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Ashantees' force amounted to twenty-five thousand men.
On the 29th of July, colonel Purdon marched to Wongassey, about eighteen miles from British Accra. On the 4th of August he moved to Ashroocan, and on the 6th he took up a position (twenty-four miles from Accra) on an extensive plain. The morning of the 7th happened to be a Monday, and a remarkably fine day, which was regarded by the "wise men " of the Ashanteesas a Fetish (or good omen) and a favourable day for the king to fight on; he was assured by these soothsayers that it would render him invincible. He accordingly, acting under their influence, at half past nine in the morning, moved to the attack, in a very imposing and determined manner. Colonel Purdon instantly put his force in motion, met the Ashantees half-way upon the plain, and commenced the battle with great bravery. After the engagement had lasted more than an hour, a pause ensued, in consequence of the left of the British right centre brigade and nearly the whole of the right wing giving way. At this critical moment, as soon as the centre reserve (composed of the Royal African Corps) became uncovered by the flight of the natives, colonel Purdon opened on the Ashantees a destructive fire of rockets, grape, and cannister, which did great execution; and, perceiving that they were panic-struck, and in the utmost confusion, he moved forward to the attack with every man he had, and cut through the enemy's centre. They gave way in all directions, and the victory was no longer doubtful. Accatoo, king of Aquimbo, who commanded a strong corps of observation on the extreme right, bravely and accurately obeyed the
orders he had received, his division, the moment he should hear the report of the British guns, and attack the Ashantees on their left flank. This simultaneous ? Huwtment, with the forces immediately under the direction of colonel Purdon, had the desired effect, and decided the fate of the battle. If the whole of the allies had acted in asimdlar manner, neither the king of the Ashantees, nor any part of his army would have escaped. But it is difficult to prevail upon such a race of people to act upon a systematic plan of operation, if it be at variance with their own notions; and the cause of the flight of part of them was that, in disobedience of orders, they broke from the line formed, and rushed into contest without regularity, without any reserve to support them, or prudence to guide them, in case of difficulty. The loss of the Ashantees, in killed, wounded, and prisoners was estimated at not less than five thousand men.— Many of the Ashantee princes and generals were killed and taken. About eight hundred were killed, and two thousand wounded on the side of the British. The whole of the camp equipage, of great value, fell into the hands of some of the least deserving of the allied forces. Amongst those spoilswere,thegoldenumbrellaof State, the golden stool of State, and gold dust, ivory, and other valuables to a large amount. Adononaqua, king of Aquapim, recovered the head of the late sir Charles M'Carthy, which was considered by the Ashantees as their greatest charm or fetish. It was enveloped in two folds of paper, covered with Arabic characters, tied up a third time, in a silk handkerchief, and lastly sewed up in a leopard's skin. The captor refused to give up,,:; •/ /. j ,v /
EXCEPTING the excitation of opinion kept up by the efforts and intrigues of a high ecclesiastical party to extend their influence, and the clamours of interested men who declaimed against the financial measures of the ministry because they had been losers by fluctuations in the funds, every thing was tranquil and prosperous in France; when the king opened the Session of the Chambers, on the 31st of January, with the following speech:"Gentlemen,
"It is with real satisfaction that I see myself again among you. Attentive to the movements of the public mind, and to the course of affairs, I have judged that no serious motive required that the time at which I proposed to call you together should be anticipated. My foresight has been justified, and I am happy at not having abridged the repose on which you were allowed to depend.
"Death has just struck in the midst of his career one of my most magnanimous allies: this loss has profoundly afflicted me. I receive from his successor, as well
as from the other powers, the most positive assurances of the continuance of their friendly dispositions; and I have the confidence, that nothing will impair the harmony between me and my allies for the tranquillity of nations.
"I have concluded with his Britannic majesty, a convention which will render more uniform the conditions to which the reciprocal navigation of the two kingdoms and their colonies is subject. I expect, from this arrangement, happy results for our maritime commerce."I have determined to fix, at length, the fate of St. Domingo. The time was come to close a painful wound, and to put an end to a state of things which compromised so many interests. The definitive separation of this colony, which has been lost to us for these thirty years, will not disturb the security of those which we preserve.
"A law became necessary for the division of the indemnity which I have reserved for the ancient planters; it will be proposed to you.
"I shall immediately cause to be laid before you the accounts for 1824, the statement of the receipts and expenditure of 1825, and the budget of 1827- The development of our commerce and our manufactures daily augmenting the produce of the taxes on consumption and transactions, will allow an amelioration of the situation of the ministers of our holy religion, an increase of the dotation of several of the services, and make it possible to reduce, by nineteen millions more, the direct taxes, which have already been diminished this year.
"You will rejoice with me, gentlemen, at thus finding, in the progress of our internal prosperity, means to redress the burdens which are the most onerous to the subject.
, '* The legislature should provide, by successive ameliorations, for all the wants of society.
"The progressive subdivision of landed property essentially contrary to the principle of monarchical government, would weaken the securities which the charter has given to my throne and to my subjects.
"Means will be proposed to restore the agreement that should exist between the political law and the civil law, and to preserve the patrimony of families, without, however, affecting the liberty of disposing of property.
"The preservation of families leads to and guarantees political stability, which is the first want of a state, and especially that of France, after so many vicissitudes."You will second me, gentlemen, in accomplishing the designs which I have meditated, and in ensuring more and more the happiness of the people whom Divine
Providence has intrusted to my care. You will not be more moved than I am at the inconsiderable alarms which still agitate some minds, notwithstanding the security we enjoy.
"This security, gentlemen, will not be hazarded, depend upon it; I will watch with equal solicitude over all the interests of the State, and I shall find means to conciliate what is required, by the exercise of legal liberties, the maintenance of order, and the repression of licentiousness."
The superiority of the ministers, although opposed both by the party which styled itself liberal, and by the party whose creed, as ultra royalists and ultra religionists, went as extravagantly wrong the other way, was manifested by the decisive majorities by which they carried the election of the committee to prepare the address in the Chamber of Peers, and the election of the presidents in the Chamber of Deputies. In the former, one opposition member was chosen, the archbishop of Paris; but that was a compliment which the ministry allowed to be paid to his ecclesiastical rank. Of the topics adverted to in the speech, the proposed introduction of the law of primogeniture, the expressions relating to the press, and the recognition of the independence of St. Domingo, were the only matters on which much difference of opinion was expressed in the course of the debates upon the address: on each of them the Chamber of Deputies divided, but in all the divisions the ministers were triumphant. On the recognition of Hayti, and the liberty of the press, their majority was small; for on these questions they were opposed by the ultra adhe* rent* of both parties for reasons diametrically opposite to each other. The ultra royalists resisted the recognition of Haytian independence, because it was a sanction to revolt, and a cession of part of the territory of France; by the liberals, again, the conduct of the government was blamed, because the recognition had been an act of thecrown, whereas they maintained that, constitutionally, it could take place only with the consent of the legislature. The former party held that the ministers were regardless of monarchy and religion by indulging the press with too great liberty: the latter party declaimed against them as persons who wished to lay it in chains, and extirpate all freedom of discussion.
The whole address was carried, as prepared by ministers, by a majority of 174 votes against 87. The Chamber of Peers, however, made some modifications of the original address. Instead of the decided manner in which the law of primogeniture had been recommended from the throne, the Peers declared they would adopt such measures as "would not restrain parents in the disposal of their property," a provision inconsistent with the system of strict entails which formed part of the plan of the ministers; and in replying to that part of the speech which alluded to the press, they made reference to the rights secured by the charter, and, while admitting the evils and dangers of licentiousness, expressed an opinion that reason, and the conscience of the public were its most efficient preventives. On both these topics the opinion of the higher chamber was greatly influenced by the lawyers. Even the great families were much divided in opinion on
the law of primogeniture, although specially directed to maintain their own wealth and splendor; and the courts of law had always shewn themselves unfavourable to the extension of the majorat, or exclusive rights of the first-born. The lawyers, likewise, and even the courts had of late been displaying much zeal, and some independence, in defence of the press. Towards the close of the preceding year, the Royal Court had acquitted the editors of the Constitutionel and the Courier Francais, who were under prosecution for political libels; and when the judges of that court waited upon the king, on New Year's day, along with other public bodies, to pay him the customary compliments, his majesty received them coldly, and did not condescend to make any other reply to their address than "I accept the homage of the Royal Court." (Je recois V kommage de la Cour Royale.)
On the 11th of February, the minister of finance brought forward not only the budget, but likewise a project of a law for finally closing the public accounts for 1824, which had still been kept open in consequence of the pecuniary transactions connected with the occupation of Spain. This latter was a sore and unpopular subject. France found the protection of Ferdinand a useless load upon her finances; the expenses of the enterprise had much exceeded the anticipated sums: it was with difficulty that Spain could be brought, even now, to strike a balance, and acknowledge a debt, and she had strained her resources to the utmost to be able to make, in the preceding month, a payment on account of 700,000 francs, not 30,000f.
Chamber of Peers now took the case, as the alleged frauds of Ouvrard affected its character by implicating some of its members as accomplices. Some doubts were entertained of the power of the Chamber to proceed in such an investigation; because no peer had been distinctly named or accused, and because there was no charge of high treason to constitute a jurisdiction in the peers. But, although there was no impeachment, nor any complaint regularly made, it was no secret that the public voice loudly accused the highest officers in the army of having been participators in the contractor's schemes of peculation, and the name of the Dauphin himself, who had commanded the army, was not spared. Count Bourdesolle and general Guilleminot were specially pointed out as culprits, and the latter was returning, or had been recalled, from his embassy at Constantinople, to meet the charges against him. The Chamber appointed a committee to inquire and report whether they could competently proceed; and,in the mean time, Ouvrard was kept prisoner in St. Pelagie, which had formerly been his residence, under the sway of Napoleon, for pecuniary debits of a similar description. The charges against him were, that he supplied the army sent into Spain with articles in much smaller quantity, and greatly inferior in quality, to those specified in his contracts; that the prices fixed by those contracts were exorbitant; and that he had been able to affect this spoliation by bribing his superiors with part of the plunder. It was only with this bribery and corruption that the peers had any concern, as affecting the purity of their own