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accession of Mr. Macaulay and Lord Clarendon more than compensated for any loss sustained by the withdrawal of Lord Howick. Since the star of Brougham has sunk, no name carries with it more weight among the thinking and educated middle classes than that of Macaulay. His fame, fairly earned in the field of honourable competition; his success in life, untarnished by a single act of meanness or apostacy; his brilliant powers of oratory, and, above all, his name stamped on the records of his country's literature, as one of the best writers and deepest thinkers of his day, - give him a moral influence which the mere politician and debater can never attain. Lord Clarendon also stands deservedly high with the country as one of the first of her foreign statesmen, a man of powerful and accomplished mind, enlarged and liberal views, decided and energetic character. His conduct throughout the difficult and delicate task which he had to accomplish at Madrid, earned him a name among the first European diplomatists of the age, and contributed not a little to consolidate the throne of the infant queen, and enable the cause of constitutional liberty in Spain to surmount the difficulties with which it was surrounded. The interest which used to attach to foreign policy, is now in a great measure lost amidst the more absorbing consideration of domestic difficulties. Still the brilliant success with which the measures and policy of the Whigs have been crowned, in India, in Spain, and in the East, did not fail to produce an impression on the public mind. There is a great deal in the mere prestige of success, and more especially when that success is obtained, as in the present instance, by the result of a long and ably prepared train of previous policy. Men the most unacquainted with the relations of foreign states and continental politics, could not help contrasting the position in which England stood at the commencement of 1840, after ten years of a Whig foreign secretary, with that which she occupied in 1830, when the reins of government dropped from the impotent hands of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. Never had the star of England sunk so low as at that inauspicious
The pusillanimous abandonment of Turkey in her last deathstruggle with the overwhelming force of the Russian colossus, had, in fact, destroyed the balance of power in Europe, and paved the way for a war, in which England would have to contend single-handed for her very existence. The manly, straightforward, and truly national policy, pursued steadily, consistently, and successfully, since the accession of the Whigs to office, has in a great measure repaired the errors of their predecessors, and retrieved the sullied honour of England. Without firing a shot, without incurring the sacrifices of war expenditure, — nay, more, while carrying into effect retrenchments in every department of the public service, and extensive reductions of taxation, the balance of power has been restored, the independence of Turkey preserved, and Russia obliged to postpone her schemes of aggrandisement, and modify her pretensions, so as no longer to threaten at every instant the peace and tranquillity of Europe. In India, the success of British arms and policy has been even more signal and decisive; the measure, equally bold in conception, and prompt and decisive in execution, of re-establishing in Affghanistan the throne of the exiled Shah, has placed an insurmountable barrier between our Indian possessions and hostile aggression, while the moral influence of the gallant exploits of Ghuznee and Khelat has exercised a powerful effect over the population of India and of the East. In Canada, the milder arts of temper, moderation, and good sense, have prevailed over obstacles of a different nature, but perhaps as difficult to surmount as the mountain passes of Candahar and Cabool. The Governor-general, whose appointment threw the whole Tory party into a
frenzy fit, has, in less than three months from his arrival in the country, obtained the consent of the Upper Canadian legislature to the union of the two provinces, and so far composed the elements of discord by his tact and good management, that, unless his plans are thwarted like those of his predecessor, Lord Durham, by the obstructive arts of a selfish and unpatriotic faction, the noble provinces of British America may at last look forward with confidence to the blessings of assured and permanent tranquillity
These successes, however, which in former days would have been sufficient to insure the popularity of the ministry under whose auspices they were achieved, are now almost lost sight of and forgotten, in the more immediate and absorbing interest of domestic questions. The rise and progress of Chartism has been the great phenomenon of the past year; and it is by a reference to the conduct which Ministers have pursued with regard to the Chartists that their claims to public support are measured by a majority of the nation. What is Chartism? It is curious how much nonsense has been talked, and how many discordant answers have been given, to this very plain and simple question. Chartism is nothing new: it is but one of the periodical manifestations of the deep-seated discontent and suffering of the labouring classes. And why do they suffer — why are they discontented — and why do they manifest their suffering and discontent in such blind, outrageous, and utterly unreasoning fashion? Ask those to whom the destinies of the British Empire were intrusted while the present generation of Chartists were being born and educated. Educated, do we say ? say, rather, while they were allowed to grow up like the brute beasts that perish, with every means of instruction and self-guidance sedulously and systematically withheld from them by the selfish policy of their rulers. If we were told of a country whose rulers had squandered 1,000,000,0007. of the national capital in an unjust and unnecessary war — of a country burdened with 25,000,0001. of annual taxation over and above the necessary expenses of government - of a country crippled, moreover, by an oppressive impost on the first necessary of life for the benefit of a privileged order, should we wonder if discontent and misery were found to obtain only too extensively among the mass of the population ? But if, moreover, we were told that for the last half century the principle of what Carlyle so happily terms laissez faire had been acted on in every thing except taxing bread and protecting pheasants — that the population had been allowed to double itself, machinery to effect enormous revolutions in every department of industry, Manchesters, with their thousand mills, to spring as if by enchantment from the soil--and all without so much as the semblance of an attempt on the part of those whom God had made rulers over the nation to perform any one, even the least, of their high functions of guiding, instructing, and leading in the right path the multitudes intrusted to their care should we, we ask, if we were told of such a country, be surprised to hear that ignorance, unreason, bitter animosity, and discontent were rife throughout the land, and ever and anon broke forth in some such frightful form as this which we call Chartism?
And such, alas ! is our own case; such the bitter fruits we are condemned to eat for the sins of our forefathers; such the seeds of the evil which all feel and lament, but which, as years of bad government have gone to the sowing, so years of good government can alone eradicate.
The more immediate and superficial causes of Chartism are to be found doubtless in the agitation against the New Poor Law. It is in fact a logical deduction and corollary from the doctrines preached by incendiary Oastlers, and patronised, to serve electioneering ends, by men high in station and au
thority. What said the opponents of the New Poor Law? was it not this, that the legislature is bound to provide the labouring man with labour, to insure to every one throughout the land a fair day's wages for a fair day's work? There is, and there can be, but one answer to this—that the thing is impossible. Granting it to be possible, which by all those who have joined in the clamour against the New Poor Law is in fact assumed, what possible excuse can be given for the legislature which neglects this, the first of all duties? Admit this premise, and we shall be the first to say with the Chartists, "away with them! for it is not fit that such fellows should live upon the earth.” Nay, to look deeper into the matter — perish all distinction of classes and the institution of property itself, if they be found incompatible with this, which, if possible, were the first fundamental law of every human society, the unalienable, unalterable right of every human being.
Such are a few of the conclusions which the Chartists, reasoning better than many a mitred bishop and conservative statesman, have drawn from the premises thrown among them, like firebrands among dry tinder, by the very men who now call out, to quench the conflagration in torrents of blood.
It is not, however, with a theory of Chartism that our concern is here, but rather with the manner of dealing with the immediate and practical evil. How Ministers have acted is now before the country; their policy may be summed up in a few words. It has been, to disarm Chartism by a mixture of lenity and firmness ; to trust to the powers given to them by the law; to keep strictly within the letter and spirit of the constitution ; to throw themselves, without hesitation, upon the good sense and good feeling of the country; and, above all, to conciliate the affections of the middle classes, and of the Irish millions, to the cause of order and government. The success of this wise and humane policy is now placed beyond a doubt. Chartism, lately so formidable, bas dwindled away literally for want of a little persecution to keep it alive. The National Convention has dissolved itself amidst the laughter of the nation; and if occasional outbreaks and acts of outrage still take place, it is because the numbers of the disaffected are reduced every where to a handful of desperate and disappointed men. Nor is it all, that the danger has been for the present removed. The success of a merciful and humane policy insures us for the future from the repetition of the disgraceful scenes which stain so many pages of our past history. Thank Heaven ! we shall have no more Peterloos, no more dragonnades, no more suspensions of the Habeas Corpus, no more sending of spies to goad the excited people to insurrection, no more Attorney-Generals going about like roaring lions seeking whom they may devour. The trial of Frost and his colleagues, in open court, by a common jury of their countrymen, before the ordinary judges of the land, defended by able counsel of their own choosing, is an era in the history of civilisation which will not be forgotten.
Thus far have we, from the vantage ground and standing-place afforded us by the late debate on the motion of want of confidence, cast back a hasty glance over a few of the more prominent circumstances which have marked our political history, since the reconstruction of the Melbourne ministry in May 1839. The great advantage of this debate is, that it has placed, as it were on record, and made part of history, the events and changes which have taken place during this period. It is at once the proof and the result of the decline of the Tories in public favour, and the steady continued advance of the Liberal party. The decisive triumph of the division, — the compact and cheerful union exhibited by all grades and
classes of Reformers, and still more, perhaps, the ill-concealed dissensions and weak, evasive, bitter, and yet desponding tone of the Tory speakers, show that in the present parliament Ministers have nothing to fear. Their existence no longer, as in May last, when their majorities upon vital questions had dwindled to five and two, hangs by a single thread. On the other hand, the improved tone of public opinion, and the triumphant success of the Liberal candidates, in the recent elections at Southwark, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Devonport, Newark, and Falmouth, hold out the fairest hopes of success whenever it shall be thought expedient to appeal once more to the nation, and stand the test of a general election. Such are the present prospects of the Liberal party; promising, no doubt, and as compared with the condition of affairs less than a twelvemonth ago, in the highest degree satisfactory, but still calling for unceasing vigour, exertion, and, above all, union, among the friends of liberal principles. Ministers have played their part well — much better than many of those who cry out against them for not doing impossibilities; but ministers, it must be always remembered, are but the leaders of a party, and can only act as they are supported and assisted from without. That in their own executive department, where they are free to act, with no other obstructions than such as the factiousness of party may from time to time throw in their way, they will continue to conduct the affairs of government with credit to themselves and advantage to the nation, we see little reason to doubt. But for
any thing beyond this; for great legislative reforms, for the modification of oppressive and unjust corn laws, for the ballot, and other measures necessary to insure the fair representation guaranteed by the Reform Bill, and, above all, for the vital and all important measure of national education, the people of England must look to themselves. The maxim “ Aide toi et le ciel ťaidera” can never be repeated too often to the friends of the Liberal cause.
Bestir yourselves, organise, register, - in a word, do all that in you lies to secure the return of a strong majority of staunch liberal candidates at the next election, and depend upon it, the difficulties which now seem so formidable will vanish like the morning mist. Depend upon it, Ministers will not be found wanting, if you strengthen their hands; but if, on the other hand, you prefer sitting still lamenting over the times, exaggerating difficulties, quarrelling with your friends, and grumbling at those who are working strenuously and faithfully to the best of their abilities, in defence of the common cause; do not complain if you find Ministers weak, the enemy rampant, and things going on not exactly as you have a mind to see them. Once more we repeat, the aspect of affairs is promising; Ministers have done their duty, and struggled manfully and successfully with unnumbered difficulties; the Tories are baffled, disunited, and desponding; a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether, and the cause of reform is safe. Let every Reformer seize hold of the
where it first comes to hand, and pull like a man.
LEIGH HUNT'S « LEGEND OF FLORENCE."
A Legend of Florence; a Play in Five Acts. By Leigh Hunt. London:
Edward Moxon. 1840. If it be the imperative condition of seeing through a millstone that there be a hole in it, to the calm speculator it would no less appear that the condition of a right appreciation of a drama were the understanding of it. The modern Lynceus and modern critic (Arcades ambo), however, both magnanimously dispense with these conditions, and continue pertinaciously to see through stones, be they never so thick, and to criticise dramas of every calibre, with a calmness of nerve and strength of heroism by no means to be overlooked. Nevertheless, to understand a drama, and to understand your notion of it, are by no means convertible terms, though the Zoilus of the newspaper, or even
Quarterly," seem to consider so. To understand one drama requires some accurate knowledge of the drama in general — its aim -- its scope
and its laws; but this knowledge, even in a slight degree, is not only not possessed by the majority of professed critics, but unfortunately is not by them regarded as necessary. Criticism with them is not, as with Longinus (vi.), rouans neipas TeleUTASOV eniyevinud, but simply a dashing, off-hand, knowing method of praising or blaming; often witty and workmanlike of its sort — the sort, alas ! questionable. To add to this evil they have the excuse of haste. They see a new play, and the next morning their account of it is greedily read by thousands. The necessity for this extreme haste we really do not see they might wait a night or two, as on the Continent, to mature their consideration; but even granting it necessary, -"fugit irrevocabile verbum,” - that which is said in haste, is read in leisure and believed! The prodigious and mysterious authority of the “We” impresses so much more than “I, John Ignoramus,” to which, in fact, it reduces itself!
That this evil, as many other evils, of criticism does very perniciously exist, no one can doubt. This magazine has uniformly raised its voice against it, and endeavoured, it is hoped not unsuccessfully, to introduce a new procedure with a higher feeling for art and for the office of criticism; but this feeling will be expended on vague generalities, and induce the most detestable of all styles, fine writing, if it be not directed to some goal — this goal is Esthetics. It may not be novel, but it is strictly necessary to announce that Blair's Lectures and Lord Kaimes's Elements are quite other than useful ; and the enquirer must throw them aside, and turn to Germany, where Æsthetics is one of the received philosophical sciences, towards the completion of which Kant, Schelling, Hegel, Göthe, Schiller, the Schlegels, Jean Paul, Novalis, Tieck, Solger, Gans, in fact all the illustrious names, have contributed. To say nothing of dictionaries, cyclopædias, and essays, Jean Paul, Solger, and Hegel have cast it into rigorous philosophic classification and division; and we regard the three ponderous volumes of Hegel as the study of a life in mastering, verifying, or correcting its principles. Without staying to answer the charge of " transcendentalism,” we conceive it sufficient to point to the results as shown by their critics. Where do we look for information on the Greek, Roman, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese literatures — nay, even on our own Shakspeare — but to Germany? From whence do our periodical essayists get their principal matter ?
We do not * Vorlesungen über die Esthetik. Berlin, 1838.