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him from aspiring to a share in the greatest honour of the Gren; ville administration. As a member of that cabinet he might have earned some portion of the fame so justly due to its latest and its noblest work. If he had exercised no commanding talents -if he had displayed no dazzling eloquence-if he had shown neither zeal nor enthusiasm in the most disinterested triumph of modern philanthropy—he might yet have come in among the
lukewarm and secondary defenders of the abolition of the SlaveTrade. But even this cheap and easily acquired fame he was contented to forego. The Grenville ministry scotched the worst horrors of slavery by crushing the African slave-trade. Sidmouth had the ill-timed hardihood to oppose, on this occasion, the measure of the government of which he was a member. He had often before grieved Wilberforce by his moderate' and 'prac
tical' obstruetions ; now, in the moment of triumph, he shocked and saddened him by 'exceeding his own precedent! The new ministry came in on a No Popery' cry: and its com
: position was worthy of its origin. The Duke of Portland, an old man, feeble in body, and more feeble in mind, was at its head. Illness had reduced him to that depressed and nervous state in which he was obliged to call in laudanum to his relief. In his best days he had been good for little; and now he was good for less. He had high notions of family interest, party combinations, and the royal pleasure. Of government, as a science, he knew just about as much as the Duke of Newcastle or Lord Bute. When he was in difficulty—which was every day-he would send to Lord Malmesbury for advice; but, what with his pains, his opiates, and his habits of mind, he was generally unable to avail himself of it, when it was given. Such was the head of the government. The others, with one exception, were of the same parliamentary calibre, and the same political reputation. Lords Castlereagh and Hawkesbury were the secretaries for the Foreign and Home Departments; the official pretensions of the one lay principally in his force of character; of the other in his private virtues. Eldon was their Chancellor, strong only in law and scruples; and Perceval their Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose administrative ability, logical acuteness and promptness, were not yet as well known as his piety and decorum. Places of one kind or another, of course, were found for the Chathams, Camdens, and Roses. In such a circle one misses Sidmouth; but the heavens, it is said, cannot hold two suns : Canning had taken office—and Sidmouth kept aloof.
However, Sidmouth in opposition was very like Sidmouth in office-at issue with his former colleagues and his former self. In one point he was consistent: he took the King's view of every question when he knew what that view was ; he took the King's side in every debate in which there could be said to be a King's side. On the very first debate that took place, he voted with the ministry against his recent colleagues, and for the King. Thus early do we find him preventing the defeat of the existing, and the return of the late, administration. Then, forgetting that his own military measures had been considered the weakest of their time, he took upon himself to censure those of governmont for their inefficiency. His next demonstration was equally sensible and consistent. He had been chief minister of the crown at the date of the first battle of Copenhagen, in 1801 ; was responsible for it, and, of course, had to defend it; yet, six years afterwards, when the bombardment of Copenhagen was repeated, under circumstances of equal pressure, he had the assurance to denounce it. Whatever might be the violation of the law of nations, it was the same in both cases. But Canning, the principal adviser on this last occasion, had acted neither on impulse nor in ignorance. The ministry had obtained possession of the contents of the secret article in the treaty of Tilsit. Lord Sidmouth, who knew nothing at the time of the secret information which ministers had thus received, and the sources of which they were then anxious to conceal, railed against their proceedings as violent, precipitate, and unjust. The mysteries of that age bave been since cleared up, and the motives of its leading statesmen published to the world : under these circumstances it would have been wiser in the Dean of Norwich not to have revived the discussion.
The growing infirmities of the Duke of Portland were terminated by his death in the year 1809. Mr Perceval, who had for some time been the real, now became the acknowledged head of the government. His first act was to make overtures to Lords Grey and Grenville: but the Protestantism of the minister repelled the liberality of the two advocates of emancipation. His next move was one that savoured more of policy than of compliment. It was to open office to Lord Sidmouth's friends, but, in compliance with the prejudices of Canning, to exclude Lord Sidmouth himself. They at once refused to accept terms so injurious to the honour of their chief, and remained, therefore, in opposition. But with Lord Sidmouth this was of course a nominal position, in which he could display neither the activity nor the consistency of a parliamentary leader. He opposed Government on some questions, but his own party upon more. He voted with ministers against Lord Grenville's amendment, but with the opposition against the Walcheren expedition. At the same time, it is hard to understand how he ever ven
tared to vote against ministers at all. He looked on the King's government as a function of the King's prerogative; and attributed to it something of the inviolability which belongs to the royal person. To use the language of his biographer, “his principles of loyalty did not admit of his ever engaging in any organised system of opposition. In fact, there is every reason for supposing, that he regarded anything like independent resistance to the pleasure of the court as very wrong, if not very wicked. Like Eldon, he was always anxious to serve the best ‘of Kings. His kindred propensity to office was ere long indulged. In the spring of 1812, he returned, after five years of unofficial life, to the presidency of the council; and the first important occasion on which his assistance was required, was in the investigation consequent on the murder of the minister to whom he had allied himself. Perceval's death changed the personnel, not the politics of the cabinet. The old King was now politically dead. Lord Liverpool—the Lord Hawkesbury of former days-a man after Sidmouth's own heart-thoroughly respectable, who offended no man by the appearance even of any thing superior to the very level of routine, became First Lord of the Treasury; and Sidmouth took the seals of the Home Department.
This was the ultimate phase of his political career; but it was not the most favourable to his reputation. The ten years during which he was Home Secretary, were years of domestic tribulation, distress, and discontent. They required a man of firmness and fortitude; but they still more required a man of benevolent and comprehensive understanding. Sidmouth wanted the qualities which would have enabled a real statesman, not only to grapple with the urgent difficulties of the times, but also to trace them to their origin-to analyse the elements of national grievances—to master the pathology of national disaffection—and to prescribe the appropriate remedy to each symptom of political disease. But Sidmouth belied his nickname. His doctoring' was empirical, not scientific: the dignified quackery of summary, yet formal practice—not the divination of legislative genius, which is nothing else than a knowledge of human nature, and of the actual condition of the society which it presumes to govern.
He was hardly in office before desperate outrages broke out in the manufacturing districts. The Orders in Council, want of employment, dear bread, and war-taxes, were producing their natural effects on an ignorant, half starved, and worse educated population. Machinery was broken, masters were assaulted, and witnesses terrified by secret confederations organised throughout the country. The northern counties were put under miliVOL, LXXXVI. NO. CLXXIII.
tary protection. A special commission was issued ; some fourteen men were hung. So far, rigour was exercised; and, perhaps, this kind of rigour was necessary. But, unfortunately, it was the only sort of prescription which Sidmouth recognised. He drove in the disease ; which broke out afterwards with greater violence; to be again repelled, and again invigorated by a repetition of the same practice. He was content with discharging this part of his executive duty; and never troubled himself to think that a statesman's sphere includes preventive and remedial measures. He went to his grave, without suspecting that he had left anything undone.
Meantime, his ecclesiastical friends kept dinning into his ears the necessity of «stablishing churches and schools; and he admitted the wisdom of their advice. We, too, are friends to schools and churches. But, taken by themselves, sermons and catechisms will never supersede policemen and dragoons. Means must be found of softening popular discontent by popular concessions, of smoothing the angry frown of authority into the placid smile of temperate conciliation, and of affording a ready ear to the prayers of helpless, reckless, unrepresented multitudes. But these are means, which were never dreamed of in his philosophy. He thus, without malignitywithout cruelty-without any taint of despotism in his character–became the instrument of cruelty, tyranny, and injustice.
The war, once gloomy, disastrous, and dishonourable, had been cheered and brightened by wonderful successes. Talavera, Salamanca, Vittoria, followed one another, with accumulated proofs of a prowess, of which the nation had been hitherto unconscious. We had become-after twenty years of costly experiments and costly failures--a military people. The courage of the country had never failed; now, however, desperate stubbornness bad grown into hopeful confidence. But the exertions to which we had been strained were painfully felt in every hamlet and industrial haunt throughout Great Britain. The many, whose patriotism naturally rises and falls with their supply of animal comforts, found that the trophies .of remote victories, and the acclamations of applauding multitudes, gave neither food to the hungry nor raiment to the naked. When at last a British army had marched from Toulouse to Paris, the working people of London, Huddersfield, and Manchester, were suffering a distress greater than captivity. The moment of our foreign glory and our domestic shame coincided. Again, England was in a state of partial insurrection. Again, the militia were embodied. Again, seditious pamphlets and inflammatory speeches spread fear, tumult, and discontent: And Sidmouth, the Home Secretary, was just as unfit to deal with this crisis as Adding
ton, the Prime Minister, had been to take the helm in the name of the English people. He neither understood the temper of that people, nor sympathised with their sufferings. Peace had not brought plenty. On the contrary, one of the first objects of the Government in 1815 was to fix the price of corn; that is, to fix the highest possible price! It seems almost like reading some antediluvian record to peruse the letters which passed at this time between Lord Sidmouth and his friends and to find them turning the victory of Waterloo and the pacification of Europe into an occasion for making bread dear. Mr Bond was not quite certain whether 76s. or 80s. should be the price at which “foreign competition’ should be allowed to interfere. Lord Sidmouth's apprehension and conviction' was, that 80s. was 'not sufficient to give that confidence to the corn-grower “which is essential to the object of the bill. Such were the maxims gravely promulgated by high functionaries of Government in the year of our Lord 1815. They believed first, that a high price of corn was a desirable thing; and next, they held that it was always attainable through an act of Parliament. Yet, hold
. ing, believing, and professing these doctrines, they were surprised that the mass of the people was discontented, sullen, and vindictive! A reduction of price was pronounced hazardous,' while hungry artisans were murmuring against high prices. An influx of corn was pronounced a calamity, while thousands were in want of daily bread!
The consequences were such as the lowest reader of the lowest newspaper would, at present, understand, expect, and justify; but such as Lord Sidmouth could only prose over—and punish. From 1815, to the day on which he retired from office, he was engaged in one continual conflict with his countrymen. Dr Pellew calls this period an extended campaign between • lawless aggression on the one side, and the firm and tem‘ perate exercise of constitutional authority on the other. That there was occasional lawlessness on the side of the people, cannot be denied. But that they were generally or mainly lawless, or that their designs were dangerous, is no more true than that they were met by the firm and temperate exercise of constitu
tional authority. There were in these times, as there are at all times, men ready to use the ignorance and passions of their fellows as tools for their own ambition. But the multitudes who followed Hunt, or shouted for Cobbett, were neither radically disloyal, nor desperately malignant. Their feelings and opinions have been since recorded by some of their own party, with every semblance of reality and truth. They had no designs on the Throne, the Peerage, or the Church. They were neither levellers