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motion. It commences thus : “That but we cannot, for the life of us, anit is the opinion of this House that derstand how it can be traced to the the improved condition of the country, operation of the Act of 1846. It is, and especially of the industrious moreover, remarkable, that the inclasses, is mainly the result of recent provement takes place just at the time legislation, and especially of the Act when the imports of foreigo grain are of 1846, for the free admission of diminishing - a circumstance which foreign corn." Now, when was the might very well afford the foundation commencement of this improved con- for a strong argument the other way. dition ?
But if it be true, as we say it is, that, It is admitted on all hands, even by until the commencement of the present the most ardent Free-Traders, that year at the earliest, neither trade nor the year 1851 was almost without a manufactures were in a satisfactory parallel for commercial depression and condition, how is it possible to connect disaster. In Glasgow, Liverpool, or their revival now with the Act of Bristol, there is not a man engaged in 1846? That the working classes have trade who cannot give distinct evi- benefited by the cheapness of food, dence as to this ; and the depression there is no doubt whatever ; but that continued over the earlier part of the is not Mr Villiers' meaning. He present year. 1850 will long be re- obviously intends that his motion membered for the depression in ma- shall have a wider scope, and embrace nufactures ; to account for which, as interests, in the condition of which, our readers may remember, the Free- twelve months ago, there were no Traders were sorely perplexed. An signs of improvement visible. able correspondent of ours, writing in The amendment, on the other hand, April last, after showing " that the appears to us unchallengeable in point mercantile and trading interests were of fact. Beyond doubt the condition left poorer, at the close of the year of the working classes has been in1851, than they were at its commence- proved, and their comforts increased, ment, by twenty millions sterling and by the cheapness of provisions, occaupwards," thus very clearly and suc- sioned by "recent legislation ; but cinctly described the amount of bene- further than that we cannot go. And fit which has accrued to the country: we must say this, that, in the face of " Where, in the face of these facts, such depression as is allowed on all can be the prosperity' of which the hands to have existed so very recently, Free-Trader has been drawing such the House of Commons will take a glowing pictures ? It is not gladden- most extraordinary and unprecedented ing the eyes of the merchant and im- step, if they adopt the resolution porter. It has not rewarded the en- which Mr Villiers wishes them to terprise of the shipowner. It has not accept without a searching inquiry. filled the pockets of the small trader Their vote will not make that trde or the shopkeeper. The mill-owner which is wholly false, but it may and the manufacturer have not only have the effect of lessening their agnot felt it, but I am confident that the gregate reputation for sagacity in a majority of this class have suffered country wherein every man conversant severely, as the result of the year's with commercial affairs can form his operations. The labourer and the own conclusions. artisan, with the men of fixed money This singular anxiety, on the part incomes, have been the only parties of the Radicals, to get a sort of Parbenefited by the cheapness of the past liamentary ratification and approval year.” If these things are facts, not of an act in force and unmolested, fictions, it will necessarily follow that leads us sometimes to suspect that the improvement to which Mr Villiers they themselves are not quite at ease alludes, in so far as the greatest as to the working of their favourite branches of industry within the coun- measure. If they believe (which we try are concerned, can only date at hope they do, seeing that they are so the earliest from the commencement anxious to obtain the assent of the of the present year! That there is House of Commons) that there is a considerable improvement since then, distinct and intimate connection bewe are exceedingly glad to believe ; tween the present improved condition
of the country and the Act of 1846, Prime Minister, Sir Joshua Walmsthere is no conceivable use for the ley Chancellor of the Exchequer, present motion. Regard it in what Mr Cobden Secretary for the Fo. view we may, we cannot resist the reign Department, M'Gregor Preconclusion that it is a purely factious sident of the Board of Trade, Mr assault, founded upon no patriotic Bernal Osborne Home Secretary, motive, but intended to embarrass, Bright Secretary at War, Keogh at and, if possible, defeat Ministers in the Colonies, Kershaw Master of the the commencement of their career. Horse, and Lucas Secretary for Ire
Faction has been well portrayed as land! That would, indeed, be a blind, for it never calculates conse- glorious day for the bears upon Esquences. We can readily understand change! In such an event one might the case of a growing party in the certainly, as Falstaff says, “ buy land State, strong in the sense of its power, as cheap as stinking mackerel," and its intelligence, and its popularity, other securities besides. Even in the under able leaders and in perfect orga- view that a coalition could be effected nisation, giving early battle to the between a certain section of the Whigs supporters of another policy, whose and the Radicals, and something like vacillating and feeble movements be- a competent Ministry in point of trayed their inherent weakness. But talent and respectability formed in every such case which has hitherto what would be the result ? · An imoccurred, the object was to win the mediate attempt to force organic field of battle, and to keep it. The changes—whirlwind legislation, such assaulting army contemplated not as Mr Bright contemplates, directed only victory, but occupation, and for against those portions of our national that contingency they were prepared. institutions which hitherto have been We certainly know nothing of the accounted most sacred; a long period councils of our political opponents, of violent internal commotion, and but nothing has transpired to make that, too, at a time when our utmost us suppose that Lord John Russell, or vigilance is required to provide against any other chief in opposition, is able external danger. What a triumph to form an efficient Ministry, or com- to those who detest liberal and conmand a Parliamentary majority, if stitutional government is conveyed in Lord Derby were to resign to-morrow. the fact, that, the very week after the Our own belief is that no such Minis- great champion and peacemaker of try could be found : certain of this England had been laid in his tomb we are, that few men of intelligence with national honours and lamentain the country, beyond mere partisans, tion, the Parliament of Britain should are desirous of witnessing the experi- assemble, not to discuss measures at a ment. The old Whig party is in a crisis foretold by the warning voice of worse position than it was when Lord the deceased, but to brangle about John Russell left office. Without a the words of a motion relative to a clear coalition with the Radicals, bygone act of the Legislature, which they could hardly construct a Ministry, it was not proposed to disturb! And certainly not conduct with credit the yet this act of insensate folly may be public business of the country; and supported by those who ought to have we have already stated our reasons known better - by men who have for thinking that no such coalition been Ministers ere now, and who will take place. One man of versatile hope to be Ministers again ; but who, ability they have apparently gained, in acting thus, and in making themand that is Sir James Graham; but selves the slaves of faction, most his accession will not make up for the grievously endanger the honour and loss of Lord Palmerston and Sir the reputation of their names. George Grey. The Radicals, we We care very little what construcdoubt not, believe that they could tion may be placed upon our remarks ; form a government; but nobody and we care the less, because, as we else believes it. We can almost have already said, the House of Comfancy that we see the consternation mons will probably have adjudicated in the City, on the morning on which on the matter before this Number of it is declared that Joseph Hume is the Magazine can issue from the press. That circumstance will at nion, taught by experience, may naleast save us from the charge of un- dergo a remarkable change with redue partisanship. But we do con- gard to this important question. And fess that we feel at the present time though that remark may excite from an anxiety far beyond that which we our opponents an emphatic response have felt for many years. Impressed of “Never!” we would pray them to by a strong sense of the wrong which remember that their triumph has we conceived to be done to the been mainly owing to circumstances agricultural interest of Britain by altogether beyond. human control. the violent change which was ef. But we have no wish to revive confected some six years ago — and troversy. That the country may be not less impressed with the convic- prosperous under the accepted policy tion, that the method by which is our earnest hope and prayer; and the change was carried was not it would very ill become us to assume in accordance with what ought to a tone of stubborn dogmatism on a be the honourable course of an Eng subject which, as we have already lish statesman—we have fought the said, has assumed an altered aspect battle to the last, with what ability within a very short time, from causes we could command. Even now, which were not and could not be taking circumstances as they were anticipated by the wisdom of man. in 1846, we can acknowledge no We await, with much anxiety, the change of opinion. With a restricted announcement of the Ministerial meacurrency, causing periodical commer- sures. These will, as a matter of cial convulsions, and an enormous course, be subjected to the most rigid debt, which necessitated the collection scrutiny, and we may be sure that of a prodigious revenue, we could not an opposition so recklessly commenced conceive how the industry of this will not be allowed to slumber. One country would be able to cope, on section of the Liberal party, with a equal terms, with the comparatively selfishness which really requires conuntaxed products of other more fa- siderable hardihood to acknowledge, voured countries. Since then, some have avowed their determination to portion of the difficulty has been re- oppose any measure which may be moved, by means which certainly calculated directly or indirectly to were not contemplated by the authors afford any relief to the suffering inof the legislative measures of 1846. terests of the country. These gentleThe discovery of the gold-fields has men do not even pretend to respect operated until now, and may operate the ordinary rules of justice. They still farther, if no insidious attempt is have abrogated the Corn Laws, bat made to deprive the nation of the they will not consent to remove or benefit, as a virtual abrogation of even to mitigate one of the peculiar those wretched currency laws, which burdens which was laid upon the have been the curse of Britain since landed interest, in respect of the they were enacted, but which not existence of those laws. It is of no many could be brought to understand. use demonstrating to them, that you Even now, the effects of that discovery might with equal justice deprive a seem to be unappreciated by members man of half bis income, and yet conof the British Legislature. A motion tinue to levy from him the same like that of Mr Villiers, which ex- amount of direct taxation as before. cludes all notice of the most memor- They will hear nothing of adjustment able fact, financially speaking, which of taxation ; and no wonder, because, has taken place since the mines of the as matters stand at present, they do New World were first laid open to not contribute their fair share to the the search of the Old, argues the most public burdens of the country. They consummate ignorance of all that re- act, and glory in it, upon the old lates to the working of the monetary marauding principle that “miglit is system. But, making every allowance right ;” and they say, that belongfor this unexpected relief, our faith in ing to a peculiar class, and representthe soundness of the protective policy ing a particular interest, they will remains unshaken. The day may care for it, and it only, irrespective 'not be far distant when public opi- of every other. It is highly discredi
table to the age that language such into other hands. But, above all as this should be tolerated by any things, it is needful that discord auditory without marks of distinct re- should cease at home. Awful is the probation. It amounts to a broad and responsibility which those will incur plain acknowledgment that the public who lend their countenance and aid wealis not to be regarded when opposed to faction, at a time when foreign to private interest—a sentiment cer- events of great significance have at tainly the reverse of patriotic, and last aroused the nation from its equally opposed to the leading dogmata lethargic torpor, and dissipated the of republicanism. But all that matters dream of fancied security in which nothing. As in commercial specula- we had so long indulged. Possibly tion no man cares for his brother, the aların may not be followed by but rather tries if possible to outwit any corresponding aggression, for a him, so do some of our commercial wakeful and watchful policy will ever legislators maintain that all tricks are be found the best safeguard against allowable in politics as well as trade, outward attacks; but for the mainand that the game of “Beggar my tenance of peace we have evidently neighbour "
may be fitly played in no security. And very blind we Parliament. It requires no searching must be if we cannot read, in the late glance to discover in this the symp- history of France, a lesson of the toms of profound demoralisation; but most emphatic warning against a dewe should wrong the Legislature, and mocratic movement. Mr Bright and even the Liberal party, were we to his fellows are using just now, though assume that even a considerable por perhaps unconsciously, the very same tion of them sympathised with so language which, from the mouths of sordid an avowal. There may be, the French democrats, led to the and there is, great difference of subversion of the monarchy, the opinion, both as to the extent of disorganisation of society, the dethe clainis for relief which may be struction of credit, and the reign of urged on the part of any interest in the barricades. And what has folthe country wbich has suffered under lowed ? Slaughter, rapine, almost recent legislation, and as to the civil war, the suppression of the nature of the means which ought to liberty of the press, and the reign be applied remedially. These are of a military dictator. Is it to acfair subjects of discussion, and we complish such ends as these that we trust they will be discussed in a be- are asked to change our system, to give coming spirit ; but, looking to the increased rapidity to the deliberations speeches which have already ema- of our senate, or rather to dispense nated from Manchester, we must be with any deliberation at all—to infuse prepared for a violent opposition to more of the popular element, as it is every measure which has a tendency called, into our institutions; to trust to heal the sores which the recent to the “instinct” of the masses of the differences have engendered. It is in nation, and not to the calm judgment these discussions that the element of of its wisest and its best? Never has patriotism, where it exists, must show democracy, though rebuked by Proviitself in opposition to the blind at- dence wherever it has reared its head, tacks of faction. Surely the welfare experienced a more signal rebuke than and the tranquillity of the country is in this latest instance of France. It a matter of far greater moment than is of no avail that the men who were any party triumph; surely it would themselves the chief instigators of the be wise to reconcile classes which movement, rail in their exile against have been arrayed in opposition, not that tyranny which was the inevitable to irritate those who are still smart- consequence of their misdeeds. Blind ing under a sense of recent injury. with faction, they could not see what Let the Ministry be judged by its they were doing—they could not peracts and its measures. If the latter ceive that each step made towards are not such as the country has good pure democracy was subversive of reason to expect, or of which it can the nation's liberties. Long indeed conscientiously approve, then the reins may it be before our country, blessed of government must necessarily pass with national liberty and free institutions, shall be led, by the instigation guarded position ; but there is a vast of demagogues, to plunge into a simi- difference between that and a delilar chaos.
berate and preconcerted attack made, Where there are demagogues, fac- not for any real public end, bat simtion is of course to be found. It is ply for the purposes of molestation. therefore not to be wondered at if it It remains yet to be seen how this should show its head amongst us; but debate will be conducted, and how it it is the duty of every well-wisher of will terminate. For ourselves we the country to do his utmost to keep have no hesitation in characterising it down. It is far less open faction this as a deliberate factious effort, that we fear, than that kind of it and not as a fair and legitimate party which makes its approach under the movement ; because we are unable to more respectable name of party. see any absolute advantage wbich Many men who would shrink from could be gained by any party or any being broadly factious, and who would principle by the adoption of Mr Vilindignantly deny the charge, do ne- liers' motion. If it is simply intended vertheless commit faction by trusting as a censure upon Protectionists, it is implicitly to their leaders, and by senseless and out of place. It has no treading diligently in their footsteps. proper reference to future policy, apart For even the leaders, when they act from the amendment; because ibat from what has very aptly been termed is as clearly expressed in the one as " mixed motives," are not unfre- in the other. It gives no further secrquently driven into faction, their own rity for the continuance of the present hearts too often deceiving them as to system of commercial policy, than is the purity of their conduct. There accorded by the general acquiescence are many temptations in the way of of the nation, and the direct declaraa politician ; and perhaps that man tion of Ministers. In a word, it is would be more than mortal who did factious; and, as such, we sincerely not occasionally feel an impulse to trust that it will not receive the sandtake advantage of an adversary's un- tion of the House of Commons.