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stories intended to ruin an innocent girl, stories which had no foundation, and which, if they had been true, would never have passed the lips of a man of honour. A dead child is found in the palace, the offspring of some maid of honour, by some courtier, or perhaps by Charles himself. The whole flight of panders and buffoons pounce upon it, and carry it in triumph to the royal laboratory, where his majesty, after a brutal jest, dissects it for the amusement of the assembly, and probably of its father among the rest! The favourite duchess stamps about Whitehall, cursing and swearing. The ministers employ their time at the council-board in making mouths at each other, and taking off each other's gestures for the amusement of the king. The peers at a conference begin to pommel each other, and to tear collars and periwigs. A speaker in the House of Commons gives offence to the court. He is waylaid by a gang of bullies, and his nose is cut to the bone. This ignominious dissoluteness, or rather, if we may venture to designate it by the only proper word, blackguardism of feelings and manners, could not but spread from private to public life. The cynical sneers, the epicurean sophistry, which had driven honour and virtue from one part of the character, extended their influence over every other. The second generation of the statesmen of this reign were worthy pupils of the schools in which they had been trained, of the gaming-table of Grammont, and the tiring-room of Nell. In no other age could such a trifler as Buckingham have exercised any political influence. In no other age could the path to power and glory have been thrown open to the manifold infamies of Churchill.
The history of that celebrated man shows, more clearly perhaps than that of any other individual, the malignity and extent of the corruption which had eaten into the heart of the public morality. An English gentleman of family attaches himself to a prince who has seduced his sister, and accepts rank and wealth as the price of her shame and his own. He then repays by ingratitude the benefits which he has purchased by ignominy, betrays his patron in a manner which the best cause cannot excuse, and commits an act, not only of private treachery, but of distinct military desertion. To his conduct, at the crisis of the fate of James, no service in modern times has, as far as we remember, furnished any parallel. The conduct of Ney, scandalous enough no doubt, is the very fastidiousness of honour in comparison of it. The perfidy of Arnold approaches it most nearly. In our age and country no talents, no services, no party attachments, could bear any man up under such mountains of infamy. Yet, even before Churchili had performed those great actions, which in some degree redeem his character with posterity, the load lay very lightly on him. He had others in abundance to keep him counterance. Godolphin, Oxford, Danby, the trim
* The manner in which Hamilton relates the circumDances of the atrocious plot against poor Ann Hyde is,
f possible, more disgraceful to the court, of which he may be considered as a specimen, than the plot itself.
mer Halifax, the renegade Sunderland, were all men of the same class.
Where such was the political morality of the noble and the wealthy, it may easily be conceived that those professions which, even in the best times, are peculiarly liable to corruption, were in a frightful state. Such a bench and such a bar England has never seen. Jones, Scroggs, Jeffries, North, Wright, Sawyer, Williams, Shower, are to this day the spots and blemishes of our legal chronicles. Differing in constitution and in situation, whether blustering or cringing, whether persecuting Protestants or Catholics, they were equally unprincipled and inhuman. The part which the church played was not equally atrocious; but it must have been exquisitely diverting to a scoffer. Never were principles so loudly professed, and so flagrantly abandoned. The royal prerogative had been magnified to the skies in theological works; the doctrine of passive obedience had been preached from innumerable pulpits. The University of Oxford had sentenced the works of the most moderate constitutionalists to the flames. The accession of a Catholic king, the frightful cruelties committed in the West of England, never shook the steady loyalty of the clergy. But did they serve the king for naught? He laid his hand on them, and they cursed him to his face. He touched the revenue of a college and the iiberty of some prelates, and the whole profession set up a yell worthy of Hugh Peters himself. Oxford sent its plate to an invader with more alacrity than she had shown when Charles the First requested it. Nothing was said about the wickedness of resistance till resistance had done its work, till the anointed vicegerent of heaven had been driven away, and it had become plain that he would never be restored, or would be restored at least under strict limitations. The clergy went back, it must be owned, to their old theory, as soon as they found that it would do them no harm.
To the general haseness and profligacy of the times, Clarendon is principally indebted for his high reputation. He was, in every respect, a man unfit for his age, at once too good for it and too bad for it. He seemed to be one of the statesmen of Elizabeth, transplanted at once to a state of society widely different from that in which the abilities of such statesmen had been serviceable. In the sixteenth century, the royal prerogative had scarcely been called in question. A minister who held it high was in no danger, so long as he used it well. The attachment to the crown, that extreme jealousy of popular encroach ments, that love, half religious, half political, for the church, which, from the beginning of the Long Parliament, showed itself in Clarendon, and which his sufferings, his long resi dence in France, and his high station in the government, served to strengthen, would, a hundred years earlier, have secured to him the favour of his sovereign without rendering him odious to the people. His probity, his correctness in private life, his decency of deportment, and his general ability, would not have misbe come a colleague of Walsingham and Bur.
leigh. But in the times on which he was cast, or rather pirates. The strongest aversion his errors and his virtues were alike out of which he can feel to any foreign power is the place. He imprisoned men without trial. He ardour of friendship, compared with the loath was accused of raising unlawful contributions ing which he entertains towards those domeson the people for the support of the army. The tic foes with whom he is cooped up in a narrow abolition of the Triennial Act was one of his space, with whom he lives in a constant interfavourite objects. He seems to have meditated change of petty injuries and insults, and from the revival of the Star-Chamber and the High whom, in the day of their success, he has to Commission Court. His zeal for the preroga- expect severities far beyond any that a contive made him unpopular; but it could not queror from a distant country would inflict. secure to him the favour of a master far more Thus, in Greece, it was a point of honour for a desirous of ease and pleasure than of power. man to leave his country and cleave to his Charles would rather have lived in exile and party. No aristocratical citizen of Samos or privacy, with abundance of money, a crowd Corcyra would have hesitated to call in the aid of mimics to amuse him, and a score of mis- of Lacedæmon. The maltitude, on the contresses, than have purchased the absolute trary, looked to Athens. In the Italian states dominion of the world by the privations and of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, from exertions to which Clarendon was constantly the same cause, no man was so much a Flourging him. A councillor who was always rentine or a Pisan, as a Ghibeline or a Guelf. bringing him papers and giving him advice, It may be doubted whether there was a single and who stoutly refused to compliment Lady individual who would have scrupled to raise Castlemaine and to carry messages Miss his party from a state of depression, by openStewart, soon became more hateful to himing the gates of his native city to a French or than ever Cromwell had been. Thus consi- an Arragonese force. The Reformation, didered by the people as an oppressor, by the viding almost every European country into court as a censor, the minister fell from his two parts, produced similar effects. The Cahigh office, with a ruin more violent and tholic was too strong for the Englishman: the destructive than could ever have been his fate, Huguenot for the Frenchman. The Protestant if he had either respected the principles of the statesmen of Scotland and France accordingly constitution, or flattered the vices of the king. called in the aid of Elizabeth; and the Papists Mr. Hallam has formed, we think, a most of the League brought a Spanish army into the correct estimate of the character and adminis- very heart of France. The commotions to tration of Clarendon. But he scarcely makes which the French Revolution gave rise have sufficient allowance for the wear and tear been followed by the same consequences. The which honesty almost necessarily sustains in republicans in every part of Europe were the friction of political life, and which, in eager to see the armies of the National Con times so rough as those through which Claren-vention and the Directory appear among them; don passed, must be very considerable. When and exulted in defeats which distressed and these are fairly estimated, we think that his humbled those whom they considered as their integrity may be allowed to pass muster. A worst enemies, their own rulers. The princes highminded man he certainly was not, either and nobles of France, on the other hand, did in public or in private affairs. His own ac- their utmost to bring foreign invaders to Paris. count of his conduct in the affair of his daugh- A very short time has elapsed since the Apos ter is the most extraordinary passage in auto-tolical party in Spain invoked, too success. biography. We except nothing even in the fully, the support of strangers. Confessions of Rousseau. Several writers have taken a perverted and absurd pride in representing themselves as detestable; but no other ever laboured hard to make himself despicable and ridiculous. In one important particular, Clarendon showed as little regard to the honour of his country as he had shown to that of his family. He accepted a subsidy from France for the relief of Portugal. But this method of obtaining money was afterwards practised to a much greater extent, and for cbjects much less respectable, both by the Court and by the Opposition.
The great contest, which raged in England during the seventeenth century and the earlier part of the eighteenth, extinguished, not indeed in the body of the people, but in those classes which were most actively engaged in politics, almost all national feelings. Charles the Se cond and many of his courtiers had passed a large part of their lives in banishment, serv. ing in foreign armies, living on the bounty of foreign treasuries, soliciting foreign aid to re-establish monarchy in their native country. The oppressed Cavaliers in England constantly looked to France and Spain for deliverance and revenge. Clarendon censures the Continental governments with great bitterness for not interfering in our internal dissensions. During the protectorate, not only the royalists, but the disaffected of all parties, appear to have been desirous of assistance from abroad. It is not strange, therefore, that amidst the fu. rious contests which followed the Restoration, the violence of party feeling should produce effects, which would probably have attended it even in an age less distinguished by laxity of principle and indelicacy of sentiment. It was not till a natural death had terminated the
These pecuniary transactions are commonly considered as the most disgraceful part of the history of those times; and they were no doubt highly reprehensible. Yet, in justice to the Whigs, and to Charles himself, we must admit that they were not so shameful or atrocious as at the present day they appear. The effect of violent animosities between parties has always been an indifference to the general welfare and honour of the state. A politician, where factions run high, is interested, not for the whole people, but for his own section of it. The rest are, in his view, strangers, enemies,
paralytic old age of the Jacobite party, that the tal laws of the country, who had attacked the evil was completely at an end. The Whigs rights of its greatest corporations, who had looked to Holland; the High Tories to France. begun to persecute the established religion of The former concluded the Barrier Treaty; the state, who had never respected the law some of the latter entreated the court of Ver- either in his superstition or in his revenge, sailles to send an expedition to England. could not be pulled down without the aid of a Many men who, however erroneous their poli- foreign army, is a circumstance not very tical notions might be, were unquestionably grateful to our national pride. Yet this is the honourable in private life, accepted money least degrading part of the story. The shame. without scruple from the foreign powers fa- less insincerity, the warm assurances of genevourable to the Pretender. ral support which James received down to the moment of general desertion, indicate a meanness of spirit and a looseness of morality most disgraceful to the age. That the enterprise succeeded, at least that it succeeded without bloodshed or commotion, was principally owing to an act of ungrateful perfidy, such as no soldier had ever before committed, and to those monstrous fictions respecting the birth of the Prince of Wales, which persons of the highest rank were not ashamed to circulate. In all the proceedings of the Convention, in the conference particularly, we see that littleness of mind which is the chief characteristic of the times. The resolutions on which the two Houses at last agreed were as bad as any resolutions for so excellent a purpose could be. Their feeble and contradictory language was evidently intended to save the credit of the Tories, who were ashamed to name what they were not ashamed to do. Through the whole transaction, no commanding talents were displayed by any Englishman; no extraordinary risks were run; no sacrifices were made, except the sacrifice which Churchill made of honour, and Anne of natural affection.
Never was there less of national feeling among the higher orders, than during the reign of Charles the Second. That prince, on the one side, thought it better to be the deputy of an absolute king, than the king of a free people. Algernon Sydney, on the other hand, would gladly have aided France in all her ambitious schemes, and have seen England reduced to the condition of a province, in the wild hope that a foreign despot would assist him to establish his darling republic. The king took the money of France to assist him in the enterprise which he meditated against the liberty of his subjects, with as little scruple as Frederic of Prussia or Alexander of Russia accepted our subsidies in time of war. The leaders of the Opposition no more thought themselves disgraced by the presents of Louis, than a gentleman of our own time thinks himself disgraced by the liberality of a powerful and wealthy member of his party who pays his election bill. The money which the king received from France had been largely employed to corrupt members of Parliament. The enemies of the court might think it fair, or even absolutely necessary, to encounter bribery with bribery. Thus they took the French gratuities, the needy among them for their own use, the rich probably for the general purposes of the party, without any scruple. If we compare their conduct, not with that of English statesmen in our own time, but with that of persons in those foreign countries which are now situated as England then was, we shall probably see reason to abate something of the severity of censure with which it has been the fashion to visit those proceedings. Yet, when every allowance is made, the transaction is sufficiently offensive. It is satisfactory to find that Lord Russel stands free from any imputation of personal participation in the spoil. An age, so miserably poor in all the moral qualities which render public characters respectable, can ill spare the credit which it derives from a man, not indeed conspicuous for talents or knowledge, but honest even in his errors, respectable in every relation of life, rationally pious, steadily and placidly brave.
The great improvement which took place in our breed of public men is principally to be ascribed to the Revolution. Yet that memorable event, in a great measure, took its character from the very vices which it was the means of reforming. It was, assuredly, a happy revolution, and a useful revolution; but it was not, what it has often been called, a glorious revolution. William, and William alone, derived glory from it. The transaction was, in almost every part, discreditable to England. That a tvrant, who had violated the fundamen
It was in some sense fortunate, as we have already said, for the Church of England, that the Reformation in this country was effected by men who cared little about religion. And, in the same manner, it was fortunate for our civil government that the Revolution was in a great measure effected by men who cared little about their political principles. At such a crisis, splendid talents and strong passions might have done more harm than good. There was far greater reason to fear that too much would be attempted, and that violent movements would produce an equally violent reac tion, than that too little would be done in the way of change. But narrowness of intellect and flexibility of principles, though they may be serviceable, can never be respectable.
If in the Revolution itself there was little that can properly be called glorious, there was still less in the events which followed. In a church which had as one man declared the doctrine of resistance unchristian, only four hundred persons refused to take the oath of allegiance to a government founded on resistance! In the preceding generation, both the Episcopal and the Presbyterian clergy, rather than concede points of conscience not more important had resigned their livings by thousands.
The churchmen, at the time of the Revolu tion, justified their conduct by all those profligate sophisms which are called jesuitical, and which are commonly reckoned among the peculiar sins of Popery; but which in fact are everywhere the anodyLes employed by minds
rather subtle than strong, to quiet those internal twinges which they cannot but feel, and which they will not obey. As their oath was in the teeth of their principles, so was their conduct in the teeth of their oath. Their constant machinations against the government to which they had sworn fidelity, brought a reproach on their order, ard on Christianity itself. A distinguished churchman has not scrupled to say, that the rapid increase of infidelity at that time was principally produced by the disgust, which the faithless conduct of his brethren excited, in men not sufficiently candid or judicious, to discern the beauties of the system amidst the vices of its ministers.
But the reproach was not confined to the church. In every political party, in the cabinet itself, duplicity and perfidy abounded. The very men whom William loaded with benefits, and in whom he reposed most confidence, with his seals of office in their hands, kept up a correspondence with the exiled family. Oxford, Carmarthen, and Shrewsbury were guilty of this odious treachery. Even Devonshire is not altogether free from suspicion. It may well be conceived that at such a time such a nature as that of Marlborough would riot in the very luxury of baseness. His former treason, thoroughly furnished with all that makes infariy exquisite, placed him indeed under the disadvantage which attends every artist from the time that he produces a masterpiece. Yet his second great stroke may excite wonder, even in those who appreciate all the merit of the first. Lest his admirers should be able to say that at the time of the Revolution he had betrayed his king from any other than selfish motives, he proceeded to betray his country. He sent intelligence to the French court of a secret expedition intended to attack Brest. The consequence was that the expedition failed, and that eight hundred British soldiers lost their lives from the abandoned villany of a British general. Yet this man has been canonized by so many eminent writers, that to speak of him as he deserves may seem scarcely decent. To us he seems to be the very San Ciappelletto of the political calendar.
The reign of William the Third, as Mr. Hallam happily says, was the nadir of the national prosperity. It was also the nadir of the national character. During that period was gathered in the rank harvest of vices sown during thirty years of licentiousness and confusion; but it was also the seed-time of great virtues.
The press was emancipated from the censorship soon after the Revolution, and the government fell immediately under the censorship of the ress. Statesmen had a scrutiny to endure which was every day becoming more and more severe. The extreme violence of opinions abated. The Whigs learned moderation in office; the Tories learned the principles of liberty in opposition. The parties almost constantly approximated, often met, sometimes crossed each other. There were occasional bursts of violence; but from the time of the Revolution those bursts were constantly becoming less and less terrible. The severities with which the Tories, at the close of the reign of
Anne, treated some of those who had directed public affairs during the war of the Grand Alliance, and the retaliatory measures of the Whigs after the accession of the house of Ha nover, cannot be justified; but they were by no means in the style of the infuriated parties whose alternate murders had disgraced our history towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second. At the fall of Walpole far greater moderation was displayed. And from that time it has been the practice-a practice not strictly according to the theory of our constitution, but still most salutary-to consider the loss of office and the public disapprobation as punishments sufficient for errors in the administration not imputable to personal corruption. Nothing, we believe, has contributed more than this le nity to raise the character of public men. Ambition is of itself a game sufficiently hazardous and sufficiently deep to inflame the passions, without adding property, life, and liberty to the stake. Where the play runs so desperately high as in the seventeenth century, honour is at an end. Statesmen, instead of being as they should be, at once mild and steady, are at once ferocious and inconsistent. The axe is forever before their eyes. A popular outcry sometimes unnerves them, and sometimes makes them desperate; it drives them to unworthy compliances, or to measures of vengeance as cruel as those which they have reason to expect. A minister in our times need not fear either to be firm or to be merciful. Our old policy in this respect was as absurd as that of the king in the Eastern Tales, who proclaimed that any physician who pleased might come to court and prescribe for his disease, but that if the remedies failed the adventurer should lose his head. It is easy to conceive how many able men would refuse to undertake the cure on such conditions; how much the sense of extreme danger would confuse the perceptions and cloud the intellect of the practitioner at the very crisis which most called for self-possession, and how strong his temptation would be, if he found that he had committed a blunder, to escape the consequences of it by poisoning his patient.
But in fact it would have been impossible, since the Revolution, to punish any minister for the general course of his policy with the slightest semblance of justice; for since that time no minister has been able to pursue any general course of policy without the approbation of the Parliament. The most important effects of that great change were, as Mr. Hallam has most truly said and most ably shown, those which it indirectly produced. Thenceforward it became the interest of the executive government to protect those very doctrines which an executive government is in general inclined to persecute. The sovereign, the ministers, the courtiers, at last even the universities and the clergy, were changed into advocates of the right of resistance. In the theory of the Whigs, in the situation of the Tories, the common interest of all public men, the Partia mentary constitution of the country found per fect security. The power of the House of Commons, in particular, has been steadily on the increase. By the practice of granting sup
plies for short terms, and appropriating them to particular services, it has rendered its approbation as necessary in practice to all the measures of the executive government as it is in theory to a legislative act.
purchased so dearly, was on every side extolled and worshipped. Even those distinc tions of party, which must almost always be found in a free state, could scarcely be traced. The two great bodies which from the time of the Revolution had been gradually tending to approximation, were now united in emulous support of that splendid administration which smote to the dust both the branches of the house of Bourbon. The great battle for our ecclesiastical and civil polity had been fought and won. The wounds had been healed. The victors and the vanquished were rejoicing together. Every person acquainted with the political writers of the last generation will recollect the terms in which they generally speak of that time. It was a glimpse of a golden age of union and glory-a short interval of rest which had been preceded by centuries of agitation, and which centuries of agitation were destined to follow.
In the reign of Henry the Seventh, all the political differences which had agitated England since the Norman conquest seemed to be set at rest. The long and fierce struggle between the crown and the barons had terminated. The grievances which had produced the rebellions of Tyler and Cade had disappeared. Villanage was scarcely known. The two royal houses whose conflicting claims had long convulsed the kingdom were at length united. The claimants whose pretensions, just or unjust, had disturbed the new settlement were overthrown. In religion there was no open dissent, and probably very little secret heresy. The old subjects of contention, in short, had vanished; those which were to succeed had not yet appeared.
How soon faction again began to ferment, is well known. In the Letters of Junius, in Burke's Thoughts on the Cause of the Discon tents, and in many other writings of less merit, the violent dissensions, which speedily convulsed the country, are imputed to the system of favouritism which George the Third introduced, to the influence of Bute, or the profligacy of those who called themselves the king's friends. With all deference to the eminent writers to whom we have referred, we may venture to say that they lived too near the events of which they treated, to judge of them correctly. The schism which was then appearing in the nation, and which has been from that time almost constantly widening, had little in common with those which had divided it during the reigns of the Tudors and the Stuarts. The symptoms of popular feeling, indeed, will always in a great measure be the same; but the principle which excited thas feeling was here new. The support which was given to Wilkes, the clamour for reform during the American war, the disaffected conduct of large classes of people at the time of the French Revolution, no more resembled the opposition which had been offered to the go
Soon, however, new principles were announced; principles which were destined to keep England during two centuries and a half in a state of commotion. The Reformation divided the people into two great parties. The Protestants were victorious. They again sub-vernment of Charles the Second, than that op divided 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 senemerged into the light of public life. First sation is often referred to a part widely differ came 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, sinsevere 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 toleration 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 to the House of Commeda
Mr. Hallam appears to have begun with the reign of Henry the Seventh, as the period at which what is called modern history, in contradistinction to the history of the middle ages, is generally supposed to commence. He has stopped at the accession of George the Third, "from unwillingness,” as he says, "to excite the prejudices of modern politics, especially those connected with personal character." These two eras, we think, deserved the distinction on other grounds. Our remote posterity, when looking back on our history in that comprehensive manner in which remote posterity alone can without much danger of error look back on it, will probably observe those points with peculiar interest. They are, if we mistake not, the beginning and the end of an entire and separate chapter in our annals. The period which lies between them is a perfect cycle, a great year of the public mind.