« PoprzedniaDalej »
have no other object in view, than the preservation of the rotten boroughs; the perpetuation of a system that is incompatible with the constitutional privileges of the people, but exceedingly consistent with the power of the oligarchy, and pre-eminently conducive to its maintenance. We are almost ashamed to say, that they have contended with more energy in this last struggle for their monopoly of power, than ever patriot statesmen did for the cause of liberty. They fought desperately, and have given a decided intimation of the course which they mean to pursue in the new Parliament. Sir R. Peel has thrown to the ground the mask under which he had been for some time coquetting with reform. He stands out now in his true character, as a decided enemy, not only of the measure itself, but also of the ministers by whom it was brought forward, although he had hitherto affected to treat them with politeness, and even with for bearance. How true is the old remark, that disappointed statesmen became patriots by profession ! -but by profession only, for all their machinations centre in their own return to power.
We would caution the people, then, to be upon their guard against these wolves in sheep's clothing; to turn a deaf ear to their admonitions, to despise their threats, and to laugh at their prophetic denunciations. They mean nothing save the continuance of the old abuses, and the exaltation of the oligarchy, whose insolence has become intolerable. It was but the other day that they reproduced amongst us a perfect specimen of that kind of Inquisition, which we hoped had been confined to Spain, in the worst ages of her bigotry. A writer in the Times newspaper having spoken of the Earl of Limerick in language ungracious to his lordship's delicate ear, the public business, at this most active season of the year, was, forsooth, suspended, and the time of the House was fully occupied for three evenings, in examining the Printer of that able journal, and in awarding punishment to his enormous crime! But let it be remarked that the whole proceeding was strictly of an Inquisitorial nature; the judges who had to try the alleged guilt of the man, were the real parties supposed to be offended. For Lord Limerick declared, and his declaration was assented to, that he brought his complaint, rather for the purpose of vindicating the privileges of the House, than those which appertained to him personally; the consequence of which was, that their lordships were at once the accusers and the judges in their own cause; they drew up the Bill of Indictment, they found it as a Grand Jury, they tried the prisoner as Judges, they found him guilty and sentenced him to a certain punishment. All this, too, they did upon the single evidence of the prisoner himself; they examined him viva voce; they attempted, though, happily, in vain, to extort from him the disclosure of matters which were entrusted to him in confidence; and to crown this unconstitutional character of their proceedings, they excluded the public from their court, during the period of the trial! Aristocratic insolence can go no farther this. This House of Lords is, in point of law, the highest Court of Judicature in the Kingdom, and it sets an example to all the other tribunals which, if they were to follow it, would render this country the most enslaved nation upon the face of the earth. We trust that an occasion may arise for putting this Inquisitorial power to the test of a solemn examination. It is evidently a remnant of the feudal ages, an old Baronial usurpation, which ought to be put an end to either by the express provisions of a law, or the equally potent efficacy of popular odium.
It is the more necessary for the people to combine in a grand effort during the present elections, as it will be of the greatest importance to afford something like stability to the existing Cabinet. İn a period of little more than five years we have had four different Premiers, and almost as many different Ministries. Of course they have all differed from each other in their domestic, as well as in their foreign politics, the consequence of which has been, that they have accomplished scarcely any thing, beyond one great healing amelioration, the emancipation of the Catholics,) within that period, for the internal regulation of the country; and abroad we have lost, we may say, all our influence. Bills of the utmost possible consequence to the national interests have been laid upon the tables of either House; we would mention, for example, the Local Courts Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, the Game Bill, to which we might add very many others, all of which have been necessarily postponed on account of the agitation, which the changes of Ministers and the contests of parties have created in the Legislature. By this perpetual struggle for power, the members are thrown into a fever of feeling, which shews itself in endless speeches, uttered for party purposes, having nothing to do with the real advancement of the country in the career of prosperity, and ultimately vanishing in empty sound, through the columns of the newspapers. The rage for appearing in print adds to the fever thus produced, and such is the eagerness on all sides to talk as much as possible, upon every given topic, that it is settling down into an adage,
" that a great deal was said last night in the House, (no matter which of the two be meant,) but nothing was done.” The business that per force is
) gone through, is effected in so slovenly a manner, because at unseasonable hours, when the intellect of the members is jaded, that the statutes of one session are frequently altered and amended in the next, upon points that a cold reader is astonished to find of the most essential description.
We want a Legislature that will really and honestly transact the business of the country, not an assembly of coxcombs who desire only to shew off their oratorical powers upon every trifling occasion. A common petition could not latterly be presented to either house, without calling up half a dozen declaimers on either side. It is a curious instance of this prevailing habit, to observe
that Sir R. Peel was talking at the ministers upon a petition, without so much as intending to refer to its subject matter, when the usher of the Black rod tapped at the door and put a stop to his eloquence. It is still more remarkable that in the House of Lords there was not even the shadow of a question before the chair, when the unrobed mutineers of the opposition were attempting to keep the King out, under pretence of their being engaged in debate. But William the Fourth is not to be trifled with. Without waiting for the officer to assist him, he himself put his crown upon his head, and mounting the throne with a fearless and dignified composure, at once vindicated his insulted prerogative, and the violated liberties of his people. That people, His Majesty may be assured of it, will stand by his throne to the last; they will no longer allow it to be the footstool of a corrupt and licentious aristocracy. The battle is begun, and although for awhile it may be carried on with disadvantage on the side of liberty, we have no apprehensions about the result. The King's name is indeed a tower of strength in itself, which cannot but prove impregnable to the enemy in its present condition, manned as it is at all points by the whole population of the country, who are prepared, if necessary, to defend their rights and those of their patriot sovereign, by the best might of their hands and the purest blood of their hearts.
Art. X.-The Correspondence of the Right Honourable Sir John
Sinclair, Bart., with Reminiscences of the most distinguished characters who have appeared in Great Britain, and in Foreign Countries, during the last fifty years. Illustrated by fac-similes of two hundred autographs. In two volumes. London: Colburn
and Bentley. 1831. We have had examples without number, of men carrying their enthusiasm for a particular object to an extravagant height :--a peculiar passion-a longing--a dread—an affection will so overwhelm an individual as to command all his thoughts and give direction to all his actions. But before the time of Sir John Sinclair, we declare we never could have believed that any human being could be so warm about every thing, as that most worthy of all baronets has ever shown himself to be. It matters equally to the susceptible patriot whether the granary of a nation is about to be swallowed up by an over abundant population, or a parterre of polyanthuses about to be destroyed by a swarm of wire-worms,
-the cordial sympathy and the honest indignation of Sir John, are as generously prompt. It would do any body's heart good to observe, with what earnestness the philanthropic baronet exhorted the late Emperor Alexander to encourage the carding of flax; how tenderly he pressed on the Duke of York some choice hints on the better management of the army ; while about the very same time he drew tears from all to whom he had access by his papers on the congenial subjects of Bullion and Gymnastics. What must be the univeral love for his kind of that extraordinary man, who writes now the description of a battle, and now of a competition of Scotch pipers; who sent yesterday a despatch on grave matters to Mr. Pitt, and sends to-day a pebble to Lady Craven ; who astonishes Admiral Keith in the morning with a grand plan of protection against French invasion, and concludes the day by transmitting the plan of a tragedy to Miss Baillie !-Such and só various are the topics embraced in the circumference of Sir John Sinclair's cyclopedic benevolence, and quite as multifarious is the correspondence which he here produces.
It is not by post that Sir John receives letters from his correspondents, it is by parallels of latitude that he communicates with his fellow men-dividing his daily leisure between Persia and the Pacific, and conferring obligations at the same moment on Napoleon, Emperor of the French, and Thayadenegea, an Indian chief in the wilds of a Canadian forest.
The most worthy of baronets having selected a mass of letters, with infinite kindness proceeds to give them all the benefits of due order and arrangement. There are, accordingly, nearly as many genera and species in this kingdom of literature as are to be found in the Linnæan system.-We have the Imperial and Royal Corregpondence, embracing letters from almost every sovereign of Europe
—including some of the ten thousand dignitaries of regal pretension who swarm in that officina gentium, that stretches from France to the northern borders of Europe. All these epistles commemorate Sir John's attention in sending to the authors his agricultural works. The correspondence of the British Cabinet Ministers occupies the next place, as in importance it undoubtedly should ; and from this division of the work we discover that Sir John entertained a profound sense of Mr. Pitt's abilities and wisdom, and that his admiration was afterwards extended to the friend and disciple of the celebrated stateman-Mr. Perceval. Whether, whig or toryTros Tyriusve--who remained in power--Sir John was always an humble suitor for a hearing, carrying under his cloak to some public office, an unexceptionable plan of his own fabrication, warranted to remedy the prevailing evil of the time. Both Pitt and Perceval more than endured the baronet; and it was through the former that he was able to establish the Board of Agriculture, of whose achievements we confess we are not in a condition to speak. As Sir John advanced in years, he does not seem to have increased his claims to ministerial confidence; Lord Castlereagh returned his patriotic offers with significant proposals of adjournment, and Mr. Canning's language in two or three stiff notes may be considered as more elegant periphrases of the awkward word bore."
The Female Correspondence ranks next to that of the British Ministers, but we observe nothing in the letters selected, to which we could think it worth while to call the public attention, although
they are subscribed in several instances by such names as Miss Edgeworth, Miss Baillie, and Hannah More.
The Naval Correspondence embraces nearly the whole literary efforts of Sir John Sinclair. To promote the best interests of our marine, he made various suggestions, and addressed many inquiries to different officers in that service; and in all instances the writers appear to have treated Sir John with civility and kindness, thereby manifesting their sense of the innocent motives by which he was actuated.
In introducing his Military Correspondence, Sir John tell us that he was the first to raise a Scotch Regiment of Fusileers, for the general defence of Great Britain, and with very justifiable pride he refers to numerous testimonials which the regimentreceived for its conduct, discipline, and its remarkably healthy condition. Letters from officers in all the military services of Christendom, we believe, are collected in this department, the very names of whose authors on many occasions, but particularly in those cases where the letters are dated from the Russian territory, would be sufficient almost to deter our readers from perusing them. Sir John appears to have been delighted with old Blucher, to whom he was introduced in London, and who had acquired so much civilization as to say to the Baronet, that he liked farming, and would send home a Scotch plough. When the battle of Waterloo was fought, Sir John Sinclair naturally concluded that a victory so worthy of renown should be celebrated by a competent historian. Accordingly, the baronet took the matter in hand himself: he solicited materials from all quarters, he patronised Baron Muffling, on whom he prevailed to dare the press; and at last, to ensure the authenticity of his immortal narrative, Sir John applied to Wellington himself for a few facts, which posterity could rely." The answer of the Prince of Waterloo is strikingly characteristic.
«« I can give you no information that would be of any use to you. My mind was so completely occupied with the great events of the batile, that I could not pay any attention to its minor details. All that I can tell you is, that we met the enemy: that we fought a battle: and that we gained a victory."
As we have already had occasion to observe, Sir John Sinclair was not a man to be diverted from his purpose by even the most unpromising disappointments. As he was not prepared for the task of giving to fame the story of the three days contention, he was contented to limit himself to the history of one; and instead of the Battle of Waterloo entire, Sir John has only written the episode of the attack on Hougomont.
These martial reminiscences shortly subside into the most tranquil discussions, and, indulging in some soothing thoughts on a peace establishment, the philanthropic baronet easily prepares is for the appearance of the clerical correspondence, the extent of which