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tion, and who, by not discerning how tionaries, either with respect to conmuch of a change in political dogmas duct, industry, or pleasure. The nawas involved in the evolutions of that tural tendency of a progressive state of catastrophe, accelerated its devasta- political institutions, is not to induce, tions, would be to contemn the in- as Owen, and Godwin, and the other struction of history, and to betray a defective reasoners and visionaries al. total ignorance of the character and lege—an agreement among mankind to spirit of the age.
constitute a community of goods, but It was a wise, and it was a brave the very reverse ; or, in other words, to policy, during the deluge of French induce institutions which, while they principles, to maintain that the an- bind society closer together, will leave cient institutions of Europe were sa- individuals freer to pursue the bent of cred things; that to them we owed their respective characters. This, howwhatever was estimable and delight- ever, is a topic too important to be so ful in society, and that if they were slightly alluded to. On some other ocallowed to perish, it was impossible to casion I will address you on it excluforesee or to provide against the anar- sively. chy that might ensue. The wisdom The only free constitution which of that policy derived an awful confir- can exist practically applicable to humation from the excesses of Parisian man wants and properties, is that guilt, and the extravagance of Pari, which is governed in its deliberations sian theory; but now when the flood and measures by a temperate and rehas subsided, when the guilt has been gulated deference to public opinion. punished and the extravagance cut off, of this kind I regard the British, acit may be safely re-adopted as a maxim cording to the state of society in this of government and legislation, that the country, and the genius of the people institutions so much venerated were to be curiously admirable. There is so not the causes, but the effects of the much of ancient partialities mixed up virtues ascribed to them, and that to with modern expedients among us,enable them to preserve the affection so much of ascertained fact with theo so eloquently and so effectually claim- retical opinion and undetermined exed for them during the reign of Con- periment, that we require, as we possternation, they must be modified and sess, a constitution that will work in adapted to suit the wants, and to sa- such a manner as to give each and all of tisfy the judgment of the people. them occasionally their due predomiThat modification, and that adapta
In so far, therefore, as the tion, is not, however, more now, than practice of the legislature is concernin the Revolutionary period, to be ed, the British constitution “ works effected by general and entire changes. well,” and we see that the executive There is in fact never any such ex- government, though it is so swayed igency in human affairs, nor in the by public opinion, as to render it a very nature of things can there be such, very nice question to determine wheas to require a sudden alteration in ther the circumstances of the kingthe institutions of any country, while dom have become so changed as to call it must be admitted, that in a progres- for any alteration in the constitution, sive state of society, some sort of cor- such as we hear commonly spoken of responding improvement ought to take by the name of Parliamentary Reform place in them, and will necessarily take -I say it is a very nice question, merely place in despite of all opposition. because the proposition has advocates
Al governments have their origin and opponents among the shrewdest, in the usurpations of some accidental the most enlightened, and the most
paunion of moral and physical strength; triotic gentlemen in the country. But hence there ever exists of necessity a
in the discussions to which the quesnatural controversy between what may tion has given rise, both within and be called the spirit of government, and without the House, it has never been the spirit of the people; the latter sufficiently considered, that during the constantly endeavouring to procure last century, the constitution both in concessions from the former in the the Peers and Commons has been twice shape of laws and institutions, that essentially and radically altered—I will enable individuals to manage their would say reformed. particular interests less and less sub- Let us, sir, consider this dispassionject to the interference of public func- ately.
First then, in the reign of Queen derstood on the south side of the Anne, the whole government of Great Tweed. Then, again, the Scottish Britain, which had previously under- county members are not generally chogone a revision in theoretic dogmas, by sen by the proprietors of the land, but the re-assertion of popular rights at by persons who may be said to possess the Revolution, was virtually changed transferable charters for exercising the by the union of Scotland and Eng- elective franchise. land. The two distinct ancient go- The constitution of Scotland, in so vernments of both kingdoms were vir- far, therefore, as respects the county tually abrogated, and one was sub- members, is at once curious and enstituted, in which, though the consti- lightened. It comprehends a principle tution of England preponderated, yet of deputation from the landholders it was essentially modified, by an ad- who grant the elective charters, by dition of peers and commoners into which the landlord, without parting the legislature, chosen by electors, with his property in the soil, denudes constituted on principles which had no- himself of the political privilege atthing previously similar, either in the tached to it, and transfers it to another constitution of Scotland or of England. person, who has wealth without land. Sixteen elected peers were added to Thus, as the country, since the Union, the Lords, which peers, unlike their has prodigiously increased in capital, it compeers in the house, were not the cannot be questioned by any one, who organs, strictly speaking, of their own looks over the lists of freeholders, sentiments, but the representatives of and also sees how many landless per the sentiments of others. Thus, there sons possess county votes, that a very was admitted into the permanent and material popular influence is exercised unchangeable department of the legis- in the choice of the Scottish county lature, a new constituary principle, members, which, practically speaking, that cannot but have had some consi- must have produced a material effect on derable influence on its proceedings the House of Commons; and which, and deliberations. The introduction when taken into consideration with the of the forty-five new members into the state of the Scottish borough represenHouse of Commons was of itself a tation, fully justifies me in saying that great accession of the means of con- an important radical change and reveying the influence of public opinion formation was effected in the House of into the measures of government. But Commons by the Union with Scotland. it has not been enough considered in You will readily anticipate that the what manner these members are cho other change to which I have alluded sen.
is the Union with Ireland, and thereAdmitting for a moment the utmost fore I shall say but little respecting it. degree of corruption, of which the Now, will it be denied that the people Scottish boroughs are accused, still it of the United Kingdom have not acquishould be recollected, that as they re- red an accession of power and influence turn by districts, each borough of each in the House of Commons by the two district respectively operates as a check Unions, which two Unions have added on the other. The English radi. no less than one hundred and fortycals, when they hear of a member for five members to a popular branch of an obscure and mangy Fife town, the constitution, besides materially think he has been returned much in improving the principle in many cases the same sort of way as the worthy upon which the returns are made? It burgesses from Cornwall. They are may, however, be said, that the addi. not aware that he represents five dif- tion to the English House of Comferent towns; that although each of mons, and the erection of an Imperial those towns may be what is called a Parliament, is not equivalent to the close borough, still it is governed by loss which the people of Ireland and a numerous corporation, and that each of Scotland have sustained by the discorporation is, in the case of a con- solution of their Parliaments. To this, tested election, liable to be divided however, I would say, and leave the in choosing, not the member, but the proof till the postulatum is denied, delegate, who is to vote for the mem- that a great general council for legisber, by which, in point of fact, the lative purposes is infinitely preferable members for the Scottish boroughs to a number of small ones. But not undergo a much severer ordeal in the to dwell on what is so obvious, I would process of election than is at all un- simply ask of those who deny the advantages of a reform in the House of fecting the colonies and foreign dependCommons, and of those who demand encies, should be deliberated upon by it, if it is not the fact, that two great an assembly, in which, in common with and important practical changes have the United Kingdom, they should have been made during the last century? representatives. How such an assemand then I would say to the former, bly should be constituted, whether by have they not been attended with great an addition to the House of Commons, and manifest advantages to the country or whether by the creation of a Suand the empire at large? The fair, the preme Parliament in which the elective true, and the undeniable answer to principle, already admitted into the these questions, reduces the question House of Peers, should be adopted for of Parliamentary Reform into a very the general formation of an upper narrow compass-indeed, to so little house, and a district representation, as this: has there any such change the principle of which was first introtaken place in the state of the coun- duced at the Union with Scotland-for try, since the Union with Ireland, as the formation of a lower house, is a to require the introduction of any inore question too multiform to be discussed members, or any new principle? here. All I intend by alluding to it, shall perhaps be answered, no-we ad- is to shew, that in the spirit and cirmit that, so far as respects the number cumstances of the times, something is of members; but it is not to the num- gravitating towards such an issue. Alber, it is to the manner in which the ready have we lost thirteen provinces, members are returned, that we require and in them constituted our most for a reform. So that the whole question midable rival, by the want of some of Parliamentary Reform is reduced to such supreme legislature; already have the manner of election.
the inhabitants of Jamaica loudly proLet us suppose, then, that the mode tested against the interference of the of election were altered, is it probable, Parliament of the United Kingdom practically speaking, I would ask, that with their insular affairs, and already the returns would be very essentially in other colonies, to which it is unneces different to what they are at present? sary to allude, have there not been Would the orators, whose speeches we threatenings of the same spirit ? It apread in all important debates, not pro- pears, indeed, from the very nature of bably be returned ? and if the sense all political organizations, that, unless of the House is in any measure govern- some common tie is formed between a ed by their opinions, would we see parent country and her colonies, the much alteration produced in the phase colonies will, as soon as they can, of the house, if I may use the express maintain themselves; or, as soon as sion, from what it appears to be at pre- they find their interests sacrificed to sent?
those of the parent, separate themBut to bring this clause of my sub- selves, or seek some other alliance. ject to a conclusion, although it can- Now, it so happens, from the exnot be denied that there does exist a tent and ramifications of our commerstrong desire among the operative clas- cial and manufacturing interests, that ses for some change in the legislative out of our dealings with the colonies, department of the State, it may well and other foreign dependencies, the be asserted, that the change is not re- colonies and dependencies have alquired by anything in the constitution
ways strong pecuniary motives to inof the Lords or Commons. It is, how- duce them to cancel their connection ever, required, and it must, sooner or with this country. They send us but later, in some shape or form, be con- raw materials, and receive from us the ceded to the extended concerns and enriched products of our looms and interests of the empire at large. of our skill; and, in consequence, they
It is clear and indisputable, that are always indebted to us a considerParliament interferes and regulates able something between the value of many things which in the existing the raw material which we receive from state of the empire, would be better them, and that of the manufactured armanaged by another council. There ticle which we send them back. There exists no reason whatever, why the de- is ever, therefore, a burden of debt liberations of parliament should not be due to us from the colonies, and which, restricted to the concerns of the United without at all disparaging their honesKingdom, while a thousand may be gi- ty, they must naturally wish to throw ven, to shew that general questions, af- off. The only thing that can makc them
hesitate between separation and con- sentative system into our constitunection, is the protection which they tion and government, there is yet in it receive from us, and which, in addition å wide hiatus to be filled up; there is to that debt, we pay for. Whenever yet wanting some legislative union, not they are in a condition to protect them only among the colonies themselves, selves, or to claim with effect the pro- but between them and the mother tection of another state, on better terms country, that will hold and bind them than they have ours, we must pre- together, and render them all co-opepare ourselves to expect that they will rative in their resources to the maintethrow us off. But as they cannot do nance of one and the same power. this, nor even indicate any disposi- It may, however, be said, that in tion towards it, without threatening this I admit much of what the whig many of our merchants and manu- and radical reformers assert, that if the facturers with ruin, there is among House of Commons were returned on us a strong party watching those pro- more popular principles, the vast sums ceedings of the legislature, by which squandered on the colonies, and for colonial interests are likely to be affect- their protection, would not be drawn ed; and this party, hy the attraction from the industry of the inhabitants of of their own concerns, are ever incli- the United Kingdom. It may be so ned, when they see colonial interests and I am willing to admit all that ; but considered but as secondary, to join then if it is advantageous to our comwith those who cry out for a change in mercial and manufacturing interests the manner of returning members of and by them to our agricultural, to Parliament.
possess those colonial sources of raw Thus it is, that if, in the spirit of materials and necessaries, and to enjoy the times, which is everywhere active the exclusive privilege of their marand eager for representation, there is kets for our products, would we posa disposition resolved into a principle, sess that advantage, without granting which requires a change in the con- that care and protection to which I stitution of the British House of Com- have adverted ? I hold it to be indismons, I would say, it will be found putable, that the possession of our conot to be produced so much by what Ionies is a vast and incalculable advanis supposed to be amiss in legislating tage ; and I fear that there is somefor the united kingdom, as in the ef, thing in our existing state of things fect of legislative enactments caused not calculated to retain it, or at least of by, and which affect the colonies. It such a nature as to blight many of the seems, for example, out of all reason benefits which we might derive from a to tax and drain the industry of the more enlarged colonial and legislative people of this country for the expense policy. of protecting the colonies. But how The demand in the spirit of the is it possible to raise a fund from the times for representation in governcolonies themselves, to assist in de- ment and legislation, is operating, in fraying that expense, wlien it is denied a manner singularly advantageous, to the British Parliament to tax them? calmly and silently towards that effect. Nor is it less unreasonable that the Several of the colonies and dependenBritish Parliament should legislate for cies have regular agents, some of whom interests, of which, constitutionally are in the House of Commons, in what speaking, it can know nothing. In a I may be allowed to call a surreptitiword, therefore, though it is very well ous manner, for the purpose of guardto say, that the House of Commons ing the special interests of their colodoes not require any reform, it must nial constituents, insomuch, that it be held to mean, onlyin so far as certain may be said there is a palpable conhome interests are concerned; for, that verging of the elements of a more exit does require reform, the state of our tensive legislative representation, gracolonies, their complaints, and the va- dually pressing on the attention of gorious expedients from time to time vernment, and claiming for the depenadopted to obviate these complaints, dencies of the united kingdom, a getogether with the enormous expense neral constitution, connected with the for their protection, which falls exclu- mother country, quite as strongly and sively on the United Kingdom, all as justly as the Prussians are crying out prove that some reform, or some new for the constitution which was promised institution, is requisite. Far and to them by their king. With us,
howwisely as we have carried the repres ever, the claim will be satisfied diffe. VOL. XV.
rently. What we want is withheld It lays open to our view, and to our partly from prejudice, partly from admiration, the liberality of the eccledoubt as to how
it may operate, and siastical establishment of England, in chiefly from the official inconveniences a light that language cannot sufficientto which it may give rise. With the ly applaud ; and when we consider the Prussians it is denied by a tremendous strict intermarriage in that country bearray of soldiery. The same moral tween the Church and the State, it must paralysis, however, which, at the be- be allowed that the wisdom of this poginning of the French revolution, ren- licy of the English church is a glorious dered the German armies so ineffect- demonstration of the enlightened views ive, will seize the ranks of the Prus- and temperate principles in the gosians, and a volcano will break out vernment of the state. under the throne itself, and overwhelm But the strain and tendency of our it with ruin and with crimes; whereas literature is the best comment on the our government will, froin the influ- progressive state of opinion, and, conence of public opinion, either give the sequently, of national advancement. subject a full and comprehensive con- Except in a few remarkable instances, sideration, or endeavour to repair and criticism is the prevalent taste of the adapt the old and existing system to
times—a criticism not confined, as of meet something like what is required, old, to the execution, orto the manner and which, practically speaking, may in which subjects are conceived, but “ work well” enough.
which comprehends, together with The next object that presents itself, style and conception, not only the after contemplating what bears on the power employed, but the moral and State, is the situation of the Church. philosophieal tendency of the matter. It is not to be disputed, that the pro- It is impossible that so much general digious rush which infidelity made du- acumen can be long employed without ring the last ten years of the last cen- inducing improvement in all things tury, has not only been checked, but which are either the subjects or the that there has been a remarkable re- objects of literary illustration, and edification of all the strong-holds of these are in fact all things. No greater Christianity-so much, that piety, it proof of the advance which has already may be averred, has become so fa- taken place in the moral taste of the shionable, as to be almost a folly; that country, making every allowance for is to say, the same sort of minds cant, need be assigned, than what is which, five-and-twenty years ago,
involved in the sinple questionwould have been addicted to philo- Would such novels as those of Fieldsophy, are inflamed with a church- ing and Smollett be now readily pubgoing zeal. Churches, and theological lished by any respectable bookseller? instruction of all kinds, are rising and We have seen what an outcry was flourishing everywhere. It has not, raised about Don Juan ; but is that however, been much observed, that, satirical work, in any degree, so faulty although there is an astonishing in- in what is its great proclaimed fault, crease of ecclesiastical edifices, there is as either Tom Jones, Roderick Rana no augmentation in the number of dom, or Peregrine Pickle? church dignitaries, a circumstance I have, however, so long trespassed which would seem to imply that some
at this time, that I must for the prething of a presbyterian spirit is creep- sent conclude. I shall, however, as inginto episcopacy; or, in other words, early as possible resume the subject, the Church of England, seeing that and I expect to make it plain to you, the people were attaching themselves that, although the world is overspread to plain and simple modes of worship, with wrecks and ashes, and there is yielding half-way to that very spirit is but an apparent restoration of old by which the dissenters have so pros- customs and habitudes, there lies yet pered.
before our beloved country a path to This policy in that church, if it greatness and glory, which nothing can be called policy which is the ex- but some dreadful natural calamity pedient result of the force of circuma ought, I would almost say—can prestances, is the first example that has vent her from pursuing, to heights ever appeared in the world of so great, that will far exceed all Greek and Roso wealthy, and so powerful a body, man fame. and a priesthood too, adapting itself
BANDANA. voluntarily to the spirit of the times. Glasgow, 24th December, 1823.