One of the most appalling of the narratives sent to the Central Committee of the Society of Friends was Mr. William Bennet's account of his journey in Ireland. He left Dublin on the 12th of January, and proceeded by coach to Longford, and thence to Ballina, from which he penetrated into remote districts of the county Mayo. In the neighbourhood of Belmullet he and his companion visited a district which may serve as a representation of the condition of the labouring class generally in the mountainous and boggy districts, where they burrowed and multiplied, more like a race of inferior animals than human beings. "Many of the cabins," wrote Mr. Bennet, "were holes in the bog, covered with a layer of turf, and not distinguishable as human habitations from the surrounding moors, until close down upon them. The bare sod was about the best material of which any of them were constructed. Doorways, not doors, were provided at both sides of the latter, mostly back and front, to take advantage of the way of the wind. Windows and chimneys, I think, had no existence. A second apartment or partition of any kind was exceedingly rare. Furniture properly so called, I believe, may be stated at nil. I cannot speak with certainty, and wish not to speak with exaggeration, we were too much overcome to note specifically; but as far as memory serves, we saw neither bed, chair, nor table at all. A chest, a few iron or earthen vessels, a stool or two, the dirty rags and night coverings, formed about the sum total of the best-furnished. Outside many were all but unapproachable from the mud and filth surrounding them; the scene inside is worse, if possible, from the added closeness, darkness, and smoke.... And now language utterly fails me in attempting to depict the state of the wretched inmates.... We entered a cabin. Stretched in one dark corner, scarcely visible from the smoke and rags that covered them, were three children huddled together, lying there because they were too weak to rise, pale and ghastly; their little limbs, on removing a portion of the covering, perfectly emaciated; eyes sunk, voice gone, and evidently in the last stage of actual starvation. Crouched over the turf embers was another form, wild and all but naked, scarcely human in appearance. It stirred not nor noticed us. On some straw, soddened upon the ground, moaning piteously, was a shrivelled old woman, imploring us to give her something, baring her limbs partly to show how the skin hung loose from her bones, as soon as she attracted our attention. Above her, on something like a ledge, was a young woman with sunken cheeks, a mother, I have no doubt, who scarcely raised her eyes in answer to our inquiries; but pressed her hand upon her forehead, with a look of unutterable anguish and despair.... Every infantile expression had entirely departed; and, in some, reason and intelligence had evidently flown. Many were remnants of families, crowded together in one cabin; orphaned little relatives taken in by the equally destitute, and even strangers—for these poor people are kind to each other, even to the end. In one cabin was a sister, just dying, lying beside her little brother, just dead. I have worse than this to relate; but it is useless to multiply details, and they are, in fact, unfit."
Lord John Russell, who introduced the measure, Lord Althorp, Mr. Smith of Norwich, and Mr. Ferguson pleaded the cause of the Dissenters with unanswerable arguments. They showed that the Church was not now in danger; that there was no existing party bent on subverting the Constitution; that in the cases where the tests were not exacted during the last half century there was no instance of a Dissenter holding office who had abused his trust; that though the Test Act had been practically in abeyance during all that time, the Church had suffered no harm. Why, then, preserve an offensive and discreditable Act upon the Statute Book? Why keep up invidious distinctions when there was no pretence of necessity for retaining them? Why, without the shadow of proof, presume disaffection against any class of the community? Even the members of the Established Church of Scotland might be, by those tests and penalties, debarred from serving their Sovereign unless they renounced their religion. A whole nation was thus proscribed upon the idle pretext that it was necessary to defend the church of another nation. It was asked, Did the Church of England aspire, like the Mussulmans of Turkey, to be exclusively charged with the defence of the empire? If so, let the Presbyterians and Dissenters withdraw, and it would be seen what sort of defence it would have. Take from the field of Waterloo the Scottish regiments; take away, too, the sons of Ireland: what then would have been the chance of victory? If they sought the aid of Scottish and Irish soldiers in the hour of peril, why deny them equal rights and privileges in times of peace? Besides, the Church could derive no real strength from exclusion and coercion, which only generated ill-will and a rankling feeling of injustice. The Established Church of Scotland had been safe without any Test and Corporation Acts. They had been abolished in Ireland half a century ago without any evil accruing to the Church in that country. It was contrary to the spirit of the age to keep up irritating yet inefficient and impracticable restrictions, which were a disgrace to the Statute Book.
It is said that Sir Robert had, some time before, addressed a letter to the Pretender with the object of softening the asperity of his partisans in England, and that this had so raised the hopes of James, that Walpole was actually intending to come round, that he had ordered his followers to avoid anything which should shake his power. Whatever the cause, the fact was striking, and the Opposition having concluded its onslaught upon him, he rose to make his reply. It was an occasion which demanded the utmost exertion of his powers, and he put them forth. Walpole's speech on this day has justly been deemed his masterpiece. It was four o'clock in the morning when he concluded his masterly defence, and the motion was instantly rejected by two hundred and ninety votes against one hundred and six. The immediate effect of the attack appeared to be to strengthen the Minister, and that considerably; his levée the next morning was more crowded than had ever been known, and he seemed to sway the Cabinet with uncontrolled power. But thinking men predicted that the blow would tell in the end, when the momentary enthusiasm had gone off; and Walpole himself seemed to be of the same opinion. The attack, in truth, was but the first outbreak of the storm which, kept up by the implacable spirit of a powerful Opposition, was sure to bear him down at last.The irritation which this note caused was increased by the fact that before it was communicated by Sir Henry Bulwer to the Spanish Minister, the Duke de Sotomayor, a copy of it had got into print in one of the Opposition journals. In replying to it the Duke reminded our representative that when Lord Palmerston sent the despatch in question the Spanish Cortes were sitting, the press was entirely free, and the Government had adopted a line of conduct admitted to be full of kindness and conciliation. He asked, therefore, what motive could induce the British Minister to make himself the interpreter of the feelings and opinions of a foreign and independent nation in regard to its domestic affairs, and the kind of men that should be admitted to its councils. The Spanish Cabinet, which had the full confidence of the Crown and the Cortes and had been acting in conformity with the constitution and the laws, could not see "without the most extreme surprise the extraordinary pretensions of Lord Palmerston, which led him to interfere in this manner with the internal affairs of Spain, and to support himself on inexact and equivocal data, and the qualification and appreciation of which could not, in any case, come within his province." They declined to give any account of their conduct at the instigation of a foreign Power, and declared that all the legal parties in Spain unanimously rejected such a humiliating pretension. And, he triumphantly asked, "What would Lord Palmerston say if the Spanish Government were to interfere in the administrative acts of the British Cabinet, and recommend a modification of the régime of the State; or if it were to advise it to adopt more efficacious or more liberal measures to alleviate the frightful condition of Ireland? What would he say if the representative of her Catholic Majesty in London were to qualify so harshly as your Excellency has done, the exceptional measures of repression which the English Government prepares against the aggression which threatens in the midst of its own States? What would he say if the Spanish Government were to demand, in the name of humanity, more consideration and more justice on behalf of the unfortunate people of Asia? What, in fine, would he say if we were to remind him that the late events on the Continent gave a salutary lesson to all Governments, without excepting Great Britain?"
I forged the letter—I disposed the picture—Almost immediately on the meeting of the House of Commons, Welbore Ellis demanded whether a return had been made for Westminster, and being answered in the negative, moved that Mr. Corbett, the high bailiff, with his assessor, should attend the House; and the next day, February 2nd, Colonel Fitzpatrick presented a petition from the electors of Westminster, complaining that they were not legally and duly represented. In fact, the scrutiny had now been going on for eight months, and as not even two of the seven parishes of Westminster were yet scrutinised, it was calculated that, at this rate, the whole process would require three years, and the city would, therefore, remain as long unrepresented. The high bailiff stated that the examinations, cross-examinations, and arguments of counsel were so long, that he saw no prospect of a speedy conclusion; and Mr. Murphy, his assessor, gave evidence that each vote was tried with as much form and prolixity as any cause in Westminster Hall; that counsel—and this applied to both sides—claimed a right to make five speeches on one vote; and that propositions had been put in on the part of Sir Cecil Wray to shorten the proceedings, but objected to on the part of Mr. Fox.The spirit of gambling thus set going by Government itself soon surpassed all bounds, and burst forth in a thousand shapes. It was well known that the king, his mistresses, his courtiers, his son and heir apparent, were all dabbling busily in the muddy waters of this huge pool of trickery and corruption. A thousand other schemes were invented and made public to draw in fresh gudgeons, and the Prince of Wales allowed his name to stand as governor of a Welsh Copper Company. All ranks and classes rushed to Change Alley—dukes, lords, country squires, bishops, clergy (both Established and Dissenting), were mixed up with stockjobbers and brokers in eager traffic. Ladies of all ranks mingled in the throng, struggling through the press and straining their voices to be heard amid the hubbub. There and all over the kingdom were advertised and hawked about the following and other schemes:—Wrecks to be fished for on the Irish coast; plans for making of oil from sunflower seeds; for extracting of silver from lead; for the transmuting of quicksilver into a malleable and fine metal; for importing a number of large jackasses from Spain; for a wheel for perpetual motion; and, finally, for an undertaking which shall in due time be revealed!
The Bill having passed, amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the Reformers, Lord John Russell and Lord Althorp were ordered to carry it in to the Lords, and "to request the concurrence of their Lordships in the same." They did so on Monday, the 26th, followed by a large number of members. It was read by the Lords the first time, and the debate on the second reading commenced on the 9th of April. On that day the Duke of Buckingham gave notice that—in the event of the Bill being rejected, a result which he fully anticipated—he would bring in a Reform Bill, of which the principal provisions would be to give members to large and important towns, to unite and consolidate certain boroughs, and to extend the elective franchise. Lord Grey then rose to move the second reading of the Reform Bill. The principle of the Bill, he remarked, was now universally conceded. It was admitted in the Duke of Buckingham's motion. Even the Duke of Wellington did not declare against all reform. They differed with the Opposition then only as to the extent to which reform should be carried. He adverted to the modifications that had been made in the Bill, and to the unmistakable determination of the people. At this moment the public mind was tranquil, clamour had ceased—all was anxious suspense and silent expectation. Lord Grey disclaimed any wish to intimidate their lordships, but he cautioned them not to misapprehend the awful silence of the people. "Though the people are silent," he said, "they are looking at our proceedings this night no less intently than they have looked ever since the question was first agitated. I know it is pretended by many that the nation has no confidence in the Peers, because there is an opinion out of doors that the interests of the aristocracy are separated from those of the people. On the part of this House, however, I disclaim all such separation of interests; and therefore I am willing to believe that the silence of which I have spoken is the fruit of a latent hope still existing in their bosoms." The Duke was severe upon the "waverers," Lords Wharncliffe and Harrowby, who defended themselves on the ground that the Bill must be carried, if not by the consent of the Opposition, against their will, by a creation of peers that would swamp them. The Earl of Winchilsea, on the third day, expressed unbounded indignation at the proposed peer-making. If such a measure were adopted he would no longer sit in the House thus insulted and outraged; but would bide his time till the return of those good days which would enable him to vindicate the insulted laws of his country by bringing an unconstitutional Minister before the bar of his peers. The Duke of Buckingham would prefer cholera to the pestilence with which this Bill would contaminate the Constitution. This day the Bill found two defenders on the episcopal bench, the Bishops of London and Llandaff. The Bishop of Exeter, in the course of the debate, made remarks which called forth a powerful and scathing oration from Lord Durham. The Bill was defended by Lord Goderich, and Lord Grey rose to reply at five o'clock on Friday morning. Referring to the attack of the Bishop of Exeter, he said, "The right reverend prelate threw out insinuations about my ambition: let me tell him calmly that the pulses of ambition may beat as strongly under sleeves of lawn as under an ordinary habit." He concluded by referring to the proposed creation of peers, which he contended was justified by the best constitutional writers, in extraordinary circumstances, and was in accordance with the acknowledged principles of the Constitution. The House at length divided at seven o'clock on the morning of the 13th, when the second reading was carried by a majority of nine; the numbers being—contents present, 128; proxies, 56-184; non-contents present, 126; proxies, 49-175. The Duke of Wellington entered an elaborate protest on the journals of the House against the Bill, to which protest 73 peers attached their signatures.While the landed interest were thus showing their determination to maintain, at all hazards, the laws for preventing the importation of foreign corn, a spirit of opposition had been growing up in the large manufacturing towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, which, though only partially shared in by the working classes, was already significant of the approaching downfall of the system of monopoly. The first use made by Manchester of its constitution as a political borough by the Reform Act was to send to Parliament Mr. Poulett Thomson and Mr. Mark Philips, two members long conspicuous in the House for the zeal and ability with which they supported the principles of Free Trade. The Manchester newspapers generally advocated the same views; and Manchester became regarded as the centre of the Anti-Corn Law agitation. No organised movement, however, had yet been attempted. A series of good harvests from 1832 to 1835 rendered it extremely difficult to arouse public attention to the injustice which the bread law invariably inflicted in less favourable circumstances. Nevertheless, the effort was made. In January, 1834, a meeting of merchants and manufacturers was held in the Manchester Exchange Committee-room, to consider how the cause of Corn Law Repeal was to be forwarded, at which some powerful speeches were delivered by the members for the borough and other speakers of influence. A committee was appointed, which timidly endeavoured to avoid the appearance of a political agitation and finally ended by doing nothing. But soon the desultory opposition to the bread tax of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce—a body which had only presented one petition on the subject in seven years—was no longer sufficient to represent the feeling of that great centre of industry. Seven men united themselves in the month of October, 1838, to advocate the freedom of trade. The names of those seven members are now scarcely remembered out of Manchester, with the exception of Mr. Archibald Prentice, the historian of the League, whose newspaper, the Manchester Times, had fought with considerable talent, and with inexhaustible energy on the side of all the great reforms of this important period in our history. In that newspaper for the 13th of October a list of the Provisional Committee of a new Anti-Corn Law Association was for the first time published. It comprised thirty-seven names, chiefly of Manchester manufacturers, and ended with the modest note that "Subscriptions, 5s. each, would be received by the members of that committee." Such was the simple origin of that vast movement which, a few years later, compelled the very chiefs of the landowners' party in Parliament to become the instruments for carrying out measures more sweeping than even the most ardent Free Traders had regarded as possible. But men of influence were beginning to join the movement. The list of the Provisional Committee contained at least one name which afterwards became famous—that of Mr. John Bright. Three of them became members of Parliament at a later date, and another, Mr. George Wilson, was afterwards known as the permanent chairman of the League.At length the fated 1st of March arrived, when the Paymaster of the Forces arose amidst profound silence, to state the Bill. Lord John Russell's speech was remarkable for research, accuracy, and knowledge of constitutional law, but not for oratory. He showed that the grievances of which the people complained, in connection with the Parliamentary representation, were three—first, the nomination of members by individuals; secondly, elections by close corporations; and thirdly, the enormous expenses of elections. Sixty nomination boroughs, not having a population of 2,000 each, were to be totally disfranchised; 46 boroughs, having a population of not more than 4,000, and returning two members each, would be deprived of one. The seats thus obtained were to be given to large towns and populous counties. In boroughs, the elective franchise was to be extended to householders paying ￡10 rent; in counties, to copyholders of ￡10 a year, and leaseholders of ￡50. Persons already in possession of the right of voting were not to be deprived of it, if actually resident. Non-resident electors were to be disfranchised, and the duration of elections was to be shortened by increasing the facilities for taking the poll. No compensation was to be given to the proprietors of the disfranchised boroughs, which was justified under the precedent of the forty-shilling freeholders of Ireland, who had received no compensation for the loss of their votes. The question of the duration of Parliaments was reserved for future consideration.
The "History of Scotland, during the Reigns of Queen Mary and James VI.," by Dr. Robertson, was published in 1759, the year of the appearance of Hume's "History of the House of Tudor." It was at once popular; and Hume, writing to him, attributed this to the deference which he had paid to established opinions, the true source of the popularity of many works. This was followed, in 1769, by his "History of Charles V.," and, in 1777, by his "History of America." Robertson's chief characteristic is a sonorous and rather florid style, which extremely pleased his age, but wearies this. His histories drew great attention to the subjects of them at that period; but time has shown that they are extremely superficial, and they have not held their place.
Anne prorogued Parliament on the 16th of July in a speech, in which she felicitated herself on having closed a long and bloody war, which she had inherited, and not occasioned. She trusted also that before the meeting of the next Parliament the commercial interests of France and England would be better understood, so that there would be no longer any obstacle to a good commercial treaty. She said not a word regarding the Pretender, so that it was felt by the Whigs that she had followed the dictates of nature rather than of party in regard to him. On the 8th of August she dissolved Parliament by proclamation, its triennial term having expired. Burnet says it had acquired the name of the Pacific Parliament; and he winds up his own history with the remark that "no assembly but one composed as this was could have sat quiet under such a peace." There was every effort made, however, to impress on the constituencies the high merit of the Parliament in making an advantageous and glorious peace, medals being cast for that purpose bearing the effigy of the queen and a Latin motto laudatory of peace.The news from Boston could not have arrived at a moment when the public mind was more ill-disposed towards the Americans. The affair of the abstraction of Mr. Whately's private letters from his house or office, and their publication, contrary to custom and to its own engagement, by the Massachusetts Assembly, had produced a deep conviction in all classes in England of the utter disregard of honour both in the American colonists and their agent, Franklin. This disgraceful violation of the sacred security of private papers roused the indignation of Mr. William Whately, banker, in Lombard Street, and brother to the late Mr. Thomas Whately. He conceived strong suspicions of John Temple, afterwards Sir John Temple, Lieutenant-Governor of New Hampshire, and, though one of the Commissioners of Customs at Boston, really hostile to the Commission, and a strong partisan of Franklin. Whately challenged Temple, and was severely wounded in the rencontre. At this, Franklin came forward with an avowal that neither the late Mr. Whately nor Mr. Temple had anything to do with the carrying off of the letters; that he alone was responsible for this act.Whilst Clive had been reducing our enemies in Bengal and Oude, a more powerful antagonist than any whom we had yet encountered in India was every day growing more formidable in Mysore, and combining several of the petty chiefs of the different States of Madras as his allies against us. He was now far more considerable than when he had appeared against us as the ally of the French general, Lally, in the neighbourhood of Pondicherry. Hyder Ali was a self-made man. He was originally the grandson of a wandering fakir; then the captain of banditti; then at the head of an army composed of freebooters; continually growing in the number of his followers, and in the wealth procured by plunder, he at length became Commander-in-Chief of the Rajah of Mysore. Soon rising in his ambition, he seized the Rajah, his master, pensioned him off with three lacs of rupees, and declared himself the real Rajah. In 1761 he was become firmly established on the throne of Mysore, but this distinction did not satisfy him. He determined to be the founder of Mysore as a great kingdom, and extended his power to near the banks of the Kistnah. There he was met and repulsed by the Peishwa of the Mahrattas, who crossed the Kistnah, defeated him repeatedly, seized some of his newly-acquired territory, and levied on him thirty-two lacs of rupees. Hyder returned to Seringapatam, which he had made his capital, and had strongly fortified, and he thence conducted an expedition against Malabar, which he conquered, and put the chiefs to death to make his hold of it the more secure. It is unnecessary to go minutely into the history of the next few years. Hyder organised an army of 100,000 men, officered by Frenchmen, and sometimes in confederation with the Nizam of the Deccan, sometimes in conjunction with the Mahrattas of the Western Ghauts, waged perpetual war on the English. In 1769 Indian Stock fell sixty per cent. The resources of the Company were fast becoming exhausted, when Hyder Ali, by an artful feint, drew the English army, in the spring of 1769, a hundred and forty miles to the south of Madras. Then, by a rapid march, he suddenly appeared, with a body of five thousand horse, on the heights of St. Thomas, overlooking Madras. The whole of the city and vicinity, except the port of St. George itself, lay at his mercy. The terrified Council, in all haste, offered most advantageous terms of peace, which it was the very object of Hyder to accept, and that, too, before the English commander, Colonel Smith, could arrive and intercept his retreat. Hyder gladly consented to the terms, which were those of mutual restitution, and of alliance and mutual defence: the last, a condition which, with Hyder's disposition to aggrandisement, was sure to bring the English into fresh trouble.
In general art the names of Fuseli, Northcote, and Stothard stand eminent, and were the foremost contributors to Alderman Boydell's celebrated Shakespeare Gallery. There were also Hoppner, Beechey, Morland; in Scotland, Sir William Allan and Sir Henry Raeburn. In caricature Gillray was a worthy successor to Hogarth.详情
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