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1839. Lord Lyndhurst's Review of the Last Session.
Art. IX.-1. Speech of the Right Hon. Lord Lyndhurst,
delivered in the House of Lords, Aug. 23, 1839. London. 2. “ Shall we overturn the Coach ?"-A letter to George
Grote, Esq. M.P. London. 3. The Ministerial Crisis. By T. Gisborne, Esq. Junior.
t is recorded of a lady of fashion, that being once at a water
that, for the sake of example, she might as well go to church. Accordingly, one Sunday, her ladyship, attended by the young ladies, entered the chapel most in request, and having boldly. marched up the aisle, requested the pew-woman to give them the best seats for hearing the preacher—' a private pew, if you please, with a curtain: let it be the warmest you have, with a stove in it: put the footman close by, that he may be in 'the way to open the door. I prefer, if you please, that pew " lined with red cloth; it looks comfortable.' • Madam,' said the startled pew-woman, “I am very sorry—but we have not
a seat to give you.' The lady paused--turned round to her daughters, and said (as she walked out), with the complacency of a satisfied conscience—Well, my dears, at all events we have • done the civil thing! The consolation of the noble and learned Lord, the title of whose speech stands amongst those of the publications prefixed to this article, is something of the same kind. If he has not secured his place, he has at least done the civil thing. So elated are his Lordship and his party with the attempt, that they are not contented without making known so laudable an action to all the world. The civil thing is not only done, but, what is more, the civil thing is published and sold for popular distribution at two shillings and sixpence sterling per dozen!
We own that to us there seems something a little farcical in the sessional ceremony which Lord Lyndhurst deems it necessary to the institutions of the country to perform. What might have had point and effect in the first instance, argues poverty of invention when carried into an annual exhibition. This formal parade of verbal hostility—this speech without a result this elaborate censure, which does not dare to risk a vote—this unqualified reprobation of the past, which shrinks from all application to the future—this roar about impeachments ending in a nibble at papers-appears to us but a very frivolous amusement
in the leaders of a party that professes to have on its side all the respectability of the country, when they wind up their yearly campaign against a Ministry who, in the words of the noble and learned Sessional Reviewer, are regarded by the people with • batred and contempt.' If Lord Melbourne and his colleagues, as Lord Lyndhurst
pursue a course considered, and justly, by the consti• tution of these realms as a high misdemeanour, subjecting the . parties to impeachment—why not draw up the articles, and come at once to the trial? To strut forth on the stage, periodically at fair-time, with all this parade of invective, with a ferrea vox and a sword of tin, does not remind us so much of Coningsby as of Cattersello. His Lordship entitles his speech
a Review of the Session. His review is like that of the Persian at Thermopylæ. He leaves what were slain of the enemy on the field, but he carefully buries the losses on his own side. He not only exults over the measures that have been slaughtered, but over those he had meant to slaughter. In a sort of Virgilian Hades, conjured up by his Lordship's poetical imagination, he sees before him the innocent spectres of Bills .yet unborn; and is heroically indignant that he has not yet had the pleasure of butchering them. While he finds so much cause for exultation, he must permit us to look out for comfort. And, in the first place-Lord Lyndhurst is not in office. It may
be the misfortune of this Government, that many of its measures on behalf of liberty, civil and religious, have beea defeated or unavoidably delayed; but it has not existed, nor does it yet struggle in vain, whilst it interposes a check to the encroachments of a grasping and intolerant party. If it cannot completely carry out the principles of good government, it is not therefore useless whilst it prevents the formation of a bigoted ministry. It may be true that it has not yet established for Ireland municipal institutions, upon just and liberal conditions of equality with England; but whilst it exists, it at least prevents a Municipal Bill that would strengthen the oligarchy in professing to be popular. If it cannot carry the low, it prevents the establishment of the high franchise. It may be true that it has not yet secured to the Canadas a constitution conformable to the wants and circumstances of the colonists; but the Canadas are saved at least from the counter-legislation of those whose contemptuous neglect fostered abuses; and whose factious spirit at the ninth hour not only palters with the remedies for discord, but hazards the efficacy of protection to property and life. Whatever may be the patriotism of the Tories at home, it is difficult to regard their treatment of the Colonies without strong and unqualified reprehension. The fairest portions of the empire secured to England by her arms and commerce her last possessions in the New World--are torn by civil commotion-law suspended-trade arrested : on one side, the English settlers, stubborn in the pride of race, exasperated by the animosities of years, despising the ignorance which thwarted all improvement, enraged at the ferocity which menaced their homes; on the other side, an uninformed, simple, credulous peasantry, roused by a handful of demagogues into a rebellion, not the less lamentable because hopeless; on the frontiers, all the desperate spirits of an adventurous population, feebly restrained by the weak Executive of a Republic. The Crisis appealed not only to the honour of the Mother Country, but to her humanity; and if ever there were occasion in which it behoved statesmen for a while to lay aside those hostilities of party—the object of which is the possession of place—that occasion was in the appointment of a Governor-General sent to the Canadas at such a time. It was in vain to suspend a constitution-in vain to erect an authority of parchment-if the discontented in Canada--if the borderers of the United States--had merely to glance over a London newspaper, in order to learn that one branch of the domestic legislature was seeking occasion to arraign as a defendant the very man sent out to the Colonies as a judge—that every step of his authority was watched by jealous and malignant eyes--that in the least collision between the administrator and the violators of the law, the violators would be sheltered at the expence of the administrator. Who does not know the whole conduct of the Opposition, from the moment Lord Durham left England to the hour he returned? Who, with one particle of common sense, can deny, or even doubt, that the condition of the Canadas, and the policy of the Governor, were as completely party questions with the Tories, as the Irish Appropriation Clause or the Reform Bill? It may be lamented that the work begun by Lord Durham was not completed. But it is matter of congratulation, at least, that they who could thwart were not permitted to construct. What constitution--fair, impartial, and permanent-could have been expected from a Government composed of those who, when in power, had not touched a single grievance-who, in opposition, struggled alike against conciliation and authority and who prated of technicalities and forms, when law itself lay in ashes amidst the flames of a civil war? What constitution, except that implied by Lord Chandos, even before Lord Durham had turned his back upon England, when he asked, amidst the cheers of his party, 'Why send a Governor at all? Why not leave the Colonies to the command of Sir John Colborge??
---as if the sword were to be the only instrument for eradicating discontent; and constitutions meant nothing more than the civil subjugation of one race, and the military triumph of another. It is truly amusing to find Lord Lyndhurst complaining that nothing has been done for the settlement of the Canadas. “We were told' he says, that the scheme was abandoned in consequence of information recently received from Canada. What that information was has never been communicated to your lordships, or the other House of Parliament; and any person who will take "the pains to trace the proceedings in Canada for the last six months, will find that no alteration had occurred in the state of things in that country which could bave had any influence upon
this measure. Now, let us look to the fact. When Lord Durham's scheme for uniting the Canadas became known to Upper Canada, that province did not at first seem indisposed to entertain the proposal; it is true that it demanded disproportionate, but it was far from improbable that it might listen to reasonable, terms. Some opposition there was, but it did not promise to be inveterate. The Bill was prepared. Now, did nothing occur in that country which could not have any influence upon this measure? Why, there actually arrived in London, just prior to the abandonment of the scheme, resolutions adopted by a very decided majority of the Legislative Council, against the project of an union, even in the mitigated form in which it had found favour with the Assembly.* The loyalty of the Upper Canadians entitled them at least to respectful consideration on the part of the Mother Country; and her obvious duty, on this new opposition, was to conciliate scruples before she attempted to enforce legislation. But this declaration from one of the constitutional authorities of Upper Canada, Lord Lyndhurst perhaps will still assert to be
nothing that could have any influence on the measure proposed ! for that boasted regard for colonial constitutions-so lynx-eyed when siding with the oligarchy of Jamaica--appears liable to sudden ophthalmia, when the wishes of the Canadian Legislative Council are treated with becoming respect by the Government. The love for constitutional privileges evinced by the Tories, resembles the magic tent in the Arabian Nights-it possesses the most wonderful powers of expansion and diminution. Are abuses to be protected ?—its circumference seems boundless: is liberty to be sheltered ?-it shrivels up into a nutshell.
* The copy of these resolutions was accompanied, we believe, by a strong recommendation the part of the Lieutenant-Governor, to postpone all Parliamentary discussions on the subject of the Union, while the excitement produced by the rebellion was still fresh in Canada.
But the noble lord passes on to Jamaica. There indeed, he displays his love for constitutional rights; and there, no less brilliantly, is exhibited the consistent and sublime superiority to all party considerations of his fellow-labourer in the House of Commons. This question,' said Sir Robert Peel, with great emphasis, when urging the expediency of hearing Mr Burge at the bar, fought not to be considered a party question. Sir Robert is right in bis theory: we will look presently to his practice. As this question, however, is one of extreme importance --as upon it the Government resigned -as in another session it is likely to be renewed, and as the most extraordinary misrepresentations have been made upon the subject, let us, as briefly and clearly as possible, lay before the reader the grounds of the contest between the colony and the mother country, and the reasons for the introduction of the Bill that suspended the constitution of Jamaica. We say nothing of the conduct of the Jamaica planters before, or immediately subsequent to, the Negro Emancipation Act. Indeed, in the article on the Jamaica Question,' in our last Number, that part of the subject was completely exhausted. It is suffi ciently allowed by all parties, that the planters were more willing to take the twenty millions than to carry out the conditions with which the purchase-money was saddled. The Act of Emancipation imperatively demanded legislative provisions for the new state of society it created. Amongst these, the one perhaps most immediately important, was a measure for the regulation of prisons. During the period of slavery (as Mr Labouchere accurately observes in his opening speech on the first Jamaica Bill), the punishments awarded to the Negroes-in other words, to the working population-were inflicted by the domestic authority of the masters. It is obvious that they would have been little disposed to resort to prison discipline, when to imprison a slave was to lose his labour. Prisons were, therefore, of trifling importance in the catalogue of penal inflictions. But after the Act of Emancipation, measures respecting prison discipline became vitally necessary: if left exclusively to the planters, it was quite clear that punishments might be devised to render slavery as barbarous and complete as it was before, and to transfer to the hands of the gaoler the lash of the baflled overseer. But during the period of Apprenticeship, not one step towards the regulation of prisons was taken by the Jamaica Legislature. The most frightful abuses prevailed: Negroes were committed to gaol by special magistrates, tools of the local authorities--these places became pandemoniums of atrocious cruelly and sanguinary revenge--women were flogged, their hair cut off, they died of the