THE KALENDS OF MARCH.
As was to have been expected, the article on Reform in the extra- ordinary number of the Quarterly Review has created a sensation of grief and alarm throughout the country. The time and man- ner of its publication, together with the abuse which it contains of all parties, excepting only that of the late Ministry, have satis- fied the public that it must be considered as the Manifesto of the Duke of WELLINGTON and Sir ROBERT PEEL on the question of Reform. It was in this sense that we spoke of the article on the day of its publication. We now proceed, aecording to promise, to examine some of the arguments of the Tory writer. He chal- lenges the advocates of Reform. We shall assume the character of advocates, for the occasion, in order to illustrate the Reformers' position more clearly, and at the same time show what the Tory advocate brings upon his party by the fierce spirit of his zeal. As he will have our Glorious Constitution dissected, so be it.
Our Anatomy of the House of Commons has already esta- blished beyond a doubt, that what is called the "balance of the constitution" is a mere phrase. The so much vaunted balance consists in this—that the Crown and the Nation are wholly subser- vient to the Boroughmongers. The "harmony of our institu- tions" means the obedience of King and Commons to the dictates of certain individual Lords. The power of Government resides in the House of Commons, and the House of Commons is moved by a small number of persons politely called the Oligarchy. This insignificant minority of numbers and wealth makes the laws—im- poses and enjoys the taxes—it is, in one word, the Government. It calls itself our Glorious Constitution. Very well. Those who love our glorious constitution, having at their head, just at this moment, the Duke -of WELI.INGTON and Sir Roma, PEEL, are opposed to all Reform,—that is, to any the slightest change of' the system which bestows on them all the powers of government. They allege that the slightest change will be the forerunner of other changes,—that, if we make a beginning in Reform, we shall not finish until so much be granted as to render the House of Commons the true representative of the Nation. And this asser- tion is brought forward as an argument against Reform. We fully believe the assertion to be true ; and on this account it forms, to our apprehension, the best of all arguments in favour of Reform. Taking the assertion as a truth, what does it prove? Whit, in- deed, but that the Nation is hostile to the present system of sham- representation ? If, says the Quarterly writer, you give the Nation ever so smalla place in the House of Common, from that little spot the :Nation will press on, gaining fresh strength at every advance, until at last all the seats in the House of Commons will be filled by, its representatives. This is most true, Sir . ROBERT ; but what does it prove, if not that the Nation is already bent on being filly represented ? . Would you deny the Nation the least gratifi- cation of its wishes, merely because that wish is so ardent ? . But this is not the question—the firstquestion is, whether you ought to keep the Nation out of the House of Comnions?—the second, whether you will be able ?
The Main object' of the Quarterly writer evidently is, to under- value the force of public opinion in favour of Reform. He tells' us that the national desire for Reform is a " sudden revolution". of opinion, brought about by "dread of physical force." He looks back only to last July ; and if he has not persuaded himself, would persuade others, that his "chaos of unanimity 7 in favour of Re- form has its origin in the fall of CHARLES the Tenth. Now, we should like to ask him, which was published first, the French King's, or the English Duke's declaration, that" he had a right to di) what he liked with his own ?" Did Lord EXETER follow the example of CHARLES the Tenth, when he so treated the elec- tors of Stamford as to render inevitable the los§ Of his power to oppress them ?—or did he, by such.conduot,:only repeat an act of oppression, of which the frequent repetition .before, hi many other places, had disgusted the Nation With (Mr Ystein of mock-repre- sentation? Were oni eight hundred iil1ith of debt imposed upon us by the exact balance of our Constitution, after or before 'the Three Days of Paris ? The late General Election occurred §i- muitanebusly with the late French ReVelutioli. Were the mem- bers of the last House of Commons industrious, intelligent,:obe- client to the wishes of the Nation, and especially careful of the publie purse ?—or is it this present Parliament which contains a majority of lazy blockheads, scorners of the public voice, and squanderers of the national property ? Did this House of Com- mons invent Parliamentary jobs ? Is it only since last July, that
Lord GREY, Lord RADNOR, Lord KING, Lord Arm:loge, SirliErvav PARNELL, Sir FRANCIS BURDETT, and Mr. HUME' have been the advocates of Reform ? When was it that Mr. 'G presented that celebrated petition against the balance of our glorious constitu-
tion and the" harmony of our institutions ?" Above all, was an article on Reform in the Quarterly Review, which appeared
in January 1830—ani article Which admirably expoged the ineffici- ency of the House of Commons as a Legislative Assembly *—was that manifesto in favour of Reform, which a "chaos of unanimity" read with satisfaction, published after or before the late revolu- tions on the Continent ? These questions are provoked, Sir ROBERT, by the late Manifesto of your party..Will you condescend to' notice them on Tuesday ? It would be absurd, however, to deny that the late events on
the :Continent have accelerated the progress of opinion in favour of We quote a few specimens from the article "Internal Policy." (Quarterly Re _ view. No. LXXXIII.)
"We cannot refrain from intimating it as our firm persuasion, that whoever
listens attentively to the tope and language which is now heard in the unrestrained intercourse of the higher as well as lower classes of society, will be constrained to ad- mit, that the resolutions and proceedings of the Legislature, and especially of the House of Commons, no longer command that respect and submission with which they ictre wont to be regarded." "Whether it be that the House has sunk, or that the well.educated part of the community has risen, it would be difficult to maintain that, as a body, they now consti. tote Me elm ice of the Commons if the mini in the same sense in which they did some time ago. Let any person listen to their ordinary conversation or reasoning, or sit down to the perusal of the thoughts they may have committed to writing, and they are not only found inferior to many private individuals among their contemporaries, but one seldom recognizes the grasp of mind and statesman-like qualities 'which the re- presentatives of a free and enlightened country might be expected to possess." "Another quality in which the members of the Lower House are thought lately to have somewhat declined, is efficiency ;—by which we mean the real examination, discussion, and settlement of those affairs which the state of the country requires to be brought before it. The main purpose of the House of Commons is to see that the business of the nation he done, and its grievances redressed; and if, year after year, they assemble and separate without seeing this accomplished, their efficiency mutt, for all useful purposes, be regarded as diminished." "That point, however, in which the members of the House of Commons have sometimes been thought be most deficient is their want of independence. Though less open to direct improper influence than formerly, there is too much reason to surmise that they do not speak and vote sufficiently according to their real sentiments. Where bodies of men are obliged to act together, concession to a certain degree, is Indispensably necessary. "But there are limits which every honest man is bound to set to this sort of com- pliance; and here, we are afraid, is one of the duties at present most frequently neglected by members of Parliament." ...There is something in the very atmosphere of the House unfavourable to bold and un- compromising conduct. It is, de facto, a sort of overgrown club. Things are every day admitted in private among the members, which are studiously denied or concealed in the speeches reported from the gallery.' Whoever, therefore, should endeavour to rend asunder that veil which; by all parties in the House, is held up before the public, would lose his character and caste. He would be treated with coldness by those to whom he wished most to approximate, while he might feel insuperable repugnance to unite with those who were most willing to receive him. A loss of independence more painful to the individual, or injurious to the commonwealth, than this, cannot well be pictured. It amounts to a surrender of the noblest privileges, and chokes the source of the,thirest virtues, which distinguish and adorn the citizen of a free country."
Reform. Those events caused a deep excitement throughout this country ; and as to the question of Reform, they have converted wishes into will, hope into certainty. Their operation in this re- spect occurred thus--For thirty years* before, education had been spreading a general knowledge of the purposes of Government.
Long before last July, all but the most ignorant classes had been
taught, that the 'institution of Government has but one end—the greatest good of all—an end obtainable only through the sacri- fice by each of some portion of that perfect freedom with which man is born ; that good government consisted of laws. involving the least sacrifice of natural liberty, compatible with full security of person and property ; and that the government of England was a bad government, in so far as it sacrificed the national interests to those of a few powerful families. Long before last summer,-,the guise • under which bad government onee flourished securely in. England, had been pierced by reflecting men. Wisdom and good-
ness concurred in endeavouring to open the eyes of the multitude by means of general education ; some education of the mass led
to a very superior education indeed of those who were in easy circumstances ; the present generation of the middle classes grew kip with strange notions of government ; and, as was said nearly two years ago by the Bishop of OXFORD, liberality became with our young men the order of the day. But while all other classes were advancing in political knowledge, the Government remained barba- rous, ignorant, and profligate, as bethre. No change whatsoever, or at least none with a tendency to good government, occurred in the form or the working of balance and harmony. Then came the necessary results,—discontent, an utter distrust of the Rouse of Commons, and hostility to the ruling few. Fallen as the Duke of WELLINGTON now is in public esteem, it requires an effort of me- mory to recall the cheers with which, not long ago, the sight of - his person and the mention of his name in public were univer- sally greeted. Why was he a most popular Minister ? Not by reason of any brilliant qualities as a statesman ; and not, assuredly, on account of his affection for the Catholics. He was popular, be- cause, not comprehending the true nature of balance and har-
mony, he declared war, on the part of the Crown and the Nation, against the high Aristocracy in Church and State ; and because, being selfish; secret; and obstinate,- he vanquished and humiliated the -faction which the Nation already hated. Let this fact be marked, for it is a most important one. It shows that with the hatred of aristocratic rule—of the balance all on one side, which had grown up in England more than twelve months before the barricades' were erected in Paris, there was not mixed the least particle of dislike to Monarchy. The Duke of WELLINGTON ob- tained flit love of the people by maiming the spoilers with the sword of the Crown. Even the King, who by education and habit was more of an English Exclusive than a British Monarch, and therefore generally took pains to be disliked, became popular through the help which he gave towards dragging the Lords Spiritual and Temporal behind the triumphal car of a soldier of fortune. Again, who forgets the violence with which the King was assailed by the high Tory party, because he balanced the Constitution all on the wrong side for them, by throwing his weight out of their scale into the scale of the Nation? Upon the whole, it is plain that Monarchy, instead of losine.b had gained in public estimation with the growth of hatred towards Aristocracy. But that is not more plain than the conclusion, that all but the Aristocracy and their dependants were ripe for a change before last July ; and that the only question about Reform, everywhere but in Parliament, was as to tune and manner. Upon the degree of Reform, the Nation had made up its mind ; requiring such a change as should make the House of Commons obedient, not to the Lords, but to the Nation itself.
. We arrive at the French events of July. No doubt a great people, winning by its courage that release from tyranny which it had vainly sought by gentle means, was a spectacle calculated to inflame the minds of Englishmen, who themselves desired to be released from a worse thraldom. We are speaking, be it remem- bered, as an advocate of the Reformers, smarting under the abuse . of the Quarterly, would speak—and we say worse, because, if so bad a man as CHARLES the Tenth had been the heir of GEORGE the Fourth, and had proposed (as CHARLES the Tenth did in his electoral ordonnance), that every one paying 12/. a year of direct taxes should vote, by ballot, for Members of Parliament, he would have passed for the wisest and best of English Kings. Well, the overthrow of CHARLES the Tenth did, we acknowledge, create a tumult either of hope or fear in the breast of every Eng- lishman. It did more,—it urged the Duke of WELLINGTON to side with the Oligarchy against the Nation ; and so it drove him from office. Here is the sore place with the Quarterly writer,— who, by the way, is supposed to have lost a most desirable office by the change of Ministry. The excitement produced by the last French Revolution set loose the tongues of men; the Duke of WELLINGTON preached against Reform—and the Quarterly Re- view became a journal of the Opposition. The new Ministry, who obtained office by means of the clamour for Reform, could not but declare for Reform, as Ministers ; and the King, who is not an aristocrat by temper or habit, and who, as King, is deeply inte- rested in clipping the wings of the Aristocracy, authorized his ser- vants to say that he too was favourable to Reform. These Minis- terial and Royal promises have, no doubt, greatly accelerated the progress of the national cause; and, in so far as the events of July tended to cement the union between the Crown and the People agamst the Oligarchy, which was begun in 1829 by the Duke of INELLINGTO4F and Sir ROBERT PEEt, the People and the Crown are deeply indebted to the Parivian barricades. We are ready to admit, that -"-dread of physical force," also, may have served The cause of Reform. That dread, operating on the minds of Sir CLAUDIUS MONTER, the Duke of WELLINGTON, Alderman KEY, and Sir &WIRT PEEL, induced the Ministers to prevent their Majesties from visiting the city of London, and thereby impressed upon the dullest of the people, that the King of England does not always choose his Ministers. "For," said the people, "the King without his Ministers would have been well received. Then why do the Ministers prevent the King from coming amongst us? Why has not the King Ministers of his own choosing, whom we might love, as we love WILLIAM the Fourth ?" That cowardly step of the Duke and Sir ROBERT threw a strong light on balance and harmony ; an excellent effect, which the Quarterly writer has spared no pains to increase. The next good effect produced by "dread of physical force," w the extreme anxiety of all honest and sensible Reformers to prevent the ruling few from driving the people info-rebellion. If—which we do not admit—it were doubtful before, that the Tory party wished to settle the question of Reform by a fight, the Tory Manifesto fully establishes that point. Now, the best friends of order and the laws foresaw that if the Tory Ministers should continue to be the official organs of the Oligarchy, they would endeavour to put down opinion by physical force—" by the grasp of a determined opposition." The end of such a course was plain—civil war, and, in all probability, the triumph of" an inflamed populace." On this account, thousands of moderate men declared loudly for immediate Reform, as a means of preventing Revolution. Amongst these were the present Ministers. So far, then, " dread of physical force," engendered by the folly and violence of the Tory party, has greatly served the cause of Reform.
We have one more question to ask of the Quarterly writer—Was it wise in him to provoke such notice of his patrons, as occurs in the following quotation from the Times of Wednesday ?
4' Throughout, we must observe of this knight-errant, that when he alludes to the !benefits of the existing constitution, he means the benefits derived from it by the Aristocracy alone—that is, by the
class whose persevering and notoricus efforts to monopolize those bene- fits are held by 49-50ths of the nation to be the one great cause, and in-
deed the main essence, of all abuses for which a Reform of Parliament is looked upon as the proper and only remedy—that remedy which alone can prevent the recurrence of the evil."
But it is not the arguments of the Tory Manifesto which have alarmed all moderate men, and in the same degree proved agree- able to those who wish for a convulsive change. The present fear of good men, and joy of the very worst (the latter consisting of Boroughmongers and Revolutionists), are occasioned by the statement in the Manifesto of the intentions of the yet powerful Tory party. If these desperately selfish men should be able to carry a vote of Parliament against Reform, then indeed "all that we have ever heard or read of revolutionary horrors," may be "tame to the scenes of misery which await this great country." Every one asks his neighbour—What is the Ministerial plan ? but Ministers have chosen, most unwisely as we think, that no one shall be able to answer the question. To satisfy in some measure the curiosity of our readers, we submit to them the fol- lowing general description of three courses, one of which, as it appears to us, the Ministers must inevitably take. Either they will propose a measure "full and effectual," accord- ing to the Nation's sense of those words—in which case we may expect them to be outvoted. The Quarterly writer, hints that in that case Parliament will not be dissolved. If so, the Tories will return to office; and that day will be our 8th of August.* Or, they will vainly endeavour to satisfy both Parliament and the Country, by proposing, not even a half-measure, but some small fraction of a measure, such as an eighth or a twentieth—in which case they will soon retire to private life, leaving the Nation and the Boroughmongers to settle the question by themselves. In that event, to call a man a Whig will be considered a gross per- sonal insult.
Or, lastly, they will propose a sham measure, the effect of which would be to render "the House of Commons neither more nor less efficient than it is now." Such a mere mockery would probably be well received by Parliament ; but, in that ease, and if these Ministers should keep their places, the question of Reform would become as simple and as fearful as in the first sup- posed case of a union between the Crown and the Tory Oligarchy against the Nation.
However, the kalends of March are upon us !
• Polignac replaced Martignac on the 8th of August ISO.