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The attention of the public was now again drawn to those unnatural feuds which disturbed the Royal Family. The exhibition of domestic discord and hatred in the House of Hanover had, from its first ascension of the throne, been most odious and revolting. The quarrels of the king and his son, like those of the first two Georges, had begun in Hanover, and had been imported along with them only to assume greater malignancy in foreign and richer soil. The Prince of Wales, whilst still in Germany, had formed a strong attachment to the Princess Royal of Prussia. George forbade the connection. The prince was instantly summoned to England, where he duly arrived in 1728.

In the midst of this prosperous career the two brothers-in-law, the Ministers, began to differ in their views, and Lord Townshend was soon driven by the overbearing conduct of Walpole to resign. Lady Townshend, the sister of Walpole, and even Queen Caroline, exerted their influence for some time to put an end to these feuds; but Lady Townshend soon died, and the queen, finding the breach inevitable, took the side of Walpole as the more indispensable servant of the Crown. There were serious topics on which Townshend and Walpole differed, both domestic and foreign. Townshend did not approve of the length to which matters were carried against the Emperor, and he was weary of the timid temper of the Duke of Newcastle, and strongly urged his dismissal, and the employment of Lord Chesterfield in his place; but a Pension Bill brought the quarrel to a crisis. The object of the Bill, which was warmly supported by the Opposition, was to prevent any man holding a pension, or who had any office held in trust for him, from sitting in Parliament. The king privately styled it "a villainous Bill, which ought to be torn to pieces in every particular." Both Walpole and Townshend were of the same opinion; but Townshend was for openly opposing it, Walpole for letting it pass the Commons, and be thrown out in the Lords. Townshend, to whom the odium of rejecting it was thus carried in the Lords, protested against this disingenuous conduct on the part of Walpole, and assured him that the trick would soon be fully observed, and bring more unpopularity on him in the end than a manly, open opposition—which it did.Despite these representations, however, the resolutions were confirmed by the same majority as before. Other debates succeeded on the second reading of the Bill, but the majority on these gradually sank from sixty to sixteen. As the storm grew instead of abated, the queen demanded of Lord Scarborough what he thought of it, and he replied, "The Bill must be relinquished. I will answer for my regiment against the Pretender, but not against the opposers of the Excise." "Then," said the queen, "we must drop it." Sir Robert summoned his majority, and requested their opinion, and they proposed to go on, observing that all taxes were obnoxious, and that it would not do to be daunted by a mob. But Walpole felt that he must yield. He declared that he was not disposed to enforce it at the point of the bayonet, and on the 11th of April, on the order of the day for the second reading, he moved that the measure should be postponed for two months. Thus the whole affair dropped. The usually triumphant Minister found himself defeated by popular opinion. The Opposition were hardly satisfied to allow this obnoxious Bill thus to slip quietly away; but out-of-doors there was rejoicing enough to satisfy them.

This was followed by a memorial, signed by most of the chief officers, including Lord George Murray, Lochiel, Keppoch, Clanranald, and Simon Fraser, Master of Lovat. This was sent by Lord George to Charles, and represented that so many men were gone home, and more still going, in spite of all the endeavours of their chiefs, that if the siege were continued they saw nothing but absolute destruction to the whole army. The prince sent Sir Thomas Sheridan to remonstrate with the chiefs, but they would not give way, and Charles, it is said, sullenly acquiesced in the retreat.Sir John Warren put the two thousand four hundred Chouans on shore near Lorient, and left them to return to their own predatory mode of warfare. He then located himself on two small neighbouring islands, and waited for a fresh squadron carrying four thousand British troops, which arriving in September, he bore away with them for La Vendée, and thus terminated the miserable descent on the coast of Brittany. The descent on the coast of La Vendée was still more unsatisfactory. On arriving there, it was found that fifteen thousand Republicans were in possession of the Isle Noirmoutier, formerly the stronghold of Charette. The British, therefore, disembarked on the little desolate Isle Dieu, about five leagues from Noirmoutier, and there awaited the arrival of Count d'Artois, who did not come till the 10th of October, and then, alarmed at the fusillading of the officers at Quiberon, declined to land. On hearing this, Charette exclaimed—"We are lost! To-day I have fifteen thousand men about me; to-morrow I shall not have five hundred!" And, in fact, chagrined at the pusillanimous conduct of the prince, and the approach of Hoche with his victorious troops from Brittany, his followers rapidly dispersed, and at the end of the year the British armament returned home, having done nothing. From this day may be dated the extinction of the war in La Vendée. Stofflet, in January, 1796, was defeated, and in February was betrayed to the enemy, and on the 26th of that month was executed at Angers with four of his companions. Charette was captured a month afterwards, and was shot at Nantes on the 29th of March. With him died the last Vendéan general of mark. By this time, the spring of 1796, not a fifth part of the male population of La Vendée remained alive; and Hoche himself calculated that the Vendéan war had cost France a hundred thousand men.BERNADOTTE (KING OF SWEDEN).

[257]CHAPTER X. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).

The state of parties in the House of Commons at the opening of the Session of 1837 was so evenly balanced, that Government had a very narrow majority. The number of Whigs was calculated at 150, of Liberals 100, and of Radicals 80, making the total number of Ministerialists 330. On the other side, the Tories counted 139, the Ultra-Tories 100, and the Conservatives, belonging to the new school which Sir[414] Robert Peel had constituted, 80. Parliament was opened by commission on the last day of January. The Royal Speech announced the continuance of friendly relations with Foreign Powers, alluded to the affairs of Spain and Portugal, and directed the attention of Parliament to the state of Lower Canada. It recommended a renewal of the inquiry into the operation of joint-stock banks; also measures for the improvement of civil and criminal jurisprudence, and for giving increased stability to the Established Church. Special attention was directed to the state of Ireland, with reference to its municipal corporations and the collection of tithes, and to "the difficult and pressing question of a legal provision for the poor." Animated debates on the Address took place in both Houses. The Radicals, led on by Mr. Roebuck, strongly condemned the want of earnest purpose on the part of Ministers, whom he represented as "worse than the Tories." He accused them of pandering to popular passions on one side, and to patrician feelings on the other. But, situated as they were, what could they do? Their majority was small and uncertain in the Commons, while the Opposition in the Lords was powerful and determined. Lord Lyndhurst mutilated measure after measure, and then at the end of each Session taunted Ministers with their failure. They were trying to get on with a House of Commons elected under the influence of a Conservative Administration. Of course, Lord Melbourne could have dissolved Parliament and appealed to the country, in the hope of getting a working majority; but the king was decidedly averse from a dissolution; and it would have been an exceedingly unwise course to adopt, at a time when the precarious state of his health plainly indicated that the reign was fast drawing to a close, and its termination would necessitate another general election. It was unreasonable to expect that in consequence of weakness proceeding from such causes a Liberal Cabinet should surrender the reins of power to the Tory party, on the eve of a new reign, and with all the bright prospects that would be opened by the accession of a youthful queen to the Throne. At the close of the Session of 1836 they had, indeed, contemplated resignation, but eventually determined to go on.Mr. Peel's reflections on the Clare election are deeply interesting. "It afforded," he writes, in his Memoirs, "a decisive proof, not only that the instrument on which the Protestant proprietor had hitherto mainly relied for the maintenance of his political influence had completely failed him, but that, through the combined exertions of the agitator and the priest—or, I should rather say, through the contagious sympathies of a common cause among all classes of the Roman Catholic population—the instrument of defence and supremacy had been converted into a weapon fatal to the authority of the landlord. However men might differ as to the consequences which ought to follow the event, no one denied its vast importance. It was seen by the most intelligent that the Clare election would be the turning-point in the Catholic question—the point—

THE CONGRESS OF VIENNA.Whitefield and Wesley soon separated into distinct fields of labour, as was inevitable, from Whitefield embracing Calvinism and Wesley Arminianism. Whitefield grew popular amongst the aristocracy, from the Countess of Huntingdon becoming one of his followers, and, at the same time, his great patron. Whitefield, like the Wesleys, made repeated tours in America, and visited all the British possessions there. When in England, he generally made an annual tour in it, extending his labours to Scotland and several times to Ireland. On one of his voyages to America he made some stay at Lisbon. Everywhere he astonished his hearers by his vivid eloquence; and Benjamin Franklin relates a singular triumph of Whitefield over his prejudices and his pocket. He died at Newbury Port, near Boston, United States, on the 30th of September, 1770. If Whitefield did not found so numerous a body as Wesley, he yet left a powerful impression on his age; and we still trace his steps, in little bodies of Calvinistic Methodists[144] in various quarters of the United Kingdom, especially in Wales.

On the 18th of October the Americans crossed the frontier opposite to the village of Queenstown with three thousand men, and found only three hundred British to oppose them. But Brock was with them, and cheered them so gallantly that they made a desperate resistance. Unfortunately, Brock was killed, and then the brave three hundred retreated, and the American general, Wadsworth, posted himself, with one thousand six hundred men, on the heights behind Queenstown. But the same afternoon he was attacked by a fresh body of about one thousand British and Canadians, and had nearly his whole force killed or taken prisoners. Himself and nine hundred of his men were captured, and four hundred remained on the field slain or severely wounded. The rest, a mere remnant, escaped into the woods, or were drowned in endeavouring to swim back to their own shore. Thus ended Madison's first attempt to conquer Canada.The year 1732 was distinguished by little of importance. The Opposition, led on by Pulteney, attacked the Treaty of Vienna, concluded on March 16th, 1731, by which the Pragmatic Sanction had been approved of, and which, they contended, might lead us into a Continental war some day, or into a breach of the public faith, of which, they asserted, this Ministry had perpetrated too many already. They assailed the standing army, but were answered that there was yet a Pretender, and many men capable of plotting and caballing against the Crown. The King was so incensed at Pulteney for his strictures on the army, that he struck his name out of the list of Privy Councillors, and ordered that all commissions of the peace which he held in different counties should be revoked. Amongst the staunchest supporters of the Government was Lord Hervey, a young man of ability who is now best remembered because, having offended Pope, he was, according to custom, pilloried by the contentious poet, as Sporus in the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Pope nicknamed him Lord Fanny, in derision of his dainty and effeminate manners. Hervey contended that the writers who attacked Government ought to be put down by force, and in his own person he attempted to put this in practice; for Pulteney being suspected by him of having written a scarifying article on him in The Craftsman, he challenged him, and both combatants were wounded. Plumer very justly contended that scribblers ought to be left to other scribblers.With Lord Eldon, however, he held different language, complaining bitterly of the difficulties in which the Ministers had involved him. He is represented as struggling desperately in meshes from which he found it impossible to extricate himself; and, as usual with weak minds, he threw all the blame of his misery on others. In reference to an interview, Lord Eldon remarks: "I was not sent for afterwards, but went on Thursday, the 9th of April, with more addresses. In the second interview, which began a little before two o'clock, the king repeatedly—and with some minutes intervening between his repeated declarations, musing in silence in the interim—expressed his anguish, pain, and misery that the measure had ever been thought of, and as often declared that he had been most harshly and cruelly treated—that he had been treated as a man whose consent had been asked with a pistol pointed to his breast, or as obliged, if he did not give it, to leap down from a five-pair-of-stairs window. What could he do? What had he to fall back upon?" After relating much more in the same strain, Lord Eldon adds: "Little more passed, except occasional bursts of expression, 'What can I do? What can I now fall back upon? What can I fall back upon? I am miserable, wretched. My situation is dreadful; nobody about me to advise with. If I do give my consent, I will go to the baths after all, and from thence to Hanover. I'll return no more to England. I'll make no Roman Catholic peers; I will not do what this Bill will enable me to do. I'll return no more. Let them get a Catholic king in Clarence! [I think he also mentioned Sussex.] The people will see that I did not wish this.' There were the strongest appearances, certainly, of misery. He more than once stopped my leaving him. When the time came that I was to go, he threw his arms around my neck, and expressed great misery. I left him at about twenty minutes or a quarter before five. I certainly thought when I left him that he would express great difficulty, when the Bill was prepared for the Royal Assent, about giving it." The writer adds, sarcastically:—"I fear that it seemed to be given as a matter of course." Next day, Lord Eldon wrote to his daughter: "The fatal Bill received the Royal Assent yesterday afternoon. After all I had heard in my visits, not a day's delay. God bless us and His Church." At Windsor, on the 13th of April, the king pronounced over the Bill that he so hated the words—"Le Roy le veult."

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John Wilson, though born so far back as 1785, was one of the writers of this period distinguished for originality, freshness, power, and rich fancy, combined with learning and eloquence. As "Christopher North" he was long the delight of the readers of Blackwood's Magazine. His criticisms on poetry were distinguished by a profusion of thought and imagery, which flowed forth so rapidly, and sometimes so little under the control of judgment, that there seemed no reason why the[439] stream of illustration should not flow on for ever. He was a poet as well as a critic; but it is a singular fact that his imagination, like that of Milton, was more active in prose than in verse. In the latter, his genius was like a spirited horse in harness; in the former, like the same horse unbridled, and bounding wildly over the prairies. His principal poetical work was "The Isle of Palms," published in 1812, which was followed by one more elaborate, "The City of the Plague." Among the most popular of his prose fictions are, "The Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life," "The Trials of Margaret Lyndsay," and "The Foresters." But it was in periodical literature that he shone most brightly. Soon after the establishment of Blackwood's Magazine, in 1817, he became its chief editor, and thenceforward he poured forth through this organ all the treasures of his intellect. In 1820 he succeeded Dr. Thomas Brown as Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, which he held till 1851, when he resigned, in consequence of ill-health, receiving about the same time a pension of £300 a year from the Crown. As a professor he was greatly beloved by his students, on account of his genial nature and the warm interest he took in their welfare; and he was always surrounded by troops of friends, who respected his character almost as much as they admired his genius. He died in 1854.

The new Parliament met on the 14th of November. Mr. Manners Sutton was re-elected Speaker. A week was spent in the swearing-in of members, and on the 21st the Session was opened by the king in person. In the Royal Speech allusion was made to the throwing open of the ports for the admission of foreign grain, and the distress that had visited the manufacturing districts. The Address was carried in the Upper House without a division, and in the Lower House an amendment, moved by Mr. Hume, found only twenty-four supporters. On the 5th of December Alderman Waithman moved for a committee of inquiry with reference to the part taken by members of Parliament in the Joint Stock mania of 1824-5-6. He stated that within the last three years six hundred joint-stock companies had been formed, most of them for dishonest purposes. The directors of these fraudulent schemes worked with the market as they pleased, forcing up the prices of shares to sell, and depressing them to buy, pocketing the difference. He dwelt particularly on the Arignon Mining Company, of which the late chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, Mr. Brogden, had been a director. The directors of this company, besides an allowance of three guineas per day for the use of their names, had divided between them a large surplus, arising from traffic in shares. Other members of the House, he alleged, had enriched themselves by bubble companies, particularly Sir William Congreve. At the suggestion of Mr. Canning, the inquiry was restricted to the Arignon Company. A vast amount of loss and suffering had been inflicted by these bubble companies. A check was given to the steady and wholesome progress of the country by the fever of excitement, followed by a sudden and terrible collapse. Healthful commerce was blighted, and one of the worst results of the revulsion was that it not only swept away the delusive projects of adventurers, but paralysed for a season the operations of legitimate enterprise. The commercial atmosphere, however, had been cleared by the monetary crisis of 1825-6. An extensive decomposition of commercial elements was effected. Masses of fictitious property were dispersed, and much of the real capital of the country was distributed in new and safe channels, which caused the year 1827 to open with more cheering prospects.

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