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brother remonstrated against the undertaking." Notwithstanding the opposition thus shown by the chief members of his family to the speculative indulgence of his political aspirations and courses, yet Mr. C. P. Thomson himself entertained a more just notion than they did of the adaptitude of his abilities to the prevailing popular taste and expectations.

And here that happy self-confidence, which has been mentioned by his biographer as one of the main elements of his success," was eminently useful in fortifying his resolutions in favour of a public life, against the remonstrances and dissuasions of some of his nearest connexions."

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"That they were in some degree justified in their remonstrances, however, must be conceded; the pecuniary risks, and even the necessary expenses, of the contest into which, so early in life, he was plunging, being considerable; and this, immediately following his losses of the year before in the American mining speculation. The remonstrances of his brother Andrew at times reached a very high tone, threatening even a dissolution of partnership." *

It is proved by the sequel, that Mr. C. P. Thomson was able to form a more correct estimate of the ability then required for constituting a statesman in the Whig ranks, than of the ability required for constituting a well-informed, sound, and successful merchant. Mr. Thomson's failure as a merchant in the first instance, would not, necessarily, have established against him incapacity for becoming a statesman in the second instance, because it may be allowed of all men, that at an early stage of life, ignorance and attendant incaution may exist and prevail, and yet afterward both may be corrected. But, in the case before us, neither time for the

*Life of Lord Sydenham, by G. Poulett Scrope, Esq., M. P., pp. 15,


wholesome correction was allowed, nor a course by which real correction could be applied, adopted.

The course which Mr. Thomson chose for preparing himself to become a champion of the Whig party, was that of throwing himself into the arms of some of the most liberal members of the liberal party, and from this small body of men receiving, imbibing, and retaining, for the purpose of advocating publicly, the required doctrines; the course being that which in collegiate phraseology is known by the terms "cramming," and "crammed.'

The degree of scholastic preparation-or the show of learning, the substance being absent that would be indispensable for pursuing the popular course thus opened to the vision of this young and aspiring member of a mercantile house, and for conferring on him a title to public favour and support, was very soon accomplished; a willing and apt spirit, and a retentive memory, being all that was required for this part of the course. The quick process of preparation for Parliamentary life, and for the performance of high public duty, is described as follows:

"Mr. C. Thomson, moreover, entertained strong opinions of a liberal character on the more ordinary political questions of the age. These principles were entirely self-formed. Those of his family, of his father certainly, were rather of the opposite complexion. But whether acquired by reflection during his residence amongst the despotic, and, consequently, stagnating, states of the continent, or from his course of reading, or from the general bent of his mind, or, as seems more probable, from all these influences combined, certain it is that his political principles were from the first of a very liberal character, and led him to cultivate the society of those who entertained similar views on questions of public interest. He thus became acquainted, about this time,

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among others, with Dr. Bowring, Mr. Mill, Mr. Warburton, and Mr. Hume, and was occasionally admitted to the hermitage of the eccentric and amiable Bentham. He likewise studied the science of Political Economy with Mr. M'Culloch, and frequented the Political Economy Club, then lately instituted."

"Taking thus a lively interest in the political questions of the day, and more especially in those relative to commercial matters, it was natural that he should listen with favour to proposals which were made to him in the summer of 1825, from parties connected with the liberal interest in the borough of Dover, to become a candidate for its representation at the next election; and with this view he made several visits to Dover, in the course of the winter, for the purpose of canvassing, having issued an address to the electors on the 15th of September."


"In the pursuit of this object he was warmly aided by his friends of the Utilitarian school. Dr. Bowring, who, indeed, had been the medium of his original introduction to the electors of Dover, accompanied him there, and assisted in his And Bentham himself had taken so great a liking to him, that he broke through all the habits of his hermitlike existence, actually took up his residence at Dover, canvassed daily for him, opened his house, and allowed himself to be accessible to all Mr. Thomson's friends, and mingled in the contest in a manner which surprised all who knew his retiring disposition, but which strongly marked the interest he took in his young friend's prospects."

We are thus told that this statesman, having given practical proof of a lamentable inability to judge of, and to conduct, the affairs of a large mercantile house, fancied

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* Memoir of Lord Sydenham, by G. P. Scrope, Esq., M. P., pp. 13, 14,


himself, at that very moment, able and fit to judge of, and to conduct, the whole mercantile principle and circumstances of a nation. This, indeed, is a notable instance of the influence of that "self-confidence" which his biographer has described as a remarkable element of his natural character, and which he has designated as a "happy self-confidence." Both Mr. Thomson himself, and his friends of the Utilitarian school, who seem to have discerned in him a very apt receiver and disciple of their creed, appear to have entertained the odd conviction, that a mere wordy acquaintance with the writings of the modern school of Political Economists, together with a free and easy manner of announcing, dilating on, and commending, the doctrines, would supply all that was required for modern statesmanship, and for insuring the favourable notice and support of the majority of the House of Commons, and of the nation; so that a very short time only had elapsed, after Mr. Thomson had been elected member for Dover, when official and ministerial duty and responsibility were entrusted to him.


Having succeeded in obtaining a seat in the national legislature, and having taken this seat on the 18th of November, 1826, Mr. Thomson, young, ardent, and aspiring, enjoying very little fruit of experience, and that little bad and unprofitable-having at command only a thin layer of something called knowledge, derived by a year's reading of the writings of a weak and false school of Political Economists soon gave proof of his zeal for the public influence and success of that small party of politicians by whom his cause had been so warmly and so effectually espoused and supported. Gratitude, submission, and obedience, to his friend and supporter, Bentham, were soon evinced by him. In addition to general advocacy and support, he was soon ready to give to the principles and courses of his political

friends, special advocacy and support also; for, so early as the year 1828, and in the month of May of the session of that year, he introduced into the House of Commons a Bill for the repeal of the Usury Laws!!

Now, if it should be required to select a social subject, which, above all other social subjects, requires the deepest and most long-continued thought and elaborate reasoning, the most matured experience, the most extensive reading and study, the profoundest insight into all commercial principle and law, and the most complete acquaintance with the general course of human affairs, the principle of the Usury Laws might be selected as constituting that subject. And yet the statesman whose political education and introduction into political life are under review, thought himself sufficiently informed and prepared to undertake the management of this great subject. Another proof, indeed, of the influence and operation of that self-confidence which the brother and biographer has declared to have formed so large an element in this statesman's natural disposition and formed character.

Many persons will be of opinion, and will declare, that, in this instance, the connection of Mr. C. Poulett Thomson with the subject of Usury, and with the modern school of Political Economists, was like the connection and position that had been assumed by Lord Brougham and many other statesmen in reference to economical subjects, economical philosophy, and the school of economical writers, — which is, that he was merely the advocate, the instrument of sound; the sense, of whatever kind it was, having been supplied by some one else. Though it was Thomson who spoke, it was Bentham and others who had thought, conceived, and delivered. It is too true, indeed, that this is the manner in which the management of these great public subjects has been conducted.

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