of generations yet unborn, to provide for wants which we cannot know, and to meet necessities which we are utterly unable to foresee? But if all this be true generally, it holds a fortiori in regard to the Reform Bill. Little as is the experience we have yet had of its operation, that experience has been sufficient to indicate flagrant, nay, monstrous defects in this so-called final measure. Have we not seen that it has created a constituency which, unless protected in the exercise of the right conferred upon them, must become instrumental in effecting the destruction of the very measure to which they owe their political existence ? Have we not seen that the right, which ought to have been freely bestowed because justly due, has been clogged with disfranchising conditions, founded on an intolerable oppression ? Have we not seen the scope which has been given for, and witnessed the mischief which has been produced by, the jugglery and chicanery of legal construction applied to its ill-conceived and incuriously-worded provisions? Have not thousands been thus excluded from the exercise of rights to which their natural title was as good as that of any who were fortunate enough to be enfranchised ? Has there been no intimidation practised against voters? nu undue influence exerted ? no open and unblushing corruption em ployed? Yes, all this, and more, has fallen under our observation, and that of every man, besides, who paid any attention to the events which marked the course of the late elections ; yet, because the Whigs think they have obtained a decided majority, and because, under the powerful excitement produced by a variety of concurring causes, the country, upon the whole, has done its duty well, we are to be told that there is no remedy for these monstrous and intolerable evils, and that we must be content to receive the Reform Act as a final measure!

But, perhaps, there is more in this than meets either the eye or the ear; perhaps these noble and right honourable personages hold that enough has already been conceded to the country, that more would render the people too powerful, and that henceforth Aristocratic Reformers must abandon the Movement, and make common cause with the Con. servative party. As much, indeed, has been hinted at in various quarters; and from what we know of the character and temper of Whiggery, we are prepared to believe that many of that party would now willingly break up the alliance with the people if they durst, and endeavour to resume their ancient haughty position. But they dare not even make the attempt. They love not the people, we know; but it is now too late to desert them. Defective and mischievous as it is in many respects, the Bill has worked too well for that. Our safety consists in the constitution of the new Ilouse of Commons, acted upon, as it will be, in the most powerful manner, by the extrinsic agencies of the public, the Press, and the Political Unions, which the very first symptom of treachery, or even of retrogression, would call into a state of tremendous activity. The same men, as formerly, have, it is true, been, in very many instances, returned to Parliament, because sufficient time was not af.. forded the people to seek out more suitable or less objectionable representatives. But, then, they are the same men only in their personal identity, and stand, all of them, in a new relation to those by whom they have been elected. In the reciprocation and interchange of opinions, as well as in the professions which they were called upon to make, they have also, most of them, become, either directly or indirectly, pledged to facilitate the progress of Reform in all its branches; and we have as yet heard of none who has managed to secure his return without making calculate upon

several steps in advance of the position which he formerly occupied. Even the Ministerialists, therefore, are no longer the Ministerialists of the last Parliament, but in some measure a new class, who, however reluctant to advance pari passu with the Movement, dare not lay very far behind it. The Standum super vias antiquas has been completely effaced from their banners, and Non progredi est regredi written in its stead. They must, therefore, go forward even in spite of themselves; and although their rate of advancement will naturally be as slow as possible, we trust to the impelling power behind to accelerate their progress. But our hopes of the future, and our anticipations of further improvement rest upon much surer grounds than these. The Ministerialists, strictly so considered, will not probably 'much exceed a third of the new House of Commons, the remainder of which will consist of Independents, Repealers, Radicals, Conformers or Trimmers, and Conservatives or Tories. Now, while the Government keeps faith with the people, remains true to the principles it has professed, and honestly devotes itself to the completion of the work of Reform, which, upon the whole, has been so auspiciously commenced, it


the united support of Independents, Repealers, Radicals, and perhaps a few Conformers, as well as Ministerialists: but let it once forfeit the confi. dence of the country, and its doom is sealed : for, to effect its destruction, and secure the benefit of the chances consequent thereupon, the Tories would willingly lend a hand to their mortal enemies, and rejoice in the opportunity of at once consummating their own vengeance, and the ruin of that government by which their power has been overthrown. The idea of a coalition between the Whigs and Conservatives is at once ridiculous and impossible. Men like Lord Althorp, Sir James Graham, and Mr. Stanley, may contemplate such an event, or even desire it as a sort of protection for their own half-way-house system of policy ; but the terms of such an alliance would involve, on the part of the Ministerialists, a perfidy so enormous, or on that of the Conservatives, an apostacy so suicidal, that lax as the morality of public men has become, it ought not to be regarded as a possible occurrence ; and, even, if our calculations were disappointed, a confederacy so monstrous would only end in the ruin of those who had enrolled themselves in its ranks. Let not our Whig Government therefore deceive themselves. They are powerful for good, but powerless for evil. They may distrust, or even dread the people, in whose might alone they have stood : that some of them actually do so, is very unequivocally avowed: but they dare not attempt to dissolve the fraternization which they themselves sought, and in the strength of which only they have been strong. The demands of the people are neither unreasonable nor dangerous; there is no Utopianism intermingled with their opinions and wishes. What they seek for is regeneration, not revolution; consolidation, not destruction ; freedom, without anarchy ; economy, without meanness or injustice; and the reform of all abuses without trenching on the security or stability of those principles on which the foundations of society rest. But when they ask for bread, they will not receive a stone ; and wo be to him who would thus try to mock or make sport of their just demands !

The native genius of W'higgery is presumptuous, aristocratical, and exclusive. It is allied to much that is admirable in principle, but it is ever prone, unless counteracted, to run riot in practice. It is a sort of mezzo termine between antagonist categories and castes; and where an option is allowed, it would rather full back upon “the order," than advance forward to the embraces of the people. This predisposing ten. dency or elective attraction it has recently evinced in no equivocal manner. Miscalculating its own strength, and mistaking for inherent power the might with which it has been armed by the people, it has begun to develope somewhat of its natural arrogance, and to evince a disposition to recede from the alliance with the nation at large. This has been significantly indicated by variety of circumstances; and by none more than the affected contempt so ostentatiously expressed for those who are called Radicals, but who ought simply to be denominated Reformers. The result of the elections, triumphant and satisfactory as it undoubtedly is, when viewed in a proper light, appears to be regarded by the Ministers and their immediate dependents as their own peculiar achievement; and they are unable to discern in it any thing but the firm establishment of the Whigs in power. They seem to think the party of the Government omnipotent, and, in the blindness of their exultation, to confound their multitudinous allies with the old coterie of partisans; while they crow, like so many chanticleers, over the fewness and feebleness of that sect of politicians to which alone they give the name of Radicals. But they should moderate their ovation, and pause a little to bethink themselves, how and by whom the victory has been achieved. What were the Whigs before they threw themselves upon the country? Nothing; his Majesty's Opposition; a mere congregation of talkers seated on the left hand of the chair in the House of Commons. What did they become when they made common cause with the people? Every thing; his Majesty's Ministers, the occupants of the Treasury benches, the dominant party in the state. What sustained them in office ? what rendered them more powerful than ever when momentarily forced to abandon the helm during the nundinal interregnum? and what, in spite of King, clique, coterie, and court, bore them back again in triumph to the lofty stations from which they had so recently before been driven, com. pelling the proud hereditary peerage of England to quail under their ascendancy ? The united support of a mighty people. Lastly, what has gotten them their “crowning mercy” in the elections, and prodigiously enlarged the foundations of their power, if justly and wisely exercised ? We answer once more, the support of the people, of Reformers in all parts of the country, of moderate Radicals; of men who are not Whigs, but who, for the sake of a great common cause, enlisted themselves for the time under the Whig banners. A few fanatical separatists, intoxicated with the first copious draught of political liberty, which seems to have fired their blood and maddened in their brain, ran wild in a momentary fit of excitement; but the sound and staid mind of the coun. try was in no degree disordered by the dose which wrought such effects on a few ardent and inflammable spirits; and it would be a prodigious error indeed to suppose that these honest but exalted enthusiasts are the only class who look to Reform as but the first step in the mighty march or progression of improvement. If Ministers, therefore, instead of exalting their horn, and laying the flattering unction to their souls that their own right hand has gotten them the victory; if, instead of this, they would analyze their own majorities, and compare the Whig party, as it mustered four years ago, with the noble army of Reformers who are for the present marshalled under their banners, they would arrive at useful conclusions, and learn some necessary lessons.

Upon the whole, it is not more certain that the course of nature will continue unchanged than that the progression of which we have spoken cannot be stopped. In a state of society where the general mind has been powerfully agitated, where the dominion of old prejudices has been subverted, where the free spirit has penetrated throughout the whole mass, (mens agitat molem,) and where all are instinct with the activity inspired by a new and redundant vitality, its coherence and its safety can alone be secured by means of those safety-valves which prevent the pressure on any part from becoming greater than its framework is able to withstand. And what, we would ask, are these but continual improvement and amelioration,-positive as well as negative, extensory as well as corrective, corroborative as well as remedial? It is madness and worse, therefore, to talk of an initial, and, in some sort, experimental measure, as final; or to pretend to disconnect the means from the end. This would be like arming a woodman with an axe, and sending him to the forest, with a positive prohibition, however, not to hew down a rotten tree, nor even to lop off a decayed branch. Reform in the representation is of no use or value whatsoever, except as an instrument for procuring other reforms; or, in other words, as the means of obtaining good and cheap government. This is the great end of all reform ; and it never can be compassed while the means are inadequate, or so long as the exercise of the elective franchise is liable to be perverted by corrupt and demoralizing influences. If we desire the stream to flow limpid and clear, we must commence by purifying the fountain. And this, as appears to us, can only be done by the ballot; against which some of our Whig ministers have conceived such mortal aversion, from no cause that we can imagine, but because they are not in their hearts friendly to the full, free, and unconstrained operation of the measure which, through their co-operation, has at length become law. They admit, indeed, as a general proposition, that the constituencies ought to be protected in the exercise of the franchise conferred upon them: they even grant that, in point of fact, the voters actually stand in need of protection ; but when a method is proposed for effecting this all-important object,-a method which the united experience of America and France has proved to be effectual,—they recoil horror-stricken, as if the head of Medusa, armed with all its terrors, had been exhibited to their view. Does this look like sincerity ? A great evil is allowed to exist; but we are told that we must not think of a remedy.—They will think better of the matter, however, when they come to face a Parliament,—the first Parliament chosen by the people ; and if they do what is right, we shall easily forget all the imprudencies they have said, and continue, as heretofore, to support them. Poulett Thomson's speech at Manchester promises well, and is honourable to him both as a statesman and an honest man. It is a fair, frank, full, and manly exposition of sentiment and opinion, meeting and refuting some of the extravagances on which we have touched, and giving good hope that sense and reason will regain their ascendancy in the Cabinet, when the heats produced by the elections have subsided, and when Ministers have time to survey calmly the position which they now occupy with relation to the country.


Second SERIES.*

It will go hard if the Irish do not beguile or flatter their fellow-subjects into some knowledge of Ireland at last. They had pleaded, argued, expostulated, yelled, shouted, clamoured, fought, burnt and slain, wept and sung to small purpose. Little was the permanent attention they were able to gain from the people of Great Britain, till the happy device was hit upon of throwing open the castle gates, and the cabin doors, and inviting the Scotch and English to enter, hear stories tragic and mirthful, and be amused. Of the many native writers of ability who have recently assumed this filial office for Ireland, and beneficial service to humanity, there is none who lets us more freely and completely into the heart of the land than the author of the Traits and Stories. He is every inch an Irishman, with the farther advantage of towering so far above his fellows, as to command a sweeping view of their peculiari. ties and distinctive national features. While his head is a cosmopolitan, his heart remains thoroughly and warmly Irish. To these qualifi. cations for his task, he adds a familiar and minute acquaintance with the daily on-goings of human life in his own country ; a vivid and piercing conception of character; a most sagacious apprehension of the ordinary complicated motives and the hidden springs of action in common minds; and a power of verisimilitude which is so remarkable, as often, by its intensity, to idealize his most homely realities. These gifts presuppose the playful natural humour, which forms so striking a trait of the Irish character, alternating with pathos and tenderness. And these our author possesses in no stinted degree, together with considerable descriptive power, and skill in delineating the sweet and varied play of the natural affections in humble life, and in untutored minds. This, in deed, forms the charm of his work. Nor with their vehement kindness, their impulsive generosity, their love of fun, frolic, and all manner of extravaganza, have the darker shades of the Irish character been neglected by him, though here his outline is less precise and definite, and his intermingling shadows are less adroitly managed. With all this, the present series of tales makes a huge stride a-head of its predecessor, though it is cumbered by the same heavinesses, and liable to the same objections. The writer has tried to hold a tight rein over his inborn antipathy to Catholicism ; but still it breaks forth, not ill-naturedly,—for his is not the rancorous, virulent hatred of an Orangeman, breathing blood and extermination,—but in such a'fixed and steady jealousy of the influence of the priesthood, and rational disapprobation of the genius of the Catholic faith, as in the times when the Roman was the wealthy and powerful State Church, might have done honour to an enlightened Protestant Re.. former, but is somewhat misdirected now, and carried the length of prejudice, tending to narrow-mindedness and undue alarm. It cannot be. said that the descriptions given are either libels or caricatures of the Catholic clergy and devotees; but the pictures the writer delights to present are either those of subjects naturally deformed, or of very ungainly specimens. Another great fault of this work is the extreme length,

* Wakeman, Dublin.

« 前へ次へ »