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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXIX. January, 1844. Vol. LV. by Various

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round the entire circle of our foreign connexions and
operations--there are one or two points to which we will briefly
refer, as striking instances of the vigilant and indefatigable energy,
and the powerful diplomatic influence of Lord Aberdeen, especially
with reference to the securing commercial advantages to this
country--and which has extorted the following testimony, during the
present month (December,) from another French journal, by no means
favourably disposed to this country:--"The English Government is
incontestably the best served of all Governments in the means of
obtaining new, and extending old markets, and in the rapid and
complete knowledge of the course to be adopted to ensure the sale of
the immense products of Great Britain in different parts of the
globe." Take for instance the case of Russia. We have actually
succeeded in wringing from the tenacious and inflexible Cabinet of St
Petersburg an important commercial advantage! On Lord Aberdeen's
accession to office, he found Russia in the act of aiming a fatal
blow at a very important branch of our shipping trade, by levying a
differential duty on all British vessels conveying to Russian ports
any goods which were not the produce of the British dominions. After,
however, a skilful and very arduous negotiation, our foreign secretary
has succeeded in averting that blow--and we retain the great
advantages of which we were about to be deprived. Nor has this signal
advantage been purchased by any sacrifice on the part of Great
Britain, but only by a permission, founded on most equitable
principles, for Russian vessels arriving here from Russian ports with
the produce of Russian Poland, to possess the same privileges as if
they had come direct from Russian ports: Russian Poland being able to
communicate effectively with the sea, only through the Prussian
territory. Look again at Brazil--which has also been recently the
object of persevering and energetic negotiation on the part of Lord
Aberdeen. It is true that, at present, his exertions have been
attended with no direct success; but we have doubts whether the
importance of the proposed Brazilian treaty has not, after all, been
greatly exaggerated. However this may be, Lord Aberdeen is, at this
moment, as strenuously at work with the young emperor, as could be
desired by the most eager advocate of a commercial treaty with Brazil.
But, suppose the emperor's advisers should be disposed to continue
their obstinate and unreasonable opposition, observe the gentle
pressure upon them, to be felt by and by, which Lord Aberdeen has
contrived to effect by the commercial treaty which he has concluded
with the contiguous republic of Monte Video, and other states on the
right bank of the river Plata, for the admission (on most favourable
terms) of British imports into these states. One of them is the
Uruguay republic, which borders through a great extent of country on
Brazil, the Government of which is utterly unable to prevent the
transfer of merchandise across the border; whereby the exclusion of
British goods from the Brazilian territory is rendered a matter of
physical impossibility.

[21] Great Britain at the commencement of the 19th
Century--January 1843--No. CCC.

It is true, that our efforts to enter into commercial treaties with

France and Portugal have not, as yet, been successful; but, formidable
as are the obstacles at present in existence, we do not despair. Those
least wonder at the present position of affairs who are best
acquainted with the artificial and complicated positions of the
respective countries, and their relations, and consequent policy,
towards each other. Whatever can be done by man, is at this moment
being done by Lord Aberdeen; and sooner than we have at present a
right to expect, his indefatigable exertions may be crowned with
success--not only in these, but in other quarters. All foreign
Governments must be strongly influenced in such matters, by
contemplating a steady and strong Government established in this
country; and that object they see more nearly and distinctly every
day. Such (without entering into details which would be inconsistent
with either our space or our present object) is the general
result--namely, the rapidly returning tide of prosperous commercial
intercourse of the foreign policy of Conservative Government, which
has raised Great Britain, within the short space of two years, to even
a higher elevation among the nations of the world, than she had
occupied before a "Liberal Ministry undertook the government of the
country"--"a policy," to adopt the equally strong and just language of
an able writer, "replete with auspicious evidences of the efficacy of
intellect, combined with firmness, activity, and integrity, in
restoring to wholesome and honourable order a chaotic jumble of
anomalies--of humiliations and dangers--of fears, hatred, and
confusion thrice trebly confounded."[22]

[22] Thoughts on Tenets of Ministerial Policy. By a Very Quiet
Looker-on.--P. 22. Aylott, London, 1843.

While thus successfully active abroad, have Ministers been either idle
or unsuccessful at home? Let us look at their two main measures--the
_new tariff_ and the _new corn-law_.

The object of the first of these great measures was twofold--to give a
healthy and speedy but permanent stimulus to trade and commerce; and,
at the same time, to effect such a reduction of price in the leading
articles of consumption as should greatly reduce the cost of living--a
boon, of course, inexpressibly precious to the poorer classes. Mark
the moment at which this bold and critical line of policy was
conceived and carried into execution--namely, a moment when the nation
was plunged into such a depth of gloom and distress as had very nearly
induced utter despair! when there was a deficiency of _five millions
sterling in_ the revenue of the two preceding years, and a certainty
of greatly augmented expenditure for the future, owing to our wars in
the East and elsewhere. We say--_mark this_, in order to appreciate a
display of the true genius of statesmanship. Foreseeing one effect of
such a measure, namely, a serious reduction in the revenue derived
from the customs, and which would commence with the bare
_announcement_ of such a measure, the Government had to consider
whether it would prove a permanent or only a temporary reduction, and
to act accordingly. After profound consideration, they satisfied
themselves (whether justly or not remains to be seen) that the
diminution of revenue would prove only temporary; and to secure the
_immediate_ benefits of the measure, they imposed a temporary
income-tax, the onerous pressure of which was to cease as soon as
matters should have come round again. That period they fixed at the
expiration of three years. After an interval of two years, do their
calculations appear to have been well or ill founded? Let us see.
Early in March 1842 they announced the proposed new tariff, (instantly
producing the effect on the customs duties which had been
anticipated;) and succeeded in bringing it into operation on the 9th
of the ensuing July. The deficiency of revenue which ensued was so
very serious that it would have alarmed the whole country, but for
their confidence in the firmness and sagacity of Ministers,
particularly as evidenced by their announced measures. We have not at
the present moment before us the earliest _quarterly_ revenue returns
of the period referred to; but it will suffice to state, that such had
been the extent of the reductions effected, that the deficiency on the
_year_ ending on the 5th October 1843, amounted to no less a sum than
L.1,136,000; the decrease on the _quarter_ ending on that day being
L.414,000. Still, however, each succeeding quarter--or at least the
latter quarters--gave more satisfactory indications of a rallying
revenue; and we are enabled to announce the highly gratifying fact
that, up to the 8th of the present month (December,) the customs
duties returns _are of the most decisively improving character_. The
receipts of duties for the port of London alone, during that period,
exceeds the receipt on the corresponding period of last year by
L.206,000; while the returns from all the outports, especially from
Liverpool, are of the same cheering character, and warrant us in
predicting that the returns to be presented on the 5th of the ensuing
month will afford a most triumphant proof of the accuracy of the
Minister's calculations and the success of his policy; for be it borne
in mind, moreover, that his income-tax realized, in the year ending on
the 5th October last, the immense sum of L.5,052,000. As far,
therefore, as concerns the direct _financial_ effects of the new
tariff and its counterbalancing income-tax, the results of Sir Robert
Peel's policy are such as may stagger and confound the boldest of his

Now, however, for the two great objects of the new tariff, which were
declared by Sir Robert Peel[23] to be "the revival of commerce, and
such an improvement in the manufacturing interest, as would react on
every other interest in the country; and diminishing the prices of the
articles of consumption and the cost of living."

[23] Hansard, Vol. lxi. Col. 439.

With respect to the first of these objects, we had prepared a copious
explanation of the highly satisfactory working of one great portion of
the machine of the new tariff, viz. _the relaxation of the taxes on
the raw materials of manufacture_; but it has occurred to us, that the
necessity of our doing so has been entirely superseded by the
following very remarkable admission, contained in a number of the
_Morning Chronicle_ newspaper, published towards the close of
September last; an invaluable admission, tending to prove, out of the
mouth of the bitterest opponent of the present Ministry, the general
success of their domestic policy:--"Notwithstanding insurrection in
Wales and agitation in Ireland, there are various circumstances in the
present aspect of our national affairs of an encouraging and cheering
nature. The first and most prominent thing which strikes an observer,
is, the undoubted general revival of trade and commerce. Every thing
seems to indicate that the morning is breaking; that the dreary night
of disaster and suffering, through which all our material interests
have been passing since 1836, is now well-nigh over. The hum of busy
industry is once more heard throughout our manufacturing districts;
our seaports begin once more to stir with business; merchants on
'Change have smiling faces; and the labouring population are once more
finding employment easier of access; and wages are gently, slowly
rising. This has not come upon us suddenly; it has been in operation
since the end of last year; but so terrible was the depression, so
gradual the improvement, that the effects of the revival could not be
perceptible till within a recent period. Our exports of cotton and
wool, during the present year, very considerably exceed those of a
similar period in the preceding; and though there might be increase of
export without increase of profit, the simple fact that the districts
of our great manufacturing staples are now more active and busy than
they have been for a very considerable period, coupled with the
apparently well-founded belief that this increased activity is
produced, not by speculative but genuine demand, are indications of
the most pleasing and gratifying kind to all who are in the least
concerned about the prosperity of the country. In addition to the
improvement manifested in our staple articles of industry, other
important interests are showing symptoms of decided improvement; even
the iron-trade has got over its 'crisis;' and though we are very far
indeed from having attained to a condition of prosperity, the steady,
though slow, revival of every branch of industry, is a proof that the
cause of the improvement must be a general one, operating
universally." May we venture to suggest, that the worthy editor of the
_Morning Chronicle_ need not go about with a lantern to discover this
_cause_?--that it is every where before his very eyes, under his very
nose, in the form of the bold, but sagacious and consistent, policy
pursued by the present Government?

With respect to the second great object of the new tariff, viz., the
"Diminishing of the prices of the articles of consumption and the cost
of living."

Has _this_ great object, or has it not, been attained? Why, the
reduced price of provisions is a matter of universal notoriety, and
past all question. Unable to contest the existence of this most
consolatory fact, the Opposition papers endeavoured to get up a
diversion by frightening the farmers, whom they assured, that the
admission of foreign live-stock would lead to a fearful depreciation
in the value of British agricultural produce. The graziers and
cattle-dealers were forthwith to find "their occupations gone."
British pasture farming was to be annihilated, and an immense stimulus
given to that of our continental rivals. Hereat the farmers pricked up
their ears, and began to consider for a moment whether they should not
join in the outcry against the new tariff. But the poor beasts that
have come, doubtless much to their own surprise, across the water to
us, looked heartily ashamed of themselves, on catching a glimpse of
their plump, sleek brother beasts in England--and the farmers burst
out a-laughing at sight of _the lean kine that were to eat up the fat
ones_! The practical result has been, that between the 9th of July
1842, and the present time, there have not come over foreign cattle
enough to make one week's show at Smithfield. But mark, _the power_ of
admitting foreign cattle and poultry, (on payment, however, of a
considerable duty,[24]) conferred by the new tariff, is one that must
be attended with infinite permanent benefits to the public, in its
_moderating influence upon the prices of animal food_. Its working is
in beautiful harmony with that of the newly modeled corn-laws, as we
shall presently explain. In years of abundance, when plenty of meat is
produced at home, the new tariff will be inoperative, as far as
regards the actual importations of foreign cattle; but in years of
scarcity at home, the expectation of a good price will induce the
foreigner to send us a sufficient supply; for he will then be, and
then only, able to repay himself the duty, and the heavy cost of
sea-carriage. As prices fall, the inducement to import also declines.
In short, "the inducement to importation falls with the fall, and
rises with the rise of price. The painful contingency of continued bad
seasons has thus, in some measure, been provided against. The new
tariff is so adjusted, that when prices threaten to mount to an unfair
and extravagant height, unjust to consumers, and dangerous to
producers, in such contingencies a mediating power steps in, and
brings things to an equilibrium."[25] These great and obvious
advantages of the new tariff, the opponents of Ministers, and
especially their reckless and discreditable allies called the
"Anti-corn-law League," see as plainly as we do; but their anxious aim
is to conceal these advantages as much as possible from public view;
and for this purpose they never willingly make _any allusion_ to the
tariff, or if forced to do so, underrate its value, or grossly
misrepresent its operation. But we are convinced that _this will not
do_. Proofs of their humbug and falsehood are, as it were, daily
forcing themselves into the very stomachs_ of those whom once, when
an incompetent Ministry was in power, these heartless impostors were
able to delude. "A single shove of the bayonet," said Corporal Trim to
Doctor Slop, "is worth all your fine discourses about the art of war;"
and so the English operative may reply to the hireling "Leaguers,"
"This good piece of cheap beef and mutton, now smoking daintily before
me, is worth all your palaver."

[24] Poultry L5 for every L100 value; oxen and bulls, L1 each;
cows, 15s.; calves, 10s.; horses, mares, foals, colts, and
geldings, L1 each; sheep, 3s. each; lambs, 2s. each; swine and
hogs, 5s. each--(Stat. 5 and 6 Vict. c. 47, Table A.)

[25] Thoughts, &c., by a Quiet Looker-on, pp. 16, 17.

Before passing from the subject of the new tariff, let us observe,
that the suddenness and vastness of its changes (some of which we
consider to be of questionable propriety) for a time unavoidably
deranged mercantile operations; and in doing so, as necessarily
produced many cases of individual dissatisfaction and distress. Some
of the persons thus situated angrily quitted the Conservative ranks
for those of the Opposition; others, for a position of mortified
neutrality: but we believe that many more, notwithstanding this sharp
trial of their constancy, remained true to their principles, faithful
to their party, and are now rewarded by seeing things coming rapidly
round again, while unvarying and complete success has attended every
other branch of the policy of Ministers. We know a good deal of the
real state of opinion among the mercantile classes of the City of
London; and believe we correctly represent it averse to further
changes in our tariff-system, and coincident with the views expressed
by Mr Baring in his address to the electors, when he deprecated "a
constant change, unsettling men's minds, baffling all combinations,
destroying all calculations, paralysing trade, and continuing the
stagnation from which we are recovering;" and declared his belief
"that the minister who applies the principles of free-trade with the
most caution, deliberation, and judgment, is the statesman who merits
the confidence of the commercial world." We now, however, quit the
subject--interesting, indeed, and all-important--of the tariff, with
the deliberate expression of our opinion, that it is, taken as a
whole, a very bold, masterly, and successful stroke of policy. Now for

But how shall we deal with a topic with which the public has been so
utterly sickened by the people calling themselves "The Anti-corn-law
League?" We do not, nevertheless, despair of securing the attention of
our readers to the few observations which we have to offer upon a
subject which, however hackneyed, is one of paramount importance. We
are satisfied that nine out of every ten even of newspaper readers
turn with disgust from the columns headed "Anti-corn-law League,"
"Doings of the League," "Great Meeting of the Anti-corn-law League,"
and so forth; and, (making every allowance for the exigencies
occasioned by the dearth of topics while Parliament is not sitting,)
we are exceedingly surprised, that the great London newspapers should
inflict upon their readers so much of the slang and drivel of the
gentry in question. In the due prosecution of our subject, we cannot
avoid the topic of the new corn-law, even were we so disposed; and we
shall at once proceed to our task, with two objects in view--to
vindicate the course pursued by Sir Robert Peel, and set forth,
briefly and distinctly, those truly admirable qualities of the
existing Corn-laws, which are either most imprudently misrepresented,
or artfully kept out of view, by those who are now making such
desperate efforts to overthrow it. "Mark how a plain tale shall set
them down!"

Whether foreign corn should be admitted into this country on payment
of _fluctuating_ duties, or a _fixed_ duty, or free of all duties, are
obviously questions of the highest importance, involving extensive and
complicated considerations. Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, and
the persons banded together under the name of "The Anti-corn-law
League," may be taken as representing the classes of opinion which
would respectively answer these three questions in the affirmative.
All of them appealed to the nation at large on the last general
election. The _form_ in which the question was proposed to the
country, it fell to the lot of the advocates of a fixed duty to
prescribe, and they shaped it thus in the Queen's speech:--

"It will be for you to determine whether the corn-laws do not
aggravate the natural fluctuations of supply; whether they do
not embarrass trade, derange currency, and, by their
operation, diminish the comforts and increase the privations
of the great body of the community."

To this question the country returned a deliberate and peremptory
answer in the NEGATIVE; expressing thereby its will, that the existing
system, which admits foreign corn on payment of _fluctuating_ duties,
should continue. The country thus adopted the opinions of Sir Robert
Peel, rejected those of Lord John Russell, and utterly scouted those
of the "Anti-corn-law League," in spite of all their frantic

We believe that this deliberate decision of the nation, is that to
which it will come whenever again appealed to; and is supported by
reasons of cogency. The nation is thoroughly aware of the immense
importance of upholding and protecting the agriculture of the country,
and that to secure this grand object, it is necessary to admit foreign
corn into the country, only when our deficiencies absolutely require
it. That _in_ the operation of the "_sliding-scale_ of duties," and
the exact distinction between its effect and that of the proposed
_fixed_ duty, is demonstrably this: that the former would admit
foreign corn in dear years, excluding it in seasons of abundance;
while the latter would admit foreign corn in seasons of abundance, and
exclude it in dear years. Our _present_ concern, however, is with the
course taken by the present Government. Have they hitherto yielded to
the clamour with which they have been assailed, and departed from the
principle of affording efficient protection to the agriculture of the
country? Not a hair's breadth; _nor will they_. We have seen that Sir
Robert Peel, previously to the general election, declared his
determination to adhere to the existing system of corn-laws,
regulating the admission of foreign corn by the power of the
sliding-scale of duties; but both he and the leading members of his
party, had distinctly stated in Parliament, just before its
dissolution, that while resolved to adhere to the _principle_ of a
sliding-scale, they would not pledge themselves to adhere to all the
_details_ of that scale. And they said well and wisely, for there were
grave objections to some of those details. These objections they have
removed, and infinitely added to the efficiency of the sliding-scale;
but in removing the principal objections, they stirred a hornet's
nest--they rendered furious a host of sleek gamblers in grain, who
found their "occupation gone" suddenly! On the other hand, the
Government conferred a great substantial benefit upon the country, by
securing a just balance between protection to the British corn
consumer and producer; removing, at the same time, from the latter, a
long-existing source of jealousy and prejudice. A few words will
suffice to explain the general scope of those alterations. Under they
system established by statute 9 Geo. IV. c. 60, in the year 1828, the
duty on foreign corn, up to the price of 68s. per quarter, was so
high, and declined so very slowly, (L.1, 5s. 8d., L.1. 4s. 8d., L.1,
3s. 8d., L.1, 2s. 8d., L.1, 1s. 8d., L.1, 0s. 8d., 18s. 8d.,) as to
amount to a virtual prohibition against importation. But when the
price mounted from 68s. to 72s. per quarter, the duty declined with
such great rapidity. (16s 8d., 13s. 8d., 10s. 8d., 6s. 8d., 2s. 8d.,)
as to occasion the alarming and frequently recurring evils of glut and
panic. Now the following was the mode in which these serious defects
in the law of 1828 were taken advantage of by the aforesaid desperate
and greedy "rogues in grain," who are utterly prostrated by the new
system; they entered into a combination, for the purpose of raising
the apparent average price of corn, and forcing it up to the point at
which they could import vast quantities of foreign corn at little or
no duty. Thus the price of corn was rising in England--the people were
starving--and turned with execration against those into whose pockets
the high prices were supposed to go, viz., the poor farmers; whereas
those high prices really were all the while flowing silently but
rapidly into the pockets of the aforesaid "rogues in grain"--the
gamblers of the Corn Exchange!--Ministers effected their salutary
alterations, by statute 5 and 6 Vict. c. 14, in the following
manner:--They substituted for the former duties of 10s. 8d. per
quarter, when the price of corn was 70s. per quarter, and 1s. when the
price was 73s.; a duty of 4s. when the price of corn is 70s. per
quarter, and made the duty fall gradually, shilling by shilling, with
the rise of price, to 3s., 2s., and 1s. Thus are at one blow destroyed
all the inducements formerly existing for corn-dealers to "hold" their
foreign corn, in the hopes of forcing up the price of corn to
starvation-point, viz., the low duty, every inducement being now given
them to _sell_, and none to speculate. Another important provision for
preventing fraudulent combinations to raise the price of corn, was
that of greatly extending the averages, and placing them under
regulations of salutary stringency.

So far, then, from evincing a disposition to trifle with, or
surrender, the principle of the sliding-scale, the Government have,
with infinite pains and skill, applied themselves to effect such
improvements in it as will secure its permanency, and a better
appreciation of its value by the country at large, with every
additional year's experience of its admirable qualities. There is a
perfect identity of principle, both working to the same good end,
between the existing corn-law and the new tariff. Their combined
effect is to oppose every barrier that human wisdom and foresight can
devise, against dearth and famine in England: securing an abundant
supply of corn and meat from abroad, whenever our own supply is
deficient; but up to that point protecting our home producers, whose
direct interest it will henceforth be to supply us at fair and
moderate prices. It is the cunning policy of the heterogeneous
opponents of the existing corn-laws, to speak of them as "doomed" by a
sort of universal tacit consent; to familiarise the public with the
notion that the recent remodeling of the system is to be regarded as
constituting it into nothing more than a sort of transition-measure--a
stepping-stone towards a great fundamental change, by the adoption of
"a fixed duty," some say--"a total repeal," say the Anti-corn-law
League. But those who think thus, must be shallow and short-sighted
indeed, and have paid very little real attention to the subject, if
they have failed to perceive in the existing system itself all the
marks of completeness, solidity, and permanence; and, in the
successful pains that have been taken to bring it to a higher degree
of perfection than before, a determination to uphold it--a conviction
that it will long continue the law of the land, and approved of as
such by the vast majority of those who represent the wealth and
intellect of the kingdom, and have the deepest stake in its

As for a total repeal of the corn-laws, no thinking man believes that
there is the remotest prospect of such a thing; but many imagine that
a fixed duty would be a great change for the better, and a safe sort
of compromise between the two extreme parties. Can any thing be more
fallacious? We hesitate not to express our opinion, that the idea of
maintaining a fixed duty on corn is an utter absurdity, and that Lord
John Russell and his friends know it to be so, and are guilty of
political dishonesty in making such a proposal. They affect to be
friends of the agricultural interest, and satisfied of the necessity
for protection to that body; and yet they acknowledge that their
"_fixity_" of duty is of precisely the same nature as the "finality"
of the Reform bill, viz.--to last only till the first pressure shall
call for an order in council. Does any one in his senses believe that
any Minister could abide by a fixed duty with corn at the price of
70s., with a starving, and therefore an agitating and rebellious
population? A fixed duty, under all times and circumstances, is a
glaring impossibility; and, besides, is it not certain that the period
for the issue of an order in council will be a grand object of
speculation to the corn importer; and that he will hoard, and create
distress, merely to force out that order? And the issuing of that
order would depend entirely on the strength or the necessity of the
Minister: on his "Squeezableness"--his anxiety for popularity. Does
the experience of the last ten years justify the country in placing
confidence, on such a point, in a _Whig_ Ministry? In every point of
view, the project of a fixed duty is exposed to insuperable
objections. It is plain that on the very first instant of there being
a pressure upon the "fixed duty," it must give way, and for ever. Once
off, it is gone for ever; it can never be re-imposed. Again, what is
to govern the _amount_ at which it is to be fixed? Must it be the
additional burden on land? or the price at which foreign countries,
with their increased facilities of transport, and improved cultivation
of their soil, would be able to deliver it in the British markets?
What _data_ have we, in either case, on which to decide? Let it,
however, always be borne in mind, by those who are apt too easily to
entertain the question as to either a fixed duty, or a total repeal of
duty, that the advantages predicted by the respective advocates of
those measures are _mere assumptions_. We have no experience by which
to try the question. The doctrines of free trade are of very recent
growth; the _data_ on which its laws are founded are few, and also
uncertain. And does any one out of Bedlam imagine, that any Minister
of this country would consent to run such tremendous risks--to try
such experiments upon an article of such immense importance to its
well-being? Let us never lose sight of Lord Melbourne's memorable
words:--"Whether the object be to have a fixed duty, or an alteration
as to the ascending and descending scale, I see clearly and
distinctly, that the object will not be carried without a most violent
struggle--without causing much ill-blood, and a deep sense of
grievance--without stirring society to its foundation, and leaving
every sort of bitterness and animosity. I do not think the advantages
to be gained by the change are worth the evils of the struggle."[26]

[26] Debates, 11th June 1840.

To return, however. Under the joint operation of the three great
measures of the Government--the income-tax, the new tariff, and the
new corn-law, our domestic affairs exhibit, at this moment, such an
aspect of steadily returning prosperity, as not the most sanguine
person living could have imagined possible two years ago. For the
first time after a miserable interval, we behold our revenue exceeding
our expenditure; while every one feels satisfied of the fact, that our
finances are now placed upon a sound and solid basis, and daily
improving. Provisions are of unexampled cheapness, and the means of
obtaining them are--thank Almighty God!--gradually increasing among
the poorer classes. Trade and commerce are now, and have for the last
six months been steadily improving; and we perceive that a new era of
prosperity is beginning to dawn upon us. We have a strong and united
Government, evidently as firmly fixed in the confidence of the Queen
as in that of the country, and supported by a powerful majority in the
House of Commons--an annihilating one in the House of Lords. The reign
of order and tranquillity has been restored in Wales, and let us also
add, in Ireland, after an unexampled display of mingled determination
and forbearance on the part of the Government. Chartism is defunct,
notwithstanding the efforts made by its dishonoured and discomfited
leaders to revive it. When, in short, has Great Britain enjoyed a
state of more complete internal calm and repose than that which at
present exists, notwithstanding the systematic attempts made to
diffuse alarm and agitation? Do the public funds exhibit the slightest
symptoms of uneasiness or excitement? On the contrary, ever since the
accession of the present Government, there has been scarce any
variation in them, even when the disturbances in the manufacturing
districts in the north of England, and in Wales, and in Ireland, were
respectively at their height. Her Majesty moves calmly to and
fro--even quitting England--her Ministers enjoy their usual intervals
of relaxation and absence from town--all the movements of Government
go on like clockwork--no symptoms visible any where of feverish
uneasiness. But what say you, enquires a timid friend, or a bitter
opponent, to the Repeal agitation in Ireland, and the Anti-corn-law
agitation in England? Why, we say this--that we sincerely regret the
mischief which the one has done, and is doing, in Ireland, and the
other in England, among their ignorant and unthinking dupes; but with
no degree of alarm for the stability of the Government, or the
maintenance of public tranquillity and order. Ministers are perfectly
competent to deal with both the one and the other of these two
conspiracies, as the chief actors in the one have found already, and
those in the other will find, perhaps, by and by; if, indeed, they
should ever become important or successful enough to challenge the
notice and interference of the Government. A word, however, about
each, in its turn.

The Anti-corn-law League has in view a two-fold object--the overthrow
of the present Ministry whom they abhor for their steadfast and
powerful support of the agricultural interest;--and the depression of
the wages of labour, to enable our manufacturers (of whom the league
almost exclusively consists) to compete with the manufacturers on the
Continent. Their engine for effecting their purposes, is the Repeal of
the corn-laws; and they are working it with such a desperate energy,
as satisfies any disinterested observer, that they themselves perceive
the task to be all but utterly hopeless. They were confounded by the
result of the general election, and dismayed at the accession to power
of men whom they knew to be thoroughly acquainted with their true
objects and intentions, and resolved to frustrate them, and able to
carry their resolutions into effect. The ominous words of Sir Robert
Peel--"I think that the connexion of the manufacturers in the north of
England with the joint-stock banks, gave an undue and improper impulse
to trade in that quarter of the country"--rang in their ears as a
knell; and told them that they were _found out_ by a firm and
sagacious Minister, whom, therefore, their sole object thenceforth
must be to overthrow _per fas aut nefas_. For this purpose they
adopted such an atrocious course of action, as instantly deprived them
of the countenance of all their own moderate and reasoning friends,
and earned for themselves the execration of the bulk of the
community:--they resolved to inflame the starving thousands in the
manufacturing districts into acts of outrage and rebellion. They felt
it necessary, in the language of Mr Grey, one of their own principal
men, in order "_to raise the stubborn enthusiasm of the people_," (!)
to resort to some desperate expedient--which was--immediately on Sir
Robert Peel's announcing his determination, early in 1842, to
preserve, but improve, the existing system of the corn-laws--to reduce
the wages of all their work-people to the amount of from ten to twenty
per cent. This move originated with the _Stockport_ manufacturers. We
have little doubt but it was the suggestion of Mr Cobden; and are
quite prepared for a similar move during the ensuing session of
Parliament. But was not--is not--this a species of moral arson? The
Government calmly carried their measure: the outbreak (which we firmly
believe to have been concerted by the Anti-corn-law League) in
Lancashire arrived, and was promptly and resolutely, but mercifully
repressed; and thus was extinguished the guilty hopes and expectations
of its contrivers; and Ministers were left stronger at the close of
the session than they had been at its commencement. They resolved to
open a new campaign against Ministers and the Corn-laws--greatly to
augment their numbers and pecuniary resources--to redouble their
exertions, and immensely to extend the sphere of their operations.
They _did_ augment their pecuniary resources, by large forced
contributions among the few persons most deeply interested in the
success of their schemes; namely, the Lancashire manufacturers--they
_did_ redouble their exertions--they _did_ extend the sphere of their
operations, spreading themselves over the whole length and breadth of
the land, even as did the plague of lice over Egypt. But did they
augment the number of their friends? Not a person of the least
political or personal importance could be prevailed upon to join their
discreditable ranks; it remained as before:--Cobden and Bright--Bright
and Cobden--Wilson, Bright, and Cobden--Milner Gibson, Fox, Bright and
Cobden--_ad nauseam usque_; but, like a band of travelling
incendiaries, they presented themselves with indefatigable energy in
places which had never known their presence before. And how comes it
to pass that they have not long since kindled at least the
manufacturing population into a blaze? Is it any fault of the
aforesaid incendiaries? No--but because there is too much intelligence
abroad, they could not do what they would--"_raise the stubborn
enthusiasm_" of the people. In one quarter they were suspected--in
another despised--in another hated; and it became a very general
impression that they were, in fact, a knot of double dealers, who
certainly contrived to make a great noise, and keep themselves
perpetually before the public; but as for getting the steam "up," in
the nation at large, they found it impossible. In truth, the
"Anti-corn-law League" would have long ago been dissolved amidst the
indifference or contempt of the public, but for the countenance they
received, from time to time, and on which they naturally calculated,
from the party of the late Ministers, whose miserable object was to
secure their own return to power by means of any agency that they
could press into their service. But, to return to our sketch of the
progress of the "League." Admitting that, by dint of very great and
incessant exertion, they kept their ground, they made little or no
progress among the mercantile part of the community; and they resolved
to try their fortune with the agricultural constituencies--to sow
dissension between the landlords and the tenants, the farmers and
their labourers, and combine as many of the disaffected as they could,
in support of the clamour for free trade. This was distinctly avowed
by Cobden, at a meeting of the Anti-corn-law deputies, in the
following very significant terms: "_We can never carry the measure

[27] League Circular, No. xxx. p. 3.

They therefore proceeded to commence operations upon the agricultural
constituencies. They knew they could always reckon upon a share of
support wherever they went--it being hard to find any country without
its cluster of bitter and reckless opponents of a Conservative
government, who would willingly aid in any demonstration against it.
With such aid, and indefatigable efforts to collect a crowd of noisy
non-electors: with a judicious choice of localities, and profuse
bribery of the local Radical newspapers, in order to procure copious
accounts of their proceedings--they commenced their "grand series of
country triumphs!" Their own organs, from time to time, gave out that
in each and every county visited by the League, the _farmers_ attended
their meetings, and joined in a vote condemnatory of the corn-laws,
and pledged themselves to vote thereafter for none but the candidates
of the Anti-corn-law League!

The following are specimens of the flattering appellations which had
till now been bestowed, by their new friends, upon these selfsame
farmers--"_Bull-frogs!"_ "_chaw-bacons!" _"_clod-poles!_"
"_hair-bucks!_" "_deluded slaves!_" "_brute drudges!_"[28] Now,
however, they and their labourers were addressed in terms of
respectful sympathy and flattery, as the victims of the rapacity of
their landlords--on whom were poured the full phials of Anti-corn-law
wrath. The following are some of the scalding drops let fall upon
their devoted heads--_"Monster of impiety!" "inhuman fiend!"
"heartless brutes!" "rapacious harpies!" "relentless demons!"
"plunderers of the people!" "merciless footpads!" "murderers!"
"swindlers!" "insatiable!" "insolent!" "flesh-mongering!" "scoundrel!"
"law-making landlords!" "a bread-taxing oligarchy!"_[29] Need we say
that the authors of these very choice and elegant expressions were
treated with utter contempt by both landlords and tenants--always
making the few allowances above referred to? Was it very likely that
the landlord or the farmer should quit their honourable and important
avocations at the bidding of such creatures as had thus intruded
themselves into their counties? should consent to be yoked to the car,
or to follow in the train of these enlightened, disinterested, and
philanthropic cotton-spinners and calico-printers? Absurd! It became,
in fact, daily more obvious to even the most unreflecting, that these
worthies were not likely to be engaged in their "labours of _love_;"
were not _exactly_ the kind of persons to desert their own businesses,
to attend out of pure benevolence that of others--to let succumb their
own interest to promote those of others; to subscribe out of the gains
which they had wrung from their unhappy factory slaves, their L.10,
L.20, L.30, L.50, L.100, out of mere public spirit and philanthropy.

[28] League Circular, No. 10.

[29] Ibid. Nos. 26, 29, 44, 50, 71, 83, 94, 99, 100.

Still, we say, the whole thing was really a failure--the "steam," even
yet, could not be "got up," in spite of all their multiplied agencies
and machinery, incessantly at work--the unprecedented personal
exertions of the members of the league--the large pecuniary sacrifices
of the Lancashire subscribers to its funds. One more desperate
exertion was therefore felt necessary--and they resolved to attempt
getting up a _sensation_, by the sudden subscription of splendid sums
of money, by way of starting a vast fund, with which to operate
directly upon the entire electoral body--in what way, it is not very
difficult to guess. Accordingly, they began--but where? At the old
place--Manchester!--Manchester!--_Manchester!_ Many thousands were
subscribed at an hour's notice by a mere handful of manufacturers; the
news came up to London--and the editor of the _Times_, in a transient
fit of excitement, pronounced "the existence of the League" to be a
GREAT FACT. Upon this phrase they have lived ever since--till somewhat
roughly reminded the other day, by Mr Baring, that "great _facts_" are
very "_great follies!_" Now let us once more ask the question--would
all these desperate and long-continued exertions and sacrifices--(all
proceeding, be it ever observed, from _one_ quarter, and from the same
class of people--nay, the same individuals of that class)--be
requisite, were there any _real movement of the public mind and
feeling_ against the Corn-laws? Are they not requisite solely because
of the _absence_ of any such movement? Nay, are they not evidence that
the public feeling and opinion are against them? And that, perhaps,
they will by and by succeed in rousing the "stubborn enthusiasm of the
people" against themselves? Where has there been called one single
spontaneous public meeting of any importance, and where exhibited a
spark of enthusiasm, for the total repeal of the Corn-laws? Surely the
_topic_ is capable of being handled in a sufficiently exciting manner!
But no; wherever a "meeting," or "demonstration," is heard of--there,
also, are the eternal Cobden, Bright and Wilson, and their miserable
fellow-agitators, who alone have got up--who alone harangue the
meetings. Was it so with Catholic Emancipation?--with the abolition of
Negro Slavery?--with the Reform Bill? Right or wrong, the public
feeling was then roused, and exhibited itself unequivocally,
powerfully, and spontaneously; but _here_--bah! common sense revolts
at the absurd supposition that even hundreds of thousands of pounds
can of themselves get up a real demonstration of public feeling in
favour of the object, for which so much Manchester money has been
already subscribed.

"'Tis not in _thousands_ to command success."

If the public opinion of this great country--this great enlightened
nation--were _really_ roused against the Corn-laws, they would
disappear like snow under sunshine. But, as the matter _now_ stands,
if their dreary drivellers Cobden, Bright, Wilson, Acland, W.J. Fox,
were withdrawn from the public scene in which they are so anxious to
figure, and sent to enjoy the healthy exercise of the tread-mill for
one single three months, would this eternal "_brutum fulmen_" about
the repeal of the Corn-laws be heard of any more? We verily believe
not. "But look at our triumphs!"--quoth Cobden--"Look at our glorious
victories at Durham, London, and Kendal!--our virtual victory at
Salisbury!" Moonshine, gentlemen, and you know it;--and that you have
spent your money in vain. Let us see how the matter stands.

I. _Durham_. True, Mr Bright was returned; but to what is the House of
Commons indebted for the acquisition of that distinguished senator,
except the personal pique and caprice of that eccentric Tory peer,
Lord Londonderry? This is notorious, and admitted by all parties; and
these causes will not be in operation at another election.

II. _London_. And do you really call this a "great triumph?"
Undoubtedly Mr Pattison was returned; but is it a matter of
congratulation that this notorious political nonentity, who openly, we
understand, entertains and will support _Chartist_ opinions, is
returned instead of such a man as Mr Baring? What was the majority of
Mr Pattison? One hundred and sixty-five, out of twelve thousand eight
hundred and eighty-nine who actually voted. And how was even that
majority secured? By the notorious absence from London--as is always
the case at that period of the year (21st October 1843)--of vast
numbers of the stanchest Conservative electors. There is no doubt
whatever, that had the election happened one fortnight later than it
did, Mr Baring would have been returned by a large majority, in spite
of the desperate exertions of the Anti-corn-law League and Mr
Rothschild and the Jews. As it was, Mr Baring polled more (6367) than
had ever been polled by a Conservative candidate for London before;
and had an immense majority over his competitor, among the superior
classes of the constituency.[30] At another election, we can
confidently predict that Mr Baring will be returned, and by a large
majority, unless, indeed, the Charter should be the law of the land;
in which case Mr Pattison will probably enjoy another ovation.

[30] Among the _Livery_, the numbers were--Baring, 3196;
Pattison, 2367;--majority for Baring, 889!

Among the _Templars_--Baring, 258; Pattison, 78!!--majority
for Baring, 180!

III. _Kendal_. Is this, too, a victory? "Another such, and you are
undone." Why? Till Mr Bentinck presented himself before that
enlightened little constituency, no Conservative dared even to offer
himself; 'twas a snug little stronghold of the Anti-corn-law League
interest, and yet the gallant Conservative gave battle against the
whole force of the League; and after a mortal struggle of some
fourteen days, was defeated by a far smaller majority than either
friends or enemies had expected, and has pledged himself to fight the
battle again. Here, then, the League and their stanch friends have
sustained an unexpected and serious shock.

IV. _Salisbury_.--We have not the least desire to magnify this into a
mighty victory for the Conservative party; but the interference of
the Anti-corn-law League certainly made the struggle a very critical
and important one. We expected to succeed, but not by a large
majority; for ever since 1832, the representation had (till within the
last year) been divided between a Conservative and a Liberal. However,
the Anti-corn-law League, flushed with their "triumphs" at London and
Kendal, flung all their forces ostentatiously into the borough, and
exhibited a disgusting and alarming specimen of the sort of
interference which it seems we are to expect in all future elections,
in all counties and boroughs. It was, however, in vain; the ambitious
young gentleman who had the benefit of their services, and who is a
law-student in London, but the son of the great Earl of Radnor, lost
his election by a large majority, and the discomfited League retired
ridiculously to Manchester. When we heard of their meditated descent
upon Salisbury, we fancied we saw Cobden and his companions waddling
back, geese-like, and exclaimed--

"Geese! if we had you but on Sarum plain,
We'd drive you cackling back to Camelot!"

So much for the boasted electoral triumphs of the Anti-corn-law
League--we repeat, that they are all mere moonshine, and challenge
them to disprove our assertion.

They are now making another desperate effort to raise a further sum of
a hundred thousand pounds; and beginning, as usual, at Manchester,
have raised there alone, within a few days' time, upwards of L.20,000!
The fact (if _true_) is at once ludicrous and disgusting: ludicrous
for its transparency of humbug--disgusting for its palpable
selfishness. Will these proverbially hard-hearted men put down their
L.100, L.200, L.300, L.400, L.500, for nothing? Alas, the great sums
they have expended in this crusade against the Corn-laws, will have to
be wrung out of their wretched and exhausted factory slaves! For how
otherwise but by diminishing wages can they repay themselves for lost
time, for trouble, and for expense?

Looked at in its proper light, the Corn-law League is nothing but _an
abominable conspiracy against labour_. Cheap _bread_ means cheap
_labour_; those who cannot see this, must be blind indeed! The
melancholy fact of the continually-decreasing price of labour in this
country, rests on undisputable authority--on, amongst others, that of
Mr Fielding. In 1825, the price of labour was 51 per cent less than in
1815; in 1830 it was 65 per cent less than in 1815, though the
consumption of cotton had increased from 80,000,000 lbs. to
240,000,000 lbs.! In 1835 it was 318,000,000 lbs., but the operative
received 70 per cent less than in 1815. In 1840 the consumption of
cotton was 415,000,000 lbs., and the unhappy operative received 75 per
cent less than in 1815!

If proofs be required to show that in reality the deadly snake, _cheap
labour_, lurks among the flourishing grass, _cheap bread_, we will
select one or two out of very many now lying before us, and prepared
to be presented to the reader.

"If grain be high," said Mr Ricardo, in the House of Commons,[31] "the
price of labour would necessarily be a deduction from the _profits of
stock_." "The Corn-laws raise the price of sustenance--that has
_raised the price of labour_; which, of course, diminishes the profit
in capital."[32]

[31] Debates, May 30, 1820.

[32] Ib. Dec. 24, 1819.

"Until the price of food in this country," said Mr Hume, in the House
of Commons on the 12th of May last, in the presence of all the leading
free-trade members, "is placed on a level with that on the Continent,
it will be impossible for us to compete with the growing manufactures
of Belgium, Germany, France, and America!!"

Hear a member of the League, and of the Manchester Chamber of
Commerce, Mr G. Sandars:--

"If three loaves instead of two could be got for 2s., in
consequence of a repeal of the Corn-laws, another consequence
would be, that the workman's 2s. would be reduced to 1s. 4d.,
which would leave matters, as far as he was concerned, just
as they were!!"[33]

[33] Authentic Discussions on the Corn-law, (Ridgway, 1839,)
p. 86.

Hear a straightforward manufacturer--Mr Muntz, M.P.--in the debate on
the 17th May last:--

"If the Corn-laws were repealed, the benefit which the
manufacturer expected was, that he could produce at a lower
price; and this he could do only by reducing wages to the
continental level!!"

If the above fail to open the eyes of the duped workmen of this
country, what will succeed in doing so? Let us conclude this portion
of our subject--disgusting enough, but necessary to expose
imposture--with the following tabular view, &c., of the gross
contradiction of the men, whom we wish to hold up to universal and
deserved contempt, on even the most vital points of the controversy in
which they are engaged; and then let our readers say whether any thing
proceeding from such a quarter is worthy of notice:--

* * * * *

The _League Oracle_ says--

1. "If we have free trade, the landlords' rents will fall 100 per
cent."--(_League Circular_, No. 15. p. 3.)

2. "Provisions will fall one-third."--(Ib. No. 34, p. 4.)

"The Corn-laws makes the labourer pay double the price for his
food."--(Ib. No. 15.)

3. "The Corn-law compels us to pay _three times the value for a loaf
of bread_."--(Ib. No. 13.)

"If the Corn-laws were abolished, the working man WOULD SAVE 31/2d. UPON
EVERY LOAF OF BREAD."--(Ib. No. 75.)

"As a consequence of the repeal of the Corn-laws, _we promise cheaper
food_, and our hand-loom weavers would get _double_ the rate of
wages!"--(Ib. No. 7.)

"We shall have _cheap bread_, and its price will be reduced 33 per
cent."--(Ib. No. 34.)

4. Messrs Villiers, Muntz, Hume, Roche, Thornton, Rawson, Sandars,
(all Leaguers,) say, and the oracle of the _League_ itself has said,
that "We want free trade, to enable us to _reduce wages_, that we may
compete with foreigners."--(_Post_, pp. 13-16.)

5. The _League Oracle_ admits that "a repeal would _injure_ the
farmer, but not so much as he fears."--(_League Circular_, No. 58.)

Mr Cobden says--

1. "If we have free trade, the landlords will have as good rents as
now."--(Speech in the House of Commons, 15th May last.)

2. "Provisions will be no cheaper."--(Speech at Bedford, _Hertford
Reformer_, 10th June last.)

Chronicle_, 30th June 1843, Speech on Penenden Heath.)

Winchester, _Salisbury Herald_, July 29, 1843, p. 3.

4. Messrs Cobden, Bright, and Moore, now affirm--"It is a base
falsehood to say we want free trade, to enable us to reduce the rate
of wages."--(Mr Cobden on Penenden Heath. Messrs Bright and Moore at

5. Cobden, Moore, and Bright, say, that it is to the _interest_ of the
farmer to have a total and _immediate_ repeal.--(Uxbridge, Bedford,

[34] Extracted from a very admirable speech by Mr Day of
Huntingdon, (Ollivier, 1843,) and which we earnestly recommend
for perusal.

* * * * *

The disgusting selfishness and hypocrisy of such men as Cobden and his
companions, in veiling their real objects under a pretended enmity to
"Monopoly" and "Class Legislation"--and disinterested anxiety to
procure for the poor the blessings of "cheap bread"--fills us with a
just indignation; and we never see an account of their hebdomadal
proceedings, but we exclaim, in the language of our immortal bard--

"Oh, Heaven! that such impostors thoud'st unfold,
And put in every honest hand a whip,
To lash the rascals naked through the land!"

While we repeat our deliberate opinion, that the Anti-corn-law League,
as a body, is, in respect of actual present influence, infinitely less
formidable than the vanity and selfish purposes of its members would
lead them to wish the country to believe--we must add, that it is
quite another question how long it will continue so. It may soon be
converted--if indeed it has not already been secretly converted, into
an engine of tremendous mischief, for other purposes than any ever
contemplated by its originators. Suppose, in the next session of
parliament, Ministers were to offer a law-fixed duty on corn: would
that concession dissolve the League? Absurd--they have long ago
scouted the idea of so ridiculous a compromise. Suppose they effected
their avowed object of a total repeal of the Corn-laws--is any one
weak enough to imagine that they would _then_ dissolve? No--nor do
they _now_ dream of such a thing; but are at the present moment, as we
are informed, "_fraternizing_" with other political societies of a
very dangerous character, and on the eve of originating serious and
revolutionary movements. Their present organization is precisely that
of the French Jacobins; their plan of operation the same. Let any one
turn to _The League Circular_ of the 18th November, and he will see
announced a plan of action on the part of this Association, precisely
analagous, in all its leading features, to that of the French
Jacobins: and we would call the attention of the legislature to the
question, whether the Anti-corn-law League, in its most recent form of
organization and plan of action, be not clearly within the provisions
of statutes 57 Geo. III., c. 19, Sec. 25 and 39; Geo. III., c. 79? What
steps, if any, the legislature may take, is one thing; it is quite
another, what course shall be adopted by the friends of the
Conservative cause--the supporters of the British constitution. It is
impossible to assign limits to the mischief which may be effected by
the indefatigable and systematic exertions of the League to diffuse
pernicious misrepresentations, and artful and popular fallacies, among
all classes of society. That they entertain a fearfully envenomed
hatred of the agricultural interest, is clear; and their evident
object is to render the landed proprietors of this country objects of
fierce hatred to the inferior orders of the community. "If a man tells
me his story every morning of my life, by the year's end he will be my
master," said Burke, "and I shall believe him, however untrue and
improbable his story may be;" and if, whilst the Anti-corn-law League
can display such perseverance, determination, and system, its
opponents obstinately remain supine and silent, can any one wonder if
such progress be not made by the League, in their demoralizing and
revolutionary enterprize, that it will soon be too late to attempt
even to arrest?

If this Journal has earned, during a quarter of a century's career of
unwavering consistency and independence, any title to the respect of
the Conservative party, we desire now to rely upon that title for the
purpose of adding weight to our solemn protest against the want of
union and energy--against the apathy, from whatever cause arising--now
but too visible. In vain do we and others exert ourselves to the
uttermost to diffuse sound political principles by means of the press;
in vain do the distinguished leaders of our party fight the battles of
the constitution with consummate skill and energy in parliament--if
their exertions be not supported by corresponding energy and activity
on the part of the Conservative constituencies, and those persons of
talent and influence professing the same principles, by whom they can,
and ought to be, easily set in motion. It is true that persons of
liberal education, of a high and generous tone of feeling, of
intellectual refinement, are entitled to treat such men as Cobden,
Bright, and Acland, with profound contempt, and dislike the notion of
personal contact or collision with them, as representatives of the
foulest state of ill feeling that can be generated in the worst
manufacturing regions--of sordid avarice, selfishness, envy, and
malignity; but they are active--ever up and doing, and steadily
applying themselves, with palatable topics, to the corruption of the
hearts of the working classes. So, unless the persons to whom we
allude choose to cast aside their morbid aversions--to be "UP AND AT
them," in the language of the Duke of Waterloo--why then will be
verified the observation of Burke--that "if, when bad men combine, the
good do not associate, they will fall, one by one--an unpitied
sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." Vast as are our forces, they
can effect comparatively nothing without union, energy, and system:
_with_ these, their power is tremendous and irresistible. What we
would say, therefore, is--ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! Let every
existing Conservative club or association be stirred up into increased
action, and _put into real working trim_ forthwith; and where none
such clubs or associations exist, let them be immediately formed, and
set into cheerful and spirited motion. Let them all be placed under
the vigilant superintendence of one or two _real men of business_--of
local knowledge, of ability, and influence. We would point out
Conservative solicitors as auxiliaries of infinite value to those
engaged in the good cause; men of high character, of business habits,
extensive acquaintance with the character and circumstances of the
electors--and capable of bringing legitimate influence to bear upon
them in a far more direct and effective manner than any other class of
persons. One such gentleman--say a young and active solicitor, with a
moderate salary, as permanent secretary in order to secure and, in
some measure, requite his services throughout the year--would be worth
fifty _dilletante_ "friends of the good cause dropping in every now
and then," but whose "friendship" evaporates in mere _talk_. Let every
local Conservative newspaper receive constant and substantial
patronage; for they are worthy of the very highest consideration, on
account of the ability with which they are generally conducted, and
their great influence upon local society. Many of them, to our own
knowledge, display a degree of talent and knowledge which would do
honour to the very highest metropolitan journals. Let them, then, be
vigorously supported, their circulation extended through the influence
of the resident nobility and gentry, and the clergy of every
particular district throughout the kingdom. Let no opportunity be
missed of exposing the true character of the vile and selfish
agitators of the Anti-corn-law league. Let not the league have all the
"publishing" to themselves; but let their impudent fallacies and
falsehoods be _instantly_ encountered and exposed on the spot, by
means of small and cheap tracts and pamphlets, which shall bring
plain, wholesome, and important truths home to the businesses and
bosoms of the very humblest in the land. Again, let the resident
gentry seek frequent opportunities of mingling with their humbler
neighbours, friends, and dependents, by way of keeping up a cordial
and hearty good understanding with them, so as to rely upon their
effective co-operation whenever occasions may arise for political

Let all this be done, and we may defy a hundred Anti-corn-law Leagues.
Let these objects be kept constantly in view, and the Anti-corn-law
League will be utterly palsied, had it a hundred times its present
funds--a thousand times its present members!

Let us now, however, turn for a brief space to Ireland; the present
condition of which we contemplate with profound concern and anxiety,
but with neither surprise nor dismay. As far as regards the
Government, the state of affairs in Ireland bears at this moment
unquestionable testimony to the stability and strength of the
Government; and no one know this better than the gigantic impostor, to
whom so much of the misery of that afflicted portion of the empire is
owing. He perceives, with inexpressible mortification, that neither he
nor his present position awake any sympathy or excitement whatever in
the kingdom at large, where the enormity of his misconduct is fully
appreciated, and every movement of the Government against him
sanctioned by public opinion. The general feeling is one of profound
disgust towards him, sympathy and commiseration for his long-plundered
dupes and of perfect confidence that the Government will deal firmly
and wisely with both. As for a _Repeal of the Union_! Pshaw! Every
child knows that it is a notion too absurd to be seriously dealt with;
that Great Britain would rather plunge _instanter_ into the bloodiest
civil war that ever desolated a country, than submit to the
dismemberment of the empire by repealing the union between Great
Britain and Ireland. This opinion has had, from time to time, every
possible mode of authentic and solemn expression that can be given to
the national will; in speeches from the Throne; in Parliamentary
declarations by the leaders of both the Whig and Conservative
Governments; the members of both Houses of Parliament are (with not a
single exception worth noticing) unanimous upon the subject; the
press, whether quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily, of all classes
and shades of political opinions, is unanimous upon the subject; in
society, whether high or low, the subject is never broached, except to
enquire whether any one can, for one moment, seriously believe the
Repeal of the Union to be possible. In Ireland itself, the vast
majority of the intellect, wealth, and respectability of the island,
without distinction of religion or politics, entertains the same
opinion and determination which prevail in Great Britain. Is Mr
O'Connell ignorant of all this? He knows it as certainly as he knows
that Queen Victoria occupies the throne of these realms; and yet, down
to his very last appearance in public, he has solemnly and
perseveringly asseverated that the Repeal of the Union is an
absolutely certain and inevitable event, and one that will happen
within a few months! _Is he in his senses?_ If so, he is speaking from
his knowledge of some vast and dreadful conspiracy, which he has
organized himself, which has hitherto escaped detection. The idea is
too monstrous to be entertained for a moment. What, then, can Mr
O'Connell be about? Our opinion is, that his sole object in setting on
foot the Repeal agitation, was to increase his pecuniary resources,
and at the same time overthrow Sir Robert Peel's Government, by
showing the Queen and the nation that his admitted "_chief_
difficulty"--Ireland--was one _insuperable_; and that he must
consequently retire. We believe, moreover, that he is, to a certain
extent, acting upon a secret understanding with the party of the late
Government, who, however, never contemplated matters being carried to
their present pitch; but that the Ministry would long ago have
retired, terrified before the tremendous "demonstration" in Ireland.
We feel as certain as if it were a past event, that, had the desperate
experiment succeeded so far as to replace the present by the late
Government, Mr O'Connell's intention was to have announced his
determination to "_give England_ ONE MORE trial"--to place Repeal once
more in abeyance--in order to see whether England would really, at
length, do "_justice_ to _Ireland_;" in other words, restore the
halcyon days of Lord Normanby's nominal, and Mr O'Connell's real, rule
in Ireland, and enable him, by these means, to provide for himself,
his family, and dependents; for old age is creeping rapidly upon
him--his physical powers are no longer equal to the task of vigorous
agitation--and he is known to be in utterly desperate circumstances.
The reckless character of his proceedings during the last fifteen
months, is, in our opinion, fully accounted for, by his unexpected
discovery, that the ministry were strong enough to defy any thing that
he could do, and to continue calmly in their course of administering,
not _pseudo_, but real "justice to Ireland," supported in that course
by the manifest favour and countenance of the Crown, overwhelming
majorities in Parliament, and the decided and unequivocal expression
of public opinion. His personal position was, in truth, inexpressibly
galling and most critical, and he must have agitated, or sunk at once
into ignominious obscurity and submission to a Government whom,
individually and collectively, he loathed and abhorred. Vain were the
hopes which, doubtless, he had entertained, that, as his agitation
assumed a bolder form, it would provoke formidable demonstrations in
England against Ministers and their policy; not a meeting could be got
up to petition her Majesty for the dismissal of her Ministers! But it
is quite conceivable that Mr O'Connell, in the course he was pursuing,
forgot to consider the possibility of developing a power which might
be too great for him, which would not be wielded by him, but carry
_him_ along with _it_. The following remarkable expressions fell from
the perplexed and terrified agitator, at a great dinner at Lismore in
the county of Waterford, in the month of September last:--"Like the
heavy school-boy on the ice, _my pupils are overtaking me_. It is now
my duty to regulate the vigour and temper the energy of the people--to
compress, as it were, the exuberance of both."

We said that Mr O'Connell revived the Repeal agitation; and the fact
was so. He first raised it in 1829--having, however, at various
previous periods of his life, professed a desire to struggle for
Repeal; but Mr Shiel, in his examination before the House of Commons
in 1825, characterized such allusions as mere "rhetorical artifices."
"What were his real motives," observes the able and impartial author
of _Ireland and its Rulers_[35], "when he announced his new agitation
in 1829, can be left only to him to determine." It is probable that
they were of so mixed a nature, that he himself could not accurately
define them.... It is, however, quite possible, that, after having so
long tasted of the luxuries of popularity, he could not consent that
the chalice should pass from his lips. Agitation had, perhaps, begun
to be necessary to his existence: a tranquil life would have been a
hell to him." It would seem that Mr O'Connell's earliest recorded
manifesto on Repeal was on the 3d June 1829, previous to the Clare
election, on which occasion he said--"We want political excitement, in
order that we may insist on our rights as Irishmen, but not as
Catholics;" and on the 20th of the same month in the same year, 1829,
he predicted--listen to this, ye his infatuated dupes!--"_that_ BEFORE
elections of 1832, it was proclaimed by Mr O'Connell, that no member
should be returned unless he solemnly pledged himself to vote for the
Repeal of the Union; but it was at the same time hinted, that _if they
would only enter the House as professed Repealers, they would never be
required to_ VOTE _for Repeal_. On the hustings at the county of
Waterford election, one of these gentry, Sir Richard Keave, on being
closely questioned concerning the real nature of his opinion on
Repeal, let out the whole truth:--"_I will hold it as an imposing
weapon to get justice to Ireland_." This has held true ever since, and
completely exemplifies all the intervening operations of Mr O'Connell.
It has been his practice ever since "to connect every grievance with
the subject of Repeal--to convert every wrongful act of any Government
into an argument for the necessity of an Irish Legislature." Can it be
wondered at that the present Government, thoroughly aware of the true
state of the case--_knowing their man_--should regard the cry for
Repeal simply as an imposture, its utterers as impostors? They did and
do so regard it and its utterers--never allowing either the one or the
other to disturb their administration of affairs with impartiality and
firmness; but, nevertheless, keeping a most watchful eye upon all their

[35] pp. 43, 50.

At length, whether emboldened by a conviction that the
non-interference of the Government was occasioned solely by their
incapacity to grapple with an agitation becoming hourly more
formidable, and that thus his schemes were succeeding--or impelled
onwards by those whom he had roused into action, but could no longer
restrain--his movements became daily characterized by more astounding
audacity--more vivid the glare of sedition, and even treason, which
surrounded them: still the Government interfered not. Their apparent
inaction most wondered, very many murmured, some were alarmed, and Mr
O'Connell laughed at. Sir Robert Peel, on one occasion, when his
attention was challenged to the subject in the House of Commons,
replied, that "he was not in the least degree moved or disturbed by
what was passing in Ireland." This perfect calmness of the Government
served to check the rising of any alarm in the country; which felt a
confidence of the Ministry's being equal to any exigency that could be
contemplated. Thus stood matters till the 11th July last, when, at the
close of the debate on the state of Ireland, Sir Robert Peel delivered
a very remarkable speech. It consisted of a calm demonstration of the
falsehood of all the charges brought by the Repealers against the
imperial Parliament; of the impolicy and the impracticability of the
various schemes for the relief of Ireland proposed by the Opposition;
of the absolute impossibility of Parliament entertaining the question
of a Repeal of the Union; and a distinct answer to the question--"What
course do you intend to pursue?" That answer is worthy of being
distinctly brought under the notice of the reader. "I am prepared to
administer the law in Ireland upon principles of justice and
impartiality. I am prepared to recognise the principle established by
law--that there shall be equality in civil privileges. I am prepared
to respect the franchise, to give substantially, although not
nominally, equality. In respect to the social condition of
Ireland--_as to the relation of landlord and tenant_[36]--I am
prepared to give the most deliberate consideration to the important
matters involved in those questions. With respect to the Established
Church, I have already stated that we are not prepared to make an
alteration in the law by which that Church is maintained."

[36] In conformity with this declaration, has been issued the
recent commission, for "enquiring into the state of the law
and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland,
and in respect also to the burdens of county cess and other
charges, which fall respectively on the landlord and occupying
tenant, and for reporting as to the amendments, if any, of the
existing laws, which, having due regard to the just rights of
property, may be calculated to encourage the cultivation of
the soil, to extend a better system of agriculture, and to
improve the relation between landlord and tenant, in that part
of the United Kingdom."

We recollect being greatly struck with the ominous calmness
perceptible in the tone of this speech. It seemed characterised by a
solemn declaration to place the agitation of Ireland for ever in the
_wrong_--to deprive them of all pretence for accusing England of
having misgoverned Ireland since the Union. It appeared to us as if
that speech had been designed to lay the basis of a contemplated
movement against the agitation of the most decisive kind. The
Government acted up to the spirit of the declaration, on that
occasion, of Sir Robert Peel, with perfect dignity and resolution,
unmoved by the taunts, the threats, the expostulations, or fears of
either enemies or friends. Mr O'Connell's tone increased in audacity;
but we greatly doubt whether in his heart he had not frequent
misgivings as to the real nature of the "_frightful silence_"--"_cette
affreuse silence_"--of a Government in whose councils the Duke of
Wellington took a decided part, and which was actually at that moment
taking complete military occupation of Ireland. On what information
they were acting, no one knew; but their preparations were _for the
worst_. During all this time nothing could exceed the tranquillity
which prevailed in England. None of these threatening appearances,
these tremendous preparations, caused the least excitement or alarm;
the funds did not vary a farthing per cent in consequence of them; and
to what could all this be ascribed but to the strength of public
confidence in the Government? At length the harvest in Ireland had
been got in; ships of war surrounded the coast; thirty thousand picked
and chosen troops, ready for instant action, were disposed in the most
masterly manner all over Ireland. With an almost insane audacity, Mr
O'Connell appointed his crowning monster meeting to take place at
Clontarf, in the immediate vicinity of the residence and presence of
the Queen's representative, and of such a military force as rendered
the bare possibility of encountering it appalling. The critical
moment, however, for the interference of Government had at length
arrived, and it spoke out in a voice of thunder, prohibiting the
monster meeting. The rest is matter of history. The monster demagogue
fell prostrate and confounded among his panic-stricken confederates;
and, in an agony of consternation, declared their implicit obedience
to the proclamation, and set about dispersing the myriad dupes, as
fast as they arrived to attend the prohibited meeting. Thus was the
Queen's peace preserved, her crown and dignity vindicated, without one
sword being drawn or one shot being fired. Mr O'Connell had repeatedly
"defied the Government to go to law with him." They _have_ gone to law
with him; and by this time we suspect that he finds himself in an
infinitely more serious position than he has ever been in, during the
whole of a long and prosperous career of agitation. Here, however, we
leave him and his fellow defendants.

We may, however, take this opportunity of expressing our opinion, that
there is not a shadow of foundation for the charges of blundering and
incompetency which have been so liberally brought against the Irish
Attorney-General. He certainly appears, in the earlier stages of the
proceedings, to have evinced some little irritability--but, only
consider, under what unprecedented provocation! His conduct has since,
however, been characterised by calmness and dignity; and as for his
legal capabilities, all competent judges who have attended to the
case, will pronounce them to be first-rate; and we feel perfectly
confident that his future conduct of the proceedings will convince the
public of the justness of our eulogium.

The selection by the Government of the moment for interference with Mr
O'Connell's proceedings, was unquestionably characterised by
consummate prudence. When the meetings commenced in March or April,
this year, they had nothing of outward character which could well be
noticed. They professed to be meetings to petition Parliament for
Repeal; and, undoubtedly, no lawyer could say that such a meeting
would _per se_ be illegal, any more than a meeting to complain of
Catholic relief, or to pray for its repeal--or for any other matter
which is considered a settled part of the established constitution.
The mere numbers were certainly alarming, but the meetings quietly
dispersed without any breach of the peace: and after two or three such
meetings, without any disturbance attending them, no one could with
truth swear that he expected a breach of the peace as a _direct_
consequence of such a meeting, though many thought they saw a civil
war as a _remote_ consequence. The meetings went on: some ten, twelve,
fifteen occurred,--still no breach of the peace, no disturbance. The
language, indeed, became gradually more seditious--more daring and
ferocious: but, as an attempt to put down the first meeting by _force_
would have been considered a wanton act of oppression, and a direct
interference with the subject's right to petition, it became a very
difficult _practical_ question, at what moment any _legal_ notice
could be taken by prosecution, or _executive_ notice by proclamation,
to put down such meetings. Notwithstanding several confident opinions
to the contrary advanced by the newspaper press at the time, a greater
mistake--indeed a grosser blunder--could not have been made, than to
have prosecuted those who attended the early meetings, or to have sent
the police or the military to put those meetings down. An acquittal in
the one case, or a conflict in the other, would have been attended
with most mischievous consequences; and, as to the latter, it is clear
that the executive never ought to interfere unless with a _force which
renders all resistance useless_. It appears perfectly clear to us,
_even now_, that a prosecution for the earlier meetings must have
failed; for there existed then none of that evidence which would prove
the object and the nature of the association: and to proclaim a
meeting, without using force to prevent or disperse it if it defied
the proclamation; and to use force without being certain that the
extent of the illegality would carry public opinion along with the use
of force; further, to begin to use force without being sure that you
have enough to use--would be acts of madness, and, at least, of great
and criminal disregard of consequences. Now, when meeting after
meeting had taken place, and the general design, and its mischief,
were unfolded, it became necessary that _some new feature should
occur_ to justify the interference of Government; and that occurred at
the Clontarf meeting. No meeting had, before that, ventured to call
itself "_Repeal infantry_;" and to Clontarf _horsemen_ also were
summoned, and were designated "_Repeal cavalry_;" and, in the orders
for their assembling, marching, and conducting themselves, _military
directions were given_; and the meeting, had it been permitted to
assemble, would have been a parade of cavalry, ready for civil war. It
would have been a sort of review--in the face of the city of Dublin,
in open defiance of all order and government. Let us add, that, just
at that time, Mr O'Connell had published his "Address to all her
Majesty's subjects, in all parts of her dominions," (a most libellous
and treasonable publication;) and the arrangements to secure the peace
were more complete, and could be brought to bear more easily, on the
Clontarf than on any of the preceding meetings. The occasion presented
itself, and as soon as possible the Irish authorities assembled at
Dublin; the proclamation appeared; the ground was pre-occupied, and a
force that was irresistible went out to keep the peace, and prevent
the meeting. The result showed the perfect success of the Government's

As the foregoing topics will doubtless occupy much of the attention of
parliament during the ensuing session, we were anxious to place on
record our own opinions, as the result of much reflection, during a
period when events were transpiring which threw upon the Government an
awful responsibility, and rendered their course one of almost
unprecedented difficulty. Modern times, we are convinced, have
witnessed but few instances of such a masterly policy, combined with
signal self-reliance.

One or two general topics connected with Ireland, we have time only to
glance at. First.--From the faint reluctant disavowal and
discouragement of Mr O'Connell and his Repeal agitation, by the
leading ex-Ministers during the last session, when emphatically
challenged by Sir Robert Peel to join him in denouncing the attempted
dismemberment of the empire, irrespective and independent of all party
consideration, we are prepared to expect that in the ensuing session,
the Opposition will, to a great extent, make common cause with Mr
O'Connell, out of mingled fear, and gratitude, and hope towards their
late friend and patron. Such a course will immensely strengthen the
hands of the Queen's Government.

Secondly.--To any thoughtful and independent politician, the present
Sovereign state of Ireland demonstrates the utter impossibility of
governing it upon the principle of breaking down or disparaging the
Protestant interest. Such a course would tend only to bloody and
interminable anarchy.

Thirdly.--Ireland's misery springs from social more than political
evils; and the greatest boon that Providence could give her, would be
a powerful government inflexibly resolved to _put down agitation_.

Lastly.--Can we wonder at the exasperation of the peasantry, who have
for so many years had their money extorted from them, without ever
having had, up to this moment, the shadow of an equivalent? And how
long is this disgraceful pillage to go on? But we must conclude. The
ensuing session of parliament may, and probably will, be a stormy one,
and harassing to the Government; but they may prepare to encounter it
with cheerful confidence. Their measures, during their brief tenure of
office, have been attended with extraordinary success--and of that
both the sovereign and the country are thoroughly aware, and we
entertain high hopes concerning the future. We expect to see their
strong majority in the House of Commons rather augmented than
diminished by reason of the events which have happened during the
recess. If the Ministers remain firm in their determination--and who
doubts it?--to support the agricultural interests of the country, and
persevere in their present vigorous policy towards Ireland, the
Government is impregnable, and the surges of Repeal agitation in
Ireland, and Anti-corn-law agitation in England, will dash against it
in vain. So long as they pursue this course, they will be cheered by
augmented indications of the national good-will, and of that implicit
and affectionate confidence in their councils, which, we rejoice to
know, is vouchsafed to her Ministers by our gracious Sovereign.

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