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PART 1.-HISTORICAL. .
OPENING OF PARLIAMENT.-CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION.
State of Parties—The Whigs—Causes which have led to their Declension as a
Party-The Tories-Causes which have secured the Ascendency they at present enjoy-Liberality of the present Administration—State of the Country at the Commencement of the Year-Opening of Parliament—King's SpeechLong and animated Debates on the Address.
In order to form a correct judgment of them their respective representaof the relative situation of parties, and tives and defenders, who may be exthe political condition of this country pected to take peculiar and even prein 1825, it may be necessary, before judiced views of measures, by which commencing the history of that year, those interests are conceived likely to to take a retrospective review of cer- be affected, and who, consequently, tain changes which have been gradual- must sometimes assume the appearly operated in the course of events, ance of a distinct party, acting on disand to endeavour to appreciate the ef- tinct principles; yet as, in all quesfects of which these changes have been tions of general policy, we recognise productive, in as far as concerns the only one broad line of demarcation seforeign relations and the internal pros- parating those who support from those perity of the empire. Nor will this who oppose ministers, it will be conpreliminary inquiry be deemed inex- venient to overlook all minor shades or pedient or misplaced, if it shall be difference, and to arrange our observafound to conduct us, by an easy gra- tions so as to define, with some degree dation, and with a due intelligence of of precision, the actual state and influthe subject, to those important pro- ence of the party in power, and of that ceedings and discussions which it is in opposition. Ảnd, to begin with the our especial office to put upon record, latter, we may remark, that owing to for the information and guidance of their long exclusion from office, (for it the future historian.
would hardly be fair to fix upon the Although in Parliament the differ. short-lived administration of 1806 and ent great interests of the state have all 1807 as a criterion,) their principles havėnot; in the.memory of nine-tenths the accuser is listened to, while the deof the prçsent generation, been sub- fence passes unregarded, so the very mitted to the best of experience ; and, men who had employed Whitelocke, therefore, in judging of them as a and planned the expedition to Egypt party, we must confine ourselves to in 1807, were looked up to as oracles hypothetical reasoning, from the pro- of wisdom and foresight, when they defessions they make, the tenets they nounced the authors of the ill-starred avow, and the line of conduct they pur- enterprise against Walcheren, and the sue, while acting in opposition to the disastrous campaign under General government. This, we think, is the Moore. Experience has proved, howonly ground that is fairly open to us; ever, that the most hazardous of all and by proceeding upon these data, professions is that of a political proavailing ourselves of the partial insight phet. At the period of the invasion of into their character, disclosed during Russia, the authority and influence of the short period they were in power, the Whigs were at a maximum, beand taking into the account events of cause misfortune had hitherto been more recent occurrence, it will not be constant. Emboldened by the accidifficult, we imagine, to explain satis- dental confirmation of former predicfactorily the causes that have led to the tions, they, therefore, took upon themdecline of the party, and reduced it to selves, without scruple, to foretell the its present state of comparative insig- result of that most monstrous aggresnificance and imbecility.
sion : they declared that the passage So long as the war was productive of of the Niemen was tantamount to the nothing but disaster, and one calamity subjugation of Russia ; that after a followed hard at the heels of another, short, perhaps a desperate, struggle, the Whigs, who have an edifying ala- she would be compelled to receive the erity in prophesying evil, enjoyed a law from the conqueror, and, by her vast credit for wisdom and foresight; spoils, to adorn a new triumph for the and as, notwithstanding the unnatural man who had humbled Austria to the stimulus given to industry by a war dust, and almost expunged Prussia expenditure, the enormous accumula- from the map of Europe. Nor was tion of taxes began to press heavily on this an augury, which, in all the cir. all the sources of public wealth, a per- cumstances, ought very much to sursuasion became pretty generally preva- prise us. Leaving altogether out of lent among the people, that their pre- view the unparalleled train of victory dictions, in many instances partially which had enabled the French empeconfirmed, would ultimately receive a ror to trample on the necks of so many dreadful verification in the disgrace kings, to make playthings of thrones, and ruin of the country. From the and to stock the continent with upstart time, indeed, when they were turned princes of his own race, the transcendent out of office, in 1807, till the invasion military talents of that extraordinary of Russia by Napoleon Buonaparte, in man, and, above all, the overwhelm1812, their credit with the country ing force of veteran troops, ---many had, for the reason already assigned, of them inured to victory under his been gradually increasing. Some heavy command, all blindly confiding in the misfortunes had befallen our arms, ascendant of his genius-with which which Lord Wellington's first doubt- he marched to attack Russia, seemed, ful successes in Spain were by no means it must be confessed, to place the iscalculated to obliterate from the pub- sue of the contest beyond the caprice lic mind ; and as, in the case of defeat, of fortune. It is easy to be wise after
the event. These calculations, which that, after re-possessing himself of no one at the time had the hardihood power, the glory should be reservedto to dispute, were destined soon to be England, of giving him the coup de signally and gloriously falsified. The grace, and arresting his career for ever. burning of Moscow, the retreat and de- So much may be fairly conceded ; but struction of the French grand army, the public, almost always unjust to the desertion of Napoleon by Aus- the losing party, thought only of the tria and Prussia, the advance of the al- bardy predictions so memorably belied, lies into Germany, the rising en masse and withdrew their confidence from the of the Germans, the battle of Leipsic, Whigs. the invasion of France by Europe in But this was not their only, or even arms, and, finally, after a desperate but their greatest misfortune. During the fruitless struggle, the abdication of short period they were in office in 1806, Buonaparte,--these mighty events fol- they had found, by experience, that lowed one another with an astounding peace could not be concluded with celerity unparalleled in the history of France except at the sacrifice of the nations or conquerors.
With the un- national honour; and, to do them justhinking herd of mankind, the reputa- tice, it ought not to be believed that tion of the seers was utterly ruined. they would have purchased it at such The return of Buonaparte from Elba, a price. It is, therefore, reasonable to and the extraordinary phenomenon of presume, that, had they continued in his re-possessing himself of power, re- power, they would have done precisely vived for a short space their drooping what their successors did ; that is, they spirits, but it was only to plunge them would have prosecuted the war with in deeper dismay, by the unwelcome vigour. But it is now matter of hisglories of Waterloo, and the political tory that, but for the monstrous exextinction of that erratic being, whose travagance of their pretensions, joined, disturbing force had wellnigh un- as they allege, to the wanton treachery sphered the regular orbs of the Euro- of one of their own number, (Sheripean system, leaving him to revolve in dan,) they might have come into solitary splendour, amidst the havoc power on the death of Mr Percivalhe had wrought.
on the very eve, as it were, of those As a salvo to the pride of the Whigs, prodigious events which agitated the we have already admitted that their whole civilized world ; and, consequentconjectures as to the result of the Rus- ly, might have enjoyed the credit, sian invasion were far from being im- which now belongs to their rivals, of probable. It was not, certainly, to be having achieved the overthrow of Buoanticipated, that the Russians would naparte, and the deliverance of Europe. make such dreadful sacrifices, and, least By huckstering and higgling about of all, that they would destroy their an- matters at once insignificant and concient capital, which they regarded with temptible, they lost a glorious oppora feeling of religious reverence : it was tunity, such as the revolution of cennot to be anticipated that premature turies may not again offer to their winter would come as a resistless auxi- choice, and being necessitated to conliary to their aid ; that sluggish Ger- tinue in opposition, and, as usual, to many would rise as one man to over- prophesy misfortune and disgrace, they whelm her oppressor ; that Europe forfeited their credit with the country, would march in arms to dethrone the and have, to all appearance, perpetu. imperial-Jacobin who had tried to bind ated their exclusion from power. her in fetters to his car of conquest ; or Another cause which has mainly