« VorigeDoorgaan »
nefit to the poor? In times of severe pressure, have they not cheerfully made, for the distressed, the noblest sacrifices? Who dares to say, that they give to the needy with a niggard hand, or that their hearts are cold, their hands shut to the charities of life? Not among them are to be found the cruel, hard-fisted landlords. Do not they give as much as any of the Reformers ever dream of giving, in the way of reduction of rents? And are they not the friends of their tenants, who know how to appreciate their justice and their generosity? Is there any thing noble in the character of a British gentleman, to which they may not fairly lay claim? Are they not in their ancestral halls, while engaged in the peaceful enjoyment of rural occupations, ever ready to lay down comforts and ease, and fly to serve their country, dyeing the sands or the seas with their blood? (Prodigious cheers.) I, therefore, boldly claim for the Conservative Party a sincere, zealous, and active affection for the people. But let no man seek imperatively to impose on us his conviction as to
the best means of promoting their happi
Their felicity, immediate and remote, is an exemption from such interests, as are by too many ignorantly represented to be their chief concern. It is a real moral aberration, in people of the ordinary callings in trades or professions, to take a passionate part in political affairs, and deserving of sharpest rebuke the shallow doctrine, that would make that the prime, almost the sole business, of the middling classes. Must I allow my understanding to be stormed by such arguments, as, that the chief business of the poor man is to attend to politics, or his best happiness to be found in elections? I know far better, that he has far other, higher, and holier duties imposed on him by nature; and if his heart is right, and his head is clear, while he is not indifferent to such subjects, there are a hundred others far more important: he may be reading one book, which tells him in what happiness consists, but to which I have seen but few allusions made by the Reformers of modern times. (Hear, hear, and cheering.) In reading those weatherstained pages, on which, perhaps, the sun of heaven had looked bright, while they had been unfolded of old on the hill side, by his forefathers of the Covenant, when environed with peril and death,-(great cheers)—he is taught at once religion towards his Maker, and not to forget the love and duty he owes to mankind,—to prefer deeper interests, because everlasting, to those transient turbulencies which now agitate the surface of society, but which, I hope, will soon subside into a calm, and leave the whole country as
peaceful as before. (Cheers.) I feel as certain as of my own existence, of the enlightened loyalty of the Conservative Party, of their enlightened attachment to the constitution; and that they respect and glory in all ranks; that they would not injure a hair of any poor man's head. (Cheers.) We are not people to speak in holes and corners. Such conduct is abhorrent to our very nature, and to our liyes, which are led in the open sunshine ; we come boldly forth, in the hearing of all the nation; and if these our sentiments are mean and contemptible, let them be torn into shreds, and trampled under foot. our sentiments are, to fear God and honour the King, and bear good will and affection to all our brethren of mankind."
These are not merely the strains of inspired genius: they are not merely "thoughts that breathe and words that burn;" they are the sober conclusions of wisdom and experience, clothed in language fitted to make them an object of admiration to all mankind. We have room only for one more extract: that of a passage where the Moral Philosopher speaks in generous and deserved terms of the dignified Prelates, who have incurred odium, as in all bad times, just in proportion to the magnitude of the service they have rendered to their country.
"We love and admire the simple and beautiful establishment of our own church. We do not wish it changed or touched. We hope never to see the day, when that edifice will be shaken, the foundations of which were cemented by the blood of the martyrs. (Great cheers.) But I know well, that your most sacred sympathies are ready to be awakened with the worthies of another establishment, founded on different principles, though noble and true to nature. I hope you will not look with an evil eye, but with eyes of admiration and reverence, on the church establishment of England, which is a richer country, and therefore, possessing richer endowments. That establishment has produced as many good and great men,—as many men of genius, learning, wisdom, and piety, as any religious establishment ever did; and their names are among the most splendid that adorn the records of human intellect.(Cheers.)-And, I maintain, there never was a time, when there were so many men in it, who have raised themselves by their scholarship from the humblest ranks, to the highest honours of their holy profession. I have the honour of knowing many of them myself personally, and have seen them pursuing their noble career of academical in
struction, and have so become familiar with their minds, that I challenge the production elsewhere of an equal number of wise and good men from the sacred profession, either in learning or knowledge, to those pastors, whom it is now the base fashion of the Reformers to abuse, those bishops, who have done their duty, and will have their reward."
Our limits will not allow us to do more than make from the other able speeches, one extract from Mr M'Neil's powerful philippic against those dangerous clubs which threaten to introduce into this country the mob government, and relentless democratic sway, which desolated France during the reign of the Jacobins.
"And here one is naturally led to ask, if these societies are unconstitutional and illegal, why have they been tolerated so long? That question ought to be answered by those who hold the reins of government. Did his Majesty's Government, liberal and magnanimous, despise such invaders of the Constitution, and disdain to trample on them? These societies may have been insignificant in their origin, but they were not on that account to be despised, still less fostered till they have grown to a formidable strength. It requires but little experience to teach, that slight beginnings lead to mighty consequences; and no system, physical or political, can long withstand the persevering, if unresisted, efforts of an indefatigable, though originally feeble, enemy. (Cheers.) The majestic oak, whose stately trunk and far-spread boughs have withstood the storms of centuries, the monarch of the wood,falls a sacrifice to the persevering efforts of a puny shrub.-(Cheering.) The greatest work of art-the proudest monument of human ingenuity-that which unites hemispheres that oceans separate, and converts the obstacles of nature into the most effective means of communication
that which carries the commercial enterprise and fame of Britain, and the thunder of her power, to every corner of the habitable globe-the Wooden Walls of England— fall a prey to the gnawing perseverance of an insect, whose form and lineaments can scarce be traced without microscopic aid.(Loud bursts of applause, which continued for some time.)-I cannot believe that his Majesty's Government were actuated by such supine folly as to despise and overlook known invaders of the Constitution. They did not treat them as foes whom they despised, but as friends whom they fatally cherished. That has been the error. I do not suppose that they intended to encourage
that which they knew or thought to be unconstitutional and illegal; but they committed the error of recognising and encouraging these institutions and a fatal error it has been. We have seen more than one Minister of the Crown in friendly corres pondence with these unconstitutional associates. We have seen an illegal resolution as to non-payment of taxes coupled with complimentary address to the Paymaster o the Forces, who acknowledged with heartfelt gratitude' the honour' done him We have seen the avowed organ of the coun
cil of one of those unconstitutional-I may head of the Government to task; and we now call them illegal-societies, taking the have seen the first Minister of the Crownyes, the truth must be spoken-we hav seen the Premier of England, condescend to enter into a vindication of his conduct at the bar of a tribunal which he now de nounces as unconstitutional and illegal (Cheering.) What is it that makes these societies unconstitutional and illegal now that did not make them equally so then: Not the proclamation, for it cannot make law it can only proclaim what the law already is. In denouncing these societies
as unconstitutional and illegal, the procla mation must have reference to the existing statutes against political societies, while, at the same time, it imports an admission that of late these statutes have not been duly acted upon by those whose duty it is to enforce the law, or to see that it is enforced. These statutes are of much older standing than the friendly correspondence to which I have alluded, and they contain some important provisions, which seem to have been overlooked by those who ought to have been better read in political and constitutional law. These statutes, while they impose severe pains on the members and officebearers of certain political societies, also declare that those who, directly or indirectly, hold correspondence or intercourse with such societies or their office-bearers, shall be deemed guilty of an unlawful combination and confederacy, a provision which seems to have been overlooked in the interchange of medals and of compliments, of addresses and of thanks, of remonstrances and explanations, between the office-bearers of the Birmingham Political Union, and the members of his Majesty's Cabinet."
Sir George Clerk concluded an able and statesmanlike speech, by the following extract from a paper of Mr Brougham's in the Edinburgh Review, which, like all the other early and philosophic writings of that celebrated man, were calculated to convey the severest censure up
on the measures of his maturer years.
"That the whole substantive power of the Government was now manifestly vested in the House of Commons, we proceeded to shew, that the balance of the Constitution was preserved, and could only be preserved, by being transferred into that House, when a certain proportion of the influence of the Crown, and of the great families of the land, was advantageously, though somewhat irregularly, mingled with the proper representation of the people. The expediency, and, indeed, the necessity, of this arrangement, we should humbly conceive, must be manifest to all who will but consider the distractions and dreadful convulsions that would ensue if the three branches of the Legislature were really to be kept apart in their practical operations, and to check and control each other, not by an infusion of their elementary principles into all the measures of each, but, by working separately, to thwart or undo what had been undertaken by the other, without any means of concert and co-operation. (Cheers.) In the first place, it is perfectly obvious, that if the House of Commons, with its absolute power over the supplies, and its connexion with the physical force of the nation, were to be composed entirely of the representatives of the yeomanry of the counties and the tradesmen of the burghs, and were to be actuated solely by the feelings and interests which are peculiar to that class of men, it would infallibly convert the Government into a mere democracy, and speedily sweep away the encumbrance of Lords and Commons, who could not exist at all if they had not an influence in this assembly."
The reports of the speeches at this memorable meeting published in a cheap and compendious form, to which we earnestly invite the attention of our readers in all parts of the empire: and largely as we have already trespassed on their indulgence, we cannot conclude without making one quotation from the condensed and admirable Preface to the publication, by a gentleman, we believe, of the Scottish bar, equally distinguished for his legal talents and his literary acquirements.
"To the many who, holding the same opinions with themselves, have also the firmness to avow them, the Conservative Party in Edinburgh need say nothing more. To the more timid, who, though they
perceive the dangers of the proposed change, shrink from the public expression of their opinions, they would suggest, that to sup
press their convictions at the present moment, is unconsciously to range themselves on the side of revolution, by falsely encouraging the idea of that unanimity in favour of the Re form Bill, which, even more than the supposed advantages of the change itself, is made the ground on which the necessity of the change is rested. Of the honest reformer, who accepts the Ministerial Bill in good faith, as a final measure which is to pacify the country, they would ask, Whether the events of the last six months have made no alteration on his belief as to the probability of that result from the passing of the late Bill? Whether the wild and insane schemes advocated during that period,-ballot-universal suffrage refusal to pay taxes-the creation of new Peers, to force a democratic measure through the House of Lords the abolition of the right of Bishops to sit in that House the extinction of the House of Lords itself an equitable adjustment of the public debt, or, in other words, an unprincipled robbery, and violation of the national creditor -the establishment of a revolutionary force, under the title of a national guard,-whether these, and the other monstrous schemes never agitated till the commencement of this ominous discussion, have done nothing to satisfy him, that, while the new Bill would increase a hundredfold the power of the innovators, it would in no way remove their hostility to the Constitution, or enlist them on the side of law and order? If reform were ever so valuable, may it not be bought too dear, by the sacrifice of all which gives security for property, for liberty, for life? Reform may be the goal to which his wishes sincerely tend, but is it not time for the honest and conscientious reformer to pause, and ask himself if he can be in the right road to that object, when he sees that plunderers and assassins are his travelling companions, and that the path along which he is moving, or rather driven, is slippery with blood, and lighted by conflagration? Even to the unfortunate and misguided beings, to whom
reform or revolution appears desirable, as holding out the hope of bettering their condition, they would put the question,-Have they ever yet heard of a Revolution by which the poor were not the greatest and the most immediate sufferers? Have they never reflected, that a man may gain little by the removal of a tax on some necessary of life,
if, by the stagnation of trade, and the ruin of commercial enterprise, the very wages out of which the tax is to be paid are taken from him? Among them, too, we trust there are many that have something to lose in charac
ter, if not in fortune: self-respect, the esteem
and the assistance of their superiors, the consciousness of having discharged their duty as men, as citizens, as Christians,these are
not feelings to be lightly thrown away for the precarious chance of some addition to their worldly possessions. To one and all, the Conservative Party of Edinburgh would say, Weigh well the present condition of the country; compare it with the surrounding nations of Europe; look to the long roll of its past glories; its present attitude of dignity and power; its arts, its arms, its science and literature; its numerous institutions of charity; the purity of its religious establishments; the thousand channels by which the riches of the higher ranks are unfailingly distributed among the industrious classes of the lower; its administration of justice; its commercial enterprise; its security for property and personal liberty; its lofty instances of heroism and patriotism; its bright and numberless examples of private and domestic virtue, and then say, whether the humblest, as well as the highest, has no interest in the preservation of a Constitution under which such results have sprung up? no cause to deprecate the sudden introduction of a plan of innovation, which, in the opinion of so many of the wise, and virtuous, and opulent of the country, threatens those institutions, and that national character and glory, with irremediable ruin ?"
Those who are unacquainted with this part of the island, can form no idea of the class who compose, or the weight which belongs to the gentlemen who have signed the Edinburgh petition. The Reformers ask what weight is to be attached to the signature of sixteen hundred persons in and around the metropolis of Scotland? They might as well ask what is the weight due to the opinion of 658 gentlemen in the chapel of St Stephen's? They form the nucleus and kernel of Scottish prosperity they are composed of men who have come up from all quarters, and risen to eminence and wealth by exertion and talent in every part of the country; they are, literally speaking, the representatives of Scotland, since she lost by the Union her local and separate legislature. They are neither composed of the feudal Aristocracy, nor the urban Democracy of the country: they are the middling
orders who have risen to affluence and prosperity by their exertions ir every walk of life, and whose weigh keeps the extremes, who have now combined to overwhelm them, from that fierce and ruinous hostility, int which, upon their destruction, the will inevitably break out against eac] other; and in which every one mus see, the Aristocratic party is destine to be destroyed.
We are not so sanguine as to ima gine that the Conservative Meetin at Edinburgh, standing alone, ca have geat weight. We know tha this city is but a speck in the Britis dominions, and that, however gre its influence may ultimately be, one of the great fountains of though and genius, it is too inconsiderabl during the strife of party, to be any great moment. We know, to that the words of Sir Walter Sco and Professor Wilson will have & little influence with the great bod of modern reformers, as the recor ed opinions of David Hume or Ada Smith, of Cicero or Bacon, have ha upon their conduct. But still it something to the Conservative Part throughout the empire, that geniu destined for immortality, shoul have done so much in their caus and that they can number amor their warmest supporters, nam which will be resplendent in the rol of fame, when the great mass of r formers shall be buried in the wave of forgotten time.
But still they have at least set a example, which, if generally follow ed, would ensure the triumph of th Constitution. The other cities i the empire have only to do whe Edinburgh has done, and the Revc lutionary Bill is overthrown for eve Come what may, the friends of th Constitution here haye the consc ous satisfaction of having done thei duty; of having maintained that pos assigned to them with unconquer able firmness.
PROTESTANT AFFAIRS IN IRELAND.
itself to be dashed in pieces; but, good-sort-of-a man as my Lord Althorp is, the mind of the nation has not prostrated itself before his imagined wisdom, nor as yet beholds in him, any more than in my Lord John Russell, or my Lord Durham, either an idol or an oracle. On the contrary, it knows that the intellect of all the three would not, if multiplied by nine, give a result equal to one wise man ; and smiles with pitiful contempt on such legislators legislating for it-on men distinguished for no one talent above the common level, in nothing egregious from the common herd, providing institutions, forsooth, congenial with the spirit of the age! What that spirit is, must be understood by far other intellects than theirs, and told by far other tongues, and be ministered to in such "deep consult," as can be held only among states
IT has been proved in the preceding article that the heart of Scotland, in spite of all the arts of agitation employed by reformers and revolutionists, is still sound at the core, and so far from beating in accordance with the Grand Measure of Ministers, is true to the spirit of our time-hallowed and time-cemented Constitution, which is felt and known by the enlightened patriotism of the country to have been less the work of man's hands than the growth of nature, and, as such, worthy not of our admiration alone, but of our gratitude and reverence. In the midst of so many vehement but unstable passions, set agog by shallow, insincere, deceived, or desperate politicians, it is consolatory to know that the intelligence of the land remains, if not undisturbed, yet on the whole "true to the truth;" and that of the best educated of all the orders of the people, a vast majority is at this hour adverse to the Bill that has again been dug out of the dust. The clamour of the populace will no doubt be renewed, and countenance given to their cause by many who, seeking vainly to secure the triumph of their party, have pledged themselves to support "the measure," in reckless defiance of all their recorded reasonings against it during the last thirty years. But while they have wheeled suddenly round upon their heels, or described a more gallant circle, their former arguments stand fast, frowning those who have any shame left, and many have, into confusion of face as of tongues; and extorting from their own mouths, the lie direct to their present outcries for what they now falsely call reform, and then truly called revolution. Élderly noblemen and gentlemen may be as pleasant and profound as it is possible for them to be in their fancy and their reflection, on the puerile vanity of consistency;" but the mind of the nation is made of "sterner stuff" than to tolerate, much less to be taken in by, such worthless aphorisms-and knows how to distinguish between wits and wittols. It has, too often, its idols, which it sets up and worships, worthless enough, and soon by
In no one department of human knowledge would their opinion go for half-a-crown; at that moderate price it may be had, but has been" with sputtering noise rejected." Yet they who cannot pen a pamphlet, or prate a speech of maudlin mediocrity, with priggish presumption have put themselves forwards to decide the destinies of earth's mightiest empire! True that Lord Grey was once a man of talents, and may be so still; but he is getting garrulous and old, and how peevishly does he endeavour to redeem the pledge of his youth, forgotten during his prime, and forfeited but some twelve months ago, through love of " his order," in his vacillating age! Among the pigmies, there is indeed one man, who, among such small infantry, may well be called a giant. But though Lord Brougham had not his own Bill in his pocketit never having been reduced to writing-not even, he says, so much as the heads, yet he had it in his brain, and its provisions were heard to flow from his eloquent lips-and alas! for the moral and intellectual greatness of his character, how different from them all, the blunders of that abortion, in behalf of which he lately bawled for " four glasses," and at the finale of his hollow-hearted pero