“碧海2020”海洋生态环境保护专项执法行动展开

THE OVERLAND ROUTE: SCENE AT BOULAK.

The Duke had little to console him in connection with the general election. In passing the Emancipation Act he had made great sacrifices, and had converted many of his most devoted friends into bitter enemies. The least that he could expect was that the great boon which it cost him so much to procure for the Roman Catholics of Ireland would have brought him some return of gratitude and some amount of political support in that country. But hitherto the Emancipation Act had failed in tranquillising the country. On the contrary, its distracted state pointed the arguments of the Tories on the hustings during the Irish elections. O'Connell, instead of returning to the quiet pursuit of his profession, was agitating for Repeal of the union, and reviling the British Government as bitterly as ever. He got up new associations with different names as fast as the Lord-Lieutenant could proclaim them, and he appealed to the example of the French and Belgian revolutions as encouraging Ireland to agitate for national independence. In consequence of his agitation many Ministerial seats in Ireland were transferred to the most violent of his followers. During these conflicts with the Government Mr. O'Connell was challenged by Sir Henry Hardinge, in consequence of offensive language used by him about that gentleman, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland. Mr. O'Connell declined the combat, on the ground that he had a "vow registered in heaven" never again to fight a duel, in consequence of his having shot Mr. D'Esterre. This "affair of honour" drew upon him from some quarters very severe censure.

The active mind, strong will, and philanthropic spirit of Mr. Stanley, now transferred from Ireland to the Colonial Secretaryship, found an important field for their exercise in the Colonial Office. He applied his energies to the abolition of negro slavery in the West Indies, and was happily more successful in that work than in his attempt to tranquillise Ireland. The time had arrived when the labours on behalf of the negro race, of Clarkson, Wilberforce, Mackintosh, Brougham, Buxton, Lushington, and William Smith were to be followed with success, by the abolition of slavery in the British West Indian colonies. The Society of Friends, as became that philanthropic body, led the van in the movement which began in 1823, when Wilberforce presented a petition from them in the House of Commons. Soon afterwards, when Mr. Buxton brought forward a resolution condemning slavery as repugnant to Christianity and to the British Constitution, Mr. Canning moved a counter-resolution as an amendment, recommending reforms in the system, which, he alleged, might be safely left to the West Indian Assemblies; and if they refused to do their duty, the Imperial Parliament might then interfere. These resolutions were carried, although any one acquainted with the history of the West Indies might have known that they would be perfectly futile. No amelioration of the system could be rationally expected from the reckless adventurers and mercenary agents by whom many West Indian plantations were managed. The infamous cruelty of which the missionary Smith had been the victim showed that, while the colonial laws allowed the most horrible atrocities, there existed among the planters a spirit of brutality which did not shrink from their perpetration. Time was when such barbarities might have escaped with impunity; when in Great Britain it was maintained in high places, and even by the legislature, that slavery was defended by an impregnable fortress, that property in human flesh was not only expedient for the good of the commonwealth, and beneficial for the negro, but also a sacred institution, founded on the authority of the Bible. But, thanks to the indefatigable labours of the friends of the negro race, such abominable dogmas had been long reprobated by public opinion, and at the period now referred to no man ventured to promulgate such heresies in England. The moral sense of the nation had condemned slavery in every form. The missionaries had, in the midst of tremendous difficulties and cruel persecutions, enlightened the West Indian slaves with regard to their rights as men and their privileges as Christians; and while they inculcated patience and meek submission even to unjust laws, they animated their crushed hearts with the hope that the blessings of liberty would soon be enjoyed by them, and that humanity and justice would speedily triumph over the ruthless tyranny under which they groaned.

At this period, both the grand old styles of architecture, the Gothic for ecclesiastical buildings, and the Tudor and Elizabethan for palaces and mansions, had, for a time, run their course. A classical or Italian fashion had come in, and the picturesque churches and halls of our ancestors were deemed barbarous. Inigo Jones had introduced the semi-classical style, and now Sir Christopher Wren and Vanbrugh arose to render it predominant. Wren had the most extraordinary opportunity for distinguishing himself. The fire of London had swept away a capital, and to him was assigned the task of restoring it. Wren (b. 1632; d. 1723) was descended from a clerical family. In 1651 he was appointed to the chair of astronomy at Gresham College; three years afterwards to that of the Savilian professor at Oxford. In 1661 he was appointed by Charles II. to assist Sir John Denham, the surveyor-general, and in 1663 he was commissioned to examine the old cathedral of St. Paul, with a view to its restoration in keeping with the Corinthian colonnade which Inigo Jones had, with a strange blindness to unity, tagged on to a Gothic church. The old church was found to be so thoroughly dilapidated, that Wren recommended its entire removal and the erection of another. This created a terrible outcry amongst the clergy and citizens, who regarded the old fabric as a model of beauty.

[413] Another French fleet, under Admiral Willaumez, left Brest at the same time with that of Lessigues, bound for the Cape of Good Hope, to assist the Dutch troops in defending it. The British, however, having taken it before his arrival, he went cruising about and picking up such stray British merchantmen as he could meet with between the continents of Africa and South America. He then stood away for the West Indies, hoping to be able to destroy the British shipping in the ports of Barbadoes. Failing in that, he made for Martinique, which was still in the possession of the French. Willaumez had but six sail of the line, and the English admirals, Sir John Borlase Warren, who had the same number and a frigate, and Sir Richard Strachan, who had seven sail of the line and two frigates, were in eager quest of him. Meanwhile, Willaumez was attacked by a terrible tempest, and then chased by Strachan in the Chesapeake. Of his six ships of the line he took home only two, and was obliged to burn the British merchantmen that he had taken.

To reach the enemy the British had to cross the river, and that by a single bridge. This was commanded by the American artillery, and it might have been expected that it would not be easily carried; but, on the contrary, a light brigade swept over it, in face of the cannon, followed by the rest of the army; and the troops deploying right and left the moment they were over, this single divisionabout one thousand six hundred strongrouted the whole American force before the remainder of the British could come into action. Few of the Americans waited to be killed or wounded. Madison had the mortification to see his army all flying in precipitation, and the city open to the British.

The other measures of Parliament during this Session were these:In the House of Lords Lord Holland, and in the Commons Henry Brougham, moved for addresses to his Majesty, exhorting him to persevere in his efforts to induce the Governments of other nations to co-operate in the abolition of the slave trade, and to take measures for putting a stop to the clandestine practice of British subjects yet carrying on this trade in a fraudulent manner, as well as to adopt plans for preventing other evasions of Mr. Wilberforce's Act. Mr. Bankes introduced a motion for rendering perpetual his Bill to prevent the grant of offices in reversion, and such a Bill was passed in the Commons, but rejected in the Lords.

GEORGE CANNING.

The South Sea Company had immediately on the passing of the Bill proposed a subscription of one million, and this was so eagerly seized on that, instead of one, two millions were subscribed. To stimulate this already too feverish spirit in the public, the Company adopted the most false and unjustifiable means. They had eight millions and a half to pay over to Government as a douceur for granting them the management of the Funds; and, therefore, to bring this in rapidly, they propagated the most lying rumours. It was industriously circulated that Lord Stanhope had received overtures at Paris to exchange Gibraltar and Port Mahon for invaluable gold lands in Peru! The South Sea trade was vaunted as a source of boundless wealth in itself. In August the stock had risen from the one hundred and thirty of the last winter to one thousand! Men sold houses and land to become shareholders; merchants of eminence neglected their affairs and crippled their resources to reap imaginary profits. The Company flattered the delusion to the utmost. They opened a third, and even a fourth subscription, larger than the former, and passed a resolution that from next Christmas their yearly dividend should not be less than fifty per cent.! In labouring to increase the public delusion they seem to have caught the contagion themselves, for they began to act, not like men who were blowing a bubble which they knew must speedily burst, but like persons who had mounted permanently into the very highest seat of prosperous power. They assumed the most arrogant and overbearing manner, even towards men of the highest station and influence. "We have made them kings," said a member of Parliament, "and they deal with everybody as such."