四川省委网信办赴宜宾调研网信工作

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In the House of Commons, too, the Speaker, Sir John Cust, was removed by death at the same moment, and Sir Fletcher Norton was elected in his place. On the 22nd of January, the same day that Sir Fletcher Norton was made Speaker of the House of Commons, the Marquis of Rockingham moved in the Lords for an inquiry into the state of the nation. The crumbling down of the Cabinet continued. James Grenville resigned; Dunning, the Solicitor-General, and General Conway, followed; and on the very day of Lord Rockingham's motion, the Duke of Grafton himself laid down the Seals. The whole of his administration had thus vanished, like a mere fog ministry, at the first reappearance of the luminary, Chatham.

Sir Robert Peel then rose. He said that the immediate cause which had led to the dissolution of the Government was "that great and mysterious calamity which caused a lamentable failure in an article of food on which great numbers of the people in this part of the United Kingdom and still larger numbers in the sister kingdom depended mainly for their subsistence." But he added, "I will not assign to that cause too much weight. I will not withhold the homage which is due to the progress of reason, and to truth, by denying that my opinions on the subject of Protection have undergone a change." This announcement was received in profound silence from the Ministerial benches, but with triumphant cheering from the Opposition. Protection, he said, was not a labourer's question. High prices did not produce high wages, nor vice versa. In the last three years, with low prices and abundance of food, wages were comparatively high, and labour was in demand. In the three years preceding, with high[522] prices and scarcity, wages were low and employment was scarce. Experience thus proved that wages were ruled by abundance of capital and demand for labour, and did not vary with the price of provisions. Again, increased freedom of trade was favourable to the prosperity of our commerce. In three scarce and dear years, namely, from 1839 to 1841, our foreign exports fell off from 53,000,000 in value to 47,000,000. But in three years of reduction of duties and low prices, namely, from 1842 to 1844, the value of our exports rose from 47,000,000 to 58,000,000. Even deducting the amount of the China trade, a similar result was shown. Nor was the reduction in the customs duties unfavourable to the revenue. In 1842 there was an estimated loss of 1,500,000; in 1843 a smaller one of 273,000; but in 1845 there was a reduction at an estimated loss to the revenue of no less than 2,500,000. The total amount of the various reductions effected in three years exceeded 4,000,000; and many of the duties were totally abolished; the loss, therefore, not being compensated by any increased consumption. Had 4,000,000 been lost to the revenue? He believed that on the 5th of April next the revenue would be found to be more buoyant than ever. Sir Robert Peel referred to other proofs of prosperity resulting from reduced import duties, and then adverted to his own position, and declared that "he would not hold office on a servile tenure." The other measures of Parliament during this Session were these:In the House of Lords Lord Holland, and in the Commons Henry Brougham, moved for addresses to his Majesty, exhorting him to persevere in his efforts to induce the Governments of other nations to co-operate in the abolition of the slave trade, and to take measures for putting a stop to the clandestine practice of British subjects yet carrying on this trade in a fraudulent manner, as well as to adopt plans for preventing other evasions of Mr. Wilberforce's Act. Mr. Bankes introduced a motion for rendering perpetual his Bill to prevent the grant of offices in reversion, and such a Bill was passed in the Commons, but rejected in the Lords. At Calcutta, Francis, Clavering, and Monson were deeply engaged in what appeared to them a certain plan for the ruin of Hastings. The Maharajah Nuncomar, who styled himself the head of the Brahmins, came forward and laid before them papers containing the most awful charges against Hastings. These were that Hastings had encouraged him, at the command of the Secret Committee, to produce charges against Mohammed Rheza Khan and Shitab Roy, when they were in prison, in order to extort money from them; and that Hastings had accepted a heavy bribe to allow Mohammed to escape without punishment. Hastings broke up the Council, declaring that he would not sit to be judged by his own Council. If they had charges to prefer against him, they might form themselves into a committee, and transmit such evidence as they received to the Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta, or to the Directors at home. But the three declared themselves a majority, voted their own competence to sit and try their own chief, and preferred another huge charge introduced by Nuncomarnamely, that Hastings had appropriated to[327] himself two-thirds of the salary of the Governor of Hooghly, a post formerly held by Nuncomar himself. They determined to introduce Nuncomar to confront Hastings at his own Council board. Hastings declared the Council not sitting; the three declared it sitting and valid, and called in Nuncomar, who proceeded to detail his charges, and ended by producing a letter from the Munny Begum, now Governor of Oude, expressing the gratitude which she felt to the Governor-General for her appointment as guardian of the Nabob, and that in token of this gratitude she had presented him with two lacs of rupees. Immediately on hearing that, Hastings declared the letter a forgery, and that he would prove it so; and he was not long in procuring an absolute denial of the letter from the Begum. Things being driven to this pass, Hastings commenced an action against Nuncomar, Mr. Fowke, one of the most active agents of the trio, and others, as guilty of a conspiracy against him. This was supported by native witnesses, and the Supreme Court of Justice, after a long and careful examination of the case, held Nuncomar and Fowke to bail, and bound the Governor-General to prosecute.

The great meeting had been intended to take place on the 9th of August; and on the 31st of July an advertisement appeared in the Manchester Observer calling on the inhabitants to meet on the 9th in the area near St. Peter's Church for the purpose of electing a representative to Parliament, as well as for adopting Major Cartwright's plan of Parliamentary Reform. This immediately drew from the magistrates a notice that such a meeting would be illegal, and that those who attended it would do so at their peril. The working men on this announced that the meeting would not take place, and a requisition was presented to the borough-reeve and constables, requesting leave to hold such a meeting. It was refused; and on its refusal the people proceeded with their original design, only appointing the 16th as the day of meeting, with Hunt in the chair.