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be criticised on principles very different from those which apply to other forms of composition. You do not look in an advertise- . ment for the qualities which belong to a history. It may be interesting to discuss how far the facts stated in the advertisement are accurate, or how far it has been necessary to distort or to overlay them; but it is not upon the accuracy of the facts that the merits of the advertisement will turn. If its appearance be opportune, and its treatment skilful, it has fulfilled the end of its being
We are far from denying to it the first of these two merits. There can be no question that the need for some such manifesto was pressing. Both on the private merits of Lord Russell, and on the public services of the Liberal party, public opinion in its present condition needs an energetic alterative treatment. There has been an active competition going on recently among distinguished statesmen for the reversion of the Premiership, which is likely before long to be disposable: and the name of Lord Russell does not stand high upon the list of favourites. No small part of the preface we are considering seems to have been composed with the design of leading the public to a healthier frame of mind upon that question. Lord Russell does not, however, for this purpose dwell much upon the transactions in which he has been prominently before the world during the last fifteen years. He does not say much about the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill—or the 'stab in the dark 'which destroyed Lord Aberdeen's Government-or the Vienna negotiations--or the two abortive Reform Bills of 1854 and 1860. For reasons which are, no doubt, satisfactory to his own mind, he prefers to pass over these more recent claims to public confidence, and to revert to the days of Lord Durham and Lord Grey. He had been usually in the habit of holding himself out as the author of the Reform Bill of 1832, though he was not even a member of the Cabinet by which it was passed; but he certainly shows in these pages that he bad sufficient justification for doing so. Most of the important clauses in the Bill were derived from suggestions of his own, submitted in a plan to Lord Durham, and through him to Lord Grey. In some respects Lord Russell's proposals were more conservative than the law ultimately passed. He proposed in new boroughs an alternative rate of voting of fifteen pounds, and in counties he would have put a stop to all manufacture of votes by Land Societies, by providing that no new rights of voting should be acquired in counties, except for properties of the yearly value of ten pounds. The Reform Act, however, in its main outlines corresponded closely with the project of Lord Russell. Whether the ideas he suggested were original, or whether
they were in any degree suggested by the chiefs who afterwards formally adopted them, cannot now be known. To Lord Russell at all events belongs the credit of having been the first member of the Government of 1830 to place them upon paper.
Though a considerable portion of the preface is devoted to the theme . quorum pars magna fui,' a larger part is occupied with a more general panegyric upon the Whig party. We are equally ready to admit the opportuneness of this part of the advertisement. The Whig party, materially speaking, is in a very prosperous condition; for it has been, with scarcely an intermission, nearly twenty years in office, and is in possession of all the influence which the exercise of patronage for so long a period can confer. But its position morally is embarrassing in the extreme. Its great victory of the Reform Bill, though loading it
. at the time with many spoils, laid upon it a burden which seemed light at first, but under which its strength is gradually giving way. It has been condemned since that time to serve two masters, with demands equally exacting, and with views diametrically opposed. The Whigs have always been essentially an aristocratic party. While its opponents have found their strength among the smaller gentry, the old county families of England, the Whigs have existed by virtue of the combination of a few powerful houses, the representatives of the victors in some one or other of the great convulsions through which the country has passed. From the dissenters they have at various times received much effective support.
But the older race of Whigs never appealed to the democracy. Charles Fox attempted it, and he was rewarded by the loss of the best half of his adherents. As in the Reform Bill the democratic element became powerful, its allegiance was naturally paid to the party to whom it owed its power. For the time the combination between the magnates and the mob seemed to carry all before it. Even now, when the war in America has blown the whole fabric of Democratic theory into the air, that combination is vigorous enough to make head against the strong flow of Conservative feeling which the last five or six years have witnessed. But it has the essential weakness, which no numerical preponderance can heal, of uniting, in one force, directly antagonistic interests. The owner of half a county, and the heir of a long pedigree, can never desire the same distribution of political power, or the same adjustment of taxation, as the artisans of a manufacturing town. The tenacious organisation of party, and the zeal of those to whose ambition it ministers, may for a long time induce the wealthy duke and the populous borough to throw their vote into the same scale even after their interests have diverged ; but the time must come when the
hollowness of the alliance will betray itself. There are many things which the great Revolution families have been willing to surrender for the sake of retaining political power; but there is one thing that they will not surrender,--and that is political power itself. The time comes at last when the Democratic allies begin to clamour in earnest for such a portion of political power as shall make them independent of their aristocratic leaders, and when that time comes the alliance is in effect broken
up. families will humour the populace by giving it everything, except the power of taking what it likes without waiting for the gist. They will indulge their pet, but they will not make him master.
Indications are not wanting that this fatal point has been reached. The genuine Radicals are becoming dissatisfied with the humble office of stepping-stone to Whig ambition. To have to live on pledges never fulfilled and perpetually renewed, and to be put off with a few insignificant places in the mean time, is not satisfactory either to the personal or the political aspirations of men who have contributed so large a contingent to the conquering army. Such of them, of course, as are Radicals only in word, are satisfied that the promises they extract should never go farther than words; but the more energetic spirits are sincere in their subversive schemes. They really dream of social equality, and equal division of land, and government at the uncontrolled will of the labouring man. So long as they think they are approaching to their ideal, they are content to support that aristocratic party which is the least adverse to their views. They are quite willing to make tools of the Whigs for the purpose of hastening the advent of the democracy to power, and ostensibly to abate their extreme demands while the process is going on. But they are not at all willing that this judicious compliance of theirs should be used for the purpose of enabling a Whig Ministry to remain in power without passing Liberal
In recent years the Whig idea of a model political system has been this—that the Whigs should furnish the placemen, the Radicals should furnish the votes, and the Conservatives should furnish the policy. But this division of labour has been far from satisfactory to the Radicals, who would gladly have furnished a little of the policy and a few of the place-men too. Their love accordingly has cooled marvellously, and their support of the Government has not been enthusiastic. It is true, their obvious discontent bas not directly affected the Whigs in great 'confidence' divisions. Those who complain that the Whigs are too Conservative will naturally not be eager to replace them by politicians more Conservative still; but it chills their zeal and paralyses their fighting power. They do not desert the Whigs, Vol. 117.-No. 234.
but they do not uphold them with any heart; and this lack of warmth, though it may disturb the balance of parties in the House of Commons very little, has a terrible effect among the constituencies. In more than one borough, Whig and Radical have ceased to present a united front to the Tory. There are politicians undoubtedly among the Whigs sufficiently blinded by the fury of the combat to be willing to seize even Radical weapons, if so they could only win the elections. But the entire divergence of ultimate aim between the two parties to the alliance is now so thoroughly brought home to the consciousness of each that any attempt to retain power by such a surrender of conviction would be self-defeated. As many votes would be lost on one side as would be gained by the other. Any pledge decided enough to keep the Radicals to their allegiance, would be the signal for wholesale desertion among the Whigs.
When the future and the present are both uninviting, it is consoling, and may be profitable, to take refuge in the past. An appeal to the reminiscences of former triumphs involves no pledge as to future operations. It cannot be denied, therefore, that Lord Russell has shown considerable sagacity in selecting the form of his electioneering manifesto. The superior wisdom of his choice is sufficiently shown by the melancholy fate of his eldest son; who, daring to pierce into the future, and meddle with definite pledges, has been compelled, by the conflicting terrors of home and hustings, to eat his words twice in the space of a short two months. The topic which Lord Russell has selected is one that is a great favourite with Liberals at present, as it was with Tories five-and-thirty years ago. It is the prosperity of England under the government of the particular party from among whom her rulers have been taken. England has been under the rule of some Liberal leader or other, with little real intermission, ever since the year 1830. During that time she has on the whole prospered well. Her population and wealth have increased greatly, and she has been free from violent political disturbance. From this it is argued that it has been the Liberal Government that has made her prosperous. The argument has been used with great pertinacity and some effect. It would be more effective if it were not capable of being retorted. Between the years 1784 and 1826 England was under the government of Mr. Pitt and the statesmen whom he formedthe Tory party of the day. It is equally true that during that period she increased largely in prosperity, population, and power. It should result by a parity of reasoning that these blessings are the result of Tory rule. It is, in the same way, a very favourite commonplace with Liberal advocates to assert that the content
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ment of the people has much increased in consequence of the Reform Bill, and the measures which immediately followed it. If that were so, the effect should have been most conspicuous when the memory of the benefit was liveliest. Yet during the Chartist riots of 1839 discontent was as active and as demonstrative as it has been at any time since the close of the American War. The truth is, that political arrangements have always been the subject of such keen interest to the educated class, that it is apt to exaggerate enormously the effect produced by them upon the large sections of the community whose minds are fully occupied with the absorbing care for the gain of their daily bread. It is not an abuse or an anomaly more or less that will stir the lower classes to sedition; it is not a Reform Bill that will dissuade them from it when they are moved to it by other causes. There is loyalty and contentment now, because there is no wide-spread distress. There was equal loyalty in 1784, and again in 1789, when the whole nation rallied enthusiastically to the King to rescue him from the tutelage of a clique of great Whig families. At neither period was there the slightest indication of deep-seated discontent with the institutions of the country. Yet those demonstrations of attachment to the constitution, and others which took place at the outset of the Revolutionary War, took place under an unreformed Parliament. The truth was, that neither the loyalty of 1789 and 1864, nor the dis
, content of 1817 and 1839, had any genuine connexion with any matter so wholly uninteresting to the great body of the breadwinning classes as the national representation. The terrible waste of the great war produced a pressure upon the most helpless class, which was only removed in proportion as railways and steamers infused a new life into the commerce of this country and of the world. As this distress recurred in sharp fits from time to time, the men who were suffering under it became desperate, and passionately turned against the social system whose overthrow could bring no loss to them. They saw that their own class was starving in the midst of luxury, and they believed that if the whole power of legislation were committed to their hands the anomaly would be corrected, or at all events reversed ; and any social system would have been equally liable to the hatred of men so driven by the goad of want. such hatred exists now in any formidable degree is due to the fact, not that our institutions are better, but that the country is more prosperous.
A fallacy similar in kind is often employed to magnify the merit of our recent financial policy by those who have an interest in doing so. Lord Russell dwells upon it at great length in the