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always pursued with the same unremitting activity and pointed to the same end.' To perceive how lamentably time and circumstance have dimmed and distorted the once clear views of this great orator upon the foreign policy of Great Britain, it is only necessary to glance at the following recommendation, addressed in 1849 to the House of Lords upon the desirableness of an intimate political alliance with Russia :— We should avail ourselves of the establishment of a republic in France to ally ourselves with a mighty empire which is impregnable in itself, and has resources which no other country possesses, even pecuniary, as well as military resources.' This was said but a few days before the ruler of the mighty empire,' possessed of unrivalled pecuniary resources, was under the necessity of asking the English people to lend him money, at an exorbitant rate of interest, to finish the railway from St Petersburg to Moscow!
*But let us not dwell upon so painful a contrast. The law - reforms urged by Mr Brougham, eloquently, but for the moment unsuccessfully, were of the wisest, and did him honour; and in the settlement of the emancipation question in 1829, he took a zealous and decided part, supporting the Wellington - Peel cabinet with his utmost power.
His popularity increased daily; and although he still sat for a close borough — that of Knaresborough, the Duke of Cleveland, his former nominator, supporting the general policy of the Wellington ministry
- he was one of the most important members of the House, as well as one of the most influential men in the country. We may here remark that Mr Brougham always exhibited a great deal of shyness and indecision in the matter of parliamentary reform. Not only did he treat Jeremy Bentham's scheme of universal suffrage- not excluding idiots (this was one of the utilitarian philosopher's' amusing crotchets) with unsparing ridicule, but others of a moderate and sober character met with but faint support at his hands. At one time his plan of organic reform appears only to have contemplated the reconstruction and enlargement of the Scottish constituencies, and this chiefly as an experiment to ascertain how far innovation was likely to prove safe and expedient. William Cobbett was constantly twitting ‘Lawyer Brougham' with his indifference or hostility to parliamentary reform. Mr Brougham's own experience had not hitherto been of a nature to incline him to regard large constituencies with affection or esteem. He had been, as before stated, defeated at Liverpool by Mr Canning, and twice he unsuccessfully contested the county of Westmoreland with the Lowther family. The time at last arrived for a striking reversal of this apparent denial of confidence on the part of the electoral body. In 1830 the tomb closed over his Majesty George IV., and a numerous and influential requisition soon afterwards invited Mr Brougham to offer himself as a candidate for the representation of the great county of York. He complied with the invitation; and although second on the poll to Lord Morpeth, there can be no question that Henry Brougham, with no claim on the suffrages of the electors but his public character and qualifications, was, as he proudly styled himself, the representative of Yorkshire, in a more strict and positive sense than the noble and amiable lord and others, who owed their seats in a great degree to traditional and family influence. It was a stirring time on the continent as well as in England.
The long pent-up indignation of the French people against the assumptions of an ignoble despotism had at last exploded, and shattered to atoms the throne of the elder Bourbons. The new government had not yet had time to develop its true character and mission, although
What seemed its head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on;' and the victorious shouts of the French people were re-echoed from almost every hustings, and from every popular body in Great Britain. The aspect of the Opposition on the meeting of parliament was exulting, defiant. Mr Brougham, the acknowledged leader of the liberal party in the House of Commons, was brimful of triumph; not that he expected, nor would, so he said, accept of office under any circumstances. When I was returned for Yorkshire,' he exclaimed, 'I made my election between power and the people.' But he rejoiced in the nation's joy, and eagerly girded up loins for the great struggle which he and all men felt instinctively was close at hand. The abrupt and impolitic declaration of the Duke of Wellington against any change in the representation of the people kindled the zeal of the Opposition both within and without the walls of parliament into a blaze, and Henry Brougham was the conducting-rod which discharged the consuming flame upon the heads of the ministry. After & fierce preliminary invective in allusion to the Duke of Wellington's speech, he exclaimed, looking Sir Robert Peel and Sir George Murray full in the face: ‘Him we scorn not; it is you we scorn-you, his mean, base, fawning parasites !' Sir Robert was in a moment on his feet, and in a voice as angry and contemptuous as that of his assailant, denied that he was the parasite of any man.' The uproar and confusion excited by language so unusual lasted for some time; but at length, according to immemorial usage on such occasions, the offensive expressions were pronounced to be merely parliamentary, and Mr Brougham went on with his speech. Very soon afterwards the ministry were out of office, and the country knew that Earl Grey had been sent for, and had undertaken to construct a cabinet upon the principles of peace, retrenchment, and reform. It seemed at first that Mr Brougham would not be in the ministry. He himself declared he should not, and he gave notice in the House of Commons that he would bring forward his motion on parliamentary reform let who would be minister. There was evidently some hitch or hesitation about his appointment to or acceptance of office. Some of the newspapers adverse to the cabinet in embryo asserted that Mr Brougham was first offered the attorneygeneralship by Earl Grey, and that the only answer the learned gentleman made to the insulting proposition was tearing and trampling upon the official letter in presence of the messenger who brought it. He, the leader of the Opposition in the Lower House, and the member for Yorkshire, attorney-general ! Monstrous ! At last it was announced that Mr Brougham was to be lord high chancellor! The news was received, literally, with a shout of mingled terror and exultation. Henry Brougham a lord! and, moreover, a lord chancellor ! Why, that alone in those days looked like a revolution. Mr Croker immediately accused the noble and learned baron of gross inconsistency in accepting office immediately after his declaration that he would not do so; to which the Lord Chancellor indirectly replied in the speech of which we have already quoted the most important sentences. The deed was done—was irrevocable; and the astonished lords went home to muse and moralise upon the ominous coincidence of Brougham's appearance at the head of the House of Peers and the advent of the Asiatic cholera, just declared to be certain and imminent in these distracted kingdoms.
The admirers of the noble and learned lord, whose name was legion, felt great anxiety as to how their favourite would deport himself amongst the grave and reverend seigniors with whom he found himself so unexpectedly associated. He did not disappoint their expectations. Night after night, especially during the first session subsequent to his elevation, the lords were assailed and overborne by a torrent of sparkling and nervous eloquence utterly new and strange to their noble House. It was a tribune of the people haranguing against privilege and prescription from the woolsack of the hereditary Peers ! Sight so portentous they had never seen, and it was some time before they could look the danger calmly in the face. When they did so, they quickly found there was no great cause for fear. The new chancellor they perceived was anything but the turbulent and irreverent demagogue they at first apprehended him to be; and the feeling of virulent antagonism gradually subsided. It was long, however, before the atmosphere of the august chamber had so far subdued his impetuous temperament that they could feel tolerably secure against a sudden infringement of the dignified courtesy usual to their House. On one occasion, we think in the third year of his chancellorship, a characteristic and amusing scene occurred. The House was thinly attended, and the Dukes of Wellington and Cumberland were sitting close to each other, conversing in a low tone of voice. The debate was a dull one, and the Lord Chancellor when speaking took occasion to remark that the epithet
illustrious' was sometimes used in a conventional sense, implying no real merit or eminence in the person so designated. 'For instance,' said he, looking sharply in the direction of the two conversing dukes, 'the Duke of Cumberland is illustrious by "courtesy” only, but the Duke of Wellington is illustrious by his character and services. A bombshell falling at the feet of the astonished dukes could not have more startled them—Wellington probably not so much. His Royal Highness of Cumberland was exceedingly indignant. 'Why,' he angrily demanded, 'had he, who had taken no part in the discussion, was not even listening to it, been dragged into it in that unseemly manner?' The Lord Chancellor coolly replied, "that it had suddenly occurred to him that his Royal Highness and the Duke of Wellington afforded apt illustration of the truth he was endeavouring to enforce-that there was a vast and essential difference between individuals illustrious “by courtesy” and those who were illustrious by achievements and success. This was making matters worse; and it was some time before the Duke of Cumberland could be pacified—his irritation being naturally greatly increased by the ironical nonchalance of the chancellor and the partially-suppressed hilarity of other peers.
The vicissitudes which marked the progress of the Reform Bill we need not dwell upon. Lord Brougham throughout the struggle displayed the restless energy which then distinguished him. The taunts he addressed to the Peers upon the insignificancy, even in point of wealth, of the aristocracy, 'with all their castles, manors, rights of warren and rights of chase, and their broad acres reckoned at fifty years' purchase,' when compared with the vast possessions of the middle-classes ; his assertion of their lordships' inferiority to the industrious men of England -not indeed in grace of manners or refined elegance of taste, but in sober, practical wisdom—were applauded to the echo, and helped to confirm and extend the delusion which prevailed as to the democratic tendencies of Lord Brougham's mind. His greatly-praised speech upon the second reading of the bill strikes us, on perusing it now, as scarcely worthy of the speaker or of the occasion. It is far inferior to the addresses of Francis Jeffrey and Sir James Mackintosh on the same subject, both of which, because they were superior to the sparkling mediocrity best adapted to a miscellaneous audience, fell dead and cold upon the House. There was also in Lord Brougham's address a manifest indication of a wish for compromise, cleverly veiled as it may be, which would have greatly lowered his lordship in the estimation of the more eager reformers had it not been lost sight of in the glitter of the more showy passages, of the peroration especially, with its illustration, always effective, hackneyed as it is, of the fabled Sibyl's diminishing books and increasing price. The opening of the speech offers a striking specimen of the exaggeration which at times so greatly marred the beauty and effect of his lordship’s oratory : If I, now standing with your lordships on the brink of the most momentous decision that ever human assembly came to at any period of the world, and seeking to arrest you while it is yet time, in that position, could by any divination of the future have foreseen in my earliest years that I should have to appear here and to act as your adviser on a question of such awful importance, not only to yourselves but to your remotest posterity, I should have devoted every day and every hour of that life to preparing myself for the task which I now almost sink under.' It is quite certain that if he had so devoted every day and hour of his life, he would never have delivered that or any other speech from the woolsack. The first general election under the new law gave the Grey ministry an overwhelming majority. As the returns came in, the new danger, the great peril in this country of a too great success, broke for a moment upon Lord Brougham's mind, and he exclaimed, “We shall be too strong!' Prophetic words, as the sequel abundantly proved. The ministry had encountered a fierce, able, almost desperate opposition, and the deadlier the struggle the more powerful did they emerge from it. They were now to grapple with a more insidious and fatal enemy—almost absolute political power; and they fell in public opinion almost as rapidly as they had risen. The first act of the reformed parliament was to repeal the habeas-corpus act in Ireland, to substitute courts - martial for jury-trial, and to prohibit popular meetings in that country. However much Mr O'Connell's turbulence might appear to justify measures of repression, the passing of such an act at the dictation of a ministry could not but destroy the prestige of the new House—not perhaps in the opinion of those who opposed the Reform measure, but certainly in that of the men who had so fiercely struggled to obtain it
. Lord Brougham, as if desirous of attracting towards himself more than his due share of popular odium, ran riot in his advocacy of this penal enactment, and exulted with rampant delight over the expedients devised for
putting down agitation'— language which from his lips sounded very strangely. To crown all, Sir Andrew Agnew's preposterous bill for insuring the “bitter' observance of the Sabbath, although subsequently defeated, was read a second time by the decision of a majority of the new House. The disappointment was general, intense-unreasonably so, as subsequent experience has proved. Sir Robert Peel read the new signs of the times with keen sagacity. The enthusiasm for the Whig ministry having utterly vanished, the next dissolution, whenever it should come, must tell a tale, and the far-sighted baronet immediately began to organise ' liberal conservatism.' The maintenance of the corn-laws in their integrity' was made a cabinet question; and coldness and disgust rapidly overgrew the once ardent and hopeful minds of the great movement party. Still it cannot be denied that great and wise measures were subsequently brought forward and passed by the Grey cabinet. For proof of this, we need only mention the Slave-Emancipation Act—the throwing open of the China trade—the modification, in a liberal sense, of the East India Company's charter—the chancellor's bankruptcy reforms---and the promise, at all events, of a popular reconstruction of municipal corporations. They failed, however, to win back the confidence of the people. The early retirement of Lord Durham from the cabinet also told gravely upon the public mind : it was believed, and there is now no doubt correctly believed, that to him the comparatively wide sweep of the Reform Bill — especially the total disfranchisement of the close boroughs—was mainly attributable. Lord Brougham was not for going so far. At a meeting of liberal members held in 1830, on the day after the resignation of the Wellington-Peel cabinet, at Lord Althorp's chambers, he said he should propose to cut off one member from every close borough, and to absolutely disfranchise some, but he greatly questioned the expediency of wholly abolishing this class of seats.' In the session of 1834 the squabbles, accusations, criminations, explanations of the ministry relative to the renewal of the court-martial clauses of the Irish Coercion Bill, still further damaged the cabinet in public estimation. Lord Grey ultimately withdrew from office, and after much caballing and negotiation, Lord Melbourne's • lath-and-plaster' cabinet, as the “Times' called it, was duly installed. The virulence which a portion of the Conservative press had never ceased to manifest against Lord Brougham burst forth at this time with tenfold bitterness. Amongst other agreeable imputations, he was accused over and over again, and in almost direct terms, of habitual addiction to drinkà charge covertly repeated in the House of Lords by the Duke of Buckingham, who remarked that the noble and learned lord would no doubt carouse 'pottle deep' over the success of the intrigues which had removed Earl Grey from office. The Lord Chancellor retorted angrily upon his Grace for assailing him with such alehouse slang;' and the dispute was apparently growing serious, when it was suggested, in behalf of the duke, that the words 'pottle deep'were Shakspeare's, and consequently legitimate-orthodox; with which Shakspearian explanation the Chancellor professed himself satisfied, and in his turn said that “alehouse slang' was merely a parliamentary periphrasis, conveying no meaning of a personally offensive or uncivil nature. The accusation so perseveringly urged against Lord Brougham was a false and scandalous one. Intemperance