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Parliament having been prorogued, the members retired to their respective counties and boroughs, many of them out of humour with themselves and with the Government which they had heretofore[307] supported, and meditating revenge. An endeavour was made in the course of the summer to renew the political connection between the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Huskisson. The friends of the existing Administration felt the weakness of their position, deprived of their natural support, and liable to be outvoted at any time. The Tories had become perfectly rabid in their indignation, vehemently charging the Duke with violation of public faith, with want of statesmanship, with indifference to the wishes and necessities of the people, and with a determination to govern the country as if he were commanding an army. Their feelings were so excited that they joined in the Whig cry of Parliamentary Reform, and spoke of turning the bishops out of the House of Lords. It was to enable the Premier to brave this storm that he was induced by his friends to receive Mr. Huskisson at his country house. The Duke was personally civil, and even kind, to his visitor; but his recollections of the past were too strong to permit of his going farther. In the following Session negotiations were made with the other Canningites, but without success, as they had thrown in their lot with the Whigs.

The Session of 1753 was distinguished by two remarkable Acts of Parliament. The one was for the naturalisation of the Jews, the other for the prevention of clandestine marriages. The Jew Bill was introduced into the Lords, and passed it with singular ease, scarcely exciting an objection from the whole bench of bishops; Lord Lyttelton declaring that "he who hated another man for not being a Christian was not a Christian himself." But in the Commons it raised a fierce debate. On the 7th of May, on the second reading, it was assailed by loud assertions that to admit the Jews to such privileges was to dishonour the Christian faith; that it would deluge the kingdom with usurers, brokers, and beggars; that the Jews would buy up the advowsons, and thus destroy the Church; that it was flying directly in the face of God and of Prophecy, which had declared the Jews should be scattered over the face of the earth, without any country or fixed abode. Pelham ridiculed the fears about the Church, showing that, by their own rigid tenets, the Jews could neither enter our Church nor marry our women, and could therefore never touch our religion, nor amalgamate with us as a people; that as to civil offices, unless they took the Sacrament, they could not be even excisemen or custom-house officers. The Bill passed by a majority of ninety-five to sixteen; but the storm was only wafted from the Parliament to the public. Out-of-doors the members of Parliament, and especially the bishops, were pursued with the fiercest rancour and insult. Members of the Commons were threatened by their constituents with the loss of their seats for voting in favour of this Bill; and one of them, Mr. Sydenham, of Exeter, defended himself by declaring that he was no Jew, but travelled on the Sabbath like a Christian. The populace pursued the members and the bishops in the streets, crying, "No Jews! No Jews! No wooden shoes!" In short, such was the popular fury, that the Duke of Newcastle was glad to bring in a Bill for the repeal of his Act of Naturalisation on the very first day of the next Session, which passed rapidly through both Houses. Progress was again shown in a speech of Lord John Russell in the debate on the condition of the people on the 26th of May. Still clinging to his idea of a fixed duty, he said, "If I had a proposition to make, it would not be the 8s. duty which was proposed in 1841." An exclamation of "How much, then?" from Sir James Graham drew forth the further remark"No one, I suppose, would propose any duty that would be less than 4s.; and 4s., 5s., or 6s., if I had a proposition to make, would be the duty that I should propose." The awkward anomalies of Sir Robert Peel's position were the frequent subject of the attacks of his enemies at this time; but the country felt that there was a littleness in the Whig leader's paltry and vacillating style of dealing with a great question, beside which, at least, the position of the Minister exhibited a favourable contrast. The crisis was at hand. The efforts of the Jacobins had culminated in the great blow which should crush this ancient monarchy to the earth. The Federates called a meeting of the Committee of Insurrection to arrange the final plans, and it was resolved that the insurrection should take place on the 10th of August.

The case of the Irish Church was stated by Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, and Sir James Graham, who argued that its revenues were greatly exaggerated, subjected to heavy drawbacks and deductions. The vestry cess had been abolished. A tax exclusively borne by the clergy of three to fifteen per cent. had been laid upon all livings, and the Church Temporalities Act provided that in all parishes in which service had not been performed from 1830 to 1833, when a vacancy occurred, there should be no reappointment, and the revenues of that living, after paying a curate, should be destined to other parishes differently situated, but for purposes strictly Protestant. Here was a provision already made for the[384] progressive diminution or extinction of the Episcopal Church in those districts where it was not called for, and could be of no utility. Whence, then, the anxiety to take away a surplus, which probably would not exceed 100,000 a year, from a Church already subjected to such heavy and exclusive burdens? It was not pretended that the object of this appropriation was to apply the income seized to the payment of the National Debt, or that it was justified by State necessity. They argued that if the appropriation clause, as now shaped, once passed into law, not only would the Protestant faith cease to be the established religion in Ireland, but the measure would be fatal to the Established Church in England also. In fact, the Conservatives contended that this was only the first of a series of measures avowedly intended to annihilate the Protestant Establishment. O'Connell proposed to confiscate the property of the Church, in order to relieve the land from its appropriate burdens, and to exempt it from the support of the poor. They argued, therefore, that on no reasonable ground could it be maintained that this concession to Irish agitation could have any other effect than stimulating the agitators to make fresh demands. By six o'clock in the evening the Allied army had lost ten thousand men in killed and wounded, besides a great number of the dispersed Belgians and other foreigners of the worst class, who had run off, and taken refuge in the wood of Soigne. But the French had suffered more severely; they had lost fifteen thousand in killed and wounded, and had had more than two thousand taken prisoners. At about half-past four, too, firing had been heard on the French right, and it proved to be the advanced division of Bulow. Grouchy had overtaken the Prussians at Wavre, but had been stopped there by General Thielemann, by order of Blucher, and kept from crossing the Dyle till it was too late to prevent the march of Blucher on Waterloo; so that whilst Thielemann was thus holding back Grouchy, who now heard the firing from Waterloo, Blucher was on the track of his advanced division towards the great battle-field. When Buonaparte heard the firing on the right, he thought, or affected to think, that it was Grouchy, whom he had sent for in haste, who was beating the Prussians; but he perceived that he must now make one gigantic effort, or all would be lost the moment that the main armies of the British and Prussians united. Sending, therefore, a force to beat back Bulow, he prepared for one of those thunderbolts which so often had saved him at the last moment. He formed his Imperial Guard into two columns at the bottom of the declivity of La Belle Alliance, and supporting them by four battalions of the Old Guard, and putting Ney at their head, ordered him to break the British squares. That splendid body of men, the French Guards, rushed forward, for the last time, with cries of "Vive l'Empereur!" and Buonaparte rode at their head as well as Ney, as far as the farm of La Haye Sainte. There the great Corsican, who had told his army on joining it this last campaign that he and they must now conquer[100] or die, declined the death by suddenly wheeling his horse aside, and there remaining, still and stiff as a statue of stone, watching the last grand venture. The British right at this moment was wheeling towards Buonaparte's position, so that his Guards were received by a simultaneous fire in front and in the flank. The British soldiers advanced from both sides, as if to close round the French, and poured in one incessant fire, each man independently loading and discharging his piece as fast as he could. The French Guards endeavoured to deploy that they might renew the charge, but under so terrible a fire they found it impossible: they staggered, broke, and melted into a confused mass. As they rolled wildly down the hill, the battalions of the Old Guard tried to check the pursuing British; but at this moment Wellington, who had Maitland's and Adams's brigades of Guards lying on their faces behind the ridge on which he stood, gave the command to charge, and, rushing down the hill, they swept the Old Guard before them. On seeing this, Buonaparte exclaimed, "They are mingled together! All is lost for the present!" and rode from the field. The battle was won. But at the same moment Wellington ordered the advance of the whole line, and the French, quitting every point of their position, began a hasty and confused retreat from the field.

The name of the prisoner was Edward Oxford. He was about eighteen years of age, and of an[472] unprepossessing countenance. He was a native of Birmingham, which town he had left nine years before. He was last employed at a public-house, "The Hog in the Pond," at the corner of South Molton Street and Oxford Street. His trial for high treason was begun in the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, July 9th, and ended next day. The judges were Lord Denman, Baron Alderson, and Justice Patteson. The jury returned the following special verdict:"We find the prisoner, Edward Oxford, guilty of discharging the contents of two pistols, but whether or not they were loaded with ball has not been satisfactorily proved to us, he being of unsound mind at the time." An argument followed between counsel as to whether this verdict amounted to an absolute acquittal, or an acquittal on the ground of insanity. Lord Denman said that the jury were in a mistake. It was necessary that they should form an opinion as to whether the pistols were loaded with bullets or not; but it appeared they had not applied their minds to that point, and therefore it would be necessary that they should again retire, and say aye or no. Did the prisoner fire a pistol loaded with ball at the Queen? After considerable discussion upon the point, the jury again retired to consider their verdict. During their absence the question was again argued, and it appeared to be the opinion of the judges that the jury were bound to return a verdict of "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" upon the evidence brought before them. After an absence of an hour they returned into court, finding the prisoner "guilty, he being at the same time insane." The sentence was that he should be imprisoned during her Majesty's pleasure, according to the Act 40 George III., providing for cases where crimes were committed by insane persons.