Chapter II

Opposite mode of argument adopted by Conservatives And by the Philosophers of the Movement – Examples – The Peace Party – Mr. J. Stuart Mill – Grounds of the Conservatives' attachment to the Constitution of 1688 – Liberal policy pursued during the last eight years of the Tory Administrations – Sketch of the financial and political condition of the nation at the fall of the Duke of Wellington's Administration.




 It has always struck me that the antagonism between the principles of conservatism and the doctrines of advanced liberalism, or modem political philosophy, has its origin from the very outset in the totally opposite process of reasoning which they apply to the investigation of the principles of government.

The Conservative always rests his conclusions upon the experience of the past. He draws his inferences from the accumulated facts of history, and he assumes that human nature is everywhere so nearly the same that like causes will always have a strong tendency to produce the same consequences. He applies to the problems of society and government a process of analysis and induction.

The whole school of modem philosophers, dating from the first French Revolution, both foreign and English, call them Advanced Liberals, Philosophical Radicals, Socialists, Communists, call them by what name you will, pursue a diametrically opposite method. They discard and disdain experience; [p.14] they assert that man is so mutable a being, and so capable of being changed and moulded by different circumstances and conditions, that experience is a most fallible guide. They fashion for themselves some scheme of civil government, some plan of social institutions, having little or no reference to anything that has preceded it.

They adapt it according to their ideas, to be a remedy against all those evils which afflict humanity. They persuade themselves that it will banish poverty, eradicate ignorance and vice, raise human nature to a higher level, diffuse a larger amount and effect a more equal distribution of material enjoyment.

Theoretically the friends of liberty in its largest extent, they are often practically the advocates of exceptional measures most arbitrary in their character. They wage war against abuses, and there are few existing institutions which are not, in their yes, abuses.

I may remark on these two opposite modes of reasoning, that neither of them is absolutely and entirely true. The Conservative is right in assuming a general identity in human nature, and therefore in inferring that similar causes will produce similar effects. But man is not altogether so fixed and unchangeable a being as one of the lower animals, nor are the laws which govern his movements quite as capable of being measured as those which regulate the material world.

The Philosopher of the Movement is justified in [p.15] believing that progress is also a principle of human nature. He is grievously led astray when he disregards all that experience teaches, and fancies that he sees his way clearly to some total change in the organisation of society.

They find that the resistance offered by these inveterate and deeply-rooted abuses is extremely obstinate, and they do not shrink from the contemplation of overcoming it by temporary measures of suitable stringency. It may be imagined that I am describing the Convention, that these exaggerated opinions and these wild theories have passed away, and that I am raising up the ghost of 1792 as a bugbear to frighten the present generation from the paths of moderate and rational improvement. I do not think so-among our neighbours Red Republicanism, Socialism, and Communism are but different names for the revived doctrines of the Jacobins; and even in our own country similar principles are widely circulated among the operative class. But the object of my present remarks is not so much to trace the continued existence of these more transcendental opinions of democracy as to point out the essential difference between the two modes of reasoning on political subjects. They appear to lie at the very root of the matter, and to enter into all the differences from the very commencement.

There are two illustrations of my meaning which occur to me, and which may convey it more clearly to my readers.




A few years ago it was difficult to speak of war, of the necessity of strengthening our national defences, and of being prepared for the possible contingencies of an interruption to the peace of Europe, without being met by some wise-looking individual who would declare all such fears to be wholly chimerical.

He would, with a look of great sagacity, and with the air of making an original and profound discovery, assure you that mankind were formerly indeed too much addicted to war, but that they had grown wiser of late years, and were become much too rational to indulge in so senseless a practice as that of cutting each other's throats, or shooting each other through the body. He did not deny that savages like the Caffres, or semi-barbarians like the Chinese, might occasionally relapse into such habits; but that for the humane and enlightened nations of Europe ever again to resort to them was out of the range of probability: all precautions against such risks were therefore unnecessary, and inasmuch as they entailed heavy burthens upon the people, riot only unnecessary, but highly mischievous.

The Conservative would modestly urge that there was a great amount of testimony to prove that these warlike propensities were very deeply implanted in human nature; that although in the absence of all evidence it was fair to assume that no matrimonial differences of a serious character ever arose between Adam and Eve, yet that in the very next generation a conflict of a fatal character revealed the [p.17] pugnacious instincts inherent in man; that in the six thousand years which had subsequently elapsed, all history, sacred and profane, was filled with accounts of battles, sieges, campaigns, conquests, and defeats; that, in fact, war had been in a great degree the business and occupation of the whole human race; that although Europe had recently enjoyed an unusually long immunity from this scourge, yet that the period immediately preceding had been marked by international hostilities on the largest scale; that its actual state of repose might indeed be traced rather to the temporary exhaustion occasioned by the vast efforts which had been made than to any decline in the military spirit; that indeed the present lull, long as it had endured, had rather the character of an armed truce than of a permanent peace; that the Republic and the Empire had bequeathed to France the legacy of the. conscription, which was the most efficacious engine for always keeping on foot an immense army; that it was met by analogous institutions enforcing compulsory military service upon a large proportion of the male population in all the other European states; that the whole Continent was in fact bristling with bayonets; and that it was easy to perceive that there were many questions which might at any moment disturb its precarious tranquillity. All these arguments had really a plausible sound, and appeared to the unenlightened entitled to some consideration; but they made not the slightest impression upon the politicians of the Peace party.




Those who made use of them were informed, with a tone of contemptuous pity, that they were behind the spirit of their age; that they belonged, in foot, to the last age, or to some other age still more re­ mote. It was suggested to them that they were entirely deficient in that capacity and discernment which enabled intellects of a high order to estimate and appreciate the advancing movement of mankind, and that they would act wisely in future to refrain from meddling with subjects quite beyond their powers.

The war with Russia, and the battles of Magenta and Solferino, have a little staggered these philosophers, but they are by no means convinced that these accidents substantially confute their theory.

The other instance I wish to adduce is an example of the resolute determination with which the disciples of this school are resolved to mould human nature to their theories, and to sweep away all existing institutions which interfere with their philanthropic schemes of universal happiness: it is contained in the writings of a great authority among them, an author who has achieved a high reputation as a profound thinker – I mean Mr. John Stuart Mill.

He has lately republished with his name a series of Essays, which originally appeared in the Edinburgh and Westminster Reviews; and among them is an article in the Westminster Review for April 1849, written in defence of the French Revolution of 1848, and of the Provisional Government, of [p.19] which M. de Lamartine was the head, against an attack of Lord Brougham.

In it he proceeds to examine some of the doctrines then so much brought forward Communism, Socialism, the experiment of the Ateliers Nationaux, and the Droit au Travail.

Disposed to look favourably upon all these novel theories, and to approve of the ends they propose to attain, Mr. J. Stuart Mill is too clear-sighted a political economist not to perceive that there are grave difficulties in the way of carrying them into practice. Among the foremost of these are those laws which regulate the increase of the species­ those principles of population which were first formally embodied in Mr. Malthus's celebrated Essay.

This theory, which was first propounded by its author with the declared purpose of proving the impracticability of all those visionary schemes of human perfectibility which were so rife in the earlier stages of the first French Revolution, has been a stumbling-block in the path of all this class of philosophers ever since.

Mr. Godwin, then the English champion of the new school of politics, early took the field against it, and endeavoured to confute its arguments. Several others have followed in the same track, seeking to disprove his conclusions, but all without success. Mr. Mill is too practised a reasoner and too sound a political economist to adopt this course. He perceives and admits the force of the objection, and sees at once the obstacle it raises to the [p.20] realization of all those visions of perfect equality, and universally diffused competence and enjoyment, which were the delirium of 1789.

But he is too rouch enamoured with the inviting prospect to relinquish so easily the attainment of the blessings it promises. He does not, like Mr. Godwin, deny the truth of the argument, nor the serious nature of the obstacle.

But he does not admit that it is insurmountable. He at once proceeds to overcome it in the true spirit of the philosophers of the Convention, by removing it at whatever cost.

Sir James Mackintosh somewhere finely observes that all civilization reposes upon the two great institutions of Property and Marriage.

Mr. John Stuart Mill seems rouch disposed to quarrel with both.

“It is true,” says Mr. Mill, “that if people are suffered to propagate their kind according to their own discretion, and in conformity with the laws actually existing, we can have neither national work­ shops, nor democratic equality, nor general competence. If we allow the new guests to present themselves as they please at Nature's banquet, they will not leave sufficient for the old ones. If we permit the little young mouths to offer themselves to be fed without stint or limit, hunger and want will reappear; so we must stop them.”

It would be an injustice to Mr. Mill, however, to attempt to enunciate his very remarkable scheme in other than his own words : let him speak for himself.




“The droit au travail, as intended by the Provisional Government, is not amenable to the commoner objections against a Poor Law. It is amenable to the most fundamental of the objections that which is grounded on the principle of population. Except on that ground, no one is entitled to find fault with it. From the point of view of every one who disregards the principle of population, the droit au travail is the most manifest of moral truths, the most imperative of political obligations.

It appeared to the provisional Government, as it must appear to every unselfish and open-minded person, that the earth belongs, first of all, to the inhabitants of it; that every person alive ought to have a subsistence, before any one has more; that whosoever works at any useful thing ought to be properly fed and clothed, before any one able to work is allowed to receive the bread of idleness. These are moral axioms. But it is impossible to steer by the light of any single principle, without taking into account other principles by which it is hemmed in. The Provisional Government did not consider, what hardly any of their critics have considered that although every one of the living brotherhood of humankind has a moral claim to a place at the table provided by the collective exertions of the race, no one of them has a right to invite additional strangers thither without the consent of the rest. If they do, what is consumed by these strangers should be subtracted from their [p.22] own share. There is enough and to spare for all who are born; but there is not and cannot be enough for all who might be born; and if every person born is to have an indefeasible claim to a subsistence from the common fund, there will presently be no more than a bare subsistence for anybody, and a little later there will not be even that. The droit au travail, therefore, carried out according to the meaning of the promise, would be a fatal gift even to those for whose especial benefit it is intended, unless some new restraint were placed upon the capacity of increase, equivalent to that which would be taken away.

The Provisional Government then were in the right; but those also are in the right who condemn this act of the Provisional Government. Both have truth on their side. A time will come when these two portions of truth will meet together in harmony. The practical result of the whole truth might possibly be that all persons living should guarantee to each other, through their organ the State, the ability to earn by labour an adequate subsistence, but that they should abdicate the right of propagating the species at their own discretion and without limit; that all classes alike, and not the poor alone, should consent to exercise that power in such measure only, and under such regulations, as society might prescribe with a view to the common good. But before this solution of the problem can cease to be visionary, an almost [p.23] complete renovation must take place in some of the most rooted opinions and feelings of the present race of mankind. The majority both of the upholders of old things and of the apostles of the new seem at present to agree in the opinion that one of the most important and responsible of moral acts, that of giving existence to human beings, is a thing respecting which there scarcely exists any moral obligation, and in which no person's discretion ought on any pretence to be interfered with: a superstition which will one day be regarded with as much contempt as any of the idiotic notions and practices of savages.”

Mr. Mill, in enunciating this bold scheme for the advancement of human civilization and progress, has not entered into details. The machinery by which he proposes to enforce these salutary restrictions upon the right of propagating our species is not indicated.

He speaks of all living persons, through their organ the State, abdicating this right, which seems to contemplate some sort of voluntary renunciation; but it appears probable that if any refractory portion of the community dissented from the compact, it would become necessary to enforce a compulsory submission to the decrees of their organ the State.

And it is much to be feared that many attempts will be made to infringe a law which the more ignorant portion of the community may be disposed [p.24] to regard as a violation of natural rights, and as the imposition of an odious tyranny.

The penalties for a breach of it must be proportionally severe. The relations between husband and wife have long been regarded as prompted by nature, sanctioned by morality, and hallowed by religion. Education has hitherto effected so little for the instruction of the masses, that it may be long ere they become sufficiently enlightened to tolerate State interference upon this delicate ground. These prejudices, which Mr. Mill considers as having their root in “a superstition” resembling the “idiotic notions and practices of savages,” will prove very obstinate. Their existence may indefinitely postpone the advent of that golden age, not of poets, but of philosophers, in which nobody shall be too rich, and nobody too poor – in which a paternal republic shall furnish employment to all, without permitting any to exercise the despotism of capital, and in which, by a well-devised system of limitation upon the excess of births, a happy balance shall always be maintained between the supply of labour and the means of its profitable employment.

The Conservative party in their defence of the British Constitution followed a totally different process of reasoning from that pursued by Mr. Mill and by the Peace advocates in the two instances I have referred to. They did not exercise their invention in imagining a state of society of which the past had afforded them no experience, and for which it had given them no warrant.




They did not shadow forth in some distant future a condition of human affairs in which material prosperity might be diffused by a despotic interference with the most sacred rights. They analysed and compared with others the form of government under which they had flourished. They found it full of anomalies, some of them apparently at variance with the letter of the Constitution. But they found that a great result had been attained by the mere natural growth of circumstances, and progress of events, without, in many cases, it having been planned or foreseen.

That result was a really mixed form of government, in which the Sovereign had much substantial authority, and still greater influence; in which the aristocratic classes, or, to speak more correctly, the possessors of hereditary realized property, had a considerable, perhaps a preponderating weight in the conduct of affairs; and in which the democratic element exercised a large share of power.

It was a fundamental article of the Conservative creed that this mixed form of government was in itself the best that could be devised. They did not regard it in the light of a mere transition state, fitted perhaps for some early stage of society, but which ought to be got rid of as soon as mankind were prepared for a purer system. They did not look upon it as a mere education to train people to take their place in a simpler and more democratic community.

They believed it to be in itself preferable, under [p.26] any known condition of human society, either to an absolute monarchy or to a democracy. But they considered it especially as better adapted to an old, powerful, populous, highly civilized State, in which all the institutions had been moulded to suit it, and in which the character of the people had been assimilated to it.

They considered that it united three distinct elements, all necessary to the well-being of a great and free empire, but exceedingly difficult to combine and reconcile with each other.

The first was the largest share of liberty, both personal and political, which any people had ever yet enjoyed.

The second was a degree of strength and stability in the form of government which no democratic state had ever exhibited.

The third was an energy and power in the executive which had been proved adequate to cope with the centralized force and unity of action possessed by absolute States.

They estimated at a very high value that aristocratic ingredient in it which was viewed with such hostility by the modem school of politicians. Instead of looking upon it as a blemish, as a sort of weed to be rooted out gradually, they prized it as essential to the working of the whole system. It was in their eyes one of the principal securities for liberty – for individual and personal freedom. They ascribed to it much of that refinement of taste, and elevation of thought and sentiment, which [p.27] ennoble a great people. They thought that the mild social discipline which this gradation of ranks introduced through all classes of the community regulated society, and held it together.

They looked upon it as the wise and temperate substitute for those harsh police laws and perpetual interference with the freedom of private action generally in force throughout the Continent, and nowhere more so than in the revolutionized countries.

They conceived that a respect for ranks and distinctions pervaded the whole British people; that it was to be found in the pettiest country town as strongly marked as at Court or in the House of Peers. They thought that there was nothing servile in this spirit or invidious in these distinctions, because their attainment was open to all. In foot, the whole life of an Englishman of any talent or energy was an endeavour to raise himself to the grade immediately above him. To this stimulus they ascribed much of that persevering and sustained exertion which distinguished Englishmen.

They therefore cherished this aristocratic element as an essential component part of our system, as necessary to the preservation and progress of our laws and our liberties, both personal and political, of our whole scheme of civilization.

They attributed the deplorable failure of the attempt to found constitutional monarchy or any free government among the leading Continental nations entirely to the insane violence with which they had assailed all the upper classes.




They felt that this portion of our political and social system was the most liable to attack, and the most difficult to be replaced.

There are always masses of people in every state, and after a hundred failures to constitute a good democratic government there is still the raw material ready at hand, if people are to be found to repeat the experiment for the hundred and first time. An absolute government seems upon the whole the simplest and readiest expedient for regulating the affairs of a community. The human race appear generally to begin by adopting it in order to supply that necessary want, a supreme authority existing somewhere in the state. Ninetenths of mankind have probably lived and died under this species of rule since the beginning of the world, and there is not the least difficulty in reverting to it at any time or in any condition of society, when other systems break down. Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great soon accustomed the Greeks to an arbitrary rule. The turbulent plebeians of Rome, after they had sufficiently weakened the patricians, soon acquiesced patiently in the tyranny of the Caesars; and twice within sixty years have the French resigned themselves to the loss of the liberties they had vainly tried to establish, and to sit down contentedly under a government, abler and more glorious, but not less absolute, than that of Louis Quatorze.

But if all the prestige of rank be destroyed – if fortunes be despoiled, if all the social eminences be [p.29] planed down, the loss is irreparable. Nothing can restore what grows with the growth and strengthens with the strength of a nation.

Goldsmith, the most amiable of novelists, the most graceful of poets, was the most wretchedly mistaken of political economists. There never was a period when “every rood of ground maintained its man;” and if there had, men would have been little raised in condition or intelligence above pigs. The·swinish multitude in such a state of things would have been a correct description; and as for the truth of the sentiment as regards our aristocracy, that “a breath may make them, as a breath has made,” they are, of all the elements of human civilization, the most difficult to create, and the most impossible to restore. They regarded with patriotic pride the whole course, the splendid triumphs, and the glorious result of that mighty struggle between English institutions with Continental Jacobinism first, and military despotism afterwards, which terminated in 1815.

There is nothing in the present temper of the public mind so painful and repugnant to my feelings as the disposition frequently evinced to decry and depreciate that brightest period of our annals.

We always cherish it as the noblest effort to maintain national independence that ever illustrated the history of a great people. We consider its policy to have been as just and wise as it was successful. We do not scorn its heritage of glory. Glory, like knowledge, is power. We are stronger [p.30] in the councils of Europe because the lingering echoes of Trafalgar and of Waterloo still reverberate in the ears of mankind.

It was not carried on without sacrifices, and has bequeathed a large debt to the nation; but in a mere utilitarian debtor and creditor account of profit and loss, are you sure that you are not a gainer? How much of that prodigious development of your material resources, of that wide expansion of your commerce, of that vast increase of your manufacturing industry which you vaunt so loudly, do you not owe to the forty years of peace and security you then conquered? How much to that undisputed dominion of the seas which was the reward of so many victories?

It was not alone for its vigour in the war that Conservatives felt attachment and gratitude to their old Constitution. During the fifteen years of peace which had elapsed up to 1830, it had, in their opinion, shown a ready facility in adapting itself to the altered circumstances of the times.

It may suit the purposes of advanced Liberals to represent these days, of what they term the Old Tory domination, as stagnant, to describe the Parliament of that period as obstinately opposed to all improvement, and the interests of the nation as sacrificed to greedy placemen or retrograde Ministers. Nothing can be more untrue.

No period of our history was more characterized by a healthy national progress, or by more judicious practical improvements in our legislation. The [p.31] amelioration of the Criminal Code was the work of Sir Robert, then Mr., Peel; the great boon of Catholic Emancipation was the act of the Duke of Wellington's administration; and the application of the newly discovered principles of political economy to our financial and commercial system was inaugurated by Mr. Huskisson. When we compare the results of their financial legislation with those of later periods, we find that all the merit of originality is theirs, and that the good they effected was of a far more unalloyed character. The following table, compiled from Parliamentary papers, will give a curious, and perhaps to some an unexpected result of the last ten years of the old Constitution, and the two following decennial·periods of the new.


TABLE showing the amount of Taxes remitted, of Taxes imposed, and the Balance, in each of the decennial periods ending 1832, 1842, 1852.


Taxes remitted.

Taxes lmposed.


1822 to 1832


1832 to 1842


1842 to 1852






















It will be remarked that the taxes remitted in the first ten years, under the old Constitution, nearly equalled in amount those under the twenty years of the new one added together. If we take the balance between taxes imposed and taxes remitted during [p.32] the same three decennial periods, the result is still more strikingly in favour of the ten last years of the Unreformed Parliament. The clear balance of remission to the community in the first ten years exceeded that in the succeeding twenty 1mder Reform by one-third.

The imposition of fresh taxes in the first period was very small : the remission was nearly a clear gain to the whole community. In the second decennial period, that of the Whig Governments of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, the remission was only one­third that in the former one, and the imposition of fresh taxes larger by a million. But it will be remembered that the result of the Whig financial legislation from 1832 to 1841 was to establish a permanent deficit, which was only supplied by Sir Robert Peel's imposition of the Income Tax. The next ten years exhibit Sir Robert Peel's celebrated financial scheme for the re-establishment of the balance between revenue and expenditure, relieving at the same time the springs of industry by a great remission of indirect taxation. This was a bold and a successful measure, but it was effected by the imposition of the most unpopular and oppressive of imposts, the Income Tax. The general result appears to be, that the unreformed Parliament in ten years lightened the public burthens, after deducting the taxes imposed from those remitted, by an amount of nearly eighteen millions of taxes, and that in twice the number of years the subsequent. Parliaments have only remitted a balance to the amount [p.33] of eleven and a half millions, and this has only been accomplished by the substitution of some very oppressive taxes for those taken off. During the same periods the comparison of expenditure was equally favourable to the last Tory administration.
































































It is not for the purpose of making charges against subsequent Governments that I insert these figures: but they conclusively show that all the [p.34] great measures of financial reform originated with the Tory administrations of Mr. Huskisson and the Duke of Wellington; that none carried out with greater success, or to so large an extent, the reduction of taxes on articles which compensated the revenue by the increased consumption; and that, so far from the Government of the Duke of Wellington being chargeable with extravagance, it was the most wisely frugal that has existed since the Peace.

All the promises of reductions of expenditure made in 1832 remain unfulfilled. Succeeding administrations have never been able to accomplish 80 much as he effected.

Since the commencement of the Russian war the aspect of Continental affairs has so completely altered, and the necessity of increased military preparation has become so evident, that no further comparison can be carried on. I will only observe that, in many branches of the public service not connected with the national defences, a far greater spirit of frugality and economy animated the Duke of Wellington's administration than can be recognised now.

In the preceding remarks I am not impugning the management of our finances during the last twenty years All that I assert is, that the charges made upon the former Governments of extravagance and corruption have not been verified; and that the hopes then held out of a great diminution of the public burthens have been wholly disappointed.




The grounds assumed by the opponents of the Reform Bill, that the alleged financial grievances had no real existence, have therefore been shown by subsequent experience to have been correct.

In the paths of social improvements and practical amelioration, the highest praise that can be given to the Reformed Parliament is, that it has trod in the footsteps of its unreformed predecessor.

It may sound paradoxical in Liberal ears, but it

may be doubted whether, in those branches of reform applicable to all the details of every-day life, the Revolution of 1832 has not been a hindrance and an obstacle.

In the first place, the attention of the public and the time of the legislature have been diverted from these really practical and beneficial courses of action. They have been taken up with the endless party struggles and changes which have followed. They have been occupied with discussions about Ballot, Bribery, Extension of the Suffrage; some furthering, others resisting, attempts to disturb the settlement of 1832.

In the second place, the Conservative party, still so powerful, has been often disposed to look with jealousy and suspicion upon proposed changes, considering them as attacks upon a whole system which they were bound to defend in its integrity against bitter opponents, which they might readily have adopted if they had felt themselves in a more secure position.

It is impossible, in drawing a comparison between [p.36] our national condition previous to the Reform agitation and our state now, not to give a glance at the wholly altered character of our foreign relations.

I will not now discuss how far the change is ascribable to our own acts and policy, how far to circumstances over which we had no control, - I will only observe that, whatever may be the causes of our present position, our position at that time was very much the result of the policy we had pursued during the forty years preceding.

In the first place, then, the peace of Europe was really at that period as secure as peace ever can be in this fighting world.

It rested upon a settlement which England had been very instrumental in effecting, and which it was the interest of all the great powers of Europe, except France, to uphold. They had, indeed, determined to maintain it by solemnly pledging themselves to renounce all projects of territorial aggrandizement, all separate ambitions schemes, which might disturb their concord. They religiously adhered to this engagement until the Emperor Nicholas violated it by his attack on Turkey in 1854.

England was regarded with respect by all those powers, and with kindness by all the populations of those extensive dominions. Her institutions were considered, indeed, as of a peculiar character, adapted to her own state, but not at all fitted for theirs. But they excited no hostility even in the councils of the most absolute Sovereigns, They relied upon [p.37] her uniform abstinence from any description of internal interference, or of political propagandism. They had no occasion to fear the example and influence of a system which, however great and free, excited little sympathy among the democratic parties on the Continent. Both rulers and nations had not forgotten that she had come to their rescue in their hour of need, that she had borne the largest part in that great contest which had finally emancipated them from foreign thraldom. Their sympathies were still warm for the nation which had succoured them in their reverses, encouraged them to new efforts, fought with them in their concluding triumphs.

What is our position now? It is useless to blind ourselves to the fact that we are universally disliked. I will not attempt to retrace or to analyse the causes of this general feeling. They are, I dare say, for the most part familiar to my readers. They are very various, and in great part wholly undeserved by us. Many of them are, however, attributable to the change in our own foreign policy since 1830, which has alienated old allies without securing for us new ones.

Such is the brief outline of the condition of this empire at the period of the Reform Bill. It must be admitted that it was a proud, a prosperous, and a progressive one.

The advance that has subsequently been made, and the addition to our material wealth and enjoyment, does not appear to have been the result of any [p.38] new policy, but simply of our pursuing, in a time of peace and tranquillity, those paths into which the nation had already entered.

A generation has sprung into existence since this important modification in our representative system was effected – a generation already pressing forward to occupy the place of that which witnessed it. Many of the leaders in that movement, many of its opponents, still retain the foremost positions in the national councils; but the great mass of energy and intelligence which composes the workers, the active portion of every class and profession, has arisen subsequently. For them at least it appears tome not inappropriate that I should commence by this brief retrospect of the previous period, and endeavour to mark the point from which we started, before I offer my observations upon the progress and results of that momentous change; just as a navigator is careful to ascertain his point of departure, upon which he must found the calculations which are to guide him on his voyage.