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Chapter XXIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9


Events of non-political interest in 1868 - Attempt to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh: Execution of the Criminal - Visit of the Prince of Wales to Ireland - Murphy Riots at Birmingham and Ashton-under-Lyne - Mr. Disraeli at the Mansion House - Decision in the case of Martin v. Mackonochie - Death of Lord Brougham: Sketch of his Career - Death of Archbishop Longley, Sir James Brooke, Milman, and others - Rochefort and the Lanterne - Bismark on the Liberalism of Austria - The Russians take Samarcand - Progress of Russia in Central Asia - Cretan Insurrection - Assassination of Mr. M'Ghee - Progress of Reconstruction in the United States - Mr. Reverdy Johnson - Revolution in Spain: Serrano, Prim, and Topete assume power: Dethronement of Queen Isabella.
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Some events, non-political in their character, which be longed to the year 1868, together with a brief survey of such changes and disturbances, occurring in foreign countries, as affected the interests or fixed the attention of Englishmen, may here be thrown together in a separate chapter.

In the course of the spring, the intelligence of an attempt to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh while in Australia created much excitement in London. Prince Alfred, the second son of the Queen, having taken to a naval life, rose rapidly in the service, and at the time of the attempt was in command of the Galatea, a frigate attached to the Australian station. In the course of a long visit to the colony of New South Wales, the Prince had consented to be present at a large picnic at Clontarf (a place on Middle Harbour, Port Jackson), organised partly to do honour to His Royal Highness, partly to benefit the funds of a Sailors' Home. Here, under the bright Australian sky, while all was mirth and enjoyment around, the Prince being engaged in conversation with Sir William Manning, the Attorney-General, while the Governor (Lord Belmore) and the Lord Chief Justice were at a short distance, a person was observed to take deliberate aim at the Prince with a revolver. Before any one could interfere with him, the assassin had fired one barrel. He was within a few yards of His Royal Highness, and the shot therefore could not but take effect, striking the middle of the back, an inch or two to the right of the spine. The Duke fell forward on his hands and knees, exclaiming, " Good God! my back is broken." Sir William Manning rushed at the fellow to seize him, but, seeing him on the point of firing another barrel, stooped to evade the bullet, and in the act of stooping lost his balance and fell. But there were so many persons on the ground that the criminal had little or no chance of escape. A stalwart coachbuilder of the name of Vial ran up and seized him from behind, pinioning his arms to his side. The man struggled hard, attempting to liberate his right arm sufficiently to discharge the pistol at Vial over his shoulder; but, finding this impossible, he fired in the direction of the spot where the Duke was lying, with the supposed intention of wounding him again. The ball lodged in the foot of a gentleman named Thorne, one of the crowd who had gathered almost instantly round the Prince on seeing him fall. When the wound was examined, in the tent to which His Royal Highness had been carried, it was found that the bullet, having traversed the course of the ribs on the right side round to the abdomen, had lodged there just under the skin. The bullet appeared to have avoided the vitals; and it was therefore hoped from the first that if it could be successfully extracted, no serious consequences would ensue. After a time the patient was carried by sailors from the Galatea on a litter down to his barge, amidst warm demonstrations of loyal feeling on the part of the colonists. On the barge he was conveyed to the landing-place, and thence to Government House. The bullet was extracted without difficulty, and the progress of His Royal Highness to recovery was rapid and without check. While the Duke- was being borne away, a painful scene occurred. Before the police could take him in charge, the misguided wretch was surrounded by a mob of infuriated loyalists, incapable of restraining either their feelings or their fists. By these the criminal was so mauled, so brutally beaten and bruised, that, when the police at last arrived, he was. covered with blood from head to foot and scarcely retained the semblance of humanity. " Lynch him, hang him, string him up " - such were the cries that issued from a hundred throats. When he was brought down to the man-of-war from which he was to be removed to gaol,, the sailors were about to hang him at the yard-arm in continently; but Lord Newry interposed and saved him. After much preliminary investigation, in order to ascertain whether or not the man had accomplices, he was put on his trial on the 26th March. He gave his name ať Henry James O'Farrel, admitted that he had intended to kill the Prince, as a prominent representative of English tyranny over his native land, and at first used language which pointed, like that of Mucius Scsevola on a similar occasion, to a secret conspiracy in which he was but one of the adepts and accomplices. When, however, he was condemned to death, he wrote and signed on the day before his execution (April 21) a full and clear statement, declaring that he had had no accomplices, and that the design of assassinating the Duke had been conceived in his own brain, and communicated to no other person. He admitted that he was a Fenian, but denied that he was connected with, or even cognisant of the existence of, any Fenian organisation in New South Wales. Before he suffered, he was brought to a becoming sense of the guilt of the criminal act which he had so nearly consummated. The Duke of Edinburgh, after his recovery, interceded with the Colonial Government, but without effect, for the pardon of the culprit. Notwithstanding the rapidity of his recovery, it was apprehended that the Australian climate might not be favourable to his entire restoration to health; he was therefore, in accordance with the best medical opinions, ordered home with the Galatea.

In April, the Prince and Princess of Wales paid another visit to Ireland in the Queen's yacht. Their stay lasted over ten days, in the course of which they honoured the races at Punchestown with their presence, and the Prince was admitted with all the ancient formalities into the Order of the Knights of St. Patrick.

The scandalous scenes caused in 1867 by the discourses of the lecturer Murphy were renewed in the May of 1868 with yet more calamitous results. A traveller, passing through the streets of Birmingham, on the night of June 19, 1867, saw Park Street in ruins; the traffic stopped in the great thoroughfare of High Street and Bull Street; Carr's Lane, Moor Street, &c., strongly occupied by soldiers, and Irish women weeping over the destruction of their little property and their wrecked homes. The force of religious hate is one of the strongest leverages of the moral world, and so far Lucretius might truly say: -

Tantum relligio potuit suadere malorum!

On the 9th May, 1868, the furious spirit of bigotry which Murphy's lectures had awakened in the breasts of his English auditors, at Dukinfield, Stalybridge, and Asliton-under-Lyne, important manufacturing towns in South Lancashire, found vent in a combined movement against the quarter inhabited by the Catholic Irish in the last- named town. Much fighting ensued, but the party of the assailants was in superior force, and, after having done considerable damage to a small chapel with its school in the Irish quarter, they attacked the principal chapel (St. Mary's). The chapel bell was rung, and the Irish flocked to the aid of their priest; but they were over powered by numbers, and the fittings and window-frames of the chapel were destroyed. Shots were fired, but no lives were lost, On the 11th, there was a renewal of rioting; the English attacked Reyner's Row, the inhabitants of which were mostly Irish, and commenced systematically to sack and gut the houses, and destroy the furniture. Troops were at last sent for by the Mayor; the rioters cheered the soldiers, and adjourned to another street merely to renew the work of devastation. It was the riots of 1780 repeated on a smaller scale. In one of the rushes made by the mob a respectable woman was knocked down and trampled to death. A number of special constables were sworn in; the most mischievous of the rioters were an rested or disarmed, and the disturbance was gradually got under. An attempt was made to renew the same outrages at Stalybridge; but here the authorities were well pre pared, and the mob was at once charged and dispersed by a combined force of constables and specials.

We have seen how, when the results of the elections in the autumn came to be clearly known, Mr. Disraeli resigned office; having but a few days before, with that happy mixture of banter and effrontery which so well became him, spoken at the Lord Mayor's dinner of the auspicious occasion, when, " this day next year, I shall have the honour of responding to the toast of Her Majesty's Government." Like Pitt, when he resigned in 1761, Mr. Disraeli declined a peerage for himself, but accepted it for Mrs. Disraeli, who was created Viscountess Beaconsfield.

In December, a decision, which had been awaited with deep interest by both the great parties in the Church, was delivered by Lord Cairns in the name of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The judgment was in the case of Martin Mackonochie. The latter, one of the leading Ritualist clergy in London, and the incumbent of St. Alban's, Holborn, was charged with lighting candles on the communion-table at the time of the celebration of the communion, and with superstitiously prostrating him self before the elements after pronouncing the prayer of consecration. On both the charges submitted the judgment was against Mr. Mackonochie. Lighted candles, ac cording to the Judicial Committee, were not "ornaments " within the meaning of the Rubric; and with regard to the prostrations, it was evident that they introduced and I implied an adoration to a supposed Divine presence, objectively understood, which the Reformers had carefully: eliminated from the worship of the Anglican Church. Mr. Mackonochie was condemned in the costs of the appeal, as well as in the costs of the hearing in the; court below.

One was taken from us in this year, at an extreme old age, whose name recalled the Liberal reaction which set in this country at the very beginning of the century, who had worked with Mackintosh and Charles James Fox, and stood up to defend the unhappy Queen of George IV. Henry Brougham, descended on the father's side from an ancient Westmoreland family, and related through his mother to Robertson the Scottish historian, was born at Edinburgh in 1778. He received his early intellectual training entirely in Scotland - first at the High School (where he was a school-fellow of Sir Walter Scott), and afterwards at the University of Edinburgh. Through his school and college course he was noted as a youth of very remarkable powers; but it was chiefly mathematical and physical inquiries which at this early period enchained his attention. His first published writings were papers on Light communicated to the Royal Society. Called to the Scottish bar in 1800, he became at once a member of a choice circle of rarely gifted spirits, among whom Jeffrey and Sidney Smith were included. The horror and detestation which the acts of the Convention and the Reign of Terror had aroused in this country, driving it into a sort of unreasoning Toryism which resisted improvement simply because it was change, had now begun to subside. The clever thinkers and brilliant speakers collected at Edinburgh resolved to establish an organ which should attack political abuses wherever they were found; should expound the much-needed principles of political economy, and urge their application to the public life of the nation; and, finally, should wield with a vigorous impartiality the baton of literary criticism. The idea was first suggested by Sydney Smith, and seriously discussed between him, Brougham, and Jeffrey one stormy night in March, 1802. But Jeffrey's timidity and excessive caution interposed all sorts of obstacles, and it was not till October, 1802, that the first number appeared. The importance of the Review, says Lord Brougham in his Autobiography, " can only be judged of by recollecting the state of things at the time Smith's bold and sagacious idea was started. Protection reigned triumphant - Parliamentary representation in Scotland had scarcely an existence - the Catholics were unemancipated - the Test Acts unrepealed - men were hung for stealing a few shillings in a dwelling-house - no counsel allowed to a prisoner accused of a capital offence - the horrors of the slave-trade tolerated - the prevailing tendencies of the age, jobbery and corruption. To the improvement of some, and to the removal of others, of these evils, the Edinburgh Review has not a little contributed."

After a few years Brougham removed to England, and was, in 1808, called to the English bar. He disliked the profession which he had chosen, chiefly, perhaps, because great eminence in it was not to be attained without a persevering drudgery which was distasteful to his lively and versatile intellect. But he proved himself to be a forcible and self-possessed speaker; and it was not long before the Duke of Bedford, beholding in the rising barrister a future ornament of the Whig party, placed one of his boroughs at his disposal. Under these auspices Mr. Brougham entered Parliament, in 1810, as member for Camelford. His maiden speech was delivered in support of Mr. Whitbread's motion of censure on the Government for having permitted Lord Chatham to lay a secret narrative of the Walcheren expedition before the King. Francis Horner, who heard the speech, wrote to Brougham's mother that " the manner in which he spoke was in every respect most parliamentary, and gave all his friends the most complete assurance of the success he will have in the House." In 1812, Brougham stood against Mr. Canning for Liverpool, and being defeated, was unable to re-enter Parliament till 1816, when he was returned for Winchilsea, through the influence of Lord Darlington. For several years he pursued a successful and consistent parliamentary career, advocating the adoption of liberal measures and the removal of abuses, and devoting him self with peculiar earnestness to the question of Parliamentary Reform. After the death of George IV., in 1830, he was invited to come forward as a candidate for the representation of Yorkshire. The countrymen of Wilber- force desired to honour the bold denouncer of the slave- trade; the great commercial and manufacturing interests of the county were favourable to the man whose eloquence had procured the revocation of the " Orders in Council;" the general population delighted to welcome the defender of the persecuted and, as they thought, the innocent Queen Caroline. He was returned, and lie thus, in his Memoirs, describes the gratification he felt: " My return for the great county of York was my greatest victory, my most unsullied success. I may say, without hyperbole, that when, as knight of the shire, I was begirt with the sword, it was the proudest moment of my life. My return to Parliament by the greatest and most wealthy constituency in England was the highest compliment ever paid to a public man." No sooner had Parliament met than Mr. Brougham announced his intention of introducing, on the 16th of November, a comprehensive measure of Reform. But a few days afterwards the Ministry of the Duke of Wellington, weakened by the death of Huskisson, and having been defeated on a Government measure, resigned office. William IY. sent for Earl Grey and commissioned him to form a Ministry. The new Government could not dispense with the remarkable debating power of Mr. Brougham, and Earl Grey wished him to take the office of Attorney-General; this, however, he decidedly refused, and then, at the King's suggestion, the Great Seal was offered him. At the age of fifty-two, Henry Brougham took his seat on the woolsack as Lord Chancellor, with the title of Lord Brougham and Vaux. Upon the value of his services as a judge in the Court of Chancery, opinions have widely differed. It is certain that, by dint of indefatigable labour, continued for three or four years, he cleared out all the arrears in the court, and left none when he resigned the seals. Out of more than seven hundred judgments which he delivered, an exceedingly small proportion, according to his own account of the matter, was ever reviewed or disturbed. On the other hand, he had not the fine legal mind of Lord Lyndhurst, nor were his judgments luminous oracles of jurisprudence like those of Lord Mansfield. In the House of Lords, Lord Brougham was of great service to the Government in promoting the passing of the Reform Bill. But when, after the short administration of Sir Robert Peel, the Whigs returned to power in 1835, Lord Melbourne preferred the milder temper and more winning manners of Lord Cottenham, as Speaker of the House of Lords, to the restlessness and eccentricity of Brougham. From that time till his death he never held office, though, as a private member of the House of Lords, he often made his power felt, especially by Lord Melbourne, towards whom, from the frequency and acrimony of his attacks, it is impossible not to conclude that he nourished, a feeling of bitter resentment. As a law reformer, Brougham's services to his country were undoubtedly great. It was mainly owing to his exertions that imprisonment for debt was abolished, that various classes of crimes less than murder ceased to be visited with the punishment of death, and that many useful Acts for shortening legal documents and dispensing with cumbrous and obsolete forms were passed into law. In the department of literature, his activity was very great, but has left less mark upon his age. Besides various scientific papers, he wrote " Historic Sketches of Statesmen who flourished in the reign of George III.," and " Lives of Men of Art and Science," during the same period; he was also the author of a Life of Voltaire, of Personal Memoirs down to the year 1834, and of an English translation of Demosthenes oration De Corona. His writing generally commends itself as the work of an ingenious, clear, and unprejudiced mind; his style, however, is deficient in weight and dignity. Lord Brougham died at his villa near Cannes, in his ninetieth year, on the 7th May, 1868.

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