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informed on the subject, and for in- trious in their origin, and comparativeducing himself, as well as others of his ly pure, even in their course-confamily, to collect the ample and au- pexions which have vindicated the thentic materials from which my late principle of party attachment from the account was drawn up. G. R. odium into which it might have fallen Bower-Lodge, Sept. 8, 1818. by the prevalence of political profli
gacy-it must be owned, that they have been of rare occurrence. It is difficult to seize the outward li.
neaments that stamp a character of STATE OF PARTIES, AND THE EDIN, purity and high-mindedness upon such
connexions, and honourably distin
guish them from the unprincipled The existence of Party, in a high and combinations of mere faction. The liberal sense of the term, is unavoida undisturbed possession of power is far able under a free Government; and indeed from being an unequivocal crithere have been periods in our history, terion either of the patriotism or of the and these not remote, in which the popularity of any body of public men; magnificent struggles for supremacy of but it is a sure symptom that there is lofty and surpassing talent have justly in the character and composition of a fixed the regard and admiration of party something alien to the feelings mankind. When party spirit comes
of the people, and repugnant to the in this glorious shape, it has all the constitutional administration of Gograce of patriotism and all the majesty vernment, when they are permitted, of genius to recommend it. The pu- without sympathy or concern, to strugrity and grandeur of the leading mind gle for a long course of years in all the elevate the conceptions and dignify impatient violence of opposition-to the sentiments, even of its most hum denounce their adversaries in terms of ble followers. The vulgar ambition unmeasured indignation and menace of mere place and emolument, which without any preceptible effect-to outforms the only living principle of every live hundreds of their own predictions degraded faction, is despised by him about the ruin of their country, and who is enabled by the gifts of nature yet to see it maliciously reviving, even to tower above the sorry contention,
under their most formidable frowns and called, imperiously called, by Pro- to call pathetically, but in vain, on vidence to aspire after higher objects, the people for support to their strugand challenge a more glorious prize. gling virtue, now nigh about to What, to the illustrious party-leader faint and die away, and to rise aftex whom we suppose, and of whom we each successive repulse and each new have had more than one splendid ex- humiliation, with fresh claims upon ample, is the petty triumph which the public confidence, which are anwould enable him to confer offices. swered only with colder indifference, to preside in the distribution of public or more bitter derision. Such is not spoils--to govern in the plenitude of the manner in which the people, that despotism over the waste of corruption? is, the spirit and intelligence of the what to such a man can all this be, country, are wont to treat those in compared with the conscious power of whose struggles they feel a keen and sustaining the glory or retrieving the generous interest, or upon whose tafortunes of his country? Such has lents they repose their hopes of nationbeen the fortune of some illustrious al prosperity and glory. party-leaders in this land of freedom Such, however, is the state of the and it is impossible to dispute the vir. Opposition Party in Parliament, which tue of that principle of public attach“ still fantastically retains the unsubment which enabled them to give en- stantial and unmeaning appellation of ergy to the grandeur of their concep
“ The Whig Party.
Why should tions-and which, in these rare ex- they profane this once venerable name? amples of high and patriotic exertion, What have the opposition of our times was without the meanness that has too in common with the lofty and considoften distinguished and degraded po- erate spirit of the great authors of the litical alliances,
English Revolution, the proud conBut although there have been party querors of the independence of E1connexions in this country, thus illus- rope ? Do they indeed, who, as a para
years the enterprise of their country the other,-is still a choice betwixt in the most eventful period of history, established institutions and untried represent the sages and conquerors change-betwixt national glory and who with one hand built up the au- disgrace-betwixt the triumph and the gust fabric of limited monarchy at fall of British pre-eminence-betwixt home, and with the other wielded its the majestic principles of order and thunders against an inexorable and the warring elements of revolution, overshadowing despotism abroad ? - once openly cherished by those to What would the majestic mind of whom the present race of Whigs have Sommers have thought of the half- succeeded, and in whose faith they reclaimed panegyrists of the French were baptized, and now more ambiRevolution? How would the heroic guously indicated in the prudential spirit of Marlborough have endured moderation to which they have been the calumniators of Wellington ? confined by the course of events and
The present “ Whigs," --since, for the rising tide of public indignation. the sake of distinction, they must be It was the French Revolution that called by that name,-håve forfeited first severed the Whigs, as a body, the confidence of the country by a from that system now well entitled, long course of action, the memory of from long experience-from general which can never be obliterated. It sig- approbation-from final and triumphnifies little what opinion may be form- ant establishment,-to the appellation ed of the talents of the Ministers in a of British. From the moment that question about the chances of Whig Mr Fox, in a paroxysm of enthusiastic ascendancy; for even those who do admiration, gave, before the House of not acknowledge the depth of Vansit- Commons, and in the face of the world, tart, nor admire the eloquence of Case the high sanction of his name to the tlereagh, would tremble for a change, insanity of the first constitution of the which, by displacing their useful and French Republic, he renounced his prosperous abilities, must open the road character of an English Whig, and beto power to a body of men, who, upon came the champion of a new and irtheir accession, must either revolu- reconcilable system. His high talent tionise the whole system of adminis- saved him from the vulgarity, his gentration, or act before the world the erous heart shrunk from the atrocity, most odious drama of political profli- of Jacobinism. But although he may gacy that has ever been exhibited. A have shuddered at the means, his elochange of administration, in the pre- quence, so far as its power extended, sent state of nolitical parties, would consecrated the wild and impracticaDear no itoemblance to similar events ble end. in other times; for never before were Mr Burke, on the memorable occapolitical distinctions so radical or com- sion of his separation from Mr Fox, prehensive; never were they confirm- declared, that he knew the value of ed or embodied in so long a course of what he had lost—he knew that he action, and so mighty a series of e- had lost an amiable and illustrious vents ; never was the system to be friend--but he must have felt also, supplanted so deeply interwoven with that the cause of order and of genuine the actual existence of the country— liberty had sustained an irreparable with its conquests and triumphs—itsex- misfortune in the defection of a man ertions, sacrifices, and glory; and never who was born to sway inferior underwas that which aspires to the succession standings, and who could not revolt so palpably and thoroughly estranged from the legitimate authority of the from every bright recollection upon Constitution, without spreading the which the larger and better part of the flame of insurrection through a large people fondly repose,--and to which portion of society, and stamping his they will recur with delight till all own momentous errors in deep and memory of the stupendous transac- enduring impression upon a powerful tions of the past is lost in some new party in the state. and more hideous convulsion. The The result soon became visible; ehoice betwixt the present Ministers and the war of 1793--a war underand their opponents,
-even if it were taken for the defence of order against conceded to the matchless arrogance of the principles and progress of revoluWhiggism, that it is a choice of intel- tion-was strongly
opposed by Mr Fox lect on the one side and imbecility on and his party in all its stages. It was for his angry and vehement opposition family and the stamp of kindred ; and to this war in its commencement-an in their unextorted confessions, as well opposition continued by himself and as their wildest undertakings, throughhis successors down to the moment of out their whole career, whether of its splendid termination—that Mr Fox speculation or of practice, we discover himself lost the public confidence, and only the varying passage towards that has entailed upon his adherents, as a boundless ocean of blood in which party, this irredeemable forfeiture. their unmitigable spirits were to wash
And where is the man capable of away the virtue and the piety of manappreciating the events of the last kind. thirty years, who can wonder at or la- The English Whigs, indeed, somement this result? Was it wrong to re- times attempted to qualify their adsist that revolution which has filled the miration of the French Revolution, world with misery, and as to which, by assigning natural limits to its innow that its fury is expended, we know fluence-by describing it as well as not whether most to deride the extra- dapted to the actual condition of vagance of its pretensions, or detest the France alone. But could they serie enormity of its crimes ? Was it unwise ously expect to see this Revolution, to shut the barriers of this yet uncor- if once triumphant, confined within rupted kingdom against the flood of the French territories ? If there had vice and of folly which was fast rolling been a chance that the fury of the to its shores ? ---to denounce a system Revolution would have expended which, in the very act of declaring an itself within such limits, that the insane equality,' merged into the factions raging against each other in sternest and most odious tyranny ? - that devoted country would have which delivered over millions, in the become forgetful of foreign relaa frenzy of moral intoxication, to the tions, and negligent of foreign concraft and cruelty of its own unbeliev- quest,--that other nations might have ing apostles ?-was it wrong to op- safely witnessed the career of infamy pose that monstrous system, which and crime without danger from the fixed the stamp of hypocrisy on social example, or injury from the shock, intercourse, and spread dishonour a- that the energetic and sagacious rulers mong nations ?-which, in the accents of this frightful intestine strife would of toleration, issued its code of pro- not have provided for the stability of scription and murder?-which insult- their system, by lavishing the raised ed thrones, contaminated the people, spirit of an impetuous people in exterdespised man, and disowned God? nal aggression and remote violence ; What privation, --what danger,– if there had been a reasonable proswhich even of the ordinary modes of pect that, terrified by the sanguinary destruction was not preferable to the apparition which they had called forth, contact of this foul pestilence, which they might have willingly assisted to never destroyed before it had first de- quell it, had they not been provoked graded its victims?
to madness by the insult of foreign Nor can the English admirers of this aggression,ếor that, renouncing their Revolution plead that they were ever wild ambition, their visionary theories, misled by its casual deviation into the and their practical enormities, they paths of honour and morality. Its prin- might have returned to a state of orciple was one and unchanged-work- der and tranquillity, but for the uning in different forms and by different compromising haughtiness with which instruments--but unchanged in its they were excluded from the relations essence, and uniform in its tendencies of policy and the intercourse of na
from the impurpled frenzy of Rob- tions ;-if there had been any ground espierre, to the more considerate and for supposing that the French Revocomprehensive desolation of Bona- lution was to be flattered into quiparte. Sometimes it stooped to de- escence, or persuaded into moderation, ceive, -oftener it rose in wild menace or despised into self-destruction, then and defiance,-now it was a secret might the policy of England have poison, stealing through every vein,– merited reprobation, while the steady and again it was a volcano, blazing and unvarying opposition of the Whigs vengeance and ruin upon the nations. might have demanded the applause of The long line of its heroes and martyrs their country. But nothing could had all upon them the resemblance of have been more chiincrical than such
expectations. What! talk of the self- ed retribution appeared ready to en destroying power of a system which velope the sanguinary inventors, -riswas nourished by blood and matured ing in pride and defiance towards the by crime which rose up to its most mighty combination which its excessstupendous height on the swelling es had provoked, just when the stroke wave of carnage-which counted every of fate appeared about to descend,actual sacrifice but as an insignificant and, in spite of this insane trampling unit in its infinite series of renovation, upon every principle of ordinary poand made humanity the subject of licy, fulfilling its arrogant prophecies callous and unshrinking experiment ; of vengeance and of dominion by means talk of the possible forbearance and which, as they contradicted all the ormoderation, the virtuous abhorrence, dinary principles of policy, and apthe repenting terrors of the children peared to transcend in their operation and champions of Revolution, of the the laws of nature themselves, filled Robespierres, the Dantons, the Ma- every bosom with that instinctive horrats, the Carnots, most of whom ex- ror which is felt in the
very imaginapired in blasphemous devotion to their tion of the resistless and preternatural own profligate faith. To speak of supremacy of the genius of evil. alliance as desirable, or neutrality as It were superfluous to follow the possible, with these desperate men, course of this awful visitation farther; and the gang whom they maddened its more recent transformations, exinto the ruffian sublimity of revolu- ploits, and horrors, are fresh in the retion, is an outrage on the indignant collection of all. In its every shape feelings of mankind.
directorial, consular, imperial-in its As the war advanced, the real char- republican agitations, as well as in its acter of the enemy became more fright- despotic and overshadowing stillness fully conspicuous; and although the the English Whigs found matter of British nation had now become nearly qualified panegyric and of mitigated unanimous, the Whigs, still clinging reproach ; and their councils to Engto their original predilections, although land were ever-peace, submission, under many professed modifications, humiliation. Till the deep, and it is opposed, as vigorously as ever, the to be hoped final, descent of the desprinciple of this mighty contest. troyer into oblivion, their theme was Could they yet mistake the genius of his truly legitimate title-their boast that Revolution against which their his resistless supremacy. Nor were country was struggling even for exist- they roused from their profound speence, and of which every day was culations on the prospects of the Ath deepening the unrivalled horrors ? Gallic dynasty, but by the fatal thunAbsolutely towering in malevolent ders of Waterloo, which swept it for grandeur, above the vicissitudes of ever from the earth. fortune, victory but kindled with England cannot take such a party scorn, while defeat redoubled its into her councils at this moment." Al fury; and for a long series of dark though the power of revolution is and hopeless years, amid all the casu- broken, its spirit is not extinguished; alities of war and policy, there seem- the mighty arrangements which have ed to be in the world but one cloudy been accomplished in the spirit of anoand progressive movement-the march ther system, yet require the sustaining and the triumph of revolution. All agency of the same principles by which around seemed stationary or decline they had been established ; the disoring; revolution alone was making dered aspect of Europe yet invites the constant and rapid strides, not only vigilance of Britain, and may still desurviving, but exulting in misfortune, mand new interposition of her power. -holding fast the language of enthu- It is to no purpose, that in these cirsiasm in the very agony of disap- cumstances the Whigs still vehementpointment.--vomiting its undisciplin- ly appeal to the settled indifference of ed hordes in terrible succession upon the people that deluded with the Europe, and inspiring them with a semblance of victory in the turbulent frenzy which appeared to rise with results of one or two rabble elections, the carnage made in their impetuous they already indulge the hope of dismasses,--drawing new and gratuitous solving the administration-that, as if horrors round the ordinary ravages of their talent as well as their credit war, even in moments when a merito were in rapid decline, they have en
cumbered the pages of their steady will ever appear more hideous the and once potent organ with a state- more mankind are enlightened, unless ment of their claims, in which pre- it be the effect of knowledge to corsumption and dulness are combined rupt every sentiment of national pride, in rare and whimsical proportions. and extinguish every spark of patriot
The last Number of the Edinburgh ism. Review contains an article on the The advantage of party connexions, “ State of Parties,” which, as it pro- when founded on generous and lofty bably escaped the notice of the inge- views, has never been disputed. It nious and learned Editor in the hurry was superfluous, therefore, for this auof his other employments, deserves at- thor to array, with all the minuteness tention rather as a tribute to the ex- of a mathematical demonstration, the piring celebrity of the work, than to elementary principles by which they the merits of this particular perform- are defended, and to ransack the po
The paper is, from beginning litical works of Burke for the details to end, a tissue of elaborate truisms of an argument which, ever since it and gratuitous assumptions, sprinkled was illustrated by the splendour of with numerous and not unimportant his eloquence, has been familiar to misrepresentations. There are two every understanding. The passages leading propositions which it is the selected by the Reviewer from that ambition of the author to illustrate immortal writer, as an ornament to that party is in itself a good thing, his own dreary speculation, are like and that the present Opposition con
flowers in a desert, breathing a sweet stitute the best of all parties. But of fragrance through the surrounding the conclusion to which his tedious wilderness. But the argument about and involved argument necessarily party connexions is not strengthened leads, he was not perhaps aware, viz. by such embellishment, and is neither that his Whig friends are alone quali- expanded nor illustrated by the genius fied, by their virtue and talent, to sus- of the Reviewer, All that is old is tain the character of a constitutional familiar and all that is new in his Opposition, without which the liber- speculation is worthless and unprofitties of England must perish; and of able. The abuse of party connexions course, that their continuance in their is the only real question, and this present condition of lofty and sullen abuse the author of the Review ha independence, is required for the salva- done his utmost to defend. tion of the country. It will be seen
He defends an indiscriminate oppoin the sequel how well he establishes sition to all the measures, good or bad, this momentous position.
which are proposed by another party, The author feels some difficulty in whose general principles and policy are explaining his motives for stirring the condemned; he maintains, that every question of party distinctions at the member of the opposing confederacy is present moment, and has performed bound to submit his private opinion the task of apologising so indifferent- on each particular question, to the will ly, that he might as well have confess- of the leader, or of the majority of the ed at once the true source of the invi- faction; he demands this corrupt subdious movement—the ambition of place mission upon the same principle upon and of power. The return of peace, which every citizen is bound to yield he says, has changed the relations- obedience to a law when once enacted, has alternately weakened and strength- although he may have disapproved of ened the distinctions among states- its introduction ; and, finally, he adds, men ; the spirit of the people the that when a measure in itself good power of public opinion-is beginning is proposed, a man “is liable to no to assert its ascendancy; and the in- charge of factious conduct, or of inference is, that a review of the State of consistency, if he object to it in the Parties is demanded. But the return hands of one class of statesmen, and of peace will not obliterate the remem- afterwards approve of it in those of brance of the war-of the principles another and better description."* Here developed, or the conduct pursued, is a bold and startling avowal indeed. during its progress
of the steady and What-are the ties of political conindignant resistance made by one great nexion irreconcilable to the purity of party to every measure intended to avert from the state a catastrophe that Edinburgh Review, No 59, p. 187. VOL. III.