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Title: From Palmerston to Disraeli (1856-1876)

Compiler: Ewing Harding

Editor: Kenneth Bell

S. E. Winbolt

Release date: December 12, 2016 [eBook #53725]

Language: English



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General Editors: S. E. Winbolt, M.A., and Kenneth Bell, M.A.



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In dealing with a period of comparatively recent date, I have been dependent in several instances upon the courtesy of the proprietors of the copyright. I acknowledge with many thanks the kind permission of Mr. Henry Gladstone to quote the extracts from Lord Morley’s Life of Gladstone on pp. 75, 78, 83. I also acknowledge with thanks the kindness of Messrs. Macmillan and Co. for granting permission to reprint the extracts from the Life of Professor Huxley on p. 87, and from Ashley’s Life of Lord Palmerston on pp. 33, 50; of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co. for the extract from the Diary of Henry Greville on p. 32; of Mr. Edward Arnold for the extract from Leader’s Life of Roebuck on p. 65; of Messrs. Chapman and Hall for the extracts from Reid’s Life of Forster on pp. 81, 89. I acknowledge also with thanks the kind permission of the proprietors of Punch for the extracts on pp. 37, 103; and of the proprietors of The Times, Illustrated London News, and Brighton Herald for the various extracts from those journals.

I am also indebted to Messrs. Longmans, Green and Co. for permission to reprint the extracts on pp. 12, 25 from the Greville Memoirs; also to Mr. John Murray for similar permission to reprint the extracts from the Letters of Queen Victoria on pp. 17, 30, and the Life of the Duke of Argyll on p. 41.

E. H.



  Introduction v
1856. Neutrality of the Black Sea 1
1856. An Up-to-Date Mail Steamer 2
1857. Rubinstein in London 3
1857. First Distribution of the Victoria Cross 4
1857. Reinforcements for India 5
1857. Siege and Relief of Lucknow 9
1858. “Conspiracy to Murder” Bill 12
1858. Forcing of the Peiho River 13
1858. Admission of Jews to Parliament 16
1858. An Inadequate Navy 17
1859. Volunteer Rifle Corps 18
1859. Napoleon III. and England 20
1859. Progress of Volunteer Movement 22
1860. Commercial Treaty with France 25
1860. Anti-Ritual Riots 27
1860. Chinese War: Capture of Pekin 29
1860. The First British Ironclad 29
1861. Garibaldi and the Government 30
1861. The Budget: Abolition of the Paper Duty 31
1861. Britain and Italian Unity 32
1861. Loss of the Cotton-Supply 33
1861. The Case of the “Trent” 34
1861. The Affair of the “Trent” 37
1862. The Peabody Trust Formed 38
1862. The “Alabama” Cruiser 40
1863. War between North and South 41
1863. The Budget: Eating the Leek 42
1863. Distress in the Cotton Manufacturing Districts 44
1863. Britain and the Civil War in America (I.) 46viii
1863. Britain and the Civil War in America (II.) 47
1864. A Policy of Meddle and Muddle 48
1864. England and the Attack on Denmark 50
1865. The Atlantic Cable: Scene in Ireland 52
1865. The Fenian Conspiracy (I.) 55
1865. The Fenian Conspiracy (II.) 57
1865. Death of Lord Palmerston 57
1866. The Cave of Adullam 58
1866. Successful Laying of the Atlantic Cable 60
1866. Reform Demonstration at Manchester 61
1867. Attempted Fenian Raid at Chester 62
1867. Reform Bill: Three Cornered Constituencies 65
1867. Abyssinian Captives 67
1868. Disraeli’s “Maundy Thursday” Letter 69
1868. Abyssinian War: Capture of Magdala 71
1868. Disestablishment of the Irish Church 73
1869. Irish Church Bill: Critical Days 75
1870. The Irish Land Bill 78
1870. Education Bill: The Cowper-Temple Clause 81
1870. The Government and the Franco-German War 83
1871. Mr. Lowe’s Budget: The Match-Tax (I.) 84
1871. Mr. Lowe’s Budget: The Match-Tax (II.) 84
1871. Purchase in the Army abolished by Royal Warrant 85
1871. First August Bank Holiday 86
1871. Bible Reading in Schools 87
1872. The Geneva Arbitration: The Indirect Claims 89
1872. An Early Election under the Ballot Act 90
1872. The “Alabama” Arbitration Award 93
1873. Refusal of Disraeli to take Office without a Majority 94
1873. First London Hospital Sunday 98
1874. The Ashantee War: Fall of Coomassie 99
1874. Funeral of Dr. Livingstone 103
1874. Disraeli on Parties in the Church 104
1875. The Arctic Expedition 106
1875. Purchase of Suez Canal Shares (An Opposition View) 110
1876. Disraeli’s Aims in Politics 114
1876. A Spirited Speech by Disraeli 114
1876. The Eastern Question: Some Fiery Speeches 115




Source.Annual Register, 1856, vol. 98; State Papers, pp. 310–312.

Treaty of Paris.

Article XI.—The Black Sea is neutralised; its waters and its ports thrown open to the mercantile marine of every nation, are formally and in perpetuity interdicted to the flag of war, either of the Powers possessing its coasts, or of any other Power, with the exceptions mentioned in Articles XIV. and XIX. of the present Treaty.

Article XII.—Free from any impediment, the commerce in the ports and waters of the Black Sea shall be subject only to the regulations of health, customs, and police, framed in a spirit favourable to the development of commercial transactions.

In order to afford to the commercial and maritime interests of every nation the security which is desired, Russia and the Sublime Porte will admit Consuls into their ports situated upon the coast of the Black Sea, in conformity with the principles of international law.

Article XIII.—The Black Sea being neutralised according to the terms of Article XI., the maintenance or establishment upon its coast of military-maritime arsenals becomes alike unnecessary and purposeless; in consequence, His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias and His Imperial Majesty the Sultan engage not to establish or maintain upon that coast any military-maritime arsenal.

2 Article XIV.—Their Majesties the Emperor of all the Russias and the Sultan having concluded a convention for the purpose of settling the force and the number of light vessels necessary for the service of their coasts which they reserve to themselves to maintain in the Black Sea, that convention is annexed to the present Treaty, and shall have the same force and validity as if it had formed an integral part thereof. It cannot be either annulled or modified without the assent of the Powers signing the present Treaty.

Article XIX.—In order to insure the execution of the regulations which shall have been established by common agreement, in conformity with the principles declared above, each of the contracting Powers shall have the right to station, at all times, two light vessels at the mouth of the Danube.

* * * * *

Convention between the Emperor of Russia and the Sultan limiting their naval force in the Black Sea.

Article I.—The High Contracting Parties mutually engage not to have in the Black Sea any other vessels of war than those of which the number, the force, and the dimensions are hereinafter stipulated.

Article II.—The High Contracting Parties reserve to themselves each to maintain in that sea 6 steamships of 50 metres in length at the time of flotation, of a tonnage of 800 tons at the maximum, and 4 light steam or sailing vessels of a tonnage which shall not exceed 200 tons each.


Source.Annual Register, 1856, vol. 98; Chronicle, p. 1.

A magnificent iron paddle-wheel steamship the Persia, built by Napier and Sons, of Glasgow, for the Cunard Company, has made her trial trip. This ship will be the largest steamship afloat in the world, until another shall have been built which shall surpass her. Such have been the advances made in our ideas of ships, and especially of steamships of late years, that the giant of to-day is the pigmy of to-morrow; and the chief use of these records is to show what was a magnificent ship at3 the commencement of 1856. The Persia is built of iron; her dimensions are: Length from figurehead to taffrail, 390 feet; length in the water, 360 feet; breadth of the hull, 45 feet; breadth over all, 71 feet; depth, 32 feet; burden, 3,600 tons; diameter of paddle-wheels, 40 feet.

By the Government rule of measure, her steam-power would be equal to 900 horses; according to Watt’s mode of reckoning it would be equal to 4,000 horses at least. The ship is of beautiful model, and combined so as to secure the greatest mechanical strength. Her keel-plates are of sheet-iron, 11/16 of an inch thick; the bottom plates 15/16; up to the water-line, 11/16. She is divided into seven water-tight compartments, besides which she has, in effect, a double bottom. She has two engines and eight boilers. She will afford separate and roomy accommodation for 260 passengers, and will carry a crew of 150 men. Besides splendid saloons and all other requisite apartments for her passengers, she has a bakery, butcher’s shambles, scullery, cow-house, carpenter’s shop, doctor’s shop, ice-houses, bath-rooms, and twenty water-closets. The builders’ calculations as to her speed were not disappointed, for on her voyage round from Glasgow to Liverpool she made an average of more than 16 knots, or 19 miles an hour.


Source.The Times, May 19, 1857.

Of Herr Rubinstein, his compositions, and his performances, we would rather not speak, but just now that there is so much charlatanism abroad, to the detriment of genuine art, silence is not permitted. We never listened before to such music—if music it may be called—at the Philharmonic Concerts, and fervently trust we may never again. So strange and chaotic a jumble as the Concerto in G defies analysis. Not a single subject fit to be designated “phrase” or “melody” can be traced throughout the whole dreary length of the composition; while, to atone for the absence of every musical attribute, we4 look in vain even for what abounds in the pianoforte writings of Liszt and others of the same school—viz., the materials for displaying mechanical facility to advantage.... As a player, Herr Rubinstein (who, when a mere boy, paid London a visit in 1843–4) may lay claim to the possession of extraordinary manual dexterity. His execution (more particularly when he has passages in octaves to perform) is prodigious, and the difficulties he surmounts with apparent ease are manifold and astonishing. But his mechanism is by no means invariably pure; nor is his manner of attacking the notes at all favourable to the production of legitimate tone. A pianist should treat his instrument rather as a friend than as an enemy, caress rather than bully it; but Herr Rubinstein seats himself at the piano with a seeming determination to punish it, and his endeavours to extort the power of an orchestra from that which is, after all, but an unpretending row of keys, hammers, and strings, result in an exaggeration of style entirely antagonistic to real musical expression.


Source.The Times, June 27, 1857.

A new epoch in our military history was yesterday inaugurated in Hyde Park. The old and much abused campaign medal may now be looked upon as a reward, but it will cease to be sought after as a distinction for a new order is instituted—an order for merit and valour, open without regard to rank or title, to all whose conduct in the field has rendered them prominent for courage even in the British Army. A path is left open to the ambition of the humblest soldier—a road is open to honour which thousands have toiled, and pined, and died in the endeavour to attain; and private soldiers may now look forward to wearing a real distinction which kings might be proud to have earned the right to bear.

The display of yesterday in point of numbers was a great metropolitan gathering—it was a concourse such as only London could send forth.... A very large space—at least5 half a mile broad by three-quarters of a mile long—was enclosed on the northern side of the park for the evolution of the troops. On the side of this, nearest to Grosvenor Gate, galleries were erected for the accommodation of 7,000 persons. The station for the Queen was in the centre of the galleries, which formed a huge deal semicircle, enclosing at least one-third of the space in which the troops were formed.... It was evident, from the arrangements made, that it was expected Her Majesty would dismount and distribute the crosses at the table. The Queen, however, did not dismount, but with her charger a little in advance of the suite, with the Prince of Prussia on her right hand, and the Prince Consort on her left, awarded the crosses from her seat on horseback. The form observed was simple in the extreme. The order was handed to Her Majesty, and the name and corps to which each recipient belonged mentioned as he presented himself. The officers and men passed before the Queen in single file, advancing close while she affixed to the breast of each in turn the plain bronze cross, with a red riband for the army, and a blue one for the navy. So quietly and expeditiously was this done in every case that the whole ceremony scarcely occupied ten minutes. There were 61 in all, of whom 12 belonged to the Royal Navy, 2 to the Marines, 4 to the Cavalry, 5 to the Artillery, 4 to the Engineers, and the remainder to various regiments of Infantry. Of all, 25 were commissioned officers, 15 were warrant and non-commissioned officers, and the others privates and common seamen.


Source.—Sir Theodore Martin’s Life of the Prince Consort, 4th edit., vol. iv., pp. 78–80. (London: Smith, Elder and Co.)

Letter from Queen Victoria to Lord Palmerston.

July 19, 1857.

The Queen is anxious to impress in the most earnest manner upon her Government the necessity of our taking a comprehensive view of our military position at the present momentous6 crisis, instead of going on without a plan, living from hand to mouth, and taking small isolated measures without reference to each other. Contrary to the Queen’s hopes and expectations, immediately after the late war the army was cut down to a state even below the Peace Establishment recognised by the Government and Parliament in their own estimates, to meet the Parliamentary pressure for economy, and this in spite of the fearful lesson just taught by the late war, and with two wars on hand—one with Persia, and the other with China! Out of this miserably reduced Peace Establishment, already drawn upon for the service in China, we are now to meet the exigencies of the Indian crisis, and the Government, as it always has done on such occasions, has up to this time contented itself with sending out the few regiments left at home, putting off the day for reorganising its forces. When the regiments ordered out shall have gone, we shall be left with 18 battalions out of 105, of which the army is composed, to meet all home duty, to protect our own shores, to act as the reserves and reliefs for the regiments abroad, and to meet all possible emergencies! The regiments in India are allowed one company, raised by the last decision of the Cabinet, to 100 men as their depot and reserve!

A serious contemplation of such a state of things must strike everybody with the conviction, that some comprehensive and immediate measure must be taken by the Government—its principle settled by the Cabinet, and its details left to the unfettered execution of the military authorities, instead of which the Cabinet have as yet agreed only upon recruiting certain battalions up to a certain strength, to get back some of the men recently discharged and have measured the extent of their plans by a probable estimate of the amount of recruits to be obtained in a given time, declaring at the same time to Parliament that the militia will not be called out, which would probably have given the force required.

The Commander-in-Chief has laid a plan before the Government which the Queen thinks upon the whole very moderate, inexpensive, and efficient. The principle which the Queen7 thinks ought to be adopted is this: That the force which has been absorbed by the Indian demand be replaced to its full extent and in the same kind, not whole battalions by a mere handful of recruits added to the remaining ones. This will not only cost the Government nothing because the East India Company will pay the battalions transferred, and the money voted for them by Parliament will be applicable to the new ones, but it will give a considerable saving, as all the officers reduced from the War Establishment and receiving half-pay will be thus absorbed and no longer be a burden upon the Exchequer. Keeping these new battalions on a low establishment, which will naturally be the case at first, the depots and reserves should be raised in men, the Indian depots keeping at least two companies of one hundred men each. [The Crimean battalions of eight companies had eight others in reserve, which, with the aid of the militiamen, could not keep up the strength of the Service companies. In India there are eleven to be kept up by one in reserve!]

No possible objection can be urged against this plan except two:

1. That we shall not get the men. This is an hypothesis and not an argument. Try and you will see. If you do not succeed and the measure is necessary, you will have to adopt means to make it succeed. If you conjure up the difficulties yourself, you cannot of course succeed.

2. That the East India Company will demur to keeping permanently so large an addition to the Queen’s army in India. The Company is empowered, it is true, to refuse to take any Queen’s troops whom it has not asked for, and to send back any it may no longer want. But the Company has asked for the troops now sent at great inconvenience to the Home Government, and the commonest foresight will show that for at least three years to come this force cannot possibly be dispensed with—if at all. Should the time, however, arrive, the Government will simply have to reduce the additional battalions, and the officers will return to the half-pay list from which they were taken, the country having had the advantage of the saving in8 the meantime. But the Queen thinks it next to impossible that the European force could again be decreased in India. After the present fearful experience, the Company could only send back Queen’s regiments, in order to raise new European ones of their own. This they cannot do without the Queen’s sanction, and she must at once make her most solemn protest against such a measure. It would be dangerous and unconstitutional to allow private individuals to raise an army of Queen’s subjects larger than her own in any part of the British dominions. The force would be inferior to one continually renewed from the Mother Country, and would form no link in the general military system of England all over the globe of which the largest force will always be in India. The raising of new troops for the Company in England would most materially interfere with the recruiting of the Queen’s army, which meets already with such great difficulties. The Company could not complain that it was put to expense by the Home Government in having to keep so many more Queen’s regiments; for as it cannot be so insane as to wish to reform the old Bengal army of Sepoys, for every two of these regiments now disbanded and one of the Queen’s substituted it would save £4,000 (a regiment of Sepoys costing £27,000, and a Queen’s regiment £50,000). The ten battalions to be transferred to the Company for twenty Sepoy regiments disbanded would therefore save £40,000, instead of costing anything; but in reality the saving to the Company would be greater, because the half-pay and superannuation of the officers, and therefore the whole dead weight, would fall upon the Mother Country. The only motive, therefore, which could actuate the Company would be a palpable love of power and patronage to which the most sacred interests of the country ought not to be sacrificed. The present position of the Queen’s army is a pitiable one. The Queen has just seen, in the camp at Aldershot, regiments, which, after eighteen years’ foreign service in most trying climates, had come back to England to be sent out after seven months to the Crimea. Having passed through this destructive campaign, they have not been home for a year before they are to go to India for perhaps twenty9 years! This is most cruel and unfair to the gallant men who devote their services to the country, and the Government is in duty and humanity bound to alleviate their position.

“The Queen wishes Lord Palmerston to communicate this memorandum to the Cabinet.”


Source.Annual Register, vol. 99; Public Documents, pp. 455, 456.

Despatch from Brigadier-General Havelock to the Chief of the Staff to the Commander-in-Chief.

September 30, 1857.


Major-General Sir James Outram having, with characteristic generosity of feeling, declared that the command of the force should remain in my hands, and that he would accompany it as Civil Commissioner only, until a junction could be effected with the gallant and enduring garrison of this place, I have to request that you will inform His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief that this purpose was effected on the evening of the 25th instant. But before detailing the circumstances, I must refer to antecedent events. I crossed the Sye on the 22nd instant, the bridge at Bunnee not having been broken. On the 23rd I found myself in the presence of the enemy, who had taken a strong position, his left resting on the enclosure of the Alum Bagh and his centre and right drawn up behind a chain of hillocks. The head of my column at first suffered from the fire of his guns as it was compelled to pass along the trunk road between morasses; but as soon as my regiments could be deployed along his front and his right enveloped by my left, victory declared for us, and we captured five guns. Sir James Outram, with his accustomed gallantry, passed on in advance10 close down to the canal. But as the enemy fed his artillery with guns from the city, it was not possible to maintain this, or a less advanced position for a time taken up; but it became necessary to throw our right on the Alum Bagh, and re-form our left, and even then we were incessantly cannonaded throughout the 24th, and the enemy’s cavalry, 1,500 strong, crept round through lofty cultivation, and made a sudden irruption upon the baggage massed in our rear. The soldiers of the 90th forming the baggage-guard received them with great gallantry, but lost some brave officers and men, shooting down, however, twenty-five of the troopers, and putting the whole body to flight. They were finally driven to a distance by two guns of Captain Olpherts’ battery.

The troops had been marching for three days under a perfect deluge of rain, irregularly fed, and badly housed in villages. It was thought necessary to pitch tents and permit them to halt on the 24th. The assault on the city was deferred until the 25th. That morning our baggage and tents were deposited in the Alum Bagh under an escort, and we advanced. The 1st Brigade, under Sir James Outram’s personal leading, drove the enemy from a succession of gardens and walled enclosures, supported by the 2nd Brigade, which I accompanied. Both brigades were established on the canal at the bridge of Char Bagh.

From this point the direct road to the Residency was something less than two miles; but it was known to have been cut by trenches, and crossed by palisades at short intervals, the houses also being loop-holed. Progress in this direction was impossible; so the united columns pushed on, detouring along the narrow road which skirts the left bank of the canal. Its advance was not seriously interrupted until it had come opposite the King’s Palace, or the Kaiser Bagh, where two guns and a body of mercenary troops were entrenched. From this entrenchment a fire of grape and musketry was opened under which nothing could live. The artillery and troops had to pass a bridge partially under its influence; but were then shrouded by the buildings adjacent to the Fureed Buksh. Darkness was11 coming on, and Sir James Outram at first proposed to halt within the Courts of the Mehal for the night; but I esteemed it to be of such importance to let the beleaguered garrison know that succour was at hand, that, with his ultimate sanction, I directed the main, both of the 78th Highlanders and regiment of Ferozepore, to advance. This column rushed on with desperate gallantry, led by Sir James Outram and myself, and Lieutenants Hudson and Hargood, of my staff, through streets of flat-roofed, loop-holed houses, from which a perpetual fire was being kept up, and, overcoming every obstacle, established itself within the enclosures of the Residency. The joy of the garrison may be more easily conceived than described; but it was not till the next evening that the whole of my troops, guns, tumbrils, and sick and wounded, continually exposed to the attacks of the enemy, could be brought step by step within this “enceinte” and the adjacent palace of the Fureed Buksh. To form an adequate idea of the obstacles overcome, reference must be made to the events that are known to have occurred at Buenos Ayres and Saragossa. Our advance was through streets of houses which I have described, and thus each forming a separate fortress. I am filled with surprise at the success of the operation which demanded the efforts of 10,000 good troops. The advantage gained has cost us dear. The killed, wounded, and missing, the latter being wounded soldiers, who, I much fear—some or all—have fallen into the hands of a merciless foe, amounted, up to the evening of the 26th, to 535 officers and men. Brigadier-General Neill, commanding 1st Brigade; Major Cooper, Brigadier, commanding Artillery; Lieutenant-Colonel Bazely, a volunteer with the force, are killed. Colonel Campbell, commanding 90th Light Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Tytler, my Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General; and Lieutenant Havelock, my Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, are severely, but not dangerously, wounded. Sir James Outram received a flesh-wound in the arm in the early part of the action near Char Bagh, but nothing could subdue his spirit; and, though faint from loss of blood, he continued to the end of the action to sit on his horse, which he only dismounted at the gate of the12 Residency. As he has now assumed the command, I leave to him the narrative of all events subsequent to the 26th.

I have, etc.,
H. Havelock,
Commanding Oude Field Force.

Total casualties appended:

119 officers and men killed.
339 officers and men wounded.
77 men missing.


Source.The Greville Memoirs, edited by Henry Reeve, C.B., D.C.L., vol. viii., p. 164. (Longmans, Green and Co., 1888.)

February 14 [1858].—Last week saw the debates in the House of Commons about the Conspiracy Bill, and the first act of the India Bill. The first is very unpopular, but it will be carried nevertheless. John Russell has taken it up with extraordinary vehemence and anger. His opposition to it is furious on high constitutional grounds, which appear to me absurd and uncalled for. If I were in Parliament I should be puzzled how to vote, for there is much to be said against the Bill, and much against voting against it, particularly against leave to bring it in. Almost all the Tories voted with the Government, and John Russell carried very few with him, and neither of his own nephews. He is more than ever exasperated against Palmerston for bringing it in. The apology tended by the Emperor, which was read to the House, reconciled a great many to the Bill, but I have no notion that it will do any good, or that the French Government will be satisfied with it. After such a Bill, which will certainly be carried, the British lion must put his tail between his legs, and, “Civis Romanus,” give up swaggering so loftily. If Aberdeen had attempted such a measure when Louis Philippe was King and Guizot minister, what would Palmerston have said? and what would not have been the indignant outcry throughout the country?

13 [Note.—On February 19 the Government were defeated on the Conspiracy Bill in the House of Commons by a majority of 234 to 215. The majority consisted of 146 Conservatives and 84 Liberals. Mr. Gladstone, Lord John Russell, Sir James Graham, and Mr. Sidney Herbert voted against the Bill. Lord Palmerston immediately resigned.]


Source.Annual Register, 1858, vol. 100; Public Documents, pp. 248–250.

Extract from a Despatch received by the Admiralty from Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief on the East Indian Station, dated May 21, 1858:

From the arrival of the ambassadors on the 14th April, the Chinese have used every exertion to strengthen the forts at the entrance of the Peiho; earthworks, sandbag batteries, and parapets for the heavy gingalls have been erected on both sides for a distance of nearly a mile in length, upon which 87 guns in position were visible, and the whole shore had been piled to oppose a landing. As the channel is only about 200 yards wide, and runs within 400 yards of the shore, these defences presented a formidable appearance. Two strong mud batteries, mounting respectively 33 and 16 guns, had also been constructed about 1,000 yards up the river, in a position to command our advance. In the rear several entrenched camps were visible, defended by flanking bastions, and it was known that large bodies of troops had arrived from Pekin. All the forts and the camps were covered with the various-coloured flags under which the “troops of the eight banners,” as the Tartar soldiers are styled, range themselves.

At 8 a.m. yesterday the notification to the Imperial Commissioner Tan, and the summons to deliver up the forts within two hours, were delivered by Captain Hall, my flag-captain, and Capitaine Reynaud, flag-captain of the French Admiral.

No answer having been returned by 10 o’clock to the14 summons, the signal agreed upon was made, and the gunboats advanced in the prescribed order, led by the Cormorant. The Chinese opened fire immediately, and the signal to engage was made a few minutes afterwards from the Slaney. By the time all the vessels had anchored in their respective stations, the effects of our well-directed fire had become very apparent. The first fort was entirely dismantled and abandoned, and the second partially so, while those on the north side had been completely subdued by the Cormorant and two French gunboats. At the short range within which we engaged every shot told, and many of the massive embrasures of mud were levelled by shells. At the end of an hour and a quarter the enemy’s fire ceased. Landing parties were then pushed on shore.

Owing to the destructive fire from the gunboats, but little opposition was made to our landing, and the Chinese troops were observed moving off in masses, whilst our people were in the boats. The flags of the Allied Powers soon replaced those of the Chinese. On the south side 200 large gingalls were found in position near the landing-place on an embankment. Having obtained possession, the dismantling of the works was commenced, and field-pieces landed for the protection of the forces against the possible attacks of the Chinese. Shortly after the landing our gallant allies sustained a melancholy and heavy loss of men, killed and wounded, by the accidental explosion of a magazine.

When all the vessels had taken up their positions, a bold attempt was made to send down upon them a long array of junks, filled with straw in flames, and drawn across the river; but they fortunately grounded, and though the people, guiding them down the river with ropes, made great efforts to get them off, a few shells from the Bustard drove them away, and the vessels burnt out without doing any damage.

Much skill and labour had been expended in the construction of these forts. The guns were much better cast than, and not so unwieldy as, those in the Canton River, and were better equipped in every respect. They had good canister shot, and15 the hollow 8-inch shot appeared imitations from our own. There were several English guns in the batteries. Directions were now sent to Captain Sir F. Nicholson and Capitaine Leveque to advance and capture the two forts up the river, which had kept up a smart fire. This movement was successfully executed under the supporting fire from the Bustard, Staunch, and Opossum.

Several entrenched camps were also destroyed.

The Chinese stood well to their guns, notwithstanding shot, shell, and rockets were flying thickly around them. Most of the gunboats were hulled, some several times, whilst boats, spars, and rigging were cut by roundshot, grape, and gingall balls. This signal success, after the Chinese had ample time to fortify their position, and were confident of their strength, may probably have a greater moral effect on the Chinese Government than if we had attacked them in the first instance, when they were less prepared.

The necessary arrangements at the entrance of the river having been completed, a further advance was made to the village of Takoo, where we found a barrier of junks filled with combustible matter, moored by chains right across the river, whilst seven similar obstructions to our progress were observed within a mile higher up. Captain Hall and a party of men landed and took possession of eighteen field-pieces in front of an abandoned encampment at Takoo. Whilst on shore, the residence of the High Commissioner, Tan, was visited and found deserted, though a significant proof of his recent presence was found in a beheaded Chinaman near his gate. It was ascertained here that the main body of the Chinese troops had retired with Tan to a position about eight miles up the river. The barrier at Takoo, offering good security to our vessels below, was made our advanced position for the night, in charge of Sir F. Nicolson and Capitaine Thoyon.

Arrangements are making for a further advance up the river towards Tientsin.

M. Seymour,
Rear-Admiral and Commander-in-Chief.



Source.The Times, July 27, 1858.

Baron Rothschild presented himself at the bar where he was met by Lord John Russell and Mr. Abel Smith, who, amid considerable cheering from the Opposition benches, led him to the table.

The clerk offered to Baron Rothschild a copy of the new oath required to be taken by members.

Baron Rothschild: I beg to state, sir, that I have conscientious objection to take the oath in the form in which it is now tendered to me.

Lord John Russell (after Baron Rothschild had retired) rose and said: My object in rising, sir, is to move a resolution in conformity with an Act recently passed. It is as follows:

“That it appears to this House that Baron Lionel de Rothschild, a person professing the Jewish religion, being otherwise entitled to sit and vote in this House, is prevented from so sitting and voting by his conscientious objection to take the oath which, by an Act passed in the present session of Parliament, has been substituted for the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration, in the form therein required.”

The resolution was agreed to.

Lord J. Russell: I now rise, sir, to move a resolution in pursuance of the Act which received the assent of Her Majesty in the 23rd instant; and which is entitled “An Act to Provide for the Relief of Her Majesty’s Subjects Professing the Jewish Religion.” In order that the House may be fully in possession of the words of that Act I shall now read them. By the first clause it is enacted that:

“Where it shall appear to either House of Parliament that a person professing the Jewish religion, otherwise entitled to sit and vote in such House, is prevented from so sitting and voting by conscientious objection to take the oath, ... such House, if it think fit, may resolve that thenceforth any person professing the Jewish religion, in taking the said oath to entitle17 him to sit and vote as aforesaid, may omit the words, ‘and I make this declaration upon the true faith of a Christian.’”

Lord J. Russell then moved a resolution embodying the above.

After some debate the House divided—

For the Resolution 69
Against 37
Majority 32

Baron Rothschild then advanced to the table, conducted as before by Lord J. Russell and Mr. Smith, and as he walked up the floor of the House was greeted with loud cheering from the Opposition benches. He desired to be sworn upon the Old Testament, and his request being at once complied with by the Speaker, he took the new form of oath, omitting the words, “and I make this declaration upon the true faith of a Christian.” The hon. gentleman then signed the roll of Parliament, and during the course of the subsequent proceedings he exercised the most important function of a legislator by voting twice upon the Corrupt Practices’ Prevention Act Continuance Bill.


Source.Letters of Queen Victoria, edited by A. C. Benson, M.A., and Viscount Esher, vol. iii., pp. 378, 379. (John Murray, 1907.)

Queen Victoria to the Earl of Derby.

August 2, 1858.

The Queen feels it her duty to address a few lines to Lord Derby on the subject of the reports made to Sir John Pakington on the subject of the French naval preparations, to which she has already verbally adverted when she saw Lord Derby last. These reports reveal a state of things of the greatest moment to this country. It will be the first time in her history that she will find herself in an absolute minority of ships on the sea! and this inferiority will be much greater in reality than even apparent, as our fleet will have to defend possessions18 and commerce all over the world, and has even in Europe a strategical line to hold, extending from Malta to Heligoland, whilst France keeps her fleet together and occupies the centre of that line in Europe.

The Queen thinks it irreconcilable with the duty which the Government owes to the country to be aware of this state of things without straining every nerve to remedy it. With regard to men in whom we are also totally deficient in case of an emergency, a Commission of Enquiry is sitting to devise a remedy; but with regard to our ships and dockyards we require action and immediate action. The plan proposed by the Surveyor to the Navy appears to the Queen excessively moderate and judicious, and she trusts that the Cabinet will not hesitate to empower its execution, bearing in mind that £200,000 spent now will probably do more work during the six or nine months for working before us than £2,000,000 would if voted in next year’s estimate, letting our arrears in the dockyards, already admitted to be very great, accumulate in the interval. Time is most precious under these circumstances!

It is true that this sum of money would be in excess of the estimates of last Session, but the Queen feels sure that on the faith of the reports made by the Admiralty the Government would find no difficulty in convincing Parliament that they have been good stewards of the public money in taking courageously the responsibility upon themselves to spend judiciously what is necessary, and that the country will be deeply grateful for the honesty with which they have served her.

The Queen wishes Lord Derby to communicate this letter to the Cabinet.


Source.Annual Register, vol. 101; Public Documents, pp. 262–264.

Letter from the War Office to the Lords-Lieutenant.

War Office,
Pall Mall,
May 12, 1859.

Her Majesty’s Government having had under consideration the propriety of permitting the formation of volunteer rifle19 corps, under the provisions of the Act of 44 George III., cap. 54, as well as of artillery corps and companies in maritime towns in which there may be forts and batteries, I have the honour to inform you that I shall be prepared to receive through you, and consider any proposal with that object, which may emanate from the county under your charge.

The principal and most important provisions of the Act are:

That the corps be formed under officers bearing the commission of the lieutenant of the county.

That its members must take the oath of allegiance before a deputy-lieutenant or justice of the peace, or a commissioned officer of the corps.

That it be liable to be called out in case of actual invasion, or appearance of an enemy in force on the coast, or in case of rebellion arising out of either of those emergencies.

That while thus under arms its members are subject to military law and entitled to be billeted and to receive pay in like manner as the regular army.

That all commissioned officers disabled in actual service are entitled to half pay, and non-commissioned officers and privates to the benefit of Chelsea Hospital, and widows of commissioned officers, killed in service, to such pensions for life as are given to widows of officers of Her Majesty’s regular forces.

That members cannot quit the corps when on actual service, but may do at any other time by giving fourteen days’ notice.

That members who have attended eight days in each four months, or a total of twenty-four days’ drill and exercise in the year, are entitled to be returned as effectives.

That members so returned are exempt from militia ballot, or from being called upon to serve in any other levy.

That all property of the corps is legally vested in the commanding officer, and subscriptions and fines under the rules and regulations are recoverable by him before a magistrate.

The conditions on which Her Majesty’s Government will recommend to Her Majesty the acceptance of any proposal are:

That the formation of the corps be recommended by the lord-lieutenant of the county.

20 That the corps be subject to the provisions of the Act already quoted.

That its members undertake to provide their own arms and equipments, and to defray all expenses attending the corps, except in the event of its being assembled for actual service.

That the rules and regulations which may be thought necessary be submitted to me, in accordance with the fifty-sixth section of the Act.

The uniform and equipments of the corps may be settled by the members, subject to your approval, but the arms, though provided at the expense of the members, must be furnished under the superintendence and according to the regulations of this department, in order to secure a perfect uniformity of gauge.

The establishment of officers and non-commissioned officers will be fixed by me, and recorded in the books of this office, and in order that I may be enabled to determine the proportion, you will be pleased to specify the precise number of private men which you will recommend, and into how many companies you propose to divide them.

I have only to add that I shall look to you, as Her Majesty’s lieutenant, for the nomination of proper persons to be appointed officers, subject to the Queen’s approval.

I have the honour to be, etc.,
Your most obedient servant,
J. Peel.

To Her Majesty’s Lieutenant for
the County of ——.


Source.—Sir Theodore Martin’s Life of the Prince Consort, vol. iv., pp. 471, 472.

Letter from Lord Cowley (English Ambassador at Paris) to Lord J. Russell.

August 7, 1859.

More than once, in the course of the evening, His Majesty [Napoleon III.] referred to the state of public opinion in England with regard to himself. He asked whether there was any21 change for the better, observing that he could not comprehend the suspicions entertained of him—that he had done nothing to provoke them, and that they were most unjust. The idea of his invading England was, he said, so preposterous that he could laugh at it, were it not evident to him that there were people in England who seriously believed it.

I replied, that an agent must never shrink from telling the truth, however disagreeable, and I must admit, therefore, the existence in some minds of the suspicions to which his Majesty had referred! nor could I say that I saw much diminution of them as yet. There were many causes that had given rise to them: His Majesty’s sudden intimacy with Russia after the Crimean War; his sudden quarrel with Austria; the equally sudden termination of the war which made people suppose that he might wish to carry it elsewhere; the name he bore with its antecedents; the extraordinary rapidity with which the late armaments had been made; the attention devoted to the Imperial Navy; its increase; the report of the Naval Commission of 1848, which showed plainly that the augmentation of the navy was directed against England. All these matters had made people look about them, and their eyes had been suddenly opened to the fact that within easy reach of the British shores were 500,000 men, with a steam fleet as powerful, or more powerful than any that could be brought against them. This state of things had created a great deal of alarm; more perhaps than was necessary. But a great nation could not leave her fate to the chapter of accidents, and we were in fact merely resuming that place by sea which we had before the invention of steam. “In fact, Sire,” I said, “the whole question lies in a very narrow compass. England and France are the two most powerful nations of the world. Neither can, nor will submit to the supremacy of the other. France is a military Power. England, as compared with France, is not. England is a naval Power. So is France. If the balance of power between them is to be preserved, England must be the stronger by sea, as France is by land, otherwise England would be at the mercy of France.”

22 The Emperor somewhat disputed the justice of these remarks, observing that his 500,000 men were required to hold his position upon the Continent, and that I had not taken into account the insular position of Great Britain, which made her, as it were, a large fortress. But upon my observing that an insular position was of little value unless there was a fleet to keep off marauders, His Majesty said he would not dispute the point any longer; but all he hoped was that our Press would not pervert facts, and say that the extra armaments of England were called for by the armaments of France, for it was not true that France had armed.

I did not pursue this delicate matter further, but I said I was convinced that it was in His Majesty’s power, if he desired it, to recover the confidence of England. Let him appeal to the common sense of the English people by facts rather than by words, and he would soon see common sense get the better of suspicions. The Emperor replied that he desired no more, and that, if he had spoken on the subject, it was because he was afraid that the feelings of the British people would arouse the corresponding sentiments in France, and this was not desirable.

“I defy anyone to listen to the Emperor,” Lord Cowley adds, “when he is speaking of the English Alliance, without attaining the conviction that the preservation of it is that which he has most at heart. I feel equally certain that he does not dream of a war with England, and that his amour propre is wounded by our suspicions of his intentions; but, as I observed to him, no man can tell what unforeseen circumstances may produce, and that it is not so much with the events of the day, as with the possible contingencies of the future, that we have to deal.”


Source.The Brighton Herald, November 19, 1859.

The Volunteer movement goes on with increased vigour in all directions. In our own county, Chichester, the centre of a23 large agricultural district, which ought to furnish a large number of first-rate shots, has at length moved. The Mayor has called a meeting for Tuesday next. The Brighton Rifle and Artillery Corps commence drill next week. The Cinque Ports, Hastings, Rye, and Dover, have been in the field some time as clubs, and are now about to be enrolled as corps under their Warden.

Our neighbouring and equally exposed county, Kent, has at length grown ashamed of its apathy, and various corps—among them the Weald of Kent Corps—are in course of formation. But the North of Britain is at present ahead of the South. Glasgow numbers its 2,000 volunteers, and the West of Scotland alone boasts that it could turn out 30,000 to meet an invader. We hear upon good authority that 20,000 volunteers are actually under drill within 20 miles of London, but for the heart of the Empire this number should be quintupled. But Manchester is now “up.” Captain Denman, an old Parliamentary candidate, has desired that £400 subscribed for a memorial to him may be applied to the purposes of a Rifle Corps; other contributions on the same scale have been made, and Manchester is soon likely to possess its little army of home defenders. The present state of feeling in France towards England tends not a little to promote this defensive movement.

That the French Army was ripe two years ago for a dash at England we know through the Colonels’ addresses; and the French Army is not a bad index of the feelings of the population with which it mixes so freely, and of which it forms so large a proportion. But we know—and it has been known for some time by all who have relations with France—that this feeling—the belief in the inevitability of an invasion of England by France, and a perfect confidence in the result—is not confined to the army. It pervades the mass of Frenchmen; it has taken possession of the host of officials who overrun France, and who are the great engine of Government influence; it extends even to Frenchmen living in England, and who, whilst inimical to Louis Napoleon’s Government,24 are not indisposed to accept him as a champion of French grievances against England. Of the unfounded nature of these it is useless to argue to Frenchmen. They may go back to the days of Joan of Arc, or they may date from Waterloo, but at whatever point they commence there is no doubt that they rankle in the breasts of Frenchmen much more than we have been in the habit of supposing; that it is easy to irritate these old wounds, and that process has been going on for some time, side by side with an assumption of friendship on the part of the Government. It may not be intended to put the match to this magazine of national passion, but we, who would be the victims of the explosion, cannot ignore its existence. We cannot shut our eyes and ears to the daily accumulating evidence of a growing belief in the minds of all Frenchmen that the day must come when all old scores of France against England will be wiped off; that they now possess the ability to execute this work of retribution, as they regard it, and that the man who, above all others, is most interested in accomplishing it, and so working out his destiny, is at the head of the Government with unbounded power—with enormous resources—and, above all, that this man takes no pains to check the growing feeling of hostility in the breasts of his subjects, but contents himself to-day with taking credit with us for not gratifying it, as, to-morrow, he may take credit with his own subjects for giving way to it. In such a state of things it is not to be wondered at that men hitherto the most pacific in this country are thinking how they can best defend their homes, wives, children, and property, and that, at no small inconvenience, thousands are volunteering their service as a home militia. We are glad to see the movement so well afoot, and hope it may spread until the English soil is so covered with armed men that a Frenchman would as little dare to come here on a warlike errand as he would to thrust his ungloved hand into a hornets’ nest.



Source.The Greville Memoirs, edited by Henry Reeve, C.B., vol. viii., pp. 290–292, 293, 294. (Longmans, Green and Co., 1888.)

January 24.—Clarendon called on me yesterday and told me various things more or less interesting about passing events, about Cobden and the Commercial Treaty. Cobden went over to Paris with letters from Palmerston to Cowley, begging Cowley would give him all the aid he could in carrying out his object of persuading the leading people there to adopt Free Trade principles, saying he went without any mission and as “a free lance.” Cowley did what he could for him, and he went about his object with great zeal, meanwhile putting himself in correspondence with Gladstone, who eagerly backed him up, but all this time nothing was said to the Cabinet on the subject. At length one day Walewski sent for Cowley, and asked him whether he was to understand that Cobden was an agent of the British Government, and authorised by it to say all he was saying in various quarters. Cowley denied all knowledge of Cobden’s proceedings, but wrote a despatch to John Russell stating what had occurred, and at the same time a private letter, saying he did not know whether he would wish such a despatch to be recorded, and therefore to number it and place it in the Foreign Office, or put it in the fire as he thought fit. John Russell accepted the despatch, and at the same time told him he might endorse whatever Cobden did in the matter of commercial engagements.

Clarendon said that when he was at Paris four years ago for the Congress, the Emperor one day said to him: “I know you are a great Free Trader, and I suppose you mean to take this opportunity of advancing Free Trade principles here as far as you can.” Clarendon said certainly such was his intention, when the Emperor said he was happy to be able to take the initiative with him on this subject, and that he would tell him that it had just been settled in the Council of State that a great change in their commercial and prohibitive system should be26 proposed to the Chambers, which it was his intention to carry out as soon as possible. But not long after the Emperor renewed the subject, and told him he found the Opposition so strong to his contemplated measures, and the difficulties so great, that he had been obliged to abandon them for the present, and as there is no reason to doubt that the elements of opposition will be found as strong now as they were then, it is by no means certain that His Majesty will be able now to do all he wishes and has announced.

January 27.—There is apparently a strong feeling of doubt and quasi-hostility getting up against the Commercial Treaty, and it looks as if both the English and French Governments would have great difficulties in the matter. Public opinion here remains suspended till the Treaty is produced, and till we are informed what the immediate sacrifices may be that we shall have to make for it, and what are the prospective advantages we obtain in return. The French Protectionists are more impatient, and have begun to pour out their complaints and indignation without waiting to see the obnoxious Convention. Thiers is said to be furious. So far from any Commercial Treaty like this cementing the alliance, and rendering war between the two countries more difficult, it is much more likely to inflame the popular antipathy in France, to make the alliance itself odious, and render the chances of war between the two countries more probable. In maturing his scheme Louis Napoleon has given it all the appearance of a conspiracy, which is in accordance with his character and his tastes. The whole thing was carried on with the most profound secrecy, and the secret was confined to a very few people, viz. the Emperor himself, Fould, Rouher (Minister of Commerce), Michel Chevalier, and Cobden. All the documents were copied by Madame Rouher, and Rouher was so afraid that some guesses might be made if he was known to be consulting books and returns that were preserved in the Library of the Council of State, that he never would look at any of them, and made Chevalier borrow all that he had occasion to refer to. Now the Emperor springs this Treaty upon his reluctant27 Chambers and the indignant Protectionist interest. His manner of doing the thing, which he thinks is the only way by which it can be done at all, naturally adds to the resentment the measure excites. They feel themselves in a measure taken in. The objections here are of a different kind and on other grounds, but Gladstone kept his design nearly as close as the Emperor did, never having imparted it to the Cabinet till the last moment before Parliament met. I do not know how the Cabinet looked at it, only that they were not unanimous.


Source.The Times, Monday, January 30, 1860.

Yesterday evening there was a frightful riot, resulting in the destruction of much of the church property in the parish church of St. George’s-in-the-East. Unhappily, notorious as this parish has become in consequence of the religious differences which prevail, and serious as have been the disturbances which have taken place, everything which has previously occurred sinks into insignificance when compared with the terrible scene which was witnessed there last night. The morning service ... was comparatively tranquil, but at the evening service there was a scene as it would be impossible for any language adequately to describe. The conduct of the congregation, to use the only phrase at all applicable to it, was “devilish.”

Evening service commenced at seven o’clock, and at quarter of an hour before that time the church was densely packed, there being at least 3,000 persons present, of whom 1,000 were boys, who took possession of the galleries.... There was cat-calling, cock-crowing, yelling, howling, hissing, shouting of the most violent kind, snatches of popular songs were sung, loud cries of “Bravo” and “Order” came from every part of the church, caps, hats and bonnets were thrown from the galleries into the body of the church and back again, while pew-doors were slammed, lucifer-matches struck, and attempts were more than once made to put out the gas....

At seven o’clock a procession of priests and choristers28 entered the church and advanced to their accustomed place in front of the altar. It was headed by the Rev. Bryan King, the Rector, who was followed by the Rev. C. F. Lowder and ten or twelve choristers, habited in their white robes. Their appearance in the church caused intense excitement. People jumped on to their seats, pew-doors were violently slammed, and loud shouts of execration proceeded from every part of the church. Mr. Lowder said the first portion of the prayers, Mr. King the last. Scarcely a word was audible. Hitherto the congregation had contented themselves with “saying” the responses, in opposition to the choristers who sang them, but last night they indulged in responses which are not in the Prayer-Book, and which were nothing short of blasphemous mockery. At the close of the prayers Mr. Lowder ascended the pulpit, and was hissed and yelled at by the people with tremendous energy.... After the sermon, Mr. King, Mr. Lowder and the choristers made their way to the vestry room with great difficulty, being more than once subjected to personal violence.

At this moment a cry was raised for the demolition of the altar, which was elaborately decorated, and the threat would have been carried out had not the altar-gate been gallantly defended by Mr. Stutfield, one of the choristers. Over the apse, or quasi-altar, is a beautiful candelabrum, and this at once became an object of attack. Hassocks were collected from the pews and hurled at it. Many of them struck it, and every moment it was expected that it would come down. As it was, it was seriously damaged. Another object of attack was the large cross over the altar, at which hassocks and cushions were thrown from the gallery. All this time there was fighting, shouting, and singing in all parts of the church, with no one in authority to repress it. The scene at this time was perfectly frightful, and would, in all probability, have ended in bloodshed, had not Inspector Alison, upon his own authority, entered the church with a dozen policemen and ordered it to be cleared. Turned out of the church, the rioters suggested an attack on Mr. King’s house, and many persons who went there were very29 roughly handled. In the course of an hour Inspector Alison had got the whole of the disorderly mob into the street. A considerable amount of church furniture has been destroyed, the cushions in the galleries were torn up, and thrown into the body of the church, Bibles and Prayer-Books flew about in all directions, and many of the altar decorations were injured.


Source.The Times, December, 1860.

Reuter’s Telegrams.

October 13.

Pekin surrendered to the Allies this day, yielding to all demands. Thirteen soldiers have also been released.

The Emperor and the Tartar army have fled, and none of the enemy are to be seen at Pekin.

The Emperor’s Summer Palace was taken and looted on the 6th of October. The quantity of spoil was enormous.

The Pekin gates have been given up to the troops, who are all healthy and encamped on the wall.

The Allied Army will winter in the North.

Lord Elgin and Baron Gros are at Pekin.

Indemnity ready when demanded.


Source.The Times, December 29, 1860.

From the yard of the Thames Iron Shipbuilding Company will this day be launched the first armour-plated steam frigate in the possession of Britain. The dimensions of the Warrior are, extreme length over all, 420 feet; ditto breadth, 58 feet; depth from spar deck to keel, 41 feet 6 inches. Her tonnage is no less than 6,177 tons builders’ measurement. The engines have just been completed by Messrs. Penn and Sons. They30 are of 1,250 nominal horse-power, and are probably the most magnificent specimens of machinery that ever left even Mr. Penn’s celebrated works. Their total weight with boilers will be 950 tons, and for these the Warrior is only able to stow 950 tons of coal, or little more than enough for six days’ steaming. The armament, reckoning her as a 50-gun frigate, will weigh from 1,200 to 1,500 tons, or about the weight of the hull of the Great Eastern when launched. With the fine lines, great length, and immense horse-power of the Warrior, a speed of not less than 14 knots is counted upon as certain. One row of the armour-plates with which the greater part of the broadside will hereafter be covered is already in its place, covering a space of 5 feet deep by 213 feet long on either side. Only the lowest row has been thus bolted, and more than this it would be unwise to place, as the immense weight might strain the ship during the launch. The others will be bolted in her piece by piece while in the Victoria Dock.

Source.The Times, Monday, December 31, 1860.

This formidable ironclad frigate (the Warrior), the largest man-of-war ever built, was safely launched into the river on Saturday.


Source.Letters of Queen Victoria, edited by A. C. Benson, M.A., and Viscount Esher, vol. iii., p. 550. (John Murray, 1907.)

Queen Victoria to Lord John Russell.

February 10, 1861.

The Queen has received Lord John Russell’s letter enclosing the draft of one to General Garibaldi, which she now returns. She had much doubt about its being altogether safe for the Government to get into correspondence, however unofficial, with the General, and thinks that it would be better for Lord John not to write to him. Lord Palmerston, who was here this afternoon on other business, has undertaken to explain the reasons in detail to Lord John—in which he fully concurs.



Source.The Illustrated London News, April 20, 1861.

Mr. Gladstone’s Speech on the Budget.

The estimate of revenue for the year he took as follows: In the customs the duty on chicory would be doubled, bringing in £15,000; and the estimate of the customs was £23,585,000; excise, £19,463,000; stamps, £8,460,000. It was proposed to reduce the hawker’s licence duty for the year from £4 to £2; and to allow half-yearly licences. There was to be a change in the licensing of wine and refreshment houses, which would produce about £20,000. There was to be an alteration in the mode of licensing for the selling of spirits: that is, the wholesale dealers, by paying a duty of £3 3s. would be allowed to sell spirits retail, which would bring in about £5,000. Stamps on agreements for furnished houses for a part of the year would be only five shillings instead of ad valorem, as now; and house agents would have to take out a £2 licence. Stamps on foreign bills of exchange would be levied in a different manner. The revenue from taxes would be £3,050,000; income tax, £11,200,000, Post Office £3,500,000, Crown Lands £295,000, and miscellaneous £1,400,000; and the indemnity from China received in the financial year £750,000, making a total revenue of £71,823,000, being a surplus of £1,923,000, over an estimated expenditure of £69,900,000.

The Government had come to the conclusion that it would not be justified in keeping so large a balance in hand and it was proposed to apply it to the diminution of taxation. There were four articles which would at once present themselves to notice—viz., the tea and sugar duties, the tenth penny of the income tax, and the paper duty. It was proposed to remit the penny on the income tax which was imposed last year. This remission would cause a loss in the present financial year of £850,000. The rate would be 9d. in the pound on incomes above £150 a year, and 6d. in the pound on those above £100.

It was next proposed to repeal the duty on paper on32 October 1, making a loss of revenue in the year of about £665,000. The surplus for the year would be £408,000....

Referring to what were called the minor charges on commercial operations, he stated that the charges were about £320,000, and the Exchequer could not surrender that sum.

As to the portions of the reduced income tax and the duty on paper, the loss of which would fall on the year 1862–3, to the extent of about £800,000, that would probably be provided for by the sum payable for indemnity from China, and reductions in military estimates. It was only proposed to re-enact the income tax and tea and sugar duties for one year.


Source.Leaves from the Diary of Henry Greville, Third Series, pp. 369, 370. (Smith, Elder and Co., 15, Waterloo Place.)

Saturday, April 20, 1861.—There was an interesting debate last night in the House of Lords, brought on by Lord Ellenborough, on the Roman question, in which Clarendon and Lord Derby also took part. He asked whether our Government was engaged in any correspondence with the object of reconciling the spiritual independence of the See of Rome with the exercise of temporal sovereignty by the King of Italy within the Roman territory. He thought Rome was the fitting capital of a united Italy, and that the occupation by the French of that city precluded that unity.

He then discussed the Venetian question, and though he admitted the right of Austria to maintain herself in Italy, by virtue of the Congress of Vienna, he considered the time was come when she should reconcile herself with the Italian people. Holding these views, however, he deprecated the interference of the Italians in Hungary. Lord Wodehouse replied that we were not in any correspondence on the Roman question, and that H.M.’s Government considered it was neither becoming nor desirable for a Protestant country to take the initiative in the matter. The whole question depended upon the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome, and H.M.’s Government had not disguised their opinion that33 it was desirable those troops should be withdrawn. Clarendon thought Rome the proper capital, and believed the Emperor Napoleon to be sincerely desirous of withdrawing his troops whenever it would be safe for him to do so, both as regarded the Pope and his own position in France, where popular opinion was in favour of their remaining. Derby said much the same thing, but expressed his opinion that it would have been far better to establish a Northern and Southern Kingdom of Italy, in which case Rome would have lain between the two countries and the solution of the difficulty would have been easy. As, however, there was only one kingdom, the desire to have Rome for their capital was quite natural; but it was a desire that created the greatest embarrassment.


Source.—Ashley’s Life of Viscount Palmerston, vol. ii., pp. 210, 211. (Richard Bentley and Son, 1874.)

Letter from Lord Palmerston to the President of the Board of Trade.

June 7, 1861.

My dear Milner Gibson.

It is wise when the weather is fine to put one’s house in wind and watertight condition against the time when foul weather may come on. The reports from our manufacturing districts are at present good; the mills are all working, and the people are in full employment. But we must expect a change towards the end of next autumn, and during the winter and the spring of next year. The civil war in America must infallibly diminish to a great degree our supply of cotton, unless, indeed, England and France should, as suggested by M. Mercier, the French Minister at Washington, compel the Northern States to let the cotton come to Europe from the South; but this would almost be tantamount to a war with the North, although not perhaps a very formidable thing for England and France combined. But even then this year’s crop must be less plentiful than that of last year. Well, then, has the Board of Trade,34 or has any other department of the Government, any means of procuring or of helping to procure anywhere in the wide world a subsidiary supply of cotton? As to our manufacturers themselves they will do nothing unless directed and pushed on. They are some of the most helpless and shortsighted of men. They are like the people who held out their dishes and prayed that it might rain plum-puddings. They think it is enough to open their mill-gates, and that cotton will come of its own accord. They say they have for years been looking to India as a source of supply; but their looks seem to have only the first effect of the eyes of the rattlesnake, viz., to paralyse the objects looked at, and as yet it has shown no signs of falling into their jaws. The western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of Africa, India, Australia, the Fiji Islands, Syria, and Egypt, all grow great quantities of cotton, not to mention China, and probably Japan. If active measures were taken in time to draw from these places such quantities of cotton as might be procured, some portion at least of the probable falling off of this next year might be made good, and our demand this year would make a better supply spring up for future years. I do not know whether you can do anything in this matter; but it is an important one, and deserves early attention.

Yours sincerely,


Source.Annual Register, vol. 103; Public Documents, pp. 288, 289.

Letter from Commander Williams to Captain Patey.

At Sea,
November 9, 1861.


There devolves on me the painful duty of reporting to you a wanton act of aggression on this ship by the United States war screw-steamer San Jacinto, carrying a broadside of seven guns, and a shell pivot-gun of heavy calibre on the forecastle,35 which took place on the 8th instant, in the Bahama Channel, abreast of the Paredon lighthouse. The Trent left Havana at 8 a.m. on the 7th instant, with Her Majesty’s mails for England, having on board a large freight of specie, as well as numerous passengers, amongst whom were Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the former accredited with a special mission from the Confederate States to the Government of Great Britain, and the latter to the French Government, with their respective secretaries, Messrs. McFarland and Eustis.

Shortly after noon, on the 8th, a steamer, having the appearance of a man-of-war, but not showing colours, was observed ahead, hove to; we immediately hoisted our ensign at the peak, but it was not responded to until, on nearing her, at 1.15 p.m., she fired a round shot from her pivot-gun across our bows, and showed American colours. Our engines were immediately slowed, and we were still approaching her, when she discharged a shell from her pivot-gun immediately across our bows, exploding half a cable’s length ahead of us. We then stopped, when an officer with an armed guard of marines boarded us and demanded a list of passengers, which demand being refused, the officer said that he had orders to arrest Messrs. Mason, Slidell, McFarland, and Eustis, and that he had sure information of their being passengers in the Trent. Declining to satisfy him whether such persons were on board or not, Mr. Slidell stepped forward, and announced that the four persons he had named were then standing before him, under British protection, and that if they were taken on board the San Jacinto, they must be taken vi et armis; the commander of the Trent and myself at the same time protesting against this illegal act, this act of piracy, carried out by brute force, as we had no means of resisting the aggression, the San Jacinto being at the time on our port beam, about 200 yards off, her ship’s company at quarters, ports open, and tompions out. Sufficient time being given for such necessaries as they might require being sent to them, these gentlemen were forcibly taken out of the ship, and then a further demand was made that the commander of the Trent should go on board the San Jacinto, but as he expressed his36 determination not to go, unless forcibly compelled likewise, this latter demand was not carried into execution.

At 3.40 we parted company, and proceeded on our way to St. Thomas, on our arrival at which place I shall deliver to the Consul duplicates of this letter to Lord Lyons, Sir Alexander Milne, Commodore Dunlop, and the Consul-General at Havana.

I have, etc.,
(Signed) Richard Williams,
Commander, R.N.

Memorandum made by Commander Williams at the Admiralty on November 27, 1861, relative to the forcible seizure of Messrs. Slidell and Mason and their secretaries from on board the Trent.

On Mr. Slidell’s announcing that the four persons inquired for were then standing before Lieutenant Fairfax under British protection, and that if taken on board the San Jacinto they must be taken vi et armis, I addressed that officer in the following terms: “In this ship I am the Representative of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, and, in the name of that Government I protest against this illegal act—this violation of international law—this act of piracy, which you would not dare to attempt on a ship capable of resisting such aggression.” It was then that Lieutenant Fairfax waved his hand towards the San Jacinto, and additional force was sent. The marines were drawn up at the entry-port—bayonets fixed; and on Miss Slidell’s uttering an hysterical scream on being separated from her father—that is, on his breaking the window of his cabin, and thrusting his body through to escape from the distressing scene of forcible separation from his family, they rushed into the passage at the charge. There were upwards of sixty armed men in all, and the aforesaid gentlemen were then taken out of the ship, an armed guard on either side of each seizing them by the collar of the coat. Every inducement was held out, so far as importunate persuasion would go, to prevail on Mrs. Slidell and Mrs. Eustis to accompany their husbands, but as they did not wish their wives to be subjected to imprisonment37 (Lieutenant Fairfax having replied to Mrs. Slidell’s inquiry as to their disposal, if they did accompany them, that they would be sent to Washington), they remained on board the Trent, and came on to England in La Plata.

The ships getting somewhat farther apart than when the affair commenced, a boat came from the San Jacinto to request us to approach nearer; to which I replied that they had the same power as ourselves, and if they wished to be nearer to us they had their own remedy.


Source.Punch, December 14, 1861. (Reprinted by special permission of the proprietors of Punch.)

Waiting for an Answer.


Britannia waits an answer, sad and stern,
Her weapons ready, but unsheathed they lie;
In her deep eye, suppressed, the lightnings burn,
Still the war-signal waits her word to fly.
Wrong has been done that flag whose stainless folds
Have carried freedom wheresoe’er they flew:
She knows sharp words fit slaves and shrewish scolds,
She but bids those who can, that wrong undo.
She has been patient; will be patient still.
Who more than she knows war, its curse and woe?
Harsh words, scant courtesy, loud-mouthed ill-will,
She meets as rocks meet ocean’s fretful flow.
All war she knows drags horrors in its train,
Whate’er the foes, the cause for which they stand;
But worst of all the war that leaves the stain,
Of brother’s blood upon a brother’s hand.
The war that brings two mighty powers in shock—
Powers ’tween whom fair commerce shared her crown
By kinship knit, and interest’s golden lock,
One blood, one speech, one past, of old renown.
All this she feels, and therefore, sad of cheer,
She waits an answer from across the sea:
Yet hath her sadness no alloy of fear,
No thought to count the cost what it may be.
Dishonour has no equipoise in gold,
No equipoise in blood, in loss, in pain;
Till they whom force has ta’en from ’neath the fold
Of her proud flag, stand ’neath its fold again.
She waits in arms; and in her cause is safe.
Not fearing war, yet hoping peace the end.
Nor heeding those her mood who’d check or chafe:
The Right she seeks, the Right God will defend.


Source.Annual Register, vol. 104; Chronicle, p. 41.

This great merchant (Mr. George Peabody), mindful of his reception in this city of his long sojourn, has made to its citizens the splendid gift of £150,000, with the one only condition, the exclusion from its management of all sectarianism in regard to religion, and of all exclusion in regard to politics. The following is the letter which conveyed this noble gift:

March 12, 1862.


In reference to the intention which it is the object of this letter to communicate, I am desirous to explain that, from39 a comparatively early period of my commercial life, I had resolved in my own mind that, should my labours be blessed with success, I would devote a portion of the property thus acquired to promote the intellectual, moral, and physical welfare and comfort of my fellow-men, wherever, from circumstances or location, their claims upon me would be the strongest.

... It is now twenty-five years since I commenced my residence and business in London as a stranger, but I did not long feel myself a “stranger” or in a “strange land,” for in all my commercial and social intercourse with my British friends during that long period, I have constantly received courtesy, kindness, and confidence.... My object being to ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and happiness, I take pleasure in apprising you that I have determined to transfer to you the sum of £150,000 which now stands available for this purpose on the books of Messrs. George Peabody and Co.

... I have few instructions to give or conditions to impose, but there are some fundamental principles from which it is my solemn injunction that those entrusted with its application shall never, under any circumstances, depart.

First and foremost among them is the limitation of its uses absolutely and exclusively to such purposes as may be calculated directly to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the poor, who, either by birth or established residence, form a recognised portion of the population of London.

Secondly, it is my intention that now and for all time there shall be a rigid exclusion from the management of this fund of any influences calculated to impart to it a character either sectarian as regards religion, or exclusive in relation to local or party politics.

Thirdly, in conformity with the foregoing conditions it is my wish and intention that the sole qualifications for a participation in the benefits of this fund shall be an ascertained and continued condition of life such as brings the individual within the description (in the ordinary sense of the word) of “the40 poor” of London, combined with moral character and good conduct as a member of society. It must therefore be held to be a violation of my intentions if any duly-qualified and deserving claimant were to be excluded either on the ground of religious belief or of political bias.


Source.The Illustrated London News, November 15, 1862.

The Confederate screw-steamer Alabama, Captain Semmes, is the notorious vessel whose doings on the Newfoundland banks have frightened northern merchants out of their propriety, and occasioned a remonstrance from the New York Chamber of Commerce addressed to British merchants.

The Alabama, formerly the 290, was built in Mr. Laird’s yard at Birkenhead. She is a wooden vessel of 1,200 tons burden, copper-bottomed, 210 feet long, rather narrow, painted black outside, carries three long 32-pounders on a side, has a 100-pounder rifled pivot-gun forward of the bridge, and a 68-pounder on the main-deck. These are of the Blakely pattern, made by Wesley and Preston of Liverpool. She is barque-rigged, and is represented to go thirteen knots under sail and fifteen under steam. She sailed from the Mersey in August. Her officers are Americans, but her present crew are Englishmen. Captain Semmes was the dashing commander of the Confederate steamer Sumter. The Alabama is, we believe, the only vessel which the Confederate States now have on the high seas....

The ship Tonowanda, which recently arrived at Liverpool from Philadelphia, reports that she was captured by the Alabama (290) on the 9th of October at 4 p.m., in lat. 41, long. 55.

Captain Julius was taken on board, and found there Captain Harmon and crew of the late barque Wave Crest from New York for Cardiff, and Captain Johnson and crew of the late brig Dunkirk from New York to Lisbon, all prisoners and in irons on deck, their vessels having been burnt two days previous. The next day the prisoners were transferred to the Tonowanda,41 and Captain Julius alone remained on board the Alabama as hostage. On the 11th of October they captured and burnt the ship Manchester from New York for Liverpool. Her captain and crew were also put on board the Tonowanda. No more prizes were taken till the evening of the 13th, and, there being every appearance of thick weather, Captain Julius was put on board the Tonowanda and allowed to proceed after having given a ransom bond. All the captains, officers and crews are “paroled” prisoners of war.


Source.The Duke of Argyll’s Autobiography and Memoirs, vol. ii., pp. 196, 197. (John Murray, 1906.)

Speech by the Duke of Argyll at a Banquet to Lord Palmerston in Edinburgh, April 1st, 1863.

As my noble friend at the head of the Government told the meeting he addressed last night at Glasgow, we may all have our individual opinions as to the merits of the contest in America.

I, for one, have never concealed my own. As a Government and a people, we must be what we have already been—absolutely neutral. We must take no part whatever in that contest; only, let me remind you, the peace and good will we are all desirous should be maintained between these two great countries does not depend only—nay, does not depend principally—upon the conduct of the Government. My noble friend [Lord Palmerston] has spoken of the miseries of civil war, as well he may; but no word has ever fallen from his lips which implies that anyone was entitled to cast censure on the American Government for the contest in which they are engaged.

Who are we that we should speak of civil war as in no circumstance possible or permissible? Do we not remember that our own liberties have been secured through every form and variety of civil war? How much blood has been shed in the streets of this ancient capital of Edinburgh! How many gory heads42 have been nailed up in its streets! How many victims of civil war crowd our churchyards in every portion of the country! How many lie upon our mountains with nothing to mark them but the heath or the cairn! What do we say of these men? Do we consider their course to have been an evil one? Do we not rather turn back to those pages of history with the loving chisel of Old Mortality, to refresh in our minds the recollection of their immortal names? Yes, gentlemen, if it be true—and it is true—that the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the Church, it is equally true that the blood of the patriots has been the foundation of the liberties of our country. Let us extend, then, to our brethren in America the liberal interpretation which we seek to be given to our own former annals. I, for one, have not learned to be ashamed of that ancient combination of the Bible and the sword. Let it be enough for us to pray and hope that the contest whenever it may be brought to an end, shall bring with it that great blessing to the white race which shall consist in the final freedom of the black.


Source.The Illustrated London News, May 9, 1863.

Sketches in Parliament.

When a tremendous House expressed in various ways its approbation of the Budget a fortnight ago, few, if any, persons imagined that an equally great House would assemble to behold Mr. Gladstone go through the humiliating operation of eating a financial leek. Everybody knows the story of the tax on charities, which created such a monster opposition that a Chancellor of the Exchequer could not get into his own room to meet a deputation, because it was so blocked up with Royal Dukes, Archbishops, Peers, M.P.’s, and vested interests personified in every shape. Most people knew on Monday last that this part of the Budget had been “mobbed” out of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s hands; and no one could have been surprised at the deadly pallor of his cheek, the sternness of his brow, his ghastly attempts at smiles, and his palpable43 efforts to appear cool and unconcerned. When Lord Palmerston came in he sat himself next to Mr. Gladstone and entered into earnest but apparently airy conversation with him; and one could not help fancying that in his humorous way the Prime Minister was asking whether Mr. Gladstone really objected to the flavour of leeks, and assuring him that when he became as accustomed to them as he, the Premier was, from eating them two or three times a week this Session, their pungency and disagreeable flavour would be found more fanciful than real.... At length the eventful moment came, and Mr. Gladstone, with the light of battle in his eye, as Mr. Kinglake would say, rose, and with unnatural calmness proceeded to deliver, all things considered, one of the greatest speeches that were ever uttered in Parliament. Conceive a Chancellor of the Exchequer honestly impressed with the belief that he had lighted on an accumulation of abuse ... and erroneously, as we think, supposing that he was striking at the abuse by taxing it, stopped short by an impassable barrier of public opinion, and having to come down to the House to give up the most darling part of his financial scheme, and oh, worst of all, with it just half of that surplus which he had announced his determination to defend against all comers. He did not part with it, however, without such a crushing denunciation of the abuse as will prove to be its knell; and as for ingenuity in illustration and power of language in holding up to scorn and derision the subject-matter of that denunciation, none but himself could have been his parallel. As to giving up his scheme, he did nothing of the kind; he hurled it at his opponents with the fierceness and scathing force of a thunderbolt....

... Later on in the debate Mr. Gladstone, in a low voice, and with a resigned expression of countenance, announced the withdrawal of his proposition. Mr. Disraeli, who has long ceased to contend on financial matters with Mr. Gladstone, and who had been, as usual, quiescent and nearly motionless all the evening, merely paying Sir Stafford Northcote the high compliment of turning slightly towards him when he was speaking, instantly rose with the leap of a tiger, and every one expected44 a burst of the old philippic style which made him what he is. But nothing of the sort came.

The first sentence was well enough, but the rest was all the first sentence over again, and diluted and weakened by repetition; and perhaps the only real consolation Mr. Gladstone received that night was from the poverty of that attempt at giving a kick when he was down.


Source.Annual Register, 1863; English History, pp. 140, 141.

The maximum pressure of the distress occasioned by the stoppage, partial or total, of the cotton mills of Lancashire and Cheshire had been attained a short time prior to Christmas, 1862. In the month of December the number of persons receiving regular relief was supposed to be little short of 500,000. The weekly loss of wages at the same time was estimated at about £168,000. In the last two or three weeks of the year a partial improvement took place, and in January, 1863, according to the statement officially made to the Manchester Relief Committee, the number of persons receiving aid from the rates and from the contributions of the public together was 456,786. From this time a progressive decrease took place, the numbers relieved during the five months following being as follows:

In February 440,529
”  March 426,411
”  April 364,419
”  May 294,281
”  June 256,230

It thus appears that the number of persons dependent on parochial rates and on voluntary contributions became reduced at the end of the first half of 1863, as compared with the maximum amount in December, 1862, by almost one-half. This favourable result was due partly to the resumption of45 work in some of the factories, owing to an increased supply of the raw material, and partly to the absorption which had taken place to some extent of the surplus hands in other employments, and to the removal and emigration of some part of the population. This decrease in the number of unemployed operatives continued with little variation during the summer. In July the number relieved had fallen to 214,155; in August to 205,261; and in September to 184,625. The list of persons relieved at that time exhibited a steady decrease of 1,500 per week. In that month it was computed that out of the 530,000 operatives of all ages whose industry depended upon cotton, there were 362,000 in employ, of whom nearly 250,000 were at full work, and 120,251 working short time, while 171,535 were entirely out of employ. It was apprehended that, as winter approached, a reaction would take place, and that the relief lists would again begin to show a serious augmentation. But this expectation was only to a small extent realised. The number relieved in the month of October was 168,170. In November it increased in a trifling degree, being 170,859; and in December it showed an addition of about 10,000, the total being 180,900. Still, upon a comparison of the number of persons in receipt of relief in the first and last months of the year respectively, the improvement was very marked, the last week of December, as compared with January, showing the very large decrease of 275,877. The average percentage of pauperism on the population of twenty-seven unions in the last week of December, 1863, was 6·8; whereas in the corresponding week of 1862 it had been 13·2. It was further shown by a report of the Special Commissioners of the Poor Law Board on the 4th of January, 1864, that at that date, as compared with the last week in March, 1863, a reduction had taken place of 33,963 in the actual number of operatives in the cotton districts, the surplus having been transferred to other fields of employment—viz., 18,244 having emigrated to the Colonies or to the United States, and 15,725 having found other occupations within the districts.



Source.Annual Register, 1863, pp. 128, 129.

Mr. Roebuck’s Speech on Motion in favour of Recognising the Southern States as a Government.

June.—Mr. Roebuck repudiated with scorn the argument that the cause of the North was the cause of the slave. We are met by the assertion: “Oh, England cannot acknowledge a State in which slavery exists.” Indeed, I ask, is that really the case, and is any man so weak as to believe it? Have we not acknowledged Brazil? Are we not in constant communication with Russia? And is there not slavery in both those countries? Moreover, does anybody believe that the black slave would be at all improved in his condition by being placed in the same position as the free black in the North? I ask whether the North, hating slavery, if you will, does not hate the slave still more? (“No, no!”) I pity the ignorance of the gentleman who says “No.” The blacks are not permitted to take an equal station in the North. They are not permitted to enter the same carriage, to pray to God in the same part of the church, or to sit down at the same table as the whites. They are like the hunted dog whom everybody may kick. But in the South the feeling is very different. There black children and white children are brought up together. In the South there is not that hatred, that contempt, of the black man which exists in the North. There is a kindly feeling in the minds of the Southern planters towards those whom England fixed there in a position of servitude. England forced slavery upon the Southern States of America. It was not their doing. They prayed and entreated England not to establish slavery in their dominions, but we did it because it suited our interests, and the gentlemen who now talk philanthropy talked the other way. Every man who has studied the question will distinctly understand the difference between the feeling of the Northern gentleman and that of the Southern planter towards the black. There is a sort of horror—a sort of shivering in the Northerner when he comes across a black. He feels as if he were contaminated47 by the very fact of a black man being on an equality with him. That is not the case in the South. I am not now speaking in favour of slavery. Slavery is to me as distasteful as it is to anyone; but I have learnt to bear with other men’s infirmities, and I do not think every man a rogue or a fool who differs from me in opinion. But though I hate slavery I cannot help seeing the great distinction between the condition of the black in the North and his condition in the South. I believe that if to-morrow you could make all the blacks in the South like the free negroes in the North, you would do them a great injury. The cry of the North in favour of the black is a hypocritical cry, and to-morrow the North would join with the South, and fasten slavery on the necks of the blacks, if the South would only re-enter the Union. But the South will never come into the Union, and, what is more, I hope it never may. I will tell you why I say so. America, while she was one, ran a race of prosperity unparalleled in the world. In eighty years, not America, but Europe, made the Republic such a Power that, if she had continued as she was a few years ago, she would have been the great bully of the world. Why, sir, she—

“... bestrode the narrow world,
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walked under her huge legs, and peeped about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.”

As far as my influence goes, I am determined to do all I can to prevent the reconstruction of the Union, and I hope that the balance of power on the American Continent will in future prevent any one State from tyrannising over the world as the Republic did.

[For opposing view see next extract.]


Source.Annual Register, 1863; English History, pp. 130, 131.

Mr. Bright animadverted severely upon the speech of Mr. Roebuck....

Mr. Roebuck, he said, would help to break up a friendly48 nation, and create an everlasting breach between the two nations, because he deemed it for the interest of England. The whole case rested upon either a miserable jealousy or a base fear. He looked upon the interest of England from a different point of view. He believed the war was more likely than anything else to abolish slavery. The supply of cotton under slavery must always be insecure. It was the interest of England that the supply of cotton should be by free labour rather than by that of slaves. As to the political aspect of the question, the more he considered this war, the more improbable he thought it that the United States would be broken into separate Republics. The conclusion to which he had come was that if there should be a separation, the interests, the sympathies and the necessities, perhaps the ambition, of the whole Continent were such that it would be reunited under a Central Government. And this Government might be in the hands of the South. Having dwelt at considerable length upon the hideous features of Southern slavery, and eulogised the Northern institutions, it was against such a Government, he observed, in such a contest with such a foe, that Mr. Roebuck asked the House to throw into the scale the weight of the hostility of England.


Source.Annual Register, vol. 106; English History, p. 7.

Attack on Earl Russell’s Foreign Policy by Lord Derby (February 4).

He then called the attention of the House to the portion of the Queen’s speech relating to foreign affairs. Her Majesty’s Government had for two or three years past mainly rested their claim to public confidence on their foreign policy. They had abandoned the question of Parliamentary Reform the moment it had served the purpose of putting them in office. The fulfilment of the promises they had made was defeated by Lord Russell, and when he was transferred to the more serene atmosphere of the House of Lords, he pronounced the49 funeral oration of Reform. He had told them ... “to rest and be thankful,” and from that time their foreign policy had been the groundwork of the claim of Her Majesty’s Government to public confidence. I think, proceeded Lord Derby, that at the commencement the foreign policy of the noble Earl opposite might be summed up in the affirmation of the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, the extension of Liberal principles by the exercise of our moral interference, and, above all, the maintenance of uninterrupted and cordial relations with the Emperor of the French. We were told more than once that the present Government was the only one to maintain a good understanding with the Emperor of the French, or, at least, that its predecessor could not possibly have done so, and that, if the country desired to preserve cordial relations between itself and France, Her Majesty’s present advisers, and especially the noble Earl opposite, were the only persons qualified to secure that most desirable object.

Now, my lords, as to non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, when I look around me I fail to see what country there is, in the internal affairs of which the noble Earl has not interfered.

Nihil intactum reliquit, nihil tetigit quod”—I cannot say, “non ornavit,” but “non conturbavit.” The foreign policy of the noble Earl, as far as the principle of non-intervention is concerned, may be summed up in two homely but expressive words—“meddle” and “muddle.” During the whole course of his diplomatic correspondence, wherever he has interfered—and he has interfered everywhere—he has been lecturing, scolding, blustering, and retreating. Seriously—for though there may be something ludicrous about it, the matter is of too great importance to be treated only in a light and jocular manner—I cannot but feel as an Englishman that I am lowered and humiliated in my own estimation, and in that of other nations, by the result of the noble Earl’s administration of foreign affairs. Thanks to the noble Earl and the present Government, we have at this moment not one single friend in Europe, and, more than that,50 this country, the chief fault of which was that it went too direct and straightforward at what it aimed, which never gave a promise without the intention of performing, which never threatened without a full determination of striking, which never made a demand without being prepared to enforce it, this country is now in such a position, that its menaces are disregarded, its magniloquent language is ridiculed, and its remonstrances are treated with contemptuous indifference by the small as well as by the great Powers of the Continent. With regard to the policy of keeping up a good understanding with France, there is hardly a single question in which Her Majesty’s Ministers have not thwarted the policy of the Emperor. From the Mexican expedition it had withdrawn, and it had not supported the Emperor’s policy in relation to the Confederate States of America. It had also declined the Emperor’s proposition of a Congress.


Source.Ashley’s Life of Viscount Palmerston, vol. ii., pp. 249–251. (Richard Bentley and Son.)

Letter from Lord Palmerston to Lord J. Russell.

94, Piccadilly,
May 1, 1864.

My dear Russell,

I felt so little satisfied with the decision of the Cabinet on Saturday, that I determined to make a notch off my own bat, and accordingly I wrote this morning to Apponyi, asking him to come here and give me half an hour’s conversation. He came accordingly. I said I wished to have some friendly and unreserved conversation with him, not as between an English Minister, and the Austrian Ambassador, but as between Palmerston and Apponyi, that what I was going to say related to serious matters; but I begged that nothing I might say should be looked upon as a threat, but only as a frank explanation between friends on matters which might51 lead to disagreements, and with regard to which, unless timely explanation were given as to possible consequences of certain things, a reproach might afterwards be made that timely explanation might have averted disagreeable results. I said that we have from the beginning taken a deep interest in favour of Denmark—not from family ties, which have little influence on English policy, and sometimes act unfavourably—but, first, that we have thought from the beginning that Denmark has been harshly and unjustly treated; and, secondly, we deem the integrity and independence of the State, which commands the entrance to the Baltic, objects of interest to England. That we abstained from taking the field in defence of Denmark for many reasons—from the season of the year; from the smallness of our army, and the great risk of failure in a struggle with all Germany by land. That with regard to operations by sea, the positions would be reversed: we are strong, Germany is weak; and the German ports in the Baltic, North Sea, and Adriatic would be greatly at our command. Speaking for myself personally, and for nobody else, I must frankly tell him that, if an Austrian squadron were to pass along our coasts and ports, and go into the Baltic to help in any way the German operations against Denmark, I should look upon it as an affront and insult to England. That I could not, and would not stand such a thing; and that, unless in such case a superior British squadron were to follow, with such orders for acting as the case might require, I would not continue to hold my present position; and such a case would probably lead to collision—that is, war; and in my opinion Germany, and especially Austria, would be the sufferer in such a war. I should deeply regret such a result, because it is the wish of England to be well with Austria; but I am confident that I should be borne out by public opinion. I again begged that he would not consider this communication as a threat, but simply as a friendly reminder of consequences which might follow a possible course of action.

Apponyi having listened with great attention to what I said, replied that the considerations which I had pointed out were52 not new to his mind; that they had been forcibly dwelt upon, among other persons, by the King of the Belgians. That he was quite aware that, if the Austrian ships entered the Baltic, an English squadron would follow them; that in all probability one of two things would happen—either that the Austrian squadron would be destroyed, or that it would be compelled by orders from the English Admiral, to leave the Baltic. Thus they would run the risk of a catastrophe or a humiliation, and they did not wish for either. That, therefore, whatever may have been said by Rechberg in his note, we might be sure that the Austrian squadron will not enter the Baltic. This is satisfactory as far as Apponyi may be considered the organ of the Austrian Government; but I think we ought to have something more positive in writing than we have got.

I shall state to the Cabinet to-morrow the substance of my conversation with Apponyi.

Yours sincerely,


Source.The Brighton Herald, July 29, 1865.

The Great Eastern left Valentia on Sunday afternoon on her voyage across the Atlantic.

On the Saturday the operation of laying the shore-end of the cable was successfully performed, though not without considerable risk. Not only had the cable to be landed, but quite a mile in excess was to be hauled on the shore from the Caroline, a tender of the Great Eastern, to pass up the cliff and across a couple of fields which led to the Telegraph House, and gave communication through the land lines to London. But no sooner was the first end of the cable seen near the shore than a wild “Hooroo” arose from those on land who saw it coming. With a contagion, characteristic of the people, the enthusiasm passed rapidly downwards from those on the cliffs to the53 groups on the winding path, and thence, like a current of electricity, into the cable-boats themselves, the crews of which joined in the shouting, and seeing the end so near the land, and concluding their work well done, at once proceeded to heave the massive rope into the sea. From boat to boat the first bad example was followed by all until, to the dismay of the cablemen, who could not gain a hearing amid the continued cheers, every fathom up to the stern of the Caroline was thrown overboard.

The result of this touching enthusiasm was that every foot had to be underrun preparatory to the whole operation beginning de novo. It took some time to effect this, during which, it is but fair to say, the Irish were silent and dispirited enough, and in reply to the admonitions of the Knight of Kerry, promised to refrain from cheering till at least all was done—a promise which they kept faithfully. When the cable had been underrun, hauled into the boats again, and the shore end really began to come on land and was stowed away in gigantic circles at the foot of the cliff, the scene was one of real animation. Numbers of men were in the water up to their waists or shoulders, easing the cable over the rocks, while along the steep path up the cliffs was a close row of figures, men and boys, of every rank, from the well-to-do farmer down to the poorest cottier, all pulling at the cable with a will, and as if in atonement for their first fault of enthusiasm, obeying with silent and almost childlike docility every signal made by Mr. Glass or Mr. Canning as to when they were to haul or to slack away. Above them and dangerously near the edges of the heights was a fringe of eager lookers-on, while the slopes beyond were dotted with bright groups of the county gentry who had ridden or driven in to see the “landing.” By 12 o’clock the cable was well up the groove, which had been cut in the face of the cliff for its reception, and from this point the work of carrying the massive coils across the meadows to the Receiving House beyond was soon accomplished, and at a little before one o’clock, the end taken over roads, hedges, and ditches was safely housed in the sanctum sanctorum—the testing-54room. Here the batteries were at once applied and showed both conductivity and insulation to the last fathom in the hold of the Caroline absolutely perfect.

On Sunday the delicate task of splicing the end of the deep sea cable on board the Great Eastern to the shore end, laid the day before by the Caroline, was performed on board the latter vessel. The joint was then immersed in cold water for testing, and the signals proving perfect, the last protection of hemp and outside wire was added and the joint sunk again into the sea that its perfectness as to conductivity and insulation might be ascertained from the extreme end of the whole length of the cable on board the Great Eastern. It was past four o’clock when the last of these tests was concluded. By that time the Great Eastern, which had always kept moving her paddles at intervals, had forged ahead of the Caroline some two or three miles, paying out the cable slowly as she went on, and leaving the latter vessel the only float by which one portion of the wire was kept above water. The instant, however, the flags went down, the last fastenings which held it to the Caroline were cast adrift, and with a great splash the final joint of the Atlantic Telegraph and the first thirty miles or so of its length went slowly down into the blue water and were out of sight.

The Great Eastern fired two guns from her bows at 5.30 to mark the commencement of her journey, and Sir Robert Peel, mounting to the little quarter-deck of the Hawk, marked time, while three small but earnest cheers were given by the select company on board to the success of the great enterprise. In return came back a swelling hearty roar from all on the cable ship, as with the last salute of waving hats and caps and handkerchiefs, the tender dropped astern leaving the Great Eastern dipping slowly but steadily ahead at the rate of about six knots an hour. As long as signs could be made, or hats waved, the vessel was anxiously watched; but she soon hid herself in her own smoke, and when the Hawk neared the Irish coast a mere brown cloud in the horizon was all that showed where the greatest ship in the world was steaming away to endeavour to accomplish the realisation of an idea even more55 important than that which she herself embodies. May she be successful! Several telegrams of a satisfactory character have been received. We give the latest.

Thursday morning.

The Great Eastern telegraphs that 300 miles were paid out at 5.30 a.m. to-day, and that 300 miles were run at 9.50 a.m.

All is going well.

The signals are perfect.”


Source.Annual Register, 1865; English History, pp. 172–174.

The new conspiracy, commonly known by the name of “Fenian,” was only another development of that deep-seated disaffection and alienation from England which had been in past times the source of so many crimes and outrages, so many secret societies and smouldering insurrections, which had made coercive laws and a standing garrison the indispensable instruments of government in Ireland. The conspiracy which was this year brought to light, but was happily checked before it arrived at any outbreak, was larger in extent, more daring in its objects and, in some respects, more formidable in nature than any similar movement of late years. Of the name by which it was distinguished, various explanations have been given, but the most probable is that it was derived from Fionn, a celebrated chieftain who lived before the conversion of Ireland to Christianity, and who is the same as the hero of Macpherson, Fingal. By the modern Irish this individual is styled Finn Mac Cool. The Fenians were the men or people of Finn. They formed in the period above mentioned a sort of standing militia or warlike caste, whose office it was to protect the country from aggression, and support the power of the kings, in return for which service they received a certain allotment of land and other privileges. The leaders of the present movement, no doubt, saw an advantage in connecting their party with the historical and traditionary glories of Ireland. But whatever may have been the origin of the name,56 the thing itself was simply a scheme of rebellion against the English Government, organised in the United States, having its centre of rule and administration there, and intended to combine the numerous Irish settlers in that country, men for the most part bitterly hostile to English rule, with the disaffected in various parts in Ireland, in a great effort to throw off by force the yoke of the British Crown, and to take the whole power and property of the island into their own hands....

The Fenian Society had its chiefs, its officers, both civil and military, its common funds and financial agencies, its secret oaths, passwords, and emblems, its laws and penalties, its stores of concealed arms and weapons, its nightly drills and trainings of men, its correspondents and agents in various quarters, its accredited journals, and even its popular songs and ballads, all designed to extend its influence and to gain adherents from various quarters, not excepting the soldiers in the British army, and the warders in the gaols.... By their vain parade, their boastful language, and the unseemly squabbles among their rival factions, the Fenian leaders in America exposed their association to no little ridicule and contempt.... There was one feature in this form of disaffection which distinguished it in a marked manner from preceding combinations. Most of the plots and fraternities which have for some time back menaced the peace of Ireland have had more or less of a theological character. They have been animated by a fierce hostility to the Protestant Church and its partisans, while they have professed submission and respect to the Roman Catholic faith and priesthood. But the Fenian movement made no such profession. It did not seek any countenance from the spiritual authorities of the popular creed, nor any aid from religious zeal and fanaticism. On the contrary its members openly proclaimed their enmity to the Romish hierarchy and priesthood, including them as well as all holders of political power, and all owners of property, of whatever creed in their denunciations, as the enemies of the nation, who were to be swept away and destroyed.



Source.Annual Register, 1865; English History, p. 183.

“I, ... solemnly pledge my sacred word of honour, as a truthful and honest man, that I will labour with earnest zeal for the liberation of Ireland from the yoke of England, and for the establishment of a free and independent Government on the Irish soil; that I will implicitly obey the commands of my superior officers in the Fenian Brotherhood; that I will faithfully discharge my duties of membership as laid down in the constitution and by-laws thereof; that I will do my utmost to promote feelings of love, harmony, and kindly forbearance among all Irishmen; and that I will foster, defend, and propagate the aforesaid Fenian Brotherhood, to the utmost of my power.”


Source.The Times, October 19, 1865, p. 8.

One of the most popular statesmen, one of the kindliest gentlemen, and one of the truest Englishmen that ever filled the office of Premier is to-day lost to the country. The news of Lord Palmerston’s death will be received in every home throughout these islands, from the palace to the cottage, with a feeling like that of personal bereavement. There is not a province in our vast colonial empire, and there are few civilised nations in the world, which will hear without an emotion of regret that Lord Palmerston no longer guides the policy of England. Never again will that familiar voice be heard in the councils of Europe, or in the British Senate, of which he almost seemed a part, never again will that native gaiety of spirits enliven the social circle in which he loved to move. The death of no other subject could have left such a void in the hearts of his countrymen, for no other has been identified so long or so closely with our national life....

His name will not be remembered in connection with the58 triumph of a grand cause, nor was his life devoted to the development of a single idea, and yet he was a great man unless that title be confined by an arbitrary limitation to a prescribed class of moral and intellectual virtues.... In familiarity with the labyrinthine complications of modern European diplomacy he excelled all living politicians, both at home and abroad. In the art of distinguishing the prevailing current of public opinion, in readiness of tact, in versatility of mind and humour, in the masterly ease with which he handled the reins of Government, and in the general felicity of his political temperament, he had no rival in his own generation. To these gifts, however, he added an unwearied application to duty, which would itself have earned him a high position in the State.

The secret and source of his great popularity was his boundless sympathy with all classes of his countrymen. He was a truly large-hearted man, and moved among men and women of every rank as one of themselves.


Source.The Times, March 14, 1866.

Why, Sir, the right hon. gentleman below me (Mr. Horsman) who said a little against the Government, and a little against this Bill, last night made an attack upon so humble an individual as I am. He is the first member of this new party who expressed by his actions his great grief. He retired into what may be called his political Cave of Adullam, to which he invited everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was discontented. He has long been anxious to found a party in this House, and there is scarcely a member at this end of the House who is able to address us with effect, or to take much part in our debates whom he has not tried to bring over to his party and his cabal. At last he has succeeded in hooking the right hon. gentleman, the member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). I know it was the opinion many years ago of a member of the59 Cabinet that two men could make a party; and a party formed of two men so amiable, so genial as both of those right hon. gentlemen, we may hope to see for the first time in Parliament a party perfectly harmonious and distinguished by a mutual and an unbroken trust. But there is one great difficulty in the way. It is very much like the case of the Scotch terrier which was so covered with hair that you could not tell which was head and which was tail. Sir, the right hon. gentleman, the member for Calne, told us that he had had some peculiar election experiences....

Now, the constituency which the right hon. gentleman represents nominally consists of 174 members, seven of whom are working men, but his real constituency is a member of the other House of Parliament who could have sent here his butler or his groom. Sir, I think that in one sense, looking on the right hon. gentleman as an intellectual gladiator in this House, we are much indebted to the Marquis of Lansdowne that he did not do that. I have said that I wanted to explain the particulars of this Bill, and to appeal to the good sense and the patriotism of the gentlemen opposite not lightly to reject it. I ask them not to take the disparaging description of their countrymen which has been offered to the House by the member for Calne, and the hon. member for Salisbury, who, I presume, from their association at the Antipodes, seem to take only a Botany Bay view of this subject, and of the character of the great bulk of their fellow-countrymen. Why, the right hon. gentleman said on one night, when I was not here, that I, even in the matter of the cattle plague, set class against class. I ask any man in this House: Is it possible to do a thing that is more perilous than that which is done by the right hon. gentleman and his Australian colleague, the member for Salisbury, viz., to make it appear that there is a gulf which shall not be passed by legislation, between the highest, the most powerful and the most numerous portion of the middle class, and the great body of the working people who are really the very heart of this great country? Now, is it not inconceivably better to show trust in the people, for of all the follies, all the60 crimes which individuals commit, that of constant distrust of their fellow-subjects, of all the citizens of their country, is about the wildest and the most foolish.


Source.Annual Register, 1866; Chronicle, pp. 102, 103.

July 27.—This evening at about 5 o’clock English time, the cable was completed between Europe and America. Conversations had been carried on throughout the day, until word was sent to Valentia to cease signalling as they were about to make the splice with the shore end at Trinity Bay. This was effected soon after dusk. One of the earliest messages transmitted by the cable was the following:

From the Queen, Osborne, to the President of the United States, Washington.

“The Queen congratulates the President on the successful completion of an undertaking which she hopes may serve as an additional bond of union between the United States and England.”

The President replied as follows:

From Andrew Johnson, the Executive Mansion, Washington, to Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

July 30, 11.30 a.m.

“The President of the United States acknowledges with profound gratification the receipt of Her Majesty’s despatch, and cordially reciprocates the hope that the cable that now unites the eastern and western hemispheres may serve to strengthen and perpetuate peace and amity between the Government of England and the Republic of the United States.”

President Johnson’s reply to the Queen occupied only one hour and nine minutes in its transit from Newfoundland to Osborne.


The following Message was sent by the Earl of Carnarvon to Viscount Monk, Ottawa, Canada.

“I am commanded by the Queen to convey to the Governor-General of her North-American Provinces Her Majesty’s congratulations on the completion of the Atlantic telegraph and the strengthening thereby of the unity of the British Empire.

Her Majesty includes her ancient colony of Newfoundland in these congratulations to all her faithful subjects.”


July 28, 1866.


Source.Annual Register, 1866; Chronicle, p. 137.

This afternoon a meeting, supposed to be larger than any hitherto assembled in England, was held at Manchester. During the morning many local divisions marched into the town from the various populous districts around, carrying flags inscribed with the words “Nation Reform Union,” and proceeded to the square called Campfield, a centre surrounded by ten acres, in which six platforms were erected. Notwithstanding the torrents of rain which continued throughout the day, the numbers assembled were estimated by the reporters both of the local and of the London Press at between 100,000 and 200,000 persons. At each of the above sections three resolutions were carried, namely:

1. That this meeting protests against the perpetuation of class government to the exclusion of the great majority of the people from the franchise; refuses to allow itself to be made an instrument to further the means of contending parties or the selfish interests of any class; and pledges itself to adopt all means of organising and agitating for the only just basis of representation—registered residential manhood suffrage and the ballot.

2. That this meeting rejoices in the formation of the northern department of the Reform League, and pledges its support to62 the executive council in the organisation of branches throughout the North of England, and hereby declares its confidence in Mr. Edmund Beales, and the executive of the Reform League in London.

3. That this meeting tenders its warmest and most grateful thanks to Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, John Bright, Esq., John Stuart Mill, Esq., and all friends of Reform, who, throughout the late discussions in Parliament, vindicated the character and protected the rights of the people; and further, expresses confidence in the honesty and ability of Mr. John Bright to champion the people’s cause in Parliament during the coming Parliamentary struggle.

At the evening meeting in the Free Trade Hall, the following resolution was carried by acclamation:

“That this meeting, while recording its indignation at the insults offered in Parliament and by the Press to the working classes and their advocates, calls on the people of this country to allow themselves no longer to be trifled with by an oligarchic few, and to rally round those men who have upheld their cause.”


Source.The Illustrated Times, February 16, 1867.

Much alarm has been caused this week by an apprehended raid of Fenians upon the ancient city. The following summary is obtained from Mr. Fenwick, the chief constable of Chester.

The Fenians have recently organised in New York a band of fifty, whose special mission it is to proceed to England and Ireland and endeavour to resuscitate the dying brotherhood. These men are understood to have arrived in England. Fifteen of them are stationed in the metropolis, and there form a Directory. Eight of them are ex-officers of the American army.... A meeting was called for Sunday at Liverpool, and it was then resolved to attack Chester Castle the following day, seize the arms deposited there, cut the telegraph wires, tear up the rails, and make good their escape63 by rail to Holyhead, and trust to fortune to get across to Ireland. It was also understood that they would attack the banks and jewellers’ shops. It was also given out freely at the meeting why Chester Castle was selected. Up to midnight on Sunday Chester was not protected by more than half a dozen soldiers on guard at the Castle, and twice as many unarmed policemen in the city. Under their protection were no less than 9,000 stand of arms, 4,000 swords, and 900,000 rounds of ammunition, in addition to powder in bulk. There were also stored in another part of the Castle 900 stand of arms belonging to the militia; and in a small building in the city were 200 stand of arms belonging to the volunteers. It was stated that the whole force stationed at the Castle was one company of the 54th Regiment, and that they were disaffected. The first intimation received in Chester of the intended raid was at 12.30 a.m. by Mr. Fenwick from Superintendent Ryde of Liverpool, and was to the effect that an ex-officer of the American army, who produced his commission as an officer in the Fenian service, had revealed the whole plot to them. Prompt measures were taken and the commandant telegraphed to Manchester for reinforcements. Mr. Fenwick next went to the station and gave instructions for the trains to be watched as they arrived. At 2.30 a batch of thirty fellows arrived from Liverpool, and were evidently under the command of an officer. They marched up and down the platform by twos and threes, and at length took possession of the first-class refreshment room. They were soon followed by further detachments of from thirty to sixty from Liverpool, and some from Manchester, all of similar appearance. These dispersed quietly into the town. Early in the morning the volunteers were called out. They were sworn in as special constables. By the assistance of the police at Liverpool and Manchester, the Chester police were kept apprised of the different departures of suspected bodies of men. At three o’clock it was ascertained that over five hundred of these men had arrived, and that a number of their officers had been in Chester over night. Early in the afternoon the strangers became much bolder and assembled in64 threatening bodies. Fortunately at this time a company of the 54th Regiment arrived from Manchester, and the police are strongly inclined to think that this fact saved the Castle from an attack early in the evening. Affairs went very quietly up to four o’clock, when a train from Manchester and Stalybridge brought a reinforcement of four hundred in one batch. Later on forty men arrived from Halifax and seventy from Leeds. Shortly after five it was ascertained that the Fenians numbered from 1,400 to 1,500. A number of men who were supposed to be their leaders collected at a house where the police had been informed they would meet for orders.

Spies and scouts had been sent out among the Fenians early in the day, but found them extremely reticent, and could get no clue from them. At 6 p.m. these scouts brought information that the men were forming in column on the Liverpool and other principal roads.

Captain Smith, the county chief constable, had drafted a body of the county constabulary into the Castle to assist the military. A copy of the following anonymous letter sent to the chief of the Liverpool police was received by Major Fenwick in the evening, and coincided singularly with the information already in his possession:

Dear Sir,

You could do your country much service, as at present there are 600 men in Chester, to be increased by night to 700, to take the arms and ammunition of the garrison; and as the garrison is disaffected, it is supposed they will do it with little loss. They are to leave Birkenhead by every train from the first in the morning. All to be there by seven at the latest. They leave in numbers of from thirty to sixty in every train.

At night the Mayor convened a public meeting, which was most earnest; and over 500 citizens were sworn in as special constables, and paraded the town in large bodies throughout the night. It was deemed desirable to call out the yeomanry, and for that purpose the permission of Earl Grosvenor and Lord de Tabley was telegraphed for. Earl Grosvenor replied65 that he would come down by the night mail, and accordingly he and Lord Richard Grosvenor arrived in Chester at 12.48 on Tuesday morning and remained with the magistrates through the night.

Before leaving London, Earl Grosvenor communicated with the Commander-in-Chief, who at once telegraphed that he had ordered a battalion of Guards by special train to Chester. During the night the Fenians evidently came to the conclusion that the preparations were too much for them, and as the night advanced, parties of tens and twenties were seen leaving, on foot, for Warrington and other neighbouring towns.

Although all danger of any serious attempt had died away after the town’s meeting, the police were kept on duty, as many suspicious characters were still to be seen in the streets. About nine o’clock on Tuesday morning two haversacks with green bands and a quantity of ball cartridges of private make were discovered on a piece of vacant land close to the railway-station.


Source.—Leader’s Life of the Right Hon. J. A. Roebuck, M.P., pp. 313–315. (By permission.) (London: Edward Arnold, 1897.)

After the Bill, turned inside out by Liberal effort, and presenting as an Act scarcely any possible resemblance to its original shape, had established household suffrage, Mr. Roebuck at Sheffield further explained and justified his course by saying:

“I made a resolution with myself that, having got Lord Derby into power, we would, if it were possible, screw out of him a real reform of Parliament. It always appeared to me that the Whigs never could carry a second Reform Bill. I stated so in 1859. I was hooted and yelled at in this very town because I so stated. Then came Lord Derby again, and then I recollected my old determination. ‘If ever a Reform Bill is carried,’ I said to myself, ‘it will be by those men, and so sure as they bring it in, I will support them.’ I steadily supported that Bill, and what has been the result? We have got a more66 Liberal Bill than ever Whig proposed. We have got a Bill that has frightened, I believe, the very persons who proposed it. It has not frightened me. I believe we shall now find what the people of England really mean. I have great confidence in the right-heartedness of my own countrymen. I have no dread of the future.... We have got a great deal more good out of the Tory administration than out of anybody else. This Reform Bill is before us. We have now to work it.... I am sure there can be no harm to England while we have a free Press, a free people; but with that Press and constant inter-communication of thought, it will render the passing of the Reform Bill one of the greatest boons ever conferred upon the people of this country.”

On the question of the three-cornered constituencies, Mr. Roebuck subsequently explained his course in the following letter:

To a Constituent.

19, Ashley Place, S.W.

The story of the three members’ constituencies is a simple one and can soon be told. Many attempts to stop and destroy the Reform Bill were made under the guise of liberality. The project respecting the three members was one of them. It was thought that Mr. Disraeli had got to the length of his tether, that his party would go no further, and that if at this time they could be induced to recalcitrate, the Liberals who had hitherto supported the Government must vote with the real enemies of the Bill, that the Government would be put into a minority, must go out, and that the Bill would then be defeated. Mr. Disraeli said in the debate that the Government could not accede to the proposal, and that the defeat of the Government in the motion would seriously endanger the Bill. We knew what this meant—viz., that his party could not be induced to go further in the way of concession. Seeing this we said: “We will not throw away the good we have attained for the purpose of adding six members to large constituencies, and taking away six from small ones. This benefit, if it should be desired, can easily be obtained from the new Parliament when it meets. In67 the meantime we will insure the Bill.” We voted for the Government, put them into a majority, and saved the Bill. But Mr. Disraeli, upon consulting his party again, found that they deemed the trouble of the contest a greater evil than yielding the point, and they yielded so far as four members were concerned. I complained of this, and strove for Sheffield; but I was told that the party of Mr. Disraeli would go no further than four members, and so, according to my own expression, Sheffield was left out in the cold. This is the plain history of the case. It is a story that could be told of many other similar attempts to defeat the Bill, which attempts were defeated by our steady determination to carry the Bill, spite of calumny, spite of threats, spite of abuse. The Bill is now law, and is law because a number of Liberals were more far-sighted, ay, and more disinterested, than those who called themselves leaders of the Liberal party.


Source.The Times, July 9, 1867.

Letter received by Mrs. Stern from her Husband, one of the Captives in Abyssinia.

May 1, 1867.

Another month has passed since I wrote to you, a month like all the rest in this miserable prison life, full of anxious care and wearisome inactivity. Sometimes I squat down and try to beguile the tedious hours by writing sketches of sermons, and by diffusing on closely written pages the varied incidents of our painful captivity.... In our immediate neighbourhood matters have not mended much since my last. The King is still pursuing his work of devastation in the provinces that are subject to his doubtful sway. The rebels, too, with the disaffected peasantry for their allies, are doing their utmost to resent the cruelties of their lately owned ruler and acknowledged chief. The ruthless ferocity of the King has exhausted68 the patience of the most timid and servile, and all appear now to be animated by one deep and ardent passion—viz., the overthrow of the tyrant. The army he once had at his behest is scattered in bands of rebels all over the country; and as he can never recruit again his incredibly diminished hordes, he will be forced to make this Amba his last asylum and tomb, or, followed by a few faithful adherents and the most valuable captives, seek a home in the marshy jungles and entangled feverish villages of the lowlands. Whatever the issue of the contest may be, our prospects, humanly speaking, are anything but bright. We have friends near and around us, but in this land cupidity and avarice dissolve every bond, even the most tender and sacred; and after all that has transpired, the pettiest and most contemptible chieftain, if he gets us into his power, may think that by retaining in his clutches a few defenceless Europeans he will make his fortune.... About a fortnight ago all the European employés, with the exception of two old men, were, together with their wives and children and their property, with Mrs. Rosenthal and Mrs. Flad, seized. The motives which prompted His Majesty to adopt such measures of severity towards individuals who have always been most subservient and obsequious to his whims is still a mystery. The King brought various trumpery charges against them, which they repelled with energy. Their property has been partially restored to them, but they are confined in Debra Tabir, where they are guarded, but not chained. It is said that the report of Mr. Flad’s returning without the artisans, etc., furnished the ostensible cause for their imprisonment. This outburst of unprovoked resentment augurs nothing auspicious for us, and probably our position, as the majority of us expected, will not be enhanced by Mr. Flad’s return. Negotiations and delays might have averted the storm, but now as it seems looming nearer and nearer, we say, “Thy will be done.” You and all interested in our liberation, notwithstanding all that has been written from hence, must have been grievously deceived about the character of the King. Presents with another man might have effected our deliverance, but69 King Theodorus, though not loath to accept the one, wants the hostages as well—a security, as he imagines, for ever-increasing concessions.

May 2.

I just add a line to my letter of yesterday, as it is doubtful whether the opportunity for writing will not before many days have elapsed become exceedingly difficult, if not utterly impossible. The return of Mr. Flad, the disappointment of the King in not obtaining the requested accession to his white victims, and the consciousness that neither intrigue nor cunning will avail him to extort fresh concessions from the British Government, or the generosity of the British Christians, all, I believe, combine to bring before long our melancholy and doleful history to a crisis. Every day, nay, every hour, we expect to be transferred to the common prison, and to get hand-chains again. Only a week ago upwards of 200 prisoners, among whom are many persons of high rank, were ordered to be executed. This indiscriminate massacre, which has probably been prompted by the want of guards to protect them, indicates no improvement in the tyrant’s temper. We fear that wilful, wicked misrepresentations, and cruel, unpardonable selfishness united in concealing the true state of our position and the well-known designs of the King....

Henry A. Stern.


Source.The Times, April 14, 1868.

The following letter, addressed to the Rev. Arthur Baker, was sent to the “Times” for publication:

Hughenden Manor,
Maundy Thursday, 1868.

Reverend Sir,

I have just received your letter, in which, as one of my constituents, you justify your right to ask for some explanation of my alleged assertion that the High Church Ritualists had been long in secret combination, and were now70 in open confederacy with Irish Romanists for the destruction of the union between Church and State....

You are under a misapprehension if you suppose that I intended to cast any slur upon the High Church party. I have the highest respect for the High Church party; I believe there is no body of men in this country to which we have been more indebted, from the days of Queen Anne to the days of Queen Victoria, for the maintenance of the orthodox faith, the rights of the Crown, and the liberties of the people.

In saying this I have no wish to intimate that the obligations of the country to the other great party in the Church are not equally significant. I have never looked upon the existence of parties in the Church as a calamity; I look upon them as a necessity, and as a beneficent necessity. They are the natural and inevitable consequences of the mild and liberal principles of our ecclesiastical polity, and of the varying and opposite elements of the human mind and character.

When I spoke, I referred to an extreme faction in the Church, of very modern date, that does not conceal its ambition to destroy the connection between Church and State, and which I have reason to believe has been for some time in secret combination, and is now in open confederacy, with the Irish Romanists for the purpose.

The Liberation Society, with its shallow and short-sighted fanaticism, is a mere instrument in the hands of this confederacy, and will probably be the first victim of the spiritual despotism the Liberation Society is now blindly working to establish.

As I hold that the dissolution of the union between Church and State will cause permanently a greater revolution in this country than foreign conquest, I shall use my utmost energies to defeat these fatal machinations.

Believe me, Rev. Sir, your faithful member and servant,

B. Disraeli.

The Rev. Arthur Baker, A.M.,
Rector of Addington.



Source.The Times, April 28, 1868.

Despatches from the Commander-in-Chief (Sir Robert Napier).

Without date.

1. An Engagement took place before Magdala on Good Friday between our troops and the army of Theodore, in which the latter was defeated with heavy loss.

Casualties on our side—Captain Roberts, fourth Foot, wounded in the arm, and fifteen rank and file wounded.

No one killed.

On the two following days Theodore sent into our camp every European that he had in his power, both captives and employés.

Theodore has not yet surrendered himself, according to my demand. He has been given twenty-four hours to decide. The King’s troops are completely demoralised.

Robert Napier.

April 14.

2. Theodore’s army much disheartened by the severe losses of the 10th instant.

A portion of the chiefs surrendered the most formidable position of Shilasse(?), and many thousand fighting men laid down their arms.

Theodore retired to Magdala with all who remained faithful.

Magdala taken by assault on the 13th under cover of Armstrong steel guns, eight-inch mortars, and rocket battery.

Ascent to gates most formidable. Theodore killed, defending to the last; our loss small.

Army will return immediately. About—guns and mortars taken.

Robert Napier.

Despatches from “Times” Special Correspondent.

April 12.

King Theodore attacked the First Brigade near Magdala on Good Friday, but was repulsed with heavy loss—about 500 men being killed.... Darkness stopped the pursuit.

72 The enemy left their wounded on the field. On Saturday King Theodore sent in a flag of truce and offered to treat for unconditional surrender of the English prisoners. The captives have joined the camp.

It is believed the remaining Europeans will be surrendered.

The Abyssinian troops are utterly disheartened.

Theodore has attempted suicide.

April 14.

Magdala was stormed yesterday. Theodore was deserted by nearly all his army, but made a desperate resistance with a few devoted followers.

Theodore killed himself with his pistol as the British troops approached him.

The British loss was about ten men wounded....

Despatch from Special Correspondent of “New York Herald.”

April 13.

The truce ended this morning. King Theodore had not surrendered. Fallas Fellasse(?) Islange had surrendered at once without fighting. Theodore had retreated to Magdala. He planted five guns at the base of the ascent. When General Napier came in sight, the King opened fire. The English replied with ten-pounder Armstrong guns, and seven-pounder rockets. The King left his guns, barricaded the sally-ports, and opened with musketry. He gave no signs of surrendering. The bombardment lasted three hours. An assault was then ordered. The fortress was carried after vigorous resistance. The Abyssinian loss, is 68 killed and 200 wounded. The English loss is 15 wounded, rank and file. King Theodore was found dead, shot in the head. His body was recognized by the Europeans who had been released. Some say he was killed in battle, and others that he committed suicide. His two sons have been taken prisoners. The fortress presents many evidences of barbaric splendour. Among the trophies taken are 4 gold crowns, 20,000 dollars, 1,000 silver plates,73 many jewels and other articles, 5,000 stands of arms, 28 pieces of artillery, 10,000 shields and 10,000 spears. The European prisoners [numbering 60 men, women, and children] will depart for the sea-coast to-morrow. The army will depart immediately.


Source.Speeches of John Bright, edited by J. E. Thorold Rogers, pp. 219, 220. (Macmillan and Co., 1869.)

Speech on Mr. Gladstone’s Resolutions for Disestablishing the Irish Church.

Now I challenge any hon. gentleman on the other side to deny this: that out of half a million Episcopalians in Ireland there are many—there are some in the Irish nobility, some landed proprietors, some magistrates, even some of the clergy, a great many Irishmen—who believe at this moment that it is of the very first importance that the proposition of the right hon. gentleman, the Member for South Lancashire, should be carried. I am not going to overstate my case. I do not say that all of them are of that opinion. Of that half-million say that one-fourth—I will state no number—but of this I am quite certain, that there is an influential, a considerable, and, as I believe, a wise minority, who are in favour of distinct and decided action on the part of Parliament with regard to this question. But if you ask the whole Roman Catholic population of Ireland, be they nobles, or landed proprietors, or merchants, or farmers, or labourers—the whole number of the Catholic population in Ireland being, I suppose, eight or nine times the number of Episcopalians—these are probably, without exception, of opinion that it would be greatly advantageous and just to their country if the proposition submitted on this side of the House should receive the sanction of Parliament. Now, if some Protestants and all Catholics are agreed that we should remove this Church, what would happen if Ireland were 1,000 miles away and we were discussing it as we might discuss74 the same state of affairs in Canada? If we were to have in Canada and in Australia all this disloyalty among the Roman Catholic population owing to the existence of a State Church there, the House would be unanimous that the State Church in those Colonies should be abolished, and that perfect freedom in religion should be given.

But there is a fear in the mind of the right hon. gentleman the Home Secretary that the malady which would exist in Ireland might cross the Channel and appear in England; that, in fact, the disorder of Voluntaryism, as he deems it, in Ireland, like any other contagious disorder, might cross the Channel by force of the west wind, lodging first in Scotland, and then crossing the Tweed and coming south to England. I think the right hon. gentleman went so far as to say that he was so much in favour of religious equality that if you went so far as to disestablish the Church in Ireland, he would recommend the same policy for England. Now, with regard to that, I will give you an anecdote which has reference to Scotland. Some years ago I had the pleasure of spending some days in Scotland at the house of the late Earl of Aberdeen after he had ceased to be Prime Minister. He was talking of the disruption of the Church of Scotland, and he said that nothing in the course of his public life had given him so much pain as the disruption and the establishment of the Free Church in that country; but he said he had lived long enough to discover that it was one of the greatest blessings that had ever come to Scotland. He said that they had a vast increase in the number of churches, a corresponding increase in the number of manses or ministers’ houses, and that schools had increased, also, to an extraordinary extent; that there had been imparted to the Established Church a vitality and energy which it had not known for a long period; and that education, morality, and religion had received a great advancement in Scotland in consequence of that change. Therefore, after all, it is not the most dreadful thing in the world—not so bad as a great earthquake—or as many other things that have happened. I am not quite sure that the Scottish people themselves may not some day ask you—if you75 do not yourselves introduce and pass it without their asking—to allow their State Church to be disestablished.

I met only the other day a most intelligent gentleman from the north of Scotland, and he told me that the minister of the church he frequented had £250 a year from the Establishment Funds, which he thought very much too little, and he felt certain that if the Establishment were abolished and the Church made into a Free Church, the salary of the minister would be immediately advanced to at least £500 a year. That is a very good argument for the ministers, and we shall see, by-and-by, if the conversion of Scotland proceeds much further, that you may be asked to disestablish their Church.


Source.—Morley’s Life of Gladstone, vol. ii., pp. 273–276. (Macmillan and Co.)

On July 16, the Bill, restored substantially to its first shape, was again back on the table of the Lords, and shipwreck seemed for five days to be inevitable. On July 20, at eleven o’clock, by a majority of 175 to 93, the Lords once more excluded from the preamble the words that the Commons had placed and replaced there, in order to declare the policy of Parliament on matters ecclesiastical in Ireland. This involved a meaning which Mr. Gladstone declared that no power on earth could induce the Commons to accept. The crisis was of unsurpassed anxiety for the Prime Minister. He has left his own record of its phases:

Saturday, July 17.—By desire of the Cabinet I went to Windsor in the afternoon and represented to H. M. what it was in our power to do—namely, although we had done all we could do upon the merits, yet, for the sake of peace and of the House of Lords, [we were willing] (a) to make some one further pecuniary concession to the Church of sensible though not very large amount; (b) to make a further concession as to curates, slight in itself; (c) to amend the residue clause so as to give to Parliament the future control, and to be content76 with simply declaring the principle on which the property should be distributed....

The further pecuniary concession we were prepared to recommend would be some £170,000 or £180,000.

Sunday, July 18.—In the afternoon Lord Granville called on me and brought me a confidential memorandum, containing an overture which Mr. Disraeli had placed in the hands of Lord Bessborough for communication to us.... While the contention as to the residue was abandoned, and pecuniary concessions alone were sought, the demand amounted, according to our computation, to between £900,000 and £1,000,000. This it was evident was utterly inadmissible. I saw no possibility of approach to it, and considered that a further quarter of a million or thereabouts was all that the House of Commons could be expected or asked further to concede.

Monday, July 19.—Those members of the Government who had acted as a sort of Committee in the Irish Church question met in the afternoon. We were all agreed in opinion that the Disraeli overture must be rejected, though without closing the door, and a reply was prepared in this sense, which Lord Granville undertook to send. [Draft in the above sense that no sum approaching £1,000,000 could be entertained].

Tuesday, July 20.—The Archbishop (Dr. Tait), who had communicated with Lord Cairns in the interval, came to me early to-day and brought a memorandum as a basis of agreement, which, to my surprise, demanded higher terms than those of Mr. Disraeli. I told the Archbishop the terms in which we had already expressed ourselves to Mr. Disraeli. Meanwhile an answer had come from Mr. Disraeli stating that he could not do more. Then followed the meeting of the opposition peers at the Duke of Marlborough’s.

Wednesday, July 21.—The Cabinet met at eleven, and I went to it in the mind of last night. [Not to abandon the Bill absolutely, but only to suspend the Government’s responsibility for it, leaving the Opposition to work their own will, and with the intention, when this had been done, of considering the matter further]. We discussed, however, at great lengths77 all possible methods of proceeding that occurred to us. The course adopted was to go through the endowment amendments, and if they were carried adversely, then to drop their responsibility.

Thursday, July 22.—I was laid up to-day and the transactions were carried on by Lord Granville, in communication with me from time to time at my house.

The proceedings of this critical day are narrated by Lord Granville in a memorandum to Mr. Gladstone dated August 4.

“After seeing you, I met Lord Cairns at the Colonial Office. He offered me terms.... I asked him whether, in his opinion, he, the Archbishop, and I could carry anything we agreed upon. He said, ‘Yes, certainly.’ After seeing you, I met Lord Cairns a second time in his room in the House of Lords. I asked, as a preliminary to giving any opinion on his amendments, how he proposed to deal with the preamble. He said, ‘To leave it as amended by the Lords.’ I then proposed the words which were afterwards adopted in the 68th clause. He was at first taken aback, but admitted that he had personally no objection to them.... We agreed upon the commutation clause if the 7 and the 5 per cent. were lumped together. On the curates’ clause we could come to no agreement. He proposed to see Lord Salisbury and the Archbishop, and to meet again at four at the Colonial Office. He spoke with fairness as to the difficulty of his position, and the risk he ran with his own party. I again saw you, and asked the Irish Attorney-General to be present at the last interview. I stated to him in Lord Cairns’ presence how far we agreed, and expressed my regret that on the last point—the curates—our difference was irreconcilable. Lord Cairns said he hoped not, and proceeded to argue strongly in favour of his proposal. He at last, however, at 4.30, compromised the matter by accepting five years instead of one. I shook his hand, which was trembling with nervousness. We discussed the form of announcing the arrangement to the House. We at once agreed it was better to tell the whole truth, and soon settled that it would be better for its success that he should announce78 the details. I was afterwards apprehensive that this latter arrangement might be disadvantageous to us, but nothing could be better or fairer than his statement.”

“The news was brought to me on my sofa,” Mr. Gladstone says, “and between five and six o’clock I was enabled to telegraph to the Queen. My telegram was followed up by a letter at 7 p.m., which announced that the arrangement had been accepted by the House of Lords, and that a general satisfaction prevailed.”

To the Queen he wrote (July 22):

“Mr. Gladstone is at a loss to account for the great change in the tone and views of the Opposition since Sunday and Monday and even Tuesday last, but on this topic it is needless to enter. As to the principal matters, the basis of the arrangement on the side of the Government is much the same as was intended when Mr. Gladstone had the honour of an audience at Windsor on Saturday; but various minor concessions have been added. Mr. Gladstone does not doubt that, if the majority of the House of Lords should accede to the advice of Lord Cairns, the Government will be able to induce the House of Commons to agree on the conditions proposed. Mr. Gladstone would in vain strive to express to your Majesty the relief, thankfulness, and satisfaction with which he contemplates not only the probable passing of what many believe to be a beneficent and necessary measure, but the undoubted and signal blessing of an escape from a formidable constitutional conflict.”


Source.—Morley’s Life of Gladstone, vol. ii., pp. 293, 294. (Macmillan and Co.)

Public opinion was ripening. The Times made a contribution of the first importance to the discussion, in a series of letters from a correspondent, that almost for the first time brought the facts of Irish land before the general public. A pamphlet from Mill, then at the height of his influence, upon both writers and readers, startled them by the daring proposition,79 that the only plan was to buy out the landlords. The whole host of Whig economists and lawyers fell heavily upon him in consequence. The new voters showed that they were not afraid of new ideas. It was not until January 25 that peril was at an end inside the Government.

January 25, 1870.—Cabinet. The great difficulties of the Irish Land Bill THERE are now over. Thank God!

February 7.—With the Prince of Wales 3¼–4¼ explaining to him the Land Bill and other matters. He has certainly much natural intelligence.

February 15.—Introduced the Irish Land Bill in a speech of 3¼ hours. Well received by the House at large.

The policy of the Bill as tersely explained by Mr. Gladstone in a letter to Manning was “to prevent the landlord from using the terrible weapon of undue and unjust eviction by so framing the handle that it shall cut his hands with the sharp edge of pecuniary damages. The man evicted without any fault, and suffering the usual loss by it, will receive whatever the custom of the country gives, and where there is no custom, according to a scale, besides whatever he can claim for permanent buildings or reclamation of land. Wanton eviction will, as I hope, be extinguished by provisions like these. And if they extinguish wanton eviction, they will also extinguish those demands for unjust augmentations of rent, which are only formidable to the occupier, because the power of wanton or arbitrary eviction is behind them.” What seems so simple, and what was so necessary, marked in truth a vast revolutionary stride. It transferred to the tenant a portion of the absolute ownership, and gave him something like an estate in his holding. The statute contained a whole code of minor provisions, including the extension of Mr. Bright’s clauses for peasant proprietorship in the Church Act; but this transfer was what gave the Act its place in solid legal form. The second reading was carried by 442 to 11, the minority being composed of eight Irish members of advanced type and three English Tories. The Bill was at no point fought high by the Opposition. Mr. Disraeli moved an amendment, limiting compensation80 to unexhausted improvements. The Government majority fell to 76, “a result to be expected,” Mr. Gladstone reports, “considering the natural leanings of English and Scotch members to discount in Ireland what they would not apply in Great Britain. They are not very familiar with land tenures.” One fact of much significance he notes in these historic proceedings. “Disraeli,” he writes to the Duke of Argyll (April 21, 1870), “has not spoken one word against valuation of rents or perpetuity of tenure.” It was from the House of his friends that danger came.

April 4.—H. of C. Spoke on Disraeli’s amendment. A majority of 76, but the navigation is at present extremely critical.

April 7.—H. of C. A most ominous day from end to end. Early in the evening I gave a review of the state of the Bill, and later another menace of overturn if the motion of Mr. W. Fowler [a Liberal banker] should be carried. We had a majority of only 32.

To Lord Russell he writes (April 12):

“I am in the hurry-scurry of preparation for a run into the country, but I must not omit to thank you for your kind and welcome letter. We have had a most anxious time in regard to the Irish Land Bill. The fear that our Land Bill may cross the water creates a sensitive state of mind among all Tories, many Whigs, and a few Radicals.”

Phillimore records a visit in these critical days:

April 8.—Gladstone looked worn and fagged. Very affectionate and confidential, Gladstone feels keenly the want of support in debate. Bright ill. Lowe no moral weight. “I feel when I have spoken, that I have not a shot in my locker.”

As a very accomplished journalist of the day wrote, there was something almost painful in the strange phenomenon of a Prime Minister fighting as it were all but single-handed the details of his own great measure through the ambuscades and charges of a numerous and restless enemy—and of an enemy determined apparently to fritter away the principle of the measure under the pretence of modifying its details. “No Prime Minister has81 ever attempted any task like it—a task involving the most elaborate departmental readiness, in addition to the general duties and fatigues of a Prime Minister, and that too in a session when questions are showered like hail upon the Treasury bench.”A Then the Government put on pressure and the majority sprang up to eighty.

The debate in the Commons lasted over three and a half months; or about a fortnight longer than had been taken by the Church Bill. The third reading was carried without a division. In the Lords the Bill was read a second time without a division. Few persons clearly foresaw that it was the first step of a vast transfer of property, and that in a few years it would become customary for Ministers of the Crown to base all their legislation on the doctrine that Irish land is not an undivided ownership, but a simple partnership.B

A Spectator.

B Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. i., p. 165.


Source.Life of the Right Hon. W. E. Forster, M.P., by T. Wemyss Reid, vol. i., pp. 501–503. (Chapman and Hall, 1888.)

The fate of the Bill was still in suspense. No one could be quite sure that Mr. Gladstone intended to press forward with it during that session. Mr. Gladstone himself held strongly to the Bill in the shape in which it had first been introduced; but he had been startled and alarmed by the rising of the Liberal party against it, and he did not appear to share the robust self-confidence with which Mr. Forster faced the formidable flank attacks that were being delivered upon the Government from the benches below the gangway. On June 12 Mr. Forster submitted to Mr. Gladstone a Memorandum on the subject of the measure and the rival amendments which had been proposed by the representatives of the different sections of their own party.

“The first question which suggests itself,” said Mr. Forster in this Memorandum, “is, Why listen to either of their amendments?82 Why not stick to our Bill as it stands? Our proposal that the majority should have what religious teaching it pleases, while the minority is protected, is logical and impartial in theory, and would work well in practice. Can we not, then, carry it? Yes, with the help of the Opposition; but I fear a majority of our side of the House would vote against it. All the Radicals—not merely men like Fawcett, but earnest supporters of the Bill like Mundella—all the Dissenters from Baines to Richards, would find themselves forced to oppose us, and they would be followed, or rather led, into the lobby by the Whigs, by Sir George Grey and Whitbread; and all our best friends, like Brand, would beg us to prevent a division which would break up the party.”

Clearly Mr. Forster, when he penned this Memorandum, had no liking for the idea of carrying the Bill by means of the votes of the Opposition and against those of his party. After discussing the various amendments, he declared himself in favour of one proposed by Mr. Cowper-Temple, which was virtually identical with his own suggestion to Lord Ripon in the letter of May 18. By this amendment it was ordered that no catechism or religious formulary distinctive of any particular denomination should be taught in the public schools.

“It may be said,” continued Mr. Forster in his Memorandum, “that this plan is unjust inasmuch as it does not give the majority which prefers catechisms the same chance as the majority which does not, and it is insufficient because it still leaves the Boards free to quarrel as to whether they will have the Scriptural teaching or purely secular, or the quasi-secular schools suggested by Richards. To the last objection the sole reply, and to my mind the sufficient reply, is that this plan will be acceptable to a large majority in the House and in the country, because by excluding the Catechism it silences the rallying-cries of controversy and limits the range for dispute; and because it binds, by Act of Parliament, to have none of the theoretical character teaching which would naturally be given by the schoolmaster to young children in a common school, but to which the local bodies wish to be guided by Parliament.

83 “With regard to the majorities which decidedly prefer catechisms, especially the Catholics, I think we can and should meet their case. I confess I cannot but think this would have been easier to do if we had framed the Bill in accordance with my original Memorandum, and, prescribing Bible lessons as a rule, had then made allowance for exceptional localities, desiring either purely secular or distinctive schools.”

On June 16 the debate on the Bill was at last resumed, and Mr. Gladstone then made a statement which in substance was merely an amplification of Mr. Forster’s suggestion.


Source.—Morley’s Life of Gladstone, vol. ii., p. 341. (Macmillan and Co., 1903.)

Letter from Mr. Gladstone to John Bright (August 1, 1870).

Although some members of the Cabinet were inclined on the outbreak of this most miserable war to make military preparations, others, Lord Granville and I among them, by no means shared that disposition, nor I think was the feeling of Parliament that way inclined. But the publication of the Treaty has altered all this, and has thrown upon us the necessity either of doing something fresh to secure Belgium, or else of saying that under no circumstances would we take any step to secure her from absorption. This publication [text of a projected agreement between the French and Prussian Governments] has wholly altered the feeling of the House of Commons, and no Government could at this moment venture to give utterance to such an intention about Belgium. But neither do we think it would be right, even if it were safe, to announce that we would in any case stand by with folded arms and see actions done which would amount to a total extinction of public right in Europe.



Source.The Illustrated London News, April 22, 1871.

On Thursday the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his usual financial statement. It appeared that the deficiency this year amounted to £2,800,000, and the right hon. gentleman proposes to meet it by increasing the probate and legacy duty; in the first degree from 1 to 2 per cent.; in the second degree from 3 to 3½ per cent., and in the third degree from 3½ to 5 per cent., estimating the gain to the revenue of about £1,000,000. He also proposed to equalise the duties payable on testate and intestate property, making it in all 2 per cent. He next proposed to put a halfpenny stamp on each box of lucifer matches containing not more than one hundred, and a penny on each box of vesta matches containing not more than one hundred. By the former he expected to gain £550,000, and £300,000 by the latter. This, he estimated, would reduce his deficit to £1,950,000, and that he proposed to make up by increasing the income-tax from £1 13s. 4d. to £2 4s. per cent., which he calculated would make up the remaining deficit.


Source.The Illustrated London News, April 29, 1871.

A numerous gathering of persons employed in the manufacture of matches was held on Sunday afternoon in Victoria Park, at which a resolution was unanimously passed condemning Mr. Lowe’s proposed impost in strong terms. According to one of the speakers, the daily bread of 15,000 persons in the east of London depends upon the trade in matches. Several thousand persons engaged in the match trade on Monday assembled in the Bow Road, and having formed a procession, set out to march to the House of Commons, there to present a petition against the threatened duty on matches. At a short distance from its starting-point the procession was broken up by the police, but the people85 managed in some degree to re-form their ranks, and, after many difficulties (more especially in their progress along the Thames Embankment), they arrived at the Houses of Parliament. This, however, was not accomplished without another collision with the police, in which one or two arrests were made. One party of the processionists even succeeded in making their way into Westminster Hall, but they were speedily removed.


Source.The Illustrated London News, July 22, 1871.

On Thursday (July 20) Sir George Grey asked the Government whether that House, having sanctioned their proposal for the indemnification of officers on the abolition of purchase in the Army, they intend to take measures to prevent the future violation of the law involved in the continued payment of over-regulation prices for commissions. Mr. Gladstone made a long reply, in the course of which he stated that, after consideration, the Government had resolved to advise Her Majesty to take the decisive step of cancelling the warrant under which purchase was legal. That advice had been accepted and acted upon by Her Majesty, and a new warrant had now been framed in terms conformable to the law, so that it was his duty to announce, on the part of the Government, that at present purchase in the Army no longer existed. (Loud and continued cheers.)

When he said that purchase no longer existed, he was reminded by his right hon. friend (Mr. Cardwell) to explain that it did not mean that it was extinguished from the present moment, but a day had been named—November 1 of the present year—from and after which there could be no purchase or sale of commissions in the British Army. Although the amendment of the Duke of Richmond had been carried in the House of Lords [155 for the amendment, which was against the second reading, 130 against], he was advised that that86 would not prevent the Bill from being proceeded with; and it would now remain to be seen how the House of Lords would act under the circumstances which he had stated, and whether, purchase being abolished, they would go on with the other portions of the Bill.

In conclusion, he begged to say that, come what might, under all circumstances the Government would use the best means in their power, mindful of the honourable pledges they had given, to secure at the hands of Parliament just and liberal terms for the officers.

Mr. Disraeli entered his protest against the course the Prime Minister had taken, and said that Minister was most unwise, who, being baffled in passing an important measure through one House of the Legislature, took upon himself the responsibility and danger of advising the Queen to exercise her prerogative and set the opinion of that House at defiance.


Source.The Illustrated London News, August 19, 1871.

The first statute holiday of the first Monday in August, under the Bank Holidays Act, was very generally observed on the 7th; and another year this holiday will probably be still more general. The name of Sir John Lubbock and the first Monday in August will henceforth be associated with pleasant recollections in the minds of the clerks of the bankers, brokers, merchants, and traders of the city. At all events, the principal employers of labour in the City, many in the east and a few in the west, took advantage of the provision contained in the new Act, and closed their establishments. The Government offices in the City remained open, but all the warehouses and offices of public companies, the Royal Exchange and Lloyd’s, and nearly all the retail shops in Cannon Street, the Poultry, and Cornhill, were closed. The holiday having been wisely fixed for Monday, a large number of those for whose benefit the measure was more especially passed were able to leave town87 on Saturday afternoon, and thus to secure two clear days in the country. But still many thousands thronged to the railway stations in the morning. Notwithstanding this exodus of pleasure-seekers, the principal exhibitions and places of amusement had fully the average number of visitors....

In the east end of the town many of the manufactories were closed, and several of the great capitalists, who give their workmen an annual “treat,” engaged fields in which the workmen, with their wives and families, were entertained and amused with outdoor sports. By rail and by river more than 10,000 Oddfellows of the North London District of the Manchester Unity went down to the North Woolwich Gardens to take part in a fête held for the benefit of the widows and orphans of deceased members. On Monday night the great thoroughfares in the City leading from the railways—especially at Ludgate Hill, the Bank, and Gracechurch Street—were filled with holiday folks “homeward bound.” Several schools gave a whole holiday to the pupils, and children of all ages formed part of most of the groups. Not a tipsy or ill-conducted person could be seen. The day had been glorious, and the sum of happiness and social and domestic enjoyment evidently conferred by this first Bank Holiday in August testifies to the wisdom of the Legislature.


Source.Life of Thomas Henry Huxley, by his Son, vol. ii., pp. 342, 343. (Macmillan and Co., 1900.)

At the first meeting of the Education Committee of the London School Board, Mr. W. H. Smith, M.P., proposed, and Mr. Samuel Morley, M.P., seconded a resolution in favour of religious teaching. “That in the schools provided by the Board, the Bible shall be read, and there shall be given therefrom such explanations and such instruction in the principles of religion and morality as are suited to the capacities of children,” with certain provisos. Several antagonistic amendments were proposed; but Professor Huxley gave his support88 to Mr. Smith’s resolutions, which, however, he thought might “be trimmed and amended in a way that the Rev. Dr. Angus had suggested. His speech, defining his own position, was a very remarkable one. He said it was assumed in the public mind that this question of religious instruction was a little family quarrel between the different sects of Protestantism on the one hand, and the old Catholic Church on the other. Side by side with this much shivered and splintered Protestantism of theirs, and with the united fabric of the Catholic Church (not so strong temporally as she used to be, otherwise he might not have been addressing them at that moment), there was a third party growing up into very considerable and daily increasing significance, which had nothing to do with either of those great parties, and which was pushing its own way independent of them, having its own religion and morality, which rested in no way whatever on the foundations of the other two.” He thought that “the action of the Board should be guided and influenced very much by the consideration of this third great aspect of things,” which he called the scientific aspect, for want of a better name. “It had been very justly said that they had a great mass of low, half-instructed population which owed what little redemption from ignorance and barbarism it possessed mainly to the efforts of the clergy of the different denominations. Any system of gaining the attention of these people to these matters must be a system connected with, or not too rudely divorced from, their own system of belief. He wanted regulations, not in accordance with what he himself thought was right, but in the direction in which thought was moving.” He wanted an elastic system that did not oppose any obstacle to the free play of the public mind. Huxley voted against all the proposed amendments, and in favour of Mr. Smith’s motion. There were only three who voted against it; while the three Roman Catholic members refrained from voting. This basis of religious instruction, practically unaltered, has remained the law of the Board ever since.

There was a controversy in the papers between Professor89 Huxley and the Rev. W. H. Freemantle as to the nature of the explanation of the Bible lessons. Huxley maintained that it should be purely grammatical, geographical, and historical in its nature; Freemantle that it should include some species of distinct religious teaching, but not of a denominational character.


Source.Life of the Right Hon. W. E. Forster, M.P., by T. Wemyss Reid, vol. ii., pp. 22, 23. (Chapman and Hall, 1888.)

But when everything seemed to be settled, and there was at last good hope of the final removal of the long-standing obstacle to the friendship of the two peoples, a new difficulty made its appearance in a very unexpected quarter. This was the claim for indirect damages, which were set forth in the “case” of America, as it was presented to the Court of Arbitration at Geneva. Great was the indignation in England when, at the close of January, 1872, it first became known that the American Government was prepared to prefer this demand. The Cabinet was at once summoned to consider the question, and some of the members were for forthwith withdrawing from the arbitration. Mr. Forster was in favour of a more moderate and prudent course, but at the same time he felt strongly as to the unfairness of the demand made by America. “Clearly,” he writes in his diary (January 30, 1872), “this claim is sharp practice by the Americans, as the protocols prove that they had waived the indirect claims. Our Press is very indignant and exigeant, the Daily News leading. A cool head and a cool temper wanted. I asked Tenterden to dinner to talk the matter over with him. He is strong against diplomatic negotiations, and recommends a protest and refusal to submit the indirect claims to the arbitration to be delivered through our agent to the tribunal to the United States agent, both being appointed by Article 2 of the Treaty. Thereby diplomatic wrangling would be avoided, and the Yankees would not be forced to90 immediate reply while the Presidential caucus is at its height. I never felt any matter so serious. (January 31.) Drew up a memorandum urging communication through the agents rather than by despatch, on the ‘Alabama’ hitch. Took it to Granville; then sent it to Gladstone, asking him whether he would object to its circulation. Found a note from G—— assenting to circulation, so sent F—— off with the box. (February 2.) My box returned. All the Ministers’ minutes against me, except Gladstone, Granville, Ripon, and Chancellor.”

The question was discussed in the Cabinet, but the opinion was not favourable to Mr. Forster’s proposal, who had to give way.

(P. 26.) In February General Schenck [the leader of the American House of Representatives, who was in England] unofficially proposed four possible plans by way of settling the difficulty: (1) A lump sum paid by England; (2) a maximum sum paid by England to cover all claims, direct or indirect, supposing the arbitrators found against us; (3) proceeding with our arbitration under our protest that we did not consider the indirect claims within the Treaty, and could not abide by any decision against us as respected them, or pay in respect of them any gross sum or portion thereof; (4) an exchange of Vancouver’s Island for the indirect claims, upon the principle that both treaties were open to two interpretations....

Eventually ministers agreed to fall in with the American suggestion of a supplemental treaty, or, rather, of a supplemental article to the existing treaty.

[Note.—On June 19 the arbitrators rejected altogether the indirect claims.]


Source.The Times, September 14, 1872.

Usually an election day here has been a day of great political tumult and uproar. But to-day the general aspect of things was changed. When the poll opened the principal streets of91 the town were almost as quiet as usual. At the polling-booths, thirty-seven in number, there was very little crowding, and generally the town seemed to have got up no earlier than usual this morning, though in an extreme state of mystification. At each polling-booth there was erected, under contract with the Corporation, the compartments prescribed by the Act to secure privacy to the voter while marking his ballot paper. These compartments consisted of an open movable box, with four stalls or recesses, each supplied with a small ledge to serve as a desk, and placed back to back, so that four voters might be engaged in marking their papers at one and the same time. The size of the partition prevents a voter from overlooking his neighbour either at his side or in front of him. Each of these compartments was supplied with a pencil, secured by a string, like those in the telegraphic departments at the post-office.

The Conservatives appeared to be infinitely more active with their agents at the various polling-booths than the Liberals, and both tried to get an insight into the way affairs were going by means of tickets. Each elector had sent to him previously—the Conservatives ostensibly began this and the Liberals followed them—a ticket with a request that he would vote for Holker or German, as the case might be, and that after voting he would, if a Conservative, hand it over to the agent who would be at the door, and if a Liberal, would give it up at the nearest committee-room. The Conservative agents had blue cards fastened in front of their hats, and upon each card there was printed the words “Conservative agent.” As a rule two of them stood close to the door of egress at each polling-booth. In one instance a couple of them managed to get into a booth, but being detected by a Liberal, were ordered out. In other instances the Conservative agents were upon the premises of the polling-booth, and at one of the booths a couple were seen in the back-yard within a foot of the door leading out of it, their object being to ask for the tickets of the voters as they left the room. The Liberals did not push themselves so keenly within the precincts of the booths, but seemed to be anxious to get as near as they could. In the end the ticket system got92 thoroughly confused—Liberals, in mistake, gave their tickets to the Conservative agents; Conservatives gave them to those on the Liberal side, so that it became impossible accurately to test what was being done by the plan. The voting went on rather slowly; four voters were admitted at a time to each booth, and after receiving their papers proceeded to the “stalls” behind the officials, marked their papers, and then returned, putting them into a large sealed tin box, with a narrow slit at the top, as they passed out. The general business was very quietly transacted; there was even a dead calm about it at times. Some of the working men, of the ordinary labouring class, seemed to have no proper idea at all of the Ballot; odd ones of them would, on entering the booth, ask the constable at the door where they had to tell the name of the candidate they wanted to vote for, and others were very stupid in their folding up of the voting-papers. They crumpled them up occasionally or doubled them in such a way as to hide the stamp on the back, This bungling was chiefly the work of the more illiterate classes. One or two cases of personations were early reported, but the guilty parties made a clear escape. There has been more of novelty than of difficulty in working the Ballot here; and excepting the cases of stupidity mentioned, no awkwardness or hitch has occurred. As the morning advanced the booths became thronged, and at noon the work of vote-recording was at its greatest pitch of activity; but the increase in it then in no way deranged the general mechanism adopted. From about eleven o’clock in the forenoon till five this afternoon the streets have been very crowded, the bulk of the people being of the working-class order. Even the most sapient and experienced could not tell which way the wind was blowing—could not tell whether German or Holker was ahead. There was, however, a very general impression among Conservatives that their candidate was first, and a very strong apprehension on the part of the Liberals that this really was the case. Bills, etc., professing to show the state of the poll were occasionally put out, but only the most stupid placed any reliance upon them. Cheers and counter-cheers have been heard in the streets as the93 respective candidates and their friends have been noticed passing along them. There have been no displays of colours, no bands of music, and even in St. John’s ward an astonishing degree of order and sobriety has been observable. The Ballot, whatever it may not effect, has clearly from to-day’s experience conduced in a striking degree to the general sobriety and good order of the people. There is much talk about bribery and some about personation. At 8.30 the result of the election was announced by a card at the Town Hall. The figures were—Holker, 4,542; German, 3,824; showing, as there are 10,214 eligible voters on the register, that 1,848 had not recorded their votes.


Source.The Times, September 16, 1872.

Summary of the Award.

The Arbitrators at Geneva have given their Award. They unanimously find Great Britain liable for the acts committed by the Alabama; by a majority of the Italian, Swiss, Brazilian, and United States Arbitrators against the Arbitrator appointed by Great Britain, they find Great Britain liable for the acts committed by the Florida; and by a majority of the Italian, Swiss, and United States Arbitrators against the Arbitrators appointed by Great Britain and Brazil, they find Great Britain liable for the acts committed by the Shenandoah after leaving Melbourne. They unanimously decided that, in the cases in which Great Britain was held responsible, the acts of the tenders should be considered to follow the judgment given in regard to the cruisers to which they were attached. They decided that Great Britain was not responsible for the acts committed by the Georgia or by any other of the Confederate cruisers except the three above named.

They rejected altogether the claim of the United States Government for the expenditure incurred in pursuit and capture of the cruisers.

They decided that interest should be allowed, and have94 awarded a gross sum of 15,500,000 dollars in gold (about £3,229,166 13s. 4d.) in satisfaction and final settlement of all claims, including interest.

The amount of the claims preferred before the Tribunal, as appears from the Revised Statement of Claims presented on the part of the United States in April last, was 19,732,095 dollars in gold, to which was added a claim for expenses of pursuit and capture to the amount of 7,080,478 dollars, with interest at 7 per cent. on the whole amount for about ten years, or in all, 45,500,000 dollars in gold (or about £9,479,166 13s. 4d.).


Source.Annual Register, 1873; English History, pp. 35–37.

Speech of Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons (March 20, 1873).

Mr. Disraeli, who was warmly cheered by his supporters, next gave his account of what had passed between him and the Queen after receiving the letter which first summoned him to Buckingham Palace. In his audience, in reply to an inquiry from the Queen, he informed Her Majesty that he should be ready to form a Government which would carry on the affairs of the country efficiently and in a manner entitled to her confidence, but that he would not undertake it with the present House of Commons. In giving his reasons for this decision, Mr. Disraeli said he had represented to the Queen that, though recent elections had been favourable to the Conservative party, Mr. Gladstone had still a majority of close upon ninety, and that the division which overthrew the Government offered no elements which could lead to an expectation that this numerical position would be modified. He pointed out, also, that the majority against the Government the other night was created by a considerable section of the Liberal party—the Irish Roman Catholic members—with whom he had no bond of95 union. If he had appealed to them for support, they would have repeated their demands for a Roman Catholic University—a demand which he believed was decisively condemned at the last election, and by the subsequent disendowment of the Irish Church. Of office under such circumstances Mr. Disraeli said he had some personal experience, and it had convinced him that such an experiment weakened authority and destroyed public confidence. Consequently, he had prayed Her Majesty to relieve him of the task. Replying to the question why he had not advised the Queen to dissolve, he remarked that there was much misconception about the act of dissolving.

“It is supposed [said Mr. Disraeli] to be an act which can be performed with very great promptitude, and that it is a resource to which any Minister may recur with the utmost facility. That is a grave mistake. Dissolution of Parliament is a different instrument in different hands. It is an instrument of which a Minister who is in office, with his Government established, can avail himself with a facility which a Minister who is only going to accede to office is deprived of. There may be circumstances which may render it imperative on a Minister in office to advise the Sovereign to exercise the prerogative of dissolving Parliament; but he always has the opportunity of disposing of the public business before that dissolution takes place. The position of the Minister who is about to accede to office is very different. In the first place he has to form his Administration. This is a work of great time and of heavy responsibility. It is not confined merely to the construction of a Cabinet. Before a Ministry can be formed, whoever undertakes the task of its construction must see some fifty individuals whom he has to appoint to offices of trust and consideration. It is a duty which he can delegate to no one. He must see each of those individuals personally, and must communicate with them by himself. And this is a matter which—irrespective of the knowledge of human nature, which whoever undertakes to form a Cabinet ought to possess—requires time, and materially affects the business of the country. In the present case it would not have been possible96 to form a Government before Easter. Then the holidays would have intervened. After the holidays we might, by having recourse to measures of which I greatly disapprove—namely, provisional finance, the taking votes on credit and votes on account, and by accepting the estimates of my predecessors—have been able to dissolve Parliament in the early part of May. But when the month of May arrived, this question would have occurred: What are you going to dissolve Parliament about? There was no issue before the country. At least, it cannot be pretended for a moment that there was one of those issues before the country which would justify an extraordinary dissolution of Parliament—that is, some question upon which the country would passionately wish to decide. I ask the House to consider impartially what was the real condition of affairs. Her Majesty’s Ministers had resigned; the Queen had called upon a member of this House to form a Ministry in a house in which he had nearly ninety majority arrayed against him. Suppose it was in his opinion necessary to appeal to the country, by which the majority might be returned—probably of ninety—in his favour.

“Well, the Irish University Bill was not a Bill on which any Ministry could resign. But we could not carry on affairs without appealing to the country; and is it not clear that we could not appeal to the country without having a policy? (Laughter.) Hon. gentleman may laugh at the word ‘policy,’ but I maintain that it is totally impossible for gentlemen sitting on the Opposition bench suddenly to have a matured policy to present to the people of this country in case Parliament dissolves. The position of any party in opposition is essentially a critical position. On all great questions of the day gentlemen on this side of the House have certain principles which guide them on the subjects before Parliament; but on these questions we cannot rival in the possession of information those who hold the seals of Government.”

This point Mr. Disraeli elaborated at some length, mentioning Central Asia, the Three New Rules, and the French Treaty of Commerce as matters on which no body of men, suddenly97 created a Government, could have any policy until they had studied the official information. Local taxation, too, was a question which they must have fully considered before going to the country; but the strongest obstacle to an immediate dissolution would have been the necessity of carefully scrutinising the estimates, which, he maintained, were just as large as his own which were so vehemently denounced in 1868. The upshot was that the session would have been one of ordinary length, and he knew, from experience, the consequences to a party and to the public interests of endeavouring to carry on the Government in the face of a hostile majority.

“I know well (added Mr. Disraeli), and those around me know well, what will occur when a Ministry takes office and attempts to carry on Government with a minority during the session, with a view of ultimately appealing to the people. A right hon. gentleman will come down here, he will arrange his thumb-screws and other instruments of torture, and we shall never ask for a vote without a lecture; we shall never perform the most ordinary routine office of Government without there being annexed to it some pedantic and ignominious condition. (No, no.) I wish to express nothing but what I know from painful personal experience. No observation of the kind I have encountered could divest me of the painful memory; I wish it could. I wish it was not my duty to take this view of the case. For a certain time we should enter into the paradise of abstract motions. One day hon. gentlemen cannot withstand the golden opportunity of asking the House to assert that the income-tax should no longer form one of the features of Ways and Means. Of course, a proposition of that kind would be scouted by the right hon. gentleman and all his colleagues; but they might dine out on that day, and the resolution might be carried, as resolutions of that kind have been. Perhaps another gentleman, distinguished for his knowledge of ‘men and things’ (Mr. Rylands), moves that the Diplomatic Service should be abolished. While hon. gentlemen opposite may laugh in their sleeves at the mover, they vote for the motion in order to put the Government into a minority. So it would go98 very hard with us if on some sultry afternoon some member should ‘rush in where angels fear to tread’ (Mr. Trevelyan) and successfully assimilate the borough and the county franchise. And so things would go on until the bitter end—until at last even the Appropriation Bill has passed, Parliament is dissolved, and we appeal to those millions who, perhaps, six months before might have looked upon us as the vindicators of their intolerable grievances, but who now receive us as a defeated, discredited, and a degraded Ministry, whose services can no longer be of value to the Crown or a credit to the nation.”

Under these circumstances, with the concurrence of all his friends, he had represented to the Queen that it was not for the public interest that he should attempt to form a Government.


Source.The Times, Monday, June 16, 1873.

The Metropolis has just witnessed the success of an undertaking without parallel in the social and religious history of modern times. The congregations of the great majority of the places of worship in London and its suburbs, reinforced moreover by many who do not habitually attend places of worship at all, were united in the pursuit of a common object, and in the acknowledgment of a common obligation. The claims of the sick poor were urged from several hundred pulpits, not on any ground of expediency, or of economy, or even of benevolence, but mainly on the broad principle that their recognition forms an essential part of the life dictated by every form of Christianity.

The appeal had gone home to the hearts of all classes of the community, and in the Metropolitan Cathedral the eye ranged easily from the Heir Apparent, and from the representatives of civic wealth and munificence, to an assemblage largely composed of persons manifestly of humble station, but who were99 neither less devout nor less liberal than those whom fortune had more highly favoured.

So far everything is well, and there can be no doubt that Hospital Sunday from this time forward will be an established institution. It is possible that it may lead to many indirect advantages, and that the bond now for the first time established among the charities to be assisted may ultimately produce beneficial changes in various points connected with their management. Hospitals have hitherto been in some sense rival institutions; and their rivalry has been a prolific source of wasteful and unnecessary expenditure.

Note.—The amount collected was £28,000.


Source.Annual Register, 1874; English History, pp. 29–31.

On entering Coomassie the General strictly forbade all plundering on the part of his men; but the darkness of night coming on, the camp followers could not always be restrained, and a policeman taken in the act was hung. Here and there, too, attempts were made to set fire to the town. Coomassie was found to be a large place, with wide streets, and houses with verandahs, built round courtyards. It bore tokens of desolation in patches of waste land, covered with grass, and the absence of domestic poultry, etc., the despotism of the King making property as well as life insecure among the Ashantees. The King’s palace was larger than that of the chief of Fommanah, and consisted of many courts, each a house in itself. Upstairs were several small rooms, each of which was a perfect old curiosity shop, containing books in all languages, English newspapers, Bohemian glass, Kidderminster carpets, pictures, furniture, etc. The King’s sitting-room was a court with a tree growing in it, which was covered with fetish objects, and hung with spiders’ webs. In the royal bedroom adjacent was an English General’s sword, bearing the inscription: “From Queen Victoria to the King of Ashantee,” a gift probably of100 Her Majesty to Calcalli’s predecessor. Besides the King’s palace there was a grand building, called the “Bantoma,” where the ashes of former monarchs were entombed, and which was considered the most sacred spot in all Ashanteeland. Sir Garnet Wolseley sent word to the King that his desire was to spare Coomassie, and if he would come into the town and sign the peace a smaller indemnity would be accepted than that at first specified. But if not, a sign should be given of Great Britain’s power which should be known throughout the length and breadth of Africa. The King promised to come, but came not. The General waited throughout the whole day of the 5th in vain. The envoys sent with deceitful promises by the monarch were caught surreptitiously removing property. The General then gave orders to burn the Bantoma, but on second thoughts he recalled them. The destruction of so strong and vast a fortress would have taken too much time, and perhaps in their despair the Ashantees would have rallied round their sacred mausoleum in inconvenient force. In fact, it was very necessary to think of a speedy retreat. Heavy rain had fallen, and if the streams in rear of the British army should be much swollen, its backward march might be seriously impeded. It was coming short of the entire triumph anticipated, to leave Coomassie without the treaty and the royal signature; but the subjugation of the capital was a sufficient blow to Ashantee prestige, and, that it might never be forgotten by the nation, Sir Garnet gave orders to set fire to the city and to the royal palace.

“The demolition of the place was complete,” said Sir Garnet, in his despatch to the Colonial Secretary. “From all that I can gather, I believe that the result will be such a diminution in the prestige and military power of the Ashantee monarch as may result in the break-up of the kingdom altogether. This I had been anxious to avoid, because it seems impossible to foresee what Power can take this nation’s place among the feeble races of this coast. I certainly believe that your lordship may be well convinced that no more utterly atrocious Government than that which has thus, perhaps, fallen, ever101 existed on the face of the earth. Their capital was a charnel-house; their religion a combination of cruelty and treachery; their policy the natural outcome of their religion. I cannot think that, whatever may be the final fate of the people of this country, the absolute annihilation of such a rule, should it occur, would be a subject for unmixed regret. In any case, I believe that the main object of my expedition has been perfectly secured. The territories of the Gold Coast will not again be troubled by the warlike ambition of this restless power. I may add that the flag of England from this moment will be received throughout Western Africa with respectful awe, a treatment which has been of late years by no means its invariable fate among the savage tribes of this region.”

It was Sir Garnet’s good fortune not to bring his enterprise to an end without the rounding off of complete success. The return march of the British troops towards the coast commenced on the 6th. At Fommanah, where the General halted for four days, he was again visited by envoys from Koffee Calcalli, bearing in their hands a thousand ounces of gold, and asking for a draft of the treaty, to be signed forthwith by the defeated monarch. The draft was accordingly given to them, and was actually signed a month later. What had brought the King to this tardy and, as it would seem, unnecessary submission now that Wolseley had done his worst, and was retreating? It was the march of Captain Glover that had occasioned the step. That officer, working up from the East, with troops drawn from the native tribes of the Akims, Yorubas, and Houssas—between three thousand and four thousand in number—had arrived within eighteen miles of Coomassie, when he heard of the capture and destruction of the place. His difficulties had been great. Many of the men with whom he originally set out had deserted, and he had failed to make the junction with Wolseley, which, had it taken place a few days earlier, must have crushed the foe effectually. Nevertheless, his advance had operated as a useful diversion on the left of the Ashantee forces; and when he, too, arrived near the ruined102 city, the monarch’s spirit altogether left him. Thinking that some of the British forces might still be in Coomassie, Glover sent on Captain Reginald Sartorius with twenty men to reconnoitre. Then occurred one of the most dashing exploits of the war. Sartorius found the capital deserted. None of the inhabitants had returned to try and secure their property, or view their burned homesteads. But they might be lurking anywhere—in fact, Sartorius heard that the King and his attendants were near at hand, weeping over the ruins of Coomassie. With his little band of twenty men, Sartorius rode boldly through the deserted precincts, and then onwards through fifty miles of hostile territory, to join the British army, passing one burnt village after another, but not meeting any human form till, at Fommanah, they came up with the main body of Sir Garnet’s forces. Captain Glover followed in the track of Sartorius first to Coomassie and then to Fommanah.

The treaty, finally signed by King Koffee Calcalli, stipulated that he should renounce all rights of Protectorate over the petty monarchs in alliance with the British Queen, and formerly tributary to the kingdom of Ashantee; also over any of the tribes formerly connected with the Dutch Government on the Gold Coast; that free trade should be permitted between Ashantee and the British ports; that the road between Coomassie and the Prah should always be kept open; that the King should use his best efforts to check the practice of human sacrifice; and that he should pay in instalments a war indemnity of 50,000 ounces of approved gold, beginning with 1,000 ounces forthwith.

The cost of the war to the British Government was estimated at 900,000 pounds sterling. To Sir Garnet Wolseley, who declined titular honours, a sum of 25,000 pounds was awarded in recognition of his services.



Source.Punch, April 25, 1874. (Reprinted by the special permission of the proprietors of Punch.)

David Livingstone, Died on the Shores of Lake Bemba, May 4, 1873; Buried in Westminster Abbey, April 18, 1874.

Droop half-mast colours, bow, bareheaded crowds
As this plain coffin o’er the side is slung,
To pass by woods of masts and ratlined shrouds
As erst by Afric’s trunks, liana-hung.
’Tis the last mile of many thousands trod
With failing strength but never-failing will
By the worn frame, now at its rest with God,
That never rested from its fight with ill.
Or if the ache of travel and of toil
Would sometimes wring a short, sharp cry of pain
From agony of fever, blain, and boil,
’Twas but to crush it down, and on again.
He knew not that the trumpet he had blown
Out of the darkness of that dismal land,
Had reached and roused an army of its own
To strike the chains from the slave’s fettered hand.
Now we believe he knows, sees all is well;
How God had stayed his will and shaped his way,
To bring the light to those that darkling dwell
With gains that life’s devotion will repay.
Open the Abbey door and bear him in
To sleep with King and statesman, chief and sage,
The missionary come of weaver-kin,
But great by work that brooks no lower wage.
He needs no epitaph to guard a name104
Which men shall prize while worthy work is known
He lived and died for good—be that his fame;
Let marble crumble: this is Living-stone.


Source.Hansard, “Debates,” vol. 221, p. 78.

Speech on Public Worship Regulation Bill.

I look upon the existence of parties in the Church as a necessary and beneficial consequence. They have always existed even from Apostolic times; they are a natural development of the religious sentiment in man; and they represent fairly the different conclusions at which, upon subjects that are the most precious to him, the mind of man arrives. Ceremony, enthusiasm, and free speculation are the characteristics of the three great parties in the Church, some of which have modern names, and which the world is too apt to imagine are in their character original. The truth is that they have always existed in different forms or under different titles. Whether they are called High Church or Low Church or Broad Church, they bear witness, in their legitimate bounds, to the activity of the religious mind of the nation, and in the course of our history this country is deeply indebted to the exertions and the energy of all those parties. The High Church party, totally irrespective of its religious sentiment, fills a noble page in the history of England, for it has vindicated the liberties of this country in a memorable manner; no language of mine can describe the benefits which this country has experienced from the exertions of the Evangelical school at the commencement of this century; and in the case of the Broad Church it is well that a learned and highly disciplined section of the clergy should show at the present day that they are not afraid of speculative thought, or are appalled by the discoveries of science. I hold that all these schools of religious feeling can105 pursue their instincts consistently with a faithful adherence to the principles and practices of the Reformation as exhibited and represented in its fairest and most complete form—the Church of England. I must ask myself, What then, sir, is the real object of the Bill? and I will not attempt to conceal my impressions upon it, for I do not think that our ability to arrive at a wise decision to-day will be at all assisted by a mystical dissertation on the subject-matter of it. I take the primary object of this Bill, whose powers, if it be enacted, will be applied and extended impartially to all subjects of Her Majesty, to be this—to put down Ritualism. The right hon. gentleman the Member for Greenwich [Mr. Gladstone] says he does not know what Ritualism is, but there I think the right hon. gentleman is in an isolated position. That ignorance is not shared by the House of Commons or by the country. What the House and the country understand by Ritualism is—practices of a portion of the clergy, avowedly symbolic of doctrines, which the same clergy are bound in the most solemn manner to refute and repudiate. Therefore, I think there can be no mistake among practical men as to what is meant when we say that it is our desire to discourage Ritualism....

Believing as I do that those principles [those of the Reformation] were never so completely and so powerfully represented as by the Church of England; believing that without the authority, the learning, the wealth, and the independence of the Church of England, the various sects of the Reformation would by this time have dwindled into nothing, I called the attention of the country, so far as I could, to the importance of rallying around the institution of the Church of England, based upon those principles of the Reformation which that Church was called into being to represent.... I wish most sincerely that all should understand that, if I make the slightest allusion to the dogmas and ceremonies which are promulgated by the English Ritualists, I am anxious not to make a single observation which could offend the convictions of any hon. gentleman in this House. Whether those doctrines which106 were quoted from authoritative writings apply to the worship of the Virgin, to the Confessional, or to the various subjects which were quoted by the hon. Member, so long as those doctrines are held by Roman Catholics, I am prepared to treat them with reverence; but what I object to is that they should be held by Ministers of our Church, who, when they enter the Church, enter it at the same time with a solemn contract with the nation that they will oppose those doctrines and utterly resist them. What I do object to is Mass in masquerade. To the solemn ceremonies of our Roman Catholic friends I am prepared to extend that reverence which my mind and conscience always give to religious ceremonies sincerely believed in; but the false position in which we have been placed by, I believe, a small but a powerful and well-organised body of those who call themselves English clergymen in copying these ceremonies, is one which the country thinks intolerable, and of which we ought to rid ourselves.


Source.Annual Register, 1875; Public Documents, pp. 214, 215.

Letters from the Captains.

No. 1.

H.M.S. “Discovery,”
At Sea

(Lat. 64° 43´ N.; long. 52° 52´ W.),
July 2, 1875.


I have the honour to inform you since parting company with H.M.S. Alert on the night of June 13, during a heavy westerly gale, I made the best of my way to rendezvous 4, 5, and 6, in accordance with your instructions to Captain Jones of H.M.S. Valorous, a copy of which you forwarded for my guidance.

On the afternoon of the 13th, at 3 p.m., while still in107 company, a heavy sea struck the starboard whale-boat (waist), and, detaching the foremost fall, the boat filled, and in swinging round was cut in half by the stay of the after-davit, which necessitated her being cut away. We experienced strong westerly breezes and head winds until we rounded Cape Farewell on Sunday, June 27. On the morning of the 28th, we made the land about Cape Desolation ahead, and fell in with the land ice and some bergs. We tacked on the edge of the ice, and stood to the north-west. On the 29th (lat. 61° N., long. 50° 43´ W.), during the morning, we steamed through a quantity of loose sailing ice. A strong breeze springing up from the eastward towards the afternoon, which freshened to a gale from the northward, obliged us to stand off the land amongst a great quantity of heavy field ice, after laying to during the night, under close-reefed topsails, and occasionally nearing to avoid the driving pack, which was going to the southward in heavy streams at the rate of two or three knots. Some of the ice, however, was loose enough to be sailed through, and, there being no opening into clear water, I got up steam on the morning of the 30th, and, under close-reefed topsails and reefed courses, beat to windward through it, with the object of reaching the land water. The weather moderating, this was accomplished in the evening of the same day, having passed through some heavy pack ice. On the 1st instant, we again steamed through some large fields of sailing ice. When abreast of Goathaab, on the 2nd instant, at 7 p.m., we sighted the Alert, and closed this morning, as per signal. With the exception of the loss of the one boat before mentioned, I have no defects or damage to report, and have the honour to enclose a copy of the ship’s log from June 13 to the 1st instant.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
H. F. Stephenson,


No. 2.

At Disco,
July 15, 1875


I have the honour to inform you that H.M. ships under my command left Bantry Bay on June 2. The Valorous arrived at this port on the 4th, and the Alert and Discovery on the 6th instant. After leaving the Irish coast, finding that the Valorous could not keep station while we were under sail alone, I directed her to part company, and make her voyage independently. During the passage we encountered three consecutive gales from the westward, and after passing Cape Farewell one from the northward, each accompanied with high seas. Owing to the heavy lading of the Arctic ships they were extremely wet and uneasy, which necessitated the hatchways to be frequently battened down; otherwise they behaved well. The Alert and Discovery each lost a whale-boat during a heavy gale on June 13; beyond this loss I am happy to say that the defects of the ships are merely nominal. The Valorous will supply two boats to replace those lost. On the night of June 13 (while the Alert was wearing) the Discovery was lost sight of during a heavy squall, and the two ships did not again join company until the 30th, in Davis Strait. The Valorous having economised her coal as much as possible, has been able to complete each of the Arctic ships with as much as they can carry, and has remaining for her return voyage a quantity equal to that expended during her outward voyage. All the provisions and stores brought here by the Valorous for our use have been taken aboard, and we are now complete in all respects for three years from July 1, 1875.

After passing Cape Farewell, each ship fell in with loose pack ice from fifty to sixty miles south-west of Cape Desolation, with a clear sea to the westward of it—it was the débris of very thick ice, and had evidently been carried round Cape Farewell, from the east coast of Greenland. The ice extended north as far as latitude 62° 30´, since which none has been109 sighted within sixty miles of the coast; there has also been a remarkable absence of icebergs.

Mr. Krarup Smith, the inspector of North Greenland, and the other Danish officials have been extremely obliging in giving me every information in their power, and in providing for our wants. Mr. Smith has arranged for my being supplied with all the dogs we require. Twenty-five have been received from Disco, and twenty are to be ready on our arrival at Ritenberk; the rest will be taken on board at Uppernivik. An Esquimaux accompanies the expedition from Disco, and I think it probable that Hans, who was in the Polaris with Captain Hall, and is now at Proven, will also be willing to join me. I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Smith should be officially thanked for his ready compliance with all our requirements, and his courteous behaviour.

Finding that it was absolutely necessary that at least one Assistant-Paymaster should accompany the expedition, I have ordered Mr. Thomas Mitchell of the Discovery to remain on board that ship to superintend the victualling of the two vessels. I have ordered Mr. George Egerton, sub-Lieutenant of the Alert, to take charge of the provisions of this ship, with the same remuneration as the officer in charge of stores received.

I leave this port for Ritenberk to-morrow, and intend to call at Proven and Uppernivik on my passage north. Letters will be left at the latter settlement for conveyance to Europe, via Copenhagen. It is reported that the last winter has been mild in this neighbourhood, but the spring very backward, which I trust will prove to have been caused by the early break-up of the ice farther to the north.

The health of the expedition is excellent. There is no one sick on board either vessel, and the utmost hope and enthusiasm for the success of the work allotted to us prevails.

In the orders for the guidance of the expedition it is directed that documents are to be deposited due north of the cairn marking their position. As a mistake might arise in calculating the110 variation of the compass, I have issued directions that the documents are to be deposited magnetic north, and twenty feet magnetic north of the cairns.

During my stay at Disco I inspected the store of provisions belonging to the American Government, but had not time to open any of the packages to ascertain if the contents were in good order, but from the appearance of the outside, I should expect them to be in a fair state of preservation, considering the time they had been exposed. The store is dry and each package is clear of the ground. As the United States Government may like to know what is in the store, I enclose a nominal list of the packages obtained from the Danish officials and inspected by the officers of this ship. The former have taken great trouble to prevent the stores deteriorating.

I have the honour to enclose a copy of the log and track-chart of H.M.S. Alert and proceedings of H.M.S. Discovery, while absent from June 13 to July 1, 1875.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
J. S. Nares,


Source.Annual Register, 1875; English History, pp. 123–125.

“You will expect,” said Sir William Harcourt at Oxford, on December 30, “that I should say something to you on the subject of the Suez Canal shares. Well, that is a matter on which no prudent politician in our present state of information will hazard a competent opinion. At the same time, after all that has been said on the matter, to be wholly silent would be an affectation of reserve. For my part, if the matter had been allowed to remain in the regions of high policy, I should have been content to abstain from criticising it altogether. I am not111 unfavourable to a far-seeing and a bold policy in the conduct of great affairs. We have had somewhat too little of that spirit of late. But all reticence upon that score is at an end. The most contradictory and, in some respects, the most absurd surmises with respect to this transaction were afloat some weeks ago. Lord Hartington, at the beginning of this month, invited a declaration from the Government of the real meaning and object of their policy, and Lord Derby accepted the challenge with perfect frankness. Since the speech of the Foreign Secretary the whole aspect of the question has been completely changed both at home and abroad. Up to that time a sort of glamour had invested a very plain business with the unnatural haze that distorts the true proportion of things. There was something Asiatic in this mysterious melodrama. It was like ‘The Thousand and One Nights,’ when, in the midst of the fumes of incense, a shadowy Genie astonished the bewildered spectators. The public mind was dazzled, fascinated, mystified. We had done we did not know exactly what—we were not told precisely why—omne ignotum pro magnifico. The Government maintained an imposing and perplexing silence. But our daily and weekly instructors gave free rein to their imagination. We were told by those who assumed the patronage of the grand arcanum that a great blow had been struck, that a new policy had been inaugurated, and that England had at length resumed her lead among the nations. The Eastern Question had been settled by a coup d’état on the Stock Exchange, and Turkey was abandoned to her fate. Egypt was annexed. The Bulls of England had vanquished the Bears of Russia. Moab was to be our washpot and over Edom we had cast our shoe. France and M. de Lesseps were confounded. We were a very great people; we had done a very big thing, and, to consummate the achievement, a Satrap from Shoreham, attended by a plump of financial Janissaries, was despatched to administer the subject provinces of the English protectorate on the Nile. All this, if somewhat nebulous, was in the grand manner, and if any inquisitive person, like the troublesome little boy on the field of Blenheim, was disposed to ask ‘what good came112 of it at last,’ we could always answer, like the judicious Kasper—

“‘Why, that I cannot tell,’ said he,
‘But ’twas a glorious victory.’

“We all of us felt some six inches taller than before. We spread our tails like peacocks to the sun, and were as pleased as children at our soap-bubble, iridescent with many hues. But, all of a sudden, this beautiful vision melted away; the Egyptian mirage evaporated; the great political phantasmagoria faded like a dissolving view. There is nothing so delightful as magic, until, in an unhappy moment, the conjuror consents to reveal the apparatus to us by which our senses have been deluded, and shows us how it is done. Lord Derby is a great master of prose, and he has translated the Eastern romance into most pedestrian English. But the Foreign Secretary is a responsible statesman. He has widely warned us against ‘cant’ and against ‘rant,’ and he cannot afford to indulge in the exaggerated visions in which journalists may, with impunity, amuse themselves and their readers. It was not his affair to mystify England, but to reassure Europe; and therefore with that straightforwardness and common sense for which he is eminent, he told us at Edinburgh that the affair which had created so much sensation at home and abroad was not at all the sort of thing it had been represented to be; that, if it had been capable of the construction which had been put upon it, it would have been neither a wise nor a honest transaction. He repudiated with scorn the idea that England aspired to an Egyptian protectorate; they had not reversed their Eastern policy; still less had they contemplated to appropriate the territories of the Khedive as our share in a scramble for general plunder. What had really been accomplished was a very ordinary affair. The Khedive had certain shares in the Suez Canal. So far from being ambitious to get hold of them, Lord Derby would have much preferred that the ruler of Egypt should have kept them in his own hands; but, as he found himself obliged to part with them, the English Government thought it better to purchase them than to let them113 go elsewhere. They have acquired them, not to give England any special or predominant foreign influence, nor to secure any exclusive advantage, but to keep open a communication for the benefit of all, which to England is of supreme importance. And with these explanations, tendered on the good faith of an English Minister, upon the credit of which Lord Derby justly relies, he tells us that the European Powers are amply satisfied. And so the nine days’ wonder is over, the enchantment is at an end, the chariot of Cinderella relapses into its original pumpkins and mice. Since Lord Derby has so pitilessly dowsed with cold water the heated enthusiasm of visionary journalists, they have never ceased to weep and to wail over the ruins of their pet toy, which has collapsed like a pricked bladder or a broken drum. They beg us to believe that the Foreign Minister does not understand the meaning of his own acts, or the scope of his own policy; that, in spite of all his protestations to the contrary, we are the veritable perfide Albion.

“For my own part I cannot refuse to respond to the appeal of Lord Derby, when he says, ‘We have told Europe what we want, and why we want it, and Europe is in the habit of believing what we say.’ I hope the day will never come when an English Government will be justly charged with saying one thing and meaning another. I therefore gladly take Lord Derby at his word. But now that this grand affair is reduced to the moderate dimensions of a sort of post-office subsidy, we may criticise it in a manner and upon grounds which might in another aspect of the question have been inappropriate. Of course, if this transaction had been really of the magnitude which was represented, the Government would have been deeply responsible for not inviting at once the judgment of Parliament upon a policy which vitally involved the interests and the future of the country, but being what it is, we may well wait a few weeks for fuller explanations of some points which still remain very obscure. There will be no disposition, I imagine, in any quarter to approach the discussion in a spirit of carping or of captious criticism. Upon the main ground by which this purchase is justified—114namely, the determination to secure a free passage between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, there will be no conflict of opinion. That is a policy in which England is profoundly interested; and for that, statesmen of all parties will be prepared to make common efforts, and, if necessary, great sacrifices. No one, I think, will contend that even 4,000,000 pounds of money is too large a sum for the accomplishment of such an end. But that which has not hitherto been explained, and what remains to be shown, is in what manner and to what extent this investment really does conduce to that desirable object.”


Source.Annual Register, 1876; English History, p. 113.

On the 22nd of August, Mr. Disraeli, now Lord Beaconsfield, issued his farewell address to his former constituents. “Throughout my public life,” wrote the Premier, “I have aimed at two chief results. Not insensible to the principle of progress, I have endeavoured to reconcile change with that respect for tradition, which is one of the main elements of our social strength; and, in external affairs, I have endeavoured to develop and strengthen our Empire, believing that combination of achievement and responsibility elevates the character and condition of a people.”


Source.The Times, November 10, 1876.

The Earl of Beaconsfield at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.

The Earl of Beaconsfield, who was received with repeated plaudits, said....

“During these twelve months of anxiety and agitation, my Lord Mayor, I would take this opportunity of stating what115 have been the two great objects which Her Majesty’s Government have proposed with reference to those critical circumstances which have occurred since I had the honour of addressing your predecessor. The first has been the maintenance of the general peace of Europe, which involves almost every other consideration that may affect the interests of this country and the general welfare of humanity. We have believed that that peace would be best maintained by an observance of the treaties in which all the Great Powers of Europe have joined. Those treaties are not antique and dusty obsolete documents. They are not instruments devised under a state of circumstances different from those that exist, and ill adapted to the spirit of the age in which we live....

“... As the Lord Mayor has told us to-night, there is no country so interested in the maintenance of peace as England. Peace is especially an English policy. She is not an aggressive Power, for there is nothing that she desires. She covets no cities and no provinces. What she wishes is to maintain and to enjoy the unexampled Empire which she has built up, and which it is her pride to remember exists as much upon sympathy as upon force. But, although the policy of England is peace, there is no country so well prepared for war as our own. If she enters into conflict in a righteous cause—and I will not believe that England will go to war except for a righteous cause—if the contest is one which concerns her liberty, her independence, or her Empire, her resources, I feel, are inexhaustible. She is not a country that, when she enters into a campaign, has to ask herself whether she can support a second or a third campaign. She enters into a campaign which she will not terminate till right is done.”


Source.The Times, December 9, 1876.

The Duke of Westminster: The worst Government now remaining in Europe is that of Constantinople, and it seems to116 us a most extraordinary thing that men in this country and a portion of the Press seem to think that the Turks have still a power of regeneration within themselves. We hear them say, and with some justice, that the Turks are peaceful citizens and warlike soldiers. The warlike qualities for which they are distinguished seem to me not the best calculated to work for the happiness and the contentment of the people under the fell sway of Turkish dominion....

After all our sacrifices during the Crimean War, after having shed the blood of thousands of our fellow-countrymen and expended millions of treasure, England surely has some right to say now what should be done, and how it should be done. The situation, though in some respects very similar to that which existed in 1854, is entirely changed as regards the state of public opinion in this country. Although it may be said that Russia is thundering at the gates of Constantinople, England is determined that she will not go to war against Russia for Turkey.

Mr. George Howell (late Secretary to the Trades Parliamentary Committee) said that throughout the length and breadth of the land they would not find among the working classes such an opinion on this question as was entertained in the clubs among educated gentlemen. He might inform the educated classes present that they represented the intensified feelings of the working classes when they pronounced an opinion altogether averse from going to war, under any pretext whatever, for the purpose of propping up Turkey. We ought to stand by the other European Powers, and to insist that justice should be done to the Christian provinces of Turkey, and to tell her plainly that if this were not done, she must, at whatever cost, pack up, bag and baggage, and leave Europe.

Mr. Evelyn Ashley, M.P.: In his opinion the path of honour and of safety lay in the active co-operation of England with Russia. Turkey must be told that if she refused to give the necessary guarantees for the safety of her Christian subjects, we would send our fleet to take her fleet in pawn until she gave117 way. As to the fear of what might be the result of Mussulman fanaticism if such a course were taken, he could only say that the fanaticism of the Mussulman never broke out when he was beaten, while he had no apprehension that our prestige would be diminished among the Mussulman population of India.... Great nations, like great ships, could ride in safety only on the high seas, and although Russia might have her ambitions, which it might one day be our duty to resist, we should be able to do so all the better if we could but succeed in obtaining freedom for those down-trodden populations of Turkey.

Professor Bryce: Turkey would not yield so long as an atom of hope of help from England was held out to her. The Porte believed it in the very name of Constantinople, a spell which could call up the fleets of England in the Bosphorus when it chose. That spell had never failed it yet, and it had in it most implicit confidence. If, then, war was to be averted, Turkey must be at once undeceived, and must be told that we not only will not support her, but that we are prepared to coerce her, and that she shall not be allowed to run a new race of tyranny.

Canon Liddon: If the Christian provinces were to be really reformed, there must be a new law which would secure equal rights to every human being in the Turkish Empire. It was impossible to suppose, however, that any legislation of this kind would be voluntarily accepted by Turkey. There must be something in the nature of a military occupation.

Lord Shaftesbury: The Emperor of Russia has given us his personal word of honour that he desires no territorial aggrandisement. Take every precaution, surround yourselves by every legitimate defence, but let us go with him as far as he will go with us, and let us reserve our quarrel until we have something to quarrel about. But now let us rejoice in the attitude of the United Kingdom this day. It is majestic—a free and mighty people demand nothing for themselves, neither power, nor commerce, nor extended empire. They seek simply the welfare of others and the solidarity of nations.

118 Professor E. A. Freeman: From amid the clatter of wine-cups a voice of defiance went forth, conveying the brag which all the world had heard, that England would fight a first, a second, and a third campaign rather than permit another Power to do the work which she herself ought to accomplish. Were they prepared to wage war for a single hour, or to shed one drop of English blood in order to prop up as foul and bloody a fabric of wrong as ever a shuddering world had gazed upon? Would they consent to draw the sword to protect the sovereign rights of those whose hands were steeped in blood as their tongues were in falsehood? Would they fight to uphold the integrity and independence of Sodom? Should it be said that England, which had used every effort to put down the slave trade, was ready to go to war in order that the Eastern traffic in human flesh might still go on and supply our barbarous ally with the victims of his hideous lusts? Was it, indeed, for such an object that the countrymen of Canning and Wilberforce were to be called upon to fight?

But it was said that we were bound by treaties to maintain the independence and integrity of Turkey. He, however, did not so read the treaties to which reference had been made, and which already had been broken; and as for our interests in India being in peril, he would only say let duty come first and interest after, and perish our dominion in India rather than that we should strike a blow in such a cause as that of the Porte! Besides, it was not through Constantinople that the road to India lay; nor was it for Constantinople that the Emperor of Russia was ready to draw the sword.

Mr. Fawcett, M.P.: If the Government went to war on behalf of Turkey, he hoped the Liberal party would use every form allowed by Parliament to prevent them from having one sixpence until they had ascertained by an appeal to the country whether it was their wish that the blood and treasure of England should be spilt, and the reputation of England cast away in order to prop up a wretched, effete, and dissolute despotism.

Mr. Gladstone, who was received with prolonged cheering:

119 “... What are we to say to the question of the Treaty of Paris? I will give you my opinion in the most distinct manner. The Ottoman Porte has in a most signal and conspicuous manner broken and trampled under foot the Treaty of Paris. The meaning of this Guildhall speech was to set forth that we were all bound by this Treaty to suggest that the Ottoman Porte would be entitled to appeal to it; and whatever theoretical acknowledgment there might be about affording assistance to the Christian populations, yet in practice the appeal would have resolved itself into the old practice of remonstrances and expostulations, with results either none whatever, or confined to idle and empty words. The Treaty of Paris in regard to the Porte I affirm to be no binding Treaty at all. I am as far as possible from saying that the Treaty of Paris is not binding as between the other Powers, but I stand simply upon this broad, clear, and I think incontrovertible proposition—that one who has broken a Treaty is no longer in a position to appeal to it.... I now come to the conclusion of the Guildhall speech which carried its sting, and a sting indeed it was, charged and overcharged with venom. Why was it necessary to say that when England enters into a war she has not to ask herself whether she can support a second or a third campaign? Cannot that reference be understood? After her second campaign in the Crimea Russia had to ask herself the question whether she could enter upon a third? Why, then, was that particular form given to a declaration which was perfectly unnecessary, of the capacity of this country to go to war? Do not suppose that the capacity of this country to go to war is increased by these idle vaunts. We know what effect these words had in Russia; but a more important question was, What was their effect in Constantinople? According to the reports of those who have seen it, Constantinople is a Paradise of Nature; but there are other paradises, one of which is called a Fool’s Paradise. I am afraid that the Ottoman Porte, relying on the assistance of England in the last extremity in all circumstances, has for a long time been in a Fool’s Paradise, and it would have120 been much greater kindness not to use words which were calculated to delude the Porte into the belief that such were the intentions of England. We know that the Turk has been relying on British aid, and although we do not think very highly of his intelligence, has he no warrant for so relying? Why was the squadron sent to Besika Bay, augmented into a fleet, in imitation of the step taken in 1853?”


Transcriber’s Note

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired quotation marks were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.