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plies for short terms, and appropriating them purchased so dearly, was on every side er. io particular services, it has rendered its ap- tolled and worshipped. Even those distincprobation as necessary in practice to all the tions of party, which must almost always be measures of the executive government as it is found in a free state, could scarcely be traced. in theory to a legislative act.
The two great bodies which from the time of Mr. Hallam appears to have begun with the the Revolution had been gradually tending to reign of Henry the Seventh, as the period at approximation, were now united in emulous which what is called modern history, in con- support of that splendid administration which tradistinction to the history of the middle ages, smote to the dust both the branches of the is generally supposed to
He has house of Bourbon. The great battle for our stopped at the accession of George the Third, ecclesiastical and civil polity had been fought “ from unwillingness," as he says, “to excite and won. The wounds had been healed. The the prejudices of modern politics, especially victors and the vanquished were rejoicing tothose connected with personal character." gether. Every person acquainted with the poThese two eras, we think, deserved the dis- litical writers of the last generation will recol. tinction on other grounds. Our remote pos- lect the terms in which they generally speak terity, when looking back on our history in of that time. It was a glimpse of a golden age that comprehensive manner in which remote of union and glory-a short interval of rest posterity alone can without much danger of which had been preceded by centuries of agierror look back on it, will probably observe tation, and which centuries of agitation were those points with peculiar interest. They are, destined to follow. if we mistake not, the beginning and the end How soon faction again began to ferment, is of an entire and separate chapter in our an- well known. In the Letters of Junius, in nals. The period which lies between them Burke's Thoughts on the Cause of the Disconis a perfect cycle, a great year of the public tents, and in many other writings of less merit, mind.
the violent dissensions, which speedily conIn the reign of Henry the Seventh, all the vulsed the country, are imputed to the system political differences which had agitated Eng. of favouritism which George the Third introland since the Norman conquest seemed to be duced, to the influence of Bute, or the profliset at rest. The long and fierce struggle be- gacy of those who called themselves the king's tween the crown and the barons had termi- friends. With all deference to the eminent nated. The grievances which had produced writers to whom we have referred, we may the rebellions of Tyler and Cade had disap- venture to say that they lived too near the peared. Villanage was scarcely known. The events of which they treated, to judge of them two royal houses whose conflicting claims had correctly. The schism which was then aplong convulsed the kingdom were at length pearing in the nation, and which has been united. The claimants whose pretensions, just from that time almost constantly widening, had or unjust, had disturbed the new settlement little in common with those which had divided were overthrown. In religion there was no open it during the reigns of the Tudors and the dissent, and probably very little secret heresy: Stuarts. The symptoms of popular feeling, The old subjects of contention, in short, had indeed, will always in a great measure be the vanished; those which were to succeed had same; but the principle which excited that not yet appeared.
feeling was here new. The support which Soon, however, new principles were an- was given to Wilkes, the clamour for reform nounced; principles which were destined to during the American war, the disaffected conkcep England during two centuries and a half duct of large classes of people at the time of in a state of commotion. The Reformation the French Revolution, no more resembled the divided the people into two great parties. The opposition which had been offered to the goo Protestants were victorious. They again sub-vernment of Charles the Second, than that opdivided themselves. Political systems were position resembled the contest between the engrafted on theological doctrines. The mu- Roses. tual animosities of the two parties gradually In the political as in the natural body, a sen. emerged into the fight of public life. First sation is often referred to a part widely differcame conflicts in Parliament; then civil war; ent from that in which it really resides. A then revolutions upon revolutions, each at- man, whose leg is cut off, fancies that he feels tended by its appurtenance of proscriptions, a pain in his toe. And in the same manner the and persecutions, and tests; each followed by people, in the earlier part of the late reign, sin. severe measures on the part of the conquer- cerely attributed their discontent to grievances ors; each exciting a deadly and festering ha- which had been effectually lopped off. They tred in the conquered. During the reign of imagined that the prerogative was too strong George the Second things were evidently tend for the constitution, that the principles of the Ing to repose. At the close of it the nation Revolution were abandoned, and the system of had completed the great revolution which com- the Stuarts restored. Every impartial man menced in the early part of the sixteenth cen- must now acknowledge that these charges tury, and was again at rest. The fury of sects were groundless. The proceedings of the had died away. The Catholics themselves government with respect to the Middlesex practically enjoyed toleration; and more than election would have been contemplated with ioleration they did not yet venture even to de- delight by the first generation of Whigs. They sire. Jacobitism was a mere name. Nobody would have thought it a splendid triumph of was left to fight for that wretched cause, and the cause of liberty, that the King and the very few to drink for it. The constitution, Lords should resign 10 the House of Commons a portion of their legislative power, and allow | tion in former days used to be the envy of the ilio incapacitate without their consent. This, world; it was the patiern for politicians; the indeed, Mr. Burke clearly perceived. “When theme of the elequent; the meditation of the the House of Commons," says he, “in an en- philosopher in erery part of the world.--As to deavour to obtain new advantages at the ex- Englishmen, it was iheir pride, their consola pense of the other orders of the state, for the ticn. By it they lived, and for it they were benefit of the commons at large, have pursued ready to die. Ils defects, if it had any, were strung measures, if it were not just, it was at partly covered by partiality, and partly borne least natural, that the constituents should con- by prudence. Now all its excellencies are nive at all their proceedings; because we our-forgot, its faults are forcibly dragged into day, selves were ultimately to profit. But when this exaggerated by every artifice of misrepresentasubmission is urged to us in a contest between tion. It is despised and rejecied of men; and the representatives and ourselves, and where no- every device and invention of ingenuity or thing can be put into their scale which is not idleness is set up in opposition, or in preiertaken from ours, they fancy us to be children ence to it.” We neither adopt nor conderin when they tell us that they are our representa- the language of reprobation which the great tives, our own flesh and blood, and that all the orator here employs. We call him only as stripes they give us are for our gool.” These witness to the fact. That the revolution of sentences contain, in fact, the whole explana- public feeling which he described was then in tion of the mystery. The conflict of the seven-progress is indisputable; and it is equally in. leenth century was maintained by the Parlia- disputable, we think, that it is in progress suill ment against the crown. The conflict which To investigate and classify the cause of so commenced in the middle of the eighteenth great a change, would require far more thought, century, which still remains undecided, and in and far more space, than we at present have to which our children and grandchildren will bestow. But some of them are obvious. Durprobably be called to act or suffer, is between ing the contest which the Parliament carried a large portion of the people on the one side, on against the Siuarts, it had only to check and and the crown and the Parliament united on complain. It has since had to govern. As an the other.
attacking body, it could select its points of alThe privileges of the House of Commons, tack, and it naturally chose those on which is those privileges which, in 1642, all London was likely to receive public support. As a rose in arms to defend, which the people con- ruling body, it has neither the saine liberty of sidered as synonymous with their own liberties, choice, nor the same interest to gratify the and in comparison with which they took no people. With the power of an executive goaccouni of the most precious and sacred prin- vernment, it has drawn to itself some of the ciples of English jurisprudence, have now be. vices and all the unpopularity of an executive come nearly as odious as the rigours of mar- government. On the House of Commons, tial law. That power of committing, which above all, possessed as it is of the public purse, the people anciently loved to see the House of and consequently of the public sword, the naCommons exercise, is now, at least, when emotion throws all the blame of an ill-conducted ployed against libellers, the most unpopular war, of a blundering negotiation, of a disgrace. power in the constitution. If the Commons fultreaty,of an embarrassing commercialcrisis. were to suffer the Lords to amend money-bills, The delays of the Court of Chancery, the mis. we do not believe that the people would care conduct of a judge at Van Diemen's land, any one straw about the matter. If they were to thing, in short, which in any part of the admi sutler the Lords even to originate money-bills, nistration any person feels as a grievance, is we doubt whether such a surrender of their attributed to the tyranny, or at least to the constitutional rights would excite half so negligence, of that all-powerful body. Private much dissatisfaction as the exclusion of individuals pester it with their wrongs and strangers from a single important discussion. claims. A merchant appcals to it from the courts The gallery in which the reporters sit has be- of Rio Janeiro or St. Petersburg. A painter, come a fourth estate of the realm. The pub- who can find nobody to buy the acre of spoiled lication of the debates, a practice which canvass, which he calls an historical picture, seemed to the most liberal statesmen of the old pours into its sympathizing ear the whole story school full of danger to the great safeguards of his debts and his jealousies. Anciently the of public liberty, is now regarded by many Parliament resembled a member of opposition, persons as a safeguard, tantamount, and more from whom no places are expected, who is not than tantamount, to all the rest together. required to confer favours and propose mea.
Burke, in a speech on parliamentary reform, sures, but merely to watch and censure; and which is the more remarkable because it was who may, therefore, unless he is grossly inju. delivered long before the French Revolution, dicious, be popular with the great body of the has described, in striking language, the change community. The Parliament now resembles in public feeling of which we speak. “It sug- the same person put into office, surrounded by vests melancholy reflections," says he, “in petitioners, whom twenty times his patronage consequence of ihe strange course we have would not satisfy, stunned with complaints, long held, that we are now no longer quarrel. buried in memorials, compelled by the duties ling about the character, or about the conduct of his station to bring forward measures simi: of men, or the lenour of measures; but we !ar to those which he was formerly accustoined are grown out of humour with the English to observe and to check, and perpoquaily enconstitution itself; this is become the object or countered by objections similar to ihose which the animosity of Englishmen. This constitu- ' it was formerly his business to raise. Vol.I.-13
Perhaps it may be laid down as a general on the subject is loud and vehement. But it rule, that a legislative assembly, not constituted seems to us that, during the remissions, the on democratic principles, cannot be popular feeling gathers strength, and that every suc. long after it ceases to be weak. Ils zeal for cessive burst is more violent than that which what the people, rightly or wrongly, conceive preceded it. The public attention may be for to be their interest, its sympathy with their a time diverted to the Catholic claims or the mutable and violent passions, are merely the mercantile code; but it is probable that at no effects of the particular circumstances in which very distant period, perhaps in the lifetime of it is placed. As long as it depends for exist- the present generation, all other questions will ence on the public favour, it will employ all merge in that which is, in a certain degree, the means in its power to conciliate that favour. connected with them all. While this is the case, defects in its constitu- Already we seem to ourselves to perceive tion are of little consequence. But as the close the signs of unquiet times, the vague presenti. union of such a body with the nation is the ment of something great and strange which effect of an identity of interest, not essential, pervades the community; the restless and turbut accidental, it is in some measure dissolved bid hopes of those who have every thing to from the time at which the danger which pro- gain, the dimly-hinted forebodings of those who duced it ceases to exist.
have every thing to lose. Many indications Hence, before the Revolution, the question might be mentioned, in themselves indeed as of parliamentary reform was of very little im- insignificant as straws; but even the direction portance. The friends of liberty had no very of a straw, to borrow the illustration of Bacon, ardent wish for it. The strongest Tories saw will show from what quarter the hurricane is no objections to it. It is remarkable that Cla setting in. rendon loudly applauds the changes which A great statesman might, by judicious and Cromwell introduced, changes far stronger timely reformations, by reconciling the two than the Whigs of the present day would in great branches of the natural aristocracy, the general approve. There is no reason to think, capitalists and the landowners, by so widening however, that the reform effected by Cromwell the base of the government as to interest in its made any great difference in the conduct of defence the whole of the middling class, that the Parliament. Indeed, if the House of Com- brave, honest, and sound-hearted class, which mons had, during the reign of Charles the Se- is as anxious for the maintenance of order and cond, been elected by universal suffrage, or if the security of property as it is hostile to corall the seats had been put up to sale, as in the ruption and oppression, succeed in averting a French Parliaments, it would, we suspect, have struggle to which no rational friend of liberty acted very much as it did. We know how or of law can look forward without great apstrongly the Parliament of Paris exerted itself prehensions. There are those who will be in favour of the people on many important contented with nothing but demolition; and occasions; and the reason is evident. Though there are those who shrink from all repair. it did not emanate from the people, its whole There are innovators who long for a President consequence depended on the support of the and a National Convention; and there are people. From the time of the Revolution the bigots who, while cities larger and richer than House of Commons was gradually becoming the capitals of many great kingdoms are call. what it now is—a great council of state, con- ing out for representatives to watch over their taining many members chosen freely by the interests, select some hackneyed jobber in bopeople, and many others anxious to acquire roughs, some peer of the narrowest and smallihe favour of the people; but, on the whole, est mind, as the fittest depositary of a forfeited aristocratical in its temper and interest. It is franchise. Between these extremes there lies very far from being an illiberal and stupid oli- a more excellent way. Time is bringing around garchy; but it is equally far from being an another crisis analogous to that which occurred express ir.age of the general feeling. It is in the seventeenth century. We stand in a influenced by the opinion of the people, and situation similar to that in which our ancestors influenced powerfully, but slowly and circuit- stood under the reign of James the First. It ously. Instead of outrunning the public mind, will soon again be necessary to reform, that as before the Revolution it frequently did, it we may preserve; to save the fundamental now follows with slow steps and at a wide principles of the constitution, by alterations in distance. It is therefore necessarily unpopu- the subordinate parts. It will then be possible, lar; and the more so, because the good which as it was possible two hundred years ago, 10 is produces is much less evident to common protect vested rights, to secure every useful puerception than the evil which it inflicts. It institution-every institution endeared by an. bears the blame of all the mischief which is tiquity and noble associations; and, ai the done, or supposed to be done, by its authority same time, to introduce into the system im. or by its connivance. It does not get the provements harmonizing with th. sriginal credit, on the other hand, of having pre- plan. It remains to be seen whether two hunventeil those innumerable abuses which do dred years have made us wiser. not exist solely because the House of Com- We know of no great revolution which might mons exists.
not have been prevented by compromise early A large part of the nation is certainly de- and graciously made. Firmness is a great sirous of a reform in the representative system. virtue in public affairs, but it has its proper llow large that part may be, and how strong sphere. . Conspiracies and insurrections in 149 desires on the subject may be, it is difficult which emall minorities are engaged, the outto say. It is only at intervals that the clamour I breakings of popular violence unconnected with any extensive project or any durable prin contents which have agitated the country dur. ciple, are best repressed by vigour and decision. ing the late and the present rèign, and which, To shrink from them is to make them formida- though not always noisy, are never wholly ble. But no wise ruler will confound the per- dormant, will again break forth with aggravated vading taint with the slight local irritation. symptoms, is almost as certain as that the tides No wise ruler will treat the deeply-seated dis- and seasons will follow their appointed course. contents of a great party as he treats the con- But in all movements of the human mind duct of a mob which destroys mills and power- which tend to great revolutions, there is a crilooms. The neglect of this distinction has sis at which moderate concession may amend, been fatal even to governments strong in the conciliate, and preserve. Happy will it be for power of the sword. The present time is in England if, at that crisis, her interests be condeed a time of peace and order. But it is at fided to men for whom history has not recorded such a time that fools are most thoughtless, the long series of human crimes and follies in and wise men most thoughtful. That the dis-Ivain.
SOUTHEY'S COLLOQUIES ON SOCIETY.*
[EDINBURGH Review, 1830.]
It would be scarcely possible for a man of Part of this description might, perhaps, Mr. Southey's talents and acquirements to write apply to a much greater man, Mr. Burke. But two volumes so large as those before us, which Mr. Burke, assuredly possessed an understandshould be wholly destitute of information and ing admirably fitted for the investigation of amusement. Yet we do not remember to have truth—an understanding stronger than that of read with so little satisfaction any equal quan- any statesman, active or speculative, of the tity of matter, written by any man of real abili- eighteenth century-stronger than every thing, ties. We have, for some time past, observed except his own fierce and ungovernable sensiwith great regret the strange infatuation which | bility. Hence, he generally chose his side like leads the Poet-laureate to abandon those de-a fanatic, and defended it like a philosopher. partments of literature in which he might ex- His conduct, in the most important events of cel, and to lecture the public on sciences of his life, at the time of the impeachment of which he has still the very alphabet to learn. Hastings, for example, and at the time of the He has now, we think, done his worst. The sub- French Revolution, seems to have been prompiject, which he has at last undertaken to treat, ised by those feelings and motives which Mr. one which demands all the highest intellectual Coleridge has so happily described : and moral qualities of a philosophical states
“ Stormy pity, and the cherish'd lure man-an understanding at once comprehen
of pomp, and proud precipitance of soul.” sive and acute-a heart at once upright and
Hindostan, with its vast cities, its gorgeous charitable. Mr. Southey brings to the task two faculties which were never, we believe, vouch- pagodas, its infinite swarms of dusky popula. safed in measure so copious to any human be- tion, its long-descended dynasties, its stately ing; the faculty of believing without a reason, imaginative, and so susceptible, the most in
etiquette, excited in a mind so capacious, so and the faculty of hating without a provoca- tense interest. The peculiarities of the costume, tion.
It is, indeed, most extraordinary that a mind of the manners, and of the laws, the very myslike Mr. Southey's, a mind richly endowed in tery, which hung over the language and origin many respects by nature and highly cultivated of the people seized his imagination. To plead by study, a mind which has exercised con- in Westminster Hall, in the name of the English siderable influence on the most enlightened people, at the bar of the English nobles, for generation of the most enlightened people that great nations and kings separated from him
by ever existed, should be utterly destitute of the half the world, seemed to him the height of hupower of discerning truth from falsehood. Yet man glory. Again, it is not difficult to perceive, such is the fact. Government is to Mr. Southey cipally arose from the vexation which he felt,
that his hostility to the French Revolution prin. one of the fine arts. He judges of a theory or at having all his old political associations disa public measure, of a religion, a political turbed, at seeing the well-known boundary, party, a peace or a war, as men judge of a pic marks of states obliterated, and the names and ture or a statue, by the effect produced on his distinctions
with which the history of Europe imagination. A chain of associations is to him had been filled for ages, swept away: He felt what a chain of reasoning is to other men; like an antiquary whose shield had been and what he calls his opinions, are in fact scoured, or a connoisseur who found his Ti merely his tastes.
tian retouched. But however he came by an • Sir Thomas More; of Colloquics on the Progress and best to make out a legitimate tit!e tv it. Hir
opinion, he had no sooner got it than he did his Prospects of Society. By ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq., LL.D.
reason, like a spirit in the service of an en.
Poet Laureate. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1829.
chanter, though spell-bound, was still mighty. therefore an advantage to him to be furnished It did whatever work his passions and his with an outline of characters and events, and imagination might impose. But it did that to have no other task to perform than that of work, however arduous, with marvellous dex- touching the cold sketch into life. No writer, terity and vigour. His course was not de- perhaps, ever lived, whose talents so precisely termined by argument; but he could defend qualified him to write the history of the great the wildest course by arguments more plausi- naval warrior. There were no fine riddles of ble than those by which common men support the human heart to read, no theories to found, opinions which they have adopted, after the no hidden causes to develope, no remote con. fullest deliberation. Reason has scarcely ever sequences to predict. The character of the displayed, even in those well-constituted minds hero lay on the surface. The exploits were of which she occupies the throne, so much brilliant and picturesque. The necessity of power and energy as in the lowest offices of adhering to the real course of events saved Mr. that imperial servitude.
Southey from those faults which deform the Now, in the mind of Mr. Southey, reason has original plan of almost every one of his poems, no place at all, as either leader or follower, as and which even his innumerable beauties of either sovereign or slave. He does not seem detail scarcely redeem. The subject did not reto know what an argument is. He never uses quire the exercise of those reasoning powers arguments himself. He never troubles himself the want of which is the blemish of his prose. to answer the arguments of his opponents. It It would not be easy to find, in all literary his. has never occurred to him, that a man ought tory, an instance of a more exact hit between to be able to give some better account of the wind and water. John Wesley, and the Penin. way in which he has arrived at his opinions, sular War, were subjects of a very different than merely that it is his will and pleasure to kind, subjects which required all the qualities hold them, that there is a difference between of a philosophic historian. In Mr. Southey's assertion and demonstration, that a rumour works on these subjects, he has, on the whole, does not always prove a fact, that a fact does failed. Yet there are charming specimens of not always prove a theory, that two contradic- the art of narration in both of them. The Life tory propositions cannot be undeniable truths, of Wesley will probably live. Defective as it that to beg the question is not the way to set is, it contains the only popular account of a tle it, or that when an objection is raised, it most remarkable moral revolution, and of a man ought to met with something more convincing whose eloquence and logical acuteness might than “scoundrel” and “blockhead."
have rendered him eminent in literature, whose It would be absurd to read the works of such | genius for government was not inferior to that a writer for political instruction. The utmost of Richelieu, and who, whatever his errors may that can be expected from any system promul. have been, devoted all his powers, in defiance gated by him is, that it may be splendid and of obloquy and derision, to what he sincerely affecting, that it may suggest sublime and considered as the highest good of his species. pleasing images. His scheme of philosophy is The History of the Peninsular War is already a mere daydream, a poetical creation, like the dead: indeed the second volume was dead. Domdaniel caverns, the Swerga, or Padalon; born. The glory of producing an imperishable and, indeed, it bears no inconsiderable resem- record of that great conflict seems to be reblance to those gorgeous visions. Like them served for Colonel Napier. it has something of invention, grandeur, and The Book of the Church contains some sto. brilliancy. But, like them, it is grotesque and ries very prettily told. The rest is mere rubextravagans, and perpetually violates that con- bish. The adventure was manifestly one ventional probability which is essential to the which could be achieved only by a profound effect even of works of art.
thinker, and in which even a profound thinker The warmest admirers of Mr. Southey will might have failed, unless his passions had scarcely, we think, deny that his success has been kept under strict control. "In all those almost always borne an inverse proportion to works in which Mr. Southey has completely the degree in which his undertakings have re- abandoned narration, and undertaken to argue quired a logical head. His poems, taken in moral and political questions, his failure has the mass, stand far higher than his prose been complete and ignominious. On such works. The Laureate Odes, indeed, among occasions his writings are rescued from utter which the Vision of Judgment must be classed, contempt and derision, solely by the beauty are, for the most part, worse than Pye's and as and purity of the English. We find, we con. bad as Cibber's; nor do we think him generally fess, so great a charm in Mr. Southey's style, happy in short pieces. But his longer poems, that, even when he writes nonsense, we gethough full of faults, are nevertheless very ex- nerally read it with pleasure, except indeed Traordinary productions. We doubt greatly when he tries to be droll
. A more insuffera. whether they will be read fifty years hence; ble jester never existed. He very often atbut that if they are read, they will be admired, tempts to be humorous, and yet we do not we have no doubt whatever.
remember a single occasion on which he has But though in genera! we prefer Mr. Sou- succeeded farther than to be quaintly and flipthey's pnetry to his prose, we must make one pantly dull. In one of his works, he tells us exception. The Life of Nelson is, beyond all that Bishop Sprat was very properly so called, duabi, the most perfect and the most delightful inasmuch as he was a very small poet. And of his works. The fact is, as his poems most in the book now before us, he cannot quote Abundantly prove, that he is by no means so Francis Bugg without a remark on his unsa. skilful in designing as filling up. It was vory name. A man might talk folly like this