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that, in that period, there has been a prodi- not have suggested itself, even to the persons gious development in the understanding and by whom it has been so triumphantly recomintelligence of the great mass of the popula- mended, unless it had been palliated by some tion; and that this makes them much less colour of plausibility: And Their error (which willing than formerly to submit to the folly really does not seem very unnatural for men and corruption of most of their ancient gov- of their description) seems to have consisted ernments. The old instinctive feelings of merely in supposing that all those who were loyalty and implicit obedience, have pretty discontented in the country, were disappointed generally given way to shrewd calculations candidates for place and profit; and that the as to their own interests, their own powers, whole clamour which had been raised against and the rights which arise out of these powers. the misgovernment of the modern world, origiThey see now, pretty quickly, both the weak- nated in a violent desire to participate in the nesses and the vices of their rulers; and, emoluments of that misgovernment. Upon having learned to refer their own sufferings this supposition, it must no doubt be admitted or privations, with considerable sagacity, to that their remedy was most judiciously detheir blunders and injustice, they begin tacitly vised. All the discontent was among those to inquire, what right they have to a sove- who wished to be bribed-all the clamour reignty, of which they make so bad a use- among those who were impatient for preferand how they could protect themselves, if all ment. Increase the patronage of the Crown who hate and despise them were to unite to therefore--make more sinecures, more jobs, take it from them. Sentiments of this sort, more nominal and real posts of emolument we are well assured, have been prevalent and honour,—and you will allay the disconover all the enlightened parts of Europe for tent, and still the clamour, which are now the last thirty years, and are every day gain "frighting our isle from her propriety!" ing strength and popularity. Kings and nobles, This, to be sure, is very plausible and ingeand ministers and agents of government, are nious—as well as highly creditable to the no longer looked upon with veneration and honour of the nation, and the moral experience awe,--but rather
with a mixture of contempt of its contrivers. But the fact, unfortunately, and jealousy. Their errors and vices are is not as it is here assumed. There are two canvassed, among all ranks of persons, with sets of persons to be managed and appeased ! extreme freedom and severity. The corrup- and the misfortune is, that what might gratify tions by which they seek to fortify them- the one would only exasperate the discontents selves, are regarded with indignation and of the other. The one wants unmerited honvindictive abhorrence; and the excuses with ours, and unearned emoluments—a further which they palliate them, with disgust and de- abuse of patronage—a more shameful misaprision. Their deceptions are almost universally plication of the means of the nation. The seen through ; and their incapacity detected other wants a correction of abuses—an abridg. and despised, by an unprecedented portion of ment of patronage—a diminution of the public of the whole population which they govern. burdens-a more just distribution of its trusts,
It is in this sense, as we conceive it, that | dignities, and rewards. This last party is still, the people throughout civilised Europe have we are happy to think, by far the strongest, grown too strong for their rulers; and that and the most formidable: For it is daily resome alteration in the balance or administra- cruited out of the mass of the population, over tion of their governments, has become neces- which reason is daily extending her dominion; sary for their preservation. They have become and depends, for its ultimate success, upon too strong, - not in wealth — but in intellect, nothing less than the irresistible progress of activity, and available numbers; and the tran- intelligence-of a true and enlightened sense quillity of their governments has been endan- of interest-and a feeling of inherent right, gered, not from their want of pecuniary in- united to undoubted power. It is difficult, fluence, but from their want of moral respec- then, to doubt of its ultimate triumph; and it tability and intellectual vigour.
must appear to be infinitely foolish to think Such is the true state of the evil; and the of opposing its progress, by measures which cure, according to the English opponents of are so obviously calculated to add to its reform, is to increase the patronage of the strength. By increasing the patronage or in. Crown! The remote and original cause of fuence of the Crown, a few more venal the danger, is the improved intelligence and spirits may be attracted, by the precarious tie more perfect intercourse of the people, ma of a dishonest interest, to withstand all atcause which it is not lawful to wish removed, tempts at reform, and to clamour in behalf and which, at any rate, the proposed remedy of all existing practices and institutions. But, has no tendency to remove. The immediate for every worthless auxiliary that is thus reand proximate cause, is the abuse of patron- cruited for the defence of established abuses, age and the corruptions practised by the gov- is it not evident that there will be a thousand ernment and their wealthy supporters and new enemies called forth, by the additional" the cure that is seriously recommended, is to abuse exemplified in the new patronage that increase that corruption !-to add to the weight is created, and the new scene of corruption that of the burdens under which the people is sink is exhibited, in exchanging this patronage for ing, -and to multiply the examples of parti- this dishonourable support ?- For a nation to ality, profusion, and profligacy, by which they endeavour to strengthen itself against the are revolted!
attempts of reformers by a deliberate augAn absurdity so extravagant, however, could I mentation of its corruptions, is not more politic, than for a spendthrift to think of relieving and venal, while there is still spirit and virtue himself of his debts, by borrowing at usurious enough left, when the measure of provocation interest to pay what is demanded, and thus is full, to inflict a signal and sanguinary venincreasing the burden which he affects to be geance, and utterly to overthrow the fabric throwing off.
which has been defiled by this traffic of iniThe only formidable discontent, in short, quity. And there may be great spirit, and that now subsists in the country, is that of strength, and capacity of heroic resentment in those who are reasonably discontented; and the a nation, which will yet allow its institutions only part of the people whose growing strength to be, for a long time, perverted, its legislareally looks menacingly on the government, ture to be polluted, and the baser part of its is that which has been alienated by what it population to be corrupted, before it be roused believes to be its corruptions, and enabled, by to that desperate effori, in which its peace and its own improving intelligence, to unmask its happiness are sure to suffer along with the deceptions, and to discover the secret of its guilt which brings down the thunder. In such selfishness and incapacity. The great object an age of the world as the present, however, of its jealousy, is the enormous influence of it may be looked upon as absolutely certain, the Crown, and the monstrous abuses of pa- that if the guilt be persisted in, the vengeance tronage to which that influence gives occasion. will follow; and that all reasonable discontent It is, therefore, of all infatuations, the wildest will accumulate and gain strength, as reason and most desperate, to hold out that the pro- and experience advance; till, at the last, it gress of this discontent makes it proper to works its own reparation, and sweeps the of. give the Crown more influence, and that it fence from the earth, with the force and the can only be effectually conciliated, by putting fury of a whirlwind. more patronage in the way of abuse!
In such a view of the moral destiny of naIn stating the evils and dangers of corrup- tions, there is something elevating as well as tion and profligacy in a government, we must terrible. Yet, the terror preponderates, for always keep it in view, that such a system those who are to witness the catastrophe: and can never be universally palatable, even among all reason, as well as all humanity, urges us the basest and most depraved people of which to use every effort to avoid the crisis and the history has preserved any memorial. If this shock, by a timely reformation, and an eamest were otherwise indeed—if a whole nation and sincere attempt to conciliate the hostile were utterly and entirely venal and corrupt, elements of our society, by mutual concession and each willing to wait his time of dishonour- and indulgence. It is for this reason, chiefly, able promotion, things might go on with suffi- that we feel such extreme solicitude for a cient smoothness at least; and as such a na- legislative reform of our system of representation would not be worth mending, on the one tion,-in some degree as a pledge of the wil. hand, so there would, in fact, be much less lingness of the government to admit of reform need, on the other, for that untoward opera- where it is requisite; but chiefly, no doubt, tion. The supposition, however, is obviously as in itself most likely to stay the flood of ve. impossible; and, in such a country at least as nality and corruption, to reclaim a part of England, it may perhaps be truly stated, as those who had begun to yield to its seducthe most alarming consequence of corruption, tions, and to reconcile those to the governthat, if allowed to go on without any effectual ment and constitution of their country, who check, it will infallibly generate such a spirit had begun to look upon it with a mingled of discontent, as necessarily to bring on some feeling of contempt, hostility, and despair
, dreadful convulsion, and overturn the very That such a reform as we have contemplated foundations of the constitution. It is thus would go far to produce those happy effects, fraught with a double evil to a country enjoy- we think must appear evident to all who agree ing a free government. In the first place, it with us as to the nature and origin of the evils gradually corrodes and destroys much that is from which we suffer, and the dangers to truly valuable in its constitution; and, secondly, which we are exposed. One of its immediate, it insures its ultimate subversion by the tre- and therefore chief advantages, however, will mendous crash of an insurrection or revolution. consist in its relieving and abating the spirit It first makes the government oppressive and of discontent which is generated by the specintolerable; and then it oversets it altogether tacle of our present condition ; both by giving by a necessary, but dreadful calamity. it scope and vent, and by the vast facilities it
These two evils may appear to be opposite must afford to future labours of regeneration. to each other; and it is certain, that, though By the extension of the elective franchise, brought on by the same course of conduct, many of those who are most hostile to the exthey cannot be inflicted by the same set of isting system, because, under it, they are ex, persons. Those who are the slaves and the cluded from all share of power or political ministers of corruption, assuredly are not those importance, will have a part assigned them, who are minded to crush it, with a visiting both more safe, more honourable, and more vengeance, under the ruins of the social order; active, than merely murmuring, or meditating and it is in forgetting that there are two sets vengeance against such a scheme of exclusion. of persons to be conciliated in all such ques. The influence of such men will be usefully tions, that the portentous fallacy which we exerted in exciting a popular spirit, and in are considering mainly consists. The govern- exposing the base and dishonest practices i
that ment may be very corrupt, and a very con- may still interfere with the freedom of elecsiderable part of the nation may be debased tion. By some alteration in the borough
qualifications, the body of electors in general course which is pointed out by these new cirwill be invested with a more respectable char- cumstances in our situation, appears to us no acter, and feel a greater jealousy of every less obvious, than it is safe and promising.-thing that may tend to degrade or dishonour If the people have risen into greater consethem: but, above all, a rigid system of econo- quence, let them have greater power. If a my, and a farther exclusion of placemen from greater proportion of our population be now the legislature, by cutting off a great part of capable and desirous of exercising the functhe minister's most profitable harvest of cor- tions of free citizens, let a greater number ruption, will force his party also to have re- be admitted to the exercise of these funccourse to more honourable means of popu- tions. If the quantity of mind and of will, larity, and to appeal to principles that must that must now be represented in our legislaultivnately promote the cause of independ- ture, be prodigiously increased since the frame
of that legislature was adjusted, let its basis By the introduction, in short, of a system be widened, so as to rest on all that intellect of reform, even more moderate and cautious and will. If there be a new power and energy than that which we have ventured to indicate, generated in the nation, for the due applicawe think that a wholesome and legitimate play tion of which, there is no contrivance in the will be given to those principles of opposition original plan of the constitution, let it flow to corruption, monopoly, and abuse, which, by into those channels through which all similar the denial of all reform, are in danger of being powers were ordained to act by the principles fomented into a decided spirit of hostility to of that plan. The power itself you can neithe government and the institutions of the ther repress nor annihilate; and, if it be not country. Instead of brooding, in sullen and assimilated to the system of the constitution, helpless silence, over the vices and errors you seem to be aware that it will ultimately which are ripening into intolerable evil, and overwhelm and destroy it. To set up against seeing; with a stern and vindictive joy, wrong it the power of influence and corruption, is t? accumulated to wrong, and corruption heaped set up that by which its strength is recruited, up to corruption, the Spirit of reform will be and its safe application rendered infinitely continually interfering, with active and suc- more difficult: it is to defend your establishcessful zeal, to correct, restrain, and deter. ments, by loading them with a weight which Instead of being the avenger of our murdered of itself makes them totter under under its liberties, it will be their living protector; and pressure, and, at the same time, affords a safe the censor, not the executioner, of the consti- and inviting approach to the assailant. tution. It will not descend, only at long in- In our own case, too, nothing fortunately is tervals, like the Avatar of the Indian mytho- easier, than to reduce this growing power of logy; to expiate, with terrible vengeance, a the people within the legitimate bounds and serios of consummated crimes; but, like the cantonments of the constitution ; and nothing Providence of a better faith, will keep watch more obvious, than that, when so legalised perpetually over the actions of corrigible men, and provided for, it can tend only to the exaland bring them back from their aberrations, tation and improvement of our condition, and by merciful chastisement, timely admonition, must add strength and stability to the Throne, and the blessed experience of purer principles as well as to the other branches of the legisof action.
lature. It seems a strange doctrine, to be Such, according to our conviction of the held by any one in this land, and, above all, fact, is the true state of the case as to the by the chief votaries and advocates of royal increasing weight and consequence of the power, that its legal security consists in its people; and such the nature of the policy means of corruption, or can be endangered by which we think this change in the structure the utmost freedom and intelligence in the of our society calls upon us to adopt. The body of the people, and the utmost purity and people are grown strong, in intellect, reso- popularity of our élections. Under an arbilution, and mutual reliance, - quick in the trary government, where the powers of the detection of the abuses by which they are monarch are confessedly unjust and oppreswronged, -and confident in the powers by sive, and are claimed, and openly asserted, which they may be compelled ultimately to not as the instruments of public benefit
, but seek their redress. Against this strength, it as the means of individual gratification, such is something more wild than madness, and a jealousy of popular independence is suffimore contemptible than folly, to think of ar- ciently intelligible : but, in a government like raying an additional phalanx of abuses, and ours, where all the powers of the Crown are drawing out a wider range of corruptions — universally acknowledged to exist for the good In that contest, the issue cannot be doubtful, of the people, it is evidently quite extravagant nor the conflict long; and, deplorable as the to fear, that any increase of union and intellivictory will be, which is gained over order, gence - any growing love of freedom and as well as over guilt, the blame will rest hea- justice in the people — should endanger, or viest upon those whose offences first provoked, should fail to confirm, all those powers and what may very probably turn out a sanguinary prerogatives. and an unjustifiable vengeance.
We have not left ourselves room to enter The conclusions, then, which we would more at large into this interesting question; draw from the facts that have been relied on but we feel perfectly assured, and ready to by the enemies of reform, are indeed of a maintain, that, as the institution of a limited, very opposite description from theirs; and the l hereditary monarchy, must always appear the wisest and most reasonable of all human in- ' in short, who reigns by the fair exercise of stitutions, and that to which increasing reflec- ! his prerogative, can have no enemies among tion and experience will infallibly attach men the lovers of regulated freedom ; and the hosmore and more as the world advances; so, the tility of such men—by far the most terrible prerogatives of such a monarch will always of all internal hostility-can only be directed be safer and more inviolate, the more the towards him, when his throne is enveloped, sentiment of liberty, and the love of their by treacherous advisers, with the hosts of political rights, is diffused and encouraged corruption; and disguised, for their ends, in among his people. A legitimate sovereign, I the borrowed colours of tyranny.
( Ianuary, 1810.) Short Remarks on the State of Parties at the Close of the Year 1809. 8vo. pp. 30.
London : 1809. *
The parties of which we now wish to speak, 1 both parties, and looking on both with too visiare not the parties in the Cabinet, -nor even ble a resentment, aversion, and alarm. The the parties in Parliament, but the Parties in two great divisions, in the mean time, are the Nation;—that nation, whose opinions and daily provoking each other to greater excesses whose spirit ought to admonish and control and recruiting their hostile ranks, as they adboth Cabinet and Parliament, but which now vance, from the diminishing mass of the calm seems to us to be itself breaking rapidly into and the neutral. Every hour the rising tides two furious and irreconcileable parties; by are eating away the narrow isthmus upon whose collision, if it be not prevented, our which the adherents of the Constitution now constitution and independence must be ulti- appear to be stationed; and every hour it bemately destroyed. We have said before, that comes more necessary for them to oppose the root of all our misfortunes was in the state some barrier to their encroachments. of the People, and not in the constitution of If the two extreme parties are once perthe legislature; and the more we see and mitted to shock together in open conflict, there reflect, the more we are satisfied of this truth. is an end to the freedom, and almost to the It is in vain to cleanse the conduits and reser- existence of the nation,—whatever be the revoirs, if the fountain itself be tainted and sult,-although that is not doubtful: And the impure. If the body of the people be infatu- only human means of preventing a consumated, or corrupt or depraved, it is vain to talk mation to which things seem so obviously of improving their representation.
tending, is for the remaining friends of the The dangers, and the corruptions, and the constitution to unbend from their cold and prodigies of the times, have very nearly put repulsive neutrality, and to join themselves to an end to all neutrality and moderation in the more respectable members of the party politics; and the great body of the nation ap- to which they have the greatest affinity; and pears to us to be divided into two violent and thus, by the weight of their character, and most pernicious factions ;—the courtiers, who the force of their talents, to temper its violence are almost for arbitrary power,—and the de- and moderate its excesses, till it can be guided mocrats, who are almost for revolution and in safety to the defence, and not to the derepublicanism. Between these stand a small, struction, of our liberties. In the present but most respectable band-the friends of crisis, we have no hesitation in saying that it liberty and of order—the Old Constitutional is to the popular side that the friends of the Whigs of England with the best talents and constitution must tum themselves; and that, the best intentions, but without present power if the Whig leaders do not first conciliate
, and or popularity;-calumniated and suspected by then restrain the people,-if they do not save
them from the leaders they are already choos* This, I fear, is too much
in the style of a sage ing in their own body, and become themselves and solemn Rebuke to the madness of contending their leaders, by becoming their patrons, and factions. Yet it is not all rhetorical or assuming : And the observations on the vast importance and their cordial, though authoritative, advisers; high and difficult duties of a middle party, in all they will in no long time sweep away the great national contentions, seem to me as univer- Constitution itself, the Monarchy of England, sally true, and as applicable to the present position and the Whig aristocracy, by which that of our affairs, as most of the other things I have Monarchy is controlled and confirmed, and be right to mention, that it was written at a time exalted above all other forms of polity. when the recent failure of that wretched expedition This is the sum of our doctrine; though we to Walcheren, and certain antipopular declarations are aware that, to most readers, it will rein Parliament, had excited a deeper feeling of dis- quire more development than we can now content in the country, and a greater apprehension afford, and be exposed to more objections than the first great panic and excitement of the French we have left ourselves room to answer. To revolution. The spirit of such a time may, per many, we are sensible, our fears will appear haps, be detected in some of the following pages. altogether chimerical and fantastic. We have
always had these two parties, it will be said- and gradual change in the condition of Euroalways some for carrying things with a high pean society, by which the lower and midhand against the people--and some for sub-dling orders have been insensibly raised into jecting every thing to their nod; but the con- greater importance than they enjoyed when Hict has hitherto afforded nothing more than their place in the political scale was originally a wholesome and invigorating exercise; and settled; and attempted to show in what way
the constitution, so far from being endangered the revolution in France, and the revolutionary · by it, has hitherto been found to flourish, in movements of other countries, might be re
proportion as it became more animated. Why, ferred partly to the progress, and partly to the Then, should we anticipate such tragical effects neglect of that great movement. We cannot from its continuance?
stop now to resume any part of that general Now, to this, and to all such questions, we discussion ; but shall merely observe, that ihe must answer, that we can conceive them to events of the last twenty years are of themproceed only from that fatal ignorance or in- selves sufficient to account for the state to attention to the Signs of the Times, which which this country has been reduced, and for has been the cause of so many of our errors the increased number and increased acrimony and misfortunes. It is quite true, that there of the parties that divide it. have always been in this country persons who The success of a plebeian insurrection-the leaned towards arbitrary power, and persons splendid situations to which low-bred men who leaned towards too popular a government have been exalted, in consequence of that In all mixed governments, there must be such success—the comparative weakness and inmen, and such parties : some will admire the efficiency of the sovereigns and nobles who monarchical, and some the democratical part opposed it, and the contempt and ridicule of the constitution; and, speaking very gener- which has been thrown by the victors upon ally, the rich, and the timid, and the indolent, their order, have all tended to excite and agas well as the base and the servile, will have gravate the bad principles that lead men to a natural tendency to the one side; and the despise existing authorities, and to give into poor, the enthusiastic, and enterprising, as wild and extravagant schemes of innovation. well as the envious and the discontented, will On the other hand, the long-continued :ll sucbe inclined to range themselves on the other. cess of our anti-jacobin councils—the sickenThese things have been always; and always ing uniformity of our boastings and failuresmust be. They have been hitherto, too, with the gross and palpable mismanagement of our out mischief or hazard; and might be fairly government–ihe growing and intolerable considered as symptoms at least, if not as burthen of our taxes-and, above all, the imcauses, of the soundness and vigour of our minent and tremendous peril into which the political organisation. But this has been the whole nation has been brought, have made a case, only because the bulk of the nation has powerful appeal to the good principles that hitherto, or till very lately, belonged to no lead men into similar feelings; and roused party at all. Factions.existed only among a those who were lately unwilling to disturb small number of irritable and ambitious indi-themselves with political considerations, to cry viduals; and, for want of partizans, necessa- out in vast numbers for reformation and rerily vented themselves in a few speeches and dress. The number of those who have been pamphlets—in an election riot, or a treasury startled out of their neutrality by such feel. prosecution. The partizans of Mr. Wilkes, ings, very greatly exceeds, we believe, that and the partizans of Lord Bute, formed but a of those who have been tempted from it by very inconsiderable part of the population. If the stirrings of an irregular ambition : But they had divided the whole nation among both are alike disposed to look with jealousy them, the little breaches of the peace and of upon the advocates of power and prerogativethe law at Westminster, would have been to suspect falsehood and corruption in every changed into civil war and mutual proscrip- thing that is not clearly explained—to resent tions; and the constitution of the country every appearance of haughtiness or reservemight have perished in the conflict. In those to listen with eager credulity to every tale of times, therefore, the advocates of arbitrary detraction against public characters-and to power and of popular licence were restrained, believe with implicit rashness whatever is not merely by the constitutional principles of said of the advantages of popular control. so many men of weight and authority, but by Such are the natural and original causes of the absolute neutrality and indifference of the the increase of that popular discontent which great body of the people. They fought like has of late assumed so formidable an aspect, champions in a ring of impartial spectators; and is, in fact, far more widely spread and and the multitude who looked on, and thought more deeply rooted in the nation, than the it sport, had little other interest than to see sanguine and contemptuous will believe. The that each had fair play.
enumeration, however, would be quite inNow, however, the case is lamentably dif- complete, if we were not to add, that it has ferent; and it will not be difficult, we think, been prodigiously helped by the contempt, to point out the causes which have spread and aversion, and defiance, which has been abroad this spirit of contention, and changed so loudly and unwisely expressed by the op, so great a proportion of those calm spectators posite party. Instead of endeavouring to avoid into fierce and impetuous combatants. We the occasions of dissatisfaction, and so soothe have formerly endeavoured, on more than one and conciliate those whom it could never be occasion, to explain the nature of that great creditable to have for enemies, it has been