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THE CITIZEN PEER.
February, 1850. ONE of our most distinguished fellow citizens is, we understand, to be speedily advanced to the honours and dignity of the Peerage, by the title of Baron Overstone. The road by which Mr. Samuel Jones Loyd will have arrived at this dignity is one which is seldom travelled,---namely, that of individual merit. It is indeed probable that the vast wealth of which he is reputed to be the possessor, counts for much in the calculations of those by whom he has been invited to assume the coronet; but we believe that the personal qualities of the eminent ex-banker, his accurate knowledge of some of the most difficult subjects which the Legislature is called upon to consider, coupled with a rare talent for lucid and condensed exposition of his views, have supplied still more weighty motives for placing him in the House of Lords. The acquisition, by the party in possession of office, of a recruit of so valuable a quality, is matter of congratulation to all their friends, whilst the country may well regard with satisfaction the presence in Parliament of a man of large possessions, combining talent of no common order with a sincere love of progress, and a sound appreciation of the public interests.
For many years past, the friends of Mr. Loyd have regretted that the sphere of his influence should be so limited, and that the confidence felt in his sagacious counsels should be shared by those alone to whom
his society was accessible. But to the House of Commons he was little suited. He regarded that assembly as one in which a man's capacity to be of service to the public was more than counterbalanced by the extreme annoyance to which the licence permitted there to personal attacks subjects him; especially after the period of youth is past, and the habit of self-respect has become comparatively sensitive.
In the Upper House, to do it justice, more attention is given to expository speeches; a greater decorum prevails; and, what is of still more value to an advocate of farsighted principles in any walk of legislation, the speaker is unfettered by the control of constituents. And here, in fact, lies the important distinction between the debates in the respective Chambers. The standard by which a member of the House of Commons adjusts his discourse is necessarily kept down to the quality which suits his supporters in the borough or county he represents. That of a peer needs to be adjusted by no considerations except such as belong to his theme, unless perhaps we admit party motives as likely to influence his arguments. From party motives, however, the new peer will probably derive but slender inspiration; although doubtless his inclinations will lead hiin to put out his strength, when occasion and conscience concur, in favour of the Whig Government.
The reasons in support of a double chamber of legislation would seem to be sustained by the experience of recent Continental events. If, in truth, we hold by the old song, “Crabbed age and youth cannot live together," and farther, if mature age and property are to be allowed their fair proportion of influence in
the national councils, then must an Upper House be maintained for its exercise. For since the changes in the Lower House, brought about by the infusion of a class somewhat addicted to infringe upon polite rules and customs, it cannot be disguised that the well-bred and more instructed section of that body feel themselves unequally yoked; whilst their taste is offended, and their health impaired, by a profitless attendance in a heterogeneous assembly, of which the greater number are indifferent to the real merits of the questions debated before them.
Viewed under this aspect, therefore, the present House of Commons would seem to retain its attraction for gentlemen of large stake in the country, chiefly as offering the means of maintaining their political influence, and as a step towards the Upper House. And it is creditable to the Government that it waived this customary probation in the case of Mr. Jones Loyd. To have bestowed the character of a legislator for life upon an independent and unpolitical commoner, of the commercial class, falls in with the temper of the times, and is likely to give general satisfaction out of doors.
November, 1850. The events of the day, notified as they are by the various organs which the ingenuity of man now devotes to the business of supplying "news" all over the world, are enough to occupy most persons' minds during the hours which business or the cares of life leave us for the indulgence of reading. indeed, is the sequence of incidents which pass before the eyes of Europe, that few people can discern in the facts such a connexion as may afford a clue to the really pervading influences at work on the old frame of society. That there is such a connexion may nevertheless be affirmed; and one which it is amply worth while to watch and trace, were it only for the sake of curiosity, but which it more behoves us to detect and interpret in the hope of turning our knowledge to wholesoine profit for the coming time.
The lower classes of the people of Europe may in these days be likened to a child who has become possessed of a watch. He sees the dial, and the hands at work; it performs certain processes with given results; his curiosity impels him to break open his machine and examine the structure and contrivances; whereby he destroys it, and the watch ceases to go. The old governments of Continental Europe have been in like fashion exposed to view; broken into by popular curiosity, prompted by popular displeasure; and the actual result is, that they, like the watch,
have one and all ceased to perform, or at least have come into so dismal a state of confusion that everywhere is found consternation, disunion, vacillation, and alarm. One
One power alone may be said to have got “on her legs” once more, which is Austria; and that she is insolvent is admitted even by her stanch supporter the Times newspaper. But Austria, at least, "knows what she would be at," which is more than can be predicated of any other European cabinet. She wants to bring matters back to a position nearly resembling that in which governments stood prior to the revolution of 1848. With Russia at her elbow, Austria is therefore labouring in her vocation, and has recently shown her sincerity by aiding one of the lesser German states to resist manifestations of disaffection among its subjects. On the other side, the King of Prussia, with characteristic weakness and incapacity of foreseeing political results, has been worse than a nullity in regard to the advancement of Liberal doctrines in Germany. By his trimming and dissimulating conduct, he has forfeited all claim to confidence on the part of the friends of progress, whilst he has become odious in the eyes of his more consistent and clearsighted fellow monarchs, His pretended demonstrations in behalf of the people of Hesse have been proved insincere; and the King of Prussia is now, although wielding an immense military force, completely at sea as to how to play out his own foolish game. I need not particularize the sources of this embarrassment, which must be patent to the eyes of such as have observed passing events with any
attention of late. But the combination of Austria and Russia against the growth of popular