TOPICS OF THE DAY.
H OLD TORIES" AND " OLD WHIGS."
MR. GEORGE SYDNEY SMYTHE, in his letter to the electors of Can- terbury, proclaims himself " an old Tory," attached to the princi- ples of " the old Tory " party ; and takes occasion to draw a pic- ture of that party and its principles, the likeness of which will scarcely be recognized either by friends or foes in the present ge- neration.
Mr. SMYTHE'S old Tory thinks that " monarchy is a principle rather than an instrument,"—a logical or metaphysical nicety which we do not pretend to understand. Mr. SMYTHE'S old Tory thinks that "the Church ought to be placed in a less dependent and circumscribed position,"—which sounds not unlike the phrasing of a Scotch Nonintrusionist. But, apart from these two dark sayings, the views and principles of Mr. SMYTHE'S old Tory are distinct, and worthy of all acceptation. The old Tory is of opinion, that "in trade and commerce the old Whig policy of restriction ought to be replaced by a larger and freer system" ; that "in fo- reign policy the French alliance is the best guarantee for the peace of Europe and the prosperity of England" ; that "he should sup- port no measures relating to Ireland excepting those that were based upon conciliation and respect " ; and that his idea of conci- liation embraced liberal concessions to the Roman Catholics,—or, as Mr. SMYTHE poetically expressed it at a Canterbury dinner, he " deetned the season bad arrived when the milk-white hind' should cease to be hunted."
These may be the principles of an " old Tory" party, but the Tories of our day will probably allege that it is so old as to be entirely forgotten. On the other hand, the Whigs have of late years " set their mark" upon these principles, and will in all like- lihood claim them all—free-trade, Irish conciliation, French alli- ance, concessions to the Roman Catholics, nay even Mr. SMYTHE'S " monarchy a principle, not an instrument "—as their own.
It would puzzle Mr. SMYTHE to point out any party, calling it- self Tory, which either professed or acted upon all his principles, or which avowed some of them in the same sense that he does. There have been at least three great parties at different times in the British islands to which the designation Tory has been succes- sively applied. There have been the original Irish Tories of JAMES the Second; to whom Mr. SMYTHE alluded when he declared that " he would rather legislate for Ireland in the spirit of a Tyr- connell than of a Cromwell." There have been the Tories of the time of Queen ANNE and the first Hanoverian Kings; for whom Swwr and BOLINGBROKE devised a specious political creed in order to conciliate popular support. There have been the Tories of the PITT school ; created by the peculiar character of GEORGE the Third and the circumstances of his reign. The principles and policy of each of these parties have been materially different from those of the other two ; they have scarcely even the hereditary and family compact coherence which connects the Whigs of our day with those of the Revolution. TYECONNEL governed Ireland in a spirit of concession to Catholic claims beyond what Mr. SMYTHE would be likely to approve of, and certainly quite alien to the High Church spirit which animated Dean Swzrr and his party. The party of the Dean, too—the great advocate for supporting the domestic manufactures of Ireland—can scarcely be considered friendly to a " large and free" commercial policy ; although there can be no doubt that Fires attempts to liberalize our system en- countered the opposition of Fox and his adherents. And when a statesman of the present day advocates " the French alliance as the best guarantee for the peace of Europe and the prosperity of Eng- land," his object in standing well with France, under Legislative Chambers, with constitutional Ministers, and all sects supported by the State, is very different from that of the party which courted Monarchic and Roman Catholic France as the ally and patron of the Pretender.
The mischief of this attempt of Mr. SMYTHE to confuse all the different parties who have successively been called Tories, and to cull out their most plausible professions and attribute them all to any set of statesmen who may adopt the designation, is that he thereby deceives both himself and others. The principles he avows are highly creditable to him; but, by assuming that they are necessarily the principles of a Conservative or Tory party, he re- conciles himself to the substitution of men for measures. He admits that the policy of Sir ROBERT PEEL'S Cabinet is not in accordance with his views : be has found that all former Tory
leaders " had been distinguished by a policy the exact opposite of this inaction to suppress licence, and indisposition to redress grievance, to which Sir Robert Peel has now seemingly surrendered himself" ; and in the same breath he protests—" I am not going to change sides"—" I am not going to alter my opinion about men or measures "—" I am not going to abandon the lead of the Con- servative statesmen in the Commons." Mr. SMYTHE will follow the Tories in name after they have ceased to be what he thinks Tories are in reality. If, without reference to the genealogy of his principles, he simply enunciated them and defended them as right or proper whoever might hold them, he would not be liable to this self-deception. He deceives others as well as himself. He carried the majority
of the electors of Canterbury because he told them he was a Tory- " an old Tory." But they understood by this epithet something very different from what they now discover he meant ; as is plain from the grumbling which has elicited his letter. They did not
understand by " Tory" the advocate of a "larger and freer system of commercial intercourse," of French alliance, and of concession to the Roman Catholics. When he told them, at the Canterbury dinner, that be thought " the season had arrived when ' the milk- white hind' should cease to be hunted," they, less deeply read in DRYDEN, never dreamed that he was talking about " Papists." We do not suppose that Mr. SMYTHE intended to mislead the electors of Canterbury as to his opinions ; but, by taking names in a different sense from what they have been accustomed to do, he cer- tainly succeeded in mystifying them. Another evil arising from this habit of advocating principles upon historical grounds instead of justice and expediency, will appear from comparing Mr. SMYTHE'S letter with some of Mr. MACAULAY'S speeches. Either Mr. MACAULAY is more extensively read, or he has a more logical head than Mr. SMYTHE ; for when he declared to his Edinburgh constituents that he was an adherent of Whig prin- ciples as Whig principles, he took care to make the designation comprehensive enough. He told them that his party embraced all who at any period had in this country advocated the cause of justice and hunianity,—taking care, however, to leave the impres- sion that its legitimate representatives in the present day were the party of Lord JOHN RUSSELL. Mr. MACAULAY admitted, like Mr. SMYTHE, that his leaders had not always stuck very closely to their principles; but, like Mr. SMYTHE, he was not going " to change sides "—to " alter his opinion about men or measures "—to " abandon the lead" of the Whig statesmen in the Commons. Mr. SMYTHE and Mr. MACAULAY, therefore, are pledged to hostile parties; they cannot coalesce ; and yet it is difficult to say wherein the political creed of Mr. SMYTHE, as enunciated in his Canter- bury letter, differs from that of Mr. MACAULAY.
There is, doubtless, a good deal of truth in the assertion that a country with free institutions must be governed by party. The leaders—the statesmen in office—must have a general agreement in their views, and a resolution to bear and forbear, to stand by each other. Until society becomes much more moral and intelli- gent than it has ever yet been, there will be cajolery and jockeying at elections ; there will be political Swiss to fight under the banners of party for pay alone. This is bad, but it is difficult to say bow it can be amended ; and a party thus equivocally constructed may be worked for good by wise and vigorous leaders. But the evils of party are aggravated, and its good neutralized, whenever the traditionary or hereditary element is ad- mitted into it. The party of WALroLE, the party of BOLINGBROKE, the party of CHATHAM, the party of PITT, the party that carried the Reform Bill—every party, in short, that hss been powerful in this country either to educate public opinion or wield executive power— has been constructed in opposition to the hereditary prin- ciple ; built up upon the ruins and out of the fragments of old shat- tered parties. It has been a fusion of parties which had ceased to differ on essentials—not a coalition of parties which agreed to act together though still professing antagonist principles. The secret of its strength has consisted in its emancipation from traditional conventionalities; in its rallying-point being principles—defective, it might be, but frankly announced. There can be no party in this country able or deserving to govern (in the true sense of the word) until our SMYTHES and MACAU- LAYS, our PEELS and Howicics, step out of their traditionary poli- tical creeds, discuss measures on their practical merits, and coope- rate or oppose each other's measures, not because they are Whig or Tory, but because they are useful or the reverse. The time has arrived in which the formation of a new party by the fusion of old parties is possible. Mr. SMYTHE'S letter is only one of many signs that new opinions, suggested by and practically applicable to the emergencies of the time, are entertained by men of all parties in their internal convictions, though they may still use the old formulas of party in expressing themselves.