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It is scarcely worth while to attempt to expose the assertions due to Napoleon and the mortified vanity of the French, which have declared that Wellington made a bad choice of his battle-field, and that he would have been beaten had not the Prussians come up. These statements have been amply refuted by military authorities. The selection of the field may be supposed to be a good one when it is known that Marlborough had chosen the very same, and was only prevented from fighting on it by the Dutch Commissioners. But no one can examine the field without seeing its strength. Had Wellington been driven from his position, the long villages of Mont St. Jean and Waterloo behind him, succeeded by the beech wood of Soigne, would have enabled him to hold the French in check for daysmuch more for the time sufficient for the whole Prussian force to come up. When it is seen what resistance such a mere farm as La Haye Sainte, or the chateau of Hougomont, enabled the British to make, what would the houses, gardens, and orchards of Mont St. Jean and Waterloo have done, stretching for two miles, backed by the wood of Soignenot a forest choked by underwood, but of clear ground, from which ascended the tall, smooth boles of the beech trees? As to the danger of being defeated had not the Prussians come up, there was none. No advantage through the whole day had been gained by the French, except making an entry into the court-yard of Hougomont, and in capturing La Haye Sainte, from both of which they had long been driven again. The cuirassiers had been completely cut up before the arrival of the Prussians; not a square of infantry had been broken; and when Buonaparte made his last effortthat of hurling his Guards on the British columnsthey were, according to the positive evidence of Marshal Ney, who led them on, totally annihilated. It is true that the Prussians had been for some time engaged on the right of the French, and had stood their ground; but they had been terribly cut up at Planchenoit, and they do not appear to have made much advance till the total rout of the French by the last charge of the British. Wellington had advanced his whole line, and was leading on the pursuit in person when he and Blucher met on the high ground behind La Belle Alliancethat is, beyond the very ground on which Buonaparte had stood the whole day. The Prussians fought bravely, but they did not affect the question of victory or defeat as it regarded the British; they came in, however, to undertake the chase, for which the British were too tired after standing on the field twelve hours, and fighting desperately for eight; and they executed that chase most completely.

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Prevented by the arrival of Daun from utterly destroying Dresden, though he had done enough to require thirty years of peace to restore it, Frederick marched for Silesia. Laudohn, who was besieging Breslau, quitted it at his approach; but the Prussian king, who found himself surrounded by three armies, cut his way, on the 15th of August, at Liegnitz, through Laudohn's division, which he denominated merely "a[140] scratch." He was instantly, however, called away to defend his own capital from a combined army of Russians under Todleben, and of Austrians under Lacy, another Irishman; but before he could reach them they had forced an entrance, on the 9th of October. The Russians, departing from their usual custom of plunder, touched nothing, but levied a contribution of one million seven hundred thousand dollars on the city. At Frederick's approach they withdrew. The Emperor Francis determined to remain at Aube, with the division under General Ducca, not[80] thinking it becoming him to join in the attack on the French capital where his daughter ruled as empress-regent; and a body of ten thousand cavalry, under command of Winzengerode and Czernicheff, was ordered to watch the motions of Napoleon and intercept his communications with Paris, whilst the Russian and Prussian light troops scoured the roads in advance, stopping all couriers. Blucher, at the same time, having thrown open the gates of Rheims, was moving on Chalons and Vitry, to form a junction with the army of Schwarzenberg. The flying parties captured, near Sommepuix, a convoy of artillery and ammunition; and, on another occasion, they fell in with a courier bearing a budget of the most melancholy intelligence to the Emperorthat the British had made a descent on Italy; that the Austrians had defeated Augereau, and were in possession of Lyons; that Bordeaux had declared for Louis XVIII.; and that Wellington was at Toulouse. These tidings gave immense confidence to the Allies. Near Fre-Champenoise the Allies met, finding Blucher in the act of stopping a body of infantry, five thousand in number, which was bearing provisions and ammunition to the army of Napoleon. The column consisted of young conscripts and National Guards, who had never been in action, but they bravely defended their charge till they were surrounded by the mingling forces of the two armies, and compelled to surrender.

An extraordinary scene of confusion was being enacted in the House of Commons at the moment when the king's reluctance was overcome. Sir R. Vivian took occasion to arraign Ministers violently for their intention of dissolving Parliament. Sir Francis Burdett contended that he was out of order. The Speaker ruled that he was in order. The Reformers differed from the Chair. Loud cries of "Sir Robert Peel! Sir Robert Peel!" were answered by counter-cries of "Sir Francis Burdett! Sir Francis Burdett!" and some wiser cries of "Chair! Chair!" The Speaker rose and stilled this unprecedented stormrebuked those who had disputed his authority, and again called on Sir Robert Peel, who proceeded thereupon, in undisguised anger, to address the House. But as the noise of the cannon, which announced the king's approach, boomed into the House, the Reform members loudly cheered, each discharge being greeted with overbearing and triumphant shouts. Suddenly Sir Robert's angry speech, and the loud cheers of the Reformers, were stilled by the three admonitory taps of the Usher of the Black Rod, who came to summon the members to attend his Majesty in the House of Peers. The Speaker at once obeyed, the Commons following. A similar scene of confusion in the Upper House was interrupted by the approach of the king. Lord Londonderry said, "I protest my lords, I will not submit to." Further than this his speech did not proceed, as the Lord Chancellor, who heard the king approaching, clutched the seals, left the woolsack, and darted out of the House. Lord Londonderry, not yet despairing, moved Lord Shaftesbury again to act as Speaker, and Lord Mansfield began a furious harangue in a loud and angry voice. In the meantime the Lord Chancellor met the king entering the House, and proceeding in procession to the robing-room. As the king advanced, the noise in the House became distinctly audible. "What's that, my Lord Chancellor?" said the king. "Only, may it please you, sire, the House of Lords amusing themselves while awaiting your Majesty's coming." The king, knowing what was meant, hastily robed, and as hastily entered the Housecutting short Lord Mansfield's speech, and putting an end to all chance of passing the[333] resolution under debate. The king ascended the throne, and commanded the attendance of the Commons. The bar of the House of Lords was thronged by the mass of members who now entered. The Speaker addressed the king, stating that the House of Commons approached the king with profound respect; and that the Commons had at no time more faithfully responded to the real feelings and interest of his Majesty's affectionate people; "while it has been," he added, "their earnest desire to support the dignity and honour of the Crown, upon which depend the greatness, the happiness, and the prosperity of this country." The Royal Assent being given to the bills that had passed, and, among others, to the Civil List Bill, the Chancellor presented to his Majesty the Speech he was to deliver, and the king, with the high shrill tone he always employed, but with more than wonted energy, read the first, which, indeed, was the really important paragraph of the Speech, and that which alone men cared to listen to or hear.

This great debate was interrupted by a motion[523] brought on by Mr. O'Connell, on the impending famine in Ireland, which is chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Bright, in which, alluding to Sir Robert Peel's last address to the House, he said, "I watched the right honourable baronet go home last night, and I confess I envied him the ennobling feelings which must have filled his breast after delivering that speecha speech, I venture to say, more powerful and more to be admired than any speech ever heard in this House within the memory of any man in it." A further eloquent allusion to the Minister's newly acquired freedom from the enthralment of the bigoted among his party had a powerful effect upon the House, and it was observed by those who sat near Sir Robert Peel that the tears started to his eyes at this unexpected generosity from his old opponent.