« AnteriorContinuar »
thinks them to be of any weight, who refuses to adopt the means of having them reduced into practice. It is the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of government. It is the business of the politician, who is the philosopher in action, to find out proper means towards those ends, and to employ them with effect. Therefore every honourable connexion will avow it is their first purpose, to pursue every just method to put the men who hold their opinions into such a condition as may enable them to carry their common plans into execution, with all the power and authority of the state. As this power is attached to certain situations, it is their duty to contend for these situations. Without a proscription of others, they are bound to give to their own party the preference in all things; and by no means, for private considerations, to accept any offers of power in which the whole body is not included ; nor to suffer themselves to be led, or to be controlled, or to be over-balanced, in office or in council, by those who contradict the very fundamental principles on which their party is formed, and even those upon which every fair connexion must stand. Such a generous contention for power, on such manly and honourable maxims, will easily be distinguished from the mean and interested struggle for place and emolument. The very style of such persons will serve to discriminate them from those numberless impostors, who have deluded the ignorant with professions incompatible with human practice, and have afterwards in, censed them by practices below the level of vulgar rectitude.'
Of the imputations cast upon party men for deserting their followers or their principles when they take office, it is the less necessary to speak at large; because, as soon as they have the government in their hands, they ought to be closely watched, and are pretty sure to be so, by those whom they have displaced. Nor would there fail, in these times, to arise a third party for the interests of the people, if their present defenders were to forget themselves when in office, and to league with the advocates of unconstitutional measures. The risk would be considerable of the new opposition rather encouraging than checking such a dereliction of duty: They followed this course during the year 1806, when the country had not the benefit of a constitutional opposition. But the immediate formation of a third party, out of doors, would, in this case, be irresistible, and it would speedily find itself represented in Parliament, or would push its representatives into that assembly. The more immi. nent hazard is of an opposite description. Too much, and in too short a time, is expected to be performed by the new and popular ministers. Sufficient time is not allowed them to redeem their pledges. If they do not at once attempt all they promised, they are apt to be deserted by many well-meaning, but
cried as the supporters of all its existing abuses and imperfections. -The leaders of this third party, and those who composed it in the country, were, it may safely be asserted, influenced by very different views, and possessed of very unequal degrees of information. The former had formed the design of establishing a popular interest, and guiding its operations themselves. They saw that no chance of succeeding in this project was left to them, as long as the Whig party retained the confidence of the people. They therefore set themselves about undermining that favour which the party had so long enjoyed; and, availing themselves of the unreasonable disappointment produced by their conduct while in office, and of some unfortunate coldness towards the popular cause displayed after their retreat from power, they succeeded in persuading a great body of the community that the Whigs had deserted them; that place only was their object; and, in fine, that all public men are alike all the enemies of the people, whose only chance of salvation must be sought in throwing off every party connexion, thinking for themselves, and taking into their own hands the management of their affairs; in other words, blindly following these new guides through a course of mere turbulent discontent, without any plan, or any prospect of effecting a single one of the objects represented as necessary to save the country. Having thus, in a great measure, succeeded in shaking the people's confidence in their natural leaders, and in branding rank, station, long services and liberal accomplishments as tokens of hostility to the cause of liberty, and warnings to put the country on their guard against their possessors; they had only themselves to recommend instead of the leaders and advocates whom they were endeavouring to set aside; and their own crude, visionary schemes to propose, in place of the sober, rational, and practicable plans of improvement patronized by the great popular party whom they supplanted. .
Å little leisure was now afforded for observing the conduct of these men of high and exclusive pretensions to patriotism. And first of all, it was found that they excelled far more in railing at others, than in bringing forward themselves any useful measures for the relief of the country. They talked as if they were possessed of some nostrums for removing all evils; and effectually resisting the pernicious councils of the Government. But, in the mean time, the force of the people being divided, and the energies of opposition cramped, the Government went on more triumphantly than ever, and, for some time, met with no check to its encroachments. Then it was observed, that
these new leaders of the publick opinion ran, in a short period, of time, the whole round of inconsistent and opposite opinions. Almost every week they had a new doctrine to promulge—a new Shibboleth to propose. As each lost its novelty, another was invented. Every topic they broached, too, was in its turn the one thing needful—the grand and paramount interest—the only matter worthy of the publick attention. Now it was Lord Wellington's campaigns and pensions; then the Duke of York and Mrs Clarke; this day the privileges of the House of Commons; the next Walcheren; and, on the morrow, parliamentary reform, or tythes, or taxes, or the learned languages, or the aristocracy and its vicious accomplishments. All their motions in either House of Parliament, which only one or two members could be found to support—all the plans which, by their extravagance, revolted men of sober judgment-and all the publick men who, from accidental circumstances, or through their own conduct, were deprived of intercourse with the more polished and enlightened classes of society, were held up to the admiration of the multitude. As any creed of reform gained converts among persons of a superior cast, new articles were added to stagger them, and leave the profession of it to the pure reformers alone. As soon as any candidate for popular favour was found to associate with the upper classes of society, he was denounced as an object of distrust. To have quarrelled past all chance of reconciliation with those hated orders, was deemed the surest road to publick confidence, next to that of never haying belonged to, or kept any terms with them. And thus new patriots easily arose to the height of popularity, and as suddenly sụnk, never more to be heard of, leaving the people unprotected, and the ministry unopposed, except by the regular Whig party, whom all these tricks and follies had crippled, but not destroyed. ".. - This party, on the contrary, went on holding its even and steady course, except that it wisely lent itself more and more to popular measures, and cultivated more assiduously the esteem of the respectable portion of the community. While the new candidates for publick favour were doing nothing for the country, but railing at every measure of reform, in proportion to its real value and its practicability, the Whigs were resolutely opposing every dangerous stretch of power and unnecessary expenditure of the revenue--defending the cause of liberty and of national independence abroad-reducing the standing army at home-compelling the ministers to adopt measures beneficial to trade, and to relinquish an enormous amount of taxes the most burthensome and oppressive. All these real services were ren
ont to us. The honoregan to
dered to the State, without the most remote appearance of an undue thirst for place or power. On the contrary, their reluctance to accept office was made the ground of charging them with a factious and obstinate opposition.
The people of this country, although they may for a season be misled, are sure in the end to think for themselves, and to recover from the blindness of temporary delusions, either of attachment to unworthy favourites, or of prejudice against old and tried friends. The evidence of facts in the end has its weight; the merit of continued honest and useful conduct never pleads with them in vain. They began to acknowledge the unfairness of the attacks made upon the popular party in Parliament, and to doubt the wisdom of the new guides who preached Universal Suffrage as the sovereign panacea for all ills. Their eyes would have been opened much sooner, had the Whigs not committed the error on the one hand, of refraining from openly attacking and exposing the follies of that doctrine; and of being too slow, on the other, to lay down distinctly their own views of reform. Of late they have done so, and with perfect success. The recent Elections plainly show that the people are no longer under the guidance of shallow pretenders to constitutional learning, or base dealers in vulgar sedition; and that even the more respectable zealots of reform have failed to estrange them from their natural leaders. To those leaders they have evinced their willingness to return; and there cannot be a doubt that this disposition will, as it ought, be met by corresponding kindness.
The question here naturally arises, what are the principles of government adopted by the present ministers, and what the ground of the constitutional opposition to their remaining in office? A single glance at this subject will at once show how deeply the country is interested in the regular conflicts of the two parties, and how false the assertions have been of those who try to inculcate a feeling of indifference upon this momentous affair. The present ministry are in their hearts and in their whole conduct the enemies of every reform, and of none more than of retrenchment. They will yield nothing of the patronage of the Crown; and, until forced, they will lessen none of the people's burthens. They are friendly to large military establishments; patrons of arbitrary power abroad; and ready to make arrangements with foreign courts which may lead to war for merely foreign objects. At home, they undervalue the rights of the people, and carelessly treat the most sacred parts of the Constitution. Hostile to every improvement, they despise the voice of those who call for a revision of our commerçial system, that it may be adapted to the circumstances of the
times; and they shrink back from amending any part of our jurisprudence, whether criminal or economical, though the universal experience of mankind, the plainest principles of justice and humanity, combined with the most obvious dictates of common sense, may imperiously demand it. In one word, abuse of every description finds in them protection and palliation. But the state of the country—the progress of the age-the intelligence of the people require a set of rulers who will strenuously setthemselves to investigate, expose, and correct all abuses, by whomsoever committed, and by whatever length of practice sanctioned. This ought to be the only pledge demanded by the country from a new ministry. The details must, in fairness and in prudence, also be left to then selves. If they can carry the Catholic Question, and effect a moderate and wholesome Rea form of Parliament, the country will gain so much the more. But no such point should ever be thought of as a condition sine qua non; retrenchment and reformation of abuses, at home and abroad, ought alone to be reckoned the master-principle of the party.
On the other hand, the termination of the war, and the removal of all apprehensions that any respectable party in the country entertained designs hostile to the established Government, have deprived the Court of its principal argument against the Whigs. No man will now seriously maintain that the independence of the Empire or the stability of the Throne would be endangered by their accession to power. They are known to be jealous of their country's honour with regard to foreign powers, and as hostile to the mad or wicked designs of traitors at home, as those courtiers themselves who so long contrived to keep their places by propagating the most scandalous calumnies against the popular party. But there is this remarkable difference between them :-The Whigs would bring to any contest, for the honour of the Crown, in which the country might unfortunately be engaged, an united and zealous people; and they would oppose the schemes of disaffection by a real and constitutional vigour, which would first destroy half its force by removing its causes or pretexts, and then combat what remained by the strong arm of the law in its utmost purity.
We have offered these strictures to all the parties which divide the country at this period, and especially to the people at, large, whose interest, as well as duty it is to chuse, and to support the one most likely to serve their cause. Before concluding, we must address a few words to the popular leaders of the party to which we look for restoring the prosperity of the State, and effecting the improvements in its condition, which the re