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munity, and interfere with that undivided regard which is necessary for preserving its authority, was unquestionably the principal reason for adopting those very strong measures. . Considering the immense advantages derived by the Government from the power with which Parliament is thus investedthat power in the present state of the representation, and with the patronage belonging to the Crown, being entirely available to the use of the Executive,-it becomes a very doubtful matter, whether all the benefits derived to the country from the publicity of the debates, be not more than counterbalanced by the means, both of attack upon popular rights and escape from the consequences of misrule, thus placed at the disposal of the Crown's servants. But at least this is manifest, that it becomes of consummate importance to keep the attention of the people unremittingly upon the conduct of the individuals who bear a part in those Parliamentary discussions; and to canvass with the most perfect freedom every thing that is said in the course of them. This is absolutely necessary, not only to keep up some control over men who, for the most part, are appointed without the consent of those whom they assume to represent, and who are absolutely irresponsible, except to public opinion, for what they say and do in their public capacity; but it is also essentialiy necessary for the purpose of preventing errors from being propagated by that most powerful instrument which we have been describing, formed by the combination of the whole Press of the country, under the moving force of the Crown and the two Houses.
The double object of checking and improving the debaters, and of preventing their errors from proving injurious among the people, is evidently best attained by passing under review from time to time the most important passages of Parliamentary history. This cannot be done by the newspapers, for many reasons which are sufficiently obvious; but if it could, the advantage would be inconsiderable, because no one recurs to a discussion, how able soever, in a daily or weekly publication ; and it is of the greatest moment to have the Parliamentary commentaries of which we are speaking, preserved for repeated consultation and comparison. Another advantage arises from such periodical reviews, of no little account; that whereas debates, however important the subject, or however ably they are handled, are read only at the time, and even when collected in yearly volumes, are only consulted occasionally for reference, these discussions of their merits, and of the topics connected with them, will tend to preserve the recollection of whatever is most useful in them, and to perpetuate its salutary influence. The work
before us, if well conducted, seems well calculated to secure these salutary and important ends.
The design is, in the first place, to give a correct Report of the Debates of the Session, arranged under different heads, and collecting together all the discussions of the least importance which took place upon each subject. Thus, under the head of Ireland, we have all the debates which took place in either House upon the Catholic Association, the question of Emancis pation, the Two Wings, and the Irish Church Establishment. Under the head of Law, we have the debates upon the Judges' Salaries, the Court of Chancery, the Jury Bill, the Game Laws, and the bills to prevent Cruelty to Animals. Nothing is omitted but the conversations which arose upon points of order, arrangements respecting the day of debating any particular question, and other matters of the like kind, the interest of which is gone as soon as the business is disposed of. The manner in which these Reports have been prepared is not stated. The advertisement to the Second volume states, that they have been carefully * revised and collated ; 'from which we conclude that they are not original reports, but compiled, by selecting the best newspaper reports of each speech, and adding any that may have been published separately. As the whole Session is compressed into less than six hundred pages, the size is considerably less than that of the Parliamentary Debates so ably edited by Mr Wright; but the type is extremely, and indeed painfully small. This part of the work appears to be faithfully performed : and it is certainly a material convenience, to find the whole that belongs to one subject brought together, without hunting over two or three volumes by help of an index-and to find it, too, without the interposition of matter wholly insignificant. A larger type alone seems wanting to render this part of the book com, plete; and this ought to be given, at the risk of increassng the bulk and the cost.
To the Debates in the first volume, the Abstracts of Parliamentary Papers in the second, form an Appendix, of the greatest possible utility. The papers yearly printed fill about fifty folio volumes; many of them contain information of great value; but some are wholly useless; all admit of being methodized and abridged ; and hardly any can be found, from which part may not safely be cut off, except the accounts; and even these are more easily consulted in an octavo, than in a folio page. In this publication, all the most important papers are either given entire, or judiciously abridged, and all the Accounts are given at length. The convenience of having so great a mass of accounts brought together in a form which makes them accessible, can only be understood by those who are accustomed to wade through the annual folios of the House of Commons, and to be lost in that ocean of figures. To this and the Debates, there is want ing a copious index. It will add somewhat to the bulk, indeed; unless it adds considerably, it will be of little value; but if well executed, that is, full, its utility will be great. At present, there is not even an index to the speakers' names.
The Prefatory Treatise consists of an abridgement of Mr Bentham's excellent Book of Fallacies, to which we called the attention of our readers in our 84th Number (vol. xlii. p. 367). This abridgement is very ably made; but we do not exactly agree with the author, that it furnishes an instrument which will enable the reader of the Debates at once to discover the fallacies more prevalent in legislative assemblies, as he says, than among the rest of the community. We think the Treatise is very well worth reading; and that, with the exception of some exaggeration, and a good deal of the fallacy of vituperative personality,' thinly concealed, it abounds in true and useful matter. But men will not judge of the debates by means of this as a test; and we have sufficient proof of it in the work before us, which, after promising to make frequent reference to the Instrument,' pronounces on almost all the matter discussed, pretty much as if it had no existence. Two or three times only is it referred to. .
But although the test is not much used, the principles upon which it is constructed are those which pervade most of the political disquisitions. They are very plainly, not to say bluntly, stated in several parts of the Prefatory Treatise. All men it is asserted, are influenced solely by a regard to their individual interests in its strict meaning, self-interest is the mainspring 6 of human action.' To lament this would show as much weakness as to deny it would show ignorance. It is the principle which at once moves and binds together all human society. But if this is the mainspring of men's conduct in general, most emphatically is it the actuating motive with men in power or authority; and for the rulers of a country to affect superior honesty, or for their political adversaries to affect purity of motives, is represented as the most shameless imposture. Whoever pretends that he acts upon public principle, or from a sense of duty, is an impudent pretender,' or quack,' who, in opposition to the unvaried experience of ages, would have us believe that he is exempt from the common incident of humanity, the disposition to prefer self to others. But if these things are predicable of men in authority more than of other men, it is in the British Parliament, it seems, that they are most strikingly exem. plified. Three causes of bad reasoning having been specified, weakness of intellect, imperfection of language, and sinister interest, the discourse thus proceeds.
"Now, of the three causes of bad reasoning which we have just specified and explained, the sinister interest of the individual disputant is, to an incalculable degree, the most fertile and fatal source of error and delusion. Weakness of intellect may be aided, by instruction, by practice, or the discovery of motives for desiring the attain. ment of truth ;- the imperfections of language may be guarded against and remedied by habits of rigid investigation ;-but sinister interest opposes to the reception of truth an obstacle almost as ip. superable as it is extensively prevailing. The bias which it communicates to the intellect of the individual exposed to it, leads him, often unconsciously, to embrace and receive with disproportionate regard all arguments which tend to support this interest, and to overlook or undervalue all which make against it ;-to find a useful ally in every imperfection of language ;-to acquiesce in established opinions as in established abuses ;-to deprecate inquiry, and even to sneer at any exertion of the thinking faculty.
• To what extent the Members of the British Parliament are ex. posed to the action of sinister interest, is fully understood by those who are aware that these Members conduct, subject to no immediate check, the expenditure of an immense fund raised by taxation: subject to no immediate check, because they are neither elected nor removable by the people, whom they are said virtually to represent, but in considerable numbers avowedly purchase their seats, while a majority of them are indisputably placed in the House by about 180 powersul families, who, either in possession or expectancy, have a direct interest in a prodigal expenditure of the public money, and, as far as possible, in appropriating it to their own purposes. We say, not elected, even by those who vote ; because, according to the ordinary experience of human nature, the candidate or his friend may be affirmed to have it in their power to compel a vote, so long as they have it in their power to make the voter expect evil at their hands if he votes one way, and good if he votes another; and this power they clearly have wherever the open mode of conducting suffrage enables them to ascertain with precision which way a vote has been given.' pp. 3, 4.
What then, it is demanded, has prevented the country from being ruined by the prevalence of sinister motives, in those who have engrossed all the direct power of the State ? What makes England, in point of fact, more prosperous than Russia or Spain? The publicity of discussion, it is answered, and the liberty of the press, which has always existed in spite of the laws and the standing orders of the two Houses." This bas established a tribunal of public opinion, to which Parliament įa obliged in the long run to defer..
. But it is the co-existence of this unacknowledged power with a frame of Government, the members of which are exposed to the action of a powerful sinister interest, that renders the use of fallacies more necessary to the British Parliament than to any other delibera. tive assembly. In countries where freedom of the press and public discussion do not exist, the interests of the many are openly and unhesitatingly sacrificed by force to the interests of the few : the people have it not in their power to require reasons, and no reason is given but the supreme will of the ruler. In England, on the contrary, these ends can only be attained by fraud. In consequence of long established habits of public discussion, the people are too mindful of their own interests, and too strong, to allow them to be openly viɔ. lated : reasons must be given, and reasons sufficient to satisfy or deceive a majority of the persons to whom they are addressed. Now, as it is impossible by fair reasoning, with reference to the avowed ends of Government, to justify the sacrifice of the interest of the many to the interests of the few, and as we have shown that the Members of the British Parliament are placed in a position which must induce them more or less to attempt this sacrifice, it follows thąt, for effecting this purpose, they must have recourse to every kind of Fallacy, and address themselves, when occasion requires it, to the passions, the prejudices, and the ignorance of mankind.' p. 4.
There may be some exaggeration in all this; we cannot, for instance, admit that no inan or bodies of men are influenced by patriotic motives. We see daily many sacrificing to their principles every consideration which ordinary minds deem the most yaluable, labouring to promote the success of their own opinions, if we must not say the good of their country and of mankind, and pursuing this object to the exclusion of every enjoyment which the bulk of mankind prize the most dearly. A still smaller number we find encountering smaller losses and inconveniences, and making sacrifices of less important prospects, but still following what they deem the line of public duty against their private interest. And if we should be told, that all those men do so because they feel greater pleasure in the success of their opinions or principles and in the triumph of the cause they have espoused, and that, consequently, they act selfishly in obeying the more powerful impulse, we answer, that this is only disputing about a word; and that it is using the word selfish in a sense quite different from its acceptation in the charge made against public men. Neither can we quite admit, that if things were so very bad within the walls of Parliament, there would be any great deference very long shown towards the “ tribunal of pub·lic opinion' established without. Admitting too that there is a control exercised over its proceedings by the public, and that the Press, by influencing the popular feeling, checks the Parlia-,