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of double proxy, and the Members would almost as soon recover their individual character as statesmen, as the House itself, collectively, would its credit for patriotism. It does at first appear a little extraordinary, that so few of these Hereditary Legislators, thus, as it were, "to the manner born," should ever even utter a few disjointed sentences in debate; but the cause has, no doubt, in a great measure been, that they have chosen rather as a luxury to appear by their agents in another Court, which, upon that very account, has for many years monopolized all the business. Of all the various misstatements put forward to prevent the passing of the Reform Bill, there is none more diametrically opposed to the truth than that it would be fatal to the importance and independence of the House of Lords. The importance and independence of the House of Lords !-On how few occasions during the last half century, compared with any former periods of our history, have their Lordships shown their importance, by exerting their independence. It is during that period especially that they have been in a false position, not by any means from their having given up political power, but from their having transferred their seat of government to the conquered country-the House of ComThence the disuse into which the House of Lords has fallenthence its deserted benches, and the listless unoccupied appearance of the few stragglers who, between five and seven, stroll about its matted alleys, whilst some one-they hardly care who is making motions or asking questions, about-they hardly know what. And why should they, or what motive have they for exertion? For long they have been aware that their individual consequence in the eyes of the distributors of power, has been estimated not by the sound of the voice they could openly raise there, but by the echo of their secret whispers elsewhere. On most great questions it is true that there have been discussions, sometimes more, sometimes less detailed, but those who have engaged in them have been aware that they must be entirely without result-a sort of sham-fight, or rather a feint to distract public attention from the real attack, which other divisions of the same forces were carrying on elsewhere. It is not where no glory calls, nor fame awaits, that zealous volunteers rush forward to offer themselves. It may be said that, still after all, the House of Lords is a Debating Society; and to a certain extent this is true, but all other debating societies are assemblies composed of persons whom the love of oratory alone collects, men anxious to express opinions which they are powerless to carry into effect. The Lords have oratory like "greatness thrust upon them," and, without trouble, they feel sure of having their opinions carried into effect, for, with one or two exceptions (of which a word presently), they have only met (borrowing a phrase from the Anti-Reformers) to "register the edicts" of what they have called the House of Commons. The influence of individual Peers, who are boroughmongers, will no doubt be diminished by Reform, but the personal characters, even of those individuals, are likely to be improved by a new stimulus for exertion, and the importance of themselves and their brethren as a body, will, without a doubt, be increased by their political power being confined within its proper sphere, there to be exercised ostensibly and in person, instead of sending their mercenaries forth into a territory to which they have no claim; and when no longer allowed to interfere, by these indirect
means, in the concerns of others, they are more likely to attend to their own duties themselves. Experience proves this to have been the case.
This inactivity of the House of Lords, as a body, has gradually increased since. the time of Sir R. Walpole, who first organized that system of corruption, which has, by degrees, destroyed the power of the people in the House of Commons.
Let the reader look back to the different state in which things were before that time. In the days of Queen Anne, for instance. The preponderance of political talent in the Members of the House of Lords over those of the House of Commons was not then, perhaps, more strongly marked than now. Yet how differently was public attention then divided. The debates were not then reported in the wonderful manner in which they now are, and therefore it is difficult to estimate their talent for debate; but it is impossible to see the number of the protests first of the Tory and then of the Whig Lords of that day, without observing the activity of their proceedings, or to read their contents without, in many instances, being struck with the shrewd, terse, business-like style of their arguments. Most of the names, which then figured in every page of the Journals, have descended to this day, and we should not be particularly struck with either the activity or the business-like habits of the present possessors.
It will hardly be believed, without some example, how many of those, who from their earliest days must have known that they were destined to a certain career, seem rather to have chosen to devote themselves to any other pursuit. How many have never opened their lips in that Council of the Nation, from which no unfitness or inattention can remove them! It would be invidious to select instances. Let us, therefore, begin at the top of the list; meaning, of course, the list of those who voted upon the last question which has occupied them, that of Reform. The majority, doubtless, have right to the precedence, and passing by the Princes from courtesy, the anti-reforming dukes are, in due order, Beaufort, Leeds, Marlborough, Rutland, Manchester, Dorset, Newcastle, Northumberland. We have got thus far without finding one whom the reader will recollect to have ever uttered a word in debate; two more names, at the bottom of the list, fill up the complement of anti-reforming Dukes, and these are the great Duke of Wellington and the big Duke of Buckingham-one as undeniably great as the other is undoubtedly big, these two have both occasionally taken part in debate. In their style of speaking, they are as dissimilar as in their figures; but in rank as orators, a Plutarchian balance might be struck between them without injury to either, both being infinitely below mediocrity. There is not one of the eight dumb Dukes enumerated above who might not speak as well as either of them, if he only chose to try; but none ever have tried, though not any of them young men: and having acted as senators during some of the most eventful portions of our history, it may be questioned whether any one ever raised his voice beyond the undertone of polite conversation, except, perhaps, at a corporation feast or a cover side. Some years back, without a reason, and in silence, they all voted the degradation of an injured woman. But a few weeks since, without a reason and in silence, they opposed themselves to the
wishes of a united people. Yet follow these men into private life, they will most of them be found exemplary in all its relations; kind and charitable, considerate landlords, active magistrates, intelligent men of business; there must, then, be some defect in the present exercise of its functions by the House of Lords, which induces them to neglect a career which seems most naturally open to them, and where their first duties call them. It is unnecessary to pursue this question farther. The names that have been taken at the head of the list, it may be inferred, are a fair sample of the rest, as there is no reason why a Duke should be more dumb or dense than a man in any other degree in the peerage. It is true that one could not get so far in the other list, that of the minority; one could not even pass by the first name without exciting recollections of liberal sentiments, expressed creditably to the individual. Yet even amongst these who have conveyed the petitions of the people to the House of which they are members-backing them with their earnest recommendations -their own sentiments are rather to be gathered upon those occasions when they have gone out of their peculiar province to seek public meetings; when amongst the people, they have spoken to the people and for the people, than from any voluntary display in so uninviting an arena as the House of Lords.
This is not as it should be, nor is it inevitable; it could only be beyond cure if there were not materials in the House of Lords for oratorical display: but so far is this from being the case, that it does happen that there are now collected within that assembly almost every one of the first orators of the day-all the rich variety of whose different stylesr emain dormant for want of a motive for exertion. This motive would be found in the restored independence of the House of Lords as a legislative assembly, which would be one of the consequences of efficient Reform.
It is not necessary to prove that pre-eminent power of speaking which could upon occasion be called forth in the House of Lords, by referring to what passed during the Reform Bill. The lengthened notice taken in our last number of him, appropriately styled "The Man of the Time," prevents any farther allusion here to that most extraordinary speech, which in the brilliant variety and comprehensive facility of its genius was like nothing ever heard or that could be imagined, except perhaps a play of Shakspeare spoken extempore. But it is not on this one speech, however pre-eminent, that the character of the debate rests. For five long nights, on a subject previously supposed exhausted, there was a succession of speeches, in almost all of which new ideas were ingeniously put forward. Of course, there were various degrees of excellence; but in all that time there were not, on either side, more than two or three essentially bad speeches. What a sensation would at least one half of those delivered have made, if transferred to any part of the five months' previous debate in the House of Commons! Only consider the names of the members of the Cabinet that belong to the House of Lords. It is not necessary to stop at those two who first suggest themselves, the Premier or the Chancellor, and who may be considered as impersonations of perfection in distinct styles of oratory-the aristocratic (if we can so apply that epithet) and the popular. But go through all the other members of the present Cabinet, and you will find that almost every
one of them came up from the House of Commons with a well-earned reputation for first-rate talent in speaking, which has since been shelved in this lordly lumber-room. One only had not the advantage of previous practice enjoyed by all his brethren-Lord Holland was never in the House of Commons. It would be curious to speculate what effect the experience of a popular assembly would have had upon that most delightful speaker, who alone has persisted for so many years in attempting to animate the lifeless blocks by which he has been surrounded. When irresistibly borne along by a torrent of brilliant ideas or generous sentiments, what effect would it have had upon him, if those gasping pauses, produced by physical exhaustion, had been filled up, as they would have been anywhere else in the world, not by the muttered approbation of two or three friends, but by the reiterated cheers of resounding numbers? We have here speculated on what would have been the career of one of the most popular speakers in the House of Lords, if Fate had placed him in the House of Commons. Let us reverse the picture, and suppose the apotheosis of a House of Commons' idol in the House of Lords.
It was stated in the November article that Sir Robert Peel enjoyed a reputation in the House of Commons infinitely beyond that which extended to the country. It is true that at the present moment he possesses the command of that House. How long he may do sowhat the faults of omission in others, or what the merit in himself may be which causes this, is beyond the sphere of the present inquiry. The fact cannot be denied out of the House till it is disputed in it. One thing we may prophesy, that no inexplicable forbearance towards him would long enable his ascendancy to withstand the suicide of such exhibitions as the debate on the introduction of the Reform Bill produced, of which it is said the manner was as offensive as the substance was harmless. In the mean time, he is in the Lower House undoubtedly a master amongst journeymen in the science of debate. But suppose the original Sir Robert had been made a Baron, instead of a Baronet-two or three of Mr. Pitt's freaks in the plenitude of his power were not less strange than that would have been-what would Lord Peel's command now have been?— would he have stretched forth his arm and shaken that long forefinger with such perfect unconcern, if it had pointed at Lord Grey the while?-would he have pushed back as jauntily the lapels of his coat, if he had been exposing himself all the time to the searching sarcasms of Lord Brougham?-how much might then have been for ever suppressed of his prim pleasantry and candid praise of himself?—would that extraordinary splash, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, of the 12th of December, have been ventured, if with the certainty that it would have provoked the dignified rebuke of Lord Grey, the keen irony of Lord Brougham? It must be recollected that if Peel came up to the Lords with his House of Commons' reputation, Lord Grey's power to crush him must not be merely estimated by any ability the latter has found it necessary to exert in the course of the many desultory conversations, rather than debates, which occurred in the course of last summer. A lion (above all, an old lion) does not put forth all his power to prey upon "such small deer" as Londonderry, Aberdeen, and as an orator (forgive us, his sycophants!) even the Duke of Wellington. No, as long as necessary (which might not be very long). it would produce a
succession of such dressings as Lord Lyndhurst experienced, in the reply of the morning of the 8th of October. Peel's enemies, if he have any, could not desire more.
Nor can Brougham's ascendancy over him be fairly estimated by any thing that passed during the last two or three years in the House of Commons, when mutual dislike of the Ultra Tories forced the two orators into a sort of alliance;-when Peel was always speaking, to be cheered from before, not from behind when the forbearance of the Whigs alone kept the Government in place—and when Brougham, if he did vote against them, said it was a vote "wrung from him with pain." No, to ascertain how completely Brougham could suppress him into silence, one must go back to the olden time-as, for instance, when Peel was once indiscreet enough to venture a laboured attack upon Brougham, upon a subject (the Education Committee) on which, whilst he had the appearance of attempting an unfair advantage, no preparation could give him even gleanings from the other's perfect knowledge. The signal failure of this attempt was commemorated in some smart lines, then attributed to the Hon. F. Douglas; and the effect of the failure was long and sullen silence on the part of the foiled aggressor.*
In estimating the temper of the House of Lords, it is rather curious to observe what was its conduct during the long summer months, when their Lordships were "kept waiting" for the Reform · Bill. The position of the Opposition then was a singular one. They were known to command a decided majority hostile towards the Ministry of the day; yet so unpopular in the country would have been that majority on any of the domestic questions on which they could have brought it to bear, that they did not dare to avail themselves of it; and in powers of regular debate on any subject, they knew they could make no stand whatever against the forces which could have been brought against them. They therefore confined themselves to harassing skirmishes on foreign politics, rather preferring to endanger the interests of this country, than to omit or even delay what they thought would be a source of annoyance to their political adversaries. One cannot say that their object was to involve their country in the horrors of war: but in men renowned for political sagacity, the object is generally judged by the tendency of their actions; and in the course of no former negociations was such singular use made of surmise, reports, and garbled extracts of unauthenticated newspapers, as then was by those whose former official experience must have opened their eyes to the danger; though gratitude for former forbearance, on the very grounds asked for, and granted to themselves, did not operate as a restraint. On the contrary, frequent discussions were forced on at moments when the discretion of all former Oppositions would have told them that the interests of the country were best consulted by silent forbearance, and certainly
We cannot prevail on ourselves to leave out a word of our able correspondent's remarks, but, with all deference to his experienced observation and fine judgment, we must express our individual persuasion that in no assembly where the English language is spoken, could Peel fail of being a great and impressive speaker. Brougham might have crushed him some years ago, but he has greatly improved since then. "Orator fit." We also differ, in some respects, with our correspondent in his estimate of Lord Aberdeen.