The commercial policy which England inaugurated, in 1846, under the lead of Richard Cobden, continued in force throughout the century. Under its workings the commercial supremacy of England in the markets of the world has been achieved.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. What conditions brought about the Corn Laws? 2. What was the object of the "sliding scale"? 3. How did the Corn Laws work against both mill-hand and manufacturer? 4. Give an account of the early life of Richard Cobden. 5. Describe the organization of the Anti-Corn Law Association. 6. What impression did Cobden make in the House of Commons? 7. How was John Bright enlisted in the agitation? 8. Compare the oratorical qualities of the two men. 9. In what varied ways did Cobden's enthusiasm make itself felt? 10. What events fulfilled Cobden's prediction and brought about the repeal of the Corn Laws? 11. What were the chief events of the last twenty years of Cobden's life? 12. What tribute did Sir Robert Peel pay to him?
LIFE OF RICHARD COBDEN. John Morley. HISTORY OF THE ANTI-CORN LAW LEAGUE. Prentice. CORN LAW RHYMES. Ebenezer Elliott.
PEEL AND ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS
[ROBERT PEEL, born February 5, 1788, near Bury, Lancashire; died, London, July 2, 1850; educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, B.A., 1808 (double first); Member of Parliament, 1809; 1811, Under-Secretary for the Colonies; 1812-18, Secretary for Ireland; 1817, Member of Parliament for Oxford University; 1819, advocated return to specie payment; 1820, married Julia, daughter of General Sir John Floyd; 1822-27, Home Secretary, Leader of House of Commons; 1826, proposed reform of Criminal Law; 1828, Home Secretary and Leader of the House; 1829, proposed Catholic emancipation; 1834-35, Prime Minister; 1841-46, Prime Minister; 1842, carried Income Tax; 1846, repealed the Corn Laws; 1846-50, without office.]
When the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed, the Duke of Wellington bluntly declared his conviction that the result would be the speedy overthrow of the British Constitution. More sagacious observers than the great field-marshal were of the opinion that a radical change must ensue, and that the Tory party, long the prop of Church and Throne, having lost control of legislation in the House of Commons through the abolition of the close and rotten boroughs, could never regain the seat of power by electing a majority of members. That these forebodings and prophecies did not come true was largely due to the consummate political skill of Sir Robert Peel.
In reviewing a life so rich in public activity as Peel's it is impossible to point to any one important question as his particular contribution to the history of his time. There was scarcely a single great parliamentary battle in which he did not bear a hand on one side or the other. Indeed, hostile criticism has censured him for having in not a few instances carried to ultimate success the very measures of which, when first proposed, he had been the stoutest enemy. This is true of the Resumption of Specie Payments, the Catholic Emancipation Acts, and most notably of all the repeal of the Corn Laws. The characteristics which resulted so strangely may be accounted for in part at least by some knowledge of the early life of the great parliamentary leader.
The Peels were weavers and printers of calicoes. The father of the Prime Minister was one of the wealthiest manufacturers in his generation, a thorough-going Tory, and an ardent admirer of Mr. Pitt. He was sent to Parliament in 1790, and his support of the government by his vote there, and by his contribution of fifty thousand pounds to the war fund, won for him, in 1800, a baronetcy. There had been Robert Peels before his day, but now for the first time there was a Sir Robert.
Sir Robert's most loving care was lavished upon the training of his eldest son and namesake, who from the day of his birth, February 5, 1788, the patriotic father had prayerfully consecrated to the service of his country. Many stories are told of the pains which the great calico-printer bestowed on the lad's training for a public career. We see the little lad standing on a table to declaim or recite to his parental mentor, and read of the rigor of cross-examination to which this lad of twelve was subjected after hearing a sermon or public address. A current anecdote represents the doting father as saying, " Bob, you dog, if you're not prime minister, I'll disinherit you." At Harrow, as a schoolboy he reflected credit upon his father's training, and at Christ Church, Oxford, he achieved the unusual honor of a double first class (classics and mathematics). When he left the university at the age of twenty-one his father provided him with a seat in Parliament, and so, with every favoring circumstance of youth, health, education, friends, and wealth, he began his eventful career in the House of Commons which was to be the scene of his best labors until the day of his death.
Old Sir Robert and his son sat on the same side of the House, but the alert and active mind of the young man could not accept untested his father's political creed of hide-bound Toryism. The first question upon which the son and father parted company was on the subject of the resumption of specie payments, which had been discontinued in 1797 under the financial stress of the war with France. In 1811 the two Peels voted together against a resolution looking toward resumption, but the younger man's mind was fascinated with the economic aspects of the problem, and half a dozen years later, when the subject again pressed for settlement, he brought forward the act which placed England on a gold basis. The father openly bewailed the son's misguided course, but Peel's act became the law (1819).
Before he was thirty, the younger Robert Peel had gained a valuable experience in administrative work by a term of six years (1812-1818) as Chief Secretary for Ireland. Here, as in the preparation of his studies at Oxford and of his speeches for the House of Commons, he was painstaking, methodical, thorough, and energetic. In fact he applied to the public business the same sterling qualities which had made his father and grandfather successful merchants and manufacturers. His most notable reform in Ireland, which was then in a sad condition of disorder, was the replacement of military rule by a well-organized civil force of police, acting under the orders of the magistrates. He favored a more liberal scheme of popular education for the unhappy island, but his Tory prejudices stood in the way of relieving the Catholics of their disabilities. Because of his avowed opposition to this demand, and his bitter hostility to O'Connell, the champion of the cause, Mr. Peel—"Orange" Peel, as the Catholic Irish nicknamed him—had the satisfaction of being returned to Parliament in 1817 for the University of Oxford, perhaps the most ultra-Tory constituency in the three kingdoms.
In January, 1822, Peel entered the cabinet of Lord Liverpool as Home Secretary. From the first he showed that his mind was not impenetrable to the legal reforms which earnest men had long been advocating, but to which the Tories had turned a deaf ear. The reform of the criminal law, which still carried the harsh statutes of an unquiet age, had been ably championed by Romilly, Mackintosh, and others, but it was Peel's way first to oppose, then to admit the principle of the reform, and finally to enact it into enduring law. On his initiative, in 1823, "nearly one hundred felonies were removed from the list of capital crimes, and judges were empowered to withhold the death penalty in all cases except murder, when the culprit appeared deserving of mercy." Other acts originating with him consolidated and unified the vast and complex body of criminal statutes so as to simplify procedure, and facilitate the ends of justice. Some conception of his services in this particular may be gained from the fact that "he secured the repeal of two hundred and seventy-eight acts relating to the criminal law, embodying their useful provisions in eight acts."
On Catholic emancipation Peel's process of conversion was slower. He steadily fought the proposals for relief in the House of Commons as long as Lord Liverpool lived, and when Canning succeeded to the premiership (1827), he resigned rather than serve under a pro-Catholic chief. When the Tories came back to power under Wellington, in 1828, Peel resumed the Home Secretaryship, with the leadership of the House of Commons, a position for which he possessed incomparable qualifications. His second administration of the home department was distinguished by a series of radical improvements in the criminal laws. One law for the punishment of offenses against the person took the place of fifty-seven existing acts. In 1829 he replaced the ridiculous London watch with the police force which has served as a model for many other large cities. Many who speak familiarly of the blue-coated guardians of the peace as "Bobbies" and "Peelers" would be surprised to know that these sobriquets constitute a popular tribute to the name of Robert Peel, the creator of the model force.
These legal and administrative reforms, beneficent as they were, were not great party questions like the two others which the Wellington government had to face, and gained so little credit in the facing. The Whigs, under John Russell, urged the demand for the relief of Protestant dissenters from their political disabilities by the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. Peel argued against the change, but it was carried, nevertheless, and the Tories accepted the measure with the best grace they could summon. Their resistance to Catholic emancipation cost them more dearly. O'Connell, master of all the arts of agitation, fanned the excitement in Ireland into flame. His Catholic Association made itself heard, and felt, and feared. In June, 1828, a member of the government standing for election for County Clare was soundly defeated by O'Connell himself, a man whom the anti- Catholic laws disqualified from sitting in Parliament. The government knew not which way to turn, and O'Connell, perceiving his advantage, lashed his followers to the verge of an insurrection. This was the question on which George III. had broken with William Pitt a generation before, and now it was only by the most vehement arguments, and even by threats of resignation, that the ministers could obtain his son's consent to the inevitable. In a speech of four hours' duration Peel explained the measures to the House of Commons, confessing that the necessity under which he acted "was the severest blow it had ever been his lot to experience." The speech was an admission of defeat, and an elaboration of the measures by which the government, in the hour of concession, proposed to limit the "dangerous power of the Roman Catholics." The bill became a law, and the Irish Catholic members began to sit in Parliament—with some of the disturbing consequences which no one foresaw better than Peel himself.
The Wellington ministry barely survived the strain of carrying Catholic emancipation. The year 1830 found Sir Robert Peel—the elder baronet having died—the leader of the opposition. In this character he led his party against the Reform Bills of 1831-32. Their weak points were mercilessly laid bare, and the excellences and past glories of the existing system were effectively displayed. But nothing at that day could stop the progress of reform, as the King and peers soon learned.
The defeat of the Tories in the first general election under the Reform Act was overwhelming. They mustered less than one-fourth of the House of Commons. It seemed to most cool political observers that the Whigs who now assumed office could not be displaced for a decade at least. The spirit of change was alive in all the nations of western Europe, and in England there seemed to be small need of a political party whose steady resistance to innovation was relieved only by the exceptions in which the party had espoused reform in extremity to save its own existence. Wellington and the rigid Tories of his stripe saw no hope for their party, and little enough for England in the way along which she was plunging. Peel, however, was supremely suited to the times. Bound to the party of Church and Crown by the traditions of his father, he nevertheless was endowed with a mind which was not quite dominated by prejudice. The study of facts, the examination of conflicting claims, the weighing of argument, had their full effect upon him, and he had the courage of his convictions. At this juncture, when so much was shifting which had anchored England to the past, Sir Robert Peel, with his clear-eyed vision, his trained judgment, his honesty, and his moderation, formed a rallying point for those Tories who had no other leader, and attracted to him moderate and enlightened men of whatever party who feared the unbalanced radicalism of the day, and who were bent on preserving or conserving the best elements which remained of the ancient Constitution of England. From such accretions grew up a party which gradually dropped the name of Tory and adopted that of Conservative. One of Peel's biographers, writing of this period as Peel's opportunity, says: "Since Conservatism, like Liberalism, is an imperishable instinct in human nature, every society must contain a Conservative party, and such a party speedily develops, even amid the wildest storm of revolution. The Reform Act of 1832 had made room for a Conservative party suited to the age. The Tories had been weak because their strength was confined to the landed interest. Possessed by a panic-dread of change, bred by the events of the French Revolution, they had refused to admit any new interests to a share of power. In their despite the Reform Act had transferred the control of politics from the aristocracy to the middle class. But the English middle class was naturally Conservative. It was orderly, it was rich, it was sensitive to social influence, it was devout and serious in a stiff, unbending way. Some reforms certainly it required; an effective administration for the great towns where it lived and traded; the amendment of a poor law which shocked all its economic maxims; the abolition of negro slavery which revolted its religion; the abolition of laws which, pressing hardly upon non-conformists, revolted its sense of justice. It had not yet declared for free trade, although it might be expected to do so. The ameliorations which the middle class at this time desired, Peel was ready to approve, and these ameliorations once granted, the middle class would tend to be Conservative. But theirs would not be the conservatism of squires and rectors. They would incline to a conservatism of their own, and they would want a leader of their own to formulate it and to organize them. They would want a statesman who was bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh; a good man of business, cautious, but open to practical suggestions, one who would satisfy their ideal of industry and economy; one who would always be grave and decorous, never puzzle them with epigrams or alarm them with rhetoric; in short, such a great man as they could conceive. Such Sir Robert Peel was. There never breathed a politician more truly congenial to them. He represented their virtues and their failings; he shared their talents and their prejudices; he was always growing in their confidence; and when he died lamented by all his fellow-citizens, he was most deeply lamented by them."
With such tact and such mastery of the political situation did Peel conduct himself in the years of opposition—now mildly criticising the government's policy, now joining forces with it, and now tearing its policies to pieces—that he constantly grew in the national esteem, and began to be looked upon as the inevitable successor of the Whigs. His turn came sooner than any one expected, in December, 1834. It was too soon, in fact, for the first Peel ministry could maintain itself but a few months, failing to secure a majority of Parliament. Yet in this brief lease of power Peel gave evidence of his fitness to govern. He undertook the reform of the ecclesiastical courts, gratified the Dissenters by proposing to remove the regulations which required all marriages to be celebrated according to the rites of the Established Church. He even addressed himself to the delicate question of settling the temporalities of the Established Church in Ireland, where the collection of church tithes was accompanied with much disorder and distress, arising from the fact that the vast majority of the tithe-payers were hostile to the Protestant bishops and clergy whom they were taxed to support. The opposition, led by John Russell, took advantage of the prejudices surrounding this subject and forced a succession of adverse votes, in consequence of which the Peel ministry abandoned office in April, 1835, after one hundred days of power—a period sometimes considered the most brilliant in Peel's whole career.
For six years Sir Robert Peel remained in opposition, conducting himself so sagaciously as to gather about him all disaffected elements of the disintegrating majority. Peel saw to it that whatever popular measures of reform were carried by the Melbourne ministry should be credited largely to Conservative support. Wellington still survived as a great national figure, but his political influence was gone, and there was no one in the Whig or Liberal camp who could dispute Peel's position as the leading public man of England. Of his course at this time he said himself (1838): "My object is that by steadily attending to our duty, by censuring the government on all occasions when they deserve it, enforcing our principles by aiding them to carry those measures which we think right, even though by so doing we may be rescuing the government, we may establish new claims upon the approbation of the country."
The majority of the House of Commons was made up of incongruous elements, whose interests were at variance on many questions. Peel actually came to the rescue of the ministers not once, but so many times as to give bitterness to the taunt hurled at them by a Radical orator: "Why! the right honorable member for Tamworth (Peel) governs England. The honorable and learned member for Dublin (O'Connell) governs England. The Whigs govern nothing but Downing Street. The right honorable member for Tamworth is contented with power without place or patronage, and the Whigs are contented with place and patronage without power!"
Hard times came on and the nation faced an annual deficit. Distress was widespread among the people, nourishing the Chartist agitation on the one hand, and giving point to the arguments of the Anti-Corn Law orators on the other. There was pressing need for a wise and energetic Prime Minister, and hope of such qualities in Lord Melbourne had long since failed. The general elections of 1841 showed a clear majority for the Conservatives, and in August Sir Robert Peel came back to power, backed by a consolidated party and trusted by the nation.
The most pressing problems were financial. Peel proposed a modification of the Corn Law duties, at the same time defending the system of protection, not in the interests of the agriculturist class, but to make England independent of foreign countries for its food supplies. His proposals were enacted into law. His first budget attempted to turn the customary deficit into a surplus by means of an income tax of seven pence in the pound on incomes of one hundred and fifty pounds and upward. His revision of the tariff on imports introduced important changes looking toward increased freedom of trade, especially in the raw materials of manufacture. The times improved; revenue exceeded expenditure; consols were quoted at only a fraction below par, and two hundred and fifty million pounds of the national debt was converted from three and one-half per cent into a loan paying three and one-fourth per cent for ten years and three per cent thereafter. By another far-reaching measure—the Bank Charter Act—Peel placed salutary restrictions upon the issue of paper money, and increased his reputation as a master of financial legislation.
From year to year, as the surplus revenue increased, the government employed it to cut down the duties upon imports. From wool, cotton, and glass, and many minor items they were entirely removed, and there were reductions throughout the schedules. The grants in aid of education were trebled in the face of bitter protest from his own party. Education in Ireland was aided by grants to the Catholic College at Maynooth and by the establishment of other "Queen's colleges" in affiliation with the university at Dublin.
In one way and another Ireland played a great part in the history of this administration. In 1843 the agitation of O'Connell, for the repeal of the union of Ireland with England, culminated in immense and angry meetings which threatened the public peace. The government then took the matter in hand, "proclaimed" the gatherings and arrested O'Connell. It was the failure of the potato crop of 1845, and the consequent Irish famine which forced Peel to abandon the last stronghold of protection and recommend the total and absolute repeal forever of all duties on all articles of subsistence. The history of the repeal of the Corn Laws, in 1846, has already been given. On the day on which the bill passed to its third reading in the House of Lords, all the enemies of the government, led by Tory protectionists who considered themselves betrayed by their own Prime Minister combined to overthrow him. On a bill for the protection of life in Ireland Peel was defeated by seventy-three votes. Four days later, on relinquishing his place at the head of the government he pronounced his memorable valedictory. He should leave a name, he said, severely censured by many who deeply regretted the severance of party ties, censured also by all sincere protectionists. "I shall leave a name execrated by every monopolist who, from less honorable motives, clamors for protection because it conduces to his own individual benefit. But it may be that I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of good will in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labor and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when they shall recruit their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice."
Peel never returned to office. His conversion to free trade had split his party, and the Whigs, under John Russell, succeeded to the direction of affairs. He remained in the House of Commons, and with such personal following as yet remained to him, supported the administration. The protectionists were rallied and led by George Bentinck and Benjamin Disraeli, whose star waxed as Peel's began to wane. Death put a sudden end to his activity. He was thrown from his horse while riding up Constitution Hill in London, and died on the second of July, 1850. In accordance with his expressed wish, his family declined the honors of a public funeral, and he was buried without ostentation in the family tomb at Drayton Bassett. His statue, voted by the House of Commons, was placed in Westminster Abbey.
The Duke of Wellington, in his simple way, said of his late associate: "I never knew a man in whose truth and justice I had a more lively confidence, or in whom I saw a more invariable desire to promote the public service. In the whole course of my communication with him I never knew an instance in which he did not show the strongest attachment to truth; and I never saw in the whole course of my life the smallest reason for suspecting that he stated anything which he did not firmly believe to be the fact." Remarkable testimony this, concerning a great politician. From Disraeli, who would perhaps be less drawn to this qualification of a statesman, comes this word of praise, with many of detraction: "Nature had combined in Sir Robert Peel many admirable parts. In him a physical frame incapable of fatigue was united with an understanding equally vigorous and flexible. He was gifted with the faculty of method in the highest degree, and with great powers of application, which were sustained by a prodigious memory, while he could communicate his acquisitions with clear and fluent elocution. Such a man under any circumstances and in any sphere of life would probably have become remarkable. Ordained from his youth to be busied with the affairs of a great empire, such a man, after long years of observation, practice, and perpetual discipline, would have become what Sir Robert Peel was in the latter portion of his life—a transcendent administrator of public business and a matchless master of debate in a popular assembly."
The masterly debater never rose to heights of eloquence. His thorough and practical mind enabled him to study, sift, and give form and substance to the broad political and economic conceptions of more idealistic men. Inheriting the narrow political creed of his father, he can scarcely be blamed if his mind came slowly to advanced positions. Rather shall he not be commended who, with such prepossessions and prejudices, and with such party co-workers, keeps his mind open to conviction? "The resumption of cash payments, the amendment of the criminal law, the institution of the Irish constabulary and the London police, Catholic emancipation and the emancipation of trade, and a host of reforms only less beneficial than these make up a record of useful labor which has seldom been surpassed."
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. What unusual preparation had Peel for his public career? 2. Upon what political question did he and his father separate? 3. Describe his relations to Ireland as Chief Secretary. 4. What services did he render to criminal law? 5. What police reform is due to him? 6. What two famous party questions did he resist, but finally of necessity accept? 7. Why was Peel especially fitted to lead the new Conservative party, formed after 1832? 8. What fitness to govern did Peel show in his first ministry? 9. How did he serve his country as a member of the opposition? 10. How did he meet the financial needs of England in his second ministry? 11. How did his enemies finally overthrow him? 12. Why is Peel's life, in view of his inheritance, especially worthy of honor?
SIR ROBERT PEEL. J. R. Thursfield. SIR ROBERT PEEL. Justin McCarthy. BIOGRAPHICAL STUDIES. Walter Bagehot.
SHAFTESBURY AND PHILANTHROPY
[ANTONY ASHLEY COOPER, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, born April 28, 1801; died October 1, 1885; educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford (first-class in classics, 1822); Member of Parliament 1826; bore a leading hand in legislation for improving condition of laboring classes; President of Ragged School Union, etc.; succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father, in 1851.]
The industrial expansion of England in the nineteenth century was not a blessing unalloyed. It built great cities and created enormous wealth, and gave employment at advanced wages to a vastly increased population. But it brought with it changes in the social condition of the laboring classes which were productive of severe hardship.
The England of the olden time had been an agricultural country whose laborers, though poorly paid, either worked under mild conditions in the fields, or followed their trades in their cottages and workshops. The introduction of the steam engine brought with it a demand for fuel which forced thousands of men, women, and children to delve in the mines, and the use of machines and the adoption of the factory system shut up other thousands of both sexes, and all ages, to labor for excessive hours in crowded cities under unsanitary conditions. At the present time the system of legislation regarding the employment of women and minors, and the regulation of unsanitary conditions of labor is so thorough that it is difficult to conceive that it has all been of recent growth. When the enemies of the abuses in mine and factory first raised their voices in the British Parliament, they were even told that such things were not proper subjects of legislation. In the opening years of the century the elder Robert Peel had attacked one of the foulest of industrial abuses—the "apprentice system." Under this system the pauper children of London and the south of England were rented out to the tender mercies of the avaricious cotton manufacturers of the north. From the age of seven they were compelled to work in the mills at long hours, under unhealthful conditions, and without opportunity of education or proper recreation. When not at work they were huddled in comfortless barracks little better than slave-pens. No wonder they grew up to be hopeless and brutalized, if they were so unfortunate as to survive the arduous period of their industrial bondage—for it was no less than that. Peel's act of 1802, and other remedial legislation which supplemented it, did away with the worst features of this white slavery, but the general condition of the women and children in the English factories and mines continued to be such as to move deeply the sympathies of the humane.
In the year 1833 the little group of humanitarian leaders who had succeeded in turning the attention of the nation to the disgraceful condition of child labor, were striving to get a hearing in the House of Commons for their "short time" proposal— a law framed by Michael Thomas Sadler, for the purpose of limiting the hours of child labor in textile factories to ten hours a day. Sadler had lost his seat in Parliament, and a new spokesman was needed for the cause. The committee ventured to ask Lord Ashley to take charge of the bill, and his acceptance enlisted in the humanitarian movement a young man who was destined to be its champion for half a century.
Antony Ashley Cooper, then sitting in the House of Commons under the name of Lord Ashley, and after 1851 known to the world as the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, was one of the most remarkable Englishmen of the century. This new-found champion of the working-classes was born in London, April 28, 1801. His father was the sixth Earl of Shaftesbury, and his mother was a daughter of the third Earl of Marlborough. The father's preoccupation in public life and his mother's social duties left the early home training of the lad to a pious domestic, an earnest Christian, whose precepts and example did more than anything else to give bent to his life. In later years the Earl freely owned his mother's housekeeper to be the best friend he had ever had. He did little to distinguish himself as a schoolboy at Harrow, but Oxford appealed to him, and he applied himself to classical studies at the university with a zeal which won for him a degree with the first honors.
Parliament was the natural place for a peer's son in those days of pocket boroughs, and into the House of Commons he went as Lord Ashley at the age of twenty-five. In his diary he recorded his devout purpose to use his position "for the success of religion and true happiness," and on taking the oaths he "breathed a slight prayer for assistance in thoughts and deeds." A man of profound introspection, intense religious feeling, and sincere purpose to be of service to his kind, had some difficulty in adjusting himself to the selfish politics of the House. The first subject upon which he found voice was the reform of the laws for the care of lunatic paupers, a class whose pitiable state might have moved the most stolid heart. To this merciful project he addressed himself with a zeal and persistency which were to characterize his later efforts for other downtrodden classes.
When the labor leaders turned to him, in 1833, to champion their cause, he took the question into consideration over night, obtained his wife's cordial approval, consulted his Bible, resorted to prayer, and the next day gave himself unreservedly to the cause. His friends of the aristocratic families shunned him, his parents discountenanced his design and closed their doors against him for many years, but, said he, in dedication of himself to the work, "I believe it is my duty to God and to the poor, and I trust He will support me."
The manufacturers sought to side-track the Ten-Hours Bill by proposing that nothing should be done until a committee of Parliament should make thorough inquiry into the alleged conditions in the mills. But the very commission which they asked for could not go against the evidence of their own eyes in the factory towns, swarming with ignorant, ragged child-operatives, prematurely old. The commission reported: (1) that the work hours of children and adults were the same; (2) that such labor was resulting in the permanent physical and intellectual deterioration of the young; (3) that these maltreated children were not free agents, but hired out by parents or guardians; and finally, "that a case was made out for the interference of the legislature on behalf of the children employed in factories."
In place of the radical measure of Lord Ashley the government carried a substitute, the Factory Law of 1833. "Night work was prohibited to persons under eight even in cotton, wool, worsted, hemp, flax, tow, and linen spinneries and weaving mills; children from nine to thirteen were not allowed to work more than forty- eight hours a week, and young persons thirteen to eighteen were restricted to sixty-eight hours a week. In silk factories children might be admitted under nine, and children under thirteen were to be allowed ten hours a day. Provision was made for a certain amount of school attendance, and factory inspectors were provided to inquire into violations of the statute." At the time Ashley and his friends bewailed the passage of the Factory Act as a defeat, though the former eventually admitted that "it contained some humane and highly useful provisions, and established for the first time the great principle that labor and education should be combined."
Defeat, if that be a defeat, which forces your foe to adopt your own principles in order to win, only proved Lord Ashley's superior fitness for the leadership of the cause. Instead of abandoning the contest he began to prepare for a fresh assault by collecting information touching every part of the question. He visited the workrooms and lodgings of the operatives in every part of the land, examining at first hand their condition, and studying the problem in all its bearings with the same persistency and intellectual force which had won him his "first- class" at the university. Nothing which could subserve his cause escaped his searching inquiry, and when he arose to address Parliament his mastery of his subject was so complete as to baffle the skill of the few who durst ask him questions.
As the Anti-Corn Law gained ground the labor reformers met with a new form of opposition. Lord Ashley was taunted with inconsistency in seeking the welfare of the factory workers, while neglecting to remedy the no less servile condition of the agricultural laborers. Manufacturers as high-minded as Cobden and Bright did not scruple to say—as doubtless they believed—that the outcry against the manufacturers sprang from the desire of the landowners to harass the opponents of "the tax on bread." John Bright answered Lord Ashley's arguments for the ten hours' clause in the bill of 1844 in a speech as vindictive as it was eloquent. Though Ashley was again defeated, at this time the new Factory Act, which was passed, carried farther the principles of the original law. In 1845 his calico print-works measure brought relief to thousands of weary little hands, and in 1847 the long- worked-for and earnestly prayed-for Ten-Hours Bill became a law. Lord Ashley had resigned his seat in Parliament, but had not relaxed his efforts in behalf of the bill which he had borne on his heart for fourteen years. When the news came that the bill, after going through the Commons with flying colors, had passed the critical stage in the Upper House, Lord Ashley's feelings found vent in this entry in his journal: "I am humbled that my heart is not bursting with thankfulness to Almighty God—that I can find breath and sense to express my joy. What reward shall we give unto the Lord for all the benefits he hath conferred upon us? God, in his mercy, prosper the work and grant that these operatives may receive the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord! Praised be the Lord! Praised be the Lord in Christ Jesus!" The operatives received the news with tumultuous joy, for the act brought substantial relief to fully three hundred and sixty thousand persons, more than two-thirds of all the operatives then employed in the textile industries of the kingdom.
The manufacturers who attributed Ashley's professions of friendship for their employees to his class hatred of their masters little knew the man. His sympathies were engaged in behalf of the poor and weak in every calling, and the mill-hands were only the first whose cause he championed. The manufacturers had sometimes sought to divert attention from their own shortcomings by pointing to the greater hardship of the colliery workers, and in 1840 Lord Ashley took up this subject by moving for a parliamentary commission to inquire into the employment of the children of the poorer classes in mines and collieries. The first report of this commission, issued in 1842, is one of the most appalling of public documents. Sworn testimony was presented to show that much of the underground labor was performed by children under thirteen years of age, and that little boys and girls were set to work in the dark and noisome tunnels at the age of five. First as "trappers" these child laborers opened and shut the trap-doors in the passages of the mine. The stronger children, boys and girls alike, dragged and pushed the little coal wagons along the narrow passages—the roofs too low for them to stand upright, often so low as to compel them to creep on all- fours in the black slime of the floors. Some with laden baskets on their backs climbed many times a day up steep ascents. Some stood ankle-deep in water from morning till night in the depths of the pit, wearing out their little lives at the hand- pumps.
"The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, The young birds are chirping in the nest; The young fawns are playing with the shadows, The young flowers are blowing toward the west. But the young, young children, O my brothers, They are weeping bitterly! They are weeping in the playtime of the others, In the country of the free."
So sang Elizabeth Barrett of the sorrows of the children of the mines and mills in those dismal days, and it must be said for the great heart of England that its beat was still true. The coal- owners made the pitiful plea in extenuation of all the misery and indecency of the mines that without the labor of women and children the collieries must shut down, not only for lack of profit, but for the cogent reason that the flexible vertebra of childhood were especially adapted to the constrained positions required in the tunnels, and that there could be no good colliers unless as children they became inured to the privations and hardships of the life. The government tried to keep the report out of the hands of the indignant public, but "by a most providential mistake," as Lord Ashley believed, it got into circulation, to the horror and disgust of all right-minded persons. The press joined in the cry for remedial legislation. Ashley's speech in support of his Mines and Collieries Bill made an unusual impression in the House of Commons. Even Cobden, who had been ready to sneer at the "philanthropists" who opposed the repeal of the tax on bread, came over to the orator's side at the conclusion of his two hours' plea, and wringing his hand heartily, declared, "I don't think I have ever been put into such a frame of mind in all my life." From this time he no longer entertained doubts of Ashley's sincerity. The Queen and Prince Albert added their personal support. The government threw obstacles in the way of the bill, and the peers mutilated it, but Ashley's persistency carried it at last. Henceforth women and girls and boys under ten were excluded from underground work, and a system of mine inspection was established to secure the observance of the law. Such a triumph for morality and humanity was worth more to England than many battles won by force of arms.
There has been no retreat from the positions to which Lord Ashley carried the legislative protection of the working-classes. From time to time the Factory Laws were extended to cover the special demands of other industries, until the state had literally taken under its protection the whole class of children and young persons employed in manufacturing industries. It has done this in the name of the moral and physical health of the community. The general laws governing factories and workshops now cover a very wide scope. It is required that the building must be kept clean and sanitary; that dangerous machinery must be boxed and fenced; the hours of labor and meal-time for women and children are fixed, and children under ten may not be employed; certain holidays and half-holidays must be allowed to all "protected" persons; child-workers must go to school a certain proportion of the week; medical certificates of fitness for employment are required in the case of children; and notice of accidents causing loss of life or bodily injury must be sent to the government inspector. Many co-operated to bring about these results, but the chief advocate of all the beneficent reforms which have reinvigorated the English working-classes, saved the women from slavish toil and given them opportunity to make homes for their families, rescued the children from benumbing toil, and given them time for healthful recreation and mental improvement, is, by the common award of all, this simple-hearted Christian, Antony Ashley Cooper.
On the fly-leaf of a book in his library the Earl of Shaftesbury noted in pencil some of the obstacles which beset his progress when seeking the good of the distressed children: "I had to break every political connection, to encounter a most formidable array of capitalists, mill-owners, doctrinaires, and men who by natural impulse hate all 'humanity mongers' (tell it riot in Gath!) among the Radicals, the Irishmen, and a few sincere Whigs and Conservatives.....Peel was hostile.....Fielden and Brotherton were the only 'practical' men who supported me, and to practical prophecies of overthrow of trade, of ruin to the operatives themselves, I could only oppose 'humanity' and general principles. The newspapers were on the whole friendly. Out of Parliament there was in society every form of 'good-natured' and compassionate contempt.....In few instances did any mill-owner appear on a platform with me; in still fewer the ministers of any religious denomination—so cowed were they (or in themselves so indifferent) by the overwhelming influence of the cotton-lords."
Among his opponents Shaftesbury reckoned Peel, who continually sought to silence him by giving him government offices; Bright, whose malignant opposition has already been noticed; Cobden, though latterly a convert; O'Connell, Brougham, and even Gladstone, "the only member who voted to delay the bill which delivered women and children from the mines and pits."
It is foreign to the purpose of this sketch to pursue the later labors of Lord Shaftesbury; his zeal for education; his warm espousal of the cause of ragged schools for the instruction of the waifs of the London streets; his successful agitation in favor of the pitiable chimney-sweeps; in short, his support of every cause which appealed to his sympathy for the neglected classes, or which promised to benefit humanity physically, morally, intellectually, or spiritually. He was the president of scores of organizations devoted to Christian and philanthropic work, and until the close of his long and useful life, his voice and influence could always be counted on to assist such worthy causes. As his end approached his only regret was "I cannot bear to leave the world with all the misery in it." The Dean of Westminster's suggestion that the Abbey should be his last resting-place, he brushed aside in favor of the parish church of St. Giles, where his boyhood had been passed. He died on the 1st of October, 1885, at Folkestone, where he had been taken for the invigorating sea breezes. Perhaps the old Abbey Church of Westminster never saw a funeral where so many classes of English society gathered to pay respect to a dead earl. Costermongers, climbing-boys, boot-blacks, cripples, flower-girls sat with royalty, bishops, peers, and commoners in sincere mourning for a nobleman who was indeed a noble man.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. What social changes accompanied the industrial expansion of England? 2. What was the "apprentice system"? 3. Under what influences did Lord Ashley pass his childhood and youth? 4. How was the Factory Law of 1833 secured, and what did it require? 5. How did Lord Ashley prepare for a new Factory Act? 6. What opposition did he meet from the Anti-Corn Law workers? 7. How was the passage of the "Ten-Hours Bill" in 1847 received? 8. What conditions were revealed by the report on mines and collieries? 9. Describe the events which led to the passage of Ashley's bill? 10. What factory laws have since been enacted? 11. What various kinds of opposition did Shaftesbury meet in his efforts for reform? 12. To what other needy causes did he devote the remaining years of his life?
LIFE AND WORK OF LORD SHAFTESBURY. Edwin Hodder. HISTORY OF THE FACTORY MOVEMENT. Alfred.
LORD PALMERSTON AND FOREIGN RELATIONS
[HENRY JOHN TEMPLE, Viscount Palmerston, born October 20, 1784, near Romsey, Hampshire; died October 18, 1865, Brocket Hall; succeeded to the title and the Irish peerage in 1802; educated at Harrow and Cambridge; Member of Parliament, 1807; at once made a Junior Lord of the Admiralty; 1809-1828, Secretary at War; about 1830 joined Whig party; 1830-41,1846-51, Secretary for Foreign Affairs; 1852-55, Home Secretary; 1855-58, 1859-65, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. Buried in Westminster Abbey.]
The Peace is the accepted name for the condition which succeeded in England the generation which had been spent in the wars with France and the first Napoleon. For forty years after the Battle of Waterloo (1815), this condition was unruffled by actual hostilities between England and any European power, unless that "untoward event" the Battle of Navarino (1827) and the bombardment of Antwerp (1832) should be so considered. Petty wars with the native princes of India and on the Afghan frontier occurred from time to time, it is true, and the infamous Opium War was waged against China (1839-42), but until the Crimean Campaigns (1853-56) and the Indian Mutiny (1857) the war spirit of the nation was never stirred to its depths. Continental Europe during these years passed through many convulsions. Bloody revolutions shook many states, and Prussia, Austria, Denmark, Turkey, and Italy were involved in wars. The hand that piloted England among the rocks of the tortuous channel of foreign politics for nearly a generation was that of Lord Palmerston, for nearly twenty years Foreign Secretary and twice Prime Minister of the Queen's government.
Henry John Temple was the descendant of an historic English family, and was born on the Temple estates at Broadlands in Hampshire, October 20, 1784. He was, therefore, four years older than Sir Robert Peel, whom he long survived, and twelve years the senior of his sometime colleague, Lord John Russell. From Harrow, where he was reckoned the jolliest boy in the school, and the pluckiest fighter, he was sent to Edinburgh in charge of Dugald Stewart, one of the great Scottish teachers of the time, and thence, after three years under exceptional educative influences, to Cambridge. His father's death had given him the title of Viscount Palmerston in the Irish peerage, and before receiving his degree, his ambition led him to offer himself to the university as its candidate for the House of Commons. Though rejected there, a pocket borough was provided for him, and in 1807, at the age of twenty-three, he took his seat as a member for Newtown, a borough in which he had never set foot. An office was soon found for him in the Perceval government as Secretary at War, a post which was charged with the supervision and control of military expenditure and accounts—no small responsibility at this juncture. During his score of years in this capacity the young Palmerston gave evidence of superior abilities as a bureau chief, while on the floor of the House his speeches marked him as a stanch asserter of the power of England, and a dangerous man to trifle with—so quick and powerful was his gift of repartee. During the brief ministries of Canning and Goderich he received flattering offers of advancement, leaving the cabinet in May, 1828, with Canning's followers, who opposed the government of Wellington.
The young aristocrat who had impressed some of his school-fellows as having no ambitions higher than to be a courtier, had forsaken "pigtail Toryism," as he called it, and was developing along liberal lines. He had been a consistent advocate of Catholic emancipation, an admirer of Canning's broad views, and hospitable to moderate propositions for the reform of Parliament. When Lord Grey's government was formed, in 1830, he naturally accepted office under it, becoming what he had long wished to be, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Except for a few months he was the spokesman of England in the world's councils until the downfall of the Whigs, in 1841.
For the duties of his office Palmerston had many qualifications. His long training in public business; his familiarity not only with the languages of western Europe, but with foreign public men, and the national customs and peculiar modes of thought and feeling; his social faculty which gave him ready access to the minds of others; and his unfailing confidence in his country and in himself, brought him well off from a hundred diplomatic battles. As time went on the nation recognized in him some of its own most striking characteristics, and his popularity at last transcended party lines. In Lord Palmerston "John Bull" recognized himself.
Of the governing principles of his foreign policy Palmerston's own statement, made in 1848, is as good as can be given. It was not based upon any permanent alliance with other states, but provided for such freedom of action as should secure the "balance of power" in Europe, lest any single state should become a menace, like France in the Napoleonic era. Palmerston's statement was, "As long as England sympathizes with right and justice she will never find herself alone. She is sure to find some other state of sufficient power, influence, and weight to support and aid her in the course she may think fit to pursue. Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is marked out as the perpetual ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow. And if I might be allowed to express in one sentence the principle which I think ought to guide an English minister, I would adopt the expression of Canning, and say that with every British ministry the interests of England ought to be the shibboleth of policy."
The achievement of Belgian independence was the first and almost greatest success of the new Foreign Secretary. When the powers at Vienna, in 1815, were rearranging the map of Europe they had joined Belgium with Holland as the kingdom of the Netherlands, with the idea of forestalling any further advance of France in that quarter. The union was unnatural. Race, language, and religion were opposed to it, and in 1830, the Belgians revolted. A congress of the powers met in London to labor for a peaceful solution. Between the claims of Holland and the aggressive policy of France, a rupture was with difficulty avoided. But eventually, by tact and firmness, Palmerston had his way, and Belgium became an independent state, without precipitating a general European war.
The formation of the Quadruple Alliance was the next incident in this vigorous foreign policy. Portugal and Spain were plunged in civil wars, the pretenders, Don Miguel and Don Carlos, attempting to wrest the scepter from the hands of the constitutional queens. Austria, preparing to interfere in behalf of despotism, was met, in 1834, by the announcement that a treaty of alliance had been signed by the four powers— England, France, Spain, and Portugal. Though it remained in force but a short time it served its purpose.
The Eastern Question next took on threatening form. Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, rose against the Turkish Sultan, and his son, Ibrahim, invaded Syria and threatened Constantinople itself. The Turkish empire seemed about to break in two, France supporting the Pasha, and so gaining a foothold in Egypt, and Russia befriending the Porte, and advancing her frontier to the Bosphorus. Such a consummation would have interposed two hostile powers between England and her Indian empire. In July, 1840, Palmerston completed the Quadrilateral Alliance, by which England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia agreed to restore peace in the Porte's dominions. This bold stroke, backed by England's warlike attitude, and Palmerston's characteristic threat that "Mehemet Ali will just be chucked into the Nile" took the spirit out of the French government. Mehemet Ali was left to make the best terms he could with the Quadrilateral, and the crisis was at an end. This was in July, 1841. The next month the Whig ministry fell, and Sir Robert Peel returned to power. Palmerston went out of office with flying colors. "He had created Belgium, saved Portugal and Spain from Absolutism, rescued Turkey from Russia, and the highway to India from France." It is true that the picture had another side, and that the very brilliancy of his moves, the cleverness with which he played the game of diplomacy, and his recklessness of the interests of foreign courts left feelings of bitterness and defeat in the hearts of many European and American statesmen. His enemies called him a bully, and denounced his methods as "high handed," but his countrymen were satisfied.
From 1841 to 1846, as a member of the opposition, the ex- Minister exercised his functions as a critic of the spiritless foreign policy of Lord Aberdeen, for which he could find no better name than "antiquated imbecility." Upon Peel's overthrow, after the repeal of the Corn Laws (1846), he resumed the foreign portfolio in the Cabinet of Lord John Russell.
At once the question of the "Spanish marriages" became acute. King Louis Philippe of France, and his Minister, Guizot, had been plotting to marry the child-queen, Isabella of Spain, to her worthless cousin, Don Francisco, and her sister, the Infanta, to the Duc de Montpensier, Louis Philippe's brother, with results most promising to the King and to France, but most distasteful to England, as Palmerston was prompt to declare, "Such an objection on our part may seem uncourteous and may be displeasing, but the friendships of states and governments must be founded on natural interests and not upon personal likings." Yet despite these protests, the marriages were celebrated. France seemed to have outwitted Palmerston for once. But vengeance was not long delayed. The "Citizen King" had few friends among the monarchical states of the Continent, and in forfeiting the friendship of England he kicked away one of the props of his own throne. Within two years came the Revolution of 1848, which cost him his crown.
Eighteen hundred and forty-eight was a year of revolutions. Throughout western Europe the popular aspirations were struggling for expression. Constitutional government was clamorously demanded, and the despotism which had ground the Italian states under the heel of Hapsburg and Bourbon was for the moment shaken. Through her outspoken Foreign Secretary England let her liberal sympathies be known, but even Palmerston was careful to keep within the bounds of peaceful protest, avoiding all provocation to war.
In April, 1847, at Athens, the house of Don Pacifico, a Portuguese Jew born on British soil at Gibraltar, was destroyed by a mob of Jew-baiters. As a British citizen he put in a claim for damages and asked the foreign office to collect it. Palmerston had other scores to settle with Greece, and when his demands met with slow response, he sent a British fleet to the Piraeus to lay hands on Greek shipping. Greece appealed to France and Russia for protection. The trouble grew to such proportions that the British Parliament took it up. The Lords censured the government for its harsh and unjust treatment of a friendly state. In the Commons a vote of confidence in the foreign policy was moved, and on this question Lord Palmerston delivered the greatest speech of his life. It was an exposition and defense of his entire official career, and no argument could break the force with Englishmen of the triumphant sentence in which it culminated. "I fearlessly challenge the verdict which this House, as representing a political, a commercial, a constitutional country, is to give on the question before it; whether the principles on which the foreign policy of this country has been conducted, and the sense of duty which has led us to think ourselves bound to afford protection to our fellow- subjects abroad, are proper and fitting guides for those who are charged with the government of England, and whether as the Roman in the days of old held himself free from indignity when he could say 'Civis Romanus sum,' so also a British subject, in whatever land he be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England shall protect him against injustice and wrong!"
This "Civis Romanus" speech raised the orator to the highest pitch of popular regard. But the premier had found him a very troublesome colleague on account of his confirmed practice of committing the government on important matters without consulting with his chief. He was warned by the Queen's personal memorandum that this habit must cease, but an unpardonable case occurred in 1851. Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, president of the French republic, executed his coup d'etat and overthrew the constitutional government. Without consulting Queen or Premier, and contrary to their express desire, Palmerston, in conversation with the French ambassador, approved the bold stroke of the Prince-President. For this indiscretion Lord Russell summarily dismissed him.
When Lord Palmerston again took a portfolio, it was to be Home Secretary in the coalition cabinet of Lord Aberdeen (1852-55). He had become the warm friend and admirer of Lord Shaftesbury, whose mother-in-law, Lady Cowper, was now Lady Palmerston, the most gracious and skilful helpmeet that any statesman could wish to have. His inclination and his position enabled him to put through much legislation suggested by the philanthropic peer for the welfare of the working- classes. His knowledge of foreign affairs was at the service of the government, and came into active play when the Czar's claim to a protectorate over all Greek Christians in the Turkish empire brought the Eastern Question again to a fever heat, in 1853. The Czar Nicholas had said in a conversation with the British Minister concerning the political weakness of Turkey, "We have on our hands a sick man- -a very sick man; it will be a great mistake if one of these days he should slip away from us before the necessary arrangements have been made." His idea of "arrangements" was that Turkey in Europe should fall under Russian protection, leaving England free to control her direct route to India by way of Cyprus and Egypt. English diplomacy encouraged the Sultan to reject the Russian claim to the uttermost. The result was war. Turkey first declared it against the Russians, who had already invaded her Danubian principalities. Palmerston held that it was the duty of Europe to preserve the balance of power by preventing Russia from aggrandizing herself at the expense of Turkey, and when the Czar refused to withdraw from the principalities England joined with France in declaring the war, which, from the scene of its chief operations against Russia, has since been called the Crimean. Forty years had passed since Waterloo and war was an exciting novelty for British youth. England plunged into it with enthusiasm, but the feeble and incompetent prosecution of the campaign against Sebastopol, with the mismanagement of commissary and hospitals, evoked a storm of opposition, before which the Aberdeen ministry collapsed. Lord Palmerston was the natural choice of Queen and nation to succeed him. He became Prime Minister in February, 1855, and though past his seventieth year, his energy put a new face on the military situation, and his diplomacy gained a substantial advantage over Russia in the Treaty of Paris (March, 1856), which closed the inglorious conflict, and postponed for twenty years her advance toward the Bosphorus. The Queen, who had many reasons to dislike the personality of her chief minister, honored him with the Garter, in recognition of his services to the state.
Palmerston's government held together until early in 1858, handling with vigor the various problems of Eastern policy which grew out of the Crimean War, waging the brief expeditionary wars with China and Persia, and dealing with characteristic decision and pluck with the great Sepoy Mutiny in India, in 1857. To Palmerston belongs the credit of selecting the right person in Sir Colin Campbell to restore the British power in the revolted provinces, and his ready optimism helped to nerve the nation in this year of trial. John Bull felt a new pride in "Old Pam" when, in his Mansion House speech, in this time of national foreboding, he served notice on any foreign nation whom it might concern that "it would not be a safe game to play to take advantage of that which is erroneously imagined to be the moment of our weakness."
Palmerston's willingness to alter the English conspiracy laws for the sake of the Emperor of the French, whose life had been attempted by the assassin Orsini, cost him his official head in February, 1858. The second Derby administration which ensued lasted but fifteen months, giving way, in June of the following year, to Palmerston's second and last government, with a brilliant array of advisers; Earl Russell as Foreign Secretary, and Mr. William Ewart Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The lifelong determination to spare nothing which might be required for the defense of his country was still strong within him, as is shown by his strenuous advocacy of increased armaments, better coast defenses, and more and more powerful ships. "He never ceased for a single moment to keep before the nation the great lesson that empires are kept as they are gained, by courage and self-reliance."
The Civil War in America afforded one of the latest opportunities for the display of his characteristics in dealing with foreign affairs. The sentiment of the ruling class in England, the class to which Lord Palmerston was allied by birth, interest, and lifelong political association, openly showed its sympathy with the Southern side. Moreover, the English cotton-mills were shut down for lack of the raw staple, and English merchants looked longingly at the blockaded markets of the Confederacy. The Prime Minister, true to his guiding principle, made "the interests of England" the watchword of his policy. He was prompt to recognize the "belligerent rights" of the revolted states against an angry protest from the Union side; he was strenuous in his demand for apology and restitution in the case of the Confederate envoys whom Captain Wilkes, U.S.N., seized on board the British steamer "Trent"; and he taxed the endurance of Mr. Lincoln's government to the uttermost by allowing the "Alabama" and other Confederate commerce-destroyers to be built and outfitted in British ports. Not even the heavy bill of damages which his country had to pay at Geneva for this breach of neutrality has softened the bitterness of feeling which his action at that time engendered in the United States. If Lord Palmerston was the embodiment of "John Bull," he here exhibited the national character at its worst.
The "evergreen" premier, vigorous almost to the last, died at Brocket in October, 1865. He had outlived many of the traits which had laid him open to attack and criticism in his younger days, and had gained in weight and dignity. The knowledge of what he had done for England, how he had stood for her interests in the Commons, and won victories for her in foreign courts, and had penetrated and frustrated the designs of her enemies, gave him a splendid position in the esteem of English patriots. They even looked kindly upon his foibles, his foppish attire, his fondness for the turf, and his frivolous gayety, which shone undaunted when the national gloom was blackest. When he died there was a general belief that England had lost a son who had spared nothing in laboring for her aggrandizement, and he went to his last resting-place in Westminster Abbey as one who had earned a place among her most useful servants.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. Describe the early career of Palmerston. 2. How was he especially qualified for the position of Secretary of Foreign Affairs? 3. What was the chief principle of his foreign policy? 4. How was the independence of Belgium brought about? 5. What was the work of the Quadruple Alliance? 6. How did Palmerston deal with the Egyptian revolt and why? 7. What was England's attitude toward the "Spanish Marriage"? 8. Describe the "Civis Romanus" speech and the reasons for it. 9. Why was Lord Palmerston dismissed from the Cabinet? 10. What conditions brought on the Crimean War and what was England's share in it? 11. What was Palmerston's attitude in the American Civil War? 12. How did England regard the premier in the last years of his life?
LIFE OF VISCOUNT PALMERSTON. Lord Dolling and Bulwer. VISCOUNT PALMERSTON. L. C. Sanders. HENRY HAVELOCK. (English Men of Action Series.) THE INDIAN MUTINY. G. B. Malleson. THE WAR IN THE CRIMEA. Gen. Sir Edward Hamley.
GLADSTONE AND THE IRISH QUESTION
[WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE, born, Liverpool, December 29, 1809; died, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales, May 19, 1898; educated at Eton and Christ Church College, Oxford University (double first- class, 1831); Member of Parliament for Newark as a Tory, 1832 46; wrote, 1838, "The State in its Relations with the Church"; held minor financial offices in Peel administration; 1843-45, President of Board of Trade; 1847-65, Member of Parliament for Oxford University; 1852, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Aberdeen; 1858, Commissioner to the Ionian Islands; 1859, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Palmerston; 1865, defeated as candidate for Oxford but returned for South Lancashire as a Liberal; leader of House of Commons; proposes radical Reform Bill; 1868, Member of Parliament for Greenwich; 1868-74, Premier (I.); Disestablishes Irish Church; carries National Educational Law, Ballot Law, Irish Land Act; abolishes purchase in the army; resigns Liberal leadership in 1875, and publishes works on ecclesiastical controversy; 1876, attacks Disraeli's Eastern policy in letters on Bulgarian atrocities; 1880, Member of Parliament for Midlothian; 1880-85, Premier (II.); Irish Coercion Acts; new Land Acts; Arrears of Rent Act; Franchise and Redistribution Acts; 1886, Premier (III.); First Home Rule Bill Fails; 1892-94, Premier (IV.); 1893, Second Home Rule Bill carried through the Commons, thrown out by the Lords; retires from public life March, 1894; buried in Westminster Abbey.]
From the first day of the nineteenth century to the last the statesmen of England have had one standing problem to face. It might come up under various forms and disguises, and it might seem to demand various remedies, but in some shape or other the woes of Ireland have always furnished the test of practical statesmanship, and have often been the rock on which proud administrations have met with disaster.
By nature Ireland would seem formed for peace and plenty. Happily located with the protecting bulwark of Great Britain between their emerald isle and foreign foes, blessed with a mild and equable climate, and inhabiting an island of singular fertility, the Irish would seem to have been marked for fortune's favors. Yet such has been the misgovernment of the English that the Irish have seen their paternal acres pass into the hands of aliens and absentees, their religion made a brand of shame and outlawry, their Parliament corrupted and done away, their industries crippled and bound down, and themselves reduced to wretched poverty.
At the outset of the century the Act of Union went into effect, abolishing the Irish Parliament and admitting Irish (Protestant) Lords and Commons to the Parliament at Westminster. Pitt believed that the change would strengthen the empire and help Ireland as well, but it was brought to pass by means of lavish bribery, and sorely against the wish of the Irish patriots. Furthermore, the determination of Pitt to commend the act to Ireland by removing the political disabilities which barred Catholics from membership in Parliament was thwarted by the stiff-necked George III., who had got it into his head that such a concession would do violence to the Protestantism of his coronation oath. Pitt resigned in disgust, and Catholic emancipation had to await until England had finished Napoleon's European business and could turn her hand to the troubles nearer home. It was finally carried, in 1829, by Wellington and Peel, the reform being fairly forced upon them by the tremendous agitation in its behalf by the eloquent Daniel O'Connell and his comrades of the Catholic Association. To save the nation from civil war the government yielded with scant grace, and O'Connell and his "tail" of Irish Catholics came into Parliament to form a new and perplexing element in all subsequent political calculations.
From his vantage-ground as a member of Parliament O'Connell led a fresh agitation for the "Repeal," meaning the repeal of the Act of Union which had destroyed the Dublin Parliament. His oratory, which in its power over vast multitudes of his emotional countrymen has never been surpassed, made him the idol of his party. To boisterous congregations of tens of thousands he declaimed his bitter harangues on Saxon injustice to the Celt. But when the people had been brought to fever heat the agitation failed because the orator proved to be a voice and nothing more. He yielded meekly to the proclamation of the government forbidding further meetings, and his followers forsook him when they saw that he would not cross the Rubicon and take arms after words had failed. The society called "Young Ireland," formed about 1840, took up the agitation for Irish nationality, and carried it to greater lengths than O'Connell had dared. Its fiery young leaders, Smith O'Brien, Meagher, and Mitchel, preached sedition with voice and newspaper press, and in 1848, only by the vigorous exertion of physical force was open rebellion averted. The principal men of the Young Ireland party were seized and condemned to death for high treason, though they ultimately got off with transportation to Australia, whence most of them eventually found their way to America, whither thousands of their countrymen had emigrated since the famine year of 1846.
The famine marks a turning-point in the history of the relations of England and Ireland. As has been narrated in another place, it was the dearth of food in Ireland which forced the government of Sir Robert Peel to do what the Cobdenites had been demanding for ten years, and repeal the Corn Laws. Probably the distressful plight of the Irish peasant had never been brought so strongly to the attention of Englishmen as by the reports which now reached England from the agents of the relief committees who visited every part of the island ascertaining conditions and distributing food. From this time a considerable number among the English Liberals carried the sad state of Ireland upon their heart and conscience. Another result of the famine which was to exercise enduring influence upon Irish politics was the emigration to America. The hundreds of thousands who came to the free republic at this time soon made it the asylum of Irish patriots, the hot-bed of anti-English conspiracies, and the source of a swelling stream of revenue for the Irish nationalist treasury.
It was in America that the next alarm was sounded after two unquiet decades. A widely ramified secret society, the Fenian Brotherhood, sprang up among the Irish exiles and emigrants in the United States about 1857, its members swearing "to free and regenerate Ireland from the yoke of England." The movement spread to Ireland, and Fenian lodges were organized even on British soil. The close of the American Civil War set loose many Irish veterans who eagerly enlisted in the cause of "the Irish Republic." The reports of vast enlistments and contributions in America alarmed the British government. In February, 1866, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in Ireland, and scores of suspects were thrown into jail. In May an armed band of Irish- American Fenians crossed the Niagara River to invade Canada. The attempt failed miserably, as did the plans for a general rising in Ireland. But a succession of surprises, jail deliveries, gunpowder plots, and the like, kept the English government in a flutter for several years, and gave the name of Fenian a place in the somber side of the century's history. The most notable result of the Fenian outbreak, beyond its obvious one of embittering the feeling between the governing nation and the subject race, was that it aroused one man—and he the greatest statesman of his time—to the need of providing some far- reaching and sufficient remedy for the disease which showed such virulence. "We know," says McCarthy, the historian of the epoch, "that even the worst excesses of the movement impressed the mind of Mr. Gladstone with a conviction that the hour was appropriate for doing something to remove the causes of the discontent that made Ireland restless.....While many public instructors lost themselves in vain shriekings over the wickedness of Fenianism, and the incurable perversity of the Irish people, one statesman was already convinced that the very shock of the Fenian agitation would arouse public attention to the recognition of substantial grievance, and to the admission that the business of statesmanship was to seek out the remedy and provide redress."
The statesman who accomplished the disestablishment of the Irish Church, reformed the Land Laws, and devoted the closing decade of a great career to a fruitless endeavor to secure to Ireland the benefits of self- government, certainly ranks among the century's foremost Englishmen. In length of parliamentary service, in the frequency and duration of his terms as premier, in administrative ability, in moral force, and moving eloquence, it would be difficult to find in the long history of English statesmanship a name which shines with a purer ray than that of William Ewart Gladstone.
The family name was anciently Gledstane, and the ancestry on both sides of the house was purely Scotch. Sir John Gladstone made his own way in life, amassed a fortune as a corn merchant in Liverpool, and became a member of Parliament and a follower of Peel. His gentle and pious wife admirably supplemented his masterful nature, and the sons of the household were brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. At the age of eleven the third son, William Ewart Gladstone, was sent away to Eton, where his two brothers were already at school. Here his piety and studious habits militated against his popularity, but here his intellectual ambition was aroused and his soul was enriched by the closest intimacy with Arthur Hallam, whom Tennyson's "In Memoriam" has eulogized. Like Canning he was a precocious orator, and edited the school paper with an ability which led some of his contemporaries to predict a great future for him. "I am confident," said Arthur Hallam, "that he is a bud that will bloom with a richer fragrance than almost any whose early promise I have witnessed." At Christ Church, Oxford, he justified the hopes of his friends- -a quiet, abstemious, reading man, mighty in debate, learned and devout in theology, and a tower of strength in examinations. He graduated with a double first class (classics and mathematics) in 1831, as Robert Peel had done a generation earlier. His choice of a career would have taken him into the clergy of the Church of England, but his father saw in him the making of a parliamentary leader, and to the House of Commons he was accordingly returned in 1833, entering the first Reformed Parliament as a Tory.
Sir Robert Peel was then engaged in rallying the shattered forces of Toryism under the new name of Conservatives, and building up a working opposition. He welcomed the eloquent young Oxonian, and when he became Prime Minister in December, 1834, he gave William Gladstone one of the minor offices in his shortlived government. In the spring of 1835 he was again a private member of the House, free to devote himself to the religious and literary pursuits which appealed so strongly to him. In 1838, when the Tractarian movement was at its height, Gladstone wrote his book on "The State in its Relations with the Church." Reviewing the work Macaulay described the author as "the rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories," words often quoted in later years, when his political bedfellows were of quite another sort. The book increased the author's reputation. In 1839 he was married to Miss Catharine Glynne of Hawarden Castle, Flintshire. In 1840 his second important book, a vindication of High Church principles, came from the press. The next year his leader, Peel, came back to power, giving Gladstone, of course, a post in the government (vice-president of the Board of Trade). Gladstone was then a protectionist like his party chief. He bore a hand in the preparation of the tariff legislation of that epoch-making administration, and though temporarily not a member of the House of Commons when the bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws was carried, in 1846, he helped to frame it, and to secure its passage. He had been fully converted to the principles of free trade as preached by Richard Cobden and the Manchester school, and remained true to that principle to the last.
Going out of office, in 1846, with the fall of the Peel ministry, Mr. Gladstone continued to occupy a prominent place in Parliament, acting with the group of Peelites, so called, who kept alive the name and principles of the lost leader. Though still accounted as of the Tory party, Mr. Gladstone's alert and open mind led him to make fresh and independent studies of current political questions and to decide them according to his own enlightened judgment. The result was to weaken by degrees the ties which bound him to the Tories and to knit more closely the bonds which were to unite his fortunes with the Liberals. In 1852, the Peelites having joined the Liberal coalition to overthrow the Derby-Disraeli ministry, Mr. Gladstone's services were rewarded with the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, in which office he delivered the first of the many budget speeches for which he was so celebrated. From 1855 to 1859 he was again out of office, and without party affiliations, "a roving iceberg," to use his own description. The latter year found him again at the head of the Exchequer, this time in the Liberal Cabinet of Lord Palmerston, where he served with distinction, becoming, in 1865, the leader of the House of Commons, when the death of Palmerston raised his colleague, Lord John Russell, to the premiership. With his chief—one of the heroes of the first successful struggle for parliamentary reform—he now drew up the Reform Bill of 1866 which was intended so to modify the qualifications for the franchise as to admit four hundred thousand new voters to the electorate. Though the government was defeated and went out of office on the question, the principle scored a singular victory, for in the following year Disraeli, bidding high for democratic support, carried by Tory votes an even more liberal measure of reform. By this bill, which some one called his "leap in the dark," Disraeli boasted that he had "dished the Whigs." The taunt was thrown at him which he had cast at Peel "that he had caught his opponents bathing and run off with their clothes." Rumor imputed to him the boast that by this move he had got the best of Gladstone and "would hold him down for twenty years," yet, within a twelvemonth, Gladstone had attacked and defeated the government in the Commons, and before the end of the next year was himself Prime Minister, backed by a powerful majority of the Reformed Parliament.
It was an Irish question which caused the overthrow of the Conservatives and swept the Liberals into their seats, and though this Gladstonian administration (1868-74) and its successors (1880-85, 1886, 1892-94) were rich in progressive measures, they are pre- eminent for what they did and attempted to do for Ireland. The three grievances of Ireland since the granting of Catholic emancipation have related to the Established Church, the tenure of land, and self- government. Mr. Gladstone took them up in succession, removing the first, ameliorating the second, and giving his closing years to a tremendous parliamentary struggle to secure the third.
The Church of Ireland, as established by law and maintained by taxation, was an absurdity. Its doctrines were offensive to five-sixths of the Irish people, whose voluntary offerings went to support the Roman Catholic priests, while the absentee Anglican Protestant rectors lived luxuriously in England or the Continent upon the revenues of their Irish parishes. The situation was anomalous. In 1867 Mr. Gladstone, ardent Anglican though he was, espoused the cause of Irish disestablishment, and went to the country on the issue, winning the parliamentary elections by a splendid majority. There was loud outcry from the British Tories, who professed to fear for the existence of the Church of England itself. The majority of the English clergy denounced the proposition, and some even declared its author a madman; but Mr. Gladstone pursued his chosen way with energy and directness. In one of those elevated speeches with which he was accustomed to ennoble debate, he laid the details of his plan open to the Commons. The Irish Church was to be disestablished and disendowed, its bishops were to lose their seats in Parliament, and it was to become a free and independent ecclesiastical body, like the Presbyterian, Wesleyan, or Catholic churches, without further aid from the state. "I trust," said the impassioned advocate, "that when instead of the fictitious and adventitious aid on which we have too long taught the Irish establishment to lean, it shall come to place its trust in its own resources, in its own great mission, in all that it can draw from the energy of its ministers and its members, and the high hopes and promises of the Gospel that it teaches, it will find that it has entered upon a new era of existence—an era bright with hope and potent for good." The Lords did not seriously oppose a measure for which the country had spoken so distinctly, and the bill became a law, July 26, 1869. One standing grievance of Ireland had thus received radical remedy.