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Vol. XX.-No. 320.
THE MANCHESTER SCHOOL.
The members of the Manchester School rank high among the worthies of our English annals. As long as history survives, their names will be admiringly recorded, not only on account of the priceless services they rendered the public, but also because of the singular nobility of their characters.
The victory won by the Anti-Corn-Law League is the chief monument of their greatness. Never was a more signal triumph gained by any voluntary association. In seven years the League brought its opinions home to the minds of all intelligent Englishmen, and succeeded in uprooting a system which seemed firmly grounded, and year by year was growing ever stronger and stronger like some noxious weed. The agitation originated in Man. chester, and its chief promoters therefore received the title of “The Manchester School.” They boldly threw down the gauntlet against the landlords on behalf of the labourers, and by their opposition to these monopolists they aroused discussion on the wider questions of Protection and Free Trade.
But before discussing the character of the League, we must first understand clearly what evils it had to oppose. A system of landlord protection had ex
isted in England for eight centuries. In 1774 the Corn Laws assumed the shape they retained until their abolition in 1846 ; they were several times revised, the final revision taking place in 1828. The assumption on which these measures were founded was that corn grows primarily for the grower; and that as long as he is satisfied, it does not matter whether the rest of the community is satisfied or not. Thus as com. plete a monopoly in corn as possible was secured for English farmers ; but the importation of foreign grain was permitted when food was exceedingly scarce owing to a bad harvest. This compromise between Protection and Starvation was effected by means of a 'sliding scale' of duties, according to which duties fell as prices rose, and rose as prices fell. So when wheat was at 52s. a qr., the duty on foreign grain was 34s. 8d.; when it was at 73s., the duty fell to ls. The principles adopted by the League were that the Corn Laws did not benefit the mass of the agriculturists, but only a few; that other in. dustries were depressed by them; that they kept prices excessively high, and frequently brought about ruinous fluctuations in the market value of bread-stuffs; and therefore were not beneficial to the community in general, and weighed especially hard on the working classes.
Early in 1837, England experienced a terrible commercial collapse, and deficient harvests in that and the following year aggravated the distress. Thinking men now began to consider the Corn Laws responsible for these disasters. An Anti-CornLaw Association accordingly formed at Manchester by Dr. Bowring and Mr. Archibald. Prentice; and the merchants and manufacturers of the town, among whom Richard Cobden exercised considerable influence, soon took up the matter warmly. A meeting of delegates from all parts of the country met at Manchester in 1839, and Mr. Villiers consented to bring forward a motion in the House of Commons. This gentleman continued to be the leader of the Free Trade party in Parliament till Cobden secured his seat; and even then, till the victory was won, he was called the leader, in recognition of his former services. His energy in the good cause was unflagging; and his speeches in favour of the abolition, replete with undeniable facts and unanswerable arguments, year by year converted thousands in the country, although they they did not obtain a majority within the walls of St. Stephen's. The Association was not to be daunted by these parliamentary repulses; at Cobden's suggestion they organized the National Anti-Corn-Law League,' and by the end of the year more than hundred large towns had formed similar associations.
All through that summer the country was resounding with the cry for cheap bread'; Lord John Russell, thinking a crisis was at hand, dissolved parliament. Sir Robert Peel returned to power. The cause of Reform seemed to have gained no ground. But a new spirit had entered the House of Commons. Riehard Cobden had taken his seat for Stockport. The Tory landlords now thought their great opponent would find his level.
Converting the aristocracy of England was a harder matter than swaying a tumultuous crowd of Manchester artisans. Yet it was this calico printer, who, in less than five years, brought half the Tory party over to his side, headed by the Premier, candidly declaring that “Not to the Tory party nor to the Whig party, not to myself, nor to the noble lord at the head of the Opposition, is this change to be attributed; but the people of this country are in. debted for this great measure of relief to the rare combination of elements which centre in the mind and heart of Richard Cobden."
The “pressure from without” was now becoming month by month more irresistible.
Drury Lane Theatre was lent to the League by Macready, and crowded Free Trade meetings were held there every night.
Cobden's conclusive speeches carried all before them; he even went so far as to hold open air meetings in the counties and attack the landlords on their own ground. By the end of the year 1845, it became clear that Sir Robert would have to reconcile himself to a dissolution or the repeal of the obnoxious duties. Everyone knows what happened. The Corn Laws expired in 1846, regretted by no sensible or public-spirited English
The principle of Protection received a blow from which it has never recovered and never will. No one now desires a return of the old system escept a few superannuated and not altogether disinterested Peers, and one or two staunch old Tories and reckless young Hotspurs in the House of Com.
But we must not end without giving account of some of the heroes by whom this victory
Richard Cobden was the son of a Sussex yeoman. He became connected with Manchester early in life, obtaining a position as travelling agent for a house with a considerable cotton trade. He was by nature a shrewd observer, and on his journeys became thoroughly acquainted with public opinion in many parts of the world. In 1833 he began to publish pamphlets, contending that England's true policy was to abolish the agricultural monopoly ; to
encourage manufactures; and to avoid getting mixed up in continental squabbles.
He was an ardent lover of peace, and maintained his principles all his life, refusing an offer of a place in Lord Palmerston's government because he could not reconcile himself to the Premier's aggressive policy. It has been said that if oratory were regarded as an art, Cobden would not rank high among orators; but if it were regarded as a business, no one would be placed above him. He was perhaps the most effective speaker that ever lived. His style was pre-eminently persuasive; and no one who heard him could help being convinced of his earnestness and sincerity.
Cobden's chief supporter was the sturdy Quaker, John Bright. These two great reformers were bound together by an almost romantic friendship till death parted them. Each was necessary to the
other; Cobden did not possess Bright's superb oratorical powers, nor Bright Cobden's winning persuasiveness. It is no wonder that a combination of such forces worked wonders in the country. In John Bright were united all the qualifications of a great orator; a fine face and figure, and a powerful voice, the tones of which he could suit in turn to passion, scorn, or pathos. In speaking he neglected all un. necessary ornament, and took as his models our English Bible and Milton's works.
Many are the lesser lights whose names are connected with the victory of the League. But we grow tedious: suffice it to mention two namesCol. Thompson and Dr. Bowring, who were both disciples of Bentham, and by writing and speaking contributed in a large measure to the success of 1846.
We saw, a year since, You and I,
Our childhood's memory-haunted scene,
The village green;
Still climbed along the high red wall ;
We stood beside the dark pit's brim,
The wailing hymn,
Some voice or look that we had known;
A branching blackness that we knew;
In that vast yew
When 'neath yon block of square-hown stono
And we, alone,
And blacker, we will not repine ;
What lights may shine ?
THE WATCHER ON THE WALL.
Only the other day we had
Youth, spring and morning-You and I.
The clouds were high;
When Rover romped upon the lawn,
For hours, withdrawn
How eager for the strife of men,
With sword or pen,
Of that enchanted long-ago,
The Christmas snow;
Beside some lost young playmate's grave,
No warning gave,
Whose fervour Time's bleak touch had chilled, We watched them as their life blood froze,
Behold his land, his gold, is ours;
And manhood's powers,
Stands a city far away, and stands a watcher on its wall, With a face so worn and weary, with a figure gaunt and tall. He has stood there watching patient now for many a weary
day, Waiting for the help that's coming, and which seems so far
away; Gazing with expectant longing straight before him, down the
Nile, Looking for the English ensigns, far away by many a mile, onging, hungering, thirsting, fainting for the sight of English
face, For the sound of English voices, and for English hands'
embrace. There are enemies around him, treachery on every side. But he cannot stem the current, cannot stop the flowing tide. He has kept his word so bravely, he has struggled on alone, To do the task entrusted him, when every hope seemed gone, Till the day comes when the foe have basely gained the city
walls, And by a traitor's dagger-stab the hero Gordon falls. Do ye hear the cry, ye Leaders, sitting in your chairs at
home ? Do ye hear that wail of woe that from that desert land has
come ? Have ye lost all sense of shame, and has old England's glory
That ye hear unmoved the echo “Khartoum fallen, Gordon | this is the faithfulness that Dr. Hudson claims for
dead?” Yo call yourselves our statesmen :- then up! avenge the deed.
his illustrations. Oh! for one to judge our country right, in this her hour of
There is certainly some precedent for those who need! For until in loving kindness, the right hand of Heaven sends, make want of experience an excuse for scepticism; Well may we cry, like those of old, “God save us from our
for when at last Dr. Hudson was rewarded at Friends."
EK. LL. Lucerne by the sight of an unusually large meteor,
Mrs. Hudson (who also saw the phenomenon) exTHE TRUE "PRESTIGE”
claimed “Now I believe in your pictures.” If then England ! can this be true men tell of thee ?
there are any disbelievers amongst us, our desire for Is all thus changed ? for once it was thy boast, That thou alone 'gainst many a mighty host,
them is that, little as they deserve it, they may be Upheld the sacred name of Liberty.
converted by as unmistakable a proof as Mrs. Thou on the side of those who would be free, Didst ever stand; to all didst freely give,
Hudson saw. Who longed in honourable peace to live,
The facts to which Dr. Hudson led us are as Heaven's gift to men, the boon of sympathy; And wilt thou now thine ancient paths forsake,
follows:And help the tyrant, thou didst hate of old, To rivet on the chain ? Nay, pause and turn
Once a year (Nov. 13 and 14) shooting stars are From those who seek 'neath Honour's cloth of gold
seen in greater profusion than at other times. Ambition's mask to hide ; their counsel spurn, And once again to thy true worth awake.
Moreover, at constantly recurring periods of 33
years, the display of celestial fire-works is most DR. HUDSON'S LECTURE.
marvellous and even terrifying—we may hope to see
this for ourselves in 1899—this reign of terror THOSE who have been fortunate enough to hear one stretching over four Norembers. The true explaof Dr. Hudson's lectures, so ably illustrated by nation was discovered by Professor Adams. These means of a strong light thrown from behind through November meteors move in an immense orbit, all tinted paper, are ready at any time to welcome him over which they are thinly scattered ; and this orbit cordially. And so it was that on Saturday grazes that part of our earth's path which she evening, Feb. 21st, a large and eager audience as occupies on Nov. 13 and 14. So that on these sembled in the Bradleian to enjoy a lecture on evenings we come so close to the paths of the “Meteors and Shooting-stars.” Dr. Hudson pre meteors that we entice many of them to their pared us at the outset for the discovery that the destruction. As they rush with inconceivable ordinary nightly shooting star, with its transient velocity against our atmosphere, at the height of gleam so suggestive to the poet, is in reality a seventy miles, such heat is developed by the friction mysterious visitor from incomprehensible depths of that the victim is heated to white heat, and reduced infinity. He then introduced us, by means of some to powder, generally before it has penetrated twenty very beautiful illuminated pictures, to a series of miles. And fortunate for us it is that this is the historic meteors-meteors of most amazing size and case: otherwise, fearful would be the destruction form, brilliantly glowing with all the colours of the caused by the bombardment of this starry artillery, rainbow. The lecturer repeatedly assured us that Moreover, while the meteors are thus scattered he had faithfully copied his illustrations from all over their orbit, there is a dense stream of them original drawings, and that therefore they were not of amazing size,-so long that though moving with “fiction founded upon fact,” but true representa a velocity of 25 miles per second (120 times as fast tions of the idea conveyed to the fortunate ob as a rifle-bullet !) it requires four years to give server. It must be remembered that these pheno time for the whole stream to pass; when therefore mena are not, like the sun and moon, capable of this stream comes (as it does once in thirty-three accurate measurement. Their appearance lasts for years) to that part of its orbit which the earth's a few seconds only—8 seconds is an unusual length path grazes, we have our four November displays of —so that pictures of them must be made when they indescribable grandeur. are no longer visible. But the faithfulness of a Dr. Hudson then discussed two questions :- What picture rests upon the degree in which it recalls the are these meteors made of, and whence do they come? subjective impression conveyed to the mind; and | The answer to the first is, “ They are masses of iron
fuser under an immense pressure of hydrogen gas.” Somehow, or other, we had got too far to the S.W., This has been found out from analysis of one or two and were regaining the proper course to clear the that have actually reached the earth. And it point of the Arabian main-land and Perim Lightsuggests the answer to the second-(the theory house going full speed ahead, when we ran bang on propounded by Schiaparelli at Milan in 1866)—that to this shoal; there was no shock, for the shoal was they are hurled out from the body of some fixed so soft; but the
were going ran the star with such force as to be for ever banished from Chusan hard to it, and stuck her there. their parent sun; then after wandering for untold Directly we stuck, we went “hard astern," and tried ages from star to star, they come at last within the everything for two hours to get off, but it was of no influence of some giant planet, and are chained in avail, and it was the final abandonment in despair an orbit round the sun; finally, while the French that woke me up. I found nearly all the passengers peasant crosses himself, and thinks of the departure on deck, and we sat there waiting for the dawn. of another soul as he sees Encore une étoile qui file
When it came, breaking most gloriously over the et file et disparait,” we carry our thoughts back mountains to our left, it showed us that we were through indefinite abysses of time and space, and quite close to the shore-less than a mile, and closer are lost in wonder as we strive to contemplate the still to the remains of a wreck which went ashore marvellous journey that has now at last come to an
here two years ago. end.
With daylight we renewed our struggles, and The Master then thanked the lecturer for having about 7 a.m., to our great joy, we saw
a fine entertained us with one of the most interesting of his steamer come round the point, a glorious sight, all always interesting lectures : thanks in which we square sails set, tearing through the water, with can all join, from the oldest to the youngest present; wind and tide in her favour. Up went our signals for Dr. Hudson was clear and simple throughout, at once, and it was almost human, her sudden start and we are sure that the pleasure given and interest of surprise as she saw us. The sails were clewed up aroused by his lecture will last for many a day. in a moment, steam was shut off, and we watched her
gradually come round, and head towards us. She ON BOARD S.S. “CHUSAN," JANUARY 28TH, came on very slowly, like a man venturing on rotten 1885.
ice, sounding every few yards. The following is an extract from a letter written by As she drew nearer, we recognised the P. and 0. J. A. Bourdillon, Esq., O.M., on his way to India : Flag, and found her to be the Thames, one of the
Last night was one of the most beautiful I ever re Company's magnificent new steamers, from Calcutta member. I stayed on deck to admire the sunset, it and Colombo, with the China and Australian mails. was so lovely; and after dinner the moon was so About 8 a.m., she was at anchor in deep water 100 beautiful and every one so festive at the idea of yards from us, and we set to work to get a hawser getting into Aden next day that we played the on board of her, a feat which we finally accomplished “Thimble-game” and “Clumps," amid roars of with some trouble. Meanwhile our position had laughter, and didn't turn in till eleven o'clock. been noted, and telegraphed to Aden, and London,
All went well till about half-an-hour after mid and the Lloyd's Agent and Coal Agent at Perim, night but I knew nothing of what had occurred till came off to help us in his big steam launch. three a.m., when the stopping of the engines woke High tide was at 10 o'clock, and we fondly hoped me and I jumped up and came on deck to find the that we should be tugged off before the water fell, ship hard and fast ashore on a sand bank close to consequently while we set all our sail, and backed Perim Island, and “bang' opposite the light-house! like fury, the Thames tugged manfully at us. But
I could hardly believe my eyes and ears. However at first no impression whatever was made. We had there we were. On enquiring it appeared that at a magnificent steel wire hawser, but though it held about 12:30, in brilliant moonlight, with almost a splendidly, humming like a piano string with the dead calm, and the lighthouse staring us in the strain, the effort was too much for our bollards": face—we had run ashore! If you have a good map
map | (perhaps you do not know that a • bollard” is one anywhere, you will easily understand what happened. of those great iron posts on a ship's deck, to which