NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IN less than a week we have got half through the work of the
general election. .
It is only on rare occasions—as when Fox's Martyrs" were scattered to the four winds or when. a Reform Bill is depending— that a general election materially alters the character of the House of Commons. The bulk of its Members are what may be called, in a sense somewhat differing from that in whichthe words are used by Mr. Emerson, "representative men-"—men who almost pas- sively-receive their opinions and impulses to action from the so- ciety of which they form a part. Of this numerous class every one so closely resembles every other, that an extensive change of indivisluals may take place without in the slightestdegree affect- ing the conduct of the aggregate body. But on the present occasion the changes, even in the persons of the comparatively few self-thinking and self-acting Members, are not such as to modify to any considerable extent the character of the House of Commons. There have been changes for the worse, in the defeat of the clear and. lucid statist -Mr. Cardwell—the, pig-um-it and often instructive epigrammatist Colonel Thompson— the intelligent and accomplished gentlemen Lord Mahon and Mr. Roundel]. Palmer—the brilliant and somewhat eccentric Mr. Smythe.. It may also be admitted that the loss of. the acute and active Mr. Waklev, or that occasional maker of telling set speeches Mr. Fox, is to be regretted. Some changes—slid]: as- the substitution of un- tried men for worn-out men, as in Westminster and Lambeth—may be for the better. Such a change as-the dismissal of the Member for Delhi by the Tower Hamlets electors is an unquestionable relief:- and although it would be most:unjust • to place Sir John homily in the same category, it cannot be denied that in return- ing the Master of the Rolls to his proper court, the Devonport electors have judiciously enforced the principle which it cost Lord Brougham such effort to establish—that judges ought not to have seats in the representative assembly : On the whole, however— though there is a balance of gain and hiss—it is to be feared that the few changes wrought in the composition of. the House of Com- mons by the general election have a tendency to lower its intel- lectual standard and vulgarize its tone. Yet there will still survive in the new House a fair proportion of the best spirits of the old. Lord Palmerston has been re- elected for Tiverton without a contest; and. in the exuberance of joy at such good luck, has treated his "-constituents to a speech— or speeches—so sparkling, so polished, so easy, so evidently impro- vised, suggested by the events and objects of the moment, as no other constituency has been indulged with at these elections. Sir James Graham is accredited to a farther period of public service by the men of merry Carlisle : there has been hard hitting in his electioneering addresses, but they want- the graceful_ play of con- scious power, the fascinating engouement -of Lord Pihnerston's. Lord John Russell, too, has secured his seat for the City, with speeches soft and dulcet as milk, though like milk apt to turn acid. Sir William Molesworth has blended philosophy with poli- tics for his Southwark friends, one half of whom may understand, while the other have faith in him. "Slashing Tom Duncombe ' still retains the love of Finsbury. The nun of Sheffield have sent Mr. Roebuck back to tell pungent truths to his fellows in the Legislature, be they delighted or be they displeased to hear them. Some new names, of which a good report may be expected here- after, appear among the returns. Mr. Layard has finally relin- quished the digging up of Assyrian bulls at Nineveh, to encounter the bore of Irish bulls at Westminster : -he aspires to exercise over his countrymen that mesmeric power of an indomitable will and unvarying good temper which exercised such a magic sway over
Arabs and Chaldeans. Lord Goderich, a Komising young noble- . man, of generous sympathies with the common people, has been chosen by the town of Andrew Marvel.
So far as the elections have gone, the largest share of the losses has fallen to the lot of the Parliamentary Peelites. This has in part, perhaps, been owing to their opposition to the Eccle- siastical Titles Bill having rendered them more conspicuous marks for the resuscitated No-Popery fanaticism. But there is a deeper and more enduring cause of their weakness in the constituencies. The Parliamentary Peelites monopolize nearly all the intelligence of the old Conservative party, (for Lord Derby, Mr. Disraeli, and even Lord George Bentinok, have been aliens adopted by the Conservative residuaries to supply their own deficiency of intellect) ; but in quitting the old camp, they have in a great measure been obliged to leave their impedimenta—the bulk of the influences derived from property and local position—behind them. Those more material elements of the party's power have remained like dregs at the bottom of a re- tort when the spirit has been drawn off. To a considerable extent the Peelites are obliged to rely solely upon their personal claims. This position is new to them : they have not yet acquired the trick of popularity ; they are inexpert at catching the populace by adopting its tone and sentiments, and they are:less able to impose upon it by their position and alliances. Added to this, the unpro- gressive Conservatives hate them with all the hatred of old friends converted into enemies ; while the Whigs are jealous of them as possible rivals. Thus circumstanced, it is not surprising to see the Peelites defeated in miscellaneous constituencies, where noisy vul- garity often shoulders and sets aside true intellect : but will a con- stituency composed of the elite of the well-born and well-educated of England show itself subservient to the same low influences? The few rather striking successes of the Derbyites do not demon- strate even local revulsions of sentiment or change of opinions. Two Ministerialists have defeated Mr. Cardwell and Mr. Ewart at Liverpool ; but Liverpoorwas only wrested from the Tories at last election, and that merely by a Peelite (the full amount of Liberal- ism indicated by that designation being then imperfectly estimated) and a very tame Whig. Liverpool has scarcely retrograded it has only subsided into its normal condition. Few constituencies could be more dangerous for a man recently divorced from the external and adventitious supports of party connexion. Mr. Masterman's position on the poll in London is a tribute to his personality. The diminution in the number of votes received by his three colleagues can be accounted for by the votes subtracted from them by Mr. Crawford, whose supporters opened a masked battery on them at the last moment.
It is too soon to count heads : there appears little likelihood, however, that Ministers will obtain a majority, and anything short of that is defeat for them.