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PRESENT COMPLAINERS, NOT HEIRS OF OLD SUFFERERS. 291

Spenser, Davis, and the writers referred to by Camden, long resident in the country, and eye-witnesses of all they describe, we really do not know what Mr. O'Driscol has to oppose, but his own patriotic prejudices, and his deep-rooted conviction, that no English testimony is to be trusted on such a subject. We must be forgiven for not sharing in his generous incredulity.

As to the more modern parts of the history, though he nevers fails to manifest an amiable anxiety to apologize for Irish excesses, and to do justice to Irish bravery and kindness, we really are not aware that this propensity has led him into any misrepresentation of facts; and are happy to find that it never points, in the remotest degree, to any thing so absurd as either a separation from England, or a vindictive wish for her distress or humiliation. He is too wise, indeed, not to be aware of that important truth, which so few of his zealous countrymen seem, however, able to comprehend — that there are no longer any of those injured Irish in existence, upon whom the English executed such flagrant oppressions two hundred years ago! and that nine tenths of the intelligent Irish, who now burn with desire to avenge the wrongs of their predecessors, are truly as much akin to those who did, as to those who suffered, the injury. We doubt whether even the O'Driscols have not, by this time, nearly as much English as Irish blood in their veins; and are quite sure, that if the lands pillaged from their original Celtic owners, in the days of Elizabeth and Cromwell, were to be given back to the true heirs, scarcely one of those who now reprobate the spoliation in good English, would profit by the restitution. The living Irishmen of the present day may have wrongs to complain of, and injuries to redress, on the part of the English Government: But it is absurd to imagine that they are entitled to resent the wrongs and injuries of those who suffered in the same place centuries ago. They are most of them half English, by blood and lineage-and much more than half English, in speech, training, character, and habits. If they are to punish the descendants of the individual English who

292

A VALUABLE HISTORY.

usurped Irish possessions, and displaced true Irish possessors, in former days, they must punish themselves; -for undoubtedly they are far more nearly connected with those spoilers than any of the hated English, whose ancestors never adventured to the neighbouring island. Mr. O'Driscol's partiality for the ancient Irish, therefore, is truly a mere peculiarity of taste or feeling — or at best but an historical predilection; and in reality has no influence, as it ought to have none, on his views as to what constitutes the actual grievances, or is likely to work the deliverance, of the existing generation.

MIDDLE AND EXTREME PARTIES.

293

(DECEMBER, 1826.)

Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan. By THOMAS MOORE. Fourth Edition. 2 vols. 8vo. London: Longman and Co. 1826.*

WE have frequently had occasion to speak of the dangers to which the conflict of two extreme parties must always expose the peace and the liberties of such a country as England, and of the hostility with which both are apt to regard those who still continue to stand neutral between them. The charges against this middle party- which we take to be now represented by the old constitutional Whigs of 1688-used formerly to be much the same, though somewhat mitigated in tone, with those which each was in the habit of addressing to their adversaries in the opposite extreme. When the high Tories wanted to abuse the Whigs, they said they were nearly as bad as the Radicals; and when these wished in their turn to lessen the credit of the same unfortunate party, the established form of reproach was, that they were little better than the Tories! Of late years, however, a change seems to have come over the spirit, or the practical tactics at least, of these gallant belligerents. They have now discovered that there are vices and incapacities peculiar to the Whigs, and inseparable indeed from their middle position: and that, before settling their fundamental differences with each other, it is most wise and fitting that they should unite to bear down this common enemy, by making good against them these heavy imputations. It has now become necessary, therefore, for those against whom they are directed, to inquire a little into the nature and proofs of these alleged

What is here given forms but a small part of the article originally published under this title, in 1826. But it exhibits nearly the whole of the General Polities contained in that article; and having been, as I believe, among the last political discussions I contributed to the Review, I have been tempted to close, with it, this most anxious and perilous division of the present publication.

294

CHARGES AGAINST THE MIDDLE PARTY.

enormities; the horror of which has thus suspended the conflict of old hereditary enemies, and led them to proclaim a truce, till the field, by their joint efforts, can be cleared for fair hostilities, by the destruction of these

hated intruders.

Now, the topics of reproach which these two opposite parties have recently joined in directing against those who would mediate between them, seem to be chiefly two: First, that their doctrines are timid, vacillating, compromising, and inconsistent; and, secondly, that the party which holds them is small, weak, despised, and unpopular. These are the favourite texts, we think, of those whose vocation it has lately become to preach against us, from the pulpits at once of servility and of democratical reform. But it is necessary to open them up a little farther, before we enter on our defence.

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The first charge then is, That the Whigs are essentially an inefficient, trimming, half-way sort of party too captious, penurious, and disrespectful to authority, to be useful servants in a Monarchy, and too aristocratical, cautious, and tenacious of old institutions, to deserve the confidence, or excite the sympathies, of a generous and enlightened People. Their advocates, accordingly-and we ourselves in an especial mannerare accused of dealing in contradictory and equivocating doctrines; of practising a continual see-saw of admissions and retractations; of saying now a word for the people -now one for the aristocracy-now one for the Crown; of paralysing all our liberal propositions by some timid and paltry reservation, and never being betrayed into a truly popular sentiment without instantly chilling and neutralizing it by some cold warning against excess, some cautious saving of the privileges of rank and establishment. And so far has this system of inculpation been lately carried, that a liberal Journal, of great and increasing celebrity, has actually done us the honour, quarter after quarter, of quoting long passages from our humble pages, in evidence of this sad infirmity in our party and principles.

Now, while we reject of course the epithets which are

FACTS ADMITTED, BUT CONCLUSIONS DENIED. 295

here applied to us, we admit, at once, the facts on which our adversaries profess to justify them. We acknowledge that we are fairly chargeable with a fear of opposite excesses-a desire to compromise and reconcile the claims of all the great parties in the State-an anxiety to temper and qualify whatever may be said in favour of one, with a steady reservation of whatever may be justly due to the rest. To this sort of trimming, to this inconsistency, to this timidity, we distinctly plead guilty. We plead guilty to a love for the British Constitutionand to all and every one of its branches. We are for King, Lords, and Commons; and though not perhaps exactly in that order, we are proud to have it said that we have a word for each in its turn; and that, in asserting the rights of one, we would not willingly forget those of the others. Our jealousy, we confess, is greatest of those who have the readiest means of persuasion; and therefore, we are generally far more afraid of the encroachments of arbitrary power, under cover of its patronage, and the general love of peace, security and distinction, which attract so strongly to the region of the Court, than of the usurpations of popular violence. But we are for authority, as well as for freedom. We are for the natural and wholesome influence of wealth and rank, and the veneration which belongs to old institutions, without which no government has ever had either stability or respect; as well as for that vigilance of popular controul, and that supremacy of public opinion, without which none could be long protected from abuse. We know that, when pushed to their ultimate extremes, those principles may be said to be in contradiction. But the escape from inconsistency is secured by the very obvious precaution of stopping short of such extremes. It was to prevent this, in fact, that the English constitution, and indeed all good government everywhere, was established. Every thing that we know that is valuable in the ordinances of men, or admirable in the arrangements of Providence, seems to depend on a compromise, a balance; or, if the expression is thought better, on a conflict and struggle, of opposite and irreconcileable

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