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opposition in the House of Commons, but is carried by large majorities in both
Houses and becomes law. In closing our narrative of the domestic transactions of 1867 in the last volume of this work, we characterized that year as one which had left the impression of a somewhat anxious and eventful period. The occurrences which imparted this unfavourable aspect to the past, the most prominent of which were the commercial depression and the Fenian insurrection, threw a cloud also upon the opening scene of the new year. The shock given to confidence, the dulness of trade, and the stagnation of enterprise engendered by the calamitous failures of 1866, still exercised their paralyzing influence upon the money-market, and straitened the means of large classes of the community; while the disquietude caused by the unsettled state of the sister country, and the apprehension of that “organized violence and assassination"
“ which the Sovereign had lately described in her message to Parliament as having extended itself to England, perplexed the minds of politicians, and complicated the problem, so long found insoluble, of the pacification of Ireland. In other respects the aspect of public affairs was not very encouraging. The deficient harvest of the preceding year, combined with the commercial derangements, had begun to tell upon the sources of the public revenue, and inspired the apprehension of increased taxation. The results of the Abyssinian expedition were as yet doubtful, but at the outset it appeared not an improbable conjecture that the expense of such an enterprise, even if successful, would prove greater than the provision made for it.
The political state of England was tranquil, the Administration of Lord Derby, though commanding only a minority of supporters in the House of Commons, was not threatened with immediate danger, and in several of its departments was regarded as skilful and efficient, but it had still some serious difficulties to grapple with. The question of Parliamentary Reform, though settled so far as concerned the representation of England and Wales by the Act passed in 1867, still required to be dealt with in regard to the two sister kingdoms. The large and momentous subject of National Education had been marked out by public opinion, and announced by the speech from the Throne, as ripe for legislative settlement. There were also religious controversies which had of late disquieted the public mind, and caused appeals to be made to the Government for their solution. Yet above all these questions, most prominent in its magnitude, and most urgent in its pressure, towered that of the condition of Ireland. As indicating the feeling which prevailed at this period among thoughtful and sober politicians, it will be sufficient to refer to the declarations made shortly before the reassembling of Parliament by one of the most sagacious and dispassionate of the leading public men of England, Lord Stanley. At a banquet given on the 22nd of January, at Bristol, to Her Majesty's Ministers, at which several members