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—regretfully alludes to the growth, among our aristocracy, of
“an exclusiveness of habit and an isolation of life which can be indulged in with impunity by legitimists in Paris, or men of letters in Boston, but which, if systematically persisted in, will seriously impair the relations of classes and the political structure of our civil existence. The great can no longer remain in an empyrean of their own, even if that atmosphere be purer, wiser, and better than the world below ; but as unfortunately it is the tendency of all exclusiveness of this kind to generate a very different kind of atmosphere, there is the double peril of the injury to the order and the damage to the individuals.”
In the present condition of society, it is to the aristocracy that the nation rightly looks for guidance and statesmanship. Wealth, leisure, honours, are secured to them for this end; and the structure of society cannot last if that end be not fulfilled. With one or two illustrious exceptions, have our aristocracy adequately fulfilled their end for the last forty years? Do they afford any promise of fulfilling it in the future. Mr. Arnold accounts for this failure of the aristocracy in their prime duty of leadership, on the theory that the politics of this and future generations will be ruled by “ideas,” and that in reception and appreciation of ideas an aristocracy is always deficient. There is much truth in the accusation. In Foreign politics, our aristocracy never sympathized with the idea of Italian unity; they were obstinately blind to the idea which animated the North in the late American struggle; they have never even caught the great idea of all sound foreign policy, that in the prosperity of others lies the best security for our own. In regard to Home politics they have no ideas at all; their only conception of a policy is to keep all things as they are. Now, this inadequacy of our aristocracy, in the present state of affairs, to their befitting task of ruling, is in itself a sufficient reason for broadening the foundations of the constitution. Above all, by now extending the suffrage we do not facilitate the undue encroachments of democracy; we rather repress them. It is the old story—admit freshness of idea and the life will continue vigorous; turn away from it, refuse to receive it, and your insufficiency shall find you out, and, Dii meliora, the ruin may be complete. The statement which recently appeared in the Times, to the effect that the Ministry had abandoned the idea of dealing with the franchise only, was received with general satisfaction. Mr. Bouverie, who sometimes
chastens his party in a spirit of love, expressed on this point the wishes of the great majority of Liberals. Indeed, every reformer who has spoken on the subject, beginning with the seconder of the Address, has expressed the same conviction. It is difficult to conceive what motive can have influenced the Ministry in their first determination. The idea of dealing with a question of this sort piecemeal, taking it up bit by bit and year by year, was surely one of the strangest ever entertained by a Government. Without quite adopting Mr. Gregory’s “unsavoury comparison,” the Reform question is plainly on the verge of becoming a great plague, and a serious obstruction to other business. That important political questions should remain unsettled is an undoubted evil. As Mr. Austin says, “They disturb the peace and endanger the institutions of the country; and, by absorbing the cares of the Cabinet, and the thoughts of Parliament and the public, they are great obstacles to political and social progress.” Whether the subject is dealt with in one Bill, or, as Mr. Neate suggested, two Bills, does not very much matter. It would be better that it were disposed of in one complete measure; but, after all, the great thing is that it should be disposed of at one time. The Government have declared their intention to stand or fall by their measure; and therefore, as Mr. Bouverie said, they owe it to their supporters that this measure should be worth standing or falling by. There is no necessity that a Bill should be passed this session. Nay, there is no necessity that a Bill should be even introduced this session. We are firmly persuaded that, if the Government were to come forward and frankly state that, owing to the novelty of the information they had obtained, or the increasing difficulties of more pressing questions, or any other good reason, they felt themselves unable to prepare a satisfactory measure in time to be carried this session, but that they solemnly pledged themselves to introduce a complete measure early next session, the country would receive the announcement with indulgence, and even favour. There must of course be no idea of hesitation, or of postponement with the view of eventually doing nothing. Anything of that sort would at once be fatal. But if the country was convinced that the Ministry were determined and in earnest, and that delay was asked merely in order that the measure might be made more satisfactory, they would cheerfully give it. The matter of re-distribution of seats requires skilful handling. But now, as in 1832, it will be found that in boldness lies wealth. We must somehow manage to maintain our forcing-beds at a less expense. The removal of this discredit to our system may be effected in two ways. One, by disfranchising the small boroughs, which was the plan adopted in the Bill of Lord Aberdeep's Government, the other, by uniting small towns into districts of boroughs (as is now in some instances the case in Scotland and Wales), which was the plan adopted in Lord Russell’s Bill of 1852. There can be no doubt that the latter plan is the best. }; adopting it we avoid the necessity of isenfranchising anybody, which is in itself a great gain; and we are enabled to enfranchise a large body of electors, at present without the suffrage, the householders in small county towns. And they having thus got votes for a borough, have no ground for claiming that the county franchise should be lowered so as to include them, which would lead to swamping the counties altogether—an evil, as we have before said, earnestly to be deprecated. Mr. Mill, in his Thoughts on Representation, states some weighty objections to the manner in which this idea was worked out in the Bill of 1852; but they were objections to the manner only. It can hardly be doubted that by judiciously applying this principle, the question of the re-distribution of seats might be solved so as to effect a vast improvement on our representative system. Without seeking after curious devices, whereby “checks" and “counterpoises” to the legitimate weight of numbers may be j out, it geems right that minorities should, to some extent, be represented; and this can be effected by very simple and feasible means. Lord Grey and Mr. Mill concur in recommending, for this end, a system of “cumulative voting,” first suggested, we believe, by Mr. Garth Marshall. It consists in granting as many votes as there are members, and allowing the electors to give il their votes to one candidate, or to divide
safety. Mr. Gladstone displayed a strange them, as they think best. The object is, we fondness for small boroughs in 1859; but think, desirable, and the plan is quite unwith this single exception all statesmen and objectionable. Again, without unduly Inultiwriters agree in condemning them as the plying “fancy” franchises, the suffrage Inight greatest blots on the existing system. They be conferred on the Scotch, Universities, the are either pocket-boroughs or the prize of Universities of Durham and London, and the the highest bidder—to be commanded by Irish Colleges, with benefit to the publie, and influence or won by bribery. In them are in conformity with our present system. to be found the worst forms of corruption, Many other suggestive ideas have been the most degrading aspects of feudal domina thrown out by writers on the subject, partition. Nor can the accident that some one cularly by Lord Grey. Among these are of them may be the chance nursery of a the suggestion that the House should have Cauning, a Macaulay, or a Gladstone, re- power to elect members for life, and also concile us to a crowd of nonentities, in the members for duration of the Parliament then shape either of great landlords' nominees, or sitting; and the more obvious improvement of men who have no recommendation but that the rule which requires a member to
resign his seat on being appointed to an office should be abolished. These, and such others will, it may be hoped, receive careful attention during the progress of the Bill. If then, it is the duty of Ministers to introduce a comprehensive and well-matured measure, what is the duty of the Liberal party towards Ministers? Unhappily we know too well what the conduct of some members of that party will be. Mr. Lowe's unlucky speech of last session has separated him from his old allies, and he has evinced lately a bitterness of temper which is but an ungenerous return towards a party which promoted him rapidly and stood by him steadily. This is matter for great regret, for in sheer ability Mr. Lowe has few equals in the House; and we cannot but hope that his return to the ranks of the Liberal party may be among the good consequences of a final settlement of the Reform question. Of Mr. Horsman there is no hope. Disappointed ambition and the cheers of the country gentlemen have led him on to forget his position, his party, and his friends; hitherto his powers have been equal to his spleen; but this session he has sunk to the line of a dull and malevolent jester, selecting as the subjects of his clumsy jocularity men so immeasurably his superiors as Mr. Mill and Mr. Fawcett. But while such eccentricities on the part of individuals are explicable enough, it is less easy to understand why there should be a general feeling of discontent among the Liberal party. It may be that grounds of complaint are not wanting. It may be that there was a want of decision in forming and of frankness in announcing a worthy Liberal policy before Parliament met. It may be that Lord Russell has made his appointments somewhat suddenly, whereas more complaisant Premiers go through the flattering but not very useful ceremony of asking the consent of the Cabinet to a foregone conclusion. It may be, too, that Lord Russell is wanting in those popular qualities which no public man in England can afford to despise. But such matters as these, though of real importance in London, are not quite so much thought of in the country. The public will be apt to remember that Lord Russell, during his first administration, was bitterly attacked for seeking his colleagues only among the great Whig families, and they will resent any ungenerous reception of his efforts to redeem this error. They will reflect that if some of Lord Russell's promotions have been sudden, this was not his fault alone. It was a marked defect in Lord Palmerston—so different therein from Sir Robert Peel—that he brought forward no young men, left no inheritors of his opinions and reputation. We do not now care to seek the reasons of this; the fact is certain. And the consequence was doubly hard on his successor, who had to satisfy the popular demand for “new blood in the administration,” raised more vehemently than we ever remember it, while his means of doing so were singularly limited. They will consider that Lord Russell took to office at a time of peculiar difficulty, when, by the death of Lord Palmerston, party discipline had been grievously relaxed, when, nevertheless, action was felt by all to be imperative, and with a powerful Opposition in high hope; and they will be of opinion that at such a juncture he had a right to expect not a little consideration and indulgence. Liberal members—especially such as look forward to the pleasure of a contested election—should, we humbly advise, bethink themselves of these things. Club unpopularity may very readily break up a Ministry, but members so situated will find it just as well for the security of their seats to have no hand in such a proceed1Ilg.
But while we would strongly urge on the party the necessity of holding together and supporting the Government, it cannot be denied that the restoration of discipline and confidence lies in great measure with the Ministry themselves. If they do not see their way to carry a Reform Bill this session, let them frankly avow this, and, as we before said, they need fear nothing worse than some trenchant sarcasm from Mr. Dis
raeli, and several Joe Millers dished up luke
warm by Mr. Horsman. If, on the other hand, they were to introduce a complete measure, and let it be known not only that the Government mean to stand or fall by it, but that Government, if beaten, will not resign, but dissolve, thus bringing the idea of their constituencies prominently before the mind of the more fastidious Liberals, we suspect these gentlemen would regain a reWol. XLIV. N–9
collection of their hustings speeches, and would be something less susceptible to the atmosphere of indifference which is said to pervade the House. Some politicians are of opinion that it might hasten the settlement of the question of Reform were the Tories restored to office, on the ground that their influence might secure the passing of the measure, especially in the Lords, while the Opposition would see to the liberality and adequacy of its provisions. A suggestion of this nature was urged o Lord Palmerston in the debate of 1859. We doubt the feasibility of this scheme; we doubt still more the wisdom of it. The Derby Bill of '59 was not such as to make us sanguine of good from that quarter. The Tories cannot, with anything like consistency, bring in a Bill which Liberals would accept. Nor can we believe that they will stoop to the degradation of passing a measure at the dictation of their opponents. Were they to do so, it would be matter for great regret. Weak as the Tories may be in policy and ability, they are yet a great party in the State, and as such no one would willingly see them discredited. It is of evil influence that public men should pursue office by running counter to the most cherished traditions of their party. The Tories have tried this once, and their success was not so great as to encourage a repetition of the experiment, and we are glad, for their own sakes and the sake of the country, that this is so. On the ground of general politics, moreover, we should regard the aecession of the Tories to office as a great evil. We have at the beginning of this paper fully indicated the differences in principle which seem to mark the two great parties in the State; and the Liberals excel their opponents in the power and character of their leaders hardly less than in the soundness of their opinions. Of Lord Russell we have already spoken. Beside him in the House of Lords sit as members of his Administration some of the most vigorous and powerful men in the Peerage. The House of Commons, besides the loss of their great leader, find every day greater occasion to deplore the absence of the unrivalled knowledge, sterling principle, and unfailing sagacity which Sir George Lewis brought to their deliberations. But if new blood can at all give us hope, it has been energetically sought out. Mr. Goschen, Mr. C. Fortescue, Mr. Forster, and Mr. Stansfield restored with a generous courage heartily appreciated by the country, to the career from which the Tories had thought to hunt him, from these men we may surely expect vigorous administration and a promise of future statesmanship. And last of all there is Mr. Gladstone, who, as if to crown his great reputation, has opaned his career as leader of the House with a temper and a dignity and loftiness of tone which has surprised his warmest admirers. And it is for Lord Malmesbury, Lord Cranbourne and Mr. Disraeli, that we are asked to displace these men' It is to be desired, then, that Liberal Ministers should carry through a measure of Reform; and, that measure once settled, it is also to be desired that a Liberal Ministry should continue to govern the country.
We have no wish to see any Government
constantly devising new changes. “Meas: ures, not men,” is the shallowest of political cries. The converse would be far nearer the truth: By what men do we wish to be ruled ? For we do believe that Government can do much in fashioning the destinies of the people, and even something towards influencing the fortunes of other nations. Has Mr. Gladstone's finance been without effect upon his country? Did Lord Palmerston's avowed sympathies afford no stimulus to the cause of Italian freedom * An Englishman may be forgiven if he refuse to concur in the gloomy anticipations of England's future, which supply matter
for so much cheerful meditation in Mr. Arnold's continental friends. Doubtless exciting and anxious times seem near at hand, in which England may find it hard to hold her own as heretofore. If she hopes to do so, she must, in her Foreign policy, forget the worn-out traditions which yet cling to her; must rise to cordial sympathy with the new ideas which are stirring in Europe; must ally herself frankly with advancing Liberal. ism ; must seek better to understand and enter into the difficulties of other nations; and, above all, must lay aside jealousies and self-seeking, recognising the great truth, that in the advancement and prosperity of those whom she thinks her rivals, lies her own surest safety: in Home affairs she must shape her legislation in enlightened accordance with sound political economy; and resolutely direct it towards equalizing, so far as may be, the rights and privileges of all men. May those things be And so may we enjoy peace, and lessen our expenditure, and extend our prosperity, till it reach all classes of society It is, we believe, the firm persuasion of the country, that the men most likely to realize these—perhaps too fond–expectations, are to be found among the members and supporters of the present Administration.
NORTH BRITISH REVIEW.
FOR JUNE, 186 6.
Art. I.--1. Tableau de L'Empire Romain a far higher degree than ever before, to give
depuis la Fondation de Rome jusqu'à vividness and meaning to the past, without la fin du Gouvernement Impérial en Occi- turning it into an exaggerated image of the dent. Par M. AMÉDÉE Thierry, Paris : present. Niebuhr's work was indeed imDidier et Cie., 1862. .
perfect, and the power of historical divina2. Mommsen's History of Rome. Trans- tion' which he supposed himself to possess
lated by Rev. W. P. Dickson, D.D. often led him to attempt to make bricks London: Bentley, 1862.
without straw; yet he cannot be denied the 3. Römische Geschichte von Dr. A. Schweg- merit of having first taught us how to make
ler. Laupps'che Buchhandlung. Tübin- criticism constructive as well as destructive; gen, 1853.
how to use aright the dangerous weapon of
Thistorical analogy; how to search for the Tae history of Rome has in a peculiar higher interest of national life, even while sense universal interest. Rome is the bridge we cast aside the lower interest of legend between the ancient and the modern world, and romance. This Niebuhr was the first the vessel in which the treasure of ancient to do; and that he did it imperfectly is only civilisation was preserved, till the nations of a consequence of the fact that he did it modern Europe were ready to receive it. first. The limit of ancient history is when all the It is not now too much to say that since various peoples who played a part in the Niebuhr we have attained a far juster confirst act of the great drama are dissolved and ception of Roman history as a whole than lost in the universality of Rome. The be- was possessed by native historians. And ginning of modern history is when a new the reason is, that this new criticism has order of peoples seek to sever themselves taught us to ask questions which they did from the unity of the Roman Empire, and not ask, though they afford us sufficient data to acquire independence, Further : Roman for the answers. It has taught us also to history holds the middle place, not only in take full advantage of our position, and view time, but in character. It combines the Roman history as a continuous whole, in a progressive continuity of modern, with sense in which no native historian could so something of the unity and simplicity of an- regard it. To a certain degree, the conticient political life. Through all the perplex- nuity of the national life forced itself upon ing conflict and infinite variety of modern the observation of the Roman historians, politics, Rome still seems to prolong the who in this one point rise above their far same monotone that awed the ancient world greater Greek rivals. Livy has a far clearer into silence.
notion of the relation of the present to the Hence we do not wonder that Roman his past than Thucydides: Tantæ molis erat tory has been made the battle-field of so Romanam condere gentem. He sees how many controversies. On this subject Nie- a nation makes and moulds itself by its own buhr gave the first example of that species acts; yet he sees this only in part, and in of historical criticism which has been called its most obvious aspects. He was too the peculiar gift and characteristic of modern much carried away by the passions of the thought; that criticism which enables us, in time to understand the deeper unity of a VOL. XLIV.