27 JULY 1867, Page 4

criticize and explain. " 0 pitiless destiny Alas for the

the ten years of grace a seven-pound franchise might have ! alas for the people ! Lo, even gods obey Necessity !" this secured in educating the residuum to the level of its destiny_ is their melancholy, and to modern ears their somewhat feeble He asked scornfully of what that residuum, that deep-lying song. It is a moan they give out, not an articulate sound, still vein of gold " were expected to be conservative ? Of the a trumpet call, and moans cheer no man either to effort or to House of Lords, of which they knew nothing, or the Church_ resignation. All they can elicit is pity, and pity is the main feel- they never entered, or the ministers whose names even they ing which will be produced by the action of a House which, after never heard ?—how was " social influence " to operate in great all, can hardly be held worthyof blame. Under no circumstances cities in which even wealthy tradesmen would not live ? Is. could it have thrown out the Bill ; under circumstances as they it property they will conserve ? "Let me observe that such were, with its chosen leader ordering acquiescence, its strongest opinions (opinions favourable to redistribution) may be ex-- men divided in opinion, labouring under fears it half felt to be pressed and acted on by large masses of the working people— unreal, distracted by hopes it half saw to be Utopian, with a and here I am speaking of what I know—in no spirit of resolution before it, to which everybody partly agreed and no- spoliation. I know that a large proportion of the working body could assent, even a steady resolve to modify the Bill could classes have a deep and solemn conviction—and I have found scarcely be expected. At all events, it was not manifested, it among working people of religious views—that property is and the few amendments we may yet have will be dictated not distributed as property ought to be ; that some checks- by no settled policy, carry out no preconceived resolve. As a ought to be kept upon the accumulation of property in single House, the Lords will only register the Bill. hands ; that to take away by a legislative enactment that Part at least of the failure of the House was due to the which is in excess with a view to bestow it on those who have failure of Earl Grey, whose resolution was an absurdity, a insufficient means, is not a breach of any law, human or declaration that the House disliked the Bill and would pass it divine." They would not attack property violently, they would nevertheless, and whose speech was, to an inexplicable degree, plunder no one, but they would accept a legislation fatal to its. unworthy alike of his reputation and his intellect. It was a accumulation in few hands. The times were full of changes. bad House of Commons speech, the gist of which was that We had grown too wealthy, too numerous, too ambitious for the Bill had been hastily and inconsiderately passed—as if our old institutions. There was respect still felt for them, anybody had talked of anything else for a session—and the but no willingness to encounter sacrifice in their defence. main point was that it is not decent to abolish compounding, They, like everything else, were considered open to question, which is parochially advantageous, merely to facilitate a Re- liable to be " ripped up " by inquiry, and the people who of form Bill which is, or ought to be, advantageous to the nation. all others were most inclined to change were made by this Surely his Lordship is not serious, or is this a mode of throwing Bill absolute masters, and masters at a time when steam and TOPICS OF THE DAY. contempt upon Reform in the abstract ? Certainly, if a system of farming the rates of certain parishes is to stand irr ' its way, Reform is not worth the trouble which has been ex- THE DEBATE IN THE LORDS. pended in carrying it. The debate was restored to its true- THE debate in the Lords on the Reform Bill has not been character by Lord Carnarvon, who made a most dignified' quite worthy of the reputation of the House, or of its defence of his own exceptional position, and described with- position in the country. Individual Peers have made con- curious felicity the main change which the Bill must intro- siderable speeches, two of them, Lords Carnarvon and Shaftes- duce. The same men, he said, ought to be returned to the- bury, have made great speeches, but as a legislative body the House of Commons ; but there " will be all the difference- Lords have seemed rather at sea. Two long nights of talk, between the same men now and then, as there is between an- very eloquent, very polished, and very purposeless talk, leave actor who speaks to the boxes and an actor who speaks to the- no distinct impression of what they want or what they par- gallery." He pointed out, and he was the only Peer who did ticularly dislike. Of course, the public knows the wants and point out, that the new franchise would revolutionize much of dislikes of the Peers in a general way well enough. They the county representation, and utterly denied that Household want abuses amended very carefully, and they dislike political Suffrage had ever been the secret faith of Conservative' changes which may have social effects. But the public hoped Cabinets or the Conservative party. If it had been, then, for a little more light than they already had, for some definite " indeed, the whole life of the great party to which I have the. information as to the impression which the only body of English honour to belong had been an organized hypocrisy." He- politicians unfettered by constituencies, and uninfluenced by denounced the Chancellor of the Exchequer as having "slid threats of dissolution, had formed of Mr. Disraeli's proposed down through broken securities, through specious principles, revolution. Is it bad or good, beyond the reach of amend- through Ministerial inconsistencies, into the utter, demoralize-- meat or within it, an advance upon the past or a chasm cut tion of all parties ;" in lofty language protested against carry- between the past and future ? The House did not know, or ing a revolution by " breaking up the foundations of political at events did not collectively attempt to say. Not one hearty faith," and declared, with ironical forbearance, that "if" speech was made for the Bill, — for Lord Derby's two he had wished " to speak bitterly he might have quoted deliverances were most perfunctory affairs, the first being a the speeches with which Mr. Disraeli " drove the iron cynical statement of the party reasons for the measure, the into the soul " of Sir Robert Peel. His speech must hava second an attack on Lord Carnarvon — and half a dozen stung Lord Derby deeply, for his reply was in substance- hearty speeches were delivered against it, yet the second an attack on Lord Carnarvon, whose "animosity he could reading passed without a division, and nobody knows not dread after encountering his friendship." " God help. whether any amendments will be carried, or what form those who are subjected to the outpouring of the venom of they are likely to assume. We gather from all that was said his wrath." He compared his late colleague to Revenge in and from the cheers which followed particular sentences, that Collins's Ode, who " the war-denouncing trumpet took, and the House submits to the Bill without approving it, that it blew a blast so loud and dread, were ne'er prophetic sounds- would rather have reached Household Suffrage by steps, that so full of woe," and altogether proved beyond question how it distrusts the Redistribution scheme as inadequate, and that greatly his oratory benefits by the stimulus of wrath. But he it would like the cumulative vote if it could get it easily, but said nothing about the Bill which suggested any enthusiasm that it does not mean to act upon any of these ideas except the for its success. last. There is not a great deal of help in all that for those who Next to Lord Carnarvon's, perhaps even before Lord Car- think the Bill might be amended into a great measure, and narvon's, Lord Shaftesbury's was the speech of the two nights' not much hope for those who dislike it altogether. The last debate. The noble Lord rose altogether out of his usual_ chance of improvement lay in the Lords, and the Lords intellectual position. No one throughout these five months- seem inclined to say that the matter is too weighty for their of discussion, we say deliberately no„oue, not Lord Cranborne, consideration. They doubt, and distrust, and dislike, cheer or Mr. Lowe, or Lord Carnarvon, has given such full and elo- speeches which predict evil, sit silent under speeches with a quent expression to the dying beliefs once held so strongly by little more hope, point to this defect and that risk, lament the great English Conservative party. Using with the highest this lost clause and sigh for that abandoned check, and grow effect his unique personal knowledge of the " residuum,' almost enthusiastic in denouncing the want of principle which the knowledge accumulated through a life of philanthropic has carried such a measure up to their House, but for all that effort, Lord Shaftesbury uttered no word of dislike or or appears they are not prepared to do anything, except what is very scorn for the class whose claim he was denying. He small. They are like the Chorus in a Greek tragedy, conscious would, he said, welcome a chimney-sweep as Premier of a position independent alike of actors and spectators, but if he were worthy of the Premiership, and he knew forbidden by the very law of that position to do more than Household Suffrage was inevitable, but he would have spent criticize and explain. " 0 pitiless destiny Alas for the the ten years of grace a seven-pound franchise might have ! alas for the people ! Lo, even gods obey Necessity !" this secured in educating the residuum to the level of its destiny_ is their melancholy, and to modern ears their somewhat feeble He asked scornfully of what that residuum, that deep-lying song. It is a moan they give out, not an articulate sound, still vein of gold " were expected to be conservative ? Of the electricity have so bound the masses together that every gust of emotion rolls like an irresistible wave over a broad level • surface. The movement was not a revolt against what was, 'but a rush towards a new ideal; "If you tell people this or that is good, they admit it, but maintain that a better is obtainable." The real sentiment of English Conservatives, —a fear that the transfer of political power is but the beginning of changes in which even the tenure of property will be involved,—a dislike to changes made for the sake of an ideal was never more clearly or more ably expressed than by a man who in the same !breath adjured the Peers to adhere to the country, that is, to public life, even if England became utterly democratic. We need not say we think Lord Shaftesbury's prophecies far too ;gloomy, the ambition of which he speaks being simply a force, and bad or good according to its direction, but he spoke with genuine sympathy, if not for the liberties of the people, at least for their depressed condition, and in the midst of his vaticinations of woe implied that if the Bill remedied that, he for one could accept Democracy. He speaks with the force of -that sympathy, with a knowledge which, at least among Peers, 1s unique, and his speech will shake the faith ofIthe Squires in Mr. Disraeli and his measure as it has never been shaken yet.

The single great speech in favour of the Bill was made by Lord Cairns, but a less Conservative speech was never made in the Peers. It was a speech which might have served as a :splendid defence for universal suffrage.

I certainly do not at all entertain the gloomy views relative to this measure which were announced by my noble friend behind me last night. I will not use the term to which the late President of the Council objected—I mean the word "hobgoblin." But there is a very agreeable writer, with whose works I am sure my noble friend behind me is acquainted, who tells a story of a certain philosopher who used to eat a Chimera for breakfast every morning ; and that is a kind of food the taste for which is very apt, I am afraid, to grow and increase. My noble friend, in words the eloquence of which we must all acknow- ledge, described the way in which the broad and sensitive surface of public opinion in this country would vibrate in response to the gusts of passion which might at times sweep over it. I have no doubt of the effect which gusts of popular passion might produce, but I want to know whether such an effect might not be produced at the present moment! When the broad and sensitive surface of public opinion vibrates now to the gusts of popular passion, is our present representa- tive assembly altogether free from their influence ? I wish to ask my noble friend which of the two things he looks upon as the safer—that in -times when the passions and prejudices of the people of a country are -stirred to their depths there should be added to those passions and prejudices a feeling—perhaps a bitter feeling—that they could not find legitimate expression in a representative assembly, or, on the other hand, a feeling that whatever those passions and prejudices might be, 'those who entertained them would be represented in Parliament by men who would give firm and•full expression to their sentiments? My noble friend says that changes such as that which is now proposed are often the prelude to revolution. I have not so read history. I venture to 'think that it is ranch more accurate to describe great changes of this kind as having led to revolution because they were not made wisely and in good time.

Is it possible to conceive that an argument like that, an :argument which involves a whole philosophy, an argument which instinctively occurs only to men of the true Liberal :temperament, can have impressed itself suddenly upon Lord Cairns ? Yet it is but a year since he won a coronet by eloquent resistance to Democracy, by denying that there was aught but danger in the course which he now describes as the only path of safety. Has Lord Cairns, the representative of Orangemen, Tory among Tories, been a secret Liberal all this time, or has he been suddenly converted ? is he politically selfish, or only politically weak ? Nothing can be sounder than his new creed, but we cannot but doubt whether even the establishment of such a faith is not dearly purchased at the cost of so much trust in the honour of public men. It is hard to doubt after reading this speech that Lord Cairns, perhaps the ablest, certainly we should have said one of the most upright, of living Tories, has risen to power by suppressing the nobler portion of his intellectual nature, has seen for years the wider policy and argued for years in defence of the narrower one, has tried to exaggerate fears he 'knew to be unreal, has driven away from power classes whose admission to power he felt would ensure the safety of the State. No force of reasoning, no brilliancy of eloquence can palliate such political reticence, and it is with a feeling of deep regret that we must henceforth class Lord Cairns among those great lawyers to whom a political creed has always -seemed nothing but a brief held in a very weighty cause. The total effect of the debate, of Lord Derby's cynicism, and Lord Shaftesbury's apprehensions, Lord Carnarvon's dig- nified invective and the Duke of Argyll's scathing commentary, will be, we believe, to deepen the general conviction of the necessity of Reform; to increase the general distrust in the working of this Bill, and to weaken still further the public belief in the sincerity and the disinterestedness of public men. Lord Derby, as he himself almost admitted, resolved on a revolution " in order to dish the Whigs," Lord Cairns acknoidedges that he declaimed against Democracy while deeming that power would steady instead of inflaming the people, and the House of Lords passes a Bill to reconstruct the Constitution in which not a single Peer will avow that he cordially believes. If ultimately we gather grapes of those thorns, extract sweetness from those stenches, the creed of the optimist, who believes that England can survive any loss, even the loss of public principle, will receive a new justification.