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signs of Toryism. The abortive attempt of Sir Robert Peel to take the Treasury by assault has revealed a fact of the highest importance - namely, the decided aversion which the Queen feels for the re-establishment of a Tory government. The personal preference of the sovereign in a constitutional state may be a very secondary consideration when the national will is unequivocally pronounced. But when a nation is divided in itself, a compact and enterprising faction of comparatively little real strength, if countenanced by the sovereign, may easily seize and retain power. Had the throne been filled in the month of May last by one whose sympathies leaned towards the principles of Toryism, the cause of Reform would, undoubtedly, have been arrested for several years to come, even if a decidedly retrograde system of policy had not been adopted. Faction was surprised by a discovery equally unexpected and overwhelming, for a general belief had prevailed among the whole Tory party, that Queen Victoria longed ardently to emancipate herself from the influence of an administration which she had inherited along with her uncle's crown. Since the moment when this illusion was dissipated, the malignity of disappointed ambition has known no bounds. The most revolting series of personal calumnies has been obtruded on the public through the columns of the Tory press, whose only aim during the last seven months appears to have been to poison the public mind against the reigning sovereign, and to make her, as far as possible, an object of popular aversion. The affair of Lady Flora Hastings has been made a fruitful and unceasing topic of declamation against the female circle which surrounds the Queen, accompanied by the foulest insinuations against the Queen herself. The old appeal to the most grovelling fanaticism has been renewed, and an attempt made to inflame the mob once more with those evil passions that gave rise to the disgraceful no-popery riots of 1780. Few things can be more humiliating to an Englishman, if he reflect on the subject, than the mischievous industry with which so large a portion of the public press has for some time past been engaged in the task (a hopeless one we trust,) of corrupting public opinion by fostering or reviving religious animosities. But this atrocious system, this attempt to make the masses instrumental to their own enthralment, through the agency of their fanaticism, is one that cannot succeed. A partial success, if any such have been obtained, must ere long be followed by a complete reaction; and whenever that reaction takes place, the union and reconcilement of the several sections of the Reform party must follow, or, in other words, the nation at large will again apply its combined efforts to the achievement of those great social improvements, the want of which is generally acknowledged. Before such a combination a brawling and all but rebellious oligarchy will again crouch with fear and trembling, while the insulting declamations of treason and disaffection will again be hushed down into the less offensive, though no less offending “whisper” to which it is ever the cue of disappointed faction to have recoursé.
Our Tory oligarchy stands unmasked. The faction failed in their attempt to lord it over the crown, and since that moment they have been the bitterest foes of the youthful Sovereign, whose integrity and singleness of mind defeated their crafty machinations. And this is Conservatism! How basely has that word been prostituted! How treasonable, how revolutionary, have been the designs carried on under its convenient sanction! For 150 years the people of England have been struggling to defend against the encroachments of Toryism those principles of constitutional government which triumphed in the expulsion of the Stuarts. No act more eminently conservative of the principles sanctioned by the Revolution of 1688, has
since then been enacted by the British Parliament, than the Reform Act of 1831 ; and since the passing of that Act no respectable portion of Reformers has avowed any intention to seek for more than a perfectly fair field on which its legitimate consequences may be worked out. The object of the Reform party is now, as it has all along been, to secure the full and free representation of the people of England in the House of Commons; the object of the Tory party has been, from first to last, to make that representation a fiction. Which purpose, we would ask, is most in harmony with the principles on which our constitution is based — which most calculated to promote the overthrow of the institutions that have grown out of it? But when we find the party, whose servility was unbounded towards every king that sanctioned their attempts to corrupt and undermine the institutions of a representative government, equally unbounded in their insolence to a sovereign that refuses to become instrumental to the furtherance of their views, must not all honest men regard with indignation their assumption of “ Conservatism" as their ostensible guide of action ? The abuses of the constitution are, in fact, the only part of it they have ever dreamt of preserving; the spirit of the constitution, from the very day of its birth, it has been their unceasing aim to destroy. To the sovereign their loyalty endures only so long as that sovereign is content to be a passive instrument in their hands, for the oppression and enthralment of the people.
Such is Toryism - such it ever has been--such it will continue to be, and such is the party which a large portion of Reformers have, for some time past, been labouring to restore to power. It remains to be seen, whether, during the session about to commence, any portion of the people will again lend themselves to so suicidal a policy. We trust not, for we cannot close our eyes to the fact, that the dissensions which have of late prevailed among Reformers have given renewed strength to their common enemy; and should those dissensions continue, the eventual triumph of Toryism will be more than probable, to be followed, perhaps, by a sweeping revolution; the final result of which it would defy the most clear-sighted politician 10 calculate.
The general character of the session of 1840 will be altogether decided by the attitude which the Reform party, out of doors, may happen to take. Should the Tories apprehend a successful issue from a dissolution, the system, acted on during the last two sessions, of throwing every impediment in the way of Government, will undoubtedly be persevered in. Such hopes, however, will not be indulged in, if it is once known that the Reformers have agreed to waive all minor differences in the one consideration of keeping the enemies of all reform out of office. The great object, therefore, must be to ascertain the means by which so desirable a union can be brought about. To do this, we must first endeavour to discover the causes which led to the dissolution of that firm and compact union that enabled the people, in 1831, to achieve so signal a triumph over the faction whose disas. trous rule had so long weighed upon them.
The Reform Act of 1831, even among the least sanguine of Reformers, awakened hopes of social amelioration greater than have yet been realised. Among the more ardent of the party, expectations were avowed, which the authors of the measure repudiated from the first. With few exceptions, all Reformers looked forward to the speedy enactment of a measure, that, by placing the elector beyond the reach of intimidation, would secure to him the real exercise of a franchise with which the new law professed to endow him. Without the ballot, it was felt, the corruptions that had prevailed among the old constituency would blossom forth afresh, and to enlarge the number of voters could do little or nothing towards securing the political independence of poor men called upon to submit their votes to the inspection of those upon whom, in many cases, their very subsistence depended. The ballot, accordingly, came soon to be looked on as one of those measures upon the necessity of which nearly all Reformers were agreed; and the continued withholding of what was deemed the necessary sequel to the Reform Act inspired a very natural feeling of disappointment. The hostility of the leading members of the Whig ministry to a measure all but unanimously called for by the great body of their supporters has done much to break up the unity of the Reform party; but it must not be imagined, even had the ballot become the law of the land, that the craving after organic changes, as they are called, would, in the least, have been weakened, unless some means had been found to bring about a decided improvement in the material condition of the masses. The public burthens must be lightened before any thing like general contentment can be looked for; and as long as labour continues to be taxed as it now is, as long as the working man's loaf is doubled in price, in order that a spendthrift peer may be enabled to indulge more freely in luxury, so long discontent will continue undiminished, even should the enactment of the ballot be followed by an extension of suffrage, the abolition of the law of primogeniture, and the substitution of the “voluntary system ” for the costly establishment of a national church.
We have said enough to show that we are far from entertaining the visionary hope, that the concession of the ballot is at all likely to allay the dissatisfaction that prevails among a large portion of the population; nevertheless, we should be well pleased to learn that this measure had been chosen by all Liberals as the rallying point for the ensuing session. Public justice demands, that the elector should be secured against intimidation, and till some equally efficient plan is proposed for the attainment of that end, we shall continue to demand the ballot, not as a concession to be received in lieu of other measures of reform, but as the undoubted and inalienable right of the people, without which the Reform Act must remain a mutilated and imperfect enactment.
The number of Liberals who still linger among the opponents to the ballot is now so small, that we cannot divest ourselves of the hope that at the next general election we shall see this measure adopted as the rallying banner of the party; but in the mean time, we would anxiously caution those who, like ourselves, advocate the justice and expediency of securing the elector's independency by the secrecy of his vote, to beware how they allow their impatience at the indecision of their friends to hurry them to acts which can only tend to strengthen their foes. We cannot yet afford to divide our house; and until Reformers have acquired sufficient power to make the return of Toryism impossible, the great object to which every other ought to remain subservient must be to prevent, at any price, the formation of a Tory ministry.
Next to the ballot we would place the repeal of our existing corn laws, among the measures which the people of England confidently anticipated as the natural consequences of the Reform Act. These laws, however, cannot be repealed until their opponents have agreed on the system which they would substitute. To clamour for the introduction of foreign corn, without even the imposition of a moderate fixed duty, can only lead to disappointment. The thought of such a change is calculated to spread a panic among the whole of our agricultural population; and, by urging it, we only awaken an opposition that promotes the continuance of the present disastrous system. The substitution of a fixed duty, in the place of the variable
scale of averages, would remove the worst evils of the existing law; and while it silenced the apprehensions of all but the mere fanatics among the agriculturists, would create a new source of revenue to the state, sufficient to allow of the reduction of many burthens that now press heavily upon the people. The events of the last session showed sufficiently, that, had there been any thing like earnestness on this subject among their supporters, our ministers would have been willing enough to promote the modification of the existing law. Let us hope that the experience of the past may not be lost to the nation. In union alone can we hope for strength; and should the advocates of cheap bread, foregoing all minor differences, agree among themselves upon the adoption of some definite and practicable scheme, we should not despair of seeing the question reduced to such a tangible shape as might allow the Government to bring it before Parliament upon their own responsibility.
But neither the ballot nor the repeal of the corn laws, nor any other measure certain to encounter the opposition of the Tory party, can have the slightest chance of making its way through the present Parliament.
Until we have had another general election, we must remain, as we have been for the last five years, at a “ dead lock.” The point of view, therefore, in which we ought to look at the coming session, is as an intermediate stage to a general election. If ministers so shape their conduct during the next four or five months, as to revive the courage and restore the union of the Reform party, the period will have been most happily occupied; for as to any practical results from the parliamentary labours of the present House of Commons, we have not the slightest expectation that they will afford satisfaction to any party, or to any fraction of a party. To the elections we must look, and woe upon the country if it be found unprepared for the struggle which those elections will bring with them. Should they give to the Tory party the most trifling majority in the House of Commons, queen and people will be reduced to the same humiliating subjection, and six long years must elapse before an opportunity will present itself to shake off the yoke. In Ireland, a rebellion, or a state of general dissatisfaction, requiring the presence of a large standing army, would be one of the first consequences of Orange ascendancy - for how could Sir Robert Peel afford to incense his Orange auxiliaries, by refusing to surrender into their hands a country which they have long looked on as their legitimate field of action ? But where are the troops to be taken from to form this Irish army of occupation ? Would the advent of Toryism tranquillise the Canadas, or temper the dissatisfaction which exists in our manufacturing districts? If not, the Irish contingent can be obtained only by a large increase to our standing army, and there exists no surplus revenue to defray the increased expenditure. The Duke of Wellington and his friends were eager throughout the whole of last session to augment our naval and military force. In office they would scarcely do otherwise than give effect to their own recommendations; but the revenue is insufficient to meet the increased expenditure. Will they attempt to raise it by the imposition of fresh taxes ?' Or is it by a' renewal of the system of loans, and irredeemable paper money, that we are to be transported again into a fool's paradise of simulated prosperity? Let the fundholders think of this; if they believe that an increase to the public debt will better their security, by all means let them vote for the return of those statesmen, who, in 1830, brought the foreign and domestic relations of the country into so lamentable a condition. We will not, however, anticipate so serious a calamity as the return of a majority of Tories to the next House of Commons; but there is a contingency only one
degree less painful to contemplate, namely, the return of a popular assembly as nearly balanced as the present, one that throws all the negative powers of Government into the hands of the Opposition. This, we regret to say, is an event by no means improbable; on the contrary, it is one we should fully expect if the next elections were to take place without the pressure of strong popular excitement. The Melbourne ministry have often been charged by their opponents with an eagerness to promote this excitement : the contrary is notoriously the fact, and that it is so is deeply to be lamented, for the present apathy will not last for ever, the day of excitement will come sooner or later, and if it arise spontaneously, it may be found much less easy to control and direct, than if it had been systematically called into existence.
The coming session, we repeat it, can prove beneficial to the country only by preparing the way for a general election, which must precede any important act. No measure of a comprehensive character can be proposed that will not give umbrage to individuals on the Liberal side of the House. Men actuated only by factious motives may be kept together by the paramount and intelligible consideration of keeping a minister in or turning him out. The Tory party have but the one object in view, and to this, for the present, every other is made subservient. Their line of conduct is well defined, and temporary desertions from their ranks are not to be apprehended. With the Liberal party the case is different. Split up into a multitude of sections, it is only on mere party questions that complete unity of purpose can be hoped for; seldom can their undivided support be depended on, when measures of practical policy are under consideration. The Jamaica Bill was an instance in point. A few of the habitual supporters of the administration withheld their votes, and the consequence had nearly been the accession of a Tory ministry. With respect to coming measures the same danger is to be apprehended. Is it to be supposed, for instance, that any Canada Bill can be proposed that will command the support of the whole body of Liberals ? Any thing more idle than such a hope, it would be difficult to conceive. Well then, if ten or twelve of their friends desert ministers on the occasion, their Canada Bill must either be postponed till another session, or they must do as they did with the Jamaica Bill, accept a law so altered from its original shape as to do away with the remotest chance of its efficiency. With a House of Commons constituted like the present one, no ministry has the power to work out its own views, and all its measures are mere devices to stave off the difficulty of the moment till a more auspicious opportunity.
To give strength to a party, complete union is indispensable. The Liberal who votes against Lord Melbourne votes in favour of Sir Robert Peel, and the Radical who joins in the outcry against a Liberal minister is co-operating in the manæuvre to set a Tory minister over the country. If the Whigs are powerless to abolish admitted abuses, it is the inefficient support of their own friends that causes their weakness. The bravest officers would be justified if they refused to mount a breach, unless there were brave soldiers willing to follow them into danger. When the enemy has been subdued, the citizen may emancipate himself from the constraint of military discipline, and when Toryism has been laid prostrate, the Liberals may dissolve their levies and discuss the point to which they will carry their constitutional reform; but for soldiers to discuss their differences in the presence of a powerful enemy, is only to insure their own weakness, and to surrender themselves an easy prey.
There are some simple-minded Reformers, who, seeing the incapacity of a