TOPICS OF THE DAY.
POPULAR LEADERSHIP, WITH REFERENCE TO LORD DURHAM.
THE bargain between Lord DURHAM and the Reformers, which has been proposed in Tait's Magazine, would be disgraceful to both
the contracting parties ; and absurd besides, because involving Lord Duirema's neutrality on the Corn-law question-that question Which promises more than any other to engage public attention during the ensuing session, and on which, as it happens, he is de- cidedly with the People. That particular scheme, therefore, de- serves no further notice except as matter for illustration.* But the principle (if so it may be termed) of such bargains is still an interesting subject. We return to it, according to promise. Recurring to expressions which we used last week, it seems quite plain that an indispensable condition of leadership, whether of the People or only of a party, and whether or not there were a contract between the leader and the followers or supporters, is " cmfidence founded on evidence of the fitting qualities." Without this, whatever else there may be, there can be no leading and fol-
lowing. One should as well expect a banker to be trusted with the money of others who had no belief in his wealth and prudence.
Assuming, therefore, the necessity of this condition, what object is to be served by any bargain ? The proposed leader cannot under- take to exert qualities which he does not possess ; still less can he
stipulate to possess a single quality which he has not already. As in the case of the banker and his customers, so in that of the statesman and the people, all possible contracts would not add a tittle to the qualities on the one hand, or confidence on the other, which must be the basis of their connexion. The very proposal of
a bargain, indeed, would imply want of confidence. If a contract were made, it could only be as a substitute for confidence. But confidence is so essential as not to admit of' any substitute. It follows, that any bargain of this sort would not merely be idle, but could only be founded on circumstances fatal to the object in view.
And it was just so in the case of Tait's proposal. That provosal of a bargain rests on such an estimate of Lord DURHAM'S qualities, as, if it had been correct, should have precluded the very thought of his becoming a leader. If the qualities to inspire confidence exist, why propose a bargain ?-if they do not exist, of what effect can a bargain be but to show their absence ? The banker who should contract to be careful of his customers' money, would soon be ruined by their distrust of his carefulness. The politician is in the same situation. If he is fit to lead, he will lead ; and any sti- pulation on the subject would only tend to defeat the common aim of both parties. The immediate object of the Reformers is like that of all men who suffer from disunion. They want power (not official power, but force) to accomplish their ultimate objects-to obtain the re- forms which they desire. They arc divided and scattered ; and they know that without union there is no hope for their cause. In one word, they want to be united, as in the bygone tune, when Reform was irresistible.
They perceive, too, that their disunion has arisen from the ab- sence of leaders. The members of the present Government were once the leaders in Reform ; and so long as they were trusted, the Reformers were an united body. The election of 1834 was remark- able for its display of union amongst Reformers. But, from the moment when some began to question Lord Memionarie's and Lord JOI1N RUSSELL'S sincerity, down to the present time when "the Reform Ministry" is a term used only in mockery, every succeed- ing month has witnessed inure and more disunion amongst Re- formers. The leaders deserted to the enemy ; and the army, de- prived of generals, has been split into many bands, which not only have no common object, but which, for want of a common object, have become more or less unfriendly to each other. The Reformers are a host, but scattered and powerless. They are naturally eager, therefore, to obtain a general who should unite them as before. It is the anxious desire for union and discipline, and a just con- viction that these are unattainable without trusted leaders that have made Tait and others so eager to "come to terms" with Lord DuanAm. If he had never written the 13owurr Letter, they would have hailed him now as their deliverer from the troubles of disunion, and would have unhesitatingly "declared," as Mr. O'CONNELL says, their "political allegiance to the Earl of DURHAM." Their hesitation their wish to stipulate for conditions, their hurry to learn "what Lord DURHAM will do for them,"-all this' however erroneous the form in which their anxiety appears, shows how very anxious they are to find a leader capable of performing the leader's part in this hour of division and weakness. Their sentiment is that of all reflecting and sincere Reformers. What arc the qualities which fit an individual to lead-that is, to unite, encourage, and direct the now scattered and disorganized bands of Reform ? No one man, perhaps, ever possessed the whole of the qualities that would come under this description. Still less should we find them combined in any man of the present day, when greatness seems to have departed from the earth. It would be well in these times, if half-a-dozen men should contri- bute to a fund of qualities for the country's service, something like the disinterestedness of Aiinnew MARVEL, the political learning of BURKE, the sagacity, self-reliance, and strong will of the elder • We are assured by correspondents in Scotland, that the offensivvemAia manner Tait's it's article has produced a Ilivourable feeling towards Lord Drni quarters where it did not exist before. PITT, the if opular powers of young Buiturrr, the charming gifts of CANNMG, and the grand debater's character in BROUGHAM. It would be idle, therefore, to collect the desirable qualities, and aT4ly them as a test to the character of any individual. What can this or that man contribute ?—this is the only question. At the present time, which exhibits so much loss of character on the Liberal ranks, it is essential that the person to be I regarded as leader should have been a consistent politician. This Lord Maxim has been from his youth upwards, with the excep- tion only of the Boweny Letter ; in which—it is for us, who have . always condemned it, to admit—he gave up no principle and ex- . pressed no change of opinion upon measures, but confined himself to questions. of expediency as to time and mode ; and which was 'written, moreover, when he was liable to have been easily misled as to the state oiparties and of the public feeling in this country. The most unfavourable construction that can be put upon the BOWLBY Letter, is that it showed a disposition to court the Queen rather than to serve the People : the most favourable, that its author, ignorant of the actual state of affairs, believed that he could best serve the People by courting the new Sovereign and support- ing her " Reffirm Ministry." If we are to decide by reference to Lord DURHAM'S course down to the date of that letter, we shall give it the most favourable construction. What public man has been so consistent for so many years in the pursuit of popular objects? There is none to be compared with him in this respect. If he is unworthy of trust on account of inconsistency, nobody is to he trusted.
Lord DURHAM possesses a practical rather than a speculative turn of mind. Theorizers, inquirers after general truths, are highly valu- able in their proper place; but they are thoroughly out of place as leaders in action. Even in such council as relates to action, they ; are, to use an expression of our friend Tait, " more a hindrance than ' a help." And nearly all council, such as a political leader engages I in or directs, relates not only to action, but to immediate action. If 4 the man of action sometimes decides wrong because too quickly, the man of speculation is apt to decide worse because too late for the occasion. Boldness, decision of character, energy, promptitude- , . these are qualities denied to most philosophers, but, when allied $ with sagacity and prudence, are of the highest value in a political 1 chief: indeed, they are indispensable to the man who would • now play the part that some mark out for Lord DURHAM. It may bespeak a fitness for leadership in the present times, •4 rather than its negation, that certain of the most "philosophical 3 Radicals" have little or no sympathy with him, but would prefer a , leader whose character of mind was more in unison with their own.
• , Nor should it be forgotten, that others of that class—those who agree with the London Review—speculate upon Lord DURHAM'S
• . , unspeculativc or practical qualities as his chief recommendation for the part of leader. Their philosophy has taught them to value qualities which they do not themselves possess.
In this most aristocratic country—and with society so constituted that its very existence depends on the maintenance of order and commercial credit—rank and fortune, if not essential, are of great advantage to a popular leader; and his possession of them must be advantageous to the 'popular cause. The rich, however well-dis- posed to Reform, are always more or less uneasy about their pro: perty; and it is not necessary to be rich in order to believe that any thing like anarchy would produce terrible calamities to all classes. "Fear of the consequences," therefore, indisposes many to all change; and when they support Progressive Reform, it is through a stronger fear of the consequences of resisting all change. These timid Refortners (and they are both numerous and very in- fluential) judge, like most men, of others by themselves. They are satisfied, as well they may be, that a man of rank and fortune would never wilfully promote measures calculated to endanger property; and they will follow such a man, if they have any faith in his judgment, in a course of reform sufficiently progressive to avert the danger to property which is occasioned by resistance to all change, when they would not stir a step along with one who possessed neither rank nor fortune. In this respect Lord DURHAM is highly qualified as a Reform leader. His position as the repre- sentative of an ancient family, as a peer supposed to set no little store by his peerage, as connected with other old nullifies of high rank, and as the possessor of great wealth, would procure him ; many supporters as a Reformer, who would withhold their aid from such a poor plebeian as even the gifted CANNING, or such a pensioned peer as ex-Chancellor BROUGHAM."' And here we may remark, that Lord DURHAM'S known affection to the Monarchy would rather help than hinder him as a Reform leader in this .4 country ; where, notwithstanding the obvious desire of the People o obtain responsible government by means of real representation,— which means Democracy,—Republicanism has no advocates, and there are few who would not defend the Throne, either from un- 44.71 reasoning attachment to it, or for good reasons which it would be easy to state. His own position, however, is the more important point. "Where can his equal be found, as a man of affairs and enlarged politics, in his class?" This we deliberately said in April
'last—that is, not before, but after the BOWLBY Letter.
. At this time and in this country, no man could be a popular , leader who had not kindly feelings towards the common people. We *If anybody has earned a pension, Lord BROUGHAM has. We refer to his yptoperty, not as having been unworthily bestowed, but to mark the respect 7vrluch, whether reasonably or from prejudice, is given to the owner of here- ' "'Mary acres. There are many in this country who think the Duke of NEW-. 'CASTLE more likely to be conservative of "property" than even the Duke of WELLINGTON. have heard Lord DURHAM almost reproached—and by Reformers too—with having " no fear" of the populace. Reporters of his con- versation say, that he talks of the working classes as always meaning well, and as being misled when they seem to mean evil. • He is said to preach this doctrine with respect to the now irritated masses—that the fault is with Reformers of the higher classes, who have neglected them since they helped to carry the Reform Bill; that their disappointment at the results of that measure is not surprising ; that the designs of their flatterers, who would incite them to violence, may be easily frustrated by treating them with kindness and confidence, and by reasoning with them frankly and fearlessly in opposition to their present impracticable schemes ; and above all, that it is the first duty of the Legislature to care for their wellbeing, and to qualify them as soon as possible for the enjoyment of the elective franchise. We cannot assert positively that our information is correct ; but all this is strictly in accord- ance with Lord DURHAM'S proceedings at Glasgow in 1834. If by these, or any other mums, he should know how to allay the storm which has been raised by Lord MELBOURNE'S utter indif- ference to the happiness of the millions, he would indeed deserve the support of all Reformers. Apropos of economical questions, in which the working classes are so deeply interested : Lord DURHAM has recently joined in the cry of " Ships, Colonies, and Commerce." We conclude that he means thereby—what we have ever meant when using those words— pod government for the Colonies, and the removal of all restric- tions on trade, including the Corn-laws. There are some who flatter themselves that he meant to speak favourably of our present Colonial system of bounties, monopolies, and misrule. They will be wofully disappointed, we venture to opine. But it is highly de- sirable for Lord DURHAM'S sake, that frIl doubt on the subject should be speedily removed. A deliberate policy of which the effect should be to extend the colonial and commercial fields of employ- ment for capital and labour, would do more to pacify the working classes than even the kindest manner towards them, or a thousand arguments. Lord Mnr,uouaNE seems to have no policy but to conciliate the Tories and stick close to the Queen ; Lord Jonx Itrsstml. tells us that his policy is to give "preponderance to the Landed Interest ;" and the Tory leaders must concur with him. If Lord Dun IIAM should set against theirs the policy which we have indicated, then might Mr. TA IT safely exclaim, his "day has conic." It must not be forgotten, however, that Lord DURHAM'S reputa- tion, as a statesman generally, is now upon its trial. His career in Canada, though very short, must have given many opportunities of reforming practical abuses. Did he seize, or did he neglect them ? We shall soon know ; and shall thus learn whether he possesses another quality which is essential to the character of a popular leader now-a-days—the inclination and the capacity for practical reforms. He has promised " a representation of facts wholly unknown here, and disclosures of which the Parliament and the People of this country have no conception." Until these shall be made, no "rational" " Reformer, nor any one who loves justice, will
form a final opinion as to Lord Pianist's conduct of his Canadian mission. We will wait patiently, and even hope for the best. But one remark suggests itself at present. The " dis- closures" are said to relate in part to abuses of government hitherto concealed. However great those abuses and unsparing the exposure of them, that exposure, though much good may come of it, will not serve Lord DuattAm's reputation unless the public learn that he intended to make the exposure befiwe his career was in- terrupted. If it should only appear that his virtuous indignation at abuses arose after he had been thwarted by the proceedings here, he might as well, or had even better, with a view to his own character, say nothing about them. This point must be narrowly watched.
And it is not Lord DURHAM'S reputation, as affected by the Canadian case, that is alone upon its trial. His fitness to act as a popular leader is on the point of being tried by a severer test than any estimate of ours. The opportunity has never occurred before. It now invites him, not to declare in words, as Tait and others pro- pose, but to show by deeds that he has the capacity fur action. We speak not of invitation by persons or bodies, but of the inviting state of the public mind and of public affairs. Never was there a finer opportunity of making a great and powerful party. Ile who makes such a party will lead it. Lord DURHAM, by his proceedings in Scotland in 1834, actually made a party. He declined leading it then ; and it has broken up during his absence flxnn the country. Can he restore it, as lie made it, not by treating with any one or with many, but by well-calculated, self-relying, and vigorous action ?
If—but enough of ifv, in which we have dealt so largely that this might be termed a hypothetical view of Lord DURHAM'S posi- tion and character with reference to popular leadership. The manner has resulted from caution dictated by experience. Our " harping," as the Globe terms it, " on the, DURHAM policy," has taught us a lesson which will not be soon forgotten. And the MELBOURNE practice has RO damaged the character of all Liberals, that we should be shy of giving any but "qualified and condieional" support, even to one apparently better suited than Lord DURHAM to lead the Rdformers, if such a person were in existence.