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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Lord Russell was summoned to form a new Cabinet


British

enterprise found a vent in other ways beyond colonial conquests. In the spring of this year Sir John Franklin sailed out once more with the "Erebus" and "Terror," in quest of the Northwest Passage. The last message from him was received in July. News also reached England that he had entered Lancaster Sound, but it was long after that before anything was heard concerning him. Since then more than thirty Arctic expeditions have searched in vain for the body of Franklin. About the same time that Franklin sailed on this expedition, a great fire in Quebec destroyed 1,650 houses, rendering 12,000 people homeless. Just one month later, on June 29, a second fire destroyed 1,365 houses. Two-thirds of the city was laid in ashes. Another serious calamity was the Irish famine of this year, caused by the failure of the potato crop. The distress thus occasioned increased the agitation against the corn laws. As during the preceding year, great mass meetings were held in Birmingham and Manchester. Sir Robert Peel, early in the year, had showed his new leanings toward free trade, by the introduction of a bill for the abolition of import duties on no less than four hundred and thirty articles. The government's discrimination in favor of the duties on sugar provoked a long debate in Parliament. Gladstone continued to support his old colleagues in the government, while Cobden and Bright led the opposition on the floor of the House. By the time Parliament was prorogued in August, the Ministry had
won a complete victory. The spread of the famine during the summer, when almost all harvests failed, reacted powerfully upon the government. A strong public letter from the pen of Lord Russell brought the precarious position of the government home to the Cabinet. Sir Robert Peel admitted the necessity of an absolute repeal of the corn laws. Rather than confess such a complete change of position, Peel's Cabinet resigned. Lord Russell was summoned to form a new Cabinet.

[Sidenote: Death of Hood]

[Sidenote: Thomas Hood's Works]

During this interim the practice of duelling in England, but recently countenanced in the army by the Duke of Wellington, fell under lasting disfavor by the fatal outcome of an army duel, in which Lieutenant Hawkes killed Lieutenant Seaton. About the same time occurred the death of Thomas Hood, the poet and humorist. Born in 1798, as a son of a bookseller, he soon became a writer. As one of the editors of the "London Magazine," he moved among all the principal wits of the day. His first book, "Odes and Addresses to Great People," was written in conjunction with J.H. Reynolds, his brother-in-law. This was followed by "Whims and Oddities," in prose and verse; "National Tales," and "The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies," a book full of imaginative verse. Hood's rich sense of humor found scope in his "Comic Annual," appearing through ten successive years, and his collection of "Whimsicalities." Among his minor poems, "The Bridge of Sighs" and "The Song of the Shirt" deserve special mention.

[Illustration: LORD TENNYSON Painted by Frederic Sandys]

[Sidenote: Death of Sydney Smith]

[Sidenote: Pungent satire]


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