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silent on the evils of tithes, church patronage, rotten boroughs, excessive taxation, pensions and places, commercial monopolies, colonial oppression, law abuses, gagging acts, persecutions of the press, and Irish grievances, the writers would have escaped the censures of their present adversaries; no obloquy would have been thrown on them for defending the Catholics, laughing at the Quakers, and sneering at the Methodists; they would have been praised as the staunch supporters of church and state, as patriots and sages who devoted their talents to protect our political and religious institutions from the unbridled licence of democratic innovation.

Another reason may be advanced for the attacks that have been made on the religious principles of the Edinburgh Review. It has been the friend of universal toleration; and those who think that religion cannot flourish without the aid of penal laws, are apt lo suspect that the advocates of freedom of thought and discussion cannot be sound in the faith. They believe, that if the government do not give an ascendency to one sect over another, its policy cannot be bottomed upon religious views. They are at a loss to comprehend how a professor of Christianity can be sincere and ardent in his opinions, if he extend the benefit of unrestricted religious freedom to those who have the temerity to break loose from the trammels of existing opinions. Notwithstanding the boasted liberality of modern times, and the rapid spread of knowledge amongst all classes, there is much truth in the following observations:t Men have extended their sphere of liberality, but it is not yet without limits. There is still a boundary in speculation, beyond which no one is allowed to proceed ; at which innocence terminates, and guilt commences;-a boundary not fixed and determinale, but varying with the creed of every party. Although the advanced civilisation of the age rejects the palpably absurd application of torture and death, it is not to be concealed , that, amongst a numerous class, there is an analogous, though less barbarous persecution, of all who depart from received doctrines—The persecution of private antipathy and public odium. They are looked upon as a species of criminals; and their deviations from established opinions, or their speculative errors, are regarded by many with as much horror as flagrant violations of morality. In the ordinary ranks of men, where exploded prejudices often linger for ages, this is scarcely to be wondered at ; but it is painful, and on a first view unaccountable, to witness the prevalence of the same spirit in the republic of letters;- to see mistakes in speculation pursued with all the warmth of moral indignation and reproach. He who believes an opinion on the authority of others, who has taken po pains to investigate its claims to credibility, nor weighed the objections io the evidence on which it rests, is lauded by his acquiescence; while obloquy from every side is too often heaped on the man who has minutely searched into the subject, and been led to an opposite conclusion.” *

These observations are not inapplicable to the Edinburgh Review; for it will be found that the “persecution of private antipathy and of public obloquy" is not confined exclusively to those who promulgate tenets which the majority think are both untrue and dangerous ; but it extends to all who have the courage to defend the victims of religious error from fanatical deBupciations and coercive laws. It is a crime in the eyes of many weakminded individuals, that the Reviewers should not only have recommended

Author of the Essays on the formation and Publication of Opinions, p. 91.

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or rashness of ours : - and that not only because we certainly have no warrant to hold ourselves out as their spokesmen, but because, though agreeing in the main with their tencts, we do not profess to acknowledge their authority, or to be guided in our opinions by any thing but our own imperfect lights. The imputations to which we now allude, however, certainly do not touch us individually- at least in the view we take of them, but are plainly applicable to all who happen to stand midway between the two'contending factions, and therefore in an eminent degree io the true constitutional Whigs of 1688—with whom, in this question, we are proud to be identified.

The topics of reproach which these two opposite parties have recently joined in directing against us seem to be chielly two :-- First, that our doctrines are timid, vacillating, compromising, and inconsistent; and, secondly, that the party which holds them, and to which they are adressed, is small, weak, despised, and unpopular. These are the texts, we think, of those whose vocation it has lately become to preach against us, from the pulpits either of servility or democratical reform.

The first charge, then, is, That the Whigs are essentially an inefficient, trimming, half-way sort of party—too captious, penurious, and disrespectful to authority, to be useful servants in a Monarchy; and too aristocratical, cautious, and tenacious of old institutions, to deserve the confidence, or excite the sympathies, of a generous and enlightened People. Their advocates, accordingly—and we ourselves in an especial manner-are accused of dealing in contradictory and equivocating doctrines; of prac:ising a continual see-saw of admissions and retractions; of saying now a word for the people—now one for the aristocracy—now one for the crown; of paralysing all our liberal propositions by some timid and paltry reservation, and never being betrayed into a truly popular sentiment without instantly chilling and neutralising it by some cold fears of excess, some cautious saving of the privileges of rank and establishment.

“Now, while we reject, of course, the epithets which are here applied to us, we admit, at once, the facts on which our adversaries profess to justify them. We acknowledge that we are fairly chargeable with a fear of opposite excesses; a desire to compromise and reconcile the claims of all the great parties in the State ; an anxiety to temper and qualify whatever may be said in favour of one, with a steady reservation of whatever may be due to the rest. To this sort of trimming, to this inconsistency, to this timidity, we distinctly plead guilty. We plead guilty to a love for the British Constitution and to all and every one of its branches. for King, Lords, and Commons; and, though not, perhaps, exactly in that order, we are proud to have it said that we have a word for each in its turn; and that, in asserting the rights of one, we would not willingly forget those of the others. Our jealousy, we confess, is greatest of those who have the readiest means of persuasion ; and we are far more afraid of the encroachments of arbitrary power, under cover of its patronage, and the general love of peace, security, and distinction, which altract so strongly to the region of the Court, than of the usurpations of popular violence. But we are for authority, as well as for freedom. We are for the natural and wholesome influence of wealth and rank, and the veneration which belongs to old institutions, without which no government has ever had either stability or respect, -as well as for that vigilance of popular control, and that supremacy of public opinion, without which none could be long pro

We are


tecled from abuse. We know that, when pushed to their ultimate extremes, those principles may be said to be in contradiction. But the escape from inconsistency is secured by the very obvious precaution of stopping short of such extremes. It was to prevent this, in fact, that the English constitution, and indeed government in general, was established. Every thing that we know that is valuable in the ordinances of men, or admirable in the arrangements of Providence, seems to depend on a compromise, a balance; or, if the expression is thought better, on a conflict and struggle, of opposite and irreconcilable principles. Virtue, society, life itself, and, in so far as we can see, the grand movements and whole order of the universe, are mainlained only by such a contention.

These seem to be the main points in that political creed to which the Edinburgh Review has adhered amidst every fluctuation in public affairs, and every change in the councils of the nation. That it does not in all respects coincide with the sentiments of a party increasing in number, and in the means of giving a wide diffusion to its principles, is a fact which no one will dispute who knows any thing of the existing state of political opinions in Great Britain. The most decisive proofs are afforded in the writings of the periodical press, in the resolutions of popular meetings, and in the determined tone of the middle and lower classes of society, that the lemper of the times is adverse to moderation. The reluctance with which the Tories have on all occasions granted the smallest concessions to the popular will, and the dubious policy of many measures which the Whigs have recently sanctioned, have awakened among the body of the people a spirit of discontent which will not be appeased, until reforms be carried of a more extensive nature than the most distempered visionary would, a few years since, have ventured to countenance. But

ose portentous indications which mark the present crisis have no immediate reference to the grounds on which the Edinburgh Reviewers have felt themselves justified in taking a middle course between the extremes of two classes of politicians, each attached to its own doctrines, and resolved at all hazards to maintain them.

It has been their anxious desire to see the people instructed in the principles of political science, and invested with real moral power to effect safely and gradually those reformations in established laws and institutions which the new wants and advancing intelligence of the community imperatively demand. In the pursuit of this object, they have recommended repair, and not demolition. Distrusting extravagant theories, and questioning the applicability of abstract principles, however ingenious and sound, to all countries and all conditions of society, they have preferred measures of practical utility, to plausible schemes of regeneration, which are not attainable in the existing state of knowledge and public opinion. At the same time, it must not be concealed that the moderation which it has been their policy to maintain has occasionally involved them in apparent contradictions, and exposed them to the reproach of compromising their independence. It was the unavoidable consequence of occupying an intermediate position between two parties, that they have not followed, with the rapidity of a more enthusiastic and less calculating description of writers, that constantly accelerating power which the influence of their exertions first called into being. These considerations will account satisfactorily for their leaning to

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aristocratical interests, their fear of the loo sudden ascendency of democratical power, and their cautious mode of dealing with the defects in the representative system, and the evils of a church establishment in alliance with the state. It is observed by the author of the essay from which a passage has been already given, that "in our principles, and the ends at which we aim, we do not materially differ from what is proposed by the more sober of the thorough reformers, though we require more caution, more securities, more temper, and more time.” In conformity with the spirit of these remarks, they have varied their policy with the exigencies of the times. As the great elements of power, wealth, and knowledge have been more widely diffused, they have pointed out the necessity of granting more extensive ameliorations, such as would bring ancient institutions into perfect harmony with modern opinions, and the intellectual progress of the age.

Those who declaiin most loudly against the trimming principles of the Edinburgh Review, should recollect that its influence in forwarding popular measures would not have been half so powerful, had it set out by maintaining the ultra opinions of the Radical party. What was the state of affairs for several years after the French Revolution, but particularly al the period when that journal first attempted to kindle in the breasts of freemen The principles of independence? Was it not the favourite object of the government to check the forward progress of society? Did it not labour, by means of corruption and threats, to inspire in the minds of the people a dread of innovation? Was it not its policy to persuade them that there was no intermediate step between reform and the horrors of anarchy ? This artful scheme, which it was supposed would effectually tame the spirit of the nation, and stifle the popular voice, might have eventually succeeded, had not the Whig politicians of the Edinburgh Review followed a middle course, -had they not, on the one hand, endeavoured to restrain the prerogative of men in authority; and, on the other, to control the inconsiderate zeal of those whose schemes of political improvement, if they had been forced prematurely on the nation, would have retarded, if not indefinitely delayed, some of the most efficient reforms that have since taken place.

To any reflecting well-informed man who has watched the course of political events for the last thirty years, and who knows the exact state of ihe public mind and of political knowledge at the beginning of the present century, it must appear evident that the Edinburgh Review would have failed to accomplish such important services for the cause of freedom and justice, had it taken the lead among the Radical party. By exhorting the Tories to give up their struggle for the maintenance of old abuses, the Whig aristocracy to unite with the people, and guide them in their pursuit of rational liberty,—and the supporters of democratical measures to modify their pretensions, it eflected more for the people's rights than if it had dilated on the first principles of government, and proved the superiority of republican over monarchical institutions.

There is only another point in its conduct requiring explanation. It has been taunted with defending or palliating on all occasions the indiscretions and tergiversations of the Whigs. That it has been identified with the leading principles of that party it has never sought to conceal, and that many of the great questions of national justice which it has advocated originated with that party cannot be denied. But this is a different thing from an indiscriminate and suspicious vindication of every political measure to which the Whigs may have given their support. Many articles might

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be referred to in the Edinburgh Review in which their faults are freely and deservedly censured. In confirmation of this statement, there requires no strazer testimony than the following extract from an Essay on the State of Parties io 1809, which was published at a time when the government had taken its stand against the increasing power of the people. After an able analysis of the causes which had led to the most alarming manifestations of public discontent, the Reviewer thus proceeds :

"Such we humbly conceive to be the course, and the causes, of the evils which we believe to be impending. It is time now to enquire whether there be no remedy. If the whole nation were actually divided into revolutionists and high-monarchy men, we do not see how they could be prevented from fighting, and giving us our chance of a despotism or a tumultuary democracy. Fortunately, however, this is not the case. There is a third party in the nation-small, indeed, in point of numbers, compared with either of the others—and, for this very reason, low, we fear, in present popularity—but essentially powerful from talents and reputation, and calculated lo become both popular and authoritative, by the fairness and the firmness of its principles. This is composed of the Whig royalists of England, -men who, without forgetting that all government is from the people, and for the people, are salisfied that the rights and liberties of the people are best maintained by a regulated hereditary monarchy, and a large open aristocracy; and who are as much averse, therefore, from every attempt to undermine the Throne, or to discredit the nobles, as they are indignant at every project to insult or enslave the people. In the better days of the constitution, this party formed almost the whole opposition, and bore no inconsiderable proportion to that of the courtiers. It might be said to have with it, not only the greater part of those who were jealous of the prerogative, but all that great mass of the population which was neutral and indifferent to the issue of the contest. The new-sprung factions, however, have swallowed up almost all this disposable body, and have drawn largely from the ranks of the old constitutionalists. In consequence of this change of circumstances, they can no longer act with any sort of effect, as a separate party; and are far loo weak to make head, at the same time, against the overbearing influence of the Crown, and the rising pretensions of the people. It is necessary, therefore, that they should now leave this allitude of stern and defying mediation; and, if they would escape being crushed along with the constitution on the collision of the two hostile bodies, they must identify themselves cordially with the better part of one of them, and thus soothe, ennoble, and control it, by the infusion of their own spirit, and the authority of their own wisdom and experience. Like faithful generals, whose troops have mutinied, they must join the march, and mix with the ranks of the offenders, that they may be enabled to reclaim and repress them, and save both them and themselves from a sure and a shameful destruction. They have no longer strength to overawe or repel either party by a direct and forcible attack; and must work, therefore, by gentle and conciliatory means, upon that which is most dangerous, most flexible, and most capable of being guided to noble exertions. Like the Sabine women of old, they must throw themselves between their kindred combatants; and stay the fatal and unnatural feud by praises and embraces, and dissuasives of kindness and flattery.

“ If this be plainly the general policy which they ought to pursue, there can be little hesitation as to the side to which they must address them

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