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capacity and experience which lie within its reach. But, suppose the Measure flung out-let us see what chance these men have of succeeding in their present hardly avowed object, of changing the Ministry for their own benefit?
Either the loss of the Bill in the Lords will lead to an immediate prorogation of Parliament for a short time, and a new attempt, pretty sure to succeed, in favour of the Bill; or it will produce the resignation of the present Ministers. In the former case, no man can doubt that the Ministers are far more sure of power than ever; and that the day of their adversaries' either supplanting them in office, or sharing it with them, will be indefinitely postponed. But, possibly, through want of consideration, they are reckoning on the latter event. We do not deem this very likely to happen. We can hardly fancy any personal feelings of disappointment provoking men of sense and integrity so far to forget their public duty, both to the Prince they serve and his People, as to throw up in disgust a situation which they fill with the entire approbation of the Crown, the Commons, and the Country. We do not deem the voice of a majority of the Peers, not wholly unbiassed by self-interest, of weight enough to make any rational man pursue so absurd and unaccountable a course. But be it so, for argument's sake, and that the Ministers resign. It requires little knowledge of the present state of parties in Parliament, suppose the country stands entirely neutral, to foresee that no other Ministry can be found which can last over a few months. Suppose a set of men are found thoughtless and reckless enough of consequences to the country and themselves, to try so hazardous an experiment. They have a numerical majority of the Lords for them, and that is literally all their strength; for even in the Lords, indeed far more there than elsewhere, all the powers of debate are, without any exception whatever, (the Duke of Wellington, strange to tell, being their best speaker,) arranged against them. Why, the new government could not carry on the public business for a single month, even in the House of Lords. In the Commons they would have to face an immense majority in mere numbers; but the new Opposition would, in fact, have all the best portion of the House-comprising all the county members, and all who represent the great townsit may be said, all who represent any constituents at all. A dissolution may, no doubt, be tried-we may say it must be tried; for a vote of confidence in the Ministry we are supposing to have resigned, will assuredly have followed-possibly preceded -that act of theirs. A dissolution will then come-the third in a
year; not a very pleasing measure to the aristocracy, or to the enemies of Parliamentary Reform. But, will a general election mend the matter? Will the frightful convulsions of this scene --a scene difficult to contemplate with a firm mind, when we reflect on the exasperation towards the Peers and the new government by which it will be chequered,-will those convulsions so far alter the constitution of the present House of Commons, as to make a difference of fifty votes? We verily believe we have greatly over-rated the number in calling it so much. The new Ministry will have a large majority against them, and this is an utterly incurable defect in their title to administer the affairs of the state. The consequence will be, then, that after holding power during a few months-perhaps weeks-risking the public peace, making some promotions, granting some pensions-they will be driven out under a torrent of universal and violent indignation; and all their pensions will be at once rescinded, as the first act of a reformed Parliament; for the Reform Bill will then pass quickly enough; but it will pass in circumstances far, very far from being advantageous for its own working, or safe for the constitution of the country. Before attending to this view, we may observe, that the party men, whose speculations we have been examining, will plainly have lost all hold of the country and of Parliament. Their chance of ever again being suffered to touch the public offices, or to intermeddle in any manner of way with place-to inhale a single mouthful of the atmosphere they delight to breathe, will have become as nothing; for their profligate and factious conduct will have left an impression against them far too deep ever to be effaced. Some two or three men will have got their jobs done as a step in the peerage-a translation to a see-a ribbon -a regiment. These can hardly be taken away; but the bulk of the party will rue for ever, in the bleak and cheerless regions of lasting darkness-in ever-during exclusion from office-the fatal blunder of driving out a popular government by means of the Peers alone, or rather a bare majority of the Peers, against the wishes of the King, Commons, and People.
Let it then be considered what must be the result of such a measure as the present Ministry being driven from the helm, or rather quitting it in disgust,-there being in truth no one to drive them. We verily think that such a sensation would be produced all over the country as no time has ever witnessed. The dismissal of Neckar in France would be a jest to it: his return in spite of the court on the 'people's shoulders,' pregnant as it was with fatal consequences to the monarchy, as somewhat of
brethren. Various attempts were made by the anti-reformers to obtain the alliance of those numerous bodies who received no elective rights from the Bill-in vain. Vain were the efforts of all candidates to act upon Sir R. Peel's hint, and obtain the aid of the multitude, by telling them they got nothing from the measure. Vain were the efforts of those who practised the doctrines preached by another member hostile to the government and the Bill, and, by a strange jumble of parties, co-operating with the honourable Baronet. All was in vain. The people indignantly rejected such offers of friendly aid, coming from quarters so suspicious.
They said at all events, the Bill promised them members openly and freely elected; answerable to a general constituency; and pledged in public to honest conduct, whoever might choose them; and they cared little whether themselves had a voice or no. Our fellow-townsmen distinguished themselves on this memorable occasion. Seven or eight thousand-probably ten or twelve, may have votes, and more than thrice as many will be excluded. What, then, said our citizens and their workmen ? At least the old three-and-thirty will no longer choose the member for Edinburgh, and job the place. At least we shall be redeemed from the shame of a vast population standing by, while three-and-thirty delegate to a tool of their own the management of all their most important affairs. At least, and at length, said they, we shall have honest and free representatives chosen by thousands, and to those thousands responsible for the duties delegated to them; and, whether we ourselves may or may not happen to concur in the election, our interests are safe in their hands, and the hands of the electors. We cite our city as an honourable example of this wise and magnanimous conduct; but wheresoever the stratagem was tried, it met with the same fate; and even the rabble asked those who, all of a sudden, had become so careful of their claims to political power-Since when all this friendly anxiety had begun? The poor people were quite astonished to find, all of a sudden, what affectionate friends they had in high quarters; but it must be admitted, they met this friendly zeal with a moderate share of confidence,-the affection was very far from being reciprocal.
The results of the dissolution were soon perceived on the meeting of the new Parliament. The Bill, nearly in the same form, was again brought in, and the second reading passed by a majority of near 140. This was decisive of the whole question as regarded both the sense of the people, and the progress of the Bill through the Commons; decisive, if mere numbers be taken into consideration; but that is very far from being the whole
real amount of the majority. It comprehended almost the whole popular representation of the counties. Of eighty-two English counties, it comprised seventy-six ; and it left the minority wholly composed of the members for close boroughs, nominees of peers, and purchasers of seats from corporations. Thus the whole House of Commons, as far as it is a real representation of the people, are devoted friends of the Bill. The country, with a rare unanimity, are its friends; and adversaries it has none, except those who are interested in resisting it, and those who, from ignorance of the true dangers of the country, are alarmed at the remedy, and shut their eyes to the mischief; or those who, from a desire to change the Ministry, would throw out a measure in which they suppose its existence is bound up. But it is not only that the vast majority, both in the country and in the House of Commons, is for the Bill. The anxiety, the fervour the unprecedented ardour with which the people regard a measure in which their whole hearts are embarked, renders the rejection, or even delay of its passing, a matter of the most serious consideration.
The enemies of the Bill, however, have been flattering themselves that all this expression of public opinion proceeded only from a sudden and transient impulse. The people, it has been said, have been intoxicated by the agitation; they are now calmer and more sober; the storm of reform has passed over our heads, and no one will much grieve if the Bill be flung out in the Lords. Other things occupy the people; and the Great Measure, which a few months ago engrossed every man's thoughts all the day, is already forgotten.
Never since the world began, we will venture to assert, was there a more gross deception, or a more grievous delusion it is in some persons a fraud-in others, a lamentable and inexcusable blunder. The people had not taken up reform hastily, and they will not lightly abandon it. For above forty years-near fifty, indeed it has been slowly, but with an accelerated pace, gaining ground, till it has spread over the empire, and become the great wish of every one who thinks of state affairs. A sudden change in such a feeling was wholly impossible. The fact, indeed, of less being said, fewer meetings being held, fewer petitions presented, while the Bill was slowly making its way through the Commons, is undeniable; but then it proves absolutely nothing. The people were quiet, because they plainly saw that their favourite measure was safe-only because of this. They were a little impatient of the delays caused by so vexatious an opposition as it experienced; but the commanding majority in its favour silenced all fears, and the only question
was one of time. Had any thing like the vestige of a doubt appeared as to its passing, we venture to say all England and Scotland would have been thrown into immediate alarm and activity. So, now, the impression continues, that the passing the bill into a law, is a question only of time; but no thinking man can, without a great effort of distrust, bring himself to believe that the Lords will set themselves against all their fellow-citiLatterly it has been doubted whether or not this confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of the Upper House is altogether well founded. The interested feelings of some, the factious disposition of others, the honest alarms of a third class, though utterly groundless, and rather directed to the wrong point, had begun to operate, it was supposed, among the Peers, and the obstruction of the Bill to be expected.
Instantly the people awoke as from a trance, and we have no doubt that before these pages can see the light, they will have given a loud and universal answer to the silly persons who were pleased to think the reform feeling gone for ever. If any feeling less wide-spread and less vehement be found than that which ruled the general election, the difference can only be in the reluctance of men to believe the possibility of so fatal an error as the rejection of the Bill by the Peers. Should, unhappily, that consummation be in store for us, no man can foresee when the mischiefs will end, and no man can contemplate them without dismay.
What will the Lords do? This is the question asked by all the people. Suppose their Lordships shall be aware that all the country is as anxious and determined for the measure as before, and that it is sent up by a great majority from the Commons, even as now constituted, but by an almost unanimous vote, if we regard those members who speak the sense of any part of the people at large, will they venture upon so perilous an experiment as to reject it?
We desire it to be understood in the outset, that we withdraw ourselves altogether from those reasoners, and those topics of argument, and of invective, which have represented the Upper House of Parliament as not entitled to exercise any free judgment upon this question. By the constitution of England, the Peers must concur in this, as in all other Bills, before it becomes a law. By the plain rules of common sense, the Peers must be allowed to exercise their free and unfettered judgment in accepting or rejecting any proposed change of the law. If not, the proceeding that affects to consult them is an insult, and their existence a mockery. But we, assuming them to have the power of free discussion, of accepting and rejecting the