« 이전계속 »
21 sib 9.**
upon the nation. Alas! our worst fears have been realized; the growth of the Radical party, the peremptory nature of the instructions communicated by the new town constituencies is now apparent; and Government, so far from gaining strength, is daily increasing in weakness. Questions on which a considerable majority were obtained last year, are now abandoned; and those like the Corn Laws, on which the vital interests of society depend, are defended only by a daily decreasing majority. A very slight retrospect of the present Session, short as it hitherto has been, must be sufficient to demonstrate this to every unprejudiced mind.
The motion of Mr Whitmore, for a repeal of the Corn Lawse, was thrown out last Session by a majority of 305 against 106: the whole number who voted being 411. This year, a similar motion, brought for ward by Mr Hume, disguised under the thin veil of a protecting duty of 10s., diminishing by a shilling annually till it is extinguished, was rejected by a majority of 312 to 155: the whole number who voted being 467. Thus, all the efforts of part of the Government and the Conservatives acting together, and with the aid, too, of more than half of the Irish Radicals, could only swell the opponents of the measure from 305 to 312, that is, by 7 members; while the opposite party increased from 106 to 155, that is, by 49 members.
But this is not all. By far the worst feature in that question was : the indecision and vacillation exhibited by Government during its discussion. Sir James Grahame, indeed, made a noble speech on the occasion, in defence of the great interests of the empire; but what did Lord Althorp, the leader of the
House of Commons, declare? Why, that he agreed with the arguments urged by Mr Hume and the opponents of the Corn Laws, but that as the Parliamentary investigation of last Session had proved the agricultural interests to be in a state of great depression, and the manufacturing comparatively prosperous, this was not the time to press the change. Mr Poulett Thomson, a member of the Government, though not a Cabinet Minister, argued strenuously against the Corn Laws, while Lord Howick, son, and Mr. Ellice, brother-in-law, to Earl Grey, with Mr William Brougham, brother to the Lord Chancellor, and many other members or relations of Government, voted on the same side! Thus Ministers are divided on the subject, while the opposite party are rapidly increasing in numbers and confidence. It is easy to predict what will be the result of such a contest.
Mr. Harvey's motion," that the Speaker make arrangements for publishing the names of each member in the minority and majority on each division," a measure evidently and powerfully calculated to increase the subjection of the Members to the new constituencies, was thrown out last session by a majority of 48. This session, the point has been conceded by Lord Althorp, and the new system will speedily be put in force. The old, established, and hitherto unchallenged right of the Crown to grant pensions, has been maintained in the House of Commons this session against Mr Harvey's motion, only by a majority of 4; and since that time the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been compelled to succumb in the conflict, to abandon the principle that the King is entitled to judge for himself in these matters,
"On Lord Ashley's motion (July 5) for the committee on the Factory Bill, the numbers were
For the motion
For Lord Althorp's amendment,
164) In the House, 141 f 305.
Majority against Ministers
"On Mr Ruthven's motion (July 16) for the reduction of taxation and the abolition of sinecures, the numbers were
For the motion
Majority against Ministers
907 In the House,
and himself bring forward a motion to have the existing pensions submitted to the examination of a committee of the popular branch of the Legislature!
Mr O'Connell, the great agitator, the leader of Irish, and it may almost be said of English democracy, obtained by a majority of 97, a resolution of the House of Com'mons to appoint an enquiry into the conduct of Baron Smith, one of the greatest and best men whom Ireland ever produced. His charges against him were, that he began business at 11-sat too long, and did too much work, and denounced from the Bench the efforts of the agitators, under whose influence crime had multiplied to such a degree that Ministers themselves tell us, "the only question was, whether Ireland was not to relapse into the savage anarchy of Abyssinia."* This vote was, by a great effort of the gentlemen of the House of Commons, rescinded by a majority of 4-a memorable example of moral courage in the majority; a lamentable proof of the state of the representation, when that majority was so small!
Inconsiderable as the portion of the session therefore is, which has already elapsed, it has evinced an increasing weakness in Government to the highest degree alarming. But melancholy as these prospects are, they are nothing to what is opened up by the sudden change which has taken place in the declaration of Ministers regarding the Church, and the clear evidence of conscious weakness which their conduct now affords in regard to that first and most important part of the social edifice.
The Radicals, like the Revolutionary party, in all ages and in all countries, consider the Church as their first victim, and exult more in the success of their attempts to depress or degrade religion, than in all their triumphs over the civil institutions of the Empire. "The great triumphs of the session in this department," says the Westminster Review, "have been the defeat of the Sabbath Observance Bill, and the Irish Tithes Bill; and though the English Tithes Commutation Bill
has not passed, surely the die is cast. The omission of the 147th clause in the Irish Church Bill has, more than any other measure, damped the confidence in Ministers as friends to unflinching Church Reform." This being the well-known and settled determination of the Radicals, and the Church being avowedly the first and favourite point of their attack, it was the chief duty of Ministers to be cautious but firm on this subject; to consider well the ground they took, but having taken it, to defend it manfully; and, above all, to avoid that ruinous irresolution and vacillation, which in political, not less than military conflicts, is the sure prelude of defeat.
It was with surprise, therefore, but no small degree of satisfaction, that the Conservatives, whether Whig or Tory, (for that title is already including the estimable even of the Reform party,) heard the strong and emphatic declarations of Earl Grey in favour of the Church, delivered both in his place in Parliament, and in conversation with the Dissenters of Nottingham and other places. They were delighted to find that the real objects of complaint only were to be redressed; that the hand of spoliation was to be stayed; and that Lord John Russell's bill relating to marriages, burials, registers, and other points not touching on the real interests of the Establishment, afforded the measure of the concession which Ministers were to admit. Buthow brief are the days of hope to the friends of order, under a Government exposed to the pressure of an insatiable democracy! Hardly were the words of consolation uttered; scarcely had the feeling of joy shot through the hearts of the friends of Christianity, when the divisions on the pension list, Baron Smith, and the Marquis of Chandos's motion regarding agricultural taxation, ensued; the elections at Leeds and Dudley shewed Ministers that they were losing the support of the Dissenters and Radicals, and instantly the transient gleam was overcast. Clouds, darker than ever, succeeded. Lord Grey declared that the bill introduced by Lord John Russell into the lower
Reform Parliament and Reform Ministry, p. 7. + Westminster Review, Oct. 1833, p. 407.
House was only the first of a series of bills which should concede to the Dissenters ALL their demands, except the separation of Church and State. And Lord John Russell in the Commons proclaimed the principle, that the property of the ecclesiastical bodies belongs to the nation, and that after making a provision for the ministers of religion, the remainder was at the disposal of the State. The defeat of the Whigs on the Budget, and the timber duties, in spring 1831, occasioned the desperate leap in the dark of the Reform Bill, and overturned the Constitution; the defeat at Dudley, and the narrow majority at Leeds, with the divisions on the pension list and Baron Smith, have overthrown the Church of England. A Whig leader, when he has lost the support of the Dissenters and Radicals, is comparable to nothing but an Austrian General when his flank is turned and his communications cut off. His first and only thought is to lay down his arms. The whole of that party have been so long accustomed, during their opposition campaigns, to look for support only to the populace; mob adulation, popular applause, have so long rung in their ears, that they are incapable of conducting Government on any other principle, and exhibit a degree of timidity, when assailed in rear by their former allies, which a priori would have been inconceivable in persons of their capacity. This is the only principle, and it is the most charitable one, on which we can explain the uniform abandonment of their professions to uphold the Constitution, or any part of it, the moment that matters approached a crisis. Earl Grey declared with great emphasis in the House of Peers, that he would live and die with his order; and shortly after he brought in the Reform Bill. He declared more recently, that the bill Ministers had introduced into the House of Commons redressed all the real grievances of the Dissenters; and now he suddenly abandons his former professions, and declares, that he is to concede all their demands except the separation of Church and State, which, after such concessions, will be not worth contending for.
We heard an acute Conservative predict, the moment the declarations
of Ministers in favour of the Church were made, that they were going to overturn it; and this anticipation was founded on their invariable previous custom of abandoning that part of our institutions, which they professed their intention most strenuously to support. We are inclined, however, to put a more charitable construction on their conduct." It is a bad habit to get into," as Lord Advocate Jeffrey said of Napoleon in 1815," that of abdicating." With equal truth it may be affirmed, that the worst of habits for a Ministry in stormy times to get into, is that of abandoning their professions, the moment they bring them into danger. It at once reveals the secret of their weakness; and shews the revolutionary party how they may succeed in carrying the most anarchical designs. "Threaten! Threaten! Threaten!" that is their sole principle of action-the only requisite to ensure success. This could only be done, under the old Constitution, by open denunciations of violence and civil war; because the Legislature, being founded on the representation of the great interests in the State, was proof against any other species. of intimidation, and it was accordingly liberally made use of during the Reform contest. Now, such express threats are no longer necessary. The new constituencies have esta blished a smoother and easier method of concession. Certain monitory letters are found on the Members' tables when they come down to breakfast; a few significant hints are given to Ministers by the result of contested elections in certain populous places; they are held up to contempt in one or two divisions in the House of Commons-and instantly the whole system of Government is changed, concession becomes the order of the day; the white flag is hoisted, a bribe is offered to the eneshort breathing time is thus afforded my to postpone his attack, and a beleaguered fortress, to be improved to the pusillanimous garrison of the by the enemy by doubling the number and strengthening the spirit of its assailants.
Let the Conservative party, therefore, beware of falling into the fatal of the Revolution is stopped, or even error of supposing that the progress
suspended, because it does not now assail their senses with the frightful features which it at first assumed; because Bristol is not in flames, nor Nottingham in ruins; because the brickbat and the bludgeon are not in daily requisition to beat down courageous patriotism, and adverse opinion can be expressed without windows being demolished, or life endangered. These disgraceful allies were called in by the Whigs and Revolutionary party to overawe, when they could not persuade, the Legislature; to obtain for them that ready and certain admission into the Great Council of the nation, which should at once and for ever give them the command of its deliberations. Having gained their point, open concussion is laid aside; violence is no longer required, because resistance is no longer dreaded; the rapids are past, the rocks are surmounted, and the stream of Revolution glides on with a swift and steady current, hardly perceptible to those who are borne along the stream, to be measured only by the rapidity with which the ancient landmarks are vanishing from the sight.
The present state of thraldom in which the members for the populous places are kept by their constituents, and the complete establishment which the system of delegation is about to obtain in the Legislature, may be judged by the following extracts from Mr John Crawfurd's circular to the householders of Mary-lebone, dated 8th January, 1834.
"The recent Reform in the Representation of the People, although a considerable step, has, in my judgment, essentially failed in producing those indispensable improvements in our institutions, and that change in the spirit of our Government which the people had anxiously, and reasonably expected. I have narrowly watched, and closely examined the changes which have been carried into effect in the first Session of the Reformed Parliament, and it is my honest conviction that they have been, either imperfect remedies, or aggravations of popular evils. In the great majority of instances they have been clumsily, or feebly executed; some were open, and, indeed, professed violations of every principle which ought to govern the legislation of a free people.
"Judging from its working in the first Session, I am of opinion, that the recent Reform in the Commons' House of Parliament is insufficient, and demands many
improvements. Among these, the most essential are, the extension of the suffrage to every Inhabitant Householder, without making the payment of rates or taxes a condition of the franchise; the introduc tion of secret voting for the protection of the honest elector-and frequent Elec
"I am for the repeal of the Corn Laws, and for a trade, not only in this first necessary of life, but in every other necessary of life, as unshackled with foreign nations as that between one county of England and another county. I am a decided enemy to any duty upon corn for fiscal purposes, considering bread to be an unfit subject for taxation; and I the purpose, in itself delusory, of affordam still more an enemy to such duty for ing what is called protection to the proprietors of the land, by way of equivalent for such charges as are imagined to press exclusively on the landed interest; being wholly unaware of the existence of any peculiar burden upon the land, not inherited with it, or calculated upon in its purchase.
"On the very important question of Ecclesiastical Reform my opinions are these:-I hold the property enjoyed by the Church to be the property of the Nation I hold that the majority of the People, or the Legislature acting in their behalf, have a right to appropriate the property now possessed by the Church as may seem best to them. I hold tithes to be a most impolitic and mischievous tax. I hold that the communicants of
each religious persuasion ought in justice to maintain their own pastors, and support lowers of no one form of worship should their own churches: and that the folbe taxed for the maintenance of another. On the question of Pledges, my opinion has long been formed. I consider a Member of Parliament to be strictly the agent of his Constituents, bound to obey their instructions when he can conscientiously do so, and bound, at once, to resign, as being virtually no longer their Representative, when he cannot. When Parliaments shall be of short duration, and members shall be frequently sent back to the People to be dismissed or returned as they may happen to represent their wishes or otherwise, pledges will be seldom called for; but while long Parliaments exist, and Electors are compelled to repose an unreasonable confidence in their Representatives, pledges are both rational and indispensable.
"On the principle thus explained, I shall never hesitate to pledge myself to a specific vote upon any question whatever on which my judgment has enabled me to come to a decision; I therefore pledge
myself without hesitation to vote for the Ballot, Extension of Suffrage, and short Parliaments, for the abolition of every Tax on Knowledge, for the abolition of all Monopolies."
When these are the principles on which a seat in Parliament is sought in one of the richest quarters of London, it may be imagined what a prodigious advance the principles of self-government-in other words, anarchy and revolution-have made since the overthrow of the Constitution.
had filled them with the lust of power; in the country, because excessive misery had rendered them desperate and solicitous for any change.
Still the means of salvation existed; by a concession of reform to the higher classes in the great towns the ferment might have been lessened; and by such allies the Conservative party in the country materially strengthened. The Tories missed it, from confounding reform in Parliament with increase of democratic power, and refusing to grant it even on principles which would have diminished that formidable force; but, after they abandoned the helm, the Constitution remained, and by a cordial union of the holders of property, the advance of revolution, might even at the eleventh hour have been checked. But, in an evil hour, the Whigs succeeded to power, through the fatal divisions of the Tories, consequent on Catholic Emancipation; and in an instant, the Constitution was scattered to the winds. With a culpable rashness, an inconceivable recklessness, a blindness to the real state of the country, which has no parallel in history, they quadrupled by the L.10 clause the forces of the towns, already too considerable, diminished by one half the forces of the country, already too small; gave 346 seats to English boroughs, and only 146 to English counties; and installed the urban democracies in such unbridled sovereignty, as has utterly prostrated the respectable classes in cities, overwhelmed in its ultimate effects the rural interests, totally changed the character of the Legislature, and exposed the nation to a deluge of changes of which no human prescience can foresee the termination.
Nothing can be clearer, therefore, now that the result is beginning to manifest itself, than both the causes which led to a general desire for a change in the representation, and the dreadful aggravation of the existing dangers of our situation, which the Whigs occasioned by forcing through, with the whole force of the Executive, the Reform Bill. It was the vast increase of towns during the last forty years which first influenced the measures of a conceding Government, threw the Whigs into the arms of the city democracies, and produced the constant support, by popular writers, of urban interests, which so generally and fatally affected the acts of the Legislature. The adoption of these measures by Government speedily brought general distress and suffering on the industrious, and more especially the country part of the community; and the old hereditary feelings of English loyalty by degrees melted away in a numerous and estimable class, under the combined influence of free trade, free navigation, and a contracted currency. General discontent at the existing state of the representation arose from this singular combination of circumstances in both the great divisions of society; in the towns, because excessive prosperity