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elapse from the meeting of the StatesGeneral till the guillotine of Robespierre. As the spirit of democratic ambition is the most deadly and fatal poison which can be infused into the veins of a nation, so it is the one
which soonest works itself f out of the
national frame; society cannot exist under its baneful influence; to j its fury may be applied the words intended for the epitaph of Robes pierre: sidue gift, ai biel od teum 71 "Passant, ne pleure pas son sort Car si'il vivait tu serais mort." The principle of democracy, therefore, is not to be regarded so much as an original and independent evil, as a symptom of a frame disorganized, corrupted, and diseased, from other causes. It is but the application to political affairs of the unbridled li cense of passion, the abandonment of duty, the disregard of religion in private life. The arrival of such an era in a free state, is signalized by the vehemence of popular strife, the turbulence of demagogues, the dis solution of the bonds of government It is marked in a despotic community by the dissolution of public manners, the selfishness of individual character, the infamy of sensual pleasure. These two extremes, like all other extremes, are nearly allied to each other, and occasionally meet, They both spring from the disregard of duty, the abandonment of God, the indulgence of passion; both are equally guarded against by the precepts of the gospel; its sway can never be rejected without falling under the dominion of either the one or the other. It is hard to say which is farthest removed from the sobriety of freedom, the dignity of duty, the sublimity of devotion. Charles II, says Chateaubriand, plunged republican England into the arms of women;" and a similar transition from one passion to another may be observed in all ages of vehement de mocratic excitation. we do
To those who coolly consider the condition of this country during the last thirty years, it cannot fail to occur that these principles of corruption and disorder have been making rapid progress amongst us, and that whether or not reform and anarchy, or freedom and happiness, are to prevail in future, just depends on the question, Whether the princi
ples of virtue and religion, or of vice and infidelity, are predominant in the nation? If the former still retain their wonted sway over the hearts of a majority of our people; if the ancient firmness of the British character, the piety and virtue of the British peasantry, still survives in the better part of the nation, the present convulsion will sink into a calm, and the banner of England reappear free and resplendent amid the sunshine of heaven. But if the contrary is the case if infidelity has insinuated its poison into the influential part of the community-if the indulgence of passion has superseded.com the discharge of duty, and the desire of power supplanted the control of reason, let us not hope, or pray, or wish for salvation. We have been weighed in the balance and found wanting our empire is delivered to another people; and as the merited punishment for such flagrant ingratitude and violation of duty, we are delivered over to the laceration of our own passions.
of "Quos Deus vult perdere," said the Romans, " prior dementat." The principle of this maxim, which every age has found to be true, is to be found in the fatal sway of passion and intemperate feeling which prevails among those who are approaching destruction. It is not that the Almighty blinds those whom he has doomed to destruction, but that he has doomed to destruction those who are blinded by their passions. When once a people have thrown aside the restraint of virtue and religion, they find themselves precipitated into a career, either of private indulgence or public, contention, which leads inevitably to individual and general ruin.b9qqsigo si to,
It is on the same principle that the truth is to be explained, which every man's experience must have shewn to be of universal application, that those who are the most vehement supporters of democratic power in youth when in inferior, generally become the greatest tyrants when in maturer years they are exalted to superior stations. The reason is, that resistance to restraint is the ruling principle in both periods of life. When among the people, that principle operates by urging resistance to their superiors; when among the
rulers, by disregarding the control, and forgetting the interests of their inferiors.
It is another consequence of the same principle, that the men who are most loud in their support of democratical principles, who are most strenuous in contending for the overthrow of their superiors, are those who are least able to subdue their own passions, and least indul gent and beneficent in private life. Every body has heard the observa tion, that the democratic leaders are generally the severest landlords, the most tyrannical rulers, the least cha ritable and humane of the commu nity; and surprise is often expressed that they should so soon forget the poor, for whom they have made such loud professions. There is, however, in reality nothing surprising about it: on the contrary, both effects are the result of the same cause, and flow from the indulgence of the same selfish passions. The principle which actuates them, is not love of the poor, or the desire of liberty, but individual ambition, and a desire to escape from control "They desire to rule others, because they are not able to rule themselves; they strive for emancipation from the rules of virtue, or the precepts of religion, because they feel that they impose a disagreeable restraint upon their passions and their vices, vidim
It is from the same cause that every age of civil dissension is des tined to witness the unholy alliance between the passion for democracy and the principles of infidelitysThe horrors of the first French Revolu tion were ushered in by the scepti cism of Voltaire and the dreams of Rousseau, which, flowing through the souls of the people, sapped the foundations alike of private virtue and public institutions The second Revolution sprung from the irreli gion,which, like a leprosy, still over spreads the fair realms of France, and has rendered unavailing all the viru tue which has been excited, and all the tears which have been shed:099d Astonishment is often expressed that the French have not been able, after all they have suffered to prod cure a stable constitution; or the blessings of rational freedom for themselves; but the surprise must cease, when it is considered that
two-thirds of the educated youth of France are irreligious, and one-half of all the children in Paris bastards. From su such polluted fountains the streams of genuine freedom can never flow; from them can issue only the fierce contests of democra cy, or the unbridled license of corruption. It is in very different principles, in the dominion of far nobler feelings, that the foundation of liberty must be laid; in the subjugation of passion by the influence of religion, and the ascendant of reason by the performance of duty. In the outset of her struggle for freedom, France declared war against religion and she will never obtain it till she has been brought by suffering, to admit the spirit, and obey the injunctions, of the rejected faith.
Let us not wonder, therefore, that the vehemence of faction has fixed with such envenomed fury upon the British prelates, or, that the performance of the noblest act which adorns the annals of the Church of England, has given rise to the most atrocious calumny which has disgraced the history of the nation. Why did the democratic party fix with such rancour upon the twenty-five least offensive of the two hundred peers who rejected the Reform Bill? Why was the storm of popular indignation turned entirely upon the spiritual, to the exclusion of the temporal barons? Because the bishops were the guardians of the faith, which was the real enemy of the unbridled passions of the democratic party, and they flew with unerring instinct to its destruction. The demon perceived the angel which had chained, in the ranks which opposed him, and Satan knew the spear of Michael. Nominally vented on the individuals who opposed their ambition, the fury of democracy was really, directed against the faith which condemned their vices against that unseen spirit which sways the human heart, and prepares the happiness of society by subjugating the passions of its members so at
While the passion of democracy has, in every age, been found leagued with infidelity, the spirit of freedom has as uniformly been found in close union with genuine devotion. It was in the profound religious feelings of the Roman people, that Cicero tra
ced the cause of the majestic career of Roman victories-in the disregard of the gods under the emperors, that Tacitus foresaw the certain presage of their decline. The Spartan youth who died with Leonidas-the Theban who bled with Epaminondas, were animated by the same dignified spirit. The crucifixes of Switzerland, and the mountain chapels of Tyrol, still attest the devotion which burns undecayed among the descendants of Tell and the soldiers of Hofer. It was during the fervour of devo tion, that the liberty of the United Provinces arose the burghers of Haerlem cheerfully sacrificed their lives for their salvation; and from its support, that an inconsiderable province of Brabant rose victorious over the power of Spain and the Indies. The soldiers of Bruce knelt before they engaged in the fight of Bannockburn; and it was in the stern valour of the Puritans that a counterpoise was found for the despotism of Charles, and the decaying safeguards of feudal liberty. The fabric cemented by such hands, is of long endurance; it speedily acquires consistency, and shelters for centuries an united, virtuous, and happy people. That which is reared by the spirit of infidelity and the vehemence of passion, tears society in pieces during its terror, and leaves behind the wreck of nature, and a long catalogue of woes.
It is for the same reason, that constitutions struck out at a heat, are never durable, and that those only survive the decay of time, which, like the oak, have slowly grown with the progress of ages. The spirit of innovation, the passion for democracy, has created the former; the spirit of freedom, the resistance to experienced suffering, has moulded the latter. The former have followed the lurid flame of popular ambition, and perished in the strife of democratic passion; the latter have been guided by the steady light of experience and reason, and survived through ages, by adapting themselves to their wants. The former have been allied to violence, intemperance, and infidelity, and have run the destined course of guilty passion. The latter have been founded on moderation, wisdom, and religion,
and shared in the undecaying youth of the human race.
The same principle explains the uniform tendency of great manufacturing towns, in all ages of the world, to democratical and turbulent principles. In these great hotbeds of corruption, where human beings are congregated together in vast numbers where vice spreads from the contagion of multitudes, and passion feeds upon profligacy of habit-where virtue is abashed by the effrontery of guilt, and vice is encouraged by the facility of concealment
where ardent spirits inflame the mind, while they weaken the body, and licentious pleasure brutalizes the intellect, while it unchains the passions-democratical ambition has ever been predominant. These great receptacles of guilt have, in all ages, been turbulent and unruly, because they were formed of persons whose passions were ungovernable; but they have never led to permanent freedom, because they were never based on virtue and religion. The history of the democracies of Athens and Florence, of Ghent and Genoa, exhibits splendid passages and heroic actions; but no uniform progress or permanent freedom. The mob in these communities often succeeded in overthrowing their superiors, but never in subduing themselves; their annals exhibit the vehemence of" party strife, and the bloody catastrophes of popular insurrections, but never the uniform protection of all classes of the citizens, or the steady progress of universal freedom. Their rise was hailed by no grateful nations, their progress marked by no experienced blessings. Unlike the beneficent sun of Roman greatness, which shone only to improve, their blaze, like the dazzling glare of the meteor, "Rolled, blazed, destroyed, and was no
invokes heart-stirring names, and awakens ennobling recollections. Innumerable able and good men, like the virtuous part of the Reformers in these times, are misled by the homage which vice has thus paid to virtue-they join the ranks of the wick ed-they find themselves unable to moderate their excesses, and at last become the victims of the fatal al liance they have formed.ge20)
"I see well, O Athenians," said St Paul," that you spend your lives in seeing and hearing something new." The desire for innovation the contempt for whatever is ancient, or established, or venerable-the incessant craving for novelty and excitation, are the earliest symptoms of that corruption of publie thought which leads first to the strife of civil dissension, and then to the dissolution of private manners. For fifteen years past, this fatal passion has been incessantly spreading among us. This must have forced itself on the observation of the most inconsiderate. In every department of life, this great change may be observed; but in none so much so as in the objects of study, and the subjects of public interest. The old works, which contain the condensed wisdom and luminous research of ages, are neglected, and new productions incessantly brought forward to satisfy the craving of a vitiated taste. The poetry of Milton and Thomson, of Pope and Dryden, is almost unknown to the rising generation; and in its stead, the splendid extravagance of Byron, or the bewitching license of Moore, is insinuated into every breast. The great historians of former times, Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon, lie neglected on the shelves of the booksellers, while the ephemeral trash of modern novels, or the cursory sketches of galloping travellers, occupy the leisure of a voracious public. No one now goes back to the cautious wisdom of Adam Smith, or the learned sagacity of Hume; but in their stead the crude theories of Ricardo, and the rash paradoxes of M'Culloch, have become the watchword of the whole liberal party in the state. The sorrows of Clementina are forgotten -and the genius of Richardson has yielded to the changing phantasmagoria of dissipated life, or the exclusive circles of aristocratic pride. No
great works intended to be durable, or destined to be immortal, are now composed; but every thing is adapted to the fleeting taste of a capricious generation. Even Sir Walter Scott himself, the rival of Shakspeare, whose gigantic mind soars above all surrounding talent, has contributed, by his prolific ability, to deprave the public taste. New no vels, of heart-stirring interest, are now looked for as regularly as rolls for the breakfast table and while his numerous imitators have failed in rivalling his transcendent genius, they have too faithfully kept up the appetite for novelty, which his unrivalled powers created in the public mind.ianonex
The extraordinary prevalence of magazines and reviews, and the immeasurable increase of the daily press, in this age of fleeting literary talent, is another proof of the restless and unsettled disposition which forms so striking a feature in the temper of the times. In many of these periodical works there is great talent to be found; but it is chiefly directed to the gratification of the imagination, or the excitation of the passions, and seldom to the cultivation of the understanding, or the improvement of the heart. The moral essays of Addison-the dignified morality of Johnson-the elegant disquisitions of Mackenzie, would now find few readers. Stronger passions must be developed, more vehement language adopted, greater extravagance pursued, if the attention of a fickle and inconstant public is to be arrested.ng ble nest
But most of all is the intemperance, vehemence, and sophistry of the daily press, a proof of the levity and diseased state of the popular mind. In perusing the abominable mass of misrepresentation, falsehood, exaggeration, wickedness, and demon talent, which fills the pages of too many of the reforming and popular journals, it is impossible to wonder at the delusion which pervades so large a portion of the nation, or to avoid the melancholy conviction, that we are fast approaching a great national catastrophe, from the total extirpation of all religious, rational, or moral feeling in a great part of the people. On this subject we cannot do better than quote the
believe this, at the same time that they are making reports which shew that, where one working man could read and write formerly, twenty can now; being so stupid as this, but finding that the education, as they call it, does not tend to produce that submission which they teach, they have recourse to the last remedy known to the minds of such men ; namely, to punishment in all its shapes, forms, and degrees of severity."*
recent words of a well-known writer, who will not be suspected of leaning unduly to the conservative side, and whom we quote as an unwilling witness, not an authority, « The people in power, says Cobbett, at one and the same time ascribe the violent acts of the people to want of edu cation, and to the reading of cheap publications. The fable of the town in danger of being taken by an ene my, tells us that, upon a consultation amongst the tradesmen upon the best means of defending the town, the tanner said, If you have a mind to have the town well secured, take my word for it there is nothing like leather and we now hear the pub lishers of the London daily papers, whenever they hear of a riot or a fire, whenever they hear of a workhouse-keeper or an overseer's head being broken, or a tread-mill being demolished, burst out in indignant rage that the poor creatures that commit the violences cannot get a London broadsheet to read. Judging from my own feelings, I should say that it is happy for the grinders and the starvers that the working people do not get these sheets to read; for r the effect which the reading of them has upon me invariably is to fill me with revenge and with rage; and to such a degree, that, if I could be induced to set fire, the reading of these at once stupid and atrocious publications would urge me on to the act and operating on me as the music of Timotheus, did upon Alexander, I really am ready, sometimes, upon flinging down their mass of paragraphs, to seize a flambeau, and Tuso out to burn n up the whole of this infernal Wen, this col lection of filth, moral as well as physical, this poisoner of the mind, and destroyer of the bodies of the whole kingdom; but, above all things, this collection and amalgamation of li terary conceit, ceit, corruption, and stu pidity. oking at thold bevisado ever may be thought of the abstract Never 1,
Such is the opinion which this declared republican, and author of so many useful tracts for the poor, entertains of the daily press, the extension of which is held forth by the reformers as the only remedy for the violence and brutality of the people. That this press has done an infinite deal of mischief, must be obvious to the meanest capacity. But it is fully as much an effect as a cause; it originates in a depraved and diseased state of the public mind, as much as it produces or increases it. Half a century ago, the false assertions, intemperate abuse, infidel sneers, and vehement passions, of a large part of the London press, would have disgusted the whole influential part of the nation, and its authors would speedily have sunk into obscurity and contempt. Now it is to be found in drawing-rooms as well as pothouses, and is greedily perused by.. fair and high-bred, eyes, as well as the victims of intemperance or the sirens of pleasure. bregd
The consequence of this unsettled state and change of temper in the public mind, have strongly appeared in the legislation of late years. The commerce, the currency of the country, have felt the innovating tempest; deep and desolating furrows have been left in the wealth, industry, and happiness of the people, From this has flowed the sudden changes in our commercial policy, which, what
the true causes wisdom of their adoption, are now of the evil; brutal enough to believe universally admitted to have been that the people would have their too precipitately embraced: from minds changed, and be made as quiet this has flowed the fatal suppression as they were formerly, by being geof th more to augment the public of f the paper circulation, which has nerally what these stupid men call educated; being brutal enough to
distress than any similar measure
* Cobbett, Nov. 26, 1831.