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of speech he might be fairly enough charged with, but intemperance in drink was an utterly baseless and audacious falsehood. But worse, infinitely worse than the renewed rancour of the Conservative press and peers, was the tone assumed by the liberal papers, which either joined in the cry against the Chancellor, or coldly and feebly defended him. His foibles, once so carefully ignored or concealed, were openly and industriously paraded before the public eye, of course not without much exaggerative colouring. The following hit from an old friend, the Times,' seems a cruel and ungenerous one. It was called forth by an article in the * Caledonian Mercury,' which denounced the arrogance of the leading journal, and accused it of aiming at the direction of the royal counsels. This article a correspondent of the Times ' imputed to Lord Brougham. The "Times' thus replied: 'If we have sought to direct the royal counsels in the formation of a cabinet, we have not played contemptible and mountebank tricks to persuade people that we did direct those counsels, and that we were actually (when we were not) authorised to share with Lord Melbourne in the trust of submitting a cabinet to his majesty. We did not pretend to be honoured with the king's commands, nor with the royal confidence, while we knew the king would sooner behold a mad dog enter his council-chamber than see us approach within five miles of Windsor. We never gave out to servants and hangers-on that we were going to Windsor when we ordered a postchaise to take us no further than Putney Bridge. All these imputations were untrue, and the fact is certain that Lord Brougham did receive the king's commands. Other graceful amenities, such as calling the Chancellor 'the cracked and crazy weathercock of the House of Lords,' were showered upon him by the same journal with liberal profusion. But this bitter and undisguised hostility was not shewn till after Lord Brougham's speech upon the New Poor-Law had delivered him into his enemies' hands. In order that the reader may fully appreciate the indiscretion committed by the noble and learned lord, it will be necessary to run over a few of the circumstances connected with the introduction and enactment of that much-controverted measure.
In 1832 a Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the growth of pauperism in England was appointed by the Grey government. The commissioners' report determined the ministry to bring in a bill to provide, by a central board, possessed of ample powers, for the better, more economical, more salutary administration of relief to the poor and destitute than could be hoped for from the discordant action of thousands of independent local boards, all more or less liable to be acted upon by disturbing causes, which could have no influence over a central imperial authority. This bill, although a very stringent one in many of its provisions, maintained and embodied the principle of the old law-namely, that every necessitous person has an absolute claim or right to relief. It passed during Lord Melbourne's administration, safely and without encountering any very formidable opposition, through the House of Commons, under the judicious and temperate management of Lord Althorp, although the rumbling of the Times? thunder,' and other indications of the tendency of popular opinion, emphatically demonstrated that great circumspection and prudence were required in order to weaken or allay the growing apprehension already entertained by many thousands of persons, who
suspected the new bill was a device conceived by the owners of fixed property to destroy not only the abuses, but the
existence of a law which made the relief of destitution a legal obligation as well as a moral duty. Under these circumstances the Chancellor moved the second reading, in a speech which, spite of the innumerable interpretations, explanations, and excuses afterwards offered in its defence, not only gave the finishing blow to his own popularity, but excited a storm of reprobation throughout the country, due not to the measure itself, but to the introductory speech with which the opponents of the bill took care effectually, and for a time inextricably, to confound it. The new law, as we have before observed, embodied, like the old one, the principle that every necessitous
person in England has a right to relief, while Lord Brougham's exceedingly clever speech was mainly directed to prove 'that the right to a share in a fixed fund is the grand mischief of the poorlaws, with the seeds of which they were originally pregnant.' As if this were not enough aliment to feed the rising clamour out of doors, his lordship launched into a laudation of the Rev. Mr Malthus and his doctrines, and with only one well - defined exception, denounced the institution of hospitals for the shelter and relief of the sick and feeble. * The safest, and perhaps the only perfect charity,' said the Lord Chancellor, 'is a hospital for accidents or violent diseases, because no man is secure against such calamities. Next to this, perhaps a dispensary is the safest; but this is doubtful, because a dispensary is liable to abuse, and because, strictly speaking, sickness is a thing which a prudent man should look forward to and provide against as part of the ills of life.
But when I come to hospitals for old men-and old age is before all men, and every man is every day nearer to that goal-all prudent men of independent spirit will in the vigour of their days lay by sufficient to maintain them when age shall have ended their labour. Hospitals, therefore, for the support of old men and women may, strictly speaking, be regarded as injurious in their effect upon the community. Language like this from the lips of a fortunate lawyer in the actual enjoyment of £14,000 a year, with a secured pension of £5000 on retirement from office, seemed to the embittered spirits out of doors very like triumphant mockery of care and toil-worn men, although of course not so meant by the unaccommodating orator. The plain-speaking he indulged in with respect to the widewasting ruin' produced by the old poor-law-foreshadowing the swallowing up of their lordships' rentals unless some sharp remedy were speedily applied—may be judged of from the following sentences : ‘I will not say that many farms have been actually abandoned : I will not say that many parishes have been wholly given up to waste for want of occupants (I know that there are instances of farms here and there, and of a parish–I think in the county of Bucks—which have been reduced to this state); but I will not say that as yet the system has so worked as to lay waste any considerable portion of territory.' All this was founded in truth, and the details of the facts alluded to were fully given by Mr George Nicholls, afterwards one of the Poor-Law Commissioners; but it was answered that no considerable portion of the territory of England could as yet have been thrown out of cultivation, since it was well known that year after year • enclosure bills' for the reclamation and culture of poor lands had been
more and more numerous. One statement he made relative to the worldfamous Deal boatmen called forth a very angry and indignant remonstrance. Their hardihood and daring had, he declared, vanished under the operation of the poor-law, for being able to procure twelve shillings a week from the parish, they refused to put to sea except in fine calm weather. This declamation was not indiscreet because the facts were untrue, but because they were offensive, and wholly unnecessary to induce the Peers to pass the bill. We need not say, however, that many wise, and good, and great men rank to this day on the side of Lord Brougham in the vexed question of the poor-law.
Of course the outcry against what the “Times' called the shocking intimation given in one part of the Chancellor's speech against relieving even the aged, the helpless, and the sick,' became furious and unappeasable; and calmly-judging men saw that the fall of the cabinet was at no distant date inevitable. One word as to the excess of population and anti-poorlaw theories propounded by the Rev. Mr Malthus, and eulogised by Lord Brougham. Without wishing to question the humanity of the reverend gentleman, or disputing the soundness of his views under certain circumstances — not certainly the circumstances of Great Britain, with her magnificent colonies calling with the myriad voices of their glorious but solitary rivers, their giant woods and fertile, far-stretching plains, upon the English, and Scotch, and Irishman, to come forth and cultivate the fair earth which the Creator has given them—we may be permitted to doubt the possibility of successfully applying his principles in such a state of society as we see in England. We do not misrepresent the views of Mr Malthus when we say they point to a day as early as may be consistent with prudence and self-safety, when the state shall inexorably refuse to relieve destitution, however incurred or however lamentable. This may, for aught we care to know, be true humanity, far-seeing wisdom, but it certainly could not be carried out in England. A few deaths from the refusal of food and shelter-and such results must under the most favourable circumstances be expected as long as improvidence, disease, misfortune, are incidental to humanity-would raise a hurricane of popular indignation, in which not only the obnoxious law, but the most valued institutions of the country-property itself perhaps not excepted—would be swept away amidst the tumult and uproar of a strongly-feeling, and, upon this matter, excitable and passionate people. The new poor-law proposition became law. It has since been purged of its more repulsive provisions, softened into a charitable but still firm and enlightened code, and is, we believe, in the main both considerate and corrective in its general operation.
Another and a very painful incident which occurred about this time added greatly to the disfavour into which the Melbourne cabinet and its chancellor had fallen. Mr Justice Williams, a newly-created Whig judge, sentenced six Dorchester labourers to be transported for seven years under colour of an obsolete statute against taking illegal oaths, originally enacted to repress mutiny in the navy, but in reality for being members of an agricultural trades-union. This cruel, impolític, unjust sentence Lord Brougham defended in his place in parliament as wise
, legal, and even merciful. He spoke to the winds, and a subsequent ministry were compelled to rescind the sentence.
Immediately after the prorogation of parliament Lord Brougham made a tour through the north. In Scotland the popularity of the venerable Earl Grey had not suffered nearly so much as in the southern part of the island. The mock - representation of that country under the old system, administered in modern times by the 'dynasty of Dundas, was more illusory and insulting than that of England; and the Scottish reformers, anxious to testify their gratitude to the distinguished man who had been chiefly instrumental in giving them a potential voice in the national councils, gave the earl a magnificent banquet on the Calton Hill, at which, it was said, 2768 persons were present from first to last. Lord Brougham was there, and made, as he always did, an able, telling speech. ' Fellow-citizens of Edinburgh,' exclaimed the noble and learned lord with eloquent egotism – fellow-citizens of Edinburgh, these hands are pure! In taking office, in holding office, in retaining office, I have sacrificed no feeling of a public nature, I have deserted no friend, I have abandoned no principle, I have forfeited no pledge, I have done no job, I have promoted no unworthy man, to the best of my knowledge; I have not abused the ear of my royal master, and I have not deserted the cause of the people.' In another part of his harangue he went out of his way to declaim against the rash and too eager innovators who wished to go faster than he, Lord Brougham, thought safe or expedient. This was caught up and observed upon by the Earl of Durham, whose remark, delivered with strong emphasis, that he for one regretted every hour which passed over the existence of recognised and unreformed abuses,' was received with shouts of applause. The Lord Chancellor listened to the earl's significant words, and the echoing cheers which followed them, with a flushed brow and kindling eye, but he offered no comment at the time. This incident was but a distincter revelation than had before been publicly given of a feud of some standing between the two noble lords. Lord Durham was by this time well known to entertain more decided opinions than the Chancellor; and by his early retirement from the Grey cabinet, after the passing of the Reform Act, he had avoided being compromised by their unpopular and halting measures. The quarrel was fanned and envenomed by the partisans on either side, and Lord Brougham threw out a defiance at Salisbury, which the Earl of Durham promptly replied to at the Glasgow banquet given in his honour. He has been pleased,' said Lord Durham,
to challenge me to meet him in the House of Lords. know well the meaning of the taunt. He is aware of his great superiority over me in one respect : he is a practised orator and powerful debater. I am not. I speak but seldom in parliament, and always with reluctance in an assembly where I meet with no sympathy from an unwilling majority. He knows full well the advantage he has over me; and he knows, too, that in any attack which he may make on me in the House of Lords he will be warmly and cordially supported by them. With all these advantages I fear him not, and I will meet him there if it be unfortunately necessary to repeat what he has been pleased to term “ my
criticisms." The wager of battle was thus by mutual consent to come off in the House of Peers on the meeting of parliament. Long before that time arrived the following paragraph in the Times' of November 15, 1834, announced the sudden dissolution of the Melbourne cabinet :- The king has taken the oppor
tunity of Lord Spencer's death to turn out the ministry, and there is every reason to believe that the Duke of Wellington has been sent for. The queen has done it all.'
This note, it was reported at the time, was communicated to the “Times' by Lord Brougham himself. Be this as it may, its at first suspected authenticity the lapse of a few hours placed beyond doubt. The Whigs were out, and Sir Robert Peel, then at Rome, was, by the advice of the Duke of Wellington, immediately sent for. The Lord Chancellor was permitted to retain office for a short time, in order that he might decide some partly - heard Chancery cases; but at length a summonis being received from the king to attend at the palace to deliver up the Great Seal, Lord Brougham bade a final adieu to official power. On the reinstalment of the Melbourne ministry in 1835, the Whigs, who, said the Times, 'had sworn at Lord Brougham, abjured him, heaped the opprobrium of all their manifold miscarriages on his head, scouted in all companies the notion of again co-operating with, much less applying to him again,' placed the Great Seal in commission; and in order to the prevention of unseemly quarrels or awkward disclosures in the House of Peers, the Earl of Durham was prevailed upon to accept the embassy to St Petersburg.
The official life of Lord Brougham having thus terminated, many persons hoped that, removed from the Delilah-lap of power, his old strength and usefulness might return. His eminent talents were as vigorous, his industry as untiring as ever. Could he but resign himself frankly to his position--prefer rendering sober services to the exhibition of brilliant personal displays—a great career was still unquestionably before him, in addition to abundant opportunities for the cultivation of literature; so much more noble, as he told the students of Glasgow University, than the avocations of worldly, ambitious men. Before turning over the page on which time has written his reply to the aspirations of Lord Brougham's political wellwishers, let us briefly glance at the noble and learned lord's performances in the world of letters, to which leisure and inclination now invited him.
There is an anecdote told, we think by Sir Walter Scott, of a French gentleman, who, finding himself possessed of a faculty for rhyming-or
, as Wordsworth more elegantly expresses it, “the accomplishment of verse'and having a good deal of spare time on his hands, resolved on turning the book of Job into 'poetry. In a much less absurd certainly, but similar spirit, Lord Brougham, relieved of the cares of office, and conscious of considerable controversial power, set himself to amend, or rather supersede, Paley's immortal and unrivalled work on ‘Natural Theology,' by a discourse thereon, and the contribution of various addenda, chiefly relative to mental phenomena, which rather confuse and darken than confirm or illuminate the conclusions of that great and popular deductive writer. Paley's work, which Lord Brougham insinuates to be a mere plagiarism from Derham, has encountered more formidable rivals than the confident dissertations of the noble lord without its pre-eminence having been in the slightest degree affected. We may instance the Bridgewater treatises, which certainly display immense research, and the results of skilled and accurate observation ; but they strike the mind merely as subsidiary confirmations of the great truth demonstrated beyond cavil by Paley's homely,