This was sufficient warning to Cabinets not to meddle with this tabooed subject; but Grattan continued, year after year, to bring the question forward, though often defeated by great majorities. In his speech in 1808 Grattan introduced the idea of giving his Majesty a veto on the appointment of Catholic bishops. It appears that this proposition had the approval of the Irish Catholic bishops, but the Irish priests made a determined stand against it. In 1810 and 1811 the motion was thrown out by strong majorities.Lord Howe arrived from England, and cast anchor off Sandy Hook, a few hours after the Declaration of Independence had been read to the army by Washington. He had been expected by his brother, General Howe, who had arrived at the same point on the 29th of June, supposing he should find the admiral there. General Howe found Washington already in New York, and actively engaged in throwing up entrenchments, both there and on Long Island, to close the Hudson against the British fleet. Washington's headquarters were at New York; those of General Sullivan, at the western extremity of Long Island, opposite to New York; and Governor's Island, Paulus Hook, New Rochelle, and other points, were strongly defended to protect the rear of the city. At the time of Admiral Howe's arrival, the army of Washington did not amount to more than seventeen thousand men, of whom three thousand were sick, and but about ten thousand men fit for duty. From his letters to Congress, it is clear that he entertained very little hope of maintaining his ground in case of attack, for the fresh forces brought by Howe from England, being joined by the shattered remains of Sir Peter Parker's squadron, amounted to twenty thousand men. A few days afterwards, however, he was joined by two regiments from Philadelphia, and by large bodies of New York and New England Militia, raising his army to twenty-seven thousand men, but of these a large number were sick. He now posted strong reinforcements in Brooklyn. On this General Howe quitted Sandy Hook, and advanced to Staten Island, where he could watch the operations of the enemy. The Americans abandoned Staten Island, on his approach, without firing a gun.
The trial of Sir Charles Wolseley and Dr. Harrison for their speeches at the meeting for Reform at Stockport in June, 1819, terminated also in their conviction and imprisonment for eighteen months, as well as the giving of security for their future good behaviour on liberation.The confederates endeavoured to keep their plans profoundly secret till they were ready to burst at once on the devoted King of Prussia; but Frederick was the last man alive to be taken by surprise. The secret was soon betrayed to him, and, at once waiving his dislike of the King of England, he concluded a convention with him in January, 1756, and bound himself, during the disturbances in America, not to allow any foreign troops to pass through any part of Germany to those colonies, where he could prevent it. Having his treasury well supplied, he put his army in order, and in August of that year sent a peremptory demand to Vienna as to the designs of Austria, stating, at the same time, that he would not accept any evasive reply; but the reply being evasive, he at once rushed into Saxony at the head of sixty thousand men, blockaded the King of Saxony in Pirna, and secured the queen in Dresden. By this decisive action Frederick commenced what the Germans style "The Seven Years' War." In the palace of Dresden Frederick made himself master of the secret correspondence and treaties with France, Russia, and Austria, detailing all their designs, which he immediately published, and thus fully justified his proceedings to the world.
On hearing of the defeat of Tarleton, Cornwallis advanced rapidly, in order, if possible, to intercept Morgan and his English prisoners at the fords of Catawba. A rise of the water from the rains prevented his crossing that river so soon as he expected, and Morgan joined Greene, both generals, however, retreating behind the Yadkin. The swollen state of the river and the want of boats also detained Lord Cornwallis at the Yadkin, but he finally succeeded in crossing and throwing himself between Greene and the frontiers of Virginia, from which Greene looked for his supplies and reinforcements. Greene continued to retreat till he had also placed the Dan between himself and Cornwallis; but his militia had deserted so rapidly on his flight, that, on reaching the Dan, he had not more than eighty of that body with him. Greene now had the way open to him for retreat into Virginia, and, Cornwallis giving up the chase, marched leisurely to Hillsborough, in North Carolina, where he invited the Royalists to join his standard. Such was his success—numbers of Royalists flocking in to serve with Tarleton's legion—that Greene, alarmed at the consequences of this movement, turned back for the purpose of cutting off all possible reinforcements of this kind, yet avoiding a general engagement. Once more Cornwallis advanced to chastise Greene, and once more Greene beat a retreat. This man?uvring continued till the 15th of March, when Greene having been joined by fresh troops, thought himself strong enough to encounter the English general. He drew up his army on very strong ground near Guildford Court House, where Cornwallis boldly attacked him, and, after a stout battle, completely routed him.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.
Saxe followed up his advantage by despatching L?wendahl against Bergen-op-Zoom, the key of Holland, and the masterpiece of the celebrated engineer, Cohorn. This was not only amazingly strong in its fortifications, but had a powerful garrison, and was covered by an entrenched camp of twelve thousand men. The trenches were opened in the middle of July, and might have defied all the efforts of the French, had not Baron Cronstrom, the commander, a man of eighty, suffered them to take it by surprise on the 15th of September. The French had led a vast number of men before this place, and its surrender ended the campaign.
But at length the Legislature adopted a measure which attempted to go to the root of one of the greatest evils that afflicted Ireland. This was a Bill for facilitating the transfer of encumbered estates, which was passed into law, and is generally known as the Encumbered Estates Act. It was introduced by the Solicitor-General, Sir Samuel Romilly, on the 26th of April. Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the state of landed property in that country. Many of the estates had been in Chancery for a long series of years, under the management of receivers, and periodically let at rack-rents. Many others which were not in Chancery were so heavily mortgaged that the owners were merely nominal. Others again were so tied up by family settlements, or held by such defective titles, that they could not be transferred. Consequently, a great portion of the landed property of the country was in such a condition that capital could not be invested in it, or expended on it. The course of proceeding in Chancery was so slow, so expensive, so ruinous, and the court was so apparently incapable of reform, that nothing could be expected from that quarter. The Government, therefore, proposed to establish a commission, invested with all the powers of that court, and capable of exercising those powers in a summary manner, without delay and without expense, so that an encumbered estate could be at once sold, either wholly or in part, and a parliamentary title given, which should be good against all the world. This important measure met with general approval in both Houses. Indeed it was hailed with satisfaction by all classes of the community, with the exception of a portion of the Irish landed gentry. There were three commissioners appointed, lawyers of eminence and experience in connection with land. By a subsequent enactment in 1849, it was regulated as a permanent institution, under the title of the Landed Estates Court; the three commissioners were styled judges, ranking with the judges of the Law Courts. The number of petitions or applications for sale made to this court from the 17th of October, 1849, to the 1st of August, 1850, was 1,085, and of this number those by owners amounted to 177—nearly one-sixth of the whole. The rental of the estates thus sought to be sold by the nominal proprietors, anxious to be relieved of their burdens, was ￡195,000 per annum, and the encumbrances affecting them amounted to no less than ￡3,260,000. The rental of the estates included in 1,085 applications, made by others not owners, amounted to ￡655,470 per annum, and the debt upon these amounted to the enormous sum of ￡12,400,348. One of the estates brought before the court had been in Chancery for seventy years, the original bill having been filed by Lord Mansfield in 1781. The estates were broken up into parcels for the convenience of purchasers, many of whom were the occupying tenants, and the great majority were Irishmen. Generally the properties brought their full value, estimated by the poor-law valuation, not by the rack rents which were set down in the agents' books, but never recovered. The amount of capital that lay dormant in Ireland, waiting for investment in land, may be inferred from the fact that in nine years—from 1849 to 1858—the sum of twenty-two millions sterling was paid for 2,380 estates. But in the pacification of Ireland the Act accomplished far less than was hoped by Sir Robert Peel, who practically forced the measure upon the Ministry. Men of capital looked for a fair percentage for their investments: many of them were merchants and solicitors, without any of the attachments that subsisted between the old race of landlords and their tenants, and they naturally dealt with land as they did with other matters—in a commercial spirit—and evicted wholesale tenants who were unable to pay.But meanwhile in Italy the French had been completely successful. Buonaparte reached the French headquarters at Nice on the 26th of March, and immediately set himself to organise and inspirit the forces, which were in great disorder; he found the commissariat also in a deplorable condition. The troops amounted to fifty thousand; the Austrians, under the veteran General Beaulieu, to considerably more. The united army of the Sardinians and Austrians, Beaulieu on the left, d'Argenteau in the centre, and Colli with the Piedmontese division on the right, hastened to descend from the Apennines, to which they had retreated at the end of the last campaign. Beaulieu met the French advanced guard at Voltri, near Genoa, on the 11th of April, and drove it back. But d'Argenteau had been stopped in the mountains by the resistance of a body of French, who occupied the old redoubt of Montenotte. Buonaparte, apprised of this, hurried up additional forces to that point, and defeated d'Argenteau before Beaulieu or Colli could succour him. Having now divided the army of the Allies, Buonaparte defeated a strong body of Austrians under General Wukassowich; and having left Colli and the Piedmontese isolated from their Allies, debouched by the valley of Bormida into the plains of Piedmont. Beaulieu retreated to the Po, to stop the way to Milan; and Buonaparte, relieved of his presence, turned against Colli, who was compelled to retreat to Carignano, near Turin. Trembling for his capital, and with his means exhausted, Victor Amadeus made overtures for peace, which were accepted; the terms being the surrender of all the Piedmontese fortresses and the passes of the Alps into the hands of the French, and the perpetual alienation of Nice and Savoy. This humiliation broke the heart of the poor old king, who died on the 16th of October. Buonaparte, however, did not wait for the conclusion of this peace; the truce being signed, he hastened on after Beaulieu whom he defeated and drove across the Po. Beaulieu next posted himself at Lodi, on the Adda; but Buonaparte, after a fierce contest, drove him from the bridge over the Adda on the 10th of May, and with little further opposition pursued him to Milan. Beaulieu still retreated, and threw himself into the fastnesses of the Tyrol. On the 15th Buonaparte made a triumphal entry into Milan, and immediately sent troops to blockade Mantua. Buonaparte then advanced into the Papal States, rifling the Monti de Pietà at Bologna and Ferrara. Everywhere contributions were demanded at the point of the bayonet, and French authorities superseded the native ones. Pius VI. made haste to sue for peace, and it was granted on the most exorbitant terms. Fifteen millions of francs must be paid down in cash, six millions in horses and other requisites for the army. A great number of paintings and statues were to be selected from the galleries of art, and five hundred manuscripts from the library of the Vatican. The provinces of Ferrara and Bologna must be ceded; the port and citadel of Ancona, and all the Papal ports, must be closed against the British. This most costly peace was signed on the 23rd of June, and Buonaparte hastened northward to stop the advance of the army of Wurmser, which had been sent through the Tyrol to compete with the rising Corsican.
It remained for Austria to put down the revolution in Venice. That city had bravely stood a siege for nearly twelve months, when, after wonderful displays of heroism, its defenders were at last compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. This glorious defence was mainly owing to the extraordinary energy and activity of Manin, who was at the head of the Government. After the capitulation he escaped with General Hesse and other leaders of the Republican party. Manin settled in Paris, where he lived in retirement, supporting himself by giving lessons in Italian. He died there in 1857. The people of Venice honoured his memory by going into mourning on the anniversary of his death, though, by doing so—such is the meanness of malice—even ladies incurred the penalties of fine and imprisonment at the hands of the Austrians.George and his soldiers, however, lost no atom of heart; they determined to cut a way through the enemy or die on the ground; and luckily at this moment the enemy committed almost as great an error as Stair had done. Noailles quitted his post in front of the king's army, and crossed the Main bridge to give some further orders on that side; and no sooner did he depart than his nephew, De Gramont, eager to seize the glory of defeating the English, and not aware that the whole British army was at that moment about to bear down upon him, ordered his troops to cross the ravine in their front, and assault the English on their own side. The order was executed, and had instantly the unforeseen effect of silencing their own batteries on the other side of the river, for, by this movement, the French came directly between their fire and the English, which it had been till that moment mercilessly mowing down.
The result of the general election in the Upper Province was favourable to the Government; for of the 62 members returned, 44 were opposed to the organic changes demanded by the majority of the old Assembly. The result was that the Government and the legislature of this province were able to work together harmoniously and satisfactorily. This result, however, was said to be obtained by extraordinary, and not always legitimate influence, on the part of the Government, and there was a large body of malcontents who joined the Lower Province in its rebellion, which occurred in 1837. The Governor of Upper Canada, who brought about this favourable change, was Sir Francis Head, who held the post of major in the army in 1835, when he was employed as Assistant Poor Law Commissioner in the county of Kent. Lord Glenelg, recognising in him a man of capacity and energy, fitted for a great emergency, suddenly appointed him Governor of Upper Canada. He rendered most important service afterwards in conducting the military operations by which the rebellion was put down. Lord Gosford was not so successful in the Lower Province. He was accused of having misled the people by holding out false hopes, and both he and the Colonial Secretary, under whose instructions he acted, were charged with something like treachery, by hinting at great concessions and keeping the word of promise to the ear, for the mere purpose of quieting the agitation and evading the reforms demanded. Lord Gosford, unable to stem the torrent of disaffection, dissolved the Assembly, and was recalled in order to make way for Sir J. Colborne. Both these Governors rendered the most important service in putting down the rebellion which soon afterwards broke out, and effecting the pacification and union of the provinces, which, as we shall hereafter see, were placed upon the solid basis of self-government and equal rights.
After violent debates on the subject of Catholic emancipation, but with the usual negative result, Parliament was prorogued on the 24th of July. Ministers proceeded to prosecute the war in the Peninsula with increased vigour. Lord Wellington needed all the support they could give him. Notwithstanding his success and the millions of money that Great Britain was sending to Portugal, the Portuguese Government continued to annoy him, and showed itself as ignorant, as meddling and as unthankful as the Spaniards had done. Though he and his army were the sole defence of the country, which would at once have been overrun by the French were he not there, and though he was fighting their battles and defending their persons at the expense of England, they appeared to have not the slightest sense of these obligations, but continued to pester him on every possible occasion. They endeavoured to compel him to maintain the Portuguese army, too, by themselves neglecting to furnish it with pay and provisions. They demanded to have the expenditure of the very money remitted for the needs of the British forces. They raised a vast clamour because the soldiers cut down timber for firewood. To all these disgraceful annoyances Lord Wellington replied with a wonderful command of temper, but with firmness and plain-spokenness. His dispatches abound with complaints of the scurvy treatment of the Portuguese authorities. The aspect of things in Spain was worse. There the Spaniards continued to lose every force that they raised, but nevertheless to criticise all the movements of Wellington as if they knew, or had shown, that they understood the management of campaigns better than he did. In fact, if the interests of Spain and Portugal alone had been concerned, the best thing would have been to have quietly withdrawn, and have left the French to trample on them, as a proper punishment for their stupid and ignorant pride. But the attention which Wellington compelled Buonaparte to give to the Peninsula, and the constant drain which this war was to him of men and money, were enabling Russia, and Sweden, and the north of Germany to prepare for another and decisive struggle with the oppressor.CHAPTER III. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (concluded).
"To propose to Parliament no other measure than that during the sitting before Christmas. To declare an intention of submitting to Parliament immediately after the recess a modification of the existing law, but to decline entering into any details in Parliament with regard to such modification.详情
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