1906 McClure, Phillips &
He was only one among a dozen, who within
the space of a few yards had been brought to a stand by the sound; who knew
what the salute meant, and in their various ways were moved by it. The rumour which had flown through the town
in the morning that the King was about to dissolve his six-months-old
Parliament was true, then! So true that
already in the clubs, from Boodle’s to Brooks’s, men were sending off dispatches,
while the long arms of the semaphore were carrying the news to the
Continent. Persons began to run by
Nine out of ten, as they ran or walked—nay, it might be said more truly, ninety-nine out of a hundred—evinced a joy quite out of the common, and such as no political event of these days produces. One cried, “Hip! Hip! Hip!”; one flung up his cap; one swore gaily. Strangers told one another that it was a good thing, bravely done! And while the whole of that part of the town seemed to be moving towards the Houses, the guns boomed on, proclaiming to all the world that the unexpected had happened; that the Parliament which had passed the People’s Bill by one—a miserable one in the larges House which had ever voted—and having done that, had shelved it by some shift, some subterfuge, was meeting the fate which it deserved.
No man, be it noted, called the measure the Reform Bill, or anything but the Bill, or, affectionately, the People’s Bill. But they called it that repeatedly, and in their enthusiasm, exulted in the fall of its enemies as in a personal gain. And though here and there amid the general turmoil a man of mature age stood aside and scowled on the crowd as it swept vociferating by him, such men were but as straws in a backwater of the stream—powerless to arrest the current, and liable at any moment to be swept within its influence.
That generation had seen many a coach
start laurel-clad from
Hurrah for Mr. Brougham!
Hurrah for Gaffer Grey!
Hurrah for Lord John!
Hurrah, in a word, for the Ministry, hurrah for the Whigs! And above all, three cheers for the King, who had stood by Lord Grey and dissolved this niggling, hypocritical Parliament of landowners.
Meanwhile the young man who had been described resumed his course; but slowly, and without betraying by any marked sign that he shared the general feeling. Still he walked with his head a little higher than before; he seemed to sniff the battle; and there was a light in his eyes as if he saw a wider arena before him. “It is true, then,” he muttered. “And for to-day I shall have my errand for my pains. He will have other fish to fry, and will not see me. But what of that! Another day will do as well.”