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The year 1799 opened by the discussion of this new scheme of revenue. It was a mode of making every man tax himself by stating the amount of his income, on which he was to be charged ten per cent., with the exception only of such persons whose incomes were less than two hundred pounds per annum, who were to be charged less than ten per cent. It was to include all who had more than sixty pounds a-year. Pitt calculated the income of the nation at a hundred and two million pounds, which would thus produce a revenue of ten million pounds. To make this excellent device the more palatable, the increase in the assessed taxes made in the preceding Session was to be repealed. To such a degree did the nation trust the great Minister, that this tax was carried through both Houses with comparatively little difficulty.

[See larger version] Howe, who, with seven thousand soldiers and more than one thousand sailors, did not feel himself safe at New York till the new reinforcements should arrive, sailed away to Halifaxa circumstance which gave the appearance of a retreat to his change of locality, and had thus a bad effect in more ways than one. Washington, who was informed of his final destination, immediately marched with the greater part of his army to New York, and thence went himself to Philadelphia to concert future measures with the Congress. This body, in commemoration of the surrender of Boston, ordered a medal to be struck in honour of it, and that it should bear the effigy of Washington, with the title of the Asserter of the Liberties of his Country. The medal was cast in France. All the traversers were found guilty. The Attorney-General did not press for judgment against the Rev. Matthew Tierney. Upon the rest Mr. Justice Burton, who was deeply affected, pronounced judgment on the 30th of May, in the following terms:"With respect to the principal traverser, the Court is of opinion that he must be sentenced to be imprisoned for the space of twelve calendar months; and that he is further to be fined in the sum of 2,000, and bound in his own recognisances in the sum of 5,000, and two sureties in 2,500, to keep the peace for seven years. With respect to the other traversers, we have come to the conclusion that to each shall be allotted similar sentences, namely, that they be imprisoned for the space of nine calendar months, each of them to pay 50 fine, and to enter into their own recognisances of 1,000 each, and two sureties of 500, to keep the peace for seven years."

[77] [227] As soon as the Ministry had been restored, the House reassembled for the election of a new Speaker in the room of Mr. Abercromby, who had declared his intention of resigning, having no longer sufficient strength to perform the arduous duties imposed on him by his office. When his intention was announced, he received, through Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, the highest testimony of the esteem in which he was held by the two great parties, not only for his conduct in the Chair, but also for his strenuous exertions to improve the mode of conducting the private business of the House. This was in accordance with precedent, but as a matter of fact Mr. Abercromby was a very weak Speaker, and his ruling had been repeatedly questioned by the House. He was chosen Speaker in 1835. On his resignation of that office he was raised to the peerage as Lord Dunfermline. Mr. Handley nominated Mr. Shaw Lefevre, member for North Hants, as a person eminently qualified to succeed to the vacant chair. Mr. Williams Wynn, a member of great experience and reputation in the House, proposed Mr. Goulburn, member for the University of Cambridge. The motion was seconded by Mr. Wilson Patten. It was a party contest, and tested the strength of the Ministry and the Opposition. The House divided on the motion that Mr. Shaw Lefevre do take the Chair, which was carried by a majority of eighteen, the numbers being 317 and 299.

The platform for the chairman and speakers consisted of a couple of waggons boarded over, and Hunt and his friends had some difficulty in reaching it through the dense crowd, the attendant bands continuing to play "God Save the King," and "Rule Britannia," till they were safely placed on the platform, when the music ceased, and Hunt, having been called to the chair, took off his white hat, and was commencing his address, when there was a strange movement in the throng, and a cry, "The soldiers are upon us!" and this was the fact. The magistrates had met in great numbers on the previous Saturday, and had determined to seize the ringleaders; but instead of doing this as they might have done, at their several localities when drilling, or on their way to the town, they left this to be done after these vast numbers were assembled, and by the aid of the soldiers, which was certain to produce serious consequences. We have the statements of these magistrates themselves, as laid before Parliament, and of Sir William Jolliffe, M.P., lieutenant of the 15th Hussars, and personally engaged on the occasion. The reason assigned by them was, that they waited to see "what the complexion of the meeting might be;" but, if this was the case, they might as well have waited till some disorder took place, which they did not, but sent the soldiers into the crowd, whilst peacefully and in an orderly manner standing to listen to the chairman. Had they waited to the end, they would undoubtedly have seen the immense crowd disappear as quietly as it had come. But the magistrates were clearly excited by their fears. They had assembled a great constabulary and military force. Two hundred special constables had been sworn in; six troops of the 15th Hussars lying in the barracks were held in readiness; a troop of Horse Artillery with two guns; the greater part of the 31st Regiment of Infantry; several companies of the 88th Regiment; the Cheshire Yeomanry, nearly four hundred men, who had ridden in that very morning; and about forty Manchester Yeomanry, chiefly master manufacturers. These were troops enough to storm a town, much more to defend it from an unarmed multitude. The whole of this force, except the Manchester Yeomanry, was put under the command of Colonel L'Estrange, of the 31st Regiment, in the absence of Sir John Byng, the general of the district, but who had his headquarters at Pontefract, and who, it appeared, had received no information of these military preparations, or of the imagined need of them.

The memorable 17th of August arrived, and the curtain was raised on a new act in the great drama, on which the whole nation gazed with the deepest interest, and with feverish anxiety. The queen left her residence in St. James's Square, and proceeded to the House of Lords in her new state carriage, which the people were with difficulty dissuaded from unyoking, that they might draw it themselves. As she passed Carlton House, the crowd gave three cheers, and also at the Treasury. The soldiers on guard at the former place, and at the House of Lords, presented arms when she arrived. The queen's carriage was preceded by Alderman Wood's, and followed by one of her Majesty's travelling carriages, in which were the Hon. Keppel Craven and Sir William Gell, her chamberlains. The way from Charing Cross to Westminster Abbey was crowded, and all the windows of the houses on each side were filled with people, particularly with ladies. Such was the enthusiasm of the people, that the barrier erected at St. Margaret's Church was insufficient to keep them back, and the dense mass forced their way through, and reached Palace Yard shortly after the queen. Sir T. Tyrwhitt, as Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, attended by the officers of the House, received the queen at the private entrance which had been prepared for her. She entered at the door near the throne, supported by Lord A. Hamilton, and attended by Lady A. Hamilton. She was dressed in white, but wore a black lace shawl. Her demeanour was in the highest degree dignified. On her entrance the peers all rose, and she was pleased to salute them in return.

Mr. Manners Sutton was again chosen Speaker of the House of Commons, having already presided over four successive Parliaments, occupying a period of fourteen years, during which he performed the onerous duties of his high position to the satisfaction of all parties. A week was occupied in the swearing-in of members. All the preliminary formalities having been gone through, the Parliament was opened by the king in person on the 2nd of November. The Royal Speech, which was of unusual length, excited the deepest interest, and was listened to with breathless attention and intense anxiety. The concluding paragraph of the Speech, while expressing the strongest confidence in the loyalty of the people, intimated the determination of the Government to resist Parliamentary Reform. This attitude was regarded as a defiance to the Opposition; and it roused into excitement the spirit of hostility, which might have been disarmed by a tone of conciliation, and by a disposition to make moderate concessions. Nothing, therefore, could have been more favourable to the aims of the Whig leaders than the course taken by the Administration; and if they wanted an excuse for breaking forth into open war, it was supplied by the imprudent speech of the Duke of Wellington. The Royal Speech, indeed, suggested revolutionary topics to the Reformers, by its allusion to Continental politics. The king observed that the elder branch of the House of Bourbon no longer reigned in France, and that the Duke of Orleans had been called to the throne. The state of affairs in the Low Countriesnamely, the separation of Belgium from Hollandwas viewed with deep regret; and "his Majesty lamented that the enlightened administration of the King of the Netherlands" should not have preserved his dominions from revolt; stating that he was endeavouring, in concert with his allies, to devise such means of restoring tranquillity as might be compatible with the welfare and good government of the Netherlands, and with the future security of other States.

The ordinance was disallowed at home. Lord Brougham, who had never forgiven his former colleagues the constitution of the Cabinet without his forming a part of it, signalised himself by the extreme bitterness with which he headed the onslaught. The result was that, after protracted debates in both Houses of Parliament, which occupied the whole of the summer, and fill up nearly 500 pages of the Parliamentary Proceedings, the ordinance was annulled by Act of Parliament; but an Act was passed indemnifying Lord Durham and the Canadian authorities. The majority in the Commons was so large that the Opposition did not venture on a division; and in the Lords the disallowance was carried by a majority of 54 to 36. This result occurred on the 10th of August, and Lord Durham saw the news first in the American newspapers. Lords Melbourne and Glenelg softened the matter to him as well as they could; the former communicated the intelligence with the greatest regret and the deepest apprehension as to its consequences. Lord Durham betrayed his mortification unwisely in a proclamation which he immediately issued. As the banishment was an exception to the general amnesty he had published, he informed the prisoners at Bermuda that her Majesty being advised to refuse her assent to the exceptions, the amnesty existed without qualification, and added"No impediment, therefore, exists to the return of the persons who have made the most distinctive admission of guilt, or have been excluded by me from the province on account of the danger to which it would be exposed by their presence."

But Harley and St. John had deprived the nation of its triumph, and left the way open to fresh insults and humiliations. No sooner did Villars see the English forces withdrawn from the Allies, than he seized the opportunity to snatch fresh advantages for France, and thus make all their demands on the Allies certain. He crossed the Scheldt on the 24th of July, and, with an overwhelming force, attacked the Earl of Albemarle, who commanded a division of the Allied army at Denain. Eugene, who, from the reduction of Quesnoy, had proceeded to lay siege to Landrey, instantly hastened to the support of Albemarle; but, to his grief, found himself, when in sight of him, cut off from rendering him any assistance by the breaking down of the bridge over the Scheldt; and he had the pain to see Albemarle beaten under his very eyes. Seventeen battalions of Albemarle's force were killed or taken. He himself and all the surviving officers were made prisoners. Five hundred wagons loaded with bread, twelve pieces of brass cannon, a large quantity of ammunition and provisions, horses and baggage, fell into the hands of the French. Villars then marched on to Marchiennes, where the stores of the Allies were deposited, and took it on the 31st of July, the garrison of five thousand being sent to Valenciennes prisoners. He next advanced to Douay, where Eugene would have given him battle, but was forbidden to do so by the States, and thus Douay fell into Villars' hands. Then came the fall of Quesnoy and Bouchain, which had cost Marlborough and Eugene so much to win.

The Whigs were as active to bring over the Electoral Prince of Hanover as they were to drive the Pretender farther off. With the Prince in England, a great party would be gathered about him; and all those who did not pay court to him and promote the interests of his House would be marked men in the next reign. Nothing could be more hateful than such a movement to both the queen and her ministers. Anne had a perfect horror of the House of Hanover; and of the Ministers, Bolingbroke, at least, was staking his whole future on paving the way of the Pretender to the throne. When the Whigs, therefore, instigated Baron Schutz, the Hanoverian envoy, to apply to the Lord Chancellor Harcourt for a writ of summons for the Electoral Prince, who had been created a British peer by the title of the Duke of Cambridge, Harcourt was thrown into the utmost embarrassment. He pleaded that he must first consult the queen, who, on her part, was seized with similar consternation. The Court was equally afraid of granting the writ and of refusing it. If it granted it, the prince would soon be in England, and the queen would see her courtiers running to salute the rising sun; the Jacobites, with Bolingbroke at their head, would commit suicide on their own plans now in active agitation for bringing in the Pretender. If they refused it, it would rouse the whole Whig party, and the cry that the Protestant succession was betrayed would spread like lightning through the nation. Schutz was counselled by the leading WhigsDevonshire, Somerset, Nottingham, Somers, Argyll, Cowper, Halifax, Wharton, and Townshendto press the Lord Chancellor for the writ. He did so, and was answered that the writ was ready sealed, and was lying for him whenever he chose to call for it; but at the same time he was informed that her Majesty was greatly incensed at the manner in which the writ had been asked for; that she conceived that it should have first been mentioned to her, and that she would have given the necessary orders. But every one knew that it was not the manner, but the fact of desiring the delivery of the writ which was the offence.