国家就是老百姓活着的理由!

[336]

About the middle of May Wellington entered Spain, leading the centre division himself, the right being commanded by General Hill, and the left by Sir Thomas Graham, the victor of Barrosa. As they advanced, the French hastily retreated towards Valladolid, thence towards Burgos; and by the 12th of June, Wellington being close on that city, they blew up the fortifications of the castle, and retreated beyond the Ebro, which they hoped to be able to defend. But Wellington left them no time to fortify themselves. On the 14th he crossed the Ebro; on the 16th he was in full march after them towards Vittoria, for they found the Ebro no defence, as they had not time to blow up the bridges. On the 16th and 17th Major-General Alten harassed their rear, and dispersed a whole brigade in the mountains, killing considerable numbers, and taking three hundred prisoners. On the 19th they found the French army, commanded by Joseph Buonaparte, with Jourdan as his second and adviser, drawn up under the walls of Vittoria. It was so placed as to command the passages of the river Zadora, and the three great roads from Madrid, Bilbao, and Logro?o. Their left extended to the heights of La Puebla, and behind this, at the village of Gomecha, was posted a reserve. The position was remarkably strong, and commanded by the hills interesting to Englishmen as those where the Black Prince, in his day, had defeated the French army at Najera, commanded by the gallant Duguesclin. Wellington took till the morning of the 21st to reconnoitre the position and to concentrate his army for the attack.[57] GREAT SEAL OF GEORGE III.

[See larger version] Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th, he sent a flag of truce to Washington, proposing a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, in order that commissioners might meet and settle the terms of surrender. They were soon arranged, and articles of surrender were signed by the respective generals on the morning of the 19th of October. But the matter was not to be thus peacefully ended. Before Lord Exmouth had cleared out of the Mediterranean, the Algerinesnot in any concert with their Government but in an impulse of pure fanaticismhad rushed down from their castle at Bona on the Christian inhabitants of the town, where a coral fishery was carried on chiefly by Italians and Sicilians, under protection of a treaty made by Britain, and under that of her flag, and committed a brutal massacre on the fishermen, and also pulled down and trampled on the British flag, and pillaged the house of the British vice-consul.

Hastings next determined to experiment on the Nabob of Oude. This Nabob, Asaph-ul-Dowlah, was an infamously dissipated prince, spending his own money in licentious pleasures, and extorting what he could from the Begums, his mother and grandmother. The old ladies lived at the palace of Fyzabad, or the "Beautiful Residence," situated in a charming district, amid hills and streams, about eighty miles from Lucknow. The Nabob's father had left them large sums of money and extensive estates, so that they kept a handsome court, and yet had the reputation of having accumulated about three million pounds sterling. The Nabob had compelled them, by coercive means, to let him have, at different times, about six hundred thousand pounds, and he thirsted exceedingly for more. Hastings determined to anticipate him. He sent for the Nabob of Oude while he was still in the fortress of Chunar, and there reminding him of his debts to the British Government, which were considerable, coolly proposed to him the robbery of his mother and grandmother. The proposal was so barefaced that, when Hastings came to make it to the Nabob, he felt that he really required some pretended reason for thus arbitrarily laying hands on the property of these innocent women, and therefore unblushingly asserted that they had been concerned in stirring up the insurrection at Benaresa matter, besides that it was so notoriously the result of Hastings' own daring arrest of Cheyte Sing, the Begums had neither motive for meddling in nor time for doing it. Till now they had regarded the British as their only protectors. They were living quietly at Fyzabad, one hundred and fifteen miles from Benares, when the insurrection broke out from very obvious causes. This infamous bargain being concluded at Chunar, Hastings relying on his agent at Lucknow, Mr. Middleton, compelling the Nabob to carry it out, retreated to Benares, and thence to Calcutta. The Nabob returned to Lucknow to enforce the diabolical scheme; but he found his mother and grandmother determined to resist the iniquitous order, and so shameful was it that even the needy and debauched Nabob felt[335] compunctions in proceeding with it. He left it to Middleton to execute it, but Middleton, in his turn, recoiled from the odious business. Not so Hastings; cold and resolute, he wrote to Middleton, that if he could not rely upon his firmness he would free him from his charge, and himself proceed to Lucknow and enforce his own orders. To induce Middleton to abandon his scruples of conscience and honour, the ever-ready friend of Hastings, the Chief Justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey, it appears, wrote to Middleton, and inculcated the necessity of obedience. Middleton and the Nabob, therefore, seized on the estates of the Begums, and suddenly surrounded Fyzabad and the palace with troops, and made themselves masters of both. But the old ladies had not been so inattentive to the approaches of the storm as to neglect the hiding of their treasures; they could not be found. Thus cruelly disappointed of the expected hoard, and the Begums remaining firm in their refusal to produce any part of it, Middleton seized on their two chief ministers, the eunuchs, Jewar Ali Khan and Behar Ali Khan. They were now thrown into prison, put in irons, and orders were given to starve and torture them till they revealed the secret of the concealment of the treasure of their mistresses. At the same time, the two ladies were placed in rigorous confinement themselves. This system was continued till they had extorted upwards of a million sterling from the Begums, and found that they might kill both them and their aged ministers, but could get no more. When the Begums and the two old men were liberated, they were told by the Residentnot now Middleton, but Bristowthat they owed this favour to the Governor-General, who had determined to have them "restored to their dignity and honour." There was another name connected with these events, and with almost equal disadvantage, that of Sir Elijah Impey, the Chief Justice. Impey, who had no jurisdiction in Oude, was found up there in the midst of these transactions, volunteering his assistance in getting up charges against the Begums. These charges were supported by a host of venal witnesses, and affidavits of their evidence were made out, and sent down to Calcutta, to justify the dark doings of Hastings.

It was not to be wondered at that when, on the 24th of January, the preliminaries of peace were laid on the tables of the two Houses, there should be a violent denunciation of the large concessions made by Ministers. Spain had been granted better terms than in any treaty since that of St. Quentin. She had obtained the most desirable island of Minorca, with the finest port on the Mediterranean. She had got the Floridas, and had given up scarcely anything, whilst, had the British, now freed from the dead weight of America, pursued the war against her, she must soon have lost most of her valuable insular colonies. France had given up more, but she recovered very important territories which she had lost, and especially her settlements of Pondicherry and Chandernagore, in the East Indies; but America had conceded nothing, and yet had been allowed to determine her own frontier, and to share the benefits of the fishing all round our own Transatlantic coasts.

The Ministers and their supporters were complimentary, as a matter of course, to the new Sovereign, who had graciously continued them in their offices; and the Whigs, who had ascribed their exclusion from power to the personal dislike of the king, were resolved that there should not be again any obstacle of the kind, and that they would keep upon the best possible terms with the Court. During the previous part of the Session they had kept up a rapid fire of motions and questions upon the Government, especially with regard to the public expenditure, the distress of the operatives, and the necessity of rigid economy and large retrenchment. The attacks were led by Sir James Graham, who, though he was always left in a minority in the divisions on his motions, did much to weaken the Government by exciting public feeling against them on the ground of their alleged heartless extravagance, while many of the people were starving and the country was said to be going fast to destruction. The Duke of Wellington, however, moved an answer to the Royal Message, declaring that they would forward the measure necessary to provide for the temporary supply required. He suggested that as everybody would be occupied about the coming elections, the best mode of proceeding would be to dissolve at once. Lord Grey, in the name of the Opposition, complained of this precipitancy, and delivered a long speech full of solemn warnings of evil. He supposed that the king might die before the new Parliament was chosen; the Heir Apparent was[313] a child in fact, though not in law. No regency existing, she would be legally in the possession of her full regal power, and this was a situation which he contended would be fraught with danger. A long, unprofitable wrangle ensued, dull repetitions dragged out the debate, when at length the Duke wisely refused to accede to the proposition for a useless interval of delay, and proved the numerical strength of the Administration. Lord Grey having moved for an adjournment to allow time for providing a regency, the motion was lost by a majority of 44, the numbers being 56 against 100.

But in October the patriots of Breda surprised the forts of Lillo and Liefkenshoek, on the Scheldt. Dalton dispatched General Schr?der with a strong force, who retook the forts; but on Schr?der's venturing to enter Turnhout after the insurgents, a body of three thousand of them, under Van der Mersch, armed with pitchforks, bludgeons, and staves, attacked and drove him out. General Bender, who had been dispatched against the insurgents at Tirlemont, was driven out in the same manner. General Arberg was compelled to retreat behind the Scheldt, and the people were victorious in Louvain, Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, and most towns of the district. Both Joseph and his Governor and Commander in the Netherlands now fell into the utmost alarm. The news which Marie Antoinette sent from Paris to her Imperial brother only rendered this consternation the greater. Joseph, with that sudden revulsion which he had manifested on other occasions, after equally astonishing rashness, now issued a conciliatory proclamation, offering to redress all grievances on the condition of the Netherlanders laying down their arms. But they were not likely, after former experience, to trust any such promises of Joseph. On the 20th of November the States of Flanders assumed the title of the High and Mighty States; they declared the Emperor to have forfeited the Crown by tyranny and injustice; they proclaimed their entire independence, and ordered a levy of twenty thousand men.

On the 6th of May Lord Pelham communicated to the Lords, and Mr. Addington to the Commons, another message from his Majesty, informing them that he had ordered Lord Whitworth, our Ambassador, to quit Paris immediately, unless he saw a prospect of closing the negotiations with the First Consul within a certain date; and that M. Andreossi, the French Ambassador, had applied for his passport, in order to quit London when Lord Whitworth should quit Paris. In consequence of the uncertainty of the result there was an adjournment, and then a second; but on the 16th of May all suspense was terminated by the announcement of Ministers that Lord Whitworth had quitted Paris, and M. Andreossi London. The papers which had passed between this Government and France, in the late negotiations, were ordered to be produced, and an Order in Council was issued, directing reprisals to be granted against the ships, goods, and subjects of the French Republic, and also for an embargo not only on all French ships in British ports, but on all Dutch vessels, and vessels of any Power under the military rule of France. Britain was once more at war. On the 17th of June the king announced, by message, that, in consequence of the Batavian Republic refusing to order the French troops to quit Hollandwhich, indeed, would have paid no attention to such ordershe had recalled his Ambassador from the Hague and had issued letters of marque and reprisals against that Republic. Thus, we were also at war with Holland. At the same time a demand was made for a grant of sixty thousand pounds, and a pension of sixteen thousand pounds per annum to the Prince of Orange, the ex-Stadtholder, on the plea that he was an exile and destitute; and the grant was voted. Parliament was now daily occupied in passing fresh measures for the defence of the country. It was voted, on the 20th of June, that a reserve army of fifty thousand should be raised by ballot, like the militia; and, indeed, it was no other than the extension of the militia: for during the war this division was to serve only in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. On the 18th of July it was proposed to pass a Bill[489] enabling his Majesty to raise a levy en masse in case of invasion. Pitt strongly supported it, and proposed fresh fortifications on the coasts.

On the 15th the British squadron brought in the Emigrant troops from the Elbe, under the young and gallant Count de Sombreuil; but they amounted only to eleven thousand men. Puisaye now ordered the Count de Vauban to advance against Hoche with twelve thousand Chouans, and, whilst they attacked on the right, he himself attacked his lines in front. After some desperate fighting they were driven back, and lost most of their cannon in the deep sand of the isthmus. Their misfortunes were completed, on the 20th, by the garrison of the fort of Penthivre going over to the enemy, surrendering the fort to them, and helping to massacre such of their officers and comrades as refused to follow their example. The English admiral exerted himself to receive the remainder of the troops who remained true on board his ships; but the storminess of the weather and the impatience of the fugitives rendered this a most difficult task. About fourteen thousand regulars and two thousand four hundred Chouans were got on board; but Sombreuil, exposed to the murderous fire from the enemy whilst waiting on the beach, surrendered on promise of life. No sooner, however, were they in the hands of the Republicans than all the officers and gentlemen were led out and shot; and the common men enrolled in Hoche's regiments.