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according to rule, Mr Gladstone's bill could not affect the precedent, but only steered clear of it. The precedent is there established for ever; the gigantic innovation is unredressed; and the House of Commons has done no more to assert its rights than the little boy who, on being told that he must not say naughty words, silently moves his lips as if the naughty words were there. The triumph which the supporters of Mr Gladstone have thus secured, is one of the smallest that can be conceived. If it satisfies the wounded vanity of the House of Commons, we are glad to hear it, and have some cause to congratulate ourselves on the moderation of our public men. It would have been but graceful if the Government, since they chose to reap the benefit of the wise legislation of the House of Lords in last session, had refrained from asking the Peers to repeal the paperduties in a manner which exhibited irritation rather than gratitude for the benefit conferred. But it is the misfortune of a weak Government that it cannot afford to be magnanimous. It is a sign of weakness that it should be irritable.
Nothing is more true than the Scripture "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken that which he seemeth to have." It is the fate of a weak Government to grow in weakness, and of a strong Opposition to grow in strength. We do not know whether in the records of any session of Parliament a Government was known to have sustained so many and so humiliating defeats as the present one. Their support of any measure has almost always been disastrous. And it was not
merely on questions which perhaps never came before the Government collectively, and upon which some individual minister may on the spur of the moment have indicated the opinion of himself and his colleagues, that they suffered defeat; they were defeated on Cabinet questions. The decision on the Galway Contract was not that of a particular minister, it was a decision reviewed and confirmed by the Cabinet. They adopted it in all its force. Yet a few nights after the repeal of the paper-duties had been decreed by the House of Commons, the Government were forced to eat their leek, and to accede to the motion of Mr Gregory that a select committee should be appointed to inquire into the wisdom of the decision at which Ministers had arrived. Mr Disraeli did not miss the opportunity, but distinctly pointed out that here was a question of confidence, and yet the Government meekly consented to let a select committee question its decision and override its policy. It was a just retribution and a symptom of inevitable decay. It was the former, for it amounted to a confession that, after all their calumnies, there was a case for inquiry ; that the Tories might not have been so very far wrong, nor the Whigs so rigidly correct, as had been imagined. Indeed, after the statement of Lord Eglinton in the House of Lords, when the question of the Galway Contract came on for discussion there, it would be impossible for any but interested placehunters to cast a reflection upon the conduct of the Tory Government, which is responsible for the subsidy. The best and most popular viceroy that Ireland has ever
Mr Disraeli showed with great force that slander has been one of the chief weapons used by the Whigs against the Tory party for the last ten years. The Liberal newspapers were silly enough to reply that Mr Disraeli was the last man who ought to have brought that accusation against the Whigs, for he himself owed his first success in politics to his satirical genius displayed in the celebrated attacks against Peel. But that reply only proves the truth of Mr Disraeli's accusation, for it proves that the Liberals do not understand the difference between invective and slander, sarcasm and defamation. The Whigs have a right to calumniate because a Tory excels in satire !
had, Lord Eglinton, "had no hesitation in saying, that he approved the Galway Contract from the first, and that he was mainly answerable for it." He then described, in his own frank way, the various steps by which he, as Lord-Lieutenant, was led to recommend the Galway line of packets to the Treasury; and his speech is so able, that we could wish he contributed more frequently to the debates in Parliament-so conclusive, that it leaves little to be said on either side of the question. We would hope that by this time the calumnies of the Whigs, in reference to the Galway Contract, have been not only scotched, but killed, and have lost their interest. If it is not so, however, we are content to refer the disputant to Lord Eglinton's short speech, which will be found in the Times of June 4th.
The consent of the Government to Mr Gregory's motion was not only a just retribution for their slanders; it was, we have said, a symptom of inevitable decay. The humiliation of conceding the committee was so great, that nothing but an overwhelming Opposition could have induced them to yield. The Opposition has indeed become overwhelming, partly through the gain of the Tories in recent elections, partly through the dissensions of the Whigs in the House of Commons, and the imbecility of their policy. Their financial policy has disgusted all prudent men; their party management has driven their Irish
friends into open rebellion. Last of all, the division on the bill for the abolition of church-rates shows triumphantly how the current. of principle has set. The triumph, indeed, of the Tory party, in that division, is much greater than appears at first sight from the numbers. It is doubtless a great thing that, after the successes attained in session after session by the enemies of the Church, they should now be driven back so effectually that they cannot get their bill passed through the House of Commons. But there is more to be said of the Tory victory, and the Speaker of the House of Commons said it. He stated that he gave his vote with the Noes, because he had observed that, though the numbers in the division list were equal, a majority of the members were in favour of a settlement of the question different from that of Sir John Trelawney's bill. Virtually, therefore, the opposition to the views of the Liberation Society was greater than appeared. It is an immense triumph, which shows most forcibly that the country is with the Opposition, and that the Tory reaction is becoming stronger and stronger. It has astounded the Whigs, who, perhaps, will now learn humility, and begin to believe that the success of the Tories has some little foundation in principle. It will incite our political friends to renewed efforts, and prelude the way to still more signal victories.
THE DISRUPTION OF THE UNION.
WE are doubtful whether the indignation of the American Unionists at our imputed want of sympathy is simulated or real. It is possible that they expect to find a cry so popular as abuse of England is sure to be very convenient at the present juncture. But we are as sured by journals and correspondents that the feeling of injury is universal, and that no subsequent policy which we may adopt, and which may be more in harmony with their sense of what is due to them from us, will avail to restore us to their favour. And prepared as we are to allow for the inevitable supremacy of passion over reason in a time of national agitation, and in a country where the impulses of the many swamp the logic of the few, we think the present outcry unreasonable beyond all precedent. For in what cause are our sympathy and co-operation demanded? Not in the cause of the happiness or welfare of the American people for these our friendly feelings might have been reasonably invoked; but it has never been shown that these are threatened by secession. It is demanded of us that we should be as anxious as Americans themselves are for the stability of their political institutions. And, even in this case, we are not called on to sympathise with the American people, but with one section of the people against another section equally entitled to our regard, which declares that a continuance of the Union is contrary to its interests and happiness. Thus the only way in which we could meet the requirements of the North would be by aiding nineteen millions to maintain a confederacy from which nine millions are anxious to withdraw. Before such claims can be recognised, it must be shown that secession is contrary either to the interests of the American people, to our own interests, or to some great principle of
right; and, until this is done, they would, in any case, be unreasonable, but in the present case especially so. For the Union was framed on the ruins of British authority; and, to judge from the language used by Americans ever since, they consider the establishment of their independence as the issue from a gloomy and grinding tyranny into perfect freedom. If the jubilant outcries which, from that time to the present, have resounded, in and out of season, through the States, without any risk of producing satiety, at least at home, are to be accepted as evidence of the facts, it would appear that England's rule of her colonies was an oppressive and barbarous despotism, and that freedom existed there only in the breasts of a suffering people till the happy moment, when, flinging off the yoke, the new nation sprang forward on its unrivalled career, leaving its ancient oppressors immeasurably behind in all that constitutes the greatness and happiness of a people. This is what American oratory, parliamentary stump, or post-prandial-what American newspapers, American histories, and American demeanour generallyhave meant in their incessant and innumerable references to their condition as a colony, and as an independent nation. In these sentiments England has good-naturedly acquiesced; at least, she has not set herself in any way to contradict them. Yet, while granting that the extent and importance of the transatlantic colonies were such as to entitle them to an independent existence, that they have grown great and prosperous in independence, and that the separation is to be lamented neither by them nor by us, yet it cannot be supposed that we have heard with particular pleasure the vaunts, the glorifications of themselves, and the depreciation of European in
stitutions, that always accompany those never-ending declarations of independence which Americans of every degree imagine themselves entitled to fling in the face of the universe, and especially in the face of England. No Englishman believes that George III. was a reckless and cruel tyrant who wished to reduce his colonies to slavery. Nobody who is not an American believes that the Republic shows at all points a resplendent superiority to the English monarchy. People may even be found, on both sides of the Atlantic, who doubt whether the States of America ever enjoyed such true freedom and happiness as under British rule, and who, judging from the course of American history and English history since the establishment of independence, see in that event no special cause for congratulation. It is precisely because we do not share the admiration of America for her own institutions and political tendencies that we do not now see in the impending change an event altogether to be deplored. In those institutions and tendencies we saw what our own might be if the most dangerous elements of our Constitution should become dominant. We saw democracy rampant, with no restriction on its caprices. We saw a policy which received its impulses always from below. We saw the wisdom and moderation of the nation tossed like weeds upon the popular surges. It is sufficient that we listened without anger to the boastings, which perhaps may have been considered by the more sensible and reflective of those who uttered them as conducive to the sentiment of nationality, and so far politic, if not true; and that we have sought to meet the aggressive and arbitrary acts of American diplomacy in a conciliatory spirit. But we can feel no special interest in the maintenance of a union whose origin was in the violent overthrow of British supremacy, nor need we affect particularly to lament the
exhibition of the weak point of a Constitution that has always been systematically placed in disparaging comparison with our own, and the disruption of which leaves entirely untouched the laws and usages which America owes to England, and which have contributed so powerfully to her prosperity.
Within the memory of living men, the thirteen independent States of America agreed to a union, as a remedy for the evils which followed the recognition of their separate sovereignties. It was intended to substitute concerted action and the supremacy of general law, for disorganisation, confusion, and conflicting legislation. The preamble to the Articles of the Constitution is as follows:
"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Nothing can be clearer than that this union, as well as the confederation which it superseded, was formed from motives of pure and simple expediency. States that had always been independent of each other, found that they had common interests which union would foster, and common difficulties and defects which union would remove. They had proved that separate existence, even in the modified form of a league or alliance, was full of inconvenience. They were not numerous or extensive enough to render more than one confederacy desirable, and they took refuge in the alternative of union. No great principle was involved in this measure, nor did the Convention claim to be guided by any loftier impulse than the desire to escape from what Mr Motley, in his recent valuable pamphlet, calls the darkest period of their history. And granting, of course, that this motive for union was excellent
and sufficient, we would ask the most enthusiastic Unionist whether he sees in it anything especially sacred or holy. There are constitutions whose origin must for ever be interesting and admirable to mankind. In the re-union of a forcibly dismembered and once glorious nation-in the confederacy of kindred states against a common and formidable oppressor-in the sudden rise of a crushed people from debasement to self-direction and self-control, we see causes for respect and sympathy. But years had passed since the American States had achieved their independence. Their liberties were not threatened-they had never been united except by the temporary tie of a common revolt and their bond, necessary and judicious, was as prosaic as the establishment of a mercantile firm. Yet we are now called on to mourn as if some celestial light were about to vanish from earth with the American Constitution, and to look on those who have sundered it as enemies to humanity.
It was natural that a people whose chief boast was the unanimity and promptitude with which they had revolted from the shadow of oppression, should, in framing their Constitution, provide against the possible supremacy of any power of the state. They accordingly took such pains to guard against this contingency, that the weakness of the executive power strikes at once the most superficial inquirer into the nature of the Constitution. The President has the command of the army-but that army is raised and supported by Congress, and is too insignificant in force either to threaten liberty or to support the state. Relying only on the popular pleasure for re-election, the President is little more than a weathercock to indicate the direction of the popular will, and he holds office for too short a period to hope greatly to extend his personal influence. The sovereignty of the people being the basis of the Constitution, popular impulse is the great motive
power, and occasionally assumes even the direction of the administration of the laws; while, in other cases, territory has extended so far beyond the grasp of the executive power, that it has been found expedient to supply the absence of law with the rude and summary justice of self-elected judges and executioners. Men accustomed to live under such conditions bring back with them into civilised life a certain lawlessness, with which they leaven society; and in no great country is life so insecure, violence so common, and the right of private quarrel and revenge so undisputed, as in America.
Yet, notwithstanding the inefficiency of the executive and the turbulence of the population, it is not to be wondered at that for a time the Constitution answered its purpose. The machinery of each state worked better than before, because there were no longer serious points of collision, and it worked to a common instead of a divergent end. The credit of the Union was established abroad, while no causes of internal danger were apparent. The lower classes had already all the political power they could desire— in a system of universal equality they saw nothing above them to excite their envy- and the most dangerous elements of the population found safe vent in the vast fields of enterprise open in the prairies and backwoods. Thus intestine troubles were obviated, and the Government were secure against foreign foes; for, though the power of the President would probably have been insufficient to obtain from the people materials for a long and sustained aggressive war with a great power, yet, for all purposes of defence, the spirit of the population, the nature of the country, and its geographical position which rendered an attack by an overwhelming European army almost impossible, were sufficient assurances. But there was one defect to which a confederation of this kind was especially liable. Formed from mo