毛泽东盼抽"老四的烟"

CHAPTER XX. REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).

[See larger version] [596]

These proceedings called forth an opposite class of Associations, in which the clergy of the Establishment took the lead. The bishop and clergy of Worcester, and Dr. Watson, the bishop, and the clergy of Llandaff, met and presented addresses to the king, expressing their abhorrence of the doctrines of these Associations, which made no secret of their demand for "the rights of manliberty and equality, no king, no Parliament;" and they expressed their conviction that this country already possessed more genuine liberty than any other nation whatever. They asserted that the Constitution, the Church, and State had received more improvements since the Revolution in 1688 than in all previous ages; that the Dissenters and Catholics had been greatly relieved, the judges had been rendered independent, and the laws in various ways more liberalised since the accession of his present Majesty than for several reigns previously. They asserted boldly that in no country could men rise from the lowest positions to affluence and honour, by trade, by the practice of the law, by other arts and professions, so well as in this; that the wealth everywhere visible, the general and increasing prosperity, testified to this fact, in happy contrast to the miserable condition of France. They concluded by recommending the formation of counter-associations in all parts of the country, to diffuse such constitutional sentiments and to expose the mischievous fallacies of the Democratic societies. This advice was speedily followed, and every neighbourhood became the arena of conflicting politics. The Democrats, inoculated by the wild views of French licence, injured the cause of real liberty and progress by their advocacy of the mob dominion of Paris; and the Constitutionalists, urged by the alarm and the zeal inspired by opposition, grew intolerant and persecuting. The eyes of thousands who had at first hailed the French Revolution as the happy dawn of a new era of liberty and brotherhood, were now opened by the horrors of the massacres of the French clergy in September of this year, and by the sight of swarms of priests, who had fled for security to London and were everywhere to be seen in the streets, destitute and dejected. A public meeting was called at the London Tavern towards the close of 1792, and a subscription entered into for their relief.

[See larger version]

In 1765 Clive embarked for India for the third and last time. He went out with the firm determination to curb and crush the monster abuses that everywhere prevailed in our Indian territories. He had made a fortune of forty thousand pounds a year, and he was, therefore, prepared to quash the system by which thousands of others were endeavouring to do the same. No man was sharper than Clive in perceiving, where his own interest was not concerned, the evils which were consuming the very vitals of our power, and making our name odious in Hindostan. The first and most glaring abuse of power which arrested his attention was as regarded his old puppet, Meer Jaffier. He had lately died, and his own court had proposed to set up his legitimate grandson; but the Council preferred his natural son, Nujeem-ul-Dowlah, a poor spiritless youth, who agreed that the English should take the military defence of the country, and also appoint a Prime Minister to manage the revenue and other matters of government. The Council agreed to this, and received a present from the nabob of their creation of one hundred and forty thousand pounds, which they divided amongst themselves. This was directly in opposition to the recent order of the Court of Directors, not to accept any presents from the native princes; but, as Clive states, he found them totally disregarding everything but their own avarice.

It was at this crisis, when Hastings was just recovering his authority in the Council, that the news arrived in India, and spread amongst the native chiefs, that in Yenghi Dunia, or the New World, the Company Sahibfor the East Indians could never separate the ideas of the East India Company and England itselfthere had been a great revolution, and the English driven out. This, as might be expected, wonderfully elated the native chiefs, and especially those in the south. There the French of Pondicherry and Chandernagore boasted of the destruction of the British power, and that it was by their own hands. Hastings, who was as able and far-seeing as he was unprincipled in carrying out his plans for the maintenance of the British dominion in India, immediately set himself to counteract the mischievous effects of these diligently-disseminated rumours, and of the cabals which the French excited. These were most to be feared amongst the vast and martial family of the Mahrattas. The Mahrattas had risen on the ruins of the great Mogul empire. They now extended their tribes over a vast space of India from Mysore to the Ganges. The Peishwa, as head of these nations, held his residence at Poonah. Besides his, there were the great houses of Holkar and Scindia; the Guicowar, who ruled in Guzerat; the Bonslah, or Rajah of Berar, a descendant of Sivaji. The Mahrattas were, for the most part, a rude, warlike race, rapacious and ambitious, and living in the most primitive style. To destroy the confidence of these fierce warriors in the French, Hastings gave immediate orders, on receiving the news of the proclamation of war in Europe, for the seizure of the French settlements. This was on the 7th of July, 1778; on the 10th he had taken Chandernagore, and ordered Sir Hector[329] Munro to invest Pondicherry. That was soon accomplished, and the only remaining possession of France, the small one of Mah, on the coast of Malabar, was seized the next spring.

The American disasters had now to be criticised in Parliament. On the 20th of November the two Houses met, and Lord Chatham rose instantly to reply, and to move an amendment on the Address. He attacked the Ministry with a still more personal and sweeping censure than he had done once before. "Can Ministers," he asked, "presume to expect a continuance of support in their career of ruinous infatuation? Can Parliament be so dead to its dignity and its duty as to be deluded into the loss of the one and the violation of the other? Will they continue to give an unlimited credit and support to Government in measures which are reducing this flourishing empire to ruin and contempt? But yesterday, and England might have stood against the world; now, none so poor to do her reverence! I use the words of a poet; but, though it be poetry, it is no fiction. It is a shameful truth, that not only the power and strength of this country are wasting away and expiring, but her well-earned glories, her true honour and substantial dignity, are sacrificed. France, my lords, has insulted you; she has encouraged and sustained America; and, whether America be wrong or right, the dignity of this country ought to spurn at the officious insult of French interference!" It is certain that Chatham would not have tolerated the presence of Franklin and Deane in Paris for a single day; they must have quitted France, or France would have been instantly compelled to throw off the mask. At this time, when the news neither of Howe's success in the south nor of Burgoyne's fall in the north had arrived, Chatham seemed to see in prophetic vision the disasters of the latter general. "The desperate state of our army," he said, "is, in part, known. No man thinks more highly of our troops than I do. I love and honour the English troops. I know that they can achieve anything but impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannotI venture to say ityou cannot conquer America! You may swell every expense and every effort still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance that you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little, pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign prince; your efforts are for ever vain and impotentdoubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates to an incurable resentment the minds of your enemies, to overrun them with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I would never lay down my armsnevernevernever!" On the subject of employing Indians in the war against the Americans, willing to forget that he had done the same thing in Canada, he burst forth most indignantly: "But, my lords, who is the man that, in addition to these disgraces[247] and mischiefs of our army, has dared to authorise and associate to our arms the scalping-knife and tomahawk of the savage? to call into civilised alliance the wild and inhuman savage of the woods? to delegate to the merciless Indian the defence of disputed rights, and to wage the horrors of this barbarous war against our brethren? My lord, these enormities cry aloud for redress and punishment. Unless done away, it will be a stain on the national characterit is a violation of the Constitution; I believe it is against the law. It is not the least of our national misfortunes, that the strength and character of our army are thus impaired; infected with the mercenary spirit of robbery and rapinefamiliarised to the horrid scenes of savage cruelty, it can no longer boast of the noble and generous principles which dignify a soldier!" He then proceeded to give the Americans credit still for a natural leaning towards England; believed that they might be drawn from their alliance with France; and recommended, by his amendment, an immediate cessation of arms, and a treaty between the countries, by which he hoped that America would yet be retained in affectionate dependence.

[See larger version]

In the face of such facts it was clear that something must be done, even by a Protectionist Ministry, to diminish the effect of the growing belief that bad legislation was at the bottom of the country's difficulties. In the spring men had looked eagerly for the Budget of the new Ministry. It had been bitterly remarked that at the time when Parliament was prorogued there were nearly 21,000 persons in Leeds whose average earnings were only 11-3/4 d. per weekthat in one district in Manchester alone a gentleman had visited 258 families, consisting of 1,029 individuals, whose average earnings were only 7? d. per head a week; and that while millions were in this deplorable condition, the duty on wheat stood at 24s. 8d. a quarter, and Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues demanded four months' leisure at their country abodes before they would permit the Legislature to take the distress of the people into consideration. At length came the meeting of Parliament, at which the Queen in person read the Speech prepared by her Ministers. It acknowledged with deep regret "the continued distress in the manufacturing districts," and that the sufferings and privations which had resulted from it had been "borne with exemplary patience and forbearance." Finally, her Majesty recommended to the consideration of both Houses "the laws which affect the import of corn and other articles." What was the intention of the Ministers was not then known; but it was already understood that, unlike their rivals, who had proposed a fixed duty, the new Government would attempt some modification of the sliding scale. In the account of these transactions which Sir Robert Peel left to be published by his executors after his death, he says:"One of the first acts of the Government over which I presided (the Government of August, 1841) was to propose a material change in the Corn Law of 1828. I brought the subject under the consideration of my colleagues by means of written memoranda, in preference to proposals made verbally. In the first of these memoranda I recommended my colleagues to undertake the revision of the Corn Laws of 1828, as an act of the Government. In the second, after I had procured their assent to the principle of revision, I submitted a proposal in respect to the extent to which such revision should be carried, and to the details of the new law." Then were seen the first symptoms of that estrangement from his party which reached its climax in 1846. Glaring as was the necessity for change, and evident as it was, even to the body of the landowners, that they must choose between the mild reform of Peel and the more objectionable measure of his antagonists, there were members of the Cabinet who would still have held out for no concession. The Duke of Buckingham retired from the Ministry, and the Duke of Richmond refused to allow his son to move the Address.

The next day all seemed quiet; but at evening, the men having got their Saturday's wages and their usual beer, there were some disturbances in Moorfields, and the mob abused some of the Catholics there. The next day, Sunday, the 4th, fresh crowds assembled in the same quarter, and attacked the houses and chapels of the Catholics, and this continued for the next three days. Troops were sent to quell them; but, having orders not to fire, the mob cared nothing for them. Some of the rioters took their way to Wapping and East Smithfield to destroy the Catholic chapels in that neighbourhood; and others burst into and plundered the shops and houses of Messrs. Rainsforth and Maberly, tradesmen, who had been bold enough to give evidence against the rioters taken on Friday. Another detachment took their way to Leicester Fields to ransack the house of Sir George Savile, the author of the Bill for the relaxation of the penal code against the Catholics. This they stripped and set fire to, and some of the pictures and furniture, as well as some of the effects taken from the Catholic chapels and houses in Moor fields, were paraded before the house of Lord George Gordon, in Welbeck Street, in triumph. The mob had now acquired a more desperate character. The fanatic members of the Protestant Association had retired in consternation from the work of destruction, seeing fresh elements introduced into itelements not of simple religious frenzy, but of plunder and revolutionary fury. They had begun the disturbance, and the thieves, pickpockets, burglars, and all the vilest and most demoniacal tribes of the metropolis had most heartily taken it up.