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《》剧情介绍

After the Painting by SEYMOUR LUCAS, R.A., in the National Gallery of British Art[See larger version]

The winter of 1836-7 was marked by great commercial activity, and a strong tendency to over-trading, chiefly on the part of the banks. The result was a reaction, and considerable monetary embarrassment. In the reckless spirit of enterprise which led to these consequences, the American houses took the lead. The American speculators indulged an inordinate thirst for gain by land jobs, and over-trading in British produce. The most remarkable examples of this were afforded by three great American houses in London, called "the three W.'s." From an account of these firms, published in June, 1837, it appeared that the amount of bills payable by them from June to December, was as follows: Wilson and Co.,[411] 936,300; Wigan and Co., 674,700; Wildes and Co., 505,000; total acceptances, 2,116,000. This was upwards of one-sixth of the aggregate circulation of the private and joint-stock banks of England and Wales, and about one-eighth of the average circulation of the Bank of England. The shipments to America by Wigan and Co. amounted to 1,118,900. The number of joint-stock banks that started into existence at this time was remarkable. From 1825 to 1833 only thirty joint-stock banks had been established. In that year the Charter of the Bank of England being renewed, without many of the exclusive privileges it formerly enjoyed, and the spirit of commercial enterprise being active, joint-stock banks began to increase rapidly. There was an average of ten new companies annually, till 1836, when forty-five of these establishments came into existence in the course of ten months. In Ireland there were ten started in the course of two years. The consequence of this greatly increased banking accommodation produced a wild spirit of commercial adventure, which collapsed first in America, where the monetary confusion was unexampledbankers, importers, merchants, traders, and the Government having been all flung into a chaos of bankruptcy and insolvency. This state of things in America had an immediate effect in England. Discounts were abruptly refused to the largest and hitherto most respectable houses of Liverpool and London. Trade, in consequence, became paralysed; prices suddenly dropped from thirty to forty per cent.; and the numerous share bubblesthe railway projects, the insurance companies, the distillery companies, the cemetery companies, the sperm oil, the cotton twist, zoological gardens, and other speculationswhich had floated on the pecuniary tide, all suddenly collapsed, and there was an end to the career of unprincipled adventurers. It is satisfactory, however, to observe that the sound commerce of the country soon recovered the shock thus given; and in less than two years the pecuniary difficulties had passed away. Commerce had resumed its wonted activity, and flowed steadily in legitimate channels. The American banks resumed payment, and the three great American houses, which had involved themselves to such an enormous extent, were enabled to meet all their liabilities.Whilst blood was thus flowing by the guillotine, not only in Paris, but, under the management of Jacobin Commissioners, in nearly all the large towns of France, especially Lyons, Bordeaux, and Nantes, a terrible work of extermination was going on against the royalists of La Vende. The simple people of that province, primitive in their habits and sincere in their faith, desired no Republic. Their aristocracy, for the most part of only moderate possessions, lived amongst them rather like a race of kindly country squires than great lords, and the people were accordingly cordially attached to them. In March of the year 1793 the Convention called for a conscription of three hundred thousand, and the Vendans, to a man, refused to serve under a Government that had persecuted both their priests and their seigneurs. This was the certain signal of civil war. Troops were ordered to march into La Vende, and compel obedience. Then the peasants flew to arms, and called on the nobles and priests to join them. At first they were entirely successful, but matters changed when Kleber was put in practical command.

On the 17th of July the new Premier, Lord Melbourne, who, declining, on the king's suggestion, to form a coalition with the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Stanley, had made few alterations in the Ministry, announced a less offensive Coercion Bill for Ireland, which led to an animated debate, in which Lords Wicklow and Wharncliffe, the Duke of Wellington, and other peers strongly censured the conduct of the Government for its alleged inconsistency, vacillation, and tergiversation. The new Coercion Bill passed quickly through both Houses, and became the law of the land before the end of the month. The Tithes Bill was rejected in the House of Lords, on the motion of Lord Ellenborough, by 189 votes to 122.The Congress at ViennaNapoleon's Escape from ElbaMilitary PreparationsEngland supplies the MoneyWellington organises his ArmyNapoleon's Journey through FranceHis Entry into ParisThe Enemy gathers round himNapoleon's PreparationsThe New ConstitutionPositions of Wellington and BlucherThe Duchess of Richmond's BallBattles of Ligny and Quatre BrasBlucher's RetreatThe Field of WaterlooThe BattleCharge of the Old GuardArrival of the PrussiansThe RetreatFrench Assertions about the Battle refutedNapoleon's AbdicationThe Allies march on ParisEnd of the Hundred DaysThe Emperor is sent to St. HelenaThe War in AmericaEvents on the Canadian FrontierRepeated Incapacity of Sir George PrevostHis RecallFailure of American Designs on CanadaCapture of Washington by the BritishOther ExpeditionsFailure of the Expedition to New OrleansAnxiety of the United States for PeaceMediation of the CzarTreaty of GhentExecution of Ney and LabdoyreInability of Wellington to interfereMurat's Attempt on NaplesHis ExecutionThe Second Treaty of ParisFinal Conditions between France and the AlliesRemainder of the Third George's ReignCorn Law of 1815General DistressRiots and Political MeetingsThe Storming of AlgiersRepressive Measures in ParliamentSuspension of the Habeas Corpus ActSecret Meetings in LancashireThe Spy OliverThe Derbyshire InsurrectionRefusal of Juries to convictSuppression of seditious WritingsCircular to Lords-LieutenantThe Flight of CobbettFirst Trial of HoneThe Trials before Lord EllenboroughBill for the Abolition of SinecuresDeath of the Princess CharlotteOpening of the Session of 1818Repeal of the Suspension ActOperation of the Corn LawThe Indemnity BillIts Passage through ParliamentAttempts at ReformMarriages of the Dukes of Clarence, Cambridge, and KentRenewal of the Alien ActDissolution of Parliament and General ElectionStrike in ManchesterCongress of Aix-la-ChapelleRaids of the PindarreesLord Hastings determines to suppress themMalcolm's CampaignOutbreak of CholeraCampaign against the PeishwaPacification of the Mahratta DistrictApparent Prosperity of Great Britain in 1819Opening of ParliamentDebates on the Royal ExpenditureResumption of Cash PaymentsThe BudgetSocial ReformsThe Scottish BurghsRoman Catholic Emancipation rejectedWeakness of the GovernmentMeeting at ManchesterThe Peterloo MassacreThe Six ActsThe Cato Street ConspiracyAttempted Insurrection in ScotlandTrials of Hunt and his AssociatesDeath of George III.

The paper was communicated to the king by the Duke of Wellington, who wrote, on the 17th of January, that he entirely concurred in the sentiments and opinions contained in it; and, referring to Mr. Peel's request to be allowed to retire from the Government, the Duke said:"I tell you fairly, I do not see the smallest chance of getting the better of these difficulties, if you should not continue in office. Even if I should be able to obtain the king's consent to enter upon the course which it will probably be found the wisest to adoptwhich it is almost certain that I shall not if I should not have your assistance in office,the difficulties in Parliament will be augmented tenfold in consequence of your secession, while the means of getting the better of them will be diminished in the same proportion. I entreat you, then, to reconsider the subject, and to give[295] us and the country the benefit of your advice and assistance in this most difficult and important crisis."The Government of England saw the necessity of coming to some conclusion on the subject of Irish commerce, which should remove the distress, and, as a consequence, the disorder. The Irish Government, at the instigation of the English Administration, sent over Commissioners to consult with the Board of Trade in London, and certain terms being agreed upon, these were introduced by Mr. Orde, the Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant, to the Irish House of Commons, on the 7th of February. These were, that all articles not of the growth of Great Britain or Ireland should be imported into each country from the other, under the same regulations and duties as were imposed on direct importation, and with the same drawbacks; that all prohibitions in either country against the importation of articles grown, produced, or manufactured in the other should be rescinded, and the duties equalised. There were some other resolutions relating to internal taxation, to facilitate the corn trade, and some details in foreign and international commerce. These, after some debate, were passed on the 11th, and, being agreed to by the Lords, were transmitted to England.

WILLIAM WILBERFORCE. (After the Portrait by G. Richmond.)

When the advanced guard of the Allies came in sight of the Rhine, over which the last of the hated invaders had fled, they raised such shouts of "The Rhine! the Rhine!" that those behind rushed forward, supposing that it was a call to action; but they soon learned the true cause, and joined in a mighty acclamation, that proclaimed the haughty and sanguinary oppressor driven out, and the soil of Germany at length freed from his licentious and marauding legions. It turned out that they had left behind them one hundred and forty thousand prisoners, and seven hundred and ninety-one guns. On the 2nd of November Hanover was again delivered to Great Britain; the Duke of Brunswick, who had maintained his stern hatred to Buonaparte, also returned to his patrimonial domains; the kingdom of Westphalia dissolving like a dream, the different portions of Jerome's ephemeral realm reverted to its former owners. The Confederacy of the Rhine was at an end, the members of it hastening to make peace with the Allies, and save as much of their dominions as they could. Bernadotte, immediately after the defeat of Buonaparte at Leipsic, entered Denmark, and overran the country of that ally of France. The Danish army speedily consented to an armistice, by which it was agreed that the Swedes should occupy Holstein and a part of Schleswig till the French were expelled from all the Danish fortresses. It was already stipulated as the price of his co-operation, that the Crown Prince should receive Norway to add to the Swedish Crown.

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[See larger version]"The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," by Gibbon, began to appear in 1776, a few months before the death of Hume, and was not completed till 1788. It consisted of six ponderous quarto volumes, and now often occupies double that number of octavos. It is a monument of enormous labour and research, filling the long, waste, dark space between ancient and modern history. It traces the history of Rome from its Imperial splendour; through its severance into East and West; through its decadence under its luxurious and effeminate emperors; through the ravages of the invading hordes of the North, to the period when the nations of Europe began, in the dawn of a new morning, to rise from the depth of barbarism into life, form, and power. The faults of this great work are, that it is written, like Hume's "History of England," in the sceptical spirit of the period; and that it marches on, in one high-sounding, pompous style, with a monotonous step, over every kind of subject. The same space and attention are bestowed on the insignificance of the feeblest emperors, and the least important times, as on the greatest and most eventful. It is a work which all should read, but a large part of it will be waded through rather as a duty than a pleasure. Still, Gibbon holds his own indispensable position; no other man has yet risen to occupy it better.

[230]But whilst his political efforts did their work in his lifetime, his literary labours are the basis of his present fame. These were almost all produced after his sixtieth year; "Robinson Crusoe," by far the most popular of all his writings and one of the most popular in all the world's literature, "The Dumb Philosopher," "Captain Singleton," "Duncan Campbell," "Moll Flanders," "Colonel Jacque," "The Journal of the Plague," "The Memoirs of a Cavalier," "The Fortunate Mistress; or, Roxana," "The New Voyage round the World," and "Captain Carleton." The life and fidelity to human nature with which these are written have continually led readers to believe them altogether real narratives. The "Journal of the Plague" was quoted as a relation of facts by Dr. Mead; Chatham used to recommend "The Memoirs of a Cavalier" as the best account of the Civil War; Dr. Johnson read the life of "Captain Carleton" as genuine, and we continually see the story of "Mrs. Veal's Ghost," written by Defoe to puff Drelincourt's heavy "Essay on Death," included in collections as a matter-of-fact account of an apparition. This quality of verisimilitude is one of the greatest charms of his inimitable "Crusoe," which is the delight of the young from age to age.

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