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The aspect of affairs in Spain at the commencement of 1810 was gloomy in the extreme. Scarcely a town, fortress, or army remained to the Spaniards; yet, perhaps, never did Napoleon feel a deeper anxiety concerning it. The spirit of the people had shown that it could not be easily subdued. He might beat its regular troops, and compel the surrender of cities, after long and severe sieges, but there still remained a whole population hostile to him. Throughout all the mountain districts the inhabitants might be said to be still in arms against him, and there was a fire burning in the general Spanish heart that might at any moment blaze up into a dangerous flame, or, if not, must wear out his troops, his energies, and his resources. Napoleon had yet to discover that it is impossible to subdue the people of a mountainous country, so as to rule them in peace, if they are at heart opposed to the ruler.
The next person to attempt the impossible in the vain endeavour to keep the vessel of the old French monarchy afloat with all its leaks and rottenness, was the Archbishop of Toulouse, Lomnie de Brienne. He had vigorously opposed Calonne; but there was no way of raising the necessary revenue but to adopt some of the very proposals of Calonne, and tax the privileged classes, or to attempt to draw something still from the exhausted people. As the less difficult experiment of the two, he was compelled to cast his eyes towards the property of the nobles and the Church; but he found the nobles and the clergy as ready to sacrifice him as they had been to sacrifice Calonne. When one or two of the more pliant or more enlightened members of those classes ventured to remark on the vast amount of untaxed property, and particularly of tithes, there was an actual tempest of fury raised. Tithes were declared to be the voluntary offerings of the piety of the faithful, and therefore not to be touched. As further loans were out of the question, some one ventured to assert that the only means of solving the difficulty was to assemble the States General. "You would convoke the States General?" said the Minister in consternation. "Yes," replied Lafayette, who was bent on revolutionising France, as he had helped to revolutionise America"yes, and something more than that!" These words were taken down as most exceptionable and dangerous. All that the Assembly of Notables could be brought to do was to confirm the abolition of the corve, and to pass a stamp act. They would not move a step further, and they were dismissed by the king on the 25th of May, 1787. The Parliament, or Chief Court of Justice, adopted a similar course, and it also was dismissed. The king then promulgated a new constitution, but it fell hopelessly to the ground.FROM THE PAINTING BY D. O. HILL, R.S.A.
Et je dirai, sans tre des plus bestes, the Ursulines, 9,000 to the cathedral, 4,000 to the
These resolutions may be taken as expressing the feelings of the landed gentry as a body against the Melbourne Administration and the agitators. But the latter were not idle. O'Connell had then his "Precursor Association" in full operation. It received its name from the idea that it was to be the precursor of the repeal of the union. On the 22nd of January a public dinner was given in honour of the "Liberator" in a building then called the Circus, in Dublin, for which one thousand tickets were issued. Two days later a similar banquet was given to him in Drogheda, and there he made a significant allusion to the murder of Lord Norbury, insinuating that he had met his death at the hands of one who was bound to him by the nearest of natural ties, and had the strongest interest in his removal. Mr. O'Connell volunteered the assertion that the assassin of Lord Norbury had left on the soil where he had posted himself, "not the impress of a rustic brogue [a coarse rough shoe, usually made of half-dressed leather], but the impress of a well-made Dublin boot." There was no ground whatever for the malignant assertion, which was one of those errors of judgment and of taste that too often disfigured the great "Liberator's" leadership.We have seen that Laval, when at court, had been invited to choose a governor to his liking. He soon made his selection. There was a pious officer, Saffray de Mzy, major of the town and citadel of Caen, whom he had well known during his long stay with Bernires at the Hermitage. Mzy was the principal member of the company of devotees formed at Caen under the influence of Bernires and his disciples. In his youth he had been headstrong and dissolute. Worse still, he had been, it is said, a Huguenot; but both in life and doctrine his conversion had been complete, and the fervid mysticism of Bernires acting on his vehement nature had transformed him into a red-hot zealot. Towards the hermits and their chief he showed a docility in strange contrast with his past history, and followed their inspirations with an ardor which sometimes overleaped its mark.
But De Tolly was only remaining to defend the town whilst the inhabitants carried off with them their movable property. Whilst on the side of Smolensk, when Buonaparte arrived, all was silent, and the fields were empty, on the other side it was one vast crowd of people moving away with their effects. Buonaparte hoped that the Russians would deploy before the gates, and give him battle; but they did nothing of the sort, and he determined to storm the place. Its walls were old but very thick, and it might hold out some time, and the assault must cost many lives; but Buonaparte determined to make it. The French, however, learned that the Russians were already in retreat; and Murat observed that to waste these lives was worse than useless, as the city would be theirs without a blow immediately. Buonaparte replied in an insulting manner to Murat, and ordered the assault the next morning. On this, Murat, driven to fury, spurred his horse to the banks of the Dnieper, in the face of the enemy, between batteries, and stood there as voluntarily courting death. Belliard called out to him not to sacrifice himselfhe only pushed on still nearer to the fire of the Russian guns, and was forced from the scene by the soldiers. The storming commenced, and Tolly defended the place vigorously, killing four or five thousand of the French as they advanced to the attack.