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Bill essentially the same as that now before them, by a majority of fortyone, now accepted it by a majority of nine. There was nothing in the progress of the debate to account for this. It was, upon the whole, a less able, and a less spirited debate than the former one; but the falling off was more conspicuous on the side of the supporters of the Bill, than on the side of its opponents. The cause of so remarkable a change must be sought for in circumstances which preceded the discussion, and unfixed the determination of men whose principles were sufficiently pliable for adaptation to a real or fancied alteration of circumstances.
It is not our purpose here to venture an essay upon Reform; but in viewing this debate, and its important results, some remarks have occurred to us connected with them, which may not be unacceptable by way of commentary and explanation.
By the previous division and majority against the Bill, it was doubtless the expectation of many of those who voted, that the Ministry of Earl Grey would have been demolished, and that another Ministry would arise, from whom a reasonable Reform, and not a sweeping revolution, would have come. But Earl Grey, having the populace on his side, and thirteen relatives in good places, held fast, in spite of the "standing or falling" pledge, and gave every indication of determining to hold fast as long as there was any thing left to surrender to the mob, and thereby earn their “hoarse applause." It is not to be denied, that this had a prodigious effect; there are many men whose political valour (when in the opposition) is like the courage of Acres in the play, which brought him to the place of combat, but began to ooze away very fast, when he was obliged to wait:-it is one thing to be brave in the onslaught, and another to behave well during the whole course of a long pitched battle. Those who shrunk from the prospect of long warfare with men whose friendship is at times so convenient as that of Cabinet Ministers, were not indisposed to give way on the subject of the Bill. But in so respectable an assembly as the British House of Lords, these would have hardly been enough to convert a
majority of forty-one into a minority, were it not that they were assisted, as well as furnished, with a decent excuse, by the turning round of a man of Lord Harrowby's reputation. This nobleman seems to have been panic-struck by the non-conversion of the mobs, after his speech was spoken; and by the belief, which, on the representation of Lord Grey, he received as an incontrovertible certainty, that if he did not turn round, the House of Peers would be swamped by the degradation of many respectable Commoners to the situation of Lordship, and subserviency, in the Upper House.
He certainly persuaded himself, and endeavoured to persuade others, that it would be a less dangerous course to vote for the second reading, than to continue to oppose it, and his example and his argument were taken advantage of by those who, finding the Ministry not disposed to evacuate, felt themselves disposed to rat. In the House of Lords are a good many persons, who, half from constitutional timidity and love of quiet, and half from the effect of years, are mightily afraid of any thing like a stiff battle upon any subject whatever. Their nerves were more sensible to the immediate turmoil of resistance to the Reform Bill, than the remote resistance to the democracy which must one day or other be undertaken, if it pass; they would have been glad had the Ministry gone out; but as they remained in, it seemed to those easy persons, that, perhaps, things would go on smoothly enough with this Reform Bill, notwithstanding all the reasons which appeared to the contrary-at all events, they might vote for the second reading, and then "see what could be done they might still vote against it on the third reading." So they availed themselves of the opportunity of Lord Harrowby making a move, and went off with him.
Thus was the disgraceful complement of deserters made up. And this brings us to the consideration of the most remarkable circumstance attending this curious Ministerial majority. The second reading is carried by those who are notoriously and avowedly hostile to the Bill. It is composed of men who are reluctantly dragged by what is, or
what appears to them to be, the irresistible force of unfortunate circumstances. They vote with the Minister whom they abhor, because he is the author of the measure for which they vote. The Minister triumphs in the support of those who detest his measures. His majority give their assent, as a traveller assents to let his pockets be rifled by a highwayman, rather than be shot through the head. It is "the lesser of two evils" which are forced upon him for his choice. The parallel may be carried a little farther. As men have been known to take purses by the threat of firing a pistol which had nothing in it, or would not go off, Lord Grey has prevailed by talking of doing that which it now seems pretty certain he could not have done, if left to the alternative. If the Irishman's reply to the footpad, "Fire away, and be damned to you,' had been made to the Premier, when he talked of gazetting Peers, it would have been found, as it was by the Hibernian, that the threatened pistol was only a painted stick.
Among those who have deserted, there are none whose personal weight upon such a question ought to avail much. The great men of the Conservatives have remained firm. Those whose opinion upon a subject so closely interwoven with constitutional law should be paramount to other men, remain unmoved from their former decision. Two ExChancellors of Great Britain, and one of Ireland-the late Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas the present Chief-Justice of the King's Bench, are among the most conspicuous opponents of the Bill. Those arrayed in its favour are men who have never been distinguished for judgment, nor discretion, nor success. Their highest praise is that of eminence in Parliamentary speaking, and even there they are distanced by their opponents. Considered as pieces of Parliamentary eloquence merely, there were no speeches made in favour of the Bill, on the late occasion, which were not surpassed by Lord Mansfield and Lord Lyndhurst.
What prospect does the debate hold out for the Bill in committee? We should say a very doubtful one, though we are fully aware of the
strong hold which, in ordinary cases, the second reading gives to any bill in Parliament. It would be ridiculous to deny that, by the late division, the Ministry have gained a great advantage, if they can be said to gain by that of which the success would soon undo themselves and the country together: but the circumstances under which the majority for the second reading has been obtained are so peculiar, that except by the renewed operation of the influences which produced the ratting of so many in the late division, the Minister will find himself in a minority on some clauses which hitherto the Government have affected to consider essentially important to the
But it is unquestionable that the main thing still wanting is a sure and certain hope of a powerful protecting party to take up the reins of Government, in the event of turning out the present men. We want a Tory Government, identified in principle, in feeling, and in spirit, with the Tory people with a hope of this, the people would bestir themselves, and would make the babble of the Revolutionists, about the "resistless demands of the multitude" for this Reform Bill, practically ridiculous in a very short time.
Judging from the principles of human nature, and the experience of history, we have all along been clearly of opinion, and we are more than ever so now, that the safer as well as the braver course would have been to have rejected the Bill on the second reading. Knowing that the revolutionary spirit feeds on concession, and becomes more impetuous with every advantage it gains, nothing is clearer than that a bold front and a determined resistance was the way to have met the danger. Dumont_has_told us that the whole French Revolution was brought about by the concessions and weakness of the King; and that down to his imprisonment in the Temple, if he had ever put himself at the head of the Conservative party, he would have stemmed the torrent. If any man doubt the truth of this, let him consider how manifestly the Revolutionary spirit drooped in England after the rejection in October, and how hopeless the cause
of Reform would have been, but for the democratic legislature created during the frenzy of April 1831, and the possession of power by an administration dependant for its existence on its success.
But it was a wise maxim of Napoleon Bonaparte's-" Il ne faut pas nous facher des choses passés.' To the historian will belong the consideration of the causes which forced on the English Revolution at a period when the nation had ceased to be solicitous about the matter; and a more instructive lesson for future ages never was presented to mankind. It will be found all to consist in one circumstance, the unhappy weakness which created revolutionary interests: the elevation to power and importance of a body of men on the passions of the moment, whose interests and power were dependant on forcing on innovating measures. This it is which in all ages has rendered the progress of democracy, when once it gains a place in the legislature, irresistible. The people speedily tire of changes which bring them only misery but while passion is fleeting, interests is permanent; and the masters they have chosen for themselves never cease to struggle for the maintenance of a system which, though it has desolated their country, has elevated themselves.
To us belongs a different task. We have to consider how the mis-chief done may be repaired: how the vantage ground lost may be regained.
That it may be done, if the Peers have the courage, or the firmness to engage in the conflict, is self evident. When the Bill was carried by a majority of two present Peers in the House, where there was formerly majority of forty-one against it, it is clear that their Lordships have the means of stemming the torrent and saving the country, if they are not wanting in the inclination. Victory is in their hands, if they will only use it. If the nation is to be ruined; if the long line of British splendour is about to set; if the waves of democracy are to overwhelm the country of Alfred, history will know on whom to fix the infamy of having occasioned it.
What the Conservative Peers have
to do, therefore, is clear. They must extract all the democratic clauses from the Bill in the committee; they must render it a Bill consistent with existing rights; they must mould it into the Duke of Buckingham's Bill. Nothing short of this will do. It would not do to make a few nominal changes; it would not do to reject the metropolitan members, change the L.10 clause into a rate instead of a rent, or cut off the whole of schedule B. All these are improvements, but they leave the Bill substantially the same as before. If schedule A and the L.10 clause stand, there is an end of the Monarchy, the Aristocracy, the Church, and the Funds. Universal misery must ensue, if these portals of Pandemonium stand open. No existing rights must be extinguished without compensation, or the King's title to his throne may, on the same principle, be destroyed. No mob of electors in the great towns must_be permitted to banish every man of respectability from the poll; none of the existing avenues to colonial representation must be closed. The only changes which can safely be made, plainly are, the consolidation of the decayed boroughs in proportion to the extension of the franchise to great towns now unrepresented, upon making full compensation to the subsisting freemen for the contraction or diminution of their rights, and the formation of a class of freemen in the new places at a different rate according to the size of the town. Ten pounds would be a high franchise in some small boroughs; forty pounds would be too low in most of the great towns. All the other boroughs must be allowed to stand on the subsisting rights, or the colonies will cease to be represented, and the empire will be dismembered.
The Conservative party, all those who, in October 1831, voted against the second reading, must strike at these pillars of democratic ascendency, the L.10 clause, and schedule A, or they do nothing. If these stand, all they may now gain is not worth contending for. It will all be rescued from them in the first session of a Reformed Parliament.
No danger, no threats must be permitted to stand between them and the discharge of this great duty to and their descendants, their country,
the human race.
Nothing could be imagined so favourable to the ultimate restoration
No threatened version has opened the flood-gates of the constitution to the torrent of democracy. We shall judge of them, as history will do, by their actions. If they succeed in new-modelling the Bill in its essential parts in Committee, they may yet deserve well of their country; if they do not, they will incur the infamy of having betrayed it. But let them recollect, their countrymen and their descendants will judge of them by a sterner rule than they apply to those who always supported Reform. They have shewn by their speeches and their conduct that they were fully aware of the dangers of passing the Rubicon; their opponents have all along been insensible to their existence. If the Bill passes, history will have no mercy for the men, who, seeing the danger, would not resist; who, appreciating the misery, would not avert it. It will stigmatize the reformers as rash and insane, but the waverers as weak and wicked men. It will condemn them out of their own mouths; and hold them up to the latest posterity as those who, gifted with talent, polished by rank, and enlightened by knowledge, were seduced by ambition, or intimidated by imagination; who yielded when the danger was over, who volunteered to man the breach, and fled upon the assault; who might have saved England, and by their weakness were overwhelmed in its ruins.
of British freedom, as that the Reform Bill, if it is to be carried at all, should be thrust upon the country by such a violent act. That at once commits the reformers into an ille-, gal course it stamps usurpation and tyranny upon their colours. Let them thus go on, then, with the flag of usurpation flying: we shall see whether British feeling do not at last recoil against the loss of their liberties; and when the day of legal and constitutional reaction comes, the creation of Peers will point to the period from which the work of demolition is to commence. Every thing following on it may be swept from the statute-book, and the constitution will be restored to its ancient freedom.
We do not now arraign the motives of the vacillating Peers, whose con
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will break, sometimes not the thunder-peal with all its echoes. Imagination is a brighter and a bolder Beauty, with large lamping eyes of uncertain colour, as if fluctuating with rainbow-light, and features fine, it is true, as those which Grecian genius gave to the Muses in the Parian marble, but in their daring delicacy defined like the face of Apollo. As for Hope-divinest of the divine-Collins, in one long line of light, has painted the picture of the angel
"And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair!"
THE time was when we could describe the Spring-the Spring on WINDERMERE. But haply this weary work-day world's cares "have done our harp and hand some wrong;" and we must leave that pleasant task now to Hartley Coleridge, or some other young Poet of the Lakes. Were we not the best-hearted human beings that ever breathed, we should hate all the people that dwell in that Paradise. But we love while we envy them; and have only to hope that they are all grateful to Providence. Here are we cooped up in a cage-a tolerably roomy one, we confess-while our old friends, the North of England eagles, Thus is the old man happy as a are flying over the mountains. The humming-bird. He sits on the balthought is enough to break a weaker cony of his front parlour, dimly disheart. But one of the principal cerned by the upward eye of stranger, points in Christopher's creed is while whispers Cicerone-" this is "Pine not nor repine;" and perfect the house"-dimly discerned through contentment accompanies wisdom. flowers; while the river of his spiThree lovely sisters often visit the rit "wandereth at its own sweet old man's city-solitude-Memory, will" through all the climes of creaImagination, Hope! 'Twould be tion. At this blessed moment he is hard to say which is the most beau- sitting, at the leaf-veiled, half-open tiful. Memory has deep, dark, quiet window, pen in hand-pen made of eyes, and when she closes their light, quill of Albatross, sent him from afar the long eyelashes lie like shadows by one whom Maga delighteth beon her pale pensive cheeks, that yond the Great Deep,-and lo! smile faintly as if the fair dreamer Edina's castled cliff becomes the were half-awake and half-asleep; a Langdale-Pikes-Moray Place, Winvisionary slumber which sometimes dermere-Stockbridge, Bownessthe dewdrop melting on its leaf and No. 99 the ENDEAVOUR, on the
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