Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

now is prepared to guard, if need be, at the point of the sword ready, on unendurable indignity, to leap from the scabbard, yet unwilling to be stained with the blood of the base, although spouting from the veins of traitors and rebels, all sweltering with

venom.

But the same ruffian attacks—not confined to words-will be made again on the Peers-the same that Lord Althorp probably meant to allude to, when t'other day he spoke so gingerly about the freedom of discussion in a free country on a great national question like that of Reform. Some violence was not to be wondered at.

But other violence ought to be put down and punished-for it is shameful to the Government. Some of its members have encouraged such outrages, and may erelong themselves become victims to their own mob. Here is a powerful extract to that purpose.

"Is it upon these pretences that their Lordships are next told, that if they rejected this Bill through the fear of being thought afraid, the people of England would hate them?' But what if they rejected the Bill, not through fear of being thought afraid, but through the wise and statesmanlike fear of its dreadful and revolutionary consequences? It is not in the nature of the people of England to hate those men, who, acting upon their principles, and maintaining their own honour, do that which in their consciences they believe to be for the interests of their common country. It is a strange argument for the Chancellor of England to predict the hatred of the people of England as likely to fall on the heads of such men. It is not the argument of peace; nor will I so far be a libeller of the people of England as to admit that the prediction is one of truth. But if the hatred of the people of England is to be predicted, it is not difficult to foresee upon what class of men it will fall. It will fall on those who, knowing their duty, have not dared to perform it; on men who have timidly shrunk from an avowal of their opinions and the maintenance of their principles, and who, thinking to avoid present obloquy, or purchase ignominious rest, will find peace poorly promoted by timorous practices, and hatred little alleviated by being mingled with contempt. It will fall on magistrates who have allowed the laws to slumber which it was their duty to awaken, and to administer with energy as

well as with humanity, for the protection of the lives and properties of their fellow-citizens. It will fall on legislators

who have temporized with their consciences, and withheld their votes, and thought, if haply they could think it, that the question of a nation's government was one on which the makers of its laws might shun the responsibility of decision. It will fall on all those who, in whatever station of life, have given their support and countenance, whether of passive acquiescence or of energetic aid, to schemes of fraud, hypocrisy, delusion, and violence-on members of Parliament-members of a high deliberative council, bound by every consideration of duty, of conscience, and of honour; of duty to their country, their own characters, and their God, to reflect on all the difficulties, and perpend all the objections, and anxiously and carefully to deliberate, to the utmost of their power, on any measure upon which, as lawgivers, they might be called upon to decide, and who, nevertheless, on this, the most important measure which ever was submitted to the vigilant eye of any legislature, without any consideration of their solemn duty, or, if considering it, utterly disregarding it and setting it aside, pledged themselves, in the face of noisy multitudes, not to examine, and sift, and scrutinize, not to weigh nicely, and balance accurately, and separating the bad from the good, if haply good were to be found, to eschew the one, and give effect to the other, but to vote blindly and resolutely for the whole, and no alteration of the most unrighteous measure which was ever invented by the spirit of party for the beguiling of a free people.

"I did not use the word hatred; but if it be to be used, these are they on whom it will fall. It will fall also on the Ministers of the King; men, whose first duty being to support the laws, and protect the property, and maintain the rights of the liege subjects of the King their mas ter, have proposed a measure to the Parliament, which strikes directly at the root of all law, violates the sacred rights of property, and breaks down and tramples upon long-used privileges, not only without any adequate recompense, either of public or of private advantage, but with open scorn and contumely to those who are thus at once robbed and insulted, and the most imminent peril to the peace and security of the common weal. who talk of prop erty, and yet disregard titles confirmed by a use of centuries, and sanctioned by the solemn decisions of the ablest judges of the law-who plead for the right of all who pay taxes to an equal

Men

representation, and then, leaving threefourths of the inhabitants unrepresented, expressly exclude all from any share in the elections, who are not distinguished by the possession of an arbitrary and a novel qualification-who, professing a tenderness for popular rights, deny to the poor voters any future voice in returning members to Parliament-and who, justifying that exclusion on the ground of their having abused the trust, leave those who have abused it, in the possession of it, and deprive those who never have abused it all-men who, in their attempt to do all these things, as absurd as they are dangerous, have signally failed to make out any case, and to lay any grounds for their great measure of innovation, either by impugning the present constitution of Parliament, as compared with that which has existed at any other time, either in this or any other country, or by pointing to any promised definite good as the probable result of this speculative change but who, on the contrary, all the time that they are plotting its re-construction, call the House of Commons that now is, 'the most noble assembly of freemen in the civilized world;'* and with great truth, but marvellous and heedless inconsistency, speak of the character it had obtain ed of being the pride of the country, the admiration of sages, and an object of vain imitation to all other nations.' It is thus that they scatter their flowers and their fillets, and gild the horns of the victim which they are leading to the sacrifice. But let us hear no more of men being hated for doing their duty."

Father of his people. Who vilified with insatiable malignity the character of George the Fourth? The Reformers. Who shockingly insulted the dying Duke of York-the Soldier's Friend? The Reformers. Who, worse than the worst extortioners, have unnaturally lied against the Duke of Cumberland, because he is a Tory Prince? The Reformers. Who insinuated strange things of the late Lord High Admiral of England, whom now they call the Modern Alfred-basely comparing a kind and good King, whose coronation robes are but a few months old, with him whose name has been gathering glory for a thousand years? The Reformers. From the French Revolutiondown to this hour-who have in their

hearts and souls loved Monarchy and the King? The Tories. Their loyalty encircled both with a wall of fire. Read the following noble passageand in the steadfast enthusiasm inspired by such eloquence, the hearts of patriots will be confident in the cause of their Country and Constitution!

"It must be clear to any mind, capable of reflecting on the political events of modern history, that in the great contest between democracy and constituted authority, France has ever been the leader of European discord, and French principles the tactics by which the moral phalanx has been marshalled and arrayed. In the days of the old French Revolution, there arose two men in Europe of sufficient ta

The Reformers are now-a-days all the most loyal of the loyal-many of lent and hardy virtue to battle with the Sovereign lord the

them, before our

'Tis not

King, slavering slaves. easy, under any circumstances, to act well a new character-when crossgrained to nature, impossible. The awkwardness of the original cub of a Cockney disgusts through the clumsy assumption of the Christian gentleman. Whigs and Radicals cut a queer figure as heinous their hatred of King George Loyalists. How the Third, whose indomitable courage saved the throne! What scorn assailed his manners, his morals, his domestic habits, his fireside life! Yet were they all manly, simple, and pure spite of all libellers and lampooners regal-and in "on the other side of the House," affection and reverence waited on the

-in the noblest sense

demon of confusion in its youthful ener-
gies, and to save the people, in spite of
their insanity. Those two men were the
citizens of one country, and the only one
in the modern world which, for long
series of happy years, had enjoyed the
blessings of free government.
This very
freedom had led to some differences of
opinion between these great men, the
memory of which, now merged in a sense
of the common danger, seemed to prove
the disinterestedness of their present ef-
forts, and to sanctify their simultaneous
exertions for the salvation of their com-
mon country. That country was Eng-
land-those men were Mr Pitt and Mr
Burke. They were none of those mi-
serable shuffling trading politicians, who,
seeking to patch up a system for their
own sordid and temporary advantage, are
content to compromise the eternal prin-

*Speech of Sir James Graham, in the late Parliament

Lord Grey's speech on moving the second reading of the Reform Bill, Oct. 3, 1831.

ciples of all society and all government, for a brief and unhonoured season of an insecure and tottering power. They saw that the cause of peace, and order, and property, and religion, and law, was the cause of England; but that it was a cause which could only be defended by a union of the old governments of Europe. They saw that the spirit which had levelled temple and tower, would never rest while an altar remained undesecrated, or a legitimate throne existed for a temptation to its cupidity. They saw that to this spirit, law was an insult, and property crime. They therefore laid the great foundations of a work, which had for its object the preservation of the peace of Europe, by the suppression of democratic violence, and the maintenance of the happiness of the nations, by a firm opposition to all tyrannies, whether of mobs or of despots. It was, indeed, a holy work, but it was undertaken in no romantic mood, nor prosecuted on any abstract principles of vague and theoretic policy. It was not commenced, till, in the words of the father of his people, the Assembly, then exercising the powers of government in France, had, without previous notice, directed acts of hostility to be committed against the persons and property of his Majesty's subjects, in breach of the law of nations, and of the most positive stipulations of treaty, and had since, on the most groundless pretences, declared war against his Majesty and the United Provinces.' It was then that England drew the sword which she sheathed on the evening of Waterloo. The chief spirits had, indeed, passed away. Burke and Pitt were laid low; but they did not leave their places destitute, nor their principles unasserted and Perceval, and Castlereagh, and Liverpool, and Canning, rising up and following, alas! in too rapid a succession, and working by the lines traced by those master-builders, filled up the prophetic sketch of the great edifice of England's glory. There are yet other names, which should be added to the list of those who have realized the visions of Burke, and the hopes of England's chosen minister. But they still live and I have a foolish antipathy against writing the praises of an existing generation. Englishmen know in whom they have

:

"And now, let it not be thought, that at the time when England was arming in defence of her own people and the rights of good government, she had no internal enemies to contend with, or that there were no Zoilitish critics of her own happy constitution, who vied with the Jacobins of Paris in vilifying her institutions, and bringing false accusations against her parliaments. No; the work of preserving the Government and liberties of England was done in defiance of domestic as well as of foreign fees. Then, too, were there Parliamentary Reformers; and Mr Grey was their youthful leader; then, too, were corresponding societies; and Mr Grey was their faithful correspondent; then, too, were there clubs, and unions, and associations of Friends of the People, and the prime minister of England did not correspond with them; but Mr Grey was the boon companion of the sots and drunkards of unmixed liberty, which is unmitigated madness, and the foreman of the Helotism of their democratic revelries, and their humble organ in the Commons' House of Parliament.

trusted, and in whom their confidence has not been misplaced. They know to whose arm they are indebted for their national existence and they will still look with hope, as well as with gratitude, to that brave man,

Cui Laurus æternos honores Dalmatico peperit triumpho.'

"But that House of Commons had not so learned their duty as to quail before mobs and newspapers; nor so read the book of the English constitution, as to suppose that a French model was the properest die for the re-casting of the institutions of Great Britain. The Russells, and the Greys, and the Lennoxes, still hallooed on the rabble of Manchester, and Derby, and Palace Yard; but Burke wrote, and Pitt frowned them out of countenance, and preserved their properties and their titles in spite of their principles and their friends. It is good to recur once more to the testimony of a King, than whom, it is no disparagement to his successors to say, that none ever better understood the true interests of his country, nor pursued them with a steadier faith. He was addressing his Parliament previously to its prorogation in June, 1793, and immediately after Mr Grey's motion for referring the Reform petitions to a committee of the House of Commons had been rejected by a majority of 241. And he thus addressed them :

[blocks in formation]

to check every attempt to disturb the internal repose of these kingdoms.'

the peerage of France; and he will remember that a British monarch has not the power to annihilate the House of Lords, in imitation of the mongrel government of Paris. He will know that this was the very cause for which his servant Pitt contended in the beginning, and for which millions of his faithful subjects have laid down their brave lives, that the free constitution of England may not be contaminated by French principles,-principles which to-day are anarchy, to-morrow despotism; that the ark of the British constitution is embarked on a troubled sea, but that under the guidance of a wiser pilot, she has weathered a rougher storm; and that her sacred freight, the palladium of civil liberty, will never be swamped or shipwrecked, till those whose office is to steer her safely, turn her adrift upon the rocks and the quicksands, and disable her tackling and her rigging, and cast away her rudder from them till a minister of England, in imitation of a citizen king, nominates a parliament to betray his country."

"And if the sainted spirit of that good old King now looks down from his seat of everlasting repose, upon the land which he loved with a father's fondness, and governed with a father's care, albeit the throne on which he now sits, is one of peace, as his course below was one of righteousness, yet may pity haply find a place mid the pure essences of spiritual enjoyments, and while he contemplates with an angel's ken, the wrongs of his earthly kingdom, he may compassionate, though he cannot grieve. In vain will he look for the 'firmness,' 'wisdom,' and 'public spirit,' which had once been the objects of his commendation; but in their places he will perceive imbecility, rashness, and deadness of heart. In vain will he look to the servants of his son, the King, for a 'determination to support the established constitution,' which he and his servants faithfully supported, and which he and his son, and both his servants, had sworn a solemn oath to heaven, that they would defend to the uttermost of their power. He will see those who govern, labouring at nothing but to degrade in the eyes of the people the government to which they have sworn allegiance, and preaching up reverence and submission, where they have fostered insubordination and contempt. Will he look for any general concurrence on the part of his old subjects, in a determination on the part of their rulers' to check every attempt to disturb the internal re

pose of his old kingdoms?" No; for he will know that where a government is rebellious, the people will not be peaceable. And when he sees conflagration, and robbery, and rape, and sacrilege, he

will look to him with an eye of judgment, who, from the official seat of parliament, denounced the chief ministers of the pure faith of England's church to popular fury,

On the Peers the country relies with perfect confidence; and the revolutionary press, knowing that they are firm, have no hopes now but in their idol. But our trust in the King is more respectful than that of his sycophants, and therefore we fear not for the Constitution. After the display it has made for a year, or thereabouts, of its truculent and unprincipled spirit, the very populace must be suspicious of their press. It instigated that populace to crimes

which have been, and will be, severely punished; and should any of the miscreants be hanged that set fire to Bristol, and other places, they will, we hope, make the only reparation to society in their power, by

because in maintaining the interests of confessing the truth on the scaffold.

their country and of religion, they suffered their conduct to be guided by their

Their sense of right and wrong may not be so perverted, even by the

conscience. But yet after all these things crimes that have encircled their

nor

imagine that the

he will not despair,
glory of his son, the King, is near its
setting. There may be something of
began, reproof; but it will end as it

in pious benediction.

Heaven pardon thee, yet let me wonder, At thy affections, which do hold a wing

Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors.

[ocr errors]

An habitation giddy and unsure

Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.

Oh, thou fond many! with what loud applause,

Didst thou beat heaven with blessing Bolingbroke,

Before he was what thou wouldst have him be.'

necks with the fatal cord, as the many reprobate wretches, who, for weeks, kept telling the people of England in print, that all those enormities perpetrated in the Bright City, ought to be charged against that Judge who had the madness, or wickedness, duly to hold an Assize, in spite of the expressed anger against him in the breasts of the ragamuffin ruffians, who were unaccountably

and there he will find no shame. He their own hands. Sir Charles WeHe will look to the peers of parliament, suffered to take the jail-delivery into will compare the peerage of England with therell had insulted the L.10 house

holders, and therefore it was wickedness or madness in him to go Recorder to Bristol! The silly charge is false. He argued against the principle of the Bill, with great eloquence and learning, occasionally enlivening his main argument with the humanest merriment, which those matchless masters of the facete, the radical reporters and paragraph-men, called buffoonery-too coarse for their delicate and fastidious taste, accustomed as it is to the utmost polish of repartee, and the most exquisite refinement of satire. But Sir Charles Wetherell insulted nobody-no class of bodies; and the accusation is altogether a lie. Things have come to a pretty pass, when a few harmless jokes are said to be sufficient to justify criminals in murdering judges; yet what else in effect was said by almost all the ministerial papers, while Ministers themselves were mute? Thieves, robbers, incendiaries, ravishers, and murderers, resolved to dismember Sir Charles, because they could not endure the thought that the L.10 householders of Bristol should occasionally have been the object of his witticisms in Parliament! This is Cinna the poet-" tear him to pieces for his bad verses." This is Charley Wetherell -the wit-tear him to pieces for his bad jokes ; and this mob-law seemed reasonable to the Press! Why, the Lord Chancellor scatters round the woolsack his flowers of wit in great profusionsome of them rather prickly, like nettles or thistles; but the Press complains not of his being sometimes more witty than wise-more humorous than decorous; nor have we seen cursed and bann'd as ma

lignant, the union in him of the two characters of politician and judge. But the sensitive shopkeepers of Bristol must on no account be sneezed or sneered at by her Recorder. He must speak of them at all times and places with the profoundest respect, or lay his account, on his first visit, to be torn to pieces by their friends, the thieves and thimble-men, during an illumination got up to celebrate his

murder. Before such base sentiments could be uttered by the many hundreds of thousands who blamed Sir Charles for merely doing his duty, in spite of the friends and relatives of the wretched culprits whom he was

about to try, a revolution, one is almost tempted to say, must have taken place in the English mind. And we allude to such disgusting debasement now, because it was of a piece with the conduct of the same people towards the Peers, who were said richly to deserve any maltreatment they might meet with from the mob, in their persons or their property, whether the rabble might attempt to strike from his horse with stones one of our most distinguished cavalry officers, who had often charged the French in Spain, or to fling one of their noble benefactors over a bridge, or to set hall or castle on fire-so that it were but insult and injury to an Opposition

Peer.

And what, then, is the danger of again rejecting the Bill-the danger to the Peers? None but such as they have already despised-encountered-overcome-and even that much mitigated; for whatever may be the case with respect to the opinions (opinions!) of the populace on the Bill, there assuredly has been reaction of manly feeling, where it was not utterly extinct; courage, the characteristic quality of Englishmen, restored and revived, has shamed cruelty and cowardice out of countenance; and men are seen putting off the brute, even among the rabble of the radicals. The excitements of the press are getting stale and vapid; even the most senseless are becoming sick of the repetition of the same sounds, " full of noise and fury, signifying nothing;" the better informed, who are generally the better disposed, have been becoming more and more indignant at the cutting and shuffling of the cards in the hands of the revolutionists, who are afraid to play the game of their own choosing; and to a large and powerful body of Reformers, THE EDUCATED RADICALS, the Ministry are now objects of scorn and contempt. The populace are not now for the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill; and as for the people, the great majority of the people are against it, as has been proved elsewhere in this number of our work.

The fear may be great-and it is so among the pluckless-but the danger is small-and what if it were formidable, what would that matter

« IndietroContinua »