Tux annual pairing-time of the linnet and thrush is not of more certain recurrence than the annual pairing-time of Members of the House of Commons. The preliminary chirpings in the conjugal overtures of the latter class of strange fowl are already beginning to be heard. The announcements in the columns of the Morning Post, that Lady Bâ has been paired, at St. George's, Hanover Square, with Sir â â, begin to be thinly sprinkled with inti- mations likeâ" Mr. Dalrymple has paired for the rest of the session with the Earl of March," or "Mr. Hodgson Hinde has paired off for the session," (ire, with himself?) or " Mr. Balfour and Mr. E. Ellice have paired for the session." Paragraphs like the last suggest a hope that though we are anticipating the return of Parliamentary pairing-time, the Members themselves have not anticipated it in the same sense as COWPER'S birds did. It is not the Finch, " the last year's bird, who ne'er had tried," that sets the example of pairing, brit the Bullfinch,
" who could boast
More years and wisdom than the most,
and who knows that, even after the sunny relinquishment of Go- vernment bills, indicative of the close of the session, stormy and wintry debates may arise. Springâthe spring of Members of Parliamentâis drawing near; "the voice of the cuckoo is heard in the land."
This pairing of Members of Parliament is scarcely so tender and sentimental a process as the pairing of birds. It is rather like a French marriage under the ancien regime, where the parties paired in order to live separate. Members of Parliament pair on the principle on which Slender proposed to marry Anne Page : " If there be no great love in the beginning, yet Heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance "â" I hope upon familiarity will grow more contempt." It is a strange study imposed upon the Parlia- mentary match-maker, to seek out the most incompatible couples in order to unite them. Is it from this office of pairing those who don't match that he is called the " Whipper-in"?
Enviable fellows they are these pairs, when, turning their backs upon each other, they sally forth in quest of pleasure or repose in opposite directions. A vision of something like their feelings comes back from our school-days, when the teacher would occa- sionally reward diligence by dismissing one or two of the small fry a quarter of an hour before the rest of the class. The pleasure of escaping from the nightly talk of â or â must be im- mensely heightened by the consciousness that one's friends are still suffering under the infliction. It is something better to feel that one is the only M.P. who has passed or will pass along the railway for a week, than to be hurried along among such a crowd of Senators that the train looks like St. Stephens set in motion, and everybody of whom his fellow-passengers know nothing is taken as a matter of course for a Member of Parliament.
It is a subject of curious inquiry, in what class of legislators the tender passionâthe yearning to be pairedâawakens earliest in the season. The honest country gentlemanâwhose neighbours, anxious that the country should not get into " bad hands,' and yet all of them reluctant to leave their own preserves or pet farms, have
made him their goat, and carried him, despite of all his recd.
citration, shoal er- â˘ h into the House of Commonsâis probably the first. Yost may see him at the club, as soon as spring comes on, apart from the rest, fidgeting on a chairâ" a stricken deer. has; left the herd" ; or perhaps walking in what are by courtesy called the green lanes of the Metropolitan suburbs, nibbling at the first buds of the hawthorn. Next, the provincial merchant or manufac- turer gets uneasy. He cannot say that any thing appears to be , going wrong in his absence, but the establishment has been too long emancipated from the master's eye. He is as anxious to get back into the murky atmosphere of .the manufacturing townâto feel himself sweating in the Dog-days on the crowded exchangeâ as the 'squire is to " taste the smell of dairy." As August approaches, the sportsmenâespecially the young and town-bred, who think it necessary to affect a passion for the moorsâbecome utterly unmanageable. They threaten, if pairs be longer refused, to give all their pointers orders for the Strangers Gallery. Thus pair by pair and class by class drop off, till the House becomes sensibly thinner, and both Ministers and Opposition leaders cry, " Doctor, the thanes fly from me." The echoing walls of Balclutha were not half so desolate as a thin House at this season : the, fox looking out o' window, and the thistle wagging its beard, were feeble types of utter loneliness compared with the sprinkling of clerks_ and Members "and nothing more " who have merged their humanity in their office and become mere walking bills or standing motions. At last the attendances are too meagre to deserve the name ; and the ceremony of prorogation is gone through, after both Houses have virtually prorogued themselves. Her Majesty, or her Majesty's Commission, announce that a set of gentlemen are dismissed who have already taken French leave.