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creatures, and with the cold clay which imprisons his immortal spirit. When the tempted has become a murderer, the work of the temptation is but half accomplished. The mind of the victim is not yet wholly poisoned, his heart not yet wholly crushed. He must behold-and how does his very soul recoil from itself at the discovery? he must behold the unmasked visage of the fiend whom he has served-he must learn that all which he has done has been worse than done in vain. In one deep silent pause the events of a lifetime pass across his mind; and he awakens from the trance a broken-hearted man. Every principle which once made his character strong and lofty is annihilated within him: love, imagination, pride of honour and of intellect, all are wrecked in one tremendous shock. The soldier feels his courage broken like a rush; the man whose better nature passion could not shake, weeps like a child; the last effort of his overthrown will is but sufficient to consummate the triumph of evil; and the noble Moor dies the most awful of deaths.
ART. VI.-Speech of the Right Honourable Sir Robert Peel, Bart., in the House of Commons, on Sir J. Yarde Buller's Motion on Want of Confidence in the Government. 8vo. London: 1840.
THE HE great lines by which political party in this country is divided, are pretty clear;-straightforward politicians, of sense enough to choose, take their sides accordingly ;—and a grown-up man must be indeed unlucky, who, from alterations in himself or others, shall find himself obliged in conscience to change a side which he has once taken. At the same time, the most compact party that ever acted together in public life, although it may agree in almost all things, cannot agree in all. Common sense honestly disposes of minor differences by mutual concessions. But differences will occasionally arise, which, from one reason or another, do not admit of being set off against each other, and merged in the general account. On these occasions what is to be done?
These occasions must arise. This is inevitable. It is equally plain, when they do arise, that there can be but three courses between which public men have to make their choice. They may withdraw themselves from their party in consequence; and, by so doing, do what they can to dissolve the political combination which it represented-defeat its objects, and destroy the common principles upon which it had been formed. Ór, in the
thorough-going spirit of party, they may continue to act together as a body on those very subjects, just the same as on every other; keeping back their differences from the world. Or, lastly, while they remain steady to their old connexion, and to the principles which it embodied, they will except those particular subjects from their system of united action, and leave each other, with regard to them, to the free expression of their individual opinions.
These three courses are characterised by their respective advantages and disadvantages, and have their respective advocates. The first has the sanction of that high-minded politician, Sir James Graham; he sees no difficulty in abandoning former friends. Sir Robert Peel appears as a strenuous supporter of the first course, or the second;-he does not openly state which. But the reverential scruples which he professes to entertain against such proceedings as may tend to loosen the ties of party, are only consistent with a preference for the second. That nobody is entitled to an opinion except himself, is comfortable doctrine for a premier. The third course has been ably vindicated by Mr Macaulay, in his defence of Open Questions. The more we think of it, the more we are satisfied that in certain circumstances, and within certain limits, it is the only proper course which a true nature can consent to follow-by which true conclusions are likely to be obtained. If the difference in the views recently proclaimed upon this subject, should become one of the characteristic differences between Whigs and Tories, the Tories will have opportunities enough for repenting the false position which they will have taken up.
But the Tories will stop short of this. It is true, no doubt, upon general principles that they do not need the relief of Open Questions to the same extent as the Whigs. A party comparatively stationary in its creed, and pliant to authority, is saved from many difficulties which disturb the march of reason and of progress. There is no want of sea-room in stagnant water; and a line which stands still is more easily kept unbroken than a line in motion. Nevertheless, the difference in this respect between the two parties can only be a difference of degree. At the present moment, the extremes contained within the body in opposition, are as far removed, in principles and in objects, as the extremes contained within the body which co-operates in support of Government. The actual diversity of opinion among the Tories, is scarcely kept under by their still greater aversion to the common enemy. Withdraw the pressure and it will break out. Vows made in pain, and out of place, will not be long kept in the case of office. Sir Robert Peel and his followers have
just now one and the same object immediately before them-that of running down, obstructing, and turning out the present Ministry: and they agree as long as that object is in sight. On Sir Yarde Buller's motion, not a sutler in the camp but shouted at the plausible declamation of their reputed mouthpiece against the base tenure of Open Questions by which the Whigs hold office. But strange misgivings came over them as the wily orator went on. The dullest of the Tories were capable of seeing so far into futurity as to perceive that, in his argument against Open Questions, their artful champion was consulting the interests of the party and himself, much in the same way that the lion portions out the spoil between himself and his jackalis. The terms which he laid down referred much more to his want of confidence in his own insubordinate and uncertain friends, than to his want of confidence in Ministers. He might address the gentlemen in front; but from the greater part of his general observations, it was plainly the gentlemen behind who were uppermost in his thoughts. It was not for the benefit of the Whigs that he so much laboured the impolicy of Open Questions, on account of their tendency to break up a party and sow disunion in a Government. This part of his speech was grounded on a clear perception of his own condition, and a prudent estimate of the means which would best promote his personal importance; and it amounted under the circumstances, to a stipulation with his party that a peremptory foreclosure of all Open Questions, was the form in which he was to receive from them indemnity for the past and security for the future.
On that occasion, the Movement section of the Tory party had forced their reluctant leader to the attack. Their impatience and their bitterness were allowed a vent. But many of them, before the debate was over, must have confessed, in the anguish of their hearts, that they were buying the gratification somewhat dear. Sir Robert Peel availed himself, with his usual diplomacy and effect, of all the advantages the motion gave him for clearing the rubbish of Orangemen and High Churchmen out of his path; or for making it, as the case might be, the coarse substruction of his future power. Their once cast-off Captain took the opportunity to tell them, with as little disguise as courtesy would permit, that he had more reliance on the docility of their wills and on the extent of their necessities, than on either the serviceableness of their understandings or the soundness of their opinions; that if they called him back, he was well aware it was not from personal good-will, but merely because they could not do without him; and that, under these circumstances, he would not again put himself at their head, upon any other terms than those of their unconditional obedience. For such is the plain
English of having made up his own mind on recognising no Open Questions. This language, bold in any body, is more than bold from one whose political life has been too emphatically a life of recantations, to warrant an overweening trust in either the rectitude or the permanence of his opinions. The sayings would be hard sayings in the ears of any followers; but the recollections of 1829 must make them more than hard for the credulity of as many of his partisans as might like to bargain for four-and-twenty hours' notice, in order to prepare their consciences, countenances, and constituents, when they should happen to be next called upon to make surrender of the articles of their faith. With the difficulties which surround him, Sir Robert Peel is probably acting wisely for himself in entering up betimes a formal protest against Open Questions. They may be a greater risk than he can afford: for Open Questions suppose a general agreement, and, above all, a general confidence. But Sir Robert Peel is fully sensible that his difficulties, on accepting office, would not depend upon existing differences of opinion on this subject, or on that; so much as on those general differences of a wider and less manageable character, which throw their shadows around and before him, and which issue from the central depths of personal alienations and distrusts. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that, even in the pomp of peroration, he should not affect to conceal his apprehensions, that his stipulations and precautions would be all in vain.
It may be that the principles I profess cannot be reduced to practice, and that a Government attempting the execution of them would not meet with adequate support from the House of Commons; still I shall not abandon them. I shall not seek to compensate the threatened loss of confidence on this side of the House, by the faintest effort to conciliate the support of the other. I shall steadily persevere in the course which I have uniformly pursued since the passing of the Reform Billcontent with the substantial power which I shall yet exercise-indifferent as to office, so far as personal feelings or personal objects are concerned -ready, if required, to undertake it, whatever be its difficulties-refusing to accept it on conditions inconsistent with personal honour-disdaining to hold it by the tenure by which it is at present held.'
To express so much grandiloquent contempt for the tenure by which the Whigs hold office, required no small assurance; -the provocation for it being simply this-that the structure of their Government has been made co-extensive with its base. On certain subjects, upon which the great body of their natural supporters is divided, the Government is divided too. At least it may be. Such a concession to truth and justice constitutes a tenure of office not to be thought of but with disdain! And this
from Sir Robert Peel!-a statesman who had passed the best part of his official life, as member of an Administration in which the most serious of all contemporary questions-that of Roman Catholic Emancipation-one which, from the way it entered into the daily details of Government, was the very last which could be safely made an Open Question-nevertheless was made so. The period at which the rock of offence has been discovered and denounced, is remarkable for its strict coincidence with his personal convenience. The tenure on which Pitt and Lord Liverpool held office, might have been conceived to be sufficiently pure and lofty even for Sir Robert Peel. But, thus it is that a man, who does not choose to assign the true reasons of his conduct, generally falls upon absurd ones. Sir Robert Peel is unable to trust his party, unless they first sign and seal, and pass under the yoke. This is really no reason why Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell should be expected to enforce the same degrading methods of arbitrary suppression. Sir Robert Peel's necessities require coercion. The necessities of the Whig Government require freedom-which, if it were not their necessity, ought still to be their choice.
The Duke of Wellington's habits of military discipline, and the peculiar position of Sir Robert Peel, ought not to be allowed to prejudge this question. It is of sufficient importance, moral and political, to be discussed with fairness, and upon its merits. Not only are the character and existence of this or that administration involved in it--but the principles of every man engaged in public life; and at times, even the possibility, in a free state, of having any government at all.
Our immediate concern is with the theory itself, not with its application. The application of the theory of Open Questions will raise a multitude of incidental points, varying with the circumstances and degrees of almost every case. These, however, are all of them beside the argument at its present stage; -the point now at issue being, not what questions may be left open, but whether a body of men acting together in public, more especially a government, ought to admit such a thing as an Open Question under any circumstances whatever. For some of Sir Robert Peel's objections, it will be observed, are so wide and general, as logically to exclude Open Questions from the creed of an opposition as well as of a government, while some of them apply to a government only. The acknowledgment of a single instance in which the balance of advantages and disadvantages might turn in favour of leaving a question open, changes entirely the character of the argument. It puts it upon that line of inquiry which we conceive is the only proper one-namely, instead of