春暖花开,武警预备特战队员集训忙!

In September the Americans in Fort Erie, being strongly reinforced, and elated by their repulse of General Drummond, marched out and made an attack on the British lines. General de Watteville received them with such effect that they rapidly fell back on Fort Erie and, no longer feeling themselves safe even there, they evacuated the fort, demolished its works, and retreated altogether from the shore of Upper Canada. When the news of peace, which had been concluded in December of this year, arrived in the spring, before the commencement of military operationsthough thirty thousand men at a time had invaded the Canadian frontiers, and Hampton, Wilkinson, and Harrison had all been marching in the direction of Kingston and Montreal simultaneously, the British were in possession of their fortress of Niagara, and of Michilimakinac, the key of the Michigan territory; and they had nothing to give in exchange but the defenceless shore of the Detroit. They had totally failed in their grand design on Canada, and had lostin killed, wounded, and prisonersnearly fifty thousand men, besides vast quantities of stores and ammunition. In short, they had incurred an expenditure quite heavy enough to deter them from lightly attacking the Canadas again.

But there was no rest for Frederick. Daun was overrunning Saxony; had reduced Leipsic, Wittenberg, and Torgau. Frederick marched against him, retook Leipsic, and came up with Daun at Torgau on the 3rd of November. There a most sanguinary battle took place, which lasted all day and late into the night. Within half an hour five thousand of Frederick's grenadiers, the pride of his army, were killed by Daun's batteries of four hundred cannon. Frederick was himself disabled and carried into the rear, and altogether fourteen thousand Prussians were killed or wounded, and twenty thousand of the Austrians. This scene of savage slaughter closed the campaign. The Austrians evacuated Saxony, with the exception of Dresden; the Russians re-passed the Oder, and Frederick took up his winter quarters at Leipsic. The evening of the 27th of January was fixed for the Minister's general statement upon the commercial policy of the Government. Sir Robert proposed the reduction of the duty on Russian tallow from 3s. 2d. to 1s. 6d.; the abolition of duty on the coarser fabrics of linen, cotton, and woollen, and the reduction on the finer from 20 to 10 per cent.; on French brandy and Geneva, a reduction from 22s. 10d. to 15s.; on foreign free-grown Muscovada sugar, a reduction from 9s. 4d. to 5s. 10d.; and on clayed 11s. 10d. to 8s.; the admission of Indian corn and buckwheat duty free; on butter, the duty to be reduced from 20s. to 10s.; and on cheese, from 10s. to 5s.; the duty on live animals, and fresh and salted meats, pork, and vegetables to be abolished. As to corn, in lieu of the then sliding scale, he proposed that when the average price of wheat was 48s., the duty should fall by 1s. with every 1s. of rise in price, till on reaching 53s. the duty should be a fixed one of 4s.; that this mitigated scale should last for three years, and, by a positive enactment, then disappear on the 1st of February, 1849, leaving for the future only a nominal rate of duty; and that all British colonial wheat and flour should be forthwith admitted at a nominal rate.

Whilst these violent dissensions had sprung up from the French Revolution, Wilberforce and his coadjutors had been active in their exertions to abolish the Slave Trade. Thomas Clarkson, now devoted heart and soul to this object, was, with Dr. Dickson, sent out by the parent Anti-Slavery Society through the country, to call into life provincial societies and committees, and found themselves zealously supported and warmly welcomed by philanthropists, and especially by the Society of Friends. They circulated the evidence taken before the House of Commons' Committee, and made a great impression. On the other hand, the French Revolution proved as antagonistic to the cause of the abolitionists as it had to the friendship of Burke and Fox. The dreadful insurrection in St. Domingo was attributed to the formation of the Society in Paris of Les Amis des Noirs, and many otherwise enlightened men took the alarm, lest similar scenes in our West Indian colonies should be the result of the doctrines of the abolitionists. Few persons could be found willing to entertain the idea of immediate abolition of the trade in slaves; and even Dr. Parr, though a great Whig and adherent of Fox, declared that these Utopian schemes of liberty to blacks were alarming to serious men. Wilberforce was earnestly entreated to reconsider his plan; he was assured that immediate abolition would not pass the Commons, nor even gradual abolition the Lords. Wilberforce, however, could not be deterred from bringing on the question. On the 18th of April he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to prevent the introduction of any more slaves into our colonies. Besides showing the cruelties practised in the collection and transmission of negroes, he brought forward evidence to prove that, so far from this trade being, as had been represented before the Committee of the Commons, the nursery of British seamen, it was their grave. He showed that of twelve thousand two hundred and sixty-three men employed in it, two thousand six hundred and forty-five had been lost in twelve months. This was calculated to produce far less effect than the surrender of hundreds of thousands of negroes, inasmuch as profit and loss was a more telling argument with the slave traders than mere humanity; and they exerted all their influence in defence of their traffic. Wilberforce added that even had this trade really been a beneficial one as regarded mere political economy, there was a smell of blood about it that all the perfumes of Arabia could not disguise. He was ably supported by Fox and Pitt; but, on this occasion, the Prime Minister could not command[381] his large majority; the motion was lost by one hundred and sixty-three against eighty-eight.

JAMESTOWN, ST. HELENA. Strong as was the majority of Ministers, however, the king did not wait for their resigning. The day after this debate (Thursday, December 18th), the king sent, at twelve o'clock at night, to Fox and Lord North an order to surrender their seals of office to their Under-Secretaries, as a personal interview, in the circumstances, would be disagreeable. Fox instantly delivered up his; but Lord North was already in bed, and had entrusted his seal to his son, Colonel North, who could not be found for some time. The Seals were then delivered to Lord Temple, who, on the following day, sent letters of dismissal to all the other members of the coalition Cabinet. Pitt, though in his twenty-fifth year only, was appointed first Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on him devolved the duty of forming a new Administration. Earl Gower was nominated President of the Council, and Lord Temple one of the Secretaries of State. When the House of Commons met in the afternoon, Fox imagined, from a motion of Dundas to proceed to business without the usual adjournment on Saturday, that it was the object of the new party to pass certain money Bills, and then resort to a dissolution. Fox opposed the motion, declaring that a dissolution at this moment would produce infinite damage to[304] the service of the nation, and that, should it take place in order to suit the convenience of an ambitious young man (meaning Pitt), he would, immediately on the meeting of the new House, move for an inquiry into the authors and advisers of it, in order to bring them to punishment. This caused Lord Temple, who had occasioned the breaking up of the Coalition, to resign again immediately, declaring that he preferred meeting any aspersions upon him in his private and individual capacity. This certainly removed a great danger from his colleagues, although it rendered the task of his friend and relative, Pitt, still more difficult, in having to form an Administration alone. The Ministry was then filled up thus:Lord Sydney, Secretary of State for the Home Department; the Marquis of Carmarthen for the Foreign; the Duke of Rutland, Lord Privy Seal; Lord Gower became President of the Council; the Duke of Richmond, Master-General of the Ordnance; Lord Thurlow again Chancellor; Lord Howe, First Lord of the Admiralty. With the exception of Pitt, the whole of the Cabinet was drawn from the House of Lords. When the Commons met, on the 22nd, Mr. Bankes said he was authorised by Mr. Pitt, who was not in the House, a new writ for Appleby being moved for on his appointment to office, to say that he had no intention to advise a dissolution. His Majesty, on the 24th of December, having also assured the House that he would not interrupt their meeting after the recess by either prorogation or dissolution, the House adjourned till the 12th of January, 1784. "Child, is thy father dead?"

But the King of France did not share in the feeling of Choiseul. He wrote to the King of Spain about this time, "My Minister wishes for war, but I do not!" In fact, changes had taken place in the Court of France which were about to precipitate Choiseul from his long-enjoyed favour. Madame de Pompadour was dead, and the king had become deeply enamoured of Madame du Barry. Choiseul was impolitic enough to despise her influence, and treated her with undisguised hauteur. He soon felt the consequence in an order from the king to resign his office and retire[203] to his estate at Chanteloupe, in Touraine. The shock to the insolent Minister, who had so long ruled absolutely in the French Court, was the more unlooked for, because he thought himself now all the more safe from having secured the marriage of the king's heir, his eldest grandson, with the Austrian archduchess, Marie Antoinette. Choiseul was succeeded by the triumvirate d'Aiguillon, as Foreign Minister; Terray, as Minister of Finance; and Maupeou, as Minister of Jurisprudence; but all subject to the supreme influence of Madame du Barry. Louis XV. thenceforth became a cipher.

Had Benningsen had a good commissariat, the doom of the French was certain. The army, famishing and in rags, was still eager to push their advantage the next day, and the French, if compelled to retreat, as there was every prospect, must have fallen into utter demoralisation, and the war would have been soon at an end. But Benningsen, sensible that there was an utter lack of provision for his army, and that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, hesitated to proceed to a second action with an army reduced twenty thousand in number, and thus to risk being cut off from K?nigsberg, endangering the person of the King of Prussia; and so the extreme caution, or rather, perhaps, the necessities of the Russian general, were the rescue of Buonaparte. Benningsen resolved to retreat upon K?nigsberg.

Mr. Nicholls next applied himself to the solution of the problem how the workhouse system, which had been safely and effectually applied to depauperise England, might be applied with safety and efficiency to put down mendicancy and relieve destitution in Ireland. In that country the task was beset with peculiar difficulties. Assuming the principle that the pauper should not be better off than the labourer, it would be difficult to devise any workhouse dress, diet, or lodging that would not be better than what many of the poor actually enjoyed. But, on the other hand, the Irish poor were fond of change, hopeful, sanguine, migratory, desultory in their habits, hating all restraints of order and system, averse from the trouble of cleanliness; and rather than be subject to the restrictions and regularity of a workhouse, an Irishman, in health and strength, would wander the world over to obtain a living. Hence, no matter how well he might be lodged, fed, and clad in a workhouse, he could not endure the confinement. Consequently, Mr. Nicholls found in the state of Ireland no sufficient reason for departing from the principle of the English Poor Law, which recognises destitution alone as the ground of relief, nor for establishing a distinction in the one country that does not exist in the other.

The changes in the manners and morals of the age since the reign of George III. have been sufficiently indicated in the preceding pages. Corresponding changes were gradually introduced in the world of fashion, though the conservative instinct of the aristocracy and the spirit of exclusiveness resisted innovation as long as possible. What was called "good society" was wonderfully select. The temple of fashion at the beginning of the reign of George IV. was Almack's; and the divinities that under the name of lady patronesses presided there were the Ladies Castlereagh, Jersey, Cowper, and Sefton, the Princess Esterhazy and the Countess Lieven. These and their associates gave the tone to the beau monde. We can scarcely now conceive the importance that was then attached to the privilege of getting admission to Almack's. Of the 300 officers of the Foot Guards, not more than half a dozen were honoured with vouchers. The most popular and influential amongst the grandes dames was Lady Cowper, afterwards Lady Palmerston. Lady Jersey was not popular, being inconceivably rude and insolent[440] in her manner. Many diplomatic arts, much finesse, and a host of intrigues were set in motion to get an invitation to Almack's. Very often persons whose rank and fortune entitled them to the entre anywhere were excluded by the cliquism of the lady patronesses. Trousers had come into general use. They had been first worn by children, then adopted in the army, and from the army they came into fashion with civilians. But they were rigidly excluded from Almack's, as well as the black tie, which also came into use about this time. The female oligarchy who ruled the world of fashion, or tried to do so, issued a solemn proclamation that no gentleman should appear at the assemblies without being dressed in knee-breeches, white cravat, and chapeau bras. On one occasion, we are told, the Duke of Wellington was about to ascend the staircase of the ball-room, dressed in black trousers, when the vigilant Mr. Willis, the guardian of the establishment, stepped forward, and said, "Your Grace cannot be admitted in trousers." Whereupon the great captain quietly retreated, without daring to storm the citadel of fashion. The principal dances at Almack's had been Scottish reels, and the old English country dance. In 1815 Lady Jersey introduced from Paris the quadrille which has so long remained popular. The mazy waltz was also imported about the same time. Among the first who ventured to whirl round the salons of Almack's was Lord Palmerston, his favourite partner being Madame Lieven. This new dance was so diligently cultivated in the houses of the nobility and gentry that the upper classes were affected with a waltzing mania.