other Whig leaders their titles for national services which will survive themselves? But what a contrast to these glorious titles do the creations now proposed afford? Done not to reward merit, not to illustrate distinction, not to perpetuate honour; but to enable a particular party to remain in power, at the expense of the constitution-to sink the illustrious House, of which they are the youngest members, and form, not the ensigns of past glory, but the harbinger of future disaster! The enormous number of Peers whom the present Administration have created since they came into power, is another most serious consideration. If to the former creation of twenty-five we add thirty now proposed to be added, we shall have fifty-five peers created in thirteen months, all avowedly to carry a particular question. The Conservative party have been in power, with two short intermissions, from 1763 to 1830, or sixty-seven years. If they had created as many Peers annually as the present Ministers have done, and are said to be about to do, the Upper House would now have consisted of above four thousand members! In other words, that single branch of the Legislature would have engrossed all the persons of wealth, consideration, or respectability in the country, leaving none to the House of Commons but furious demagogues, or energetic popular leaders: the very circumstance which Lord Brougham has so well shewn was the cause of the precipitate and fatal career of the French Constituent Assembly.*

Nor does it in the least alter the character of the measure, that a large proportion of the new Peers, it is said, will be the eldest sons of existing Barons, who will, in the course of nature, at all events, succeed to the Upper House. That may be an important point to the Peers themselves, who naturally feel desirous that their order should not be degraded by the introduction of improper members. But to the country at large, this consideration, though by no means unimportant, is not the most serious matter. The great wound which the

constitution has received, is that which arises from the decision of one branch of the Legislature being overturned by the Royal prerogative; in other words, the establishment of a precedent, which at any time enables the Executive, by whomsoever wielded, to break down the opposition of one of the constituent branches of the Legislature. From that wound, fatal to public freedom, the constitution never can recover, and it is called for by the friends of the people!

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"Whenever, during the Revolution," says Chateaubriand, an act of injustice was to be done, it was urged forward with breathless haste, and necessity was alleged for its adoption; whenever an act of justice was to be performed, it was said that delay was expedient." How exactly similar is the revolutionary career in all ages and countries! Where is the necessity for advancing so rapidly? Did not the Catholic Bill pass Peers from the alleged force of reason at last, though for long it was rejected? Is the cause of Reform so utterly untenable that it won't bear an argument, and must dwindle away and perish, if it is long considered? Is the maxim, magna est veritas et prævalebit, universally applicable save to the Reform Bill? The truth cannot be eluded; it is pressed by this violent stretch of the Executive, because its authors know the universal application of this maxim, and feel that, if not now forced upon the country, it inevitably will awaken to its real tendency.

The constitution has subsisted so long, and general liberty has been so admirably preserved under it, because, as Paley has observed, in the passage quoted above, the Crown has, in all serious contests with the popular party, taken part with the Upper House; and how great soever the democratic spirit of the Commons has occasionally been, it was effectually coerced by the united weight of the Barons and the Executive; in other words, by the ruling power and the great properties of the state. If a creation of Peers be adopted, it will be mortally wounded, because a coalition against its existence has ta

* Edinburgh Review, Vol. VI. Review of Bailly.

ken place, of a kind which never has been anticipated, and for which, accordingly, the constitution has made no provision, viz. the coalition of the Executive with the democratic party. It was obvious to every capacity, that if such a combination of powers took place, it would be extremely doubtful whether the aristocracy could maintain their ground against it; because the Crown, wielding the military and naval force of the realm, and possessing the unlimited power of creating Peers, and the Commons having the sole command of the public purse, stood opposed merely to an assembly of dignified and opulent landed proprietors. But such an alliance was deemed impossible by all the sages and philosophers of the last age, because it was directly contrary to the interests and existence of the contracting parties; and, therefore, they never contemplated any peril to the constitution from that quarter. It was reserved for the modern Reformers to realize what Montesquieu, De Lolme, and Blackstone deemed impossible; and to pierce the constitution to the heart by a blow, so reckless and peril ous, that it never was thought possible that men could be found to strike it.

England, to all appearance, is about to enter upon the career of degrading the Peerage, and destroying its independence as a branch of the Legislature; and is there no example of what such a course leads to? Does no voice issue from the sepulchral vaults of a neighbouring kingdom, to warn us of the measure which proved fatal to their institutions? Alas! the hand of God seems to press upon our country; darkness, thick as midnight, darkness" that may be felt," to blind our people; the examples not merely of history, but of the present moment, are lost upon our rulers! At the very moment that the Crown of England is violently urged to embark on this peril ous stream, the Crown of France is tottering on the head of him who wears it; while the new patents for the creation of English Peers are making out on one side of the Channel, the hereditary nobility is extinguished on the other. What has led to this overthrow of the French constitution—to this departure from

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all the principles of European civilisation-to this demolition of the bulwark of modern freedom, and near approach of the greatest civilized monarchy to the barbarism and the anarchy of Turkish despotism? The fatal union of the Crown and the populace; the ruinous precipitance, forty years ago, of a reforming Administration; the placing the Execu tive at the head of the revolutionary movement; the repeated overwhelming of independent deliberations by the creation of Peers to carry particular questions, and the erection of a revolutionary throne on the foundation of the barricades. Sixty Peers were created at one time by Decazé to force an obnoxious measure through the Upper House; they were arbitrarily deprived of their seats by the first act of the Citizen King; thirty more were created to ensure the passing of the self-denying ordinance, and the next measure is the formal abolition of the hereditary Peerage by the Peers themselves!

It is impossible it can be otherwise. When the Assembly of Nobles is held forth to the country as unworthy of effective deliberation; when their resolutions the most solemn, their deliberations the most wise, their measures the most magnanimous, are set aside by a simple stretch of the Royal prerogative, it is impossible that they can be regarded either with respect or attachment by the country. The friends of order must cease to regard them as any effective barrier against the encroachments of revolution; the supporters of innovation cannot apprehend any effective resistance from a body, whom, on a previous occasion, they have discovered so easy a method of defeating. By both the great parties into which society in all the states of Europe is now divided, the influence of the nobility must be regarded as equally extinguished; and how, after such a fall in public estimation, is their order and their rank to be preserved from destruction? Without inspiring confidence in the one party, without awakening fear in the other, they may drag on for a few years a precarious existence; but their dignity, their usefulness, is at an end, and their importance must be so much diminished, that their

ultimate destruction will be neither the subject of congratulation to the one, nor regret to the other.

The whole efforts of the Revolutionary Party will now be directed to one object, to seize possession of, and retain in their grasp, the Executive power. By so doing they occupy a position which commands the Conservative Party in rear, and enables them to assail the friends of the constitution in a quarter in which they have no defence, because no attack was apprehended. Create new Peers, create new Peers, will be the cry raised on every occasion, on which any resistance to the advances of that most insatiable of all passions, democratic ambition, is apprehended; and the Upper House, how anxious soever to discharge their duty to their country, finding themselves paralysed by such an exertion of the Royal prerogative, must necessarily cease to oppose any serious resistance to the demands of the people. Thus, if the democratic party can only succeed in getting their favourite leaders installed in administration, there is no limit to the Revolutionary measures which they may force upon the country, or the degradation which they may impose upon the Crown. And accordingly, in France, after the House of Peers ceased to be a separate branch of the Legislature, by being united with the Tiers Etat in the Constitutional Assembly, the Revolutionary Party speedily got the direction of the Executive, and the most fatal blows at public institutions were levelled by them with the sword of the Executive. The first measure of the French upon emerging from the Revolutionary furnace, in 1795, was to revive a separate House, under the title of the Ancients; their next to restore the Peers to a separate share in the Legislature under Napoleon; so bitterly had the disastrous effects of their abolition been experienced. The first great measure of the Revolutionary Party, in 1831, when replaced at the head of affairs, has been to destroy the dignity of the Peerage, by adding to their number for a specific purpose; their next to complete their destruc

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tion. And it is with these events passing before their eyes, that the Ministers of the Crown, the sworn guardians of the realm, are urged to the insane course of destroying the independence of the Peerage, by forcing them, by new creations, to adopt a highly democratic measure. Quam parva sapientia regitur mundus!

Hitherto the effects of this vast creation have been considered as they affect the Lords; but the consequences of the measures are, if possible, likely to be still more disastrous upon the House of Com


It is stated by Hume, that at the time when the civil wars began with Charles I., the landed property in the possession of the House of Commons amounted to three times that belonging to the Peers.* The relative proportion between the wealth of the two Houses has since completely changed, chiefly in consequence of the large number of com. moners who have been advanced to the Peerage during the last seventy years. The violence of the reform tempest may be in some degree ascribed to that cause; because the House of Commons has gradually fallen into inferior hands in respect of property, and the check on the democratic principle which arises from the chance of losing vast possessions, was proportionally diminished in the most influential branch of the Legislature. Few great landed proprietors are now to be found in the House of Commons; and on no former occasion was their number so materially diminished as at the Reform Election.

But the recent unexampled creation has augmented tenfold an evil, which, of itself, was already becoming sufficiently formidable. The rich commoners, or at least the rich landed commoners, are almost exhausted by the enormous addition to the Peerage [made or proposed in the space of twelve months. The consequences of this change must be to the last degree prejudicial to the tranquillity and great interests of the country. Lord Brougham has clearly pointed them out, as we shewed in

Hume, vol. vi.

a former number, in his Observations on the French Constituent Assembly. It is to the want of what he calls a "National Aristocracy," of an assemblage of the most opulent and eminent among the landed proprietors of France, in the deputies elected to the States-General, that he ascribes the fatal career of passion and innovation into which they plunged; and if any thing were wanting to prove the justice of his arguments, it has been furnished by the consequences of his own conduct.

What must be the inevitable result of the popular branch of the Legislature, in an age of violent revolutionary excitement, being gradually weeded of all its opulent and influential members, is sufficiently obvious. The control of the public purse will fall into hands which have no private purse to steady their operations; the great properties be represented in an assembly which has no control over the financial measures of the country. Adventurers, democrats, demagogues; men of daring audacity, unceasing energy, reckless ambition, may be expected to rise to the head of affairs, supported by popular agitation, and the influence of a democratic representative assembly. The bankrupts in fortune, the blasted in character, the ruined in prospects, will take to patriotism," the last refuge," as Johnson observed, "of scoundrels,”—while the persons really interested in the country, by the possession of fortunes permanently vested in it, will be compelled to “sit on a hill retired,” and await in impotent silence the approach of the surge, which they have by this fatal act been deprived of the means of resisting.

The French Chambers exhibit in the clearest manner what may be anticipated from this deterioration of the House of Commons, arising from the undue elevation of Peers to the Upper House. For ten years past, several great creations of Peers have taken place to carry particular measures, and the result has been the formation of a Chamber of Deputies, so outrageous, so ridiculous, as to be incapable of exercising any of the

*Dec. 1831. VOL. XXXI. NO, CXCI,

useful functions of legislators. A scene of indescribable confusion lately took place; a sitting was broken up in uproar, because Count Montalivet called the French the subjects of the King! So deplorably tenacious are democratic assemblies of any thing which touches, however remotely, on their own authority. But in useful legislation, in projects of real utility, we look in vain to their proceedings for any satisfactory intelligence. They appear to be entirely occupied with alienating the Crown property, to discharge the expenses created by their democratic establishments. It is the same with the House of Commons; its useful labours have diminished just in proportion as its democratic spirit has increased. The last year has been an annus non, an absolute blank in useful legislation or practical improvement. This tendency may be expected to increase with the additional infusion of popular ambition from the Reform Bill; and most certainly nothing will contribute so much to augment it as the large abstraction of influential proprietors, now so strongly recommended, for the Upper House.

What all who love their country have to do now in the Peerage, is perfectly clear. Great as is the peril of the Reform Bill, the peril_arising from this swamping of the House of Peers is still greater. At all hazards they should strive to remove the present Ministers from their situations. This they can easily do, and do without agitating the country as to Reform. Let them throw out the Bill, not on its own merits, but because it was sought to be carried by such means. Let them pledge themselves at the same time to entertain a project of Reform founded on rational principles, and boldly address the Crown to remove the Administration. This is the true way to meet the danger. "In politics, as in war," says Napoleon, "he who takes the lead is generally sure of success." The question now is not what degree of Reform shall be carried; great as that question is, it is merged in one still greater, viz. Whether there shall be an independent branch of theLegis

† Edin, Review, vol. vi, Rev. of Bailly, 2 c

lature separate from the Commons; in other words, whether the Crown is to be made the mere mouthpiece and weapon of the democratic party, and the flood of revolution is to overwhelm the country which has recently deluged the neighbouring kingdom?

The reforming Administration have been now above a year in power, and the following financial return exhibits the progressive fall in the Revenue, from the political agitation which they have introduced into the country.

The first table exhibits the progressive decline in the Revenue during the four quarters of the last year of the Wellington Administration; a year during the two last quarters of which the reduction in the beer duty, which produced £3,000,000 sterling, came into operation.


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exhibits only a deficiency of £640,000; the first complete year of Whig government, though embracing only a reduction of taxation to the amount of £2,600,000, exhibits a deficiency of almost four millions. In other words, supposing the reduction of taxation by the two governments had been equal, the loss of revenue arising from the Whig measures was nearly three millions and a half!

The Duke of Wellington left Earl Grey areal sinking fund of £2,900,000 a-year. Where is that fund now? Gone to the vault of all the Capulets. The succeeding Administration pared so closely, that in their anxiety for popularity, they left no surplus revenue to the country; in other words, they annihilated the real sinking fund which their predecessors left them. And now what is the result of their government? A deficiency of four millions! The wisdom of the Duke of Wellington's administration so compensated, by the rise of other branches of the revenue, the reduction of the beer duty, that a remission of £3,000,000 produced only a deficiency in the concluding year of his administration of £640,000. The folly of Earl Grey's administration so aggravated, by the fall in all other departments, the remission of £2,600,000 of taxes on coals, candles, and calicoes, that it augmented the deficiency to four millions in the first year of his government.


If the details of this enormous deficit be looked into, they are still more instructive. Every department exhibits a deficiency except the Post Office, the rise in which arose from the suspension of franking and general bustle consequent on the general election. The following are the items:


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4,864,000 409,000

Decrease. £1,007,000 2,564 000






It was formerly reckoned that a general election, by the expenditure it occasioned, raised the revenue a million sterling. What must have been the conduct of the Administra



£32,000 tion, which, in spite of that advantage, caused it to decline four! The Excise fell off £2,500,000, a clear proof how much the insanity of democratic ambition is beginning to

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