Imatges de pÓgina
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was abuse. You must not think he maligned you out of malice, out of ingratitude, out of wantonness; he maligned you for ten guineas. Yet Gilpin is a man, who, having swindled his father out of ten guineas, would in the joy of the moment give five to a beggar. In the present case he was actuated by a better feeling; he was serving the friend of his childhood-few men forget those youthful ties, however they trample on others. Your mistake was not the single mistake of supposing the worst people the best-it was the double mistake of supposing common-place people-now the best-now the worst ;-in making what might have been a pleasant acquaintance an intimate friend; in believing a man in distress must necessarily be a man of merit; in thinking a good-tempered, pretty girl, was an exalted specimen of Human Nature. You were then about to fall into the opposite extreme-and to be as indiscriminating in suspicion as you were in credulity. Would that I could Hatter myself that I had saved

you from that, the more dangerous—error of the two !” “ You have—my dear Nelmore; and now lend me your Philosopher!"

“ With pleasure ; but one short maxim is as good as all Philosophers can teach you, for Philosophers can only enlarge on it-it simple—it is this — TAKE THE WORLD As it is.'

Mitio.

SONNET. -THE KING,

No courtly servant I; yet I admire

The brightness which our free King's soul revealeth.
Let the paid poet twang his harp for hire;

Man and “His Rights” for me! Time's cloud concealeth
All, save the present, from the millions' eyes ;

But on our sleep THE ARMED FUTURE stealeth,
Known by its trampling sounds and awful cries,

Which, while blind earth upon her axis wheeleth,
Talk of another dawn-of changeful, hopeful skies !

Macte virtute! If stern times should come,

And all men stand by merit, Patriot King !
Thou-(unlike those who now their dark deeds rue)

Thou shalt be foremost still. Trumpet and drum
Shall but call up thy friends, the people true,

And fence thy virtues with a brazen ring.

C.L.

BY A MEMBER

THE TEMPER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.

IN FIVE PARLIAMENTS.

If, not being a Member, you have from time to time attended the debates of the House of Commons; if from the gallery, or the more snug retreats beneath it, you have looked along the narrow and dingy room, with its lounging, whispering, inattentive audience; nay, if you have listened to the best of the orators and the ablest of the reasoners whom the assembly possesses, but in moments when they were not excited to any extraordinary display ; and if you have attempted to listen to the common and motley herd of debaters, it is ten to one but that you have formed a very moderate opinion of the talents and knowledge of the Representative body. And yet, supposing accident, interest, or money were to send you to that Assembly as one of its members, it is more than a hundred to one but that, ere you had well been one month old in your seat, you would find your sentiments of the collective wisdom had undergone an astonishing alteration for the better. Canning was accustomed to say that the taste of the House of Commons was better than that of the individual within it whose taste might be considered the best. Certainly there is an astonishing quickness, delicacy, and in the long run, soundness of judgment in the opinion of the House. As correct taste is the great prevailing character of the assembly, so correct taste is the best qualification for a fair repute that any aspirant can possess. This is unfortunate, perhaps, but it is true. The tone of the House is pre-eminently that of gentlemen, and has the corresponding faults and merits. It shows great favour to inexperience ; it shows great indignation at presumption; appearance, manner, chasteness of elocution, grace of expression, have there a greater weight than in any other public assembly in England, (the House of Lords scarcely excepted); and the respect paid to character even without talent is far more constant and far more courteous than that which talent without character can ever obtain.

You often hear men out of the House say—“Oh, So and So cannot have much weight in Parliament, he declaims too much.” Now it is utterly wrong to suppose that the House is averse to declamation. With a full and excited House declamation is incomparably more successful than reasoning; it is only in a thin House, on a question of business, that the correct taste we have referred to revolts instantly at all unnecessary ornament or unseasonable warmth.

“ Remember," said an old and highly distinguished member to a young

debutant of promise, “ the character of the House is this : it is an assembly of men who have seen much ; who have read sparingly. Address them not as deep thinkers, not as keen inquirers, not as ingenious speculators, not as ardent politicians ; address them as men of the world.” And here is one great reason why success in general is the work of years. To please men of the world, you must be a man of the world yourself, and this the young politician from Oxford or his travels must live longer in order to become. Intense study masters all other knowledge, but long experience only gives knowledge of the world.

It is too much the fashion for men out of the House to say

• Great information is sure of success !” Great information, if of the highest and most varied order, requires the nicest, the rarest skill in its management. Nothing the House so little forgives as a display of superiority greater than the occasion demands. Nothing it so despises as refined and new truths; it has a great dislike to philosophy; a great leaning to a bold common-place ingeniously put; to a well-graced truism which a man of large information would be too apt to disdain. You are far more easily pardoned for falling below, than for soaring beyond the intellect of the House. When Mrs. Siddons was reading in her finest manner one of the finest passages in Milton to a delighted audience above, the footman below yawned forth—“ What the old woman's at it again !" The feeling, almost the words, of the footman are applied to the man once felt to be too great for ordinary usage. The very perfection of what a statesman's speech ought theoretically to be on a great occasion was Sir James Macintosh's on the second reading of the Reform Bill—luminous, elaborate, thoughtful, but thoroughly ineffective. A series of such speeches, and the cholera morbus would not clear the House more completely.

The favourite tone of parliamentary oratory is essentially conversational: the House has a great love for the extempore, a great abhorrence of the prepared. Yet this is a schoolboy feeling, and a preference of the smart and clever to the profound and legislative. Information deeply hoarded, lucidly arranged, and carefully and logically bodied forth, may not show so much readiness in the speaker as a sharp personal repartee ; but it is infinitely more creditable to the talents of the speaker, infinitely more honourable to the character of a deliberative assembly, and above all, infinitely more useful to the country. There is a great feeling in favour of a man who speaks not his own opinions only but that of some particular class. Thus, when Hunt came into the House “the Representative of the unrepresented,” there was a decided inclination to hear him, not only as the orator, but also as the organ, of the mob. With a better education and a little more ability, he might have obtained, from that reason, a very remarkable station in the House. But he is vapidity itself. Never was there so miserable a twaddler. Yet from the mere habit of making men laugh; from the mere habit of relieving a grave and dry discussion with a cock-and-a-bull story about the Times newspaper, or his early life, or his wife's maidservant, or his driving about London bridge in a one-horse chaise, he is looked upon as a sort of relief from wisdom; and what is despised as buffoonery is welcomed as change.

One of the most remarkable things that excite the surprise of a new member, is the great difference between a reputation in the House and a reputation out of it. Many men receive the closest attention, nay, the most respectful deference in the House, who have managed to be utterly unappreciated and even obscure in the country. A new member is surprised to hear the compliments lavished on Mr. Baring, the respect paid to Mr. Wynne, the praises accorded to Mr. Atwood. He would be yet more surprised if he heard the speakers for the first time, and before he himself was imbued with the spirit of the House. But it is not the one speech, it is the ge

“ Mr,

neral character of many speeches that obtain for such members the ear of the House; a knowledge of detail, a shrewd astuteness of reply, a particular tact, or a particular appearance of sincerity-all these often evinced, insensibly create a reputation with which the Public, judging only by single speeches, often ill-delivered, and therefore ill reported, are thoroughly unable to sympathise. But the most remarkable instance of this difference between distinction in Parliament and celebrity in the country, is Şir Robert Peel. Indubitably and confessedly no man so thoroughly moulds and plays with the House. He rises-every one is hushed. He begins Speaker,” and in his first sentence you perceive you are surrendering your attention to a master among the rulers. And, in truth, it is scarcely possible to conceive so finished, so consummate a debater, His elocution is incomparably clear and distinct; his tones of persuasion, of candid avowal, or serious expostulation, would be surpricingly effective even on the stage. His method of reply, his art of winding into the weak parts of his adversaries' argument, of bringing detail to work against a principle, and a principle against a detail ; his habit of stating a truth on which he affects to ground his case, and then of spinning from the truth the most disguised, the most ingenious of sophisms, are all the very perfection of parliamentary adroitness, and out of Parliament could never have been acquired. And Peel is one of the few men in the House of Commons who have taken great pains with themselves. If not all, at least most of what you admire in him is the result of amazing practice and earnest study. His action, his tones of voice, his smile, the wave of his hand, are as thoroughly the fruit of preparation as those of any actor even in France, where acting is a science as well as an art. He is never theatrical but always dramatic. He is to the House what Young is to the Stage!

We have implied that few members of the House take much pains with the arts of their profession. The fact is, that partly from the conversational tone of the House, partly from the dread of ridicule, partly from the fact that the generality of speakers have entered the House too old for study, men commonly content themselves with expressing opinions in what they think the plainest, which in reality is often the most slovenly, manner; they speak rather for their constituents than for fame. Then, too, how great an obstacle to improvement is the common gift of fuency! Persons of a certain station in life, and a certain age, and a certain knowledge of their subject, are seldom at a loss for mere words. Thus every one in the House is fluent, and that is the reason why many never care to be more than fuent. They find they express their sentiments without embarrassment, and think therefore they cannot be better expressed.

Every day there are complaints of unfairness in reporting, and certainly there is all the difference in the world between a speech as reported and a speech as read; yet, on the whole, it is rather, in general, the fault of the speaker than the reporter-very few indeed are the voices which distinctly reach the benches of the gallery. It requires great slowness of speech, great distinctness of enunciation, great practice in the management of the voice, to force the sound into the remote corners of a room peculiarly ill-constructed for hearing,

though not extensive in itself. Thus, it is nearly always the oldest speakers who speak most distinctly. Young members, however strong or musical their natural voices, are seldom perfectly articulate in the galleries. Every one has observed the peculiar twang of the old members, the raising of the voice very sharply and jerkingly at the last words of a sentence. That fault, unmusical when near, is incurred in order to prevent the greater fault of being unheard at a distance. The tendency of most young speakers is to drop the voice towards the end of a period : the reporter hears the beginning, and is at a loss for the termination.*

Some men are celebrated as orators. There is a humbler ambitionsome men are distinguished as cheerers. There was one gentleman in the early part of the last Sessions whose cheer was something ineffable ; he was a Tory, and his house had suffered, we believe, by a mob in the late election. The ebullition of his aristocratic indignation, denied egress in language, rushed into the most prolonged, the most.. sonorous, the most unseasonable of human cheers. You traced the bricklayer's bill in every one of them.

It is in Opposition that men cheer; a Ministerial majority are singularly cold. Speeches that would rouse the ex-party to thunder, fall in a numbing silence on the ears of the party that are in. On the Ministerial side, moreover, every one looks on his neighbour as a rival for Ministerial favours; he is, therefore, by no means charmed with the oratorical displays that he considers made at his own expense. A party in opposition are at least free from these petty jealousies and individual rivalships, and a name is therefore much easier made amongst the benches to the left of the Speaker, than those to the right. “But commend me,” we remember hearing Fox once say“ Commend me to the cheer of an Irish member!” And certainly there is a generous warmth, a hearty self-abandonment, an exhilarating honesty in the Irish cheer, that is easily distinguishable from the cold, half-choked, half-whispered ejaculation of the Englishman.

The Irishman, too, is more alive to the merits, and more indulgent to the faults, of the young speaker. Let the maiden orator. count those who come up smilingly to shake hands, and say something kind of his first attempt, and we will wager he will find two Irish to one English man. We have often observed, especially for the last few years, how much louder the applauses-how much keener the enthu-: siasm—how much broader, too, be it said, in justice, are the principles -how much more heartfelt seems the language on Monday nights, when Irish questions are commonly discussed, and the House is pretty thin of English members, than on any other nights in the week. In fact, the Irishman always throws his heart into whatever he attempts ; and now-a-days, when intelligence is growing a matter of easy ac- : quirement, energy to execute will become a more rare quality than intellect to devise. “ In our times," said the great Frederick, “igno i rance does more mischief than vice.” In our times, it is not so much ignorance as indifference.

* Yet at a moment, as of late, when party runs high, it must be owned, that the less popular party might be more fairly reported. We wish they were so. Truth ouglit never to deteriorate from hier opponents.

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