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

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

1898

CHAPTER V: Victoria - Gladstone and Disraeli, 1865-1887

1. [1] , who since had sat in the Lords as Earl , succeeded as Prime Minister. His place as leader of the Commons was taken by , burning with reforming zeal and

"unmuzzled,"

as he boasted, since his recent rejection as member for Oxford University. A terrible cattle-plague now wrought havoc among the farmers; while on Black Monday, 11th May , a Commercial Panic spread ruin amidst bankers, merchants, and their customers. New troubles broke out in Ireland. But politics mostly turned on the question of Parliamentary Reform. The Radicals had long been dissatisfied with the Reform Act of . For many years the old Whigs had declared it a

"final settlement,"

and got the nickname of

" Finality John."

But the cry for

"thorough"

Reform grew so loud that himself brought in other Bills in and , though they excited little interest, and did not pass. Again, in , took up the question with as little success. 's second failure, in , to the disgust of and the Radicals, shelved Reform for the rest of 's life. But now that his influence was removed, brought forward a new Reform Bill.[2]  It was a moderate measure, and proposed to cut down the voting qualification to a £ 14 yearly rental in the counties, and a £ 7 limit in the boroughs. But the Palmerstonians, who hated the notion of Reform, led by Lord Elcho and the shrewd and caustic , retired, as said,

" into a new Cave of Adullam, to which, like David, they invited every one in distress and discontented."

Conservatives and Adullamites joined together to defeat the ministry, and in June drove it out of office.

2. [3] For a third time the uneasy task fell to Derby and of forming a stop-gap ministry from a minority in the Lower House. But saw that there was a new chance to a constructive Conservative leader, and, as a great Reform Agitation at last broke out, he boldly renewed his old declaration for Parliamentary Reform.

"You cannot,"

he told his followers,

" establish a party of mere resistance

[1867-1868.]

to change, for change is inevitable in a progressive country. The point is whether the change be carried out in deference to the customs and traditions of the people, or in deference to abstract principles and general doctrines."

In he proposed his Reform Bill. Hot partisans rejoiced at and the mass of the party loyally followed their leader, though some feared the

"leap in the dark,"

and Lord Cranborne (now Marquis of ) and Lord left the ministry in disgust. 's Bill was greatly cut about by the Liberal majority, but in August he successfully carried it through. Next year Irish and Scotch Reform Acts completed the great change.

The following were the chief provisions of the Reform Acts of and :-

The Second Reform Acts 1867-68.

(1) All male householders got votes in English and Scotch boroughs, if rated to pay poor's rate ; but in Ireland a £ 4 rating limit was fixed. Lodgers who paid £10 a year for unfurnished rooms could also vote. (2) Occupiers of £12 a year (£14 in Scotland) got votes in the counties. (3) 11 boroughs were disfranchised, 4 for bribery, and 35 having less than 10,000 inhabitants lost one member. (4) The vacant seats were given mostly to the greater counties, especially

Lancashire

and the West Riding; but ten new boroughs got one member apiece; two new London boroughs (

Chelsea

and Hackney) got two each; Leeds,

Liverpool

,

Manchester

, Birmingham, and Glasgow got a third member; and Salford, Dundee, and Merthyr a second; while 10 new boroughs returned one apiece, as also did London University and the Scotch Universities (grouped in pairs). (5) To give some representation to minorities, an elector could only vote for two wherever there were three members to be returned. Household Suffrage was thus brought in in the boroughs, and a great step was made towards democracy, for it was plain that the middle-class county constituencies could not last very much longer, now that all workmen who happened to live in boroughs had their votes.

3. [5] A war broke out in between Austria and Prussia, for the supremacy of Germany, and ended with the crushing defeat of the former at Sadowa in Bohemia, and a treaty which broke up the German Confederation of , turned out Austria from all dealings with German affairs, and built up a North German Confederation, with Prussia at its head. It was a great triumph for King William and Bismarck, and nearly brought about German unity; for Prussia ruled the new Confederation, and had absorbed, with other States, Schleswig-Holstein and Hanover, which since had been a separate kingdom from England, under Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, the nearest male heir, and his son, the blind King

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George. Italy also took advantage of Austria's distress, and went to war with her old master, though she was beaten by land and sea. Yet Prussia's success procured the evacuation of Venetia by the Austrians, and its transference to 's kingdom. All through both struggles England kept a strict neutrality. But in Lord (son of the Premier), the Foreign Secretary, backed up France in getting the great fortress of Luxemburg dismantled and neutralised like Belgium.

[6] In England was compelled to wage a petty war against King Theodore of Abyssinia, a brave, reckless barbarian who had imprisoned some English subjects. Sir R. Napier (afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala) led 12,000 troops, mostly Indian, to Theodore's inland stronghold of Magdala, and compelled the release of the captives. Theodore slew himself in a fit of despair. A rough settlement was made with his successor, and the English troops retired as quickly as possible. A new departure was made by Lord 's successfully carrying out the federation of the chief North American Colonies as the Dominion of Canada.

4. [7] Ireland was again the chief trouble. Since the time of the Young Ireland agitation and the Famine, Ireland had been getting a little more prosperous, through the bettering of agriculture and trade. But it had never been contented, though the break-up of the Pope's Brass Band under Sadleir and Keogh had for some years prevented the formation of an Irish party in Parliament. A thoroughgoing revolutionary movement was started about by a party of Irish and Irish Americans who hated English rule, and aimed at setting up an Irish republic. A secret society, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, known as the Fenians, was set on foot, headed in Ireland by John O'Leary and James Stephens, one of the Head Centres, and advocated by Jeremiah Donovan, calling himself O'Donovan Rossa, whose newspaper, the Irish People, was one mouthpiece of the new agitation. Though the priests held aloof, frightened by the anti-clerical views of many of the American Irish, the peasants were warmly sympathetic. But in their plans were betrayed to the Government, and several of the leaders were arrested. Stephens escaped from prison, but O'Donovan Rossa was sentenced to imprisonment for life. One of the last acts of 's was to pass an Act suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. The Irish-American leaders then

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fled over the Atlantic, where they planned an invasion of Canada. In May a disorganised band of twelve hundred Fenians crossed the Niagara river, but they were checked by the local militia, and their schemes discouraged and disavowed by the United States Government. In February Michael Davitt and others attacked Chester Castle with a view to getting arms. In September Allen, Larkin, and Gould rescued Kelly and Deasy from a police van at , and shot the police sergeant in charge, for which crime they were hung. In December the wall of Clerkenwell prison, where several Fenian leaders were confined, was blown down with gunpowder, through which many innocent persons were fearfully injured, several slain, and all London frightened. These acts forced attention to the state of Ireland, where also the Fenians had sought to raise up revolts that proved wretched failures. [8] The Liberals took the opportunity of uniting their scattered forces in a cry for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. In April carried against the Government a resolution in favour of Disestablishment; but refused to give up office until the carrying of his Irish and Scotch Reform Bills allowed him to appeal to the new electorate. He was now Prime Minister, for in February weak health had forced Derby to resign. Lord Cairns, a rigid Irish Protestant, and a great lawyer, now became Chancellor. But in November the elections went against the Government, and resigned.

5. [9] With a majority of 120 the long struggles of the Liberals for an opportunity to carry out their designs seemed over, and a strong ministry was formed with as Prime Minister, Robert Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Foreign Secretary, Secretary for War, H. A. Bruce, a Glamorganshire landowner, Home Secretary, Indian Secretary, and Childers First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Hartington, son of the Duke of Devonshire, Postmaster-General, Lord de Grey and (son of

"Prosperity Robinson"

) President, and W. E. , a Yorkshire Quaker, Vice-President of the Council, G. J. Goschen, a city banker, first Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and afterwards Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Earl Spencer Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and the Radical President of the Board of Trade. The strongly Liberal section soon got the upper hand of

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the aristocratic Whigs, and for the next six years their pent-up energies found an outlet in carrying out a series of changes, greater than ever previously attempted.

6. [10] The elections sealed the fate of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. All Catholic Irishmen looked upon the Established Church as the badge of foreign conquest, and nearly half the Irish Protestants were Nonconformist Presbyterians. The Church had been, to some extent, reformed by the Grey ministry, and was now doing its spiritual work far better than in the eighteenth century. But it was by its very character a memorial of foreign political ascendency; and after the failure of the

" Appropriation Clause "

had disposed of the last hope of a scheme for concurrent endowment, its fate was doomed. Yet the Government Bill was almost wrecked when the Lords put in amendments which the Commons would not accept; but the good sense of Lord Cairns, himself an Irish Churchman, suggested a compromise, and the measure passed.

By the Irish Church Act (1) The Church of Ireland was disestablished, the Church Courts abolished, and the Irish bishops lost their seats in the Lords; (2) The grants to the Catholic seminary at Maynooth and the Regium Donum to the Presbyterians were commuted ; (3) A new corporation, the

"Church of Ireland,"

was created, to which was transferred the churches, cathedrals, parsonages, and all private endowment since

1660

. Altogether over £ 10,000,000 was secured to the Church; (4) Full compensation was given to the clergy for their life interests; (5) The surplus was set aside to relieve unavoidable distress outside the scope of the Poor Law.

7. [11] After settling the Church, the new ministry made a bold attempt to grapple with the Irish land question. The weak points of the Irish land system had been revealed by the Devon Commission, but nothing had been done to redress them, and a long series of abortive Bills showed the indifference or thoughtlessness of the successive governments. Speaking roughly, the land law in England and Ireland was the same, but the practical differences were enormous, owing to the very different condition of the two countries. In both countries rents were supposed to be settled by full and free competition. In England this was to some degree real, but in Ireland the needy and improvident peasant farmers, to whom getting a farm was their only help against starvation, were quite unable to bargain on equal terms with their landlords. Moreover, while in England most improvements were made, and all buildings set up by the landlord, in Ireland all improvements were made and buildings set up by the tenant,

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[1] 
though, as soon as they were made, they became the legal property of the landlord. In the old times custom, which had almost the force of law, kept the tenant on his holding for generations together. But now grasping agents and improving landlords, with English ideas, sought simply to make all they could out of their lands, and rack-rented and evicted just as they thought fit. In the north the Ulster Custom allowed the outgoing tenant to sell his goodwill and improvements to the incoming farmer. But this, and similar customs elsewhere, had no formal legal sanction. Thus it was that the very improvements in Irish agriculture since the famine had only added to the great sum of Irish agrarian discontent, and deepened the wide and impassable differences of race, religious feelings, and often language, between landlord and tenant.

The first Irish Land Act, 1870.

The session of

1870

was mostly taken up with the Irish Land Act, which sought to remedy these evils. By it (1) The Ulster Tenant Right, and other simi1ar customs, were recognised as legal; (2) Tenants evicted by landlords, except for non-payment of rent, were allowed compensation for disturbance ; (3) Compensation was given for improvements; (4) The Government offered to lend money to tenants who wished to buy their holdings.

The effect of the Act was to establish or recognise a dual ownership of the land between landlord and tenant, as pointed out. But it was not thorough enough, and therefore not a great success. It was in some ways a compromise between what were regarded as the teachings of Political Economy and the fruits of Irish experience. It was therefore based neither on the recognition of free competition nor on the State regulation of the whole business. It left landlords as free to evict as ever, if they chose to pay the compensation. By granting long leases they could, and did, evade the Act. The purchase-clauses did little good, as landlords were seldom willing to sell. Moreover, the grievances of centuries are not forgotten in a day; and the yielding to outrage reforms that had been denied to argument and reason might naturally be looked on as an incentive to violence and crime. A stringent Peace Preservation Act passed side by side with the Land Act, and preserved order for a time.

8, National education was at last set on foot through the clever compromises, and rough, shrewd common-sense, of William E. , the Vice-President of the Council. In the Endowed Schools Act established a Commission to examine into the abuses which often prevented the old

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grammar-schools from doing their work. [13] In carried the Elementary Education Act, which allowed districts to start school boards, levy a rate, and compel children to go to school. Despite the violent opposition of the Dissenters, the teachers were allowed to read and explain the Bible, but all parents who liked could take the children away, and no catechism or dogmatic teaching was allowed. In an Act was passed which abolished religious tests at Oxford and Cambridge.

9. [14] In , the War Minister, carried an Army Regulation Act, which brought in short service, and established the germs of a new army system, to include militia and volunteers, as well as the regulars, and proposed to abolish the old system of officers buying their promotion, with compensation to those affected. But the old army interest in the House did its best to stop by obstruction the passing of the Act, and the Lords tried to shelve it. So the Government took the high-handed but necessary course of abolishing purchase by a Royal Warrant. In the preliminary reorganisation of the army was completed, but still greater reforms were probably required.

10. [15] In Government passed a Ballot Act to make voting for members of Parliament secret, and a Licensing Act regulating public-houses more severely than before. [16] In it completed its series of reforms by the Chancellor Lord Selborne's Judicature Act, which united all the different chief Courts of Law at Westminster in a single High Court of Justice, with a new Supreme Court of Appeal (retaining however an ultimate recourse to the House of Lords), abolished the clashing systems of Common Law and Equity Procedure, and aimed at making law simpler, cheaper, and more certain.

11. Stirring events abroad made English foreign policy very important during these years.

The Franco-German War, 1870-71.

In

1870

a war broke out between the French Empire and Prussia, now backed up by every German State except Austria. Both sides hurried on this inevitable struggle, Napoleon hoping to prop up his tottering throne; but corruption had sapped the strength of the French forces, and the German armies were larger, better organised, better trained, better armed, more skilfully led, and filled with strong enthusiasm for German national unity. The victory fell at once to the Germans. They invaded France in August, shut up one great French army in Metz, forced the Emperor and Macmahon to surrender with another at Sedan, and besieged a third inside Paris. But France now shook off the Empire

[1871-1874.]

(September 4), and established the Third Republic, which has lasted ever since. The fiery orator Gambetta inspired the South with a wonderful zeal for the defence of the country, raised and organised three new armies beyond the Loire, and for a time put the Germans in a perilous plight. But the Metz army surrendered through the weakness and wickedness of its general, Bazaine. The well-led German hosts kept the enthusiastic but raw and ill-commanded French levies at bay, and in March

1871

, after the surrender of Paris, the Peace of Frankfurt ended the war, by which France gave up

Alsace

and part of

Lorraine

, including Metz, and paid a war indemnity of five milliards of francs (£200,000,000. The war also completed German unity, for the southern States joined with the north in a new German empire, under King William of Prussia, who accepted the Imperial crown at Versailles. Italian unity was also secured at the same time; for on the fall of Napoleon, who had upheld the temporal power of the Pope, the Italians entered the Papal States, and Rome became the capital of

Victor Emanuel

's kingdom. This drew united Italy very close to united Germany. The Austrian House giving up for the time her old anti-German and anti-Italian policy, soon joined the league, with which Russia was also for a time connected, but the re-opening of the Eastern Question brought out a sharp antagonism between Russia and Austria which, in the long run, brought Russia nearer France. But to this day the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria. and Italy binds middle Europe closely together.

Lord , Foreign Secretary after 's death in , upheld the neutrality of England, letting both France and Germany know that she would resist by arms any attempt to violate the neutrality of Belgium. But she refused to join Italy in a league of neutrals, and urged on the victors to grant a more favourable peace to the vanquished.

12. [18] Russia profited by the war to declare, in the most high-handed way, its right and intention to withdraw from the Treaty of Paris of , and again keep warships in the Black Sea. Much indignation was expressed in England, but nothing was done to prevent it. At last, in March , a Black Sea Conference was held at London, in which the clauses which Russia declared invalid were quietly removed from the Treaty, for England was not prepared to fight to maintain them, and no other Power would lift a finger on her side.

[19] Many efforts had been made to settle the United States' case against us, and by the Treaty of Washington (May ) the long pending Alabama Claims were referred to arbitration. In June the arbitrators decided at Geneva that England was to pay 15,000,000 dollars for her remissness. It was a heavy, and possibly excessive sum, and the Government was severely blamed. It had, however, honestly, though perhaps feebly, tried to carry out a high-minded and unselfish policy.

13. [20] No Government which tries to do much can avoid blunders, but the Government's failure in foreign policy went hand in hand with failure at home. Complaints were made of the whimsical budgets of the Chancellor of-the Exchequer, the want of firmness of the Home Secretary, and the roughness and want of tact of some of the lesser ministers. Bye-elections showed that the ministry had altogether lost its old popularity. The

"harassed vested interests"

banded together against it. The Opposition became bolder, as it saw that every one was sick of reform, and laughed at the Cabinet ministers sitting opposite to him as a

"range of exhausted volcanoes."

Two or three doubtful appointments roused a just outcry against the discredited ministry, and when they brought forward the Irish University Bill, which proposed to set up a secular University of Ireland, in which no theology, history, or philosophy were to be taught, and to break down Dublin University, the only teaching institution in Ireland with traditions worthy of regard, the Irish Catholics joined the Conservatives and the independent Liberals, led by the straightforward and honest Cambridge professor, Henry , in throwing out the unworkable scheme. resigned in March, but refused to form a fourth stop-gap ministry. The shattered Government reformed its ranks by getting rid of its weaker members, and the Prime Minister sought to restore the good fame of its finances by himself acting as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some little credit was got by the vigour with which Sir Garnet waged a little war in West Africa against Coffee, king of the Ashantees, ending with the burning of Coomassie, his capital, early in . But the position of the ministers got so unbearable that in January they suddenly dissolved Parliament, and finding a majority of more than 50 Conservatives returned to the new House of Commons, finally resigned. They had done great things, yet few Cabinets since the first Reform Bill have fallen more signally.

14. [21] For nearly thirty years had led the Conservative party. Yet his followers had always been in a minority, and whether in opposition or as ministers on sufferance, they had had little chance of showing their statesmanship. But had now succeeded in making his popular national Toryism attractive to the lower middle classes who had hitherto voted Liberal, and to the workmen of the towns, to whom he had first given votes. A Conservative Reaction,

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[1] 
as decided as in or , proved him a party leader of great insight and shrewdness, and enabled him to form a strong Government that kept in power for over six years. He offered a policy of rest from violent changes, along with steady practical improvements, good administration, and careful regard to the interests of the empire.

Disraeli

himself became Prime Minister; the genial and popular Sir Stafford

Northcote

was Chancellor of the Exchequer; Lord Derby, son of the former Premier, a great

Lancashire

landowner, was Foreign Secretary; Lord

Carnarvon

again went to the Colonial Office; Cranborne, now Marquis of

Salisbury

, became Secretary for

India

; Gathorne Hardy, Secretary for War; and R. A. Cross, Home Secretary. Lord Cairns was again Chancellor; and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach acted as Chief Secretary for Ireland.

15. [22] The new ministers proved competent administrators, and passed useful measures, which, not having much party bearing, hardly brought them so much credit as they deserved. The first session was almost taken up with ecclesiastical legislation. It was proposed to amend the Endowed Schools Act in the interests of the Church, but the storm of opposition led the Government to content itself with handing over the powers of the thorough- going Endowed Schools Commission to the less advanced Charity Commission. The Scotch Church Patronage Act at last gave congregations the power of choosing their own ministers, though it was now too late to do much good. The Public Worship Regulation Act, passed, as said,

"to put down Ritualism,"

failed in its object, but established a new court which has proved offensive to a large body of the clergy. The Government completed their predecessors' Judicature Acts. Their own measures were numerous. The Agricultural Holdings Act sought to give tenants compensation for improvements. Lord Cairns's Land Transfer Bill aimed at registering titles to land. Cross's Labourers' Dwellings Act allowed the corporations of large towns compulsory powers to buy land and build houses for the poor. 's Friendly Societies Bill gave benefit societies an opportunity of having their solvency certified by the Government. But all these Bills, wise and well-meaning in their scope, were permissive and not compulsory. So, though they sometimes prepared public opinion for stronger measures in the same direction, they were not wholly satisfactory, as the worst offenders found it easy to ignore them altogether. But by defining more liberally what constituted criminal breach of contract and conspiracy, and by consolidating the Factory Acts, the ministry did good service to the working classes.

16. [23] In Parliament the Government was very strong, its well-drilled followers responding with but little murmuring to the most sudden commands of their leaders. The leadership of the Opposition was now resigned by to Lord Hartington. In became Earl of Beaconsfield, and left the Commons, under the mild and gentle guidance of Sir Stafford , to face a new Irish difficulty. In a Home Rule League had been formed to agitate for a local parliament to manage Irish business. A body of Home Rulers were soon sent to Parliament, led by Isaac , a

" weak, kindly, unassuming, childlike,"

and eloquent Protestant lawyer, and soon mustered about 60

"patriots and placehunters."

But the more determined and thoroughgoing Home Rulers grew tired of 's mild methods. They sought to further their cause, under Biggar's guidance, by taking advantage of the forms of the House of Commons to force the Government to listen to them under pressure of systematic obstruction, and found a sort of justification by more attention being paid to their demands. A small knot of members, regardless of the orderly and gentlemanly traditions of the House, was able to keep Parliament sitting all night, and almost prevent any business from being done. The leadership of his disorderly and disobedient followers gradually dropped from 's nerveless hands. Virtually deposed in , he died in . A new Nationalist Party was now formed under the stronger, cooler, and more astute guidance of Charles Stewart , a Protestant country gentleman from Wicklow Its objects were even more agrarian than political. The Land Act had not fully dealt with the evils it had sought to remedy. But the new party went further than seeking to amend it. They started, in October , a Land League to

"bring about a reduction of rack rents, and to obtain the ownership of the soil for the occupier."

visited America to win the help and money of the American-Irish for the crusade against

"landlordism."

Outrages became common, intensified by violent speeches to ignorant and excitable audiences, suffering terribly from the severe distress that now broke out in Ireland. The Government took steps to relieve the famine, and arrested some of the more violent Irish leaders. But no further proposal was made of agrarian legislation.

17. The Eastern Question had now again come to a head. The national movement which had united Germany and Italy was felt in the Balkan Peninsula; but the difficulty was

216

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that it contained not one nation but many. [24] The Slavs were broken into petty fractions under different rulers, though they all turned to Russia as the natural head of a Pan-Slavonic movement, which would have been as fatal to the House of Austria as to the Sultan. There were also the claims of the Greeks, Albanians, Bulgarians (a Mongol race akin to the Turks and Hungarians), and Roumanians (a Latin people speaking a Romance tongue like French or Italian) to be considered. But they were all at one against the hateful misrule of their barbarous Mohammedan oppressors. Bosnia and Bulgaria were the chief scenes of Turkish outrage, and both called to Russia for help and support. The English however would not permit Russia's advancing to Constantinople, especially since her recent conquests in Turkestan had brought her almost to the frontiers of Afghanistan, and not very far from the British Indian border. Still, all attempts to reform Turkey had clearly failed, and even Beaconsfield felt that it was useless to prop up so miserable a power. The best way now, as in the days of , would probably have been for Europe to combine to force the Turks to give a large section of their worse ruled subjects some kind of self-government. But Turkey opposed a stolid resistance to the Andrassy Note, which sought to force a few needful reforms on her, and deemed the unwise refusal of England to accept the more stringent Berlin Note to show our intention to back them up in any case. Servia and Montenegro at last took up arms against the Porte, and zealous Russian volunteers flocked to their standards. The Turks had gained some easy victories over the ill-led Servian levies, and, flushed with success, rejected the demands of the European Conference at Constantinople (January ). [25] This was the last effort of diplomacy. The failure of the European Concert, and the crying wrongs of the Christians of the Balkan lands, and refusal of all redress, drove Russia to declare war. A fierce struggle raged for a year between enemies equally matched in stubborn valour and faith in their cause, though unequal in warlike skill and science. Despite the gallant resistance of the Turks behind the hastily-constructed but well-munitioned earthworks of Plevna, the skill of built up counterworks, and forced their surrender. The steep and dangerous Balkan passes were crossed by the patient and stalwart Russians, though with fearful loss,

217

in the bitterest cold of winter. The beginning of saw the Russians marching in triumph on the undefended capital, Constantinople. Since there had grown up a strong feeling in England against helping the Turks, when it was found out with what barbarity they had treated the protesting Bulgarians. But the plain danger of a Russian occupation of Constantinople now brought about a strong cry for war. Beaconsfield fostered the agitation, and sent the fleet to the Sea of Marmora, called out the reserves in England, and hurried Sepoys from India to Malta. Lord Derby, the Foreign Secretary, and Lord , the Colonial Secretary, resigned in disgust; but the new Foreign Minister, Lord , took up a more decided attitude.

Russia gave moderate terms to the Turks at San Stefano (3d March ), but Lord declared that they must be modified, and particularly objected to the proposed Bulgarian state, extending from the Danube to the AEgean, as dangerous to British interests. A Congress of the Great Powers met, in June , at Berlin, in which Beaconsfield and represented the United Kingdom. But before the meeting, Russia and England came to an agreement, which the Congress had only to ratify.

The Berlin Treaty, 1878.

By the Treaty of Berlin (1) The Bulgaria of the Treaty of San Stefano was broken up; (2) Bulgaria north of the Balkans was made a practically independent state though paying tribute to Turkey ; (3) Bulgaria south of the Balkans (Eastern Roumelia) was kept

"under the direct rule of the Sultan,"

but was allowed

"administrative autonomy"

under a Christian Pasha; (4) Montenegro, Servia, and Roumania were declared independent, and received additions to their territories ; (5) Russia's frontier was extended to the mouth of the Danube, and she acquired Kars and Batoum in Asia; (6) A few obvious reforms were promised in Crete and Armenia; (7) Fresh lands were to be ceded by separate treaty to Greece; (8) An agreement with Turkey to protect Asia Minor had already secured for the English the practical rule of Cyprus; the Austrian House took possession of Bosnia.

Beaconsfield came back from Berlin boasting that he had brought

"peace with honour,"

having brilliantly succeeded in what he loudly proclaimed was his sole object, the maintenance of British interests in the East. He had been accused of a private design of backing up Turkey; but if he ever held this policy, he seems to have given it up as impracticable. The dying Turkish Empire was to be replaced by national self-governing states. That they should at first look for guidance to Russia, their creator and saviour, was the natural result of the apathy of the Powers that had thrown the work of regeneration on the State most

218

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suspected of ulterior designs of its own. But as they grew stronger, Russia would naturally become their greatest danger. Yet this plan seemed the only way of preventing the direct rule of Russia in the Balkan Peninsula.

18. [27] The same active policy led to intervention in Egypt, ruled since by Ismail, son of Ibrahim, and grandson of Mehemet Ali. The new Khedive (Viceroy) was a vain, showy man, full of great schemes, and anxious to bring in Western money, enterprise, and civilisation. He actively encouraged the daring and adventurous Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps, in digging the Suez Canal, though engineers said it was impossible, and , out of ill-judged jealousy, did his best to stop the works. Yet in the canal was opened, and England profited very largely by the faith and enterprise of the French shareholders. But Ismail's wasteful personal extravagance, and his outlay on his army and fleet, his great expenses in conquering the Soudan, or Black Country, around the Upper Nile, and in bringing in railways, telegraphs, harbours, and other Western works, had imposed a crushing burden on the wretched fellaheen (Egyptian peasantry), and Egypt was rapidly becoming bankrupt. In the Cabinet bought Ismail's shares (nearly one-half of the whole capital) in the Suez Canal for England, and so got a control over the new waterway to . But this money only staved off the Khedive's distress for a short time. England and France were so much interested in Egypt that they were gradually led to interfere, though France soon grew jealous of England's increasing ascendency. At last Ismail made a great effort to shake off foreign control. He failed, and was deposed in . His son Tewfik, a nominal ruler, now became Khedive, and England and France set up a Dual Control which put the government of the country really into their hands.

19. [28] The Government also made an effort to establish English influence in Afghanistan, but with disastrous results. Lord 's attempt to set up a confederation of the Canadian type in South Africa was also a failure. The annexations of the Transvaal () and the Zulu War () were but the beginnings of fresh disasters. But these were hardly felt before the Conservatives were driven out of office.

20. Absorbed in foreign affairs, the Government had not dealt very vigorously with rising difficulties at home, or ruled very sternly the disorderly House of Commons. Its

219

foreign policy, though much praised by some, was violently attacked by others. [29]  came from his retirement to denounce with fervid eloquence the threatened alliance with the

" unspeakable Turk,"

who had brought about the

" Bulgarian atrocities,"

and held up to scorn the weak financial policy which paid for useless wars by cutting down the Sinking Fund, or borrowing from day to day. A wave of commercial depression now spread general gloom and discontent, and as has always been the case, told against the Government, which now made a bad blunder in a proposed scheme for buying up the London water companies at extravagantly high rates. Yet there was no such general outcry as that which heralded the fall of in . But in democratic England few ministries have much chance of outliving the duration of an ordinary Parliament. Fearful of worse to come, the Government hastily dissolved in March ; but the new elections told strongly against them. In vain Beaconsfield sought to rally the nation round his policy with the cry that the rule of the Liberals would be dangerous to the empire. The fiery zeal of 's Midlothian Speeches stirred up a deep response amidst an excitable and emotional electorate. The constituencies gave the Liberals a majority of 50 over Conservatives and Home Rulers combined. In April Beaconsfield resigned. A year later he died.

21.

The Second Gladstone Ministry, 1880-85.

In the new Liberal ministry

Gladstone

was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Selborne was Chancellor, Sir William Harcourt Home Secretary,

Granville

Foreign Secretary, Childers War Secretary, Lord Hartington Indian Secretary, Lord Kimberley Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Cowper Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and W. E.

Forster

his Chief Secretary. The Radicals were largely represented.

Bright

held the nominal office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Henry

Fawcett

was Postmaster-General.

Joseph Chamberlain

, a Radical Birmingham manufacturer, who had carried out great reforms in that town when Mayor, was President of the Board of Trade; and Sir Charles Dilke, who had once been looked on with horror as a Republican, was Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. These two were the chief spokesmen of the new school of Radicals, which, unlike the Manchester School of

Bright

and

Cobden

, believed that vigorous State interference would do more good than the old cry of laissez faire, and had no sympathy with the ignorant apathy with which the older school regarded our foreign and colonial interests.

22. In the new Government began by the Burials Act, which allowed Nonconformist funerals in churchyards;

220

[1] 
the Employers' Liability Act, which protected workmen from the negligence or carelessness of their masters; and the Ground Game Act, to save farmers' crops from hares and rabbits. [31] But Ireland was its chief concern. It sought to relieve Irish distress and satisfy reasonable demands for reform, while upholding law and order with a strong hand. With the former object it passed the Relief of Distress Act (), which, however, was shorn by the Lords of the important clause which allowed tenants evicted for not paying their rent the same

" compensation for disturbance"

as if they had been turned out for any other reason. Next year it passed the Second Irish Land Act.

The Second Irish Land Act, 1881.

This Act frankly accepted the dual proprietorship disavowed in

1870

, and gave up competitive rents altogether. It allowed (1) Tenants to sell their interest in their holdings to the highest bidder. (2) Tenants to apply at their will to a Land Court to fix a judicial rent, to be revised every fifteen years. (3) If the tenant break the statutory condition, his tenancy might be ended by compulsory sale of his interest. (4) English- managed estates were excluded from the Act. (5) Landlords kept some power to object to new tenants. (6) Provisions were made for helping on peasant proprietorship.

[33] To maintain order and put down outrages, carried the Protection for Life and Property Act in the face of fierce and violent obstruction, and arrested and forty other leaders of the land agitation, The Land League thereupon sent out a No Rent Manifesto, which led to its being put down as

" an illegal and criminal association."

But in the Government somewhat changed its policy, and in consequence of a negotiation with the Irish leaders, known as the Kilmainham Treaty, Lord Cowper and resigned in disgust, and and his colleagues were let out of prison. But on 6th May, two days after his appointment, the new Secretary, Lord Frederick , brother of Lord Hartington, was stabbed to death by Brady, one of the Invincibles, a society of Irish conspirators, in the Phcenix Park, Dublin. Others of the gang murdered his companion, the permanent Under-Secretary, . On this a Prevention of Crimes Bill was hurriedly passed, and, to prevent more obstruction, new parliamentary rules were drawn up in an autumn session which allowed the forced closing of the debate if the majority were sufficiently large. But the Irish were now fiercely hostile to the Government, and sought any occasion to turn them out of office.

23. [34] Foreign complications soon began to overwhelm the Government. The long troubles begun by Lord Lytton's interference with Afghanistan were only ended by the with- drawal of the English. A series of disasters in South Africa led to the restoration of the independence of the Transvaal Republic. But the greatest difficulty was in Egypt, where Arabi Pasha had started a national Egyptian party, which sought to put an end to European supremacy, and where a great religious rising in the Soudan under a prophet who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, threatened the destruction of the Egyptian power on the Upper Nile. The Dual Control broke down when the crisis came, and France left England to cope single- handed against Arabi. In July Alexandria was bombarded, and in September Sir Garnet completely defeated Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir. This led to the nominal restoration of the Khedive's power in Egypt; but henceforth Egypt was practically ruled by England. But in November the Mahdi completely crushed the Egyptian army under its Pasha Hicks, an English officer, who perished in the defeat. The Mahdi now ruled the whole Soudan, save a few strong posts where loyal Egyptian garrisons still held out against him. The chief of these was at Khartoum, the capital, situated at the junction of the White and the Blue Nile. England had no wish to keep up the Egyptian power in the Soudan, but it was ungenerous to leave the garrisons to their fate, and the Mahdi, if not checked, might easily spread his influence among the fierce Mohammedans of Egypt itself. In January the Government sent General Gordon to Khartoum to arrange for withdrawing the garrisons from the Soudan.

24. [35] Charles George Gordon was an engineer officer, who, having served with distinction in the Crimea and in the China War, had won great fame by putting down for the Chinese government the formidable revolt of the Taipings (), showing in his hard and difficult task a wonderful courage and simple faith, shrewd insight into savage character, and an extraordinary power of governing men and inspiring them with trust and enthusiasm for him. Henceforth known as Chinese Gordon, he ultimately became ruler of the Egyptian Soudan (-), where he led a great crusade against the slave-trade, and again attracted all his subjects by the simplicity, honesty, and energy which shone through his fair complexion, honest blue eyes, and simple dress and

222

[1] 
manner. He now went off on his dangerous mission, unarmed and almost unattended, and was welcomed in Khartoum with almost the old enthusiasm.

No man, however great, could save the garrisons as things then were. Gordon soon saw either that the Mahdi must be

"smashed"

by British troops, or that some strong government must be left behind to save the Soudan from anarchy. He therefore asked either for troops or for the appointment, as his helper in ruling the Soudan, of the

" Black Pasha,"

Zubehr, an old enemy of his in the days of his government, who, though cruel and violent, and the great upholder of the slave-dealers, was the only strong man who could keep some sort of order in the disturbed and barbarous province. The Government refused both of his requests, largely out of fear of popular opinion. Gordon was thoroughly disgusted.

" I am now free,"

he cried,

" to act according to circumstances. I shall hold out if I can, and if not, retire to the Equator, leaving to you the disgrace of abandoning the garrisons, and the certainty that you will be forced to smash up the Mahdi."

The Mahdi's hosts soon drew near the doomed city, and a great cry arose in England to save the hero that defended it. After much hesitation the irresolute Government resolved to send an army to his release. In August , now a lord, was again despatched to Egypt; and a force moved up the Nile to the relief of Gordon. With rare energy and amidst great hardships the English army pressed painfully up against the stream, but the water was exceptionally low, and progress was terribly slow. At last a flying column under General Stewart travelled through the scorching desert between Korti and Metemneh to avoid the great bend of the Nile, and found at Gubat some of Gordon's steamers sent down to meet them. [36] On 28th January Sir C. Wilson (Stewart was slain in battle) steamed up to Khartoum; but he was too late. On 26th January Khartoum had been betrayed, and Gordon was slain by a fanatic against the Mahdi's commands.

Unwonted energy was now shown, and a plan was formed of sending a new army overland from Suakim, a port on the Red Sea, to Berber on the Nile. But the Government changed its mind again, and, throwing over the remaining garrisons, confined itself to defending Suakim and the Egyptian frontier. While this was going on Russia pressed on her forces in Afghanistan, and, after a fight with the

223

Afghans, occupied the advanced post of Penjdeh (30th March ). [37] For a second time within eight years war seemed inevitable. But the question was referred to arbitration, and some sort of agreement patched up. Meanwhile the Mahdi's influence declined in the strange way so common in the East. Egypt had now comparative rest.

25. [38] The Government lost much ground in the country, and some in the Commons over the Soudan business. But a new Franchise Bill called away public attention, especially after it was rejected by the Lords, on the ground that no scheme for the Redistribution of seats accompanied it. But in an autumn session the Bill was brought forward again, a plan for redistributing seats being arranged by agreement between the Liberals and Conservatives. In December the Third Reform Act became law.

(1) It made the franchise in counties the same as in the boroughs, besides bringing in some new ways of getting a vote. (2) It disfranchised all boroughs with under 15,000 inhabitants, and reduced all under 50,000 to one member. (3) It cut up the country into single member districts, each having about 50,000 inhabitants; the only exceptions being old boroughs returning two representatives, between 50,000 and 165,000 inhabitants, and the City of London cut down to two members. The result was that London got 62 instead of 22 members;

Liverpool

9,

Manchester

and Salford 9, Glasgow and Birmingham 7 each, and so on in proportion. The great towns, and still more the scattered country, mining and manufacturing districts, thus got representation in proportion to their numbers. Ireland and Wales kept their old number of members, though not entitled to so many. Thus England was made a thoroughgoing democracy, dependent on household suffrage, with almost equal electoral districts.

26. [39] In June the Government was beaten on the budget by a combination of Conservatives and Irish Nationalists. resigned, and Lord formed a Conservative Government, with Sir Michael Hicks - Beach as Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the Commons, being got rid of by the nominally great post of First Lord of the Treasury and the Earldom of Iddesleigh. Soon after was passed Lord Ashbourne's Act, a wise measure for helping Irish tenants to buy their holdings. A general election followed in November, in which the Irish voted for the Conservatives. The result was that the Irish held the balance between the English parties. But they soon deserted the Conservatives when the Government had prepared to put down the National League, which had been set up when the Land League had been proclaimed; and

224

[1] 
was now meditating Home Rule. [40] The Irish and Liberals joined to turn out the Conservatives, and on February a third Ministry was established. The air was full of strange rumours, but no one knew what to believe. Hartington and Goschen, with other moderate Liberals, had refused to join the Government, alarmed by its Radical tendencies. Six weeks later and three other ministers threw up their places, disgusted at 's declaration of his new Irish policy.

[41] The Government now went in for Home Rule. In April the Prime Minister proposed a Bill to give the Irish a local Parliament and a local Executive, and shutting the Irish representatives out of the Imperial Parliament, which was still to carry on the general business of the Empire, while landlords were to be bought out by a vast scheme of land purchase. But ninety- three Liberals, henceforward called Liberal Unionists, joined with the Conservatives in upholding the Union, and the second reading was lost by thirty votes. [42] An appeal to the new democracy confirmed their action, for the elections in July gave the new Unionist party a large majority over Gladstonian and Parnellite Home Rulers combined, and Lord again formed a Conservative Government, with Lord Randolph Churchill as leader of the Commons, and secured the active support of the Liberal Unionists, who, after January , when the erratic Lord Randolph gave up his office, were represented in the Cabinet by Goschen, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer.

27. [43] The elections of July bring to an end the well- marked period which began with the death of . For over twenty years the new Liberalism set forth its plans of large reforms, and for twenty years the new Conservatism maintained its spirited foreign policy and care for Imperial interests. These forces were now exhausted, or at least turned into other channels. The transition of democracy is now completed, and a new period, when feeling will rule more than reason, seems to have set in. The old party names and watchwords have ceased to have much meaning. New party lines form, new questions rise up, with the solution of which we are now busy. Just as the new era came in the Queen completed the fiftieth year of her long and beneficent reign. The loyal rejoicings over the Queen's Jubilee in June brought the old period to a happy close.

 
 
Footnotes:

[1] Earl Russell's Ministry, 1865-66.

[2] The Reform Bill of 1866, and the Cave of Adullam.

[3] The Third Derby-Disraeli Ministry, 1866-68.

[5] The Austro-Prussian War, 1866.

[6] The Abyssinian War, 1868.

[7] The Fenians, 1863-67.

[1] [1868-1869.]

[8] Fall of Disraeli, 1863.

[9] The first Gladstone Ministry, 1868-74.

[10] Disestablishment of the Irish Church, 1869.

[11] The Irish Land System.

[1] [1870-1871.]

[13] National Education, 1869-71.

[14] Cardwell's Army Reforms, 1871-72.

[15] Ballot, 1872.

[16] Law Reform, 1873.

[18] The Black Sea Conference, 1871.

[19] The Alabama Arbitration, 1872.

[20] The failures and fall of the Gladstone Ministry, 1873-74.

[21] The Disraeli Ministry, 1874-80.

[1] [1874-1880.]

[22] Home Government, 1874-80.

[23] Irish Home Rule, 1870-80.

[1] [1877-1878.]

[24] Nationality in the Balkan Peninsula.

[25] The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78.

[1] [1863-1880.]

[27] Egypt and the Dual Control, 1863-79.

[28] Afghanistan and South Africa.

[29] Fall of the Beaconsfield Ministry, 1880.

[1] [1880-1884.]

[31] Irish Policy, 1880-85.

[33] Coercion.

[34] Egyptian troubles, 1882-84.

[35] Chinese Gordon.

[1] [1885-1886.]

[36] Death of Gordon,1885.

[37] Penjdeh, 1885.

[38] The Third Reform Act, 1884.

[39] Salisbury Ministry, June 1885-Jan. 1886.

[1] [1887.

[40] The Third Gladstone Ministry, Feb.-July 1886.

[41] The Home Rule Movement, and the break-up of the old Parties

[42] The Salisbury Unionist Ministry, July 1886.

[43] The new starting-point.

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