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Duke of Newcastle's turreted seat, at Nottingham-they smashed the windows of Apsley House, the town residence of the Duke of Wellington. The country was profoundly agitated, and the firmness of ministers averted a revolution.
Parliament met in December. The king's speech urged reform. Lord John introduced the English bill, slightly improved. A factious opposition, and an adjournment for the holidays, kept it suspended till the 22d of March, 1832, when it passed the Commons, and was sent to the Lords. After a hot debate, it passed the second reading, when a hostile amendment, which destroyed its utility, was sprung upon the House and adopted, on the 7th of May. The next day, Lord Grey asked, according to a previous understanding, for the creation of a sufficient number of Peers to carry the bill. The King declined. Ministers instantly resigned. The Commons addressed the King in behalf of ministers, with rare boldness. The people assembled en masse, and petitioned the Commons to stop the supplies. Many meetings resolved to pay no more taxes till the bill became a law. The King requested Wellington to form a compromise administration. At this proposal, the popular indignation was kindled afresh. Things were approaching a fearful crisis. The Duke tried to execute the royal wish—the ultras of both parties were not invited to seats in the Cabinet the half-and-half reformers would not come through fear—and he gave up the task in despair. The King recalled Grey, with a pledge to create new Peers, if necessary. This brought the refractory Lords to terms. Dreading the introduction of so large a body of liberals into their ancient hall, whose votes would avail the reformers in future contests, a sufficient number of Tories absented themselves from the Peers to insure the passage of the bill. Those who remained concentrated, in their dying denunciations, the venom of the entire opposition. The English bill received the royal assent on the 7th of June, 1832. The Scotch and Irish bills speedily followed, and the month of July, after a two years' contest, which had shaken the empire
to its center, saw the new Constitution of the House of Commons established.
Though the Reform bill has not proved to be so large a concession to the popular demands as was intended, nor as beneficial to the country as was anticipated, it was the greatest tribute to the democratic principle which the nation had paid since the Commonwealth. Its defects will be discussed when we examine the Chartist movement.
CHAPTER X VI.
Henry Lord Brougham-His Life, Services, and Character.
In connection with the passage of the Reform bill, it is proper to notice one of the foremost Englishmen of this centuryHenry BROUGHAM. Nothing strikes one more forcibly in the life of this extraordinary person than the number and variety of the subjects upon which he has exerted his powers. His published speeches and writings on either one of several of the political measures he has advocated, if viewed merely as intellectual efforts, might satisfy the ambition of an honorable aspirant after forensic or literary fame. The aggregate constitutes hardly a tithe of his achievements in the cognate departments of public affairs. From his entrance into the House of Commons down to the present time, his name glows on every page of England's parliamentary history; and his posterity will permit but few of the myriad rays that encircle it to be effaced or obscured. As an advocate and a jurist, many
of his speeches at the bar and opinions on the bench will live long after the law of libel and the court of chancery cease to oppress and vex mankind. His services in the cause of popular education, whether we regard the time expended, the ability displayed, or the results attained, surpass the labors of many persons who have been assigned to a foremost place among the eminent benefactors of their age. His contributions to the Edinburgh Review, covering its whole existence, and a large circle of literary, scientific, political, social, legal, and historical subjects, would class him with the highest rank of periodical essayists. His more substantial works, as Sketches of Eminent Statesmen, History of the French Revolution, Lives of Men of Letters and Science, Discourse on Natural Theology, Political Philosophy, composed amidst the cares of public official station, would suffice to give him an enduring name in the republic of letters.
Great as are his mental achievements, it is as the early advocate of social progress and political reform—the champion of liberty and peace, the friend of man—that he is worthy of all his cotemporaneous fame, and all the applause which coming generations will bestow on his memory. Inconsistency, the common infirmity of mortals, has checkered his course--eccentricity, “the twin brother of genius,” has been his frequent companion-independence, whose adjacent province is obstinacy, he has largely exhibited ; but, while the history of England, during the first third of the nineteenth century, remains, it will display to the impartial eye few names to excite more grateful admiration in every lover of his race than that which, from the abolition of the slave trade in 1806, to the abolition of slavery in 1834, was synonymous with intelligent progress and useful reform.
I believe Brougham was born about the year 1779. We first hear of him, when twenty years old, in Edinburgh, communicating some papers on geometry to the Royal Society in London, which were highly applauded, and translated into foreign tongues. In 1808, he appeared as counsel at the bar of Parliament, in behalf of the commercial and manufacturing interests, against the celebrated Orders in Council, which followed the Berlin Decree of Napoleon, and preceded the American Embargo. His examination of witnesses, extending through several weeks, and his closing argument, gave him a high reputation in England, and a name both in Europe and the United States. In 1809–10, he entered the theater where, for forty years, he has displayed his extraordinary gifts. His first published speech in Parliament, delivered in 1810, was a
The motion pre
powerful appeal in favor of addressing the Throne for more effectual measures to suppress the slave trade. His next great effort was in 1812, when, assisted by Mr. Baring, (Lord Ashburton,) he examined witnesses for several weeks before the House of Commons, to prove that the still unrescinded Orders were ruining the trade and manufactures of the country, and provoking a war with the United States. At the close, he supported an address to the Throne for their repeal, in a speech replete with information, ably defending the policy of unrestricted commerce, and eloquently vindicating the superiority of the arts of peace over the glories of war. vailed—but too late to avert hostilities. Congress declared war the very day the speech was delivered.
His services in the cause of the people from this time downward, have been referred to in these chapters, as various subjects have passed under consideration. During the long and almost hopeless struggle of Liberty with Power, from 1810 to 1830, when he was removed from the theater of his greatest fame, he led the forlorn hope in the House of Commons. Unlike his great prototype, Fox, he never for a moment retired from the field in disgust and despair, but was ever at his post, stimulating the drooping spirits of his friends, hurling defiance at his foes, and rising from every defeat with renewed courage and strength. Though classified among the heads of the Opposition in the House, he never was—he never would be, in the strict sense, a party leader." Nor, on the contrary, did he surround himself with a clique” or “interest,” whose oracle he was. Supporting the measures of the Whigs, he was ever in advance of them, cheering on the masses, as the Tribune of the people, and fighting the partisan battles of Reform as the guerrilla chief of Liberty.
In an evil hour, he was transplanted from his “native heath” to the conservatory of the aristocracy. Though surrounded by uncongenial spirits, and haunted with the nightmare of conservatism, the soul of McGregor retained for years much of its