« ZurückWeiter »
are made to make places, places are made to secure commencement or continuance to wars: and, lest this should not be enough, distant dependencies-every one of them without exception productive of net loss, are kept up and increased. Yes: productive of net loss: for this is as uncontrovertibly and universally the case, as that two and two make four: for which reason no man who has a connection to provide for, or to whom power and glory, might, majesty, and dominion, in the abstract, are objects of concupiscence, can endure to hear of it.
As to war, so long as in the hands of those who have speech and vote in parliament, or of their near connections, offices are kept on foot with emolument in such sort attached to them, as to be materially greater in war than in peace, who is there that will venture to affirm that, of a parliament by which an arrangement of this sort is suffered to continue, the conduct is in this respect less pernicious in effect, or when once the matter has been brought to view, less corrupt in design, than it would be if in that same number the members of that same body were by masses of money to the same value, received under the name of bribes, engaged by one another, or by any foreign power, clandestinely or openly, thus out of an ocean of human misery to extract so many of these drops of comfort for themselves? In both cases the same sums being pocketed-pocketed with the same certainty, and under the same conditions in what particular, except in the language employed in speaking of them, and in that chance of punishment and shame which would have place in the one case and has not in the other, do these two cases present any the smallest difference? Tell us, good Sir William! Tell us good your Lordship, Lord of the freehold sinecure! exists there any better reason, why emoluments thus extracted should be retained, than why bribes given and received to the same amount, and by the same means, without disguise, should, if received, repose in the same Right Honourable pockets?
In a certain sensation called uneasiness, Locke beheld, as his, Essays tell us, the cause of every thing that is done. Though on this occasion, with all his perspicuity, the philosopher saw but half his subject (for happily neither is pleasure altogether without her influence): sure it is that it is by the rougher spring of action that any ulterior operation, by which the constitution will be cleared. of any of its morbific matter, will find its immediate cause.
Yes:-in the returning back upon the authors some small portion of the uneasiness which the sufferers have so long been in the experience of---in this necessary operation, for which the constitution, with all its corruptions, still affords ample means-in this, if in any thing, lies the people's hope.
The instrument by which the God Silenus was made into a poet and a prophet-it is by this, if by any thing, that noble Lords and Honourable Gentlemen will be fashioned into philosophers and patriots it is by this, if by any thing, that such of them whose teeth are in our bowels, will be prevailed upon to quit their hold.
Submission and obedience on the one part, are the materials of which power on the other part is composed: whenever, and in so far as, the humble materials drop off, the proud product drops off along with them. Of the truth of this definition, a practical proof was experienced in 1688 by King James, in the case of England and Scotland: in 1782, it was experienced by King George and his British Parliament, in the case of Ireland. In the character of ancient Pistol eating the leek, in that same year was the first Lord Camden seen and heard in the House of Lords by the author of these pages demonstrating, by the light of an instantaneous inspiration, to ears sufficiently prepared by uneasiness for conviction, the never till then imagined reasonableness of the termination of that system, under which that island was groaning, under the paramount government of a set of men, in the choice of whom it had no share ; in the same character, in the event of a similar expediency, might his most noble son be seen in one House, and his Right Honourable Grand Nephew in the other, holding in hand, the one of them a Bill for the abolition of sinecures, useless places, needless places, and the overpay of useful and needful places; the other a Bill for such a reform in the Commons House of Parliament, as may no longer leave the people of Great Britain, in a number more than twice as great as the whole people of Ireland, in a condition, from which the people of Ireland were liberated as above at the instance of the learned founder of an illustrious family, which was, in one instance at least, not ill taught in a word, such a reform as by divesting the ruling few of their adverse interest, by which so long as they continue to grasp it, they are rendered the irreconcilable enemies of those over whom they rule, will leave to them no other interests than such as belong to them in common with the people, who are now groaning under their yoke. What belongs to the only effectual remedy which the nature of the case admits of, viz. a restoring change (for such in no small degree it would be) in the constitution of the House of Commonsmay perhaps be spoken to elsewhere: it belongs not directly to this place. What does belong to it is the nature of the principles established on the subject of public expenditure: principles not only acted upon but avowed: not only avowed but from the connected elevations, the alas! but too closely connected elevations, the mount of the houses and the mount of financial office, preached. In these principles, it was long ago the fortune of the author
to behold causes of themselves abundantly adequate to the production of whatever sufferings either are felt or can be apprehended: and if it be without any very great demand for our gratitude, yet will it be seen to be not the less true, that to two distinguished statesmen, one of whom is still in a condition to answer for himself, we are indebted for the advantage of beholding these same principles, in a tangible shape; in that tangible shape in which they have been endeavoured to be presented to view, in two separate yet not unconnected tracts; viz. in the present Defence of Economy, and in the other with which it is proposed to be succeeded.
DEFENCE OF ECONOMY.
§. 1. Burke's Objects in his Bill and Speech.
I BEGIN with Mr. Burke: and this, not only because, as compared with that of any living statesman, the authority of a departed one unites the advantages that are afforded to authority of the intellectual kind by anteriority and by death; but because it seems but natural that, in the delivery of his own opinions, the junior and survivor should have drawn upon his illustrious predecessor, for such assistance, if any, as, in the way of argument, he may have regarded him as standing in need of.
Such, as they will be seen to be, being the notions advanced by the orator-such their extravagance-such their repugnance even to the very measure they are employed to support, what could have been his inducements, what could have been his designs?-questions these, in which, if I do not much deceive myself, the reader will be apt to find at every turn a source of perplexity in proportion as the positions of the orator present themselves to view, stripped of those brilliant colors, by the splendor of which the wildest extravagances and the most glaring inconsistencies are but too apt to be saved from being seen in their true light.
In the hope of affording to such perplexity what relief it may be susceptible of, I shall begin with stating the solution which the enigma has suggested to my own mind:-shewing what, in my view of the ground, was the plan of the orator's campaign-what the considerations by which he was led thus to expose his flanks, laying his principles all the time so widely open to the com
bined imputations of improbity and extravagance. Here then follows the statement by way of opening. On the mind of the intelligent and candid reader, it will make no ultimate impression any farther than as to his feelings, the charge stands in each instance sufficiently supported by the evidence.
Needy as well as ambitious, dependent by all his hopes on a party who beheld in his person the principal part of their intellectual strength, struggling, and with prospects every day increasing, against a ministry whose popularity he saw already in a deep decline, the orator, from this economical scheme of his, Bill and Speech together, proposed to himself, on this occasion, the intimately connected though antagonizing objects; viz. immediate depression of the force in the hands of the adversary, and at the same time, the eventual preservation and increase of the same force in the hands of the assailants, in the event of success, which on the like occasions, are, by all such besiegers, proposed to themselves, and, according to circumstances, with different degrees of skill and success pursued.
For the more immediate of the two objects, viz. distress of the enemy, it was, that the bill itself was provided; and to this object nothing could be more dexterously or happily adapted. Opposition it was certain of: and whatsoever were the event, advantage in some degree was sure. Suppose the opposition completely successful, and the whole plan of retrenchment thrown out together: here would be so much reputation gained to the promoters of the measure, so much reputation lost to the opponents of it. Suppose the plan in any part of it carried, in proportion to the importance of the part so carried, the reputation of its supporters would receive an ulterior increase: while that of its opponents, the weakness betrayed by them increasing in proportion to the conquests thus made upon them, would in the same proportion experience an ulterior decrease.
But as it is with the war of hands so is it with the war of words. No sooner is the conquest effected, than the weakness of the vanquished becomes in no inconsiderable degree the weakness of the conquerors of the conquerors who from assailants are become possessors. To this eventual weakness an eventual support was to be provided.
To this service was his speech directed and adapted: we shall see with what boldness, and, in so far as the simultaneous pursuit of two objects in themselves so incompatible, admitted,-with what art.
Such in truth were the two objects thus undertaken to be recommended-recommended at one and the same time-to public favor: a practical measure, (the measure, brought forward by his bill) a measure of practice, and in the same breath a set of principles