让农民工不再“忧薪”

Meanwhile, the Russians had been occupied with the siege of Oczakoff, near the mouth of the Dnieper. There the Turks had endeavoured to burn their flotillas and flat-bottomed boats, in the[351] shallows, at the mouth of the river; but besides Potemkin, they had the able Suvaroff to contend with. This sagacious general drew the Russian flotilla under the forts of Kinburn, nearly opposite to Oczakoff, of which they were in possession. Thus safe himself, he swept the broad liman with his guns, destroyed many of the boats of the Turks, as they got entangled in the sands of the shallows, and compelled the admiral, who commanded, to withdraw his fleet. After several vain attempts, Oczakoff was stormed on St. Nicholas' Day, the 17th of November. But this success was only obtained at the last moment, in the very desperation of despair, and when the campaign had cost Russia twenty thousand men, of whom five thousand perished in the final assault. On the 22nd of June, 1781, Lord Macartney arrived at Madras to take the place of Whitehill as Governor. He brought the news of the war having broken out between the British and the Dutch, and he determined to take advantage of it to seize the Dutch settlements on the coast of Coromandel and in Ceylon. But Sir Eyre Coote had lately had a stroke of palsy; his faculties were failing, and his temper had grown morose. Finding he could obtain no assistance from the Commander-in-chief, Macartney called out the militia of Madras, and at their head reduced the Dutch settlements of Sadras and Pulicat. Finding Sir Hector Munro waiting at Madras for a passage to England, in consequence of the insulting conduct of Sir Eyre Coote, he induced him to take the command of an expedition against Negapatam. Admiral Hughes landed the troops near Negapatam on the 21st of October; they then united with a force under Colonel Braithwaite, and on the 12th of November Negapatam was taken, with large quantities of arms and military stores. Leaving Braithwaite to make an expedition in Tanjore, where, in February of the coming year, he was surrounded by Tippoo and Lally, the French general, and taken prisoner, Admiral Hughes sailed across to Ceylon, a most desirable conquest, because of its secure harbour of Trincomalee, as well as the richness and beauty of the island, and also on account of its position, for it lay only two days' sail from Madras. On the 11th of January, 1782, Trincomalee was won.

This royal denunciation of the Repeal movement greatly exasperated O'Connell. He had recently submitted a plan to the Repeal Association, recommended by a committee of which he was chairman, for the restoration of the Irish Parliament. In the document containing this plan it was declared that the people of Ireland finally insisted upon the restoration of the Irish House of Commons, consisting of 300 representatives, and claimed, in "the presence of the Creator," the right of the Irish people to such restoration, stating that they submitted to the union as being binding in law, but solemnly denied that it was founded on right, or on constitutional principle, or that it was obligatory on conscience. The franchise was to be household suffrage, and the voting by ballot. It was also provided that the monarch or regent de jure in England should be the monarch or regent de facto in Ireland. This revolutionary scheme was to be carried into effect, "according to recognised law and strict constitutional principle." The arbitration courts which O'Connell had threatened to set up, in consequence of the superseding of magistrates connected with the Repeal Association, had actually been established; and the Roman Catholic peasantry, forsaking the regular tribunals, had recourse to them for the settlement of their disputes. WELLINGTON'S RETREAT FROM COIMBRA. (See p. 604.)

On the 19th of February the men heard an awful and mysterious sound, as if of thunder, beneath their feet. They instantly rushed to their arms, and thus many lives were saved. A tremendous earthquake shook down all the parapets built up with so much labour, injured several of the bastions, cast to the ground all the guard-houses, made a considerable breach in the rampart of a curtain in the Peshawur face, and reduced the Cabul gate to a shapeless mass of ruins. In addition to this sudden destruction of the fortificationsthe labour of three monthsone-third of the town was demolished. The report states that, within the space of one month, the city was thrown into alarm by the repetition of full 100 shocks of this phenomenon of Nature. Still, the garrison did not lose heart or hope. With indomitable energy, they set to work immediately to repair the damage. The shocks had scarcely ceased when the whole garrison was told off into working parties, and before night the breaches were scalped, the rubbish below was cleared away, and the ditches before them were dug out. From the following day all the troops off duty were continually at work, and so well sustained were their energy and perseverance, that by the end of the month the parapets were entirely restored, or the curtain was filled in, where restoration was impracticable, and every battery re-established. The breaches were built up with the rampart doubled in thickness, and the whole of the gates re-trenched. So marvellously rapid was the work of restoration that Akbar Khan declared that the earthquake must have been the effect of English witchcraft, as Jelalabad was the only place that escaped.

The Privy Council decided that the petition from Massachusetts was framed on false and exaggerated allegations, and was groundless, vexatious, and scandalous. Two days afterwards, the king dismissed Franklin from the office, which he had till now held, of Deputy-Postmaster of America.

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A Bill for Parliamentary Reform was introduced by Mr. Brand, and debated with unusual interest, owing to the events connected with Sir Francis Burdett, but was, of course, rejected by a large majority. The day for such a measure was yet far off. There was a motion made by Mr. Parnell regarding tithes in Ireland; another by Grattan and Lord Donoughmore for Catholic emancipation; and a third by Sir Samuel Romilly for reform of our criminal codeall necessary, but yet long-to-be-deferred measures. Lord Melville also introduced a plan of great importance into the House of Peers, namely, to substitute Government war vessels for the conveyance of troops to their destinations abroad. He showed that not only was there immense and flagrant jobbing going on between the Government Transport Board and the merchants from whom they hired ships on such occasions, but that these all tended to the misery and mortality of the soldiers; that the transport vessels hired were often not only inconveniently small, necessitating very uncomfortable and unhealthy crowding, but they were also frequently crazy, unseaworthy craft, badly manned, and ignorantly commanded by very ordinary skippers. He showed that a great amount of the mortality attending the transport of our troops to distant shores was owing to this cause, and that all might be avoided, and a considerable pecuniary saving effected, by employing none but Government vessels, roomy and clean, and commanded by officers duly qualified. But no such necessary and humane scheme was likely to be cordially supported by an unreformed Parliament. Mr. George Rose also obtained leave to bring in a Bill for a more questionable object. It was to augment our navy by bringing up the children of such people as became chargeable to parishes at Government naval schools, and thus regularly appropriating them as sailors. He estimated these children at ninety thousand, and calculated that these schools would furnish seven thousand sailor-boys per annum. It was a scheme for a press-gang system commencing with the cradle.