Blackwood's Magazine/Volume 1/Issue 1/Foreign Intelligence
In the Chamber of Deputies, on the 8th January, the Election Law, consisting of twenty Articles, was passed by a majority of 132 against 100. The main question for discussion was, Shall the Deputies be chosen by the electors directly, or shall the great body of electors name a certain number from among themselves, by whom the Deputies shall be chosen? By this law the Deputies are to be chosen directly by the electors in one single assembly, as in England. All Frenchmen who have attained the age of thirty, and pay 300 francs of taxes per annum, are to be allowed to vote.
A royal ordinance, dated the 8th of January, contains the following article: "Every vessel, whether French or Foreign, which shall attempt to introduce into any of our colonies Blacks for sale, shall be confiscated; and if French, the captain shall be held incapable of holding a command."
The Houses of Lafitte of Paris, Barings of London, Parish of Hamburgh, and Hopes of Amsterdam, have taken upon themselves the advance of the loan wanted by France, which is 12,000,000 British, or 300,000,000 of francs. Report adds, that one half will be required in money, and the other half in provisions and clothing. The Gazette de France states, that this loan was finally signed on the 13th February.
On the 9th of January, M. de Serre brought up the report of the Committee on the law relative to personal liberty. It is a modification of that of last year, and enables the crown to confine, under specific forms, persons suspected of conspiring or attempting the overthrow of the established constitution. After a debate of several days this law was carried in the Chamber of Deputies by 136 to 92.
In the Chamber of Deputies the debate on the law respecting the public journals is terminated. It was voted by a majority of 128 against 89. All the journals of France are thus rendered dependent upon the king's authority, by which any of them may be immediately suppressed.
By the first April 30,000 of the allied troops, being one fifth of the whole, will quit the French territory. The official note of the four plenipotentiaries of Austria, England, Prussia, and Russia, declares, That the high personal character of the king, and the principles and conduct of his present ministry, together with the sanction of the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, are the sole causes of the relief thus afforded to France.
In the Chamber of Deputies the ministers were left in a minority of 89 to 108, on the important question of what we would call the Navy Estimates. The minister of that department had calculated upon a grant of 50,000,000 of francs. He had already appropriated upwards of 48,000,000; but the commission appointed to report upon the loan recommended 44,000,000, and this sum was carried by the numbers above cited. The Chamber has at length finally agreed to the budget by a majority of 47. The total expenditure of that country is fixed at about £45,000,000 sterling.
Jan. 15.—The king has created a large number of knights of St Michael, for the purpose of distinguishing men who hare rendered themselves celebrated in literature, science, and the arts, or by useful discoveries. This does great honour to the king. It is the only order of knighthood, we believe in Europe, that pays such a tribute of honour and respect to those who may well be called the benefactors of mankind.
Application it is said has been made by the French government to our ministers, for issuing the usual orders to our settlements, for giving facility to an expedition under Mons. Freycinet, consisting of the Uranie frigate and a corvette, about to sail from France to finish their survey of New Holland.
The price of provisions at Boulogne is thus given, in a letter from an officer to his friend at Christchurch, dated the 5th March. A leg of mutton from 7½d. to 8d. per lib.; beef and pork, 7d; inferior sorts, 5d.; poultry very dear; wild fowl cheap; a good widgeon or wild duck, from 6d. to 9d.; a pair of very good soles, 1Od. which is considered dear; a turbot, from 8 lb. to 10 lb. for 2s 6d. or 3s.; 26 eggs for 1Od; vegetables very cheap: all articles of living are one-third dearer than in June 1816.
In the Chamber of Deputies, March 5th, 4,000,000 francs were appropriated from the revenue arising from the sale of the national forests for the support of the church. On the law respecting the customs, ministers had a majority of 134. This act is intended to exclude, by heavy duties, the import of cottons, sugar, and iron.
The Moniteur of the 22d March contains the new law relating to bills of exchange, as passed by the two Chambers, and sanctioned by the royal assent. It enacts, that the holder of a bill of exchange, drawn on the Continent or islands of Europe, and payable in the European territories of France, whether payable at sight, or at one or more days or months, or usages at sight, must demand payment or acceptance within six months from its date, on forfeiture of all claim upon the endorsers, or even the drawer, if the latter has made provision for it.
March 26.—Chamber of Peers.—The Duke of Richelieu and the Duke of Feltre were introduced. The former delivered to the president his majesty's proclamation, conceived in the following terms:—
Louis, by the Grace of God, &c.
The session for 1816 of the Chamber of Peers and the Chamber of Deputies is and remains closed.
Thuilleries, March 26, 1817.
The Chamber broke up immediately after the proclamation had been read.
Intelligence has been received at Amsterdam, that the Dutch commissioners received the island of Java from the English on the 19th of August.
On the 19th of February, at Brussels, the Princess of Orange was delivered of a son, who is to take the title of Duke of Brabant.
The States General have finally rejected a proposition for prohibiting the exportation of grain.
The Dutch papers communicate a measure calculated to injure, if not to ruin, the trade at Antwerp. A toll is ordered to be collected upon all vessels entering or leaving the Scheldt, in addition to the custom-house duties. Its weight is represented as incompatible, not only with any prosperous commerce, but with any other intention than that of destroying it, for the toll is seven times greater than the freight of goods brought from a short distance—England for instance. The king has been petitioned for its removal, and the latest reports give reason to believe that the application has been successful.
The episcopal Prince de Broglie at Ghent, still occupies the public attention, by refusing to acknowledge the temporal supremacy of the crown. Shortly after Bonaparte assumed the imperial diadem, this prelate ventured to act upon the same principle; but the Emperor, as jealous as himself of his authority, conveyed orders to M. d'Houdelot, the prefect, and to M. d'Erlaburath, the general of division, to put the bishop under military arrest, and to compose a regiment of the numerous seminarists who embrace the orthodox tenets of their unbending pastor. This ridiculous scene really took place. The youths "un peu gauches," in their black robes, were marched to the place publique, and, in the presence of an immense multitude, were marched and countermarched, and taught all the evolutions of military discipline by corporals and Serjeants of the national guard. In the night they were quartered in barracks, and were not permitted to return to their holy duties before a month or six weeks. This measure was arbitrary; but during the whole reign of Napoleon, the name of the Prince de Broglie never once reached the public ear.
The strict prohibition of journals published in England or the Netherlands, which had for some time been suspended, is renewed with great severity, probably on account of the popular discontent manifested at some late acts of the government. The frequent arrest for political offences is said to be regarded with particular disgust.
Letters from Spain of the 4th Feb. state, that in consequence of a new impost levied on charcoal at Valencia, which bore very hard on the poor in the winter season, the people murmured, and at last deputed commissioners to wait on the governor (Elio) with their complaints. Instead of listening to them, Elio put the commissioners in prison; the people rushed to arms, and liberated them; and the governor, in his turn, was obliged to fly to the citadel. The insurgents kept possession of the city all the 17th January; but on the 18th, supplies of troops arriving, they were overpowered, and the governor liberated. He attempted to put to death some of the rioters without trial, but the judges of the High Court of Justice declared, they could allow no citizens to be executed without a trial. The governor threatened to imprison the judges. The citizens were emboldened by this vigorous conduct of the judges, and affairs wore so serious an aspect, that Elio posted off to Madrid to lay the matter before the king.
The report of some commotions having arisen in Valencia, agrees very well with what we know of the present state of popular feeling in Spain, viewed in connection with such instances as the following, of the cruelty of their semi-barbarous government.—"Pamplona, Feb. 10th. On the 2d, 3d, and 4th of this month, and in the prison of this city, the torture was inflicted on Captain Olivan, who for this purpose was brought down from the citadel, where he had been confined during eight months, merely because he was suspected of disaffection to government. Amidst the most excruciating pangs, no other than energetic declarations of his own innocence were heard, as well as of that of more than thirty other officers confined with him under similar cicumstances.
The English government lately solicited, that a field in the neighbourhood of Tarragona, in which 300 English soldiers and some officers fell gloriously defending that fortress, should not be cultivated, or otherwise disturbed, offering to purchase it: but the city of Tarragona, emulating the feeling of our government, nobly made a present of the ground.
Previous to the 18th Feb. a great number of persons had been executed at Madrid, under charges of treason against the person and authority of the sovereign. Nothing yet has transpired concerning the fate of the unfortunate Arguelles and his companions, who have been transported to a desert island of the Mediterranean. To those who know the true character of the present Spanish government, it will be no matter of surprise if this notice conclude their history.
An edict for the prohibition of certain books, divided into two principal classes, was published at Madrid on the 2d of March. In the first are comprehended those which are prohibited, even to the persons to whom the Inquisition may have granted licenses or particular permissions; the other comprises works which are only prohibited to such persons as have not obtained those licenses. The works of the first class are eight in number, and are prohibited as defamatory of the supreme authority of the pope and clergy The second prohibition falls upon forty-seven works, which are described as full of a corrupt and revolutionary spirit. In this last class, M. De Constant's Principles of Policy—La Croix's Elements of the Rights of the People—Blanchard's Felix and Paulina—and Adelaide and Theodore, or Letters on Education,—are included.
On the 15th of December, a catholic priest proceeded on foot to the cathedral of Adria, in Lombardy, and returned thanks for having attained his 110th year, without infirmities or sickness! He was accompanied by an immense concourse of people, and chanted the cathedral service in a firm, manly, and dignified voice.
The German papers have brought us a document of greater importance than usual, in the shape of a new constitution for Sicily. That interesting portion of Europe has lost nothing by the restoration of the legitimate sovereign to die throne of his ancestors. The king of Naples, unlike his namesake and cousin the sovereign of Spain, has signalized his restoration by confirming and extending the blessings of a free constitution.
The emigration of our countrymen to Italy is so extensive, that 400 English families now reside at Naples alone. Between 500 and 600 English are now resident at Rome, including branches from the noble families of Devonshire, Jersey, Westmoreland, Lansdown, Beresford, King, Cowper, Compton, Dunstanville, Denbigh, Carnarvon, and Breadalbane.—The dutchess of Devonshire gives parties every week, and is a great patroness of the fine arts.
Canova.—The pope had attached to the title of Marquis of Ischia, which he conferred on the sculptor Canova, an annual pension of 3000 crowns. This celebrated artist has disposed of this revenue in the following manner: First, a fixed donation to the Roman academy of archeology of 600 crowns. Second, 1070 crowns to found annual prizes, and a triennial prize for sculpture painting and architecture, which the young artists of Rome and the Roman states only are competent to obtain. Third, 100 crowns to the academy of St Lue. Fourth, 120 crowns to the academy of the Lynx; and fifth, 1010 crowns to relieve poor, old, and infirm artists residing in Rome.
Foreign papers, dated in March, reckon above 800 English families to be resident in the three cities of Florence, Leghorn, and Pisa. The number of young English who are receiving their education in various schools in Italy may be estimated at 1500.
By the new regulations in the Prussian dominions, heavy taxes are to be imposed upon English goods, while the manufactures of other countries are to be subject to smaller duties. The continental system, seems to have created manufacturers, who are now in danger of being ruined by the competition of England.
A German paper contains the following, as it is asserted, accurate account of the Austrian army.
The king of Wirtemberg has abolished the censorship of the press; and by conciliatory firmness towards his people, is likely to become one of the most popular sovereigns in Europe. The States were opened on the 3d March, at Stutgard, by the king in person, when the project of the new constitution was presented to that body. It consists of 337 articles, and is highly favourable to the liberty of the subject.
By the latest accounts, the present government of this country appears to stand on very slippery ground; and something more than even all the characteristic prudence and worldly wisdom of Bernadotte will be required to support him on the Scandinavian throne.—Stockholm, March 18: alarming reports of a political nature have arisen. One Lindhorne, a publican, denounced, on the 13th, certain seditious language which he had overheard. The affair, of which the object was no less than a total subversion of the present order of government, has immediately given rise to the strictest investigation, and has appeared sufficiently important to induce all the high colleges (or public boards), and deputations of the armed force,—the nobility, the citizens of Stockholm, and the peasants,—to wait on the Crown Prince, and assure him of their fidelity and attachment.
By an ukase of the Emperor Alexander, the male population of Poland has, with few exceptions, been made liable to the military conscription, from twenty to thirty years of age.—A rescript to the governor of Cherson, in favour of the Duchobooze, a sect of dissenters from the Greek Church, is highly honourable to the humane feelings and enlightened views of this monarch.
Letters from Constantinople of the 1st February state, that the British minister is still in negotiation relative to the affairs of the Ionian Islands, of which the divan pertinaciously refuses to acknowledge the independence. Yet it was not unknown at Constantinople, that General Maitland had arrived at Corfu, and had convoked the Grand Senate to pronounce definitely on the administration or organization of the state. If we may credit letters from Vienna, inserted in the Paris papers, it would seem that the Porte has to contend with a rebellious subject in the person of the Pacha of Bagdad, who having been formally deposed by a firman from Constantinople, refused to resign his power, and acknowledge his successor.—It is also stated in the same journals, that the Pacha of Egypt, the most powerful of the Turkish governors in the Mediterranean, is preparing to dispute the sovereignty of that province with the Ottoman Porte.
The president of the United States transmitted to both Houses of Congress, on the 4th December, a message by Mr Todd, his secretary, of which we can only give the general outline. It begins by noticing the partial failure of the crops, the depression of particular branches of manufactures, and of navigation,—complains of the British government for prohibiting a trade between its colonies and the United States in vessels—notices the attack on the American flag by a Spanish ship of war, and the uncertain state of the relations with Algiers—expresses much satisfaction at the tranquillity that has been restored among the Indian tribes, and between these tribes and the United States—recommends a reorganization of the militia, provision for the uniformity of weights and measures, the establishment of a university within the district which contains the seat of government, an amendment of the criminal law—and suggests, that the regulations which were intended to guard against abuses in the slave trade should be rendered more effectual. The expediency of a re-modification of the judiciary establishment, and of an additional department in the executive branch of the government, are recommended to the consideration of Congress.—On the subject of finance the president expresses much satisfaction. The actual receipts of the revenue during 1816 are said to amount to about 47,000,000 of dollars, and the payments to only 38,000,000; thus leaving a surplus in the treasury, at the close of the year, of about 9,000,000 of dollars. The aggregate of the funded debt, on the 1st January 1817, is estimated not to exceed 110,000,000 of dollars, the ordinary annual expenses of government are taken at less than 20,000,000, and the permanent revenue at 25,000,000. The state of the currency and the establishment of the national bank are then noticed; and Mr Madison concludes this moderate and well-written document, by referring to the near approach of the period at which he is to retire from public service, and with animated expressions of satisfaction at the tranquillity and prosperity of the country.
It is pleasing to observe the facility with which useful institutions are adopted, under the harmony at present subsisting among mankind. The Provident or Saving Banks, which have been established so beneficially in Britain, are likely to be soon very generally resorted to in the United States. The plan was in progress at Boston before the close of 1816, and was countenanced by a large body of the state legislature.
From the report of the late secretary to the treasury, it appears that the gross revenue for the year 1816 amounted to 59,403,978, and the expenditure to 38,745,799 dollars, leaving an excess of receipts, amounting to 20,658,179, exclusive of the sum in the treasury on the 1st of January 1816.
A bill has been brought into Congress, to prevent citizens of the United States from selling vessels of war to the subjects of any foreign power, and more effectually to prevent the arming and equipping of vessels of war intended to be used against nations in amity with the United States. This bill is supposed to be chiefly directed against the insurgents of Spanish America, and to have been brought forward through the representations of the Spanish minister.
An act of Congress has passed, by which all British vessels entering the ports of the United States, from our colonial possessions, are to be subjected to an additional duty of two dollars per ton. This proceeding is resorted to, in consequence of the exclusion of the American shipping from our West India islands.
It has been proposed, in the House of Representatives, to reduce the peace establishment to 5000 men, and also to repeal all the internal taxes.
The exports from the United States, for the year ending 30th September 1816, amounted to 81,920,452 dollars, of which 64,781,896 were of domestic materials, and 17,138,556 foreign.
A report from the committee on manufactures was presented to the legislature of the state of New York on the 20th January, which recommends, for the encouragement of the infant manufactories of the United States, particularly of woollen and cotton, either a permanent augmentation of the duties on their import, or a prohibition of all such as can be supplied by the home manufactures.
By the Newfoundland Gazettes, we learn that a question of great importance attracts the attention of the inhabitants of that island, and one which is of much interest to the inhabitants of Great Britain. The validity of marriages solemnized by dissenting ministers has been disputed, and reference made on the subject to the statute law of England.
The legislature of Jamaica, it appears, have strictly complied with the request of his Majesty's government, to prevent any infringement of the laws for the abolition of the slave trade.
The cause of the insurgents in Spanish America ebbs and flows with such rapid and uncertain vicissitude, that it is extremely difficult to give any thing like a correct view of the state of the contest in these widely extended regions. We see them defeated, and driven from place to place,—rallying, returning, and victorious in their turn; but no decisive advantage seems as yet to have been gained by either party, nor does there appear, in the accounts which have reached this country, sufficient materials from which to form a decided opinion on the future progress and final results of a contest which is marked by want of system and energy on both sides. Whatever may be the result of the present struggle, however, the time cannot be far distant when these extensive countries will form several rich, powerful, and independent states, a consummation devoutly to be wished—for their own sakes, and for the general prosperity of the civilized world, of which they are probably destined to form one of the most valuable and interesting divisions.—Lord Cochrane and Sir Robert Wilson are said to be about to embark in the cause of Spanish American independence. Such strongly constructed and unquiet minds seem to be necessary to the progress of human affairs; and in this scene of trouble, their energies may produce a happy effect upon the hitherto feeble and unenlightened subjects of one of the worst governments that ever oppressed and degraded the human race.—Sir Gregor McGregor who has so much distinguished himself in this contest, is the son of the late Captain Daniel McGregor, a gentleman of Argyle shire in Scotland, who was long an officer in India. He is under thirty years of age, served as a captain with the British army in Spain, was afterwards colonel in the British service, and had a Spanish order of knighthood conferred upon him, and was allowed by the Prince Regent to assume the title in his native country.
The Portuguese troops have invaded the territory of Monte Video; but whether in consequence of an arrangement with Old Spain, or with a view to conquest on their own account, does not seem to be very clearly ascertained. It is not likely that their interference will materially affect the general result, except in so far as it may have a tendency to curry the flame of revolution into their own transatlantic territories.
We have received what is called the revived constitution of Hayti, or rather of that part of the island which is under the government of Petion. It is comprehended in 11 articles, which are subdivided into upwards of 200 sections; and, like most other exhibitions of this sort, it makes a sufficiently respectable appearance on paper.
The Haytian Royal Gazettes notice the king of France's proposals to Christophe, and the indignation of his sable Majesty and his minister the Duke of Marmalade, at the insolent superscription of the papers, which, instead of being most respectfully addressed to "His Majesty the King of Hayti," were directed only to "Monsieur the General Christophe, at Cape François." The letters were returned unopened.
East Indies.—Calcutta papers announce the agreeable intelligence, that Captain Webb has crossed the several ranges of the snowy mountains, and entered Tartary. It is his opinion that he might, without great difficulty, from the situation whence he last wrote, penetrate into the heart of Russia. Much may be expected from Captain Webb's scientific skill towards a correct knowledge of these stupendous heights, whose summits have been found to rise more than 28,000 feet above the level of the sea, nearly 8,000 feet higher than Chimboraze, the loftiest of the Andes.
At a late meeting of the Asiatic Society, a curious document was communicated, respecting several classes of robbers and murderers, known in the south of India by the name of Phanaegars, and in the upper provinces by the appellation of Thugs; the peculiarity of whose practice is the employment of a noose, which they throw round the traveller whom they have fallen in with on the road, apparently by accident, and whom they thus strangle and rob; they live in a regular society, and roam the country in gangs, under a regular sirdar, or chief.
Ceylon.—The dutch planters of Ceylon have adopted some judicious regulations for the gradual abolition of slavery; all children born of slaves, after the 12th of August last, are to be considered free, but to remain in their master's house, and serve him for board, lodging, and clothing; the males till the age of 14, and the females till 12 after which to be fully emancipated.
China.—Although no official intelligence has been received by government from Lord Amherst, since his arrival at Pekin, yet there is reason to believe, from private accounts from Canton, of the 17th November, that the British embassy to that court has entirely failed; though it is impossible at present to assign the reasons. Another circumstance mentioned in these letters, threatens to produce still more unfortunate effects. The Alceste British frigate, commanded by Captain Maxwell, was fired at by the forts on either side of the river; but the ship, being immediately moored within pistle shot of one of them mounting forty guns, with two broadsides silenced both batteries. The Alceste was then suffered to proceed quietly to her destination; and what is most singular, up to the 17th November, not the slightest notice had been taken of the affair by the governor of Canton.
Persia.—The government of Persia, it is said, have applied for the permission of the British government to take British officers on half pay into their army, with a view of introducing modern tactics into the military establishment of that country; an attack being apprehended on the part of Russia. It is even stated in a letter from Calcutta, of the 15th October, that the Archduke Constantine has entered Persia at the head of 100,000 Russians; but this report as yet gains little credit in this country.
Congo Expedition.—The detailed accounts of the expedition to explore the river Congo, or Zaire, reached the Admiralty some weeks ago. Melancholy as the result has been, from the great mortality of officers and men, owing to the excessive fatigue rather than to the effects of climate, the journals of Captain Tuckey, and the gentlemen in the scientific departments, are, it is said, highly interesting and satisfactory, as far as they go, and we believe they extend considerably beyond the first rapid, or cataract. It would seem, in deed, that the mortality was entirely owing to the land journey beyond these rapids, and that Captain Tuckey died of complete exhaustion after leaving the river, and not from fever.
We lament to learn, that when the Dorothy transport was at Cabendo, in the end Of October last, there were ten Portuguese ships in the port waiting for slaves, and two from Spain.
The Congo discovery vessel arrived at Portsmouth from Bahia last month. The journal of the lamented Captain Tuckey is said to describe the country he explored for 226 miles, as a rocky desert, and thinly peopled region, not worthy of further research.
March 29.—Information has just been received of the death of Major Peddie, before he reached the Niger. Lieutenant Campbell is now the commanding officer; and, we understand, proceeded to carry into execution the orders received by Major Peddie.
St Helena.—The Orontes frigate, which left St Helena on the 4th January, has brought to England Colonel Poniowski, the Polish officer who followed Bonaparte, and who was sometime since banished from that island to the Cape, for improper conduct; and Lord Somerset has now sent him to Europe. Les Casas and his son have been also sent to the Cape in the Griffin sloop of war, in consequence, it is said, of their concerting a plan of correspondence with France.
A letter, addressed by order of Bonaparte to Sir Hudson Lowe, governor of St Helena, by General Montholon, brought to this country by Napoleon's usher of the cabinet, M. St Santini, has ben published, in which the Ex-emperor loudly complains of the rigorous manner in which he is treated by Sir Hudson Lowe. But the conduct of this officer was defended by Earl Bathurst, in the debate to which Lord Holland's late motion on the subject gave rise, and the insinuations thrown out by Bonaparte against the British government were very satisfactorily repelled.
Isle of France.—On the 25th of September, a great fire happened at Port-Louis, which is said to have destroyed property to the value of a million and a half Sterling. Nineteen streets were entirely consumed, including hospitals, prisons, barracks, magazines, and other public buildings. The greater number of the unfortunate inhabitants have been reduced to absolute poverty.