香港将放宽多项防疫措施 5月27日起分阶段复课

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The Company was then compelled to reduce its dividends to six per cent. and apply to Parliament for a loan of a million and a half to meet its pecuniary difficulties. This, Ministers and Parliament complied with, and proceeding to relieve the Company of its embarrassments, Lord North[208] proposed and carried a measure, by which the Company, which had no less than seventeen million pounds of tea in its warehouses, should, without limit of time, be authorised to export its teas to the British colonies of America duty free. This was thought a great and conciliatory boon to the Americans, but it proved otherwise. The import duty of threepence in the pound was still stubbornly retained, and the Americans, looking at the principle of taxation, and not at a mere temptation of a cheapened article, saw through the snare, and indignantly rejected it. The principal tea merchants declared that this would be the case, and that the whole Government scheme was wild and visionary. The Viceroy rejoined with unabated spirit, replying to all the fresh matter introduced by the Duke in a lofty tone of self-justification. There is caustic irony in the following allusion to the king, as an apology for his conciliatory policy:"I[292] have, in fact, been most anxious to imitate, as far as my humble faculties would permit, the example of his Majesty himself during his visit to Ireland, and have scrupulously attended to the king's benign and paternal admonition, when his Majesty quitted the kingdom, to inculcate good fellowship and cordiality among all classes, and to promote conciliation." It is dangerous to use the argumentum ad hominem with a kingstill more so to make his conduct the object of sarcastic allusions; and it was evident that Lord Anglesey could not long remain in the position of a representative of his Majesty. There was certainly an animosity against him in the highest quarters, which appeared in the construction put upon the accidental dropping in of his son and some of his household, from curiosity, to witness, as they thought unnoticed, the debates of the Associationa circumstance which he had long ago explained, and with which he thought it particularly unfair that he should be now upbraided.

While the landed interest were thus showing their determination to maintain, at all hazards, the laws for preventing the importation of foreign corn, a spirit of opposition had been growing up in the large manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, which, though only partially shared in by the working classes, was already significant of the approaching downfall of the system of monopoly. The first use made by Manchester of its constitution as a political borough by the Reform Act was to send to Parliament Mr. Poulett Thomson and Mr. Mark Philips, two members long conspicuous in the House for the zeal and ability with which they supported the principles of Free Trade. The Manchester newspapers generally advocated the same views; and Manchester became regarded as the centre of the Anti-Corn Law agitation. No organised movement, however, had yet been attempted. A series of good harvests from 1832 to 1835 rendered it extremely difficult to arouse public attention to the injustice which the bread law invariably inflicted in less favourable circumstances. Nevertheless, the effort was made. In January, 1834, a meeting of merchants and manufacturers was held in the Manchester Exchange Committee-room, to consider how the cause of Corn Law Repeal was to be forwarded, at which some powerful speeches were delivered by the members for the borough and other speakers of influence. A committee was appointed, which timidly endeavoured to avoid the appearance of a political agitation and finally ended by doing nothing. But soon the desultory opposition to the bread tax of the Manchester Chamber of Commercea body which had only presented one petition on the subject in seven yearswas no longer sufficient to represent the feeling of that great centre of industry. Seven men united themselves in the month of October, 1838, to advocate the freedom of trade. The names of those seven members are now scarcely remembered out of Manchester, with the exception of Mr. Archibald Prentice, the historian of the League, whose newspaper, the Manchester Times, had fought with considerable talent, and with inexhaustible energy on the side of all the great reforms of this important period in our history. In that newspaper for the 13th of October a list of the Provisional Committee of a new Anti-Corn Law Association was for the first time published. It comprised thirty-seven names, chiefly of Manchester manufacturers, and ended with the modest[482] note that "Subscriptions, 5s. each, would be received by the members of that committee." Such was the simple origin of that vast movement which, a few years later, compelled the very chiefs of the landowners' party in Parliament to become the instruments for carrying out measures more sweeping than even the most ardent Free Traders had regarded as possible. But men of influence were beginning to join the movement. The list of the Provisional Committee contained at least one name which afterwards became famousthat of Mr. John Bright. Three of them became members of Parliament at a later date, and another, Mr. George Wilson, was afterwards known as the permanent chairman of the League. Bolingbroke was well aware that a violent strife for power was going on in the British Cabinet. Lord Carteret, the new Secretary of State, and afterwards Earl Granville, was labouring hard to undermine both Walpole and Townshend. He was a very accomplished man and a great linguist, familiar with nearly all the Continental languages, including German, which, strangely enough, the English courtiers neglected, though they had a[51] German monarch on the throne who could not speak English. German then was regarded as a language rude and even vulgara tongue, as Voltaire afterwards said, "only fit for horses." But Carteret, by being master of it, could converse freely with the king, whilst Walpole, ignorant, too, of French, could hold communication with him only in Latin, which, from the wide difference between the English and foreign pronunciation of it, could not have been a very favourable medium. Carteret had ingratiated himself so much with the king by conversing in German, and flattering George's German tastes and politics, that he had succeeded to the influence which Stanhope had formerly possessed. He had also secured the same influence in the Court of Paris. He had by that means confirmed the appointment of Sir Luke Schaub at that Court, and thus kept open the most favourable communication with the Abb Dubois. The Courts of England and France continued during Dubois' life in close connection, and through the influence of George and his Ministers, Dubois obtained first the Archbishop's mitre, and then the Cardinal's hat.

The prince found in the Opposition in England the most unfortunate fosterers of his unfilial temper. Pulteney, Wyndham, Chesterfield, Carteret, Cobham, and, worst of all, Bolingbroke, became his associates, and the frequenters of his house. Fast ripening into a pattern of unfilial popularity under such influences, possessing some accomplishments, and a desire to stand well with the people, he married in April, 1736, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, a princess of so much beauty and good sense, as might have reclaimed many a nature; who seems to have at least won the heart of her husband from his former romantic passion. It was an ominous circumstance, however, that the address of congratulation on this occasion was moved, not by the king's own Ministers, but by the king's own Opposition. Pulteney was the mover, and it was supported by two young men who that evening made their first speeches, and in them burst suddenly forth with that splendour which was destined to grow transcendent through many years. They were Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, and Lord Lyttelton.