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

The Parliamentary opponents of the Reform Bill were


The

news was received by Reformers all over the country with the most exuberant demonstrations of enthusiasm. In London most of the houses throughout the principal streets were illuminated, and many windows which showed {153} no lights were instantly broken by the exulting crowds that swarmed everywhere. The Duke of Wellington received marked tokens of the unpopularity which his uncompromising declaration against all manner of reform had brought upon him. Some of the windows at Apsley House, his town residence--the windows that looked into the Park--were broken by an impassioned mob, and for years afterwards these windows were always kept shuttered, as a sign--so at least the popular faith assumed it to be--that the Duke could not forgive or forget this evidence of public ingratitude to the conqueror of Waterloo. The King, on the other hand, had grown suddenly into immense popularity. The favorite title given to him at the time of his accession was that of the "Sailor King." Now he was hailed everywhere in the streets as the "Patriot King." Wherever his carriage made its public appearance it was sure to be followed by an admiring and acclaiming crowd. The elections came on at once, and it has to be noted that the amount of money spent on both sides was something astonishing even for those days of reckless expenditure in political contests. Neither side could make any boast of political purity, and indeed neither side seemed to have the slightest inclination to set up such
a claim. The only rivalry was in the spending of money in unrestricted and shameless bribery and corruption. The more modern sense of revolt against the whole principle of bribery was little thought of in those days. There were men, indeed, on both sides of the political field who would never have stooped to offer a bribe if left to the impulses of their own honor and their own conscience. But the ordinary man of the world, and more especially of the political world, felt that if he himself did not give the bribe his rival would be certain to give it, and that nobody at his club or in society would think any the worse of him because it was understood that he had bought himself into the House of Commons. When the elections were over the prevalent opinion as to their result was almost everywhere that the numbers of the Reform party in the House of Commons would be much greater than it had been in the {154} House so lately dissolved. When the new Parliament was opened, Lord John Russell and Mr. Stanley appeared as members of the Cabinet. The new Parliament was opened by King William on June 21. If William really enjoyed the consciousness of popularity, as there is every reason to believe he did, he must have felt a very proud and popular sovereign that day. His carriage as he drove to the entrance of the House of Lords was surrounded and followed by an immense crowd, which cheered itself hoarse in its demonstrations of loyalty. On June 24 Lord John Russell introduced his second Reform Bill. It is not necessary to go through the details of the new measure. The second Reform Bill was in substance very much the same as its predecessor had been, but of course its principle was debated on the motion of the second reading with as much heat, although not at such great length, as in the case of the first Reform Bill a few weeks before. Nothing new came out in this second argument, and the debate on the second reading, which began on July 4, occupied only three nights, a fact which made some members of the Opposition think themselves entitled to the compliments of the country. The Parliamentary opponents of the Reform Bill were, however, soon to make it evident that they had more practical and more perplexing ways of delaying its progress through the House of Commons than by the delivery of long orations on the elementary principle of reform. The second reading of the Bill was carried by 367 votes in its favor and 231 votes against it--that is to say, by a majority of 136 for the Bill. Therefore everybody saw that, as far as the House of Commons in the new Parliament was concerned, there was a large majority in support of the measure brought forward by the Government.


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