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therlands? Who can answer for it, that the French troops, having regained this darling object of their ambition, will retire at the mandate of their sovereign? That they will not fraternize with the braves Belges, and declare with the National Convention in the time of Dumourier, "that treaties made with despots can never bind the free and enfranchised people of Belgium? Who can guarantee for three months the existence of Louis Philip's government, or the observance of the treaties which he may have made? Who can be assured that the soldiers who in a moment violated their oaths to Charles X. will not as summarily dispossess the present monarch, and trample under their feet the treaties of a Bourbon prince? Is it any excuse for a governor who opens the gates of a fortress to an unruly body of armed men, that they promised not to spoil or slay the garrison? England should know that the French soldiers are in a state of ebullition and excitement, which it requires all the address of the French king to repress; and that if they ever take the bit into their mouths, on the favourite project of re-annexing Belgium to the Great Nation, it is highly improbable that he will be able to keep his seat, if he strives to check them. Herein, therefore, lies the enormous fault of our present policy—that we have opened the gates of Belgium to revolutionary soldiers, long panting for the possession of that country, at the moment of their greatest excitement; that we have permitted the possession of the Low Countries to the very power which has most severely felt their loss, and at a time when its authority over its own armies was least established; and intrusted the maintenance of European independence, not to the barrier of Marlborough and Wellington, not to the terror of Vittoria or Waterloo, but to the good faith of an ambitious army, whose standards were still stained by an act of trea
The events of the war, short as it has hitherto been, have completely demonstrated the impolicy of our interference in behalf of the revolutionary state in Belgium. The Belgians have been totally defeated in two battles; nothing but the rapid ad
vance of the French saved Brussels from falling into the hands of its former master. The braggadocios of the Belgian revolt have all fled without firing a shot; a nation of four millions of men has confessed its inability to contend for a month with one of two. But for our interference, and French celerity, the King of the Netherlands would ere this have solved the "Belgian Question" in the most effectual of all ways, by stifling the absurd and groundless revolt in his dominions, and Belgium, reunited to Holland, instead of being the advanced post of revolutionary France, would have been the barrier of European freedom.
The grand error which our Government committed, and for which no sort of defence has or can be of
fered, is, that they let Leopold accept the crown, and take possession of his dominions, before their boundaries were fixed; and that they guaranteed to him, in conjunction with France, part of the old Dutch provinces, including Maestricht, of vital importance to Holland, and part of the old inheritance of the house of Nassau, including the noble fortress of Luxembourg, of vital importance to Prussia, when they did not know that the King of Holland would surrender these important parts of his dominions. By so doing, they necessarily threw the apple of discord between him and these two powers, and gave to France the long-wished for opportunity of regaining its hold of Belgium, not only when England had tied itself not to resist, but when it was bound to aid their advance! Leopold, of course, must henceforth be the vassal of France, and all his strength thrown into the scale of the revolutionary system, A greater error never was committed by any diplomatists, and its consequences, whether present or ultimate, cannot fail to be disastrous; for experience will prove a third time, since the two lessons already received are not sufficient, that France, having the control of Belgium, is too strong for Europe; and that the vantage-ground, now incon siderately abandoned, must be regained at as great an expenditure of blood and treasure as it was origi nally acquired.
OPINIONS OF AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN, AND OF A BRITISH WHIGT
ON THE BILL.
We have considered the Question of Reform under all its aspectsmost of them repulsive-and some of them formidable; nor, as far as we have seen, have any of our arguments against the measure met with any but the most impotent efforts at refutation. We have hewed down all the billmen who rashly ventured to oppose us, in all directions, with our Lochaber-axes; while the wretched survivors, crying craven, have shrieked on their knees for quarter never granted, or, as we have gone trampling over them prone on the dust, have pretended to be dead.
Now none of their ragged regiments will shew fight at all, but keep moving from position to position, without firing a shot-their colours, however, flying all the while -the tricolour no less-and their instrumental bands playing most unmartial music, to the tune of Ca ira. All this pride, pomp, and circumstance of war, is somewhat provoking to our vanguard, whowould fain have a brush at their rear, which looks so bulky, that it must surely be fortified against the prick of bayonet by filed newspapers, purchased at trade price from liberal publishers, who, in these days, sport Patriots, without duly considering who is at last to pay the pipers. But vain such shields to save their overtaken posteriors from the lead or steel of our rifles, that easily penetrate the thickest moniplies-and bite to the hip-bone, till the radicals roar again in ludicrous agonies. Such is the usual style in which we dissolve political unions.
The cuckoo cry of the Bill-the whole Bill-and nothing but the Bill -is no longer heard in the land. About the middle of April, the voice of that bird is heard among our braes; in a month or so, it begins to stammer in its simple song, and by midsummer the foolish gowk has flown to another clime. But though the gowks are gone, you still see flying
about the titlings. But hedge-sparrows are not worth powder and shot, so let them flutter about the bushes.
The Reformers deny that there has been "a reaction." But will they deny that they are laughed at by many millions of the people of Britain? Blind and deaf as most of them long tried to be-winking and shutting their eyes-and allowing the wax to accumulate in their ears -have they the face to declare, that they do not now see and hear the shouts of scorn by which they are on all sides assailed? Their sense of the absurd must be indeed obtuse if they do not feel their condition; for are they not all by the ears, kicking and cuffing one and another, rugging hair, and pulling noses, and calling names, and numbers of them absolutely greeting? The loud crow has been subdued into a low chuckle
North American Review for July 1831.
the low chuckle has dwindled into a peevish pip-and the peevish pip itself evaporated in a ghastly gape, that seems to have lost its bill. The poultry is beginning to moult-is sadly out of feather-and had better go to roost.
At first all Reformers shook hands
like brothers, and swore by the Bill eternal friendship. Ye Gods! how they did gabble. The quacking of the Great Glasgow Gander himself was drowned in the general chorus that shook the Dubs. Up on its tiptoes rose the entire Goosery-flap went every wing-wriggled every doup-and at once outstretched was every long neck, a-hiss and awry across the common. The boroughmongers were alarmed-as well they might be-for the air was whitened with a fearful shower of feathers. They quailed at the cry of these sons of freedom; for every goose seemed a swan-and the yellow gosling to the eyes of fear was undistinguishable from the whitey-brown Gander. But a truce to ornithological illustration.
+ Ministerial Plan of Reform. By Lieut. Col. Matthew Stewart. Edinburgh, 1831.
We beg the Reformers to recover their tempers. Should they carry on much longer at this rate, we shall have them cutting each other's throats.
"Behold how good a thing it is,
In mere worldly prudence they should remember the bundle of sticks. True, most of the said sticks are rather rottenish; and though they were millions-what is their strength to that of the bole of the old Oak-Tree -of the British Constitution? Taken in dozens-scores-hundreds- or even thousands—a man of moderate muscle breaks them across his knee with all the ease in the world. Single sticks snap if you but touch them with your little finger.
Few Reformers are gentlemen. Those few at the social and festal board sink the Bill. The millionwherever sections of them chance to be-open in full cry-regardless what may be the political opinions even of the good men at whose feasts they are permitted to sit. They deserve to be shewn the door. But your Anti-reformer being a Tory, is of course a gentleman-and at table -without compromising his conscience-behaves courteously even to your Radical. Were the Bill to pass, the manners of the nation would be as bad, or even worse than its morals-and all mild men would emigrate to America.
The Reformers have been at their wit's end-for some weeks-with rage-because the Opposition have chosen to discuss-clause by clause -the demerits of the Bill. Grant that their conduct has been frivolous and vexatious; yet, why not make allowance for the "fond reluctant amorous delay," of men who are never more to be members of Parliament? Niggards! to deny to us a few more last gasps! Were we assured, beyond all mistake, that all the Whigs in the House were on the eve of dissolution, we should cheerfully let them expire in the most protracted agonies. That known sentiment, hurry no man's cattle," would breathe in music from our benign lips, and when all was over, then" let the dead bury the dead." Whereas the Whigs grudge the Tories
a few weeks' respite-and would fain order them all off, not only pinioned, but gagged, to immediate execution. Monsters!
But pray, how happens it that every other day, during these discussions, thus protracted by a factious and fractious Opposition, ever and anon starteth up some Reformer, to propose his improvement upon the Bill, that erewhile was so perfect? But for us, poor dying creatures, it would have been huddled over with all its hideous anomalies-and an end at once put to the new constitution. The Reformers owe us an unliquidateable debt of gratitude. Yet see how despitefully they use us-but for whose unwearied patriotism, they and their children had for ever been slaves.
We said--a little way back-should the Bill pass. What Bill? Which of the many Bills that have lately been before Parliament? The Ministry, like jugglers, have been playing at cup and balls. They lay a bill on the table, and tell you to look at it— and at its provisions. Down goes the cup to keep it warm; up goes the cup to let it cool-and the Reformers themselves cannot trust their eyes, when they see the green cloth as bare as the palm of their hand. The Bill has vanished bodily-or perhaps there is lying in its stead a scarecrow of a schedule-the handiwork of an accomplished mountebank.
We never use hard words-unwilling to insult, and resolute not to be insulted, without instant application of the point of the pen to the offending member. But the Reformers are not so mealy-mouthed, and for some time past have been rudely calling the Ministers fools and knaves. We can with difficulty bring ourselves to think them so; and hope that several of their acts, which at present certainly do seem both foolish and knavish, may prove susceptible of some sort of palliating explanation and apology. Thus their apparently base and unprincipled attempt to sacrifice their assistant, Mr Gregson, without whom they could not have drawn a bill even to be dishonoured, and must have been long ere now declared bankrupt, may possibly be placed in a different light before they are all dead, and buried, and forgotten. So may their attempt-seemingly still. worse-in spite of his remonstrances to destroy nine-tenths of the ten
and strong towards a republic. He has no doubt that the present state of things is provisional-that the people who, through their deputies, have chosen Louis Philip, will choose his successor and probably for a limited period. For is it likely, he asks with much animation, that that prince will be permitted to transmit his crown to his son, who has been compelled to obliterate the emblems of his family from the seal of state? Or is the chief magistracy of the country so much more of a trifle than the fleur-de-lis, that the King, who is obliged to abandon the one, can keep the other? Nor is the state of things, he thinks, widely different in England. True, that the temperament of the people is less mercurial than that of the French-but the popular feeling is not less intense. But for the unequal division of property in England, he thinks the monarchy might pass into an elective government without a convulsion—but that the extreme inequality of fortunes gives an ominous character to the contest which he believes is about to ensue. There are too many who have nothing to lose-one party contends for the preservation of privileges too vast to be resigned; the other contends-so he says-for life. It is the unyielding ambition of those who have all, against the utter recklessness of those who have nothing, at stake. And in this condition of things, what is the Plan of Reform proposed by the Ministers of England? To what influence was granted, he asks, Catholic Emancipation? To that of the fear of physical force. And certainly it was so-though of the meaning of the word Fear, different explanations were given-as might have been expected-by Peel and Wellington. Taught by that concession how powerful they are, will the people, asks he, be more or less loyal to the antiquated parts of the constitution ? What then-again recurs the question-what is this plan of Reform in Parliament? It is, says the honest American Republican-it is what it has been declared to be by the most eminent of those who have opposed it in Parliament-a Revolution. It is a great change, carrying within itself a pledge of farther change. The indignant disclaimer of his Britannic Majesty's Ministers, Jonathan treats with as sovereign contempt as Chris
topher. He, like us, loves to call. things by their right names—and this Reform is Revolution.
Let us see how he makes good his assertion.
The Plan of Reform was contrasted by Mr Macauley-borrowing from Mr Canning-with the Rule-of-Three System of the United States. That system he and others declared to be unfit for England, however well adapted for America But this writer argues, that the event will prove that, should the Bill pass, nothing short of the Rule-of-Three Plan will satisfy the people of England. But what is the Rule-of-Three Plan? He thus instructs us :
It is simply this: That if 40,000 inhabitants choose one representative, 80,000 shall choose two. Now, he requests that it may be observed, that it is not at present a question, whether the present system of representation in Great Britain works, or does not work, as well as the American, or any other; but whether a great change in the actual system, called a Reform, which begins by wholly disfranchising sixty boroughs, because their population is under 2000, and deprives of half their franchise forty-seven boroughs more, (we speak not of schedules, more particularly as they now stand,) whose population is under 4000-can stop there? No man in his senses, and out of England, would hesitate one moment to answer the question in the negative. It is not pretendedas he remarks-that these sixty boroughs are more corrupt than others -nor denied that they have, on an average, sent a fair proportion of the ablest and most eminent Members to Parliament. It is not pretended that their corporate franchise is not as good and valid as any other right in the kingdom which rests on tradition and prescription. It is simply assumed as a principle, that no community possessed of less than 4000 shall send more than one. The American Republican wishes to know, whether this is not, thus fur, the Ruleof-Three System acknowledged to be just, by being adopted?
But once adopted-what can possibly prevent its leading much farther? That consequence is inevitable from the establishment of the principle. What reason can be given (do give him one, for we cannot) to
shall not now enquire. But what is his opinion of our Plan of Reform? The opinion of him, an outspoken, stanch, and sincere republican?
In the first place, he is too enlight ened a person not to know well that there is not now in the world another such constitution as the British. We do not mean that he thinks it a good one-it is, he thinks, bad. But he knows it is unique; and therefore the prospect of Reform in Britain is different, before his eyes, from the prospect of reform in any other kingdom of Europe. In Britain, he admits that the question of reform is the most difficult in practice that can be imagined-requiring for its happy solution the utmost wisdom and calmness-for that it is no less than the question of discarding the one system and introducing the other-a point on which there are as many opinions as there are independent thinkers. It is likely, he thinks, to be agitated on fields of battle, and by infuriated armies. But though, generally speaking, there are, he adds, the friends and enemies of reform, divided into the two great parties of which he has spoken, not a small portion of the aristocratic party are willing to abandon a little to save the rest; and some of the liberal party agree to bate something by way of concession, rather than wade through blood for the whole, with the risk of gaining nothing. The action and reaction of these feelings for several generations in England, has produced that compromise which is called the Constitution, which contains something of the aristocratic, and something of the democratic principle. This, he says well, renders the question of reform singularly complicated in Britain; and authorizes each party to maintain, that its favourite principle is the principle of the constitution.
In the course of the struggle which this writer thinks he sees impending, dynasties will very likely be set up and expelled-kings voted in and voted out-republics proclaimed and crushed-governments will dissolve into anarchies-and anarchies ripen, or rot into military despotisms, and these vicissitudes will fill up generations.
Our friend is a gloomy-may he prove a false prophet. But he speaks
solemnly; and he gives reasons for the faith that is in him worthy the consideration of all those who hope better things for the future destinies of England. He seeks not to disguise his opinion, that those States are in danger of the greatest changes which are organized-as that of Britain is-on a mixed principle. For the doctrine of checks and balances may be harmless in a quiet time, and in the undisturbed action of the machine; but when by some disturbing force the equilibrium is destroyed, one principle must prevail to the subversion of the other.
According to this view, he holds that, in the present state of the world, the two simplest governments are greatly the safest, and least likely to be affected by the convulsions of the times-those of Russia and the United States. The former he thinks safe, for there does not appear to be any considerable number of persons desirous of change, or disaffected to the present order of things-consequently, there is no antagonist principle. The government of his own country, of a totally different character, he thinks is safe for the same reason. Whatever local discontents may have been created by individual measures, the number is exceedingly small of those who wish for a stronger or a weaker government. On the other hand, he considers the condition of England as highly critical, since it has long been her boast that she has a mixed constitution. One thing, he says, is certain that a pure representative government (by pure, he means equal) cannot exist when two of the great estates of the realm are hereditary. In her constitution, therefore, he looks forward to an inevitable and great change. Of this great change, France has already gone through many stages. Either the extremity of the old abuses, or the ardent temper of the French people, or some unexplained fatality, pushed the first movements of reform into the wildest excesses of revolution; and from that the State swung back to a military despotism. The surface of the waters has since been broken and tost, and the men and things moving on it have been strangely driven about, and seer Bu ingly without a course. under-current, he believes, set