《法律的道理》 20200222 让见义勇为有法可依

We must return from victory abroad to discontent at home. On the 28th of January, 1817, the Prince Regent opened the fifth Session of Parliament. In his speech he expressed indignation at "the attempts which had been made to take advantage of the distresses of the country for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence;" and he declared himself determined to put down these attempts by stern measures. The seconder of the Address in the Commons had the good sense to believe that the demagogues and their acts would die of themselves. Certainly, if the demagogues had no cause on which to base their efforts, those efforts must have proved fruitless; and the wisdom of Government consisted in seriously inquiring whether there were such causes. To attempt to insure peace by smothering distress is the old remedy of tyrants, and is like heaping fuel on fire to put it out. Whilst this debate was proceeding, a message arrived from the Lords to announce that the Regent, on his return from the House, had been insulted, and some missile thrown through the windows of his carriage. The House agreed upon an Address to the Regent on this event, and then adjourned.

In April De Crillon arrived, and was followed by the Spanish and French troops from Minorca. From eighteen to twenty thousand men were added to the army already encamped before the place, and the most able engineers were engaged from almost all countries of Europe, at extravagant salaries, and great rewards were offered for inventions which might demolish the formidable works of the English on the rock. Nearly forty thousand troops were now congregated against the old fortress. One hundred and seventy pieces of heavy artillery were directed against it, and immense stores of ammunition were accumulated for this final and triumphant achievement. On the other hand, General Elliot had now repaired and strengthened his defences more than ever. His garrison was augmented to seven thousand men, including a marine brigade; eighty pieces of cannon frowned from the walls, and the bulk of his men were of the best and most seasoned kind.

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In the debate on this subject, George Canning, who on many occasions had shown himself capable of better things, breathed the very language of Toryism. He declared the representation of Parliament perfect, and treated the most moderate proposals for Reform as only emanations from the mad theories of the Spenceans. The message of the Prince Regent came down on the 3rd of February, ordering certain papers to be laid before the House, "concerning certain practices, meetings, and combinations in the metropolis, and in different parts of the kingdom, evidently calculated to endanger the public tranquillity, to alienate the affections of his Majesty's subjects from his Majesty's person and Government, and to bring into hatred and contempt the whole system of our laws and institutions." Lord Sidmouth endeavoured to guard the House of Peers against the belief that the insult to the Regent had any share in the origination of this message, but the House of Lords, in its Address, directly charged this event as an additional proof of the public disaffection. Unfortunately, the Regent had two Houses of Parliament only too much disposed to make themselves the instruments of such vengeance. The message was referred to a secret committee in each House, and on the 18th and 19th of February they respectively made their reports. Both went at great length into the affair of the Spa Fields meeting, and the proceedings and designs of the Spenceans were made to represent the designs of the working classes all over the kingdom; that such men as Thistlewood, who not long after suffered for his justly odious conduct, were conspicuous among the Spenceans, and that there had been an affray in Spa Fields, were circumstances to give ample colouring to the reports of these committees. The Lords' report stated"It appears clear that the object is, by means of societies, or clubs, established, or to be established, in all parts of Great Britain, under pretence of Parliamentary reform, to infect the minds of all classes of the community, and particularly of those whose[124] situation most exposes them to such impressions, with a spirit of discontent and disaffection, of insubordination, and contempt of all law, religion, and morality; and to hold out to them the plunder of all property as the main object of their efforts, and the restoration of their natural rights; and no endeavours are omitted to prepare them to take up arms, on the first signal, for accomplishing their designs."

The king's speech, at the opening of this Session, recommended a consideration of the trade and general condition of Ireland; and indeed it was time, for the concessions which had been made by the Rockingham Ministry had only created a momentary tranquillity. The Volunteers retaining their arms in their hands after the close of the American war, were evidently bent on imitating the proceedings of the Americans, and the direction of the movement passed from Grattan to Flood. In September, 1785, delegates from all the Volunteer corps in Ireland met at Dungannon, representing one hundred thousand men, who passed resolutions declaring their independence of the legislature of Great Britain. The delegates at Dungannon claimed the right to reform the national Parliament, and appointed a Convention to meet in Dublin in the month of November, consisting of delegates from the whole Volunteer army in Ireland. Accordingly, on the 10th of November, the great Convention met in Dublin, and held their meetings in the Royal Exchange. They demanded a thorough remodelling of the Irish Constitution. They declared that as matters stood the Irish House of Commons was wholly independent of the people; that its term of duration was equally unconstitutional; and they passed zealous votes of thanks to their friends in England. These friends were the ultra-Reformers of England, who had freely tendered the Irish Reformers their advice and sympathy. The Irish people were ready to hail the delegates as their true Parliament, and the regular Parliament as pretenders. Within Parliament House itself the most violent contentions were exhibited between the partisans of the Volunteer Parliament and the more orthodox reformers. Henry Flood was the prominent advocate of the extreme movement, and Grattan, who regarded this agitation as certain to end only in fresh coercion, instead of augmented liberty for Ireland, vehemently opposed it.

Admirable as was the character of Caroline, she has been accused of retaining her resentment against her son to the last. Pope and Chesterfield affirm that she died refusing to see or forgive her son; but Ford, though he says she would not see him, states that she "heartily forgave him"; and Horace Walpole says she not only forgave him, but would have seen him, but that she feared to irritate her husband. To Sir Robert Walpole she expressed her earnest hope that he would continue to serve the king as faithfully as he had done, and, curiously enough, recommended the king to him, not him to the king. She died on the 20th of November, perhaps more lamented by Walpole than by her own husband (though, as Lord Hervey tells us, George was bitterly affected), for Walpole well knew how much her strong sense and superior feeling had tended to keep the king right, which he could not hope for when she was gone. The king appeared to lament her loss considerably for a time, that is, till consoled by his mistress, the Countess of Walmoden, whom he had kept for a long time at Hanover, and now soon brought over to England. He sent for her picture when she was dead, shut himself up with it some hours, and declared, on reappearing, that he never knew the woman worthy to buckle her shoe.

MARSHAL LANNES AT RATISBON. (See p. 587.)

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