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But Tolly did not mean to remain longer than was necessary for the inhabitants to have made a safe distance; he was afraid of Napoleon making a flank movement and cutting off his way to Moscow. In the night fires broke out all over Smolensk: they could not be the effect only of the French shells; and Buonaparte sat watching them till morning. Soon bridges, houses, church spires, all of wood, were enveloped in roaring flames. The next day, the 18th of August, the French entered the place whilst it was still burning around them. The dead, half consumed, lay around the smoking ruins; and the French army marched through this ghostly scene with military music playing, but with hearts struck with consternation and despair at this proof of the inveterate determination of the Russians to destroy their whole country rather than suffer it to be conquered. Here they were left without shelter, without provisions, without hospitals for the sick, or dressings for the wounded, without a single bed where a man might lie down to die; and all before them was the same. The Cossacks beset the flanks of march, and burnt down all villages, and laid waste all fields ere the French could reach them. Again the officers entreated that they might form an encampment and remain; but Buonaparte replied still, "They must make all haste to Moscow."

"NO POPERY" RIOTERS ASSAULTING LORD MANSFIELD. (See p. 266.)

CHAPTER VII. THE REIGN OF GEORGE IV. (concluded). "I recommend you to take into your early consideration whether the principles on which you have acted may not with advantage be yet more extensively applied; and whether it may not be in your power, after a careful review of the existing[521] duties upon many articles, the produce or manufacture of other countries, to make such further reductions and remissions as may tend to ensure the continuance of the great benefits to which I have adverted, and, by enlarging our commercial intercourse, to strengthen the bonds of amity with foreign Powers."

The foreign relations of England at this period were, on the whole, satisfactoryas might be expected from the fact that our foreign policy was committed to the able management of Lord Palmerston, who, while sympathising with oppressed nationalities, acted steadily upon the principle of non-intervention. Considering, however, the comparative smallness o our naval and military forces, the formidable military powers of Russia and France created a good deal of uneasiness, which the king expressed in one of his odd impromptu speeches at Windsor. On the 19th of February there was a debate in the House of Commons on Eastern affairs, in which the vast resources and aggressive policy Of Russia were placed in a strong light. On that occasion Lord Dudley Stuart said, "Russia has 50,000,000 subjects in Europe alone, exclusive of Asia; an army of 700,000 men, and a navy of eighty line-of-battle ships and frigates, guided by the energy of a Government of unmitigated despotism, at whose absolute and unlimited disposal stand persons and property of every description. These formidable means are constantly applied to purposes of territorial aggrandisement, and every new acquisition becomes the means of gaining others. Who can tell that the Hellespont may not be subject to Russia at any moment? She has a large fleet in the Black Sea, full command of the mouths of the Danube, and of the commercial marine cities of Odessa and Trebizond. In three days she may be at Constantinople from Sebastopol; and if once there, the Dardanelles will be so fortified by Russian engineers that she can never be expelled except by a general war. She could be in entire possession of these important straits before any expedition could be sent from this country, even if such a thing could be thought of against the enormous military force at the command of Russia. That Russia is determined to have the Dardanelles is evident from the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, by which she began by excluding the ships of all other nations. The effect of this treaty was to exclude any ship of war from these straits, except with the permission of Russia. Russia might at any moment insist on the exclusion of our ships of war from the Dardanellesnay, she has already done so; for when Lord Durham, going on his late embassy to the Court of St. Petersburg, arrived at the Dardanelles in a frigate, he was obliged to go on board the Pluto, an armed vessel without her guns, before he could pass the straits; and when he arrived at Sebastopol no salute was fired, and the excuse given was that they did not know the Pluto from a merchant vessel. But both before and since Lord Durham went, Russian ships of war, with their guns out and their streamers flying, passed through the Black Sea to the Dardanelles, and again through[412] the Dardanelles to the Black Sea. Russia has now fifteen ships of the line and seven frigates in the Black Sea. Sebastopol is only three days' sail from the Hellespont. Turkey has no force capable of resisting such an armament; the forts of the Hellespont are incapable of defence against a land force, for they are open in the rear. Russia might any day have 100,000 men in Constantinople before England or France could even fit out expeditions to defend it."