Abbildungen der Seite


the demand to arbitration. That proposition tion has been since provided for, it is not my was rejected; and the demand being still present business to examine. pressed, there was all the reason in the world 3. The proprietors had absolutely despaired io expect its being brought to a favourable of being paid, at any time, any proportion of issue; when it was thought proper to change the their demand, until the change of that ministry. administration. Whether under their circum- The merchants were checked and discounte stances, and in the time they continued in nanced; they had often been told, by some in power, more could be done, the reader will authority, of the cheap rate at which these judge; who will hear with astonishment a Canada bills had been procured; yet the autha charge of remissness from those very men, can talk of the composition of them as a neceswhose inactivity, to call it by no worse a name, sity induced by the change in administration. laid the chief difficulties in the way of the re. They found themselves indeed, before that vived negotiation.

change, under a necessity of hinting somewhat As to the Canada bills, this author thinks of bringing the matter into parliament; but proper to assert, “ that the proprietors found they were soon silenced, and put in mind of themselves under a necessity of compounding the fate which the Newfoundland business had their demands upon the French court, and ac- there met with. Nothing struck them more cepting terms which they had often rejected, than the strong contrast between the spirit, and and which the Earl of Halifax had declared he method of proceeding, of the two administrawould sooner forfeit his hand than sign." tions. When I know that the Earl of Halifax says so,

4. The Earl of Halifax never did, nor could, the Earl of Halifax shall have an answer; but refuse to sign this convention; because this conI persuade myself that his lordship has given vention, as it stands, never was before him. no authority for this ridiculous rant. In the The author's last charge on that ministry, mean time, I shall only speak of it as a common with regard to foreign affairs, is the Russian concern of that ministry.

treaty of commerce, which the author thinks fit In the first place then I observe, that a con- to assert, was concluded " on terms the Earl vention, for the liquidation of the Canada bills, of Buckinghamshire had refused to accept of, was concluded under the administration of 1766; and which had been deemed by former minis when nothing was concluded under that of the ters disadvantageous to the nation, and by the favourites of this author.

merchants unsafe and unprofitable." 2. This transaction was, in every step of it, Both the assertions in this paragraph are carried on in concert with the persons inte- equally groundless. The treaty then concluded rested, and was terminated to their entire satis- by Sir George Macartney was not on the terms faction. They would have acquiesced perhaps which the Earl of Buckinghamshire had rein terms somewhat lower than those which fused. The Earl of Buckinghamshire never did were obtained. The author is indeed too kind refuse terms, because the business never came to them. He will, however, let them speak for to the point of refusal, or acceptance; all that themselves, and shew what their own opinion he did was, to receive the Russian project for was of the measures pursued in their favour. a treaty of commerce, and to transmit it to In what manner the execution of the conven- England. This was in November 1764; and

he left Petersburgh the January following, beb * P. 24.

fore he could even receive an answer from his “They are happy in having found, in your own court. The conclusion of the treaty fell zeal for the dignity of this nation, the means of to his successor. Whoever will be at the liquidating their claims, and of concluding with

trouble to compare it with the treaty of 1734, the court of France a convention for the final sa. tisfaction of their demands; and have given us will, I believe, confess, that, if the former micommission, in their names, and on their behalf, nisters could have obtained such terms, they most earnestly to entreat your acceptance of were criminal in not accepting them. their grateful acknowledgments.—Whether they consider themselves as Britons, or as men more

But the merchants “ deemed them unsafe particularly profiting by your generous and spic and unprofitable.” What merchants ? As mo rited interposition, they see great reasons to be treaty ever was more maturely considered, so thankful, for having been supported by a minis.

the opinion of the Russia merchants in London ler, in whose public affections, in whose wis. dom and activity, both the national honour, and the interest of individuals, have been al once so See the Convention itsell printed by Owen well supported and secured.” Thaoks of the and Harrison, Warwick-lane, 1766 ; particu Canada merchants to General Conway, Lon. larly the articles and thirteen. don, April 28, 1766.

P. 23

was all along taken; and all the instructions king and the public, as another Duke of Sully, sent over were in exact conformity to that and he concludes the whole performance with opinion. Our minister there made no step a very devout prayer. without having previously consulted our mer- The prayers of politicians may sometimes chants resident in Petersburgh, who, before the be sincere; and as this prayer is in substance, signing of the treaty, gave the most full and that the author, or his friends, may be soon unanimous testimony in its favour. In their brought into power, I have great reason to address to our minister at that court, among believe it is very much from the heart. It other things, they say, “It may afford some must be owned too that after he has drawn such additional satisfactior. to your excellency, to a picture, such a shocking picture, of the state receive a public acknowledgment of the entire of this country, he has great faith in thinking and reserved approbation of every article in this the means he prays for sufficient to relieve us : treaty, from us who are so immediately and so after the character he has given of its inhabinearly concerned in its consequences." This tants of all ranks and classes, he has great chawas signed by the consul general, and every rity in caring much about them; and indeed, British merchant in Petersburgh.

no less hope, in being of opinion, that such a The approbation of those immediately con- detestable nation can never become the care of Cerned in the consequences is nothing to this Providence. He has not even found five good juthor. He and his friends have so much ten- men in our devoted city. derness for people's interests, and understand He talks indeed of men of virtue and ability. them so much better than they do themselves, But where are his men of virtue and ability to that, whilst these politicians are contending be found? Are they in the present adminisfor the best of possible terms, the claimants are tration ? never were a set of people more blackobliged to go without any terms at all. ened by this author. Are they among the party

One of the first and justest complaints against of those (no small body) who adhere to the the administration of the author's friends, was system of 1766 ? these, it is the great purpose the want of vigour in their foreign negotiations. of this book to calumniate. Are they the perTheir immediate successors endeavoured to sons who acted with his great friend, since the correct that errour, along with others; and change in 1762, to his removal in 1765 ? there was scarcely a foreign court, in which scarcely any of these are now out of employthe new spirit thai had arisen was not sensibly ment; and we are in possession of his desidefelt, acknowledged, and sometimes complained ratum. Yet I think he hardly means to select, of. On their coming into administration, they even some of the highest of them, as examples found the demolition of Dunkirk entirely at a fit for the reformation of a corrupt world. stand; instead of demolition, they found con- He observes, that the virtue of the most exemstruction ; for the French were then at work plary prince that ever swayed a sceptre “can on the repair of the jettees. On the remon- never warm or illuminate the body of his peon strances of General Conway, some parts of ple, if foul mirrors are placed so near him as to these jettees were immediately destroyed. refract and dissipate the rays at their first The Duke of Richmond personally surveyed emanation."'* Without observing upon the the place, and obtained a fuller knowledge of propriety of this metaphor, or asking how its true state and condition than any of our mirrors come to have lost their old quality of ministers had done ; and, in consequence, had reflecting, and to have acquired that of refraclarger offers from the Duke of Choiseul than ting, and dissipating rays, and how far their had ever been received. But, as these were foulness will account for this change; the reshort of our just expectations under the treaty, mark itself is common and true: no less true, he rejected them. Our then ministers, know- and equally surprising from him, is that which ing that, in their administration, the people's immediately precedes it;t " it is in vain to enminds were set at ease upon all the essential deavour to check the progress of irreligion and points of public and private liberty, and that licentiousness, by punishing such crimes in no project of theirs could endanger the concord one individual, if others equally culpable are of the empire, were under no restraint from rewarded with the honours and emoluments of pursuing every just demand upon foreign the state.” I am not in the secret of the aunations.

thor's manner of writing; but it appears to me, The author, towards the end of this work, that he must intend these reflections as a satire falls into reflections upon the state of public upon the administration of his happy years. morals in this country: he draws use from this doctrine, by recommending his friend to the * P 46

+ P. 46

[ocr errors]

Were ever the honours and emoluments of the blance to a water spout; for they are both wet state more lavishly squandered upon persons and there is some likeness between a summet scandalous in their lives than during that pe- evening's breeze and an hurricane; they are riod? In these scandalous lives, was there both wind: but who can compare our disturany thing more scandalous than the mode of bances, our situation, or our finances, to those of punishing one culpable individual? In that France in the time of Henry? Great Britain individual, is any thing more culpable than his is indeed at this time wearied, but not broken, having been seduced by the example of some with the efforts of a victorious foreign war; of those very persons by whom he was thus not sufficiently relieved by an inadequate peace, persecuted ?

but somewhat benefited by that peace, and The author is so eager to attack others, that infinitely by the consequences of that war. The he provides but indifferently for his own de- powers of Europe awed by our victories, and fence. I believe, without going beyond the lying in ruins upon every side of us. Burthened page I have now before me, he is very sensi- indeed we are with debt, but abounding with ble, that I have sufficient matter of further resources. We have a trade, not perhaps equal and, if possible, of heavier, charge against his to our wishes, but more than ever we poëfriends, upon his own principle. But it is be- sessed. In effect, no pretender to the crown; cause the advantage is too great, that I decline nor nutriment for such desperate and destrucmaking use of it. I wish the author had not tive factions as havo formerly shaken this thought that all methods are lawful in party. kingdom. Above all, he ought to have taken care not to As to our finances, the author trifles with wound his enemies through the sides of his us. When Sully came to those of France, in country. This he has done, by making that what order was any part of the financial sysmonstrous aud overcharged picture of the disa tem? or what system was there at all? There tresses of our situation. No wonder that he is no man in office who must not be sensible who finds this country in the same condition that ours is, without the act of any parading with that of France at the time of Henry the minister, the most regular and orderly system Fourth, could also find a resemblance between perhaps that ever was known; the best sehis political friend and the Duke of Sully. As cured against all frauds in the collection, and to those personal resemblances, people will all misapplication in the expenditure of public often judge of them from their affections: they money. may imagine in these clouds whatsoever figures I admit that, in this fourishing state of they please ; but what is the conformation of things, there are appearances enough to excite that eye which can discover a resemblance of uneasiness and apprehension. I admit there this country and these times to those with is a canker-worm in the rose; which the author compares them? France, a country just recovered out of twenty-five years

medio de fonte leporum of the most cruel and desolating civil war that

Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat. perhaps was ever known. The kingdom, under This is nothing else than a spirit of discon the veil of momentary quiet, full of the most nection, of distrust, and of treachery among atrocious political, operating upon the most fu- public men. It is no accidental evil . nor has rious fanatical factions. Some pretenders even

its effect been trusted to the usual frailty of nato the crown; and those who did not pretend ture; the distemper has been inoculated. The to the whole, aimed at the partition of the author is sensible of it, and we lament it to monarchy. There were almost as many com- gether. This distemper is alone sufficient to petitors as provinces; and all abetted by the take away considerably from the benefits of ou greatest, the most ambitious, and most enter- constitution and situation, and perhaps to renprising power in Europe. No place safe from der their continuance precarious. If these evil treason; no, not the bosoms on which the most dispositions should spread much farther, they amiable prince that ever lived reposed his must end in our destruction; for nothing can head; not his mistresses; not even his queen. save a people destitute of public and private As to the finances, they had scarce an exis- faith. However, the author, for the present lenre, but as a matter of plunder to the mana- state of things, has extended the charge by gers, and of grants to insatiable and ungrateful much too widely; as men are but too apt to courtiers.

take the measure of all mankind from their own How can our author have the heart to describe particular acquaintance. Barren as this age this as any sort of parallel to our situation ? may be in the growth of honour and virtue, the To be sure, an April shower has some resem- country does not want, at this moment, aj


strong, and those not a few examples, as were for they cannot acquire the reputation of that ever known, of an unshaken adherence to prin- kind of ability without losing all the other reciple, and attachment to connection, against putation they possess. every allurement of interest. Those examples They will be charged too with a dangerous are not furnished by the great alone ; nor by spirit of exclusion and proscription, for being those, whose activity in public affairs may ren- unwilling to mix in schemes of administration, der it suspected that they make such a charac. which have no bond of union, or principle of ter one of the rounds in their ladder of ambi- confidence. That charge too they must suffer

but by men more quiet, and more in the with patience. If the reason of the thing had shade, on whom an unmixed sense of honour not spoken loudly enough, the miserable examalone could operate. Such examples indeed ples of the several administrations constructed are not furnished in great abundance among upon the idea of systematic discord would be those who are the subjects of the author's pane- enough to frighten them from such monstrous yric. He must look for them in another camp. and ruinous conjunctions. It is however false, He who complains of the ill effects of a divided that the idea of an united administration car. ind heterogeneous administration, is not justi- ries with it that of a proscription of any other fiable in labouring to render odious in the eyes party. It does indeed imply the necessity of of the public those men, whose principles, having the great strong holds of government in whose maxims of policy, and whose personal well-united hands, in order to secure the precharacter, can alone administer a remedy to dominance of right and uniform principles; of this capital evil of the age; neither is he con- having the capital offices of deliberation and sistent with himself, in constantly extolling execution of those who can deliberate with those whom he knows to be the authors of the mutual confidence, and who will execute what very mischief of which he complains, and which is resolved with firmness and fidelity. If this the whole nation feels so deeply.

system cannot be rigorously adhered to in pracThe persons who are the objects of his dis.. tice (and what system can be so?) it ought to like and complaint are many of them of the first be the constant aim of good men to approach as families, and weightiest properties, in the nearly to it as possible. No system of that kind kingdom; but infinitely more distinguished for can be formed, which will not leave room fully their untainted honour public and private, and sufficient for healing coalitions: but no coalitheir zealous but sober attachment to the con- tion, which, under the specious name of indestitution of their country, than they can be by pendency, carries in its bosom the unreconciled any birth, or any station. If they are the principles of the original discord of parties, friends of any one great man rather than ever was, or will be, an healing coalition. Nor another, it is not that they make his aggran- will the mind of our Sovereign ever know redizement the end of their union; or because pose, his kingdom settlement, or his business they know him to be the most active in cabal order, efficiency, or grace with his people, until ling for his connections the largest and spee- things are established upon the basis of some diest emoluments. It is because they know him, set of men, who are trusted by the public, and by personal experience, to have wise and en- who can trust one another. larged ideas of the public good, and an invinci- This comes rather nearer to the mark than ble constancy in adhering to it; because they the author's description of a proper administraare convinced, by the whole tenour of his ac- tion, under the name of men of ability and vir. tions, that he will never negotiate away their tue, which conveys no defini

idea at all; nor honour or his own: and that, in or out of does it apply specifically to our grand national power, change of situation will make no alte- distemper. All parties pretend to these qualiration in his conduct. This will give to such ties. The present ministry, no favourites of person, in such a body, an authority and re- the author, will be ready enough to declare spect that no minister ever enjoyed among his themselves persons of virtue and ability; and venal dependants, in the highest plenitude of if they choose a vote for that purpose, perhaps his power; such as servility never can give, it would not be quite impossible for them to such as ambition never can receive or relish. procure it. But, if the disease be this distrust

This body will often be reproached by their and disconnection, it is easy to know who are adversaries, for want of ability in their political sound, and who are tainted; who are fit to retransactions ; they will be ridiculed for missing store us to health, who to continue, and to many favourable conjunctures, and not profiting spread the contagion. The present ministry of several brilliant opportunities of fortune ; but being made up of draughts from all partios is they must be contented to endure that reproach; the kingdom, if they should profess any adh

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

rence to the connections they have left, they ciples of public morality find a set of maximus must convict themselves of the blackest treach- in office ready made for them, which they ery. They therefore choose rather to renounce assume as naturally and inevitably, as any of the principle itself, and to brand it with the the insignia or instruments of the situation. A name of pride and faction. This test with cer- certain tone of the solid and practical is imme tainty discriminates the opinions of men. The diately acquired. Every former profession of other is a description vague and unsatisfactory. public spirit is to be considered as a debauch

As to the unfortunate gentlemen who may at of youth, or, at best, as a visionary scheme of any time compose that system, which, under unattainable perfection. The very idea of the plausible title of an administration, subsists consistency is exploded. The convenience of but for the establishment of weakness and con- the business of the day is to furnish the princifusion; they fall into different classes, with dif- ple for doing it. Then the whole ministerial ferent merits. I think the situation of some cant is quickly got by heart. The prevalence people in that state may deserve a certain de- of faction is to be lamented. All opposition is gree of compassion; at the same time that they to be regarded as the effect of envy and disap furnish an example, which, it is to be hoped, pointed ambition. All administrations are deby being a severe one, will have its effect, at clared to be alike. The same necessity justileast, on the growing generation ; if an original fies all their measures. It is no longer a matter seduction, on plausible but hollow pretences, of discussion, who or what administration is ; into loss of honour, friendship, consistency, but that administration is to be supported, is a security, and repose, can furnish it. It is pos- general maxim. Flattering themselves that sible to draw, even from the very prosperity of their power is become necessary to the support ambition, examples of terrour, and motives to of all order and government; every thing which compassion.

tends to the support of that power is sanctified, I believe the instances are exceedingly rare and becomes a part of the public interest. of men immediately passing over a clear · Growing every day more formed to affairs, marked line of virtue into declared vice and and better knit in their limbs, when the occacorruption. There are a sort of middle tints sion (now the only rule) requires it, they be and shades between the two extremes; there come capable of sacrificing those very persons is something uncertain on the confines of the to whom they had before sacrificed their original two empires which they first pass through, and friends. It is now only in the ordinary course which renders the change easy and impercep- of business to alter an opinion, or to betray a tible. There are even a sort of splendid impo. connection. Frequently relinquishing one set sitions so well contrived, that, at the very time of men and adopting another, they grow into a the path of rectitude is quitted for ever, men total indifference to human feeling, as they had seem to be advancing into some higher and before to moral obligation; until, at length, no nobler road of public conduct. Not that such one original impression remains upon their impositions are strong enough in themselves, minds; every principle is obliterated ; every but a powerful interest, often concealed from sentiment effaced. those whom it affects, works at the bottom, and In the mean time, that power, which all secures the operation. Men are thus debauched these changes aimed at securing, remains still away from those legitimate connections, which as tottering and as uncertain as ever. They they had formed on a judgment, carly perhaps are delivered up into the hands of those who but sufficiently mature, and wholly unbiassed. feel neither respect for their persons, nor gratiThey do not quit them upon any ground of tude for their favours ; who are put about them complaint, for grounds of just complaint may in appearance to serve, in reality to govern exist, but upon the flattering and most dange- them; and, when the signal is given, to abanrous of all principles, that of mending what is don and destroy them in order to set up some well. Gradually they are habituated to other newer dupe of ambition, who in his turn is to company; and a change in their habitudes soon be abandoned and destroyed. Thus living in makes a way for a change in their opinions. a state of continual uneasiness and ferment, Certain persons are no longer so very frightful, softened only by the miserable consolation or when they come to be known and to be service giving now and then proferments to those for able. As to their old friends, the transition is whom they have no value; they are unhappy easy; from friendship to civility; from civility in their situation, yet find it impossible to re10 enmity : few are the steps from dereliction sign. Until, at length, soured in temper, and to persecution.

disappointed by the very attainment of their People not very well grounded in the prin- ends, in some angry, in some haughty, or some

« ZurückWeiter »