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It was not till between eleven and twelve o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 18th of June, that this terrible conflict commenced; for the troops of Napoleon had not yet all reached the ground, having suffered from the tempests of wind and rain equally with the Allies. The rain had now ceased, but the morning was gloomy and lowering. The action opened by a brisk cannonade on the house and wood of Hougomont, which were held by the troops of Nassau. These were driven out; but their place was immediately taken by the British Guards under General Byng and Colonels Home and Macdonald. A tremendous cannonade was kept up on Hougomont by Jerome's batteries from the slopes above; and under cover of this fire the French advanced through the wood in front of Hougomont, but were met by a terrible fire from the British, who had the orchard wall as a breastwork from which to assail the enemy. The contest here was continued through the day with dreadful fury, but the British held their ground with bull-dog tenacity. The buildings of the farmyard and an old chapel were set fire to by the French shells; but the British maintained their post amid the flames, and filled the wood in front and a lane running under the orchard wall with mountains of dead.When the insurgents, about 8,000 strong, drew up in front of the Westgate Hotel, the principal point of attack, Frost commanded the special constables to surrender. On their refusal the word was given to fire, and a volley was discharged against the bow window of the room where the military were located, and at the same moment the rioters, with their pikes and other instruments, drove in the door and rushed into the passage. It was a critical moment, but the mayor and the magistrates were equal to the emergency. The Riot Act having been read by the mayor amidst a shower of bullets, the soldiers charged their muskets, the shutters were opened, and the fighting began. A shower of slugs immediately poured in from the street, which wounded Mr. Philips and several other persons. But the soldiers opened a raking discharge upon the crowd without, and after a few rounds, by which a great many persons fell dead on the spot, the assailants broke and fled in all directions. Frost, Williams, and Jones were tried by a special commission at Monmouth, and found guilty of high treason. Sentence of death was pronounced upon them on the 16th of January, 1840, but on the 1st of February the sentence was commuted to transportation for life. A free pardon was granted to them on the 3rd of May, 1856, and they returned to England in the September following. Mayor Philips was knighted for his gallantry.
"I knew," Cairness said, turning to Landor after a very short silence, "that you and Mrs. Landor were somewhere along here. So I left my horse at a rancheria across the hill there," he nodded over his shoulder in the direction of the looming pile just behind, "and walked to where I saw the fire. I saw you for some time before I was near, but I ought to have called out. I really didn't think about startling you."BATTLE OF NAVARINO: THE "ASIA" ENGAGING THE SHIPS OF THE CAPITAN BEY AND MOHURREM BEY. (See p. 262.)
The first steamboat that was worked for hire in Britain was the Comet, a small vessel with an engine of three horse-power. Two years later the Elizabeth, of eight horse-power, and the Clyde, of fourteen horse-power, were placed upon the river Clyde. Thus Scotland has had the honour of leading the way in this great line of improvement. In 1820 there were but three steam-vessels built and registered in England, four in Scotland, and one in Ireland. In 1826 there were fifty in England, and twenty-two in Scotland, with 9,000 tons burden. The building of steamers proceeded regularly, with an increasing amount of tonnage, till the number rose in 1849 to 1,296 steam-vessels, the aggregate burden of which was 177,310 tons. They were distributed as follows:In the ports of England, 865 vessels, 103,154 tons; Scotland, 166 vessels, 29,206 tons; Ireland, 111 vessels, 26,369 tons; the Channel Islands, 7 vessels, 955 tons; the colonies, 147 vessels, 17,626 tons. A Committee of the House of Commons was appointed in June, 1837, to inquire into the best means of establishing communication by steam with India by way of the Red Sea. During the year arrangements were made for the establishment of a regular monthly steam communication between Great Britain and India by way of the Red Sea upon the following basis:"The Government undertakes the transmission of the monthly mails between Great Britain and Alexandria at the sole charge of the public; and the East India Company undertakes the transmission of these mails between Alexandria and Bombay, upon condition that one-half of the expense incurred in the purchase and navigation of steam-vessels, and of any other expense incurred in the service, is defrayed by the Government, which is to receive the whole money connected with postage of letters between London and Bombay." This arrangement was carried out, and a further economy of time was obtained by the overland route to Marseilles, instead of transmitting the mails by steam-packets from Falmouth through the Strait of Gibraltar. In this way the journey was shortened to the extent of more than 1,000 miles, the direct distance by Marseilles and Malta being 5,238 miles, and by way of Falmouth, 6,310 miles. This system of conveyance was maintained till 1841, when the Government entered into a contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which undertook to employ powerful steam-vessels for the carrying of letters and passengers between England and Egypt, and between Suez, Ceylon, Madras, and Calcutta, towards the expenses of which the East India Company undertook to contribute 20,000 per annum for five years. After some time there was a further extension of the plan, by which the Government engaged to contribute 50,000 per annum towards the expense of the line of steam-packets between Bombay and Suez, 115,000 per annum for the service between Calcutta and Suez, and 45,000 for the service between Ceylon and Hong Kong, making a total of 210,000 per annum, of which one-third was to be repaid by the East India Company. By these arrangements was obtained a regular and safe steam communication twice a month to India, and once a month to China. We may judge of the extent of the intercourse thus carried on by the fact that in 1836 Great Britain received from Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and Ceylon about 180,000 letters, and sent to those places in the same year nearly 112,000 letters.
Goldsmith was in his poetry, as in his prose, simple, genuine, and natural. His "Deserted Village" and "Traveller" were in the metre of Pope, but they were full of the most exquisite touches of pathos, of truth, and liberty; they were new in spirit, though old in form. Charles Churchill, the satirist, was full of flagellant power. He has been said to have formed himself on Dryden; but it is more probable that his models were Lucian and Juvenal. He was a bold and merciless chastiser of the follies of the times. He commenced, in the "Rosciad," with the players, by which he stirred a nest of hornets. Undauntedly he pursued his course, attacking, in "The Ghost," the then all-powerful Dr. Johnson, who ruled like a despot over both literary men and their opinions. These satires, strong and somewhat coarse, were followed by "The Prophecy of Famine," an "Epistle to Hogarth," "The Conference," "The Duellist," "The Author," "Gotham," "The Candidate," "The Times," etc. In these Churchill not only lashed the corruptions of the age, but the false principles of nations. He condemned the seizure of other countries by so-called Christian powers, on the plea of discovery. It was only to be lamented that Churchill, who was a clergyman, in censuring his neighbour's vices did not abandon his own.In preparing to meet the invasion of the Allies Napoleon had to encounter the most formidable difficulties. In Russia and in this German campaign he had seen the bulk of his veteran army dissipatednay, destroyed. After all his years of incessant drafts on the life-blood of France, six hundred thousand men could not be readily replaced. To replace a fourth of that number with well-disciplined troops was impossible. He could draw none from Germany, for his boasted Confederation of the Rhine had disappeared as a summer cloud, and the very princes on whom he had relied were marching against him in the vast army of the Allies. He could draw none from Italy; for there Eugene Beauharnais was contending, with only about forty-five thousand men, against the much more numerous Austrians; whilst his brother-in-law, Murat, his dashing cavalry general, was gone over to the enemy. Poland would send him no more gallant regiments, for he had grievously deceived the Poles; and his trusted ally of Denmark lay trodden under foot by his former companion-in-arms, Bernadotte. When he turned his eyes over France, which had so long sent forth her hordes to desolate Europe at his bidding, he beheld a prospect not much more cheering. The male population, almost to a man, was drained off, and their bones lay bleaching in the torrid sands of Egypt and Syria, the rugged sierras of Spain and Portugal, in the fens of Holland and the sandy flats of Belgium, on many a heath and plain in Germany, and far away amid the mocking snows of frozen Muscovy. The fields of "la belle France" were being cultivated by old men, by women, and mere boys. Those who had been so long buoyed up under the loss of husbands, fathers, and children, by the delusive mirage of the glory of the "grand nation," now cursed the tyrant whose insane ambition had led such millions of the sons of France to the great slaughter-house of war. The conscriptions, therefore, were very little attended to. Besides this, Buonaparte was well aware that there remained a strong leaven of Jacobinism in Paris and the large towns, and he was afraid of calling out city guards to set at liberty other soldiers, lest, in the hour of his absence and weakness, they should rise and renounce his authority.
Buonaparte allowed his army, now reunited in Smolensk, five days' rest and enjoyment of the stores there, and on the 14th of November he again marched out to force his way into Poland. The second division, under Davoust, followed on the 16th, and the rear, still under Ney, on the 17th. The worn-down Italians of Prince Eugene could not move till the 15th, and did not overtake Buonaparte and assume their proper position till the 17th. The road which Buonaparte was taking was by Wilna, Krasnoi, and Borissov to Minsk; at the last two places he had his stores. But his way was now hemmed in on all sides by Russian armies. Wittgenstein was already at Vitebsk, and thence advanced on Borissov on the Beresina, where Buonaparte hoped to cross; whilst Tchitchagoff, who had joined Tormasoff, and thus raised their force to sixty thousand men, had driven the Austrians, under Schwarzenberg, back on the Bug, and had taken Minsk on the very day that Napoleon marched out of Smolensk. At the same time Kutusoff, with the grand army of Russia, was marching in a parallel line on the left flank of the Emperor, ready to fall on him whenever he was reduced to extremities by the other converging Russian forces. Now was coming the grand crisis. The elements were fighting fearfully against him; his men were wearied, half-starved, and disheartened; his enemies on all sides were alert with hope and revenge. Had Kutusoff used more alertness, and secured the passage of the Beresina as it ought to have been secured, the event which Bernadotte had planned must have taken place, and Buonaparte, with the remainder of his army, must have remained a prisoner there.Two courses were now open to the Duke of Wellington and to Peelto resign, in order that Emancipation might be carried by the statesmen who had always been its advocates, and who might therefore carry it without any violation of consistency or of their own political principles. It was for not adopting this course that they were exposed to all the odium which they so long endured. But the question was, whether Lord Grey or Lord Lansdowne could have carried Catholic Emancipation even with the aid of the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel in oppositioncould have overcome the repugnance of the Sovereign and the resistance of the House of Lords. It was their decided conviction that they could not, especially with due regard to the safety of the Established Church. But being convinced that the time had come when the question ought to be settled, the Duke examined the second course that was open to him, and embraced it. It was this: that postponing all other considerations to what he believed to be a great public duty, he should himself, as Prime Minister, endeavour to settle the question.