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which ever was adopted by a legislature. From this has proceeded the violent adoption and authoritative imposition of Catholic emancipation -a measure which, however just when abstractly considered, is now admitted to have done violence to the feelings of a majority of the nation; the benefits of which, though loudly promised, have never yet been ex perienced; which has distracted a peaceful, without tranquillizing an agitated community; which has thrown the torch of civil discord into England, without taking it out of Ife land. eds of atos luisan
Scotland has in a peculiar manner suffered from the whirlwind of inno vation. It narrowly, and by unpre cedented exertions, escaped the de
Lord Brougham," when every poor
from which had flowed the broad stream of Scottish prosperity, and the ruin of which would have brought with it that of one-half of all the industrious poor in the country. They have been visited with changes in the administration of justice, greater than ever before, in so short a time, were inflicted on any people and which experience has now demon strated, like all other violent and sweeping changes, to have remedied few experienced evils, and intro duced many unknown grievances, They have been compelled to adopt a system of jury trial in civil causes, totally unsuitable to the character, habits, and institutions of the nation, and which, besides inflicting severe injustice on individual fortunes, has totally dammed up and exterminated all that extensive class of legal ques tions in which parole evidence is required. to
struction of its Sick 18 said, of p
But all these evils, great as they are, and seriously
But all these evils, hey have at from whose perusal tha can derive
fected the institutions and prospe rity of the country, are triflinglin comparison to that which has arisen
from the delusion and error on po that is the nam's visions are
among that party who now, to our which we corico del of
misfortune, are at the helm of affairs, and whose rashness has done so much, in so short a time, to aug aug ment the rapid progress of national dissolution. mus of 910m 9пob "I hope to see the time,' "says
When sions as these, come when every ery poor man can read acon, are seriously entertained, and gravely stated by men of acknow
Cobbett, Nov. 26, 1831.
ledged ability, and in exalted situations, it is not surprising that the nation should be torn in pieces by insane projects of innovation. In fact, if the prevailing errors in the democratical party are traced to their source, they will be found to originate chiefly in the prevalence of that very idea as to the intellectual powers of the lower orders, and the prodigious change which is to be wrought in them by the prevalence of general education. If it be once conceded, that all the labourers are capable, or can be rendered capable, of reading and comprehending Bacon, nothing can be more evident, than that it is not only perfectly safe, but absolutely necessary, to invest them with a full share of political powers. But if the reverse be proved to be the fact, equally by history and experience if the great mass of the lower orders are incapable, from their avocations, of enjoying the leisure requisite for serious study, and, from their habits, of comprehending or taking an interest in subjects of science-if knowledge is to them an acquaintance with the broad sheets" of error, not the narrow page of truth and salvation-if, while nature has been prodigal to all of passion, she has been sparing to most of intellect -if the only subject on which no pains have been taken by the liberal party to instruct the people, is the only one in which all mankind feel an interest, and the only book which they have taken no steps to disseminate, is that which alone contains what is really necessary for their temporal and eternal happiness then it follows, that a more fatal and perilous doctrine than this never was propagated, or one more calculated to dissolve society into anarchy, and render the very name of education odious in the world. It follows, that to intrust political power to such hands, is to commit the fabric of society to the elements of disorder to withdraw the people from useful industry, by precipitating them into hurtful ambition and to flatter their passions at the expense of their virtue and their happiness.
But this is not the only subject on which the erroneous opinions of the liberal party are such as to excite the astonishment of all the ra
tional and well-informed part of mankind. A celebrated leader of their school, in an evil hour, broached the incredible paradox, that the absence of her landed proprietors did no mischief to Ireland; and immediately a thousand Whig voices, in every part of the empire, re-echoed the astounding fallacy. The Whig papers incessantly urged the salutary effects which would result from lowering the duty on spirits, and in an evil hour, the Duke of Wellington yielded to their suggestions. Inopposition to the convincing proofs of the fatal consequences of this measure, which the increasing de-pravity, appalling vices, and savage cruelty of the lower orders, in every . part of the empire, afford; in oppo-. sition to the records of all criminal courts, which begin and end with spirits, they still maintain that that measure was beneficial. They stoutly argued for twenty years, in the face of the general prosperity of England, with Poor Laws, and the unequalled misery of Ireland, without them, that no legal provision should be made for the indigent; and now they have as rapidly changed their position, because their leader in political science has discovered his error. Their conduct reminds us of what is narrated in history of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. "The Princess Edelgitha was converted to Christianity, and by her influence effected the conversion of her Lord, and all the people were baptized with him. Soon after, they relapsed into their errors, and all the nation immediately resumed the practices of idolatry."
In considering the causes, in a philosophical point of view, of this extraordinary infatuation on political subjects of the liberal party in this country, their long exclusion from office is probably the most prominent. Having been for more than half a century, with the short exception of Mr Fox's administration in 1783, and Lord Grey's in 1807, in the ranks of opposition, they have been hardened into a compact obdurate mass, who support each other with extraordinary tenacity, and, like the exiles from France, draw no light from the opinions of others, or passing events, "Ils n'ont rien ap
pris, ils n'ont rien oubliés," is equally true of the one and the other.
It is the nature of long exclusion from office, or misfortune of any sort, to make men adhere with invincible obstinacy to preconceived opinions, shut their eyes to the lessons of wisdom and experience, and derive no light from the course of passing events. It is the effect of the same causes to make them cling closely together; support each other in their follies, equally as their virtues, and adopt with blind idolatry whatever is put forth by the spiritual leaders of the party. On this principle, the impotence of persecution to extinguish religious heresy is founded; and hence it is that error is nowhere adhered to with such tenacity, as by those who have suffered in any degree for their opinions, and regard themselves as martyrs to the cause of truth. This principle is of universal application, and has been in operation from the beginning of the world; and it is in this reaction of thought against power, that the foundation is laid for the ultimate developement of truth, and the coercion of physical force by the sway of moral resolution.
But though such are the ultimate effects of this salutary principle in human affairs, its immediate consequences are often in the highest degree prejudicial, and productive of the most dreadful convulsions to society. The emigrant noblesse, by shutting their eyes to the lessons of experience and the course of events, imposed a government upon France which was unsuitable to the temper of the times, precipitated the reigning family from the throne, and produced the career of mob-government, popular sway, and universal suffering. The Whigs of England, equally blinded by their sectarian spirit and long exclusion from government, have introduced measures which promise to be hard ly less injurious in their consequences, and certainly are as much at variance with wisdom and experi
their talents and their virtues. But there is throughout them, generally, a deplorable want of originality of thought, and a most extraordinary principle of subordination to the doctrines of their leaders. When you are acquainted with one or two of the influential men of the party, you can predicate with perfect certainty their opinions on every subject of philosophy, history, politics, or taste None seem to think for themselves but a few leading characters; and whatever they say is immediately adopted with implicit obedience and reverential awe by all their inferiors. They have contrived to turn the current of human thought into confined and artificial channels. They take in nothing but Whig newspapers; read nothing but Whig reviews; study nothing but Whig publications; live with none but Whig society. There is to be found in them, generally, a most extraordinary uniformity and slavishness of opinion, accompanied by a degree of prejudice and tenacity to error, which would appear altogether incredible in men of such acquirements as many of them are, did we not know by experience, that it is the uniform attendant of opposition to power in all ages and parts of the world.
By constantly raising the war-cry of freedom, and adopting the doctrines which were agreeable to the humbler classes of the people, in whom their principal political support is to be found, this party have gradually acquired a very great influence over the middling and lower orders. During the war, from the excitation of national enthusiasm, and the influence of government in the disposal of its enormous expenditure, this influence was not sensibly perceived; but since the peace, it has been constantly and steadily on the increase, and has at length produced the social tempest by which we are now assailed. The conservative party were not aware of their danger reposing in fancied security on the laurels of Nelson and Wellington; strong in the consciousness of the real justice and wisdom of their principles; regarding with satisfaction the growing magnitude, increasing opulence, and augmenting splendour of the empire under their
lenient and moderate sway-they did not perceive how extensively the delusion of error, the poison of infidelity, the seeds of anarchy, had spread among the people. They were not aware that a great part of the British youth, in all ranks, had adopted liberal principles; that the press, directing the fountains of human thought, had almost all espoused the liberal side; and that in the midst of the glories and splendour arising from the triumph of conser vative principles, the opposite party, just because these glories and that splendour had crowned the efforts of their opponents, had gradually disseminated the delusions which were calculated to overthrow them. By incessant exertions at public meetings, in periodical journals, newspapers, and political publications, by propagating the doctrines most agreeable to the immense class of readers whom general education was wakening into political activity, and by sedulously striving to instil their principles into the minds of youth, ever accessible to error when disguised under the splendid colouring of freedom and liberality, they have succeeded in poisoning the sources of knowledge, and producing a state of mind in the public which cannot, it is to be feared, be eradicated without an experience of the suffering which such errors are calculated to produce, and of which we are beginning to feel the com mencement. They have mingled not life, but death in the honied cup, and the nation is writhing under the poison which it has received.
"Cosi al 'egro fanciul' porgiamo, aspersi, Di soavelicor gli orsi del vaso Succhi amari, ingannato intanto ei bene Et dal' inganno suo morte receve. It is from the same 'cause that the alarming fact is to be accounted for, that a large proportion of the middling orders of that important class, who, in 1793, were almost unanimous against the principles of revolution, are now become vehement supporters of the Reform Bill. The reason is, that, at the former period, they were not infected with the torrent of error, delusion, and sophistry,with which, for the forty succeeding years, the Whigs have incessantly filled the public mind. The plain good sense
of Englishmen was not then undermined by the "fanaticism of French infidelity," as Carnot finely called it; nor was the firmness of English patriotism overborne by the extravagance of an ambitious Opposition. They had not then learned to veil irreligion under, the cloak of liberalitylicentiousness under that of libertyor paradox under that of philosophy. It is the incessant efforts of the Whig party, since they were excluded from office, to pervert the public mind, coupled, with the attractive garb of liberality and freedom which they wore, which has gone so far to shake the pillars of national security, and prepared the way for public convulsion, by the unhinging of private opinion. The Tories have much to answer for, in not having sooner made exertions to stem this devastating torrent; but the truth is, they were not aware of their danger, and reposed in fancied security on the edge of an abyss, which was silently preparing to engulf them. They did not recollect, that there is no barrier so great no power so overwhelming-that is not, in the end, overcome by the incessant application of an inconsiderable force that towers which withstood the shock of war, yield to the mouldering hand of vegetation and that mountain barriers, impassible to human strength, are worn through by the ceaseless flow of water.
We do not accuse the leaders of Whig thought of intentional error, or a wish to injure the cause of humanity. We are convinced they acted on principles the very reverse; and we have no doubt, as human nature is every where the same, that, in similar circumstances, we should be as much warped by error, and mystified by prejudice, as they have been. What we assert is, that circumstances have produced an utter perversion of mind, and blindness to truth, in almost the whole of their body: that, following the principle of opposition, even in speculative thought, they have studied, not with the design of discovering truth, but of discovering arguments against their opponents, and adopted error, not because it was supported by reason, or justified by experience, but because their antagonists had stumbled upon truth. This principle af
fords a key to their grand errors on merly; and all of the manufacturing all subjects. The Tories supported towns of Britain have added fifty, the war, therefore the Whigs oppo- many one hundred per cent, to sed it; the Tories based their autho their numbers, during the last ten rity on the influence of religion, years. These changes co-existing in therefore the Whigs covertly, but the lower classes of society, with the incessantly, turned it into ridicule; warp towards error which the Whig the Tories encouraged the colonies of party had acquired during the revothe empire, therefore the Whigs lutionary contest, have combined to strove, the moment they got into produce the present extraordinary power, to depress them; the Tories and anomalous states of public supported the allies of England, and thought.slqWhen the vast and deendeavoured to weaken their eneo mocratical bodies in the manufactumies, therefore the Whigs endearing towns were wakened into polivoured to injure their allies and betical life, and had their passions nefit their enemies; the Tories supported the British against the foreign cultivator, therefore the Whigs are preparing to sacrifice him to his rival; the Tories had augmented the duties on spirits, to check the cons sumption of that ruinous article, therefore the Whigs earnestly advocated their reduction, and deluged the country with crime in conseilya asserted its fatal ascendency quence; the Tories had maintained inviolate the national faith, therefore the first measure of the Whigs was to violate it; the Tories laboured assiduously to uphold the constitution, therefore the Whigs signalized their first accession to powers by an attempt to overthrow it. Such conduct would appear incredible, on the ordinary principles of human conduct, but it is easily accounted for, when we recollect that the Protestants stood up at prayer, because the Catholics had knelt, and destroyed the cathedrals, because they had erected them. ad grujni ot daru s 10 The sudden and perilous extension of education to the lower orders of the people, at the very time that these perilous and innovating principles were incessantly inculcated by the popular party, and the vast increase of our manufacturing towns, at the same period, have both contributed to augment the same fatal propensity. The one augmented the channels by which the poison of infidelity and the delusions of error reached the lower orders, while the latter increased immensely the inflammable and corrupted mass into which they were to be poured. There are twenty of the poor who can now read, for one who could do so for
VOL. XXXI. NO. CLXXXI.