History of England, Part III, William and Mary to 1887

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER IV: Victoria - Russell and Palmerston 1846-1865


1. [1] The Conservative host, which had so carefully drilled and successfully led to victory, had now broken hopelessly with its leaders, and for the next twenty years there were three parties in English politics. The Peelites were the small, able, and experienced, but not very popular, party that gathered round the fallen leader. The Protectionists still held together under , , and . The Liberals (a name borrowed from continental politics, more used henceforth than the rather discredited word Whig) now formed the largest single band in the Commons; but they were wanting in unity, owing to the rivalry of and , and the loose party allegiance of the Irish and Radical members. The latter included the shrewd and able, but impracticable


and doctrinaire, Philosophical Radicals, under George , banker and historian, and Sir William Molesworth, and the Manchester Radicals under and , who with much zeal for reform, honest indifference to political clique, and special knowledge in trading questions, were ignorant and careless of foreign policy, and tied down by narrow notions of the business of the state and by middle-class prejudices that made them oppose many measures for the welfare of the people.

The Liberals now formed a ministry, which, however, was not a strong one, nor were its acts brilliant. Yet it kept in office till , and then only broke up through internal quarrels.

[2] Lord John became Prime Minister. He was

" small in stature, slenderly made, and weakly in appearance,"

a poor speaker, but a dexterous tactician, shrewd politician, and a consistent Whig, with fixed though fairly liberal views, but

"miserably wanting in amenity and the small arts of gaining popularity, and with a reputation both for obstinacy and lack of firmness,"

and with no very great claim to the higher meritsof statesmanship. Charles Wood was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Grey Home Secretary, Lord Cottenham Chancellor, and Paymaster. was again Foreign Secretary, and Lord Grey, accepting the inevitable, became Secretary for the Colonies.

2. [3] The first business of the new ministry was Ireland, where the evils of the old cottier system still lived on, and the wretchedness of the people became more extreme with the rapid growth of the population, now mounting up to nearly nine millions. Except in the manufacturing districts of the north-east, and the rich grazing lands of the midlands, the land was filled with hungry peasants, paying a monstrous rent for a miserable patch of potato-ground, always in arrears, and as hopeless as in the old days of the Penal Code. The main food of the cottiers was the potato, because it was the cheapest way of keeping body and soul together. But in the potato crop was a partial failure, and great misery followed. Again in July a sudden blight destroyed the potato crop.

" I beheld with sorrow,"

wrote Father Mathew, the earnest advocate of temperance,

"one wild waste of putrifying vegetation, and the wretched people seated on the fences of their decaying gardens, and bewailing the destruction that left them foodless."

For the rich corn harvest was sent out of the country, while hundreds of thousands were dying like flies, of famine, and of the deadly fever which few of the


starving souls could bear up against. The poets of Young Ireland lamented their pitiable plight:-

" Weary men, what reap ye? Golden corn for the stranger. What sow ye? Human corpses that wait for the avenger. Fainting forms, hunger-stricken, what see ye in the offing? Stately ships to bear our food away and the strangers scoffing. There's a proud array of soldiers. What do they round your door ? They guard our master's granaries from the hunger of the poor."

England was deeply moved by the tale of Irish suffering, and the Government bestirred itself to help the famine- stricken land. But the ministers were ignorant and timid, and afraid of the cry of the Radicals and Economists that State interference with trade and the food-supply went against the teachings of and . So they started relief-works, such as road-making, and paid the workers; but they took care that the roads should lead nowhere, and they left the food-supply to the ordinary traders, who made disgraceful fortunes by speculating in Indian meal and flour. The worn-out victims of famine were forced to waste their scanty strength on useless work, and to drag their weary frames for miles to the nearest shop of the food speculator. The land lay untilled, because better wages could be got from the Government works. All sorts of jobbery went on among the Government officials, contractors, and tradesfolk.

The misery still remained, and famine and fever still raged. In Government dropped its fears of the Economists, and opened soup-kitchens and gave away Indian-corn meal. Ships of any country were allowed to take in corn duty free. Large sums were advanced to the bankrupt boards of guardians, who had been quite powerless to meet the rush of the whole people to the work- houses. Lavish private charity did something more.

[4] All sorts of schemes were now brought forward for permanently improving the state of Ireland. But Government rejected Lord George 's wise scheme for building railways with State money, and did nothing but alter the poor-law in a way that made it the direct interest of the landlords to get rid of the poor from their estates. Many landlords, seeing the cottier system did not pay, set to work to turn out the poor tenants, and turn their little holdings into large farms.

" I have seen,"

wrote a poor-law officer,

"ruthless acts committed by drivers and sub-agents, wretched hovels pulled down when the inmates were helpless from fever and nakedness."

[5] The ignorant and helpless poor



about for weeks or months, burrowing behind the ditches under a few broken rafters of their former dwelling."

England was horrified at such misdeeds, but misplaced regard for the rights of property prevented anything being done to stop the evictions.

[6] The landlords were in many cases almost as badly off as their tenants, and their estates were often so encumbered and mortgaged, that they excused their harshness under the plea of poverty. To prevent this, Government passed in the Encumbered Estates Act, which allowed the broken-down landlord to sell his property, and gave the buyer a parliamentary title. This measure did but partial good, for the new landlords, though richer and more energetic, were quite out of touch with the people. But it sealed the doom of the cottier system, except in the barren highlands of the west, where it still lingers on. Yet the bringing in of English ways and English capital made the Irish more bitter than ever, though the mass of the people slowly but steadily got better off. A vast emigration completed the depopulation which famine and fever had begun. Fever followed the miserable wanderers to the filthy and closely packed emigrant ships. The survivors could not fail to hand down to their children the fiercest hatred of the English name.

3. [7] In a general revolutionary movement upset half the thrones of Europe. Louis Philippe was driven from France, and a republic set up. In Italy the Liberal movement for national unity was revived, headed by a new and reforming Pope, Pius IX., and by Charles Albert, King of . Metternich, the prop of the Holy Alliance, was turned out of office at Vienna, but Hungary rose in revolt under the eloquent and energetic Kossuth. In Germany the Liberals sought unity by getting rid of the princelings, bringing together a Parliament at Frankfort, and wresting sea-girt Schleswig-Holstein from its Danish masters. In Switzerland the Catholic cantons formed the Sonderbund, and went to war against the radical Diet of the Confederation. Popular revolts broke out everywhere.

believed that

"Governments were wise to pursue improvements and remodel their institutions, and that no other state had a right to restrain them in such an inherent attribute of independent sovereignty."

So he strongly favoured the general constitutional and national


movement, and got himself hated by men of the old school as a firebrand and a revolutionary. [8] But his policy of mediation was not very successful. Spain and England broke off diplomatic relations because backed up the Progressistas against Narvaez, the Moderado minister. He failed to prevent war between and Austria, and the defeat of the former at Novara put back the unity of Italy (). But as time went on the Liberal movement became a revolutionary one. A mob rising bathed Paris in blood, and street-fighting went on in half the great cities of Europe. The Pope was turned out of Rome, and a republic set up under the high- souled Mazzini and the fearless, warm-hearted Garibaldi. The worst of the old rulers gave up their thrones to younger and less hated kinsmen. In great alarm Frederick William IV. of Prussia backed out of the national movement in Germany. Russia helped Francis Joseph, the new Austrian Emperor (his uncle Ferdinand I. had resigned), to restore his despotic rule in Hungary. Reaction followed revolution, and the national and Liberal cause seemed undone. At last Austria got back its hold on Italy, and Germany returned to the obedience of its many rulers. Finally a needy and cunning adventurer, Louis Napoleon, the son of Hortense Beauharnais, and Louis, sometime King of Holland, I.'s brother, had got himself elected President of the French Republic, upset the Constitution he had sworn to observe, murdered or imprisoned his chief opponents by the coup d'etat of 2d December , and brought in a military despotism, under a ring of vulgar fortune-hunters of the lowest type, headed by his half- brother Morny, which was acorrupt copy of the worst side of the great Emperor's reign. was so disgusted with revolutions ending in anarchy that, in his jaunty way, he privately expressed the fullest approval of what had been done. But it is hard to draw a line between a minister's private and official acts, and he practically pledged the Queen, the Cabinet, and the nation to approving perjury, robbery, and violence. was delighted at his rival's mistake, for had long disgusted Queen and colleagues by acting entirely on his own authority. The Prince disliked his anti-German policy in backing up Denmark in the Schleswig-Holstein affair (). His high-handed, blustering blockade of the Peiraeus in , because the king of the Hellenes had seized on the garden of the historian Finlay, and the Athens mob had sacked the


house of Don Pacifico, a Gibraltar Jew, had caused general disgust. In August the Queen had drawn up a memorandum insisting that he should always state what he proposed to do, and not alter measures after she had given them her sanction. The fresh offence was unpardonable. was superseded by Lord , and went out complaining loudly that



had given way to the Queen and the Prince."

4. [9] The revolutionary wave had spread to the United Kingdom, and the Chartist and Young Ireland parties excited alarm among peaceful folk. In there had been a severe Commercial Crisis, brought about by over-speculation, especially in railway shares. In the Chartists summoned a great meeting for 10th April on Kennington Common, and the Government feared a riot. But very few people appeared, and Feargus lost heart and did nothing. Five days later an enormous petition was sent in to Parliament, but on examination the signatures proved largely fictitious. The double failure overwhelmed the Chartists with ridicule. They soon dropped altogether out of notice, for improved trade and higher wages took the worst sting from the discontent that animated them. Equally laughable was the collapse cf the Young Ireland patriots. They were already splitting up into sections, and had quarrelled with . John Mitchel, in his paper , was all for extreme measures, and was prosecuted and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. But

"of the sword"

and Smith , who were tried along with him, being acquitted, made a feeble attempt at a rising, and, in July , were taken prisoners, tried, and condemned to death as traitors, though their sentences were afterwards remitted. Thus England weathered the storm that had overthrown so many foreign states.

5. [10] In the first Great Exhibition of all nations was held in a vast iron and glass structure in Hyde Park, largely through the efforts of the Prince Consort, and every one talked of the reign of peace and commerce that was at hand, though really a long series of wars was just beginning. But England went half-mad because the Pope in appointed bishops with titles from names of English towns to look after the English Roman Catholics, and passed in an abortive Ecclesiastical Titles Bill to prevent it, which when the panic died away everybody agreed to ignore. The


establishment of another Buonaparte in France led to afear of invasion. So in February brought in a bill to strengthen the militia. But , now out of office, seeing in its details a chance of revenging himself on his old colleagues, carried an amendment against them, and forced them to resign.

"I have had my tit-for-tat with John



he boasted to his brother;

"I turned him out on Friday last."

6. [11]  was not strong enough to form a ministry himself. The Peelites, though very able men, had too small a following, and himself had died in , from a fall from his horse. The Protectionists (now generally called the Conservatives, as the Peelites grew more and more Liberal) were left. They were led by (now Earl of Derby) and , for had died suddenly in . They were now called into place, though new to official life, and, except the two leaders, not thought to possess much ability. Derby was now Prime Minister, and, to every one's astonishment, Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the Commons.

The new ministers were in a minority, and held office by the favour of . So they went to the country, but the new election hardly altered the balance of parties. Still they might hope to hold on through their opponents' weakness. At first it was feared that they would bring back the Corn Laws, and the Anti-Corn Law League was revived at . Charles Villiers moved in the new Parliament a resolution in favour of free-trade, almost insulting to the Government. But was rapidly showing that he had to be taken seriously, and was too wise to go back on what had been done, so that, after had got the offensive words left out, Villiers' resolution was taken up by Government. But Whigs and Peelites joined together in bitterly attacking 's fanciful yet clever budget.

" I am attacked by a Coalition,"

cried ;

"but England does not love Coalitions, and your triumph will be short."

A stern and earnest speech of 's turned the wavering majority against the Government, and on 16th December the ministry resigned. A month before, the body of had been borne in solemn pomp to its grave beside in St. Paul's. A fortnight before, the Prince President of the betrayed French Republic had got himself proclaimed Emperor, under the title of

7. [12] It was time to put an end to governments on sufferance, so the Queen sent for Lord Aberdeen and Lord Lansdowne, and it was agreed that a strong Coalition Ministry should be formed of Peelites and Whigs.

"This is the realisation of the country's and our own most ardent wishes,"

wrote Prince ,

" and it deserves success."

The Peelites mustered strong. Aberdeen became First Lord of the Treasury. He was an accomplished, able, and high-minded man, a great traveller and writer, candid, courageous, and experienced, but lacking in spirit, firmness, resource, elasticity, and knowledge of character. Under him were


, Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Duke of


, Colonial Secretary; Sidney


, Secretary- at-War; Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty, and


, President of the Board of Trade. Of the official Whigs, John


was Foreign Secretary and leader of the Commons, and the venerable Lord Lansdowne sat in the Cabinet without office. In



gave up the Foreign Secretaryship to Lord


. The Radicals were pleased by Sir William Molesworth being First Commissioner of Works.


came back as Home Secretary, an office he cared little for, yet took because he thought England wanted a strong Government.

8. [13] 's followers now strove to follow in their master's footsteps as financiers and reformers. proved himself a worthy disciple of Sir Robert by his brilliant budgets and masterly budget speeches. The budget of was, says Greville,

" a great scheme, boldly, skilfully, and honestly devised, and has raised


to a great political eleva- tion."

Further strides were now made towards free-trade, though 's schemes for converting the debt were failures, and the country party cried out against his increase of the malt tax. Suddenly war broke out and cut short his projected reforms, and all he now could do was to try to meet the extraordinary expenses without borrowing. In a University Reform Act was passed, which reorganised the constitution of Oxford and Cambridge, widened the studies, strengthened the teaching body, threw open the endowments, dethroned the Heads of Colleges from their absolute position, and to some extent let in Dissenters. A new Reform Bill was brought forward. But the outlook abroad turned men's minds from reforms at home.

9. Clouds had again gathered in the East. A fierce dispute broke out between the Greek and Latin clergy as to the guardianship of the Holy Places in Palestine. Russia backed up the Orthodox, while France protected the Catholics.


At last the Turks, from hatred of Russia, leant to the Latin side, and the Catholics were allowed the custody of the key of the Holy Sepulchre, and the right of putting the silver star in the Chapel of the Nativity at Bethlehem. But Russia was disgusted, and her ill-will to France and Turkey revived the whole Eastern question.

For many years the Czar Nicholas had sought to get the Powers to agree to some sort of partition of the Turkish empire.

" We have on our hands,"

said he,

"a sick man-a very sick man. It will be a great misfortune if he slip away from us, especially before all necessary arrangements have been made."

But England and Austria had at different times rejected his advances, fearing lest Russia should grow too powerful. Nicholas now saw in the dispute about the Holy Places a chance to further his plans, and sent Prince Menshikov, a strong old-Russian of rough and overbearing manners, on a special embassy to Turkey. But the English ambassador, Stratford , the cousin of George , and since Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, was a man of vigorous will and great subtlety of mind. He outwitted Menshikov altogether, and in May the Russian left Constantinople, disgusted at the failure of his mission. Russia now occupied Moldavia and Wallachia, the so-called Danubian Principalities, then vassals of Turkey, now the free kingdom of Roumania. A conference at Vienna in July resulted in the Vienna Note being drawn up by Austria, Prussia, England, and France, which suggested plans to settle the dispute. But Louis Napoleon saw in the quarrel a chance of establishing his throne and winning easy glory, and , ever restless and mistrustful of Russia, urged on Aberdeen and the Peelites, who were eager for peace but ignorant how to get it. A closer alliance was formed between England and France, who now took up a more energetic line than Austria and Prussia. The English and French fleets steamed eastwards, and, on Russia finally rejecting the Vienna Note, entered the Dardanelles (October 22). Thereupon Russia fell upon a Turkish squadron of frigates at Sinope and destroyed them all. In January the allied fleets passed into the Black Sea.

10. The half-hearted and divided ministry thus drifted into war, despite the

" excessive and self-defeating love of peace"

of Aberdeen and . and stoutly denounced the war, but English opinion was


strongly for fighting, and the leaders were not listened to, as they were believed to hate all wars, regardless of the particular circumstances, because they stopped millowners getting rich. [15] Russia refused to recross the Pruth, and England and France assembled a great army at Varna. The English were led by Lord Raglan, who, as Lord Fitzroy Somerset, had been 's aide-de-camp and secretary, and had married his niece. But though upright, honourable, judicious, and careful, he was

"schooled by long years of flat office labour"

into routine. The French were under Marshal Saint-Arnaud, a bold, gay, vain, and unscrupulous adventurer.

The stubborn defence of the Turkish strongholds on the Danube checked the advance of the Russians, who, fearful of Austria falling on them in flank, had to recross the Pruth. Their Black Sea fleet had fled into Sebastopol without a fight, and the dashing, vain-glorious Sir Charles Napier had chased their Baltic fleet into Cronstadt, where, as at Sebastopol, they were safely protected by heavy shore batteries from the unarmoured ships and weak naval artillery of the day.


Invasion of the Crimea 1854.

The demands of the Vienna Note were now secured, but the war fever, fanned by those early successes, had now risen high in England, and the Cabinet, urged on by the sanguine and eager


, thoughtlessly ordered the invasion of the Crimea, the large peninsula jutting out into the northern waters of the Black Sea,

"a wilderness of steppe or of mountain range, clothed with tall, stiff grass and a fragrant herb like southernwood,"

inhabited by peaceful Tartars, but militarily important from the new fortress and naval station of Sebastopol, a little to the west of its southern point, from which Russia sought to rule the whole of the Black Sea lands.

Battle of the Alma, 20th Sept.

The armies at Varna, already terribly weakened by cholera, were by a mighty effort carried over the Black Sea, and landed near Eupatoria, on the west coast of the Crimea, far to the north of Sebastopol. Their equipment and supplies were for an expedition rather than a campaign. As they drew near the little river Alma on their march to Sebastopol, they found the uplandsbeyond the stream held by a Russian force, inferior in numbers but strong in position. On 20th September the allies assailed the heights. The brunt of the fighting fell on the English, who were on the left, and had opposed to them the mass of the Russian troops; for Menshikov, the Russian general, had trusted the steep cliffs would stop the French advance nearer the sea, and had set most of his forces against the English. For a long time the valour and steadiness of the Russian infantry withstood the badly-directed English assault; but at last good luck and hard fighting turned the fortunes of the day, and the Russians drew back,

leaving few trophies of victory. The sluggishness of the French prevented any pursuit; but the battle opened the road to Sebastopol.

The bold but wise plan of a sudden attack on the unprotected north side of Sebastopol was given up, and by the long flank march the allies struck on the southern coast of the Crimea, the English making for the narrow harbour of Balaclava, while the French, commanded by the irresolute Canrobert after Saint-Arnaud's death, occupied as their basis the more roomy Kasach Bay. But the plan of a sudden attack was again unwisely given up; and the allies, all unprepared as they were for a long stay in enemies' territory, got ready for a regular siege.


Sebastopol besieged.

Menshikov left to itself the doomed fortress, and took up a position outside very threatening to the English, while the sailors of the destroyed Russian fleet, headed by the enthusiastic Kornilov, did their best to defend a town only half fortified, but growing every day stronger through the marvellous military genius and energy of the engineer Colonel



Balaclava 25th Oct.

It was not till 17th October that the allies' batteries were in position and the bombardment begun. But they did little execution. Menshikov now sent a great force to attack Balaclava, to the north of which was fought on 25th October a curious battle,

" consisting of five several combats not effectively brought into one by any pervading design."

The Russians drove the Turks from three redoubts, situated on or near the narrow ridge, along which ran the Vorontsov road, which were the outer defences of the English camp, and pushed on to the narrow pass of


Kadikoi. The heavy cavalry, under General Scarlett, hurried through the South Valley to defend the pass, but on their way they saw the whole Russian horse, ten times their strength, descending the causeway ridge into the valley. Scarlett at once turned about and charged.

"The dark grey Russian column swept down in multitudinous superiority of numbers on the red-clad squadrons. There was a clash and fusion, as of wave meeting wave, all those engaged being resolved into a crowd of individual horsemen, whose swords rose and fell and glanced. Then almost in a moment the whole Russian mass gave way and fled beyond the hill, vanishing behind the slope five minutes after they had first swept over it."

Seeing what cavalry could do, Raglan ordered the light cavalry to charge the lost redoubts; but the rash, self-willed Lord Lucan misunderstood his orders, and sent the six hundred troopers of the Light Brigade right through the North Valley, both sides of which were held by the enemy, towards the Russian army, drawn up under the shelter of the batteries at its east end. After a wonderful display of valour, they were forced back, cruelly cut up. Such deeds filled the English with confidence and the Russians with fear; but it is not thus that campaigns are won. Yet it was almost the same story over again when, in the darkness and mist of the early morning of 5th November, the Russians in Sebastopol made a general attack on the besieging lines, but especially against the hill of Inkerman and its garrison of Guards, on the English right.

Inkerman 5th Nov.

It was a soldiers' battle, fruitful in heroic deeds and stupid blunders.

"The scanty and unsupported line of skirmishers,"

wrote an eye-witness,

" drove the dense mass of Russians back over the hill; not once, but many times. When our men's ammunition failed they fought with the bayonet and butt-end, and even with stones. Every man fought for his own hand. Generalship there could be none whatever. British steadiness and bull-dog courage did it. The result was to be seen in the fearful mass of the Russian dead."

But even after their victory the allies shrunk from an assault, preferring the long winter siege.

The Winter Siege 1844-55.

On 14th November a terrific storm wrecked the transports, bearing ammunition and warm clothing, and the wicked, but unpunished, incompetence of the home authorities left the troops unprepared to face the bitterest of winters. It was found impossible to shut off Sebastopol from communication with the army outside, which pressed so hardly on the besiegers that they were almost as much on the defensive as attacking. The land transport broke down altogether, though it was but ten miles from Balaclava to the front. Sickness worked more havoc than the Russian bullets, and in January


there were hardly 11,000 English soldiers fit for fighting.

" Fancy being thirty-six or forty-eight hours in the trenches at a stretch,"

wrote Miss Florence Nightingale, the noble soldiers' nurse at Scutari,

"lying down, or half-lying down, with no food but raw salt pork sprinkled with sugar, rum, and biscuit, because the exhausted soldier could not collect fuel to cook his food; and fancy the army preserving courage and patience, and being still eager to be led to the trenches."

In the spring of


a conference at Vienna failed to make peace, and the Emperor Nicholas and Lord Raglan died. In May

Victor Emanuel

, King of


, anxious to improve his position in Europe, joined the Alliance against Russia, and sent a fine detachment

of troops to the Crimea.

Fall of Sebastopol, Sept. 1855.

In August French and Sardinians beat the Russians at the Battle of the Chernaya, and foiled their plan for raising the siege. Meanwhile the lines drew nearer the doomed city. In September the French, under Macmahon (afterwards beaten at Sedan, and President of the Third Republic), carried the Malakov redoubt, the key of the defences, in a gallant rush, though the English were driven back with great loss in their assault on the Redan. The Russians silently evacuated the town without the allies' knowledge, and Sebastopol, no longer tenable, surrendered on 8th September. This brought the war to an end, for the heroic resistance of Kars, under Williams, put a check to the Russian advance in Asia Minor.

12. Every party had lost so much and gained so little that peace negotiations were renewed in September, and, despite some risk from the double-faced policy of Austria, and the tortuous self-seeking of our chief ally, led to the Peace of Paris in March .

Peace of Paris, 1856.

Its conditions were-(1) The Black Sea was neutralised; all trading ships were admitted, but no ships of war, even of the powers holding its coasts. (2) Sebastopol was not to be kept up. (3) Turkey was admitted to the public law of Europe. (4) The Sultan confirmed his oft-broken promises of more freedom to his Christian subjects. (5) The Danube navigation was opened. (6) All conquests were restored. (7)England gave up her old Admiralty claims, and allowed a neutral flag to cover enemies' goods, save contraband of war. (8) In return, blockades were to be recognised only when effective; and (9) Privateering was abolished by all the European powers.

An unsatisfactory peace ended an unfortunate war. England was right in withstanding the advance of Russia, but she undertook a hopeless task in trying to patch up Turkey, and played unconsciously the game of the French Emperor rather than her own. The great lesson of the war was the worthlessness of our military system ; the only consolation the patient valour of our troops.

13. [24] The mismanagement of the war had already brought about the fall of the Coalition. Newspaper correspondents laid bare to the English public the sufferings of the army, and the ministers were made the scapegoats of its righteous indignation. [25] The whimsical self-willed Roebuck moved, on 29th January , that a committee should be chosen to inquire into the state of the army and the war departments. Lord John threw up his office, declaring the motion could not be met. After this the Government was beaten by the overwhelming majority of 157.

14. [26] For some days the country remained without a Government. Derby and sought in turn to build up a ministry, and failed. At last the Queen sent for , for whom people had long been clamouring as the one man strong and determined enough to head a war ministry. easily got together a Government. It was almost the same as the old one, only Aberdeen and retiring before the storm of popular indignation. But 's spirit was very different to Aberdeen's, and the new War Secretary, rough, hard-working Lord Panmure, ably seconded his efforts.

" I am backed,"

boasted ,

"by the general opinion of the whole country, and I have no reason to complain of the least want of cordiality or confidence at Court."

Yet his troubles were not over. On 22d February the Peelites, Graham, , , and , resigned because insisted on appointing Roebuck's committee. But the Cabinet gained in vigour and unity by getting rid of its half-hearted members. now came back to office, and Sir George Cornewall Lewis became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thus ended the crisis in which few but behaved straight- forwardly. Well might Prince write,

"Things have gone mad here, and the political world is quite crazy,"

and that

"Parliamentary government was on its trial."

But the new Whig ministry at last brought the war to a successful conclusion, though , now reduced to play second part to , again threw up his office in disgust at the strong and just criticisms passed on his disgraceful indiscretions as English representative at the Vienna conference.

's position was now very strong. He grew more and more careless of political changes, though he was anxious to make people more comfortable, and Prince , now more popular and better understood, did his best to spread culture and enlightenment.

15. [27] In there were wars with Persia and China. The Chinese War sprang out of the demand of the English to the Chinese at Canton to give up the Lorcha (coasting schooner) Arrow, which they had seized. This brought up other questions, and England again waged war on China. But the Peelites, the Conservatives, and , all joined in voting for 's motion that there was no satisfactory ground for the violent actions of the Government.


was beaten, but he appealed to the country against what he called the

"fortuitous concourse of atoms"

that had driven him out, and a large majority of his followers were returned to the new Parliament, the Peelites and the Manchester Radicals in many cases losing their seats (April ). Canton was now bombarded, and in the Treaty of Tientsin opened more ports to English trade, and established an ambassador at Pekin. Yet in war broke out again. England and France now joined together, and their warships were driven back with disaster from the forts at the mouth of the Peiho river. In England and France sent enough troops to thoroughly beat the Chinese, who were now forced to confirm the Treaty of Tientsin. In the years and England was horrified by the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny (see Book XI. Chapter I.). But it was put down, and British , taken from the rule of the Company, annexed to the Crown.

16. [28] Early in the Italian refugee Orsini sought to murder Napoleon III. by throwing explosive bombs into his carriage. The plot had been hatched and the bombs made in England, and the French clamorously pressed for an alteration of the law which made such things possible. , to oblige his ally, brought in the Conspiracy to Murder Bill. But an outcry was raised that England should abandon her right of asylum and alter her law at the bidding of a foreign despot. The Conservatives, Peelites, and Radicals defeated the Government, and resigned in disgust.

17. [29] An attempt was made to unite the Peelites and the Conservatives, but they had now drifted very far asunder, and Derby had to make the very best ministry he could out of his parliamentary minority. Yet the skill and resource of , again Chancellor of the Exchequer, kept it in office all through the session. But the Reform Bill, brought in in February as a Conservative bid for popular support, was badly received. 's

"fancy franchises,"

which wisely sought to give votes to people of property and education, even if they were not householders, were laughed at as whimsical and over-refined. The ministers were beaten. An appeal to the country met with little response. The new Parliament, on the motion of Lord Hartington, declared it had no confidence in them, and in June Derby gave up office.

18. [30] 's and 's constant strife

"which was to smell first at the nosegay,"

made it awkward for the Queen to send for either, and the Prince, as ever, gravely distrusted . But Lord 's attempt to make a ministry failing, the time came for 's final triumph. The Second Ministry lasted until his death, and included both Whigs and Peelites, now almost welded together into a single Liberal party, of which the Peelites were in some ways the advanced half. But it was a

"ministry of repose."

's easy ways kept the earnest reformers in check.


was now First Lord of the Treasury,


President of the Council,


Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lewis Home (afterwards War) Secretary,


Colonial Secretary,


Foreign Secretary, and


War Secretary. The crafty, keen- tongued Bethell was first Attorney-General and afterwards Chancellor as Lord Westbury.

19. [31] Foreign affairs were again very threatening. In the restless ambition of the French Emperor found scope in a war against Austria on behalf of Italian unity. He formed an alliance with , king of since , who, guided by his great minister Cavour, was as eager as his predecessors to put himself at the head of the Italian national party. But after Louis Napoleon had driven Austria out of Lombardy by his great victories at Solferino and Magenta, he made an armistice, which left Venetia to its German rulers, and betrayed the Italian patriots. But the Liberals in Tuscany, Parma, Modena, and Romagna had already chased away the petty despots who ruled under Austrian control, and were now bound together with and Lombardy in a compact Northern Italian Kingdom. had to pay dearly for French help by handing over the county of Nice, Garibaldi's birthplace, and Savoy, the cradle of his own house, to the selfish Emperor. A little later Naples and Sicily rose under the heroic Garibaldi against their Bourbon tyrants, and, through Cavour's clever diplomacy, were joined to 's kingdom before any foreign interference could prevent it. Save Austrian Venice and the district round Rome still misgoverned by the papal officials, the house of Savoy now ruled over a united Italy ().

watched with delight the triumph of the Italian cause. But he was at last angered at the subtle


intrigues of his old friend Louis Napoleon, who was more than suspected of a wish to invade England. [32] In the Conservatives had started the Volunteer movement, which soon brought together nearly 200,000 zealous citizen soldiers, though at first the ignorant contempt of the war department left them poorly trained and little organised. also strengthened the army and navy. Bit by bit the invasion panic wore away, as it again suited Napoleon to profess friendship, and a Commercial Treaty was successfully negotiated by (), who looked upon it as the triumph of his amiable but visionary notions of binding nations together by the brotherhood of trade.

[33] In November the death of King Frederick VII. of Denmark re-opened the Schleswig-Holstein question. Christian IX. of the House of Glucksburg (whose daughter Alexandra had a little before married the Prince of Wales) became King of Denmark, but the German Liberals strove to set up Frederick of Augustenburg as Duke of German Schleswig-Holstein, from which the Danes were now seeking to take away Schleswig to bring it into the Danish kingdom. War broke out. Prussia was now ruled by the soldierly William I., brother of the weak Frederick William IV., and by his trusty minister Count Bismarck, who joined to aristocratic and conservative notions at home the strongest love of German unity and the shrewdest ideas how best it could be furthered. Bismarck got Austria and Prussia to make war on Denmark in order to carry out the old ideas of , and bring the Duchies under German rulers. The Danes looked for help from England, but Lord John advised them to yield up all the really German parts. On their doing this they naturally expected to be helped in their defence of Danish Schleswig north of the Schley. But they leant on a rotten reed. In June an overwhelming Austrian and Prussian force conquered the Duchies, which were ceded to them by the Treaty of Vienna. The

"meddling and muddling"

of the English Government had brought on it great discredit, not lessened by the useless remonstrance which it addressed to Russia for its conduct in putting down the Polish revolt in . Talk not backed up by acts only led to contempt.

20. The same weakness marked English dealings with America, rent asunder since by the great civil war, in which the Southern States sought to break from the Union


and form a new Confederation to uphold slavery. [34]  England professed strict neutrality, but the northern Federals thought ministers were over quick to recognise the Confederates as belligerents, and were indignant at the ignorant sympathy so generally shown in England for the South, which many believed with had now been made an independent nation. Very bad feeling was produced when the United States officer Wilkes took the Confederate envoys Slidell and Mason by force out of the English mail steamer Trent; an act so manifestly against international law that the Americans were forced to apologise and give up their prisoners, though not before English troops had been massed in Canada. The Americans complained of the slackness of the English that allowed Confederate privateer cruisers, such as the Alabama, to be built in English dockyards to prey on their commerce. When in the heroic and unexampled efforts of the North had restored the imperilled Union, there was still much bad blood between the two peoples. Another result of the war was the Cotton Famine in , a time of terrible distress for the factory hands, whose supply of raw cotton had been cut off by the blockade of the Southern ports. But this led to the growth of cotton in and Egypt, while the destruction of the American merchant marine took away England's only serious rival for the world's carrying trade.

21. [35] All through these years foreign affairs called away England's attention from domestic reforms. In brought forward a Reform Bill, with provisions for minority representation; but it was so coldly received that he withdrew it in disgust. Westbury the Chancellor vigorously reformed the law of bankruptcy, and began the consolidation of the criminal law. He had set his heart on codifying the whole of English law, but before he could bring this about he was turned out of office for jobbing his friends into appointments. But the old Prime Minister carefully kept down his eager followers, who fretted at his sluggishness but dared not revolt against him. , now the recognised leader of the ardent reformers, was looked upon by with special distrust.



will soon have it all his own way,"

said the old man to a kinsman;

"whenever he gets my place we shall have strange doings."

But 's series of brilliant budgets, which bit by bit removed


the chief remaining restrictions on trade, and made the scale of duties still left much simpler, brought very great credit to the Government, 's Commercial Treaty helping forward the same ends. Yet in 's proposal to repeal the Paper Tax was thrown out by the Lords, the venerable Lyndhurst pleading with much ingenuity that they were within their rights in doing so. A violent quarrel of the two Houses was avoided by the good sense and tact of . The times were very prosperous, and the revenue advanced

"by leaps and bounds,"

though tax after tax was given up.

[36] , now eighty-one years of age, died on 18th October . He had first taken office and a seat in the Commons in , but he kept his freshness to the last. In his prime he was a tall, well-dressed, and exceedingly handsome man, who, with apparently idle habits, got through a great deal of work, shining in society and actively interested in the turf and in field sports, besides keenly enjoying his work as a politician. His best points were his strong will, lofty courage, energy, cheerfulness, and kindliness,; but he was lacking in seriousness and high principle, excessively self-confident, and too much given to flippancy, bad jokes, and bluster. But he honestly believed England the greatest country in the world, and strove, often by very questionable means, to uphold what he regarded as her honour and interests. With all his faults he was the most interesting personality in English politics in the dreary time between the fall of and the rise of and into power and pre-eminence.

[37] With died the chief influence for delay within his party. In December the sudden death of the Prince Consort from fever took away the greatest moderating influence between party and party. He had lived down most of his early unpopularity, through the unselfish zeal with which he had advocated everything likely to improve the condition of the people, and the nation joined heartily with the Queen in lamenting her irreparable loss.

22. The death of ends the period that began with the Reform Bill of . It was a time of middle-class ascendency, and the strong and weak points of the English middle class are brought out clearly in the history of the period. It begins with a great and far-reaching movement for reform which alarmed many. But the old governing


classes went on ruling much as they had done before, and soon proved that the new masters were no revolutionaries.

[38] Within ten years of the Reform Bill a Conservative party, with new cries, harmonising with the new electors' feelings, formed the strongest and most solid Government of the period. But the interests of the country districts and the towns soon came into violent conflict, with the counter-cries of

" Help the farmer and landlord to keep up English agriculture,"


" Give cheap bread to the workman and factory hand."

Middle-class Conservatism now split up between Protectionists and Peelites, and power came back to the Liberals, through little merit of their own. Henceforward the Liberals kept in power, for the gallant efforts of to build up a new Conservatism did not appeal to the plodding minds and limited sympathies of the average tradesman and manufacturer. But the old desire to let things alone now overcame the aged leaders of the victorious Liberals. At last was found to bring all parties together. The

"Tory chief of a Radical Cabinet"

(this was 's apt description of him) kept his followers in check, and won the support of his opponents, who saw in him the strongest Conservative force of the time. In despair, the fiercer Liberals, chafing under his yoke, planned far-reaching changes and thoroughgoing reforms. In equal despair of the ruling classes, the Conservative leader appealed from the middle to the working classes, whom he hoped to find more ready pupils for his new Toryism. Now begins the transition to democracy, which all parties helped on, though none with full knowledge of what they were doing. The twenty years that follow are occupied with the working out of this movement. It is a time full of changes and stirring events: new problems are more earnestly discussed, and strong efforts made to probe to the bottom the source of national evils. We have now to see what was the direction of this new development, but as we get nearer our own time we can only hope to understand the general bearing and outside history of events. Not till this generation has passed away can their inner meaning be clear.


[1] State of Parties, 1846.

[1] [1846-1847.]

[2] The Russell Ministry, 1846-52.

[3] The Potato Famine of 1845-47.

[4] Results of the Famine.

[5] The Clearances.

[6] The Encumbered Estates Act, 1849.

[7] The year of Revolutions, 1848.

[8] Palmerston's Policy and Fall, Dec. 1851.

[1] [1848-1852.]

[9] Chartism and Young Ireland, 1848.

[10] Fall of the Russell Ministry, 1852.

[11] The first Derby-Disraeli Ministry, Feb.- Dec. 1852.

[12] The Coalition Ministry of Peelites and Whigs, 1852-55.

[13] Finance and Reforms, 1853-54.

[14] The Eastern Question revived, 1851-54.

[1] [1854.

[15] The Crimean War, 1854-56.

[24] Fall of the Coalition, Jan. 1855.

[25] Roebuck's Motion.

[26] The Palmerston War Ministry, 1855-58.

[27] The Chinese War and the Elections of 1857.

[28] The Fall of Palmerston, Feb. 1858.

[29] The Second Derby-Disraeli Ministry, 1858-59.

[30] Palmerston's Second Ministry, 1859-65.

[31] Italy, 1859-61.

[32] France, 1859-60.

[33] Schleswig-Holstein, 1863-64.

[1] [1861-1865.]

[34] The American Civil War, 1861-65.

[35] Legal and Financial Reform, 1860-65.

[36] Death and character of Palmerston, 1865.

[37] Death of Prince Albert, 1861.

[1] [1865-1867.]

[38] The period of Middle-Class Ascendency, 1832-66.

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