« ZurückWeiter »
from their infancy to admire it as a model of the most consummate wisdom, pay unbounded homage to this idol of their imagination, receiving the "ignotum pro magnifico," the unknown for the magnificent. surely if reflection could exercise its just influence, this blind adoration of a phantasm would vanish before the calm voice of reason. To any thinking man, we would put this simple question: Where is the Constitution? Can I see it? Can I read it? Does it exist in any tangible form? Are its principles reduced into writing, so that I may examine it, not only as a whole, but make myself master of each of its constituent parts? Unless all these questions can be answered in the affirmative, the Constitution is beneath the notice of a political philosopher. To speak the truth, Britain has no constitution whatever, in the proper signification of language. A few Acts of Parliament, of doubtful construction, some scanty precedents, of ambiguous authority,-half a score of judicial dicta, vague and indefinite in their meaning,-these are the materials of that political nondescript before which so many millions have bowed the knee, and worshipped. And what, hitherto, has been the practical result? It is this: that in the absence of a real constiution, men have looked entirely to party; and instead of principles governing parties, parties have trampled principles beneath their feet.
In the present state of public affairs, we find many examples which illustrate this view of our subject, among which the most prominent is the state of Ireland. In reference to that misgoverned country, the principle of the equality of rights has been, and still is, most grossly violated. The memorable debate on the Municipal Corporation's Bill is a striking example of the gross injustice which the conservative party have dealt out to the sister kingdom. Never was there a more lamentable example of party triumphing over principle,-of might overcoming right, of exclusiveness arrayed against universality. Lord Lyndhurst substantially affirmed that the union was nominal, and not real-a parchment contract, and not a social compact,—and he, an American by extraction, denounced seven millions of Irishmen, in justification of his argument, as aliens in blood. The declamation was as inflated, as the reasoning was hollow, but it suited the vitiated tastes of a prejudiced audience, unversed even in the rudiments of political philosophy; and truth was immolated at the shrine of faction. Such a victory, however, will assuredly be followed by a signal defeat, and though the partizans of Lyndhurst declared that he rose like a rocket, it requires no great foresight to predict that, ere long, he will fall like the stick.
We have said that the political philosopher should always be in advance of the spirit of the age in which he lives. He knows that every people, who live under free institutions, will progress onwards to some point at which the preceding generation had not arrived; and it is
his business to anticipate the date of these periodical changes, to weigh well the circumstances under which they will occur, and consider by what measures they may be most securely realized. The very nature of his office thus draws down upon him the sneers, the hatred, and the obloquy of the masses; he shocks their pride, he wounds their prejudices, he alarms their fears; he is ridiculed as an experimentalist, decried as an innovator, despised as a charlatan; and why? because while the multitude are content to gaze on the surface of things, he penetrates to their origin, and observes the workings of the silent machinery of civilization. But this is not the position of the practical statesman. It is his province to watch the signs of the present time; to note the prevailing opinions of the day; and to steer his vessel, as the wind blows. He may agree with the political philosopher, that a momentous change, sooner or later, must be effected; but he may differ with him, as to the exact period when it may be judiciously consummated. They may accord on the principles which govern events, but their opinions may vary as to the circumstances under which those principles may be most advantageously developed. It is never to be expected that all men are to change their opinions at the same moment, for there never was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious, that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must co-operate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and, therefore, those who happen to be first convinced have no right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of Radicalism is to instruct; not to destroy.
Under this aspect, we may view the two great political parties which divide the people of England. Lord Melbourne has displayed the foresight of a philosopher, and the discretion of a statesman; he has based his government on a principle, from which he has never swe werved, and prudently abstained from pushing that principle into practice, with a rapidity that might alarm prejudice, and create reaction. Up to a certain point, he has felt his way with admirable tact; he has shown his sincerity by introducing measures in accordance with popular desire; some he has carried on others, he has been defeated; but even his defeats are the precursors to victory, if the people are true to themselves. He has won confidence by straightforward manliness and honesty; he has shown the Commons that he is their friend, and given them the opportunity of discovering their enemies; if it be said that he has done too little, let us ask, where shall we find the man, among all his predecessors, who ever did so much? We have now at the head of affairs a minister, who has repudiated the stale and worthless doctrine of expediency, and resolved to carry out the principle of equality of rights;
and it rests with the electoral constituencies to strengthen that power, which he seems tuliy resolved to wield, for the impartial benefit of the people of the United Kingdom.
If we weigh the character, and test the conduct of his opponents, we find the characteristic of their policy to be, a total want of principle. They have always governed the nation, for the benefit of a party. They resisted the abolition of slavery, until they were paid twenty millions, as a compensation. They only conceded the Catholic claims, in order to retain their places. They exerted the whole of their power, to preserve the rotten boroughs. When court intrigue dismissed the Melbourne cabinet, Sir Robert Peel avowed his determination to carry out the principle of reform, against which he had been fighting during the whole of his political life, and he, who had been tried for twenty years, had the impudence to ask the public for what he called "a fair trial." At the merchant tailor's dinner, he gloried in being the son of a cotton spinner, wishing it to be inferred that he was one of the people, while he always has been, in reality, the veriest hack that the aristocracy ever bestrode. He talked smoothly of adopting a plan of "temperate and moderate reform," an unmeaning phrase, which denotes either weakness, or duplicity. If there be any value in words, a thing moderately reformed, is not reformed as much as it might be. What he would have done, as a minister, may be easily inferred from his votes in opposition.
We believe that the time has now come when the political system of this enlightened nation must be based on principles, so that our rulers must prepare themselves to be judged by their deeds, and not by their professions. The whig-radical party have the opportunity of carrying on the government on this plan, and gradually accelerating the movement. We take it for granted that their tenure of office is now rendered permanent, and can only be brought to a close by their imprudence; for the king would violate every principle of justice, if he again confided the great seal to the Anglo-American lord, who denounced seven millions of his subjects as "aliens," and thus declared them unworthy of enjoying the same privileges as the people of England and Scotland.
THERE'S joy among the nations now in every Christian heart,
The aged on the grave's dread brink look fearlessly around,
For well they know the tyrant Death by Heaven's own Son is bound;
The mother looks upon her babe with all a mother's love,
"My own, dear, happy innocent," the blissful mother cries,
The young in years and sorrow now forget their little cares;
There's happiness on earth as yet to lighten mortal wo,
Another year of earthly time hath disappeared for aye,
Be joy among the nations then, in every Christian heart,
J. D. PIERCEY.
IGNATIUS LOYOLA, THE FOUNDER OF THE
IN 1491, the lady of the castle of Loyola, in Biscay, feeling, for the eleventh time, the pangs of childbirth, desired that she might be carried into a stable, in memory of the accouchement of the virgin, and there she brought forth a son, named Inigo, or Ignatius. In early life one of the pages of Ferdinand the Fifth, and afterwards a soldier, the young Loyola defended Pampeluna, in 1521, then besieged by the French, when a fragment of stone broke his left leg, and a cannon ball, at the same moment, fractured his right. He was attended by the surgeons on the spot, and conveyed thence to his father's castle. The operation of setting the limbs was badly performed, and the bones were out of their place. In order to restore them to their natural position, he was told that the limb must be broken again. To this the patient immediately assented.
This leg was as badly set the second time, as the first. A bone permanently projected below the knee, and prevented the sufferer from wearing the long military boots then in fashion. He had the courage to have it rasped away, without uttering a cry, or moving a muscle of his face. Nor was this the only punishment he underwent, to get rid of any physical deformity. The thigh of his right leg having become shortened, he consented to have it forcibly stretched by an iron
machine; but no fortitude of his own, and no skill of the operators, could bring it down to the length of its companion; and Loyola remained lame.
During his convalescence, he felt the necessity of books to while away the time, and demanded the popular romances of chivalry, which were his favorites: but books of that description were not allowed to enter the castle of his bigotted father, who presented his son with a more edifying work, entitled "The Flowers of the Saints." These wonderful stories produced the liveliest impression on his imagination, and he then determined to consecrate the remainder of his days to the service of God. Full of this idea, he passed a whole night armed from head to foot before the altar of the Virgin Mary, and placed his sword and dagger on a neighbouring pillar, in conformity with the laws of ancient chivalry. A Moor, who was present at the ceremony, and maintained that Mary ceased to be a virgin when she became a mother, narrowly escaped being killed by the new convert.
Loyola then proceeded to Maurèze, a small and obscure town, but which he rendered famous by his penance. He took up his lodgings at the hospital, and commenced his mortifications by keeping his fast on bread and water every day, except Sundays, on which he ate a few cooked vegetables, mixed with ashes; he wore coarse horse-hair against his skin, scourged himself three times daily, lay on the bare earth, and scarcely slept during the night. He was seen to beg his bread from door to door, affecting the airs of a beggar by profession; he was at once so disgusting and so ludicrous, that children pointed at him with their fingers, pelted him with stones, and applied to him the most opprobrious language. At length the secret of his birth and family was bruited about at Maurèze, on which he fled, and sought a retreat at the foot of a mountain about a quarter of a league from the town. He there lived in a cavern, the mouth of which was almost closed with brambles, and into which light was only admitted through a fissure in the rock. There he inflicted on himself those cruelties which rendered his name so famous: four or five times per diem, he scourged himself with an iron chain, and, following the example of St. Jerome, he used to strike his breast sharply with a flintstone. Some persons found him at the outside of the cavern, when he had fainted away from bodily suffering, and took him back to the hospital. His brain was sensibly affected by abstinence and torture; he fell into a state of profound melancholy, groaned audibly night and day, and scarcely ever took an hour of repose. He uttered the most frantic cries,-rolled himself in the dirt, and when his exhausted strength would no longer allow him to continue this discipline, he sunk into a state of torpor and insensibility.
The Dominicans of Maurèze, touched with compassion, charitably took him into their establishment, and endeavoured to cure him of his madness. Their efforts were not unavailing; his desponding melancholy was gradually softened down into a harmless mania, and his feelings passed, as it were, from hell to paradise. The historians of his life say that, at this period, the apparitions, illuminations, extacies, and visions which had tormented him, disappeared. They declare that God had pity upon him, and instructed him in the mysteries of religion by a direct and personal revelation, having thrown Loyola into a mystie trance, which lasted eight days. It was then that he received the