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[See larger version]As in the whole history of the world, perhaps, so great a calamity as the Irish famine never called for sympathy and relief, so never was a more generous response elicited by any appeal to humanity. The Government and the Legislature did all that was possible with the means at their disposal, and the machinery that already existed, or could be hastily constructed, to meet the overwhelming emergency. The newly established Poor Law system, though useful as far as it went, was quite inadequate to meet such great distress. It had been passed while the country was comparatively prosperous, and contained no provision for such a social disorganisation as this famine. By the Acts of 1 and 2 Victoria, c. 56, no outdoor relief whatever could be given in any circumstances. The size of the unions was also a great impediment to the working of the Poor Law. They were three times the extent of the corresponding divisions in England. In Munster and Connaught, where there was the greatest amount of destitution and the least amount of local agency available for its relief, the unions were much larger than in the more favoured provinces of Ulster and Leinster. The union of Ballina comprised a region of upwards of half a million acres, and within its desert tracts the famine assumed its most appalling form, the workhouse being more than forty miles distant from some of the sufferers. As a measure of precaution, the Government had secretly imported and stored a large quantity of Indian corn, as a cheap substitute for the potato, which would have served the purpose much better had the people been instructed in the best modes of cooking it. It was placed in commissariat dep?ts along the western coast of the island, where the people were not likely to be supplied on reasonable terms through the ordinary channels of trade. The public works consisted principally of roads, on which the people were employed as a sort of supplement to the Poor Law. Half the cost was a free grant from the Treasury, and the other half was charged upon the barony in which the works were undertaken. The expense incurred under the Labour Rate Act, 9 and 10 Victoria, c. 107," amounted to 4,766,789. It was almost universally admitted, when the pressure was over, that the system of public works adopted was a great mistake; and it seems wonderful that such grievous blunders could have been made with so many able statesmen and political economists at the head of affairs and in the service of the Government. The public works undertaken consisted in the breaking up of good roads to level hills and fill hollows, and the opening of new roads in places where they were not requiredwork which the people felt to be useless, and which they performed only under strong compulsion, being obliged to walk to them in all weathers for miles, in order to earn the price of a breakfast of Indian meal. Had the labour thus comparatively wasted been devoted to the draining, subsoiling, and fencing of the farms, connected with a comprehensive system of arterial drainage, immense and lasting benefit to the country would have been the result, especially as works so well calculated to ameliorate the soil and guard against the moisture of the climate might have been connected with a system of instruction in agricultural matters of which the peasantry stood so much in need, and to the removal of the gross ignorance which had so largely contributed to bring about the famine. As it was, enormous sums were wasted. Much needless hardship was inflicted on the starving people in compelling them to work in frost and rain when they were scarcely able to walk, and, after all the vast outlay, very few traces of it remained in permanent improvements on the face of the country. The system of Government relief works failed chiefly through the same difficulty which impedes every mode of relief, whether public or privatenamely, the want of machinery to work it. It was impossible suddenly to procure an efficient staff of officers for an undertaking of such enormous magnitudethe employment of a whole people. The overseers were necessarily selected in haste; many of them were corrupt, and encouraged the misconduct of the labourers. In many cases the relief committees, unable to prevent maladministration, yielded to the torrent of corruption, and individual members only sought to benefit their own dependents. The people everywhere flocked to the public works; labourers, cottiers, artisans, fishermen, farmers, men, women, and childrenall, whether destitute or not, sought for a share of the public money. In such a crowd it was almost impossible to discriminate properly. They congregated in masses on the roads, idling under the name of work, the really destitute often unheeded and unrelieved because they had no friend to recommend them. All the ordinary employments were neglected; there was no fishing, no gathering of seaweed, no collecting of manure. The men who had employment feared to lose it by absenting themselves for any other object; those unemployed spent their time in seeking to obtain it. The whole industry of the country seemed to be engaged in road-making. It became absolutely necessary to put an end to it, or the cultivation of the land would be neglected. Works undertaken on the spur of the momentnot because they were needful, but merely to employ the peoplewere in many cases ill-chosen, and the execution equally defective. The workers, desirous to protect their employment, were only anxious to give as little labour as possible, in which their overlookers or gangers in many cases heartily agreed. The favouritism, the intimidation, the wholesale jobbing practised in many cases were shockingly demoralising. The problem was to support 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 of destitute persons, and this was in a great measure effected, though at an enormous cost to the empire.
appointed but who had not arrived.
The king, who had set out on his long-premeditated visit to Ireland, leaving his wife on her death-bed, was already at Holyhead when he received the tidings of her decease. From that port Lord Londonderry wrote a note to the Lord Chancellor, in which he said, "I add this private note to the letter which the king has directed me to write, to say that his Majesty is quite well, and has evinced, since the intelligence of the queen's death was received, every disposition to conform to such arrangements and observances as might be deemed most becoming upon an occasion which cannot be regarded in any other light than as the greatest of all possible deliverances, both to his Majesty and to the country. The king feels assured that the events to which my letters refer, once in your hands, will be sifted to the bottom and wisely decided; and to the advice he may receive there will be every disposition on his Majesty's part to conform; but where papers connected with his daughter, as well as other branches of his family, are in question, your lordship will estimate the deep interest the king takes in your giving the whole your best consideration."[See larger version]
The languor of commerce made agriculture languish. It is of no use now, writes Meules,
Buonaparte apparently lost no time, after his return to Paris from Sch?nbrunn, in communicating to Josephine the fact that the business of the divorce and the new marriage was settled. On the 30th of November, 1809, he opened the unpleasant reality to her in a private interview, and she fell into such violent agitation, and finally into so deep a swoon, as to alarm Napoleon. He blamed Hortense for not having broken the matter to her three days before, as he had desired. But however much Napoleon might be affected at this rude disruption of an old and endeared tie, his feelings never stood in the way of his ambitious plans. The preparations for the divorce went on, and on the 15th of December a grand council was held in the Tuileries on the subject. At this important council all the family of Napoleon, his brothers and sisters, now all kings and queens, were summoned from their kingdoms to attend, and did attend, except Joseph from Spain, Madame Bacciochithat is, Eliseand Lucien, who had refused to be made a king. Cambacrs, now Duke of Parma and arch-chancellor of the Empire, and St. Jean d'Angly, the Minister of State, attended to take the depositions. Napoleon then said a few words expressive of his grief at this sad but necessary act, of affection for and admiration of the wife he was about to put away, and of his hope of a posterity to fill his throne, saying he was yet but forty, and might reasonably expect to live to train up children who should prove a blessing to the empire. Josephine, with a voice choked with tears, arose, and, in a short speech, made the act a voluntary one on her part. After this the arch-chancellor presented the written instrument of divorce, which they signed, and to which all the family appended their signatures. This act was presented to the Senate the very next day by St. Jean d'Angly, and, strangely enough, Eugene Beauharnais, Josephine's son, was chosen to second it, which he did in a speech of some length. The Senate passed the necessary Senatus Consultum, certifying the divorce, and conferring on Josephine the title of empress-queen, with the estate of Navarre and two millions of francs per annum. They also voted addresses to both Napoleon and Josephine of the most complimentary character. This being done, Napoleon went off to St. Cloud, and Josephine retired to the beautiful abode of Malmaison, near St. Germains, where she continued to reside for the remainder of her life, and made herself beloved for her acts of kindness and benevolence, of which the English dtenus, of whom there were several at St. Germains, were participants.THE DEATH OF NELSON, 1805.
Washington found no rest at Princeton. Cornwallis no sooner heard the cannonading near Princeton than he immediately comprehended Washington's ruse, and, alarmed for his magazines at New Brunswick, he hastened in that direction. Washington, aware of his approach, found it necessary to give up the attempt on New Brunswick. He therefore hastened across Millstone river, broke down the bridge behind him to stop pursuit, and posted himself on the high ground at Morristown, where there were very strong positions. Here he received additional troops, and entrenched himself. Cornwallis, not aware of the real weakness of Washington's army despite all its additions, again sat down quietly for the winter at New Brunswick. For six months the British army now lay still. Washington, however, lost no time in scouring all quarters of the Jerseys. He made himself master of the coast opposite Staten Island, and seized on Newark, Elizabeth Town, and Woodbridge. The inhabitants had been plundered by the Hessians and English, and now they were plundered again by their own countrymen for having received the English well. Washington exerted himself to suppress this rancorous conduct of the New England and Virginian troops, and issued a proclamation absolving the people of their oaths to the English, and promising them protection on their taking a new oath to Congress. The people of the Jerseys gladly accepted this offer.