« السابقةمتابعة »
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!
"Where, where was Roderick then ?"
FREE TRADE POLICY.
IN 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
ELOQUENCE OF PEEL.
quence. Such passages were rare and brief; but they showed that beneath the dry logic of statistics, there reposed deep feeling and sympathy with the masses of the people. He knew how greatly they had suffered from the exactions of the landed aristocracy, and the starvation prices of breadstuffs and provisions caused by the Corn Laws. It was a sliding scale of distress and misery, causing the death of thousands of the poorer classes, driving thousands more to the dark recesses of the poor-house, and inflicting unspeakable pain upon millions more who barely escaped starvation. During the last four years of his life, in various public speeches, Sir Robert Peel made touching allusions to these events, and rejoiced that, while many of the nobility and landed aristocracy had deserted him, the hard-hand of labor was strengthened in its toil, and that millions remembered him with gratitude. Indeed, during his latter years, he exhibited great sympathy with the working classes; principles clearly allied to true Democracy.
Connected with these sentiments were the kindest expressions of feeling toward America; and had he lived, it may be safely averred that our commerce would never have been pillaged by British Confederate cruisers; nor would the angry message of the late Lord Palmerston, our bitter enemy, have ever crossed the Atlantic in regard to the Trent. Let us hope that Mr. Gladstone, the present Lord-Chancellor of England, a pupil of Sir Robert Peel, and, perhaps, destined to be the Premier of the British Cabinet, will, as regards this country, soon follow in the footsteps of his illustrious master.