תמונות בעמוד

character, must be aware that the mass with the reform measure, both within of the people, however cold, circum- and without the House of Parliament, stantial and unexciteable in the general but chiefly the latter, at least in the tenor of their lives, are subject to new constituencies.

It may seem, sudden fevers of excitement upon pub- that this is inconsistent with what we lic matters, which almost periodically have just said of the disfavour into recur, as though they were necessary

which the reform-bill parliament apto carry off the secretions of the mind, peared to have fallen with the country, which in more free and communicative but there can be no doubt that the facts tempers are never suffered to accumu were, or appeared to be, as we have late. In this state, no nation under described them ; and we can only acthe sun is more violent, more unfeel- count for the apparent inconsistency, ing, and more unjust than the English ; upon the supposition, that however but considering their general calm good disgusted many of the people were sense, we may well compound for with the shameless servility of the these occasional out-bursts of harsh members of that parliament, they were unreasonableness. In one of these ex- more willing to give them another plosions of long digested discontent, trial under the new system, than to caused by such neglect as we have fall into the seeming contradiction of described, the ignorant, slavish, and giving those who were opposed to the shameless parliament was elected, which creation of the new franchises, the passed the reform bill. There can be first benefit of their exercise. jittle doubt, that John Bull became By the new constituencies, however, ashamed of this parliament and its gross the men elected have been, as we have servility to the minister ;-the House already said, those who had bestirred of Commons, which in one night-nuy, themselves in their respective neighwithin the same half-hour, came to bourhoods about the reform bill, and precisely opposite decisions, upon pre- who possessed local influence with a cisely the same grounds, in order to class of people who, until now, had 110 comply with the will of the govern- power of conferring any thing beyond ment, was not such as even Reformers' local respect and distinction. The rich zeal could bear with patience after banker, or the great brewer, or the exa little reflection ; and so evident was tensive attorney of the district, was a the disfavour into which that house considerable person in his own neighhad fallen with a large portion of the bourhood, and never thought of being public, that it was calculated by most more-the operation of the reform act of the Conservatives in England, and is, to send such men, with all their lofeared by many of those attached to cal prejudices, and all their ignorance the government, that a great re-action of enlarged political questions, into would take place in the new elections, parliament, to deliberate and decide and that a great accession would be upon affairs which they have little made to the Conservative strength in chance of ever understanding in their the House of Commons. In this it full bearings, and which they will not, appears that both parties reckoned er- and cannot help viewing with reference roneously ; and to the great astonish merely to their effect upon some local ment of even the most experienced, matter, that has fallen within the range the English people, who had been so of their experience. If it be said that, violently excited at the preceding elec- after all, these are no worse than the tion, neither recoiled from their head- crowd of foolish, fashionable young long folly into Conservative caution, gentlemen, the connexions of borough nor went forward into the extreme of patrons, who for the honor of the thing, radicalism, as had been expected. It and the agreeable privilege of franking seems that they were too obstinately their own letters, were brought into bent on carrying into practical effect parliament, we answer, that we fear the experiment of the reform bill, to they are, because these young gentledo the one, and had too much con men never pretended to do more than tempt for the persons who put them follow the leading of able and experiselves before the world as radical enced politicians, whereas our provinleaders, to do the other. Throughout cial heroes, full of their legislatorial the kingdom they have elected mem- consequence, and eager to exhibit their bers, chiefly because of their connexion parliamentary abilities to the world in

general, and their constituents in par- of parliament, if not of both ; for there ticular, will not be content without do- are among the members of the present ing something in their own way, and, government, men, who from furious illof course, in nine cases out of ten, do temper, or dull, dogged obstinacy, or ing mischief, or at the least, impeding extreme self-conceit, would not hesi. the progress of the public business. tate to urge matters to any extremity

But there are other men of a much whatever, rather than lose their conseworse stamp than these, who have, quence and their salaries, as ministers, ve fear, got into parliament under the or their power, as influencers of the lenew system, in much greater numbers gislative, and managers of the execathan they ever did before-we mean tive business of the country. the active, cunning knaves who are des So far as we can at present anticisirous to make a good thing” of the pate, no attempt to proceed further situation they have arrived at by, pre- with revolution, under the name of tended patriotism :-trading politicians “parliamentary reform,” will be sucwho, by intrigue and industry, flattery cessful during the ensuing session. We and lies, bave wriggled themselves into do not believe, that either vote by balparliament, and will use their voices lot, or a shortening of the duration of and their votes to promote their own parliaments, would find a majority in emolument solely.

These are men the new house of commons. The latwho, in public matters, have no con ter question would probably meet with science, beyond a keen sense of what a more favorable reception than the foris for their own interest ; and who are mer-there is a growing disposition only safe from voting against their con among the ministerial reformers to put viction, by a happy ignorance upon on an appearance of great reasonablethe public and general effects of any ness, and to take a mean between exmeasure whatever. The secret service tremes. If the government is pressed money, and all the minor employments with much vehemence on the question in the gift of the minister, are the prey of making parliaments triennial, we to which these sharp-eyed, keen-scent- think it likely a compromise would be ed senators will direct their attention ; made between the present law, and that and it will not be their fault if corrup- proposed, and that quinquennial partion do not thrive more in a reformed liaments would be admitted by the mi. parliament than it ever did before. nister. But, for the present, the finality

With such materials as these making of the reform of parliament measure, up, what is called by the public prints will probably be maintained by the miat present, the ministerial strength of nister, and the majority of the house of the house of commons, it will be easily commons, notwithstanding the violent seen that the ministers can have no demands of a hundred radicals. thing like an assured confidence of the If, however, in the single particular regular support of a body so consti- of popular representation, which has tuted. They must make up their already been revolutionized with so minds to continual checks and defeats, little wisdom, and so much fraud, there or to continual study of the temper of may be expected some check to the the majority, and passive obedience to march of desperate innovation, there its decrees. There is also, yet, a third is, we fear, no hope, that in any thing course, which such ministers as we have else, the eager and coneeited spirit of now, may not scruple to resort to,- the time will be defeated or controulthat of overruling the house of com- led. The church will be first assailed, mons from without, by the excitement and its venerable establishment, if not of popular clamor in favor of revolu- pulled to the ground, will be shaken tionary measures. There is, indeed, through all its walls and buttresses ; but too much reason to fear that the the tongue and hand of violence will readiness for revolutionary changes be lifted up against it, and reason too, within, will be quite enough even for, or rather that which pretends to be ministerial purposes ; but it is just pos- reason, the demonstrative power exsible, that the ministry, thwarted in ercised in a hard and heartless spirit some of their plans, from which they of humanly considered utilitarianism, cannot retreat, may think fit to appeal will be used to wage war against the once more to the multitudinous rabble nobler feelings, which make dear to against the sense of one of the houses . men the venerable and magnificent

institutions connected with the religion thing but a series of ignorant, presumpof the country. That the cause of strife tuous, mischievous innovations, under between the people and the clergy, and the name of "judicious reforms,” bethe wretched anxieties regarding secular ginning with the church and going affairs, to which the latter are made on through every great institution of liable in the present temper of the the nation, which our new-fangled, nation, should be taken away, is cer- conceited rulers and legislators will tainly most desirable ; but we fear set down as wrong, because they were that the same power which has been not arranged according to the superior active in causing and promoting the lights of modern wisdom. Our colonies existence of that temper, will have too are likely to be sacrificed to spurious much concern in determining upon the liberalism on the subject of Negro remedy. There is no right spirit for slavery, and our commercial institua church reform at present in the tions, our agriculture, and the manufaclegislature ; it is not for huckstering tures, which depend upon legislative political economists, to pull to pieces protection against foreign competition, and re-arrange these institutions, the will

, in all probability, be sacrificed to dignity of which they cannot feel, and the dogmas of political economists. the value of which they cannot ap- The English manufacturers in cotton, preciate. The narrow-minded, cold, who, by the reform bill, have obtained worldly calculators, who talk much such a preponderance in the represenabout the progress of intellect and the tation, will take care of themselves, march of mind, because they them- and, if they can, will secure cheap selves have made progress, and marched production and a foreign market, heedto a position which, if sense, and less that, in doing so, they bring ruin honour, and integrity, had been neces on every other interest in the country. sary to it, they never could have at- How well they are, in a moral point of tained, would fain destroy, as ridiculous view, deserving of especial favour at conceits, or mere impostures of an- the nation's hand, may be judged of tiquity, the aids which political institu- from the evidence elicited by Mr. Sadtions have supplied to the growth and ler's committee, respecting their treatmaintenance of those things which ment of the thousands of children in have a higher aim and wider scope, their factories, who are destroyed body than mere national utility or social and soul, by toil and tyranny, and the convenience. In the noble and affect- depravity occasioned in the promising language of Edmund Burke, we cuous intercourse of such multitudes, may say now, as he did of a former without any moral governor at their time, and of a national spirit not much tender years. differing from that which now threatens We look to the House of Lords for us with moral degredation and political protection against the evil tendencies ruin—"All the pleasing illusions which of the lower house ; but how can we made power gentle, and obedience now look to it with confidence? Where liberal, which barmonized the different is the proud independence—the deshades of life, and which, by a bland liberative strength—the lofty dignity assimilation, incorporated into politics of that great assembly, which held the the sentiments which beautify and balance between the impetuosity of soften private society, are to be dis- the commons, and the immorality of solved by this new conquering empire the crown, so long as the integrity of of light and reason. All the decent the British constitution yet existed ? drapery of life is to be rudely torn off They are gone : the Whig govern-all the superadded ideas furnished ment, leaguing with the popular riofrom the wardrobe of a moral imagina- lence, has destroyed that proud security tion, which the heart owns, and the of the British people. The House of understanding ratifies, as necessary to Lords now deliberates with the twocover the defects of our naked shivering edged sword of prerogative and ponature, and to raise it to dignity in our pular fury, suspended over it by a own estimation, are to be exploded, as thread, ready to be snapped at the a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated first indication of effective opposition fashion.”

to the will of a revolutionary governWe really do not see before us, upon ment. The ministers, who pretend a the most sober view of the case, any zeal for liberty, and the traitors in

heart who second them, are pre- ten despondingly. It is true that the pared to crush, by the despotic exer- political horizon of these kingdoms is cise of the King's prerogative, the freely dark with threatening ills—it is true expressed opinion of the upper house that the security of our institutionsof legislature, and thus, to render it, the moral feeling of Great Britain, of for purposes of action, a mere nullity, which we were wont to be so proudor worse than that, an instrument of the matured liberties, and the estabpublic wrong. There are also men lished religion of the people, all are in enough, and we tell it with indigna- danger, and it would be madness and tion that we cannot conceal, creatures wickedness to shut our eyes to such a who are called honorable men, and condition of affairs, or seeing it, to gentlemen in society, ready to accept treat it with levity. It is true that the with thankfulness, the degrading and enemy is strong, and the force which disgusting distinction of a coronet and should fight the battle with it, is alas ! chains, to bow and crouch before a not strong, nor well acquainted with haughty minister, and in return for a its proper weapons ; it is, moreover, title, pledge themselves to trample up- divided and unsettled, and without on the independence of the order, the fixed principles, acknowledged as the outward trappings of which they as basis of universal action ; but still we pire to.

are far, very far from the condition of The power of the upper house, despair, our strength is still great, and, therefore, as a direct and effectual bar if we do our duty, will become greater. to bad measures, is gone; but the as We end as we began—" Zeal for the sembly remains as a splendid theatre of public good is the characteristic of a debate upon public measures an arena mau of honor and a gentleman,” and in which by far the noblest and most there is nothing in the present state of powerful intellects of the country, pour affairs which absolves any one pretendforth their strength in argumentative ing to that character, from exerting eloquence upon the questions which himself with determined and unclouded another power than theirs' must decide. spirit, for the “ good cause." Now Thus, the House of Lords has still its indeed is the time that zeal for the influence upon public opinion, inde- public good on the part of Conservapendently altogether of its votes, and tives assumes the noblest character. ihus it is still of inestimable value to Our politics lead not to government the country. As soon as the Parlia- place or popular favour : we strive for ment enters upon public business, we something better—we would, if it were may expect from the discussions in the possible, kindle, and fan into flame, the House of Lords, upon the monstrous enthusiasm of virtue, the devotedness course of our foreign policy, such an of honor, the stedfast firmness of inteeffect as will shake the ministers in grity, and by these excellent lights, we their seats, though it may not remove would shew the populace the error and them, nor alter that system by which folly of their mad career. The Conthe strength of England is made the servative cause is the cause of religion, test of French ambition, and lust of of humanity, of peace and security in aggrandisement.

society, of social order, and of reguIt is now almost time to close these lated liberty. Such a cause will not, brief remarks ; but before doing so, we and cannot be left without witnesses, would say a few words, which the while a guiding Providence reigns over somewhai gloomy view we have given the world, nor will it, in God's good of affairs, may seem to call for. We time, be left without a pure and lasting have written seriously; but we have triumph. missed our intention if we have writ.



[ocr errors]

We scarcely think it a departure such an administration incurs an awful from our proper limits, in hazarding a responsibility, and merits the hatred of few observations on the highest legal all 'honest men, which places on the functionaries in the land. We do not Bench imbecility and ignorance in approach the subject in a spirit of un- preference to knowledge and integrity. candid or presumptuous criticism, much It is not that the corrupt and hesitating less from the unworthy motive of at- judge startles and disgusts the public tracting curiosity by ill-natured and by some act of barefaced and enormous impertinent discussion. It is one of turpitude, or of reckless subserviency to the best principles of a free press, to the powers that be: it is in the thousscrutinize public characters, be they and instances which occur between man ever so exalted, with unshrinking cou- and man in the daily administration of rage ; evincing, nevertheless, a suitable justice, that the incalculable mischief respect for the individual whose pre- is done. Here folly, caprice, incapacity, tensions are investigated, and preserv- and prejudice may work their will, to ing a strict adherence to the truth. the prevention of justice, and the ruin Excessive flattery is as much to be of the suitor. Who has ever trashunned as violent abuse; the one velled the circuit, and witnessed the injures, and the other degrades, the au- almost absolute power which a single thor more than the object of it. There judge exercises over property, liberty, is no branch of our constitution which and life, that must not tremble at the we contemplate with more delight than idea of authority so vast being conthe judicial department : the system is signed to insufficient hands? How almost perfect in theory, although it dreadful the notion of a man's life being has sometimes been defiled in practice. sacrificed to a whim, or his property The British judge is independent alike lost by a jester ; and the initiated know of the sovereign who appoints him, and how fatal it is to the cause, for even of the people over whose lives and pro- a prejudice to cross the mind of the perties he presides; were it otherwise, judge at a critical moment. These so long as the supreme magistrates held considerations surely should be enough their situations at the will of the crown, to induce any wise government to removeable at pleasure, fear might ren evince their love of humanity and jusder them venal, profligate, and base; tice, by appointing to the Bench men ready to truckle to the power on whose above suspicion, of large understandbreath they depended, and expecting ings, of uncompromising integrity, and fresh promotion by infamous compli- competent knowledge, and whose chaance. Whatever hopes the Bench may, racter and fitness for business the public now,entertain, there is but little to affect have stamped by their confidence and their fears ; and we think it would be support. an improvement on the present system, But if the Bar, as a working profesif the first appointment of the judge sion, has been improved within the last was final, without a chance of transla- thirty years, so the constitution of the tion or advancement. The most diffi- Bench has been changed inaterially for cult and delicate duty which the govern- the better. We can assert, without fear ment is called upon to exercise in the and without flattery, that there are some disposal of its patronage, consists in as able men now upon the Irish Bench the selection of the judges of the as ever adorned the judicial station : land, because experience has proved men who were distinguished not merely that the most mischievous and me as plodding, safe, and careful practilancholy results have followed, and ever tioners, but for the ample measure of will follow, from prostrating the Bench their natural genius ; for the strength to favouritism and the spirit of faction: and grasp of their intellect; for depth nor can it be doubted for a moment that of knowledge, accompanied with pow

« הקודםהמשך »