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NORTH BRITISH REVIEW.
Art. I.-1. History of the Whig Administration of 1830. By
J. A. ROEBUCK. London, 1852. 2. Latter-Day Pamphlets, III., IV., V., and VI. By THOMAS
CARLYLE. London, 1850. 3. The Statesman. By HENRY TAYLOR. London, 1836.
In a country in which action is so rapid, interests so varied, and occupation so intense and unremitting, as with us—where men of business, philosophers, and politicians, pursue each their own special object with exclusive and overestimating eagerness —where the whole nation is engaged with healthy cheerfulness in unremitting effort and an unpausing race, it is not easy for those to find a hearing who would call upon the actors in this exciting draina to draw up for a brief space, and consider themselves, their position, and their aims, as becomes beings
“ Holding large discourse,
Looking before and after." Yet these breathing moments in the hasting course of time these Sabbatical hours of the world's quick existence-in which we may review the past, estimate where we are standing, and ascertain whither we are tending, in which we may calculate our progress and catch a clear vision of our goal, may take stock of our acquisitions and achievements, investigate the value of our objects, and compare them with the price we are paying for them, and the means which remain to us of obtaining them-such pauses for reflection, introspection, and foresight, are particularly necessary if we would not sink from the dignity of men
“ Who know themselves, and know the ways before them,
And from among then choose considerately,
With a clear foresight, not a blindfold courage ;
Pursue their purposes"- — into mere unconscious instruments of destiny, mere unresisting floaters on the stream of time. In politics especially, a mere“ hand-to-mouth” existence
66 living, as the French express it, au jour le jour-can never be worthy of men who boast to be free and claim to be progressive. Yet it is the besetting peril, and has always been the peculiar reproach of our busy British statesmen. Overwhelmed as they constantly are with a mass of routine work, which must be got through ; and having literally to fight their way inch by inch against a host of antagonists, whose sole business is antagonism; knowing that every step will be a struggle, and therefore, naturally enough, stepping less where they wish and think they ought than where they must and think they can, they can rarely get sufficiently out of the press and throng to see far, or sufficiently free from the urgent demands of the moment to deliberate or muse. The position apart, the dry ground of security above, which are indispensable to the profound and patient thought out of which wisdom emerges, are almost wholly denied them. The country, too, seems content that it should be so; it is satisfied to be served by men who do the duties of the day with capacity and decorum; it is never “over-exquisite to cast the shadow of uncertain evils ;" it goes on from generation to generation, meeting unforeseen emergencies with extemporized expedients, stopping up a gap with anything that comes to hand, caulking a shot-hole with the nearest hat, slitting open the leather where the shoe pinches, putting in a casual patch when the rent in the old garment becomes absolutely indecent and unbearable, cob
the old house as the family enlarges, or the roof decays, or the walls crumble and fall away, adding here a buttress and there a shed, and sometimes, in a crisis of severe pressure or unwonted ambition, joining a Grecian colonnade to a Gothic gable. In this strange style we have proceeded almost for centuries, till the incongruities of our dwellings, our clothing, and our policy, have grown obvious even to our unobservant and accustomed eye. We go on swearing against the Pretender long after his last descendant has been laid quietly in a foreign grave; guarding with testy jealousy against the power of the Crown long after the Crown has been shorn of its due and legitimate authority; risking the loss of our liberties from foreign aggression rather than support an adequate standing army, because in past times those liberties were threatened by a standing army in the hands of a domestic tyrant; exacting oaths in a court of justice as a security for truth long after experience and reflection have shewn