13 JUNE 1840, Page 13


Is an age so dishonoured and inconvenienced by the pestilent spirit of party, and when especially that brutish instinct of sepia- city, so worthy of the nature of cows and sheep, but not of a man blessed with brains, has to so great an extent taken the place of candid self-investigation, or of any common intelligence or inde- pendence in political thought or action, it may scent no better than apiece of idleness to set about any inquiry as to the natural causes of political opinion.

But, in the first place, it is certain—else might one despair— that monstrous as the phalweres of party have grown, their army is not the nation, nor their outcry the voice of the people : the " Hear, hear!" of a Pent„ or the " Oh, oh !" of a Ressnm., may boom ominously through a House of Commons, but their sound falls weaker every clay on the public ear : they may affect " divi- sions," but they cease to affect the public, because they no longer Ant indication of any real movement of mind or purpose of action. The best speeches of these great men are no better than diffuser " hear-hears" and modulated " oh-ohs." Being 0 of no great significance, they are hardly in greater regard; they begin to be considered merely as the penny-trumpet accompaniment of a standing show—which is exactly what they arc. One appeals

not now to the I louse of Commons—one appeals.from the House of Commons: would one hope to raise some little spark of' anima- tion or interest un any vital subject of the day, one's best and only Parliament is the Public—a Parliament unorganized, unaccredited, yet at all times virtually paramount—a true Parliament, one that parlqs, but that acts also and is the cause of action—a real working Parliament, fountain of opinion and unseen operator of

all changes. " Nonunquain dormitat "—it sleeps sometimes ; with constant heavy business on hand, that is natural: perchance to- morrow it may awake and put sonic new mettle into its proceedings.

It appears clearly enough, then, that beyond the pale—and far beyond the pale of narrow, hateful party, there spread as it were interminable back-woods of original independent thought : and the thinkers there, observe, (call them barbarians if you will, and make the worst of our simile) are not retreating 11'0111 us like the tribes of North America, but adrancinss, like the hordes of old Germany. Oh, ye who would exterminate the Goths, look ye be not extermi- nated ofthem. The battle is now and henceforth 'twist mind and mind. Look well to your thoughts ; fly it' your thoughts be not better than their thoughts, ye shall surely perish intellectually, and become utterly despised and driven out from the land. Ye, how- ever, who see no Goths, but only the hard-featured limes of your poor brethren asking for equal rights, prepare to hold out the hand of fellowship to them. Yield—at least yield the point in demand; for behold, Time, Justice, Reason—God commands it. If ye will not, why, then, ye shall yield it another time, though it be the work of the Devil.

In the second place, the political opinions of individuals, if those individuals happen to be men of Mark and promise, are always worth tracing to sonic source—often too soon found, indeed, drib- bling unremarkable from the general sink of commonplace ; yet Fe they worth tracing, if only that they may conic to influence and inform the opinions of others—the sequacious, who don't think at home, but send their minds out, as it were their pies, to the public oven.

For all these reasons, it appears by no means an idle task, nor

even an uninteresting one, to endeavour to peep a little into the springs and sources of political opinions as they develop them- selves in the bunion mind ; the motives which strengthen or modify them, the different influences which private or public life may bear upon them, the interests which may warp, the passions that may overmaster then; not without sometimes turning to consider those mere accidents, fatal or fortunate, on which so frequently depends the course in political life which public men adopt or eventually pursue. It has appeared also, from what has been said, that this is equally a suitable object of inquiry, whether with refimence to that vast mass of new political thinkers whom sharp suffering has taught to think, and whose thoughts—crude, peculiar, multifbrin- already begin to force themselves into notice, compelling attention, and deriving a proud importance from the sole alliance with a great cause of right and truth, and the inextinguishable claim to respect

conferred by long unavcnged injuries; or whether with reference to the more sophisticate politicians of polite society.

We will not imitate those old books which sometimes to two- thirds of prefatory matter offer one of text. It is not our intention, therefore, to enter this week on the subject indicated in the present article, further than we necessarily do in reconnoitering it with the reader. When all action depends on opinion, it is well to know on what opinion depends ; and this we would ascertain, if possible, not to the glory but to the conflision of metaphysics. We, how- ever, foresee we shall be misunderstood here,—we wish no ill to me- taphysics pursued apart froill common life; but there is a disposition, we have observed, prehably arising from the spreading ac- quaintance with this description of learning, to mystify common matters with uncommon differences and distinctions, which cannot to moral mischief if suffered to harden into the crust of habit. We have noticed it here because it is one of the growing sins of that assembly which is ever the foremost to catch at any liewilingled means of confounding truth with falsehood, and playing more securely the game of insincerity with the public. In a debate on the Postage Bill, about a year and a half ago, we remember being amused by some pretty straws of this descrip- tion of my Lord MiasiounNe's splitting, worthy of so accomplished a nobleman, and developing at the same time, as we thought, that paramount attachment to the ridcri in all things which we take to be one dins Lordship's characteristic,. Huffed at something, he took upon himself on this occasion to be scandalized by as bare allusion to the eNist.•nce of an Opposition, and declared for law that it was " LUICOOStilittional to suppose a party to be united against the Government ot' the country." This would be an amusing hint to draw upon, and no doubt an endless variety of timings might be thought of which it would be highly agreeable to believe harmless

in the doing, and only " unconstitutional the "supposing" to be done.

We shall return to our subject shortly.