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THE REFORMERS IRRESISTIBLE.
into deeper wretchedness and gloom. Sydney Smith, but a few years ago, said, “There is, no doubt, more misery and acute suffering among the mass of the people of England, than there is in any kingdom of the world. There are thousands houseless, breadless, friendless, without shelter, raiment or hope; millions uneducated, only half fed, driven to crime and every species of vice which ignorance and destitution bring in their train, to an extent utterly unknown to the less enlightened, the less free, the less favored, and the less powerful kingdoms of Europe." What would that great and humane writer say now?
The million I know have been crushed into helplessness; but their cause has been taken up by a new and more formidable body of Reformers than England has ever before had to deal with. They are not to be trifled with. They have undertaken the emancipation of the oppressed. The barriers of power are melting to their touch. The ponderous gates of the prisonhouse of humanity will swing open at their approach. They will call forth and concentrate all the slumbering energies of the timid and the doubting. They constitute a force, around which swing all the discordant elements, and separate parties that have been working for the same thing in not the same way. Their words are charmed words, combining and harmonizing multitudes. Their action and their language authenticate their commission. The people feel it, and in them behold the pillar of fire that is guiding them to liberty.
IBERTY has seen its darkest day in England. The dying year closed over the ashes of Palmerston, the strongest foe of the people, and witnessed the accession of Russell, the feeblest friend of the Aristocracy. From his ministry nothing can be hoped by the privileged class in Church or State. Feudalism cannot lean on him. If he should put forth his last and strongest effort in her cause, he would do her more harm than good.
LIBERTY IN OTHER NATIONS.
She wants no nerveless advocate now. She is too decrepid to go alone-she is too timid to risk herself to do anything.
There has been a prolonged lull in the political world of England. No striking signs indicated an approaching storm. There was no desire for hastening the conflict. The Aristocracy was glad enough to have everything remain as it was; no news was good news. Nothing was everything. Masterly inactivity had become feudal statesmanship.
The Reformers saw that their hour was coming. Events in other nations were helping them on. The toiling millions had given their cause over to the great Liberal leaders; helpless in their destitution, hoping little, but praying all the time to the God of the poor.
But ominous sounds were heard from other nations. There came rolling up from the purple shores of the Mediterranean the shout of political redemption from twenty-five million Italians. The last Bourbon footfall had died away in the Halls of the Doges; the shivered fragments of the Pontifical Sceptre lay scattered among the tombs of the Cæsars.
The wild shouts of twenty-five million freed serfs-exulting in their freedom, standing on their broken fetters-came rolling down from the ice-plains of Russia.
The wand of Liberty's Enchantress had been waved over our Western world, and the sword of the last rebel against the Great Republic lay broken among the broken chains of his slave. Two nations born in a day.
HESE were the world-reverberating sounds that broke upon the shores of Britain, and shook the foundations of her feudal castle.
Meanwhile the voice of Peel-the last great champion of Aristocracy still lingered in the ears of its doomed worshipers; while the clarion voice of Cobden-the prophet and high
POOR LORD JOHN RUSSELL!
priest of Democracy-had not yet died away in the desolate hovels of the countless multitude.
Aristocracy was without a leader. Neither they nor the Liberals would trust Derby or Gladstone-the only two men. in all England, perhaps, who could still arrest the rush of feudalism to its wreck. A tacit but transient truce was proclaimed. Russell, whom nobody wanted, except as a pis aller, was called to the helm. The vessel was tranquilly floating, not a sail was unfurled; any body on deck could stand at the wheel-one hand could play dummy as well as another. The decks were not yet cleared for action. But a new British Parliament is assembling, and not to try, but be tried by an indignant People.
Lord John Russell! a pilot for a calm-an aristocrat without the pride or chivalry of his class-an insipid eulogist of Popular Liberty, still clinging with feeble grasp to the skirts of his brave martyr-ancestor-a stone in the bed of the stream, not strong enough to resist the current, or weak enough to go with it yet grown smooth by the polishing but harmless flow of the waters-stepping out of Sodom only to turn back to gaze on its doomed towers-a Premier untrusted at home and despised abroad. What can such a pilot do for the fair vessel slowly drifting into shoal water? Nothing for the Aristocracy, except to surrender their colors on the field-nothing for the Liberals, but to keep a stronger man out of the way—nothing for the wolf-million, but to reach forth his shrivelled hand to throw a bone, or worse, a tasteless sop to this Cerberus. If this be the game, something "live," with "warm blood," must go.
Oh! were I the holder of the broadest acres and the proudest coronet of England to-day, I would, in the presence of all this imbecility and all this danger, scream for Peel!
FREE TRADE POLICY.
closing this Book, I cannot withhold the following tribute to two of the most illuminated Statesmen of our times.
I have gathered from authentic sources in England and America the following important facts, now for the first time communicated to the public, in regard to the almost simultaneous repeal of the British Corn Laws, and the enactment of our celebrated tariff of 1846, framed by Mr. Walker, then Secretary of the Treasury, on the request of Congress.
Mr. Walker had throughout his life advocated the policy of a tariff for revenue, and not for protection; but what policy he would recommend, as Secretary, was not known until he recommended the Revenue Tariff, designated here as the “Free Trade Policy."
During the year 1845, we had clear premonitions of the pending famine in Ireland. This great fact, perhaps, precipitated the Free Trade movement of Sir Robert Peel, then at the head of the British Cabinet. Meantime, an unofficial
letter was addressed by Sir James Graham, special friend of Sir Robert, to Mr. Walker, suggesting the peculiar state of affairs in Ireland, the probable movement of Sir Robert for the repeal of the Corn Laws, indicating the great difficulty of the passage of that measure through Parliament, and stating that if Mr. Walker intended at any time to recommend the Free Trade Policy to Congress, it would greatly aid Sir Robert's movement, if the American Secretary would advocate a similar policy in his forthcoming Report.
As Mr. Walker had always advocated the Free Trade Policy, and issued Treasury circulars with similar views, he would have, doubtless, maintained these principles in his first Report. Perhaps, however, as no American Secretary of the Treasury had ever recommended the Free Trade Policy, it is quite possible that Mr. Walker's first Report might have been less bold and
POLITICAL LIFE OF PEEL.
decisive had he not been aided by the fact, that such a Report would probably ensure the repeal of the British Corn Laws.
Mr. Walker's first Report, was made to Congress on the first Tuesday of December, 1845. Parliament did not meet till late in January, 1846, and on the 26th day of that month Sir Robert Peel, to the amazement of the Tories, but to the delight of the nation, made his great speech in favor of a repeal of the Corn Laws. In that speech he quoted extensively from Mr. Walker's Report, and based his movement, to a great extent, on it, as indicating the adoption of a reciprocal, liberal commercial policy by England and America; the former repealing the Corn Laws, and the latter reducing the Tariff; but as was shown by the sequel, trebling our imports, exports and revenue. Mr. Walker's Report was printed by the vote of both Houses of Parliament, it being the only Report of any Foreign Secretary that had ever thus been placed on the files of Parliament. It is quite clear from the sequel, that neither of these great measures could have been adopted without the support each received from the other.
Sir Robert Peel commenced political life as a Tory and Protectionist, then, and still, almost synonymous terms. He remained at the head of his old party until January, 1846, when with bold and manly eloquence he discarded at once the whole protective policy, and, renouncing all the favorite theories of his life, introduced his bill for the repeal of the Corn Laws. He was deserted by the great body of the Tories and Protectionists, and retired from the Cabinet. But he remained in Parliament, carrying with him a small body of the most enlightened of his former followers, included among whom was his special friend Sir James Graham, who was selected by him to correspond with Mr. Walker.
The death of Sir Robert Peel, in 1850, was a great calamity to America, to England, and the civilized world. At the period of his death, he stood at the head of European statesmen. His oratory was clear and argumentative, generally dealing in the logic of facts, but rising occasionally into impassioned elo