- Software name: appdown
- Software type: Microsoft Framwork
- size: 631MB
really necessary novels like Vanity Fair and Richard Feverel
me driving. Did you ever hear anything so funny?Signing the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission at Tanfield, Edinburgh, May 23rd, 1843.
and bought the two loveliest of all.The chief honour of the earliest attempt at law reform belongs to Sir William Meredith, who in 1770 moved for a committee of inquiry into the state of the criminal laws. This committee proposed in its report of the following year the repeal of a few Acts which made certain offences capital; and accordingly the Commons in 1772 agreed, that it should no longer be punishable as high treason to make an attempt on the life of a Privy Councillor, that desertion of officers or soldiers should no longer be capital, nor the belonging to people who called themselves Egyptians. Some other proposals were negatived, such as a repeal of the hard law of James I. against infanticide; but the House of Lords refused their assent even to the slight changes passed by the Commons. It was an innovation, they said, and subversion of the law. It is no reproach to Meredith, Burke, and Fox that they ceased to waste their strength against Conservatism such as this. All hope of reform was out of the question; and the most dreadful atrocities were suffered or defended. In 1777 a girl of 14 lay in Newgate under sentence to be burnt alive for false coinage, because some whitewashed farthings, that were to pass for sixpences, were found on her person; and a reprieve only came just as the cart was ready to take her to the stake. Not till 1790 was the law abolished by which women were liable to be burnt publicly for high or petit treason.
The press played a most important part in the agitation for Reform. A host of the most witty, brilliant, and powerful writers of the day wielded their pens against monopoly with tremendous effect, assailing it with argument and ridicule, like a continual storm of shot and shell. Of these, the most distinguished was the Rev. Sydney Smith, who mingled argument, sarcasm, humour, and pathos, in his ardent advocacy of the popular cause, with a power and effect that made him a host in himself. In answer to the objection that the Reform Bill was a mere theory, he furnished the most telling illustrations, from life, of the way in which the existing system kept down merit and damaged the public service. So far from Reform being a mere theoretical improvement, he said, "I put it to every man who is himself embarked in a profession, or has sons in the same situation, if the unfair influence of borough-mongers has not perpetually thwarted him in his lawful career of ambition and professional emolument? 'I have been in three general engagements at sea,' said an old sailor; 'I have twice been wounded; I commanded the boats when the French frigate Astrolabe was cut out so gallantly.' 'Then, you were made a post captain?' 'No, I was very near it, but Lieutenant Thomson cut me out as I cut out the French frigate; his father is town-clerk of the borough of which Lord F is member, and there my chance was finished.' In the same manner all over England, you will find great scholars rotting on curacies, brave captains starving in garrets, profound lawyers decayed and mouldering in the Inns of Court, because the parsons, warriors, and advocates of borough-mongers must be crammed to saturation before there is a morsel of bread for the man who does not sell his votes and put his country up for auction; and though this is of every-day occurrence, the borough system, we are told, is no practical evil...." Another witty and brilliant writer, Mr. Fonblanque, rendered important services to the cause of Reform by his writings in the Examiner, which have been collected under the name of "Seven Administrations." Though Radical in its tendencies, he wrote, "Ministers have far exceeded our expectations. The plan of Reform, though short of Radical Reform, tends to the utter destruction of borough-mongering, and will prepare the way for a complete improvement. The ground, limited as it is, which it is proposed to clear and open with popular influence, will suffice, as the spot desired by Archimedes, for the plant of the power which must ultimately govern the whole system. Without Reform, convulsion is inevitable. Upon any Reform further improvement is inevitably consequent, and the settlement of the Constitution on the democratic basis certain." At this period the Times was by far the greatest power of the newspaper press, and its advocacy of the cause of Reform was distinguished by a vigour and boldness which rendered it obnoxious to the House of Lords, and provoked an attack on the liberty of the press that caused a great deal of excitement during the discussions on the first Reform Bill. Mr. Lawson, the printer, was arrested, but released after a reprimand.In booths between these houses, the gamblers, standing round a board with numbered holes, were watching the ball as it slowly spun round, hit the edge, seemed to hesitate, and at last fell into one of the cups. Four-anna pieces, ten-rupee notesanything will serve as a stake for the Hindoo ruffian in a starched shirt-front, low waistcoat and white tie, above the dhouti that hangs over his bare legs; or for the half-tipsy soldier and sailor,[Pg 28] the cautious Parsee who rarely puts down a stake, or the ragged coolie who has come to tempt fortune with his last silver bit.
jogs along, and repeats the news to the ones who don't subscribe.