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of England since the foundation of the monarchy. The rudiments of our present constitution, the institutions which still prevail, like Gothic castles amidst the ephemeral structures of modern times, are coeval with the union of the Heptarchy. The institutions of Aldermen, Hundreds, and Tithings; of County Courts, and regular Circuits for the administration of Justice; of Parliaments, Juries, and the Supreme Tribunals of Westminster Hall, date from the reign of Alfred. During all the severity of Norman rule, it was to the customary laws of Saxon freedom that the people of England looked back with fond and unavailing regret; and when the cup of national indignation was full, and the Barons rose in open revolt at Runnymede, it was not any imaginary system for which they contended, but the old laws of Edward the Confessor that they re-established and confirmed by additional safe guards; tempering thus, even amidst the triumph of barbarous power, the excitement of feudal ambition, by the hereditary regard to old institutions. During the long and anxious struggle which prevailed between Saxon freedom and Norman severity, under the Plantagenet Kings, it was not any innovation for which they contended, but the ancient liberties of the people which they sought to re-establish, and instead of enacting new statutes, they two-and-thirty times ratified and re-enacted the Great Charter. When Papal ambition strove to obtain the mastery over British independence, the Barons of England at Mertoun refused to submit to the aggression; and their reply, Nolumus leges Anglia mutari, has been the watchword and glory of their descendants for seven hundred years. When the great earthquake of the sixteenth century convulsed the neighbouring states, the English tempered the fury even of religious discord, by the sacred reverence for antiquity; the Reformation, which levelled to the dust the ecclesiastical institutions of so many other nations, bent, but did not subvert the British hierarchy; the Church of England differed less in its precepts and its establishment from the Catholic
faith, than any other of the reformed churches, and its cathedrals still rise in grey magnificence through the realm, to overshadow the temples of modern sectarians, and testify the undecaying devotion of its rural inhabitants. When Stuart oppression combined with fanatical zeal to light the flames of civil warfare, and the sword of Cromwell stifled the fury of the great rebellion, the kingly power and the authority of the lords were alone subverted; the courts of law still continued to administer justice on the old precedents; the protectorate parliaments recognised all the statutes of the fallen dynasty; and, with the exception of a change in the family on the throne, the great body of the people perceived but little change in the system of government.*-When the tyranny of the Stuarts could no longer be borne, and the whole people revolted against the arbitrary measures of James II., it was not any new or experimental constitution which they formed, but the old and ancient rights of the people which they re-established; "the people have inherited this freedom," was the emphatic language of the Bill of Rights; and a dynasty was expelled from the throne, without the slightest change in the laws, institutions, or security of the insurgent people.-During the century and a half which has since elapsed, the attachment of the people to the constitution has increased with all the glories of which it was the parent; it withstood the rude shock of American independence, and the contagious poison of French democracy; and brought the country triumphantly through a struggle in which their minds were assailed by deadlier weapons than the sword of Napoleon, or the navies of Europe.
How, then, has it happened that so large a portion of the people should so suddenly and unexpectedly have changed their principles-that the affections, the habits, and the recollections of a thousand years, should at once have been abandoned; and that a revolution, which neither the tyranny of the Normans, nor the frenzy of the Covenant, nor the proscriptions of the Roses, could pro
* Lingard, xi, 7, 8.
duce, should have been all but accomplished during a period of profound peace, unexampled prosperity, and unprecedented glory?
The immense majority of the Reformers, indeed, are as unfit to judge of the questions on which they have decided, as they are to solve a question in Physical Astronomy, or follow the fluxionary calculus of La Grange. But still there are other men whose judgment is of a different stamp, who have been carried away by the innovating passion. While every man of sense and experience must perceive in ten minutes' conversation, that nine-tenths of the Reformers are destitute of all the information which is necessary to enable them to form an opinion on the subject, he must also have perceived that there are others, for whose aberrations no such apology can be found; who are possessed of ability, genius, and judgment, in their separate walks of life, and exhibit on this one question a rashness and precipitancy, which stand forth in painful contrast with the maturity and soundness of their general opinions. It is the delusion of such men which forms the real prodigy, and on which history will pause in anxious enquiry into
A similar and much more universal delusion prevailed in France during the early years of the Revolution. All there, whether high or low, rich
poor, patrician or plebeian, were earnest in favour of some changes in the political system; and it was not till after the States-General were assembled, that a majority of the noblesse, perceiving the tendency of the current they had set in motion, strove to retard it. But in France a host of real grievances existed, which, if they did not require a revolution for their remedy, at least demanded far-spread changes: the political system was so rotten; the energies of the people so cramped by feudal restraints, that it was impossible to set them free without such fundamental changes
sarily unhinged the frame of society, and unlocked the perilous torrent of democratic ambition. But in Great Britain, when the fever of innovation began, the reverse of all this was the case. The liberties of the people had not only never been
so great, but they were in a state of rapid and certain progression; the freedom of the press was unbounded; the democratic party was daily acquiring additional strength in the House of Commons; the close boroughs were at every election yielding to the extended influence of liberal principles; and commercial wealth, doubled since the peace, had overspread the land with unheard of prosperity. The restrictions on the " freedom of thought by the Test and Corporation Acts had been abandoned; Catholic Emancipation had been unwillingly conceded to the loud demands of the popular party; a new system of trade, founded on the recommendations of the Whigs, had been adopted; the severities of the criminal code were rapidly disappearing; the burden of taxation had been diminished by L.20,000,000 ayear since the general peace; and the legislature, occupied in plans of practical beneficence, more truly deserved the confidence of the people than it had ever done in any former period of English history. Every man of reflection saw, that so far from Reform being necessary to enable the people to withstand the increasing influence of the Crown and the aristocracy, some additional safeguard for them was loudly called for, to counterbalance the immense increase of democratic power.
For the existence of the Reform passion among any men of sense and information, in such circumstances, it is impossible to discover any satisfactory account on the ordinary principles of human thought. It won't do to say it is a mere mania, which is rapidly subsiding as the eyes of the country become opened to what was proposed to them. It is, no doubt, subsiding among the ignorant millions, who raised the cry for the bill at the late election; and among a vast majority of the men of property, who previously had no decided opinion on the subject, but now perceive the terrible consequences to which it is rapidly leading. But among the thorough-paced Reformers, whether with or without property, there neither has been, nor ever will be, any reaction whatever. Their minds seem differently constructed from those of the conservative party; arguments which appear
to the latter utterly unanswerable, are as much lost on the former as on the winds of heaven. Reason, experience, history, philosophy, the events of the day, the wisdom of ages, their own previous opinions, their own recorded arguments, produce no more impression, on them than a feather on adamant. Such men are utterly irreclaimable; they will live and die Reformers, though the Jacobin dagger were at their throat, the revolutionary halter about their necks, or the torch of anarchy in their dwellings. It is evident that the rivers of human thought have been turned by their source; the poison has mingled with the fountains of knowledge, and instead of its waters flowing in a deep and healthful stream, covering the frontiers of civilisation from the invasion of error, they have formed only a noxious and pestilential current, carrying death and desolation into all the people through whom they flow.
9100, 901 be 7T9/ It cannot be an useless or uninteresting subject of discussion, to endeavour to trace the causes of this extraordinary phenomenon, and perhaps even amidst the darkest features which it exhibits, we may discover traces of the incipient operation of the healing powers of nature, and signs of the wisdom which governs, amidst the madness of the passions which desolate, the world. 101
"Other religions," says the ablest and most philosophical of diving historians, proposed to establish the welfare of society by positive regu lations, and laid down a code for the government of mankind in all the varied walks of life, but society soon outgrew its fetters, and the code of an antiquated theocracy was thrown aside, or burst asunder by the expansion of the human mind. Chris
tianity alone aimed at a different object. Prescribing no rule for the formation of society; dictating nothing to the forms of government, it has concentrated all its energies to coerce the human heart: it is against its depravity that all its precepts are directed; restrain its passions, that all itsfetters are moulded. The consequence has been, that its progress has been as steady and progressive as that of other religions has been transient and ephemeral. Mahometanism is already falling into decay, and, its gigantic frame crumbling with the corrupted mass whose energies it has confined; but Christianity, walking free and unfettered in the silver robe of innocence, adapts itself equally to all ages, and sways the heart of man alike in every period of, civilisation. Other religions have sought, by regulating the frame of society, to direct the human mind; but Christianity, aiming only at reforming the internal spirit of the individual, has wrought, and will for ever work, the greatest and most salutary changes on society,"
It is the counterpart of the truth contained in these eloquent words that we are now destined to witness. As the fetters which Christianity imposed upon the selfish and malignant passions of the human heart is the real cause of the freedom, intelligence, and superiority of modern Europe; so it is in the abandonment of its precepts, the disregard of its injunctions, the contempt for its restraints, that the remote cause of the present distracted state of society is to be found,The tempest of passion has been let loose upon a guilty world, because the unseen spirit which swayed their violence, and steadied the fabric of society, by purifying the hearts of 2020sils brange-ni
Guizot. We have long intended to make our readers acquainted with the profound and philosophical writings of this great man, which, as usual with all works of sterling ability, in these days of journal disquisition and party vehemence, are almost totally unknown to the British public. They exhibit instance of the resurmost the first rection of the human mind in republican France, against the torrent of infidelity, and the doctrines of fatalism; and unfold the blessed society, with an eloquence which m a research which will satisfy the doubts of the antiquary. The first breathing-time from the pressure from domestic danger which is allowed us, we shall devote to his writings: promising to our thoughtful readers that there are few more exhilarating or instructive subjects of meditation.
must overwhelm uence of Christianity on modern
declamations of the sceptic, and
its members, has yielded for a time to the influence of wickedness.
"To me," says Ciceró, much revolving the causes of the continued progress and unexampled prosperity of the Roman people, " nothing ap pears adequate to account for it but the reverence and respect which they have ever manifested for religion. In numbers the Spaniards excel us, in constancy the Germans, in military ardour the Gauls, in the resources of war the Eastern monarchies; but in devotion to the almighty gods, the Roman people exceed any nation that ever existed." As this subjugation of selfish passion to the public good was the cause of the long-continued progress and glorious triumphs of the Roman people, so the abandonment of this feeling, the excitation of popular or selfish passion, the substitution of individual ambition for patriotic feeling, was the remote cause of its decay. The passions first appeared in the strife of Gracchus: they continued through the proscriptions of Sylla and Marius: they armed the democracy of Rome under Cæsar, against the aristocracy under Pompey: they delivered over the empire of the world to military despotism at Pharsalia; and assuming then a more ignoble and sensual direction, produced the corruption of Nero, the severity of Tiberius, the infamy of Eliogabalus. Then came the age when-" corrumpere et corrumpi seculum vocatur:"* when the youth of Rome plunged unbridled into the stream of pleasure, and the matrons, disdaining the constancy even of guilty passion, applauded only the roving variety of promiscuous intercourse. It was not with impunity that this universal liberation from the laws of religion and virtue took place; the fall of the empire signalized its punishment; and ages of darkness overspread the world, until, under the influence of a holier religion, men were trained to severer employments, and called to the exercise of more animating duties.
In this disastrous progress the first step is always to be found in the vehement excitation of democratic ambition. It is not liberty, but the removal of restraint, which is its
object. Under the cloak of liberality, and the specious names of equality and reformation, it aims at a general emancipation from the yoke of duty, the necessities of industry, the restraints of religion. In all ages, accordingly, the most vehement democratic passions have been excited, not in the virtuous, but the vicious periods; not in the youth of patriotism, but the maturity of guilt; not in the age of Fabricius, but in that of Marius; and they have led, not to the establishment of liberty, but the riveting of the chains of despotism. The transition is but too easy from the vehemence of democratic ambition to the infamy of selfish indulgence; because the object of both is the same, the gratification of the passions of the individual, not the performance of his duties or his virtues.
The real love of freedom is as distinct from the passion for democratic power, as the virtuous attachment of marriage, which "peoples heaven," is from the intemperate excesses of lust, which finds inmates for hell. The one may always be distinguished by eternal and neverfailing symptoms from the other. The first is slow of growth, and cautious of running into excess; it prevails among the brave, the steady, and the independent. It aims at nothing but practical improvement; suggests nothing but the removal of experienced grievance; and shuns the very approach of violent and uncalled for changes. It was by such slow growth, and continued amendments, that the British constitution gradually arose; and its durability and beneficence has been just in proportion to the caution by which innovation was introduced, and the tenacity with which ancient custom was retained.
It was by similar means, and the prevalence of the same spirit, that Rome emerged from the surrounding states, and carried the eagles of the republic to the remotest corners of the habitable globe.
"Hanc olim veteres vitam coluere Sabini, Hanc Remus et frater: Sic fortis Etruria crevit ;
Scilicet et rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma."
The passion for democracy is distinguished by totally different features; as opposite to the former as those of heaven from hell. It seeks to remedy no practical grievance, suggests no projects of real beneficence, disdains all adherence to an cient institutions, plunges headlong into the most violent innovations, stirs up at once the most extrava gant passions. It is shunned by the cautious, the prudent, and the virtuous, and vehemently adopted by the reckless, the ambitious, and the profligate. Freedom, order, and religion, are the watchword of the former: licentiousness, change, and infidelity, the war-cry of the latter. The one prepares itself for the discharge of public, by the rigid performance of private duty; the other anticipates the overthrow of national authority, by the abandonment of individual restraint. The first strives to mode rate the feelings, and is roused to resistance only by the presence of danger; the last incessantly stimulates the passions, and ultimately dissolves the bonds of society. The one seizes the first opportunity, when the object for which it contended is gained, to relapse into the privacy of domestic life; the other is stimulated by every acquisition to fresh demands, and derives additional strength from every concession. The first produce the soldiers of Leonidas, the peasants of Morgarten, the barons of Runnymede; the last, the satellites of Cleon, the demons of Marius, the executioners of Robespierre. Centuries of content ed rule and blessed existence succeed the former: years of anarchy, followed by ages of servitude, are the punishment of the latter ogs Providence has provided for the extinction of this guilty principle in a community, as of unruly passions in the individual, by the excesses to which it inevitably leads its votaries. In contemplating the extraordinary fatuity with which, in all periods of revolutionary excitement, the popular party are roused to additional demands by every acquisition which they make, and invariably require greater additions to the power of the people from the prevalence of the very suffering which has resulted from their first successes, we might
be led to conclude with Locke, that there are occasions where a nation may become insane, or with Lowth, that, in certain extremities of guilt, God blinds the world, in order that it may incur the punishment of its sins, if we did not perceive that such is the invariable symptom of the career of passion, whether in the individual or society, and that no special interposition of Providence is requisite, because the punishment of the guilty people is inevitably provided for in the consequences of their own intemperance. It is no doubt an extraordinary thing to see a people whose industry is failing, whose wealth is declining, whose poor are starving from the shock which democratic violence has given to their institutions and springs of industry, clamouring for an extension of their powers, and blindly striving to augment the causes of their present suffering; but it is not more extraordinary than to see the gamester, whose property is disappearing, doubling his stakes at every throw; the drunkard, whose constitution is wasting from former intemperance, augmenting his daily draught; or the sensualist, whose strength is exhausted by former excesses, striving to reanimate his frame by unnatural excitation. All these effects in the individual, and in society, are produced by the same cause. It is the law of nature, that passion stimulates its votaries with every gratification to additional excesses, and that its punishment, even in this world, is certainly and rapidly brought about, by the consequences of what it has most ardently desired. N
So rapid is the progress of democratic ambition, when it is once fairly awakened in a nation, that it bears no
proportion to the length of its existence, or the slow growth of its political frame. Liberty was in a few years extinguished in Rome by the passions awakened by Gracchus; the subsequent age of suffering, through the civil wars of Sylla and Marius, of Caesar and Pompey, of Octaviusand Antony, was a vacillation of masters, not an era of freedom; the frenzy of the covenant in a few years brought the English people to the rule of Cromwell; five years did not