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venture now upon measures or declarations, which he would scarcely have hesitated about indulging in, for a moment, formerly. There is enough ground made good by the Radicals with which they may work fresh parallels against the fortresses of Abuse and Oligarchy. Each general election brings the awful shadow of democracy nearer and nearer over the entire nation.
3. The corn laws and currency questions are attracting increased attention and concentrating popular indignation against our landed and monetary interests. A titled aristocracy on one side, expatiating in its broad acres, and an untitled body of capitalists on the other, presumed most unjustly to be fattening upon high profits, are imagined by innumerable artizans to be upholding between them a small loaf and low wages. Now as Doctor Franklyn well observed, it is next to impossible to make an empty bag stand upright. Another short harvest would shake our institutions to their foundation : nor can the abolition of the frightful bread-tax be indefinitely postponed. Should it turn out otherwise, then farewell to our manufacturing prosperity,—to our commercial and maritime greatness for ever! În that case, the revolution would steal upon us like a political typhus, with its secret fatality pervading all ranks: their flesh would consume away while they stood upon their feet, their eyes waste into empty sockets, and their tongues be dried up in their mouths.
in their mouths. Or should a prospect of starvation, or any crisis favorable to the catastrophe, arouse into action a million sinewy arms, the physical force would no doubt be put down, yet so would the corn monopoly also : and that most probably in such a sudden and wholesale manner, that the remedy for a season would be worse than the disease, amidst the crash of the lesser capitalists, the ruin of our minor landlords, the foreclosure of mortgagees, and the dreadful confusion of rents, prices, and profits, all jumbled together, and scrambling to find their right places. Yet this is what may happen any day of any month in the year. Equally calamitous would be rash or injudicious tamperings with the circulating medium. The number of small independent incomes is increasing : that of large ones is diminishing. Alterations in the value of money would be towards the body corporate, just what quackery would be, were it brought to bear upon the blood flowing through the veins and arteries of a human body. But matters can never continue to go on as they are now doing. The question with ourselves is not whether some considerable change be not at band,- but whether it will be effected through violence, or after a peaceful manner.
The probable grounds for either result we imagine may be easily stated.
Apprehensions of violence will frequently intrude themselves into our minds, when we contemplate the ceaseless irritations
practised upon large and respectable sections of the community by the upper classes and the clergy. We also feel them, when, not as needless alarmists, but when with genuine sorrow, we observe those painful differences, which every day seem perpetually to widen, between the various ranks and orders of society. Moreover we sometimes dread the influence of a certain corrupted portion of the press, acting strongly upon half-informed masses, and ready to take advantage of any rising excitement for its own vile purposes. With regard to aristocratic and ecclesiastical proceedings, let some recent elections, and some spiritual prosecutions, be duly considered. Ale and alcohol, within the last three years, have proved greater plagues in many borough towns than the ravages of Cholera Morbus. We know ourselves more than one instance, in which elections used never to exceed the legal and proper charges of about £250; but where now through the introduction of treating for months beforehand, as well as during the actual contest, punch and politics have so inflamed the passions of the people, that thousands of pounds are scandalously expended, when honest hundreds before would answer every purpose. We solemnly and deliberately lay these iniquities to the charge of Conservatism : and we do so upon the score of its own occasional admission, and even open palliation of such practices, -upon the palpable facts passing before our own eyes and experience,-and lastly upon the evidence adduced before parliamentary committees. It is no answer to say that Liberals have followed the example, although we fear that is too true: nor is their plea of necessity worth a thought, except as demonstrating the mischievous effects of either setting or imitating bad precedents. Between both parties, however, the electoral suffrage is metamorphosed into a positive curse and nuisance. The bribery, corruption, and intimidation, flowing out of it, are poisoning the morals of the lower, and some also of the middle orders. Profligacy pullulates, in an atmosphere of this sort, like the frogs on the banks of the Nile. The constant excitement, whether accompanied by success or disappointment, engenders that state of mind, which broods more upon the fancied sweetness of victory achieved by whatever means, than on the evils of violence or disorder. Then ensues the additional agitation for or against a church-rate; in which sacred names, things, and associations, get mingled with the worst secular objects, as if the struggle were hallowed, instead of religion being desecrated, through the amalgamation of the church and the world. In this manner, as well as by clerical justices, ecclesiastical incarcerations, or exasperating refusals to let even the grave close over a nonconformist in consonance with the wishes of friends, and generally by making Dissenters feel that the law establishes one denomination and barely tolerates others, we conceive that a mine of explosive
materials is being accumulated under the foundations of society, waiting for an opportunity alone to astonish, overthrow, and devastate. Is it not, moreover, apparent, that separations in habits, sympathies, and wishes, are becoming daily more perilously deep and broad amongst the numerous and multiplying sections of the community ? Agriculture denounces and plunders manufactures: those connected with either stand drawn up in hostile lines, one fronting the other, suum quisque intuentes ducem, velut in acie! Operatives and employers-gentry and peasantry, episcopalians and nonconformists,—the aristocracy and democracy, -all do the same, from the stormy profitless deliberations of St. Stephen's to the tempestuous controversies in back-parlors. When besides these symptoms of an approaching contest, which may be little scrupulous hereafter as to the weapons men are to employ, the stings of an able but most inciting press come to be added, —who shall answer for the results ? Combinations are now well understood. The country is covered with them, although the meshes of their network may be looser, or less distinct, in some places than in others. Time and circumstances may strengthen them before our rulers are aware. Enormous abuses, still unredressed, and by the higher orders interested in their continuance not allowed to be aught but blessings, can be pointed to by the triumphant Chartists, amidst secret resolutions to use the strong hand for their remedy, when impulses in that direction shall be sufficiently irresistible, or the occasion sufficiently ripe. Violent newspapers are those most read by our artizans; and they peruse them with jaundiced eyes, and through spectacles green with jealousy. The Northern Star alone, we have been assured, circulates and sells eighteen thousand copies of each impression ! We say nothing now as to Ireland. That kingdom has frequently been depicted in parliament, and with good reason, as a dormant volcano. Sir Robert Peel seems to have abandoned all hopes of ever governing it. But an eruption could not happen there, without producing powerful corresponding effects in our own island. Those who remember how efficaciously our sympathy with France in 1830 moulded the public mind here for supporting the Grey administration, will readily comprehend the analogy. The fall of aristocracy and the Protestant establishment, between Cape Clear and the Giant's Causeway require no prophet; except indeed to surmise, were it possible, the precise degree and extent to which the triumph or failure of Irish liberalism would vibrate through every county, town, and village within England, Scotland, and Wales?
But, as mentioned before, we have no unnecessary desire to be either alarmists or croakers. If there are grounds for fear, there are also e contra, substantial ones for hoping, that those changes, supposed to be unavoidable, may come upon us gradually, and in
the garb of peace. The diffusion of religious and moral principle throughout all ranks, from the palace of the noble to the cottage of the peasant, forms one of the most attractive features of our age. The practice of domestic prayer,—that border,' as Robert Hall once beautifully described it, which keeps the web of daily life • from unravelling,' has become really general. Many peers might be enumerated, who not merely countenance it, but conduct it themselves. Thousands and tens of thousands have followed the example, as may be known from personal observation, or inferred from the prodigious sale, which almost any manual for family devotion is sure to meet with, whenever tolerably compiled. Our May meetings, with all their imperfections, cannot fail to be deemed significantly symptomatic of the fact that vital and spiritual religion is spreading eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward. So, also, if a portion of the press be excessively corrupt, another portion of it advocates evangelical principles: and even the columns of journals, such as the Standard and the Herald, together with many more, are sometimes occupied with articles or dissertations, which would have been scouted as methodistical a quarter of a century ago. The whole tone of literature, both that which is periodical and that which is not so, has evidently undergone marvellous elevation. Sermons, and all sorts of serious biographies or dissertations, enjoy the most liberal patronage of the public. General opinion has coerced the prelacy of our Establishment, even into the support of anti-slavery! or, at least, they seemed to claim a few leaves of its laurels the other day at Exeter Hall; although, previous to the victory, their venerable cruizers were unhappily always conspicuous on the wrong side. Yet better late than never; and we can afford to forget and forgive. The growth of Voluntaryism, as applied to missions and every kind of good work, denotes assuredly a mighty advance in the career of spiritual improvement; nor should the multiplication of Mechanics’ Institutes, Young Men's Societies, and various provincial Book-clubs be forgotten, as betokening similar progress of an intellectual nature. In a word, the schoolmaster may carry a rod, but the sword and firebrand are abhorrent to his disposition, not less than to his precepts. Then again, the multiplication of small properties, whilst it renders tamperings with the currency dangerous, on the other hand interests a larger number of persons in resisting rash experiments. More individuals have now a stake in the hedge (to adopt a homely yet expressive phrase), than used to be the case. There are not, perhaps, so many golden-footed worsted stockings, or guineas lumped uselessly together in leathern bags, hidden under the thatch, as occurred during the good old times of our great grandmothers,--but there are millions upon millions producing four per cent interest in our Savings' Banks ; By the way, M. de Tocqueville well shows the conservative in
fluence of these institutions, even in democratic countries, where the state alone inspires private individuals with confidence;' no other security being deemed equal to it. The augmented complications moreover of society itself
, tend to produce amongst its members greater anxiety, and therefore greater watchfulness, with regard to its preservation. Their kettles and gridirons, men, or at least women, will now and then entrust to some travelling tinker, for what they think the needful repairs; but were the gipsy to offer his services towards regulating the silver watch which is half-an-hour too fast, or the antiquated clock with its sun and moon clicking an unquestionable hour too slow; Hodge mutters to Dorothy that “idle folks had better attend to their own
business. The more our masses can be brought to have their sympathies embarked in maintaining the dignity of having something to lose, or that may be deteriorated through social changes, the strouger will the clasps become that hold us all together. Besides, too, these several considerations, presenting an aspect essentially opposed to any but gradual and palpable improvements, a stubborn fact remains, which is worth ten thousand arguments; namely, that efforts made in these kingdoms, for polia tical ameliorations through appeals to physical force, invariably fail. Many worthy, though misguided leaders of strikes and combinations, are now learning in confinement this wholesome truism ; for want of having duly observed it before, their 'passions,' as Burke says, ' have forged their fetters. We trust they will emerge again into personal freedom, wiser as well as better men. When any one in humble life succeeds as an orator, flatterers get around him without fail; whilst on grand field-days, myriads salute his ears with vociferous applause. His brain whirls at finding himself the object of popular, and as he for the time imagines, universal admiration. Alas! for the fidelity of mobs. Nothing was ever more accurately observed of such, than the aphorism of Livy: saginare plebem populares suos, ut jugulentur! The late chartist trials have taught much practical wisdom on this point, in English better than in Latin; which millions, whilst they run, may read. In looking, therefore, at our natural position from opposite quarters, we thank God that our hopes predominate over, without entirely obliterating our apprehensions. Only, as our author warns us, let us make the best of that we cannot avoid.
Electoral reform appears one of the first objects to aim at; so that, from amongst our agitated operatives, the sound wheat may be winnowed from the rotten corn. We contend openly, yet constitutionally, for the concession of Household Suffrage, as being the ancient vote of British Liberty, and the modification most suited to our present exigencies. Difficulties there are and must be on all sides; but by honest endeavors something may be