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would be impossible to describe. The course adopted by the Prime Minister, only a few hours before the introduction of Mr Hutt's motion, is thus described in a letter to the “Times," signed M. P., and doubtless written by one of the coerced members. “Lord John Russell,” he says, “convened his friends and the supporters of his Government, and announced to them, in terms which were neither apt nor gracious, that they must consent to drag him through the difficulty of the African squadron, or he would throw up his office, and leave the country to its fate. It is probably,” adds the indignant writer, “ many years since a set of Parliament men have thronged out of the minister's antechamber in a state of higher dudgeon, and more intense and undisguised disgust. Few of them seem to have been at the pains to conceal their resentment and indignation at the treatment to which they suddenly found themselves exposed. They were told in so many words, that they must make up their minds to vote against the clear and strong convictions of their consciences and their judgments, or they must connive at a felonious suicide on the part of the Government, which would expose the country to all the perils of anarchy and confusion. No minister ever before put before his followers so monstrous an alternative, or tossed them so pitilessly on the horns of such a dilemma.” It is unnecessary here to enter into either of the questions, whether it is desirable for us to enforce our views of morality upon foreign states, or whether it is desirable to adopt an armed force for that purpose, rather than to resort to diplomatic communications. One thing, however, is most evident, that the course which the Government have adopted, in this instance, is utterly destructive of the independence of representatives. The subject should have been left to the unbiassed opinion of the House of Commons. It is essentially an open question, and the course adopted by the Government may be fully regarded as an instance of ministerial tyranny, which ought to have been resisted as such, and altogether independently of the question at issue. A change in the Government is of itself an evil, and the same, perhaps, may be said of too frequent elections; but the sacrifice of the independence and the conscience of the representatives of the people, is a greater evil than the two combined.
Unquestionably, one of the most important measures of the session is the Australian Colonies Bill. The rapidly increasing population of those remote dependencies, and the equally rapid development of their resources, combined with the prospect of their distance from this country being virtually diminished by the employment of steam navigation, invest the Australian Colonies with great interest, and make it important that their connection with Great Britain should be cemented by a libe ral policy on the part of the Imperial Legislature. With this view, a measure has been passed, conferring upon them the rudiments of a system of self-government. This initiative measure, is intended to apply to three of the five Australian settlements; it provides for them a legislative chamber for the regulation of their domestic interests two-thirds of which are to be the representatives of the colonists, and the remaining third, nominees of the crown. A vigorous effort was made in both houses to substitute two chambers for one; by some upon the foolish pretext, as it appears to us, of exactly assimilating the constitution of these colonies to our own; by others, with much more plausibility, for the purpose of constituting in the second chamber a kind of court of review, which might operate as a check upon hasty and intemperate legislation. In opposition to these proposals, the original measure was carried in both houses, though in the House of Lords by a majority of only two votes. We trust that this event is ominous of a new system of colonial policy-one that shall be alike just and generous; which shall allow the colonists to be the best judges of their own interests, whether political, ecclesiastical, or social, and which, while it relieves the colonies from restriction and interference, and, in the words of Mr Burke,“ suffers a generous nature to take its own way to perfection,” shall also relieve a colonial secretary, in his sham panopticon at Downing Street, from the necessity of committing myriads of blunders, and scattering the seeds of disaffection and animosity over the remotest regions of the globe.
From the most valuable measure of the session, we next come to the most objectionable;—for this designation, we believe, justly belongs to the Metropolitan Interments Bill. The system of extra-mural interment, we need hardly say, we heartily approve, and, had this measure been confined to that object, we should have hailed it with great satisfaction; but a variety of clauses have been smuggled into the bill in the most sinister and underhand manner, and insisted upon by the Government as essential features of the measure. By one of its clauses, a Government board—the Board of Health—is invested not only with powers to fix upon and purchase sites for public cemeteries, but with an absolute monopoly of all the trade now carried on by undertakers. By another clause, a compensation, framed on an average of the last three years' burial fees, is awarded, not only to the present incumbents of metropolitan parishes, but (if it is not too outrageous to be believed) to their successors for ever, as a payment for duties which they will never be called upon to perform! while, into another clause, we find slyly imported a scheme for a fund to provide for perpetual Church Extension! With these enormous blots upon the face of it, the measure actually passed that house, which, by an amusing fiction, is said to represent the people of Great Britain.
Indeed, the British Parliament never shows itself to greater disadvantage, than when legislating on ecclesiastical and religious subjects. Three of the measures which have been agitated during the past session are of this character:- The first is Mr Stuart Wortley's Bill for legalising marriage with the sister of a deceased wife. The opposition made to this measure, chiefly by what is called the High Church Party, has been strenuous and persevering to the last degree. On the one side, the measure was supported on the ground that the existing restriction was harsh and unnecessary—that such unions are natural in themselves, and more adapted than any others to secure the happiness of children who have suffered the irreparable loss of a mother; and from the numerous instances in which, especially among the poorer classes, the present law is evaded by an illicit connection. On the other hand, the bill is opposed chiefly on the ground of the false position in which the proposed bill would place a wife's sister during the life of the former; while the Levitical law is appealed to (rather unnecessarily, we venture to think), alike by both parties. The bill has passed the House of Commons, but great doubts are entertained of its ultimate success.
The other two measures of this description to which we refer are, the Sunday Postage Resolution and the Sunday Trading Bill. As the latter of these was lost in the House of Commons, it will only be necessary to allude to the former. It was introduced under the auspices of the estimable Lord Ashley, and supported chiefly by the High Church and the Anglo-Catholic members of the Lower House, and generally opposed by the Ministry. Its object, as is well known, was to put a stop to the delivery of letters on Sunday throughout the country. The resolution for an address to her Majesty, to this effect, was dexterously pressed to a division at the dinner hour, when the house, as usual, was but thinly attended, and was carried by a small majority, doubtless, as much to the surprise of its promoters as of its opponents. No sooner, however, did it come into operation, than the inconvenience it occasioned was found to be so great, and the complaints, especially from the more remote and retired parts of the country, so numerous, that a Committee of the House of Commons has been appointed to revise the general postal arrangements with reference to the Lord's-day, and it is generally supposed that the present arrangement will be abandoned as impracticable.
Among the many conflicts for victory in which the Ministry have engaged during the past session, they have had one for existence. This was brought about by the intemperate foreign policy of Lord Palmerston, who suddenly surprised Europe by the apparition of a powerful fleet of ships of war off the Piraeus, under Admiral Parker, whose instructions were to enforce some trifling pecuniary claims against the Government of Greece. By this impetuous measure, and by the diplomatic course to which it led, such offence was given to the French and Russian Governments, who were associated with Great Britain for the protection of Greece, that the ambassador of the former court was abruptly recalled from London, and a note presented from the Emperor of Russia, the tone of which was anything but pacific. A motion, condemnatory of the Whig policy, was made by Lord Stanley in the House of Peers, and carried by a majority of 37. Upon this, Mr Roebuck made a motion in the House of Commons, committing that house to an approval of that policy. The contest upon this motion continued for four nights with undiminished intensity; and, at 4 o'clock on the fourth morning, the motion was carried by the small majority of 46—264 members having recorded their votes against it. The defence of Lord Palmerston was a masterpiece of Parliamentary oratory. It lasted for nearly five hours, and was so sustained throughout that one of his opponents, Mr Gladstone, observed that “ he had spoken from the dusk of one day till the dawn of the next, and had held the house in breathless, and even charmed, attention from first to last.” Great, however, as it was as an oration, it must be regarded, in our opinion, as an utterly unsatisfactory defence.
Allusion was made in the speech from the throne to the state of the Irish constituencies, which had dwindled to such an insignificant numerical amount, as to constitute the representative system in that country a mere farce. The measure of Ministers proposed that a rateal to the poor-rate, of the amount of £8, should confer the franchise. The bill was carried through the Commons, but opposed in the Lords by an
amendment, substituting £15 as the qualification, instead of £8. The Marquis of Lansdowne, having deserted the Ministerial measure, by declaring that £8 was too low, it is not surprising that the amendment was carried. The House of Commons, however, refused to adopt it; and, after a conference between the two houses, a £12 qualification was adopted.
Little else that has occurred during the session that has now closed requires a special notice. The bill for removing the Jewish disabilities, thanks to the lukewarmness, and, we fear, we ought rather to say the disingenuousness, of Lord John Russell, has been postponed to another year.
The public burdens, notwithstanding a surplus of two millions in the Exchequer, with a prospect of considerable increase during the present year, bave only been relieved by the repeal of the duty on bricks—the proposed diminution of the Stamp Duties not having yet passed the House of Commons; while, to the lasting disgrace of some nominally Liberal Members of the House of Commons, the motion for the repeal of the Window Tax was lost by a majority of three. This division brings us back to our first observation, which the whole tenor of the session has contributed to justify, namely, that the House of Commons, as at present constituted—that is, when only one male adult out of eight is possessed of the franchise—is a mere caricature of the representative system. Until it becomes a fair and true reflection of popular opinion, it can be nothing but a dislocated wheel in the machinery of the constitution, only impeding and frustrating the great purposes which it is its theoretical function to preserve.
We cannot close this article, which has already extended beyond our proposed limits, without a moment's notice of the signal calamity which this empire has suffered by the sudden decease of the lamented Sir Robert Peel. As an instance of the instability of all earthly greatness, and of the vanity of man as mortal, the death of Sir Robert Peel is an event which neither the House of Commons nor the country can easily forget. We cannot give the deceased statesman credit for having been guided throughout his brilliant public career by any grand, fundamental, and dominant political principles; but, for an honest desire to benefit his country, for profound sagacity in adjusting his measures, with that view, to the circumstances of particular times and crises, for immense political knowledge, for almost unequalled powers, alike of exposition and of conviction; and, above all, for that deep and ineradicable sympathy with the people, which led him “ to attend to the neglected and to remember the forgotten,” the memory of Sir Robert Peel will be for ever embalmed in the grateful admiration of his country.
THE INVASION OF NEPAUL.
SECOND PAPER. The end of the last chapter left me and a party of sepoys posted for the night in a position more suited for romance than repose, viz., a narrow flight of ledges projecting from the precipitous mountain-side. It was a dangerous durance. Had it been broad day, we could scarcely have moved an inch; the very thought of moving in the utter darkness was horrific in the extreme. Our situation might well be compared to Collins' fearful personification of Danger, who
* Throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging roek, to sleep." To the natives of the plain, who had hardly erer ascended higher than a brick-kiln, it was like a monster nightmare in a waking hour. I enjoyed it amazingly, as a grand and welcome variety in a long monotonous life on Indian plains.
We were a few days too late in entering Nepaul to witness a snowstorm, but the account given of it by those who had that pleasure was very amusing. No sooner did the air become filled with the feathery dance, and earth begin to whiten around, than the sepoys, looking up with astonishment and dismay, and thinking that the end of all things was at hand, shuddering and shivering retired under their canvass covers; while the European soldiers rushed in rapture from theirs, to renew the sports of early days, by pelting each other with snow-balls; and we doubt not but some tears of fond regret fell from eyes of hoary veterans, and mingled with the virgin snow, as they plunged their sunburnt, shrivelled hands once more into the home pledge of their innocent boyhood's winter jubilee; recalling too, perhaps, the charms of some youthful fair-haired sweetheart, beloved in vain, saluted in those joyous days with the love-token of a snow-ball, as soft and pure as her own half-angry, half-laughing, blushing face.
When day dawned, I and my party clambered up from the ledgy precipice, and stood again on the mountain-top to witness the sun rise on the world, as if just emerging from chaotic confusion.
There is but a narrow strip of tableland along the summit of the ridge that constituted the scene of the operations, with the two profound valleys on the north and south. We may best describe the position occupied by ourselves and the enemy, by sapposing the Jeytuck ridge to be the deck of some tremendous Titanic galley, firmly anchored amid the unsubsided tumult of a new creation, our little army occupying the forecastle of the gigantic bark; and the castellated peak of Jeytuck at the further end well
represented the ancient style of high towering poopstern, with its flagstaff, the citadel being the mural lantern, gleaming still with the watchfires of the night; while the white vapoury clouds, breaking along the mountain-sides below, and overspreading the subject valleys, looked like foam of a current parted by the vessel's prow, and gave an air of sublime reality to the simile. To complete the metaphorical description, we may suppose that the enormous war-vessel had been boarded by the English, who had established themselves on the fore