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The year 1839 will be always memorable for the establishment of the system of a uniform penny postage, one of those great reforms distinguishing the age in which we live, which are fraught with vast social changes, and are destined to fructify throughout all time with social benefits to the human race. To one mind pre-eminently the British Empire is indebted for the penny postage. We are now so familiar with its advantages, and its reasonableness seems so obvious, that it is not easy to comprehend the difficulties with which Sir Rowland Hill had to contend in convincing the authorities and the public of the wisdom and feasibility of his plan. Mr. Rowland Hill had written a pamphlet on Post Office Reform in 1837. It took for its starting-point the fact that whereas the postal revenue showed for the past twenty years a positive though slight diminution, it ought to have shown an increase of 507,700 a year, in order to have simply kept pace with the growth of population, and an increase of nearly four times that amount in order to have kept pace with the growth of the analogous though far less exorbitant duties imposed on stage coaches. The population in 1815 was 19,552,000; in 1835 it had increased to 25,605,000. The net revenue arising from the Post Office in 1815 was 1,557,291; in 1835 it had decreased to 1,540,300. At this period the rate of postage actually imposed (beyond the limits of the London District Office) varied from fourpence to one and eightpence for a single letter, which was interpreted to mean a single piece of paper, not exceeding an ounce in weight. A second piece of paper or any other enclosure, however small, constituted a double letter. A single sheet of paper, if it at all exceeded an ounce in weight, was charged with fourfold postage. The average charge on inland general post letters was nearly ninepence for each letter. In London the letter-boxes were only open from eight in the morning to seven p.m., and a letter written after that hour on Friday did not reach Uxbridge earlier than Tuesday morning.

The CoronationFears of Eminent MenThe CholeraThe WaverersLord John Russell introduces the third Reform BillIts Progress through the CommonsThe Second Reading carried in the LordsBehind the ScenesFeeling in the CountryDisfranchisement Clauses postponedGrey resignsEbrington's ResolutionWellington attempts to form a MinistryPopular furyThe Run on the BankWellington abandons his postGrey exacts the King's Consent to the creation of PeersThe Opposition withdrawnThe Bill becomes LawThe Irish Reform BillThe Bill in the LordsThe Scottish Reform BillBecomes LawResult of the Reform BillsMr. Stanley in IrelandThe Tithe-proctorThe Church CessTithe Legislation of 1831Irish EducationWyse's ReportStanley's BillIts Provisions for Religious InstructionGeneral ElectionNew ParliamentThe Coercion BillThe Church Temporalities BillThe Poor Law CommissionIts ReportSketch of the Poor Law SystemProvisions of the Poor Law Amendment ActHistory of the Emancipation MovementMr. Stanley's ResolutionsProvisions of the Act of EmancipationThe Dorsetshire LabourersThe Copenhagen Fields MeetingOther Meetings and StrikesSheil and Lord AlthorpO'Connell's Motion on the unionBaron SmithLittleton's Tithe BillMr. Ward's MotionResignation of Mr. Stanley and his FriendsAn Indiscreet Speech of the King'sThe Debate on Mr. Ward's MotionFinal Collapse of the CabinetRetrospect of Lord Grey's Ministry. Buonaparte now prepared for his coronation. Whilst at Mayence, on the Rhinewhere the German princes flocked to pay abject homage to him as their protector, no nations, except Great Britain, Russia, and Sweden, keeping aloofhe despatched one of his aides-de-camp, General Caffarelli, an Italian, to invite the Pope to go to Paris to crown the new emperor and empress. Pius VII. had already been compelled to submit to the terms of the Concordat, which had made such inroads into the ancient power of the Church; and he knew very well that to refuse this request would bring down upon him fresh humiliations. Buonaparte, who affected to imitate Charlemagne as the founder of the French nation, passing over all the kings of France as unworthy of notice, determined to inaugurate the Second Empire by a still bolder stretch of authority than Charlemagne himself. That monarch had condescended to make the journey to Italy to receive the privilege of coronation from Pope Leo; but Buonaparte resolved that poor old Pope Pius VII. should come to him in France. His desire was carried out to the letter, and Pius arrived at Fontainebleau on the 25th of November. The 2nd of December having been fixed for the coronation, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was gorgeously decorated for the occasion, and the ceremony was performed amidst the utmost pomp and magnificence, Napoleon himself putting the crown on his head and then placing the Empress's diadem on the head of the kneeling Josephine. During the whole proceedings the Pope was made to play a secondary part. He simply "assisted" at the function. The ceremony was followed by a profuse creation of marshals and nobles. [138]

These occurrences in Ireland led to hostile demonstrations against the Government in Parliament. On the 7th of March Mr. Shaw, the Recorder of Dublin, as the representative of the Irish Protestants, commenced the campaign by moving for returns of the number of committals, convictions, inquests, rewards, and advertisements for the discovery of offenders in Ireland from 1835 to 1839, in order to enable the House to form a judgment with regard to the actual amount and increase of crime in that country. The debate was adjourned till the following Monday, when it was resumed by Mr. Lefroy, after which the House was counted out, and the question dropped; but it was taken up in the Lords on the 21st of March, when Lord Roden moved for a select Committee of inquiry on the state of Ireland since 1835, with respect to the commission of crime. His speech was a repetition of the usual charges, and the debate is chiefly worthy of notice on account of the elaborate defence by Lord Normanby of his Irish administration. "I am fully aware," said the noble marquis, "of the awful responsibility that would lie upon my head if these charges rested upon evidence at all commensurate with the vehemence of language and earnestness of manner with which they have been brought forward; but they rest upon no such foundation. I am ready, with natural indignation, to prove now, on the floor of this House, that I have grappled with crime wherever I have found it, firmly and unremittingly, and have yielded to none of my predecessors in the successful vindication of the laws." Among the mass of proofs adduced by Lord Normanby, he quoted a vast number of judges' charges, delivered from time to time between 1816 and 1835, which presented only one continuously gloomy picture of the prevailing practice of violence and atrocious outrage. Passing from this melancholy record, he proceeded to refer to numerous addresses of judges delivered on similar occasions since 1835. All of these contained one common topic of congratulationthe comparative lightness of the calendara circumstance, the noble marquis argued, which went far to establish his position, however it might fail to prove the extinction of exceptional cases of heinous crime. With regard to the wholesale liberation of prisoners, Lord Normanby distinctly denied that he had set free any persons detained for serious offences without due inquiry; or that any persons were liberated, merely because he happened to pass through the town, who would not have met with the same indulgence upon facts stated in memorials. "No; this measure," he insisted, "had been adopted upon the conviction that, in the peculiar case of Ireland, after severity had been so often tried, mercy was well worth the experiment. It was one which was not lightly to be repeated; but while he had received satisfactory evidence of the success of the measure, it was in his power to produce the testimony of judges with whom he had no political relations, to the pains taken in the examination of each case, and the deference shown to their reports."

Yet, during this winter, while Massena's army was in a constant state of semi-starvation, badly clothed and badly lodged, and thus wasting away by sickness and desertion, that of Wellington increased in numbers, in physical condition, and in discipline. Whilst Massena's army, originally seventy-one thousand men, was ere long reduced by the battle of Busaco and the miserable quarters in the wet country near Torres Vedras to fifty-five thousand, the forces of Wellington had been augmented, by reinforcements from England, and by the addition of Portuguese and Spanish troops, to fifty-eight thousand. When Massena retreated to Santarem, Wellington followed him to Cartaxo,[607] and there fixed his headquarters, and ordered General Hill to post his division opposite to Santarem, so as to check the enemy's foraging parties in that direction. At the same time, Colonel Trant, who had surprised the French rear as Massena's army was leaving Coimbra on his march after Wellington to Torres Vedras, and had secured the sick and wounded in the hospitals there to the amount of five thousand men, and who retained possession of Coimbra, now joined Sir Robert Wilson and Colonel Millar, who commanded the Portuguese militia, and their united force appeared in Massena's rear, cutting off his communication with the north and also with the Spanish frontier.