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morable iron shutters were forced upon Apsley House, which, till the Duke's death, continued to disgrace the metropolis. At Lanark a dreadful riot occurred, which was only quelled by the interposition of the military, and the Conservative candidate was seriously wounded in the church where the election was going forward. At Dumbarton, the Tory candidate, Lord William Graham, only escape death being concealed in a garret, where he lay hidden the whole day. At Lauder, the election was carried by a counsellor in the opposite interest being forcibly abducted, and the ruffians who did so were rescued by the mob. At Jedburgh, a band of ruffians hooted the dying Sir Walter Scott. • I care for you no more,' said he, “than for the hissing of geese.' Genius, celebrity, probity, beneficence, were in those disastrous days the certain attraction of mob brutality, if not slavishly prostituted to their passions."
Wbile the elections were going for. ward, the Political Unions were exerting themselves to the uttermost, not merely to intimidate their opponents by the threat of rebellion, but by organising the means of rebellion itself.
tion of a large portion or the Tory constituencies as their representatives for passing the Catholic Emancipation Act, were evidenced by a gain to the Opposition of fifty votes. The fate of the ministry was evidently sealed; and after a defeat in the Commons in November, the Wellington cabinet resigned. After fifty years' exclusion from office, the Whigs now returned to power underEarlGrey, and immediately introduced their famous Reform Bill. The second reading of the bill was carried in March by a narrow majority of one, which showed the Whig leaders that they had no chance of success, except by a fresh agitation and a new appeal to the country. Accordingly, although the Parliament had only been elected in the previous September, it was again dissolved in April ; and every means was employed to infuriate the masses against the Conservatives; the Times, with its usual, and in this case disgraceful, subserviency to popular ideas, counselling the Reformers to use the “ brickbat and bludgeon,” and to “plaster the enemies of the people with mud, and duck them in horse. ponds." These efforts of the “friends of liberty ” were successful, and the most dreadful rioting marked the progress of the elections, especially in Ireland and Scotland. Of the excesses in the latter country our author gives the following brief but graphic summary :
“ The Lord Provost of Edinburgh was seized by the mob on the day of the election, who tried to throw him over the North Bridge, a height of ninety feet-a crime for which the ringleaders were afterwards convicted and punished by the Justiciary Court. The military were called out by the sheriff and magistrates, but withdrawn at the request of the Lord-Advocate (Jeffrey), who pledged himself, if this was done the riots would cease. It was done, and they were immediately renewed, and continued the whole evening. At Ayr the violence of the populace was such that the Conservative voters had to take refuge in the town hall, from whence they were escorted by a body of brave Whigs, who, much to their honour, flew to their rescue, to a steam-boat which conveyed them from the scene of danger. No person anywhere in Scotland could give his vote for the Conservative candidate without running the risk of being hooted, spit upon, or stoned by the mob. At Wigan, in Lancashire, a man was killed during the election riots. In London the windows of the Duke of Wellington, Mr. Baring, and other leading anti. Reformers, were all broken; and those me
“ In March and April, 1831," says Miss Martineau, “the great middle class, by whose intelligence the bill must be carried, believed that occasions might arise for their refusing to pay taxes, and for their marching upon London, to support the King, the Administration, and the bulk of the nation, against a small knot of unyielding and interested persons. The political unions made known the numbers they could muster, the Chairman of the Birmingham Union declaring that they could send forth two armies, each fully worth that which had won Waterloo. On the coast of Sussex ten thousand men declared themselves ready to march at any moment; Northumberland was prepared in like manner; Yorkshire was up and awake; and, in short, it might be said the nation was ready to go to London, if wanted. When the mighty procession of the unions marched to their union ground, the anti-reformers observed with a shudder that the towns were at the mercy of these mobs. The cry was vehement that the measure was to be carried by intimidation, and this was true; the question was, whether, in this singular case, the intimidation was wrong."
"Future ages,” says Alison, “ will scarcely be able to credit the generality of the delu. sions which pervaded the minds of the middle and working classes at this eventful crisis. The former flattered themselves that rent and taxes would be abolished, and the sales of their shop goods at least tripled, from the universal prosperity which would prevail among their customers. The latter believed, almost to a man, that the wages of labour would be doubled, and the
price of provisions halved, the moment the upon tendered their resignations, which bill passed. The Anglo-Saxon mind, emi
were accepted by the King, and the nently practical, did not, in these moments
Duke of Wellington was sent for. of extreme excitement, follow the ignis fatuus
“ Matters,” says Alison, “had now of liberty and equality,' like the French in 1789, but sought vent in the realisation of
come to the crisis which had long been
foreseen on both sides. The Crown real advantages, or the eschewing of experienced evils."
and the House of Lords had taken
their stand to resist the Bill, the Com. The new Parliament met in June,
mons to force it upon them. When and on the 3rd October the Reform Charles I. planted his standard at Bill was thrown out by the House of Nottingham, the crisis was scarcely Lords, on its second reading, by a ma. more violent, nor the dreadful alternajority of 41. The popular rage now tive of civil war to all appearance more knew no bounds. The Duke of Welling- imminent.” Then were seen the inton, the Duke of Cumberland, and the fernal placards in the streets of London, Marquis of Londonderry, were assault- to “Stop the Duke-go for gold !" and ed in the streets of London, and with in three days nearly £2,000,000 in difficulty rescued by the police and the
specie were drawn from the Bank. In respectable bystanders, from the violence Manchester placards appeared in the of the mob. The last-named nobleman, windows : “Notice-No taxes paid till whose courage and determination the Reform Billis passed;" and a petition throughout the contest had marked
signed by 25,000 persons was speedily him out for vengeance, was struck
got up, calling on the Commons to stop senseless from his horse by showers of the supplies till this was done. Even stones at the gate of the Palace, amidst Lord Milton, now Earl Fitzwilliam, cries of“ Murder bim-cut his throat!" desired the tax-gatherer, who happened Greater tumult marked the provinces. to call upon him at this time, to call The terrible Bristol riots were accom- again a week after, as“ he was not panied by others at Derby, Bath, Wor. certain that circumstances might not cester, Coventry, &c. At Liverpool, arise which would oblige him to resist Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester,
- Three groans for the Leeds, Paisley, Sheffield, and all the Queen !" was the common termination great towns, meetings attended by of public meetings ; and attempts were thirty or forty thousand persons were made to seduce the Scots' Greys, then held, at which the most violent lan- stationed at Birmingham. “The leaders guage was used, and the most revolu
of the political unions,” says Alison, tionary ensigns were exhibited. From
“were quite prepared to embark in a civil bis windows in Holyrood, Charles X. war. And although it is not yet known gazed on a scene in the King's park of how far these frantic designs were Edinburgh which recalled the opening countenanced by persons in authority, events of the French revolution; and
it was proved at the trial of Smith a speaker at the Newcastle meeting, in O'Brien, in 1848, that at this period allusion to Marie-Antoinette, reminded questions of a very sinister kind were the sovereign that “a fairer head than
put to a distinguished officer at ManAdelaide's had ere this rolled on the chester, by a person in the confidence scaffold.” “A majority,” says Roe- of a Jate Cabinet Minister.” Those buck, "of the wealthy, intelligent, who remember the disclosures respectand instructed, as well as the poor ing “ T. Y. of the Home Office" will and laborious millions, had now re- think this a very mild comment upon solved to have the Reform Bill. They the seditious proceedings of the Whig had resolved to have it, if possible by leaders. Roebuck, the Whig annalist peaceable means, but if that were not
of this period, says :-possible, by force."
After a brief recess, Parliament re. * The violence of the language employed assembled in December ; and in April by persons intimately connected with the 1832, the Reform Bill again reached
Whig chiefs, the furious proposals of newsthe House of Lords. Although the se
papers known to speak the sentiments and
wishes of the Cabinet, all conspired to make cond reading was carried, after several
the country believe that, if an insurrection nights' debate, at seven o'clock in the
were to break out, it would be headed by the morning of the 13th, by a majority of
Whig leaders, and sanctioned by the general 9, an important amendment was soon
acquiescence of the immense majority of the afterwards carried against the ministry Whig party. The consequence was, that a by a majority of 45. Ministers there- very large proportion of the more ardent
Reformers throughout the country were pre- the Reform Bill, and the era of its pared to resist, and civil war was, in fact, passing. It is graphic, succinct, and thus rendered far more probable than was masterly in no ordinary degree, - the ever really intended by those who were using
scene shifting, by turns, from the the popular excitement as a means whereby
Court to Parliament, and from Parliathey were to be reinstated in office. Had
ment to the public, while the narrathe opposition peers stood firm, and had Lord
tive sets forth, now the state of opinion, Grey retired without having exercised the
and now the condition of the country. power confided to him by the King, the Whig party would at once and for ever The chapter, which is marked throughhave been set aside ; a bolder race of poli- out by an impartiality of statement ticians would have taken the lead of the and colouring which is peculiar to this people, civil war would have been dared, and great historian, closes with a series of the House of Lords, possibly the throne reflections upon the true tendencies of itself, would have been swept away in the the Reform Bill, as viewed not merely tempest that would thus have been raised.
in the light of theory, but by the light Fortunately for the fame of Lord Grey and
of facts. It is needless to shut our the Chancellor, fortunately for the happiness
eyes to the circumstance, that the of England, the practical good sense of the Duke of Wellington extricated the nation
question of Reform, however tempofrom the terrible difficulty into which the
rarily postponed by the war, will, ere Administration and the House of Lords had
long, be re-introduced into Parliament, brought it.”
and again form an exciting theme of
discussion throughout the country. In In point of fact the Duke, whose such circumstances, it is well to see sole and simple-hearted desire was to what are the deliberate opinions on the serve his King and his country at any subject of so eminent an authority as cost to himself, finding it impossible our author. to form a Government, and urged by The obvious advantage of the passing the King to save him from swamping of the Reform Bill, justly remarks Sir the Upper House by a creation of A. Alison, is, that it has established Peers in the Liberal interest - a mea- the Government of this country upon sure which the Whig leaders insisted a greatly firmer basis.
It is one thing upon-used his influence to induce a to weaken the rule of two or three number of Peers to absent themselves hundred aristocratic or millionaire at the third reading of the bill, which holders of seats (through the old noby this means was carried by 106 to mination boroughs) in the House of 22. On 7th June, accordingly, this Commons; it is another and very dif. celebrated bill became law; but the ferent thing to overthrow the sway of King testified bis disapprobation, if nine hundred thousand electors, really not of the bill, at least of the means and practically wielding the powers of adopted by his ministers to carry it, Government, and embracing in their by positively refusing to give the royal ranks those who would have been the assent in person, and it was done by most formidable leaders of revolution. comunission.
Accordingly, the frequent conspiracies By the light of the four volumes of which took place between 1815 and Sir A. Alison's new history, we have 1830, and which aimed at overturning endeavoured to set forth the just and the Government by violence, have been fundamental grounds wbich existed for almost unknown since the Reform Bill Parliamentary Reforın, in the growth passed: even the terrible storm of reof new sections of the population, dis- volution in 1848, which shook every tinct from, and in many respects op- throne on the Continent, failed to posed to, the landed interest, which en- shake the steady fabric of the British joyed an ascendancy under the old ré. monarchy The risk now is of an. gime,—as well as the wide-spread and other kind. • There is comparatively long.continued misery in the nation, little danger now," says our author, which, by producing a morbid desire “ that our frame of government, restfor change, carried Reform beyond its ing on the basis of so numerous and just limits, and after bringing the influential a mass of electors, will be country to the verge of civil war, con- overthrown by a violent convulsion; verted the work of renovation into one but great that one portion of these of revolution. No section of Sir A. electors, having the majority, may Alison's work is better written or more use their power to advance their own deserving of attention than the long interests, without any regard to the chapter in his new volume devoted to effect their measures may have upon those of the minority of the electors, Commons are returned by urban conor the immense majority of the unre- stituencies, in which the predominant presented portion of the community.” class is composed of men paying un
This is true ; but, before going fur- der £20 of rent: so that the supreme ther, let us see what class has the supre- power in the State has fallen (as is macy under the present régime. In the always the case in a uniform system of House of Commons, as it now stands, representation) into the possession of there are 405 borough members, and the lowest segment of the enfranchised only 253 for counties. Now, by last population. census, it appears that the urban and Next, who are those £10 and £20 rural sections of the population were voters who thus give the tone to our just equal, each being ten and a half legislation ? The great majority of millions; and the landed interest pays them are shopkeepers, and the rest seven-tenths of the income tax; so are clerks or operatives, for the that in point of numbers it is equal to most part enjoying fixed salaries. the urban classes, while in point of The class, in truth, is one whose inteproperty possessed and taxes paid, it rests are peculiarly those of consumers, is considerably superior to them. Yet as opposed to producers. With shopthe counties possess less than two-fifths keepers the great desire naturally is, of the representation of the country! to have the price of the articles in which This is one blemish of the Reform Bill. they deal lowered, in order that they But the “ urban classes” is a wide may transact more business ; and in term, embracing the manufacturing, this they are joined by all those (a the commercial, and shopkeeping por- large class in old and wealthy comtions of the community; - let us see munities) who enjoy a fixed income with what section of this town-popula. from Government or other situations, tion the supremacy in the constituen- or in the form of annuities, or as the cies rests. “ Experience has now interest of their money. The interests ascertained," says our author, “what of these two classes lead them to try at the time was far from being antici. to cheapen everything, in order that pated, that two-thirds of the consti. the one inay turn over more goods, and tuents in the boroughs are persons oc- the other get more for his fixed money cupying premises, for the most part income; so that the aim of their legisshops, rated from £10 to £20."* Thus, lation is to beat down the cost of proupwards of three-fifths of the House of duction; that is to say, the wages
As this is a most important fact, a knowledge of which cannot fail to influence opinion when the Reforma question is again revived, we shall quote the note which Sir A. Alison appends to his statement:- "The author is enabled to speak with confidence on this point, from having presided for twentv years in the Registration Court of Lanarkshire, which includes Glasgow, and where there have never been less than two thousand, sometimes as many as six thousand, claims for enrolment in each year. From his own observation, as well as the opinion of the most experienced agents whom he consulted on the point, he arrived at the conclusion that the majority of every urban constituency is to be found among persons paying a rent for houses or shops, or the two together, between £10 and £20, and a decided majority below £25. But in order to make sure of the point, he has examined his note-book of cases enrolled this year (1853), and he finds that they stood thus for the burgh of Glasgow :
787 614 129
" As Glasgow contains within itself a larger number of warehouses, manufactories, and shops at very high rents-varying from £5 to £1,500 a year-than any other town, except the metropolis, in the empire, this may be considered as proof positive, that over the whole country the majority enrolled on rents below £20 is still more decided. There is no other record but the revising barrister's or registering sheriff's notes of cases which will show where the real majority of voters is to be found. The returns of houses paying the tax beginning at £20 will throw no light on the subject, for the
great majority of voters in towns are enrolled on shops which pay no tax; and even the rating to poor-rates is not a test to be relied on, as it is often made under the real value, and in many boroughs there are no police or other local burdens at all.”
of labour and the profits of the pro- of hostility between the employers and the ducing classes. Thus, cheap bread, employed, which breaks out at times, like at the expense of the agricultural the flames of a volcano, in ruinous strikes, classes,-cheap sugar and cheap tim- and annually drives above three hundred ber, at the expense of our colonies,
thousand labourers, chiefly rural, into exile. and, generally, no duties upon imports,
In less than a quarter of a century are the great object of these non-pro
after the Reform Bill had given them the
government of the country, the urban shopducing classes, which now direct our
keepers had obtained for themselves an entire legislation. We may add, that as a
exemption from every species of direct taxaconsiderable section of our manufac- tion, and laid it with increased severity upon turers now work entirely for the ex- the disfranchised classes in the State ; while, port trade, and consequently are inde- at the same time, they contrived to shake pendent of the home market and the off all the indirect taxes by which they were well-being of the general community, more immediately affected. They have got they also coincide with the shopkeepers
the window-tax taken off, and the houseand monied non-producers in desiring
tax from all houses below £20, the line to cheapen everything by free imports,
where the ruling class begins ; and when &c., in order that, by keeping wages low,
Lord Derby's Ministry brought forward the
proposal, obviously just, to lower the duty to they may be able to undersell the manu.
£10 houses, they instantly expelled them facturers of other countries. In brief,
from office by a vote of the House of Comthen, the Reform Bill threw the chief
mons. They kept the income-tax for long power of the State into the hands of the
at incomes above £150, and now they have lowest segment of the enfranchised po- only brought it down, under the pressure of pulation - the £10 and £20 voters; war, to £100 — a line which practically inand has given it to a class (the last de
sures an exemption from that burden to veloped in any country, and antago
nearly the whole of the ruling occupants of nistíc to the producing classes, of
houses below £20; while a tax producing whose prosperity it is a product) whose
now above £10,000,000 a-year is saddled interest it is to beat down wages and
exclusively upon less than 250,000 persons prices by foreign competition, and keep of the tax on grain, lowered almost to no
in the Empire. They have got quit entirely everything cheap at home.
thing those on wood and meat, and signally The representative system may work reduced those on tea and sugar and coffee, in very well in a country where the inte- which so large a part of their consumption rests of the different classes of the com- lies; while the direct taxes on the land and munity are identical, or nearly so — higher classes, not embracing above 250,000 where there is no great conflict between persons, have been increased so as now to agriculture and manufactures, or, still yield above £20,000,000 a-year, or £80 more, between the producing and non
BY EACH PERSON on an average, in incomeproducing classes ; but in a country
tax, assessed taxes, and stamps ! In a
word, since they got the power, the notlike ours, where the division of labour
ables of England have established a much and diversity of interests is so great,
more entire and unjust exemption, in their the advantages of the representative
own favour, from taxation than the notables system, especially as at present consti- in France did before the Revolution - acututed, are largely intermixed with evil. rious and instructive circumstance, indicatMark the practical results of the Re- ing how identical men are in all ranks when form Bill, and observe how thoroughly their interests are concerned, and they obthe legislation of the last twenty tain power, and the futility of the idea that years has been a class - legislation.
the extension of the number of-the gover* The middle classes,” observes Sir A.
nors is any security whatever against the Alison, of which this non-producing
establishment of an arbitrary or unjust sys
tem of administration over the governed." section of the urban population constitutes the dominant body
Another great error committed in the
Reform Bill was, that no provision was “ Have made no movement to advance
made for the representation of Labour. farther in the career of reform since they
The great body of labourers both in obtained it; they are satisfied with the
town and country are wholly unreprepower they have got, as well they may, since
sented in the House of Commons. The it has enabled them to rule the State. But
retention of " freemen" in a few great they liave set themselves sedulously and energetically to improve their victory to their
cities cannot be called a representation own advantage by fiscal exemptions and le
of labour-it is rather a representation gislative measures; and they have done this of venality and corruption. To beat so eftectually as to have created a sullen state down the remuneration of labour, both