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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

And on the savings banks at Birmingham and Manchester


Reform Bill up again]

Late in the year, after another rejection of the Reform Bill by the Lords, the bill was triumphantly reintroduced in the Commons. The question now was no longer, "What will the Lords do?" but, "What will be done with the Lords?" Rather than risk the threatening downfall of the House of Peers, the Ministers reluctantly determined to pack the Upper House by the creation of a sufficient number of new peers pledged to vote for the Reform Bill. A verse attributed to Macaulay ran:

What though now opposed I be, Twenty peers shall carry me, If twenty won't, thirty will, For I'm his Majesty's bouncing Bill.

"Thus," as Molesworth, the historian of the Reform Bill, has put it, "amid the anxieties of the reformers on one hand, and the dread of revolution on the other, amid incendiary fires and Asiatic cholera spreading throughout the country, amid distress of trade and dread of coming bankruptcy, the year 1831 went gloomily out."


[Sidenote: English sedition trials]

[Sidenote: Fall of Grey's Cabinet]

[Sidenote: Wellington impotent]

[Sidenote: The King humiliated]

[Sidenote: Passage of Reform Bill]

justify;">[Sidenote: Changes effected]

The new year opened in England with a series of trials arising out of the disturbances which followed the rejection of the Reform Bill in the House of Lords. A great number of rioters were convicted. Altogether, seven men were put to death at Bristol and Nottingham. The officers who commanded the troops during the riots were court-martialed. When Parliament reassembled, the Commons once more passed the Reform Bill and carried it up to the Lords. In the course of the renewed debate on the Reform Bill in the House of Peers the Duke of Wellington announced that he had reason to believe that the King did not approve of the bill. The statement was confirmed by the King's refusal to create new peers wherewith to pass the bill through the Upper House. Thereupon Lord Grey and his colleagues resigned from the Ministry. The King accepted their resignation. Monster petitions were immediately sent in to the Commons from Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and other great centres of population, urging the Commons to refuse the supplies until reform should have been secured. Once more stocks fell sharply. For the express purpose of embarrassing the King's chosen successors for the Cabinet, runs were made on the Bank of England, and on the savings banks at Birmingham and Manchester. The streets of London were covered with placards: "Go for gold and stop the Duke!" In the face of this agitation the Duke of Wellington declined the King's offer to form a Ministry. Sir Robert Peel likewise declined. As a last resort Wellington consented to form a Ministry, but could not get together a Cabinet strong enough to stem the storm. The Iron Duke's popularity as well

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