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cracked moulds of antiquity, and redolent of the political charnel house? We repress all inclination to pursue such profane inquiries, and desire to have it believed that we profit greatly by the sage discourses we there and then heard--all the speakers being titled, and titles invariably conferring upon men the power to delight and instruct others. Still we have been upon the whole disappointed in “another place. The grim and bony shadows of legislators who there congregate, not so much to transact public business as to illustrate the position that while all the rest of the world is actively engaged they have nothing to do, and seldom get properly thawed until June. Like the bears, they are hibernating animals, who should not be disturbed till the sun rides with Taurus; they may then come forward with some chance of continuing awake five hours in the twenty-four, partly for their own amusement, and partly for the benefit of the nation.
But when these ancient gentlemen are roused by a sort of legislative galvanism into activity, what is it that they perform ? To what generous sentiments do they give utterance ? What proofs do they offer that the interests of this mighty empire are intelligible to them; that they are familiar with the character of our industry, that they have duly estimated the value of our colonial establishments, that they have familiarised themselves with our genius, moral and intellectual ? Have they qualified themselves to pour the poison of tropes and figures into our ears, and to allure us from the consideration of our rights by the blandishments and witcheries of language, by gorgeous imagery and piles of rich and dazzling thoughts thrown up over the every-day world till they pierce the empyrean? Do we, while listening to their words, imagine that they speak the style of gods, and forget our wrongs and sufferings in the deep and powerful fascination of their aristocratic rhetoric !
Alas, nothing of all this! But the inmates of “another place" are perhaps humble, inquisitive Christians, who examine the relations of pounds, shillings, and pence, and watch over the vulgar interests of the nation? In some sense they are often sufficiently humble. We find them, for example, entering minutely into the history of a soup-kitchen, advancing certain propositions, relating certain circumstances presumed to be facts, and scattering certain accusations believed to be well founded. This constitutes the work of one day; and having conscientiously accomplished it, the wise men adjourn to indulge in hock and champagne, and gamble, intrigue, or sleep, till the morrow. They then repair again to “another place," and having no particular business prepared for them, nothing to legislate upon in the actual state of the country, nothing connected with our numerous distant dependencies, or with the complicated relations subsisting between us and foreign states, they return to the all-engrossing topic of the soup-kitchen, confess that they had been inadvertently betrayed into certain errors and mis-statements, that the evidence laid before them had been incomplete, and that consequently they desire to make a sort of retractation. The faculty of saying and unsaying being among their privileges, they retract accordingly ; and thus the second afternoon is profitably consumed. The third dreary day dawns and witnesses in “ another place” the same dearth of legislative employment. They search their journals, they look wistfully at each other, they glance imploringly at the door leading from the national place of business, in the hope that some stray bill, some topic prolific of discussion or contradiction, some hint upon which a hungry orator might fasten, may present itself. But the people in the antipodes of “another place” are inexorable, and without paying the least attention to the windy suspirations of the primitive gods of the earth, proceed strenuously with their own work, feeding the pauper in one place, and condemning him to starvation in another, according to the influence of the stars. Shocked by this development of the monopolising spirit, the men of titles and distinctions, the hereditary oracles of the world, revert a third time to their soup-kitchen, and turn it over and over, and round and round, to discover whether or not anything got out of
In this way, and by the help of certain complimentary phrases, they aid the fatal sisters in spinning out one hour and a half more of their lives, when, conceiving that they have achieved wonders for the happiness of the country, they adjourn again. Dukedoms and marquisates impart no skill in statesmanship. Even the Countess of Salisbury's garter, though bound round the forehead, would scarcely act like political inspiration ; and so the melancholy grandees drop a fourth time down in their glittering equipages to "another place" without precisely knowing wherefore they do so, and how they are to find employment when they get there. The soup-kitchen is stale, but it must serve once more. The great props of the State, with “ Atlantéan shoulders fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies," sit in conclave on the kettle and the skimming-dish ; sport their syllogisms and their enthymemes ; remember their Eton and their Harrow days ; and strive to plump out their unleavened discourses with threadbare verses from the Greek and Latin poets. Whether they quote right or wrong, it matters not. Their memories have become like the tub of the Danaides, through which all scholarship would leak as fast as it might be poured in. So that though their practised ears may detect a false quantity, they would not be in the least shocked at hearing a passage from the Eumenides attributed to Homer. If the days of theological discussion were not over, they might invite an Episcopalian orator to entertain them with a political diatribe on the five points, not of the People's Charter, but of the controversy between the Calvinists and the Arminians. Unfortunately, these helps to legislation are worn out. Like the divinities of Paganism, therefore, these Patricians of the nineteenth century are condemned to feed their airy intellects a fourth time on the steams of the soup-kitchen, which, rolling round the oligarchical Olympos, ascend thin and vapoury to their nostrils, suggesting no idea of sacrificial pomp, but redolent rather of hungry paupers and Irishmen, defrauded of their Sunday's dinner.
Will no one, therefore, have pity upon “another place,” and supply it with some small pittance of occupation? We have constitutional philosophers who descant habitually on the marvellous benefits we derive from these two branches of the legislature which sit on the banks of the Thames and enliven our winters by their witty exhibitions, but can discover no equity in the way
in which the constitution has thought fit to tax their legislative powers, all the labour being heaped on one, and all the leisure on the other. The hereditary House is a real Castle of Indolence, where gartered knights and mitred prelates nod at each other, and snore in couples. And yet it is considered highly objectionable to talk of reforming “another place.”. There is such a thing, we are told, as a political atmosphere, by inhaling which a man becomes wise mechanically. He does not need to study, to consume the midnight oil, or commune with the thoughts that wander through darkness, and visit the sleepless in the deepest silence of nature. He who breathes the political atmosphere knows things by instinct. His greatness and his success in life depend on the topography of his birth-place — on the moral gases in which his infant intellect is steeped—on the number of bipeds and quadrupeds at his command—on the dimensions of the masses
of brick and mortar by which he is defended from the elements. Be his spiritual organisation coarse or fine, he has only to have his cradle rocked in the atmosphere of politics to grow up into a lawgiver.
On the lower levels of society, individuals are born and nurtured for inferior occupations--for the study of philosophy, of literature, or the sciences. In these humble branches of knowledge and petty pursuits, low people may make some figure, because in them much depends on genius and strenuous application. Even the vulgar, without any aid from garters or coronets, may heap up about themselves the glittering riches of language, and ascend over the heights of their own speculations into the very heaven of invention. They may range through the whole universe of thought—they may even tread within the sacred precincts of politics, and be masters of the art of ruling millions by the simple exercise of the will and the tongue. But they are not on that account a jot the less vulgar, if they inhabit democratic localities, breathe plebeian air in the suburbs, and are known by ignoble appellations. The power to rule comes by nature, whereas learning and philosophy are the gifts of fortune. There is consequently no merit in possessing them, otherwise we should see a change in the economy of this world's affairs. The true philosopher is your member of “another place," who, in the innate dignity of his position, walks into power and emolument; becomes a minister and an ambassador, or obtains the vicarious sway of an empire. He stands in no need of ordinary acquisitions. His wisdom is in his blood. He derives his authority from his ancestors, or rather, perhaps, if we look more narrowly into the matter, from the political superstition of the people, who have always been addicted to worship idols, without inquiring into their merits. On this feeling rest the foundations of “ another place,” which will never want moat or battlement to protect it from popular influence while the public mind is governed by the ideas now prevalent. In good time, reform perhaps may come, when its great apostles shall have perished in garrets, having wasted their best energies in struggling bravely to achieve the recognition of just and beneficent principles of government. But no matter ; the patriot is not a patriot if he struggle for himself, and must be content to be a martyr if he desire to enjoy a martyr's reward, namely, to live in the recollection of his race, and become a name beloved and cherished by posterity.
Meanwhile the titled and jewelled entity, which from year to year sits in slumbering state in “another place," may perhaps be rudely awakened next winter by its new companion. We dislike the trade of a seer, and have no aptitude for it ; but looking at the rough and obstreperous gentlemen whom the sagacity of the country has selected to repr nt them in the antechamber to “ another place,” we are led to entertain certain expectations which we may as well perhaps keep to ourselves. In other parts of the domain of nature, the fleeting is modified by the permanent; but in the institutions of this country it is not so. Here that which is permanent receives its impress and bias from that which owes its birth to accident, and which comes and goes like the shadows of the clouds. Is this right? We presume so, otherwise it would be altered, for we are a wise people, slow to deliberate, and quick to act.
One circumstance included within the limits of this subject, which has seldom, if ever, been pointed out, may just now, perhaps, be thought to merit particular attention. It is this. That while one branch of our legislature is supposed to grow antiquated in the course of a few years, and therefore to need periodical renewals, the other is looked upon as all the better for its antiquity, and for being completely out of harmony with the age. Great political philosophers will doubtless be able to assign a reason for this, which, to them, will appear satisfactory, though not, we fear, to us. What they may feel inclined to say we shall leave them in their wisdom to explain, and state our own vulgar views of what is likely to happen from that sublime arrangement which they so profoundly admire. Each successive House of Commons, that is elected by the people, will possess less and less analogy to the hereditary House ; less conformity of thought ; less community of feeling; less forbearance and toleration for antediluvian usages and sentiments. The old poetical fable, which presents a living body allied to a corpse, will be realised before our eyes.
We shall behold the fantastic drollery of active and powerful realities overridden by shadows, until the time comes for à further development of our constitution, by the reconstruction of “ another place.
Towards this consummation we are rapidly tending. Until recently the popular element in the body politic seemed to be paralysed, as it exercised no influence, and was made no account of. Now, however, through a series of fortunate accidents, or