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degradation of their opponents. Our in many cases the duty-of serving only feeling of degradation is, that we the country to the uttermost of their have been forced into collision with abilities, there is little in the life of a such miserable condottieri, who, never Cabinet Minister, or even an inferior having felt a generous emotion them- member of the Government, to make selves, cannot appreciate one in others. it desirable. That man of public mark But we must look a little more closely and ability, who can, with a safe than this. The motive of such men conscience, decline entering into the usually lies deeper than the surface, turmoil of political life, may account for there are profound schemers among himself most happy. It is not only them; and, if we mistake not grievous- the sacrifice of his domestic leisure and ly, we shall be able to detect some quiet which is required of bim, but trace, at least, of their real object, too often that of those objects which which, as we have already said, is to from boyhood he may have regarded pave the way for the introduction of as constituting the happiness and glory revolutionary schemes.
of his future life, and which he must Their wish is to bring the Ministry now abandon so soon as he enters the into contempt, by getting them, in dreary field of politics. But the some way or other, to avow a funda- charge is absolutely untrue. Here mental change of opinion. Of that, are the words of Lord Derby, recalling no diligent peruser of the organs of what absolutely did take place during public opinion, who understands the last Session, when Ministerial explaprivate history of the press, can enter- nations were required : “On the tain a doubt. For the last month or great question involved in those printwo the favourite artifice has been ciples, without disguising my opinions, to impress upon the agricultural con- I declared, for myself and for those stituencies the notion that they were who did me the honour of acting with “ betrayed.” For this end no exer- me-I will not say whether the detion has been spared. It is somewhat claration was wise or unwise, worthy startling to read in journals, which, a or unworthy of a British Minister — year ago, were full of sneers, or worse but I declared I should be guided by than sneers, touching “the agricul- the sense which the community at tural mind,"
" " the Hawbuck tenden- large might express through its reprecies,”
,” “the horse-shoe impressions," sentatives, and that I should not and "the chivalry of the smock-frock," bring forward any measure in accordlong articles, protesting to the said ance with my own views, if I found Hawbucks that their cause has been that it was not supported by a large infamously betrayed—that Lord Der- majority of the country, for I thought by (who, being a Minister at the timethat the question ought to be finally refused to go along with Peel in his closed at the earliest period.” If no rapid change of opinion) is influenced such statement had been made by, now by exceeding lust of power—that or on the part of Lord Derby, his some of the leading gentlemen in Eng- supporters might, undoubtedly, have land have been engaged in a conspiracy had good reason now to object to his to keep up agitation for the most paltry acquiescence in a policy to which and selfish purposes; and a deal more they were thoroughly opposed. In to the same effect. Now, in some that case, there might have been at cases, we believe, these articles are least a plausible pretext for preferring written conscientiously enough. The this charge of treachery. But Lord able authors are merely judging of Derby had nothing to conceal. His others by themselves. They, too, language was as unequivocal as that have their ambition; but they are of man could be ; and every elector peculiarly liable to form a totally false throughout the country was aware, estimate of that position which they that upon the issue of that contest the suppose to be so enviable, that they predominance of one or other of the do not hesitate to assume that men great principles depended. From first would make any sacrifice, even of their to last, we recognise in the conduct of honour, to retain it. Very little, in- Lord Derby nothing save that indeed, do they know of public life. flexible sense of duty which is so Apart from the honourable ambition eminently characteristic of the man. Summoned to conduct the govern- den tells us, at his especial request, ment of this great country at the without perceiving at a glance that it crisis when the Whigs had confessed is intended less to secure the continothemselves to be absolutely incom- ance of Free Trade, than to embarrass petent to the task, his first business her Majesty's Ministers. On the was to consider how the government other hand, the amendment of which could be carried on. Between the the Chancellor of the Exchequer has supporters of the Free-Trade, and given notice, is a frank and free dethose of the Protective principle, claration of the course which Ministhere was still a large difference of ters are resolved to pursne ; for it opinion. It was necessary, therefore, declares "that unrestricted competithat one or other should give way. tion being adopted after due deliberaIn a matter of so much moment as tion, is the principle of our commercial this, what wiser, better, or more con- system. This House is of opinion it stitutional course could be adopted is the duty of Government unrethan the appeal to the country which servedly to adhere to that policy on was made in the course of the by- those measures of financial and adgone summer? Of the strict pro. ministrative reform which, under the priety of such a course we are fully circumstances of the country, they convinced by the experience of the may deem it their duty to introduce. ** last few years; for we hesitate not to Not one of the Radicals, whatever say, that had a late deceased Minister may be the language they hold, has allowed the sense of the country to the slightest apprehension that anyhave been taken at the time when he thing will be done subversive of the first avowed his own change of Free-Trade principle. They are chaopinion, a very great deal of the sub- grined, and even disappointed, that sequent agitation would have been the contest has not lasted longer, bespared. He did not do so, and it is cause their game has always been to to that circumstance mainly that the array classes in hostile opposition to delay in the final settlement of the one another, so that, by engendering question must be ascribed. Now, suspicion and discontent, they might however, it is settled, in so far as the better arrive at their aims. To any question of the kind can be. see the people happy and contented We are certainly entitled to retain is by no means the consummation of our doubts as to the wisdom of the hopes of your ardent Friend of the verdict, but we are bound to Liberty. On the contrary, he wishes acquiesce in it; for in a commercial to see them discontented, and does his country such as this, one fixed line best to make them so, for his is not a of policy must be adopted by the peaceful harvest. The suppression, Government, otherwise the whole af- therefore, of any great element of fairs of the nation would fall into party strife, is to such a man a seriinextricable confusion. But it is said ous loss; because it lessens materially on the other side—“You who were the his chance of provoking agitation for strenuous opponents of that commercial ulterior measures. And in order that policy have no right to adopt it.” Is it may not be supposed that we are it the wish of those who use such writing vaguely, or sketchingout views language that the agitation should be for our opponents which exist only in further prolonged ? Or do they mean our own imagination, we shall refer simply to say that acquiescence in specially to the oration of Mr John any great national arrangement is Bright, delivered at the Manchester not enough, but that the acquiescing banquet. We are always glad when party, though otherwise the most Mr Bright appears as a speaker, becapable and powerful, is for ever to cause he is not gifted with much of be debarred from taking an active that systematic caution which other share in the conduct of political agitators display, and is apt, in his affairs ? It would appear almost as fervour, to give us some interesting if the latter view were that entertained glimpses of the future as it appears to by the extreme section of the Radi- his prophetical eyes. In particular, cals ; for we cannot read Mr Villiers' when speaking from the same platnotice of motion, made, as Mr Cob- form as Mr Cobden, he invariably
tries to outstrip that democratic cham- broad foundations of a free Parliament pion. He has not yet forgotten the and a free people !" is testimonial," of which, probably, After separating the chaff from the with some reason, he thinks he ought grain, and setting aside the mere rheto have received a share; and, accord- torical common-places, Mr Bright's ingly, he never loses an opportunity of argument, in so far as we can compreoutbidding the other in popularity. hend it, appears to be this : If it was On this last occasion he was pecu- wise to remove the Corn Laws in liarly vehement; and, strange to say, 1846, it was unwise to have imposed the vials of his indignation were them in 1815; and all the while that poured upon the House of Commons. they lasted, an act of injustice was His views are worth attending to. committed. If the House of Com
“The fact is that, as an industrial mons had been a properly constituted people, we carry the aristocracy on body, the Corn Laws would have our backs. Under your representa- been long ago repealed. But such tive system, Manchester, Glasgow, was not the case; therefore, the and Birmingham are dwarfed in the House of Commons is a sham and an House of Commons to the size of imposture, and “it is our duty”Harwich, Thetford, and Totness, and that of Bright & Co.-"to wrest a real the whole population, and all the House of Commons from a haughty electors of these three boroughs, are nobility." The objection to the prevery much smaller-nay, do not even sent House of Commons is that it is approach near-to the population of too slow and deliberative: Mr Bright a single ward in this borough of Man- wishes to see legislation proceed with chester. I am of opinion that where the speed of a high-pressure engine. there are population, industry, wealth, We are not called upon to argue that and intelligence, if we have a free point now; nor need we remind Mr constitution at all, there must be Bright that it was from that very idenpower; and if this be not granted, tical Manchester, in which he was then, I say, that our constitution is a speaking, that the cry for protection sham, and our representation is an in favour of native manufactures first imposture. I am not anxious that proceeded. We accept his words as we should have other great move- a clear indication of the ulterior obments for great objects. I myself jects of himself and his party, of have had so much of political agi- which they do not intend to lose sight; tation, that nothing but the most and such being the case, we can easily imperative and overwhelming sense comprehend why the final settlement of public duty would induce me to of the question, by the abandonment connect myself with anything farther of further debate, is anything but of the kind; but I do believe that we agreeable to the secret junta of Manowe it to posterity, as to ourselves, chester. In the first place, they have that we should learn a lesson from at present nothing which they can this great movement which is about hold up as a practical grievance to to terminate ; and that we ought, if justify their aggressive designs. We we can, during our generation, to are rather inclined to think, from the make the course of our children, and of tendency of certain late exhibitions by their children, easier in procuring such their active pioneer, Mr Bright, that political ameliorations and changes as the Established Church of England the circumstances of the country may will be selected as their first object of require. The patriotism of our day attack; but that enterprise may prove does not consist in the destruction of a difficult one, and it has not as yet monarchies or the change of dynasties. been declared. In the second place, Our fathers wrested the institution they now see, pretty plainly, that a of an annual Parliament from un- permanent union with the Whigs is willing and despotic monarchs. Be out of the question. That only could it ours-and I speak to those who can have been effected in consequence of do it if we will it-be it ours to wrest a protracted resistance to Free Trade, a real House of Commons from a in which case the Manchester party haughty nobility, and to secure the would have been entitled to make, lasting greatness of this nation on the and would probably have made, their conditions. The two bodies were several cries of " hear, bear!" may often act in concert while in op- from dunderheads who put a literal position, but they cannot be brought construction on everything. Bat our to amalgamate. Some of the Whig wary friend was not to be entrapped chiefs might possibly be induced to into a broad declinature of office. waive their objections, but there are “ Not," continued he, " that I think, others who are steadfastly and vehe- where people can hold office, and hold mently opposed to any such ill- their own convictions too, it is not a omened conjunction. Therefore, the most honourable and desirable postonly available side-door to power is a post which gives men great power closed against the Radicals ; and deep to do good." And with this delicate and poignant is their wrath accord- hint to the Whigs that, if wanted, ingly. Hear Mr Bright once more, they knew where to find him, Mr but this time in a sarcastic mood- Cobden passed from the interesting assign the reasons why he is not in topic. But there is a third reason office.
why the Radicals think it expedient, if 6. But the fact is, that we are not they can, to prevent the Ministry from statesmen. We are cotton-spinners, developing their measures. Their own and manufacturers, and bleachers, leaders have lost caste, even with the and printers, and shopkeepers, and great body of those who were in traders of all kinds, and professional favour of the Free-Trade policy. Mr men. We are not statesmen, and we Cobden's speeches regarding the rehave never pretended to be so. In duction of the army, the dimination this country there has been a great of the navy, and the absurdity of gulf fixed between all those interested supposing that any European power in industry and the paths of states- could think, forone moment, of molestmanship; and though we were right ing England, are not forgotten. The fourteen years ago, and have been nation now sees its danger; and right on this question ever since- the absurd and offensive arrogance of though three Cabinets have been his former harangues, in one of which wrong, and one of them has not yet he absolutely offered to take the whole put itself right-it is to be held that responsibility of an invasion upon we are not statesmen, and that those himself, provided his preposterous men only who could not see what notions were carried into effect, has was simply right on this great, funda- damaged most seriously what amount mental, all-absorbing question, are of reputation he had acquired. And entitled to describe, and to carry out, so it is with others. Their own the political policy of the nation. We vanity leads them to think that they have not hereditary brains."
would make most admirable adminis. It is rather new to us, who remem- trators of public affairs; bat nobody ber the instances of Peel and Glad- else thinks so, and their aspirations stone, to be told that there is a great are not likely to be realised. The gulf fixed between all those interested future of the Manchester men is unin industry and the paths of states- doubtedly bound up with the organimanship; but we suppose that some sation of an overbearing democracy, license of language must be allowed but we have no belief that such orto an irritated man. Mr Cobden does ganisation is within their power. At not look upon the case-perhaps we present their game is to be factiousought rather to say, his case-as so to impede, as much as in them lies, hopeless. He rather flirts with the
the progress of every Government, in subject. “I confess," says lie, “I the hope that, by creating confusion, won't be chargeable with such trans- they may at least advance their aims. parent hypocrisy as to affect the And their measure of success in this modesty of not being able to be as will depend greatly upon the part good a Cabinet Minister as some half- which the Whigs may take in this score gentlemen now in office. I hope preliminary struggle. it will not be supposed that I have We call it preliminary, because we any ambition to fill any such office. do not believe that for any purely, I have no such desire." 'At this point, factious resolution of the House of as we gather from the report, there Commons will the Earl of Derby
abandon that trust which bas been any resolution of the House of Comreposed in him by his Sovereign. mons proposed, calling upon him to Ministers, we repeat, have nothing to state his conviction that the change do with the past. Their duty may in the representative system had been be to give a distinct declaration of the of enormous advantage to the nation. principle upon which they intend to This motion of Mr Villiers, in the act-their duty is to lay measures, face of a clear declaration on the part founded upon that principle, before of the Ministry as to the policy by Parliament. But as to the vindica- which they are to be guided, is sometion of the principle itself, what is tbing totally new in English history, that but an old debate again revived Applied to Ministers it is entirely unwithout effect-a palpable absurdity constitutional. A vote may indeed and loss of time without any corres- be taken of want of confidence in ponding advantage? Let us suppose Ministers on account of something that Mr Villiers' motion were to be which they have done in their official met with a direct negative, and that character; but we have yet to learn the amendment were carried. What that a vote of want of confidence can would that imply? An impression, be taken, before they have had an possibly, on the part of a majority of opportunity of doing anything at all. the House of Commons, that the im. This is by no means an unimportant proved condition of the country had juncture in our parliamentary and not being owing to the act of 1846, constitutional history. If the House but nothing more. It certainly would of Commons has the power of neganot imply that the act should be re- tiving a Ministry, not upon any dispealed; and really such discussions tinct point of policy, but upon an relating solely to the past, and having abstract opinion, a very large portion no direct reference to the future, can- of the Royal prerogative is surrennot be held to fall properly within the dered. The theory is, that the Soveprovince of the House of Commons. reign acts through her Ministers, If otherwise, that assembly would whom she selects — those proposed virtually become a tribunal for set- Acts, the House of Commons may tling nice historical points, and deter- either accept or condemn; but we mining by vote the exact measure of never heard of a test being proposed, the wisdom of our ancestors. Mr before action, relative to an existing Villiers assumes as a premiss “ that law, which bad received the sanction the condition of the country, and of the Sovereign, and which it was especially of the industrial classes," not proposed to repeal. has improved. That is liable to We shall not venture to predicate challenge. The condition of some the line which the Whig party, under branches of industry has improved, the command of Lord John Russell, while others certainly have not. Is may adopt. We only hope that it the House to pronounce, ex cathedrâ, will be creditable to them as supportan opinion upon this, without hearing ers of our broad constitutional prinevidence ? Mr Disraeli's amendment, ciples. For it is neither their interest, undoubtedly, supposing the term nor ours, nor that of any well-wisher “working classes” to be taken in its of the stability of Great Britain, to ordinary acceptation, comes far nearer give countenance to the insidious the mark, and is more expressive approach of faction at the present than the vague phrase of the other. time. What we write is purely But why should there have been speculative; because, before these any discussion at all? The Ministry pages can issue from the press, the are willing to accept Free Trade as debate, in all human probability, will a principle-have so declared them- be over ; but we do confess a hopeful selves – and said, moreover, that feeling that, for his own sake, Lord all their measures shall be framed John Russell will not identify himself in adherence to that policy. What in the present instance with these
can_be required of them ? proceedings of the Democratic FacWhen Sir Robert Peel first accepted tion. office after the passing of the Reform But we have another observation Bill, we are not aware that there was to make regarding Mr Villiers' VOL. LXXII. -NO. CCCCXLVI.