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administration, Parliaments would probably meet, and their power, though still a part of the meddle less; and they would be less supported theory of the constitution, became obsolete in by public opinion in their meddling. That practice. We do not, of course, imagine that the king's hands may not be rudely tied by Temple either expected or wished that Parlia others, he must consent to tie them lightly ments should be thus disused; but he did exhimself. That the executive administration pect, we think, that something like what had may not be usurped by the checking body, happened in Holland would happen in Engsomething of the character of a checking body land, and that a large portion of the functions must be given to the body which conducts the lately assumed by Parliament would be quietly executive administration. The Parliament is transferred to the miniature Parliament which now arrogating to itself every day a larger he proposed to create. share of the functions of the Privy Council, We must stop the evil by giving to the Privy Council something of the constitution of a Parliament. Let the nation see that all the king's measures are directed by a cabinet composed of representatives of every order in the state-by a cabinet which contains, not placemen alone, but independent and popular noblemen and gentlemen who have large estates and no salaries, and who are not likely to sacrifice the public welfare, in which they have a deep stake, and the credit which they have attained with the country, to the pleasure of a court from which they receive nothing. When the ordinary administration is in such hands as these, the people will be quite content to see the Parliament become what it formerly was-quently have prevented the discontents which an extraordinary check. They will be quite willing that the House of Commons should meet only once in three years for a short session, and should take as little part in matters of state as they did a hundred years ago.
Had this plan, with some modifications, been tried at an earlier period, in a more composed state of the public mind, and by a better sovereign, we are by no means certain that it would not have effected the purpose for which it was designed. The restraint imposed on the king by the Council of Thirty, whom he had himself chosen, would have been feeble indeed when compared with the restraint imposed by Parliament But it would have been more constant. It would have acted every year, and all the year round; and before the Revolution the sessions of Parliament were short and the recesses long. The advice of the Council would probably have prevented any very monstrous and scandalous measures; and would consefollowed such measures, and the salutary laws which are the fruits of such discontents. We believe, for example, that the second Dutch war would never have been approved by such a Council as that which Temple proposed. Thus we believe that Temple reasoned: for We are quite certain that the shutting up of the on this hypothesis his scheme is intelligible; Exchequer would never even have been menand on any other hypothesis appears to us, as tioned in such a Council. The people, pleased it does to Mr. Courtenay, exceedingly absurd to think that Lord Russell, Lord Cavendish, and unmeaning. This Council was strictly and Mr. Powle, unplaced and unpensioned, what Barillon called it--an assembly of states. were daily representing their grievances, and There are the representatives of all the great defending their rights in the royal presence, sections of the community--of the Church, of would not have pined quite so much for the the Law, of the Peerage, of the Commons. meeting of Parliaments. The Parliament, The exclusion of one-half of the councillors when it met, would have found fewer and less from office under the crown-an exclusion glaring abuses to attack. There would have which is quite absurd when we consider the been less misgovernment and less reform. We Council merely as an executive board--be- should not have been cursed with the Cabal, or comes at once perfectly reasonable when we blessed with the Habeas Corpus Act. In the consider the Council as a body intended to re-mean time, the Council would, unless some at strain the crown, as well as to exercise the least of its powers had been delegated to a powers of the crown--to perform some of the smaller body, have been feeble, dilatory, difunctions of a Parliament, as well as the func-vided, unfit for every thing which requires tions of a cabinet. We see, too, why Temple secrecy and despatch, and peculiarly unfit for dwelt so much on the private wealth of the the administration of war. members-why he instituted a comparison between their united income and the united incomes of the members of the House of Comnons. Such a parallel would have been idle in the case of a mere cabinet. It is extremely significant in the case of a body intended to supersede the House of Commons in some very important functions.
The Revolution put an end, in a very different way, to the long contest between the king and the Parliament. From that time, the House of Commons has been predominant in the state. The cabinet has really been, from that time, a committee nominated by the crown out of the prevailing party in Parliament. Though the minority in the Commons are conWe can hardly help thinking that the notion stantly proposing to condemn executive meaof this Parliament on a small scale was sug-sures, or call for papers which may enable the gested to Temple by what he had himself seen House to sit in judgment on such measures, in the United Provinces. The original Assem- these propositions are scarcely ever carried: bly of the States-General consisted, as he tells and if a proposition of this kind is carried us, of above eight hundred persons. But this against the government, a change of Ministry great body was represented by a smaller coun- almost necessarily follows. Growing and cil of about thirty, which bore the name and exercised the powers of the States-General. Atlas: the real States altogether ceased to
struggling power always gives more annoyance and is more unmanageable than established power. The House of Commons gave
infinitely more trouble to the ministers of Charles II. than to any minister of later times; for, in the time of Charles II. the House was checking ministers in whom it did not confide. Now that its ascendency is fully established, it either confides in ministers or turns them out. This is undoubtedly a far better state of things than that which Temple wished to introduce. The modern cabinet is a far better Executive Council than his. The worst House of Commons that has sat since the Revolution was a far more efficient check on misgovernment than his fifteen independent councillors would have been. Yet, every thing considered, it seems to us that his plan was the work of an observant, ingenious, and fertile mind.
It was a favourite exercise among the Greek sophists to write panegyrics on characters proverbial for depravity. One professor of rhetoric sent to Socrates a panegyric on Busiris; and Isocrates himself wrote another which has come down to us. It is, we presume, from an ambition of the same kind that some writers have lately shown a disposition to eulogize Shaftesbury. But the attempt is vain. The charges against him rest on evidence not to be invalidated by any arguments which human wit can devise; or by any information which may be found in old trunks and escrutoires.
It is certain that, just before the Restoration, he declared to the regicides that he would be damned, body and soul, rather than suffer a On this occasion, as on every occasion on hair of their heads to be hurt; and that, just which he came prominently forward, Temple after the Restoration, he was one of the judges had the rare good fortune to please the public who sentenced them to death. It is certain as well as the sovereign. The general exulta- that he was a principal member of the most tion was great when it was known that the old profligate administration ever known; and Council, made up of the most odious tools of that he was afterwards a principal member of power, was dismissed-that small interior the most profligate Opposition ever known. It committees, rendered odious by the recent is certain that, in power, he did not scruple to memory of the Cabal, were to be disused-and violate the great fundamental principle of the that the king would adopt no measure till it constitution, in order to exalt the Catholics; had been discussed and approved by a body, and that, out of power, he did not scruple to of which one half consisted of independent violate every principle of justice, in order to gentlemen and noblemen, and in which such destroy them. There were in that age honest persons as Russell, Cavendish, and Temple men,-William Penn is an instance-who himself had seats. Town and country were in valued toleration so highly, that they would a ferment of joy. The bells were rung, bon-willingly have seen it established, even by an fires were lighted, and the acclamations of Eng-illegal exertion of the prerogative. land were re-echoed by the Dutch, who considered the influence obtained by Temple as a certain omen of good for Europe. It is, indeed, much to the honour of his sagacity, that every one of his great measures should, in such times, have pleased every party which he had any interest in pleasing. This was the case with the Triple Alliance-with the Treaty which concluded the Second Dutch War-with the marriage of the Prince of Orange-and, finally, with the institution of this new Council.
The only people who grumbled were those popular leaders of the House of Commons who were not among the thirty; and if our view of the measure be correct, they were precisely the people who had good reason to grumble. They were precisely the people whose activity and whose influence the new Council was intended to destroy.
There were many honest men who dreaded arbitrary power so much, that, on account of the alliance between Popery and arbitrary power, they were disposed to grant no toleration to Papists On both those classes we look with indulgence, though we think both in the wrong. But Shaftesbury belonged to neither class. united all that was worst in both. From the friends of toleration he borrowed their contempt for the constitution; and from the friends of liberty their contempt for the rights of conscience. We never can admit that his conduct as a member of the Cabal was redeemed by his conduct as a leader of Opposition. On the contrary, his life was such, that every part of it, as if by a skilful contrivance, reflects infamy on every other. We should never have known how abandoned a prostitute he was in place if we had not known how desperate an incen diary he was out of it. To judge of him fairly, we must bear in mind that the Shaftesbury who. in office, was the chief author of the Declara tion of Indulgence, was the same Shaftesbury who, out of office, excited and kept up the sa vage hatred of the rabble of London against the very class to whom that Declaration of Indulgence was intended to give illegal relief.
But there was very soon an end of the bright hopes and loud applauses with which the publication of this scheme had been hailed. The perfidious levity of the king and the ambition of the chiefs of parties produced the instant, entire, and irremediable failure of a plan which nothing but firmness, public spirit, and selfdenial on the part of all concerned in it could conduct to a happy issue. Even before the project was divulged, its author had already found reason to apprehend that it would fail. Considerable difficulty was experienced in framing the list of councillors. There were two men in particular about whom the king and Temple could not agree,-two men deeply tainted with the vices common to the English states-ter's counsels to the Electors of Saxony and men of that age, but unrivalled in talents, address, and influence. These were the Earl of Shaftesbury, and George Saville Viscount Halifax.
It is amusing to see the excuses that are made for him. We will give two specimens. It is acknowledged that he was one of the ministry who had made the alliance with France against Holland, and that this alliance was most pernicious. What, then, is the de fence? Even this-that he betrayed his mas
Brandenburg, and tried to rouse all the Protestant powers of Germany to defend the States. Again, it is acknowledged that he was deeply
concerned in the Declaration of Indulgence, and that his conduct on that occasion was not only unconstitutional, but quite inconsistent with the course which he afterwards took respecting the professors of the Catholic faith. What, then, is the defence? Even this-that he meant only to allure concealed Papists to avow themselves, and thus to become open maiks for the vengeance of the public. As often as he is charged with one treason, his advocates vindicate him by confessing two. They had better leave him where they find him. For him there is no escape upwards. Every outlet by which he can creep out of his present position, is one which lets him down into a still lower and fouler depth of infamy. To whitewash an Ethiopian is a proverbially hopeless attempt; but to whitewash an Ethiopian by giving him a new coat of blacking, is an enterprise more extraordinary still. That in the course of Shaftesbury's unscrupulous and revengeful opposition to the court he rendered one or two most useful services to his country, we admit. And he is, we think, fairly entitled, if that be any glory, to have his name eternally associated with the Habeas Corpus Act, in the same way in which the name of Henry VIII. is associated with the reformation of the Church, and that of Jack Wilkes with the freedom of the press.
While Shaftesbury was still living, his character was elaborately drawn by two of the greatest writers of the age,-by Butler, with characteristic brilliancy of wit,-by Dryden, with even more than characteristic energy and loftiness,-by both with all the inspiration of hatred. The sparkling illustrations of Butler have been thrown into the shade by the brighter glory of that gorgeous satiric Muse, who comes sweeping by in sceptred pall, borrowed from her more august sisters. But the descriptions well deserve to be compared. The reader will at once perceive a considerable difference between Butler's
With more heads than a beast in vision,"
and the Ahithophel of Dryden. Butler dwells on Shaftesbury's unprincipled versatility; on his wonderful and almost instinctive skill in discerning the approach of a change of fortune; and in the dexterity with which he extricated himself from the snares in which he left his associates to perish.
"Our state-artificer foresaw
Which way the world began to draw.
All ways he could to insure his throat."
In Dryden's great portrait, on the contrary, violent passion, implacable revenge, boldness amounting to temerity, are the most striking features. Ahithophel is one of the "great wits to madness near allied." And again
"A daring pilot in extremity,
The dates of the two poems will, we think, explain this discrepancy. The third part of Hudibras appeared in 1678, when the character of Shaftesbury had as yet but imperfectly developed itself. He had, indeed, been a traitor to every party in the state; but his treasons had hitherto prospered. Whether it were accident or sagacity, he had timed his desertions in such a manner that fortune seemed to go to and fro with him from side to side. The extent of his perfidy was known; but it was not till the Popish Plot furnished him with a machinery which seemed sufficiently powerful for all his purposes, that the audacity of his spirit and the fierceness of his malevolent passions became fully manifest. His subsequent conduct showed undoubtedly great abili ty, but not ability of the sort for which he had formerly been so eminent. He was now headstrong, sanguine, full of impetuous confidence in his own wisdom and his own good luck, He whose fame as a political tactician had hitherto rested chiefly on his skilful retreats, now set himself to break down all the bridges behind him. His plans were castles in the air:-his talk was rodomontade. He took no thought for the morrow;-he treated the court as if the king were already a prisoner in his hands;-he built on the favour of the multitude, as if that favour were not proverbially inconstant. The signs of the coming reaction were discerned by men of far less sagacity than his; and scared from his side men more consistent than he had ever pretended to be. But on him they were lost. The counsel of Ahithophel,-that counsel which was as if a man had inquired of the oracle of God,-was turned into foolishness. He who had become a by. word for the certainty with which he foresaw, and the suppleness with which he evaded danger, now, when beset on every side with snares and death, seemed to be smitten with a blind ness as strange as his former clearsightedness, and turning neither to the right ror to the left strode straight on with desperate hardihood te his doom. Therefore, after having early ac;
of the most striking lines in the description of Ahitho It has never, we believe, been remarked, that two phel are borrowed, and from a most obscure quarter. In Knolles' History of the Turks, printed more than sixty years before the appearance of Absalom and Ahlthophel, are the following verses, under a portrait of the Sultan Mustapha I.:
"Greatnesse on goodnesse loves to slide, not stand, And leaves for Fortune's ice Vertue's firme land."
Dryden's words are
"But wild Ambition loves to slide, not stand, And Fortune's ice prefers to Virtue's land."
The circumstance is the more remarkable, because Dryden has really no couplet more intensely Dryden
lan, both in thought and expression, than this, of which the whole thought, and almost the whole expression, are stolen.
As we are on this subject, we cannot refrain from observing that Mr. Courtenay has done Dryden injustice, by inadvertently attributing to him some feeble lines which are in Tate's part of Absalom and Abithoobel
quired, and long preserved, the reputation of | ty; and that, though an uncertain friend, he infallible wisdom and invariable success, he was a placable enemy. He voted in favour lived to see a mighty ruin wrought by his own of Lord Strafford, the victim of the Whigs. ungovernable passions;-to see the great par- He did his utmost to save Lord Russell, the ty which he had led, vanquished, and scatter- victim of the Tories. And on the whole, we ed, and trampled down;-to see all his own are inclined to think that his public life, though devilish enginery of lying witnesses, partial far indeed from faultless, has as few great sheriff's, packe 1 juries, unjust judges, blood- stains as that of any politician who took an thirsty mobs, ready to be employed against active part in affairs during the troubled and himself and his most devoted followers;-to disastrous period of ten years which elapsed fly from that proud city whose favour had al- between the fall of Lord Danby and the Revomost raised him to be Mayor of the Palace; lution. to hide himself in squalid retreats; to cover his gray head with ignominious disguises;-lar and he died in hopeless exile, sheltered by a state which he had cruelly injured and insulted, from the vengeance of a master whose favour he had purchased by one series of crimes, and forfeited by another.
Halifax had, in common with Shaftesbury, and with almost all the politicians of that age, a very loose morality where the public were concerned; but in his case the prevailing infection was modified by a very peculiar constitution both of heart and head;-by a temper singularly free from gall, and by a refining and skeptical understanding. He changed his course as often as Shaftesbury; but he did not change it to the same extent, or in the same direction. Shaftesbury was the very reverse of a trimmer. His disposition led him generally to do his utmost to exalt the side which was up, and to depress the side which was down. His transitions were from extreme to extreme. While he stayed with a party, he went all lengths for it :-when he quitted it, he went all lengths against it. Halifax was emphatically a trimmer,-a trimmer both by intellect and by constitution. The name was fixed on him by his contemporaries; and he was so far from being ashamed of it that he assumed it as a badge of honour. He passed from faction to faction. But instead of adopt ing and inflaming the passions of those whom he joined, he tried to diffuse among them something of the spirit of those whom he had just left. While he acted with the Opposition, he was suspected of being a spy of the court; and when he had joined the court, all the Tories were dismayed by his republican doctrines.
He wanted neither arguments nor elcquence to exhibit what was commonly regarded as his wavering policy in the fairest light. He trimmed, he said, as the temperate zone trims between intolerable heat and intolerable cold -as a good government trims between despotism and anarchy-as a pure church trims between the errors of the Papists and those of the Anabaptists. Nor was this defence by any means without weight; for though there is abundant proof that his integrity was not of strength to withstand the temptations by which his cupidity and vanity were sometimes assailed, yet his dislike of extremes, and a forgiving and compassionate temper which seems to have been natural to him, preserved him from all participation in the worst crimes of his time. If both parties accused him of deserting them, both were compelled to admit that they had great obligations to his humaniVOL. III.-17
His mind was much less turned to particuobservations, and much more to general speculation, than that of Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury knew the king, the Council, the Parliament, the city, better than Halifax; but Halifax would have written a far better treatise on political science than Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury shone more in consultation, and Halifax in controversy:-Shaftesbury was more fertile in expedients, and Halifax in arguments. Nothing that remains from the pen of Shaftesbury will bear a comparison with the political tracts of Halifax. Indeed, very little of the prose of that age is so well worth reading as the "Character of a Trimmer," and the "Anatomy of an Equivalent." What particularly strikes us in those works, is the writer's passion for generalization. He was treating of the most exciting subjects in the most agitated times-he was himself placed in the very thick of the civil conflict:-yet there is no acrimony, nothing inflammatory, nothing personal. He preserves an air of cold superiority,—a certain philosophical serenity, which is perfectly marvellous, he treats every question as an abstract question, begins with the widest propositions
argues those propositions on general grounds
and often, when he has brought out his theorem, leaves the reader to make the application, without adding an allusion to particular men or to passing events. This speculative turn of mind rendered him a bad adviser in cases which required celerity. He brought forward, with wonderful readiness and copiousness, arguments, replies to those arguments, rejoinders to those replies, general maxims of policy, and analogous cases from history. But Shaftesbury was the man for a prompt decision. Of the parliamentary eloquence of these celebrated rivals, we can judge only by report; and so judging, we should be inclined to think that, though Shaftesbury was a distinguished speaker, the superiority belonged to Halifax. Indeed the readiness of Halifax in debate, the extent of his knowledge, the ingenuity of his reasoning, the liveliness of his expression, and the silver clearness and sweetness of his voice, seem to have made the strongest impression on his contemporaries. By Dryden he is described as
"Of piercing wit and pregnant thought, Endued by nature and by learning taught To move assemblies."
His oratory is utterly and irretrievably lost to us, like that of Somers, of Bolingbroke, of Charles Townshend-of many others who were accustomed to rise amidst the breathless expectation of senates, and to sit down amidst reiterated bursts of applause. But old men who lived to admire the eloquence of Pulteney
in its meridian, and that of Pitt in its splendid | all business. Accordingly, there soon arose a dawn, still murmured that they had heard no- small interior cabinet, consisting of Essex, thing like the great speeches of Lord Halifax Sunderland, Halifax, and Temple. For a time on the Exclusion Bill. The power of Shaftes- perfect harmony and confidence subsisted bebury over large masses was unrivalled. Ha- tween the four. But the meetings of the thirty lifax was disqualified by his whole character, were stormy. Sharp retorts passed between moral and intellectual, for the part of a dema- Shaftesbury and Halifax, who led the opposite gogue. It was in small circles, and, above all, parties. In the Council, Halifax generally had in the House of Lords, that his ascendency was the advantage. But it soon became apparent felt. that Shaftesbury still had at his back the ma| jority of the House of Commons. The discontents, which the change of ministry had for a moment quieted, broke forth again with redoubled violence; and the only effect which the late measures appeared to have produced was, that the Lord President, with all the dignity and authority belonging to his high place, stood at the head of the Opposition. The im peachment of Lord Danby was eagerly prosecuted. The Commons were determined to exclude the Duke of York from the throne. All offers of compromise were rejected. It must not be forgotten, however, that in the midst of the confusion, one inestimable law,— the only benefit which England has derived from the troubles of that period, but a benefit which may well be set off against a great mass of evil,-the Habeas Corpus Act, was pushed through the Houses, and received the royal assent.
Shaftesbury seems to have troubled himself very little about theories of government. Halifax was, in speculation, a strong republican, and did not conceal it. He often made hereditary monarchy and aristocracy the subjects of his keen pleasantry, while he was fighting the battles of the court, and obtaining for himself step after step in the peerage. In this way he attempted to gratify at once his intellectual vanity and his more vulgar ambition. He shaped his life according to the opinion of the multitude, and indemnified himself by talking according to his own. His colloquial powers were great; his perceptions of the ridiculous exquisitely fine; and he seems to have had the rare art of preserving the reputation of good-breeding and good-nature, while habitually indulging his trong propensity to mockery. Temple wished to put Halifax into the new Council, and to leave out Shaftesbury. The king objected strongly to Halifax, to whom he had taken a great dislike, which is not accounted for, and which did not last long. Temple replied that Halifax was a man eminent both by his station and by his abilities, and would, if excluded, do every thing against the new arrangement, that could be done by eloquence, sarcasm, and intrigue. All who were consulted were of the same mind; and the king yielded, but not till Temple had almost gone on his knees. The point was no sooner settled than his majesty declared that he would have Shaftesbury too. Temple again had recourse to entreaties and expostulation. Charles told him that the enmity of Shaftesbury would be at least as formidable as that of Halifax; and this was true: but Temple might have replied that by giving power to Halifax they gained a friend, and that by giving power to Shaftesbury they only strengthened an enemy. It was vain to argue and protest. The king only laughed and jested at Temple's anger; and Shafte,bury was not only sworn of the Council, but appointed Lord President.
Temple was so bitterly mortified by this step, that he had at one time resolved to have nothing to do with the new administration; and seriously thought of disqualifying himself from sitting in the Council by omitting to take the sacrament. But the urgency of Lady Temple and Lady Giffard induced him to abandon that intention.
The Council was organized on the 21st of April, 1679; and on the very next day one of ine fundamental principles on which it had heen constructed was violated. A secret cominittee, or, in the modern phrase, a cabinet of nine members was formed. But as this committee included Shaftesbury and Monmouth, it contained within itself the elements of as much faction as would have sufficed to impede
The king, finding the Parliament as troublesome as ever, determined to prorogue it; and he did so without even mentioning his intention to the Council by whose advice he had pledged himself, only a month before, to conduct the government. The councillors were generally dissatisfied, and Shaftesbury swore with great vehemence that if he could find ou who the secret advisers were he would have their heads.
The Parliament rose: London was deserted; and Temple retired to his villa, whence, on council days, he went to Hampden Court. The post of Secretary was again and again pressed on him by his master, and by his three colleagues of the inner cabinet. Halifax, in particular, threatened laughingly to burn down the house at Sheen. But Temple was immovable. His short experience of English politics had disgusted him; and he felt himself so much oppressed by the responsibility under which he at present lay, that he had no inclination to add to the load.
When the term fixed for the prorogation had nearly expired, it became necessary to consider what course should be taken. The king and his four confidential advisers thought that a new Parliament might be more manageable, and could not possibly be more refractory than that which they now had, and they therefore determined on a dissolution. But when the question was proposed at Council, the majority, jealous, it should seem, of the small directing knot, and unwilling to bear the unpopularity of the measures of government while excluded from all power, joined Shaftesbury, and the members of the cabinet were left alone in the minority. The king, however, had made up his mind, and ordered the Parliament to be instantly dissolved. Temple's Council was now nothing more than an ordinary Privy Council