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not far off–he crawls—so slowly--too late—I cannot hold—I cannot see—or hear-or feel—and I shall—dieNot then. Saved to write these words some fifteen
afterwards, and to pause from time to time as I do so, and think how those years have passed. Saved, to remember this rescue for an hour after it happened, and then, alas ! to go back into the world forgetting it. Saved, to pass through other dangers and to escape other perils; but never, perhaps, to be at such close quarters with death.
I have no distinct recollection-I never had any-of how I was got out of the water. I remember something of crouching beside the man on the ladder, a huddled mass of ice and freezing water, the ladder being swiftly drawn ashore by the ropes which were fastened to it, and breaking in once or twice in its progress over the surface of the ice. I remember the horror of each of these new accidents. I remember running as fast as I could, supported on each side by an iceman, from the Round Pond to the receiving house of the Humane Society. I remember that some one had been sent on to order the warm bath, which I found ready on my arrival. I remember how difficult it was to get my wet clothes off. I remember rejoicing that my stockings were not the pair which were darned so much at the knee, and which would have been discreditable ; and I recollect seeing the water poured out of my watch-it was a silver one, but a good performer-on the ground ; and then I remember feeling very happy, while the superintendent of the place—a man of some forty years of age, with a kind face and great bushy whiskers—kept throwing the warm water over my chest with his hands as I lay in the bath, and thought how warm it felt, and how strange it was that water should be the first thing resorted to, to repair the mischief which water had done.
Is misfortune good for us, that it makes us feel so happy and thankful afterwards ? I shall never forget the peace of that time. I shall never forget how, looking up at the face of this man as he sat beside the bath, I thought I had never seen any one who looked so good and so benevolent. He was a man who had the appearance of a sea-captain, and was the sort of person one would wish to have by one in a storm, or indeed in any kind of danger.
The receiving-house in Hyde Park is not in its interior arrangements unlike a ward in a hospital. Clean, and warm, and airy, it is provided with the means of having several warm baths at one time, and of readily putting in practice all the directions which are given in the Society's book, for the restoration of those in whom life is suspended. As soon as I had been long enough in the warm bath, I was taken out and put into a bed between two warm blankets, heated from beneath by a hot water apparatus, but without sheets. The next remedy applied, was a glass of scalding brandy-and-water of considerable strength ; after drinking which I lay down again, and thought I had never been so warm or so comfortable in all my life. I remained there all the afternoon, in a half-dreamy state, watching the attendants as they moved about the room, putting to rights the things which had been deranged on my account, and listening to the sound of the turning over of leaves, which came from an adjoining room, where the superintendent was sitting, waiting till he might be wanted again, and reading, to beguile the time, a book of shipwrecks. Meanwhile, a messenger had been sent to my house for dry clothes. The messenger thoughtfully chosen was a woman, lest, if one of the men in his remarkable costume had gone, he might alarm those to whom he was sent in an unneccessary degree. By the time the dry clothes had arrived, I was just waking up from a pleasant doze. I was soon dressed, and was safe at home by the fireside, before the lamps were lighted in the streets.
All the Year Round.
SPEECH ON POLITICAL REFORM DELIVERED AT
Now, I ask you, is this great reform we are discussing, is it worth the notice, is it worth the struggle which a people must ever make to secure or to enlarge its freedom ? It is for the towns to decide this, with such help as the county populations can give them. I am told that things are so comfortable that people don't care about political reform ; but let me tell the people in the West-end of London, who walk from great houses in Grosvenor Square to still greater houses in Pall Mall, they don't know all that is passing in the minds of the people in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and all the populous parts of the kingdom. I have seen more persons met together within the last three months than anybody else has. I know the sympathy that has been expressed on this question. I have seen the light, the fire in thousands of eyes. I know that the people do care for this question ; and I know that they are sensible that they have reason to care. Are we not the most industrious people on the face of the earth ? Have we not more steam power, more perfect machinery, more complete means of locomotion, more productive agriculture and manufactures, more of that which develops wealth, than is to be found among any other people of equal population, or of any population on the face of the globe ? And yet at this moment, with all our boasted civilization and freedom, I believe we have a greater number of paupers than we have of electors. We bury, every twenty or twenty-five years, a million of paupers ; but there is always a new rop, always a substratum of society, deplorable, lamentable to contemplate, which hitherto we seem to have been able to produce no sensible change in, and that million of paupers is a very inadequate representation of the suffering that exists. When a man is once a pauper, when he gets rid of the feeling of aversion to a state of dependence, when he feels no longer that it is a position somewhat degrading, and finds himself secure of a living for the rest of his days, it may be in the workhouse, it may be in some hovel where he puts himself, and where the guardians allow him some out-door relief, he is free from anxiety with regard to the future. But leave the million of paupers, and cast your eye
for a moment on the million just above them, who have not lost that self-respect which makes a man discontented with pauperism, who have families and homes, who have around them those dearest to them in life, expecting from day to day at their hands their daily bread, who have employment—it may be precarious, and small and often inadequate wages—who find themselves now a little more comfortable, and again depressed and verging upon the very brink of pauperism,-imagine the suffering in those families, imagine these men struggling—struggles which we in other circumstances know nothing of—then, I say, having formed such an inadequate conception of all this as the human mind can only accomplish, let us ask ourselves, “Why is it that all this exists in this country, with our magnificent power of production, with our ability to invite in from every clime under heaven the surplus of every people, to add to the luxury and the comfort of every home in England ?” Is it Heaven that is in fault? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Is it the Creator, omnipotent and benevolent ; or is it man, with his crimes and his blunders, that has occasioned these evils ? Who have been your rulers for generations back ? Who have squandered your money? Who have shed your blood ? For whom have the people of England toiled, and sweated, and bled for generations back—and with what result ? Why, to be insulted now in the year 1859, and told, with a lordly arrogance, that it is not fitting that they should be admitted to the franchise in this kingdom. I am charged with stating unpleasant facts with regard to the aristocracy of this country. We have had them our rulers for long periods, and we see the result. At least, if I have said anything against them, they and their defenders have avenged themselves in the wholesale detraction which they have passed upon the character of the great body of the people of England, of whom they say that it is not safe to give them the franchise, and that if they had it England would be a country of turbulence and violence, not of order and of peace as we now behold it. Now, don't let us pursue the question of Reform without understanding that there is a result to follow from it. If you want any great measure now, what is the process for obtaining it? You generally have to contend for it almost up to the point of civil war. This has become so much the custom in this country, that the ruling class never believe that you are in earnest until you get up to that point. Now, they tell you the people don't care about reform. You don't find 100,000 men assemble on Newhall Hill, in Birmingham,—you don't find men assemble in vast multitudes in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and threatening that if the bill be not granted, in the course of a week's time they will be on their march to London. Of course not, and I hope nothing of the kind will come, for I hope nothing of the kind will be necessary ; but the fact that they taunt us with the absence of this, is a proof that they are, however unconscious of it, influenced by the notion, and, in fact, by the knowledge, that no grea thing is ever wrested from the Government of this country by the people, except it be at the point of violent action. When you got the Reform Bill of 1832, you were within twenty-four hours of a revolution. When you got the Corn Bill in 1846, you had the help of the most stupendous famine that for many hundreds of years had visited any civilized country of the world. And now, if
you want a measure, how do you get it? Take, now, the questions of minor importance. Take Church-rates, for example, which is much more a matter of sentiment than pecuniary importance to anybody. It is a mark of subjugation, and therefore we resent it; but for twenty years the Church-rate question has been debated in the House of Commons. The argument was as plain twenty years ago as it is now ; but the rate was not abolished. Take, again, the question of the ballot. Immediately after the Reform Bill, the speeches in favour of the ballot were as overwhelming in point of argument as they have ever been since. Nothing has exceeded the logic and power of argument displayed by Mr. Grote upon that question after the Reform Bill; but the ballot is not yet the law of the land. The House of Lords and its three-fourths of the House of Commons vote, year after year, anything they like. There may be an enormous majority of the people in favour of any particular course, but you want a majority which almost comprises the whole, with your present distribution of members, to carry any great measure of reform in the House of Commons. Before Sir Robert Peel repealed the Corn Laws, Mr. Villiers, I believe, never had the votes of more than one hundred members in favour of the repeal, and yet everybody knows that, although one hundred members do not represent one-sixth of the House of Commons, five out of six of the actual population of the United Kingdom had long condemned the Corn Laws. This is a proof that we have not at present a real representation of the people. What we want is, not that you should transfer great political power from the great landowners to great merchants or great manufacturers, or to the owners of great factories ; but that, equally through all parts of the kingdom, all interests, all opinions, all wishes, should affect the Legislature—that members who sit in Parliament should feel that they are not the members of any section, but of the great body of the people ; and you would find that as opinion grew and consolidated itself throughout the nation, it would act gently, steadily, omnipotently, on the House of Commons. Instead of our having to contend with our rulers, as if they were foreign conquerors, for every change, we should find one soul animating the Parliament and the people,—the Crown and the Government would be stronger and more honoured, and the people would be happier and more contented. Now, I ask