13 MAY 1848, Page 14


"To make a dike is a great plot of state," in Holland ; but in this country, it seems, the great officers of state turn their atten- tion to the making of dresses; and Parliament is constitutionally called upon to discuss "the fashions for May." The Lord Chamberlain has -been detected in a manoeuvre for the encourage- ment of British manufactures ; unmindful that we have entered a Free-trade sera. He issued an order expressing the wish of the Queen, that all the ladies who present themselves at the Drawingroom should appear in dresses of British manufacture; and Lord George Bentinck hails Queen Victoria as taking the lead in a Protectionist reaction. Lord John Russell sees nothing in the order—nothing incompatible in this exclusive encourage- ment of native industry with his own abolition of protection : a blindness which only proves the remarkable independence of Lord John's mind from logical compulsion.

But who will rescue our gracious Sovereign from her uneasy and not dignified position in the midst of these distracted councils ! Formerly it was the set duty of the Crown to protect native indus- try ; and one can imagine the sacrifices that were made to that end. Next, the Royal conscience was instructed to abhor protection and be solicitous about free trade : the affections were to be trans- ferred, at the order of a Cabinet Council, from Derby silk to Ly- ons, from Nottingham lace to Valenciennes—perhaps not a very odious transfer. The regime of free trade is established, the importation of foreign dresses is decreed, the plans of royal dress- making are laid out over the whole face of Europe : but suddenly they are arrested by that hereditary Minister and Protectionist Lord Willoughby de Eresby ; who advises -her Majesty, that in the department over which he presides protection still prevails; and the Royal dressmaking is again sent to Bethnal Green. This is very distracting; and we do think her Majesty's servants- bound to arrange once for all what are to be the Royal convictiorts and gracious wishes upon the matter. At present there is danger that the Sovereign will continue to be graciously pleased to wish what Lord John and his Free-trade colleagues pronounce to be destructive of this great commercial country, and at the same time graciously to commend what Lord Willoughby regards as equivalent to wholesale murder.

If the Court is to be British, let it be so altogether. If the object of court pageants is to set the unemployed to work—if "drawingrooms " are auxiliary to the parish workhouse—let them perform that office effectually. There is no plea for Derby which may not be urged for Birmingham ; British lace does not yield employment more than "British plate " : the gentlemen should forthwith have sword-hilts and buckles " [equal to] silver"; the ladies should blaze as bright as they might with Bristol due- monde ; the regal and loyal cellars should be redolent of none bat British wines, none bet British brandies be known to British but- lers. Every article may be found in its " British " eqtrivalent ; for which see the newspaper advertisements, passim.

The Court has long been an old-curiosity-shop of antiquated British customs : the " Champion " of its Coronation is a living relic, of which other museums contain onlythe dead bodies; the Beefeaters are the remnant of the good old days "when ungisty roast beef was an Englishman's food "; and every state ceremony revives some habit of the past : let the Court now collect and im- mortalize specimens of the fading Protection, and be the repository of all those products of "native industry" and " native talent" which are "British." Splendour, luxury, and enjoyment might suffer ; but to satisfy one's conscience is always pleasure, and we know that the sole object which the votaries of Court gayeties have in view is the welfare of the poor.