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The Budget did not retrieve the popularity of Ministers. Sir Francis Baring proposed to make up for an estimated deficit of 2,421,000 by an alteration of the timber duties producing 600,000 a year, and an alteration of the sugar duties producing 700,000. Both these changes were in the direction of free trade, and a still more significant proposal was the repeal of the existing corn law, and the substitution of a low fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat. The House, however, would not accept such a budget from a Government whose Premier had in the previous year declared that "the responsible advisers of the Crown would not propose any change in the Corn Laws." After a debate of eight nights the Ministry were defeated on the sugar duties by 317 votes to 281. Still they did not resign, and the Opposition in consequence had recourse to a direct vote of censure.

In the manufacture of iron a most material discovery of smelting the ore by the use of pit-coal was made. The forests of England were so much reduced by the consumption of wood in the iron furnaces, that it was contemplated removing the business to our American colonies. This necessity was obviated by the discovery by Dud Dudley of a mode of manufacturing bar-iron with coal instead of wood. This discovery had been patented in 1619, yet, singularly, had been neglected; but in 1740 the principle was applied at Coalbrookdale, and iron thus made tough or brittle, as was wished. Iron works, now not confined to one spot by the necessity of wood, sprang up at various places in England and Wales, and the great works at Rotherham were established in 1750, and the famous Carron works in Scotland in 1760. The quantity of pig-iron made in 1740 was calculated at 17,000 tons, and the number of people employed in the iron trade at the end of this period is supposed to be little short of 300,000. The Session of 1850 was creditably distinguished by the establishment of a policy of self-government for our colonies. They had become so numerous and so large as to be utterly unmanageable by the centralised system of the Colonial Office; while the liberal spirit that pervaded the Home Government, leading to the abolition of great monopolies, naturally reacted upon our fellow-subjects settled abroad, and made them discontented without constitutional rights. It was now felt that the time was come for a comprehensive measure of constitutional government for our American and Australian Colonies; and on the 8th of February, Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, brought the subject before the House of Commons. It was very fully discussed, Sir William Molesworth, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Labouchere, and others who had taken an active part in colonial affairs, being the principal speakers. With regard to Canada, great progress had already been made in constitutional government. The same might be said of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, in which the practice of administration approximated to that observed in Great Britain. It was determined to introduce representative institutions of a similar kind in Cape Colony. In Australia it was proposed that there should be but one Council, two-thirds elected by the people and one-third nominated by the Governor. Mr. Roebuck objected strongly to the Government measure, because it left the colonists free, to a great extent, to gratify the strong desire almost universally felt among them to have power to choose a Constitution for themselves, instead of[606] having a Constitution sent out to them, cut and dry. He wanted the House to plant at once liberal institutions there, which would spare the colonists the agony of working out a scheme of government for themselves. He declared that "of all the abortions of an incompetent Administration, this was the greatest." A ready-made Constitution had been sent out by the Government to South Africa; why, then, could not Parliament send out a ready-made Constitution to Australia? Lord John Russell replied to Mr. Roebuck's arguments, and after a lengthened debate the Bill was read a second time. There was a strong division of opinion in committee as to whether there should be two Chambers or one. Sir William Molesworth moved an amendment to the effect that there should be two, which was rejected by a majority of 218 against 150. The Bill passed the House of Commons on the 18th of May, and on the 31st was brought into the Lords, where also it was subjected to lengthened discussions and various amendments, which caused it to be sent back to the Commons for consideration on the 1st of August. On the motion of Lord John Russell the amendments were agreed to, and the Bill was passed. This was the principal legislative work of the Session and possessed undoubted merits. Sir George Prevost now put himself at the head of the brave troops that had so lately advanced from conquest to conquest under Wellington. He had eleven thousand of these brave fellows, including a fine regiment of cavalry, and a numerous train of artillery. With such an army, an able general would not only have cleared the whole frontier of Canada, but would have inflicted a severe chastisement on the Americans in their own territory. The great object to be accomplished was the destruction of Sacketts Harbour, with which must fall at once the whole naval power of America on Lake Ontario. Every military man expected that this would be done; but Sir George, after waiting in a camp at Chamblay, advanced to Plattsburg Harbour, on Lake Champlain. But there he would do nothing till the American flotilla, which lay in the harbour, was also attacked. For this purpose Captain Downie was sent by Sir James Yeo from the Ontario squadron suddenly to take command of a squadron of a few ships and a miscellaneous naval force, as hastily mustered and knowing little of each otherDownie knowing only one of his officers. The ship which he commanded was just launched, was unfinished, and everything was in confusion: yet in this condition, Sir George Prevost insisted on their going into action against a superior and well-prepared American squadron, promising to make a simultaneous attack on the harbour and defences on land. Downie commenced the attack on the water, but found no co-operation from Sir George on shore, who stood still till he had seen Downie killed, and the unequal British vessels, three in number, fairly battered to pieces, and compelled to strike. And, after all, Sir George never did commence the attack on the fort with that fine army, which would have carried it in ten minutes, but marched back again, amid the inconceivable indignation of officers and men, who could not comprehend why they should be condemned to obey the orders of so disgraceful a poltroon. On their march, or rather retreat, they were insulted by the wondering Americans, and abandoned vast quantities of stores, ammunition, and provisions. The loss of men during this scandalous expedition was not more than two hundred; but eight hundred veteranswho had been accustomed to very different scenes, under a very different commanderin their resentment at his indignity went over to the enemy. In fact, had this unhappy general continued longer in command, the whole British force would have become thoroughly demoralised.

Here, had the Government been wise, they would have stopped; but they were not contented without experiencing a third defeat. The next morning, the 20th of December, they returned to the charge with an indictment against Mr. Hone for publishing a parody on the Athanasian Creed, called "The Sinecurist's Creed." The old Chief Justice was again on the bench, apparently as resolved as ever, and this time the defendant, on entering the court, appeared pale and exhausted, as he well might, for he had put forth exertions and powers of mind which had astonished the whole country and excited the deepest interest. The Attorney-General humanely offered to postpone the trial, but the defendant preferred to go on. He only begged for a few minutes' delay to enable him to put down a few notes on the Attorney-General's address after that was delivered; but the Chief Justice would not allow him this trifling favour, but said, if the defendant would make a formal request for the purpose, he would put off the trial for a day. This would have injured the cause of the defendant, by making it appear that he was in some degree worsted, and, fatigued as he was, he replied, promptly, "No! I make no such request." William Hone, on this third trial, once more seemed to forget his past fatigues, and rose with a strength that completely cowed the old and fiery judge. He did not desist till he had converted his dictatorial manner into a suppliant one. After quoting many eminent Churchmen as dissentients from the Athanasian Creed, and amongst them Warburton and Tillotson, he added, "Even his lordship's father, the Bishop of Carlisle, he believed, took a similar view of this creed." This was coming too near; and the judge said, "Whatever that opinion was, he has gone, many years ago, where he has had to account for his belief and his opinions. For common delicacy, forbear." "O, my lord," replied the satisfied defendant, "I shall certainly forbear." The judge had profited by the lesson to-day: he gave a much more temperate charge to the jury, and they required only twenty minutes to return the third and final victory of Not Guilty. Never had this arbitrary Government suffered so withering a defeat. The sensation throughout the country was immense. The very next day Lord Ellenborough sent in his announcement of retiring from[131] the bench, and in a very short time he retired from this world altogether (December 13, 1818), it being a settled conviction of the public mind that the mortification of such a putting-down, by a man whom he rose from his sick-bed to extinguish, tended materially to hasten that departure.

Whilst Napoleon was thus advancing towards Paris, the besotted Bourbons rather rejoiced in it, for they said it would compel the two chambers to invest the king with despotic powerthat was what they were still longing for; and Louis himself, addressing the foreign ambassadors, bade them assure their sovereigns that he was well, and that the foolish enterprise of "that man" should as little disturb Europe as it had disturbed him.

The General ElectionCrime in IrelandIncreased Powers granted to the ExecutiveIreland on the Verge of RebellionDeath of O'ConnellViceroyalty of Lord ClarendonSpecial Commission in Clare, Limerick, and TipperaryThe Commission at ClonmelRise of the Young Ireland PartyThe NationMeagher and Smith O'BrienThey try to dispense with the ChurchThe Irish ConfederationThe United IrishmanNews of the French RevolutionPanic in DublinLord Clarendon and Mr. BirchThe Deputation to ParisSmith O'Brien in ParliamentPreparations for Civil WarYoung and Old Ireland at blowsArrest and Trial of Mitchel, Smith O'Brien, and MeagherTransportation of MitchelLord Clarendon's Extraordinary PowersSmith O'Brien in the SouthCommencement of the InsurrectionBattle of BallingarryArrest of Smith O'BrienCollapse of the RebellionTrial of the ConspiratorsTrials and SentencesThe Rate in AidThe Encumbered Estates ActThe Queen's Visit to IrelandCove becomes QueenstownA Visit to CorkKingstown and DublinDeparture from DublinAn Affecting IncidentBelfast.