“赔钱式”维权推动法治观念

Lord Goderich acted with great humility. In a letter to the Duke of Buckingham, shortly after his resignation, he expressed his willingness to serve under the Duke of Wellington, though it might certainly be a matter of doubt with him how far, in existing circumstances, he could with credit accept office. But as the Government was to rest upon a broad basis, and was not to oppose the principles he had always advocated, he was ready to consider favourably any offer that might be made to him. The task which Wellington had undertaken was a most[262] difficult one, considering the nature of the questions that agitated the public mind, and the course which he had adopted in reference to them. The new Government was announced on the 25th of January. It retained several members of the Goderich Ministrynamely, Lord Dudley, Mr. Huskisson, and Mr. Herries. The Duke of Wellington was Premier, Mr. Goulburn Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Aberdeen Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Lord Ellenborough Privy Seal. Mr. Canning's widow was created a viscountess, with a grant of 6,000 a year, to be enjoyed after her death by her eldest son, and, in case of his death, by her second son. The former was in the navy, and perished accidentally soon after his father's death. The second son, to whom the family honours descended, was the Governor-General of India during the most memorable crisis in the history of that empire. The grant was opposed by Lord Althorp, Mr. Hume, and Mr. Banks, but was carried by a majority of 161 to 54. When the Bourbons had entered Paris in 1814 they had shown the utmost liberality towards those who had driven them from France and had murdered those of their family on the throne and nearest to it. They did not imitate the summary vengeance of Napoleon, whose Government, in 1812, had put to death not only General Mallet, who had endeavoured to restore the Bourbons, but also thirteen of his accomplices, on the plain of Grenelle. When Louis XVIII. returned, there were numbers of the bloody Revolutionists who had voted for, and some who had acted in, the frightful atrocities of the Revolutionmany who had urged on the sufferings, the indignities, and the death of Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette, the Princess Elizabeth, the Princess Lamballe, and the worst form of death of the unhappy Dauphin. Yet no vengeance was taken, and numbers of these people were allowed to reside unharmed in Paris. Having been now again driven forth, and seen the readiness with which those who had sworn to maintain their Government had taken their oaths and betrayed them, it might have been expected that there would have been some severe punishments. But the natural mildness of Louis XVIII., and the wise counsels of Wellington and Talleyrand, produced a very different scene. Never, after such provocations, and especially to the sensitive natures of Frenchmen, was so much lenity shown. In the proclamation of Louis XVIII. of the 24th of July, nineteen persons only were ordered for trial, and thirty-eight were ordered to quit Paris, and to reside in particular parts of France, under the observation of the police, till their fate should be decided by the Chambers. Of the nineteen threatened with capital punishment, with trial before a military tribunal, only Ney and Labdoyre suffered; another, Lavalette, was condemned, but escaped by changing dresses with his wife in prison. It was also stated that such individuals as should be condemned to exile should be allowed to sell their property in France, and carry the proceeds with them. Yet more clamour was raised by the Buonapartists about the deaths of Ney and Labdoyre than had been made in any executions by the Imperial or the Revolutionary parties over whole hecatombs of innocent persons. As for Ney and Labdoyre, their treason had been so barefaced and outrageous that no reasonable person could expect anything but summary punishment for them. Ney had declared to Louis XVIII. that he would bring Buonaparte to him in a cage, and then carried over his whole army at once to the Emperor. Labdoyre had been equally perjured after the most generous forgiveness of his former treasons, and he had been particularly active in stimulating the Parisians to make a useless resistance to the Allies approaching Paris, by stating that the Bourbons were preparing a most sanguinary proscription. Both officers knew that they had no hope of life, no plea of protection, and they fled in disguise. Yet vehement reproaches were cast on the Duke of Wellington for having, as the Buonapartists asserted, broken the 12th article of the Convention of Paris, by which the city was surrendered to the Allied armies. Madame Ney, after the seizure and condemnation of her husband, went to the Duke, and demanded his interference on the Marshal's behalf, as a right on the ground of this article, which she interpreted as guaranteeing all the inhabitants, of whatever political creed or conduct, from prosecution by the restored Government. It was in vain that Wellington explained to her that this article, and indeed the whole Convention, related solely to the military surrender, and not to the political measures of the Government of Louis, with which the Duke had[115] publicly and repeatedly declared that he had no concern, and in which he would not interfere. When the Commissioners from the Provisional Government had waited on him, so early as the 2nd of July, at Estres, and claimed exemption for political offenders, he showed them the proclamation of Louis, dated Cambray, the 28th of June, making exceptions to the general amnesty, and distinctly told them that he had no orders to interfere with the measures of the Bourbon Government. To this the Commissioners had nothing to object, and they thus clearly understood that the British commander would not take any part in political, but merely in military measures. Nevertheless, when Ney was executed, the clamour was renewed that Wellington had betrayed him. We now anticipate, somewhat, to dispose of this calumny, for there never was a party so recklessly addicted to charging their enemies with breach of faith as that of Buonaparte and his followers. The foul charge was so industriously disseminated over Europe, that Wellington, at Paris, on the 19th of November, 1815, issued a memorial on the subject, which he first caused to be sent to all the Allied Powers and then to be published. In this most decisive document he stated that the Convention of Paris related exclusively to the military occupation of the place, and was never intended, and could not be intended, to prevent either the existing French Government, the Provisional, or any French Government that might succeed it, from acting towards political offenders as it might deem proper. He had refused before to enter into a question of settling the Government. To make this clear, he quoted the 11th article, providing for the non-interference of the Allied army with property; and the 12th:"Seront pareillement respectes les personnes et les proprits particulires; les habitants, et en gnral tous les individus qui se trouvent dans la capitale, continueront jouir de leur droits et liberts sans pouvoir tre inquits, ou recherchs en rein, relativement aux fonctions qu'ils occupent ou avaient occupes, leur conduite, et leur opinions politiques." Labdoyre was shot on the 19th of August, 1815, and Ney on the 7th of December.

The disorganised state of Ireland, occasioned by the famine and the enormous system of public relief which fostered idleness and destroyed the customary social restraints that kept the people in order, naturally led to much outrage and crime in that country. At the close of the ordinary Session of 1847, the Parliament, which had existed six years, was dissolved. The general election excited very little political interest, the minds of all parties being concentrated upon the terrible famine in Ireland, and the means necessary to mitigate its effects. The first Session of the new Parliament commenced on the 18th of November. Mr. Shaw-Lefevre was re-elected Speaker without opposition, some leading Conservatives expressing their admiration of the impartiality and dignity with which he had presided over the deliberations of the House. The Royal Speech was delivered by commission. It lamented that in some counties in Ireland atrocious crimes had been committed, and a spirit of insubordination had manifested itself, leading to an organised resistance to legal rights. Parliament was therefore requested to take further precautions against the perpetration of crime in that country; at the same time recommending the consideration of measures that would advance the social improvement of its people. In the course of the debate on the Address the state of Ireland was the subject of much discussion; and on the 29th of November Sir George Grey, then Home Secretary, brought in a Bill for this purpose. In doing so, he gave a full exposition of the disorganised state of the country. He showed that "the number of attempts on life by firing at the person, which was, in six months of 1846, 55, was in the same six months of 1847, 126; the number of robberies of arms, which was, in six months of 1846, 207, in the same six months of 1847 was 530; and the number of firings of dwellings, which in six months of 1846 was 51, was, in the same six months of 1847, 116. Even this statement gave an inadequate idea of the increase of those offences in districts which were now particularly infested by crime. The total number of offences of the three classes which he had just mentioned amounted, in the last month, to 195 in the whole of Ireland; but the counties of Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary furnished 139 of themthe extent of offences in those counties being 71 per cent. on the total of offences in Ireland, and the population being only 13 per cent. on the whole population of Ireland." It was principally to those counties that his observations applied; but as the tendency of crime was to spread, they must be applied in some degree also to King's County, Roscommon, and part of Fermanagh. The crimes which he wished to repress were not directed against the landlord class alone, but against every class and description of landowners. Their ordinary object was the commission of wilful and deliberate assassination, not in dark or desolate places, but in broad daylightof assassination, too, encouraged by the entire impunity with which it was perpetrated; for it was notorious that none but the police would lend a hand to arrest the flight, or capture the person, of the assassin.

Before these discussions took place, an attempt had been made by similar means to lead the people of Scotland into insurrection. Emissaries appeared in the towns and villages informing the people that there were preparations made for a general rising, and they were ordered to cease all work and betake themselves to certain places of rendezvous. On the morning of Sunday, the 2nd of April, the walls of Glasgow were found placarded everywhere by a proclamation, ordering all persons to cease labour and turn out for a general revolution. The next morning the magistrates called out the military, and they were drawn up in the streets in readiness for the appearance of an insurrection, but none took place. The people were all in wonder, and assembled to see what would happen; but there appeared not the slightest disposition to make any disorder, and some of the cotton mills were at work as though nothing was expected to take place. But still, the mischief had not altogether failed. Some fifty poor ignorant men had been decoyed out of Glasgow to near Kilsyth, on the assurance that four or five thousand men would there join them, and proceed to take the Carron Ironworks and thus supply themselves with artillery. These poor dupes were met on the road, on some high ground on Bonnymuir, by a detachment of armed men sent out against them, and, after some resistance, during which some of them were wounded, nineteen were made prisoners and the rest fled. Other arrests were made in different parts of Scotland, and they were tried in the following July and August; but so little interest was felt in this attempt, or in the details of what was called "the Battle of Bonnymuir," that three only were punished and the rest discharged.

In the early portion of the reign the manners and customs differed little from those described in the preceding one. There was great dissipation, and even coarseness of manners, amongst the nobility and gentry. It was the custom to drink to intoxication at dinners, and swearing still garnished the language of the wealthy as well as of the low. Balls, routs, the opera, the theatre, with Vauxhall and Ranelagh, filled up the time of the fashionable, and gaming was carried to an extraordinary extent. Amongst our leading statesmen Charles Fox was famous for this habit. Duelling was equally common, and infidelity amongst fashionable people was of[203] notorious prevalence. George III. and his queen did what they could to discourage this looseness of morals, and to set a different example; but the decorum of the Court was long in passing into the wealthy classes around it. An affluent middle class was fast mingling with the old nobility, and this brought some degree of sobriety and public decency with it. Amongst the lower classes dog-, cock-, and bull-fights were, during a great part of the reign, the chief amusements, and the rudest manners continued to prevail, because there was next to no education. Wesley, Whitefield, and their followers, were the first to break into this condition of heathenism. Robberies and murders abounded both in town and country, and the police was of a very defective character. For the most part there was none but the parish constable. The novels of Fielding and Smollett are pictures of the rudeness and profligacy of these times. The resources in the country of books and newspapers were few, and the pot-house supplied the necessary excitement. The clergy were of a very low tone, or were non-resident, and the farmers, getting rich, aped the gentlemen, followed the hounds, and ended the day with a carouse.

In Germany, Frederick of Prussia was hard put to it. A fresh army of Russians, under General Soltikow, advanced to the Oder, and another army of Austrians, under Laudohn, advanced to form a junction with them. To prevent this, Frederick sent General Wedel to encounter the Russians, but he was defeated by them on the 23rd of July, with heavy loss. Frederick himself then hastened against them, but, before his arrival, the Austrians had joined Soltikow, making a united force of sixty thousand, which Frederick attacked, on the 12th of August, with forty-eight thousand, at the village of Kunersdorf, close to Frankfort-on-the-Oder. At first he was successful; but, attempting to push his advantages, he was completely beaten, the whole of his army being killed or scattered to three thousand men. So completely did his ruin now seem accomplished, that, expecting the Russians, Austrians, Poles, Swedes, and Saxons to come down on him on all sides, he once more contemplated taking the poison that he still carried about him; wrote a letter to that effect to his Prime Minister, and directed the oath of allegiance to be taken to his nephew, and that his brother, Prince Henry, should be regent; but finding that the Russians, who had lost twenty thousand men, were actually drawing off, he again took courage, was soon at the head of thirty thousand men, and with these was hastening to the relief of Dresden, when he was paralysed by the news that General Finck, with twelve thousand men, had suffered himself to be surrounded at Maxen, and compelled to surrender. Despairing of relieving Dresden during this campaign, Frederick eventually took up his winter quarters at Freiberg, in Saxony, and employed himself in raising and drilling fresh soldiers; compelled, however, to pay his way by debasing both the Prussian coin, and the English gold which he received in subsidy, by a very large alloy.

Parliament reassembled, according to the Minister's plan, at the unusually early date of the 22nd of January, 1846. The Queen's Speech, read by her Majesty in person, thus alluded to the topic most prominent in the public mind: