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language. That government is at once dreaded have, in their opinion, been able to produce and contemned ; that the laws are despoiled of this unnatural ferment in the nation. all their respected and salutary terrours; that Nothing indeed can be more unnatural than their inaction is a subject of ridicule, and their the present convulsions of this country, if the exertion of abhorrence; that rank, and office, above account be a true one. I confess I shall and title, and all the solemn plausibilities of
with great reluctance, and only on the world, have lost their reverence and effect; the compulsion of the clearest and firmest that our foreign politics are as much deranged proofs; because their account resolves itself as our domestic reconomy; that our depen- into this short but discouraging proposition, dencies are slackened in their affection, and “ That we have a very good ministry, but tha: loosened from their obedience; that we know we are a very bad people ;" that we set our neither how to yield nor how to enforce; that selves to bite the hand that feeds us; that with hardly any thing above or below, abroad or at a malignant insanity we oppose the measures, home, is sound and entire; but that discon- and ungratefully vilify the persons, of those nection and confusion, in offices, in parties, in whose sole object is our own peace and pros. families, in parliament, in the nation, prevail perity. If a few puny libellers, acting under a beyond the disorders of any former time; these knot of factious politicians, without virtue, are facts universally admitted and lamented. parts, or character, (such they are constantly
This state of things is the more extraordi- represented by these gentlemen,) are sufficient nary, because the great parties which formerly to excite this disturbance, very perverse must divided and agitated the kingdom are known be the disposition of that people, among whom to be in a manner entirely dissolved. No great such a disturbance can be excited by such external calamity has visited the nation; no means. It is besides no small aggravation of pestilence or famine. We do not labour at the public misfortune, that the disease, on this present under any scheme of taxation new or hypothesis, appears to be without remedy. If oppressive in the quantity or in the mode. the wealth of the nation be the cause of its turNor are we engaged in unsuccessful war; in bulence, I imagine it is not proposed to introwhich, our misfortunes might easily pervert our duce poverty, as a constable to keep the peace. judgment; and our minds, sore from the loss If our dominions abroad are the roots which of national glory, might feel every blow of for- feed all this rank luxuriance of sedition, it is tune as a crime in government.
not intended to cut them off in order to famish It is impossible that the cause of this strange the fruit. If our liberty has enfeebled the exedistemper should not sometimes become a sub- cutive power, there is no design, I hope, to call ject of discourse. It is a compliment due, and in the aid of despotism, to fill up the deficienwhich I willingly pay, to those who administer cies of law. Whatever may be intended, these our affairs, to take notice in the first place of things are not yet professed. We seem theretheir speculation. Our ministers are of opi- fore to be driven to absolute despair; for we nion, that the increase of our trade and manu- have no other materials to work upon, but factures, that our growth by colonization, and those out of which God has been pleased to by conquest, have concurred to accumulate im- form the inhabitants of this island. If these be mense wealth in the hands of some individuals; radically and essentially vicious, all that can and this again being dispersed among the peo- be said is, that those men are very unhappy, to ple, has rendered them universally proud, fero- whose fortune or duty it falls to administer the cious, and ungovernable ; that the insolence of affairs of this untoward people. I hear it indeed some from their enormous wealth, and the sometimes asserted, that a steady perseveranco boldness of others from a guilty poverty, have in the present measures, and a rigorous punishrendered them capable of the most atrocious ment of those who oppose them, will in course attempts; so that they have trampled upon all of time infallibly put an end to these disorders. subordination, and violently borne down the But this, in my opinion, is said without much unarmed iaws of a free government; barriers observation of our present disposition, and too feeble against the fury of a populace so without any knowledge at all of the general nafierce and licentious as ours. They contend, ture of mankind. If the matter of which this that no adequate provocation has been given nation is composed be so very fermentable as for so spreading a discontent; our affairs ha- these gentlemen describe it, leaven never will ving been conducted throughout with remark- be wanting to work it up, as long as discontent, able temper and consummate wisdom. The revenge and ambition, have existence in the wicked industry of some libellers, joined to the world. Particular punishments are the curo intrigues of a few disappointed politicians, for accidental distempers in the state ; they
inflame rather than allay those heats which cated on the Stuarts. A great change has taken arise from the settled mismanagement of the place in the affairs of this country. For in the government, or from a natural indisposition in silent lapse of events as material alterations the people. It is of the utmost moment not to have been insensibly brought about in the policy make mistakes in the use of strong measures : and character of governments and nations, as and firmness is then only a virtue when it ac- those which have been marked by the tumult companies the most perfect wisdom. In truth, of public revolutions. inconstancy is a sort of natural corrective of It is very rare indeed for men to be wrong in folly and ignorance.
their feelings concerning public misconduct ; as I am not one of those who think that the peo- rare to be right in their speculation upon the ple are never in the wrong. They have been cause of it. I have constantly observed, that so, frequently and outrageously, both in other the generality of people are fifty years, at least, countries and in this. But I do say, that in all behindhand in their politics. There are bui disputes between them and their rulers, the very few, who are capable of comparing and presumption is at least upon a par in favour of digesting what passes before their eyes at difthe people. Experience may perhaps justify ferent times and occasions, so as to form the me in going further. Where popular discon- whole into a distinct system. But in books tents have been very prevalent, it may well be every thing is settled for them, without the exeraffirmed and supported, that there has been ge- tion of any considerable diligence or sagacity. nerally something found amiss in the constitu- For which reason men are wise with but little tion, or in the conduct of government. The reflection, and good with little self-denial, in people have no interest in disorder. When the business of all times except their own. We they do wrong, it is their errour, and not their are very uncorrupt and tolerably enlightened crime. But with the governing part of the state, judges of the transactions of past ages ; where it is far otherwise. They certainly may act ill no passions deceive, and where the whole train by design, as well as by mistake. « Les révor of circumstances, from the trifling cause to the lutions qui arrivent dans les grands étals ne sont tragical event, is set in an orderly series before point un effect du hazard, ni du caprice des peu- Few are the partisans of departed tyranples. Rien ne révolte les grands d'un royaume ny; and to be a Whig on the business of an comme un gouvernement foible et dérangé. Pour hundred years ago, is very consistent with
e populace, ce n'est jamais par envie d'attaquer every advantage of present servility. This qu'elle se soulève, mais par impatience de souf- retrospective wisdom, and historical patriotism, frir.”* These are the words of a great man; are things of wonderful convenience: and serve of a minister of state ; and a zealous asserter admirably to reconcile the old quarrel between of monarchy. They are applied to the system speculation and practice. Many a stern repubof favouritism which was adopted by Henry the lican, after gorging himself with a full feast of Third of France, and to the dreadful conse- admiration of the Grecian commonwealths and quences it produced. What he says of revo- of our true Saxon constitution, and discharging lutions, is equally true of all great disturbances. all the splendid bile of his virtuous indignation If this presumption in favour of the subjects on King John and King James, sits down peragainst the trustees of power be not the more fectly satisfied to the coarsest work and homoprobable, I am sure it is the more comfortable liest job of the day he lives in. I believe there speculation ; because it is more easy to change was no professed admirer of Henry the Eighth an administration than to reform a people. among the instruments of the last King James ;
Upon a supposition, therefore, that in the nor in the court of Henry the Eighth, was opening of the cause the presumptions stand there, I dare say, to be found a single advocato equally balanced between the parties, there for the favourites of Richard the Second. seems sufficient ground to entitle any person to No complaisance to our court, or to our age, a fair hearing, who attempts some other scheme can make me believe nature to be so changed, beside that easy one which is fashionable in but that public liberty will be among us, as some fashionable companies, to account for the among our ancestors, obnoxious to some person present discontents. It is not to be argued that or other; and that opportunities will be furwe endure no grievance, because our grie- nished for attempting at least, some alteration vances are not of the same sort with those under to the prejudice of our constitution. These which we laboured formerly; not precisely attempts will naturally vary in their mode, ac. those which we bore from the Tudors, or vindi. cording to times and circumstances. For am
bition, though it has ever the same general • Mem. de Sully, tom. I. p. 133.
views, has not at all times the same means
nor the same particular objects. A great deal an influence which converted the very antago of the furniture of ancient tyranny is worn to nist, into the instrument, of power ; which conrags:
s. the rest is entirely out of fashion. Be- tained in itself a perpetual principle of growth sides, there are few statesmen so very clumsy and renovation; and which the distresses and and awkward in their business, as to fall into the prosperity of the country equally tended to the identical snare which has proved fatal to augment, was an admirable substitute for a their predecessors. When an arbitrary impo- prerogative, that, being only the offspring of sition is attempted upon the subject, undoubt- antiquated prejudices, had moulded in its oriedly it will not bear on its forehead the name ginal stamina irresistible principles of decay of Shp-money. There is no danger that an and dissolution. The ignorance of the people extension of the Forest laws should be the is a bottom but for a temporary system; tho chosen mode of oppression in this age. And interest of active men in the state is a foundawhen we hear any instance of ministerial rapa- tion perpetual and infallible. However, some city, to the prejudice of the rights of private circumstances, arising, it must be confessed, life, it will certainly not be the exaction of two in a great degree from accident, prevented the hundred pullets, from a woman of fashion, for effects of this influence for a long time from leave to lie with her own husband.*
breaking out in a manner capable of exciting Every age has its own manners, and its any serious apprehensions. Although governpolitics dependent upon them; and the same ment was strong and flourished exceedingly, attempts will not be made against a constitu- the court had drawn far less advantage than tion fully formed and matured, that were used one would imagine froin this great source of to destroy it in the cradle, or to resist its growth power. during its infancy.
At the revolution, the crown, deprived, for Against the being of parliament, I am satis- the ends of the revolution itself, of many prerofied, no designs have ever been entertained gatives, was found too weak to struggle against since the revolution. Every one must per- all the difficulties which pressed so new and ceive, that it is strongly the interest of the unsettled a government. The court was obliged court, to have some second cause interposed therefore to delegate a part of its powers to between the ministers and the people. The men o such interest as could support, and of gentlemen of the house of commons have an such fidelity as would adhere to, ils establishinterest equally strong, in sustaining the part of ment. Such men were able to draw in a that intermediate cause. However they may greater number to a concurrence in the comhire out the usufruct of their voices, they never mon defence. This connexion, necessary at will part with the fee and inheritance. Accor- first, continued long after convenient; and prodingly those who have been of the most known perly conducted might indeed, in all situations, devotion to the will and pleasure of a court, be an useful instrument of government. At have at the same time been most forward in the same time, through the intervention of men asserting a high authority in the house of com- of popular weight and character, the people mons. When they knew who were to use that possessed a security for their just portion of authority, and how it was to be employed, they importance in the state. But as the title to thought it never could be carried too far. It the crown grew stronger by long possession, must be always the wish of an unconstitutional and by the constant increase of its influence, statesman, that a house of commons who are
these help have of late seemed to certain entirely dependent upon him, should have
persons no better than incumbrances. The every right of the people entirely dependent powerful managers for government were not upon their pleasure. It was soon discovered, sufficiently submissive to the pleasure of the that the forms of a free, and the ends of an
possessors of immediate and personal favour, arbitrary government, were things not alto- sometimes from a confidence in their own gether incompatible.
strength natural and acquired; sometimes from The power of the crown, almost dead and a fear of offending their friends, and weakenrotten as Prerogative, has grown up anew, with ing that lead in the country, which gave them a much more strength, and far less odium, under consideration independent of the court. Men the name of Influence. An influence, which acted as if the court could receive, as well as operated without noise and without violence; confer, an obligation. The influence of go
vernment, thus divided in appearance between *"Uxor Hugonis de Nevill dat Domino Regi the court and the leaders of parties, became in ducentas Gallinas, eo quod possit jacere una nocte cum Domino suo Hugone de Nevill.” Mad.
many cases an accession rather to the populai dox, Hist. Exch. c. xiii. p. 326.
than to the royal scale; and some part of that induence which would otherwise have been and confidence ; the other merely ostensible to possessed as in a sort of mortmain and unalien- perform the official and executory duties of able domain, returned again to the great ocean government.
The latter were alone to be from whence it arose, and circulated among the responsible; whilst the real advisers, who people. This method therefore of governing, enjoyed all the power, were effectually removed by men of great natural interest or great from all the danger. acquired consideration, was viewed in a very Secondly, A party under these leaders was to invidious light by the true lovers of absolute be formed in favour of the court against the monarchy. It is the nature of despotism to ministry: this party was to have a large share abhor power held by any means but its own mo- in the emoluments of government, and to hold mentary pleasure ; and to annihilate all inter- it totally separate from, and independent of, mediate situations between boundless strength ostensible administration. on its own part, and total debility on the part The third point, and that on which the sucof the people.
cess of the whole scheme ultimately depended, To get rid of all this intermediate and inde- was to bring parliament to an acquiescence in pendent importance, and to secure to the court this Project. Parliament was therefore to be the unlimited and uncontrolled use of its own vast taught by degrees a total indifference to the influence, under the sole direction of its own pri- persons, rank, influence, abilities, connections, rate favour, has for some years past been the and character, of the ministers of the crown. great object of policy. If this were compassed, By means of a discipline, on which I shall say the influence of the crown must of course pro- more hereafter, that body was to be habituated duce all the effects which the most sanguine to the most opposite interests, and the most partisans of the court could possibly desire. discordant politics. All connections and deGovernment might then be carried on without pendencies among subjects were to be entirely any concurrence on the part of the people; dissolved. As hitherto business had gone without any attention to the dignity of the through the hands of Whigs or Tories, men of greater, or to the affections of the lower sorts. talents to conciliate the people, and engage to A new project was therefore devised, by a cer- their confidence, now the method was to be tain set of intriguing men, totally different from altered ; and the lead was to be given to men the system of administration which had pre- of no sort of consideration or credit in the vailed since the accession of the House of country. This want of natural importance Brunswick. This project, I have heard, was was to be their very title to delegated power. first conceived by some persons in the court of Members of parliament were to be hardened Frederick Prince of Wales.
into an insensibility to pride, as well as to duty. The earliest attempt in the execution of this Those high and haughty sentiments, which design was to set up for minister, a person, in are the great support of independence, were to rank indeed respectable, and very ample in be let down gradually. Point of honour and fortune ; but who, to the moment of this vast precedence were no more to be regarded in and sudden elevation, was little known or con- parliamentary decorum, than in a Turkish sidered in the kingdom. To him the whole army. It was to be avowed as a constitunation was to yield an immediate and implicit tional maxim, that the king might appoint one submission. But whether it was for want of of his footmen, or one of your footmen, for firmness to bear up against the first opposi- minister; and that he ought to be, and that he tion; or that things were not yet fully ripened, woula be, as well followed as the first name for or that this method was not found the most eli- rank or wisdom in the nation. Thus parliagible; that idea was soon abandoned. The ment was to look on, as if perfectly unconinstrumental part of the project was a little cerned, while a cabal of the closet and backaltsred, to accommodate it to the time, and to stairs was substituted in the place of a national bring things more gradually and morc surely to administration. the one great end proposed.
With such a degree of acquiescence, any The first part of the reformed plan was to measure of any court might well be deemed draw a line which should separate the court from thoroughly secure. The capital objects, and the ministry. Hitherto these names had been by much the most flattering characteristics o. looked upon as synonymous; but for the future, arbitrary power, would be obtained. Every court and administration were to be considered thing would be drawn from its holdings in the as things totally distinct. By this operation, country to the personal favour and inclination two systems of administration were to be of the prince. This favour would be the sole formed; one which should be in the real secret introduction to power, and the only tenure hy
which it was to be held: so that no person now beheld an opportunity (by a certain sort looking towards another, and all looking towards of statesmen never long undiscovered or unemtho court, it was impossible but that the motive ployed) of drawing to themselves, by the ag. which solely influenced every man's hopes must grandizement of a court faction, a degree of come in time to govern every man's conduct: power which they could never hope to derive till at last the servility became universal, in from natural influence or from honourable ser. spite of the dead letter of any laws or institu- vice; and which it was impossible they could tions whatsoever.
hold with the least security, whilst the system How it should happen that any man could of administration rested upon its former bote be tempted to venture upon such a project of tom. In order to facilitate the execution of government, may at first view appear surpri- their design, it was necessary to make many sing. But the fact is, that opportunites very alterations in political arrangement, and a sig. inviting to such an attempt have offered; and nal change in the opinions, habits, and conthe scheme itself was not destitute of some nections of the greatest part of those who at arguments not wholly unplausiblo to recommend that time acted in public. it. These opportunities and these arguments, In the first place, they proceeded gradually, the use that has been made of both, the plan but not slowly, to destroy every thing of strength for carrying this new scheme of government which did not derive its principal nourishment into execution, and the effects which it has from the immediate pleasure of the court. The produced, are in my opinion worthy of our greatest weight of popular opinion and party serious consideration.
connection were then with the duke of NewHis majesty came to the throne of these castle and Mr. Pitt. Neither of these held kingdoms with more advantages than any of his their importance by the new tenure of the court; predecessors since the revolution. Fourth in they were not therefore thought to be so proper descent, and third in succession of his royal as others for the services which were required family, even the zealots of hereditary right, in by that tenure. It happened very favourably nim, saw something to flatter their favourite for the new system, that under a forced coaliprejudices; and to justify a transfer of their tion there rankled an incurable alienation and attachments, without a change in their princi- disgust between the parties which composed ples. The person and cause of the Pretender the administration. Mr. Piu was first attacked. were become contemptible; his title disowned Not satisfied with removing him from power, throughout Europe, his party disbanded in they endeavoured by various artifices to ruin England. His majesty came indeed to the his character. The other party seemed rather inheritance of a mighty war; but, victorious pleased to get rid of so oppressive a support; in every part of the globe, peace was always not perceiving, that their own fall was prepared in his power, not to negotiate, but to dictate. by his, and involved in it. Many other reasons No foreign habitudes or attachments withdrew prevented them from daring to look their true him from the cultivation of his power at home. situation in the face. To the great Whig His revenue for the civil establishment, fixed families it was extremely disagreeable, and (as it was then thought) at a large, but definite seemed almost unnatural io oppose the admisum, was ample, without being invidious. His nistration of a prince of the house of Brunsinfluence, by additions from conquest, by an wick. Day after day they hesitated, and augmentation of debt, by an increase of mili- doubted, and lingered, expecting that other tary and naval establishment, much strength- counsels would take place; and were slow to ened and extended. And coming to the throne be persuaded, that all which had been done by in the prime and full vigour of youth, as from the cabal, was the effect, not of humour, but affection there was a strong dislike, so from of system. It was more strongly and evidently dread there seemed to be a general averseness, the interest of the new court faction, to get rid from giving any thing like offence to a monarch, of the great Whig connections, than to destroy against whose resentment opposition could Mr. Pitt. The power of that gentleman was not look for a refuge in any sort of reversion- vast indeed and merited; but it was in a great ary hope.
degree personal, and therefore transient. Theirs These singular advantages inspired his ma- was rooted in the country. For, with a good jesty only with a more ardent desire to pre- deal less of popularity, they possessed a far serve unimpaired the spirit of that national more natural and fixed influence. Long poso freedom, to which he owed a situation so full session of government; vast property ; obligaof g But to others it su ted sentiments tions of favours given and received ; connection of a very different nature. They though they of office ; ties of blood, of alliance, of friend.