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Chapter XVII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 7 page 2

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Lord John Russell undertook to explain the real motives for the conduct of the government in this matter. He said:

" When we endeavour to analyse the arguments of the right honourable secretary, they amount to this: that it will be for the convenience of honourable members to leave their duties, to abandon their seats, in order to secure to themselves new seats, and to carry on their canvass at the least possible expense; and it will also be convenient for his majesty's ministers, instead of having to deal with members who are about to meet their constituents in a short time, to meet with the members of a new- parliament, who, whatever their vote may be on the civil list, or any other question, will hope that, in the course of five or six years, it may be overlooked or forgotten by their constituents."

Mr. Roebuck remarks that " the duke of Wellington was in some measure looked upon by both the contending factions as a person that might be of use to them as head of the army. The tories, therefore, who wish to retain, and the whigs, who desire to win him, abstained in some degree from personal attacks in his case, but fell, in con* sequence, with concentrated virulence upon his colleague, whom they both hated and feared." He adds, in a note, that they did not abstain entirely, because " the whigs wished to make the duke uncomfortable, in the hope of inducing him to relax his determination not to admit them to office. Lord John Russell, in this very debate, as if with reluctance, accused the duke of being guilty of a job." But the charge that was repeatedly urged against the government by him and others was its weakness and incapacity. "I have seen their propositions," said the noble lord, " one after another, if not rejected, so shaken, that they are obliged to throw overboard half the business before the house; and though it may be unpleasant to them to hear it, I will say one word more: their weakness has been conspicuously shown.'' The motion for adjournment was lost by a majority of the numbers being, for it, 139; against it, 185, After this debate, on the motion for adjournment, lord Althorp moved the amendment to the address, almost in the words of lord Grey in the other house. Sir Robert Peel stated that he meant no disrespect by abstaining from further discussion, which would be wasting the time of the house, by re-urging the arguments he had already employed. Mr. Brougham, however, took the opportunity of launching out against the ministry in a strain of bitter invective, of sarcasm vehement even to fierceness. " Many parts of this evidently unpremeditated attack," says Mr. Roebuck, " were most effective examples of the peculiar style of declamation in which Mr. Brougham so pre-eminently excelled; but, unfortunately for himself, his cause, and his party, his excitement carried him beyond the control of his judgment, and hurried him into the use of expressions which were not justified by the circumstances of the case, and which certainly did not accurately denote the real sentiments of the speaker. After having quelled the impatient house into silence by a contemptuous description of those whose whole powers consisted in inarticulate noises and unmeaning yells, he proceeded to describe the unhappy condition of the ministry, and endeavoured, with great effect, to enlist the pride of the house and the country on his side by alluding to a threat supposed to have been employed by the duke of Wellington that night in the lords - ' I will resign if you do not vote with me.' On this threat he descanted in language most happily chosen to express scorn, contemptuous defiance, and bitter indignation. Swept along by the torrent of Ms own eloquence, he dashed across the channel, and seized on the unhappy minister of Charles X. for the purpose of invidious comparison with the prime minister of his own king. He then, with a prophetic instinct of the fate that was about to befall prince Polignac, warned the noble duke of the consequence of following his fatal example. The good genius of the speaker here deserted him; for he now- - excited by the picture which his vivid imagination made almost present to his physical as it was to his mental vision, of the terrible evils which an appeal to force was about to bring upon France, and which, if it were employed, would assuredly be entailed on England also - seemed to believe that there were officious and mischievous supporters advising the ministers to follow the example of M. Polignac. To those imaginary advisers he thus addressed himself: - ' You will see in this, as in that country, that the day of force is now over, and that he who would rule his country by. an appeal to royal favour or military power may be overwhelmed, may be hurled down by it, if he should entertain such an idea: and I in no wise accuse him of thinking of such an attempt; him I accuse not. I accuse you, I accuse his flatterers, those mean, fawning parasites ----'

" Sir Robert Peel rose at once, and, in grave, indignant terms, called the learned gentleman to order. 'I ask the honourable and learned gentleman, as I am one of those sitting on this side of the house, whether he means to accuse me of being a fawning parasite?'" This induced Mr. Brougham to offer an explanation, and to disclaim any personal reference in these remarks. The division resulted in a majority for ministers of 47.

The question of the regency was again brought forward, on the 6\h of July, by Mr. Robert Grant, in pursuance of a motion he had previously given. The unbounded personal popularity of the king - who, unlike his predecessor shut up in exclusion, and resembling Tiberius at Oapreee, went about sailor-like through the streets, frank, talkative, familiar, good-humoured, delighting the Londoners with all the force of pleasant contrast - rendered the task increasingly difficult and delicate on the part of the opposition to propose any measure disagreeable to a sovereign who was the idol of the multitude, from whom no evil could be apprehended, and whose death, even in the ordinary course of Providence, it seemed something like treason to anticipate as likely to occur within a few months. They were, therefore, " profuse in their declarations of respect, admiration - nay, almost of veneration - for a monarch whom a beneficent Providence had so happily placed upon the throne of these realms. They humbled themselves in the dust when they approached the question - and the prostration was an edifying spectacle - in the month of July, 1830." The division on Mr. Grant's motion was still more decidedly favourable to the government, the numbers being - Ayes, 93; noes, 247 - majority, 154. On the 13th of this month Mr. Brougham delivered his great speech on negro slavery, which produced such an impression upon the public mind that it mainly contributed, as he himself informs us, to his election, a few weeks after, as one of the members for Yorkshire - the proudest position which a parliamentary representative could occupy, He proposed " that this house do resolve, at the earliest practicable period next session, to take into its serious consideration the state of the slaves in the colonies of Great Britain, in order to the mitigation and final abolition of slavery; and more especially to the amendment of the administration of justice within the same." Mr. Wilmot Horton brought forward a series of resolutions, by way of evading the difficulty. Sir George Murray, the colonial secretary, entreated Mr. Brougham to withdraw his motion, as the public would come to a wrong conclusion from seeing the small numbers that would vote upon it at that late period of the session, and on the eve of a dissolution. Sir Robert Peel pressed the same consideration, but Mr. Brougham persisted, and in a very thin house, the numbers on the division were - Ayes, 27; noes, 56 - majority against the motion, 29. This division ended the party struggles of the session. On the 23rd of July parliament was prorogued by the king in person, and next day it was dissolved by proclamation. The writs, returnable on the 14th of September were immediately issued for a general election, which was expected, and proved to be, the most exciting and important political contest at the hustings recorded in the history of England.

The French revolution of 1830 exerted an influence so mighty upon public opinion and political events in England, that it becomes necessary to trace briefly its rise, progress, and rapid consummation. When Louis XVIII. was restored to the throne by the arms of the allies, it was found that be had learned little wisdom in his exile. He was, however, a man of moderation, and affected to pursue a middle course. His successor, Charles X., who ascended the throne in 1824, was violent and bigoted, a zealous catholic, hating the revolution and all its results, and making no secret of his feelings. From the moment he commenced his reign he pursued a course of unscrupulous reaction. At the general election, the prefects so managed as to procure an overwhelming ministerial majority, who immediately resolved to extend the duration of the chamber of deputies to seven years. They next passed a law to indemnify emigrants, for which they voted an annual sum representing a capital of thirty millions sterling. In 1827 the prime minister, Villele, adopted the daring measure of disbanding the national guard, because it had expressed its satisfaction at the defeat of a measure for the restriction of the liberty of the press. He next took the still more dangerous step of dissolving the chamber of deputies. This produced a combination of parties, which resulted in the defeat of the ministerial candidates in every direction. The consequence was the resignation of Villele, on the 5th of January, 1828. He was succeeded by Martignac, whose government abolished the discretionary power of reestablishing the censorship of the press, and adopted measures for securing the purity of the electoral lists against the frauds of the local authorities. They also issued an ordonnance on education, guarding society against the encroachments of the Jesuits, and the apprehension of clerical domination. The king, taking alarm at these liberal tendencies, dismissed Martignac and his colleagues, and, in August, 1829, he appointed a ministry exclusively and devotedly royalist, at the head of which he placed prince de Polignac, a bigoted catholic, who, during the empire, had engaged in many wild schemes for the restoration of the Bourbons. This conduct on the part of the king was regarded by the people almost universally as indicating a design to suppress their constitutional liberties, which they resolved to counteract by having recourse to the constitutional remedy against arbitrary power - namely, refusing to pay the taxes. With this object, an association was formed in Brittany, which established a fund to indemnify those who might suffer in resisting the levy of imposts. The press was most unanimous in condemning the new ministry, and by spirited and impassioned appeals to their patriotism and their love of freedom, roused them to a sense of their coming danger. Prince Polignac was charged with the design of destroying the charter; of creating a majority in the chamber of deputies by an unconstitutional addition of aristocratic members; of calling in foreign armies to overawe the French people; and of raising military forces by royal ordonnances. The Moniteur contained an authorised contradiction of all these imputations and rumours. At the same time a royalist publication, apparently written under court inspiration, argued that France, wanting an essential element of constitutional government - an independent peerage to protect the throne from democracy - could not be governed without a dictatorship. France, it was said, was essentially democratic; its peerage existed in name only. There was no gradation of classes, hardly any inequality of property, no corps of sinecurists, or well-paid placemen. In fact, the monarch was insulated, and without any constitutional support. Therefore the writer concluded that the charter should be abolished. Charles was assured, moreover, by the royalists that surrounded him, that there always would be a majority against him in the chamber, no matter who the ministers might be, and that it was impossible to carry on the government under the existing system. He was too ready to listen to such counsels, fondly attached as he was to a superstitious priesthood, privileged orders, tithes, feudal services, and provincial administrations.

The chambers were opened by the king on the 2nd of March, 1830, with a speech which conveyed a threat to the French nation. u If culpable manoeuvres," he said, " should raise up against my government obstacles which I do not wish to foresee, I shall find the power of surmounting them, in my resolution to maintain the public peace, in my just confidence in Frenchmen, and in the love which they have always borne to their kings." The chambers did not hesitate to express their want of confidence in the government. The king having declared that his intentions were immutable, no alternative remained but a dissolution, as he was resolved to try once more whether a majority could be obtained by fair means or foul. In this last appeal to public opinion he was bitterly disappointed; and on the 26th of July he took the desperate step of issuing the royal ordonnances, by which the constitution was swept away, and the charter torn up and given to the winds. The Quarterly Review, published in May of that year, in a review of M. Cotter's book, uttered an almost prophetic intimation of what followed two months after: - " We think it hardly possible to doubt that, unless the existing government adopts and succeeds in carrying into effect some very decisive measures in the course of the present year, there will ensue another burst of convulsion; and Napoleon has left no saying of more indisputable truth behind him, than ' that a revolution in France is a revolution in Europe.' " Indeed, it scarcely required a prophet to foresee the near approach of some great change; nor could the result of the impending struggle appear doubtful. Nine-tenths of the community were favourable to a constitutional system. Not only the working classes, but the mercantile and trading classes, as well as the professional classes, and all the most intelligent part of the nation, were decidedly hostile to the government. In Paris, the majority against the ministerial candidates was seven or eight to one. The press, with scarcely an exception, was vehement in its condemnation of the policy of the government, which came to the conclusion that it was not enough to abolish the constitution, but that, in order to insure the success of a purely despotic régime, it was absolutely necessary to destroy the liberty of the press, and to put down journalism by force. Accordingly, a report on this subject was addressed to the king, recommending its suppression. It was drawn up by M. Chantelauze, and signed by Polignac and five other ministers. This document bears remarkable testimony to the power of the press. It states that its tendency was no less than to subjugate the sovereignty and to invade the powers of the state. "The pretended organ of public opinion, it aspires to direct the debates of the two chambers; and it is incontestable that it brings into them the weight of an influence no less fatal than decisive. This domination has assumed, especially within these two or three years, in the chamber of deputies, a manifest character of oppression and tyranny. We have seen the journals pursue with their insults and outrages members whose votes appeared to them doubtful or suspected. Let us not fear to disclose here the whole extent of our evils, in order the better to appreciate the whole extent of our resources. A system of defamation, organised on a great scale, and directed with unequalled perseverance, reaches, either near at hand or at a distance, the most humble of the agents of the government. None of your subjects, sire, is secure from insult if he receives from his sovereign the least mark of confidence or satisfaction. A vast net thrown over France envelopes all the public functionaries. Placed in a constant state of accusation, they seem to be in a manner cut off from civil society; only those are spared whose fidelity wavers; only those are praised whose fidelity gives way: the others are marked by the faction to be in the sequel, without doubt, sacrificed to popular vengeance. No strength, it must be confessed, is able to resist a dissolving power so active. The press, at all times, when it has been freed from its fetters, has made an irruption and invasion in the state. One cannot but be singularly struck with the similitude of its effects within the last fifteen years, notwithstanding circumstances, and notwithstanding the changes of the men who have figured on the political stage. Its destiny, in a word, is to re-commence the revolution, the principles of which it loudly proclaimed. Placed and replaced at various intervals under the yoke by the censorship, it has always resumed its liberty only to re-commence its interrupted work. In order to continue it with the more success, it has found an active auxiliary in the departmental press, which, engaging in combat, local jealousies, and hatreds, striking terror into the minds of timid men, harassing authority by endless intrigues, has exercised a decisive infhr,e on the elections. The periodical press has not dip yed less ardour in pursuing, with its poisoned darts, religion and it3 priests. Its object is, and always will be, to root out of the heart of the people even the last germ of religious sentiment. Sire, do not doubt that it will succeed in this, by attacking the foundation of faith, by poisoning the sources of public morals, and by covering the ministers of the altar with derision and contempt. Judicial forms do not easily lend themselves to an effectual repression. This truth!

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