The Evening Star TUESDAY, JULY 30, 1889.
Bykon, in his ' Childe Harold,' says of history that it 1831-2 and Is the moral ot all human tales; 188!). 'Tia but the tamo rehearsal of the past. The truth of these lines is singularly illustrated if the present struggle in our House of Representatives is compared with that memorable debate in the House of Commons which took place in IS3I-2 on the introduction of the Reform Bill. That great movement, which rendered Constitutional Government possible, was opposed by the Tories, who employed every Parliamentary device in order to obstruct the passing of the Bill. It was brought into the House by Lord John Russell, on the Ist of March, 1831. While the circumstances differ very materially in many respects from those which form the subject of disagreement in our House, there is a singular analogy in the means employed to defeat the Bill. It would be amusing to contrast the style of argument between the members of the two Legislatures. This is, however, impossible; for while the delates in the House of Commons were fully reported, our members have chosen to speak to each other only, and not to their constituents: so that what they have said leaks out through unauthorised channels, and must be dealt with as the virtuoso did with the story of the three black crows. AVhat is reported of the sayings of any membcr'inay, or may not, be true. On the whole, perhaps, it is as well that no record will stare a member in the face when telling his constituents of his deeds of oratory ; and he may thus astonish them when Grac'd with some merit, and with more effrontery, " His country's pride," he conies down "to the country."
Among the opponents of the Reform Bill were members whose names arc numbered amongst England's greatest benefactors, The reform which they had opposed became in their hands in after times the means of sweeping away abuses and burdens which had interrupted national progress for ages. The style of argument adopted by the Tories was singularly likethat which incur Houseof Representatives is characteristic of those who style themselves "Liberals." One instance will be sufficient. Sir Robert H. Inglis (ive had almost written Stout) said: "The "great benefit of the constitution of the "House of Commons as it now exists " (though if the noble Lord's—Russki.l—plan "be adopted that will cease) is that it " represents all interests and admits all " talents. If the proposed change takes place "it will be entirely confined to one interest, " and no talent will be admitted but the "single one of mob oratory." The Bill was eventually passed by a majority of 106, the numbers being 345 to 239. " The leading "anti-reformers spoke night after night in " opposition to different parts of clauses." Sir Robert Peel (the leader of the Tories) spoke forty-eight times, Croker fiftyseven times, Sir Charles Wetherell fifty-eight times, and " other members "of the Opposition vied with them in "obstructive eloquence." It was debated amid disadvantages which have not oppressed our members. The chronicles of the day tell us that " hour after hour, in all " the heat of July, when the thermometer at " times ranged from 75° to 80", the weary debates dragged on with endless iteration." The climate may be different, the iteration similar, but of the style, less the polish, we may say— Nothing is new—wo walk where others went; Thertj's no vice now but ha 3 its precedent.
Permanent link to this item
The Evening Star TUESDAY, JULY 30, 1889., Evening Star, Issue 7972, 30 July 1889
The Evening Star TUESDAY, JULY 30, 1889. Evening Star, Issue 7972, 30 July 1889
Using This Item
Allied Press Ltd is the copyright owner for the Evening Star. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Allied Press Ltd. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.