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for his audacity. A true Tory would almost as soon question the purity of his Creator as of his King. Mr. Croly, a clergyman, thinks the character of the late King* immaculate, and has written a book to prove it. Tories would disinherit their children for the vices which are graceful in a King. George the Fourth who (when Prince Regent) was expelled from a Sporting Club for a mean and disgraceful imposition ; who was an adulterer, gam. bler, a drunkard, and a cruel husband, has always been spoken of by the most puritanical Tories with a profound respect! Mr. Southey, in one of his Laureate Odes, was not ashamed to call upon the Princess Charlotte to follow in the foot-steps of her father! He could think of no purer model of propriety and morals !
“ Look to thy Sire, and in his STEADY WAY,
As in his Father's he, learn thou to tread." What amazes an honest man is the brazen-facedness with which people who most affect a moral squeamishness in other matters, will sing the praises of a regal reprobate and defend the worst crimes of a Tory Ministry. The writers in a Tory Periodical, who held up Shelley and others to the execration of mankind on account of their religious opinions, do not hesitate to defend every possible vice of which a Ruler may be guilty. There is an acrimony, an intolerance, an almost demoniacal ferocity in these champions of orthodoxy, which is in startling contrast to the character of the religion they profess. Nothing can be more violently opposed to the precepts and example of their divine Master, than the bitter and unrelenting spirit of their opposition to all those who have sufficient virtue and energy to say a good word or to strike a generous blow in the cause of freedom and mankind. Southey's attack on Byron and the detestable personalities of the Age and the John Bull may be referred to as exhibitions of genuine Toryism. Can such moral assassins, can such slavish
* George the Fourth.
adulators of the great, be tolerated by men of liberal and independent minds? Can men who have a native purity of heart or rectitude and dignity of understanding extend forgiveness to those who systematically oppose the greatest happiness of the greatest number—who systematically defend the vilest actions of men in power—and who systematically support every ancient corruption and abuse
It is wonderful how the Tories have contrived to hold up their heads for so long a period, in defiance of every nobler impulse of the human heart. It strikes one with astonishment to hear a man, apparently anxious to obtain the good opinion of those around him, avow a Tory creed. He would scarcely do worse if he were to confess himself an atheist. To profess Toryism is to profess a belief in the infallibility of Kings—a determination to support the few against the many—an opposition to all liberal and enlightened measures—a jealousy of the Press-a hatred of civil and religious freedom-a contempt for the poor, and an un. bounded idolatry of power! Toryism fades before the advance of liberty and knowledge. It is like an obscene thing that revels in darkness, and is frightened at the approach of day. It lives and breathes, and has its being only in darkness and corruption. “ The March of Intellect,” is never spoken of by a Tory unaccompanied with bitter execrations or a burst of hysterical laughter.
“ Oh! sound of fear
Unpleasing to a Tory's ear!" Out of compliment to " the powers that be,” the Tories attempt to check the progress of “this majestic world.” They forget that Canute could not stop the waves that broke at his regal feet. They are like dame Partington with her mop-driving back the Atlantic. The mere fact that the Tories have been compelled to retreat, not by the manæuvres of a particular political party, but by the impetuous energy of the public mind, roused and enlightened by the Free Press and a fresh spirit of inquiry, is of itself an VOL. II.
overwhelming condemnation of their doctrines and their conduct. They have long carried every thing before them with a high hand; but their reign is past. The last drop of bitterness has made the cup to overflow, and mankind will no longer be oppressed and insulted with impunity by sycophants, corruptionists, and tyrants. The whole spirit of literature, politics, and social life is diametrically opposed to all their views and habits. If Toryism had been suffered to obtain an undisputed influence over the destinies of nations, human nature would have experienced almost as severe a curse as that which drove our first parents from the gardens of Paradise. No reform-no improvement in morals, politics, or religion would have gained its sanction. “ The Wisdom of our Ancestors” would have descended wholly unaffected by newly discovered truths. We should have still burned witches and tortured heretics. To carry back the speculation to remoter periods, we should have regarded even our Saviour himself as a blasphemer against an established religion. Whatever is, is right. Let nothing already established be altered.–Our ancestors were wiser than we are. No innovation ! No new doctrines ! What has long been believed in by the wisest of our forefathers must be true! Let us fear God, but honor the King. A King can do no wrong"—these are the watchwords of Toryism! It is glorious to observe how this bigotry, despotism and meanness is passing away, like the morning mist, before the light of know. ledge. As of all the influences that have operated in producing this magnificent change, we are most indebted to the inestimable blessings of a Free Press; these remarks shall be followed by a tribute to its merits from Richard Brinsley Sheridan, one of the most brilliant of British Orators.
“Give me but the liberty of the Press, and I will give to the minister a venal house of peers,—a corrupt and servile house of commons,—the full swing of office patronage, -the whole host of ministerial influence,-all the power that place can confer to purchase submission and overawe resistance, –and yet, armed with the liberty of the Press, I will attack the mighty fabric he has reared with that mightier engine,- I will shake it down from its corrupt height, and bury it beneath the ruins of the abuses it was meant to shelter !”
A Whig is a nondescript animal. He is neither fish, nor flesh, nor good red-herring. He is one of
“ Those half-formed things we know not what to call,
Their generation's so equivocal.” To define his character in a single sentence or by a single epithet, as you might that of a Tory or a Radical, is impossible. By taking him, however, in his various aspects, and by hitting off his different traits by repeated strokes, the result may yield a characteristic though vague portrait of this political cameleon. He changes with every changing light. He is a trimmer ; and as much as a politician can be, he is all things to all men. He is suspected, accordingly, by all parties; for indecision and lukewarmness in politics are as objectionable as the same qualities in friendship or religion. In great public struggles they who are not with us are against us. We trust not those who go
from camp to camp and hoist neutral colours. A want of fervour and boldness in times of political excitement is less easily forgiven than even the extravagance of an opposing party; for it implies a sneaking and cowardly design to obtain some pitiful personal advantage, combined with a perfect indifference to the general good. A Whig has no touch of patriotism; he is his own idol ; his own reputation and his own place are the sole objects of his care. He therefore prudently avoids offending the majority by an open avowal of servile maxims, and yet soothes the ear of Royalty with sentiments of loyal regard. No party can accuse him of ultraism, and to maintain this equivocal merit and to avoid all palpable cause of offence to either side, he is
“ Content to dwell in decencies for ever." Thus the people cannot accuse him of any positive opposition to the cause of liberty, and the Tories acquit him of the vulgarities of Radicalism. His reception, however, is of course not very cordial from either party. He is received with doubtful politeness at Court, and is only not pelted at the hustings. Those imbecile heads and cool hearts that dare not take one side of the question from a dread of opposition from the other, or an apathetic indifference to both, may contrive to get through the world with a kind of negative credit and success, aspire to the love or admiration of mankind. As he always saves appearances and presents no points of repulsion, a Whig may be allowed the character of a respectable man, but he can never be a great one. His qualities are too vague and his conduct too cautious to excite any warmth of censure or approval. There can be no question that the Whigs, independent of their misgovernment, whenever they have wriggled themselves into power, have done more injury to the cause of truth and freedom than either the Radicals or the Tories, because by affecting to act as moderators between extreme parties they have in reality mystified sober and impartial people, by artfully attracting attention from higher objects to their own petty views and selfish interests. Thus the vital points of difference that fired the friends of truth and freedom against the advocates of despotism and corruption were long obscured by the misty and undefinable mass of Whig interests, prejudices and arguments, that were brought into play between the two great opposing parties. If these pitiful gobetweens—these miserable marplots had not lingered on the arena, we should not have waited so many centuries for the great political triumphs of the present times. The tyrants and serviles may thank the Whigs for having so long warded off their evil day. If there had been nothing to check the collision of the extreme parties, the battle must have been decided at a blow.