Ransome co-operated with him and collected further evidence, and then Holdfast communicated privately with a portion of the London press, and begged them to assist him to obtain a Royal commission of inquiry, in which case he pledged himself to prove that a whole string of murders and outrages had been ordered and paid for by the very Unions which had publicly repudiated them in eloquent terms, and been believed.
The London press took this up; two or three members of the House of Commons, wild, eccentric men, who would not betray their country to secure their re-election to some dirty borough, sided with outraged law; and by these united efforts a Commission was obtained. The Commission sat, and, being conducted with rare skill and determination, squeezed out of an incredible mass of perjury some terrible truths, whose discovery drew eloquent leaders from the journals; these filled simple men, who love their country, with a hope that the Government of this nation would shake off its lethargy, and take stringent measures to defend the liberty of the subject against so cruel and cowardly a conspiracy, and to deprive the workmen, in their differences with the masters, of an unfair and sanguinary weapon, which the masters could use, but never have as YET; and, by using which, the workmen do themselves no lasting good, and, indeed, have driven whole trades and much capital out of the oppressed districts, to their own great loss.
That hope, though not extinct, is fainter now than it was. Matters seem going all the other way. An honest, independent man, who did honor to the senate, has lost his seat solely for not conniving at these Trades outrages, which the hypocrites, who have voted him out, pretend to denounce. Foul play is still rampant and triumphant. Its victims were sympathized with for one short day, when they bared their wounds to the Royal Commissioners; but that sympathy has deserted them; they are now hidden in holes and corners from their oppressors, and have to go by false names, and are kept out of work; for odisse quem loeseris is the fundamental maxim of their oppressors. Not so the assassins: they flourish. I have seen with these eyes one savage murderer employed at high wages, while a man he all but destroyed is refused work on all hands, and was separated by dire poverty from another scarred victim, his wife, till I brought them together. Again, I have seen a wholesale murderer employed on the very machine he had been concerned in blowing up, employed on it at the wages of three innoxious curates. And I find this is the rule, not the exception. "No punishment but for already punished innocence; no safety but for triumphant crime."
The Executive is fast asleep in the matter--or it would long ago have planted the Manchester district with a hundred thousand special constables--and the globule of LEGISLATION now prescribed to Parliament, though excellent in certain respects, is null in others, would, if passed into law, rather encourage the intimidation of one man by twenty, and make him starve his family to save his skin-- cruel alternative--and would not seriously check the darker and more bloody outrages, nor prevent their spreading from their present populous centers all over the land. Seeing these things, I have drawn my pen against cowardly assassination and sordid tyranny; I have taken a few undeniable truths, out of many, and have labored to make my readers realize those appalling facts of the day which most men know, but not one in a thousand comprehends, and not one in a hundred thousand REALIZES, until Fiction--which, whatever you may have been told to the contrary, is the highest, widest, noblest, and greatest of all the arts--comes to his aid, studies, penetrates, digests the hard facts of chronicles and blue-books, and makes their dry bones live.
VI. LAST YEARS OF THE PRINCE CONSORT
VIII. MR. GLADSTONE AND LORD BEACONSFIELD
On November 6, 1817, died the Princess Charlotte, only child of the Prince Regent, and heir to the crown of England. Her short life had hardly been a happy one. By nature impulsive, capricious, and vehement, she had always longed for liberty; and she had never possessed it. She had been brought up among violent family quarrels, had been early separated from her disreputable and eccentric mother, and handed over to the care of her disreputable and selfish father. When she was seventeen, he decided to marry her off to the Prince of Orange; she, at first, acquiesced; but, suddenly falling in love with Prince Augustus of Prussia, she determined to break off the engagement. This was not her first love affair, for she had previously carried on a clandestine correspondence with a Captain Hess. Prince Augustus was already married, morganatically, but she did not know it, and he did not tell her. While she was spinning out the negotiations with the Prince of Orange, the allied sovereign--it was June, 1814--arrived in London to celebrate their victory. Among them, in the suite of the Emperor of Russia, was the young and handsome Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. He made several attempts to attract the notice of the Princess, but she, with her heart elsewhere, paid very little attention. Next month the Prince Regent, discovering that his daughter was having secret meetings with Prince Augustus, suddenly appeared upon the scene and, after dismissing her household, sentenced her to a strict seclusion in Windsor Park. "God Almighty grant me patience!" she exclaimed, falling on her knees in an agony of agitation: then she jumped up, ran down the backstairs and out into the street, hailed a passing cab, and drove to her mother's house in Bayswater. She was discovered, pursued, and at length, yielding to the persuasions of her uncles, the Dukes of York and Sussex, of Brougham, and of the Bishop of Salisbury, she returned to Carlton House at two o'clock in the morning. She was immured at Windsor, but no more was heard of the Prince of Orange. Prince Augustus, too, disappeared. The way was at last open to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.
This Prince was clever enough to get round the Regent, to impress the Ministers, and to make friends with another of the Princess's uncles, the Duke of Kent. Through the Duke he was able to communicate privately with the Princess, who now declared that he was necessary to her happiness. When, after Waterloo, he was in Paris, the Duke's aide-de-camp carried letters backwards and forwards across the Channel. In January 1816 he was invited to England, and in May the marriage took place.
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