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office, and indeed after it had been proved, by a long and alarming abeyance of the powers of government, that, without this previous condition, no government could, in that great crisis of the affairs of the world, have been constituted. That is the first differencea difference in the facts of the case.
The second is a difference of principle, not less decisive. The Reform Bill had not then passed. The great object of that bill was to destroy the system of virtual representation which gave to the members of the House of Commons, both in theory and practice, a right of individual judgment paramount to, and in some degree independent of, the opinions of particular constituencies. But the reformed House of Commons professes to be an actual representation of its constituents. There are no longer any close boroughs to which a public man may retire --- as Mr. Wilberforce did from Yorkshire - or Mr. Canning from Liverpool — or Sir Robert Peel from Oxford—in order to be at greater liberty to forward what the individual statesman considers to be the general weal of the country, unfettered by the prejudices, passions, or local interests to which large constituencies are liable. The Reform Bill affects to afford a full, and real, and bonâ fide representation of the people. How, then, can those who framed that bill-those who derive their their seats, their places, and their power from it, and it alonehow can they have the effrontery to talk of close or open questions ? Can any question be close ? Is not every question open? Are not all the regenerated representatives of the people at full liberty to follow, in their parliamentary conduct, the instructions of their constituents? or, where those wishes may not have been expressed, the unbiassed dictates of their own judgment and conscience ?
An open question! Have, then, all the other great questions of this session and the last been close? Have we now an avowal that there is as used to be said of the Throne-a power behind the PEOPLE, GREATER than the people itself-a mysterious but irresistible power, which shall proclaim to the real, the bonâ fide representatives of The Nation, On every question in the whole vast circumference of public affairs you shall say ay at my signal, and no at my nod; but if there should happen to be a solitary point on which I cannot make up my own mind,-or dare not avow the mind I have made up,--or find it convenient to create anxiety and doubt-on that one question I allow you to have an opinion on that I consent to your exercising your judgments -On one day in every two years, I graciously permit you to have a conscience?' Such, in common sense and plain language, is the real interpretation of the term-open question; and we will venture to assert, that the recent use by the Minister of that expression was, under all the circumstances of the case, an instance-not of
inconsistency—that is too poor a term—but of effrontery and profligacy, unparalleled in our political annals. No wonder, then, that it excited surprise. But it also created a painful alarm. It was reasonably supposed that the Reform Ministry would not so early and 30 audaciously throw away its mask without some great and urgent motive; and it was apprehended, that what is for convenience called the agricultural interest, but which is, as we have shown, in the largest and truest sense of the term, the interest of the whole nation-the interest not of the land alone, but of trade, of commerce, of arts, of manufactures of good order—of the constitution—nay, of the very animal existence of the people,- it was apprehended, we say, that this universal interest was about to be abandoned to the ignorant and the insane-to the demagogue and the theorist-to the proselytes of that ridiculous but perilous paradox, that it is possible at the same time to raise the price of labour and lower the price of food. Every rational man, who looked at the practical state of the country, foresaw that what is called a free trade in corn would, by shaking the great basis of national wealth, disturb the surest supply of public sustenance, and risk the great principles of public order. Those who looked further into moral consequences trembled at the effect of a general disappointment of the lower classes, and at the risk which might ensue to the very vitals of society, when it should turn out that the change had produced, as assuredly it would, lower wages and less food,,pauperism and famine.
Such were the apprehensions excited by the idea that the Government meant to abandon the present system of corn-laws; but fortunately the debate and the division proved them to be, for the moment, unfounded. These Ministers are never bona fide: whether they flatter or menace, whether they consent or decline, whether they seem conservative or destructive,—all is 'false and hollow'— all trick and juggle—all vacillating, inconsistent, fictitious, and deceptious. "I was a false alarm. The unanimous cabinet-the great body of the office-holders--the dense mass of their adherents were steady in their resistance to Mr. Hume; and, on the division, it appeared that this farce of an open question had been announced for the joint benefit of Mr. Edward Ellice and Mr. Poulett Thomson, who were thereby accommodated with an opportunity of giving a popular vote, to conciliate their anti-cornlaw friends at Coventry and Manchester, and to facilitate their reelection, if it should happen that, by a change of their present offices for something higher, these great Statesmen should have to undergo the unpleasant ordeal of the hustings !
And was it for this shabby and contemptible object that the ministry was so rash as to alarm the country on so vital an interest VOL, LI, NO, CI.
and so indiscreet as to broach, to a Reformed Parliament, the awful mysteries of questions close and questions open ? We verily believe it was. They dropped their awful mask for this mean and silly purpose ! and though the debate was protracted to a second night, the discovery of this poor juggle, and its poorer object, so paralyzed all feeling, that the question which on Thursday morning had created the most intense anxiety on all sides, was disposed of on Friday night with less interest than any other question of the session.
In the debate, however, two things were remarkable : Lord Darlington stated, and was not contradicted, that while the government professed neutrality, it was secretly but zealously endeavouring to swell the majority against Mr. Hume; yet, of the half-dozen officemen who voted in the minority, we find the son, the son-in-law, the brother-in-law, and the nephew of the Prime Minister. Lord Grey, it seems, fancied this corn question was so perilous a quagmire, that, while he insisted on dragging the 6 wodao. of his followers through it, he, with parental tenderness, allowed his own family to escape.
The other remarkable incident was the conduct of the First Lord of the Admiralty : Sir James Graham had, a few nights before, distinguished himself by the high honour and consistency of his conduct in the affair of Mr. Baron Smith, in which, amongst the faithless only faithful found,' he adhered to what had been the first resolve of the government, and vindicated—even amidst the tergiversation of his colleagues—the wisdom and justice of the original determination of the cabinet. On the corn question, again, the Right Honourable Baronet came forward with equal dignity and more powerful talent; his speech was one of the ablest ever delivered on such a subject-clear in its arrangement, strong in its facts, irresistible in its arguments—and pronounced with such appropriate eloquence and such evident sincerity, as to obtain and deserve the applause and confidence of an immense majority of the House.
The danger of any sudden change of system is therefore overfor the present-perhaps even for the session ; though we confess that the visible conduct of the Grey family—what we have heard and believe of the feelings of a considerable party in the cabinet on this occasion and indeed our general impression as to all the
sayings and doings' of a government which, like a pendulumclock, is kept going only by oscillation-must necessarily excite considerable uneasiness as to the future. Sir James Graham's speech has already done much good in the country, and will do more as it is more maturely considered ; and we have some hopes that it may tend to render real and effective, the apparent unanimity of the cabinet. As to the people,
we know how hard it is to persuade mankind to look to consequences—to postpone a seeming present advantage to a more solid but remote benefit; but we still hope that the unanswerable arguments which have been adduced against any hasty and inconsiderate alteration of the present system of corn-laws, and the utter discomfiture of Mr. Poulett Thomson in the late debate, may create in all sober minds, even of the lower classes, a salutary suspicion that what is called cheap bread may only be the first step to no bread at all. We have already expressed our fear that the fable of Menenius would have now little effect with a popular assembly: perhaps it might be more struck with the shorter and livelier instance given by Montesquieu of the savages, who, to get more easily at the bread-fruit, cut down the tree on which it
NOTE On the Article in No.C. on the ' Journal of a West India Proprietor.' We are extremely sorry for having inserted in this Article, without due inquiry, an extract from a manuscript diary, conveying an unpleasant, and, as must now be evident, a wholly unjust reflection on the character of Mr. Lewis (father to the author of The Monk'). We have since received a letter from that gentleman's son-in-law, Sir Henry Lushington, in which he says—I do not believe there ever existed a more honourable or generous man than the one who has been accused of reducing his son's income one moiety, because that son had not forgotten his duty to his mother. I am fully convinced that Mr. Lewis did not reduce his
son's income from any such motive; nor is it likely, that the man of whom M. G. Lewis speaks (in a passage quoted by the “ Quarterly Review” itself), “as one of the most generous persons that ever existed,” could have been influenced by such sentiments. The fact is, Mr. Lewis reduced his son's allowance because his own means were so diminished as to compel him to alter every part of his establishment, even to letting his house, and laying down his carriage: and I can, moreover, state from my personal knowledge, that the allowance Mr. Lewis continued to his son, was actually more than one-half of his own English income.' We feel sincerely obliged to Sir H. Lushington for giving us the means of thus correcting the effect of our rash citation.