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for any restraints on their trade, ought not, in jus- | arguments is made up (not by you, but by others) tice or common honesty, to be made subject to by the usual resource on such occasions, the confisuch restraints. I do not mean to impeach the dence in military force, and superiour power. But right of the parliament of Great Britain to make that ground of confidence, which at no time was laws for the trade of Ireland. I only speak of perfectly just, or the avowal of it tolerably decent, what laws it is right for parliament to make. is at this time very unseasonable.

Late experiIt is nothing to an oppressed people, to say

that ence has shewn, that it cannot be altogether rein part they are protected at our charge. The lied upon; and many, if not all, of our present military force which shall be kept up in order to difficulties have arisen from putting our trust in cramp the natural faculties of a people, and to what may very possibly fail; and if it should fail, prevent their arrival to their utmost prosperity, is leaves those who are hurt by such a reliance, the instrument of their servitude, not the means of without pity. Whereas honesty and justice, reatheir protection. To protect men, is to forward, son and equity, go a very great way in securing and not to restrain, their improvement. Else, prosperity to those who use them; and, in case of what is it more, than to avow to them, and to the failure, secure the best retreat, and the most howorld, that you guard them from others, only to nourable consolations. make them a prey to yourself? This fundamental It is very unfortunate that we should consider nature of protection does not belong to free, but those as rivals, whom we ought to regard as felto all governments; and is as valid in Turkey as low labourers in a common cause. Ireland has in Great Britain. No government ought to own never made a single step in its progress towards that it exists for the purpose of checking the pros- prosperity, by which you have not had a share, perity of its people, or that there is such a prin- and perhaps the greatest share, in the benefit. ciple involved in its policy.

That

progress has been chiefly owing to her own Under the impression of these sentiments, (and natural advantages, and her own efforts, which, not as wanting every attention to my constituents, after a long time, and by slow degrees, have prewhich affection and gratitude could inspire,) I vot- vailed in some measure over the mischievous sysed for these bills which give you so much trouble. tems which have been adopted. Far enough she I voted for them, not as doing complete justice is still from having arrived even at an ordinary to Ireland, but as being something less unjust than state of perfection; and if our jealousies were to the general prohibition which has hitherto prevailed. be converted into politicks, as systematically as I hear some discourse, as if, in one or two paltry some would have them, the trade of Ireland would duties on materials, Ireland had a preference; and vanish out of the system of commerce. But bethat those, who set themselves against this act of lieve me, if Ireland is beneficial to you, it is so scanty justice, assert that they are only contend- not from the parts in which it is restrained, but ing for an equality. What equality? Do they from those in which it is left free, though not left forget, that the whole woollen manufacture of unrivalled. The greater its freedom, the greater Ireland, the most extensive and profitable of any, must be your advantage. If you should lose in and the natural staple of that kingdom, has been one way, you will gain in twenty. in a manner so destroyed by restrictive laws of Whilst I remain under this unalterable and ours, and (at our persuasion, and on our promises) powerful conviction, you will not wonder at the by restrictive laws of their own, that in a few decided part I take. It is my custom so to do, years, it is probable, they will not be able to wear when I see my way clearly before me; and when a coat of their own fabrick ? Is this equality ? Do I know that I am not misled by any passion, or gentlemen forget, that the understood faith, upon any personal interest; as in this case, I am very which they were persuaded to such an unnatural sure, I am not. I find that disagreeable things act, has not been kept ; and that a linen-manufac- are circulated among my constituents; and I ture has been set up, and highly encouraged, wish my sentiments, which form my justification, against them? Is this equality? Do they forget may be equally general with the circulation against the state of the trade of Ireland in beer, so great me. I have the honour to be, with the greatest an article of consumption, and which now stands regard and esteem, in so mischievous a position with regard to their

GENTLEMEN, revenue, their manufacture, and their agriculture ? Do they find any equality in all this? Yet if the

Your most obedient least step is taken towards doing them common

And humble servant, justice in the slightest article for the most limited

Westminster,

E. B. markets, a cry is raised, as if we were going to be ruined by partiality to Ireland.

May 2, 1778. Gentlemen, I know that the deficiency in these

I send the bills.

MR. BURKE'S SPEECH,

ox

PRESENTING TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,

(ON THE Ilth FEBRUARY, 1780,)

A PLAN,

FOR THE BETTER SECURITY OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT,

AND THE

ECONOMICAL REFORMATION OF THE CIVIL AND OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS.

MR. SPEAKER, I rise, in acquittal of my engagement to the that shakes me to the inmost fibre of my frame. house, in obedience to the strong and just requi- I feel that I engage in a business, in itself most sition of my constituents, and, I am persuaded, in ungracious, totally wide of the course of prudent conformity to the unanimous wishes of the whole conduct; and, I really think, the most completely nation, to submit to the wisdom of parliament, adverse that can be imagined to the natural turn “ A Plan of reform in the constitution of several and temper of my own mind. I know, that all parts of the public economy."

parsimony is of a quality approaching to unkindI have endeavoured, that this plan should in- ness; and that (on some person or other) every clude, in its execution, a considerable reduction reform must operate as a sort of punishment. Inof improper expence; that it should effect a con- deed the whole class of the severe and restrictive version of unprofitable titles into a productive virtues are at a market almost too high for humaestate ; that it should lead to, and indeed almost nity. What is worse, there are very few of those compel, a provident administration of such sums virtues which are not capable of being imitated, of publick money as must remain under discre- and even outdone, in many of their most striking tionary trusts; that it should render the incurring effects, by the worst of vices. Malignity and envy debts on the civil establishment (which must ulti- will carve much more deeply, and finish much mately affect national strength and national cre- more sharply, in the work of retrenchment, than dit) so very difficult, as to become next to im- frugality and providence. I do not, therefore, practicable.

wonder, that gentlemen have kept away from such But what, I confess, was uppermost with me, a task, as well from good-nature as from prudence. what I bent the whole force of my mind to, was Private feeling might, indeed, be overborne by the reduction of that corrupt influence, which is legislative reason; and a man of a long-sighted itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of and a strong-nerved humanity might bring himself, all disorder; which loads us, more than millions not so much to consider from whom he takes a of debt; which takes away vigour from our arms, superfluous enjoyment, as for whom in the end he wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of may preserve the absolute necessaries of life. authority and credit from the most venerable parts But it is much more easy to reconcile this meaof our constitution.

sure to humanity, than to bring it to any agreeSir, I assure you, very solemnly, and with a ment with prudence. I do not mean that little, very clear conscience, that nothing in the world selfish, pitiful, bastard thing, which sometimes goes has led me to such an undertaking, but my zeal by the name of a family in which it is not lefor the honour of this house, and the settled, ha- gitimate, and to which it is a disgrace ;-I mean bitual, systematick affection I bear to the cause even that publick and enlarged prudence, which, and to the principles of government,

apprehensive of being disabled from rendering acI enter perfectly into the nature and consequences ceptable services to the world, withholds itself of my attempt; and I advance to it with a tremour from those that are invidious. Gentlemen who are, with me, verging towards the decline of life, systematical process of popularity, the undertaker and are apt to form their ideas of kings from and the undertaking are both exposed, and the kings of former times, might dread the anger of a poor reformer is hissed off the stage both by reigning prince ;---they who are more provident friends and foes. of the future, or by being young are more inte- Observe, Sir, that the apology for my underrested in it, might tremble at the resentment of taking (an apology, which, though long, is no the successor ; they might see a long, dull, dreary, longer than necessary) is not grounded on my unvaried visto of despair and exclusion, for half a want of the fullest sense of the difficult and invicentury, before them. This is no pleasant prospect dious nature of the task I undertake. I risk odium at the outset of a political journey.

if I succeed, and contempt if I fail. My excuse Besides this, Sir, the private enemies to be made must rest in my own and your conviction of the abin all attempts of this kind are innumerable ; and solute, urgent necessity there is, that something of their enmity will be the more bitter, and the more the kind should be done. If there is

any

sacrifice dangerous too, because a sense of dignity will to be made, either of estimation or of fortune, the oblige them to conceal the cause of their resent- smallest is the best. Commanders in chief are not ment. Very few men of great families, and ex- to be put upon the forlorn hope. But, indeed, it is tensive connexions, but will feel the smart of a necessary that the attempt should be made. It is cutting reform, in some close relation, some bosom necessary from our own political circumstances ; friend, some pleasant acquaintance, some dear, pro- it is necessary from the operations of the enemy; tected dependent. Emolument is taken from some; it is necessary from the demands of the people, patronage from others ; objects of pursuit from all. whose desires, when they do not militate with the Men, forced into an involuntary independence, stable and eternal rules of justice and reason, (rules will abhor the authors of a blessing which in their which are above us and above them,) ought to be eyes has so very near a resemblance to a curse. as a law to a house of commons. When officers are removed, and the offices remain, As to our circumstances, I do not mean to agyou may set the gratitude of some against the gravate the difficulties of them by the strength anger of others; you may oppose the friends you of any colouring whatsoever. On the contrary, I oblige against the enemies you provoke. But ser- observe, and observe with pleasure, that our affairs vices of the present sort create no attachments. rather wear a more promising aspect than they The individual good felt in a publick benefit is did on the opening of this session. We have had comparatively so small, comes round through such some leading successes. But those who rate them an involved labyrinth of intricate and tedious re- at the highest (higher a great deal indeed than I volutions ; whilst a present, personal detriment is dare to do) are of opinion, that, upon the ground so heavy where it falls, and so instant in its ope- of such advantages, we cannot at this time hope ration, that the cold commendation of a publick to make any treaty of peace, which would not be advantage never was, and never will be, a match ruinous and completely disgraceful. In such an for the quick sensibility of a private loss : and you anxious state of things, if dawnings of success serve may depend upon it, Sir, that when many people to animate our diligence, they are good ; if they have an interest in railing, sooner or later, they tend to encrease our presumption, they are worse will bring a considerable degree of unpopularity than defeats. The state of our affairs shall then upon any measure. So that, for the present at be as promising as any one may choose to conceive least, the reformation will operate against the re- it: it is, however, but promising. We must recolformers; and revenge (as against them at the least) lect, that, with but half of our natural strength, will produce all the effects of corruption. we are at war against confederated powers, who

This, Sir, is almost always the case, where the have singly threatened us with ruin ; we must replan has complete success. But how stands the collect, that, whilst we are left naked on one side, matter in the mere attempt ? Nothing, you know, our other flank is uncovered by any alliance ; that, is more common than for men to wish, and call whilst we are weighing and balancing our successes loudly too for a reformation, who, when it arrives, against our losses, we are accumulating debt to the do by no means like the severity of its aspect. amount of at least fourteen millions in the year. Reformation is one of those pieces which must That loss is certain. be put at some distance in order to please. Its I have no wish to deny, that our successes are greatest favourers love it better in the abstract than as brilliant as any one chooses to make them; our in the substance. When any old prejudice of their resources too may, for me, be as unfathomable as own, or any interest that they value, is touched, they are represented. Indeed, they are just whatthey become scrupulous, they become captious, ever the people possess, and will submit to pay. and every man has his separate exception. Some Taxing is an easy business. Any projector can pluck out the black hairs, some the grey; one contrive new impositions; any bungler can add to point must be given up to one; another point the old. But is it altogether wise to have no other must be yielded to another ; nothing is suffered bounds to your impositions, than the patience of to prevail upon its own principle; the whole is those who are to bear them? so frittered down, and disjointed, that scarcely All I claim upon the subject of your resources a trace of the original scheme remains ! Thus, is this, that they are not likely to be encreased by between the resistance of power, and the un- wasting them. I think I shall be permitted to

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assume, that a system of frugality will not lessen of more than half a million, whilst it facilitates and your riches, whatever they may be ;-I believe it simplifies all the functions of administration. The will not be hotly disputed, that those resources king's household—at the remotest avenues to which lie heavy on the subject, ought not to be which all reformation has been hitherto stopped, objects of preference; that they ought not to be that household, which has been the strong hold of the very first choice, to an honest representative prodigality, the virgin fortress which was never of the people.

before attacked-has been not only not defended, This is all, Sir, that I shall say upon our circum- but it has, even in the forms, been surrendered stances and our resources; I mean to say a little by the king to the economy of his minister. No more on the operations of the enemy, because this capitulation; no reserve. Economy has entered matter seenis to me very natural in our present in triumph into the publick splendour of the deliberation. When I look to the other side of monarch, into his private amusements, into the the water, I cannot help recollecting what Pyrrhus appointments of his nearest and highest relations. said on reconnoitring the Roman camp, "These Economy and publick spirit have made a bene“ barbarians have nothing barbarous in their dis- ficent and an honest spoil; they have plundered

cipline.”. When I look, as I have pretty care- from extravagance and luxury, for the use of subfully looked, into the proceedings of the French stantial service, a revenue of near four hundred king, I am sorry to say it, I see nothing of the thousand pounds. The reform of the finances, character and genius of arbitrary finance; none joined to this reform of the court, gives to the of the bold frauds of bankrupt power; none of publick nine hundred thousand pounds a year and the wild struggles, and plunges, of despotism in upwards. distress ;- no lopping off

' from the capital of debt; The minister who does these things is a great --no suspension of interest ;-no robbery under man—But the king who desires that they should the name of loan ;-no raising the value, no de- be done is a far greater. We must do justice to basing the substance, of the coin. I see neither our enemies—These are the acts of a patriot king. Louis the Fourteenth nor Louis the Fifteenth. I am not in dread of the vast armies of France: On the contrary, I behold with astonishment, rising I am not in dread of the gallant spirit of its brave before me, by the very hands of arbitrary power, and numerous nobility : I am not alarmed even and in the very midst of war and confusion, a at the great navy which has been so miraculously regular, methodical system of publick credit: I created. All these things Louis the Fourteenth behold a fabrick laid on the natural and solid had before. With all these things, the French foundations of trust and confidence among men; monarchy has more than once fallen prostrate at and rising, by fair gradations, order over order, the feet of the publick faith of Great Britain. It according to the just rules of symmetry and art. was the want of publick credit which disabled What a reverse of things! Principle, method, France from recovering after her defeats, or reregularity, economy, frugality, justice to indi- covering even from her victories and triumphis. viduals, and care of the people, are the resources It was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered reve. with which France makes war upon Great Britain. nue, that sapped the foundations of all her greatGod avert the omen! But if we should see any

Credit cannot exist under the arm of genius in war and politicks arise in France to necessity. Necessity strikes at credit, I allow, second what is done in the bureau ! -I turn my with a heavier and quicker blow under an arbitrary eyes from the consequences.

monarchy, than under a limited and balanced The noble lord in the blue riband, last year, government: but still necessity and credit are treated all this with contempt. He never could natural enemies, and cannot be long reconciled in conceive it possible that the French minister of any situation. From necessity and corruption, a finance could go through that year with a loan of free state may lose the spirit of that complex conbut seventeen hundred thousand pounds; and stitution which is the foundation of confidence. that he should be able to fund that loan without On the other hand, I am far from being sure, that any tax. The second year, however, opens the a monarchy, when once it is properly regulated, very same scene. A small loan, a loan of no more may not for a long time furnish a foundation for than two millions five hundred thousand pounds, credit upon the solidity of its maxims, though it is to carry our enemies through the service of this affords no ground of trust in its institutions. I an year also. No tax is raised to fund that debt; no afraid I see in England, and in France, something tax is raised for the current services. I am credibly like a beginning of both these things. I wish I informed that there is no anticipation whatsoever. may be found in a mistake. Compensations are correctly made. Old debts This

very short and very imperfect state of what continue to be sunk as in the time of profound is now going on in France (the last circumstances peace. Even payments, which their treasury had of which I received in about eight days after the been authorized to spend during the time of war, registry of the edict +) I do not, Sir, lay before you are not suspended.

It is in order to excite A general reform, executed through every de-in us the spirit of a noble emulation.- Let the partment of the revenue, creates an annual income nations make war upon each other (since we must * This term comprehends various retributions made to persons

ness.

for any invidious purpose.

+ Edict, registered wbuse offices are taken away, or who, in any other way, suffer by 29th January, 1780.

the new arrangements that are made.

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make war) not with a low and vulgar malignity, | his people; and it differs only, as it falls short of but by a competition of virtues. This is the only the French king's idea of what is due to his subway by which both parties can gain by war. Thejects. “ To convince," says he,

our faithful French have imitated us; let us, through them, subjects of the desire we entertain not to recur imitate ourselves; ourselves in our better and to new impositions, until we have first exhausted happier days. If publick frugality, under whatever “all the resources which order and economy can men, or in whatever mode of government, is possibly supply,” &c. &c. national strength, it is a strength which our ene- These desires of the people of England, which mies are in possession of before us.

come far short of the voluntary concessions of the Sir, I am well aware that the state and the king of France, are moderate indeed. They only result of the French economy which I have laid contend that we should interweave some economy before

you, are even now lightly treated by some, with the taxes with which we have chosen to begin who ought never to speak but from information. the war. They request not that you should rely Pains have not been spared to represent them as upon economy exclusively, but that you

should impositions on the publick. Let me tell you, Sir, give it rank and precedence, in the order of the that the creation of a navy, and a two years' war ways and means of this single session. without taxing, are a very singular species of im- But if it were possible, that the desires of our posture. But be it so. For what end does Neckar constituents, desires which are at once so natural, carry on this delusion? Is it to lower the estima- and so very much tempered and subdued, should tion of the crown he serves, and to render his have no weight with a house of commons, which own administration contemptible ? No! No! He has its eye elsewhere; I would turn my eyes to is conscious that the sense of mankind is so clear the very quarter to which theirs are directed. I and decided in favour of economy, and of the would reason this matter with the house, on the weight and value of its resources, that he turns mere policy of the question ; and I would underhimself to every species of fraud and artifice to take to prove, that an early dereliction of abuse obtain the mere reputation of it. Men do not is the direct interest of government; of governaffect a conduct that tends to their discredit. Let ment taken abstractedly from its duties, and conus, then, get the better of Monsieur Neckar in his sidered merely as a system intending its own own way-Let us do in reality what he does only conservation. in

pretence- Let us turn his French tinsel into If there is any one eminent criterion, which, English gold. Is then the mere opinion and ap- above all the rest, distinguishes a wise government pearance of frugality and good management of from an administration weak and improvident, it such use to France, and is the substance to be so is this ;—“ well to know the best time and manner mischievous to England ? Is the very constitution of yielding what it is impossible to keep."of nature so altered by a sea of twenty miles, that there have been, Sir, and there are, many who economy should give power on the continent, and choose to chicane with their situation, rather than that profusion should give it here? For God's sake be instructed by it. Those gentlemen argue against let not this be the only fashion of France which every desire of reformation, upon the principles of

a criminal prosecution. It is enough for them to To the last kind of necessity, the desires of the justify their adherence to a pernicious system, that people, I have but a very few words to say. The it is not of their contrivance; that it is an inheritministers seem to contest this point; and affect to ance of absurdity, derived to them from their doubt whether the people do really desire a plan ancestors; that they can make out a long and unof economy in the civil government. Sir, this is broken pedigree of mismanagers that have gone too ridiculous. It is impossible that they should before them. They are proud of the antiquity of not desire it. It is impossible that a prodigality, their house; and they defend their errours, as if which draws its resources from their indigence, they were defending their inheritance : afraid of should be pleasing to them. Little factions of pen- derogating from their nobility; and carefully avoidşioners, and their dependents, may talk another ing å sort of blot in their scutcheon, which they language. But the voice of nature is against them; think would degrade them for ever. and it will be heard. The people of England will It was thus that the unfortunate Charles the not, they cannot take it kindly, that representa- First defended himself on the practice of the Stuart tives should refuse to their constituents, what an who went before him, and of all the Tudors; his absolute sovereign voluntarily offers to his subjects. partisans might have gone to the Plantagenets.The expression of the petitions is, that“ before any They might have found bad examples enough,

burthens are luid upon this country, ef- both abroad and at home, that could have shewn fectual measures be taken by this house, to en- an ancient and illustrious descent. But there is a quire into, and correct the gross abuses in the time, when men will not suffer bad things because expenditure of publick money."

their ancestors have suffered worse. There is a This has been treated by the noble lord in the time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse blue riband, as a wild, factious language. It hap- will neither draw reverence, nor obtain protection. pens, however, that the people in their address to If the noble lord in the blue riband pleads “ not us, use almost word for word the same terms as guilty" to the charges brought against the the king of France uses in addressing himself to present system of publiek economy, it is not

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