[See larger version]Mr. Villiers renewed his motion on the 26th of May, 1840, after the presentation of petitions in support of his views bearing a quarter of a million of signatures. These signs of the growth of public opinion had no effect upon the House. There was a fixed determination to give neither Mr. Villiers nor the petitioners a fair hearing. He was assailed with a volley of every kind of uncouth sounds. The Speaker's calls to order were utterly disregarded, and it was not until, losing patience, he commanded the bar to be cleared, and members to take their seats, that the advocate of Free Trade could be heard by the reporters. It was useless to carry on the discussion amid this deafening clamour. Lord John Russell weakly demanded what the Government could do when a majority of the House was against any alteration in the law, and said he would vote for the motion, but not with a view to total repeal, as his own opinion was in favour of a moderate fixed duty. The House again divided, when 300 members voted for the landlords' monopoly, against only 177 in favour of inquiry.
This was the fatal year in which Buonaparte, led on by the unsleeping ambition of being the master of all Europe, and so of all the world, made his last great attempt—that of subduing Russia to his yoke—and thus wrecked himself for ever. From the very day of the Treaty of Tilsit, neither he nor Alexander of Russia had put faith in each other. Buonaparte felt that the Czar was uneasy under the real dictatorship of France which existed under the name of alliance. He knew that he was most restless under the mischief accruing from the stipulated embargo on British commerce, and which, from the ruin which it must bring on the Russian merchants, and the consequent distress of the whole population, might, in fact, cause him to disappear from the throne and from life as so many of his ancestors had done. Timber, pitch, potash, hemp, tallow, and other articles were the very staple of Russia's trade, and the British were the greatest of all customers for these. The landed proprietors derived a large income from these commodities, and they asked why they were to perish that Buonaparte might destroy Great Britain, whence they drew their principal wealth. He knew that Alexander looked with deep suspicion on his giving the Duchy of Warsaw to the King of Saxony, a descendant of the royal family of Poland. To this act was added the stipulations for a free military road and passage for troops from Saxony to Warsaw; and also that France should retain Dantzic till after a maritime peace. These things seemed to point to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Poland, and the demand, at some future day, for the surrender of the rest of the Polish territory by Russia. So the Poles seemed to interpret these matters, for they had, since these arrangements, flocked to his standard, and were fighting Buonaparte's battles in Spain. To these causes of offence and alarm, which Alexander did not hesitate to express, and which Napoleon refused to dissipate, were added the seizure of the Duchy of Oldenburg, guaranteed to Alexander's near relative, and the marriage alliance with Austria. Alexander, on this last occasion, said—"Then my turn comes next;" and in anticipation of it he had been strengthening himself by a secret league with Sweden.
In concluding the remarkable events of this year, we must turn to India, and witness the termination of the career of Tippoo Sahib. This prince, for ever restless under the losses which he had suffered from the British, though nominally at peace with them, was seeking alliances to help him once more to contend with them. He sought to engage the Afghans in his favour, and to bring over the British ally, the Nizam of the Deccan. Failing in this, he made overtures to the French Republic through the Governor of the Isle of France. Buonaparte, as we have said, had Tippoo in his mind when he proposed to march to India and conquer it, but only a few hundreds of French of the lowest caste reached Seringapatam from the Isle of France. Lord Mornington, afterwards the Marquis of Wellesley, determined to anticipate the plans of Tippoo, and dispatched General Harris with twenty-four thousand men into Mysore, at the same time ordering another force of seven thousand, under General Stuart, from Bombay, to co-operate with him. To these also was added a strong reinforcement of British troops in the pay of the Nizam, and some regiments of sepoys, commanded by English officers. The united forces of Harris and the Nizam came into conflict with Tippoo's army on the 22nd of March, 1799, when within two days' march of Seringapatam. In this action, Colonel Wellesley, afterwards the Duke of Wellington, greatly distinguished himself, and the success of the action was ascribed to his regiment, the 34th. On the 5th of April General Harris invested Seringapatam, and on the 14th General Stuart arrived with the Bombay army. Tippoo soon made very humble overtures for peace, but the British, having no faith in him, continued the siege, and the city was carried by storm on the 4th of May, and Tippoo himself was found amongst the slain. Two of his sons fell into the hands of the victors; his territories were divided between the British and the Nizam. The former retained Seringapatam and the island on which it is situated, and the whole of his territory on the Malabar coast, with Coimbra, and all the rest of his possessions stretching to the Company's territories west and east, thus completing their dominion from sea to sea. The Nizam received equally valuable regions in the interior, and a province was bestowed on the descendant of the Hindoo rajah who had been dispossessed of it by Hyder Ali, Tippoo's father. Thus was the British empire of India freed from its most formidable enemy, and thus was it enabled, soon afterwards, to send an armament up the Red Sea to assist in driving the French from Egypt.CHAPTER XXII. REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).
The British Parliament met on the 21st of January, 1794. The Opposition, on the question of the Address, made a strong remonstrance against the prosecution of the war. They urged the miserable conduct of it, and the failures of the Allies, as arguments for peace. They did not discourage the maintenance of a proper system of self-defence, and therefore acceded to the demands of Ministers for raising the navy to eighty-five thousand men. The production of the Budget by Pitt, on the 2nd of February, gave additional force to their appeals for peace. He stated that the military force of England, including fencibles and volunteers, amounted to a hundred and forty thousand men, and he called for nineteen million nine hundred and thirty-nine thousand pounds for the maintenance of this force, and for the payment of sixty thousand German troops. Besides this, he asked for a loan of eleven million pounds, as well as for the imposition of new taxes. This was an advance in annual expenditure of fifteen million pounds more than only two years ago; and when the manner in which the money was spent was inquired into, the objections became far more serious. It thus appeared that we were not only fighting for Holland and Belgium, but that we were subsidising German princes to fight their own battles. There had been a large subsidy to the King of Prussia, to assist him, in reality, to destroy Poland. We were, in fact, on the threshold of that system of Pitt's, by which Britain engaged to do battle all over Europe with money as well as with men. But remonstrance was in vain. Fox, Grey, and Sheridan, and their party in the Commons, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Duke of Bedford, and the Whigs in the Peers, made amendment after amendment on these points, but were overwhelmed by Pitt's majorities. Burke, in the Commons, was frantic in advocacy of war, because France was revolutionary and impious.
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BELL'S "COMET." (See p. 421.)[See larger version]In January, 1812, Government made another attempt to punish the Catholic delegates, and they obtained a verdict against one of them, Thomas Kirwan; but such was the public feeling, that they did no more than fine him one mark, and discharge him. They also abandoned other contemplated prosecutions. The Catholic committee met, according to appointment, on the 28th of February, addressed the Prince Regent, and then separated. The usual motions for Catholic Emancipation were introduced into both Houses of Parliament, and by both were rejected. It was the settled policy of this Ministry not to listen to the subject, though the Marquis Wellesley, Canning, and others now admitted that the matter must be conceded. The assassination of Mr. Perceval, on the 11th of May, it was hoped, would break up that Ministry, but it was continued, with Lord Liverpool at its head. Though Lord Wellesley this year brought forward the motion in the Lords, and Canning in the Commons, both Houses rejected it, but the Lords by a majority of only one. The question continued to be annually agitated in Parliament during this reign, from the year 1814, with less apparent success than before, Ireland was in a very dislocated state with the Orangemen and Ribbonmen, and other illegal associations and contentions between Catholics and Protestants, and this acted very detrimentally on the question in England. Only one little victory was obtained in favour of the Catholics. This was, in 1813, the granting to Catholics in England of the benefit of the Act passed in Ireland, the 33 George III., repealing the 21 Charles II. And thus the Catholics were left, after all their exertions, at the death of the old king.
The Allies, on coming near, found Saxe encamped on some gentle heights, with the river Scheldt and the village of Antoine on his right, and a wood named Barré on his left. In front lay a narrow valley, and, as at Dettingen, he had secured the passage of the river by the bridge of Calonne in his rear, defended by a tête-de-pont, and a reserve of the Household Troops. He had constructed abatis in the wood of Barré, thrown up redoubts between Antoine and Fontenoy, and strongly fortified those villages themselves. The narrow valley between Barré and Fontenoy was formidably defended by cross batteries, and by the natural ruggedness of the ground; and altogether the French officers confidently regarded their position as unassailable. Yet, inferior as they were in numbers, the Allies at once marched and attacked the French pickets and outposts, drove them in, and stood under arms, as it was growing dark, ready to renew the onset at daybreak.
Walpole did not wait for a like humiliation. The next morning he waited on the king, and tendered his resignation of his places as First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. The king, if he could be judged by his conduct, had formed no resolution of parting with Walpole. He handed again to him the seals, cordially entreating him to take them back, speaking to him in the kindest manner, and appearing as though he would take no refusal. But Walpole remained steady to his purpose, and, accordingly, his friends Methuen, Pulteney, Lord Orford, and the Duke of Devonshire, resigned a few days afterwards. Stanhope was then appointed First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sunderland and Joseph Addison were made Secretaries of State; Craggs, Secretary at War; Lord Berkeley, First Lord of the Admiralty; the Duke of Newcastle, Lord Chamberlain; the Duke of Bolton, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; Lord Cowper and the Duke of Kingston retaining their old places.Almost every other manufacture shared in this surprising impulse from machinery and the spirit of invention. It was an age of new creations and of unprecedented energies. In 1763 Josiah Wedgwood, of the Staffordshire Potteries, commenced that career of improvement in the biscuit, form, and printing of porcelain which constituted a new era in the art. At that time the French fine pottery was so much superior to the English that it was extensively imported. In fact, it was a period when taste in every department of art was at the lowest ebb. Wedgwood, being a good chemist, not only improved the body of his earthenware, but, being a man of classical taste, introduced a grace and elegance of form before unknown to British pottery. He invented a new kind of composition so hard and marble-like that it resisted both fire and acids; and in this he moulded statuettes, cameos, and medallions from the Greek originals, of great beauty. Sir William Hamilton having brought over from Italy a quantity of antique vases, etc., Wedgwood benefited by them to introduce fresh forms and colouring in his wares, and probably on this account called his pottery-works Etruria. He had the aid of Mr. Chisholm, a practical chemist, in his researches into the best composition and colours for his porcelain, and his improvements laid the foundation of the great pottery trade of Staffordshire.详情
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