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lies. It is not by long and irrelevant quotations, it is not by personal attacks on professional men who can have no motive but the discharge of their duty in what they do, it is not by a chimerical crusade against the Court of Chancery, and, above all, it is not by implicating the character of the Misses Long, that Mr. Wellesley can hope to attract the sympathy of the public. The natural tie between father and child furnishes a foundation sufficiently solid for him to stand upon, and, from that impregnable position, if he will only consent to combat, he cannot but ultimately prove victorious,
ART. IV.-1. A Letter to the Earl of Aberdeen, Secretary of State for . Foreign Affairs. By Henry Gally Knight, Esq. Third Edition.
London : 1829. 2. A Reply to Mr. Gally Knight's Letter. By Sir James Wedderburn,
Bart. London : 1829. “There are always in England a hundred public papers ready to prove to demonstration that the state is ruined.” So wrote Voltaire almost a century ago; nor is this disposition to constant complaint, which he then ridiculed, by any means extinguished amongst us.
A spirit of watchful inquiry into public measures, and a determination to permit no delinquency to pass uncensured, have ever been deemed the surest safeguards of our national liberties, which are obviously least likely to suffer from important iuroads, when notice is attracted by trifling innovations. “As long as the public press remains unfettered,” we are so often told,“ despotism is held in abeyance :” and in this country, some of the hundred eyes of our Argus will always remain awake, even though a God more to be feared than Mercury, were used to lull their watchfulness.
Yet, although we approve of a spirit of incessant and minute observation, we cannot but deplore the existence of that feeling of despondency, and that spirit of dire foreboding, which are its too frequent, although quite inconsequential, accompaniments. Our self-love, not content with enjoying the present, leads us to explore wbat may await us in the future; we seldom hit the just medium, and, according as the temperament is sanguine or diffident, we are either affected with undue exaltation, or by groundless despair. Men of sedentary and thoughtless habits are most disposed to the latter excess, and as it is the opinion of such men that is most consulted and esteemed, so it happens that the productions of the public press too frequently bear a sombre tinge, and seldum breathe the ardent anticipations of prosperity.
Surely the sum of national happiness would be increased could this disposition be altered. By our dread of misfortunes, we feel evils twice, even if they occur; and by our expectation of unhappiness that really is not in store for us, we uselessly torment our
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selves with “brain-born" miseries, and tremble at the apparition of ideal monsters. The true way to dispel such terrors, is to grapple with them, when we instantly discover their inanity.
There were in the world grumblers against the ruling powers, long before Thersites called Ulysses a fool, and there have been ever since imitators of his illustrious example. Freeport, in the Spectator, talking of the hardness of trade, finds in the present day his exact counterpart in the idler, who with his ten or twenty thousand a year, lounges at his club, and growls over his newspaper. We have never been without prophets, who have foretold to our nation speedy decay and dissolution, and yet here we are living when we ought to be dead, merry when we ought to be sad, in the midst of our poverty managing to pay thousands for a song at the opera, driving the price of all the luxuries of life to unheard of extravagance, and apparently so cloyed with all sorts of enjoyment, that we pay forty pounds a day to the Siamese boys, for the purpose of enjoying a rarity !
Do we then deny the existence of distress? Far be it from us to support so direct a contradiction to established facts; but we will ask any man, not only to seek in his own recollection, but to discover in the records of history, any period when distress did not exist. The poets tell us of a golden age, when all men were honest, and all women virtuous, when people were happy, and dined on acorns; but since that favoured time, a mixed state of combined good and evil has always been the portion, not only of men, but of nations, and it is equally vain to expect unalloyed happiness for the former, and unexceptionable prosperity for the latter. What we assert is this, that though partial distress is undoubtedly expe-rienced, yet there is far from being any foundation for gloomy foreboding, and that there is not the least reason for distrust as to the general prospects of the nation. In attempting to support these positions, we are well aware of the terrible odds that encounter any one who tries to persuade an Englishnan that he has a right to be happy.
With Mr. Gally Knight's Letter,' we confess ourselves disappointed. A rapid sale, and a “ third edition,” had led us to expect considerable pleasure in the perusal of pages, the author of which has already gained, and deserved, some portion of public applause. He is much too loose and general in his assertions; he has recourse to declamation where the evidence of facts could alone convince; his mode of reasoning is unsound and illusive, and his deductions do not follow from his premises. He begins by telling us that our credit on the continent has dwindled--a humiliating thought'; he admits, however, that our ministers are receiving assurances to the contrary, but nevertheless, though all his subsequent reasonings depend on this position, he adduces no facts in support of his paradoxical opinion, and leaves us to determine whether he thought it unnecessary, or found it impossible, to advance such arguments.
Now, we certainly do think that our accredited agents at the various courts of Europe,-men selected for their talents and penetration, whose sole business it is to make themselves acquainted each with his separate principality,--may have better opportunities of ascertaining the true state of feeling, and transmitting to our foreign secretary a just view of the Continent, than can be pos. sessed by any private gentleman who takes a rapid glance at affairs as he travels. Besides, Mr. Gally Knight is decidedly what is called a “low party man,” and should he become, as is we hear expected, a member of the next Parliament, he will, we imagine, grace the benches on the left of the Speaker's chair. Now, the society into which sich a man's tastes would naturally lead bim, and the associates to whom his letters of introduction would make him known, would be almost exclusively of the party who call themselves“ liberal,” but who are called by others “democratic,”—the party to whom the existing order of things, from whatever causes, is irksome,--the parties who are now on the other side of the Channel amusing themselves in a manner that gives rise here to such dashing speculations, and such heavy bets. The opinions of this party, however, we can by no means admit to be the index of our national estimation : to them we can readily imagine that our ministry do not extend promises to excite their factious hopes, and from them we delight in receiving tokens that we are not in their favour. But till Mr. Gally Knight, or somebody else, can give us clear proofs, that among the steady, and settled, and respectable, and independent, part of the Continental gentry-among those whose opinion should alone interest us-our nation is thought to have retrograded, and our national character to be debased, we will not give ourselves or our readers the needless task of combating what does not exist, or of supporting by proof what is obvious to plain reason. As the two opinions contradict each other, and cannot both be correct, we will venture to disbelieve the single spectator, who, with unequal advantages, asserts that our nation is in disrepute abroad, and we will give our credit to the many witnesses, who, with means of knowing the truth, confessedly assert the reverse.
In the next place, to our surprise, Mr. Gally Knight takes for granted the astounding inference that our ministers purpose to abandon the high station which Great Britain has so long maintained in Continental politics. In support of so sweeping a position, we of course looked for facts, but, for an obvious reason, none are given. That we no longer listen to those brilliant effusions, with which Mr. Canning dazzled the understanding and held enchanted the faculties of his audience, we admit; but though our hearts grant him the powers of a splendid orator, our judgment cannot detect in his successor any proofs of inferiority as a statesman. Let this inferiority be pointed out and the case will be altered ; at present we can neither accuse of fault, nor do we hear any fault alleged against our foreign secretary.
After a few remarks on the spirit of the age, which are written in a very neat style, but which have really po novelty to recommend them, our author proceeds to thank God that England was no party to the Holy Alliance. In this thanksgiving we niost heartily join, and agree with Mr. Knight, that, looking to the practical objects which it had in view, it was an “unrighteous compact.” But we are far from agreeing with Mr. Knight, when he accuses our government of being actuated by a kindred spirit in our conduct regarding Portugal. To this part of Mr. Knight's letter we will oppose the 'reply' of Sir James Wedderburn,premising, now we are on the subject, that the latter has given us a very clever and lucid ex position, and that though we do not agree with him in all his opinions, we yet think it impossible for any one to lay down his pamphlet without being gratified by the perusal :
Portugal,' says Mr. Gally Knight, “had accepted a Constitution which was the voluntary gift of her lawful sovereign, and a British force was conceded to the request of our most ancient ally, to forbid interference from the side of Spain. The interference which the British force was sent to resist menaced the new institutions. Did not England, then, appear to take these institutions under her especial care? It is idle to say that those who supported the new Constitution of Portugal, did not consider themselves as acting under the protection of England. The British force was sent to protect them.'—p. 24.
In reply, Sir James Wedderburn asks—
• By what tortuous interpretation of this measure could the Constitutional friends of Portugal possibly consider themselves, as Mr Knight asserts, “ under the special protection of England ?”
Our interference or share in the démêlé was strictly contingent,—to be determined and controled by events which did not arise, but which would have amply justified it if we had ; and was in no degree inconsistent with the dignified principle of neutrality which is equally due to ourselves and to others, as the first members of the European family.
But, for the sake of argument, and to meet Mr. Gally Knight upon his own ground, if by our conduct towards Portugal we did throw a false light, that we did appear to countenance principles, and to uphold a party, which it was alike our duty as our interest to discourage; if, indeed, we did evince a “gratuitous and unnecessary display of liberalism" upon a question with which we had no immediate right to interfere ;-whose was the reproach ? Not the Minister for Foreign Affairs, whose policy is so obnoxious to Mr. Knight, but the same Mr. Canning, the illustrious prototype of his own school, whose principles our present Cabinet are accused of retrograding.” ; But we think that Mr. Canning's policy has been misunderstood; we do not at all believe that he ever held many of the intentions which have been attributed to him, as faulty by his opponents, and as admirable by some of his volunteer partisans; we do not imagine that, in respect to the usurpation of Miguel, he would or could have pursued a course much different from that followed by Lord Aberdeen. That he would have pursued his favourite views
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187 to the extent, and in the manner, which the opponents of the present Ministry assert, we cannot imagine. Such interference would have been in contradiction to the laws of nations; it was uncalled for by the circumstances of the case, and would have justly caused the jealousy of all Europe. It would have been pursuing, for the maintenance of one set of principles, the very method which the Holy Alliance has pursued for the establishment of another. Even in accordance with the views of the party who have raised the outcry against Don Miguel, what more could be done than has been effected ? Is it pot a little inconsistent in the advocates of democratic rights, to desire to see one government force on another a particular sovereign, and to effect this by deposing a monarch who has been raised to the throne by his people, in contradiction to the usual order of succession ? For such is actually the case of Portugal. However abandoned the character of Don Miguel, and however degraded the nation or mob who shouted his elevation, (and on their moral qualifications there seems to exist an ominous coincidence of opinion,) still Don Miguel's usurpation has been sanctioned by the voice of the populace, as far as public opinion is generally consulted on questions of revolution. We will not condescend to compare the disgraceful proceedings in Portugal, with the august and dignified conduct of the famous “ Convention” that settled the British Revolution, in 1688, but we will assert that Don Miguel has had as large a proportion of his country's applause as satisfied the Whigs during the French Revolution, and was as much chosen by his people as is usual when popular tumult, the general form of popular election, has established a dynasty. With the base perfidy of Don Miguel, both as a man and as a monarch, and with the utter blindness and brutal degradation of many of his adherents, we have no concern. Such considerations cannot but excite our disgust, but we have no right to spurn the object whom we loathe. We have no more business to interfere in the political purification of Portugal, than we have to send an armament to force upon them Trial by Jury or the Poor Laws. Have our Ministers acquiesced in the proceedings of the Miguelites? Have they not, on the contrary, by the recal of our Ambassador, refused to acknowledge his usurped authority, and have they not branded with obloquy his wicked breaches of faith? If there has been any departure from exact neutrality, has it not been on the side of what is called liberalism? What further were they to do? None of those who stun us with their complaints have yet pointed out any remedy. What they mean, if indeed they have any definite meaning, must be this : they would have had us support opinions held by men in this country, by an armament sent unsolicited to establish them in another, wbere the majority deem them noxious. We allow it to be impossible for any thinking man, educated in this kingdom, not to feel some enthusiasm in the cause of liberty, a
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