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OUR ANNUAL DISSERTATION.
THE year which closed yesterday will be a memorable one in the annals of England. Absorbing consideration beyond all other questions, the Indian revolt-virtually crushed at the hour we write-has exhibited more heroic endurance on one side, more fiend-like cruelty on the other, than the world, perhaps, has ever witnessed,—or witnessed since the days of the early Christian persecutions.
Of those who have suffered, too many, unhappily, are beyond the reach of human power to console or reward, but a remnant still remain to whom a nation's sympathy may well be offered.
When the tale comes to be fully told, we shall find that the history of the beleaguered women and children of Lucknow, with that of their gallant protectors, is without a parallel. For the fortitude they displayed amid the appalling dangers to which they were exposed, the country owes them a deep debt of gratitude, and it will be an everlasting reproach to Lord Palmerston's government if concurrently with other measures affecting India-some national tribute be not paid, at once honorary and substantial, to keep their patient courage in remembrance, and indemnify them by a large material aid for all they have undergone.
Commensurate rewards do not, however, appear to be the principle which Lord Palmerston's government is disposed to keep in view, if we may judge by the niggard, stinted recompense which has been doled out, against the grain, to the illustrious Havelock. One step of military promotion, one grade in the order to which he already belonged, a baronetcy-which any Lord Mayor may have to-morrow as the compliment attendant on a royal visit to the City--and a pension smaller than the salary of a mere treasury official, have been thought sufficient for the man whose prowess has saved an empire! And the Globe tells us that government have neither been slow to recognise the merits of the gallant soldier, nor wanting in generosity to requite them! Speaking in the name of every grateful heart in England, we will tell the Globe that the services of Havelock deserved, at the least, a peerage, with a pension fourfold the amount originally proposed; nor will the country be satisfied if that measure of gratitude be withheld to the saviour of Cawnpore and Lucknow, he who so well deserves the eulogy bestowed. by the Anglo-Saxon poet on that Danish hero who first made the name of Havelock renowned :
Havelok was a full god gome (good man),
He was full god in everi trome (every company),
We have taken General Havelock as our illustration of what the co country expects at the hands of government, because he is "the foremost man of all the time;" but wide and ample must also be the recognition of the deeds of the crowd of noble soldiers whose names will henceforth be inseparably blended with the glory of the British arms. The lo and distinguished services of Sir Colin Campbell, crowned by the relief of Lucknow, cannot be set aside, neither can Outram, John Lawrence, or Wilson, be omitted from the roll of fame inscribed at Westminster; while promotion and honours, "like stars, should shine" on all who, with Greathed, Showers, Stuart, Eyre, and Osborne, have so nobly sustained the military reputation of our land. Neither let the dead be forgotten: the energetic Nicholson, the brilliant Neill, the soldier-like Henry Lawrence, and a long file of men all true-hearted and gallant as themselves! Let parliament, while they decree distinction to the living, decree also a public cenotaph to the dead! Such a monument in Saint Paul's Cathedral would be one of the proudest trophies of which the country could boast.
Simultaneous with the relief of Lucknow has been the amelioration of that state of affairs which so lately produced the monetary crisis. Legislation has done its best, or worst, in the matter-for doctors differ with regard to the real curative process. Lombard-street, almost at its last gasp, no longer feels the pressure on its throat; and shaky credit stands steady for a while; discount has gone down and Consols have gone up again, and so we are out of that scrape.
Is there to be a new Reform Bill? The Speech from the Throne said something that sounded like it; Lord Palmerston also made a promise. But speeches from the throne are not always literal pledges, and certainly Lord Palmerston is no very ardent reformer. Quien sabe! Perhaps he may be too intent on other matters to think about the constituencies! He may be occupying the present recess in planning another monster mortar, to burst, like its predecessor, the first time it is fired; emulous of Mr. Denison, he may be founding a second "Big Ben," to crack as that did almost as soon as its voice began to be heard; or, jealous of Mr. Brunel, devising the means of moving the Leviathan; as Sir Robert Peel said the other day, at Tamworth, he may be writing telegrams on the crown of his hat between the acts of shooting and bagging partridges; he may be cramming his friends and retainers into all the good places that fall vacant, from a colonial government to the treasurership of a county court; he may be doing some, or all of these things, for Lord' Palmerston-or he is belied-aims at the reputation of the Admirable Crichton; or he may have resolved to do nothing at all until he is obliged to move-a supposition as likely as any. The future career-even at seventy-three-of a statesman in whom fifty years of political life have not exhausted the Protean faculty, is still a fair subject for speculation; but it would be labour thrown away to speculate on the acts of Lord Palmerston's colleagues. On one point, however, we may congratulate th public: no new Treaty is on the tapis for Lord Clarendon to mar.
While we are writing these lines, we perceive that an attempt is being made to cure the dry-rot which affects the upper half of the Cabinet. In the room of one of the least useful planks, a well-seasoned, though not, perhaps, a very solid timber, has been inserted. Lord Harrowby has been
re-placed the word is not amiss as applied to the office of Privy Sealby Lord Clanricarde. He, at all events, will have something to say. late years his speeches have been all against his quondam allies; but people get tired of uttering the same thing for ever: they like a change that ensures them a salary.
With respect to the promised measure of Parliamentary Reform, whether it be based on an extended franchise or on a wider territorial distinction, we trust it may include the educated portion of the community, in whose favour a memorial, signed by political men of all parties, has lately been presented to the Prime Minister. It is time that Literature should be as efficiently represented as the bacon-fed boroughs on the Wiltshire downs; but, to secure this object, Literature must do something for itself.
At present a literary man, though he belongs to a class more numerous in England than in any other country, is little more than a mere waif and stray. In nine cases out of ten he becomes literary by accident; it is the after-thought and not the first object of his life; he is a member of a body in which there is no attempt at organisation; his métier is so little recognised by the governing powers that, if you wish to know how he is rewarded, when time or sickness have done their worst with him, turn to the Civil List, and count the alms bestowed on literature. There have of late been more than one movement to bring men of letters into a common centre of action, but speciality of construction has rendered them all abortive: unity of purpose has been wanting throughout. If we would but begin at the beginning, there might be a reasonable hope of success, and to make the beginning, let us think how best we may realise the desire expressed by Mr. Thackeray, a few days since, at the annual dinner of the supporters of the Commercial Travellers' Schools. "I wish," he said, "we had an institution like this, to which we could confide our children, where they could be educated, and well educated, instead of having to send them to private schools, where, generally, they receive a very inferior education at an awful cost. Why cannot we we men of letters-get up such a scheme as this ?" Mr. Thackeray's inchoate idea may yet be the nucleus of that organisation which literature in England requires.
But whether ministers do their spiriting well or ill, a busy session opens before them! Besides the new scheme for the government of India, and the bit-by-bit Reform Bill, there is the criminal code to consolidate and amend, the law of real property to settle on a more popular basis, and then they have to carry the everlasting Old Clothes Bill-we beg pardon, we mean Lord John's annual sacrifice to his Hebrew friends in Whitechapel. Apropos of that which replaces what is obsolete, we are to witness the workings of the new Court of Probate, Raminagrobis and all the "chats fourrés" of his following-surrogates and advocates, proctors and doctors-being now morally defunct, after a mysterious existence of more than five hundred years.
To turn from political questions to a pleasanter theme.
The most prominent and interesting event-not of the session, but the season-which casts its shadow before, is the approaching marriage of the Princess Royal with the Heir to the Crown of Prussia. Not loyalty alone, but earnest love-the love of a mighty nation-prompts the universal
prayer for the happiness of "the fair-hair'd daughter of the isles:" to imitate her royal mother in every relation of life is, humanly speaking, to ensure it.
The transition from a wedding to a jour de naissance is an easy one. On this first day of January, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight, Bentley's Miscellany attains its majority, having been founded exactly twenty-one years ago. None of our readers need be reminded that the promise of its infancy has been well sustained throughout the period of its vigorous adolescence, nor is it necessary for us to do more than point to the contents of the present Number to show that the first step of its maturity has been taken in the right direction. During those twenty-one years of literary existence how many popular writers have contributed to its pages! Of them we may say as Byron said of his travelling companions:
They were a gallant company,
The latest of the " company" whom we miss is John Hughes, one of the earliest contributors to Bentley. He was the intimate friend of the lamented "Ingoldsby," to whose genius his own was closely allied. Under the name of "Mr. Buller of Brasenose" he shone conspicuously in Blackwood's Magazine, where also his "Boscobel Tracts" (of which a new and revised edition has just been published) made their debut. A poem in the Beppo measure and style, with much affinity of wit, called "Walter Childe," appeared in this Miscellany, of which he was the writer; and when Mr. Ainsworth started the magazine that bore his name, Mr. Hughes led off with a polyglot contribution of unrivalled versatility. But the most popular thing he ever wrote-it was one of those effusions which seize at once on public attention-was his "Magic Lay of the One-Horse Chay," rendered still more popular by the inimitable drollery of Jack Reeve. Mr. Hughes's writings were marked as well by profound scholarship as by a broad and genial humour, and for his personal character no more estimable man or perfect gentleman has lived within our remembrance.