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often conducted in a tone and a temper which would lead one to suppose that party views actuated the speakers too strongly not to blind them to all hazards. The fact was, that finding how completely their opinions on home policy were at variance with those of the vastly preponderating majority of the people of England, the Opposition were anxious to divert their thoughts into some other channel, in which, by reviving obsolete national prejudices, or exciting unnecessary alarms and jealousies, they might establish some point on which their unpopularity should not be so notorious. But they completely deluded themselves. If they could have for a moment diverted the attention of the people of England from that great question on which their hopes are fixed, it would not have been to regard affairs abroad with their eyes. It is true, that it was Reform which drove out the late Government. But had not the storm of unpopularity, which a memorable declaration engendered, burst upon their devoted heads, and sufficed to overwhelm the Duke, and swallow up the other members of his Government almost unobserved, still the prime mover of all these discussions - the Earl of Aberdeen might know that there was an under current of opinion strongly setting in against him and his foreign policy, that he would have found it difficult to withstand. The people of England are perfectly aware that there are two principles at war in the world at present: one which asserts that the people are only created for the pleasure of their governors; the other, that governments are only maintained for the benefit of the people. Now, it is frequently impossible for states, in their relations with each other, to act purely on one or other of these principles, complicated as their relations are by previously contracted obligations, and real or supposed separate national interests: but as every Government will always be imagined to have a bias towards one or the other, to which it best befits England to lean there can hardly be a doubt. The first, or what is called the liberal side, the Government of Mr.Canning (who perhaps departed from the policy of his predecessor in spirit more than in any overt act,) was' universally supposed to favour. The Noble Earl who is now the great questioner and critic on foreign politics, was said to relapse into that course which he had learnt at Vienna. The great, the almost insurmountable desire of the people of England is peace-peace, if it can be preserved with honour. But if they could have been deluded by their feelings to sacrifice their discretion, and act upon this sympathy, they would hardly have been deceived by those Noble Lords, who, at that moment, when a brave people, whose heroism has since been equalled by their misfortunes, were in the last struggling agonies of independence, could confine their sympathies to the difficulties of a Don Miguel, and limit their admiration to the unheard-of activity of a Dutch coup de main. These remarks have been rather extended on this point from the notice lately given by one of the Noble Lords who was formerly most active on these subjects, of a speedy recurrence to them-a notice given with a significant smile, as if some party triumph was expected from it, and he thought it a topic adapted to the "Temper of the House of Lords." But since the last attack of this kind, the continued success of the Government in every negociation it has as yet attempted, through all the complicated difficul
ties and unexampled intricacies of European affairs, has produced a confidence in the people which it will be difficult for that Noble Lord, with all his peculiar sources of information or powers of rhetoric, to shake; and a confident hope will still be entertained, that whilst the moral influence of England is exerted on the side of rational liberty, we may be able to steer our course with safety and with honour.
These discussions on foreign politics, it could hardly have been the interest for administration to avoid, carried on as they were by individual champions, intellectual gladiators, between whom in an oratorical arena there could be no real competition. Lord Grey powerfully eloquent and practised as he is, contending with Lord Aberdeen or Lord Londonderry, the noble Earl a tyro in elocution, the noble Marquess carrying into debate the same talents which had distinguished him in diplomacy, is a spectacle as much to the satisfaction of one party, as it must be-we will not say to the disgrace-but to the disadvantage of the other.
On Lord Londonderry's power of speaking we will make no comment, observing only that he is rather ill-used by his own party, who go about protesting behind his back, that he is not their leader, and that, on the contrary, he does them mischief; which, considering that they generally organize their schemes at his hospitable board-considering, too, the pains that he takes, and the panes that he loses in their service--is a little unkind; more especially as they always attend upon those occasions in full force, ready to take advantage of any indiscretion which his disorderly pertinacity may provoke on the part of his opponents.
Lord Aberdeen's friends assert, it may be with justice, that he possesses considerable ability, as well as considerable acquaintance with the history and resources of other countries, a knowledge combined with the classical accomplishments of a man of letters. But at least they can scarcely deny that so entirely do these qualifications fail him on the floor of the House of Lords, that it is actually painful to see him stammering forth his studied sarcasms :-dull, yet not discreet; acrimonious, yet not acute; vituperative, without effect; laboured, without point. So it is in reply to Lord Aberdeen that we can best appreciate the noble and swelling eloquence of Lord Grey; as every action and gesture breathes a lofty confidence in his own principles, a high resentment at the unfounded insinuations, and a calm contempt for the narrow sentiments and lean and creeping diction of his opponent. Again to examine incidental indications of a more recent date.
After the evening of the 6th of December, so unusually mild and calm for this stormy political season, one was rather curious to watch the next symptoms by which one might judge whether the favourable change in the atmosphere of that House was likely to be permanent. An occasion was furnished for this experiment on the debate on the nomination of the Irish Tithe Committee. "If there ever was a subject," as Lord Grey justly observed, "which, from the importance of the principles it comprised, the difficulty of the details it involved, the moderation of the initiative proposition submitted, and the temperate manner in which that proposition was introduced, might, one would have thought, have been discussed without exciting party feelings," such was the motion then brought forward by Lord Melbourne. But though the Opposition was contemptible in point of
numbers, and contradictory in their several arguments, yet there was a degree of rancour displayed by those who spoke, which augurs ill for the character of the House, if such a tone should be persevered in, and should, upon occasion, be backed by numerical force. The actors upon that night were, however, not likely, from their own intrinsic qualities, to have many followers. Lord Carnarvon, it is true, (one regrets to see that able and acute man in a false position,) said a few bitter sentences against his "Noble Friends," as if to remind them that that cause of discontent on his part, alluded to in a former debate, was not yet removed. But the principal performers were Lords Ellenborough and Wicklow. Lord Ellenborough seems lately to have recovered from that, to him, painful infliction-suppression of speech, under which he has so long laboured; an event upon which he will, probably, be left to congratulate himself. Lord Ellenborough is a singular instance of a man gifted with that power of speaking, which, when he either chooses, or is permitted to exert it, is considerable, as far as a ready flow of agreeable language goes; but who is, nevertheless, utterly inefficient and unmarked as a statesman. This does not arise merely from his being the most inconsistent of modern politicians. Many most inconsistent men, O'Connell for instance, are, notwithstanding, most effective upon the particular question of which they take a decided and comprehensive view. But Lord Ellenborough, though, whilst it suits his purpose, he is said to be a most zealous partisan, has upon each separate subject the small conceit of showing his superior acuteness by attempting refinements in reasoning, which would not occur to any one else. The result of this is, that though he has been on the political stage during a most eventful period; not only has he been connected with all parties by turns, but there is hardly even an isolated question, looking back upon which, any one could recollect what his opinion was at the time, or on which side he then voted. One of the effects of this is, that though he is, in spite of a too evident supreme contempt for the opinions of those he addresses, rather pleasant to listen to than not, yet no one ever reads Lord Ellenborough's speeches. Let the reader, if he be not a systematic speller of the Journals, recollect whether the report of that Noble Lord's oration would not be the last corner to which he would fly for instruction; and this arises from his never leaving behind any distinct impression of an enlarged view of any subject. He always rises as if he thought there was no one in the world fit to answer him—a difficulty which, before he sits down, he generally solves-by answering himself.
But what shall be thought of the tone and temper of Lord Wicklow, a newly-appointed Lord-Lieutenant under the late Act? It was certainly not necessary as a peer of parliament that he should, on account of that appointment, have supported an inquiry into the question of tithes, if he thought such an inquiry wrong; but in supporting that inquiry, it surely was as little necessary for him, a newlyappointed conservator of the peace, upon other points, utterly unconnected with the question before the House, to vilify the Government by whom he was appointed, and for that purpose to collect together all those topics most likely to set that country in a flame, whose peace he had just been appointed to preserve. Nor was this done inconsiderately such splendid figures of rhetoric do not occur spontane
ously, even to an Irishman. "Cerberus" is not invoked-"apples of discord" are not "flung from under silk gowns," or "medicated sops held in "the portals of Hell," without some little preparation. This, however, may be mere verbiage; but what can be thought of such a declaration as this coming from the King's lieutenant?" he who had never been the member of any society, felt himself compelled, if things did not mend, to ally himself with those who were bound on securing their common safety!" meaning thereby to threaten that he would become a member of that society whose resolutions he had then fresh in his recollection, which resolutions, Lord Grey well observed, were "as violent as objectionable, and as much to be condemned as the others." Lord Wicklow's appointment is inexplicable.
We who give our general support to the present Government from a conscientious concurrence in their political principles, and wish them well, from a thorough conviction that they are exerting themselves at a most difficult moment, in the most beneficial manner, for the good of their country, cannot help thinking that, in many appointments either made or continued, they have erred on the side of courting too much their political opponents.
It is of the utmost importance that through all the grades of official life there should, for its efficiency, exist as much as possible, a community of feeling. This, upon the accession of the present Government, it was difficult to obtain at once, after the almost hereditary possession of office by their predecessors. If it had been pushed to an extreme, it might have led to much individual hardship and some additional burthen to the public. But there are cases in which even these considerations should be disregarded. Magnanimity may be praiseworthy in an individual, but unity of purpose is necessary to a Government.
The Temper of the House of Lords, as connected with its character, present condition, and future prospects, must be (as it has been attempted to prove) very much influenced by its treatment of the question of Reform. But its position at this moment is also much affected by the conduct it maintained, not long since, on another great question that of the Catholic Emancipation. The House of Lords long pertinaciously resisted, and at length capriciously conceded the Catholic Question. The use that those who look back superficially to this event make of it, is to indulge in chimerical expectation, that the party game then played may be repeated, and that those who have long opposed Reform upon soi-disant principle, are those who must be destined to return to office for the purpose of carrying it. It will not be difficult presently to prove, in a few words, such palpable distinctions in the two cases as render this impossible. But the more important deduction from the conduct of the House of Lords in the former instance is, that by whomsoever proposed, Reform, if persevered in by the people, cannot be resisted there. Every one of the reasons which then induced them to alter their course, exist in tenfold force upon the present occasion. Above all, let the late colleagues of the Duke of Wellington at least be consistent in their inconsistency, and if they took expediency for their principle, let there be some principle in their expediency. Now that which is on the present occasion called intimidation, was then only considered as common prudence and statesman-like discretion; yet every one of
Jan.-VOL. XXXIV. NO. CXXXIII.
those considerations which then made it discreet, and prudent, and statesman-like to yield, are now much stronger than ever, whilst none of those higher motives, which were then disregarded, here interpose to render farther resistance a matter of conscience. What are the balance of motives and opinions on that question and on this? Then a very considerable portion of the community thought, erroneously as it has turned out, that concession endangered the sacred interests of our Reformed religion. These fears were then shared by many (prelates, ministers of state, and others,) who nevertheless yielded to expediency. Strong must have been the claims of expediency to produce such an effect. But all claims of expediency exist with greater force in this case, and what on the other hand are the groundworks of resistance? Instead of those higher and holier motives which then might have caused them to pause, it now is only a difference of opinion with the great body of the people as to the share which that House ought to retain of that power which is still nominally vested in the people, but of which it has usurped the reality. Is it on this distinction between the two cases that their Lordships think they can base the continuance of their opposition? No true friend of theirs can view such an attempt without the deepest anxiety.
But then there are some who wish the game of the Catholic question to be revived, and Reform to be in the hands of the AntiReformers. Those who indulge in such fond anticipations overlook these two palpable distinctions. Reform is what the Catholic question was not, both a question of degree and one in which the interest of the parties legislating are directly concerned. The first would prevent the new converts from agreeing among themselves; the next would prevent the country from ever feeling satisfied with any modified proposal coming from them. It was said early in the debate on the last Bill that there was disunion in the camp of the Opposition. This was denied; but in spite of every attempt to conceal it, it was evident in the course of that discussion that there was every possible shade of opinion. Not to mention the solid silent mass of regular Anti-Reformers who carried the day by their votes, and were only officered by more discreet commanders, of those who spoke there were varieties of all sorts, beginning with Lords Harrowby and Wharncliffe, who had got as far as the first letter of the reforming alphabet, schedule A. Next, the little tribe of bit-by-bit Reformers. The Lord Mansfield with his two years after date payable Reform; and that fine political plant Lord Winchelsea, who had learnt from the culture of flowers to blossom in the spring a full-blown Reformer, but whose patriotic zeal was untimely nipped by the very first frost in the beginning of this October.
But supposing that the bond of office would be all powerful to amalgamate their discursive fancies, what would the country say to seeing the question in their hands? Knowing how lately they had resisted all Reform; how long they had enjoyed the benefit of those now detected usurpations; how personally interested many of them were in their continuance ;-some trick, some juggle, would always be suspected in any the slightest (even beneficial) alteration coming from them. The changes which have been made in the new Bill seem to meet with pretty general concurrence, at least in England; a concurrence principally founded on the unshaken confidence in the