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whole framework moves, and totters, from ten thousand impulses struggling each for the mastery. Myriads upon myriads, are quietly learning the grand lessons of organization; who have never studied military tactics, and who would abhor in their hearts every approach to physical violence. With much cloudiness of view both as to the past and the future, they fasten no very friendly gaze upon the present, which touches them at every point, and agonizes them with the perpetual contact. How should it be otherwise ? Have we not all one Father?' demands the inspired page ; and is it conceivable that civil government, which was instituted to protect and cherish all that is good and virtuous and advantageous to man, can become an enormous engine of oppression, without calling forth groans, and in due time even resistance, from the oppressed ? Multitudes are perceiving, or at least imagining that they do so, the sources of their sufferings in certain human institutions. They therefore summon those institutions to the tribunal of public opinion; an inexorable judge, who deals alike with the shadows of history, and the realities of actual life:
Quæsitor Minos urnam movet: ille silentum
Conciliumque vocat—vitasque et crimina discit ! Democracy, monarchy, autocracy, and more than all ArisTOCRACY, are now passing under this arraignment; and, with respect to the last, we have the advantage of being admitted into court, under the able guidance of Lord Brougham, and Mr. Macintyre. We have not much room for definitions ; but, desiring above all things to be fully comprehended, our hearty concurrence is with his lordship, that the essence of an aristocracy is the existence of a privileged class, which engrosses the supreme power, and has sufficient force to resist the changes that any intermixture of monarchical or democratical institutions tend to introduce in favour of monarchy, or of democracy, respectively.'
And now we say, let facts speak for themselves, for they are proverbially stubborn things. Aristocracy has existed for ages in the world, and its results can be weighed in the balance, with quite sufficient accuracy. Although its characteristics may be more occult and subtle, than those of other governmental forms; as to its consequences, there can be no mistake. Its merits have received an ample share of laudation. They are such as mainly address themselves to the imagination, deriving their origin from chivalry and the crusades, connected with barbarians in coats of mail, moated fortresses, knights and esquires in armour, tournaments, and the ordeal by battle. Hence poets and orators have revelled in such a field, far removed from the associations of every-day life, as we see it now constituted; and affording the most convenient screen upon which to throw magical colours and fallacious shadows. The notorious and incomparable apostrophe of Edmund Burke, will perhaps never be forgotten, whilst English lasts as a living language ; yet, what more easy than to show, that every line of it is utterly destitute of truth? Lord Brougham, indeed, asserts, that no government so manifestly excels, in fostering principles of personal honour, as the aristocratic; but with all respect to such an authority, we beg leave totally to differ from him. There is a conventional affectation, which a wicked world confounds with real personal honour, peculiar to the atmosphere of aristocracy, rife and pregnant with all the elements of political usurpation, personal assumption, and modern duelling. This sentiment of mischief, dares to borrow the plumes of an honest name and character, and puff itself off for what it is not—a genuine virtue far too sublime for a plebeian meridian! Within the circles of its influence, there strut up and down certain heroic Drawcansirs, with pistols in neat mahogany cases, or swords by their sides,-the envy of young subalterns at the Horseguards; and hoary Virginian or Kentucky planters, whose spirit of aristocracy, neither democratic institutions, nor the sweets of the sugar cane, nor the fumes of tobacco, have been able to eradicate. But, as to what Burke himself would describe, as 'the chastity,' of the virtue in question, our honest conviction is, that it is far more natural to liberalism, and the middle, or even the lower classes, when at all intelligent and educated, than it is to aristocracy and the upper ones. Its native air must be that which is most opposed to selfishness. Its essence must be the habit of doing towards others what we would they should do towards us. In other words, the golden rule of the gospel must be its guide; or at all events, the nearer its approximation to that, the more perfect will be the personal honour. A bankrupt having once compounded, and who afterwards, when he has it in his power, pays his creditors twenty shillings in the pound, displays more elevated feeling of this kind, than the high spirited and right honourable magnate who would scorn any individual participation in industrial or commercial pursuits; and who would play off ten thousand pranks of pecuniary meanness, under the privilege of peerage, were the pressure of necessity put upon him. We confidently appeal to the entire history of that defunct custom, once called Franking; to the notorious baseness and parsimony of aristocratic transactions, when either a governess is to be engaged, or a chaplain hiredor when, in short, anything is to be done in a sphere above that of menial life. It is not the liberal legacy left to some favourite valet, nor the enormous wages lavished upon the portly butler, nor the rich lace and gold upon the state liveries of powdered ser
vants, nor the salary of seven sovereigns per week, to the obsequious house-steward, in some of our hereditary establishments, which at all tests the principle of personal honour amongst the aristocracy. It will rather be their conduct in secret towards some young artist, out of whom an opulent noble shall screw a picture for thirty-five guineas, worth more than ten times the sum, as happened the other day, that answers this purpose. We once saw with our own eyes, and heard with our own ears, a noble earl parleying with a poor pastry-cook upon a public promenade, as to whether he should pay a penny or a halfpenny for his bun ; whilst his equipage, at that very moment, was moving to and fro, consisting of a coach in which Venus might have ridden for its beauty, four incomparable horses in silver harness, besides two more as outriders, four or five attendants in gorgeous style—the whole turn-out being estimated at, from nine hundred to a thousand pounds sterling. We frequently, during a period of some weeks, fell in with his lordship and family parading up and down within the narrow limits of three miles; since, to have extended their drive fifty feet further, in either direction, would have involved paying a turnpike! Be it remembered, that we are not animadverting upon persons, but systems. The mind born and brought up within what Almacks would term,
the gilded pale,' is necessarily dandled in folly, and becomes doomed to remain in perpetual infancy. In the vast majority of cases, there is no help for it. More than one ex-chancellor can be pointed out, to demonstrate the dwarfing tendencies of high titles. Coronets may often be the rewards of merit; but they are frequently extinguishers to genius, as well as personal honour. This last will be found to thrive better, we may depend upon it, on the open heaths of a well-regulated commonwealth, than in the conservatories and forcing-houses of any privileged class under the sun. But let us proceed to investigate matters upon a more extended scale : magna est veritas et prevalebit.
The sixth chapter of Lord Brougham is devoted to the vices and virtues of Aristocratic Polity. The former are allowed, even by his lordship, to be palpable and glaring; 'capable only of some mitigation, and wholly incapable of entire counter-action. The first and fundamental defect is, that supreme or legislative power must be vested in a body of individuals wholly irresponsible. These persons have no check on their conduct, either from institutions or nature. Selfishness, on the most gigantic scale imaginable, builds up a temple, with an altar of fire, and a bloody throne, in the midst of which she sits and reigns and revels. There is no human authority to say to aristocracy, What doest thou?' A despot sways his iron sceptre, with the sword of Damocles hanging over his head; and if he advance beyond certain limits of oppression, conscience smites him on the heart; the dagger of Macbeth troubles him—visions of his victims point and leer at his sleepless eyes, whilst his very shadow beckons him to judgment. But in the other case, there can be no conscience, for aristocracy is an abstraction, not a person; it is a congeries of governors, not an individual. It is a corporation of irresponsibilities—a hydra with many heads; so many, that all sense of guiltiness is subdivided into infinitesimal portions. * The nobles in an aristocracy never can be called to any account,' says Lord Brougham, and most truly. Public opinion itself seems for a time almost powerless. What member of our own House of Lords, takes very sorely to his mind, all that is flung out of scorn, or ridicule, or hatred, against hereditary lawgivers, in order to assail that illustrious senate ?' Our readers will not fail to remark the epithet, or remember from whose mouth, or rather from whose pen, it falls. But his lordship admits another enormous inconvenience, which he moreover ventures to stigmatise with some severity; for he observes, that 'It is the worst of all the vices of an aristocracy, that the interests of the ruling body are, of necessity, distinct from those of the community at large : and, consequently, their duties as governors, are in perpetual opposition to their interests, and therefore to their wishes, as individuals and members of the government ! Surely we may here affirm, that a stronger ground for condemnation could scarcely exist. Poor human nature is little qualified for struggling against the stream; or waging warfare against her own excesses. Sancho Panza was her personification, when he volunteered to endure a flagellation for Dulcinea, on one condition, that he might lay on the stripes with his own hand, at his own times, upon his own shoulders ! Aristocracy acts, according to one of the ablest of its advocates, upon the Scotch maxim, Take care of number one;' multiplied by as many appetites as there may be to appease, and as many hands as may happen to have an itching palm. We need not go further than British legislation to satisfy ourselves, how unremittingly and shamefully the patrician body will exercise the supreme power, which resides in it, for its own exclusive benefit, and in contempt of popular interests. Aristocrats are neither more nor less than autocrats upon a smaller scale, with imitative diadems upon their heads, and genuine stings in their tails. Their name is Legion, and their nature that of Beelzebub-quoad, we mean, the unfortunate subjects over whom they rule, and whom scripture assures us, they were sent to torture. Woe to that land, whose princes are many! Besides all which, they reproduce themselves under worse and worse phases in each succeeding generation. The education and training of patricians,
are unavoidably adapted to spoil them : 'they are born to power and pre-eminence, and they know, that do what they will they must ever continue to retain it. They see no superiors; their only intercourse is with rivals, or associates, or adherents, or inferiors. They are pampered by the gifts of fortune in various other shapes. Their industry is confined to the occupations which give a play to the bad passions, and do not maintain a healthy frame of mind. Intrigue, violence, malignity, revenge, are engendered in the wealthier members of the body, and the chiefs of parties. Insolence towards the people, with subserviency to their wealthier brethren, are engendered in the needy individuals of a body, which extends all its legal rights and privileges to its present members—too proud to work, not too proud to beg; mean enough to be the instruments of other men's misdeeds, base enough to add to their own! These are not our words merely, be it remembered. They must come under the category, ex ore tuo condemnavimus : as also must the unbiassed testimony of the same noble and learned person, to the general dissoluteness of manners, self-indulgence, and extravagance,' inseparable from an aristocracy. He further assures us, that there is no form of government more odious to a people; tending as it does to oppression, vexation, and slavery. Few sovereigns, even in limited monarchies, are familiar with those whom they rule over; but ! patricians are far more near, and their yoke is more felt. Oligarchy also is more quickly worshipped, than despotism. It seems more within the reach of every man. The case is just conceivable, wherein a peasant may become a peer, or the grandsire of one; as we have known ourselves in some remarkable instances. But Bernadotte is, perhaps, a solitary example in modern days, of a private soldier issuing forth from the ranks, ascending through all the military gradations, and living to adorn a throne. Hence, many subtle and mischievous notions worm their
way into a community afflicted like our own. Men become possessed with exaggerated notions of the importance of their fellow citizens, in the upper classes; they bow to their authority as individuals, and not merely as members of the ruling body-transferring the allegiance, which the order claims, as due to the individuals of whom it is composed. They also ape their manners, and affect their society. Hence an end to all independent manly conduct.' In other words then, aristocracy must be considered an institution, pestilential in its influences upon the morals, manners, and welfare of mankind, the ablest among its own members being judges; for similar evidence might easily be multiplied from analogous quarters.
Quæ cum ita sint, as Cicero would say--what may there be to set off against such a catalogue of evils ? Even Lord Brougham