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manship, and whose science of government was ever to carry out, by force or management, his own strong will. The main body of the party whom he had raised to power and taken into his confidence, consisted of country gentlemen, types of immobility, - of the clergy, trained by their trust and calling to reverence the past ; and of lawyers, guided by prescription and precedent, venerating laws which they had studied and expounded, but not aspiring to the higher philosophy of legislation. Such men, contented “stare super antiquas vias,” dreaded every change as an innovation. In this spirit the king warned the people, in 1780, against "the hazard of innovation.” 1 In the same spirit the king's friend, Mr. Rigby, in opposing Mr. Pitt's first motion for reform, "treated all innovations as dangerous, theoretical experiments."? This doctrine was first preached during tlie ministry of Lord North. It was never accepted by Mr. Pitt and his more enlightened disciples, but it became an article of faith with the majority of the Tory party.
The American War involved principles which rallied the two parties, and displayed their natural antago- Principles nism. It was the duty of the government to repress revolt, and to maintain the national War. honor. Had the Whigs been in power, they would have acknowledged this obligation. But the Tories — led by the king himself were animated by a spirit of resentment against the colonists, which marked the characteristic prin. ciples of that party. In their eyes resistance was a crime: no violation of rights could justify or palliate rebellion. Tories of all classes were united in a cause so congenial to their common sentiments. The court, the landed gentry, and the clergy insisted, with one voice, that rebellion must be crushed, at whatever cost of blood and treasure. They were supported by a great majority of the House of Commons, and by the most influential classes in the country, The Whigs, on the other hand, asserted the first principles 1 Supra, Vol. I. 314.
2 Wraxall's Hist. Mem., iii. 85.
of their party in maintaining the rights of all British subjects to tax themselves by their representatives, and to resist oppression and injustice. But in their vain efforts to effect a reconciliation with America, they had a slender following in Parliament; and in the country had little support but that of the working classes, then wholly without influence, and of the traders, who generally supported that party, and whose interests were naturally concerned in the restoration of peace."
Such were the sentiments and such the temper of the ruling party, that the leading Whigs were not without apprehension, that if America should be subdued, English liberty would be endangered. Having vainly opposed and protested against the measures
of the government, in November, 1776, they sethe Whigs in ceded from Parliament on American questions
desiring to leave the entire responsibility of coercion with ministers and their majority. It can scarcely be denied that their secession like earlier examples of the same policy was a political error, if not a dereliction of duty. It is true that an important minority, constantly overborne by power and numbers, may encourage and fortify, instead of restraining, their victorious opponents. Their continued resistance may be denounced as factious, and the
1 Lord Camden, writing to Lord Chatham, February, 1775, said: “I am grieved to observe that the landed interest is almost altogether anti-American, though the common people hold the war in abhorrence, and the merchants and tradesmen, for obvious reasons, are altogether against it.” — Chatham Corr., iv. 401. –“ Parties were divided nearly as they had been at the end of the reign of Queen Anne: the Court and the landed gentry with a majority in the House of Commons, were with the Tories: the trad ing interest and popular feeling, with the Whigs."- Lord J. Russell's Life of Fox, i. 83.
2 Debates on Amendments to Address, 31st Oct. 1776, &c.; Fox Mem., 1. 143; Lord J. Russell's Life of Fox, i. 136; Lord Rockingham Corr., ii. 276; Walpole's Mem., iv. 125; Grenville Papers, iv. 573; Burke's Works, ii. 399.
3 The Tory opposition had seceded in 1722, and again in 1738; Parl. Hist., X. 1323; Tindal's Hist., iv. 668; Sinollett's Hist., ii. 219, 364; Coxe's Walpole, iii. 519; Marchmont Papers, ii. 190.
smallness of their numbers pointed at as evidence of the weakness of their cause. But secession is flight. The enemy is left in possession of the field. The minority confess themselves vanquished. They even abandon the hope of retrieving their fallen cause by rallying the people to their side. Nor do they escape imputations more injurious than any which persistence, under every discouragement, could bring upon them. They may be accused of sullen ill-temper, of bearing defeat with a bad grace, and of the sacrifice of public duty to private pique.
The latter charge, indeed, they could proudly disregard, if convinced that a course, conscientiously adopted, was favorable to their principles. Yet it is difficult to justify the renunciation of a public duty in times of peril, and the absolute surrender of a cause believed to be just. The Whigs escaped none of these charges ; and even the dignity of a proud retirement before irresistible force was sacrificed by want of concert and united action. Mr. Fox and others returned after Christmas to oppose the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, while many of his friends continued their secession. Hence his small party was further weakened and divided, and the sole object of secession lost.'
The fortunes of the Whig party were now at their lowest point; and, for the present, the Tories were com
The Whigs pletely in the ascendant. But the disastrous in- and the cidents of the American War, followed by hostil- War.
1 This Act applied to persons suspected of high treason in America, or on he high seas.
2 He mustered no more than forty-three followers on the second reading, nd thirty-three on the third reading.
3 The Duke of Richmond, writing to Lord Rockingham, said: Forst, I see, has happened, - that is, the plan that was adopted has not been steadily pursued.” — Rockingham Corr., ii. 308; Parl. Hist., xvi. 1229.
4 Burke, writing to Fox, 8th Oct. 1777, says: -" The Tories universally think their power and consequence involved in the success of this American business. The clergy are astonishingly warm in it, and what the Tories are when embodied and united with their natural bead the Crown, and animated by the clergy, no man knows better than yourself. As to the
ities with France, could not fail to increase the influence of one party, while it discredited and humbled the other. The government was shaken to its centre; and in the summer of 1778, overtures were made to the Whigs, which would have given them the majority in a new cabinet under Lord Weymouth, on the basis of a withdrawal of the troops from America, and a vigorous prosecution of the war with France. Contrary to the advice of Mr. Fox, these overtures were rejected; and the Whigs continued their opposition to the fruitless contest with our revolted colonists. A war at once so costly and so dishonorable to our arms disgusted its former supporters; and the Whigs pressed Lord North with extraordinary energy and resolution, until they finally drove him from power. Their position throughout this contest the generous principles which they maintained, and the eloquence and courage with which they resisted the united force of the king, the ministers, and a large majority of both Houses of Parliament — went far to restore their strength and character as a party. But, on the other hand, they too often laid themselves open to the charge of upholding rebels, and encouraging the foreign enemies of their country, — a charge not soon forgotten, and successfully used to their prejudice.?
In watching the struggles of the two great parties, anThe demo
other incident must not be overlooked. The cratic party. American contest fanned the latent embers of democracy throughout Europe ; and in England a demoWhigs, I think them far from extinct. They are, what they always were (except by the able use of opportunities), by far the weakest party in this country. They have not yet learned the application of their principles to the present state of things; and as to the Dissenters, the main effective part of the Whig strength, they are, to use a favorite expression of our American campaign style, ‘not all in force.'”– Burke's Works, ix. 148.
i Lord J. Russell's Life of Fox, i. 193.
2 They imprudently adopted the colors of the American army “blue and buff” – as the insignia of their party. These well-known colors were afterwards assumed by the Fox Club and the Edinburgh Review.- Rockingham Corr., ii. 276.
cratic party was founded," which, a few years later, exercised an important influence upon the relations of Whigs and Tories.
The Whigs, restored to power under their firm and honest leader, Lord Rockingham, appeared, once the restoramore, in the ascendant. The king, however, had tion of the taken care that their power should be illusory, power. and their position insecure. Lord Rockingham was placed at the head of another coalition ministry, of which one part consisted of Whigs, and the other of the Court party, Lord Shelburne, Lord Thurlow, Lord Ashburton, and the Duke of Grafton. In such a cabinet, divisions and distrust were unavoidable. The Whig policy, however, prevailed, and does honor to the memory of that short-lived administration,
The death of Lord Rockingham again overthrew his party. The king selected Lord Shelburne to Death of Lord succeed him ; and Mr. Fox, objecting to that Rockingham, minister as the head of the rival party in the 1782. Coalition, in whom he had no , confidence, and whose good
he tour ha strong
, to serve under him, and retired with most of his friends.3
This was a crisis in the history of parties, whose future destinies were deeply affected by two eminent men. Had Mr. Fox arranged his differences with Lord history of Shelburne, his commanding talents might soon have won for himself and his party a dominant influence in the councils of the state. His retirement left Lord Shel. burne master of the situation, and again disunited his own inconsiderable party. Mr. William Pitt, on bis entrance into Parliament, had joined the Whigs in their opposition to Lord North. He was of Whig connections and prin
Crisis in the
1 Stephens' Life of Horne Tooke; Cooke's Hist. of Party, iii. 188.