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Notining can be more remarkable, Reform Bill was virtually thrown out or fraught with more important po- by the vote of the House of Lords litical instruction, than the present on Lord Lyndhurst's motion, and the state of this country, and the aspect Whigs returned to power after a reof parties in the middle of the second signation of a week, on the shoulders session of the Reformed Parliament. of the revolutionary party in the If any person will take the trouble three kingdoms. Let any man revert to consider the temper of the public to the language, the hopes, the termind, and the language of the popu- rors of that moment, and he will lar leaders, at that period, and com- hardly believe his own senses if he pare it with what he now sees around reads, or his memory if he recollects him, he will hardly conceive it pos. them. It is hard to say whether the sible that he is living in the same Whig nobility, the public press, or age of the world; and still less com- the Radical orators, were foremost prehend the causes which, in so short in revolutionary language and anara time, have led to so violent a transi. chical measures. Resistance to the tion, and converted the impassioned payment of taxes was openly recomsupporters of popular power at that mended by those whose rank, properiod, into the violentenemies of de- perty, and consideration entitled mocratic pretensions in this. If the ihem to step forward as the leaders language of public men, and the ob. of the people; the swamping of the jects of party ambition, have changed, Upper House by the creation of eighty how much more has the public effer new Peers was fiercely advocated, vescence diminished, and how im- and incessantly pressed upon Minimeasurably different are the pros- sters, by the whole popular part of pects of the country now, from what the public press; treason and sedithey were at that disastrous epoch! tion openly spouted forth at public Much matter of consolation is to be meetings, in every great city of the found in the retrospect-much in- empire, amidst thunders of applause; struction as to the progress of poli the emblem of Revolution and anartical change in a free state-much chy, the tricolor flag, paraded amidst light as to the quarter from which insulting thousands, to whom the gloalone, in a crisis such as we are un ries of the English standard seemed dergoing, ultimate salvation is to be unknown; the Queen of England reobtained.
minded, amidst radical yells, that a It is now just two years since the fairer head than hers had rolled unVOL. XXXV, NO, CCXXIII.
der the scaffold; a run with infernal It is no small matter, that two sesactivity kept upon the Bank, which sions of Parliament have been nearly in three days brought society, in this got over--the two sessions likely to vast commercial state, to the verge be the most perilous, from the heatof dissolution; and vast assemblages ed state of the public mind when it of organized men convened in the first assembled, and the extravagant great manufacturing towns, for the expectations which were afloat as to avowed purpose of overawing both the unlimited blessings which were the Crown and the hereditary branch to descend upon society from the of the Legislature. All this was done Reform Bill— without any of the great amidst tumults of applause from the institutions of society having been public press-the Whig leaders and overthrown, or any farther important the popular meetings, the whole na change having been made in the contion resounded with revolutionary stitution than the immense one which projects-menacing language was in that Bill effected. It is no small matevery liberal mouth-Government ter, that the fierce collision of paritself was at the head of the move. ties has exhausted itself, without ment-Bristol burned for three days, blood having been shed, or property as a sample of what commercial opu- confiscated ;-those cruel and irrerolence had to expect from popular cable measures, which so often renfury--the sack of Nottingham Castle der the progress of disaster irrepa. warned the Aristocracy of the fate rable, by mixing up private revenge which awaited them — the whole with public passion. It is no small foundations of society appeared to matter, that while the progress of be torn up, and England about to be conflagration in Great Britain has delivered over to the whirlwind of been so slow, the downward proanarchy, which had so recently laid gress of the Revolution of the Barriwaste the neighbouring kingdom, cades has been so rapid, that the and consigned the accumulations of fumes of Republican enthusiasm, by ages, the institutions of centuries, to which so many of the strongest heads one common ruin.
in Britain were then swept away, Two years have passed away, and have been drowned in blood, and what are the prospects of a country the downfall of the mild and conthen, to all human foresight, on the stitutional sway of the Restoration borders of a convulsion fraught with followed by a military despotism so unexampled horrors to all classes ? oppressive, and a prostration of freeThat the danger is over, no one will dom so complete, that eveq faction assert; that the seeds of ultimate can allege nothing in its defence, destruction are not sown, no wise but the necessity of extirpating the man will affirm; but that the pro. very principles on which itself is gress of dissolution has hitherto been founded. All this is in the highest much slower than was anticipated, degree consolatory; and if it does or than the progress of the French not afford reason as yet to conclude Revolution gave us reason to expect that the seeds of ultimate ruin were is now abundantly proved by expe- not sown by the Revolution of 1832, rience. The great institutions of so- it at least demonstrates, that the ciety, though seriously menaced, strength of the patient is resolutely still exist; the Church is hitherto grappling with the disease, and gives untouched, and its enemies, despair. ground for the hope, that Great Briing of success in open hostility, hare tain may yet surmount the crisis, rererted to the insidious project of and evince, in a green old age, the undermining it, by sowing the seeds vigour of the constitution which had of discord in its protecting Univer- so long survived so dreadfula malady. sities; the Funds, the Corn Laws, But if the slow progress hitherto the right of Primogeniture, the made in revolutionary measures, and House of Peers, are threatened in the vigour of the resistance opposed deed, but not overthrown; and the by the Conservative party to their Radical body in the Legislature, how progress, affords subject for conseforniidably soever increased by the lation, how much greater is the comReform Bill, can as yet be kept in fort to be derived from the altered subjection by a cordial union of the temper of the public mind, and the two other great parties in the State. cooled language which even the advocates of the Movement now put ference of the Conservatives, who forth upon all the great subjects that have always opposed, to the Whigs, agitate society! That is the material who have supported only to betray feature; because the influence of them ? public opinion is now so great, and But this is not all. Society is comthe multitude who are brought to posed of individuals; public opinion, bear on public affairs so immense, of which so much is said, is nothing that it is in the views and feelings but the aggregate of the thoughts of of the great body of the people that private men,--the loud reverberation we must look both for the elements of what you hear at the fireside, and of power, and the shadows which discuss at the social board. Now, coming events cast before. Now judging by this standard, how great nothing is so extraordinary as the is the change of general thought change in this particular which is within the two last eventful years ? observable not only in the organs We speak not of the decided repubof general discussion, but the opi- licans, the hardened Jacobins, men nions of private men. Open the whom no experience will convince, public and once popular prints—the no suffering reclaim; they will live Times, the Globe, ihe Morning He- and die the same, roaring out for rald, or even the Courier; and you equality alike amidst the smoke of will find the Whigs now coercing the Barricades as the ruins of Lyons; and chastising their former allies insensible to suffering, inaccessible with far more severity than the Con. to reason, equally when the Bastile, servatives ever used towards them in the outset of their transports, unselves in the days of their revolution folded its six inmates, and St Michel, ary triumph. All that was then urged in their close, enveloped its six hunwith such irresistible force of argu- dred victims. But abstracting from ment, and such total want of success, this insane and irreclainable class, against popular orators, democratic who fortunately are still a small unions, political agitation, public minority in this country, how great credulity, and republican ambition, is the change of opinion among the by the Conservative organs who had numerous body who were seduced the courage to face the tempest, is by the flattering language and lavish now poured forth with an unblush- promisos of the Liberals, and now ing effrontery by the sycophantic have had their eyes opened to the renegades who direct the Ministerial practical tendency of their measures! press, against the very men who if you speak to them of the Whigs raised the Whigs to power. As much as compared to the Tories of a as they formerly adulated the rabble, reformed, as contrasted with an undo they now reprobate them; as reformed Parliament, they will promuch as they once applauded agita. bably still revert to their former detion, do they now condemn it; as lusions : but upon the necessity of much as they then supported Revo- resisting the Movement in the ablutionary, do they now occasionally stract, putting down O'Connell and cling to Conservative principles. The the Irish dismemberers, resisting the inconsistency of such men is a mat. Trades' Unions, and getting society ter of no sort of importance-the back to its old and tranquil form, material thing is, that such is either they are as Conservative as heart the altered state of society, or the could wish. They would, therefore, changed temper of the public mind, be the first to condemn, in no meathat they are obliged to have recourse sured terms, the principles, if utterto so disgraceful a dereliction, and ed by others, which they themselves feel that Government can go on on put forth with such vehemence two no other than Conservative princi. years ago. Every person must ples. Can it be wondered at that have seen numerous examples, in the really sincere and zealous re his own observation, of this change; publicans, the men who use revolu- men of respectable character, and tionary language, not as an instru. even eminence in their respective ment of party, but a means, as they professions, but who, from defect of blindly imagine, of social ameliora historical information, were unable tion, are utterly disgusted by such to discern the fallacy of the sophisms conduct, and openly avow their pre- by which they were assailed, and
were in consequence swept away by to keep out of Schedules A and B, the Reform torrent, and now exert the Whigs would be utterly annihithemselves, too often in vain, to lated. Such a result is now, we beavert the serious consequences to lieve, generally contemplated, and themselves and their children, which by none with more conviction of its the levelling principles, which then likelihood than the Whigs them. acquired so fearful an ascendency, selves. Such a result, ensuing so have produced. It is the return of soon after the transports of the Rethis numerous and estimable class, if form Bill, is extremely remarkable, not to the pame, at least to the prin- not merely as a most important ciples, of the Conservatives, which stage in our own history, but as a forms the grand characteristic of the memorable fact in political science, last six months, and opens more We have now arrived at that stage cheering prospects to the country of the progress, when facts of suffithan any which have dawned upon cient importance have occurred to it since the fall of the Duke of Wel. warrant some conclusions, and a lington's administration.
slight anticipation can be formed of The effect of this change has been the nature of the journey on which most conspicuous in all the elections we set out during the darkness and which have taken place since the delusions of the Reform mania. general one which was determined That the disease with which we by the Reform mania. Out of six have been, and still are aflicted, was teen contested elections which have the true Revolutionary fever, must occurred, eleven have terminated in be obvious to the most careless obthe triumph of the Conservatives, server. The symptoms by which it four in that of the Radicals, and one was attended, the restless desire for in that of the Whigs. The narrow innovation by which it was preceded, majority at Leeds, the marked defeat the total disregard of experience by at Dudley, the still more memorable which it was distinguished, the pub. and decisive overthrow in Perthshire, lic terrors by which it was accomindicate the increasing dissatisfaction panied, the extravagant hopes to at their conduct even among the which it led, the guilty ambition new constituencies-the men who which it generated, were all the were called into political life by the symptoms, and the worst symptoms, Reform Bill. The change in opinion of Revolutionary passion. Nor is it among the clothiers of Yorkshire, the only by the expression of thought ironmongers of Staffordshire, and the and feeling that the existence of this ten-pounders of Perthshire, have dreadful malady, to a most alarming been equally remarkable. Great extent, has been demonstrated. The must have been the disappointment, conduct, the public acts of the Radienormous the amount of previous cals, bave amply vindicated their delusion, bitter the sense of present title to the execrable distinction of mortification, which in so short a being classed with the Jacobins of period as eighteen months could have France, by future and impartial his. produced so extraordinary a result. tory. If half the measures which If a dissolution were to take place they have proposed, and supported now, it is impossible to prophesy the with their whole influence and abi. result with any sort of certainty; lity, both in and out of Parliament, because much would depend on had been carried into effect, they whether any captivating and delusive would ere now bave torn the empire topic could be presented to the pub. in pieces, and precipitated us, beyond lic fancy: but in the absence of any the chance of redemption, into the such extraneous aid, there appears gulf of Revolution. The Irish demaevery probability that the present gogues would bave dismembered constitution of Parliament would be the empire, and established an indeessentially altered; that the Radical pendent legislature-in other words, party on the one hand, and the Con- à hostile Republic-almost within servative on the other, would both sight of the shores of Britain. The be materially strengthened; but that, English and Scotch Revolutionists with the exception of thirty or forty would bave pulled down the Church close boroughs or counties in their Establishment in both countries, and own interest, which they contrived delivered over a Christian State to
the dreams of enthusiasm, or the has taken among our people, and its wretchedness of infidelity. If they consequent early interference with, had not been vigorously met and re- and severe encroachment upon, the sisted, the repeal of the Corn Laws vested pecuniary interests of the would have spread distress far and most respectable members of every wide through the whole agricultural class of society. This is a circumclasses, through them depressed im- stance of the very utmost importance measurably the commercial inte. with reference to the future progress rests, and rendered the ultimate pre- of political change; and here, as elseservation of national faith impossible where, we may perceive, that to be from the labouring condition of all exposed to calamity is not always classes of the people. They would to be unfortunate, and that true wishave destroyed the independence of dom in political, not less than pri. the hereditary Legislature, by the vate life, is often to be learned ra. creation of a hundred new Peers, ther in the storms of adversity than and reduced the Crown to the dis- the sunsbine of prosperity, grace of itself revoking the benefi- That Revolution will ultimately cence of past sovereigns ; in other fall with unmitigated severity upon words, submitting to the last humi. all classes; that the greatest of all liation of prostrated authority. With sufferers by the changes it induces all this we have been threatened, will be the lowest; and that the childand are threatened; from all this we ren and children's children of the have hitherto made only a narrow infatuated people, to the third and escape; and if the empire has been fourth generation, will lament with brought to the verge of destruction unavailing tears the sins and preci. by the Reforming, it has been pitance of their fathers, is a proposnatched from the gulf solely by the sition so clearly deducible from efforts of the Conservative, party. principle, and so uniformly proved
How then has it happened that by experience, that it may be consia nation, seized as this has been dered as one of the few axioms of with a Revolutionary fever, and that political science. Never was this too of the most malignant kind, great truth more clearly illustrated bas bitherto been spared any violent than it now is in France, where, after convulsion ? that, abandoned by its forty years of revolutionary convulGovernment, seduced by too many sions, the working classes are driven of its higher orders, left to struggle by suffering into annual revolts of alone with the malady, it has sur. frightful magnitude, and the cries of vived apparently the worst crisis, a suffering population are stifled by and exbibits new symptoms of a military despotism, so severe, that amendment in public thought which compared to it the ancient rule of the warmest patriot could hardly the monarchy, with all its faults, was have hoped for two years ago ? The as an age of freedom. But the great question is of the most interesting danger is, that this truth is perceived kind, not only with reference to our too late to check the progress of the own prospects, but the great cause evil ; that before suffering has of truth and freedom throughout the brought wisdom to the mass of the world ; and without pretending people, irreparable changes have either to affirm that the danger is been made-institutions, the bul. over, or that time has sufficiently warks of freedom, overthrown in the elucidated the whole causes which first fervour of innovation-passions have been in operation, there are of unquenchable violence excited by three circumstances which appear the mutual infliction of irreparable cbiefly remarkable, as having dis- injury, and interests inconsistent tinguished the progress of this coun- with the ultimate establishment, try under the political distemper, either of civil liberty or public profrom that of other States in similar sperity, created by the triumph of circumstances, and to the combined guilty democratic ambition. Where operation of which the present cheer- this has been the case, as it generally ing prospects of amendment are, so is, with a people delivered over for far as we can yet see, to be ascribed. their sins to revolutionary passions,
I. The first of these is the practical amendment is impossible, hope is tendency which the Reforming mania extinguished; and the nation is irre