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word "gentlemen." The first offence is passed over; the second usually produces smiles and laughter; but on a third occurrence the " gentlemen" raise the cry of "Order," and the inadvertent popular orator is then reminded that he is neither in the Guildhall, nor Freemasons' Hall, nor yet presiding over a meeting of railway shareholders, but in the House of Commons.

The Lord Chancellor, on entering the House of Lords, is preceded by his macebearer and purse-holder. There is, however, no such intimation of his entrance as there is of the Speaker's approach in the House of Commons. The latter functionary, whether he is entering to take the chair, or is returning from the House of Lords, is announced with state and observance. The folding-doors are flung open; a messenger, with Stentorian lungs, shouts out "Mr. Speaker!" and all the members rise until he has taken the chair, and the serjeant-at-arms has deposited the mace upon the table. Moreover, no business can be transacted in the absence of the Speaker, unless the House be in what is termed " a committee of the whole House," with the Speaker's chair vacant, and the Chairman of committees occupying a chair at the table. But business can go on in the House of Lords whether the Lord Chancellor be present or not; the peer who is the standing chairman of committees in the House of Lords takes his place as locum tenens, and vacates it when the Chancellor enters without any formality or ceremony. The chairman of committees in the House of Lords for the last thirty-six years has been the Earl of Shaftesbury, father of Lord Ashley.

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It is the night of the Address-the opening of the Session-and both Houses are crowded. We now perceive that both in Lords and Commons the movers and seconders of the Address are in Court costume. It depends on the individual what dress he may assume. If a military officer, a lord lieutenant, or a commander of a troop of yeomanry, he most usually selects the dress indicative of his particular rank. If a plain gentleman, he may select perhaps the Windsor uniform, or perhaps the Court dress of black coat of formal cut, knee buckles, and sword. One of the most remarkable deviations from the ordinary usage occurred at the commencement of the Session of 1845, when Lord Glenlyon appeared in the garb of a Highland Chief. The Address is, of course, the reply of the Legislature (each House acting in its separate capacity) to the Royal Speech; and if no unusual opposition is apprehended, is most usually voted with comparatively little discussion.

The Lord Chancellor puts the question. Lord Lyndhurst is, indeed, a remarkable man. He is now seventy-four years of age; but though, as he walks, you can detect indications of infirmity, his musical voice is still unbroken, and he still states a case with all that lucid and judicial gravity with which, during a long career, he has fascinated juries, compelled the attention of the House of Commons, and obtained the tempered applause of the House of Lords. Glance down the benches on the right hand side of the House. The Duke of Wellington sits with his legs stretched out, his arms crossed, and his chin seemingly buried in his chest. You would think he was asleep; on the contrary, he is very wide awake. The old man, now seventyseven years of age, is still active, keen, and attentive to details; though, when he rises and swings his hat between his thumb and forefinger, fumbles with his frock coat, and occasionally raises his voice to a shrill scream, you wonder, until convinced by the tall figure, and the well-known features, if it be the great warrior of the age. He is not a Julius Cæsar, though his Dispatches' are as characteristic as himself. He is not an Alexander the Great; for, having conquered the universal Conqueror, he did not sit down to weep that he had no more military work to do, but subdued his

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ambition to civil service, and his " duty to his sovereign." Comparisons are useless; Marlborough and Wellington will fill their respective places in history. Turning into the House of Commons we perceive that expectation is raised. House is crowded. On the front benches sit Sir Robert Peel, Sir James Graham, and the leading members of the ministry. On the opposite front bench are the "leaders of Her Majesty's Opposition" (thanks to Mr. Tierney, who coined the felicitous phrase), Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, and other conspicuous members. Ministerial revelations are expected. Before the commencement of the Session of 1845, Mr. Gladstone somewhat mysteriously quitted his post of President of the Board of Trade, and his seat in the Cabinet, and the public was anxious to know why. On that occasion, instead of taking his seat on the "ministerial bench," he sat lower down, and from thence explained the causes of his retirement. Before the Session of 1846 he again joined the administration, succeeding Lord Stanley as Colonial Secretary; but not yet having been re-elected as a representative, he does not appear in his proper place. But on the commencement of the Session of 1846, there was much general excitement. Political events had sharpened public curiosity, and on that day (the 22nd of January, 1846) there was presented the somewhat unusual spectacle of a Prime Minister rising immediately after the mover and seconder of the Address had concluded, eager to give those explanations of his conduct in resigning and resuming office, for which members and the world at large were waiting with solicitous anxiety.

Sir Robert Peel, who at the present time holds the office of First Lord of the Treasury, and is, consequently, the head of the government, is now fifty-eight years of age. He is tall, has a "Saxon" look, flaxen hair, and light eyes; his nose is aquiline, his bust is good, very slightly corpulent, but his legs are not proportionate to his figure. From whatever cause, he has a sort of awkward, bashful look when entering the House, or going through any unusual ceremony; but at the present time, partly because of advance in age, partly from growing indifference to that public observation to which his temperament is naturally sensitive, he evinces less of what the French call mauvaise honte than formerly. But at the table of the House of Commons he is in his proper place. There he shines. He speaks as with authority, and is rarely treated with indifference or neglect. Yet when we come to estimate his character, and to measure it with that of other statesmen, we are compelled to do so rather by a series of negatives than of positives.


It would be unjust to Sir Robert Peel, and unfair to the public at large, to measure him by any of the great men of a generation passed, and whom Lord Brougham has vivified in his remarkable Sketches of the Statesmen of the Times of George the Third.' Unjust it would be to Sir Robert Peel, unfair to that public of whose changing social condition he is the exponent and the practical realiser. He is not haughty, great, and grand like Chatham. He is not at least fairly comparatively-sounding, sonorous, and inflexible, like Chatham's son, William Pitt; nor like Fox, is he a slovenly" Demosthenes; nor like the late Lord Grey, austere; nor like Plunket, commanding; nor like Grattan, epigrammatic; nor like Canning, gracefully sparkling; nor like Sheridan, witty; nor like Windham, acutely paradoxical. Sir Robert Peel is not a genius; he is not a creator; he is not, in the very large sense, a lofty-minded statesman: yet, if he cannot "create a soul under the ribs of death," we may affirm, dropping down from poetry to somewhat vulgar prose, that, like a bowl of punch, he is a concentration of very conflicting, yet harmonising materials. Without native individuality, he is a very remarkable individual. Hardly a parallel have we for him in

our past public men. And regarding him, not in the light of temporary party politics,. but as a man whose course of conduct affects the material comfort of the born and the unborn, we cannot but consider him as fulfilling a great mission-that of bringing the Past into conformity with the Present, and of enabling the Present to prepare for the Future.

Entering the House of Commons when he was just of age; passing through all the gradations of Under Secretary, Secretary for Ireland, Home Secretary, and Prime Minister, it cannot be said of him that the character of man is fixed at forty years of age. Superficial people reproach him with being a cameleon; but at all events he reflects the changing tints of the times. In youth he adopted and repeated opinions he had heard, but had never digested; in age he abandons his views, not because closet reflection has quietly shown their erroneousness, but because the force of circumstances has made him look abroad, and measure realities with ideal affirmations. Therefore, throughout his whole life he has been-shall we term it a changeling? If the term is permitted, it must be in somewhat of that sense in which wise men are presumed to be school-boys from the cradle to the grave. True, there are always some individuals who are 66 ever learning, and never able to get to the knowledge of the truth;" and Sir Robert Peel is open to the reproach of being comparatively insensible to the force of principles before they make themselves felt in actual exigency. But his great distinction is that, which for a want of a more precise or better phrase, we term being a practical" man. Within his range, he discerns with microscopic accuracy. He may be no astronomer, penetrating the nebulous, clouds of futurity; but he can discern well the immediate signs of the sky, and is unrivalled in taking precautions against an impending storm. He has avowed his ambition to be of that lofty kind which looks forward to posterity; and his course, especially in his later years, confirms the idea, that without regard to circumstances or consistency, he seeks to be remembered hereafter for what he has done now.


Suppose we enter the House of Commons on some one of those great nights on which Sir Robert Peel is to make a "statement." It may have been in the year 1842, on the separate occasions when he changed the Corn Law, and altered the Tariff; or it may have been on the 14th of February, 1845, when he was about to promulgate further financial changes; or more recently it may have been on the 22nd of January, 1846, when public expectation was screwed up to its highest pitch, to learn what were to be the further movements of the government. And here, it is not unworthy of notice, that public opinion is not unlike that of Sir Robert Peel's, following results rather than anticipating them. When he changed the Corn Law, in 1842, the House of Commons was crowded, because country gentlemen were anxious to ascertain the nature of the proposed change. And when he propounded the New Tariff, in the same year, there was also a crowded House; for financial legislation, or rather commercial reform, was a great novelty. But the excitement on the 14th of February, 1845, far exceeded that of the year 1842; nevertheless, the occasion was much smaller. The public, however, had been practically taught, like Sir Robert Peel, that principles might be productive; and they rushed down to the House of Commons, in 1845, more anxious to learn about the repeal of the duties on wool, cotton, and vinegar, than they were about the promulgation, in 1842, of the great truth, that the soul of commerce lies in "buying in the cheapest and selling in (comparatively) the dearest market."

The excitement, on the 22nd of January, 1846, was still greater than in 1842 or 1845. Political events conspired to render the course to be adopted by the govern

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ment the subject of the deepest public interest. But though the latter night was rendered remarkable by the fact that His Royal Highness Prince Albert paid, for the first time, a visit to the House of Commons, sitting, as a stranger," to witness and to hear the debates, and that a large number of the peerage were also present, the scene did not differ essentially from similar preceding occasions. A crowd, armed with members' orders, block up the entrance to the strangers' gallery; hundreds are eagerly waiting who cannot be accommodated. Even members are not indifferent to the necessity of coming down early, in order to be in their places. The side galleries are thronged-the one opposite to where Sir Robert Peel sits being preferred for the facility of hearing. Public business is to commence at half-past four, and about that time Sir Robert Peel enters. A messenger has brought down to the door a box containing the documents to which reference is to be made, and some ministerial member carries it up to the Treasury bench. Sir Robert Peel, in an under tone, moves the "Order of the Day," that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House. The question is put; the Speaker declares that the "Ayes" have it; he quits the chair; one of the clerks lifts the mace, and places it under the table; the chairman of committees takes his seat in a little chair, and Sir Robert Peel rises. Addressing the chairman of committees by name ("Mr. Bernal," or " Mr. Greene,” as the case may be), he proceeds with his financial statement. He speaks for three, or possibly it may be four hours; and on concluding the listener is surprised by the fact that for so long a period his attention has been enchained by that which, in other hands, would have proved a tedious statement of dry facts and figures.

This is the great charm of the orations of Sir Robert Peel. Sir John Hobhouse once paid him the compliment of saying that one was never tired of listening to him. He neither startles nor tires; rarely works up the feelings into enthusiasm, still more rarely permits them to subside into sluggishness. The voice is not sonorous; but it is clear, pleasing, never arresting the ear by over-powering harmony, yet never permitting it to be grated by a harsh note. The elocution is itself an illustration of his character. Great orators condense original ideas into startling phrases, and these pass current among men as the coinage of intellect. Sir Robert Peel has never done this. "Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn," are not emitted from his lips. Yet for the three or four hours during which we have been listening to him, he never has halted for a word, never misplaced a phrase, and never excited the sensation of fatigue. The stream is not deep, but it is perfectly lucid; the pebbles at the bottom can all be counted. No member of the present House of Commons surpasses-nay, even rivals-Sir Robert Peel in that artistic management of his topics, and that level clearness and facility of expression which imprint on the mind a fac simile of his speech. He is continuous without monotony, fascinating without fire, and calm (at least on all ordinary occasions) without feebleness. When he attempts, as occasionally he does, a higher flight of oratory, he becomes turgid. But he is somewhat conscious of this, and rarely ascends. Accordingly, the staple of his speeches is business, and though not unfrequently verbose, he never opens his mouth without addressing himself to the apprehension of his audience; his prime quality consists in a combined uniformity of mind and voice, which carry him through a long statement at a sustained level, without exhausting his own powers or those of his auditors.

One of the greatest of living orators, Lord Brougham, lays down, as a test of a great mind, the power of making a vigorous reply to an able attack. As "iron sharpens iron," the clash of intellect, like the collision of flint and steel, throws out a sparkling stream. Next to Lord Brougham, this power has been most strikingly

exemplified by Lord Stanley. If his faculties are stimulated by assault, he rises with the occasion, and with wonderful rapidity pours out a torrent of unhalting sarcasm or invective, delivered with an easy, careless air, which drives every pointed observation home. In the great contests of former days, Lord Stanley was the only speaker in the House of Commons of whom Mr. O'Connell professed himself to be afraid. Again, who has ever heard Lord Brougham speak, without wonder at the power which mind can confer upon voice? An enunciation naturally harsh is so modulated and controlled that we are carried through a series of involved sentences without perplexity, until, at the close, the Ciceronian orator literally pierces the intellect by the concluding phrase, which is the key-note to the whole. In days now gone by, before railroads compelled newspapers to start at a moment's notice, and when the House of Commons, on "field nights," thought nothing of sitting till four or five o'clock in the morning, Brougham and Canning used to watch each other across the table, eagerly waiting for the advantage of reply: the graceful and accomplished orator being aware that his rival, by a single intonation, or even a pointing of the finger, could overwhelm with ridicule the substance of a well-prepared speech. No such things are now witnessed in the present House of Commons. Mr. Macaulay is grand, stately, striking; in despite of a somewhat ungraceful person and discordant voice, he never speaks without commanding the attention of the House, and hurrying it into raptures of approbation. Yet Mr. Macaulay cannot speak in reply; preparation is essential to him; and even with preparation he is nervous, anxious, uneasy, until he has poured out his cogitations. On the nights, too, on which he intends to speak, a child might discern the fact. He sits with his arms crossed; his head is frequently thrown back, as if he were attentively surveying the roof; and though the SPEAKER of the House of Commons is a perfectly impartial man, and fills his office to the satisfaction of every member, one can scarcely doubt that he often relieves a poet and an orator from his uneasiness by naming Mr. Macaulay at an early period of the evening.

Sir James Graham is an able administrative member of the executive government, and occasionally made a "heavy, pounding speech," when the occasion was exciting, and the topic a party one. But on ordinary occasions he is tame, subdued, with a voice pitched frequently too low to be heard with comfort. Lord Palmerston, who, at sixty-two years of age, still preserves the vigorous appearance and graceful proportions of a handsome man of forty, is perhaps as effective a speaker as any member of the present House of Commons. Intellectually, he is one of the ablest men of the party to which he professes to belong. Yet he is not good in reply, despite of a House of Commons' training of the same duration as that of Sir Robert Peel's. Lord John Russell is frequently much better; his sententious method rendering a retort telling, and sometimes most effective. But there is no great oratorical mind in the existing House.. Sir Robert Peel is heard and seen to best advantage in making an important statement. Measuring him, however, with his present rivals, he is most effective in reply. His memory is excellent, his attention is great, and his practical intellect enables him at once to hit an objection between "wind and water." Never running before the breeze, never outstripping the intelligence of his contemporaries, he waits until the pioneers of intellect and progress have mapped out the road, and then calls on his compeers to follow him. In reply, he collects the scattered topics of the debate, arranges them all in admirable order, and if he fail, as unquestionably he does, in leaving the impress of genius, he yet inspires the feeling that he is the readiest, the best, the most effective exponent of the hour. Though not

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