Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

ILLNESS AND RECOVERY OF THE PRINCE OF WALES,

287

and boroughs with municipal institutions. of low fever. Other visitors had also been We can scarcely part from the year 1871 affected, and the Earl of Chesterfield bad died. without referring to the budget by which On his return to his own house at SandringMr. Lowe became for a time not only noto- ham the prince became very ill, and his conrious, but what was worse, ridiculous. It is dition soon appeared to be very dangerous. difficult to say why he should have been For some time before, there had been a good subject to ridicule, except that he made a deal of loose talk among people supposed to be mistake which ended in an almost absurd inimical to the royal family, or at least to situation. There would, he said, be a deficit royalty in general; people, that is to say, who of £2,713,000, looking at the probable amount professed belief in the French Republic and required for the abolition of purchase in the in democratic institutions. Directly the rearmy. There was no surplus revenue, and he port of the prince's sickness was circulated, proposed to alter the probate duty, place a however, these conversations ceased, or were two per cent duty on all property liable as suppressed to a lower tone, and throughout intestate, alter the legacy duty, and increase the country the people waited with troubled the succession duties. His argument was that hearts to learn the latest intelligence of his they had never realized as much as had been condition. On the 14th of December, the anniexpected by former ministers who imposed versary of the death of the prince-consort, the them. He then proposed to tax lucifer popular sentiment was wrought up to a great matches, by a halfpenny stamp on every box height, and sympathy for the queen found conof 1800 matches, a penny stamp on a box of stant and deep expression. At churches and 100 wax lights or of fusees; this he calculated chapels belonging to all denominations prayers would raise £550,000. He would then make were offered for his recovery. Bulletins were up the rest of the required amount by charg- issued daily; a number of reporters from the ing a percentage on incomes, in lieu of the daily papers anxiously waited near Sandring4d. in the pound.

ham to obtain any item of intelligence with The proposal to tax matches was met not regard to the changes of the disorder, that only with a howl of derision but by a cry of they might telegraph it to London or the chief indignation. A vast procession, or rather a towns; so eager was the public to become confused but decent and orderly assembly, of acquainted with the particulars. The day poor girls, women, and boys who represented which had appeared to bode calamity passed, the match-sellers of the metropolis, went the prince's condition had slightly improved. along the Strand and by the Embankment Everywhere the most loyal sympathy was to the Houses of Parliament, and in a quietly expressed for the queen and the princess. On demonstrative manner, with which the police the 19th of December the prince was slowly could not easily interfere, assembled there in recovering, and the day after Christmas-day great numbers, and presented a monster peti- her majesty wrote a letter to her people extion. Their prayer was granted and the pressing her deep sense of the touching symbudget collapsed, another penny on the in- pathy which had been manifested by the whole come-tax making up the deficiency both of nation. In the last week of February the the abandoned legacy duties and of the con- prince had recovered, and with the

queen,

the demned impost on matches.

princess, and the rest of the royal family, pub

licly went to St. Paul's Cathedral to offer In the last month of the year great anxiety grateful thanks to God for the great mercy. was everywhere manifested because of the On the 29th of February, for it was leap-year, serious illness of the Prince of Wales. His her majesty again addressed a letter expressing royal highness had been visiting Lord Londes- sincere acknowledgments to her subjects, who borough at his house near Scarborough, and it had assembled in millions and filled all the was supposed that some defect in the drainage great thoroughfares with an orderly, loyal, and or sanitary arrangements had caused an attack | sympathetic crowd.

The liquor traffic, as the sale of wine, beer, actual damage inflicted. The United States and spirits had come to be called, was still government, however, claimed indirect damopposed with great pertinacity by the United ages for the expense they had incurred, and Kingdom Alliance, which had collected a large the losses they had sustained in consequence sum of money, and was constantly circulating of the failure of our government to prevent its periodicals and appeals throughout the the privateers from leaving our ports. These country. Doubtless a great change had been claims were for losses in the transfer of the wrought among a large class of the population, American commercial marine to the British flag, and drinking habits had greatly diminished, the enhancement of the payment of insurso that there was little difficulty in passing a ances, and the prolongation of the war, and bill regulating public-houses, giving magis- the addition of a large sum to the cost of it. trates the power to grant or refuse licenses, The arbitrators were Count Frederic Sclopis increasing the penalties for drunkenness, and for Italy, president; Chief-justice Cockburn lessening the number of hours for keeping for England; Mr. Charles Francis Adams for taverns open both on Sundays and week-days. America; M. Jaques Staempli for Switzerland; The publicans were also protected in some and Viscount Itajuba for Brazil. They met important particulars; but they were of course on the 15th and 19th of June, and agreed that opposed to the bill, which, however, was carried the indirect claims should be rejected. The in spite of opposition.

discussions were resumed at intervals till the

25th of December, when the decision of the More important in a political, or rather in tribunal was announced, namely, that in the an international sense than any other occur- cases of the Alabama and the Florida, Great rence of the session of 1872, was the effort Britain had failed to fulfil the duties preto come to a definite settlement of the long scribed by the rules of the treaty, in not having outstanding question of damages demanded by used due diligence to prevent the fitting out, the United States government for the injuries arming, and equipping vessels which, there inflicted by the Alabama. Mr. Reverdy

was ground for believing were intended to Johnson, who was a jovial man, and liked the carry on war against a power with which she English people, came here to negotiate the was at peace. In the case of other vessels it matter, but, to use a modern phrase, was was decided that there had been no failure of “too gushing” in his after-dinner speeches, due diligence. The award for the satisfaction of and was so complimentary to England that all claims was 15,000,000 dollars. This settled his countrymen came to the conclusion that the question. At about the same time the he would never properly support their claims. Emperor of Germany decided against us as to He was recalled, and Mr. Motley the his- the right of possession of the island of San torian, and Mr. Fish, the foreign secretary of Juan, which he declared belonged to the the United States, resumed negotiations. It United States. Both conclusions were acwas decided that commissioners from England cepted with dignity and endorsed with honshould go to Washington, and as our govern- our, and at a cost which would have been far ment had already expressed regret at the exceeded even by a temporary resort to hosravages of the piratical vessels which went out tilities, while there was a gratifying sense on of English shipyards, the conference became both sides that the dispute was settled in aceasier. Some international rules on the duties cordance with reason and humanity. of nations to prevent privateering were agreed on, for the guidance of the arbitrators who It may well be supposed that the untiring were to be chosen to decide the question. energy and rapidity with which the Liberal Our commissioners contended that we had not government advanced measures of remarkable committed any breach of international faith; importance, produced a feeling of restlessness but they accepted the rules, and supposed that among the less ardent of their followers, while the only point for consideration would be the the opposition marked with satisfaction the

DEFEAT OF THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT.

289

signs of reaction. Such a number of bills, compelled to remain in office, and all that was embracing so many important interests, could done was to abolish tests at Trinity College. not be passed without a great many people being affected by them, and every fresh change The Judicature Bill had already been touched some interest and aroused some ani- brought forward by Lord-chancellor Selborne. mosity. At the same time, as we have before It was based on the report of the commission seen, the very tendency to independent thought appointed in 1869 to inquire into the subject, and the want of compact following among the and was one of the most important measures Liberals tended after every new achievement of the Liberal government, for it was intended to diminish that unanimity by which a strong for the reconstruction of the whole judicial party can alone be maintained. The time now system, by uniting the higher courts of justice arrived in the session of 1873 when Mr. Glad- in one great tribunal, the operations of which stone was to bring forward the third of the were to be free from the old distinctions and measures which he had promised for Ireland. restrictions between law and equity, so that This was the introduction of a national systemsnitors might be spared expense, time, and of education under which the rights of con- trouble in seeking redress. The lord chiefscience would be secured. As a preliminary justice, the chief-justice of the common pleas, ineasure in this direction Mr. Gladstone pr- and the chief-baron of the exchequer were to posed to create a new university in Dublin, of remain in the positions they then occupied, which Trinity College and other colleges should and some of the existing divisions were reform a part, just as the colleges of Oxford and tained as courts of the high court of judicaCambridge belong to their universities. Cer- ture. The appellate jurisdiction of the House tain careful provisions were to be made to of Lords exercised by the law lords was to be recognize the preponderance of the Roman transferred to a tribunal composed of the Catholic religion, one of them being the ex- lord-chancellor, the chief-justice of England, clusion of the teaching of theology and moral the chief-justice of common pleas, the chiefphilosophy, upon which subjects, however, baron, the master of the rolls, and other judges voluntary examinations would be held. The not exceeding nine in number. The bill was bill was opposed both by Roman Catholics not at first adapted to Scotland and Ireland and Protestants. Another bill brought in by because of some question of privilege, but was Mr. Fawcett in the previous year—had been soon carried through both houses with the supported by the governing body of Trinity understanding that it would eventually be College, and Mr. Gladstone therefore declared adapted to the whole kingdom. that the ministry would stand or fall by the But the Liberal government had been measure which he now advocated. Some of beaten, there was already a Conservative the professed Liberals were averse to it. Mr. reaction which afterwards became more eviHorsman bitterly opposed it, and though the dent, and preparations were made for the debate was sharp, able, and well spiced with general election in 1874. Changes were made checks and counterchecks, it was soon seen in the ministry. Mr. Bright, who had rethat the division for the second reading would turned to the house, consenting to be chancelbe a narrow one. It went against the govern- lor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Mr. Gladment by 287 votes to 284.

stone undertook the duty of chancellor of the Mr. Gladstone's ministry adhered to their exchequer as well as that of prime minister, determination to resign office, and Mr. Dis- and Mr. Lyon Playfair and Mr. Vernon Harraeli was sent for to form another administra- court also took office. The government had tion; but though he had obstinately opposed deserved well of the country, not only for the the bill on which the government was de- number of important measures it had passed, feated, he was not ready to take the place of- but for removing £12,000,000 from the taxafered him by their resignation. Mr. Gladstone tion. It had spent £10,000,000 in buying the and his colleagues were therefore reluctantly I telegraphs as arranged by the previous minisVOL. IV.

82

try, had devoted £2,000,000 to the army behalf of the late government, from its comduring the Franco-Prussian war, had paid off mencement to its close, in the House of half the Alabama claim without the aid of Lords. either loan or tax, and had reduced the “For a variety of reasons personal to mynational debt by £26,000,000. Yet Mr. Glad- self, I could not contemplato any unlimited stone announced at the commencement of extension of active political service; and I am 1874 that there was a surplus of £5,000,000 at anxious that it should be clearly understood their disposal, and that he intended to pre- by those friends with whom I have acted in pare a plan for totally repealing the income- the direction of affairs, that at my age I must tax, improving local administration, and ad- reserve my entire freedom to divest myself of vancing the interests of consumers.

all the responsibilities of leadership at no disQuite early in the year, however, it was tant time. The need of rest will prevent me announced that parliament would be dissolved. from giving more than occasional attendance It was determined to try the strength of the in the House of Commons during the present Liberal interest, and the result was that that session. interest was for the present in abeyance. “I should be desirous, shortly before the Some people were ready to rest and be thank- commencement of the session of 1875, to conful. They had been dazed by a whirl of legis- sider whether there would be advantage in lation. Others belonged to the classes who my placing my services for a time at the disfeared that the ministry might go too far, that posal of the Liberal party, or whether I should nothing was stable, and that nobody could tell then claim exemption from the duties I have what might go next. These divisions para- hitherto discharged. If, however, there should lysed the action of the Liberal party. The be reasonable ground for believing that, inConservatives on the other hand were united, stead of the course which I have sketched, it compact, and cautiously confident. On the would be preferable, in the view of the party 16th of February the cabinet met. Mr. Glad generally, for me to assume at once the place stone recommended an immediate resignation, of an independent member, I should willingly which was agreed to, and Mr. Disraeli was adopt the latter alternative. But I shall called upon to form a ministry.

retain all that desire I have hitherto felt for In one of the speeches delivered before his the welfare of the party, and if the gentlemen constituents, Mr. Gladstone had intimated composing it should think fit either to choose that if the country resolved upon the dismis- a leader or make provision ad interim, with a sal of the Liberal ministry, he should reserve view to the convenience of the present year, to himself the right of limiting his future the person designated would, of course, comservices to his party as he might think fit. mand from me any assistance which he might He desired to enjoy a period of repose. In a find occasion to seek, and which it might be letter to Lord Granville, dated March 12, he in my power to render." explained the reasons for his decision :

The time had now arrived when the pre“My dear Granville, I have issued a cir- dictions of the friends of the Marquis of Hartcular to members of parliament of the Liberal ington were to be fulfilled. The retirement party on the occasion of the opening of parlia- of Mr. Gladstone from the leadership of the mentary business. But I feel it to be neces- Liberal party had indeed made it from one sary that, while discharging this duty, I should point of view difficult, from another point of explain what a circular could not convey with view easy to appoint a successor.

The great regard to my individual position at the present ability, the long experience, and the yet abuntime. I need not apologize for addressing dant energy of the Liberal chief had been so these explanations to you. Independently of lately manifested by a session, in which meaother reasons for so troubling you, it is enough sures of immense importance had been carried, to observe that you have very long represented and the progress of the country had been the Liberal party, and have also acted on measured by rapid strides, that whoerer should

a

THE NEW LIBERAL LEADER LORD HARTINGTON.

291

be chosen to represent the great party that and who were really representative men of had temporarily fallen apart and been van- various shades of Liberalism, had little doubt quished, could not hope and would not be ex- or hesitation when Mr. Forster had declined pected to exhibit equal qualifications for the to occupy the place vacated by Mr. Gladstone. task of leadership. At the same time there Mr. Villiers simply rose to remind the meetwas, if not an insurmountable reluctance on ing that Lord Hartington had been before the part of other distinguished men, at least the public and the House of Commons for a grave disinclination to assume a position sixteen or seventeen years; that they had where comparison might tend to depreciate seen him filling subordinate offices, and also their real attainments, or where, however filling the higher offices in the state. He had eminent those attainments might be, there been chief secretary for Ireland; he had prewould be great doubt as to their efficacy in sided over the post-office, and he had been reuniting the sections of the Liberals in such under-secretary for war; he had presided over a manner as to restore the probability of their committees of great public importance, anıl ready return to power.

on all these occasions he had displayed good However, a meeting was held at the Reform feeling, good sense, tact, and judgment that Club on the 3d of February, 1875, and there fairly entitled him to the confidence of the it was to be determined what course should party. Mr. Villiers added that he would not be pursued. Mr. Bright was chairman of the believe any prejudice could fairly be raised meeting. Lord Granville, it was understood, against the Marquis of Hartington merely was the trusted chief in the Upper House. from the circumstance of his family connecWho among the members of the late cabinet tions, seeing that his family happened to be would be chosen to be the real leader where associated with the great principles which had influence and authority would be more con- been professed in the Liberal party for at stantly required? The general attention was least two centuries. Without further remarks fixed on Mr. Forster. He had displayed re- he proposed him to the acceptance of the markable power of elucidation, no little tact, meeting, sincerely believing that the noble and that genuine earnestness of purpose which lord would do honour to their choice. was of the greatest importance, and to him The proposal was responded to by Lord had been intrusted a measure which had met Frederick Cavendish, who spoke on behalf of with the concurrence of the whole house, and his brother, and Mr. Bright, as chairman of was now heartily accepted by the country. the meeting, spoke in terms of hearty comYet Mr. Forster's earnestness, allied as it per- mendation of the new leader of the Liberal haps necessarily was with remarkable posi- forces. tiveness, was, perhaps, the very quality which Ten years before, when Lord Hartington he felt, would prevent him from becoming in was promoted to office, a close and frequent any real sense the parliamentary leader of observer of parliament had written amusthe party. Two days before the meeting he ingly as follows:-We shall not soon forget wrote, declining the candidature on the ground the effect upon certain members of the house, that he felt he could not reckon on that gen- and they not few in number, of the announceeral support without which he could not fulfil ment that the Marquis of Hartington was to the required duties.

be the under-secretary for war, and take the Mr. Goschen had been spoken of as a can- management of the business of the war dedidate, and the choice was supposed to be partment in the house. “It is an insult to the between him and Lord Hartington. Mr. house,” said one. “The cheekiest thing I ever Goschen, however, had scarcely been in a posi- heard of," said another; “but it is like old tion to give to the Liberal party the kind of Pam." “It is very bad, I must confess,” said hostages which entitled him to occupy so re- a cautious old gentleman, who has lived long sponsible a position. At anyrate it was evi- enough to speak with reserve. “However, let dent that those who composed the meeting, us trust there may be more in him than we

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »