The year 1743 opened with a mighty struggle on the subject of gin. In 1736, as we have seen, the awful increase of drunkenness, which was attributed to the cheapness of gin, induced a majority of the House of Commons to pass an Act levying twenty shillings a gallon duty upon the liquor, and charging every vendor of it fifty pounds per annum for a licence. Walpole at the time declared that such an attempt to place gin beyond the reach of the poor consumers would fail; that it would fail equally as a source of revenue, for it would lead to wholesale smuggling and every possible evasion of the law. The event had proved Walpole only too correct in his prognostications. So far from checking the use of gin, the Act had stimulated it enormously. The licences, so preposterously high, were wholly neglected; no duty was paid, yet the destructive liquid was sold at every street corner. Ministers now saw that, by attempting too much, every thing in this case had been lost. They were sacrificing the revenues only to sacrifice the well-being of the people. They determined, therefore, to reduce the licences from fifty pounds to one pound per annum, and at the same time to retain a moderate duty on the liquor. By this means the fatal compound would remain much at the same price, but the vendors would be induced to take out licences, and the revenues would be greatly improved, whilst the whole sale of the article would be more under the restraints of law and police. A Bill was framed on these principles, and passed rapidly through the Commons; but in the Lords it encountered a determined opposition. It was, however, carried entire, and, says Smollett, "we cannot help averring that it has not been attended with those dismal consequences which the Lords in the Opposition foretold."The third reading of the Arms Bill passed by a majority of 66, and soon received the Royal Assent. In the Queen's Speech at the close of the Session there was a very pointed reference made to the state of Ireland. Her Majesty said that she had observed with the deepest concern the persevering efforts made to stir up discontent and disaffection among her subjects in Ireland, and to excite them to demand the repeal of the union; and from her deep conviction that the union was not less essential to the attainment of good government in Ireland than to the strength and stability of the empire, it was her firm determination, with the support of Parliament, and under the blessing of Divine Providence, to maintain inviolate that great bond of connection between the two countries. She thus concluded, "I feel assured that those of my faithful subjects who have influence and authority in Ireland will discourage to the utmost of their power a system of pernicious agitation which disturbs the industry and retards the improvement of that country, and excites feelings of mutual distrust and animosity between different classes of my people."
Buonaparte, in his bulletin of June 21st, found a reason for this utter defeat in a panic fear that suddenly seized the army, through some evil-disposed person raising the cry of "Sauve qui peut!" But Ney denied, in his letter to the Duke of Otranto, that any such cry was raised. Another statement made very confidently in Paris was, that the Old Guard, being summoned to surrender, replied, "The Guard dies, but never surrenders!"—a circumstance which never took place, though the Guards fought with the utmost bravery.WELLINGTON'S RETREAT FROM COIMBRA. (See p. 604.)
CHAPTER XVIII. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).
This most bloody of battles took place on the 7th of September. There were about one hundred and twenty thousand men engaged on each side, and the guns on each side are said to have amounted to one thousand. Before the battle, the priests passed along the ranks of the Russians, reminding them of the wrongs they had suffered, and promising paradise to all that fell. Buonaparte, on his side, issued this proclamation:—"Soldiers! here is the battle you have longed for! It is necessary, for it brings us plenty, good winter-quarters, and a safe return to France. Behave yourselves so that posterity may say of you—'He was in that great battle under the walls of Moscow.'" It was rather a damping circumstance that the day before the battle Buonaparte received the news of Wellington's victory at Salamanca. The battle commenced at seven o'clock in the morning, and continued the greater part of the day, the Russians, even to the newest levies, fighting with the most immovable courage. Buonaparte demanded of Caulaincourt whether the Russians were determined to conquer or die? He replied that they had been fanaticised by their leaders, and would be killed rather than surrender. Buonaparte then ordered up every possible gun, on his plan of battering an army as he would batter a fortress. Still the Russians fought on furiously, and Berthier urged him to call up his "young Guard." But he replied, "And if there is another battle to-morrow, where is my army?"NIAGARA FALLS.Among the historians of the time there are three or four names that deserve to be specially mentioned. The first is that of Sir James Mackintosh, who, notwithstanding the pressure of Parliamentary duties and the attractions of London society, so far conquered his constitutional indolence, increased by his residence in India, as to produce some literary works so valuable that it has been a source of regret that he could not find time to give to the world something more than fragments. His dissertation on "The Progress of Ethical Philosophy" shows what he could have accomplished in that field; while his three volumes of "The History of England" caused a general feeling of disappointment that he was not spared to complete the work. He was engaged on a history of the Revolution of 1688 when he died, rather suddenly, in May, 1832.
PAMPELUNA.And walked into the Strand;All these causes of unpopularity were rendered more effective by the powerful political party which now assailed him. Pitt led the way, and the Dukes of Devonshire, Bolton, and Portland, the Marquis of Rockingham, the Earls of Temple, Cornwallis, Albemarle, Ashburton, Hardwicke, and Bessborough, Lords Spencer, Sondes, Grantham, and Villiers, James Grenville, Sir George Savile, and other Whigs, presented a formidable phalanx of opponents in both Houses. The measures, too, which he was obliged to bring forward, were certain to augment his discredit. The funded debt had grown to upwards of a hundred millions, and there were three millions and a half besides unfunded. It was necessary to raise a new loan, and, moreover, to raise a new tax, for the income was unequal to the expenditure, even in time of peace. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dashwood, was not a man likely to make these new burdens go down easily. He issued the new loan to the public with so little advertisement, that the friends of the Ministers secured the greater part of the shares, and they soon rose to eleven per cent. premium, by which they were enabled, at the public cost, to make heavy sums. The tax which Sir Francis proposed was one on cider and perry, besides some additional duties on wines. There was at once an outcry in the City against this tax, led on by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Beckford, a great friend of Pitt. The cry was only too sure to find a loud echo from the cider-growing districts. Bute and his Chancellor were quickly compelled to reduce the proposed impost from ten shillings a hogshead, to be paid by the buyer, that is, by the merchant, to four shillings, to be paid by the grower. The tax thus cut down was calculated to produce only seventy-five thousand pounds—a sum for which it was scarcely worth while to incur so much odium.
The first charge, however, was not so encouraging. The French made an impetuous onset, and threw the advanced guard of the English into confusion; but the king and his son, the Duke of Cumberland, who commanded on the left, and, like his father, took his stand in the front line, displayed the highest pluck, and inspired their troops with wonderful courage. The tide of battle was quickly turned, and Noailles, from the other side, saw with astonishment and alarm his troops in action contrary to his plans. He returned in all haste to give fresh support to his soldiers, but it was too late. Gallantly as the French fought, the presence of the king and prince on the other side made the English and Hanoverians irresistible. King, and prince, and army all showed an enthusiastic courage and steadiness which bore down everything before them. The dense column of infantry, led on by the king, broke the French ranks, and cut through them with terrible slaughter. Noailles, seeing the havoc, gave a command which completed the disaster. To shield his men, he ordered them to repass the Main; but a word of retreat, in all such cases, is a word of defeat. The retrograde movement produced dismay and disorder; the whole became a precipitate rout. The French were driven in confused masses against the bridges, the bridges were choked up with the struggling throng, and numbers were forced into the river, or jumped in for escape, and were drowned.
"Let us suppose," said Wyndham, "a man abandoned to all notions of virtue and honour; of no great family, and but of a mean fortune, raised to be chief Minister of State by the concurrence of many whimsical events; afraid or unwilling to trust any but creatures of his own making, lost to all sense of shame and reputation, ignorant of his country's true interest, pursuing no aim but that of aggrandising himself and his favourites; in foreign affairs trusting none but those who, from the nature of their education, cannot possibly be qualified for the service of their country, or give weight and credit to their negotiations; let us suppose the true interest of the nation by such means neglected, or misunderstood, her honour tarnished, her importance lost, her trade insulted, her merchants plundered, and her sailors murdered; and all these circumstances overlooked, lest his administration should be endangered. Suppose him next possessed of immense wealth, the plunder of the nation, with a Parliament chiefly composed of members whose seats are purchased, and whose votes are bought at the expense of public treasure. In such a Parliament suppose attempts made to inquire into his conduct, or to relieve the nation from the distress which has been entailed upon it by his administration. Suppose him screened by a corrupt majority of his creatures, whom he retains in daily pay, or engages in his particular interest by distributing among them those posts and places which ought never to be bestowed upon any but for the good of the public. Let him plume himself upon his scandalous victory because he has obtained a Parliament like a packed jury, ready to acquit him at all adventures. Let us suppose him domineering with insolence over all the men of ancient families, over all the men of sense, figure, or fortune in the nation; as he has no virtue of his own, ridiculing it in others, and endeavouring to destroy or corrupt it in all. With such a Minister and such a Parliament, let us suppose a case which I hope will never happen—a prince upon the throne, uninformed, ignorant, and unacquainted with the inclinations and true interests of his people; weak, capricious, transported with unbounded ambition, and possessed with insatiable avarice. I hope such a case will never occur; but, as it possibly may, could any greater curse happen to a nation than such a prince on the throne, advised, and solely advised, by such a Minister, and that Minister supported by such a Parliament?" By those who have considered the extent to which Walpole carried the system of corrupting the representatives of the people, and thus ruling at his own will, and not by the sanction of the public opinion and feeling, this severe portrait of him can scarcely be considered as exaggerated. Walpole, no doubt, felt it deeply, but feeling, too, whence the attack really came—namely, from the armoury of Bolingbroke—he passed Wyndham lightly over, and emptied the burning vial of his indignation on the concealed foe, in a not less vigorous and graphic strain.CAPTAIN WALPOLE INTERCEPTING THE DUKE OF SALDANHA'S SHIPS. (See p. 306.)
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The Chartist trials took place at the September Sessions of the Central Criminal Court. The facts disclosed on the trial revealed, to a larger extent than is usual in such cases, how completely the men who are betrayed into such conspiracies are at the mercy of miscreants who incite them to crime for their own base purposes. The witnesses against Cuffey and others of the Chartists were all voluntary spies—the chief of whom was a person named Powell—who joined the confederacy, aided in its organisation, and had themselves appointed "presidents" and "generals," with the sole purpose of betraying their dupes, in order that they might be rewarded as informers, or, at all events, well paid as witnesses. It was probably by those double traitors that the simultaneous meetings of the clubs were arranged, so that the police might seize them all at the same time. The trial lasted the entire week. On Saturday the jury returned a verdict of "Guilty" against all the prisoners. The sentence was transportation for life. Others were indicted for misdemeanour only, and were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, with fines. About a score of the minor offenders were allowed to plead not guilty, and let out on their own recognisances. And so ended Chartism.The way having been thus prepared, Mr. O'Connell proceeded to the scene of the contest. On the day of his departure his carriage, with four horses, drove into the yard of the Four Courts, where he had been engaged on an important trial. Having concluded his address to the judges, he put off his wig and gown, and proceeded through the hall, where he was followed by the lawyers and the persons from the different courts, so that the judges were deserted. Stepping into his open barouche, accompanied by Mr. P. O'Gorman, secretary of the Association, Mr. R. Scott, solicitor, and Father Murphy, the celebrated parish priest of Corrofin, he drove off amidst the cheers of all present. The greatest possible excitement prevailed along the whole route, and he enjoyed an ovation at every town he passed through. At Ennis, though he entered the town by daybreak, the traders and the inhabitants turned out in procession to meet him. Priests swarmed in all the streets, and in every face there was an unconcealed expression of joyous and exulting triumph.[See larger version]详情
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