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Skibbereen was described as "one mass of famine, disease, and death; the poor rapidly sinking under fever, dysentery, and starvation." There, as early as the first week in February, 1847, there was constant use for a coffin with movable sides, in which the dead were borne to the grave, and there dropped into their last resting-place. On the whole, the resignation of this stricken people was something wonderful. Outrage was rare, and the violations of the rights of property were not at all so numerous as might have been expected from persons rendered desperate by hunger; and where such things occurred, the depredators were not those who suffered the severest distress. But as the famine proceeded in its desolating course, and people became familiar with its horrors, the demoralising effects of which we have read in such visitations were exhibited in Ireland also. Next to the French, the Irish have been remarkable for their attention to the dead, as well as for the strength of their domestic affections. They had a decent pride in having a respectable "wake" and funeral when they lost any member of the family; and however great their privations were, they made an effort to spare something for the last sad tokens of respect for those they loved. But now there was no mourning for the dead, and but little attention paid to the dying. The ancient and deep-rooted custom with regard to funerals was "swept away like chaff before the wind." The funerals were rarely attended by more than three or four relatives or friends. Sometimes the work of burial was left entirely to persons hired to do it, and in many cases it was not done at all for five or six days after death, and then it was only by threats and rewards that any persons could be got to perform the dangerous duty.In the House of Lords the Earl of Aberdeen, Foreign Secretary in the late Government, strongly censured our foreign policy with regard to Northern Italy. He spoke with delight of the brilliant victories and rare generosity of Radetzky, and warmly eulogised the administration of the Austrian dominions in Italy. Lord Brougham spoke strongly on the same side with Lord Aberdeen, indignantly condemning the Italian policy of the Government. On the 20th of July he moved a set of resolutions on the subject, in which he also praised Austria, as being just and moderate, while Sardinia was aggressive and faithless. He spoke of "the terrible tyranny established by those firebrands of revolution, Mazzini and Garibaldi." He considered that an eternal debt of gratitude was due to General Oudinot, for conducting the siege in such a manner as to avoid any waste of blood, and to preserve the treasures of art of which that city was the repository. With reference to Southern Italy he protested against the conduct, not only of our regular diplomatic body, but of "that mongrel sort of monsterhalf nautical, half politicaldiplomatic vice-admirals, speculative ship captains, observers of rebellions, and sympathisers therewith;" the officers alluded to being Lord Napier, Sir William Parker, and Captain Codrington. The Earl of Carlisle, in reply to Lord Brougham, ably defended the conduct of our diplomatists and officers throughout the Sicilian contest, and repelled the sarcasms with which they were assailed. He vindicated the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston, and called upon the House to reject "the illogical and unmeaning" resolutions of Lord Brougham. Lord Minto, also, at length defended the course he had taken. The Marquis of Lansdowne, while willing to rest the defence of the Government upon the able speech of Lord Carlisle, made some remarks in answer to the charge of partiality brought by the Earl of Aberdeen against Lord Minto, after which the House divided, when the resolutions of Lord Brougham were rejected by a majority of 12.
As at Eylau, so at Friedland, Napoleon made no attempt to follow the Russians. But the battle, nevertheless, produced important consequences. The King of Prussia did not think himself safe at K?nigsberg, and he evacuated it; and the unhappy queen prepared, with her children, to fly to Riga. The Russians retreated to Tilsit, and there Alexander made up his mind to negotiate with Napoleon. He was far from being in a condition to despair; Gustavus, the King of Sweden, was at the head of a considerable army at Stralsund; a British expedition was daily expected in the Baltic; the spirit of resistance was reawakening in Prussia; Schill, the gallant partisan leader, was again on horseback, with a numerous body of men, gathered in various quarters; and Hesse, Hanover, Brunswick, and other German provinces were prompt for revolt on the least occasion of encouragement. Buonaparte felt the peril of crossing the Niemen, and advancing into the vast deserts of Russia, with these dangerous elements in his rear. Besides, his presence was necessary in France. He had been absent from it nearly a year; he had drawn heavily on its resources, and a too long-continued strain without his personal influence might produce fatal consequences. To leave his army in the North was to leave it to certain defeat, and with the danger of having all Germany again in arms. These circumstances, well weighed by a man of genius and determination, would have induced him to make a resolute stand, and to draw his enemy into those wilds where he afterwards ruined himself, or to wear him out by delay. Alexander, however, had not the necessary qualities for such a policy of procrastination. He was now depressed by the sufferings of his army, and indignant against Britain.
The fleet sailed from the Downs on the 28th of July, 1809, and on the 30th it touched at the islands of South Beveland and Walcheren. The orders of the Government were, "the capture or destruction of the enemy's ships, building or afloat at Antwerp and Flushing; the destruction of the arsenals at Antwerp, Terneuse, and Flushing; the reduction of the island of Walcheren, and, if possible, the rendering of the Scheldt no longer navigable for ships." Nelson, who had contemplated this enterprise, had calculated that it would require four or five thousand men, and could be accomplished in a week. But now Buonaparte had rendered the task more difficult, and there was no Nelson to do it. The most sagacious of the officers pointed out that the first rush should be for Antwerp, as the extreme point of the expedition, so as to destroy or capture the vessels there before the French could come to the rescue. The places nearer to the sea could be taken in returning. Had the troops landed at Blankenberg, they could have made a rapid march along a paved road through Bruges and Ghent, and captured Antwerp, only forty-five miles distant, whilst the fleet ascended the Scheldt to receive them on their return; but no such common-sense ideas found acceptance with the commanders. They determined to reduce Flushing first, and the other forts on the Scheldt, as Lillo and Liefkenshoek, in succession, by which time it was certain that the French would appear at Antwerp in numbers sufficient to protect it. Flushing was attacked on the 1st of August, and did not surrender till the 16th. Had this been the reduction of Antwerp, the rest of the objects of the expedition would have followed of course; but Lord Chatham and Rear-Admiral Strachan were in no hurry. They remained signing the capitulation, securing six thousand prisoners that they had taken, and reducing two small islands to the north of the eastern Scheldt, till the 21st (three whole weeks virtually wasted!), and on the 23rd they landed at Ter Goes, on the neighbouring island of South Beveland. Here, again, they delayed another precious fortnight, whilst the French were planting batteries at every turn of the river between them and Antwerp; had drawn a boom-chain across the channel between Lillo and Liefkenshoek; and had sunk vessels to obstruct the narrowest part of the channel beyond. They still talked of forcing their way to Antwerp; but according to a satiric rhyme of the time[See larger version]
out from Bonnyrigg Four Corners. Amasai stayed up all night toSixth-hour bell--I must go to the laboratory and look into a little
At the opening of the Session of 1836, as we have seen, the king stated in his Speech that a further report of the commission of inquiry into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland would be speedily laid before Parliament. "You will approach this subject," he said, "with the caution due to its importance and difficulty; and the experience of the salutary effect produced by the Act for the amendment of the laws relating to the poor in England and Wales may in many respects assist your deliberations." On the 9th of February Sir Richard Musgrave moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the relief of the poor in Ireland in certain cases, stating that he himself lived in an atmosphere of misery, and being compelled to witness it daily, he was determined to pursue the subject, to see whether any and what relief could be procured from Parliament. A few days later another motion was made by the member for Stroud for leave to introduce a Bill for the relief and employment of the poor of Ireland; and on the 3rd of March a Bill was submitted by Mr. Smith O'Brien, framed upon the principles of local administration by bodies representing the ratepayers, and a general central supervision and control on the part of a body named by the Government, and responsible to Parliament. On the 4th of May Mr. Poulett Scrope, a gentleman who had given great attention to questions connected with the poor and the working classes, moved a series of resolutions affirming the necessity for some provision for the relief of the Irish poor. Lord Morpeth was then Chief Secretary; and in commenting upon these resolutions in the House of Commons, he admitted "that the hideous nature of the evils which prevailed amongst the poorer classes in Ireland called earnestly for redress, and he thought no duty more urgent on the Government and on Parliament than to devise a remedy for them." On the 9th of June following, on the motion for postponing the consideration of Sir Richard Musgrave's Bill, Lord Morpeth again assured the House that the subject was under the immediate consideration of Government, and that he was not without hope of their being enabled to introduce some preparatory measure in the present Session; but, at all events, they would take the first opportunity in the next Session of introducing what he hoped to be a complete and satisfactory measure. Nothing, however, was done during the Session, Government seeming to be puzzled to know what to do with such conflicting testimony on a subject of enormous difficulty.scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams;