« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
against combining to lower the price of work, but many against combining to raise it.” * The injustice has been remedied, and workmen are free to combine not to work under certain wages, and to regulate the hours of work; always provided that they do not by violence, threats, or otherwise, interfere with the freedom cf action in other workmen. We shall have to note hereafter the repeal of the Combination and the effects of that repeal. This change and its consequences form an important consideration in the history of our social state, and in any estimate of its possible future. The change could not be avoided. But the rude contest of four centuries ago still subsists under different forms scarcely less rude. Legislation is not competent to deal with the evil. Its remedy can only be found in a better appreciation by employers and workmen of their mutual rights and duties. The preparation for a happier system than that which results in the ruin and misery of strikes, is to be sought in the real and solid instruction of all classes in the great natural laws by which the relations of capital and labour must inevitably be adjusted, whatever be the disturbing forces which interfere with an adjustment. The gross ignorance of these laws exhibited by the legislators of Trades Unions, in the middle of the nineteenth century, is even more deplorable than that of the law-givers of the nation in the fifteenth century. Untaught workmen of the time of Edward III. had the laws of political economy with them, when they demanded an increase of wages in consequence of the decrease in the number of labourers.
Halfeducated artisans of the days of queen Victoria demand an increase of wages because the number of labourers has increased. On the other hand, we are not to conclude, that the ignorance, grosser than that of the dark ages, which says, “ if political economy is against us we are against political economy," and the tyranny against fellow-workmen by which that ignorance is upheld, that these are to be met by the capitalist, in a partial triumph over combinations, requiring conditions which appear to interfere with the free action of the individual labourer. Let us have no class despotism, on one side or the other; no arbitrary regulations, if not quite as odious, certainly as ineffectual, as the partial and unjust distinction of the days of the first and second Georges between the rights of capital and the rights of labour.
The question, so often raised, and on which different opinions are still continued to be held,--the question of parliamentary privilege,-agitated the nation in 1750 and in 1751. On the 22nd of November, 1749, an election was held for Westminster, in which
* "Weaith of Nations," book i. c. 8.
REFORM OF THE CALENDAR.
the ministerial candidate, lord Trentham, was opposed by sir George Vandeput, supported by a strong body of persons calling themselves the Independent Electors, A scrutiny was demanded upon lord Treotham being returned. On the 22nd of February, 1750, no return liaving been made to the writ, the high bailiff was called to the bar of the House of Commons; but he was dismissed, upon his assurance being given that he would use his endeavours to expedite the election, Parliament was prorogued before the return was made, which return was in favour of lord Trentham, Soon after the opening of the Session in 1751, a petition was presented from the inhabitants of Westminster complaining of an undue return, arising out of the partiality of the high bailiff. This officer accused three gentlemen, Mr. Crowle, the Hon. Alexander Murray, and Mr. Gibson, of having illegally interfered to obstruct the proceedings on the scrutiny, and to influence him in the return, Crowle was reprimanded and discharged. Gibson, was sent to Newgate. When Murray was brought to the bar, to receive bis sentence of a close committal to Newgate, he refused to kneel, as commanded by the Speaker. Horace Walpole has related the scene which took place: “He entered with an air of confidence, composed of something between a martyr and a coxcomb. The Speaker called out, “Your obeisances ! sir, your obeisances !'—and then—Sir, you must kneel.' He replied, “Sir, I beg to be excused; I never kneel but to God.' The Speaker repeated the command with greath warmth. Murray answered, “Sir, I am sorry
I cannot comply with your request, I would in anything else.' The Speaker cried, “Sir, I call upon you again to consider of it.' Murray answered, “Sir, when I have committed a crime, I kneel to God for pardon ; but I know my own innocence, and cannot kneel to anybody else.' The Speaker ordered the serjeant to take him away, and secure him.”' * In April Murray was brought by Habeas Corpus into the King's Bench, where his case was argued. But the validity of his commitment being affirmed by three judges, he was remanded to Newgate. Upon the prorogation of Parliament he was conducted in triumph to his own house, attended by the sheriffs of London. In the next Session of Parliament, a motion was made that Murray should be apprehended, and again committed to Newgate for contempt of privilege. It was fortunate for the honour of Parliament that, upon the motion being carried, Murray absconded. A reward of five hundred pounds was offered for his apprehension, but without effect. A prosecution against the publisher of a pamphlet on this subject was ordered by the House.
"Memoirs of the Reign of George 11." vol. i. p. 29, VOL. V.- 37
A London jury acquitted the defendant. The public sympathy with Murray was a manifestation of the growing temper with which the proceedings of their representatives had come to be regarded by the people ;-a temper which in a few years was to convulse the nation almost to the verge of anarchy.
The Reform of the Calendar, in 1751, is a measure of which no one can be more sensible of the advantage than he who has to write the annals of his country. The change which pope Gregory XIII. had introduced in 1582 had gradually been adopted by all European states except England, Russia, and Sweden. Thus, in reading a French historian, we not only find an event bearing date ten or eleven days in advance of the date of an English narrative, but the year is made to begin from the ist of January in the foreign annalist instead of the 25th of March, as in the English. To prevent mistakes arising out of this confusion requires perpetual vigilance in the historical writer. To attempt to reconcile these discrepancies in all cases would be needless; and most annalists are generally content to take the dates as they find them. The energy of lord Chesterfield—a man of great and various ability, who had filled high offices, but in 1751 had retired from ministerial business-carried this reform through, with the learned aid of lord Macclesfield, who was afterwards president of the Royal Society. The commencement of the year on the ist of January was not calculated to disturb any popular prejudice ; for the 25th of February, 1751, on which day the bill was introduced into the House of Lords, was ordinarily written, 25th February, 1750–51. But the necessity for another change was thus indicated by lord Macclesfield ; “ The same day which, in each month, is with us the first, is called the twelfth day of the month throughout almost all the other parts of Europe; and in like manner through all the other days of the month, we are just eleven days behind them.” To make the legal year correspond in all future time with the solar year, was the result of scientific calculations, the rationale of which is now generally understood. It was necessary also to make a change in the Calendar as to the time of finding Easter. There were many minor regulations essential to be provided for in consequence of the great change. The payments of rents, annuities, and salaries for public service were not to be accelerated; and thus the 5th of July, the 10th of October, the 5th of January, and the 5th of April, long held their place as rent days; and the dividends upon stock are still paid at those periods. It may be supposed that such a reform, however valuable, would not be made without some popular discontent. The timid Newcastle told
DEATH OF FREDERICK, PRINCE OF WALES
Chesterfield that he hated new-fangled things—that he had better not meddle with matters so long established. The witty earl was wiser. He made a speech of which he has given a most ingenuous account in a letter to his son: “I consulted the ablest lawyers and the most skilful astronomers, and we cooked up a Bill for that purpose. But then my difficulty began. I was to bring in this Bill, which was necessarily composed of law-jargon and astronomical calculations, to both which I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely necessary to make the House of Lords think that I knew something of the matter; and also make them believe that they knew sometbing of it themselves, which they do not. For my own part, I could just as soon have talked Celtic or Sclavonian to them, as astronomy, and they would have understood me full as well ; so I resolved to do better than speak to the purpose, and to please instead of informing them.” The peers were amused by Chesterfield; the thinking part of the nation were convinced by Macclesfield, who published his speech. Hogarth has immortalized the vulgar opposition to the reform of the Calendar is his picture of An Election Feast, in which the popular prejudices are flattered by the Whig candidate in his banner inscribed with “ Give us our eleven days.”
In 1751 an event occurred which, for some time, disturbed all the calculations of the scheming politicians of this intriguing age. Frederick, prince of Wales, died after a short illness on the 20th of March. Leicester House, his town abode, had long been the central point of opposition to the government. We have seen how far the unhappy estrangement of the prince from his parents was carried before the death of queen Caroline. Years had passed over, and yet the animosities between the reigning king and the heir-apparent were never subdued. In 1751 George II., although a hale man, was in his sixty-eighth year. The worshippers of the rising sun grew bolder in their devotion. Bubb Doddington, the treasurer of the navy, resigned his office in March, 1749, having received a message from the prince that the principal direction of . his royal highness's affairs should be put in the skilful intriguer's hands. He saw the prince at Kew, and was told that “what he could not do for me in his present situation must be made up to me in futurity.” The prince farther said that he thought a peerage, with the management of the House of Lords, and the seals of secretary of state for the southern provinces, would be a proper station for me, if I approved of it.” * Such was the mode in which England was to be governed by favouritism had she endured the misfortune of a king Frederick 1. A worthy junto took counsel
• Doddington's "Diary," July, 18, 1749
with the prince as to “ the immediate steps to be taken upon the demise of the king, more particularly in relation to the Civil List." * The prince directed the movements of the Opposition through the indefatigable borough-monger who had now the chief direction of his affairs ; suggesting, amongst other modes of embarrassing his father's ministers, that the business of Dunkirk
was an opportunity to abuse them.” | This system was broken up by the event of the 20th of March. The king felt the premature death of his son rather keenly; and appeared desirous that the remembrance of their differences should pass away. The managers of state ceremonials otherwise interpreted the sovereign's wishes. Frederick was interred without all the usual honours bestowed upon the remains of the first prince of the blood royal. None of his family followed him to the grave; and, except certain lords appointed to hold the pall, the whole tribe of courtiers studiously kept away :
“No pitying heart, no eye, afford
A tear to grace his obsequies." He had bid high for popularity; but even the patriots of the city soon forgot their idol. The public sympathy was directed towards the Princess Dowager and her eight children. She conducted herself with great prudence; refusing to enter into any of the cabals of those called her husband's friends; and throwing herself entirely upon the guidance of the king. George, her eldest son, was created Prince of Wales. The Princess had an adequate revenue assigned to her; and the education of the heir-apparent, now twelve years of age, was provided for by the appointment of a governor and subgovernor, a preceptor and sub-preceptor. A bill of Regency excited great public attention, and produced long and agitating debates in both Houses. The king wished the unpopular duke of Cumberland to be sole regent. The Princess Dowager had the public feeling in favour of her claims. The matter was compromised by the Act of Parliament, which provided that in the event of the demise of the Crown before the Prince of Wales attained the age of eighteen, his mother should be guardian of his person; but as regent of the kingdom, she should act with the advice of a council, composed of the duke of Cumberland and nine principal officers of state.
By the death of Frederick, prince of Wales, the organization of a parliamentary opposition was broken up. But as long as there were places to be filled-as long as there were rivalries in the struggles for office, and jealousies amongst its possessors,—there * Doddington's "Diary," Nov. 12.
1 lbid., Feb. 5, 1750