TOPICS OF THE DAY.
LOGIC OF THE ANTI-REFORM LORDS.
Lonn ELLENBOROUGH, who, with peculiar fitness, moved the re- jection of the Reform Bill on the present occasion, says there are five classes of the community for the Bill,—lst, The Whig Aristo- cracy; 2nd, The Reformers par excellence; 3d, The Roman Catho- lics; 4th, The poorer classes ; 5th, A large number of respectable people, with whom he is willing to reason. Why to reason with these P—Because they have changed their opinions; e. g. in Dorset- shire,where, it appears, Mr.PoRrmAN dares no longer appeal to them. The respectable persons then are, we presume, the squatters, under favour of whose rights of free common Lord ASHLEY made good his election.
The value of Schedule A, in introducing the mighty men of old, was strongly insisted on by Sir ROBERT PEEL, in March last year; Lord ELLENBOROUGH takes up the argument in their favour from their present, not their past working. Lord LOWTHER sits in Parliament for a rotten borough; he had always previous to this session sat for a county—who are the other great men? The leaders of the historians and poets, Lord MAHON and Lord PORC HESTER ; and the leaders of all that happen to come be- hind them, Lord STORMONT and Mr. STUART WORTLEY. Then there are Sir COLQUHOUN GRANT, Sir E. KERRISON, Sir W. PRINGLE, and the "solid-jawed knight," Sir HENRY HARDINGE, Mr. ATTWOOD, Mr. SADLER, Sir JAMES SCARLETT, Sir EDWARD SUGDEN, Mr. CRAMPTON, Sir CHARLES WETHERELL, Sir J. NICHOLL, Dr. LUSHINGTON, Mr. PEMBERTON, Mr. MACATT,LAY. These are the other great men whom the Borough system upholds. Now, bating Mr. MICAITLAY, Dr. LusiiiNGraN, and Sir HENRY HAnniNGE-(perhaps), there is not one of this wonderful list that the tame Elephant himself may not hope to outlive. What are their respective claims to immortality? Sir JAMES SCARLETT may perhaps be remembered as long as the Morning Journal is not for- gotten ; Sir CHARLES WETHERELL may exist in the topographical history of Bristol ; it is just possible that Mr. SADLER 'S theory may form a ten-line foot-note in future editions of MALTHUS. Of the rest, why should we speak ?—are there twenty of our readers who ever met their names, save in the Parliamentary debates? are there ten who ever read more than their names there ?
But the present system is as excellent in the whole as in its de- tails. The examples are recent. We owe to it, inter alia, the Ca- tholic Bill—the repeal of the Prohibitory Laws—the Small Note Bill. The unfortunate thing is, that these great measures, in- stead of being promoted by the ELLENBOROUGH luminaries of the House, were most strenuously opposed by them. Where would these measures have been, had all the members been as discreet as Sir CHARLES WETHERELL, or as logical as Mr. SADLER Of Leeds, or as gentle as Mr. ArrwoOn ? Lord ELLENBOROUGH objects to the qualification, because it will exclude the poor. But, according to his statement, the whole of the poor are for the Bill. In sespect of the poor, therefore, the objection is useless; as an argument against the Bill, it is worse, for the less the Bill effects, the better must it be in the eyes of Lord ELLENBOROUGH.
He objects to the qualification, because it will exclude the middle classes. It will, it seems, take in none but those who are between the middle classes and the poor ; a new division, made for the nonce. And it appears that between this lower than the middle and the very poor, there is a constant warfare, because they are most intimately connected. Nobody cares about the poor, but those who know nothing about them, and are not connected with them at all! Hence the numerous tender mercies of stocks, treadmills, fines, whippings, to say nothing of the thousands of laws with which they are from time to time favoured, by clergy- men, magistrates, squires, lords, and others who form the stomach and mouth of the body politic. Then, it seems, the Church must fall, if the Bill pass, for it has no support in the middle at all. It leans entirely on the poor at the one end, and the rich at the other. This leads to another de- fect of the Bill—it gives all the power of the kingdom to the Dis- senters. The middle classes are all Dissenters. The Scotch members returned in future may be all Presbyterians. Lord ELLENBOROUGH says there are but few Presbyterians under the present system. Not above forty, we believe. And the Irish members will all be Catholics. And between the triple assault of Dissenters, Presbyterians, and Catholics, what is to become of Episcopacy ? The only hope we can perceive is in the disputes of its enemies—they don't agree very well in general. The danger of Presbytery, we must observe, is no new one—it was zealously put forward in the year 1707. The next danger of Reform is, that we shall not be able to get up a decent Opposition. How can 10/. voters get one up? It is a common observation, indeed, that talent is not rare—that every tenth man you meet is possessed of it. But Lord ELLENBOROUGH has been unfortunate in his rambles—he does not meet a clever man in a thousand. But then, all talent is comparative. The se- cret why Lord- ELLENBOROUGH meets so few men of talent, lies in the fact that his own talent is so great. A man like him, whose horn has been so greatly exalted, must not look for an equal in every street.
There is another danger to be apprehended—the Septennial Act May be repealed ; or, lithe Parliament will not repeal it, electors May- exact, from members a promise to resign- at theend of three years. This is a possible danger, no doubt. As the Septennial Act was passed by a Parliament chosen for three years, for the express purpose of repressing the popular will, a Parliament chosen for seven years may reenact the Triennial Act, in order ta tt5°Taffy the popular will. So much for Baron ELLENBOROUGH.
He was seconded, with a modesty equal to his own, by a Church- man, the Bishop of DURII.Alf. Of this Bishop's arguments, the closing one only deserves notice. If on the Bill being passed the Ministry can 'protect those that now oppose it, the Bishop thinks a sufficient answer will be given to those who say that the mu is indispensable. We are quite willing to receive this answer at its proper time. Let the Bill be passed forthwith' and then, if Apsley- House remain unattacked, and Dr. VAN MILDERT con- tinue in possession of his 18,000/. a year, we shall admit without hesitation that he is the most conclusive arguer in Christendom. Earl BATHURST stated an objection to the 10/. qualification clause, which is irrefmgable—it was objected to by the inhabitants- of Leeds on the question of disfranchising Grampound, and it was. objected to by an inhabitant of Manchester on the question of dis- franchising Penryn. The Earl of WICKLOW'S argument for rejecting the Bill is in- genious. The rejection of the last Bill led to the formation of this; this is a better Bill than the last ; ergo the rejection of this will lead to the framing of a better still. Of course, a third rejection will produce a fourth which excels the other three; and so on toties quoties.
The Marquis of LONDONDERRY proved, by a speech of Mr. Fox in 1771, that the people in 1332 know nothing of their own interest. But wf, must pass over the rest of the small deer, in order to arrive at the speech of the Great Captain.
The Duke of WELLINGTON'S first argument against the Bill is, that it has been passed by a House of Delegates. In order to get the question deliberately discussed, the people must consent to reject all the new members, and take back the old ones. But, as the old ones had discussed it before, we cannot see what advantage there would be in their discussing it again.
"No one has proved it to be practicable to go on without Schedule A."—This is true; nor do we see how any one can, unless by giving the Bill a trial.
"The institutions of the country are not to be risked because the House of Commons is in an unfit state to deliberate."—Of course, whenever the House of Commons differs from the House of Lords, it is in an unfit state to deliberate.
"The unfitness is temporary, and may be got rid of at once by the Ministry."—The Ministry, for instance, and all their friends, have only to turn round and vote against Reform ; and then the House of Commons will reassume its deliberative functions.
"From 1829 to 1831, there were no Reformers in the country."— There was an Anti-Reform paralysis during that period. The question was buried, as the Duke wished that of Catholic Emanci- pation to be, for the purpose of being properly considered, by vir- tue of the adage de mortuis nil nisi verum.
"Parliamentary Reform began with the French Revolution."— On the 16th July, a Parliamentary Reform Association was formed at the Crown and Anchor, with a special view to the approaching elec- tions. Between that day and the 27th, when Mr. BROUGHAM made his well-known speech at Leeds, nearly every election contest in Great Britain was arranged, and many of the returns were ac- tually made. On the 26th, Sir FRANCIS BURDETT met the Birmingham Union, by special invitation, on the subject of Reform. The news of the French resistance to the Ordonnances did not reach London until the 31st, and its success was not known until the 2d August. The King, according to the Duke, takes no interest in the Bill. This announcement, we rather think, is no more than a small truism. What the Duke means is, that as the King only acts as he is constitutionally advised, he is not to be supposed to feel any more inclination to one line of action than to another, unless as ad- vised. If his Grace meant that the private sentiments of the King were not in unison with his Ministers' when he encouraged them to introduce so important a measure as the Reform Bill, or that he cared nothing about what measures they introduced, it is clear that a more impudent libel on the understanding and feelings of Ma- jesty never was uttered; for the only inference it admitted would be, either that he was the worst of hypocrites or the silliest of men.
"The whole of the landed proprietors, especially in the South, are against the Bill."—This objection comes of a bad memory, the same that produced the French Revolution argument. The whole of the Southern counties elected Reform members, and this after the principle and particulars of the Bill were fully known. "The learning and the wealth are also opposed to the Bill."--i. e. Oxford and Cambridge and Mr. ALEXANDER BARING are against it. Mr. ROTHSCHILD has not declared himself.
"The greater part of the middle classes are apprehensive of its results."—This requires no comment, especially as the fact is un- disputed. "It is difficult to do any thing in Committee ; e. g. the Lords sat three hours on Dr. HOWLEY'S bill, and could make nothing of - it."—Had they sat for three years, they would have not made more. Ex nihilo nail fit. "The Bill will attack property in every shape that it presents itself in."—In no shape more furiously than that of plate glass; e.g. Apsley House. "If the Lords reject the Bill, Government"—that is, the ml-- nority—" will be responsible for the consequencesf "The Bill revolutionizes Scotland, and destroys in Ireland all the virtues of the Emancipation Bill." The commentary on this passage made by Dr. PRILLeorrs was, that the Bill would give power to the Catholics,—which it was of course not the design of the Emancipation Bill to do.
"The Bill must lead to revolution, and destroy all property de- pending on prescription ; for it puts an end to boroughs, some of which are established by charter, some by prescription."
"It will give the entire representation of the country to the Unions in small towns, and in large towns to every man who pays 6d. or 7d. per night for his bed."—No; ; 6-id. is the precise sum; and if the qualification were raised to 20/., it would be I3d.
"It will make the House of Peers much more influential than they are at present, unless where there are demagogues."—With these, no Peer can compete. He cannot afford to bribe them down, and he cannot speak them down. Thus the future members will be returned by the Unions-6d. a night lodgers—Peers—dema- gogues; a variety of constituency, by the by, very much resembling the present.
Then again, when the members are elected, "they will not be members of all England,"—like Mr. DUPRE ALEXANDER or Lord MAW ON. They will all represent some particular place. And when all the parts only of England are represented, what is to be- -collie of the whole?
" The influence of the Crown has been enormously diminished . since the war, by the abolition of numerous offices, and the altera- tion of the Customs and Excise Boards !"—Think of that : after the alteration of the Customs and Excise Boards, why call for al- Aeration in the House of Commons?
"All Reform ought to be: gradual.", We have not had tide to ,try the Emancipation Act—why proceed to another reform ? If we, would preserve the venerable institutions of the country, we sought to avoid hurry. Time is in no haste with Gatton—why should Lords be? He has taken two hundred years to form its green mounds—should not they take two score to pull them down?
"Does the present stagnation of trade arise from a fear of the Bill's passing or not passing ? "—This is an important inquiry. The Duke says, from the moment the Bill was mooted, "there was an ardent indisposition to risk money on speculation." The Bill makes even negation intensive. This ardent indisposition is the cause of all the stagnation. Only let trade once more begin, and there will be an end, to stagnation of trade.
"Reform must greatly add to the distresses of the country. France has been obliged to augment her expenditure, and to keep up,larger armies:since her Revolution than before. In England, similarly, the Civil Government will not be so powerful under the Reform Bill, and must therefore keep greater annies."—Will not those who weaken the Civil Government have to pay the soldiers by which it is to be strengthened? This will probably check the increase a little.
"The riots at Bristol were put dowii by 90 men; those at Lyons required 40,000."--Ergo, if the Reform Bill had passed, the Bristol riots would have required 20,000 at least. Hactenus hem.
Such is the logic of the Captain—the man to whom, in the event of the present Minister going out, the government of this enlightened country is to be assigned! We extenuate nothing, and set nothing down in malice ; and we say coolly and seriously, that he who can wade through such a mass of twaddle, in which false facts and childish inferences seem to vie for preeminence,— where an old woman's fancies are dressed up in worse than an old woman's language,—and can then say that this is the man to whose guidance ought to be given over—truly given over—the affairs of. a powerful and intelligent nation,—of such a judge we little envy the sagacity. The Duke of WELLINGTON has fought great battles, and let his praise as a general be ever green—but to . speak of such a man as a statesman!
Passing from the Great Duke, let us devote one word to the Big Duke. The man of war was prosy, the man of weight was poetical. The one quoted Cioa.ea on the Bill, and buried him- self in figures of Irish arithmetic; the other quoted SHAKSPEARE :upon Witchcraft, and buried himself in figures of Irish rhetoric. There is a bird called a booby, a very large bird with a very small head : its mode of concealing itself is to thrust its little head into . a bush, and by that means it deems its huge body sufficiently hidden. The Duke of BUCKINGHAM has a nice little bill of his :own, to meet the demand for Reform Bills, which are rising in the ;market. By this bill, he proposes to unite Old Sarum to Gatton, Midshall to Newton ; and proceeding in this way through Sche- dule A, and grouping the nomination boroughs after the fashion TropOsed by Sir ANDREW AGNEW, to procure eight or ten mem- bers whom he will bestow on Birmingham and Manchester, and a :few more towns, taking special care that the qualification shall be . high enough. The object, and the only object of this bill, is to i give to some half a dozen of Lords the argument which would otherwise be denied them, of saying, that in voting against the Reform Bill, they did not vote against Reform. . The Duke, how- ever, with his head in the bush all the while, talks quite _solemnly .on the subject of his bill, and supposes in his simplicity 'that the -trick is undiscoverable. The best of the joke is, that the bill is to ..be introduced-in-the House of Commons !
The reason assigned by the Duke of BUCKINGHAM for opposing -the Bill, is his determination not to join in any measure that takes :away a vote from any man. His own plan of clubbing boroughs indeed leaves every man his vote—it only neutralizes it. Of
course he cannot consistently ohjeet to any ereation of Peers, for no creation will take away his vote—it will only neutralize it.
He was singularly witty, as such very big men commonly are when poverty is the subject of their sarcasm, on the electors of Westminster. They are, it seems, a very ragged set; it would not be safe for Sir JOHN HOBHOUSE to neglect a beggar in the Strand, lest he should offend a constituent.
The big Duke ardently hopes the spirit of Republicanism will be laid in the Red Sea. The Red Sea has been the resting- place of more things than uneasy spirits. There was a proud oppressor, and his captains and chariots, once swallowed up there. He was pursuing a set of very poor people, led by one who was a decided Reformer—nay, what is more, a decided Repub- lican.