« VorigeDoorgaan »
cient knowledge to qualify them for made against their motives. One giving an opinion on the Catholic
ques- Whig lord was represented to say, that tion ?
if the Bishops did not regulate the Mr Brougham maintained that the clergy properly, the Lords would take Catholic Association was a most con- the Church under their guidance. We stitutional one, and ought not to be wish that this simple individual would suppressed that a man was 10 more not utter such absurdities without accountable for his religion than for making himself a little better acquaintthe colour of his hair, and that no re- ed with the laws and constitution of ligious tests ought to be used in the his country. We will assure him that bestowing of public trusts. He called the Church of England is not so far upon Mr Canning to commit the most destitute of friends as to be at the gross breach of faith towards his col- mercy of either House of Parliament. leagues ; to resign, that he might force Another Peer uttered a low, brutal, them out of office, and become the se- second-hand observation, that a clerlector and head of a new Ministry. gyman ought to have his ears nailed This new Ministry was to be formed to the pulpit, if he touched in it up 0:1 solely to remove the disabilities; it politics. We shrewdly suspect that was to be formed in direct opposition when the season shall arrive for nails to the feelings of the Peers and the ing the ears of clergymen, it will British nation, and it was to depend likewise be the season for slitting the for support upon the more violent windpipes of nobles. Now, let all Whigs and the Roman Catholic this be contrasted with the treatment Chureh. Sir Francis Burdett decla- which has been received by the Cared that one religion was as good as tholic clergy. These were avowedly another, provided it taught morals the collectors of the Catholic rent; it that the Catholic religion was as good was distinctly declared in Parliament as any other for teaching morals that they compelled the people to pay that the Catholic priesthood did not the rent by withholding from them the possess one jot more of authority and rites of their church: many of them influence over their locks than they were members of the Catholic Assoought--that a man's being educated ciation, and attended its meetings; in any religion was a sufficient reason and it has been again and again defor lvis not forsaking it for another- clared, that they are omnipotent at and that the disabilities ought to be elections against the landlords, and removed on the ground of abstract that they monopolise the exercise of right alone. He asserted that preju- the elective franchise among their foldices, the want of reading, or the in- lowers. Yet not a word was to be ability to understand books, alone said against all this. The Catholic made people oppose the Catholics ; clergy could not do wrong, they could and that religions never caused pub- not interfere improperly in politics; lic convulsions save when they were Sir Francis Burdett had declared them allied with authority.
to be infallible, and who was to doubt Are these, then, our only sages and it? philosopers ? Are these our only states- The Irish Catholics, it seems, mean inen? Are these the only men in this to banish all the Methodists and other glorious and gigantic empire who are dissenting preachers, and to extincapable of understanding and guiding guish all the Protestant Bible and its interests ? No! We are not thus other religious societies. Let these fallen. We have not thus far lost the canting champions of religious and sterling sense and high feeling of our civil liberty do this, and we shall then ancestors. Old England, thank God! have the Dissenters with us to a man. has its affairs in the hands of sages, We hope, from our souls, that the philosophers, and statesmen of a dif- clergy and dissenting ministers who ferent character.
so gloriously fought the battles of the We direct the attention of every Bible in the last year will not be intifriend of the Church of England to midated. Let them again hold their the treatment which our admirable meetings-let them goad the Catholic clergy have met with during the dis- Church into the exercise of its tycussions, to the manner in which their ranny, and the display of its rancour petitions have been received, and to and intolerance. The base insinuations which have been The Catholic bill, it appears, is to be again brought forward in the next ses- Protestant layman should have liberty sion of Parliament. Let it be so. Let to read the Scriptures, and to enter the country, be agitated by the question any place of worship that he think until the next election, and then ano- fit, it is alike necessary that the Cather House of Commons will give the tholic layman should have the same Catholics leisure for reforming their liberty. Let us be firm. The cry of conduct, and abolishing the detesta- Down with the heretics ! has already ble penal code of their Church. In been heard among us ; let us take care the meantime, let every Protestant, that it be not repeated. Temperate no matter what his denomination may and determined resistance will accombe, stand upon his arms in readiness plish all that we desire. It may not to defend his religion. This ground diminish the numbers of the Cathowill support him. If it be necessary lics, but it may reform Catholicism. for the Church of England to be un- It may root up the tyranny of the der the regulation of the general go- Catholic Church, which is alike a disvernment, it is alike necessary for the grace and a curse to the nation. It Catholic Church of Ireland to be so. may destroy the tremendous authority If it be necessary that the established and influence that the Catholic priests clergy should be restricted from form- possess over the people in temporal ing pernicious laws, from tyrannising matters, which are perfectly inconsisover the people, from intermeddling tent with our whole system, and which with politics, and from engrossing the could not be possessed by any body political influence of the country, it of men whatever without placing in is equally necessary that the Catholic peril the British constitution, British Clergy of Ireland should be thus re- liberty, and the weal of the British stricted. If it be necessary that the empire.
THE REPEAL OF THE COMBIXATION LAWS.
We do not know of anything that did not, like all other laws, occasionhas been more calculated to excite un ally iningle injury with benefit. They easiness and apprehension, than the were repealed on the ground, that the tampering which has been for some principle on which they stood was a time carried on with the working false and pernicious one. Time had classes of this nation. Upon the in- not rendered them a dead letter, or dustry, subordination, and general reversed their nature and operation, good conduct of these classes, the They were, when they were repealed, peace, prosperity, and even existence precisely what they were when they of the empire, mainly depend. This were framed, relatively, as well as will admit of no difference of opinion, otherwise. Their fruits, after abunand surely it must be alike indisputa dant trial, had been thought exceedble, that nothing could be more deser- ingly beneficial. The primary authors ving of universal reprobation, than of their repeal were a knot of men measures tending to injure them. who were strangers to business, to the
It is, in our eyes, one of the great working orders, and to human nature. recommendations of our laws and in- They avowedly acted upon abstract stitutions, that, generally speaking, reasoning, and not upon actual fact. they did not emanate from the reve. By these men-people whoin the Comries of speculation--that they were bination Laws had never touched-the not formed to supply wants which petitions were chiefly got up; and the were not felt, or to correct theoretic Laws were repealed, not to remove a faults which were not proved by ex. proved evil, but to carry the excellent perience to be injurious. They only to perfection. The repeal was sancreceived being when the necessity was tioned both by the Ministry and the distinctly apparent, and when the evil Opposition. called aloud for remedy. Their origin It was, we remember, loudly trumwas thus legitimate, anıl their fruits petted forth at the time, that an artiupon the whole have been of the most cle in the Edinburgh Review had beneficial character. The Laws against great influence in promoting the reCombinations thus originated. They peal. It seems to be the fate of that were formed to remedy evils which unhappy Work, that experience is ever existed, and which demanded remedy. upon the watch to knock its reasonings
We are not called upon to say that to pieces as soon as it may utter them. these Laws were faultless, or that they The argumentation of the article in
question seemed to us to be of
f the the power of the engine is lost on these most vicious character, and we took useless things.” He knocks off the flyoccasion to intimate this to our read, wheel, and then looks at the connecters immediately after the repeal. A ing-rod. " Ah !" he sighs, “ what an new mode of managing public inte- enormous waste of iron is here! It is rests, is, however, now the fashion. five times too long, and too thick.". Men, who have gone from the nur- He cannot discover the connexion sery to the school, and from the school which one wheel has with another, to the lawyer's chambers, or the newstherefore he destroys half of them. paper-office---men living apart from, He cannot see that friction ought to and having no acquaintance with, the be allowed for, or that strength anel world-having little knowledge of hu, nature of materials ought to be inatman nature, and none of the mechan- ters of calculation. He can only find ism and working of trade and public utility in those things which seem interests generally—these are now re- more immediately to finish the work ; garded as the only men who know and to benefit them, he demolishes anything of the science of govern- that which renders them useful.- He ment. Things are only thought to be lays the whole in ruins. true, in proportion as they are para- Setting aside competency, the hodoxical in their appearance. It is first nesty of those who took the lead in assumed that all men are alike, and the repeal of the Combination Laws, that all nations are in similar circum- was very far from being free from stances, and have similar and common suspicion. Some of the principal of interests;
it is then assumed that men them had long been leading political are always actuated by interest only, agitators, They had in hand various and that if left to themselves they will schemes of sweeping innovation ; they never take a wrong step in prosecuting were unable to obtain the favour of the their interests; it is next assumed higher classes, and they were anxious that everything which takes money to enjoy that of the lower ones at alout of, or does not bring money into, most any price, to enable them to the public exchequer, is pernicious; carry their schemes into effect. The and that the lowest point of universal latter were forsaking them, and the cheapness will carry us to the highest repeal seemed to be a most promising point of national prosperity. It is then project for winning them back, for assumed that regulations—the great freeing them from other influence, and characteristic of civilized society, are for gaining a complete ascendency over injurious—and that the farther we them. Mr Hume was the great man retrograde towards the condition of a in the business--the ostensible parent horde of savages, the more beneficial of the repeal. Perhaps no man in it will be for us. The jargon is easily Europe was worse qualified than he acquired, and a schoolboy may chatter was for undertaking a measure so imit with as much volubility as the old- portant and complex—which bore so est philosopher. Under such a system, powerfully and comprehensively upon a youth of fifteen is as competent to the relations of society, and the genestand at the helm, as such a inan as ral interests of the nation. Notwiththe Earl of Liverpool.
standing all this, the repeal, as we have The following, perhaps,, will give already said, was sanctioned by both our readers some idea of what a sides of Parliament. thorough-bred Political Economist of The Combination Laws were repealthe present day is. He goes to exa; ed ; immediately afterwards the work. mine a steam-engine, and the machi, ing classes proved that the reasoning nery to which it gives operation. He which had procured the repeal, was, looks first at the fire.--"Good Hea- in the main, a tissue of falsehoods and ven!” he exclaims, “what a consump- absurdities ;, when Parliament met tion of coals !--The fire is ruinous, again, it was called upon to re-enact and must be quenched.” He then practically, these very laws, as a matglances at the pump for supplying ter of absolute necessity. There are the water for condensation.
two or three points in this, which, we fools,” he groans, “what a loss of think, deserve serious consideration. power !—The pump inust be destroy- We inagine, in the first place, that, ed." Then he turns to the fly-wheel. in this repeal, the general principles “Vorse and worse," he eries ; “ half upon which this nation has always
been governed, were altogether depart- in general, evidently owing to the inel from. We have, as a people, always ability of masters to pay more, and hitherto been taught to venerate our not to the Combination Laws. Wages laws and institutions, and to regard, had, upon the whole, advanced, and with extreme suspicion and dislike, the working classes of the time were all attempts to alter or abolish them. enjoying a greater share of the necesWe have been instructed to look less saries and comforts of life, than had at the theory of things, than at their been enjoyed by those of former geneworking. This has been uniformly rations. This was not a matter of inculcated by our general government, doubt-it required no Parliamentary and blind must be be who cannot per- Committee and witnesses to bring it ceive that it forms the principal bul- to light-it was before the eyes of the wark of our national possessions. Our nation at large. The real question Parliaments and Ministries have al- was, however, put aside-theory was ways professed to make it their grand the great thing looked at it was not ruling principle. An existing law of because the combination Laws prolarge operation, could only be altered duced proved evils, but it was because or abolished on these grounds: theo- they were condemned by the Political retic objections were to be disregarded; Economists, that sentence was prosmallness of utility was to have but nounced against them. Of course, no little weight; and distinct, abundant, attempts were made to expunge their and conclusive evidence of the exist- pernicious parts, and remedy their deence of injurious defect and real evil, tects; they were, in effect, torn out of was to be produced. If, upon such
the Statute-Book. evidence, the alteration or abolition In the second place, it was one of the were undertaken, it was proceeded in leading doctrines of the Economists, with the utmost caution and circum- that these Laws ought not to exist. spection; it was gradually carried in- They proclaimed them to be a great to effect, step by step, that it might national evil, and declared that the give no shock to the habits of the coun- greatest public benefits would flow try, and occasion no derangementin our from their abolition. Sheet upon sheet complicated system. This may have of argument was employed to establish appeared to retard our progress, but we this, and to prove that the working believe it has accelerated it. Our pace classes would, after such abolition, do has been regular; we have made no exactly the reverse of what they have false steps ; we have taken no wrong done. If a portion of that which is paths; we have kept in the high road, called Political Economy, have been and thereby have avoided all the stop- thus decisively refuted, does it not pages which wild attempts to strike throw very heavy discredit on the reacross the fields, and to leap hedges mainder? Does it not prove that the and ditches, would have made in our Ecouoinists are a very unfit race of journey. That we have travelled by men to be taken as guides in legislathe wisest route, and at the quickest tion ? speed practicable, seems to be proved In the third place, the-repeal of the by the distance at which all other na- Combination Laws was not an insulations are behind us.
ted measure. It formed part and parcel This sound and constitutional mode of what is called the new system of Free of conducting the affairs of England, Trade. It was the first great step towas, we say, departed from in the re- wards establishing Free Trade-it was peal of the Combination Laws. The to release the market for labour from real question was this-Had these the restrictive system. The Ministry laws operated to sink, below the pro- and the Legislature were in favour of per point, the wages of our labourers?
it, and yet experience has proved that The history of the country, and the it was a very pernicious measure ; that
; experience of every one, replied in the it stood upon false theory. Does not negative. In good times, many of the this
prove that it is possible for the working men of manufacturing and remainder of the new system of Free trading places, could earn as much in Trade to be equally erroneous--for the five of the working days of the week, mighty changes which our commercial as would both support their families, laws are undergoiug, to be pregnant and enable them to spend the sixth in with calamities, rather than benefits ? idleness and dissipation. If, in bad Does it not prove that these changes times, wages were too low, this was, are procceded in at too rapid a pace,
and with too little of caution and exa- more easy to alter than to amend the
dreams of speculation,and the assuinpa
ly promulgated such doctrine. The It has long been well known, that new bill must be intended to undo political freedom depends for existence that which the one of Mr Hume was upon restrictive laws; it has been esta- intended to do, and did do; and if it blished in the last twelve months that be not very strong and comprehensive there can be no Free Trade in labour in its enactments, it will yield very litwithout restrictive laws; and we sus- tle benefit. The repeal has produced pect it will soon be proved that there procligious mischief; it has given ma. can be no real freedom of general turity to a spirit and a system, which trade in this country without a restric- feeble efforts, and a short period of tive system. We think the people of time, will not render innoxious. England will soon be prohibited from It is scarcely necessary for us to say following various trades and occupa, that there is not a finer race of people tions which they now follow; and in the universe than the working class that they will be thus prohibited, not es of Britain. All know this who have by restrictive laws, but by the want had opportunities for studying their of them--not by the statutes of the character; and every one may know realın, but
by the interference of other it who will take the trouble of ascernations. We think it the most mon- taining what rank this nation holds strous of all monstrous things, to sup- among other nations. That man would pose that the trade and industry of never be respected by us who could this country can thrive without laws look at the wealth, glory, and greatfor their regulation and protection. ness of this empire, and yet feel no ad
In the fifth place, the New Marriage miration for the industry, bravery, and Act, and the repeal of the Combination other good qualities of those to whom Laws, appear to us to have supplied they are, in so large a degree, owing. conclusive evidence that it is much But then it does not follow from this,