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has taught the nation worse, and elevated it less, than usual.
I think, however, that a correct observer would decide that in general, and on principle, the House of Commons does not teach the public as much as it might teach it, or as the public would wish to learn. I do not wish very abstract, very philosophical, very hard matters to be stated in Parliament. The teaching there given must be popular, and to be popular it must be concrete, embodied, abort. The problem is to know the highest truth which the people will bear, and to inculcate and preach that. Certainly Lord Palmerston did not preach it. He a little degraded us by preaching a doctrine just below our own standard ;-a doctrine not enough below us to repel us much, but yet enough below to harm us by augmenting a worldliness which needed no addition, and by diminishing a love of principle and philosophy which did not want deduction.
In comparison with the debates of any other assembly, it is true the debates by the English Parliament are most instructive. The debates in the American Congress have little teaching efficacy; it is the characteristic vice of Presidential Government to deprive them of that efficacy; in that government a debate in the legislature has little effect, for it cannot turn out the executive, and the executive can veto all it decides. The French Chambers* are suitable appendages to an Empire which desires the power of despotism without its shame; they prevent the enemies of the Empire being quite correct when they say
* This of course relates to the assemblies of the Empire.
there is no free speech : a few permitted objectors fill the air with eloquence, which every one knows to be often true, and always vain. The debates in an English Parliament fill a space in the world which, in these auxiliary chambers, is not possible. But I think any one who compares the discussions on great questions in the higher part of the press, with the discussions in Parliament, will feel that there is (of course amid much exaggeration and vagueness) a greater vigour and a higher meaning in the writing than in the speech; a vigour which the public appreciate-a meaning that they like to hear.
The Saturday Review said, some years since, that the ability of Parliament was a “protected ability;" that there was at the door a differential duty of at least 2,0001. a year. Accordingly the House of Commons, representing only mind coupled with property, is not equal in mind to a legislature chosen for mind only, and whether accompanied by wealth or not. But I do not for a moment wish to see a representation of pure mind; it would be contrary to the main thesis of this essay. I maintain that Parliament ought to embody the public opinion of the English nation; and, certainly, that opinion is much more fixed by its property than by its mind. The “ too clever by half” people, who live in “ Bohemia," ought to have no more influence in Parliament than they have in England, and they can scarcely have less. Only, after every great abatement and deduction, I think the country would bear a little more mind; and that there is a profusion of opulent dulness in Parliament which might a little -though only a little—be pruned away.
The only function of Parliament which remains to be considered is the informing function, as I just now called it: the function which belongs to it, or to members of it, to bring before the nation the ideas, grievances, and wishes of special classes. This must not be confounded with what I have called its teaching function. In life, no doubt, the two run one into another. But so do many things which it is very important in definition to separate. The fact of two things being often found together is rather a reason for, than an objection to, separating them in idea. Sometimes they are not found together, and then we may be puzzled if we have not trained ourselves to separate them. The teaching function brings true ideas before the nation, and is the function of its highest minds. The expressive function brings only special ideas, and is the function of but special minds. Each class has its ideas, wants, and notions; and certain brains are ingrained with them. Such sectarian conceptions are not those by which a determining nation should regulate its action, nor are orators, mainly animated by such conceptions, safe guides in policy. But those orators should be heard ; those conceptions should be kept in sight. The great maxim of modern thought is not only the toleration of everything, but the examination of everything. It is by examining very bare, very dull, very unpromising things, that modern science has come to be what it is. There is a story of a great chemist who said he owed half his fame to his habit of examining, after his experiments, what was going to be thrown away; everybody knew the result of the experiment itself, but . in the refuse matter there were many little facts and unknown changes, which suggested the discoveries of a famous life to a person capable of looking for them. So with the special notions of neglected classes. They may contain elements of truth which though small, are the very elements which we now require, because we already know all the rest.
This doctrine was well known to our ancestors. They laboured to give a character to the various constituencies, or to many of them. They wished that the shipping trade, the wool trade, the linen trade, should each have their spokesman: that the unsectional Parliament should know what each section in the nation thought before it gave the national decision. This is the true reason for admitting the working classes to a share in the representation, at least as far as the composition of Parliament is to be improved by that admission. A great many ideas, a great many feelings have gathered among the town artizans—a peculiar intellectual life has sprung up among them. They believe that they have interests which are misconceived or neglected; that they know something · which others do not know; that the thoughts of Parliament are not as their thoughts. They ought to be allowed to try to convince Parliament; their notions ought to be stated as those of other classes are stated; their advocates should be heard as other people's advocates are heard. Before the Reform Bill, there was a recognised machinery for that purpose. The member for Westminster, and other members, were elected by universal suffrage (or what was in substance such); those members did, in their
day, state what were the grievances and ideas-or were thought to be the grievances and ideas—of the working classes. It was the single, unbending franchise introduced in 1832 that has caused this difficulty, as it has others.
Until such a change is made the House of Commons will be defective, just as the House of Lords was defective. It will not look right. As long as the Lords do not come to their own House, we may prove on paper that it is a good revising chamber, but it will be difficult to make the literary argument felt. Just so, as long as a great class, congregated in political localities, and known to have political thoughts and wishes, is without notorious and palpable advocates in Parliament, we may prove on paper that our representation is adequate, but the world will not believe it. There is a saying of the eighteenth century, that in politics “gross appearances are great realities.” It is in vain to demonstrate that the working classes have no grievances; that the middle classes have done all that is possible for them, and so on with a crowd of arguments which I need not repeat, for the newspapers keep them in type, and we can say them by heart. But so long as the “gross appearance” is that there are no evident, incessant representatives to speak the wants of artizans, the “ great reality” will be a diffused dissatisfaction. Thirty years ago it was vain to prove that Gatton and Old Sarum were valuable seats, and sent good members. Everybody said, “ Why, there are no people there.” Just so everybody must say now, “ Our representative system must be imperfect, for an immense class has no members to speak for it." The only answer to the cry against con