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presence of a very small number of members of either House the Lord Chancellor read from the throne the following royal message : · My Lords and Gentlemen :

“I am happy to be enabled to release you from your labours, and to offer you my acknowledgments for the diligence with which you have applied yourselves to your parliamentary duties.

“My relations with foreign powers remain friendly and satisfactory. I have no reason to apprehend that Europe will be exposed to the calamity of war; and my policy will continue to be directed to secure the blessings of peace.

“I announced to you at the beginning of the Session that I had directed an expedition to be sent to Abyssinia to liberate my Envoy, and others of my subjects, detained by the ruler of that country in an unjust captivity.

“I feel sure that you will share in my satisfaction at the complete success which has attended that expedition. After a march of 400 miles, through a difficult and unexplored country, my troops took the strong place of Magdala, freed the captives, and vindicated the honour of my Crown, and, by their immediate return, without one act of oppression or needless violence, proved that the expedition had been undertaken only in obedience to the claims of humanity, and in fulfilment of the highest duties of my sovereignty.

“The cessation of the long-continued efforts to promote rebellion in Ireland has for some time rendered unnecessary the exercise by the Executive of exceptional powers. I rejoice to learn that no person is now detained under the provisions of the Act for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus, and that no prisoner awaits trial in Ireland for an offence connected with the Fenian conspiracy. “Gentlemen of the House of Commons :

“I have to thank you for the liberal supplies which you have voted for the public service. “My Lords and Gentlemen :

“I have had much satisfaction in giving my assent to a series of measures completing the great work of the amendment of the representation of the people in Parliament, which has engaged your attention for two Sessions.

“I have seen with satisfaction that the time necessarily occupied by this comprehensive subject has not prevented your dealing with other questions of great public interest, and I have gladly given my sanction to Bills for the better government of public schools, the regulation of railways, the amendment of the law relating to British sea fisheries, and for the acquisition and main

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tenance of electric telegraphs by the Postmaster-General, and to several important measures having for their object the improvement of the law, and of the civil and criminal procedures in Scotland.

"By the appointment of a Comptroller-in-Chief in the War Office a considerable reform in army administration has been commenced, which, by combining at home and abroad the various departments of military supply under one authority, will conduce to greater economy and efficiency both in peace and war.

" It is my intention to dissolve the present Parliament at the earliest day that will enable my people to reap the benefit of the extended system of representation which the wisdom of Parliament has provided for them. I look with entire confidence to their proving themselves worthy of the high privilege with which they have thus been invested ; and I trust that, under the blessing of Divine Providence, the expression of their opinion on those great questions of public policy which have occupied the attention of Parliament and remain undecided may tend to maintain unimpaired that civil and religious freedom which has been secured to all my subjects by the institutions and settlement of my realm.”

Parliament was then prorogued until October 8, it being understood that its dissolution would take place soon after that date.

Considering that the Session was rather prematurely closed, and that a large portion of it was consumed in a lengthened contention between the two great parties on an absorbing question of imperial policy, it would appear rather a matter of surprise that so much was done in the way of legislation, than that a larger amount was not accomplished.

CHAPTER VIII.

TAE GENERAL ELECTION.- Parliament is dissolved by Proclamation on November 11, appointments ---Accession of Mr. Bright to office, and his appointment as a Privy Councillor-Meeting of the new Parliament on December 10-It is opened by commission-Mr. J. E. Denison, the late Speaker, is re-elected -Swearing-in of Members and issue of new writs—The Ministers vacating their seats are re-elected without opposition --The Premier is returned again for Greenwich-His speech on re-election-Mr. Bright states to the electors of Birmingham his reasons for accepting office – The House of Commons meets again on December 29, when the Ministers re-elected take their seats and further new writs are issued — Parliament adjourned to February 16-RETROSPECT OF THE EVENTS OF THE YEARDomestic

and a new one summoned to meet on December 10. Writs issued and elections rapidly proceeded with-Results of the contest on the relative strength of the two parties Large gains of the Liberals in the English boroughs, and in Scotland and IrelandThe Conservatives are successful in many of the English counties—A considerable addition is made on the whole to the Liberal majority- Remarkable defeat of Mr. Gladstone in South West Lancashire, and of many of the leading Liberals in other places-Mr. Gladstone is provided with another seat at Greenwich-Operation of the * Minority Clause" in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, and other large constituencies - Results of the contests in the Metropolitan and suburban constituencies, the Universities of Oxford and of London, and other important places-Aggregate numbers of votes polled on each side in the three kingdoms-Resignation of the Conservative Government at the conclusion of the Elections-Letter of Mr. Disraeli to his supporters in the two Houses in explanation of this step—The course pnrsued by the late Premier is generally approved of-Mr. Gladstone is commanded by the Queen to form an administration-Composition of the new Cabinet, and subsidiary

- The Abyssinian expedition- The general election and change of Ministry-Cessation of Fenian outbreaks-Gradual but slow recovery of trade from the crisis of 1866–Low value of money and uniformity in the rate of interestResults of commercial transactions - Imports and exports compared with those of 1867— Progress of Railways and Telegraphs-Further discoveries of the precious metals - Natural phenomena-Unusual heat and drought of the summer- Violent storms and inundations in the autumn - Remarkable prevalence of earthquakes in various parts of the world— Accidents and disasters from Railways and other causes

Losses sustained by the public from deaths of eminent persons - Conclusion.

occurrences

The great

It being understood between the Ministerial party and their opponents that the new Parliament to be elected under the Reform Act should be enabled to meet in sufficient time before Christmas to allow its decision to be taken upon the fate of Mr. Disraeli's Administration, according to the opinion which the nation might pronounce upon the question of the Irish Church, the legislative arrangements necessary for that purpose had been satisfactorily made before the prorogation. By the Registration of Voters' Act, carried in the expiring Parliament, the various steps necessary for completing the Registers for the year had been so far accelerated as to enable the dissolution to take place by the middle of November, and to leave time for the general election to be accomplished by the second week in December. The means adopted for this end produced the desired result. The interval between the prorogation of the old Parliament and the time fixed for electing the new was earnestly employed by the candidates for seats throughout the three kingdoms in prosecuting their canvass. increase in the numbers of the electors introduced by the late Reform Act made the labour of the aspirants, especially in the large constituencies, unusually onerous. Î'he toil undergone in the prosecution of this object throughout an exceptionally hot summer and autumn was very considerable; nor was the expenditure of money disproportionate to the time employed. Many indeed were deterred from engaging in contests which could not be carried on except at a heavy cost, and there were not a few constituencies to which none but men of considerable wealth could venture to present themselves. The money furnished by such candidates flowed freely for many weeks preceding the elections, and it is to be feared that the corruption, drunkenness, and demoralization which are the invariable accompaniments of a general appeal to the electoral body were not less prominent features of the present than of former contests.

On the 11th of November, the registrations having been fully completed, a royal proclamation appeared in the “Gazette,” by

which the dissolution of the existing Parliament was pronounced and a new one summoned to meet on the 10th of December. The writs were immediately issued, and before the end of the ensuing week nearly all the borough and a large number of the county elections had been completed. The results in some respect falsified the expectations of all parties. In the English boroughs, with certain exceptions, the Liberal party achieved a decided success, and largely increased their majority. In the English counties, alike in those in which manufacturing and those where agricultural interests predominated, the Conservatives obtained many signal triumphs. In Scotland, again, the candidates of the latter party suffered extraordinary reverses; in the boroughs they could do nothing, and even in those counties where they had the influence of the wealthiest landowners in their favour strangers who came forward under Liberal colours wrested the victory from resident and familiar candidates on the unpopular side. Of the whole number of representatives returned by Scotland seven only were Conservatives. In Ireland also the Liberal party gained a decided, though not so overwhelming an advantage. Some of the boroughs in the province of Ulster in which the Presbyterian influence prevails were for the first time won by Liberals.

The aggregate result of the elections produced an important accession to the strength of that party which acknowledged Mr. Gladstone as leader, and adhered to his project of disestablishing the Irish Church. According to the best computation it would appear that the Liberals gained in the whole fifteen seats, which is equivalent to thirty votes on a division. The relative strength of the two parties in the new Parliament was estimated as follows:-Liberals 387, Conservatives 272. But though the net result was thus favourable to the former party, their triumph was somewhat marred by considerable local defeats, and by the rejection of some of the most eminent members of the Liberal ranks, especially by that of Mr. Gladstone himself. Despising the easy success which he might have obtained with a smaller constituency, that gentleman had fearlessly appealed to the great electoral division of South-West Lancashire, and had in several powerful speeches addressed to large multitudes of the constituents endeavoured to gain their support to the cause on which he had staked the issue. On the other hand great and weighty influences both of property and of opinion were efficiently worked against him, the efforts of the clergy being especially active in the defence of what they considered the sacred cause of the Irish Church. The election, which was attended with much excitement and was watched with extraordinary interest throughout the kingdom, terminated as follows:

For Mr. Cross, Conservative

Mr. Turner, Conservative
Mr. Gladstone, Liberal
Mr. Grenfell, Liberal

7729 7676 7415 6939

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Mr. Gladstone issued the following address to the electors as soon as the result was known :

To the electors of South-West Lancashire.—Gentlemen, I return my most cordial thanks to the 7415 electors who supported me at the poll, and to the numerous and zealous friends who have so ably acted on my behalf. It is to me a matter of lively satisfaction, which I can never lose, that I received a large majority of votes within the district of Liverpool. I have the honour to be, &c.

W. E. GLADSTONE.” It was fortunate for Mr. Gladstone that the contingency of his defeat, not wholly unanticipated, had been provided for by the zeal of his friends in another numerous constituency. His return for the borough of Greenwich in conjunction with another Liberal member, Alderman Salomons, had been previously secured ; so that in any event the leader of the Opposition was certain of a seat.

Nor was the rejection of Mr. Gladstone the only success which the Conservatives achieved in the great county of Lancaster, hitherto supposed to be the stronghold of Liberal principles. In the northern division the Marquis of Hartington, a member of Earl Russell's Cabinet, was displaced by a large majority from the seat he had previously held, the poll being headed by a son of Lord Derby. For the north-eastern and south-eastern divisions the returns were all Conservative. Manchester, of which more will be said hereafter, returned one of the latter party, Salford, Preston, Blackburn, and Bolton, two each ; Ashton, Clitheroe, and Staleybridge, one each ; in the whole, twenty-one Conservatives against eleven Liberals for the county and boroughs.

Considerable interest was felt during this election in the operation of the new principle of voting, commonly known as the “Minority Clause," by which, under the provisions of the late Reform Act, cumulative votes were for the first time authorized in those counties which returned three members each, as well as in certain large cities and towns, viz. London, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds. In the counties the operation of the clause in question was simply to transfer one of the three seats (in most cases without a contest) to a representative of the minority of the electors, excluding one of the trio who had previously sat on the dominant side. Such was the result in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bucks, and Herts. But in the great towns the consequences of the new principle were more various. In Glasgow, so great was the preponderance of Liberal opinions, that three members of that party were placed at the head of the poll, excluding the candidates of the minority altogether. In Birmingham the result was just the same. In Manchester, out of three returned two were Liberal, but one Conservative, the latter being first upon the poll. At Liverpool, where the previous representation had been Conservative, two of that party were elected together with

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