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House of Commons like the present nominated by the Crown on the recomone impossible. A joint sitting under mendation of the Prime Minister; and these conditions would be a mockery. one hundred to be elected by municipal Should the suggestion of a joint sitting bodies, such as County Councils, Borever come to be seriously considered, ough Councils, &c., these to be grouped Unionists must take care that they are together where, singly, they would not not caught napping. Say the House represent a sufficiently large populaof Lords was reduced to 200—and this tion. Lord Curzon would like to see has been proposed,-probably at least a Peer representing a county or some one-fourth of them would be Liberals, great centre of population. A man in which case the Ministerial party would be proud of saying that he was would still have a clear majority. Peer for Yorkshire or Peer for LiverThis is a contingency against which pool. The defect of this plan is that the Unionist reformers must be on it lacks simplicity. There are Uniontheir guard. That is all. There might ists who would agree with Lord Crewe be liberty and fraternity in such an ar- tbat a "tessellated” House would not rangement, but there would be very be popular. The reader may rememlittle equality.
ber that, in 1858, Mr. Disraeli proThe suggestion that Peers should be posed some such plan for the election elected by members of the House of of his Indian Council. But it did not Commons is scarcely worth considera- meet with public approval, and had to tion. We should only have the House be withdrawn. This scheme, however, of Commons over again. What we is not to be dismissed lightly. Lord want in the first place in the election Curzon, who backs it, is an authority of a Second Chamber is to get rid, if of great weight. That one hundred possible, of all sectional, local, or pro- members of the Upper Chamber should vincial interests. The Chamber should be Peers chosen by the Peers thembe formed on as broad a basis as pos- selves is a provision by which the consible. And members should be chosen stitutional claims of the aristocracy by constituencies too large to be af- would be recognized, and a principle fected by the usual party machinery maintained which it might be hazwhich plays so large a part in the eler- ardous to part with altogether. tion of members of the House of Com- On the other hand, a suggestion
In a word, our new senators which finds favor in important quarmust not be delegates. That is a sine ters is that the House of Lords should quâ non. When Sir James Graham, be entirely elective—the members to "in his stately cynicism," adjured the be chosen by proportional representaHouse of Commons to rise out of tion from large areas with populations "the region of nisi prius," he was un- of, perhaps, a million or more. It is consciously paying tribute to the qual- thought that great Peers and distinities which we must all desire to see guished men generally would be sure prevailing in the deliberations of a to be chosen. These spacious constitgreat Senate.
uencies could not be canvassed, it is Lord Curzon's proposal is an Upper said, from house to house by one man; Chamber consisting of three hundred nor could obscure individuals conduct members one hundred to be chosen a Mid-Lothian campaign or the famous by the Peers themselves from among Northern peregrination of Mr. Bright in the Peers; fifty to be men who had 1858. It takes men of great eminence held high office or "acquired renown" to do that kind of thing. It is asin the service of the State; fifty to be serted that great Peers like the late
Lord Salisbury, the Duke of Devon- charge of great public duties, and the shire, Lord Derby, Lord Landsdowne, wise and liberal spirit which it disthe Duke of Westminster, the Duke of plays in the administration of the large Buccleuch, Lord Londonderry, &c., properties which still belong to it, are would be sure of their election; and fully appreciated by millions. But that men belonging to the same sta- there is now among us what until tion in life would be generally chosen, lately was unknown in this country, an were the question raised above the at- organized combination for counteractmosphere of pure party politics, and ing that influence, and for representing freed from the machinations of the lo- the character and conduct of the ariscal Tadpoles and Tapers. It is alleged, tocracy as exactly the reverse of what however, that for the success of this the people for many generations, trustplan it is essential that the whole ing to their own experience and the House should be chosen by popular traditions of their fathers, have beelection. Were a certain number to lieved it to be. It is difficult to gauge be elected by the Peers themselves, and the extent to which lying tongues have take their seats in virtue of their hered undermined this ancient faith. But itary right, the Peer who presented that they have not been without himself for election to a large con- their effect is pretty certain; and any stituency would be told to “Get along!" scheme for the reform of the House —that his proper constituents were his of Lords, depending on its survival, brother-Peers, and that his place was however excellent in itself, must be elsewhere.
very carefully considered before it is This particular plan has some sup- finally adopted. port among the Unionists who count We doubt, moreover, whether it much on the hold which the aristoc- would be quite so easy to prevent the racy still possesses on the English na- intrusion into these same large areas tion, and no doubt when a Peer, dis- of the sectional influences and prejusociated from the idea of privileged dices which operate in smaller ones. class, sought their votes on terms of Could any constituency be so large but equality with themselves, the people that Tadpole and Taper could worm might experience the force of those their way into it? For these gentlemen social instincts which undoubtedly still are to be found in both parties alike. survive among them more strongly Could any county or borough council than perhaps they do at present. Were be found capable of selecting a candithe scheme to be adopted and these date without any regard to local inanticipations to be realized, we should terests or prejudices? Could the widunquestionably have a Second Cham- est possible extent of electoral areas ber of superlative excellence, and one do anything to lower the influence of for the sake of which we might be the Trades Unions ? justified in trying the experiment. But Mr. Balfour says that in no great it would certainly be a bold one. If country has a purely elective Upper the new system failed, we could hardly Chamber been found consistent with go back to the old one. We believe, the predominance of the Lower. He reindeed, that the British aristocracy is ferred to France and the United States still popular with the country; that its in support of this assertion. The Secgreat national services still linger in ond Chamber in Australia is mainly a the memory of the people; and that its Labor Chamber, which would be gracious influence and generous sym- hardly likely to answer the purpose pathies, its efficient and gratuitous dis- for which we desire one in England.
The great body of the English people, who are but imperfectly represented in the present Parliament, call on the Unionist party to save their ancient heritage from the hand of the destroyer. This can never be done by a policy of hesitation or vacillation. We must have no "waverers" in our ranks. As was said of the Whig Min. isters in 1832, they might have made terms with a resolute foe: they trampled on a hesitating opponent. The present Cabinet might recoil from coming to extremities with a determined and united Opposition having a much larger body of public opinion at their Blackwood's Magazine.
back than their mere numbers represent. At all events, that is the only game to play. Its failure could bring no worse consequences than a policy of cowardice and concession must inevitably bring with it. Let the Unionists wait till the Lords have matured their own scheme of reform, and then appeal to the people to support their constitutional authority. We firmly believe that this appeal would not be in vain. But if it was, let the defenders of that “Old England," which would then be lost to us for ever,
fall with their faces to the foe.
THE GENIUS OF MR. THACKERAY.
The centenary of Mr. Thackeray is Scotchman. It is as if a host were an appropriate occasion for a declara- nowadays to offer his guests sweet tion of faith. Not that there has been champagne and so Mr. Thackeray's any substantial heresy, but of late the fame is cast to the jackals. It is a curious may have noticed a persistent little hard for an author to be resented campaign of depreciation among the in one age as a cynic, only to be reminor critics. All Grub Street would jected in the next as a sentimentalist. seem to have formed a bearing trust. We all remember how Harriet MarNo one would wish to be hard on them. tineau professed to be unable to read After all, critics have to live. To live Vanity Fair “from the disgust it occathey must write and if, as we are told, sions.” Even Anthony Trollope, a sinpeople do not read Mr. Thackeray's cere admirer, was of opinion "he was works they have always been ready to too thoroughly saturated with the asread about them. One generation had pect of the evil side of things.” In exhausted the language of apprecia- those Victorian days even the elect tion. The next, ready with sharpened confused subject and treatment. But quills, waited only for inspiration. has not the modern attack on sentiUnfortunately, it requires some liter- ment been a trifle overdone? Your ary craft to make an old story read- novel should' deal with life and everyable and inspiration halted. Then some thing which makes life tolerable is glowworm of Grub Street discovered based on sentiment. True sentiment Mr. Thackeray was à sentimentalist is the equity of thought and sentiment and ink ran almost in a spate.
need not necessarily be false. The We all know the unpardonable sin moderns are like the temperance fain literature is sentiment. You may natics who see no distinction between be obscene, dull, even historical, and a reputed pint and an orgy. be respected and possibly read, but Now Mr. Thackeray's sentiment was venture sentiment and you are damned, never false. Of all those kindly unless indeed, you happen to be a touches giving that intimate charm to
the green volumes, there is not one that does not like Thackeray; he says, the after all the years does not ring true. public were bullied into admiration by But he wrote decently and like a gen- the Book of Snobs. When we rememtleman, and what is more unpardon- ber Thackeray's famous definition of able, with a sense of his responsibil- the type, why the Book of Snobs does ity as a power for good or evil. The not appeal to the author of My Dead odd thing is, that when authors were a Life is intelligible. Then he complains race apart and mostly of a Bohemian about Becky Sharp_"Fancy writing habit, the tone and principles of their the history of Becky Sharp and not output would have been acceptable to discussing whether she had a temperMiss Pinkerton's Academy. Now Bo- ament or not"—whereas the key to hemia has disappeared. The modern Becky's character is that she is a coldPall Mall Gazette is not edited from blooded, good-natured woman, swayed Holloway nor do distinguished authors by no feeling except self-interest. drink brandy and water in cider cellars. Even that charming writer Mr. So the writer has to seek relief from Street who, by the way, would not be his blameless suburb in a riot of print nearly so charming if he had not read recalling the “daring essay in defence Mr. Thackeray, affects to find him of suicide" by Pendennis's contempo- "Parochial.” It is almost incredible rary at Oxbridge. One has less sym- that an author of Mr. Street's distincpathy with those who ought to know tion should so write of the creator of better.
Barry Lyndon and Esmond. One reOnly the other day, Mr. Bernard grets to find Mr. Whibley among the Shaw said, in his courteous way, detractors. His recent “Oposcule” (as Thackeray was
Mr. Shaw's "Thunder and small beer" has it) on position is of course a difficult one; he Mr. Thackeray contains, as one would is a genius and a genius in an age of expect, some admirable criticism, but stress and hustle. It would be un- is tainted with the sentimental heresy. reasonable to expect him to rely for Vanity Fair, we are told, spoilt berecognition on some entertaining, if cause it has a moral. "If he had suprather inhuman, plays. Insistent gen- pressed the sentiment which ever rose ius demands more immediate attention, up in his heart, Vanity Fair might bave and to insult one of the greatest fig. been as a-moral as The Way of the ures in English literature certainly World, and what a masterpiece it achieves it.. Mr. Bernarà Shaw, how would have been," and almost as unever, would have been wiser if he had readable one may add. not given his reasons. There were two Then he objects to the author play--one, that Mr. Thackeray would not ing the part of chorus and especially have liked Mr. Bernard Shaw (which to his moralizing—he is accused of seems hardly conclusive); the other, "forgetting the impartiality of the arthat Mr. Thackeray sympathized with tist and taking sides against his own his weak characters whereas Dickens characters." But why must an artist did not. One does not quite follow be impartial? It is a pure assumption. why sympathy is not for the weak, but The partiality of Thackeray is a conto cite Dickens in such case is merely cession to the actuality of his people. to talk nonsense. When one thinks of To reader and author alike they are Tom Pinch, Little Nell and her grand- so alive it is impossible to be indifferfather, poor Smike and the meekness ent to their actions—and therefore, in of Oliver, the falseness of the point is logical sequence, to withhold praise or apparent. Then Mr. George Moore blame.
The best criticism I have heard of seems as if an occult power were movMr. Thackeray's works was, oddly ing the pen." When asked once by a enough, my introduction to them. young lady to allow Ethel to marry Years ago, in a certain house library Clive Newcome, he said, “Characters at Eton, some boys were discussing, once created lead me and I follow and I need hardly say, adversely, the where they direct; I cannot tell the books in it, and one of them, pointing events which await Ethel and to the green volumes of Mr. Thackeray Clive.” He is such a creator, he gives said, “Fancy anybody buying stuff like independent life. that," to which another said, indig- There is one thing one must not lose nantly, "They are very good books." sight of in considering Mr. Thackeray's "What are they about,” he was asked. works—that he never wrote a novel "About people,” he said. Like Mr. until he was thirty-seven. It explains Pickwick's famous remark the their melancholy. Few of us keep management of crowds, "volumes many illusions after thirty-five, and could not say more.” They are about his thirty-five years had not been withpeople-live people—uncannily alive-it out their tragedy. It was a shock to is almost impossible to believe they all of us when we read a few years haven't actual existence. I declare, ago that Mrs. Thackeray was dead, when I saw Vanity Fair on the stage, but to those to whom she was so much I was almost frightened when our old she had been lost for over fifty years. friends came on. Yes, you may dis- Yet he writes years after, “Though like the books, you may criticize their my marriage was a wreck, I would do philosophy and methods, but never it over again, for behold, love is the were books written whose characters crown and completion of all earthly were so full of red blood.
good.” Until he wrote Vanity Fair This explains the lack of form which outside the actual world of letters he we find in Mr. Thackeray's books—it was almost unknown. It is astonishis the difference between talent and ing that a man who had then done genius. Talent may produce good work such admirable work should obtain so out of materials of knowledge and in- little recognition. When we think that tellect, master of its medium it keeps at that time he had written the Yellow itself well in hand; genius knows no Plush Papers, had given to the world calculation surrendering itself entirely the satire of the Book of Snobs, the to the influence of unknown powers, tenderness of the Hoggarty Diamond, has as little control over its works as the grim Catherine and the magnificent a prophet over his inspiration. This is irony of Barry Lyndon, to say nothing why all the greatest geniuses are form- of delightful gems of Humor in Fraser less-Dickens, Balzac and Thackeray. and Colburn's Magazine, one can almost This is why the moderns, academically understand his diffidence when he was correct, leave us so cold. Over-atten- engaged upon the strongest novel in tion to form is always a sign of the English literature. second-rate in literature and art.
Talking at Brighton to Miss Smith, What does Mr. Thackeray himself the daughter of Rejected Addresses, he say about it: he says somewhere, “I said referring to Vanity Fair which had have no idea where it all comes from. not then a name, "I wonder if this will I have never seen the people I describe take, the publishers acoept it and the or heard the conversation I put down; world read it." A name was at last I am often astonished myself to read found-so good a name that as he told it when I have got it on paper. It Miss Perry when it came to him in the