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The Session promised for some weeks to be very dull; no subjects more stirring being brought forward or announced than the settlement of the Civil List, the discharge of insolvent debtors, the suppression of Sunday newspapers, and the reading of the Athanasian Creed. To one of those subjects, the Civil List, Lord Eldon thus jocosely alluded in a letter to his daughter:"Our royal master seems to have got into temper again, as far as I could judge from his conversation with me this morning. He has been pretty well disposed to part with us all, because we would not make additions to his revenue. This we thought conscientiously we could not do in the present state of the country, and of the distresses of the middle and lower orders of the people. To which we might add, too, that of the higher orders."

The news of these imposts, and of this intended stamp duty, flew across the Atlantic, and produced the most bitter excitement. Never could this unwelcome news have reached the colonies at a more unpropitious moment. To restrictions on their legitimate trade, the British had been adding others on their illegitimate trade. Nearly all the American colonies lay on the seaboard, and were, therefore, naturally addicted to a free sort of trade, which these new duties made contraband. The British Government had sent out a number of revenue ships and officers to cut off this trade, and capture and confiscate all vessels found practising it. The colonists met in various places, and passed very strong resolutions against these regulations. The people of New England spread their views and resolves all over the colonies by means of the press. They refused to listen to any overtures of the British Government on the subject. They claimed the right to grant, of their own free will, such contributions to the revenue of the empire as their own assemblies should deem just, and to submit to no compulsion where they had no voice. They called on all the colonists to refrain as much as possible from purchasing any of the manufactures of England so long as she showed a disposition to oppress them, and to obtain their materials for clothing from other countries, or to begin to manufacture them themselves; and to cease also to use all luxuries on which the duties were laid. To make their case known in England, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Georgia appointed the celebrated Benjamin Franklin their agent in London.

From the 24th of September till the commencement of October Buonaparte continued to maintain himself at Dresden, though the Allies were fast gathering round him. Occasionally he made a rush from the city, and on one occasion pursued Blucher as far as Nollendorf, beyond Kulm; but these expeditions only served to exhaust his troops, without producing any effect on the enemy. As he chased one body on one side, others were closing up on other sides. Seeing that he could not remain long at Dresden, and that Bernadotte and Bülow had quitted the neighbourhood of Berlin, he suddenly conceived the design of marching rapidly on that city, and taking up his headquarters there; but this scheme met with universal disapprobation from his officers, and he was compelled to abandon it. He then continued for days, and even weeks, in a state of listless apathy, for hours together mechanically making large letters on sheets of paper, or debating some new schemes with his generals; but the only scheme to which they would listen was that of retreating to the left bank of the Rhine. In fact, they and the army were completely worn out and dispirited. When Parliament reassembled, after the Christmas recess, the great question of economical reform took the first place in its deliberations. The great Yorkshire petition was introduced on the 8th of February by Sir George Savile, who, as the forms of the House then allowed, made a speech on its presentation. He was a small, weakly man, but of the most upright character, and was listened to with the highest respect. On the 11th Burke rose to bring forward his extensive scheme of retrenchment and reform. It was a scheme of reforms so vast and multiform as to require five Bills to include them. It dealt with the sale of the Crown lands; the abolition of the separate jurisdictions of the Principality of Wales, the Duchies of Cornwall, Chester, and Lancaster; of the Court offices of Treasurer, Comptroller, Cofferer, Keeper of the Stag, Buck, and Fox Hounds, of the Wardrobe, Robes, Jewels, etc.; of the recently-instituted office of Third Secretary of State; the reduction and simplification of offices in the Ordnance and Mint departments; the Patent Office of the Exchequer; the regulation of the pay offices of the army, navy, and of pensioners; and, finally, the Civil List. Such a host of corrupt interests was assailed by this wholesale scheme, that it was certain to receive a very determined opposition; and it might have been supposed that it would be encountered by the most rabid rage. But not so. The great tribe whose interests were affected were too adroit strategists for that; they were too well assured that, being legion, and all knit up together from the Crown downwards, embracing every branch of the aristocracy, they were safe, and might, therefore, listen to the fervid eloquence of the poetic Irishman, as they would to a tragedy that did not affect them further than their amusement was concerned. Lord North very soon managed to put the Principality and the Duchies out of the range of his inquiries. He declared that nobody was more zealous for a permanent system of economy than he was; but then, unfortunately, the king's[264] patrimonial revenue was concerned in these Duchies, and therefore he must be first consulted; and, what was still more embarrassing was, that these proposals affected the rights of the Prince of Wales, and therefore could not be mooted till he was of age; so that branch of the inquiry was lopped off, under the gentle phrase of postponement. When the discussion reached the reform of the king's household, Burke was compelled to admit that a former attempt to reform this lavish yet penurious household by Lord Talbot, had been suddenly stopped, because, forsooth, it would endanger the situation of an honourable member who was turnspit in the kitchen! The end of it was, that though all expressed themselves as delighted and as acquiescent, almost every detail was thrown out in committee. The only point carried was that which abolished the Board of Trade, by a majority, however, of only eight. The Board of Trade was ere long restored again. The other portions of Burke's great scheme occupied the House through March, April, and May, and then was got rid of by a man?uvre in the committee, Burke declaring that he would bring the measure forward again next session.

Mr. Torres, ditto 3,300 Still, Fox took the opportunity to sound the French Government as to the possibility of peace. In a correspondence with Talleyrand he said that Britain would be willing to treat on reasonable terms, the first condition of which was that the Emperor Alexander should be admitted to the treaty. This was at once refused; yet Fox did not give up the attempt, and at length the French Government proposed that a British ambassador should go to Paris, to endeavour to arrange the principles of an agreement. Fox complied. Before a British plenipotentiary was[518] permitted to proceed to Paris, the great points of the negotiation should have been brought forward, and it should have been seen whether there was a probability of agreeing. It should have been understood whether Buonaparte was disposed to surrender Naples again, which Britain demanded; to require the retirement of the Prussians from Hanover, even if nothing was said of Holland and Switzerland. To send a plenipotentiary without having ascertained these points was simply to enable Buonaparte to boast that he had sought to conciliate, and that British rapacity and ambition rendered all his overtures useless. This was exactly what occurred. Lord Yarmouth, late Marquis of Hertford, who had been residing for years in France as one of Buonaparte's dtenus at the Peace of Amiens, was first sent. Lord Yarmouth arrived in Paris towards the end of May, and though it had been settled that the negotiations should, for the present, remain secret, the French had taken care to make every Court in Europe well acquainted with the fact. Then one of the very first demandshaving got the ambassador therewas for the recognition, not only of Buonaparte as emperor, but also of all his family as princes and princesses of the blood. Next they came to the surrender of Naples, but Talleyrand assured Lord Yarmouth that the Emperor, so far from giving up Naples, or any part of Italy, must have Sicily, which was in possession of the British, because Joseph Buonaparte, now made King of Naples, declared that it could not be held without Sicily. France, Talleyrand said, would consent to Britain holding Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, which we had taken again, and would not only restore Hanover to us, but also allow us to seize on the Hanse Towns and Hamburg! We were in fact, to be permitted to set up for marauders, like themselves, and invade neutral States, and appropriate them; but, as for Naples or Sicily being restored, that was impossible. Lord Yarmouth also demanded that Dalmatia, Istria, and Albania should be restored, the last to the Turks, whose empire should regain its entirety. These points were equally resisted. Meanwhile, Prussia had taken the alarm about Hanover, and Russia, fearful of our treating without her, sent to Paris Count d'Oubril. Talleyrand managed to excite jealousies between the British and Russian envoys, to such a degree, that d'Oubril quitted Paris hastily, and returned to St. Petersburg. Instead of peace, the elements of new heartburnings and wars every day developed themselves. Finding that Lord Yarmouth did not succeed. Fox sent over the Earl of Lauderdale, but he got on no better. Buonaparte insisted that Sicily should be given up to Naples, and a little mock monarchy should be created for Ferdinand, the ex-king, in the Balearic Isles, which were to be taken unceremoniously from Spain. Lord Lauderdale, after a month's waste of words, demanded his passports, and returned; and Fox had now had ample proof that no peace was to be effected with Napoleon, except upon the terms of leaving the Continent to his dictation. No sooner, therefore, had the Parliament closed and the king set out to Hanover, than Ministers sent off William Stanhope to Madrid to procure a treaty of peace without any mention of Gibraltar. On arriving at Madrid he found that the Court had removed to Seville, in Andalusia. This had been done by the influence of the queen, in order to draw Philip from the Council of Castile, which was doing all it could to prevail on him again to abdicate. Stanhope followed the Court to Seville, and laboured with such effect that he obtained the signing of a treaty of defensive alliance between England, Spain, and France, to which Holland afterwards acceded (November 9, 1729). By this treaty Spain revoked all the privileges granted to Austria by the treaties of Vienna, and re-established the British trade with her American colonies on its former footing, restored all captures, and made compensation for losses. The Assiento was confirmed to the South Sea Company. Commissioners were appointed to adjust all claims of Spaniards for ships taken in 1718, and to settle the limits of the American trade. The succession of Don Carlos to Parma and Tuscany was recognised, with the right to garrison the ports of Leghorn, Porto Ferrajo, Parma, and Placentia with six thousand Spanish troops. Not a word was said of Gibraltara silence amounting to a renunciation of its demand by Spain; and that Philip regarded it as such was evidenced by his[60] beginning to construct the strong lines of San Roque, and thus to cut off all communication with the obnoxious fortress by land.


Whilst these frightful horrors were taking place, Russia, Prussia, and Austria had been completing the extinction of Poland. An ill-advised attempt by the Poles for the recovery of their country had precipitated this event. The Russian Minister in Poland had ordered the reduction of the little army of that country, under its now almost nominal king, Stanislaus Augustus, from thirty thousand to fifteen thousand. The Poles resented this, without considering that they were unable, at the moment, to resist it. Kosciusko was appointed Commander-in-Chief, and he issued an order for the rising of the people in every quarter of Poland, and for their hastening to his flag. At first, the enthusiasm of the call to liberty and to the rescue of the common country gave some brilliant successes. Kosciusko, on his march from Cracow to Warsaw, at the head of only four thousand men, encountered a Russian army of upwards of twelve thousand, and defeated it with a slaughter of three thousand of the enemy. On the 17th of March, 1794, the Polish troops in Warsaw attacked the Russian garrison, eight thousand strong, and slaughtering more than half of them, drove the rest out of the city, and Kosciusko marched in soon afterwards. A week later the population of Lithuania, Kosciusko's native province, rose, and drove the Russians with much slaughter from Wilna, its capital. But this could not save Poland: its three mighty oppressors were pouring down their multitudinous legions on every portion of the doomed country. The Emperor of Austria marched an army into Little Poland at the end of June, and an army of fifty thousand Russians and Prussians was in full march on Warsaw. For a time, Kosciusko repulsed them, and committed great havoc upon them on the 27th of July; again, on the 1st and 3rd of August. At the same time, Generals Dombrowski, Prince Joseph Poniatowski, and other Polish generals, were victorious in different quarters, and the King of Prussia was compelled to draw off his army, forty thousand strong, from Warsaw, in order to recover Great Poland. This gleam of success on the part of the Poles, however, was but momentary. Their army in Lithuania, commanded by corrupt, gambling, and gormandising nobles, was beaten at all points by the Russians, and driven out of Wilna on the 12th of August. At the same time, the savage Suvaroff, the man who had cried "Glory to God and the Empress!" over the ruthless massacre of Ismail, was marching down on Warsaw. Kosciusko had unwisely weakened his army by sending a strong detachment under Dombrowski into Great Poland, and, attacking a Russian force under Count Fersen, at Macziewice, about fifty miles from Warsaw, on the 17th of September, he was utterly routed. He had only about twenty thousand men, whilst Fersen had at least sixty thousand. But Kosciusko was anxious to prevent the arrival of Suvaroff before the engagement, and thus rushed into battle with this fatal inequality of strength. He was left for dead on the field, but was discovered to be alive, and was sent prisoner to St. Petersburg, where he was confined till the accession of the Emperor Paul, who set him at liberty. The fall of Kosciusko was the fall of Poland. Not even Kosciusko could have saved it; but this catastrophe made the fatal end obvious and speedy. Still the Poles struggled on bravely against such overwhelming forces for some months. The ultimate partition treaty was at length signed on the 24th of October, 1795; some particulars regarding Cracow, however, not being settled between Prussia and Austria till the 21st of October, 1796. Stanislaus Augustus was compelled to abdicate, and he retired, after the death of Catherine, to St. Petersburg, with a pension of two hundred thousand ducats a year. He died there in the month of February, 1798, only about fifteen months after his former mistress, the Czarina. And thus Poland was blotted out of the map of nations.


On the opening of Parliament, in January, 1738, a desperate effort was made by the Opposition at once to reduce the army and to kindle a war with Spain. Walpole proposed to place the army on a footing of seventeen thousand men. The "Patriots," as they were called, voted to reduce the number to twelve thousand. Walpole, exasperated at their factious conduct, launched an indignant sarcasm at them, which produced so much effect that they did not venture to divide on the motion. "No man of common sense," said Walpole, "will now profess himself openly a Jacobite; by so doing he not only may injure his private fortune, but must render himself less able to do any effectual service to the cause he has embraced; therefore there are but few such men in the kingdom. Your right Jacobite, sir, disguises his true sentiments. He roars out for revolutionary principles; he pretends to be a great friend to liberty and a great admirer of our ancient Constitution; and under this pretence there are numbers who every day endeavour to sow discontent among the people."

Sir John marched out of Edinburgh for the north on the very day that the standard of the Stuarts was erected in Glenfinnan, the 19th of August. On the following day he continued his route from Stirling, accompanied by one thousand five hundred foot, leaving, very properly, the dragoons behind him, as of no service in the mountains, nor capable of finding forage there. He then continued his march towards Fort Augustus, which he hoped to make the centre of his operations, and then to strike a sudden and annihilating blow on the handful of rebels. At Dalwhinnie he heard that the rebels now mustered six thousand, and that they meant to dispute the pass of Corriarrick, lying directly in the line of his march towards Fort Augustus. This Corriarrick had been made passable by one of General Wade's roads, constructed after the rebellion of 1715, to lay open the Highlands. The road wound up the mountain by seventeen zig-zags or traverses, and down the other side by others, called by the Highlanders the Devil's Staircase. Three hundred men were capable, much more three thousand, of stopping an army in such a situation, and Cope called a council of war. At length it was agreed that they should take a side route, and endeavour to reach Inverness and Fort George. The resolve was a fatal one, for it gave the appearance of a flight to the army, and left the road open to Stirling and the Lowlands.

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