【战“疫”说理】调整疫情心理疏导重点 应对社会心态变化

FIVE-GUINEA PIECE OF GEORGE I.

The South Sea Company, with a folly of which extreme greed only is capable, endeavoured to put down these rival schemes and obtained an order from the Lords Justices and writs of scire facias against several of these new bubbles. It was like raising a wind to blow away the bubbles, forgetting that their own was a bubble too, and would go with them. The moment that the people began to distrust one they distrusted all. The panic became as great as the mania had been. The South Sea stock dropped in less than a month from one thousand to below six hundred. There was a simultaneous rush to sell out, and the shares must have sunk instantly to nil but for the gigantic exertions of the Company to raise money and buy in. The relief, however, was but temporary. The bankers and pawnbrokers who had advanced money on scrip broke and fled; merchants, goldsmiths, and speculators rushed away after them. Walpole was summoned in haste from Haughton to devise some means of staying the panic. He endeavoured to get the Bank of England to circulate three millions of South Sea bonds for a year; but the Bank, seeing that the case was desperate, declined it. This was decisive. The rage and despair of the swarming dupes were indescribable. They heaped[48] execrations not only on the South Sea Company, but on Ministers, the king, his mistresses, and the Royal Family, who had all been deep in the affair, and who had taken good care of themselves. George landed at Margate on the 9th of November, soon after which the South Sea stock fell to one hundred and thirty-five. On the 8th of December Parliament met, and promptly began to investigate the scandal.

The crossing of the Beresina, in the circumstances, was a desperate design, but there was no alternative but surrender. Tchitchagoff was posted with his army on the opposite or left bank; Wittgenstein and Platoff were pressing down to join them; and Kutusoff, with the grand army of Russia, was in the rear, able, if he could have been induced to do it, to drive Buonaparte and his twelve thousand men into the Beresina, and destroy them. After reconnoitring the river Napoleon determined to deceive Tchitchagoff by a feint at passing at Borissov, but really to make the attempt at Studienka, above Borissov. He therefore kept up a show of preparations to cross at Borissov, but got ready two bridges at Studienka, one for the artillery and baggage, the other for the troops and miscellaneous multitude. At this juncture he was joined by Victor and Oudinot with their fifty thousand men well provided with everything. Thus he was now possessed of sixty-two thousand men besides stragglers; and his design of deceiving Tchitchagoff succeeding so completely that the latter withdrew his whole force from opposite to Studienka and concentrated it at Borissov, he began on the 26th of November to cross the river, and had a strong force already over before Tchitchagoff discovered his error and came back to attack him. So far all went so well that Buonaparte again boasted of his star. In wood engraving, Thomas Bewick, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, revived the art, and threw such fascination into it by the exquisite tail-pieces in his "Natural History," that his name will always be associated with this style of engraving.

Various causes, in fact, were operating to produce a great schism in the Ministry of George I. Townshend, as we have seen, had very unguardedly expressed his disgust with the measures of the king at and concerning Hanover. George's dislike was, of course, fomented by his courtiers and mistresses, and they found a powerful ally in Sunderland, who, tired of his subordinate position in the Ministry, had joined the king in Hanover. A letter from Townshend, in which, in order to allow the longer absence of the king, he recommended that additional powers should be conferred on the Prince of Wales, brought George's indignation to a head. This letter, which arrived about the middle of December, seemed to cause his anger to burst all bounds, and he vowed that he would dismiss Townshend at once from his service.

But, gloomy as was the aspect of affairs at home, they were far more so in America. There, the insane conduct of the Government had gone on exasperating and alienating the colonists. True, the Cabinet, on the close of Parliament, held a meeting to consider what should be done regarding America. Grafton proposed to repeal the obnoxious duties at the commencement of the next session, but he was overruled on the motion of Lord North, and it was agreed to repeal all but the tea duties. Within a few days after the close of the session, therefore, Lord Hillsborough wrote this news in a circular to the governors of the American colonies. As was certain, the partial concession produced no effect, the principle being still retained in the continued tea duty. Moreover, Hillsborough's circular was composed in such harsh and uncourteous terms, that it rather augmented than assuaged the excitement. Early in February he commenced his operations, and carried them forward with a vigour most extraordinary. He drove Soult from all his entrenchments before Bayonne, and again on the 27th he routed him at Orthez and pursued him to the banks of the Adour. This was a sharply contested field, the British having nearly three hundred killed and two thousand wounded; but the loss of the French was far heavier, for they flung down their arms and ran, and there was a great slaughter of the fugitives. The towns of Bayonne and Bordeaux being now left uncovered by the French, Wellington sent bodies of troops to invest them. Bordeaux opened its gates on March 8th, and proclaimed Louis XVIII. Lord Wellington had issued orders that the British should take no part in any political demonstrations, but should leave all such decisions to the Allies, who would settle by treaty what dynasty should reign. He himself followed Soult to Tarbes, where he expected that he would give battle; but Soult was anxious for the arrival and junction of Suchet, who was advancing from Spain with upwards of twenty thousand men. Soult, therefore, retreated to Toulouse, which he reached on the 24th of March. It was a melancholy thing to see the Queen of England bandied about from door to door, in the throng of curious and anxious spectators; cheered by some, laughed at by others, and an object of pity to her friends, making vain efforts to obtain admission to witness the glory of her worthless husband, repulsed at every point by the lowest officials, and compelled to return home discomfited and humiliated. By indiscreet and foolish acts like this she injured her position, and degraded herself to an extent that her husband, powerful and malignant as he was, never could have done. She and her friends counted upon the devotion of the people to her cause, which they hoped would have borne down all impediments and broken through all barriers. But it was felt that in attempting to intrude herself in that way at the risk of marring a great national festival, and causing tumult and possibly bloodshed, she had forgotten her own dignity; her conduct shocked the public sense of propriety, and went far to forfeit popular sympathy. She became deeply sensible of this fact while waiting for admission, and with all her attempts at hilarity, her laughter and gaiety of manner ill concealed the deep, self-inflicted wounds of her spirit, which were never healed. Now completely disenchanted, robbed of the fond illusion which had hitherto affected her perception of things, and viewing her situation in the cold morning light of stern reality, a chill of despondency came over her, and thenceforth settled heavily upon her spirit.

Napoleon, who had every need of success to regain his former position in the opinion of France, sent off in all haste to Paris the most exaggerated account of the battle of Lützen, as one of the most[66] decisive victories that he had ever won, and that it had totally scattered the Allies, and neutralised all the hopes and schemes of Great Britain. The Empress went in procession to Notre Dame, where Te Deum was celebrated by Cardinal Maury, who drew the most extravagant picture of Napoleon's invincible genius. The same false statements were sent also to every friendly Court in Europe, even to Constantinople. The stratagem had its effect. The wavering German princes, who were ready to go over to their own countrymen, still ranged their banners with the French. The King of Saxony had gone to Prague as a place whence he might negotiate his return to the ranks of his own fatherland; but he now hastened back again, and was in Dresden on the 12th of May with Napoleon, who conducted him in a kind of triumph through his capital, parading his adhesion before his subjects who had hailed the Allies just before with acclamations. The Saxon king, in fresh token of amity to Napoleon, ceded to him the fortress of Torgau, much to the disgust of his subjects.

Better to die than wed:

The magnitude of the interests at stake, the difficulty of estimating the real character and extent of the threatened evil, and the alarming consequences that must ensue if the worst fears should be realised, rendered immediate action necessary. A Cabinet Council was held on the 31st of October. From what passed on that occasion, says Sir Robert Peel, in the account which he has left of these events, "it was easy to foresee that there was little prospect of a common accord as to the measures to be adopted." On the 5th of November he apprised her Majesty of the probability of serious differences of opinion. At the adjourned meeting of the Cabinet, on the 6th of November, he submitted certain proposals for the consideration of his colleagues, which he has recorded in the following outline of these events:

Meanwhile the country continued to suffer from a great wave of trade depression. Gloom and discontent were throughout the land; and the Home Secretary of the new Administration afterwards stated that there was hardly a day during this period when he had not found it necessary to have personal communication with the Horse Guards, as well as with the heads of the police in the metropolis, and in the manufacturing districts. There seemed, indeed, to be no limit to the distress of the people. In Carlisle a committee of inquiry into the state of the town reported that one-fourth of their population was living in a state bordering on absolute starvation. In a population of 22,000 they found 5,561 individuals reduced to such a state of suffering that immediate relief had become necessary to save them from actual famine. Terrible accounts from other and far distant neighbourhoods showed how widespread was the evil. The manufacturers of the West of England appointed a committee to consider the distressed state of that district. Taking the town of Bradford, in Wilts, as an example, the committee reported that of the nineteen manufacturers carrying on business there in 1820, nine had failed, five had declined business from want of success, one[486] had taken another trade, and two only remained. Of 462 looms, 316 were entirely out of work, and only 11 in full employment; and this distress, it must be remembered, could not be traced to one great overwhelming cause, like that of the failure of the cotton supplies of a later day. The blight that had spread over the field of British industry was to most men a puzzle; but the West of England committee, after reporting that the same condition of things existed at Chalford, Stroud, Ulley, Wotton, Dursley, Frome, Trowbridge, etc., did not hesitate to declare that the depression of trade that was destroying capital, and pauperising the working classes was attributable to the legislation on the principle of protection. A public meeting was held at Burnley in the summer of 1842 to memorialise the Queen on the prevailing distress. At a great public conference of ministers of religion, held in Manchester in the previous autumn, it had been resolved that the existing Corn Laws were "impolitic in principle, unjust in operation, and cruel in effect;" that they were "opposed to the benignity of the Creator, and at variance with the very spirit of Christianity." This conference, which extended over an entire week of meetings, held both morning and evening, was attended by nearly 700 ministers. Their proceedings filled an entire volume, and attracted considerable attention throughout the kingdom. Similar conferences were afterwards held in a great number of towns.

Next day the victorious general sent a message to Hyderabad, threatening to storm the city if it was not immediately surrendered. The walls were very strong, and might have been defended successfully; but the Ameers had lost heart, and six of them came out to the British camp, and laid their swords at the feet of the conqueror. But though the city was in his possession, conquest seemed only to increase his difficulties. He had to keep possession of a large hostile city, and to defend his own entrenched camp against 20,000 Beloochees, who were still in the field under Shere Mahommed, and to accomplish all this he had but 2,000 effective men under his command. Reinforcements, however, were quickly dispatched by Lord Ellenborough. They arrived safely and gave him an army of 5,000 veteran troops. In the meantime, Shere Mahommed had come within five miles of the British camp, and sent Sir Charles Napier a summons to surrender; he had an army of 20,000 men in an extremely strong position. Nothing daunted, Sir Charles Napier attacked the enemy. His plan of action was altered, on account of an unauthorised attack made by Colonel Stark with his cavalry, in consequence of the giving way of the centre before an onset of the Irish regiment. The cavalry charge, the result of a sudden inspiration, was brilliantly successful. The cavalry swept everything before them, and carried confusion and dismay into the rear of the enemy's centre. The British general instantly took advantage of this success, and, changing his plan, he led on the Irish infantry to storm the first nullah. After a fierce resistance, the scarp was mounted, and Lieutenant Coote fell wounded while in the act of waving the Beloochee standard in triumph on the summit. The Sepoys were equally successful in storming the second nullah, which was bravely defended, but ultimately carried with great loss to the enemy, who were routed in all directions, their retreating ranks being mowed down by the artillery, and pursued by the cavalry for a distance of several miles. The loss of the British in this great victory was only 270 men. Although the heat was then 110° in the shade, Sir Charles Napier rapidly pursued the enemy, so that his cavalry arrived at Meerpoor, a distance of forty miles, before Shere Mahommed could reach it. It was his capitalstrongly fortified, filled with stores of all kindsand it fell without resistance into the hands of the British general. Shere Mahommed had retreated to the stronghold of Omerkote, in the desert. Thither he was pursued by Captain Whitlie, at the head of the Light Horse. The Ameer fled with some horsemen into the desert. The garrison that remained, after a few shots, pulled down their colours, and, on the 4th of April, the British standard waved on the towers of Omerkote.