« AnteriorContinuar »
It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to account at once for the fondness for literature, and the objection Welshmen have to particular departments of information afforded them by that great magician, the printing press; but that it is so, is fully borne out by experience gleaned during our now not very brief career as public journalists. Four years ago we entered upon our editorial labours, convinced that there was no sound reason why Welshmen should not be alive to certain events important to themselves, in common with the rest of mankind; but we have had reason to doubt the correctness of our first conclusion. According to the dictum, or rather, we will say, the importunate counsel of correspondents, who, perhaps, because they had lived through the greater part of the space usually allotted to humanity, or because in their respective neighbourhoods they held dictatorial rule, felt themselves qualified to admonish us as to what was or was not admissible to the pages of the Cambrian Quarterly, and to pronounce for us the limits of circumscription, even as Offa's dyke; we were not to pass over the barbaric demarcation which ignorance or prejudice had pointed out, we were only to ascend the mountain barriers of Wales, and might enjoy from afar the beauteousness of the scene before us, but were prohibited, on pain of loss of life or mutilation, to descend and partake of the intelligence and refinements of England. Such absolutely has been the intolerable coercion which has been exercised upon us by certain black-letter Cambrians. We ever felt a XV 1 i. B
lively and a most anxious wish to preserve whatever was venerable in Cambro-British history; we mean venerable either from its axioms of truth, its moral excellence, or its historic worth, but not that which has to boast of age alone,
and not of excellence. If we confine ourselves to dark .
antiquity, if we garnish not our literary repast with the productions of other climes, our bill of fare must be but a mere medley of self-constituted prejudices unworthy of the scholar, and unfit for the participation of any, save him who utterly disregards improvement or refined enjoyment. Notwithstanding this, it is not without certain forebodings of opposition that we venture to express our sentiments upon the election, a subject eminently important to every living soul who bears the name of Briton. It will be unnecessary for us to enter into a fresh illustration of political events already before the public; we shall look prospectively, and the first thing we shall examine, as a probable consequence of the Reform bill, is the introduction to the new House of Commons of many members totally unfit for a just discharge of parliamentary duty; for we are confident that want of principle will be as much enabled to use its envenomed influence in parliament now, as before “the bill” became law. Has human nature been purified by it, or meanness scathed, as regards future aspirants 2 Will there be none led on by mercenary ambition? can they be restricted who are unconscious of political honesty? We answer, no. We affirm that in spite of the interminable rejoinder, “look to the people, look to the march,” that this same people, under the vaporing assurance of a profession of rectitude on the part of new candidates, may as easily, if not more easily than ever, be cajoled into the election of improper members, because professors have to select their politics; and the venal and unworthy will adopt that line “ and swear to it,” which will the soonest gain them attainment of their wishes. Now, how are the new constituencies to guard against this? we will tell them how. In the first place, let them not prejudice their minds as to qualification. A candidate may call himself a Tory, a Whig, a Radical, whichever best suits his purpose, either will do for an adventurer. Butlet them find out, by every means in their power, what character, as a man, the candidate has borne. Has he followed, as far as the fallibility of human nature will allow, the scriptural law of loving his neighbour? His station generally gives him command over many, by his acts therefore shall }: be judged. Has he used his talents
rightly has he been oppressive as a landlord, and augmented the poor's rates by reducing his tenantry to beggars? or, if a magistrate, how has stern justice sate upon his brow? has he been a mere jack of office, an officious and oppressive dispenser of the law, or has he tempered justice with mercy? or, if he has risen by commercial dealing, what has been his character in the mercantile world? These are the ordeals by which he ought to be tried. We care not a snuff for his politics, if he be found wanting as a man. After all, in despite of every precaution, how may party be confounded by false asseverations, and how may honest
rtinacity be unregarded. What is the Whig or what the
ory? †. are separate limbs of a political body in whom all the good or bad passions may be infused; and there may be, as there has been, every grade of moral principle in both.
Yet it is horrid to think, in connexion with dishonesty in statesmen, that, because popular imagination has been fed by a venal press, Great Britain, if she be influenced by this upas of literature, stands a good chance of being hurried on to an universal immaddened state of anarchy, while every possible amelioration that can, may be gained without it, by a careful selection of members of parliament according to the simple precedent we have recorded; and here we may be allowed to remark, how shamelessly has one portion of the press vilified the Tories, and another portion the Whigs, while there have been great and good, many great and good, men of each party; and how insidiously is it now labouring to destroy }. Let the dispassionate, the philanthropic man, visit the low ho of the metropolis during those seasons of dissipation which are there nightly going on, let him do this, and he will, as we have done, soon discover what sort of reaction is now afloat. The miserable attacks, formerly made, are now at an end. We hear nothing of “Nosey” or “Old Bags,” but, camelion-like, they have changed to “true blue,” and Grey and Brougham are vilified . in terms stupidly opprobrious and wicked. Here is reaction based upon the vilest ebullition of democratic wildness. The chief reason of it is, that some of our daily, weekly, and monthly contemporaries look not to religion or moral feeling as their guide,-out upon it. “We want an increased creulation,” let our country fall; and still are a portion of the world mad enough to be influenced by these self-interested vehicles of demoralization.
We now wish to offer our opinion upon the system of pledging; we think that to extort one from a man, as to his future conduct in legislation, before he has seen or can judge of “the premises” on which his pledges are given, is, in plain terms, to pronounce the electors and the elected knaves and idiots. Suppose the administrators to the laws, instead of the makers of them, were to pledge themselves in decision previously to hearing the bearings of a civil or criminal case—what would be said of them 2 Then, indeed, would the names of Scrogg's and Jeffrey's not stand alone, and in such cases, infamy must necessarily stain the otherwise exalted reputation of the British Judge; and yet such conduct is not uncommonly required at the hands of parliamentary representatives. The cause of this may appear to many of our readers inexplicable—to us it seems to be founded on improper interference; on direct innovation of the election law. A constituency requiring pledges, be they who they may, exhibit in their demands a most dangerous leaning to misgovernment, in its very worst form—absolute rule, devoid of reasoning power.
It may be said in contradiction to our preceding remarks, that there exists no parallel between the member and the judge, because the latter has the law already made, and has ". to execute it impartially,–let the case be so taken. In a House of Commons, consisting of pledged members, where can be the use of discussion at all? it is a mere waste of time, because the house consists of pledged members: we are not arguing against general principles, for on them pledges are unobjectionable, but to tie a man down to a system of individualised pledging, is to render him an unfit constituent of any legislative assembly on the face of the earth. It may be necessary to cite one of many instances to show the ridiculous, as also dangerous consequences of this subserviency.
It cannot be forgotten that last year an honourable member, the owner of large possessions in the mineral Basin of South Wales, who ought, therefore, to have been a person of commercial importance, was compelled to declare in an attempt to justify his vote to a constituency whom nothing short of this debased system of political nose-ringing could satisfy, that he really did not comprehend the argument, and that he had voted contrary to his intentions.
If the absurd position of this Aldermanic M. P. will permit a grave question to be put, may we ask: are the suffragans