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the course consequent upon its rejection that he adopted. That we should justify his conduct will not, perhaps, be thought astonishing by his opponents-that they should impugn it, does, we confess, appear marvellous to us. The Duke of Wellington had declared, not once, but on every occasion, and this most solemnly, that an extensive measure of Reform was a gross individual injustice-a great constitutional sacrifice. We know his willingness-his partizans uphold and laud that willingness-to have permitted this gross individual injustice, to have actually perpetrated this large constitutional sacrifice. Not only was he willing to allow a great evil to fall upon the country, he was ready to inflict that evil with his own hand -in order to ward off what he considered an evil still greater. Might not Lord Grey, then, esteem a large creation of Peers an evil in itself, but might he not also advise and adopt that evil as a barrier against a greater one? The Duke of Wellington did not hesitate committing what he deemed a private robbery, for the sake of the public weal: surely Lord Grey might advise an act of high prerogative, exercised for a popular end, and apparent as the only means of preventing a public convulsion. Was political expediency an allsufficient argument in the mouth of the Duke of Wellington, and was it to be no argument in the mouth of Lord Grey? What other course, indeed, was left to the Premier? The House of Commons, as at present existing, is pledged, as far as men can be, to the Bill it has already sanctioned. There were some who spoke, as the first act of a new Government, of a dissolution. But when did the dissolution of a popular Parliament bring about the return of one less governed by popular principles? Were any of Charles the First's Parliaments (four times dissolved) so violent as the last, which commenced by beheading the favourite, and which did not terminate without sitting in judgment on the monarch?
Charles the Tenth too, (that name has hitherto been as ill-boding to its possessor as that of William has been happily prosperous,)Charles the Tenth, too, dissolved the Chamber that declared against his Minister, and left himself, by the result of this operation, no other resource than to abandon his throne, or to defeat his people. Poor old man, driveller as he is, with what astonishment would he have viewed an imitation of the conduct, which it wanted the wisdom of a Polignac to recommend, and the prudence of a Peyronnet to
If the House of Commons then could not be changed-was an open collision between the two constituted bodies of the State-the one backed by the passions of a disappointed people, the other supported by the prejudices of a proud and powerless aristocracy-to
be permitted to take place? Was this what a wary member of that aristocracy would advise for the preservation of his order? Was this what an able Statesman could counsel for the peace and safety of the commonwealth? Had Lord Grey indeed been able to foresee the sudden change which succeeded his resignation-had he believed it possible that the same men who declaimed against Reform as a most wicked and profligate and diabolical invention to destroy the country, in one week, would embrace this wickedness, would hug this profligacy and devilry, as a wise and necessary means of safety, in the next-had he thought it likely that the same lips which on one side of the House had declared that it was a mockery to think the people cared about Reform were prepared lispingly to pronounce on the other that it was necessary to concede Reform to the eager excitement of this very people-had Lord Grey been able to foresee this, he might have asked to make seventy places instead of seventy Peers; and the high honour, the incorruptible integrity of the House of Lords might have been preserved without stain or blemish. As it is, the mighty blow so apprehended by this body will come, if come it does, not from Lord Grey's hand-not from the hand of an administration who have already faltered, as some think, too long, and who will only be urged by the last necessity to its deliveryit will be the persons who lift up their voices so loudly in deprecating the stroke, that will suicidally inflict it on themselves. If Lord Carnarvon, and Lord Ellenborough, and the Duke of Wellington, are honourable men, their course is a simple and a straight one, and it must be a matter of thanksgiving and congratulation to their friends that, without incurring the penalty of place, (and who will deny that place, in the delicate situation of these gentlemen, must have been a penalty not ordinarily severe?) they will be able to prevent the measure which so much appals them, by merely acting up to those principles in opposition which they had resolved to adopt if they had come into office. If such be the course which they pursue, their friends will be able to say in palliation of their olden protestations that these were really made in ignorance of the force and determination of the public mind which late events contrived to teach them. Whom indeed have those events not taught? The people have they learnt nothing? Have they made no acquaintance with their own strength? which, though we thank God they possess it, we would not wish them to be over willing and anxious to use. Are a few place-hunters and common-place drivellers, who have hitherto passed for men of a certain prudence and tact, because they showed no more shining mark of usefulness or ability-still as ignorant as they were? Has the Whig faction, proud of its alliances,
and its noble names, and its large fortunes, which has thought too much, perchance, of its own aristocratical importance, and too little of the power to be derived from consulting the wishes and interests of the great bulk of the community, been confirmed in its former prejudices, or encouraged in its new opinions ?-and the Sovereign, one day the most popular man in his dominions, and the next not a voice to say "God bless him !"-has he learnt nothing of the shortsighted views of prattling fine ladies, and prognosticating boys, and owl-eyed courtiers, who had no other ideas of public spirit than are necessary to mortify a banker's wife, to bully a too-fond father, and to backbite an indulgent administration? Left alone indeed!where would he have been if his Ministers had clung to him until they had shipwrecked their own reputation? Where would he have been if the Reform Bill had a second time been lost, and no such party had existed to come between the royal authority and the popular indignation? Where would he have been-what would have been the date of this paper which we are now writing, if the people, seeing none in whom they could confide, had taken the settlement of their affairs into their own hands, and turning in equal disgust from Whig and Tory-Prince and Peer, had sought for a general change where they believed there was a general corruption ?
That the King's situation is an unpleasant one, even at the present moment, we regret that it is not in our power to deny; and if he look on what has happened with a sober view, he will know whom to thank for the position in which he finds himself. That he should be offended with those who warned him, in the very counsel they gave, of the danger to which its rejection would expose him—that he should be grateful to those who from ignorance, or from interest, advised him to reject that counsel, and thus to discard the servants whom it was found utterly hopeless and impossible to replace-passes all belief, and we dismiss the supposition at once as an ungracious insult upon our Sovereign's heart and understanding.
These are times in which a crown sits heavily on a royal head. These are times in which it is too easy for a Sovereign to commit an error, and yet are they times also when every error is harshly viewed and with difficulty repaired or forgiven. No path was more wisely chosen, but no path is more difficult to tread, than that on which King William commenced his reign. A reforming King, if he be thought sincere, is the idol of his people, but the very rareness of his virtue renders it liable to be suspected.
Charles the First was a decided hypocrite: the character of Louis Seize is more uncertain. His intrigues with Mirabeau, his correspondence with Austria, are now placed beyond dispute; but they
are almost to be excused by what were then the difficulties of his situation, and it still remains a doubt whether, if he had triumphed through the means of either, he would have been a constitutional King, or a despotic monarch.
It is in the earlier passages of the Revolution that his real disposition be fairly looked for, and it was from these (whether unfortunately or deservedly) that his destiny was decided.
"Si prenant l'initiative des changemens," says the historian of this eventful period, "si prenant l'initiative des changemens il avait fixé avec fermeté mais avec justice le nouvel ordre des choses, si réalisant les vœux de la France il eut déterminé les droits des citoyens, les attributions des états généraux, les limites de la royauté; s'il eut renoncé à l'arbitraire pour lui, à l'inégalité pour la noblesse, aux priviléges pour les corps; enfin s'il eut accompli toutes les réformes qui étaient réclamées par l'opinion, et qui furent exécutées par l'assemblée constituante, cette révolution aurait prévenu les funestes dissensions qui éclatèrent plus tard. Il est rare de trouver un prince qui consent au partage de son pouvoir et qui soit assez éclairé pour céder ce qu'il sera réduit à perdre. Cependant Louis XVI. l'aurait fait, s'il avait été moins dominé par ses alentours, et s'il eut suivi ses inspirations personelles: mais, il flottait irrésolu entre son ministère et sa cour dirigée par la reine, et par quelques princes de sa famille."
This is the cool and impartial judgment of one distant from the events of which he speaks; but we must remember that when the unfortunate King, "supplié dans l'intérêt de sa couronne, au nom de la religion, d'arrêter la marche factieuse des communes, se laissa gagner et promit tout"-when, in spite of the advice of Necker, he held that famous séance royale which terminating in the defeat of his authority decided the revolution, the nation and its representatives doubted whether it was through error and weakness, or tyranny and hypocrisy, that he would have disappointed those hopes which he had allowed his Minister to inspire. The 23rd of June, and the 11th of July—the first famous for the neglect of that Minister, the last for his exile-threw a taint of treachery and suspicion about all the actions of Louis, which it would have required no common firmness and prudence in his subsequent conduct to efface. It was not necessary for him to have been perfidious, it was sufficient for him to have appeared so. The very frankness with which he had opened the States-General, enhanced the crime of endeavouring to defeat their beneficent intentions. The pardon that would have been granted to the obstinate pride of Louis XIV., which might even have been given to the easy versatility of Louis XV., was refused to a Monarch who affected a simplicity of manners and an honesty of purpose beyond that of his predecessors.
We are tolerant to the open licentiousness of "Tom Jones," but
nothing equals our scorn and anger at the canting profligacy of Blifil-and so, at the present moment, we should turn with disgust and horror from a shade of faithlessness and dishonesty in the reigning Prince, though we treated with careless indifference the notorious treachery of his brother.
We speak out-because while we wish to moderate those feelings in the country which it is more probable that an error in judgment than a dishonesty of purpose accidentally produced—we should also be anxious for other persons to understand that safety of conduct is not always found in integrity of intention. We say that we wish to preserve a wise and sober moderation in the country, and we say this with sincerity; for we have the example before our eyes, in the fate of the Tories, of the misfortune that attends an opposite line of conduct. Let us go back but a few months, to the period when a Reform in Parliament, as yet unproposed, was the unanimous wish of this great country. Had the Premier of the moment possessed but common prudence, he would have found it but too easy to have given satisfaction with a measure, that in recognizing the power of Manchester and Birmingham might almost have left unquestioned the purity of Gatton and Old Sarum. The declaration that no Reform was necessary, let in an Administration pledged to an extensive Reform. That Administration brought forward their plan, as Lord Althorp has said, with hardly any hope of succeeding.
The then House of Commons, which, constituted as it was, could hardly have expected so daring a project, was undoubtedly unprepared, in its full extent at least, to receive it. A moderate opposition would have left the Bill in the hands of that House of Commons ;the violent opposition that was made-dissolved it. So in the House of Lords-Schedule A once passed, it might have been possible to make some alteration in what remained. An attempt was made to throw out Schedule A, and even the enfranchisement of the Metropolitan Districts has been carried by a majority of fifty-five.
A Constitutional Reform was all that the most violent desired. A revolution was foretold by its opponents, and with a fatal determination to bring about the fulfilment of their prophecy in the forced return of Lord Grey to power (we confess it) they have succeeded. All that the greatest democrat in the House of Commons desired to do with the House of Lords was, to increase its wealth, influence, and popularity, by making Peers of those, who, with the fortunes of Patricians, had the feelings of the People. What the Tories have effected is, at once to render that assembly's authority odious and its opposition useless-we would have made the Peerage popular and strong, they have left it impotent and hated. For this they have the