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greater and more irremediable sufferings of the agricul- Chap. turists had shakeu the class hitherto the most firmly attached to existing institutions, and diffused a very general opinion that things could not be worse than they were, and that no alleviation of the evils under which the country laboured could be hoped for till the representation of the people was put on a different footing. Lastly, the general necessity of cheapening everything, to meet the reduced price of produce, had extended itself to freights, and several acts had already passed the legislature which fore-' shadowed the repeal of the Navigation Laws, and the abandonment of the system under which England had won the sceptre of the seas, and a colonial empire which encircled the earth. The dawn of the whole future of England is to be found in these three years.
The Marquis of Londonderry was the last minister in Great Britain of the rulers who really governed the state ; Lord Lonthat is, of men who took counsel only of their own ideas, w^thTLt and imprinted them on the internal and external policy ^ of their country. Thenceforward statesmen were guided EnBl!Uldon both sides of the Channel, not by what they deemed right, but what they found practicable; the ruling power was found elsewhere than either in the cabinet or the legislature. Querulous and desponding men, among whom Chateaubriand stands foremost, perceiving this, and comparing the past with the present, concluded that this was because the period of greatness had passed, because the age of giants had been succeeded by that of pigmies; and that men were not directed, because no one able to lead them appeared. But this was a mistake: it was not that the age of great men had ceased, but the age of great causes had succeeded. Public opinion had become irresistible—the press ruled alike the cabinet and the legislature on important questions; where the people were strongly roused, their voice had become omnipotent; on all it gradually but incessantly acted, and in the end modified the opinions of government.
VOL. II. 2 L
Chap. The Vox Populi is not always, at the moment, the Vox x' Dei: it is so only when the period of action has passed, and
that of reflection has arisen—when the storms of passion Increased are hushed, and the whisperings of interest no longer ofTheraien heard; but when the still small voice of experience speaks of thought. jn persuasive tones to future generations of men, it will be shown whether the apparent government of the many is more beneficial in its effects than the real government of a few; but this much is certain, that it is their apparent government only. Men seek in vain to escape from the first of human necessities—the necessity of being governed by establishing democratic institutions. They do not change the direction of the many by the few: by the establishment of these they only change the few who direct. The oligarchy of intellect and eloquence comes instead of that of property and influence; happy if it is in reality more wise in its measures and far-seeing in its policy than that which it has supplanted. But it is itself directed by the leaders of thought: the real rulers of men appear in those who direct general opinion; and the responsibility of the philosopher or the orator becomes overwhelming when he shares with it that of the statesman and the sovereign.
No doubt can remain, upon considering the events in Simultane- the memorable years 1819 and 1820 in Europe, that
of the revo
they were the result of a concerted plan among the revoIpiriun7 lutionists in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and EngcouXieV ^anc* > anc* tnat the general overthrow of governments, which occurred in 1848, had been prepared, and was expected, in 1820. The slightest attention to dates proves this in the most decisive manner1. The insurrection of Riego at Cadiz broke out on 1st January 1820—that at Corunna on 24th February in the same year—the king was constrained to accept the Constitution on 7th March; Kotzebue was murdered in Germany on 21st March; the revolution of Naples took place on 7th March, that of Piedmont on 7th June; the Duke dc
Berri was assassinated on 13th March; tmeutes in Paris, Chap. which so nearly overturned the Government, broke out on 7th June, the military conspiracy on 19th August; the assassination of the English Cabinet was fixed for 19th February by the Cato Street conspirators; the insurrection at Glasgow took place on 3d April. So many Aj, movements of a revolutionary character, occurring so near each other in point of time, in so many different countries, demonstrates either a simultaneous agency of different bodies acting under one common central authority, or a common sense of the advent of a period in an especial manner favourable to the designs which they all had in contemplation. And when it is recollected that the Chambers of France had, by the operation of the coups d'etat of 5th September 1816 and March 1819, been so thoroughly rendered democratical that the dethronement of the king and establishment of a republic, by vote of the legislature, was with confidence anticipated when the next fifth had been elected for the Chamber of Deputies, and that distress in Great Britain had become so general, by the operation of the monetary law of 1819, that insurrectionary movements were in preparation in all the great manufacturing towns, and had actually broken out in several,—it must be confessed, that a more favourable time for such a general outbreak could hardly have been selected.
And yet, although these revolutionary movements were obviously made in pursuance of a common design, and Different for a common purpose, yet the agents in them, and the S^w* parties in each state to which their execution was in-thediffetrusted, were widely different. In Great Britain, they nnt were entirely conducted by the very lowest classes of society; and although they met with apologists and defenders more frequently than might have been expected in the House of Commons, and from a portion of the press, yet no person of respectability or good education was actually implicated in the treasonable proceedings.
Chap. The whole respectable and influential classes were ranged
. on the other side. But the case was widely different on
1822, the Continent. The French revolutionists embraced a large part of the talent, and by far the greater part of the education of the country; and it was their concurrence, as the event afterwards proved, which rendered any insurrectionary movement in that country so extremely formidable. In Spain and Portugal, the principal merchants in the seaport towns, the most renowned generals, and almost the whole officers in the army, were engaged on the revolutionary side, and their adhesion to its enemies in the last struggle left the throne without a defence. In Italy, the ardent and generous youth, and nearly the whole educated classes, were deeply imbued with Liberal ideas, and willing to run any hazard to secure their establishment; and nearly the whole youth educated at the German universities had embraced the same sentiments, and longed for the period when the Fatherland was to take its place as the first and greatest of representative governments. Such is the difference between the action of the revolutionary principle upon a constitutional and a despotic monarchy, and such the security which the long enjoyment of freedom affords for the continuance of that blessing to future times.
ENGLAND, FRANCE, AND SPAIN, FROM THE ACCESSION OF
France and England, since the peace of 1815, had Chap.
pursued separate paths, and their governments had never —
as yet been brought into collision with each other. Seve- • rally occupied with domestic concerns, oppressed with the Divergence burdens or striving to heal the wounds of war, their gov- %JE°g! ernments were amicable, if not cordially united, and no- ^ £ Jjje
thing had as yet occurred which threatened to bring them *g