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FONBLANQUE’S ENGLAND UNDER SEVEN ADMINISTRATIONS 1837 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume VI - Essays on England, Ireland, and the Empire 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume VI - Essays on England, Ireland, and the Empire, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Joseph Hamburger (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982).
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FONBLANQUE’S ENGLAND UNDER SEVEN ADMINISTRATIONS
London and Westminster Review, V & XXVII (Apr., 1837), 65-98. Headed: “Art. IV. / England under Seven Administrations. By Albany Fonblanque, Esq. 3 vols. [London:] Bentley: 1837.” Running titles: “Fonblanque’s England / Under Seven Administrations.” Signed “A.” Not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Fonblanque’s ‘England under seven Administrations’ in the London and Westminster Review for April 1837 (No 9 and 52)” (MacMinn, 48). In the Somerville College copy (tear-sheets) there are three corrections that have been adopted in the present edition: “on” is changed to “no” (351.18); “not all” is altered to “not at all” (359.27); and “writer panegyrist” is altered to “writer and panegyrist” (379.39-40).
Fonblanque’s England under Seven Administrations
these three volumes contain, not the best, (for they have left many of their equals behind them,) but a few of the best, as well as most permanently interesting, among the papers published in the Examiner by its present editor: a man, of whom it is saying little, to say, that he is facile princeps among English journalists; since it is doing infinitely too much honour to English journalists as a body, to speak of him as belonging to their craft. Mr. Fonblanque is something far higher than a great journalist; he is a great writer, who happens accidentally to be a journalist. Of the innumerable newspaper writers in this age of newspapers, his writings alone will take a place among English classics. In a generation whose bulkiest volumes are meant only for the day, his ephemeral productions, by the carefulness of their composition, and the lavish expenditure of mental resources upon their substance, might seem to be designed for immortality.
As mere writers for the day, there have been several journalists of our time as effective as Mr. Fonblanque; and (if we consider only immediate effect) even upon a wider scale, because upon a more ordinary class of minds. The most valuable of all talents for one who would be a successful journalist, is that of being skilfully common-place: and the writer who has received one-half of this gift from nature may add to it the other half with no greater degree of diligence and practice than are necessary to success in any other laborious profession. The influence of most journalists may be explained as Mr. Fonblanque himself explained Sir James Scarlett’s extraordinary success with juries: “there are twelve Scarletts in the jury-box.” Even when pursued with higher objects, newspaper writing is subject to the same condition as popular speaking—it must produce its impression at once, or not at all; and he is the most effective newspaper writer, as he is the most effective speaker, who can, without being tiresome or offensive, declaim upon one idea long enough to make it sink into the mind. Such was the secret of the good writers in the Times, when the Times had good writers.
But in advancing to this pitch of excellence, a person who has a multitude of ideas is apt to find them very much in his way. Seeing, as he does, the bearings of a hundred different things upon his subject, he knows not how to confine himself to one simple, broad, direct, common-place view of it. He neglects the feebler but more obvious reason, for the stronger one, but which is farther from the surface. He surrounds his leading idea with allusions and illustrations, which impress it more vividly upon the intelligent, but which call off the vulgar reader—demand from him a separate effort of attention, and so prevent him from being hurried away by the main stream of the thought.
We think Mr. Fonblanque is chargeable with these faults, in a degree highly creditable to his mental endowments. His eminence as a newspaper writer has been attained in spite of the higher qualities of his mind: and great must be his talents for popularity, when so great talents for something better than popularity have not prevented him from attaining it. If his unusual dialectic powers, his inexhaustible wit, and his perpetual play of fancy, have rendered the Examiner popular as a newspaper among the educated classes of almost all shades of opinion, a still higher degree of success may be anticipated for the present publication, since the very defects of his articles, as articles, arise from their excellencies as permanent literary productions.
Nothing, certainly, can more strikingly exemplify, than these three volumes, the difference between the treatment of a subject by a man of genius, and by the most judicious thinker or ablest writer who is without genius. Every one knows the insupportable tediousness of gone-by politics. The Spartan in the story, who, for the crime of using two words where one would have sufficed, was sentenced to read from beginning to end the history of Guicciardini, and at the end of a few pages begged to commute his punishment for the galleys,[*] would have prayed to exchange it for death if he had been condemned to read a file of English newspapers five years old. But with Mr. Fonblanque, the farther we go back, and the more completely his articles are reduced to their own intrinsic sources of interest, the more delightful they become. If the interest anywhere flags, it is towards the end of the last volume, where the contents are recent, and we come in contact with the exhausted controversies of the present day and hour. But the politics of Mr. Canning’s time and of the Duke of Wellington’s are fresh in Mr. Fonblanque’s page, and we have accompanied him through them with as much of the excitement of novelty as if we had never heard of either of those personages before: for it was not in what the writer drew from his subject, but in what he brought to his subject that the interest resided. The matter immediately in hand might be local and temporary, but the whole universe was the source whence he drew parallel cases for its illustration; and the aptest and most felicitous analogies to enforce his own view of it, or confute his adversary’s. Such, once more, is the prerogative of genius. To the ablest mechanical man of talent a subject is illuminated only by its own light: a man of genius will often see into its darkest corners by a spark struck from some familiar object, apparently altogether remote from it.
Mr. Fonblanque’s opinions, it need scarcely be said, are those of the philosophic radicals. That it may be more clear what we mean, we will state whom we term the philosophic radicals, and why we so denominate them. There are divers schools of radicals. There are the historical radicals, who demand popular institutions as the inheritance of Englishmen, transmitted to us from the Saxons or the barons of Runnymede. There are the metaphysical radicals, who hold the principles of democracy not as means to good government, but as corollaries from some unreal abstraction—from “natural liberty,” or “natural rights.” There are the radicals of occasion and circumstance, who are radicals because they disapprove the measures of the government for the time being. There are, lastly, the radicals of position, who are radicals, as somebody said, because they are not lords.[*] Those whom, in contradistinction to all these, we call philosophic radicals, are those who in politics observe the common practice of philosophers—that is, who, when they are discussing means, begin by considering the end, and when they desire to produce effects, think of causes. These persons became radicals, because they saw immense practical evils existing in the government and social condition of this country; and because the same examination which showed them the evils, showed also that the cause of those evils was the aristocratic principle in our government—the subjection of the many to the control of a comparatively few, who had an interest, or who fancied they had an interest, in perpetuating those evils. These inquirers looked still farther, and saw, that in the present imperfect condition of human nature, nothing better than this self-preference was ever to be expected from a dominant few; that the interests of the many were sure to be in their eyes a secondary consideration to their own ease or emolument. Perceiving, therefore, that we were ill-governed, and perceiving that so long as the aristocratic principle continued predominant in our government we could not expect to be otherwise, these persons became radicals, and the motto of their radicalism was, enmity to the Aristocratical principle.
Mr. Fonblanque’s career as a public writer is coeval with the birth of this party. He was the first journalist who unfurled their banner: he has borne it bravely and steadily through all fortunes, during ten years of perpetual combat, and few men will have contributed more to its final triumph.
Mr. Fonblanque began his labours in the cause of radicalism in unpropitious times. The days of active persecution, indeed, were past; but Reform principles were discountenanced by all persons in authority, as much as their extreme contempt for those principles would suffer them to consider necessary. There was no apparent Reform party among people of property or education, and the demand for reform was believed to have been effectually put down. In this state of affairs, Mr. Fonblanque took up the cause; and was distinguished from almost all others who were at that time serving it by this honourable characteristic,—that he never in any single instance equivocated or temporized for the sake of an immediate purpose, nor ever concealed one particle of his ultimate designs. From the beginning, he scouted the notion that the possession of large property qualified men for power, or rendered it unnecessary to subject them to responsibility for the exercise of it. From the beginning, he avowed that the House of Lords, as it now exists, could never co-exist with a reformed House of Commons. From the beginning, he treated the political Church of England as a mere pretence for the misappropriation of a large portion of national wealth to sordid purposes. From the beginning, he invariably represented the Ballot as a sine qua non of good government, and universal suffrage as necessary to its perfection, though demanding, as a preliminary requisite, a degree of education and intelligence which was not yet, and would not soon be, reached. In this straightforward and open course of proceeding, we know not if Mr. Fonblanque had at the time of his commencement any associates, except the early writers in the Westminster Review, among whom, also, he himself was numbered. And now, when doctrines which were at that time so universally obnoxious have gone far towards becoming, and every discerning person sees that they must ultimately become, the general opinions of the community,—those who first descended into the arena and did battle for those principles, and by so doing raised them from being objects of the unaffected contempt of all persons of station or influence, to their present importance and honour, are entitled to turn round upon those who are applauding spectators of results they never hazarded anything to forward, and ask, by what other course, profitable as it might have been to themselves, they could so well have served their country and their opinions? and whether, if they too had equivocated, and compromised, and enunciated their opinions by halves, and kept the great questions out of sight for fear of damaging the small ones, and on the whole trimmed and truckled and played fast and loose with their convictions, as many would have had them, as many are even now counselling them, their opinions would have been now, or probably at any time during their lives, in the state of triumphant progress and prosperity in which they now behold them? At all times, and in all circumstances, has this truth been found invariable: whoever, having adopted his opinions on mature consideration, openly avows and publishes the full extent of those opinions (such things only excepted as, if unseasonably declared, might deprive him of a hearing altogether)—whoever, we say, does this, will lose many a point which, by compromising some portion of his opinions, he might have carried; but he will carry more points in the long run than the dissembler. He will not always have done well for his own reputation, for he will often be so far before his contemporaries as to be (in the words of Coleridge) dwarfed in the distance:[*] he will often not have done well for the interest of this or that particular truth; but (so far as it is possible for human wisdom to affirm anything universally of the variable course of human affairs) he will in all cases have done well for the interests of truth on the whole.
In characterizing Mr. Fonblanque’s mind, most persons, we think, will agree, that it belongs to the observing class rather than to the ratiocinative. The two characters indeed are not inconsistent: a mind of the ratiocinative order may be skilful in observing, and Mr. Fonblanque, who is characteristically an observer, is also a good reasoner. It is nevertheless true, that some minds are most given to arguing downwards from principles to facts, and others upwards from facts to principles. Some minds form their opinion of a case by closely examining the case itself; others by applying to it some general law of nature, or of the human mind, within the scope of which it seems to come. Mr. Fonblanque is of the former kind. His radicalism is the result of no à priori principle. His distinctive and pre-eminent merit as a thinker is (as it seems to us), a keen eye for seeing and comprehending things as they are—for taking a just view of the existing influences in society, as they actually operate. His reflections on the ultimate causes of these phenomena seem to have been prompted by a previous thorough insight into the phenomena themselves; what he thought has been forced upon him by what he saw.
He saw the whole machinery of the government of this country systematically perverted, to the gain or supposed gain of the few; every object which only concerned the minds, bodies, or fortunes of the many treated with neglect or contempt; the many treated as having nothing to do with the laws but to obey them,[*] and seldom meddled with by their governors but for some purpose of vexation and annoyance. All this he found going on under cover of the most pharisaical professions, and the most pharisaical observances, religious, patriotic, and moral. The whole of the class intermediate between the many and the few he found grovelling in the most sordid worship of what he terms the two idols, Mammon and Fashion; thirsting insatiably for two things—the means of being admitted among the few, and the reputation of resembling them. Seeing all this, he looked out for the cause of it; and this he found to be, the constitution of the government of this country—which placed irresponsible power in the hands of a small class, made wealth the key to that power, and hereditary rank the symbol of the long possession of wealth. He saw that to destroy the mischief, it was necessary to dry up its source; and he declared war against the aristocratical principle.
The following passage, written in 1829, exemplifies those views of the state of English society which have made our author a radical.
After quoting an opinion of the Morning Chronicle,[†] that to raise the qualification of electors would destroy the influence of the landed aristocracy, Mr. Fonblanque says,
In this view we cannot concur. Our own observation has led us to the contrary conclusion, that the smaller gentry are for the most part sycophantically subservient to the great. They do not make their stand upon their own titles to consideration (either belonging to wealth or moral worth), but rely for consequence on the mere countenance of the class above them. The common ambition of the English gentry, and superior trading men, is to be known and noticed by persons of a rank above their own. For this pitiful object there are thousands ready to waive their independence. It is, indeed, an especial misfortune of England that the New Rich do not conceive the high point of pride of constituting in themselves a new power; but, on the contrary, are content to seek consequence by swimming in shoals, in the wake of the Aristocracy, and rejoice in the poor crumbs of courtesy which are cast to them, sometimes for policy, and sometimes for the sport of exposing their active littleness in the gambols of sycophancy. The two idolatries which corrupt us, morally and politically, in all ranks between luxury and labour, are Mammon-Worship, and Fashion-Worship. These cults are generally to be found in the same house: the man of business sets up a temple to Riches in his own breast; and his wife, his daughters, his sons, prostrate to Fashion, and compel his conformity, though the pride of Mammon, which is great, should resist the propitiatory sacrifices to the other idol.
We remember to have heard an experienced party politician number Lady Castlereagh’s influence at Almack’s, and the fashion of her suppers after the Opera, among the Parliamentary powers of her husband the Minister. Opposition was marked as unfashionable by these tests of ton, and men’s wives, sons, and daughters, became active missionaries of the Ministry, and perpetual exhorters to a new birth unto Toryism. Almost every Liberal Member’s family was against his politics, and the waverers gave way. In the inferior classes the same folly is observable in other instances. The grand society of a neighbourhood must be had at any price. Countenance and civil speech alone, indeed, are mighty things: witness certain of the radical Common Councilmen of the City, who have become hotly ministerial by virtue of discourse with the Duke of Wellington on the subject of the new bridge. Some of these worthies, to whom the Duke has affably said, “Good morning,” are now surprised that they ever found anything amiss in his politics.
The excessive reverence for property, which the Chronicle attributes to the lower orders, is not to be denied; but we believe they do but share in a common sentiment from which none of us are entirely free. We all, Liberals and Serviles, Philosophers and Sentimentalists, are touched in some degree by this prevalent taint in the moral atmosphere. The best is he who is least affected by it. And when we examine the foible, it is one which under other forms has been cultivated by the arts, and by the imagination. What is property but power? Carry back the Yorkshire buckskinned ’Squires of the Chronicle’s instance a few ages, and you have “the bold Barons,” admirable in poetry, Waverley novels, and paintings, with their castles of strength, their steel-clad knights, and men-at-arms. Power in this form was picturesque, and power kept at a banker’s shop has none of the show of martial array; but the power is the substantial matter at the root of admiration in either instance. On the other hand, a disposition to despise weakness seems to be a law of nature, which humanity prevails against with effort, by urging the sympathies, and stimulating them by the imagination. If one animal meets with misfortune, the others of his kind fall upon and destroy him. In the “Library of Entertaining Knowledge” this characteristic circumstance is noted:
“In the kennels of fox-hounds the following barbarous custom of the dogs towards one another has been sometimes observed. If a hound gets down of his own accord from the bench on which he is lying, no notice of it is taken by the others. But if a hapless hound fall off the bench from awkwardness, his companions fly at him, and bite him to death.”[*]
Marmontel describes a practice of men strikingly similar to that of the hounds; for, says he, “All things are crimes in the unfortunate, and we treat a fallen man as mothers do fallen children, namely, chastise them for the mishap.” (Vol. I, pp. 237-41.)[†]
The following article on the House of Lords appeared as early as 1827.
If the late political changes should be attended with no other advantage, they have yet effected a great good in the discovery they have brought about of the true character of the House of Lords. To thinking men, indeed, the character of this assembly could be no secret at any time,—it was argued à priori from its constitution—it was seen that wherever power is lodged without responsibility, the power is given for the benefit of those who hold it. But the world is not filled with thinking men; the majority take their opinions without examination from current authorities. To persons of this stamp, the late pranks of the House of Lords have proved extremely instructive.
A child treats its doll as a living creature, dandles and fondles it, gives it the air, dresses and undresses it, and puts it to bed. Some unlucky day it espies a little of the bran oozing out of its valued form; curiosity is set at work—how is it made, is the question—research begins—the opening in the seam of the puppet is increased, the stuffing pours out, and the plump and specious form of the idol is reduced to a trumpery piece of sewn leather, turned inside out, and cast with contempt away. Our grand State Puppet has been provoking this process of investigation; it has been letting its bran out, and the minds even of the little children of society have been set to work to see whether there is anything better in it. The stuffing of self-interest has escaped in a most unequivocal way, and the idea occurs to the simplest understanding, that by that substance only it is shaped. It is then seen that this boasted body, the Hereditary Legislature, is entirely insulated in power, and free even from the shadow of responsibility. The Commons are in some slight degree responsible to the people; and the name, the mere name, the name still, of responsibility, hangs over the servants of the Crown, the King’s Ministers; but the Lords are untroubled with responsibility, in substance, shadow, or name. They have power on the most golden terms,—power without the necessity of qualification for the use, or responsibility for the abuse of it. Such a body, standing alone as it does, answerable in no quarter for its conduct, not only unrestrained by any substantial check, but not even reminded of its possible fallibility by any nominal one, must, according to the nature of things, prefer its own interests when occasions arise, with an audacity and contemptuous disregard to the sentiment of society, which can be hazarded in no other branch of the state. Its members are independent of the people, and independent of the King, who can make but not unmake them; and consequently they can at pleasure set both the people and the King at defiance. Nor can this surprise us: if we confer power without responsibility, we cannot be astonished to see it exercised without justice. Despots, little and great, many and few, will of course consult their own pleasure; and sometimes that pleasure happens to be good, sometimes bad; the good and the bad are matter of chance, of lottery, from which hap-hazard work a wisely-constituted government rescues society. When their individual interests are not concerned, it is the nature of men to be just; but our House of Lords, our Peers, are deeply interested in the perpetuity of most of the abuses which the people are interested in abating. Many men there are undoubtedly among them proof against narrow sinister influences, who pursue the good of their fellow-creatures as their sole object, and earn in the respect and love of mankind their meet reward: such, however, are those superior natures—the moral like the physical perfections—whose number in every class we know from experience to be extremely small. We may calculate on their presence, not on their preponderance. (Vol. I, pp. 35-8.)
After some other illustrations of the hereditary principle as judged by its fruits, he continues—
In the Duke, who has married an elderly lady of great fortune for love, we have the living evidence of that disdain of vile, sordid, pecuniary interest, which may be expected in men of this noble class! Without meaning anything unkind to the Duke, we must say that we wish, from the bottom of our hearts, that a liberal Earl of high political influence had married the rich elderly lady, instead of wedding himself to the Corn Amendment.[*] Perhaps it would have been the same thing to his Lordship, and certainly better for the country. We would, in truth, much rather find the whole House in rich, crummy widows, than let them meddle with our bread. The wisest thing that the Commons could do, would be to send up to the Lords, with the next year’s Corn Bill, a vote of rich widows to the holders of mortgaged or impoverished estates. (Vol. I, p. 40.)
This idea is improved upon in the following felicitous mixture of solid truth and genuine wit. Mr. Fonblanque’s titles and mottoes are often eminently happy. The passage we are about to quote is from an article on the Corn question, appropriately headed “The way to keep ’em.”
Mr. Peel—it is useful to keep the public eternally reminded of what stuff this leader of the British aristocracy is made—had said in defence of the Corn Laws, that “it was the constitutional policy of the country to maintain the aristocracy and magistracy as essential parts of the community.”[†] Mr. Fonblanque closes with the proposition, and proceeds in the following manner to point out the best and cheapest mode of doing it.
This is plain speaking. If however it be the constitutional policy of this country to maintain the Aristocracy and Magistracy, it is also the policy of this country to maintain them in the manner least onerous or detrimental to itself. The end being avowed and agreed on, the directest means will be the best, and it will be wiser to vote a yearly supply in pounds, shillings, and pence, for the maintenance of the Aristocracy and Magistracy of these realms, than to keep them by means of a tax on bread, which cramps the industry of the country. Let the Aristocracy and Magistracy take their place in the estimates with the Army and Navy; let money be voted for so many Lords and so many Squires a year, and country houses be built, repaired, or fitted and found, like ships. No one surely will grudge a few millions for the support of the wooden heads of Old England! If it be declared that we must take our Masters into keeping, in God’s name let us do it openly and directly, and maintain them according to their wants. Mr. Goulburn, in this case, will come down to the House, and show that Squire Western[*] is so reduced in his fortunes as to be unable to afford a pack of hounds; whereupon the Commons will vote him the dogs necessary to the Constitution, inasmuch as they are necessary to the Squire’s credit. Or he will set forth, that Lord Squander cannot keep a mistress, as he greatly desires to do, and as his ancestors have done before him; whereupon Parliament will vote him the wherewith for a concubine. One man cannot drink claret, another is sunk below champagne: various are the dilapidations in the estate of the Aristocracy and Magistracy, and the country must repair them, according to the Ministers, but not, we say, by a tax on bread:—substitute, in the place of it, the immediate process of a demand on the public purse. Let the wants of Lords and Squires be spread before us, hounds, horses, concubines, claret, champagne, &c., and the estimates to supply them shall be regularly discussed and voted, like those, as we have before said, of the Army and Navy. The advantage of this mode over the present method of maintaining the Aristocracy or Magistracy, or, in other words, of keeping our Masters, is manifest. By way of illustration—George Barnwell perceived it to be necessary to his constitution to keep a mistress, but for lack of a direct supply from his old-fashioned uncle for so requisite and respectable an appurtenance, he robbed the shop, and ultimately cut his kinsman’s throat, just as the man killed the goose to get the golden eggs, or as the squires kill this country to keep up the price of their corn. If Barnwell’s uncle had been distinctly told by a neighbourly Mr. Peel that it was absolutely necessary that his nephew should maintain Millwood, none of this mischief would have happened.[†] The robbery would have been avoided; also the personal inconvenience of assassination to the sufferer. What was requisite for Millwood’s “dresses and decorations,” as the play-bills have it, would have been considered, and the damage would not have exceeded the occasion. The present method of keeping our Millwood is attended with this obvious mischief, that the cost of the maintenance of the hussy is more than proportioned to her wants. Our Constitution requires that squires and lords should be supported; but squires and lords need support in different degrees: some need it very little; some very much; and some again not at all. How stupid it is then to give to these various claims and conditions one measure of supply! What a manifest offence against economy! As Lord Eldon would say, “God forbid” that we should dispute with Mr. Peel the propriety, fitness, and constitutional policy of starving the people for the good of the Aristocracy and Magistracy; all that we contend is, that they should be pinched with discretion, and that a judicious manner of picking pockets should be substituted for the practice of taking the bread out of their mouths. (Vol. I, pp. 164-7.)
On other occasions, he pursues the squirearchy with still more poignant raillery; as thus—
magistracies to be sold
We would particularly refer the admirers of “things as they are”[‡] to an auction advertisement, in the Courier, Globe, and others papers, setting forth that on Tuesday the 16th of September, Mr. Driver will sell by order of his Majesty’s Commissioners of Woods and Forests a Crown estate in Essex, stocked with game, &c., and conveying many most valuable privileges; “amongst others,” says the affiche.
“The owner of this manor and lordship (Havering atte Bower) has the sole nomination and appointment of two of the Magistrates, the tenants and inhabitants within the manor and lordship appointing the third, who exercise an exclusive jurisdiction, the Magistrates for the county at large being prohibited from acting within this lordship.”[*]
It seems to us that Mr. Driver has scarcely laid sufficient stress on this advantage. What an opportunity is here presented to Sporting Gentlemen who have the preservation of game at heart! The purchaser of the property may, if he please, make his keeper and helper Justices of the Peace as well as Guardians of the Birds,—an union of functions as rare as it is obviously desirable. The convenience of giving to the apprehender of poachers the magisterial power also of committing them, is indeed so manifest, that we are confident it is unnecessary to dilate further on the topic; and then how great the advantage of the exclusive jurisdiction, “the Magistrates of the County being prohibited from acting within this lordship!” How delightfully snug! Game and Justice within a ring fence! Everything done at home! Here the Squire may kill his own mutton, brew his own beer, and make his own law; ay, and his own law-expounder too. Nothing is wanting but a gaol on the estate, with a tread-mill, that he might have it to say that he ground his own prisoners also.
There is one benefit which Mr. Driver has omitted to recite, perhaps from some little delicacy—we too scarcely know how to name it—we would spare blushes, and it may be guessed what we would inquire—is there no * * * * on the property? You know what we mean; do not compel us to speak out, we really wish to be delicate—is there no “Justice Juice?” Is there no “Cat and Bagpipes,” or “George and Dragon,” within the snug jurisdiction; or, in plain terms, is there no licensing business? Say that there is, and we will dream the rest. What game is to the sportsman, public-houses are to the speculating Justice; and surely when two Magistracies are put up for sale, by order of his Majesty’s Commissioners of Woods and Forests, it is strange that the mention of this important particular should have been altogether omitted. Prœfulgebat quod non visebatur[†] may however have been the effect intended.
When Magistracies of exclusive jurisdiction are on sale, going by auction with arable and meadow, out-houses and barns, sheep and oxen, pots and pans, the imagination fills the territory with the advantages accruing from every conceivable abuse. Sentimental ladies may sing Mr. Bayley’s choice of bliss, “I’d be a butterfly;”[‡] but for good, substantial, dishonest profits and enjoyment, we should chaunt,
“I’d be a Justice of Hav’ring atte Bower.”
(Vol. I, pp. 192-4.)
One of the most honourable characteristics of Mr. Fonblanque is the ardour of his sympathy with the hard-handed many, and the indignant scorn with which he visits the indifference to their feelings, and positive hostility to their pleasures, so general among those who lay claim to the title of their betters. This spirit rouses, in addition, another of Mr. Fonblanque’s strongest feelings—his profound abhorrence of cant.
Take the following on stopping up footpaths:
Let it be stated that a Prince or Princess has been pitiably straitened on an allowance of 12,000l. a-year, and Member after Member—yea, patriot after patriot—will spring up, with his heart in his mouth and his hand in our pockets, confess the hardship of the case, and his joyful readiness to concur in the required grant, vouching, at the same time, for the pleasure with which the public will defray this pleasing addition to its charges. How different is the reception of any representation of the privations, vexations, or sufferings, of the humble and labouring classes! We hear nothing then of liberality, or generosity, or the claims of justice, or the regards due to the comforts of the deserving.
Those who make light of provocations of this character are miserably ignorant of man. It is not always the greatest political wrong which has the greatest effect on men’s minds; and we firmly believe that more of bitterness, more of fierce vindictive sentiment, towards the rich, has been produced by the path-stopping act, wheresoever it has been enforced, than by any other of the many bad acts that have been spawned by Parliament within the present century. The invasion of right and convenience is in this case so palpable, so obvious to every understanding, and so kept alive in the recollection by the daily consequent discomfort; and the motive is also so exasperatingly conspicuous in the improved domains of the rich and powerful, that it is not in the very large patience of the persons concerned to become reconciled to the wrong.
And who are the men who have authority to rob the labourer of the sweat of his brow, to deprive him of the short and pleasant path to his labour, and to add to the toil of him who lives by toil? The unpaid Magistrates—men notoriously appointed without regard to any judicial qualification, and who are as notoriously continued in the commission of the peace after the most decisive proofs of unfitness—to such as these the rights of the humble and industrious, in their paths to labour or recreation, are entrusted. When a canal or road, most essential to public convenience, is carried through the domain of a man of wealth, an Act of Parliament is necessary, and compensation is had; but when the way is to be stopped up, which has been of pleasure or convenience to the men of labour, nothing more is necessary than the consent of two Magistrates, and nothing more is given than notice of prosecution, with the utmost rigour of the law, to trespassers. And ours is the aristocracy which is declared not oppressive, and not to be likened to the French aristocracy, before the Revolution.
(Vol. II, pp. 168-71.)
If space permitted, we would subjoin several passages from the striking articles on that topic so fertile in cant, the beer-houses.
Mr. Fonblanque never flattered the prejudices or passions of the more ignorant portion of the Radical Reformers. The doctrine of pledges, or instructions by the constituents to the representative,—a doctrine first taught to the people by the Tories, and which has recoiled upon themselves, Mr. Fonblanque has always treated as destructive of the very idea of a representative government. See for instance an excellent paper published in 1829 (Vol. I, pp. 234-5). He assailed with his most forcible weapons of argument, and ridicule, the outcry against the New Police.* The paper in Vol. II (pp. 299-308) on the “Equitable Adjustment”[*] is one of the best denunciations ever written of that scheme of fraud. The commencement is an excellent specimen of Mr. Fonblanque’s happiest manner; the simple statement of an argument has the effect of the most consummate, because apparently unstudied and unconscious wit:
The idea of “Equitable Adjustment” is, probably, of as high antiquity as robbery, and in the felonious mind of all climes and ages, has been “often thought, though ne’er so well expressed.”[†] The man in need, who supplied his wants by seizing on his neighbour’s stores, doubtless regarded the action as an “Equitable Adjustment,” and plumed himself on redressing the wrongs of fortune. The first rude intent of an “Equitable Adjustment” may, indeed, be traced in the history of Cain, who, seeing that his offering was less acceptable than Abel’s, thought to relieve himself of the inequitable depression by slaying his brother.[‡] The needy soon began to contrast the abundance of others with their privations, and to perceive an equity giving them a decree, according to the power of their arms, or the nimbleness of their fingers, to share with the provident and thrifty. Each of these men sat as chancellor in his own Court of Equity, and adjusted to the uttermost of his opportunities and capacity. There is in the mind of man so natural and strong a disposition to Equitable Adjustment, that it may seem wonderful how law could ever prevail against it; but Equitable Adjustment was, at all times, and in all circumstances, attended with this great inconvenience, that there was no limiting its operation,—no security against its recurrence oftener than was desirable. The adjuster of one day might be subjected to adjustment the next, and the equity he had exercised upon one might be exercised on him by another, more needy and more potent. Hence, from no higher motive than convenience, law seems to have been generally preferred, and the institution of property secured. From the period when, all things considered, men thought it, on the whole, better not to be thieves, the names of purposes, actions, and actors, have been bestowed by the greater number, who have stickled for the distinction between meum and tuum: hence, the ancient practice of Equitable Adjustment has passed under the various descriptions of highway robbery, house-breaking, felony, larceny, or the yet larger terms of rapine, spoliation, &c. At no time, indeed, have the adjusters ceased to exist, and to cherish in their minds the principle of equity, as consecrating their method of settling the differences of fortune, or redressing the fluctuations of property; and it is remarkable, that their administration of equity has been as summary as that of the Court for the same object, having so many other points and practices in common with them, has been dilatory; yet, the identical motive which induces the speed of the one, explains the delay of the other, and we find the closest affinity between the working of the High Court of Chancery and the works of the unlicensed apostles of equity on the highway. Thus much we have said, to show, that the name of “Equitable Adjustment” is not so inappropriate to the design of those who have advocated it, as may at first appear, and that it is the proper clothing of the sentiment of those who yet hold to the
We subjoin a few extracts of a more miscellaneous character, for the more varied illustration of our author’s manner. Our last quotation exemplified the wit of logic; in the following, on the old style of pamphleteering, we have the wit of fancy.
A pamphlet of the old-fashioned style is a composition of much circumlocution, and a sort of stuff which is best known by the name of palaver. It is a thing of stateliness and decorum, and two or three ideas pass slowly and solemnly along in a procession of winding phrases. The author dances a literary minuet, as it were, before the public; leading out his subject, bowing to it, putting on and taking off his hat, flourishing now a leg, now an arm, and moving over a very small space of ground with a very vast ceremony and parade of action—all wonderfully imposing, and unspeakably tedious to behold.
(Vol. I, p. 68.)
The following is the introduction to an article on the unequal measure with which immoralities are visited upon “somebodies” and “nobodies:”
A striking inconsistency of judgment is the result of the very active state of the moral feelings in England, together with the general ignorance of moral principles. Every Briton makes it a point of conscience to keep a moral sentiment, and the more fierce its character, the greater he believes its virtue, or rather his own virtue in possessing it; but of any principle for the exercise of it he is commonly barren. His morality is chained up in his breast as the mastiff is chained up in his court-yard, and like the dog, it has generally a proneness to bark at beggars and vagabonds.
(Vol. I, p. 206.)
No one excels our author in the happy application of a trait of comedy, or a nursery tale. The following was written during the No-Popery clamour against the Duke of Wellington:
The passing action (the removal of the Catholic disabilities)[†] great and laudable as it is in our eyes, will hardly be appreciated in history, for the ridicule attaching to the No-Popery panic will detract from the merit of having defied it, and compelled submission to the terms of reason and justice. The man who, a century ago, marched up to a hobgoblin, breathing fire and smoke, was only too hardy a hero in the eyes of the trembling beholders; but when the spectre was familiarly known to be a pumpkin with a candle in its sconce, the act of daring it sunk to a level with the absurd occasion. The superiority to a once pervading superstition is forgotten, and it is only remembered that the man was bold enough to brave a pumpkin and a rushlight. . . . It is all very fine in newspaper writers to talk of the estimate after-ages will form of his action, but the truth is, that its merit can only be understood by ourselves, who know the obstacles he encountered and overcame. There are certain conquests which, like the best witticisms, seem perfectly easy when they are made, and that under consideration is of the number. The Duke’s task has been similar to the adventure we read of in the Arabian Nights, of the Prince who climbed the mountain for the singing tree and golden water.[*] He is stunned by a thousand Stentorian voices threatening resistance, and perplexed by unseen hands opposing his advances, but with high constancy and fortitude he makes good his way, and escapes the fate of those who look back when their objects are forward, that of being turned into stones.
(Vol. I, pp. 216-17.)
On the quiet submission of mankind to political evils so long as they are not utterly unbearable:
John Bull is like the gentleman who occupied one of the Alpha cottages, when the neighbouring high-ways and bye-ways were not so good and safe as they now are, and who observed to a friend, that he had resolved to change his quarters, for, said he, “I have given it a fair trial; I have been knocked down and robbed regularly every night for the last three years, and I can bear it no longer.”
Blessed are the knaves! for they are the only effective Reformers, and, thanks be to Providence! we rejoice in a goodly number of them. But for the hints they furnish in the way of practical demonstration, John Bull would never be convinced of the flaws in his jurisprudential policy. Until the steed is stolen, it is vain to attempt to persuade the honest gentleman of the theoretical convenience of bolts and bars.
Who has not read with delight Mrs. Hamilton’s Cottagers of Glenburnie,[†] in which the dogged constancy of the Scotch to their habits of dirt and carelessness is so humorously described? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur,[‡] O Bull. You are a man neat in your house and habits; you wash your hands twice and your face once a day; your corduroys are not greatly stained with beer, and your waistcoat is inconsiderably snuffy; you do not wear your stockings more than a week, and your shirt has knowledge of the laundry; there is no dunghill before your door, your barns and outhouses are in repair, your roads are excellent, and you hold the golden maxim, that “one stitch in time saves nine:”—but there is foulness, and slovenliness, and carelessness, beyond the house, the farm, and the person. What the Scotch of Mrs. Hamilton were in their domestic concerns, you, oh John, are in your political. There is a dung-hill before your door of justice, bigger and fouler than all the middensteads that ever stunk in Scotland—it is the Law, man. See in your public estate too the havoc the pigs make, against whom you have no fences, and who consequently devour your cabbages, grub up your carrots and turnips, stye in your house, and grunt in your Parliament—they are your Oligarchs—wilful creatures, vehement in filling themselves, inordinate in craving, and resolute in procuring their foul self-satisfaction.
It is with Mr. Bull as it was with Mr. Sawney in the less concern—“damned custom” renders him callous to the perception of the nuisances. “It’s just vary weel,”—“it has always been that gait,”—or he “canna be fashed” to change. For this evil content there is no cure but in the consequently-growing enormity of inconvenience. Mischiefs are like jokes, laughed at till they are practical. . . . The sign of the fool with his finger in his mouth, and the sentiment, “Who’d have thought it?” is the precise emblem of English jurisprudence.
(Vol. I, pp. 281-4.)
We cannot resist quoting an article in our author’s happiest vein. It was written during the struggle for the Reform Bill, and is aimed equally at the Tories, and at the Whigs who truckled to them:
Æsop tells us that, once on a time, a fox wheedled a crow out of a piece of cheese;[*] but we have never heard that any arts of persuasion or cajolery redeemed anything from the jaws of the fox. It is clear that we have not had a crow to do with. For months every tongue was employed in assuring it how much it was respected and valued, what a sweet pretty creature it was, and ever would be reputed to be, if it would only open its mouth and drop the morsel to which it had no right. It turned its tail, however, most uncivilly upon all solicitations, and showed itself a sort of animal that thought a good bit in the mouth better than any quantity of fair words in the ear. Our Ministers have obviously great reliance on their powers of persuasion. Of Lord Althorp it may be said, as Mrs. Hardcastle remarked of Tony Lumpkin, “He would wile the bird from the tree:”[†] but ah! not the fox from the goose. If he has not the blandishment of oratory, he has the oratory of blandishment: but beasts of prey have no ear for civilities. We fear, we greatly fear, that wolves will never answer to the call of “Dilly, dilly, dilly, come and be killed,”[‡] however sweet may be the accent, or urgent the propriety.
When children commit errors, the parent’s consolation is, “They will have more sense when they get older.” This seems to have been the calculation with respect to the Peers. Though already the wickedest old body in the world, it is supposed they will know better in three or four months. When the sight of a venerable Bencher of the Temple failed, at the age of ninety, notwithstanding all the resources of art, he tranquilly remarked, that he believed he must leave it to time. We fear that time will not do more for the sight of the Peers than it did for our aged friend. They have had all encouragement in their obstinacy. Before they proved malcontent, they were assailed with flattery on the one hand, and menaces of destruction and creation on the other. They have proceeded to the extremity; they have insulted and defied the nation, denied its rights, and spurned its claims, and they have experienced none of the menaced consequences. The worst that is to happen to them is to be tried again. Can we wonder should they begin to be of opinion that threatened men live long. Great escapes give cowards confidence. The cry of “wolf”[§] has proved a false alarm, and the proverbial false security will follow on it; all warning will now be laughed at till the terrible reality appears.
Our contemporaries are beginning to have their doubts, whether Ministers can catch Peers by salting their tails. There is but one example in point of their practice, and the success of it is uncertain—it is that of a Frenchman who advertised a powder for killing fleas. A gentleman, troubled with a large majority of these tormentors, having in vain spread the bait, reproached the quack for his deception. The man coolly asked how the specific had been applied? and having heard, answered, “O Sare, but dat is quite wrong—first you catch de leetal flea, den you take him and hold him by the nape of his neck till he gape; den you put a grain of de powder down his trote—an den you let him run, and perhaps he bite you no more.”
Ministers have had the flea by the nape of the neck, gaping, aye, and with the whole country open-mouthed too, and they put a grain of love-powder down the throat, and let it run, and perhaps it will bite them no more—but perhaps it will. Our adversaries have natural allies in all the calamities that can visit mankind. On war they have always fondly reckoned. Pestilence they hailed as “a diversion:” and cholera seems to have landed, as if by friendly invitation, almost on Lord Londonderry’s threshold. There is nothing to the minds of these men comparable in horror to honesty. The fabled shriek of Mandrakes torn out of the ground, expresses their supernatural agonies at being torn from the pockets of the people. Their attachment to plunder has absolutely something of the romance of passion in it, and when the struggle is over, we shall expect to see it illustrated in acts of felo de se, or deaths by melancholy; and celebrated in tales and tragedies. Goethe has made a most affecting story of one man’s love for another man’s wife;[*] and we really do not see why as much may not be made of one man’s love for another man’s money. This is a passion which we know never cloys, but grows with what it feeds on, and the disappointment will not be the less bitter after possession. As all the pernicious desires in their wildest indulgences are celebrated by poets and novelists, we think that the avarice of Boroughmongers, which has had such tremendous effects on the state of a great people, is well worthy of a tale, an epic, or a tragedy. We, as yet, want examples of the appropriate manner of catastrophe; but, as these worthies boast to be more of antique Romans than of Danes, we shall expect soon to read in the Morning Post, that, “yesterday a large party took poison with Sir Robert Peel;” that the Duke of Newcastle has thrown himself on his sword at Clumber; that the Duke of Wellington is pining with a green and yellow melancholy; and that his Grace of Cumberland has taken to his bed, and died. These things, seasoned with sentiment, the distress kept well in view, and the character of its causes artfully suppressed, may be worked into as moving a story as the Sorrows of Werter. The Sorrows of Newcastle!—how well it would sound, opening with a bread-and-butter description of a Borough, and ending with the loss of all fat things! But having thrown out the idea, we leave it to be worked out by persons who have the befitting genius for the pathetic.
(Vol. II, pp. 106-10.)
Its length alone deters us from quoting the whole of the admirable article intituled “The Soothing System Illustrated.” We shall cite the beginning and the ending:
It is well known to all the world (which means ourselves and friends), that Ministers are the best men breathing; having, however, this one fault (all the best people have some great one, by-the-by), that they are too good—to their enemies. A very melancholy instance of this propensity has just transpired. Poor Lord Althorp has been shockingly used by a Lancashire Tory, to whom he tendered some appeasing civility.[†] He did but open a friendly communication, as a man might do with a mad bull, asking him what had so transported him, and wherein he was displeased? when the savage tossed, tore, and gored and pinned him, and left him speechless!
The merchant in the Arabian Nights, who was eating nuts and throwing away the husks, was terrified by the sudden appearance of a raging giant—a sort of Lancashire gentleman—who desired him to prepare for instant death. The poor man comported himself like Lord Althorp, spoke most civilly, disavowed intention of offence, and begged to know wherein he had displeased? “Wretch!” cried the giant,—“you have dashed out the brains of my beloved son with your accursed nut-shells.”[‡] The merchant was as much at a loss to understand the connexion between the husks of nuts and the destruction of a giant’s son, as was Lord Althorp to comprehend the relation of Mr. Hulton’s displeasure to the words he had dropped; and his pain was the greater, as he knew, that, though he renounced nuts, he never could be secure against killing giants’ sons, whose forms were so fine as to be imperceptible to the eye, and destructible by husks. The giant, as every one knows, proved in the end more placable than Mr. Hulton of Hulton Park—perhaps because the giant was not great man enough to have a park—perhaps because he had never been in the Commission of the Peace, which makes a gentleman understand his right to be angry. This story illustrates self-love, that vast passion, whose objects of affection are so small—against the wounds of whose minute and fragile offspring we can never be secure. The sons of giant pride are about in all directions; and although Lord Althorp be not husky in his speech, though his words fall soft as flakes of snow, yet shall he brain the first-born, the joy, the pride of the Gogs,[*] and be stunned with their complaints of wrong and threats of vengeance. Throw but the stone, however, and the giant dies—aye, were he ten times as big as Hulton of Hulton Park. Giantship, whatever it was formerly, when beasts could speak, is now conventional; if we allow men to lay down their own proprieties of consequence, they will fill them with insolence. By taking their just measure, we bring them down to their modesties or properties. We have not a doubt, that had our aforesaid merchant filliped a nut sharply against his bullying giant, instead of begging and praying, he would have knocked him down to insignificance, for the chip showed the softness of the block.
(Ibid., pp. 145-6, 154-5.)
There is an intermediate passage which we cannot omit. Lord Althorp had euphonically described the Manchester Massacre, as “the unfortunate transaction at Manchester.”[†] Hereupon our author says,
It is one of the greatest discoveries of modern times, that when any considerable public mischief happens, nobody is to blame. The stars formerly had to answer for all crimes and miscarriages; but since the improvements in astronomy, they have been found innocent, and are no longer responsible for our calamities—had they not been timely set right in public opinion, the Georgium Sidus would have borne the blame of all the ills that have afflicted the country. Now, however, the stars and garters of the Peers are the only ones apostrophised as malignant causes of mischief. The instigations of the Devil succeeded; but, like an overworked advocate, he sunk under excess of business, and died of fatigue in the American war. Refinement then struck out the grand discovery, that the force of circumstances had to answer for all courses of action, and that events could be untoward, and transactions unfortunate, without any fault attaching to the persons ostensibly acting in them. This philosophy, which so wonderfully advances the cause of charity, has not yet obtained footing in our courts of justice; but, we foresee, and so doubtless do the lawyers, that their business will be utterly at an end whenever it is acknowledged there. Murder has not yet got the name of an “unfortunate transaction;” but when it does so, it is clear that humanity will have greatly gained, for the indictments will be laid for “unfortunate transactions,” without any personality or occasion for a prisoner at the bar; and thus the odious character of the murderer will cease to exist—the thing, to be sure, may still happen untowardly; but what is a thing to a name? and words, indeed, are things, the representatives of things, and as much superior in consequence and power to them, as a Member of Parliament is of greater authority than his constituency. Had an earlier improvement of phraseology given to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew the name of the Transactions of St. Bartholomew, that action would doubtless have been regarded with more indulgence. As for the atrocities of the French Revolution, adopting the nomenclature of Lord Althorp, may we not soften them under the description of the Philosophical Transactions?
(Ibid., pp. 147-9.)
An Edinburgh Reviewer (reported to be Lord Brougham) had broached the doctrine so grateful to the smatterers, that statesmanship is not a business requiring apprenticeship or study. “There is no such craft recognized in this state,” said his Lordship, “as a professional statesman. All our institutions are ignorant of it; all our habits averse to it; nor is there one of a British statesman’s functions which may not be conjoined with the cares of an industrious life.”[*]
On this our author remarks—
This last sentence contains the very essence of quackery. It may be sold with the stamp of the Edinburgh Review on it, as “The Dunce’s Cordial, or a Real Comfort to the Idle and Ignorant of both Houses of Parliament.” The corollary is, that there is no political science; that the conduct of the affairs of a nation is a mere elegant pastime to a gentleman of a certain station in life, who has more profitable or personally agreeable pursuits for the occupation of his more valued hours. The idler, after having bent all the powers of his mighty mind to the reduction of a milliner’s citadel of virtue, may apply with sufficient success the residue of the day to the toils of the Statesman in the House of Peers. The merchant, whose brain has been addled with the business of his counting-house, has merely to rise from his desk and to pass to St. Stephen’s, au fait of the most complicated questions that can be submitted to the consideration of the legislator. The lawyer has only to close his briefs, and to be at once ready for the budget.
When we can do just as much as suits our convenience, duties are seldom onerous; and when they are utterly undefined, we may take credit for their exact performance, and marvel at their exceeding easiness—that is, if the simplicity and credulity of the world be at all proportioned to our impudent assurance.
If a cobbler were dubbed an Esculapius, we can imagine Dr. Last, who, from a long course of drenching and bleeding, had contracted an opinion that the skill accompanied the practice, naively saying, “Such a one (Dr. Baillie) was a physician by trade, a professional person. There is no such craft recognized in this country; all our hospitals are ignorant of it—all our habits averse to it; nor is there one of a British Physician’s functions which may not be conjoined with the toils of a cobbler’s life.” Gentlemen, indeed, of a certain order are all Heaven-born Statesmen. No devotion of time or labour is necessary for their qualifications. Senators, they are de facto Statesmen. Had Caleb Quotem, the renowned Factotum, added M.P. to his various more useful callings, he would doubtless, after his painting, glazing, auctioneering, speechifying, almanacking, and essay-writing on hydrostatics, have found sufficient leisure for the wise direction of the affairs of the country.[†]
The proposition that the craft of a politican by trade, a professional statesman, is not recognized in this state, is partly true and partly false. We have an abundance of adventurous gentlemen who meddle in politics as a trade, but few indeed who are skilled in them as one. If we had the science together with the venal purpose, we should not complain; but our fine folks have, it would seem, no idea of the occasion for political science, or even of the existence of political science. Arguing from their own ignorance, they infer that there is no knowledge; admiring the ease with which they conjoin doing nothing for the public with doing much for themselves, they suppose that the functions of a Statesman are comprehended in their miserable barren practices of aying, noing, inveighing, and declaiming; and judging of what they ought to be from what they are, they exclaim with a ludicrous and impudent self-complacency, like the dung in the fable, “How fine we apples swim!”
(Vol. I, pp. 169-73.)[*]
Having illustrated our author’s powers of combining pleasantry with argument, we will refresh the recollection of our readers with a few specimens of his success in a mere squib.
The following was written when the Duke of Wellington after being appointed Prime Minister, held along with that office his former one of Commander-in-Chief. If the paragraph alluded to ever really “appeared in the Herald,” the coincidence not unnaturally suggested the idea of this jeu d’esprit.
The following paragraph has appeared in the Herald: “Some alarm was excited in the Palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth, on Tuesday morning, at one o’clock, by the arrival of a dispatch from the Duke of Wellington, with the word ‘Immediate’ superscribed on the envelope. In consequence of this intimation, his Grace was awakened; the Archbishop immediately arose, and read the dispatch. The rumours on this unusual occurrence were various; but nothing has transpired from which any conjecture can be drawn as to the purport of the communication.”
It is confidently rumoured that the purport of the communication was this: His Grace of Wellington notified in the most friendly terms to his Grace of Canterbury,[†] that the interests of the empire imperatively required that he, the Duke, should put himself at the head of the Protestant Church, and that it was therefore desired that his Grace of Canterbury should forthwith vacate his See to allow of the necessary arrangements—his Grace of Canterbury taking in exchange the cannonical office of Master-General of the Ordnance. Anticipating a possible but frivolous objection, the Duke explained that though he was not in Holy Orders, he would put his appointment in General Orders, which was nearly the same thing, orders being orders all the world over, and the distinction one merely of quality and not of a substantive character. The Duke ended, it is reported, by declaring that the Archbishop’s exchange and his own consequent promotion vice Sutton should be gazetted next Tuesday, and read at the head of every regiment in his Majesty’s service. The Archbishop, we hear, is resigned to the necessity, for there is no disputing the will of a man at the head of the Army and the head of the State, and comforts himself, on the score of pride, by dwelling on the precedent of Mr. Herries’s descent from the Exchequer to the Mint; and on the score of fitness for his new office, by Mr. Goulburn’s appointment to the Finance Department.
When this arrangement is completed, we understand that it is the intention of his Grace of Wellington to have some serious conversation with Lord Lyndhurst. There seems no reason why a Lawyer should be Chancellor. The delays of the Court have been a long complaint; and the Duke observes that the rapidity of his motions and the decision of his character cannot be questioned even by his enemies and detractors. In case of the event at which we are glancing, the Duke will be his own Vice, and Mr. Shadwell will be appointed to the command of a frigate.
(Vol. I, pp. 146-8.)
We shall next quote a paper “written,” says Mr. Fonblanque, “in ridicule of some very circumstantial and absurd accounts of the Duke of Wellington’s habits, which appeared in the newspapers upon his Grace’s accession to power in 1828.”
The Duke of Wellington generally rises at about eight. Before he gets out of bed, he commonly pulls off his nightcap; and while he is dressing he sometimes whistles a tune, and occasionally damns his valet. The Duke of Wellington uses warm water in shaving, and lays on a greater quantity of lather than ordinary men. While shaving he chiefly breathes through his nose, with a view, as is conceived, of keeping the suds out of his mouth; and sometimes he blows out one cheek, sometimes the other, to present a better surface to the razor. When he is dressed he goes down to breakfast; and while descending the stairs he commonly takes occasion to blow his nose, which he does rather rapidly, following it up with three hasty wipes of his handkerchief, which he instantly afterwards deposits in his right-hand coat pocket. The Duke of Wellington’s pockets are in the skirts of his coat, and the holes perpendicular. He wears false horizontal flaps, which have given the world an erroneous opinion of their position. The Duke of Wellington drinks tea for breakfast, which he sweetens with white sugar, and corrects with cream. He commonly stirs the fluid two or three times with a spoon before he raises it to his lips. The Duke of Wellington eats toast and butter, cold ham, tongue, fowls, beef, or eggs, and sometimes both meat and eggs; the eggs are generally those of the common domestic fowl. During breakfast the Duke of Wellington has a newspaper either in his hand, or else on the table, or in his lap. The Duke of Wellington’s favourite paper is the Examiner. After breakfast the Duke of Wellington stretches himself out and yawns. He then pokes the fire and whistles. If there is no fire, he goes to the window and looks out. At about ten o’clock the General Post letters arrive. The Duke of Wellington seldom or never inspects the superscription, but at once breaks the seal and applies himself to the contents. The Duke of Wellington appears sometimes displeased with his correspondents, and says pshaw, in a clear, loud voice. About this time the Duke of Wellington retires for a few minutes, during which it is impossible to account for his motions with the desirable precision. At eleven o’clock, if the weather is fine, the Duke’s horse is brought to the door. The Duke’s horse on these occasions is always saddled and bridled. The Duke’s horse is ordinarily the same white horse he rode at Waterloo, and which was eaten by the hounds at Strathfieldsaye. His hair is of a chestnut colour. Before the Duke goes out, he has his hat and gloves brought him by a servant. The Duke of Wellington always puts the hat on his head, and the gloves on his hands. The Duke’s daily manner of mounting his horse is the same that it was on the morning of the glorious battle of Waterloo. His Grace first takes the rein in his left hand, which he lays on the horse’s mane; he then puts his left foot in the stirrup, and with a spring brings his body up, and his right leg over the body of the animal by the way of the tail, and thus places himself in the saddle; he then drops his right foot into the stirrup, puts his horse to a walk, and seldom falls off, being an admirable equestrian. When acquaintances and friends salute the Duke in the streets, such is his affability that he either bows, touches his hat, or recognizes their civility in some way or other. The Duke of Wellington very commonly says, “How are you?”—“It’s a fine day”—“How d’ye do?”—and makes frequent and various remarks on the weather, and the dust or the mud, as it may be. At twelve o’clock on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the Duke’s Master comes to teach him his Political Economy. The Duke makes wonderful progress in his studies, and his intructor is used pleasantly to observe, that “the Duke gets on like a house on fire.” At the Treasury the Duke of Wellington does nothing but think. He sits on a leathern library chair, with his heels and a good part of his legs on the table. When thus in profound thought, he very frequently closes his eyes for hours together, and makes an extraordinary and rather appalling noise through his nose. Such is the Duke of Wellington’s devotion to business, that he eats no luncheon. In the House of Lords the Duke’s manner of proceeding is this—he walks up to the fire-place, turns his back to it, separates the skirts of his coat, tossing them over the dexter and sinister arms, thrusts his hands in his breeches’ pockets, and so stands at ease. The characteristic of the Duke’s oratory is a brevity the next thing to silence. As brevity is the soul of wit, it may confidently be affirmed that in this quality Lord North and Sheridan were fools compared with him.
(Vol. I, pp. 160-3.)
When the late Mr. Henry Hunt appeared in Parliament, Mr. Fonblanque produced, under the title of “Biography à la Mode,” a pretended sketch of his life, from which we quote the following passage: it was preceded by a flaming account of Mr. Hunt’s ancestorial honours:
The present Mr. Hunt, member for Preston, was the second son of Everard Hunt, by Margaret Tollemash, a delicate shoot of one of the noblest families in the land.[*] His elder brother dying of the rickets, at the early age of three years, ten months, and eleven days, as we learn from the tablet to his memory in Stoke d’Auvely churchyard, Henry was educated as heir and hope of the noble house, nor did his youthful promise disappoint the fond hope of his parents. Loyalty seems to have been the instinct of his nature. His mother was used pleasantly to relate that, when the child was seven years of age, she chanced on approaching the nursery to hear a sound resembling that which an active full-grown bee of the bumble kind makes in the interior of an empty full-bellied pitcher, and, being naturally curious at hearing so remarkable and singular a noise, she stepped gently on her tiptoes to the door, and on listening attentively, ascertained that it was young master Harry warbling from his infant lips “God save great George our King.” If a piece of money was given to him, the bent of his affections would appear in the delight with which he gazed at the head, and he would ask whether the King at London was made of gold or of silver?—for the child could not imagine royalty of the same substance as other folks. As Henry advanced from childhood to youth, these feelings of loyalty, directed by reason, settled down into a constitutional affection to the throne—that throne, we may add, which stands a bulwark of safety between the nobility and the people, protecting the latter, while its splendour reflects dignity and lustre upon the former. At eighteen, the young Hunt had the misfortune of losing his affectionate mother, in whom the pride of a noble descent was so blended with natural sweetness, that she moved through life with a dignified gentleness, that won all hearts and well-nigh broke them upon her ever lamentable demise, which took place on the 2nd of October, 1773. To dissipate the youth’s grief, his father sent him to the University of Oxford, where he formed those connexions with the Whig Aristocracy which have been strengthened by time, intercourse, and the sympathy of feeling on political subjects.
After leaving Christchurch he entered into high life, and attracted the attention of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV, with whom a private friendship subsisted up to the demise of that ever-to-be-lamented, and ever-virtuous, monarch. Soon after his introduction in the Court circles, Mr. Hunt’s father dying, he became the representative of his noble house: but the seductions of favour and fashion never warped the mind of our hero, who found time, amidst the riot of the gay world, for the studies of the philosopher, and the writings of the moralist and the poet. To the blandishments of verse Mr. Hunt was no stranger, as an anecdote, not generally known, will show. Shakespeare says—
So it was with our late monarch, and hero’s patron, George IV. It is not known that the last George was the inventor of the artful stitch called fine-drawing. Mr. Hunt, who happened to be acquainted with the fact that the honour of the invention belonged to the monarch, wrote upon the occasion a popular song, beginning
Our King is a true British Tailor![†]
which became a great favourite with the trade, and has indeed been parodied in a song in honour of his present Majesty. As a proof of the value in which the late King held Mr. Hunt may be instanced the lodgings at Ilchester he gave him, in one of those houses the doors of which our sovereigns never shut against their people. Here Mr. Hunt resided two or three years, which he has often declared were the best spent and happiest of his life. Here he enjoyed the conversation of a benignant governor; and received the visits of the neighbouring magistracy, whose especial regards he had fixed. From this period up to the late election for Preston, Mr. Hunt’s life has flowed in an even tide, his happiness only disturbed by the event which plunged the whole empire into a grief unparalleled in the history of affliction—we mean the deplored demise of his late Majesty, and some time father of his people, and friend, and protector, George IV
(Vol. II, pp. 182-5.)
The following, on “The General Hypocrisy,” as our author justly denominates the general fast, ordained by Parliament at the suggestion of Mr. Perceval, shall be our last quotation in this vein:
That precious pot of ointment, that godly gentleman, Mr. Perceval, has at last had his pious will of us, and obtained from Ministers a promise of a General Fast,[‡] or rather of the order for one,—for as it is true that any man may take a horse to the water, but no one can make him drink,—so also it is certain that any rulers may direct a general fast, but no power can prevent men who have the means from ministering to the carnal cravings of their stomachs. The only effect will be to put the nation for one day through a grand ceremony of hypocrisy. In addition to the customary dinner, people will eat salt fish with egg sauce, which is a very good thing now and then for the palate, but decidedly dyspeptic, and apt for cholera, and should by no means be eaten where the disease exists.
How is the world changed! Time was, when contrition showed itself in beating the breast, tearing the hair, rending the garments, and screaming with energy. Now, the most pious man of the age proposes to settle the nation’s long score of sins with one day of salt fish and egg sauce! What penitence! See twenty millions of sinners expiating their sins with fine large flakes of Newfoundland cod, smothered in an egg sauce, rich with cream, and stimulant with mustard, every glutton, as he gobbles it down, only remarking what a fine vehicle egg sauce is for mustard,—and certainly it is so. If we ever write a tragedy it shall be called “Contrition;” and the hero, after a tissue of enormities, shall, by way of catastrophe in the fifth act, order salt fish and egg sauce in addition to his customary meal.
A contemporary truly remarks that good Mr. Perceval has superseded the Bishops, nay, the Archbishops, who have not said a word about the necessity for this General Fast, perhaps because those worldly divines well know that it will only prove a General Breakfast. Mr. Perceval indeed explains, that he is the Member for Heaven; but we think we see signs of his differing with his constituency. For instance, he rather ungraciously flings in the teeth of the country the shameful prodigality of bounty shown to him and his.
“I was taken up,” said the Hon. Member, “on the death of my father, by the nation, which abundantly provided for me and mine; and it is in gratitude for that kindness that I call on the house to address the Crown to issue a proclamation for a fast.”[*]
Were he “taken up” by a mad doctor, it would be more becoming his peculiar claims to care. It is the “taking up” of him, and such as he, which constitutes the crying sin of the nation,—its endurance of abuse to absolute baseness. That is the true national humiliation. And this pot of godliness coolly talks of the abundant provision made for him. Why does he not look to be fed, according to Scripture, as the young ravens?[†] What does he do with that kitchen? What mean those fat partridges at the fire? What is the purpose of that vast cook? Is that simmering and bubbling from stew-pans, flesh-pots of abomination, devices of carnal cookery? And lo! there we spy a haunch of mutton hanging up to be dressed ten days hence, when tender,—perhaps on the general fast day, after the fish and the eggs, and the mustard! What providence is this—what thought of the morrow,[‡] and not the morrow of all souls,—aye, and of ten days after the morrow! Is this in any degree like the manners and customs of young ravens? Whoever saw a raven, young or old, with a cook and a kitchen range, and a larder, and a carnal joint hanging upon a devil’s hook? Does Mr. Perceval (we will not call him good after such doings) suppose that the devil has never been in his kitchen?—aye, has he, and perhaps kissed his cook too, and looked with a leer into his stew-pans, and thought what a sop in the pan he would make of his miserable little soul, tricked out with all its earthly gauds and hypocrisies. Where is his treasure laid up?—at Ransom’s;—aye, that will be no ransom for him from the pickle of Dives.[§] Again: What sort of tabernacle is that he tarries in? Is it in the least like a raven’s nest? No, no; his nest has been very differently feathered, and it is lined most abundantly, as he truly says, with the golden fleece, from this most patient and most pillaged people of all on the face of the earth. He is like to the raven in nothing but blackness, and the dismalness of his croak.
It is curious, that in a squib called the “Unreported Meeting,” in the New Monthly Magazine of April last,[¶] Mr. Perceval’s argument, as to the absence of any mention of responsibility to the people, in scripture, is anticipated in the speech attributed to him:
“Mr. P— could not agree with the last speaker, that it was vain to cast about for safety, in the sad strait to which they had been reduced. He thought prayer could not fail to procure their deliverance. While there was heaven there was hope. Many causes had conduced to their present condition of danger. The devil had not been inactive,—when, indeed, was he? The people were too well off; they waxed fat and kicked.[∥] Fasts should be frequently enforced to keep down their pride. The visitations which formerly softened men’s hearts are now unknown—as if Providence had deserted this guilty world, famines and pestilences have ceased. What was the consequence? the people became stiff-necked and puffed up with pride, and their hearts rose against their rulers. But this was not all. They were tasting of fruit of the tree of knowledge in its accursed ripeness. Man in his innocence was ignorant—he tasted of knowledge and he became a creature of sin.[*] The apples, sweet to the taste, and bitter in the belly, were now his daily food; the atrocious newspapers,—those deadly poisons to the soul, were gathered twice a day. Knowledge had never been designed for man, and yet he saw well-meaning persons engaged in promoting education, which was the ladder to sin. He was rejoiced to see that the Church was setting the example of neglecting learning in its own body. The vanity of acquirements, merely human, was properly renounced by guides to a heavenly destination. In a worldly and politic view, knowledge was an evil. Men who knew nothing beyond their own circumstances, were content and happy—with comparisons came discontent, and restlessness, and envy, and misery. Would we give knowledge to dogs and horses? No. Suppose horses could read and reason, what a clamour would be raised at every coach-stand, and what coachman would be able to manage his steeds? They would want Representation, forsooth!—they would want a horse on the box—they would want horses to measure out the corn, and keep the bins! Nothing could be more idle than the demand for Representation. Had there been any virtue in Representation, would it not have been recommended in Scripture? But in the sacred books is there a word of a Representative Government? Providence would have given the Jewish people a Representative Government if it had been an advisable institution. It was, in his mind, a convincing argument against Representation, that it was not spoken of in Scripture. It might be objected that boroughs were also unnamed; but the payment of taxes was especially recommended, and boroughs conduced to the exercise of that divinely enjoined duty. Our Constitution was matchless and faultless, and constructed on a model that could not fail. It was of three estates, King, Lords, and Commons, and though three, it was one. This perfection was argued to be a fault by the Reformers, who absurdly objected that one power ruled in all these forms. Because they cannot understand this merit, is its being to be denied? But with infidels in religion, or in politics, he would hold no argument. The honourable gentleman concluded with a Resolution, ‘That a prayer should be composed for the preservation of Boroughs, and that frequent fasting was a discipline of the body and soul, essential to the good conduct of the people.’ ”
(Vol. II, pp. 244-52.)
The squib here referred to, is well known to have been let off by Mr. Fonblanque himself. Indeed these volumes, selected from the Examiner, might easily be equalled, both in extent and in merit, by a selection from Mr. Fonblanque’s writings not in the Examiner. The “Unreported Meeting,” is one of those jeux d’esprit which would not willingly be let die. It contains several speeches, which we think are no way inferior to the oration of Mr. Perceval.
We quote as specially memorable, part of the speeches ascribed to Lord Monson (the proprietor of Gatton), and to the somewhat more celebrated Lord Huntingtower.
After a resolution in favour of potwallopers, moved by Sir Robert Peel, Lord Monson rose and expressed his dissent:
“Potwallopers were very likely the best class of electors; he did not dispute their merits; he believed their superiority; but, after all, they were but the best of the fallible. Say what we may, the men are but men, the best of whom stumbles six times a day. Now, bricks or stones never stumble, they are always to be reckoned upon. He had the happiness of possessing a borough on his lawn—this was a thing as near perfection as it was possible to be . . . . It was nonsense to suppose any virtue in popular election—the choice of the many, forsooth! Does not the proverb say, that too many cooks spoil the broth? One man was as likely to be right as a thousand. It was proper that the aristocracy should choose members for the people. What would become of the sheep if they chose their own dogs?—no, their shepherd chooses them . . . . Pursuing this sentiment, he must declare himself a parliamentary reformer . . . . He should propose, that sixty decayed towns be enfranchised. Places having twenty, or more than twenty inhabitants, to have the electoral right conveyed to the possession of the nearest ruin. The remains of ancient castles, religious buildings, and Roman camps, might be usefully represented. He should like to see members for Kenilworth, Glastonbury, St. George’s Hill, &c. Thus, he would meet the revolutionary reform scheme, by a plan of constitutional reform . . . . It was truly said by some writer, who was a lord, and therefore of some authority, that Time is the great reformer; and how had Time reformed boroughs, but by depopulating them, by thinning away the rank abundance of the electoral bodies? The same lord, whose name he now remembered to be Bacon, observed that we should imitate Time in our reforms;[*] and how then could we better do that than by producing rottenness in the constituency? Time has decayed boroughs, and reformers should decay boroughs after its example. He disliked large towns; they were squalid, smoky, unairy, unhealthy. Who would compare Bramber with Brighton? The representation of decay was the representation of the condition of mortality. Out of corruption Nature reproduces life; and the life of the constitution, in like manner, springs from corruption. But the radicals would rail against the corruption of nature, and stop by bill, the progress of re-creation. From the disgustful worm comes the butterfly, with wings powdered with gold—from the rotten borough comes the member, bright with parliamentary honours. Like the butterfly, he might be called a pensioner; but such vulgar slang was to be despised. What he takes from the world he renders back in decoration.” (Incessant cheering, and loud cries of hear, hear, hear, from Lord E—.)[†]
This really is very fair parliamentary argument, and the drollest part of it not more ludicrous than (for instance) Mr. Spring Rice’s argument against the ballot “that it is absurd to expect moral effects from mechanical means.”[‡] (What does Mr. Spring Rice think of the press?) But Mr. Rice never yet made so clever a speech. Our author’s facility in giving the forms of logic and the colours of rhetoric to the absurdest trains of thought, is such as the rightful owners of the absurdities may well envy.
Let us now listen to Lord Huntingtower:
“Lord H. declared that these palliatives were idle—he cared not a rush who took offence at the term—he had tried more expedients than most men, but ingenuity could not make everything of insufficient means. Nothing would do but a return to the old feudal right of the gallows. When lords could hang, they were respected. The lenity of certain persons who should know better, was the great fault. He laughed at such petty doings as those that had caused so much talk at Stamford and Newark. His people had offended him at Grantham, and what did he do? Why, he made a fish-pond in the place of houses, and worried the dogs into meekness. The law had hitherto been their only instrument of power, but that was about to be withdrawn from them; or at least, it was to be shared with the people, which was as bad. If there were a club for every one’s use, so heavy that none but giants could lift it, it was clear that the giants would be able to arm with it, while the people of common stature would only be controlled by it; but reduce the club to a size that may be wielded by the ordinary run of people, and the great lose their peculiar advantage. So it was with the law; by cheapening it, the poor would be enabled to beard the rich in court, and their insolence would be encouraged . . . . He had used the power of the purse on the law, but never abused it; he had used it regularly, but always in moderation. He had given notice to his attorney that he would never allow himself more than two hundred a year, in what were called vexatious proceedings, and that if more was charged in his bill it would be disallowed . . . . He had compelled obedience to his wishes by various means, but chiefly by nuisances which were of great convenience. He had employed many expedients in his private way, vicious bulls, indelicate operations before the windows of disagreeable people, and many more than he had patience to recite; if these things promoted prosecution, why then he had the parties in a court, with a hole in their pockets, and an attorney’s bill on their shoulders. Law Reform, as it is called—Law Deform, as he would style it—would however take all power out of their hands, and strip them of any authority superior to the vulgar. Unless we can have some instrument of force which the people have not, how can we maintain our respect? Wrongs are complained of, but why? Because the resistance of obstinate people to some necessary command has provoked punishment. If the people were completely submissive to us, they would be kindly treated. Are we cruel to our cows, and our sheep, our dogs and our horses?—No; because they are ours, and we hurt not our own—they are obedient, and offer no provocation. So it would be with the people, were they what they were in the good old times, and should ever have remained, adscripti glebæ, serfs, and villains. But now they must have the protection of law! (his lordship emphatically added). I wonder they are not ashamed to hold the protection of law in common with the beasts of the field; is it not degrading, that Englishmen will consent to have the same shield over them which the legislature has flung over horses, and oxen, and jackasses?”
(Hear, hear, hear.)[*]
This parody on the declamation against the ballot will not have escaped the reader: and as for the argument for absolute power, in the sentences immediately preceding, the Carlton Club should vote Mr. Fonblanque a thousand pounds for it. It is the best thing ever said in favour of Toryism.
One more quotation, and we have done. It has been seen that our author’s wit is often not the mere ornament and garnishing of his argument, but the solid reasoning itself, playfully expressed. At other times, when the occasion demands a seriousness of feeling inconsistent with pleasantry, the following article, written at the end of 1830, shows with what lofty earnestness he can write. We quote it partly for this purpose, and partly for the intrinsic value of the lesson of encouragement which it so nobly conveys.
We have closed the year one of the People’s Cause. We have closed a year that has teemed with events of a grandeur and importance to mankind, unparalleled in the history of the world. We have closed a year in which Justice has wielded the sword of Victory, and Fortune lent her wheel to Truth. We have closed a year which has carried the mind of Europe forward an interval of ages beyond its antiquated trammels and thraldoms. We have closed a year which has dated the decrepitude of despotism, and the Herculean infancy of the democratic power; and must not our recollections swell with pride, and our expectations be full of confidence? The past indicates the future. Abroad we have the example of France, both for imitation and for warning. Her people have set before us the great lesson of virtue—her Government of error.
It cannot be denied, that for the last ten years, step after step has been won by the liberal party, and not one inch of ground anywhere lost. We have experienced no defeats—we have been stayed, indeed, but never thrust back; and, despite of obstinate opposition, object after object has been attained. The Liberals struggled long for Catholic Emancipation. Catholic Emancipation was declared the destruction of Religion, the delivery of society to all the powers of evil, the unloosing of Anti-Christ and Satan. It was carried;[*] and all the world perceived that the Liberals had been right. Nearly the same history applies to the Test Laws.[†] The alteration of the Commercial System was demanded: the Economists were forthwith declared visionaries, and their doctrines were condemned, under the all-convincing description of “new-fangled,”—one of the most potent phrases in the English language. With the success of the experiments came the late acknowledgment, that the economists were not such fools as the ignoramuses had thought them.
Reformers complained of the abuses, defects, and vices of the laws. “The law is perfection,” was the first defence; and the objectors were denounced as false preachers of discontent, the inveterate enemies of all the excellences in our unrivalled institutions; and yet Law Reform is now the great business of the day; and judges claim, and merit praise, for their application to the purifying of the Augean stable. Thus again, after all, the Reformers were right. Lastly, we come to the grand question.
Who were they who have for years past denounced the corruption of the Lower House, called for its re-constitution, and insisted on the people’s right to representation as the only security against the abuse of power? Radicals, clamourers without cause, it was said; men void of truth and justice, who slandered an institution as perfect as the wit of man could make it, and which, whatever theoretical flaws might be objected by visionaries, worked excellently well in practice. Two years ago the Honourable House declared, upon a division, that there was no rotten representation. Less than two months ago, a Minister fell because he offered the same impudent outrage to truth. Now, the vast majority of society, Whig, Tory, and Moderates, acknowledge the necessity of Parliamentary Reform. So again the Reformers, after all, were right. Two years back, when Sir Robert Peel uttered a scoff at the Ballot,[‡] the collective wisdom received it with shouts of applause. Six months ago, Mr. Brougham railed against secret voting at popular meetings, without provoking signs of displeasure or retort;[§] but now the judgment of the country is for the Ballot. Men of all classes and denominations, not interested in the foul influences, are convinced that the protection of the voter is necessary to the freedom of the suffrage. So here again, it will soon be seen, that the Reformers were right, after all. Where are they yet said to be wrong? Only, we reply, upon the ground where the battles are not yet fought out. They are said to be wrong, or wicked, or mischievous, for demanding that the franchise shall be co-extensive with the education and property of the country, and descending to the people as information is spreading among them. They are said to be wrong for objecting to an expensive Church Establishment, and for thinking that the wealth of the Priesthood is not apostolic or conducive to religion. They are said to be wrong, or wicked, or mischievous, because they think it unjust, and impolitic, to cramp the industry of a nation by Corn Laws for the supposed advantage of the landed proprietors. They are said to be wrong, or disloyal, and seditious, for supposing that the dignity of the Crown can be maintained without extravagant ostentation, and that the conduct of the chief magistrate is a better security for it than his cost.
They are said to be wrong, or to betray an ignorant impatience of taxation, for contending that it is the duty of a Government to raise the moral character of the people by knowledge, and that it is barbarous impolicy to place out of their reach, by stamp duties, the information which would teach them prudence and conduct. They are said to be wrong for arguing that it is cheaper and better to direct men with books, than to control them with bayonets, and that letters are more explanatory missives than bullets.
Under these, and a very few other imputations of error, the Reformers may be cheered by reflecting that such opposition has been offered, for a season, to every measure (without any single exception) they have carried; and in relation to those objects we have recited, as well as to those already won, it will be confessed, at no distant day, that, after all, the Radicals were right.
We ask of our opponents to reflect on the many questions which the voice of society, and the acts of the State, have determined in our favour; and to consider whether it is not probable that we are as right, in the doctrines which remain unsettled, as in those now sanctioned and established? Have they not as much cause for self-distrust as the Reformers have for confidence?
Against what combined forces of sinister interest, custom and prejudice, have the Liberals made their impressions, and achieved their victories, by the vast power of truth alone! To the conviction of society, and to nothing else, do we owe our proud successes.
(Vol. II, pp. 78-83.)
This eloquent and impressive passage will afford an appropriate transition to a few remarks which appear to us to be called for, as to the present political position of the Examiner, and the temporary, and in a great measure only apparent, separation which has taken place between Mr. Fonblanque, and that more active and vigorous section of the thorough reformers, of which he was for some years perhaps the most important, and certainly the most conspicuous representative.
We have delayed to the conclusion of our article, our observations on this topic, because we were desirous of considering the writer of the Examiner in his permanent, rather than in what we cannot but regard as his temporary character. The position which Mr. Fonblanque has established for himself in the history of our time, as not only one of the most powerful but one of the most uncompromising asserters of the doctrines of enlightened radicalism, in season and out of season, through good and ill report, deserved that the tribute of admiration and gratitude which we have endeavoured to render, should be undisturbed by the intrusion of any of the differences of opinion which exist between him and those whom we hope we may call his political friends, respecting the exigencies of the present moment, and the attitude which, at a single point in the varying course of passing politics, it becomes the enlightened radicals to assume. We confess, however, it was an unpleasant surprise to us, that a writer who, in the judgment of most of those entertaining the same opinions, occasionally outran the bounds of justice and discretion in his onslaughts upon Lord Grey’s ministry, both collectively and individually, should depart still more widely from the same line in the contrary direction, when Lord Melbourne’s ministry are concerned. We did not expect that he would so soon fall behind those whom he formerly ran so far before. The change is not in them, it is in him. We acknowledge, as we have always acknowledged, that Lord Melbourne’s ministry is, in its spirit and general policy, several degrees in advance of Lord Grey’s; and is entitled, against the Tories, to as much support from radicals as can be reconciled with the unqualified and energetic pursuit of their separate objects as radicals. And we may appeal to the whole conduct of the active section of the radicals since the commencement of the session (honour be to them, they have given us much to appeal to) and ask whether any support consistent with this object has been denied? rather, whether it has not been afforded more conspicuously and zealously, as well as more powerfully, than at any former time? The conduct of the radicals in this respect has left to Mr. Fonblanque no subject of complaint; but they have no small subject of complaint against him. They complain that while they have thought it incumbent on them to make the promulgation of their own principles their primary object, and support to the ministry altogether secondary to that; he, on the contrary, has, almost from the first coming in of the present ministry in 1835, acted as if his first object was to support and glorify the ministers, and the assertion of his own political doctrines only the second.
To Mr. Fonblanque, our description of that part of his conduct which we complain of, will probably appear an over-statement, and we shall be sorry if it does not. To many of those whose exertions have most effectively served radical opinions, we know that it will appear an understatement. Whatever course of conduct Mr. Fonblanque may think fit to adopt, that he is sincere in it there can be no manner of doubt, and as little in our minds of the unabated strength of his attachment to all the principles and all the political objects which he has hitherto pursued. Our difference with him is on a point of expediency, but it is on one of those points of expediency which involve principles. That it is possible to assert, when occasion arises, some of the most important doctrines of radicalism, and yet to maintain a general tone of systematic subserviency to ministers, as fulsome and undiscriminating as that of the most sordid place-hunter or parasite, we have examples in many members of parliament, and in the Morning Chronicle. That Journal advocates the ballot and the repeal of the corn laws; but who knows, or who thinks of it, in any other light than that of a mere ministerial hack writer and panegyrist? Far be it from our thoughts to insinuate the slightest vestige of a comparison between the Examiner and the Morning Chronicle. Mr. Fonblanque could not, if he would, and would not, if he could, be made a “utensil” of by any ministry: he has compromised no principle; there is no opinion he ever held, which he does not at times continue to advocate; nor does he spare individual members of the ministry, when they lay themselves open to radical attack. It is not any specific act, either of omission or commission, then, which we complain of, so much as a general lowering of the tone of political morality which formerly distinguished the Examiner. He no longer studies to keep a high standard of the duty of ministers and parliament perpetually in view, and to rebuke (with more or less severity, according to circumstances) every instance of deviation from it: he expends all his strength and his space in fighting for the ministers and their measures against the Tories (and occasionally against the radicals): while the advocacy of those broader and bolder views, to the fearless promulgation of which we owe that the Tories are not still in power, has become almost a subordinate feature in his Journal; and it is only his past reputation for radicalism which prevents him from being mistaken for a ministerialist with radical inclinations, rather than a radical who, without relaxing one iota in the pursuit of radical objects, consents to support the ministry. It was not thus that Mr. Fonblanque attained his proud eminence among English journalists; it was not thus that the only newspaper writer with whom he can be compared, the unapproachable Armand Carrel, made himself, without a seat in the legislature or any public station beyond the editorship of his journal, the most powerful political leader of his age and country.*
For us, in the way in which all radical battles have hitherto been fought and won, in that way we mean to persevere; not withholding, for the sake of any ministry or party, or from regard to the immediate fate of any party question, one particle of useful truth, for which we believe that in the present state of the public mind we can find audience. And as one of our chief examples and encouragements in this course is to be found in the past career of Mr. Fonblanque, so are we satisfied that we shall not long have to pursue it without his sympathy and assistance; that the distance which, in appearance more than in reality, divides that portion of the thorough reformers whom this Review more especially represents, from him who was so long their decus et tutamen,[*] will gradually diminish, and that before eighteen months have elapsed, the difference will have ceased to exist, except in memory.
[[*] ]The story is found in Trajano Boccalini, Advices from Parnassus, revised and corrected by Mr. Hughes (London: Brown, et al., 1706), p. 14 (VI), with reference to Francesco Guicciardini, L’historia d’Italia (Florence: Torret, 1561).
[[*] ]Edward Barrington de Fonblanque, in The Life and Labours of Albany Fonblanque (London: Bentley, 1874), p. 6, attributes the maxim to Mill, who, he says, used it in a letter (now lost) to Albany Fonblanque.
[[*] ]Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 2 vols. in 1 (London: Rest Fenner, 1817), Vol. I, p. 35.
[[*] ]See Samuel Horsley, Speech on the Treasonable Practices Bill (11 Nov., 1795), in Cobbett, ed., Parliamentary History of England, Vol. XXXII, col. 258.
[[†] ]Unheaded Leader, Morning Chronicle, 16 Oct., 1829, p. 2.
[[*] ]Charles Knight, The Menageries, 3 vols. (London: Knight, 1829-40), Vol. I, p. 54.
[[†] ]Jean François Marmontel, Mémoires d’un père, 4 vols. (London: Peltier, 1805), Vol. II, pp. 179-80.
[[*] ]Presumably, in 1827, Fonblanque was referring to the measures in 7 & 8 George IV, c. 57 (1827).
[[†] ]Robert Peel, Speech on the Corn Bill (29 Apr., 1828), PD, n.s., Vol. 19, cols. 227-8; quoted by Fonblanque, Vol. I, p. 164.
[[*] ]A character in Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones.
[[†] ]The references are to characters in George Lillo’s The London Merchant; or, The History of George Barnwell (London: Gray, 1731).
[[‡] ]Fonblanque presumably has in mind William Godwin’s Things As They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, 3 vols. (London: Crosby, 1794).
[[*] ]See, e.g. Courier, 3 and 10 Sept., 1828, p. ; Globe and Traveller, 15 Sept., 1828, p. . The sale was held on the 23rd, not the 16th of September.
[[†] ]Cf. Tacitus, The Annals, in The Histories and The Annals (Latin and English), trans. Clifford Moore and John Jackson, 4 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1925-37), Vol. II, p. 642 (III, 76, 11-13).
[[‡] ]Nathaniel Thomas Bayly, Psychae; or, Songs on Butterflies, &c. (Malton: printed for private distribution, 1828), p. 2.
[* ]For example, in the paper headed “The Ancient Watch and New Police,” with the appropriate motto “Charley is my darling.” (Vol. I, pp. 265-72.)
[[*] ]The phrase “equitable adjustment” seems to have originated with William Cobbett; see the fifth measure proposed in “The Petition of the Nobility, Gentry, and Others of the County of Norfolk,” Cobbett’s Weekly Register, XLV (11 Jan., 1823), 80.
[[†] ]Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, in Works, new ed., ed. Joseph Warton, et al., 9 vols. (London: Priestley, 1822), Vol. I, p. 267 (II, 298).
[[‡] ]Genesis, 4:3-8.
[[*] ]William Wordsworth, “Rob Roy’s Grave,” in Poetical Works, Vol. III, p. 26 (37-40).
[[†] ]10 George IV, c. 7 (1829).
[[*] ]“The Story of the Two Sisters, Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister,” Arabian Nights, trans. Edward Forster, 5 vols. (London: Miller, 1802), Vol. V, pp. 420-42.
[[†] ]Elizabeth Hamilton, The Cottagers of Glenburnie (Edinburgh: Manners and Miller, and Cheyne, 1808).
[[‡] ]Horace, Satires, pp. 8-10 (I, i, 69-70).
[[*] ]Aesop, “The Fox and the Crow,” in Aesop’s Fables, trans. Vernon Stanley Vernon Jones (London: Heinemann; New York: Doubleday, Page, 1912), p. 6.
[[†] ]Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (London: Newbery, 1773), p. 86 (IV).
[[‡] ]For this traditional nursery rhyme, see Iona and Peter Opie, comps., The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957), p. 171.
[[§] ]“The Shepherd’s Boy and the Wolf,” Aesop’s Fables, p. 41.
[[*] ]Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, in Werke, 55 vols. (Stuttgart and Tübingen: Cotta’schen Buchhandlung, 1828-33), Vol. I, pp. 1-192.
[[†] ]See William Hulton, “Correspondence with Lord Althorp,” and John Charles Spencer, “Correspondence with William Hulton,” both in The Times, 20 Dec., 1831, p. 3.
[[‡] ]“The Story of the Merchant and the Genius,” Arabian Nights, Vol. I, pp. 38-9.
[[*] ]See Ezekiel, 38-9.
[[†] ]Spencer, “Correspondence with William Hulton,” p. 3.
[[*] ]Henry Brougham, “Mr. Burke—Dr. Laurence,” Edinburgh Review, XLVI (Oct., 1827), 303.
[[†] ]See Henry Lee, Caleb Quotem and his Wife! (London: Roach, 1809).
[[*] ]For “the fable,” see James Gillray’s cartoon, The Apples and the Horse-Turds; or, Buonaparte among the Golden Pippins (24 Feb., 1800), reproduced in Draper Hill, Mr. Gillray the Caricaturist (London: Phaidon Press, 1965), illustration no. 118.
[[†] ]William Howley.
[[*] ]Fonblanque invents, as a jeu d’esprit, the account of Hunt’s family.
[[*] ]Julius Caesar, III, ii, 85-6.
[[†] ]Fonblanque is playing on the refrain of Thomas Williams’ song in honour of the “Sailor King,” William IV, Our King!—a True British Sailor! (London: Williams, ).
[[‡] ]See Spencer, Speech on the General Fast (26 Jan., 1832), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 9, col. 902.
[[*] ]Spencer Perceval, Speech on the General Fast (26 Jan., 1832), ibid., col. 900.
[[†] ]See Job, 38:41-3.
[[‡] ]See Matthew, 6:34.
[[§] ]See Luke, 16:19-31.
[[¶] ]Albany Fonblanque, “The Unreported Meeting,” New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, XXXI (Apr., 1831), 337-46.
[[∥] ]See Deuteronomy, 32:15.
[[*] ]See Genesis, 2:17 and 3:4-6.
[[*] ]Both references are to Bacon, “Of Innovation,” in The Essays or Counsels, Civill and Morall (1625), in Works, Vol. VI, p. 433.
[[†] ]Fonblanque, “The Unreported Meeting,” pp. 339-40.
[[‡] ]Thomas Spring-Rice, Speech on the Ballot (7 Mar., 1837), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 37, col. 64.
[[*] ]Fonblanque, “The Unreported Meeting,” pp. 342-3.
[[*] ]10 George IV, c. 7 (1829).
[[†] ]13 Charles II, second session, c. 1 (1661), and 25 Charles II, c. 2 (1672), repealed by 9 George IV, c. 17 (1828).
[[‡] ]Robert Peel, Speech on the Penryn Disfranchisement Bill (28 Mar., 1828), PD, n.s., Vol. 18, col. 1360.
[[§] ]See Examiner, 8 Aug., 1830, p. 449.
[* ]We are happy to learn that a memoir of the life of this extraordinary man will shortly appear in Paris, from the accomplished pen of his friend M. Désiré Nisard. [Jean Marie Napoléon Désiré Nisard, “Armand Carrel,” Revue des Deux Mondes, XII (Oct., 1837), 5-54.]
[[*] ]Virgil, Aeneid, Vol. I, p. 462 (V, 262).