that if they were not agreed to without delay, the French would leave the fortifications of Ypres, Namur, and Bergen-op-Zoom, and march directly into Holland. The treaty was signed by England, France, and Holland on the 18th of April. The general conditions were a mutual restoration of conquests. All the nations were placed very much in statu quo, except that Prussia had got Silesia, and Sardinia had lost Placentia and Finale. As for England, she firmly established her maritime supremacy, which from that date has remained unchallenged. The Young Pretender was compelled to leave France, and thenceforward ceased to be of any political importance.

And all this time the spirit of revolt against Napoleon's domination was growing rapidly in Germany; and had the Austrians only made the slightest use of their present opportunity, the whole of the country would have been in arms and the French completely driven out. Though Prussia was still too much depressed to dare to rise and join Austria, there was a fast-growing spirit of indignation amongst its population, which the Tugend Bund had tended greatly to increase. The brave Major Schill, without waiting for any sanction from the King of Prussia, led forth his band of hussars, amounting to about five thousand, and prepared to join with Colonel D?rnberg, an officer of Jerome, the King of Westphalia's guard, to raise an insurrection in that State, and drive out Jerome and the French. The design was betrayed to Jerome by a traitorous friend of D?rnberg, and he was compelled to fly. Letters found amongst D?rnberg's papers showed the participation of Schill in the scheme. Jerome, of course, complained to the King of Prussia, and the unhappy monarch was obliged to disavow and denounce the conduct of Schill. The brave partisan made his way to Wittenberg and Halberstadt, and was pursued by the forces of Westphalia and Holland northwards to Weimar, and finally to Stralsund, which he prepared to defend. The place was stormed by the Dutch and Westphalians, and Schill was killed fighting in the streets of Stralsund, after having split the head of the Dutch general, Carteret, with his sword. Thus fell the gallant Schill, true to his motto"Better a terrible end than endless terror."

But the Government had to receive another lesson this year on the folly of endeavouring, in the nineteenth century, to crush the liberties of Britons. There was an organ called the Press, which, partaking neither of the Governmental fears of a natural complaint by the public of the evils which preyed upon it, nor the Governmental hopes of silencing the sufferers without any attempt to mitigate their calamities, reported freely the mingled folly and cruelty of Ministers, and called for the only remedy of the country's misfortunesReform. On moving the second reading of the Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, Lord Sidmouth observed that some noble lords had complained that the authors and publishers of infamous libels on the Government were not prosecuted. He assured them that the Government were quite as anxious as these noble lords to punish the offenders, but that the law officers of the Crown were greatly puzzled in their attempts to deal with them; that authors had now become so skilful from experience, that the difficulties of convicting them immeasurably exceeded those of any former time. On the 5th of February General Pollock reached Peshawur, and found the troops under Brigadier Wild for the most part sick and disorganised. His first care was to restore the morale of the troops. Even the officers had yielded to an unworthy panic. Some of them openly declared against another attempt to force the Khyber Pass, and one said he would do his best to dissuade every sepoy of his corps from entering it again. Owing to this state of things, Pollock was compelled to remain inactive through the months of February and March, though the eyes of all India were turned upon him, and the most urgent letters reached him from Sale and M'Gregor to hasten to their relief. But the general was resolved not to risk another failure, and his duty was to wait patiently till the health, spirits, and discipline of the troops were restored, and until fresh regiments arrived.

The debates and voting on these three questions occupied the Convention till late in the evening of the 17th. On the first question thirty-seven pronounced Louis guilty, but proposed only that he should be taken care of for the general safety; six hundred and eighty-three declared him guilty simply; and, as the Assembly consisted of seven hundred and forty-nine members altogether, there was a majority affirming his guilt of the whole, except twenty-nine members. He was therefore declared, by the President, guilty of conspiracy against the liberty and safety of of State. On the second question thirty-one members were absent: four refused to vote; eleven voted conditionally; two hundred and eightyand these almost exclusively were members of the Girondist sectionfor the appeal to the people; and four hundred and twenty-three rejected it. The President, therefore, proclaimed that the appeal to the people was declined. The last fatal question of death to the monarch was put on the 16th. By this time the excitement was as intense all over Paris as within the walls of the Convention itself. It was found, that of the seven hundred and forty-nine members, three hundred and eighty-seven voted in favour of death unconditionally, while three hundred and thirty-four voted in favour of Louis' detention, or imprisonment, or death under defined conditions and in certain circumstances. Twenty-eight votes were not accounted for. Either they were lost amidst the excitement of the hour, or members to that number took no part in the decision. The king's death, therefore, was carried by a majority of only fifty-three votes. Then came the question of a reprieve. [See larger version]

The spirit of gambling thus set going by Government itself soon surpassed all bounds, and burst forth in a thousand shapes. It was well known that the king, his mistresses, his courtiers, his son and heir apparent, were all dabbling busily in the muddy waters of this huge pool of trickery and corruption. A thousand other schemes were invented and made public to draw in fresh gudgeons, and the Prince of Wales allowed his name to stand as governor of a Welsh Copper Company. All ranks and classes rushed to Change Alleydukes, lords, country squires, bishops, clergy (both Established and Dissenting), were mixed up with stockjobbers and brokers in eager traffic. Ladies of all ranks mingled in the throng, struggling through the press and straining their voices to be heard amid the hubbub. There and all over the kingdom were advertised and hawked about the following and other schemes:Wrecks to be fished for on the Irish coast; plans for making of oil from sunflower seeds; for extracting of silver from lead; for the transmuting of quicksilver into a malleable and fine metal; for importing a number of large jackasses from Spain; for a wheel for perpetual motion; and, finally, for an undertaking which shall in due time be revealed! By a still greater fatality, Louis was persuaded to comply with the solicitations of the American colonists, to assist them in throwing off their allegiance to Britain. To rend these colonies from Britain, which had deprived France of Canada and Nova Scotia, was too flattering to French vanity and French desire of revenge. Turgot in vain protested that the first cannon that was fired would insure revolution; Louis consented to the American alliance, and thus set the seal to his own destruction. Bitterly did he rue this afterwards, still more bitterly was it rued by his queen when they both saw the fatal infection of Republicanism brought back from America by the army. When Turgot saw that this fatal war was determined upon, he retired before the wild rage of the noblesse and clergy, and from the ruinous weakness of the king. Minister after minister rapidly succeeded each other in the vain endeavour to keep up the old partial laws and privileges, the old extravagance and encumbrances, at the command of the king, and yet avert revolution. In turn Clugny, Necker, and Calonne withdrew discomfited.

Meanwhile an expedition against Canada had been projected by Colonel Arnold and Ethan Allen at the taking of the forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. The recommendations of Allen were taken up, and on the 27th of June, although they had on the first of that month declared their determination not to invade or molest Canada, the Congress passed other resolutions, instructing Philip Schuyler, one of their newly-made generals, to proceed to Ticonderoga, and thence, if he saw it practicable, to go on and secure St. John's and Montreal, and adopt any other measures against Canada which might have a tendency to promote the security of the colonies. It was autumn, however, before the American force destined for this expedition, amounting to two thousand men, assembled on Lake Champlain; and Schuyler being taken ill, the command then devolved on General Montgomery. General Carleton, the Governor of Canada, to whom the Americans, when it suited their purpose, were always attributing designs of invasion of the colonies, had not, in fact, forces sufficient to defend himself properly.

But, not contented with this superiority, the British were tempted to invest and endeavour to storm New Orleans. This was returning to the old blunders, and giving the American sharp-shooters the opportunity of picking off our men at pleasure in the open field from behind their walls and batteries. This ill-advised enterprise was conducted by Sir Edward Pakenham. Nothing was so easy as for our ships to blockade the mouth of the Mississippi, and thus destroy the trade, not only of New Orleans, but of all the towns on that river; but this common-sense plan was abandoned for the formidable and ruinous one of endeavouring to take the place by storm. The city of New Orleans lies at the distance of one hundred and ten miles from the sea, on a low, boggy promontory, defended on the river side by a chain of powerful forts, and on the other by morasses. Having landed as near New Orleans as they could, the British troops, on the 23rd of December, were met by an American army, and received a momentary repulse; but this was quickly reversed, and on Christmas day Sir Edward Pakenham encamped at the distance of six miles from New Orleans. But he found at least twenty thousand Americans posted between him and the city, behind a deep canal and extensive earthworks. There was no way of approaching them except across bogs, or through sugar plantations swarming with riflemen, who could pick off our men at pleasure. This was exactly one of those situations which the whole course of our former wars in that country had warned us to avoid, as it enabled the Americans, by their numerous and excellent riflemen, to destroy our soldiers, without their being in scarcely any danger themselves. In fair and open fight they knew too well that they had no chance with British troops, and the folly of giving them such opportunities of decimating those troops from behind walls and embankments is too palpable to require military knowledge or experience to point it out. Yet Sir Edward Pakenham, who had fought in the Peninsula, was imprudent enough to run himself into this old and often-exposed snare. On the 26th of December he commenced a fight on these unequal terms, the Americans firing red-hot balls from their batteries on the unscreened advancing columns, whilst from the thickets around the Kentucky riflemen picked off the soldiers on the flanks. Pakenham thus, however, advanced two or three miles. He then collected vast quantities of hogsheads of sugar and treacle, and made defences with them, from which he poured a sharp fire on the enemy. By this means he approached to within three or four hundred yards of the American lines, and there, during the very last night of the year, the soldiers worked intensely to cast up still more extensive breastworks of sugar and treacle casks, and earth.

In fact, though the Allies still held out, it was useless. Bolingbrokefor St. John had been called in this year to the Upper House as Viscount Bolingbrokeaccompanied by Matthew Prior, had been in Paris since the beginning of August, where they were assisted also by the Abb Gualtier, determined to close the negotiations for England, whether the Allies objected or not. To make this result obvious to the whole world, the troops which Ormonde had brought home were disbanded with all practicable speed. The ostensible cause of Bolingbroke's and Prior's visit to Paris was to settle the interests of the Duke of Savoy and the Elector of Bavaria; but the real one was to remove any remaining impediment to the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace. France and England were quite agreed; Bolingbroke returned to London, and Prior remained as resident at the Court of France, as if the Articles of Peace were, in fact, already signed. A truce, indeed, for four months longer by land and sea was proclaimed in Paris. It was agreed that the Pretender should return to Lorraine; that all hostilities should cease in Italy in consequence of the arrangement of the affairs of the Duke of Savoy; and that the Austrian troops should be allowed to quit Spain and return to Naples.

The complaints of agricultural distress prevalent in England, with the sudden reaction from war prices at the establishment of peace, had become so loud and general this year that Parliament undertook to find a remedy. An agricultural committee had been appointed to inquire into the subject, and had produced a report which was far from satisfactory. On the 29th of April the House of Commons resolved itself into a committee to consider the report. Three different schemes were proposed for the relief of the farmers and landlordsthe first by the Marquis of Londonderry, the second by Mr. Ricardo, and the third by Mr. Huskisson. There was no scarcity of produce in England; on the contrary, it was very abundant, and the evil that oppressed the farmers was excessive cheapness, by which they were disabled from paying the high rents and heavy taxation entailed by the war. Some of the remedies proposed were sufficiently radical in their character. The most natural was the reduction of taxation by means of retrenchment in the public expenditure. Some proposed that the tithes should be alienated from the Church, and used for the purpose of reducing the national burdens. The largest party insisted upon the reduction of the interest of the National Debt, which was defended as an equitable measure on the ground of the increased value of the currency since the passing of Peel's Bill for the resumption of cash payments. The plan of relief proposed by Lord Londonderry consisted of the repeal of the annual malt tax, and the loan of a million by Exchequer Bills to the landed interest upon the security of warehoused corn.

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