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of power between commercial and territorial aristocracies; but a large extension of the suffrage would impart a new element which it would puzzle both aristocracies to deal with, and the introduction of which might produce results particularly inconvenient to the "advanced Liberals" who now represent Bury, and other similar places. The political economy and evangelical orthodoxy of our comfortable town classes would find their composure a little disturbed if a few genuine representatives of the feeling of the artisans (like Mr. Holyoake) were to come forward.

It shows a perverted political morale by tacitly assuming (as, indeed, is more or less assumed throughout the essay) that "bribery" is the natural and legitimate counterpoise to "the arts of demagogues.'

It connives at the democratic doctrine of majorities by the mode in which it speaks of the unequal and anomalous character of our present representation.

In our opinion, the three things needful in every Reform discussion are, first and foremost (though negatively), a distinct and practical denial of the principles of "liberty and equality," coupled with a demand of efficient representation of all classes; secondly, an assertion of the right of the artisan class in vir tue of their potency in the nation as it exists, of their intelligence, and many fine moral qualities (and also in virtue of their economical delusions, which nothing else would so effectually tend to dispel), to that position in the government of the country which the principle of representation of classes ought to give them; and thirdly, a demand that by some device or other the thinking power of the nation should have its representatives in parliament, and that care should be taken that the pursuit of practical statesmanship from an early age should not be rendered impossible (as there seems some danger of its becoming), except in the case of those cadets of great families who monopolise the county seats. Unless these three objects are kept steadily in view, and boldly put forward, we can see in parliamentary reform only an evil or a delusion; an evil if at every discussion of it we are only to drift aimlessly a little more in the direction of democracy; a delusion if it is taken up without any idea of satisfying the classes whose demand for it is the real reason why it is undertaken at all.

If we were to proceed to discuss measures, it would be apparent that in advocating a right theory we have no hope of seeing it reduced into any completeness of practice. The choice between a few rough expedients is all that is open to us, and the only use of theorising is to determine the direction in which we shall move, and to show the importance of not giving way any further to a simpler doctrine which it would be far easier to carry

into practical effect. But as in the present condition of parties there seems every probability of our having other opportunities of returning to the subject of parliamentary reform properly so called, we will now briefly address ourselves to one or two of the leading characteristics of Lord Grey's work, in what perhaps it would be fair to consider its principal aspect as an essay on parliamentary government. He uses that phrase to denote the peculiar system which obtains among ourselves, resting on the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, and tending to obliterate in practice the distinction between the provinces of the legislative and the executive powers. He well observes, that while we keep these functions technically separate, one of the most marked distinctions between the British constitution and that of the United States is, that we practically allow them to run into each other. Since his book appeared, there has been a notable instance of the manner in which the fall of a minister may depend wholly and solely upon the view which the House of Commons may take of his conduct in a single exercise of his executive functions. On the other hand, in spite of the occasional recalcitrancy of particular ministries, there is no doubt that the burden of the initiative in all important legislation is practically imposed on the ministers of the Crown. Aristocratic, therefore, as we are, we leave to the House of Commons an unchecked control over the administration, which the Congress of the United States by no means possesses; and we give the widest possible sweep to our political changes by effecting a total change in the temper in which all our legislation is initiated, whenever we disagree with a minister on a single subject of importance. Such an ultrarevolutionary constitutional theory is qualified in practice by the moral responsibility imposed upon the opposition. The efficiency, the stability, and the dignity of our constitution, may be said to depend on the cautious reserve with which we exercise the power of turning out ministries. One of the greatest alterations introduced by the measure of 1832 has been the material reduction of the power of ministers directly or indirectly occasioned by it. It is evident that Lord Grey considers the maintenance of due relations between the House of Commons and the Queen's servants to be the problem which ought mainly to engage the attention of politicians. After describing ministerial authority in the House as "the very keystone of the whole system of parliamentary government," he thus continues:

"Hitherto the undue diminution of this kind of authority in the government, since the passing of the Reform Acts, has not been so seriously felt as it is likely to be hereafter. Until lately various circumstances, and especially the existence of parties formed previously to the alteration in the constitution of the House of Commons, have com

bined to avert, or at least greatly to mitigate, the inconvenience that might have been apprehended from this source. We cannot, however, expect this to continue; and already there are clear indications of the approach of a different order of things, in which, from the dissolution of ancient party ties, and the great curtailment of the indirect influence of the government, the existence of weak administrations may become habitual. The fact of all the most important public questions on which parties were formerly divided having been finally settled, has contributed to increase the difficulty of maintaining the authority of the government in the House of Commons. While these questions were still at issue, they served as a bond of union both to the party which supported, and to that which resisted, the measures in dispute, and helped to keep up the party discipline, upon which the strength of a ministry, as well as that of an opposition, greatly depends.

The events of the last few years are obviously tending to that virtual alteration in the constitution which would result from the loss of the authority of the administration in parliament. There is the greater danger of this, because no change of the law is necessary to bring about such a change in the character of our government. The principle, that the confidence of the House of Commons is necessary to a ministry, was established by no legal enactment, but by opinion and usage, which grew up by degrees. These may be altered as gradually and insensibly as they were originally formed; and the more easily, as there has never at any time been a uniform and unbending rule that ministers ought to retire whenever they meet with a parliamentary defeat. The strongest governments have all occasionally experienced such defeats, under circumstances that have been regarded as making it their duty to bow to the decision of parliament. The government of the country could hardly be carried on, and the just weight of the House of Commons at the same time maintained, if the administration were not allowed on certain occasions thus to submit to it without retiring. But hitherto the rule has been the other way; and it is only of late that there has appeared to be a disposition to multiply exceptions in a manner which may break down the rule. As it becomes more difficult to constitute strong governments, this disposition is likely to increase. A weak ministry, when a popular clamour is raised in favour of measures they know to be wrong, must always be too much tempted to take shelter from responsibility in a sham resistance to them. The House of Commons and the public, on the other hand, may also be frequently tempted to acquiesce in the continuance of a government on these terms, as the easiest mode of carrying some object in favour of which the passions or prejudices of the people may be excited, in opposition to the sober judgment of enlightened and right-minded men."

Lord Grey's desire for "a strong government" is by no means founded on that vulgar liking for rapid and telling legislation and administration which betrays too many superficial observers into a temporary admiration for bureaucratic governments. Nor does he show any tendency to Mr. Carlyle's idola


try of direct individual energy. He is a true English statesman in his dislike both of multiform interference and despotic force. He loves a national government and steady national progress, and wishes neither to keep the people in leadingstrings nor to see them inspired with the enthusiastic and awe-struck loyalty which enables a Cromwell or a Napoleon to treat a nation like an army, and lead them at once by forced marches to a point which their natural energies would take a much longer time to reach. He thinks a strong ministry indispensable, as the only means yet discovered of combining a deep sense of individual responsibility with government by means of a popular assembly. The advantage which he sets before us is a moral one. The system which he approves is one which shall not enable political leaders to find excuses for questionable acts in the pressure of popular or party influences, particularly those of a vehement and temporary kind. The sense that he ap proaches his subject in this spirit, and that he has unusual means of judging of the tendencies of modern changes in our political system, ought to induce us to weigh his opinions with great respect. To recur for a moment to our objections to his mode of treating questions of representative reform, we must take leave to express our regret that his silence upon the great first principles of representative government is calculated to create a misunderstanding of his views on those points upon which he is most satisfactory. We are deeply convinced that there is no real inconsistency between a generous tone with reference to the subject of national self-government, and the assertion of stern principles of thoughtfulness and self-denial in speaking of the duties of those to whom the freest state must look up as its rulers and guides.

As his object is caution and warning, we ought not perhaps to expect to find that he lays any great stress upon the more hopeful appearances of the present state of public affairs; and in suggesting one or two grounds of encouragement for the future, we would not be thought insensible to the dangers on which he insists with so much weight of authority. We venture, however, to think that some of the apparent dangers of our present condition arise from circumstances of a comparatively transient kind, and that germs of future stability may be discerned independently of the extension of that direct governmental influence which he thinks it so necessary to secure by preserving a large body of patronage in the hands of the minister of the day.

And, in the first place, we may observe, that the perpetuation of the party traditions of five-and-twenty years ago, so far from affording a purely preservative influence which we shall miss when those traditions finally die out, is rather a cause of weak

ness than of strength. The efficiency of party organisations depends on the distinctness with which opposing principles are held, and the interest which they excite in their advocates. Now at present there is quite too large a common element in our great parties, and the real division of sentiment and opinion which will one day renew the healthy struggle between outs and ins exists on both sides of the House, but is hampered and masked by a variety of personal and party associations banding men together in connections which are not at issue with each other on really great and important matters. In one sense Whiggism and Toryism will never be extinct; but in another, Toryism is dead already, and it appears to us that we are steadily approaching a state of politics like that which prevailed in the United States before slavery, and annexation, and protection became matters of such absorbing interest, and when the division between Tories and Whigs was replaced by that between Whigs and Democrats. Perhaps we take too cheerful a view; but we cannot help looking on the change with complacency; for what does it amount to but that the party of stability, instead of depending on the blind allegiance of a host of ignorant prejudices, is recruited by men of disciplined and educated minds, who attach themselves to it as a matter of principle? We still feel the effects of that terrific shock with which the eighteenth century closed. A lengthened repose was broken by an ardent and youthful onslaught on every thing established, and stolidity on the one side offered a very wholesome resistance to sanguine and intemperate zeal on the other. But there would be little hope for human affairs if free institutions could only be kept in a healthy state by a perpetuation of this strife between bold discovery and the timid obstinacy of mere use and wont. The elements of a far nobler and truer conservatism are to be found among all parties; and we need not fear but that when the extinction of some old quarrels, and the departure of their heroes from the scene, allow these scattered elements to draw together, they in their turn will take up a sufficient number of untenable positions to afford exercise for assailants ready to measure the strength of their youth against the wisdom and experience of a too cautious Treasury bench.

Another ground of hope is to be found in the habit which Englishmen have of organising themselves quickly when necessary, and not till then. Nothing will induce Englishmen to stand in rank and file on small occasions, and when they are not ordered to do so by what they are pleased to consider competent authority. They hate pomposity and palaver, and will never be made to understand the advantages of routine for routine's sake. For this reason their party discipline is casily relaxed at a time when party struggles do not involve matters of real interest.

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