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its authority. A salutary change is thus working. The aristocracy cannot be blind to the truth, that, to preserve their eminence, they must keep equal pace (that is, pre-eminence) in the race with intellect and knowledge. Be assured the truth is felt.
And this brings us to the question now beginning to be mooted, whether an elective be not preferable to an hereditary aristocracy? It should seem that it is not. It is here that Mr. Burke's “ train of legitimate presumptions" displays its force in favour of the aristocracy of birth. The individual who achieves the greatness which (throwing out of operation the natural weight of possessions, and admitting an elevation for pure virtue's sake) would point him out for the place of honour, must of necessity have passed his life in some one active pursuit,—the field, the sea, the law, or in commerce. His superiority is the result of experience: he is courageous, skilful, acute, or prudent; but is he trained to legislation ?-is his mind imbued with those constitutional reverences, with that desire of stability, which the theory of our balanced government (made good by centuries of practice) assigns to the order ? On the contrary; he would enter the House of Peers impressed with all the desires and impelled by all the energies that have led to his exaltation. Would he stay the too rapid progression which the theory of our legislature justly anticipates and provides against by the order to which he now belongs ? He would not—he would rather assist the impulsion of the Commons—he would be, to all intents and purposes, the creature, and would become the agent of that impulsion *. He would then reverse the action of the constitution, which, by making the peerage so far elective as it now does, renews the virtue by fresh creations,
* Friendly as we are to reform, to that reform which has restored the vigour of the democracy to the constitution, we, for that very reason, insist but the more vehemently upon preserving to the aristocracy all its dignities. If ever there was a time or an occasion which seemed to demand the grave authority Paley describes in the passage we are about to quote, that time arrived, and that occasion was created, with the passing of the Reform Bill. “ The popular use and design," says Dr. Paley, "of this part of the constitution, the House of Lords, are the following :First, to enable the king, by his right of bestowing the peerage, to reward the servants of the public in a manner most grateful to them, and at a small expense to the nation; secondly, to fortify the power and to secure the stability of regal government by an order of men naturally allied to its interests; and thirdly, to answer a purpose, which, though of superior importance to the other two, does not occur so readily to our observation ; namely, to stem the progress of popular fury, Large bodies of men are subject to sudden frenzies ; opinions are sometimes circulated amongst a multitude without proof or examination, acquiring confidence and repu, tation merely by being repeated from one to another; and passions founded upon these opinions, diffusing themselves with a rapidity which can neither be accounted for nor resisted, may agitate a country with the most violent commotions. Now, the only way to stop the fermentation is to divide the mass, that is, to erect different orders in the same community with separate prejudices and interests. And this may become the use of an hereditary nobility, invested with a share of legislation. Averse to those prejudices which actuate the minds of the vulgar, accustomed to contemn the clamour of the populace, disdaining to receive laws and opinions from their inferiors in rank, they will oppose resolutions which are founded in the folly and violence of the lower part of the community. Were the voice of the people always dictated by reflection ; did every man, or even one man in a hundred, think for himself, or actually consider the measure he was about to approve or censure, or even were the common people tolerably steadfast in the judgment which they formed, I should hold the interference of a superior order not only superfluous, but wrong : for when everything is allowed to difference of rank and education which the actual state of these advantages deserves, that, after all, is most likely to be right and expedient which appears to be so to the separate judgment and decision of a great majority of the nation ; at least, that, in general, is right for them
which have the effect of preventing the obstinacy of prejudice likely to be engendered by stagnation. Again if the peerage be made elective, in whom is the election to rest ? Reside where it may, its consequence would be only to lessen the prerogative of the Crown, If the office be held during life, as is proposed, the especial intent of the House of Peers – stability-would at once be lost, and it would become no other than a permanent House of Commons, its members changing by death. Either proposition overthrows the constitution. We reason upon general principles—upon the use, not the abuse of the order-upon a return to those great occasions when such ability as has lifted the Duke of Wellington and Lord Brougham to the peerage shall constitute the claim to distinction, not the mere subserviency to a minister, which raised the ministerial mushrooms of Mr. Pitt. The one, we repeat, is the use—the other, the abuse of the prerogative..
We ascribe then, to the vast and general accumulation of wealth; to the facilities of communication which, extending connexion over so wide a surface and embracing such vast numbers, dissever but too much the closer ties, and dissipate the deeper affections; we ascribe to the power which generates the love of excess, and to the opportunities of concealment which a densely peopled metropolis afford; we attribute to the intense luxury thus engendered and protected, the evils which are falsely charged against aristocracy. Yet we ought to point out that wealth implies the superior powers by which it is acquired; and hence it is neither unnatural nor unwise to yield to its possessors the fair credence that they in general inherit the qualities that constitute “respectability.” It is no more just to infer that a rich man must be a fool or a profligate, than that a poor man must be weak or dishonest; and although it is “ legitimate principle” that station and wealth are the rewards of those who," for their success, are presumed to have sharp and vigorous understandings, and to possess the virtues of diligence, order, constancy, and regularity, and to have cultivated an habitual regard to commutative justice,” they are not more honoured now, not more identified with “ respectability,” than they have ever been in all ages and countries entitled to the character of civilized. War is no longer the sole or even the supremelyvalued employment of mankind. The world is now, as heretofore, ruled by intellect, though differently instructed; and the chief distinction is, that the mind, having received a new direction, is more generally as well as more easily cultivated. There is no fear of the ascendancy of talent not being acknowledged. The House of Commons is at last become an antagonist power to the Peerage, and is mainly guided and impelled by
which is agreeable to their fixed opinions and desires. But when we observe what is urged as the public opinion to be in truth the opinion only, or perhaps the frequent profession, of a few crafty leaders; that the numbers who join in the cry serve only to swell and multiply the sound, without any accession of judgment or exercise of understanding; and that oftentimes the wisest counsels have been thus overborne by tumult and uproar,—we may conceive occasions to arise in which the commonwealth may be saved by the reluctance of the nobility to adopt the caprices or to yield to the vehemence of the common people. In expecting this advantage from an order of nobles, we do not suppose the nobility to be more unprejudiced than others; we only suppose that their prejudices will be different from, and may occasionally counteract, those of others.”
popular opinion. The standing ground of the aristocracy is narrowedthey can only display their power in their own house —they can secure and confirm it only by making the mildest, best, and most virtuous use of their station, wealth, and attainments out of doors. If they neglect or despise the warnings of the time, they will soon be no more.
We would not veil its faults or its failings; but we hope that we have demonstrated and established that aristocracy is a part of the British constitution as useful as essential—that it is a compact and separate body, not to be confounded with the merely wealthy or the merely fashionablethat its influence is directed to the benefit of all the other orders, even if it only counteract the tendency to democracy (that “giant shadow of the coming republic;"')—but that, in truth, it is felt advantageously in legislature, in art, and in manners, so far as it really extends. We have endeavoured to show that there is nothing new or profound in the charges made against the order or in the arguments by which they are sustained, and that the force, if any, lies chiefly against others with whom the aristocracy is wilfully confounded. We have displayed the means by which abuses of the order introduced in the progress of society are likely to be checked and corrected. Our task is ended.
THE PALACE OF THE MAREMMA.
BY MRS. HEMANS.
[The history of Desdemona has a parallel in the following passage of Dante. Nello della Pietra had espoused a lady of noble family at Sienna, named Madonna Pia. Her beauty was the admiration of Tuscany, and excited in the heart of her husband a jealousy, which, exasperated by false reports and groundless suspicions, at length drove him to the desperate resolution of Othello. It is difficult to decide whether the lady was quite innocent, but so Dante represents her. Her husband brought her into the Maremma, which then, as now, was a district destructive to health. He never told his unfortunate wife the reason of her banishment to so dangerous a country. He did not deign to utter complaint or accusation. He lived with her alone, in cold silence, without answering her questions, or listening to her remonstrances. He patiently waited till the pestilential air should destroy the health of this young lady. In a few months she died. Some chroniclers, indeed, tell us, that Nello used the dagger to hasten her death. It is ce in that he survived her, plunged in sadness and perpetual silence. Dante had, in this incident, all the materials of an ample and very poetical narrative. But he bestows on it only four verses. He meets in Purgatory three spirits; one was a captain, who fell fighting on the same side with him in the battle of Campaldino; the second, a gentleman assassinated by the treachery of the house of Este; the third was a woman unknown to the poet, and who, after the others had spoken, turned towards him with these words :
6. Ricordati di me; che son la Pia ;
Sienna mi fé, disfecemi Maremma.
Edinburgh Review, No. LVIII.]
Ont le pire destin ;
THERE are bright scenes beneath Italian skies,
Where glowing suns their purest light diffuse,
And nature lavishes her warmest hues ;
Where the cool shade its freshness round thee throws;
With gentlest whisper lures thee to repose;.
Not robed in terrors, or announced in gloom,
And veiled in flowers, that smile to deck thy tomb :
That these but charm us with destructive wiles ?
Danger is masked in beauty-death in smiles ?
Disguised in loveliness, its baleful reign,
Gay with the riches of the south, in vain,
Were formed to echo music's choral tones,
Peopled by sculpture's graceful forms alone;-
Midst the deep shades of plane and cypress rise,
Of old Arcadia's woodland deities.
Traces of mightier beings on your brow,
Extends the desert of his empire now ;-
His crowned and chosen victims-o'er their lot
In turn was loved and mourned, and is forgot, * See Madame de Staël's fine description, in her Çorinnę,' of the Villa Borghese, deserted on account of the malaria.
But one who perished, left a tale of woe,
Is floating joyous on the summer air ;-
And graceful revels of the gay and fair,-
Which glows on Art's divinest dream,- her eye
Her cheek a tinge of morning's richest dye;
A soft, sweet shade of pensiveness is cast;
To dwell some thought whose soul is with the past.
Wakening the half-formed tear that may not flow :
She hath not proved as yet,- her path seems gay
Is still the joyous herald of her way;
That nature, fortune, youth at once can give.
Such dreams as ne'er life's early bloom survive;
Is brave and noble. Child of high descent,
Mid slaughtered heaps, the warrior's monument;
Where high-born grandeur blends with courtly grace;
Of fiery passions, darting o'er his face,
But e'en while we gaze, its quick, wild flashes die. * An allusion to Leonardo da Vinci's picture of his wife Mona Sisa, supposed to be the most perfect imitation of Nature ever exhibited in painting. - See Vasari in his Lives of the Painters.
† See the description of this sort of consecrated war-chariot in Sismondi's' Histoire des Républiques Italiennes,' &c., vol. i., p. 394.