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But, though the opinion that the dispersion of the Jewish race must be deemed a penalty incurred for their connection with the crucifixion has neither historical nor doctrinal sanction, it is possible that its degrading influence upon its victims may have been as efficacious as if their present condition were indeed a judicial infliction. Persecution, in a word, although unjust, may have reduced the modern Jews to a state almost justifying malignant vengeance. They may have become so odious and so hostile to mankind, as to merit for their present conduct, no matter how occasioned, the obloquy and ill-treatment of the communities in which they dwell and with which they are scarcely permitted to mingle.

Lord John Russell following, admitted, that ‘in voting for the motion of Sir William Somerville it was not to be supposed, that if the Secretary of State made out a case, he would not support the government bill;’ yet how the secretary was ever to find an opportunity of making out his case, if the amendment of Sir William Somerville was carried, was not very apparent. Sir Robert Peel, who was disquieted by the whole proceedings connected with the Coercion Bill, irritated by the episode of ‘the disavowed plenipotentiary,’ from which he did not for some time recover, and really alarmed at the indefinite prospect of delay in passing his all-important measures which now began to open, could not conceal his vexation in the remarks which he offered, and speaking of the amendment as one ‘of a frivolous character,’ indignant cries of ‘No, no,’ from his usual admirers, obliged him to withdraw the expression. His feelings were not soothed when, later in the evening, even Mr. Cobden rose to deplore the conduct of that minister whom he otherwise so much admired. ‘He certainly regarded it as a great calamity. Something had actuated the government which he could not understand. He had a perfect belief in the sincerity of the prime minister, but in all human probability the Corn Bill would not now enter the House of Lords before the beginning or middle of May; and when it would come out again, heaven only knew!’

LORD GEORGE BENTINCK had large but defined views as to the policy which should be pursued with respect to Ireland. He was a firm supporter of the constitutional preponderance allotted to the land in our scheme of government, not from any jealousy or depreciation of the other great sources of public wealth, for his sympathy with the trading classes was genuine, but because he believed that constitutional preponderance, while not inconsistent with great commercial prosperity, to be the best security for public liberty and the surest foundation of enduring power. But as reality was the characteristic of his vigorous and sagacious nature, he felt that a merely formal preponderance, one not sustained and authorized by an equivalent material superiority, was a position not calculated to endure in the present age, and one especially difficult to maintain with our rapidly increasing population. For this reason he was always very anxious to identify the policy of Great Britain with that of Ireland, the latter being a country essentially agricultural; and he always shrank from any proposition which admitted a difference in the interests of the two kingdoms.

CHAPTER VII. Railroads for Ireland

We must not omit to record, that in the autumn of this year, at Goodwood races, the sporting world was astounded by hearing that Lord George Bentinck had parted with his racing stud at an almost nominal price. Lord George was present, as was his custom, at this meeting, held in the demesne of one who was among his dearest friends. Lord George was not only present but apparently absorbed in the sport, and his horses were very successful. The world has hardly done justice to the great sacrifice which he made on this occasion to a high sense of duty. He not only parted with the finest racing stud in England, but he parted with it at a moment when its prospects were never so brilliant; and he knew this well. We may have hereafter to notice on this head an interesting passage in his life.

CHAPTER III. The Irish Question

In the latter months of the year 1845, there broke out in some of the counties of Ireland one of those series of outrages which have hitherto periodically occurred in districts of that country. Assassination and crimes of violence were rife: men on the queen’s highway were shot from behind hedges, or suddenly torn from their horses and beaten to death with clubs; houses were visited in the night by bodies of men, masked and armed—their owners dragged from their beds, and, in the presence of their wives and children, maimed and mutilated; the administration of unlawful oaths, with circumstances of terror, indicated the existence of secret confederations, whose fell intents, profusely and ostentatiously announced by threatening letters, were frequently and savagely perpetrated.

CHAPTER IX. The Great Panic


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