中国经济的韧性尹同跃:根深才能叶茂

Whilst the French armies had been carrying bloodshed and misery into the countries around them, their brethren at home had been equally[436] busy in pushing forward those mutual hatreds which appeared likely to end in the extermination of the whole race of revolutionists. The Girondists being destroyed, new divisions showed themselves in those who had hitherto been alliesRobespierre and his coadjutors. Hbert, Chaumette, Clootz, Ronsin, and others, began to raise their heels against their chief, and their chief doomed every one of them to the guillotine. His most important victim was Danton, a man by no means contemptible (guillotined April 5th, 1794).

CHAPTER XIII. THE REIGN OF VICTORIA.

The introduction of the steam-engine, railroads, and canals enabled the coal-miners during this reign to extend the supply of coals enormously. In 1792 the coal-mines of Durham and Northumberland alone maintained twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty persons, and employed a capital of three million one hundred and thirty thousand poundsa very small amount of both people and money as compared with the workers and capital engaged in the trade since the expansion of the manufacturing and steam systems. The coal-fields of Durham and Northumberland extend to nearly eight hundred square miles, but the beds in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, the Midland Counties, South of Scotland, and Ireland, are still immense and not yet fully explored. Fresh strata are discovered as steam power enables us to go deeper. In 1817 Sir Humphry Davy perfected his safety-lamp, which, by means of a simple wire gauze, enabled the miner to work amid the most explosive gases. These lamps, however, were not able to protect the colliers from their own carelessness, and most horrible destruction, from time to time, took place amongst them from neglect.

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.

The Ministerial statement was anticipated with great interest. It was delivered by the new Premier, on the evening of the 22nd, Brougham presiding as Lord Chancellor. Foremost and most conspicuous in his programme was the question of Parliamentary Reform; next, economy and peace. Having gone in detail through the principles of[325] his policy, and the reforms he proposed to introduce, the noble lord summed up all in the following words:"The principles on which I now stand, and upon which the Administration is prepared to act, arethe amelioration of existing abuses; the promotion of the most rigid economy in every branch of the public expenditure; and lastly, every endeavour that can be made by Government to preserve peace, consistent with the honour and character of the country. Upon these principles I have undertaken an office to which I have neither the affectation nor presumption to state that I am equal. I have arrived at a period of life when retirement is more to be desired than active employment; and I can assure your lordships that I should not have emerged from it had I not foundmay I be permitted to say thus much without incurring the charge of vanity or arrogance?had I not found myself, owing to accidental circumstances, certainly not to any merit of my own, placed in a situation in which, if I had declined the task, I had every reason to believe that any attempt to form a new Government on principles which I could support would have been unsuccessful. Urged by these considerations, being at the same time aware of my own inability, but acting in accordance with my sense of public duty, I have undertaken the Government of the country at the present momentous crisis."

Not one of these monarchs, whose subjects had shed their blood and laid down their lives by hundreds of thousands to replace them in their power, had in return given these subjects a recompense by the institution of a more liberal form of government. The German kings and princes had openly promised such constitutions to induce them to expel Buonaparte; and, this accomplished, they shamefully broke their word. As Lord Byron well observed, we had put down one tyrant only to establish ten. In Spain, where we had made such stupendous exertions to restore Ferdinand, that monarch entered about the end of March; and his arrival was a signal for all the old royalists and priests to gather round him, and to insist on the annihilation of the Constitution made by the Cortes. He went to Gerona, where he was joined by General Elio and forty thousand men. Thence he marched to Saragossa and Valencia. At that city Te Deum was sung for his restoration, and, surrounded by soldiers and priests, he declared that the Cortes had never been legally convoked; that they had deprived him of the sovereignty, and the nobles and clergy of their status; and that he would not swear to the Constitution which they had prepared. On the 12th of May he entered his capital, amid the most frantic joy of the ignorant populace, and proceeded at once to seize all Liberal members of the Cortes, and throw them into prison. Wellington hastened to Madrid, and with his brother, Sir Henry Wellesley, the British Ambassador, and General Whittingham, in vain urged on Ferdinand to establish a liberal constitution, and govern on liberal principles. It was clear there was a time of terrible and bloody strife before Spain between the old tyrannies and superstitions and the new ideas.

NELSON AT THE BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN. (See p. 481.)

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.