Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

and pursue an official career. And keep himself free for the enterperhaps he was not aware of all prise he had taken in hand. It that was involved, when he took will not, however, impair Lord charge of a bill to regulate fac- Ashley's character in the opinion tory labour, called by the now of any reasonable person to show historic name of the Ten Hours that he felt, and felt deeply, the Bill, which its original projector slight put upon him in this rewas obliged to relinquish on his spect by the head of his party. rejection for the new reformed His note in his diary on Sir R. Parliament in 1833. Lord Ashley Peel's offer of a Lordship of the was a year younger than the cen- Admirality, shows us the natural tury, and

was consequently then pangs of a proud and sensitive in the full flower of youthful man- though self-contained spirit. “ Had hood, with all his life before him. I not, by God's grace and the One of the few clergymen who study of religion, subdued,” he supported the movement was sent writes. “ the passion of my youth to town to ask the young states- I should now have been heartman to take this work in hand. broken. Canning, eight years ago,

offered me as a neophyte a seat at “As to Lord Ashley" (writes this one of the Boards, the first step gentleman, the Rev. G. S. Bull), “he in a young statesman's life. If I is noble, benevolent, and resolute in am not now worthy of more, it is mind, as he is manly in person, surely better to cease to be a canI have been favoured with several didate for public honours.” Five interviews, and all of the most satisfactory kind. On one occasion his years after, it is with a still more lordship said, I have only zeal and profound sense of humiliation and good intentions to bring to the work. injury that he records the offer I can have no merit in it; that must made to him of an appointment all belong to Mr Sadler. It seems no in, of all things in the world, the one else will undertake it, so I will— Royal Household. On this occaand without cant or hypocrisy, which sion the pinch was evidently very I hate. I assure you I dare not

keen : refuse the request you have so earnestly pressed. I believe it is my duty to God and to the poor, and I trust!

“I have been fourteen years in He will support me.

Talk of trouble Parliament, twice in office ; in both What do we come to Parliament for ?" cases I have won, thank God, esteem

and honour. I have taken part in The resolution was a momentous many debates. I have proposed great one. A little further on in his with the most important undertak

questions. I have been mixed up life it led him to the conclusion ings of the day, and been prominent that he must decline all over- in all. Vast numbers are good enough tures of office, and keep himself to have confidence in my principles entirely free for his work. This and character; no one questions the decision is a little confused by great services I have rendered to the the evident facts that the offices

Conservative cause,—and all this was

to be henceforth employed in ordering offered to Lord Ashley were such dinners and carrying a white wand ! as he felt to be beneath his claims The thing was a plain, cruel, unneces-an additional reason for reject- sary insult." ing them which is very fully stated by himself, though somehow Why Peel should thus have ignored by his biographer, who slighted a man who has been proved attributes his refusal solely to to have possessed so many of the his conscientious determination to qualities of a statesman, it is im

was

possible now to say : perhaps he Placing them in the middle of the found him too independent, too room, they were made to perform the crotchety, too much bent upon Mr Haworth being placed, as it were,

operations of the "spinning-mule,'

' his own great projects. At all

at the wheel-handle, and with arm events it was much better for and knee pushing them back to their these projects that he should not destination, or to what is technically "take office," and to this deter- called the roller-beam; whilst Mr mination he finally came.

Grant performed the duties of the Space does not permit us to piecer-trotting from one side of the enter into the horrible condition room to the other, following up the of affairs which by degrees forced carriage, leaning over the imaginary Lord Ashley into the position of a advancing' faller,' and picking up the

,

supposed broken ends.' popular agitator. The indictment which the Laureate brings against Lord Palmerston himself England in his poem may be true. made to help in the experiment, The hopes of sixty years ago may and declared himself convinced by not have been realised as dreamers so lifelike an illustration of what believed; but it is not yet fifty the labour was. Thus, without edyears since the cry of the children, ucation, without rest—" where all lifted in many an eloquent voice, day long the wheels were droning, and dumbly breathed in myriads turning "—the children toiled and of little desolate hearts, in the died unheeded. Lord Tennyson, depths of coal-mines, and in the had he thought of it, might have stilling factories, where babies of made a saving record, among all five years old were kept at work the failures, of this amelioration longer than grown men will labour at least. now, with every horrible accompani- Not very long ago, we heard a ment of neglect and cruelty-ran travelling lecturer—one of those over all England, in anguish and who have been turned out of workindignation. The details are such ing men into itinerant agitatorsas seem incredible in these days. discoursing in a little English town Miserable little children kept in to the effect that all the measures darkness and nakedness in the pits favourable to working men—among for fourteen hours a-day; women others, this great bill—had been employed like beasts of burden ; passed by the operations of Libwhole generations choked by the eral politicians, and against all cotton flue, dying old and decrepit that the Tories could do. Perat twenty. Such were some of the haps he believed what he said ; conditions of labour when Lord for, as a matter of fact, the final Ashley began his work. There is victory was won under a Liberal a curious and amusing story told Government; and no doubt of the demonstration given to Lord great many even of his educated Palmerston by two delegates from hearers, in the lapse of time, or the cotton-spinners, of the labour' because most of them had been required by the “ spinning-mule," born after the struggle, believed in working which the women and him. This book will perhaps conchildren employed had, according vince its readers how far such a to careful measurements and cal- statement is from the truth. It culations, “to walk or trot twenty- mattered little, no doubt, whether five or thirty miles a-day.” This Lord Ashley had been Whig or was done by the use of "two large Tory; it was of the nature of the lounging-chairs upon castors." man that he should thus devote

a

[Jan.

himself. But, as a matter of fact, of trade, of ruin to the operatives he was a Conservative of the old themselves, I could only oppose school, little tolerant of political humanity and general principles. innovations, though penetrated to

The newspapers were, on the whole the heart by those principles of few, especially the local journals, in

friendly some very much so: a justice and mercy which made it conceivably bitter, though balanced impossible for him to see a fellow- by local papers sound and hearty in creature wronged and hold his their support. Out of Parliament peace. And he was hotly opposed there was in society every form of throughout by the most prominent good-natured and compassionate conmembers of the popular party, Mr tempt. In the provinces the anger Cobden and Mr Bright in partic- almost fearful; and men among first

and irritation of the opponents were ular assailing him with the most classes of work-people, overlookers vioient and bitter antagonism, and others, were afraid to avow their though the first of these gentle- sentiments. In very few instances did men had the heart to be moved any mill-owner appear ; in still fewer at last by the Tory lord's self- the minister of any religious denomdevotion. There is perhaps some

ination. At first not one except the excuse for them in the absolute ford; and even to the last, very few,

Rev. Mr Bull of Brierly, near Bradfaith which they had in their own

so cowed were they (or in themselves panacea of the repeal of the Corn so indifferent) by the overwhelming Laws, which was to amend every- influence of the cotton lords. thing. It was highly ungenerous, Bright was ever my most malighowever, if they had any know- nant opponent. Cobden, though bitledge of the real state of affairs terly hostile, was better than Bright. (though perhaps not unnatural), Collieries Bill, and gave positive sup

He abstained from opposition on the

) to taunt the champion of the poor port on the Calico Printworks Bill. cotton-spinners with the miserable Gladstone is on a level with the rest. cottages and wages of the Dorset- He gave us support to the Ten Hours shire labourers his father's Bill; he voted with Sir R. Peel to property, over which he was so rescind the famous division in favour far from having any control, that of it. He was the only member who the most moderate statement on

endeavoured to delay the bill which

delivered women and chiidren from the question was enough to dis- mines and pits; and never did he say turb the reconciliation which, after a word on behalf of the factory chilmany years of estrangement, had dren, until, while defending slavery in temporarily brought together the the West Indies, he taunted Buxton then Lord Shafterbury and his with indifference to the slavery in

England. Lord Brougham was among The great measure for which he my most heated opponents. He spoke had fought for years was at last strongly against the bill in 1847.

Miss Martineau also gave her voice made into law when Lord Ashley and strength in resistance of the was out of Parliament. not the gratification of giving the By degrees public men came round. last touch to his work. After the Russell, then Lord John, did me disachievement was complete, he thus service while he was Minister; he sums up briefly the list of his espoused the cause when turned into assistants and his opponents :

Opposition. Then Sir G. Grey ad

hered, and towards the end Macaulay "Fielden and Brotherton were the gave us one of his brilliant and effeconly 'practical' men, as the phrase

tive speeches." then went, who supported me; and

In the House of Lords " the to practical' prophecies of overthrow Bishops behaved gallantly, 13 of

on

son.

He had measure.

man.

them remaining to vote ;” and less goodness of all his ways and indeed the Upper House was works, something at which we can always ready to do what justice smile. it could to the oppressed work- The book is perhaps not too people. The bill was finally passed big for the quantity of matter in the summer of 1850, after the with which the biographer had to unceasing labours of seventeen deal, but three vast volumes is a years—the best years of Lord great deal to appropriate to any Ashley's life. He was in no mood The reader, however, will even then to rest from his work, find much that is both interesting but for thirty years longer con- and valuable in these pages. Mr tinued to exert himself for the Hodder has done the work neither best interests of the poor. He ill nor well. He has not produced was not a man who ever seems a memorable biography, but he (except in his private circle) to has been thoroughly conscientious have awakened any warmth of and careful, and Lord Ashley's personal feeling. His disposition own diaries supply full material was reserved, and his aspect cold. for an estimate of the character of But on several occasions the re- so great a public servant and so strained fervour and unmistakable excellent a man. earnestness of his great plea moved Slighter sketches in what may to the heart that assembly which be called either autobiography or it is so difficult to move, the House personal gossip, or a mixture of of Commons; and long before his both, have become so much career was over, the name of Lord fashion of late, that such books Shaftesbury was a power in the as those of Sir Francis Hastings country. We could easily find out Doylel and the late Hobart the shadows in this noble life, and Pacha,? scarcely seem to call for show how he mistook magnitudes serious criticism. Besides, what like other men, and was almost has the critic to do with a work more enthusiastic over the esta- (if it can be called a work) which blishment of the Bishopric at is already in its fourth edition ? Jerusalem than over the success Shade of Firmilian ! who does not of his own great work; how the recollect that the poet-victim's establishment of the Evangelical startled statement, "I have Alliance appeared to him one of third edition in the press," sealed the greatest facts of the age, and (and who can say unjustly?) the the Puseyites the worst enemies doom of that fortunate-unfortunof the country; how he admired ate! Therefore it is clear we can “Satan" Montgomery, and with do Sir Francis Hastings Doyle no a certain solemn folly not unat- harm if we say that his respecttractive, bowed to the Jews whom able maunderings are of the smallhe met about Carlsbad or some est possible interest, that most of other German watering-place, to his jokes are flat and his stories shuw his respect for their nation! pointless, and that a certain amusThus he was not wiser than the ing self-complacency, especially in rest of us erring mortals, but respect to his poetry, is the chief leaves us, along with the recollec- and indeed almost the only feature tion of his high aims and the spot- in the book. We ourselves re

a

a

[ocr errors]

1 Reminiscences and Opinions. By Sir F. H. Doyle. London: Longmans & Co. ? Sketches from my Life. By the late Admiral Hobart Pascha. London : Longmans & Co.

a

member, several years ago, travel- civil servant at the same time, ling from Oxford in the same and can thus afford to be a poet, carriage with a cheerful gentle- so to speak, for love—an amateur, man who had the kindness, be- and not a professional. Here are tween Didcot and Reading, to the views of Sir Francis in respect inform us, apropos de bottes, that to the distinguished appointment he was the Professor of Poetry! which was the crowning glory of a piece of information which at his life :first moved us to more amusement

“In 1861, as I have said, I was than reverence, and set us to work elected Poetry Professor at Oxford. puzzling our brains in our igno- The holder of this professorship, I rance to remember who on earth think, ought to fill a more important the Professor of Poetry might be! place than he does in university life. And why was he made the Profes- He should have a much larger salary, sor of Poetry, one wonders? Sir do a great deal more work, and exerFrancis Hastings Doyle thinks the of criticism and thought.

cise jurisdiction over wider portions

In point conundrum a very easy one. He of fact, as I have always thought, he knows more about his own poetry should reside in Oxford, devote his than anybody else does, and nat- whole time to his business, and be urally has a better opinion of it professor not of poetry alone but of than most other people. It is in- literature in general. I do not think deed a fact that is seldom out of his I did my work ill, so far as there was mind. He likes to tell it, in case

any work to be done; but I always they might not know, to the public ten years I had not prepared for my

regretted that during Mr Arnold's in general, as well as to chance duties by a formal and methodical travellers whom he meets in rail- course of studies in the proper direcway carriages. The recollection tion. The fact is, that the Bishop of of this fact gives him a sincere Rochester (I had once dreamed of pleasure, a sort of mental elation succeeding to him) retired from his which tends at once to the aimable thereby taking me by surprise. Be

office at the end of the first five years, and the communicative. “ Had fore I had time to consider the matter he lived and given the strength of under this new aspect, Mr Arnold his mind to poetry, I feel quiet was in the field, and I let him walk sure that he would have beaten over ; but in middle life years glide ME easily in the long-run," he away, at a great pace, and I found says, with good-humoured mag

Arnold's reign ended before I knew nanimity, speaking of Arthur Hal- where I was; then after some hesitalam, that name made sacred by wish to wake up again, and offered

tion I allowed the old half-forgotten death and song, which to so many myself as a candidate. The lectures of his contemporaries is as the I published afterwards were, I fatter name of a saint or demigod, “but myself, good of their kind. They had his compositions,” adds Sir Francis, always been well received in the lec“though full of promise to a disture-room, and were afterwards welcerning eye, were at the moment comed in print by a large majority of somewhat crude and immature, so

my reviewers quite as kindly as they

deserved. I need not add that the that the preference given to me spiteful noticer set to work after his over him was not wholly unreason- fashion, treating me with that magable." If Lord Tennyson had been nificent contempt in which our unat Eton, no doubt the same dispar- known Aristarchuses are apt to inity would have been visible.

It is a

dulge themselves behind their visors." fine thing to be a poet, and perhaps We hope the ex-Professor of a finer thing still when one is a Poetry will not confound us in the

« PoprzedniaDalej »