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Fortunately, the princess was safely delivered at St. James's (June 4), though the house was unprepared for such an emergencythe rooms and beds being unaired, and there being no adequate suite of servants. The moment that the king heard of this extraordinary conduct of the prince, he despatched Walpole and Lord Harrington to attend the birth, but they were too late. After that the king repulsed all the prince's advances towards a reconciliation. Frederick betook himself to Norfolk House, St. James's Square, and there all the opponents of his father's Government collected around him. The prince was now the head and centre of the Opposition himself. Burke proceeded amidst constant interruption to review the many scenes and debates in which Fox and himself had acted, as well as those on which they had differed, especially their difference of opinion on the Royal Marriage Act; but no difference of opinion had ever before affected their friendship. He alluded to his own long services and his grey hairs, and said that it was certainly an indiscretion, at his time of life, to provoke enemies, or induce his friends to desert him; but that, if his firm and steady adherence to the British Constitution placed him in that dilemma, he would risk all, and, as public duty required, with his last breath exclaim, "Fly from the French Constitution!" Here Fox whispered that there was no loss of friends; that there could be no loss of friendship between them; but Burke said"Yes, there was a loss of friends: he knew the penalty of his conduct; he had done his duty at the price of his friendsthere was an end of their friendship." It was some time before Fox could answer; he was completely overcome by his emotion; and it was only after a free flow of tears that he could proceed. He then said: "Painful as it was to listen to such sentiments as those just delivered by one to whom he owed so many obligations, he could never forget that, when little more than a boy, he had been in the habit of receiving instructions and favours from his right honourable friend. Their friendship had grown with their life; it had continued for upwards of five-and-twenty years; and he hoped, notwithstanding what had happened that day, that his right honourable friend would think on past times, and would give him credit for not intending anything unkind. It was quite true that they had before now differed on many subjects, without lessening their friendship, and why should they not now differ on the French Revolution without a severance of friendship? He could not help feeling that the conduct of his right honourable friend tended to fix upon him the charge of Republican principles, whereas he was far from entertaining such principles. His friend had heaped very ignominious terms upon him that day." Here Burke said aloud, he did not recollect having used such terms; and Fox promptly observed that "if his friend did not recollect those epithetsif they are out of his mind, then they were for ever out of his mind, too; they were obliterated and forgotten." He then denied that there was any marshalling of a party on this subject; that not one gentleman who had risen to call his right honourable friend to order had done it by his desire; on the contrary, he had entreated his friends not to interrupt him. After again dwelling for some time on the merits of the French Revolution, he once more lamented the breach in the unanimity of his friend and[380] himself, and said he would keep out of the way of his right honourable friend till he had time to reflect and think differently, and that their common friends might bring them together again; that he would endeavour to discuss the question on some future day, with all calmness, if his friend wished, but for the present he had said all that he desired to say.

Priestley, in a letter, describes the effect of Wedderburn's address as received with what must seem mad merriment by the Council. "Mr. Wedderburn had a complete triumph. At the sallies of his sarcastic wit, all the members of the Council, the President himself, Lord Gower, not excepted, frequently laughed outright; and no person belonging to the Council behaved himself with decent gravity, except Lord North, who came in late."

This base and disproportionate sentence startled the people of England. In Scotland then party spirit ran furiously high. As there were clubs for advocating thorough reform, so there were others for discouraging and crushing it. The Tory arbitrary principle was rampant, and Muir was the victim of it. During this debate, the state of Ireland had been repeatedly alluded to, and, on the 13th of December, Lord North brought forward his promised scheme of Irish relief, which consisted in extending the exportation of woollen cloths to wool, and wool-flocks, to all kinds of glass manufactures, and in free trade to the British coloniesprivileges that it seems wonderfully strange to us, at the present day, could ever have been withheld from any portion of the same empire. The critical state of America, no doubt, had much to do with the grant of these privileges, for all of them were conceded.

A still more signal victory was won by Admiral Duncan in the autumn. On the 11th of October, the Admiral, who had been watching the Dutch fleet in the Texel, found that during a storm it had stolen out, and was on its way to join the French fleet at Brest. There were eleven sail of the line, and four fifty-six gun ships, commanded by Admiral de Winter. Duncan had sixteen sail of the line. Notwithstanding our superiority of numbers, the Dutch fought with their accustomed valour, but Duncan ran his ships between them and the dangerous coast, to prevent their regaining the Texel, and so battered them that they were compelled to strike. Eight sail of the line, two fifty-six gun ships, and two frigates remained in our hands; but the Dutch had stood it out so stoutly, that the vessels were few of them capable of being again made serviceable. The loss in killed and wounded on both sides was great. Duncan was elevated to the peerage for this victory of Camperdown, and the danger of immediate invasion was at an end.

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This armament, with which Sir John Falstaff certainly would not have marched through Coventry, arrived off Tosa, on the coast of Catalonia, on the 1st of August. The brave Catalans, who had given the French more trouble than all the[30] Spaniards besides, were rejoiced at the idea of a British army coming to aid them in rooting out the French; but Maitland received discouraging information from some Spaniards as to the forces and capabilities of Suchet, and refused to land there. Admiral Sir Edward Pellew and Captain Codrington in vain urged him to land, declaring that the Spaniards with whom he had conferred were traitors. Maitland called a council of war, and it agreed with him in opinion. This was precisely what Lord Wellington had complained of to Lord William Bentinck, who had propagated the most discouraging opinions amongst the officers regarding the service in Spain. He had assured him that a discouraged army was as good as no army whatever. The fleet then, much to the disappointment of the Catalans, conveyed the force to the bay of Alicante, and there landed it on the 9th of August. Suchet, who was lying within sight of that port, immediately retired, and Maitland, so long as he withdrew, marched after him, and occupied the country; but soon hearing that King Joseph was marching to reinforce Suchet, and that Soult was likely to join them, he again evacuated the country, cooped himself up in Alicante, and lay there, of no use whatever as a diversion in favour of Wellington, who was liable at Madrid to be gradually surrounded by a hundred thousand men. Wellington must proceed against one of the French armies, north or south. Had a proper force, with a bold commander, been sent to the south, he could soon have dealt with the northern enemies. A more dubious necessity now lay before him; but it required no long deliberation as to which way he should move. Clausel was expecting reinforcements from France, and he proposed to attack him before they could arrive.

The next person to attempt the impossible in the vain endeavour to keep the vessel of the old French monarchy afloat with all its leaks and rottenness, was the Archbishop of Toulouse, Lomnie de Brienne. He had vigorously opposed Calonne; but there was no way of raising the necessary revenue but to adopt some of the very proposals of Calonne, and tax the privileged classes, or to attempt to draw something still from the exhausted people. As the less difficult experiment of the two, he was compelled to cast his eyes towards the property of the nobles and the Church; but he found the nobles and the clergy as ready to sacrifice him as they had been to sacrifice Calonne. When one or two of the more pliant or more enlightened members of those classes ventured to remark on the vast amount of untaxed property, and particularly of tithes, there was an actual tempest of fury raised. Tithes were declared to be the voluntary offerings of the piety of the faithful, and therefore not to be touched. As further loans were out of the question, some one ventured to assert that the only means of solving the difficulty was to assemble the States General. "You would convoke the States General?" said the Minister in consternation. "Yes," replied Lafayette, who was bent on revolutionising France, as he had helped to revolutionise America"yes, and something more than that!" These words were taken down as most exceptionable and dangerous. All that the Assembly of Notables could be brought to do was to confirm the abolition of the corve, and to pass a stamp act. They would not move a step further, and they were dismissed by the king on the 25th of May, 1787. The Parliament, or Chief Court of Justice, adopted a similar course, and it also was dismissed. The king then promulgated a new constitution, but it fell hopelessly to the ground.

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Newcastle, who wanted to retain his place in the new Cabinet, was more successful on his own behalf. Pulteney said he had no objection to himself or the Lord Chancellor, but that many changes must be made in order to satisfy the late Opposition, and to give the Cabinet a necessary majority. Pulteney then declared that, for himself, he desired a peerage and a place in the Cabinet, and thus the new Ministry was organised:Wilmington, First Lord of the Treasury; Carteret, Secretary of State; the Marquis of Tweeddale, Secretary for Scotland; Sandys, the motion-maker, Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Prince of Wales was to receive the additional fifty thousand pounds a year; and his two friends, Lord Baltimore and Lord Archibald Hamilton, to have seats at the new Board of Admiralty.

Hastings next determined to experiment on the Nabob of Oude. This Nabob, Asaph-ul-Dowlah, was an infamously dissipated prince, spending his own money in licentious pleasures, and extorting what he could from the Begums, his mother and grandmother. The old ladies lived at the palace of Fyzabad, or the "Beautiful Residence," situated in a charming district, amid hills and streams, about eighty miles from Lucknow. The Nabob's father had left them large sums of money and extensive estates, so that they kept a handsome court, and yet had the reputation of having accumulated about three million pounds sterling. The Nabob had compelled them, by coercive means, to let him have, at different times, about six hundred thousand pounds, and he thirsted exceedingly for more. Hastings determined to anticipate him. He sent for the Nabob of Oude while he was still in the fortress of Chunar, and there reminding him of his debts to the British Government, which were considerable, coolly proposed to him the robbery of his mother and grandmother. The proposal was so barefaced that, when Hastings came to make it to the Nabob, he felt that he really required some pretended reason for thus arbitrarily laying hands on the property of these innocent women, and therefore unblushingly asserted that they had been concerned in stirring up the insurrection at Benaresa matter, besides that it was so notoriously the result of Hastings' own daring arrest of Cheyte Sing, the Begums had neither motive for meddling in nor time for doing it. Till now they had regarded the British as their only protectors. They were living quietly at Fyzabad, one hundred and fifteen miles from Benares, when the insurrection broke out from very obvious causes. This infamous bargain being concluded at Chunar, Hastings relying on his agent at Lucknow, Mr. Middleton, compelling the Nabob to carry it out, retreated to Benares, and thence to Calcutta. The Nabob returned to Lucknow to enforce the diabolical scheme; but he found his mother and grandmother determined to resist the iniquitous order, and so shameful was it that even the needy and debauched Nabob felt[335] compunctions in proceeding with it. He left it to Middleton to execute it, but Middleton, in his turn, recoiled from the odious business. Not so Hastings; cold and resolute, he wrote to Middleton, that if he could not rely upon his firmness he would free him from his charge, and himself proceed to Lucknow and enforce his own orders. To induce Middleton to abandon his scruples of conscience and honour, the ever-ready friend of Hastings, the Chief Justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey, it appears, wrote to Middleton, and inculcated the necessity of obedience. Middleton and the Nabob, therefore, seized on the estates of the Begums, and suddenly surrounded Fyzabad and the palace with troops, and made themselves masters of both. But the old ladies had not been so inattentive to the approaches of the storm as to neglect the hiding of their treasures; they could not be found. Thus cruelly disappointed of the expected hoard, and the Begums remaining firm in their refusal to produce any part of it, Middleton seized on their two chief ministers, the eunuchs, Jewar Ali Khan and Behar Ali Khan. They were now thrown into prison, put in irons, and orders were given to starve and torture them till they revealed the secret of the concealment of the treasure of their mistresses. At the same time, the two ladies were placed in rigorous confinement themselves. This system was continued till they had extorted upwards of a million sterling from the Begums, and found that they might kill both them and their aged ministers, but could get no more. When the Begums and the two old men were liberated, they were told by the Residentnot now Middleton, but Bristowthat they owed this favour to the Governor-General, who had determined to have them "restored to their dignity and honour." There was another name connected with these events, and with almost equal disadvantage, that of Sir Elijah Impey, the Chief Justice. Impey, who had no jurisdiction in Oude, was found up there in the midst of these transactions, volunteering his assistance in getting up charges against the Begums. These charges were supported by a host of venal witnesses, and affidavits of their evidence were made out, and sent down to Calcutta, to justify the dark doings of Hastings.