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an ignominious failure. It is a wholesome check upon the excesses of an Opposition that it should have the fear of office before its eyes. The state of things which existed in the English Colonial Governments with Houses of Assembly, before the system of responsible government was introduced, ensured almost perpetual discord. The Executive Government was independent of the Assembly, and the Opposition could not hope to come into office; there was therefore no check upon the factiousness of the Colonial Opposition, who might say any thing or do any thing without the fear of ever being called upon to carry their own policy into practical effect. Besides these two efficient means for enforcing the responsibility of a Parliamentary Opposition, there is likewise the elective character of the members, and the influence which constituents and the desire of being re-elected exercise upon a representative.

On the principle of curing one evil by another-of forging a release to a forged bond — corruption has been used by Governments as an antidote to the determined interested partiality of a professional opposition. Despairing of obtaining a fair judgment from opponents, Ministers have set about securing support by purchasing adherents, as the only available resource against faction. A Parliamentary Government carried on by means of corruption is doubtless worse than a Parliamentary Government carried on without corruption; but it is far better than a despotism, which rests on force, and it offers a far better prospect of improvement. A corrupt Parliamentary Government seeks, in its own fashion, to conciliate public opinion; the submission which it produces is voluntary, not enforced ; its course is legal, and it does not interfere with the freedom of discussion. These are great recommendations, which a despotism, maintained by the bayonet, altogether wants; and hence we see that systems founded on corruption (such, for instance, as the government of Scotland in the early part of this century *), may be speedily converted into a state of things in which the popular voice prevails, and the basis of government is pure and incorrupt.

The remarks which we have hitherto made relate to the domestic influences of an Opposition — to the manner in which it works and is worked upon in its own country. It remains that we should say a few words upon its operation with respect to foreign nations.

In ancient times there were no newspapers, and there was no reporting of speeches for the public use. The vituperative


* See the interesting account of the system of Scottish government at this time in Lord Cockburn's Life of Lord Jeffrey.

VOL. C. NO. CC".


attacks which the rival orators made upon one another were confined to the audience actually present, except in the cases where an orator reported his own speech, and published a few copies of it. Consequently, the fierce personalities of the Roman senate, and the mutual invectives of the great party leaders, their unsparing criminations and recriminations, were not circulated in the provinces or in foreign states. They did not become known, except by vague and slowly travelling rumours, to the disaffected subjects of the Republic, to its wavering friends, or its declared enemies. In modern times it is otherwise.

The speeches of the Opposition leaders are reported at length in the native newspapers, in which they travel over the whole world, and they are moreover reproduced in translations by the journals of foreign countries. In this manner, opposition criticism, which is intended by its authors to operate upon the opinions of their own countrymen, falls into the hands of persons who have other views and interests, and who may use it for purposes wholly different from those for which it was destined.

The effect of opposition speeches in foreign countries depends upon the subject to which they relate. If they relate to a domestic subject, they will be used for proving the existence of internal sources of weakness, such as local disturbances, scarcity of food, bad state of the finances, failure of trade or manufactures. On questions such as these, inflammatory and exaggerated descriptions of social evils are often put forward for party purposes, and at home are received with qualified belief, from a knowledge of the object with which they are made. In foreign newspapers, however, they are cited as the reluctant testimony of a native with respect to his own country, as the admissions of an unwilling witness; whereas, in truth, they may be the highly coloured pictures of an eager partisan, seeking to establish a case against the Government, and to enhance his own political reputation. Scarcely a session passes in England without some impassioned opposition orator representing the Ministers for the time being as having brought the country to the brink of ruin. Such rhetorical exaggerations produce, in general, but little effect upon the convictions of the native public; they have been accustomed to see the sun of England set from time to time in the speeches of desponding patriots. But to a foreigner, who is watching for proofs of the decline of England, and who believes that its political state is rotten and unsound, these statements appear as literal truths, as the disclosures forced from calm observers by the irresistible evidence of facts; as

Close denotements, working from the heart,
That passion cannot rule.'

When the speeches relate to foreign affairs, the effect which they are likely to produce is of a different nature. While a negotiation with a foreign State is pending, or even after it has been concluded, an opinion expressed by an opposition leader that the demand of his own Government is unjust, or that its course was unfair, may create an impression in the foreign country that the Government with which they are in dispute is not supported at home by public opinion. This may embolden them to resist claims which may be just, or to make unjust pretensions of their own. In the case of a war, the effect produced may be more striking. An Opposition may condemn entirely the policy of a war, or they may censure the manner in which the war is carried on. In either event, their conduct may wear an unpatriotic appearance; they may seem to sympathise with the enemy, to be indifferent to the victories of their own countrymen, to dwell upon their failures, to damp the public enthusiasm, and thus to diminish the chances of a successful result. The nature of an Opposition in a constitutional State is better understood at present on the Continent than it was at the beginning of the century. There is therefore less danger than there was formerly of criticisms upon the conduct of a Government being ascribed to unpatriotic and antinational feelings. In the late war, however, the Whig party, who opposed the war policy, were believed by Bonaparte to be ready to act with him; and he was surprised at making the discovery that Mr. Fox was as firmly devoted to English interests, and as little disposed to intrigue with a foreign Government, as the strongest supporter of the system of Mr. Pitt.

The existence of a permanent opposition to the Government, of a perpetual liberty of political criticism, and of difference of opinions upon great public measures, is so abhorrent to the ideas of a despotic Court, and lies so completely out of its horizon, that censure of the foreign policy of a Ministry, and of the conduct of a war, is peculiarly liable to misunderstanding by the Monarch and his Ministers. It is likely to beget unfounded expectations of all kinds in foreign Governments, and to produce mischievous effects not intended by the opposition leaders. Great discretion, therefore, ought to be exercised in the use of this important privilege. The opposition orator, who speaks upon foreign policy, should remember that he holds in his hand a two-edged sword, which cuts in a double direction; that his words are overheard, not only by his own countrymen, but also by foreign countries. A similar reserve should be exercised by him in cominenting upon the conduct of the military and naval commanders employed by the Government of his own country.


It is now universally admitted that unity of command is one of the first conditions for the successful conduct of military operations, and this unity is seriously infringed if the Opposition erect themselves into a volunteer Council of War, whose advice is published to all the world. The secrecy, the rapidity, and the unity of will, which belong to a despotism, undoubtedly give it an advantage over a free Government, for the management of a war. This advantage is at its maximum when the sovereign is also the general, as Livy long ago pointed out. Reges, non • liberi solum impedimentis omnibus, sed, domini rerum temporumque, trahunt consiliis cuncta, non sequuntur.' But the disadvantage in question may be reduced to a low term by the considerate forbearance, as it may be increased unnecessarily by the factious and unreasonable impatience, of an Opposition.

In general, the character of a free Government is that the discussions on the most important subjects of foreign and domestic policy take place in a public assembly; that all the errors of the official men, all the national disasters and calamities, all the weak points in the state of public affairs, are carefully noted and brought into prominent view, (sometimes with rhetorical amplification, and the aid of personal invective,) by the native critics of the Ministry. This constant difference of opinion upon the management of public affairs, combined with the interested struggle of rival parties contending for power, frequently exhibits a free Government in an unfavourable and undignified attitude. Its domestic quarrels are laid bare to the public observation; the momentary ebullitions of temper, the mutual reproaches called forth by wounded vanity, or by disappointed ambition, are taken down verbatim in short-hand, carefully copied out, printed in newspapers, and circulated in a few hours over the whole civilised world.

Vituperation of opponents has always been one of the favourite weapons

of orators. The license of invective, in which the ancient orators indulged, has been abridged by the refinement of modern manners, particularly with respect to charges affecting private life. But the eagerness of personal contention, and the jealousy of personal rivals, always lead, in deliberative assemblies, to mutual attacks of the leaders of opposite parties. Such attacks, moreover, though they may raise incidental issues unconnected with the subject of debate, and may often be introduced unnecessarily, cannot always be considered as irrelevant. Advice delivered in a deliberative assembly derives a large part of its force from the personal character of the speaker; from the confidence placed in his wisdom and integrity. An attempt to discredit his personal authority, by impugning his conduct


and motives, is therefore material to the question. In a court of justice, such topics would be necessarily irrelevant; for a paid advocate does not express his private convictions, or throw his own character into the scale; and therefore a personal attack upon the advocate of the opposite party would be wholly foreign to the merits of the case. An opposition orator, who is influenced by patriotic motives, observes certain limits in his attacks on his successful rivals, and abstains from extremities which would be dangerous to the State. He feels that he has with them a common interest in sustaining the character and moral authority of the assembly to which he belongs; that he is a wheel in the same machine ; and that if he arrests the action of the machinery, he destroys his own importance as well as utility.

In a despotic State, there is no free discussion, and no political opposition. The public expression of opinion adverse to the Government is prevented by fear, or suppressed by force. All the indecorum, all the public scandals, of opposition criticism, all the mutual vituperations of party leaders, which occur in a free State, are therefore absent. It is this apparent and external tranquillity, this superficial calm, this abstinence from rough language, from disrespectful expressions to men in authority, this hypocritical and enforced silence, which so much captivates the admirers of an absolutist system of Government. They forget, however, that passions are not extinguished by compression, that men are not convinced by being silenced; and that when all legal outlet for dissent is rigidly closed, and all argumentative discussion is prohibited, opposition is likely to take the form of rebellion, and the musket to supply the place of the tongue and the pen. They forget, likewise, that the defects and abuses of a political system are not annihilated by being concealed. In general, publicity, if not a necessary condition, is one of the most effective means, for their correction. Publicity may have certain incidental disadvantages, particularly in foreign countries, where the truth is more liable to distortion, and where the facts are less clearly understood. But the openness of a free Government is honest, frank, and indicative of confidence in the soundness of the national institutions. What would be the result, if all the low and selfish intrigues, all the secret calumnies of rivals, all the favouritism, all the corruption, all the pillage of public funds, all the persecution of individuals, all the arbitrary imprisonments, which flourish under the shade of a despotic Court and a despotic Government, were laid bare to the world ? If the disclosure of the every day proceedings of a despot and his satellites would not exhibit such a hideous

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