《第二战场》 20190825 隐蔽战线的英杰 第四集 无声较量

On assembling his remnant of an army in Brelowa, Buonaparte beheld a state of general disorganisation prevailing. Perishing with cold and hunger, every man was only mindful of himself. In a short time the whole village was pulled down to make camp-fires of the timber, for the weather was fiercely cold. He could scarcely prevent them from stripping off the roof under which he had taken shelter. He set out on his march for Wilna on the 29th of November. The army hurried along without order or discipline, their only care being to outstrip the Russians, who were, like famished wolves, at their heels; the Cossacks continually cutting down numbers of their benumbed and ragged comrades, who went along more like spectres than actual men. The thermometer was at twenty degrees below zero.

The proofs of this prosperity have been exhibited in various other ways. In 1815 the yearly value of dwelling-houses in England and Wales was 14,000,000 for nearly 10,000,000 of people; in 1841 the yearly rental was 23,000,000 for Under 16,000,000 of people; which, reckoning the rental at twenty years' purchase, shows an investment in houses of capital amounting to 180,000,000 in twenty-six years. Counting since the Peace in 1815, it was estimated that the real property of England and Wales in the form of additional dwellings must have absorbed 240,000,000 of capital. Sir Robert Peel, in bringing forward his proposal for an income tax in 1842, assumed the value of real property in Great Britain to be as follows:Rent of land, 39,400,000; rent of houses, 25,000,000; tithes, mines, etc., 8,400,000: total, 72,800,000, which, at twenty-five years' purchase, would be equal to a capital of 1,820,000,000. The annual value of real property actually assessed to the property and income tax in 1843 turned out to be much more than Sir Robert Peel estimated, amounting to more than 95,000,000 a year.

BENJAMIN DISRAELI.

[See larger version] High duties were not the only evils that had been strangling the silk trade. Its chief seat was at Spitalfields, where by the Act of 1811 and other legislation the magistrates had been empowered to fix the rate of wages, and to subject to severe penalties any masters who employed weavers in other districts. The result, said a manufacturers' petition in 1823, is, "that the removal of the entire manufacture from the metropolis is inevitable, if the Acts are to continue any longer in force." However, the journeymen declared that a repeal of the Acts would be followed by the reduction of their wages and the increase of the poor rates. No less than 11,000 petitioned against Huskisson's motion for a repeal, and,[242] though the Bill passed the House of Commons by small majorities, it was so altered by amendments in the Lords that it was abandoned for the Session. But in this remarkable Session of 1824 it was reintroduced and passed through all its stages. As a result the Combination Acts directed against meetings of workmen to affect wages, the Acts which prevented the emigration of artisans, and the laws against the exportation of machinery were brought under discussion by Joseph Hume. The last question was waived for the present, but the laws interfering with the emigration of artisans were repealed without a voice being raised in their favour. As for the Combination Acts, it was ordained that no peaceable meeting of masters or workmen should be prosecuted as a conspiracy, while summary punishments were enacted on those "who by threats, intimidation, or acts of violence interfered with that freedom, which ought to be allowed to each party, of employing his labour or capital in a manner he may deem most advantageous." In consequence, however, of the outrages which occurred during the Glasgow strikes of 1824, during which a workman who disregarded the wishes of his union was shot, and men of one trade were employed to assassinate the masters of another, further legislation was necessary. By the Act of 1825 all associations were made illegal, excepting those for settling such amount of wages as would be a fair remuneration to the workman. Any other combination either of men against masters or of masters against men, or of working men against working men, was made illegal. The law thus framed continued to regulate the relations of capital and labour for nearly half a century.

[333] So successful were they in this endeavour that the Government was in a state of the greatest possible perplexity. Lord Anglesey, the Viceroy, and Lord Leveson Gower, the Chief Secretary, were in continual correspondence with the Home Secretary as to the propriety of adopting measures of repression. Lord Anglesey was decided in his conviction that Emancipation ought to be immediately granted. He was naturally reluctant to employ force, unless it was imperatively necessary, and then he felt with Mr. Peel that it ought to be used effectively, whatever might be the consequences. Neither the Irish nor the English Government concealed from itself what those consequences would probably benamely, an open rebellion, a sanguinary civil war; which, however, they had no doubt of being able to put down. The law officers of the Crown, both in England and Ireland, were called upon for their opinions as to the illegality of the proceedings of the agitators, as to the likelihood of success in case of prosecution, and whether the Government would be warranted, by statute or common law, in dispersing the popular assemblages by force. They agreed on both sides of the channel that the case was not sufficiently clear to justify the Government either in legal proceedings or military repression. The English law officers came to this conclusion although at the time Sir Charles Wetherell was Attorney-General. It is evident, however, from the tone of the correspondence published by Sir Robert Peel's executors, that the Home Secretary was far from being satisfied with the conduct of Lord Anglesey. It was believed that he did not always act with sufficient discretion, and that he sometimes did and said things which made the agitators believe that they had his countenance and support. For example, he went on a visit to Lord Cloncurry, who, though a Protestant, was a member of the Catholic Association, and who a few days after entertaining the representative of the king, attended a meeting of that body. The excuse of Lord Anglesey was, that Lord Cloncurry went for the purpose of preventing the passing of a resolution in favour of exclusive dealing. The opinion of the English Government was shared by Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald and many other Liberal statesmen who sympathised with the irritation of the Irish Protestants at the supineness of the Irish executive. Looking at the state of things at this distance of time, every impartial person must agree that Peel was right. He had urged the propriety of issuing a proclamation by the Lord-Lieutenant in council, warning the people against assembling in large bodies in military array, as exciting alarm in the public mind, and threatening to disturb the peace. When at last Lord Anglesey was induced to adopt this course, it proved successful. The agitators became cowed and cautious, and it was quite evident that nothing was further[285] from their wishes than to come to blows, either with the troops or the Brunswickers. Thus, in November, Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald wrote to Mr. Peel: "The sentiment is universal of disgust, indignation, and alarm at the proceedings of Lord Anglesey's Government, and at the tone of his partisans and his press. Whether the collision will happen so soon as is contemplated I know not. I rather think not. The Association is frightened; and if the demonstrations of the south are interrupted, and Mr. Lawless's progress in the west be not persevered in, it is possible, and it is to be hoped, that the hostile parties may not come to an effusion of blood. But can we read the reports of the meetings that are taking place and expect that before the winter is over the gentry of the country, Emancipators as well as Brunswickers, will not call on the Government to take a part, and to save us from these horrors?" Mr. Leslie Foster, a leading Irish statesman, wrote in the same month: "Depend upon it, let Parliament do what they may, the Catholics will not rebel. Their leaders are more deeply convinced than you are of the utter and immediate ruin that would be the result of any insurrectionary movement; and in every rank among them, down to the lowest, there is a due fear of the power of England, the facilities of a steam invasion, the character of the Duke, and not least, perhaps above all, the readiness of the Ulster Protestants for battle. It is further to be borne in mind that in no period within our memory was the condition of the people so rapidly improving, or their employment so great, as at the present moment; and there is a real, substantial disinclination in consequence, amongst all ranks above the mere rabble, to hazard any course that would involve the country in confusion."