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new connexions grown up which you species of representation which, as an must again destroy, new influence ac- element in the composition of Parliaquired which you must dispossess of ment, I never shall cease to defend. its authority, and that in these fruit In truth, Gentlemen, though the less attempts at unattainable purity question of Reform is made the preyou were working against the natural text of those persons, who have vexed current of human nature.
the country for some months, I verily I believe, therefore, that, contrive believe that there are very few even how you will, some such humble mo- of them who either give credit to their tives of action will find room to ope- own exaggerations, or care much about rate in the election of members of the improvements which they recomParliament. I think that it must and mend. Why, do we not see that the ought to be so, unless you mean to most violent of the Reformers of the exclude from the concerns of the na- day are aiming at seats in that assemtion all inert wealth, all inactive ta- bly, which, according to their own lent, the retired, the aged, and the in- theories, they should have left to walfirm, all who cannot face popular as- low in its own pollution, discountesemblies or engage in busy life; in nanced and unredeemed ? It is true, short, unless you have found some that if they had found their way there, expedient for disarming property of they might have endeavoured to bring influence, without (what I hope we us to a sense of our misdeeds, and to are not yet ripe for) the abolition of urge us to redeem our character by property itself.
some self-condemning ordinance; but I would have by choice if the would not the authority of their names, choice were yet to be made-I would as our associates, have more than have in the House of Commons great counterbalanced the force of their elovariety of interests, and I would have quence as our Reformers. them find their way there by a great But, Gentlemen, I am for the whole variety of rights of election; satisfied constitution. The liberty of the subthat uniformity of election would pro- ject as much depends on the mainteduce any thing but a just representa- nance of the constitutional prerogation of various interests. As to the tives of the Crown, on the acknowclose boroughs, I know that through ledgment of the legitimate power of them have found their way into the the other House of Parliament, as it House of Commons men whose talents does in upholding that supreme power have been an honour to their kind, (for such it is in one sense of the and whose names are interwoven with word, though not in that of the Revothe history of their country. I can- lution of 1648,) the power of the not think that system altogether purse which resides in the democrativicious which has produced such cal branch of the constitution. What. fruits. I cannot think that there ever beyond its just proportion was should be but one road into that as gained by one part, would be gained sembly, or that no man should be at the expense of the whole ; and the presumed fit for the deliberations of a balance is now, perhaps, as nearly senate, who has not had the nerves poised as human wisdom can adjust previously to face the storms of the it. I fear to touch that balance, the hustings.
disturbance of which must bring conI need not say, Gentlemen, that I fusion on the nation. am one of the last men to disparage Gentlemen, I trust there are few, the utility and dignity of popular very few, reasonable and enlightened elections. I have good cause to speak men ready to lend themselves to proof them in far different language.- jects of confusion. But I confess I But, among numberless other consi- very much wish, that all who are not derations which endear to me the fa- ready to do so would consider the illvours which I have received at your effect of any countenance given, pubhands, I confess it is one, that as your licly or by apparent implication, to representative I am enabled to speak those whom, in their heart and judge my genuine sentiments on this (as I ments, they despise. I remember that think it) vital question of Parliament- most excellent and able man, Mr ary Reform, without the imputation Wilberforce, once saying in the House of shrinking from popular canvass, or of Commons, that he “never believed of seeking shelter for myself in that an opposition really to wish mischief
to the country ; that they only wished avoid the fall? I fear they would at. just so much mischief as might drive tempt it in vain. The impulse once their opponents out, and place them- given, may be too impetuous to be conselves in their room." Now, Gentle- trolled, and intending only to change men, I cannot help thinking, that the guidance of the machine, they there are some persons tampering with may hurry it and themselves to irrethe question of Reform something in trievable destruction. the same spirit. They do not go so May every man who has a stake in far as the Reformers; they even state the country, whether from situation, irreconcileable differences; but to a from character, from wealth, from his certain extent they agree and even co- family, and from the hopes of his operate with them. They co-operate children,--may every man who has a with them in inflaming the public sense of the blessings for which he is feeling not only against the Govern- indebted to the form of Government ment, but against the support given under which he lives, see that the by Parliament to that Government, in time is come at which his decision the hope, no doubt, of attracting to must be taken, and, when once taken, themselves the popularity which is lost stedfastly acted upon-for or against to their opponents, and thus being the institutions of the British Moenabled to correct and retrieve the narchy. The time is come at which errors of a displaced administration. there is but that line of demarkation. Vain and hopeless task, to raise such a On which side of that line we, Genspirit and then to govern it! They tlemen, shall range ourselves, our may stimulate the steeds into fury, choice has long ago been made. In till the chariot is hurried to the brink acting upon that our common choice of a precipice ; but do they flatter with my best efforts and exertions, I themselves that they can then leap in, shall at once, faithfully represent your and, hurling the incompetent driver sentiments and satisfy my own judgfrom his seat, check the reins just in ment and conscience. time to turn from the precipice and
LETTERS OF A LIBERAL WHIG.
remark, and which I nevertheless feel From the neutral position which I unwilling to pass by without directing have ventured to assume, not as be your attention to it, were it only for tween conflicting principles (on which the purpose of shewing you that it has no man ought to be neuter) but as not escaped mine. The author does between contending factions, allow me not expressly say that he is himself to pursue a little farther the line I the wise man, “ par excellence,” who have adopted of reflection on the con- alone pursues his path without caring, duct of both. A distinguished poli- while all the rest of the party, which tical writer describes in a few words he has hitherto thought worthy of that the situation of men who, in a state denomination, are suddenly transformdistracted by party divisions, refuse ed into fools and madmen, exclaiming to go all lengths with those to whom against him for having deserted them. they generally adhere. « Ceci m'est He only leaves this conclusion to be arrivé plus d'une fois dans ma vie.- necessarily inferred from the premises ; Des hommes avec lesquels j'avois fait and yet, after all, it is the conclusion alliance parcequ'ils avoient raison, ont at which every man who expresses an cru que j'etais engagé par cette alliance opinion differing from others inust exà les soutenir même quand ils avoient pect his hearers to arrive-for, othertort. Le cas n'est pas rare en politi- wise, of what value is his opinion ? If que. Pendant quelque tems les sages he thinks himself wrong, it is not his et les insensés marchent ensemble. opinion which he expresses. If right, Il vient au moment oú les insensés it follows of necessity that he must s'elancent et crient à l'abandon quand think the others wrong-in plainer on ne les suit pas. Les sages conti- words, that to the extent at least of nuent leur route sans s'inquiéter."- the present question, he alone is “ le There is an air of modest humility in sage" the rest—" les fous” and “ les this passage, which you will doubtless insensés"--civil words, no doubt, but still very properly expressions of his that very abuse and misrepresentation true meaning. Thus, it is rather a are instruments of no poteney in their false modesty that leaves to be raised hands when opposed to similar weapons by implication, a construction which in the grasp of their antagonists. The necessarily follows from every man's world, which looks upon the parties declaring that such, or such, is his in and out of place with the same particular opinion. Still, in the pre- eyes that it contemplates two prize. sent refined state of society, it is far fighters on a stage, feels naturally inbetter that hard words should be dignant when that which, in point of avoided in every discussion ; and there- situation, has a great and overwhelmfore it is to be regretted that the wri. ing advantage, condescends, in additer above quoted did not add to the tion, to resort to the same instruments humility for which he is so conspicu- of annoyance which the other employs ous, a little forbearance, and substi- as his only means of defence and retute some milder epithets, by which to sistance. It is like a combat between characterise the fault of those who two swordsmen, of whom one is cased choose to proceed further than he does in complete armour, while the other is in the road to which he had, up to a naked. But I have a stronger objeccertain point, journeyed with them. tion to urge against this method of Of all shapes in which intemperance of ministerial warfare. In the hands of thought or language displays itself, opposition, exaggeration and mis-statethe most odious is that which it as ment, ridicule and calumny, are so far sumes when employed by men to the recognised instruments of party whom the world (whether justly or purposes as to have lost at least half unjustly) will always affix the stigma their effect, even with the multitude; of political apostacy, when it hears and no man I will not say no man of them reviling and insulting their for- sense only—but nobody whatever mer partizans and associates. I en now thinks the worse of a minister's tertain all possible indulgence for any talents because the Edinburgh Review honest change of opinions, and all calls him incapable, or more highly of possible respect for the honest account his opponents because the same journal of such change ; but the very con- represents that certain improvements sciousness of being subject to such in political knowledge, which are open mutability, ought to make all men to all the world, have by some unaccautious and moderate in their expres- countable fatality remained as exclusions regarding the opinions of others; sively their own property as if they and more especially, those who are not had been sealed up, and the use of only theoretically but experimentally them prohibited to every one else. But acquainted with this infirmity of hu- it is otherwise, when these sameengines man nature. Of the various grada- of fraud and contrivance are employed tions, therefore, of criminality, to under the broad imposing cover of which the vice of exaggeration is official or semi-official gravity. The subject, the highest and most enor. Whig, bespattered with government mous is the exaggeration of renegades dirt, becomes at once, in the eyes of and apostates- which terms, in their half the world, the identical monster popular sense, I take to include all they would represent him to be; and men who have publicly altered their as, unfortunately, there now exists a political creed, or separated themselves third party in the state, incomparably from their political associates. Next inore dangerous and more hostile to to that in flagitiousness, is the exaggera- the existence of both Whigs and tion of men in power, which I consider Tories, than either of those can be to as incomparably less excuseable than the other; and who are restrained, by that of Whigs and Reformers; both as no one scruple of honour or policy, by it is more mischievous in its effects, no one motive which can actuate the and as there is less temptation to the mind of a gentleman, and by no one commission of it. The party in principle that is seated in the breast of power, when once firinly seated, have a patriot, by whom the old and reguthe command of innumerable engines, lar opposition, so long as they retain and methods of self-support, infinitely the smallest portion of popular favour more efficient than the abuse and mis- or esteem, are beyond all comparison representation of their less fortunate more hated than the warmest and most rivals ; besides, that to the fair and violent among the supporters of gowell-judging part of the community, vernment, the consequence is, that,
thus assailed on both sides, they must, cussion, between the contending parSS a political party, soon cease to have ties which we denominate, (for want of any being; and that with their fall, more proper terms of distinction) Whig the old and well tried balance of the and Tory? Let us first calmly consider constitution will be destroyed, and the what is the actual situation of the liberties of the nation delivered over, country, and then, if we can persuade bound and fettered, to all the extre- ourselves that it is really such as to inities which the prevalence of despo- leave those who have its interests at tism or anarchy may inflict upon them. heart, sufficient leisure to devote I am quite convinced that this deplo themselves to this war of words, and rable erisis is not to be averted on the that they can devote themselves to it part of the Whigs, by the weak com, securely, there is no more to be said. promise of a single constitutional prin- But, if higher and more iminediate ciple in the way of concession to po- duties not only require their attention, palar clamour and insolence; and I but are of such a nature as to demand am equally certain, that it must be it entirely, what true Englishman incalculably accelerated by the system will persist for a moment longer in of abuse and recrimination so diligent. the useless, the more than useless, exly pursued by the government writers ercise ? The nation is no longer diagainst the remnant of a party, which, vided between Whig and Tory, or bethough politically opposed, is essen-tween Churchman and Dissenter, or tially united to them by one common between Protestant and Catholic; but interest against their more formidable between those of all parties who acand radical opponents. It is by knowledge an interest, and who claim measures of concession to and con- a right, in the preservation of the ciliation with all those of every class commonwealth, and those whose only and mode of opinion to whom the ark aim, secret or open, is to destroy it. of the constitution is yet properly the It is impossible that any man, whe. object of veneration and care, and not ther he be Whig or Tory, can be so by the proud and uncompromising blinded by the bigotry of faction, as spirit of injustice, which would con- not to be internally convinced, that connd all shades and diversities of it is as much the desire and the object doubt and dissent in one indiscrimi- of those of the contrary party, as it is nate charge of rebellion, that the state his own, to defend the real interests is now to be defended against the at- of the state against the enemies who tacks of those who are openly pledged are leagued together for its overthrow. and sworn to its subversion, and it is Then why any longer stoop to employ well said by the author whom I have that false and execrable jargon, the before cited, with feelings very different sole tendency of which, is to confound from those of entire approbation, the proudest and best established dis“Les amis aveugles des mesures vio- tinctions, and by levelling the barriers lentes tombent sans cesse dans la même of truth, to expose the constitution, erreur. C'est au despotisme qu'ils de- unarmed and naked, to every shaft mandent la reparation des maux que le which is aimed at its existence? Let despotisme a causés. Quand un état me ask,-setting aside all motives of est prêt a peri faute de liberté, ils ap- prudence and true political wisdompellent à leur secours plus de servitude whether, in common justice between encore, et c'est par un accroissement man and man, the Whigs are strictly d'arbitraire qu'ils croient apaiser le chargeable as a body, with all the besoin des garantiés. Mais le pouvoir warm and intemperate expressions, absolu n'est pas comme la lance d' with all the extravagant doctrines or Achille-il ne guerit point les blessures principles, to which the fury of the qu'il a faites-il les envenime et les moment may have given birth in cerrend incurables."
tain individuals of the party, any Now, if there is any truth in this more than these whose profession is observation, and I think that every that of attachment to the existing goday's political experience more and vernment, are deserving of having immore tends to confirm it, how does puted to them, in the mass, the exit apply to the habit of perpetual ao ploded chimera of the divine right of buse and altercation to which the kings, or the more dangerous notion public is condemned to listen, in the of the perfection of absolute monarform of sound argument and fair dis- chy, upon which many of their too zealous partizans appear ready to act, unreflecting part of the nation-of although they do not venture openly that nation which will not consent to to profess them? But, if the false become the mere blind tools and sim. imputation of matters of opinion be ple adherents of even the best admijustly reprehensible, how much more nistration-upon the hollow and danunpardonable is that of interested mo- gerous protection offered them by a tives, and corrupt designs and inten- set of unprincipled adventurers against tions? How, after the experience of both the conflicting parties, making no the last twenty or thirty years, it can scruple to bespatter them equally with still be asserted, by any person having the dirt which each, in its blindness, the smallest pretension to truth or imagined to be safely employed as the common honesty, (what, nevertheless instrument of attack upon the other? we find unblushingly repeated in every A general election is the fittest of page of every government journal, and all seasons to call forth in every breast often broadly insinuated, if not dis- which retains the smallest regard to tinctly promulgated as the true politi- truth and moderation of sentiment, cal creed, from every quarter of the observations of the nature of these Treasury Bench), that the sole object which I have now addressed to you. of the party in opposition, is to dis. On the more zealous and determined possess their rivals, and bring them. adherents of either party, I can bave selves into place and power, and how little hope that they are calculated to an assertion, so self-evidently false, and produce any effect; but if they should almost ridiculous, can actually obtain tend to preserve one candid and liberal credit, and pass current, with three mind from being merged in that vorfourths of the nation, is, I think, tex of faction, which threatens to swalamong the most inexplicable pheno- low up all that remains of true honesmena of modern politics. Yet the ty and sobriety in the nation, I shall mischief of such a persuasion is as be satisfied to bear all the rest of my extensive as its absurdity should seem life, the reproach which Mr Hobto be palpable. Great as the prepon- house-(not with much apparent jusderance of the government scale now tice or felicity,) the other day bestowis, and long has been in the opinions ed upon his less popular rival at Coof the country at large, yet the time vent-Garden, and be classed, together is not quite arrived-(and I hope to with him, among those God it never will arrive-) for repos- “ Vile neutrals, who in caution's middle ing a blind and unlimited confidence steering, in any ministry, however popular and Are neither fish, nor flesh, nor good red however virtuous. With all the pre- herring." vailing bias in favour of the present The “ Golden Mean," which we ministers, the people still require were taught to venerate in our nur(and long may they continue to de- series—the “Aurea Mediocritas," of mand the constitutional check and which we read at school, and which security of a regular opposition. But, was inculcated by Horace as the best if that necessary and honourable part standard to regulate the lives and acof our state establishment, whose legi- tions of more than school-boys, has, timate office it is to watch the conduct since the new light of modern philoof ministers, to weigh and investigate, sophy has visited us, (deservedly, I and (for the purpose of their being the suppose,) been exploded and rejected. more scrupulously weighed and inves- Yet, “ in the golden days of good tigated) even frequently to oppose and Queen Bess," it was still regarded as impede, their minutest proceedings, - the golden rule of practice; and the if the regular and constitutional oppo- most moral poet of that glorious age sition be vilified and calumniated, has, in his most moral and divine their principles misrepresented, and poem, devoted one entire canto to the their intentions falsified, what is the celebration of it. I am, Sir, yours, self-evident and immediate conse- &c. METRODORUS. quence? What ?-but to throw the