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in self-improvement and for self-dependence. Mr. Slaney, a man of great practical benevolence, but of very 'fast' principles, had two motions, one for a committee to consider on the plans not connected with political changes, which might be devised for the social improvement of the labouring classes, negatived ; the other, for a select committee to consider the means of removing obstacles and giving facilities to safe investments of savings granted. There have been loud lamentations in the sentimentalhumanitarian camp on the apathy of Parliament thereupon. But, to our humble apprehension, it seems that until juster notions prevail with respect to the measure and office of legislation, such motions are only idle and mischievous word-wasting.
The Government act with respect to savings' banks will do good by introducing the element of responsibility into their management; and Mr. Sotheron's bill relating to the affairs of friendly societies is calculated to check fraud and mismanagement.
Mr. Stuart Wortley's bill for permitting marriages with a deceased wife's sister was better appreciated this session. It has reached the House of Lords with some prospect of success. The question has been so fully and repeatedly discussed in these pages, that we need only advert slightly to the state of opinion exhibited in Parliament. The subject was ably argued on both sides, and with tolerable fairness by all parties. The theological ground of opposition was hardly so dogmatically maintained as on former occasions; and considering that the opinion of the Christian Church has been so fluctuating, and that our prohibitory statute has attained the venerable age of fifteen years, it was not surprising even in a Parliament of Church and State men, that it should have been confined, with the exception of some' mystification of Leviticus,' by Chancery barristers, to the sturdy opponents of all freedom, religious and social. The argument was practically kept to the issue of social expediency. In support of the allegation of inexpediency, it was contended that it would chill and restrict the pure and warm sympathy which exists between brothers and sisters in law ; that a wife would regard her sister with suspicion or jealousy as the possible successor in her husband's affections; and lastly, as regards the offspring of the first marriage, the second wife would be changed from the affectionate aunt into the jealous step-mother. The assumption in the first point is very obvious, and the conclusion as illegitimate. No mere human ordinance can have the effect implied; purity of feeling under such relations cannot be regulated by Act of Parliament. And is it not a monstrous imputation on the character of a large proportion of the women of England ? The second assertion is equally illogical. It is dis
proved by facts precedent to the enactment of the law and by many dying requests. We could speak of several within our personal knowledge. To justify the last objection, one must take a very low estimate of human nature, and depart altogether from the opinions entertained from the earliest times concerning the character of woman. Is it not more reasonable to suppose that the natural affections of the aunt will be increased in the new relation of parent? All observation tends to support this liberal and common sense view of the case. This grievous restriction on freedom and human happiness requires stronger arguments in justification than any urged in the late debates. On the other hand, it is proved beyond dispute that the restriction is not only destructive to the happiness of thousands, but is a great social evil. The law may declare such connexions unlawful, but cannot prevent them. The State, in its over anxiety to prevent that which dogma declares to be sin, forces the commission of another of which there is no question ; for all the casuistry of High-Churchism cannot disprove the fact, that this new civil law has encouraged much sin against the law of God.
The legislative attempts at the better observance of the Sabbath are only remarkable for want of consistency and unthinking wrath. Great efforts were made to prevent the old applewomen of Lambeth from competing with the established shopocracy. When we see more exertion made to begin the good work at home we shall be ready to applaud the motives of the reformers. The resolutions with respect to the Post-office are more worthy of respect. Men cannot be too much impressed with the value of the seventh-day rest, as their birthright and best social privilege. It is fitting, therefore, that a good example of respect should be shown in all the public services. The agitation against it, got up by a few Sunday newspaper proprietors, is too contemptible in its gross materialism and selfishness to deserve serious notice. Our weather-cock Government are, however, resolved to bend to the tea-basin storm. Rare were the tirades—terrible the denunciations, from all sorts and conditions of liberal journalists, from Whiggism to democracy, against the ministers of the Crown, for not taking violent measures against the resolutions of the House of Commons! Oh, liberalism, liberalism, when wilt thou be consistent?
Education, too, was a feature in the parliamentary socialism of the session. Our views on the great subject have been so often expressed, that we need only say, with all respect for Mr. Fox's talents, that his modified system of state drill was properly rejected. Lord Melgund, a new candidate for senatorial honours, was signally defeated in his maiden effort to centralize Scottish education in a government board. Mr. G. A. Hamilton's zealous VOL. XXVIII.
attempt at Church national education in Ireland, was rejected by 225 to 142. In the Lords, that meek man, the Earl of Harrowby, broke a lance with the Privy Council. Considering that Mother Church has had 80 per cent. of the funds, we cannot sufficiently admire the modest valour of her champion.
The subject of university reform received much discussion, which may assist the public in properly directing its efforts. It is a delicate question, involving the adjustment of many subsidiary points of right, and, therefore, can only be dealt with by Parliament after the gravest consideration. The corporations of the universities require much improvement in the way of removal of encroachments on public right, to bring them back into that wholesome state of educational utility in which they were anterior to the Reformation,
• When learning, like a stranger come from far,
Peasant and king;' and before the colleges obtained a monopoly in tuition, and assumed an unlawful and irresponsible control in the government of the universities. Lord John Russell, with large professions of zeal for reform, did the best he could to procrastinate the settlement. He has promised a Crown commission, which, whether lawful or unlawful, cannot compel one word of eyidence. The information must necessarily be ex parte, and we apprehend that, bad as the House of Commons is, it will hardly venture to deal with the rights of property on such data.
A group of measures relating to property can only be hastily named. The Irish Incumbered Estates Act is designed as a supplement to recent Irish property legislation. A Government Landlord and Tenant Bill is postponed till next session. Mr. Pusey's long-agitated measure on the same subject got through the Commons; and Mr. Aglionby's effort to enfranchise the copyholders was defeated. The best motion of the session was Mr. Locke King's for the removal of the restrictions on the free transfer of landed property, and for distributing such property in cases of intestacy according to the same rules which prevail in respect of personal property. Government only saw a sea of troubles, and material difficulties, and the motion was lost by 110 to 58. This young member has already acquitted himself so ably in one or two questions of magnitude, that we venture to hope we see in the son of the biographer of John Locke, and the grandson of Byron, one of the future liberal statesmen of England. A better claim to public approval could not be than to work out the great social question of free-trade in the soil of England.
Finance was a very heavy department of the session, large in
perpetration, but larger in omission; and as the alarming increase of our paper warns to be as summarily dealt with as were all the reform proposals of the year.
Our brilliant finance minister was so bewildered by his embarrassment of riches, in the unwonted shape of a surplus, that he was only thrice compelled to change the policy of his stamp reforms. At the fourth attempt, the measure was knocked into some kind of shape, but really it is impossible to say whether the relief to the public is to swallow up the whole or a part of the surplus, or, as some say, to add to the revenue. The right hon. gentleman does not seem to have made up his own mind on the knotty point. Then we have got off the brick duties—a very useful relief, notwithstanding all the small sneers so plentiful. How much of the National Debt is to be liquidated by the balance, remains for history to tell. With a balance in hand, Mr. Chancellor was sorely beset by long and strong pulls at the Exchequer. We can only catalogue them and their fate: Mr. Cobden's motion for a reduction of expenditure to the estimates of 1835, was rejected by 272 to 89. Mr. Disraeli's project to amend the poor-laws : in other words to protect agriculture, by 273 to 252. Mr. Grantley Berkeley's more honest protectionist move, 298 to 184. Mr. Henley's, for reduction of official salaries, another protectionist manifesto, 269 to 173. Colonel Sibthorp, for exempting farmers from income-tax, 50 to 32. Mr. Hutt, for the abolition of the African blockade, 232 to 154. Lord Duncan, for repeal of the window-tax, 80 to 77. Mr. Blackstone, repeal of the 10 per cent. addition on assessed taxes, 130 to 65. Mr. Milner Gibson, taxes on knowledge, 190 to 89. Mr. Ewart, repeal of the advertisement duty, 208 to 39. Lord R. Grosvenor's repeal of the tax on attorneys and solicitors' certificates, was carried against Government in early stages, but defeated on the third reading by a small majority. Mr. Mitchell, ship-timber duties, 45 to 32. Lord Naas, home-made spirits in bond, 121 to 120. Mr. MʻGregor, marine assurance tax repeal, 156 to 89. Sir E. Buxton, against free importation of slavegrown sugar;
and Mr. Cayley, for the repeal of the malt tax, 247 to 123. These, or some of them, may secure better treatment in the financial year,' which hopeful men say is coming. The proposals for reduction in official salaries is evidence that the worthy mariners at the helm of our good ship dread a change of wind.
We have advanced £300,000 to the distressed unions of Ireland, with a promise of repayment with interest. Some little mirth was excited in the discussion of this dull subject, by the profound discovery, enunciated by an Irish senator, that the
way to get out of our Irish difficulties was never to have got into them. Three millions are to be advanced to England
and Ireland for the drainage of estates, to be repaid by 6 per cent. per annum, so as to extinguish the debt in two-and-twenty years. The object is most desirable, but we cannot see on what principle the State can justify its embarkation in the business of money-lender. If we lend to land, why not to shipping, to manufactures, or to any other interest'? Last, not least, we have voted £12,000 a year to the young Duke of Cambridge, who, one might have thought, was sufficiently recompensed for his stupendous services to the State by high military rank, obtained through the accident of royal birth. Be this as it may, the Cambridge family is now endeared to the nation by £24,000 a year.
We have made so long a review of the leading events of the session, that our space is exhausted, and, perchance, too, the patience of the reader. Enough, however, has been said to point out the evil results of unprincipled, inconsiderate, and hasty legislation. A search into the causes may well be reserved for the consideration of some other day.
Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister. Speech delivered by W. Camp.
bell Šleigh, Esg., at Edinburgh, Wednesday, April 10, 1850. Report of the Proceedings in the Police Court, in the Trial of W. Campbell
Sleigh, Esq., of London, Barrister-at-law, and Thomas Russell, Esq., of Hunter-square, Edinburgh, Merchant, for an alleged Breach of the Peace at the Public Meeting in the Music-hall
, April 8, 1850, held with reference to the Marriage Affinity Bill. By George Gunn, Reporter. To which is added, a Report of the Speeches delivered at the Soirée given to Messrs. Sleigh and Russell, in Queen-street Hall,
on Monday Evening, April 15, 1850. Marriage with the Sister of a Deceased Wife, injurious to Morals, and
unauthorized by Holy Scripture. By the Rev. George Croly, LL.D., Rector of the united Parishes of St. Stephen, Walbrook, and St.
Benet. Dedicated to the Right Hon. Lord Lyndhurst. The controversy respecting marriage with a deceased wife's sister is, most probably, for the present at a stand, as the bill was withdrawn when it reached the House of Lords; so that, for some months at least, the one party has nothing to fear, and the other nothing to hope for. We shall merely, therefore, direct attention to the above pamphlets, without any particular exposition of their contents, or any attempt at general argument. As the people of Scotland are the most opposed to the marriage of a deceased wife's sister, in consequence of its being branded as incest in their Confession of Faith, it was thought desirable to send amongst them a gentleman of learning, character,