Imatges de pÓgina

for them attention from the Ministers of the Crown. In order, then, to learn the views of the popular Members, we must previously determine the views of the people at large ; must discover what are the expectations of the nation as to the conduct to be pursued by those who possess the government of the country.

No one, of even common sagacity, can have avoided learning, that at the present time there is predominating in the minds of the great majo. rity of the People, a thorough conviction of the necessity of introducing as a general, all-pervading principle in matters of government the following, viz." That no government of the People can be good, can be efficient, but self-government.” Every day strengthens this conviction and extends its influence. The number of persons who acknowledge it, the subjects to which it is applied, become hourly greater. It must also be apparent, to even a very superficial observer, that this principle is in direct hostility to the feelings and wishes of the Aristocracy of this country,—of those who hitherto have ruled her destinies. The People know this hostility, and are determined to crush it the moment it appears in an active and tangible form. With their desire, therefore, of extending responsibility to the People through all departments of government, there are allied a strong feeling of resentment, a species of passionate resolution to punish opposition, and a proneness to angry suspicion of all who attempt to cross or thwart their purposes. This state of suspicion and resentment renders the position of the truly en lightened friends of the People extremely critical ; we might say, dangerous. To the enemies of the People, to those who are opposed to an extension of popular rule, it ought to have a very serious, a very threat ening aspect.

There are two, perhaps more correctly speaking, three great practical results which spring from this feeling of the People. The one is, their passionate attachment to, and vehement demand of the ballot; the se. cond, the repeal of the septennial act; and the third, a greater extension of the suffrage than at present exists.

Another characteristic of the present state of the popular mind, is of a nature still more encouraging, more completely unalloyed with evil ; and that is the passionate demand for instruction which pervades the whole of the poorer sections of society. They appear to have thoroughly conceived the important truth, that to ensure wise and beneficent conduct on the part of the governors of a people, there must be high intelligence among the People themselves: that good laws are not of themselves sufficient protection. There must be as well integrity in those who administer them; and this integrity cannot be ensured, unless the publit be instructed. Moreover, the People are beginning to understand, that a great part of their well-being is under their own immediate control, not under that of the Government; that however wise and good the Government may be, it cannot make the People permanently happy, unless the foresight and prudence of the People co-operate. Added to this, there is now arising a very general desire for intellectual pleasures, in preference to mere sensual indulgences. The People, in fact, are becoming more refined.

Answering to these feelings of the People will, we presume, be the demands of the popular representatives. They will put these things, viz. Ballot, Repeal of the Septennial Act, Increase of the number of voters, and the Removal of all obstructions to Knowledge, in the very front of their proceedings. They will consider that their chief great mission is the attainment of these ; that all other views must be made subservient to these, and that they must be sacrificed for no purpose whatever.

Should this be their view of their own position, an immediate practical difficulty arises, which they ought to anticipate and determine on. Are they prepared to pursue these great ends, in so unflinching a manner, as even to endanger the existence of the present ministry, should they, the Ministry, be found hostile to them. During the last Parliament, and while the Reform Bill was going through the Houses, it became necessary for the independent members, those linked to no party, those who pursued according to the best of their ability the welfare of the nation, to decide this very question. When the Tory faetion divided the House on the Russian Dutch loan, it was evident that the Ministers would have been left in a minority, had the independent members fol. lowed the best of their opinions on that individual question. Had they done so,—and we may cite Mr. Hume's declaration on the matter as good authority,—they would have voted against the Ministers. Should they be in a minority, the Ministers declared they would resign. The indepen. dent members determined that such resignation would, at that time, have been a greater evil than the loss of two millions of money. They therefore, in order to keep the Ministers in their places, voted against their own opinions and in favour of the Ministers. Is the present situation of the Ministers at all similar to this? Are they 30 important to the nation as to make a sacrifice of principle in order to retain them in power, justifiable. There are persons who would answer in the affirmative. We, however, and we believe almost all who can be considered as really independent men, and not belonging to any party in the House of Commons, would vehemently protest against any such assertion. We believe the public mind now to be so thoroughly made up, that no reaction can take place; also, that we possess an instrument, which, though far from perfect, is still a very formidable legal protection,--we mean the Reformed Parliament; so that now no possibility of injury at the hands of the Tory faction can be supposed to exist. If the present Ministrybe obliged to resign, it will be, because they have not obeyed the voice of the nation ; have not been sufficiently liberal in their views and conduet. Any Ministry which succeeds, would come with promise of more liberal proceedings; and so that we attain what we desire, it matters little by whose hands the good is produced. No Ministry can exist for a moment which comes in on principles more approximating to Conservative than those of the retiring Ministry. The time for retrograding is past ; why, therefore, need we dread the going out of the Whigs? The mere change, and the bustle and stoppage of public business attendant thereon, are certainly evils, and evils not of small amount ; yet are they not to be for a moment compared with the monstrous mischiefs resulting from a compromise of great principles. All the good the Whigs will ever do, cannot compensate for this : all the evil the Tories can possibly accomplish, cannot equal it. If this view of the matter be correct, and we know of nothing to impeach it,—the course to be pursued by the inde. pendent or popular members, is a straight-forward one; and whatever be the difficulties attending it,- and well do we know that they are manifold, -the evils and difficulties of trimming and shaping their conduct to suit petty expediencies will not beset it. These difficulties, which to men of doubtful characters, those who out of the public affairs seek private ad. vantage, are pleasant and useful; to ingenuous and honourable men carry with them a feeling of degradation, as tending certainly, however imperceptibly, to lower the high standard of their morality. Freed from the painful necessity of sacrificing principle to present purposes, the in. dependent representatives will cheerfully aid the Ministry in all good measures, and to their utmost defend them against unjust attacks on the part of interested opponents. They will desire no change, but, on the contrary, will endeavour to avoid it, as bringing necessarily many hindrances to the public business ; but they will not consent, on any pretext, to forego their purposes, or relax their efforts for the attainment of the great reforms which are the legitimate fruits of the Reform Bill. The first of these are the ballot, the repeal of the septennial act, the repeal of the taxes on knowledge, and an immediate and sweeping curtailment of the public expenditure. These topics must be insisted on at every opportunity; opposition must be reasoned, and if that does not succeed, frightened down ; Ministry and Tories must be looked upon with equal eyes, if found in the opposing ranks, and quarter refused to both with inflexible severity. One word of advice, before we finish, to the independent or popular members, as to the mode in which this good fight is to be fought.

The object which they set before themselves being the attainment of public benefits, they need not care through whose aid and participation their efforts become successful. Their first great end should be so to frame their plans, as to win for them a large number of supporters. In order to attain this, they should religiously abstain from forming them. selves into a party, constituting or clique or sect. A clique or party, or sect, is always supposed to have some notions, or forms, or opinions, to which all of that party is clique, or sect, give in their adherence. Thus, if the party advocate certain measures, and by this means connect them with their own name, others will not assist in advocating those measures, lest they be considered of the clique, and answerable for their opinions. " Quand nous disons nous,” said Turgot, “ on dira vous.” The fear implied in this statement is a legitimate fear, and would often tend to check te efforts of many good men, and to destroy the efficiency of the liberal section of the House,

There is another consideration still more important as to forming a party of these men. The people naturally view with great jealousy the persons who act as party men. Hitherto, alliance into parties has been organizing plunderers. A narrow morality has been set up to supersede general or universal morality; the interests of party have been made paramount to the interests of the nation ; and the persons thus shamefully pursuing private objects, have, by being banded together, and being nu. merous, kept one another in countenance, and learned to laugh at public disapprobation. The parties that have, of late years, divided the public men of England, have acted in this spirit; have misled, cajoled, and mystified for years, the confiding and ignorant people. But we have grown wise by experience; we dislike party spirit, party morality, party devices, and party men. The increasing intelligence and improving morality of the age require honest modes to honest ends. Strong in our numbers, strong in our cause, we can well afford to lay aside all deceit, alle artifice, and march straight forward to our end ; openly declaring our intentions, openly soliciting support for them. The advocates of popular rights need not league together in dark corners, and fight with secret watchwords, or depend on stratagems, and apt parliamentary menæuvring. Let them declare, with loud voices, the great truths they support, and defenders and brothers will crowd around and about them, coming from every side, bearing various names, characters, conditions ; forming a numerous yet serried phalanx, against which all opposition will be vain. If they, however, should separate themselves off into little knots, should get up tests and watchwords, requiring adherence to this and opposition to that, they will become minute and impotent bodies, impracticable and useless. Really honest, and original thinkers can never knit themselves into any conjoint form or confederation. They are necessarily for this pur. pose a rope of sand. No two men can agree on all important points, who really examine and thoroughly discuss them. The only parties who agree are they who never inquire, but believe on authority; or who mutually determine to sink differences, snd swear by the same terms or watchwords. The first mode is that of folly and ignorance, the second of knavery. The wise and honest course, for those, who have the same good ends in view, is to pursue them independently; giving willing and hearty assistance to all who pursue the same objects, without consideration of their general opinions or feelings. By so doing, a man is not connected in reputation with those to whom he thus lends aid-he is not answerable for their creed or their character. He and they are not the sworn brothers of a party, but diligent independent servants of the one great master, the People. The following may be given in illustration: It is pretty certain, that the persons immediately to be mentioned will, on many important questions, vote together. Mr. Grote, Mr. Tennyson, Mr. Hume, Mr. Att. wood, Mr. Cobbett, Mr. Buckingham, Mr. Warburton (we need mention no more for the present illustration) will all be in favour of the Ballot. A more heterogeneous coliection could hardly be named, differing in prin. ciples of morals and politics ; differing in temper, character, and even in ultimate objects; and yet there is little doubt, if no unwise attempt be made to join them into a party, they will, on most occasions, vote together, and for the national interest. Let any one endeavour to connect them together, and they would instantly ily off, east, west, north, and south ; would probably be led to oppose and utterly nullify the ef.. forts of one another. The public also, knowing the very opposite characters of the men, would wonder at, and be jealous of so unnatural a proceeding as any close alliance among them. They would very wisely sus. pect that no good was intended, and certainly believe that none could follow from it

There is one other topic connected with the future conduct of the House, which we would touch on here ; and that is, the manner or mode of discussion or debate that will now be pursued in it. It is not now intended to enter into any elaborate description of the debating which has hitherto been practised in the Honourable House, or to adduce any evidence of our opinions respecting it, but merely in general terms to state what we believe it to have been,--such very general description being sufficient for our present purpose. The debating of the past times then, was peculiarly marked by one characteristic, and that was, a thorough absence of truth on almost all occasions. A conventional and misleading phraseology was the means by which truth was avoided; but the cause, the immediate promoter of falsehood, was the relative situation of the opposing parties in the House. The truth that might have been told, and would have proved highly unpalatable to the Tories, would have been equally disagreeable to the opposing Whigs; wherefore by a tacit universal consent, every one avoided the enunciation of it, and rules of good breeding were instituted which made any attempt at a naked plain statement of it a breach of what was deemed politeness. None more readily


than we, would allow that, for the preservation of peace, for the furtherance of kindly feelings and good will in society, great courtesy and suavity are needed. Life, without the amenities of life, would be a wretched and barbarous sojourn : But this courtesy, and these ameni. ties are for the most part, or ought to be, the sacrifice of present indi. vidual desires to the wishes and comforts of those around us.

To sacrifice the general weal to private purposes, is to reverse, not to further the true amenities of life; to frustrate the very end for which they were introduced. Such has been the only result of the mock and bastard courtesy of our past Houses of Commons. Without adverting to the reason which established and defines true courtesy, the members of those immaculate assemblies took the rules of private life into public dealing ; and, because, in his own house, and to satisfy any merely personal pleasure, a man would not thrust forward an unpleasant truth, it was believed that he ought to pursue the same course in public affairs. least this is the only justification for the proceeding, which is hazarded, when by reason it is attempted to be justified. Nothing, however, can be more at war with common sense. It is the first great duty of a re. presentative of the people to be thoroughly outspoken—to shrink not from the exposition of any matter, however painful such exposition may be to the parties concerned, if the public interests require it. Such statements should at all times be made with a grave and courteous bearing: no Aippancy, no intentional hostility or insult should attend them; but they should be complete, unsparing, and correct. In the past House instances were manifold wherein an offender has been charged with crimes of the blackest die, and at the same moment disclaimers of any intention to attack his character have been profusely volunteered. Such disclaimers militate against the truth of the statement. The right impression is not created—the history necessarily is not correctly conceived. This is merely an illustration of one species of the general mendacity of which we complain ; and more cannot now be adduced, our limits precluding any particular exposure. It is to be hoped that such convenances (to use an apt French phrase) will not be introduced or continued in the reformed House. We sincerely pray, that the representatives of the people will deem it their duty, in all calmness of spirit, with all true and dignified courtesy, to utter every truth which they believe it fitting the people should hear; no matter how painful it may be to the guilty hearers thereof—no matter what may be the reluctance which they themselves may feel to be the instrument by which pain is created. This is one of the many painful and difficult obligations which their situation imposes upon them ; one wihch, in its importance, can hardly be surpassed ; and which properly to fulfil will require great courage, great judgment, and much good feeling. It is not unsparing, reckless insolence of demeanour that we are advocating, but a calm, unflinching, judicious utterance of necessary though painful truth.

Let no one, therefore, mistake or misinterpret our suggestion.

The future, then, with all the difficulties which beset it, still holds out much for rational hope, dashed, indeed, by anxiety,—but not clouded by fear. The great spirit of human improvement is up and stirring, and we have no dread that its mighty mission will not be accomplished. But this mission entails much labour, and watchfulness, and patience, on all who attempt to participate in its accomplishment. The great cause must eventually triumph ; but success may be retarded or hastened by the errors or the wisdom of those who lead the public mind. If by them

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