Imatges de pÓgina

pasť ; that a greater contest has now begun; and that they have been saved by placing themselves at the head of one of the great contending interests. The people, as a body, are now banded together to obtain good government. They fight not now in the character of partisans of the aristocracy; this ignorant herd for the Whigs, that other equally ignorant for the Tories; but they fight for themselves. The war is declared between the people on the one hand, and those who maintain old abuses on the other. The result of the contest is certain. The people will triumph ; but they have a hard battle yet to go through. If the ministers will frankly put themselves at the head of this national movement, they are safe ; let them hesitate or palter but an instant, and their doom is sealed.

If any one will attentively consider the nature of the objects now generally sought by those who take part in political matters, he will not fail to perceive that this is the true character of the contest. The Reform Bill has been sought only as a means, as a step to further reforms; reforms as well in the frame of our government, that which is usually termed the constitution, as in the various laws which emanate from the legislature for our general guidance. The first grand object now so constantly insisted on, viz. the Ballot,—whiat does that aim at ? The placing the control of the legislature completely in the hands of the people ; which signifies (using a converse expression) taking the government out of the hands of those who now hold it, viz, the aristocracy. Why is there so general a demand for popular instruction, but that the people understand that to be strong they must be instructed? They know that ignorance has been the great friend of misrule, of those who have thriven by misrule; again the aristocracy. What is the general attack now made upon all monopolies but a part of that universal war declared against all privileges unjustly usurped from the people. The attack against monopolies is, in fact, an attack against that portion of misrule which results from creating trading aristocracies ; these being among the worst branches of a very bad fraternity. The cry for law reform, for a reduction of taxation, for a general revision of the church establishment, are also important portions of this same great contest: the people being resolved, that law, religion, and office generally, shall be employed for legitimate purposes, viz. the good of the nation ; and not as they hitherto have been, as fruitful sources of revenue to an idle and dissi. pated aristocracy. Party watchwords are not now used : in every case, the things implied being deemed the important matter, not the mere emotions which become connected with favourite phrases. Another peculiarity connected with this struggle, is, that no individuals are Bound up with it. It depends, not on this or that person for its success or favour. No one now amongst us is a popular idol, whom the multitude worship, and whose success is the great object of their endeavours. The men now in favour with the public are all, without one exception, thus favoured merely as useful means to the end ever constantly and definitely kept in view, viz., the attainment of good government. So long as they prove themselves useful to this end, so long are they popular; the moment that it is plain, that they are useless or mischievous, that moment they cease to engage the good will of the public. Some striking instances have been afforded, during the late contest, of rapid changes in public estimation, grounded on this principle of judging; and the gradual, but steadily progressive decline of the popularity

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Willenie Ministers during the latter part of the session, is another important illustration of the same state of feeling."

There are some, doubtless, who will take this occasion of making much of that hackneyed commonplace, the ingratitude of the people. We shall have our feelings appealed to, in behalf of the ill-used Ministry. It will be said that having rendered a great service to the people, they should have been rewarded by the confidence and gratitude of the nation. It will also be averred, that the populace are, as usual, fickle and untrustworthy; and, then, there will be much solemn nonsense talked, respecting the empty nature of popular favour, and the folly of desiring it. This talk would never have been engendered had a correct public morality been common among politicians and political writers. These persons have hitherto supposed themselves conferring favours, when they have been simply doing their duty. To the people, however, as a whole, they never seem to understand themselves as lying under any obligation. Had the case been a private one, had they become servants of a private person, and charged with a private trust, they would perceive, that to fulfil that trust was a matter of strict obligation on their part, and that their employer had a right to demand such performance : that to fail in the performance of their obligation was a criminal breach of duty: that merely not to fail in it, demanded no applause. Being employed by a private individual, would they, on performing part of their trust, claim the eternal gratitude of their employer, and demand immunity for all future dereliction? Would they consider their employer ungrateful, should he refuse to accede to such preposterous demands? Mr. Thompson, the haberdasher, has a foreman, who, during the first six months of his employment, behaves with care, diligence, and foresight. By this proper fulfilment of his duty, he puts the affairs of Mr. Thompson, which had hitherto been directed by a set of knavish servants, into somewhat better order ; but, during the seventh month of his employment, he becomes a drunkard, careless, and at length robs the till. Mr. Thompson wisely discharges him. Now fancy the discarded foreman thus eloquent against the ingratitude of the said Thompson. is another foul instance of a master's (popular) ingratitude. How weak is that foreman (Minister) who would seek to gain his master's (the people's) favour. To-day he basks in sunshine: to-morrow, on a sudden, come storms and terrible disasters. The idol of his master's (the people's) worship is cast down. The giddy, fickle master (people) treads into the dust the object of his former fondest smiles ; and with base ingratitude, and without a pang, consigns him to poverty and disgrace. &c. &c." We need not continue the oration further, In the case of Mr. Thompson, every one would scout the ranting knave; in that of the people, the self-same drivelling would be deemed pathetic eloquence. Some Mitford would be found to indulge in bitter reproach of democratic ingratitude, and to transform the recreant Minister into the unhappy victim of a people's folly. The conduct that in Mr. Thompson would gain him the character of a prudent master, would bring down unalloyed reproach on the demos of Athens, or the people of England.

The people of England, however, are luckily possessed of too much sense to be thus talked out of their intentions. They have determined

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• We shall immediately remark on the circumstances which led to the diminution of the Ministers' popularity.

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to obtain for themselves a good government, and to allow no one iv remain quietly in office who will not strenuously assist them in their purpose. They well know that names have nothing to do with the present contest. They understand that an enemy to good government can as easily be called a Whig as a Tory; and, moreover, they have a growing jealousy that all parties, formed from the Aristocracy, must possess aristocratic feelings, and, consequently, be opposed to the demands of the people. A very little want of straight-forwardness and zeal in their cause, will be sufficient to create in them distrust of Aristocratic leaders; and then the Ministers will, in their turn, discover the strength of popular opposition.

We may here be asked, why we thus indulge in these warnings, and, by our fears cast odium on the existing Ministry. Candidly, then, if we are compelled to confess, we, being of the people, feel as they do; ue are jealous and distrustful; and, moreover, believe that we can shew our fears not to be wholly groundless. The generality of mankind do not pay to political matters attention sufficient to enable them to anticipate a very distant future. Those, however, whose whole life is passed in political investigations, become far-sighted; and events appear to them certain, long before their accomplishment is dreamed of, by others less conversant. In the present case, however, we hardly precede the popular feeling. Distrust begins very distinctly to be entertained by the people at large; and we are doing no more than giving it expression. Let us not be misunderstood, and thus appear to speak contradictions. We must distinguish between the feelings of the people as regards government generally, and as regards the present Ministers particularly. The jealousy respecting aristocratic rule above spoken of, and the determination of the people to combat for themselves alone, and not for any party, is a feeling of some years standing. It has long been in existence, and often expressed. Here we are not in advance of the general opinion. Besides this general distrust, however, there has, within the last few months, been gradually arising a feeling of doubt as to the party now in power. This mistrust, though becoming general, is new ; it has not hitherto been stated in very express or definite terms; and therefore, to a certain extent, we may be said in this case to be somewhat in advance of the public. For the moment, we acknowledge the charge. We have looked with some care on political changes; have watched the signs by which they have been preceded and attended ; and, like experienced sailors, we can predict a storm some time before it actually occurs. In the conduct of the Ministers, there have appeared many circumstances of late of an exceedingly doubtful character. For these, various excuses have been advanced ; excuses which have now so often been called into play, that they also begin to be viewed with distrust. Their conciliation, as regards the enemies of the people, assumes the appearance of friendship, while their austerity towards the people themselves is very like bitter hostility; every where Tories are preferred to office, while liberal opinions are the sure means of disfavour. The desire of the nation to obtain good government is constantly thwarted by the machinations of their enemies thus placed in power ; and the supposed good intentions of the Ministers themselves rendered nought by the same means. Of what use are professions thus constantly belied ?

In support of these general assertions, it is easy to bring forward specific evidence.

The first circumstance to which we shall allude, is the case of Somer.


ville; and we do so because it evinces, in a remarkable manner, the conduct of the Government towards the Tories ; and the next in order will be the affair at Clitheroe, because that marks their conduct towards the people.

A private soldier chooses to write a letter on the subject of dispersing the people, and therein very properly expresses repugnance to the task of riding down and sabring his fellow-countrymen. For this offence, a pretext having been found, he is flogged.* By whom? By a Tory major. Thus we see the Tory party, when they have the power, flog one of the people for attempting to thwart their charitable purpose of slaughtering their fellow-citizens. No one can accuse them of a desire to conciliate, or any hesitation in following out their intentions. What do the Whigs,—they, who, for the time being, are the leaders of the people,—on this occasion? Do they resent the vengeance thus taken? do they punish the offender? No. They have a Court of Inquiry, formed of officers of the Major's way of thinking, who very coolly tell the Major he was a fool for letting out the real reason for fogging the private soldier ; but though they accuse him of folly, they say his honour is untouched, that he is as much a soldier and a gentleman as before. For aught we know, this may be true. In the code of a soldier and a gentleman it would seem that brutality is thought no blemish : acting as a judge and creating false pretences, is thought no crime. Really, after this code, Major Wyndham, we dare say, is a soldier and a gentleman. But did the Whig Ministry dismiss him ? No. The Tory Court of Inquiry having determined that the Tory delinquent had behaved only with a little indiscretion, there the matter as regarded the Major ended. But what happened to Somerville ? Why, he was permitted to buy his discharge, giving, it is said, £30 for the same ; but lest this friend of his class, this man w did not altogether like the Tory service of hunting his defenceless countrymen, lest this fellow should escape with impunity, a libel on his character is read at the head of the regi. ment. He is accused of sowing sedition among the troops. To say that you dislike cutting your neighbour's throat, riding down and trampling under foot his wife and children, is seditious. This, too, under the Ministry, who are a Ministry only because the people have been their friends. Lord Hill is the person who has enacted the latter part of this affair, and throughout he has been actively engaged in defeating the object of inquiry. We know, and defy any one to disprove what we assert, that some of the Ministers were honestly intent on having this matter sifted to the bottom. Sir John C. Hobhouse took immense pains to obtain the Court of Inquiry, and even went so far as

• It may be said that the sentence of the court disproved this assertion. We shall he plain-spoken on this occasion. The sentence of the court has had no such effect. No man of common sense doubts that Somerville was flogged because he wrote his famous letter ; and all the swearing to the contrary will never persuade any one that such was not the fact.

+ If Lord Hill, the author of this letter, had been Somerville, we suppose he would have received a second flogging on this occasion ; and certainly, if flogging be in any caso admissible, with justice. The Court of King's Bench would have permitted a criminal information to be filed against the libeller, should the actors change places. Would they do so now? Would they grant such a favour to Somerville against Lord Hill ? Certainly not. And yet we are said to live in a country where to the poor and the rich man the law is equal. Do we not live among a nation of hypocrites ?

to threaten a resignation unless it were granted. He also had to watch with the greatest care the composition of that court; and yet, in spite of his efforts, which were in the highest degree praiseworthy, he and the rest of the liberal portion of the Ministry were defeated. Why was this? Because they permit men like Lord Hill, men inimical to a liberal policy, to hold high and powerful offices among them. In answer to this, it is observed, that it is advisable not to mix up the affairs of the army with political matters. We care not how advisable this course may be ; what we assert is, that it is impossible. The army is a political machine ; it is maintained purely for political purposes ; and the mode of its employment is of the deepest import to the whole of the political affairs of this country. Did the Tories, when they were in power, consider it requisite to separate the army from the Government ? Did they employ for its guidance persons of principles opposed to their own? Never. Why, then, do the present Ministers retain such persons as Lord Hill? Here is a case in which they themselves had every desire to act properly, yet, from their absurd spirit of conciliation, have they incurred immense odium. They are generally believed to have shielded Major Wyndham ; to have wished to smother inquiry, and to have been careless as to the ill-treatment of the soldier. Yet we have every reason to believe, having evidence not before the public, that such was not the case, Lord Hill has been the real actor on the occasion, and has managed adroitly to throw the whole odium consequent on the transac. tion on the shoulders of the Ministers. If they be wise, and take warning from this instance, they will immediately rid themselves of the encumbrance of such a compeer as Lord Hill.• Their weakness in these matters is quite as mischievous as the most determined hostility.*

Now comes the affair at Clitheroe. We have seen the amazing lenity shown to Major Wyndham. We have seen, that a Tory ill-treating a private soldier, one of the people; that is, for shamefully, barbarously ill-treating him, has received no punishment. Now, then, let us turn our eyes to the noisy multitude of Clitheroe. They, forsooth, make a noise ; and not liking Mr. Irving's proceedings, or his eloquence, refuse to listen to his oratory. This is said to be very unjust; and there is much idle talk of the freedom of debate, &c. It was not a matter of debate, be it remembered. Mr. Irving came to solicit suffrages; and the people took this way of telling him that they had no good opinion of his qualifications. On this the said gentleman grows furious; and, because the people would not listen, he rides them down, shoots and sabres them, with the aid of a party of soldiers. The soldiers and Mr. Irving are left unpunished. Now, mark the mode in which people will reason on the subject of using the army in this way. There are three pregnant cir. cumstances connected with this question; two we have already mentioned; the third makes the chain complete : we mean the treatment, the severe inquisition of poor Colonel Brereton.

It may be observed, (suppose one of the people now speaking,) from

It is more than probable that the back-stairs influence which prevented the crea. tion of Peers, may retain Lord Hill in office against the will of Lord Grey. Should this be the case, we shall not hesitate to address a dutiful remonstrance to the King. These are not times for ceremony. We would counsel Lord Grey not to conceal the fact, if he is thwarted by the King in this matter. His Government would lose no strength by such an avowal; for that he and the more liberal members of the Cabinet are disliked at Court, is no secret; while the avowal of his wish to dismiss Lord Hill, would greatly add to the support be receives from the country. E. T. M.

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