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On the 23rd Moore was obliged to halt for the coming of his supplies; and whilst doing so, he received the intelligence that no fewer than seventy thousand men were in full march after him, or taking a route so as to cut off his rear at Benevento, and that Buonaparte himself headed this latter division. There was no further thought of advancing, but of retreat, before the army was completely surrounded. By the 26th the whole army was beyond Astorga, but the French were now close behind them. Buonaparte, indeed, hoped to have rushed on by the Guadarama, and to have cut off his retreat at Tordesillas, but he was twelve hours too late. On the last day of December, 1808, Buonaparte was pressing close on the British rear in the vicinity of Astorga, and thus closed the year on the fortunes of the Spaniards and their British Allies. The boastful Spanish armies, too proud to think at first that they needed assistance, too unskilful, when they did see the need of it, to co-operate with it, and who had afforded nothing but indifference and false intelligence to their benefactors, were dispersed like so many clouds, and their Allies were flying from an overwhelming foe.

[See larger version] In the House of Lords on the 24th of January, 1721, five directors who had been called before them were arrested and their papers seized. By what had been drawn from them, it appeared that large sums had been given to people in high places to procure the passing of the South Sea Bill. Lord Stanhope rose and expressed his indignation at such practices, and moved that any transfer of stock for the use of any person in the Administration without a proper consideration was a notorious and dangerous corruption. The motion was seconded by Lord Townshend, and carried unanimously. The examination being continued on the 4th of February, Sir John Blunt refused to answer their lordships, on the plea that he had already given his evidence before the Secret Committee. A vehement debate arose out of this difficulty, during which the Duke of Wharton, a most profligate young nobleman, and president of the Hell-fire Club, made a fierce attack on Stanhope, accused him of fomenting the dissensions between the king and his son, and compared him to Sejanus, who had sown animosities in the family of Tiberius, and rendered his reign hateful to the Romans. Stanhope, in replying to this philippic, was so transported by his rage, that the blood gushed from his nostrils. He was carried from the House, and soon afterwards expired. In this year the Spanish Legion, which had been sent to help the Constitutionalists in Spain was dissolved, after an inglorious career. It had been constantly attacked by the Conservatives in Parliament. Thus, in the Session of 1837, Lord Mahon, who had been Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Sir Robert Peel's Government, reviewed the line of policy pursued by Lord Palmerston. He complained that the public had been kept in a[454] state of ignorance whether they were at peace or at war, and in his opinion it was a peace without tranquillity and a war without honour. The object of the Quadruple Alliance had been to appease the civil dissensions in Portugal, and not to sanction the intervention of France and Britain in Spain. He lamented the policy that led to the additional articles signed in 1834, which stipulated for a certain degree of interference. But Lord Palmerston had thought proper to proceed still further, in suspending the Foreign Enlistment Act, and allowing 12,000 Englishmen to enlist under the banners of the Queen of Spain. More than 540,000 had been already expended in the war; and in Lord Mahon's opinion the influence of Great Britain in Spain had not been augmented by these measures, in proof of which he alleged that British merchants got less fair play there than French merchants. Lord Palmerston defended his policy against the attacks of Lord Mahon and other speakers. The Quadruple Treaty, he contended, contemplated assistance to the Constitutional party in Spain as well as in Portugal. It was concluded because there was a civil war in Portugal; and when the civil war was transferred to Spain, the same parties who took part with Portugal by treaty were bound at an early period to extend its provisions to Spain, its object being expressly "the pacification of the Peninsula by the expulsion of the two Infants from it." He differed widely from Lord Mahon in thinking the suspension of the Foreign Enlistment Act was disgraceful to the Government. Examples of the same kind were to be found in the most brilliant periods of the history of England.

As soon as five or six thousand of his troops were landed, Buonaparte commenced his march on Alexandria. The Turks manned the walls, and resisted furiously, incensed at this invasion by a Power with which they were nominally at peace. But the walls were ruinous; the French forced their way over several breaches, and commenced an indiscriminate massacre. The place was abandoned to pillage for four hours. As the Mamelukes were hated by the Arabs and the Copts, and were the military mercenaries of the country, chiefly recruited from Georgia and Circassia, Buonaparte determined to destroy them. He considered that he should thus rid himself of the only formidable power in Egypt, and at the same time conciliate the Bedouins and Fellahs. On the 7th of July he set out on his march for Cairo with his whole force. He marched up the bank of the Nile, but at such a distance as to prevent the soldiers from getting any water to quench their burning thirst. It was all that Buonaparte could do to keep his troops in subordination. For fourteen days this melancholy march was continued, when they came at once in sight of the Pyramids, not far distant from Cairo, and of the army of the Mamelukes, drawn up across their way, headed by Murad Bey. This force consisted of five thousand cavalryMamelukes, mounted on the finest Arabian horses in the world, trained to obey the slightest touch of the rein, to advance, wheel, or fly with wonderful rapidity. The riders were all fine men, armed with sabres, pistols, and blunderbusses of the best English workmanship. They were deemed invincible and were ruthlessly cruel. They presented in appearance the finest body of cavalry in the world, the plumes of their turbans waving in the air, and their arms glittering in the sun. There were, moreover, twenty thousand infantry lying in a slightly-entrenched camp on their right;[467] but these were a mere rabblefellaheen, or, in other words, peasantry, brought from their fields, and armed with matchlocks. They had forty pieces of cannon to defend the camp, but these had no carriages, being mounted on clumsy wooden frames. Buonaparte drew up his army so as to keep out of gunshot of the camp, and to deal only with the cavalry first. He formed his troops into squares to resist the onslaught of the cavalry; and as he saw the Mamelukes come on, he called to his men, "From yonder Pyramids twenty centuries behold your actions!" The Mamelukes came thundering on like a whirlwind, and sending before them the most horrible yells. Murad Bey said he would cut up the French like gourds. One of the French squares was thrown into confusion, but it recovered itself, and the battle was instantly a scene of the most desperate fury. The Mamelukes fought like demons; but, finding that they could not break the French ranks, whilst they and their horses were mown down by musketry and artillery, in despair they flung their pistols at their foes, backed their horses up to them to break them by kicking, and finding all unavailing, fled. Such as were left wounded on the ground crept forward to cut at the legs of the French soldiers. Both cavalry and infantry then, by swimming their horses, or in boats, attempted to cross the Nile, but the greater part were drowned in the attempt. Murad Bey, with the residue of his Mamelukes, escaped into Upper Egypt. Meanwhile the coronation had taken place. It was fixed for the 8th of September, and the necessary alterations were made in Westminster Abbey for the occasion. On the morning of the appointed day numerous labourers, in scarlet jackets and white trousers, were busy completing the arrangements. Forty private gentlemen acted as pages of the Earl Marshal, and devised a novelty in the way of costume, clothing themselves in blue frock coats, white breeches and stockings, a crimson silk sash, and a small, ill-shaped hat, with a black ostrich feather, each provided with a gilt staff. Their duty was to conduct persons provided with tickets to their proper places. Three-fourths of the members of the House of Commons were in military uniform, and a few in Highland costume. The equipages produced for the occasion were magnificent, the Lord Chancellor rivalling the Lord Mayor in this display; but neither of them came up to the Austrian ambassador in finery. The street procession commenced on Constitution Hill, and attracted thousands of spectators. Their Majesties' carriage was drawn by eight horses, four grooms being on each side, two footmen at each door, and a yeoman of the guard at each wheel. The crowds were in good humour with the spectacle, and manifested no disposition to dispense with royalty. The presence of the queen offered a contrast to the coronation of George IV. Of the regalia, the ivory rod with the dove was borne by Lord Campbell, the sceptre and the cross by Lord Jersey, and the crown by the Duke of Beaufort. The queen followed, supported by the Bishops of Winchester and Chichester, and attended by five gentleman pensioners on each side, the train borne by the Duchess of Gordon, assisted by six daughters of earls. There was no banquet, Government having the fear of the economists before their eyes, and the nation having too lively a recollection of the coronation folly of George IV.; but the king entertained a large party of the Royal Family and nobility, with the principal officers of his household.

The spring of 1720 was a period of remarkable national prosperity. But "the grand money schemes projected of late," which appeared to the Jacobite Atterbury and others calculated to cement the royal peace and strengthen the foundation[46] of the Government and nation, were destined to produce a very different effect. For the South Sea Bubble was about to burst. In 1711, Harley, being at his wits' end to maintain the public credit, established a fund to provide for the National Debt, which amounted to ten millions of pounds. To defray the interest he made permanent the duties on wine, vinegar, and tobacco, etc. To induce the purchase of the Government stock, he gave to the shareholders the exclusive privilege of trading to the Spanish settlements in South America, and procured them an Act of Parliament and a royal charter, under the name of the South Sea Company. The idea, hollow and groundless as it was, seized on the imagination of the most staid and experienced traders. All the dreams of boundless gold which haunted the heads of the followers of Drake and Raleigh were revived. The mania spread through the nation, and was industriously encouraged by the partisans of Harley. But this stupendous dream of wealth was based on the promises of Ministers, who at the Peace of Utrecht were to secure from the Government of Spain this right to trade to its colonies. The right was never granted by that haughty and jealous Power, further than for the settlement of some few factories, and the sending of one small ship annually of less than five hundred tons. This, and the Assiento, or privilege of supplying those colonies with African slaves, were the sole advantages obtained, and these were soon disturbed by the war with Spain, which broke out under Alberoni. The South Sea Company, however, from its general resources, remained a flourishing corporation, and was deemed the rival of the Bank of England. Mr. William Johnson, ditto 3,300

Fox did not suffer the Session to close without another powerful effort to avoid war with France. A petition had been handed to him for presentation to the Commons, drawn up by Mr. Gurney of Norwich, and signed by the Friends and other inhabitants of that city, praying that peace with France might be concluded. Fox not only agreed to present it and support its prayer, but he earnestly exhorted Mr. Gurney and his friends to promote the sending of petitions from other places for this object, as the only means of influencing the House, bent determinedly on war. On the 17th of June, only four days before the close of the Session, Fox moved an Address to the Crown, praying that, as the French had been driven out of Holland, peace should be made. In pursuance of his objecta great one, if attainablehe did not spare his former favourite, the Empress of Russia, and the other royal robbers of Poland. Burke replied that Fox knew very well that the defence of Holland was but a very partial motive for the war. The real obstacles to peace were the avowed principles of the Frenchthose of universal conquest, of annexation of the kingdoms conquered, as already Alsace, Savoy, and Belgium; their attempts on the Constitution of Great Britain by insidious means; the murder of their own monarch held up as an example to all other nations. To make peace with France, he said truly, was to declare war against the rest of Europe, which was threatened by France; and he asked with whom in France should we[418] negotiate for peace, if so disposed? Should it be with Lebrun, already in a dungeon, or with Clavire, who was hiding from those who were anxious to take his head? or with Egalit, who had been consigned to a dungeon at Marseilles? Burke declared that you might as well attempt to negotiate with a quicksand or a whirlwind as with the present ever-shifting and truculent factions which ruled in France.

Fox introduced his first Bill on the 20th of November. All went smoothly, and the second reading was ordered for that day week. Then the storm burst. Mr. Grenville (afterwards Lord Grenville) described the Bill as a scheme to put the Company into the hands of Ministers, and to annihilate the prerogatives of the Crown at the same time. He denounced it as one of the most daring and dangerous attempts that had ever been brought into that House. He moved that it should lie over till after Christmas, and there was a strong phalanx ready to support him. Grenville did not press the motion to a division, and the Bill was read a second time on the 27th, when a vehement and long debate took place. Pitt put forth his whole strength against it, Fox for it, and it was carried by two hundred and twenty-nine votes against one hundred and twenty. On the 1st of December it was moved that the Bill be committed, when the Opposition was equally determined. On this occasion Burke, who had made himself profoundly acquainted with Indian affairs, took the lead, and delivered one of his very finest speeches, full of information and eloquence. Pitt resisted the going into Committee with all his power, and pledged himself, if the House would throw out the Bill, to bring in another just as efficacious, and at the same time devoid of its danger. The debate, like the former one, did not close till half-past four in the morning, and then it was with a triumphant majority of two hundred and seventeen against one hundred and three. The Bill, thus carried by such majorities through the Commons, was carried up to the Lords, on the 9th of December, by Fox, accompanied by a numerous body of the Commoners, and it was considered as certain of passing there; but the king and his party, exasperated at the resolute conduct of the Commons, had gone to such lengths to quash the Bill in the Lords as are rarely resorted to by the Crown. As in the Lower House, so here, it was allowed to be read the first time without dividing; but it was attacked with an ominous solemnity by Thurlow, the Duke of Richmond, and Lord Temple, who, since his recall from the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, had thrown himself into the Opposition with peculiar vivacity. It was known that he had been frequently closeted with the king of late, and he bluntly declared the Bill infamous. As a matter of fact, he had urged the king to use his personal influence with the House of Lords. Thurlow went further, and, fixing one of his most solemn glances on the Prince of Wales, who was sitting in the House to vote for the Bill, declared that if this measure passed, the crown of England would not be worth wearing;[303] and that if the king allowed it to become law, he would, in fact, have taken it from his head and put it on that of Mr. Fox. On the 15th, when the Bill was proposed for the second reading, the royal proceedings against it were brought at once to light. The Duke of Portland rose and said, before going into the question, he was bound to notice a report which was confidently in circulation, and which, if true, vitally affected the constitution of the country. This was no less than that the king had written a note to Lord Temple, stating that "his Majesty would deem those who voted for the Bill not only not his friends, but his enemies; and that if Lord Temple could put this into still stronger language, he had full authority to do so."

The employment of children in factories also occupied the attention of Parliament at this time. A Bill had been framed in 1833 with the most benevolent intentions for the protection of factory children. The law excluded from factory labour all children under nine years of age, except in silk factories, and prohibited those under thirteen from working more than thirteen hours any one day; the maximum in silk mills alone being ten hours. The provisions of the law were, however, evaded by fraud. Children were represented as being much older than they really were, and abuses prevailed that induced Lord Ashley to bring in a Bill upon the subject. Accordingly, on the 22nd of June the noble lord moved, by way of amendment to the order of the day, the second reading of his Bill for the Better Regulation of Factories. The order of the day was carried by a majority of 119 to 111. The Bill was therefore lost by a majority of eight. On the 20th of July Lord Ashley again brought the whole matter under the consideration of the House in a speech full of painful details, and concluded by moving a resolution to the effect that the House deeply regretted that the imperfect and ineffective law for the regulation of labour in factories had been suffered to continue so long without any amendment. He was answered by the usual arguments of the Manchester school about the evils of interfering with free contract. Lord John Russell argued that, in the present condition of the manufacturing world, we could not, with restricted hours of labour, compete with other nations. A ten hours' Bill would drive the manufacturers abroad; and it would no longer be a question as to an hour or two more or less work to be performed by the children, but as to how their starvation was to be averted. On a division, the motion was lost by a majority of 121 to 106. On[455] the 16th of August the Queen proceeded to Westminster for the purpose of proroguing Parliament.

The Marquis of Granby resigned his posts as Paymaster-General of the Ordnance and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, much to the annoyance and against the entreaties of the king and the Duke of Grafton. Camden would have done the same, but as the Ministers were anxious to be rid of him, Chatham and his friends counselled him to remain, and put the Ministry to the odium of dismissing him. This was done, and thus two of the men most popular with the publicGranby and Camdenwere lost to the Administration. The Seals, as Lord Shelburne had predicted, went a-begging. Charles Yorke, second son of the former Lord Chancellor, Hardwicke, had all his life been hankering after this prize, but as he was closely pledged to the party of Lord Rockingham, he most reluctantly declined it. Three days subsequently, however, the king, after the levee, suddenly called him into his closet, and so pressingly entreated him to accept the Seals and rescue his sovereign from an embarrassment, that he gave way. This was on the 18th of January. He was to be raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Morden, but, on encountering the keen reproaches of his party at Lord Rockingham's, he went home and committed suicide. The Seals were then successively offered to Mr. de Grey, the Attorney-General, to Sir Eardley Wilmot, and Lord Mansfield, who refused them, and they were obliged to be put in commission, Lord Mansfield consenting to occupy the woolsack, as Speaker to the House of Lords, till that was done. After some time, Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, one of the barons of the Exchequer, the Honourable Henry Bathurst, one of the justices of the Common Pleas, and Sir Richard Aston, one of the justices of the King's Bench, were named the commissioners.

On the 21st of June Pitt introduced and carried several resolutions, which formed the basis of his Commutation Act. These went to check smuggling, by reducing the duty on tea from fifty to twelve and a half per cent., and to raise the house and window tax so as to supply the deficiency. A Bill was then passed to make good another deficiency in the Civil List, to the amount of sixty thousand pounds. Early in August Mr. Pitt brought in his India Bill, which differed chiefly from his former one in introducing a Government Board of Commissioners, with power to examine and revise the proceedings of the Court of Directors. This, which afterwards acquired the name of the Board of Control, was opposed by Fox, but passed both Houses with little trouble.