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ERRATUM.

In the FOREIGN HISTORY, page 237, line 10, for 1st of October read

30th of October.

ANNUAL REGISTER,

FOR THE YEAR

1864.

PART I.

ENGLISH HISTORY.

CHAPTER I.

Introductory Remarks on the political condition of the country during the year 1864 -Absence of marked legislative or constitutional changes-General quietude and tranquillity of the people-Prosperous state of trade and of the public financesMitigation of the distress in the Cotton Manufacturing Districts-Lord Palmerston's Administration still commands the support of the public-Continued decline of party spirit-Parliament convoked on the 4th of February-The Royal Speech delivered by Commissioners-Prevalence of foreign over domestic topics in the Speech-Debates in both Houses on the Address-They turn chiefly on our external relations The Earl of Derby and Mr. Disraeli, as leaders of Opposition in the two Houses, impugn the foreign policy of the Government as one of injudicious interference with the affairs of foreign countries, exemplifying the cases of Japan, China, Mexico, and Denmark-The course adopted by the Queen's Government in regard to the pending dispute between Germany and Denmark is much remarked uponEarl Russell in the House of Lords, and Lord Palmerston in the Commons, vindicate the conduct of the Government in this respect, and enter into copious explanations of the recent events in the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein-No Amendment being moved the Address is agreed to-The condition of Ireland, and the extensive emigration taking place from that country to America, is brought under discussion -Various opinions as to the causes of Irish difficulties and their remedies-Resolutions on the subject of the emigration from Ireland proposed by Mr. Pope Hennessey are debated at some length in the House of Commons, but are not adopted. THE political history of England during the year 1864 presents few conspicuous features, and will afford but scanty materials for the annalist. This circumstance ought, however, to be regarded by those who are interested in the public welfare rather with a feeling of satisfaction than the reverse. For the events which make national history attractive and stimulating to the reader are not generally those which conduce to the stability of the State or the diffusion of happiness among the people. Periods of change and excitement, of struggle and contention, of signal

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triumphs or violent reverses, while they fill the page of the historian with interesting pictures, are seldom unattended, to some portion of the community at least, with suffering and disaster. As it is proved by experience to be a true maxim, "in corruptissimâ republicâ plurimæ leges," so it may be affirmed that it is generally the least prosperous stage of a nation's existence which is marked by the most startling events, and is most prolific of interesting history. On the other hand, external peace, domestic tranquillity, prosperous trade, abundant revenue, inactive legislation, though they may be regarded by some as forming a vapid and inglorious stage in the history of a people, do at the same time exhibit the successful attainment of those objects for which governments exist, and which are the direct aim of political institutions. Such are, in fact, the features which characterize the domestic history of the year 1864. The political interest of the period is mainly centred in the proceedings of the Legislature, and these, with the exception of the great Parliamentary struggle which determined the continuance of the Administration in power, were productive of no material legislative change, and scarcely any discussions of extraordinary interest. In the complicated concerns of a vast empire, indeed, there is a perennial need for legislative action of some kind to keep the great machine of government in working condition, but the additions to the statute book which this year supplied, although exacting no inconsiderable time and labour from Parliament, were not such as made any change in the distribution of power, or materially affected the rights and privileges of any portion of the community. It was a sign of the little interest created by domestic politics that the affairs of foreign nations were those which mainly engrossed the minds of English politicians. It is true that the struggle in which Denmark and Germany were engaged was one which affected the relations, and, in the estimation of some, involved the honour of this country. It is true, also, that the desolating civil war in America, now in the fourth year of its existence, was a contest which compromised the interests, and, on more than one occasion, seemed to menace the tranquillity, of England. England, however, though feeling a deep interest in both conflicts, succeeded through the caution and forbearance of her Government, acting in accordance with the general current of public opinion, in keeping aloof from military interference. Only in one part of her own vast outlying possessions, in consequence of an insurrection of the natives in New Zealand, were her forces called upon to act against an enemy. At home, the course of events flowed in an even and untroubled channel. Trade was good; the industry of the country, both in agriculture and manufactures, generally well employed. The cotton districts, indeed, presented some exception to the general prosperity, but even there the difficulties connected with the supply of the raw material were in process of diminution. The imports from

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