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the representative, in the words of a satirist, of ‘all the opinions of all the Dissenters,' was the esteemed friend of the Tories and orthodox Churchmen who made up the Clapham sect. James Mill, whom the religious world of his generation knew to be a freethinker, and would, had they been aware of his true opinions, have termed an atheist, was the ally, if not the friend, of Zachary Macaulay, an enthusiastic, not to say fanatical, Evangelical.” " These facts “remind us that in an age disgraced by much general brutality, reformers of every school were united in the crusade against cruelty; . . . that a period of political reaction might also be a time during which humane feeling is constantly on the increase.” Between 1800 and 1830 Benthamism laid the foundations of its future supremacy. Though not yet dominant it exerted towards 1830 marked influence in public life; and the era of Benthamism coincided to a great extent with the Evangelical revival. It was the age of Wilberforce (1759–1833), of Clarkson (1760–1846), of Zachary Macaulay (1768–1838), of Simeon (1759– 1836), of Henry Martin (1781–1812), of Elizabeth Fry (1780– 1845), of Hannah More (1745–1833).” Many more might be added. They show “that at the beginning of the nineteenth century Evangelicalism was among religious Englishmen supreme, and Evangelicalism, no less than Benthamism, meant as a social creed the advocacy of every form of humanity. The crusade against cruelty owes its success in an almost equal degree to philosophic philanthropy and to religious compassion for suffering. Humanitarianism in alliance with religious enthusiasm was assuredly the force which in 1806 abolished the slave trade, as twenty-eight years later it gave freedom to the slaves.” " Having shown now the kind of humanitarian, philanthropic feeling that was manifested in many parts of England, it will be well to make a few observations on the nature of the prevailing philosophic doctrine and political opinion. Certain elements of the utilitarian philosophy had already been propounded before Bentham's systematic and comprehensive exposition of it. The greatest happiness principle was adopted in the Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785) of William Paley, who
* “Cowper, the friend and disciple of John Newton, inveighed against the Bastille, that ‘house of bondage,’ with its horrid “towers,’ its ‘dungeons,’ and “cages of despair,’ with an indignation which would have become a disciple of Rousseau.”
* “The reign of Nero is contemporaneous with the spread of Christianity.”
* Law and opinion in England during the nineteenth century (London, 1914), pp. 106–108.
acknowledged his own indebtedness, in this respect, to Abraham
utilitarians, regarding themselves as thorough radicals both in
philosophy and politics, “hated compromises, which to them
appeared to be simply obstructive.”" In affairs of actual government, the aristocracy and the landlords formed the dominant class. England was still in the main an agricultural country. The mass of the people was ignorant and poor, and paid but little attention to political matters; and so long as certain prejudices were not excited, it showed no antagonism to the prevailing squirearchy. Upholders of this régime were more than contented with the vaunted British constitution, and with the political and legal legacy bequeathed by their ancestors. In their eyes, subjects of foreign states were, in comparison with themselves, no more than the slaves of despots. When Lord North opposed Pitt's reform in I785, he claimed that the constitution was “the work of infinite wisdom . . . the most beautiful fabric that had ever existed since the beginning of time,” and he added—what apparently seemed to him an inevitable corollary—that “the bulk and weight" of the House of Commons ought to be in “the hands of the country-gentlemen, the best and most respectable objects of the confidence of the people.” ” Thus, from about 1760 to 1830, we get—what has been very aptly described by Professor Dicey —a period of old toryism, or legislative quiescence or stagnation, during which the era of Blackstonian optimism * (1760–1790) is afterwards reinforced by the Eldonian toryism or reaction against Jacobinism and revolutionary violence.* Thanks to the Revolution settlement, arbitrary power was, it seemed, decisively eradicated, and individual freedom firmly established; and so with the pacification of feuds and the adjustment of religious differences in the eighteenth century, the Blackstonian epoch was one of national pride and contentment, in comparison with the turbulence and hardships of the past. Blackstone is the eloquent spokesman of those who glorified our constitution and administration, and his exposition was welcomed by tory statesmen. Burke was in favour of constitutionalism, and his mind leaned towards a historic, almost a romantically idealised, conservatism. He believed that we can preserve more of the old institutions by making cautious concessions to progress, than by taking up an attitude of obstinate opposition or adopting a reactionary policy; but in 1790, in view of the menacing events in France, his hostility to Jacobinism turned him into a reactionist. Paley, a man of cool and tranquil mind, and not given to rushing to extremes, did not worship historic constitutionalism and the traditional edifice of government. He realised the defects of the social system, and even of the monarchical institution; and rather than suppress the famous illustration of the pigeons, which was aimed at these evils, he threw away his chance of high ecclesiastical preferment. And yet even he was fundamentally a defender of the prevailing condition of affairs as a whole. His Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy (1785) was dedicated to the then Bishop of Carlisle, the father of the future Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough. The latter, along with other inveterate opponents of penal reform both in the Lords and in the Commons, had fortified themselves by some of the untenable arguments set forth in Paley's chapter on criminal law, and repeated them ad nauseam to the continual discomfiture of proposed measures of amelioration." The reactionary influence of the French Revolution on English legislation has just been mentioned. The cataclysm in France” aroused in England the warmest sympathy as well as the strongest hostility; and these contrary feelings are well represented in the celebrated controversy between Thomas Paine and Burke. At first the revolutionary outburst was received here with applause. Fox exclaimed that the fall of the Bastille was the greatest and best event that had ever happened. Romilly considered the Revolution to be “the most glorious event " that had taken place in the history of the world.” Many thought it heralded the dawn of a new era of peace, progress, and enlightenment. Priestley, writing in October 1789, said: “There is indeed a glorious prospect for mankind before us. Flanders seems to be quite ripe for a similar revolution; and other countries, I hope, will follow in due time; and when civil tyranny is all at an end, that of the Church will soon be disposed of.” “ Again: “I do not wonder at the hatred and dread of this spirit of revolution in kings and courtiers. Their power is generally usurpation, and I hope the time is approaching when an end will be put to all usurpation in things civil or religious, first in Europe, and then in other countries.” Dr. Price, a tower of strength among the Nonconformists, took up a similar attitude. A certain section of peers sympathised with the reform movement. Lord Stanhope and Lord Lansdowne even manifested leanings towards republicanism.” The Duke of Norfolk, on the occasion of Fox's birthday, proposed as a toast “the health of our sovereign, the majesty of the people.” In November 1789 the “Revolution Society” met at the London Tavern, under the presidency of Lord Stanhope, and in an address of congratulation to the National Assembly expressed a hope that the “glorious example given in France” might “encourage other nations to assert the inalienable rights of mankind, and thereby introduce a general reformation into the governments of Europe.” It was then that Dr. Price delivered before the Society his celebrated sermon, which provided a text for Burke. Then came Burke's Reflections (1790), which offered a marvellously powerful counterblast. The pre-eminent English political philosopher vigorously and cogently maintained that the adoption of the principles of the French revolutionists would lead to the breaking up of the very foundations of order and society, and presented a logically stringent exposition of the principles of evolution, continuity, solidarity, as underlying rational conservatism. Numerous replies were at once issued; of which the most important were Sir James Mackintosh's Vindicia Gallica (1791) and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791), the former speaking for the educated middle class, the latter for the masses. Sir James Mackintosh, generally moderate in his writings, even ventured to observe that though “the grievances of England did not at present justify a change by violence . . . they were in a rapid progress to that fatal state,” and he declared that “whatever may be the ultimate fate of the French Revolutionists the friends of freedom must ever consider them as the authors of the greatest attempt that has hitherto been made in the cause of man.” Paine presented an elaborate contrast between English and French theories of government, and insisted on the incomparable superiority of the latter. The governing classes were aroused by the Reflections; .
* Stephen, English Utilitarians, vol. i., pp. 167, 168. * Parliamentary History, xxv, 472. "Cf. Blackstone, Commentaries, bk. iv, ad fin. * Dicey, op. cit., p. 62.
* See infra, the essay on Romilly, chaps. i and ii.
* Cf. G. P. Gooch, “Europe and the French Revolution,” in Cambridge Modern History (1904), vol. viii, chap. xxv.
* See infra, Life of Romilly, sub ann. 1792.
* J. T. Rutt, The Life and Correspondence of Joseph Priestley (1831–2), vol. ii,