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lower orders, and that, in all ages, by similar means a similar effect may be produced. No one will be hardy enough to assert that the desire for an Agrarian Law, or the division of property, was then general among the middle ranks ; but if any administration could have been found profligate enough to propose such measures for the sake of a momentary popularity, there can be no doubt of the reception they would have met with from the masses of mankind. If, instead of proposing to put 112 seats in Parliament into Schedule A, they had proposed to put the estates of 112 of the greatest proprietors in England into that schedule, and divide their lands among the ten-pound tenants of the great towns, a tempest greatly more violent than even that in favour of the Reform Bill would instantly have arisen. Then it would at once have been seen, how numerous are the supporters, how loud the clamour, how menacing the acts of the gainers, compared to those of the victims by spoliation. Henry VIII. had no difficulty in raising a tempest among the courtiers in favour of religious reform, when he proposed to divide the church lands amongst them; the patriotism of the Russels waxed singularly warm when the abbey lands of Woburn danced before their eyes. No one ever doubted the power at all times of raising up the poor, by the proposal to divide amongst them the power or the possessions of the rich ; what was always doubted was, whether men of property and respectability could be found to make from the seat of government such a proposal. But experience has now proved that democratic passion and political ambition can effect that prodigy.
The dissolution of Parliament consequent on the rejection of General Gascoigne's motion, it is now confidently asserted by those who have the best sources of information, was wrung from a reluctant monarch by a gross delusion practised on his too confiding judgment. It was represented to him that the Tories had stopped the supplies, and that the Government could not be carried on unless a dissolution took place, when, in point of fact, the supplies had been granted, and all that the Opposition had done was to postpone the consideration of part of the estimates for a single night. And accordingly the King, in his speech dissolving Parliament, was obliged to thank them for having granted
the supplies. But of what avail was that? The fraud had answered its purpose ; the dissolution was effected; and this under circumstances which gave the Reformers the advantage of having the sanction of the King's name for the introduction of measures likely, in their ultimate result, to be eminently perilous to the Crown. This was the fatal measure for the Crown; when William went to Parliament to dissolve the Commons, who had placed the salvation of the Constitution within his grasp, he passed the Rubicon, never again to return.
Then commenced a system of intimidation, delusion, and ruffian violence, such as never had been witnessed in England before, and we trust in God never may be witnessed in England again. The leading Ministerial journal, that which has so often since enjoyed the benefit of the confidential communications of Ministers, and obtained and published state papers known only to two or three of the Cabinet, laboured day after day to impress upon the mob of England the only effectual way to bear down all opposition. It urged them to assail the Tory candidates with brick-bats, to duck them in horse-ponds. The Reforming press generally repeated and enforced the infamous advice, and the nation resounded with every species of calumny, abuse, and falsehood, against the Conservative party. These frauds and this violence prevailed ; the rural electors were deluded by the unconstitutional and unauthorised use of the King's name; “the most popular King since the days of Alfred” was lauded to the skies as the leading Reformer of the realm, and the men who were destined, not twenty months after, to remind him of the tragic fate of Louis XVI., and “that a fairer head than that which ever decked the shoulders of Adelaide, Queen of England, had rolled upon a scaffold,” resounded incessantly in the ears of the freeholders the wishes of their popular sovereign. The unconstitutional fraud prevailed in some places, the force of ruffian violence triumphed in others ; the Conservatives were generally deterred from coming forward by the desperate aspect of public affairs, and the imminent peril to their lives and their properties if they resisted the torrent. Amidst revolutionary transports, showers of stones, broken windows, wounded electors, and every species of popular outrage, the
cause of Reform generally triumphed, and the only surprising thing is, that, in the general wreck of law and order, so many as 250 friends of the Constitution were returned to maintain a hopeless contest in the Lower House.
When, in consequence of this atrocious system of revolutionary violence, a majority of 136 was secured for the Reform Bill in the House of Commons, and the bill was sent to the Upper House, a majority of 41 of the Barons of England, to their immortal honour, and at the manifest hazard of their lives, rejected it at once. Then instantly was resumed the infernal work of agitation ; instead of yielding to the declared opinions of the greatest proprietors and wisest men in England, representing, as they did, that of nine-tenths of the education and property of the kingdom, and bringing forward a new measure, founded on a compromise between the two independent branches of the Legislature, and which, if at all in unison with the Constitution, the Peers would have been too happy to pass, they declared that they would bring in a bill as efficient as the last. They boasted, through all their organs in the press, that they had the unlimited power from the King to create Peers, and, therefore, that resistance in the Upper House was hopeless: and they recommenced, through their ruffian followers in the country, the work of intimidation, violence, and revolution. Bristol was soon in flames, Nottingham Castle burnt and sacked, Derby overwhelmed by brutal violence; while the whole press resounded with threats of murder and fire-raising against the courageous Peers and Bishops who had, for a time at least, saved their country and government; and the Ministry never, until driven to it by excesses which it was impossible to overlook, took the slightest steps to arrest the infuriated rabble.
At this critical juncture, the Conservative party in England did not act with the firmness which might have been expected from them, or which the heroic stand made by their leaders seemed to authorise the friends of the Constitution to expect. Ireland and Scotland spoke loudly forth; the Protestants of the former kingdom, seeing the dagger at their throats, roused themselves with the characteristic bravery of their race, and the friends of the Constitution showed a front, and spoke in strains of eloquence, at Edin
burgh, Glasgow, and other places, which, if generally followed in the great towns in England, would have consigned the Reform Bill, with its parent Administration, to the dust, amidst the execrations of ages. But the memorable example was not followed. The English towns, though containing a Conservative party fully as strong as those of Ireland and Scotland, did nothing. The Peers were not supported as they had a right to expect, and the Ministry were allowed to retain their places and commence afresh the work of revolution, after having sustained a shock which would have proved fatal to the strongest of their predecessors.
Meanwhile the veil was beginning to drop from the eyes of the English electors. The truth began to be generally known that the King's name had been taken in vain; that it was doubtful if he would crush the House of Peers by a fresh inundation : and the perilous tendency of the stream on which we had embarked became manifest to the most careless observers. The rural electors began to see that their darling Reform would soon saddle them with a free trade in corn; the urban, that it was destroying their business, and threatened to swallow up their property, by the effects of monetary restriction, or the ruin of their rural customers. All the elections since the general one demonstrated this. The contests at Dublin, Liverpool, Grimsby, Dorsetshire, Pembrokeshire, and latterly Berkshire, left the Ministers not a hope on a second appeal to the people. The Whigs saw that they were declining—the prospect of a county election now threw them into an agony of apprehension—they knew that another general election would reduce them to a minority in the House of Commons, and that the nation, recovered from its stupor, and escaped from the jaws of revolution, would never again intrust them with the reins of power. Everything, therefore, depended upon making the most of the Parliament which had been assembled under the transports of Reform, and keeping, at all hazards, possession of the power, if once driven from which they knew they had not a chance to return.
For this purpose, —while they brought forward a new bill in the Lower House, even more democratic than the former, and thus showed that, with a revolutionary party, compromise cannot be hoped for, and that war to the knife
(we mean constitutional war only) is the sole alternative left,—they at the same time incessantly represented, through their organs in the press, that the King was pledged to their measures, and that he would at once create 100 Peers, if necessary, to insure their success. This statement was put forth in the most confident terms, day after day, with all the circumstances of official accuracy. The day even on which Earl Grey had gone down to the King (15th January)
arrange the creation, was pompously set forth by the chief Ministerial journal; and the country was assured again and again, by those possessing evident marks of the confidence of Government, that a carte blanche had been obtained, and that its execution was only suspended until it should be seen whether the Peers would not be so pliant as to render so large a creation unnecessary. The Morning Chronicle has since admitted that all this was not the case ; that “ Earl Grey never had the unrestrained power of creating Peers.” And it is notorious that the King, when urged by his Ministers to adopt their advice as to a large creation, accepted their resignations in preference. But in the mean time this falsehood answered its purpose : it paralysed the friends of the Constitution throughout the country, who never suspected the gross fraud which had been practised against them; it gave energy and vigour to the Revolutionary party, by the prospect of certain success; it diverted attention from the gross incapacity of Ministers, which the flames of Jamaica, the abandonment of Belgium, the fall of £4,000,000 in the revenue, and the universal anxiety and distress, had made manifest to the most frantic Reformer; and it accelerated the progress of the new bill in the Lower House, by the prospect of an irresistible force in the hands of Ministers to coerce the Upper.
When the bill was brought up a second time, after a glorious and able resistance from the Conservative party in the Commons, to the House of Peers, a new system of tactics commenced, now matter of history, and which the " execrations of ages will leave inadequately censured.” Seeing that if the bill was thrown out again on the second reading, the groundlessness of their professions of an unlimited power to create Peers would become manifest, that a dissolution of the Commons would probably follow, and