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their ideas of the old French monarchy. They have read Burke, till their fancies are somewhat heated with the picturesque image of tempered royalty and polished aristocracy, which he has held out in his splendid pictures of France as it was before the revolution; and have been so long accustomed to contrast those comparatively happy and prosperous days, with the horrors and vulgar atrocities that ensued, that they forget the many real evils and oppressions of which that brilliant monarchy was productive, and think that the succeeding abominations cannot be completely expiated till it be restored as it originally
the Prince had thrown himself entirely into the hands of those bigotted emigrants, who affect to be displeased with his acceptance of a limited crown. In their eyes, the thing would have been more complete, if the noblesse had been restored at once to all their feudal privileges, and the church to its ancient endowments. And we cannot help suspecting, that they think the loss of those vain and oppressive trappings, but ill compensated by the increased dignity and worth of the whole population, by the equalisation of essential rights, and the provision made for the free enjoyment of life, property, and conscience, by the great body of the people.
Perhaps we exaggerate a little in our rep- All these, and we believe many other illuresentation of sentiments in which we do not sions of a similar nature, slight and fanciful at all concur:-But, certainly, in conversa- as they may appear, contribute largely, we tion and in common newspapers-those light have no doubt, to that pardonable feeling of straws that best show how the wind sits dislike to the limitation of the old monarchy, one hears and sees, every day, things that which we conceive to be very discernible in approach at least to the spirit we have at- a certain part of our population. The great tempted to delineate, and afford no slight source of that feeling, however, and that presumption of the prevalence of such opin- which gives root and nourishment to all the ions as we lament. In lamenting them, how-rest, is the Ignorance which prevails in this ever, we would not indiscriminately blame. country, both of the evils of arbitrary govern-They are not all to be ascribed to a spirit ment, and of the radical change the feelof servility, or a disregard of the happiness ings and opinions of the Continent, which has of mankind. Here, as in other heresies, there rendered it no longer practicable in its more is an intermixture of errors that are to be enlightened quarters. Our insular situation, pardoned, and principles that are to be re- and the measure of freedom we enjoy, have spected. There are patriotic prejudices, and done us this injury; along with the infinite illusions of the imagination, and misconcep- good of which they have been the occasions. tions from ignorance, at the bottom of this We do not know either the extent of the misery unnatural antipathy to freedom in the citizens and weakness produced by tyranny, or the of a free land; as well as more sordid inter- force and prevalence of the conviction which ests, and more wilful perversions. Some has recently arisen, where they are best known, sturdy Englishmen are staunch for our mo- that they are no longer to be tolerated. On nopoly of liberty; and feel as if it was an the Continent, experience has at last done insolent invasion of British privileges, for any far more to enlighten public opinion upon other nation to set up a free constitution! these subjects, than reflection and reasoning Others apprehend serious dangers to our great- in this Island. There, nations have been ness, if this mainspring and fountain of our found irresistible, when the popular feeling prosperity be communicated to other lands.- was consulted; and absolutely impotent and A still greater proportion, we believe, are in- indefensible where it had been outraged and fluenced by considerations yet more fantasti- disregarded: And this necessity of consulting cal. They have been so long used to consider the general opinion, has led, on both sides, to the old government of France as the perfect a great relaxation of many of the principles model of a feudal monarchy, softened and on which they originally went to issue. adorned by the refinements of modern society, that they are quite sorry to part with so fine a specimen of chivalrous manners and institutions; and look upon it, with all its characteristic and imposing accompaniments, of a brilliant and warlike nobility, -a gallant court, a gorgeous hierarchy,- -a gay and familiar vassalage, with the same sort of feelings with which they would be apt to regard the sump-cratical innovation on the other, we are apt tuous pageantry and splendid solemnities of still to look upon the parties to that contest, the Romish ritual. They are very good Pro- as occupying nearly the same positions, and testants themselves; and know too well the maintaining the same principles, they did at value of religious truth and liberty, to wish the beginning; while those who have been for any less simple, or more imposing system nearer to the scene of action, or themselves at home; but they have no objection that it partakers of the fray, are aware that, in the should exist among their neighbours, that course of that long conflict, each party has their taste may be gratified by the magnificent been obliged to recede from some of its prespectacles it affords, and their imaginations tensions, and to admit, in some degree, the warmed with the ideas of venerable and justice of those that are made against it. pompous antiquity, which it is so well fitted Here, where we have been but too apt to conto suggest. The case is nearly the same with sider the mighty game which has been play
Of this change in the terms of the question-and especially of the great abatement which it had been found necessary to make in the pretensions of the old governments, we were generally but little aware in this country. Spectators as we have been of the distant and protracted contest between ancient institutions and authorities on the one hand, and demo
ing in our sight, and partly at our expense, as an occasion for exercising our own party animosities, or seeking illustrations for our peculiar theories of government, we are still as diametrically opposed, and as keen in our hostilities, as ever. The controversy with us being in a great measure speculative, would lose its interest and attraction, if anything like a compromise were admitted; and we choose, therefore, to shut our eyes to the great and visible approximation into which time, and experience, and necessity have forced the actual combatants. We verily believe, that, except in the imaginations of English politicians, there no longer exist in the world any such aristocrats and democrats as actually divided all Europe in the early days of the French revolution. In this country, however, we still speak and feel as if they existed; and the champions of aristocracy in particular, continue, with very few exceptions, both to maintain pretensions that their principals have long ago abandoned, and to impute to their adversaries, crimes and absurdities with which they have long ceased to be chargeable. To them, therefore, no other alternative has yet presented itself but the absolute triumph of one or other of two opposite and irreconcileable extremes. Whatever is taken from the sovereign, they consider as being necessarily given to crazy republicans; and very naturally dislike all limitations of the royal power, because they are unable to distinguish them from usurpations by the avowed enemies of all subordination. That the real state of things has long been extremely different, men of reflection might have concluded from the known principles of human nature, and men of information must have learned from sources of undoubted authority: But no small proportion of our zealous politicians belong to neither of those classes; and we ought not, perhaps, to wonder, if they are slow in admitting truths which a predominating party has so long thought it for its interest to misrepresent or disguise. The time, however, seems almost come, when conviction must be forced even upon their reluctant understandings,—and by the sort of evidence best suited to their capacity. They would probably be little moved by the best arguments that could be addressed to them, and might distrust the testimony of ordinary observers; but they cannot well refuse to yield to the opinions of the great Sovereigns of the Continent, and must even give faith to their professions, when they find them confirmed at all points by their actions. If the establishment of a limited monarchy in France would be dangerous to sovereign authority in all the adjoining regions, it is not easy to conceive that it should have met with the cordial approbation of the Emperors of Austria and Russia, and the King of Prussia, in the day of their most brilliant success; or that that moment of triumph on the part of the old princes of Europe should have been selected as the period when the thrones of France, and Spain, and Holland, were to be surrounded with permanent limitations,-imposed with their cor
Such men no arguments will silence, and no authorities convert. It is their profession to discredit and oppose all that tends to promote the freedom of mankind; and in that vocation they will infallibly labour, so long as it yields them a profit. At the present moment, too, we have no doubt, that their zeal is quickened by their alarm; since, independent of the general damage which the cause of arbitrary government must sustain from the events of which we have been speaking, their immediate consequences in this country are likely to be eminently favourable to the interests of regulated liberty and temperate reform. Next to the actual cessation of bloodshed and suffering, indeed, we consider this to be the greatest domestic benefit that we are likely to reap from the peace, and the circumstance, in our new situation, which calls the loudest for our congratulation. We are perfectly aware, that it is a subject of regret to many patriotic individuals, that the brilliant successes at which we all rejoice, should have occurred under an administration which has not manifested any extraordinary dislike to abuses, nor any very cordial attachment to the rights and liberties of the people; and we know, that it has been an opinion pretty cur rent, both with them and their antagonists, that those successes will fix them so firmly in power, that they will be enabled, if they should dial assent, and we might almost say, by their | be so inclined, to deal more largely in abuses,
hands. Compared with acts so unequivocal, all declarations may justly be regarded as insignificant; but there are declarations also to the same purpose ;-made freely and deliberately on occasions of unparalleled importance, and for no other intelligible purpose bui solemnly to announce to mankind the generous principle on which those mighty actions had been performed.
But while these authorities and these considerations may be expected, in due time, to overcome that pardonable dislike to continental liberty which arises from ignorance or natural prejudices, we will confess that we by no means reckon on the total disappearance of this illiberal jealousy. There is, and we fear there will always be, among us, a set of persons who conceive it to be for their interest to decry every thing that is favourable to liberty, and who are guided only by a regard to their interest. In a government constituted like ours, the Court must almost always be more or less jealous, and perhaps justly, of the encroachment of popular principles, and disposed to show favour to those who would diminish the influence and authority of such principles. Without intending or wishing to render the British crown altogether arbitrary, it still seems to them to be in favour of its constitutional privileges, that arbitrary monarchies should, to a certain extent, be defended; and an artful apology for tyranny is gratefully received as an argument à fortiori in support of a vigorous prerogative. The leaders of the party, therefore, lean that way; and their baser followers rush clamorously along it-to the very brink of servile sedition, and treason against the constitution.
and to press more closely on our liberties, than any of their predecessors. For our own part, however, we have never been able to see things in this inauspicious light;—and having no personal or factious quarrel with our present ministers, are easily comforted for the increased chance of their continuance in office, by a consideration of those circumstances that must infallibly, under any ministry, operate to facilitate reform, to diminish the power of the Crown, and to consolidate the liberties of the nation. If our readers agree with us in our estimate of the importance of these circumstances, we can scarcely doubt that they will concur in our general conclusion.
In the first place, then, it is obvious, that the direct patronage and indirect influence of the Crown must be most seriously and effectnally abridged by the reduction of our army and navy, the diminution of our taxes, and, generally speaking, of all our establishments, upon the ratification of peace. We have thought it a great deal gained for the Constitution of late years, when we could strike off a few hundred thousand pounds of offices in the gift of the Crown, that had become useless, or might be consolidated ;-and now the peace will, at one blow, strike off probably thirty or forty millions of government expenditure, ordinary or extraordinary. This alone might restore the balance of the Constitution.
In the next place, a continuance of peace and prosperity will naturally produce a greater diffusion of wealth, and consequently a greater spirit of independence in the body of the people; which, co-operating with the diminished power of the government to provide for its baser adherents, must speedily thin the ranks of its regular supporters, and expose it far more effectually to the control of a weightier and more impartial public opinion.
In the third place, the events to which we have alluded, and the situation in which they will leave us, will take away almost all those pretexts for resisting inquiry into abuses, and proposals for reform, by the help of which, rather than of any serious dispute on the principle, these important discussions have been waived for these last twenty years. We shall no longer be stopped with the plea of its being no fit time to quarrel about the little faults of our Constitution, when we are struggling with a ferocious enemy for its very existence. It will not now do to tell us, that it is both dangerous and disgraceful to show ourselves disunited in a season of such imminent perilor that all great and patriotic minds should be entirely engrossed with the care of our safety, and can have neither leisure nor energy to bestow upon concerns less urgent or vital. The restoration of peace, on the contrary, will soon leave us little else to do:—and when we have no invasions nor expeditions-nor coalitions nor campaigns-nor even any loans and budgets to fill the minds of our statesmen, and the ears of our idle politicians, we think it almost certain that questions of reform will rise into paramount importance, and the redress of abuses become the most interesting of public pursuits. We shall be once more entitled,
too, to make a fair and natural appeal to the analogous acts or institutions of other nations, without being met with the cry of revolution and democracy, or the imputation of abetting the proceedings of a sanguinary despot. We shall again see the abuses of old hereditary power, and the evils of maladministration in legitimate hands; and be permitted to argue from them, without the reproach of disaffection to the general cause of mankind. Men and things, in short, we trust, will again receive their true names, on a fair consideration of their merits; and our notions of political desert be no longer confounded by indiscriminate praise of all who are with us, and intolerant abuse of all who are against us, in a struggle that touches the sources of so many passions. When we plead for the emancipation of the Catholics of Ireland, we shall no longer be told that the Pope is a mere puppet in the hands of an inveterate foe,-nor be deterred from protesting against the conflagration of a friendly capital, by the suggestion, that no other means were left to prevent that same foe from possessing himself of its fleet. Exceptions and extreme cases, in short, will no longer furnish the ordinary rules of our conduct; and it will be impossible, by extraneous arguments, to baffle every attempt at a fair estimate of our public principles and proceedings.
These, we think, are among the necessary consequences of a peace concluded in such circumstances as we have now been considering; and they are but a specimen of the kindred consequences to which it must infallibly lead. If these ensue, however, and are allowed to produce their natural effects, it is a matter of indifference to us whether Lord Castlereagh and Lord Liverpool, or Lord Grey and Lord Grenville are at the head of the government. The former, indeed, may probably be a little uneasy in so new a posture of affairs; but they will either conform to it, or abandon their posts in despair. To control or alter it, will assuredly be beyond their power.
With these pleasing anticipations, we would willingly close this long review of the State and Prospects of the European Commonwealth, in its present great crisis, of restoration, or of new revolutions. But, cheering and beautiful as it is, and disposed as we think we have shown ourselves to look hopefully upon it, it is impossible to shut our eyes on two dark stains that appear on the bright horizon, and seem already to tarnish the glories with which they are so sadly contrasted. One is of longer standing, and perhaps of deeper dye.-But both are most painful deformities on the face of so fair a prospect; and may be mentioned with less scruple and greater hope, from the consideration, that those who have now the power of effacing them can scarcely be charged with the guilt of their production, and have given strong indications of dispositions that must lead them to wish for their removal. We need scarcely give the key to these observations by naming the names of Poland and of Norway. Nor do we propose, on the present occasion, to do much more than to name them. Of the latter, we shall probably contrive to
speak fully on a future occasion. Of the former, many of our readers may think we have, on former occasions, said at least enough. Our zeal in that cause, we know, has been made matter of wonder, and even of derision, among certain persons who value themselves on the character of practical politicians and men of the world; and we have had the satisfaction of listening to various witty sneers on the mixed simplicity and extravagance of supposing, that the kingdom of the Poles was to be re-established by a dissertation in an English journal. It would perhaps be enough to state, that, independent of any view to an immediate or practical result in other regions, it is of some consequence to keep the observation of England alive, and its feelings awake, upon a subject of this importance: But we must beg leave to add, that such dissertations are humbly conceived to be among the legitimate means by which the English public both instructs and expresses itself; and that the opinion of the English public is still allowed to have weight with its government; which again cannot well be supposed to be altogether without influence in the councils of its allies.
Whatever becomes of Poland, it is most material, we think, that the people of this country should judge soundly, and feel rightly, on a matter that touches on principles of such general application. But every thing that has passed since the publication of our former remarks, combines to justify what we then stated; and to encourage us to make louder and more energetic appeals to the justice and prudence and magnanimity of the parties concerned in this transaction. The words and the deeds of Alexander that have, since that period, passed into the page of history-the principles he has solemnly professed, and the acts by which he has sealed that profession entitle us to expect from him a strain of justice and generosity, which vul. gar politicians may call romantic if they please, but which all men of high principles and enlarged understandings will feel to be not more heroic than judicious. While Poland remains oppressed and discontented, the peace of Europe will always be at the mercy of any ambitious or intriguing power that may think fit
to rouse its vast and warlike population with the vain promise of independence; while it is perfectly manifest that those, by whom alone that promise could be effectually kept, would gain prodigiously, both in security and in substantial influence, by its faithful performance. It is not, however, for the mere name of independence, nor for the lost glories of an ancient and honourable existence, that the people of Poland are thus eager to array themselves in any desperate strife of which this may be proclaimed as the prize. We have shown, in our last number, the substantial and intolerable evils which this extinction of their national dignity-this sore and unmerited wound to their national pride, has necessarily occasioned: And thinking, as we do, that a people without the feelings of national pride and public duty must be a people without energy and without enjoyments, we apprehend it to be at any rate indisputable, in the present instance, that the circumstances which have dissolved their political being, have struck also at the root of their individual happiness and prosperity; and that it is not merely the unjust destruction of an ancient kindom that we lament, but the condemnation of fifteen millions of human beings to unprofitable and unparalleled misery.
But though these are the considerations by which the feelings of private individuals are most naturally affected, it should never be forgotten, that all the principles on which the great fabric of national independence confessedly rests in Europe, are involved in the decision of this question; and that no one nation can be secure in its separate existence, if all the rest do not concur in disavowing the maxims which were acted upon in the partition of Poland. It is not only mournful to see the scattered and bleeding members of that unhappy state still palpitating and ago nising on the spot where it lately stood erect in youthful vigour and beauty; but it is unsafe to breathe the noxious vapours which this melancholy spectacle exhales, The whole. some neighbourhood is poisoned by their dif fusion; and every independence within their range, sickens and is endangered by the con. tagion,
Speech of the Right Hon. William Windham, in the House of Commons, May 26, 1809, on Mr. Curwen's Bill, "for better securing the Independence and Purity of Parliament, by preventing the procuring or obtaining of Seats by corrupt Practices." 8vo. pp. 43. London: 1810.*
MR. WINDHAM, the most high-minded and in selling seats in parliament openly to the incorruptible of living men, can see no harm highest bidder, or for excluding public trusts
* The passing of the Reform Bill has antiquated much of the discussion in this article, as originally written; and a considerable portion of it is now, for this reason, omitted. But it also contains answers to the systematic apologists of corruption, and op.
ponents of reform principles-which are applicable to all times, and all conditions of society; and of which recent events and discussions seem to show that the present generation may still need to be reminded.
pernicious and reprehensible of all political abuses.
generally from the money market; and is of opinion that political influence arising from property should be disposed of like other The natural influence of property is that property. It will be readily supposed that which results spontaneously from its ordinary we do not assent to any part of this doctrine; use and expenditure, and cannot well be mis and indeed we must beg leave to say, that to understood. That a man who spends a large us it is no sort of argument for the sale of income in the place of his residence-who seats, to contend that such a transference is subscribes handsomely for building bridges, no worse than the possession of the property hospitals, and assembly-rooms, and generally transferred; and to remind us, that he who to all works of public charity or accommodaobjects to men selling their influence, must tion in the neighbourhood-and who, morebe against their having it to sell. We are over, keeps the best table for the gentry, and decidedly against their having it-to sell! has the largest accounts with the tradesmen and, as to what is here considered as the-will, without thinking or caring about the necessary influence of property over elections, matter, acquire more influence, and find more we should think there could be no great diffi- people ready to oblige him, than a poorer man, culty in drawing the line between the legiti- of equal virtue and talents-is a fact, which mate, harmless, and even beneficial use of we are as little inclined to deplore, as to call property, even as connected with elections; in question. Neither does it cost us any pang and its direct employment for the purchase to reflect, that, if such a man was desirous of of parliamentary influence. Almost all men- representing the borough in which he resided, indeed, we think, all men-admit, that some or of having it represented by his son or his line is to be drawn--that the political influ- brother, or some dear and intimate friend, his ence of property should be confined to that recommendation would go much farther with which is essential to its use and enjoyment; the electors than a respectable certificate of -and that penalties should be inflicted, when extraordinary worth and abilities in an opposit is directly applied to the purchase of votes; ing candidate. though that is perhaps the only case in which the law can interfere vindictively, without introducing far greater evils than those which it seeks to remedy.
Such an influence as this, it would evidently be quite absurd for any legislature to think of interdicting, or even for any reformer to attempt to discredit. In the first place, because it is founded in the very nature of men and of human affairs, and could not possibly be prevented, or considerably weakened, by any thing short of an universal regeneration; secondly, because, though originating from property, it does by no means imply, either the baseness of venality, or the guilt of corruption; but rests infinitely more upon feelings of vanity, and social instinctive sympathy, than upon any consciousness of dependence, or paltry expectation of personal emolument; and, thirdly, because, taking men as they actually are, this mixed feeling is, upon the whole, both a safer and a better feeling than the greater part of those, to the influence of which they would be abandoned, if this should be destroyed. If the question were, always, whether a man of wealth and family, or a man of sense and virtue, should have the greatest influence, it would no doubt be desirable that the preponderance should be given to moral and intellectual merit. But this is by no means the true state of the contest:-and when the question is between the influence of property and the influence of intriguing ambition and turbulent popularity, we own that we are glad to find the former most frequently prevalent. In ordinary life, and in common affairs, this natural and indirect influence of property is vast and infallible, even upon the best and most enlightened part of the community; and nothing can conduce so surely to the stability and excellence of a political constitution, as to make it rest upon the general principles that regulate the conduct of the better part of the individuals who live under it, and to attach them to their government by the same feelings which insure their affection or submission in their private capacity.
To those who are already familiar with the facts and the reasonings that bear upon this great question, these brief suggestions will probably be sufficient; but there are many to whom the subject will require a little more explanation; and for whose use, at all events, the argument must be a little more opened up and expanded.
If men were perfectly wise and virtuous, they would stand in no need either of Government or of Representatives; and, therefore, if they do need them, it is quite certain that their choice will not be influenced by considerations of duty or wisdom alone. We may assume it as an axiom, therefore, however the purists may be scandalised, that, even in political elections, some other feelings will necessarily have play; and that passions, and prejudices, and personal interests, will always interfere, to a greater or less extent, with the higher dictates of patriotism and philanthropy. Of these sinister motives, individual interest, of course, is the strongest and most steady; and wealth, being its most common and appropriate object, it is natural to expect that the possession of property should bestow some political influence. The question, therefore, is, whether this influence can ever be safe or tolerable-or whether it be possible to mark the limits at which it becomes so pernicious as to justify legislative coercion. Now, we are so far from thinking, with Mr. Windham, that there is no room for any distinction in this matter, that we are inclined, on the whole, to be of opinion, that what we would term the natural and inevitable influence of property in elections, is not only safe, but salutary; while its artificial and corrupt influence is among the most