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have exulted in the parentage of a stock which, in the brief period of one hundred and fifty years, had swelled from a knot of pilgrims into an independent nation ; and which, in the first fifty years of its independence as a nation, bad drawn together, by a centripetal force like that of nature, the discordant materials of half a globe, and magnetized the mass with the electric spark of civil and religious freedom.
DIFFERENCE OF CHARACTER IN THE POLI. TICAL CHANGES OF GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE.
Edinburgh Review for July, 1832. The meeting of the States-General in France was the signal for the explosion of all the hoarded passions of a century. In that assembly, there were undoubtedly very able men ; but they had no practical knowledge of the art of government. All the great English revolutions have been conducted by practical statesmen. The French Revolution was conducted by mere speculators. Our constitution has never been so far behind the age, as to have become an object of aversion to the people. The English revolutions have therefore been undertaken for the purpose of defending, correcting, and restoring—never for the mere purpose of destroying ! Our countrymen bave always, even in times of the greatest
excitement, spoken reverently of the form of government under which they lived, and attacked only what they regarded as its corruptions. In the very act of innovating, they have constantly appealed to ancient prescription ; they have seldom looked abroad for models ; they have seldom troubled themselves with Utopian theories ; they have not been anxious to prove that liberty is a natural right of men ; they have been content to regard it as the lawful birthright of Englishmen! Their social contract is no fiction. It is still extant on the original parchment, sealed with wax which was affixed at Runnymede, and attested by the lordly names of the Marischals and Fitzherberts.
No general arguments about the original equality of men, no fine stories out of Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos, have ever affected them so much as their own familiar words,-Magna Charta,
Habeas Corpus,-Trial by Jury,-Bill of Rights.—The English, content with their own national recollections and names, have never sought for models in the institutions of Greece or Rome. The French, having nothing in their own history to which they could look back with pleasure, had recourse to the history of the great ancient commonwealths : they drew their notions of those commonwealths, not from contemporary writers, but from romances written by pedantic moralists long after the extinction of public liberty. They neglected Thucydides for Plutarch. Blind themselves, they took blind guides. They had no experience of freedom, and they took their opinions concerning it from men who had no more experience of it than themselves, and whose imaginations, inflamed by mystery and privation, exaggerated the unknown enjoyment ;—from men who raved about patriotism without having ever had a country, and eulogised" tyrannicide while crouching before tyrants. The maxim which the French legislators learned in this school was, that political liberty is an end, and not a means ; that it is not merely valuable as the great safeguard of order, of property, and of morality, but that it is in itself a high and exquisite happiness to which order, property, and morality ought without one scruple to be sacrificed. The lessons which may be learned from ancient history are indeed most useful and important; but they were not likely to be learned by men who, in all their rhapsodies about Athenian democracy, seemed utterly to forget that in that democracy there were ten slaves to one citizen ; and who constantly decorated their invectives against the aristocrats with panegyricson Brutus and Cato,—two aristocrats, fiercer, prouder, and more exclusive, than any that emigrated with the Count of Artois.
Hon. HENRY ERSKINE.
Unwonted ! well I ween ; for ne'er before
“ Farewell ! farewell ! dear Caledonia's strand, Rough though thou be, yet my
native land : Exiled from thee, I seek a foreign shore, Friends, kindred, country, to behold no more : By hard oppression driven, my helpless age, That should ere now have left life's bustling stage, Is forced the ocean's boisterous breast to brave, In a far foreign land to seek a grave.
“ And must I leave thee, then, my little cot? Mine and my
but happy lot, Where I have passed, in innocence, away Year after
“ But ah, sad change! those blessed days are o'er, And peace, content, and safety, charm no more : Another lord now rules those wild domains, The avaricious tyrant of the plains ;
Far, far from hence, he revels life
away, In guilty pleasures our poor means must pay. The mossy plains, the mountain's barren brow, Must now be tortured by the tearing plough, And, spite of nature, crops be taught to rise, Which to these northern climes wise Heaven denies, In vain, with sweating brow and weary hands, We strive to earn the gold our lord demands, While cold and hunger, and the dungeon's gloom, Await our failure as its certain doom.
“ To shun these ills that threat my hoary head, I seek in foreign lands precarious bread; Forced, though my helpless age from guilt be pure, The pangs of banished felons to endure; And all because those hands have vainly tried To force from art what nature has denied ; Because
little all will not suffice To pay
the insatiate claims of avarice.
“On whatsoever coast I may be thrown,
“ For thee, insatiate chief ! whose ruthless hand For ever drives me from my native land ;
For thee I leave no greater curse behind,
“ For you, my friends and neighbours of the vale, Who now with kindly tears my fate bewail, Soon may our king, whose breast paternal glow With tenderest feelings for his people's woe; Soon may
the rulers of this mighty land, To ease your sorrows, stretch the helping hand, Else soon, too soon, your helpless fate shall be Like me to suffer, to depart like me. 66 On your
dear native land, from whence I part, Rest the best blessing of a broken heart. If in some future hour the foe should land His hostile legions on Britannia's strand, May she not then the alarum sound in vain, Nor miss her banished thousands on the plain !
“ Feed on, my sheep, for though deprived of me,
“ Feed on, my goats, another now shall drain
“Feed on, my flocks; ye harmless people, feed;