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North. Why, as to that, James, I cannot quite agree with you, my dear Shepherd. There are always some golden points in the clay of Campbell's poetry, which are rinsed out by the running waters of my criticism; and even his newest trifles in verse will read tolerably enough, when interspersed with judgment throughout his various volumes.
Hogg. Weel, man, let us drink his health ; and, if you please, standing, with all the honours.
North. Excuse me, gentle Shepherd. A gouty foot, a rheumatic knee, ten tumblers, and threescore-and-ten years, impose upon me a sedentary habit.
As for shouting, remember the hour—nay, there is no occasion for looking at your watch; as soon as the boiler is empty, we depart.
(Mr Campbell's health is drunk cordially.) Shepherd. Wha's conceit' was the Boiler?
Tickler. Your humble servant's. Ambrose goes to bed regularly at twelve, and Richard half an hour after. Occasionally, as at present, old friends are loath to go-so, not to disturb the slumbers of as worthy a family as is in all Scotland, I ordered the boiler you now see, at Begby and Dickson's, St Andrew Square. It holds exactly six common kettlefuls -Strike it with the poker-Ay, James, you hear by the clearness of the tinkle that it is nearly low water.
Shepherd. Deel ma care. I ken where the pump is in the back green-and, if the wall's fanged, I'll bring up a gush wi' a single drive. If no, let us finish the spirits by itsel. I never saw the match o' this tall square fallow o' a green bottle for hauding spirits. The verra neck o' him hauds spirits for a jug, before you get down to his shouthers; and we’se a' three be blin' fou or we see the crystal knob inside o' the doup o' him peering up amang the subsiding waters of Glenlivet.
North. I have bequeathed you Magog in my settlement, James. With it, and Tickler's Cremona, many a cheerful night will you spend, when we two old Codgers have laid off life's pack
At our feet a green grass turf,
And at our head a stone. Shepherd. You and Mr Tickler are very gude in leaving 1 Conceit-notion.
2 When the piston of a pump-well ceases to work from having become too dry, water is poured down upon it to restore the action. This operation is called fanging the well.
me things in your wull; but I would prefer something in haun
North. Then, my dear friend, there is a receipt for your last article—the Shepherd's Calendar.
Shepherd. Twa Tens! Come noo, sirs, let me pay the reckoning.
Tickler. We have not, I think, drunk the King's ministers to-night. Allow me to give them.
Hogg. Wi' a' my heart. That man Canning will be the salvation of the cuntra.
North. There never was any period, certainly, in which the Parliament of the United Kingdoms assembled under circumstances more interesting than the present. In times of war, no doubt, the topics submitted to discussion may often be, in one point of view, of a more dazzling character-nay, they sometimes have been, singly considered, of more paramount and overwhelming importance. But in times when the empire is involved in a great conflict with external force, it is absolutely in vain to expect that questions not immediately connected with that conflict, should in Parliament command any more than a subordinate measure of attention from those who are actually intrusted with the government of the country. The opposition members compel any subjects they please into discussion ; but seldom, very seldom, is the discussion thorough or satisfactory. Intellect does not meet intellect here on fair terms. Ministers make speeches, no doubt, but the real aside is, always " wait till the national existence, or, at least, honour be safe, and then we will go with you on an equal footing into the consideration of questions affecting only particular points of her domestic machinery.” Is not this true, Tickler?
Tickler. Certainly; go on with what you were saying. I like to hear you speak right on without that botheration of the eternal cigar. This vice, sir, is the bane of all real flow of talk,
North. Nonsense-nonsense. The war has been over for ten years—it took not a few years to bring us back to feel a state of peace as natural to us after a war of such duration, it took a considerable time to bring back the habits, the interests, the feelings even, of various classes, into their proper channels. All this has now been done : the population of Britain is throughout employed, tranquil, happy, and con
ADVANTAGES OF A DIVIDED CABINET.
tented. Agriculture and trade are flourishing. Direct taxation, in all probability, will ere long have ceased to exist at all here. Everything in Britain is peace, industry, and plenty. Now is the time for the serious and deliberate discussions of civil and domestic questions; and full advantage seems to be taken of the happy time by Ministers, who can now concentrate upon these questions the same great talents that formerly distanced all their antagonists, when exerted on topics of another description—and who, exerting these great talents with their accustomed honesty and integrity, bid fair ere long to chase their adversaries out of the new field as triumphantly as they had routed them on the old.
Hogg. Verra bonny talk, Mr North ; but what say you to the divisions in the Cabinet? The house that is divided against itself cannot stand. That's the text, Christopher.
Tickler. I am really sorry for the thing, but I see no likelihood of an end to it.
North. And I don't wish to see any, that's my say.
North. My meaning is plain and simple enough, Mr Tickler. I assert, that if the government of this country is to be in the hands of anything worthy of the name of a Cabinet (intellectually considered), and not in the hands of a single Minister, a real premier; and if the members of the Cabinet are to be honest men (that is to say, Tories), it is absolutely impossible that there should not exist great differences of opinion within that Cabinet, in relation to questions such as must mainly occupy the attention of the Government and the Parliament of an empire such as this, in times and under circumstances like the present. And, sir, I farther assert, that no Cabinet could long maintain its hold upon public respect, if the existence of such difference of opinion were not well known all over the country.
North. Patience a moment, gents. The country must be represented in the Cabinet, quite as effectually as in the Parliament, otherwise the country will not have confidence in it. We all know very well that questions such as are now in agitation, are questions in regard to which very great differences of opinion do, and must, prevail in the country—in the real sound part of the population. We all know that opposite
ADVANTAGES OF A DIVIDED CABINET.
interests exist in regard to every one of them; and though we are all aware that no great public good can be done without sacrifices of some sort, we are also aware that no great public good can be done, until, through deliberate and sincere discussion, the minds of those by whom the sacrifices are to be made, are satisfied that they must be made. Now, men can never be persuaded that questions of this sort are capable of undergoing that measure of real discussion and investigation which they ought to receive ere Government is pledged to any one side, in any one of them, in any Cabinet but a divided Cabinet. We must be convinced that, in regard to Ireland for instance, the feelings, not of one, nor of two, but of all the really great classes of honest population-of honest interest—of honest feeling—(for I say nothing of the real enemies of the country, and their monkey tricks),-we must be satisfied that all these are virtually represented within the Cabinet; otherwise we cannot be convinced that the measure which Government purposes in regard to Ireland is the proper measure; that is to say, the measure best adapted to conciliate the opinion and meet the views of the greatest number among the parties who have, and must have, different interests and feelings as to the matter in question—the measure that comes nearest to the greatest number of the various measures which these parties severally propose and advocate.
Tickler. Why, certainly these are not dictator times.
North. Not they; not they, truly. Calmness and prudence must preside now. Public opinion is, after all, the court of first and the court of the last resort. We do not expect differences of opinion to cease either in or out of the Cabinet; but we expect that the elements of public opinion, however various, shall be virtually represented in the Cabinet-we expect that the Cabinet shall, like a band of skilful chemists, sit in judgment upon those elements as they separately exist, and decide what is the tertium quid that will offer least violence to the greatest number of these elements; and, this being done, we then expect that Parliament shall sanction, and the country approve the measure, which has found favour, not with the opinion of any one intellect, however elevated, but with the candour and wisdom of a set of honest men, who have laboured to understand the interest and the opinions of all, and to conciliate the interests and the opinions of as many
NORTH'S IS A DIVIDED CABINET.
as they could—who never could have done this unless there had really existed great differences of individual opinion among themselves—and who, in their own conduct in regard to the preparation of their measure, have set an example of that spirit of mutual forbearance and mutual concession which they expected to see imitated in the conduct of the Parliament at large, when their measure is discussed in the Parliament; in the conduct of the nation at large, when their measure comes to be carried into execution.
Hogg. Eh, man! what for are ye no in the House yoursel ? -Ye wad let them hear sense on baith sides o' their heads, I'm thinking.
Tickler. Well said, James. The upshot then is, Christopher, that you would rather have what Eldon, Canning, Wellington, Liverpool, Peel, Robinson, and Huskisson agree in considering the most practically prudent thing, than what any one of them thinks the thing most in unison with the dictates of absolute or abstract wisdom.
North. Even so. And the nation thinks exactly as I do.
Hogg. I wonder ye dinna resign your ain big chair, then; and let us have a divided administration of the Magazine.
North. You could not have chosen more unfortunate simile, Hogg Sir, my Cabinet is completely a divided one. I look on myself as the Liverpool of it,-you, Tickler, are decidedly the Canning,—the Adjutant is our Peel and our Wellington both in one,--Y. Y. Y. is our Eldon
Hogg. And me? what am I?
North. You are Lord Melville—we leave you the Scotch department; and when my boats are got into order at Buchanan Lodge, you shall have the Admiralty too. Are you a good sailor, Shepherd ?
Hogg. I dinna ken. I never tried yet muckle, except on fresh water.
Tickler. I should rather consider Hogg as the Representative of the country interests in general.
North. I have no objections to arrange your seats as you like best yourselves. I hope, however, that, differing upon particular matters as we do, and always must do, we shall always continue to be one in heart and in hand as to the real points.
1 The imaginary country-residence of Christopher North, on the banks of the Firth of Forth.