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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Dom Miguel was constrained to lay siege to Oporto


[Sidenote:

Advances in Medicine]

A remarkable instance of good resulting from evil was afforded this year by the revolting murders committed by Burke and Hare in Edinburgh. These two men deliberately killed a number of persons to sell their bodies to medical dissecters. The discovery of their crimes led to a Parliamentary investigation in the course of which Sir Astley Cooper boldly stated that any man's body could be obtained in the United Kingdom if enough money were offered. The scandal resulted in the passage of an Anatomy Act licensing the traffic in human bodies within strict limitations. Before this reform surgeons experimenting in human anatomy had to rely on body-snatchers for their material. The repeal of the old laws on this subject removed much of the odium hitherto attached to the science of dissection, while the increase of experimental material gave a fresh impetus to the study of anatomy.

[Sidenote: Death of Napoleon II.]

A menace to the royal crown of France was removed by the death of Napoleon's son, the young Duke of Reichstadt, erstwhile King of Rome. He expired at Schoenbrunn, after an empty life spent under Metternich's tutelage in Vienna, and was buried there. His death at the time was commemorated in the famous German ballad, beginning with the lines:

In the gardens of Schoenbrunn Lies buried the King of Rome.

justify;">The French playwright Rostand made the life and death of this unfortunate Prince the subject of a romantic tragedy "The Eaglet," in which Sarah Bernhardt achieved so striking a success at the close of the Nineteenth Century.

[Sidenote: Attempted revolts in France]

[Sidenote: Repressive measures]

The removal of another menace to Louis Philippe's throne was accompanied by circumstances less tragic. In April, the Duchesse de Berry, wearying of her exile, crossed over to Marseilles and travelled thence in disguise to Chateau Plassac, in the Vendee, where she summoned the Royalists to arms. She was betrayed into the hands of constables sent to arrest her, and was placed in safe keeping at Chateau Blaye on an island in the Gironde. The affair took an awkward turn for the cause of the Orleanists in France, when the Duchess gave birth to an infant daughter, whose parentage she found it difficult to explain. Next, the death of General Lamarque, a popular soldier of France, started an insurrection at Paris in the summer. An attempt was made to build barricades, and conflicts occurred in the streets, but the National Guard remained true to the army and the King, and the revolt was soon put down. The government of Louis Philippe resorted to severe repressive measures, and trials for sedition were common. In Germany a revolutionary appeal to arms, made at a popular festival at the Castle of Homburg, near Zweibruecken, resulted in renewed reactionary measures. The German Diet, at the instance of Metternich, declared that the refusal of taxes by any legislature would be treated as an act of rebellion. All political meetings and associations were forbidden and the public press was gagged.

[Sidenote: Naval demonstration at Lisbon]

[Sidenote: Civil war in Portugal]

The excesses of Dom Miguel's followers in Portugal were followed by more serious international results. A series of wanton attacks upon foreign subjects in Lisbon called for outside intervention. English and French squadrons appeared in the Tagus. Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign Secretary, declared himself satisfied after Portugal had apologized and paid an indemnity to the British sufferers. The French admiral, unable to obtain quick redress, carried off the best ships of the Portuguese navy. The worst result for Dom Miguel was the foreign encouragement given to his brother, Emperor Pedro of Brazil, who was preparing an expedition against him in the Azores. Some of the best British naval officers and veterans of the Peninsular War were permitted to enlist under Dom Pedro's banner. Captain Charles Napier took charge of Dom Pedro's navy. In July a landing was made near Oporto, and that important city was captured by Dom Pedro's forces. Dom Miguel was constrained to lay siege to Oporto. Thus the civil war in Portugal dragged on.


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