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resistance to such measures will never be considered in the same light, as if it were pointed against our long tried and justly revered institutions. The British Constitution, in short, cannot maintain itself by jealousy and coercion :-for, being formed to protect the rights of the people, it is not fortified against their hostility.
In point of fact, we take it to be undeniably certain, that the public discontent has increased with the progress of those measures of restraint which have been contrived to quell it. It might be contended, that they have aggravated the distemper: it is certain, at least, that they have proved utterly unavailing. What a frightful progress the general discontent has made, in the short time between 1817 and 1820!* Are we then to persist in the exclusive use of restriction and coercion, after experience has proved them to be ineffectual, and when we have nearly reached their farthest limit? Are we supinely to wait the approaches of civil war? Is no other system of policy to be even tried ? Is conciliation so manifestly impracticable, that it is not worth even the most cautious experiment?
When we see two factions arrayed in order of battle, and ready to take the field against each other, with every badge of irreconcileable difference, and implacable animosity, the one demanding the surrender of the Constitution, the other declaring against the most cautious reformation, we are apt at first to conclude, that every effort to negociate a peace between such parties, must be vain :-We are led to despair of any compromise, between those who petition for universal suffrage, and those who refuse to disfranchise Grampound! A closer inspection, however, somewhat lessens the difficulty. We soon discover that every numerous party, under the appearance animity, contains great diversities of sentiment;- that many of those who, on the whole, prefer one side, are by no means pre
* We have made no remarks here on the fatal policy of the prosecution of the Queen, which, in the year 1820, has so powerfully contributed to the diffusion and increase of discontent. Had a Ca. binet of Revolutionists deliberated on the best means of spreading dispositions favourable to their cause, to the lowliest villages—to the quietest provinces to districts where the sound of our political divisions had never before penetrated ;-had they been desirous of securing a long impunity to libels, and an unrestrained license to popular meetings-had they been devising the most effectual expedients for at once inflaming and emboldening the populace of great cities,-they could not have imagined any measures more suitable to their purpose, than the proceedings of the first Session of the first Parliament of a new reign.
pared to plunge into the excesses of the noisiest and most conspicuous leaders; and that, in process of time, great changes of opinion take place in the interior of every party, before any open division is apparent among its members. After civil confusion has once begun, the current in every party long sets towards violence; but before that unhappy period, the effect of time is always to recruit and strengthen the more moderate. Such dispositions have already begun in some degree to manifest themselves in this country. Many of the Reformers are weary of some of their associates, and begin to recoil from measures, of which they have had leisure to contemplate the consequences. But these divisions cannot be made useful to the country, unless the judgment of the better part of such men be satisfied, and their honcur preserved by some substantial concession. If we turn our eyes to the opposite party, we can still more clearly see, that a great change of opinion has taken place among the most considerable supporters of Government. Many of them are heartily sick of the measures of the last four years, and are well disposed to put an end to these disgraceful scuffles between the Government and the populace. They are not disinclined to try the experiment, whether a change of measures would not contribute to satisfy and tranquillize the nation. If the removal of the present Ministers be necessary to the fairness of the experiment, it is pretty certain that many of their principal supporters will witness the sacrifice with little regret. The hopes of restoring harmony between the different classes in our community, depend chiefly on the possibility of uniting the more moderate of both parties. The differences between them are probably very far from being so wide as they seem : They differ more in language than in opinion, and more in opinion than in feeling. Many, on both sides, who still adhere with the utmost bigotry to their systems, have already begun to shrink with horror from the means by which they must be established, and the effects by which they may be followed. It is not, however, to be expected, that such men on either side will begin the negociation; nor should we despair, if they were for a time to resist all pacific propositions. The animosity of old political an.. tagonists
, the pride of consistency, even the mere force of habit, are obstacles which would require great skill and patience to surmount. But we are not to suppose that the desire of peace may not daily gain strength in the hearts of those who are most actively engaged in war.
To pave the way for better understanding on this subject, let us temperately inquire, whether some of the demands of the people be not reasonable in themselves, and may not be safely, as well as justly granted. These demands relate to an alteration, or Reform, in the constitution of the House of Commons. On this subject, we may lay aside, for the present, the two extreme opinions, one of which demands universal suffrage, and the other refuses all reformation. They cannot be the means of that accommodation of which we are here in search—they are obstacles to its accomplishment. Those who obstinately adhere to them, do in effect profess, that they trust only to superior force, and rely, for the adoption of their system, on victory over their fellow-citizens. Every reasonable expectation of preserving liberty and peace, must point therefore between these extremes: and irr this wide range, there is ample scope for great diversities of opinion. It comprehends all those who can, by any latitude of expression, be called Moderate Reformers, from those who would throw the votes of the delinquent Borough into the neighbouring Hundreds, to those who would newly divide the kingdom into elective districts, and substitute the single qualification of a householder for all the present rights of suffrage.
It is peculiarly difficult to make the supporters of Moderate Reform act as one body: for, from the very nature of their opinions, they are subject to great divisions. This has been always the main source of their weakness, and the standing reproach of their opponents on both sides. While one of the extreme factions set, in every form of the Constitution, the sacredness of an article of faith, and the other ascribe to every visionary project of change the certainty of a proposition in geometry,--the Moderate Reformers, who pretend only to seek for probable means of quiet improvement, are exposed, by the very reasonableness of their principles, to that disunion, from which both classes of their enemies are secured by absurdity and arrogance. It would, however, be a gross deviation from those principles of prudence and expediency on which Moderate Reform is founded, if its partisanswere unwilling, at a crisis like the present, to make some mutual sacrifices of opinion. Most of them agree in thinking, that the direct power of the people in the House of Commons is too small; that the right of suffrage ought to be extended, and the duration of Parliament shortened. A plan which promises suba stantial improvement in these respects, however it may fall short of the opinion of some, or go somewhat beyond that of others, ought to be supported by the main body. The great strength of the cause of Moderate Reform, lies in the middle classes, who att ne present moment have a strong feeling that there are serious wiects and abuses in the Government, and a warm den
ture questions of that nature to be discussed on their own intrinsic merits.
It is obvious, that a plan of peace ought not to be embroiled by the demand of any sacrifices of opinion respecting future controversies; but justice requires, that it should be so framed, that the party which yields should, at the time of the transaction, clearly see all the consequences of his concession.
Fifthly, As a consequence of the previous conditions, the plan should be such as may be reasonably expected to be proposed and carried, by an administration friendly to Reform, but inviolably attached to the Constitution.
All the previous conditions are general, and some of them perhaps rather abstract. This last divests them of their generality, and brings them into the light of practice :-no Reform can ever be peaceably carried, otherwise than by a friendly administration :-all plans which will not bear the test of this condition, are either delusions or instruments of revolution. Whoever seria ously intends Reform, and sincerely designs nothing more, ought constantly to beas in mind, in framing his plan, how a minister could propose it in the Cabinet, or move it in the House of Commons.
The foundations of such a Reform as might fulfil all these conditions, may be found, we think, in the two General Resolutions, moved by Lord John Russell, on the 14th of December 1819, after a speech, which conibined the prudence of a Statesman with the enlarged views of a Philosopher. These Resolutions are as follows
"1. That it is expedient that all Boroughs, in which gross and notorious bribery and corruption shall be found to prevail, shall cease to return Members to serve in Parliament.
. 2. That it is expedient that the right of returning Members to serve in Parliament, so taken from any borough which shall have been proved to have been guilty of bribery and corruption, should be given to some great towns, the population of which shall not be less than 15,000 squls ; or to some of the largest counties.'
The debates on these Resolutions, and on the measure which followed them, are remarkable, as the first occasion on which a majority of the House of Commons showed a willingness to listen favourably to a proposal of Parliamentary Reform. The object of Lord John was twofold:--to redress a particular grievance, and to take that opportunity of introducing a reformatory principle into the Constitution. The nature of his measure, and the conditions under which the principle was to be applied, were well suited to the attainment of these objects. The most material change which we should propose in his plan, would be an inversion of the order of time in which the two Resolutions are to be carried into effect,