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away, shall be acted over again on British soil. London shall behold the excesses at which Paris shuddered. Some future George shall meet the untimely fate of Louis the Sixteenth. A political convulsion, like the earthquake which shook Lisbon to the ground, shall engulf all that Englisbmen hold most dear. The crown and the peerage shall be alike trampled under foot by an infuriate populace. Such are the views with regard to the fate of the British empire, which are becoming somewhat fashionable in a certain quarter, and which, among politicians of the Democratic school, seem to find especial favor and currency. That these fears are groundless, it shall be our object to show, and that England may yet survive the storms of centuries, perhaps when our own glorious Union is known only in the traditions of the past.
Her insular position, her “wooden walls,” her Saxon spirit, present an impregnable barrier against invasion, and afford demonstrative evidence that England can never be conquered. Her danger, if danger she has to fear, is not from without, but from within. Here she may be endangered from two causes-either by the inordinate extension of the royal prerogative, or by having all her conservative institutions broken down, and her limited monarchy converted into a raging democracy. From the first of these influences she has little cause for dread. Compared with most of the European kingdoms, her standing army is small, and it is mostly on service in her distant colonies. The sinews of her strength lie in her navy, a species of force impotent in the service of tyranny, although it has made her queen of the seas and inistress of both oceans. The sovereign, therefore, has it not in his power to overawe either people or parliament by the exhibition of an armed force ; while the latter, by refusing to grant supplies, may compel him to submission. But, more than all, the great struggles by which English liberty was won, must remain forever a warning to tyrants. Magna Charta, extorted from the unwilling John, the execution of Charles I, the revolution of 1688, the lives of a Hampden, a Cromwell, and a Vane, all prove that English liberty is placed on too secure a basis to be thus shaken by the crown. The British constitution, therefore, impregnable at every other point, will fall, if fall it must, by the parricidal act of British subjects. A Democracy must rise upon the smoking and blood-stained ruins of time-honored institutions and longcherished principles. Samson-like, the English people must tear away the pillars of the state, and bring the same destruction on themselves which they draw down on king and parliament. Need we fear that Englishmen will thus in a single day demolish that vast fabric which their ancestors have been centuries in erecting,—that they will blot out the sun from their political heavens, and fill its place with the strange luminary of a lawless democracy? The people of England are eminently conservative. They have little of that enthusiasm, that fiery energy-they have none of that love of change, we had almost said, fickleness, which are so highly characteristic of our own people. Those evils arising from the instability of legislation and rotation in office, from perpetual changes in policy and laws, under which we groan, are scarcely felt or known in the mother-country. From the
restrictions imposed upon the right of suffrage, likewise, the masses of their population are excluded from the ballot-box, and having no opportunity of participating in the affairs of government, no share in the election of their rulers, they have little of that party-spirit which has here risen to such an alarming height. A general election does not there, as here, shake the kingdom from the Orkneys to the Isle of Wight; but after producing something of a tempest in the upper regions of the social atmosphere, it passes away without exciting a single hope or fear in the bosoms of the lower orders. The staid and sober Englishman, therefore, has nothing of that excitability which makes our own countrymen, like the phosphoric match, ready to start into a flame at the slightest friction. Those exciting causes, which in America would well-nigh breed a rebellion, in Great Britain would scarcely draw forth an address to the throne. The Englishman cheerfully bears a load of taxation, which the American would not sustain for an instant; he endures the galling yoke of caste and the factitious distinction of classes almost without a murmur; he suffers the inequality of repre. sentation and the deprivation of his civil rights with unshaken loyalty ; and under all these burdens, in his horror of republicanism, he felicitates himself upon his happy destiny.
Another revolution like that which, half a century since, desolated France, no country will probably ever again behold. That awful convulsion so shocked and horrified the world, as effectually to prevent its own recurrence. Men had rather endure the worst tyranny, than to have the fountains of the great deep of society broken up, and all they hold most sacred overwhelmed by the deluge of a second French revolution. But if any nation were ever insane enough to reënact these horrors, these bloody scenes never could be acted over again upon the soil of England. The English people never could, never can, do such violence to that Saxon spirit which they have inherited from their forefathers. They have not a particle of that visionary character which the philosophy of Voltaire and Rousseau has infused into French liberty, French modes of thought, and a Frenchman's idea of government. The republic of the French jacobins was a distorted, misshapen imitation of the ancient commonwealths, with all of their defects and few of their excellences. It was nearly the embodiment of that idea of the ancient governments, which would be formed by a school-boy from the reading of Plutarch. But English liberty has in it something peculiarly its own. 'Tis no servile imitation of antiquity, but, like the Saxon portion of our mother-tongue, it is derived from the purer fountain of its own individuality. The British constitution bespeaks its purely Saxon origin in its every line and feature. "Tis no mongrel offspring of antiquated failures, no adopted foundling of the past, no revival of obsolete theories dug from the ruins of Grecian and Roman greatness ; but born on English soil, based upon the deepest principles of the English character, and enthroned in the English heart.
It would seem that during the reign of Charles the First, if ever, so great a political convulsion was to be anticipated. Amid the bigotry of fanatical sects raging for supremacy, amid the perjuries and treasons of the perfidious Charles, amid the festering abuses which were spreading mortification through the body politic,—then, if ever, was England to behold her plains deluged in the blood of her children, and the guillotine glutted with its victims, after the true Parisian mode. But what was the issue? The nation rose in its strength, and after a comparatively bloodless civil war, dethroned the tyrant, and his single life restored tranquillity. All these exciting causes and aggravated abuses scarcely sufficed to produce a revolution at that day; they can never recur again in half their former force. And shall that constitution which has survived the storms of thirteen centuries be prostrated now? The analogy of history, the annals of the past, the Anglo-Saxon character, forbid it.
Her national debt has now become one of the main pillars of the state. Her aristocracy, from the turbulent barons of the reign of John, have become an imperial guard around the throne. The moneyed interest, the middle classes, all who have aught to lose by revolution, are ardent in the support of the constitution as it is. Ages have hallowed it in the memory of Englishmen. Holy associations cluster around every section of the great charter of their liberties, and invest it with a historic grandeur. Every line kindles in the English heart a fire of patriotism, and tells of noble deeds and mighty names. Its fundamental privileges are indissolubly connected with the memory of the illustrious dead, who gave their lives to secure them. Its cardinal principles are consecrated by the great struggles through which it was attained. It has been baptized in the blood of the martyrs of civil liberty. It has been the progressive work of successive generations, to which age after age has brought its votive offering of toil and suffering and tears. English history is but the protracted record of its development; English liberty is but another name for the blessings it bestows. Tell us not, then, that Britons will ever be found base enough to destroy this, their precious birthright,—that they will ever dishonor the memory of their ancestors by hastening the downfall of their glorious constitution, or even by exhibiting too slight an appreciation of its value. In reference to it, “ Esto perpetua” is their pious prayer; may it be ours.
Which come, and die—so quick-80 bright-
The breeze may blow, the waves may roll,
For as upon the crumbling pile
That little consecrated ground,
So would our joyous hours depart,
If there's a music can control
Whose magic chords have power to bare
As o'er the cold and icy lake
WILSON'S “CITY OF THE PLAGUE.”
ENTHUSIASM, gentle reader, is one of those subtle things which we trace by suspicion-whose presence is detected by the tinge (couleur de rose, in this case, perhaps) that dwells, more or less hidden, wherever it is found : and in sooth, this particular agent of which we speak is a “delicate and most delectable monster," when it lightens up our hopes or joys, and chases the light cloud of sadness from the brilliant vista of youth's future. To those with whom this spirit dwells, there are smiles and energies of which cold philosophy has never dreamed: their hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, and aspirations—all grow under its fostering hand, till the dark and drowsy intellect becomes at once alive, as it were, and populous ; and new “agents and ministers” Alit busily through the heart's chambers.
The influence of enthusiasm was never, perhaps, more manifest than in the character of Prof. Wilson ; even the sports of his boy. hood, or more sturdy youth, were marked by the presence of this spirit. All that was bold and daring, grand or exciting, his hungry energy sought and seized on; notorious throughout his life, as the best leaper, swimmer, and angler in the nation, he accounted for his own success by the intense love he bore these sports. Indeed, in whatever he undertook, be it prose or poetry, an act of kindness, or biting, burning sarcasm, a deer-hunt, or a flirtation with the Muses, he hurries not only himself but his readers from page to page with a thirsty and insatiable delight--an almost intoxicating eagerness, that tires not, till the failing light or the aching eye demands a pause, and you wake as from a dream. It is a universal spirit of poetry, whether with or without the form; and though he write Hogg's broad Scotch, or the opium-eater's involved English, you feel (despite his admirable