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Such are the Ministry whom the course recommended by their faction to the Lords would inevitably place in office. This is the sort of men whom that wise proceeding would call to the helm of affairs, to pilot our state through the conflict so much desired by wise and well-informed men like the Dukes of Newcastle and Buccleuch; the latter of whom is said to have represented all the people of Scotland as totally ignorant of the Bill, and unable to comprehend it, or to see their own interests; and, truly, they don't quite see them in the same light with his grace. Under the guidance of such men, are we to be launched amidst the wildest conflict of all the political elements. The talents and eloquence of Mr Goulburn, the high fame of Mr Herries, the sagacity and discretion of Lord Londonderry, are to be the reliance of the country for salvation, when the people are loudly, and with one voice, calling for the measures against which these men are pledged; and the House of Commons is opposed to the government by the largest majorities, and the Peers are their only supporters by a small turn of the balance. But this is the consummation devoutly wished by the lovers of the conflict-this is the euthanasia which they desire for the constitution of England. Let us be candid to men whom we widely dissent from. We don't at all believe that the distinguished individuals we have been forced to name-forced by their foolish adherents to name-at least two of them-ever dreamt of any thing so monstrous. They better know their own power, and their duty to the country.
But let us submit one other consideration to the friends of 'conflict.' The Bill, they say, cannot pass without an agreement of both Houses; nor can the Ministry go on if the Lords oppose them. Take both propositions in their order. Unless the Lords assent, the Parliament cannot be reformed. True;
at Drogheda, merits a word. Truly he is a fit person to complain of emptiness and feebleness! He seems in so hot a passion as to have lost his reason. He admires, we fancy, the capacity of the Goulburns and the Twisses, when he roars about an incapable Ministry. This piece of rant, we see by the newspapers, has produced some merriment in London; where it seems to be supposed this gentleman has been chiefly enraged, because coming over with a high Hibernian reputation, of a provincial cast, he found the audience in the English House of Commons incapable of listening to his strains. This is understood, we see, to be the incapacity he really is so very wroth But it seems also to be thought, we observe, that no change of either men or measures will ever alter the capacity of the House of Commons in this particular.
but unless the Commons assent, the Parliament cannot be kept as it is. To shut out all change, requires the agreement of both Houses, just as much as to effect any change. This consideration is inseparably connected with the question of conflict,' and frequently brings out of conflict, compromise. Again, if the Lords reject the Ministry, they must retire. We have been looking at the consequences of that movement, and assuredly they are such as can afford but little consolation. But there is one effect of this retirement which is so very obvious, that it may possibly prevent it from happening. If this Ministry cannot go on without the Lords, their successors can as little go on without the Commons. Public affairs, say the anti-reformers, will thrive ill if the House of Lords vote against the government, though by a narrow majority. True; but how much better will they thrive under a government against which an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons votes? But it is absurd to speculate upon such things. No government, God be praised, can ever be attempted in this country against the declared voice of the House of Commons and the country, if it had all the Peers in a body to back it. And the Peers are the first to feel this truth; as they would certainly be the first to suffer by supporting an administration universally opposed by the people and their representatives.
These reasons will probably prevent the collision we have been adverting to. But it is justly observed in the Pamphlet which has given occasion to these remarks, that the Lords, at least the honest and respectable part of their number, will do well to be on their guard against the subtle arts of factious men.'
These may not venture to attack the Reform Bill openly in front; but they will try to take it in flank. They will not oppose it, or move any thing against it; but they will certainly vote against the Government on every thing else, in order to throw out the Government and the Bill also. They will hardly move an amendment on the address to the King; but they will get up little motions against the Ministers -they will try to throw out whatever is proposed by the Government-they will oppose the Chancellor's Law Reforms, and Lord Melbourne's Subletting Act, and whatever else they can hope to defeat. Let the Lords beware of all such tricks, for tricks they are. All of their manoeuvres mean only one thing-hostility to the Reform Bill. The meaning of every thing the Opposition will say, is—" Throw out the Bill!" the meaning of every question they will put, is"Throw out the Bill!' the meaning of every vote they will give, is"Throw out the Bill! They may affirm, and vow, and swear, and smite their breast, shed abundant tears, and heave deep sighs, and call God to witness that they have no enmity to the King's Government; and are not prepared to give any opinion on the Bill, until it comes
before them! Heed them not; turn away the ear from their cry; all they do really mean is to get your votes against the Ministry, and then they reckon on the Bill, the hateful Bill, being lost for ever. All who wish well to the House of Lords and the Constitution must carefully be on their guard against such devices.'
We would continue the theme, and pursue this advice, most respectfully counselling the Lords, that now, and even after the Bill shall have passed into a law, they should diligently take the opportunity afforded by a season of general public satisfaction, to cultivate the friendly regards of their fellow-countrymen, all 'the commons of the realm.' Don't let them imagine that they ever can be permanently unpopular with this nation at large, except through their own fault. They may render themselves hateful by an odious use of their property for political purposes: some of them acting in this way, made even the Ballot a favourite-contrary to the order of nature-last year. They may render their whole order hateful; and make its very existenceby separating themselves from the people, and setting themselves up as barriers between that people and the attainment of its dearest wishes-as a mound to be lashed by the rage of popular fury. Such things are possible. But they only are made pos sible by pursuing a conduct against all precedent, and against all prudence. The Peerage is naturally popular in England. The people are highly aristocratic in their habits and tastes. The first thing a man does when he acquires wealth, is to desire its society, its connexion, even to aspire after its honours; and the constitution wisely favours such views, by throwing it open to all merit and all importance, without any exclusive regard to hereditary claims. Let the Lords cultivate such feelings, and they will retain the favour, only suspended, which they long enjoyed with their countrymen; and they will live to bless the measure that took from them the bad influence of borough patronage, and gave them in its stead their old place in the hearts of the people.
One word more, upon a very obvious course which the enemies of Reform will take to avert their doom, and impede the progress of the Bill. Many are moderate reformers, we now find; such a thing as an enemy of all Reform is not to be seen now-a-days-save the firm and honest Duke of Wellington, who was as greatly superior to the rest in this affair as he ever was in every other not a man of them all but avows himself for some considerable change. Since when, and of what kind, are questions easier put than answered. The most impenetrable silence is kept upon the sort of Reform which these men would substitute for the Bill. There is, however, one thing abundantly clear. As their way of talking now pledges them to
nothing, it leaves them quite free to produce the very smallest modicum-the most tiny measure of Reform-and then, holding up their little nipperkin, to call it a Reform plan. The Lords would be worse than self-deluded to fling out the Bill of the Government in the hope of the country's thirst for real Reform being so slaked. One other thing is as plain, and it disposes of the question in this, its more invidious and dangerous form. Any change, however little, must assuredly disfranchise some of the boroughs. Then, they who most stoutly resist the effectual measure of the Ministers, will as stoutly oppose that; and thus, if it is carried against them, they will lose the favourite object of their care, while the country will remain just as dissatisfied as ever. This consideration at once removes all idea of rejecting the measure (which even its enemies admit would satisfy the popular interest, though it may offend the borough interest), in order to adopt one which very certainly would equally disappoint and equally offend both.
Before closing these remarks, we must advert to the high importance of adhering, as far as it is possible, to the arrangements of the Bill, as they have been for two months before the country. The principles of the measure cannot, of course, be altered. That no one thinks of, after the sense of the people has been taken upon them, and members elected pledged to their support. Any change in the details which tend to carry the principles more advantageously into effect, we ought not to reprobate. But, unfortunately, men cannot always agree upon what is detail and what is principle; and one class of persons may, not captiously, but very honestly, think you are altering the principle, when you are only mending the machinery for carrying it into execution. To lay down any absolute or inflexible rule is impossible; but clearly the strong leaning ought to be against change. When the Duke of Wellington proposed the Catholic question, no one disapproved of the course taken, of carrying the Bill through, exactly as it was brought in; and no one thought this a dogmatical and intolerant manner of proceeding. In the present case, that is perhaps impracticable; but it is a precedent worthy of being followed as nearly as may be possible.
VOL. LIII. NO. CVI.
ART. X.-1. Speech of Robert Monsey Rolfe, Esq., delivered in the Guildhall, Bury St Edmunds, on the 2d day of May 1831; on occasion of his being put in nomination at the General Election as a Candidate for the representation of that Borough. Bury:
2. Conciliatory Reform. A letter addressed to the Right Honourable Thomas Spring Rice, M.P., on the means of reconciling Parliamentary Reform to the interests and opinions of the different orders of the community; together with the draft of a Bill, founded on the Ministerial Bill, but adapted more closely to the principles and precedents of the Constitution. By FRANCIS PALGRAVE, Esq. of the Inner Temple, Barrister at Law.
3. An Address to the King, the Lords, and Commons, on the Representative Constitution of England. By H. A. MEREWETHer, Esq. Serjeant at Law. London: 1830.
ALOVE of change, a contempt for ancient forms and institutions, a carelessness when the rights of property are in question, are among the very last charges which can be laid at the door of the English people. In the year 1817, to the astonishment of civilized Europe, a gauntlet was thrown down in the principal Court at Westminster, and a criminal who was accused of murder was held entitled to defend himself by judicial combat. Whether the dramatic dialogue and scenic representation, by which the conveyance of property, under the form of a Recovery, has been turned into a series of fictions and buffooneries, shall continue to be kept up for the profit and amusement of sergeants at law, is even now a matter of grave legal deliberation. The caution with which our nation has always contrived to get on from time to time with the least alteration that would answer the immediate purpose, has had its disadvantages as well as advantages. But on the whole, from the excellent quality and position of our early institutions, from the plastic skill with which our successive alterations were moulded, adjusted, and applied to the original building, and, above all, from the wonderful good fortune with which events played into our hands, there can be no doubt but that the advantages in favour of our experimental process have greatly preponderated.
Under these circumstances, whenever an occasion should arise of the great body of the English people calling for a change, their previous conduct will have earned for them the presumption that there is good reason for their call. It may be further