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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:28:59
Typefacelarge in Small
He was not, however, without hope from the course which he had decided to pursue. ‘Looking, as I have done, at the deplorable state of the West Indies, the East Indies, and the Mauritius, and holding, as I do, in my hand a list of forty-eight great houses in England—twenty-six of the first commercial houses in London, sixteen in Liverpool, and six elsewhere—which have failed, and whose liabilities amount in the whole to ?£6,300,000 and upwards, none of which I believe would have fallen had it not been for the ruin brought upon them by the change in the sugar duties and the consequent reduction in the price of their produce,—I do hope, through the intervention of a committee of this House, I may be able to prevail upon the House to change its policy with regard to this great question.’

We have shown that the theological prejudice against the Jews has no foundation, historical or doctrinal; we have shown that the social prejudice, originating in the theological but sustained by superficial observations, irrespective of religious prejudice, is still more unjust, and that no existing race is so much entitled to the esteem and gratitude of society as the Hebrew. It remains for us to notice the injurious consequences to European society of the course pursued by the communities to this race; and this view of the subject leads us to considerations which it would become existing statesmen to ponder.

Three or four days after this, the writer, about to leave London, called at Harcourt House, to say farewell to his comrade in arms. He passed with Lord George the whole morning, rather indulging in the contemplation of the future than in retrospect. Lord George was serene, cheerful, and happy. He was content with himself, which was rarely the case, and remembered nothing of his career but its distinction, and the ennobling sense of having done his duty.

Adverting to the new position, that the experience of the last three years justified the reversal of the system which the existing administration had been summoned to office to uphold, he wisely remarked, that ‘the country will not be satisfied with three years’ experience of any system. Three years’ experience is not sufficiently extensive to afford a proper criterion by which we may decide the failure or success of any description of policy whatsoever.’

In a previous chapter we have treated at some length of the means proposed or adopted by the Parliament for the sustenance and relief of the people of Ireland. The new poor law for that country also much engaged the attention of both Houses this session. Lord George Bentinck took a very active part in these transactions, and moved the most important of all the amendments to the government measure, namely, an attempt to assimilate the poor law of Ireland as much as possible to that of England, and make the entire rates be paid by the occupying tenant. His object, he said, was to ‘prevent lavish expenditure and encourage profitable employment to the people.’ This amendment was only lost by a majority of four.

The House listened with great attention for full two hours, during which he treated these subjects. This attention no doubt was generally accorded because it was felt due to the occasion, and, under the circumstances, to the speaker; but those who, however contrary might be the results at which they had arrived, had themselves deeply entered into these investigations, recognized very soon that Bentinck was master of his subject. Sir Robert Peel looked round very often with that expression of appreciation which it was impossible for his nature to refuse to parliamentary success, even when the ability displayed was hostile to his projects. The minister, with reference to the wool trade, had dwelt on the year 1842, when prices were much depressed, while they had greatly rallied in 1844, when the importation of foreign wool had risen from forty-five to sixty-five millions of pounds; and he had drawn a triumphant inference that the increase of importation and the increase of price were in consequence of the reduction of the duty. This instance had produced a great effect; but Lord George showed the House, by a reference to the tables of 1836, that the importation of foreign wool had then risen to sixty-five millions of pounds, and that large foreign importation was consistent with high prices to the domestic grower. Nor was he less successful about the foreign cattle. He reminded his friends on the Treasury bench how strenuously, previously to the introduction of the tariff of 1842, they had urged upon their agricultural friends that no foreign cattle could enter under their regulations, and that the whole object of the change was to strengthen the hands of the agricultural interest, as regarded more essential protection, by removing the odium of a nominal protection: ‘Convinced by my right honourable friends, in 1842, that their tariff would be as inoperative as it has proved, I gave my cordial support to the measure.’

Yet if these acts of violence were attributable to defective political institutions, why, as was usually the case, were they partial in their occurrence? Why were they limited to particular districts? If political grievances were the cause, the injustice would be as sharp in tranquil Wexford as in turbulent Tipperary. Yet out of the thirty-two counties of Ireland, the outrages prevailed usually in less than a third. These outrages were never insurrectionary: they were not directed against existing authorities; they were stimulated by no public cause or clamour; it was the private individual who was attacked, and for a private reason. This was their characteristic.

Ere the last minute gun sounded, all was over. Followed to his tomb by those brothers who, if not consoled, might at this moment be sustained by the remembrance that to him they had ever been brothers not only in name but in spirit, the vault at length closed on the mortal remains of George Bentinck.


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