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solved to believe, that whatever the minister for the time being says or does, is right. When persons of little reflection or no candour cry out against an opposition as factious; inveigh against party spirit; and ask how any honest man can give up the guidance of his conscience, and follow implicitly the steps of his political leaders,—how comes it that they forget the far more implicit obedience rendered to the minister of the day, by the whole host of Government dependants? They are indeed knit together by an inseparable bond—their common interest; theirs is an unscrupulous, an uninquiring, an unthinking compliance with all that their chief prescribes. If the charges of unconscientious agreement in opinion, or blind submission to other men, applies to any class, it clearly is to those whom the power of the Government commands, or its patronage influences. If the opposers of the Government must be accused of violence and rancour, its supporters are equally open to the charge of tyranny and persecution. Nor will it avail the enemies of all party, to say that they blame both sides, and would have no regular discipline in either. By the nature of the case, there must be a party, regularly disciplined and paid, for the minister of the day. As long as self-interest has any influence over men's minds at least, this party must, of necessity, exist at all times. The question therefore is not, whether we shall do without any such unions; but whether we shall suffer them all to be on one side, and shall not have recourse to something of the same system and combination for watching and for opposing the ministerial party, which that party always uses for retaining its power, and almost always for augmenting the power of the Crown, and increasing the burthens of the people.
Now, it seems very manifest, that, without some systematic cooperation, no ministry can be either watched or opposed effectually. The argument applies, in different degrees, both to the vigilance which all administrations require, and the opposition which should be given to councils radically vicious; and as it is of course strongest in the latter case, we shall principally direct our attention to that. Compare, then, the chance of success which a ministry and an opposition, composed of insulated individuals, would have. All the adherents of the minister act in concert, and each sacrifices his own opinions and views, where they clash with the common object of defending their leader's place. If he proposes a measure which many of them disapprove, still they support him; because the loss of it would endanger his official existence. But if his opponents only attack him when they are all agreed upon the measure, they must, for the same reason, make the attack in the manner which all approve; that is to say, only those who agree in disapproving of the measure can join the attack; and of those, only such as concur in the way of expressing their dissent. It is not merely that one man may be influenced by one reason, and another by another, to join in the same vote:—this would lead to no material defalcation of strength. But there will be found very few votes in which all are precisely agreed; and if each man must follow his own judgment for conscience sake, even a small difference of sentiment must prevent a concurrence in the vote. Thus it will happen, that the whole body who disapprove of the measures of government as a system, and conscientiously deem a change necessary, are prevented from ever expressing that opinion at all. There might even be a clear majority against the government, and yet no change could be effected.
Let the nature of the cooperation which party requires be only considered fairly, and it will appear in no respect to involve sacrifices beyond what the most scrupulous ought to make. A number of individuals agree in holding many strong opinions upon the most important subjects. Unless there exists this general communion of sentiments, the party ought not to be formed. They all agree in holding a change of system necessary for the salvation of the country:—for if they only unite to bring about a change of men, we admit the conflict to be a mere scramble for power. Agreeing generally, and on important points, each man has differences of opinion as to the details; but the corner stone of the whole fabric being the unanimous concurrence in thinking that a change of system is necessary, and the adoption of some one line of opposition being essentially to accomplish this end, it is no sacrifice of individual opinions, but only acting in conformity with the most important opinion to sacrifice the less important; and, to act otherwise, would in reality be a much greater sacrifice of individual opinion. In truth, this is the way in which every man carries on his private affairs; and it is precisely the principle on which all communities depend for their existence. The power of the majority to bind the whole rests upon no other foundation. Does any man deem it unconscientious to submit to a bad law after it is passed, though he resisted its introduction? Unless, in extreme cases, when all government is at an end, it is the duty of every man to yield obedience, and to cooperate in carrying into effect measures which, while under discussion, he had opposed, because a still greater evil would ensue from his continued opposition, namely, the dissolution of society. So, in a party, it is a man's duty to cooperate with the whole body after his peculiar views have jbeen overruled, because otherwise a still greater evil would resuit, namely, the establishment for ever of the bad system which all agree ought to be changed. Extreme cases may arise here, as in the community at large; questions of paramount importance may interfere, upon which the differences of opinion are too great to be overcome; and a total or partial destruction of the union may be the result. But, in ordinary cases, the yielding in small matters for the sake of greater ones, is not only no abandonment of private opinion, but is the only way in which that opinion can be effectually pronounced and pursued.
It is thus essentially necessary to regard every measure, whether proposed by the government or their opponents, not merely on its own merits, but in connexion with the men who bring it forward, and the system of which it forms a part. Some questions, indeed, are of such paramount importance, and rest upon grounds so plain, that no compromise can be admitted in respect to them. But by far the greater number of those which come into discussion must be viewed in the relations just now mentioned. Suppose a measure, in itself good, is propounded by a set of ministers whose whole conduct is at variance with its principles, whose good faith in executing it cannot be trusted, and who may, independent of bad intentions, have no power to do its merits full justice—a man may most conscientiously resist the proposition; and he is liable to no charge of factious conduct, or of inconsistency, if he object to it in the hands of one class of statesmen, and afterwards approve of it in those of another and better description. It is rational and just to distinguish between different classes of ministers, and approve or disapprove of their systems; to grant the one our confidence, while we distrust the other. Let us only take a few instances, in order to demonstrate how senseless the clamour is which we see raised against party, upon the ground that measures only, and not men, should be the subject of deliberation and of choice.
There are some powers so hostile to liberty, and some resources so tempting to human weakness, that no ministers whatever ought to be entrusted with them. Thus, a large standing army, an Income Tax, or the suspension of the constitution even for a short time, though far more dangerous under rulers of arbitrary principles, lovers of war, and despisers of economy, can never be safely resorted to, whoever may be entrusted with the management of public affairs. But many lesser resources may be conceived which a politician might reasonably and honestly be afraid of confiding to men whose avowed principles would lead to the abuse of the grant, and yet might not be pre-; pared to refuse to a more constitutional and economical govern-a ment. In like manner, a measure for completing the aboli.* tion of the Slave Trade, must be supported by men of all parties who agree in disapproving of that traffic, without regard to the quarter from whence the proposition comes; but an honest and rational abolitionist must feel very suspicious of whatever is done in this cause by men who were always the great patrons of the trade, and who clung to its last remains, with the eagerness of African merchants, at the moment when the voice of the whole people was raised to put it down. The same law becomes a very different thing, if its execution is left in the hands of an enemy to its principles and spirit; and almost every branch of publick policy is connected with proceedings which must of necessity be entrusted to the servants of the executive government, and with events for which no legislative arrangement can provide. Thus, some very worthy, but mistaken abolitionists, who had flattered themselves that the law being once made, no ministers would dare to show any slackness in executing it, have been somewhat staggered always to find in the Colony Department, an avowed advocate of the West Indian body, and frequently to see in the colonies most exposed to slave trading, official men not very hostile to the traffic; nor were they much edified to find the interests of the abolition wholly overlooked in the first peace with France, though the loud and unanimous reprobation of the country soon forced the subject upon the attention of ministers, once the avowed patrons, and now the zealous enemies of the traffic. The state of Ireland affords another illustration. The injudicious supporters of the Catholic claims often rank themselves with the promoters of the outcry against party connexion. Yet who can deny that the Catholic question itself, if carried, would confer fewer advantages on Ireland, nay fewer immunities or benefits on the Catholic body, than the establishment of a ministry honestly and anxiously dis
f)osed to allay all sectarian animosities, and to give the Catholics the whole advantage of the law as it at present stands? While the professed enemies of that sect bear sway, and while one of the grounds of the preference shown to them by the Crown, is their inveterate hostility to the Catholic claims, it is manifest that emancipation itself, if carried, would amend the situation of the sister kingdom in little more than the name. A wise ministry, friendly to that body, was endeavouring in 1806 and 1807 to improve their condition by all practical favours which, under the existing laws could be shown to them, and to pave the way by gradual relaxations, for the complete repeal of the penal code. Like the Abolitionists, the violent Catholics cried out, ' Measures, not men; ' and, joining in the attack which their worst enemies made upon their best friends, they have had eleven or twelve years of oppression to warn them how they suffer themselves again to be blindly leagued against their own interests. The great subject of Economical Reform affords another illustration of the same doctrine. The extreme necessities of the country, and the loud cry which has gone forth from the whole people for retrenchment, has compelled the ministry to make some show of reformation in this particular. But as they are the known enemies of every such change; as their principle is to extend rather than diminish the Royal patronage; as their practice has been the indulgence of unexampled profusion in every branch of the public expenditure, no man of common sense could expect to see the cause of Economy thrive in their hands; and none but an idiot can have been disappointed at seeing how little has been effected by them in producing a saving of expense. Whatever relief the people have obtained from their burthens, is due to their own vehement determination to shake them off; and has been wrung from the gripe of their rulers in spite of the strongest efforts which could be made to retain the load upon the people's back. Generally speaking, a ministry favourable to the country, friendly to rational reforms, and despising patronage, would have carried through a variety of improvements which none but ministers can accomplish; and would have seized every practicable opportunity of retrenchment which the circumstances of the times afforded, independent of legislative enactments.
We trust that enough has been said to show, how honestly, and how rationally, a publick man may withhold his support systematically from one class of statesmen, and cooperate generally with another. Hitherto we have only spoken of the principle of party union, as liable to be questioned by persons of tender consciences, or guided by original views of policy. But two other classes also take a part in such associations, whose cooperation is not to be rejected, although the motives of the one, and the faculties of the other, may be less respectable. Self-interest, which leagues so many with the Government, may rank some too with its opponents; and a number of persons, who have sense and information enough to see which side they should, upon the whole, prefer, may be very far from possessing the power to form an enlightened opinion upon each measure that is discussed. There is no reason whatever, why the aid of both these classes should not be received; nor is it the slightest imputation, either upon the chiefs or their cause, to seek such cooperation. The ministry can only be effectually resisted by such means; the ministry, round whom such hosts are rallied by all the basest propensities of our nature, and