‘Importance of this Election’ by A Christian Democrat (27 March, 1880)

The following is an editorial that appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ under the name ‘A Christian Democrat’. The newspaper endorsed the Gladstone’s Liberals in the 1880 general election.

Sir,—Never in the history of Scotland was there so important an election as this. The question to be decided is not whether this or that candidate is a better speaker, a more popular man, or personally to be preferred to some other candidate. Electors should dismiss such considerations from their minds. Important and far-reaching principles are before the country.

I ask electors to say whether we are to pursue a domineering, overbearing policy towards Ireland. Are we to send more gunpowder, more police, more penal laws, or are we to send to our sister isle a message of peace and “goodwill?” A great country like ours can afford to be magnanimous. We can forget the veiled rebellion, we can overlook the unreasoning and unwise cry for separation, and for Home Rule in its foolish sense. I ask Scotchmen to remember the crimes, the insults, the centuries of cruelty under which poor Ireland has suffered, and to be large-hearted enough to forgive her impatience, Even when the cruel barb is torn out of the festering wound, time, the great healer, has to do its work. It requires slow gliding years to cover with grassy green the red scars of war, and long summer days to cover with flowers the graves of ancient feuds. Ireland will yet do justice to Mr Gladstone. Her heart is generous, although it still trembles with sad and cruel memories. Scottish men, it is for you to say whether you will follow Mr Gladstone in dispensing to Ireland kindly justice, in extending to her the hand of a loving sister, asking her on equal terms to share alike our glory and our cares, or to mock her with continued insults, and, instead of kindness, sympathy, and righteousness, to confront her with reproaches and continued indignities.

Again, I ask what good cause abroad has this Government ever sympathised with? Where has she spoken out for freedom, as Lord Russell did for Italy, as Lord Granville did for Belgium? How shall our missionaries go to Zululand with the Christian watchwords of “Peace on earth and goodwill to men?” Alexander Duff and Norman M’Leod spent their lives for India. How shall their followers tell the people in Afghanistan of the mercy and justice, of the truth and love of the religion of Britain? Men of Scotland, if you go to the poll and vote for Tory candidates, however excellent in private life you may know them to be, you become not only directly responsible for the cruel and unrighteous policy of the past six years, but you bid Lord Beaconsfield God speed. You bid him persevere in fighting all the little nations who can be destroyed without immediate danger, and go on alienating the sympathy of the great Powers, who, depend upon it, will one day rejoice when disaster overtakes us.

I accept the letter of the Prime Minister. I peril the election upon the issues he himself has raised. Whoever is for Tory rule in Ireland, whoever is for Tory foreign policy, vote for the men who in years by-gone have supported the Government. But whoever approves of Mr Gladstone’s policy towards Ireland, whoever approves of his foreign policy, let them vote for Gladstonian Liberals. Sir, I am as zealous for the honour of my country as any Tory that breathes. They impose with brazen-faced audacity upon electors when they claim a monopoly of patriotism. I desire to see my country great and glorious; loved at home for order, liberty, justice; revered abroad for respect to public law, for regard to the rights of the weak; showing sympathy with freedom, fearless of the scowl of the masters of millions of bayonets. It is because these are my aspirations, my ardent desires, that I so love the greatest statesman England ever saw—a man who in his living eye, in his uplifted hand, in his tongue of fire, is the impersonation of expression of all that is true and noble in English history; the exponent of a policy wise, conservative, and worthy of the genius of Edmund Burke, of the sagacity of Sir Robert Peel; a man whose monument the children of those who now vilify and reproach him shall build in purest marble, and crown with wreaths of laurel.

A Christian Democrat.

‘The Duty of the Electors’ by A Christian Democrat (20 March, 1880)

The following is an editorial that appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ under the name ‘A Christian Democrat’. The newspaper endorsed the Gladstone’s Liberals in the 1880 general election.

Sir,—A great crisis in the history of our country calls upon all men to act.

When this Government took office electors were not asked their opinion on foreign affairs. Now, however, if I vote for a supporter of the Government I take my share of the responsibility for the cruel and unjust wars in which Britain has been engaged, and directly encourage the Government to go on in their unrighteous course. I ask electors to rise superior to personal considerations. The candidates of the Government may, in private life, be most estimable, but if they favour the foreign policy of the Government they shall have no vote of mine. Sir, I consider that the liberation of the Church from State patronage and control is a most important matter. I think temperance legislation even more pressing. I am anxious to sea the county franchise settled on a just basis. I do not think any of these questions unimportant. Sir, I ask how can Parliament ever devote itself to questions of domestic legislation or to Irish wrongs while a foreign policy of bluster and supremacy, of glory and gunpowder is pursued? The thing is impossible; and, therefore, I urge on all friends of domestic reform now to join in turning out this Government which, by its wasteful expenditure and its blustering foreign policy, renders all salutary home legislation impossible. Sir, I consider that the man who knows how to subordinate questions of importance, how not only zealously to labour but hopefully and earnestly to wait, shows a well regulated mind.

The question now above all others is the foreign policy of the Government. Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon see the danger of this career of folly. Sir, this policy of Lord Beaconsfield resembles the vain-glorious crusade of the First Napoleon. It is far more worthy of a boastful new-made Emperor than of the solid sense and calm dignity of England.

I call on the thoughtful Christian men of Scotland to ponder the state of affairs to be swayed only by the high consideration of duty, and to vote only for men who can be relied on to put an end to this wasteful foreign policy, which is destroying the industries of our country, disturbing the peace of the world, and tarnishing the honour of England as a calm, just, and wise nation. Ireland known that from Tories she can only expect repression, insults, and indignities. From Mr Gladstone she will get justice and equal rights. It is the ambition of his life to strengthen the union with Ireland by just and wise legislation. He will strive so to act that Irishmen will be as wishful for the union as Scotchmen. He believes in justice, the Tories in bayonets. Mr Bright may in a Liberal Administration be Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and were it no Her Most Gracious Majesty would be represented by a man of whom even Queen Victoria might be proud.

I call on all real Conservatives, on all men who desire to see Britain united at home, loved and respected abroad, influential for good the world over, so to vote as to enable the Queen to call her counsels statesmen who will uphold the moral greatness of England, give peace and confidence to commerce, and secure time for calm and serious consideration of the important home legislation which touches the welfare and happiness of our own people, but which during the past six years has been neglected, while Government has been chasing the ignus fatuus of foreign supremacy or wasting the resources of the country in an inglorious and happily unsuccessful attempt to bolster up the worst Government of modern times.

A Christian Democrat.

‘The Appeal to the Country’ by A Christian Democrat (13 March, 1880)

The following is an editorial that appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ under the name ‘A Christian Democrat’. The newspaper endorsed the Gladstone’s Liberals in the 1880 general election.

Sir,—I appeal to the moral sense of the electors. The question which is asked at each voter is this, Has the Government of Lord Beaconsfield acted justly or unjustly? Have they done right or wrong? I was not responsible for the cruel and bloody wars they have waged. I was not consulted. I am not to blame for their support of Turkish misrule. I never voted on the subject. Now, however, I am called upon to vote. I am asked to ratify the policy of the Government. I am asked to share in their guilt, and to bid them God speed in their course of injustices and wrong. Electors can no longer waive the question, they are forced to pronounce their verdict and to take the responsibility of their vote.

Moderate and thoughtful men like Sir Kenneth Mackenzie feel compelled to come to the front and denounce the conduct of the Government. Men who are not known as politicians at all, scholars, historians, and men of science who retire from the arena of party battles, have one by one come forward to give their emphatic condemnation of the undignified and unsuccessful policy pursued by Lord Beaconsfield. Has Turkey been reformed? Are the miserable people who groan under the rule of the Turks happier or more prosperous? Have the designs of Russia been thwarted? On the contrary, she has gained far more than she ever expected; and the War in Afghanistan in which the country is now involved has been forced on by the increasing influence of Russia, whose influence it was the avowed object of the Tory Government to destroy.

The Government has been in power six years. They have had a splendid and solid majority. What reform have they carried? They are the avowed friends of the farmers. What measure have they carried for his relief? What have they done to improve or benefit the country? Taxation in heavier, wages are lower, work is more difficult to be got, business is unsettled, and anxiety and mistrust prevent trade from recovering.

In Dundee, in Fifeshire, in Inverness-shire, in Perthshire electors have a golden opportunity of destroying this Government so unworthy of all the great traditions of our country, and which has proved itself so utterly incompetent to deal with the great questions which it has mismanaged. Sir, I ask electors to scorn all interference with their freedom. This is too important a trust to be lightly tampered with. Let men of principle firmly resist all unrighteous and unjust pressure, and give their votes with a due sense of their responsibility, and I do not fear the [illegible],—I am, &c.,

A Christian Democrat.

‘Imperialism’ by A Christian Democrat (6 March, 1880)

The following is an editorial that appeared in the ‘People’s Journal’ under the name ‘A Christian Democrat’. The newspaper endorsed the Gladstone’s Liberals in the 1880 general election.

“In their long defence of slavery in the British Colonies; in their open sympathy with the slaveholding confederacy; in their treatment of the black men in Jamacia [sic]; in their defence of the lash in the army for the back of the common soldier; in their constant insulting treatment of Irishmen, this Tory spirit has been manifested.”

Sir,—Imperialism is a hateful word to every true friend of liberty. Events have proved that the change in the style of the Sovereign was only too faithful a symbol of the change in the policy of Britain. Our Government has become Imperial in the very worst sense of that unwelcome word. The Ministers of England used to boast of her justice. Now they parade her power. Our statesmen used to speak of the duty England owed to humanity, of her homage to morality, her sympathy with freedom the world over. Now we hear only of British interests. War is declared, respective of the people. They are only consulted after a policy is adopted; and war is defended, not because the duty of making it could not be denied, but solely because some supposed interest of Britain required bloodshed.

The whole power of England is hurled against barbarous nations. Warriors are sent by express to ravage and destroy, and when they return from their inglorious work of devastation they are sent post haste to Balmoral to receive the congratulations of the Empress of India, and are awarded the honours of the State. Thus the Government ministers to the vainglory of the thoughtless who control elections thus they flatter the army and win favour from a Court which has always felt Constitutional Government, especially in foreign affairs, less to its taste than Imperial sway. More even than blundering misgovernment has this haughty, domineering, Imperial temper alienated and embittered the spirit of the Irish people, and turned millions of men into our bitter enemies. In India this same domineering spirit has now full scope.

Surely justice and wisdom alike should dictate a policy of kindliness, moderation, and goodwill. But this boastful Government, for the sake of displaying military glory and physical force, fling away moral influence, and pursue a course which ever reminds India of her subjection. Young Indian men are being educated in thousands. Their quick intellects will perceive that England desires constantly to remind them of their subjection as a conquered and inferior race. Every public document, every proclamation of the Government, every stamp of the Post Office will tell them that they are not our fellow subjects under a Constitutional Sovereign, herself subject to law, but that they are the conquered races who are dominated by an Empress. Continue reading “‘Imperialism’ by A Christian Democrat (6 March, 1880)”

Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 4: ‘Proposed Reconstruction of the Tay Bridge’ (20 March, 1880)

On the 28 December 1879, the Tay Rail Bridge designed by Thomas Bouch collapsed in a terrible storm. The disaster claimed the lives of all 75 passengers (although only 60 bodies were found). Naturally the tragedy featured heavily in ‘The People’s Journal’ and large features on the inquests were regularly found in the paper throughout 1880. Amongst the reporting there were also letters from readers published about the events. In this letter John Roy, an engineer and architect in the United States gives his view on the reasons behind the bridge’s failure, and how it should be rebuilt.

 

Sir,—Pardon me for intruding upon you in the hour of your calamity. A friend sent me copies of your valuable Journal of the 10th, 17th, and 24th of January 1880, giving an account of the loss of life and destruction of the Tay Bridge at 7.16 P.M., December 28th, 1879.

The evidence shows the gale was unprecedented in that part of the world. Capt. Scott says, “In the gusts it came as high as 11, and at the time the wind was almost due west, directly at right angles to the high girders.” Eleven inches of water is equal to a pressure upon a square foot of 57 1/4 pounds, under which the wind travels 107 miles per hour. In this country the wind often blows so as a man cannot stand before it. On Mount Washington, in the State of New Hampshire, January 1878, the velocity of the wind was over 100 miles an hour during nine different days, but the highest registered is:—

November 29th, 1875 6 P.M. velocity, 170 miles per hour
December 13th, 1875 do. do. 108 do.
January — 1876 do. do. 132 do.
February 24th, 1876 do. do. 163 do.
March 22d, 1876 do. do. 100 do.
May 1st, 1876 do. do. 108 do.

From the testimony of Captain Scott I infer that no long, high, and light iron bridge with a single track ought to be built at right angles to the prevailing winds and sea in an exposed position like that of the Tay Bridge. Had the Tay Bridge been built on a curve to the west, the girders forming a polygon, only one girder would be exposed at right angles to any wind, and the two adjoining girders would form a strut or tie to the strained girder; this would form an arch against the west wind and sea, and a suspension bridge to resist eastern storms. The strength of such a bridge would be in proportion to the length of the versed sign of the segment, the tensile and compressive force of the iron would be brought into action in a more favourable manner, and much of the cross or transverse strain avoided. A long train would add to its lateral strength as a brace and poise The train itself forming part of a curve, the leverage of its wheel base would be increased in proportion to the length of the versed sign of the segment. Continue reading “Tay Bridge Disaster Letters 4: ‘Proposed Reconstruction of the Tay Bridge’ (20 March, 1880)”