Abbildungen der Seite

with which, necessary as they were to the main and ulterior purpose, the measure, so far as it went, was in a state of direct repugnancy.

The problem therefore, with which his ingenuity had to grapple, was so to order matters as that the economical measure should be pursued, and even if possible carried, with as little prejudice as possible to the necessary anti-economical principles.

Of principles, such as these, which have been submitted to the reader, of principles really favorable to frugality and public probity, of principles in which waste and corruption would equally have found their condemnation, in whatever hands-in the hands of whatever party-the matter of waste and means of corruption were lodged,--of any such principles the prevalence would, by its whole amount, have been in a proportionable degree unfavorable to the orator's bright and opening prospects. Once in possession of the power he was aiming at, the only principles suitable to his interests, and thence to his views, would be such principles as were most favorable to the conjunct purposes of waste and corruption. So far as was practicable, his aim would therefore be, and wasto preserve for use the principles of waste and corruption in the event of his finding himself in possession of the matter and the means-to preserve them in undiminished, and, if possible, even in augmented, force.

For this purpose, the only form of argument which the nature of the case left open to him was, that of concession or admission. Such, accordingly, as will be seen, was the form embraced by him and employed.

By the portion, comparatively minute as it was, of the mass of the matter of waste and corruption, of which his bill offered up the sacrifice, his frugality and probity were to stand displayed by the vast, and as far as depended upon his exertions, the infinite mass preserved,-preserved by the principles let drop, and as it were unwillingly, and as if wrung from him by conviction in his speech, his candour, his moderation, his penetration, his discernment, his wisdom,―all these virtues were, in full galaxy, to be made manifest to an admiring world.

All this while an argument there was, by which, had there been any lips to urge it, this fine-spun web, with purity at top and corruption at bottom, might have been cut to pieces. If of the precious oil of corruption a widow's cruize full, and that continually drawn upon, be so necessary as you have been persuading us to believe,

Of the matter of these principles a portion more or less considerable would probably be found in that part which concerns Reward, of the work not long ago (1811.) published in French by Mr. Dumont under the title of Théorie des Peines et des Recompenses, from some of the author's unfinished manuscripts.

why, by any such amount as proposed, or by any amount seek to reduce it?

True; had there been any lips to urge it. But, that there were no such lips, was a fact, of which he had sufficient reason to be assured: to urge it, probably enough, not so much as a single pair of lips-to listen to it, most assuredly, not any sufficient number of ears and where ears to listen and eyes to read are wanting, all the lips in the world to speak with, all the hands in the world to write, would, as was no secret to him, be of no use.

Thus then, by the craft of the rhetorician, were a set of principles completely suited to his purpose-Principles by a zealous application of which, any thing in the way in question, howsoever pernicious, might be done-any thing however flagrantly pernicious defended-collected together as in a magazine ready for use: a magazine too the key of which was in his own pocket, and with an adequate assurance, that on the part of no enemy whom he and his need care for, would any attempt ever be made to blow it up.

Suppose now the orator seated at the treasury board-the Marquis of Rockingham on the seat of the first Lord looking great and wise, the orator himself thinking and writing, and speaking, and acting in the character of Secretary. Let him fill his own pockets, and those of his favorites and dependants, ever so rapidly, ever so profusely, no man can ever have to say to him, You have belied your principles; for, as will be seen, so long as there remained in the country so much as a penny that could be taken in a quiet way, his principles were such as would bear him out in taking it.

All this while, honorable gentlemen on the other side might have grumbled, and would of course have grumbled. Undeserved! undeserved! would have been the exclamation produced by every penny wasted. But well deserved! well deserved! would be the counter-cry all the while and, the ayes being in possession, the ayes would have it. Unprincipled! unprincipled! would be an interjection, from the utterance of which honorable gentlemen would by their principles-their real principles-their operating principles-not their principles for shew, but their principles for use-be on both sides alike, (as lawyers say) estopped.

As to the principles thus relied upon by the orator they will be seen to be all of them reducible to this one, viz. that as much of their property, as by force or fraud or the usual mixture of both, the people can be brought to part with, shall come and continue to be at the disposal of him and his ;-and that, for this purpose, the whole of it shall be and remain a perpetual fund of premiums, for him who on each occasion shall prove himself most expert at the use of those phrases, by which the imaginations of men are fascinated, their passions inflamed, and their judgments bewildered and seduced; whereupon he, this orator, whose expertness in those

arts being really superior to that of any man of his time (to which perhaps might be added of any other time) could not but by himself be felt to be so, would in this perpetual wrestling match or lottery, call it which you will, possess a fairer chance than could be possessed by any other adventurer, for bearing off some of the capital prizes.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Thus much as to the purpose pursued by the orator in this part of his speech. A few words as to the course and method pursued in the view here given of it.

The passages to which the developement of the principles in question stand consigned, are contained, most if not all of them, in that part of the speech which in the edition that lies before me occupies, out of the whole 95 pages, from 62 to part of 68 inclusive. This edition is the 3rd-year in the title page, 1780; being the year in which the bill was brought in; and, as between edition and edition, I know not of any difference.

My object is to present them to the reader in their genuine shape and color, stripped of the tinsel and embroidery with which they are covered and disguised.

For this purpose the course that happened to present itself to me was dividing the text into its successive component and distinguishable parts,-to prefix to each such part a proposition of my own framing, designed to exhibit what to me seemed the true and naked interpretation of it. Next to this interpretation, that the best and only adequate means for forming a correct judgment on the correctness of it, may not in any instance be for a moment wanting to my reader, comes the correspondent passage of the text viz. that passage in which, as appeared to me, the substance of the interpretation will be found to be more or less explicitly or implicitly contained.

Lastly follow in general a few observations, such as seemed in some way or other conducive to the purpose of illustration, and in particular as contributing, and in some instances by means of extraneous facts, to justify the preceding interpretation, and clear it of any suspicion of incorrectness to which at first view it might seem exposed.

In some instances the truth of the interpretation will, I flatter myself, appear as soon as that portion of the text which immediately follows it has been read through; in other instances, two or three such extracts may require to have been read through, before the truth of the interpretation put upon the first of them has been fully proved; in others again, this or that extraneous fact may to this same purpose seem requisite to be brought to view, as it

has been accordingly, together with a few words of explanation or observation, without which the relevancy of the facts in question might not have been altogether manifest..

As to the order, in which the propositions here succeed one another, should it present itself to the reader, as differing in any respect from that by which a clearer view of the subject might have been exhibited, he will be pleased to recollect, that the order thus given to the effusions of the rhetorician, is the order given to them by himself; and that by their being exhibited in this order of his own choosing, the thread of his argument is delivered unbroken, and the parts of it untransposed.

Having thus before him two sets of principles, one of them in the preceding part, suggested by a perfectly obscure, the other, in this present part, laid down by a transcendently illustrious hand, the reader will take his choice.


§. 3. Propositions deduced from Burke's Economy Speech." I. Concerning public money-what the proper uses of it. Propositions 1, 2, 3.

Proposition 1. On condition of employing, upon occasion, in conversation or elsewhere, the word reward, in phrases of a complexion such as the following: viz. "furnishing a permanent reward to public service," public money ought, at the pleasure of Kings and Ministers, to be habitually applied to the purpose of making the fortunes of individuals: and that in such manner as to raise their families to a state of grandeur and opulence.

Proposition 2. To this power of parcelling out the property of the public among the nominees of Kings and Ministers, there ought to be no limit: none to the quantity capable of being thus put into the hands of each nominee; none to the whole quantity of public property thus disposed of.

Proof. "Whoever (says he) seriously considers the excellent argument of Lord Somers in the Banker's case, will not he bottom himself upon the very same maxim which I do? and one of his principal grounds for the alienability of the domains in England, contrary to the maxim of the law in France, he lays in the constitutional policy of furnishing a reward to public service; of making that reward the origin of families, and the foundation of wealth as well as of honors."

"Speech on presenting on the 11th of Feb. 1730, A Plan for the better security of the independence of parliament and the economical reformation of the civil and other establishments." Dodsley 1780. sd Edition. The part from which the following extracts are made is contained in pages from 62 to 68 inclusive.

2 Page 63.

Then, to the word England, comes a note, which says "Before the Statute of Queen Anne, which limited the alienation of land."

[ocr errors]


Proof. At the time of this "excellent argument of Lord Somers," (7th Will. 3.) the whole of this domain was alienable; alienable to the utmost farthing; and, so faithfully and efficiently had it been applied to this its destined, and as we are desired to persuade ourselves, properly destined purpose, as to have brought the subject matter of it to that state, of which a description may be given in the words of the existing Committee on Finance.'

"The right of the crown over its own demesne lands was formerly (say they, Sd Report, p. 127.) as complete as its power of conferring offices; and yet the use which was made of that part of its prerogative, occasioned Parliament frequently to interpose; and particularly, after the crown had been greatly impoverished, an act passed whereby all future grants, for any longer term than 31 years, were declared void."

"The misfortune (continue they) is, as Mr. Justice Blackstone remarks, that the act was made too late, after every valuable possession of the crown had been granted away for ever, or else upon very long leases."

Such was the observation suggested by the case to Mr. Justice Blackstone; viz. that "it was made too late."

But, according to the excellent argument of the excellent Lord Somers, it was made too soon; for the use of it,-the "principal" use, at least if the excellent Mr. Burke is to be believed, was, in the conception entertained on the subject by the excellent Lord Somers, the supplying the requisite matter for this "constitutional policy" to operate upon;-viz. "the constitutional policy of furnishing a permanent reward to public service; of making that reward the origin of families; and the foundation of wealth as well as honors."

Now of this Statute of Queen Anne, (as far as it went,) the effect was to counteract the "constitutional policy," and render it together with the excellent "maxim" on which the excellent law Lord is said to have "bottomed himself," incapable of being pursued; and, to a plain and un-law-learned understanding, they caunot both be good, viz. the policy and the statute: the policy by which the alienation of the property in question for that purpose

This was in March, 1810.

« ZurückWeiter »