Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

liberties. They marked, indeed, the spirit of freedom which animated our forefathers ; but they subsided with the occasions which had incited them. Classes asserted their rights ; but parliamentary parties, habitually maintaining opposite principles, were unknown.

The germs of party, in the councils and Parliament of England, - generated by the Reformation,

were The Purifirst discernible in the reign of Elizabeth. The tans. bold spirit of the Puritans then spoke out in the House of Commons, in support of the rights of Parliament, and against her prerogatives, in matters of Church and State." In their efforts to obtain toleration for their brethren and modifications of the new ritual, they were countenanced by Cecil and Walsingham and other eminent councillors of the queen. In matters of state, they could expect no sympathy from the court; but perceiving their power as an organized party, they spared no efforts to gain admission into the House of Commons, until, joined by other opponents of prerogative, they at length acquired a majority.

In 1601, they showed their strength by a successful resistance to the queen's prerogative of granting monopolies in trade by royal patent. Under her parties under weak successor, James I., ill-judged assertions of prerogative were met with bolder remonstrances. His doctrine of the divine right of kings, and the excesses of the High-Church party, widened the breach between the Crown and the great body of the Puritans, and strengthened the popular party. Foremost among them were Sandys, Coke, Selden, and Pym, who may be regarded as the first leaders of a regular parliamentary opposition.

1 Hume's Hist., iii. 497, 511. This author goes too far, when he asserts, " It was to this sect, whose principles appear so frivolous, and hibits so ridiculous, that the English owe the whole freedom of their constitution.” Ibid., 520. D'Ewes' Journ. 156–175.

2 " The principles by which King James and King Charles I. governed, and the excesses of hierarchical and monarchical power, exercised in consequence of them, gave great advantage to the opposite opinions, and entirely occasioned the miseries which followed.” Bulingbroke, Works, iii. 50.

Conflict of

the Stuarts.

The arbitrary measures of Charles I., the bold schemes of Strafford, and the intolerant bigotry of Laud, precipitated a collision between the opposite principles of government, and divided the whole country into Cavaliers and Roundbeads. On one side, the king's prerogative bad been pushed to extremes ; on the other, the defence of popular rights was inflamed by ambition and fanaticism into a fierce republican sentiment. The principles and the parties then arrayed against one another long retained their vitality, under other names and different circumstances.

Charles II., profiting little by the experience of the last reign, — nay, rather encouraged by the excesses of the commonwealth to cherish kingly power,' — pursued the reckless course of the Stuarts; his measures being supported by the Court party, and opposed by the Country party.

The contest of these parties upon the Exclusion Bill, in Whigs and

1680, at length gave rise to the well-known names

of Whig and Tory. Originally intended as terms of reproach and ridicule, they afterwards became the distinctive titles of two great parties, representing principles essential to the freedom and safety of the State. The Whigs espoused the principles of liberty, the independent rights of Parliament and the people, and the lawfulness of resistance to a king who violated the laws. The Tories maintained the divine and indefeasible right of the king, the supremacy of prerogative, and the duty of passive obedience

Tories.

The sup

1 Bolingbroke's Dissertation on Parties, Works, iii. 52.

2 Nothing can be more silly or pointless than these names. porters of the Duke of York, as Catholics, were assumed to be Irishmen, and were called by the Country party " Tories,"'.

.- a term hitherto applied to a set of lawless bog-trotters, resembling the modern "Whiteboys." The Country party were called Whigs, according to some, a vernacular, in Scotland, for corrupt and sour whey;" and, according to others, from the Scottish Covenanters of the south-western counties of Scotland, who had received the appellation of Whigamores, or Whigs, when they made an inroad upon Edinburgh in 1648, under the Marquess of Argyll. Roger North's Examen., 320–324; Burnet's Own Time, i. 78; Cooke's Hist. of Party, i. 137.

Parties after

tion of 1688.

on the part of the subject. Both parties alike upheld the monarchy: but the Whigs contended for the limitation of its authority within the bounds of law; the principles of the Tories favored absolutism in Church and State.?

+ The infatuated assaults of James II. upon the religion and liberties of the people united, for a time, the Whigs and Tories in a common cause ; and the the revolulatter, in opposition to their own principles, concurred in the necessity of expelling a dangerous tyrant from his throne. The Revolution was the triumph and conclusive recognition of Whig principles, as the foundation of a limited monarchy. Yet the principles of the two parties, modified by the conditions of this constitutional settlement, were still distinct and antagonistic. The Whigs continued to promote every necessary limitation of the royal authority, and to favor religious toleration ;* the Tories generally leaned to prerogative, to High-Church doctrines, and hostility to Dissenters; while the extreme members of that party betrayed their original principles, as Non-jurors and Jacobites.

The two parties contended and intrigued, with varying success, during the reigns of William and of Anne; when the final victory of the Whigs secured constitutional government. But the stubborn principles, disappointed ambition, and factious violence of Tories disturbed the reigns of the two first kings of the House of Hanover with disaffection, treason, and civil wars. The final overthrow of the Pretender, in

1 Bolingbroke's Dissertation on Parties, Works, iii. 39; Roger North's Examen., 323-342.

2 Brady's Hist. of the Crown, 1684, Tracts, 339; Preface to Hist. of England, &c.; and Declaration of University of Oxford, July 21st, 1683. Cooke's Hist. of Party, i. 316; Macaulay's Hist. i. 270. Filmer says: “A man is bound to obey the king's command against law; nay, in some cases, against divine laws." Patriarchia, 100.

3 Bolingbroke's Works, iii. 124, 126.

4 Lord Bolingbroke asserts, that the Whigs, after the revolution, insisted " on nothing further, in favor of the Dissenters, than that indulgence which the church was most willing to grant." - Works, iii. 132.

ó Parl. Hist. xiii. 568; Coxe's Life of Walpole, i. 66, 199, &c.

[blocks in formation]

laris of dep xiy

1745, being fatal to the Jacobite cause, the Tories became a national party; and, still preserving their principles, at length transferred their hearty loyalty to the reigning king. Meanwhile the principles of both parties had naturally been modified by the political circumstances of the times. The Whigs, installed as rulers, had been engaged for more than forty years after the death of Anne, in consolidating the power and influence of the Crown in connection with Parliamentary government. The Tories, in opposition, bad been constrained to renounce the untenable doctrines of their party, and to recognize the lawful rights of Parliament and the people. Nay, at times they had adroitly paraded the popular principles of the Whig school against ministers, who, in the practical administration of the government and in furtherance of the interests of their party, had been too prone to forget them. Bolingbroke, Wyndham, and Shippen had maintained the constitutional virtues of short parliaments, and denounced the dangers of parliamentary corruption, the undue influence of the Crown, and a

standing army. +

Through all vicissitudes of time and circumstance, howClasses from ever, the distinctive principles of the two great waich parties parties were generally maintained ;8 and the so

cial classes from which they derived their strength 1 " Toryism," says Mr. Wingrove Cooke," was formed for government; it is only a creed for rulers.” Hist. of Party, ii. 49.

2 Bolingbroke's Dissertation on Parties, Works, iii. 133; The Craftsman, No. 40, &c.; Parl. Hist., vii. 311; 1b., ix. 426, et seq.; 16., x. 375, 479; Coxe's Life of Walpole, ii. 62; Tindal's Hist., iii. 722, iv. 423; “ Your right Jacobite," said Sir R. Walpole, in 1738, “ disguises his true sentiments: he roars for revolution principles; he pretends to be a great friend to liberty, and a great admirer of our ancient constitution."

Parl. Hist., X. 401.

8 Mr. Wingrove Cooke says, that after Bolingbroke renounced the Jacobite cause on the accession of Geo. II., "henceforward we never find the Tory party struggling to extend the prerogative of the Crown.” principle of that party has been rather aristocratical than monarchical,"'a remark which is, probably, as applicable to one party as to the other. Hist. of Party ü. 105.

drawn.

* The

still in

Traktar

were equally defined. The loyal adherents of Charles I. were drawn from the territorial nobles, the country gentlemen, the higher yeomanry, the Church, and the universities: the Parliament was mainly supported by the smaller freeholders, the inhabitants of towns, and Protestant Nonconformists. Seventy years afterwards, on the accession of George I., the same classes were distinguished by similar principles. The feudal relations of the proprietors of the soil to their tenantry and the rural population, their close connection with the Church, and their traditional loyalty, assured their adherence to the politics of their forefathers. The rustics, who looked to the squire for bounty, and to the rector for the consolations of religion and charity, were not a class to inspire sentiments favorable to the sovereignty of the people. Poor, ignorant, dependent, and submissive, they seemed born to be ruled as children, rather than share in the government of their country.

On the other hand, the commercial and manufacturing towns, - the scenes of active enterprise and skilled handicraft, - comprised classes who naturally leaned to self-government, and embraced Whig principles. Merchants and manufacturers, themselves springing from the people, had no feelings or interests in common with the county-families, from whose society they were repelled with haughty exclusiveness; they were familiarized, by municipal administration, with the practice of self-government; their pursuits were congenial to political activity and progress. Even their traditions were associated with the cause of the Parliament and the people against the Crown. The stout burghers among whom they dwelt were spirited and intelligent. Congregated within the narrow bounds of a city, they canvassed, and argued, and formed a public opinion concerning affairs of state, naturally inclining to popular rights. The stern nonconformist spirit, as yet scarcely known in country vil. lages, animated large bodies of townsmen with an hereditary distrust of authority in church and state.

« AnteriorContinuar »