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[See larger version]Affairs had now assumed such an aspect that the different sections of the Opposition saw the necessity of coalescing more, and attending zealously; but still they were divided as to the means to be pursued. A great meeting was held on the 27th of November at the Marquis of Rockingham's, to decide on a plan of action. It was concluded to move for a committee on the state of the nation, and Chatham being applied to, advised that the very next day notice should be given that such a motion should be made on Tuesday next, the 2nd of December. The motion was made, the committee granted, and in it the Duke of Richmond moved for the production of the returns of the army and navy in America and Ireland. Whilst Lord Northwho, if he had been his own master, would have resignedwas refusing to produce the necessary papers, the Lords consented to this measure; and at this very moment came news of the surrender at Saratoga, which was speedily confirmed.
** Commission de Lieutenant Gnral en Canada, etc., pour
Napoleon marched triumphantly forwards towards Berlin. In Leipzic he confiscated British merchandise to the value of about three millions sterling. He entered Berlin on the 27th of October. As he traversed the field of Rossbach, where Frederick the Great had annihilated a French army, he ordered his soldiers to destroy the small column that commemorated that event. He took up his residence in the palace of the King of Prussia at Berlin. The wounded and blind Duke of Brunswick entreated of the conqueror that his hereditary State of Brunswick might be left him, but Buonaparte refused in harsh and insulting terms. Moreover, he ordered his troops to march on that territory and town, and the dying duke was compelled to be carried away on a litter by men hired for the purpose, for all his officers and domestics had deserted him. Buonaparte had a particular pleasure in persecuting this unhappy man, because he was brother-in-law to George III. and father-in-law to the heir to the British Crown; but he also wanted his dukedom to add to the kingdom of Westphalia, which he was planning for his brother Jerome. The duke's son requested of Buonaparte leave to lay his body in the tomb of his ancestors, but the ruthless tyrant refused this petition with the same savage bluntness, and the young duke vowed eternal vengeance, and, if he did not quite live to discharge his oath, his black Brunswickers did it at Waterloo. * The above is drawn from the two memorials of Gaudais and
This was a broad indication of the French seizing, under the pretence of propagating liberty, on what had been called the natural boundaries of France in the time of Louis XIV.,namely, the Rhine and the Alps, thus including Belgium, part of Holland, Nice, and Savoy. They dispatched emissaries to Victor Amadeus, the King of Sardinia, offering to drive the Austrians out of Italy, and give Italy to the Italians. As they had, however, previously sent numbers of their Jacobin propagandists to inoculate his people with Republicanism, the king refused their offers, and forbade General Semonville to enter the country. On this, the Convention proclaimed war against him, and ordered Montesquieu to invade Nice and Savoy. With an army of fifteen thousand men and twenty pieces of artillery, Montesquieu entered Savoy, and the few Savoyard troops being unable to compete with him, the people, moreover, being already prepared by French Republicans, he overran the country, entered Chambry in triumph, and occupied the province to the foot of Mont Cenis. Elated by the successes of these campaigns, the French Convention passed a decree, declaring that it would grant succour and fraternity to all peoples desirous of recovering their liberty; it ordered its generals to give such aid to all citizens who were, or might be, harshly treated on account of their desire for liberty; and the generals were instructed to post this decree in all public places to which they should carry the arms of the Republic. Two days afterwards Savoy was formed into a new department as the Department of Mont Blanc.
The commandant next turned his quarters into a dram-shop for Indians, to whom he sold brandy in large quantities, but so diluted that his customers, finding themselves partially defrauded of their right of intoxication, complained grievously. About this time the intendant Talon made one of his domiciliary visits to Montreal, and when, in his character of father of the people, he inquired if they had any complaints to make, every tongue was loud in accusation against La Fredire. Talon caused full depositions to be made out from the statements of Demers and other witnesses. Copies were deposited in the hands of the notary, and it is from these that the above story is drawn. The tyrant was removed, and ordered home to France. *
But the League did more than attempt to convert the country party. They determined to create a country party of their own. They had already taken up the registration of voters in the boroughs, from which they proceeded, with that practical common sense which had distinguished nearly all their movements, to inquire into the position of the country constituencies, where hitherto the landowners had held undisputed sway. The scheme which resulted from this incursion into the dominions of the enemy was developed by Mr. Cobden at a meeting in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, on the 24th of October, 1844. The Chandos clause in the Reform Act, giving the tenant-farmers votes for county members, had so strengthened the landlords' influence in the county that opposition at most of the county elections was hopeless. But Mr. Cobden showed his hearers that the counties were really more vulnerable than the small pocket boroughs. In many of these there was no increase from year to year in the number of votersno extension of houses. The whole property belonged to a neighbouring noble, and as Mr. Cobden said, "You could no more touch the votes which he held through the property than you could touch the balance in his banker's hands." But the county constituency might be increased indefinitely, for there it required but a freehold property of the value of forty shillings a year to give a man a vote. This sum had been adopted from an ancient regulation, when money was of far greater value, and land of far less money worth than it was then; but the forty-shilling qualification existed, and was a powerful engine for the creation of voters. Up to that time it had had but little effect. The laws of England, but more especially the habits and prejudices of landowners, had always kept the land of the county in so few hands as to present an extraordinary contrast with the condition of things in all other nations of Europe. The danger of the forty-shilling clause to aristocratic influence in the county was not perceived, simply because forty-shilling freeholders were rare. But there was no reason why they should be rare. The passion for possessing freehold land was widely spread, and a few facilities offered for purchasing it would soon create a large number of small holders. The chief difficulty in the way of this had hitherto been the great cost of transferring land. Owing to the complicated laws of real property, the land, unlike other articles, could only be bought and sold after a minute investigation into the owner's title, which necessitated an historical account of the ownership extending back over many years. All this, however, the League could easily obviate. They could buy land in the lump, register its title once for all, and part it into small pieces for small buyers. "This," remarked Mr. Cobden, "must be done," and it was done. The Conservative party sneered at the Manchester man's proposition of serving land over a counter, like calico, by the yard; but the movement soon began to tell upon elections, and to alarm the great landed proprietors.