31 AUGUST 1839, Page 11


TiE right to political conversion, claimed by the present Liberal candidate for Cambridge, (late Conservative Member for Ipswich) one of considerable ancient respectability : there is hardly a political character of our own age or the last that has not used it with more or less resolution. Political conversions are of all sorts and sizes. There is the whole conversion, the half conversion,

the quarter conversion—as many chromatic intervals of change, in short, as there are phases to the moon or points to the compass. Some gentlemen change once, some twice : some never cease changing. Some chamse suddenly and wholly, as it were by an in-

stantaneous burst of right— like the apostle Paul ; some gently and imperceptibly—like the sasmsons; some stick at a middle tint— like a parboiled lobster, neither red nor black ; some go the whole circle of change till they fuel themselves at home again—like Cap- tain Coos., All thh; is ss!ry natural, for, as somebody says, " Tot homilies tot sententise."

But political conversions have a immoral difference too, which it may be worth while to consider a little. To go no further, cer- tainly no two things can be more unlike than the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of place, and yet both are reputed efficient causes of political conversion. There is not a more honourable thing in

the world than apostacy, under imaginable circumstances ; nor a more influnous, under others. It may imply a host of virtues moral and intellectual ; or it may bespeak a number of the basest qualities. What more noble, than the candour that proclaims its errors, that publishes its fallibility, that braves prejudice and. odium and l'oluntarily incurs injury —for love of' the truth ? What more despicable, than the du,(Ttiou of public principle for sordid personal ends, or more revolting than the hypocrisy which pretends tm moral impulse for the act ? But it is always in this way that acts of the highest and acts of the lowest character, by a certain relation they have in very Nirtue of their disparity, are liable to be mistaken, one for the other. Nothing is so remote from any virtue as the vice that counterfeits it ; no coward like a bully ; no sinner like Tartutfe. That conduct so dissimilar in spirit should ever be so) like in scenting, may be considered a fact very discouraging to honest people ; and so it is : but honesty haa nothing but discouragement in this esda, and must ,mut on worse trials than those which stop at misconceptimm. The same circum- stance, however, is proportionately encouraging to knaves and by- poerites. No plausible placeman, who abandons all his early pro- fessions EH one swoop in order to qualify for a post under Govern- ment, ever wants the Janos-tags! of insulted virtue in reply to the taunts of Opposition. 2Cppearmices nets, be against him—place and conviction may have chanced together—suspicions may have arisen : but his own conscience acquits him ; he regards with perfect indifference those slanderous reproaches—ever heaped on courageous honesty when it ventured to think for itself. Thus comes off the shainefullest renegado, with the same speech as the conscientious independent patriot. Sooner or later, circumstances draw the distinction betweeu them.

In judging of' that violent species of' political conversion which (by one of those arbitrary defamations .4' particular word, in which our language rejoices) is ganerally intended by " apostacy," it seldom happens that we are furnished with clear demonstrative evidence, and fir the most part we must form our opinion rather from the light of reto ..ve actions than from the action itself There

is no recipe that We knOW Or to LeSt the er immorality in convershot —no cunning powder than being thrown hi shall discover you the " black precipitate ;" but there otv rarely venting such cir- cumstances as, Aim! way or another, our fairly determine the sen- tence of the pub]; e. We inn Iceol hold, with the law of the land, that no gentleman should be deemed guilty of apostacy (luau 501580) until convicted of that crime ; hut then, We WoOld eoilVieL 000 good pre- better sumptive evidence, since, ill the Hahn', of the ease, nothing can be obbtitted. We must take vet lain lied col truths as we find them recordeml in the book of iltrli:111 Ill them we must trust. Wl• more! to bdieVe in no :oolpri,:isg e.iiimirrences or spiritual and ineto slid phaanneena whereby the isseele.1 truths of Whiggisns and a rair rowel salary are rotted to have ft on simultaneously ac- quired. It is to bonn libel to m ay Ilia( lilt'C Coi010nin sins of humanity have found their way to the Ion not ttll 1.h0. Mill colTtiptcd it.; 110 breado of privilege to proclaim an .\1.1%, oso :attlicient. grounds, an apostate and nmessule. 'Ma nAot se the Scotch .lenober for G:nton in the ti 1' moo' ratted to the Govern- ment after notzi..ely; himself' con,picassols ;Ionong-d ;lick Iteree4 de. nOtttletti, cO,h2aVolirett toiti-diy his bAtilolli by the leitnll ap- pe'msl 10 iiberi;; col unce, &c. it wd,-, aeo'on"iing to his view, too tonwarrantall., rrec(1,eso in, susp,:c1 a desiring any thing but the goed not h%, ceuatry zest C, tilt nur. it HMO were DCVO' to chitOtte his ! i ;0,.• ;;I. 1 e::perienee were to go for uothing! This, frein a (ILI' res...., was too much for the patience isc ess: ss.opssities sees: master Ammaa1 got such to batteling thou the until, of .1011.(' LA. Fix arta ToWNsliEND, that lie seems iison that time to hay! rsalained (sedum with the prafits, without taking ally further II...utile to esplain the honour or the purity, or fin " convictions." Fox paid in to (loci Ito. the So- perior js sogs'o nov of isis soil. To WNs111-..s is, if less provoking, was not less forcible.

" It secinel,- 31r. " that it \ras illilocral aspursion upon the character, to say that places d.mreitrs so contra...Is, were antung the c.rropf seducers of flu; human heart. T. he sure, it would he highly illiher:d 1,■ suspt.ct that a 110....1.er nts Parliament should 1.e ',educed by sifter Lis manner of voting, from a prudent consideration of his own interest. The conduct of that gentleman had been marked, on his first appearance in Site House, and for some time after, by an acrimonious opposition to the mea- sures of the Minister.. He was now as much distinguished by a general told indis- criminate approbation of whatever the Minister thought propr to adopt. This was a conduct which naturally gave rise to speculation, and to animadversion. When it was observed that such a gentleman abandoned, in a critical moment, without even the formality of a reason, the friends and the principles which he had maintained, and that he because one of the most zealous and active parti- spans of that Government which he had previously reprobated ; when it was oh- iserved, that he placed himself immediately behind the Treasury-bench, whis- pered the Minister, and became his avowed champion ; and when it was also aeen, that the zeal and activity of this new convert were rewarded with a pro- fitable place under Government ; under suds circumstances, people could not avoid suspecting that there was something like influence in a thousand or twelve hundred pounds a year ; and that it was corruption and not principle, that had converted the enemy into the friend of the Minister. Such suspicions might be entertained without any great degree of illiberality, and without any great degree of injustice." t This is a common-sense view of a plain matter, and may be re- commended to the reader as embodying political sentiments of great present relativeness. We will not say it is not possible that an injustice might be done in the application of the rule ; we will not affirm positively that fortune and conscience did never, or could never, work to one end, and that end place ; but this we will say, that, in the event imagined, no man who valued his character or thought his name wog keeping clean for future use, would hesi- tate to take the only course by which suspicions, so reasonable as be must then lie under, could be silenced—that is, by declining to prqfit in any way by flis conversion. If it is a complaint with high-minded and conscientious converts to new political principles, that the public confounds them with the vulgar herd of apostates, here let them rest their hopes of better justice—be this their brazen wall. Let us draw a parallel. It is no doubt very hard upon the sincere and earnest portion of the Chartists to be confounded with thieves and pickpockets. A Chartist may be an honest man, and the imputed connexion may be most false and injurious. But what, at least, will be one most indispensable condition of his ex- oneration ?—that no tea or gold snuff-boxes be found on him4 With what grace, think you, would LOVETT or COLLINS proclaim the sincerity of their attachment to Chartism as a political principle, and protest against the prejudice which associated them with bad characters, if, while they spoke, silver forks and dessert spoons should fall out of their pockets, and be identified by Hoarces and Co. of the Bull Ring, silversmiths? It is clearly, then, by a fastidious keeping of the hand out of the public pocket, that your conscientious political convert can best manifest the purity of his conversion, and right himself with the world. With respect to changes of political opinion, if it is certain they may be made sincerely, it is equally certain: they may be made wisely and beneficially. Most men take their politics, as they take their religion, from their parents ; and it must necessarily often hap- pen that opinions, thus mechanically adopted, if revised with any approach to freedom of judgment, will be not merely revised but reversed. But, besides this, there is a change—an intellectual change—which the mature time of life often brings with it, in which the mind will judicial discard sunny views original to itself, and,

In its high character, show no more favour to its own opinions than it may have (lone before to those which were forced upon it. Two very important acts of apostacy (as they may be culled) may therefore happen in the lik of a man, neither unnaturally nor uncreditably,—one, in which, with more of juvenile wilfulness perhaps than real wisdom, (yet in a spirit of self-assertion truly belonging to that character,) the attempt at dictation is resisted and hereditary polities set at nought ; the other, in which the judgment of the man alters or qualifies the opinions of the youth. In every candid, reasoning mind, circumstances will further enforce, from time to time, modifications of opinion, which it is no dis- honour to receive, but only to deny. But as these will never touch on fundamental principles, if there be that compact understanding to begin with, which we are supposing, so it is unnecessary here further to allude to them.

It must not be forgotten, that there is a great difference between change of opinion and change of principle : the one is an intel- lectual, the other a moral operation. Opinions are changed, if conscientiously, on the exhibition of unforeseen facts, or the ac- quirement of novel stores of information and experience : but principles are changed only by the accession of new feelings or pas- sions to the heart ; which is an event of much rarer occurrence, and very properly occasions its results to be regarded with a more jealous scrutiny. Frequent changes of opinion may, possibly, do no dishonour to the character of a political], but to his judgment they certainly must. We cannot swear by such a man ; it is like swearing by the moon, which Juliet forbids-

" the inconstant moon

That monthly changes in her circled orb."

To a speculative philosopher it may be given to doubt every thing, but to a practical legislator not so. His vocation is to act as well as think ; and he must at least contrive to be so positive in an opi- nion as to "around a motion" upon it, without which condition, it is not even given him (by the rules of Parliament) to speak. Ile, therefore, who cannot abide in any one way of thinking—who is, in politics, "every thing by fits and nothing long "—must consent to be taken either for a profound philosopher of the school of Car- wades, or a very sorry fellow of no school at all, but who ought to get to school as fast as be can ; or, finally, he must be taken for an

A.D. 1781.

In the late riot at Birmingham, the shops of a tea-dealer and a silversmith being broken into, several " Chartists " were seen decamping with convenient selections from Vacir extensive stocks incorrigible weathercock, whose gyrations are indicative of nothi i m but wind. In every case, he s no candidate for the votes of then; who think that 'something ought to be done ; who prefer faetsi

to words ; who above all thing want (as the female insurrect i

ists at Versailles said when they burst into the National Assembly and could not be restrained from interrupting the orators) 114 Pain—et pas de long discours." Of Mr. Ginsois, to whom we referred at the outset of thisnt. tick, we know nothing inconsistent with the most favourable Mi. struction that can be put upon that political conversion which likely to place him in Parliament as the Liberal Member for Cans bridge ; and as his talents are evidently of a respectable order, se shall look with anxiety, not without hope, to find them associated with those qualities of just pride and independence which isay keep him from taking any equivocal part in public life, or forfeiting the claim to conscientious feeling which is the sole, though,it sincere, certainly most sufficient and honourable explanation of hit present position.