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Newcastles? Is it the apostle of temperance who sits for Derby? or the honourable member for Montrose, to whom age has brought no experience and little enlightenment? We might go on through a long list; but it is needless, and would sound invidious. It would be difficult to name a single man of the middle class in Parliament who has displayed any superior ability, and who is not either in office, or by some peculiarity or defect, obviously unfitted for it. Mr. Shiel, Mr. Wyse, Mr. Ward, were all in office, till they accepted diplomatic posts. Mr. Hawes was in office till, after repeated failures, he sank in despair upon his present feather bed. Mr. Baines and Mr. Strutt have been in office, and will be, we trust, again. And Charles Buller, an abler man than any, would probably have risen to high position but for his premature death. Mr. Wilson is in office, or has lately been; who will say, that Mr. Bright, Mr. Cobden, or Mr. Roebuck, ought to be? In the present state of affairs, we do not believe, that if the constituencies will send up middle-class men qualified for office, there is much fear of their being passed over. There may, indeed, be a lingering indisposition to appoint them to the highest posts; but to these they must fight their way, by convincing the country of their pre-eminent qualifications. England will not see her destinies intrusted to a second-rate nobleman, while a commoner of unquestioned superiority and fitness stands beside him ready for the task. But the mistake seems to be, to assume that popular leaders and skilful orators have necessarily any statesmanlike qualities or capacities about them. Probably in five cases out of six their appointment would be scarcely more fatal to the country than to their own fame.
A more really operative cause of the phenomenon we are deploring, may be found in the gradually increasing tendency among our ablest and most fitting men to retire from Parliament, and shrink from public life. Many causes contribute to strengthen and to spread this tendency. In the first place, Parliament is no longer as comfortable or desirable a place as formerly. The work is far harder, the dignity far less, the collateral and sinister advantages far fewer and more uncertain than they used to be. The labour imposed upon those members who really endeavour to do their duty to their constituencies and their country-and no others can long retain their seats-is so severe, that only the strongest frames can bear it, and only the most obstinate ambition will encounter it. Our Senators have to work as hard as the followers of some of the most highly paid professions; and they reap no emolument, little fame, and few thanks. They have to stay in town all summer, and to sit up nearly all night. They have often to put a strong control on their own feelings, and severe restrictions on their own tastes.
Undesirableness of Parliamentary Life.
They have to be considerate and courteous to all their constituents, to endure the caprices of the fretful, the complaints of the captious, the exactions of the unreasonable, and often the insults of the vulgar. The title of M.P. used to be a diploma of distinction: it is now too frequently only the badge and livery of servitude. Formerly, it meant access into the best society, a share in the deepest national interests, admission behind the scenes of the most exciting drama. Now, it signifies, for the vast majority of those who hold it, nothing but enrolment in a miscellaneous herd of over-worked and unremunerated drudges. Formerly, too, a seat in Parliament often gave a man the means of providing for himself, generally of providing for his friends: now, happily and righteously, these ignominious and underhand. perquisites are nearly all swept away. What wonder then that the quiet, the unambitious, the self-respecting-those who, undazzled by the hollow splendour, and undeceived by youthful dreams, can calmly measure the object against the price, the gain against the sacrifice-should incline to keep out of an arena where so much is to be endured, and, unless for the exceptional few, so little to be achieved! What wonder that one, eminent alike in literature and in Parliament, should write thus of the latter life:"There is little reason, in our opinion, to envy those who are still engaged in a pursuit from which, at most, they can only hope that, by relinquishing liberal studies and social pleasures, by passing nights without sleep, and summers without one glimpse of the beauties of nature, they may attain that laborious, that invidious, that closely watched slavery, which is mocked with the name of power."
There is another reason, less selfish and more creditable, which induces many men peculiarly qualified to influence, to guide, and to instruct the country, to retire from public life and seek out other channels of patriotic usefulness. Parliament is no longer the sole, nor the chief arena in which public service can be rendered. Formerly, Parliament was the only place in which the national work was done; a warning voice, if raised anywhere else, was like that of one crying in the wilderness; wisdom and information, speaking elsewhere than at St. Stephen's, spoke without an audience or an echo. It was there that public grievances were made known; it was there that freedom and justice were defended; it was there that public delinquents were brought to public trial and to public shame; it was there that sound views of policy were argued and inculcated, and sound principles of morality disseminated through the national mind. Parliament was not only the great guardian, but the great educator of the people. Now, the Press has superseded many of the functions of Parliament, and performs them far more ceaselessly and efficiently than
Parliament could do. It ferrets out abuses, exposes jobs, and detects secret iniquities and negligences, and strips naked hypocrisies and shams. It represents grievances, denounces oppressions, diffuses information, examines doctrines, and inoculates the country with them. Public meetings too, associations and organizations out of doors, do much to prepare, to instruct, and to inform. In every town, and every circle of society, men who in Parliament would be dumb and powerless, are actively at work in forming and spreading their own opinions. It has become easier to act upon Parliament through the nation, than upon the nation through the Parliament. Hence it has begun to be generally felt, that unless a man be endowed with some rare and special faculties, of which oratory is the first, and a peculiar social tact the second, he will be actually more influential out of Parliament than in it. Those who have had an opportunity of tracing back public movements to their origin, are well aware how many of the most important of them are due to men of whom the world never hears, but yet gifted with great ability, and that peculiar ability most adapted for the public service,— who study in quiet and in patience the great social questions of the day, form their views upon them, and then, either by writing or conversation, contrive to indoctrinate others with them; while ostensible Members of Parliament become the unconscious instruments and mouthpieces of these silent and obscure politicians. Both in the higher and the middle ranks may be found numbers scattered through the land, whose minds are incessantly occupied with public interests, whose views are far profounder, whose knowledge of affairs is greater, whose mastery of subjects is more complete, and whose actual influence on the world's march is more real and more powerful, than is ever attained by those who are prominent before the country, and who are its nominal rulers and administrators.
But not only are the best men often unwilling to go to Parliament-the constituencies are often unwilling to send them there. Those who would make the best legislators and administrators are not always adapted to the tastes or malleable to the purposes of the mass of electors. The qualities which are popular on the hustings are by no means always the qualities which are suited to serve the country in a public capacity, and large constituencies have rarely the judgment to discern what these qualities are, or the patriotism to choose them, when accompanied by cold manners, offensive candour, independent feelings, or unbending tenacity of opinion. Every general election affords instances enough to corroborate our statement. Mr. S. J. Loyd, now Lord Overstone, a man of singular soundness and clearness of view, better accquainted with commercial and financial matters than
Great Orators often bad Administrators.
probably any man living, but too indolent and refining to be easily persuadable to enter on the public arena, was rejected by Manchester. Mr. Macaulay, notwithstanding his unquestioned ability and eloquence, was rejected by Edinburgh; and being unable to find another borough, resigned his seat in the Cabinet, and retired to the fame and comfort of a literary life. Lord Morpeth, the most estimable and the most beloved of public men, was defeated in Yorkshire, and was out of Parliament for several Sessions ;-and Sir James Graham, whom all allow to be the ablest administrator now living, has never sat twice in succession for the same borough, and it is believed was recently prevented from taking office because he dared not risk the chances of a new election.
But the principal cause of the evil we are considering the inadequate supply of public servants of commanding talentlies deeper still, and is inherent in the very constitution of a Parliamentary government such as ours. The more the country needs capable administrators, and the less it needs orators and legislators, the more the evil will become apparent, and the more defective will our system be found. By an ancient and nearly invariable custom our ministers are selected exclusively out of our Parliamentary notabilities. Yet it is undeniable that the qualities which make men formidable leaders, which render them eminent and powerful in Parliament, are very different from those which are required for the efficient and judicious management of government departments. The talking and the acting faculties; the power of doing things well, and the power of defending them skilfully; the talent for "dressing up a statement for the House," and the talent for finding the policy fitted for an Empire; administrative genius and dialectic skill, seldom meet in one mind, and, indeed, belong to wholly distinct classes of intellectual superiority. A Chancellor of the Exchequer may be noted for his thorough mastery of financial science, yet be wholly deficient in the power of addressing a critical audience or of making out a good case for his measures. Or like a recent appointment, he may be a brilliant rhetorician, yet an absolute ignoramus in matters of commerce or taxation. He may delight the House of Commons, but terrify Lombard Street. The Members of Parliament may flock down from Bellamy's as soon as they know that he is on his legs; while the members of the Stock Exchange grow pale when they read of his appointment. The Colonial Secretary too, may rule distant dependencies with the genius of Wellington or Richelieu, yet be unable to speak two consecutive sentences in the House, without a solecism or a blunder. Yet our system passes by the solid governor, and selects the brilliant haranguer.
"Under the Tudors and the early Stuarts, (writes Mr. Macaulay in his review of Sir W. Temple,) it was generally by courtly arts, or by official skill or knowledge, that a politician raised himself to power. From the time of Charles II., down to our own days, a different species of talent, parliamentary talent, has been the most valuable of all the qualifications of an English statesman. It has stood in the place of all other acquirements. It has covered ignorance, weakness, rashness, the most fatal mal-administration. A great negotiator is nothing compared with a great debater; and a minister who can make a successful speech need trouble himself little about an unsuccessful expedition. This is the talent which has made judges without law, and diplomatists without French; which has sent to the Admiralty men who did not know the stern of a ship from the bowsprit, and to the India Board men who did not know the difference between a rupee and a pagoda; which made a foreign secretary of Mr. Pitt, who, as George II. said, had never opened Vattel, and which was very near making a Chancellor of the Exchequer of Mr. Sheridan, who could not work a sum in long division."
Now, this is a prolific source of mischief, which, as long as Parliament confined itself to its original functions, was comparatively little felt, but which now, in the course of time and through the operation of certain gradual and insensible changes, has become increasingly serious and manifest. While Parliament was a body of notables assembled for purposes of deliberation and discussion, for voting or refusing taxes, for representing national feelings and proclaiming national grievances, the talent of ready speech, clear statement, skilful dialectic, and vehement denunciation, found their proper vocation, and did good service. But when, in process of time, Parliament took upon itself the task of close supervision and control, and of direct and often minute interference with the executive, when it became virtually a governing as well as a legislating and representing body, very different endowments were needed in its members; and its fitness for its new and self-imposed duties became yearly more questionable. Its constitution is much what it used to be, but its functions are materially altered. As the House of Commons has become more popular and more of a debating club, it has also assumed more and more of the labours which popular debating clubs are singularly unsuited to perform. It was admirably adapted for its ancient and original purpose-not at all so for its modern and superinduced one. It was originally a checking, not an acting body-an assembly for securing the subject against the oppression and encroachment of the Crown. In this, its native and intentional function, it is inimitable and unrivalled; for its subsequent and adopted one, it is at best but a clumsy contrivIt is excellent as a defender of our liberties and an ex