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The prizes of Rodney, including the great Ville de Paris, on their way home were assailed with a violent tempest, and went down, so that the English people had not the gratification of seeing the largest ship in the world, which had been captured by Rodney. The Dutch were encouraged to attempt coming out of the Texel, and waylaying our Baltic merchant fleet, but Lord Howe, with twelve sail-of-the-line, was sent after them, and they quickly ran. His lordship remained there blockading them till the 28th of June, when he was compelled to leave his post and sail westward, with twenty-one ships-of-the-line and some frigates, to watch the great combined fleet of France and Spain, which had issued from Cadiz. The united fleetthirty-six sail-of-the-line, besides frigateskept aloof, however, and allowed him safely to convoy home the Jamaica merchant fleet, guarded by Sir Peter Parker.

From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. A scene followed the king's departure which seems almost incredible. After the service of the second course, the numerous attendants, singers, and even ladies and gentlemen began to press round the royal table, as if prepared for a scramble to possess its contents. The crowd of spectators pressed nearer and nearer. For a moment only covetous eyes were cast on the spoils, as if each were afraid to begin the plunder; but, at last, a rude hand having been thrust through the first ranks, and a golden fork having been seized, this operated as a signal to all, and was followed by a "general snatch." In a short time all the small portable articles were transferred to the pockets of the multitude. The Lord High Chamberlain, hearing of the attack, hastened to the rescue, and[216] with the greatest difficulty saved the more important articles of plate, and had them conveyed to Carlton Garden. Then followed a scene unparalleled in the annals of coronations. The crowds in the galleries had beheld with envy the operations at the banquet. They were very hungry, and very thirsty, and seeing now that Westminster Hall was "liberty hall," they rushed down different stairs and passages, and attacked the viands and the wine. A raging thirst was the first thing to be satisfied, and in a few minutes every bottle on the table was emptied. A fresh supply was soon obtained from the cellarettes. When the ravening selfishness of the hungry crowd was satisfied, the gentlemen recovered their politeness, and began to think of the ladies. Groups of beautiful women then found their way to the tables, and every effort was made to afford them the refreshment of which they stood so much in need. In the meantime, the plunderers took advantage of the confusion to enrich themselves with trophies, breaking and destroying the table ornaments to obtain fragments of things too cumbrous to carry away. Thus, baskets, flowerpots, vases, and figures were everywhere disappearing, and these were followed by glasses, knives, forks, salt-spoons, and, finally, the plates and dishes. The last were engraved with the royal arms and the letters "Geo. IV.," and were therefore specially coveted as memorials. The dirty state of the articles, however, was rather out of keeping with the costly dresses; but the ladies and gentlemen got over the difficulty by wrapping up the articles in their pocket-handkerchiefs. Having thus secured all the spoils they could, they made all possible haste to their carriages. At a subsequent period, it was with the greatest difficulty that the royal plate could be kept from being carried away by the multitude outside when the barriers were removed. Before Buonaparte, therefore, could proceed to Spain, he determined to meet the Czar at Erfurth, in Germany, by their open union to overawe that country, and to bind Alexander more firmly to his interest by granting him ampler consent to his designs on Turkey and on Finland. The meeting took place on the 27th of September, and terminated on the 17th of October. Both Emperors returned in appearance more friendly and united than ever, but each in secret distrusting his ally. Buonaparte, who was now intending in earnest to divorce Josephine, and marry a daughter of a royal house, by whom he might have issue, and thus league himself with the old dynasties, made a proposal for one of the Russian archduchesses, which was evaded by Alexander, on the plea of the difference of religion. Such a plea did not deceive the keen sagacity of Buonaparte; he felt it to result from a contempt of his plebeian origin, and a belief in the instability of his giddy elevation; and he did not forget it. To impress on Europe, however, the idea of the intimate union of the Czar and Buonaparte, they addressed, before leaving Erfurth, a joint letter to the King of Great Britain, proposing a general peace. To this letter Canning answered to the Ministers of Russia and France, that Swedenagainst whom the Czar had commenced his war of usurpationSpain, Portugal, and Sicily, must be included in any negotiations. The French and Russian Ministers, on the contrary, proposed a peace on the principle of every one retaining what they had got. This, Canning replied, would never be consented to; and the two emperors knew that very well, but the letter had served Buonaparte's purpose. It enabled him to tell France and the world how much he was disposed to peace, and how obstinate was Britain; it served to make the world believe in the close intimacy of the Czar and himself. He now hurried back to France, and, opening the session of the Corps Lgislatif, on the 25th of October, he announced that he was going to Spain to drive the "English leopards"for such he always absurdly persisted in calling the lions in the royal arms of Great Britainout of both Spain and Portugal. On the 27th he set out.

There were not wanting, however, those who strove to disturb the joy of Ireland, and the peace of England thus acquired, by sowing suspicions of the sincerity of England, and representing that the independence granted was spurious rather than real. Amongst these, Flood, the rival of Grattan in political and Parliamentary life, took the lead. He seized on every little circumstance to create doubts of the English carrying out the concession faithfully. He caught at an imprudent motion of the Earl of Abingdon, in the Peers, and still more vivaciously at the decision of an appeal from Ireland, in the Court of King's Bench, by Lord Mansfield. The case had remained over, and it was deemed impracticable to send it back to Ireland, though nearly finished before the Act of Repeal. Fox explained the case, and made the most explicit declaration of the "full, complete, absolute, and perpetual surrender of the British legislative and judicial supremacy over Ireland." But the suspicions had been too adroitly infused to be removed without a fresh and still more positive Act, which was passed in the next Session.

BERNADOTTE (KING OF SWEDEN). During the time that Malcolm, Keir, Hislop, and other officers were running down the Pindarrees, Major-General Smith, who had received reinforcements at Poonah, was performing the same service against Bajee Rao, the Peishwa who had furnished Cheetoo with funds. He marched from Poonah at the end of November, 1817, accompanied by Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone. They encountered the army of the Peishwa on the Kistnah, where his general, Gokla, had posted himself strongly in a ghaut. The pass was speedily cleared, and the army of the Peishwa made a rapid[140] retreat. The chase was continued from place to place, the Peishwa dodging about in an extraordinary manner, till, at length, he managed to get behind General Smith, and, passing between Poonah and Seroor, he was joined by his favourite Trimbukjee, whom he had long lost sight of, with strong reinforcements of both horse and infantry. General Smith, so soon as he could discover the route of the Peishwa, pursued it, but soon after the Mahrattas showed themselves again in the vicinity of Poonah. To secure that city from the Peishwa's arms, Captain F. F. Staunton was dispatched from Seroor on the last day of the year with six hundred sepoys, three hundred horse, and two six-pounders; but he was not able to reach Poonah. The very next day, the 1st of January, 1818, he found his way barred by the whole army of the Peishwa, consisting of twenty thousand horse and several thousand foot. Could they have remained a little longer, General Smith, who was on the track of the Peishwa, would have been up to support them. But in the night of the 2nd of January, having no provisions, Staunton fell back, carrying with him all his wounded and his guns, and reached Seroor by nine o'clock on the morning of the 3rd of January.

THE ROYAL PALACE, MADRID. (From a Photograph by Frith & Co.)

Mr. Baring, who represented the Duke in the House of Commons, seemed to regard this declaration from the high-minded member for Oxford University as fatal to the Tory scheme for recovering power. They came at length to understand that the new Premier would be equally unacceptable to the country, whether he appeared with a Reform Bill or a gagging Bill. Both Baring and Sutton, the late Speaker, sent in their resignations. The Duke at length confessed that he had failed in his attempt to form an Administration; and the king had no other resource but to submit to the humiliation of again putting himself in the hands of his late Ministers. He had before him only the terrible alternative of a creation of peers or civil war. Earl Grey was determined not to resume office, "except with a sufficient security that he would possess the power of passing the present Bill unimpaired in its principles and its essential provisions." The consequence was, that on the 17th of May the following circular was sent to the hostile Lords by Sir Henry Taylor:"My dear lord, I am honoured with his Majesty's commands to acquaint your lordship that all difficulties to the arrangements in progress will be obviated by a declaration in the House of Peers to-night from a sufficient number of peers, that in consequence of the present state of affairs they have come to the resolution of dropping their further opposition to the Reform Bill, so that it may pass without delay as nearly as possible in its present shape." Wellington, as usual, obeyed and withdrew from the House, but his seceding comrades prefaced their departure by defiant speeches in which they reserved to themselves the right of resuming their position. Then the Cabinet insisted on obtaining the royal[352] consent to an unlimited creation; and it was given on condition that they, in the first instance, called to the House of Lords the eldest sons of peers or the collateral heirs of childless noblemen. But Sir Henry Taylor's circular had done its work, and the extreme step was unnecessary.

IRISH PRISONERS LIBERATED DURING LORD MULGRAVE'S PROGRESS. (See p. 396.)

Napoleon also exerted himself to excite a rebellion in Ireland. He was the more bent on this, because he saw that it was hopeless to make a direct descent on England itself. He had collected a great fleet in the harbours of Boulogne, Dieppe, Havre, Dunkirk, Ostend, and other smaller ports, many of them capable only of receiving the gunboats in which he proposed to transport his soldiers. He had assembled a very fine army on the heights above Boulogne, called the Army of England, and there continually exercised it, under the inspection of Soult, Ney, Davoust, and Victormen, the pride of his army; but he saw such powerful fleets crowding the Channel, blockading his very ports, cutting out, every now and then, some of his gunboats under the very batteries, and the war-ships of Britain even standing in and firing at him and his suite as they made observations from the cliffs, that, combined with the information that England was almost all one camp, he abandoned the project, for the present, in despair. But Ireland he deemed vulnerable, from the treason of her own children. He assembled all the Irish refugees in Paris, formed the Irish Brigade into the Irish Legion, and sent over active agents to arouse their countrymen in Ireland. Amongst these were Quigley and Robert Emmett, who had been engaged in the Rebellion of 1798. Quigley had been outlawed, and Emmett had been so deeply implicated in that Rebellion with his brother Thomas, who was banished, that he had found it necessary to quit the country. These emissaries soon collected around them, in Dublin, disaffected associates, amongst them being Dowdall, Redmond, and Russell. They formed a central committee, and corresponded with others in different towns, and especially with one Dwyer, who had also been in the former Rebellion, and had ever since maintained himself and a knot of desperate followers in the mountains of Wicklow. The Government received, from time to time, information of the proceedings of these foolish menEmmett being a rash youth of only twenty-two or twenty-three years of agebut they took no precautions; and when, on the 23rd of July, the eve of the Festival of St. James, these desperadoes rushed, at evening, into the streets of Dublin, armed with pikes, old guns, and blunderbusses, the authorities were taken entirely by surprise. There were from two thousand to three thousand soldiers in the Castle, but neither police, soldier, nor officer appeared till the mob had murdered Colonel Brown, who was hastening to the Castle to arouse the troops, and Lord Kilwarden, the Chief Justice, whom they dragged from his carriage as it passed, and killed, along with his nephew, but, at the same time, they allowed the Chief Justice's daughter, who was with them, to depart. Soon after thisbut not before the insurgents had severely wounded a Mr. Clarke, a manufacturer, who was riding to alarm the Castlethe soldiers appeared, and the mob fled at their very sight. The same day Russell had turned out at Belfast, and Quigley at Kildare, but with as little success. Emmett had escaped to the Wicklow mountains to join Dwyer; but having assumed the fatal disguise of French officers, the country people, who hated the French since their appearance under General Humbert, when they had ridiculed the Catholic religion, drove him and twelve of his companions back. In a short time, Emmett, Russell, Redmond, and others were all secured and executed. Dowdall escaped, with Allen and others, out of Ireland; Quigley and Stafford, one of his companions, were admitted as king's evidence, and thus escaped. The project of Napoleon had thus entirely failed, with the sacrifice of some of his leading agents.

The success of the Duke of Wellington in carrying Emancipation was fatal to his Government. Almost to a man the Tories fell from him, and he found no compensation in the adhesion of the Whigs. The latter were glad that their opponents had been induced to settle the question, a result which they had long desired, but had not the power to accomplish. Their gratitude, however, for this great service to the public was not sufficiently warm to induce them to enlist under the banner of the Duke of Wellington, though they were ready to come to his assistance, to protect his Government for a time against the violent assaults of the party whose feelings and prejudices he had so grievously outraged. All parties seem, indeed, to have been exhausted by the violence of the struggle, and there was no desire to attempt anything important in the way of legislation during the remainder of the Session. There was nothing extraordinary in the Budget, and it was accepted without much objection. The subject of distress among the operatives gave rise to a debate which occupied two days, and a motion for inquiry into its causes was rejected. The trade which suffered most at the time was the silk trade. It was stated that, in 1824, there were 17,000 looms employed in Spitalfields; now there were only 9,000. At the former period wages averaged seventeen shillings a week, now the average was reduced to nine shillings. By the manufacturers this depression was ascribed to the relaxation of the prohibitory system, and the admission of foreign silks into the home market. On the other hand, Ministers, and the advocates of Free Trade, ascribed the depression to the increase of production, and the rivalry of the provincial towns of Congleton, Macclesfield, and Manchester. That the general trade had increased was shown by the vast increase in the quantity of raw silk imported, and in the number of spindles employed in the silk manufacture. The Government was firm in its hostility to the prohibitory system, and would not listen to any suggestion for relief, except a reduction in the duties on the importation of raw silk, by which the demand for the manufactured article might be augmented. While these discussions were going on in Parliament the silk-weavers were in a state of violent agitation, and their discontent broke forth in acts of lawlessness and destructive outrage. They were undoubtedly in a very miserable condition. It was ascertained that there were at Huddersfield 13,000 persons, occupied in a fancy trade, whose average earnings did not exceed twopence-halfpenny a day, out of which they had to meet the wear and tear of looms, etc. The artisans ascribed this reduction to the avarice of their employers, and they avenged themselves, as was usual in those times, by combination, strikes, and destruction of property. In Spitalfields bands of weavers entered the workshops and cut up the materials belonging to refractory masters. The webs in thirty or forty looms were sometimes thus destroyed in a single night. The same course was pursued at Macclesfield, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Bedworth, in which towns power-looms had been introduced which enabled one man to do the work of four. The reign of terror extended to Yorkshire, and in several places the masters were compelled to succumb, and to accept a list of prices imposed by the operatives. In this way the distress was greatly aggravated by their ignorance. What they demanded was a restrictive system, which it was impossible to restore. The result obtained was simply a reduction of the duties on raw silk.