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fault of the designation is that it appears to abjure one half the province of statesmen in too sharply defining the other half. For it is the business of statesmen to construct as well as to conserve. Improvement and reform are components in the policy of every set of men who aspire to the government of a free people. And it seems to us that the history of the party which has accepted the name of Conservative is conspicuous for the constructive faculty with which it has conceived and executed bold and valuable improvements. The reform in the currency, the reform in our penal code, the formation of our police, the permanent success with which the deficient revenue bequeathed by his Whig predecessors to Sir Robert Peel was converted into the overflowing exchequer which has led to so vast and continuous a reduction of taxation, by the development to our resources given in the reform of our tariffs, assisted by the bold expedient of the income tax,—a masterpiece of fiscal policy, to which, assisted indeed by the gold discoveries and the rapid growth of the railway system, may be mainly traced the prosperous conditions of our revenue and our commerce, but which, incurring the severest censure of Lord Russell, found its most eloquent opponent in Macaulay, and its yet more eloquent defender in the present Lord Derby ;—all these suffice for brilliant proof that, in the art of improvement and the skill of safe adaptability to the requirements of the time, the party called Conservative need fear no comparison with the party which rejoices in the name of Liberal.
There is, however, one essential obligation imposed upon the division of political opinion to which we give the title of Conservative (not without hope that it may invent another, more significant of all its functions), viz. the obligation of rendering the changes it suggests or sanctions harmonious to the generic character of the people and the institutions under which that character has been formed and developed. Its policy in this respect should be regulated by the love for the practical which pervades the English mind, in contradistinction to that preference for ingenious theories in which our philosophical reformers imitate the speculative sages of the Continent. In the works before us are traced the causes of the political happiness we enjoy and the imperial greatness we have attained. Among those causes something, no doubt, is originally due to the qualities of race on which M and Mons. Esquiros equally insist; but ethnology forms a small part in the learning of statesmen. Causes more adapted to their study and more entitled to their respect may be found in the depth and solidity of the foundations of a freedom which has hitherto never been entrusted to the proverbial
fickleness fickleness of mere numbers, irrespectively of property and education—a freedom that has hitherto been accompanied with some moral or social elevation of purpose; for the system of self-government pervading the whole framework of English life offers in every sphere inducements to the individual to rise in position and influence, and the instinct of an Englishman is trained to aspire by the circumstances around him. In every municipality, in every vestry, it is open to some man to obtain a station and importance beyond his fellows by capacity for business or force of character. Among the gentry the squire of comparatively small possessions can become a leading power in his county, according to the energy and talent he displays as a magistrate, an agricultural improver, a promoter, as landlord or philanthropist, of the general good. There is not a village in which the peasantry do not recognise an aristocracy among themselves—do not give an influence and respect to their own best men, though they are but ploughmen and hedgers. Thus the genius of aristocracy has become interwoven with the English character, and if it were ejected from the constitution it would be a violence to the organic life of the nation.
The highest merit of the hereditary body to which the word aristocracy is more peculiarly applied consists in this,—that they have maintained and spread throughout the whole people the perception of aristocracy as a thing wholly apart from the titles
of a noblesse. They have done this, according to M , by the
absence of unpopular privileges or exemptions from the duties of citizens—by their frank and hearty participation in the affairs of the country, their zeal for its honour, and their emulation to be foremost in the ranks of its defenders. Their younger sons, descending cheerfully into the ranks of the people, with which they rapidly become fused, carry with them that sentiment of character and action which is best expressed by our English word gentleman. And that sentiment is so prevalent in all grades of our society, that one scarcely smiles to hear a tinman in a municipal council rebuke a grocer for not behaving like a gentleman, or a candidate address the mob gathered round a hustings as 'gentlemen and electors.'
It is, then, this characteristic of Englishmen—this desire of the individual rather to raise himself to the height of others more favoured by fortune or culture than to drag them down to his level—which separates our English system of freedom from the levelling attributes of a democracy. And it seems to us that in all changes of an organic nature our freedom will become endangered in proportion as this character is ignored or renounced.
Not without justice M advances the thesis,' Sans aristocratic
il il n'y a point de liberte durable.' And in defending the law of primogeniture as essential in placing aristocracy upon the permanent basis of property, M no less truly observes how much
this custom, derived from an hereditary class of proprietors, has tended to quicken in all classes the desire of the citizen to perpetuate his race by fixing its home in the land :—
'Qui no voit de suite,' exclaims M , 'le fondement Bolide que la
terre fournit aux institutions politiques? Nous toils, reduits trop souvent par 1'exigenoe de nos fortunes a vendre Heritage paternel, que sommes-nous But le sol Franijais? Des Nomades. Nos etablissements ressomblant a des tentes que le vont des revolutions emporte, ou que lu main du tcmps arrache avec leg piquets mal assures qni leur servent de supports. Le citoyen Anglais prend racine dans le sol Anglais: son home, pour parler cetto languo rude mais expressive, constitue un asile sacre ou il vit en hommo libre,—en roi!'
In office or out of office, whether framing judicious reforms or resisting crude innovations, we believe it to be the aim and object of that large division of the intelligence, the property, and, fairly estimated, the numerical population of England, which acknowledges its political leaders in the men now entrusted with the administration of affairs, to preserve her freedom, enhance her prosperity, and, redeem in the eyes of foreigners the imperilled sense of her dignity and power. This can only be done by a careful respect for each political condition of vitality and health that, by the just equilibrium of forces, constitutes, in harmonious combination, the unity of the whole commonwealth.
The liberties of which the House of Commons is the most ostensible guardian depend not upon the numbers of the electors, but upon the powers of the representative Chamber; and those powers would become incompatible with the safety of the state either at home or abroad if the aggregate intellect which guided them were below the public opinion formed by educated reasoners. It has been because the mind of the nation has hitherto found in its Parliament no ignoble utterance—no permanent prevalence of the passions which stir the many, to the suppression of the wisdom that originates in the few—that, to use the eloquent words with which M. Esquiros concludes his survey of the English at home, 'Liberty has hitherto been the Cape of Tempests to the continental nations that have sought it, but to England, who has found it r.ntl been so happy as to keep it, it is a haven.'
HUNDRED AND TWENTIETH VOLUME OF THE QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Aard-vark of South Africa, 363.
Board of, 543.
Animals, habitations of, 355 — bur-
Architecture, architectural forms of
Roman architecture, 440—the Colos-
patent rights, 85.
Asia (Central), geography of, 463—
lation of Central Asia, 493 — its
Babylon in old romances = Cairo, 300.
Baptist missionaries in Jamaica, 247.
Barry's virulence against Sir J. Rey-
Basilicas (Christian), architecture of,
Beauty, theories of, 115.
Beaver (the), a most skilful engineer,
Bentley's 'Phalaris,' vast information
Bertha, mother of Charlemagne, her
Bessemer'* conversion of pig-iron into
Blakesley's ' Herodotus,' 349.
Blanc's (Louis) 'Lettres snr 1'Angle-
Brialmont's 'Campaigns of Welling-
Caddis-worms, experiments with, 382—
Cfrsarism favoured by manhood suffrage,
Cambridge, distinguished Greek scho-
Chcsney's (C'apt.) history of the late
Christianity, attacks on, 389—Strauss's