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A RETROSPECT OF FORTY YEARS, FROM THE IST JANUARY, 1834. It was not without reason that Ba- ners, having abated nothing of their con asserted that time was the great love of freedom, but learned nothing est of all innovators; and the maxim of the desire for revolution. is not so trite, but that its truth and Ten years elapsed, and what was importance are continually brought the next aspect which the island exback to the observation of the most hibited ? It was completely filled inconsiderate observer of public with volunteers; patriotic spirit, marevents. Forty years have now elapsed tial zeal, burned deep and strong since we began to take an interest in through its millions; twelve hundred the observation of human affairs, and thousand men were in arms, watchwe have never ceased to keep our ing with anxious eyes the forces of eyes upon their changes down to the Napoleon, arrayed on the heights of present time. Nevertheless, the dif- Boulogne, and preparing to follow ference between the commencement, the footsteps of Cæsar in the invasion the middle, and the end of this pe- of Britain. The heartburnings which riod, brief as it is, when compared had arisen at the commencement of to the lifetime of nations, is so pro- the war, the Gallican spirit which had digious, that it looks as if our infancy at the outset detached a small portion had been passed in one age, our of our people from their country, the manhood in a second, and our old divisions which had existed as to the age in a third.

policy of continuing the contest, had In January, 1794, Great Britain almost disappeared. The enormity was beholding, with nearly unani- of the danger, the intensity of the mous horror and detestation, the enmity of Napoleon at this country, first fruits of popular usurpation, in the evident hopelessness of concluthe Reign of Terror, and the govern- ding a lasting peace with so invetement of Robespierre. The dreadful rate a foe, had united all classes in a spectacle of blood streaming in tor cordial and generous love of their rents from the scaffold, of religion country. Then were developed those overturned, and the Goddess of Rea- elevated feelings and noble deterson in her place-of a Monarch minations which made the nation butchered, and a nation decimated disdain to submit—which prompted -revolted all the best feelings of the even Mr Fox to nail her colours to English character, and in all, save a the mast, and preserved the British few callous and insensible Republi- empire, brave and dauntless, amidst cans, whose hearts were as hard as the wreck of surrounding states, and the nether millstone, produced a the crash of the greatest empires in powerful reaction against the prin- Europe. ciples of democracy. At that time Ten additional years rolled on, and the British nation cordially and ge- another generation had risen to the nerally supported the principles of direction of public affairs. Still more Mr Pitt's government; the House of exhilarating was the prospect which Commons, in general, divided 260 to then appeared. The crisis of Europe 40; the House of Lords 80 to 7, in was over ; the Imperial Legions his favour; and even Mr Burke, whitened with their bones the fields whose prophetic eye and ardent tem- of Spain, or lay stiff and unburied perament led him rather to exagge- amidst the snows of Russia-Efflavit rate than undervalue the public dan- Deus et dissipantur. The navy of ger, only estimated the hardened France had long since ceased to disirreclaimable Jacobins in Great Bri- quiet England; it had disappeared tain at 80,000 persons.* The aristo- from the ocean since the thundercracy boldly led the van, and the bolt of Trafalgar, and the impotent people cordially followed their ban- rage of the imperial despot had hurled his forces against the barriers the continental states, eager in the of nature, and struck himself to the pursuit of pleasure, of knowledge, or earth in the recoil. The conflagra- of taste. tion of Moscow had hardly ceased to But it is not without reason that redden the eastern sky, and the civi. the National Church of Scotland has lized world yet resounded with the begun one of its anthems with the cannonade of Leipsic; the alliances words : of fear, the submission of necessity

* Burke's Works, vii. 47.

“ Few are thy days and full of woe, had disappeared ; from the east and

Oh man of woman born !" the west, from the north and the south, the crusading warriors came

In what state does the fifth period forth to the fight; and at the very of ten years open to the British emhour when the joyous inhabitants of pire ? Alas! scarce were the joyous Albion were celebrating the close of accents fled-hardly had the voice a year of unexampled glory, the of ministerial congratulation ceased Rhine was covered by innumerable-when swift, and unerring, the Dee boats conveying to the Gallic shore stroyer came. The terrible catathe avengers of European freedom.* strophe of December, 1825, arrived;

Another period went round, and mercantile credit received an unthe world exhibited a very different paralleled shock-distress, anxiety, aspect. In January, 1824, a profound and suspense, prevailed through the peace had subsisted for nine years, land; and, in the midst of public and the nation was enjoying in suffering, Faction reared again its fancied security the fruits of its hydra head, and pursued with inlabours. Commercial wealth had creased zeal its destructive course. spread to an unexampled extent; One after another, all the bulwarks private opulence seemed unbound- of the constitution were surrendered; our manufacturing, cities re- ed to procure a temporary respite sounded with the din of busy work- from the anarchical party. The Promen; our harbours were crowded testant constitution, the Test and with the masts of mercantile enter- Corporation Acts, were successively prise; the ocean was whitened by abandoned; and, at length, a despethe sails of our fleets; the rich were

rate and reckless faction got possesaffluent and prosperousthe poor sion of the helm, and, wielding the industrious and contented. Every whole force of the prerogative to city was teeming with inhabitants, support the advances of revolution, and resplendent with the animating succeeded in overturning the constiprogress of architectural decoration. tution. In what a state has the BriEvery waste was waving with corn, tish empire been ever since that disor dotted by innumerable flocks; astrous epoch; and what are the financial difficulties seemed to have prospects which, on the 1st of Jadisappeared; every returning ses- nuary, 1834, open upon her people? sion of the legislature brought with Distrust and anxiety universally difit the alluring prospect of å reduc- fused-every profession and occution of taxation, and an increase of Pation suffering, and preparing to income; the strongest heads were suffer—the lower orders roused inswept away by the unparalleled to general and fearful activity—the flood of prosperity, and the Chancel- higher lulled into a desponding and lor of the Exchequer declared in his hopeless calm—the bulwarks of the place in Parliament, that “ human constitution, - the securities against imagination itself could affix no spoliation, completely swept awaylimits to the progress of British and all the mighty interests of the prosperity, opulence, and power.” empire laid open to the caprice and The administration was the most the invasion of a reckless revolutions popular that ever existed; the oppo- ary faction, driving before them a sition had disappeared or weak and vacillating administrablended with the ministerial party; tion. Such is the sad termination, and the British youth, issuing from so far as time has yet advanced, of this prosperous island, overspread this glorious and animated era, and


• Blucher and Schwartzenberg crossed the Rhine at midnight, Dec. 31, 1813.

such the prospects which that gene- its fury; every office, every situaration have to leave to their children, tion, every power, has become, or is who received from their fathers the becoming, the object of low intrigue sacred deposit of the British Con- and democratic contention; and it stitution!

is not difficult to foresee that ere The worst feature of the times is long all the institutions of learning, not their danger-enormous as that charity, authority, and religion, will is compared to any which has yet be prostrated before the ambition of preceded them in the history of an insatiable revolutionary faction, England. It is the public despon- wielding the energies of a misguided dency which is the most alarming and infatuated people. circumstance; the absence of one It is in vain to say, that these bad cheering ray in any quarter of the effects are owing merely to the late heavens; the sullen" apathy with changes in the Constitution. The which all the better classes now Revolution of 1832 was itself the abandon any interference in public result of many concurring causes. affairs, and resign themselves to a It is not to be regarded so much as fate which, how calamitous soever, the origin of evil, as the effect of they seem to regard as inevitable. evil already existing; not so much When we contrast this universal and as the beginning of malady, as the desperate apathy, with the vigorous symptom of a constitution already and united efforts which the holders diseased from previous causes.

Inof property all made to resist the sane as was the conduct, reckless approaches of anarchy at the com- the ambition, unpardonable the viomencement of the French Revolu- lence of the Whigs in urging on that tion, and the heroic struggle which great convulsion, the seeds of disorthey maintained against the imperial der which they sowed with so undespot who wielded its power, we sparing a hand, could not have come are tempted to ask, Are the present to maturity, if the soil had not been generation of Englishmen the same prepared for their reception. In race as their fathers ?-do we live in any former period of English histhe same age of the world ?- -or have tory since the Revolution, an admiwe been transported from the era of nistration, which should have venScipio and Fabius to that of Marius tured to bring forward such a meaand Cæsar ?

sure, would have been instantly If this extraordinary coexistence hurled from the helm, amidst the of the greatest apprehension, with general applause of the nation. the most invincible apathy, is traced In investigating the causes wbich to its source, it will be found to had previously prepared the nation arise entirely from the belief gene for the prodigious change which our rally diffused among all persons of rulers have effected, there is one reflection or information, that su- which strikes us as peculiarly propreme power has now passed into minent, and to which sufficient atother hands, whose incompetence to tention has not hitherto been paid exercise it is only equalled by the te- in any discussions on the subject; nacity with which they will retain and that is the separation which had it. It is the general, the melancholy insensibly grown up during the last belief, in this lamentable change, thirty years between the higher orwhich paralyses every attempt at ders of the Aristocracy, and the exertion, and depresses every effort middling ranks by whom they were of patriotic feeling. The prostration surrounded. If the knowledge of of the better classes : of all possess- the causes of a complaint is the first ed either of knowledge or property, step towards its cure, the consideis now forcibly brought before their ration of this subject must appear to eyes, not only in great political be a matter of vital importance at struggles, but the most trivial and this time, in order to unfold the ordinary concerns of life. The great means of stemming, if any thing huwave of democracy has not only man can indeed stem the farther broken down the barrier of the con- progress of disaster. stitution, but it has rushed into every That the higher ranks—understandcorner and crevice of the state. ing by that term the class of conEvery thing is apparently yielding to siderable proprietors, of whatever political opinions or party-cannot Even as late as 1784, this hereditary of themselves, without external aid, and inherent character remained unresist the attacks of their inferiors, impaired; the good sense and natuis evident from the consideration, ral sagacity of the English people that they are not one in a hundred triumphed over the efforts of faction amongst them.

How then has it striving to seduce them; and when happened, that they have so long, and the Whigs, prostituting the names of in so many countries, succeeded in liberty and freedom, sought to enmaintaining the ascendency due to chain the Crown and the nation in property in every well-regulated the fetters of Oriental servitude, the state, notwithstanding all the jea- nation, upon an appeal from the lousy which the prospect of their sovereign, indignantly chased them opulence must have occasioned ? from the helm. Simply by awakening the affections It is in vain to conceal, however, and supporting the interests of their that times in this respect are now inferiors: by mingling with their essentially changed. The present amusements, and taking a share in convulsion is less directed against their desires, and sympathizing with the Crown than the Aristocracy: their wishes; by throwing down the what is complained of, is not the unseen but hateful barrier which se- weight of the prerogative, but the parates the noblesse from the tiers usurpation of an Oligarchy. No man état, and making the people feel that is now foolish enough to assert, that they would lose not merely their su- the influence of the Crown“ has inperiors, but their protectors and creased, is increasing, and ought to friends, if the Aristocracy were de- be diminished;" the popular outcry stroyed.

which carried through the RevoluThe English have, in every age, as tion of 1832, is that “the influence of Mr Burke observes, been remarkable .the Peers has increased, is increafor their love of freedom, but never sing, and ought to be diminished.” till recently actuated by the passion The character of the public disconfor equality : they were extremely tents has entirely changed within the solicitous that the public liberties last forty years : the people now reshould be maintained, but they had gard the Aristocracy, not as their no wish that the order of society friends, but their enemies, not their should be subverted in the struggle, protectors, but oppressors; and acor the privates elevated to the rank cept a portion of them as their leadof officers, in combating the common ers only so long as with insane blindenemy. They went forth to resist ness they stand up against the inthe encroachments of the Crown, in terests of " their order," and lend the natural order of society, headed the sanction of their name, and the by their landlords, their magistrates, weight of their talents, to principles or their leading citizens, and when tending to sweep away all the disthe victory was gained, fell back to tinctions of society, and all the bulthe same state of established and well- warks of freedom. This is by far regulated organization. Even during the worst symptom of the times; it the democratic fervour of the great is a feature unknown in the former Rebellion, the same order was pre- history of England, save during the served: the popular orators in the frenzy of Wat Tyler and Jack Cade; House of Commons, were the great it is a proof that the genuine demolanded proprietors in the counties; cratic poison is at work amongst us, the popular leaders in the cities, the and that our people have tasted of the most wealthy and respected of the fruits, not merely of British freedom, burghers. In the Revolution of 1688, but French equality. the Aristocracy and the Church took Numerous are the causes which the lead; the public ferment began have conspired to bring about this when the seven Bishops were taken alarming change. The vast increase to the Tower, and the settlement of of our manufacturing towns, whose the Crown was effected, not by a wealth and population have more popular tumult, but both Houses of than tripled in the last forty years ; Parliament, debating with becoming the natural progress of opulence, deliberation, and for fourteen days which has increased the desire for together, a great public innovation. political power among the middling ranks; the spread of education, just, though perhaps not exactly in which has exposed a multitude, ten. the sense which the aristocratic nofold increased, to the influence of velist intended. In truth, the exa political passion and misrepresenta-clusive system, which, emanating tion, have all contributed to produce from that centre, has now, like a the lamentable result. But power- leprosy, overspread the land, is one ful as has been the influence of these of the chief causes of that procauses, it is more than doubtful whe- found hatred at the Aristocracy, ther they would

have been adequate which distinguishes the present from to overturn the English Constitution, any other popular convulsion in if they had not found a ready co- English history. It is in vain to say operator in the conduct of the Aris- that the line drawn by the Exclutocracy itself; if the nobility and sives is attended with no practical great landed proprietors, when stand- or substantial grievance; that all ing on the brink of a precipice, had offices are open to talent; that a not acted with a degree of blindness Chancellor, raised from the middling which doubled the strength of their or lower orders, is constantly placed adversaries, and confounded the at the head of the British Peerage ; efforts of their friends.

and that, having conceded so much “ Great as were the evils, crying to the interests and ambition of their the abuses of France,” says a Royal inferiors, they may be allowed to ist writer, whose works Mr Burke select their companions and their said posterity will class with the society for themselves. All that is Annals of Tacitus, “ it was not they perfectly true ; but it is as nothing, which brought about the Revolu- as long as Mordecai the Jew sits at tion. Insult is more keenly resent- the King's gate. The exclusive sysed than injury: it was neither the tem is felt as an insult, if not as an Taille nor the Vingtièmes, nor the injury: human weakness proves that Corvées, nor the Lettres de Cachet, it is no answer to conscious worth, nor the Tithes, nor the Feudal Sertalent, and elegance in the middling vices, which occasioned the convul- orders, to say that every office is sion: the prestige of the nobility. open to their ambition, if they are alone had this effect.”' *

excluded from a society to which they cause, we grieve to say, has had too are attached both by principle and much influence in producing the inclination. Men of fortune, talent, discontents of the present time; in and information, in the class of geninducing the impatience of supe- tlemen, feel the injustice of that inriority, which forms so leading a vidious line, which the exclusive feature in the social convulsion in system has drawn between them and the midst of which we are now their superiors in rank, but their placed ; in substituting for the old equals in birth, and their inferiors, English love of freedom the modern possibly, in every elegant or useful French passion for equality. And acquirement. They will not submit it has unfortunately happened, that to it in silence: they resent it as a at the very period when the changes slight on themselves, their character, of time were shaking the foundations their station, and their families, and of aristocratic influence, their own fall, in consequence, an easy prey to conduct and manners have contri- the ambitious leaders, or factious buted not a little to widen the demagogues, who represent the very breach, and throw the weight which existence of the Aristocracy as a should have supported, into the ranks social grievance, and combination which are to destroy them.

against their power as the first of It is observed in one of the re- political duties. cent fashionable novels, which, like The exclusive system would have straws, shew how the wind sets, that been no inconsiderable evil, if it had the institution of Almacks has had been confined to London; butspreadmore influence than is generally sup- ing as it has done through every posed in bringing about the Reform county in the kingdom, it has conBill. The observation is perfectly tributed materially to weaken the

The same

* Rivarol.

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