Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

been playing the courtier and sycophant, stamp and character of men of honour 50 and must continue to do so, to please and legibly, that the least flaw in their title is pamper the prejudices and passions of his discernible, pointing them out to publie constituents. Such a man is a slave to one scorn, and barring their access to the highsmall faction of the nation, and shackled er honours of the state ?! Still they are in his efforts to benefit the whole. If he is not elected by the people.' • Not by the sitcere in the proffers he makes, (alas ! how people at large, admitted ; but were they seldom,) and in the gross flatteries he be- ever so elected, or was it ever proposed they stows upon them, he is fitter for a courtier should be • By the constitution they than the legislator of an extensive empire : ought to bc.' if he is acting the bypocrite with them to a • Shew mc any authority, prescriptive gain a seat, he is capable of any basences or practical, and I will admit the fact, how. to turn that sent to his own profit. The ever disposed to deny its expediency.'man who pays his money for what you • At least, it is generally so believed ; and genilemen call a rotten borough, may be a at all events, you will not deny that the rogue ; but, at least, he has not proved right of voting has been shamefully infrinhimself one by previous practice. He may, ged upon.' I do deny it, sir; and upon like the other, hypocritically profess patriot. authority you cannot dispute. When the ism, to further his own selfish ends; but elective franchise was limited to forty slıilhư has not previously cajoled and cheated ling freeholds, the GREAT BODY OF THE his electors, as an earnest of his talent at PEOPLĘ were excluded from the right al. maneuvering.'

together ; for forty shillings, at that period, And you call this man a representa- were at least equal to as many pounds of tive ?' 'I do, sir, in the strictest sense of our present money, and the change has chę word. A member of the British Par. operated to extend the franchise to thouliament is not a DELEGATE. When a man sands, who, without this nominal change once passes the threshold of the Commons in the value of money, would by the conHouse of England, he represents the Com- stitution have had no vote at all.' I know mons at large, and not a particular county nothing about that,' returned the stranger, or district. He may, from circumstances, in rather a subdued tone; · I am only in. have local interests to guard, but even a terested in what concerns the present day; tumpike bill, or an enclosure, interesting and thousands who have the right of voalone to his constituents, can but command ţing are excluded by the tricks and knahis solitary vote. It is the country, the very of those who have power to keep us majority of the representatives of the whole down. I have shewn, I think,' continued empire--that must decide its adoption or Pen, that they have no right; for naturejection. If it were otherwise, a member ral rights, as you reformers call cvery wild of Parliament would resemble a satarap or demand for a participation of power, cangovernor of a district, and his constituents not be abstractedly considered, or applied would become eventually little better than to a state existing under fixed laws and the slaves of the soil. Each would be ab- established compact. But this is from the sorbed in the petty interests and cabals of point; I would limit myself to present his particular charge ; and being responsi- evils, which you affirm to exist, and the ble to his constituents, ratber than to his existence of which, until you produce countrymen at large, bis public conduct proofs stronger than mere assertion, I must without a check, and his private intrigues still deny. What have you to say,-not beyond the reach of investigation, a power theoretically, but practically,--against the unknown to the institutions of a free state, description of men, (subject, I admit, to would be engendered and fostered in every human infirmities, and not without excepcorner of the empire. ' County would be tions,) who at this present moment consti. found jobbing against county,-- borough tute the legislative body ?' • Including in against borough ; and the practised politi- their number the whole host of boroughcian might, by turns, bribe and sell bis mongers ?' I see no ground of excluconstituents, with whose local interests he sion. Why, sir,' cried Pen, raising his would thus so identify himself as at length voice, as was his father's practice, when he to render a separation on their part inpo. supposed an assertion might be mistaken litic, if not impracticable.'—* This is all for a paradox ; • why, sir, I have no hesiwild-all abroad, sir.' • Wild! is it so tation in saying, that the objects, abstractwild, as to suppose that you can check cor- edly considered, for which parliaments are ruption, by extending the means to cor. constituted, would be fully accomplished, if rupt ? or that by opening the doors to the electors of Northumberland were to sharpers and adventurers, you can cleanse choose representatives for London, or those and purify a legislature, composed (no of Westminster to return members for matter how) of all the prominent talent and Cornwall. All local interests, by the spiprofessional wisdom of the country; of the rit of the English constitution, which is, most distinguished representatives of the after all, the depositary and the aggregate landed, the commercial, and irading inte. of the good sense and sound experience of fests; and altogether of those who bear the successive generations, -

--arc to merge, and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

must be made a merge, in the general in himself. And so, in the only instance of törest of the whole; as each individual in these rights being literally reduced to pracsociety must necessarily sacrifice a portion tice in later times, universal suffrage apo arhis independence to secure the liberty of pears to have been the harbinger of univer

. an. Cuom, cuom, now,' interrupted sal slaughter, where the constituents and the grazier, that would be a strange soit, their free-chosen representatives were als howsomever ; a caunt consent to that by no ternately victims and butchers.' manner o' means. I maun chuse my oune parliament, man, cuom what wull I «« «Why should the same excesses follow don't know where the deuce the gentleman from a reform in this country?' . Because is running,' cried the stranger. I run at the same causes will generally produce the nothing, sir,' answered Pen. I have as. same effects; because, in the present inoserted,

and do assert again, that the mere ment, the cause is advocated upon the same mode of election is a matter of comparative principles, appeals to the same dangerous indifference; I say comparative, so long as passions of man, and opens the same means the property of the country is duly repre- of gratifying them; because, erroneous as sented ; so long as the representatives of was the principle upon which those men that property, in some shape or another, acted, many good, honest, and patriotic inare sent to parliament. As to the qualities dividuals, were sincere in their adoption of and principles of men, they will differ as them. Whereas there is not one,-no, sit, much after your projected reforms as be- not one among the present leaders of pofore, and will so continue to do until hu- pular delusion, who does not anticipate ge. man nature itself be reformed. Common neral havoc and destruction, which the safety is the real bond of political union; athers never contemplated; who does not and those who possess property, individuals look to revolution when he cries REFORM ? ly, will be most anxious to preserve proper- They only hoped to effect reform, when ty, upon the whole.' • Why is property,' they found themselves plunged in REVOdemanded his opponentwhy is property LUTION.' • It is'nt fair, sir, to stigma. to be the only thing represented ?' Sim- tize, in this sweeping manner, thousands ply because property the first thing to be of your countrymen. • I would say the secured upon a permanent basis ; for with. same if they were my brothers, and meriis out this, liberty can be nothing but licen- ed it as truly,' answered Pen, coolly. tiousness.' • And so the rich are everlast. «• The short of the matter, then, is, sir,' ingly to grind the poor ?' • How that fol. said the stranger, you would have no relows, I am at a loss to conceive,' replied form at all.' . I object to reform no where, Pen, who began to grow warm in his sub- sir,' replied Pen, when it is necessary ; ject, unless you conclude government un- but I must be convinced of its necessity by der every form to be a tyranny.' • Pretty better arguments than I have heard conear the mark,' retorted the stranger. night, before I give my voice to so hazard• Then we need argue no further, sir,' cried ous an experiment.' Necessity! why, Pen, starting upon his legs; • if you un- har’nt you yourself admitted the fact, that derstand the force of your inference, you seats in parliament are bought and sold ; are the advocate of pure anarchy; and and what have you urged in defence of it ? none but a madman will reason from such-moonshine an opinion. Moonpremises.' .' I mean---I mean no such shine --my opinion, sir! Are you aware thing, sir ; it is you that are the madman,

No offence, no offence intended ; I think.' • Sir!' exclaimed Pen. • I but opinions are but opinions, and, as you mean po offence, sir ; but when you talk yourself observed just now, cannot weigh of the electors of Westminster electing against facts.' • Facts! true; but you members for Cornwall, and at a sweep get must call your facts by their right names.' rid of the glorious franchise of —'. Psha, They are still facts, call them as we will ; sir ! you confound hypothesis with argu. but let that pass. I only ask you, sir, why a ment. I never meant to recommend such few great overgrowu landholders are to moa measure, but to illustrate my opinion nopolize all power, and grind down the Wat even such a mode of election would be great mass of the people, as if they were more consonant with the first principles of mere slaves of the soil * : I should rather the constitution than your bewildering chi. ask you to prove your fact, before I can be mera of universal suffrage.' Right is called upon to account for it.' • Who are right, sir ; every man has a right to vote our law-makers, but those imperious lords for representatives in parliament.? Pray, who combine to rivet our chains ' They sir, may I ask where you find this right ?? may be law-makers, without either in po * In the constitution. In the clouds ! sing chains or rivetting them ; but, perShew me, sir, something more tangible; haps, by this pretty figure of speech, you shiew it me in the practice of the constitué design to represent tie laws altogether tion. • It needs no shewing; it is among the laws in these hands I certainly dom the first rights of man.' • So is eating bis • Then, sir, we understand each other. brother, if he be strong enough to slaugh. You would prove that anarchy is preferable ter him ; if not, he must submit to be caten

to any regular form of government, and it

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

necessarily follows that laws are but types ly omitted in the of slavery. Give me leave to say, sir, through the agency of you do not understand me, at least. No " Wasn't that an insutia man has a greater reverence for the laws, or sir ?! is more firmly attached to the constitution, ««• It might be so, sir, in your opin than myself. Only, that, like the man but we are speaking of the pure periode o who had grown so attached to his knife that the constitution, to which your reformers he bestowed a new blade and then a new look back with such tender yearnings, handle to it, you would renew it altogether.' when, instead of a grievance, it was consi• No, sir, I say what I think, and what I dered as a relief from a burthen. I must feel

. I am not bound to uphold the faults not, however, be interrupted, sir. Land, and defects, though I may love the

consti- I repeat, was then the representative of the tution as sincerely as you do.' • Depend property of the country ; but as the rights upon it, sir, our love begins to slacken of individuals came to be better ascertainominously, when the faults of the objected—when the professions were opened to are more visible to our perception than its men of every rank and station in life beuaties ; one step more, and our love is when the spirit of adventure brought the turned to hate.'

treasures of a new world to our shores, “ • Aye,-well,—I don't understand all and commerce and trade multiplied the these roundabout ways ; I stick to my facts, sources of wealth,—a strict adherence to and want only a plain answer to a plain the letter of the constitution would have question ; why, because men have monopo- excluded the whole, or greater part of this lized our land, should they have the power new property (inasmuch as it was extraneto monopolize our rights? Still, your ous and independent upon the land) from question in this form is any thing but a being represented in parliament, and have question ; for you beg the whole of it, and subjected a large and daily increasing porthen demand a categorical answer. But tion of the people to the overruling and since you are determined to have one, I predominant influence of the landed inteanswer, in the first place, that those who rest. Without, therefore, imputing injushave the greatest stake are likely to be most tice to the landed interest, we may suppose interested in the welfare of the country, their ignorance of the true nature of merwhilst at the same time I readily admit, cantile or commercial transactions to be a that this predominance should be so ex- sufficient ground for some change in the tended as to prevent partial or unjust lean- original plan of representation. There was ing toward any particular class, or order of no opening, no provision made for this new men, in society. There you have hit it; state of things. It was not because certain isn't that what I say ?' asked his opponent towns, rising into importance, and certain triumphally. “I fear not exactly,' an- ports, appropriate to commerce, might ocswered Pen;" for, by referring to the very casionally send men capable of watching grievance, the canker which the nice op- their interests, that the great mass of perlics of the reformers have discovered in the sons unrepresented at all would be satisfied. system of close boroughs,--we shall find These, as I said before, might assert local that the practice of the constitution, in de- rights and privileges; but it was necessary, viating from the strict theory, has applied with a view to the country at large, and to the most effective means of preventing any the privileges of the constitution, that some unduc preponderance of the landed interest essential change should be made in the over those of the moneyed, the commercial, general representation. Our ancestors were or trading part of the community. I will ioo wise to propose sweeping reforms. The not discuss with you, sir, the first principles constitution had been gradually forming itof government. "I have already said, what self under the collective wisdom of succeedno man acquainted with the subject has ing generations ; and any sudden deviation ever denied, that the representatives of a from its course was only likely to produce country, whose object is permanency and those rude convulsions which have, more security, must be the representatives of its than once, threatened the subversion of all property. This is the principle of English that has rendered us the wonder and admilegislation. When this

was originally esta- ration of surrounding nations." blished in our constitution, which, by the "« « Bravo, bravo !' exclaimed the grazier, by; you, sir, seem to imagine a piece of who had been roused from a gentle slumold parchment, drawn up by some not- ber by the increasing energy of our hero. able lawyer, and declared regularly sign- • Auld England's worth 'em all shaken ed and sealed by somebody, at some parti- together.'

• 1 said no such thing,' 66 • The machine,' continued Pen, who interrupted the stranger.

• Your argu. hardly heard his cheerer, • was so well ments imply it, at least ; but when this put together, that it gradually adjusted it. principle was first understood and acted self to the new order of things. As ancient upon, land was the chief, if not almost boroughs decayed, or became rotten, if the the only representative of property ; so

term please you better, they fell under the were frequent- influence of small bodies, and even indivi

15

cular date

that even the boroughs

[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Quals, wlid by degrees secured a right in appearance, and circumstances which oc. them, betwem which, and the exercise of curred during the foregoing discussion, cori. its no liw coala interpose ; and this right, eeiving him to be a misguided, rather than by purchase or conveyance, was made over an unprincipled person, he asked him, wheis mdividuals of every class or order in the ther he had never heard his associates in community, who could afford to avail them- reform confess, that their object was, in efselves of it by the profits of professions, feet, to do away with the regal govern. commerce, or any other branch of honour- ment ?' We never professed any such able industry and exertion. It might be views,' was the reply. And yet, sir, it is affirmed, indeed, that this innovation was clear as the sun at noon-day, that a House essentially democratical; and it might with- of Commons, reformed according to your out difficulty be proved, by reference to plan, could not subsist under a monarchy; facts, that these rotten boroughs have cou- in plainer terms, that a regal government stantly afforded an opening to the admission could not co-exist with a legislatures of men who have most strenuously advo- formed, for a single year. It would be na cated the cause of the people, and who longer a house of representatives, but a could by no other means have found their chamber of delegates, who, claiming to go. way into parliament.' "What of that ?' vern in the name of the sovereign people, demanded the stranger. • Have not the would feel, and quickly avow the inconpeople, in the same proportion, been dis- sistency, of submitting their decrees to the possessed of their rights ? have they not ordeal, either of Lords, or King. They forfeited their franchises ? • Surely not in would at least discover, as the old Ramp the instances to which I allude. The rights of Oliver Cromwell, and their more woyou speak of must have disappeared with dern copyists, the French Regicides did, the population.'

that both a King and a House of Peers only “All I mean to say,' said the stranger, stood in their way, and that they could just who appeared to have exhausted his stock as well do without them. With their subin hand—all I mean to say is, that it is sequent necessity of recurring for security hard the people of England should be de- to the old standard, and of restoring the prived of their undoubted rights. God same things, under the different names of knows, I want no bloodshed or plunder ; Emperors or Protectors of Conservative but if Parliament won't do us justice, we Senates, and Councils of State-we have are entitled to take our own affairs into our bothing at present to do.' And so, you own hands. The plea of necessity is, un. would have us submit-Stop, sir,' cried questionably, a strong one ; but until you Pen, fiercely, • I can reason with a BEhear the case made out to your perfect sa FORMER; but I must repel a BEBEL: tisfaction, it might be wiser to leave your you either fight under false colours, or you affairs—where they are. Depend upon it, must disprove the result I have anticipated

, it would not mend the matter to have a to be consistent with your scheme. Why, horde of mob-orators--adventurers without thee ben't one of them radicals—ater all

, principle--moral or religious ; poor, des- mun, be'est thee?' asked the grazict

. perate, and needy masters either of your "That's the way with you all,' cried the liberties or your exchequers. Let me put baffled reformer'; “ you can call nanies." one question to you, which I would rather “o Not I,' answered Pen, with great you should answer to yourself, upon your calmness ; ' I did not say you were a re. pillow to-night: What reasonable ground bel, I only meant to show, that what is have you to suppose, that six hundred men, called radical reform, must inevitably lead of honourable life and character I repeat to the subversion of the constitution, for generally, for exceptions must ever present which it professes to entertain so jealous an themselves--of birth, rank, and education, affection, that those who are capable of --men, who in their private conduct aré reasoning upon the subject, cannot fail to unimpeachable, should, by being assem- perceive it,—and that those who are bot bled together in a body, become at once are only blind instruments in the hands of rogues, plunderers, and tyrants ? Or, by those who do. The charge of corruption what possible process can you arrive at this is brought against our existing institutions conclusion, on the other side, that an equal and public functionaries, without any evinumber of men, chosen by the most igno- dence beyond that which goes to prove, rant and unenquiring classes of the people, what no man in his sense ever doubted, under the influence of leaders, who are that no human work is, or ever can be per known to be of desperate fortune, and offect, or perfectly exercised. A change is most abandoned character in every private proposed under the general and undelined relation of life,-are, by incorporation, to term of reform, which actually undermines

, become at once pure, incorrupt, and in and provides for the destruction, of all that corruptible stewards of a people's rights and is virtually good with what may be suppa property ?'

sed capable of improvement, and has rein“Our hero, after a short time, finding dered the country for centuries the enti his opponent silent, addressed him in a more and admiration of Europe; whilst it carries calm and friendly manner, and from his with it not a shadow or pretence of reme

[merged small][ocr errors]

It is a

dying a single evil, it professes to have dis. pretext, which gavo ati air of patriotisme covered. The popular branch of the con to the rebellious Roundheack and whilst stitution has for many years been gaining they thoughtlessly accunwals the mate ground upon the other two estates ; and I rials for their own future subjugation, would have no hesitation in affirming, that the be incapable of informing a bystander power of the crown is more circumscribed whether they were about “to fire another and limited in the present, than in any for- Troy,” or to see a man creep into a quart mer period of our history. The few crafty bottle.” politicians, who are the secret springs, and With this long and splendid pasa movers of the radical party, perceive this, -and cry out against the House of Com. sagę we quit Pen Owen, mons, as the usurpers of power,-whilst book which no doubt the Whigs will they affect to identify the interests of the

run down. One consolation the Tories people, with those of the crown, at the very have when they see their books run time, in fact, when they are labouring to down by the Whigs is, that though seize upon that popular branch of the le. the Whigs of our day can write regislature, as the most effective and power- views enough, none of them (at least ful means of becoming masters of the go. there is scarcely an exception) can vernment, and turning it equally against the write books. Lord Byron being laid people, and the two other estates of the out of view, and perhaps Tom Moore, realm. All parties, my good sir,” con- where is the man now living that can tinued Pen, whose brain having been set write a tolerable book, and is not a in commotion by the hostile appeal recently made to the outside of his head, or by Tory? Can Jeffrey write a book? He the sapping system of the spirituous reme

could as soon leap his horse over a dies within it,--had become unusually elo six-foot stone wall and a double ditch. quent, all parties are constructed upon Could Mackintosh? We for one would the same principles ; it matters not whether be the first to subscribe for it. Could it is limited to the weekly club at mine Brougham ? No more than Joseph host's in the village, or extended over the Hume, or Lord A. Hamilton, or the country, in affiliated societies, from a pa. Duke of Bedford. We had, to be sure, rent-stock in the metropolis. A few strong forgot Mr Luttrell, but we can scarceand determined heads, who perceive all ly after all quite credit that report their points, and concentrate all their means

about his being a Whig. We believe of aggression, gain the ascendant ; a larger number of agents receive from them their no man to be a Whig until it is procuc, and dole out in daily portions, through ved against him. To do otherwise, the medium of a hireling and prostituted

would be press, or in clubs, associations, and public

to bar from the kind heart meetings,-poisoned food for discontent, All thoughts of human gentle charity, and disaffection towards the government.

And think of the poor brothers of our race The evils incident to all men, but more

As if they had not sprung from Adam's pressing upon the subordinate classes, -as

loins." must inevitably and necessarily be the case

WORDSWORTH (we think.) in every community,—are made to appear Farewell, then, wise, witty, perhaps the result of peculiar and extraordinary cor wicked author of Pen Owen! We, at ruption on the part of their governors: every least, love thee, (we mean all true Toprivation is felt, which had never been felt before, and the common lot of man is ren- on! Write three volumes yearly, paint

ries) admire thee, praise thee ! Write dered intolerable to them, by the conviction, that it is the immediate product of tyranny ing“ the living follies as they rise !" and oppression. There is but one step

Lash and spare not the vile, the filthy, an injury, to the attempt at the sacrilegious, the blasphemous, inredressing it. A patriot, or mob orator, is fidel, rebel crew of the UNENGLISH, at hand with the means, and the misguid and verily thou shalt have thy reward ed multitude rush forward to aid his patri in the favour of all the good, the wise, otic exertions, without stopping to inquire, or without sufficientintelligenceto ascertain,

and the patriotic !-Au Revoir land the nature or extent of his designs. The

that, we hope, is not a long look. Thou people of this country, who wept tears of art thou a man of romance. Thy vein

art not a poet, so far as we see, nor blood as a martyred sovereign was led to is the keen clear bitter ; if it be not the hands of his murderers, and invested so grand as some others, 'tis at least them with power sufficient, to crush their

a far rarer one in these sentimental monarch, and themselves. The people days. Thou wearest on thy shoulders are again called forth, and encouraged by a truly knowing head of the old Engthe promises of men, who have not even the lish cut. Would we could see thy

4 N

from feeling

Vol. XI.

« ПредишнаНапред »