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It was to such communities as these that the Whig ministers of the House of Hanover, and the great territorial families of that party, looked for popular support. As land-owners, they commanded the representation of several counties and nomination boroughs. But the greater number of the smaller boroughs being under the influence of Tory squires, the Whigs would have been unequal to their opponents in parliamentary following, had not new allies. been found in the moneyed classes who were rapidly increasing in numbers and importance. The superior wealth and influence of these men enabled them to wrest borough after borough from the local squires, until they secured a parliamentary majority for the Whigs. It was a natural and appropriate circumstance, that the preservation and growth of English liberties should have been associated with the progress of the country in commercial wealth and greatness. The social improvement of the people won for them privileges which it fitted them to enjoy.
Meanwhile, long-continued possession of power by the Whigs, and the growing discredit of the Jacobite
Ruin of the
Tories prior party, attracted to the side of the government
to the acces
sion of George many Tory patrons of boroughs. These causes,
aided by the corrupt parliamentary organization of that period,1 maintained the ascendency of the Whig party until the fall of Sir Robert Walpole; and of the same party, with other alliances, until the death of George II. Their rule, if signalized by a few measures which serve as landmarks in the history of our liberties, was yet distinguished by its moderation, and by respect for the theory of constitutional government, which was fairly worked out, as far as it was compatible with the political abuses and corruptions of their times. The Tories were a dispirited and helpless minority; and in 1751 their hopes of better times were extinguished by the death of the Prince of
1 Supra, Vol. I. 300.
2 Dodington's Diary, 386; Coxe's Pelham Administration, ii. 166.
in the new
Wales and Bolingbroke. Some were gained over by the government; and others cherished, in sullen silence, the principles and sympathies of their ruined party. But the new reign rapidly revived their hopes. The Their revival young king, brought up at Leicester House, had reign. acquired, by instruction and early association, the principles in favor at that little court. His political faith, his ambition, his domestic affections, and his friendships alike at tracted him towards the Tories; and his friends were, accordingly, transferred from Leicester House to St. James's. He at once became the regenerator and leader of the Tory party. If their cause had suffered discouragement and disgrace in the two last reigns, all the circumstances of this period were favorable to the revival of their principles and the triumph of their traditional policy. To rally round the throne had ever been their watchword; respect for prerogative and loyal devotion to the person of the sovereign had been their characteristic pretensions. That the source of all power was from above, was their distinctive creed. And now a young king had arisen among them, who claimed for himself their faith and loyalty. The royal authority was once more to be supreme in the government of the state: the statesmen and parties who withstood it were to be cast down and trampled upon. Who so fit as men of Tory principles and traditions to aid him in the recovery of regal power? The party which had clung with most fidelity to the Stuarts, and had defended government by prerogative, were the nat ural instruments for increasing under another dynasty and lifferent political conditions the influence of the Crown. We have seen how early in his reign the king began to put aside his Whig councillors; and with what The King's precipitation he installed his Tory favorite, Lord efforts to Bute, as first minister. With singular steadiness the Whigs.
1 Coxe's Life of Walpole, 379.
2 Supra, Vol. I. 22; Lord Waldegrave's Mem., 63; Lord Hervey's Mem ii. 443, &c.; Coxe's Life of Walpole, 703-707. 8 Supra, Vol. I. 30, 31.
of purpose, address, and artful management, he seized upon every occasion for disuniting and weakening the Whigs, and extending the influence of the Tories. It was his policy to bring men of every political connection into his service; but he specially favored Tories, and Whigs alienated from their own party. All the early administrations of his reign were coalitions. The Whigs could not be suddenly supplanted; but they were gradually displaced by men more willing to do the bidding of the court. Restored for a short time to power, under Lord Rockingham, they were easily overthrown, and replaced by the strangely composite ministry of the Duke of Grafton, consisting, according to Burke, "of patriots and courtiers, king's friends and Republicans, Whigs and Tories, treacherous friends and open enemies." On the retirement of Lord Chatham, the Tories acquired a preponderance in the cabinet; and when Lord Camden withdrew, it became wholly Tory. The king could now dispense with the services of Whig statesmen; and accordingly Lord North was placed at the head of the first ministry of this reign, which was originally composed of Tories. But he seized the first opportunity of strengthening it, by a coalition with the Grenvilles and Bedfords.2
Meanwhile, it was the fashion of the court to decry all "Men. not party connections as factions. Personal capacity was held up as the sole qualification for the service of the Crown. This doctrine was well calculated to increase the king's own power, and to disarm parliamentary opposition. It served also to justify the gradual exclusion of the Whigs from the highest offices, and the substitution of Tories. When the Whigs had been entirely supplanted, and the Tories safely established in their place, the doctrine was heard of no more, except to discredit an opposition.
The rapid reconstruction of the Tory party was facilitated
1 Speech on American Taxation, Works, ii. 420.
to the Tories.
by the organization of the king's friends. Most of these men originally belonged to that party; and none could be enrolled amongst them, without speedily friends allied becoming converts to its principles. Country gentlemen who had been out of favor nearly fifty years, found themselves courted and caressed; and, faithful to their principles, could now renew their activity in public life, encouraged by the smiles of their sovereign. This party was also recruited from another class of auxiliaries. Hitherto the new men, unconnected with county families, had generally enrolled themselves on the opposite side. Even where their preference to Whig principles was not decided, they had been led to that connection by jealousy of the land-owners, by the attractions of a winning cause, and government favors; but now they were won over, by similar allurements, to the court. And henceforth, much of the electoral corruption which had once contributed to the parliamentary majority of the Whigs, was turned against them by their Tory rivals and the king's friends.
Meanwhile, the Whigs, gradually excluded from power, were driven back upon those popular principles The Whigs in which had been too long in abeyance. They opposition. were still, indeed, an aristocratic body; but no longer able to rely upon family connections, they offered themselves as leaders of the people. At the same time, the revival and activity of Tory principles in the government of the state reanimated the spirit of freedom represented by their party. They resisted the dangerous influence of the Crown, and the scarcely less dangerous extension of the privileges of Parliament: they opposed the taxation of America: they favored the publication of debates, and the liberty of the press: they exposed and denounced parliamentary corruption. Their strength and character, as a party, were impaired by the jealousies and dissensions of rival families. Pelhams, Rockinghams, Bedfords, Grenvilles, and the followers of Mr. Pitt too 1 Supra, Vol. I. 24, 41. 2 Walp. Mem., i. 15; Butler's Rem. i. 74, &c.
often lost sight of the popular cause in their contentions for
But while the Tories were renouncing doctrines repugnant to public liberty, they were initiating a new principle not hitherto characteristic of their party. change. Respect for authority, nay, even absolute power, is compatible with enlightened progress in legislation. Great emperors, from Justinian to Napoleon, have gloried in the fame of lawgivers. But the Tory party were learning to view the amendment of our laws with distrust and aversion. In their eyes change was a political evil. Many causes concurred to favor a doctrine wholly unworthy of any school of statesmen. Tory sympathies were with the past. Men, who in the last generation would have restored the Stuarts and annulled the Revolution, had little in their creed congenial to enlightened progress. The power which they had recovered was associated with the influence of the crown and the existing polity of the state. Changes in the laws urged by opponents, and designed to restrain their own authority, were naturally resisted. Nor must the character of the men who constituted this party be forgotten. Foremost among them was the king himself, - -a man of narrow intellect and intractable prejudices, without philosophy or states