« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Palmerston, and Lord John Russell at once took office under Lord Grey. On the ist of March, 1831, Lord John Russell made known the nature of the Reform Bill. On the second reading of the bill the ministry had a majority of only one vote on their side. The House then went into what is called committee, and examined the clauses one by one. Within three days the Government was twice beaten. Lord Grey, feeling that he could not carry on the government, resigned, but the king would not agree to his resignation, and the short-lived Parliament was dissolved by the king in person.
When the new Parliament met it was found to be more clamorous for reform than the preceding one. Another Reform bill was brought in, and every clause of it was examined, and at last it passed through the House of Commons, but on its second reading in the House of Lords it was rejected by a majority of 41 votes. And now fierce riots ensued at Bristol, Nottingham, and Derby, and other places, and to quell these the troops were called out.
On the 12th of December, 1831, Lord John Russell proposed another bill, and on the 12th of March, 1832, it passed the third reading in the House of Commons by a majority of 116 votes. We must now follow this bill to the House of Lords, and note its fortunes there. We have seen that the previous bill, on its second reading, was rejected by a majority of 41 votes; but in April, 1832, this last bill had in its favour a majority of 9 votes on its second reading. Yet it was not safe; for when the Lords went into committee, and debated on its clauses, Lord Grey was beaten by a majority of 35 votes on the very first clause, and he at once resigned office. The king then sent for the Duke of Wellington, and requested him to form a ministry, which he tried to do, but failed. More riots were likely to occur; soldiers were placed conveniently in barracks, in different places, to stop them, and at Birmingham especially the people mustered in large numbers, and undertook to pay no taxes until the bill was passed. The times were very serious, and the king recalled Lord Grey to the head of affairs. His Majesty went further, for he declared his intention of creating new peers, or additional members of the House of Lords, to help in carrying the bill, unless it was at once passed. This declaration settled the matter; the bill was passed on the 7th of June, 1832, the excitement was over,
peace was secured. We must now see what the Reform Bill of 1832 did for the country. In counties it almost doubled the number of members of the House of Commons, inasmuch as it caused 159 members to be returned for eighty-two places, whereas before 94 were returned for fifty-two places. Boroughs with a population of less than two thousand were not allowed to return members, whilo thirty boroughs having a population of less than four thousand were allowed to return only one member instead of two. Places like Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Macclesfield, and Manchester, were permitted to return two members instead of one, as before. The seats of 143 members, left vacant by the changes, were better distributed. The Scottish and Irish bills of reform were soon passed. In boroughs and cities the right to vote for members was given to householders paying at least 1ol. rent per annum, and in counties householders paying not less than 5ol. rent per annum were allowed the same privilege.-Adapted from Dr. Collier's History of England.'
MODERN INVENTIONS, DISCOVERIES, &c.
THE greatest marvel of the age we live in consists in the wonderful facilities now existing for locomotion and communication of thought. The Railway—the Steamboat—the Electric Telegraph—the Penny Post are wonders of the nineteenth century.
From the Comet’ steam vessel to the 'Great Eastern 'steam vessel there is an interval, not long indeed in time, being only half a century, but thronged with steps of progress each more surprising than the last. A mining engineer named James Symington applied the power of steam to a paddle-boat, placed on Dalswinton Loch in Dumfriesshire by Mr. Miller the proprietor. Brougham the orator, Burns the poet, and Nasmyth the painter were on board the little craft, when she took her trial trip on the 14th November, 1788. It was reserved for an American named Fulton to copy Symington's idea and place the Clermont' on the Hudson River in 1807. A carpenter of Helensburgh on the Clyde, one Henry Bell, was with Fulton when he saw the Dalswinton steamer: and what the American did on one side of the Great Water, which was soon to be ploughed by the results of their energy, the Scotsman did for his native river but four years later, when the Comet,' of four-horse power and twenty-five tons, began to run between Helensburgh and Glasgow. From loch to river, from river to narrow channels of the sea, from these to great inland sheets of water, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean, the invention extended its range, gathering strength and swiftness every year, until two ocean steamers—the ‘Sirius' which sailed from Cork on the 4th of April 1838, and the Great Western' which started from Bristol on the 8thsolved all doubt regarding ocean-traffic by reaching New York on the very same day (April 23rd). The clumsy side-wings, necessary for the protection of the paddle-wheels, were removed when Farmer Smith of Hendon invented the Screw-propeller. The use of iron in building the monster-ships which now rush in the teeth of wind and wave to every region of the sea, is also a novelty of our time.
More wonderful still is the transmission of thought by the electric fluid, for which we have to thank Mr. Cooke, a retired Indian officer of mechanical genius, and Professor Wheatstone of King's College, London, whose scientific labours in the investigation of electricity deserve the warmest praise. Having met, talked, and experimented, they jointly produced a series of wires and needles, by which a message could be spelled out. The decisive experiment took place on the 25th of July, 1837, when a conversation passed between Euston Square and Camden Town. A chemical telegraph has been since brought into use, by which the symbols representing letters are printed in blue lines upon paper. Almost every railway is now lined with posts to support the
copper wires in cups of insulating glass or earthenware, and along them flash telegrams (the word too is an invention of our age), laden with joy or sorrow, haste or warning. The Submarine Telegraph was the next step in this wonder of wonders. And here, just at the moment of our need, there came from the Polynesian islands the hardened sap of a tree, called gutta percha, which amid countless other industrial uses to which it has been applied served to coat the wire cable laid below the sea. France and England-Scotland and Ireland were linked by this hidden chain; but the grandest effort of all was the successful laying of the Atlantic Cable in 1866 from Valentia Bay in Ireland to Trinity Bay in Newfoundland.
The son of a schoolmaster in Birmingham was walking one day in the Lake Country, when an incident befell him, which led him to ponder the subject of Cheap Postage. A woman, unable to pay a shilling for every letter she got, had devised a plan with her brother for cheating the Government that charged so high. When she saw the envelope, she knew all she wanted to know, namely, that the absentee was alive, and in this manner avoided paying for the intelligence. The pedestrian's name was Rowland Hill. Sowing his opinions and calculations broadcast in the shape of a pamphlet, he flung himself ardently into the cause of general Penny Postage, and on the 17th of August, 1839, after a hard battle had the satisfaction of beholding the triumph of his views in an Act of Parliament. On the oth of July, 1840, Penny Postage began to benefit the land. Letters were soon sent in hundreds of millions every year over the land, scattering the seeds of all the wondrous varieties of human thought and passion. A remarkable result of Penny Postage is the desire it has kindled among the lowest classes of knowing how to write. Rowland Hill, to whom this boon is due, although unjustly treated at first, had his merit recognised in 1854, when he was appointed Secretary to the Post Office. In course of time he received the honour of knighthood and a pension.
Photography too must be reckoned among the great inventions of the period. How rays of sunlight reflected from an object may be so gathered up and cast upon a sensitive surface as to form there an exact and permanent copy, it does not come within our province to explain. But the wide results of this grand discovery, as yet perhaps only in its infancy, and the thousand ways in which it has come to illustrate common life, open a vast field of remark, which we cannot enter now. Every drawing-room table has its pretty album crowded with the portraits of friends. The emigrant sends home, for a few shillings, his likeness and those of the little ones God may have given him since he sailed for the land of his adoption. Even crime has pounced upon the power, using it to forge bank-notes and signatures. But the blade is two-edged; detection hunts the absconded criminal with a photo, a hundred times surer than the vague description of the old Hue and Cry, and, when he is caught, a hidden camera prints his features for careful preservation in that register of faces kept by the governors of jails.
How greatly too has gas, as we call the carburetted hydrogen that burns in our streets and houses, added to the comfort and safety of the century. The dim rushlight—the nasty tallowcandle, ill-smelling and greasy-the calm and costly wax—the oil-lamps of various kinds and names, have almost all been ousted by this subtle spirit, stealing by subterranean ways into our houses and springing into visible brightness at a touch of flame. It would be ungrateful to omit the homely little sheaf of wooden splinters or waxen wicks tipped with explosive beads,
which stand ready to strike a light as if by magic, when we simply rub them on a roughened surface. To Gas and Lucifers, and the Chemistry which gave them both and a thousand benefits besides, we owe a vast deal of our comfort and convenience.
The age we live in has been called the Iron Age in disparagement by poets and other imaginative persons, who bewail the Golden Past. In a very material and literal sense it may well be so named. For Iron has latterly come to play a wonderful part in the machinery of our life. Not alone in the bridges that span our broad streams—the ships that carry on our colossal commerce—the palaces which enclose our Exhibitions—the snorting engines that fly along our iron roads—does this homeliest of metals display its strength and infinite utility: but in a more dreadful way of late there has been a duel going on between rifled cannon and iron-clad ships, which bids fair to alter the whole art of war. No sooner do we launch a vessel clad in armour of iron-plates, six or eight inches thick, than Sir William Armstrong or Mr. Whitworth steps forward with some monstrous piece of breech-loading ordnance, thick and dark as a porpoise, which hurls a conical ball of enormous weight with such terrific force that the solid slab of metal rends and splinters before it like a sheet of tin. In the American war a new kind of ship appeared—a ship with neither masts 'nor sails, whose crew was buried in a huge iron box, that floats with its single funnel like the dark roof of a submerged house. Off the plated sides of such vessels the common round-shot rattle like pease off plate-glass. What the iron-clads may come to, Time alone can tell. France has 'La Gloire' and 'La Normandie ; Britain has her 'Black Prince' and her · Warrior;' America has had her “Monitor' and 'Merrimac,' which the world has seen engaged in furious but very fruitless strife. As yet these ships cannot weather a rough sea, and, if they sink, the huge black hull becomes the coffin of the whole crew with scarcely a hope of safety. But what the art of Tubal-Cain may yet unfold in war or peace remains like every future thing uncertain. Ships made of Iron, swimming on the sea! How an old Phænician mariner would have laughed the thought to scorn! How the Cinque Port sailors would have shaken their lusty sides! How Raleigh -Effingham-Robert Blake-ay, Nelson of the Nile himselfwould have stared or smiled at the bare mention of such a paradox!