Spectator, 1828: The ‘Genuine Briton’ and the ‘Liberal’


I credit my love of the classics for being able to read this as easily as a modern broadsheet, but if you take it slow I promise it’s very funny.

” The disposition of a genuine Briton is to make

up his mind upon what he ought to do, and having once determined that, to adhere to his resolution with a fixedness of purpose, which more fre- quently proceeds to the length of obstinacy, than deviates into vacillation and uncertainty. Now this is a character quite opposite to that of the Liberals, and much to be preferred before it ; for while the Briton of the old school may possibly carry his principle to an extent which is not right, he of the new or Liberal school will most probably tumble through sheer weakness into what is wrong. In the Liberal there is a total absence of the sound healthy firmness, which is absolutely essential to eminent useful- ness – he yields this; he concedes that ; he compromises the other thing ; he

wi ‘nds, and twists, and hesitates ; and when he wants to accomplish a thing,

chooses rather to do it by a trick or stratagem, than by candour and plain dealing. You are never sure of him ; you are doubtful as to his object, and

quite uncertain as to the means he will adopt. Even his principles he yields

to circumstances, and lie is particularly deferential to a vague impalpable soMething, which he is pleased to call the spirit of the age,’ but which, on investigation, appears to be nothing more than the affected tone of the weak trash which the press pours forth in such quantity. Your Liberal has

no strong hold “f anything; he has cast away the anchors of the old law, and national feeling, and exclusive privileges of Britons, as mere prejudices, and useless shackles to his enlarged comprehension. He floats about upon the wide sea of the world’s opinion, and is blown hither and thither by every gust which may come from the various quarters of the globe. He neglects the interests of the people round about him, while he considers what may most promote the prosperity of the new kingdoms of the new world, and sacrifices the most important interests of his own country in a paroxysm of general philanthropy and universal benevolence. But in every thing he does, he is most anxious that he himself should appear ; he is not only of opinion that he knows better than all who have gone before him, but that the world should see that he is the person who has made the grand discovery that every one else was wrong ; and this he generally accomplishes, not in the ego hoe fe,,i fashion of Mr Cenning, but by getting some other disciple of the same schoe’ to beslobbei him with nauseous flattery, for which he on the next suitable occasion beslobbers his friend in return ; and thus, sickening effeminate praise: get forth into the newspapers, and these people get a name amongst the millmn. eta’, this time, however, no- thing solid is done ; your Lii.atral is the worst -tan of business in the world ; it is true. he seems busy, but it is in making speeches, and devising plans and complicated refinements upon what works well enedgh already. while the more arduous and important concerns of the State ate frequently neg- lected, because they afford no opportunity to display, or for shewing off the advantages of the new and improved system. To make amends. however, for the little he does, li^ is always ready to talk, or if you choose, to write you an essay, which is -nglish in nothing but its language, and not always even in that. His vanity is concerned in this, his name is in the mouths of men, as a speaker or an author, and his childish desire for popular at- .tention towards himself is gratified. * * * * The Liberals have sunk, we hope never to rise again…..’

One response to “Spectator, 1828: The ‘Genuine Briton’ and the ‘Liberal’

  1. Pingback: Cultural Marxism thrives in resource-rich nations | Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar

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