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suit of power. An intimate and sincere conviction of the truth and importance of these fundamental points, is the virtue is the sole elevating and ennobling quality of party.
Secondly, we must watch that the spirit of party does not overpower the nobler and purer sentiment of devotion to the national welfare; we must be on our guard that the interests of a party do not become the predominating objects of its members, to the exclusion of those motives of patriotism which ought originally to have presided at its birth, and which alone can dignify, or even excuse its existence.
Thirdly, We must always wish that the body of the nation should be spectators-the observant spectators -but not the actors in political contentions. Parties in politics are ever possessed with the rage of proselytism. The true interests of good government are not advanced by sowing among a whole people the seeds of bitter strife, and introducing a war of opinions and of passions. As long as the great body of the community continues neuter, it constitutes a court of appeal, to which rival factions refer, which controls them within the bounds of moderation that exercises a salutary influence over their acts. But let a party succeed in inoculating a great portion of the people with their spirit-let a country be split into divisions-and this tribunal is dissolved. The passions of whole classes are roused, their imaginations are heated; men are no longer in that frame of mind which enables them to examine with accuracy, or to judge with impartiality. People are no longer the jealous and vigilant observers of the conduct of public men. They become the blind followers of the respective leaders of the side they espouse; their perceptions are clouded by the heat of controversy; they no longer seek for truth, they contend for victory. The production of such a state of things is one of the points on which the interests of party are most directly opposed to the interests of the nation. If it can succeed in converting the whole people from calm judges into eager disputants and acrimonious partisans, it gets rid of a formidable
check and control, and it gains a great accession of strength.
If there be truth in these opinions, and assuredly much truth there is in them, what is our present condition, and by whom have we been placed in it? What is now the "abstract essence of the Ministry?" The Reform Bill. All public measures now are debated with reference to their relation to the government, and their effect on the Bill, rather than upon their own merits. Can this be for good? If for evil-that evil lies at the door of that Ministry, whose astounding measures did necessarily disturb the quiescent state of public feeling, and induce on all minds an excitement fatal to the beneficial effects of public opinion, which, for the safety of the State, should always be brought to bear coolly, impartially, and discriminately, upon the acts of our Rulers.
But not to anticipate-let us quote continuously-this writer's character of those two great divisions of Whig and Tory which have for a century and a half contended for the government of our mighty nationand then accompany him in his remarks on the conduct of the Whigs since the French Revolution of 1789, down to the concoction and promulgation of this portentous Bill, that we may have a clear and steady view of the patriots.
"No parties have ever so fixed the attention of mankind,—of none has the spirit and the conduct exerted so important an influence on the fortunes of their country, and imprinted so marked a stamp on the character of their age. None have ever been so distinguished and adorned by the talents and fame of their members. Genius, eloquence, ardent zeal, sincere patriotism, have illustrated their course and hallowed their annals. The greatest names England has produced,names which will ever be associated with her best remembrances, and cherished while
one spark of feeling for her honour and her glory survives in the breasts of her sons, are to be found in the ranks of these two celebrated parties; and each, in
turn, has furnished us with examples of those inherent vices of party to which I have alluded above, and has dimmed the lustre of its records by the faults into which they have betrayed it. sessed that basis of principle which I have insisted upon as essential to a character
of honour and public spirit,—both took their stand within the bounds of the Constitution, both rejected those extreme extensions of their own doctrines which might carry them beyond it. The Whig watched over the more popular parts of our mixed government,—the privileges of the Commons, the rights of the people, the liberty of petition and remonstrance: the Tory guarded the prerogative of the Crown, the force and efficiency of the Exe. cutive, the dignity and security of the Church. But their differences, wide as they were, still were restricted within these acknowledged limits. The Tory would never have contended for the power of raising a tax without the consent of Parliament, or of inflicting punishment without trial: the Whig would not have abetted the assumption of a control over the army by the Commons, or any other overt attack upon the acknowledged rights of the other branches of the government. It is to the existence of these understood bounds, it is to the tacit convention by which the hostile divisions fought their battles within these prescribed lists, that I attribute their long duration, and the stability of our institutions which have not been endangered by their fierce and angry dissensions. In a form of govern
ment of the mixed nature of ours, the existence of two parties in some measure analogous to these was inevitable; and neither could be wholly extinguished as long as both agreed to respect the fundamental principles of the constitution.
"The foremost ranks of these two great political divisions equally consisted of the highest and most powerful of our aristocracy; they were drawn from the same orders in the community; their struggles were those of parties, not of different classes. The colour of their political opinions became even a sort of hereditary faith in their families, and blended itself curiously enough with the pride of ancestry. In the Tories, these aristocratic feelings were natural; they were in perfect accordance with the general complexion of their views and policy; but in the Whigs they created an anomaly, and involved, if ever traced fairly up to their source, two contradictory and hostile principles. A proud and exclusive temper, a demeanour somewhat haughty and reserved, a devotion to the interests of particular families, a great deference to the accident of birth, were scarcely reconcilable with that extreme attachment to the spirit and the practice of the democratic parts of our government which they so loudly proclaimed. Such inconsistencies are intimately mixed up with the very nature of man, acted upon as he is
in his social state by so many different circumstances of education, of station in the community, of early impressions, of private ties,-all agents of great power, and influencing more directly his actions and his feelings than speculative opinions can be supposed to do. I do not, therefore, accuse the Whigs of insincerity, or suppose that they merely assumed these principles as a means of exciting the people, or of wielding them for the purposes of their individual ambition: I notice it only as an inherent weakness in the Whig position, as an opposition between their tenets and their prejudices, their professions and their interest, which would unavoidably end by entangling and embarrassing them whenever time and events should put these discordant elements into action. In their origin, however, this was so little apparent, that a great portion of their hold upon the imagination (a chief cause of their popularity) arose out of this very contrast. The liberality of sentiment which prompted men to espouse opinions at variance with their immediate interests, offered at once a pledge of their sincerity and their public virtue. It is true that these abstract doctrines were rarely reduced to practice; and that the current assertion of their opponents, that Whigs were Tories out of place, seemed partly justified by their conduct. circumstance, combined with their proud bearing in private, and their obvious prepossessions in favour of their own aristocracy, inspired a degree of distrust, and prevented their attaining that unlimited sway over the popular mind which was the great aim of their ambition."
In these reflections Sir John Walsh has principally had in view the state of parties from our own Revolution to that of the French in 1789: that mighty epoch in the history of the European Family placed the Whigs in a totally new relation with respect to the nation, and to their ancient rivals, the Tories. Among all the stupendous consequences of that great moral convulsion, it produced a complete change in the previously existing balance of parties, and, what is of far more importance, in the political ground upon which these parties stood. For a considerable and a pernicious party then sprung up, professing extreme opinions, which has ever since existed, and which now thrusts out of dirt and darkness its foul and frowning front, fiercer than ever on its late release from the load that had long lain on the monster. The poli
tical principle of the Whigs was the democratic part of the English constitution; the political principle of that new party, whose creation was simultaneous with the events of the French Revolution, was the doctrine of primitive, natural, inherent rights. We all know how that doctrine was illustrated by the most brutal of the wicked; how it was illustrated by the most enthusiastic of the weak; and how it was clothed in beautiful and gorgeous colours by the imaginations of a few men of genius, who believed that they beheld the dawn of the true golden age. But the new school received, too, says Sir John Walsh, a great accession of strength from two different sources.
The first was the demagogues by profession-the other was composed of literary men of second-rate genius and ability connected with the middle orders. Individuals of this class, frequently entertaining an erroneous and excessive estimate of their own superiority, readily indulged in hostile and depreciating feelings towards distinctions which they did not possess. The conventional tone, and the early acquired manners of the upper ranks, form a line of demarcation which those who have not been educated in them cannot easily obliterate. Men of such a stamp, irritated by the consciousness of such deficiencies, and perhaps still more mortified by the hau
teur of manners which has been the great mistake of the English aristocracy, were readily opposed to a system which thus wounded their vanity and hurt their self-esteem. He has been-adds Sir John-but a cursory observer of the spirit of the times, who is not aware how much the ranks of disaffection have been recruited by the mere agency of disappointed and wounded vanity. But it is needless now to dwell on these or other causes of the birth and growth of that party whom all good men came soon to abhor, and whose birth and growth were so prejudicial to the interests and ascendency of the Whigs. But on this subject hear again Sir
John Walsh in his own unbroken and beautiful words-true as holy writ.
"Hitherto their great source of moral power had consisted in their being the constituted and established organs of the popular feeling. The keystone of their
political faith had been the innocence, the beneficial tendencies, and the power of selfcontrol inherent in popular bodies and institutions, when allowed an unlimited expansion. The birth of the Radicals un
dermined the former; the excesses of the The Reign of Terror shook the latter. Whigs, the established and orthodox champions of the rights of the democracy, found their province invaded, and their flock led astray, by these sectarians in politics. On the other hand, the more sober of their adherents, the most moderate in their opinions, and aristocratic in their prepossessions, alarmed and disgusted by these dangerous rivals or doubtful allies, seceded entirely, and threw themselves into the arms of the Tories. Never had their benches exhibited a more brilliant union of splendid talents, of distinguished names, of statesmen of high reputation, than when this storm overtook them.
Fox in the meridian of his powers, Burke in all the unimpaired vigour of his extraordinary faculties, Sheridan in the first dazzling glory of his parliamentary career, Whitbread, Tierney, the present Lord Grey, Windham, following, with no distant steps, the track of their great leaders, formed a catalogue of which they might well be proud.
"But the great crisis to which I am reverting, was as injurious to their numerical strength within the walls of Parliament, as to their moral influence without. The phalanx I have enumerated was broken.
chiefs, the greatest in the grasp of his in"The greatest of that triumvirate of tellect, and the philosophic and comprehensive powers of his mind, quitted them for ever. Mr Burke possessed, perhaps, less Parliamentary tact, less of dexterity in debate. He had not the piercing wit of Sheridan; he had not had the early House of Commons' education, which trained the powers, or the accessories of station and connexion, which augmented the influence, of Mr Fox. In those important requisites for the leader of a party, whose force consists in the control he can obtain over the opinions and feelings of a mixed popular assembly, Mr Burke was probably inferior to his two celebrated associates. In depth and originality of thought, in the comprehensiveness of his faculties, in the acuteness of his sagacity with regard to the future, in the
clearness and profundity of his views on government, he not only surpassed them, but approached nearer the perfect union of the statesman and the philosopher, than any other instance in the history of the human mind. There can be no stronger example of the violence, the injustice, and
the prejudice generated by party feelings, than the obloquy with which he was pur. sued for changing his political connexions at this period. That this alteration involved no inconsistency with his previous opinions, we have the contemporary testimony of one of the ablest of his opponents, * corroborated by the internal evidence of his own works.
"No impartial mind can doubt that the French Revolution, by the novelty of its theories, by the magnitude of its effects, by the contagion of its example, and by the proselytizing spirit of its authors, did alter the whole surface of politics, and every relation, whether national or social, of the European family. It is an unavoidable inference, that a public man was at liberty to adopt a new line of conduct under such new circumstances. That a man advanced in age would break all the ties and friendships of early life friendships useful and flattering, as well as dear to him-for a trifling pension, is improbable. He who can peruse the 'Reflections on the French Revolution,' and continue of opinion that its author wrote them for hire, and belied his own convictions, libels the highest order of genius, by severing its intimate union with sincerity and truth. The only remaining consideration then is, whether the obligations of party ought to prevail in opposition to every principle of conscience and every feeling of patriotism, and to bind together discordant opinions upon new and vital questions.
"Diminished in splendour by the secession of its brightest ornaments, Burke and Windham; in numbers, by that of many of the more moderate, yet influential, of the party in both Houses of Parliament; and embarrassed by the novelty of its position with respect to the powerfal ultra-democrats springing into exist ence, the Whig Opposition maintained a firm countenance. They continued to arraign the policy, and to scrutinize the conduct of the Ministry, with equal acuteness, with no mitigated severity, and with a deeper shade of personal animosity. But no one can read the debates, and the history of that period, without perceiving in their tone a consciousness of the difficulty of their situation, and traces of the inconsistencies in which it involved them. At one time they launch out in eloquent
praise of the French Revolution; at another, they gently blame, while they palliate its excesses. At one time, they indulge in sanguine anticipation of the benefits with which it is pregnant to the whole human race; at another, they are staggered with the enormities which disfigured its course. Now they attack with violent declamation the coalitions of European Powers as conspiracies against the rights of mankind; and soon after they are obliged to admit that the intrigues and military movements of the Republic are assaults on the existence of governments, and aggressions on the independ ence of nations. At home, they enrol their names in political societies, and shrink from the ultimate objects which those societies have in view. They cen sure the dangerous designs and treasonable projects of affiliated Jacobins ; yet they loudly and violently stigmatize all measures of repression, all vigorous po licy, as invasions of liberty, and acts of unwarrantable oppression. They deny not the existence of the spirit of evil-yet they insist that, unopposed, it becomes perfectly innocuous; and that it is only when some attempt is made to check and control it that it is rendered dangerous to society. Thus did they endeavour to thread their way through the narrow space which was left them, seeking to preserve their distinctness inviolate; hoping to direct and to restrain the Radicals with one hand, and to oppose the firm Ministry of Pitt with the other. Had it been practicable, they would have accomplished it; for they were proud and able men, long versed in the warfare of party, devoted to their own: the aristocratic part of our representative system gave them sure seats in Parliament; their high reputation gave them weight in it. But they attempted an impossibility; they were interposed between the shocks of elements mightier than themselves. Identified with neither, they were opposed to all movement whatever as they were in a manner neutralized, they insisted that the nation ought to be neutral; as they would not sanction any steps of a decisive character against sedition, they argued that it would expend itself: they maintained that amidst the crash of empires, and in the face of the most active and powerful agents of destruction, if we
* "The late opinions of Mr Burke furnished more matter of astonishment to those who had distantly observed, than to those who had correctly examined, the system of his former political life. An abhorrence for abstract politics, a predilection for aristocracy, and a dread of innovation, had ever been among the most sacred articles of his public creed.'”—Introduction to the Vindicia Gallicæ.
were only quiescent, we should be safe,— as if some one were to counsel a traveller in the Arctic regions to take a sleep in the snow to recruit his strength, in a situation where inaction is death."
Sir John Walsh declines following the Whigs through all the various phases of their opposition to the government during the eventful struggles of that long war. Entangledhe mildly says-in a false position -they persevered in a course which alienated from them the sympathies of the better part of the nation; because it displayed their indifference to her noble efforts, their disposition to undervalue her powers, and to detract from her hard-won glories. They exhibited the inconsistency of a sort of coquetry towards the splendid but iron despotism of Napoleon, a feeling at variance with all their political professions. To say thus that their conduct" alienated from them the sympathies of the better part of the nation," is saying too little; for along with that alienation arose towards the Whigs an universal disgust, that almost smothered indignation, and gave way gradually to contempt. Had they had their own way, at this hour Britons might have been slaves. They regarded revolutionary France with fear after their love had been laid; and quaked before the tiger-monkeys.
Some vague reliance they placed on our navy; but they believed that were our army ever to see the French, it would run away; nor was that abject delusion destroyed even by the bayonets that skivered the Invincibles. Spain was to be the sepulchre of our soldiers-or France their prison; and till this day the cowardly Whigs praise Moore chiefly because, according to their prediction, Soult drove him to Corunna. That retreat has been eulogized by them more enthusiastically than all Wellington's advances-than his hundred victories. In all their forebodings of national disaster and ruin, something worse than mere cowardice must have been working at their hearts. For the thunder of the cannon that used to precede the Gazette, seemed always to stupify as well as startle the Whig; in those days he loved not Illuminations; he shammed sadness for the killed and wounded; and tried in vain to
squeeze out to misery a sulky tear. To the very last nothing could satisfy the Whigs but Wellington's overthrow and Napoleon's triumph. They have never forgiven the "Great Lord,” . Waterloo. Yet their anger by their own shewing was absurd; for never had there been so ill-fought a battle-but for Blucher Wellington had been beaten
and as the infatuated man had made no arrangements for a retreat, the whole British army would have perished like the Babes in the Wood.
Much of folly and wrong will be forgiven to an Opposition-provided they have shewn themselves, however galled and fretted, inspired, on the whole, with a patriotic spirit. Their falsehoods will be forgotten, because uttered in bitterness, if they have been such lies as might have been extorted by rage from disappointed and baffled men, who were yet lovers of their country, and admirers of its character. But the falsehoods and lies of the Whigs, all during the war, were not of that kind; they all libelled their native land, and eulogized France, while she was, with all her revolutionary energies, striving to extinguish our liberties, by forcing us to waste our wealth in foreign subsidies, till our iron took the place of our gold, and we lavished other treasures," transcending in their worth" all that ever flowed from exchequers, and treasures that we knew were inexhaustible the blood that circles through their veins from the hearts of men whom the earth acknowledges to be "of men the chief,"-blood which, in profusest outpouring, was never grudged by the brave.
That was their crime; and it is inexpiable. It alienated from them at last all their own friends, whose English hearts had not been Frenchified; it arrayed against them all whom party-spirit had not yet thoroughly besotted into admiration of the outlandish; and it stamped them with infamy in the minds of all who knew that, in that dreadful contest, we were struggling for all that could make life-we shall not say desirable-but endurable, to men who had been reared on the lap of freedom, and whom a foreign tyrant had sworn, for the glory of his eagles, to make slaves. The Whigs counselled