Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

plexion, nor is it as yet attended with many outrages on property; but the duration has been too long, and we cannot but consider the simultaneous outburst and the apparent organisation as somewhat formidable for the future. But for this time it will probably be appeased; and, indeed, one might almost confide in the Star of Peel. How brilliant is his present position! I should really say, that, comparing him with the three men who have at given times shone out most conspicuously in our nearest history—Lord Chatham in 1757, Mr. Pitt in 1784, and Canning in 1827—he bids fair to culminate above them all; I do not mean in talents, nor in total reputation; but in the particular circumstances of his accession to power. He does not enjoy the popularity of these three at the precise period I have named; but is it not more glorious to do great things and establish a secure power without popularity than with its aid? Even what you allude to, his want of support from his colleagues in the House of Commons, though it does not exhibit so much strength in the government as might be desired, displays his ascendancy in the strongest manner, especially the remarkable falling to leeward (you will excuse metaphors from the coast) of Lord Stanley. Graham, I have heard, has betrayed some want of nerve during the little Chartist movements in London. Peel very cool. This I heard from one who saw them both. On the whole, these Chartists have made less of their game than I expected.

Ryde, Sept. 9, 1842. I do not yet like the stubbornness of the Manchester weavers. Is it not to be feared that, finding they cannot gain their object by peaceable secession to the Mons Sacer, they may listen more to Manlius Duncombe and Gracchus O'Connor another time? They must do that, or give up their object; the lutte is not yet over. ..

Clifton, Bristol, Sept. 12, 1844.

I entirely agree with you that in the particular case, being one of great public importance, and where, whatever O'Connell and his friends may assert, the objection was simply technical, and left their guilt on many counts unacknowledged, the lay Lords might very properly have voted with the great majority of the Judges. It is true that their decision might have been called political, but is the present free from that suspicion ? The Constitutional precedent is important. I have never been favourable to the appellant jurisdiction of the Lords, and thought it received a great blow some years back, when appeals were heard by three Peers in rotation. This was pretty well abdicating their functions; but what is the present case ? Is it not a declaration that they are never to vote at all? Thus the accidental preponderance of Law Lords is to determine every question, though the Law Lords may be still fewer than at present.

If an Appellant Tribunal is required, as on account of

Scotland and Ireland may be the case, I should wish to see it transferred elsewhere. Surely the Lords cannot wish to retain it, when it is practically no sort of honour. As to the result, I have been disappointed, though I must own that I had no reason to be more sanguine. I fancied at first that the release of the prisoners on a merely legal point, not affecting the justice of the sentence, would not have produced that frantic exultation which we now see to be the case. It is a great blow to the friends of the Union, to the Courts of Justice, and to all possible governments. What is now to be done 2 I think doubtful and difficult cases should be avoided; but I do not see that gross and almost treasonable libels, such as I read in the Irish papers, should be left unpunished; otherwise we must soon come to war, and I fear that the Repealers will rapidly increase. Meantime, our friend Guizot has kept us out of an awkward business; for war with France in the critical state of Ireland would have been a most dangerous event. I suppose we have got all the reparation due to Mr. Pritchard; but in fact it is a curious thing that the French case against him has never, as far as I have seen, been specially developed. A war on this occasion would be worse than that for Captain Jenkins's ears. I found Scotland still full of the Free Church, and my own friends much divided. Jeffrey is a Free Church man, Abercromby and Murray quite the reverse. It is good deal analogous to our English ecclesiastical disutes, which happily have not ripened yet into opposition

to the law or separation from the Church. Chalmers and ot trept ha\plošov represent our ultra-High-Church Church of Oxford; and the resistance to them on the part of the lawyers and gentry is founded on a dread of their encroachments in private life, which may be chimerical, but does exist. The worst is that full one-half of the people are gone over to the anti-Erastian party, and their churches, now very numerous, are filled. How, then, can the Establishment be maintained ?–for the Dissenters, called Seceders, were previously reckoned at one-third of the population. Surely we are not to have the anomaly of Ireland repeated? I can see no possible reason for an Establishment if it does not serve a good purpose for the majority of the people. A bare majority ought not to suffice to bring about a change, but an enormous disproportion is repugnant to common sense. I doubt whether there is one man on the continent of Europe who would not condemn the Irish Protestant Church as an abuse. But I am far from saying that the whale O'Connell would cease to follow the ship if this tub were thrown to him. It would probably do much more harm than good.

Wraxall Lodge, near Bristol,
August 1, 1845.

The Session is now closing, but I hear with more than usual dissatisfaction on every side. The Reform Bill chiefly, with other circumstances, has given us a constitution that does not work well. The annual complaint, that much is talked and little done, will recur more and more. The great cause is that nothing is thought too trifling to occupy the time of Parliament, and no Member too insignificant to bring it forward. The whole executive power is thus thrown into the House of Commons; not, indeed, quá executive, but so far as deciding what ought to be done, or what has been done rightly. This, which in important matters is the necessary right of the Commons, has been stretched to an interference with all the routine of government, especially in personal questions, such as the appointment or dismissal of inferior officers. If we add to this the accumulation of private Bills, many of which, in my opinion, would far better be determined by some independent tribunal, we shall see how impossible it becomes to carry through Parliament half the important measures of legislation which are required, still more to deliberate upon them. I much incline to think that railways in particular might be discussed before some better tribunal than a Committee of the House: the evidence would be printed, and the Bill discussed in the House, quite as well as it is at present after the Report of a Committee. Such a Court would sit during the recess, and might have its circuits, to the

saving of vast expense.

Yours very truly,
H. HALLAM.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »