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To those of our readers who have taken any interest in the fortunes of the aged Countess of Desmond whom we encounter at the opening of the tale, one backward glance is necessary.
It was noticed that the wounded and enfeebled chief fell by the hand of the ruffian O'Kelly, “ The Earl turned his dying eyes upon his murderer, who cried out,· Hould that look still, my Lord of Desmond, 't will become yer face mightily when it is sticking upon the top o' Temple Bar in the city of London.' And as he spoke
One long wild cry broke from the lips of the Countess ! A cry, so dreadful and appalling, that years after, when on his dying bed, the until then relentless O’Kelly heard it with terrible agonies.”
“ That shriek which he had been destined never to forget! In vain he entreat. ed to be moved from room to room—from house to house ; that sound still pursued him, and rung in his ears like a fearful warning, to awaken his guilty conscience !
“ That cry, the only sound which the Countess had uttered since the appearance of O’Kelly, was also the last evidence of sense or feeling breathed by her for many years."
Disjointed and mutilated as are the extracts we have given from the Siege of Maynooth, they must have enabled the reader to form some idea of the character of this romance. If we have succeeded in imparting any feeling of the admiration with which it has inspired us, we shall be gratified at having performed an act of simple justice, in drawing at. tention to the talents of a writer whose name we never heard and never may hear. Nor shall we deny that " it is the cause” which inspires us with a strong predisposition in his favour; not that there is either vehemence or exaggeration in the nationality of the spirit which pervades the work, and the spirit is more Irish than the style. The dialogues among the subordinate personages have little of the breadth or raciness of Irish humour; their dialect is meagre, and somewhat bald and modern for the age in which they are supposed to live and act. There are, moreover, few traits of ancient manners, and some of the principal characters are rather romantic and historical personages, than natural and individualized human characters. But with, or in spite of, all these drawbacks, this romance, by the spirit of its action, the variety of incident, the brilliance and contrast of its rapidly shifting lights and shadows, and, above all, by the lively and growing interest which the narrative keeps awake in the mind from first to last, is fully entitled to all the praise we have bestowed upon it. Even now that Scott, Godwin, and Maturin have ceased to write, there may be historical romances of higher pretension, but none which the reader will not be able more readily to lay aside till a more convenient season. The Siege of Maynooth is a tale to begin with at the beginning, and read straight-forward to the end.
2 K 2
THE WORKING OF THE BILL-PUBLIC EXPENDITURE,
The most hopeful circumstance of our political condition, is the firmness with which the People look their worst evils in the face, and the earnest and thorough-going way in which, through a body of efficient representatives, they are about to enter on the task of a root-and-branch Reform. There are persons interested in the preservation of every existing abuse, who, after offering all the opposition in their power to that first great step, Parliamentary Reform, were besotted enough to imagine that the People were to rest satisfied with the naked Bill, the print and paper, as a wrestler does with the trophy stuck in his bonnet; or that it was to be regarded as a charm or amulet, which, without farther effort, might be hung round our necks and work by magic; and which, without obtaining a single tangible benefit, was, in some occult way, to make us all prosperous and contented. These sages are disappointed, and those of them who were graciously willing to concede something, are not a little indignant that the ungrateful monster the mob, having extorted its plaything, is not now satisfied and thankful. They are enraged to find that if there be one principle more distinctly recognised, and clung to by the nation than another, it is that the Reform in the representation, wrested from the oligarchy at the knife's point, is but the means to an end. Withi ut this principle kept steadily in view, the Reform Bill were of as much worth as so much waste paper, sent up to the moon at the tail of a paper kite, to inform the lunar population what simpletons the men of Great Britain are. But we have, thank Heaven and our own endeavours, the instrument of political regeneration at last securely in our grasp; and the immediate consideration is, where we may first and best apply the new power gained, how much may be undertaken at once, and where it is wisest to commence operations, and with most advantage enter the wedge. The Spectator's Key to Political Knowledge appears in good time; and is an intelligent and trustworthy guide.--It begins at the foundation. No. I. is spent in clearing the floor of the House of Commons for freedom of future operations. The clumsy, tardy, unwieldy working of the House, as it is at present constituted, is thoroughly exposed, and the necessity insisted upon, of simplifying, and regulating its movements, and getting it into immediate working trim. But we shall here employ the words of the Key.
“ The people are entitled to hope great things from this change. They are entitled to hope that a House of Commons, consisting of the men of their choice, will labour zealously, ably, and efficiently, for the public in. terest. If they are disappointed in the extent of the improvement, there had almost better have been no Reform at all. If the business of Par. liament is conducted only a little better than it is at present—if profusion is only a little checked-if legislation is only a little more enlightenedif only a little more activity, and a little more deliberate attention, are bestowed upon the complicated interests of this vast empire—the disappointment will be deep, and the indignation bitter. The people will either be incited to tear in pieces a constitution which does them so little good, after all the mending bestowed upon it, or will sink into indifference; and, not caring how they exercise a franchise so useless to them, will allow every abuse of the old system again to take root and flourish as rank as ever."
Spectator's Key to Political Kuowledge. Clayton, Strand.
It thus becomes the question how the Representatives of the people, are, with most effect and despatch, to perform functions which have become somewhat different from the old, lounging, idling, speechifying, mistifying, and huddling up the scene by voting enormous supplies, or unjust imposts, and passing unwise or ignorant enactments, of which two-thirds of their whole number thought not at all, and for which the remaining part cared nothing. The House of Commons is a range too wide for our space. We recommend the Spectator's exposé both to electors, and to those who aspire to become representatives of the people. It is drawn up with great expense of labour; and it goes to the root, and traces all the ramifications of the evil. Nor can we doubt that, under this and other ministrations, by next February, the Great FREE AND Easy will, both in external decency of manners, and business-like habits, shew a very different face from what it exhibited “ while only Gentlemen got into the House."
The Spectator's second number of the Key, is devoted to the PUBLIC EXPENDITURE—more correctly the Public Wastefulness.
The same ground has been often travelled over, but the whole bearings of the case have never been exhibited in so‘compact a form as in this pamphlet. It also contains analyzed statements of the public accounts; that is as far as the national accounts are made public, or as it is possible for the most clear-headed adept in figures to comprehend what no human being actually does or can understand, and, least of all, those whose business, as guardians of the public purse, it is to check the Expenditure.
The Black Book, Cobbett and other journalists, and, coming closer home to us than all, the painful experience of diminishing capital among the middle classes, and pinching poverty among the lower, have already made the nation tolerably well aware of the thousand concealed and corrupt channels into which its wealth has been, and is drained. This Magazine, during its short career, has not neglected the duty of calling attention to the enormity of the Public Expenditure ; and every one, save those who either fatten on the public, or have a prospective interest in maintaining “things as they are,” is prepared for an instant searching into these abuses, and a rigorous cutting down, or extirpation in every branch of the Expense of Government. “ This principle,” says the Key, “ it is quite plain, must be rigorously acted upon, at a time when, even after the public expenditure is pared down to the greatest practicable extent, the people will still be burdened beyond what they can bear without much suffering." But the principle is one which ought to be acted upon at all times. “ Ce n'est point,” says Mon. tesquieu, “à ce que le peuple peut donner qu'il faut mesurer les revenus publics, mais à ce quit doit donner.” Our legislators have always adopt. ed the peut as their standard of exaction. The apparent reluctance of the present administration to consider any question of “ paltry” economy which circumstances have thrust upon them, is another motive to the vigilance of the people, in searching out the causes of profuse public expenditure. This reluctance has been carried to a length which has shaken them more in public confidence than all their other questionable measures put together. “Oh, these shabby sums ! mere candleends and cheese-parings !-unworthy the attention of a great nation.” That salary (of the useless Governor of some more useless fortress) is so mere a trifle! The emoluments of such another sinecure office is so com.. pletely an old song-only a few hundreds—those diplomatie pensions, only a few thousands ;” and this spreads, till the hundreds become thousands, and the thousands tens of thousands, with a government all the while affecting to study retrenchment. In the words of the Key, “it is often foolishly argued against any particular reductions of expendi.. ture, that they are of no consequence, for that their benefit, when di. vided among the whole population, becomes imperceptible. Why so much anxiety to cut off L.150,000 from the expenditure? When divided among sixteen or twenty-four millions, it only amounts to two-pence, or three half-pence a-head." But those arguers forget, or would have us to forget, that by lopping off L.150,000 from the expenditure, some entire tax, that presses unduly on some particular class, or seriously injures some branch of industry, could be removed. Two-pence a-head on the population of Great Britain, is equal to the whole amount of the hopduty; or take Britain and Ireland, one penny three farthings would give the commercial classes the benefit of advertisements duty-free. Fourpence halfpenny a-head would extinguish the odious newspaper tax." These are facts which it is the duty of journalists to keep constantly before the people, and with which to stop the mouths of those who sneer at “ shabby savings,” and “small abolitions” of useless salaries, pensions, and fees, and retired allowances, to men who never did their country one iota of service, and much more probably did it all the injury, an active instrument, or truckling tool of misrule, could accomplish. The only question of revenue and expenditure, in which there exists any difference of opinion among Reformers, is the Debt. But this very dif. ference should unite them, on the principle that retrenchment of the expenditure is become a paramount object. Those who would hold absolute faith with the national creditors, must save all that is possible out of the three-sevenths, if they would fully discharge what in interest consumes the other four-sevenths of the entire revenue. Those who contend for equitable adjustment are equally bound to economy, that even the dividend, they allow to be just, may be forthcoming ; while, with one accord, all demand such retrenchment as may, so far as it is practicable, relieve the people of the most galling of their burdens, and set free the springs of industry.
The question next arises, in what departments may economy of expenditure be most readily or beneficially effected, holding sacred, meanwhile, the claims of the public creditor, or what all the people owe to a great part of the people. The expenditure of the year is calculated at above fifty millions, of which nearly twenty-nine is interest of the Debt, in one form or other. The other part, or above twenty-one millions, is under the control of Parliament-of the House of Commons as the Guardians of the Public Purse. We shall select but a few items of this immense sum for animadversion. There is first the Civil List, some. what reduced, but still amounting to £435,000, granted to their Majes. ties. With that we shall not interfere. There is next, in pensions to the Royal Family, niarried and unmarried, legitimate and illegitimate, £218,822, of which the Duke of Cumberland receives £17,250, and his son Prince George £6000. The military pensions may come next; and of these we have £37,389, of which the Duke of Wellington receives £8,889. But this is nothing in amount, though a great deal in reality, to the whole of the military dead weight, that is, the non-effective, i. e. the useless military expenditure, which amounts to £2,669,697. We have again the naval dead-weight, which gives us in return two pensioned or paid admirals, and four surgeons, for every ship, and costs us L1,229,381. Next we have the civil dead-weight ;-sums paid to retired or superannuated officers of customs, stamps, &c., &c., &c.,
on useless when in nominal employment, always overpaid, and retiring
to leave a burden on the country of £982,370. The expense of the actual army and navy,—the former above £5,000,000, the latter, though reduced considerably by the late alterations made by Sir James Graham, still above four millions,—we shall, for the present, lay aside, together with the expense of the Colonial management, the executive, the three millions for collecting the revenue, the large sums paid to the Bank of England for managing the debt and using the public money. But some of the civil pensions call aloud for notice, not so much for their amount as their shamelessness. £2000 a-year to Mr. Goulburn, for example ; £1500 to Mr. Croker ; £1000 to Mr. H. Hobhouse ; £1500 to Mr. Joseph Planta ; £3000 to the family of Mr. Canning ; £3000 to Lord Sidmouth ; £3000 to Mrs. Jane Carr, late Perceval, and so forth ;-all for civil services to the nation, the nature of which the nation is not likely to forget ; and for which, had any been performed, the functionaries were far overpaid by their salaries of office. “ Thus, Mr. Croker, after receiving L.3000 a-year, for many years, for doing mischief, gets L.1500 for doing nothing," save all the mischief he can. To the noblemen and gentlemen alone, who have been kind enough to visit the Ottoman Porte for us, we are now paying £14,000 a-year. The husband of Mrs. Harriet Arbuthnot receives L.2,300 of this, to eke out the pittance of L.938, 10s., granted for her services. And can we wonder to see discontent among the paying class? In some departments of the army, the expense has actually increased during seventeen years of peace. The ordnance expenditure has increased one-fifth. In 1817 it was £242,742 ; but last spring, the ordnance estimates were voted at £293,231_voted, too, in a grant of supply, amounting to a million and a half, among thirty-four other items of supply, and huddled over by the Guardians of the Public Purse, after midnight ; and on a night when fifty-nine separate pieces of business had been before the House, besides the ordinary consumption of time in routine matters, receiving petitions, &c. The way in which real business is done may be inferred from this. A few more unconnected facts may be thrown out, as subjects of rumination; for, when the amount of expenditure is seen, the more readily will modes of retrenchment be suggested in the various departments. Law and Justice cost the country above £723,805. And this is exclusive of the legal pensions, amounting to £53,654, of which £4000 is paid to Lord Eldon. Another £4000 may be claimed, as soon as he pleases, by that pure patriot and consistent judge or statesman, or statesman and judge, Lord Lyndhurst, and will be claimed the moment he ceases to draw something better from the office of Chief Baron of the Exchequer, so prudently bestowed upon him. Of this, £53,654, Sir Samuel Shepherd draws £3000, and Mr James Abercromby £2000; one late Lord of Session, (Monypenny,) £2,400 ; and another, (Sir A. Campbell,) L.1,950 ; and three others £1,500 each ; so that Scotland enjoys her fair share of the legal pensions. For unknown services we pay in pensions £55,642, of which the servants of George IV. get £13,832, and those of Queen Charlotte £9,681. Pensions to retired ambassadors and consuls cost us £63,423 a-year; and the expense of actual diplomacy is £264,616 : the COLONIAL DEPARTMENT is not quite so much, only £220,357. The Executive DEPARTMENT is charged at £261,900. Legislation, that is, the expenses of the House of Lords and the Commons, including clerks, Speaker's salaries, stationery, printing, &c. £244,772 ;-enough to allow a remuneration of nearly £400 per annum to every member of the Commons', and thus throw open its doors to the talent and honesty excluded by the present system. For Law and Justice in the three kingdoms the coun