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trivial thefts, the danger of making landowners pay their debts, the danger of making anything more, the danger of making anything less. It seems as if he maturely thought, "Now I know the present state of things to be consistent with the existence of John Lord Eldon; but if we begin altering that state, I am sure I do not know that it will be consistent.' As Sir Robert Walpole was against all committees of inquiry, on the simple ground, "If they once begin that sort of thing, who knows who will be safe?"-so that great Chancellor (who is still regretted by the somewhat ponderous gentlemen said to be acute in the Court of Chancery) looked pleasantly down from the woolsack, and seemed to observe, "Well, it is a queer thing that I should be here, and here I mean to stay." With this idea he employed, for many years, all the abstract intellect of an accomplished lawyer, all the practical bonhomie of an accomplished courtier, all the energy of both professions, all the subtlety acquired in either, in the task of maintaining John Lord Eldon in the cabinet, and maintaining a cabinet that would suit John Lord Eldon. No matter what change or misfortunes happened to the Royal house,-whether the most important person in court politics was the old King or the young King, Queen Charlotte or Queen Caroline-whether it is a question of talking grave business to the mutton of George the Third, or queer stories beside the champagne of George the Fourth, there was the same figure. To the first he was tearfully conscientious, and at the second the old northern circuit stories (how old, what outlasting tradition shall ever say?) told with a cheerful bonhomie, and a strong conviction that they were ludicrous, really seemed to have pleased as well as the more artificial niceties of the professed wits. He was always agreeable, and always serviceable. No little peccadillo offended him the ideal, according to the satirist, of a "good-natured man," he cared for nothing until he was himself hurt he ever remembered the statute which absolves all obedience to a king de facto. And it was the same in the political world. No matter what politicians came and went-and a good many, including several that are now scarcely remembered, did come and go, the "Cabinet-maker," as men called him, still remained. "As to Lord Liverpool being Prime Minister,” continued Mr. Brougham, "he is no more Prime Minister than I am. I reckon Lord Liverpool a sort of member of opposition; and after what has recently passed, if I were required, I should designate him as a noble lord with whom I have the Lord Liverpool may have collateral influence, but Lord Eldon has all the direct influence of the Prime Minister. He is Prime Minister to all intents and purposes.

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honour to act.'

and he stands alone in the full exercise of all the influence of that high situation. Lord Liverpool has carried measures against the Lord Chancellor; so have I. If Lord Liverpool carried the Marriage Act, I carried the Education Bill, &c., &c." And though the general views of Lord Eldon may be described, though one can say at least negatively and intelligibly that he objected to everything proposed, and never proposed anything himself, the arguments are such as it would require great intellectual courage to endeavour at all to explain. What follows is a favourable specimen.

"Lord Grey," says the biographer, "having introduced a bill for dispensing with the declarations prescribed by the acts of 25 and of 30 Car. II., against the doctrine of Transubstantiation, and the Invocation of Saints, moved the second reading of it on the 10th of June, when the Lord Chancellor again opposed the principle of such a measure, urging that the law which had been introduced under Charles II. had been re-enacted in the first parliament of William III., the founder of our civil and religious liberties. It had been thought necessary for the preservation of these, that papists should not be allowed to sit in parliament, and some test was necessary by which it might be ascertained whether a man was a Catholic or Protestant. only possible test for such a purpose was an oath declaratory of religious belief, and as Dr. Paley had observed, it was perfectly just to have a religious test of a political creed. He entreated the House not to commit the crime against posterity of transmitting to them in an impaired and insecure state the civil and religious liberties of England." And this sort of appeal to Paley and King William, is made the ground-one can hardly say the reason for the most rigid adherence to all that was established.


It may be asked, how came the English people to endure this? They are not naturally illiberal; on the contrary, though slow and cautious, they are prone to steady improvement, and not at all disposed to acquiesce in the unlimited perfection of their rulers. On a certain imaginative side there is or was a strong feeling of loyalty, of attachment to what is old, love for what is ancestral, belief in what has been tried. But the fond attachment to the past is a very different idea from a slavish adoration of the present. Nothing is more removed from the Eldonine idolatry of the status quo than the old cavalier feeling of deep idolatry for the ancient realm—that half-mystic idea that consecrated what it touched; the moonlight, as it were, which

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Why, then, did the English endure the everlasting Chancellor ?

The fact is, that Lord Eldon's rule was maintained a great deal on the same motives as that of Louis Napoleon. One can fancy his astonishment at hearing it said, and his cheerful rejoinder, "That whatever he was, and Mr. Brougham was in the habit of calling him strange names, no one should ever make him believe that he was a Bonaparte." But, in fact, he was, like the present Emperor, the head of what is called in our modern phrase the party of order. Everybody knows what keeps Louis Napoleon in his place. It is not attachment to him, but dread of what he restrains-dread of revolution. The present may not be good, and having such newspapers,―you might say no newspapers,-is really dreadful; but it is better than no trade, bankrupt banks, loss of income, loss of old savings; your mother beheaded on destructive principles; your eldest son shot on conservative ones. Very similar was the feeling of Englishmen in the year 1800. They had no liking at all for the French system. Statesmen saw its absurdity, holy men were shocked at its impiety, mercantile men saw its effect on the 5 per cents. Everybody was revolted by its cruelty. That it came across the Channel was no great recommendation. A witty writer of our own time says, that if a still Mussulman, in his flowing robes, wished to give his son a warning against renouncing his faith, he would take the completest, smartest, dapperest French dandy out of the streets of Pera, and say, "There, my son, if you ever come to forget God and the Prophet, you may come to look like that." Exactly similar in old conservative speeches is the use of the French Revolution. If you proposed to alter anything, of importance or not of importance, legal or social, religious or not religious, the same answer was ready. 'You see what the French have come to. They made alterations; if we make alterations, who knows but we may end in the same way?" It was not any peculiar bigotry in Lord Eldon that actuated him, or he would have been powerless; still less was it any affected feeling which he put forward (though, doubtless, he was aware of its persuasive potency, and worked on it most skilfully to his own ends); it really was genuine, hearty, craven fear; and he ruled naturally the commonplace Englishman, because he sympathized in his sentiments, and excelled him in his powers.

There was, too, another cause beside fear which then inclined, and which in similar times of miscellaneous revolution will ever incline, subtle rather than creative intellects to a narrow conservatism. Such intellects require an exact creed; they want to be able clearly to distinguish themselves from

those around them; to tell to each man where they differ and why they differ; they cannot make assumptions; they cannot, like the merely practical man, be content with rough and obvious axioms; they require a theory. Such a want it is difficult to satisfy in an age of confusion and tumult, when old habits are shaken, old views overthrown, ancient assumptions rudely questioned, ancient inferences utterly denied, when each man has a different view from his neighbour, when an intellectual change has set father and son at variance, when a man's own household are the special foes of his favourite and self-adopted creed. A bold and original mind breaks through these vexations, and forms for itself a theory satisfactory to its notions, and sufficient for its wants. A weak mind yields a passive obedience to those among whom it is thrown. But a mind which is searching without being creative, which is accurate and logical enough to see defects, without being combinative or inventive enough to provide remedies, which, in the old language, is discriminative rather than discursive, is wholly unable, out of the medley of new suggestions, to provide itself with an adequate belief; and it naturally falls back on the status quo. This is, at least, clear and simple and defined; you know at least what you propose-where you end-why you pause; an argumentative defence it is, doubtless, difficult to find; but there are arguments on all sides; the world is a medley of arguments; no one is agreed in which direction to alter the world: what is proposed is as liable to objection as what exists; nonsense for nonsense, the old should keep its ground: and so in times of convulsion, the philosophic scepticism-the ever-questioning hesitation of Hume and Montaigne-the subtlest quintessence of the most restless and refining abstraction-becomes allied to the stupidest, crudest acquiescence in the present and concrete world. You may sometimes observe in conservative literature (the remark is as true of religion as of politics) alternations of sentences, the first an appeal to the coarsest prejudice,—the next a subtle hint to a craving and insatiable scepticism. You may trace it sometimes even in Vesey junior. Lord Eldon never read Hume or Montaigne, but occasionally, in the interstices of cumbrous law, you may find sentences with their meaning, if not in their manner; "Dumpor's case always struck me as extraordinary, but if you depart from Dumpor's case, what is there to prevent a departure in every direction?"

The glory of the Edinburgh Review is that from the first it steadily set itself to oppose this timorous acquiescence in the actual system. On domestic subjects the history of the first thirty years of the eighteenth century is a species of duel between the Edinburgh Review and Lord Eldon. All the ancient

abuses which he thought it most dangerous to impair, they thought it most dangerous to retain. "To appreciate the value of the Edinburgh Review," says one of the founders, "the state of England at the period when that journal began should be had in remembrance. The Catholics were not emancipated. The Corporation and Test Acts were unrepealed. The game-laws were horribly oppressive; steel-traps and spring-guns were set all over the country; prisoners tried for their lives could have no counsel. Lord Eldon and the Court of Chancery pressed heavily on mankind. Libel was punished by the most cruel and vindictive imprisonments. The principles of political economy were little understood. The laws of debt and conspiracy were on the worst footing. The enormous wickedness of the slave-trade was tolerated. A thousand evils were in existence which the talents of good and noble men have since lessened or removed: and these efforts have been not a little assisted by the honest boldness of the Edinburgh Review." And even more characteristic than the advocacy of these or any other partial or particular reforms is the systematic opposition of the Edinburgh Review to the crude acquiescence in the status quo; the timorous dislike to change because it was change; the optimistic conclusion, "that what is, ought to be;" the sceptical query, "How do you know that what you say will be any better?"

In this defence of the principle of innovation, a defence which it requires great imagination (or, as we suggested, the looking across the Channel) to conceive the difficulty of now, the Edinburgh Review was but the doctrinal organ of the Whigs. A great deal of philosophy has been expended in endeavouring to fix and express theoretically the creed of that party various forms of abstract doctrine have been drawn out, in which elaborate sentence follows hard on elaborate sentence, to be set aside, or at least vigorously questioned by the next or succeeding inquirers. In truth Whiggism is not a creed, it is a character. Perhaps as long as there has been a political history in this country there have been certain men of a cool, moderate, resolute firmness, not gifted with high imagination, little prone to enthusiastic sentiment, heedless of large theories and speculations, careless of dreamy scepticism; with a clear view of the next step, and a wise intention to act on it; with a strong conviction that the elements of knowledge are true, and a steady belief that the present world can, and should be, quietly improved.

These are the Whigs. A tinge of simplicity still clings to the character; of old it was the Country Party. The limitation of their imagination is in some sort an ad

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