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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Including the generous gift to the planters


slavery. He had, of course,

a general objection to reform of any kind, but his objection to any reform which threatened the endurance of the slave system must have been an article of faith with him. It was the fate of King William the Fourth to live in a reign of reforms, not one of which would appear to have touched his heart or been in accordance with his personal judgment. The highest praise that history can give him is that he did not at least, as one of his predecessors had done, set his own judgment and his own inclination determinedly and irrevocably against the advice of the statesmen whom he had called in to carry on the work of administration. The King gave his assent to the amended Bill for the abolition of slavery, including the generous gift to the planters, and the measure became law on August 27, 1833. Some of the colonies had the sense and spirit to discard the apprenticeship system altogether, and to date the emancipation of their slaves from the day when the measure became an Act of Parliament. In no colony did the setting free of the negroes bring about any of the troubles and turmoils, the {200} lawless outbreaks of blacks against whites, the massacres of the innocents, which had been so long and so often pictured as the inevitable consequences of the legislation demanded by the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, and the Broughams. It seems to us all now so much a matter of course for a civilized and enlightened State to decree the extinction of slavery within its limits,
that we find it hard to appreciate at its true value the difficulty and the splendor of the achievement which was accomplished by the Grey Ministry. It has to be said, however, that the Ministry and the Parliament were, in this instance, only the instruments by which the great charge was wrought. The movement carried on out-of-doors, the movement set going by the leading abolitionists and supported by the people, deserves the chief honor of the victory. All the countries that make up the kingdom, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, sent their authorized speakers to sustain the cause of freedom for the slaves. The gift, which on the recommendation of Lord Grey's Ministry was placed at the disposal of the West Indian planters, was indeed a lavish gift; but the public in general made little complaint on the score of its lavishness, and did not calculate too jealously the value of the sacrifice which the State was invited to make for the purchase of negro emancipation. Thirty years and more had to pass before the great American republic was able to free itself from the curse of slavery, and even then the late deliverance was only accomplished at the cost of a war which threatened for the season a permanent division of the States.

[Sidenote: 1833--Labor legislation]

The same year which saw the passing of the measure for the abolition of slavery in the colonies saw also the passing of an Act which interfered seriously, for the first time, with something which might almost be called a system of domestic slavery. We are speaking now of the measure which dealt with the conditions of factory labor in these countries. Factory labor, as it was known in the early days of William the Fourth, was the


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