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ders, flat-nosed, full lips, down-looked, black curling stiff hair, splayfooted, much addicted to debauchery, abusive, quarrelsome, and seldom without a black eye.” On one occasion when the individuals above named went to see him, for the purpose of conversing with his familiar spirits, he was suddenly borne off at the very commencement of his incantation to Battersea Fields, where he strayed about for a whole night, until at length, by frequent inquiry, he found his way back to Shoe-lane.
Evans was celebrated for restoring things that were lost, or detained from the legitimate owner by cunning or force. It happened that a young lady in Staffordshire married a wealthy old gentleman, who settled an estate upon her, which was vested in a trustee for her use. When she became in due time a widow, the trustee refused to give up the titledeeds, and Evans was applied to for the purpose of abstracting them by the agency of his dark ministers. He accordingly spent a whole fortnight in temperance and prayer to his angel Salmon, and at the end of that period he waited on the lady with her title-deeds. The unworthy trustee was prettily punished for his misconduct, for the wing of his house, in which the deeds in question were kept, was blown down by à supernatural storm, and all his own papers were torn in pieces, and scattered in the air !
THE LATE SCENES IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS.
Ir it be true, as we firmly believe it to be, that in the principles and well-regulated practice of representation lies the foundation of the freedom and the power of this nation, it is not, we apprehend, less true that from the second estate of the realm—the legislative body of the aristocracy-are derived the balance and steadiness which have so long kept that freedom, and that power, in their stable, dignified, and lofty position. It were a very easy thing, if it were needful, to cite great and grave authority in support of the theory that a House of Lords is necessary alike for the sustainment and the restraint of the monarchy; but we go further than this, and hold such an authority, so long as it preserves its distinct and elevated character, to be eminently useful in the preservation of general liberty. In the mighty political machine, it regulates, restrains, and equally distributes the energies derived from the representative system. It is what the fly-wheel is to the steam-engine, the regulator of its power, and the guardian of its safety. “The nobility," says Judge Blackstone, “are the pillars which are reared from among the people, more immediately to support the throne ; and if that falls, they must also be buried under its ruins.” This is very good, and well expressed; but the learned commentator might with truth have gone yet farther, and described these “pillars” as the rallying and sustaining points where calm reason and established principles cling fast, when the torrent of popular excitement arises and would, but for these helps, hurry them to destruction in its rushing course.
In ascribing such great utility to the politica leffect of the House of Peers, we believe we have stated no more than experience teaches; and if this be true, it does not much matter whether we can or cannot prove that there is in the constitution of that assembly a security, or a great probability of more wisdom, knowledge, refinement, and steadiness, than the Lower House will be likely to afford. This cannot be necessary to establish a result, which observation of the fact itself has established already; but if we be led by circumstances to foresee, or to dread a falling away of this wholesome influence, then we must, in order to examine the cause of the decline, endeavour to make ourselves acquainted with the cause which has hitherto maintained the authority of a body of legislators not elected by the people themselves, and that too at a period when the popular reverence for titles of distinction--the superstition of politics—is so weakened as to be of almost no account in the estimate of influence.
It has often been objected to the theory of the tri-partite authority in the British constitution, that it involves almost the certainty of collision and consequent derangement, or of a predominating influence of one of the powers over the other two-in other words, that either the indepeňdence of the separate powers must be lost, or the working of the whole be impeded. This objection has much plausibility, and we may well admire that, in the practice of the constitution, so few instances have appeared of the difficulty which it contemplates. There are two ways of accounting for this—first, that there has been, in general, a sympathy between the Houses of Parliament, arising, not only out of the community of interests, but the close connexion,
in very numerous instances, of the individual members of both houses. Most of the peers have had relatives in the Lower House, or friends who had been assisted to their seats by the influence of these peers; so that, except on very extraordinary occasions, there was little danger of à conflict of opinion. Secondly, and in our opinion much more effective in preserving the influence of the Lords, has been the respect in which the people themselves have held that House, in consequence of the manner in which their Lordships have been accustomed to treat the business which came before them. We need not analyze the source of the superior dignity, and greater deliberateness, with which their Lordships examined the affairs which were brought under their consideration. Whether the education of those born to the peerage, or the elevation of the most eminent commoners in the kingdom to that high station, or the sense of independence of popular opinion, and of their own high character to be preserved by their own conduct—whether any, or all of these, had the effect of giving their deliberations the grace and dignified character which certainly was genérally attributable to them, is not the present question; but it is, we believe, indubitable, that to this character they have owed the popular respect which, more than anything else, ensured their influence-that influence which we have affirmed to be so important and so beneficial in the state.
It may not be amiss, in looking at this fact, to borrow an illustration of our argument from the glowing pages of Burke, who never fails to throw a blaze of splendid light upon every subject he touches. Speaking of the things which lead to reverence for our institutions, he says, “ Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity, which prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably adhering to, and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon
which nature teaches us to revere individual men-on account of their age, and on account of those from whom they are descended. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational and manly freedom, than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.”
Here we have all the light that can be required upon the quality and the reason of the popular respect for the House of Lords; a respect which, in spite of the cavilling of those who would ride rough-shod over nature with the hoofs of their coarse philosophy-in spite of mere naked reasoning, which might be disposed to claim supremacy for the decision of those whom we ourselves have chosen to decide-has still preserved the authority of that House, and enabled it to maintain without a murmur its power to stay the rapid course of the (ostensibly) more popular branch of the legislature.
We have now established, or at least distinctly laid down, our two preliminary positions, namely, that the constitutional power of the House of Lords has been hitherto of the highest importance and usefulness to the British people, and that this constitutional power has been chiefly sustained by the respect of the people for the mode and manner in which it has been exercised. And this brings us to the subject-matter which it is our intention—not fully to discuss, for that would be a business of great length and labour-but to notice, in such a way as we trust may be useful in suggesting trains of reflection to others.
Of late we have observed—not on occasions few and far between, but frequently-such a change in the character of the discussions in the House of Lords, as must, if continued, end in a complete loss of that public respect which heretofore the House has maintained. In the discussions to which we allude, the dignified obedience to the rules of order which hitherto has marked that House, the proud submission to the restraints of habitual courtesy, the calm government of passion, the unruffled patience, which examined even the most exciting topics without forgetting itself in an intemperate word—all these have disappeared, and in their place we have beheld banter and ridicule, when the gravest matters were under discussion-unseemly heat and violence in argument, and sometimes such a clamour, and loss of self-respect, as is seldom witnessed in any more dignified scene of controversy than that at the Old Bailey, when inferior counsel, adapting their manner to the taste of their clients, endeavour to brawl themselves into profitable reputation. If discussions of this discreditable nature continue in the upper House of Parliament, its character as a superior deliberative assembly will be lost-it will be considered to have more than the faults of the House of Commons, without the accountability to constituents which is a check
on that assembly, or the temporary character, which, with respect to the lower House, gives frequent opportunity for amendment: it will sink in public esteem, and the inevitable consequence of that will be, if long continued, that its power and usefulness will be at an end.
It is especially a matter of regret, that the chief mover in these scenes of novel indecorum in the House of Lords is the very man who ought, by his presiding care, to prevent them from taking place. The Lord Chancellor himself is the man who, carrying his fiery habits of debate, and his love of victory in discussion (without consideration of the dignity of the means he uses) into the House of Lords, has done so much, and threatens to do so much more, to alter its character—to make it a theatre of popular debate, with more than the usual license of such debate, instead of sustaining its character as a place of grave deliberation. The Noble and Learned Lord has done more than this, he has set an example of contempt for the Peers around him, and the general tone and manner of their proceedings, which the coarse multitude (not of the simple common people, but the vain smatterers in politics) will be most ready to follow. The Lord Chancellor, in his careless determination to distinguish himself, according to the peculiar manner in which his talents enable him to do so most easily, seems utterly to disregard the injury he may do to the character of the assembly to which he now belongs. The weapons which the Lord Chancellor can use with such remarkable power and effect are unseemly in the House of Lords; but what cares he for that? He desires to astound the House, and to fix the attention of the public by the exhibition of his skill and power in sarcasm and invective; and though few things could be more derogatory to the House than such an exhibition, yet he will rather make the House and the country undergo that penalty, than refrain from this method of victory and display. We might point to other members of the House, too, of different politics, whose rash notions and boisterous manner show but little sense of that dignity and propriety which should be ever before them; but from these little harm would be likely to arise, if the authority upon the woolsack* were exercised according to the former spirit of the House of Lords. As it is, however, any Peer who errs upon the side of violence, is apt indeed to find an antagonist upon the woolsack, well pleased to enter the lists with him, and to encounter roars of passion with roars of laughter; but he will not meet that dignified correction and grave rebuke which would restore the House to its proper tone of debate, and re-assert the dignity of its proceedings.
Let it not be supposed that we state these things in any spirit of party hostility to Lord Brougham. We entertain no such hostility. We know and can well appreciate his great abilities—his astuteness, his readiness, his general knowledge, his wit, and his energy in business and in eloquence; all these we acknowledge, but we are not therefore to shut our eyes to the consequences of his method of acting in the House of Lords—we are not to be blind to the fact, that in the exercise of his own power, he is sapping the foundation of the power of the House of
* We are aware that the Lord Chancellor has not, according to the theory of privilege, any power in the House of Lords analogous to that of the Speaker in the House of Commons; but in practice he has been the superintendent and moderator in the debates of the Peers.
Peers, and bringing down in the estimation of the people the character of that high and noble assembly. There is a proper sphere for such abilities as those for which Lord Brougham is so distinguished, and in that sphere we should regard him with pride, as au honour to our country; but we look for something very different in the House of Lords, where, if anywhere, we must find the corrective balance to that sort of influence which abilities of the quality of Lord Brougham's are sure to have.
It will, perhaps, be thought that we make too much of this matter, and ascribe a general character to the debates of the Lords which is warranted only by rare instances. We wish this could be made good by reference to the facts, but it cannot. We do not speak of what took place during the time of general excitement, when the Reform Bill agitation spread everywhere, and peer and peasant were alike wrought upon by fears or hopes into that fever of the mind which might well palliate some departure from ordinary strictness. But now, when that crisis is past, and people begin soberly to calculate its effects, and to take précautions against some of the things which in their former haste they did all they could to encourage, -now, when calmer reason has resumed its sway, we do not find that the House of Lords is more exempt from tur: bulent or unbecoming debate, than it was during the universal disturbance of the settled habits of the nation. Within a month from the date at which we write, several examples have been afforded which it is some what painful to recur to; but, as it is necessary to point out as distinctly as possible the evil against which we desire to warn those whom it concerns, we shall be excused for briefly noticing them.
On the 22d of April, his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester presented a petition to the House of Peers, from a large body of the members of the Senate of Cambridge University, praying that a petition from a much smaller number of the members of the Senate, desiring the abolition of all tests of religion as a preliminary to obtaining degrees in the University, might not prevail with their Lordships. Earl Grey, who had presented the former petition, replied to the speech of the Duke of Gloucester, in an address which, if not convincing, was certainly not unbecoming; but when it came to the turn of the Lord Chancellor to speak, it seemed as though he was anxious to throw scorn upon the solemn obligations and supposed responsibilities of his station. He boasts, in this speech, of his Church patronage, as if but to show how lightly he regarded it. He desires to show the inconsistency of refusing University degrees to those who are not of the Established Church, when privileges of much greater importance as regards the Church itself may be given to those who are not of the Establishment. And what is the example he cites of this latter? Why, his own! He--the Lord Chancellor—the keeper of the conscience of the King, who is the temporal head of the Church, sarcastically vaunts of the loose ties by which he is bound to the Church Establishment. By the present law,” he exclaims, a man may be Lord Chancellor of England-may exercise the momentous and varied trusts reposed in him, and still not be of the Establishment. 1, in my own proper person, can show the absurdity of such a course of argument as that which has been pursued. No head of any college-no three colleges possess half the ecclesiastical patronage which I have the disposal of. I have from eight hundred to nine hun