Imágenes de páginas

Ostracism of

posterity is still paying, and will long continue to pay, the price of their support.

Another cause contributed to the depression of the Whigs. There was a social ostracism of liberal opinions, which continued far into the present century.

It liberal

opinions. was not enough that every man who ventured to profess them, should be debarred from ambition in public and professional life. He was also frowned upon and shunned in the social circle. It was whispered that he was, not only a malecontent in politics, but a freethinker or infidel in religion. Loud talkers at dinner-tables, emboldened by the zeal of the company, decried his opinions, his party, and his friends. If he kept his temper, he was supposed to be overcome in argument: if he lost it, his warmth was taken as evidence of the violence of his political sentiments.

In Scotland, the organization of the Tory party was stronger, and its principles more arbitrary and Tory party in violent, than in England. All men of rank, wealth, and power, and three fourths of the people, were united in a compact body, under Mr. Dundas, the dictator of that kingdom. Power, thus concentrated, was unchecked by any popular institutions. In a country without freedom of election, without independent municipalities, without a free press, without public meetings, - an intolerant majority proscribed the opposite party, in a spirit of savage persecution. All Whigs were denounced as Jacobins, shunned in society, intimidated at the bar, and ruthlessly punished for every indiscretion as public speakers, or writers in the press. Their leaders were found at the bar, where several eminent men, at great sacrifice and risk, still ventured to avow their opinions, and rally the failing hopes of their party. Of these, the most remarkable in wit, in eloquence, and political cour


1 Sydney Smith's Mem., i. 65, &c.

Supra, Vol. I. 283. 8 Lord Cockburn's Memorials of his Time, p. 80, 147, et seq.; Lord Holland's Mem., i. 210.


age, was the renowned advocate, Henry Erskine. Let all honor be paid to the memory of men who, by their talents and personal character, were able to keep alive the spirit and sentiment of liberty, in the midst of a reign of terror.

Lord Cockburn thus sums up a spirited account of the state of parties under the administration of Mr. Dundas : “ With the people put down and the Whigs powerless, government was the master of nearly every individual in Scot, land, but especially in Edinburgh, which was the chief seat of its influence. The infidelity of the French gave it almost all the pious; their atrocities, all the timid; rapidly increasing taxation and establishments, all the venal; the higher and middle ranks were at its command, and the people at its feet. The pulpit, the bench, the bar, the colleges, the parliamentary electors, the press, the magistracies, the local institutions, were so completely at the service of the party in power, that the idea of independence, besides being monstrous and absurd, was suppressed by a feeling of conscious ingratitude.” ? It is one of the first uses of party to divide the govern

ing classes, and leave one section to support the gerous to' lib. authority of the state, and the other to protect

the rights of the people. But Mr. Pitt united all these classes in one irresistible phalanx of power. Loyalty and patriotism, fears and interests, welded together such a party as had never yet been created; and which, for the sake of public liberty, it is to be hoped will never again be known.

Under these discouragements, the remnant of the Whig The Whigs in party resisted the repressive measures of Mr. opposition.

Pitt,' and strove earnestly to promote the resto

But it was vain to contend against the

Mr. Pitt's


ration of peace.

1 He was removed from the office of Dean of the Faculty of Advocates 12th January, 1796, for presiding at a public meeting, to petition against the war with France. 2 Memorials of his Time, 86.

8 See infra, p. 167.

government. Arguments and remonstrance were unavailing: divisions merely exposed the numerical weakness of the minority; and at length, in 1798, Mr. Fox Their seces

sion in 1798. and many of his friends resolved to protest against the minister, and absolve themselves from the responsibility of his measures, by withdrawing from the debates, and seceding from Parliament. The tactics of 1776 were renewed, and with the same results. The opposition was weakened and divided ; and, in the absence of its chiefs, was less formidable to ministers, and less capable of appealing with effect to public opinion. Mr. Tierney was the only man who profited by the secession. Coming to the front, he assumed the position of leader; and with grea readiness and vigor, and unceasing activity, assailed every measure of the government. The secession was continued during three sessions. As a protest against the minister, it availed nothing. He was more absolute, and his opponents more insignificant, than ever.1

Mr. Pitt needed no further accession of strength; but the union with Ireland recruited his majority with an Disunion of overwhelming force of Tories from the sister the Tury parcountry. Yet, at the moment of his highest its effects. prosperity, this very union cast down the minister, and shook his party to its centre. It was far too powerful to be overthrown by the loss of such a leader ; but it

1 Lord Holland's Mem., i. 84, 101; Lord Sidmouth's Life, i. 203; Memorials of Fox, iii. 136, 137, 219. During the whole of this Session (1799) the powerful leaders of Opposition continued to secede. Mr. Fox did not come once. Grey came and spoke once against the Union, and Sheridan opposed it in several stages. Tierney never acted with them, but maintained his own line of opposition, especially on questions of finance.”Lord Colchester's Diary, i. 192.

* 1800. In February, Fox came upon the question of treating for peace with Bonaparte, and upon no other occasion during the session. Grey came upon the union only. Tierney attended throughout, and moved his annual tinance propositions. L'pon the opening of the session in November, all the Opposition came and attended regularly, except Fox."- Tbil., i. 216; Lord Stanhope's Life of Pitt, iii. 41, 76, 77; Lite and Opinions of Earl Grey, 49.

was divided by conflicting counsels and personal rival- . ries ; and its relations to other parties were materially changed. Mr. Pitt's liberal views upon the Catholic question and the government of Ireland were shared by his ablest colleagues and by nearly all the Whigs; while the majority of his party, siding with the king, condemned them as dangerous to church and state. This schism was never wholly cured, and was destined, in another generation, to cause the disruption of the party. The personal differences consequent upon Mr. Pitt's retirement introduced disunion and estrangement among several of the leading men, and weakened the ties which had hitherto held the party together in a compact confederacy. Mr. Canning — brilliant, ambitious, and intriguing -- despised the decorous mediocrity of Mr. Addington, derided “the Doctor” with merciless wit, ridiculed his speeches, decried his measures, and disparaged his friends, With restless activity he fomented jealousies and misunderstandings between Mr. Pitt and his successor, which other circumstances concurred to aggravate, - until Mr. Pitt and his adherents were found making common cause with the Whigs against the Tory minister. The Tory party was thus seriously disunited, while friendly relations were encouraged between the friends of Mr. Pitt and the Whig members of the opposition. Lord Grenville and his party now separated from Mr. Pitt, and associated themselves with the Whigs; and this accession of strength

1 Lord Stanhope's Life of Pitt, iii. 297, 306, 320, 363, 405, 428. Ibid., iv. 58. Lord Malmesbury's Corr., iv. 375; Lord Sidmouth's Life, ii. 145, &c., 298; Stapleton's Canning and his Times, 66, et seq.; Rose's Mem., ii. 466, &c. “Old Lord Liverpool justly observed that Mr. Addington was laughed out of power and place in 1803 by the beau monde, or, as that grave old politician pronounced it, the biu monde."- Lord Holland's Mem., ii. 211.

2 Lord Sidmouth's Life, ii. 254, et seq., 298, 301. Sir William Scott, speaking of the state of parties in 1803, said: “ There could be no adjustment between the parties, from the numbers of their respective adherents; there was not pasture enough for all.” Lord Malmesbury's Corr., iv. 77, 101, &c.; Lord Stanhope's Life of Pitt, iv. 21, 88, 116, 117, 139; Lord Cola chester s Diary, ii. 403.

promised a revival of the influence of their party. When Mr. Pitt was recalled to power in 1804, being estranged from the king's friends and the followers of Mr. Addington, he naturally sought an alliance with Lord Grenville and the Whig leaders, whose parliamentary talents were far more important than the number of their adherents.

Such an alliance was favored by the position of Lord Grenville, who, having been Mr. Pitt's Foreign Secretary, might fitly become the mediator between two parties, which, after a protracted contest, had at length found points of agreement and sympathy. The king's personal repugnance to Mr. Fox frustrated an arrangement which, by uniting the more liberal section of the Tories with the Whigs, would have constituted an enlightened party, progressive in its policy, and directed by the ablest statesmen of the age. Lord Grenville, loyal to his new friends, dissevered his connection with the Tories, and associated himself with the Whigs. Mr. Pitt, thus weakened, was soon obliged to make peace with Mr. Addington, and to combine, once more, the scattered forces of his party. The reunion was of brief duration ; and so wide was the second breach, that on the death of Mr. Pitt the Addington party were prepared to coalesce with the Whigs.

This disruption of the Tory party restored the Whigs to office, for a short time, not indeed as an indepen- The Whigs dent party, — for which they were far too weak, but united with the Grenvilles, Lord Sidmouth, 1806). and the king's friends. A coalition with the liberal followers of Mr. Pitt would have been the more natural and congenial

1 Supra, Vol. I. 90; Lord Malmesbury's Corr., iv. 309; Rose's Corr., ii. 100; Life and Opinions of Earl Grey, 91-97, 107; Lord Holland's Mem., i. 191; Lord Stanhope's Life of Pitt, 177, et seq.; Lord Sidmouth's Lite, ii. 370, &c.

2 Lord Malmesbury, speaking of this secession, says: “The French proverb is here verified. 'Un bon ami vaut mieux que trois mauvais parents.'"- Corr., iv. 309.

* He was created Viscount Sidmouth in January, 1805.

4 Lord Holland's Mem., i. 203; Lord Sidmouth's Life, ii. 371; Rose's Corr., ii. 368.

restored to office in

« AnteriorContinuar »