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These were measures which must have greatly irritated the American colonists. They exhibited a disposition to curb and repress their growing energies between the interests of British merchants and British West Indian planters. The prospect was far from encouraging; whilst, at the same time, the English Ministers, crushing these energies with one hand, were contemplating drawing a revenue by taxation from them on the other. Britain argued that she sacrificed large amounts in building up colonies, and therefore had a right to expect a return for this expenditure. Such a return, had they had the sagacity to let them alone, was inevitable from the trade of the colonies in an ever-increasing ratio.

[500] There were rumours of negotiations going on for a return of Pitt to power; but as Mr. Addington showed no disposition to resign altogether in favour of Pitt, these came to nothing. Already in the previous November Canning and Lord Malmesbury, two of Pitt's most zealous supporters, had set on foot an address to Addington begging him to resign. But this plan was abruptly stopped by Pitt himself, who felt that he was to a certain extent the creator of the Ministry. Now Addington made overtures to Pitt through Dundas, become Lord Melville. But his propositions were absurd. He stipulated that Greville and Windham, who had opposed the Peace of Amiens, should be excluded from the arrangements. He also wished that Pitt's brother, Lord Chatham, should be the nominal Prime Minister, while he and Pitt should be equal secretaries. At this, Pitt put a stop to the envoy's conversation. "Upon my word," he said afterwards, "I had not the curiosity to ask what I was to be." So England engaged in war, with her greatest statesman excluded from office.

The same evening the new prison of Clerkenwell was broken open, and all the prisoners were let loose. These joined the drinking, rabid mass, and, in their turn, attacked and gutted the houses of two of the most active magistratesSir John Fielding and Mr. Cox. As they went along, they compelled the inhabitants to illuminate their houses, under menace of burning them down. Everywhere they seized on gin, brandy, and beer, and thus, in the highest paroxysm of drunken fury, at midnight they appeared before Lord Mansfield's house, in Bloomsbury Square. He was quickly obliged to escape with Lady Mansfield by the back door, and to take refuge in the house of a friend in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The mob broke in, and, having demolished the doors and windows, proceeded to destroy and fling out into the square the furniture, pictures, and books, of which their fellows outside made several bonfires. Then perished one of the finest libraries in England, not only of works of law but of literature, which his lordship, through a long course of years, had been collecting.

Whilst the war of parties had been raging in England, matters abroad had been rapidly assuming a shape which threatened the tranquillity of all Europe. In France the elements of revolution had been fermenting, and had already burst into open fury with a character which, to observant eyes, appeared to bode inevitably their spread into every surrounding country. At the same time, the sovereigns of these countries, instead of discerning the signs of the times, and taking measures to guard their people from the contagious influence, were some of them acting so as certainly to invite the specious anarchy. In others, they were wasting their strength on schemes of conquest which only too much enfeebled them for opposition to the dangers thus preparing. Some of these warlike movements seem, at first sight, to have little connection with the history of England, but, more or less, they all are necessary to our comprehension of our own position in the time of those marvellous subversions which were at hand. [See larger version]

The great difficulties of the Government at this time were the settlement of the questions with Spain of the right to cut logwood in the bay of Campeachy, and the retention of Gibraltar. The Spaniards had frequently resisted the cutting of logwood in the Bay of Campeachy by the English; and in 1717 the Marquis of Monteleone had presented a memorial against it; but the Board of Trade contended that the practice was of old standing, and amounted to a right. This representation was now laid before the House of Commons, and was backed by many petitions from the merchants of London and other places, complaining of the interruptions to their trade to the South American and West Indian colonies, which had been carried on by connivance rather than by actual permission of Spain. There was a great fermentation in the public mind on these subjects, and the Minister was accused of tamely submitting to national injuries. The nation seemed ready to rush into a war with Spain, and perhaps all the more so that the king, in his opening speech, had observed that "an actual war was preferable to such a doubtful peace, but that the exchange was very easy to be made at any time."

There is in all this much of the splenetic jealousy of an aged invalid towards a vigorous competitor, who has outstripped him in the race. O'Connell excited much hostility amongst the friends of Emancipation by his opposition to the veto which they were willing to give to the British Crown on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops by the Court of Rome. But the more antagonists he had, and the more battles he fought, the greater was his hold on the Roman Catholic priests and people. His power had arrived at its greatest height when the Canningites left the Ministry, and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald came to Ireland to seek the suffrages of the Clare electors as an influential member of the Government. At first, no one had the least doubt of his triumphant return. He had been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland; he was a steady friend of Catholic Emancipation, for which he had always voted; he was personally popular; the gentry of the county were almost to a man devoted to him. It appears that O'Connell had at first no idea of starting against him. The proposal is said to have originated with Sir David Roose, who, having accidentally met Mr. P. V. Fitzpatrick on the 22nd of June, remarked that O'Connell ought to offer himself for Clare. Mr. Fitzpatrick then recollected having often heard Mr. John Keogh, of Mount Jerome, who had been the Catholic leader for many years, express his conviction that Emancipation would never be granted till a Catholic was elected a member of Parliament. If, when returned by a constituency, he was not permitted to take his seat because he would not violate his conscience by swearing what he did not believe, John Bull, who is jealous of constitutional rights, would resent this wrong, and would require the oath to be altered for the sake of the constituency. The moment this thought occurred to Mr. Fitzpatrick, he ran to O'Connell and begged of him to stand for Clare. They went to the office of the Dublin Evening Post, and there, in presence of Mr. F. W. Conway, the address to the electors was written. Still O'Connell shrank from the contest on account of the enormous cost. "You know," he said, "that, so far from being in circumstances to meet that outlay from my own resources, I am encumbered with heavy liabilities beyond my power of discharging. You are the only person with whom I am acquainted who knows intimately the Catholic aristocracy and men of wealth. Would[272] you undertake to sound them as to funds for the contest?" Fitzpatrick answered, "I will undertake it, and I am confident of success." Within an hour he got three men of wealth to put down their names for 100 each. The four then went round to the principal Catholics of Dublin, and during the day they got 1,600 from sixteen persons. The country followed the example of the metropolis so liberally that 14,000 was raised within a week, and money continued to flow in during the contest. The supplies, however, were not sufficient for the enormous demand, and in the heat of the contest a messenger was sent posthaste to Cork, and in an incredibly short space of time returned with 1,000 from Mr. Jerry Murphy, who himself subscribed 300, and got the remainder from its patriotic inhabitants. The sum of 5,000 had been voted by the Association for the expenses of the election. They had been very anxious to get a candidate to oppose Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, and a popular Protestant, Major Macnamara, had been requested to come forward, but he declined on the ground of his personal obligations to the Ministerial candidate. Indeed, there were few of the smaller gentry in the county on whom he had not conferred favours by the liberal distribution of places among their sons. The Roman Catholic gentry were quite as much indebted to him as the Protestants, and they were not ungrateful, for they stood by him on the hustings almost to a man. Mr. O'Connell was preceded by two friends, Tom Steel and O'Gorman Mahon; the former a Protestant, the other a Roman Catholic: both men remarkable for their chivalrous bearing, and a dashing, reckless spirit, which takes with the Irish peasantry. A third agitator entered the field in the person of honest Jack Lawless, another leading member of the Association, and one of its most effective speakers. This band was soon joined by Father Tom Maguire, a famous controversialist, from the county of Leitrim, who had just been engaged in a discussion with the Rev. Mr. Pope, and was hailed by the peasantry as the triumphant champion of their faith. There was also a barrister, Mr. Dominick Ronayne, who spoke the Irish language, and who, throwing an educated mind into the powerful idiom of the country, produced great effects upon the passions of the people. Mr. Sheil, second only to O'Connell in energy and influence, and superior to him in the higher attributes of the orator, in the fiery temperament and imaginative faculty which constitute genius, flung himself into the arena with the greatest ardour. On the Sunday previous to the election each of these agitators was dispatched to a chapel situated in a district which was the stronghold of one or other of the most popular landlords, for the purpose of haranguing the people after mass, and rousing their enthusiasm to the highest pitch. Mr. Sheil went to a place called Corrofin, situated in a mountainous district, the property of Sir Edward O'Brien, father of Mr. Smith O'Brien, who drove to the place in his carriage, drawn by four horses. There he saw the whole population congregated, having advanced from the rocky hills in large bands, waving green boughs, and preceded by fifes and pipers. The hitherto popular landlord was received in solemn silence, while his antagonist, Mr. Sheil, was hailed with rapturous applause. Sir Edward O'Brien consequently lost heart, and, leaving his phaeton opposite the chapel-door, went to church. Mr. Sheil gives a graphic description of Father Murphy, the priest of this rudely constructed mountain chapel. His form was tall, slender, and emaciated; "his ample hand was worn to a skinny meagretude; his face was long, sunken, and cadaverous, but was illuminated by eyes blazing with all the fire of genius and the enthusiasm of religion; his lank black hair fell down in straight lines along a lofty forehead. The sun was shining with brilliancy, and rendered his figure, attired as it was in white garments, more conspicuous. The scenery about was in harmonyit was wild and desolate." This priest met the envoy of the Association on the threshold of his mountain temple, and hailed him with a solemn greeting. After mass the priest delivered an impassioned harangue. The spirit of sarcasm gleamed over his features, and shouts of laughter attended his description of a miserable Catholic who should prove recreant to the great cause by making a sacrifice of his country to his landlord. "The close of his speech," says Mr. Sheil, "was peculiarly effective. He became inflamed by the power of his emotions, and, while he raised himself into the loftiest attitude to which he could ascend, he laid one hand on the altar and shook the other in the spirit of almost prophetic admonition, and, while his eyes blazed and seemed to start from his forehead, thick drops fell down his face, and his voice rolled through lips livid with passion and covered with foam. It is almost unnecessary to say that such an appeal was irresistible. The multitude burst into shouts of acclamation, and would have been ready to mount a battery roaring with cannon at his command. Two days[273] afterwards the results were felt at the hustings, and while Sir Edward O'Brien stood aghast, Father Murphy marched into Ennis at the head of his tenantry, and polled them to a man in favour of Daniel O'Connell."

The Court was soon alarmed by the report that the National Guard intended to march from Paris to Versailles, and, after removing the Bodyguard, to do duty at the palace themselves, in order to prevent the royal family from escaping abroad. Lafayette, now head of the National Guard, on the 17th of September wrote to St. Priest, one[367] of the Ministers, to assure him that there was no truth in the report, and therefore no danger. D'Estaing, the commander of the Bodyguard, however, to whom Lafayette's letter was communicated by St. Priest, did not feel satisfied, and proposed to bring the regiment of Flanders to Versailles, and the Assembly being applied to for its sanction, declared it was no business of theirs; and thus, neither encouraging nor discouraging the measure, the regiment was sent for. It arrived on the 23rd of September; and, at the sight of the long train of waggons that followed, alarm seized both the people of Versailles and the Assembly. Mirabeau, who, by a word, could have prevented the coming of the regiment, now denounced it as dangerous. News flew to Paris that a counter-revolution was preparing, and that the foreigners would be marched on the city. All this terror of one single regiment showed a disposition to feign alarm, rather than the real existence of it; but the Court committed the great folly of creating fresh reasons for jealousy. The officers of the Life Guard showed a most lively desire to fraternise with those of the Flanders regiment, and the courtiers were equally attentive to them. The officers of the Flanders regiment were not only presented at the king's levee, but invited to the queen's drawing-room, and treated in the most flattering manner. The Gardes du Corps gave a grand dinner to welcome them; and, what was extraordinary, they were allowed to give it in the theatre of the palace. This took place on the 2nd of October. The boxes were filled by people belonging to the Court. The officers of the National Guard were amongst the guests. After the wine had circulated some time amongst the three hundred guests, the soldiers, both of the Flanders regiment and of the other corps, the company, with drawn swords, and heated by champagne, drank the health of the royal family; the toast of the nation was rejected or omitted. The grenadiers in the pit demanded to be allowed to drink the royal healths, and goblets of wine were handed to them, and they drank the health of the king, the queen, the dauphin, and the rest of the royal family amid mutual shaking of hands and loud shouts of "Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine!" The band of the Flanders regiment then struck up the very expressive and celebrated song of Blondel when seeking his captive king, C?ur de Lion

The Opposition was in ecstasies: it was the first defeat of Ministers on a financial question since the days of Walpole, and in our time the Chancellor would have resigned. The blow seemed to rouse Chatham. Three days after this event, on the 2nd of March, he arrived in town, though swathed in flannel, and scarcely able to move hand or foot. He declared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and himself could not hold office together. A few days, and Townshend would have been dismissed from office, and the country might have escaped one of its greatest shocks; but, unfortunately, the malady of Chatham returned with redoubled violence, and in a new and more terrible form. He was obliged to refuse seeing any one on State affairs.

Great meetings were held in various towns and counties to condemn the whole proceedings, and addresses were sent up and presented to the Prince Regent which were, in fact, censures of his own conduct, and were not, therefore, received in a becoming manner. To one from the Common Council of London he replied that he received it with regret, and that those who drew it up knew little or nothing of the circumstances which preceded or attended the Manchester meeting. The fact was, that they knew these a great deal better than he did. Similar addresses were sent up from Westminster, York, Norwich, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, and many other towns. A meeting of the county of York was calculated at twenty thousand persons, and amongst them was the Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding, who had also signed the requisition to the high-sheriff. For this conduct he was summarily dismissed from his lord-lieutenancy. Scarcely less offence was given by the Duke of Hamilton, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Lanark, who sent a subscription of fifty pounds to the committee for the relief of the Manchester sufferers, expressing, at the same time, his severe censure of the outrage committed on the 16th of August. Of course, the Ministerial party in town and country did all in their power to counteract this strong and general expression of disapprobation. In Scotland and the North of England the squirearchy got up associations for raising troops of yeomanry, as in direct approval of the savage conduct of the Manchester Yeomanry. In the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of outrage the conflict of opinion between the two parties ran high. Numbers of the Manchester Yeomanry were indicted for cutting and maiming in St. Peter's Field, with intent to kill; but these bills were thrown out by the grand jury at the Lancaster assizes. An inquest at Oldham, on the body of one of the men killed, was also the scene of a fierce and regular conflict for nine days, that was put an end to by an order from the Court of King's Bench. But even men who were accustomed to support Ministers generally were startled by their conduct on this occasion. Mr. Ward, afterwards Lord Dudley and Ward, in one of his letters written from Paris at the time, but not published till a later date, says:"What do reasonable people think of the Manchester business? I am inclined to suspect that the magistrates were in too great a hurry, and that their loyal zeal, and the nova gloria in armis tempted the yeomanry to too liberal a use of the sabrein short, that their conduct has given some colour of reason to the complaints and anger of the Jacobins. The approbation of Government was probably given as the supposed price of support from the Tories in that part of the country."