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England by whom, even at this, the eleventh hour, the progress of revolution would be arrested.
NEVEROUT-I confess I am more than sceptical as to that. Remember, he would now have to deal with a reformed House of Commons; a House of Commons, who may be truly described as having ears and hear not;" so that there is but little chance of their giving heed to the voice of the charmer, “charm he never so wisely."
POPLAR—You state a difference which, unquestionably, gives rise to a difficulty, for the removal of which I am not prepared. Any man who should at present undertake to champion a conservative policy, will have to contend against fearful odds, even supposing the crown and the nobility to be properly aroused to a sense of their danger. No doubt, it will be much more difficult to influence a House of Commons, in which the King and the Aristocracy have been deprived of the benefit which hitherto belonged to them, than it was when Burke and Pitt contended against the designs of revolutionary France. They had, as auditors, a different class of persons from those who are likely to constitute our future Parliaments : men whose education rendered them susceptible of enlightened convictions, and whose position rendered them independent of the caprice of the mob. They could, therefore, afford to be honest without losing their seats ; and were able, in some measure, to guide that popular impulse, which so many must now be content to follow. But even then, a prodigious effect was produced out of doors by the genius and the eloquence of Burke, who succeeded in casting the evil spirit of Jacobinism out of the great bulk of the people, so that those who had been, previously, under its most savage influence, and who could not be bound, no, not by chains, were found “sitting and clothed, and in their right mind." It must, however, be admitted, that if active Jacobinism was more ripe in those days, passive Jacobinism is more prevailing at present ;-and for this I will never cease to blame the supineness of the Conservative party ; who were satisfied with merely defeating present hostility, without making any sufficient provision against its recurrence in a worse form, and at a period when they were less prepared. Our institutions were then endangered by violence ; they are now defenceless through indiffer
The violence of the Jacobins, which was defeated, has been renewed. It was the natural product of ignorance and malignity, which at all times and in all countries, engenders a spirit of reckless resistance to constituted authority, and established order. On the contrary, its opposite, the conservative principle, is the product of knowledge and virtue ; qualities which are not of spontaneous growth, but which require care and culture ;--and this care and culture not having been bestowed upon them, all sound notions of government, and all reverence for social institutions which have stood the test of ages, seein to have perished from amongst the people. Nothing short of this can possibly account for the appalling apathy with which the late changes were received by the great bulk of the nation ; who are still fain to believe that they love the old constitution of England, at the very moment that they are consenting that it shall for ever pass away. This, I say, making all due allowances for the great delusion that was practised by Ministers at the late dissolution, for the wicked use that was made of the name of the King, for the senseless prejudice which was excited against what were called rotten boroughs ; for the shameless falsification of history, which represented that ancient part of the constitution as a modern innovation, and disguised the real nature of the question at issue, which was simply this, whether the Lords should continue to maintain an influence in the Commons, which was incapable of being employed for any other purpose than that of preventing abrupt collision; or whether the Commons should become possessed of such a degree of authority, as should thenceforth render them omnipotent in all national deliberations ; and, to all intents and purposes, annihilate the authority of the Lords ; making all just allowance, I say, for these and sundry other delusions, nothing could have made the people of this great empire, the victims of the present reforming ministry, but a species of passive jacobinism, or an ignorance of the value of their ancient form of government, for which those are deeply chargeable who neglected to avail themselves of the opportunities which were abundantly in their power, of moulding and fashioning to wise and to good purposes, that spirit which has now been trained to sedition, and which is only powerful for evil
. But they suffered others to sow the wind, and they are now reaping the whirlwind.
NEVEROUT—What you say is unquestionable truth. Both the moral and political education of the people has been neglected. Our rulers forgot that although one generation seldom fails to leave its errors, its vices, or its follies, as an inheritance to those who are to follow; there is no certainty that its virtues, or its wisdom will be transmitted with equal fidelity. The one, as you justly observe, are the spontaneous product of a soil naturally rank and unweeded, the other as a species of garden fruit, which requires a nice and difficult training, and which speedily degenerates, if not cultivated with the utmost care. But, in truth, our government, if ministers had minds to see their importance, was far too democratical, even before the passing of the reform bill, to be able to attend to those things. Their measures were all necessarily shaped with reference to the opposition they expected to encounter ; and they were much more solicitous to make a plausible show of retrenchment and economy in the eyes of their adversaries, than to devise measures for their own prospective security, by making provision for the moral improvement of the people. But if this was the case under the former government, what must be expected from future administrations? What Tories could not accomplish, when the house of cominons was less democratical, Whigs, assuredly, will not accomplish, now that it is more so; and therefore it is that I see no hope of bettering our condition, until fatal experience shall have warned our sanguine politicians of the errors of their present courses; and that I would have you, while there is yet time, make a cautious retreat from a position, an obstinate maintenance of which can only bring ruin upon yourself, without procuring any advantage for your country.
POPLAR-You have well said all that you have said respecting the supineness of former governments, and also the difficulty in which they were placed respecting the carrying into effect any wise views, (supposing them to have entertained them,) having for their object the more general diffusion, amongst the mass of the people, of sound moral and political instruction. But had they, in the zenith of Tory rule, been as firmly persuaded as we are of the importance of making the knowledge of the people keep pace with their power, of giving them principle in proportion as they had obtained influence, I cannot believe that they would have found it impossible to procure the assent of parliament to measures for that purpose. Nor do I now despair of seeing much done which may remedy former neglect, provided those, whose especial province it is to preside over such concerns, be but earnest and judicious in the prosecution of their object. With such a persuasion, can I prove false to my trust, or a renegade to that cause which I only desire to live as long as I can be instrumental in sustaining ? Here, however, we must begin. We must endeavour to dispossess our countrymen of the demon of Jacobinism ; and that can only be done by supplying the complement of that half knowledge which more than any thing else has contributed to lead them astray. Our adversaries have never been wanting to their cause in supplying in abundance all that was calculated to engender discontent and sedition, and thus to pave the way for revolution. If we are only as true to our cause, we shall find that they have been only doing our business ; for we will only have to add to what they have done in order to turn their own engines against themselves. The school-master is abroad” has become, through our supineness, the watchword in the march of audacious ignorance. If we employ our energies, it may become the watchword in the march of enlightened reason, and serve in future, to strengthen and consolidate, as much as it has as yet served to weaken and destroy those institutions which have proved the 'decus' and the 'tutamen' of our liberties, and which have made the constitution of England the envy and the admiration of the world.
NEVEROUT—You rave, old man, or you mock us! Envy and admiration! We have now become a by-word amongst surrounding nations ! Never will England again retain the rank which she has so insanely relinquished. Our parliament will henceforth resemble dogs with kettles tied to their tails. If the members are not mad, they must seem to be mad, or they will not be
trusted. No ; our day has gone by ; we have taken a sudden plunge from a height of glory and prosperity unparalleled in the history of the world, and will not find our level until we reach the opposite point of misery and humiliation. It is maddening to think of this. In the case of France, the madness of the people forced revolution upon the King ; in our case the contrary has taken place, and revolution has been forced, by those high in authority, upon an astonished and reluctant people. But the thing is done ; it has been done despite our efforts ; and we can as little remedy as we could prevent it. For my part, my resolution is taken: I have sacrificed much: I will sacrifice no
Public affairs I feel to be beyond my controul, and I will even betake myself to courses in which I may find my private advantage.
Poplar.- Feeling as you do, resentment and indignation at what has been done, your language is natural ; but I have better hopes of the ultimate destiny of my country. England will yet rise superior both to the treachery of her pretended friends, and the violence of her open enemies. The Tory party deserred much of what they at present suffer. Had the reform bill never passed, they were proceeding in a course which must have undermined the constitution. Their own interests as a party were scandalously neglected. The daily press was almost entirely in the hands of the Whigs. The able men, who honestly and laboriously, and with great sacrifices, advocated their cause for years, were suffered to remain in penury and obscurity ; while those who had no other claims than that of relationship to men in office, were revelling in luxury at the expense of the public. Look at the case of Robert Southey. See that great man devoting all the energies of his powerful mind to the good of that cause which our late rulers acknowledged was identified with the fame and happiness of the country. See him enriching every department of our literature by his genius, while he has yet found time for those essays, replete with original thought, and sound and lofty principles, which have given its chief value to that noble periodical, the Quarterly Review. One would think that any ministry would have been proud of patronizing such a man. And yet, what has been his reward ? A hard struggle for existence. Mr. Southey is this moment indebted to his daily exertions for his daily bread. And although he is, perhaps, the last man in the world to complain of this, yet, it is impossible for me not to think, and to feel of it as of a national grievance, which reflects especial disgrace upon those who had, for such a length of time, the disposal of the patronage of government, and who neglected to employ it in a manner that would have reflected lasting honour upon themselves. Look, again, to the manner in which the nomination boroughs were, in most instances, filled. I do not mean to say that many valuable members were not thus introduced into the house of commons. But is it possible to see such men as Lockhart, and others who might be easily named, without seats in that house, while striplings and nincompoops, who never attempted to digest any stronger intellectual food than the confectionery of the circulating library, wrote themselves M. P., and took their places amongst “ the collective wisdom."No, my friend. These were crying offences. They were sins against good sense and sound principle, for which the Tories can now scarcely find a place for repentance, though they may seek it diligently, and with tears. Beside, the church was neglected. *he high places were not properly filled. Although the Duke of Wellington was not a profligate or a careless, he was yet an incompetent dispenser of church patronage; and the consequence was, that appointments made with the best intentions, have reflected but little credit upon those by whom they were advised. I might easily illustrate this part of the subject by a reference to some of the deaneries both in England and Ireland. When Whigs abuse church patronage, it is all fair. They are but working in their vocation. They are only consistent in doing all that in them lies to bring into contempt, by their acts, a system which they have never omitted an opportunity of disparaging by their speeches and writings. But when Tories abuse their power, it is felt“ as the unkindest cut of all.” They were the champions to whose chivalry the honour and the interests of our venerable spiritual mother, were, in an especial manner. entrusted ; and when they prove recreant knights,
her condition is hopelessly deplorable. NEVEROUT-The church is, certainly, now, " hors de combat.” In this
country it is absolutely overthrown. I do not believe any one entertains the hope of setting it up here again. Our friends at the other side of the channel may, therefore, say, “ proximus ardet.” When the Irish establishment is done away, they will have lost the best out-work of the Church of England.
POPLAR-Assuredly, their establishment will not long survive that of Ireland. The connection between them is like that of the Siamese youths : the death of the one will be soon followed by the death of the other. But, both may yet be preserved.
NEVEROUT-I should like to hear your recipe for the resuscitation of the Church of Ireland.
POPLAR—It is very simple. Good government, and a more adequate representation of its interests in parliament. Let the government only resolve, honestly, to carry into effect the laws of the land, and tithe will be collected with as much ease as ever; and let the church possess those who are qualified to protect it against the vituperation with which it is constantly assailed, and I would stake my existence that, before three sessions have elapsed, it would become as popular as it has been rendered odious. The church has suffered much more from the lukewarmness or the incompetency of its friends, than from the power or the violence of its enemies. No institution, no body of men, no character however immaculate, ever was, or ever can be, proof against persevering and reiterated obloquy. But, let a defender appear who is able and willing to undertake the cause of outraged and insulted virtue, and I entertain far too good an opinion of my fellow men not to believe that he would meet with sympathy and encouragement even in a reformed parliament.
NEVEROUT- But is not the expense of the Irish church a great grievance?
POPLAR– No: unless it is a great grievance that a portion of the rental of the country is retained and spent among the people.
NEVEROUT--Has not Ricardo demonstrated that tithe does not fall upon the landlord, but upon the consumer ? · POPLAR— No. He has attempted to draw an inference of that kind from his theory of rent; a theory which may now be considered as absolutely without any sound foundation. See the late edition of Say's great work on Political Economy, and, “ The True Theory of Rent,” by Mr. Peronet Thomson, of Cambridge. I will take another opportunity of dwelling more fully on that subject ; suffice it to say, at present, that Ricardo's theory is built altogether upon the fallacy of “ non causa pro causa.” Had he been a more liberally educated man, it is impossible that he could have fallen into such an error.
NEVEROUT—Error or no, it is at present very prevalent amongst those who take the lead in the house of commons upon all questions of political economy. Heard you not how O'Connell lately trumpeted it forth ?
POPLAR—Yes ; and it was most amusing. It reminded me of a scene which I witnessed when I was a young man. There were two women selling cockles. The one had excellent cockles, but a very bad voice; the other had very bad cockles, but a very good voice. The former, therefore, got into the immediate neighbourhood of the latter, and continued to draw to herself all the customers who were attracted by the stentorian lungs of her rival. Just such a mouthpiece has O'Connell been made by the political economists : with the difference, that, in his case, there is a “ quid pro quo.” He supports their theory of tithes, apon condition of their supporting him in his antipathy to the church establishment. Indeed, in so far complying with his wishes, they are doing no violence to their own inclinations. Ricardo's inference was hailed with delight, much more because it was expected to act as a lever for the overthrow of the church, than for any other important consequences that could have resulted from it. And, long after it is defunct as a matter of science, it will be maintained by the same purpose. It reminds me of the doctrine of transubstantiation, which was first invented in accordance with the Aristotelic distinction of substance and accident, and when that was exploded, was still maintained because it added to the the influence of the Romish priesthood, by whom the distinction was maintained for the sake of the doctrine, simply because the doctrine could not be maintained without the distinction. It has been, accordingly, renvarked, that whatever be
its other demerits, transubstantiation cannot be denied to exhibit, in this respect, a remarkable instance of filial piety, by supporting its parents in their old age.
NEVEROUT—If Ricardo's doctrine respecting tithes, be but half as successful as the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation, it will do more for the subversion of the Church of England, than the other has effected for the support of the Church of Rome.
Poplar—But it will not be so far successful. It has already been found out. And although O'Connell has been made a mouth-piece to trumpet it, he too, will soon learn that there can be no credit in dressing in cast-off clothes. Besides, there is no man more ready at a retractation.
NEVEROUT-He, certainly, has no occasion for subtle inferences, in order to accomplish the destruction of the Church of Ireland. That has been done to his hand. I think the government have even gone before him; they have actually been his pioneers, in all that relates to the extinction of tithes.
Poplar—Mr. Stanley is, I believe, well disposed to support the church. His measures, however, are but ill seconded by the other members of the administration, who rather give him his way than cordially co-operate with him. He will find out, by and by, the purposes to which his fine talents have been made subservient. The bills of which he lately gave notice would do much towards remedying the defects and providing for the stability of the church establishment in Ireland. But they have been deferred, as the price of the support which the Irish members gave to government in the famous case of the Russian Dutch loan ;—and who does not see that it will be impossible to carry them in a reformed parliament ?
NEVEROUT-One of these bills is, I think, for the purpose of creating corporations for the management of church property, which would then be assimilated to the property of universities. It is founded, as I learn, upon a suggestion of the Archbishop of Dublin, and does afford a prospect of securing the possessions of the church, while it separates the clergyman from all disagreeable collision with his parishioners respecting pecuniary matters, or, the mammon of unrighteousness, which has, indeed, in their instance, proved “the root of all evil.” I trust that bill at least, will be carried.
POPLAR-Do you not know that O'Connell cries out louder against that, than against any other part of the proposed system of commutation. It is downright amusing to see the facility with which he can take opposite grounds for the accomplishment of the same object. He first objects to the Irish Church, because of the grinding exactions of the Protestant Clergyman, and the odious nature of a tax, where the people of one denomination pay the religious teachers of those of another. Well, a change is about to be made which does away with at least, one part of this objection, by removing the clergy from all contact with those who pay the tithes. He then cries out, “ Oh! you unmerciful wretches, what are you about to do? Are you about to take the people out of the hands of the kind and indulgent Protestant Clergyman, and to bring them within the fangs of a heartless corporation? This is a change for which we do not thank you. Unless the church is destroyed root and branch, there shall be no peace in Ireland.” Such is the present language of this audacious demagogue ; and it will not be the fault of our precious rulers if it do not prove more destructive to our institutions, even than it is disgraceful to himself. When the wolf was determined to devour the lamb, he was not more solicitous about finding a plausible excuse for his ravening appetite, than O'Connell for the destruction of the Church of Ireland.
NEVEROUT-The church has certainly had to stand black, as the school-boys say, for assaults of almost every description. She resembles the cocks on ShroveTuesday, which are tied to stakes for the amusement of the ruffian multitude, who sling their bludgeon missiles at them with a cowardly barbarity, which is only to be equalled by the bravery with which the big-hearted little birds clap their wings, and exultingly meet the impending danger.
Poplar—If the bird were a hen instead of a cock, the cowardly atrocity of the ruffians in the legislature would be more strongly exemplified. But, in that case, I verily believe, the ruffians of the cock-pit would be half divested of their ferocity, and find it impossible to strike the timid and cowering creatures, whose