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ensue with the Court of Queen's Bench, the probability is, that the House of Commons will be beaten. We hope it may be so, for the success of Mr. Stockdale in a fair stand-up fight with the Commons of England would place the law of libel in so eminently absurd a light, that an immediate reform of it would become inevitable. In fact, the only way in which the House can come with any dignity out of this business, is by the enactment of a law that shall enable the defendant in any libel process to plead the truth in justification of his statement. If it be a crime in the Times, or the Chronicle, to speak the unvarnished truth, how can it be less a crime in Mr. Hansard ? The House of Commons cannot assume to itself as a privilege the right of authorising its officers to break the common law of the land; but the House of Commons it is that is chiefly to blame, if one branch of that common law has become a common nuisance to ourselves, and a by-word among foreign nations.
Among the earliest events of the coming session will be the moving new writs for Newark, Edinburgh, &c. vacant by death, or the appointment of the members to new offices. For Newark the contest will be a hard one. The Duke of Newcastle, it is well known, has built a number of new houses within the limits of the borough; and, by placing his own creatures there as tenants, he has greatly increased the number of that class of voters, with whom he considers it his undoubted privilege “ to do as he likes.” By the aid of these auxiliaries, he may perhaps be able to overbear the strong feeling of aversion which his arbitrary and unconstitutional conduct has roused against him among the inhabitants of the borough. Should these preparatory arrangements on the part of his Grace enable the Tories to turn out Sergeant Wilde, the event will be trumpeted abroad as a fresh proof of the reaction that has taken place in public opinion. As well might the apostacy of Lord Brougham, or the transfer of the Courier newspaper to a Tory editor be taken as a sign of the times; the Noble Lord having deserted his friends because they were afraid of trusting him with official power, and the types and presses of the printing-office having been disposed of for a certain amount of pounds, shillings, and pence, which has about as much to do with public opinion as the sale of a minister's coachhorses to his successor in expectancy. We do not feel easy about Newark, and in justice we are bound to admit
, that ministers do not deserve the support of the electors of that borough, who, after all that they have suffered in the cause, might have hoped that their friends in Parliament would have endeavoured to have obtained for them the protection of the ballot. It is cruel to call upon men year after year to sacrifice their worldly interests in defence of their political principles. If the ballot had been withheld from every other constituency in the United Kingdom, it ought to have been given to the people of Newark, to mark the general disgust excited by the profligate determination so unblushingly avowed by the Duke of Newcastle to “ do what he liked with his own."
In Edinburgh the Tories talk of getting up an opposition to Mr. Macaulay. Let them: Tory ascendancy can never raise its head again in Ireland and Scotland; the Schedule B boroughs were confined to England, and the signal failure certain to attend an attempt to saddle a Tory representative on the Scottish metropolis would be likely to produce a good moral effect upon the rest of the country.
The formal business of the early portion of the session once disposed of, we hope ministers will shape all their subsequent measures with a view to the general election which must soon follow. "Let them bring forth a few good sound bills of a thorough popular character, throw upon the Tories the odium of rejecting them, and then boldly appeal to the country. But there must now be no compromise. Lord Melbourne and his colleagues have injured themselves too much already by their vain endeavours to avoid a collision between the two Houses. Fiat justitia, ruat cælum should be their motto now. Let the Peers bear the responsibility of their own blind bigotry, but let the Whigs cease to sacrifice the support of the people, by hopeless endeavours to conciliate those who never will be conciliated, and who will yield no concession to the people unless under the pressure of fear. A general election calls for great sacrifices on the part of the electors, and it will neither be just nor prudent to demand those sacrifices without the prospect of some corresponding advantage. The ballot we must have as a government measure. If Lord Melbourne feels a punctilious aversion to adopting it, let him remember the Duke of Wellington's conduct on the Catholic Question, and ask himself whether the Noble Duke has injured his influence with any party in the country by the course he pursued on that occasion. By his own friends, Lord Melbourne knows his conversion would be hailed with unfeigned delight, and as to the Tories, can they hate and abuse him worse than they do? Besides, there are considerations that ought to have more weight with his Lordship than the mere puerile wish to preserve his own consistency on a great question, on which his friends, almost to a man, have become converts. The consideration to which we allude, and to which, we maintain it, his Lordship is in honour bound to sacrifice his personal predilections, is the peril to which his indecision not only exposes the great political party at whose head he is placed, but the liberties of the nation, the personal comfort of his sovereign, and the permanence and security of the monarchical principle. When, in the month of May last, Lord Melbourne stepped forward to rescue the Queen from the state of degradation to which Sir Robert Peel attempted to reduce her, we must presume it was his Lordship’s intention, if possible, to preserve her likewise from a repetition of the insult. How humiliating will be the position of the Queen, if her ministers dissolve Parliament without appealing to the people on some broad popular question, that will rouse the electors to defy the vengeance of their Tory tyrants ! Imagine the present House of Commons returned again, with an uncertain majority fluctuating between two and twelve.
No ministry can act with independence that is constantly haunted by the dread of giving offence to half a dozen individuals among its own friends. Such a state of things makes it impossible that any measure can be worked out in a statesmanlike manner, because its author has constantly to consider the crotchets and inclinations of this or that member. Could Lord Melbourne continue prime minister if the next general election were to produce a House of Commons at all like the present? Impossible. Then what would be the consequence? Would his Lordship again recommend the Queen to send for the Duke of Wellington? If her Majesty has one particle of her grandfather's spirit in her, she would rather order up Mr. Frost from Monmouth gaol to form her ministry, than entrust the task to the superficial politician, who, eight months ago, could form no cabinet without first depriving the Sovereign of the society of her female friends. Tories, greedy of place, or disappointed Radicals of the Brougham and O'Connor school, may bluster as they will, but a more unconstitutional or more offensive proposal was never made to a British Sovereign, than when Sir Robert Peel arrogated to himself the right of imposing upon the Queen conditions which an indulgent master would scarcely think of imposing on his housemaid. “ If you come into my service, mind, I allow of no followers," was the pur
port of the terms which the baronet would have dictated to his Queen; and while the remotest chance remains for her of forming a ministry by applying to some less sensitive statesmen than Lord Melbourne or Lord John Russell, we can scarcely expect that she will submit to the humiliation of sending again for the man who so ill-requited her confidence on a former occasion. Should, therefore, through his own fault, the next general election not give Lord Melbourne a sufficient majority to bring the House of Lords to terms, and carry on the Government in a satisfactory manner, his retirement will make way not for a Tory, but for a Radical ministry; and, in either case, a second general election must take place in the same year. Has Lord Melbourne the nerve to expose the country needlessly to all this commotion? When the Duke of Wellington saw that Catholic Emancipation could not be avoided, he determined himself to assume the responsibility of the measure. Lord Melbourne cannot but feel that the ballot has become as indispensable now as Catholic Emancipation was in 1829; and, if he does feel so, he is in honour bound to the Queen, and in duty to his country, not to throw away the opportunity of strengthening his government, and recovering the confidence of the whole Liberal party, by the sacrifice of what at best is but an early prejudice, which, with a few solitary exceptions, all his own friends have long ago abandoned.
The ballot will be quite enough to enable him to appeal with confidence to the people, and it will be a prize worthy of the undivided efforts of the people to struggle for. The ballot is all in all, and once attained all other organic changes are matters of indifference. Annual parliaments, and universal suffrage, and the rest of the impracticable rubbish, which mob demagogues attempt to hang on to the ballot, will be forgotten or despised by every class, as soon as the already existing constituency is placed in a state of independence. The ballot will give us a House of Commons really representing the people, and willing to carry all those measures for the material improvement of the country, which no parliament elected under the present system will ever concede. A ballot parliament will abolish the Corn Laws, during the very first session, and the peers will consider twice before they place themselves in a hostile attitude against a House of Commons returned by the unbiassed and uncontrolled suffrages of the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland. By the voice of such a parliament the Queen might consent to be guided, without any feeling of humiliation; and of one thing her Majesty may rest assured, should she live, as we trust she will, to celebrate her jubilee, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, that no House of Commons, elected by ballot, will, in the mean time, have subjected her to the indignity of having to call Sir Robert Peel to her councils.
“We are not among the idolaters of the ancients, but we do admire the delicacy of their taste in expending so much labour and wealth in commanding abundant supplies of pure and salubrious water for the eternal city. The New River, and the Hampstead waters are, it is true, etherial ; but even these are little better than a dilute solution of dead dogs, cats, and a thousand other animal and vegetable substances in a state of putrefaction.”
Johnson, Medico-Chirurg. Journ. vol. iv. p. 307. 1826. In the early history of London we find that the state authorities and worthy citizens were not insensible of the necessity and advantages of an adequate supply of water for the exigencies of the metropolis. It would appear that before the time of William the Conqueror, besides the “ famous river Thames," the City was watered by the rivers of the Wells, Walbrook, Langhorn, as also by numerous fountains, or wells, such as Holy-well, Clement's-well, Skinner's-well, Clerk's-well, and certain pools, such as Horse-pool, afterwards Smithfield-pool.* So early as the year 1307, we find that a complaint was made by Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, to the parliament, that the river of Wells running into the Thames was obstructed by “ filth of the tanners and such others," upon which it was ordered to be cleansed, an operation which, in this and other inlets, was repeatedly found necessary; but the Thames itself is described as a clear broad stream, yielding an infinite plenty of excellent sweet and pleasant fish, wherewith such as inhabit near to her banks are fed and fully nourished.” It is, indeed, amusing to contrast the glowing accounts which the older historians give of this once enchanted stream with its present deplorable condition.
“ What," says Stowe, “what should I speak of the fat and sweet salmons daily taken in this stream, and that in such plenty (after the time of smelt is past) as no river in Europe is able to exceed it? But what store also of barbels, trouts, chevins, perches, smelts, breams, roches, daces, gudgeons, flounders, shrimps, eels, &c. are commonly to be had therein, I refer me to them that know by experience better than I, by reason of their daily trade of fishing in the same. And albeit, it seemeth from time to time to be as it were defrauded in sundry wise of these her large commodities, by the unsatiable avarice of fishermen, yet this famous river complaineth commonly of no want; but the more it loseth at one time the more it gaineth at another.
Oh ! that this worthy river might be spared but one year from nets, &c. ; but, alas ! then should many a poor man be undone.” † So, also, Burton, in his “ Historical Remarks of London,” winds up his eulogistic description with the following amusing anecdote :
“ To conclude, this famous river Thames, taking all her advantages together, surpasseth all others that pay tribute to the ocean, if we consider the straightness of its course, the stillness of its streams, considering its breadth, as also its length, running above nine score miles before it comes into the sea ; and the conveniency of its situation,
being towards the middle of England: it hath likewise one peculiar property more, - that the entrance into this river is safe and easy to Englishmen and natives, but difficult and hazardous to strangers, either to go in and out, without a pilot ; insomuch, that on the whole the Thames may be said to be London's best friend, as may appear by a passage in the reign of King James, who being displeased with the City because they would not lend him a sum of money which he required, and the lord mayor and aldermen attending him one day being somewhat transported with anger, the king said he would move his own court, with all the records of the Tower and the Courts of Westminster Hall to another place, with further expressions of his indignation. The lord mayor calmly heard all, and at last answered, — Your Majesty hath power to do what you please, and your City of London will obey accordingly; but • Stow's Survey. Edit. Strype. Fol. vol. i. p. 24. et seq.
she humbly desires that when your Majesty shall remove your court, you would please to leave the river of Thames behind you!'"*
In 1582, the water thus panegyrised was conveyed into the houses of the City by leaden pipes connected with an artificial forcer or still; and it was observed, that on comparing it with the New River water, this of the Thames 6 did sooner become fine," and was “ever a clearer water." +
The New River here mentioned is that which still supplies an extensive district of the metropolis, and, as our readers may be aware, derives its origin from a natural Artesian spring at Chadwell, and an arm of the river Lea, between Hertford and Ware. Under an act of parliament granted by Queen Elizabeth for “cutting and conveying a river from one part of Middlesex or Hertfordshire to the city of London,” Sir Hugh Middleton, in 1608, undertook the spirited design of extending its course to London. He employed, at his own expense, several hundred workmen, and after five years' labour, the river was carried from its origin, Hertfordshire, in a rounding course to Islington, a distance of about sixty miles, and there he built a large cistern to receive it. This was the first reservoir for water established in the metropolis, and was opened accordingly with all due ceremony.
“When the water was brought to the cistern,” says Burton, " but not as yet let in, on Michaelmas-day, 1613, in the afternoon, Sir Thomas Middleton, brother to Sir Hugh, being that day elected lord mayor, Sir John Swinnerton, Sir Thomas and Sir Henry Montague, the recorder, with divers other aldermen and citizens, rode to see the cistern and the waters first issuing therein, at which time a troop of about three score labourers, well apparelled, and wearing green Monmouth caps, all alike armed with spades, shovels, pickaxes, and such instruments of labour, marched thrice round the cistern, the drums beating before them, and then presented themselves before the mount where the lord mayor and aldermen stood to behold them; and after one of them made a handsome speech on the occasion, the floodgates flew open, and the stream ran chearfully into the cistern, drums and trumpets sounding all the while in a triumphant manner, and a brave peal of muskets concluded the entertainments.” I The success of this undertaking gave rise to that which we may consider the first water company in the metropolis, for we further learn that from this cistern or reservoir, the next object was to disperse the water from the large wooden pipes in the streets into the leaden pipes fixed in the houses of such only as became “ tenants to the company or proprietors;” and, he continues (Stow), “for the better management of this great undertaking, the sharers do elect certain of them as a committee to manage affairs every week at their office by Broken-wharf in London, as well to grant leases, appoint officers, as to hear grievances, and to take care about the mending of the pipes." I
The principle of combination among capitalists, engineers and men of science generally, for the purpose of achieving public works, which the lifetime of an individual - apart from other considerations — might not permit him to accomplish, has been productive of the most signal advantages to this country, as the progress of steam navigation, railroad travelling, &c. sufficiently evinces; nevertheless, it is not to be concealed, that this principle of combination may be abused, and that public companies have been started, which, instead of having in view the completion of some great national undertaking for the advantage of the public, have been, in reality, only pecuniary speculations, the company representing in the aggregate the interests
Hist. Remarks of London and Westminster, by Richard Burton.
§ Stow, vol. i. p. 26.