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interest, is tossed on the sea of life, without any definite or permanent object. The fortunes of the state crumble with the successive dispersion of individual accumulation; and generation after generation succeeds, without any addition either to the national stability, or any improve ment in the national fortune.

It is easy to declaim, now that we have obtained the advantages of regular government, against the tyranny and oppression of the feudal nobility; without that institution, European civilisation would have become extinct during the anarchy of the dark ages, or yielded to the fury of Mahometan conquest. All that we now possess, or that distinguishes us from the Asiatic people-our laws, our liberties, our religion-have been preserved by the barrier of the feudal aristocracy." Gratefully we must acknowledge," says Hallam," that the territorial nobility were, during the dark ages, the chief support not only against foreign invasion, but domestic tyranny; and that violence would have rioted without control, if, when the people were poor and disunited, the barons had not been independent and free." What was it that enabled European valour to stem the torrent of Mahometan conquest-who saved Christian civilisation from Asiatic oppression on the field of Tours-who combated the forces of the Saracens in their own domains, and fought the battle of European freedom on the fields of Palestine? Who expelled the Arabs from Spain, and maintained for eight centuries an uninterrupted contest with the Moorish spoiler? The nobility of Europe-the territorial barons, permanently interested in the soil by the hereditary possession of estates, and actuated by undecaying spirit from the descent of family honours. Compare the steady progress, regular government, and unceasing improvement, of the European states, with the perpetual vacillation, periodical anarchy, and general slavery of the Asiatic dynasties, and the immeasurable benefits of an hereditary nobility must appear obvious to the most inconsiderate ob


The freedom which is now so much the object of deserved eulogium, was nursed in its cradle by the feudal nobility. It was beneath the shadow of the castle-wall that industry, civilisation, and improvement, first took root; in every part of Europe the earliest seeds of liberty expanded under the protection of hereditary power. The traveller, as he glides along the Rhine, or descends the ra pid stream of the Rhone, or skirts the tower-clad heights of the Appenines, can still discern in the villages which are clustered round the roots of the castellated heights, the influence of aristocratic power in protecting the first efforts of laborious industry. Magna Charta was extorted from a pusillanimous monarch by a combination of the feudal nobility: the early liberties of France, Germany, and Spain, were established by the same influence, in opposition to the encroachments of royal power. For centuries before the people had thought of moving in defence of their liberties, or were capable of understanding the meaning of freedom, it had been the object of repeated contests on the part of the hereditary nobility.

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* Middle Ages.

How long did the liberties of Eng land survive the destruction of the House of Peers, and the assumption of absolute power by the Long Parliament? What was the consequence of the almost total annihilation of the Norman aristocracy by the wars of the Roses? The despotism of the Tudors-the cruel severity of Henry VIII.-the fires of Smithfield -the arbitrary reign of Elizabeth. It is a fact well worthy of notice, that the most arbitrary reign in the English annals, that in which the great est number of executions (72,000) took place on the scaffold, the greatest confiscation of private property was inflicted, the most arbitrary alterations in the laws effected, succeeded immediately the virtual extinction of the feudal nobility by the civil wars. The spirit of the Commons perished with its support in the territorial aristocracy: it seemed as if the Barons of Runnymede had been succeeded by the senate of Tiberius. To such a degree of pliant servility did the Commons arrive, that they actually declared the King's proclamations equal to acts of Parliament, and petitioned the monarchs for a list of members to be returned in the succeeding Parliament!*

How long did the liberties of the French monarchy outlive the decline of the feudal nobility, under the crafty policy of Mazarine and Richlieu? What became of the boasted liberties of Arragon and Castile, when their nobles were crushed by the despotism of the Austrian monarchs, or corrupted by the wealth of American slavery? After the Patricians were corrupted, and the Plebeians left alone in presence of military power, how long did the freedom of Rome survive? When the nobility fought the last battle of Roman virtue at Pharsalia, did not the people fill the ranks of the usurper, and join with him in forging chains for their country? Did not the children of the very men who had burned with Gracchus in the forum, and shaken by democratic violence the firm bulwark of the republic, break, under the dictator, the liberties of their country, and extinguish its last embers on the field of Philippi? Did not the citizens

of Rome, worn out with dissensions of democratic violence, and shattered by the collision of military with pos pular power, fly for refuge under the shadow of despotism, and seek in the servility of the empire, that security which could no longer be found amidst the storms of the republic?

The destruction of Roman freedom was immediately owing to the people revolting against the aristo-cracy. The firmness and steadiness of the senate had long preserved the fortunes and favoured the growth of the republic; but when plebeian ambition prevailed over aristocra tic power, the vacillation and convulsions immediately commenced, which were the sure forerunners of military despotism. Marius, the first consul of plebeian blood, brought the democracy into immediate collision with the aristocracy; and, but for the magnanimous surrender of absolute power by Sylla, the liberties of Rome had perished in the first struggle. The democracy afterwards chose Cæsar as their leader: the eloquent apologist of Catiline's Conspiracy commanded all the suffrages of the popular party; and by a popular act, in opposition to the most vehement resistance from the senate, they twice conferred upon him, for five years, the important province of Gaul, with five legions. The subjugation of Rome, therefore, and the extinction of its freedom, was only immediately owing to military ambition; its remote cause is to be found in the democratic spirit which had placed power in the hands of that ambition-and this was the work of the plebeians, blindly rushing, like our reformers, upon their own ruin, out of jealousy to their hereditary legislators.

Freedom in the Italian republics was entirely of aristocratical birth: In the freest period of Italian history, 20,000 citizens in the great towns of Florence, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Pisa, and Sienna, gave law to as many millions of people. When the progress of opulence, when five centuries of civilisation, had corrupted the citizens of the republics, what became of Italian freedom? Did the people alone, without the

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aid of their superiors, long maintain the fabric of liberty? It everywhere crumbled into ruins; in some instances, on the first assault of external violence, in most, by the voluntary surrender of their liberties to a neighbouring tyrant. Deprived of the steady support and systematic conduct of the aristocracy, the vehemence of party strife became so excessive, that the tranquillity of despotism was, by common consent, deemed an eligible exchange.

The nobility of France were destroyed in the first burst of the Revolution; or rather, seduced by the applauses and intimidated by the threats of the people, they voluntarily abdicated all their privileges, and trusted to maintain their ascendency by heading the movement. From that day, not only their own power but the liberty of the country were destroyed despotism more than that of the Bourbons-energy more terrible than that of legitimate imbecility, crushed the ambition of the people. The tyrants of their own creation were a thou


d times worse than those they deposed. The energy of Danto he cruelty of Robespierre, the espotism of the Directory, the sceptre of Napoleon, by turns ruled the state. Freedom, more real free dom than France had ever enjoyed since the days of Clovis, was revived, with the partial restoration of the nobility, on the return of Louis: it has now perished with the expulsion of Charles; and the bayonets of the National Guards, again, as in 1790, become the unbalanced power in the state. It requires little foresight or knowledge of the past to foresee, that the present anomalous state of things cannot permanently continue in that country: and that if the aristocracy are indeed irrevocably destroyed, and the people left alone in presence of military power, the fumes of democratic ambition will speedily evaporate, and Eastern despotism close the scene.

Effects so uniform following the destruction of aristocratic influence in all ages and countries, must have proceeded from some common and universal cause. Nor is it difficult to see what this cause is. The people without hereditary leaders are like an army without officers: they

may succeed during a moment of extraordinary effervescence, but they are incapable of the sustained and systematic efforts requisite for lasting success. The regular and uniform conduct which is imprinted by permanence of interest on the measures of an aristocratic, can never be attained by a popular government. With the excitation of the moment their efforts relax; the cheers of a mob are succeeded by their unavoidable panics. The maxim, "varium et mutabile semper," is the characteristic not more of feminine inclination than of plebeian ambition. New events arise, other objects of desire present themselves; in the rapid changes of public men, which the endless vacillations of popular favour occasion, all permanent or systematic conduct is abandoned. The same generation who were intoxicated with the passion for freedom, in 1789, trembled in silence beneath the Reign of Terror, crouched under the severe yoke of the Directory, and

followed with enthusiastic shouts the car of Napoleon.

Let any man observe the rapid, extraordinary, and almost inconceivable changes of opinion which take place in the objects and desires of the people, even in the most regular and systematic governments, and he will cease to be surprised at such vacillation and weakness in their conduct, when they are deprived of their hereditary leaders. Observe the changes of opinion which have occurred within our own recollection. Who was so popular as the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo? When amidst a nation's transports he received the thanks of the House of Commons, or went in procession to St Paul's, to share in the universal thanksgiving, who would have been bold enough to foretell that in fifteen years he should be stoned like another Scipio through the streets of the capital, which he had saved from a greater than Hannibal? Recollect the universal intoxication on the fall of Paris : could any man have believed in those days that in so short a time the glories of that period should in all the popular journals be the subject of envious obloquy as triumphs of the boroughmongers, in which the people had no interest? Who has forgot the vehe

mence of popular interest in the late Queen? The files of the Times demonstrate that the whole energies of that popular journal were for months together devoted to demonstrate that the driven snow was not purer than the virtue of that much injured princess. In what company is her life now to be found in the shops of the metropolis? We give no opinion on the character of that celebrated person; we mention only the mutability of opinion regarding her. What volumes of panegyrics have for centuries been lavished on the British Constitution? What theme was, till within these few months, so common with the learned, so grateful to the patriotic, so acceptable to the people? When did the national theatres resound with such unanimous applause, as when the British Constitution was the subject of panegyric, and the fond wish expressed that it should be perpetual? And now, what topic is so hateful to the people, as the very one which so recently was an universal favourite; or what sentiments so sure a passport to popular favour as the most vehement condemnation of those very institutions which had so long been the subject of their admiration? In proportion as the British Constitution has become more popular, public opinion has become more variable; and the reverence for antiquity, the sure mark of stable,. exchanged for the passion for change, the invariable characteristic of declining institutions. St Paul well characterised not only the Athenian, but all other democracies, when he said that they passed their lives in hearing and seeing something new.

It is this excessive vacillation of all democratic societies, which renders them the certain prey, in a very short time, either of military despotism, or monarchical power. The continual change of the leaders of the people, with the endless mutations of their affections, renders them incapable of acquiring any skill or experience in political life, or of permanently prosecuting any object whatever: the people, however vehement in support of their liberties at one time, become enamoured of some other object at another, and in the prosecution of this new phantom, they speedily relinquish to ambitious hands the guidance of their free,

dom. Steady in nothing but the unceasing jealousy of their governors,-they pull down with merciless severity all those who have for a few months been placed at the head of affairs. They are tired, like the Athenian populace, of hearing them called the Just. The consequence is, that no steady system, and no skill, either in politics or war, can be attained by their leaders: and they become incapable of resisting foreign subjugation but by crouching under a despotic yoke of their own creation. The fortunes of republican France were rapidly on the decline, and the existence of the country hung on a thread, when the Committee of Public Safety arose, and crushing all the chimeras of general equality, drew forth the resources of the country, by an oppression unparalleled since the beginning of the world.

Now, the liberties of a people, after the extinction of its hereditary legislators, are constantly exposed to attacks from persevering and reckless ambition. The mob unarmed divided, and vacillating, find th selves in presence of an orga and ambitious military force. ring the tumults and suffering consequent on civil convulsions, the army becomes not only the only refuge of the daring, but the only organized force in the country. Hence the extraordinary facility with which a military usurper has, in all ages, put the finishing stroke to public distractions, by establishing his own power on the ruins of democratic institutions. The people, having destroyed their natural leaders, and overturned all the settled relations of life, are no more capable of withstanding them, than the rabble in the streets are of resisting a charge of steel-clad cuirassiers.

In defending, therefore, the institutions of the country from being overthrown, the British aristocracy are not maintaining any privileges of their own in opposition to the public welfare: they are preserving the freedom of England from destruction; they are saving an infatuated nation from the otherwise inevitable consequences of its own madness. Like the Jewish legislator, they are called upon to stand between people and the plague: and t ple to their latest generation y


those who now oppose their wishes, In defending the interests of their own order, they are preserving the only bulwarks of real freedom; they are standing between the tide of democratic ambition, and the sword of military despotism. If they are destined to fall, with them will perish the last defenders of order and freedom; and instead of the stable and beneficent constitution of Britain, her people will be convulsed in the madness of popular ambition, or mourn in silence beneath the weight of despotic power.

Let not the British Aristocracy be deterred by the assertion, that they are not sufficiently powerful to withstand the House of Commons. The present House is differently constituted from any prior one in English History. By the confession of the Reformers, according to the boast of the radical journals, the influence of the Peers has been almost extinguished in the late elections. What is the legitimate inference to be drawn from this circumstance? It is that the conservative party now are to be found chiefly in the Upper House; and that the two branches of the Legislature stand, in consequence of the popular triumph at the late elections, in a totally different situation from what they ever did before. The House of Commons, for the first time in British annals, no longer fully represents all classes in the state; a majority has, from popular excite ment, been returned of the tribunes of the people and unless the Aristocracy are to be destroyed, and the Democratic Ascendency rendered paramount, the Conservative Party must seek their full representation in the House of Lords.

In the counties where the Reform ers have triumphed (and that embraces almost all England), the great bulk of the landed proprietors, and almost all the clergy, are opposed to the Bill. They have been outvoted by the multitudes of Reformers, whom democratic ambition, awakened by the sudden and prodigal gift of political power, brought up to the poll. The property, intelligence, and education of the country, is arrayed on one side; on the other, numbers, energy, and popular ambition. Of

course, there are many exceptions: but this forms the present great classification of the empire. How or where is the vehemence of the tribunes delegated to support democratic power to be resisted? By the firmness of patrician purpose, and in the Senate of the British Empire.

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"Were the love of Reform," says an author, generally supposed to be Lord Brougham, a plant of yesterday's growth, it might be safe to prune it carelessly, or even pluck it up;-but that which was a few years ago but as a grain of mustard-seed, and the least of plants, is now grown to a tree, in which the fowls of the air build their nests."* Of such short growth, even in the opinion of its ablest supporters, is the present passion for Reform. "A few years ago

it was a grain of mustard-seed, the least of plants." Is it for an object of such ephemeral, such transient duration, that we are now to be required to sacrifice the British constitution? To overturn a sys

tem which has accommodated itself to the wants of twenty generations; which has grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength; which is not a passion of a few years' growth, but the result of experience since the days of Alfred? Lord Brougham says that the passion for reform has sprung up since 1782, from a meeting in the Palace Yard at York:-Such is the oldest date assigned to the wish for the new constitution; while the attachment to the old is lost in the obscurity of for gotten time.

"Can you seriously believe," says the same author, " that such men as the Dukes of Norfolk, Somerset, Devonshire, Grafton, Bedford, Lord Grosvenor, Lord Cleveland, Lord Yarborough, Lord Stafford, Lord Winchilsea and Manvers, and so many others with great estates and highsounding titles, are anxious to increase the democratic influence in the constitution beyond due bounds? The supposition that any of these men we have mentioned, who are placed in situations which render them entirely independent of the favours of the crown, would support a measure, the tendency of which was to endanger their possessions,

* Friendly Advice to the Peers, p. 17.

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