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To inquire after Truth is the proper duty of man. Investigative activity of mind is, therefore, that characteristic which each ought most sedulously to cultivate. Doubt does not indicate a healthy state of intellect. Slothful aversion to thought, much more frequently than honest truth-seeking, results in that suspense of judgment commonly called Scepticism. A still more indolent acquiescence in old opinions often passes for praiseworthy orthodoxy. Sound and safe ideas on life's important topics are only attainable after a careful and diligent exertion of critical examination. To exercise the intellect in weighing evidence, and to train the reflective faculties to accuracy of action, are the best means of promoting the progress and furthering the interests of truth. Controversy whets thought to keenness, and accustoms it to rigorous argument. It at once excites and improves the capacities of man. As an aid in this practical and experimental employment of debate as a drill for the mind, the British Controversialist has for years offered itself to the reader-not without a certain degree of success. A goodly array of volumes may now be appealed to, not only as tokens of acceptance with the public, but as proofs of the absolute fair play with which all opinions are represented, and all questions are subjected to discussion, under the care of its conductors; as well as evidences of the deep and abiding interest felt by them in the promotion of self-culture and general education.
The Editors have endeavoured to keep a watchful eye upon the progress of events and the tide of speculation, and have striven to keep the topics of this, as of their other volumes, in close relation to the intellectual wants of the time. The Controversies conducted in its pages have been carefully selected; and they have been handled both with delicacy and ability by those who took part in them. Argumentative rancour has been in general avoided, logical acuteness and shrewd remarks have had rhetorical grace given to them, and love of truth rather than of contention has ruled the minds of the contributors. The qualities of candour and careful thought which appear in the larger debates are almost equally conspicuous in those abstracts of thought contained in the “ Topic." Thanks are eminently due to the various writers who have laboured with us in the effort to represent the pros and cons. of argument possible on the several questions at issue.
To the “ Essayist” and the “Reviewer” we can point as progressing towards the excellence we aim at. The value of the “Inquirer" columns may be tested almost at a glance. The amount of carefully collected information, suited to supply express wants, and yet capable of farther usefulness, cannot easily be equalled in an equal space. The “Poetic Section" occupies its own peculiar field, at least agreeably and usefully, if it is not highly commendable. With our best efforts, the “Societies' Section" still, in our own opinion, falls considerably short of what it might be a register of the doings and achievings of those grand self-culture Institutes which stud the land, and impart a stimulus so wholesome to multitudes of minds. In “Our Collegiate Course ” we hope, taught by the experience of the past, to introduce such improvements as shall both heighten its interest and widen its scope. Even as it is, however, its suggestiveness and originality mark it out as a scheme which merits more extended acceptance than it has yet received. It aims at the betterment of those for whom few other opportunities of improvement are possible. The “Literary Notes” contain a brief summary of the most interesting items of the news of the learned world from month to month.
Of the leading articles it seems to us now almost superfluous to speak. Their quality has already raised the author to a high rank among the benefactors of the self-teaching classes.
On a survey of the results of the labours of their contributors, as they are displayed in this Volume, the Editors believe they are justified in commending its pages to the earnest and careful perusal of the intelligent and truth-seeking. While doing so, they cannot withhold from approvingly quoting the saying of Bishop Berkeley, “ Truth is indeed the cry of all, but the real game only of a few. Certainly, where it is the chief passion, it doth not give way to vulgar cares or views; nor is it contented with a little ardour in the early time of life. He that would make a real progress in knowledge must dedicate his age as well as his youth—the latter growth as well as the firstfruits—at the altar of TRUTH."
PARLIAMENT is the Supreme Council of the Nation. Etymologically, the word signifies an assembly of persons gathered together for mutual conference and discourse; wbile in its origin, as well as in its actuality, it is a congress of representatives of the several interests of the realm called into session to be consulted by, and to advise with the Sovereign, concerning the management of public, affairs. In the progress of the ages its legislative power has become more prominent in our thoughts than its deliberative nature; and we have fallen into the habit of looking upon it when we put ourselves to the trouble of making an ideal of it—as a meeting of sages (wittenagemote), to enact laws, and to decide upon the state and posture of the national concerns, instead of representatives of the estates, expressing (and sometimes enforcing) the opinions of the people on matters affecting law, government, police, war, peace. international relations, colonial interests, and taxation. This is a very natural mistake in our time. Public opinion now has-or fancies it has—another and a better organ in the press. And hence it does not seem so needful to canvass, consider, discuss, and confer about public affairs through Parliament. There rests, however, on the representative of the people, or the holder of a peerage, a sense of personal responsibility to the country and to the Sovereign, with which we cannot endow the press. The Parliament is a corporate power, possessing rights and privileges both by law and custom. It has a tenure, not only of office but of duty. It is the embodied will of the people, because it is the personalized opinion of the estates of the realm. The need and obligation of consistent and reasonable thought and action, in regard to the affairs of the Ştate, sit more closely to the soul, and act more directly upon the consciences of members of parliament than of writers for the press ; for anonymity, while it gives greater freedom of speech, and wider scope for criticism, tends to produce haste in judgment, rashness of interference, and readiness to deal in plausibilities, which look well in writing, but are unfitted for practice. To all these the press is much more prone than the Parliament. The unity, too, of Parlia
ment, or what is called “the spirit of the House," places a check upon the chosen advisers of the Sovereign in "the despatch of business” to a far greater extent than the esprit de corps binds and restrains the daily advisers of the people. In fact, the press is an ideal, the Parliament a real entity. We cannot, therefore, accept the press as a substitute for the Parliament, though we welcome it, both as a coadjutor in debating public questions, and a reporter and critic of the proceedings of the senate. When, therefore, the press chides Parliament for " its much speaking," and urges it to greater activity of performance-while we offer no defence, either for the quantity or for the quality of the talk, in both of which, in our opinion, there is need of improving changewe think its objection is void of real relevancy. Parliament is a conference. It meets to advise upon measures ; speech, therefore, is one of its functions. But it should be thoughtful speech, the honest and true utterance of statesmanly reflection; for then only is it worthy of the designation-outspokenness, eloquence, or oratory.
Outspoken thought is a masterful agency; “Eloquence has charms to lead mankind, and gives a nobler superiority than power, that every dunce may use, or fraud that every knave may employ." Oratory, by the ideas it pours forth, the feelings it excites, and the passions it rouses, exerts a force of unimaginable efficacy. Speech is the expression of thought, oratory of impassioned thought, eloquence of persuasive thought. If suasion is applied to the reason only, the pith of the mind must be uttered ; if the power of the passions is to be called in to the aid of the reason to overweight the balance, and procure or secure a decision, the quick fervour of emotion must throb from the heart's core into the forth-rushing words, and out of the ardency of the spirit, thought must leap, pervaded and tingling with the very flush and vigour of life. The former will be speech, the latter oratory; yet each, because adapted to the attainment of a given end, may be eloquence. Eloquence at once informs, delights, and persuades; and, by a combination of all, gains the cause it aims at, by realizing the effects it had predetermined to produce.
To advise is to use speech to prevail upon another, or others, to : adopt a course in agreement with our opinions of fitness or right. To confer is to meet for consultation upon matters on which there is a fair likelihood of difference of opinion, and, consequently, of an intellectual (or other) disagreement, in order that, after due consideration, a harmony or unity, of a greater or less number, but of, at least, more than the half, may be brought about. In all true conference there must be statement of several opinions ; and exami. nation by comparison of these statements. This comparative examination will lead to discussion, and to the assignment of reasons for the preferential adoption of each given opinion. Each, in so far as he honestly holds his opinion, must wish to see it accepted as true or beneficial; and hence, if he speaks at all, must speak to gain his end. To represent is to act as deputy for a given interest, and