« AnteriorContinuar »
Revolution produced was the final establish- settled on him taxes estimated to produce ment of the Presbyterian Kirk in Scotland. £1,200,000 a year. This they thought suffiWe shall not now inquire whether the Episco- cient, as they allowed nothing for a standing pal or the Calvinistic form of church govern- army in time of peace. At the time of Charles's ment be more agreeable to primitive practice. Jeath, the annual produce of these taxes cer. Far be it from us to disturb with our doubts ! tainly exceeded a million and a half; and the the repose of an Oxonian Bachelor of Divinity, i king who, during the years which immediately who conceives that the English prelates, with followed his accession, was perpetually in distheir baronies and palaces, their purple and tress, and perpetually asking his Parliaments their fine linen, their mitred carriages and for money, was at last able to keep a considertheir sumptuous tables, are the true successors able body of regular troops without any as. and exact resemblances of those ancient bish-sistance from the House of Commons. If his ops who lived by catching fish and mending reign had been as long as that of George the tents. We only say that the Scotch, doubtless Third, he would probably before the close of from their own inveterate stupidity and malice, it have been in the annual receipt of several were not Episcopalians; that they could not millions over and above what the ordinary exbe made Episcopalians; that the whole power penses of the state required; and of those milof government had been in vain employed for lions he would have been as absolutely master the purpose of converting them; that the full-as the king now is of the sum allowed for his est instruction on the mysterious questions of privy-purse. He might have spent them in the Apostolical succession, and the imposition luxury, in corruption, in paying troops to over. of hands, had been imparted to them by the awe his people, or in carrying into effect wild very logical process of putting the legs of the schemes of foreign conquest. The authors of students into wooden boots, and driving two or the Revolution applied a remedy to this great more wedges belween their knees; that a abuse. They setiled on the king, not the fluccourse of divinity lectures, of the most edify-tuating produce of certain fixed taxes, but a ing kind, had been given in the Grass-market fixed sum sufficient for the support of his own of Edinburgh; yet that, in spite of all the exer- royal state. They established it as a rule, that tions of those great theological professors, Lau- all the expenses of the army, the navy, and the derdale and Dundee, the Covenanters were as ordnance, should be brought annually under obstinate as ever. The contest between the the review of the House of Commons, and that Scotch nation and the Anglican Church had every sum voted should be applied to the serproduced near thirty years of the most fright-vice specified in the vote. The direct effect of ful misgovernment ever seen in any part of this change was important. The indirect efGreat Britain. If the Revolution had pro- fect has been more important still. From that duced no other effect than that of freeing the time the House of Commons has been realy Scotch from the yoke of an establishment the paramount power in the state. It has, in which they detested, and giving them one to truth, appointed and removed ministers, de. which they were attached, it would have been clared war, and concluded peace. No combi. one of the happiest events in our history. nation of the king and the Lords has ever been
The third great benefit which the country able to effect any thing against the Lower derived from the Revolution was the alteration House, backed by its constituents. Three or in the mode of granting the supplies. It had four times, indeed, the sovereign has been able been the practice to settle on every prince, at to break the force of an opposition, by dissolvthe commencement of his reign, the produce ing the Parliament. But if that experiment of certain taxes, which, it was supposed, would should fail, if the people should be of the same yield a sum sufficient to defray the ordinary mind with their representatives — he would expenses of government. The distribution of clearly have no course left but to yield, to abthe revenue was left wholly to the sovereign. dicate, or to fight. He might be forced by war, or by his own pro- The next great blessing which we owe to fusion, to ask for an extraordinary grant. But, the Revolution, is the purification of the ad. if his policy were economical and pacific, he ministration of justice in political cases. Ol might reign many years without once being the importance of this change, no person can under the necessity of summoning his Parlia- judge who is not well acquainted with the earment, or of taking their advice when he had lier volumes of the State Trials. Those vosummoned them. This was not all. The na-lumes are, we do not hesitate to say, the most tural tendency of every society, in which pro- frightful record of baseness and depravity that perty enjoys tolerable security, is to increase is extant in the world. Our haired is altoin wealth. With the national wealth, the pro- gether turned away from the crimes and the duce of the customs, the excise, and the post-criminals, and directed against the law and its office, would of course increase; and thus it ministers. We see villanies as black as ever might well happen, that taxes which, at the were imputed to any prisoner at any bar, daily beginning of a long reign, were barely suffi- commitied on the bench and in the jury-box. cient to support a frugal government in time The worst of the bad acts which brought dis. of peace, might, before the end of that reign, credit on the old Parliaments of France,-the enable the sovereign to imitate the extrava- condemnation of Lally, for example, or even gance of Nero or Heliogabalus,—to raise great that of Calas,-may seem praiseworthy when armies—to carry on expensive wars. Some- compared with those which follow each other thing of this sort had actually happened under in endless succession, as we turn over that Charles the Second, though his reign lasted huge chronicle of the shame of England. The only twenty-five years. His first Parliament magistrates of Paris and Toulouse were blind
ed by prejudice, passion, or bigotry. But the the course adopted by Sir William Temple, by abandoned judges of our own country com- Evelyn, and by many other men, who were, mitted murder with their eyes open. The in every respect, admirably qualified to serve cause of this is plain. In France there was the state. On the other hand, those resolute no constitutional opposition. If a man held and enterprising spirits who put their heads language offensive to the government, he was and lands to hazard in the game of politics, at once sent to the Bastile or to Vincennes. naturally acquired, from the habit of playing But in England, at least after the days of the for so deep a stake, a reckless and desperate Long Parliament, the king could not, by a mere turn of mind. It was, we seriously believe, as act of his prerogative, rid himself of a trouble safe to be a highwayman as to be a distinsome politician. He was forced to remove guished leader of Opposition. This may serve those who thwarted him by means of perjured to explain, and in some degree to excuse, the witnesses, packed juries, and corrupt, hard- violence with which the factions of that age hearted, brow-beating judges. The Opposition are justly reproached. They were fighting, naturally retaliated whenever they had the not for office, but for life. If they reposed for upper hand. Every time that the power passed a moment from the work of agitation, if they from one party to the other, took place a pro- suffered the public excitement to flag, they scription and a massacre, thinly disguised were lost men. Hume, in describing this stale under the forms of judicial procedure. The of things, has employed an image which seems tribunals ought to be sacred places of refuge, hardly to suit the general simplicity of his where, in all the vicissitudes of public affairs, style, but which is by no means too strong for the innocent of all parties may find shelter. the occasion. “ Thus," says he, “ the two par. They were, before the Revolution, an unclean ties, actuated by mutual rage, but cooped up public shambles, to which each party in its within the narrow limits of the law, levelled turn dragged its opponents, and where each with poisoned daggers the most deadly blows found the same venal and ferocious butchers against each other's breast, and buried in waiting for its custom. Papist or Protestant, their factious divisions all regard to truth, hoTory or Whig, Priest or Alderman, all was nour, and humanity." one to those greedy and savage natures, pro- From this terrible evil the Revolution set us vided only there was money to earn and blood free. The law which secured to the judges to shed.
their seats during life or good behaviour did Of course, these worthless judges soon something. The law subsequently passed for created around them, as was natural, a breed regulating trials in cases of treason did mach of informers more wicked, if possible,
The provisions of that law show, inthemselves. The trial by jury afforded little deed, very little legislative skill. It is not or no protection to the innocent. The juries framed on the principle of securing the innowere nominated by the sheriffs. The sheriffscent, but on the principle of giving a great were in most parts of England nominated by chance of escape to the accused, whether inthe crown. In London, the great scene of nocent or guilty. This, however, is decidedly political contention, those officers were chosen a fault on the right side. The evil produced by the people. The fiercest parliamentary by the occasional escape of a bad citizen is election of our time will give but a faint notion not to be compared with the evils of that Reign of the storm which raged in the city on the day of Terror, for such it was, which preceded the when two infuriated parties, each bearing its Revolution. Since the passing of this law, badge, met to select the men in whose hands scarcely one single person has suffered death were to be the issues of life and death for the in England as a traitor, who had not been concoming year. On that day nobles of the high. victed on overwhelming evidence, to the satisest descent did not think it beneath them 10 faction of all parties, of a really great crime canvass and marshal the livery, to head the against the state. Attempts have been made procession, and to watch the poll. On that in times of great excitement, to bring in perday, the great chiefs of parties waited in an sons guilty of high treason for acts which, agony of suspense for the messenger who was though sometimes highly blamable, did not to bring from Guildhall the news whether their necessarily imply a design of altering the go. lives and estates were, for the next twelve vernment by physical force. All those attempts months, to be at the mercy of a friend or of a have failed. For a hundred and forty years foe. In 1681, Whig sheriffs were chosen, and no statesman, while engaged in constitutional Shaftesbury defied the whole power of the go- opposition to a government, has had the axe rernment. In 1682, the sheriffs were Tories, before his eyes. The smallest minorities strug. Shaftesbury fled to Holland. The other chiefs gling against the most powerful majorities in of the party broke up their councils, and re- the most agitated times, have felt themselves tired in haste to their country-seats. Sydney perfectly secure. Pulteney and Fox were the on the scaffold told those sheriffs that his blood iwo most distinguished leaders of Opposition was on their heads Neither of them could since the Revolution. Both were personally deny the charge, and one of them wept with obnoxious to the court. But the utmost harın shame and remorse.
that the utmost anger of the court could do to Thus every man who then meddled with them, was to strike off the “Right Honourable" pablic affairs took nis life in his hand. The from before their names. consequence was, that men of gentle natures But of all ihe reforms produced by the Reo stood aloof from contests in which they could volution, the most important was the full esta. not engage without hazarding their own necks blishment of the liberty of unlicensed printing. and the fortunes of their children. This was The censorship, which, un some form or
other had existed, with rare and short intermis- which has generally been most disposed to sions, under every government, monarchical magnify the prerogative, a great change took or republican, from the time of Henry VIII. place. Bishopric after bishopric, and deanery downwards, expired, and has never since been after deanery, were bestowed on Whigs and renewed.
Latitudinarians. The consequence was, that We are aware that the great improvements Whigism and Latitudinarianism were prowhich we have recapitulated were, in many fessed by the ablest and most aspiring churchrespects, imperfectly and unskilfully executed. men. The authors of those improvements sometimes, Hume has complained bitterly of this at the while they removed or mitigated a great prac- close of his history. “The Whig party," says tical evil, continued to recognise the erroneous he, "for a course of near seventy years, has principle from which that evil had sprung. almost without interruption enjoyed the whole Sometimes, when they had adopted a sound authority of government, and no honours or principle, they shrank from following it to all offices could be obtained but by their countethe conclusions to which it would have led nance and protection. But this event, which in them. Sometimes they failed to perceive that some particulars has been advantageous to the the remedies which they applied to one disease state, has proved destructive to the truth of of the state were certain to generate another history, and has established many gross false. disease, and to render another remedy neces- hoods, which it is unaccountable how any sary. Their knowledgo was inferior to ours; civilized nation could have embraced with renor were they always able to act up to their gard to its domestic occurrences. Composiknowledge. T pressure of circumstances, tions the most despicable, both for style and the necessity of compromising differences of matter” (in a note he instances Locke, Sydney, opinion, the power and violence of the party Hoadley, and Rapin)“ have been extolled and which was altogether hostile to the new setile- propagated and read as if they had equalled the ment, must be taken into the account. When most celebrated remains of antiquity. And these things are fairly weighed, there will, we forgetting that a regard to liberty, though a think, be little difference of opinion among laudable passion, ought commonly to be subliberal and right-minded men as to the real servient to a reverence for established govern. value of what the great events of 1688 did for ment, the prevailing faction has celebrated this country.
only the partisans of the former.” We will We have recounted what appear to us the not here enter into an argument about the most important of those changes which the merit of Rapin's history, or Locke's political Revolution produced in our laws. The changes speculations. We call Hume merely as eviwhich it produced in our laws, however, were dence to a fact well known to all reading men, not more important than the change which it that the literature patronised by the English indirectly produced in the public mind. The court and the English ministry, during the Whig party had, during seventy years, an first half of the eighteenth century, was of that almost uninterrupted possession of power. It kind which courtiers and min sters generally had always been the fundamental doctrine of do all in their power to discountenance, and that party, that power is a trust for the people; tended to inspire zeal for the liberties of the that it is given to magistrates, not for their people rather than respect for the authority of own, but for the public advantage; that, where the government. it is abused by magistrates, even by the highest There was still a very strong Tory party in of all, it may lawfully be withdrawn. It is England. But that party was in opposition. perfectly true, that the Whigs were not more Many of its members still held the doctrine of exempt than other men from the vices and in- passive obedience. But they did not admit firmities of our nature, and that, when they had that the existing dynasty had any claim to such power, they sometimes abused it. But still obedience. They condemned resistance. But they stood firm to their theory. The theory by resistance they meant the keeping out of was the badge of their party. It was some- James III., and not the turning out of George II. thing more. It was the foundation on which No Radical of our times could grumble more rested the power of the houses of Nassau and at the expenses of the royal household, could Brunswick. Thus, there was a government exert himself more strenuously to reduce the interested in propagating a class of opinions military establishment, could oppose with more which most governments are interested in dis- earnestness every proposition for arming the couraging,-a government which looked with executive with extraordinary powers, or could complacency on all speculations tending to pour more unmitigated abuse on placemen and democracy, and with extreme aversion on all courtiers. If a writer were now, in a massive speculations favourable to arbitrary power. Dictionary, to define a Pensioner as a traitor There was a king who decidedly preferred a and a slave, the Excise as a hateful tax, the republican to a believer in the divine right of Commissioners of the excise as wretches,-if kings; who considered every attempt to exalt he were to write a satire full of reflections on his prerogative as an attack on his title; and men who receive “the price of boroughs and who reserved all his favours for those who of souls,” who “explain their country's dear declaimed on the natural equality of men and bought rights away," or the popular origin of government. This was
“whom pensions can incite the state of things from the Revolution till the
To vote a patriot black, a courtier white," death of George II. The effect was what might have been expected. Even in that professionwe shouid set him down for something mor VOL. III.-40
democratic than a Whig. Yet this was the improvement had taken place. We are no language which Johnson, the most bigoted of admirers of the political doctrines laid down Tories and High Churchmen, held under the in Blackstone's Commentaries. But if we conadministration of Walpole and Pelham. sider that those Commentaries were read with
Thus doctrines favourable to public liberty great applause in the very schools where, were inculcated alike by those who were in within the memory of some persons then :iving, power, and by those who were in opposition. books had been publicly burned by order of the It was by means of these doctrines alone University of Oxford, for containing the “damnthat the former could prove that they had a able doctrine," that the English monarchy is king de jure. The servile theories of the latter limited and mixed, we cannot deny that a saludid not prevent them from offering every mo- tary change had taken place. “The Jesuits," lestation to one whom_they considered as says Pascal, in the last of his incomparable merely a king de facto. The attachment of the letters, “have obtained a Papal decree con. one party to the house of Hanover, of the other demning Galileo's doctrine about the motion to that of Stuart, induced both to talk a lan- of the earth. It is all in vain. Ii the world is guage much more favourable to popular rights really turning round, all mankind together will than tc monarchical power. What took place not be able to keep it from turning, or to keep at the first representation of " Cato” is no bad themselves from turning with it.” The decrees illustration of the way in which the two great of Oxford were as ineffectual to stay the great sections of the community almost invariably moral and political revolution, as those of the acted. A play, the whole merit of which con- Vatican to stay the motion of our globe. That sists in its stately rhetoric,-a rhetoric some- learned University found itself not only unable times not unworthy of Lucan,-about hating to keep the mass from moving, but unable to tyrants and dying for freedom, is brought on keep itself from moving along with the mass. the stage in a time of great political excite- Nor was the effect of the discussions and speanent. Both parties crowd to the theatre. culations of that period confined to our own Each affects to consider every line as a com- country. While the Jacobite party was in the pliment to itself, and an attack on its oppo- last dotage and weakness of its paralyiic old nents. The curtain falls amidst an unanimous age, the political philosophy of England began roar of applause. The Whigs of the “ Kit Cai" to produce a mighty effect on France, and, embrace the author, and assure him that he through France, on Europe. has rendered an inestimable service to liberty. Here another vast field opens itself before us. The Tory Secretary of State presents a purse But we must resolutely turn away from it. We to the chief actor for defending the cause of will conclude by earnestly advising all our readliberty so well. The history of that night was, ers to study Sir James Mackintosh's invaluable in miniature, the history of two generations. Fragment; and by expressing the satisfaction
We well know how much sophistry there we have received from learning, since this was in the reasonings, and how much exagge- article was written, that the intelligent publishration in the declamations of both parties. But ers of the volume before us have resolved to when we compare the state in which political reprint the Fragment in a separate form, withscience was at the close of the reign of George out those accompaniments which have hitherto the Second, with the state in which it had been impeded its circulation. The resolution is as wher James the Second came to the throne, it creditable to them as the publication is sure to is impossible not to admit that a prodigious be acceptable to the lovers of English history,
SIR JOHN MALCOLM'S LIFE OF LORD CLIVE.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW FOR JANUARY, 1840.)
We have always thought it strange that, guage, has never been very popular, and is
plain man of no great tact or capacity. He
was in his seventh year; and from these it ap• The Life of Robert Lord Cline; collected from the pears that, even at that early age, his strong Family Papers, communicated by the Earl of Powie. By will and his fiery passions, sustained by a con. Major-General Sir Joun MALCOLM, K.C. B. 3 vols. 8vo. London. 1836.
stitutional intrepidity which sometimes seenud