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touched with impunity by the rash maintained her honour and integrity, hand of reform ; and they perceived, but were enabled, in the issue, to add in the circumstances of modern times, prodigiously to her ancient stock of and in the change which had taken glory. place in the habits and intelligence of It has been remarked by philosothe people of Europe, the symptoms phers, that the distinctions which exist of a dangerous empiricism, which it among practical politicians, are rather was the great object of their policy to nominal than real, and that with very counteract and repress. They might be slight sacrifices on each side, intellicalled timid in comparison with some gent men might easily be brought to of their opponents, but they were ti a good understanding, they would mid only as they were sagacious; and be called upon to give up, not princi. the energy which they displayed in re- ples, bút expressions; and while they sisting the violence by which every would thus exhibit more philosophical thing sacred in the country was at one precision in defining their views, they time attacked, first saved England would contribute touch to tranquillize from revolution, and, in the issue, rai. Society, which is so often convulsed sed her to the highest pitch of greatby their controversies. The principle
If they were mistrustful of on which this observation is founded the sweeping conclusions which were has been singularly exemplified in drawn by weak and ardent minds, from English history. The ancient disabstract and metaphysical principles, tinctions which divided the different their caution was inspired by the dic. parties of English politicians, have no tates of genuine philosophy; and if longer a meaning,--those who are now they were exposed to the reproach of described as Whigs and Tories, no timidity, they could provoke it from longer profess the sentiments by which those misguided spirits alone who their respective parties were formerly might have cast the same imputation distinguished. The leading princi. on the greatest philosopers of modern ples of those great men, by whom the times,-men, who, rejecting idle and revolution of 1688. was accomplished, vain theories, have, on the basis of ex- and of their immediate successors, periment, established the beautiful su whose measures cast such a lustre perstructure of true science. They around the country, are precisely those were no less sensible than their ene on which the ministers of the present mies to the difficulties under which the day have invariably
, acted,-a firm recountry laboured, and the dangers to sistance to the ambition of France, and which it was 'exposed ; but they consi a jealousy of the tenets of the Roman dered these dangers as the result of ac Catholics.- Their opponents, who cidents which could not be controlled, still claim for themselves the appellaand of a state of the world which no tion of Whigs, have not only abanthing, but the full display of all the doned the great and salutary princienergies of England could correct or ples formerly entertained on these reform. Hence, regardless of difficul- points, but have avowed, as the lead. ties, they persevered with manly firm- ing maxims of their creed, opinions of ness in a contest, from which Great
an opposite nature. They demand Britain could not have retired without unqualified concession to the catholics dishonour; hence they sustained that of Ireland, and have in a thousand in high tone which she has always been stances called on the country to make accustomed to hold among the nations peace with France, in circumstances of the world; and hence they not only which the whigs of the reigns of King
William and Queen Anne would have and talents were well known to the considered as imperiously demanding country. The unfortunate differences the vigorous prosecution of war. He which occurred betwixt Lord Castlewho should turn to the political wri- reagh and Mr Canning, had deprived tings of Arddison, and the other great the government of the assistance of whig authors of his age, would sup- these eminent men: but in their place pose that he is reading an elegant the Marquis Wellesley, a statesman of exposition of the creed of the present great and undoubted talents, was for ministers, and a satire ou the tenets of a time substituted. Whether the actheir opponents. Surely the distinc- cession of strength which the minitions by which public men are divided sters thus acquired, was a full commust be altogether nominal and insig- pensation for the loss sustained by the nificant, or the whigs and tories of the resignations of Lord Castlereagh and present day must have committed an
Mr Canning, is more than questionoutrage on the language, in assuming able. Great indeed must the talents the appellations by which they are dis- of that man have been, who could tinguished.
compensate the loss of the various and The laudable activity with which distinguished qualifications of the emithe present ministers conducted their nent statesmen who had unfortunately measures of foreign policy, and the retired from office.-Acting, howcontrast, in this respect, which their ever, on the same principles which had conduct presented to that of their pre- guided the conduct of Mr Pitt when decessors, formed a striking feature in out of power, Lord Castlereagh and their public character. And as it has Mr Canning, on leaving the ministry, been generally acknowledged, that never thought of joining the ranks of emergencies arose, in which it was not opposition; but, sincere and ardent in possible for Great Britain to exert her. the cause of their country, they fung self too much,-in which her honour away every selfish consideration, and and interest alike demanded that every proved to the world, that a change in nerve should be strained ; as it is not their own personal condition could denied that the line of conduct pur- make no alteration in their principles. sued by ministers was that which The Marquis Wellesley was about sustained the character of England as this time a very great favourite with the bulwark of liberty, and the rally. the public; and is thought by some ing point for the independence of to have obtained credit for a larger Europe; as it will no longer be dis- portion of talent than he actually posputed that they have acquired ho- sessed. As a war minister, and in nour by the steady support of the planning and conducting military openoble struggle maintained in the pe. rations, he was believed to be not only ninsula, and that they persevered in superior to all his contemporaries, but supporting this cause under difficulties to stand absolutely alone. In deterand discouragements of all kinds ; it is mining the mode and the places in not easy to perceive with what justice which the war might be most suctheir activity can be described as fever- cessfully carried on, in suiting the ish, or their efforts, which led to such magnitude of an expedition to its obglorious consequences, can be under. ject, and in appointing the persons valued.
best qualified to command, Lord WelMr Perceval was at the head of the lesley was said to have no rival in administration, which was composed any living statesman, of many members, whose experience posed to be the only master of this
He was sup
science, apparently 60 simple ; to be tages. In consequence of a long re. the only minister who had discovered sidence abroad, he had not attached and could act upon the obvious truth, to himself any body of statesmen ; he that no interest which a ministry can either wanted or disdained to use that derive from the choice of an inefficient dexterity and address by which the person, can counterbalance the loss of minds of men are managed and concicredit consequent on the failure of liated, and he was thus induced to forin a great enterprise. Many very impro- the resolution of withdrawing himself per appointments had taken place of entirely from the cabinet. Whether late years ; but under the auspices of there be any justice in these reflections the Wellesleys, a new system had on the character of this eminent perbeen established; means had been suit- sonage we shall not pretend to deter. ed to their ends ; effective employments mine, but it seems impossible any had been ably filled ; and a plan of longer to doubt, that in the estimate operations adopted, in which enterprise of his superiority over other statesand caution were happily combined. men, an important error was commitThe services of this nobleman were ted; and that the ministerial party, for these reasons considered at this even after his secession, still embra. time as of the utmost importance; ced a portion of talent, which was amand it was believed that any adminis- ply sufficient for the conduct either of tration of which he was a member, war or negociation. would, for that single reason, be better Such was the state of the ministerial than any other.-Such was the opi- party at the beginning of the year. nion entertained of him by his ad- Their regular opponents, who had, not mirers ; but there were others who mnany years ago, made pretensions so took a very different view of his cha. high to talents and integrity, had of racter, and ventured to predict that late fallen very mueh in the public eshe would never obtain considerable in- timation. They had been tried as mifluence in the British councils. He nisters, and had failed ; and the disapseemed deficient in a talent for debate, pointment of the public was of course without which no statesman can rise proportioned to the expectations which to a very high rank in this country; had been so imprudently raised. Many and it was generally understood, that candid and impartial men who have gihe considered the business of leading ven them credit for great talents, have in a popular assembly as an intole confessed at the same time that there rable drudgery. It suited him better, was a want of union among them ; a said his enemies, to issue his mandates want of some acknowledged chief to, from the recesses of oriental pomp, give an impulse to the whole. They than to force them through the cla have admitted, that the selection of morous and obstinate resistance of a
persons who were appointed to fill British opposition. He thus renoun the two most important departments, ced the only practicable means of ac
those of finance and of war, were quiring consideration; the pride and highly injudicious ; that the promosplendour which dazzled the East, were tion of Lord Henry Petty, as the sucof no estimation in the eyes of repub cessor of Pitt, was imprudent; that lican London ; and it is not surprising, the plans of taxation which were protherefore, that he sunk into subordi- posed by this youthful financier, connate stations in the cabinet. With re. sisted of some poor expedients sashly gard to its interior arrangements also, adopted, and as hastily abandoned. he was said to labour under disadvan. As to the military operations, there
of a party
existed but one opinion; the expedi- proceeding to give an account of this tions, to the Dardanelles, to Alexan- transaction, some notice must be taken dria, and to the Rio de la Plata, ex.
which has of late become hibited great errors, both
in the plan conspicuous both in and out of parand in the execution. The British liament. armies under the present ministers have It has been imagined by some, that, sometimes fought with disaster, sel- the existence of what is called a po. dom without glory; while under their pular or country, party, of a party predecessors defeat was aggravated by which systematically seeks to maintain, disgrace, and the army was humbled and even to extend the rights of the before those who had not been num- people, and to restrain or diminish the bered among the military nations of authority of the crown, is essential to Europe.-The extraordinary coalition the integrity of the British constituwhich took place betwixt Mr Fox tion. In support of this opinion, they and Lord Grenville filled the nation refer to the history of the country parwith astonishment; but the feelings ty, which makes so great a figure in the of the people were roused into resent. annals of England; and they imagine, ment, when it was fouud that the ad- that the popular party of the present ministration not only failed tu conduct day is held together by the same spirit the war with vigour, but, with the sa- under a different form. That the pocrifice of all its former principles, re. pular spirit ought at all times to be re. fused to sanction the improvements in presented in the House of Commons, it domestic policy, by the promise of were absurd to deny ; but no person who which they had acquired a share of reflects on the character of the country popular favour. Loud complaints party, as it was formerly constituted, were raised, that their efforts to pro. will compare it in any point of view to vide for their adherents were on a the popular faction of these times. larger scale, and at a greater expence The country-party was composed of to the public resources, than those a large proportion of the landed ariseven of their political opponents, which tocracy, united to the wealth and inthey had so warmly reprobated. This fluence of the people ; the object of marked inconsistency betwixt their this union was the protection of the conduct and professions had the ef- state against the dangerous incroachfect of inspiring the people with a sus ments of the crown ; but the popular picion and distrust of public men; party of the present day boasts of litand the whig administration may be tle rank or wealth or talents, and in. said to have shaken the confidence of stead of being combined to oppose the the country in its rulers, and to have influence of the crown, seems destined, given a blow to the credit and popu: in so far as its feebleness will permit, larity of all statesmen, which it will to overturn the constitution. For require the best exertions of their suc some time past, the democratic party cessors to repair. The whig leaders has thrown off all dependence on that themselves made no effort of this kind; portion of the aristocracy which supbut, affecting a sort of sullen dignity, ported its pretensions. Their leaders they failed to gain the confidence ei. have endeavoured to raise the standard ther of the sovereign or the people. of the people against the House of Such was the state of the whig party, Commons; and, supported by popular when an attempt was made by the applause, have set all parties alike at Prince Regent to unite their leaders defiance. Such a party as this can with the administration ; but before never be essential to the integrity of
the British constitution; it has no tionary licence. But they forget, that, connection with
any of the legitimate to counteract the symptoms of polio powers of this form of government; tical disease, it becomes indispensable but is calculated to diffuse among the to carry restraint and punishment a people a spirit of distrust and hostility great deal beyond the ordinary measure towards the lawful authorities of the of severity, and that, without destroy.
The truth of this propositioning the credit of evolutionary princiwill appear by a reference to the his- ples among the more intelligent orders tory of democratic extravagances. of society, it would have been imposThe recollection of the turbulent sible to put down a spirit so formidable scenes produced by the politics of Mr and daring. When that great man, who Wilkes perished with himself; the presided over the affairs of England nation enjoyed a season of tranquillity when the mania of the French revo. till the breaking out of the French lution was about extending itself to revolution, and it was only when this this country, adopted those painful dangerous stimulus was applied to the but wholesome measures of severity, public mind, that popular sentiments he was aware, that he could not other
once more revived. But the wise restrain and extinguish a spirit, danger and folly of such sentiments which threatened the very existence were soon discovered; the nation be- of the government. He had recourse, came tired of pernicious extravagances, therefore, to the only measures which which had no longer the gloss of no. were suited to the occasion ; and as velty to recommend them, and a pru. he knew well that the maxims of li. dent distrust of innovation succeeded berty would be ever in the mouths of to the wild enthusiasm of a moment. those who intended to pervert them to The rare appearance of popular or re- bad purposes, he hesitated not to put volutionary principles is of itself a down sedition, at the hazard even of proof, that, so far from being congenial being accused as an enemy to freeto the British constitution, they are dom. He wished to resist the dan. of the 'nature of a disease which pe. ger which was most imminent ; he riodically affects the soundest bodies ; saw that the spirit of revolution was and it is a happy circumstance for that danger; and, as he was well aware England, that how violent soever the that the liberties of the country were occasional effervescences of this wild too firmly established to receive any spirit may have been, the great body very violent shock, even from the most of the people remain unaffected by so severe temporary measures, he resol. melancholy a distemper.
ved on securing what was most in haComplaints have been made of the zard, the legitimate and practicable turn which the French revolution gave freedom of the British constitution. to the politics of the leading men of this But the measures which he adopted, country, and many persons have main. although the country unquestionably tained, that the system of restraint owed her salvation to them, were not which sprung up in the first moments unattended with many serious evils ; of alarm, was carried beyond all rea the policy of the war in which he had sonable bounds. Every thing, say engaged was justified on principles they, bordering on innovation was pro. which the vulgar could not always scribed ;
the very name of liberty was comprehend ; while the progress of held in abhorrence, and the slightest hostilities entailed a weight of taxation censure of the measures of government which no nation in
any age was branded as a symptom of revolu to endured. The commercial