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of your department; and as to the dispo- upon principle, reduced the question to a sal of the places in your lordship's power, serious dilemma. The administration to If you are not qualified there, I'am ready which Mr. Burke
belonged, were there. to undertake that part of your office my- fore involved in difficulties, out of which gelf.”
it was scarcely possible to escape, without But though this administration was giving offence at home or abroad. Someformed on broad principles, and compri- thing, however, was to be done, and the sed men whose integrity could not be method adopted appeared no doubt in the called in question, it was far from giving minds of the projectors best calculated to satisfaction to the people, who were then, allay the ferment that had been excited, as they had been indeed for the space of and to pacify all parties on both sides of four years prior, in a state of high politi- the Atlantic. But they were mistaken, cal fever. “Much scurrility was thrown for though the repeal of the Stamp Aci out at the expense of some of the mem- was conciliatory, the act which accompabers, and among the rest the two BURKES nied it, asserting the right of parliament to came in for their share of abuse. It was legislate for the colonies in everything, roundly averred that Edmund was a con- only added fresh fuel to the fire. There cealed jesuit, and that William had borne was certainly much inconsistency in this arms in the rebellion of 1745; though it proceeding, in which light it was viewed was well known that the former was edu- by the Americans, who had sense enough cated first in a Protestant seminary, and to perceive that it was in fact nothing next in the college of Dublin, and that his more than a temporary piece of policy, brother was not more than twelve years intended to last just as long and no longer old at the period when he was said to than as it suited the purposes of the conhave joined the standard of the Preten- trivers. There were various opinions as der. This miserable calumny arose from to the direct author of this goodly scheme, the circumstance of the marriage of Ed- but the common one hitherto has been MUND Burke into a Roman Catholic that it emanated from the active mind of family, but all the branches of his own, Mr. Burke, who certainly considered it as well as himself, were members of the one of the beneficial acts of the party with Established Church.
whom he was connected. Others, howThe proceedings of this administration ever, entertained a different opinion of belong properly to history, and could not its merits, and the administration from well be compressed into a narrative of whence it proceeded became so unpoputhis brief description. It was soon obvi- lar, that within the space of twelve months ous, however, that the fabric, whatever it was compelled to give place to a set of might be the intentions of those who pro- men formed under the auspices of Mr. jected, or of the persons who composed Pitt, who became a peer, and keeper of it, was too feeble to last long; and the the privy seal. This change was a great death of the duke of Cumberland within blow to Mr. BURKE, who retired from four months after its formation, gave it a office without having secured a pension; shock that could not be repaired. During but in this disinterested conduct he did its existence much vigour was manifest- not stand alone, for the whole body of his ed, and many designs were laid for the colleagues threw up their places on the correction of abuses, the encouragement same independent principle. The new of trade, and above all for the conciliation cabinet gave as little satisfaction to the of the American colonies. But in pursu- nation as that which had been so ungraing the last measure the new ministers ciously dismissed ; and the earl of Chalwere very unfortunate. The Grenville ham, who had been so long the populai party were for enforcing the Stamp Duty favourite, was now made the object of by coercion, not so much perhaps in re- continual abuse in pamphlets and news gard to the lucrative advantages of that papers. Even his brother-in-law, earl particular branch of revenue, as from a Temple, not only refused to take a part desire to carry forward a general system in this motley administration, but publishof colonial taxation. Mr. Pitt, and his ed a severe diatribe on the conduct of his numerous adherents, on the contrary de- noble relative, who was charged by him nied the right of the British parliament to in plain terms with aiming at a perpetual tax the colonies at all, and this conflict, dictatorship.
It was soon seen, and pretty generally of his eloquence, with unceasing vigour admitted, that whatever errors might have in the house of commons, and at the been committed by the former ministers, same time followed up his attacks with little, if anything was gained by their re- equal power through the medium of the moval ; and though the talents of the press. prime mover of the machine were un- Immediately after his dismissal from questionably great, they were rendered in office, he published "A Short History of a considerable degree inefficient, by the a late Short Administration,” which was confessed imbecility of several of his as- printed on a broad sheet, and very widely sociates. The description which Mr. distributed throughout the empire, in order Burke, some years afterwards in a fa. to make the nation sensible of the great mous speech gave of this heterogeneous loss it had sustained, by the extinction of composition, though highly ludicrous, was measures, which had been partially com. perfectly correct. Having defended the menced for the encouragement of trade, phalanx to which he belonged, and be- and the restoration of tranquillity. stowed some encomiums upon the
On the rising of parliament this year, sonal character of the venerable lord Chat- Mr. Burke finding himself disengaged ham, he proceeded to animadvert upon his from public business, visited his native public conduct at the period in question. island, where he renewed many of those
For a wise man, he seemed to me at the agreeable connexions, which he had formtime,” says Mr. Burke, “to be governed ed in his earlier years, and which, to his too much by general maxims. I speak honor, he cherished through life, with sinwith the freedom of history, and I hope cere and warm affection, even when his without offence. One or two of these friends became opposed to him in politimaxims, flowing from an opinion, not the cal sentiments. most indulgent to our unhappy species, On the dissolution of parliament, in and surely a little too general, led him 1768, Mr. BURKE was again returned for into measures, that were greatly mischie- Wendover, and it is not a little remarkavous to himself; and, for that reason ble, that Mr. Fox, who now came into the among others, perhaps fatal to his coun- house of commons for the first time, began try; measures, the effects of which, I his oratorical career by encountering the am afraid, are for ever incurable. He formidable powers of the man, with whom made an administration so chequered and he not long afterwards formed an alliance. speckled; he put together a piece of join- Mr. Fox was now an adherent of the miery, so crossly indented and whimsically nisters, and an opponent of those doctrines dove-tailed; a cabinet so variously inlaid; which he at a maturer age zealously desuch a piece of diversified mosaic; such fended. The great question which then a tessellated pavement without cément, divided the public, was the right of par here a bit of black stone, and there a bit liament to expel Wilkes for his libels of white; patriots and courtiers; king's BURKE took the popular side of the argu friends and republicans; whigs and to- ment, and Fox as strenuously maintained ries; treacherous friends and open ene- that the voice of the people was only to be mies; that it was indeed a very curious heard in the house of commons. The show, but utterly unsafe to touch, and nation was thrown into a violent ferment unsure to stand on. The colleagues, by this impolitic, though perfectly legal, whom he had assorted at the same boards, measure, and while it engrossed the stared at each other, and were obliged thoughts of all parties, a writer made his to ask, “Sir, your name?-Sir, you have appearance, who through the medium of the advantage of me; Mr. Such-a-one- a newspaper, and covered with a mask I beg a thousand pardons.'-I venture to that has never been removed, blew up the say, it did so happen, that persons had a flame to the utmost daring of sedition. single office divided between them, who It was very evident that the letters of had never spoke to each in their lives Junius proceeded from one, who was well until they found themselves, they knew acquainted with the members of adminisnot how, pigging together, heads and tration, and owed them a grudge for inpoints, in the same truckle bed.” juries, either real or imagined, which the
Against this administration while it author had received from them. The lasted, Mr. BURKE directed the artillery asperity he felt running through these amous epistles, was sufficient to convince an exuberance of wit and an irresistible every unbiassed reader, that blighted am- body of closely connected arguments. bition and deep resentment alone gave Soon after this, came out a pamphlet, them birth. The ascription of them, there intituled “Thoughts on the Cause of the fore, to some member of the Rockingham present Discontents,” in which Mr. BURKE party, was extremely natural; and upon attempted to show, that for several years whom, could the suspicion of being Ju- there had existed a design to establish a Nius fall with so much weight of proba- double cabinet, one interior, and the other bility as on BURKE? His abilities were exterior; the former consisting of a secret undoubted, his address in varying his cabal behind the throne, and the latter a style to suit the object he had in view was servile set of ministers, subservient to well known, his habit of writing anony- their councils and disposable at their pleamously in periodical works was no secret, sure. To this cause were boldly ascribea and that the disappointment which he had the frequent changes that had taken place, experienced, should have soured his tem- and the consequent distractions which per against those by whom it was occa- prevailed throughout the empire. sioned, was perfectly reasonable. On all There was, however, more rhetoric than these accounts and some others, little less truth in this statement, but the writer's plausible, many scrupled not to aver that, aim was to urge the combination of an the letters of Junius came from the pen open aristocracy of power, property, and of BURKE, and we know that even the talents, on popular principles, as a check acute and penetrating mind of Johnson, upon the crown. This plan was nothing actually hung in suspense upon the point, more, indeed, than a recurrence to the old until Burke himself spontaneously disa- system of governing the national councils vowed them with some degree of warmth. by the weight of party, which, in the estiNotwithstanding this, such is the obsti- mation of many good friends to the constinacy of credulity, attempts have been re- tutional liberty, was to the full, as objecpeatedly made to establish the charge, tionable as that of pretended favouritism. though the persons thus uselessly employ- Though this performance of Mr. BURKE ed, had no more light to throw upon the is beautifully fascinating as a composition, subject, than their predecessors in this it is now read only as an elegant declaidle inquiry. That Burke was not the mation, founded upon a visionary basis, author of the letters, we ought to believe and calculated to serve the purposes of a upon his own authority; but if that be political junto, who were exasperated by not deemed sufficient, there is internal the loss of place, and wished to make the evidence, more than abundant to satisfy world believe, that the disgrace they had every unbiassed observer, that Junius suffered arose from the machinations of a must be sought for in some other quar- secret faction behind the throne.
Mr. Burke, however, lived long enough In 1769, Mr. BURKE published, without to see and acknowledge that the cause to his name, which as we have already ob- which he had ascribed the public disconserved was his usual practice, an elabo- tents, was the mere creature of the imagirate reply to a pamphlet written by Mr. nation; and that no such private council George Grenville, entitled “The Present as the one described by him ever had an State of the Nation.” That gentleman existence. The great earl of Chatham drew a dismal picture of the finances of often made the same declaration, though this country, and as extravagant a one he too, for political reasons, at one period of the resources of France, with a view gave countenance to the current report. of justifying his own measures, when in About the time when Mr. BURKE's office, particularly in regard to America, pamphlet came out, the duke of Grafton, and of depreciating those of the succeed- unable to resist the combination of talent ing administrations.
that was made against his administration, Mr.Burke's reply, therefore, was rather retired from office, and was succeeded by a defence of his own party, than an attack lord North, whose measures gave as little upon others; though in the treatment of satisfaction as those of his predecessor. his subject, which he managed with con- Notwithstanding this, that nobleman consummate ability, he overwhelmed the hos- tinued to hold the helm for several years, ule ranks to which he was opposed, amidst a conflict of the most tremendous
magnitude. As Burke was the most gative of his nature, that of being a reli powerful of his assailants, so the brightest gious animal. of his speeches were those which he de- It is somewhat remarkable, that Dr. livered in the house of commons, on the Priestley made a similar observation on disputes with America. He ridiculed lord the state of France; for when he was North for his propositions of conciliation, there about the same time with Mr. Burke, and attacked him with unwearied ardour the members of the Academy of Sciences for pursuing a contest founded on the very to whom he was introduced, wondered right, which had been asserted in the de- how a man of his free sentiments could claratory act of lord Rockingham's ad- believe in a Deity. ministration, and of which there can be no Having inentioned Priestley, it may be doubt that Mr. Burke was himself the proper to remark, that he and Burke were author. Much, therefore, as we may ad- at this time on terms of intimacy, having mit the brilliant genius of this eloquent, contracted an acquaintance at the table and accomplished statesman, truth com- of lord Shelburne with whom the doctor pels the admission that he was here, as
then lived as an amanuensis. The folin some other cases, palpably inconsis- lowing anecdote, related by the doctor is tent.
worth inserting in this place.—“On the It has often excited surprise, how a morning of the day, January 29, 1774, minister, of the easy and indolent temper when the cause of Dr. Franklin was to be of lord North, could stem the torrent heard before the privy council, in regard which ran impetuously against him for so to the complaints of the province of Maslong a period. Mr. Burke, once partly sachusetts against their governor, I met answered this question, by saying, on Mr. BURKE in Parliament Street, accomleaving the house after a loud and stormy panied by Dr. Douglas, afterwards bishop debate, in which the minister preserved his of Salisbury. After introducing us to equanimity and humour to the last, “Well, each other as men of letters, he asked me there's no denying it, gentlemen, this man whither I was going? I said I could tell has certainly more wit and good nature in him whither I wished to go. He then him, than all of us put together.”
asked me where that was, I said to the At the close of the year 1772, Mr. BURKE privy council
, but that I was afraid I could visited the French capital, where he was not get admission. He then desired me introduced to most of the men of letters, to go along with him. Accordingly I did; and some of the highest persons in the but when we got to the anti-room, we church and state, who all vied with each found it quite filled with persons as deother in showing their respects to the sirous of getting admission as ourselves. talents of the illustrious stranger. During Seeing this, I said, we should never get his stay at Paris, this acute observer who through the crowd. He said, 'Give me made human nature his study, could not your arm;' and locking it fast in his, he help seeing that an extensive confederacy soon made his way to the door of the was going on against religion, and he knew privy council. I then said, 'Mr. BURKE that if it succeeded, the most fearful con- you are an excellent leader. He replied, 'I sequences would result to the injury of wish other persons thought so too. After society. On his return home, he revolved waiting a short time, the door of the privy the subject in his mind, and the more he council opened, and we entered the first, considered it, the more alarmed were his when Mr. BURKE took his stand behind fears; on which account he took an op- the first chair next to the president, and I portunity of pointing out the progress of behind that the next to his.” What folAtheism to his countrymen, and particu- lows is a narrative of the proceedings, and larly the government, as a matter calling no way relative to the subject of this mefor the most vigilant watchfulness. Mr. moir. Burke in addressing the house, observed, At the close of the session of parliathat he was not over-fond of calling in the ment this year, a dissolution took place, aid of the secular arm, to suppress doc- in which Mr. BURKE, who had hitherto trines and opinions; but he thought that sat for Wendover, was now proposed to if ever it were to be raised, it should be the freemen of Malton, in Yorkshire, against those enemies of their kind, who upon the interest of the marquis of Rockwould take from man the noblest prero- ingham. The election had but just finished when a deputation of merchants came Burke, when it came to his turn to speak from Bristol to invite Mr. Burke to be- manfully refused to admit, and for so come a candidate for the representation doing he assigned reasons, which the of that opulent city. This was an unex- writer of this sketch happens to know, pected offer, but one that was too honor- carried conviction home to many of his able and important to be slighted. hearers, though they were before of a
Courtesy, however, required an atten- different opinion. The substance of his tion to forms, and Mr. BURKE went to argument was this: "Government and consult his friends, who were then sat legislation are matters of reason and judgdown to dinner, upon the line of conduct ment, and not of inclination; but what he should pursue. There was but one sort of reason is that, in which the deteropinion on the matter, for all present were mination precedes the discussion, in which attached to lord Rockingham, and the one set of men deliberate and another de present was an opportunity of 'strength- cide? and where those who form the conening the common cause in which they clusion are perhaps three hundred miles were all concerned. Accordingly a com
distant from those who hear the argupliance with the Whigs of Bristol was ments ? Parliament” said Mr. BURKE, unanimously recommended, and Mr. "is not a congress of ambassadors from BURKE, after taking a short repast
, threw different and hostile interests; which inhimself into a post chaise, and travelling terests each must maintain, as an agent night and day, reached the place of his and advocate, against other agents and destination on the 13th of October, which adyocates; bút parliament is a deliberawas the sixth day of the poll. The can- tive assembly of one nation, with one indidates were lord Clare, (afterwards earlierest, that of the whole; where not local Nugent) and Mr. Brickdale on the Tory purposes, not local prejudices ought to or High' Church interest, and Mr. Cruger guide, but the general good, resulting from and Mr. Burke supported by the dissen- the general reason of the whole.". ters who then formed, as they ever have To this sound, constitutional doctrinc, done, a commanding influence in the cor- Mr. Burke invariably adhered through poration and representation of that great the whole of his parliamentary history, city. The contest on this occasion was though some perhaps will be inclined to unusually severe, but it terminated after a think that in submitting to be a partizan scrutiny, in the complete triumph of the he deviated nearly as much on the other popular candidates.
hand from the true principle of patriotism, Mr. BURKE's speeches to the electors which ought to distinguish all the memwere very much and deservedly admired, bers of a national council
. It is a quesso, that though he was the second in the Lion not easily answered, whether the man return, he entirely eclipsed his colleague. who enlists in the trammels of a party, has Cruger was an American merchant, who more claim to public respect, than he who by running away with the daughter of an takes the dictum of his constituents for the eminent banker, had acquired considera- absolute rule of his conduct. Certain it ble property at Bristol,' which with his is, however, that though the one has more being a native of New York, procured scope for the display of his powers than him an interest that he was far from being the other, it is with an ill grace he profesentitled to, either on the score of princi- ses to be independent, while to use the ple or of ability. Of the extent of his language of Goldsmith concerning his talent he gave a curious specimen, when friend BURKE, “He gives up to party what after an eloquent harangue made on the was meant for mankind.” Exchange, by his associate, finding that a One of the first acts of this great man speech was called for from himself, he after taking his seat in the ensuing sessaid, “Gentlemen, I say ditto to Mr. sions, was to bring forward a plan of conBURKE, again I say, ditto.” This was at ciliation with America; the basis of which the beginning of the election, but at the was a renunciation of the right of parliaclose of it he was somewhat better pre- ment, to lay a tax upon the colonies, and pared, and tola nis constituents that their allowing to the provincial assemblies the will should be his rule, and that in all privilege of making such grants as should things he should vote according to their suit their respective circumstances. This directions. This slavish principle Mr. scheme, feasible as it might appear to the