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by many voices, and in very unmeasured language, for what they had done. Yet no public body ever were urged on to an unpopular course by purer motives than those which influenced Mr. Mill and his associates. They were filled with the same spirit of generous humanity which animated Burke when he pressed the impeachment against Warren Hastings. They were sustained by a desire to secure the rights of British subjects for a despised and maltreated negro population. They were inspired with a longing to cleanse the name of England from the stain of à share in the abominations of that unexampled repression. Yet we do not think on the whole that there was any failure of justice. A career full of bright promise was cut short for Mr. Eyre, and for some of his surbordinates as well; and no one accused Mr. Eyre personally of anything worse than a fury of mistaken zeal. The deeds which were done by his authority, or to which, when they were done, he gave his authority's sanction, were branded with such infamy that it is almost im. possible such things could ever be dore again in England's name. Even those who excused under the circumstances the men by whom the deeds were done had seldom a word to say in defence of the acts themselves. The cruelties ot that saturnalia of vengeance are absolutely without parallel in the history of our own times; perhaps the very horror they inspired, the very shame of the few arguments em. ployed to defend them, may make for mercy in the future. The one strong argument for severity, on which so many relied when upholding the acts of Mr. Eyre, is curiously confuted by his history of Jamaica itself. The argument was, that severity of an extraordinary kind was necessary to prevent the repetition of rebellion. Rigor of repression had been tried long enough in Jamaica without producing any such effect. During one hundred and fifty years there had been about thirty insurrections, in some of which the measures of repression employed were sweeping and stern
enough to have shaken the nerves of a Couthon and disturbed the conscience of a Claverhouse. The Chief Justice declared that there was not a stone in the island of Jamaica which, if the rains of heaven had not washed off from it the stains of blood, might not have borne terrible witness to the manner in which martial law had been exercised for the suppression of native discontent. The deeds, therefore, that were done under the authority of Mr. Eyre found no plea to excuse them in the history of the past. Such policy had been tried again and again, and had failed. The man who tried it again, in 1865, undertook the responsibility of defying the authority of experience, as well as that of constitutional and moral law.
HE Queen opened the new Parliament in person. She
then performed the ceremony for the first time since the death of the Prince Consort. The speech from the throne contained a paragraph which announced that her Majesty had directed that information should be procured in reference to the right of voting in the election of members of Parliament, and that when the information was complete, “the attention of Parliament will be called to the result thus obtained, with a view to such improvements in the laws which regulate the right of voting in the election of members of the House of Commons as may tend to strengthen our free institutions, and conduce to the public welfare." Some announcement on the subject of reform was expected by every one. Nobody could have had any doubt that the new government would at once bring forward some measure to extend the franchise. The only surprise felt was perhaps at the cautious and limited way in which the proposed measure was indicated in the royal speech. Some of the more extreme reformers thought there was something ominous in this way of opening the question. A mere promise to obtain information on the subject of the franchise appeared to be minimizing as much as possible the importance of the whole subject. Besides, it was asked, what information is required more than we have already? Is this to be merely an investigation as to the number of persons whom this or
that scale of franchise would add to the constituencies? Is the character of the reform to be decided by the mere addition which it would make to the voters' lists rather than by the political principles which an extended franchise represents?
Is there to be what Burke calls " a low-minded inquisition into numbers," in order that too many Englishmen should not be allowed the privilege to vote?
There was something ominous, therefore, in the manner in which the first mention of the new Reform Bill was received as well as in the terms of the announcement. Many circumstances, too, made the time unpropitious for such an undertaking. The cattle plague had broken out toward the close of the previous year, and had spread with most alarming rapidity. At the end of 1865 it was announced that about 80,000 cattle had been attacked by the disease, of which some 40,000 had died. From 6,000 to 8,000 animals were dying every week. The government, the cattle owners, and the scientific men were much occupied in devising plans for the restriction of the malady. Some keen controversy had arisen over the government proposals for making good the losses of the cattle owners whose animals had to be killed in obedience to official orders to prevent the spread of disease.
There were already rumors of the approach of that financial distress which was to break out shortly in disastrous commercial panic. Cholera was believed to be travelling ominously westward. There were threatened disturbances in Ireland and alarms about a gigantic Fenian conspiracy. It did not need to be particularly keen-eyed to foresee that there was likely soon to be a collision of irreconcilable interests on the Continent. There was uneasiness about Jamaica; there was uneasiness about certain Englishmen and women who were detained as prisoners by Theodore, King of Abyssinia. Moreover the parliament had only just been elected, and a Reform Bill would mean a speedy dis. solution, with a renewal of expense and trouble to the members of the House of Commons. Certainly the time did not seem tempting for a sudden revival of the reform controversy which had been allowed to sleep in a sort of Kyffhauser cav. ern during the later years of Lord Palmerston's life.
Many Conservatives did not believe that the studied mod. eration of the announcement in the Queen's speech could really be taken as evidence of a moderate intention on the part of the ministry. While Radicals generally insisted that the strength of the old Whig party, "the Dukes," as the phrase went, had been successfully exerted to compel a compromise and keep Mr. Gladstone down, most of the Tories would have it that Mr. Gladstone now had got it all his own way, and that the cautious vagueness of the Queen's speech would only prove to be the prelude to very decisive and alarming changes in the constitution Not since the introduction by Lord John Russell of the measure which became law in 1832, had a Reform Bill been expected in England with so much curiosity, with so much alarm, with so much disposition to a foregone conclusion of disappointment. On March 12th Mr. Gladstone introduced the bill. His speech was eloquent; but the House of Commons was not stirred. It was evident at once that the proposed measure was only a compromise; and a compromise of the most unattractive kind, The substance of the government scheme may be explained in a single sentence. The bill proposed to reduce the county fran. chise from fifty pounds to fourteen pounds, and the borough franchise from ten to seven pounds. There was a savingsbank franchise, and a lodger franchise, but we need not discuss smaller details and qualifying provisions. The boroug franchise of course was the central question in any reform measure; and this was to be reduced by three pounds. The man who could be enthusiastic over such a reform must have been a person whose enthusiasm was scarcely worth arousing. The peculiarity of the situation was, that without a genuine popular enthusiasm nothing could be done. The