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PARTIES AND THE MINISTRY 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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PARTIES AND THE MINISTRY
London and Westminster Review, VI & XXVIII (Oct., 1837), 1-26. Headed: “Art. I.—1.[Anon.] Domestic Prospects of the Country under the New Parliament. Third edition, revised. [London:] Ridgway. 1837. / 2. Corrected Report of the Speech of Lord John Russell, at the Dinner given on his Election for Stroud, on Friday, July 28, 1837, and an Account of the Proceedings. [London:] Knight. 1837. / 3. [George Pryme.] A Letter to the Electors of Cambridge, touching Mr. Knight, Mr. Sutton, and the Poor-Laws. By a Member of the University. Cambridge[: Johnson], 1837. / 4. [Thomas Perronet Thompson.] Second Series—Letters of a Representative to his Constituents during the Session of 1837. With Additions and Corrections. [London:] Effingham Wilson. 1837.” Running titles as title. Signed “A.” Not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “An article entitled ‘Parties and the Ministry’, in the London and Westminster Review for October, 1837 (No 11 and 54)” (MacMinn, 49). The Somerville College copy (tear-sheets) has one emendation (adopted in the present edition): “do speak” is corrected to “do not speak” (389.13-14).
Parties and the Ministry
the new parliament is about to meet; and it is desirable to consider what is to be feared, and what is to be hoped, from the approaching trial of the strength of parties.
The Tories have made the public fully aware of their intentions and their anticipations. According to them, they are on the eve of coming again into place. They have reduced the already small ministerial majority. By pitting their long purses against the short purses of their opponents before the most disgracefully expensive of all judicial tribunals, Committees of the House of Commons, they hope to convert that majority into a minority; and they are assured of doing so at the next general election. And then, like Mrs. Partington, they will flourish their mop, and set the Atlantic at defiance.[*]
We cannot tell that these hopes may not be realised. We cannot tell that the Tories may not be permitted to succeed in making the counties, the small boroughs, and the freemen, under the Reform Act, what the counties, the small boroughs, and the freemen, were before. What then? Is it for us to blush, and hang our heads, and give up all for lost, and think ourselves beaten, and disgraced, and driven from the field? No, truly. They may do so, if they please, who prophesied of a millennium, in which the tiger was to grow ashamed of his claws, and the serpent of his venom,—who dreamed that bribery and intimidation would grow less as the temptation to them grew greater, and as the consciences of their unhappy victims grew more seared,—who believed that the Reform Act had been a mandate of reform in men’s hearts, as well as in their outward institutions, and that there was to be no need henceforth of laws to protect us against the misuse of power, for that the powerful would stand so much in awe of the weak, would be so humble before them, would have so much respect for their “opinion,” that they would let the government of this country pass out of their hands without an effort to retain it, without a fiercer word than “Good people, for charity’s sake, your vote!” We, the visionaries, the Utopians, the Radicals, had none of these visions. We left them to the “practical men.” We never bade the people trust to what the Examiner calls the “O fie” check. We never pretended that the Reform Bill, with its present machinery, would be any better as a permanent constitution than the government by rotten boroughs. We had faith in the Ballot, even without the Reform Bill. We had no faith in the Reform Bill without the Ballot. The foundation of our hope in the Reform Bill was that it would bring the Ballot. We never believed that it would do so until the last moment. The last moment has arrived.
We are not accusing the Ministers. We never felt so little disposed to accuse them. We know all the allowances which are to be made for them. And if we did not, we agree with those who say that this is not a time when Reformers should turn against each other. Neither, we must add, is it a time when we believe they could do so with success. We are sensible how much the cause of Reform has lost by the inertia of Ministers. They have allowed the enthusiasm to go down, by giving it nothing to keep it up. But what is left of it still follows in their train, because it can do no otherwise, until a bolder party shall furnish leaders equally known and better trusted: they are still at the head of the Reform party, and the crowd behind them is striving to push them on, not to push them aside. We wish as heartily as any one that this were not so. But neither are we entitled to forget that its being so is the fault of no one so much as of our own party. Some of the best Radicals in Parliament were members of the House of Commons long before the Reform Bill. For the last five years we have never had fewer than seventy or eighty English and Scotch Radicals in Parliament, without counting the Irish; and in the last Parliament we had nearly double the number. If, with all this Parliamentary strength, and the country ready to respond to their call, our leaders have not yet succeeded in making themselves the leaders of the country; if some have been too old, others too young, some too impracticable, others too timid; if the ablest among them have been indolent, or dispirited, or frivolous, or, as in the one case of Mr. Roebuck, have not yet had time completely to conquer, even by the most valiant efforts, a prejudice against them which they took no pains to mollify; if they have never known how to strike the chord which was prepared to vibrate; if, with talents inferior to no party in the House—if with acquirements superior to any, they have not known how to make those talents and those acquirements recognised, and available for the common cause; if they have made their virtues and their faults equally an obstacle to their influence; if they have come forward with their accustomed honour, to take the lion’s share of all unpopularity, and allowed the Whigs to carry off the credit of everything popular which has been effected by their joint strength; our party must resign itself for some time longer to the consequences of its past inefficiency. The body of Reformers throughout the country, in all walks of life, who have no means of judging political men but from what they read in the newspapers, will continue, until the contrary is proved to them, to believe that the Radicals in Parliament have shown all they can do, and that those Radicals are a sample of the best whom Radicalism can furnish. A vigorous, and, as far as it went, highly successful effort, was made by a few of the Radicals in the early part of the last session, to take a higher ground. We encouraged them to the effort, and we applaud them for it. But years of lost time cannot be made up in a few months; men’s minds had settled into other channels; the post of honour which our friends had left so long unclaimed, they could not assume at a moment’s warning; and the attacks of some of them on the Whigs, before they had shown themselves qualified to succeed the Whigs, were but partially responded to, because they appeared ill-timed to a large majority even of those who thought them true, and because numbers of those who go much further than the Whigs see no chance of resisting the Tories but by their aid, and, in proportion as they despair of the Whigs, despair of Reform.
We can see, as well as some of our friends, one not inconsiderable advantage, which might result from a Tory ministry, or a mixed ministry of Whigs and moderate Tories. There might be a far more efficient Radical party. There would be an end to the parrot cry of “Do not endanger the Ministry.” We should be fighting for a cause, then, and not for a set of men. We should no longer be under leaders whose opinions, or whose fears, or the necessities of whose position, make them rather desirous to damp than to inflame the enthusiasm of their own supporters. We should be delivered from the anomalous state, in which we have neither the benefits of a liberal government, nor those of a liberal opposition; in which we can carry nothing through the two Houses, but what would be given by a Tory ministry, and yet are not able to make that vigorous appeal to the people out of doors, which under the Tories could be made and would be eagerly responded to. These are considerations which cannot but act strongly upon men who feel that they could play a part in this more energetic action upon the public mind. It is natural that men who think the cause in danger of being lost by timidity and lukewarmness— who think that all depends upon speaking out, upon aiming at great things, upon offering to the people objects worth fighting for, and a banner worth upholding—it is natural that they should sigh for a time when to raise this banner, when to proclaim these objects, will not be the way to be looked shily on by their own party, and called marplots, and impracticable men, and Tory-Radicals. We, too, differ in some things from Mr. Roebuck, and our able and upright friend the Spectator; but the want of literal conformity, which, as Colonel Thompson says in his admirable Letters of a Representative, “is always the excuse of feeble people,”[*] shall not be ours. If we differ from them somewhat, we agree with them in more. We sympathize cordially in the feelings which are now actuating them. We doubt if they feel more indignant than we do at the sort of reception which their manifestation of these feelings has met with; at the sort of interpretation which has been put upon it by some who ought to have known better. They have a right to deem it monstrous that there should be any man, calling himself a Radical Reformer, who cannot see how much justice there is in the feelings, how much far-sightedness in the views, which separate them from those who are now attacking them; who cannot perceive, that the portion of the truth which they see, is that which the Whigs, and a number of the moderate Radicals, are losing themselves and their cause by not seeing. We should go much farther than they do, we should invite a Tory Ministry, we should hail its advent with delight, if we were as certain that the other Radicals would make a vigorous use of the opportunities it would give them, as we are that Mr. Roebuck would. But can Mr. Roebuck himself expect it? Alas! it is not, it never has been in our time, opportunities that were wanting to the men, but men to the opportunities.
It is supposed that those who are inert and tame on one side of the House would be impassioned and laborious on the other? For many years there never has been a time when great things might not have been done, if there had been anybody to do them; there never has been a turn in affairs which might not have been improved into some decided advantage for the popular cause, if there had been men in Parliament on the look-out to seize what opportunities it afforded, and to profit by them. The longer we live, and the more we extend our experience of human affairs, the less disposed are we to impute to accident any great thing which ever was accomplished on this earth. Those lucky accidents, to which men appear to owe their success, hardly ever occur but to persons who have cultivated the faculty of availing themselves of accidents; and for every one such man, there are a hundred or a thousand others, who, if they had made as good use of their opportunities and chances as he did of his, would have effected greater things. But there is a truth which the popular party during the last seven years has never ceased proving to us—that for men who have not the qualities which command success, the chapter of accidents can do little. If a man waits for circumstances, instead of making the most of those he has, it is likely he will make no better use of better circumstances; any conceivable amount of good fortune will be thrown away upon him.
We ask those Reformers who, because Ministers are ruining us, would drive the Reform party into opposition, how will that ensure us against being ruined in the same way, and even by the same men? If the Radicals, as a body, act as they have hitherto done, they will let the leadership of the party slip through their fingers in opposition as they did in power, and we shall have as tame an Opposition as we now have a tame Ministry. Some individual Radicals have distinguished themselves in debate, and will do so every year more and more; they have most of the rising men in the House, but they have no men who have as yet shewn themselves capable either of leading and keeping together a party, or (unless Mr. Roebuck or Colonel Thompson be an exception) of speaking to the masses in a language which they can understand and sympathize with. There is, in a few of the Radicals in Parliament, and in a greater number of those out of Parliament, talent and energy which may in time qualify them to play a distinguished part either as a Ministry or as an Opposition. Even now they would make as creditable a figure in office as the present holders, or any other set of men before the public. But the old established parties make up for their want of intrinsic superiority by their capacity of co-operation. We have not yet seen in any individual Radical even the promise of qualities by which he could lead a party single-handed; and without such a man, or the habit of organized concert, they will be feeble, on either side of the House, except as appendages to a party who have served a longer apprenticeship to the art of acting together.
For the popular party must have leaders: no party can hope to direct the public mind unless it has its cabinet ready made; no principles, be they even the truest, can rally a nation round them until they are personified in a set of men, whose cause is their cause, and whose banner presents one undivided object to the public eye; a symbol, representing to each man that in the common cause for the sake of which he loves it, and which he could not prevail upon so many to agree in fighting for, under its own separate standard. One man wishes more especially to reform one thing, one another: as, on the other side, one man is interested in preserving one abuse, another in preserving another; and as these are only able to make head by banding themselves together to bring men into power who though willing to abandon any particular abuse, make it their general effort to preserve abuses, so, on our side, each rests his hope of carrying his favourite reform, upon making sure, in the first instance, that some men who stand upon the general principle of Reform, shall be in a situation where any reform which they support will be supported by the whole body of Reformers: which being attained, all particular reforms become questions to be debated and determined among themselves by Reformers alone. This place may be filled by an Opposition party as well as by a Ministry, but it must be filled somehow: and it is already a sufficient misfortune to want confidence in our leaders, without struggling to put them aside when we cannot as yet succeed in putting ourselves into their place.
With these feelings we address ourselves to the present Ministry. We are willing to accept them as leaders until we can produce others, or until they leave us and join the enemy. We are willing to support them as Ministers, however little they may do to deserve support, if they will but be the enemies of the Tories. If we cannot do without their votes, they cannot do without our principles; they could not stand three days if the people took them at their word—if there were not men beside them and behind them to tell the country that the miserable Municipal Bills and Appropriation Clauses, which they affirm to be all that the people are fighting for, are not all, and that there is within these so diminutive bodies a strong spirit, which, because it will not thus be satisfied, because it will not stop where they say it will, is worth fighting for, although the immediate prize which seems to be contended about is so infinitesimally insignificant. We are willing to continue rendering them this service, which is essential to their existence. What we require of them, and we do not require it as a condition, but as a return, is: That they will consent to be kept in place, by consenting to do the things, without which it is not in human power to keep them there; and that they will fulfil the part which is incumbent upon those who are elected as leaders less from their personal influence than by the result of a compromise: namely, that they shall represent (we do not ask for more) the average opinion of their supporters.
There are many of our objects which, on these principles, we cannot expect them to support. But there is one which can be no longer trifled with. If they can now persist in refusing the Ballot, they are not worth supporting any longer; they will fall, and fall unregretted.
“All parties,” says the pamphlet first on our list, and which is said to be from an official source—
all parties, those for the Ballot, those for extended Suffrage, those for the abolition of Church Rates, those for grand plans of Public Education, those for the Appropriation Clause, those for Municipal Institutions in Ireland, those for yielding to Canada a more democratic form of Government than at present exists there, should one and all enter the new session with this conviction thoroughly impressed upon their minds, that there is not one of these questions, no, not one, which is not secondary to the great object of maintaining Lord Melbourne’s Cabinet as the great agent of future improvement, free from every species of present embarrassment.[*]
The proposition is more confident than modest: but, permit us to ask, is that to be secondary to keeping in Lord Melbourne, which is the only possible means of keeping him in? He has still a majority: but on a most careful calculation of all the changes in the representation, giving each party the benefit of every seat in which it has substituted a sure man for a trimmer, we find the Tories gainers of a balance of seven seats, equivalent to fourteen on a division. The calculations which give Ministers a majority of thirty-seven are palpably absurd. They had not that in the last Parliament, and nobody denies that they have lost by the general election. Considering the certain majority for Ministers at the close of the Session as twenty-six, which was the majority at the last division on the Appropriation Clause, and the last on Church Rates,[†] it has been reduced to twelve: six Reformers turned out on petition would annihilate this; and when we consider the open profligacy of Election Committees, and the inferior means of the Reformers throughout the country either to prosecute their own petitions or to resist those of their opponents, such a result cannot be deemed improbable: nor, in so undecided a state of affairs, can the Ministry expect the accession of many trimmers. If we escape this peril, for how long do we escape it? At every vacancy, except in a few large towns, the Tories will oppose us, and defeat us: they always carried the partial elections, even during the enthusiasm of the Reform Bill; and now their purses and their coercion will on every occasion be strained to the very utmost. The casualties among three hundred and fifty men, a large proportion of them old, must be of frequent occurrence: casualties in the Peerage too, and acceptances of office, must create some vacancies. We have already had all that the Queen’s name could do for us; and those who expected wonders from it have been wofully disappointed. How, then, we implore Ministers to consider, can they hope to remain in office above a year or so at furthest, without something to protect the electors from the foul influences?
If the inducements derived from their own position are so strong, those derived from the opinions of their supporters are no less so. One of the Polignac Ministry, M. Guernon-Ranville, in the hour of sober reflection which preceded their act of madness, said of the French people in reference to the different parties in the chamber, La France est centre gauche. The result of the late elections enables us in like manner to say, England is moderate-Radical. Of the different shades of opinion composing the majority (those who are returned under Tory colours we do not speak of) the Whigs are considerably reduced in strength, and we have lost a few of the more decided Radicals; among whom it will be discreditable to the nation if Mr. Roebuck at least does not immediately find another seat. But the moderate Radicals have even increased in numbers. Several adherents of the Ministry have made a move towards Radicalism, and of the new Liberal members (very numerous in this Parliament), the moderate Radicals form a large proportion. Such persons compose the great majority of the Reform party in the higher and middle classes. They consist chiefly of men who have not till lately been active politicians, or whose opinions have advanced with events. They have hitherto not approved, or not responded to, any attacks on the Ministers; and, in all their movements, they are anxious to carry the Ministers with them. They are decidedly for King, Lords, and Commons. They have generally not yet made up their minds to the necessity of any organic change in the House of Lords. They are not for Universal Suffrage. Many of them are for the Church; not such as the Tories have made it, but yet the Church, such a Church in reality as we already have in pretence; far less radically altered in its constitution than we deem necessary, both for religion and for good government. But these men, so little inclined to extreme opinions, are universally for the Ballot. They are for shortening the duration of Parliaments. They are for abridging the expenses of elections; simplifying the qualification of voters; abolishing the rate-paying clauses. They are for abolishing, or consolidating into districts like those of Wales and Scotland, the small borough constituencies. They are for abrogating the Corn Laws. Friends as many of them are to the principle of a Church Establishment conformable to what they conceive to be the theory of the Church of England, they recognize none of the conditions which render such an institution legitimate in the monstrous anomaly calling itself the Irish Church; a Church forced upon a conquered people by a handful of foreigners, who confiscated their land, and for ages hunted them down like beasts of prey.
We affirm, and if the Ministers do not know it the first few divisions will teach it them, that these are the opinions generally prevailing among the new liberal English members. These men represent the average strength of the Reform spirit; those who go further being in number and weight a full set-off against those who do not go so far. If additional proof be wanted, look to the Liberal newspapers in London and in the country. Those newspapers are adapted, by persons who have full opportunity of observation, to what they deem the prevailing sentiments of the public whom they address. A certain degree of attention to this is essential to the existence of every newspaper, not (like the Examiner and Spectator,) so superior in talent as to force itself into circulation without reference to its opinions. What then are the indications afforded by the Liberal press? Almost universally it supports the Ministers, and with a fulness and vehemence which shews that in doing so it conforms to the general feeling of the Reform party all over the country. But while thus supporting Ministers, and we must say it of some journals, with a slavishness and sycophancy which is neither honourable to them nor useful to those whom it is intended to serve; how many are there, even of the most Ministerial papers, which stop short in the expression of opinion where the Ministers stop, and do not find it necessary to go the length at least of the Ballot, to say nothing of other opinions greatly in advance of the Ministry? Let Ministers remember, that no party ever for long together recognized its hindmost men as its chiefs: the leaders are always either those who precede the rest in making up their minds and pointing out the course to be followed, or those who can at least be counted upon for adopting and giving effect to the opinion of the majority.
The Ballot is necessary to their continuance in power; it is demanded by the almost unanimous opinion of their supporters; and the country is now aware that they themselves have no rooted aversion to it, no objection but such as these considerations ought to remove. We have hitherto regarded Lord John Russell as its chief opponent. We should never think of addressing a man of Lord John Russell’s character with any argument appealing solely to his interest; but from the revelations in his speech at Stroud (which have raised him in the opinion of all reasonable men much more than his previous opposition to the Ballot had lowered him) we now know that his objection was never one of principle. He concurred in proposing the Ballot when there was every objection to it that there can be now, and when facts had not so strikingly corroborated the à priori demonstration of its necessity.[*] Why, then, has he since opposed it? For a reason not necessarily disparaging to him: he thought that a statesman, who has to consider not only his own conviction, but the rules according to which masses of men may most wisely regulate their collective conduct, should give a fair trial to one great change, and allow its full effects to unfold themselves before beginning another. To this we cannot object: but what is to be considered a fair trial? The majority for the Reformers has dwindled from three hundred to twenty-six, and at last to twelve: is it necessary to the sufficiency of the trial, that this last remnant should disappear? Must the patient die before it is right to apply the remedy? Will nothing satisfy you of the necessity of taking arms against the evil, but having those arms wrenched from you?
You have the power; you have it perhaps for the first time; certainly for the last. You have it, if what your adherents say be true—if you hold the option of dissolving the Parliament. With the knowledge that you have that power, together with that of creating Peers, you might perhaps carry the question even in this Parliament. But if it fail, throw yourselves once more upon the electors. It is the only question for which they would again renew their sacrifices. If there is a spark of generosity or humanity in your breasts, it is the only one for which you will henceforth demand them. We are unable to imagine how men with the feelings of human beings can say, year after year, to large masses of their dependent fellow countrymen, “Suffer for us, make yourselves martyrs for us, be beggars, you and your families, for our sake; to keep us in office, be ruined every three or four years, for, though we can carry no measures, we can appoint Bishops and Judges, and you ought to consider that sufficient. But we cannot do such an un-English thing as to protect you—be not you such cowards as to ask it; we cannot give you the Ballot, that is good for us, we require it in our clubs and societies to save us from frowns and harsh looks; you ought to be above such disguises; you ought not to need a screen; you ought to stand unmoved in the midst of ruin, to look tyranny in the face without trembling; wait a little, and perhaps your persecutors will cease to persecute, your landlords will send to implore your pardon, your customers will return to you: at all events we shall be Ministers”—and Ministers at what a cost! Not to sit on all the thrones in Europe would we have at our door all the evil now consequent upon any one general election—would we feel that we had blasted so many fair prospects, flung back so many brave men to the bottom of the hill which they had been climbing for half their lives by patient industry; that honest, upright, religious men, placed in our cause between the preservation of their self-respect, and distress to themselves and their families more dreadful than they could bear, gave way, and have ever since been making atonement in sackcloth and ashes; remorse-stricken, spirit-broken! We know single instances which, if published, as we trust they are destined to be, will fully justify these expressions. He must be insensible equally to shame and to humanity, who would again call on men to pass through this fiery furnace, except for one last struggle, to end in their being free.
In this cause, the personal cause of every elector, except the corrupt few who bring their votes to market, we might hope for an election like that of 1831, when in all the English counties but six Tories could find a seat. Now, too, Ministers might come forward with the best grace, and without even the semblance of inconsistency. For years they have said that they only waited further experience: they have now surely had enough of it. The very accusations against themselves, of undue influence, are an additional inducement: there cannot be a more effectual means of meeting those accusations than to propose the Ballot; and if their accusers be sincere they will have an opportunity of voting for it, as every honest Tory ought, who believes, as they all profess to do, that the country is with them. But if Ministers lose this opportunity, and let office slip from their hands inch by inch, their majority dying of a consumption before their eyes; with what face can they present themselves to the country, and ask the continuance in a defeated cause, of sacrifices which a good use of the hour of success would have rendered unnecessary? “You were in power,” it will be answered—“you could have given us the means of good government, and did not: you had fair warning, and ample time and opportunity. Think you that we will toil and suffer again for men who have shewn themselves so little capable of appreciating or making use of our toils and sufferings? Retire into obscurity; there is no place for you among men who know what they would have, and who, when they will the end, will the means: for you the hindmost rank, if any rank at all; the post of honour is for braver men.”
Thus much on the only question of immediate urgency. A few words now on general policy, and the means of advancing the Reform interest.
We are about to talk to Ministers in the language of expediency only: we assume that it is there they differ from us. We assume that they are sincere Reformers: that whatever is evil, they see to be evil, and would remedy; though, to do so, we, in many cases, should think it necessary to cut deep, where they would only pare the surface. We are safe in assuming, as between us and them, that there are not one or two things to be remedied, but many; and that it is a question only of prudence, whether we shall attempt several together, or endeavour to finish one before we begin another.
A timid policy says, “Encumber yourselves only with one question at a time: endeavour to have to deal in each conjuncture with only one set of enemies: nothing brings you sooner to a halt than going too fast: slow and sure.” We leave it to others to say, that this is a timid policy; we say that it is a dangerous policy. We object to it, not for being too prudent, but for being too imprudent. The fault with which we charge the system of Ministers is rashness. We say that, by dint of wishing to fight their battle with the Tories on the narrowest ground possible, they have fought it on the worst ground possible; and that, to consider them as mere tacticians, they have shown as bad generalship as ever lost a campaign.
They were placed at the head of a nation divided into two parts, which have never been properly fused together; each part accustomed to consider itself distinct from the other, to feel its interests separate, and the affairs of the other to a certain extent foreign affairs, as much so as those of India, or Canada. Of these two sections, it was on the larger and more powerful—on England and Scotland—that their strength ultimately depended: it was on the strength of the interest they could excite there, that they had in the end to rely; and they are fighting all their battles, except one, on Irish questions. Again, they had to make themselves followed by a nation practical even to ridiculousness; which hardly ever attaches itself to a principle, or can see the value of one, further than the direct practical effects of any law, existing or proposed, in which the principle happens to be for the time embodied:—a nation given to distrust and dislike all that there is in principles beyond this, and whose first movement would be to fight against, rather than for, any one who has nothing but a principle to hold out. And Ministers are fighting all their battles, except one, on points on which the net practical result of victory would be zero, and all the value of the contest is in the principle it involves. But, again, this national indifference to principles considered in themselves, has one exception. There is a case, in which, instead of seeing in a principle only the practical result, this nation sees in every practical result only a principle, and goes to an excess one way equal to its excess the other—will not listen to consequences—is afraid to let itself be influenced by any consideration but the principle: this case is that of religion. And Ministers have contrived that in every one of their battles a religious principle should be capable of being appealed to against them; while, in several, they have but a principle of temporal interest, barren of temporal results, to oppose to a (mistaken) religious principle. They had nothing but a principle to offer, and they so contrived that the only principle which is potent merely as a principle, should appear to be against them.
Do we blame them, then, that they brought forward these questions? Do we advise them to a more ignoble truckling than they have ever yet been accused of? Far from it. They were bound by every honest motive to propose everything that they have proposed. What we assert is, that the proposing of these things should have been regarded by them as a matter of duty: the strength, which was to enable them to perform that duty, they should have looked for elsewhere. With such powerful antagonists, and nothing but the people’s feelings for their support, it will not do to render the strongest feelings the people have, indifferent or hostile. A man with the talents of a great Reformer, knows how to make friends by one good deed and use them for another. The way to carry, without hindrance from the practical or from the religious feeling, the measures which you have proposed, is to flank those measures with other measures which will put those feelings on your side.
For instance, the measures now in dispute, all but the Municipal Bill,[*] and even that indirectly, relate to the temporalities of the clergy: those temporalities are not religion, but are capable of being confounded with it. The cry is raised, “Danger to the Church! Enemies to the Church! Papist and Infidel Alliance! Robbery of the Church! Religious Instruction denied to the Poor!” What is the mode of meeting this cry? By boldly throwing themselves upon the religious feeling itself. Let them propose, on high religious grounds, a radical Church Reform. Let it be such as to destroy the Church for ever as the patrimony of the aristocracy, as a family provision for the stupidest son; and to appropriate its funds to training and paying real religious teachers, such men as raised the Scotch people from savages to their present civilization. How such a measure would winnow the chaff from the corn of their opponents! How it would declare who of those who cry out “Danger to the Church” are the religious men, and who are the Pharisees and sinners! How it would show who are the real robbers of the Church; who are they that deny religious instruction to the poor! A cry of “Church in Danger” from the bishops and rectors, against a measure supported by the curates, would be well received, would it not? How would those tremble who are now canting about the “two millions of destitute souls,” if their religion could be brought to the test in a moment by the question—“Are you for the Church Reform Bill?” It would scatter them, as the profligate adventurers who tried to catch stray votes in popular constituencies by philo-pauperism and the cry of “No new Poor Law,” were scattered when they were asked on the hustings, what they thought of the Corn Laws!
How, too, such a policy would annihilate the obstacles (the number of petitions in favour of Church-rates shows them to be far from inconsiderable) which the feeling for the Church now raises against measures intended to relieve the Church from the odium of being unjust to the Dissenters. Such measures, when they stand alone—when they are not part of a more enlarged scheme to make the state of the Church more satisfactory to sincere Churchmen—are liable (especially when proposed by a ministry whom the Catholics and the Dissenters support) to the imputation of being mere concessions to the Catholics and the Dissenters. A measure is not dangerous to the Church because those parties approve of it; but it is very naturally presumed that those parties would still approve of it, although it were dangerous to the Church. The effect of their support is, on the whole, to alienate the more ignorant class of Churchmen. Give a pledge, then, to all sincere Churchmen, that you are ready and anxious to strengthen everything in the Church which conduces to its professed ends—everything for the sake of which they value it; and give the Dissenters and the Catholics an opportunity of showing that they are ready to do the same.
The effect, in regard to the objects now contended about, would be, in accordance with the admirably conceived maxim of Mr. Henry Taylor (author of the Statesman), to “merge particular objections which are unanswerable in general ones which may be met.”[*] They should drop their Appropriation Clause, appropriative of a surplus in nubibus; not foolish when first proposed—foolish to be now persevered in. Instead of it, let them tack to their Tithe Bill[†] a measure for reforming the Irish Church, and reducing it to the modest dimensions of a national endowment suitable to a small minority. As for the surplus, let it vest in Commissioners and accumulate; we will engage to find a use for it when the time comes. What the Irish people want is not to save the few hundred thousands a year expended on the enormity, but to abate the nuisance and insult of the thing itself. Similarly would a Church Reform smooth all difficulties respecting Church rates. Let no portion of the endowments go to anything whatever but providing efficient religious teachers for the people, at the smallest expense that would be adequate; and let such teachers be provided for all who are willing to be taught by them. This done, the difficulty is reduced to a question of arithmetic: the funds being so much, the charges so much, is there a residue sufficient to build the necessary number of churches, and keep them in repair? We suspect very much the sincerity of any man who professes to doubt it. But if the fact turn out otherwise, then make up the deficiency from the Consolidated fund; granting from the same fund a duly proportionate amount to every Dissenting body which can appoint an appropriate organ for administering it.
It is thus that a Reform Ministry makes itself strong; not by splitting down the point in contention to a hair, and for fear of one enemy losing two friends; the enemies being enemies still—for, they are either interested, and then they know that whatever wears Reform colours is dangerous to them, and are all the more eager to slay the lion while he is afraid to bite; or they are sincere, and if so, they are your enemies because your designs are misunderstood, and the way to prevent them from being misunderstood is to show more of them. We do not say, propose measures for which the nation is not ripe; far from that; what the nation is not ripe for, is to a ministry, quâ ministry, as if it did not exist. The business of a Reform Ministry in its legislatorial capacity, is to seize the first moment when the public mind is ripe for a good measure, and propose it; and the more such measures they propose at once, the more they will carry; for, in the first place, the enthusiasm will be greater; and, in the next, one measure will explain the motives and correct the misrepresentations of another.
The same advice which we give to the Ministers, we give, mutatis mutandis, to the more advanced and more enlightened section of the Radicals. To them, as to the others, we offer one rule, which, being fully acted upon, includes all they stand in need of—“Attempt much.” If they attempt much, chusing, as they are likely to do, the right objects, failures are of no consequence. If you attempt little, and fail in that little, you are ruined. In politics, as in war, every one makes mistakes, and the only persons who succeed are those who, by the number and character of their enterprises, establish a system of insurance against their own blunders, and draw upon the surplus popularity accumulated by successes, to indemnify them for failures. But our friends in the House of Commons are in need of a stock in hand, sufficient to cover their losses by honesty as well as their losses by unskilfulness: they are troubled with a conscience, and it requires a constant outlay of popularity to keep it up. If a conscience altogether has been described as an expensive article, a conscience like theirs—a purely negative conscience, which never bids them do anything, but only not do—is the most expensive of all; for, while it is making continual drafts upon their popularity, it never brings anything in.
Whatever inconveniences are necessarily attendant on honesty, a politician who lays claim to the character must submit to. He is bound to resist those who would be his most ardent supporters, when what they demand is unjust, or founded in ignorance. But he is not bound to neglect any honest means by which he may retain the confidence of his supporters even while he opposes their wishes: he is not doing his duty if his best friends are only made aware of his existence when something which they, or a portion of them, are eager for, requires to be opposed. The Radicals in Parliament are committing the same blunder as the Whigs: they are not performing those of their duties, the performance of which would make the others easy. They are wanting to the first obligation as well as the strongest interest of persons in their position—they are not putting themselves at the head of the working classes. A Radical party which does not rest upon the masses, is no better than a nonentity.
It used to be said in behalf of Whigs and Tories, by people who wished to stand well with both, that the former supported the principle of liberty in the constitution, and the latter that of authority, not that they did not equally agree in reverencing both principles, but that each party took under its more peculiar protection that one of the two elements which it conceived to be more especially in need of support. On this principle the Radicals may claim to themselves, as their peculiar office, a function in politics which stands more in need of them than any other: this is, the protection of the poor. This devolves upon the Radicals as their especial duty. No other political duty is so important. It is, God wot, left to them to perform. Let them show that the protection of the poor from the poor is not the only part of this duty which they are competent to. To serve the people is not the same thing as to please the people; but those who neglect the services which please, will find themselves disqualified from rendering those which displease. Do we find that the working classes—that large body of them who take interest in politics—look to the Parliamentary Radicals for any good; regard them with one spark of hope or confidence? Is there one Radical of mark in Parliament, or recently in it, except Mr. Roebuck, and in mere justice it must be added Colonel Thompson, who even aims at inspiring such confidence? No: they leave it to the patrons and champions of the corrupt freemen to claim the title of “tribunes of the poor.” Hence it is that the poor do not love them, do not rally round them. They must be tribunes of the poor, and to some purpose too, if they mean to be anything. Those who will not flatter the people must make it doubly obvious that they are willing to serve them. It behoves them to earn two blessings for every single malediction. If it be their duty, as it is liable to be every man’s duty, to oppose themselves upon occasion to the sentiments of large bodies of their countrymen, let them endeavour to have still larger bodies helping them, and sympathizing with them, and urging them on. They are willing to make bitter enemies; we implore them not to forget that they have need of warm friends.
On the other hand, let the working classes learn to know the Parliamentary Radicals, and to do them justice. They are the only party in politics who have, to any great degree, common objects with the working classes. They are the only party who are not overflowing with groundless dread, and jealousy, and suspicion of them. They are the only party who do not in their hearts condemn the whole of their operative fellow-citizens to perpetual helotage, to a state of exclusion from all direct influence on national affairs. The Radical party have other feelings. They look forward to a time, most of them think it is not yet come, when the whole adult population shall be qualified to give an equal voice in the election of members of Parliament. Others believe this and tremble; they believe it, and rejoice; and instead of wishing to retard, they anxiously desire, by national education and the action of the press, to advance this period, to hasten this progress. In the mean time, they are to a man determined enemies of every robbery, every unjust exclusion, every uncalled-for restraint which the people suffer. We know not a man among them who does not detest the Corn Laws. We know not one to whom high wages, and a condition of the labouring classes similar to that in the United States, is not the one thing needful, the polar star to direct all those of their exertions which have reference to the economical condition of the country. They demand, and they are the only party who demand, that all national property shall be applied to national purposes, and that the Church Establishment shall either cease to exist, or become what the Scottish Church was—the People’s Church. They are the only party who will never be satisfied without cheap justice, justice brought home to every man’s door, justice without cost to him, and giving him a prompt remedy for every wrong. They detest the insolent interferences with the ways, the pleasures, the amusements of the people. They wish to emancipate the poor from the impertinent meddling of men who do not know them and do not sympathize with them. With them, gentlemen and noblemen only count as so many men, except so far as they make themselves useful to others than themselves. Their principle of government is, until Universal Suffrage shall be possible, to do everything for the good of the working classes, which it would be necessary to do if there were Universal Suffrage.
These are the principles of the Radical party in Parliament, and no one who watches their conduct will fail to see it. Their fault is not want of attachment to the principles, but want of doing enough for them. It is time they bethought themselves that they are not there to bear witness passively for the truth, but to act for it; that they are not there to do something for their cause, but to do the most that can be done. If they do not the duties of leaders, the Radicals will find others who will, and whom they must be content to follow. The time is not now when feelings which are burning in the hearts of millions, will want tongues for utterance in high places. And there is a vitality in the principles, there is that in them both of absolute truth and of adaptation to the particular wants of the time, which will not suffer that in Parliament two or three shall be gathered together in their name,[*] proclaiming the purpose to stand or fall by them, and to go to what lengths soever they may lead, and that those two or three shall not soon wield a force before which ministries and aristocracies shall quail. We pity the men to whom there is given such a golden harvest, and who leave it to be reaped by others. The men are honest; what, if done, they would be the first to applaud, let them have the spirit to do.
While, however, they ought to rest upon the operative, and generally upon the productive classes, as their main stay, and as those whose just claims and legitimate interests it is especially theirs to defend, let them study not less to make manifest to the people of property the truth, for a truth it is, that even their interests, so far as conformable and not contrary to the ends for which society and government exist, are safer in the keeping of the Radicals than anywhere else. We know how strange this assertion will be likely to appear to a majority of the people of property, but we doubt if their present leaders, the profligate part of the Tory faction, will think it so: for we find them, fond as they are of representing the Radicals as enemies of property, to be at bottom so well convinced of their inviolable attachment to it, that they are at times well content to leave to them alone the burthen of defending it. We need not go farther for an instance than the late elections, and the conduct of the Tories in relation to the new Poor Law.
An immense majority of all parties in Parliament concurred in passing the new Poor Law, and so far the position of all was alike. At the late election all were under an equal temptation to bid high for the few votes which, if added to either side, would have given it a decided majority. But to the Radicals the difficulty was greater of withstanding the cry, because it proceeded from their own supporters; and the infamy of yielding to it would have been less, because the protection of the poor is their peculiar office. It would have been comparatively excusable in them, had they carried that principle to excess. It would but have been an over-zealous performance of their proper duty. It was not the Radicals, however, who, in almost every constituency where anything was to be gained by it, abandoned their principles for the sake of their party objects, and appeared as the enemies of the Poor Law. Every man of the Radicals remained faithful. Those who had always opposed the measure still opposed it, but of the others we are not aware of one who flinched. It was the Radicals who had to fight the battle of the people of property at a hundred hustings, against candidates put up by the party of the people of property, as a last chance of tricking a few pauper electors into voting for the supporters of low wages and dear bread.
We may be told that this was only the scum of the party; and people may talk to us of the Duke of Wellington, and his declaration on the Poor Law just before the dissolution of Parliament.[†] To the Duke of Wellington, and to that over-praised declaration, we are willing, we hope, to render as much honour as is due. We will thank him for it, when we find that we have derived any good from it. We did not want his assurances that the Tories do not mean to abrogate the law; we never imagined they did. It is no more the interest of the Tories to abrogate the new Poor Law than to confiscate the land, which the continuance of the old law for a generation longer would have done. What would have been really meritorious and honourable in the Duke of Wellington, would have been to have dissuaded his party, and his own son, from rolling themselves in the dirt from which his own hands were kept so studiously clean. As it was, his prudery was necessary to their prostitution. The electioneering cry of “No new Poor Law” was for the wretched electors whom it duped. The counter-declaration of the Duke of Wellington was for the people of property throughout the country, that they might not fancy that the electioneering cry meant anything, or that the leaders of the party would keep the promises their tools were allowed to make. It would have been fatal to the Tories at the late election if their anti-Poor-Law professions had been generally credited. The Duke may have meant honestly; but he by his honesty, and other men by their knavery, have played marvellously into each other’s hands.
It is for the people of property, the quiet rich people throughout the country who are unconnected with office and with the seekers of office, and who adopt and value only the fair side of Tory principles, to declare whether this is the policy which is fitted to succeed with them; whether these are arts which they are inclined to encourage, and whether they will permit the authors of them to arrogate to themselves the name of Conservatives. We tell them that the Radicals are the only true Conservatives; the only persons who disdain to tamper with doctrines subversive of society—who make a stand for the fundamental principles of the social union whenever and wherever they see them endangered, even by those who are the enemies of their enemies, even by persons whom a different conduct would enlist among their most active adherents.
Consider, for instance, this matter of the Poor Law. The Tories have been in the habit of saying that the quarrel of Radicalism with Toryism is that of the house of Want against the house of Have; to which Colonel Thompson once very happily answered, that it is the house of Have against the house of Take.[*] But what was said of Radicalism as mere vulgar abuse, is true of the opposition to the new Poor Law. That is really the house of Want against the house of Have. On one side are all who have, including all who have laboured for what they have; on the other, are those who want, and who desire to satisfy their want by taking from those who have, without equivalent. On the one side is the principle of protection to property, protection to the produce of industry in the hands of the industrious; on the other side are the Have-nothings, who seek, not liberty to earn, not power to sell their labour in the dearest market and buy food in the cheapest; but to be maintained by the people of property, to eat unearned bread at their expense. We do not mean that this is the light in which the question appears to all the enemies of the Poor Law; we know the contrary: but it is its true character, and if any one is in a mistake about the matter, it is not the Tories. The agitators against that law are attempting what the Radicals are vulgarly accused of aiming at; they are attacking the security of property, encouraging the indigent to prey upon the rest of society. They are proposing the very worst sort of agrarian law. And this is what the party supported by the landed aristocracy, and standing up for all the noxious privileges of the wealthy, are willing for personal gain to promise to support. Why did they dare do this? Why did they not recoil from the advocacy of that which no one would more dread to see carried? Because they knew that they could trust to the conservative principles of the Radicals: they knew that if they chose to abandon the first foundations of society and civilization, the Radicals would not, but would allow their enemies to gain whatever was to be gained by the fraud, and step in to save them from the fatal consequences.
It is not in this instance alone that the Radicals have had to defend really conservative principles against the pretended Conservatives. Who have stood up for the fund-holder? Who have placed themselves between him and the confiscation which was meditated against him by the agricultural party, by the authors of the Corn Laws, in common with Mr. Cobbett? Was it the Tories? The Quarterly Review, the organ of the Tory party, a year or two before the Reform Bill, distinctly and avowedly advocated what was called the “equitable adjustment.”[*] Was it a Radical who wrote a pamphlet to prove that 33 per cent should be struck off from the National Debt, and from all the private debts of the landed interest? It was Sir James Graham.[†] Was it a Radical who pronounced in the House of Lords the famous Nemo tenetur ad impossible? It was the aristocratic Whig, Earl Grey.[‡] But it was a Radical, the late Mr. Mill, who, with all his vehemence of character and force of reason, protested against the doctrines of them both, in the Westminster and Parliamentary Reviews.[§] It was a Radical, Colonel Thompson, who, in his Catechism on the Corn Laws, argued the cause of the fundholder in the fewest and most pregnant words in which we ever saw it put.[¶] When the right of property had ever to be vindicated in the person of the public creditor, it was to the Examiner, or Tait’s Magazine, or the Westminster Review, that the task was abandoned.
Property has scarcely ever, in any country, been in danger from the poor. Those who have always lived by industry respect the produce of industry, and have never yet been disposed to tear it away. In the very height of the French Revolution no private property was touched, except that of men who were in arms against their country; the Convention, during the Reign of Terror, rejected all propositions of an anti-property character, and such doctrines never appear practically in the history of the Revolution, but in the persons of Babœuf and his fellow-conspirators.[*] What the Radicals want, is protection to the property of the poor against the worst class of poor, the needy rich. Those, in whatever rank or party they are found, are the real enemies of property, the real Destructives. They are willing enough to invoke the sacredness of property in favour of what is not property,—the abuses by which they themselves profit. They are willing enough to give the name of enemies of property to the enemies of those abuses. But when property is really in danger, it is on those enemies that it leans for support, and its pretended friends, for the slightest personal gain, are ready to throw it overboard.
As for the organic changes which the Radicals are supposed to meditate, and which haunt the imaginations of rich and timid people with nameless fears, we have already* had occasion to say on that subject what we now repeat: It is utterly false that the Radicals desire organic changes as ends; they desire them as means to other ends, and will be satisfied to renounce them if those ends can be obtained otherwise. To stickle for words and forms instead of substances, is in no case the practice of the English Radicals. But a government of which the moving principle shall be the general interest, a government which shall be just to the working classes, we will not consent to be without; and whatever insists upon standing between us and that, let it call itself Church, or House of Lords, or by what other name soever, we will by God’s help sweep from our path. There is a sufficient number of determined men in these islands, bent upon this, and resolute in the pursuit of it, to render these no idle words. It will not be the work of a year, or, possibly, of many years; but those are now alive who will see it done. Let it be the care of those who ought to be our leaders in this great enterprise, that they be not wanting to it.
Let them learn confidence in their own strength. The power of the Radical Reformers in this country is immense. The Tories have been fond of repeating, as if it were something wonderfully complimentary to them, a saying of Lord Brougham in the Edinburgh Review, that a great majority of the persons with more than five hundred a year are for the established order of things;[†] as if the same might not be said of every established order of things whatever,—as if those who are best off were ever the most disposed to change, or as if the rich were likely to be dissatisfied with the privileges of riches. But if Radicalism has not the men with the five hundreds a year, it has those with the fifties, who are in a way to become the more influential body of the two. It has the middle classes of the towns, and as many of those of the country as take any interest in politics. The middle classes have twenty times the aggregate amount of property of the higher classes. As for the men of thews and sinews,[*] the labouring multitude, it will not, we imagine, be disputed that they are Radicals. Among the young men of practical talent (the old will soon be off the stage) the Radicals are the growing power. Among those of speculative ability, a considerable number are theoretically Tories; for it is easy to a person of imagination to frame (like Mr. Coleridge) a theory of Toryism, finding a good use for everything that the Tories put to a bad one, and to dream pleasantly enough of a Church and an Aristocracy such as might be had in Utopia, but which the partisans of the Church and the Aristocracy as they now are would be the last to stir a finger for. Men of practical sagacity, who look abroad into the world, and judge of men and institutions as they find them there, and not as they read of them in books, are hardly ever Tories but from interested motives. Those who are looking forward to being counted among the aristocracy are Tories. The bar is Tory, because every young barrister intends to die a wealthy man and a peer. The Church is Tory, for reasons unnecessary to specify. Many who are not Tories are sceptical as to the importance of forms of government, and, in preference to changing them, endeavour to work those which exist to the best ends they can be turned to. But among the working part even of the aristocracy, the younger sons, and among that part of the legal profession who are rising but have not yet risen, not a few, and those generally the ablest and most efficient, are Radicals. They are showing it in every field of fair and open competition; and will show it more and more. Take, for example, the most important commissions appointed by the present Government,—the Corporation Commission, selected indiscriminately from Whigs and Radicals, or the two Commissions of Poor Law Inquiry for Ireland and England, from Whigs, Radicals, and Tories.[†] See how large a proportion of those who were thought worthy to be selected, and how decided a majority of those who justified their appointment by making any figure in it, were decided Radicals. If this be true even in the classes from which the aristrocracy is recruited, what must it be in others? There is a class, now greatly multiplying in this country, and generally overlooked by politicians in their calculations; those men of talent and instruction, who are just below the rank in society which would of itself entitle them to associate with gentlemen. Persons of this class have the activity and energy which the higher classes in our state of civilization and education almost universally want. They have hitherto exerted that activity in other spheres. It is but of yesterday that they have begun to read and to think. They have now many of the advantages for mental cultivation which were so long confined to the higher classes, and they are using them. There are more hard students, more vigorous seekers of knowledge, in this class than there are at present in any other, and out of all proportion more who study the art of turning their knowledge to practical ends. They are, as it is natural they should be, Radicals to a man, and Radicals generally of a deep shade. They are the natural enemies of an order of things in which they are not in their proper place. We could name several men of this class, of whom it is as certain as any prediction in human affairs can be, that they will emerge into light, and make a figure in the world. We could name a still greater number who want only some slight turn in outward circumstances, to enable them to do the same. Many of these will abandon Radicalism as they rise in the world; but many will not; and for those who do there will be successors still pressing forward. It is among them that men fit to head a Radical party will be found, if they cannot be found among the Radicals of the higher classes. These are the men who will know how to speak to the people. They are above them in knowledge, in calmness, and in freedom from prejudice, and not so far above them in rank as to be incapable of understanding them and of being understood by them.
These elements of almost boundless power are ill marshalled and directed, we know. But they will not always be so; nor can any defect of organization prevent our strength from showing itself. We are felt to be the growing power; that which even the ambitious, who can afford to wait for their gratification, would do wisely to ally themselves with. Not one inch of ground, once gained, do we ever lose; and we carry every point we attack. We are foiled and driven back nine times; the tenth we succeed. What we accomplish is but a trifle, indeed, to what might be accomplished: let it be our study to accomplish more.
To our leaders, two things are especially to be recommended: activity, above all; and activity directed to the practical points. We have already exhorted them to apply themselves to those topics which speak strongest to popular feeling, which come home to men’s lives and pursuits, to interests already felt. Let them also seize the occasions which will strengthen, and make manifest, their own capacity for practice and business. Let them not allow it to be thought that they can make speeches on a few great questions, and that this is all. Let them take the part their acquirements entitle them to in all the general business of the House. Let them show that they are not men of one subject, or of two or three subjects, but men equal to all the questions, versed in all the interests, which a Ministry and a Parliament have to decide upon. What gives Sir Robert Peel his personal influence? What makes so many adhere to him? The opinion, a greatly exaggerated one, entertained of his capacity for business. In moments of general enthusiam it is enough that a party carries the favourite banner; but in the intervals between those moments, its importance depends upon the confidence inspired by its personnel: in such times as we ought always to be prepared for, times of momentary misgiving respecting the truth or applicability of principles, the prize rests with that party which can present the nation with the ablest practical man. If Radicalism had its Sir Robert Peel, he would be at the head of an administration within two years; and Radicalism must be a barren soil if it cannot rival so sorry a growth as that; if it cannot produce a match for perhaps the least gifted man that ever headed a powerful party in this country. Without one idea beyond common-place, Sir Robert Peel owes his success to his having been cast upon times which not only have not produced a statesman of the first rank, a William the Silent, a Gustavus Adolphus, a Jefferson, a Turgot; but not one even of the second-rate men who fill up the long interval between Richelieu and William Pitt; and not so much as a single third-rate man, except himself. He does not know his age; he has always blundered miserably in his estimate of it. But he knows the House of Commons, and the sort of men of whom it is composed. He knows what will act upon their minds, and is able to strike the right chord upon that instrument. He has, besides, all that the mere routine of office-experience can give, to a man who brought to it no principles drawn from a higher philosophy, and no desire for any. These qualifications are Sir Robert Peel’s stock in trade as a practical statesman. Is it not a dire disgrace to the Radical leaders to be left behind by such a man? But then, he is always using his slender faculties; they, except a few young and still inexperienced men, let theirs slumber.
This is for the leaders. To the people, at the present moment, we have but one exhortation to give: let them hold themselves in readiness. No one knows what times may be coming: no one knows how soon, or in what cause his most strenuous exertions may be required. Ireland is already organized. Let England and Scotland be prepared at the first summons to start into Political Unions. Let the House of Commons be inundated with petitions on every subject on which Reformers are able to agree. Let Reformers meet, combine, and above all, register. The time may be close at hand, when the man who has lost a vote, which he might have given for the Ballot or for some other question of the first magnitude, will have cause bitterly to repent the negligence and supineness which has deprived him of his part in the struggle. All else may be left till the hour of need, but to secure a vote is a duty for which there is no postponement. This let the Reformers do; and let them then stand at their arms and wait their opportunity.
[[*] ]A character evidently invented by Sydney Smith in a speech at Taunton, reported in the Taunton Courier, 12 Oct., 1831, p. 3; see The Works of the Rev. Sydney Smith, 4 vols. (London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1840), Vol. IV, pp. 392-3.
[[*] ]Thompson, Letters, p. 1.
[[*] ]Anon., Domestic Prospects, p. 41.
[[†] ]See PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 34, cols. 1259-64 (4 July, 1836), and ibid., Vol. 37, cols. 549-54 (15 Mar., 1837). There was no division on the Appropriation Clause in 1837, so Mill must have had the division of 1836 in mind, when the majority was twenty-six. On the Church Rates, the majority is given as twenty-three, not twenty-six.
[[*] ]Russell, Corrected Report of the Speech (28 July, 1837), pp. 10-11.
[[*] ]“A Bill for the Regulation of Municipal Corporations and Borough Towns in Ireland,” 7 William IV (8 Feb., 1837), PP, 1837, II, 333-418.
[[*] ]Henry Taylor, The Statesman (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1836), p. 159.
[[†] ]“A Bill to Abolish Compositions for Tithes in Ireland, and to Substitute Rent-Charges in Lieu Thereof,” 1 Victoria (13 June, 1838), PP, 1837-38, VI, 443-66.
[[*] ]Cf. Matthew, 18:20.
[[†] ]Arthur Wellesley, Speech on the Poor-Law Amendment Act (7 Apr., 1837), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 37, cols. 851-2.
[[*] ]Thomas Perronet Thompson, “Parliamentary Reform,” Westminster Review, XIV (Apr., 1831), 450.
[[*] ]See Edward Edwards, “Currency,” Quarterly Review, XXXIX (Apr., 1829), 456-62. For the phrase “equitable adjustment” see pp. 361-2 above.
[[†] ]Graham, Corn and Currency (1826).
[[‡] ]Charles Grey, Speech on the Corn Laws (1 May, 1826), PD, n.s., Vol. 15, cols. 754-8.
[[§] ]James Mill, “State of the Nation,” Westminster Review, VI (Oct., 1826), 249-78; and “Summary Review of the Conduct and Measures of the Imperial Parliament,” PR, 1826, pp. 793-7.
[[¶] ]Thomas Perronet Thompson, A Catechism on the Corn Laws (1827), 17th ed. (London: Westminster Review, 1833), pp. 40-1.
[[*] ]Among François Noël Babeuf’s fellow-conspirators in the Société des Egaux were Jean Baptiste Amar, Philippe Buonarroti, Augustin Alexandre Darthé, Jean Baptiste Drouet, Robert Lindet, and Marc Guillaume Vadier.
[* ][John Stuart Mill,] Review of Sir John Walsh’s Chapters of Contemporary History, in the London and Westminster Review [III & XXV] for July, 1836 [, 299]. [P. 348 above.]
[[†] ]Henry Brougham, “Last Session of Parliament—House of Lords,” Edinburgh Review, LXII (Oct., 1835), 201.
[[*] ]The phrase “thews and sinews” appears to have originated with Walter Scott; see Rob Roy, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Constable, 1818), Vol. I, p. 60 (iii).
[[†] ]For the report of the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations, see PP, 1835, XXIII-XXVI; for the reports of the Commissioners on the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland, see ibid., 1835, XXXII; 1836, XXX; 1837, XXXI, 587-94; and for England, see the reports of the Select Committee on the Poor Law Amendment Act, ibid., 1837, XVII.