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the Council held last evening, it was unanimously resolved that the Secretary be instructed to inform the Press that the communications signed “P. Barry, Treasurer,' which have appeared in various newspapers, are wholly unauthorized.”
The Peers and the working men next put in their different accounts of the different side of the shield presented to their view,Mr. Scott Russell being the shield, of which apparently one side was inscribed with a very vague, and the other with a very definite. inscription. According to the Peers, “early in the summer” Mr. Scott Russell made the first application to them, “in the name of a representative Council of working men, of which he was Chairman, expressing a wish that some leading Members of both Houses should consent to act together in considering the reasonable requirements of the working class and such legislative measures as might be proposed to them.” The result was that Lords Salisbury, Carnarvon, Lichfield, John Manners, Sandon (a new name in the matter), with Sir John Pakington, Sir Stafford Northcote, and Mr. Gathorne Hardy, signed a memorandum, in which they declared that, "at the request of Mr. Scott Russell, as chairman of a Council of representative working men,” they undertook “to consider in a friendly and impartial spirit whether and in what measure we can co-operate with this Council in measures calculated to remove the disadvantages which affect the well-being of the working classes ;" but reserving “ to ourselves the most unfettered discretion in the selection of objects and the modification or rejection of measures proposed to us for consideration."
On the other hand, the representative working men, including Mr. Howell, Mr. Applegarth, Mr. Lloyd Jones, and others, asserted that Mr. Scott Russell invited them to consider the most needful social reforms, on the ground that “certain noblemen and Members of Parliament of high position--not then named-were anxious to co-operate with working men in inaugurating and promoting a movement established to ameliorate the condition of our skilled artisans.” Mr. Scott Russell seems to have kept each group sedulously in ignorance of the names of the other, and after the working men had formulated their demands in the seven celebrated articles, he informed them on the 19th of August that his “negotiations had been successful, all the objects had been attained," but that his difficulties had been enormous; that he had failed with the Liberals, and had to turn to the Tories ; that he had had six months of very hard work, and that in May he had had to begin his work all over again. On the 28th September he gave the names of Lord Lichfield, Lord Carnarvon, Lord Salisbury, Lord Lorne, Lord Henry Lennox, Lord John Manners, Sir John Pakington, Sir S. Northcote, and Mr. Gathorne Hardy, as having assented to the seven propositions (so the working men were “distinctly given to understand”), of whom Lord Lorne and Lord Henry Lennox disclaimed all share in the movement, while there was no mention of Lord Sandon, who seems to have joined in the memorandum. The working men
thought it had gone so far that they were expecting Mr. Scott Russell to arrange a meeting, "at which the legislative measures were to be discussed, and the details of the Bills agreed upon.” It seemed that in some way or other the working men were deceived, and even the Peers were not enlightened, by the negotiator.
When at last Mr. Scott Russell came forward with his own account to supply the missing link, the explanation was not very lucid. He addressed a letter to the two allied bodies, beginning, “My Lords, Gentlemen, and Fellow Workmen,” tracing back the psychological history of his own attempt to combine Peers and working men in a work of social reform to a period anterior to 1851, and referring it to the counsels of the Prince Consort. Beyond this, and the fact that the troubles in France in 1870 and the success of Germany brought very strongly before him the advantages of a cultivated and self-respecting working class, he threw no sort of light on the movement, or the discrepancies between the impression he had given to the working men of what the Peers and Baronets were prepared to do, and the impression he had received in writing from the Peers and Baronets as to what they were prepared to do. Over that he passed altogether. He said, however, with a certain flourish of manner, “Never have I received from, or made overtures to, the leaders of either of the political parties in the State. One of the chief causes of the movement has been our utter disbelief in the wisdom, patriotism, or statesmanship of mere party politics, and our conviction that the great interests of the nation are utterly neglected while the rival parties in the House of Commons are factiously contending for the paltry purpose of keeping one of them in power and the other out.”
His letter concluded with an assertion that the “imperative duty of the two Councils” remained the same as before. “I trust,” he said, “my short statement has shown that this Social Movement was neither a revolutionary conspiracy nor a political maneuvre; that it was an endeavour to unite more closely in a bond of brotherly kindness some separated, if not alienated, classes of Englishmen; that it was a work dictated by patriotism, directed by common sense, reconciled with common justice, and, in short, a work of plain practical Christianity. Let us now stand fast by our principles, and go straight through with our work.”
The rights of the Social Alliance thus continued a mystery, and nothing further was heard of it this year than the amusing comments which we have quoted from Mr. Gladstone's speech at Greenwich.
A new "sensation,” however (to use the favourite phrase of the day), was soon provided for the public in place of the Seven Points, in the shape of a new development of Republicanism.
Sir Charles Dilke, one of the members for Chelsea, though as times go a young man, had already courted notoriety as traveller, author, and politician. In the first capacities united he had published in a
big and exhaustive work, entitled “Greater Britain," his impressions of the English-speaking peoples of the earth, as derived from a rapid tourist's view of those peoples, which, however, had enabled him to arrive intuitively at a full comprehension of all the most difficult questions, of whatever nature, which concerned all and each of them, and to enlighten slower intellects thereupon. In the Franco-German war, in company with two other Liberal members of advanced views, he had hovered on the skirts of the battles with an opera-glass and a red cross. In Parliament he had not signalized himself in any marked manner, except by voting in the most unpopular and smallest minorities of the session, on such questions as the royal dowries; and on his bringing forward a motion about the Black Sea Conference he called down on himself a smart rebuke from the Premier, which was equally relished by all sections of the House.
As the Dilke baronetcy was generally supposed to have been created for his father as a reward for assiduous and obsequious attendance on the Prince Consort, there was a special appropriateness in the appearance of Sir Charles Dilke to make a personal attack upon the Queen. The occasion chosen was the delivery of a lecture at Newcastle on "Representation and Royalty.” His text was, that the positive and direct cost of royalty to this country is about a million a year. His speech, though it naturally made a sensation at the time, as coming from a baronet, need not be quoted at any length, having been as conclusive in argument, and incorrect in facts, as it was violent in expression. He believed that 100,0001. a year was spent on royal yachts and yachting, and 131,0001. on the royal household; and 172,0001. used to be spent on tradesmen's bills, and was now saved by the Queen-"a division of public moneys almost amounting to malversation” in Sir Charles's gracious language, though, whether to be regretted or not, the economy could not certainly differ legally from the saving effected by any other official out of his own salary. But the main charge brought by the lecturer against the Queen was, that on the introduction of the Income Tax she had undertaken to subject her own income to it, and had broken her word. It afterwards appeared that Sir Charles Dilke had based this statement solely on his knowledge that “in 1855 the Financial Reform Association, under the presidency of Mr. Robertson Gladstone, had satisfied themselves that her Majesty did not pay income tax," and had made no further inquiry before bringing this outrageous charge, which was absolutely unfounded in fact, the truth being that the Queen had paid income tax from the day of its first imposition. But Sir Charles did not think it necessary to make any admission or retractation of the error.
Equally correct was his estimate of the cost of the Royal Family in reality, we believe about 300,0001. a year. But fictions are a pleasanter material than facts for lecturers of this order. The storm of indignation (of which the occasion was hardly worthy,) which followed the publication of Sir C. Dilke's lecture was louder and more general than the most loyal could have anticipated, and even the Speaker himself (who indeed probably, like most orators of his calibre, had said a good deal more than he meant) was shamed into an unsuccessful attempt to prove that he had intended no discourtesy to the Queen,
One very curious result followed from the feeling aroused. In some places the lower classes, to whose passions and prejudices the lecturer might be supposed to have specially appealed, took up the cause of royalty with such violence that the police were called in to protect the Republicans in the free utterance of their subversive sentiments--a phenomenon which called forth much wondering and curious comment in France—and was indeed a striking tribute at once to freedom and to order. There is no doubt that some very serious riots were prevented by the measure; even as it was, one of Sir Charles Dilke's partisans lost his life in one place, and in another the great Republican apostle, Odger, barely escaped with his from an excited mob.
Meantime the national loyalty was to be put to a far graver test. The story of the dangerous illness of the Prince of Wales (whose safety can scarcely yet be held a certainty even while these words are penned,) is told in another part of this volume", and need not be set down in detail here. But wonderful indeed was the effect of that illness throughout the country, unless the most clamorous signs of public feeling are to be held delusions.
When the news of the 8th of December fell like a thunderbolt upon the country, and it was known that the Prince, whom all had believed recovering, was lying in the very blackness of the valley of the shadow of death, the nation seemed to gather round the throne with a single heart and a single prayer. And not the nation only, but the farthest ends of the earth, all united in a moment by the action of the telegraph wire, which now brought about a state of things unique in history. Abroad, as at home in India, America, Australia, in every part of the great kingdom, on which, according to the proud old boast, the sun never sets, business and pleasure were for the time suspended. Receptions at the Calcutta Government House, and Republican gatherings in London, were postponed at the self-same moment, and for the self-same cause. And for six days and nights did millions of people, each in his own tongue, and according to his own creed, "wrestle with God in prayer," hopelessly as it seemed, for that one young life. If ever prayer availed, surely that long and universal cry held back the parting soul from the very gates of death.
It will not be soon forgotten, that it was on the 14th of December, the tenth anniversary of the Prince Consort's death, which had been anticipated by many with an acknowledged dread, which showed how strangely strong, in spite of civilization and of reason, is the hold of superstition on the human mind, that the dark cloud passed
• See the “Chronicle."
away, and the people breathed again. Throughout that week of suspense and fear the streets in front of the newspaper and telegraph offices were continually crowded even during the hours of the night, and the announcement of any news that gave a glimmer of hope was received with general cheering by the curious people. Every opportunity was taken for displays of loyalty and of attachment to the reigning family, which could only be enhanced by the simple patience and devotion with which its different members waited on the sick-bed:
When the anniversary of Christmas came round the public mind had been set at ease by the continuance of the favourable turn that the Prince's illness had taken, and Boxing-night at the different theatres was made the occasion of a memorable exhibition of feeling. Surely Citizen Dilke himself, if he chanced to be among the audience at Drury Lane, "could scarce forbear to cheer” when the crowded galleries and pit caught up in full chorus, three times in succession, the air “God bless the Prince of Wales," as the orchestra played it, the whole house rising to their feet.
This general revival-awakening rather of the old-fashioned loyalty in its fullest force was the more remarkable that the Prince of Wales had been for some time growing, or supposed to be growing, very unpopular, except with those who knew him personally, and by whom he was always valued. Due allowance had perhaps not been made for the exceptional difficulties of his position, at the best difficult enough, deprived as he was of the means of keeping up that outward show of royalty which more than any thing else tends to make a prince popular with the million. And his ways and tastes had been too characteristic of the “ gilded youth” of the day, to be popular in one whose smallest actions were seen under so broad a light. But all such sins were forgotten now, or only remembered to be forgiven. The great event of the closing month of 1871, which so completely absorbed the public mind that the newspapers set aside even the last crisis of the French Republic as of no account in comparison, and the Times for two days had leading articles on no other subject, showed at least this, that for good or for evil, the old leaven of royalty was as strong as ever in the heart of the people. Republicans and Communists, to all appearance, had failed even to shake the reverence of Englishmen for the “mystic sublimity of caste."
Among the minor matters of the moment which was forgotten, or its interest suspended, by the Prince's illness, but which must not be forgotten here, was the last ministerial difficulty of the year, which when the danger of the Prince first became known, was the theme of all the papers, and seemed fraught with more promise of mischief to Mr. Gladstone than all his previous mistakes. The danger was wantonly incurred, it would almost seem, out of sheer recklessness and confidence. It will be remembered that the Privy Council Act, passed at the close of the session, provided for the appointment of four paid members of the Judicial Committee of that