Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/369

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349
OPPOSITION

tative system. Civilisation will proceed. Wealth will increase. Industry and trade will find out new seats. … For our children we do not pretend to legislate. All that we can do for them is to leave to them a memorable example of the manner in which great reforms ought to be made."

The Bill passed the Commons, to be thrown out by the Lords, and intense excitement prevailed throughout the country. For the moment strong historical tradition triumphed over the desires of the growing middle class and the unexpressed rights and liberties of the people. But it was only for a moment. Sydney Smith summed up the position in one of his humorous speeches at Taunton. "The attempt of the Lords to stop the progress of Reform reminds me very forcibly of the great storm at Sidmouth, and the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington on that occasion," he said. "In the winter of 1 824 there set in a great flood upon that town; the tide rose to an incredible height, the waves rushed in upon the houses, and everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm. Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with