蔡英文广邀“友邦”访台 被讽神仙也救不了“断交”


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Amongst the foremost of the promoters of science, and the most eloquent of its expounders, was Sir David Brewster, who died full of years and of honours in 1868. Arrived at manhood at the opening of the present century, having been born in 1781, he continued his brilliant course during fifty years, pursuing his investigations into the laws of polarisation by crystals, and by the reflection, refraction, and absorption of light, in which he made important discoveries. The attention of the British public was forcibly arrested by an able treatise on "Light," contributed by Sir John Herschel, in 1827, to the "Encyclop?dia Metropolitana." Its excellent method and lucid explanations attracted to the theory of Young and Fresnel men of science who had been deterred by the fragmentary and abstruse style of the former. This was followed four years later by a most able and precise mathematical exposition of the theory, and its application to optical problems, by Professor Airy, who became Astronomer-Royal in 1835. Meanwhile, the American emissaries were both busy and successful at the Court of France. Though the Government still professed most amicable relations towards Great Britain, it winked at the constant sale of the prizes taken by American privateers, or those who passed for such, in their ports. The Government had, as we have seen, supplied the insurgents with money and arms. It was now arranged between Silas Deane and the French Minister, Vergennes, that the supplies of arms and ammunition should be sent by way of the West Indies, and that Congress should remit payment in tobacco and other produce. The French Government supplied the American agents with money for their purchases of arms and necessary articles for the troops, also to be repaid in tobacco. Two of the ships sent off with such supplies were captured by the British men-of-war; but a third, loaded with arms, arrived safely. To procure the money which they could not draw from Europe, Congress made fresh issues of paper money, though what was already out was fearfully depreciated. They voted a loan also of five millions of dollars, at four per cent. interest. They authorised a lottery to raise a like sum, the prizes to be payable in loan-office certificates. These measures only precipitated the depreciation of the Government paper; people refused to take it; and Washington, to prevent the absolute starvation of the army, was endowed with the extraordinary power of compelling the acceptance of it, and of arresting and imprisoning all maligners of the credit of Congress. Congress went further, and passed a resolution that their bills ought to pass[237] current in all payments, trade, and dealings, and be deemed equal in value to the same sum in Spanish dollars; and that all persons refusing to take them should be considered enemies to the United States; and the local authorities were called upon to inflict forfeitures and other penalties on all such persons. Still further: the New York convention having laid before Congress their scheme for regulating the price of labour, produce, manufactured articles, and imported goods, it was adopted. But these arbitrary and unscientific measures the traders set at defiance, and the attempts to enforce them only aggravated the public distress. Loans came in slowly, the treasury ran low, the loan offices were overdrawn, and the issue of bills of credit was reluctantly recommenced; ten additional millions were speedily authorised, and as the issue increased, the depreciation naturally kept pace with it. The Commissioners in France were instructed to borrow money there, but the instructions were more easily given than executed.

Among the resources of Great Britain to which she is mainly indebted for her pre-eminence as a manufacturing nation, and without which she would not have been able to make anything like the progress she has made, or to bid defiance to foreign competition as she may always do, are her mines of coal and iron. The total produce of all the British ironworks was found, after a careful estimate, to be, in 1823, 442,066 tons; in 1825, 581,367 tons; in 1828, 653,417, and in 1830, 702,584 tons. In 1844 the quantity reached 1,500,000 tons. The quantity of tin produced in England in 1820 was 3,578 tons; in 1834 it was 4,000 tons. In addition to the quantities used at home, there was a considerable exportation of tin plates, the value of which in 1820 was about 161,000, and in 1840 it was more than 360,000. The produce of the copper mines in Cornwall was much greater than that of the tin mines; for while in 1820 it was only 7,364 tons, it had increased in 1840 to 11,000 tons. The increase during 60 years had been threefold, and the value annually raised exceeded 1,000,000 sterling. In the year 1820 the quantity of coals shipped from the port of Newcastle was more than 2,000,000 tons. In the year 1840 it had increased to nearly 3,000,000. From the port of Sunderland the quantity shipped in 1820 was considerably more than 1,000,000. In 1840 it was 1,300,000 tons. Large quantities were also shipped from the port of Stockton. The chief coal districts have naturally become the chief manufacturing districts; and as the coal is on the spot, it is impossible to estimate the quantities consumed in working the factories in Lancashire, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Nottingham, Derby, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Coventry, and Staffordshire. The town of Sheffield alone, it was estimated in 1835, required for manufacturing purposes about 515,000 tons of coals. Dr. Buckland, in his address to the Geological Society, in 1840, stated that "the average value of the annual produce of the mines of the British islands amounts to the enormous sum of 20,000,000, of which about 8,000,000 arises from iron, and 9,000,000 from coals." "Such is the extraordinary power of the Association, or, rather, of the agitators, of whom there are many of high ability, of ardent mind, of great daring (and if there was no Association, these men are now too well known not to maintain their power under the existing order of exclusion), that I am quite certain they could lead on the people to open rebellion at a moment's notice; and their organisation is such that in the hands of desperate and intelligent leaders they would be extremely formidable. The hope, and indeed the probability, of present tranquillity rests upon the forbearance and the not very determined courage of O'Connell, and on his belief, as well as that of the principal men amongst them, that they will carry their cause by unceasing agitation, and by intimidation, without coming to blows. I believe their success inevitable; that no power under heaven can arrest its progress. There may be rebellionyou may put to death thousandsyou may suppress it, but it will only be to put off the day of compromise; and, in the meantime, the country is still more impoverished, and the minds of the people are, if possible, still more alienated, and ruinous expense is entailed upon the empire. But supposing that the whole evil was concentred in the Association, and that, if that was suppressed, all would go smoothly, where is the man who can tell me how to suppress it? Many cry out that the nuisance must be abatedthat the Government is supinethat the insolence of the demagogues is intolerable; but I have not yet found one person capable of pointing out a remedy. All are mute when you ask them to define their proposition. All that even the most determined opposers to Emancipation say is, that it is better to leave things as they are than to risk any change. But will things remain as they are? Certainly not. They are bad; they must get worse; and I see no possible means of improving them but by depriving the demagogues of the power of directing the people; and by taking Messrs. O'Connell, Sheil, and the rest of them, from the Association, and placing them in the House of Commons, this desirable object would be at once accomplished. The literature of this period is more distinguished for learning and cleverness than for genius. There are a few names that rise above the smartness and mere accomplishment of the time into the regions of pure genius; but, with very few exceptions, even they bear the stamp of the period. We have here no Milton, no Shakespeare, no Herbert, no Herrick even, to produce; but De Foe, Addison, Steele, Thomson, and Pope, if they do not lift us to the highest creative plane, give us glimpses and traits of what is found there. For the rest, however full of power, there hangs a tone of "town," of a vicious and sordid era, about them, of an artificial and by no means refined life, a flavour of the grovelling of the politics which distinguished the period, and of the low views and feelings which occupied and surrounded the throne during the greater portion of this term.