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during that period, or to which he had been led by his studies connected with the “ History of Europe during the French Revolution.
As the interest of the Political Essays, if they possess any, is chiefly derived from the coincidence between the events predicted at the moment, as likely to result from the changes which were in progress, and those which are now known to have arisen from them, care has been taken to reprint them exactly as they first appeared, with no other alterations than such omissions and transpositions as the putting together successive articles on the same subject required, in their transference from a periodical Journal to their present form. In submitting them now in a collected form to the Public, after the effects predicted have in great part been realised, the Author is anxious to guard against conveying the impression that he regards the situation of the country as hopeless, or that the consequences which have ensued from Reform, and its offspring Free Trade, are beyond the reach of remedy. Whatever has been introduced by man may be modified by man.
All evils of human origin are susceptible of human remedy. Suffering is the great Mentor of Nature to show us when we have gone astray; and the consequences developed in these Essays are not to be regretted, if they teach the monitory lessons on which the future destinies of the Empire are in a great degree dependent. Perhaps not equivocal symptoms of such a revolution of opinion may already be discerned amongst us.
PossiL HOUSE, March 28, 1850.
THE REFORM BILL
(BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, MAY, Avo. & Sept. 1831.]
EVERY person who has reflected on the past history of the world, must have felt that there are certain periods when all the ordinary principles which regulate human affairs seem to fail—when new and unheard-of passions agitate mankind—and society, instead of flowing on with the steady current of ordinary prosperity, seems to glide with “ the torrent's smoothness ere it dash below.” At such periods, the former motives of conduct lose their influence ; the prejudices, the associations of antiquity, are forgotten ; the oldest affections give way to new-born enthusiasm : national character itself is subverted; states gray in
years are agitated by the caprice of childhood, or the passions of youth; and whole generations rush upon destruction, in defiance alike of the lessons of experience and the dictates of wisdom.
Such a period was that commencing with Gracchus in the Roman Republic, and terminating with Cæsar. Democratic ambition then shook the state ; the steady and prosperous rule of the Senate was overthrown; jealousy of the nobility blinded the plebeians to all the glories of their guidance ; popular vigour, admirable as a spring, tore the machine of society to pieces, when deprived of its regulating weight; the conquests of the armies were arrested; the horrors of civil dissension succeeded the triumphs of
the legions; and Rome itself, weary of bloodshed and decimated by proscriptions, sought under the despotism of the Empire that security which could no longer be found amidst the storms of the Republic. Not the arms of the barbarians, not the limits of the world, stopped the majestic career of Roman victories ; but the jealousy against the nobility, and the passions of the people. It was this which terminated the steady and uniform rule of the Senate, which brought popular ambition at once in contact with military power, and rendered even the name of liberty odious, from the remembrance of the suffering with which it had been attended. When Providence deemed it time to arrest the course of Roman conquest, and preserve alive in Scythian wilds the destined seed of European freedom, it required no avenging angel to perform the task. Human violence was equal to its performance ; it unchained the passions in the Forum, and the uplifted arm of conquest was stayed.
Another period, equally memorable both in the violence of its passions and the magnitude of its effects, is that of the Crusades. All the strongest and most deeply-rooted feelings of humanity were set at naught during those memorable conflicts. The affections of youth, the interests of manhood, the habits of age, were alike subverted; the ambition of centuries was forgotten ; the feuds of generations were healed ; the lion lay down with the kid, and the serpent with the dove ; estates held since the subversion of the Roman empire were alienated; the habitsof family, the attachment to home, the ties of parents, the endearments of children, were obliterated ; and millions, blessed with all the enjoyments of life, voluntarily laid them aside to seek an entrance to Paradise through the breach of Jerusalem. Successive generations perished in the struggle ; the bones of Europe whitened the fields of Asia; and, after a century's exhaustion, and the completion of the purposes intended by Providence, mankind began to recover from their frenzy, and the ordinary motives of human conduct resumed their sway.
At a still later time, the commencement of the French Revolution was distinguished by an equally unaccountable mental hallucination, from the throne to the cottage. For many years preceding that memorable event, the whole established ideas of every class of society had been sub