Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXVI. October, 1843. Vol. LIV.
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Many other cases might be presented to the reader, and especially under the action of a doctrine repeatedly pressed in this journal, but steadily neglected elsewhere—viz. the "devolution" of foreign agriculture upon lower qualities of land, (and consequently its permanent exaltation in price,) in case of any certain demand on account of England. But this one illustration is sufficient. Here we see that, under a free trade in corn, and in consequence of a free trade, ruinous enhancements of price would arise—such in magnitude as never could have arisen under a wise limitation of foreign competition. And further, we see that under our present system no enhancement is, or could be, absolutely injurious; it might be so relatively—it might be so in relation to the poor consumer; but in the mean time, that guinea which might be lost to the consumer would be gained to the farmer. Now, in the case supposed, under a free corn trade the rise is commensurate to the previous injury sustained by the farmer; and much of the extra bonus reaped goes to a foreign interest. What we insist upon, however, is this one fact, that alternately the British corn-laws have raised the price of grain and have sunk it; they have raised the price in the case where else there would have been a ruinous depreciation—ruinous to the prospects of succeeding years; they have sunk it under the natural and usual oscillations of weather to be looked for in these succeeding years. And each way their action has been most moderate. For let not the reader forget, that on the system of a sliding-scale, this action cannot be otherwise than moderate. Does the price rise? Does it threaten to rise higher? Instantly the very evil redresses itself. As the evil, i.e. the price, increases, in that exact proportion does it open the gate to relief; for exactly so does the duty fall. Does the price fall ruinously?—(in which case it is true that the instant sufferer is the farmer; but through him, as all but the short-sighted must see, the consumer will become the reversionary sufferer)—immediately the duty rises, and forbids an accessary evil from abroad to aggravate the evil at home. So gentle and so equable is the play of those weights which regulate our whole machinery, whilst the late correction applied even here by Sir Robert Peel, has made this gentle action still gentler; so that neither of the two parties—consumers who to live must buy, growers who to live must sell—can, by possibility, feel an incipient pressure before it is already tending to relieve itself. It is the very perfection of art to make a malady produce its own medicine—an evil its own relief. But that which here we insist on, is, that it never was the object of our own corn-laws to increase the price of corn; secondly, that the real object was a condition of equipoise which abstractedly is quite unconnected with either rise of price or fall of price; and thirdly, that, as a matter of fact, our corn-laws have as often reacted to lower the price, as directly they have operated to raise it; whilst eventually, and traced through succeeding years, equally the raising and the lowering have co-operated to that steady temperature (or nearest approximation to it allowed by nature) which is best suited to a comprehensive system of interests. Accursed is that man who, in speaking upon so great a question, will seek, or will consent, to detach the economic considerations of that question from the higher political considerations at issue. Accursed is that man who will forget the noble yeomanry we have formed through an agriculture chiefly domestic, were it even true that so mighty a benefit had been purchased by some pecuniary loss. But this it is which we are now denying. We affirm peremptorily, and as a fact kept out of sight only by the neglect of pursuing the case through a succession of years under the natural fluctuation of seasons, that, upon the series of the last seventy years, viewed as a whole, we have paid less for our corn by means of the corn-laws, than we should have done in the absence of such laws. It was, says Mr Cobden, the purpose of such laws to make corn dear; it is, says he, the effect, to make it cheap. Yes, in the last clause his very malice drove him into the truth. Speaking to farmers, he found it requisite to assert that they had been injured; and as he knew of no injury to them other than a low price, that he postulated at the cost of his own logic, and quite forgetting that if the farmer had lost, the consumer must have gained in that very ratio. Rather than not assert a failure quoad the intention of the corn-laws, he actually asserts a national benefit quoad the result. And, in a rapture of malice to the lawgivers, he throws away for ever, at one victorious sling, the total principles of an opposition to the law.[29]

[29] Those who fancy a possible evasion of the case supposed above, by saying, that if a failure, extensive as to England, should coincide with a failure extensive as to Poland, remedies might be found in importing from many other countries combined, forget one objection, which is decisive—these supplementary countries must be many, and they must be distant. For no country could singly supply a defect of great extent, unless it were a defect annually and regularly anticipated. A surplus never designed as a fixed surplus for England, but called for only now and then, could never be more than small. Therefore the surplus, which could not be yielded by one country, must be yielded by many. In that proportion increase the probabilities that a number will have no surplus. And, secondly, from the widening distances, in that proportion increases the extent of shipping required. But now, even from Mr Porter, a most prejudiced writer on this question, and not capable of impartiality in speaking upon any measure which he supposes hostile to the principle of free trade, the reader may learn how certainly any great hiatus in our domestic growth of corn is placed beyond all hope of relief. For how is this grain, this relief, to be brought? In ships, you reply. Ay, but in what ships? Do you imagine that an extra navy can lie rotting in docks, and an extra fifty thousand of sailors can be held in reserve, and borne upon the books of some colossal establishment, waiting for the casual seventh, ninth, or twelfth year in which they may be wanted—kept and paid against an "in case," like the extra supper, so called by Louis XIV., which waited all night on the chance that it might be wanted? That, you say, is impossible. It is so; and yet without such a reserve, all the navies of Europe would not suffice to make up such a failure of our home crops as is likely enough to follow redundant years under the system of unlimited competition.—See PORTER.

But enough, and more than enough, of THE nuisance. It will be expected, however, that we should notice two collateral points, both wearing an air of the marvellous, which have grown out of the nuisance during the recent session. One is the relaxation of our laws with respect to Canadian corn; a matter of no great importance in itself, but furnishing some reasons for astonishment in regard to the disproportioned opposition which it has excited. Undoubtedly the astonishment is well justified, if we view the measure for what it was really designed by the minister—viz. as a momentary measure, suited merely to the current circumstances of our relation to Canada. Long before any evil can arise from it, through changes in these circumstances, the law will have been modified. Else, and having, regard to the remote contingencies of the case (possible or probable) rather than to its instant certainties, we are disposed to think, that the irritation which this little anomalous law has roused amongst some of the landholders, is not quite so unaccountable, or so disproportionate, as the public have been taught to imagine. True it is, that for the present, lis est de paupere regno. Any surplus of grain which, at this moment, Canada could furnish, must be quite as powerless upon our home markets, as the cattle, living or salted which have been imported under the tariff in 1842 and 1843. But the fears of Canada potentially, were not therefore unreasonable, because the actual Canada is not in a condition for instantly using her new privileges. Corn, that hitherto had not been grown, both may be grown, and certainly will be grown, as soon as the new motive for growing it, the new encouragement, becomes operatively known. Corn, again, that from local difficulties did not find its way to eastern markets, will do so by continual accessions, swelling gradually into a powerful stream, as the many improvements of the land and water communication, now contemplated, or already undertaken, come into play. Another fear connects itself with possible evasions of the law by the United States. Cross an imaginary frontier line, and that will become Canadian which was not Canadian by its origin. We are told, indeed, that merely by its bulk, grain will always present an obstacle to any extensive system of smuggling. But obstacles are not impossibilities. And these obstacles, it must be remembered, are not founded in the vigilance of revenue officers, but simply in the cost; an element of difficulty which is continually liable to change. So that upon the whole, and as applying to the reversions of the case, rather than to its present phenomena, undoubtedly there are dangers a-head to our own landed interest from that quarter of the horizon. For the present, it should be enough to say, that these dangers are yet remote. And perhaps it would have been enough under other circumstances. But it is the tendency of the bill which suggests alarm. All changes in our day tend to the consummation of free trade: and this measure, travelling in that direction, reasonably becomes suspicious by its principle, though innocent enough by its immediate operation.

The other point connected with the corn question is personal. Among the many motions and notices growing out of the dispute, which we hold it a matter of duty to neglect, was one brought forward by Lord John Russell. Upon what principle, or with what object? Strange to say, he refused to explain. That it must be some modification applied to a fixed duty, every body knew; but of what nature Lord John declined to tell us, until he should reach a committee which he had no chance of obtaining. This affair, which surprised every body, is of little importance as regards the particular subject of the motion. But in a more general relation, it is worthy of attention. No man interested in the character and efficiency of Parliament, can fail to wish that there may always exist a strong opposition, vigilant, bold, unflinching, full of partizanship, if you will, but uniformly suspending the partizanship at the summons of paramount national interests, and acting harmoniously upon some systematic plan. How little the present unorganized opposition answers to this description, it is unnecessary to say. The nation is ashamed of a body so determinately below its functions. But Lord John Russell is individually superior to his party. He is a man of sense, of information, and of known official experience. Now, if he, so notoriously the wise man of "her Majesty's Opposition," is capable of descending to harlequin caprices of this extreme order, the nation sees with pain, that a constitutional function of control is extinct in our present senate, and that her Majesty's Ministers must now be looked to as their own controllers. With the levity of a child, Lord John makes a motion, which, if adopted, would have landed him in defeat; but through utter want of judgment and concert with his party, he does not get far enough to be defeated: he does not succeed in obtaining the prostration for which he man[oe]uvres; but is saved from a final exposure of his little statesmanship by universal mockery of his miserable partizanship. Alas for the times in which Burke and Fox wielded the forces of Parliamentary opposition, and redoubled the energies of Government by the energies of their enlightened resistance!

In quitting the subject of the corn agitation, (obstinately pursued through the session,) we may remark—and we do so with pain—that all laws whatsoever, strong or lax, upon this question are to be regarded as provisional. The temper of society being what it is, some small gang of cotton-dealers, moved by the rankest self-interest, finding themselves suffered to agitate almost without opposition, and the ancient landed interest of the country, if not silenced, being silent, it is felt by all parties that no law, in whatever direction, upon this great problem, can have a chance of permanence. The natural revenge which we may promise ourselves is—that the lunacies of the free-trader, when acted upon, as too surely they will be, may prove equally fugitive. Meantime, it is not by provisional acts, or acts of sudden emergency, that we estimate the service of a senate. It is the solemn and deliberate laws, those which are calculated for the wear and tear of centuries, which hold up a mirror to the legislative spirit of the times.

Of laws bearing this character, if we except the inaugural essays at improving the law of libel, and at founding a system of national education, of which the latter has failed for the present in a way fitted to cause some despondency, the last session offers us no conspicuous example, beyond the one act of Lord Aberdeen for healing and tranquillizing the wounds of the Scottish church. Self-inflicted these wounds undeniably were; but they were not the less severe on that account, nor was the contagion of spontaneous martyrdom on that account the less likely to spread. In reality, the late astonishing schism in the Scottish church (astonishing because abrupt) is, in one respect, without precedent. Every body has heard of persecutions that were courted; but in such a case, at least, the spirit of persecution must have had a local existence, and to some extent must have uttered menaces—or how should those menaces have been defied? Now, the "persecutions," before which a large section of the Scottish church has fallen by an act of spontaneous martyrdom, were not merely needlessly defied, but were originally self-created; they were evoked, like phantoms and shadows, by the martyrs themselves, out of blank negations. Without provocation ab extra, without warning on their own part, suddenly they place themselves in an attitude of desperate defiance to the known law of the land. The law firmly and tranquilly vindicates itself; the whole series of appeals is threaded; the original judgment, as a matter of course, is finally re-affirmed—and this is the persecution insinuated; whilst the necessity of complying with that decision, which does not express any novelty even to the extent of a new law, but simply the ordinary enforcement of an old one, is the kind of martyrdom resulting. The least evil of this fantastic martyrdom, is the exit from the pastoral office of so many persons trained, by education and habit, to the effectual performance of the pastoral duties. That loss—though not without signal difficulty, from the abruptness of the summons—will be supplied. But there is a greater evil which cannot be healed—the breach of unity in the church. The scandal, the offence, the occasion of unhappy constructions upon the doctrinal soundness of the church, which have been thus ministered to the fickle amongst her own children—to the malicious amongst her enemies, are such as centuries do not easily furnish, and centuries do not remove. In all Christian churches alike, the conscientiousness which is the earliest product of heartfelt religion, has suggested this principle, that schism, for any cause, is a perilous approach to sin; and that, unless in behalf of the weightiest interests or of capital truths, it is inevitably criminal. And in connexion with this consideration, there arise two scruples to all intelligent men upon this crisis in the Scottish church, and they are scruples which at this moment, we are satisfied, must harass the minds of the best men amongst the seceders—viz. First, whether the new points contended for, waiving all controversy upon their abstract doctrinal truth, are really such, in practical virtue, that it could be worth purchasing them at the cost of schism? Secondly, supposing a good man to have decided this question in the affirmative for a young society of Christians, for a church in its infancy, which, as yet, might not have much to lose in credit or authentic influence—whether the same free license of rupture and final secession could belong to an ancient church, which had received eminent proofs of Divine favour through a long course of spiritual prosperity almost unexampled? Indeed, this last question might suggest another paramount to the other two—viz. not whether the points at issue were weighty enough to justify schism and hostile separation, but whether those points could even be safe as mere speculative credenda, which, through so long a period of trial, and by so memorable a harvest of national services, had been shown to be unnecessary?

Very sure we are, that no eminent servant of the Scottish church could abandon, without anguish of mind, the multitude of means and channels, that great machinery for dispensing living truths, which the power and piety of the Scottish nation have matured through three centuries of pure Christianity militant. Solemn must have been the appeal, and searching, which would force its way to the conscience on occasion of taking the last step in so sad an exodus from the Jerusalem of his fathers. Anger and irritation can do much to harden the obduracy of any party conviction, especially whilst in the centre of fiery partisans. But sorrow, in such a case, is a sentiment of deeper vitality than anger; and this sorrow for the result will co-operate with the original scruples on the casuistry of the questions, to reproduce the demur and the struggle many times over, in consciences of tender sensibility.

Exactly for men in this state of painful collision with their own higher nature, is Lord Aberdeen's bill likely to furnish the bias which can give rest to their agitations, and firmness to their resolutions. The bill, according to some, is too early, and, according to others, too late. Why too early? Because, say they, it makes concessions to the church, which as yet are not proved to be called for. These concessions travel on the very line pursued by the seceders, and must give encouragement to that spirit of religious movement which it has been found absolutely requisite to rebuke by acts of the legislature. Why, on the other hand, is Lord Aberdeen's bill too late? Because, three years ago, it would, or it might, have prevented the secession. But is this true? Could this bill have prevented the secession? We believe not. Lord Aberdeen, undoubtedly, himself supposes that it might. But, granting that this were true, whose fault is it that a three years' delay has intercepted so happy a result? Lord Aberdeen assures us that the earlier success of the bill was defeated entirely by the resistance of the Government at that period, and chiefly by the personal resistance of Lord Melbourne. Let that minister be held responsible, if any ground has been lost that could have been peacefully pre-occupied against the schism. This, however, seems to us a chimera. For what is it that the bill concedes? Undoubtedly it restrains and modifies the right of patronage. It grants a larger discretion to the ecclesiastical courts than had formerly been exercised by the usage. Some contend, that in doing so the bill absolutely alters the law as it stood heretofore, and ought, therefore, to be viewed as enactory; whilst others maintain that is simply a declaratory bill, not altering the law at all, but merely expressing, in fuller or in clearer terms, what had always been law, though silently departed from by the usage, which, from the time of Queen Anne, had allowed a determinate preponderance to the rights of property in the person of the patron. Those, indeed, who take the former view, contending that it enacts a new principle of law, very much circumscribing the old right of patronage, insist upon it that the bill virtually revokes the decision of the Lords in the Auchterarder case. Technically and formally speaking, this is not true; for the presbytery, or other church court, is now tied up to a course of proceeding which at Auchterarder was violently evaded. The court cannot now peremptorily challenge the nominee in the arbitrary mode adopted in that instance. An examination must be instituted within certain prescribed limits. But undoubtedly the contingent power of the church court, in the case of the nominee not meeting the examination satisfactorily, is much larger now, under the new bill, than it was under the old practice; so that either this practice must formerly have swerved from the letter of the law, or else the new law, differing from the old, is really more than declaratory. Yet, however this may be, it is clear that the jurisdiction of the church in the matter of patronage, however ample it may seem as finally ascertained or created by the new bill, falls far within the extravagant outline marked out by the seceders. We argue, therefore, that it could not have prevented their secession even as regards that part of their pretensions; whilst, as regards the monstrous claim to decide in the last resort what shall be civil and what spiritual—that is, in a question of clashing jurisdiction, to settle on their own behalf where shall fall the boundary line—it may be supposed that Lord Aberdeen would no more countenance their claim in any point of practice, than all rational legislators would countenance it as a theory. How, therefore, could this bill have prevented the rent in the church, so far as it has yet extended? On the other hand, though apparently powerless for that effect, it is well calculated to prevent a second secession. Those who are at all disposed to follow the first seceders, stand in this situation. By the very act of adhering to the Establishment when the ultra party went out, they made it abundantly manifest that they do not go to the same extreme in their requisitions. But, upon any principle which falls short of that extreme being at all applicable to this church question, it is certain that Lord Aberdeen's measure will be found to satisfy their wishes; for that measure, if it errs at all, errs by conceding too much rather than too little. It sustains all objections to a candidate on their own merit, without reference to the quarter from which they arise, so long as they are relevant to the proper qualifications of a parish clergyman. It gives effect to every argument that can reasonably be urged against a nominee—either generally, on the ground of his moral conduct, his orthodoxy, and his intellectual attainments; or specially, in relation to his fitness for any local varieties of the situation. A Presbyterian church has always been regarded as, in some degree, leaning to a republican character, but a republic may be either aristocratic or democratic: now, Lord Aberdeen has favoured the democratic tendency of the age by making the probationary examination of the candidate as much of a popular examination, and as open to the impression of objections arising with the body of the people, as could be done with any decent regard either to the rights yet recognised in the patron, or, still more, to the professional dignity of the clerical order.

Upon the whole, therefore, we look upon Lord Aberdeen as a national benefactor, who has not only turned aside a current running headlong into a revolution, but in doing this exemplary service, has contrived to adjust the temperament very equitably between, 1st, the individual nominee, having often his livelihood at stake; 2dly, the patron, exercising a right of property interwoven with our social system, and not liable to any usurpation which would not speedily extend itself to other modes of property; 3dly, the church, considered as the trustee or responsible guardian of orthodoxy and sound learning; 4thly, the same church considered as a professional body, and, therefore, as interested in upholding the dignity of each individual clergyman, and his immunity from frivolous cavils, however much against him they are interested in detecting his insufficiency; and, 5thly, the body of the congregation, as undoubtedly entitled to have the qualifications of their future pastor rigorously investigated. All these separate claims, embodied in five distinct parties, Lord Aberdeen has delicately balanced and fixed in a temperate equipoise by the machinery of his bill. Whilst, if we enquire for the probable effects of this bill upon the interests of pure and spiritual religion, the promise seems every way satisfactory. The Jacobinical and precipitous assaults of the Non-intrusionists upon the rights of property are summarily put down. A great danger is surmounted. For if the rights of patrons were to be arbitrarily trampled under foot on a pretence of consulting for the service of religion; on the next day, with the same unprincipled levity, another party might have trampled on the patrimonial rights of hereditary descent, on primogeniture, or any institution whatever, opposed to the democratic fanaticism of our age. No patron can now thrust an incompetent or a vicious person upon the religious ministrations of the land. It must be through their own defect of energy, if any parish is henceforth burdened with an incumbent reasonably obnoxious. It must be the fault of the presbytery or other church court, if the orthodox standards of the church are not maintained in their purity. It must be through his own fault, or his own grievous defects, if any qualified candidate for the church ministry is henceforth vexatiously rejected. It must be through some scandalous oversight in the selection of presentees, if any patron is defeated of his right to present.

Contrast with these great services the menaces and the tendencies of the Non-Intrusionists, on the assumption that they had kept their footing in the church. It may be that, during this generation, from the soundness of the individual partisans, the orthodox standards of the church would have been maintained as to doctrine. But all the other parties interested in the church, except the church herself, as a depositary of truth, would have been crushed at one blow. This is apparent, except only with regard to the congregation of each parish. That body, it may be thought, could not but have benefited by the change; for the very motive and the pretence of the movement arose on their behalf. But mark how names disguise facts, and to what extent a virtual hostility may lurk under an apparent protection. Lord Aberdeen, because he limits the right of the congregation, is supposed to destroy it; but in the mean time he secures to every parish in Scotland a true and effectual influence, so far as that body ought to have it, (that is, negatively,) upon the choice of its pastor. On the other hand, the whole storm of the Non-intrusionists was pointed at those who refused to make the choice of a pastor altogether popular. It was the people, considered as a congregation, who ought to appoint the teacher by whom they were to be edified. So far, the party of seceders come forward as martyrs to their democratic principles. And they drew a colourable sanction to their democracy from the great names of Calvin, Zuinglius, and John Knox. Unhappily for them, Sir William Hamilton has shown, by quotations the most express and absolute from these great authorities, that no such democratic appeal as the Non-intrusionists have presumed, was ever contemplated for an instant by any one amongst the founders of the Reformed churches. That Calvin, whose jealousy was so inexorable towards princes and the sons of princes—that John Knox, who never "feared the face of man that was born of woman"—were these great Christian champions likely to have flinched from installing a popular tribunal, had they believed it eligible for modern times, or warranted by ancient times? In the learning of the question, therefore, Non-intrusionists showed themselves grossly wrong. Meantime it is fancied that at least they were generously democratic, and that they manifested their disinterested love of justice by creating a popular control that must have operated chiefly against their own clerical order. What! is that indeed so? Now, finally, take another instance how names belie facts. The people were to choose their ministers; the council for election of the pastor was to be a popular council abstracted from the congregation: but how? but under what conditions? but by whom abstracted? Behold the subtle design:—This pretended congregation was a small faction; this counterfeit "people" was the petty gathering of COMMUNICANTS; and the communicants were in effect within the appointment of the clergyman. They formed indirectly a secret committee of the clergy. So that briefly, Lord Aberdeen, whilst restraining the popular courts, gives to them a true popular authority; and the Non-intrusionists, whilst seeming to set up a democratic idol, do in fact, by dexterous ventriloquism, throw their own all-potential voice into its passive organs.

We may seem to owe some apology to our readers for the space which we have allowed to this great moral emeute in Scotland. But we hardly think so ourselves. For in our own island, and in our own times, nothing has been witnessed so nearly bordering on a revolution. Indeed, it is painful to hear Dr Chalmers, since the secession, speaking of the Scottish aristocracy in a tone of scornful hatred, not surpassed by the most Jacobinical language of the French Revolution in the year 1792. And, if this movement had not been checked by Parliament, and subsequently by the executive Government, in its comprehensive provision for the future, by the measure we have been reviewing, we cannot doubt that the contagion of the shock would have spread immediately to England, which part of the island has been long prepared and manured, as we might say, for corresponding struggles, by the continued conspiracy against church-rates. In both cases, an attack on church property, once allowed to prosper or to gain any stationary footing, would have led to a final breach in the life and serviceable integrity of the church.

Of the Factory bill, we are sorry that we are hardly entitled to speak. In the loss of the educational clauses, that bill lost all which could entitle it to a separate notice; and, where the Government itself desponds as to any future hope of succeeding, private parties may have leave to despair. One gleam of comfort, however, has shone out since the adjournment of Parliament. The only party to the bitter resistance under which this measure failed, whom we can sincerely compliment with full honesty of purpose—viz. the Wesleyan Methodists—have since expressed (about the middle of September) sentiments very like compunction and deep sorrow for the course they felt it right to pursue. They are fully aware of the malignity towards the Church of England, which governed all other parties to the opposition excepting themselves; and in the sorrowful result of that opposition, which has terminated in denying all extension of education to the labouring youth of the nation, they have learned (like the conscientious men that they are) to suspect the wisdom and the ultimate principle of the opposition itself. Fortunately, they are a most powerful body; to express regret for what they have done, and hesitation at the casuistry of those motives which reconciled them to their act at the moment is possibly but the next step to some change in their counsels; in which case this single body, in alliance with the Church of England, would be able to carry the great measure which has been crushed for the present by so unexampled a resistance. Much remains to be said, both upon the introductory statements of Lord Ashley, with which (in spite of our respect for that nobleman) we do not coincide, and still more upon the extensive changes, and the principles of change, which must be brought to bear upon a national system of education, before it can operate with that large effect of benefit which so many anticipate from its adoption. But this is ample matter for a separate discussion.

Lastly, let us notice the Irish Arms' bill; which, amongst the measures framed to meet the momentary exigence of the times, stands foremost in importance. This is one of those fugitive and casual precautions, which, by intense seasonableness, takes its rank amongst the permanent means of pacification. Bridling the instant spirit of uproar, carrying the Irish nation over that transitional state of temptation, which, being once gone by, cannot, we believe, be renewed for generations, this, with other acts in the same temper, will face whatever peril still lingers in the sullen rear of Mr O'Connell's dying efforts. For that gentleman, personally, we believe him to be nearly extinct. Two months ago we expressed our conviction, so much the stronger in itself for having been adopted after some hesitation, that Sir Robert Peel had taken the true course for eventually and finally disarming him. We are thankful that we have now nothing to recant. Progress has been made in that interval towards that consummation, quite equal to any thing we could have expected in so short a lapse of weeks. Mr O'Connell is now showing the strongest symptoms of distress, and of conscious approach to the condition of "check to the king." Of these symptoms we will indicate one or two. In January 1843, he declared solemnly that an Irish Parliament should instal itself at Dublin before the year closed. Early in May, he promised that on the anniversary of that day the great change should be solemnized. On a later day in May, he proclaimed that the event would come off (according to a known nautical mode of advertising the time of sailing) not upon a settled day of that month but "in all May" of 1844. Here the matter rested until August 12, when again he shifted his day to the corresponding day of 1844. But September arrived, and then "before those shoes were old" in which he had made his promise, he declares by letter, to some correspondent, that he must have forty-three months for working out his plan. Anther symptom, yet more significant, is this: and strange to say it has been overlooked by the daily press. Originally he had advertised some pretended Parliament of 300 Irishmen, to which admission was to be had for each member by a fee of L.100. And several journals are now telling him that, under the Convention Act, he and his Parliament will be arrested on the day of assembling. Not at all. They do not attend to his harlequin motions. Already he has declared that this assembly, which was to have been a Parliament, is only to be a conciliatory committee, an old association under some new name, for deliberating on means tending to a Parliament in some future year, as yet not even suggested.

May we not say, after such facts, that the game is up? The agitation may continue, and it may propagate itself. But for any interest of Mr O'Connell's, it is now passing out of his hands.

In the joy with which we survey that winding up of the affair, we can afford to forget the infamous display of faction during the discussion of the Arms' bill. Any thing like it, in pettiness of malignity, has not been witnessed during this century: any thing like it, in impotence of effect, probably will not be witnessed again during our times. Thirteen divisions in one night—all without hope, and without even a verbal gain! This conduct the nation will not forget at the next election. But in the mean time the peaceful friends of this yet peaceful empire rejoice to know, that without war, without rigour, without an effort that could disturb or agitate—by mere silent precautions, and the sublime magnanimity of simply fixing upon the guilty conspirator one steadfast eye of vigilant preparation, the conspiracy itself is melting into air, and the relics of it which remain will soon become fearful only to him who has evoked it.

The game, therefore, is up, if we speak of the purposes originally contemplated. This appears equally from the circumstances of the case without needing the commentary of Mr O'Connell, and from the acts no less than the words of that conspirator. True it is—and this is the one thing to be feared—that the agitation, though extinct for the ends of its author, may propagate itself through the maddening passions of the people, now perhaps uncontrollably excited. Tumults may arise, at the moment when further excitement is impossible, simply through that which is already in operation. But that stage of rebellion is open at every turn to the coercion of the law: and it is not such a phasis of conspiracy that Mr O'Connell wishes to face, or can face. Speaking, therefore, of the real objects pursued in this memorable agitation, we cannot but think that as the roll of possible meetings is drawing nearer to exhaustion, as all other arts fail, and mere written addresses are renewed, (wanting the inflammatory contagion of personal meetings, and not accessible to a scattered peasantry;) but above all, as the day of instant action is once again adjourned to a period both remote and indefinite, the agitation must be drooping, and virtually we may repeat that the game is up. But the last moves have been unusually interesting. Not unlike the fascination exercised over birds by the eye of the rattlesnake, has been the impression upon Mr O'Connell from the fixed attention turned upon him by Government. What they did was silent and unostentatious; more, however, than perhaps the public is aware of in the way of preparation for an outbreak. But the capital resource of their policy was, to make Mr O'Connell deeply sensible that they were watching him. The eye that watched over Waterloo was upon him: for six months that eagle glance has searched him and nailed him: and the result, as it is now revealing itself, may at length be expressed in the two lines of Wordsworth otherwise applied—

"The vacillating bondsman of the Pope Shrinks from the verdict of that steadfast eye."

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.

Transcriber's Note

Minor typographic errors have been corrected. Please note there is some archaic spelling, which has been retained as printed. There are a few snippets of Greek; this has been transliterated and is surrounded by + signs. There are also a few instances of the letter a with macron (straight line) over it. These are indicated by ā. The few oe ligatures have not been retained in this version.


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