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sincerity of the Ministers who propose it. An Anti-Reformer's Reform Bill might yield twice the boon and not receive half the gratitude. The Anti-Catholics who carried the Catholic question, seem not to be aware that that very circumstance it is which increases the difficulty of repeating the experiment. With all the advantages which attended the settlement of that question, the manner in which it was at last settled, and the persons by whom it was carried, have left behind in the public mind a suspicion of the sincerity of public men which would not as yet endure any repetition of party tergiversation. Those who utterly disregarded the great land-mark of change on that subject, the general election of 1826, which showed the substantial power to be already in the hands of the Catholics of Ireland, who nevertheless in 1827 founded their personal opposition to a Right Honourable Gentleman merely on the insuperable nature of the objections to that question, and not two years afterwards unblushingly brought it forward from their own official stations;-such persons must not be surprised if this, their conduct, has bequeathed to the great mass of plain but right-judging men in the country, only the alternative of distrusting either their political sagacity, or their political honesty a state of feeling towards them which would prevent the possibility of their being suffered to tamper with the Reform question. This part of the subject has been dwelt on the more, as they then involved the House of Lords in their inconsistency, and by so doing took from under its feet the high ground on which it might otherwise have been able to make its stand upon the present occasion.
In estimating the temper of the House of Lords, when so little is said, people will generally judge by what is done, and the whole body is involved in the sentiments and feelings (perhaps rather harshly) attributed to the majority on the late occasion of the Reform Bill. For the minority it may, perhaps, be said, though one would not assert that they were actuated by a stronger love for their country than their other fellow-labourers in the cause of Reform, that their position has given them an unequalled opportunity of proving their patriotism. There are many of them who have not only laid aside the prejudices of their caste, of party, or of early personal connexions, but have even offered up on the altar of their country that which they had acquired as property, and which they had hoarded as counters in the game of political ambition. But if their merits are to be considered only as exceptions, and the whole House of Lords is to be involved in one indiscriminate opprobrium, it will be as well to examine the constitution of that majority, and how far it can be said to represent the unbiassed sentiments of the aristocracy. With regard to that (for them unfortunately) large proportion of the majority which was made up of the Lords Spiritual, we will say nothing at present, in hopes that it is an offence which will not be repeated. We will not examine too closely in what manner this is to be brought about, only hoping that if the Archbishop of Canterbury should think with his namesake in the beginning of Shakspeare's Henry the Fifth, that
"Never came reformation in a flood
that even should he address to a reverend brother the words with which that play opens
"My Lord, I'll tell you, that self Bill is urged
Was like, and had indeed against us past;"
and should a modern Bishop of Ely reply-" But how, my Lord, shall we resist it now?"-still hoping, we say, that they may follow the example of their dramatic predecessors, and having made their appearance only in the first scene of the play, neither they nor their plots may be again seen or heard to interrupt the further progress of the Drama.
The next peculiarity which strikes one in the construction of that majority is the preponderance in it of proxies over Peers present. The majority of forty-one consisted very nearly half of proxies, and the aggregate number of the Peers present were to the proxies as two hundred and eighty to eighty. This article has already stretched to too great a length, and in hurrying to a conclusion we cannot enter into the general question of the right of voting by proxy-a question which would in itself extend beyond any ordinary limits. But this we may say, that the question upon which, of all others, proxies could with least grace decide, was one against taking the trouble we will not say to pass, but even to improve a Bill, which had received so extraordinary a portion of concurrence from all who had examined it.
Another view in which to consider that majority as distinct from the general temper of the House of Lords is, by estimating the number of persons directly interested in the preservation of nomination boroughs. Lord Lyndhurst, in his off-hand way, stated, hardly with judicial accuracy, that there would be but six. If he meant six persons possessing each six seats, he would not have been far wrong; but if he meant individuals possessing direct power by their own fiat to send Members to Parliament, six times six would have been nearer the mark.
Several statements have already been put forth to prove the preponderance of old Peers in the minority. No unimportant point this in considering how far that decision is indicative of the temper of the aristocracy. But the effect of these statements has been rather impaired by the dates on which they were founded being vague and various. To pit the ten oldest Peers against the ten newest affords no adequate criterion to judge of the bias that has been given on such a question as this. There does, however, appear one epoch peculiarly applicable on this occasion. Mr. Pitt, in the year 1784, declared that " no honest man could be Minister without Reform." We will not recall the pressure of extraordinary and temporary circumstances which afterwards induced that great man always to postpone Reform. But the fact is that he did long, very long continue Minister, and the changes he made during that time were not in the House of Commons but in the House of Lords; and the effect of those changes is peculiarly felt on this question once so forcibly urged by him. Count the votes of the English Peers who now sit there by titles which. they held before that memorable declaration, and who have since neither been created nor promoted, and you will find in favour of the
Bill so great a majority that it would have been hardly in the power of the Episcopal Bench to neutralise it.
If these few slight hints as to the analysis of that majority should meet the eyes of any of the Members of it in the solitary pause for reflection which retirement during the recess now bestows, may it enlighten them as to the real state of the case. And however doubtful would still have been the policy of opposing their order as a body to the wishes of the people, if the sense of that body had been pronounced in a decided, unequivocal, unbiassed proportion, surely when he finds how far this is from being so, much more will each individual hesitate before he takes upon himself the responsibility of continuing a majority so easily overthrown, so vulnerable in its composition, so little decisive in its numbers. And when again the anti-reforming Nobles meet in secret council to decide upon the course they are to pursue, if there still are a few who may not be moved by the higher and holier desire to recover the confidence and affection of their countrymen, still must these be shaken by the conviction of the utter impossibility of ultimate triumph. And rather than not yield at all, let them now listen even to the words of Belial
"I should be much for open war, O Peers!"
(singular enough, by the way, that by that title should be addressed the infernal conclave who had embarked in a hopeless warfare with an irresistible power-)
"I should be much for open war, O Peers,
"Ominous conjecture on the whole success" might indeed be now re-echoed in Baronial Hall and in Tory Club.
Belial was no favourite with the poet. Temporising discretion was certainly not an appropriate quality for a fallen fiend. But such is not the character of the Peers now addressed-they are neither fiends, nor as yet fallen. Dissimilar in their present positionunlike in the alternative on which they are called to act, they can never be influenced by the feeling-"Better to rule in hell than serve in Heaven." If unfortunately by their own presumptuous obstinacy they should fall, it would not be to rule even in hell; and on the other hand, they are but required to share power, (not to serve) in that only earthly heaven of a patriot statesman-the heart of a united People.
ON ENGLISH NOTIONS OF MORALITY.
THERE are many things about which that old gossip the World constantly prates, and "little knows;" but of all things-that of which she most prates and least knows is, morality! With us, to be moral merely means to be respectable-it is the appearance we care for-the reality we despise.-As is customary with a commercial people to whom credit is a capital, we value most such externals as keep the world in good humour with us, and the best qualities are those which the most induce a tradesman to trust us! "A most respectable man-he has lived twenty years in that house, Sir; he pays his bills regularly once a quarter-he has provided very handsomely for all his family-his note is as good as the Bank of England's !" This sums up what is called an excellent character; yet in all these attributes of praise there is not a single moral quality. This excellent character may be full of the most vicious characteristics. He may be violent in temper-mercenary in disposition-hypocritical in religion-a hollow friend-an unforgiving enemy-and in possessing the movements of clockwork, may possess also the heart of a clock.
The great feature in our netions of morals is their one-side-edness. The golden medium lies between two extremes-one extreme tends to meanness-the other to extravagance. One to the rash excessthe other to the paltry baseness. We are most lenient to the most despicable of the extremes, and rather forgive the low nature than the erratic. How little fiction can do towards altering the national dispositions, we may see by the small effect produced on us by the true moral of our greatest and most popular novel, "Tom Jones." It was this one-side-edness of morality-this undue love of the decorous hypocrisies, and this exaggerated resentment against the erring sincerities of mankind, which Fielding, a more deep, accurate, and scientific moralist than is generally supposed, sought to expose and correct when he contrasted the characters of Blifil and Jones. Nothing can more clearly prove our ignorance of real morals than the fact that no one appreciated this high moral purpose in our author. The world of readers fell upon him with the common places of the very hypocrisy he was satirizing;-forgot the service he rendered to virtue in unmasking its counterfeit in Blifil-charged him with all the excesses of his hero; and, because he had embodied morality as a philosopher, condemned him for being immoral. Even now his greatest merit is not acknowledged, nor his indecorums forgiven for the sake of their object; and the herd of critics would conceive it a monstrous paradox in him who asserted and undertook to prove that Fielding was a far more profound and noble moralist than Addison. Nay, if Blifil and Jones were living characters, who does not feel that the world would visit Blifil as a most praiseworthy man, and cut Jones as an incorrigible scapegrace?
It is the misfortune of our social systems that we have been taught so exclusive a regard for the domestic moralities. The connexion between the sexes is almost the only morality of which we are aware. Doubtless that connexion constitutes one most important branch of morals, but there are others as important. The round of man's duties lies in a vast circle. And to be really good we must be good in
public as well as private. It is a misfortune which has wrung tears of blood from this country, that a separation has been drawn between the public man and the private-that the world has been suffered to say" a dishonourable politician-a negligent pastor-a fraudulent merchant, but a most exemplary creature in domestic life!" We ought to allow no such unreal distinctions-it is the whole man only we must acknowledge to be good or evil-not a part of him. But even in regard to our domestic rigidities, we are not consistent; we are actuated by the most unaccountable caprices. We court one man solely because he is an adulterer, while we hiss another man off the stage for exactly the same offence.
"That in the captain's but a choleric word
One lady elopes, and is an "interesting creature" for life: another imitates her example, and she is only "that abandoned woman." Nor can it be said, with unvarying justice, that rank is a sufficient palliative of the crime, and the only cause of these discrepancies in our moral severity. A noble poet separates from his wife, and the world turn their backs on him and mutter fearful innuendoes on the terrible crime of quarrelling with a wife. A minister of state loses his cara sposa to a German Prince, and all the blame is saddled upon the unfortunate husband-for no earthly reason but because he is a Minister of State and a Tory.
I am very much amused to see the gravity with which our newspapers record some terrible fallacy in the human heart as if it were the most natural thing imaginable. Bishop, whose cold and systematized atrocities checked, by a deeper excitement, the excitement of Reform, and benumbed, with a more curdling fear, the floating apprehensions of the cholera morbus; Bishop, we are told very seriously by the journals, after undergoing a certain ceremony, "felt greatly relieved, and enjoyed a sound sleep." What was this mystical ceremony, that thus lulled into peace the conscience-stricken murderer?-merely the confessing that he had committed the murder! A mighty atonement this for the action! In truth, this cant about the blessing of a confession does more harm than the superficial perceive; if a man is to be represented as purchasing mental peace, after committing the most horrible of human crimes, by saying the night before his execution" I will tell your reverenceit's all very true, I made the boy drunk with rum, and then kept his head under water till he was fit for selling, and I then sold him, Sir, for twelve guineas; and now I feel mightily eased in my mind, and am going to have a pleasant nap;"-if this is to be the moral of Burking and confessing to have Burked-why, then all I say is, that you rob Religion of those terrors which you assert to be checks upon crime; and you virtually make murder a less offence in a convict than his not satisfying the curiosity of the newsmongers, in quitting his own life without telling us how he got rid of another's.
The fact is, that we pick up, as soon as we are able to remember what we hear, a few common-place maxims, and we call them morals. Whoever the most insists upon these, we call a moralist-that is to say, when Doctor Johnson declares in pompous sentences that we ought