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LIMITED MONARCHY BEST SUPPORTED
stitution, let it flow into those channels through which all similar powers were ordained to act by the principles of that plan. The power itself you can neither repress nor annihilate; and, if it be not assimilated to the system of the constitution, you seem to be aware that it will ultimately overwhelm and destroy it. To set up against it the power of influence and corruption, is to set up that by which its strength is recruited, and its safe application rendered infinitely more difficult: it is to defend your establishments, by loading them with a weight which of itself makes them totter under its pressure, and, at the same time, affords a safe and inviting approach to the assailant.
In our own case, too, nothing fortunately is easier, than to reduce this growing power of the people within the legitimate bounds and cantonments of the constitution and nothing more obvious, than that, when so legalized and provided for, it can tend only to the exaltation and improvement of our condition, and must add strength and stability to the throne, as well as to the other branches of the legislature. It seems a strange doctrine to be held by any one in this land, and, above all, by the chief votaries and advocates of royal power, that its legal security consists in its means of corruption, or can be endangered by the utmost freedom and intelligence in the body of the people, and the utmost purity and popularity of our elections. Under an arbitrary government, where the powers of the monarch are confessedly unjust and oppressive, and are claimed, and openly asserted, not as the instruments of public benefit, but as the means of individual gratification, such a jealousy of popular independence is sufficiently intelligible: but, in a government like ours, where all the powers of the Crown are universally acknowledged to exist for the good of the people, it is evidently quite extravagant to fear, that any increase of union and intelligence-any growing love of freedom and justice in the peopleshould endanger, or should fail to confirm, all those powers and prerogatives.
We have not left ourselves room to enter more at
BY FREE AND INTELLIGENT SUBJECTS.
large into this interesting question; but we feel perfectly assured, and ready to maintain, that, as the institution of a limited, hereditary monarchy, must always appear the wisest and most reasonable of all human institutions, and that to which increasing reflection and experience will infallibly attach men more and more as the world advances; so, the prerogatives of such a monarch will always be safer and more inviolate, the more the sentiment of liberty, and the love of their political rights, is diffused and encouraged among his people. A legitimate sovereign, in short, who reigns by the fair exercise of his prerogative, can have no enemies among the lovers of regulated freedom; and the hostility of such men — by far the most terrible of all internal hostility—can only be directed towards him, when his throne is enveloped, by treacherous advisers, with the hosts of corruption; and disguised, for their ends, in the borrowed colours of tyranny.
STATE OF PARTIES, 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, are not the parties in the Cabinet, -nor even the parties in Parliament, but the Parties in the Nation;—that nation, whose opinions and whose spirit ought to admonish and controul both Cabinet and Parliament, but which now seems to us to be itself breaking rapidly into two furious and irreconcileable parties; by whose collision, if it be not prevented, our constitution and independence must be ultimately destroyed. We have said before, that the root of all our misfortunes was in the state of the People, and not in the constitution of the legislature; and the more we see and reflect, the more we are satisfied of this truth. It is in vain to cleanse the conduits and reservoirs, if the fountain itself be tainted and impure. If the body of the people be infatuated, or corrupt or depraved, it is vain to talk of improving their representation.
The dangers, and the corruptions, and the prodigies of the times, have very nearly put an end to all neutrality and moderation in politics; and the great body of the nation appears to us to be divided into two violent and
* This, I fear, is too much in the style of a sage and solemn Rebuke to the madness of contending factions. Yet it is not all rhetorical or assuming: And the observations on the vast importance and high and difficult duties of a middle party, in all great national contentions, seem to me as universally true, and as applicable to the present position of our affairs, as most of the other things I have ventured, for this reason, now to reproduce. It may be right to mention, that it was written at a time when the recent failure of that wretched expedition to Walcheren, and certain antipopular declarations in Parliament, had excited a deeper feeling of discontent in the country, and a greater apprehension for its consequences, than had been witnessed since the first great panic and excitement of the French revolution. The spirit of such a time may, perhaps, be detected in some of the following pages.
INCREASE OF EXTREME PARTIES.
most pernicious factions; - the courtiers, who are almost for arbitrary power, -and the democrats, who are almost for revolution and republicanism. Between these stand a small, but most respectable band-the friends of liberty and of order-the Old Constitutional Whigs of England, — with the best talents and the best intentions, but without preesnt power or popularity,―calumniated and suspected by both parties, and looking on both with too visible a resentment, aversion, and alarm. The two great divisions, in the mean time, are daily provoking each other to greater excesses, and recruiting their hostile ranks, as they advance, from the diminishing mass of the calm and the neutral. Every hour the rising tides are eating away the narrow isthmus upon which the adherents of the Constitution now appear to be stationed; and every hour it becomes more necessary for them to oppose some barrier to their encroachments.
If the two extreme parties are once permitted to shock together in open conflict, there is an end to the freedom, and almost to the existence of the nation, -whatever be the result, although that is not doubtful: And the only human means of preventing a consummation to which things seem so obviously tending, is for the remaining friends of the constitution to unbend from their cold and repulsive neutrality, and to join themselves to the more respectable members of the party to which they have the greatest affinity; and thus, by the weight of their character, and the force of their talents, to temper its violence and moderate its excesses, till it can be guided in safety to the defence, and not to the destruction, of our liberties. In the present crisis, we have no hesitation in saying, that it is to the popular side that the friends of the constitution must turn themselves and that, if the Whig leaders do not first conciliate, and then restrain the people, if they do not save them from the leaders they are already choosing in their own body, and become themselves their leaders, by becoming their patrons, and their cordial, though authoritative, advisers; they will in no long time sweep away the Constitution itself, the Monarchy of England, and the Whig
260 FAR FEWER NEUTRALS NOW, THAN FORMERLY;
aristocracy, by which that Monarchy is controuled and confirmed, and exalted above all other forms of polity.
This is the sum of our doctrine; though we are aware that, to most readers, it will require more development than we can now afford, and be exposed to more objections than we have left ourselves room to answer. To many, we are sensible, our fears will appear altogether chimerical and fantastic. We have always had these two parties, it will be said-always some for carrying things with a high hand against the people-and some for subjecting every thing to their nod; but the conflict has hitherto afforded nothing more than a wholesome and invigorating exercise; and the constitution, so far from being endangered by it, has hitherto been found to flourish, in proportion as it became more animated. Why, then, should we anticipate such tragical effects from its continuance ?
Now, to this, and to all such questions, we must answer, that we can conceive them to proceed only from that fatal ignorance or inattention to the Signs of the Times, which has been the cause of so many of our errors and misfortunes. It is quite true, that there have always been in this country persons who leaned towards arbitrary power, and persons who leaned towards too popular a government. În all mixed governments, there must be such men, and such parties: some will admire the monarchical, and some the democratical part of the constitution; and, speaking very generally, the rich, and the timid, and the indolent, as well as the base and the servile, will have a natural tendency to the one side; and the poor, the enthusiastic, and enterprising, as well as the envious and the discontented, will be inclined to range themselves on the other. These things have been always; and always must be. They have been hitherto, too, without mischief or hazard; and might be fairly considered as symptoms at least, if not as causes, of the soundness and vigour of our political organisation. But this has been the case, only because the bulk of the nation has hitherto, or till very lately, belonged to no party at all. Factions existed only among a small number of irritable.