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Title: Sketches of Reforms and Reformers, of Great Britain and Ireland
Author: Stanton, Henry B.
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *







  Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1849, by
  in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States,
  for the Southern District of New York.

  Stereo. and Print., 16 Spruce St.


This Book aims to give a summary view of the most important general
Reforms, which have been effected or attempted in Great Britain and
Ireland, from the period of the French revolution down to the present
time. Neither history nor biography has been attempted, but the work
aspires to be only what its title indicates--_Sketches_. Large parts of
it have recently appeared, from time to time, in the _National Era_, of
Washington; no expectation being then entertained that it would assume
any other form of publication. The present occasion has been embraced to
revise and reärrange the whole, and by condensation and pruning off
repetitions, to make room for considerable additions to the list of
subjects discussed, and individuals noticed. It is even now incomplete,
many men and things, which deserve a place here, being left out--some
because I may underrate their relative importance--others because the
limits of this work will allow only of selections. Still, it is believed
that no important subject has been wholly omitted; though, on account of
the vast number of those worthy to be called Reformers, it has been
found impossible to make special mention of many able and excellent
individuals. Though it may contain errors of fact and opinion, yet, as
it is confined to those phases of events, and incidents in the lives of
persons, which history too seldom dwells upon, it may be found not
wholly valueless to those who would examine the most interesting and
instructive period in the recent annals of England.

The chronological plan of the work is, generally, to notice prominent
popular movements in their order of time, and, in connection with each,
to give sketches, more or less full, of persons who bore a leading part
in it. But such slight regard has been paid to chronological
arrangement, that each subject stands by itself, having only a general
connection with what precedes or follows it.

As to my statistics, I have occasionally been compelled to reach
conclusions much in the same manner as juries agree upon
verdicts--consult a dozen authorities, each one differing with all the
others--get the sum total of the whole, divide it by twelve, and adopt
the result.

This Book is submitted to the reader as an humble attempt to make some
of the Reformers of America better acquainted with some of the Reformers
of the Old World--to show that the Anglo-Saxon love of liberty, which
inspires so many hearts on both sides of the Atlantic, flows from the
same kindred fountain--to prove that, though when measured by her own
vaunted standards, Great Britain is one of the most oppressive and
despicable Governments on earth, her radical reformers constitute as
noble a band of democratic philanthropists as the world has ever
seen--to induce candid Americans to make just discriminations in their
estimate of "England and the English," and to draw distinctions between
the privileged orders of that country and a small, but increasing, and
even now powerful body of its people, who admire the free institutions
of the United States, and are laboring with heroic constancy, and a zeal
tempered with discretion, to secure for themselves and their
fellow-subjects the rights and privileges enjoyed by trans-Atlantic
republicans,--and, finally, to record my admiration of those rare and
true men, who, during the past half century, and while struggling
against difficulties and enduring persecutions, of which we have but the
faintest conceptions, have achieved so much for the cause of Humanity
and Freedom.

                                                           H. B. S.

SENECA FALLS, N. Y., October, 1849.



  Introductory--The "Condition of England" Question                  13


  British Cabinets from 1770 to 1830--Summary of the Efforts of
  the Reformers, from the War of 1793 to the Formation of the
  Grey Ministry in 1830                                              20


  Treason Trials of 1794--Societies for Reform--Constructive
  Tooke--Mr. Erskine                                                 31


  Constructive Treason--The Law of Libel and Sedition--The Dean
  of St. Asaph--The Rights of Juries--Erskine--Fox--Pitt             41


  The French Revolution--The Continental Policy of Mr. Pitt--The
  Policy of Mr. Fox and his Followers--The Continental
  Wars--Mr. Sheridan--Mr. Burke--Mr. Perceval                        51


  Pitt's Continental Policy--Mr. Tierney--Mr. Whitbread--Lord
  Castlereagh--Lord Liverpool--Mr. Canning                          62


  Abolition of the African Slave Trade--Granville
  Sharpe--Wilberforce--Pitt--Stephen--Macaulay--Brougham             76


  Law Reform--Jeremy Bentham--His Opinion of the Common Law--His
  "Felicity" Principle--His Universal Code--His Works--The
  Fruits of his Labors--His Talents and Character                    87


  Law Reform--The Penal Code of England--Its Barbarity--The
  Death-Penalty--Sir Samuel Romilly--His Efforts to Abolish
  Capital Punishment--His Talents and Character                      98


  Law Reform--The Penal Code--Restriction of the Penalty of
  Death in 1823-4--Appointment of Commissioners to Reform the
  Civil Law in 1828-9--Sir James Mackintosh--Brougham--Robert
  Hall                                                              107


  Religious Toleration--Eminent Nonconformists--The Puritans--Oliver
  Cromwell--The Pilgrims--The Corporation and Test
  Acts--Their Origin--Their Effects upon Dissenters and others--Their
  Virtual Abandonment and Final Repeal--The first Triumph
  of the Reformers                                                  117


  Ireland--The Causes of its Debasement--Dublin--Mementoes of
  the Captivity of the Country--Movements toward Catholic
  Emancipation--Its Early Champions--Mr. Grattan--Mr.
  Sydney Smith                                                      125


  Catholic Emancipation--Antiquity and Power of the Papal
  of Limerick--Catholic Penal Code of Ireland--Opinions
  of Penn, Montesquieu, Burke, and Blackstone, concerning
  it--Its Amelioration--Catholic Association of 1823--The
  Hour and the Man--Daniel O'Connell elected for Clare--Alarm
  in Downing Street--Duke of Wellington's Decision--Passage
  of the Emancipation Bill--Services of O'Connell and
  Shiel--The latter as an Orator                                    134


  Movements toward Parliamentary Reform--John Cartwright--The
  Father of Parliamentary Reform--His Account of the
  Trials of Hardy and Tooke--Lord Byron's Eulogium of him--His
  Opinions of the Slave Trade--The First English Advocate
  of the Ballot--His Conviction for Conspiracy--His Labors for
  Grecian and Mexican Independence--William Cobbett--His
  Character, Opinions, and Services--His Style of Writing--His
  Great Influence with the Middling and Lower Orders of England--Sir
  Francis Burdett--His Labors for Reform--His Recantation           147


  Parliamentary Reform--Old House of Commons--Rotten Boroughs--Old
  Sarum--French Revolution of 1830--Rally for
  Reform--Wellington Resigns--Grey in Power--Ministerial
  Bill Defeated--New Parliament Summoned--Commons Pass
  the Bill--Brougham's Speech in Lords--Peers Throw out the
  Bill--Mrs. Partington--Riots--Again Bill Passed by Commons
  and again Defeated by Peers--Ministers Resign--Are Recalled--The
  Bill becomes a Law                                                164


  Henry Lord Brougham--His Life, Services and Character             176


  Charles, Earl Grey--Advocates Abolition of the Slave Trade--His
  Rise to Power--His Aid in Carrying the Reform Bill--Sydney
  Smith's Eulogy--His Two Great Measures, Parliamentary
  Reform and Abolition of Slavery--The Old and New
  Whigs--The "Coming Man"                                           193


  Abolition of Negro Slavery--Canning's Resolutions of
  in Demerara--"Missionary Smith's Case"--Immediate
  Abolition--Elizabeth Heyrick--O'Connell--Brougham's
  Celebrated Speech of 1830--Insurrection and Anarchy in Jamaica,
  in 1832--William Knibb--Parliamentary Inquiry--Buxton--The
  Apprenticeship Adopted, August, 1833--Result
  of Complete Emancipation in Antigua--The Apprenticeship
  Doomed--The Colonies themselves Terminate it, August 1,
  1838                                                              199


  Notices of some Prominent Abolitionists--T. Fowell Buxton--Zachary
  Macaulay--Joseph Sturge--William Allen--James
  Cropper--Joseph and Samuel Gurney--George William Alexander--Thomas
  Pringle--Charles Stuart--John Scoble--George
  Thompson--Rev. Dr. Thomson--Rev. Dr. Wardlaw--Rev.
  Dr. Ritchie--Rev. Mr. James--Rev. Messrs. Hinton,
  Brock, Bevan, and Burnet                                          213


  British India--Clive and Hastings--East India Company--Its
  Oppressions and Extortions--Land Tax--Monopolies--Forced
  Labor and Purveyance--Taxes on Idolatry--Amount of Revenue
  Extorted--Slavery in India--Famine and Pestilence--The
  Courts--Rajah of Sattara--Abolition of Indian Slavery--British
  India Society--General Briggs--William Howitt--George
  Thompson as an Orator--Lord Brougham's Opinion--Mr.
  Thompson's Anti-Slavery Career--His Visit to India--His
  Defense of the Rajah--Advocates Corn-Law Repeal--Is
  Elected to Parliament                                             227


  Cheap Postage--Rowland Hill--His Plan Proposed in 1837--Comparison
  of the Old and New Systems--Joshua Leavitt--Money-Orders,
  Stamps, and Envelopes--The Free Delivery--London
  District Post--Mr. Hume--Unjust Treatment of Mr. Hill
  by the Government--The National Testimonial                       246


  Disruption of the State Church of Scotland--Its Causes--The
  Veto Act of the Assembly of 1834--Mr. Young Presented to
  the Church of Auchterarder--Is Vetoed by the Communicants
  and Rejected by the Presbytery--Resort to the Civil Courts--The
  Decision--Intrusionists and Non-Intrusionists--The Final
  Secession of 1843--The Free Church--Dr. Chalmers--Dr.
  Hill                                                              254


  The Established Church of England--Its Revenues--Its Ecclesiastical
  Abuses--Its Sway over Political Parties--Rev. Dr. Phillpotts--Rev.
  Dr. Pusey--Rev. Mr. Noel--Anti-State Church
  Movement                                                          264


  The Corn Laws--Their Character and Policy--Origin of the
  Anti-Corn-Law Movement--Adam Smith--Mr. Cobden--"Anti-Corn-Law
  Parliament"--Mr. Villier's Motion in the House
  of Commons in 1839--Formation of the League--Power of the
  Landlords--Lord John Russell's Motion in 1841--General
  Election of that Year--Mr. Cobden Returned to Parliament--Peel
  in Power--His Modification of the Corn Laws--Great
  Activity and Steady Progress of the League during the Years
  1842, '3, '4, and '5--Session of 1846--Sir Robert Peel and the
  Duke of Wellington--Repeal of the Corn Laws                       271


  Notice of Corn-Law Repealers--Mr. Cobden--Mr. Bright--Colonel
  Thompson--Mr. Villiers--Dr. Bowring--William J.
  Fox--Ebenezer Elliott--James Montgomery--Mr. Paulton--George
  Wilson--The Last Meeting of the League                            281


  National Debt of Great Britain--Lavish Expenditures of the
  Government--Its Enormous Taxes--Will the Debt be Repudiated?--Will
  it Occasion a Revolution?--Plan of Mr. Ricardo to Pay the Debt--
  Mr. Hume's Efforts at Retrenchment                                290


  Defects of the Reform Bill--Origin of Chartism--The "People's
  Charter" Promulgated in 1838--The Riots of 1839 and 1842--The
  Vengeance of the Government falls on O'Connor, Lovett,
  Collins, Vincent, J. B. O'Brien and Cooper--The Nonconformist
  Newspaper Established by Mr. Miall--Mr. Sturge--Organization
  of the Complete Suffrage Union--Character of the
  Chartists                                                         302


  Chartists and Complete Suffragists--Feargus O'Connor--William
  Lovett--John Collins--Henry Vincent--Thomas Cooper--Edward
  Miall--Reverend Thomas Spencer                                    311


  Ireland, her Condition and Prospects--The Causes of her
  Misery--The Remedies for the Evils which Afflict her              322


  Life, Services, and Character of Daniel O'Connell                 333


  The Temperance Reformation--Father Mathew                         343


  International Peace--European Military Establishments--British
  Establishment--Mr. Cobden--Peace Party in England--Peace
  Congress in Paris--Elihu Burritt--Charles Sumner                  346


  Mrs. Elizabeth Fry--Mrs. Amelia Opie--Lady Noel Byron--Miss
  Harriet Martineau--Mrs. Mary Howitt                               348


  The Literature of Freedom--The Liberal Literature of
  Review--Its Founders--Its Contributors--Its
  Standard and Style of Criticism--Its Influence--London
  Quarterly Review Started--Political Services of the
  Edinburgh--Its Ecclesiastical Tone--Sydney Smith--Decline
  of the Political Influence of the Edinburgh--Blackwood's
  Magazine--Westminster Review--The Eclectic--The
  New Monthly--The Weekly Press--Cobbett's Register--Hunt's
  Examiner--Mr. Fonblanque--Mr. Landor--The
  Spectator--Douglas Jerrold--Punch--People's and Howitt's
  Journals--Mr. Howitt--Chambers' Journal--Penny Magazine
  and Cyclopedia                                                    359


  The Liberal Literature of England--Poetry--Southey--Coleridge--
  Howitt--Eliza Cook--Mackay--Novels--Godwin--Holcroft--The
  Edgeworth--Mrs. Opie--Miss Mitford--Mrs. Hall--Miss
  House--French Literature and Louis Philippe                       374


  Conclusion                                                        392



     Introductory--The "Condition of England" Question.

The People of the United States must ever be interested in the history
of Great Britain. We have a common origin, and an identity of language;
we hold similar religious opinions, and draw the leading principles of
our civil institutions from the same sources. Reading the same historic
pages, and while recounting the words and deeds of orators and statesmen
who have dignified human nature, or the achievements of warriors who
have filled the world with their fame, we say, "these were _our_
forefathers." The sages and scholars of both nations teach the youth to
cherish the wisdom of Alfred, the deductions of Bacon, the discoveries
of Newton, the philosophy of Locke, the drama of Shakspeare, and the
song of Milton, as the heir-looms of the whole Anglo-Saxon family. The
ties of blood and lineage are strengthened by those of monetary interest
and reciprocal trade; while the channels of social intercourse are kept
open by the tides of emigration which flow unceasingly between us. And
such are the resources of each in arts, in arms, in literature, in
commerce, in manufactures, in the productions of the soil, and such
their advanced position in the science of government, and such the
ability and genius of their great men, that they must, for an indefinite
period, exert a controlling influence on the destiny of mankind.

Nor when viewed in less attractive aspects, can America be indifferent
to the condition and policy of her trans-Atlantic rival. She is
enterprising, ambitious, intriguing. Whitening the ocean with the sails
of her commerce, she sends her tradesmen wherever the marts of men teem
with traffic. Belting the earth with her colonies, dotting its surface
with her forts, anchoring her navies in all its harbors, she rules one
hundred and sixty millions of men, giving law, not only to cultivated
and refined States, but to dwarfed and hardy clans that shrivel and
freeze among the ices of the polar regions, and to swarthy and languid
myriads that repose in the orange groves or pant on the shrubless sands
of the tropics. With retained spies in half the courts and cabinets of
Christendom, she has for a century and a half caused or participated in
nearly all the wars of Europe, Asia, and Africa, while by her arrogance,
diplomacy, or gold, she has shaped the policy of the combatants to the
promotion of her own ends. Ancient Rome, whose name is the synonym of
resistless power and boundless conquest, could not, in the palmy days of
her Cæsars, vie with Great Britain in the extent of her possessions and
the strength of her resources. Half a century ago, her great statesman,
sketching the resources of her territory, said, "The King of England, on
whose dominions the sun never sets." An American orator, of kindred
genius, unfolded the same idea in language which sparkles with the very
effervescence of poetic beauty, when he spoke of her as "that Power,
whose morning drum-beat, following the sun, and keeping company with the
hours, encircles the earth daily with one continuous and unbroken strain
of the martial airs of England." In a word, she embodies, in her history
and policy, in large measure, all the virtues and vices of that
alternate blessing and scourge of mankind, THE ANGLO-SAXON RACE.

Britain, once a land of savage pagans, was, long after the Norman
Conquest, the abode of ignorance, superstition, and despotism. And
though for centuries past she has witnessed a steady advance in
knowledge, and civil and religious liberty--though her men of letters
have sent down to their posterity works that shall live till science,
philosophy and poetry are known no more--though her lawyers have
gradually worn off the rugged features of the feudal system, till the
common law of England has been adopted as the basis of our republican
code--though her spiritual Bastile, the State Church, long since yielded
to the attacks of non-conformity, and opened its gates to a qualified
toleration--though all that was vital and dangerous in the maxim, "the
King can do no wrong," fell with the head of Charles I, in 1649--yet it
is only within the last fifty years that she has discovered at work on
her institutions a class of innovators, designated as "REFORMERS."

Humanity will find ample materials for despair, when contemplating the
condition of the depressed classes in Great Britain and Ireland. But
philanthropy will find abundant sources of hope in studying the
character and deeds of their radical reformers. The past half century
has seen an uprising, not of "the middle class" only, but of the very
substratum of society, in a peaceful struggle for inherent rights. No
force has been employed, except the force of circumstances; and the
result has been eminently successful. This "middle class" (and the term
has great significance in England) discovered its strength during the
revolution under Hampden and Cromwell, and received an impulse then
which it has never lost. The nobility and gentry have too often silenced
the popular clamor by admitting its leaders to the rank and privileges
of "the higher orders." Still, concessions were made to the mass of
middle men, which stimulated them to demand, and strengthened them to
obtain more. But a truth, destined to be all-potent in the nineteenth
century, remained to be discovered, viz: the identity in interest of the
middle and lower classes. The lines which custom and prejudice had drawn
between them grew fainter and fainter as the day approached for the full
discovery of this truth. The earthquake shock of the French Revolution
overthrew a throne rooted to the soil by the growth of a thousand years.
Britain felt the crash. Scales fell from all eyes, and the people of the
realm discovered that subjects were clothed with Divine rights as well
as kings. Englishmen said so, in public addresses and resolutions, not
always expressed in courtly phrase, nor rounded off in the style of
rhetorical adulation so grateful to regal ears. The king, not having
duly profited by the lesson the American rebels had taught him, indicted
Hardy, Thelwall, Tooke, and their compatriots, for sedition and treason.
These men were the representatives of both the middle and lower classes.
Their constituents--THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND--combined for their mutual
safety against the common oppressor. The wall of partition was partially
broken down, and, from that hour to this, the struggle between Right and
Privilege, between the Subject and the Crown, has gone on, distinguished
by alternate defeat and victory, by heroic constancy and dastardly
treachery--noble martyrs dying, valiant combatants living to continue
the good fight.

_"The Condition of England" question_ (as the Parliamentary phrase runs)
was, a century ago, a matter of indifference to the masses. Lord
Castlereagh but uttered the adage of a hundred years when he said, "the
people have nothing to do with the laws, except to obey them."
Parliament was opened with a dull King's speech, to be followed by the
opening of the annual budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
proposing to raise a loan for foreign wars, or a fund to sink the
interest of the public debt. An oracular response was given by the
Minister now and then to some query touching the relations of the
kingdom to continental Powers, or the resources of some newly-acquired
colony. An occasional bill was introduced to pamper the landlord
aristocracy, or to increase the resources of the clergy, and enforce the
collection of tithes in the manufacturing districts. Untitled manhood
was held "dog cheap;" and all legislation (excepting the throwing of a
bone now and then to the Cerberus of "vulgar clamor") looked to the
conservation of the privileged classes, the dignity of the nobility, the
wealth of the church, and the prerogatives of the Crown. How different
now! The representatives of THE PEOPLE have broken into the sacred
inclosure of "the Government," and new men, with new opinions, have
usurped the places of an ancient aristocracy, and its antiquated
principles. Now, "the Condition of England" question takes cognizance of
the rights and the wrongs of all, and involves searching examinations,
and hot and irreverent discussions, in and out of Parliament, of poor
laws, pension laws, game laws, corn laws, free trade, universal
education, unrestricted religious toleration, standing armies, floating
navies, Irish repeal, East and West India emancipation, colonial
independence, complete suffrage, the ballot, annual Parliaments, law
reform, land reform, entails, primogeniture, the life-tenure of judges,
an hereditary peerage, the House of Lords, the Bench of Bishops, the
Monarchy itself, with other matters of like import, about which the
trader and the farmer of Queen Anne's time knew but little, and never
dared to question above his breath, but which, in the days of Victoria,
are the common talk of the artisan and yeoman. Ay, more than this:
reforms not dreamed of in 1805, by Fox, the liberal, are proposed and
carried in 1845 by Peel, the conservative. "Oh, for the golden days of
good Queen Bess," when the common people paid their tithes and ate what
bread they could get, and left law-making to the Knights of the Shire
and the Peers of the Realm!

But he must superficially read history who supposes that the fruitful
Reforms, which now strike their roots so deep into British soil, and
throw their branches so high and wide over the land, were planted by
this century. Their seeds were sown long since, and watered with the
tears and fertilized by the blood of men as pure and brave as God ever
sent to bless and elevate our race. From the conquest of William the
Norman, down to the coronation of Victoria the Saxon, one fact stands
prominently on the page of English history, viz: that there has been a
gradual circumscribing of the powers of the nobles and the prerogatives
of the Crown, accompanied with a corresponding enlargement of the
liberties of the people. Omitting many, I will glance at some of the
more conspicuous landmarks in this highway of reform.

The mitigation of the rigors of the feudal system by William Rufus, the
son of the Conqueror, who established it.--The general institution of
trial by jury, in the succeeding reign of Henry II, and the granting of
freedom to the towns of the realm by royal charters.--Old King John, at
Runnymede, affixing his sign manual to MAGNA CHARTA, with trembling
hand, at the dictation of his haughty barons and their retainers. The
establishment of the House of Commons, about the middle of the
thirteenth century, thus giving the commercial men of the middle class a
voice in the Government.--Edward I, "the English Justinian," encouraging
the courts in those decisions which tended to restrain the feudal lords
and protect their vassals; and approving a statute which declared that
no tax or impost should be laid without the consent of the Lords and
Commons.--The introduction into England, in the latter part of the
fifteenth century, of the art of printing, and the consequent cheapness
of the price of books, and the diffusion of that knowledge which is
power.--The discovery of America, giving an impulse to British commerce,
and increasing the importance of the trading classes, by placing in
their hands those sinews of war which kings must have, or cease to make
conquests. The Reformation, introduced into England in 1534, unfettering
the conscience, and giving to the laity the Heaven-descended charter of
human rights--the Bible.--The Petition of Right--the British Declaration
of Independence--signed by Charles I, in 1628, by command of his
Parliament, which materially curbed the royal prerogative.--His headless
trunk on the scaffold at Whitehall, in 1649, when the aspiring blood of
a Stuart sank into the ground, to appease the republican wrath of
Deacon Praise-God Barebones and Captain Smite-them-hip-and-thigh Clapp,
and their brother Roundheads--teaching anointed tyrants that, though
kings can do no wrong, they can die like common felons.--The succeeding
Commonwealth, when a Huntingdonshire farmer swayed with more than regal
majesty the scepter which had so often dropped from the feebler hands of
the Plantagenets and Tudors. The passage of the _Habeas Corpus_ act, in
1678, in the reign of Charles II, who saved his head by surrendering his
veto. The Revolution of 1688, which deposed one line of kings and chose
another, prescribing to the elected monarch his coronation oath, and
exacting his ratification of the new Declaration of Rights.--The
American Revolution, with its Declaration of Independence, teaching the
House of Hanover the salutary truth, not only that "resistance to
tyrants is obedience to God," but it can be successful. These, and
cognate epochs in English history, which preceded those Modern Reforms
of which I am more particularly to speak, are links in that long chain
of events which gradually circumscribed the power of the princes and
nobles. Each was a concession to that old Anglo-Saxon spirit of liberty,
which demanded independence for the American Colonies, and is now
working out the freedom of the subjects of the Queen of Great Britain
and Ireland.

The object of the following chapters will be, to briefly sketch some of
these MODERN REFORMS, interspersed with notices of some of the prominent
actors in each.


     British Cabinets from 1770 to 1830--Summary of the Efforts of the
     Reformers, from the War of 1793 to the Formation of the Grey
     Ministry in 1830.

Before specially considering any one prominent Reform in English
history, a general summary of events may be profitable. It will be _but_
a summary, preliminary to a more general discussion, and will be mainly
confined to the period between the French Revolution and the formation
of the Grey Ministry in 1830.

From 1770 to 1830, the Government of Great Britain was, with the
exception of a few months, swayed by the enemies of Reform. In the
former year, Lord North, a name odious to Americans, who had previously
led the Tories in the House of Commons, assumed the premiership. He
retained his place, his principles, and his power, twelve years. In
1782, a _quasi_ liberal ministry supplanted him, headed by Rockingham,
Fox, and Burke, which was dissolved in three months, by the death of the
former, when Fox, Burke, and their friends, refused to unite under
Shelburne, the succeeding Tory Premier, who sought new supporters,
giving young Pitt the seals of the Exchequer and the lead in the
Commons. Stung by mortification at their exclusion from office, Fox and
Burke united with North in forming the famous "Coalition," and in April,
1783, prostrated Shelburne. Thereupon, a new ministry was made up of
those disaffected Whig and Tory chiefs, Fox, Burke, the Duke of Portland
and Lord North being its leading spirits. This Coalition, which for
years damaged the fame of Fox, struggled for its unnatural existence
till the following December, when, failing to carry Mr. Fox's India
bill, it expired, dishonored and unregretted. Pitt, "the pilot that
weathered the storm," then took the helm of State, which he held
eighteen tempestuous years, and was succeeded, not supplanted, in 1801,
by the weak but amiable Mr. Addington. Lord Hawkesbury (the subsequent
Lord Liverpool) took the pen of Foreign Secretary; Eldon (Sir John
Scott) clutched the great seal of Chancery; and Perceval put on the gown
of Solicitor General. This ministry leaned on Pitt for support, and was
his puppet, having taken office to do what he was too proud to
perform--make peace with France. The war demon smoothed his wrinkled
front only for a short period, when his visage suddenly became grim, and
the ship of State was, in 1803, again plunged in the waves of a European
contest. The helm soon slipped from the feeble hands of Addington, and
"the pilot" was recalled to his old station, where he remained till
1806, when his lofty spirit sinking under the shock of the overthrow at
Austerlitz of the Continental Coalition against Napoleon, of which he
was the animating soul, he hid his mortified heart in a premature grave.

A liberal ministry, clustering around Lord Grenville and Mr. Fox, took
up the reins of power which had dropped from the relaxed hands of Pitt,
abolished the slave trade, attempted to ameliorate the condition of the
Catholics, encountered the bigotry of George III, failed, resigned, and
were succeeded by an ultra Tory administration, of which Perceval,
Liverpool, Eldon, Castlereagh, and Canning were the chief members. For
six years they followed in the footsteps of Pitt, fighting Napoleon
abroad and Reformers at home, propping up the thrones of continental
despots, and fortifying the prerogatives of the English crown, till, in
1812, Perceval, who was then Premier, fell before the pistol of a madman
in the lobby of the House of Commons. Simultaneously with putting the
crazy assassin to death, almost without the forms of a trial,
Liverpool, as Premier, and Castlereagh, as Foreign Secretary, came into
power, and, pursuing the policy of Pitt and Perceval, the same ministry,
with occasional modifications, retained its place until the death of
Liverpool, in 1827. Castlereagh, its life and soul, and the evil genius
of England, and the truckling tool of the Holy Alliance, perished by his
own hand in 1823, and was succeeded in the Foreign Department by
Canning, who infused a more liberal spirit into the Cabinet, especially
in the attitude of England towards the Alliance.

Such had been the advance of free principles amongst the body of the
people during the fifteen years of Liverpool's administration, that
George IV had great difficulty in forming a new ministry. Wellington and
Peel refused to become members if the friends of Catholic Emancipation
were admitted, and Canning refused to join if they were excluded. After
a long train of negotiations, the anger of the King exploded at the
stubbornness of the Iron Duke, and he gave Canning his royal hand to
kiss, with a _carte blanche_ for the enrolment of a ministry. He formed
a mixed Government, whose average quality was mollified Toryism. He
brought into the compound Robinson and Huskisson, his recent associates
in the Liverpool cabinet, whose liberal course on trade and finance,
during the last four years, foreshadowed the repeal of the corn laws and
the dawning of better days. Wellington and Peel spurned the
amalgamation, whilst Eldon, with the shedding of many tears and the
tearing of much hair, surrendered the great seal, which his strong hand
had grasped for twenty-six years, to the great detriment of suitors with
short purses, and the great profit of barristers with long wind. The
country expected much from the new administration. But whether well or
ill founded, its anticipations were extinguished in a few brief months
by the death of the brilliant genius who had inspired its hopes. When
the grave closed over Canning, Lord Gooderich (Mr. Robinson) organized
a piebald ministry, of such incongruous materials that it broke in
pieces almost in the very act of being set up. Wellington was then
summoned to the King's closet, and in January, 1828, became Premier,
giving the lead of the Commons to his favorite, Peel, he himself
undertaking to control the House of Peers, much according to the tactics
of the field of Waterloo. The Iron Duke, who was always adroit at a
retreat, and the supple commoner, both of whom had refused to join
Canning because he favored Catholic amelioration, now reluctantly
granted, because they dared not withhold, the repeal of the Corporation
and Test Acts, and the emancipation of the Catholics! The
Wellington-Peel Government struggled bravely till late in 1830, when the
tide of Parliamentary Reform, rising to a resistless hight, overwhelmed
them, and the first liberal ministry (excepting a few distracted months)
which England had witnessed for sixty-five years, was organized by Earl
Grey. Fortunate man! He now saw the seeds of that reform, which, forty
years before, in the fervor of youth, he sowed in Parliament, and had
steadily cultivated under contumely and reproach from that day till
this, about to yield an abundance which his matured and ennobled hand
was to garner in, whilst the people "shouted the Harvest Home."

Begging the reader's pardon for introducing this dry detail of names and
dates, it may be further noted, that in glancing over the dreary wastes
which stretch between the elevation of North and the downfall of
Wellington, but few verdant spots rise to relieve the reformer's eye.
From the commencement of the French war, in 1793, till the repeal of the
Corporation and Test Acts, in 1828, not a solitary important reform was
carried, except the abolition of the slave trade, and the British empire
exhibited a broad sea of rank Conservatism. But, though nothing was
_perfected_ in these thirty-five years, no period of British history
teems with events more gratifying to a hopeful and progressive humanity.
Foul and fetid as were the waters of the Dead Sea, they were constantly
lashed by a healthful and purifying agitation. These fruitless years
were the seed-time of a harvest to be reaped in better days; and all the
reforms which from 1828 till now have blessed and are blessing England
were never forgotten, but continually pressed upon the attention of
Parliament and the country, by a resolute band of men illustrious for
their talents and their services. In proof of this, a few rude
landmarks, before entering upon a more minute survey of this period, may
be worth the erecting.

The trials, at the Old Bailey, in 1794, of Tooke, Hardy, and their
associates, prosecuted for high treason for their words and acts as
members of a Society for Parliamentary Reform, were the first outbreak
of the wide-spread alarm at the prevalence of the political opinions
introduced into the kingdom by the French Revolution. The Government was
foiled; the prisoners were acquitted; Erskine, their advocate, won
unfading laurels; and the doctrine of "constructive treason" was forever
exploded in England.

The foreign policy of Pitt and his successors, which sent England on a
twenty-five years' crusade to fight the battles of Absolutism on the
continent, encountered the fiery logic of Fox, the dazzling declamation
of Sheridan, the analytical reasoning of Tierney, the dignified rebukes
of Grey, the sturdy sense of Whitbread, the scholastic arguments of
Horner, and the bold assaults of Burdett. And at a later period, when
Castlereagh humbled the power of England at the footstool of the Holy
Alliance, Brougham made the land echo with appeals to the Anglo-Saxon
love of liberty, till Canning, in 1823, protested against the acts of
the Allied Sovereigns, and in the following year declared in the House
of Commons, while the old chamber rung with plaudits, that ministers had
refused to become a party to a new Congress of the Allies.

In 1806-7, the slave trade fell under the united attacks of Wilberforce,
Fox, and Pitt; Clarkson, Sharpe, and other worthies, supplying the
ammunition for the assault. And the West India slave, long forgotten,
was remembered when Canning, in 1823, introduced resolutions that
immediate measures ought to be adopted by the planters to secure such a
gradual improvement in the slave's condition as might render safe his
ultimate admission to participation in the civil rights and privileges
of other classes of His Majesty's subjects; and addressed a
corresponding ministerial circular to the colonies.

In 1809, Romilly brought his eminent legal knowledge and graceful
eloquence to bear against the sanguinary criminal code which a dark age
had obtruded on the noonday of civilization. He subsequently exposed the
abuses of the Court of Chancery, which, under the tardy administration
of "that everlasting doubter," Lord Eldon, pressed heavily on the
country. He laid bare the absurd technicalities and verbosities which
blocked the avenues to the common law courts. Having removed some of
this rubbish, and softened a few of the asperities of the criminal code,
his benevolent heart sunk in the grave, when the philosophic and
classical Mackintosh resumed the work, and carrying a radical motion for
inquiry over the heads of ministers in 1819, pressed it nearer that
tolerable consummation which Brougham, Williams, and Denman reached at a
later day. The cause of law reform was powerfully aided by the closet
labors of that singular person, Jeremy Bentham, whose world-wide
researches and world-filling books, written in a style as consecutive
and tedious as the story of The House that Jack Built, discussed
everything pertaining to government, from the constitution of a kingdom
to the construction of a work-house.

The condition of Ireland and the relief of the Catholics occupied much
of the public attention during the period under review. The rebellion of
1798 turned all eyes towards that devoted island. The next year, Pitt
proposed the Legislative Union. It encountered the fierce epigrams of
Sheridan; and though it passed both Houses, it met with such vehement
opposition from the Irish Parliament, that it was abandoned till the
next year, when Pitt renewed the proposal. Grattan, the very soul of
Irish chivalry, rained down upon it a shower of invective from the West
side of the channel, and was seconded by the glittering oratory of
Sheridan and the calmer reasoning of Grey and Lord Holland on the East.
But Britain extended to Ireland the right hand of a Judas fellowship,
whilst with the left she bribed her to accept the proffered alliance. In
1807, Lord Grenville, who was ever a firm friend of religious liberty
and of Ireland, and Grey, in behalf of the Cabinet, proposed an
amelioration of the bigoted code which made the worship of God by the
Catholic a crime. They failed, and ministers resigned. The question of
Catholic relief was pressed to a division, in various forms, fourteen
times, without success, from 1805 to 1819. In the latter year, Grattan
moved that the House take into consideration the matter of Catholic
Emancipation, and failed by only two majority. In 1821, Plunkett,
distinguished for his attainments and virtues, and a model of eloquence,
whether standing at the Irish bar or in the British Senate, carried the
motion which Grattan lost, Peel strenuously resisting, by a majority of
six. He followed up his victory by pushing the Consolidation Bill (a
measure of amelioration only) through the Commons; but it was thrown out
by the Lords. Sparing further details for the present, suffice it to
say, that at intervals during this period, Sydney Smith, with his Peter
Plymley Letters, laughed to scorn the fears of high churchmen; a host of
pamphleteers of all sizes sifted the question to its very chaff, and
O'Connell and his "Associations" and "Unions," in spite of the
suspension of the _habeas corpus_ and the enactment of coercion bills,
agitated from the Giant's Causeway to Cape Clear, and ultimately wrung
from the fears of the oppressor what his sense of justice would not

The Protestant dissenters, with a less rude hand, knocked at the doors
of Parliament, demanding the purification of the Established Church, and
the opening of its gates to Toleration. The rich clergy were compelled
by law to pay higher salaries to their poor curates--Hume's clumsy
abuse fell on the heads of the lazy prelates who made godliness
gain--and the "pickings and stealings," which the Establishment
tolerated in a long train of sanctimonious supernumeraries, were exposed
to the gaze of the uninitiated when Brougham carried his bill against
ministers, in 1819, for a board of commissioners to investigate the
abuses of public charities. The Corporation and Test Acts, which
enslaved the consciences of dissenters, were denounced by Fox and
Burdett, preparatory to their ultimate repeal (of which more anon) by
Lord John Russell's bill in 1828.

Nor was the importance of educating the masses forgotten. Not content
with aiding Romilly, Smith, Horner, Mackintosh, and Jeffrey, in
instructing the higher circles by frequent contributions to the
Edinburgh Review on domestic and European politics, Brougham wrote
rudimental tracts for the lower orders--lectured to Mechanics'
Institutes--contributed to Penny Magazines--and in 1820, after a speech
which exhibited perfect familiarity with the educational condition of
the unlettered masses, launched in Parliament his comprehensive scheme
for the instruction of the poor in England and Wales; thus proving that
_he_ was entitled to the eulogy he bestowed on another, as "the patron
of all the arts that humanize and elevate mankind."

Having seen this favorite scheme fairly afloat, this wonderful man
turned to far different employments. The misguided but injured Queen
Caroline landed in England in 1820, amidst the shoutings of the
populace. Ministers immediately brought in their bill of pains and
penalties; _i. e._, a bill to degrade and divorce the Queen, without
giving her the benefit of those ordinary forms of law which protect even
the confessed adulteress. She appointed Brougham her Attorney General.
In the midst of such a popular ferment as England has rarely seen, he
promptly seized the royal libertine in his harem, and while giving one
hand to the regulation of his new educational machine, with the other
dragged him into the open field of shame, and concentrated upon him the
scorn of Virtue and Humanity.

The corn laws were the subject of frequent debates and divisions.
Waiving till another occasion their more particular consideration, it
may here be stated, that the frequent recurrence of extreme agricultural
and commercial distress always brought with it into Parliament the
subject of the corn trade, provoking a discussion of the antagonistic
theories of protection and free trade, and challenging to the arena the
learning and experience of Burdett, Horner, Ricardo, Baring, Hume,
Huskisson, and Brougham. It was on these occasions that the latter used
to exhibit that close familiarity with the statistics of political
economy and of domestic and foreign trade, and of the laws of demand and
supply, which surprised even those acquainted with his exhaustless
versatility. His only match in this department was Huskisson, to whose
enlightened and steady advocacy of unrestricted commerce its friends are
greatly indebted. As early as 1823, this generally conservative
gentleman moved a set of resolutions providing for an annual and rapid
reduction of the duties on foreign corn, till the point of free trade
was attained.

Closely allied to this subject was that of budgets, sinking funds,
loans, civil lists, and army and navy expenditures, all summed up in the
word _taxes_. The means of paying the interest on the £600,000,000 debt
Pitt had run up in reënthroning the pauper Bourbons (not to speak of the
240 000,000 pounds before existing) was to be provided for. The current,
expenses of the Government clamored for large sums. Under this annual
load of taxation, a nation of Astors might have staggered. The liberal
party plead for economy and retrenchment in the army and the navy, in
the church and the state. Brougham, Ricardo, and other smaller
cipherers, applied the pruning knife to the prolific tree of taxation
and expenditure. But the chief annoyance of Ministers was Mr. Hume.
After he entered Parliament, all schemes for raising or appropriating
money encountered his scrutinizing eye and merciless _figurings_. With
no more eloquence than the multiplication table, he as rarely made
mistakes in his calculations. And whenever Mr. Vansittart, the
foggy-headed Chancellor of the Exchequer, appeared on the floor with his
money bills, his tormentor was sure to pin him to the wall by his
skillful use of the nine digits, which he followed up by crushing that
unfortunate gentleman between huge columns of statistics.

Parliamentary Reform, the enginery by which the people of England must
work out a bloodless revolution, was repeatedly agitated, and with
various results. Stormy debates, followed by divisions and defeats, did
not discourage Grey, Mackintosh, Brougham, Lambton, and Russell, within
doors, nor Tooke, Cartwright, Cobbett, Hunt, and a host of other good,
bad, and indifferent men without, from seeking enlarged suffrage and
equal representation. Nor did laws enacted to stop the circulation
amongst the working classes of cheap publications, by laying a tax on
them; and to put down reformatory societies, under the pretext of
prohibiting seditious meetings; and to seize arms found in the hands of
the lower orders, so that their assemblies might be dispersed at the
bayonet's point without fear of retaliation; nor the occasional
searching of a library and demolishing a press, and sending a writer or
lecturer to Botany Bay, deter the masses from demanding that "the
People's _House_ should be open to the People's _Representatives_."
Passing by many noteworthy occurrences, we find Birmingham, in 1819,
without a representative for its teeming thousands, while rotten
Grampound, with scarce an inhabitant, had two, adopting the bold measure
of electing "a Legislatorial Attorney" to represent it in the House of
Commons! The next year, a large and peaceable meeting of reformers at
Manchester is dispersed by cavalry, with loss of much precious blood.
The common people throughout the kingdom are deeply moved at this
spectacle--riots follow--troops shed more blood--Ministers denounce the
agitators--Burdett defends them--Brougham defies Ministers, and Lord
John Russell numbers the days of Grampound. The next session he moves to
disfranchise that rotten borough, which had been convicted of bribery,
and transfer its members to Leeds. He fails. The next session, Lambton
(Earl Durham) brings in a bill for a radical reform, and is defeated by
a scurvy trick of Ministers. Lord John renews the conflict with another
bill--the People's petitions press the tables of the House--Ministers
begin to give way--Grampound is disfranchised, and its members
transferred to York county, and the first nail is driven! In 1823, Lord
John leads on the attack by explaining a well-digested scheme of reform
in a luminous speech. Canning makes a conciliatory reply, and, in his
brilliant peroration, tells Russell he will yet succeed, but on his head
be the responsibility. Russell is beaten, but the minority is swelled by
the accession for the first time of several young members of the ancient
nobility. The same year, Castlereagh cuts his throat, and falls into a
grave which Englishmen will execrate till the crack of doom. The
"radicals" (a name which the reformers received when Birmingham elected
her attorney) take courage--Lord John beats ministers on an incidental
question--Old Sarum trembles for her ancient privileges--the French
monarchy is temporarily overthrown, and Earl Grey rises to power.

In this summary, which sets chronological order and historical symmetry
at defiance, I have only aimed to show that, from 1793 to 1830, the
fires on Freedom's Altar were kept burning by a band of worshipers, many
of whose names find few parallels in English history, whether we
consider the vigor of their understandings, the extent of their
knowledge, the splendor of their genius, the luster of their services,
and the fidelity and courage with which they followed the fortunes of
the liberal cause through thirty-seven years of opposition to Court
favor and Ministerial patronage.

A more particular notice of these events and persons will be pursued in
future chapters.


     Treason Trials of 1794--Societies for Reform--Constructive
     Treason--Horne Tooke--Mr. Erskine.

The first conflict between Englishmen and their rulers, to which I will
now more particularly refer, is the sedition and treason trials, near
the close of the last century; more especially alluding to the trials of
JOHN HORNE TOOKE, HARDY, THELWALL, and their associates, in 1794, for
high treason. The victories then achieved heralded those subsequent
reforms in Church and State which have so blessed the common people of
England. It was the crisis of British freedom. Though failure then would
not have uprooted the goodly tree, it would have blasted much of its
sweet fruit, and retarded its luxuriant growth. Maj. Cartwright, ("that
old heart of sedition," as Canning called him,) one of England's early
reformers, in a letter written at the time, said: "Had these trials
ended otherwise than they have, the system of proscription and terror,
which has for some time been growing in this country, would have been
completed and written in blood." The verdicts of "not guilty" not only
pronounced the acquittal of the prisoners, but proclaimed the right of
individuals and associations to examine and reprobate the acts of their
King and Parliament; to discuss the foundations of government, and
declare the rights of man and the wrongs of princes; and to arouse
public opinion to demand such changes in the laws as would secure the
liberties of the people. The crime charged against Tooke and his
associates was, endeavoring to excite a rebellion, overthrow the
monarchy, wage war on the king, and compass his death. Their real
offense was, belonging to "the London Corresponding Society" and "the
Society for Constitutional Information," better known as societies for
Parliamentary reform, in which they canvassed the nature of government,
the rights of the people, and the acts of their rulers, and specially
advocated a reform in the Parliamentary representation and the electoral

This was no new movement. Similar associations had existed for twenty
years. The Society of "the Friends of the People" numbered among its
members the imposing names of the Duke of Richmond, Pitt, Sheridan,
Whitbread, Grey, and other men of rank. They had held meetings,
published pamphlets, and petitioned Parliament. Discussions had taken
place in both Houses. In 1770, the great Chatham advocated a moderate
reform in the representation in the lower House. In 1776, Wilkes, the
favorite of the London populace, made an able speech on moving for leave
to bring in a radical bill to the same end. In 1783, Pitt, yielding to
the generous impulses of his youth, moved for a committee to inquire
into the same subject, and supported his motion in two eloquent
speeches. In 1790, Flood, the celebrated Irishman, spoke with fervor on
moving for a more equal representation in the Commons, and was replied
to by Wyndham and Pitt, (who had become frightened by the French
revolution,) and powerfully supported by Fox, then in the zenith of his
fame, and by Grey, just giving earnest of those talents which, forty
years after, carried the reform bill through the Lords. The discussion
of kindred topics in Parliament during the same periods stimulated the
popular party. The expulsion of Wilkes, the idol of the London mob, from
the Commons; the seizure of his papers and the imprisonment of his
person in the Tower for a seditious libel against the Tory Government;
his repeated reëlection by his Middlesex constituency, and the votes of
the House declaring his seat still vacant; the consequent debates in
both Houses during the years 1768-'70 excited the populace to the verge
of rebellion, and challenged inquiry into the relative rights of the
people and their Parliament. The debates on the stamp act, the taxation
of the colonies, and the American war, covering fifteen years, enlisted
the best powers of Chatham, Burke, Fox, and Barre, and elicited from
those high sources radical declarations of the rights of man. The
denunciations of the test acts and of the Catholic penal code by Fox and
his followers, from 1786 to 1790, as subversive of the rights of
conscience, added fuel to the popular flame. All these agitations within
the walls of Parliament were but the remoter pulsations of the great
heart beating without--the faint shadows of that genius of reform,
which, till recently, has numbered its representatives by units and its
constituency by hundreds of thousands.

The political sea, ruffled by these winds, was soon to be tossed by
violent storms. The French revolution produced a profound sensation in
all classes of Englishmen. The fulminations of its _third estate_
against monarchy, and the democratic doctrines of Paine's Rights of Man,
(republished in England from the Parisian edition, and scattered far and
wide,) found a response in thousands of British hearts. The people felt
their grievances to be more intolerable than ever, and the example of
France emboldened them to demand redress in firmer tones. The London
Society for Constitutional Information, which had grown languid,
suddenly felt a revival of more than its original spirit, and kindred
associations sprang into existence all over the kingdom. Their orators
declaimed upon the rights of man, painted his wrongs, extolled the
merits of the people, and denounced the vices of bishops and nobles. The
oppressions of the middle and lower classes, (of both which the
societies were mainly composed,) by the privileged orders, afforded
ample materials for these appeals to the best and worst passions of
human nature.

The Government was alarmed. The events of France in 1792 had determined
the English Ministry to crush in the bud the revolution they pretended
they saw springing up at home. Their real object was to prostrate the
reformatory associations. Louis was deposed, and the Republic had
decreed fraternity and aid to the people of all nations in recovering
their liberties. Riots occurred in a few English manufacturing towns.
The King suddenly convened Parliament, and declared in his speech, that
conspiracies existed for overthrowing the Government, and that the
kingdom was on the eve of a revolution. In the debate on the King's
speech, the Minister said that seditious societies had been instituted,
under the plausible pretext of discussing constitutional questions, but
really to promote an insurrection of the people. Mr. Fox met the
assertions of King and Minister with a denial, whose language borders on
temerity. He declared, "there was not one fact stated in His Majesty's
speech which was not false--not one assertion or insinuation which was
not unfounded. The prominent feature in it was, that it was an
intolerable calumny on the people of Great Britain; an insinuation of so
gross and black a nature that it demanded the most rigorous inquiry and
the most severe punishment!" Bold words, these; not unlike those of
Cromwell, who declared "he would as soon put his sword through the heart
of the King as that of any other man."

But the Government was not to be arrested in its course by the bold
words of the Opposition leader. It continued to prosecute printers and
lecturers for seditious libels and speeches, fining, imprisoning,
cropping, branding, and transporting, at will. The progress of events in
France was precipitating the crisis. In 1793, Louis and his Queen were
guillotined, and the next year saw the Princess Elizabeth's head fall,
while the bloody star of Robespierre loomed in the ascendant. At these
scenes, the cheek of monarchical Europe turned pale. Pitt was alarmed.
Prosecutions for sedition did not reach the seat of the disease. Royal
proclamations did not silence the reformers. The constitutional
societies still met and debated. Early in the session of 1794, he
brought in bills to clothe the Government with extraordinary powers to
detect suspicious persons, (_i. e._ reformers,) and to suspend the
_habeas corpus_ act. After a furious contest, in which Fox, Grey, and
Sheridan, stood by the popular cause, the bills passed. The _habeas
corpus_ was suspended in May, 1794. The safeguard of English liberty
being prostrated, a fell blow was aimed at the societies, through the
persons of some of their leading members. Informations for high treason
were filed in May by the Attorney General (Sir John Scott--Lord Eldon)
against Tooke, Hardy, Thelwall, and nine others, and they were sent to
the Tower to await their trials. Both parties now prepared for a
death-struggle. The Ministers trusted for success to the power of the
Crown, the subserviency of the judges, and the wide-spread panic among
the higher classes. The common people, though alarmed at the strength of
this combination, relied upon the innocence of the accused persons; but,
at all events, (though the more timid erased their names from the roll
of the societies,) the mass resolved to make a stand for the freedom of
speech and the press, and the right of associating for a redress of
grievances, worthy of the exigency. From the papers of the London
Society, which had been seized, it appeared that the members
contemplated holding a National Convention to promote Parliamentary
reform; and this was regarded as a conspiracy to subvert the monarchy
and establish a republic!

I have stated the crime with which these men were charged. Indicted for
conspiring to subvert the monarchy, depose the King, and compass his
death, it was only pretended that they had uttered and published
seditious words with the intent to alter his Government; when, in fact,
they had only advocated radical reforms in the two Houses of Parliament.
The _existence_ of the constitutional societies and their _doings_ were
clearly legal. No doubt, many unguarded and some unwarranted expressions
about the King and Parliament had been used. But nothing had been said
or done which, on a fair construction, exposed the parties to a just
conviction of any crime. Most assuredly they were not guilty of high
treason; and as surely their words and deeds were tame and puerile,
compared with what the English press and people have since said and done
in the ear of Ministers and under the eye of Majesty. In short, they
were to be immolated on the judicial guillotine of "CONSTRUCTIVE

The character and station of the prisoners excited the interest of
different ranks of society. They had been shut up in the Tower six
months, closely confined, and all access to them by their friends
denied. Hardy was a shoemaker, and, with two or three others, was from
the upper strata of the lower orders. Kyd was a barrister; Holcroft, a
dramatic writer; Joyce, a minister; and Thelwall, a political lecturer.
These belonged to the middle class. JOHN HORNE TOOKE, the most
considerable person among them, held a debatable position in the higher
circles. He was a gentleman of limited aristocratic connections, and a
scholar of rare and varied learning. He had taken holy orders in his
youth, but had long ago left the altars of the church for the closet of
the student and the forum of the politician. He was the author of the
profound philosophical treatise on the English language, called "_The
Diversions of Purley_." Many then supposed him to be the author of
Junius. He had had a violent newspaper controversy, feigned or real,
with that writer, and had worsted him. He was the ablest pamphleteer and
debater among the ultra-liberals, and was ever ready, with his keen pen
and bold tongue, to contend with the scribes of the Government through
the press, or its orators on the rostrum, and he never gave cause to
either to congratulate themselves on the results of the encounter.
Nearly twenty years ago he had stood before the same tribunal, and
defended himself with consummate skill, and a courage bordering on
audacity, against a prosecution for publishing a defense of "the
American rebels" at the battle of Lexington. He and his associates were
now to make a stand for their lives.

The trials took place at the Old Bailey, in October and November, 1794,
and extended through several weeks. The prisoners were defended by
Erskine, whose name was a tower of strength, and Gibbs, the very
embodiment of legal knowledge, (Tooke aiding in his own case,) whilst
Scott, long-headed, learned, and unscrupulous, assisted by the Solicitor
General, prosecuted for the Crown. The hall and the passages leading to
it were densely thronged with persons of all ranks and conditions, eager
spectators of or participants in, the most memorable struggle which the
courts of the common law have witnessed. No overt _acts_ of any moment
could be proved against either of the accused, and the prosecution had
to rely mainly on ambiguous words and writings of doubtful import. The
whole power of the Court of the King, and the Judges of the King's
Court, was brought to bear upon the doomed prisoners, aided by the
multifarious lore and subtle reasoning of the Attorney General. Every
doubtful word was distorted, every ambiguous look transformed into
lurking treason. The rules of evidence were put to the rack, to admit
bits of letters and conversations, written and uttered by others than
the accused, and to hold them responsible for all that had been said and
done by every man who, at any time and anywhere, had belonged to the
societies, or taken part in their discussions. The friends of the
prisoners spoke with bated breath, as the trials proceeded; for they
knew, if the prosecution succeeded, a reign of terror had begun, in
which the King was to enact the Robespierre, and they were to be his
victims. But neither the ravings of the Court at Windsor, nor the
partialities of the Court at London, could suffice against the learning,
the logic, the skill, the vigilance, the eloquence, the courage, the
soul, which Erskine threw into his cause. He battled as if his own life
had been at hazard. He knew that twelve "good and true men" stood
between the lion and his prey. The Court ruled that if the jury
believed the discussions and writings of the prisoners, or of the
societies to which they belonged, tended to subvert the monarchy and
depose the King, or change the Constitution, they must find them guilty.
But Erskine maintained, with a power of argument which, for the moment,
shook the faith of the Court, that _for British subjects to utter their
sentiments, in_ ANY FORM, _concerning the Government of their country,
was not_ TREASON. So thought the jurors, (though the Court leaned
heavily to the side of the Crown,) and one after another these hunted
plebeians passed the terrible ordeal. The King lost; the People won.
They shouted their triumph so loud, that he heard it within his palace,
and the crowned lion growled, gnashed his royal teeth, and beat the bars
of his constitutional cage, till his anointed head throbbed with

Hardy, whose case was extremely perilous, was first set to the bar. His
trial lasted nine days. Tooke's came next, and Thelwall's next; when the
prosecutors, frantic with rage and mortification at their signal
overthrow, abandoned the contest. When Tooke was acquitted, the joy of
the people knew no bounds. He was an old reformer, had ever been the
steady advocate of popular rights, and was the idol of the Radicals. He
had suffered much before in the common cause. His library had been
repeatedly ransacked for treasonable papers, his family insulted, and
his person again and again thrust into prison. And now they had seen him
stand for six days, battling with the Court which lowered upon him, and
bearing unruffled the taunts with which the Government witnesses had
poorly withstood his searching cross-examination, contending for a life
whose every pulsation had been given to the service of the people. When
the foreman pronounced the words, "Not Guilty," the arches of Old Bailey
rang with plaudits. After addressing a few words to the Court, he turned
to Scott, and said: "I hope, Mr. Attorney General, that this verdict
will be a warning to you not to attempt again to shed men's blood on
lame suspicions and doubtful inferences." He then thanked the jury with
much emotion for the life they had spared to him. The entire panel shed
tears--the very men who had been so obviously packed to convict him,
that at the opening of the trial Erskine said, "Mr. Tooke, they are
murdering you!" The populace bore the old patriot through the passages
to the street, where they sent up shout upon shout. It was a great day
for Reformers, and its anniversary is still celebrated by the Radicals
of England.

Erskine's speech for Hardy (whose case was very critical, and the first
one tried,) is one of the most splendid specimens of popular juridical
eloquence on record. Owing to the running contests on points of law and
evidence, constantly kept up while the trial went on, he lost his voice
the night before he was to address the jury. It returned to him in the
morning, and he was able to crowd seven hours full of such oratory as is
rarely heard in our day. He regarded Hardy's acquittal or conviction not
only as the turning point in the fate of his eleven associates, but as
settling the question whether constructive treason should for long years
track blood through the land, or its murderous steps be now brought to a
final stand. He made a superhuman effort for victory, and achieved it.
Profound as was his legal learning, eminent as were his reasoning
faculties, classical as was his taste, transcendent as were his
oratorical powers, all conspiring to place him not only at the head of
the English bar, but to rank him as the first advocate of modern times;
yet all were overshadowed by the inflexible courage and hearty zeal with
which he met this crisis of British freedom. With the combined power of
the King, his ministers, and his judges, arrayed against his clients and
against him as their representative, seeking their blood and his
degradation, he cowered not, but maintained the home-born rights of his
proscribed fellow-subjects with arguments so matchless, with eloquence
so glowing, with courage so heroic, with constancy so generous, that his
name will ever find a place in the hearts of all who prefer the rights
of man to the prerogatives of power. But more than all; he exploded the
doctrines of constructive treason, and established the law on the true
foundation, that there must be some overt _act_ to constitute guilt; and
he reïnscribed upon the Constitution of England the obliterated
principle, that Englishmen may freely speak and publish their opinions
concerning the Government of their country without being guilty of
treason--a principle, under whose protecting shield they now utter their
complaints, their denunciations even, in the very ear of Majesty

  [1] The text states only a _legal_ truth. Practically there yet remain
  great obstacles in the way of the free utterance of opinions hostile to
  the Government--as witness the recent prosecutions of O'Connell, Jones,


     Constructive Treason--The Law of Libel and Sedition--The Dean of
     St. Asaph--The Rights of Juries--Erskine--Fox--Pitt.

I took occasion in the last chapter to speak at some length of the
trials of Tooke, Hardy, and others, for high treason, in 1794, and of
the successful attack then made by Mr. ERSKINE on the doctrine of
constructive treason. Down to the period of these trials, the English
law of treason was infamous. Among other things, treason was defined to
be waging war against the King, or compassing and imagining his death,
or the overthrow of his Government. The law evidently contemplated the
doing of some _act_, designed and adapted to accomplish these ends. But
the construction of the courts had subverted this principle, and
declared the mere utterance of _words_ high treason. In the reign of
Edward IV, a citizen was executed for saying "he would make his son heir
of _the crown_;" meaning, as was supposed, that he would make him the
heir of his _inn_, called "the Crown." Another, whose favorite buck the
King had wantonly killed, was executed for saying, "he wished the buck,
horns and all, in the bowels of the man who counseled the King to kill
it." The court gravely held, that as the King had killed it of his own
accord, and so was his own counselor, this declaration was imagining the
King's death, and therefore treason! So it had been held, that using
words tending to overawe Parliament, and procure the repeal of a law,
was levying war on the King, and therefore treasonable. At length the
courts yielded to the doctrine that there must be some overt act to
constitute the crime. But they also held that, reducing words to
_writing_ was an overt act, even though they were never read or printed!
Peachum, a clergyman, was convicted of high treason for passages found
in a sermon which had never been preached. The immortal Algernon Sidney
was executed, and his blood attainted, for some unpublished papers found
in his closet, containing merely speculative opinions in favor of a
republican form of government. It was in allusion to this judicial
murder by the infamous Jeffries, and to the fact that the record of the
conviction had been destroyed, that Erskine, on the trial of Hardy,
uttered the splendid anathema against "those who took from the files the
sentence against Sidney, which should have been left on record to all
ages, that it might arise and blacken in the sight, like the handwriting
on the wall before the Eastern tyrant, to deter from outrages upon
justice." It has already been said that this peerless lawyer exploded
these dangerous doctrines, and made it safe for Englishmen to speak and
write freely against the King and Government, without exposure to a
conviction for treason.

But this is not the only salutary legal reform for which England is
indebted to his exertions. Pernicious as is the existing law of CRIMINAL
vastly worse till his strong arguments and scathing appeals had shaken
it to its foundations. A glance at the law. Any publication imputing bad
motives to King or Minister; or charging any branch of Government with
corruption, or a wish to infringe the liberties of the People; or which
cast ridicule upon the Established Church; and any writing, printing, or
speaking, which tended to excite the People to hatred or contempt of the
Government, or to change the laws in an improper manner, &c., were
seditious libels, for which fine, imprisonment, the pillory, &c., might
be imposed. Nor was the truth of the libel any defense. Admirable
snares, these, to entangle unwary reformers, and catch game for the
royal household! And these bad laws were worse administered. _The
juries had no power in their administration_--the only check in the
hands of the People. The court withheld from the jury the question
whether a writing was libelous or seditious, and permitted them only to
decide whether the prisoner had published it. In a word, if the jury
found that he _published_, they must convict; and then the judge growled
out the sentence. These trials were ready weapons for State prosecution
in the hands of a tyrannical King and Ministry, with pliant judges at
their beck; and in the latter half of the last century they were used
without stint or mercy. They struck down Wilkes, Tooke, Woodfall, Muir,
Palmer, Holt, Cartwright, and other liberals, for publications and
speeches in vindication of the People, which, at this day, would be held
harmless even in England. Some were heavily fined, others imprisoned or
transported, others set on the pillory, or cropped and branded, their
houses broken open and searched, their wives and daughters insulted,
their private papers rifled, their printing presses seized, their goods
confiscated, their names cast out as evil, and they might regard their
lot as fortunate if their prospects for life were not utterly ruined.
The treatment of Muir and Palmer, in 1793, was barbarous. Muir was a
respectable barrister, and Palmer a clergyman of eminent literary
attainments. They had merely addressed meetings and associations for
Parliamentary reform in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and reports of one or two
of their speeches had been printed. Muir was sentenced to transportation
for fourteen years, and Palmer for seven. They were shipped off to
Botany Bay with a cargo of common felons! Several other persons, for
attending a Reform Convention in Edinburgh the same year, shared a like
fate. These are trials which sunshine politicians of the liberal school
never contemplate, except to draw from them materials for rounding off
fine periods about freedom and the rights of man. But they endear the
sufferers to the struggling masses of their own time; and, in after
years, when the sons of the persecutors garnish their tombs, those who
then endure like trials swear by their memories and conjure with their

The times of which I write were prolific of these State prosecutions.
Mr. Erskine was the ready counsel of the proscribed reformers then, as
Mr. Brougham was at a later period. His great effort on these trials was
to convince the court that the juries had the right to decide upon the
character of the publication in making up their verdicts; or, in legal
phrase, that they were "judges both of law and fact." In this effort, he
had many a fierce conflict with the judges, when, with his usual
courage, he braved their rebukes and challenged the execution of their
hinted threats to commit him for contempt. He always argued this point
fully to the court, in the presence of the jury; and such was his
mastery over the reason and the feelings, that he sometimes prevented a
conviction when he could not obtain an acquittal. It was in an affair of
this sort that he had a quarrel with Mr. Justice Buller, a judge who
coupled double the imperiousness of Mansfield with half his talents, and
whose frown, glowering out from under his huge wig, has silenced many a
barrister of more than common nerve. The respectable DEAN OF ST. ASAPH,
who breathed the mountain air of Wales, published a clever political
tract, under the guise of a dialogue between King George and a farmer.
Erskine went down to defend him. Buller presided at the trial. Erskine
argued his favorite topic with more than his accustomed ability. The
jury listened with absorbing attention; the judge with impatient
interruptions. He charged furiously against the Dean, and told the jury,
if they believed he published the tract, they must render a general
verdict of guilty. The words of reason and power of the great barrister,
and his piercing eyes, which riveted everything within their gaze, went
with them to their room. They returned a verdict in these words: "Guilty
of publishing only." The astonished judge ordered them out again, with
directions to render a general verdict of guilty. Erskine interposed,
and insisted upon their right to render such a verdict as they had. The
judge replied tartly, and the jury retired. Again they came in with the
same verdict. The judge reprimanded them, while Erskine insisted that
their verdict should be recorded. Buller retorted, explained his law to
the refractory panel, and sent them out. The third time they appeared
with the same verdict. The judge grew furious, and said, unless they
rendered a general verdict, he should order the clerk to enter it
"guilty." Erskine protested in strong terms. Buller ordered him to sit
down. Erskine said he would not sit down, nor would he allow the court
to record a verdict of guilty against his client, when the jury had
rendered no such verdict. Buller hinted at commitment. Erskine defied
him. The jury were frightened, and, in their panic, assented to a
general verdict of guilty.[2] Erskine excepted, and carried the case to
the full bench. But the day of triumph was at hand. So clearly had he in
his great arguments exposed the iniquity of the rule, (if, indeed, it
was law at all,) and so pertinaciously had he contested it on the trial
of the Dean, that Parliament passed a declaratory act soon after, (thus
admitting that Erskine was right,) giving jurors, in these prosecutions,
the power to render a verdict upon the whole offense charged, _i. e._,
making them "judges of the law as well as the fact."[3] I need not say
that, after this, prosecutions for seditious libels became less potent
and frequent weapons in the hands of royal and ministerial persecutors,
and reformers breathed freer.

  [2] This scene is given from memory--the report not being at hand.

  [3] A like contest early arose in this country. Congress passed an act
  similar to that of the English, in 1798. In the State of New York, the
  case of _People vs. Croswell_, for a libel on Jefferson, attracted great
  attention. It was tried in 1803. The judge charged the jury according to
  the old English law, and the defendant was convicted. It was carried
  before the full bench, and argued in 1804. The speech of Alexander
  Hamilton, for the defendant, was one of the ablest ever delivered in
  America. The court being equally divided in opinion, the Legislature,
  the next year, passed a declaratory act, giving to juries the right to
  determine the law and the fact. This is now the prevailing law of the
  country. Croswell's case is reported in 3d Johnson's Cases.

It does the heart good to contemplate talents like Erskine's devoted to
such purposes. To see the foremost lawyer of his time, in the midst of
wide-spread aristocratic clamor, and despite the fulminations of kings
and ministers and judges, take the side of humble men, who are denounced
as incendiaries, agrarians, levelers, French Jacobins, traitors, and
infidels, plotting to murder their sovereign, upheave his throne, and
prostrate the altars of the church, (and these are but a tithe of the
catalogue,) and for years perform prodigies of labor for poor clients
and poorer pay, thus blocking up the avenues to preferment in his
cherished profession, and all for the love he bears the common cause!
Such a spectacle should go somewhat to blunt the edge of those taunts so
constantly aimed at a profession which he adored and adorned, and which,
in every struggle for human rights, has furnished leaders to the popular
party among the bravest of the brave. The law, like every other
profession, has its scum and its vermin, and yields its share of
dishonest men. But they are dishonest not because they are lawyers, but
because they are scoundrels, and would have been so had they chosen to
be merchants, physicians, or horse-jockies. When reproaching the whole
legal fraternity as a "pack of licensed swindlers," it might be well to
remember that the most conspicuous rebels and martyrs of English
freedom, in the olden times, were lawyers--that Erskine, Emmet, Romilly,
Mackintosh, O'Connell, and Brougham, of later and milder days, were
lawyers; and that Jefferson, Adams, Otis, Sherman, Henry, and Hamilton,
with many other bold spirits who thundered and lightened during the
storm of the American revolution, were lawyers.

But we must leave Mr. Erskine by saying, that he possessed ability and
learning to maintain the boldest positions; eloquence for the most
thrilling appeals; imagination to sustain the loftiest flights. He was
graceful in action, melodious in elocution, and had an eye of whose
fascinating power jurors were often heard to speak. He was a wit and a
logician--a lawyer and a reformer--a man, cast in the noblest mold of
his species.

Mr. Erskine was powerfully sustained in his efforts for law reform by
the great liberal leader in the House of Commons. CHARLES JAMES FOX
deserves a conspicuous place among the early Reformers of England.
Entering Parliament in 1768, when just turned twenty-one, he rallied
under the banner of Mr. Burke, then the chief debater on the Whig side,
whose lead he followed through the doubtful contest on American
questions; and when victory, and peace, and independence, crowned their
efforts, the chief resigned the standard of opposition to the hands of
his younger and more robust lieutenant. Fox is called "the disciple of
Burke," and, after their unnatural estrangement, he gratefully said, "I
have learnt more from Burke alone than from all other men and authors."
He remained in the Commons till his death, in 1806; and though hampered
by aristocratic connections and the leadership of his party, his
generous nature and warm heart, through nearly forty years of
Parliamentary life carried his great talents to the liberal side. He
headed the forlorn hope of English freedom during the panic immediately
following the French revolution, and in the darkest and stormiest nights
of that gloomy period, his voice sounded clear and firm above the
tempest, hurling defiance at his foes, and bidding the few friends of
man and constitutional liberty who stood around him to be of good cheer,
for the day of their redemption was drawing on. His speech against the
stamp act, the taxation of the colonies, the American war, the test act,
the suspension of the _habeas corpus_, the treason and sedition bills,
the slave trade; and in favor of Parliamentary reform, religious
toleration, Catholic emancipation, the rights of juries, and of peace,
contain volumes of liberal principles which endear his name to the
friends of humanity in both hemispheres. As Erskine was the first
advocate that ever stood at the English bar, so Fox was the first
debater that ever appeared in its Commons. Burke wrote of him, after
their separation: "I knew him when he was nineteen; since which, he has
risen to be the most brilliant and accomplished debater the world ever
saw." His argumentative powers were of the highest order, and his wit,
his invective, and his appeals to the judgment and feelings unrivaled.
In the partisan warfare of extemporaneous debate, he bore down on his
antagonists with an energy which, when fully roused, bordered on
ferocity. But it was the ferocity of impassioned logic and intense
reasoning. Not content with once going over the ground in controversy,
he traveled it again and again, unfolding new arguments and adding
additional facts, till his searching and vigorous eloquence had
discovered and demolished every objection that lay in his track. The
very embodiment of the reasoning element in man, he saw through his
subject with rapid glances, grappled sturdily with all its strong
points, despised mere ornaments, rejected all bewildering flights of the
imagination, and shunned excursions into collateral fields which skirted
his line of argument. In these latter respects he was totally unlike his
great master. As his reasoning powers were cast in the most colossal
mold, so his heart was of the finest and noblest quality. Mackintosh has
justly said, that "he united in a most remarkable degree the seemingly
repugnant characters of the mildest of men and the most vehement of
orators." His appeals to magnanimity, to generosity, to integrity, to
justice, to mercy, thrilled the soul of Freedom, while the tide of
consuming lava which he poured on hypocrisy, meanness, dissimulation,
cruelty, and oppression, made the grovelers at the footstool of power
hide with fear and shame. He was a statesman of the broadest and most
liberal views. His capacious mind was stored with political knowledge;
he had deeply studied the institutions of ancient and modern States; and
no man better understood the general and constitutional history of his
own country, nor the delicate machinery which regulated its complicated
foreign and domestic affairs. As bold as a lion, he never cowered before
the King, his ministers, or his minions; but gloried in being the
mouthpiece of out-door Reformers, whose radical principles and humble
connections prevented their admission within the Parliamentary walls. He
repeated the coarse opinions of Cartwright and his companions, in a
place whose doors they were forbidden to darken, but in language worthy
of the classic scion of Holland House. He was of invaluable service to
the radical party, in gaining them favor with the aristocratic and
learned Whigs, because he could throw over their principles the shield
of argument, adorn them with the grace of scholarship, and dignify them
with the luster of birth and station. In this regard his conduct might
be profitably studied by his professed admirers on this side of the

Mr. Fox was totally unlike his great rival. Pitt was stately, taciturn,
and of an austere temper. Fox was easy, social, and of a kindly
disposition. Pitt was tall and grave, and, entering the House carefully
dressed, walked proudly to the head of the Treasury bench, and took his
seat as dignified and dumb as a statue. Fox was burly and jovial,
entered the House in a slouched hat and with a careless air, and, as he
approached the Opposition benches, had a nod for this learned city
member, and a joke for that wealthy knight of the shire, and sat down,
as much at ease as if he were lounging in the back parlor of a country
inn. Pitt, as the adage runs, could "speak a King's speech off-hand," so
consecutive were his sentences; and his round, smooth periods delighted
the aristocracy of all parties. Fox made the Lords of the Treasury quail
as he declaimed in piercing tones against ministerial corruption, while
his friends shouted "hear! hear!" and applauded till the House shook.
Pitt's sentences were pompous and sonorous, and often "their sound
revealed their own hollowness." Fox uttered sturdy Anglo-Saxon sense;
every word pregnant with meaning. Pitt was a thorough business man, and
relied for success in debate upon careful preparation. Fox despised the
drudgery of the office, and relied upon his intuitive perceptions and
his robust strength. Pitt was the greater Secretary--Fox the greater
Commoner. Pitt's oratory was like the frozen stalactites and pyramids
which glitter around Niagara in mid-winter, stately, clear, and cold.
Fox's like the vehement waters which sweep over its brink, and roar and
boil in the abyss below. Pitt, in his great efforts, only erected
himself the more proudly, and uttered more full Johnsonian sentences,
sprinkling his dignified but monotonous "state-paper style" with pungent
sarcasms, speaking as one having authority, and commanding that it might
stand fast. Fox on such occasions reasoned from first principles,
denouncing where he could not persuade, and reeling under his great
thoughts, until his excited feelings rocked him, like the ocean in a
storm. Pitt displayed the most rhetoric, and his mellow voice charmed,
like the notes of an organ. Fox displayed the most argument, and his
shrill tones pierced like arrows. Pitt had an icy taste; Fox a fiery
logic. Pitt had art; Fox nature. Pitt was dignified, cool, cautious; Fox
manly, generous, brave. Pitt had a mind; Fox a soul. Pitt was a majestic
automaton; Fox a living man. Pitt was the Minister of the King; Fox the
Champion of the People. Both were the early advocates of Parliamentary
reform; but Pitt retreated, while Fox advanced; and both joined in
denouncing and abolishing the horrors of the middle passage. Both died
the same year, and they sleep side by side in Westminster Abbey, their
dust mingling with that of their mutual friend Wilberforce; while over
their tombs watches with eagle eye and extended arm the molded form of


     The French Revolution--The Continental Policy of Mr. Pitt--The
     Policy of Mr. Fox and his Followers--The Continental Wars--Mr.
     Sheridan--Mr. Burke--Mr. Perceval.

In determining whether the policy which Pitt and his successors pursued
towards France, from 1792 to 1815, was wise for England and beneficial
to Europe, an American republican will remember that it was sustained by
the party which ever resisted all social and political improvement among
the people--that the enemies of change warred on the Directory, the
Consulate, the Empire--that the patrons of existing abuses restored the
Bourbons. Nor will he forget that this policy was steadily opposed by
the friends of enlightened progress and useful reform--the champions of
civil and religious freedom. The specious reasoning and showy
declamations of a score of Alisons will never destroy these facts.

France, equally with Great Britain, had the right to enjoy the
Government of its choice. But the latter, early in 1793, declined to
negotiate or correspond with the former, because it was a republic; and
refusing to receive the credentials of its minister, ordered him to quit
the kingdom. France, sustained by the law of nations, declared war
against the Power which had insulted her. Pitt asserted that the French
revolution had no sufficient cause in the nature of the Government or
the condition of the people, and was the offspring of a reckless spirit
of innovation. He avowed his determination to put down the republic,
restore the monarchy, and maintain the cause of legitimacy in Europe.
This avowal was met by the declaration of the liberal party, that the
true cause of the revolution was the undue restriction and limitation of
the rights and privileges of the people; and that, however it might be
perverted, its real object was to wrest from the Government what had
been unjustly withheld from its subjects. They demanded, therefore, that
the diplomatic representative of France should be received by the
ministry; and they resisted all interference with its internal affairs,
all attempts to suppress liberal movements in Europe, all efforts to
uphold its crumbling thrones. They plead for peace and an armed
neutrality. And, after Napoleon's schemes of conquest were disclosed,
they contended that England ought not to unite in a coalition for his
overthrow, so long as it was a battle among kings, but should wait till
_the people_ of the continent requested assistance; and even then, that
it ought not to be given till the rulers of the endangered States were
pledged to grant reasonable privileges to their subjects. On this
elevated ground did the liberal party take its stand. But Pitt,
representing only the monarchical and privileged orders, at the outset
of the conflict pledged the power and resources of England to the
accomplishment of his ends; and his policy was steadily followed, with
ruinous and mortifying results, until the European combination of
1814-15 finally crushed Napoleon at Waterloo, and restored the Bourbon
to his throne.

And what did England gain by her armies and fleets, her intrigues in
foreign cabinets and subsidies of men and money? True, Napoleon was
prostrated, But she had spent £600 000,000 in doing it. At the
commencement of the war, her debt was less than £240,000,000. At its
close, it had swelled to more than £840,000,000! Centuries of taxation
to restore the Bourbons to a throne which they cannot retain, and to
postpone for fifty years the general overthrow of monarchy in Europe!
The seventh descending son of the youngest Englishman alive will curse
the day that Pitt entered on this crusade against Destiny. When the
unnatural fever of the contest abated, the reaction, the retribution,
came. Peace had returned, but she was not accompanied by her
twin-sister, Plenty. English trade, commerce, manufactures, agriculture,
languished--laborers wandered through the provinces in search of
employment--the country sunk exhausted into the arms of bankruptcy. The
smoke of battle no longer blinding the eye, the people began to look
about and inquire, "What have we gained by all this outgush of blood and
treasure?" The wealthy saw before them ages of remorseless taxation--the
poor clamored in the streets for bread--all but the extreme privileged
classes regarded the result of the war as a triumph over themselves. At
peace with all the world, (almost the first time for three-fourths of a
century), the nation was the scene of internal discords more threatening
than foreign levy. Nothing but general lassitude, and the pressure of
misfortunes common to all, prevented a revolution.

This contest was injurious to England in another way. It so _possessed_
the public mind that there was little room left for domestic
improvement. Meanwhile, the cause of reform was turned out of doors. The
French Revolution was a God-send to Pitt and the Tories. Seizing upon
its early excesses, they conjured with them thirty years, frightening
the middling men from their propriety, and terrifying even the giant
soul of Burke. The "horrors of the French revolution" were thrown in the
face of every man who demanded reform. The clamors of the tired and
fleeced suitors in Lord Eldon's court were silenced by "the horrors of
the French revolution." Old Sarum and Grampound lengthened out their
"rotten" existence by supping on "the horrors of the French revolution."
Point to the festering corruption of the Church Establishment, and it
lifted up its holy hands at "the horrors of the French revolution." The
Catholics were persecuted, the Irish gibbeted, and printers transported,
to atone for "the horrors of the French revolution." The poor starved
in damp cellars, whilst the landlord fattened his protected soil with
"the horrors of the French revolution." In a word, these "horrors"
constituted the chief staple of Tory argument and declamation, and were
a conclusive answer to all who asked for cheap bread, religious
toleration, law reform, reduced taxes, and an enlarged suffrage.

The lessons of wisdom, so dearly purchased by this scheme of Continental
interference, have not been thrown away on a nation which spent so much
to gain so little. The second French revolution was followed by England
granting Parliamentary Reform, to prevent a revolution at home. The
third revolution, which prostrated a monarchy, and reared a republic in
a day, was promptly recognized and respected by England, whose Premier
declared that she heartily accorded to the people of France the right to
ordain for themselves such a system of Government as they might choose!
Men may prate eternally about the virtues of Louis XVI, the grasping
ambition of Napoleon, the far-seeing sagacity of Burke, and the wisdom
and firmness of Pitt, and it will still remain true, that the principles
thrown up with the fire and blood of the great French eruption will yet
work out the regeneration of Europe.

MR. SHERIDAN was as steady a supporter of freedom, and as inflexible an
opponent of Pitt, as a man of so volatile a temperament could well be.
This gentleman is best known on our side of the Atlantic as the author
of the comedy the "School for Scandal," and of a speech on the trial of
Warren Hastings. The comedy still holds a deservedly high place on the
stage. The speech, which once claimed a position at the head of English
forensic oratory, is no doubt much overrated. The intense interest
pervading the public mind in respect to the impeachment of the conqueror
and ruler of a hundred millions of the people of India--the august
character of the tribunal, the peers and judges of the realm--the
imposing talents of the committee by whom the Commons sent up the
articles of impeachment, consisting of Burke, Fox, North, Grey, Wyndham,
Sheridan, with other lights worthy to shine in such a constellation--the
romantic branch of Hastings's administration, the opening of which was
assigned to Sheridan--the gorgeous colors which he spread upon the
oriental canvas--the theatrical style in which he pronounced his oration
before a learned, fashionable, and sympathizing audience, all conspired
to give to his effort a temporary fame alike extraordinary and undeserved.
Nor was the immediate effect of his two days' coruscation diminished by
the tragical manner in which he contrived, at its close, to sink backward
into the arms of Burke, who, transported beyond measure, hugged him as
unaffectedly as if his generous and unsuspecting nature had not been duped
by a mere stage trick.

But though he occasionally used the clap-traps of the theater, Sheridan
was a debater to be shunned rather than encountered. Pitt dreaded him.
Lying in wait till the Minister had addressed the House, the Drury Lane
manager used to let fly at him such a cloud of stinging arrows, pointed
with sarcasm and poisoned with invective, that the stately Premier could
not conceal his mortification, nor hardly retain his seat till the storm
had passed away. No Parliamentarian ever inspired so much dread in his
opponents, and won so much applause from his friends, with so scanty a
stock of statesmanlike acquirements. His political knowledge was
gathered from the columns of the current newspapers and the discussions
in the club-rooms, and his literary stores were made up from the modern
poetry and drama of England. True, he was educated at Harrow, but he
threw aside Demosthenes and Cicero for Congreve and Vanburgh, and wrote
comedies when he should have studied mathematics. He never claimed to be
a statesman, and only aspired to be an orator. To shine as a dazzling
declaimer, he bent all the powers of his intense and elastic mind. He
attended debating clubs, and caught up the best sayings--practiced
attitudes and tones in the green-room--set down every keen thought which
occurred to him in a note-book--conned his lesson--then entered the
House, and rushing into the arena of debate with the bound and air of a
gladiator, won the reputation of being the readiest wit, the most
skillful off-hand disputant, and the most gorgeous orator of the day.
And it was the day of Burke, Pitt, Fox, Erskine, Grattan, and Wyndham!
Lord Chesterfield was not so very wrong when he told his son that, even
in Parliament, more depended upon the manner of saying a thing, than
upon the matter of which it was composed. Though his taste was formed on
the flashy model of the modern drama, and in the composition of his
numerous tropes and metaphors he did not always distinguish between
tinsel and gold, between painted glass and pure diamonds, yet he
generally succeeded in doing what he intended--producing a tremendous
sensation. His rockets set the hemisphere in a blaze; nor was he always
careful on whose head the sticks fell; for he spared neither friends nor
foes, if he must thereby lose a good hit.

Though Sheridan regarded the color of the husk more than the character
of the kernel, he uttered much that will perish only with the English
tongue. In an attack on Ministers, who were attempting to carry a bill
against the freedom of the press, he exclaimed, "Give them a corrupt
House of Lords; give them a venal House of Commons; give them a
tyrannical Prince; give them a truckling Court--and let me but have an
unfettered press, and I will defy them to encroach a hair's breadth upon
the liberties of England"--a passage worthy of Chatham. During the
treason trials, in 1794, he poured a torrent of ridicule upon the
proceedings, which did not a little toward restoring a panic-stricken
public to its senses. An extract will give an idea of his sarcasm. In
replying to Pitt, he said, "I own there was something in the case; quite
enough to disturb the virtuous sensibilities and loyal terrors of the
right honorable gentleman. But, so hardened is this side of the House,
that our fears did not much disturb us. On the first trial, one pike was
produced. This was, however, withdrawn. Then a terrific instrument was
talked of, for the annihilation of his Majesty's cavalry, which, upon
evidence, appeared to be a _te-totum_ in a window at Sheffield. But I
had forgot--there was also a camp in a back shop; an arsenal provided
with nine muskets; and an exchequer, containing exactly the same number
of pounds--no, let me be accurate, it was nine pounds and one bad
shilling. * * * * The alarm had been brought in with great pomp and
circumstance on a Saturday morning. At night, the Duke of Richmond
stationed himself, among other curiosities, at the Tower, and a great
municipal officer, the Lord Mayor, made an appalling discovery in the
East. He found out that there was in Cornhill a debating society, where
people went to buy treason at sixpence a head; where it was retailed to
them by inch of candle; and five minutes, measured by the glass, were
allowed to each traitor, to perform his part in overturning the State.
In Edinburgh an insurrection was planned; the soldiers were to be
corrupted: and this turned out to be--by giving each man sixpence for
porter. Now, what the scarcity of money and rations may be in that part
of the country, I cannot tell; but it does strike me that the system of
corruption has not been carried to any great extent. Then, too, numbers
were kept in pay; they were drilled in a dark room, by a sergeant in a
brown coat; and on a given signal they were to sally from a back
kitchen, and overturn the Constitution."

Though this celebrated orator was wayward in his pursuits, and
habitually intemperate, yet, from the time he entered Parliament in 1780
till his sun began to decline, he ever sustained the liberal cause, and
his rare talents bore with striking effect against the Continental
policy of Pitt, and in favor of Irish Regeneration, Parliamentary
Reform, the freedom of the press, and the rights of the people.

I have spoken of EDMUND BURKE, than whom, no man could afford a stronger
contrast to Sheridan. He had an original, daring genius, but it was
sustained by a broad and comprehensive judgment. His imagination was as
gorgeous as ever plumed the wing of eloquence, but it was enriched and
invigorated by learning vast and varied. Until his mind became
engrossed, not to say _possessed_ with the subject which occupied the
latter years of his great life, (the French revolution,) he was the
advocate and ornament of progressive freedom. He first led and then
followed Fox in all the lines of policy which the liberal party pursued
from 1765 to 1790, when they separated, and Burke became not so much the
advocate of Pitt and his Tories, as the opponent of France and its
Republicans; choosing thereafter, as he expressed it, to be a Whig,
"without coining to himself Whig principles from a French die, unknown
to the impress of our fathers in the Constitution." He left Parliament
in 1794, and died in 1797. During the last six years of his life he
seemed almost diseased by the excesses of the French revolution; and
whatever subject he surveyed, on whatever ground he looked, he appeared
to see naught but the convulsions of that tragedy. The vivid impressions
which he received he transferred to publications which glowed with his
fervid soul, and produced a prodigious sensation amongst the higher
orders of his countrymen. But take him all in all, his was the most
magnificent mind of modern England. If called to designate the most
remarkable name which adorns its later annals, to whose would we so
unhesitatingly point as to his? Is he not entitled to a place among the
five most extraordinary men which that kingdom has produced--Bacon,
Shakspeare, Newton, Milton, Burke? He possessed the multifarious
learning of our Adams, the intellectual grasp of our Marshall, the
metaphysical subtlety of our Edwards, the logical energy of our Webster,
the soaring imagination of our Wirt, the fervid glow of our Clay; and he
was the equal of each in his most cultivated field. As a Parliamentary
leader, he was inferior to Fox and Pitt. His essay-like style was not
adapted to so popular a body as the House of Commons. His speeches wore
the air of the academy rather than the forum; and much of his discourse
was too elaborate, too learned, too philosophical, too ornate, to be
appreciated by the general run of commonplace sort of men that drift
into the halls of legislation. During the thirty years he participated
in affairs, there fell from his lips and pen an amount of political
sagacity, far-seeing statesmanship, philosophical disquisition, and
oratorical display, all set off and adorned by an amplitude of learning,
a majesty of diction, and a brilliancy of imagery, the fourth of which
would have carried their author's name to posterity as one of the
remarkable men of his time. He who thinks this eulogium extravagant has
only to find its confirmation in the mines of intellectual wealth which
lie embedded in the sixteen volumes of the works he has given to his
country and the world, to his cotemporaries and to posterity. True,
there will be found, mingled with these strata of pure gold, veins of
impracticability, sophistry, prejudice, extravagance, and violence. His
later writings, and in many respects his most grand and beautiful, are
disfigured by a morbid dread of change, and obscured by a gloomy
distrust of the capacities of man for self-government; proving, that
though gifted with genius beyond most mortals, he was not endowed with
the Divine spirit of prophecy. But it is equally true, that while the
English language is read, the speeches and writings of Edmund Burke will
be classed with the richest treasures of the statesman, the philosopher,
and the scholar.

Next to the curse of a military chieftain attempting to adapt the
tactics of the camp to the regulations of the cabinet, is the nuisance
of a narrow-minded lawyer carrying the prim rules of the bar into the
councils of the State, and aiming to be a statesman when he is only
capable of being a pettifogger. On the downfall of the Grenville-Fox
ministry, MR. PERCEVAL took the leading place in his Majesty's
Government. He was a lawyer with a keen intellect, and a soul shriveled
by the most limited views and bigoted prejudices. When ruling England,
he looked upon her position in reference to Continental affairs, and
the part she was to perform in the drama of nations, much as he was wont
to regard the ten-pound case of a plaintiff whose brief and retainer he
held. He argued the great questions which nightly agitated the House of
Commons, and whose decisions were to affect not only his own time, but
coming ages, like a mere lawyer struggling for a verdict. His weapon was
sharp, and he applied its edge in the same way, whether analyzing the
title of James Jackson to a ten-acre lot in Kent, or of Louis XVIII to
the throne of France. He discussed a financial scheme in Parliament to
raise twenty millions sterling to carry on the war, just as he argued
the consideration of a twenty-pound note before a jury of Yorkshire
plowmen. Yet he was a good tactician; saw a _point_ readily and clearly,
though he saw nothing but a point; knew how to touch the prejudices of
bigots; was great at beating his opponents on small divisions; rarely
lost his temper under the severest provocations; was quick at a turn and
keen at a retort; and spoke in a lively, colloquial, straight-forward
style, which pleased the fat country gentlemen much better than the
classical allusions and ornate periods of Mr. Canning. He kept on the
even tenor of his way till assassinated by a madman in the lobby of the
House, in 1812.

And this is the man who shaped the financial policy of England during
six of the most eventful years of her existence, and whom she permitted
to plunge her into debt to the amount of £150,000,000! "How could this
be?" The answer is plain. Mr. Perceval stood firmly by the King and the
Bishops, flattering the prejudices of the one and the bigotry of the
other; and never flinched from eulogizing royalty, when the rude hand of
popular clamor drew the vail from the immoralities of the Prince Regent
and his brother of York. Then he was a thorough business man; never
alarmed "Church and State" by wandering, like Canning and Peel, out of
the beaten Tory track; and, so far from giving up a bad cause in the
worst of times, he raised his voice the more sternly as the storm of
public discontent whistled louder, and cheered his flagging comrades to
their daily round of degrading toil. Such a minister was fit to be
beloved by a bigoted king and his profligate heir.


     Pitt's Continental Policy--Mr. Tierney--Mr. Whitbread--Lord
     Castlereagh--Lord Liverpool--Mr. Canning.

In examining a little further among the statesmen who opposed the
continental policy of Mr. Pitt and his successors--though by no means
intending to notice all who thus distinguished themselves--a less
notorious person than Mr. Sheridan attracts the eye; but one who, when
we regard the solid, every-day qualities of the mind, greatly surpassed
the showy blandishments of that celebrated orator. I allude to Mr.
Tierney. Like Mr. Perceval, he was bred to the bar; but unlike him, he
was not a mere lawyer, nor was his comprehension hemmed in by narrow
prejudices, nor his soul shriveled by bigotry. Though his reputation in
this country is dim when compared with other luminaries that shone in
that Whig constellation in the dawn of the present century, yet it would
be difficult to name one who shed a more steady and useful light along
the path of the liberal party, during the first ten years of that
century--always excepting Mr. Fox. Mr. Tierney was foremost among the
reformers in the perilous times of the treason trials, in 1794--was a
prominent member of the society of "Friends of the People"--penned the
admirable petition to Parliament, in which that association demonstrated
the necessity and safety of an enlarged suffrage, and an equal
representation--and, having attained a highly respectable standing at
the bar, entered Parliament in 1796, the year before Fox and the heads
of the Opposition unwisely abandoned their attendance upon the House,
because they despaired of arresting the course of Pitt. Mr. T. was at
once brought into a prominent position. He took up the gauntlet, and
during two or three sessions was the main leader of the remnant of the
Whigs, who stood to their posts; and he showed himself competent to fill
the occasion thus opened to him. Night after night he headed the
diminished band, arraying the rigid reasoning powers and tireless
business habits which he brought from the bar, against the haughty
eloquence of Pitt and the dry arguments of Dundas, blunting the cold
sarcasms of the former with his inimitable humor, and thrusting his keen
analytical weapon between the loose joints of the latter's logical
harness. He was solicitor general of Mr. Addington's mixed
administration; but the dissolution of that compound soon relieved him
from a cramped position, whence he gladly escaped to the broader field
of untrammeled opposition. Here he did manful service in the popular
cause, effectually blocking up all avenues to advancement, both in the
comparatively secluded walks of the profession which he ornamented, and
the more rugged and conspicuous paths of politics, which he delighted to
tread. During a part of the dark night of the Continental Coalition, he
guided the helm of his party with a skill and vigilance which its more
renowned chiefs might have profitably imitated. His ability to master
the details, as well as trace the outlines, of a complicated subject,
(so essential to success at the bar,) induced his colleagues to devolve
upon him the labor of exposing those exhausting schemes of finance by
which Pitt and his successors drained the life-blood of England's
prosperity, and swelled a debt which the sale of its every rood of soil
could hardly discharge. Thus he acquired a knowledge of trade and
finance, second only to that of the later Mr. Huskisson. It is meet that
the unassuming talents and services of such a man, "faithful among the
faithless," should not be overlooked when naming the modern reformers of

I have spoken of Mr. WHITBREAD. Some who have not looked into the
Parliamentary history of the times we are now glancing over, suppose him
to have been merely a great brewer, purchasing an obscure seat in the
House of Commons by his ill-gotten wealth, who held his tongue during
the session, and sold beer in vacation. But he possessed an intellect of
the most vigorous frame, which had been garnished by a complete
education, and liberalized by extensive foreign travel. He was the
companion and counselor of Fox, Erskine, Sheridan, Grey, Mackintosh,
Romilly, and Brougham--a frequent visitor at Holland House--a ready and
strong debater, always foremost in the conflicts of those violent
times--for a short period the trusted leader of his party in the
House--and in 1814, when the quarrel between the imprudent Caroline and
her lewd husband came to an open rupture, he was selected, with
Brougham, to be her confidential adviser and friend. Generous in the
diffusion of his vast wealth--gentle and kindly in his affections--the
warm friend of human freedom, and the sworn foe of oppression in all its
forms--he gave his entire powers to the cause of progress and reform,
and resisted, in all places, at all seasons, and when others quailed,
the foreign policy of Pitt, Perceval, and Castlereagh. The return of
Napoleon from Elba alarmed all classes of Englishmen, and for the moment
swept all parties from their moorings. An Address to the Throne for an
enlargement of the forces was immediately moved by Grenville in the
Lords, and Grattan in the Commons, (both Whigs,) and supported by a
large majority of the panic-struck Opposition. Whitbread stood firm;
and, though denounced as a traitor and a French Jacobin, made an able
speech in favor of his motion that England ought not to interfere for
the restoration of the Bourbons. Such a fact illustrates the inflexible
metal of the man, more than a column of panegyric. His political
principles approached the standard of democracy; and this, with his
plebeian extraction and rather blunt manners, gave him less favor with
some of the full-blooded patricians of his party than with their common
constituency. He died in 1815, and like Romilly and Castlereagh, fell by
his own hand.

Many worthy and not a few illustrious names might find a place here.
Grey, the dignified and uncompromising--Romilly, the sagacious and
humane--Mackintosh, the classical and ornate--Grattan, the chivalrous
and daring--Burdett, the manly and bold--Horner, the learned and
modest--Holland, the polished and generous--Brougham, the versatile and
strong--all of whom, with others scarcely less notable, sustained the
drooping cause of freedom against the policy of Pitt and his followers,
and kept alive the sacred fires, to break out brightly in happier times.
But, each may be noticed in other connections. We will now speak of
three statesmen of a different school.

LORD CASTLEREAGH was the life and soul of Pitt's continental policy
during the six years before Napoleon fell. Like Sheridan, he was an
Irishman. But, unlike him, he resisted every measure which promised to
bless his native country, with the skill of a magician and the venom of
a fiend. Ever ready to bribe, bully, or butcher, he plunged England
deeper and deeper into debt and into blood, and seemed to regret when
there was no more money to be squandered, and no more fighting to be
done. As the best atonement he could make for permitting her to come out
of the conflict with a free Government, and without being utterly
ruined, he went to the Congress of Vienna, and humbly begged leave to
lay her constitution and her honor at the feet of the allied despots
whom she had impoverished herself in sustaining against the arms of
France. It has been contended that Perceval was an honest bigot; at
least as honest as any man could be who performed so many bad deeds.
But, beyond all question, Castlereagh is one of the most atrocious and
despicable Englishmen of the nineteenth century. The name of no other
modern statesman is so cordially and so justly detested by the mass of
the people. With no more eloquence than a last year's almanac--utterly
incapable of cutting even a second-rate figure as a Parliamentary
debater--yet, because of his intimate acquaintance with the affairs of
that vast kingdom, his blunt sense, promptness in council, unflinching
courage, and his unfaltering attachment to the Throne, and his
unscrupulous execution of its decrees, he led the Tory party in the
Commons, and controlled the counsels of the King through eleven of the
most turbulent years in England's recent history. Though not the nominal
Premier, he was the real head of its ministry during the war with this
country, and in the times which preceded and followed the overthrow of
Bonaparte, and bore a leading share in the subsequent despotic
transactions which assumed the soft name of "the pacification of
Europe." At the Congress of Vienna he represented the Power which had
staked all, and nearly lost all, in restoring the Bourbons. This gave
him the right to demand, in her name, that the victories she had bought
or won should redound to the advancement of constitutional liberty. But
this cringing tool of anointed tyranny, so far from bearing himself in a
manner worthy of his great constituency, succumbed to the dictation of
Russia and Austria--aided them in forming the diabolical Holy Alliance,
that politico-military Inquisition for "the settlement of Europe"--and,
decked out in his blazing star and azure ribbon, seemed to take as
vulgar a satisfaction in being permitted to sit at the council-board of
these monarchs, as did Mr. Tittlebat Titmouse, when admitted to the
table of the Earl of Dreddlington. His subsequent course in endorsing
the military _surveillance_ which this Holy Inquisition exercised over
the people of Europe, encountered the tireless hostility of the liberal
party of England, whose leaders made the island ring with their
protests. At length, this bold, bad man, this "_ice-hearted dog_," as
Ebenezer Elliott called him, having opposed the abolition of the slave
trade, the amelioration of the criminal code, the modification of the
corn laws, Catholic emancipation, Parliamentary reform, and every other
social and political improvement, during twenty-five years, suddenly
finished a career which had been marked at every step by infamous deeds.
Immediately thereupon, Mr. Canning, who succeeded to his place as
Foreign Secretary, filed his protest against certain proceedings of the
Holy Alliance, and England withdrew from that conspiracy of royal

Throughout the period just mentioned, LORD LIVERPOOL was the nominal
head of the Ministry. He was a very respectable nobleman, with a large
purse and few talents; an easy, good-for-nothing, James-Monroe sort of a
body, whom every Whig and Tory made a low bow to, but whom nobody feared
or cared for; a pilot that could steer the ship of state tolerably well
in quiet waters, but who quit the helm for the cabin the instant the sky
was overcast, or the waves raged. He was in office so long that he
became a sort of ministerial fixture--a kind of nucleus around which
more ambitious, showy, and potent materials gathered. People had become
so accustomed to see him at the head of affairs, where he did so little
as to offend no one, that they looked upon him as almost as necessary to
the working of the governmental machine as the King himself. This
commonplace man, under the successive names of Mr. Jenkinson, Lord
Hawkesbury, and Lord Liverpool, held important stations in the Cabinet
more than thirty years, nearly half of which he was Premier.

As has been remarked, MR. CANNING succeeded Lord Castlereagh as Foreign
Secretary in 1823, and Lord Liverpool as Premier in 1827. Like
Castlereagh, Canning was of Irish descent; but, unlike him, he had some
Irish blood in his veins. Like him, he sustained the continental policy
of Pitt; but, unlike him, he did not desire to degrade England, after
she had destroyed Napoleon. Like him, he exercised great sway in the
councils of the country; but, unlike him, it was not so much the
influence of mere official station, as the voluntary tribute paid to a
splendid and captivating genius. For thirty-five years, this remarkable
man participated in public affairs; and whatever opinion may be formed
of his statesmenship, he was undoubtedly the most brilliant orator (I
use the term in its best and in its restricted sense) which has appeared
in the House of Commons the present century.

Canning's father was a broken-down Irish barrister, who, having little
knowledge of law, and less practice, quit Ireland for London, where he
eked out a scanty existence by writing bad rhymes for the magazines, and
tolerable pamphlets for the politicians. He died the day George was a
year old--April 11, 1771. The mother, left penniless, listened to the
flatteries of Garrick, went upon the stage, tried to sustain first-rate
characters, failed, sunk silently into a secondary position, married a
drunken actor, who then had two or three wives, and who, after strolling
about the provinces a few years, died in a mad-house, when she married a
stage-smitten silk mercer, who had a little more money than her late
husband, and a rather better character. Failing in business soon after,
he tried the stage in company with his wife, where he speedily broke
down, and she continued for some years to figure in third-rate
characters at the minor theaters. In such company as would naturally
surround such guardians, the future Prime Minister of England spent the
first nine or ten years of his life. He had a respectable paternal uncle
in London--a merchant of some wealth. An old actor, by the name of
Moody, detected the glittering gem of genius in the unpromising lad,
went to this uncle, and urged him to take his nephew (whom he had never
seen) under his care. He complied, sent him to a grammar school, then to
Eton, and, dying, left the means of educating his ward at Oxford. Young
Canning shone conspicuously at the University, as a wit, an
elocutionist, and a poet, and contracted some aristocratic friendships
which served his turn in subsequent life, especially that with Mr.
Jenkinson, afterwards Lord Liverpool.

After he left the University, he became intimate with Sheridan, who knew
something of his mother and his own history, and by him was introduced
to Fox and other leading Whigs. Though impregnated with liberal
principles, his ambitious eye saw that Whigism was an obscured luminary,
and so he turned and worshiped the ascendant star of Pitt. Entering
Parliament in 1793, just at the bursting of the continental storm, he at
once took his seat on the Treasury benches, and soon became a polished
shaft in the quiver of the great anti-Gallican archer. In or out of
office, he followed the fortunes of Pitt and his successors, till he
quarreled and fought a duel with Castlereagh, in 1809, when they both
left the Cabinet, and Canning remained under a cloud till 1814, when he
was banished as minister to the Court of Lisbon. From this time, he
never had the full confidence of the old school Tories, though he was
their most brilliant advocate in Parliament, and generally shared office
with them, and sustained their measures. After Castlereagh died, Mr.
Canning drew closely around him the more liberal Tories--such as Lords
Melbourne, Palmerston, Glenelg--and made up, in conjunction with Mr.
Huskisson, a "third party," called "Canningites," who, through the
auspices of Brougham, in 1827, formed a _quasi_ coalition with the
Whigs. After the death of their chief, many of his followers went
completely over to the Whigs, aided Earl Grey in carrying the reform
bill, took office under him, and subsequently, in an evil hour, became
the leaders of that party.

With the exception of giving a hearty support to the abolition of the
slave trade, and advocating the cause of Catholic emancipation, Mr.
Canning sustained the worst Tory measures from his entrance into
Parliament to the death of Castlereagh--a period of thirty
years--bringing to bear against the People's cause all the resources of
his classical learning, vivid wit, vigorous reasoning, captivating
manners, and unrivaled oratory. Undoubtedly, he despised the truckling
course of Castlereagh towards the Holy Alliance; and, either because he
wished to escape from "a false position," or because his colleagues
desired to cripple his influence, he was just about to go out to India
as Governor General, when the suicide of Castlereagh altered his
destination, and he exchanged a subordinate foreign station for the
chief control of that department of affairs. Immediately, England took a
nobler position toward the continental alliance in which she had been
entangled by his wily predecessor. The new Secretary protested against
the interference of the Allied Sovereigns with the popular movements in
Spain, and early the next year (1824) stated in his place that Ministers
had refused to become parties to another Congress. This was the longest
stride toward progress for thirty years, and well might the House of
Commons ring with enthusiastic plaudits. This was promptly followed by
the virtual recognition of the independence of the new South American
Republics--another blow at the Holy Military Inquisition. Calling Mr.
Robinson to his aid as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Mr. Huskisson as
President of the Board of Trade, the reörganized ministry (good, easy
Lord Liverpool being its nominal head) adopted a more liberal policy in
commerce and finance, which, coupled with its course in foreign affairs,
drew to it a large share of confidence in the middle classes, and
softened the asperities of the Opposition. During the four years that
Canning controlled Liverpool's ministry, taxes were reduced, several
restrictions removed from trade, the endless delays in chancery inquired
into, the death penalty curtailed, resolutions passed looking toward
slave emancipation, the corn laws slightly modified, and a bill for the
relief of the Catholics was carried in the Commons, but thrown out by
the Lords. Liverpool died early in 1827. After a quarrel with Wellington
and Peel, Canning, in May of that year, reached the culminating point of
his ambition, the Premiership of England. But, at the end of four months
of vexed and troublesome rule, he died, much lamented by the people, who
were expecting good things from his administration.

Viewed from one point of observation, Mr. Canning's later policy was
favorable to the cause of reform; but, in another aspect, it may be
doubted whether his half-way measures were not, in the long run,
detrimental to that cause. He was raised up to save the Tory party, if
they would have consented to be saved by him; for, had he lived, he
would have continued gradually to yield to the advancing spirit of the
age, and kept them in power many years. But their distrust of him after
the peace of 1815 crippled his genius, mortified his pride, and
determined him in due time to rend the party which would not permit him
to rule. Through the aid of his personal adherents, his "third party,"
he did for the Tories in 1826-7, what Peel did for them twenty years
later--yielded to liberal opinions--split the party in twain--and formed
a _quasi_ coalition with his ancient opponents. Though by this means
some measures, such as Catholic emancipation and Parliamentary reform,
were sooner carried (though only to a partial extent) than they
otherwise might have been, yet it is hardly to be doubted that the
liberal cause is now more depressed than it would have been, had no such
coalition been formed and no such resulting concessions made. Though the
secession of the Canningites weakened the Tories, the accession diluted
the Whigs. It ultimately gave them such leaders as Melbourne and
Palmerston--men who, down to 1828, had been among the most strenuous
opponents of reform--men who have made Whigism popular at Court, by
arraying it in purple and fine linen, and other soft clothing--who have
stripped it of its rugged aspect, and decked it in the high-bred airs
which it wore in the days of the elder Georges and the Walpoles, when a
few noble families controlled its affairs. But, on the other hand, Mr.
Canning broke the power of old-fashioned John Bull Toryism--the
remorseless, insolent, _statu-quo_ Toryism of French revolutionary
times--and introduced the more complying, civil, progressive Toryism,
which emancipates Catholics and repeals corn laws.

Mr. Canning was like Mr. Fox in one respect. Each introduced a new era
in his party. The aristocratic Whigism of the last century, to which I
have alluded, is graphically hit off by Brougham, when he says the heads
of the few great families who controlled the party "never could be made
to understand how a feeble motion, prefaced by a feeble speech, if made
by an elderly lord and seconded by a younger one, could fail to satisfy
the country and shake the Ministry!" Fox, the Jefferson of English
liberalism, opened the door for men without ancestry or wealth to enter
the party, and find the place to which their talents assigned them,
whether at its head or its foot. He introduced the Whigism of the type
of Grey, Brougham, Romilly, Russell, and the Edinburgh Review. It has
served its day and generation, and has become so like modified,
_Canningized_ Toryism, that the chief distinction between them is in the
different modes of spelling their names. Within the last twenty years,
the people of England have advanced a century, while the Whig leaders
have not kept pace even with the calendar. English liberalism looks with
longing eye for "the coming man;" and when he appears, he will be as far
in advance of the Palmerstons and Russells of to-day, as they are before
the Pitts and the Percevals of past times.

To return to Mr. Canning. During the last five years of his life, he
occupied a sort of middle-ground between the ancient and the modern
_regime_; or, rather, was the connecting-link between the old and the
new order of things. Having served under Pitt in his youth, he formed an
alliance with the disciples of Fox in his maturity. Having advocated the
complete destruction of the Irish Parliament in 1799 and 1800, he
proposed a qualified emancipation of its Catholics in 1823 and 1827.
Having sustained the European coalition for the overthrow of Napoleon,
he repudiated its legitimate offspring, the Holy Alliance. Having
drained England of her wealth to nourish and maintain absolutism on the
continent, he shrunk from permitting her to pluck the fruit of her own
culture. In these latter years, he might have been properly called
either a liberal Tory or a Conservative Whig. He was the friend of
Catholic emancipation; but though public sentiment was not ripe enough
during his administration to accomplish this reform, his efforts tended
to bring it to that maturity which, soon after his death, enabled this
proscribed sect to gather the fruit from that tree of religious
toleration which his hand had aided to plant in the breast of English
Protestantism. But, on the vital subject of Parliamentary reform, he
would yield nothing. It was in reference to this that he had his famous
quarrel with Brougham, who, by the bye, was for many years the pitted
antagonist of Canning. The point in controversy was the disfranchisement
of a rotten borough, which had been convicted of bribery. Both girded
themselves for the contest. Never was the rugged intensity of the one,
nor the polished strength of the other, more conspicuous than on that
occasion. Brougham's attack was compared to the concave _speculum_, in
which every ray was concentrated with focal intensity, and poured in a
burning stream upon his shrinking victim. Canning's, to the convex
mirror, which scattered the rays, and showered them down upon his foe
with blinding fervor.

Turning from the statesman to the orator, we find him occupying a place
equaled by few of his cotemporaries; surpassed by none. He was the
Cicero of the British Senate; and, using the term _oratory_ in its
precise sense, he shines unrivaled among the English statesmen of our
day. He is an admirable refutation of the somewhat popular error, that a
_reasoner_ must necessarily be as dull and uninteresting as the Rev. Dr.
Dryasdust--that wit, raillery, vivid illustration, and suggestive
allusions, are incompatible with sound argument--that to be convincing,
one must be stupid--that logic consists in a lifeless skeleton of
consecutive syllogisms, divested of the flesh, blood, and marrow of
eloquence--and that the profundity of a speech is to be measured by the
depth of the slumbers into which it precipitates the auditory. It is
thus that many a man has gained the reputation of being a great
reasoner, when he was only a great bore; or been accounted wiser than
his more vivacious associates, because he wore a stolid visage and held
his tongue--completely putting to rout the venerable maxim of "nothing
venture, nothing have."

Though few public speakers of his time dealt more with the lighter
graces of oratory--wit, fancy, epigram, anecdote, historical
illustration, and classical allusion--so, few excelled him in the
clearness of his statements, the solidity of his arguments, and the
skill with which he brought all his resources to bear upon the point to
be reached, and the power with which he pressed it home to the
conviction of his hearers. A burst of laughter from all sides, excited
by his infectious wit, or a round of applause from his friends when some
galling sarcasm pierced the mailed harness of the Opposition, relieved
the tedium of a currency debate, intolerably dull in most hands, but
which he, by mingling figures of speech with the figures of the budget,
always made interesting, and thus kept his party in good humor while he
drove these wearisome topics through the thick skulls of knights of the
shire and country squires, of which material the Tories were largely
made up. Throwing around the path where he led his auditors a profusion
of flowers, gathered in all climes and refreshing to all tastes, he was
ever carrying forward the heavy chain of argument, delighting while he
convinced, and amusing that he might convert.

But these rare qualities produced their drawbacks. So skillful a master
of so bewitching an art could not be sparing in the exhibition of his
peculiar powers. His pleasantry and by-play, when handling momentous
questions, offended graver men, who could not believe that so much
levity was consistent with sincerity. He excited the jealousy of plainer
understandings, who saw things as clearly as he, but could not set them
in so transparent a light. His coruscations were not only glittering,
but they often dazzled and confounded less ornate minds. His sarcasms
stung his enemies to madness; and, not content merely to drive his
opponents to the wall, he hurled them there with such force, that they
rebounded into the arena, to become in turn the assailants; and his
friends found that a brilliant attack led on by him often resulted in a
counter assault, which summoned to the rescue all the forces of his
party. And more than this, his port and bearing left the impression upon
most minds that a consummate artist was acting a part, and not a sincere
man speaking from the heart. His obscure origin, (obscure for one who
aspired to be a Tory Premier,) and his early coquetry with the Whigs,
affixed to him the epithet of "an adventurer;" and he never shook off
the epithet, nor effaced the impression that it was fitly bestowed. The
people of England, whether he was Treasurer of the Navy, Foreign
Secretary, Prime Minister, or Parliamentary orator, never wholly escaped
from the suspicion that the son was following the profession of the
mother, but had chosen the chapel of St. Stephen's rather than the
theater of Drury Lane, for the display of his genius.

Turning from the orator to the man, we find much to delight the eye.
George Canning never forgot the humble mother that bore him. So soon as
his resources would permit, he made ample provision for her support; and
for years after he entered Parliament, and even when a foreign
ambassador, he wrote her a weekly epistle, breathing the kindliest
affection. Though he could never elevate her tastes and associations
above the connections of her youth, he used to throw aside the cares of
office, that he might visit her, and the humble cousins with whom she
dwelt, at Bath; and there, when in the zenith of his fame, would walk
out with his plebeian relatives, and receive the homage of the lordly
visitants at that fashionable resort, in their company. This marks him a
noble man. He delighted in literary pursuits--would drop the pen when
preparing a diplomatic dispatch, to talk over the classics with his
university acquaintances--was a brilliant essayist, and wrote Latin and
English verses with grace and beauty.


     Abolition of the African Slave Trade--Granville

In tracing the foreign policy of Pitt, we have been led beyond the
period of the great philanthropic achievement of 1806-7--the Abolition
of the African Slave Trade. I shall not trace the origin and growth of
this traffic, nor describe its horrors, nor detail the measures, in and
out of Parliament, which led to its legal prohibition. They are familiar
to those who will be likely to read this chapter.

THOMAS CLARKSON was the father of the movement for the abolition of the
slave trade, and, consequently, for the destruction of negro slavery
itself, of which it is but an incident. The circumstances which turned
his attention to it are novel. In 1785, he was a senior bachelor of arts
of St. John's College, Cambridge. The vice chancellor, impressed with
the iniquity of the slave trade, announced to the seniors as a subject
for a Latin dissertation, (I translate it,) "Is it right to make slaves
of others against their will?" He little thought of the far-reaching
consequences of this proposal. Young Clarkson, having secured the Latin
prize the previous year, was anxious to obtain it again. He went to
London, and procured all the books relating to the subject he could
find. His sensitive mind was shocked beyond measure at the horrors of
"the middle passage," which they disclosed. Sleep often left his pillow,
while digesting the materials for his essay; and during its preparation
he resolved to devote his life to the destruction of so appalling an
evil. Noble resolution! Little did the young philanthropist then imagine
that he should live, not only to see this trade abolished by Great
Britain, and declared piracy by all Christian Powers, but to witness the
abolition of slavery itself in those islands of the West, around which
his warm sympathies clustered; that he should see the humanity of the
world roused in arms to put down the crime of chattelizing mankind; and
should himself, after a lapse of fifty-five years, preside, "the
observed of all observers," in the metropolis of England, at a large
Convention assembled from the four quarters of the globe, to devise
means to achieve a final victory in this war upon the "wild and guilty
phantasy, that man can hold property in man." But, I anticipate.
Clarkson finished his essay, won the prize, and, true to his vow,
commenced, friendless and without resources, the work of abolition. He
translated and enlarged his essay, and committing it to press, started
on a pilgrimage through the kingdom, in search of facts to illustrate
the character of the traffic, and friends to aid him in its destruction.
A singular instance of his patient zeal may be stated. He was anxious to
ascertain whether slaves were _kidnapped_ by the traders in the interior
of Africa. He was told by a gentleman, that about a year before, he had
conversed with a common sailor, who had made several excursions up the
African rivers, in pursuit of slaves, and presumed he could inform him
on this subject. He knew not the sailor's name, nor his residence, nor
where he sailed from, and could only say, that when he saw him he
belonged on board some man-of-war in ordinary. Clarkson started on the
forlorn hope of finding this sailor. He successively visited Deptford,
Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, and Plymouth--boarding, during
the tour, which occupied several weeks, 317 ships, and examining several
thousand persons. I give the result in his own words: "At length, I
arrived at the place of my last hope, (Plymouth.) On my first day's
expedition I boarded forty vessels, but found no one who had been on the
coast of Africa in the slave trade. One or two had been there in King's
ships, but they had never been on shore. Things wore now drawing to a
close; and my heart began to beat. I was restless and uneasy during the
night. The next morning I felt agitated between the alternate pressure
of hope and fear; and in this state I entered my boat. The fifty-seventh
vessel I boarded was the Melampus frigate. One person belonging to it,
on examining him in the captain's cabin, said he had been two voyages to
Africa; and I had not long conversed with him before I found, to my
inexpressible joy, that he was the man." This long-sought witness
confirmed his suspicions in regard to kidnapping. In 1786, Clarkson
published a tract, embodying a summary of the various information he had
obtained, and in June 1787, organized, in London, the first committee
for the abolition of the slave trade, and was appointed its secretary
and agent. When visiting this patriarch of humanity, at Playford Hall,
in 1840, he showed me the records of this committee. There were the
original entries, in his own handwriting, made more than fifty-three
years before; and he was alive to read them to me, accompanied by many
lively anecdotes of the early friends whose names and deeds were there
recorded. In 1787, he had his first interview with Mr. Wilberforce, and
found a ready access to the heart of that great and good man. In 1788,
he published his important work, "The Impolicy of the Slave Trade." The
next year he visited France, to enlist the friends of liberty in that
country in favor of his scheme. He had interviews with Mirabeau, Neckar,
and others. He was denounced as a spy, and came near being seized. Owing
to the revolutionary storm then rising over the kingdom, he accomplished
little by this tour, except to present copies of his printed works to
the King, and obtain promises from Mirabeau and Neckar to call public
attention to the subject when the agitations of the period had subsided.
These promises were soon engulfed in the earthquake which shook, not
only France, but Europe to its center.

Previous to 1788, such progress had been made in public sentiment and
feeling in England, through the indefatigable labors of Clarkson and the
committee he had founded, that it was determined to bring the subject of
Abolition before Parliament. Mr. Wilberforce was selected to open the
question; but, owing to his ill health, Mr. Pitt, on the 9th of May,
1788, moved that the House do resolve to take into consideration the
state of the slave trade early in the next session. In 1790, Wilberforce
introduced a proposition for the total abolition of the traffic, and
sustained it with eminent ability, Pitt, Fox, and Burke giving him their
support. The West India interest took fire, insisting that the trade was
sanctioned by the Bible, and its abolition would ruin the commerce of
London, Bristol, Liverpool, and other large marts. The session of 1792
saw the tables of both Houses loaded with influential petitions.
Wilberforce led off, as usual, followed closely by Fox and Pitt. Dundas,
"the right hand of Pitt," opposed the measure, and was scathed by Fox in
reply. In the Lords, the Duke of Clarence denounced Wilberforce as a
"meddling fanatic," who ought to be expelled from Parliament. But the
object of his censure lived to see his royal traducer, as King William
IV, sign a bill appropriating £20,000,000 for the abolition of slavery
in the West India islands! Omitting details, suffice it to say, that the
friends of Abolition pressed its consideration upon the public attention
from year to year, with increasing fervor, Clarkson being the out-door
manager, and Wilberforce the Parliamentary, (always sustained by Pitt
and Fox,) till, on the downfall of Pitt, and the coming in of a liberal
administration, with Fox for its leader, in 1806, a condemnatory vote
was obtained, which, in the next year, was followed by the total
abolition of the trade.

I will not stop to state why this measure, since adopted from time to
time by all Christian nations, has not fulfilled the expectations of its
friends; nor why the number of victims of the slave trade in our day is
double that of the time when Clarkson commenced his labors. In a word,
so long as the existence of slavery makes a demand for fresh "cargoes of
human agony," so long wretches will be found to brave heaven, earth, and
hell, to furnish the supply. But the failure to attain complete success
should not lessen our admiration of those early toils, which, like an
oasis in the wide desert of human selfishness, refresh the eye of all
who recognize the common brotherhood of man.

Mr. Clarkson was greatly aided in his labors by GRANVILLE SHARPE. This
singular person had already become known for his advocacy of the rights
of negro slaves when Clarkson commenced his work. He was born of humble
parents, in 1735. He had a mind peculiarly fond of probing everything to
the bottom. While an apprentice, a controversy with a Socinian led him
to study Greek, that he might read the New Testament in the original. A
dispute with a Jew induced him to obtain a knowledge of Hebrew. In 1767,
his interference in behalf of a West India slave, whose master, then in
London, had whipped him nearly to death, cost him a lawsuit. He must be
beaten, if the master could hold his slave in England. Eminent counsel
told him he must fail, for the right of the master was not invalidated
by bringing his slave to England. Repudiating this advice, Sharpe, with
his usual diligence and bent of mind, devoted himself to the study of
the law, preparatory to his own defense. The "law's delay" gave him
ample time to explore the subject to its foundations. He published a
tract "On the injustice and dangerous tendency of tolerating slavery, or
even of admitting the least claim to property in the persons of men, in
England." His rare authorities and profound reasoning converted to his
views many leading members of the bar. After a delay of two years, the
plaintiff abandoned the case, paying Sharpe heavy costs. While further
prosecuting his legal researches, he had another affair of a similar
kind, in which he was partially successful. By this time, though
comparatively an obscure man, he was better read in the law of slavery,
and the restrictions upon the system in England, than any barrister or
jurist in Westminster Hall. In 1772 came on the hearing, before Lord
Mansfield, in the matter of the negro Somersett, a West India slave, who
claimed his freedom on the ground that his master had brought him into
England. The ablest counsel were employed on both sides; the case was
argued twice or thrice, and was under consideration several months.
Sharpe took deep interest in the issue, frequently conferred with
Somersett's counsel, and wrote in his behalf for the newspapers. At
length, on the 22d of June, 1772, Mansfield, with great reluctance, (for
he leaned to the side of the slaveholder,) pronounced the celebrated
judgment, that slavery, being contrary to natural law, was of so odious
a nature that nothing but positive law could support it, and that every
slave, on touching English soil, became free, and "therefore the man
must be discharged!" This rule has ever since been recognized as law in
all climes where England bears sway, and is so regarded in America and
most of the civilized States of the world. For three-fourths of a
century it has pursued the Evil Spirit of slavery with uplifted weapon,
ready to cleave it to the earth the moment it passed the boundaries of
its own odious and unnatural law; and in our day it stands like the
flaming sword of Paradise, turning every way, to guard the tree of
Liberty. For the early announcement of this far-reaching and
deep-sounding principle, the world is indebted to the labors of one who
commenced his career as a humble London apprentice. Having fought the
good fight of Abolition with Clarkson and Wilberforce, and gained
considerable distinction by his philanthropic deeds and writings,
numbering Sir William Jones among his intimate friends, he died in 1813.
A monument, with suitable devices and inscriptions, was erected to his
memory in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, to mark the public
sense of his merits.

MR. WILBERFORCE has not been over-estimated, but, in my judgment, he
has been mis-estimated. Entitled to less relative praise for his
Abolition services than is generally bestowed, he is worthy of a higher
position as a statesman and orator than is usually assigned to him. This
common error is readily accounted for. The commanding place he so long
occupied, as the Parliamentary leader in this Reform, rendered him more
conspicuous at home, and especially abroad, than any of his coadjutors,
though no man was more ready than he to acknowledge that his services
were meager, compared with those of some of his less noted colaborers.
So, on the other hand, such is the luster of Mr. Wilberforce's undoubted
achievements in the Abolition cause, that to the public eye they have
thrown into the shade his very superior talents in other and more
general aspects. He would have stood in the front rank of Parliamentary
orators, (and those were the days of Burke, Fox, Pitt, Erskine, Wyndham,
and Sheridan,) had he never thrown a halo round his name by consecrating
his powers to humanity. Thoroughly educated, and furnished with general
information, his eloquence was of a high order--fervid, instructive,
persuasive; his diction classical and elegant; his voice musical and
bland; and though his figure was diminutive, and not graceful, his
countenance was remarkably expressive. He possessed a lively
imagination, a keen sense of the ludicrous, a ready wit, and powers of
sarcasm which Pitt might envy. These latter, however, he kept in
subjection, mainly from his strong religious susceptibilities and kindly
spirit, which impelled him to avoid giving pain, choosing to disarm
personal assailants by winning appeals to their calmer judgments. On one
occasion, after being repeatedly and coarsely alluded to, as "the
honorable and very religious member," he turned upon his antagonist, and
poured upon him a torrent of contempt, sarcasm, and rebuke, which
astonished the House, not more for the ability it displayed, than that
so great a master of indignant declamation should so rarely resort to
its use. These intellectual elements combined with the spotless purity
and winning beauty of his character, to give him great weight in the
House, and contributed not a little to sustain the general policy of Mr.
Pitt, whose supporter he usually was, though he ever maintained a
position of comparative political independence. He had much personal
influence over that minister, whose repeated offers to take office under
his Administration he steadily declined. He retired from Parliament in
1824. His last public appearance was in 1830, when, on motion of his old
friend Clarkson, he took the chair at a large meeting of delegates, in
London, assembled to promote the abolition of slavery in the West

MR. PITT'S advocacy of Abolition is now believed to have been
hollow-hearted--a mere trick to gain popular applause in unwonted
quarters, and retain his hold upon Wilberforce. During the twenty years
which this question agitated Parliament and the country, Pitt, with the
exception of two or three, reigned supreme, and never failed to carry
any scheme he set his heart upon. At the wave of his hand, he could have
driven from the House half the members, who steadily voted against
Abolition, whilst with a dash of his pen he could have swept from the
offices of the kingdom every occupant who dared oppose his will on this
measure. By his personal advocacy of it, he lost nothing, and gained

We turn with more pleasure to contemplate for a moment the services of
two very different coadjutors of Wilberforce and Clarkson--James Stephen
and Zachary Macaulay. It has already been said that the more imposing
character of Mr. Wilberforce's services threw into the shade those of
many not less worthy colaborers. Of these, Messrs. Stephen and Macaulay
were among the most eminent.

MR. STEPHEN was a barrister. On being called to the bar, he emigrated to
St. Kitts, and attained such distinction in the colonial courts as to be
called "the Erskine of the West Indies." Impaired health induced his
return to England in 1794, where he urged his way to a respectable
standing in Westminster Hall. Soon after his return, he procured an
introduction to Wilberforce, and immediately entered, with
characteristic zeal, into the great work to which the former had devoted
his powers. He was prepared for this from the fact, that such was his
abhorrence of slavery, that he never owned a slave during his protracted
residence in the West Indies. He subsequently married the sister of Mr.
Wilberforce. He consecrated his vigorous pen to the cause of Abolition,
and contributed much to create that public sentiment which demanded the
abrogation of the traffic. At the solicitation of Mr. Perceval, he
entered Parliament in 1808, where he remained seven or eight years.
Always conscientious in the discharge of his political duties, he
refused to support the administration which followed that of Perceval,
in consequence of their neglect to promote a measure, which he had
anxiously pressed upon them, for the registration of slaves in the West
Indies. He soon after resigned his seat, and devoted himself more
exclusively to the duties of a master in chancery, to which office he
had been appointed in 1811, and which he held twenty years. He was the
means of introducing several reforms in the practice of the court of
chancery, though by so doing he essentially lessened his own emoluments.
As an instance of his disinterestedness, it may be mentioned that he
forbade his clerk to take the ordinary gratuities, and remunerated him
for his loss out of his own pocket to the amount of about £800 a year.
What time he could spare from his official duties was devoted to the
abolition of the slave trade by foreign States, and of slavery in the
West Indies. Besides numerous pamphlets, occasional speeches, and an
extensive correspondence on these subjects, he published an admirable
legal work, entitled, "Slavery of the British West India Colonies
Delineated," the plan of which has apparently been followed by Judge
Stroud, of Philadelphia, in a work of equal ability, on American
slavery. Mr. Stephen descended to his honored grave in 1832, at the
advanced age of 75.

MR. MACAULAY is the father of the brilliant essayist and historian whose
writings are so well known in this country. And it is high praise to say
that, as a writer, he is the worthy progenitor of such a descendant;
for, though his publications fall short in beauty and splendor of those
of his celebrated son, they are equal to his in logical acumen and
argumentative power. Though younger in years than Stephen, Macaulay's
services in the abolition of the slave trade were equal to his, while
those in the cause of West India emancipation far transcended his.

The Life of Wilberforce, published by his sons, in 1838, was thought to
have done injustice to the early labors of Clarkson in the abolition of
the slave trade. An unpleasant controversy at once arose, as to the
relative merits of these philanthropists, and especially in reference to
their agency in promoting the abolition. An anecdote was told to me in
London respecting the matter, which illustrates one of the
idiosyncrasies in the mental constitution of another early and steadfast
Abolitionist--HENRY BROUGHAM--who, though young at the period of the
abolition, had, while traveling on the continent, assisted Wilberforce
by pursuing various inquiries in Holland, Germany, Poland, and other
countries, in regard to the traffic. Some of the particulars of the
story are forgotten, but enough are remembered for the present purpose.
Soon after the appearance of the Life, the friends of Clarkson caused a
book to be prepared, vindicating his services and claims, to which
Brougham agreed to furnish an introduction. The body of the work was in
press before the ex-chancellor, pressed with multifarious labors, had
prepared his paper. The committee having the matter in charge waited
upon him, and stated that the publication was delayed for want of his
introduction; that country booksellers and anti-slavery societies were
impatient to have their orders filled, &c. Brougham told them he had not
written a line of it, but would have it completed by a given day of the
same week. At the appointed time the committee called, and he read the
paper. What was their mortification to find incorporated into the middle
of it a ferocious attack on Daniel O'Connell, the very man upon whom
they were relying to help carry through the Commons the bill then
pending for the abolition of the apprenticeship in the West Indies, and
with whom they had had an interview on the subject that very morning.
Here was a dilemma! They expostulated with Brougham; explained the
ruinous consequences to the cause, of their sanctioning such an attack
on O'Connell; and while they did not wish to interfere with the
controversy between him and O'Connell, assured him that for them to
issue such a publication at that crisis might seal the fate of the
apprenticeship bill--nor could they send out the work without his
introduction, without disappointing the public. After rather an exciting
interview, Brougham dismissed them by peremptorily declaring, "they must
take it as it was, or not at all." They left in despair. The next day,
one of the committee called, to see if something could not be done to
get over the difficulty, when lo, his lordship handed him the paper with
the offensive passage omitted. The secret of the alteration was this:
The night after the first interview, Brougham went down to the House of
Peers, and "pitching into" the debate, castigated some half dozen of the
lords spiritual and temporal to his heart's content, and, having thus
worked off "the slough of his passion," returned home in a calmer mood,
and blotted the obnoxious paragraph from his Introduction.


     Law Reform--Jeremy Bentham--His Opinion of the Common Law--His
     "Felicity" Principle--His Universal Code--His Works--The Fruits of
     his Labors--His Talents and Character.

The father of Modern Law Reform was JEREMY BENTHAM. This singular person
has been often sneered at by Americans, who knew nothing of him or his
writings, except that he lived somewhere in Europe, and was called "a
visionary foreign philosopher" by the North American Review. He was the
constant theme of ridicule for a large class of Englishmen, who only
cared to know that he was said to be an eccentric old man, who shunned
the world, admitted his guests to dine one at a time, wore an uncouth
garb, was an abominable sloven, turned wooden bowls on a lathe and run
in his garden for exercise, relieved the tedium of study by playing now
on a fiddle and then on an organ, heated his house by steam, slept in a
sack, looked very much like Ben. Franklin, did not believe in rotten
boroughs or rotten creeds, did believe in free trade in corn and money,
thought the common law the perfection of absurdity, Lord Eldon's court a
libel on equity, and wrote codes for all creation to use in the
twenty-ninth century.

Mr. Bentham was one of the most remarkable men that has appeared in our
age. He was born in 1747, and was descended from a race of attorneys. At
the age of five, the family called him "the philosopher;" at eight he
played well on the violin, on which he afterwards became a proficient;
and at thirteen went to Oxford, where he excited admiration and wonder
by his acute observations, logical skill, and precision of language.
When he took his degree, he was esteemed the first reasoner and
philosophical critic in the University. He was at Oxford when Wesley and
the "Methodists" were expelled, and his generous soul took up arms
against this tyranny. This induced him to examine the thirty-nine
articles of the Church, one by one; and when it became necessary for him
to subscribe them, long was the struggle before Bentham could bring his
hand to do it. He has left on record a rebuke of this test, which ought
to consign it to universal condemnation. At Oxford, he attended the law
lectures of Blackstone, (being the substance of his Commentaries,) and
his clear mind detected the fallacies in his reasoning, and his humane
and honest spirit revolted at many of his eulogiums on the Common Law of

The Bar, to which he was admitted in 1772, opened a brilliant prospect
before him. His precise and acute method of drafting equity and law
pleadings was much extolled, and his refusal to receive the usual fees
excited no less attention. A sharp solicitor swelled a swindling bill of
costs in a case in which Bentham had succeeded--he protested--"Quirk"
told him it was made up according to the rules, and he would lose caste
if he altered it. Bentham was disgusted, resolved to quit the
profession, and spend his life in "endeavoring," as he expressed it, "to
put an end to the system, rather than profit by it." To the grasping
pertinacity of this solicitor, the world is indebted for the sixty
years' labor of Jeremy Bentham in the cause of law reform. Soon after
this, he published his first work, "A Fragment on Government; being an
examination of what is delivered on that subject in Blackstone's
Commentaries." He then visited Paris, where he became intimate with
Brissot, through whose agency, and without his knowledge, he was
subsequently made a citizen of the French Republic, and elected a member
of the second National Assembly.

His father died in 1792, leaving him a moderate fortune, which enabled
him entirely to abandon his profession, and devote himself to the
preparation of those works on Law and Government which have celebrated
his name in the Four Quarters of the Globe. During the truce of Amiens,
he again visited Paris, accompanied by Sir Samuel Romilly, where he
found himself famous. M. Dumont was then publishing his works in French.
Of his "_Traites de Legislation Civile et Penale_," in 3 vols., about
4,000 copies were sold in Paris. At this time, there happened to be
three vacancies in the French Institute, one of which was reserved for
Bonaparte. Bentham was chosen to fill one of the vacancies. From
elective affinity, no less than through the agency of Romilly, he soon
after became intimate with the young men, known as "the Edinburgh
Reviewers," Brougham, Jeffrey, Smith, Horner, Mackintosh, and their
associates, and from that time was the Mentor of that galaxy of talent
on the subject of Law Reform.

When Bentham was admitted to the bar, he found the English law, its
principles and its practice, entrenched behind the interests of powerful
classes, and embedded in the prejudices of all. Though called the
perfection of reason, to his penetrating eye it was the offspring of a
barbarous age, and, though a noble production for the times that gave it
birth, had obtruded into the light of an infinitely milder and more
liberal civilization the harsh features which stamped its origin. To him
it was the patchwork of fifteen centuries--a chaos of good and evil--an
edifice exhibiting the architecture of the ancient Briton, the Gaul, the
Goth, the Dane, the Saxon, and the Norman, all jumbled together, and to
which, in order to render it tenantable, modern hands had made numerous
additions and improvements, till the whole had become a huge, shapeless,
and bewildering pile. He saw that it contained masses of material to aid
in the erection of a new edifice, adapted to the enlarged wants and
cultivated tastes of the present age. And he entered upon the
elucidation of his plans for a judicial structure worthy of the noon of
the nineteenth century. He was the first man who sat down to the task of
exposing the defects of the English law. Heretofore, its students and
ministers had been content to sift its principles from a chaotic mass of
statutes and decisions, and collect and arrange the perplexing details
of its form of procedure. Commencing at the bottom, he worked up through
all its ramifications, bringing everything to the test of expediency,
and inquiring whether the parts were homogeneous with the whole, and
whether the whole was suited to the wants of existing society, and the
promotion of human well-being. Probably not intending, when he started,
to do more than improve the system by amending it, he soon aimed at its
complete reconstruction, branching out into an exhausting discussion of
the principles on which all human laws should be based, nor stopping
till he had surveyed the nature of Government in its widest relations.

The test-principle of his system may be explained briefly thus: The only
proper end of the social union is, the attainment of the maximum of the
aggregate of happiness; and the attainment of this maximum of the
aggregate of happiness is by the attainment of the maximum of individual
happiness. The standard for determining whether a law is right or wrong,
is its conduciveness to the maximum of the aggregate of happiness, by
conducing to the maximum of individual happiness. This was known in his
day, and in ours, as "the greatest-happiness principle," or "the
principle of felicity"--which latter term he much preferred to that by
which it is more commonly known, "the doctrine of utility." This was the
keystone of Bentham's system. With this principle in his hand, he
traversed the entire field of legislation, dividing it into two great
parts--internal law, and international law. Internal law included the
legislation which concerns a single State or community; international,
that which regulates the intercourse of different States with each
other. His chief attention was devoted to preparing a code of internal
law under the Greek name of _Pannomion_, (the whole law.) This he
divided into four parts--the constitutional, the civil, the penal, and
the administrative. The _constitutional_ defined the supreme authority,
and the mode of executing its will. The _civil_ defined the rights of
persons and of property, and was termed the "right-conferring code." The
_penal_ defined offenses and their punishments, and was termed "the
wrong-repressing code." The _administrative_ defined the mode of
executing the whole body of the laws, and was termed "the code of
procedure." Some of these codes he run out into details. Others he left
unfinished. They all bore the stamp of great research, learning, and
symmetry, and were supported by vigorous reasoning, and elucidated by a
comprehensive genius. Many a _codifier_ of our day has been indebted,
directly or indirectly, to these labors of Jeremy Bentham, to an extent
of which he was perhaps not aware.

His system struck at the very root of the English law. Of course, such a
"wild enthusiast," such a "reckless innovator," was laughed at,
misrepresented, and abused. Not a single tile or crumbling pillar of
"the perfection of reason" must be touched. The rubbish that blocked up
the avenues leading to it, the dust which choked its passages, must not
be removed. Venerable for its age, hallowed as the legacy of our
ancestors, the work of wise men and dead men, it must be worshiped at a
distance and let alone. All classes deified it, and denounced such as
would sneeze at its consecrated dust. The king as he placed the golden
round on his anointed head, and the noble as he gazed on his stars and
ribbons--the fat bishop as he pocketed his tithes, and the lean
dissenter as he paid them--the judge in his scarlet robes, and the
barrister in his wig of horsehair--the merchant as he paid his onerous
duties to the government, and the yeoman as he liquidated the ruinous
rents of his landlord--the clodhopper as he took his shilling for twelve
hours of exhausting toil, and the culprit as he hung on a cross-tree for
killing the hare which poached on his beans--all, high-born and
low-born, patrician and plebeian, rich and poor, wise and foolish, were
ready to make oath that the common law of England was the perfection of
reason, and to swear at Jeremy Bentham for doubting it. If Bentham had
done nothing more than dispel this delusion, he would deserve the thanks
of the millions in both hemispheres who submit to the sway of the common
law; and this he did most effectually.

Bentham brought to his work reasoning faculties which did not so much
probe subjects to the bottom as begin there, and work upwards to their
surface--a patience which no amount of drudgery could weary--a taste
whose light reading was Bacon and Beccaria--a memory retentive as
tablets of brass--a boldness which shrunk from looking no institution in
the face, and questioning its pretensions to utility and its claims to
homage--an honesty which never averted the eye from conclusions
legitimately born of sound premises--a conscience which followed truth
wherever it led. Lord Brougham, who knew him intimately, has happily
said: "In him were blended, to a degree perhaps unequaled in any other
philosopher, the love and appreciation of general principles, with the
avidity for minute details; the power of embracing and following out
general views, with the capacity for pursuing each one of numberless
particular facts." He was an adept in numerous modern languages, as
French, Italian, Spanish, and German, and he extended his linguistical
knowledge into the Swedish, Russian, and other northern tongues. These
acquisitions facilitated his study of the history of all countries and
times, with whose philosophy, legislation and jurisprudence he was
acquainted beyond most men.

His numerous writings all bore some relation to his "Felicity"
principle, and the topics discussed were almost as multifarious as human
exigency and action. Including his larger pamphlets, they must number
some fifty volumes. They chiefly relate to Government, law, and
jurisprudence; but he also wrote extensively on morals, politics, and
ecclesiastical establishments. Nor did science wholly escape his
searching pen, for he treated of chemistry and anatomy. He wrote against
Blackstone's Commentaries, and attacked Burke's plan for economical
reform. He wrote on prison discipline and penal colonies, and
illustrated the anti-Christian tendency of oaths. He advocated free
schools, and denounced church establishments. He attacked rotten
boroughs, and drafted plans for work-houses. He vindicated free trade,
and showed the impolicy of the usury laws. He prepared a constitutional
code to be used by any State, and drew up a reform bill for the House of
Commons. He wrote separate volumes or pamphlets on bankruptcy, poor
laws, primogeniture, escheats, taxation, jails, Scotch reform, the
French judiciary, the criminal code of Spain, juries, evidence, rewards
and punishments, oaths, parliamentary law, English reform, education,
Church-of-Englandism, &c., &c., &c. He wrote for or offered codes to
France, Spain, Greece, Russia, and the South American States--sent a
letter to each Governor of the United States, proposing to prepare for
them an entire code of laws--was intimate personally or by
correspondence with Howard, Lafayette, Wilberforce, the Emperor
Alexander, Napoleon, Brissot, Mirabeau, Neckar, Benezet, Franklin,
Jefferson, Bolivar, Jean Baptiste Say, Toussaint L'Ouverture, and in
fact with most of the men of his times, who were celebrated in any part
of the world for their services in the cause of liberty, humanity and

Of course no man, unless endowed with all the wisdom of the ancients and
the moderns, could write so much on such a variety of subjects, without
committing to paper a good deal of nonsense. Yet he wrote no page but
contains some profound thoughts, whilst many of his volumes are replete
with wisdom. And if any one mortal man could have written codes for all
the nations on earth, that man was Jeremy Bentham.

His defects were partly the result of his peculiar mind, and partly of
those idiosyncrasies which germinate in all speculators who mingle
little with men and things. Bold and original to a fault, he rather
suspected that an old thing was necessarily a bad thing. His exhaustless
patience, and fondness for abstractions and theorizing, which grew by
what they fed on, led him to carry everything out, out, out, till he
sometimes trenched on absurdity or sunk in obscurity. In vulgar phrase,
he was prone to "run a thing into the ground." He mixed so little with
the world, and had such limited experience in the every-day business of
life, that he often forgot that his codes must be executed by and upon
mortal men. He lived fifty years in the house immortalized as the
dwelling-place of Milton, in the very heart of London; and yet
nine-tenths of the inhabitants, about whom he was thinking, and writing,
and printing for half a century, never knew that he lived at all. Habits
induced by this recluse life, were not improved by his being the head
and oracle of a school, whose immoderate puffings, which he must hear,
were not counterbalanced by denunciations from without, to which he
never listened. He tried to reduce everything to a system, and wrote as
if the human mind were a curious little wheel, to be put into a vast
engine, which, when regulated according to his system, would run without
jarring or friction. He made too little allowance for the
individualities, eccentricities, _crooked-stickednesses_ of mankind. But
in this he did not differ from many other philosophers--men wiser and
better than their generation--men so far beyond and above their times,
that they look like dwarfs to their cotemporaries.

Then, he undertook so much that he left a great deal incomplete; so
that, in many of his works, while he has finished one side of a subject,
he seems not to have touched or seen the other side. His style,
especially in his latter years, was rough, involved, uncongenial; often
obscure from its very verbosity; and, when clear, fatiguing the reader
by so thoroughly exhausting the subject as to leave nothing for him to
do but read. He called his style of reasoning "the _exhaustive_ mode,"
and he crowded it full of crabbed words of his own invention. He wrote
many of his works in French, and they were given to the world by Dumont,
a Genevan. Hazlitt has wittily said: "His works have been translated
into French; they ought to be translated into English." Sydney Smith,
when reviewing his "Book of Fallacies," remarks, in his quaint way,
"Whether it is necessary there should be a middleman between the
cultivator and the possessor, learned economists have doubted; but
neither gods, men, nor booksellers, can doubt the necessity of a
middleman between Mr. Bentham and the public.* * The mass of readers
will choose to become acquainted with him through the medium of Reviews,
after that eminent philosopher has been washed, trimmed, shaved, and
forced into clean linen."

Bentham invented the words _Codify_ and _Codification_, now in such
general use. But let it not be supposed that he was guilty of the
absurdity of imagining that the entire laws of a Commonwealth could be
compressed into a single volume; nor of that other absurdity, that the
laws can be written so plain that the meanest capacity can understand
them fully, and apply them, without mistakes, to all the varieties of
human rights and wrongs, and the ever-shifting vagaries and exigencies
of society. He never had wit enough to see how it was, that what never
could be true in regard to any other science or species of writing, must
be true in regard to jurisprudence and legislation. He left that
discovery for penny-a-liners, who believe all the law the world needs
can be printed between the yellow covers of a twenty-page pamphlet.

Bentham labored without any apparent success at home for years. He was
famous in France, and appreciated in Russia, before he was known in
England. At length, his reiterated blows made an impression. He won
converts in high places, and they became his "middlemen" with the
public. Brougham and Smith spread out his great ideas in attractive
colors on the pages of the Edinburgh, and they sparkled in brilliant
speeches from Romilly and Mackintosh on the floor of Parliament. One
after another, the champions for the inviolability of the ancient system
were prostrated, till reasonable men admitted that, whether or not
Jeremy Bentham was right, the common law was certainly wrong, and must
be materially altered. Though he took no part in actual legislation, his
was the master mind that set other minds in motion; his genius, the
secret spring that operated a vast reformatory machine. He did not live
to see his whole system adopted, (and would not, had he lived till the
millennium,) but he saw parts of it incorporated into the jurisprudence
of his country, whilst other parts were postponed rather than rejected.
He saw the fruits of his labors in the amelioration of a sanguinary
criminal code, and especially in the abridgment of the death penalty--in
the improvement of the poor laws and penitentiaries, and the kindlier
treatment of prisoners--in the softening of the harsher features of
imprisonment for debt, of the bankrupt laws, and the general law of
debtor and creditor--in lopping off some excrescences in chancery, and
cutting down costs and simplifying the modes of procedure in other
courts--in the abolition of tests, and the emancipation of the
Catholics--in the greater freedom of trade, the enlargement of the
suffrage, and the partial equalization of representation in
Parliament--in the appointment of commissioners to revise the whole mass
of statute law, and reduce it to a uniform code--and, more than all, in
the conviction, penetrating a multitude of intelligent minds, that a
large portion of the English law, as administered, so far from being the
perfection of reason, was a disgrace to the human understanding, and the
homage paid to it a degrading idolatry.

Nor did he see these fruits in England alone. As he labored for the
world, so he saw the products of his toil in both hemispheres. France
and Russia published his writings, and they were read in Germany and
Switzerland. His works were circulated at Calcutta and the Cape of Good
Hope; at New York, and New South Wales; in the Canadas, and the
Republics of South America. This country profits by his culture in the
simplification of its laws, and their revision and codification in many
of its States--in the comparative humanity of its criminal codes and
prison discipline--and especially in the recent sweeping reforms in the
practice of its courts in three or four States, and the abolition of the
monopoly of the legal profession--a monopoly worthless to those whom it
protected, and galling to those whom it excluded. By no means do I
intend to say, that to him we are solely indebted for these reforms. But
his hand planted the tree whose fruit is now being gathered. His chief
glory is the emancipation of the Anglo-Saxon mind from a blind idolatry
of the English common law; and for this he deserves unmeasured praise.

Mr. Bentham was kind, cheerful, simple-hearted, witty, and greatly
beloved by his friends. Frank, so frank that he was bluff, he refused a
costly present from the Emperor of Russia, lest he should be tempted to
praise when he ought to blame. A great husbander of moments, he took air
and exercise while entertaining ordinary visitors; and, when conversing
on his favorite themes with such as Romilly and Brougham, kept his
secretaries busy in noting down their remarks. The ridicule and abuse of
which he was the subject rarely reached its aim, for he avoided personal
controversies, discussing principles, and not men. He died in 1832, in
the 85th year of his age; and gave a singular evidence of his attachment
to his principles, by bequeathing his body to the surgeon's knife, for
the advancement of medical science.


     Law Reform--The Penal Code of England--Its Barbarity--The
     Death-Penalty--Sir Samuel Romilly--His Efforts to Abolish Capital
     Punishment--His Talents and Character.

The earliest mouth piece of Jeremy Bentham in Parliament, and his
"middleman" with the public, was Sir SAMUEL ROMILLY. This accomplished
lawyer, from the period he entered Parliament, in 1806, till his death,
in 1818, directed his main efforts to Law Reform; especially the
amelioration of the Penal Code, and the diminution of the number of
capital offenses.

The present criminal code of England is a disgrace to civilization. When
Romilly commenced his labors, it would have disgraced barbarism.
Blackstone had said in his Commentaries, (and it was substantially true
in 1806,) "Among the variety of actions which men are liable daily to
commit, no less than one hundred and sixty are declared by act of
Parliament to be felonies, without benefit of clergy; or, in other
words, to be worthy of instant death." I will specify a few items in
this bloody catalogue. Treason, murder, arson, and rape, were of course
capital crimes. So was counterfeiting coin; refusing to take the oath of
allegiance under various circumstances; falsifying judicial records;
taking a reward for restoring stolen goods, when accessory with the
thief; obstructing the service of legal process; hunting in the night
disguised; writing threatening letters, to extort money; pulling down
turnpike gates; assembling to produce riots, and not dispersing at the
order of a magistrate; transporting wool or sheep twice out of the
kingdom; smuggling; fraudulent bankruptcies; marrying a couple except in
"a church," without the license of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and
making false entries in relation thereto in a marriage register;
wandering as gipsies thirty days; burglary, in the night; stealing, from
the person, property above the value of twelve pence, or, from a
dwelling-house, above five shillings, or a vessel above forty shillings;
stealing fish, hares, and conies; robbing on the highway to the value of
a farthing; forgery in all its multiplied forms; sundry mere trespasses
to personal property, such as tearing down fences, opening fish-ponds,
destroying trees in parks and gardens, maiming cattle--and the list
might be swelled through a chapter.

The legal mode of inflicting punishment, in many of these cases, was
equally barbarous with the penalties. Not content with killing the
wretch, he might be dragged to the place of execution at the heels of
horses; or emboweled while alive; or burnt to death; or beheaded,
quartered, and the parts nailed up in conspicuous places; or his
skeleton left to rot on the gallows; or his hands and ears cut off, and
his nostrils slit; or be branded on the cheek or hand, before execution.
And down to the reign of William III, counsel were not allowed to
prisoners, even in cases of high treason, when the whole power of the
Government was brought to crush them; and it was not till the recent
reign of William IV, that, in other capital cases, counsel for the
accused were allowed to do more than state points of law to the court.

Such a Penal Code would disgrace the Fejee Islands. Yet, it was, in its
main features, the law of England in 1806; and, notwithstanding the
lucubrations of Bentham, the dashing essays of Brougham, and the lucid
speeches of Romilly and Mackintosh, sustained by the protests and the
petitions of churchmen and dissenters, Catholics and Quakers, it
remained the law, with slight modifications, till the reign of George
IV; and much of it is law to this day! And this code could be eulogized
by the classical Blackstone; whilst Paley, the archdeacon, could
congratulate the readers of his Moral Philosophy on the fact, that
torture to extort confessions had been excluded "from the mild and
cautious system of penal jurisprudence established in this country!"
Such mildness _is_ a "caution!" The same author, alluding to those who
might happen to be convicted and hung through mistake, counsels their
surviving friends not to repine, but "rather to reflect that he who
falls by a mistaken sentence, may be considered as falling for his

No one will suppose that such laws, the offspring of the dark ages,
could be enforced against all offenders after the sunrise of the
nineteenth century. Still, capital convictions under them were
frightfully numerous. The statistics of English criminal jurisprudence
afford abundant illustrations of the doctrines, that the severity of the
law does not diminish crime, and that the certainty rather than the
severity of punishment is the surest preventive. These doctrines had
been maintained with great power by Lord Bacon, by Stiernhook, the
Swedish Blackstone, by Blackstone himself, by the Marquis of Beccaria,
by Voltaire, by Montesquieu, by Bentham; and even Paley had admitted
their truth. Romilly enforced them in Parliament; and it may be safely
affirmed, that the history of crime proves nothing if it does not
establish their truth. Larcenies, burglaries, robberies, and forgeries,
had increased in England during the eighteenth century, much beyond the
advance of population and commerce, notwithstanding the severity of the
law and its frequent execution. But these obvious facts were assigned to
other causes than defects in the penal code, and these doctrines were
scouted as the dogmas of visionary enthusiasts, by nearly the whole of
the bench, the bar, and the leading influences in Church and State, at
the dawn of the present century. They admitted that the unvarying
execution of the law would be barbarous; but insisted that its
frightful penalties ought to be suspended over the heads of offenders,
to deter from crime; whilst they trusted to indirect modes of softening
its rigors. So, judges undertook to bend the law to suit the merits of
particular cases; and the humanity of juries, outrunning the injunctions
of their oaths, opened the door of escape in cases of peculiar severity.
The latter would frequently find that the value of the property stolen
did not reach the capital point; as, that a shilling piece was worth but
eleven pence farthing; or a crown, but four shillings and sixpence; or
goods for which the thief had asked £8, and refused £6, were worth but
thirty-nine shillings; thus stultifying their senses to save a life
which the law clamored to sacrifice.

Another evil resulting from the severity of the English code, was felt,
not only in that country, but has reached us and our times, and will
afflict us so long as we are governed by the common law. Merciful
judges, during the trial of offenders for minor crimes punishable with
death, would lend a greedy ear to the ingenious cavils and absurd quirks
of counsel, and quash the indictment--or refine away the plain words of
a statute, so as to exclude the offense from its operation--anything to
save the life of a fellow-creature whose crime deserved a ten days'
commitment to the House of Correction. And we are now reaping the fruits
of this; for, be it known to the uninitiated, that all these cavils,
refinings, quibbles, quirks, and quiddities, are recorded in books, and
have come down to us as authoritative parts of "the perfection of human
reason," making convenient holes for sturdy rogues, with the help of
sharp-pointed lawyers, to creep through the meshes of our comparatively
mild criminal code.

Sir SAMUEL ROMILLY found the penal law of England thus sanguinary on the
statute book; thus abused in its administration by the courts; thus
entrenched behind the authority of judges, lawyers, statesmen, and
divines, when he commenced the humane but apparently hopeless task of
softening its penalties to the milder civilization of the present age.
He brought to this work professional eminence the most exalted, talents
of the rarest order, learning varied and accurate, eloquence captivating
and powerful, and a zeal and courage surpassed only by the benevolent
warmth of his heart. Having previously secured some reforms in the civil
law, he carried a bill, in 1808, repealing the capital part of the act
against stealing property of above twelve-pence value. This horrid law
had existed more than a thousand years, and probably in a thousand cases
in which it had been executed, the hangman's rope cost more than the
stolen property for which a life was forfeited. Even then Romilly could
induce the legislature to fix the death-limit no higher than £15. This
and another repealing act had slipped through Parliament in a very quiet
way, without exciting the attention of the country. In 1809, Romilly
proposed two bills, repealing the laws making it capital to steal to the
value of above five shillings from a shop, or forty from a
dwelling-house. He sustained them by a speech, which exhibited great
research into the statistics of crime, comprehensive views of the
philosophy of rewards and punishments, lofty appeals to humanity, and a
just appreciation of the benevolent and liberal tendencies of the times.
Both bills failed. But the friends of the halter had become alarmed at
these reiterated attempts to restrict the death-penalty. The
gallows-toad, touched by the spear of Ithuriel, started up a devil. It
was the first time the mask had been torn from the penal code of
England, and its visage, grim and bloody, exposed to the public eye. The
excitement caused by this attempt to narrow the scaffold is at this day
incredible. The chancellor in his robes, and the bishop in his lawn; the
barrister in his silk gown, and the attorney in his threadbare coat; the
reviewer in the aristocratic quarterly, and the obscure pamphleteer in
Grub street; all entered the lists to crush the disciple of Jeremy
Bentham, and demolish his dangerous heresies. If Romilly had attacked
the monarchy itself, or declared that the horse-hair wig of the
Archbishop of Canterbury was not a part of the British Constitution, he
could hardly have produced more indignation among judges and hangmen;
more consternation among the old women of both sexes. Jack Ketch was no
longer to hang men for stealing a cast-off coat or petticoat worth five
shillings and six pence, and what would become of England! Sir Samuel
published a pamphlet containing the substance of his great speech, with
additional statistics, which Brougham made the basis of an able essay in
the Edinburgh. The pamphlet and the essay produced a profound impression
upon liberal and humane minds throughout the country.

But, for two years, he was able to accomplish nothing in Parliament. In
1811, he took advantage of some favoring circumstances to carry a law
abolishing capital punishment in the cases of soldiers and sailors found
begging, without having testimonials of their discharge from the
service. Grateful country; to consent not to hang a sailor, who lost his
arm at Trafalgar, or a wooden-legged soldier who stormed Badajos, for
begging a loaf of bread! Through the seven following years, though
Romilly and his coadjutors thundered on the floor of the Commons, and
lightened from the pages of the Edinburgh, and rained down pamphlets
upon the country, charged with appalling facts, unanswerable arguments,
and glowing appeals to the heart of the nation, they fell on the
iron-mail of the Tory party only to rebound in their own faces; and this
great man having bequeathed the prosecution of the work to Mackintosh,
sunk into his grave, in 1818, without seeing one lineament of relenting
in the grim visage of the Penal Code.

But, not alone to reforms in the criminal code did this excellent man
give his hand. He probed the Court of Chancery, and hove up to the sun
some of the abuses which festered under the stagnant administration of
Eldon--exposed the huge masses of rubbish which so blocked up the common
law courts, that the difficulty of suitors to get in was only surpassed
by the impossibility of their getting out; and though the reforms which
he proposed were very moderate, and aimed only at glaring defects, they
encountered the same bigoted attachment to ancient abuses which assailed
him in the other field of his exertions. Lord Eldon especially construed
every insinuation that the system of Equity was not perfect, into a
personal attack on its head. He regarded a peep into his court as Jack
Ketch did a side-glance at the gallows, and repelled every insinuation
that he was not competent to do for men's property what Jack did for
their lives--suspend animation by stopping the circulation.

Nor was it law reform alone which enlisted the sympathies of Romilly. As
Solicitor General he brought in the bill for the abolition of the slave
trade, in 1806-7; and in 1814, when the European treaty of Peace,
negotiated by Castlereagh on the part of England, and which provided for
the revival of the traffic by France, came before Parliament, he led the
friends of humanity to the attack upon that article of it in a speech of
the loftiest rebuke, breathing the purest philanthropy and attired in
the richest garb of eloquence. His eulogium on Wilberforce and Clarkson
was beautiful, and his appeal to the former, as he turned and addressed
him personally, thrilling.

Romilly's mind was cast in the rarest mold, and his heart was attuned to
the liveliest emotions. He could master the understanding with his
reason, and sway the will by his persuasion. He frowned down meanness
with the dignity of a judge sentencing a culprit, and his sarcasm was
too keen to be often provoked. Standing at the head of the Equity bar,
his professional attainments covered the widest field, and were only
equaled by the extensive practice to which they were applied. His
character was beautifully pure, and he was the delight, almost the idol,
of his intimate friends. Yet, his modesty always held him back from
assuming in the courts and the Commons the place that was assigned to
him by the universal homage of his party, and the all but unanimous
verdict of his opponents.

Romilly was the grandson of a French mechanic, who, with his wife, fled
to England, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His father married
the daughter of a refugee, and Samuel was, therefore, of pure French
blood. He was born in 1757. His father, who was a watchmaker, articled
him to a commercial house, the death of whose head soon threw him back
into his father's shop, where he kept the books for two or three years.
During this time, he marked out for himself, and pursued with avidity
and success, a course of classical study. Leaving the shop, he entered
as an apprentice the office of one of the clerks in chancery, and for
several years devoted all the leisure hours he could snatch from the
drudgery of business, to the cultivation of general literature. Arriving
at his majority, he studied law, and was called to the bar at the age of
twenty-five--an admirable specimen of "a self-made man"--the only sort
of MAN, by the bye, that is made. The following anecdote shows how his
sensitive mind was, in mere childhood, bent toward the work which
engrossed his mature years. He says: "A dreadful impression was made on
me by relations of murders and acts of cruelty. The prints which I found
in the Lives of the Martyrs, and the Newgate Calendar, have cost me many
sleepless nights. My dreams, too, were disturbed by the hideous images
which haunted my imagination by day. I thought myself present at
executions, murders, and scenes of blood; and I have often lain in bed,
agitated by my terrors, equally afraid of remaining awake in the dark,
and of falling asleep to encounter the horrors of my dreams. Often have
I, in my evening prayers to God, besought him, with the utmost fervor,
to suffer me to pass the night undisturbed by horrid dreams." And it may
be that these childish terrors had something to do with his painfully
tragic fall. The death of a wife to whom he was fondly attached, and
over whose bed he had watched with agonizing solicitude, threw him into
a paroxysm of insanity, and he terminated with his own hand a life which
England could not afford to lose. He was proud to acknowledge himself
the disciple, in law reform, of Jeremy Bentham, and the friendship
between him and Henry Brougham was as strong as the cords of a brotherly


     Law Reform--The Penal Code--Restriction of the Penalty of Death in
     1823-4--Appointment of Commissioners to reform the Civil Law in
     1828-9--Sir James Mackintosh--Brougham--Robert Hall.

On the death of Romilly, the leadership in the reformation of the
criminal code devolved on Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH. At the election just
before his decease, the liberal party largely increased its members of
Parliament. Early in the session of 1819, Sir James carried a motion
against Ministers for a committee to revise the penal code. He was
appointed its chairman; and in 1820-1, in pursuance of its doings,
introduced six bills for the abrogation of capital punishment in certain
cases of forgery, larceny, and robbery, and amending the law in other
important particulars. The bills were defeated. A partial effort at
reform was made the next session, and one or two feeble triumphs
achieved. But the day was dawning. In 1823, Sir James proposed nine
resolutions, providing for radical reforms in the penal code. Mr. Peel,
the Home Secretary, caused these propositions to be rejected, only that
Ministers might introduce bills of their own, which largely restricted
the death-penalty, and prepared the way for other repealing acts, till
capital punishment was abrogated in some fifty cases. Thus the dark and
sanguinary system which had so long reared its front over the
jurisprudence of England, received a fell blow.

In 1828, Mr. Brougham made his celebrated speech in favor of remodeling
the whole civil branch of the common law. Near the close he said: "It
was the boast of Augustus--it formed part of the glare in which the
perfidies of his earlier years were lost--that he found Rome of brick,
and left it of marble--a praise not unworthy a great prince. But how
much nobler will be the sovereign's boast, when he shall have it to say,
that he found law dear, and left it cheap--found it a sealed book, left
it a living letter--found it the patrimony of the rich, left it the
inheritance of the poor--found it the two-edged sword of craft and
oppression, left it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence!"
This speech, one of the greatest Mr. Brougham ever delivered, was
followed by an address to the throne for the appointment of
commissioners to inquire into the origin, progress, and termination of
actions in the courts, and into the state of the law regarding real
property. Two commissions were immediately instituted; one of general
common law inquiry; the other, of inquiry into the law of real estate.
Afterwards, the subjects of codification, consolidation of the statutes,
and reform of the criminal law, were referred to other commissions. The
commission to inquire into abuses in courts of equity had previously
been appointed. Some twenty or thirty of the ablest lawyers in the
kingdom were placed on these commissions, several of whom have since
been elevated to the bench. Their elaborate reports, presented during
the past twenty years, have displayed vast research and learning, and
the numerous reforms recommended by them, exhibiting a cautious but
steady advance in the path of improvement, have generally been adopted
by the legislature. Though the prevailing law of England still continues
a chaos of absurdities and excellences, the reforms introduced by these
commissioners will be appreciated by all who have occasion to explore
the intricate windings and gloomy chambers of the huge structure. The
reports alluded to have been the textbooks of revisers and codifiers in
other countries where the common law prevails, and were frequently
cited, and their recommendations often adopted, by the able revisers of
the New York Statutes--which last have served as the model for revisers
in other States of the American Union.

I am now to speak more particularly of Sir James Mackintosh, one of the
brightest ornaments of the liberal party of Great Britain. This eminent
Scotsman was born of humble parentage, in 1765. At the University of
Aberdeen he met Robert Hall, the celebrated Baptist divine, to whom he
became warmly attached, "because," as Sir James says, "I could not help
it." He adds, that he "was fascinated by his brilliancy and acumen, in
love with his cordiality and ardor, and awe-struck by the transparency
of his conduct and the purity of his principles." Their class-mates
called them Plato and Herodotus. They traveled the whole field of
ancient and modern metaphysics and philosophy hand in hand, debating
every point as they went, till in Plato and Edwards, in Aristotle and
Berkley, in Cicero and Butler, in Socrates and Bacon, there was scarcely
a principle they had not examined, and about which they had not enjoyed
a keen encounter of their wits. The heat engendered by these friendly
controversies fused more completely into one their congenial natures.
Such an attachment, formed in the springtime of youth, was sure to
endure; and though, in subsequent life, they moved in widely different
spheres, their intimacy continued throughout their long career.

Being destined for the medical profession, Mackintosh took his degree at
Edinburgh, and went up to London to practice. George III, then
exhibiting symptoms of insanity, the subject of his illness and of
making his son Regent was agitating Parliament when Mackintosh arrived
in the metropolis. _Doctor_ Mackintosh, instead of prescribing for the
diseases of the king, wrote a pamphlet in favor of the claims of the
prince; leaving the constitution of the monarch to take care of itself,
while he attended to the constitution of the monarchy. The king suddenly
recovered, when, it being no longer necessary to administer medicine
either to the Crown or the Constitution, the Prince of Wales returned
to his mistresses, and Mackintosh went to Leyden to complete his
studies, where he lounged away a few months, reading Homer and
Herodotus, to the great neglect of Galen and Hippocrates. Returning to
England, he plunged into matrimony before he had sufficient practice to
buy an anatomical skeleton for his office. Happily, his wife sympathized
in his literary tastes, and, at once detecting the defects of his
character, "urged him to overcome his almost constitutional indolence."

The French revolution, which ruined so many fortunes, made his. In 1791,
he published a volume entitled "_Vindiciæ Gallicæ_, or, a Defense of the
French Revolution and its English Admirers against the Accusations of
the Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke." The very title-page immediately carried off
the first edition, and the acute reasoning, brilliant declamation, and
classic style of this vigorous but immature production gave currency to
three editions at the end of four months. There was a great deal of
_heady_ strength in both these essays. Mackintosh's was like a river
sweeping to the ocean, covered with sparkling foam. Burke's like the
long, heavy swells of that ocean, whose crests are pelted by the winds
and dance in the sun. Both authors set up for prophets; and, like other
inspired and less famous men, they mistook the illusions of their fancy
and the suggestions of their imagination for the visions of the seer and
the teachings of the divine _inflatus_. Burke was nearer right as to the
result of the then pending revolution; but Europe would now account
Mackintosh the best prophet. This volume gave Mackintosh an introduction
to Fox and the other Whig chiefs, and he became their warm friend. Soon
after, falling into the captivating society of Burke, his teachings
combined with the sanguinary turn of French affairs to considerably
modify the views put forth in his _Vindiciæ_.

Throwing physic to the dogs, Mackintosh entered Lincoln's Inn, and was
called to the bar in 1795. But, though the study of the law was more
congenial to his tastes than medicine, his practice in his new
profession was scarcely more extensive than in the old. In truth, he was
too indolent, too desultory in his efforts, too fond of literature and
abstract speculation, to excel in any pursuit requiring close
application and orderly habits, rendering his whole life a series of
brilliant but mere inchoate performances. In 1798, he proposed to
deliver a series of lectures in Lincoln's Inn, on the Law of Nature and
of Nations. The doors were closed against him, because of his supposed
Jacobinical principles--the Benchers of that conservative corporation
not wishing to have the doctrines of the _Vindiciæ Gallicæ_ promulgated
in their halls. Mackintosh published his introductory lecture to refute
the charge of Jacobinism, and it was so tinctured with Burkeism, and so
philosophical and eloquent, that it captivated Pitt, who persuaded the
Chancellor to recommend the opening of the Inn. It was done, and
Mackintosh entranced a learned audience throughout his gorgeous course.

His next attractive performance was the defense of Peltier, a French
refugee, the editor of the _Ambigu_, for an alleged libel on Napoleon,
the First Consul. His oration (for it partook little of the character of
a speech at the bar) in vindication of the liberty of the press was
pronounced by Lord Ellenborough, the chief justice, to be the most
eloquent address ever delivered in Westminster Hall. Madame de Stael
sent it through Europe in a French translation, and it secured for its
author a continental reputation. And in our day and country it is read
by thousands who have hardly heard of any other production of his tongue
or pen. His lectures and his oration not only gave him celebrity, but,
what he needed quite as much, a little money; and they brought him an
offer of a judicial station at Bombay. Still pressed by pecuniary
embarrassments, after much reluctance, he consented to be banished, with
his wife and children, from his native land, to an inhospitable clime
amongst a strange people. For nearly eight years he discharged his
judicial duties with fidelity, but through every month of those years
he sighed for his country and its healthy breezes, his associates and
their brilliant society. He relieved the tedium of his expatriation by
making some researches into Oriental institutions, by founding a
literary club at Bombay, and by indulging, in his desultory way, in
classical and philosophical pursuits. His study and administration of
the criminal laws of India turned his attention to the subject which
occupied so large a share of his subsequent Parliamentary life--the
penal code of England.

The generous and philanthropic mind which had prompted the extension of
the right-hand of fellowship to the emancipated masses of France, in
1791, and which, forty years later, was stretched forth to break the
chains from the limbs of the West India bondmen, was not slow to see
that the criminal code of his own country was the legitimate offspring
of a black and bloody age. Returning to England in 1811, he entered
Parliament in 1813, where he remained until his death, in 1832. He
promptly took his seat by the side of his friends, Brougham and Romilly,
and threw his great soul into the contest of the People with the Crown.
The important questions growing out of the European and American wars,
in regard to the rights of neutrals, were then pending, and he joined
Brougham in advocating liberal measures. And, to the end of his
legislative career, on all questions of foreign policy and continental
combinations, on the alien bill and the liberty of the press, on
Catholic emancipation and the abolition of slavery, on the recognition
of South American independence and the settlement of Greece, on the
education of the poor and the freedom of trade, on the relief of the
Dissenters and Parliamentary reform, he was ever found on the side of
justice and humanity. For a short period he was the leader of the
liberal party in the Commons, but he soon relinquished the post to the
more daring and robust Brougham. Indeed, Sir James had not the capacity
for leading a popular body like the House of Commons. He was too
indolent in mastering dry details, too little of a business man, and
his style of oratory was too philosophical, classical, and refined, to
produce the best effect on such an assembly. He spoke over the heads of
country squires and men of the 'change, who could not translate his
Greek and Latin quotations, nor catch the point of his learned
allusions, nor see precisely what these had to do with the traffic in
corn or negroes, or the overthrow of the Holy Alliance abroad, or the
uprooting of rotten boroughs at home. When Hume figured before the
House, with his bales of statistics, these plain men could arrive at the
sum total of what he was at. When Canning's arrows whirled about the
heads of the Opposition, they could see them quivering in the flesh of
his antagonists. When Romilly's eloquence wafted gently over them, they
were refreshed and delighted. And even when Brougham shook the walls
like an earthquake, they understood why they held so fast to their
seats. But Mackintosh's Plato and Priam, his Homer and his Helicon, were
"Greek" to them. His speeches were better adapted to be read in the
library of the scholar than to be heard in the Commons House of
Parliament. It was these defects in his oratory, and his utter want of
all taste for business, and his indolent and immethodical habits, which
kept him behind men of inferior talents and acquirements while his party
was in opposition, and gave him no prominent place in its counsels when
it assumed the reins of Government. Sydney Smith, in a characteristic
letter to Sir James's son, writes thus: "Curran, the Master of the
Rolls, said to Grattan, 'You would be the greatest man of your age,
Grattan, if you would buy a few yards of red tape, and tie up your bills
and papers.' This was the fault or misfortune of your excellent father.
He never knew the use of red tape, and was utterly unfit for the common
business of life."

Mackintosh was a man of the purest benevolence and the liveliest
philanthropy. He held all his vast literary and philosophical
attainments cheap in comparison with his labors in the cause of
humanity. The friendless criminal, shuddering in the dock under the
frown of some heartless judge--the imbruted slave, writhing under the
lash of a task-master in the islands of the West--the yeoman at his
plow, deprived of the electoral rights which the very sods he tilled
could enjoy--the educated Dissenter and Catholic, shut out from stations
of honor and trust for refusing a test which stained their consciences,
were all advanced to a higher civilization and a broader field of civil
and religious freedom, by his aid. He was the zealous co-worker of
Wilberforce and Clarkson, of Brougham and Buxton, of Sturge and
Lushington, in the work of negro emancipation. His last, greatest,
speech in Parliament was on the Reform Bill. Bulwer says of it: "I shall
never forget the extensive range of ideas, the energetic grasp of
thought, the sublime and soaring strain of legislative philosophy, with
which he charmed and transported me." Before such services as he
rendered to the cause of man, how all the acquisitions and displays of
the scholar and the metaphysician grow pale!

I have spoken of his intimacy with ROBERT HALL. There was a striking
similarity in the structure of their minds and in their literary tastes.
The politician was a classical, philosophical lawyer and
Parliamentarian. The divine was a classical, philosophical theologian
and preacher. Each was fond of abstract speculation--each was a profound
and original reasoner and thinker--each reveled in the literature of the
ancients--each was a writer of whom any nation or age might be proud.
Hall much excelled his friend in the high walks of oratory, and the
power of riveting, of transfixing an auditory, and holding them
spell-bound while he played with their passions and emotions with
masterly skill. The first pulpit orator of his day, in the zenith of his
fame he could attract a greater crowd of rare men than any other
preacher in the metropolis or the country. The same cannot be affirmed
of Mackintosh in the theater where he displayed his forensic powers. The
speech which so transported Bulwer _in_ the House of Commons, because
of defects in the delivery transported half the members _out_ of it.
Each shone no less in the social circle than in the forum. While
Mackintosh was the more ornate and classical talker, Hall surpassed him
in keen sarcasm and solid argument. The conversational talents of Hall
were more appreciable by ordinary capacities, his style being racy,
off-hand, bold. Mackintosh was fitted to be the companion of polite
scholars and learned critics, and his conversation was more showy,
dazzling, and prepared. The wit of Hall, when in full play, approached
to drollery, and his sarcasm cut to the bone. The wit of Mackintosh was
Attic, and his sarcasm refined and delicate. Hall crushed a pedantic
fool with a single blow of his truncheon. Mackintosh tossed him on the
end of his lance. Hall made no effort to shine in society, and all his
good things seemed to bubble up naturally from a full fountain, whilst
his strength was reserved for public exhibitions, where he shone in
splendor. Mackintosh elaborated his social effusions, (and it was his
weakness,) and his best things gushed like _jet d'eaus_ from prepared
reservoirs; and if he failed to win applause at St. Stephen's, he was
sure to be the center of attraction at Holland House. Hall put down
upstartism like a judge at _nisi prius_ rebuking a shallow barrister for
contempt of court. Mackintosh pricked the gas-bag with the delicate
instrument of his irony. Hall was loved by his friends. Mackintosh was
admired by his associates. Each was a philanthropist and reformer, and
each in his sphere was in advance of his times in catholicity of spirit,
boldness of speculation, and freedom from the cant of party and sect.

The works of Mackintosh are numerous--though some of his best writings
hardly deserve to be called _works_, in the incomplete state in which he
left them. Besides those already mentioned, there may be noted many rich
contributions to the Edinburgh Review and other periodicals--some
Parliamentary and anniversary speeches--a beautiful life of Sir Thomas
More--an acute and eloquent dissertation in the Encyclopedia Britannica
on the General View of the Progress of Ethical Philosophy--and a
Fragment of English History concerning the Revolution of 1688.

During his lifetime, Sir James was abused by the Tories; nor did the
tirade cease at his death. Somewhat covetous of fame, and utterly
reckless of gold, he left little to his children, except a brilliant
reputation and principles that can never die.


     Religious Toleration--Eminent Nonconformists--The Puritans--Oliver
     Cromwell--The Pilgrims--The Corporation and Test Acts--Their
     Origin--Their Effects upon Dissenters and others--Their virtual
     Abandonment and final Repeal--The first Triumph of the Reformers.

For centuries it was a settled maxim in England, that the only sure way
to convert a heretic was to put him to death. All dominant sects have
been persecutors in their turn. The Papists burnt the Episcopalians, the
Episcopalians decapitated the Puritans, and the Puritans hung the
Quakers. With the advancing light of civilization, the dungeon and the
pillory were substituted for the scaffold and the stake. Then, as each
sect had the power, it imprisoned, scourged, and cropped the others. At
length, bigotry was satisfied with imposing pecuniary fines and civil
disabilities on schismatics. Though it is long since the nostrils of a
dominant sect in England have been regaled with the incense of a
roasting heretic, it is only twenty years since the Established Church
of that country erased from the statute book the grosser penalties
against the exercise of the rights of conscience, leaving a sufficient
number unrepealed to operate as a terror to evil doers, and a praise and
a profit to them that do not "dissent."

The struggle between Right and Prerogative, which has agitated the
kingdom for the past half century, has not been confined to civil
institutions. The miter of the archbishop has not been deemed more
sacred from scrutiny than the crown of the monarch. The Church as well
as the State has been shaken by the earthquake tread of Reform.
Prominent among the divines of our time, who have materially contributed
to these results, stand Robert Hall, John Angell James, Ralph Wardlaw,
Thomas Chalmers, and Baptist W. Noel. But the tree of Toleration, whose
fruits the people of England are now gathering, was planted long ago by
hallowed hands. Distinguished among those who, in the expressive phrase
of Burke, early preached and practiced "the dissidence of Dissent, and
the protestantism of the Protestant religion," are Baxter, Owen, Calamy,
Howe, Flavel, Henry, Bunyan, Bates, Doddridge, Law, Watts, and Fuller;
names illustrious in the annals of Nonconformity, whose writings exerted
a wide influence among their cotemporaries, and in our day are the text
books of the profoundest theologians, and the solace and guide of the
most humble and devout of the unlearned classes.

In tracing the origin of recent reforms in the ecclesiastical
institutions of England, due credit should be given to the Puritans of
the times of Cromwell. In the convulsions of 1642-9, the English Church
establishment, the power which had held the national conscience in awe
for more than a century, was overthrown, and Puritanism became the
prevailing religion of the Commonwealth. The professors of the new faith
were distinguished for a strange mixture of austere piety and wild
fanaticism--the natural product of the times in which they lived. No
wonder they were guilty of excesses. The tightest band breaks with the
wildest power. Their extravagances were the spontaneous out-gush of the
soul, when freedom of opinion, suddenly let loose from the thraldom of
ages, found itself in a large place. Our Puritan fathers of the
seventeenth century, by the recoil of the revolutionary wave, found
themselves standing on the _terra firma_ of the rights of conscience,
high above the reach of the returning surge. They must have been more
than mortal, had they not roamed far and wide over the fair country
which spread its tempting landscape around them. No wonder they
indulged in wild speculations, and made extravagant investments, in
those then unexplored regions. They were like captives suddenly released
from the galling chains and stifling atmosphere of the slave ship, who
tread Elysian fields and inhale the intoxicating air of God's unfettered
winds. It is an evidence of their sincerity that they carried their
religion into everything, even their fighting and their politics. Bodies
of their troops, often dispensing with what they denominated the carnal
drum and fife, marched to the harmony of David's Psalms, sung to the
tunes of Mear and Old Hundred. Sermons, extending in length to six and
eight mortal hours, were preached to the regiments, by chaplains mounted
on artillery carriages. The camp of the revolutionists was not more the
scene of rigid military drilling, than of warm discussions on the five
cardinal points of their faith. The Roundheads in Parliament engaged in
debates on original sin, and the scriptural mode of baptism, as well as
upon laws concerning the civil and military affairs of the State. The
very names which figure in the transactions of those times indicate the
spirit of the age. There was Praise-God Barebones, Kill-sin Pimple,
Smite-them-hip-and-thigh Smith, Through-much-tribulation-we-enter-into-
the-kingdom-of-heaven Jones--names as familiar as those of John Hampden
and Harry Vane. What happier illustration of Cromwell's intuitive
knowledge of the men he commanded, than his brief bulletin, pronounced
at the head of his army, on the eve of one of the decisive battles of
the revolution, fought under a drizzling rain, "_Soldiers trust in God;
and keep your powder dry!_" Faith and works.

OLIVER CROMWELL, _the_ man of his age, and whose impartial biography is
yet unwritten, was the soul of old Puritanism, and the warrior-apostle
of religious toleration. He maintained this priceless principle in
stormy debate, on the floor of Parliament, against the passive obedience
of the Churchman, and the uniformity of the Presbyterian, and defended
it amid the blaze and roar of battle against the brilliant gallantry of
Rupert and the fiery assaults of Lesley. The "Ironsides" of the
revolutionary forces, composed of the Independents of Huntingdonshire,
constituting the "Imperial guard" of the republican army, were raised
and disciplined by Cromwell. Through long training, in the camp and the
conventicle, he had fired them with a hatred of kingly and priestly
tyranny, which, in after years, on many a field, under his leadership,
swept to ruin the legions of an arrogant court and hierarchy. The
historic pen of England has done injustice to him and to them. The
reason is obvious. That pen has not been held by their friends, but
their enemies. For a hundred years succeeding Cromwell's time, the
English scholar and historian was dependent on the rich and noble, in
Church and State, for patronage and bread. He must have been a rare man
who coveted opprobrium and penury, by writing against civil and
ecclesiastical institutions, hoary with age and venerated by the great
mass of his countrymen. And these very institutions Cromwell and his
followers had temporarily overthrown. He assisted at the death of the
monarch--they aided to prostrate the church--bringing kings and
subjects, bishops and curates, to a common level. Can we expect the
leveled to do justice to the leveler? English historians have written of
him and them as the beaten always write of the beaters--as the scattered
of the scatterers--the vanquished of the victors. Admitting their
extravagances and their austere sectarianism, the impartial pen will
record of the Puritans of 1645, that they exhibited many of the fruits
of a sincere piety, and fostered the germ of that toleration which
blends the dignity of free thought with the humility of Christian
charity. Their descendants have exhibited all the heroic virtues of
their fathers, tempered with the liberalizing influences of succeeding
generations. Eminent for learning and piety, they have been the patrons
of all the arts which adorn and purify mankind, and, in the darkest
hours of the party of progress and reform, have been true to the good
cause. The scion from the parent stock, planted by the Pilgrims at
Plymouth, in 1620, struck its roots deep into our American soil, and
myriads of master minds in all the States of the Confederacy now repose
under its overshadowing foliage, and pluck the fruits of civil and
religious freedom from its spreading branches.

The power of the Established Church received a blow in the civil wars,
from which it never fully recovered. At the Restoration, under Charles
II, it took advantage of a real or fancied dread of the increase of
Popery in the kingdom, to seduce Dissenters into an acquiescence in the
adoption of laws favoring Episcopal supremacy, and which were
subsequently employed to oppress Protestant Nonconformists. The chief of
these were the _Corporation_ and _Test Acts_, to the enactment,
operation, and final repeal of which, the reader's attention is invited.

Says the complacent Blackstone, "In order the better to secure the
Established Church against perils from Nonconformists of all
denominations, Infidels, Turks, Jews, Heretics, Papists, and
Sectaries--there are two bulwarks erected, called the Corporation and
Tests Acts. By the former, (enacted in 1661,) no person can be legally
elected to any office relating to the government of any city or
corporation, unless, within a twelvemonth before he has received the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Church of
England; and he is also enjoined to take the oaths of allegiance and
supremacy at the same time that he takes the oath of office; or, in
default of either of these requisites, such election shall be void. The
other, called the Test Act, (enacted in 1683,) directs all officers,
civil and military, to take the oaths and make the declaration against
transubstantiation, in any of the King's courts at Westminster, or at
the quarter sessions, within six months after their admission; and,
also, within three months to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
according to the usage of the Church of England, in some public church,
immediately after divine service and sermon, and to deliver into court a
certificate thereof, signed by the minister and churchwardens, and also
to prove the same by two credible witnesses, upon forfeiture of £500,
and disability to hold the same office." The disabilities operated still
further. By subsequent enactments, if any person held office without
submitting to the tests, he was not only fined £500, but was forever
incapacitated from prosecuting any action in the courts of law or
equity, from being the guardian of a child, or the executor or
administrator of a deceased person, or receiving a legacy. By subsequent
legislation, the same tests, except the sacrament, were exacted of
various classes of persons not holding civil or military offices, such
as dissenting ministers, practitioners of the law, teachers of schools
or pupils, members of colleges who had attained the age of eighteen, &c.

As has been stated, the Corporation and Test Acts were passed when
England was alarmed at a threatened invasion of Popery, and their
penalties were intended to be aimed chiefly at Papists, though their
sweeping provisions included all classes of Nonconformists. The
Protestant dissenters, through fear or hatred of the Catholics,
consented to be placed under the general anathema, with a sort of
understanding that, when the danger was over, they should be relieved
from its pressure. They lived long enough to repent of their folly.

These acts were not only a gross violation of the rights of conscience,
but were injurious to the public weal in many respects, and beneficial
in none. Whilst they never made one Christian, they deprived the State
of the services of many of its best and bravest citizens, drove much of
learning and piety from the pulpit, and genius and promise from the
university. By making the profession of a particular creed a necessary
qualification for office, and the reception of the Lord's Supper
according to a prescribed ritual the passport to civil and
ecclesiastical advancement, they degraded the holiest rites of religion,
brought annually to the communion-table of the Establishment thousands
of hypocrites, and placed constantly at its altars hundreds of
horse-racing and fox-hunting clergymen. They were a perpetual source of
annoyance to dissenters who would not barter their faith for place and
pelf, by subjecting them to prosecutions for refusing to qualify
themselves for offices to which they had been maliciously elected, to be
followed by ruinous fines or long imprisonments. In a single year (1736)
£20,700 were raised from fines imposed on dissenters, who
conscientiously refused to serve in the office of sheriff; and for a
long time it was the custom of municipal corporations to elect
dissenters to office, and then enrich their coffers from fines levied
upon them for refusing to receive the qualifying tests. At length, the
common oppression drove Protestant and Catholic dissenters into a
formidable union for the restoration of their common rights, and
engendered a hatred of the Established Church, its clergy, its creed,
and its ordinances, which twenty years of qualified toleration have not
been able to abate or scarcely to mitigate.

Repeated efforts were made for the repeal of these acts. Protestant
dissenters, having suffered their penalties for nearly a century, grew
numerous and influential, when Parliament, instead of boldly meeting the
question of repeal, began to exercise that temporizing cunning so
characteristic of British legislation, and grudgingly ameliorated a
grievance which it had not the grace to wholly abrogate. It commenced
the practice of passing, at the close of each session, amnesty bills,
exempting dissenters, who had violated the acts, from the operation of
their penalties; and so framing the bills as to cover not only past
offenses, but all which might be committed before the close of the next
session, when another bill would be enacted. This relieved dissenters
from practical oppression under these acts, for some eighty years
previous to their final repeal.

But, so intelligent and high-minded a portion of the State were not
content to receive rights inherent and immutable, as an annual boon from
the legislature. The struggle for unqualified repeal never ceased till
the disgraceful acts were blotted from the statute book. On the 26th of
February, 1828, was struck the first successful blow against the
supremacy of the Church of England since the Restoration. Lord John
Russell moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee to take
into consideration the regulations of the Corporation and Test Acts. A
stormy debate followed, in which Bigotry and Power made a desperate
stand for victory. A division showed 237 for the motion, and 193 against
it. In committee, Ministers entreated earnestly for delay, but a
resolution was adopted for the instant repeal of the acts. A bill, based
on this resolution, was introduced, and passed its second reading. The
Bishop of Oxford rent his robes, and Lord Eldon shed many tears--but all
in vain. After witnessing the temper of the House, Mr. Peel declared
that he was prepared to dismiss from his mind every idea of adhering to
the existing laws, and only asked for some slight modifications in the
pending bill. His request being complied with, Ministers withdrew from
the contest, and speedily the Corporation and Test Acts, the offspring
of a grim and bigoted age, ceased to be the law of the realm.

This was the first cardinal measure which the modern reformers had
carried through Parliament (the abolition of the slave trade and the
melioration of the criminal code were advocated by the chiefs of both
parties) during a conflict of nearly half a century. It was hailed as an
era in the contests of the People with the Crown; the harbinger of
better days to come; and was the first in a series of still more
glorious achievements.


     Ireland--The Causes of its Debasement--Dublin--Mementoes of the
     Captivity of the Country--Movements toward Catholic
     Emancipation--Its Early Champions--Mr. Grattan--Mr.
     Plunkett--Reverend Sydney Smith.

Before specially considering Catholic Emancipation, I will notice two or
three persons who participated in the long struggle which prepared the
way for this great measure of religious toleration. The act of
Emancipation extended to Catholics alike in all parts of the United
Kingdom. But, as the large majority of the professors of that faith
dwelt in Ireland, and as they composed nearly seven-eighths of its
people, and as it was there that the long and fierce conflict was waged
which ultimately compelled English Protestants to yield to their
Catholic fellow-subjects the rights of toleration which they themselves
enjoyed, this was regarded as emphatically an Irish reform.

Ireland! What a throng of associated ideas start to life at the mention
of that name! How varied their aspect--how contradictory their
character--how antagonistic the emotions they kindle, the sentiments
they inspire. Ireland, the land of genius and degradation, of vast
resources and pinching poverty, of noble deeds and revolting crimes, of
valiant resistance to tyranny and obsequious submission to usurpation.
Ireland, the land of splendid orators, charming poets, and brave
soldiers; the land of ignorance, abjectness, and beggary; measureless in
its capacities, stinted in its products, a strange anomaly, a
complication of contradictions.

Though this portraiture, sketched by no unfriendly hand, be but a rude
outline, does it not shadow forth the original? Why are its darker
colors no less faithful delineations of the prominent features than the
brighter? The very problem which a whole century has not been able to
solve! The British Tory will point to what he calls "the malign
character of the Irish," as the prime cause of the debasement and
wretchedness which exist among them. The British Whig, whose zeal for
Protestantism, as a mere _ism_, has clouded his judgment, will assign
the general prevalence of the Catholic religion in the island, as the
source of most of the evils which afflict it. The genuine Irishman, who
regards his native isle as the greenest and fairest the sun ever smiled
to shine upon, will tell you that, giving due weight to many obvious but
secondary influences, the degradation and misery which debase and crush
such masses of his countrymen must be ascribed to the fact that Ireland,
which could once boast of national independence, a regal sovereign, and
a royal Parliament, is now a mere appendage to the English Crown,
without a name, a flag, or a Senate; an oppressed colony crouching under
a hated yoke of vassalage; a captive province paying tribute to a
conqueror, who, having robbed it of nationality, appoints its rulers,
dictates its laws, prescribes its ritual, plunders its wealth, tarnishes
its reputation, and scoffs at its complainings.

Waiving till another occasion the question whether the prime cause of
Ireland's miseries does not lie deeper than her compulsory and unnatural
union with Great Britain, let us enter a little further into the
feelings of the struggling Irishman. Go with him to Dublin. A beautiful
city--one of the fairest in the United Kingdom. But, its beauty is that
of the fading flower nipped by the untimely frost--the beauty of the
chiseled marble, rather than of the living, acting, speaking man.
Consumptive, pale, listless, it lacks the bloom, the freshness, the
vivacity of conscious health. Its manufactures, its domestic trade, its
foreign commerce, since the union with England, have dwindled under the
shadow of its towering rival beyond the channel, until its market days
are as somber as a London Sabbath. Its dull streets and slumbering
wharves, yea, the very gait and air of its populace, give token that its
prosperity is arrested by the hand of decay, whilst its magnificent
public edifices seem to stand only as tame and melancholy monuments of
its departed greatness and glory. From the proud capital of an
independent nation, Dublin has degenerated to the chief mart of a
dependent province, whose owners are "absentee proprietors," whose
husbandmen pay their rents to foreign landlords, whose merchants are the
mere agents of distant capitalists, and whose nobles are proud to hide
their Irish stars under English ribbons.

Everything in Dublin reminds the Irishman of the captivity of his
country. He feels a blighting shame when he conducts a stranger through
the stately halls of the Bank of Ireland; for there the Lords and
Commons of the Emerald Isle once legislated. He is pained when you extol
the grandeur of this noble building; for, to his eye, its glory has
faded and fled. Walk with him through that broad and beautiful avenue,
Sackville street, and your praise of its elegant mansions only reminds
him that the Irish nobility that once resided there have gone to swell
the brilliant pageant of the conqueror at Hyde Park and St. James's
Palace. Wander with him amidst the filth and squalor of the lanes of the
city, and he points to wretchedness and want as the fruits of English
legislation. Go with him to the Castle, and, as the soldiery file
through its turreted gate, clad in the uniform of the Saxon, he regards
them not as the troops of a legitimate ruler, but as the trained
assassins of an alien despot.

With such mementoes of the departed power and present captivity of
Ireland, meeting his eye at every turn, was it not natural that the
genuine Irishman, who submitted to the rule of England for the same
reason that the slave wears the chain of his master, should, with the
free blood which his Creator gave him boiling in his veins, twenty
years ago present to his oppressor the alternative of civil war or
unqualified toleration in the exercise of his hereditary religious
faith--that nine years ago he should rush to Conciliation Hall, and
agitate for his civil rights under the motto, "No People, strong enough
to be a Nation, should consent to be a Province"--and that in the past
year, when the last hope of civil emancipation by peaceful means had
died out, and all Europe was in arms, casting away the chains of ages,
he should light the fires of revolution on the hights of Tipperary,
resolved to strike one despairing blow for the deliverance of a
long-oppressed country? He who would brand Washington a traitor, may
sink the iron into the foreheads of Mitchel, O'Brien, and Meagher.

Prominent among the early champions of Catholic Emancipation, stood MR.
GRATTAN. To prove that, for nearly a century past, Ireland has
constantly exhibited on the floor of the British Commons some of the
most eloquent men who have swayed the councils of the United Kingdom, I
only need mention the names of Burke, Flood, Sheridan, Grattan,
Plunkett, O'Connell, and Shiel. Perhaps Canning may be included in the
list. Both his parents were pure Irish, and he was, as it were,
accidentally born in England. In this galaxy, Grattan shone unrivaled,
except by Burke and Canning. He was the equal of the latter in many
respects--his superior in some. As a practical Parliamentarian, he ranks
scarcely below the former. And he stands at the head of all of his
countrymen who have been strictly _Irish_ members, representing Irish

Graduating at Dublin, and entering the Middle Temple, London, in 1767,
when just turned 21, Grattan was an eager observer, from the galleries
of the Lords and Commons, of the fierce struggles of North, Grenville,
Chatham, and Burke, then in the zenith of their fame. Throwing Coke and
Plowden on the dusty shelf, he employed his leisure hours in writing
sketches of these "Battles of the Giants," for the perusal of his Irish
friends. He became enamored of politics, and resolved to shine in the
Parliament of his native island. Some of his sketches found their way
into the Dublin newspapers, and their point and power gave plausibility
to the charge at one time made, that he was the author of Junius. In
answer to a direct application to him, in 1805, to know if he were the
famous author, he laconically replied:

  "SIR: I am not 'Junius,' but your good wisher and obedient
  servant, HENRY GRATTAN."

On his permanent return to Ireland, he immediately connected himself
with the opposition to the Vice-Regal Government, opening the attack by
a series of newspaper articles in vindication of Irish rights, which
attracted much attention, and came near subjecting him to a royal
prosecution. From that moment, he gave his whole mind and soul to public
affairs, and, during the subsequent fifty years, every page of Irish
history records his name, associated with some measure for the
amelioration of Irish wrongs. He is the author of what is miscalled
"Irish Independence." On the accession of George III to the throne, the
government of Ireland was then, as it is now, the chief difficulty of
Ministers. During the American Revolutionary war, intestine commotions,
from the incendiary proceedings of the "Whiteboys," (a rabble band which
fired the houses of the landlords, and now and then put to death a
non-complying tenant,) and the danger of invasion from France, impelled
the middle classes to petition Government for succor and protection.
They were frankly told that no aid could be afforded them, and they must
take care of themselves. Acting on this license, a volunteer militia was
enrolled in all parts of the island, the Government furnishing arms,
which swelled till it numbered 100,000 men, of the bone and sinew of
Ireland. The "Whiteboys" shrunk into the caves, the threatened invasion
was abandoned, and the popular leaders, who had been active in mustering
the volunteers, took advantage of their strong position to demand the
removal of onerous restrictions on Irish commerce, and the amelioration
of the Catholic penal code. The British Government essentially modified
the commercial regulations between the two countries, and though some of
the darker features of the code were relaxed, it still remained a
disgrace to civilization. The greatest burden yet existed--_the
supremacy of the British Parliament over Irish affairs_. Emboldened by
success, an attempt was made to procure its repeal. Flood, the rival of
Grattan, demanded a distinct disavowal, by the British Parliament, of
the right to govern Ireland. Grattan, who had the hearts of his
countrymen in his hand, avowed that he would be satisfied if Britain
would repeal all existing laws interfering with Irish rights. The
measure was adopted, and the Irish Parliament became the supreme
legislature of Ireland, subject to the supervision of the King in
Council. Hibernia was intoxicated with joy, and, in the fervor of their
gratitude, the countrymen of Grattan voted him £50,000. Thus, in 1782,
was _quasi_ legislative independence granted to Ireland. But British
gold and intrigue were ever able to seduce the integrity and distract
the counsels of its legislators, till, eighteen years afterward, all was
obliterated in the Act of Union. It was in allusion to the rise and fall
of legislative independence that Grattan, years subsequently, so
beautifully said, "I watched its cradle; I followed its bier." During
these eighteen years, he did all that great talents and vigilant
patriotism could to secure the prosperity and save the honor of his
native land. The leader of the liberals in the Irish Parliament, he
resisted the oppressions of the Saxon, and spurned his bribes, and
appealed to Hibernia to be true to herself, and to maintain her national
identity. Exasperated beyond endurance, Irish patriotism fomented the
rebellion of 1798-9, which precipitated upon the heads of the "United
Irishmen" the whole weight of British hatred and revenge. The scaffold
ran blood, and the cheek of Ireland turned pale. In 1799, Pitt proposed
the Union. Undaunted by the defection around him, Grattan, in the Irish
Commons, resisted it with such vehement eloquence, that it was postponed
till the next year. In the mean time, British gold proved more potent
than its bayonets. Half the Irish Parliament was bribed into compliance
with England's base proposals, and in 1800, after a last effort to rally
the drooping spirits of his countrymen, Grattan followed the bier of
Hibernian Independence to its resting place in St. Stephen's Chapel.
Said his compatriot, young Emmet, the martyr, about to perish upon the
scaffold, "When Ireland becomes a nation, let my epitaph be written!"
Forty years afterward, in the midst of an excited throng, in the Dublin
Corn Exchange, I heard O'Connell say, "Men of Ireland! I swear by your
wrongs that Ireland shall yet become a nation!" Those wrongs are yet
unavenged, the vow is yet unredeemed, the epitaph unwritten. BUT THEY

Grattan entered the British Parliament in 1805, where he remained till
his death, in 1820. Ever in the front rank of Reformers, he was the
special champion of Catholic emancipation, divided the House almost
every year, and frequently two or three times in a session, on various
propositions looking to ultimate emancipation, but without success; and
in his last effort was defeated by only two majority--an earnest that
the "good time" was coming. He met with the common misfortune of
displeasing the ultras of both parties. He asked too little to please
the extreme Catholics--too much to win the favor of the extreme
Protestants. He asked for a part, and got nothing. At a later day,
O'Connell demanded the whole, and got the greater part. History is
philosophy teaching by examples.

Grattan was a model orator. His style had the genius, the enthusiasm,
the brilliancy, the pathos, which mark Hibernian eloquence, and was
divested of many of those peculiarities which often mar the forensic
displays of a country where, as an accomplished Irishman says, "you may
kick an orator out of every bush." If he was fertile in illustrations,
he was redundant in principles--if his speech was replete with epigram,
it abounded in terse reasoning--if it sparkled with wit, it was luminous
in its calmer statements--if it blighted with its sarcasm, it mellowed
with its pathos--if it was charged with the lightning of invective, it
was freighted with the most ponderous argument--if it could wither a
groveling enemy with its scorn, it could persuade a manly opponent with
its logic. Nor did he overlay the solid parts of his oratory with the
lighter graces of declamation, nor smother them under a redundancy of
poetical illustration. He was a master of the compressed, nervous,
rapid, racy style of argumentation--the very perfection of the art.

On the death of this great man, the cause of Catholic emancipation fell
under the guidance of MR. PLUNKETT, who, next to him, was the ablest
Irish representative in the Commons. Sir James Mackintosh sketches him,
in one of his dashing conversational profiles, thus: "If Plunkett had
come earlier into Parliament, so as to have learned the trade, he would
probably have excelled all our orators. He and Counselor Phillips (or
O'Garish, as he is nicknamed here) are at the opposite points of the
scale. O'Garish's style is pitiful to the last degree. He ought, by
common consent, to be driven from the bar." Plunkett brought to his work
a true Irish heart, talents of the first class, eloquence cast in a rare
mold, and a reputation unsurpassed at the Dublin bar. He bore a
conspicuous part in all those violent throes, in and out of Parliament,
in regard to Catholic emancipation, which convulsed the country from
1820 to 1829, and drove Ireland to the borders of rebellion. He won
several partial triumphs over Ministers, preliminary to the granting of
the great boon in the latter year, when the kingdom held its breath
while O'Connell, the dreaded "Agitator," appeared at the bar of the
Commons, to demand his seat for the county of Clare. When the Whigs rose
to power, in 1830, Mr. Plunkett was made Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Even this meager notice of the early friends of Catholic emancipation
would be incomplete without the name of SYDNEY SMITH, the founder of the
Edinburgh Review. Of all English Protestants, out of Parliament, he
rendered the most effective aid to that cause. In six or eight articles
in that influential periodical, in an equal number of speeches and
sermons, and as many pamphlets, he pressed the Catholic claims upon
public attention during twenty-five years, in a style which no mortal
man but Sydney Smith could do. He did not so much argue the claims of
the Catholics as ridicule the fears of their opponents. And never were
wit, drollery, humor, irony, and sarcasm, rained down upon a bad cause
in greater variety or rarer quality. He fairly drowned the High Church
party in their own absurdities. His ten letters, signed Peter Plymley,
addressed to "My Brother Abraham, who lives in the country," are the
very effervescence of ridicule. They will be read when test acts are
remembered only to be execrated. They will preserve them from the
rottenness of oblivion. They are inimitable--capable of driving the
blues from the cloister of an Archbishop. In the preface to his works,
Mr. Smith says: "I have printed in this collection the letters of Peter
Plymley. The Government of that day took great pains to find out the
author. All that they _could_ find was, that they were brought to Mr.
Budd, the publisher, by the Earl of Lauderdale. Somehow or other it came
to be conjectured that I was that author. I have always denied it. But
finding that I deny it in vain, I have thought it might be as well to
include the letters in this collection. They had an immense circulation
at the time, and I think above 20,000 copies were sold." This is cool.
But the letters were _cooler_. They gibbeted the absurd opposition which
his Episcopal brethren made to emancipation, "without benefit of
clergy." The services of Mersrs O'Connell and Shiel will be noticed in
the next chapter.


     Catholic Emancipation--Antiquity and Power of the Papal
     Church--Treaty of Limerick--Catholic Penal Code of
     Ireland--Opinions of Penn, Montesquieu, Burke, and Blackstone,
     concerning it--Its Amelioration--Catholic Association of 1823--The
     Hour and the Man--Daniel O'Connell elected for Clare--Alarm in
     Downing Street--Duke of Wellington's Decision--Passage of the
     Emancipation Bill--Services of O'Connell and Shiel--The latter as
     an Orator.

The subject-matter of this chapter will be, the Catholic Penal Code, and
its repeal by act of Parliament, in 1829.

The antiquity and power of the Roman Hierarchy, and the sway it now
holds over 150,000,000 of people, diffused through all quarters of the
globe, is one of the most extraordinary facts in the history of the
Christian era. Whether the combined efforts of Protestanism to overthrow
it, during the next three centuries, will be more successful than during
the three since the Reformation, time only can show. In his review of
Ranke's History of the Popes, speaking of the Catholic Church, Macaulay
says: "She saw the commencement of all the governments, and of all the
ecclesiastical establishments, that now exist in the world; and we feel
no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She
was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain--before
the Frank had passed the Rhine--when Grecian eloquence still flourished
at Antioch--when idols were still worshiped in the temple of Mecca. And
she may still exist in undiminished vigor when some traveler from New
England shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a
broken arch of London Bridge, to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's."

Amongst the adherents to the Papal faith, none have shown a steadier
attachment to it, through all vicissitudes, than the Catholics of
Ireland. For centuries it has been the dominant, and at times almost
exclusive, religion of that country. Persecutions the most bigoted and
bloody have not abated the zeal and tenacity with which the Irish have
practiced and clung to their hereditary creed. The battle of the Boyne,
in 1690, was followed by the Treaty of Limerick, by which William of
Orange guaranteed in the most solemn terms religious toleration to his
Irish Catholic subjects. The treaty was to be binding upon him, his
heirs, and successors. But, a fear of the return of the banished
Catholic princes of the house of Stuart, mingled with a propagandist
zeal to convert Ireland to the doctrines of the Reformation, induced
England to disregard the stipulations of the Treaty of Limerick. Partly
by the direct legislation of the British Parliament, and partly through
the medium of the Pale, a _quasi_ Legislature of Ireland, the Catholic
Penal Code was introduced into that country. Like other branches of
British law, it was a piece of patchwork, the contribution of many
reigns. It received its worst features within twenty years after the
Treaty of Limerick. I will give a summary of its main provisions.

FIRST, _as to persons professing the Catholic religion_. No Papist could
take the real estate of his ancestor, either by descent or purchase; nor
purchase any real estate, nor take a lease for more than thirty-one
years; and if the profits of such lease exceeded a certain rate, the
land went to any Protestant informer. The conveyance of real estate in
trust for a Papist was void; nor could he inherit any, nor be in a line
of entail, but the estate descended to the next Protestant heir, as if
the Papist were dead. A Papist who turned Protestant succeeded to the
family estate; and an increase of jointure was allowed to Papist wives
on their turning Protestant; whilst, on the other hand, a Protestant
who turned Papist, or procured another to turn, was guilty of high
treason. Papist fathers were debarred, on a penalty of £500, from being
guardians of their children; and a Papist minor, who avowed himself a
Protestant, was immediately delivered to a Protestant guardian. No
Papist could marry a Protestant, and the priest celebrating the marriage
was to be hanged. Papists could not be barristers; and being
Protestants, if they married Papists they were to be treated as Papists.
It was a felony for a Papist to teach a school; to say or hear mass
subjected him to fine and a year's imprisonment; to aid in sending
another abroad, to be educated in the Popish religion, subjected the
parties to a fine, and disabled them to sue in law or equity, to be
executors and administrators, to take any legacy or gift, to hold any
office, and to a forfeiture of all their chattels, and all real estate
for life. No Papist could hold office, civil or military, sit in
Parliament, or vote at elections. Protestants, robbed by privateers in a
war with a Popish prince were to be indemnified by levies on the
property of Catholics alone.

SECOND, _as to Popish recusants_, i. e., persons not attending the
Established Church. Such Papists could hold no office, nor keep arms,
nor come within ten miles of London, on pain of £100, nor travel above
five miles from home without license, on pain of forfeiting all goods,
nor come to court on pain of £100, nor bring any action at law or
equity; and to marry, baptize, or bury such an one subjected the
offending priest to heavy penalties. A recusant married woman forfeited
two-thirds of her dower or jointure, nor could she be the executrix of
her deceased husband, nor have any part of his goods; and during
coverture she might be imprisoned, unless her husband redeemed her at
the rate of £10 per month. All other recusant females must renounce
Popery or quit the realm; and if they did not leave in a reasonable
time, or afterwards returned, they could be put to death.

THIRD _as to Popish priests_. Severe penalties were inflicted on them
for discharging their ecclesiastical functions anywhere, and if done in
England they were liable to perpetual imprisonment. Any such priest who
was born in England, and, having left, should come in from abroad, was
guilty of treason, and all who harbored him might be punished with
death. Rewards were given for discovering Popish clergy, and any person
refusing to disclose what he knew of their saying mass, or teaching
pupils, might be imprisoned a year. A Popish priest who turned
Protestant was entitled to £30 per annum. Besides this, they were
subject to all the penalties and disabilities of lay Papists.

FOURTH. Papists were excluded from grand juries; in all trials growing
out of the Penal Code, the juries were to be Protestants; and in any
trial on statutes for strengthening the Protestant interest, a Papist
might be peremptorily challenged.

In surveying the lineaments of such a Code, the blood of a statue might
glow with indignation, or chill with horror. It was inflicted on
Catholic Ireland by Protestant England, in the name of that Church which
claims to be the pillar and ground of the Christian faith. Well might
the mild William Penn be aroused to denounce it as inhuman, when
pleading before the House of Commons for toleration to the Quakers. Well
might the sagacious Montesquieu characterize it as cold-blooded tyranny.
Well might the philosophic Burke describe it "as a machine of wise and
elaborate contrivance, noted for its vicious perfection; and as
admirably fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of
a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever
proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man." Even Blackstone, who
usually selected his choicest eulogies for the darkest features of the
English law, was forced to say of this Code: "These laws are seldom
exerted to their utmost rigor; and, indeed, if they were, it would be
very difficult to excuse them." Yes, though in the times when the
"No-Popery" cry was at its hight, these laws were rigorously enforced,
yet, as the mellowing light of civilization increased, the more cruel
lay a dead letter on the statute book. But the whole hung over the head
of the Catholic, like the sword of Damocles, ready to drop at the breath
of any persecuting zealot or malicious informer.

This Code was essentially ameliorated in 1779, and again in 1793. Among
other concessions, the elective franchise was extended to Catholics,
though they were still excluded from Parliament. But, he who would bring
himself within the pale of these ameliorations, must submit to many
degrading and annoying requisitions, in the form of registrations,
oaths, subscriptions, declarations, &c. In a word, down to 1829, when it
was finally repealed, many of the worst features of the Code remained,
making it an offense for seven-eighths of the people of Ireland to
worship God according to the dictates of their consciences; subjecting
them to degrading tests or heavy penalties for exercising precious civil
and social rights; goading them with a thousand petty and provoking
annoyances, till they had come to be regarded as heathens while bowing
at Christian altars, and aliens to a Government under which they were
born, and to whose support they were compelled to contribute their blood
in war, and their money in peace. To all this, one may enter his
protest, while holding at arm's length the Catholic ritual. To worship
God according to the dictates of his own conscience, without human
molestation or earthly fear, is the divine right of every man, whether
he be Irish Catholic or English Protestant, Massachusetts freeman or
Louisiana slave.

Notwithstanding the important amendments made in the Catholic Code, in
1779 and 1793, its remaining disabilities and penalties hung over
Ireland like a dark cloud, shutting out the sun of civil and religious
freedom. In the latter year, an association was organized in Dublin, to
agitate and petition for Repeal. Though ultimately rent in pieces by
internal commotions, it was the germ of all subsequent organizations for
the same objects. During the succeeding thirty years, this question
frequently convulsed Parliament and the country. The remedies which the
British Government usually prescribed for the political and religious
diseases of Ireland were insurrection acts, coercion acts, suspensions
of the _habeas corpus_, capital trials, hangings, and transportation,
administered by the batons of the police and the bayonets of the

The year 1823 saw a bright star of promise arise on the dark and
troubled horizon of Hibernia. The exigencies of the times had healed the
feuds of hostile factions among the Emancipationists, and they closed
hands in defense of their common liberties. In May, of that year, Daniel
O'Connell and Richard Lalor Shiel, who had long been estranged from each
other, accidentally met among the mountains of Wicklow, at the house of
a friend. A reconciliation took place, and they resolved to form a
league for the deliverance of their enslaved Catholic countrymen. The
same month they organized the "Catholic Association," in Dublin, on the
plan of admitting all persons, of whatever sect or party, who approved
its objects. It early enrolled some of the first minds in the island,
who commenced an agitation which was soon felt in the fartherest corner
of the kingdom, nor stopped till it brought back responses from France,
Germany, the United States, Canada, the East Indies, and other distant
countries. It made the realm vocal with its orators, crowded Parliament
with its petitions, and scattered its tracts over the Continent.
O'Connell and Shiel were the life and soul of the Association; the
former being its chief manager, the latter its most brilliant advocate.

Undoubtedly some of the transactions of this almost omnipotent body were
of an inflammatory character. But it gave concentration and rational aim
to the efforts of the oppressed Irish, and, by exciting the hope of
relief, withdrew from them the temptation to illegal acts of violence.
The justice of its object, and the contempt which its petitions received
from Parliament, ultimately rallied to its standard the whole of the
Catholics and an influential portion of the dissenting Protestants of
Ireland. Alarmed at its power, the session of March, 1825, after a
stormy debate, passed an act terminating its existence. Immediately
after the adjournment of Parliament, the Association was reörganized,
with a constitution which did not come within the law. At the session of
1826, finding that the agitation could not be silenced, various efforts
were made to ameliorate the condition of Ireland. After spending five
months in vehement discussion, Parliament abandoned the country to the
rage of party spirit, and it was left for the well-directed labors of
the Association to prevent it from plunging into anarchy and revolution.

At the general election in the summer of 1826, the friends of
Emancipation took the field and achieved some signal triumphs in
returning members to Parliament. The Irish tenantry, the "forty-shilling
freeholders," who had generally been supple instruments in the hands of
the Protestant landlord, to perpetuate his domination and their chains,
had, by the labors of the Association, been converted into an engine to
overthrow the oppressors. They now voted with the Emancipators.

Canning rose to power in 1827. His professed regard for Catholic relief
induced Ireland to wait and see what would come from his ministry. His
early death quenched all hope of succor from his administration. After
the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts the next year, a struggle
for partial relief to the Catholics, which resulted successfully in the
Commons, but was defeated in the Lords, only stimulated the friends of
Emancipation to take a bolder step. The hour to strike the decisive blow
had come, and it brought with it the man.

In 1828, Mr. Fitzgerald, the member for Clare, received a place in the
cabinet, thus vacating his seat in the Commons. He was a candidate for
reëlection. The Catholic Association requested Mr. O'Connell to become a
candidate for the vacancy, and in his own person seek to establish the
right of Catholics to sit in Parliament. He immediately issued an
address to the electors of Clare, in which, among other things, he said:
"Fellow-countrymen, your county wants a representative. I respectfully
solicit your suffrages, to raise me to that station. * * * * You will be
told I am not qualified to be elected. The assertion is untrue. I am
qualified to be elected, and to be your representative. It is true that,
as a Catholic, I cannot, and of course never will, take the oaths at
present prescribed to members of Parliament. But the authority which
created those oaths can abrogate them. And I entertain a confident hope
that, if you elect me, the most bigoted of our enemies will see the
necessity of removing from the chosen representative of the people an
obstacle which would prevent him from doing his duty to his king and to
his country."

The address fell like a thunderbolt upon the enemies of Emancipation.
The friends of Fitzgerald would not believe it was the intention of
O'Connell to seriously contest the canvass. The speedy arrival of two of
his agents in Clare dispelled their doubts. The county was in a boil of
excitement. The day of election approaches. Shiel addresses a concourse
of electors. His eloquence inspires a wild enthusiasm in their hearts.
The time for the arrival of the great agitator himself is fixed. An
immense throng hails him, with banners, music, and shoutings. The trial
day comes, and the candidates appear before assembled thousands of the
electors. Fitzgerald delivers an able speech. O'Connell rises and
pronounces a magnificent harangue, which sways the passions of the
peasantry as forests wave when swept by the wing of the tempest. A
violent contest ensues, and at its close the high-sheriff declares that
"Daniel O'Connell, Esq., is duly elected a member of the Commons House
of Parliament for the county of Clare."

This unexpected result carried dismay into the councils of Downing
street; for they knew that O'Connell was soon to appear in London and
demand his seat in Parliament. His fame was no stranger to the place
where his person was unknown. His reputation had long ago penetrated
every mansion and cabin in the realm. The agitation of the past five
years, whose tread had shaken Ireland from Cape Clear to the Giant's
Causeway, had ever and anon caused the walls of St. Stephen's to
tremble. And now, what seemed so terrible in the distance, was to be
brought to its very doors. Parliament was not in session; but it had
been announced that ministers would oppose Mr. O'Connell's entrance into
the Commons. The declaration drove Ireland to the brink of civil war.
The commander of the forces conveyed to the ministry the alarming
intelligence, that the troops were fraternizing with the people, and
their loyalty could not be relied on in the event of an outbreak. All
minds not besotted with bigotry felt that the great right for which the
Association had contended must be conceded. The Duke of Wellington, then
at the head of the government, saw that the hour had come when either
his prejudices or his place must be surrendered. He decided that the
former must yield. Parliament was convened on the 5th of March, 1829. On
the first day of the session, Mr. Peel moved that the House go into
committee, "to take into consideration the civil disabilities of his
Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects." After two days' debate, it
prevailed. A bill of Emancipation was introduced. Ancient hatred was
aroused, and in five days sent in a thousand petitions against its
passage. The bill passed, after a severe struggle, and Mr. Peel carried
it to the Lords. A fierce contest ensued, but it was forced through by
the Iron Duke. On the 13th of April it received the royal assent, and
was hailed with joy by the friends of religious freedom, whilst bigotry
went growling to its den.

Mr. O'Connell appeared in the House to claim his seat. Having been
elected before the act of Emancipation, the ancient oaths were tendered
to him. He declined to take them. After tedious hearings before the
Committee of Elections, extending through several weeks, and a powerful
address at the bar of the House in support of his own right, his seat
was declared vacant. He returned to Ireland, and was everywhere hailed
as "the Liberator of his country." After walking over the course of
Clare, he repaired to Westminster, and "the member for all Ireland" took
his seat in the British House of Commons.

For this great concession to the Genius of Toleration, the age is
indebted to the Catholic Association, organized and sustained by
O'Connell and Shiel, the Castor and Pollux of Emancipation. No two men
were more perfect antagonisms in the prime elements of their characters,
and no two more harmoniously blended in the accomplishment of a common
object. Each supplied what was wanting in the other. O'Connell was
unsurpassed in planning, organizing, and executing, and his unique and
vigorous eloquence could stir to its bottom the ground tier of Irish
society. Shiel was rich in the highest gifts of oratory, ornate,
classical, impassioned, and could rouse the enthusiasm and intoxicate
the imaginations of the refined classes of his countrymen. The one
contributed to the work, the learning and skill of an acute lawyer, the
knowledge of a well-read historian of his country, an intimate
acquaintance with all the details of the great question at issue, and
business capacities of the first order. The other gave to it a
transcendent intellect, adorned with the genius of a poet, the graces of
a rhetorician, and the embellishments of a polite scholar. Both
consecrated to it intense nationality of feeling, quenchless
perseverance, and indomitable courage. Each yielded to the other the
exclusive occupancy of the peculiar field of labor to which his talents
were best adapted.

Mr. SHIEL was born in 1791. In his youth, he won a high literary
reputation as the author of two tragedies, _Evadne_ and _The Apostate_,
and some beautiful essays in the periodicals. He early acquired an
enviable reputation at the Dublin bar as an advocate. But "the guage and
measure of the man" were known to a comparatively small circle till his
splendid oratorical displays in defense of the principles and objects of
the Catholic Association made his fame coëxtensive with the empire. The
result of his services has been recorded. To apply to himself what he so
graphically said of Grattan, "The people of Ireland saw the pinnacles of
the Establishment shattered by the lightning of his eloquence." The
Emancipation bill opened to him the doors of Parliament. He entered its
hall in 1831, heralded by a reputation surpassing that with which most
orators have been content to leave that field of their triumphs. It is
the highest proof of the solidity of his reputation, that in this new
arena he increased the brilliancy of his fame, being a marked exception
to the rule, that orators who have become famous at the bar, or the
hustings, or on the platform, have failed to meet the public expectation
on encountering the severer tests of the House of Commons.

Several years ago I heard Mr. Shiel deliver a speech in Parliament, and
I retain a vivid impression of his powers. He seemed the very embodiment
of all that was gorgeous and beautiful in the arts of rhetoric and
oratory. His sentences rushed forth with the velocity of a mountain
torrent, while for an hour and a half he poured down upon the House a
ceaseless shower of metaphor, simile, declamation, and appeal, lighted
with the brilliant flashes of wit, and mingled with the glittering hail
of sarcasm. He belongs not to the best school of oratory, but is master
of that in which he was trained. There is no rant or fustian in his
speeches, for they are eminently intellectual. Though polished in the
extreme, they are pure ore, and sparkle with real gems. His ornaments
are lavishly put on, but are never selected from the tinsel and mock
diamond mine. His defect is, that he too much discards logic, and revels
in rhetoric. In discussing even an appropriation bill, his figures are
drawn less from the annual budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer
than from the perennial springs of Helicon. He aims to reach the heart,
not through the reason, but the reason and the heart through the
imagination. While his oratory lacks the logical power and majestic
strength which bear aloft the poetic imagery and affluent illustration
of Choate, it partakes largely of those embellishments that give
brilliancy and grace to the eloquence of our distinguished countryman.
He is no more like Brougham or Webster, than a dashing charge of Murat
at the head of his cavalry is like a steady fire from a park of

As a specimen of his oratory, I subjoin an extract from one of his
speeches. In 1837, Lord Lyndhurst declared, in the Upper House, that the
Irish were "aliens in blood and religion." Shortly after, Mr. Shiel thus
repelled the charge in the Commons. Lord L. was a listener.

"Where was Arthur, Duke of Wellington, when those words were uttered?
Methinks he should have started up to disclaim them.

  "'The battles, sieges, fortunes that he passed'

ought to have come back upon him. He ought to have remembered that, from
the earliest achievement in which he displayed that military genius
which has placed him foremost in the annals of modern warfare, down to
that last and surpassing combat which has made his name
imperishable--from Assaye to Waterloo--the Irish soldiers, with whom
your armies were filled, were the inseparable auxiliaries to the glory
with which his unparalleled successes have been crowned. Whose were the
athletic arms that drove your bayonets at Vimiera through the phalanxes
that never reeled in the shock of war before? What desperate valor
climbed the steeps and filled the moats of Badajos? All, all his
victories should have rushed and crowded back upon his memory: Vimiera,
Badajos, Salamanca, Abuera, Toulouse--and, last of all, the greatest.
Tell me, for you were there--I appeal to the gallant soldier before me,
(pointing to Sir Henry Hardinge,) who bears, I know, a generous heart in
an intrepid breast--tell me, for you must needs remember, on that day
when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance; while death
fell in showers upon them; when the artillery of France, leveled with
the precision of the most deadly science, played upon them; when her
legions, incited by the voice, inspired by the example of their mighty
leader, rushed again and again to the contest; tell me if for an
instant, when to hesitate for an instant was to be lost, the 'aliens'
blanched? And when, at length, the moment for the last decisive movement
had arrived; when the valor, so long wisely checked, was at last let
loose; when, with words familiar but immortal, the great captain
exclaimed, 'Up, lads, and at them!'--tell me if Catholic Ireland with
less heroic valor than the natives of your own glorious isle
precipitated herself upon the foe! The blood of England, Scotland,
Ireland, flowed in the same stream, on the same field. When the chill
morning dawned, their dead lay cold and stark together. In the same deep
pit their bodies were deposited. The green spring is now breaking on
their commingled dust. The dew falls from heaven upon their union in the
grave. Partakers in every peril, in the glory shall we not participate?
And shall we be told, as a requital, that we are estranged from the
noble country for whose salvation our life-blood was poured out?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Though approaching the verge of good taste, conceive of the present
effect of such an outburst gushing from the lips of Shiel, the
perspiration standing in drops on his knotted locks, his eye kindled
with Milesian fire, every feature of his expressive countenance instinct
with passion, every limb of his small but symmetrical frame trembling
with emotion, his shrill but musical voice barbing every emphatic word!

Since he entered Parliament, Mr. Shiel has acted with the liberal Whigs,
has held office under Lord John Russell, and generally declined the lead
of Mr. O'Connell. He stood aloof from the Repeal agitation, though he
defended O'Connell, when on trial for Conspiracy some four years ago,
with the ability and eloquence of his brightest days.


     Movements toward Parliamentary Reform--John Cartwright--The Father
     of Parliamentary Reform--His Account of the Trials of Hardy and
     Tooke--Lord Byron's Eulogium of him--His Opinions of the Slave
     Trade--The First English Advocate of the Ballot--His Conviction for
     Conspiracy--His Labors for Grecian and Mexican
     Independence--William Cobbett--His Character, Opinions, and
     Services--His Style of Writing--His Great Influence with the
     Middling and Lower Orders of England--Sir Francis Burdett--His
     Labors for Reform--His Recantation.

Grant to the people of England universal suffrage and equal
Parliamentary representation, and all other reforms will ultimately
follow. The present century has taught the masses and the statesmen of
that country, that, to wield influence over its Government, it is not
necessary to occupy official stations. I am about to note some
occurrences in the life of one who taught and illustrated the truth,
that power and place are not synonymous terms--one who exerted much sway
over public affairs for fifty years, one whose services were wholly of a
popular character, he never having held office. I allude to JOHN
CARTWRIGHT. His name is appropriately introduced previous to noticing
the passage of the Reform Bill, for, no man did more than he to create a
public opinion which demanded that great measure. By universal consent

Mr. Cartwright was born in 1740. He entered the navy as a midshipman,
saw a great deal of hard fighting, reached the post of first lieutenant,
became distinguished for his science and skill in the service, and at
the age of thirty-four abandoned the seas, and turned his mind to
politics. In 1774, he published _Letters on American Independence_,
addressed to the House of Commons, in which he took radical ground in
favor of the rights of the Colonies. "It is a capital error," says he,
"in the reasonings of most writers on this subject, (the rights of man,)
that they consider the liberty of mankind in the same light as an estate
or chattel, and go about to prove or disapprove the right to it, by
grants, usage, or municipal statutes. It is not among moldy parchments
that we are to look for it; it is the immediate gift of God; it is not
derived from any one, but it is original in every one." Here we have the
pioneer idea of our own Declaration of Independence, uttered by an
unknown Englishman two years before that immortal paper saw the light.
In 1776, an event occurred which put Major Cartwright's principles (he
had been appointed major in the Nottinghamshire militia) to a severe
test. He was always proud of the navy, and ambitious of promotion in the
service. Lord Howe, who had witnessed his courage and skill, having
taken command of the fleet to act against the American Colonies, urged
Cartwright to take a captaincy of a line-of-battle ship. He was then
paying his addresses to a lady of high family, whose friends would
consent to her accepting his hand if he would accede to the proposal of
Lord Howe. He declined, thereby losing the favor both of Mars and Hymen.
This led to an acquaintance with the gallant Lord Effingham, an officer
of the army, who proved himself a genuine nobleman by resigning his
commission rather than act against "the rebels."

Cartwright now (1776) commenced the work to which he devoted the
remaining years of his laborious and useful life--_Parliamentary
Reform_. At the outset, he took the ground now occupied by the
Chartists. In his first two pamphlets--and they were the earliest
English productions on reform in the House of Commons--he maintained
that equal representation, universal suffrage, and annual elections,
were rights inherent in the body of the people. His system closely
resembled that engrafted upon the United States Constitution twelve
years later. This shows him a man of rare sagacity for the times, far in
advance of his cotemporaries, and not a whit behind the most radical
American patriots. The next year he presented an address to the King,
urging peace with his Colonies, and a union with them on the basis of
independent States. He organized, the same year, England's first
association for promoting Parliamentary reform, called the "Society for
Political Inquiry." Soon after, Cartwright stood twice for Parliament,
but was unsuccessful, partly on account of his radical principles, and
partly because he would not stoop to any form of bribery, not even
"treating," declaring that "he would not spend a single shilling to
influence the electors."

He continued to agitate for reform, by pamphlets, speeches, and
correspondence, till, in 1781, he organized the celebrated "Society for
Constitutional Information," which enrolled many of the first names in
the kingdom, and to which Tooke belonged when tried for treason in 1794.
Cartwright wrote the first address of the Society. It received the high
encomiums of Sir William Jones, who said it ought to be engraven upon
gold. The ship of Parliamentary Reform now glided smoothly, Cartwright
being the chief pilot, when the French revolution burst upon the world.
He hailed it as the dawn of a political millennium, and, filled with
joy, he addressed a congratulatory and advisory letter to the French
National Assembly. But, the skies of France, so bright at the rising of
the revolutionary sun, soon became darkened, and the clouds poured down
blood and fire upon the land, covering the friends of liberty in England
with sorrow and dismay. The Reign of Terror in France was followed by a
Reign of Terror in England. In the former, the victims were royalists.
In the latter, radicals. In the former, Robespierre and the guillotine
executed vengeance. In the latter, George III and the Court of King's
Bench. Large numbers erased their names from the proscribed roll of the
Society. Cartwright, Tooke, and a resolute band, resolved to stand by
their principles and pledges, and brave the royal anger, come life, come
death. The particulars of the treason trials which followed, I have
already given.

Some of Cartwright's friends besought him to stand aloof from Tooke and
his "brother traitors." He was too brave and true a man to desert his
associates in the ordeal hour. He addressed a letter to the Secretary of
State, asking permission to visit Tooke in the Tower, avowing that it
had been the greatest pleasure of his life to coöperate with him for
Parliamentary reform; and if his friend was a felon, and worthy of
death, so was he. He has left interesting memoranda of the trials at the
Old Bailey. He says, "Gibbs spoke like an angel" in Hardy's case, and
that Erskine became so exhausted, toward the close of the trial, that,
in arguing incidental points to the court, an intermediate person had to
repeat what he said to the judges. He conveyed intelligence of the
result of Hardy's case to his family in the country, in terms as terse
as Cæsar's celebrated military dispatch: "_Hardy is acquitted.--J. C._"
He was a witness in Tooke's case. On the cross-examination of the
Attorney General, though cautioned by the court not to criminate
himself, he scorned all concealment, avowing that the objects of the
Constitutional Society were to obtain equal representation, universal
suffrage, and annual Parliaments, and replying to the caution of the
judges, that "he came there not to state what was prudent, but what was
true." When questioned about some expressions of his, as to "strangling
the vipers aristocracy and monarchy," he said he had no recollection of
using the terms, but, if he had, and they were applied to aristocracies
and monarchies hostile to liberty, he thought them well deserved. He
says Tooke grappled with the prosecuting counsel with the strength and
courage of a lion. When a paper was produced, and Tooke was asked to
admit his handwriting, the Chief Justice cautioned him not to do so
hastily. Turning to his Lordship, he said, "I protest, before God, that
I have never done an action, never written a sentence, in public or
private, never entertained a thought on any political subject, which,
taken fairly, with all the circumstances of time, occasion, and place, I
have the smallest hesitation to admit." How the stout-hearted integrity
of such men, in such a trying hour, puts to eternal shame the servile
tricks and fawning arts of the common scum of office-hunting

The treason trials of 1794 being over, Cartwright resumed his work, and
for some eight years seems to have been the only active man of character
and standing in the enterprise--the others having cowered before the
persecuting spirit of the times. In 1802, a ludicrous occurrence showed
the suspicious state of the Governmental mind. The Major had a brother,
Dr. George Cartwright, who was celebrated as a mechanician, being the
inventor of the power-loom, and other valuable machines. He had taken
out patents for them--these had been extensively infringed--and he had
commenced suits against the violators. The Major was assisting him in
procuring evidence; and for that purpose he had dispatched an agent to
Yorkshire, with a letter of instructions, which had a good deal to say
about _levers_, _cranks_, _rollers_, and _screws_. The messenger was
arrested as a joint conspirator with the Major for the overthrow of his
Majesty's Government, by means of some "infernal machine"--the phrases
in the letter being interpreted to cover a dark design to "put the
screws" on the King. Ascertaining that his agent was in _limbo_,
Cartwright wrote to the Attorney General, offering to explain the
matter. The Crown officer was not to be caught so. Indict and hang the
conspirator he would, in spite of power-looms and militia majors. At
length the facts became known, and the astute Attorney was glad to back
out of the ridiculous scrape by an apologetic letter to the parties.

It would require a volume to record all that our patriot did for
Parliamentary reform from 1804, when it had a limited revival, till
1824, when he died. Though he was sixty-four years old at the
commencement of this period, and eighty-four at its close, he did more
during these twenty years to procure for Englishmen their electoral
rights, than any other ten persons in the kingdom. He published scores
of pamphlets, written in a style, bold, lucid, and going to the roots of
the controversy; convened hundreds of meetings in all parts of the
country, to which he addressed able speeches; sent thousands of
petitions to Parliament; formed numerous societies; and conducted a
never flagging correspondence with the leading friends of liberty and
reform. In 1810, he sold his farm and removed to London, that "he might
be near his work." Brave old heart of oak, of threescore years and ten!
The next year, thirty-eight persons were seized at Manchester while
attending a reform meeting, and sent fifty miles to prison, on a charge
of sedition. Cartwright went down to aid in preparing their defense and
attend the examination. Having procured their release, he took a
circuitous route home, getting up meetings and petitions on the tour. He
was arrested, taken before a magistrate, his papers and person searched,
when, finding nothing worthy of death or bonds upon him, he was
discharged. Vainly endeavoring to obtain a copy of the warrant on which
he was arrested, he subsequently presented the case by petition to the
House of Peers. Lord Byron, the poet, in supporting the petition, said
of him: "He is a man, my lords, whose long life has been spent in one
unceasing struggle for the liberty of the subject, against that undue
influence of the Crown which has increased, is increasing, and ought to
be diminished; and, whatever difference of opinion may exist as to his
political tenets, few will be found to question the integrity of his
intentions. Even now, oppressed with years, and not exempt from the
infirmities attendant on age, but unimpaired in talent, and unshaken in
spirit, _frangas_, _non flectes_, he has received many a wound in the
combat against corruption; and the new grievance, the fresh insult, of
which he now complains, may inflict another scar, but no dishonor."

In 1814, he addressed a series of letters to Clarkson on the slave
trade--he having taken an active part in the contest for its
abolition--in which he argued that it should be punished as piracy, a
doctrine which he was the first to broach. He also wrote against bribery
at elections, and in favor of voting by ballot, being the first English
advocate of that measure. A year or two after this, a mercenary widow of
one of his old Scotch correspondents wrote to him that the Government
had offered her a large sum if she would give up his letters--adding,
significantly, that the circumstances of her family were such, that she
thought she should comply with the offer. He extinguished her hopes of
extorting money from him by informing her, that "it gave him great
satisfaction to find that any of his letters were esteemed so valuable,
and begged her to make the best bargain she could of their contents." In
1816, the great number and imposing character of the demonstrations in
favor of Parliamentary reform alarmed the Government. Canning, in the
House of Commons, denounced Cartwright as "that old heart in London,
from which the veins of sedition in the country are supplied." The
kingdom was in a flame--the _habeas corpus_ act was suspended--and the
"Six Acts," aimed at the Irish Catholic associations, and the English
reform meetings, were adopted. Cobbett, the editor of the Register, fled
to America. Others left their ears on the pillory at home, or carried
them at the request of the Government to Botany Bay. Cartwright, who
never flinched from friend or foe, stood his ground, and contrived new
modes to keep up the agitation, evading the recent law against
"tumultuous petitioning," by getting up _petitions of twenties_, and in
various ways avoiding the prohibitions of the "Six Acts."

So far, he had kept out of the fangs of the law, excepting in the affair
of searching his person. But, the Attorney General had his eye upon him.
In 1819, he participated in the famous Birmingham proceedings, which
resulted in the appointment, on his suggestion, of a "Legislatorial
Attorney" for the town, who was to present a letter to the Speaker of
the Commons, as its representative. This measure of "sending a petition
in the form of a living man, instead of one on parchment," as he called
it, precipitated the long-expected crisis. He was indicted for
conspiracy and sedition, in Warwickshire. So soon as he heard of it, he
set off by post to meet the charge, traveling one hundred miles in a
single day, though then bowed down with the weight of fourscore years.
Putting in bail, he returned to London, and resumed his work. Soon
after, he presided at a reform meeting, drew up a petition, couched in
the most energetic terms, signed it, sent it to the Commons, and then
set about exposing the attempts of the Crown officers to pack the jury
which was to try him. The trial took place in August, 1820. He called no
witnesses; addressed the jury mainly in defense of his principles; was
convicted; was not called up for sentence till the next May; when the
judge, after eulogizing his general character, condemned him to pay a
fine of £100, and stand committed till it was paid. He immediately
pulled out a canvass bag, counted down the money in gold, slily
remarking to the sheriff, that they were all "_good sovereigns_."

When the heroic struggles of Greece, South America, and Mexico,
resounded through Europe, they had no more attentive listener than Major
Cartwright. Seizing his never-idle pen, he wrote "Hints to the
Greeks"--a letter to the President of the Greek Congress--and another to
the Greek Deputies. About the same time, he opened his doors to two of
the liberal leaders in the Spanish Revolution, who had sought refuge in
England. His sun was now declining. He had attended his last reform
meeting in 1823; he wrote his last political pamphlet in 1824. In July
of this year, he received a letter from Mr. Jefferson, who said, "Your
age of eighty-four and mine of eighty-one years, insure us a speedy
meeting; we may then commune at leisure on the good and evil which, in
the course of our long lives, we have both witnessed." He had taken a
deep interest in the Mexican struggles for liberty, and frequently
conferred with General Michelena, its envoy then in London, upon its
affairs. On the 21st of September, 1824, the General sent to inform him
that the scheme of Iturbide had failed, and that the liberty of Mexico
might be considered as established. Two days afterward, "the father of
Parliamentary reform" died, retaining his faculties and his fervent love
of freedom to the last. He cheerfully resigned himself into the hands of
his Maker, exclaiming, "God's will be done!"

Among the remarkable men who, like Cartwright, helped to prepare the
public mind for the Reform Bill, and like him illustrated the truth,
that power and place are not necessarily synonymous terms, is WILLIAM
COBBETT, whom the "Corn-law Rhymer" calls England's

  "Mightiest peasant-born."

His name is familiar on both sides of the Atlantic, and is much mixed up
with good and evil report. He was no negation or neutral, but a man of
mark, that left his impress on the age. He was not only one of the most
voluminous, but one of the boldest and most powerful writers of the
present century. Ever in the thickest of the strife, his "peasant arm"
dealt goodly blows in the contests of the People with the Crown, during
the last thirty years of his turbulent life. Cobbett was born in 1762.
His father was a poor yeoman, who brought his son up to hard work and
Tory principles. He never went to school, but was literally self-taught,
learning even the alphabet without a teacher. He says: "I learned
grammar when I was a private soldier on the pay of sixpence per day."
Having committed Lowth's Grammar to heart, he used to make it a rule to
recite it through from memory every time he stood sentry. He enlisted in
the army when he was twenty-one, and served eight years in the British
American colonies. He was discharged, returned to England, married, made
a short tour in France, whence he embarked for the United States,
arriving in New York in 1792. He was a violent Tory--joined the
anti-French party--commenced publishing--attacked with ferocity
Priestley, Franklin, Rush, Jefferson, Dallas, Monroe, Gallatin, Fox,
Sheridan, Bonaparte, Talleyrand, and a score of other great men--was
arrested, and compelled to give bail in a heavy sum for his good
behavior--was sued for a libel by Dr. Rush, who recovered five thousand
dollars damages--fled from Philadelphia to New York, where the execution
overtook him--was thrown into prison--the judgment was paid by his
admirers--he left the country, and arrived in England in 1801. While in
America, he wrote under the name of "Peter Porcupine," and on his return
to England published his writings in twelve volumes. They had a large
circulation among the Anti-Jacobins, who received him with open arms. He
had previously sent an account of his trans-Atlantic "persecutions" to
the "Loyal Society" of London, "to be used as a panacea for the
reformists, and the whole gang of liberty-men in England."

He started a paper in London in 1801, called "The Porcupine," which
supported Pitt and the Tories, and attacked Fox and the Whigs, much
after the style of his Philadelphia writings. He suspended the
publication of "The Porcupine," and commenced his celebrated "Weekly
Political Register" in 1802, which he continued till his death, a period
of thirty-three years. This journal has given him an enduring name among
the political writers of his times. For two or three years, it advocated
High Toryism. Wyndham was enamored of it, and stated in the House of
Commons, that its editor deserved a statue of gold. Wyndham promised to
introduce Cobbett to Pitt. The latter declined to see him. The editor
was deeply mortified at this rebuff of the aristocratic minister.
Immediately thereafter, and probably _therefore_, Cobbett changed his
politics, and from a high Church and King man, turned to be a radical
reformer and champion of the people. The first public demonstration of
the somerset was a violent philippic against the Irish Tory
administration. He was prosecuted for libels, both at London and Dublin,
on the Lord Lieutenant, Chancellor, Chief Justice, and Under Secretary
for Ireland, and was fined a thousand pounds. This prosecution only
stimulated his new-born zeal for liberalism. He sharpened his weapons,
and plunged them into the bowels of his old friends as vigorously as he
had before done into those of their enemies, sparing neither Church nor
State, Ministry nor King. The Register soon became the terror of
evil-doers. Its denunciations of profligate statesmen and rotten
institutions were so bold and hearty, and its columns breathed such an
air of defiant independence, that it was sought for with avidity by the
radicals of the middling and lower orders, and the income as well as the
fame of its editor became largely increased.

But Cobbett never could sail long in smooth water. Like the petrel, he
loved the storm. In 1810, he was prosecuted for a libel on the
Government, contained in an article reflecting in indignant terms on the
brutal flogging of a company of the local militia, under the
_surveillance_ of a regiment of German mercenaries. He defended himself,
was convicted, and sentenced to pay a fine of one thousand pounds, be
imprisoned two years, and give sureties for his good behavior for seven
years in five thousand pounds. He never forgot or forgave this injury.
Two other prosecutions of editors grew out of the same transaction. They
were defended by Brougham in two splendid speeches, which introduced the
rising barrister to a first place among the forensic orators of the
kingdom. The circulation of the Register had increased steadily from
year to year; and soon after this trial, Cobbett continuing to edit it
while in prison, it reached an unprecedented sale, some weeks numbering
one hundred thousand copies. Its vigorous assaults on the Government
conspired with the other reform movements of the times to cause the
repeal of the _habeas corpus_, and the passage of the infamous "six
acts," by which the ministry hoped to crush the agitators. To avoid the
blow aimed at him, Cobbett fled to America early in 1817, where he
remained nearly three years. He regularly remitted "copy" across the
Atlantic for the Register, which continued a pungent thorn in the side
of Castlereagh and his friends, though the hand which wielded it was
three thousand miles away.

Returning to England in 1820, he established a daily paper, which
failed--tried to introduce the cultivation of Indian corn into the
country, which failed--stood a candidate for Parliament for Coventry,
and failed--defended himself against two prosecutions for libel, and
failed, paying fines to the amount of nearly two thousand
pounds--plunged into the Queen Caroline controversy with his brother
liberals, and did _not_ fail--advocated Catholic emancipation, and saw
it succeed--made an attempt to enter Parliament for Preston, and was
defeated--took an active part in all the agitations for Parliamentary
reform--defended himself in a speech of six hours against a prosecution
for sedition, growing out of an article in the Register in favor of the
Reform Bill, the jury being discharged because they could not agree--and
finally was reprimanded by the Speaker, for giving three cheers in the
gallery of the Commons, when the bill passed the House. In 1832, he
reached the acme of his ambition, by being returned to the first
reformed Parliament for the borough of Oldham. But it is a rare tree
that will bear transplanting in the sere and yellow leaf of advanced
age. Cobbett was threescore years and ten when he took his seat in the
House of Commons. Though he made a few vigorous speeches, he did not
fulfill the expectations of his friends, nor exhibit the power and
originality in debate which the public anticipated from the editor of
the Political Register. He closed his stormy life in 1835.

Cobbett has been called "a bold, bad man." Bold he was; but, he was not
as bad as the times in which he lived, nor the institutions he
assailed. He was a man to be feared rather than loved--to be admired
rather than trusted. But he was a MAN, "for a' that." He never croaked
or _canted_--never whined or repined--was proud, self-willed,
self-reliant--knew his strength, and asked no favors and showed no
quarter. His idiosyncrasies, his egotism, his self-dependence, rendered
it next to impossible for anybody to work with him even to attain a
common end. He was the victim of prejudice, conceit, passion, and seemed
not to advocate a cause so much from love of it, as from hatred of its
opposite. He bent his great energies to tear down existing institutions,
whilst he lent but feeble aid in building up others in their place. He
hated all that was above him in birth and station, and his appeals
usually being to the prejudices and passions of the class from which he
sprang, he wielded a vast influence over the common people of England.
They were proud of his attainments, because they regarded him as one of
themselves, who had risen, by his own strength, to a commanding position
among the leaders of public opinion, and they witnessed with pride his
ability to grapple with and hurl to the earth, the titled champions of
the privileged orders. Thus, more than any other writer, he was, for
thirty years, looked up to as the representative, the oracle, of the
"base born" of his countrymen. It contributed not a little to his
influence with the ground tier of British society, that he was a
practical farmer, in a moderate way--the great sale of his writings
affording him the means of gratifying his cultivated tastes for
agricultural pursuits. Taking it for granted that established systems,
opinions, and institutions, were necessarily wrong, he attacked
everything that was old, and everybody that was popular. He avowed that
he attacked Dr. Rush's system of medical practice, because it originated
with a republican--he called Washington "a notorious rebel and
traitor"--nicknamed Franklin "Old Lightning-rod"--denounced Lafayette as
"a citizen-miscreant"--and abused Jefferson because he was a popular
democrat. But this was in the days of his toryism. However, when a
radical, he showered ridicule on Shakspeare, Milton, and Scott, because
all the _literati_ praised them, and eulogized O'Connell, because all
Englishmen anathematized him.

But, the objects of his assaults were not always so undeserving of it,
nor so ill assorted. He exposed the land monopoly of England, and
vindicated the rights and dignity of labor--he laid bare the rapacity of
the Established Church, and maintained the rights of Catholics and
dissenters--he denounced the game laws, the corn laws, and the penal
code--he advocated the abolition of the House of Lords, and the
bestowment of universal suffrage upon the people. It was impossible for
a man of such giant powers and rooted prejudices, who had received the
iron of persecution so often in his own person, and who was always in
the thickest of the fray, to speak calmly or with measured words.
Consequently, his writings abound in malevolent epithets, unmitigated
vituperation, and coarse ridicule of men and measures. So do they abound
in right good sense, cogent reasonings, elevated appeals to justice and
humanity, interspersed with racy humor, graphic descriptions, happy
illustrations, and lively anecdotes. The basis of his style was the old
Saxon tongue, and it was as idiomatic and lucid as that of Franklin or
Paley. He wrote on numerous subjects besides politics; and, in addition
to the eighty-eight volumes of the Register, and the twelve of his Peter
Porcupine, he put to press nearly fifty volumes. He was kind to his
family, hospitable to the poor, and had a great deal of sunshine in his
soul. He will be gratefully remembered by enfranchised Englishmen, when
milder and meaner men, who affected to look down upon him with contempt,
are forgotten, or are recollected only to be despised.

I close this notice of the great English peasant, by quoting the closing
stanza of a beautiful tribute to his memory, by Ebenezer Elliott, the
author of "Corn Law Rhymes."

  "Dead Oak, thou liv'st. Thy smitten hands.
    The thunder of thy brow,
  Speak with strange tongues in many lands,
    And tyrants hear thee now!"

Sir FRANCIS BURDETT has been mentioned as a friend of Parliamentary
Reform. Few Englishmen did more for the cause than this bold advocate of
liberal principles. Few titled Reformers have suffered more for
opinion's sake than he. It was his good or bad fortune to be frequently
caught in the net of legal prosecution. In 1809, Sir Francis then being
a member of Parliament, a Mr. John Gale Jones, whose name would never
have got beyond his shop had it not become associated with that of
Burdett, published a handbill animadverting, in terms of clumsy abuse,
upon some proceedings of the House of Commons; whereupon, that body of
honorables committed him to Newgate. Sir Francis brought forward a
motion for his liberation, based on the ground that the House had no
right to imprison him for such an offense. Being defeated, he published
an address to his constituents, in which he applied some contemptuous
epithets to this contemptible proceeding. A furious debate sprang up,
which terminated in a resolution to commit Burdett to the Tower. The
Sergeant-at-Arms went to his house with the warrant of committal, but
Sir Francis refused to accompany him to his new abode. The next day he
repeated his visit; but by this time the populace had assembled in great
numbers around the dwelling of the Baronet, and drove away the officer.
Early the following morning, he broke into his apartments, seized
Burdett, put him into a carriage, and bore him to the Tower, accompanied
by several regiments of dragoons, where he remained in close confinement
till the end of the session. The day of his release, all London was out
of doors, and he was welcomed home with shoutings, flags, and salutes of
cannon. In 1819, Sir Francis having continued to fight the good fight
during the intervening ten years, a great reform meeting was held at
Manchester, in the open air. All was orderly till a regiment of cavalry
rode in upon the multitude, and, with drawn swords, cut down men, women,
and children, leaving many dead and wounded on the field. Sir Francis
published a manly letter to the electors of Westminster, (he being the
representative of that great constituency,) commenting in eloquent terms
on this infamous transaction. He was indicted for a seditious libel; and
after contesting the prosecution, inch by inch, through all the
courts--not so much for his own sake as for that of the great cause with
which he was identified--he was fined £2,000 and imprisoned three
months. To read the case, as reported in the English law books, will
make the cheek of a republican lawyer tingle with indignation. These,
and some other like occurrences in his life, have led candid observers
to regard Sir Francis Burdett as something of a demagogue. He had a
spice of that element in his composition. He was a bold,
straight-forward man, who told plain truths in a plain way, whether
addressing letters to his constituents, or speeches to the Commons House
of Parliament. He often stood alone among his colleagues, cheered by the
conviction that, though no member voted with him, he was supported by
the voices of hundreds of thousands of the people. He was a great
reader, a sound thinker, an able debater, and always exerted a
controlling influence over the more radical portions of the House. His
frequent letters to his constituents were dignified and pungent, cost
him a good deal of persecution and money, and were worth all they cost.
In 1818, he was chosen, with his friend Romilly, to represent the
important borough of Westminster, after one of the bitterest contests
modern England has known. He retained the seat through many years. In
all the onsets upon corruption and prerogative, down to the era of the
Reform bill, he was with the head of the liberal column, and stood where
the blows fell thickest and heaviest, the idol of the people, the target
of the crown. He was a Wilkes, without so large a measure of cowardice,
meanness, turbulence, or rottenness of character and principle.

One regrets to be compelled to record of such a man, that in his old age
he grew timid and conservative. After the passage of the Reform bill, he
ceased to act with the radicals, and on the occasion of the attempt to
deprive the Irish Church of a portion of its temporalities, he went
wholly over to the Tories, since which he has sunk into comparative
obscurity. Some years ago, in reply to a speech of Lord John Russell, he
spoke of "the cant of reform!" Lord John electrified the House when he
retorted with cutting emphasis, that "there was such a thing as the
_re_-cant of reform!"


     Parliamentary Reform--Old House of Commons--Rotten Boroughs--Old
     Sarum--French Revolution of 1830--Rally for Reform--Wellington
     Resigns--Grey in Power--Ministerial Bill Defeated--New Parliament
     Summoned--Commons Pass the Bill--Brougham's Speech in Lords--Peers
     Throw out the Bill--Mrs. Partington--Riots--Again Bill Passed by
     Commons, and again Defeated by Peers--Ministers Resign--Are
     Recalled--The Bill becomes a Law.

The House of Commons was instituted in the thirteenth century, when
Henry III summoned the counties of the realm to send knights, and the
principal cities and boroughs to send citizens and burgesses, to
Parliament. This was done rather to afford him a check upon his arrogant
barons, and to procure the sanction of "_the Commons_," (as the untitled
property-holders were called,) to certain subsidies, than to vest in
them any independent functions. But, this "third estate" continuing to
be summoned in subsequent reigns, its influence increased with the
wealth and intelligence of the middle classes, whom it represented, till
what was long regarded by them as a burden came to be cherished as a
right and a privilege; and a supple instrument, originally used by the
monarch to strengthen his prerogative, gradually became the weapon of
the democracy, to cripple its powers and limit its boundaries.

At first, all the counties, and the largest cities and boroughs, were
summoned. Subsequently, as other towns rose to importance, they were
added to the list. In process of time, as trade fluctuated, drying up
old channels and opening new, many of the ancient cities and burghs fell
into decay. Still, they sent representatives to Parliament. In 1509,
the House consisted of 298 members, many of them even then representing
very small constituencies. From that period, down to the passage of the
Reform bill, no place was disfranchised, (except two or three for
bribery,) while 255 members were added (including Scotland and excluding
Ireland,) by the creation of new and the revival of old burghs. During
the six centuries which the House had existed, what changes had passed
over the kingdom, sweeping away the foundations of once populous marts,
and causing others to rise on barren wastes!

Here we have the origin of "_rotten boroughs_;" i. e., towns which,
centuries ago, had a flourishing existence, continuing to send
representatives to Parliament long after any human being had made his
local habitation therein, and whose very names would have perished from
the land, but that they were annually recorded on the Parliamentary
rolls. One of these has been immortalized by the discussions on the
Reform bill--Old Sarum. Not a soul had dwelt there since the Tudors
ascended the English throne--not a tenement had been seen there since
Columbus discovered America--nor could the vestiges of its ruins be
traced by the antiquarian eye of a Champollion or a Stephens. This
sand-hill, in 1832, sent as many members to Parliament as Lancashire,
with a population of a million and a half. Other represented boroughs
were nearly in like condition; others could display their half score or
more of decayed hovels. In the case of these rotten boroughs, the owner
of the land, or of the old franchises, who was generally a wealthy Peer,
sometimes an aspiring London attorney, occasionally an avaricious
stock-jobbing Jew, by virtue of his single vote designated the
representatives. Subject to the mutations of other real estate and
franchises, they were transferable by private bargain, or auction, or
sheriff's sale, or will, or assignment of a bankrupt's effects, or as
security for a gambling debt. Not only were they instruments of
corruption, but ludicrous libels on the claim of the House of Commons
to represent the people, and striking illustrations of extreme
inequality in the distribution of political power.

An East India Prince, the Nabob of Arcot, once owned burghs entitled to
twenty members of Parliament; and through his English agent, who held
the parchment titles, he sent that number to the Commons. A waiter at a
celebrated gaming-house sat for years in Parliament in this wise. He
loaned money to a "noble" gambler, who gave him security for the loan on
a rotten borough, which sent a member. The waiter elected himself to the
seat. In the debates on the Reform bill, it was stated that certain
places, with an aggregate population of less than 5,000, returned one
hundred members. Old Sarum, Gatton, Newtown, and other decayed boroughs,
exerted a controlling influence on British legislation, long after some
of them had ceased to be the abodes of humanity; whilst Manchester,
Birmingham, Leeds, and other important towns, swarming with life, and
rich in arts and manufactures, had not a single representative. The
elective franchise was very restricted, and generally based on absurd
qualifications. Scores of members were chosen by close corporations,
while others were designated by single individuals. The essence of the
system is concentrated in the general fact, that, in 1832, less than two
hundred persons, mostly of the "privileged orders," actually returned a
majority of the House of Commons.

So enormous an evil was not without an occasional mite of good. Though
these coroneted traffickers in Parliamentary seats usually bestowed them
on favorites of their own class, there were some notable exceptions to
this rule. John Horne Tooke, the most radical of all reformers, sat for
Old Sarum, the rottenest of all rotten boroughs. Brougham entered the
Commons through the narrow door of a "nomination borough," though he
left it with the plaudits of the largest constituency in the kingdom.
Burke, Romilly, Mackintosh, and other illustrious and liberal names,
were indebted to close corporations for their introduction to Senatorial

This system, the slow growth of centuries, was in full play at the
ascension of William IV. It was destined to a speedy overthrow. Early in
1830, a simultaneous movement towards the long-deferred reform was made
throughout Great Britain and Ireland. George IV died, and William IV
ascended the throne, on the 26th of June, 1830. In the following month,
the people of France rose and drove the Bourbons from their kingdom. The
news descended upon the already excited mind of England like an
animating spirit. The mass heaved with the throes of new life. The
reformers held meetings in every important town, to congratulate their
brethren of France on the expulsion of the elder Bourbons. Drawn
together by the bonds of a common sympathy, they realized how numerous
and powerful a body they were. The election for a new Parliament
occurred in September. Liberal candidates sailed with the popular
current. The result showed a great diminution of the supporters of
Wellington and Peel. Parliament met in November. The cry of "Reform!"
was ringing from the "unions" and "associations," which the last four
months had seen established in every considerable town and village in
the country. The king's speech made no allusion to the subject that
absorbed all minds. In the exciting debate on the address to the throne,
Earl Grey came out boldly for a radical reform in Parliament.
Wellington, in reply, assumed the most hostile ground, declaring that,
"so long as he held any station in the Government, he should resist to
the utmost any such measure." The announcement that ministers were
determined to cling to a system whose rotting props had been for years
falling away, astonished and inflamed the Opposition. Fifteen days
afterwards, ministers were brought to their senses, by being placed in a
minority in the lower House, on a financial question. The next day, the
Iron Duke in the Peers, and the supple Peel in the Commons, announced
that they had relinquished the helm of affairs!

The Duke of Wellington resigned on the 16th of November, 1830. The King
immediately authorized Lord Grey to form an administration, upon the
basis of Parliamentary reform--the first liberal ministry, with the
exception of a few turbulent months, for sixty-five years! Lords Grey,
Durham, John Russell, Althorp, Lansdowne, Holland, and Mr. Brougham,
were its leading spirits; its subordinates being made up of the
Melbournes, the Palmerstons, and other converted Canningites. Parliament
adjourned till February, to afford the new Cabinet time to perfect its
plan. While Downing Street was anxiously cogitating the details of the
great measure, its friends stimulated public sentiment in every part of
the empire. On the 1st of March, 1831, Lord John Russell brought
forward, in the House of Commons, the ministerial plan for a reform in
Parliament. A summary of its leading provisions, as finally adopted, is

It was a compromise between representation and prescription, on the
three principles of disfranchisement, enfranchisement, and extension of
the suffrage. The number of members, 658, was not altered, but their
distribution was changed. The ultra rotten borough system was exploded.
In England, 56 burghs were wholly disfranchised, 31 others partially,
whilst 41 new towns were enfranchised, part receiving two members,
others one. The large cities and counties received an increase of
members. The same principles were less extensively applied to Scotland
and Ireland.

The qualifications of electors were essentially modified, and the
aggregate more than doubled. Property, in most cases, still continued to
be the basis of the right of suffrage. The greatest change was in the
cities and burghs. In those, throughout the United Kingdom, the occupier
of a building of the yearly value of £10, whether he owned or rented it,
could vote for the local members. The ancient rights of voters, in
burghs not disfranchised, were partially preserved, but provision was
made for their gradual extinction. It was supposed that the bill added
more than half a million to the number of Parliamentary electors. In
1838, the number of electors registered was 978,816. It has since
exceeded a million.

The sweeping character of the bill surpassed public expectation, and
produced an electric effect upon the country; the reformers hailing it
with enthusiasm, whilst the champions of old abuses were stricken with
horror. Mr. Hume, the leader of the radicals, declared that "it far
exceeded his highest hopes." Sir Charles Wetherell, the oracle of the
legal formalists, denounced it as "a corporation robbery." Mr. Macaulay,
the organ of the philosophic reformers, pronounced it "a great, noble,
and comprehensive plan." Sir R. H. Inglis, the representative of the
bigotry of Oxford University, said, "the plan of ministers meant
revolution, not reformation."

All parties girded themselves for such a conflict as England had not
witnessed for a century. After an inveterate contest of three weeks, the
English bill (one for each kingdom was introduced) passed its second
reading in the House by a majority of only one. A day or two afterwards,
an amendment was carried against ministers, by a majority of eight.
Immediately thereupon ministers announced that they should dissolve
Parliament, and appeal to the people. At this suggestion, the Opposition
broke through all restraint, and denounced them as revolutionists and
traitors. They dreaded the appeal, for they knew the country was with
the ministry. The Tory Peers resolved on the desperate measure of
preventing the dissolution, by arresting the reading of the king's
speech. The day came, and brought with it a scene of uproar in both
Houses, which baffles description. A cotemporary writer says:

     "A hope had remained, that the project of stopping the king's
     speech, and interposing an address, might succeed. That hope rested
     entirely upon the speech being read by the Chancellor, (Brougham,)
     and not by the king in person. Suddenly the thunder of the guns was
     heard to roar, breaking the silence of the anxious crowds without,
     and drowning even the noise that filled the walls of Parliament. In
     the fullness of his royal state, and attended by all his
     magnificent Court, the monarch approached the House of Lords.
     Preceded by the great officers of state and of the household, he
     moved through the vast halls, which were filled with troops in iron
     mail, as the outside courts were with horse, while the guns boomed,
     and martial music filled the air. Having stopped in the robing
     chamber in order to put on his crown, he entered the House and
     ascended the throne, while his officers and ministers crowded
     around him. As soon as he was seated, he ordered the usher of the
     black rod to summon the Commons; and his Majesty, after passing
     some bills, addressed them. By those who were present, the effect
     will not soon be forgotten, of the first words he pronounced, or
     the firmness with which they were uttered, when he said that 'he
     had come to meet his Parliament in order to prorogue it, with a
     view to its immediate dissolution, for the purpose of ascertaining
     the sense of his people in regard to such changes in the
     representation as circumstances might appear to require.' He then,
     with an audible voice, commanded the Lord Chancellor to prorogue;
     which being done, the Houses dispersed, and the royal procession
     returned amidst the hearty and enthusiastic shouts of thousands of
     the people."

Great praise is due to the "Sailor King" for the firmness with which he
stood by his reform ministers in this crisis, despite the clamors of
alarmists in Church and State.

At the elections, the friends of the bill swept the country. They
carried nearly all the counties, and all the cities and large towns. Its
opponents obtained their recruits chiefly from close corporations and
rotten boroughs. The English bill was proposed in the New House on the
24th of June, and, after a running fight of three months, passed the
Commons by 109 majority, and was sent to the Lords. The greatest anxiety
was felt for its fate in that refuge of ancient conservatism. The debate
on the second reading continued four nights. On the last evening,
October 7th, Lord Brougham spoke five hours in its support, making the
great effort of his remarkable life. His speech was an era in the
history of that House.

He replied _seriatim_ to the opponents of the measure, dissecting this
lord with keen logic, scathing that marquis with impassioned rebuke,
holding this duke's ignorance up to ridicule, putting down the
effrontery of that viscount, basting this earl with the oil of flattery
while he roasted him with intense reasoning, and bringing to the defense
and elucidation of the bill those rich stores of learning, argument,
eloquence, wit, sarcasm, denunciation, and appeal, which have given him
an undying name. The radical boldness of his doctrines, and the
_abandon_ with which he demolished "illustrious dukes," or tore the
drapery from "noble lords," were no less remarkable features of this
speech, than its transcendent ability. Lord Dudley, probably the first
scholar and the most polished orator in the House, had sneered at "the
statesmen of Birmingham, and the philosophers of Manchester." Brougham
repelled the sneer, and, in a passage of keen severity, contrasted Lord
Dudley's accomplishments with the practical sense of the men he had
traduced, closing it by saying, "To affirm that I could ever dream of
putting the noble earl's opinions, aye, or his knowledge, in any
comparison with the bold, rational, judicious, reflecting, natural, and,
because natural, the trustworthy opinions of those honest men, who
always give their strong sense fair play, having no affectations to warp
their judgment--to dream of any such comparison as this, would be, on my
part, a flattery far too gross for any courtesy, or a blindness which no
habits of friendship could excuse."

He brought his great speech to a close, by uttering this solemn warning:

     "My lords, I do not disguise the intense solicitude I feel for the
     event of this debate, because I know full well that the peace of
     the country is involved in the issue. I cannot look without dismay
     at the rejection of this measure. But, grievous as may be the
     consequences of a temporary defeat--temporary it can only be--for
     its ultimate, and even speedy success, is certain. Nothing can now
     stop it. Do not suffer yourselves to be persuaded that, even if the
     present ministers were driven from the helm, any one could steer
     you through the troubles which surround you, without reform. But
     our successors would take up the task in circumstances far less
     auspicious. Under them, you would be fain to grant a bill, compared
     with which, the one we now proffer you is moderate indeed. Hear the
     parable of the Sybil; for it conveys a wise and wholesome moral.
     She now appears at your gate, and offers you mildly the volumes,
     the precious volumes of wisdom and peace. The price she asks is
     reasonable; to restore the franchise which, without any bargain,
     you ought voluntarily to give. You refuse her terms, her moderate
     terms. She darkens the porch no longer. But soon, for you cannot do
     without her wares, you call her back. Again she comes, but with
     diminished treasures. The leaves of the book are in part torn away
     by lawless hands; in part defaced with characters of blood. But the
     prophetic maid has risen in her demands--it is Parliaments by the
     Year--it is Vote by the Ballot--it is Suffrage by the Million! From
     this, you turn away indignant, and for a second time she departs.
     Beware of her third coming; for the treasure you must have; and
     what price she may next demand, who shall tell? It may be even the
     mace which rests upon that woolsack. What may follow your course of
     obstinacy, if persisted in, I cannot take upon me to predict, nor
     do I wish to conjecture. But this I well know--that, as sure as man
     is mortal, and to err is human, justice deferred enhances the price
     at which you must purchase safety and peace; nor can you expect to
     gather in another crop than they did who went before you, if you
     persevere in their utterly abominable husbandry, of sowing
     injustice and reaping rebellion.... You are the highest judicature
     in the realm. It is a judge's first duty never to pronounce
     sentence, in the most trifling case, without hearing. Will you make
     this the exception? Are you really prepared to determine, but not
     to hear, the mighty cause upon which a nation's hopes and fears
     hang? You are! Then beware of your decision! Rouse not a
     peace-loving but resolute people. Alienate not from your body the
     affections of a whole empire. I counsel you to assist with your
     uttermost efforts in preserving the peace, and upholding and
     perpetuating the Constitution. Therefore I pray and exhort you not
     to reject this measure. By all you hold dear--by all the ties that
     bind every one of us to our common order and our common country, I
     solemnly adjure you, I warn you, I implore you, yea, on my bended
     knees, I supplicate you, reject not this bill!"

The warning and the appeal were in vain. The bill was thrown out on the
second reading by 41 majority. The struggle for the mastery between the
people and the nobility had now come. The Commons adopted a strong vote
of confidence in ministers, and ministers resolved to stand by the bill.
Parliament was prorogued till December. In the vacation, reform meetings
assembled in unprecedented numbers. On one of these occasions, at
Taunton, Sydney Smith first brought to notice a venerable matron whose
name is likely to be immortal in both hemispheres. In the course of his
speech, the witty divine said:

     "I do not mean to be disrespectful, but the attempt of the Lords to
     stop the progress of reform reminds me very forcibly of the great
     storm of Sidmouth, and of the conduct of the excellent Mrs.
     Partington on the occasion. In the winter of 1824, there set in a
     great flood upon that town--the tide rose to an incredible
     hight--the waves rushed in upon the houses, and everything was
     threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime and
     terrible storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen
     at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop
     and squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the
     Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs. Partington's spirit
     was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The
     Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop,
     or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a tempest.
     Gentlemen, be at your ease--be quiet and steady. You will beat Mrs.

A few riots gave diversity to the scene. At Derby, the mob demolished
the property of some anti-reformers--they terribly frightened Sir
Charles Wetherell, at Bristol--they burnt the Duke of Newcastle's
turreted seat, at Nottingham--they smashed the windows of Apsley House,
the town residence of the Duke of Wellington. The country was profoundly
agitated, and the firmness of ministers averted a revolution.

Parliament met in December. The king's speech urged reform. Lord John
introduced the English bill, slightly improved. A factious opposition,
and an adjournment for the holidays, kept it suspended till the 22d of
March, 1832, when it passed the Commons, and was sent to the Lords.
After a hot debate, it passed the second reading, when a hostile
amendment, which destroyed its utility, was sprung upon the House and
adopted, on the 7th of May. The next day, Lord Grey asked, according to
a previous understanding, for the creation of a sufficient number of
Peers to carry the bill. The King declined. Ministers instantly
resigned. The Commons addressed the King in behalf of ministers, with
rare boldness. The people assembled _en masse_, and petitioned the
Commons to stop the supplies. Many meetings resolved to pay no more
taxes till the bill became a law. The King requested Wellington to form
a compromise administration. At this proposal, the popular indignation
was kindled afresh. Things were approaching a fearful crisis. The Duke
tried to execute the royal wish--the ultras of both parties were not
invited to seats in the Cabinet--the half-and-half reformers would not
come through fear--and he gave up the task in despair. The King recalled
Grey, with a pledge to create new Peers, if necessary. This brought the
refractory Lords to terms. Dreading the introduction of so large a body
of liberals into their ancient hall, whose votes would avail the
reformers in future contests, a sufficient number of Tories absented
themselves from the Peers to insure the passage of the bill. Those who
remained concentrated, in their dying denunciations, the venom of the
entire opposition. The English bill received the royal assent on the 7th
of June, 1832. The Scotch and Irish bills speedily followed, and the
month of July, after a two years' contest, which had shaken the empire
to its center, saw the new Constitution of the House of Commons

Though the Reform bill has not proved to be so large a concession to the
popular demands as was intended, nor as beneficial to the country as was
anticipated, it was the greatest tribute to the democratic principle
which the nation had paid since the Commonwealth. Its defects will be
discussed when we examine the Chartist movement.


Henry Lord Brougham--His Life, Services, and Character.

In connection with the passage of the Reform bill, it is proper to
notice one of the foremost Englishmen of this century--HENRY BROUGHAM.
Nothing strikes one more forcibly in the life of this extraordinary
person than the number and variety of the subjects upon which he has
exerted his powers. His published speeches and writings on either one of
several of the political measures he has advocated, if viewed merely as
intellectual efforts, might satisfy the ambition of an honorable
aspirant after forensic or literary fame. The aggregate constitutes
hardly a tithe of his achievements in the cognate departments of public
affairs. From his entrance into the House of Commons down to the present
time, his name glows on every page of England's parliamentary history;
and his posterity will permit but few of the myriad rays that encircle
it to be effaced or obscured. As an advocate and a jurist, many of his
speeches at the bar and opinions on the bench will live long after the
law of libel and the court of chancery cease to oppress and vex mankind.
His services in the cause of popular education, whether we regard the
time expended, the ability displayed, or the results attained, surpass
the labors of many persons who have been assigned to a foremost place
among the eminent benefactors of their age. His contributions to the
Edinburgh Review, covering its whole existence, and a large circle of
literary, scientific, political, social, legal, and historical subjects,
would class him with the highest rank of periodical essayists. His more
substantial works, as Sketches of Eminent Statesmen, History of the
French Revolution, Lives of Men of Letters and Science, Discourse on
Natural Theology, Political Philosophy, composed amidst the cares of
public official station, would suffice to give him an enduring name in
the republic of letters.

Great as are his mental achievements, it is as the early advocate of
social progress and political reform--the champion of liberty and peace,
the friend of man--that he is worthy of all his cotemporaneous fame, and
all the applause which coming generations will bestow on his memory.
Inconsistency, the common infirmity of mortals, has checkered his
course--eccentricity, "the twin brother of genius," has been his
frequent companion--independence, whose adjacent province is obstinacy,
he has largely exhibited; but, while the history of England, during the
first third of the nineteenth century, remains, it will display to the
impartial eye few names to excite more grateful admiration in every
lover of his race than that which, from the abolition of the slave trade
in 1806, to the abolition of slavery in 1834, was synonymous with
intelligent progress and useful reform.

I believe Brougham was born about the year 1779. We first hear of him,
when twenty years old, in Edinburgh, communicating some papers on
geometry to the Royal Society in London, which were highly applauded,
and translated into foreign tongues. In 1808, he appeared as counsel at
the bar of Parliament, in behalf of the commercial and manufacturing
interests, against the celebrated _Orders in Council_, which followed
the Berlin Decree of Napoleon, and preceded the American Embargo. His
examination of witnesses, extending through several weeks, and his
closing argument, gave him a high reputation in England, and a name both
in Europe and the United States. In 1809-10, he entered the theater
where, for forty years, he has displayed his extraordinary gifts. His
first published speech in Parliament, delivered in 1810, was a powerful
appeal in favor of addressing the Throne for more effectual measures to
suppress the slave trade. His next great effort was in 1812, when,
assisted by Mr. Baring, (Lord Ashburton,) he examined witnesses for
several weeks before the House of Commons, to prove that the still
unrescinded Orders were ruining the trade and manufactures of the
country, and provoking a war with the United States. At the close, he
supported an address to the Throne for their repeal, in a speech replete
with information, ably defending the policy of unrestricted commerce,
and eloquently vindicating the superiority of the arts of peace over the
glories of war. The motion prevailed--but too late to avert hostilities.
Congress declared war the very day the speech was delivered.

His services in the cause of the people from this time downward, have
been referred to in these chapters, as various subjects have passed
under consideration. During the long and almost hopeless struggle of
Liberty with Power, from 1810 to 1830, when he was removed from the
theater of his greatest fame, he led the forlorn hope in the House of
Commons. Unlike his great prototype, Fox, he never for a moment retired
from the field in disgust and despair, but was ever at his post,
stimulating the drooping spirits of his friends, hurling defiance at his
foes, and rising from every defeat with renewed courage and strength.
Though classified among the heads of the Opposition in the House, he
never was--he never would be, in the strict sense, a party "leader."
Nor, on the contrary, did he surround himself with a "clique" or
"interest," whose oracle he was. Supporting the measures of the Whigs,
he was ever in advance of them, cheering on the masses, as the Tribune
of the people, and fighting the partisan battles of Reform as the
guerrilla chief of Liberty.

In an evil hour, he was transplanted from his "native heath" to the
conservatory of the aristocracy. Though surrounded by uncongenial
spirits, and haunted with the nightmare of conservatism, the soul of
McGregor retained for years much of its original fire in a place whose
chilling atmosphere made the lion blood of a Chatham to stagnate and
curdle. Some of his mightiest efforts in the good cause were put forth
after he _descended_ to the upper House of Parliament.

Had Brougham coveted and obtained "leadership" in its party sense, in
either House, he must have failed. Too original, independent, wayward,
and dogmatical, to be implicitly trusted and obeyed by his equals; too
incautious and pushing; too impatient of dullness; too much of a genius,
to be always appreciated and confided in by his inferiors, though he
would have been applauded by the masses; yet his premiership, had he
accepted the offer of King William, could not have long survived the
passage of the Reform bill. With the exception of taking the great seal,
he has chosen to be what he is--a rare comet, created to move in no
orbit but its own--beautiful and lustrous in the distance, but grand and
terrible in proximity.

The public measures with which he is most closely identified are--the
advocacy of the manufacturing and commercial interests, as opposed to
Orders in Council and other restrictions on trade; hostility to the
continental combinations of the successors of Pitt, and their legitimate
offspring, exhausting wars and the Holy Alliance; the vindication of
Queen Caroline, in the struggle with her libertine husband; the freedom
of the press, attempted to be overawed by prosecutions for libels on the
Government and the church; the education of the middle and lower orders;
religious toleration for dissenters and Catholics; reform in the civil
and criminal law; parliamentary reform; municipal reform; poor laws
reform; the abolition of the slave trade and slavery; retrenchment in
Government expenditures; the independence of the Canadian Legislature,
and the repeal of the corn laws. What a catalogue have we here! Upon all
these measures, each of which was an era in British history, Brougham
has acted a leading, and upon many, a controlling part. His speeches
upon most of them surpassed those of any other of their advocates,
whether we consider the extent of the information displayed, the depth
and energy of the reasoning, the scope and vigor of the style, the
eloquence of the appeals to justice and humanity, or the majesty and
splendor of the higher passages.

Lord Brougham's fame, as an orator, has filled two hemispheres. We will
look at him in the two aspects of matter and manner.

The four volumes of his speeches, with others gleaned from the
Parliamentary reports, prove that his reputation is well founded. Their
leading characteristic is power--crushing power--as distinguished from
beauty and grace. They are not so gorgeous as Burke's, nor so compact as
Webster's. But they contain more information and argument, and less
philosophy and fancy, than the former's--more versatility and vigor, and
less staid grandeur and studied method, than the latter's. As
_speeches_, rather than _orations_, addressed to a deliberative body of
friends and foes, who are to _act_ upon the subject under discussion,
they are more practical and to the matter in hand than Burke's; more
hearty and soul-stirring than Webster's. Their style is a mixture of
Burke and Webster--less extravagant anywhere than some passages of the
former; frequently more slovenly than any passage of the latter; with
more of bitter personal taunt and lofty rebuke of fraud, meanness, and
oppression, than either. Viewed as literary productions, regardless of
the immediate fruits they produced, they will hardly stand the test of
posthumous fame like Burke's. Less universal in their application, less
penetrated with principles adapted alike to all times, they often betray
the advocate instead of the statesman, the partisan rather than the
philosopher, the leader and champion of cotemporaries rather than the
instructor and mentor of posterity. But it still remains a question,
whether they were not the more valuable on that very account. Their
immediate effect in moving masses of men, and molding public measures,
far surpassed that of Burke's. And though the _words_ of the latter may
outlive those of the former, we have the highest authority for saying,
blessed are those whose _works_ survive them.

Lord Brougham's speeches deal little in mere declamation, even of the
highest order, but are pregnant with apposite facts and arguments,
giving the reader or hearer an unusual amount of information upon the
matters under discussion. He excels, when he tries, in a plain, lucid
statement of his subject; as witness, his speech on law reform, in 1828,
when, for seven hours, he held the close attention of the unprofessional
House of Commons, while he sketched the absurdities and abuses of every
branch of the common law, and detailed the amendments he proposed in its
principles and administration. But this is not his _forte_, and for that
very reason his dexterity and self-control excite our admiration the
more. If you would see him in his greatest moods, you must give him a
person or a party to attack, which shall arouse his combative
propensities, and bring his invective and sarcasm into full play; or
some giant abuse to anathematize and demolish, which shall inflame his
indignation and abhorrence.

We gather from his own statements that the garb and colors in which he
attires the main body of a speech--the mere style and diction--are the
impulse of the occasion; as most of the sarcasms and rebukes are flung
out in the heat of delivery. But, where time for preparation is
afforded, no speaker is more careful in arranging the general drift of
the argument, and digesting the facts to illustrate and sustain it;
whilst certain passages, such as the exordium or peroration, are the
result of the most pains-taking labors of the closet. He has recorded
that the peroration of his speech in the Queen's case was written no
less than ten times before he thought it fit for so august an occasion.
The same is probably true of similar passages in Webster's speeches; it
is known to be so of Burke's.

No orator of our times is more successful in embalming phrases, full of
meaning, in the popular memory. The well-known talismanic sentiment,
"_The schoolmaster is abroad_," is an instance. In a speech on the
elevation of Wellington, a mere "military chieftain," to the
premiership, after the death of Canning, Brougham said: "Field Marshal
the Duke of Wellington may take the army--he may take the navy--he may
take the great seal--he may take the miter. I make him a present of them
all. Let him come on with his whole force, sword in hand, against the
Constitution, and the English people will not only beat him back, but
laugh at his assaults. In other times, the country may have heard with
dismay that 'the soldier was abroad.' It will not be so now. Let the
soldier be abroad if he will; he can do nothing in this age. There is
another personage abroad--a personage less imposing--in the eyes of
some, perhaps, insignificant. The schoolmaster is abroad; and I trust to
him, armed with his primer, against the soldier in full military array."

Turning from the matter to the manner of the orator, (if we have not
already passed the boundary,) Brougham stood unrivaled as a debater in
the House of Commons. For twenty years he swayed the intellect and
passions of the House, by his muscular and courageous eloquence, whilst
Castlereagh, Canning, and Peel controlled its majorities and dictated
its measures, by the wave of their official wand. Castlereagh was more
self-possessed and matter-of-fact than he; Canning more brilliant and
classical; Peel more dexterous and plausible. But, in weight of metal,
he surpassed them all. His oratory was not the brawl and foam of a
dashing mountain torrent, but the steady roar of the deep, broad
cataract. In ability to inflame friends and foes, and shake the House
till it quaked, he equaled either Chatham or Fox. When thoroughly
roused, with all his elements in full play, he thundered and lightened
till the knights of the shire clung to the Benches for support, the
Ministers cowered behind the Speaker's chair for shelter, and the voting
members started from their slumbers in the side galleries, as if the
last trump were ringing in their ears.

Chatham introduced the style of the House of Commons into the debates of
the House of Lords. Brougham's appearance there constituted almost as
new an era in its oratory as the advent of Chatham. It was my good
fortune to hear him two or three times in the Lords, several years
ago--once when his best powers were put in action for a brief hour.

We enter the House of Peers. The lions--Brougham, Grey, Wellington,
Lyndhurst, Melbourne--are in their places. An exciting debate is going
forward, which has taken rather a personal turn. Yonder is Brougham,
stretched out half his length on one of the Ministerial benches; now
listening to a clumsy Earl on the floor, whom he eyes with a portentous
scowl; anon whispering a hurried word to the Peer at his elbow. What an
ungainly figure! Those long legs and arms, loosely hung in their
sockets, give him a slouching air. Human face could hardly look more
ugly or intellectual. His iron-gray hair bristles over his forehead like
the quills of the fretful porcupine. His restless eye peers through
eyebrows that seem alive with nerves. He must be agitated with the
debate, for he writhes as though his red cushion were a sheet of hot
iron. He suddenly starts up, (who ever knew him to sit still five
minutes?) walks with long strides toward the door, and while chatting
with the ladies, his tormentor stops, and the ex-Chancellor cries, with
startling emphasis, (lest some one get the floor before him,) "My
Lords!" and slowly advances to the table in front of the woolsack. An
audible _hush_ runs round the chamber; for they had been anticipating a
reply from the mercurial lord. Every whisper ceases, and all eyes are
fixed on the towering intellect before them. The Peeresses leave their
damask chairs, and approach the bar, to get a better view of the orator.
Members of the House of Commons, till now chatting round the bar, lean
forward in silence. The loungers in the lobbies enter the Hall, the word
having passed out, "Brougham is up!" The untitled spectators rise from
their seats on the carpet, where fatigue had sunk them, and stand on
tiptoe, to catch every glance of the eye and wave of the hand of the
scholar and statesman, whilst the crowded galleries forget their
lassitude in listening to one whose name and fame are the property of

But to the speech. Listen to that first sentence! How it plunges into
the very center of the subject. Every word is an argument--every period
a demonstration. The first blow knocks the keystone from his last
antagonist's speech, and tumbles the whole structure on his affrighted
head and shoulders. And the dandy young Lord, over in the corner, who,
in the puny oration he recited so prettily an hour ago, went out of his
way to sneer at Brougham--see the blood fly from his cheeks when his
nice little piece of rhetoric comes rattling in bits round his ears. As
the lion fixes his eye on him, he would give his coronet and his curls
if he could slink into a nutshell. A fiery glance or two having withered
him, the monarch of the debate grapples with worthier antagonists. What
a sweep does he give to the argument--what redundancy of facts--what
fertility of illustration. How large the field of his comprehension--how
exhaustless and varied its resources. What execution is done by those
long-drawn sentences, with parenthesis within parenthesis, each a
logical syllogism, or a home-thrust fact, or a blighting sarcasm, wound
round and round his victims, till they are crushed in their folds! Great
in matter, his speech is equally powerful in manner; violating every law
of rhetoric and oratory promulgated by the schools, he is a law unto
himself--original, commanding, majestic.

Brougham, having demolished his antagonists, took a seat at the clerk's
table, and began to write a letter, when the Chancellor (Cottenham) rose
and commenced a conciliatory speech. His calm, slow, cool manner
contrasted strongly with the tempest which had just passed over our
heads, reminding us of those dewy showers which follow smilingly in the
trail of a dark cloud, after its thunder and lightning and torrent have
raged and blazed and poured, and passed away.

This great man has been described so often, that not only his public
history and mental character, but his personal peculiarities--yea, the
nervous twitching of his eyebrows--are as familiar to Americans as to
the reporters in the gallery of the House of Lords. As an orator or
debater, he is sometimes compared to Webster. The very attempt is unjust
to both. You might as well compare the repose of Lake Erie to the
thunder of Niagara. Each has his own sphere of greatness. The Bostonian
rarely enters the arena of debate, unless clad in mail to his fingers'
ends--a safe and strong debater. Not so the Londoner. He sometimes
rushes, sword in hand, without scabbard or shield, into the thickest of
the fight, and gets sorely galled. Little arrows do not pierce Webster,
nor do ordinary occasions summon forth his heaviest weapons. But
Brougham, why, he will fight with anybody, and on any terms. The
smallest Lilliput in the House can sting him into paroxysms with his
needle-spear. But wo to the assailant! The bolt which annihilates the
Earl of Musketo is equally heavy with that which strikes down the Duke
of Wellington. As a whole, Brougham is unlike any of our public men.
Could we mix into one compound the several qualities of Webster, Clay,
Choate, Benton, and the late John Quincy Adams, and divide the mass into
four or five parts, we might, by adding a strong tincture of John C.
Calhoun, make four or five very good Henry Broughams.

I have spoken of the versatility of Brougham's talents and acquirements.
Sir E. B. Sugden was arguing a cause before him in chancery. The
Chancellor was not very attentive to the argument, employing part of the
time in writing letters. This greatly piqued Sugden; and on retiring
from the court, he drily said to a friend, "If Brougham only knew a
little of Chancery law, he would know a little of everything."
Undoubtedly he knows something about everything, and much about most
things. Somebody has compared him to a Scotch Encyclopedia, without
alphabetical arrangement. If he has not reached the highest place in any
department of knowledge, it is because, in traversing so vast a field,
he must here and there be necessarily only a gleaner. His success in so
many departments proves that had he cultivated but one or two, he might
have surpassed all cotemporary competition. Looking to the variety and
extent of his acquisitions and labors, posterity will regard him as one
of the most extraordinary men of his time. He reached his eminent
position by no royal road. He is among the most laborious and diligent
of men. Well known facts attest his wonderful activity.

His able work, "Practical Observations upon the Education of the
People," published in 1825, was composed, he says, during hours stolen
from sleep. Combe states of him, that he was once engaged in a court of
law all day, from which he went to the House of Commons, and mingled in
the debate till two o'clock in the morning; he then retired to his
house, and wrote upon an article for the Edinburgh Review till it was
time to go to the court, where he was actively employed till the hour
for the assembling of the Commons; thither he went, and participated in
the discussion as vigorously as usual till long after midnight--taking
no rest till the morning of the third day! The witty Hazlitt, alluding,
at the time, to his speeches on commercial and manufacturing distress,
said, "He is apprised of the exact state of our exports and imports, and
scarce a ship clears out its cargo from Liverpool or Hull, but he has a
copy of the bill of lading." It will be remembered, that while
performing his political and miscellaneous labors, he was surrounded by
a large circle of professional clients. His inaugural discourse, as Lord
Rector of the University of Glasgow, thickly strown with Greek and Latin
quotations, was, as the preface informs us, written during the business
of the Northern Circuit. Sydney Smith says, in one of his graphic Reform
speeches, "See the gigantic Brougham, sworn in at twelve o'clock, [as
Chancellor,] and before six, has a bill on the table abolishing the
abuses of a Court which has been the curse of the people of England for

A full share of the preparation and defense of the measures of Earl
Grey's Administration devolved on him; while at the same time he did the
work of an ordinary man in writing rudimental articles for the Penny
Magazine, and scientific tracts for the Society for the Diffusion of
Useful Knowledge, lecturing to Mechanics' Institutes, and contributing
essays to the Edinburgh Review. An English friend informed me that
during one of the busiest periods of his official life, a fatal accident
happened to some laborers in excavating a deep well. Forthwith, out came
a tract from the Lord Chancellor, on the best and safest mode of digging
wells! Though his numerous publications and addresses on learned
subjects, and his participation in the proceedings of the Royal Society
and French Institute showed their author to be a scientific man, his
later Lives of Men of Letters and Science exhibited an acquaintance with
the sciences in his old age, for which his friends were hardly prepared.
In the particulars here mentioned, no public man of our country can be
compared with him, except the late John Quincy Adams, for whose
wonderful exploits in his declining years Lord Brougham expressed the
highest admiration.

The great political error of his life was his acceptance of the
Chancellorship, and consequent removal from the House of Commons. It may
be remarked, in passing, that it is a mistake to suppose he diminished
his reputation as a lawyer by his judicial administration. He was never
a first-rate technical lawyer. His mind was too broad, his ambition too
high, to be a _mere_ lawyer, tied down with red tape to _nisi prius_
precedents and the _dicta_ of cases. The profession to him was not an
end, as it was to Scarlett and his school, but a subsidiary means to
attain political eminence and influence. A great cause, like that of
Queen Caroline, or of Williams, indicted for a libel on the Durham
clergy, showed what he could accomplish when he bent his powers to
professional work. His speeches on Law Reform prove his minute
acquaintance with and utter contempt for the great body of the common
law, as administered by the courts; and when presiding in a tribunal
whose currents had been brought to a dead stand by the "everlasting
doubts" of Lord Eldon, the best service he could render suitors and the
country was to clear out the channels, and set the streams flowing, even
though he might make mistakes in acting on the expedient maxim, that "it
is better to have a case decided wrong, than not at all."

No man laments his removal to the upper House more keenly than himself.
Speaking of Chatham's removal, he says, "No one ever did it voluntarily
without bitterly rueing the step, when he found the price paid to be the
loss of all real power." Grey first offered him the gown of Attorney
General. Feeling it to be beneath his position in the Reform party, he
contemptuously rejected it. The great seal was then placed in his hand.
He should rather have taken the pen of one of the Secretaries of State,
and remained on his "native heath." There he would have been at home,
and there he would have been now. By superiority of intellect, or his
"managing" or "pushing" propensity, the chief defense of the ministry in
the Peers devolved on him instead of the Premier. He was in a false
position. His native element was opposition. He was unequaled at tearing
down--he had no skill for building up. The Reformers expected much from
the new Administration, and everything from Brougham. All went smoothly
till the Reform bill passed. Large quantities of ripe fruit were
expected thereupon to be immediately gathered. Sydney Smith foreshadowed
this, in his droll way. Said he, in a speech during the struggle, "All
young ladies will imagine, as soon as this bill is carried, that they
will be instantly married. Schoolboys believe that gerunds and supines
will be abolished, and that currant tarts must ultimately come down in
price; the corporal and sergeant are sure of double pay; bad poets will
expect a demand for their epics; fools will be disappointed, as they
always are; reasonable men, who know what to expect, will find that a
very serious good has been obtained."

Much was done for Reform by the Grey ministry, after the passage of the
bill. In less than two years, West India slavery was abolished--the East
India Company's monopoly destroyed--the poor laws amended--the criminal
code softened--the administration of the Courts essentially
improved--the Scotch municipal corporations totally reformed--and many
abuses corrected in the Irish Church Establishment. But young ladies,
bad poets, and fools of all sorts, clamored for more; and many
reasonable men were disappointed. The dead weights on advance movements
were the Melbournes, the Palmerstons, the Grants, who, having bitterly
opposed Reform all their days, were converted at the eleventh hour of
the recent struggle, and brought into the Cabinet. The fatal measure of
the Administration was an attempt to suppress agitation in Ireland, by a
Coercion bill, which excited a quarrel with O'Connell, and divisions in
the Cabinet, and finally led to the resignation of Grey. Glad to escape
from an uneasy position, Brougham soon followed. Would that he could
have got rid of his title, like Mirabeau, by opening a shop, and gone
back to the Commons! But it stuck to him like the tunic of Nessus.
Though consigned to perpetual membership in a body possessing no
original influence in the State, and hemmed in by the usages of a mere
revisional council, he has now and then shown himself "Harry Brougham"
still. His speeches in the Lords on Parliamentary, legal, municipal, and
poor laws Reform; on popular education; abolishing subscription in the
universities; retrenchment; abolition of negro apprenticeship, and the
African and Eastern slave trade; Canadian independence; repeal of the
corn laws; and other topics, exhibit no abatement of intellectual power,
or, so far as concerns those subjects, of regard for popular rights and
social improvement. Indeed, some of them rank among his greatest and
best forensic displays. The speech on the education of the people in
1835 contains as much valuable information, and that on negro
apprenticeship in 1838, as many eloquent passages, as any he ever

The conflict with Melbourne in 1837-8, which threw him out of Court and
Whig favor, was a matter of course, if not premeditated. In a speech at
Liverpool, just after his resignation in 1835, he declared that "his
position of absolute political independence" would not be abandoned to
join or sustain any Ministry that did not stand by the people, and go
for large measures of reform. In 1837-8, on the Canada question, he
first assailed the Melbourne Cabinet; he being for restoring peace to
the colony, by granting the petition of its Legislature for an elective
council, they for crushing disaffection by a dictator and the sword. His
defense of the Canadian reformers was generous, bold, radical, and
eloquent; worthy of the times when the young Commoner shook the Tory
chiefs from the point of his lance, and fulminated living thunders at
the crowned despots of the Holy Alliance. Pointing his long finger at
the quailing Melbourne, he said, "Do the Ministers desire to know what
will restore me to their support, and make me once more fight zealously
in their ranks, as I once fought with them against the majority of your
lordships? I will tell them here! Let them retract their declaration
against Reform, delivered the first night of this session; and their
second declaration, by which, to use the noble Viscount's phrase, they
_exacerbated_ the first; or let them, without any retraction, only bring
forward liberal and constitutional measures, and they will have no more
zealous supporter than myself. But, in the mean time, I now hurl my
defiance at their heads!"

But, the truth of history requires that another view be taken of these
transactions of 1835-8, and a far less eulogistic strain be employed in
noticing the course of Lord Brougham for the last ten or twelve years.
Early taught to admire him as the gallant leader of English reformers,
it is painful to say, that during this period his conduct has been
frequently such as to forfeit the esteem and confidence of his friends
on both sides of the Atlantic, and to give currency to the charge that
his line of action has been caused by chagrin at being left out of the
Melbourne ministry, and to strengthen the suspicion that his
denunciations of that Administration for faltering in the work of reform
were dictated by mortified pride and thwarted ambition. For five or six
years subsequent to 1835, he frequently attacked men and principles
which he had won all his fame by previously advocating. But, it must not
be forgotten, that, though supported by neither party and assailed by
both, and set upon by Tory terriers and Whig whipsters, which betrayed
him into losses of temper and dignity, it was in these years that he
carried through Parliament several valuable reforms; whilst his
writings--those records for the perusal of posterity--exhibited no
marked change in his regard for liberal institutions.

On the return of the Tories to power, in 1841, he made a still wider
departure from his early path. He has since shown much acerbity of
temper, given his vote quite as often to the opponents as to the friends
of reform, and has succeeded in alienating the affections of many of
those who adhered to him during the Melbourne Administration. He has
been alternately wayward, sour, vindictive, bold, brilliant, noble;
exciting the contempt and fears of his enemies, and the disgust and
admiration of his friends; now cracking a joke on the Duke of
Wellington, that set the House in a roar, and then pounding the head of
Melbourne till its chambers rang again; playing off eccentricities on
some railway bill for the amusement of Punch, while sending to press a
work on Voltaire and Rousseau that astonished Paris; giving his cheering
voice to the repeal of the corn laws, and his growling "non-content"
against the repeal of the navigation laws; making himself ridiculous by
trying to force his way into the French National Convention, and being
received with loud plaudits as he entered the hall of the French
National Institute; now losing and then winning the favor of the people;
and ever and anon silencing the cry that "his powers were failing," by
pronouncing a speech that startled the walls of St. Stephen's, and made
every hilltop and valley in the land echo back the shout, "Brougham is
himself again!"

It was a remark of Madame de Stael, that "Foreigners are a kind of
cotemporaneous posterity." Americans may therefore pass an unbiased
judgment upon the character of Lord Brougham. When his imperfections are
forgotten in the grave, and the mists of prejudice and of party are
cleared away, Posterity, which generously throws a vail over the follies
and frailties of genius, will not willingly withhold from his tomb the
epitaph he coveted in one of his earliest speeches--"HERE LIES THE


     Charles, Earl Grey--Advocates Abolition of the Slave Trade--His
     Rise to Power--His Aid in Carrying the Reform Bill--Sydney Smith's
     Eulogy--His Two Great Measures, Parliamentary Reform and Abolition
     of Slavery--The Old and New Whigs--The "Coming Man."

A sketch of Modern English Reformers, which should omit special mention
of CHARLES, EARL GREY, would be defective. For fifty eventful years, he
took an active part in public affairs, and, with scarcely an exception,
was found on the liberal side. With a mind cast in a highly polished,
but not extraordinarily capacious mold, and in the attributes of
originality and genius dwindling by the side of Fox and Brougham, he
fully equaled either of these great men in calm sagacity and firmness of
purpose. And if his oratory was not of the bold and vigorous type which
marked theirs, it was of a high order; graceful, flowing, and classical,
and set off by a manner always dignified, and in his younger days
peculiarly fascinating.

Entering Parliament in 1786, when he had just reached majority, he
immediately distinguished himself by a speech in opposition to the
policy of Mr. Pitt. His rapid rise in the House is attested by the fact,
that two years after his entrance, he was thought fit to occupy a place
on the committee for the impeachment of Warren Hastings, by the side of
Burke, Fox, Wyndham, and Sheridan. The year before, he had given a
remarkable exhibition of the firmness and integrity which formed so
striking a feature in his future life. In the debate on the Prince of
Wales' (George IV) debts, Mr. Fox, by direction of the Prince, had
denied, in his place, the marriage of the Prince with Mrs. Fitzherbert.
The lady was sorely offended. She must be appeased by a public
explanation. Wales applied to Grey to make some ambiguous statement in
the House, which, without contradicting Fox, might seem to her to do so.
Grey contemptuously refused to be the instrument of the royal debauchee,
which ever after made him his enemy.

In 1792, he joined with Whitbread, Erskine, Francis, Sheridan, and
Cartwright, in organizing the society for Parliamentary reform, called
"The Friends of the People," and the same year sustained their petition
in the House by a radical speech, in which he declared, rather than
submit to the existing system of representation, he would adopt
universal suffrage.

He was a member of the Grenville-Fox ministry--ably advocated its great
measure of the abolition of the slave trade--and, on the death of Fox,
assumed his post as Foreign Secretary, with the lead of the Commons. An
attempt to carry a bill to open the army and navy to Roman Catholics
provoked a quarrel with the bigoted old King, which threw out the
ministry, and brought forth Sydney Smith's immortal Peter Plymley
Letters. The death of his father the next year (1807) removed him to the
House of Lords, where, during the following twenty-three years of royal
proscription, his voice was ever heard defending the drooping cause of
human freedom.

His rise to power, and the circumstances under which his ministry
carried the Reform bill, have been detailed. The calm courage of the
Premier steered the Government safely through this unprecedented
tempest. Nerves less firm would have relinquished the helm in
trepidation--an eye less steady would, by some precipitous movement,
have whelmed all in destruction. On that memorable night, when the
galleries, and lobbies, and every passage leading to "the tapestried
chamber," were crowded with anxious spectators, and the venerable
building itself was besieged with excited throngs, representing all
stations in society and all shades in politics, who had come up to the
metropolis from every part of the kingdom, to witness the decision of
the long-pending struggle between the people and the patricians, Earl
Grey, with a dignity and solemn earnestness befitting the august
occasion, told the ancient nobility of Britain, that "though he was
proud of the rank to which they in common belonged, and would peril much
to save it from ruin, yet if they were determined to reject that bill,
and throw it scornfully back in the faces of an aroused and determined
people, he warned them to set their houses speedily in order, for their
hour had come!" History has recorded the result of that appeal. The
vassal rose up a man--the man stood forth an elector. The majesty of the
subject was asserted, and the hereditary rulers of England swore
allegiance to the principle, "the People are the legitimate source of
Power." Never did popular agitation, wielding the peaceful weapons of
truth, more brilliantly display its superiority over physical force, and
the enginery of war, in accomplishing a great and salutary revolution.

Sydney Smith, speaking of Earl Grey, at a Reform meeting, while the bill
was pending, said: "You are directed by a minister who prefers character
to place, and who has given such unequivocal proofs of honesty and
patriotism, that his image ought to be amongst your household gods, and
his name to be lisped by your children. Two thousand years hence it will
be a legend like the fable of Perseus and Andromeda; Britannia chained
to a mountain--two hundred rotten animals[4] menacing her destruction,
till a tall Earl, armed with Schedule A,[5] and followed by his page,
Russell, drives them into the deep, and delivers over Britannia in
safety to crowds of ten-pound renters, who deafen the air with their
acclamations. Forthwith, Latin verses upon this--school exercises--boys
whipt, and all the usual absurdities of education."

  [4] Rotten Boroughs.

  [5] The List of disfranchised boroughs.

This is rather rapturous; but it is only Smith's way of expressing the
unquestionable fact, that Earl Grey was the very man who could, if
mortal man could, carry such a measure in the face of the aristocracy of
England. The people trusted him, and the sane portion of the hostile
factions opposed him less obstinately than they would some more
boisterous member of the liberal party, whom they could stigmatize as a
"fanatic," or a "revolutionist." And even "the radicals" well knew, that
to make a brilliant onslaught upon a strong Tory ministry, while the
Reform party was weak, and it mattered little _what_ was said and done,
if _something_ was only said and done, was a very different mission from
attempting to lead that party when its swelled ranks required to be
consolidated under a graver chieftain, with experience ripened by once
having been a leading minister of the Crown, who might plant the
conquering flag on the walls of the citadel. Such a chieftain was Earl

The two measures of Earl Grey's administration, which made it honorably
conspicuous through the world, and will give it an enduring name with
posterity, are Parliamentary reform, and the abolition of negro slavery.
The defects in the former will be hereafter alluded to. The latter was
clogged by the ill-contrived apprenticeship system. But, defective
though they were, had his administration done nothing more for reform,
the glory of those would atone for all its errors of omission and
commission. The measure by whose magic touch eight hundred thousand
slaves leaped to freedom, and bestowed the munificent gift of twenty
millions sterling upon their masters, gave his Government greater renown
abroad than the reform in Parliament. But the latter was much the more
important event to the British nation. It was an era in its politics,
big with present and future consequences. By bestowing the elective
franchise on half a million of small traders and artisans in the cities
and towns, it struck a blow at the landed monopoly from which it can
never recover--subjected the Government more directly to the influence
of public opinion--and opened the doors of Parliament to a new class of
men, like Cobden, Bright, and Thompson, springing from and sympathizing
with the people, who, by their services within and beyond the walls of
the legislature, have left their enduring mark on the policy of the
country. By recognizing the principle of representation, as opposed to
prescription, it took the first step toward complete suffrage for the
people, uniform representation in the House of Commons, and the election
of the House of Peers. It was as worthy to be called a _revolution_ as
the event that deposed the Stuarts and enthroned William of Orange.

It is a singular fact in political and personal history, that the man,
who, in the freshness of youth and in the face of popular clamor,
broached the measure of Parliamentary reform, should, forty years
afterwards, in the maturity of age, be selected to lead the people in
its consummation. The fitting counterpart is the no less striking fact,
that the very Prince by whose choice he completed this work, and who,
about the period of its commencement, denounced Wilberforce as worthy of
expulsion from Parliament for proposing the abolition of the slave
trade, lived long enough to give his royal assent, in the presence of
that Wilberforce, to a bill for the abolition of slavery itself.

Earl Grey may be regarded as the last of his political school. He was a
singular compound of the aristocracy of the old Whigs, with the
liberality of the new. The trusted leader of the popular party, in the
hour of its first triumph, cherished an exalted opinion of what he
termed "his order," and though he never shrank from any duty or peril in
support of the common cause, and voluntarily shared in the long
exclusion of all grades of reformers from office and court favor, his
pride and austerity were so habitual as to cool his friends while they
exasperated his foes. In exclusiveness and aristocratic bearing, he
seemed to belong to the Whigs of the times of the first two Georges. On
the other hand, he exhibited, in his political sympathies, associations,
and conduct all the democratic tendencies of the Whigs of the Fox and
Russell school.

The old Whigs, of whom Walpole and Grafton were the type, were
distinguished by large possessions, long titles, and "a landed air." By
arrogance, gold, and skill, they ruled England from the death of Queen
Anne to the ascension of Lord North. Then arose the new Whigs, whose
type was Fox and Grenville. Their chief supporters came from bustling
manufacturing towns and flourishing seaports, as those of the old came
from rural districts and rotten boroughs; the sign of the one being the
broadcloth of the stock exchange; of the other, the broad acres of the
agricultural counties. Indeed, on the coming in of the younger Pitt,
parties might be said to have changed places without changing names; the
Tories assuming the power of the old Whigs, and like them ruling _over_
the people; whilst the old disappeared, and the new arose in the place
of the ascendant Tories, and assuming the Tory attitude of opposition,
and basing it on _quasi_ democratic principles, struggled for power
_with_ the people.

Grey's administration was the reign of the new Whigs. It was continued
by Melbourne; but the species is now almost extinct. Another party has
gradually arisen, from seeds sown long ago by liberal hands. It knew not
the ancient Whigs; it regards not the modern. Its type is Cobden and
Hume, with symptoms of affinity in such noblemen as the present Carlisle
and Grey. It once looked forward to the day when its leader and Premier
would be Earl Durham. What remained of this hope after his unlucky
Canadian administration, was soon quenched in his grave. It had now
better select its chief man from the ranks of the people, and put him in
training; for, after a lapse of time, and John Russell, it must rule


     Abolition of Negro Slavery--Canning's Resolutions of
     1823--Insurrection in Demerara--"Missionary Smith's
     Case"--Immediate Abolition--Elizabeth
     Heyrick--O'Connell--Brougham's Celebrated Speech of
     1830--Insurrection and Anarchy in Jamaica, in 1832--William
     Knibb--Parliamentary Inquiry--Buxton--The Apprenticeship Adopted,
     August, 1833--Result of Complete Emancipation in Antigua--The
     Apprenticeship Doomed--The Colonies themselves Terminate it, August
     1, 1838.

Dickens, in his Martin Chuzzlewit, records, that Miss Charity Pecksniff,
being told her side face was much better-looking than the front view,
ever after, when visited by her not very numerous suitors, presented her
profile to their admiring gaze. The tribute which Great Britain has paid
to the genius of Humanity, by her efforts and sacrifices for the
abolition of the African Slave Trade and Negro Slavery, is the aspect in
which she delights to be contemplated by other nations. The humblest
Englishman is proud to reiterate the sentiment, uttered half a century
ago by Curran: "I speak in the spirit of our Constitution, which makes
Liberty commensurate with and inseparable from our soil; which
proclaims, even to the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he sets
his foot upon our native earth, that the ground he treads is holy, and
consecrated by the genius of Universal Emancipation. No matter in what
language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion,
incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt
upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been
cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted
on the altar of slavery: the first moment he touches our sacred soil,
the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul walks abroad
in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure of his chains,
that burst around him; and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and
disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of Universal Emancipation."
The services and victories of Sharpe, Clarkson, Wilberforce, Stephen,
Brougham, Macaulay, Buxton, Cropper, Lushington, Gurney, Sturge,
O'Connell, Mackintosh, Thompson, Wardlaw, Scoble, and their
fellow-laborers, in this department of philanthropy, mitigate the
abhorrence with which Christendom views the continued oppressions of
millions of British subjects in both hemispheres.

After the abolition of the slave trade, the attention of a few
thoughtful and humane persons was turned toward slavery itself, of which
the trade was only an incident. Public sentiment was gradually enlisted,
till, in 1823, it had become sufficiently aroused to cause the passage,
in Parliament, of Mr. Canning's celebrated resolutions, declaring the
expediency of adopting decisive measures for meliorating the condition
of the slave population in the Colonies, preparatory to their complete
emancipation. A ministerial circular was sent to the Colonies, directing
the authorities to act upon those resolutions in the future treatment of
the slave population. But, as was predicted by those who had studied the
genius of Slavery, the resolutions and circular were either
contemptuously defied, coolly disregarded, or courteously evaded by the

The latter part of the same year, an insurrection broke out in Demerara.
The infuriated planters undertook to trace its origin to the religious
teachings of a venerable English missionary of most pure and exemplary
character, Rev. John Smith. He was seized, and, after resisting some
attempts to extort confessions, and going through a trial in which the
very semblance of justice was outraged, was convicted, and sentenced to
death. In feeble health, he was thrown into a small and loathsome
dungeon, where, after several weeks of intense suffering, he died. This
attempt to

              "----bring back
  The Hall of Horrors, and the assessor's pen
  Recording answers shrieked upon the rack,"

produced a tremendous sensation in England. Early in June, Mr. Brougham
introduced into Parliament a motion to censure the Government and Court
of Demerara. A debate of surpassing interest followed, in which he
supported his motion by two powerful speeches. It was on this occasion
that Mr. Wilberforce made his last speech in Parliament. The motion was
lost by a small majority.

These proceedings, touching a case of individual outrage, are worthy of
special note, because they aroused a spirit in England that would never
"down," till the last chain was stricken from the last slave. "The
Missionary Smith's Case" became a rallying cry with all the friends of
religious freedom, and all the enemies of West India slavery. The
measures of the Abolitionists became more bold--their principles
commanded a more general concurrence--those who voted against the motion
of Mr. Brougham were either excluded from the next Parliament, or
obtained their seats with extreme difficulty; and, to quote from the
preface to Mr. B.'s speeches, "All men now saw that the warning given in
the peroration of the latter, though sounded in vain across the Atlantic
Ocean, was echoing with a loudness redoubled with each repetition
through the British isles; that it had rung the knell of the system; and
that at the fetters of the slave a blow was at length struck, which
must, if followed up, make them fall off his limbs forever."

The year 1830 was memorable for a great advance in the principles of the
Abolitionists, and the influence they exerted on public opinion. The
doctrine of _immediate_ as opposed to _gradual_ abolition, had been set
forth in a well-reasoned pamphlet, published anonymously, in 1824,
which was afterward found to have been written by Elizabeth Heyrick, of
Leicester. It now became the watchword of the Anti-Slavery Societies,
their publications and orators. The anniversary meeting of the
metropolitan association in this year was addressed by some of the most
distinguished men in the kingdom. It was on this occasion that Daniel
O'Connell uttered the noble and comprehensive sentiment--"I am for
speedy, immediate abolition. I care not what caste, creed, or color,
Slavery may assume. I am for its total, its instant abolition. Whether
it be personal or political, mental or corporeal, intellectual or
spiritual, I am for its immediate abolition. I enter into no compromise
with Slavery; I am for justice, in the name of humanity, and according
to the law of the living God."

In July of the same year, Mr. Brougham introduced his motion in the
Commons, just before the dissolution, pledging the House to take the
subject of Abolition into consideration early the next session. His
speech in its support, and which essentially contributed to his election
for Yorkshire a few weeks afterward, as the successor of Wilberforce,
contains the oft-cited passage: "I trust that at length the time is come
when Parliament will no longer bear to be told that slave-owners are the
best lawgivers on Slavery; no longer allow an appeal from the British
public to such communities as those in which the Smiths and the
Grimsdalls are persecuted to death for teaching the gospel to the
negroes; and the Mosses holden in affectionate respect for torture and
murder: no longer suffer our voice to roll across the Atlantic in empty
warnings and fruitless orders. Tell me not of rights--talk not of the
property of the planter in his slaves. I deny the right--I acknowledge
not the property. The principles, the feelings of our common nature rise
in rebellion against it. Be the appeal made to the understanding, or to
the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain you tell me
of laws that sanction such a crime! There is a law above all the
enactments of human codes--the same throughout the world--the same in
all times--such as it was before the daring genius of Columbus pierced
the night of ages, and opened to one world the sources of power, wealth,
and knowledge; to another, all unutterable woes: such as it is at this
day. It is the law written by the finger of God on the heart of man; and
by that law unchangeable and eternal, while men despise fraud, and
loathe rapine, and abhor blood, they will reject with indignation the
wild and guilty fantasy, that man can hold property in man! In vain you
appeal to treaties, to covenants between nations: the Covenants of the
Almighty, whether the Old Covenant or the New, denounce such unholy
pretensions. To those laws did they of old refer, who maintained the
African trade. Such treaties did they cite, and not untruly; for by one
shameful compact you bartered the glories of Blenheim for the traffic in
blood. Yet, despite of law and of treaty, that infernal traffic is now
destroyed, and its votaries put to death like other pirates. How came
this change to pass? Not, assuredly, by Parliament leading the way; but
the country at length awoke; the indignation of the people was kindled;
it descended in thunder, and smote the traffic, and scattered its guilty
profits to the winds. Now, then, let the planters beware--let their
Assemblies beware--let the Government at home beware--let the Parliament
beware! The same country is once more awake--awake to the condition of
negro slavery; the same indignation kindles in the bosom of the same
people; the same cloud is gathering that annihilated the slave trade;
and, if it shall descend again, they on whom its crash may fall, will
not be destroyed before I have warned them; but I pray that their
destruction may turn away from us the more terrible judgments of God!"

The French revolution of 1830, the turning out of the Wellington and the
coming in of the Grey Ministry, and the protracted contest for
Parliamentary reform, absorbed a large share of the public attention for
the next eighteen months. Meanwhile, the Abolitionists, taking
advantage of the liberal tendencies of the times, gathered strength by
agitating the country through numerous publications and addresses, from
some of the most able pens and eloquent tongues in the kingdom.

In 1831-2, an outbreak in Jamaica inflamed the already excited mind of
England to an unusual pitch. An attempt to deprive some of the negroes
of their wonted Christmas holidays, conspired with a report that
Parliament had abolished slavery, to provoke a revolt. The masters fled,
the troops interfered and slaughtered a large number of the insurgents,
leaving the courts to put to death a few hundred in a more leisurely
way. Not content with this, the planters glutted their vengeance by
pulling down several chapels of the Baptist and Independent
missionaries--forbidding meetings for religious worship in which slaves
participated--driving some of the ministers to the mountains, and
hunting them like beasts of prey--throwing others into prison--whilst a
more fortunate few escaped to England. Among the latter was the Rev.
William Knibb, a Baptist preacher of heroic courage, commanding person
and vigorous eloquence. Arriving in the mother country in June, 1832, he
perambulated the island, and in conjunction with the more learned and
brilliant George Thompson, now member of Parliament, who was then
employed as an Anti-Slavery lecturer, stirred the national heart to its

Parliament was not idle. In May, of this year, the West Indian interest
in the House of Lords procured the appointment of a committee of inquiry
into the state of the islands. It was mainly composed of opponents of
Abolition. The friends of liberty in the Commons, alarmed at this
hostile proceeding, obtained, through their leader, Mr. T. Fowell
Buxton, a committee to consider the expediency of abolishing slavery in
the islands. Mr. Buxton was chairman of the committee. These two
committees were in session when the exiled Jamaica missionaries
arrived. They were examined as witnesses, with some sixty others,
representing both sides of the question--the inquiry extending through
nearly three months. The result was, an overwhelming case against
slavery. Both parties now girded themselves for the contest. The
Ministry of Earl Grey had recently carried the Reform bill. It was a
favorable moment for the friends of freedom to strike. Early in the
session of 1833, Mr. Buxton was about to bring forward a motion for the
immediate abolition of slavery, when Mr. Stanley, the Colonial
Secretary, superseded him, by pledging ministers to introduce a measure,
without delay, which "should be safe and satisfactory to all parties."

Mr. Stanley brought out the Government plan of abolition, on the 14th of
May, 1833. Good, genial, and unsuspecting Mr. Buxton now wished he had
kept the work in his own hands. Stanley's bill bore the stereotyped
ministerial stamp. It was a compromise between what justice demanded and
what oppression would grant. It immediately emancipated all slaves under
six years of age; and subjected house servants to an apprenticeship of
four years, and agricultural servants of six years, to their former
masters; and gave to the latter a compensation of £20,000,000. At the
end of the apprenticeship, the negroes were to be completely free.

Leading Abolitionists denounced the scheme, compelled ministers to
reduce the period of apprenticeship from twelve (as first proposed) to
four and six years, protested against compensation; but, fearful of
losing the boon, the majority finally yielded their opposition. In
Parliament, the measure was discussed to its dregs; the friends of
immediate Abolition striving to remedy its defects--the West India
interest contesting every clause and comma with heroic pertinacity.
After vast rhetorical displays on all sides, with much patience and
philanthropy on one, and a good deal of bad temper and bad ethics,
mingled with prophecies of bankruptcy and bloodshed on the other, the
bill became a law on the 28th day of August, 1833. Mr. O'Connell voted
against it, on the two grounds, that it did not give immediate freedom
to the slaves, whilst it gave compensation to the masters.

In its actual workings, the apprenticeship realized most of the
objections made to it by the Abolitionists, and few of the horrible
forebodings of their opponents. The instant transition of 800,000 slaves
into _quasi_ freemen was not attended by any disorder whatever. And
during the four years which the ill-contrived scheme lasted, not a drop
of blood was shed; crimes of all grades diminished; vagrancy seldom
showed its head; property was respected; the adults banished many of
those domestic vices incident to a state of slavery; the children filled
the schools; and this class of West India society rose in the scale of
civilization and morals. And even after the forts were dismantled, and
the troops sent away to prevent an insurrection among the whites of
Canada, the Anglo-Saxons in the Caribbean Isles slept on quiet pillows.

But, though a heaven-wide remove from slavery, the apprenticeship was
not a paradise to the parties. The dissonance was inherent in the nature
of the plan. Looking to harmonious results, it gave the planters too
much power, or too little; the negroes too much liberty, or too little.
The consequence was, interminable disputes between masters and
apprentices; between planters and special justices; between the Home
Government and the Colonial authorities. The majority of the justices,
who had the chief agency in executing the Abolition act, endeavored to
do it in its humane spirit. But too many of them could not withstand the
seductive wit and wine of a class, whose chivalry and hospitality are
proverbial wherever unpaid labor has shed its liberalizing influences.

Antigua and the Bermudas discarded the apprenticeship, and adopted
complete abolition, the Act giving to the Colonies the alternative.
Experience justified the wisdom of their choice. They reaped all the
good fruits of the apprenticeship, and none of the bad. Messrs. Thome
and Kimball, of this country, visited Antigua, Barbadoes, and Jamaica,
in 1837. From their admirable "Six Months Tour," I quote the following
description of the "immediate" conversion to men, of 30,000 slaves of
Antigua, on the 1st of August, 1834:

     "For some time previous to the 1st of August, forebodings of
     disaster lowered over the island. The day was fixed! Thirty
     thousand degraded human beings were to be brought forth from the
     dungeon of slavery, and 'turned loose on the community,' and this
     was to be done 'in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye!' Gloomy
     apprehensions were entertained by many of the planters. Some
     timorous families did not go to bed on the night of the 31st of
     July; fear drove sleep from their eyes, and they awaited with
     fluttering pulse the hour of midnight, fearing lest the same bell
     which sounded the jubilee of the slaves might toll the death-knell
     of the masters. Several American vessels which had lain for weeks
     in the harbor weighed anchor on the 31st of July, and made their
     escape, through actual fear that the island would be destroyed on
     the following day. * * * The Wesleyans kept 'watch night' in all
     their chapels on the night of the 31st. At St. John's, the spacious
     building was filled with the candidates for liberty. All was
     animation and eagerness. A mighty chorus of voices swelled the song
     of expectation and joy, and, as they united in prayer, the voice of
     the leader was drowned in universal acclamations of thanksgiving,
     and praise, and blessing, and honor, and glory to God, who had come
     down for their deliverance. In such exercises the evening was spent
     until the hour of twelve approached. The missionary then proposed
     that, when the clock on the cathedral should begin to strike, the
     whole congregation should fall upon their knees, and receive the
     boon of freedom in silence. Accordingly, as the loud bell tolled
     its first note, the immense assembly fell prostrate on their knees.
     All was silence, save the quivering half-stifled breath of the
     struggling spirit. The slow notes of the clock fell upon the
     multitude; peal on peal, peal on peal, rolled over the prostrate
     throng, in tones of angels' voices, thrilling among the desolate
     chords and weary heart-strings. Scarce had the clock sounded its
     last note, when the lightning flashed vividly around, and a loud
     peal of thunder roared along the sky--God's pillar of fire and
     trump of jubilee! A moment of profoundest silence passed--then
     came the _burst_--they broke forth in prayer; they shouted, they
     sung, 'Glory,' 'alleluia;' they clapped their hands, leaped up,
     fell down, clasped each other in their free arms, cried, laughed,
     went to and fro, tossing upward their unfettered hands; but high
     above the whole there was a mighty sound, which ever and anon
     swelled up; it was the utterings in broken negro dialect of
     gratitude to God."

The experiment of immediate abolition in Antigua and the Bermudas, and
of the apprenticeship in the other Colonies, has established the
following facts: That, while melioration is a great improvement on
chattel slavery, yet immediate and complete emancipation is far
preferable: That either change is safe to the person and property of the
master: That, for either, it is rather the master than the slave who
needs preparation.

Considerations of principle, uniting with a mass of facts showing the
superiority of immediate emancipation over the apprenticeship, induced
the Abolitionists of England, in 1836-7, to take a final stand for the
complete disenthralment of the negro. A numerous Convention of delegates
met in London, in November, 1837; resolved that the apprenticeship
should cease on or before the first of August, 1838; memorialized the
Government against its continuance; and, through a deputation, waited on
the Colonial Secretary, to enforce their appeal. They were coldly, not
to say contemptuously, treated by Lord Glenelg. After selecting a
Central Committee, to watch the Ministry and Parliament, the delegates
went home to agitate the country. Thompson, Wardlaw, Smeal, and their
coadjutors, aroused Scotland; whilst Sturge, Buxton, Scoble, and their
friends, shook England. In the course of the fall and winter, petitions
poured into Parliament in unprecedented numbers, whilst seven hundred
thousand women presented their prayer to the Queen in behalf of her
oppressed female subjects in the Western isles.

Parliament began to move. On the 20th of February, 1838, Lord Brougham,
in presenting a petition from Glasgow and vicinity, signed by upwards
of 100,000 persons, moved a series of resolutions for the speedy
termination of the apprenticeship, supporting them by a speech worthy of
his brightest fame, and whose immediate publication produced a deep
impression upon the country. I cannot forbear quoting the closing
paragraph of the peroration.

Said Lord Brougham:

     "So now the fullness of time is come for at length discharging our
     duty to the African captive. I have demonstrated to you that
     everything is ordered--every previous step taken--all safe, by
     experience shown to be all safe, for the long-desired consummation.
     The time has come, the trial has been made, the hour is striking:
     you have no longer a pretext for hesitation, or faltering, or
     delay. The slave has shown, by four years' blameless behavior and
     devotion to the pursuits of peaceful industry, that he is as fit
     for his freedom as any English peasant--aye, or any lord whom I now
     address. I demand his rights; I demand his liberty without stint.
     In the name of justice and of law, in the name of reason, in the
     name of God, who has given you no right to work injustice, I demand
     that your brother be no longer trampled upon as your slave! I make
     my appeal to the Commons, who represent the free people of England,
     and I require at their hands the performance of that condition for
     which they paid so enormous a price--that condition which all their
     constituents are in breathless anxiety to see fulfilled! I appeal
     to this House. Hereditary judges of the first tribunal in the
     world, to you I appeal for justice! Patrons of all the arts that
     humanize mankind, under your protection I place humanity herself!
     To the merciful Sovereign of a free people, I call aloud for mercy
     to the hundreds of thousands for whom half a million of her
     Christian sisters have cried aloud; I ask that their cry may not
     have risen in vain. But first I turn my eye to the Throne of all
     Justice, and devoutly humbling myself before Him who is of purer
     eyes than to behold such vast iniquities, I implore that the curse
     hovering over the head of the unjust and oppressor be averted from
     us--that your hearts may be turned to mercy--and that over all the
     earth His will may at length be done."

On the 29th of March, Sir George Strickland brought forward a motion in
the Commons, for the termination of the apprenticeship on the 1st of
August following. Ministers resisted, and it was lost. While the motion
was pending, two large anti-slavery conventions met in London, and soon
afterwards five thronged meetings were held in Exeter Hall, in whose
proceedings Brougham, Buxton, O'Connell, and other distinguished men,
played a prominent part. The obstinate course of the Cabinet had not
only exasperated public opinion at home, but had produced a feverish
excitement amongst the apprentices in the Colonies.

In the midst of this furious contest, whose issue was shrouded in
darkness, light suddenly broke in from an unexpected quarter. Lo! a
ministerial dispatch, dated the very day after the November convention
met, appeared in the West India newspapers, addressed to the Colonial
Governors, in which Lord Glenelg informed them that agitation had again
commenced, and would no doubt go on as before, and urging them to
impress on the Legislatures the necessity of doing for themselves, and
in season, what the people of England were seeking to compel the
Parliament to do for them. Thus the Cabinet, while presenting a bold
front at home, was saving its life by indirectly and secretly doing the
work Abolitionists were forcing it to perform.

Simultaneously with the arrival in England of the journals containing
copies of the dispatch, came the news, that the two small islands of
Montserrat and Nevis had yielded to the ministerial solicitation, and
resolved to emancipate their apprentices on the 1st of August. Other
small islands soon copied their example. Barbadoes, with her 83,000
apprentices, followed in the train. Then came Jamaica, with her 330,000.
This settled the question. Other Colonies now gave way, and ministers
pledged themselves that all should be completed by the appointed day. It
was done--the Cabinet averted an inglorious defeat--the planters escaped
a hurricane of violence in a dark night of negro insurrection--and, on
the first day of August, 1838, the friends of emancipation assembled in
all parts of the Empire, to render thanksgiving to God for the final
overthrow of British negro slavery.

The great work of 1834 and 1838, which we have hastily scanned, was
accomplished by the People, and not by the Government; by the Democracy,
as distinguished from the Aristocracy--the latter moving only when
impelled by the former. Of political parties, the large share of
Abolitionists came from the liberals. Of religious sects, the most
active were the Friends, the Baptists, and the Independents. The cry
occasionally heard in this country, that the abolition of West India
Slavery was intended to be an indirect blow at American republicanism,
is the shallow cant of owlish ignorance or demagogical hypocrisy. The
Englishmen who bore a prominent part in the Abolition cause, generally
admire our free institutions, and are now efficient laborers in those
reforms which aim to cripple the power of the privileged orders, to
prevent class legislation, and to secure the equal rights of the masses
of their countrymen.

The conduct of the emancipated negroes during the last ten years has
justified the eulogium pronounced upon them by Lord Brougham, in the
last of the two quotations from him. The magistrate has driven out the
overseer; the school has taken the place of the whipping-post; the press
has supplanted the tread-mill. It is said that the large landed estates
are diminishing in value; that the quantity of sugar, coffee, and rum,
annually produced, decreases; that the negroes are reluctant to labor
upon these large properties, preferring to set up little shops, or work
at trades, or cultivate small grounds on their own account. In the mass
of conflicting testimony, it is difficult to get at the precise facts. I
presume that, to a large extent, these reports are true. Monopolies in
the flesh of man, and in the soil he tills, are at war with Nature and
with God. If they have been long continued, a change will produce some
bitter fruits. But they will be the growth of the evil rather than the
remedy. The tropics belong to the colored race. The Saxon must abandon
the West Indies. His huge landed estates must inevitably continue to
diminish in value till they are broken up into small freeholds, each
being cultivated by its individual owner. Such a consummation will be
deprecated only by those who believe that the chief end of poor men, in
hot climates, is to work as day-laborers, on small wages, for bloated
capitalists, in the production of large quantities of cotton, coffee,
sugar, and rum.


     Notices of some Prominent Abolitionists--T. Fowell Buxton--Zachary
     Macaulay--Joseph Sturge--William Allen--James Cropper--Joseph and
     Samuel Gurney--George William Alexander--Thomas Pringle--Charles
     Stuart--John Scoble--George Thompson--Rev. Dr. Thomson--Rev. Dr.
     Wardlaw--Rev. Dr. Ritchie--Rev. Mr. James--Rev. Messrs. Hinton,
     Brock, Bevan, and Burnet.

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was the Abolition leader in the House of
Commons during the Anti-Slavery conflicts of 1832 and 1833. His life is
a beautiful illustration of Solomon's saying, "Train up a child in the
way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." At six
years of age, Thomas lost his father; but there was left to him that
most valuable of blessings, a vigorous-minded, well-educated, virtuous
mother, who watched his young days with pains-taking solicitude. He was
naturally of a sportive, roving disposition, and, when at school or
college, made rather greater proficiency in the practice of hunting and
fishing than in the study of mathematics and the languages. Though his
juvenile tastes led him to scatter large quantities of that erratic
grain called "wild oats," the teachings of his mother inclined his
maturer years to the cultivation of the more profitable fields of
Humanity and Philanthropy. The training of the child was shown in the
actions of the man. Mr. Buxton's public life was devoted to meliorating
the condition of the unfortunate classes of society. Especially was he
the friend of prisoners, criminals and slaves. While a young man, he
took a lively interest in Prison Discipline--published a work on that
subject in 1816, being the result of observations in the prisons of
France and Belgium--and having taken his seat in the Commons in 1819,
joined Mackintosh in his efforts to limit the death-penalty, and soften
other severe features of the criminal code.

Surrounded by a strong Quaker influence from his youth, his mother being
a Friend, which was subsequently increased by his marriage with a sister
of the Gurneys and Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, (he had been accompanied by J. J.
Gurney and Mrs. F. in his continental tour,) Mr. Buxton's mind was early
turned toward the state of slavery in the Colonies. In 1821, (I think,)
immediately after he had delivered an able speech in the House on Prison
Discipline, Mr. Wilberforce wrote him an earnest letter, alluding to his
own services in abolishing the slave trade, and requesting Buxton to
join him in "a truly holy alliance" for meliorating the condition of the
negro slaves, and ultimately advancing them to the rank of a free
peasantry; and, in view of his advancing years, solicited Buxton to
become his successor in "the blessed service," when increasing
infirmities should compel him to relinquish the lead to younger hands.
Mr. Buxton at once threw his mind and heart into the work, and his
subsequent ability and devotion to it justified the compliment of
Wilberforce, a few years afterward, when he called him his
"Parliamentary Executor."

The resolutions of 1823, which have already been mentioned, were moved
by Mr. Canning, as an amendment to a more radical proposition introduced
by Mr. Buxton. To him, therefore, humanity is indebted for the first
important ministerial step towards Abolition, which was the precursor of
all that followed till the end was attained. It is with reference to the
debate on this occasion, I believe, that the anecdote is told of
"Brougham helping Buxton, and Buxton helping Brougham." Buxton was to
move the proposition, and Brougham was to second him. Due notice had
been given, and the West India interest was in commotion. Buxton
anticipated that an attempt would be made to cough and scrape him
down--not an unusual practice in this "assembly of the first gentlemen
in the world." Just as Buxton was rising, Brougham whispered to him, "I
will cheer _you_ with all my might, and then you must cheer _me_."
"Agreed!" responded the agitated brewer, who, in the suppressed
mutterings and growlings, saw a storm was brewing. But he went on,
Brougham crying "Hear! hear! hear!" so vigorously, and stamping and
cheering so lustily, that the West Indians were dumb with wonder, and
permitted Buxton to finish his speech without much interruption. Mr.
Canning replied in his adroit and elegant style, moved his amendment,
and resumed his seat under cheers from all sides. Brougham sprang to his
feet, full of excitement with the great theme. Members cried, "Divide!
divide!" in deafening tones. But Harry stood firm, lifted his voice
above the tempest, and began to roll out long sentences crowded with big
thoughts, while Buxton's shouts of "Hear! hear! hear!" finally silenced
the clamor, when, his cheers of the matchless eloquence of his colleague
becoming contagious, Brougham wound up a great speech amid "thunders of

It has already been stated, that in May, 1832, on motion of Mr. Buxton,
a committee was appointed in the Commons, to inquire and report upon the
most expedient measures for the extinction of slavery throughout the
British dominions. His labors as chairman of this committee, of which
Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, and other distinguished statesmen,
were members, whose sittings did not terminate till August, were
indefatigable, and worthy of the highest praise. His permitting the
reins of leadership in this measure to slip into the hands of the
compromising Colonial Secretary, the next spring, was censured by some
Abolitionists. But no man strove more earnestly than he to remedy the
defects in the ministerial plan. He repeatedly divided the House on
amendments, and succeeded in reducing the period of apprenticeship
one-half. And any ground which he might have lost by the transactions of
1833, was nobly redeemed by his subsequent services in bringing to an
end a system, which, at the outset, he had denounced as "unjust in
principle, indefensible in policy, and anomalous, unnatural, and

After the abolition of the apprenticeship, Mr. Buxton turned his
attention to the slave trade. In June, 1839, he instituted the "Society
for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and the Civilization of Africa,"
and was appointed its chairman. The same year, he brought out an
elaborate work on "The Slave Trade and its Remedy," which was followed
the next year by an enlarged edition, extending to some 600 pages. It is
the most valuable and authentic publication extant on that subject. The
facts it detailed, as to the extent of the traffic, astonished all who
paid any attention to what Mr. Pitt had denominated "the greatest
practical evil that ever afflicted mankind." While for a quarter of a
century "the triumphs of humanity in the abolition of the African slave
trade" had rounded the periods of orators in the British Senate and on
the rock of Plymouth, Mr. Buxton proves that in 1840, and for a long
period before, the victims of the traffic were more numerous, and its
features more grim and gory than when Clarkson entered upon his
philanthropic work in 1786. If Mr. Buxton had done nothing more, during
his life, than to open the eyes of deluded Christendom to the present
extent of this atrocious piracy, he would be entitled to the thanks of

The publication of his volume stimulated the British Government to
greater efforts for bringing the traffic to an end. Though his main
remedy, the civilization of Africa, showed a comprehensive and
benevolent mind, the African expeditions undertaken in accordance with
his plan were less successful than he fondly anticipated; and many of
the best-informed persons became firmly fixed in the opinion, that the
only effectual remedy for the slave trade is the complete abolition of
slavery itself, and that anything short of this is amelioration, and not
extermination. While it is believed that Mr. Buxton never abandoned his
favorite plan, yet, till the close of his laborious and philanthropic
life, he was the steady friend of all efforts for the overthrow of
slavery and the slave trade throughout the world.

Mr. Buxton possessed large wealth, which he liberally devoted to the
promotion of benevolent enterprises--had a clear and capacious mind,
well stocked with useful knowledge--was ever under the influence of a
liberal heart and catholic spirit--and his majestic form, he being about
six feet and a half in hight, gave impressive dignity to the lucid style
in which he presented his subject, whether pleading for justice and
mercy before an adverse House of Commons, or surrounded by applauding
thousands in Exeter Hall.

Next to Mr. Buxton, if indeed he was not in advance of him, Mr. ZACHARY
MACAULAY exerted as wide an influence in marshaling public sentiment for
the victory of 1833-4, as any other person in the kingdom. His services
were not of an ostentatious kind, being confined chiefly to the
committee room and the editorial chair. Having resided both in Africa
and the West Indies, his practical acquaintance with the matters in
controversy imparted rare value to his counsels, while his acute and
powerful pen was in constant requisition, to prepare reports of
committees, memorials to Parliament, pamphlets for general distribution,
and articles for the periodical press. The self-sacrificing spirit in
which he wore out his life in the cause received additional luster from
the rare fact that he coveted none of the glory of his good works.

Mr. JOSEPH STURGE deserves a high place, not only among the
Abolitionists, but among the reformers of Great Britain. Having taken an
active part in preparing public opinion for negro emancipation, he
recorded his protest against the apprenticeship. When contradictory
statements as to its operation were confusing the English mind, he
determined to investigate the matter for himself. Accordingly, in 1836
and 1837 he made a tour of the West Indies. Satisfied of the pernicious
character of the scheme, he wrote home, advising an earnest movement for
its abolition. On his return, he published the results of his
observations--the demand for repeal reverberated through the British
Isles--the days of the apprenticeship were numbered. To him, more than
to any other man, this consummation is attributable. Soon afterward, he
conceived the plan of a General Convention to promote the universal
abolition of slavery and the slave trade. The result was, "the World's
Convention" of 1840, composed of delegates from many nations and both
hemispheres, over whose deliberations the patriot Clarkson presided, and
which contributed to the overthrow of East Indian slavery, and gave an
impulse to the cause throughout the world.

Mr. Sturge has been an assiduous laborer in other fields of reform.
Among the first to embark in the movement for the total repeal of the
corn laws, he participated in it till victory crowned the exertions of
its friends. During this controversy, he became thoroughly convinced
that a more radical and comprehensive reform was requisite to break up
the system of class legislation, which bore so heavily on the working
masses of the country. The Chartist enterprise had arrested his
attention and enlisted his sympathies from its beginning. A firm
believer in the second, if not the first line of Mackay--

  "Cannon balls may aid the Truth,
  But Thought's a weapon stronger"--

he could not countenance the violent measures of some leading Chartists,
and would fain infuse into their counsels a more pacific spirit.
Advocating their cardinal doctrines, but wishing to base his opinions on
actual observation and experiment, he visited the United States in 1841,
to inquire into the working of universal suffrage, voting by ballot,
equal representation, and frequent elections. Returning to England, he
published the results of his investigations, which had convinced him of
the practicability of applying the main features of our Congressional
system of representation and election to the House of Commons. At a
meeting of anti-corn law deputies, held at Manchester, in November,
after the business for which they had assembled was finished, Mr. S.
brought forward the subject of "complete suffrage." His lucid and
practical views begat a general desire among the deputies for the
commencement of a movement for a thorough reform in Parliament. In
December following he issued a "Declaration," embracing the outlines of
his plan, which ultimately drew to his views a portion of the Chartists,
who, throwing off the old name, united with others in adopting that of
Complete Suffragists.

In February, 1842, a meeting of delegates was held in London, on the
call of Mr. Sturge, cotemporaneously with an immense anti-corn law
convention, which had assembled to protest against Mr. Peel's proposed
new law. After a full discussion, in which many members of the latter
convention participated, the basis was laid for a union between the
Corn-Law Repealers and the Complete Suffragists. In April following, a
conference was held in Birmingham, mainly through his influence,
composed of delegates from England, Scotland, and Ireland. The
proceedings of this important body, over which Mr. Sturge presided, gave
new energy to the movement commenced at the previous meeting in London.
"_The National Complete Suffrage Union_" was formed by this conference,
and Mr. Sturge was chosen its first President. In the course of this
year a vacancy happened in the representation of Nottingham, a town
containing some four thousand electors. Mr. Sturge was requested to
stand as the Radical candidate, merely as an experiment, no one
expecting him to succeed. In his address to the electors, he avowed
himself in favor of universal suffrage, the severance of the Church from
the State, and the total repeal of the corn laws; declared he would not
spend a farthing in electioneering purposes, (i. e., bribing and
treating,) nor countenance any efforts in his behalf, not sanctioned by
the precepts of morality; and urged his friends to employ only such
measures, during the canvass, as would make defeat honorable, and add
luster to victory. His opponent, Mr. Walter, the proprietor of the
London Times, stimulated the exertions of his supporters with a purse of
£15,000. At the close of the poll, Mr. Sturge lacked but seventy-four
votes of an election. He would have succeeded, but for the extensive
bribery and intimidation of his opponent, who, on this account, was
unseated on the reässembling of Parliament.

During the last six years, Mr. Sturge has devoted himself, with his
characteristic ability, zeal, and munificence, to the promotion of
general education, complete suffrage, church reform, corn-law repeal,
slave-trade extermination, universal peace, and cognate reforms.

On the summoning of a new Parliament, in 1847, he reluctantly consented
to contest Leeds. In the course of his speech at the hustings, his
proposer, the venerable Edward Baines, who had long represented the
town, said: "I have to propose for your choice, as one of your
representatives in Parliament, my friend and your friend, the friend of
his country and of the human race, Joseph Sturge. With his principles
you are well acquainted. They are the principles of liberty, of
humanity, of economy, of equal rights, of freedom of trade and of
thought, of voluntary education, of universal peace, and of justice to
all mankind, of whatever color and of whatever clime. There are in
Parliament an abundance of merchants, of manufacturers, of bankers, of
lawyers, of soldiers, of sailors, of ecclesiastical patrons, of peers,
and of bishops; but there is a deplorable deficiency of such men as
Joseph Sturge." In his address to the electors, Mr. Sturge gave a
thorough exposition of his political views, in the face of frowning
Whigs and hissing Tories, both of whom brought forward candidates, and
made him the object of their common hostility. After a hot contest, he
was barely defeated by the concentration of a part of the Tory votes
upon one of the Whig candidates; but the result was a moral triumph for
Mr. Sturge and his cause.

Mr. Sturge is a member of the Society of Friends, and his beneficent
life and amiable deportment are a beautiful embodiment of the principles
of that sect. Till within a few years, he was extensively engaged in the
corn trade, and has long been one of the most wealthy and influential
citizens of Birmingham. Not satisfied with devoting liberal sums and
remnants of time to philanthropic objects, he withdrew from a profitable
mercantile connection, that he might consecrate all his energies to the
advancement of civil and religious liberty. With no pretensions to
literary or oratorical excellence, he is able to express his clear and
vigorous ideas with terseness and point, both with pen and tongue. His
plans, like his mind, are eminently practical; and he goes straight to
the subject-matter, stripping off the husk, somewhat regardless of its
texture and hue, and piercing at once to the kernel. His mercantile
training has given him business habits of the first order, making him as
efficient in executing plans as he is shrewd in their formation. A
little apt to push aside, not to say push over, obtuseness and
sluggishness, yet he mingles his unostentatious activity with such
purity of intention and suavity of manner, as not to offend colder and
more timid natures, while doing in a day what would occupy a month in
their hands. Should he ever enter the House of Commons, he would be
found, not among its brilliant, but certainly among its most useful

In this chapter it would be impossible to name all who bore a prominent
part in the cause now under review. The Society of Friends alone kept an
army in the field during the war. And no soldiers did better service
than the household troops of George Fox. I may name William Allen, to
whose many virtues the Duke of Kent gave the highest evidence, by
appointing him one of the guardians of his daughter Victoria--and James
Cropper, the munificent Liverpool merchant--and Joseph and Samuel
Gurney, the London bankers, the former of whom traveled over the
Continent to investigate the state of its prisons, and made the tour of
the West Indies, to examine into the condition of the emancipated
negroes--and George William Alexander, who has visited France, Denmark,
Holland, and Spain, to arouse them to the duty of abolishing slavery.

I can only allude to Thomas Pringle, one of England's sweetest and most
graceful poets, who officiated as Secretary of the London Anti-Slavery
Society in its infancy, its vigor, and its victory--and Captain Charles
Stuart, one of the purest and bravest of mankind, whose voice and pen
were sacred to Freedom--and John Scoble, who twice visited the West
Indies, and whose chaste oratory on the platform, and terse productions
as Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society were of
signal service to the cause. Of George Thompson, whom Lord Brougham
pronounced one of the most eloquent men either in or out of Parliament,
I shall speak at greater length, in connection with the abolition of
East Indian Slavery.

I will close this chapter by briefly noticing a few of the many
clergymen who rendered important services to the Anti-Slavery cause.

North of the Tweed, was Rev. ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., of Edinburgh, a
leading minister of the Kirk of Scotland. He has been dead several
years. Posthumous fame tells wondrous tales of his overpowering
eloquence. The reports of his speeches, which I have read, show him to
have been a son of thunder. He did not polish the angles of his
sentences so much as Dr. Chalmers, but he possessed in large measure the
comprehensive views, argumentative power, and splendid imagination,
which distinguished that great divine; while, in directness and point,
and ability to arouse and sway the passions of men, he undoubtedly
excelled him. Robert Hall never said of Andrew Thomson, that he was a
massive door, always turning on its hinges, but never moving onward. A
speech of three hours length, delivered by him, in 1830, before the
Edinburgh Anti-Slavery Society, in vindication of the principle of
immediate as opposed to gradual abolition, and which was widely
published, brought over the great body of Scottish Abolitionists to the
new doctrine, chiefly through its intrinsic merits, partly, no doubt,
because of the high standing of the orator. Its influence crossed the
Border, and among its English converts was the celebrated Mr. George
Thompson, who soon afterward became a lecturing agent of the London

The perfect opposite of Dr. Thomson, was the eminent dissenting
minister, Rev. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D., of Glasgow. His tall person is the
fitting embodiment of his large mind; and his benignant countenance is
the index of the purity of his heart. No one ever attended his chapel
without pronouncing him a model for the pulpit. One of the best readers
that ever opened the sacred Volume, his mellow voice, musical cadence,
and chaste delivery, give to the precept or parable he has selected for
the exercise a force and reality that never appeared to the hearer
before. And his sermon--how harmoniously do strength and simplicity
blend, to give vigor and transparency to the argument; and how his
felicitous similes and pointed tropes illustrate and adorn it, without
confusing the reason or sending off the fancy in a chase after mere

But, though justly celebrated as a preacher and a divine, he is more
widely known for his able advocacy of Voluntaryism, in opposition to
Church Establishments, his early and steady services in behalf of negro
emancipation, and his devotion to the general cause of civil and
religious liberty. Probably no chapel in Scotland has opened its doors
to so many secular meetings for the improvement of the human race as
his; and usually the venerable pastor is present to give his countenance
and voice to the work.

We cannot linger longer on Scottish ground; though if we did, we should
certainly be attracted by the erect form and elastic step of Rev. JOHN
RITCHIE, D.D., of Edinburgh, whose Quaker-cut coat, ample white cravat,
jaunty hat, and dangling cluster of watch-seals, would make you assign
him now to membership in the Society of Friends, and then to membership
in some sporting club, but never to his proper place, at the head of the
Secession Church of Scotland. He is an old soldier in the ranks of
Freedom; has fought many a hard battle with Negro Slavery and the State
Church: is an ardent free trader, universal suffragist, and, in a word,
a thorough radical reformer, who can instruct the reason or arouse the
feelings of an auditory with capital effect.

We will hasten to English ground, and spend a few moments with a
clergyman who, in mental characteristics and oratorical peculiarities,
is a cross of the thunder of Dr. Thomson, and the sunshine of Dr.
Wardlaw--Rev. JOHN ANGELL JAMES, of Birmingham. Of Mr. James' course in
the early stages of the anti-slavery movement, I cannot speak with
certainty. But, during the controversy growing out of the
apprenticeship, and in the later efforts for the overthrow of slavery
and the slave trade throughout the world, the contributions of his pen
and voice to the cause received additional influence from his position
as one of the most conspicuous leaders of the Congregational body of
Great Britain. He has also been among the foremost of the dissenting
clergy in advocating the principle of Voluntaryism, in its application
to ecclesiastical affairs and the education of the people. Perhaps, at
the present time, he stands at the head of the denomination which he
adorns by his talents and virtues. Mr. James has a high reputation as a
writer and preacher on both sides of the Atlantic. It was not my fortune
to hear him in the pulpit, but I can bear testimony to his power over
audiences on the platform. He has the external qualities, the physical
embellishments, of an orator: a well-proportioned person--a voice of
great compass, and as flexible and rich as a flute--a singularly
expressive countenance, polished manners, and a graceful gesticulation.
These are the frame and border of that grand and beautiful picture which
his strong mind and glowing imagination paint before admiring
assemblies. He captivates and converts more by winning grace than
conquering power; more by the charms of his rhetoric than the severity
of his logic. Let it not be inferred from this that his speeches are
devoid of argument. Far from it. They abound in that ingredient, without
which all public addresses become the mere sounding brass and tinkling
cymbal of an unbridled imagination, or the sound and fury of hollow
declamation, signifying nothing but the emptiness of the mere
word-spouter. I only mean to say, that his reasoning is not sent into
the world bald, but is embellished with artistic skill, and that his
speeches bear the hearer onward to conviction in a mixed current of
strong argument, elevated sentiment, witty allusions, and happy hits.
His appeals to the nobler feelings of the supporters of the cause he is
advocating, are fully equaled by his adroitness in sweeping away the
objections its opponents have strewed in his path, leaving prostrate
antagonists to admire the skill and courtesy with which the victor waved
rather than hurled them to the ground. In the select social circle he is
as attractive as when eliciting public plaudits on the rostrum; and
though an ecclesiastical leader, and ready to defend his religious
tenets on suitable occasions, his liberal sentiments and courteous
bearing toward all sects, have won him troops of friends in every
denomination and class of Christians, from Bishops in lawn to Quakers in

Even an incomplete list of clergymen who bore conspicuous parts in the
contests detailed in the last chapter, would be unpardonably defective
if it omitted to name Rev. JAMES HOWARD HINTON, an able Baptist
preacher, and the author of a history of this country--and Rev. WILLIAM
BROCK, an eloquent divine of the same denomination--and Rev. WILLIAM
BEVAN, of the Congregational church, whose pamphlet on the
Apprenticeship did much toward terminating that system--and Rev. JOHN
BURNET, of the same church, one of the keenest debaters the English
pulpit affords.


     British India--Clive and Hastings--East India Company--Its
     Oppressions and Extortions--Land Tax--Monopolies--Forced Labor and
     Purveyance--Taxes on Idolatry--Amount of Revenue Extorted--Slavery
     in India--Famine and Pestilence--The Courts--Rajah of
     Sattara--Abolition of Indian Slavery--British India
     Society--General Briggs--William Howitt--George Thompson as an
     Orator--Lord Brougham's Opinion--Mr. Thompson's Anti-Slavery
     Career--His Visit to India--His Defense of the Rajah--Advocates
     Corn-Law Repeal--Is Elected to Parliament.

Near the close of the seventeenth century, English ships occasionally
skirted the coast of Hindostan, anxious to exchange a roll of flannel or
a pack of cutlery for a case of muslins or a bag of spices. A surgeon
from one of these vessels was called to attend upon the daughter of the
reigning Prince, and succeeded in curing her of a dangerous disease.
Being asked what reward he would have for his services, he refused to
receive any gift for himself, but solicited commercial privileges for
his countrymen. They were granted; and English trading factories were
established at Madras and Calcutta. These purely trading posts became
the germs of a power which, shooting out its gigantic branches,
ultimately spread over the largest and most fertile portion of the
peninsula of Hindostan. Robert Clive, a clerk in the Madras factory,
laid the foundation of British empire in India. Warren Hastings, a clerk
in the factory at Calcutta, erected upon this foundation a towering
superstructure, whose blighting shadow now covers a million square miles
of territory, inspiring awe in the breasts of a hundred millions of
people. The dominion of Britain over this immense area and population is
justifiable neither by the mode in which it was obtained, nor the manner
in which it has been exercised. Obtained by force, fraud, and cunning,
it has been exercised in a spirit of avarice which might tingle the
cheek of a Shylock with shame, and of oppression which gives verity to
the fabulous tales of Oriental despotisms in the olden time.

The whole of Anglo-India is ruled primarily by the Government of Great
Britain, but a large portion of it is governed practically by the
English East India Company. These sovereigns in Leadenhall street
execute their mandates through a small body of Directors, who
acknowledge a slight allegiance to a Board of Control in Downing street.
They derive their authority from the Charter of the British Crown, and
rule India by permission of the British people. The fundamental
principle of their government is, to make India subservient to their
pecuniary interests, regardless of its own. Proceeding on the plan of
realizing as large a profit as possible on the capital invested, they
have taxed the land to the utmost limits of its capacity to pay, making
every successive province as it fell into their hands a pretext and a
field for higher exactions, and boasting that they have raised the
amount of revenue beyond what native rulers were able to extort. They
have monopolized every branch of trade that could be made productive,
employing in the prosecution the smallest number of laborers, at the
lowest rate of wages. The instructions of the Company to their Indian
agents have been to make as large remittances as possible. This done,
little concern has been felt as to the means employed by the thousand or
twelve hundred Englishmen sent thither to enrich their employers and
amass private fortunes by plundering the country. The periodical
invasion of these hordes of needy adventurers has been like the march of
the locusts of Egypt--before them was fertility and beauty; behind them
was barrenness and desolation. For the Company to listen to the
complaints of the natives, was a sickly sentimentality unbecoming a
great mercantile association; to demand inquiry, was an impertinence; to
redress grievances, no part of the obligations imposed by the charter.
The Hon. F. J. Shore, who spent fifteen years in India, part of the time
as a judge of one of the higher courts, says: "The British Indian
Government has been practically one of the most extortionate and
oppressive that ever existed in India; one under which injustice has
been and may be committed, both by the authorities and by individuals,
(provided the latter be rich,) to an almost unlimited extent, and under
which redress for injuries is almost unattainable." All unprejudiced
authorities agree that Anglo-Indian rule has been worse than that of
either of its predecessors, the Hindoos and Mahometans.

From a mass of documents before me, I will select a few items in support
and illustration of these general statements.

The great curse of India is the _Land Tax_. The principle on which the
Government acts is, that it is the owner of the soil, and that the
occupiers are only tenants at sufferance, though their titles can be
traced backward till lost in the haze of antiquity. While under Hindoo
rule, the people paid to the Government an annual tax equal to one-sixth
of the produce of the soil. The Mahometans, having partially subdued the
Hindoo Princes, increased the tax to one-fourth of the produce. Then
came the civilized and Christianized English. Asking as a boon the
permission to erect two or three warehouses on the coast, they pursued
for many years the humble occupation of factors, dealing in silks,
muslins, rice, spices, and precious stones. Growing rich, insolent,
strong, and rapacious, they overrun the finest provinces, bribing,
swindling, butchering the native Princes. Well secured in their regal
seats, trading became a secondary occupation, subservient to the arts of
diplomacy and the strategy of arms. Having conquered, they resolved to
plunder. They apportioned the soil among surveyors and collectors, whose
duty it was to levy and collect the land tax. The cupidity of the
conquerors increasing by what it fed upon, they ultimately directed the
tax to be fixed at a money value, before the crops were ripe, and to be
rated at the highest capacity of the soil in the most fruitful seasons.
The result is, that in the most favorable years it absorbs one-third of
the produce; in medium years, two-thirds; in years of scarcity, and in
unproductive localities, the whole, and more than the whole--the
deficiency in the latter case being made up from neighboring farms or
districts, or by selling personal property. The average of this tax is
variously estimated at from two-thirds to three-fourths of the annual
produce. The Company instructs the collectors, that "if the crop be even
less than the seed sown, the full tax shall still be demanded. If the
occupier be unable to pay, the deficiency is to be made up by assessing
it on the entire village or neighborhood. If these be unable to pay it,
then on an adjoining village or district--limiting, in such cases, the
assessment to ten or twelve per cent. of the value of the land, lest it
injure the next year's revenue!" The immediate consequences of this
extortion are appalling. Thousands of all classes, ages, and sexes, are
turned out of their homes, and wander about in nakedness and want,
begging and plundering, selling their children into slavery or giving
them to those who will feed and keep them as servants, while other
thousands perish of hunger in the jungles and the highways, or are swept
off by diseases incident to such squalor. In a single year, famine alone
has carried away a million of the population of a land fertilized by a
thousand rivers, and fecund of vegetation under the warm blushes of a
tropical sun.

Next to the land tax, the most noxious fruit of British rule is a system
of Government _Monopolies_, covering not merely the luxuries, but the
necessaries of life. The chief of these are in corn, rice, salt, indigo,
and opium. The district washed by the mouths of the Ganges produces
immense stores of corn and rice. The sea, in the contiguous district of
Madras, throws up large quantities of the most beautiful salt. But,
though the one district furnishes a surplus of what the other is
destitute of, they cannot interchange commodities without paying a
monopoly tax to the Government, which amounts to a positive prohibition.
Even the owner of a plantation bordering on the ocean, whose liberal
waves line it with salt, cannot gather in the product without subjecting
himself to heavy fines and imprisonment. It is all seized by the
Government, and doled out at such prices as to create an annual revenue
of from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000. The opium monopoly is still more
odious. On the finest corn-lands of Benares, Behar, and part of Bengal,
the inhabitants are compelled to grow this pernicious drug, and this
alone. The poppy is planted amid curses, its produce is purchased by
extortion, carried forth by violence, and sold to work the ruin of
millions. The opium being manufactured, the East India Company takes it
all, giving the growers such prices as it pleases. Not long ago, while
selling it at Calcutta at sixty shillings per pound, it allowed but two
shillings per pound to the miserable cultivators. In 1839, it exported
to China alone £2,700,926 in value; and for many years past its annual
profit from the opium monopoly has been estimated to exceed a million
sterling. Other monopolies might be mentioned; but these will suffice as
a specimen.

Another branch of British extortion is what is termed _Forced Labor and
Purveyance_. In procuring supplies for camps; cattle, sheep, and other
food for European soldiers; carriage for troops or civil functionaries;
provisions for jails and implements for convict laborers; trains of
workmen for the Government and for privileged persons--in short, in any
levy for civil or military exigencies, whether in peace or war, the most
cruel exactions are practiced. Out rush the myrmidons of Government, or
privileged Europeans, and seize cattle, camels, sheep, carts, corn,
fruits, and whatever is needed, and wherever found. On highways, at
fairs, on farms, they seize on men, horses, and carriages, to transport
their loads, throwing the effects of the owners into the roads; and
entering shops and dwellings, they carry off what pleases their fancy,
gratifies their appetites, or supplies their necessities. When one of
these military or civic cavalcades is passing over the country, it
scatters terror far and wide. An eye-witness says: "As soon as the
people perceive the _cortège_ approaching, accompanied by a police
officer, they run and hide themselves. You may see, sometimes, half a
village scampering over the fields, pursued by one or more officers in
full hue and cry." As long ago as when Hastings traveled in state from
Calcutta to Benares, to plunder Cheyte Sing of his treasures and his
territories, he expressed his astonishment to see the inhabitants flying
at his approach, shutting up their shops, and escaping to the woods.
Seventy years have scarcely modified the rigors of the conquering
Briton, or abated the terrors of the subdued Indian.

The rapacity of the English rulers cannot be better exemplified than in
the fact, that while British societies have sent missionaries to convert
the natives to Christianity, and on the first Monday of every month tens
of thousands in two hemispheres invoke Divine blessings on "India's
coral strand," the East India Company has levied taxes on travelers who
would visit the Temple of Juggernaut or bathe in the waters of the
Ganges, taxing the devotee before he threw himself under the wheels of
the idol, taxing the widow before she leaped on the funeral pile of her
husband, taxing the mother before she offered her offspring to the
crocodile on the banks of the sacred river, and taxing Hindoos for
becoming Christians, and on their refusal to pay, torturing them with
thumb-screws, and with standing in the burning sun, bearing heavy stones
on their shoulders.

By these and like means, England wrings from this wretched people an
annual revenue of more than twenty millions sterling. Besides this
amount, there are numerous incidental drains upon the resources of the
country, of which no account is rendered or kept, and untold sums
extracted by the unlicensed extortion of individuals and squads, making
the naturally fertile and beautiful peninsula that stretches from the
snows of the Himalaya mountains to the sands of Cape Comorin, the
plundering-ground of England.

And more than this: during ten years of English boasting, immediately
following the abolition of slavery in her West India Colonies, that in
whatever part of the world her flag floated in dominion, there the air
was too pure to be inhaled by a slave, the chattel bondmen of British
India were to be counted by millions, held in servitude by permission of
British laws, which British power could have revoked at any moment by a
dash of the pen.

The calamitous consequences of this long-continued system of oppression
and extortion can hardly be overrated. The ancient public works have
fallen into decay. Public improvement has languished. The roads,
bridges, and canals, are in the most deplorable state. Education and the
arts are neglected. Native property-holders are ruined by taxation. The
laboring poor sink into the arms of beggary, while surrounded by
foreigners who riot in plenty. The earth refuses to yield her natural
increase in return for niggardly culture. And the country has been wont
to relieve itself of its redundant squalor by famines which sweep its
table lands, and by pestilences, which, having depopulated its towns,
take to themselves wings, invade distant nations, cross wide oceans, and
scourge every part of the world.

In return for all these inflictions, and for a trade which crowds her
ports with the richest products of Asia, one would suppose that Great
Britain, which boasts of its judicial and municipal institutions, might
give to India a tolerable internal government. Not so. It could hardly
be more wretched. Its internal affairs are conducted for the same ends
for which its taxes are collected--enriching and aggrandizing the
rulers. Indians are excluded from every honor, dignity, and station,
which the meanest Englishman can be induced to accept. A writer of
probity and experience informs us, that the public offices are sinks of
every species of villainy, fraud, chicane, favoritism, and injustice.
The courts are a libel on the very semblance of justice. Practically,
there is no law for the multitude. Often but a single magistrate can be
found in a district as large as the State of Connecticut. He cannot hear
a tenth of the causes demanding his attention. The distance, the
expenses, the hopelessness of getting a hearing, deter thousands from
seeking it. Those hardy enough to attempt it, on arriving at many of
these tribunals, find them conducted, not in the Hindostanee language,
which the suitor understands, nor in the English, which the judge
speaks, but in the Persian, which neither suitor nor judge knows a word
of. Justice, or rather _judgment_, is sold to the wealthy, and denied to
the poor. If an influential native, in the pay of the Company, or an
Englishman, is prosecuted, the prosecutor may deem himself fortunate if
he and his witnesses are not seized and imprisoned by order of the
Court. If the Government prosecutes for a fine or a tax, torture is
sometimes applied to extort confession and payment. Judge Shore
denounces the inferior courts as sinks of villainy. As to the Supreme
Court, sitting at Calcutta, it has been regarded with an undefined and
unintelligible horror since the day when Impey, at the instigation of
Hastings, sentenced to death Nuncomar, the head of the Hindoo race and
religion, on a trumped-up charge of forgery--a venial offense in the
code of Indian morals.

And this is a feeble picture of England's government of India, a picture
that all the plausible and brilliant extenuations of Macaulay, in his
sketches of Clive and Hastings, do not obscure.

I will give an illustration of the mode by which England has extended
her territory in India.

In the vicinity of the holy city of Benares, on the banks of the sacred
Ganges, resides Purtaub Sing, an illustrious Hindoo prince, better known
as the RAJAH OF SATTARA. He once sat on the throne of Sattara, but for
ten years has been the captive of the British Government, subsisting on
its charity. He is descended from the renowned Sivajee, whose skill and
courage, in the seventeenth century, delivered the Mahrattas from the
Mahometan yoke of the successors of Tamerlane, and founded the mighty
Mahratta empire. This warlike people, so long the terror of the English
in India, made their home in the fastnesses of those mountains whose
blue summits watch the distant coast of Malabar, and on the rich table
lands stretching eastward from their tops, and the alluvial valleys
which slide westward from their base, into the sea of Arabia. In 1817,
after a checkered contest of thirty years, during which the cavalry of
the Mahrattas often carried dismay and havoc among the white villas
sprinkled around Madras, and the rice fields clustering among the mouths
of the Ganges, their empire fell before the superior military skill and
political intrigues of the British. At that time, Purtaub Sing, a youth
of eighteen, was the rightful possessor of the Mahratta throne. By
treaty with his conquerors, a small portion of the territory he had lost
was allotted to him; he was placed on the throne of Sattara, and made
tributary to the Government of Bombay. The mind of the prince was
liberal and acute; his habits frugal and temperate; his character humane
and noble; and for twenty years his just and beneficent rule rendered
his dominions among the happiest and most flourishing in India. For his
many virtues and wise administration, the Directors of the East India
Company, in 1835, presented him a rich gift and a eulogistic vote of
thanks. The neighboring Government of Bombay had long had its greedy eye
on this prosperous principality. Having exhausted the arts of flattery
and chicane to induce the Rajah to relinquish his throne in favor of a
fawning creature of its own, it fastened a quarrel upon him in respect
to certain revenues arising under the treaty of 1817. He appealed to
the Board of Directors at London. They decided in his favor, and sent
their decision to the Governor of Bombay. This was in 1835. The decision
was withheld from the Rajah, and he was kept in profound ignorance of
the result. The Governor now had recourse to the blackest crimes, to
convict him of treasonable designs against the British power in India.
Charges were preferred, and he was brought to trial before Commissioners
appointed to determine his case. It was in vain that he denied the
jurisdiction of the tribunal, and offered to submit the matter to the
Board of Directors. He was pronounced guilty by a majority of the
Commissioners, on evidence since proved to have been perjured and
forged. General Lodwick, the English Resident at his Court, who sat on
the Commission, denounced the testimony, as a mass of perjury and
forgery. The honest soldier was removed from his post, and Colonel
Ovans, an unscrupulous agent of the Bombay Government, appointed in his
place. Not daring to punish the Rajah on the strength of such a trial,
the new Resident was instructed to spare no pains to entrap the unwary
Prince. After two years of vexatious dispute, and fruitless efforts to
inveigle him, desperate measures were employed to accomplish the
rapacious purposes of the Bombay Government. The Prince was dragged from
his bed at midnight, torn from the palace of his ancestors, carried nine
hundred miles across the country, and imprisoned in Benares. His estates
were confiscated, his private treasure seized, his entire territory
secured to the East India Company, and one of its creatures placed on
the vacant throne. Twelve hundred of the Rajah's subjects, with tears
and lamentations, followed their Prince into exile, leaving their wealth
to their persecutors, and bestowing on them their blistering curses.
This black crime was perpetrated in 1839. The principal witnesses
against the Rajah have since confessed their guilt, disclosed the names
of their suborners, and the sums paid for their villainy. In vain has
the deposed Prince appealed for justice to the authorities of the
Company, both in England and India. And this is the way that England
extends her dominions in India--the England that lifts her red hands in
holy horror at Texan annexation and Mexican invasion.

But it would be unjust to suppose that all Englishmen have looked with
indifference, much more with approval, on the administration of Indian
affairs. From the day when Edmund Burke made the old oaken arches of
Westminster Hall ring with his thundering philippics against Warren
Hastings, whose splendid administrative qualities for a time dazzled and
drew the public eye from his gigantic crimes, down to the day when
George Thompson shook the India House by his lightning eloquence in
defense of the deposed Rajah of Sattara, a few jealous eyes have watched
the rulers of India. It is only within the past ten or twelve years that
any considerable portion of the British people has uttered a hearty
protest against English oppression in the East, and demanded justice for
its Oriental brethren. Some palliation for half a century's indifference
may be found in the profound ignorance in which the mass of the English
people were steeped in relation to their Indian empire. Till a late
period, even men of intelligence supposed the functions of the East
India Company were chiefly commercial, and never dreamed that it
marshaled an army in the field three times as numerous as that which
conquered at Waterloo; that its agents reigned over a population
seven-fold that of England, with a power and splendor equaling Roman
proconsuls in the days of Cæsar; that it deposed and crowned princes at
pleasure, giving away thrones erected by the successors of Tamerlane;
that the Great Mogul himself, reposing under the mere shadow of his
ancestral greatness, was in reality but the titled pensioner of a
Company, whose arms, intrigues, and extortions had scattered terror,
strife, and poverty from the pine forests of Afghanistan to the cinnamon
groves of Ceylon. But a better day has dawned for India. A people which,
in the stormy times of Clive and Surajah Dowlah, of Hastings and
Maharajah Nuncomar, hardly knew the locality of the island that sent out
their oppressors, and which, in milder days, found it impossible to waft
their complaints across 15,000 miles of ocean, now breathe their
petitions in the ears of a listening Parliament, and through generous
champions make even the great court of the India House echo the
utterance of their wrongs. Many improvements in Indian affairs have
already been secured. The eye of an influential party in England is
fixed upon Hindostan, never to be withdrawn, till British rule ceases to
vex the peninsula, or ceases wholly to exist. Tens of thousands of the
best minds in the kingdom would prefer to see that rule instantly
shivered in atoms, and the army, with the cowardly plunderers that
throng in its train and hide behind its bayonets, driven in defeat and
disgrace from India, than that it should exist for a single day, except
to make atonement for past offenses. And to no man is this change in
public opinion so justly attributable as to GEORGE THOMPSON.

It has already been stated that a better day has dawned on British
India. The first purple streaks of the morning were seen when Earl
Grey's administration abolished the last remnants of the maritime
monopoly of the East India Company, and opened the Indian trade to the
whole commercial marine of the kingdom--an important step in a line of
policy, which, for many years, had been gradually circumscribing the
ancient powers and privileges of the company.[6] The full-orbed sun
arose when, ten years later, chattel-slavery ceased in all the vast
regions stretching from the highlands whence spring the sources of the
Indus and the Ganges, southward to where "the spicy breezes blow soft
o'er Ceylon's isle," elevating millions of serfs to the condition of
men, and verifying the words of our Whittier, that

  ----"Every flap of England's flag
    Proclaims that all around are free,
  From farthest Ind to each blue crag
    That beetles o'er the western sea."

  [6] Since 1813 all British subjects have been permitted to trade to the
  East Indies under certain restrictions, which were wholly removed in

This great boon, out of which the slaves of India were defrauded six
years by a political trick, in which the Duke of Wellington bore a
dishonorable part, was a consequence rather than the cause of a broad
and comprehensive movement among the Abolitionists of Great Britain, set
on foot by the benevolence of Joseph Pease, and the eloquence of George
Thompson, for redressing the wrongs of India. In July, 1839, "The
British India Society" was formed, in the presence of a large audience,
in Freemason's Hall, Lord Brougham in the chair. Soon after, auxiliary
societies were organized in Manchester and Glasgow. Lord Brougham, and
Messrs. Clarkson, O'Connell, Cobden, Bright, William Howitt, Joseph
Pease, Gen. Briggs, Dr. Bowring, and George Thompson, were among the
officers of these associations.

The main objects of the British India Society were declared to be, to
inform the public of the history of the British acquisitions in India,
and the character of the British rule therein; to make known the
condition of the natives; to introduce more extensively the cultivation
of cotton, and to develop the resources of the country; to abolish
slavery, and put an end to injurious monopolies; to stay the march of
famine, and quench the lust of conquest; to mitigate the land tax, and
secure for the inhabitants a practical recognition of their claims to
the soil; and to awaken in behalf of that distant people the sentiments
of a genuine sympathy, and a proper sense of national responsibility in
the empire which claims to govern them.

These noble objects have been kept steadily in view during the past ten
years. The soul of the enterprise has been Mr. Thompson. He has been
greatly aided by Major General John Briggs, a generous and gallant
soldier, who spent thirty years in India, traveled over most of the
Peninsula, administered the Government in several provinces, and has
published two able works on the Land Tax, and on the Cotton Trade of
India. Mr. William Howitt, so favorably known in our country as a writer
of taste and research, has given many of the best productions of his pen
to the same cause. Numerous public meetings have been addressed by
Brougham, O'Connell, Bowring, Thompson, Briggs, and others; valuable
pamphlets issued; and a great amount of startling information spread
before the public eye. A radical change in the administration of Indian
affairs is demanded by a body daily increasing in numbers and influence,
whose advocates have found their way into the Board of Directors, the
Court of Proprietors, and the Halls of Parliament.

I will now speak more particularly of Mr. Thompson. At the close of his
speech on the occasion of the formation of the British India Society,
Lord Brougham said: "I have always great pleasure in listening to Mr.
Thompson, who is the most eloquent man and the most accomplished orator
whom I know; and as I have no opportunity of hearing him where he ought
to speak, inside the walls of Parliament, I am anxious never to lose an
opportunity of hearing him, where alone I can hear him, in a public
meeting like the present." This is high eulogy, but it will not be
deemed extravagant by those who have listened to its subject in his
happiest moods.

Mr. T. was bred in a mercantile house in London. While a clerk, business
could not prevent the gratification of his fondness for books, nor the
cultivation of his remarkable native powers of elocution. He devoured
libraries, and mingled in the debating clubs of the metropolis. In 1830,
having read the great speech of Rev. Dr. Thomson, of Edinburgh, in favor
of immediate emancipation, he embraced the doctrine, and soon after was
invited by the London Anti-Slavery Society to traverse the country, and
bring its objects before the people. His addresses in Liverpool,
Manchester, Glasgow, and other large towns, drew throngs of hearers; and
so great was their influence, that the West India body, taking the
alarm, employed Mr. Peter Borthwick (afterward, like Mr. T., elected to
Parliament) to meet him, and present the slaveholding view of the
question. This was the very stimulus needed to bring out all the powers
of Thompson; for Borthwick was an able, ardent, and accomplished
advocate. They measured swords on many a field in the presence of
thousands, their encounters often extending through several successive
evenings. Most unflinchingly and right gallantly did Borthwick bear
himself in these conflicts. He was a foeman worthy of the glittering
blade of his antagonist, and many a time did he feel its piercing point
and excoriating edge. But the advocate of Slavery was not an equal match
for the champion of Freedom; and he could hardly have been, had their
relative positions been reversed. As it was, he was invariably
overthrown. Thompson shook him from the point of his weapon, quivering
and bleeding, at every crossing of swords. Many of Mr. Thompson's
speeches were reported. They are crowded with passages of power and
beauty. Master of the facts of his case; skilled in its logic; expert in
the arts of attack and defense; apt in quotations and allusions; fertile
in illustrations; singularly perfect in the command of language, still
his _forte_ lay in the power of his appeals to the humanity, the sense
of justice, the hatred of oppression, the innate love of liberty, of his
hearers. When rapt with his theme, his frame throbbing with emotion, the
perspiration dripping from his forehead and hands, his voice pealing
like a trumpet, his action as graceful and impetuous as that of a
blood-horse on the course, the hearer who, for the moment, could stifle
the sentiment that Slavery was the most atrocious system under heaven,
might be trusted to sleep quietly on his knapsack in the breach, when it
spouted a torrent of fire.

The next year after the passage of the West India abolition act, Mr.
Thompson visited this country, where he remained till driven from our
shores for advocating the natural equality of man, and his inalienable
right to liberty. We would not permit a foreigner to interfere with our
institutions--it was offensive, indelicate, impertinent. Probably
Nicholas, the Sultan, Ferdinand, Victoria, Louis Philippe, and
Metternich, thought just so when we interfered with Poland, Greece,
South America, Ireland, France, and Germany. Not knowing the
particulars, I shall not go into the details.

Returning to England, Mr. T. joined his old associates for the overthrow
of the West India apprenticeship. When victory crowned their exertions,
his brilliant services, with those of the more sober but not less
efficient Joseph Sturge, were specially commended by Lord Brougham in
one of his great speeches in the House of Peers.

Mr. Thompson now turned his attention to the affairs of British India.
Having formed the British India Society, and established auxiliary
associations in various parts of England, he, in 1842-3, visited India.
His fame as the advocate of the rights of the natives had preceded him.
In several parts of the country, he was greeted with long processions of
richly-caparisoned elephants and camels, with cymbals and trumpets, and
the gorgeous pomp customary in the festivities of orient climes. But he
visited India for business, and not for show. He traveled through the
upper provinces, held conferences with the people, gathered a store of
important information, and, having been personally solicited by the
Rajah of Sattara and the Emperor of Delhi, to present their claims
before the British Parliament, he returned to England.

On a murky afternoon, in the dingy hall of the Court of Proprietors, in
Leadenhall street, which was filled by merchants and speculators in
India stocks, eager to pocket the spoils wrung from a people whom they
had first conquered and then plundered, a tall man, personally unknown
to but few present, rose from one of the back benches, and, with a pile
of dog-eared documents before him, proposed to bring the case of the
deposed Rajah of Sattara to the consideration of the Court. At this
announcement, a few members, not so dozy as the majority, turned their
heads to see who this intruder could be. It was not long before he had
thoroughly roused these free and easy gentlemen to a full sense of
consciousness. Mr. George Thompson (for he was the man) began to spread
out the unmitigated rascality of the transactions I have detailed. He
was soon interrupted. His right to be there was questioned. But he was
the proprietor of a sufficient amount of stock to entitle him to be
heard. He went on. He was called to order. He would not come, but still
went on. They proposed to take down his offensive words. He begged them
to be patient, and he would soon give them something worth taking down.
He was declared impertinent. He insisted that his speech was decidedly
pertinent. Clamor was tried. His voice pierced the din, with the
defiance that "he _would_ be heard." He was denounced as the feed agent
of the Rajah. He repelled the charge in a passage of cutting power. He
was threatened. But he rode on the surges of too many mobs, in the
turbulent days of the West India discussion, to be frightened at a
tempest in the East India House. He still held his ground, and kept up a
heavy and well-directed fire. The excitement was intense, the turmoil
continuing till three o'clock in the morning. It was one of the
stormiest sessions which had ever taken place in that stormy hall. It
revived the recollection of the days when Lord Clive, the founder of the
Anglo-Indian empire, encountered Sullivan, the prince of London
merchants, and the chairman of the Company, who had tabled infamous
charges against him; or the days when Warren Hastings, laden with rupees
and flushed with triumphs, measured powers with his deadly foe, Sir
Philip Francis, the author of Junius. Above the war of this tempestuous
night, the trumpet-voice of the gallant Thompson was heard, cheering on
the band that rallied to the defense of the dethroned Rajah. It was an
era in the history of the Indian Court of Proprietors. Justice,
humanity, right, honor, were strange words to be echoed from arches
which had so long looked down on fraud, cruelty, oppression, and
avarice. Thanks to George Thompson, these words are becoming more and
more familiar in that temple of Mammon.

When the Corn-Law struggle was approaching its crisis, Mr. T. yielded to
the solicitations of the League to again advocate its cause before the
country. He had been an agent of the League previous to going to India,
and his peculiar eloquence contributed essentially to the rapid change
of public opinion during the years 1841-2. In the last year of the
Corn-Law contest, he fought shoulder to shoulder with Cobden, Villiers,
Bright, and Wilson, and no Free Trade chief carried over that triumphant
field a brighter blade or a stouter shield than he.

As a testimonial of their regard for his many services in the cause of
civil and religious liberty, the Lord Provost and Magistrates of
Edinburgh presented him, in June, 1846, with the freedom of their
venerable city. A higher honor awaited him. At the general election in
1847, Mr. Thompson was returned to the House of Commons for the Tower
Hamlets, by the largest majority, over a popular opponent, obtained by
any member of the new House.

In addition to the reforms already mentioned, he is the advocate of
Universal Suffrage, of a dissolution of the union of Church and State,
of Free Education, of Retrenchment in all departments of the Government.
In a word, he is a radical democrat.

I have already spoken of his powers as an orator. His logic is not of
the firstly, secondly, thirdly sort--a didactic, pulpit sort of
logic--but a sort in which all the numerals are combined, and
confounded, and sent home with the accelerated momentum of geometrical
progression. His rhetoric is not so systematic as Campbell's, nor so
stiff as Blair's, but leaps spontaneously from a fruitful mind, from an
observation of men and things active and broad, from a sympathy with the
grand in nature, and the beautiful in art. He attacks an opponent with a
general pell-mell of argument, fact, appeal, sarcasm, and wit, not the
more easily repelled because this onset of "all arms" is not arrayed
according to the precise rules of art, but comes from unexpected
quarters, and in unanticipated forms. He deals seriously with the great
facts of his subject, and specially addresses himself to the higher
parts of man's nature--the reason, the conscience, the affections. Yet
can he gambol in playful humor, throwing the galling arrow of sarcasm,
scattering the _jet d'eau_ of wit, or with a stroke of his crayon,
drawing the ludicrous caricature, imitating to the life any peculiarity
in the tone or manner of his antagonist--gliding from grave to gay, from
lively to severe, with charming grace. His speeches might be set down
merely as rare specimens of elocution or declamation, but for one
peculiarity. They deal largely with the facts, the details of the case
in hand. He _reads up_ on every topic he discusses. His stores of facts
are relieved of all dryness or repulsion in the presentation, by the
panoramic style in which he marshals them before the eye, all clad in
the garb furnished forth by a rich elocution and lively fancy. Here lies
his strength; for a single apposite fact outweighs, with the mass of
men, a whole volume of abstract reasoning or florid declamation. His
story charms like a well-acted tragedy or well-written novel.

If India shall ever enjoy a Government which protects its rights and
promotes its prosperity, its happy millions will pronounce no name with
more grateful accents than that of their early friend and advocate,
George Thompson.


     Cheap Postage--Rowland Hill--His Plan Proposed in 1837--Comparison
     of the Old and New Systems--Joshua Leavitt--Money-Orders, Stamps,
     and Envelopes--The Free Delivery--London District Post--Mr.
     Hume--Unjust Treatment of Mr. Hill by the Government--The National

A sketch of recent British Reforms, even as imperfect as that I am
attempting, would be defective without some notice of one of the
greatest blessings of the age--CHEAP POSTAGE. Not only Britain, but
Europe and America, (for they have in some degree partaken of its
benefits,) are indebted to Mr. ROWLAND HILL for this measure of human
improvement and enjoyment. There are two aspects for contemplating this
reform. The one, to go into heroics on its vast social, political,
commercial, and moral advantages; the other, to go into tables of
figures. The former may be called the poetic, the latter, the
mathematical, view. I shall avoid both of these extremes.

The high rates of British postage, down to 1840, and which were adjusted
much on the same scale as ours, were a dead weight on correspondence.
For thirty years previous to that time, the gross receipts of the
post-office had remained nearly stationary. Thus, the amount of
correspondence by mail continued about the same during a period in which
the population of the country increased fifty per cent., commerce and
wealth in a nearly equal proportion, and knowledge among the masses, and
the facilities of transmission, to even a larger degree. These facts
arrested the attention of many minds. But the sagacious Rowland Hill
probed to causes and devised remedies. He published his scheme for
postal reform in 1837. Its outlines were these. The controlling idea of
the post-office establishment should be, the convenience of the people,
and not Governmental revenue. It was extortionate for the Government to
tax as much for carrying a letter from London to Edinburgh, as a
merchant charged for transporting a barrel of flour. The chief labor
being expended in making up, opening, and delivering mails, therefore
the fact, whether a letter was carried one mile or one hundred miles
made comparatively little difference in the expenditures of the
department. The number of pieces of which a letter was composed should
not regulate the rate of postage, but weight should control. As much
postage was lost on letters which were never called for, therefore there
should be a distinction between prepaid letters and others; and in large
towns there should be a free distribution of prepaid letters, by
postmen. There should be no privileged class, with permission to use the
post-office free of charge. Guided by these principles, Mr. Hill
recommended a uniform rate of postage for all distances--a postage of a
penny per half ounce, on letters, if prepaid, irrespective of the number
of pieces, and two pence if not paid till delivered, the rate increasing
as the weight advanced--a free delivery of prepaid letters in large
towns--total abolition of the franking privilege. His scheme embraced
great improvements in other respects, such as envelopes, stamps,
post-office money-orders, &c. He also insisted, that the increase in the
number of letters under his scheme would be sufficient in a few years to
carry the net income as high as under the old system.

Now, all this seems very simple and plain--so simple and plain, that
those who hourly enjoy its benefits never think of the times when it
absorbed a day's wages of a poor Irish laborer in London to send a
letter to his wife in Cork, informing her that he was well, and hoped
these few lines would find her enjoying the same blessing--when a
commercial house in Liverpool paid a yearly tax to the post-office
sufficient to discharge the salaries of its clerks--when an editor,
happening to be absent from the metropolis, wrote his leaders, to avoid
triple postage, on very thin folio post, with very close lines, to the
great disgust and vexation of compositors and proof readers--when love
letters and money letters were peered into by gossiping and rascally
postmasters, to see whether they were double--when a manufacturer, who
could send a ream of paper a hundred miles for six pence if it went in
the coach box, must pay a shilling per sheet if it went in the coach
bag--when a luckless neighbor, about to take a journey of business or
pleasure, must conceal his departure to the last moment, or be laden
with a portmanteau full of letters, to "save postage"--when--but there
is no end to the absurdities, annoyances, and extortions of the old
system. And who thanks the genius and perseverance of Rowland Hill for
exposing and exploding this relic of the times of the Stuarts, and
introducing a reform worthy of the noon of steamers, railways, and
electric telegraphs? It is so simple! Columbus is almost as sure of
immortality for teaching a bevy of courtly buffoons how to make an egg
stand on end, as for giving a new world to Ferdinand and Isabella. It
looked very simple--especially _after it was done_. So did the discovery
of the magnetic needle and the new world. It is the capacity which
conceives how simple things, which produce great results, can be _done_,
that is entitled to be called genius. He is both a genius and a
practical man who can first conceive and then execute. And such a man is
Rowland Hill.

His pamphlet, of 1837, soon attracted the attention of the nation. The
next year, several hundred petitions in favor of his plan were presented
to Parliament--a select committee was appointed to collect facts--a
hundred witnesses were examined--and a report, embodying a great variety
of important information, was published, filling three volumes of the
Parliamentary papers. After much deliberation, his scheme, having
suffered considerable mutilation, was adopted in 1839, to take effect
early in 1840. In its actual workings, though crippled by half-hearted
officials, it has exceeded the expectations of almost everybody except
its sagacious originator, working out, during nine years, before
millions of eyes, the problems he solved twelve years ago in his closet.

In 1839, the last year of the old system, the letters passing through
the British post-office numbered about eighty millions. The average
postage was seven pence per letter. The first year of the new system,
the number reached one hundred and seventy millions. It steadily
advanced, till, in 1848, it had risen to three hundred and fifty
millions. The gross receipts of the department in the latter year about
equaled those of 1839. The net income of 1839 was about a million and a
half sterling; that of 1848, about three-fourths of a million. The
increased expense, and consequent diminution of net revenue, under the
new system, are owing to the increase of business on old post routes,
the opening of new routes, and great improvement on both. The net
revenue increased from 1840 to 1848, a period of eight years, one-fourth
of a million. Hence, it is safe to presume, that in a few years more, it
will equal that of 1839. What a demonstration have we here of the much
controverted proposition, that a great diminution in the cost of that
which the public needs will so increase consumption, that revenue will
not be the loser, while convenience will vastly gain? But, discard the
principle of revenue, and make the post-office simply support itself,
and England might probably in a few years reduce the rate of postage
one-half, while transmitting a mass of letters which would almost defy
enumeration. This more than realizes the brightest visions of Mr. Hill.

But, the money view of this great reform is a paltry view. It is well
said by Mr. Joshua Leavitt, in his admirable American pamphlet on Cheap
Postage: "The people of England expend now as much money for postage, as
they did under the old system; but the advantage is, that they get a
great deal more service for their money, and it gives a spring to
business, trade, science, literature, philanthropy, social affection,
and all plans of public utility."[7] Probably the corn laws were
repealed two years sooner, because of cheap postage.

  [7] Mr. Leavitt is probably better acquainted with this subject than any
  other man in America, and his valuable writings are doing much to
  prepare the public sentiment to demand the full measure of this reform.

Nothing can exceed the convenience of the money-order, the stamp, and
the envelope branches of the system. The money-orders are drafts by one
post-office upon another, for sums not exceeding £5. They are a sort of
post-office bill of exchange, and are largely employed in the
transmission of small sums by mail. In 1847, the number issued in
England alone was 810,000, amounting to £1,654,000. The department
charges a trifling commission for the order--say 3_d_ for £2. In a
country where the brokers are Jews, and the smallest Bank of England
notes are £5, this arrangement is very beneficial to the poor. The label
stamps, which prepay letters, are convenient to all classes. They are of
all rates, and, being first prepared by the department, are kept on
sale, not only at all the post-offices, but by shop-keepers of all
sorts. They are used, not only to pay postage, but as small change.
Indeed, they are used as a kind of circulating medium. The number sold
in a year is counted by millions. The envelopes, stamped by the
department, and sold like simple stamps, are used not only to enclose
letters, but by all sorts of persons and associations, for circulars,
advertisements, &c., these being printed on the inside of the envelopes
after they are stamped. The great majority of letters are prepaid,
because of the diminution in the rate of postage. _Gentlemen_ everywhere
always pay their own postage, when writing on their own business. In
England, they also enclose a stamp to prepay the answer. Large
commercial houses cause their address to be printed on stamped
envelopes, and then send packages of these to their correspondents, to
be used when needed.

The free delivery of prepaid letters in the large towns is astonishingly
perfect. Almost a stranger among the two millions of London, I once
received a letter at my lodgings, from a correspondent to whom my city
address was unknown, in three hours after its arrival at the
post-office. The postman, when I was in London three months before, had
delivered letters to my address, and he now recollected the name and
number. Besides the "General Post," which delivers letters coming from
the country and foreign parts, there is connected with the department in
London, a machine of curious contrivance, and great exploits, called the
"District Post." It covers a circle of some twelve miles, from the
center, and delivers letters which originate and end within the circle,
ten times a day, at dwellings, shops, and offices. In 1848, the number
delivered by this post was nearly fifty millions. To these must be added
at least a hundred and twenty millions for the General Post, making an
aggregate of a hundred and seventy millions of letters delivered in
London annually, by the post-office department, a large proportion of
which, being prepaid, are delivered free! But there is no end to those
statistics, and I leave them.[8]

  [8] I have not attempted in this chapter to do more than give
  _statistics_ in "round numbers," nearly approximating to precision.

The committee, when presenting to Mr. Hill, in 1846, the National
Testimonial, had ample grounds for pronouncing his reform "a measure
which has opened the blessings of a free correspondence to the teacher
of religion, the man of science and literature, the merchant and trader,
and the whole British nation, especially the poorest and most
defenseless portion of it--a measure which is the greatest boon
conferred in modern times on all the social interests of the civilized
world." The veteran reformer, Joseph Hume, in a letter to Mr. Bancroft,
then our minister at St. James, dated in 1848, says: "I am not aware of
any reform, amongst the many reforms I have promoted during the last
forty years, that has had, and will have, better results toward the
improvement of this country, morally, socially, and commercially."

And how has the benefactor of a great and powerful nation been treated
by the British Government? He has shared the general fate of useful
inventors and reformers. At the outset he was ridiculed as a dreamer, an
enthusiast. After a conviction of the utility of his plan had penetrated
the masses of the people, Parliament mutilated it, supplying the
exscinded parts with uncongenial inventions of its own. When even thus
much of his plan was adopted, he was permitted to have but slight
influence in working it out in practice. He should have been appointed
Postmaster General; but that station belonged, by prescription, to the
nobility--to some Lord Fitztoady or Earl Muttonhead, who could hardly
tell a mail bag from a handsaw. Liberal Whig though he was, the great
reformer was placed, by a Whig administration, in a minor place, where
he could exert only a subordinate influence over postal affairs. And
after six years of incessant labor and anxiety, which had impaired his
health and wasted his fortune, the Peel government turned him out,
though he entreated the Premier to allow him, at any pecuniary sacrifice
to himself, to remain and aid in working out his plan. Being now
embarrassed in his circumstances, a national subscription in his behalf
was started, the net proceeds of which amounted to £13,360. It was
presented to him, in 1846, at a public dinner, accompanied by many
honeyed words. The reply of Mr. Hill was modest. He gave ample credit
for the aid he had received from others in carrying his plan through
Parliament, and specially named Messrs. Wallace and Warburton, members
of the committee of 1838, Mr. Baring, the then Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and Lords Ashburton and Brougham. He delicately alluded to
his proscription by the Peel administration, and pointed out the
improvements necessary to give complete efficiency to his reform.

Thirteen thousand pounds, for devising and introducing a measure which
has carried blessings to every princely mansion and peasant cabin in
three kingdoms! Why, if Rowland Hill had patented a first class washing
machine, he could hardly have made less money out of it. Thirteen thousand
pounds from a people that smothered the "Divine-Fanny-show-her-legs," as
George Thompson called her, with bouquets and bank notes. But if his
cotemporaries do not requite his services, posterity will do justice to
his memory.


     Disruption of the State Church of Scotland--Its Causes--The Veto
     Act of the Assembly of 1834--Mr. Young Presented to the Church of
     Auchterarder--Is Vetoed by the Communicants and Rejected by the
     Presbytery--Resort to the Civil Courts--The Decision--Intrusionists
     and Non-Intrusionists--The Final Secession of 1843--The Free
     Church--Dr. Chalmers--Dr. Hill.

One of the most important ecclesiastical occurrences of our times is the
disruption of the State Church of Scotland. We see a venerable
establishment, founded in the religious affections of a great people,
sustained by the arm of secular power, rent in twain, and five hundred
of its ministers, possessing a moiety of its talents and piety, and
drawing in their train a proportional share of their congregations,
secede in obedience to the dictates of conscience, and, under the
leadership of one of the most learned, eloquent, and celebrated divines
of the age, assume the position of Voluntaries. The difficulties which
caused this result arose somewhat in this wise:

In consequence of some controversy as to the right of "patrons" to
"present" pastors to churches, a majority of whose members were
unwilling to receive them, Lord Moncrieff, in the General Assembly of
the Church, in May, 1834, moved a resolution declaring that the
disapproval of a majority of the male heads of families, being
communicants, should be deemed sufficient ground for a Presbytery
rejecting any person presented as a clergyman to a parish in Scotland.
After a warm debate, it was carried, 184 to 138. It was sent down to
the Presbyteries, and, being sanctioned by a large majority of them,
was confirmed by the General Assembly of 1835. This was known as the
_Veto Act_. It was intended to declare the existing law. Whether legal
or not, (for on this point, when the trouble arose, lawyers and judges
of course differed, and the books, as usual, furnished precedents on
both sides,) the veto had generally been acquiesced in for a long

In October, 1834, Lord Kinnoul presented Mr. Young, a licensed
probationer, to the Church of Auchterarder. Of the heads of families,
being communicants, 287 out of 330 protested against the admission of
Mr. Young to be their pastor. The Presbytery of Auchterarder, in
obedience to the resolution of the Assembly of 1834, rejected him. A
suit was commenced in the civil courts, by Lord Kinnoul and Mr. Young,
against the Presbytery. After great displays of learning and acrimony,
the Court of Session, in 1838, by a majority of 8 judges to 5, decided
that the rejection of the presentee was illegal, and that the Presbytery
was bound to take Mr. Young "on trials."

Presbyterian Scotland, from John O'Groat's to Gretna Green, was
violently agitated with the question. It divided into parties known as
Intrusionists and Non-Intrusionists--Doctors Macfarlane, Cook, and Hill,
being conspicuous among the former, and Doctors Chalmers, Welsh, and
Candlish, among the latter. Every Presbytery was rent with discussion,
while the debates in the venerable General Assembly were hardly less
violent than in the East India Company Court of Proprietors, when Mammon
strives with Mercy for the rule of Hindostan, or when political chiefs
in the House of Commons struggle for mastery in the councils of Europe.

The majority of the Assembly having sustained the Presbytery of
Auchterarder, the Presbytery appealed from the decision of the Court of
Session to the House of Lords. In 1841, I believe, the Lords dismissed
the appeal--thus, in effect, affirming the judgment of the Court below,
and pronouncing the Veto Act illegal. Upon this, the Court of Session
made a further order, directing the Presbytery to take Mr. Young on
trials. Whereupon, the Assembly, after a violent debate, in which the
Veto was sustained by a power of Caledonian eloquence that John Knox
would have gloried to hear, resolved, by a majority of 49, that the
principle of Non-Intrusion could not be abandoned, and that no presentee
should be forced upon a parish contrary to the will of the congregation.
Acting under this vote of the Assembly, the Presbytery still refused to
receive Mr. Young; and, thereupon, the Court of Session gave damages to
Lord Kinnoul and Mr. Young in the sum of £10,000, and prohibited the
Presbytery from settling any minister over the Church of Auchterarder,
though he were to be maintained by the Non-Intrusion portion of the

Matters had now reached a point from which there seemed to be no retreat
for either party. The Non-Intrusionists, though they had prevailed in
the assembly of the saints, had altogether failed in the court of the
unbelievers. In the mean time, other similar cases had arisen,
especially those of Strathbogie, Culsalmond, and Glass, where obnoxious
pastors, who had been obtruded upon churches, were marched into the
pulpits on the Sabbath, guarded by police and soldiery, and the people
compelled to receive the gospel with batons over their heads and
bayonets at their hearts. These spectacles aroused the spirit that fired
the same people a century before, when, in the piquant language of
Sydney Smith, the persecuted Scotchman, "with a little oatmeal for food,
and a little sulphur for friction, allaying cutaneous irritation with
the one hand, and holding his Calvinistic creed in the other, ran away
to his flinty hills, sung his psalm out of tune his own way, and
listened to his sermon of two hours long, amid the rough and imposing
melancholy of the tallest thistles." The same spirit, in 1842-3, refined
by a higher civilization, and tempered by a more liberal learning, made
the same people prompt in deciding, that when the decrees of the Lord
Jesus Christ and the Lord Chancellor of England came in conflict, the
latter must be repudiated and the former obeyed. The interdicts of the
Courts were not merely disobeyed--they were literally torn in pieces and
trampled under foot by incensed assemblies, amidst the applause of

But, though other instances of intrusion had arisen, that of
Auchterarder was the case on which the question turned. That question,
stated in its simple form, was, whether the will of the patron or the
will of the communicants should prevail, in making the presentee the
pastor of the parish; and whether the members of a Presbytery were
liable to damages to the patron for rejecting his presentee on the veto
of the people. But the points involved penetrated far deeper. They
touched not only the right of the Church of Scotland to be supreme in
her ecclesiastical affairs, but they involved the whole subject of a
union of the Church with the State. They reached beyond this. They
raised the question of the right of the people to be supreme in
religious affairs. They stopped not here. They leaped the boundary that
divides spiritual and civil authority, and mooted the question of the
supremacy of the popular will--the question, whether the people are the
legitimate source of all power--an inquiry which stops not in its
researches till it has explored the foundations of human government in
their broadest aspect. Not only, then, were the rights of the
communicants of Auchterarder, of the Presbytery of Auchterarder, of the
Church of Scotland at issue, but the decision of this case involved
principles which might shake the minarets of the Metropolitan Cathedral,
the towers of Parliament House, the walls of the Throne Room of St.

Looking to the possibility of such consequences, it is no wonder that
the "Moderates" attempted to soothe the irritation by that dernier
panacea of conservatives and cowards--a compromise. The Scotch Church
question had already found its way into Parliament. In 1840, Lord
Aberdeen had introduced a bill to settle the difficulties. It slept in
the archives of the Peers till the Tories came into power. Dr. Chalmers
was now consulted by the Government. He gave his opinion as to what
would satisfy the Non-Intrusionists. He was promised a bill that would
justify a Presbytery in rejecting a presentee on even the most frivolous
objection--as red hair or a black skin, for instance. But, instead of
this, a bill was introduced which did not allow the Church judicatories
to reject unless on grounds satisfactory to the civil court. The
tergiversation of the Government wrung from Dr. Chalmers the
exclamation, that "the morality of politicians was the morality of

The General Assembly of May, 1842, met. It was opened by the Lord High
Commissioner of Her Majesty, with unusual pomp, blandness, and
hypocrisy. All hope of reconciliation had not fled. The friends of the
Veto cherished the delusion that purity and peace, that non-intrusion
and non-resistance might yet walk hand in hand; and, not being prepared
to break with the Government, they suffered the Assembly to adjourn
without taking any decisive action. During the ensuing summer and
autumn, Sir James Graham, the Home Secretary, endeavored to cajole the
Non-Intrusionists, and succeeded in inducing 40 or 50 conservative
clergymen of that party to express their approval of a settlement of the
question on the basis of a compromise, which should give a great deal of
power to the people and the Kirk, and a little more to the Court of
Session. The battle was fought, on popular grounds, in the House of
Commons, in the winter and spring of 1843. A deputation of Non-Intrusion
clergymen was present. Remaining in London till hope had abandoned them,
they returned to Scotland, and prepared for the final disruption of the
Church. An act was subsequently passed--such an one as would have been
gladly accepted in 1840--but it came too late.

The General Assembly of 1843 met on the eighteenth of May. An immense
throng crowded the floor, the galleries, the aisles of the edifice,
eager with expectation. The Lord High Commissioner went through the
ceremony of opening the Assembly, in a style of chilling pomp. Dr.
Welsh, the Moderator of the last Assembly, rose, read the solemn protest
of his brethren, and the disciples of John Knox quietly left their
seats, and shook the dust from their feet on the threshold of the church
of their fathers. When the crowd outside saw the venerable forms of
Chalmers, Welsh, and their followers, emerging from the ancient edifice,
they lifted their hats and bowed their heads, with bosoms too full for
the utterance of a cheer. But, as the ejected presbyters wended their
way toward the high rock in the vicinity of the Castle where glittered
the spires of the New Assembly Hall, thousands of acclamations rent the
air, mingled with the waving of hats and handkerchiefs, from streets,
windows, roofs, and balconies. They entered the house, followed by a
throng, in which emotions of enthusiasm and solemnity struggled for the
mastery. The Assembly immediately organized, by placing its great
founder, Dr. Chalmers, in the chair. Having uttered a sublime prayer, he
gave out the psalm, "God is our refuge in distress," so often sung in
the bloody days, in the glens of Scotland, by the hunted Covenanters,

              "Leaning on his spear,
  The liart veteran heard the word of God
  By Cameron thundered, or by Renwick poured
  In gentle stream."

The Free Kirk was now launched. The crew was zealous, but untried; the
pilot, though skillful, was about to explore an unknown and tempestuous
sea. But a voice was heard above the raging of the elements, saying,
"Peace! be still!" The Assembly vigorously entered on the work of
bringing order out of confusion, symmetry out of chaos. The five hundred
clergymen who soon rallied round its altars, made noble sacrifices for
conscience' sake. They had to leave the greater part of their churches,
their glebes, their manses; many, literally, abandoning their
_livings_. Their flocks followed them to their cost; for new church
edifices were to be erected, and salaries to be raised, not from tithes,
stipends, and ecclesiastical funds--for these had been left behind in
the Exodus--but out of the pockets of those who, for the first time,
found themselves Seceders in fact, and Voluntaries in position. They
were prepared for this. Congregations met in groves, in barns, in lofts,
in halls, and heard the Word. They raised funds, and built churches.
They appealed for aid to their brethren in England and America. They
soon amassed a fund of £300,000, for the support of poor pastors and
parishes. They encountered great difficulties in obtaining sites for
churches. Many of the Intrusion landlords would neither give nor sell
them building spots. They would lease or sell lands for cockpits,
horse-races, gambling-houses, dram-shops, and even for Methodist or
Baptist places of worship; but they would not permit a chapel of the
Free Kirk of Scotland to pollute the soil. In process of time,
Parliament and public opinion brought these refractory landlords to
their senses. Excluded in a great measure from the current public
newspapers, they established journals of their own. Denounced by
Blackwood, looked coldly upon by the Edinburgh, though the Westminster
gave them two or three able and hearty articles, they set up the North
British Review, which at once took rank with the first quarterlies in
the kingdom. Shut out from the theological schools of the old Kirk, they
founded a seminary of their own, placing Dr. Chalmers at its head, as
professor of divinity. During the six years of the existence of the Free
Church, it has drawn to itself a large share of the numbers and vitality
of the Presbyterian body of Scotland. The Old Kirk has a great deal of
wealth, a great many churches, and a great deal of pomp. It also enjoys
a great deal of languor, a great deal of vacancy, and a great deal of

Yet it must be confessed that this secession, so extraordinary in its
immediate results, so congenial to the liberal tendencies of the times,
so far-reaching and powerful in its remote and collateral consequences,
has never excited that enthusiasm in the mass of ecclesiastical
reformers in Great Britain, which might have been anticipated. The
reasons given for this apathy are, that a body which had so long wielded
ecclesiastical power over others, by virtue of State laws, ought in its
turn to yield obedience to those laws--that the Seceders had held on
upon their power so long as they could exert it in their own way--that,
in the exercise of spiritual authority, they had been far from tolerant
of Dissenters--and that, at the very moment of their egress from the
Kirk, they repudiated Voluntaryism as a principle, and offered incense
to State-church establishments.

There was, no doubt, solid ground for some of these charges. As to the
course of the Seceders, while members of the State Kirk, many of their
acts were no doubt oppressive. The deeds of May, 1843, are broad enough
to cover a multitude of such sins. As to the repudiation of
Voluntaryism, while in the very act of Secession, it was a concession to
that tempting expediency which, in a crisis when principle and numbers
are both important, yields some of the former to gain more of the
latter. The Free Church has outgrown this folly of its infancy, and in
riper years has repudiated the repudiation. It is now, both in position
and profession, a Voluntary body. Learning wisdom from experience, and
acting on the maxim, alike pure and profitable, that honesty is the best
policy, long may it bless the land of Knox, Renwick, and Chalmers!

To attempt a sketch of the talents, genius, and virtues of DR. CHALMERS,
would be a work of supererogation. It is ample eulogy to say, that he
was the Moses of the Exodus, the Luther of the Reformation, I have
faintly described. The sublimity of that position dims even the splendor
of those productions of his pen and tongue which have made his name
familiar in two hemispheres. His memory lives on memorials more
enduring than monumental brass or marble--the hearts of a whole people.

I have somewhere seen a portrait of REV. DR. HILL, Professor of Moral
Philosophy in Glasgow University, and a leader of the Intrusion party,
sketched in the General Assembly of 1840, which I transcribe from
memory, bearing witness to its faithfulness to the subject. Dr. Chalmers
had just resumed his seat, after a powerful speech, when a tall, thin
gentleman, on the other side of the house, distinguished for an uncommon
length of neck and face, with a complexion inclining to sallow, and an
imperturbable gravity of countenance, caught the eye. Never before had
there been seen so prodigious an extent of white neckcloth, a figure so
immovably rigid, an expression so inveterately grave. He sat so bolt
upright, that the spectator was curious to know whether he ever shifted
his position or moved a feature. He rose to address the assembly. He
opened his mouth, and his words came marching out, dressed in the somber
hues and with the melancholy tread of a funeral procession. It was
evident that great truths were for the first time to be communicated to
mankind. He laid down his premises. They reminded one of the lawyer in
the farce, who, when pressed for a definition, thundered out, "Law
is--law!" "Judgment," exclaimed Rev. Dr. Hill, "judgment is an act of
the mind." There was a suppressed laugh from the Non-Intrusion side of
the house. The Doctor drew himself up more stiffly, and looked across
the house in dignified astonishment, as if desirous to single out the
men who disputed first principles. "I am in the right," he solemnly
reiterated--"judgment, Moderator, is an act of the mind!" He went on
with his speech. It was a dead skeleton of logical phraseology, divested
of the muscle, flesh, and blood of living argument; the speech of a man
whose father, perhaps, could argue, and who, without a particle of
causality, tried to argue too, sheerly through the exercise of filial
imitation. As he spoke, a nervous torpor crept over the Assembly--the
spectators began to nod--the reporters dropped their pens--the older
divines, sinking under the weight of their dinners, rested their heads
on the front boards--the very gas seemed to burn with a rounder and a
dimmer flame--and when, after a long infliction, the last sentence of
the peroration died away in the far galleries, and the spell was broken,
there was a stretching of limbs and jaws, and a raising of hands over
the benches, and a straining to collect and concentrate scattered
thoughts, till by and by the members seemed to realize that they were
actually sitting in a General Assembly; whereupon, a gentleman moved an
adjournment, and all retired with the conviction, that whoever might
doubt whether Dr. Hill was a profound philosopher and ecclesiastical
historian, he possessed most astonishing _mesmeric_ qualities and


     The Established Church of England--Its Revenues--Its Ecclesiastical
     Abuses--Its Sway over Political Parties--Rev. Dr. Phillpotts--Rev.
     Dr. Pusey--Rev. Mr. Noel--Anti-State Church Movement.

The Established Church of England is one of the foulest sores on the
body politic of the kingdom. I shall examine it mainly in its political

The King is the "Supreme Head of the Church," and appoints, through the
chapters, the bishops, besides a great number of lesser dignitaries. The
bishops license and ordain the inferior clergy. The owners of estates
charged with the payment of the salaries of pastors, have the right to
nominate or "present" them to the parishes. There are some 12,000
parochial churches under the control of the Establishment. Of these the
crown presents to 952; the bishops to 1248; the deans and chapters to
787; other ecclesiastical dignitaries to 1851; the Universities of
Oxford and Cambridge to 721; the nobility and gentry to 5096; and the
residue are disposed of by others.

The annual revenue of the whole body of the clergy is more than
$42,000,000; a sum greater than is received by the Established Clergy of
all the world besides. The income of the twenty-eight bishops amounts to
about $800,000. The Archbishop of Canterbury receives $75,000, and of
York $50,000. The Bishop of London $50,000, of Durham $40,000, of
Winchester $35,000, and so on. Previous to the act of 1837, the income
of the sees mentioned was much larger. Said the late Rowland Hill,
himself a clergyman of the Establishment, at a missionary meeting in
Exeter Hall, a few years ago: "Would, my lord, that I had the bishops of
this realm tied up by the heels to that chandelier, and could direct the
stewards to hold the plates under their pockets and catch the falling
guineas; what a collection we should raise!" One of the worst features
of this institution is the gross inequality in the distribution of its
favors. Of its clergy, fifteen hundred receive an average annual income
of about $5000 each; while another fifteen hundred (and they are the
working and valuable portion) receive only an average of about $400; and
many of these last do not get $200. Sydney Smith has aptly asked, "Why
is the Church of England nothing but a collection of beggars and
bishops? the right reverend Dives in the palace, and Lazarus in orders
at the gate, doctored by dogs and comforted by crumbs?"

The revenues of the Establishment are mostly drawn from tithes. But
large sums are realized from other sources. And in addition to these,
the clergy (whose numbers far exceed those of the parochial churches)
hold all the professorships, tutorships, masterships, and fellowships,
of the universities and public state schools; all the chaplainships in
the embassies, army and navy, and corporate and commercial companies;
worm their way into nearly all the profitable offices in educational and
charitable institutions, as librarians, secretaries, treasurers, and
trustees; are constant waiters upon Divine Providence and the Public
Treasury; standing candidates for all places of light work and heavy
pay; and show their zeal for the Crown and the Miter by promptly
furnishing recruits for the great army of sinecurists in the realm.[9]

  [9] A commission instituted some years ago by the House of Commons, to
  inquire into the abuses of charitable trusts, found a clergyman at the
  head of a school, with a salary of £900 a year, and _one_ pupil. Another
  received £500, had not a single scholar, and rented the school-room for
  a saw-pit.

It is not my purpose to speak particularly of the religious character
and influence of the Establishment. But, a few facts in this department
may be given to show that Paul the tent-maker, and Peter the fisherman,
are not very closely copied by some of their English successors. It is a
notorious fact that a large body of the clergy do not compose their own
sermons, but purchase them in manuscript at depots in London, and other
large towns, as they do their stationery and wines. There is no very
serious objection to this, provided the sermons are better than they
could write themselves. A good purchased sermon is preferable to a bad
home-made one. But, it is equally notorious that they are often written
as marketable commodities by grossly irreligious men. Here is an
advertisement from a newspaper, which will serve as a specimen of its
class. "MANUSCRIPT SERMONS. To clergymen who, from ill health, or other
causes, are prevented from composing their own sermons, the advertiser
offers his services on moderate terms. Original sermons composed on any
given texts or subjects. N. B. A specimen sent if required. Address L.
S. W., Post-Office, Winchester."

The Church "livings" being property, they are, of course, marketable
articles. English newspapers frequently contain advertisements offering
them for sale. In describing their desirable qualities it is often
stated that "the income is large and the duties light," or, that "the
present incumbent is very aged," or, "in very feeble health;" and I have
seen them represented as being in the midst of a fine sporting country,
surrounded by a most agreeable society of nobility and gentry, &c. I
select an advertisement from a number lying before me. "ADVOWSON.
Perpetual Patronage and Right of Presentation to be disposed of, subject
to the life of an incumbent, now sixty-eight years old. The benefice
consists of an excellent rectory-house, lately built at a considerable
expense; abounding with conveniencies, and capitally fitted, good
out-offices, pleasure-grounds, garden, &c., farm-yard, and forty acres
of glebe. The tithes are commuted. Annual value upward of 600_l._ per
annum, independent of surplice fees, and is well situated in a pleasant
and luxuriant country, four miles from a large town, to which there is
railway conveyance."

Now, all this simply means, that Lord John Broadacres, being hard pushed
by his gambling debts, will sell to anybody, Turk or Mormon, and his
heirs forever, the right to quarter a dapper young student from Oxford
on this parish, to occupy this comfortable and elegant house and
grounds, and collect £600 per annum out of Episcopalians, Baptists,
Methodists, Independents, and Quakers, in return for reading to a
handful of people fifty or sixty sermons a year, purchased at a
book-stall in London.

It needs no "Black Book" to tell us, that $40,000,000, extorted annually
from the people by such an institution, and to a large extent from those
who dissent from its ritual, and never listen to its clergy, is a
prolific source of vexation and oppression, and tends powerfully to
debauch the morals and corrupt the politics of the kingdom. The
Established Church exercises unbounded sway over the politics of the
country, holding in vassalage great masses of the Tory and Whig parties.
The nobility and gentry find the Establishment a profitable and
dignified retreat for such younger branches of their families, as are
too dull for the learned secular professions, and too cowardly and puny
for cutting their way to promotion in the army and navy. They send to
this snug asylum their indolent and imbecile offspring, where they may
receive emoluments and pensions without burning the barrister's midnight
lamp, or treading the thorny road of politics, or encountering malignant
fevers while filling civic stations in tropical colonies, or braving
death on the deck of a line-of-battle ship in the Mediterranean, or in
the spouting breach of a fortress in Hindostan. The owners of advowsons
and livings, wielding a capital whose yearly income is $40,000,000, keep
constantly under pay, all over the kingdom, 16 000 clergy, who, with
many noble exceptions, are the ordained and licensed enemies of
political progress and ecclesiastical reform.

I by no means intend to say, that there are not a large number of most
worthy, pious, and faithful ministers, in the English Establishment, and
especially among the poorer clergy. Nor, that its doctrines are not
Biblical, and its service beautifully impressive. But, in its political
tendencies, the institution stands arrayed against progress and reform.

Among the most conspicuous champions of the Established Church, and who
has recently distinguished himself as the persecutor of Rev. Mr. Shore,
is DR. PHILLPOTTS, THE BISHOP OF EXETER. Entering the House of Lords,
the eye of a stranger is instantly arrested by the bench of bishops,
whose white robes and flowing wigs give them such an old-womanish
appearance, that he conjectures they must be "peeresses in their own
right," and by some one of the convenient fictions of the common law are
entitled to seats with the male barons. Sitting gravely among them, with
rigid muscle, compressed lip, and knit brow, is Dr. Phillpotts, who
conceals under his ample lawn an amount of intellectual acumen and power
which are able and ready to grapple with the pamphlet of any schismatic
in the diocese of Exeter, or the speech of any lord in the House of
Peers. A spectator can hardly believe that those pale, icy features,
cover a mental volcano. The tones of his voice give point to words that
pierce to the marrow of the subject under discussion, while his cool,
crafty, and dexterous style of argument shows that a trained master of
debate is on the floor. Delighting equally in exposing the fallacies of
his opponent, and placing him in a false position, his assaults are to
be shunned rather than provoked. One of the most adroit and keen
logicians in the House, he is skillful in making nice distinctions, and
in setting the arguments of his adversary to devouring each other. The
cold suavity with which he flays his victim, and the sweet malignity
with which he sugars over his bitterest denunciations, and the apparent
candor and sincerity which sit serenely on his visage when uttering the
most repulsive opinions, only make him the more provokingly intolerable.
This crafty prelate countenanced the Oxford Tractarians, till their open
advocacy of Popish doctrines and rites alarmed his more timid brethren,
when he veered off in a graceful curve, and has since made haste to
divert suspicion as to his orthodoxy, by persecuting the evangelical
clergymen of his diocese.

Spite the efforts of the bench of bishops, a violent intestine war has
been waged within the walls of the venerable Establishment for many
years. Two parties have sprung up, one of which would make the Church
essentially Roman Catholic, while the other would make it more
thoroughly Protestant and Evangelical. DR. PUSEY may be regarded as the
head of the Catholic, MR. NOEL of the Evangelical party. Both are the
immediate descendants of noble families, both possess superior
attainments, are accomplished preachers, and able controversialists. The
style of each in the pulpit is calm, logical, persuasive, and one cannot
listen to either without imbibing the conviction that he is uttering the
honest impulses of his understanding and heart. Dr. Pusey is one of the
founders of the association at Oxford which issued the celebrated
"Tracts for the Times." Mr. Noel has recently published a volume on "the
Union of Church and State," remarkable for its research, meditative
tone, and Christian spirit. It must exert a powerful influence upon the
ultimate overthrow of this institution. Dr. Pusey's writings have driven
several of his disciples over to Romanism; among the most distinguished
of whom was Mr. Newman; and he himself came very near accompanying his
associate. He still remains in the Establishment. Mr. Noel, having
thrown his able testimonial into the bosom of the Church, has withdrawn
from it, and united with the Baptist denomination.

The nature of the union of the Church with the State, and its influence
upon the religious and political interests of the country, have been
frequent topics of discussion ever since the Commonwealth of Cromwell.
The repeal of the corporation and test acts, the emancipation of the
Catholics, and the disruption of the Church of Scotland, have given
increased intensity to these discussions in our own times. The
persecution of the amiable and heroic Mr. Shore, by the Bishop of
Exeter, the publication of Mr. Noel's work, his rigorous treatment by
the Bishop of London, the acknowledged purity of his motives, and the
dignity and excellence of his character, have kindled into a flame the
agitation for the separation of the Church from the State. At no period
within a century has the anti-state-church party been as strong in
England as now. It counts in its ranks some of the ablest debaters, and
keenest controversialists in the kingdom. Mr. Burnet leads the
Independents, Dr. Cox the Baptists, Mr. Sturge the Quakers, Dr. Wardlaw
the Scotch Congregationalists, Dr. Ritchie the Secession Church of
Scotland, and Dr. Candlish the Free Church of Scotland. Behind them
rally the whole body of the Dissenters, the great majority of the Irish
Catholics, the main strength of the radical reformers, while no
inconsiderable portion of the liberal laity of the Establishment
sympathizes with them. These elements will continue to increase in
volume and power, till they sever a union offensive to God and
oppressive to man.


     The Corn Laws--Their Character and Policy--Origin of the
     Anti-Corn-Law Movement--Adam Smith--Mr. Cobden--"Anti-Corn-Law
     Parliament"--Mr. Villier's Motion in the House of Commons in
     1839--Formation of the League--Power of the Landlords--Lord John
     Russell's Motion in 1841--General Election of that Year--Mr. Cobden
     Returned to Parliament--Peel in Power--His Modification of the Corn
     Laws--Great Activity and Steady Progress of the League during the
     Years 1842, '3, '4, and '5--Session of 1846--Sir Robert Peel and
     the Duke of Wellington--Repeal of the Corn Laws.

A pleasant little story is told of Queen Victoria and the corn laws.
During the second year of her sovereignty, and while yet a maiden, she
was one day skipping the rope as a relaxation from the pressure of
official duties. Lord Melbourne, the Premier, was superintending the
royal amusement. She suddenly stopped, and, turning to him with a
thoughtful look, (the cares of State no doubt clouding her brow,) said,
"My Lord, what are these corn laws, which my people are making so much
noise about?" Said the courtly Premier, in reply, "Please your Majesty,
they are the laws that regulate the consumption of the staff of life in
your Majesty's dominions." "Indeed," rejoined the Queen, "have any of
the staff officers of my Life Guards got the consumption? Poor fellows!"
Her Majesty then resumed the skipping of the rope.

Perhaps some American maidens are as ignorant of what the British corn
laws were as Queen Victoria.

Lord Stanley came within a few hundred years of the truth, when he said
that the principle of landlord protection had existed in England for
eight centuries. In 1774, the corn laws received the impress which they
retained till their repeal in 1846. They were revised in 1791, in 1804,
in 1815, and in 1828. The revisions of 1815 and 1828 produced the system
more generally known as _the_ corn laws. The object of the system was to
afford as complete a monopoly in breadstuffs to the home agriculturists
as possible, and yet allow the introduction of foreign grain whenever a
bad harvest, or other causes, produced a scarcity of food. At every
revision, down to that of 1828, the duties were made more and more
protective. The price to which wheat (for instance) must rise ere it
could come in from abroad, at a nominal duty, was fixed in 1774 at
48_s._ per quarter; in 1791, at 54_s._; in 1804, at 66_s._; and in 1815,
at 80_s._--the quarter being 8 bushels. The liberal policy of Mr.
Huskisson slightly prevailed in 1828, and the maximum price was fixed at

The system was a compromise between protection and starvation, the
umpire being a "_sliding scale_" of duties. By this scale, the duties
fell as the prices rose, and rose as the prices fell. The act of 1828
had 20 or 30 degrees in its scale, three or four of which are given as
illustrations. When the average price of wheat in the kingdom was 52_s._
per quarter, the duty on foreign wheat was 34_s._ 8_d._ When the price
reached 60_s._, the duty fell to 26_s._ 8_d._ When the price rose to
70_s._, the duty sunk to 10_s._ 8_d._ When the price attained 73_s._ and
upward, the duty went down to 1_s._ The price which regulated the duty
was ascertained as follows: The prices of grain (wheat, for instance) on
Saturday of each week, at 150 of the principal markets in the kingdom,
were ascertained by returns to the Exchequer, and these were averaged.
To this average were added the averages of the five preceding weeks, and
then "the general average" of the whole six was struck, and this, on
each Thursday, was proclaimed by the Government as the price for the
regulation of the duty for one week. Wheat, flour, &c., from abroad,
might be stored or "bonded," without paying duties, to await a favorable
turn of the market, then to be entered or reëxported at pleasure.

The act of 1828, after being modified in 1842, was totally repealed in
1846--the totality to take effect in February, 1849. During the seven
years immediately preceding the repeal, matter sufficient to fill a
thousand quarto volumes was printed in Great Britain on the Corn Laws. I
shall not touch this mass, but confine myself to a notice of the
movement typified by the name of Richard Cobden.

The history of Voluntary Associations does not furnish a triumph so
signal as that achieved by the Anti-Corn-Law League. In seven years it
revolutionized the mind of the most intelligent nation of Europe, bent
to its will the proudest legislative assembly in the world, prostrated
an aristocracy more powerful than the oligarchies of antiquity, and
overthrew a system rooted to the earth by the steady growth and
fostering culture of centuries. It may not be uninteresting to trace the
rise and progress of such an Association.

From the days of Adam Smith downward, a school of political economists
have contended that free trade is the high commercial road to national
wealth. This was a favorite doctrine with the brilliant _coterie_, whose
opinions were reflected by the Edinburgh Review, and it mingled in the
discussions upon "national distress," with which Parliament so
frequently resounded from the breaking out of the French revolution to
the passage of the Reform bill. But the landlords proved too strong for
the schoolmen. The beginning of 1837 saw a fearful commercial collapse
in England, which was aggravated by a deficient harvest in the ensuing
summer. The summer of 1838 brought in its train another deficient
harvest, which plunged the country deeper into suffering and gloom. Many
sagacious minds regarded the corn laws as a fruitful source of these
disasters. In September, Dr. Bowring and Colonel Thompson, two
distinguished Benthamites, started the Anti-Corn-Law crusade, by
forming, in a small meeting at Manchester, an Anti-Corn-Law Association.
Shortly after, a large assembly of the merchants and manufacturers of
that town, in which Mr. Cobden bore a leading part, resolved to aid the
Association with £3,000. In December, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce
adopted a petition to Parliament, praying for an immediate and total
repeal of the laws. Thus encouraged, the Association convened a meeting
of delegates from all parts of the kingdom, at Manchester, in January,
1839. This body empowered the Association to assemble a meeting of
deputies in London at the opening of the approaching session of
Parliament. They met in February, and petitioned the House of Commons
for leave to present evidence at its bar in regard to the injurious
effects of the corn laws, and selected Mr. Villiers to bring forward a
motion to that end. It was negatived with contempt, and the delegates
separated. A month elapsed, and they again met at Brown's Hotel, in
Palace Yard--the Protectionists, in derision, giving them the name of
"The Anti-Corn-Law Parliament"--a name which they at once adopted, and
which they ultimately taught the landlords to fear, if not respect.
Their organ, Mr. Villiers, moved that the Commons take into
consideration the act regulating the importation of foreign corn. He
spoke in defense of his motion amidst coughings and hootings, when a
large majority of members, shouting, "Divide! divide!" rushed into the
lobbies, silencing for the moment the demand for cheap bread. They had
yet to learn the character of the men they were dealing with.

On motion of Mr. Cobden, the Palace-Yard Convention now organized "THE
NATIONAL ANTI-CORN-LAW LEAGUE," with a Central Council, to be located at
Manchester. In that hour, the landlords of Great Britain insolently
boasted of their ability to cope with all the other property-holders of
the kingdom combined. There was cause for their boasting. Their
possessions were vast, their union was perfect, their power hitherto
irresistible. During a period of fifty-five years, the number of
land-owners in the realm had fearfully diminished. In 1774, when Mr.
Burke's corn law was enacted, the estimated number was 240,000 in
England proper. In 1839, 40,000[10] persons, acting together, with the
unity and efficiency of a close corporation, owned the agricultural soil
of England. With this monopoly, the League joined issue. Richard Cobden,
in the name of Free Trade, threw his gauntlet in the face of Protection,
and challenged the feudalists to trial by battle before the people of
the three kingdoms. The struggle was one of the severest, the victory
one of the completest, of the present century.

  [10] Our lamented countryman, Mr. Colman, estimated the number at
  30,000. I think the text is quite low enough. And an enterprise is now
  started for the purchase of small freeholds by landless men, which, if
  vigorously prosecuted, will do much to break up the land-monopoly of

The leading principles maintained by the League were, that the corn laws
were not beneficial to the whole body of agriculturists, but only to a
privileged few; that they depressed other branches of industry; caused
frequent and ruinous fluctuations in the market value of breadstuffs,
greatly enhanced the price at all times, and, therefore, were injurious
to the community generally, and especially to the laboring poor. The
promulgation of these principles excited a discussion of the broader
question of the relative merits of Protection and Free Trade in their
widest aspects.

The League entered so vigorously into the contest, that, by the close of
the year 1839, upward of one hundred important towns had formed kindred
associations. In 1840, Manchester, which bore so conspicuous a part in
originating the movement, commenced the series of large Free-Trade
meetings, which made that town so famous in the corn-law struggle. In
January, a public dinner was spread for the friends of the League, under
a huge pavilion, at which 4,000 persons sat down. The next day, 5,000
operatives were feasted. In February, at the opening of the Royal
Parliament, the "Anti-Corn Law Parliament" met in London. Mr. Villiers
renewed the motion of the previous year, and was defeated. In March, the
Palace-Yard Parliament again assembled; Mr. Villiers again brought
forward his motion, and was again defeated. The delegates returned home
to arouse their constituents. The cry for "cheap bread" reverberated
through the summer from Pentland Frith to Eddystone Light--from the
Giant's Causeway to the Cove of Cork. Palace Yard again swarmed with
delegates in November, and the persevering Villiers again moved, spoke,
and was defeated. But the warm agitations of the League were gradually
ripening public opinion. Whigism was tottering to its fall. It cast
about for a crutch. Early in the session of 1841, Lord John Russell,
foreseeing the necessity of a dissolution of Parliament or a dissolution
of the Ministry, resolved on the former; and, wishing for "a cry" with
which to rally the country, gave notice of his motion for the
abandonment of the sliding scale, and for a fixed duty of 8_s._ per
quarter on imported wheat. He made an able speech, closed the doors of
St. Stephen's, and opened the campaign for a new House of Commons.

The Tories swept the kingdom, the Whigs falling between the "totality"
of the Leaguers and the "finality" of the Protectionists. Lord John
faced the New Parliament, his motion was defeated, and Sir Robert Peel,
after an exclusion of eleven years, returned to power. But, though the
landlords gave the Queen a sliding-scale House of Commons, the
operatives of Stockport gave the People "a fixed fact" in the person of
Richard Cobden. And now, said the feudalists, Cobden will find his
level. He may sway a turbulent mob of unwashed Manchester artisans, but
he will not dare to brave the starred and gartered aristocracy of
England. Little did they dream, in this hour of their exultation, that
in four years and a half the Manchester calico-printer would convert the
Premier to his views, who, carrying over half the Tories to the League,
would give victory to its standard, generously saying, as he retired
with grace and dignity from the field, "Not to the Tory party nor to the
Whig party, not to myself nor to the noble Lord at the head of the
Opposition, is this change to be attributed; but the People of this
country are indebted for this great measure of relief to the rare
combination of elements which center in the mind and heart of Richard

To return from this digression. The session of 1842 was opened at a
period of unexampled distress in the manufacturing districts. Sir Robert
Peel proposed a modification of the corn laws, which considerably
reduced the duties. Mr. Villiers met the Government with a motion that
the laws ought immediately to cease and determine. During the debate,
Sir Robert announced that he would not pledge himself to a permanent
maintenance of the sliding scale, and he distinctly abandoned the
principle of protection as mere protection. This foreshadowed the events
of 1846. Cobden's lucid speeches in defense of the motion won him a high
place in the House. Villiers was defeated by a large majority, and the
Government measure adopted.

Near the close of the year, the League proposed to raise £50,000, and
deputed Messrs. Cobden, Bright, Col. Thompson, and others, to traverse
the country and address the people. The great Free-Trade Hall was built
at Manchester, and at its consecration, in January, 1843, it was
announced that £44,000 had been raised. An attack was next made on
London. After filling first the Crown and Anchor, and then Freemasons'
Hall, the League was invited by Mr. Macready to occupy Drury-Lane
Theater. Night after night, that spacious building was more densely
packed, and rung with louder cheers, than in the days when Edmund Kean
burst upon the metropolis, and carried it with a whirlwind of
excitement, Thus far, the meetings of the League had been held in towns
and cities. Mr. Cobden now challenged the Monopolists to meet the Free
Traders on their chosen ground. He attended open meetings of
agriculturists in thirty-two counties, encountered the advocates of
protection, and with the aid of his associates, defeated them on a show
of hands in every case but one.

The year 1844 was opened with a proposal to raise £100,000, and to
distribute ten millions of anti-corn-law tracts. Free Trade Hall gave a
lead to the country, by subscribing £20,000 at a single meeting. In
March, Mr. Cobden attacked the landlords in their farmyards. He moved
the Commons for a committee to inquire into the effects of protective
duties upon tenant farmers and agricultural laborers. His speech on that
occasion, one of the ablest he ever delivered, gave a new aspect to the
controversy, and a fresh impulse to the national intellect. And more
than all, as was afterward acknowledged, that speech sunk into the soul
of Sir Robert Peel, and prepared the _finale_ of the corn laws. During
the session, Sir Robert carried through a bill reducing the duties on
several important articles; but he did not touch corn. The "pressure
from without" was becoming, month by month, more difficult to be
resisted. As fast as vacancies in Parliament occurred, they were filled
by the candidates of the League. Early in 1845, Sir Robert proposed
sweeping financial reforms, repealing the duties on four hundred and
fifty articles, reducing the duty on the important article of sugar, and
otherwise modifying the tariff. The corn laws still remained inviolate,
but the landlords began to be alarmed. The panic was not diminished when
the League placed its choicest orators on the stage of Covent Garden.
For weeks, that theater was crowded from pit to dome, with audiences
more earnest and enthusiastic than the muse of Shakspeare or the wit of
Sheridan could command. Distinguished Parliamentarians, and even Earls
and Barons, were swept into the throng, and mingled their voices in the
chorus for "cheap bread," with Cobden, Bright, Fox, and Thompson. The
ladies crowned the _fete_ by opening a splendid Free-Trade bazaar in
the theater, crowding its doors for three weeks with wealth and beauty,
and adding £15,000 to the treasury of the League. Ere the autumnal
months had passed away, it became evident that Sir Robert Peel's
Government must soon grant repeal or yield the ghost. A new election was
anticipated. "Registration" almost silenced the shout for "Repeal."
Effective measures were taken to place the name of every Free-Trade
voter on the lists. The close of the year 1845 saw the League busy in
raising a fund of £250,000, and marshalling one hundred thousand new
electors for the contest.

The session of 1846 opened. The result is known. Sir Robert Peel and the
Duke of Wellington--the same men who, seventeen years before,
emancipated the Catholics--repealed the corn laws. There could be no
higher evidence of the ability and tact of Sir Robert, than that on both
these memorable occasions he won the support of the most inflexible of
men, without whose aid neither of those measures could have passed the
House of Peers. Such acts pour a flood of redeeming sunshine upon the
characters of both these men.

The corn laws are dead. The principle of protection has received its
death-blow in England. By mingling the question of corn-law repeal with
that of protection generally, the discussions of seven years carried the
mind of Britain forward a quarter of a century in the direction of Free
Trade in all its departments. Nobody hopes for a permanent revival of
the old order of things, except two or three superannuated ladies in the
House of Peers, and half a dozen young Hotspurs in the House of Commons.
If the good effected by this great measure has not realized all the
promises of its advocates, it has falsified most of the evil predicted
by its opponents--being but another proof that public sagacity, warned
by the preliminary agitation, foresees changes in existing systems, and
gradually prepares to meet them, so that their actual advent heralds
neither all the blessings anticipated by their friends, nor all the
disasters prophesied by their enemies.[11]

  [11] It is undoubtedly true that this corn-law contest had its origin in
  the conflicting interests of two classes of monopolists, the
  manufacturers and the landlords. But, the turn which the conflict
  finally took made it a battle between Free Trade and Protection, and the
  victory redounded to the advantage of the former. The monopoly of the
  manufacturers will no doubt be overthrown in its turn. A great maritime
  monopoly has already shared the fate of the landlord monopoly in the
  recent repeal of the Navigation Laws.

A more particular notice of Mr. Cobden, and some other anti-corn-law
advocates, will be given in the next chapter.


     Notice of Corn-Law Repealers--Mr. Cobden--Mr. Bright--Colonel
     Thompson--Mr. Villiers--Dr. Bowring--William J. Fox--Ebenezer
     Elliott--James Montgomery--Mr. Paulton--George Wilson--The Last
     Meeting of the League.

The seasonable organization, steady progress, and signal triumph of The
National Anti-Corn-Law League are attributable in a very large degree to
the sagacity, ability, and courage of RICHARD COBDEN. The early career
of one who so suddenly acquired a European reputation is not so familiar
as to render uninteresting a few incidents of that part of his life.

The leader of the Commercial Revolution of England is the son of a poor
yeoman of Sussex. Commencing active life as a clerk in a London
counting-house, he afterward removed to Manchester, where he became the
traveling agent of a house largely engaged in the cotton trade. His
intelligence, industry, and sound judgment won him the confidence of his
employers, and the respect of all with whom he had intercourse. His rise
was rapid, and we soon find him associated with an elder brother in a
manufacturing enterprise of his own. He was highly successful. He
studied public taste then as shrewdly as he afterward studied public
opinion. An anecdote will illustrate this. In 1837, a gentleman visited
Mr. Cobden's warehouse in Manchester, where he was shown some printed
muslins of a peculiarly beautiful pattern, which Mr. C. was just sending
into the market. A few days afterward, this gentleman was walking in
the vicinity of Goodwood, and met some ladies of the family of the Duke
of Richmond wearing these identical prints; and shortly after, while
strolling through Windsor Park, he saw the young Queen going down the
slopes sporting a new dress of the same pattern. Of course, this set all
the ladies of the kingdom in a rage after "Cobden's prints," which
immediately became as celebrated in the market as did Cobden's speeches
a few years afterward.

But Cobden was never a mere calico-printer. In his manufacturing days,
his capacious mind embraced large views of finance and trade. In 1835,
he published, under the signature of "A Manchester Manufacturer," an
able pamphlet on "England, Ireland, and America," and, soon after,
another on "Russia," in which he advocated a repeal of the corn laws,
free trade, peace, and non-intervention in the politics of other
nations; strongly urging that England's true policy was to abolish the
agricultural monopoly, open her ports to the world, stick to trade and
manufactures, and not meddle with foreign controversies. The information
which these pamphlets displayed was rare and valuable; the reasonings
cogent; the style forcible; and the sentiments eulogistic of "those free
institutions which are favorable to the peace, wealth, education, and
happiness of mankind." As an illustration of his thorough mode of
sifting a question, it may be stated that, before writing his pamphlet
on Russia, he made a tour to the East expressly to gain information on
that subject.

Mr. Cobden had now secured a reputation in Manchester and the
surrounding district, and became a leading man in all public movements,
especially such as related to business and trade. In 1837, he was
invited to contest Stockport for a seat in Parliament. He failed of an
election by fifty-five votes. In 1840, he was requested to stand for
Manchester; but he declined, because he was expected to support, in all
things, the Whig Administration; and, being far in advance of it on the
subject of Free Trade, he was not the man to put on a chain to win a
seat on the Treasury benches of the House of Commons. He was returned
for Stockport at the general election the next year, and his biography
has since become a part of English history. Of his services in the cause
of Free Trade, I have already spoken at some length.

On the second of July, 1846, the act repealing the Corn Laws having
received the royal assent, the League held its final meeting at
Manchester. All the _elite_ of that victorious body had assembled from
three kingdoms. George Wilson, who had presided as chairman of the
council during the entire struggle, called to order. Having given a
rapid sketch of the rise, progress, and triumph of the Association, he
requested Mr. Cobden to address the Assembly. As he rose, the multitude
sprang to its feet as one man, and greeted him with cheer on cheer,
cheer on cheer, cheer on cheer. There stood the brave leader, the modest
man, the victor in a field more glorious than ever Wellington won,
unable to utter a word for several minutes, for the rapturous shouts of
his companions in arms. His speech was characteristic. He bestowed warm
eulogies upon his co-workers in the League, generously complimented Sir
Robert Peel and Lord John Russell for their services in the crisis of
the conflict, and delicately alluding to his own labors, insisted, in
spite of the thundering "noes" which greeted the statement, that far too
large a share of credit had been bestowed on him. He closed by moving
that the operations of the League be suspended, and the Executive
Council requested to wind up its affairs with as little delay as
possible. The next day, a modest letter appeared in the public prints,
addressed by him to the electors of Stockport, heartily thanking them
for the confidence and kindness with which they had honored him, and
announcing that the state of his health induced him to seek a temporary
withdrawal from public life. Then followed the European tour; the
feastings and toastings at Genoa, Paris, and other Continental cities;
the munificent National Testimonial of nearly $100,000; the reëlection
to Parliament; the plans for financial reform; the motion and speech on
that subject during the late session; the defeat; the girding up of the
armor for another struggle.

Those who associate in their fancy great physical endowments with great
political achievements, would be disappointed in the person of Mr.
Cobden. His name is announced. Forward steps a pale, slender man, with
grave features stamped with few of the lineaments usually coupled with
greatness and energy, and with rather a weak voice, and a gesticulation
no wise striking, begins to unfold his subject. But, lucid arrangement;
well selected words; arguments that penetrate to the marrow; facts new
and old, clearly presented and felicitously applied; illustrations that
shed light without bewildering; an occasional apothegmatic expression,
embodying the whole subject in a phrase that enslaves the memory;
earnestness and sincerity which first enlist sympathy and soon beget
conviction--these are the elements of his power as a public speaker. The
League furnished half a score of more brilliant orators than he; it
produced not another such advocate. But, effective as were his forensic
abilities, these did not place him at the head of the Anti-Corn-Law
movement. He was as wise in council as he was resolute in action; and
his well-balanced mind, his sturdy common sense, made him proof against
the importunities of short-sighted coadjutors, and the snares of
long-headed antagonists. A radical without rashness, a leader without
arrogance, he carried straight forward to victory a constantly
increasing host, never committing a blunder, nor sustaining an
unnecessary reverse during a long conflict of peculiar excitement and

Next to Mr. Cobden, in popular estimation, among the League champions,
stood the enthusiastic, eloquent Quaker, JOHN BRIGHT. He entered
Parliament in 1843, and, like Cobden, was from the manufacturing class.
For some years, he had been distinguished among the anti-rate paying
dissenters of Central and Northern England, for his vigorous support of
religious freedom. He had resisted the extortions of some persecuting
dignitaries of the Establishment, and subjected them, on two or three
occasions, to most mortifying defeats. He brought into Parliament a high
reputation as an advocate of the League before popular assemblies, and
an intimate knowledge of the subject of protection and free trade. His
ready, bold, inspiring style of oratory partook more of the fervor of
the platform than the calmness of the forum. But shrewdness and tact
soon enabled him to catch the key-note of the House, where he displayed
skill and courage as first lieutenant of the League, and won as much
popularity from the aristocratic sections as so radical a democrat could
reasonably expect.

Colonel PERRONET THOMPSON, a liberal of the old school, was an efficient
member of the League. The incidents of his life would furnish materials
for a dozen novels. He had served and commanded, both in the navy and
army, in two hemispheres, going through storm and flame in contests with
Frenchmen in the Peninsula, South Americans at Buenos Ayres,
slave-traders on the coast of Africa, Arabs around the Persian Gulf, and
Hindoos among the sources of the Ganges. In the midst of moving
accidents by flood and field, he mastered the French, Spanish, and
Arabic languages, wrote pamphlets on Law and Morals, read the works of
Jeremy Bentham, and negotiated commercial treaties, one of which is
remarkable for being the first public act that declared the slave-trade
piracy. Retiring on half pay in 1824, he turned his attention
exclusively to politics and literature. He gave full scope to his
democratic tendencies, and became a leader among the radicals. For ten
years he wrote many of the ablest papers on current public questions
that appeared in the Westminster Review, of which journal he was for
some time the joint editor and proprietor with Dr. Bowring. His style is
remarkable for its originality and vigor, combining the pith of Lacon,
the raciness of Franklin, and the liberality of Jefferson. His speeches
are distinguished for the same sententious and suggestive qualities that
mark his writings. I am tempted to quote, though I spoil it by
mutilation, his definition of a radical. "What," asks the Colonel, "_is_
a radical? One that has got the root of the matter in him. One that
knows his ills, and goes to work the right way to remove them. Every man
is a radical that shuts his mouth to keep out flies. Does any man go to
a doctor, and ask for a cure that is not radical? All men have been
radicals who ever did any good since the world began. Adam was a radical
when he cleared the first place from rubbish, for Eve to spin in. Noah
was a radical, when, hearing the world was to be drowned, he went about
such a common-sense proceeding as making himself a ship to swim in. An
antediluvian Whig would have laid half a dozen sticks together for an
ark, and called it a virtual representation." Colonel T. had high
claims--a preëmption title--to the position he occupied in the corn
law-struggle; for, twelve years before that controversy begun, he wrote
"The Catechism of the Corn Laws," which contained the substance of all
that was subsequently elaborated by Cobden and his coadjutors.

MR. VILLIERS was the Free-Trade leader in Parliament till Cobden
appeared; and, indeed, on account of his early services, he was called
by courtesy the leader until the victory was won. His annual motion for
repeal was a thermometer to measure the rise of public opinion; and his
annual speech, laden with facts and arguments, converted thousands
beyond the walls, if it failed to win majorities within. The
multifarious learning and diligent pen of DR. BOWRING were often in
requisition. A disciple of Bentham, an early advocate of Free Trade,
acquainted with the commercial systems of foreign countries beyond most
men, with a mind ripened by study and enlarged by extensive travel, he
rendered important aid throughout the controversy. WILLIAM J. FOX, a
Unitarian minister in London, a refined gentleman, a classic scholar, an
original thinker, an enlightened philanthropist, added eclat to the
Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden meetings. He now represents Finsbury in

In this summary, I must not omit the iron poet of Sheffield. Like the
Ayrshire plowman, he sprung from the working class. Like him, his songs
are the lays of labor. But, unlike him, his muse did not draw her
inspiration from the breath of the open fields, perfumed with daisies
and adorned with hawthorn, but from the hot atmosphere of furnaces,
ringing with the clang of anvils and the hoarse grating of machinery.
Burns was the bard of yeomen. ELLIOTT is the bard of artisans. Both have
touched the deepest chords of human feeling, and waked echoes that shall
vibrate till human hearts cease to pulsate. Wandering a few years ago in
the suburbs of Sheffield, my eye fell upon a building, blackened with
the blackest smoke of that most somber town, whose front showed a sign
running, I think, thus: "_Elliott & Co.'s Iron and Steel Warehouse._" I
inquired of a young man, dressed in a frock, besmeared with iron and
coal, for the head of the establishment. "My father," said he, "is just
gone. You will find him at his house yonder." I repaired thither. The
"Corn-Law Rhymer" stood on the threshold in his stocking feet, holding a
pair of coarse shoes in his hand. His frank "walk in" assured me I was
welcome. I had just left the residence of MONTGOMERY. The transition
could hardly be greater than from James Montgomery to Ebenezer Elliott.
The former was polished in his manners, exquisitely neat in his personal
appearance, and his bland conversation never rose above a calm level
except once, when he spoke with an indignation that years had not abated
of his repeated imprisonment in York Castle, for the publication, first
in verse and then in prose, of liberal and humane sentiments, which
offended the Government. And now I was confronted with a burly
iron-monger, rapid in speech, glowing with enthusiasm, putting and
answering a dozen questions at a breath, eulogizing American
republicanism and denouncing British aristocracy, throwing sarcasms at
the Duke of Wellington, and anointing General Jackson with the oil of
flattery, pouring out a flood of racy talk about Church Establishments,
Biddle and the Bank, poetry, politics, the price of iron and the price
of corn, while ever and anon he thrust his damp feet into the embers,
and hung his wet shoes on the grate to dry. A much shorter interview
than I enjoyed would be sufficient to prove, even if their works were
forgotten, that of the two Sheffield poets, Elliott's grasp of intellect
was much the stronger, his genius far the more buoyant and elastic. Yet
has the milder bard done and suffered much for civil and religious
liberty. But the stronger! Not corn-law repealers only, but all Britons
who moisten their scanty bread with the sweat of the brow, are largely
indebted to his inspiring lays for the mighty bound which the laboring
mind of England has taken in our day. Some of his poems are among the
rarest and purest gems that shine on the sacred mount. Others are as
rugged, aye, and as strong, as the iron bars in his own warehouse. They
break out in denunciations of privileged tyrants and titled
extortioners, with sounds like the echoes of a Hebrew prophet. The
genius that animates and the humanity that warms every line, carry them
where more fastidious and frigid productions would never find their way.
Elliott has been called harsh and vindictive. He may be pardoned for
hating institutions which reduce every fourth man to beggary, while a
great heart beats in his bosom. Against meanness and oppression, his
muse has rung out battle-songs, charged with indignation, defiance,
sarcasm, and contempt; but into the ears of the lowly and wan sons of
toil, it has breathed the sweetest murmurs of sympathy, consolation, and
hope. The key which unlocks his harmony he has furnished in these angry

  "For thee, my country, thee, do I perform,
    Sternly, the duty of a man born free,
  Heedless, though ass, and wolf, and venom'd worm,
    Shake ears and fangs, with brandished bray, at me."

It is impossible to even name a tithe of the men of might and genius
whose public services gave energy to this conflict, and splendor to this
victory. Behind these stood a host whose less conspicuous, but not less
efficient labors, gave aim to that conflict and certainty to that
victory. Only two will be mentioned--MR. PAULTON, the able editor of
"_The League_" newspaper, who was one of the earliest actors in the
enterprise, and weekly sent forth from his closet arguments which, when
reïterated by eloquent tongues on the rostrum, made the land echo the
cry of "Cheap Bread;" and MR. GEORGE WILSON, who officiated as Chairman
of the League from its creation to its extinction. Some estimate may be
formed of the extent of his services by a fact stated by Mr. Cobden in
his speech at the dissolution. It appeared from the official records of
the League, that, during the seven years of its existence, Mr. Wilson
had attended its meetings one thousand three hundred and sixty-one
times, and had never received one penny for his labor. Such devotion
bankrupts all eulogy.


     National Debt of Great Britain--Lavish Expenditures of the
     Government--Its Enormous Taxes--Will the Debt be Repudiated?--Will
     it Occasion a Revolution?--Plan of Mr. Ricardo to pay the Debt--Mr.
     Hume's Efforts at Retrenchment.

Great Britain is the richest and poorest nation of modern times. Her
sea-sweeping commerce, her varied and vast manufactures, her fertile
agriculture, the millions which flow into her coffers from her colonial
possessions, are sufficient, were she free from debt, and her Government
economically administered, to make her every son and daughter
prosperous. But her huge national debt, and her immense annual
expenditures, crush her laboring masses between the upper and nether
millstones of remorseless taxation and hopeless poverty. Her debt sits
upon the body politic like the nightmare of Erebus, almost stopping the
circulation of the vital fluids. Like other high-born bankrupts, she is
proud, as well as poor. She maintains the most lavish and expensive
Government in the world. Though the interest of her public debt eats out
the substance of her people, and the army, the navy, and the church,
cling like leeches to her monetary arteries, she annually throws away
immense sums in the shape of pensions and sinecures to worn-out heroes
and civilians, to generals, admirals, ex-chancellors, judges, and
diplomatists, to decayed nobles and knights, and every kind of titled
nondescript noodle and nonentity.[12] She lavishes munificent gifts on
dilapidated hospitals, schools, and charitable institutions, whose sole
recipients of the bounty are the dryer branches of noble families, with
long titles and short purses, whose control over the empty
establishments is a sheer sinecure. She heaps bounties on numerous
squads of imbeciles, whose blood is of that pale, watery kind supposed
to indicate royalty, spending, in a recent year, more than £100,000 upon
the nurseries, stables, and kennels of her Majesty's babies, horses, and
puppies.[13] She pays large annual tribute to her universities, that
the sons of her nobility and gentry may riot on good living and bad
Latin. She quarters at death's door a myriad army of starving paupers,
that her landlords may maintain monopolies in the soil, the grain, and
the game of the kingdom. Fond of fight and feathers, she hires the sons
of her poor at thirteen shillings a month, to sail and march round the
world, and bully and kill all who oppose their progress, while she keeps
their fathers at home to work out the expenses at a shilling a day. She
lays open the whole kingdom as foraging grounds for a ravenous Church
Establishment, whose wardens tithe not only mint, anise, and cummin, but
all "weightier matters;" and whose "wolves," clad in broadcloth, hunt
foxes at £5,000 per year, and hire curates to look after the sheep, at
£50. In a word, the pockets and patience of the larger share of British
subjects are so heavily taxed by these imposts and impositions, that
loyalty itself cries out in tones of vexation and agony, "Though kings
can do no wrong, they have a very expensive way of doing right."

  [12] A writer in a recent number of the _London Times_, says: "There are
  various classes of pensions, but they all agree in this,--namely, that
  they are for the most part undeserved, and that the recipients do
  nothing for their money. There are pensions given under the pretense of
  supporting the peerage, in consideration of parties' circumstances, and
  to compensate for abolished sinecures. Others there are that may be
  called 'mysterious pensions,' that no man knoweth the origin of. Of the
  first sort, Lord Bexley's pension of 3,000_l._ is an example. This man
  was found unfit for the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer some years
  ago, and therefore was hoisted into the house of incurables. Lord Allen
  receives a good fat pension in consideration of his pecuniary condition.
  The Honorable Jane Carr receives 1000_l._, nobody knows for what. But
  the pensions for abolished sinecures are the most flagrant. Thus Lord
  Ellenborough receives 7700_l._ a year as compensation for the abolished
  nominal office of chief clerk in the Queen's Bench!--nearly as much as
  the Lord Chief Justice's salary!! There are even worse than this,
  however. J. C. Beresford receives between 4000_l._ and 5000_l._ as
  compensation for the abolished sinecure of storekeeper of the Customs,
  Dublin! The Reverend J. Burrard receives as compensation for the
  abolished sinecure of searcher of the Customs, Dublin, 1100_l._ a year!"

  [13] The writer in the _Times_ gives this "royal" list:--

                                                                  Per ann.
    The Queen eats and drinks                                      £63,000
    Ditto pocket money                                              60,000
    Prince Albert                                                   38,000
    Queen Dowager                                                  100,000
    Natural children of William IV., about                           3,000
    King of Hanover                                                 21,000
    Leopold, King of the Belgians                                   50,000
    Prince of Mecklenburgh Strelitz                                  2,000
    His wife, the Duke of Cambridge's daughter, Augusta Caroline     3,000
    The Royal Dukes and Duchesses, about      100,000

  The following are a few miscellaneous items:

    The repairs to the Pimlico Palace, _estimated_ at              150,000
    The Royal Yacht                                                 20,000
    Windsor Castle has cost within the present century           3,000,000
    The repairs to St. James' Palace were about                     30,000
    Buckingham Palace, before the present repairs                   34,000
    The Kitchen Garden at Frogmore                                  23,000
    George IVth's natural children have cost the country           100,000

At the accession of William and Mary, in 1689, the national debt of
Great Britain was £664,000. At the close of the French war, in 1763,
£138,000,000. At the close of the American war, in 1783, £250,000,000.
At the commencement of the Continental wars, in 1793, £240,000,000. At
their close, in 1815, £840,000,000. Thus, it cost England £600,000,000
to put down Napoleon and restore the Bourbons. Some £40,000,000 having
been paid off during the last thirty years, it now stands at
£800,000,000. The population of the United Kingdom is 26 or 27,000,000.
Consequently, the average debt of each man, woman, and child, is upwards
of £30, or $150. The adult male population, with such females as are
independent property-holders, does not probably exceed 7,000,000. To
discharge the debt, it would be necessary that these persons should pay,
on an average, nearly $600. This debt may be repudiated; but can it
ever be paid?

Looking only to the records, the debt is owing to some 300,000 persons.
It would seem, then, that 27,000,000 of people are enormously taxed to
pay the interest on this vast debt to this small number of creditors.
The British Government is always laying anchors to windward. Forty years
ago, when this debt was rapidly accumulating, it saw that if a
revolution should occur, and the issue be made up between the tax-payers
and the tax-receivers, the former could easily trample down a class with
whom they had no sympathy, and repudiate the debt. Accordingly, it has
been the policy of the Government during these forty years to induce the
middling and poorer classes to invest money in the public funds, through
the medium of savings banks, charitable institutions, and friendly
societies. Not long since, there was found to be standing in the names
of the commissioners of those associations some £25,000,000 of the
public debt, belonging to about 800,000 individual depositors and 16,000
associations--the latter representing probably 1,000,000 of people. Thus
the debt is actually owing to 2,000,000 of people, three-fourths of whom
are of the middling and lower orders of society--the very class that
would be likely, if any, to foment a revolution of the Government. So
long as this state of things exists, it is safe to presume that the
public debt of Great Britain will never be repudiated, even by

The taxes upon the people of that kingdom equal those of any other
nation on earth. The annual average of direct tax paid to the Government
by each man, woman, and child, exceeds £3. It is paid by less than
one-fifth of the population, making about $100, on an average, for each
tax-payer, rich and poor. Nearly the whole, ultimately, comes directly
and indirectly from the poorer classes, not in money solely, but in hard
work, high rents, mean fare, and low wages. These taxes are levied on
land, meats, drinks, glass, malt, soap, spirits, windows, servants,
horses, carriages, dogs, newspapers, stamps, &c., to the last syllable
of the record of human wants and uses.

Sydney Smith, in the Edinburgh Review, gives a graphic sketch of this
all-pervading system of taxation. He says it involves "taxes upon every
article which enters into the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed
under the foot. Taxes upon everything which is pleasant to see, hear,
feel, smell or taste. Taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion. Taxes on
everything on earth, and the waters under the earth; on everything which
comes from abroad or is grown at home. Taxes on the raw material; taxes
on every fresh value that is added to it by the industry of man. Taxes
on the sauce which pampers a man's appetite, and the drug that restores
him to health; on the ermine which decorates the judge, and the rope
which hangs the criminal; on the poor man's salt, and the rich man's
spice; on the brass nails of the coffin, and the ribbons of the bride.
At bed or board, couchant or levant, we must pay. The schoolboy whips
his taxed top; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse with a taxed
bridle on a taxed road. The dying Englishman pours his medicine which
has paid 7 per cent., into a spoon which has paid 15 per cent.; flings
himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid 22 per cent.; makes his
will on an eight pound stamp, and expires in the arms of an apothecary
who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting
him to death. His whole property is, then, immediately taxed from 2 to
10 per cent. Besides the probate, large fees are demanded for burying
him in the chancel; his virtues are handed down to posterity on taxed
marble, and he is then gathered to his fathers, to be taxed no more."

The annual Government expenditures of Great Britain are nearly
$400,000,000. The heaviest appropriation goes to pay the interest on the
public debt, which requires $150,000,000. The army and navy absorb
$75,000,000. There are 2,000 pensioners, who receive annually
$5,000,000 or $8,000,000. The Queen and royal family get some $5,500,000
to supply the royal tables and stables, the royal babies and lap-dogs.
Full $2,000,000 go to sinecures, such as the lord groom of the stole,
the lord keeper of her Majesty's buck-hounds, the lady sweeper of the
Mall, the lords wine-tasters, store-keepers, and packers, not omitting
the chief justices in Eyre, who have done nothing for a century, and the
Duke of Wellington, who seems likely to live forever. To these
governmental expenditures must be added the income of the Established
Church, whose Archbishop of Canterbury, pocketing, until recently, his
$100,000 per year, mourns over the modern degeneracy which gives her
clergy only 42,000,000 dollars annually.[14]

  [14] I have often been obliged, in this chapter, to get my statistics by
  striking _the average_ of a mass of contradictory authorities.

With these facts before us, we may form some estimate of the condition
and prospects of the poor of a country where labor is abundant at twenty
cents per day. Out on the inhuman policy which would prevent these
hungry millions from emigrating to our broad American acres, which
stretch westward almost to sundown, and on that remorseless policy which
would exclude them from these acres, by blasting the soil with the
sirocco of chattel slavery!

Should the number of public creditors in England become limited to two
or three hundred thousand, its enormous debt, its immense annual
expenditures, and its consequent excessive taxation, might become the
occasion of a revolution of its Government. Three of the most important
political revolutions of modern times are, that of England in 1644, that
of America in 1775, and that of France in 1789. Each happened when an
attempt was made to levy taxes upon the people, to relieve the burdens
upon the national treasury. That subject is so mixed up with the first
demonstrations of revolt, that, from being the mere _occasion_ of the
outbreak, it has been often, if not generally, regarded as its _cause_.
But, to assign the resistance to the levying of poundage and ship-money
by Charles I, without authority of Parliament--to assign the refusal to
pay a tax on tea and paper by the American Colonies, because imposed by
a legislature in which they were not represented--to assign the
extraordinary assembling of the States General, by Louis XVI, to supply
a treasury exhausted by the foreign wars and domestic profligacies of
previous monarchs--to assign these as the causes of the mighty
convulsions which immediately followed, is assigning as _causes_ those
_events_ which proved that the revolutions had already begun. It is
referring the terrible explosion solely to the spark which ignited the
train which a century had been accumulating--is mistaking the cataracts
over which the popular currents fell, for the remote fountains from
which they rose. The people were discontented with their
Governments--they refused to contribute to their support--coercion drove
them to revolt. A people ripe for revolution are apt at making up an
issue with their oppressors, and seizing an occasion to smite off their
chains, and are quite as likely to avail themselves of an odious tax,
which reaches all classes, as of greater outrages, which press only upon
single individuals or a limited portion of the community. If England is
convulsed with a revolution, it is quite as probable to be occasioned by
excessive taxation as any other event.

Anxious to avert dangers, as well as to relieve burdens, the great
problem which British financiers have set themselves to solve, since the
peace of 1815, has been to devise some means of paying off the public
debt and reducing taxation. The boldest proposition to this end was
brought forward by Mr. Ricardo, a gentleman of the liberal school of
politics, an Edinburgh reviewer, celebrated for his controversy with Mr.
Malthus, the writer on the laws of population and national wealth. For
the ten years subsequent to the peace of 1815, the financial
embarrassments of England more than once drove her to the borders of
national bankruptcy. Mr. Ricardo, then being a member of the Commons,
proposed, as the best mode of extricating the kingdom from those
embarrassments, to tax its capital and property to the amount of, say
£800,000,000, and pay the public debt off at once! He defended this
scheme on the two-fold ground of justice and economy, contending that
what a debtor owes ought always to be deducted from his property, and
regarded as belonging to his creditors, and therefore should be given to
them--that all estimates of the wealth of the debtor, till such
deduction and payment are made, are false and delusive--that the then
present generation had contracted nearly the whole of the debt, and
therefore ought not to entail its payment upon posterity--and that, by
immediately discharging the debt, the expense of managing it, and
raising the revenue to pay the interest upon it, would be a large saving
to the nation. These propositions he maintained with that vigor of
reasoning, fullness of detail, and clearness of illustration, for which
he was remarkable, and which won him a high place among the
politico-economical philosophers of his time. But his scheme fell of its
own weight, having few supporters except himself. It was in advance of
an age which never thought of paying, but only of borrowing. Though its
author did not convince the Commons of its practicability or expediency,
he pretty thoroughly alarmed the capitalists and property-holders of the

After many years of labor on the part of Mr. Vansittart, Mr. Robinson,
Mr. Peel, Mr. Huskisson, and others, to _cipher_ the public debt into
non-existence, the hope of ever seeing it paid off seems to have given
place to despair, to be followed by apathy. No sane Englishman now looks
to see it discharged till huge monopolies which oppress the industry of
the country are abolished, the system of Government entirely remodeled,
and its expenses cut down to the lowest point of republican simplicity
and economy. To talk of paying a debt of $4,000,000,000, whose annual
interest is $150,000,000, whilst $117,000,000 is annually wasted on
three blotches of the body politic, the Army, the Navy, and the Church,
and 40,000 men own all the land of the kingdom, and every sixth man is a
pauper or a beggar, is simply an absurdity.[15]

  [15] The author of the "Comic Blackstone," first published in "Punch,"
  says:--"The only method of getting rid of the debt would be for the
  sovereign to file a petition at the Insolvent Court in the name of the
  nation, and solemnly take the benefit of the act, in the presence of the
  fund-holders." About eighteen months since, Professor Newman, of the
  London University, published an able pamphlet, proposing that the
  interest on the debt should be paid for sixty years longer, after which
  it should cease. There is a growing disposition in England to get rid of
  the debt by some other mode than payment.

Taking this view of the subject, the radical reformers of England have
struck at the root of the evil--a remodeling of the institutions of the
State; and, in the departments of finance and taxation, have confined
their efforts chiefly to the work of retrenching the Government
expenditures. Foremost among these, and especially in the latter field,
has stood the robust JOSEPH HUME. According to the forms of the British
Constitution, the annual appropriations for the supply of the bottomless
gulf of expenditure must take their rise in the House of Commons. And
there, before they commence their line of march to that bourne whence no
shilling returns, they have to encounter the severe scrutiny and
determined opposition of clear-headed, honest-hearted, open-mouthed
Joseph Hume. He contests all money-bills item by item, fastening upon
them like a mastiff upon a gorged bullock.

I was listening, a few years ago, to a debate in the House of Commons on
the civil list. Lord Stanley (then a member) had just closed an
impetuous speech, when a broad-shouldered, rather rough-looking man,
rose, and deliberately taking off his hat, which seemed to be filled
with papers, commenced marshaling lazy sentences, under the command of
bad rhetoric, to the music of a harsh voice. A pile of parliamentary
documents lay on the seat by his side, and he held a bit of paper in
his hand, covered with figures. My friend informed me it was Mr. Hume.
He realized the portrait my mind's eye had drawn of the man who, by dint
of tireless ciphering, had convinced the masses of England that they
were the mere working animals of the privileged orders. His brief, plain
speech was aimed at some measure supported by Stanley, by which the
people were to be cheated out of a few thousand pounds, to pamper some
titled feeder at the public crib. Stanley was racy and flowery. Hume's
speech resembled his lordship's as little as Euclid's problems do
Milton's Paradise Lost. He explained the figures on his paper, and drove
the digits into Stanley by a few well-directed blows at "treasury
leeches," and sat down. Mr. Hume is a walking bundle of political
statistics. No other man will so patiently pursue a falsehood or a false
estimate or account, through a wide waste of Parliamentary documents,
till he drives it into the sunlight of open exposure, as he. But as to
eloquence, he knows no more about it than a table of logarithms. He
rarely makes a speech that does not contain a good deal of bad rhetoric,
and an equal amount of arithmetical calculations. Entering Parliament
thirty years ago, he immediately placed himself at the door of the
national treasury, which he has ever since watched with the dogged
vigilance of a Cerberus. He has been the evil genius of Chancellors of
the Exchequer, worrying them more than the national debt or the public
creditors; whilst sinecurists, pensioners, and fat bishops, have
received an annual Parliamentary roasting at his hands. Delving among
the corruptions of Church and State, he has laid bare the slimy
creatures that fatten on the roots of those institutions, and suck out
their healthful nourishment. Bringing every proposed expenditure of
money to the test of utility and the multiplication table, he has opened
his budget of statistics, night after night, and measured off columns of
damning figures by the yard and the hour, contesting the sum totals and
the details of the appropriation bills, backed sometimes by the whole
force of the liberal party, often sustained by only a few radical
followers, and not infrequently left wholly alone. Of course, he is
occasionally felt to be a bore. But nothing deters him from pursuing the
line he has marked out. Sarcasm is lost upon him. Wit he despises.
Threats have no terrors for him. Abuse only rebounds in the face of his
assailant. The House may try to scrape or cough him down--Lord John
Russell's reproaches may salute his ears--Sibthorpe's clumsy abuse may
fall on his head--Stanley's fiery shafts may quiver in his flesh--Peel
may shower contempt upon him--but there stands clear-headed,
honest-hearted, unawed Joseph Hume, entrenched behind a pile of
Parliamentary papers, gathering up the fragments of his last night's
speech, and displaying fresh columns of figures, for a renewed attack on
some civil or ecclesiastical abuse, which has been hidden from
everybody's sight but his, by the accumulated dust of a century. Under
any other Government than one scandalously extravagant, and whose people
are taxed to the last point of human endurance, such obstinacy as he has
sometimes displayed, in obstructing the passage of financial measures,
would be wholly inexcusable. But every expedient which the wit or
pertinacity of man can devise, to defeat or diminish such plundering of
the masses as he witnesses every session of Parliament, is not only
tolerable, but a sacred duty. The objects of his guardian vigilance
gratefully appreciate his services, knowing that no other man has done
so much to expose monetary abuses, and pull gorged leeches from the
national treasury, and turn them out to get their living from their
native earth.

Let it not be supposed that Mr. Hume has devoted himself exclusively to
exchequer budgets and appropriation bills. He has taken a leading share
in all liberal measures, advocating Catholic emancipation, Parliamentary
reform, West India abolition, and has long been an able champion of Free
Trade. Nor do I mean it to be inferred from the "free and easy" style in
which I have spoken of him, that he is not highly respectable, both as
to talents and character. He is one of the best "working-members" of
Parliament, and by constant practice and perseverance he has obtained a
position amongst its able debaters. He was chosen Chairman of the Reform
League, which was organized by Cobden and others, in the present House
of Commons, to obtain equal representation and an enlarged suffrage, and
he is the nominal if not the real leader of the present movement for
Parliamentary reform.[16]

  [16] Intimately associated with the subject of this chapter, is the
  recent unsuccessful, but by no means abandoned movement of Mr. Cobden,
  to reduce the government expenditures £10,000,000 per annum. His speech
  on that occasion was worthy of the anti-corn-law leader. Those who know
  him will need no assurance, that he will not give over till he has
  carried a far more radical measure of retrenchment. He bides his time.


     Defects of the Reform Bill--Origin of Chartism--The "People's
     Charter" Promulgated in 1838--The Riots of 1839 and 1842--The
     Vengeance of the Government falls on O'Connor, Lovett, Collins,
     Vincent, J. B. O'Brien, and Cooper--The Nonconformist Newspaper
     Established by Mr. Miall--Mr. Sturge--Organization of the Complete
     Suffrage Union--Character of the Chartists.

The old-fashioned Tories declare that the Reform Bill inscribed
"Ichabod" on the British Constitution. Though it ushered in a better
era, an experience of seventeen years has proved that power has not yet
departed from the privileged few.

A few examples of its defects are given. For instance, Glasgow, with a
population of 270,000, Manchester of 200,000, Birmingham of 160,000,
Leeds of 130,000, were allowed two members of Parliament each; while
Cricklade, with a population of 1,600, Shoreham of 1,500, Retford of
2,400, Wenlock of 2,400, were also allowed two members each. Finsbury,
Lambeth, Mary-le-bone, and Tower Hamlets, with an aggregate population
of 1,100,000, had two members each, whose eight votes were balanced by
the members from Huntingdon, Marlborough, Dorchester, and Truro, with an
aggregate population of 12,500. The entire metropolis, with more than
2,000,000 of inhabitants, received sixteen members, whose power in the
House was nullified by the sixteen members of eight boroughs, with a
total population of less than 24,000. Fifteen of the principal cities
and towns in the kingdom, containing 3,500,000 people and 160,000
electors, were allowed thirty-two representatives, while the same number
was assigned to twenty-seven boroughs, containing 170,000 inhabitants
and 6,900 electors.

The inequalities in the distribution of the suffrage are not less
striking. The number of males in the United Kingdom, of the age of
twenty-one years and upward, is about 7,000,000. The number of
registered electors is a little over 1,000,000. Thus, but about
one-seventh of the adult males is entitled to vote. The suffrage is most
unequally distributed amongst this one-seventh. The House of Commons
consists of 658 members, which gives an average of full 1,500 electors
to each member. But, 15 members are returned by less than 200 electors
each--50 by less than 300 each--100 by less than 500 each--and so on,
till careful calculations make it apparent that a clear majority of the
House is returned by 200,000 electors, or one-fifth of the entire body,
which body consists of only one-seventh of the adult male population.

In the distribution of members, reference was had to the supremacy of
the landlord interest. Thus, South Lancashire, which swarms with a
manufacturing population of more than 1,000,000, and has 25,000
electors, was balanced by aristocratic Lymington, with 3,300
inhabitants, and 150 electors, whom any lord can buy. West Yorkshire,
the seat of the woolen interest, with 1,200,000 people and 40,000
electors, was given the same weight in the House as any two of numerous
boroughs, with a joint population of 6,000, whose 400 or 500 electors
were the cowering vassals of some great landed proprietor. In Lancashire
and Yorkshire, whose skies are blackened with the smoke of their
manufactories, there is one member for every 55,000 inhabitants, while
rural Rutland has one for every 9,000, and corn-growing Dorset one for
every 13,000. Manchester and Salford, the center of the cotton interest,
with 300,000 people, send three members, and agricultural
Buckinghamshire, with less than half that amount of population, sends

  [17] Entire precision has not been aimed at in the foregoing statistics,
  "round numbers" being sufficiently accurate for my purpose.

The usual complexion of the House is alike caused by and aggravates the
evils that spring from unequal representation and partially distributed
suffrage. In the House previous to the present, there were 205 members
closely related to the peers of the realm; 153 officers of the army and
navy; 63 placemen; and 247 patrons of church livings. Of the 658
members, there were only about 200 who had not either title, office,
place, pension, or patronage. And the same is substantially true of the
present House.

These details, which might be multiplied indefinitely, will enable a
very ordinary arithmetician to answer the question, which the CHARTISTS
have rung in the public ear of England: "Does the Reformed House of
Commons represent the people of Great Britain, and Ireland?"

The meager fruits brought forth by the Parliament elected under the
reform bill, convinced a large mass of the enlightened working men, that
Labor must look for relief to a radical change in the constitution of
the popular branch of the legislature. They agreed upon a fundamental
law for Parliamentary reform, to which they gave the name of "The
People's Charter." Hence their name, "Chartists." The Charter, having
been adopted by large numbers of Workingmen's Associations throughout
the country, was ratified and promulgated in August, 1838, by 200,000
persons of the laboring classes, assembled from all parts of the
kingdom, at Birmingham.

The outline of the Charter was mainly the work of Mr. William Lovett, a
London cabinet-maker, one of God's nobility. It was perfected by Messrs.
D. O'Connell, Hume, Bowring, Roebuck, Wakely, P. Thompson, and Crawford,
then members of the Commons, who prepared the draft of an act of
Parliament embodying its provisions. The leading points in the Charter
are six, viz: Universal Suffrage, Voting by Ballot, Annual Parliaments,
Equal Electoral Districts, No Property Qualification of Representatives,
and Payment of Members for their Services. It is remarkable that these
identical reforms were proposed forty years before, in an elaborate
report by a committee of the "Friends of the People," of which the
illustrious Charles James Fox was chairman.

And this is the essence of Chartism. Its principles, which fall like
household words on the American ear, filled the heart of British
aristocracy with dismay and wrath. Nor were the terror and indignation
abated when their promulgation was followed by laying the "Great
Petition," in favor of the People's Charter, bearing one million two
hundred thousand names, on the tables of the House of Commons.

The Chartists were chiefly laboring men, dwelling in cities and towns.
They justly expected countenance and aid from liberal Whigs who had
protested against the aristocratic features of the Reform bill. They
received neither. The cause of national representation was regarded as
only the poor man's question, and as such it was left exclusively to the
poor. The poor, thus abandoned to fight the battle single-handed and
alone, nourished a fatal resentment against all above them. Far-sighted
and pure-minded men among them urged the superiority of intellectual and
moral means over brute force, in promoting their objects. Keen-eyed
demagogues were not wanting to fan their resentment, and remind them
that in their swart arms dwelt the physical strength of the country.
Deprived of political power, (for the great majority were non-voters,)
the mass lent a greedy ear to these wily counselors. Chartism being a
knife-and-fork question to the laboring poor, starving men were easily
induced to seize the pike and the torch under a promise of bread.
Preparations for a rising were made. It was attempted in 1839. A few
riots occurred, a few houses were gutted, a few wheat-ricks fired, a few
cart-mares shot, and some human blood shed. The vengeance of the
Government descended upon the deluded men--the military crushed the
embryo insurrection--the courts imprisoned and transported the
leaders--the noble principles of the Charter were involved in the stigma
which fastened upon a portion of its advocates--the middle classes, who
might have averted the disaster, were, for a season, frightened into a
renunciation of the principles they had maintained during the
discussions on the Reform Bill. A similar outbreak, stimulated by
similar causes, and followed by similar consequences, occurred in 1842.

Governmental vengeance fell alike on the men of peace and the men of
violence. Feargus O'Connor, a hot-headed bully and coward, who had
stigmatized the pacific doctrines as "moral-force humbuggery," was sent
to York Castle. William Lovett and John Collins, two noble specimens of
the working classes, spent a year in Warwick jail. The young and
brilliant Henry Vincent was lodged in a dungeon two years, for making
the Welsh mountaineers "discontented with the Government." J. Bronterre
O'Brien, a legitimate son of the land of Emmett, suffered twelve months
in Lancaster Castle. Thomas Cooper, who dropped the awl, took up the
pen, and wrote the celebrated poem, "The Purgatory of Suicides," was
imprisoned two years and a quarter in Stafford jail. Other less
conspicuous persons were incarcerated at home, or banished beyond the

The election of 1841 returned a large Tory majority to Parliament,
dissolved old party connections, and drove the radical reformers of the
middle and working classes once more together in opposition to the
common foe. _The Nonconformist_, a weekly newspaper, just then
established in London, and conducted with marked ability by Mr. Edward
Miall, took up the subject of a reform in Parliament, in a series of
articles which powerfully argued the right of the working men to the
franchise, and the necessity of an equalization of the representation.
These essays were subsequently printed in a pamphlet and widely
circulated. Their calm and cogent reasonings, their hearty and fervid
appeals, arrested general attention. Mr. Miall gave to his scheme the
name of "Complete Suffrage." It only remained for a practical man like
Joseph Sturge to give to what was so far but a happy theory, the form
and vitality of an organized movement.

After some preliminary meetings, Mr. Sturge, who had recently returned
to England from an investigation of the electoral system of the United
States, assembled a National Convention, or Conference, at Birmingham,
in April, 1842, composed of delegates favorable to the main points of
the "People's Charter," but opposed on principle and policy to all
resort to intimidation or force in the accomplishment of their objects.
Many of the best and brightest minds of the kingdom were present. During
its four days' session, the debates were animated; the feeling earnest
and warm; but the excitement glowed rather than flamed. The Chartists
were represented by Lovett, O'Connor, Collins, Vincent, and O'Brien,
while Sturge, Miall, Rev. Thomas Spencer, and Rev. Dr. Ritchie,
represented the Complete Suffragists. After full discussion, the six
points of the Charter were adopted, and an association, called "The
National Complete Suffrage Union," was formed.

The cause was now on a good foundation, and under wise control. The same
month of the Conference, Mr. Sharman Crawford, a judicious friend of the
non-voting millions, divided the House of Commons on a motion in favor
of complete suffrage. Among the sixty-nine members who voted with him
were Messrs. Bowring, Cobden, Duncombe, Gibson, Napier, O'Connell,
Roebuck, Strickland, Villiers, Wakely, and Ward, all of whom held
prominent positions in the House.

It would transcend my limits to detail the progress of the Complete
Suffrage movement since its organization in 1842. During these seven
years of Corn-Law and Irish agitation, so unfavorable for fixing the
public mind upon the question of an organic reform in Parliament, the
Complete Suffragists have discussed their great proposition before the
people, have returned several able advocates to the House, deepened the
conviction that a thorough reörganization of the Legislature is a _sine
qua non_ to future radical reforms, and aroused a determination to place
that subject on the Parliamentary "cards" so soon as matters that now
occupy them are disposed of.

In the mean time, the Chartists proper have increased their numbers, as
their Monster Petition of many millions, presented to Parliament during
the last year, proves; and with the increase of numbers has come an
abatement of their belligerent spirit, as their law-abiding conduct on
that occasion shows; thus inspiring the hope of all good men, that when
the great battle between the laboring many and the governing few shall
be fought, Chartists and Suffragists will unite in a common struggle to
make the Commons House of Parliament the representative of the common
people of the realm.[18]

  [18] One or two recent divisions in the House of Commons are no
  criterion for determining the strength of the Free Suffragists and
  Chartists. That subject is not now on the "cards."

It would be doing injustice to some of the clearest-headed men in
England to suppose that they for one moment regard the most radical
reform in Parliament as the final remedy for the enormous evils that
make one-eighth of the people of the realm absolute paupers, and
one-fourth of the entire population paupers in all but the name. They
look to the establishment of such a reform only as affording to the
depressed classes an essential means for remodeling, on a basis of
equality, the whole Governmental structure. They seek it, not as an end,
but as an instrument to attain an end--a John the Baptist to herald the
times and the men that shall make the crooked straight, the rough
smooth, the inequalities level.

Scarcely any body of men have been regarded with more unintelligent
horror, or subjected to more unreasonable denunciation, by the higher
classes of England, than the Chartists. And yet, no section of British
reformers are more worthy of admiration for the principles they avow, or
of sympathy for the persecutions they have endured. It has been my good
fortune to make the acquaintance of several of these men, to attend some
of their meetings, and read many of their publications. I have never
taken by the hand nobler members of the human family, nor listened to
speeches that glowed with more eloquent devotion to the rights of man,
nor perused papers more thoroughly imbued with the democratic sentiment,
and which inculcated lofty principles in a style of more calm and lucid
reasoning. Their publications dwell with emphasis upon the blessings of
peace, the superiority of moral over physical means in the attainment of
ends, the importance of education, of industry and economy, of
self-reliance without arrogance, and of an independent and manly bearing
in their intercourse with the world. Bad men are among them, who have
often imposed upon their ignorance or inflamed their passions, goading
them to violence and crime. But the mass are as far removed from the
state of barbarism and brutality, which their traducers have assigned to
them, as _they_ are from the utterance of truth or the practice of

It stirs the blood not a little to see such men as Lovett, Collins,
Vincent, O'Brien, and Cooper, suffer through long years, in dark and
filthy cells, for teaching the people to be "discontented" with a
Government that first denies them any voice in its administration, and
then taxes them down to the starvation point, that it may pamper a
bloated priesthood and an overbearing aristocracy at home, and build
navies and equip armies to scour the seas and scourge unoffending tribes
in the uttermost parts of the earth. However, those who know John Bull
best say the only way to manage him is to mingle a little threatening
with a good deal of blarney, when the conceited old bully, after a
fearful amount of bluster, will yield a point--as witness Catholic
Emancipation, Parliamentary Reform, and Corn-Law Repeal. Perhaps these
pacific counselors are right; though a James Otis, or a Patrick Henry,
with the cry of "No taxation without representation!" on their lips,
would recommend that the towers of Windsor, and the minarets of Lambeth,
be pitched instantly into the Thames.

A more particular notice of some of the persons who have acted prominent
parts in the transactions above detailed, will be given in the next


     Chartists and Complete Suffragists--Feargus O'Connor--William
     Lovett--John Collins--Henry Vincent--Thomas Cooper--Edward
     Miall--Reverend Thomas Spencer.

In this chapter, I will give brief notices of some of the more prominent
Chartists and Free-Suffragists.

FEARGUS O'CONNOR has been styled "The Great Chartist Leader." In
advocating the cause, he has suffered for his imprudences, if not for
his principles. He is made up in about equal degrees of the braggart and
the coward, the demagogue and the democrat--a legitimate product of the
rotten institutions and turbulent times in which he was born and has
flourished. With many good qualities and many bad ones, he had not the
moral bravery to lead a reformation, nor the physical courage to head a
revolution. Aspiring to do both, and wanting capacity for either, he
failed in each. Respect for an impulsive man who has proclaimed good
principles in bad times, and sympathy for a weak man who has felt the
thorn of persecution from worse hands than his own, induce me to forbear
further remark on the foibles and follies of one who is shorn of his
influence to do much future good or evil. Better for Chartism if he had
lived and died a Tory; though, with all his sins, he will be kindly
remembered when Toryism rots in contempt.

WILLIAM LOVETT'S manly virtues and vigorous sense adorn a noble
enterprise. Born in extremest poverty, he has struggled upward against
the crushing weight of factious systems, to an influential position in
society. While a young man, he was drafted into the militia--refused to
be degraded into a machine to kill men at the word of command--was
arraigned before a magistrate for the offense--terrified the justice by
the boldness and ability of his defense--and was discharged from the
service after seeing his little property confiscated and his family
reduced almost to beggary. This petty tyranny fixed him in the purpose
of preparing himself to aid in remodeling institutions that taxed him to
the marrow, without allowing him any voice in the selection of his
rulers. He worked at his trade of cabinet-making by day, and cultivated
his mind by night. Throwing himself into all movements for the
improvement of the laboring classes, he first attracted general notice
by his connection with the London Working Men's Association, established
in 1836. The many able addresses which this central body issued to the
working men of the kingdom, and to the laboring classes in Belgium,
Poland, and Canada, were prepared by him. These led the way for the
Chartist movement. In 1838, he assisted Messrs. O'Connell, Roebuck, and
other members of Parliament, in preparing "The People's Charter;" his
part of the work consisting in drafting, theirs in revising, this noble
and painfully celebrated document.

One of the main originators of the Chartist enterprise, he now gave to
it his whole energies; and well would it have been had his pacific
disposition controlled its direction. The National Convention of
Chartists was in session in Birmingham in 1839. The people of that town,
as was their wont, were holding a meeting in "The Bull-ring," to discuss
questions of reform. The police, part of whom had been specially sent
from London, were ordered to break up the meeting. They rushed upon the
assemblage, and, with their bludgeons, knocked down men, women, and
children, and dispersed the meeting. Mr. Lovett, who was secretary to
the Convention, drew up and presented to that body a manly protest
against these outrages. It was printed and circulated through the town.
For writing that paper, he and John Collins (who had carried the
manuscript to the printer) were arrested for sedition, thrust into a
dungeon, indicted, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year's
imprisonment in Warwick jail. On the trial, Lovett defended himself with
skill, and his address to the jury commanded general admiration. While
in prison, Lovett and Collins published a pamphlet of 130 pages,
entitled "Chartism: A Plan for the Education and Improvement of the
People." It is able and eloquent, filled with the noblest sentiments,
and contains suggestions for the instruction and elevation of the
masses, which would, if acted upon by the government, place England a
century in advance of her present position. Near the close of their
confinement, they wrote another paper, which I transcribe entire. The
Melbourne Administration, "which meant but little, nor meant that little
well," became ashamed of its treatment of Lovett and Collins, and
offered to release them on their entering into bonds to keep the peace.
Here is their reply. Read it, and see how contemptible a nobleman looks
in the hands of a cabinet-maker and a tool-maker:

                                         "WARWICK JAIL, May 6, 1840.

     "_To the Right Honorable the Marquis of Normanby, Her Majesty's
     Secretary of State for the Home Department:_

     "MY LORD: The visiting magistrate of the county jail of Warwick
     having read to us a communication, dated Whitehall, May 5, and
     signed S. M. Phillips, in which it is stated that your Lordship
     will recommend us to Her Majesty for a remission of the remaining
     part of our sentence, provided we are willing to enter into our
     recognizance in £50 each for our good behavior for one year, we beg
     respectfully to submit the following as our answer. To enter into
     any bond for our future good conduct would be an admission of past
     guilt; and however a prejudicial jury may have determined that the
     resolutions we caused to be published, condemnatory of the attack
     of the police, were a violation of the law of libel, we cannot
     bring ourselves to believe that any criminality attaches to our
     past conduct. We have, however, suffered the penalty of nearly ten
     months' imprisonment for having, in common with a large portion of
     the public press, and a large majority of our countrymen,
     expressed that condemnatory opinion. We have been about the first
     political victims who have been classed and punished as
     misdemeanants and felons, because we happen to be of the working
     class. Our healths have been injured, and our constitutions
     seriously undermined by the treatment we have already experienced;
     but we are disposed to suffer whatever future punishment may be
     inflicted upon us, rather than enter into any such terms as those
     proposed by your Lordship.

     "We remain your Lordship's most obedient servants,

                                                "WILLIAM LOVETT,
                                                "JOHN COLLINS."

Having been confined to a narrow, filthy cell, and fed on the meanest
fare, Mr. Lovett's health was so seriously impaired, that he did not
recover his wonted vigor till nearly two years after his release from

Mr. Lovett was a member of the Birmingham Complete Suffrage Conference
in 1842, and his well-balanced mind and lucid speeches gave him a
leading position in that body. For a few years past, he has been engaged
in publishing works adapted to the wants of the laboring classes, and
his pen has been active in their cause. He was the publisher of
"Howitt's Journal," and contributed some of the best papers that
appeared on its pages. In person he is tall and gentlemanly, has an
intellectual countenance, and, take him all in all, is a rare specimen
of the rich ore that lies embedded under the crust of British

JOHN COLLINS, like William Lovett, came up from the ground tier of
British society, and has brought along with him more of the marks of his
"order" than Mr. L. He has rode out a good deal of rough weather in
defense of Chartist principles. On his release from Warwick jail, he was
received with the warmest enthusiasm by congregated thousands of his
Birmingham neighbors. He afterward made a tour of Scotland, addressing
audiences in the principal towns. I listened to one of his speeches. My
mind having been filled with prejudices against him, I was prepared to
see a monster. But there stood before me a stout, bold man, uttering
the loftiest truths in a practical and pointed style, and with a tone
and bearing conciliatory but firm--a man earnest in vindicating the
depressed classes, who had shown courage in peril, endured persecution
without repining, and now received applause without vanity--a nobleman
by nature, a tool-maker by trade, but who never tried to make a tool of
others, and was the last person who would submit to be made one himself.

The name of the young and eloquent HENRY VINCENT thrills the hearts of
millions of Britain's laboring poor. While an apprentice in a London
printing-office, he aided by extra work during the day in supporting a
destitute mother and her children, while midnight generally found him
absorbed in some book adapted to expand his mind. His intellect outran
his years, and he became a radical reformer when yet a boy. At the age
of 14, he made a speech to his juvenile companions on the then
engrossing subject of Catholic Emancipation. The French Revolution next
possessed his enthusiastic soul. He stood dumb with emotion when he
first saw the handbill at the door of the newspaper office, headed
"Revolution in France!" He rushed home, got his sixpence, bought the
paper, and run through the streets announcing the event to all whom he
met. Soon followed the Reform Bill excitement, which absorbed his
energies. Although but 16 or 17 years old, he was chosen a member of a
Political Union, and participated in its proceedings. Arriving at his
majority in 1836, he resolved to consecrate his powers to the elevation
of the laboring and disfranchised classes of the people. He joined with
Mr. Lovett in the Chartist movements of 1837-8, traveled the country as
a lecturer, and was immediately ranked among the most vigorous and
brilliant advocates of The Charter. Such was his success among the hardy
mountaineers of Wales, that the Government became alarmed, marked him
for its victim, and, on his coming to London to visit his widowed
mother, dragged him from her dwelling at dead of night, on a charge of
sedition, thrust him into a dungeon, tried him, convicted him, and sent
him a year to Monmouth jail. The crime proved upon him was, using
violent language and making the people discontented with the Government!
Just before the close of his term of imprisonment, he was again
arraigned on a similar charge, and doomed to another twelve months'
incarceration. While in prison, he was treated with such barbarity that
fears were entertained of a rescue by the Welsh, with whom he was highly
popular, and he was removed to London. His journey thither was a
triumphant procession, crowds gathering and cheering him at several of
the principal towns on the route. While confined in a solitary cell in
the London penitentiary, Mr. Sergeant Talfourd brought his case before
Parliament, eulogized his character and talents, and arraigned the
Government for the harsh treatment inflicted upon him. This woke up Lord
Normanby, the Home Secretary, who visited Vincent, heard some very plain
talk, had him removed to Oakham jail, and furnished with decent
lodgings, and pen, ink, and paper. After suffering twenty-two months,
(the Government having remitted two,) this pure-hearted young
philanthropist was released, and the same day partook of a complimentary
dinner, when he made a speech in defense of his principles and conduct,
worthy of the theme and the man.

Soon afterward, at the general election in 1841, Mr. Vincent was invited
to contest the borough of Banbury for a seat in Parliament, the whole
body of non-electors, and a large minority of the electors, being in his
favor. On the morning of the election, (the result being very doubtful
between the Whigs and Tories,) a committee of the former offered him a
large sum of money to withdraw from the contest. He had scarcely spurned
the proposal, when a Tory deputation offered him £1,000 to abandon the
field. He refused the bribe with scorn. He was defeated, but he retired
with honor, leaving hundreds of converts to his principles behind him.
He subsequently, on special request stood for Ipswich and Tavistock,
having failed of carrying the latter borough by only 44 votes, against
the combined power of the House of Bedford. At the general election of
1847, he polled a very large vote in Plymouth. His chief object in
yielding to the solicitation of his friends to mingle in these contests
was, to improve the opportunity they afforded him for bringing thorough
democratic principles before the people.

Mr. Vincent united with the Free Suffragists in 1842, and during the
past seven years he has traversed England and Scotland, addressing
multitudes in favor of Peace, Temperance, Education, Free Trade, and
Parliamentary Reform, winning a high place among the advocates of
radical reform. His speeches are a continuous flow of rapid, fervid
eloquence, that illuminates the reason, kindles the imagination, and
fires the heart. In person, he is below the middle size, symmetrically
formed, with very handsome features, graceful and elastic in his action
as a deer, and his voice thrills the blood like a war-trumpet.[19]

  [19] The trials of Lovett, Collins, Vincent, and others, are reported
  briefly in the 9th volume of Carrington & Payne's reports. The legal
  points raised on the trials chiefly make up the reports.

THOMAS COOPER is another original genius, who has forced his way into
sunlight through the thick shell of British caste. Eating the bitter
bread of poverty during childhood, he contrived, by means that throw
fiction into the shade, to gratify a native taste for reading, drawing,
and music. Laboring on a shoemaker's bench from the age of fifteen to
twenty-three, he snatched from toil the opportunity to acquire a
respectable knowledge of the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and French languages,
and of Algebra and Geometry--to commit to memory considerable portions
of Shakspeare and Milton--to peruse the works of Hooker, Cudworth,
Stillingfleet, Warburton, and Paley--and to compose some poetry and
essays of his own. This he did by robbing sleep of its wonted hours, and
while his miserable wages afforded a pittance barely sufficient to keep
him and his mother from starving.

At the age of twenty-three, he dropped his awl and hammer, and emerged
into the world. For ten years he buffeted a sea of troubles, dividing
his time between teaching country schools and writing for newspapers;
now accumulating a choice library of 500 volumes, and then parting with
it, volume by volume, for bread. In 1841, while engaged as a reporter
for the _Leicestershire Mercury_, he was directed to report a Chartist
lecture. It was the first he had heard, and its principles found an echo
in his bosom. He commenced a lecturing tour in support of the Charter,
visiting, among other places, the Staffordshire potteries. While in that
region, in 1842, occurred those serious disturbances which for weeks
tossed the Midland counties on a wild tempest of riots. At first, the
object was to raise the wages of the operatives by a general "strike."
Demagogues fanned the flame, till it broke loose in arson, pillage, and
other violent acts, resulting in a few instances in loss of life. Cooper
was arrested, and finally arraigned on four indictments for riot,
sedition, and arson. He was tried, and, though acquitted on the more
serious charge, was convicted of the minor offenses, against every
principle of law or reason. He was sentenced to two years and three
months' imprisonment. One of the trials lasted ten days. Cooper defended
himself with great ability, proving no unworthy antagonist for Sir
William Follett. The barbarous treatment he received in prison gave him
rheumatism, neuralgia, and other diseases; but it gave to the world "The
Purgatory of Suicides." This poem appeared soon after his liberation, in
1845, having been composed in Stafford jail. It was highly eulogized in
the Eclectic, Britannia, and other literary periodicals, and met with
immediate success. In the preface, the author proudly says:

     "I am poor, and have been plunged into debt by the persecution of
     my enemies; but I have a consolation to know, that my course was
     dictated by heart-felt zeal to relieve the sufferings and
     oppressions of my fellow-men. Sir William Follett was entombed with
     pomp, and a host of titled great ones, of every shade of party,
     attended the laying of his clay in the grave. They propose now to
     erect a monument to his memory. Let them build it; the
     self-educated shoemaker has also reared his, and, despite its
     imperfections, he has a calm confidence that, though the product of
     poverty, and suffering, and misery, it will outlast the posthumous
     stone block that may be erected to perpetuate the memory of the
     titled lawyer."

Mr. Cooper subsequently published other works, assisted in editing
Douglas Jerrold's Magazine, contributed to Howitt's Journal, and
delivered courses of lectures before various literary and scientific
institutions in London; but, under all circumstances, giving his heart
and his hand to all efforts to elevate the class of society in which he
is proud to have had his origin.

The bare names of those who have borne a prominent part in the Chartist
movement would fill pages. I must leave them, and have time to notice
two men only who may be classed as Complete Suffragists proper, they
never having acted with the Chartists.

Mr. EDWARD MIALL has been for several years the editor of _The
Nonconformist_. He formerly officiated as a dissenting minister.
Competent judges have pronounced this newspaper one of the ablest of the
English journals; its conductor one of the ablest of English editors.
Undoubtedly it stands in the front rank of _religious_ newspapers. It
has a clear comprehension of the mission of a religious journal in the
current crisis of English affairs, and fulfills it with courage,
integrity, and ability. It is the organ of no sect, but reflects the
views of radical reformers of all denominations. It is the organ of no
party, but utters the sentiments of the friends of progress. While it
gives much attention to ecclesiastical affairs, it discusses all
political matters that occupy the public mind, probing subjects to the
core, laying bare corruption, and excoriating evil-doers in Church and
State, without fear or favor, ranting or cant. The leading
characteristic of its editorials is their searching and philosophical
style of argument; while the hue of the rhetoric, the texture of the
composition, are lustrous and compact, equaling in beauty and grandeur
the essays of the first class of periodicals. It occasionally indulges
in the most pungent sarcasm and lively wit, all the more biting and
inspiring for being exceptions to the general rule. Every line breathes
a deep earnestness for truth, and a warm sympathy with humanity. The
writings of Mr. Miall are models of English composition.

At the last general election, Mr. Miall contested Halifax as the radical
candidate; and his speeches during the canvass were only surpassed in
strength and acuteness by the emanations of his own pen. In the outward
semblances of the orator--the mere frame and gilding--he falls below the
expectations of those familiar with his writings. An attenuated frame, a
thin voice, a stiff demeanor, a monotonous gesticulation, seem too
slight a frame-work to sustain the operations of so mighty a mental
machine as his. Glorious dawn of England's better day, when the seats of
her Parliament are thickly sprinkled with such men as Miall, Cobden,
Sturge, Thompson, and Vincent.

Having stopped a moment to look at the plain garb of a Nonconformist
minister, we will glance at a hardly less radical reformer, arrayed in
the canonicals of the Church of England, "as by law established"--Rev.
THOMAS SPENCER. As this gentleman has traveled and spoken extensively in
our country, it will not surprise Americans to be told that, though a
clergyman of the Establishment, he is also a thorough teetotaler, the
enemy of commercial monopolies, a complete suffragist, and almost a
democrat. Possessing superior talents, a rich flow of eloquence, a
commanding and graceful person, Mr. Spencer has been eminently
successful in instructing and delighting large audiences of his
countrymen, and commending to their judgments and tastes themes that
would have been repulsive in the hands of men of less aristocratic
associations. He took a prominent part in the Birmingham Conference of
1842, which organized the National Complete Suffrage Union, and was
elected a member of the General Council of that association. He has
mingled much with the poor of England, feels deeply for their wrongs,
and boldly advocates their rights. How beautiful and cheering is the
light reflected upon the wide-weltering chaos of surrounding darkness,
by such clergymen as Thomas Spencer and Baptist Noel. They, as well as
many kindred spirits of the Establishment, and the great mass of
dissenting ministers, do not esteem it incompatible with their dignity,
nor unbecoming their sacred calling, to take an active part in all
questions, whether political or ecclesiastical, which vitally affect the
interests of their fellow-subjects. I have never heard that their labors
for the people in the forum diminished their influence over the people
in the pulpit. Nay, it rather increases that influence by convincing the
people that, in becoming ministers, they did not lose their interest in
anything which concerns the well-being of their fellow men.


     Ireland, her Condition and Prospects--The Causes of her Misery--The
     Remedies for the Evils which afflict her.

The "Irish Question" is environed with peculiar difficulties. An
American might shrink from discussing what has puzzled and baffled
Irishmen on both sides of the Atlantic.

The poetic, fancy view of Ireland is a mountain nymph, with flowing
garments, wavy ringlets, glowing countenance, enrapt eye, and Venus-like
fingers, thrilling the strings of a harp. The prosaic, real view is more
like a mother, seated on the mud floor of a bog cabin, clad in rags,
with disheveled hair, pinched features, eyes too hot and dry for tears,
and skinny fingers, dividing a rotten potato amongst a brood of
famishing children. Thanks to some of her orators, they have ceased to
rave in fine frenzy about "the first flower of the earth, and the first
gem of the sea." All friends of Ireland, native and alien, should stop
ranting about "flowers," "gems," "Emerald Isles," "Tara's Halls," "St.
Patrick," and such rhapsodies, and come down to the things of time and
sense. Potatoes, as a standing dish, may grow stale; but to a starving
people they are "roast beef and two dollars a day," compared with a
surfeit of antiquated heroics. And yet, take up the report of a meeting
for the relief of Ireland, whether held in Dublin or Washington, and
half of it will be filled with such shining scum. Orators and writers
addicted to such whims should be indicted for murdering the Queen's

The prime cause of Ireland's misery is the oppressive rule of England.
For centuries she has been governed by and for the alien few, and not by
and for the native many. England first wantonly subdued Ireland; then
planted there an alien race and a rival church, to hate, worry, and
plunder her; then, by the Catholic Penal Code, steeped her in ignorance
and debasement; and finally, by bribery, and against the national will,
abolished her Parliament, destroyed her nationality, and reduced her to
the condition of a dependent province. Since the days of Cromwell, the
ruling English have absorbed the wealth of the country, and carried it
away to be expended in other lands. They have annually eaten out the
substance of the people, and fled, leaving misery and poverty behind,
and casting reproach upon the national character, and offering insult to
the national spirit.

Since the Union, the legislation of the British Parliament, in respect
to Ireland, has been an almost unbroken series of insults and injuries.
I will mention two instances; and they are the very two that England
always cites as proofs of her liberality. In 1828-9, the people of
Ireland demanded Catholic Emancipation. The boon was granted; but it was
accompanied by the disfranchisement of the whole body of forty-shilling
freeholders; thus, in revenge, striking from the electoral body two
hundred thousand names, which had aided in wringing the gift from the
oppressor. Emancipation, granted on such ungracious terms, exasperated
rather than appeased the Irish people. And in that other day, when
England felt peculiarly liberal, and was ready to "give everything to
everybody," she made Ireland an exception. The Reform bill made an
odious distinction in the case of Ireland. England and Wales, with a
population of about fourteen millions, were allowed 500 members of the
House of Commons. Ireland, with a population of about eight millions,
was allowed but 105. Bearing the same ratio as England, Ireland should
have had 290. Scotland has two millions four hundred thousand
inhabitants, and 53 members. In the same proportion, Ireland would have
been entitled to 177. Thus, of the two most benign instances of English
legislation over Ireland, during this century, one was accompanied by a
positive outrage; the other by a most unjust disparagement.

The Established Church of England, planted by force in Ireland, has done
little for it, except to unjustly tax and cruelly treat those who
dissent from its ritual, and to foment and aggravate religious feuds. Of
the eight millions of Ireland, six and a half are Catholics. Of the
remaining one and a half million, not half a million belong to the
Establishment. And yet, to take care of this half million, the
Establishment has had 4 archbishops, 18 bishops, and 2,000
clergy--drawing annually from this potato-eating people £1,500,000;
while the income of the clergy of the seven and a half millions of all
denominations has not exceeded £500,000. The whole income of the Irish
Establishment, from all sources of revenue, is nearly £2,000,000
annually. An attempt was once made to modify this enormous abuse. After
four years of contention in Parliament, during which two ministries were
turned out, the bill was shorn of its effective features, in order to
pacify the Tory peers, and passed, still leaving the revenues to the
Church of England, and the people to the Church of Rome.

But the English Church is only a blotch. The great sore is the Irish
landlord system. The misgovernment of the country has conspired with
landlordism to drive out capital, and destroy commerce, trade, mining,
fishing, and manufacturing, thus throwing the mass of the population
upon the land for subsistence. This has increased competition for the
hire of the soil to an extent unknown in any other country, and has
stimulated a grinding scale of rents, which has descended from the
landlords to the middlemen, and from them to the small farmers, and from
them to the poor laborers, growing more extortionate as it goes down,
till the soil has been cut into minute pieces, which are held by short
and uncertain tenures, precluding permanent improvements, driving the
mass of the people to the raising of potatoes, because they are cheap in
the cultivation, and prolific in the crop, and yearly turning thousands
out to beg, starve, rob, die of disease, or shoot their lessors at the
expiration of their terms. One-third of the people of Ireland live (if
they live at all) on potatoes, and the addition of a sprinkling of salt
is a rare luxury. Two and a half millions are beggars, and Mr. O'Connell
estimated the paupers in 1846-7 (the years of famine) at four millions.
The main reliance of nearly half the nation, for food, is potatoes. God
have mercy on them when that source fails!

With many noble exceptions, the large landed proprietors of Ireland are
heartless, reckless, thriftless men. Nearly one-third of the country is
a bog, three-fourths of which might be drained. Nearly five millions of
acres, capable of cultivation, lie waste. An acre of potato land rents
for from £5 to £10 per annum. Labor is abundant at the lowest rates. Yet
these landlords have done little toward draining these bogs, enclosing
these wastes, and improving their estates. Grant that for the four or
five past years of pinching famine, attended with loss of rents, they
have been unable to make improvements. It was just so before these years
came, and has been so time out of mind. These landlords are generally
_absentee_ proprietors, who feel no abiding interest in the prosperity
of a soil which they forage but do not inhabit, which they own but do
not occupy. Half of the very money voted to them in 1846-7, by
Parliament, for the improvement of Ireland, they spent the next season
at Paris, Florence, and Baden-Baden, there to swell the pomp of British
aristocracy, while millions at home, whom it was intended to assist, ate
garbage that an English pig would hardly nose over, or starved in hovels
that the royal stag-hounds would not skulk into from a pelting storm.

The energies of the masses in Ireland being absorbed in a hand-to-mouth
struggle for existence, they have neither time nor means to stimulate
the industry of the country by establishing manufactories, opening
mines, carrying on fisheries, increasing trade, laying out roads, &c.,
nor to elevate and expand the national mind by founding common schools
and seminaries of learning. The wealthy landlords and capitalists--the
Besboroughs, the Lansdownes, the Devons, the Fitzwilliams, the
Hertfords--who might do all this, will not; but, looking on from afar,
cry to their stewards and agents, "Give! Give! Give!"

The result of this complicated system of bad government and bad
management is painfully obvious. Ireland is nigh unto death of a chronic
disease of famine, pestilence, agitation, despair, and insurrection.

And what is England's remedial process for this disease in one of her
members? As a panacea for the miseries that she herself has to a great
extent inflicted, England, at stated periods, administers to her
victim-patient coercion bills and cold steel, blotching her surface with
police stations and military camps. Sending her tax-gatherers instead of
schoolmasters, dotting her soil with cathedrals instead of workshops,
sowing her fields with gunpowder instead of grain, England affects to
wonder that the crop should be famine and faction, misery and murder,
improvidence and insurrection; and when the harvest is dead ripe, she
sends over police and soldiery, armed with coercion bills and cannon
balls, to cut and gather it in.

Sometimes England varies the prescription, or makes different
applications to various parts of the body politic. Sir Robert Peel, for
instance, prescribes bullets for Repealers, and guineas to a cloister of
priests at Maynooth, to stop the mouths of the latter and the wind of
the former, and the clamor of both. Then comes Lord John Russell with
the Whig nostrum--money to carry the landlords to Baden, and a steamer
to transport Mitchell to Bermuda--projects of railways to furnish hard
work for laborers and fat jobs for contractors--a patch or two on a
worn-out and inefficient poor-law, and packed juries for O'Brien and
Meagher. So these Tory and Whig quacks administer--inflicting wounds
and doling out palliatives--never probing the ulcer, but striving to
skim over its surface--while there stands John Bull, robbing the naked
and half-dead patient, at the same time affecting to do penance, by
paying the doctors, and giving alms to the victim.

What, then, is the remedy for these evils? Having been very imperfect in
detailing their causes, I must be equally imperfect in pointing out
remedies. Looking on from afar, it seems to me that some of the things
that Ireland needs are these:

And first, as to a few temporary measures. Ireland needs a just and
beneficent poor law. The present law is a mockery and a shame. The
principle of the law should be, that every man who wishes for work shall
have it, or be fed by the poor rates. Government owes bread or work to
all its subjects. The rates should be mainly laid on the land, where
_it_ is able to pay them, even if it be by sale under the hammer. This
done, those landlords who apply to Parliament for money on which to live
in improvidence, and in many instances in extravagance, would feel the
pressure, awake to a consciousness of their condition, and, knowing that
if they did not provide the laboring poor with work, they must furnish
them with food, would either abandon their estates, or commence draining
and planting the bogs and wastes. In either case, the laborer, for whose
use God said, "Let the dry land appear!" would be restored to his

The mass cannot wait for the meager relief of poor laws. Tens of
thousands must emigrate by their own means or Government aid. The
country is too densely populated for the present state of things.
America should open wide her gates, to welcome the sons and brothers of
those who have fought our battles, dug our canals, and built our
railways, and, pointing to the unoccupied plains that stretch from the
great lakes to Astoria, from the Rocky Mountains to San Francisco, say,
"Go in and possess the land."

Associations should be formed, of true-hearted Irishmen, to reclaim the
wastes, develop the resources, and revive the industry of the
country--thus giving scope to capital and employment to labor.

The middle and lower classes should be more provident and careful, less
wasteful and indolent, using thriftily the little they have, and adding
to the stock by economy and enterprise. After traveling through half the
island, I never was able to understand why a middling-man should waste
his substance in riotous living, or a poor man should live in a hovel
dirtier than a pig-sty, when pure water was abundant; or year after year
let the rain drive through his thatched roof, when straw was rotting
around him, merely because England would not grant a repeal of the

The ignorant should, of course, be educated. But general education, it
is to be feared, is a long way off. In the mean time, the better
informed should instruct the people in their social duties, as well as
their political rights, while such as are not utterly debased should
exhibit more personal independence in opinion and action, do less of
their thinking by proxy, show less subserviency to priests of all sorts,
and less tolerance of demagogues of every shade of party.

But these things are only provisional remedies--mere clippings of the
branches. The axe should be hurled at the root of the evil.

The Established Church should be driven out, and, if need be, by a whip
of small cords, such as was applied to those money-changers in the
Temple, who had set up their _desks_ where they had no business to be.
This done, complete ecclesiastical independence, both of England and of
Rome, both of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope of St. Peter's,
should be declared, bringing with it less servility among the clergy,
less abjectness among the people, less gathering in of parochial tithes,
and a more liberal diffusion of Christian charity. In a word, less
"religion," and more Christianity.

The landlord system should be broken up; all taints of feudalism
abolished; primogeniture and entail destroyed; and traffic in the soil
be made as free as in the potatoes it yields. "Ireland for the Irish,"
was the watchword of Daniel O'Connell; and when translated "The Land of
Ireland for the People of Ireland," it is just and equitable.
"Absenteeism" should be no longer tolerated. To strip foreign landlords
of soil that they will neither cultivate nor sell, is justifiable on
every principle of property and Christianity. Every farm in America is
held by a title based on the doctrine that land is given to man to be
occupied and cultivated, not wandered over and made a waste. We
displaced the aboriginal hunters on this principle, and inclosed farms
and built cities. The means used to effect this were often nefarious;
the object sought was righteous. The landlords of Ireland, in regard to
one-third of the soil, neither cultivate nor occupy it; and such is the
dire necessity of the case, that the Government would be justified in
taking the land from every such owner, and giving it to the people, so
that it might bring forth its natural increase of bread to the sower.
Every man owning land in Ireland, who prefers to live in England, and
habitually lets the soil lie waste, or, being cultivated, draws the
substance from it to be expended abroad in extravagance, should be
compelled to restore it to the people of Ireland, to be used, not for
purposes of luxury, but to save the dwellers thereon from starvation.
This is not confiscation, but restoration. Famine-stricken Ireland, and
not full-fed English aristocracy, is the owner of the soil of Ireland.
The great mass of these alien proprietors hold their lands by titles
derived from wholesale confiscation. Cromwell and other English rulers
took them by force from the native, and gave them to the foreigner.
Force, if need be, should compel their restoration. Property in the soil
has its duties to discharge, as well as its rights to enjoy; and if it
willfully refuse to discharge the former, then it should not be allowed
to enjoy the latter. The people of Ireland have a God-given right to
live upon and by the soil on which His Providence has planted their
feet. Coercion bills _may_ be necessary for Ireland. If they be, they
should be impartially enforced on both landlords and tenants, compelling
each to discharge their respective duties. If the owners of Irish
estates are incapable of learning that property has its obligations as
well as its immunities, they should be made to give place to more
tractable scholars.

And finally: more than all this, and including it all, IRELAND SHOULD
GOVERN IRELAND. This is the tender point in this much vexed and most
vexatious "Irish Question." England has never brought her unbiased
judgment to its investigation. The truth simply is, John Bull dare not
look it steadily in the face. He knows he has no more right to govern
Ireland than he has to govern Pennsylvania--no more right to govern it
in the way he has since the Union, than to put its every man, woman, and
child, to the sword. Conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity, his
government of that people has been one series of crimes and blunders. It
was sheer usurpation in the beginning, and neither time nor the mode of
its administration has changed its character. Three-fourths of the
genuine, unadulterated Irish desire a separation from England. But
England refuses to relinquish its grasp. It pleads in extenuation of its
hold on the national throat, that Ireland is incapable of governing
itself. This may be. But it is evident that England is incompetent to
the task. Ireland could hardly do worse for itself than England has done
for it. It should be permitted to try an experiment which, in England's
hands, has proved a sad failure. Let England give Ireland the rope, and,
if she hang herself, it will at least be suicide, and not murder. If
free Ireland continued to shiver in bog cabins, and feed on saltless
potatoes, she would at least gratify that inherent principle in human
nature, which makes the beggar prefer to freeze and starve in his own
chosen way, rather than on compulsion. But no such doom awaits
emancipated Ireland. A government, based on democratic foundations,
springing from and responsible to the people, would be a government for
the people. Cast off British rule, drive out the Church Establishment,
extirpate the landlord system, give Ireland to the Irish, throw them
upon their own ample physical and mental resources--thus creating for
them a new world, and a new race to people it--and who can estimate the
upward spring of the national energies?

But, will Ireland ever obtain independence? Will she ever become a
nation? Will Emmett's epitaph ever be written? Did England ever
relinquish her hold upon a rod of bog or an acre of sand, except at the
point of the bayonet? By voluntarily restoring independence to Ireland,
dare she set an example that would bring Canada, Hindostan, and all her
colonies and "Keys" in the uttermost parts of the earth to her doors,
asking, yea, demanding, like restitution? And must Ireland draw the
sword, or submit? Ah! must she draw the sword _and_ submit? England will
never dare to give freedom to Ireland, till she dare not refuse.
Commotions in her own bosom, that shall blanch her cheek, and make her
knees smite together, may bring Ireland's "opportunity." If she should,
in that hour, smite her chains, would not the blow quicken the pulses of
every free heart in the world? "There is no sufficient cause to justify
a revolution," says some coward or conservative. The case of George
Washington _vs._ George Guelph, decided that question, wherein it was
ruled by the whole Court, that "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to
God." The stamp act? It was the little finger to the loins. England, by
a thousand acts, has stamped the life out of eight millions of people.
But, unless light beams from unexpected quarters, there is not a shadow
of hope of successful resistance to British oppression for years to
come. If Ireland were three thousand miles away, she could break her
chains with one united blow. But the shadow of her towering conqueror
crosses the narrow channel, and fills her with awe. And worse than all,
her councils, which should breathe only the spirit of harmony, are rent
with domestic feuds. No true son of the land of Hancock and of Henry
blames O'Brien, Meagher, and the "rebels" of Forty-Eight, for striking a
blow for their country's independence. The hour was unpropitious. The
preparation was defective. The means were wholly inadequate to the end.
But, the motive which inspired the deed was noble. Whether the graves of
these patriotic men be made at the foot of an Irish scaffold, or on the
soil of a penal colony, regenerated Ireland will seek out their
resting-places, and her grateful tears

  "Shall sprinkle the cold dust in which they sleep
  Pompless, and from a scornful world withdrawn;
  The laurel which its malice rent shall shoot,
  So watered, into life, and mantling shower
  Its verdant honors o'er their grassy tombs."


     Life, Services, and Character of Daniel O'Connell.

Every page of Ireland's history during the present century bears the
name of DANIEL O'CONNELL. In many important respects he is the greatest
of Irishmen. He occupied a first place among the persons who have
recently figured in European affairs, and was one of the most celebrated
orators of our times. For the last twenty years, few men exerted so
powerful an influence on the politics of Great Britain, while his sway
over his immediate countrymen has probably never been equaled. His death
produced a profound sensation in two hemispheres. Though his character,
like that of all men who leave a deep impress on their age, has been
variously estimated by those who, on the one hand, received his warm
sympathy and powerful support, or, on the other, encountered his fierce
reprobation and vigorous opposition, yet all classes of friends and foes
concurred in the sentiment that a master spirit had ceased to influence
human affairs.

Mr. O'Connell was admitted to the Dublin bar at a time when Curran, one
of the most witty, graceful, and brilliant advocates that ever swayed a
jury, and Plunkett, one of the most eloquent lawyers that ever addressed
a bench, were in the zenith of their fame. It is sufficient proof of the
ability and skill of young O'Connell to say, that he had been at the bar
but a year or two before he was surrounded by a large circle of clients,
and had won victories over each of the eminent barristers I have named.
But it was not possible for a mind composed of such fervid elements as
his, to be confined within the purlieus of the courts, looking after the
minor interests of John Doe and Richard Roe; and it soon became evident
that he was to mingle with the sober duties of the lawyer the more
exciting and less profitable toils of the politician. He came to the bar
at one of the most memorable periods of Irish history--the year
Ninety-Eight--when the "United Irishmen" struck an unsuccessful blow for
the independence of their country. The leaders of the rebellion were
arrested for high treason. The life-blood of the chivalrous Robert Emmet
was poured out on the scaffold. Several of his compatriots, after
suffering cruel imprisonments, and wandering, as exiles, through Europe,
reached America, where they were received with open arms by the friends
of freedom. Among these, were Thomas Addis Emmet, the eloquent Attorney
General of New York; Counselor Sampson, one of the acutest lawyers and
keenest wits that ever excoriated a brother advocate at the bar of New
York, and whose father, a dissenting minister, was hanged as a rebel;
and Dr. Macneven, who rose to eminence in the medical profession in that
city. The rebellion of Ninety-Eight resulted in the legislative union
between Great Britain and Ireland. Against this measure Mr. O'Connell,
in company with a majority of his countrymen, uttered a solemn protest.
His first political speech was made in opposition to the proposed act,
the repeal of which occupied so prominent a place in the efforts of his
declining years. This speech, pronounced before the congregated
thousands of Dublin, is said not to have been surpassed for power of
argument, severity of invective, and splendor of declamation, by any of
his later displays on the same subject. His young soul welled up from
full fountains as he portrayed this final degradation which England was
about to inflict upon Ireland; and when the deed was done, and he saw
the emblems of national independence borne away by the conqueror,
Hannibal-like, he swore eternal hostility to the oppressor. And most
religiously did he perform his vow!

Mr. O'Connell now turned his attention to the civil and ecclesiastical
disabilities of the Roman Catholics of the kingdom. Of the extent of his
services in procuring their removal, I have spoken in another place. To
this work he gave up twenty-five of the prime years of his life. To him,
not the Catholics only, but the Dissenters of every name in Great
Britain, are much indebted for the enlargement of their privileges
during the last thirty years. This endeared him to large bodies of
Christian men, who widely differed from him in religious opinion, giving
him a strong hold, Catholic and agitator though he was, upon liberal
Baptists, Congregationalists, and Quakers, who, while repudiating his
creed, cherished the principle of toleration for which he contended. Mr.
O'Connell regarded Catholic Emancipation as the great achievement of his
life; and it was that which won for him the title of "The Liberator of

During the Catholic controversy, of the bitterness of which Americans
can scarcely conceive, Mr. O'Connell for once departed from the pacific
policy which was the guiding principle of his excited life. Dublin was
the central heart whence he sent out agitating pulsations through every
artery of the Irish body. The corporation of that city was a high Tory
municipality, of the most bigoted and vindictive class. The leader of
the Emancipationists was often in collision with its members, many of
whom encountered his severest attacks. In 1815, Mr. D'Esterre, a member
of the corporation, at the instigation of its leading officers,
challenged Mr. O'Connell to personal combat. The parties met, and at the
first fire D'Esterre fell, mortally wounded. The successful duelist saw
his antagonist stretched on the grass at his feet, gasping in death. The
awful spectacle left an abiding abhorrence of blood on the sensitive
mind of O'Connell. Twenty-five years later he inscribed on the Repeal
banner his memorable saying, "No political change is worth the shedding
of one drop of human blood." His remorse for the D'Esterre tragedy
brought forth fruits meet for repentance. During their lives he
contributed liberally to the support of the widow and children of the
man whom he had slain.

After the death of Grattan, Ireland had no champion in the British
Senate, to give utterance to the emotions that swelled her full heart.
The Emancipation Act of 1829 opened the doors of the House of Commons to
Mr. O'Connell. Born and cradled in Ireland, he had grown up with her
people, an Irishman of the Irishmen. He landed on the eastern shore of
St. George's Channel the same man as when the spires of Dublin faded
from his eye in the western horizon. He carried with him a name endeared
in every cabin from Coleraine to Cork, and familiar to statesmen in
England and throughout Europe. Widely as he was known, he was known only
as an Irishman; and his reputation was, in its kind, purely Irish. To
his dying day, he gloried in the epithet early bestowed upon him in
Parliament, and which, though intended as a reproach, he converted into
a talisman--"The member for all Ireland."

A new field was now opened before him. Grattan, alluding to Flood's
failure in the English Parliament, said: "An oak of the forest is too
old to be transplanted at fifty." Though O'Connell was fifty-four when
he entered that body, his parliamentary career, covering eighteen years,
was of the most sturdy growth. His speeches in support of the Reform
Bill rank with the ablest which that controversy called forth. He threw
his soul into the cause of Negro Emancipation, fighting side by side, in
and out of Parliament, with Wilberforce, Clarkson, Buxton, Brougham,
Lushington, till the slave became a man. He early embraced the doctrine
of immediate and unconditional emancipation, and was among the few
members who voted against the delusive scheme of apprenticeship. He
united with Sturge, Wardlaw, and Scoble, in the subsequent movement that
restored to the apprentices the full rights of British subjects. At the
outset of the enterprise, he gave his voice and vote in favor of the
leading principles of the Chartists, and was among the earliest
advocates of Rowland Hill's plan of cheap postage. He joined George
Thompson in portraying the wrongs of British India and denouncing the
crimes of its oppressors, and was an able supporter of the doctrines and
measures of the Anti-Corn-Law League.

The member for all Ireland gave a large share of his thoughts to
Irish affairs. Regarding the abolition of the Irish Parliament as one of
the chief sources of the national suffering, he consecrated the last
ten years of his life to efforts for the Repeal of the Union. The
means employed were the same as those by which he obtained
Emancipation--Popular Agitation. The Repeal excitement, which was
soothed for a time by the conciliatory course of the Melbourne
Government, broke out with increased intensity when Sir Robert Peel rose
to power in 1841-2. In the latter year, "Repeal!" resounded from every
parish in the island. The next year saw the "Monster Meetings," when the
assembled populace, which swayed to the inspiring eloquence of the
Liberator, was measured by acres. The Government was alarmed. Just
previous to a grand demonstration at Clontarf, O'Connell, and five
others, were arrested for conspiring to change the laws of the realm by
intimidation. The trials, which consumed nearly the whole of January,
1844, resulted in the conviction of most of the defendants. O'Connell,
when brought up for sentence, pronounced an able and dignified protest
against the proceedings. He was adjudged to pay a fine of £2,000, be
imprisoned one year, and give sureties to keep the peace for seven. He
brought a writ of error to the House of Lords. In the mean time he was
sent to the Richmond Penitentiary. The Lords reversed the judgment.
After spending three months in a prison, where his "cell" was fitted up
and filled like the presence-chamber of a king, and his "confinement"
consisted in walking among arbors and parterres that "a Shenstone might
have envied," he was released, and, mounted on a triumphal car, rode in
state to his residence in Dublin, attended by uncounted thousands of his
shouting countrymen. In the frenzy of its joy, Conciliation Hall
declared that "The Liberator had driven the car of Repeal through the
Monster Indictment."

Darker skies were gathering over O'Connell. The pacific tenor of his
agitations had thwarted the government. The magic of his name had
prevented any overt act of violence by vast assemblies of his excited
countrymen. The sub-leaders became impatient of delay, assumed a defiant
tone, and demanded that the non-resistant doctrines of O'Connell be
repudiated by the National Repeal Association. Then arose "Young
Ireland." Then came strife and division, one party clinging to, the
other separating from, the great leader. The alienation of large numbers
of his friends overtaking him when his powers were impaired by years of
exhausting toil, broke the spirit of the old man, undermined his
constitution, and compelled him to repair to the Continent to
resuscitate his waning health and drooping heart. But he left the field
of exertion too late. His energies rapidly declined; death overtook him
while on his weary pilgrimage; his eye saw the sun for the last time in
a foreign sky; and he slept his final sleep far from the land which gave
him birth, and from that ocean by whose side his cradle was rocked. The
stroke that felled him to the earth sent a pang through many a heart in
every country where humanity has a dwelling-place; for his sympathies,
like his reputation, were world-wide. He had delivered his own
countrymen from the bonds of ecclesiastical tyranny, and had plead for
the victims of a hellish traffic on the shores of Africa, for the
swarthy serfs of British cupidity on the banks of the Ganges, for the
persecuted Jews of ancient Damascus, and for the stricken slaves in the
isles of the Caribbean Sea and in the distant States of America.

No impartial and well-informed mind doubts the sincerity of Mr.
O'Connell in demanding a Repeal of the Union. But it is equally
unquestionable that, in his estimate of the benefits to flow from that
measure, he either was deceived himself, or misled his followers.
Probably long contemplation of that object, as the one remedy for the
ills of Ireland, betrayed him into the errors of all disciples of
"one-ideaism," while he was not exempt from the common infirmity of
political leaders, in unduly magnifying before the eye of their
partisans _the_ measure of the party. Ineffectual as Repeal must have
proved in producing a radical cure for Ireland, it would have been a
preliminary stage in her restoration to complete independence, and
therefore was important.

In respect to Mr. O'Connell's general course as a public man, it may be
said that he did not belong to the ascetic school of politicians. He was
not exempt from trick and artifice in attaining his ends, and was lavish
in promising to do for his followers what he must have known he could
not perform. Indeed, he was something of a demagogue. In honesty of
purpose, he ranks with the better class of great public leaders; and if
this be not saying much, it is saying more than can be uttered of the
body. He is a rare man who is worthy to be ranked among the exceptions
to bad general rules. The objects to which he devoted his political life
were the noblest that can move the hearts of men. He that has never
employed questionable means to secure even such ends may cast the first
stone at Daniel O'Connell.

It only remains that I refer to his personal, social, and mental
characteristics. Mr. O'Connell had a massive frame, capable of enduring
great fatigue, and he was one of the most industrious and laborious of
men. His manners were cordial and frank; his social qualities genial and
winning; and he was singularly affectionate as a husband and a father.
It was only in the fierce conflicts of partisan strife, when challenged
by some strong provocation, that the unlovely and almost vindictive
traits of his nature were displayed. Then, the man who, an hour before,
had been all gentleness and good humor--caressing his grandchildren with
womanly fervor, or, in his seat in the Commons, affectionately holding
the hand of his son for a half hour together--now opened that terrible
battery of invective which he so well knew how to employ, and covered
his foe with a storm of fire.

He possessed a mind of uncommon native vigor, trained by a complete
education, and enlarged with a knowledge of men and things varied and
ample. The versatility of his genius, his extensive information, and his
capacity to adapt himself to the matter under discussion or the audience
before him, were surprising. I have heard him exhaust topics that
required for their elucidation an intimate acquaintance with the
Constitution of the United States, with the condition of barbarous
tribes in the interior of Africa, with the wrongs inflicted by the East
India Company upon the dwellers in Hindostan, with the commercial
tariffs of European nations, with the persecution of the Jews in Asia,
with the causes of the opium war in China, with the relative rights of
planters and laborers in the Western Archipelago--and he was at home in
each. I have seen him hold the House of Commons spell-bound, call shouts
from the _elite_ of British intelligence and philanthropy in Exeter
Hall, lash into fury or hush into repose acres of wild peasantry
gathered on the moors of Ireland--and he was at home with each.

As a popular orator, before mixed assemblies, our age has rarely seen
his equal. So good a judge as John Randolph pronounced him the first
orator in Europe. Every chord of the human bosom lay open to his touch,
and he played upon its passions and emotions with a master's hand. He
could subdue his hearers to tears by his pathos, or toss them with
laughter by his humor. His imagination could bear them to a giddy hight
on its elastic wing, or he could enchain their judgment by the strong
links of his logic. He could blanch their cheek as he painted before
their eye some atrocity red with blood, or he could make them hold their
sides as he related some broad Irish anecdote fresh from Cork. He used
to say he was the bes-tabused man in Europe. But he was able to
liquidate all such scores with most usurious interest. He could
excoriate an antagonist with invective, or roast him alive before a slow
fire of sarcasm. When his indignation was fully roused, he boiled like a
volcano; yet there was no excess of action or noise, but an eruption
whose lava consumed all before it. His recital of facts charmed like a
romance, and his appeals to the sympathies, uttered in a musical voice
and the richest brogue of his native island, were tender and subduing.

No actor ever excelled him in reflecting the workings of the mind
through the windows of the countenance. He _looked_ every sentiment as
it fell from his lips. I have seen a deputation of Hindoo chiefs, while
listening to his detail, before an assembly, of the wrongs of India,
never take their eyes off of him for an hour and a half, though not one
word in ten was intelligible to their ears. His gesticulation was
redundant, never commonplace, strictly _sui generis_, far from being
awkward, not precisely graceful, and yet it could hardly have been more
forcible, and, so to speak, illustrative. He threw himself into a great
variety of attitudes, all evidently unpremeditated. Now he stands bolt
upright like a grenadier. Then he assumes the port and bearing of a
pugilist. Now he folds his arms upon his breast, utters some beautiful
sentiment, relaxes them, recedes a step, and gives wing to the
coruscations of his fancy, while a winning smile plays over his
countenance. Then he "stands at ease," and relates an anecdote with the
rollicking air of a horse-jockey at Donnybrook Fair. Quick as thought,
his indignation is kindled; and, before speaking a word, he makes a
violent sweep with his arm, seizes his wig as if he would tear it in
pieces, adjusts it to its place, advances to the front of the rostrum,
throws his body into the attitude of a gladiator, and pours out a flood
of rebuke and denunciation.

Like most other rare men who have acted conspicuous parts in turbulent
times, he had great faults, eminent virtues, crowds of enemies, troops
of friends. His flatterers have rarely called him a statesman. In truth,
he was neither a good statesman, nor a bad statesman, but simply a bold
and generally successful political agitator. He grappled with questions
that shook empires; led the van in many a contest against despotism; was
indebted in no small degree for his victories to the rottenness of the
institutions he assailed. All right-minded and liberal-hearted men will
ascribe his defects partly to the evil times in which he lived, partly
to a hasty temper and an indomitable pride of opinion, while to a large
extent they will be attributed to a generous and impulsive nature,
impatient of unmeasured abuse and unreasonable opposition. Impartial
history will record that his fury was usually poured out on the heads of
meanness, fraud, injustice, and oppression; that he was the friend, the
champion, the brother, of depressed and outraged manhood, irrespective
of clime, color, or creed; and that wherever Humanity writhed under the
heel of Tyranny, there were found the glowing heart and trumpet voice of
Daniel O'Connell, sympathizing with the victim and rebuking the tyrant.


     The Temperance Reformation--Father Mathew.

The Temperance Reformation in Ireland, one of the most surprising moral
phenomena of this century, is attributable, under Providence, to the
zealous and discreet labors of one man.

The 10th of April, 1838, begun a new era in this philanthropic
enterprise. On that day, Rev. THEOBALD MATHEW signed the pledge, took
the lead of the Cork Temperance Society, and entered upon those labors
which have sent his fame over the earth like sunshine. For a year
afterward he held semi-weekly meetings in Cork, for administering the
pledge to the people. Feeble in its beginnings, the popular feeling
gradually rose in favor of the movement, his meetings were crowded to
overflowing, his house was besieged night and day, the roads leading to
Cork were, on "pledge days," thronged with multitudes, eager to take the
vow from the lips of "the good Father;" and at the close of the year,
the number of names enrolled exceeded 150,000.

No doubt the reverential element, which constitutes so prominent a trait
in the Irish character, contributed to the early success of Father
Mathew. A priest and a friar, respected for his purity of life,
remarkable for the winning simplicity and kindness of his manners,
solemnly pronouncing the pledge to a convert, kneeling devoutly at his
feet, and he, in the presence of listening thousands, repeating the vow
as it fell from the lips of his spiritual teacher, and receiving a medal
as a token of his plighted faith, and rising from the ground while the
Father pronounced the benediction, "May God bless you, my son, and help
you to keep your promise," was adapted to sink into the soul of even a
less susceptible people than the Irish.

Near the close of the year 1839, Mr. Mathew visited Limerick, and was
greeted by such an outburst of popular feeling as has not been equaled
except by some of the Monster Repeal Meetings of O'Connell. Every street
and lane of the city exhibited a dense mass of human beings. When the
"Apostle of Temperance" arrived, a shout went up that was heard for
miles around. Provisions rose on that day three-fold, and at night,
though every house, hall, and cellar even, was filled, thousands upon
thousands were unable to find a lodging or a shelter, and were compelled
to shiver in the open streets till morning. He remained four or five
days in Limerick. At one time, and in one street, 20,000 persons might
be seen kneeling to receive the pledge, after which they arose and
retired in order, and made room for other thousands. The thrilling
shouts, as Father Mathew moved from place to place, the serried ranks of
kneeling recipients, the solemn stillness that prevailed while the
pledge was given, the press of eager thousands to fill the places of
those who withdrew, were scenes that bankrupt description. The number of
persons who took the pledge at this time in Limerick was upwards of
150,000. Leaving Limerick, he visited Waterford, and administered it to
60,000. In the spring of 1840, he repaired to Dublin, which rose _en
masse_ to receive him, while the neighboring counties sent their
thousands to the city to take the pledge and obtain his blessing.

During the succeeding three years, he visited all parts of Ireland,
grateful shouts everywhere heralding his approach, thanksgivings
attending on his steps, and successes which a Howard might have envied,
and triumphs which a Cæsar could not have won, following in his train.
In five years from the commencement of his services, he had obtained the
pledge of five millions of persons in Ireland alone, to the practice of
total abstinence. The fame of his good deeds having long before crossed
the Channel, he yielded to invitations, and visited Scotland and England
in 1842-3, administering the pledge to half a million of people. During
the following six years, this remarkable man has prosecuted his work
with all the constancy which the famine-stricken condition of his
fellow-subjects would permit. He has raised up a myriad throng of
emancipated men to call him blessed.

This great Irish reform, mildly winning its way through all the avenues
of society, has done wonders in elevating the social condition of that
unfortunate people. Even if this truly good man had not visited America
on his errand of mercy, but merely as a traveler on a tour of
observation and pleasure, the rich blessings he has showered upon his
country and mankind would entitle him to the warm greeting, alike
honorable to us and to him, which a generous nation tenders to a devoted


     International Peace--European Military Establishments--British
     Establishment--Mr. Cobden--Peace Party in England--Peace Congress
     in Paris--Elihu Burritt--Charles Sumner.

My limits forbid such an extended notice of the sublime enterprise of
International Peace as its importance demands, and my own feelings

At the present hour, about two millions of Europeans, in the prime of
manhood, are withdrawn from the arts of peace, to bear the sword and the
musket, and hold themselves ready, at the beck of diplomatic chicane and
the tap of the drum, to slaughter other millions, in defense of
arbitrary or aristocratic governments. To maintain these two millions,
on ship and on shore, costs directly and indirectly two hundred millions
sterling per annum.

Great Britain has been a severe sufferer for naval and military "glory."
From 1793 to 1815, her public debt increased £600,000,000, the greater
part of this sum being expended in contests with Napoleon and his
allies. Since the peace of 1815, she has spent an average of full
£15,000,000 per year for warlike objects. Paying her sailors and
soldiers at the meanest rates, she gives large salaries to their
officers, lavishing incredible sums on many of them for doing literally
nothing. There are in the army sinecure colonelcies alone to the amount
of £200,000 per annum, and Prince Albert, who never saw and never will
see a shot fired in anger, pockets yearly £8000 for sporting a Field
Marshal's uniform, on court days, in the drawing-room of St. James'.
The pay of the soldiers and marines is plucked from the pockets and
stomachs of the laboring poor. No wonder that Cobden, Sturge, Gurney,
Lee, Hindley, Ewart, Conder, Miall, Burnet, Vincent, and their
associates, think this anti-christian system should come to an end. The
Peace party in England is rapidly becoming so influential that it will
soon make itself felt in the National Councils. MR. COBDEN'S motion
(which is postponed rather than defeated) to reduce the national
expenditures £10,000,000 per annum is aimed at the army and navy. It
will ultimately triumph, and with usurious interest for all delays. A
large share of the Complete Suffragists, of the Free Traders, of the
Financial Reformers, and, indeed, of the radicals generally, if not
technically "Peace-men," are hostile to the existing military and naval
establishments. Mr. Cobden, from his eminent talents, his distinguished
services, and his firm hold on the popular mind, may be regarded as the
leader of the Peace movement in England.

The Peace Congress, held in Paris, during the past summer, in whose
proceedings so many eminent philanthropists of various countries
participated, has given an impulse to the pacific enterprise in Europe.

From the list of American names that have aided this cause, it will not
be invidious to select two, as worthy of special commendation: the
philanthropic and indefatigable ELIHU BURRITT, who has done so much
during the last three years to arouse the attention of England to the
horrors of war and the blessings of peace; and CHARLES SUMNER, the
accomplished lawyer, classical scholar, and eloquent orator, whose
writings and speeches, alike instructive and brilliant, have greatly
assisted in commending this noble reform to public favor both in our own
and foreign States.


     Mrs. Elizabeth Fry--Mrs. Amelia Opie--Lady Noel Byron--Miss Harriet
     Martineau--Mrs. Mary Howitt.

It would do injustice to my own feelings and the facts of history, to
leave it to be inferred, from my silence, that the Women of England have
not furnished some of the brightest names in the galaxy of Modern

Looking ever so casually in this direction, what figure so promptly
meets the eye as that of ELIZABETH FRY--the friend of the prisoner, the
bondman, the lunatic, the beggar--who has been aptly named "the female
Howard"? Mrs. Fry hardly deserved more credit for the benevolent
impulses of her heart, than for the dignity and urbanity of her manners.
They were natural, for they were born with her. The daughter of John,
and the sister of Joseph and Samuel Gurney, could hardly be else than
the embodiment of that charity which never faileth, that philanthropy
which embraces every form of human misery, and that amenity which
proffers the cup of kindness with an angel's grace. In youth, her
personal attractions, and the vivacity of her conversation, made her the
idol of the social circle, and severe was her struggle in deciding
whether to become the reigning belle of the neighborhood, or devote her
life to assuaging the sorrows of a world of suffering and crime.
Happily, she resolved that Humanity had higher claims upon her than
Fashion. Her resolution once formed, she immediately entered upon the
holy mission to which, for nearly half a century, she consecrated that
abounding benevolence and winning grace, which, in her girlhood, were
the pride of her parents and the delight of her companions.

Though her eye was ever open to discover, and her hand to relieve, all
forms of sorrow, it was to the inmates of the mad-house and the
penitentiary that she mainly devoted her exertions. Wonderful was her
power over the insane. The keenest magnetic eye of the most experienced
keeper paled and grew feeble in its sway over the raving maniac,
compared with the tones of her magic voice. Equally fascinating was her
influence over prisoners and felons. Many a time, in spite of the sneers
of vulgar turnkeys, and the positive assurances of respectable keepers,
that her purse and even her life would be at stake if she entered the
wards of the prison, she boldly went in amongst the swearing, quarreling
wretches, and, with the doors bolted behind her, encountered them with
dignified demeanor and kindly words, that soon produced a state of order
and repose which whips and chains had vainly endeavored to enforce.
Possessing peculiar powers of eloquence, (why may not a woman be an
"orator?") she used to assemble the prisoners, address them in a style
of charming tenderness all her own, win their assent to regulations for
their conduct which she proposed, shake hands with them, give and
receive a blessing, return to the keeper's room, and be received by him
with almost as much astonishment and awe as Darius exhibited toward
Daniel, when he emerged from the den of lions.

In this way, Mrs. Fry made frequent examinations of the prisons of
England. She pursued her holy work on the Continent, visiting prisons in
France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Prussia. In the early
part of her career, she encountered both at home and abroad some
rudeness, and many rebuffs. But her ever-present dignity, tact, and
kindness, at length won the confidence and plaudits of the great
majority of her own countrymen, and of many philanthropists and titled
personages in other lands. She was a favorite of the Kings of Prussia
and Denmark--the former, when in England, paying her a complimentary
visit at her own house. She sought frequent occasions to press, in
person, the subject of her mission upon the attention of crowned heads
and ministers of state. She accomplished a great work in the cause of
Prison Reform, in ameliorating the Penal Code, and improving the
condition of convict ships and penal colonies. Her special mouthpiece in
Parliament was her brother-in-law, Mr. Buxton--her measures were
supported by Mackintosh and other illustrious Senators--and it is the
highest tribute to the dignity which her rare excellences threw over her
enterprises, that they got the better of Sydney Smith's love of
ridicule, and drew from him two or three articles in their favor in the
Edinburgh Review. This greatly useful and greatly beloved woman died in
1845, at the age of sixty-six. To her may be applied with equal
propriety Burke's beautiful tribute to Howard:

     "She visited all Europe, not to survey the sumptuousness of
     palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate
     measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a
     scale of the curiosities of modern art; not to collect medals, nor
     collate manuscripts; but to dive into the depths of dungeons, to
     plunge into the infection of hospitals, to survey the mansions of
     sorrow and pain; to take the guage and dimensions of misery,
     depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to
     the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and compare and collate the
     miseries of all men in all countries. Her plan was original: it was
     as full of genius as of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a
     circumnavigation of charity. Already, the benefit of her labor is
     felt more or less in every country."

Mrs. Fry having been a member of the Society of Friends, we easily turn
to Mrs. AMELIA OPIE, also belonging to that venerable body. As Mrs. Opie
wrote the celebrated work on _Lying_, we must tell the truth if we say
anything of this excellent lady. When I saw her, though the sun and
shade of more than sixty years had flitted across her path, her
conversation and manners retained much of the sprightliness of youth,
and would have been _very_ agreeable, had she not affected more
juvenility than she really possessed. Nearly half a century before, she
had sent to press a volume of poems, marked by graceful versification,
sweetness, and pathos; and a domestic tale, "The Father and Daughter,"
which was distinguished, amongst the mass of sentimental nonsense which
floated all around, by lively narrative, and a high moral tone. This
novel run through several editions, and still holds its place in
libraries. Since then, numerous works of fiction have flowed from her
pen, which bear the same literary impress, are elevated in their moral
aim, and tend to soften the heart, and make us love mankind better than
before. Some of Mrs. Opie's best gifts have been laid on the altar of
humanity. She has been the warm friend, both in youth and in old age, of
enterprises for the improvement of man, without respect to clime, creed,
or color.

I have said that Mrs. Opie was a Quakeress. In doctrine, she belongs to
the straitest of the sect, while she talks of Barclay's Apology and
Byron's Childe Harold, of George Fox's preaching and Walter Scott's
novels, in the same sentence, and with equal delight. Suppose her _thee_
and _thou_ did sound oddly in such company, and her tongue trip
occasionally when repeating some of Tom Moore's champagne jokes at Lord
Holland's dinners; and suppose her dress is juvenile in style, and
fastidious in arrangement, dazzling the eyes as it throws back in
disdain the envious brilliancy of the blazing chandelier, showing that
no belle in the room has toiled more hours at her toilet this evening,
than she; still she is good Mrs. Opie, is not "a birth-right member" of
the plain-speaking and plain-dressing sect, but joined them "on
convincement," while far advanced in life, with habits firmly fixed, and
after passing the line when it is easier to change one's creed than
one's manners. Under that glossy satin dress, there beats a heart whose
every avenue is open to truth, and whose sympathies gush out in streams
that return not to their fountain, till they have swept the entire
circle of human want and woe. Suppose this worthy Christian
philanthropist is rather fond of telling her auditors (and are they not
fond of hearing?) the fine things Sir Walter Scott said to her in
Melrose Abbey, or the flat joke that some flatter earl cracked in her
ear when leading her into the drawing-room of Lord Fitzfoozle, or what
Campbell said to her at her own house, when she was participating in a
discussion with Wordsworth and Sir Thomas Lawrence, about the relative
merits of poetry and painting, or how she used up all her stock of
French the day she dined with Lafayette--she is only one of a great
crowd of book writers and book readers on both sides of the Atlantic,
who are fond of insinuating that they have shone as conspicuous spangles
in more than one comet's luminous tail.

In her declining years, Mrs. Opie has occasionally sent into the world
some effusion of her benevolent pen, on religious and charitable
subjects--lives in a neat style at Norwich--shows her visitors rooms
lined with rare paintings, partly the product of her husband's lively
pencil--is active in all works of love and mercy--was on familiar terms
with the late warm-hearted Bishop of Norwich--and delights to guide her
friends through the long aisles of the aged cathedral, when the organ
sounds its sweetest notes.

The circumstances under which I first saw Mrs. Opie remind me to say a
few words of Lady NOEL BYRON, the widow of the poet. She appeared as
mild as the blue sky of an Italian summer evening. Edified by her
intelligent conversation, and charmed with the softened grace of her
manners, one could not but say to himself--Can it be that that mild blue
eye, that mellow voice, that bland mien belonged to _the_ Lady Byron,
the wife of the wild genius, whose erratic fire, while it startled the
round world with its glare, withered all that was sweet and lovely
within its own domestic circle, nor paled till it had consumed its
owner by the intensity of its own volcanic hell? Hidden under that pale
cheek and quiet countenance, there _may_ lie the smoldering embers of
passions that once shot their flames through the very veins of the bard,
and made him the mad suicide he was. But they now slumber so profoundly,
that one must disbelieve they ever existed. The mystery must die with
the parties.

There is a sprightliness in the conversation of Lady Byron that wins the
listener, and a common sense that edifies him, while the tinge of
sadness which flows through it gives a serious and sincere hue to the
vein of pure morality that pervades much of this unfortunate woman's
discourse. Decidedly plain-looking--for, even in the bloom of youth, she
could not have been handsome--her countenance when in repose is rather
dull and uninteresting, but it kindles up when excited by the contact of
kindred minds, and is set off by an address and manners familiar and

Lady Byron has found occasional relief from the cloud which memory hangs
over her, by participating in enterprises of charity and philanthropy.
Indeed, she seemed to be quite a reformer, apparently holding firmly,
while uttering cautiously, the liberal political sentiments which
constituted the redeeming feature in her husband's character. As might
be expected, she is sensitive to all allusions in her presence to him,
seeming desirous that the thick veil of oblivion should hide all traces
of their lamentable union and separation. It is not so with her
daughter, Ada Augusta--the "gentle Ada"--since Lady Lovelace, who loves
to talk of her father, and glows with delight when you tell her that his
works are universally read, not only in the seaboard cities of America,
but among the far-away woods and prairies of the New World.

Who that can appreciate a happy blending of philosophical acumen with
philanthropic devotion, illustrated in writings profound and poetic, and
conversation rational and racy, could fail to be pleased with Miss
HARRIET MARTINEAU--in spite of her tin trumpet? And well would it be
for their own reputation and the comfort of society, if many authors and
talkers used a trumpet to gather up the responses of their readers and
auditors, rather than to blow private griefs or fancied merits in the
averted face of the public. Descended from one of the families exiled
from France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Miss Martineau
inherits the fondness for philosophical speculation and the vivacity of
spirit of the people whence she traces her lineage, mingled with the
hatred of tyranny and love of toleration which the event that drove her
forefathers to England was calculated to inspire. These French Puritans,
wherever scattered up and down the world by the bigotry of Louis XIV, if
they have had less of iron in their character and marble in their aspect
than the Huguenots of Plymouth, they have displayed, under persecutions
equally severe, as heroic a defense of their own civil and religious
freedom, while exhibiting in their treatment of others a larger measure
of that charity which suffereth long and is kind.

Miss Martineau became a student in extreme youth. While a girl, delicate
health prevented her mingling in pastimes usual to her sex and years,
and she sought society in books. Subsequently, an embarrassing deafness
threw her upon her own mental resources for amusement and instruction.
Gifted with ready powers of writing, and the needed motive for "trying
her hand" being found in pecuniary necessity, she naturally turned from
reading books to making them, and became an author at the age of twenty.
During the next twenty-five years, she sent to press numerous works,
ranging over a wide field of topics, from verses and stories adapted to
the nursery and the school, to volumes on political economy and
poor-laws, after the order of Bentham and Malthus. She has written
tales, novels, prayers, hymns, illustrations of political economy and
pauperism and taxation, sketches of travels in Europe, Asia, Africa and
America, and numberless papers for reviews and magazines, exhibiting
high powers of reflection and rare graces of composition, and aiming at
the great and good end of instructing, amusing, and elevating mankind.
Two of her most interesting publications, and they are among the most
recent, are "Life in a Sick Room" and "The Holy Land"--the former, a
beautiful record of her own experience and reflections while suffering
under deep-seated disease; the latter, a vivid and graphic picture of
her lingerings around the sacred scenes of Palestine.

The works of Miss Martineau that produced the greatest sensation, and
most widely extended her reputation, are those on political subjects. In
politics, for she is a politician, she must be classed with the radicals
of the school of Bentham, Cobden, and Hume. This fact, uniting with the
class of topics she handled, have not vouchsafed to her exemption from
the canons and hot shot of criticism to which the writings of the other
sex are exposed. And she is too much of a woman to plead her sex in bar
of the operation of any legitimate rule of literary warfare. She is able
to give as well as take in the arena of authorship. Her works, or rather
tales, (for she dressed her disquisitions in the drapery of fiction,) on
political economy, poor-laws, and cognate subjects, drew down upon her
the sneers and maledictions of the High Tory Quarterly Review--the
former being aimed at her sex, the latter at her doctrines--which only
resulted in proving that the critics had very slender claims to be
regarded either as gentlemen, philosophers or statesmen. So novel was
her undertaking, that she encountered great difficulty in getting a
publisher for her "Illustrations." She first offered them to the
generally astute and always liberal Society for the Diffusion of Useful
Knowledge. The managers declined to issue them, prophesying that the
project would prove a dead failure. At length a bookseller was found,
hardy enough, or wise enough, to send into the world essays on political
economy, poor-laws, and taxation, dressed up in fiction by the hand of a
woman. The success of the experiment was immediate and complete. The
numbers were eagerly bought as they came out, the advent of each link
in the series being looked for with as much interest as Dickens'
Nickleby or Dombey; new editions followed new editions; Germany and
France translated and sent them over Europe; till the most driveling
specimen of Britain's old-womanish legislation received a shock from
which it has never recovered, and looked at one time as if it might fall
a sudden victim to the exposures of a comparatively young damsel.

Mrs. MARY HOWITT has walked gracefully over a portion of the same field
of literature as Miss Martineau, gathering flowers not seen by or not
congenial to the eye of the more matter-of-fact disciple of the great
Utilitarian. She has more poetry and less philosophy in her temperament
than Miss Martineau, is more domestic and rural in her tastes, grapples
less with themes that agitate senates, and has a heart more susceptible
to the _individual_ joys and sorrows of mankind. She is equally
bountiful in her contributions to the every-day reading of the times;
gives her writings a high moral aim; makes her readers good-humored, and
overflowing with _bonhommie_; and if she does not set them to thinking
so hard about the causes of human misery, stimulates them to as much
activity in alleviating the effects.

In 1823, soon after her marriage with Mr. Howitt--and two more congenial
spirits never closed hands at the altar--they jointly published "The
Forest Minstrel," a volume abounding in lively pictures of rural
scenery, and filial reverence for the poetry of the olden time. They
made a tour of Scotland, traveling more than a thousand miles over
highland and moorland, half of which they performed on foot, drinking at
the storied fountains, and holding familiar converse with the spirits
that haunt the old castles and battle-fields of a country whose
novelists and bards have associated

  "With every glen and every stream,
  The romance of some warrior dream."

This tour, taken when their minds were alive to the sublimities and
beauties of the scenery, and when their poetic eye threw its young
glance upon each filament of the drapery that song and story have spread
over every spot between Tweed-dale and Loch Ness, gave form and color to
all the subsequent writings of the Howitts. Returning home, they
published another volume of poetry, which, like the first, was warmly
eulogized by the public press. They were now fairly launched on the
stream of English literature. For several years Mrs. Howitt gave much
time to the preparation of works for the young. Being first enlisted in
this department by the wants of her own rising household, she
subsequently wrote for the public, throwing off scores of stories, which
were bought, read, and admired by "the million" of her own country, are
found in "morocco and gilt" on marble tables in American cities, and in
yellow covers in the log huts beyond the mountains, while some, through
the medium of translations, have found their way into the nurseries of
Germany and the forest-homes of Poland.

After a variety of literary adventures in England, Mr. and Mrs. Howitt
visited Germany, about 1840, where they resided some three years. Here
they acquired a knowledge, among others, of the Swedish tongue. The
result of their continental sojourn was the translation into English by
him of the celebrated "Student Life in Germany," and the publication of
his "Social and Rural Life in Germany," and her translation and
introduction to British and American readers of the now widely known
Swedish novels of Frederika Bremer. Deeply sympathizing with all efforts
to elevate the mind and condition of their countrymen, and feeling the
need of a weekly periodical that should combine high literary qualities
with radical political doctrines, they started, in 1846, "The People's
Journal." Mrs. Howitt was a large contributor to its pages, both under
its original name and that of Howitt's Journal. Some numbers of the
latter for the closing part of the year 1847 are now under my eye, and I
am struck with the great amount, varied character, and benevolent aim
of her contributions. Stories for children; translations from Hans
Christian Andersen; poetic gems; a sketch of Laura Bridgman;
translations of Swedish and Hungarian tales; a sketch of "the Deserter
in London," which kindles indignation against war; "Love passages in the
lives of every-day people;" a most eloquent petition to the Queen, for
commuting the sentence of a woman then lying in Newgate, whose execution
had been postponed that she might give birth to a child--these, and such
papers, scattered through the Journal, exhibit the mode in which Mrs.
Howitt has spent her life of late years. And, her husband being witness,
she is not only an industrious authoress, but a model wife and mother.

While the Journal gave an impulse to the cause of freedom, it was most
disastrous to the pecuniary interests of the Howitts. They have had
their full share of the joys and sorrows, honors and perplexities,
profits and losses of literary life. They have encountered their
checkered lot with as hopeful a brow as anybody can be expected to
exhibit, that attempts to get a living by writing "books which _are_
books," in this age of "_cheap_ literature." In prosperity and
adversity, they have given hand, heart and pen to progress and reform.
Should they ever accomplish their purpose of visiting America, the
friends of pure and pleasing literature would unite with the friends of
social and political reform, to give them welcome hands with hearts in


     The Literature of Freedom--The Liberal Literature of
     England--Periodicals--Edinburgh Review--Its Founders--Its
     Contributors--Its Standard and Style of Criticism--Its
     Influence--London Quarterly Review Started--Political Services of
     the Edinburgh--Its Ecclesiastical Tone--Sydney Smith--Decline of
     the Political Influence of the Edinburgh--Blackwood's
     Magazine--Tait's Magazine--Westminster Review--The Eclectic--The
     New Monthly--The Weekly Press--Cobbett's Register--Hunt's
     Examiner--Mr. Fonblanque--Mr. Landor--The Spectator--Douglas
     Jerrold--Punch--People's and Howitt's Journals--Mr.
     Howitt--Chambers's Journal--Penny Magazine and Cyclopedia.

In the times of the Commonwealth, when the mind of England was set free,
Milton was the center of a constellation of intellects that exemplified
in their writings the value of his own saying--"Give me the liberty to
know and to argue freely, above all other liberties." After his sun set,
liberty without licentiousness hid behind a cloud, which was not fully
cleared away till the storm of the American and French revolutions.
While the literature of England depended for sustenance upon the
patronage of the great, it was marked, with occasional exceptions, by
the brand of servility; and so long as authors looked for remuneration
to the munificence of the lord or lady to whom they dedicated their
works, they laid their choicest gifts at the footstool of power and
title. As education became diffused, enlarging the circle of readers,
writers began to look to the public for patronage, and adapted their
works to the popular taste. Then the publishers and booksellers became
the agents, the middle-men, between the author and the reader. Long
after this change, however, it was hazardous for a writer to lift his
pen against existing institutions in Church and State; and he who run a
tilt against these, were he able to make sale of his works, might deem
himself fortunate if he escaped a prosecution for libel or sedition,
that emptied his purse of its guineas, or planted his feet in the
stocks. Even so late as the beginning of this century, the instances
were not a few where writers, who doubted the divinity of the royal
Guelphs, and questioned whether all the religion in the kingdom emanated
from Lambeth Palace, were fined, cropped, branded, and shipped beyond
seas. The impulse given to European intellect by the first French
revolution, was not confined to statesmen and warriors. It stimulated
thought in all classes. As in politics, so in letters, fetters fell from
men's minds, and reason, imagination, and utterance were emancipated.
The Fox school of politicians encouraged the growth of a literature in
England favorable to freedom. It immediately started up, rank and
luxuriant; and though bearing every variety of fruit that could delight
the eye, or regale the appetite, or poison the taste, the decided
preponderance of the product has been congenial to rational liberty,
healthy morals, and sound learning.

In estimating the literary influences which have contributed to the
cause of Progress and Reform in Great Britain, during the present
century, a high place should be assigned to the EDINBURGH REVIEW.

This celebrated periodical appeared at an era when independence of
thought and manliness of utterance had almost ceased from the public
journals and councils of the kingdom. The terrors of the French
revolution had arrested the march of liberal opinions. The declamation
of Burke and the ambition of Napoleon had frightened the isle from its
propriety. Tooke had barely escaped the gallows through the courageous
eloquence of Erskine. Fox had withdrawn from the contest in despair,
and cherished in secret the fires of freedom, to burst forth in happier

Previous to 1802, the literary periodicals of Great Britain were mere
repositories of miscellanies, relating to art, poetry, letters, and
gossip, partly original and partly selected, huddled together without
system, and making up a medley as varied and respectable as a first
class weekly newspaper of the present day. The criticisms of books were
jejune in the extreme, consisting chiefly of a few smart witticisms, and
meager connecting remarks stringing together ample quotations from the
work under review. They rarely ventured into deep water on philosophical
subjects, and as seldom pushed out upon the tempestuous sea of political
discussion. Perhaps one or two journals might plead a feeble exception
to the general rule; but the mass was weary, stale, flat, and

The Edinburgh appeared. It bounded into the arena without the
countenance of birth or station, without the imprimatur of the
universities or literary clubs. Its avowed mission was to erect a higher
standard of merit, and secure a bolder style and a purer taste in
literature, and to apply philosophical principles and the maxims of
truth and humanity to politics, aiming to be the manual of the scholar,
the monitor of the statesman. As in its advent it had asked permission
of no one _to be_, so as to its future course it asked no advice as to
what it should _do_. Soliciting no quarter, promising no favors, its
independent bearing and defiant tone broke the spell which held the mind
of a nation in fetters. Its first number revived the discussion of great
political principles. The splendid diction and searching philosophy of
an essay on the causes and consequences of the French revolution at once
arrested the public eye, and stamped the character of the journal.
Pedants in the pulpit, and scribblers of Rosa-Matilda verses in printed
albums, saw, from other articles in the manifesto, that exterminating
war was declared on their inanities and sentimentalities. The new
journal was perused with avidity, and produced a sensation in all
classes of readers, exciting admiration and envy, love and hatred,
defiance and fear. It rapidly obtained a large circulation, steadily
rose to the highest position ever attained by any similar publication,
reigned supreme in an empire of its own creation for a third of a
century, accomplishing vast good mingled with no inconsiderable evil.

The honor of founding this Review belongs to Sydney Smith. He suggested
the idea to Messrs. Jeffrey, Brougham, and Murray--he, a poor young
curate of Salisbury Plain, "driven in stress of politics" into
Edinburgh, while on a voyage to Germany--they, briefless young advocates
of the northern capital. They all subsequently rose to eminence; all
becoming lords except Smith, who might have been made a lord bishop if
he had not been created the prince of wits. The four adventurers, who
met in the eighth or ninth story of Buccleugh Place, and agreed to start
a Review, provided they could get the first number published on trust,
they not having money enough to pay the printer, could not have dreamed
that the journal would be eagerly read for half a century, from London
to Calcutta, from the Cape of Good Hope to the sources of the
Mississippi, and that Brougham would become Lord Chancellor of Great
Britain, Jeffrey Lord Justice of the highest court of Scotland, Murray
also Lord Justice of Scotland, and Smith Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral,
firing hot shot at Pennsylvanians for not paying interest on a small
loan from his surplus of £70,000.

Did space permit, it might be interesting to attempt to trace the causes
of the great power which this periodical exerted over public opinion.
The temper of the times when it appeared in respect to politics, and the
Dead Sea of dullness in literary criticism that spread all around, gave
novelty to an enterprise which proposed to combine the highest literary
and scientific excellences with the boldest discussion of public men and
affairs. The execution of the plan came up to the lofty tone of the
manifesto. In its infancy, and onward to its maturity, the Edinburgh
surrounded itself with a host of contributors whose names have given and
received celebrity from its pages. Smith, Jeffrey, Brougham, Murray,
Scott, Playfair, Leslie, Brewster, Stewart, Horner, Romilly, Stephen,
Mackintosh, Brown, Malthus, Ricardo, Hallam, Hamilton, Hazlitt, Forster,
McCulloch, Macaulay, Carlyle, Talfourd--and these are but a tithe--have
given it their choicest productions, ranging through the fields of
politics, finance, jurisprudence, ethics, science, poetry, art, and
letters, in all their multiform departments. The contributions of many
of these writers have been extracted and published in separate volumes,
which, in their turn, have challenged the criticism of celebrated
reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nor was less zest imparted to its earlier pages because ability was not
always accompanied with candor, and attacks upon distinguished authors
and statesmen were no less fierce than assaults upon popular works and
venerable institutions. Persons and principles were alike mixed in the
melee. Nobody, nothing was spared that opposed the march of the literary
Tamerlane. In the department of literary criticism, its standard was
just, lofty, or capricious, according to its mood; its style, by turns
and by authors, grave or sarcastic, eulogistic or saucy, argumentative
or sentimental, chaste or slashing, classical or savage. A man-of-war of
the first class, and of the regular service, when civil and
ecclesiastical abuses were to be discovered and destroyed, in literary
contests it often run up the flag and used the weapons of the buccaneer.
Not only did it exterminate the small craft of penny-a-line novelists
and poetasters, but it pursued Wordsworth, Southey, Coleridge, Byron,
Montgomery, Lamb, and all with whom they treated or sympathized, with a
spirit akin to that of the "Red Corsair of the Mozambique," when chasing

  ----"Argosies with portly sail,
  Flying by him with their woven wings,
  Rich with Barbaric pearl and gold."

The very temerity of the Review, sustained by such rare learning,
ability, and brilliancy, gave it currency with friends and foes. It was
admitted by its enemies that no similar publication displayed so many
rich veins of thought, uttered so many acute observations, or arrayed
its offspring in such graceful drapery; and they found fault, not so
much with the standards set up, or the principles inculcated, as with
their alleged unjust application to their favorite books and authors.
The answer of the reviewers was short and characteristic. If they used
the stiletto or the scalping-knife when they ought to use the scimitar
or the broad-sword, why, that was according to the canons of criticism
they had in such cases made and provided, and the friends of the slain
might resort to reprisals.

A specimen of the mode in which it drowned in ridicule pedantry and
stupidity, is found in the first number, in a review, by Sydney Smith,
of Rev. Dr. Langford's "Anniversary Sermon of the Royal Humane Society."
After giving the title of the publication in the usual form, the
reviewer says: "An accident which happened to the gentleman engaged in
reviewing this sermon proves, in the most striking manner, the
importance of this charity for restoring to life persons in whom the
vital power is suspended. He was discovered with Dr. Langford's
discourse lying open before him, in a state of the most profound sleep,
from which he could not, by any means, be awakened for a great length of
time. By attending, however, to the rules prescribed by the Humane
Society, flinging in the smoke of tobacco, applying hot flannels, and
carefully removing the discourse itself to a great distance, the critic
was restored to his disconsolate brothers. The only account he could
give of himself was, that he remembers reading on regularly, till he
came to the following pathetic description of a drowned tradesman;
beyond which he recollects nothing." Then follows a paragraph from the
sermon, dropsical with dullness; and here the article ends.

A specimen of the style in which it pronounced sentence of contempt on
an author is found at a later date, and is perfect of its kind. It is
the introductory paragraph of Macaulay's review of Gleig's Life of
Warren Hastings. "This book," says Macaulay, "seems to have been
manufactured in pursuance of a contract, by which the representatives of
Warren Hastings, on the one part, bound themselves to furnish papers,
and Mr. Gleig, on the other part, bound himself to furnish praise. It is
but just to say, that the covenants on both sides have been most
faithfully kept; and the result is before us in the form of three big
bad volumes, full of undigested correspondence and undiscerning
panegyric." Macaulay then goes on through seventy pages, giving his own
brilliant portrait of Hastings, never noticing the author except at long
intervals, when he turns aside for a moment to give him a blow in the
face with his brush.

The Review gave an impulse to periodical literature, and elevated the
tone of literary criticism and political disquisition. Grub street made
a stand against the invader, worthy of its ancient garrets. It issued
fifty pamphlets in a single year, explaining, extenuating, defending,
defying. But dullness and insipidity at length gave way, and retreated
rapidly to the trunk-makers and green grocers. Much evil was mingled
with the good. The excellences of the new journal were not alone
imitated. Ferocity and fire blazed out from the pages of cotemporaneous
publications. But, they were the rush-light to Vesuvius. At length,
soldiers of higher mettle and brighter armor than Grub street could
muster took the field. Byron had shivered a lance with the Edinburgh.
Southey, whose scalp it had mangled, was stung to madness, and vowed
vengeance. Scott denounced its politics as rash, radical, and
revolutionary. The great Whig rhinoceros from beyond the Tweed had
ravaged the softer landscape of England, and tossed Tory politicians and
poets on its horn for six years, when Brougham's celebrated article on
Don Pedro de Cevallos and Spanish affairs appeared, avowing
ultra-democratic doctrines. Scott, who had some time before ceased to
be a contributor, now ordered his subscription stopped, and entered into
correspondence with Ellis, Southey, Gifford, and others, in regard to
starting a rival periodical, that should encounter the spoiler in his
own field, and with weapons of like temper and force. The result was the
establishment, in 1809, of the Quarterly Review, in London. Its editor
was William Gifford; and in boldness, bitterness, dogmatism, and
ferocity, he was a full match for any writer in the Edinburgh; though,
in comprehension of broad principles and appreciation of the beautiful,
in acuteness and originality, he fell below the journal he was set up to

But, dazzling as has been the meteoric career of the Edinburgh in the
firmament of letters, it is in the department of governmental reform
that its greatest and best services have been rendered. Its founder has
well said, that at its advent "it was always considered a piece of
impertinence in England if a man of less than £2,000 or £3,000 a year
had any opinion at all on important subjects." The Edinburgh Review has
taught a Manchester calico-printer how to take the Government by the
beard. In the forty-six years of its existence, it has seen the British
slave trade abolished--a devastating European war terminated--the Holy
Alliance broken up, and its anointed conspirators brought into
contempt--the corporation and test acts repealed--the Catholics
emancipated--the criminal code humanized--the death-penalty
circumscribed--the reform bill carried, extending the suffrage to half a
million of people--West India and East India slavery abolished--the
commercial monopoly of the East India Company overthrown--municipal
corporations reformed--the court of chancery opened, and sunlight let in
upon its doings--the common law courts made more accessible to the
masses--the law of libel made endurable--the poor-laws made more
charitable--the game-laws brought nearer the verge of modern
civilization--the corn-laws repealed--the post-office made subservient
to all who can raise a penny--the means of educating the poor
increased--the privileges of the Established Church curtailed in three
kingdoms--and a long catalogue of minor reforms effected, and dignity
and intensity imparted to the popular demand for still larger
concessions to the progressive genius of the age. And this journal may
proudly say, that all these measures have received the support, and most
of them the early, zealous, and powerful support of the Edinburgh
Review. These measures gained advantages from the advocacy of the
Review, far beyond the intrinsic force of the arguments with which it
supported them; as, indeed, did the party of progress whose oracle it
was. Its brilliant literary reputation shed a luster around the most
radical political opinions, clothing them in bright raiment, and giving
them an introduction into the halls of the learned and the saloons of
the noble. Its numerous articles on liberal and general education,
especially those written by Sydney Smith, are above all praise. And
while it impaled bores and charlatans in literature, and scourged quacks
and villains in the State, it was no less a terror to hypocrites and
oppressors in the Church. But candor must admit, that if it was
generally a terror to evil doers in the name of religion, it was not
always a praise to them that did well.

The ecclesiastical and religious tone of the Review, during the first
twenty years of its existence, was imparted to it mainly by Sydney
Smith. He had a good deal more wit than charity; was not ashamed to
steal his sermons from Taylor, Hooker and Barrow, that he might save
time to shoot sarcasms at Wesley and "the nasty Methodists," and shower
ridicule upon Wilberforce and "the patent Christians at Clapham;" and
seemed to have little reverence for any part of the Establishment which
he defended, except its tithes and its titles. He pleaded for toleration
and emancipation, not so much because Dissenters and Catholics deserved
them, but because to grant them would silence clamor, and more firmly
secure the power and patronage, and exalt the dignity of "the Church."
But, though it breathed a good deal of this spirit, the Review always
contended for religious freedom, and, when need be, was as hearty in its
assaults upon the miter of the primate, and its ridicule of the starched
robes of the bench of bishops, as of ranters and patent Christians.
Sydney Smith hated tyranny, but he loved money; he was a humane man, and
no ascetic or bigot; and it was his superabundant wit, and the ludicrous
light in which almost everything struck his mind, that gave edge to his
sarcasms, and made him seem more uncharitable than he really was. Two of
his articles in the Edinburgh carried through Parliament a bill
extending to all grades of felons the full benefit of counsel when on
trial. Previous to this, counsel, even in capital cases, were not
allowed to address juries in favor of prisoners, and before a poor
wretch could get half through a stammering speech in his own behalf, he
was generally choked off by the judge, that he might be the more
speedily strangled by the hangman. Ah! old Dean Swift humanized; few men
have done more to explode error, shame bigotry, and expose abuses, than

As a political journal, the influence of the Edinburgh Review has, to a
great extent, passed away. Its power and glory culminated during the
administration of Earl Grey. Till then, it shone in unrivaled splendor,
pouring its beams in the path of progress, and shedding more light
around the footsteps of reform than all other like sources combined.
Other luminaries, fresher in their rising, and reflecting the opinions
of the awakened mind of England, have dimmed its fires. It has grown
wayward, timid, conservative, and aristocratic, touching gingerly, and
with gloved fingers, topics which it once handled without mittens. From
the hour it became the organ of power, it ceased to be the herald of the
people. In its decline, it has occasionally roused itself, and struck a
blow for freedom, which revived the memory of the glorious days before
the blight of Conservatism came upon it. It has shared the fate of the
Whigs, and of all Quarterlies, as the organs of political opinion.
Periodical literature has seen a revolution in the public taste.
Quarterlies and Monthlies hardly survived the advent of railways. The
electric telegraph, which can barely keep pace with the revolutions of
parties and states, has made even Weeklies seem stale. The Penny
Magazine defies the Quarterly, and the Daily Press rules the hour. But,
ten thousand thanks to the Edinburgh Review, for ushering in an era
which has made its own existence no longer necessary to the politician
and the statesman.

A brief notice of a few other liberal periodicals will close this

The London Quarterly having failed to destroy the influence of the
Edinburgh, a less stately and more lively periodical was planted on the
spot where the great Whig champion bore sway, to encounter its politics
with the lighter weapons of wit and satire, and dispute its mastery in
the field of polite letters and criticism. Blackwood's Edinburgh
Magazine entered the lists in 1817. Reckoning among its contributors
some of the ripest scholars and rarest wits of the times, it occupies a
first place among literary journals, while able partisans sprinkle its
pages with the spiciest vindications of ultra Tory politics. During the
reform-bill excitement, Tait's Edinburgh Magazine was sent forth as an
antidote to Blackwood. A corps of rare essayists and critics have given
it a highly respectable position in the literary world, and its
political articles, written with vigor and eloquence, have kept pace
with the advancing step of the age.

After several unsuccessful attempts had been made to establish a
permanent Quarterly journal in London, to support the liberal side in
politics, Mr. Bentham and his disciples started the Westminster Review,
in 1824. Leaping into the arena far ahead of the Edinburgh, it drew its
blade in defense of the radicals, and proposed fundamental reforms in
the Constitution of the country. Reflecting the views of its celebrated
founder, it has advocated, with great ability, unqualified suffrage,
freedom of trade, the dissolution of the union of Church and State, the
abolition of the hereditary feature of the House of Peers, the
abrogation of the court of chancery, and a complete remodeling and
codification of the laws of the realm. Bentham, Bowring, Col. Thompson,
and Roebuck have been among its political contributors, and many of its
literary articles have been of a high order. Carlyle has published in it
several characteristic essays. It exhibits more courage and soul than
any of its cotemporaries, and is the most democratic Quarterly in the
kingdom. The Eclectic Review, a periodical devoted rather to
ecclesiastical reforms, though it indulges in literature and politics,
has, under the control of Dr. Price, a distinguished Baptist clergyman,
rendered good service in the cause of philanthropy. Robert Hall and John
Foster, names familiar to scholars and divines in both hemispheres, used
to contribute to its pages. The New Monthly Magazine, under the
editorship of Campbell, and afterward of Bulwer, though chiefly devoted
to literature, espoused the liberal side in politics. For a time it
received the contributions of our accomplished countryman, Mr. Willis.

But, it is not the Quarterly and the Monthly that originate and guide
public opinion. At best, they but follow in its wake. The Weekly and the
Daily trace the channels in which its currents flow. And here we are
launched upon an ocean of periodical literature. From the days of
Wilkes' "North Briton," down to those of Punch's "Charivari," a
constantly swelling mass of newspapers has borne the cause of the People
forward from triumph to triumph. Confining our view to those standing
out of the mass, on peculiar and independent ground, the eye is at once
attracted by the Register and the Examiner--the greatest of their class.
The former was founded by William Cobbett, the latter by Leigh Hunt; the
one uttering the discontents of the lower class of radicals, the other
reflecting the opinions of the higher. Of Cobbett's writings I have
already spoken at considerable length. He was the best exponent of the
wrongs, prejudices and hates of the subterranean strata of English
society, that has ever appeared. The Examiner was established in 1809.
It displayed a much higher order of literary talent than the Register,
but was equally radical in politics, and scarcely less violent in its
attacks on public men and institutions. Hunt was repeatedly prosecuted
by the Government, and lay two years in prison for a libel on that
decoction of treachery and lechery, the Prince of Wales. While in jail,
he composed some of his best poems. The Examiner has always displayed
marked ability and brilliancy, both in its political and literary
departments. While under the editorship of Mr. Fonblanque, a writer of
extraordinary vigor and taste, it ordinarily produced political articles
executed in a style that would have adorned the Edinburgh Review, while
their doctrines were congenial to the progressive genius of the times.
Among its frequent contributors is the intrepid, proud, humane,
eccentric Walter Savage Landor, a poet of keen sensibilities, an ardent
lover of truth and freedom--a man, "take him all in all." Latterly, the
reformatory tone of The Examiner is somewhat modified, but it maintains
its place in the front rank of the weekly literary and political press.
The Spectator deservedly holds a high position in this department of
newspapers. At first it was strongly radical in its politics; but, like
the Examiner, it has latterly abated its tone without diminishing its

Belonging to the same general class as the Examiner and Spectator, are
the various periodicals that have borne the name of Douglas Jerrold. Mr.
Jerrold has written successful melodramas, comedies, and farces for the
theaters; sparkling essays for the classic Blackwood; humorous and
serious tales for the New Monthly; stories and squibs for Punch;
political "leaders" for first-class newspapers; besides sketches,
criticisms, and "articles" without number for the million. Abounding in
wit, sarcasm, humor, pathos, philosophy and fun, there runs through his
writings a large vein of unadulterated humanity, which gives life and
heart to the whole. He wages holy war against fustian literature, sham
statesmanship, sectarian cant, legalized injustice, and titled tyranny.
If England's periodical writers were of his temper and metal, the good
time foreshadowed by Mackay, would soon come, when

  "The pen shall supersede the sword,
  And right, not might, shall be the lord."

Having unexpectedly fallen upon Punch, in connection with Mr. Jerrold, I
will say that that eccentric person deserves honorable mention among
English Reformers. His unparalleled wit is tempered with love to
mankind; his sympathies are with the million; and he displays in his
weekly walk and conversation a great deal more humanity, quite as much
Christian charity, (though far less "religion,") as "The Church of
England Quarterly Review," the organ of High Church Toryism. Punch is
too much of a man to send Mr. Shore to prison, or to excommunicate Mr.

The People's Journal and Howitt's Journal are successful attempts to
mingle tasteful literary essays with radical political disquisitions,
and bring them within the reach of every-day men of business and toil.
Though many accomplished writers contributed to their pages, the
Howitts, who originated the enterprise, were for some time its animating
soul. The educated radicalism of England found an organ in these
journals, whose tone harmonized with their sympathies. High as is Mr.
Howitt's literary reputation, it is as a political and social reformer
that his name will be the most widely known. His "History of
Priestcraft," published in 1834, while he lived in Nottingham, and which
met a sale of some 20,000 copies, gave him eclat in a new field, brought
him some money, which he needed, and an election as alderman of that
town, which he did not want at all. Four years afterward, he published
"Colonization and Christianity," which led to the formation of the
British India Society, to the abolition of slavery in the peninsula of
Hindostan, and to efforts to relieve from oppression and stimulate to
enterprise the myriads that swarm in that long-neglected portion of the
empire. Mr. Howitt's writings in behalf of Complete Suffrage, Religious
Toleration, and Irish Relief, are as honorable to the benevolence of his
heart as are his numerous literary works to the fertility of his genius.

Still confining myself to _quasi_ literary productions, I may mention in
this connection a series of publications, adapted to the means and
capacities of the common people, which, though not specially intended to
promote social and political reform, exerted a powerful influence in
that direction. Chambers' Edinburgh Journal was commenced in 1832; it
consists of papers on literature, science, history and biography, and,
being sold at a cheap rate, reached at one period a circulation of
nearly 100,000 copies. The Society for the Diffusion of Useful
Knowledge, founded in 1825, caused to be prepared, and placed at cheap
prices in the hands of the working classes, numerous publications of the
same general character, but of a higher order, as those of the Chambers;
and it subsequently issued two weekly periodicals, the Penny Magazine
and the Penny Cyclopedia, filled with entertaining knowledge, which
circulated by thousands through all the workshops of the kingdom, and
have found their way to the learned rich and the laboring poor on this
side of the ocean. These publications imparted to the common mind of
England that knowledge which is power, and, in conjunction with the
political press, taught the people the nature and value of their rights,
and inspired them with courage to demand and defend them.

So much for periodical literature. Another department of English
letters, more strictly deserving the name of "Literature," which has
rendered powerful aid to the cause of political reform during the
present century, will be noticed in the next chapter.


     The Liberal Literature of
     Elliott--Horne--Mary Howitt--Eliza Cook--Mackay--Novels--Godwin--
     Holcraft--The Drama--Bage--Scott--Miss Edgeworth--Mrs. Opie--Miss
     Mitford--Mrs. Hall--Miss Martineau--Banim--Lever--Lover--Bulwer--
     Lamb--Hazlitt--Carlyle--Talfourd--Pamphlets--Holland House--French
     Literature and Louis Philippe.

Further notice will now be taken of the liberal literature of England,
after the French revolution. We can enter only on the borders of this
large field. Since the modern "revival of letters," the _Poets_ of
England have furnished their quota of friends of Progress and Reform.

Among the strange theories concerning the regeneration of mankind, to
which the great French convulsion gave birth, was a day-dream of
Southey, Coleridge, and Lloyd, three young geniuses, then sojourning at
Bristol. Having vainly endeavored to make England a republic, by writing
a drama on the fall of Robespierre, delivering a course of lectures on
the French revolution, and publishing two or three seditious pamphlets,
they proposed to leave the kingdom in disgust, bury themselves in the
aboriginal forests on the banks of the Susquehanna, and there erect a
"Pantisocracy," in which property should be held in common, every man be
a legislator, and a model democracy be wrought out, that should
consummate the happiness of its founders, while its reflex influence
cured all the ills of European institutions. Unfortunately for the human
race, the three poets happened just then to fall in with and fall in
love with three tempting young Eves of Bristol, the Misses Fricker, one
an actress, one a mantua-maker, and one a school-teacher; and giving up
their scheme of regenerating the world, they wisely concluded, with
Benedick, that it was better to people it, and so all got married. Thus
ended _their_ "Much Ado about Nothing."

Lloyd sunk into obscurity, Southey atoned for his Susquehanna sins by
spending a long life in hostility to civil and religious freedom, and
Coleridge lived and died a moderate friend of liberty and reform.
Wordsworth early became acquainted with Coleridge and Southey,
participated in their French enthusiasm, and, like them, his first
poetic dreams were of freedom. In one of his earliest productions he
proposes to invoke the restorative aid of the Royal Humane Society in
behalf of crowned heads, as follows:

  "Oh give, great God! to Freedom's waves to ride
  Sublime o'er conquest, avarice, and pride;
  And grant that every sceptered child of clay
  Who cries, presumptuous, 'Here their tides shall stay,'
  Swept in their anger from the affrighted shore,
  With all his creatures sink to rise no more"

Through his long career, the productions of the greatest of the "Lake
Poets" have exerted a calm but steady influence in favor of humanity.

About this time Burns appeared, "whistling at his plouw," and teaching
the world that

  "The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
  The man's the gowd for a' that."

He, too, caught some of his inspiration from France. By force of his
genius, the Scotch yeoman opened his way to the highest rank of
cotemporary poets, carrying with him the sympathies of the class from
which he sprung. No writer is oftener quoted to round a period in a
Reform speech. I have seen a meeting of Scotch Chartists go wild with
enthusiasm under the inspiration of one of his songs. The same year that
Burns became an author, Rogers sent his first volume of poems to press,
of whom Lord Brougham, in his Sketch of Grattan, says: "He is one of the
greatest poets whom this country has produced, as well as one of its
finest prose-writers; who to this unstable fame adds the more
imperishable renown of being also one of the most uncompromising friends
of civil and religious liberty who have appeared in any age."

In 1794, James Montgomery, a name honorably associated with the cause of
humanity, published in the _Sheffield Iris_, a newspaper edited by him,
a ballad on the overthrow of the Bastile, which the Pitt Government saw
fit to regard as a seditious libel. He was prosecuted, convicted,
amerced in a fine, and imprisoned three months in York Castle. The next
year the Government again prosecuted the amiable poet for an analogous
offense, upon which he was again fined and shut up six months at York.
These persecutions did not quench his zeal for human freedom; and
despite a most offensive critique in the Edinburgh Review of his first
volume of poems, he published another in 1807, celebrating the abolition
of the slave trade, which was distinguished for vigor of expression and
richness of coloring. These, and subsequent publications of kindred
character, have given Montgomery an enduring place in the affections of
Christian philanthropists.

At a later period, two poets appeared, who have exerted a wide sway over
the mind, not of Britain only, but of every land where the English
language is spoken--Moore and Campbell. The political tendency of their
writings (and it has been considerable) is on the side of freedom.
Moore's father was of the proscribed sect of Irish Catholics, who, in
the language of the son, "hailed the first dazzling outbreak of the
French revolution as a signal to the slave, wherever suffering, that
the day of his deliverance was near at hand." When Moore was a boy of
twelve, he sat on the chairman's knee at a celebration in honor of the
revolution, when this toast was drank, with three times three: "May the
breezes of France fan our Irish oak into verdure!" The poet has lived to
see the foliage of the oak grow more sere and yellow, though another
breeze from France has swept its branches. But, in all seasons, and when
mixing in the brilliant revelries of London society, the idol of a
devoted band of worshipers, he never ceased to love his native island.
His "Irish Melodies" have inspired a strange sympathy in many climes for
his blighted country, while they have taught Irishmen, in whatever
corner of the earth they wander, to say--

  "Wert thou all that I wish thee--great, glorious, and free--
  First flower of the earth and first gem of the sea
  I might hail thee with prouder, with happier brow,
  But, oh! could I love thee more deeply than now?"

Campbell's poetic offerings to the cause of Polish liberty are in the
school-books of two continents, and have fired the indignation of two
generations of youthful orators at that great European felony, the
partition of Poland, when

  "Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime."

The heroic struggle for Grecian independence animated the classic soul
of Campbell, and he took an active part in rousing European sentiment in
her behalf. And down to the last moment of his life he was proud to give
his cordial support to the cause of liberty and humanity in every part
of the world.

William Herbert, a scion of the ancient houses of Pembroke and Percy, is
still more illustrious as a scholar of rare attainments, and as the
author of "Attila," which the Edinburgh Review has declared the most
Miltonic poem since Paradise Lost. Some of his poetic effusions were
offered at the shrine of freedom; and while a member of Parliament, he
coöperated with Wilberforce in the abolition of the slave trade; and
after withdrawing from politics, and taking holy orders, and reaching
stations of dignity in the Established Church, he gave his influence to
liberal measures, advocating Catholic emancipation and the Reform bill.

The wayward genius of Byron, though it uttered much that good morals
condemn, recorded nothing hostile to political liberty, but, on the
contrary, something in its favor. On the few occasions that he addressed
the House of Lords, he advocated the liberal cause, once vindicating in
manly tones the character and life of Major Cartwright, the father of
Parliamentary Reform. The conflict for Grecian independence, in which
Byron's last days were spent, throws a broad ray of sunshine across the
dark horizon of his career.

But we must dismiss a galaxy of bright names more summarily--some
without mentioning them, others by the briefest allusions. Shelley, the
unfortunate, calumniated, generous, and supereminent son of
genius--Keats, an evanescent being, whose transparent soul was clad too
thin for this prosaic world--Leigh Hunt, the founder of the London
"Examiner," which ought to live forever, and the Italian "Liberal,"
which ought never to have lived at all, a true son of the Nine, whom
Gifford could not kill, though Blackwood Wilson helped him try--Pringle,
who died at the desk of the Anti-Slavery Society, and whose "Afar in the
Desert" Coleridge ranked among the two or three most perfect lyrics in
the language--Robert Nicoll, a Scotch plowman, an ardent and sincere
radical, who, dying at twenty-three, lived long enough to write "The Ha'
Bible," "We are brethren a'," and other poems, not unworthy of that
other Scotch Robert who has canonized plowmen-bards--William Peter, now
British consul for Pennsylvania, a graceful poet, but better known as a
political pupil of the Fox school, a commoner advocating liberal
measures, and the biographer of Romilly--Bernard Barton, the friend and
correspondent of Lamb, a "Quaker poet," whose effusions show calm
reflection and refined feeling, but have none of the strangely pleasing
blending of the war song of the knight templar with the pastoral ballad
of the mountain shepherd, of Peter the Hermit's crusade-preaching with
Virgil the heathen's classic singing, which give life and beauty to the
lays of _our_ Quaker poet--Hood, the prince of punsters, whose "Song of
the Shirt," sung in all climes, and imitated on all themes, dignified
sympathy with seamstresses, who toil twenty-four hours for twelve
pence--Procter, the Harrow chum of Byron, whose "Rising of the North,"
"The Open Sea," and "Touch us Gently, Time," show that Barry Cornwall's
harp can sound at will the highest and deepest, the wildest and the
tenderest notes, and while giving volumes of "morocco and gilt" to the
nobility and gentry, sends "poetry for the people" through Howitt's
Journal--Tennyson, an inspired singer, whose "Princess" is a
reformer--Milnes, who, though a Tory in the House of Commons, always
appeared as a liberal when he entered the Temple of the Muses--Elliott,
whose Corn-Law Rhymes roused a nation to arms against landlord monopoly,
by kindling sympathy with the poor man's lot, and firing indignation
against taxes on his bread--R. H. Horne, a true poet and sterling
reformer, the author of "Orion," the editor of the "New Spirit of the
Age," and a contributor to the People's and Howitt's Journals--Mary
Howitt, whose sex never was permitted to prevent her doing valiant
service for the right in the battles of freedom with tyranny--Eliza
Cook, not unworthy, as a poetess and a reformer, to be associated with
Mary Howitt--Mackay, whose prophecy of the "good time coming" has been
applauded to the echo by voices that would have smothered in hisses the
same sentiments if uttered in prose:--these, and a glorious company
besides, have laid some of the richest gifts, where all genuine poetry
is welcomed, on Freedom's altar.

In this summary, only here and there a star has been pointed out in the
brilliant constellation which has shone in the firmament of freedom,
during the period we are now glancing over. The catalogue of slavery's
poets is not yet published. It must be rather meager. If the poetry of
liberty is inspired by airs from heaven, the poetry of despotism must
rage in blasts from hell. Dante and Milton have given glowing
descriptions of Pandemonium, and put splendid diction into the mouths of
devils; but neither the descriptions nor the diction have won admirers
for the domicil or its denizens, among the inhabitants of high

Some of the _Novelists_ of this period have contributed not a little to
the cause of political reform.

William Godwin, one of the remarkable men of the times, is known not
only as the writer of that extraordinary tale, "Caleb Williams," but of
the "Inquiry concerning Political Justice," a production whose style is
as vigorous as its doctrines are radical, displaying rare originality
and boldness of conception, and breathing the loftiest aspirations for
the well-being of man. "Caleb Williams," which appeared soon after the
"Inquiry," was intended to give wider currency to the author's views of
social and political reform, by clothing them in the attractive colors
of romance. Had Godwin been an ambitious politician, he might have
placed himself at the head of a school of reformers. He chose to be a
philosophical recluse; and in the storm of the French revolution, he
sent out from his retreat breathing thoughts and burning words, that
gave increased life and vigor to the heaving mass of mind around him.
The friend and counselor of Tooke and Holcroft, he was obnoxious to the
Government, but his retired habits saved him from the prosecutions that
periled the lives of his more active associates. His numerous writings,
like those of Jeremy Bentham, whom he in some respects strongly
resembled, while in others no two men could be more dissimilar, have
left abiding impressions on many of the noblest minds of England.

Holcroft imbibed liberal principles during the time of the French
convulsions. He was the writer of several successful plays, among which
was the highly popular "Road to Ruin." He published various novels,
which, on account of their political sentiments, attracted much notice.
As mere romances they belong not to the first rank, the plots and
characters being mere frame-work to hold aristocratic doctrines up to
ridicule, and democratic principles to admiration. The dialogue is often
lively and piquant, and many of the portraits are skillfully drawn. And
in this connection, it may be said that the dramatists of this period
poured some of their rills of philosophy, wit and satire into the
popular channels. Even Rolla's fustian address to the Peruvians, which
sounds like Sheridan's speeches against Napoleon, always stimulated the
galleries to a higher pitch of hatred to tyranny. Colman's comedies made
upstart noblemen and pedantic doctors of laws shade their faces, while
the pit shook its sides with laughter. William Tell launched his arrow
not in vain at Gesler, for George IV came near being shot in the royal
box on an occasion when it was played; and Talfourd and Bulwer, in Ion
and the Lady of Lyons, having disguised democracy in classic robes,
introduced it to the admiration and applause of the dress circle. To
return to novelists. Coeval with Holcroft, Robert Bage, a Tamworth
Quaker, not having the fear of George Fox nor the Attorney General
before his eyes, published some good political novels. He, like the
dramatist, had caught some of the fire of liberty at the general
conflagration of the old order of things in Europe, and he bore his
"testimony" against the bigotry of Guelph and the arrogance of Pitt, in
the form of romances, which, though they fell below Holcroft's, received
the imprimatur of Walter Scott, when he included them in his "Novelist's

The works of the Godwin, Holcroft and Bage school not only introduced a
new era in novel writing, by making fiction the medium of communicating
radical opinions, but they aided in evaporating the rose-water style of
romance, which had so diluted the public taste that "novel" and
"insipidity" had come to be synonymous terms. By and by, the public
appetite was prepared for a more racy and invigorating regimen. Then
appeared the gorgeous but manly and natural historical novels of Scott,
too prone to flatter "blood," wealth, and noble lineage, but wearing an
air of the most genial _bonhommie_, and looking with a brotherly eye
upon humanity in its humblest forms. About the time that Scott was
beginning his Waverley, came the piquant and beautiful stories of Miss
Edgeworth and Mrs. Opie, to be followed by those of Miss Mitford and
Mrs. Hall, who, whether painting life and manners in the cottages of the
lowly or the drawing-rooms of the great, place virtue and philanthropy
in the foreground of the picture. At a later period, the philosophic and
benevolent Miss Martineau, despite the maledictions of the London
Quarterly, admirably succeeded in the till then doubtful experiment of
conveying the principles of politico-economical science to the masses
through the medium of tales and sketches. The English Miss Sedgwick
deserves the thanks of humanity for putting Benthamism into clean purple
and fine linen. Ireland has been prolific in delineators of her
suffering and crimes, jocularities and bulls, both in poetry and prose.
Banim, the author of the _O'Hara Tales_, and other stories, is the
greatest of his class. He paints the times of Ninety-Eight in colors so
vivid that the tragedy leaps living from the canvas. In the
_Nonconformist_ he depicts the evils and cruelties of the Catholic penal
code in figures so graphic and truthful that the veriest bigot can
hardly restrain his indignation at the Protestant oppressors. Lever
places in a strong light the blarney and blunders of the Irish, and his
stories generally begin in farce and end in caricature. Lover puts you
at once into good humor; and, whether you read him, or hear him tell his
stories or sing his songs, he makes you love the genuine Irish
character, and you alternately cry and laugh at its miseries and
drolleries to the end of the volume or ballad. Bulwer's world-read
novels, attractive to the scholastic mind by their acute analysis of
character, and to the poetic temperament by their deep coloring,
though, like Byron's poems, they enunciate a good deal of doubtful
ethics, drawing no very broad line between the morals of plowmen and
highwaymen, yet their political tendencies are decidedly towards
liberalism. But the writer of fiction who has done the most in our day
for his race, is Charles Dickens. He is not merely a novelist, but a
philanthropist, whose overflowing humanity surpasses even his abounding
humor. No right-hearted man ever rose from the perusal of Dickens
without feeling a deeper affection for human nature, a more cordial
contempt for cant and hypocrisy, and a holier hatred of cruelty and
meanness. His Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist have done more to drown
in ridicule and smother in abhorrence the absurd private schools and the
diabolical parish work-houses of England, than the "works" of all the
didactic authors of the kingdom.

Another class of writers have, during the present century, secured a
firm footing within the pale of English literature--the _Essayists_.
Indeed, at one time, it looked as if the new comers would succeed in
excluding everybody from it but themselves. At the head of this class
stand the leading contributors of the Edinburgh Review, of whom Mr.
Whipple has aptly said, "they made reviewing more respectable than
authorship." Jeffrey, for twenty-six years its editor, shed over its
pages a strong, steady, and beautiful light, which tempered and
irradiated the whole. His papers are a rare compend of literary
criticism. Though sometimes more sophistical than philosophical, more
brilliant than profound, and betraying prejudices when he should
elucidate principles, he was, upon the whole, not unworthy to be called
"The Prince of Critics." For a quarter of a century his fiat was law in
far the larger portion of the republic of English letters. Since he left
the throne, many of his canons have been disputed, and some have been
totally annulled. His contributions to the Review, when published in a
separate form, appear more homogeneous, more like a "work," than those
of his brethren who have put theirs to press. Sydney Smith bore
undisputed sway in the realm of wit and sarcasm. Papists, prisoners,
poachers, paupers, school-boys, and chimney-sweepers, owe him a monument
each, for he was their very friend; and if the Pennsylvanians repudiate,
nonconformists might purchase a pension for his heirs with the lawn he
tore from the shoulders of "persecuting bishops." Brougham glared from
the pages of the Review a baleful meteor, striking terror into dunces in
Grub street and charlatans in Downing street, now scorching a poetaster
and then roasting a prime minister, nor quenching his fires till they
had penetrated and lit up the royal harem of Carlton House and Windsor
Castle. Mackintosh made the Edinburgh the medium for exhibiting to the
public eye some of those philosophical disquisitions, laden with the
lore of the school-men, and embellished with the graces of the poets,
which justified the assertion of Robert Hall, that if he had been less
indolent and discursive, he might have attained the first place amongst
modern metaphysicians. Macaulay has been one of the chief literary
attractions of the Review for the last eighteen years. His contributions
are no more _criticisms_ than are his descriptions of the state of
England in 1685, or his sketch of the death-bed of Charles II, in his
recent history. True, he places the title of a book at the head of a
page. But his papers have men for their subjects rather than books, are
essays rather than articles, panoramas of events instead of histories,
living portraits of individuals rather than biographies of the dead.
According to the old standards, they would have been more appropriate in
the history of England than in the Edinburgh Review. But the old
standards have decayed. They are read and imitated in two hemispheres.
The scholar admires their learning, the philosopher their penetration,
the rhetorician their art, the poet their imagery, the million their

And these five are the greatest of the "Edinburgh Reviewers." Freedom
in every part of the world owes them a heavy debt of gratitude.

Passing through a brilliant throng of essayists, each man of whom is
worthy of special note, and stopping barely long enough to say of Lamb
that he is one of the most quaint, humorous, witty, genial, and humane
writers in the language, and of Hazlitt, that he is a mine of diamonds,
all rich and disorderly, brilliant and cutting, but of the first water,
we approach with no little awe and diffidence the strange but not
stranger Thomas Carlyle, "a writer of books." He has done yoeman service
in the conflict with "shams," and has made the bankrupt institutions of
England echo their own hollowness, under the heavy blows of his German
truncheon. The obscurity of his style is often alleged against him. In
many passages, an interlined translation, or a glossary, would be
convenient. But, he is readily understood by those familiar with his
fanciful mode of backing up to a question, rather than going straight
forward to it. His defects seem to lie deeper than the obscurities of
his rhetoric. They pierce through words to things. A vein of profound
reflection pervades much of his writing. But no inconsiderable portion
of it is indebted to his style for its seeming profundity. Straighten
some of his crooked sentences, which, _prima facie_, seem to embrace in
their sinuosities some great idea too awful to be uttered in plain
Saxon, and thus, as it were, having thrown out the meaning, lo, the
matter turns out to be rather commonplace. This is not his worst fault;
for no author is bound to be always saying original or profound things,
and he may be excused sometimes for wrapping up a common idea in
superfine clothing. As a writer on social and political evils--his
chosen field--Carlyle whelms the reader deeper and deeper in the abyss
of wide-weltering wrong--_and there leaves him_. He points out no way of
escape; suggests no remedies. Read his "Chartism," his "Past and
Present," his article in a recent Spectator on "Ireland and Sir Robert
Peel"--and what then? He gives you clearly to understand that the
governmental machine is sadly out of gear--that Poor-Laws are a "sham,"
and Emigration a delusion--that the "_sans-potato_ Irish" are rotting
under bad rule--but what then? Why, so far as Mr. Carlyle tells you,
_Nothing!_ Rot to all eternity, for aught he proposes by way of remedy.
His writings abound in hearty expressions of dissatisfaction with
existing things; in vivid pictures of human suffering, more graphic than
limner ever drew, more startling than poet ever painted; but, trusting
to him, you look in vain for any relief, either for your own excited
feelings, or for the pitiable objects in whose behalf he has aroused
your sympathies. He leads you into a foul morass, tells you it is a
"sham," and as you sink out of sight, surrounded by a mass of smothering
humanity, he cries, "God help you," mounts some transcendental crotchet,
and soars into the clouds. It is suspected that Carlyle has a theoretic
remedy for bad government, but dislikes to disclose it. He has no faith
in Toryism, Whigism, Liberalism, or Radicalism. To him, they are "shams
all." If he belongs to any school, it would seem to be the absolute. He
don't believe in the divine right of kings, though he holds that some
men are born to command. Nor would he give the governed the right of
selecting their commander. He recognizes a sort of intellectual and
moral "might," the possession of which confers the "right" to govern.
The abstract theory may be good; the difficulty is in reducing it to the
concrete. Who is to decide as to the possession of the "might?"
Jefferson would refer the decision to the governed; Nichols would leave
it to the accidents of royal procreation; Carlyle says it belongs
to----who knows what he says? He is a great "Hero"-worshiper, and a good
many of his "Heroes" have been splendid tyrants. He despises imbecility,
but idolizes power. His rather obscure chapter in "Chartism" on "Rights
and Mights" can, with little effort, be turned into a special plea for
absolutism. His eulogistic essay, in the Foreign Quarterly, on Dr.
Francia, "the Perpetual Dictator of the Republic of Paraguay," seems to
disclose the kind of government and governor he glories in. Francia was
a man of intellect and decision, and he was a despot. He erected a
"workman's gallows," to terrify and hang laborers who failed to do their
work well--a "not unbeneficial institution," says Carlyle. A poor
shoemaker made some belts for the Dictator's grenadiers. He did not like
the sample shown to him, though the shoemaker "had done his best."
Francia ordered a rope about the neck of the trembling wretch, calling
him "a most impertinent scoundrel," (a "very favorite word of the
Dictator's," says Carlyle,) and had him marched back and forth under the
gallows, in the momentary expectation of being hung. He was at length
released, half dead with terror. Carlyle remarks upon this, in plain
English, (his admiration for the scene is too intense for a crooked
sentence,) that the shoemaker worked with such alacrity all night, that
his belts on the morrow were without a parallel in South America. The
whole story, drawn out through a page, shows that Francia was a brute;
as, indeed, does the whole article in the Quarterly. Carlyle gloats over
him with wild enthusiasm. But, it is often neither just nor generous to
measure others by our own standards. Every man has his _forte_, his
mission. Carlyle's may be to point out existing evils, while leaving it
to time and plain men to suggest remedies. His gigantic soul sits
enshrouded, to common eyes, in clouds. To his own, it may bask in
sunshine. Honest, humane, mystic, magnificent, the world cannot spare
the great mind of the age, whose calling seems to be to set smaller
minds in motion. Long live this "Writer of Books."

To relieve the picture, let us glance at the anti-counterpart of
Carlyle--Thomas Noon Talfourd. He is one of the brightest and purest
specimens of the _literati_ of England. A lawyer, a poet, a dramatist,
an orator, a statesman, an essayist, he has succeeded in each of these
varied departments. The instances are not unfrequent in which persons
have attained a high place both in politics and literature. Instances
of marked success both in law and literature are extremely rare. The
most striking English examples of the attainment of eminence by the same
individual in the profession of law and the cultivation of literature,
are Jeffrey, Brougham, and Talfourd. The latter has achieved this by the
versatility and elasticity of his genius, unaided by the accidents of
birth, family, or wealth. There is a magnetic philosophy, a classical
witchery, an intoxicating enthusiasm, about his literary productions,
that make him one of the most attractive and delightful of authors. As a
lawyer, he is at home in the grave and studied discussions at _banc_,
and in the showy and extemporaneous contests at _nisi prius_. His
defense of Moxon, the poet bookseller, so foolishly and scandalously
prosecuted, a few years ago, for publishing the works of Shelley, was a
splendid vindication of the right of genius to conceive, and enterprise
to print, some of the rarest productions of the century. His rhetoric,
in the quiet retreat of letters, and his eloquence in the bustling road
of politics, have been employed to instruct, delight and elevate his

There is a department of writing, not yet dignified with the title of
"Literature," which exerts an influence over popular sentiment, second
only to that of the weekly and daily press. It is peculiarly the
offspring of this age, and bears the strong lineaments of its parent. I
will call it the _Literature of Occasional Pamphlets_. In England, the
Catholic Controversy, Parliamentary Reform, Negro Slavery, Chartism, the
Corn Laws, Church and State, General Education, and all those questions
which have moved and do move the nation, have called out a mass of such
literature, which, in intrinsic ability and artistic excellence, will
bear comparison with any cotemporaneous branch of writing. In that
country, and more especially in this, he who does not stock his library
with volumes of selected pamphlets excludes from it some of the most
valuable literature of the nineteenth century.

I cannot close this imperfect view of the liberal literature of
England, without a brief allusion to the peculiar but powerful aid
rendered to it by the late Lord Holland. The nephew of Fox inherited
much of the eloquence, all the democracy, and more than all the love for
learning and the fine arts, of his illustrious uncle. For a third of a
century, which carried England forward a hundred years in the path of
improvement, "Holland House" was the center of attraction for liberal
statesmen, orators, poets, painters, wits, and scholars. Mingling in the
brilliant throngs that so often filled its gorgeous drawing-rooms,
elegant picture-galleries, and ample libraries, were to be seen
statesmen who guided Cabinets, and orators who swayed Senates; men of
letters who had reached the hights of human knowledge, and modest genius
just struggling into notice; poets reposing under the shadow of their
fame, and poets just plucking their first laurel-leaf; sculptors who had
engraven life in the marble, and painters who had impressed beauty on
the canvas; the writer of the first article in the last Edinburgh, and
the author of the best comedy then acting at Drury-Lane; here a Whig
Duke with a long title and a landed air, and there a Radical Editor
under indictment for a seditious libel on the Government; the Duchess of
Sutherland shedding grace around this circle, and Mrs. Opie diffusing
benevolence around that; Buxton, the brewer, discoursing on Prison
Discipline with Bentham, the philosopher; Brougham explaining to a
Polish refugee his plan for educating the people, while Moore delighted
a bevy of belles by singing his last Irish melody; Sydney Smith
enlivening this alcove with his humor, and Mackintosh enlightening that
with his learning--all these varied and diverse elements meeting on
terms of social equality, and impressing upon the literary mind of the
country the all-influential lesson, that, so far from losing caste by
embracing liberal political opinions, the man of letters, of science,
and of art, might find the profession of that faith a passport to
circles where fashion displayed its smiles and power dispensed its



In the foregoing chapters, I have endeavored to trace the rise and
progress of the GREAT BRITISH PARTY OF REFORM, which, adopting such
changes in principle and policy as experience may suggest, will live and
grow till every man has a voice in the election of both branches of the
Legislature that governs him--till the burdens of taxation are
impartially distributed among the people--till the sinecure and pension
rolls are destroyed--till the public debt is paid or repudiated--till
the main reliance for home defense rests with an organized militia--till
the marine of a free commerce has chased the "wooden walls" from the
ocean--till traffic in the land is as free as in the wheat it
grows--till labor, fairly paid, becomes labor duly respected--till every
sect supports its own church and clergy, and none other--till common
schools, drawing nourishment from the bosom of the State, nestle in
every valley--till the precepts of the law are made plain, and its
admistration cheap--till Ireland becomes independent, or is allowed her
just share in the national councils--till the dogma that a favored few
are born booted and spurred, to ride the masses "by the grace of God,"
has had its last day, and the England of the times "when George the
Third was King" exists only in the chronicles of History.

Since these Sketches were commenced, Europe has been the theater of a
series of revolutions and counter-revolutions. France rose, overthrew
the Monarchy, and expelled Louis Philippe. In an evil hour, she thrust
aside Lamartine, to make room for Louis Napoleon. Ireland, having made
an attempt to break her chains, has fallen into the arms of despair.
Austria and Prussia kindled a flame which, for a time, gladdened the eye
of Liberty. The expiring embers have been trodden out by the hoof of the
Cossack. Rome expelled her Dictator, and founded a Republic more
glorious and free than that of antiquity. She died under assassin blows
dealt across the Alps by a professedly fraternal hand. Hungary made a
stand for Freedom which electrified the world. Her immortal Kossuth and
Bem have been compelled to flee to the mountains, while the hordes of
Russia lay waste her plains, and Austria, the meanest of despots, rivets
chains on the limbs of her sons. From this dark and dreary prospect, the
eye turns to the Radical Reformers of Great Britain and Ireland. Acting
through institutions comparatively free, they will by slow but sure
advances yet work out for themselves, and, by the aid of kindred spirits
in other countries, for Europe, the great problem of Constitutional
liberty. In the present aspect of Continental affairs, they, with the
Radical Republicans of France, must be regarded as the rallying point,
the forlorn hope of the struggling masses from the Gulf of Finland to
the Straits of Gibraltar.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note: Obvious punctuation and printer errors have been
silently normalized. Unusual spelling and inconsistent hyphenation have
been left as in the original.

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