British Conservatism, 1832-1914

British Conservatism, 1832-1914

British Conservatism, 1832-1914

British Conservatism, 1832-1914

Excerpt

The following work has a severely limited aim. It attempts to show what political opinions a member of the English conservative party might be committed to supporting in the years between the passing of the Great Reform Bill and the outbreak of the Great War. A party of course can continue in being as a powerful organization with remarkably little intellectual baggage, marching on though its soul is dead, held together by long habit and outmoded loyalties. It is also true that the aims and ideals of a conservative party are often less easily discernible and less interesting than those of the parties which are demanding change. Radicals and even less advanced liberals tend to be systematizers, programmedrafters and preachers. Conservatives on the other hand are frequently content to display an inarticulate, satisfied acceptance of the status quo, a silent respect for tradition or a goodhumoured realism. 'Toryism,' Henley once wrote, 'is as much a matter of taste as a body of doctrine,' and Disraeli ended his advice to the editor of a new conservative magazine with a remark which would have dismayed a liberal, 'Above all no programme.'

Moreover there were many issues between 1832 and 1914 on which it could be argued the two great British parties did not differ fundamentally; or on which the 'reasonable' conservative and 'reasonable' liberal points of view tended to approximate.

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