The Leading Facts of English History
by D.H. Montgomery
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587. The Power of the House of Commons and of the Cabinet fully and finally recognized.

Queen Victoria was but little over eighteen when called to the throne. At her accession a new order of things began. The Georges insisted on dismissing their Cabinet ministers, or chief political advisers, when they pleased, without condescending to give Parliament any reason for the change. We have seen too that William IV tried to do the same thing, but had to acknowledge that he was beaten (S582). William's unsuccessful attempt was never repeated. The last vestige of "personal government,"[1] that is, of the determination of the Crown to act contrary to the will of the majority of the nation, as expressed by the Cabinet, died with the late King.

[1] See the reign of Victoria in McCarthy's "History of Our Own Times."

With the coronation of Victoria the principle was established, once for all, that henceforth the Sovereign of the British Empire cannot remove the Prime Minister or his Cabinet (S582) without the consent of the House of Commons; nor, on the other hand, would the Sovereign now venture to retain a ministry which the Commons refused to support.[2] This limitation of the prerogatives of royalty emphasized the fact that the House of Commons had practically become the ruling power in England; and since that House is freely elected by the great body of the people, in order that it may declare and enforce their will, it follows that the government of the realm is essentially democratic. In fact, so far as reflecting public opinion is concerned, no republic in the world is more democratic.

[2] In order to guard herself against any political influence adverse to that of the Cabinet (S582), and hence of the majority of the House of Commons, the Queen was compelled to consent (1841) that the Mistress of the Robes, or head of her Majesty's household, should change at the demand of the incoming Prime Minister; and it was furthermore agreed that any ladies under her whose presence might be politically inconvenient to the Prime Minister, should retire "of their own accord." In other words, the incoming Prime Minister, with his Cabinet, has the right to remodel the Sovereign's household—or any other body of offices—in whatever degree he may think requisite, and the late Prince Albert could not even appoint his own private secretary, but much to his chagrin had to accept one appointed for him by the Prime Minister. See May's "Constitutional History of England" and Martin's "Life of the Prince Consort."

Custom, too, has decided that the Sovereign must sanction every bill which Parliament approves and resolves to make law. Queen Anne was the last occupant of the English throne who ventured to veto a bill, by refusing to assent to it. That was in 1707, or more than two hundred years ago, and there is little probability that any wearer of the crown will ever attempt to do what she did. In fact, an able and authoritative English writer has not hesitated to declare that if the two Houses of Parliament should agree to send the reigning Sovereign his own death warrant, he would be obliged to sign it, or abdicate.[1]

[1] See Bagehot's "The English Constitution."

An English sovereign's real position to-day is that of a person who has much indirect influence and but little direct power,—far less in fact than that of the President of the United States; for the latter can veto a bill, and can remove any or all of his cabinet officers at pleasure.

588. The House of Lords in the Past and To-day.

A change equally great was taking place with respect to the Peers, or Lords.[2] As that body has played a most important part in the government of England and still retains considerable influence, it may be well to consider its history and present condition.

[2] Peers (from the Latin pares, equals): The word first occurs in an act of Parliament, 1321,—"Pares et proceres regni Angliae spirituales et temporales." The name Peers, referring to the House of Lords, is here limited, as it has been ever since, to the higher clergy (now consisting of certain bishops) and to the hereditary nobility.

It will be remembered that the peerage originated with the Norman Conquest. William rewarded the barons, or chief men, who fought under him at Hastings[3] with grants of immense estates, which were given on two conditions: one of military service at the call of the Sovereign (S150); the other their attendance, when required, at the Great or Royal Council (S144), an advisory and legislative body which contained the germ of what later came to be called Parliament.

It will thus be seen that the Conqueror made the possession of landed property directly dependent on the discharge of public duties. So that if, on the one hand, the Conquest carried out the principle

"That they should take who have the power, And they should keep who can,"[1]

on the other, it insisted on the higher principle that in return for such *taking* and *keeping* the victors should bind themselves by oath to help defend the kingdom, and to help govern it.

[1] Wordsworth's "Rob Roy's Grave."

In later reigns the King summoned other influential men to attend Parliament. To distinguish them from the original barons by land tenure, they were called "barons by writ" (S263). Subsequently it became customary for the Sovereign to create barons by letters patent, as is the method at present (S263).

Edward I, 1295, is generally considered to have been the "Creator of the House of Lords" in the form in which it has since stood.[2] From his time the right to sit in the House of Lords was limited to those whom the King summoned, namely, the hereditary Peers (save in the case of a very limited number of life Peers), and to the upper clergy.

[2] W. Stubb's "English Constitutional History," II, 184, 203; also Feilden's "Short Constitutional History of England," pp. 121-122.

The original baronage continued predominant until the Wars of the Roses (S316) destroyed so many of the ancient nobility that, as Lord Beaconsfield says, "A Norman baron was almost as rare a being in England then as a wolf is now." With the coming in of the Tudors a new nobility was created (S352). Even this has become in great measure extinct. Perhaps not more than a fourth of those who now sit in the House of Lords can trace their titles further back than the Georges, who created great numbers of Peers in return for political services either rendered or expected.

Politically speaking, the nobility of England, unlike the old nobility of France, is strictly confined and strictly descends to but one member of the family,—the eldest son receiving the preference. None of the children of the most powerful Duke or Lord has, during his father's life, any civil or legal rights or privileges above that of the poorest and most obscure native-born day laborer in Great Britain.[1]

[1] Even the younger children of the Sovereign are no exception to this rule. The only one born with a title is the eldest, who is Duke of Cornwall by birth, and is created Prince of Wales. The others are simply commoners. See E.A. Freeman's "Growth of the English Constitution."

The whole number of Peers is about six hundred.[2] They own a very large part of the land of England[3] and possess all the social and political influence naturally belonging to such a body. Yet notwithstanding the exclusive and aristocratic spirit of this long- established class, it has always been ready to receive recruits from the ranks of the people. For just as any boy in America feels himself a possible senator or President, so any one born or naturalized in England, like Pitt, Disraeli, Churchill, Nelson, Wellesley, Brougham, Tennyson, Macaulay, Lord Lyndhurst,[4] and many others, may win his way to a title, and also to a seat in the House of Lords, since brains and character go to the front in England just as surely as they do everywhere else.

[2] The full assembly of the House of Lords would consist of five hundred and sixty-two temporal Peers and twenty-six spiritual Peers (archbishops and bishops). [3] So strictly is property entailed that there are proprietors of large estates who cannot so much as cut down a tree without permission of the heir. See Badeau's "English Aristocracy." [4] J.S. Copley (Lord Lyndhurst), son of the famous artist, was born in Boston in 1772. He became Lord Chancellor. All of the eminent men named above rose from the ranks of the people and were made Peers of the realm, either for life or as a hereditary right; and in a number of cases, as the elder Pitt (Earl of Chatham), Wellesley (Duke of Wellington), Disraeli (Earl of Beaconsfield), Copley (Lord Lyndhurst), they received seats in the House of Lords.

In their legislative action the Lords are, with very rare exceptions, extremely conservative. It is a "galling fact"[5] that they have seldom granted their assent to any liberal measure except from pressure of the most unmistakable kind. They opposed the Habeas Corpus Act under Charles II, Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the Great Reform Bill of 1832, the Education Bill of 1834, the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, the admission of the Jews to Parliament in 1858, and they very reluctantly consented to the necessity of granting later extensions of the elective franchise.

[5] See A.L. Lowell's "The Government of England," I, 414, 422.

But, on the other hand, it was their influence which compelled John to sign Magna Carta in 1215; it was one of their number—Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester—who called the House of Commons into being in 1265; and it was the Lords as leaders who inaugurated the Revolution of 1688, and established constitutional sovereignty under William and Mary in the place of the despotic self-will of James II. Again, it was Lord Derby, the Prime Minister, and Mr. Disraeli, later known as Lord Beaconsfield, who, as leaders of the Tory, or Conservative, Party, felt obliged to carry the Reform Bill of 1867, by which the right to vote was greatly extended among the people (S600).

Seven hundred years ago the House of Lords was the only legislative and executive body in the country; now, nearly all the most important business of Parliament is done in the House of Commons (consisting of some six hundred and seventy members), and the Lords cannot vote a penny of money for any purpose whatever unless Commons first passes a bill to that effect (S281). Thus taxation, which is generally regarded as the most important of all measures, has passedf from the Lords to the direct representatives of the people.

At one time certain impatient Radicals in the House of Commons denounced the Peers as "titled obstructionists." In fact, late in the nineteenth century (1894) a resolution to put an end to their obstructive power was carried in the Commons (when half the members were absent) by a majority of two. But the vote was not taken seriously, and the Lords were not called upon to go out of business. The upper House has continued, on occasion, to exercise its constitutional righ of vetoing bills sent up to it by the House of Commons, though since 1860 it has rejected but one "Money Bill" (1909), and that only temporarily (SS629, 631).[1] Since then the Liberal Party has demanded more strenuously than ever that the veto power of the Lords should be either greatly limited or abolished altogether (SS629, 632).

[1] As far back as 1671, the House of Commons resolved "that in all aids given to the King by the Commons, the rate or tax ought not to be altered by the Lords." In 1678 they emphatically repeated this resolution. In 1860 when the Lords rejected a "Money Bill" (for the repeal of paper duties) the Commons vigorously protested, declaring that they regarded the exercise of that power by the upper House with "particular jealousy." From that time the Commons were careful to include all the financial measures of the year in one bill, which the Lords "were forced to accept or reject as a whole." See H.S. Feilden's "Short Constitutional History of England," pp. 114-115, and A.L. Lowell's "The Government of England," I, 400-401.

The House of Lords always includes a number of members eminent for their judicial ability, some of whom have been created Peers for that reason. This section acts as the National Court of Appeal and sits to decide the highest questions of constitutional law. In this respect it corresponds to the Supreme Court of the United States.

589. The Queen's Marriage (1840).

In her twenty-first year, Queen Victoria married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a duchy of Central Germany. The Prince was about her own age, of fine personal appearance, and had just graduated from one of the German universities. He was particularly interested in art and education, and throughout his life used his influence to raise the standard of both.

590. Sir Rowland Hill's Postal Reforms, 1839.

The preceding year Sir Rowland Hill introduced a uniform system of cheap postage. The rate had been as high as a shilling for a single letter.[1] Such a charge was practically prohibitive, and, as a rule, no one wrote in those days if he could possibly avoid it. Sir Rowland reduced it to a penny (paid by stamp) to any part of the United Kingdom.[2] Since then the government has taken over all the telegraph lines, and cheap telegrams and the cheap transportation of parcels by mail (a kind of government express known as "parcels post") have followed. They are all improvements of immense practical benefit.

[1] An illustration of the effects of such high charges for postage is related by Coleridge. He says that he met a poor woman at Keswick just as she was returning a letter from her son to the postman, saying she could not afford to pay for it. Coleridge gave the postman the shilling, and the woman told the poet that the letter was really nothing more than a blank sheet which her son had agreed to send her every three months to let her know he was well; as she always declined to take this dummy letter, it of course cost her nothing. See G.B. Hill's "Life of Sir Rowland Hill," I, 239, note. [2] The London papers made no end of fun of the first envelopes and the first postage stamps (1840). See the facsimile of the ridiculous "Mulready Envelope" in Hill's "Life of Sir Rowland Hill," I, 393.

591. Rise of the Chartists (1838-1848).

The feeling attending the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832 (S582) had passed away; but now a popular agitation began which produced even greater excitement. Although the act of 1832 had equalized parliamentary representation and had enlarged the elective franchise to a very considerable degree, yet the great body of workingmen were still shut out from the right to vote. A Radical Party called the "Chartists" now arose, which undertook to secure further measures of reform.

They embodied their measures in a document called the "People's Charter," which demanded:

1. Universal male suffrage. 2. That the voting at elections should be by ballot. 3. Annual Parliaments. 4. The payment of memebers of Parliament. 5. The abolition of the property qualification for parliamentary candidates.[1] 6. The division of the whole country into equal electoral districts.

[1] Property qualification: In 1711 an act was passed requiring candidates for election to the House of Commons to have an income of not less than 300 pounds derived from landed property. The object of this law was to secure members who would be comparatively free from the temptation of receiving bribes from the Crown, and also to keep the landed proprietors in power to the exclusion of rich merchants. This law was repealed in 1858.

The Chartists held public meetings, organized clubs, and published newpapers to disseminate their principles, but for many years made very little progress. The French revolution which dethroned King Louis Philippe (1848) imparted fresh impetus to the Chartist movement. The leader of that movement was Feargus O'Connor. He formed the plan of sending a monster petition to Parliament, containing, it was claimed, nearly five million signatures, praying for the passage of the People's Charter.

A procession of a million or more signers was to act as an escort to the document, which made a wagonload in itself. The Government became alarmed at the threatened demonstration, forbade it, on the ground that it was an attempt to coerce legislation, and organized a body of 250,000 special policemen to preserve order.

The Duke of Wellington took command of a large body of troops held in reserve to defend the city; and the Bank of England, the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, and other public buildings were made ready to withstand a siege.

It was now the Chartists' turn to be frightened. When they assembled (1848) on Kennington Common in south London, they numbered less than thirty thousand, and the procession of a million which was to march across Westminster Bridge, to the Houses of Parliament, dwindled to half a dozen. When the huge petition was unrolled it was found to contain only about a third of the boasted number of names. Further examination showed that many of the signatures were spurious, having been put down in jest, or copied from gravestones and old London directories. With that discovery the whole movement collapsed, and the House of Commons rang with "inextinguishable laughter" over the national scare.

Still the demands of the Chartists had a solid foundation of good sense, which the blustering bravado of the leaders of the movement could not wholly destroy. Most, if not all, of the reforms asked for were needed. Since then, the steady, quiet influence of reason and of time has compelled Parliament to grant the greater part of them.[1]

[1] Sir Thomas Erskine May, in his "Constitutional History of England," says: "Not a measure has been forced upon Parliament which the calm judgment of a later time has not since approved; not an agitation has failed which posterity has not condemned."

The printed or written ballot has been substituted for the old method of electing candidates by a show of hands or by shouting yes or no,— a method by which it was easy to make blunders, and equally easy to commit frauds. Every voter must now have his name and address registered in a printed list. Every voter, too, casts a secret ballot and so safeguards his political independence (S609). The property qualification has been abolished (S591, note 1), so that the day laborer may now run for Parliament. He is sure, too, of being well paid, for Parliament voted (1911) to give 400 pounds a year to every member of the House of Commons. The right of "manhood suffrage" has been greatly extended, and before the twentieth century has advanced much farther every man in England will probably have a voice in the elections.

592. The Corn Laws (1841).

At the accession of the Queen protective duties or taxes existed in Great Britain on all imported breadstuffs and on many manufactured articles. Sir Robert Peel, the Conservative Prime Minister (1841), favored a reduction in the last class of duties, but believed it necessary to maintain the former in order to keep up the price of grain and thus encourage the English farmers. The result of this policy was great distress among the poorly paid, half-fed workingmen, who could not afford to buy dear bread. A number of philanthropists led by Richard Cobden and John Bright organized an Anti-Corn Law League[1] to obtain the repeal of the grain duties.

[1] Corn is the name given in England to wheat or other grain used for food. Indian corn or maize cannot be grown in that climate, and is seldom eaten there.

At the same time, Ebenezer Elliott, the "Corn-Law Rhymer," gave voice to the sufferings of the poor in rude but vigorous verse, which appealed to the excited feelings of thousands in such words as these:

"England! what for mine and me, What hath bread tax done for thee? . . . . . . . . Cursed thy harvest, cursed thy land, Hunger-stung thy skill'd right hand."

When, however, session after session of Parliament passed and nothing was done for the relief of the perishing multitudes, many began to despair, and great numbers joined in singing Elliott's new national anthem:

"When wilt Thou save the people? O God of mercy! when? Not kings or lords, but nations! Not thrones and crowns, but men! Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they! Let them not pass, like weeds, away! Their heritage a sunless day! God save the people!"

Still the Government was not covinced; the Corn Laws were enforced, the price of bread showed no signs of falling, and the situation grew daily more desperate and more threatening.

593. The Irish Famine, 1845-1846.

At last the Irish famine opened the Prime Minister's eyes (S592). When in Elizabeth's reign Sir Walter Raleigh brought over the cheap but precarious potato from America and planted it in Ireland, his motive was one of pure good will. He could not foresee that it would in time become in that country an almost universal food, that through its very abundance the population would rapidly increase, and that then, by the sudden failure of the crop, terrible destitution would ensue. Such was the case in the summer of 1845. It is said by eyewitnesses that in a single night the entire potato crop was smitten with disease, and the healthy plants were transformed into a mass of putrefying vegetation. Thus at one fell stroke the food of nearly a whole nation was cut off.[1]

[1] O'Connor's "The Parnell Movement."

In the years that followed, the famine became appalling. The starving peasants left their miserable huts and streamed into the towns for relief, only to die of hunger in the streets.

Parliament responded nobly to the piteous calls for help, and voted in all no less than 10,000,000 pounds to relieve the distress.[2] Subscriptions were also taken up in London and the chief towns, by which large sums were obtained, and America contributed shiploads of provisions and a good deal of money; but the misery was so great that even these measures failed to accomplish what was hoped. When the famine was over, it was found that Ireland had lost about two million (or one fourth) of her population.[3] This was the combined effect of starvation, of the various diseases that followed in its path, and of emigration.[4]

[2] Molesworth's "History of England from 1830." [3] The actual number of deaths from starvation, or fever caused by insufficient food, was estimated at from two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand. See the Encyclopaedia Britannica under "Ireland." [4] McCarthy's "History of Our Own Times," Vol. I.

594. Repeal of the Corn Laws, 1846-1849; Free Trade established, 1869.

In the face of such appalling facts, and of the bad harvests and distress in England, Sir Robert Peel (S592) could hold out no longer, and by a gradual process, extending from 1846 to 1849, the obnoxious Corn Laws were repealed, with the exception of a trifling duty, which was finally removed in 1869.

The beginning once made, free trade in nearly everything, except wine, spirits, and tobacco, followed. They were, and still are, subject to a heavy duty, perhaps because the government believes, as Napoleon did, that the vices have broad backs and can comfortably carry the heaviest taxes. A few years later (1849) the old Navigation Laws (S459) were totally repealed. This completed the English free-trade measures. But, by a singular contrast, while nearly all goods and products now enter England free, yet Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa—in a word, all the great self-governing English colonies—continue to impose duties on imports from the mother country (S625).

595. The World's Fair (1851); Repeal of the Window and the Newspaper Tax; the Atlantic Cable, 1866.

The great industrial exhibition known as the "World's Fair" was opened in Hyde Park, London (1851). The original plan of it was conceived by Prince Albert. It proved to be not only a complete success in itself, but it led to many similar fairs on the part of different nations. For the first time in history the products and inventions of all the countries of the globe were brought together under one roof, in a gigantic structure of glass and iron called the "Crystal Palace," which is still in use for exhibition purposes at Sydenham, a suburb of London.

The same year (1851) the barbarous tax on light and air, known as the "Window Tax,"[1] was repealed and the House Tax (which is still in force) was substituted for it. From that date the Englishman, whether in London or out, might enjoy his sunshine, when he could get it, without having to pay for every beam,—a luxury which only the rich could afford.

[1] This tax, which took the place of the ancient Hearth Tax (1663-1689), was first imposed in 1695.

A little later (1855) a stamp tax on newspapers, which had been devised in Queen Anne's time in the avowed hope of crushing them out, was repealed. The result was that henceforth cheap papers could be published, and the workingman, as he sat by his fireside, could inform himself of what the world was doing and thinking,—two things of which he had before known almost nothing, and cared, perhaps, even less.

To get this news of the world's life more speedily, England had established the first line of Atlantic steamers (S565); next, the first Atlantic cable, connecting England with America, was laid (1858). It soon gave out, but was permanently relaid not long afterwards, in 1866. Since then a large part of the globe has been joined in like manner,[1] and the great cities of every civilized land are practically one in their knowledge of all important events. So many improvements have also been made in the use of electricity, not only for the transmission of intelligence, but as an illuminator, and more recently still as a motive power, that it now seems probable that "the age of steam" will be superseded by the higher "age of electricity."

[1] There are now over 250,000 miles of submarine electric cables in operation in the world.

596. The Opium War (1839); the War in the Crimea (1854).

For nearly twenty years after Victoria's accession no wars occurred in her reign worthy of mention, with the exception of that with China (1839). At that time the Chinese Emperor, either from a desire to put a stop to the consumption of opium in his dominions, or because he wished to encourage the home production of the drug, prohibited its importation. As the English in India were largely engaged in the production of opium for the Chinese market,—the people of that country smoking it instead of tobacco,—the British government insisted that the Emperor should not interfere with so lucrative a trade. War ensued.

The Chinese, being unable to contend against English gunboats, were soon forced to withdraw their prohibition of the foreign opium traffic. The English government, with the planters of India, reaped a golden reward of many millions for their deliberate violation of the rights of a heathen and half-civilized people. The war opened five important ports to the British trade, and subsequent wars opened a number more on the rivers in the interior. This action, with the later aggressions of other European powers, roused an intensely bitter feeling among large numbers of the Chinese. Their hatred of foreigners finally led to a desperate but unsuccessful attempt (1900) to drive all Europeans and Americans, including missionaries, out of the country.

Eventually, the pressure of the great powers of Europe and the diplomatic influence of the United States induced China to grant the "Open Door" to the demands of foreign trade. Later, England and China made an agreement (1911) which bids fair to stop the exportation of opium to that country.

Next, Turkey declared war against Russia (1853). The latter Power had insisted on protecting all Christians in the Turkish dominions against the oppression of the Sultan. England and France considered the Czar's championship of the Christians as a mere pretext for occupying Turkish territory. To prevent this aggression they formed an alliance with the Sultan, which resulted in the Russo-Turkish war, and ended in the taking of Sebastopol by the allied forces. Russia was obliged to retract her demands, and peace was declared (1856).

597. The Great Rebellion in India, 1857.

The following year, 1857, was memorable for the outbreak of rebellion in India. The real cause of the revolt was probably a long-smothered feeling of resentment on the part of the Sepoy, or native, troops against English rule,—a feeling that dates back to the extortion and misgovernment of Warren Hastings (S555). The immediate cause of the uprising was the introduction of an improved rifle using a greased cartridge, which had to be bitten off before being rammed down.

To the Hindu the fat of cattle or swine is an abomination, and his religion forbids his tasting it. An attempt on the part of the British Government to enforce the use of the new cartridge brought on a general mutiny among three hundred thousand Sepoys. During the revolt the native troops perpetrated the most horrible atrocitise on the English women and children who fell into their hands. When the insurrection was finally quelled under Havelock and Campbell, the English soldiers retaliated by binding numbers of prisoners to the mouths of cannon and blowing them to shreds. At the close of the rebellion, the government of India was wholly transferred to the Crown, and later the Queen received the title of "Empress of India" (1876).

598. Death of Prince Albert; the American Civil War, 1861.

Not long after the Sepoy rebellion was quelled, Prince Albert (S589) died suddenly (1861). In him the nation lost an earnest promoter of social, educational, and industrial reforms, and the United States a true and judicious friend, who, at a most critical period in the Civil War, used his influence to maintain peace between the two countries.

After his death the Queen held no court for many years, and so complete was her seclusion that Sir Charles Dilke, a well-known Radical, suggested in Parliament (1868) that her Majesty be invited to abdicate or choose a regent. The suggestion was indignantly rejected; but it revealed the feeling, which quite generally existed, that "the real Queen died with her husband," and that only her shadow remained.

In the spring of the year 1861, in which Prince Albert died, the American Civil War broke out between the Northern and Southern States. Lord Palmerston, the Liberal Prime Minister, preferred to be considered the minister of the nation rather than the head of a political party. At the beginning of the war he was in favor of the North. As the conflict threatened to be bitter the Queen issued a proclamation declaring her "determination to maintain a strict and impartial neutrality in the contest between the said contending parties." The rights of belligerents—in other words, all the rights of war according to the law of nations—were granted to the South equally with the North; and her Majesty's subjects were warned against aiding either side in the conflict.

The progress of the war caused terrible distress in Lancashire, owing to the cutting off of supplies of cotton for the mills through the blockade of the ports of the Confederate States. The starving weavers, however, gave their moral support to the North, and continued steadfast to the cause of the Union even in the sorest period of their suffering. The great majority of the manufacturers and business classes generally, and the nobility, with a few exceptions, sympathized with the efforts of the South to establish an independent Confederacy. Most of the distinguished political and social leaders, in Parliament and out, with nearly all the influential journals, were on the same side, and were openly hostile to the Union.[1]

[1] Lord John Russell (Foreign Secretary), Lord Brougham, Sir John Bowring, Carlyle, Ruskin, and the London Times and Punch espouses the cause of the South more or less openly; while others, like Mr. Gladstone, declared their full belief in the ultimate success of the Confederacy. On the other hand, Prince Albert, the Duke of Argyll, John Bright, John Stuart Mill, Professor Newman, Lord Palmerston, at least for a time, and the London Daily News defended the cause of the North. After the death of President Lincoln, Punch manfully acknowledged (see issue of May 6, 1865) that it had been altogether wrong in its estimation of him and his measures; and Mr. Gladstone, in an essay on "Kin beyond Sea" in his "Gleanings of Past Years," paid a noble tribute to the course pursued by America since the close of the war.

Late in Autumn (1861) Captain Wilkes, of the United States Navy, boarded the British mail steamer Trent, and seized two Confederate commissioners (Mason and Slidell) who were on their way to England. When intelligence of the act was conveyed to President Lincoln, he expressed his unqualified disapproval of it, saying: "This is the very thing the British captains used to do. They claimed the right of searching American ships, and taking men out of them. That was the cause of the War of 1812. Now, we cannot abandon our own principles; we shall have to give up these men, and apologize for what we have done."

The British Government made a formal demand that the commissioners should be given up. Through the influence of Prince Albert, and with the approval of the Queen, this demand was couched in most conciliatory language. Slidell and Mason were handed over to Great Britain, and an apology was made by Secretary Seward.

During the progress of the Civil War a number of fast-sailing vessels were fitted out in England, and employed in running the blockade of the Southern ports, to supply them with arms, ammunition, and manufactured goods of various kinds. Later, several gunboats were built in British shipyards by agents of the Confederate government, for the purpose of attacking the commerce of the United States. The most famous of these vessels was the Alabama, built expressly for the Confederate service by the Lairds, of Birkenhead, armed with British cannon, and manned chiefly by British sailors.

Charles Francis Adams, the American Minister at London, notified Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, of her true character. But Palmerston permitted the Alabama to leave port (1862), satisfied with the pretext that she was going on a trial trip.[1] She set sail on her career of destruction, and soon drove nearly every American merchant vessel from the seas. Two years later (1864) she was defeated and sunk by the United States gunboat Kearsarge. After the war the Government of the United States demanded damages from Great Britain for losses caused by the Alabama and other English-built privateers.

[1] The Queen's advocate gave his opinion that the Alabama should be detained, but it reached the Foreign Secretary (Lord Russell) just after she had put out to sea.

A treaty was agreed to by the two nations; and by its provisions an international court was held at Geneva, Switzerland (1872), to deal with the demands made by the United States on Great Britain. The court awarded $15,500,000 in gold as compensation to the United States, which was duly paid. One very important result of this decision was that it established a precedent for settling by arbitration on equitable and amicable terms whatever questions might arise in future between the two nations.[1]

[1] This treaty imposed duties on neutral governments of a far more stringent sort than Great Britain had hitherto been willing to concede. It resulted, furthermore, in the passage of an act of Parliament, punishing with severe penalties such illegal shipbuilding as that of the Alabama. See Sheldon Amos's "Fifty Years of the English Constitution, 1830-1880."

599. Municipal Reform (1835); Woman Suffrage; the Jews.

Excellent as was the Reform Bill of 1832 (S582), it did not go far enough. There was also great need of municipal reform, since in many cities the taxpayers had no voice in the management of local affairs, and the city officers sometimes spent the income of large charitable funds in feasting and merrimaking while the poor got little or nothing.

A law was passed (1835) giving taxpayers in cities (except London) control of municipal elections. By a subsequent amendment, the ballot in such cases was extended to women,[2] and for the first time perhaps in modern history partial woman suffrage was formally granted by supreme legislative act. A number of years later the political restrictions imposed on the Jews were removed.

[2] Woman suffrage in municipal elections was granted to single women and widows (householders) in 1869. In 1870 an act was passed enabling them to vote at schoolboard elections, and also to become members of such boards. By act of 1894 women were made eligible to sit and vote in district and parish councils (or local-government elections).

There was a considerable number of Jews in London and in other large cities who were men of wealth and influence. They were entitled to vote and hold municipal office, but they were debarred from election to Parliament by a law which required them to make oath "on the faith of a Christian." The law was now so modified (1859) that a very prominent Jew, Baron Rothschild, took his seat in Parliament. Finally the Oaths Act (1888) abolished all religious tests in Parliament.

600. Second and Third Reform Acts, 1867, 1884; County and Parish Councils (1884, 1894).

In 1867 the pressure of public opinion moved Mr. Disraeli (later Lord Beaconsfield), a member of Lord Derby's Conservative Cabinet (S479), to bring in a second Reform Bill (S582), which became law. This bill provided "household suffrage." It gave the right to vote to all male householders in the English parliamentary boroughs (that is, towns having the right to elect one or more members to Parliament), who paid a tax for the support of the poor, and to all lodgers paying a rental of 10 pounds yearly; it also increased the number of voters among small property holders in counties.[1]

[1] See Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p.xxvi, S31. Lord Derby held the office, but Mr. Disraeli was really Prime Minister.

There still remained, however, a large class in the country districts for whom nothing had been done. The men employed by the farmers to till the soil were wretchedly poor and deplorably ignorant. Joseph Arch, a Warwickshire farm laborer, who had been educated by hunger and toil, succeeded in establishing a national union among men of his class (1872). In 1884 Mr. Gladstone, the Liberal Prime Minister, secured the ballot for agricultural laborers by the passage of the third Reform Act, which gave all residents of counties throughout the United Kingdom the right to vote on the same liberal conditions as the residents of the towns.

It is estimated that this last law added about two and a half millions of voters; this gave one voter to every six persons of the total population, whereas, before the passing of the first Reform Bill in 1832, thre was not over one in fifty. When the new or so-called "People's Parliament" convened (1886), Joseph Arch and several other candidates took their seats in the House of Commons as representatives of classes of the population who, up to that date, had no voice in the legislation of the country.

The next step may bring universal "manhood suffrage." The County Council and Parish Council acts (1888, 1894) greatly extended the power of the people in all matters of local government, so that now every village in England controls its own affairs.

601. Compulsory Church Rates abolished; Disestablishment in Ireland (1869).

While these great reforms were taking place with respect to elections, others of great importance were also being effected. From its origin in 1549 the established Protestant Church of England (S362) had compelled persons of all religious beliefs to pay rates or taxes for the maintenance of the Established Cuhrch in the parish where they resided. Methodists, Baptists, and other Dissenters (SS472, 496, 507) objected to this law as unjust, since, in addition to the expense of supporting their own form of worship, they were obliged to contribute toward maintaining one with which they had no sympathy. So great had the opposition become to paying these "church rates," that in over fifteen hundred parishes in England (1859) the authorities could not collect them. After long debate Mr. Gladstone carried through a bill (1868) which abolished this mode of taxation and made the payment of these rates purely voluntary.[1]

[1] Church rates were levied on all occupiers of land or houses within the parish. The Church of England is now supported by a tax on landowners, by its endowments, and by voluntary gifts.

A similar act of justice was soon after granted to Ireland (1869).[2] At the time of the union of the two countries in 1800 (S562), the maintenance of the Protestant Episcopal Church continued to remain obligatory upon the Irish people, although only a small part of them were of that faith. Mr. Gladstone, now Liberal Prime Minister, succeeded in getting Parliament to enact a law which disestablished this branch of the National Church and left all religious denominations in Ireland to the voluntary support of those who belonged to them. Henceforth the English Protestants residing in that country could no longer claim the privilege of worshiping God at the expense of his Roman Catholic neighbor.

[2] The Disestablishment Bill was passed in 1869 and took effect in 1871.

602. The Elementary Education Act, 1870.

In 1870 Mr. Forester, a member of Mr. Gladstone's Liberal Cabinet (SS534, 601), succeeded in passing a measure of the highest importance, entitled The Elementary Education Act. This act did not undertake to establish a new system of instruction, but to aid and improve that which was then in use. In the course of time, however, it effected such changes for the better in the common schools that it practically re-created most of them.

It will be remembered that before the Reformation the Catholic monasteries took the leading part in educating the children of the country (SS45, 60). The destruction of the monasteries by Henry VIII (S352) put a stop to their work; but after Henry's death, his son, Edward VI, established many Protestant schools (SS364, 365), while tohers were founded by men who had grown suddenly rich through getting possession of monastic lands. These new schools did good work, and are still doing it; but they seldom reached the children of the poor. Later on, many wealthy persons founded Charity Schools to help the class who could not afford to pay anything for their tuition. The pupils who lived in these institutions (of which a number still exist) were generally obliged to wear a dress which, by its peculiarity of cut and color, always reminded them that they were "objects of public or private benevolence." Furthermore, while the boys in these institutions were often encouraged to go on and enter Grammar Schools, the girls were informed that a very little learning would be all that they would ever need in the humble station in life to which Providence had seen fit to call them.

Meanwhile, the Church of England, and other religious denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, established many common schools (1781- 1811) for the benefit of the poor. The cost of carrying them on was usually met by private contributions. All of these schools gave some form of denominational religious instruction. As the population increased many more schools were required. At length Parliament began (1833) to grant money to help the different religious societies in maintaining their systems of instruction. When able, the parents of the children were also called on to pay a small sum weekly. In 1870 the Liberal Government took hold of the education question with great vigor. It provided that in all cases where the existing Church of England or other denominational schools were not able to accomodate the children of a given district, School Boards should be established to open new schools, which, if necessary, should be maintained entirely at the public expense. In these "Board Schools," as they were called, no denominational religious instruction whatever could be given.

This very important act "placed a school within the reach of every child," but, except in very poor districts, these schools were not made free schools; in fact, free schools, in the American sense, cannot be said to exist in Great Britain. Later on (1880) compulsory attendance was required, and subsequent acts of Parliament (1902, 1904) transferred the management of these schools from the School Boards to the Town and County Councils.[1] Again, these new measures make it practicable for a boy or girl, who has done well in the primary course, to secure assistance which will open opportunities for obtaining a higher education. Thus, as a recent writer declares, "There is now a path leading from the workman's home even to the University."[2]

[1] But many men and women who belong to the Dissenting Denominations complain that the Educational Acts of 1870-1904 compel them to pay taxes for the support of a great number of public elementary schools which are under the control of the English Church, and furthermore, that teachers who are members of Dissenting societies, such as the Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc., can seldom, if ever, get appointments in the class of schools mentioned. Quite a number of these Dissenters who call themselves "Passive Resisters" have refused to pay the school tax and have had their property seized or have been sent to jail year after year. [2] A.L. Lowell's "The Government of England," II, 323.

Meanwhile (1871) the universities and colleges, with most of the offices and professorships connected with them, were thrown open to all persons without regard to religious belief; whereas, formerly, no one could graduate from Oxford or Cambridge without subscribing to the doctrines of the Church of England.

603. The First Irish Land Act, 1870.

In 1870, the same year that the Government undertook to provide for the education of the masses (S602), Mr. Gladstone, who was still Prime Minister and head of the Liberal Party (S601), brought in a bill for the relief of small Irish farmers, those who had to support themselves and their families from the little they could get from a few hired acres. Since the union (S562) much of the general policy of England toward Ireland had been described as "a quick alternation of kicks and kindness." Mr. Gladstone did not hesitate to say that he believed the misery of the island sprang mainly from its misgovernment. He thought that the small farmer needed immediate help and that it was the duty of the Liberal Party to grant it.

The circumstances under which the land was held in Ireland were peculiar. A very large part of it was owned by Englishmen whose ancestors obtained it through the wholesale confiscations of James I, Cromwell, and later rulers (SS423, 453). Very few of these English landlords cared to reside in the country or to do anything for its improvement. Their agents or overseers generally forced the farm tenants to pay the largest amount of rent that could be wrung from them, and they could dispossess a tenant of his land whenever they saw fit, without giving a reason for the act. If, by his labor, the tenant made the land more fertile, he seldom reaped any additional profit from his industry, for the rent was usually increased, and swallowed up all that he raised. Such a system of extortion was destructive to those who tilled the soil, and if it brought in more money for the landlord, it produced nothing but misery and discontent for his tenant.

Mr. Gladstone's new law endeavored to remedy these evils by the following provisions:

1. In case a landlord ejected a rent-paying tenant, he was to pay him damages, and allow him a fair sum for whatever improvement he had made. 2. It secured a ready means of arbitration between landlord and tenant, and if a tenant failed to pay an exorbitant rate he could not be hastily or unjustly driven from his farm. 3. It made it possible for the tenant to borrow a certain sum from the government for the purpose of purchasing the land in case the owner was willing to sell.

604. Distress in Ireland; the Land League (1879).

The friends of the new Irish land law hoped it would be found satisfactory; but the potato crop again failed in Ireland (1876-1879), and the country seemed threatened with another great famine (S593). Thousands who could not get the means to pay even a moderate rent were now forced to leave their cabins and seek shelter in the bogs, with the prospect of dying there of starvation.

The wrected condition of the people led an number of influential Irishmen to for a Land League (1879). This organization sought to abolish the entire landlord system in Ireland and to secure legislation which should eventually give the Irish peasantry possession of the soil they cultivated.

In time the League grew to have a membership of several hundred thousand persons, extending over the greater part of Ireland. Finding it difficult to get parliamentary help for their grievances, the League resolved to try a different kind of tactics. Its members refused to work for, buy from, sell to, or have any intercourse with landlords, or their agents, who extorted exhorbitant rent, ejected tenants unable to pay, or took possession of land from which tenants had been unjustly driven. This process of social excommunication was first tried on an English agent, or overseer, named Boycott, and soon became famous under the name of "boycotting."

As the struggle went on, many of the suffering poor became desperate. Farm buildings belonging to landlords and their agents were burned, many of their cattle were horribly mutilated, and a number of the agents shot. At the same time the cry rose of "No Rent, Death to the Landlords!" Hundreds of Irish tenants now refused to pay anything for the use of the land they cultivated, and attacked those who did.

Eventually the lawlessness of the country compelled the Government to take severe measures. It suppressed the Land League (1881), which was believed to be responsible for the refusal to pay rent, and for the accompanying outrages; but it could not extinguish the feeling which gave rise to that organization, and the angry discontent soon burst forth more violently than ever.

605. The Second Irish Land Act (1881); Fenian and Communist Outrages.

Mr. Gladstone (S603) now succeeded in carrying through a second Irish Land Law (1881) (S603), which he hoped might be more effective in relieving the Irish peasants than the first had been. This measure was familiarly known as the "Three F's,"—meaning Fair rent, Fixity of tenure, and Free sale. By the provisions of this act the tenant could appeal to a board of land commissioners appointed to fix the rate of his rent in case the demands made by the landlord seemed to him excessive.

Next, he could continue to hold his farm, provided he paid the rate determined on, for a period of fifteen years, during which time the rent could not be raised nor the tenant evicted except for violation of agreement or persistent neglect or waste of the land. Finally, he could sell his tenancy whenever he saw fit to the highest bidder. This law was later amended and extended in the interest of the peasant farmer (1887).

The year following the passage of this second Land Act, Lord Frederick Cavendish, chief secretary of Ireland, and Mr. Burke, a prominent government official, were murdered in Phoenix Park, Dublin (1882). Later, members of the Fenian society, and of other secret organizations sympathizing with the small Irish farmers, perpetrated dynamite outrages in London and other parts of England for the purpose of intimidating the Government. These acts were denounced by the leaders of the Irish National Party. They declared that "the cause of Ireland was not to be served by the knife of the assassin or by the infernal machine."

Notwithstanding the vindictive feeling caused by these rash deeds, despite also the passage of the Coercion Bill (1887), the majority of the more intelligent and thoughtful of the Irish people had faith in the progress of events. They believed that the time would come when their country would obtain the enjoyment of all the political rights which England so fully possesses. It will be seen (S620) that about ten years later they did gain a very important extension of the right of local self-government.[1]

[1] See Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p.xxvii, S33.

606. The Darwinian Theory of Evolution, 1859; the Persistence of Force.

In the progress of science the Victorian period surpassed all previous records in England except that made by Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation (S481). That great thinker demonstrated in 1684 that all forms of matter, great or small, near or distant, are governed by one universal force of attraction. In like manner the researches and investigations of the nineteenth century led to the conviction that all forms of life upon the earth obey a universal law of development. By this law the higher are evolved from the lower through a succession of gradual but progressive changes.

This conception originated long before the beginning of the Victorian era, but it lacked the support of carefully examined facts, and most sensible men regarded it as nothing more than a plausible conjecture. The thinker who did more than any other to supply the facts, and to put the theory, so far as it relates to natural history, on a solid and lasting foundation, was the distinguished English naturalist, Charles Darwin.[1]

[1] Alfred Russel Wallace, also noted as a naturalist, worked out the thoery of evolution by "natural selection" about the same time, though not so fully, with respect to details, as Darwin; as each of these investigators arrived at his conclusions independently of the other, the theory was thus doubly confirmed.

On his return (1837) from a voyage of scientific discovery round the world, Darwin began to examine and classify the facts which he had collected, and continued to collect, relating to certain forms of animal life. After twenty-two years of uninterrupted labor he published a work in 1859, entitled "The Origin of Species," in which he aimed to show that life generally owes its course of development ot the struggle for existence and to "the survival of the fittest."

Darwin's work may truthfully be said to have wrought a revolution in the study of nature as great as that accomplished by Newton in the seventeenth century. Though it excited heated and prolonged discussion, the Darwinian theory gradually made its way, and is now generall received, though sometimes in a modified form, by practically every eminent man of science throughout the world.

After Mr. Darwin began his researches, but before he completed them, Sir William Grove, an eminent electrician, commenced a series of experiments which resulted in his publishing his remarkable book[2] on the connection of the physical forces of nature. He showed that heat, light, and electricity are mutually convertible; that they must be regarded as modes of motion; and, finally, that all force is persistent and indestructible, thus proving, as Professor Tyndall says, that "to nature, nothing can be added; from nature, nothing can be taken away." Together, the work of Darwin and Grove, with kindred discoveries, resulted in the theory of evolution, or development. Later on, Herbert Spencer and other students of evolution endeavored to make it the basis of a system of philosophy embracing the whole field of nature and life.

[2] "The Correlation of the Physical Forces" (1846).

The Victorian period was also noted for many other great names in science, philosophy, literature, and art. The number was so great that it would manifestly be impracticable to devote any adequate space to them here.[1]

[1] It will be sufficient to mention the novelists, Dickens, Thackeray, Bronte, and "George Eliot"; the historians, Stubbs, Hallam, Arnold, Grote, Macaulay, Alison, Buckle, Froude, Freeman, and Gardiner; the essayists, Carlyle, Landor, and De Quincey; the poets, Browning and Tennyson; the philosophical writers, Hamilton, Mill, and Spencer; with Lyell, Faraday, Carpenter, Tyndall, Huxley, Darwin, Wallace, and Lord Kelvin in science; John Ruskin, the eminent art critic; and, in addition, the chief artists of the period, Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Watts, and Hunt.

607. The Queen's Two Jubilees; Review of Sixty Years of English History (1837-1897).

Queen Victoria celebrated the fiftieth year of her reign (1887); ten years later (1897) the nation spontaneously rose to do honor to her "Diamond Jubilee." The splendid military pageant which marked that event in London was far more than a brilliant show, for it demonstrated the enthusiastic loyalty of the English people and of the English colonies.

The real meaning of the occasion is best sought in a review of the record of those threescore years. They were, in large degree, a period of progress; perhaps, in fact, no similar period in European history has been so "crowded with benefit to humanity."

When Victoria came to the throne in her nineteenth year (1837) she found the kingdom seething with discontent, and the province of Canada approaching rebellion. In business circles reckless speculation and the bursting of "Bubble Companies" had been followed by "tight money" and "hard times." Among the poor matters were far worse. Wages were low, work was scarce, bread was dear. In the cities half-fed multitudes lived in cellars; in the country the same class occupied wretched cottages hardly better than cellars.[2]

[2] See Cobbett's "Rural Rides, 1821-1832."

The "New Poor Law" (S403),[3] which went into effect in 1834, or shortly before the Queen's accession, eventually accomplished much good; but for a time it forced many laborers into the workhouse. The result aggravated the suffering and discontent, and the predominant feeling of the day may be seen reflected in the pages of Dickens, Carlyle, and Kingsley.[1]

[3] The "New Poor Law": Between 1691 and 1834 the administration of relief for the poor was in the hands of justices of the peace, who gave aid indiscriminately to those who begged for it. In 1795 wages for ordinary laborers were so low that the justices resolved to grant an allowance to every poor family in accordance with its numbers. The result of this mistaken kindness was speedily seen; employers cut down wages to the starvation point, knowing that the magistrates would give help out of the poor fund. The consequence was that the tax rate for relief of the poor rose to a degree that became unbearable. The "New Law" of 1834 effected a sweeping reform: (1) it forbade outdoor relief to the able-bodied poor, and thus, in the end, compelled the employer to give better wages (but outdoor relief is now frequently granted); (2) it restricted aid to that given in workhouses, where the recipient, if in good health, was obliged to labor in return for what he received; (3) it greatly reduced the expense of supporting the poor by uniting parishes in workhouse "unions"; (4) it modified the old rigid Law of Settlement, thereby making it possible for those seeking employment to take their labor to the best market. [1] See Dickens's "Oliver Twist" (1838), Carlyle's "Chartism" (1839), and Kingsley's "Yeast" and "Alton Locke" (1849).

Notwithstanding the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832 (S582), political power was still held chiefly by men of property who distrusted the masses of the people. They feared that the widespread distress would culminate in riots, if not in open insurrection.

The Chartist movement (S591) which speedily began (1838) seemed to justify their apprehension. But the dreaded revolt never came; the evils of the times were gradually alleviated and, in some cases, cured. Confidence slowly took the place of distrust and fear. When, in June (1897), the Queen's "Diamond Jubilee" procession moved from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's, and thence through some of the poorest quarters of London, none of the dense mass that filled the streets cheered more lustily than those who must always earn their daily bread by their daily toil.

The explanation of that change was to be found in the progress of good government, the extension of popular rights, and the advance of material improvements. Let us consider these changes in their natural order.

608. Further Extension of the Right to Vote, 1832-1894.[2]

We have already described the far-reaching effects of the Reform Bill (S582) of 1832, which, on the one hand, put an end to many "rotten boroughs," and on the other, granted representation in Parliament to a number of large towns hitherto without a voice in that body. Three years later (1835) came the Municipal Reform Act. It placed the government of towns, with the exception of London,[1] in the hands of the taxpayers who lived in them.

[2] See Summary of Constitutional History in the Appendix, p.xxvi, S31. [1] The ancient city of London, or London proper, is a district covering about a square mile, and was once enclosed in walls; it is still governed by a lord mayor, court of aldermen, and a common council elected mainly by members of the "city" companies, representing the medieval trade guilds (S274). The metropolis outside the "city" is governed by the London County Council and a number of associate bodies, among which are the councils of twenty-eight metropolitan boroughs.

This radical measure put a stop to the arbitrary and corrupt management which had existed when the town officers elected themselves and held their positions for life (S599). Futhermore, it prevented parliamentary candidates from buying up the entire municipal vote,—a thing which frequently happened so long as the towns were under the absolute control of a few individuals.

A generation passed before the next important step was taken. Then, as we have seen, the enactment of the Second Reform Bill (1867) (S600) doubled the number of voters in England. The next year an act reduced the property qualification for the right to vote in Scotland and Ireland; thus the ballot was largely increased throughout the United Kingdom.

The Third Reform Act (1884) (S600) granted the right to vote for members of Parliament to more than two million persons, chiefly to the farm laborers and other workingmen. Since that date, whether the Liberals or the Conservatives[2] have been in power, "the country," as Professor Gardiner says, "has been under democratic influence."

[2] The Whigs (S479) included two elements, one aristocratic and the other radical. After the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832 they took the name of Liberals; and the Tories (S479), who found their old name unpopular, adopted that of Conservatives.

But though these acts wrought an immense change by transferring political power from the hands of the few to the greater part of the nation, further progress in this direction was destined to come soon. Originally the government of the shires, or counties, was in the hands of the people; they gradually lost it, and the wealthy landed proprietors obtained control. The Local Government, or County Councils, Act (1888) restored the power in great measure to those who had parted with it, by putting the management of county affairs under the direction of the County Councils elected by the householders of the counties or shires. These Councils look after the highways, the sanitary condition of the towns, the education of children, and the care of the poor.

Six years later (1894) the principle of self-government was carried almost to the farthest point by the passage of the Parish Councils Bill.[1] This measure did for country villages and other small places what the Local Government Act did for the counties. It gave back to the inhabitants of the parishes certain rights which they had once possessed, but which had gradually come under the control of the squire, the parson[2], and a few privileged families.

[1] Parish: This name was given originally to a district assigned to a bishop or priest; at present it generally refers simply to the area which was formerly contained in such a district. [2] The squire was the chief landholder in a village or parish; the parson, the minister of the parish church.

Now every man and woman who has resided in the parish for a twelvemonth has the right not only to vote for the members of the Parish Council but to run as candidate for election to that body. The village parliament discusses all questions which are of public interest to the parish. It is in some respects more democratic even than a New England town meeting, since it gives women a voice, a vote, and opportunity to hold office. Its work supplements that of the County Councils and of Parliament.

609. Overthrow of the "Spoils System"; the Army; the "Secret Ballot," 1870-1872.

Meanwhile reforms not less important had been effected in the management of the civil service. The ancient power of the Crown to give fat pensions to its favorites had been pared down to very modest proportions, but another great abuse still flourished like an evil weed in rich soil.

For generations, public offices had been regarded as public plunder, and the watchword of the politicians was, "Every man for himself, and the National Treasury for us all." Under this system of pillage the successful party in an election came down like a flock of vultures after a battle. They secured all the "spoils," form petty clerkships worth 100 pounds a year up to places worth thousands.

About the middle of the last century (1855) an effort was made to break up this corrupt and corrupting system, but the real work was not accomplished until 1870. In that year England threw open the majority of the positions in the civil service to competitive examination. Henceforth the poorest day laborer, whether man or woman, might, if competent, ask for any one of many places which formerly some influential man or political "boss" reserved as gifts for those who obeyed his commands.

The next year (1871) the purchase of commissions in the army was abolished.[1] This established the merit system in the ranks, and now military honors and military offices are open to all who can earn them.

[1] Up to 1871 an officer retiring from the army could sell his commission to any officer next below him in rank who had the money to buy the position; whereas under the present system the vacancy would necessarily fall to senior officers in the line of promotion. In the year following this salutary change the entire British army was reorganized.

The Registration Act of 1843 required every voter to have his name and residence recorded on a public list. This did away with election frauds to a large extent. It was supplemented in 1872 by the introduction of the "secret ballot" (S591). This put an end to the intimidation of voters and to the free fights and riots which had so frequently made the polls a political pandemonium. The Bribery Act of 1883 was another important measure which did much toward stopping the wholesale purchase of votes by wealthy candidates or by powerful corporations.

610. Reforms in Law Procedures.

During Queen Victoria's reign great changes for the better were effected in simplifying the laws and the administration of justice. When she came to the throne the Parliamentary Statutes at Large filled fifty-five huge folio volumes, and the Common Law, as contained in judicial decisions from the time of Edward II (1307), filled about twelve hundred more. The work of examining, digesting, and consolidating this enormous mass of legislative and legal lore was taken in hand (1863) and has been slowly progressing ever since.

The Judicature Acts (1873, 1877) united the chief courts in a single High Court of Justice. This reform did away with much confusion and expense. But the most striking changes for the better were those made in the Court of Chancery (S147) and the criminal courts.

In 1825 the property belonging to suitors in the former court amounted to nearly forty millions of pounds.[1] The simplest case might require a dozen years for its settlement, while difficult ones consumed a lifetime, or more, and were handed down from father to son,—a legacy of baffled hopes, of increasing expense, of mental suffering worse than that of hereditary disease.

[1] See Walpole's "History of England," Vol. III.

Much has been done to remedy these evils, which Dickens set forth with such power in his novel of "Bleak House." At one time the prospect of reform seemed so utterly hopeless that it was customary for a prize fighter, when he had got his opponent's neck twisted under his arm, and held him absolutely helpless, to declare that he had his head "in chancery"!

611. Reforms in Criminal Courts and in the Treatment of the Insane.

In criminal courts an equal reform was effected, and men accused of burglary and murder are now allowed to have counsel to defend them, and the right of appeal is secured; whereas, up to the era of Victoria, they were obliged to plead their own cases as best they might against skilled public prosecutors, who used every resource known to the law to convict them.

Great changes for the better have also taken place in the treatment of the insane. Until near the close of the eighteenth century this unfortunate class was quite generally regarded as possessed by demons, and dealt with accordingly. William Tuke, a member of the Society of Friends, inaugurated a better system (1792); but the old method continued for many years longer. In fact, we have the highest authority for saying that down to a pretty late period in the nineteenth century the inmates of many asylums were worse off than the most desperate criminals.

They were shut up in dark, and often filthy, cells, where "they were chained to the wall, flogged, starved, and not infrequently killed."[2] Since then, mechanical restraints have, as a rule, been abolished, and the patients are generally treated with the care and kindness which their condition demands.

[2] Encyclopaedia Britannica (10th and 11th editions) under "Insanity."

612. Progress in the Education of the Masses.

We have seen that since 1837 the advance in popular education equaled that made in the extension of suffrage and in civil service reform. When Victoria began her reign a very large proportion of the children of the poor were growing up in a stat bordering on barbarism. Many of them knew little more of books or schools than the young Hottentots in Africa.

The marriage register shows that as late as 1840 forty per cent of the Queen's adult subjects could not write their names in the book; by the close of her reign (1901) the number who had to "make their mark" in that interesting volume was only about one in ten. This proves, as Lord Brougham said, that "the schoolmaster" has been "abroad" in the land.

The national system of education began, as we have already seen, in 1870 (S602). Later, the Assisted Education Act (1891) made provision for those who had not means to pay even a few pence a week for instruction. That law practically put the key of knowledge within reach of every child in England.

613. Religious Toleration in the Universities; Payment of Church Rates abolished.

The universities felt the new impulse. The abolition of religious tests for degrees at Oxford and Cambridge (1871) threw open the doors of those venerable seats of learning to students of every faith. Since then colleges for women have been established at Oxford and in the vicinity of Cambridge, and the "university-extension" examinations, with "college settlements" in London and other large cities, have long been doing excellent work.

The religious toleration granted in the universities was in accord with the general movement of the age. It wil be remembered that the Catholics were readmitted to sit in Parliament (S573) late in the reign of George IV (1829), and that under Victoria the Jews were admitted (1858) to the same right (S599). Finally Mr. Bradlaugh got his Oaths Bill passed (1888), and so opened PArliament to persons not only of all religious beliefs but of none.

In the meantime the compulsory payment of rates for the support of the Church of England had been abolished (1868) (S601); and the next year (1869) was made memorable by the just and generous act by which Mr. Gladstone disestablished the Irish branch of the English Church (S601).

614. Transportation and Communication.

When the Queen ascended the throne (1837), the locomotive (S584) was threatening to supersede the stagecoach; but the progerss of steam as a motor power on land had not been rapid, and England then had less than 200 miles of railway open;[1] but before the end of her reign there were nearly 22,000 miles in operation, and there are now 24,000. At first, the passenger accommodations were limited. Those who could indulge in such luxuries sometimes preferred to travel in their own private carriages placed on platform cars for transportation. For those who took first-class tickets there were excellent and roomy compartments at very high prices. The second class fared tolerably well on uncushioned seats, but the unfortunate third class were crowded like cattle into open trucks, without seats, and with no roofs to keep the rain out. But time remedied this. Long before the Queen celebrated her first Jubilee (S607) the workingman could fly through the country at the rate of from thirty to fifty miles an hour, for a penny a mile, and could have all the comforts that a reasonable being should ask for.

[1] A part of what is now the London and Northwestern Railway.

Cheap postage (S590) came in (1840) with the extension of railways, and in a few years the amount of mail carried increased enormously. Every letter, for the first time, carried on it a stamp bearing a portrait of the young Queen, and in this way the English people came to know her better than they had ever known any preceding sovereign. The London papers now reached the country by train.

The Telegraph began to come into use in January, 1845, between the railway station at Paddington, a western district of London, and Slough, near Windsor. The government eventually purchased all the lines, and reduced the charge on a despatch of twelve words to sixpence to any part of the United Kingdom. The Telephone followed (1876), and then Wireless Telegraphy (1899).

615. Light in Dark Places; Photography; the New Surgery (1834-1895).

The invention of the friction match, 1834 (S584), the abolition of the tax on windows (1851) (S595), with the introduction of American petroleum, speedily dispelled the almost subterraneous gloom of the laborer's cottage. Meanwhile photography, which began to be used in 1839, revealed the astonishing fact that the sun is always ready not only to make a picture but to take one, and that nothing is so humble as to be beneath his notice.

News came across the Atlantic from Boston, 1846, that Dr. Morton had rendered surgery painless by the use of ether. Before a year passed the English hospitals were employing it. Sir James Y. Simpson of Edinburgh introduced chloroform (1847). These two agents have abolished the terror of the surgeon's knife, and have lengthened life by making it possible to perform a class of operations which formerly very few patients had been able to bear.

A score of years later Sir Joseph Lister called attention to the important results obtained by antiseptic methods in surgery; next came (1895) the introduction from Germany of the marvelous X ray, by whose help the operator can photograph and locate a bullet or other foreign substance which he is endeavoring to extract. Together, these discoveries have saved multitudes of lives.

616. Progress of the Laboring Classes; Free Trade, 1846.

At the date of the Queen's accession a number of laws existed restricting the free action of workingmen. Only three years before Victoria's coronation six poor agricultural laborers in Dorsetshire were transported (1834) to penal servitude at Botany Bay, Australia, for seven years, for peacefully combining to secure an increase of their wages, which at that time were only six shilling a week. In fact, the so-called "Conspiracy Laws," which made Labor Unions liable to prosecution as unlawful, if not actually criminal organizations, were not wholly repealed until after the opening of the twentieth century.

Meanwhile Parliament passed the Trade Union Acts, in 1871 and 1876, which recognized the right of workingmen to form associations to protect their interests by the use of all measures not forbidden by the Common Law.[1] In 1906 the persistent political pressure of organized labor induced a Liberal Cabinet (of which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was Prime Minister) and the invariably Conservative House of Lords to pass a still more important act. That measure exempted Trade Unions from liability to pay damages for a certain class of injuries which they might commit in carrying on a strike.[2] During the above period of more than thirty years the unions have gained very largely in numbers and in financial as well as political strength. On the other hand they now have to contend with the radical Socialists who are seeking to convert England into a republic in which the government would carry on all industries and would prohibit private individuals from conducting any business whatever.

[1] One result of the organization of Trades or Labor Unions has been the shortening of the hours of labor. In 1894 the Government established an eight-hour day for workingmen in dockyards and in ordnance factories. [2] The Trade Disputes Act of 1906. This forbids any suit for tort against a Trade Union. See A. L. Lowell's "The Government of England," II, 534; and S. Gompers in The Outlook for February, 1911, p. 269.

The unions will accomplish more still if they succeed in teaching their members to study the condition of industry in England, to respect the action of those workers who do not join associations, and to see clearly that "if men have a right to combine," they must also "have an equal right to refuse to combine."

In 1837 the English Corn Laws (S592) virtually shut out the importation of grain from foreign countries. The population had outgroiwn its food supply, and bread was so dear that even the agricultural laborer cried out. "I be protected," said he, "but I be starving." The long and bitter fight against the Corn Laws resulted not only in their gradual abolition, 1846, but in the opening of English ports to the products and manufactures of the world. With the exception of tobacco, wines, spirits, and a few other articles, all imports enter the kingdom free.

But though Great Britain carries out the theory that it is better to make things cheap for the sake of those who buy them, than it is to make them dear for the sake of those who produce them, yet all of the great self-governing English colonies impose protective duties[1] even against British products (S625). One of the interesting questions suggested by the Queen's "Diamond Jubilee" (1897) (S607) was whether England's children in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada would take any steps toward forming a commercial fre-etrade union with the mother country. More than ten years later that point still remained under discussion (S625).

[1] Except in certain cases, where the colonies, e.g. Canada, grant preferential duties, or practical free trade, in certain articles exported to the British Isles.

617. The Small Agricultural Holdings Act; the Agricultural Outlook.

Through the influence of the greatly increased popular vote, which resulted from the Third Reform Act (S600), the farm laborers made themselves felt in the House of Commons. They secured the passage of the Small Agricultural Holdings Act (1892). This gave those who worked on the land the privilege of purchasing from one to fifty acres, or of taking it on lease if they preferred.[2] But, notwithstanding the relief granted by this measure, the agricultural problem is to-day one of the most serious England has to solve. Just as New England now depends in large measure on the West for its food supply, so the British Isles depend in great measure on America for breadstuffs. Thousands of acres of fertile soil have gone out of cultivation in the eastern half of the island, mainly because the farmers cannot compete with foreign wheat.

[2] The Small Agricultural Holdings Act enables the County Council (S600) to acquire, by voluntary arrangement, suitable land for the purpose of reletting or reselling it to agricultural laborers and men of small means. Under certain safeguards the Council may advance up to three fourths of the purchase money.

The Royal Agricultural Commission, in a report made a number of years ago (1897), could suggest no remedy, and believed matters must grow worse. A leading English journal,[3] in commenting on the report, said, "The sad and sober fact is that the English farmer's occupation is gone, or nearly gone, never to return."

[3] The Bristol Times and Mirror, August 5, 1897.

The continued agricultural depression ruined many tillers of the soil, and drove the rural population more and more into the already overcrowded towns. There they bid against the laboring men for work, and so reduced wages to the lowest point. If they failed to get work, they became an added burden on the poor rates, and taxes rose accordingly.

Should no remedy be found, and should land in England continue to go out of cultivation, it is difficult to see how the majority of proprietors can resist the temptation to break up and sell their estates. The tendency of an important act of Parliament (1894) is believed by many to work in the same direction.[1] It imposes an inheritance tax on the heirs to landed property, which they find it hard to meet, especially when their tenants have abandoned their farms rather than try to pay the rent.

[1] The Consolidated Death Duties Act.

To-day a few thousand wealthy families hold the title deeds to a large part of the soil on which more than forty millions live. Generally speaking, the rent they demand does not seem to be excessive.[2] It is an open question whether England would be the gainer if, as in France, the land should be cut up into small holdings, worked by men without capital, and hence without power to make improvements.

[2] This is the opinion of the Royal Commission; but Gibbins's "Industry in England" (1896), p. 441, takes the opposite view.

618. The Colonial Expansion of England.

Meanwhile, whether from an economic point of view England is gaining or losing at home, there can be no question as to her colonial expansion. A glance at the accompanying maps of the world (see double map opposite and map facing p. 420) in 1837 and in 1911 shows the marvelous territorial growth of the British Empire.

When Victoria was crowned it had an area of less than three million square miles; to-day it has over eleven million, or more than one fifth of the entire land surface of the globe. England added to her dominions, on the average, more than one hundred and forty-five thousand square miles of territory every year of Victoria's reign.

Canada's wonderful growth in population and wealth is but one example. Australia began its career (1837) as a penal colony with a few shiploads of convicts; now it is a prosperous, powerful, and loyal patr of the Empire (S545). Later than the middle of the nineteenth century, New Zealand was a mission field where cannibalism still existed (1857); now it is one of the leaders in English civilization.

Again, when Victoria came to the throne (1837) the greater part of Africa was simply a geographical expression; the coast had been explored, but scarcely anything was known of the country back of it. Through the efforts of Livingstone and those who followed him (1840- 1890), the interior was explored and the source of the Nile was discovered (1863). Stanley undertook the great work on the Congo River and the "dark continent" ceased to be dark. Trade was opened with the interior, and the discovery of diamond mines and gold mines in South Africa (1867, 1884) stimulated emigration. Railways have been pushed forward in many directions (S622), new markets are springing up, and Africa, once the puzzle of the world, seems destined to become one of the great fields which the Anglo-Saxon race is determined to control, if not to possess.

On the other hand, the British West Indies have of late years greatly declined from their former prosperity. The English demand for cheap sugar has encouraged the importation of beet-root sugar from Germany and France. This has reduced the market for cane sugar to so low a point that there has been but little, if any, profit in raising it in the West Indies;[1] but fruit is a success.

[1] See Brooks Adams's "America's Economic Supremacy."

619. England's Change of Feeling toward her Colonies.

One of the most striking features of the "Diamond Jubilee" celebration (S607) was the prominence given to the Colonial Prime Ministers. There was a time, indeed, when the men who governed England regarded Canada and Australia as "a source of weakness," and the Colonial Office in London knew so little of the latter country that it made ridiculous blunders in attempting to address official despatches to Melbourne, Australia.[2] Even as late as the middle of the last century Disraeli, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote to Lord Malmesbury in regard to the Newfoundland fisheries, "These wretched colonies will all be independent, too, in a few years, and are a millstone around our necks."

[2] See Traill's "Social England," VI, 684.

Twenty years afterwards Disraeli, later Lord Beaconsfield, declared that one of the great objects he and his party had in view was to uphold the British Empire and to do everything to maintain its unity. That feeling has steadily gained in power and was never stronger than it is to-day. Canada, Australia, and the other governing colonies (S625) have since responded by actions as well as words, and "Imperial Federation" has become something more than a high-sounding phrase (SS625, 626).

620. The Condition of Ireland; International Arbitration.

But to make such federation harmonious and complete, the support of Ireland must be obtained. That country is the only member of the United Kingdom whose representatives in Parliament refused, as a rule, to take part in the celebration of the Queen's reign. They felt that their island had never been placed on a true equality with its stronger and more prosperous neighbor. In fact, the Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into the relative taxation of England and Ireland, reported (1897) nearly unanimously that "for a great many years Ireland had paid annually more than 2,000,000 pounds beyond her just proportion of taxation."[1] It has been estimated that the total excess obtained during the Queen's reign amounted to nearly 100,000,000 pounds.

[1] McCarthy's "History of Our Own Times," V, 487.

Mr. Gladstone, the Liberal Prime Minister (1893) made a vigorous effort to secure "Home Rule" for Ireland. His bill granting that country an independent Parliament passed the House of Commons by a very large majority, but was utterly defeated in the House of Lords. Five years later (1898) Lord Salisbury, the Conservative Prime Minister, passed a bill which, though it did not give Ireland "Home Rule," did give it local self-government on the same popular foundation on which it rests in England (S608) and Scotland. Mr. Bryce, the British Ambassador at Washington, recently said (1911) that he was convinced that the condition of the people of Ireland had greatly improved and was "still advancing," and that "before long nearly all the land wouyld belong to the cultivators" (S605).

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