LORD DURHAM'S POLITICA.L CAREER AND CHARACTER.
Tills sketch of the Public Life of Lord DURHAM consists of a very brief notice of his early years, and of a collection of his principal
speeches, strung together by observations explanatory of the oc- casions on which they were delivered. The connectiug comments are meagre ; the speeches, where no more authentic copy is extant, are taken from Hansards Debates and the Mirror of' Parliament. The merit of the compilation is therefore slight enough ; that of the compiler lies in the aptness with which he has timed the pub- lication of his volume. At a period when statesmen of honesty, in- telligence, consistency, and courage, are scarce—and with the pros- pect of a period when such qualities will be more than ever required —a book that professes to furnish a test by which we may form a judgment of a man to whom the public voice has assigned these qualities, cannot fail to be useful and valuable
Though the Sketch has little if any literary pretension, it pos- sesses a very considerable interest ; for it gives, in a convenient compass and in a readable shape, a reflection of the more striking points of many matters. In the first place, it suggests some Tory reminiscences. We see the party in their triumph at the close of the war,—insolent, profuse, and tyrannical; banding with Con- tinental despots to suppress freedom; handing over nations to new governors, with less care and less consideration than they would dispose of far fewer sheep. This was Toryism on the great scale: in its minutioo it was distinguished by the profligacy of its jobs for the convenient management of its affairs,—as in the case of the Lisbon-Canning matter. Next we see their desperate struggles to maintain power,—stifling the expression of opinion putting down complaints and remonstrances • working upon the smothered indignation their conduct had created, to excite, by hired spies and betrayers, crackbrained projects of what their man OLIVER in his hortatives called " physical force," and their imprisoning, banishing, executing, or dragooning the ignorant victims of their seductions. Yet a little while, and their " Algerine" submission in the matter of the Queen to the lustful will of their Master tuna up : and whatever excuses may be found for the personal hatred of the husband, they cannot be pleaded for the " sycophants" who un- dertook the cause, with a knowledge of its impropriety, in order to preserve their places, and conducted it throughout with the meanness of an eavesdropper, the low craft of a pettifogger's clerk, and a disregard to public decency of which. Mistress Cole would have been ashamed. The successive downhill struggles of Tory- ism are then recorded, even to the time when DURHAM scared the Lords from mangling the Metropolitan enfranchisement clauses. Throughout the whole, we see the same principle at work, though varying in its outward forms according to the necessities which the " pressure from without" induced : the will the same as at the time of the Manchester massacre, and the beheading of Brandreth and his followers, though the want of power compels them to "let I dare not wait upon I would." And yet these are the politicians for whom a fair trial is asked,—as if they had not tried the en- durance of the country more than enough already! The next point is the growth of Lord DURHAM'S character and mind, of which the volume before us offers sufficient means of judging. On his first starting in public life, we see that his prin- ciples were the same as now ; but his opinions were general and vague—they appeared as if inherited rather than acquired—put forth with the implicit and dogmatizing confidence of authority, rather than with the calm and reasoning faith of conviction. His earliest speeches are chiefly characterized by the generous headi- ness of youth : they are made up for the most part of the common- places of House of Commons oratory, and dashed by party con- ventionalities. As he proceeds, we find him looking more upon the facts and arguments of the case in hand; a change first visible in his attack upon the scandalous embassy to Lisbon. In the next stage, we see him, as the matter may require, drawing his materials from the scattered public statistics, (less accessible then than now, and less thought of,) or from the laws and constitution
of the country. The fourth epoch shows him adding to his ma- terials from the living knowledge of the present time, bits of which are carried about in the heads of most men of affairs, and are found in the books and publications of the day, though few have the
leisure, the opportunity, the watchfulness, and the ability to col- lect and digest them. The combined result is visible in the
broadness, and, as Reformers think, the soundness of his views, coupled with real moderation, and an absence of one-sidedness ; as when, at his Glasgow triumph, lamenting the blindness of the
Peers to the signs of the times, he allowed for all the circum- stances which bad caused it, and did not charge as crimes upon individuals the effects of their social position. Again his calm putting down of BROUGHAM at Edinburgh—his Glasgow inti- mation of the then unsuspected activity and intrigues of the Tories—and the collected courage with which, at Newcastle, he advised England to meet them, when the dissolution of the MELBOURNE Ministry was known—show that he is not merely a man of argument, but of action; a cheinpion who will take up the gauntlet for the People, be it thrown down where or by whom it may; a sagacious observer, whom slight indications are sufficient to enable to (live into intentions and discover truth; a considerate forecaster, who prepares for coining events, and is not driven to wonder or heeimte when the time for action is come.
Another characteristie, more generally known, yet not to be passed without remark, is Lord DURHAM'S firmness and fidelity to his priuciples, displayed under circumstances far more tiying to him as a man and a politician thee are likely to beset any one now, when we are all Reformers. But in his early day the generous impulses of young LAMBTON S0111 carried him beyond the party tactics of the " pure old 'Whigs " of " his NIajesty's Opposition," or shocked the delicacy of men who were always fur postponing public justice and the right: of the People to some personal pressions of private life. Thus we find Westminster's Glory
smitten perhaps with the ambition of doing " something prac- tical in his life "—vainly trying to drive him into his own notions of expediency, and lords and gentlemen " diselaiming " all partici- pation in his motion against the CANNING job. Mark how firmly be persists in his course, and how calmly and clearly he states the reasons for his persistence ; laying down the distinction between public and personal, the MU and the politiciun.
He begged leave to inform the noble Lord lilton ) and the honourable 3Iember ( Mr. Gordon ), that, with every sense of the obligation they had so kindly confimed on him in disclaiming his motion, be could not accede to their mode of i casoning- their arguments had nothing whatever to do with the question. The question was, not whether the right 11011OUI:11111! gentleman It justified himself in a pecuniary point of view, but whether the Ministers LA justified themselves from the ac- cusation of hewing, by that appointment, imposed an unnecessary expense on the country. mar alone was the object of his motion ; which his honoinable friends seemed, whether purposely or not he could not tell, entirely to have for- got. Iii his opinion, nothing bad pas,eil during the debate—nothing had been urged against his motion, either by the homemade gentleman opposite or his honourable friends near him, which could induce Min to change his opinion as to the propriety of the course he had pursued; and lie should therefore call for a division.
We have indicated the matter of which Lord DURHAM'S speeches consist. The manner of his later and better ones is dis- tinguished by a total absence of display, a contempt of all tricks of rhetoric, a severe simplicity of style, a great aptness in alluding to or applying the circumstances around him, and a continuous ilow, as different from the art of a mere speeder or debater as the gliding tide of a river front the splutter and dash and froth of an artificial cascade; whilst there are sprinkled throughout, swine weighty sentences, which contain in a period the germs of a trea- tise on polities or history, and are the result of much reading and long reflection. Yet, looking at them as mere orations, it cannot be denied that they are not so telling or bo taking as those of some far less popular men. They have little of the power, ill exhorta. tion, appeal, or sarcasm, which distinguished BROUGHAM in former times ; still less of the polished elegance, the glancing though ser- vilely-insolent wit, and the elaborate composition which charac- terized CANNING; none of Sir Rommis solemn plausibility and rhetorical craft, or of WHITTLE IlaevEv's ready and amusing dexterity. Nay, in matter-of-fact, they are frequently excelled by sonic gentleman who is crammed for the nonce; and the higher excellences are scarcely appreciable in delivery, or by the People. In what, then, it will mentally be asked, do Lord DURHAM'S popular qualifications consist? what has made hitn the foremost man of all this time ? The true answer, it appears to us, is that, though compelled from circumstances to advance his NieWS by speech, he is not essentially an orator, but a statesman, and that of a high and original class—a statesman of principles. In early times," to use his own words at Edinburgh, "Government went on without a people; in the next period, it went on in despite of the people." In the first case, every statesman was sui generis; he did what circumstances permitted him to do with the force at his disposal. The next period was the reign of sections—the object self, or faction, or party, where interested expediency was the rule of action, and some single question the test of such principles as they bad. By accident, by instinct, or by descent, Lord DURHAM took up the principle "that government should go on with the people." Experience, reasoning, reflection, confirmed his impres- sions; research taught him the spirit of our constitution, enabling him to separate the essentials from the forms in which they were clothed, and the relations to winch they were cooneeted,—as in the case of the first Reform Bill. By his principles he has always held fast; sometimes, as all men in practice must do, not fully carrying them out, but never running counter to them. In short, he took up the cause of the People—of the Masses ; lie has stuck by the People, and the People seem instinctively to stick by him. But though the eyes of the masses are fixed upon DURHAM in hope, it must be admitted that many most respectable and good sort of people look at him with terror. He is a kind of political raw-head-and-bloody-bones —a bogie whom the Tories use to frighten the timorous. The cause of this is obvious enough: from his youth upwards, the faction have intuitively felt that he was an uncompromising foe, and it was their instinct to assail him with every species of calumny and abuse. His property, his personal peculiarities, and his infirmities, have been made the subject of malignant gibes or of broad jokes; whilst those who are too heavy or too serious for jest, point him out as a Destructive of Constitution, Institutions, and Property. Except to prejudice or to faction, his speech at Dundee, where he drew the distinction so strongly between changes to improve and changes to destroy, would have established the contrary : and be it remembered, that it was made at a time, in a place, and to an audienee, where mine- men, though not popularity-hunters, might have been tempted to speak in a different tone.
"have never yet, nor ever will, conceal my sentiment:, whether addressing Radicals on the one hand or Twits on the other. I have ever stated and avowed what my principles are. I confess that, if I believed all that is Iihted in the Address of the Political Cahn], I should despair of the prosperity of toy country ; but I do not believe that every thing is in such a state as is there re- presented. Much I know remains to he done, and with your assistance it shall be done ; but I do not believe that all is so had and rotteu in our institutions as is set forth in this Address. My oljeCi 1.3 11e to destroy nod reconstruct, lad to ameliorate and to amend. There is ninth that is good and valuable in our institutions, if it were fairly drawn out ; but mach of this bas, through Tory misrule, been perverted to other purposes. I hold, that in our form of govern- ment, by King, Lords, and Commons, there will be timed as great a degree of liberty as ever existed it, any other country of the worh!, and as Much rations:I fiber ty as any people under the sun can or ought to enjoy. I ask you of the working classes, who are the sinews of the state, wh:n would he the conse- quence of any system calculated to produce conftision I aor not aware of any class that would suffer more front such a state than the operatives, Any thong which tends to derange the laws which regulate the employment capital and labour, must necessarily tend to destroy the mercantile and agricult,iral pro. spelt y of the country ; and if you take my advice, you will t aka care Mt, t when you ameliorate you do not destroy."
So far from the notion of Lord DURHAM'S princieles teteling ta destruction being true, they are the only ones that can perma- nently and invariably be relied on for sarety. His principles are— not the carrying of this question or that question or the otiser question, and wten this is done to rest from labour and cry out, " Peace, peace, I pray you ; it was tinders:toed that this measure was a final measure." He would, it we have read him rightly, adapt the institutions and the government of countrv to the social wants, condition, and intelligence of the people, advancing with the advance of the age. Yet the impression of his exteenia principles has a sort of traditional foundation to rest upon. Tested by the politics of the pure old Whigs, his principles were extreme enough in Nei ; for we find him thus expressing, himself Upon. Parliamentary Refiner', in the high Tory days ticCASTLEREAGB, when even the enfranchisement of Manche :ter was hopeless, and
a Schedule A scorned as the dream of a visionary. After speak- ing of the corrupt state of the Representation, and the consequent degradation of the House of Comiurnis, lie thus proceeds- " Now, Sir, to prevent the further continuance of this state of thlegs, the recurrence of such proceedings as I have thus generally tile object of my motion. In order that the People may be fail ly and ad.:quately repre-
sented in the Legislature, and the balance of the Constitution thus restwetl, it is neeessary, in my opinion, that there should be an extension of the elective franchise to the unrepresented classes conttibuting directly to taxation—copy-
holders, leaseholders, and householders ; that all venal, corrupt, and decayed boroughs should be disfranchised; and that there should be a recurrenci; to Triennial Parliaments, accompanied by such restrictions on the extretr‘es of elections, as could easily be accomplished under a reformed system, but which now it is quite impossible to effect, and useless to attempt."
Again, on Triennial Parliaments-
" I should not therefore consider any alteration beneficial, which did not in- clude a recurrence to Triennial Parliaments; affording, as they would, the very best security for that frequent communication between the representative and Iii, constituents, the absence of whiled' is but too apt to render hint entirely in- dependent of them, and regardless of any interests but his own."
We are glad that this volume has been published—glad that we have read it; for it has confirmed our confidence in Lord DUR- HAM. We here see, that he possesses a mind which did not at once jump to the length of its tether, verifying the adage of" soon ripe soon rotten," but which has gradually reached its present maturity, and, judging of the future by the past, gives well- grounded promise of continual improvement. We trace him through a long series of years, and find him searching after truth, open to conviction, firm to his principles through evil report, and maintaining them without fear and without favour. We find his opinions and his views distinct, definite, and, being based on prin- ciple, always capable of a test. More than all, we discover in him a sympathy with the whole People—a knowledge of their wants, a clear perception of the danger of refusing their just demands, and of the proper mode of granting them with honour and safety. Seeing and feeling all this, we exclaim, with the men of Edin- burgh, and in the words of' PRAED'S ballad, "That is the man, that is the man !"