Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

! amendments which were required to form of conciliating opinion to combine the franthem into one measure.

chise and the redistribution bills, but the opAmendments were again proposed. One by posing amendments, supported as they had Sir R. Knightley that it should be an instruc- been against the government, and finally Lord tion to the committee on the franchise bill Dunkellin's amendment, which was carried by to make provision for the prevention of cor- a majority of eleven, made it impossible to ruption and bribery at elections, was carried carry on the bill, and left them no alternative against the government, but Mr. Gladstone but resignation and a persistence in resignasaid they would wait for the production of Sir tion. The government had pledged itself to R. Knightley's scheme. A resolution moved stand or fall by the bill. Such a pledge, he by Captain Hayter against the proposed system admitted, was one which a government should of grouping boroughs, issued in a long debate, rarely give. "It is the last weapon in the

. in which Mr. John Stuart Mill took part, and armoury of the government; it should not be Mr. Lowe again assailed the measure as one lightly taken down from the walls, and if it which would ruin the constitution. Earl is taken down it should not be lightly reGrosvenor eventually persuaded Captain Hay- placed, nor till it has served the purposes it ter to withdraw his resolution rather than run was meant to fulfil.” The pledge had been the risk of breaking up the government, and given, however, under the deepest conviction so during the critical position of European of public duty, and had the effect of making politics losing the services of Lord Clarendon. them use every effort in their power to avoid Mr. Disraeli thereupon severely attacked Lord offence, to conciliate, support, and unite inClarendon's policy. So the discussion went stead of distracting. jangling on, resolution after resolution being Once more Lord Derby was called upon to proposed, till at length Lord Dunkellin, usually form a ministry, of which Mr. Disraeli was a supporter of the government, brought for- chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Stanley ward an amendment which was fatal to the foreign secretary, and Mr. Walpole home bill and led to the resignation of the minis- secretary. Viscount Cranborne, who had, of try. He proposed that the borough fran- course, let loose much invective against the chise should be based on rating instead of reform bill and Mr. Gladstone, was made rental. In vain Mr. Gladstone represented Indian secretary. Lord Derby made overthat this would involve a limitation of the tures to some of the Liberal party to include franchise, and showed that there would be them in the ministry; but after having held serious practical difficulties in the way of the a meeting they deputed Lord Grosvenor to operation of such a principle. The house reply that they could not accept the offer, divided on the question, and the numbers for though they might be able to give the ministry the amendment were 315, against it 304. On their independent support. the announcement that there was a majority of eleven against the government, the house “Exoriare aliquis ex nostris ossibus ultor!" was again a scene of extraordinary uproar- It appeared that the declaration would be the triumph of the Adullamites was complete. speedily fulfilled. The new ministry had not Eight days afterwards it was made known been formed till the first week in July, and that ministers had tendered their resignation there was little time for anything except to to the queen, who was in Scotland, and that make the usual ministerial statements before after some remonstrances her majesty had the prorogation of parliament. Lord Derby, agreed that they should only hold office till though he seemed not to be able completely successors could be appointed.

to estimate the extent of public feeling, and Mr. Gladstone pointed out that the adoption while representing that he and his colleagues of the proposed rating franchise would have were free and unpledged on the question of been opposed to the principle of the govern- reform, and that he should carefully adhere to ment scheme. They had agreed for the sake an axiom once laid down by Earl Russell that

MR. BEALES-THE HYDE PARK RIOTS.

223

open fields.

a

no government should undertake a measure chise as the members of the Conservative of reform without seeing a fair possibility of government had previously opposed and decarrying it, declared that that possibility de- nounced. At one meeting at Brookfields, pended on an understanding and joint action near Birmingham, there were said to be between the two great parties in the state. 250,000 pe ons present, who were addressed He added that he should be glad if an oppor- from platforms erected in various places in the tunity occurred for passing a safe and satisfac

At night another meeting was tory measure. He would like to see a number held in the Town-hall, and was addressed by of the class now excluded admitted to the fran- Mr. Bright, Mr. Scholefield, and Mr. Beales. chise, but he feared that the portion of the com- Mr. Edmond Beales, a barrister of reputable munity most clamorous for a reform bill was position, was the recognized leader of the not that which would be satisfied with any association known as the Reform League, measure that could be approved of by either and either presided or spoke at numbers of of the great parties in the country. These large meetings, especially those which were utterances were the result of what had hap- held in London. Mr. Beales was, on the pened; but it soon became evident that the whole, an excellent president of such an assocountry was not altogether dependent on the ciation, and seldom or never lost self-control two great parties in parliament, and that or failed to sustain a certain “respectability" certain extra-parliamentary forces had been in the proceedings so far as the platform was called into an active operation, which continued concerned. It was sometimes thought that all through the subsequent discussions until a this was aided by the persistence with which reform bill was passed.

he displayed his degree of Master of Arts; the Immediately after the defeat of Earl Rus- letters M.A. appearing after his name in the sell's ministry demonstrations were made which big “posters” and all the announcements of the showed that no other government could neglect meetings at which he presided. It was one of the introduction of such a measure. A meeting the harmless humours of the time never to was held in Trafalgar Square, where it was said mention the name of Mr. Beales without par10,000 persons assembled, and there the late

enthetically, but with much emphasis, adding premier was censured for not having decided “M.!A.!" When the Reform Bill had passed, on a dissolution of parliament. This was sig- this gentleman very easily subsided and retired nificant. It appeared as though there was to the distinguished obscurity of a county court already a growing conviction that a general judgeship; but he carried on the work he had election would have given a majority in favour undertaken during the agitation with conof a measure of reform as inclusive as that siderable tact, and with a gravity and earnestwhich had been rejected mainly through the ness which had a very remarkable effect. Peropposition of those who had been avowed haps the most conspicuous instance of his insupporters of Liberal principles. During the fluence, and of the action of the council of recess, after the prorogation of parliament, “the League,” occurred during the time of what these demonstrations continued both in Lon- were called the “Hyde Park Riots,” a term don and in the large provincial towns. In rather in excess of anything that really hapmany places the meetings were of imposing pened, though the combined blundering and size, and the proceedings were of a very em- uncertainty displayed in the conduct of some phatic character. At some of them language of the authorities might easily have produced was used which afterwards gave occasion for much more serious consequences than the overaccusing the speakers of preaching democ- turning of the park railings and the sudden inracy, republicanism, terrorism, revolution, and vasion of what was after all a public place by a even anarchy; but there could at anyrate be rather noisy but not particularly mischievous no longer a doubt that the large body of or revolutionary mob. A number of the suppeople were becoming very much in earnest porters of the government had taken alarm, in demanding such an extension of the fran- and the government itself preferred to regard

[ocr errors]

a

the meetings which had been held, as assem- violence or the destruction of property. As Vlies called together for the purpose of politi- , it was, steps were taken to deal, not with an cal disturbances. At the same time Mr. Lowe unruly nob should occasion arise, but to use and some of the Adullamites were complain- force for the purpose of preventing a political ing of the manner in which they had been de- demonstration by members of the League. nounced and misrepresented by a few of the Notices had been posted throughout Lonspeakers. It was scarcely surprising, there- don stating that the park gates would be fore, that when the council of the League pro- closed to the public at five o'clock on the posed to hold a monster meeting in Hyde evening appointed for the meeting. At that Park on the 23d of July (1866) for the pur- hour thousands of persons were standing at pose of showing the number and proving the the entrances to the park, which were kept determination of the reformers, a great deal | by the police who were posted inside the of alarm was excited.

gates. The council of the League had met in In opposition to the proposal of the council the afternoon and determined to abide by of the Reform League the government came their arrangements. The members of the to the weak determination to prevent the association, divided into sections, were to meeting in the park. The council had taken march from various parts of London in regular legal opinion on the subject, and were not order, with their banners, to the place of meetwithout precedent, so that they did not with- ing. For these processions the crowd was draw theiravowed intention though Sir Richard waiting, a crowd largely composed of idle and Mayne, the chief commissioner of the metropo- mischievous lads and rough fellows ready to litan police force, issued a notice forbidding the take advantage of any chance of horse-play

assembly, and was supported by Mr. Walpole and willing to show impatience of authority. at the Home Office. No argument could prove A few stones and two or three sticks were that the holding of such a meeting was con- thrown, and the police were then marched trary to law, or that those who might at- outside the gates, before which they stood in a tend it were not within their right in assem- semicircle, the mounted constables in front of bling at a public place; and supported by this them. Presently the banners of the first proilssurance the Leaguers were prepared to put cession were seen approaching the Marble Arch, their claim to the test. But they did so in a and the mob greeted them with cheering, and way that was perfectly legal and eminently made way for the leaders to pass towards the orderly. Mr. Beales, who had held the office gates. Mr. Edmond Beales, Colonel Dickson, of revising barrister for Middlesex, a position and other active members of the League, came from which it was afterwards stated he had first in a carriage, from which they alighted. been removed because of his political associa- Mr. Beales, speaking to the nearest mounted tions with the League, acted with considerable police officer, requested admission to the park, prudence, and both he and his colleagues but was told that he could not enter. On bis proved that they were capable of organizing asking for a reason the officer said, “I have a large association in a manner which would authority to prevent you.” To the ivquiry, prevent a breach of the law if they were let What authority ? he replied, “Our commisalone. It mostly happens, however, that any sioner.” The leaders of the party then republic movement maintained by monster meet- turned to their carriage amidst the cheers and ings and demonstrations attracts numbers of remonstrances of the dense crowd, which had disorderly and lawless persons who care little been estimated to consist of at least a hundred or nothing for its objects, and only make use

thousand persons.

The procession then reof its assemblies for the purpose of robbery or formed as well as it could, and turned back, riot. The prospect of a vast crowd assembled following its leaders through Oxford Street to at Hyde Park would therefore have justified Trafalgar Square, where in a few words two resuch precautions as might have enabled the solutions were passed-one urging the prosepolice to deal with any attempt to resort to cution of lawful and constitutional means for MR. WALPOLE-THE NEW MEASURE.

225

extending the franchise, and the other thank- | the life-guards reappeared. Hostilities wore ing Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Bright, and others for themselves out, and eventually the park was remaining faithful to the cause of parliamen- cleared. That night half London had shared tary reform while so many had basely deserted in the panic, which seemed to have originated it.

with the government; but the next day all That was an end of the proceedings so far was quiet, and another, comparatively lawas the members of the Reform League were abiding and orderly, crowd was in Park Lane officially concerned, but the crowd about Hyde and about Piccadilly, curious to see the ruined Park had not dispersed. They still hung railings and to walk over the scene of the conabout the railings, by which they were pre- Alict. That conflict was over. It had, strictly vented from entering the park itself. There speaking, little or nothing to do with the were, no doubt, many reformers among them, question of the franchise, but it was asserted but they were certainly a small minority. on all hands that it hastened a measure of The business of the day was over, and nothing reform such as the government of Lord Derby exciting had come of it. A dense mass began would not have proposed except under the to move towards Park Lane, where there was

as pressure of what they supposed to be a already considerable pressure. Nobody could threatening demonstration. It seems far more afterwards prove whether the railings there, likely, however, that the attitude immediately being already shaky, began to sway inward afterwards assumed by the leaders of the by the weight of those who stood leaning on League bad that effect. Only two days had them, or whether, finding them already loose, elapsed when Mr. Beales, Colonel Dickson, one person or twenty persons gave them a and others who had sought to lead the prosudden push. Whatever may have been the cession into the park, and on being refused immediate cause, they went down at one what they believed to be their legal right, had point, and in a few minutes the whole line of peacefully retired, waited upon the home half a mile of iron rails followed, and the park secretary on his invitation to consult in referwas invaded by the shouting, screaming, tri- ence to the disturbances in Hyde Park. Then umphant mob, who, of course, resisted the was their opportunity. Mr. Walpole was a attempts of the police to drive them back, and kindly, humane gentleman, and was already went scampering and leaping over the grass deeply concerned that the prohibition he hack and trampling over the flower-beds. There ordered should ave such a painful result. were numerous free fights, truncheons were It soon became evident that he was not quite used with considerable vigour, stones flew, sure of the ground he had taken, and Mr. and several persons were badly injured. A Beales very solemnly and very truly repredetachment of foot-guards arrived and amidst sented to him that it was impossible to overthe cheers of the mob took up a position by rate the gravity of the crisis; that to restore the gate, a body of life-guards were greeted in order, it was necessary to withdraw the milithe same enthusiastic manner as they galloped tary and the police from the park. If this off to another part of the park. It was against were done, he, Mr. Beales, and his friends the police that the mob exerted itself, and would use their best efforts to pacify the doubtless many in that surging crowd regarded public. Mr. Walpole thanked them for going the police as their natural enemies, and tried to see him and for the conciliatory tone they to do them mischief. Many of them were had used in reference to the “unhappy proseriously hurt, and it was not to be wondered ceedings.” He was much affected by the inat that they defended themselves and repeat- terview, and it was said that he shed some edly charged their assailants. A second body tears. Perhaps he did, and they were cerof foot-guards arrived and were held in readi- tainly no disgrace to him, though they may ness to fire on the rioters if things became have been an evidence that he was not made miore serious; they aided the police in driving of stuff stern enough for the office he held back and separating their opponents. Then and soon afterwards resigned. When the VOL. IV.

78

Reform Leaguers left him it was with an un- and persuade his colleagues that they might derstanding that had the government known agree to present a bill wide enough to have they meant to try their right to enter the a chance of being committed to discussion. park in a legal way, they would have had The reference made in the royal speech to every facility for doing so, and that if they parliamentary reform was, "Your attention would not, in the meantime, insist on their pre- will again be called to the state of the represumed right, and on condition that there were sentation of the people in parliament; and I no disturbance and no attack on property, trust that your deliberations, conducted in a there should be no display of military or police spirit of moderation and mutual forbearance, in the park. The end of it was that notice may lead to the adoption of measures which, was given by the League that there would be without unduly disturbing the balance of no further meetings in the park except only political power, shall freely extend the elective on the following Monday afternoon, "by ar- franchise.” The latter part of this intimation rangement with the government."

was interpreted by many Liberals to mean, Amidst these disquieting events Mr. Glad- “There will be some changes, but no such stone preserved a certain reticence. He took alterations as will make any considerable dif. no part in the demonstrations that were made, ference in the result of elections, no disturbut waited to see whether any measure, or bance of the political power enjoyed by the what kind of measure, would be brought for- landed aristocracy." The meaning of the first ward by his opponents.

part of the reference was soon apparent, for There were members of the new cabinet the ministry acted with remarkable promptiwho would have held out against the intro- tude. The session commenced on Tuesday the duction of any bill dealing with the ques- 5th of February, 1867, and on the following tion of reform; but both Lord Derby and Mr. Monday the leader in the House of ComDisraeli knew that the ministry would not mons was prepared with his statement of be able to retain office for many days if the government scheme. In a house crowded they refused to make prompt advances to meet with anxious and curious listeners Jr. Dis. what had now grown to a loud and general raeli rose to speak, and his first communicademand. The difficulty chiefly fell on Mr. tion was received with an outburst of laughter Disraeli, as leader in the House of Commons. from the opposition, for it was to the effect He had opposed the whole scheme proposed that in the opinion of the government, parliaby his predecessors, had denounced the ex- mentary reform should no longer be a questensions it proposed, and had declared that it tion which ought to decide the fate of miniswas calculated to change the character of the ters. It was soon to become evident that the English constitution to that of America. The Conservative government would neither devictory by which he had again come into office stroy their bridges nor burn their boats, but had been won by the division of the opposition, would keep the means of retreat open and in and the party which had aided him to defeat repair. So far from Mr. Disraeli being disthe Liberal government were little likely to ac- concerted by laughter, he had probably caleucept any proposals for reform, without exer- lated on exciting it, and he went on to justify cising the power of destructive criticism. It the opinion he had expressed by reference to required all his adroitness to meet these com- the fact that all parties in the state had at bined difficulties, and a man less confident in one time or other failed in endeavouring to his own dexterity would have shrunk from deal with the question; that successive gore the task that lay before him. Two questions ernments had brought in bills and had not seem to have presented themselves to him. been able to carry them. This was all very The first was how to bring in a reform bill well, but when as a consequence of his der larwhich should be so plastic as to take its shape ation he announced that it was intended to from the opposition, and so enable the minis- proceed with the bill by way of resolutions, try to retain office: the second, how to pacify it soon became evident that the house would

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »