« AnteriorContinua »
The world is weary of Orang-harangues ;
would still escape its fierce critique, Editors' jokes, and rude reporters' fangs—
For ah! you cannot speak.
You never went to court.
Yet in your own far land,
And walk like them--on sand.
Can you resign these treasures,
London's pleasures ?
I fain would know, ere yet you go,
have seen in those same distant dales?
Say, did you ever meet
But did you ever meet
Or have you, for your eyes are clear,
Inglis, Bateson, Wilson, Peel ?
Voice of one who, broken-hearted,
Mourneth for her mate departed !
King Orang is no more!*
Is this the creature,
To pay its shilling ?
As thou, poor Monkey King !
He died a few days ago.
THE MEETING OF PARLIAMENT. Well, Parliament has assembled the King has addressed “ My Lords and Gentlemen” in person, and an address responsive has been agreed to in both Houses without any formal opposition. So far so good. But still the question is, “Will The Bill pass the Lords ?” We answer,-it will, it must! As well might one expect, Canute-like, to see the ocean-tide arrest its progress at the bidding of a maniac-my Lord for example-as that the great current of public opinion should be now stayed in its course by the faction of Noble and Right Reverend anti-reformers, of which his Royal Highness Ernest Duke of Cumberland is the venerated chieftain. The mighty stream may be here and there impeded by temporary obstacles—the sediment and growth of time-but systematic opposition can now only serve to invest it with the fury of the mountain torrent. The schoolmaster is, indeed, abroad; and that which has been so often spoken is of a verity about to be fulfilled.
We will not stop—we had almost said condescend-at this twelfth hour, to repeat, for the hundred and first time within the last few months, all that has been said on the side of good government. That the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the sole end of all civil institutions, is now felt to be a selfevident maxim ;—that a representative form of government is an essential means to this end; and that it is a mockery, hardly to be surpassed in mendacious audacity by the heroes of the Pitt Club themselves, to consider the nominees of some 140 boroughmongers as the faithful trustees of the wants and interests of the Commons of England, are propositions which every man in the empire (always excepting the divinity graduates of Cambridge and Oxford) feels to be self-evident. As was observed in a recent number of the “New Monthly,” were the question merely one of principle and expediency, the controversy would have been long since at an end; but as it is a contest of right versus usurpation,—of the right of the middle classes—the wealth and intelligence and main-stay of the British name to have a voice in the election of those who are to hold their purses and properties, and, in degree, their lives and persons, in their own hands,-other arguments than those which reason and justice would suggest are thought to be more applicable to the proceedings in the House of Lords, so far as they may affect the success of the Reform Bill. Hence the several appeals to the passions of their Lordships—to their self-interest, their hopes and fears, upon which the press has been ringing the changes since the dissolution-among which, a pamphlet, entitled “Friendly Advice to the Lords on the Reform Bill,” from the celebrity of its imputed author, has attracted most attention. We must confess that these appeals have struck us as very unsatisfactory, and that the main argument by which we may count on their Lordships' inveterate hostility to every measure tending to the amelioration of the political condition of the people being overcome, has been overlooked ; and that argument is contained in the answer to the simple question, What would be the consequence to themselves of their Lordships' placing themselves in direct hostility to the king in his regal and individual capacity, to the king's Government, and, above all, to the unanimous acclaim of the people for Reform, as speaking through the large majority in favour of the Bill which they have returned at the late election, and through that most influential of organs in these days of the schoolmasterthe Press ? Supposing, for a moment, that the Lords threw out the Bill, where is there to be found, outside of the walls of Bedlam, the anti-reformer daring enough to meet the present House of Commons in the character of Minister ? Even a Tory House of Commons rejected Sir R. Peel and his imbeciles with contempt; and, if black differs at all from wbite, it is to be presumed, that the feeble self-sufficiency of Mr. Goulbourn and his well-paired colleague will be no great additional recommendation to a majority chosen for the express purpose of bruising the serpent's head of Toryism for ever. To any man at a loss for a proof of the irresistible unanimity of the wealth and intelligence of the country on the side of pure representation, and, as a consequence, of the mischievous folly, the fatal madness, of all attempts to persist in practically maintaining the Wellington doctrine of the constitutional excellence of rotten horougbs, let him
purchase a list of the returns of the late election, and compare it with that of the returns made but a few short months before. Let him examine any or every mansion or hovel in the United Kingdom, the owner of which has been taught his letters, and ask its inmates, are they friendly or hostile to Reform ? Let bim simply ask his newsman which of ihe journals-the bundreds in favour of the Bill to the unit against it-of the metropolis has the largest number of purchasers? And, above all, let him pause and ask bimself, why one of the most feeble, vacillating, and self-sufficient Ministries that ever presided over the destinies of a great nation, is enabled to retain the reins of power in the teeth of ten-times-proved incompetency; nay, assume to itself, without provoking derision, a kind of shadowy popularity, merely because they were instrumental in giving the form of a legislative enactment to the popular demand for Reform? Blind as the majority of hereditary statesmen who grace the benches in the House of Lords are, in general, to what is passing around them, even Lord Loudonderry can just now distinguish, when the wind is southerly, a hawk from a hand-saw. The fact is, the Lords will pass the Bill, because they cannot help it; and the more graciously they do so, the more will they have to congratulate themselves on their well-timed plasticity.
This is plain talk; but the present is not a time for mincing and lisping facts, à la Sir James Graham. Ardently attached, as we are, to the political classification of the three orders, or estates, which compose our matchless Constitution, we should reproach ourselves as only worthy to be counted among the moderates,' whom we despise, were we to mouth advice to men standing on the brink of an unfathomable chasm. And why do we call the English Constitution matchless ? Because its most distinctive feature is its progressive nature; that is, its tendency to adapt its machinery to those changes which Time, the great innovator, is ever introducing into our habits, wants, and opinions. The history of the English Constitution is a series of changes and innovations, the result, not of that groping in the dark, nicknamed the wisdom of our ancestors, but of the exigencies and accidents of the moment; all, it is true, more or less animated by the spirit of growing wealth and intelligence-in other words, civil liberty. It is based rot only on the (if we may so speak) national interests, but on the feudal habits and mammon prejudices of the national character. We are in grain an aristocracy-loving people, and shall be, so long as money and rank confer distinction ; that is, so long as we are Englishmen. And they, therefore, who would fain persuade us, that to admit the middle classes to a just participation of the advantages of the Constitution, would be to abrogate the just rights of the hereditary branch of our legislature, only expose their ignorance of human nature. In the most republican era in our history, when Charles I. was led to the scaffold, it was found to be impossible to eradicate the House of Peers out of the affections of the people: and in the present day, all that that body has to guard itself against is,—their themselves demonstrating to the eyes of an indignant nation, that their exclusive rights can only be exercised at the expense of the general weal, as would be the case if they declared themselves “ not content" with the Reform Bill. Salus populi suprema lex. Let their Lordships show that their hereditary privileges are not incompatible with the general welfare, and not even the flippant pertness of Lords Ellenborough and Durham, or the indiscreet zeal against all improvement of the bench of Bishops, or the “ do with my own” pranks of his Grace of Newcastle, will loosen their hold on the habits of thought of the English people.
We have thought these few preliminary remarks just now not inopportune, as the eyes of the public are riveted on the proceedings in the House of Lords~ the triumphant success of the Reform Bill being a matter of certainty in that branch of the legislature most under the influence of public opinion--and much apprehension having been entertained that their Lordships would be so madly blind to their own permanent interests as to outvote the Minister on the mere form of the usual Address, and thus indirectly defeat the measure on which alone he was lifted, and could be sustained in power. These apprehensions have been proved to be unfounded, though, it must be confessed, the animus against the Bill was but 100 clearly cvinced in the petulant captiousness with
which some verbal informality of the Duke of Norfolk's Address was received, and in the boisterous exultation of their Lordships at the Earl of Winchelsea's re-re-re-re-recession. As this return of Lord Winchelsea to the narrow-minded ultra-Toryism of his first and last love was the most amusing occurrence of an exceedingly tedious evening, we shall bestow upon it something more than a passing note. But first a word on the speech itself, and its delivery.
On a former occasion, the elocution of the excellent sovereign who now fills the throne, as contrasted with that of his immediate predecessor, was described in the pages of “The New Monthly” by an observant eye-witness. George the Fourth's tone and manner of reading the King's speech have been, with justice, a long-standing theme of public eulogy. His delivery, on these occasions, was indeed unique, for its imposing dignity and “ due emphasis and discretion ;" and, to those who have not witnessed the matchless elocution of Lord Lyndhurst, the most theatrically perfect of modern times. It was, moreover, strikingly indicative of his personal character, betraying in its elaborate and measured cadences, marble coldness, and unbroken monotony of tone, the man of art, whose highest ambition was to be rated the “ first gentleman in Europe,” (in the dancing-master's sense of the term gentleman,) and who, absorbed in self-importance and self-gratification, held few flesh and blood sympathies in common with his hearers. Not so with the warm-hearted patriot monarch who now reigns in the hearts of his people. Despising all artificial means of effect, and trusting wholly in the honesty of his purpose, King William reads his speech, as he does every thing else, naturally, frankly, and in that jerking vehemence of tone, which has been justly described as expressive of the fire-side warmth of his feelings. . This was, indeed, less manifest yesterday (the 21st of June) than when he last opened Parliament, as the present speech had much less reference to his own private feelings than that delivered in November last. In the speech itself we find little that calls for remark, save its general lengthiness and indefiniteness, particularly as it refers to Ireland. “ The possibility of introducing any measures, which, by assisting the improvements of the natural resources of the country, may tend to prevent the recurrence of such evils, must be a subject of the most anxious interest to me, and to you of the most grave and cautious consideration,” is about the most vague and unsatisfactory paragraph that we have met with even in King's speeches, and is evidently meant as a blinking of the question of introducing poor-laws into Ireland; a question which we shall endeavour, on an early occasion, to show cannot be thus got rid of, involving, as it does, not only the peace of Ireland, but the stability of the English alliance.
The Earl of Winchelsea's redintegration of his ultra-Tory first love was, as we have observed, the inost amusing occurrence of the evening. It surprised no one who heard him, at all acquainted with his public or private character. The noble hero of Penenden Heath is one of those personages one meets with in every society, who possess but one idea, and on that is rabid, it being the pivot on which all instincts, feelings, recollections, sympathies, and antipathies blindly turn. Lord Winchelsea's one idea is, that the Pope is Antichrist; and, as a consequence, that every man who holds the doctrine of transubstantiation instead of consubstantiation, (if there be any difference,) is a “gentleman in black” in disguise. The noble Earl, like all honest bigots, is a bold, above-board, “slap up” speaker, mincing no expression lest it should not meet with the approbation of some discreet “ moderate” of the Chesterfield school, and making vehemence of delivery and zeal atone for the absence of every thing like common sense, or adherence to those doctrines on which one Lindley Murray is reported to have written a treatise. In listening to his Lordship, one is reminded of the good old times of the Muclewraths, and the Habakkuk Mackbriars, saving and excepting that, whereas these worthies railed at prelacy as a legacy of the scarlet gentlewoman, whose nethers occupied seven hills, the noble advocate of Protestant ascendancy maintains, that, but for the bench of Bishops, we should be the victims of Popery, and Smithfield bonfires, and Cholera Morbus. Lord! how he did bowl, and stamp, and froth, and grin with a “ghastly smile,” and prophesy, during the progress of the Catholic Relief Bill! and how he did threaten and declare, when that Constitution-destroying measure passed into a law, that he should withdraw the light of his Protestantascendancy-countenance from the spiritual and temporal recreants to the Church of England for ever, and in the wilds and fastnesses of Kent pass his life in Ezekiel visions of a new Protestant Jerusalem! But, fortunately for his country, this Pythonic fit was but of short duration, and the noble Vaticinator has resumed his senatorial duties, and in his place in the House of Lords nightly cheers the declining years of the Protestant Earl of Eldon, with the proof personal that the good old cause of intolerance and hatred of human improvement is not, as yet, altogether without its appropriate advocates in an assembly proclaiming itself to be the most august and enlightened in the world.
We will not presume to offer any argument with a view to counteracting the mischief which Lord Winchelsea's withdrawal of “ unqualified" confidence in the present Administration might inflict on the success of the Reform Bill, because it would be hopeless with those whom it does not at once excite to laughter, and because it was more than triumphantly refuted by Earl Grey. Lord Winchelsea will, he says, oppose the Bill, because among its supporters are men who question the extraordinary advantages, in either a religious or political point of view, of what is called Protestant ascendancy. On this emanation of bot-headed folly, Lord Grey happily observed :
“ The Noble Earl insinuated that the Government was connected with persons adverse to the Protestant interest, and opposed to the Church Establishment. The Noble Lord almost hinted that some members of the Government entertained a hostile feeling that way.
Who were those individuals ? For himself he was heart and soul a Protestant, an affectionate member of the Church of England, believing it to be the very best church that had ever existed in the world. But when the Noble Earl stated his opinion of the necessity of what he called an intimate union and connexion between Church and State, he begged to know precisely what it was that the Noble Lord meant by the expression, which was rather vague and general. If the Noble Earl meant by an intimate union between Church and State, that support from the Government to the Church which might be reasonably looked for with a view to a due performance and exercise of church rites and privileges, and that supp
which the Church could afford the Government by the inculcation of such maxims of morality and religion as might render the people obedient to the established authorities, and happy and contented in their respective situations, he perfectly concurred with the Noble Lord in his view of the union that ought to subzist between Church and State ; and to such a connexion he was a friend as well as the Woble Earl. But if the Noble Lord meant by his expression a political unior hetwa Church and State, with a view to the political support of the Government, tur the agency of the Church, he dissented from the Noble Earl in his approbation of a union, and thought that when the Church interfered in politics, it seldom interfer 1 with advantage to itself, and often with great detriment and injury to the public. * If the Noble Earl thought to support Protestant ascendancy by keeping alive religious distinctions and religious discord, long fatal to the peace and wellbeing of Ireland, he was very much mistaken. The object could not be effected by means such as these, which too many, oh, shortsighted men! had employed to promote the interests of the Church, but in vain ; for in this way had much been done to injure and depress them. He was not a friend to attempts at maintaining Protestant ascendancy by such means as tended to continue feelings of separation and animosity between the members of different religious sects. He did hope he should not hear it asserted that there was any thing, on a fair and enlightened view of the question of Reform, to subject him or his colleagues who supported the measure to any imputation of indifference to the true interests of religion, or of the Church of England, any more than the Noble Lord himself. The difference between the Noble Lord and myself consists in this; that I wish to support the Church by means which would tend to extinguish religious animosities and dissensions, and enable the Establishment, by the truth and purity of its doctrines, and the affectionate assiduity of its ministers, to conciliate the people, while measures such as the Noble Earl appears to contemplate would have a directly contrary effect.” This is language becoming an enlightened statesman in the nineteenth century.
After Lord Grey had taken his seat, up rose bis Royal Highness the Duke of Cuinberland, the popular Commander-in-chief of the anti-reformers. And what did the illustrious orator say? We hardly believed our ears, and are still in