Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents and the Two Speeches on America
1. Page 69. Hoc vero occultum, intestinum, &c. Cic. in C. Verrem Act. Secunda, lib. i. cap. xv. sec. 39. Burke's original quotation is faulty, and has been corrected in the text. Translate non existit, "escapes observation." The allusion is to the treachery of Verres, when quaestor, to his praetor Cn. Carbo: the quaestor being bound to his praetor, according to the official policy of Rome, by a quasi-filial tie, known as necessitudo sortis. This tie is mentioned by Burke (p. 148) as an illustration of the party obligation in English politics. The introduction of the quotation at the commencement of this pamphlet points vaguely to similar treachery on the part of the Court and the House of Commons towards the English nation, and directly to the powerlessness of the nation to resist the poisonous influence of the Court Cabal. The passage was perhaps suggested by Lord Chatham's speech in the Lords, January 22, 1770: "The grand capital mischief is fixed at home. It corrupts the very foundation of our political existence, and preys upon the vitals of the state." This quotation almost foreshadows the accusation of Warren Hastings, between whom and Verres Burke always sought to establish a similarity, though it would have been easier to demonstrate a contrast.
2. P. 70, L. 1. It is an undertaking, &c. Burke understood thoroughly the art of the preamble. He never makes it so long as to fatigue the reader or hearer at the outset. If he introduces general observations, it is done in such a way as to prepare for the particular points which are to follow, and with strict reference to that object. Being the most philosophical, he is naturally the most sententious of orators; and the canon of the Roman rhetorician, sententias interponi raro convenit, ut rei actores, non vivendi praeceptores esse
3. L. 5. i.e. so as to touch, ruffle them. Under the general mention of "persons of weight and consequence," Burke alludes to the King.
4. L. 8. obliged to blame the favourites of the people, i.e. the popular ex-minister Lord Chatham. The pamphlet in its earliest form contained a severe attack on Chatham, which was expunged previous to publication. Burke's Correspondence, vol. i. p. 200.
5. L. 10. instrument of faction. Cp. p. 110, l. 4. Among the members of his party Burke was anxious to have it understood that this pamphlet was a manifesto from the whole body (Correspondence, vol i. pp. 198, 199): but he repudiated the idea of being "a mere conduit for the conveyance of other people's sentiments or principles," in letters on the subject to his private friends (Correspondence, vol. i. p. 226).
6. L. 12. our law has invested, &c. "All persons, noblemen and others (except women, clergymen, persons decrepit, and infants under fifteen) are bound to attend the justices in suppressing a riot."—Blackstone. Compare his insisting on the legal nature of the "interposition of the body of the people itself," infra, p. 142, and the conclusion of the Letter to W. Elliot, Esq.: "Private persons may sometimes assume that magistracy which does not depend on the nomination of Kings," &c.
7. L. 14. private people... stepping a little out of their ordinary sphere. Burke was at this time an active member of Parliament. From this and other passages (see pp. 130-31) it is clear that he wrote in the character of a private citizen. This apology for the public expression of private opinion was a stock piece in English political writing down to the reign of George III. Political pamphlets, and series of pamphlets under a general name by the same author, grew rarer after this time, when anonymous writers could get their letters inserted in the newspapers.
8. L. 19. reason upon them liberally. A favourite epithet with Burke. Cp. "liberal obedience," p. 288.
9. L. 22. rulers for the day... cause of Government. Burke distinguishes between the essence of government, which is permanent and resides rather in the spirit of the governed than in anything outside of them, and the merely temporary external administration. Cp. Speech on the Econ. Reform, near beginning; "the settled, habitual systematick affection I bear to the cause and to the principles of government." The present passage hints at the distinction between the interests of the King and those of his ministers.
10. L. 26. Compose the minds of the subject. Used collectively for the people.
11. L. 27. abstract value of the voice of the people—of which Burke had a low opinion. See p. 103 and note.
12. L. 28. reputation, the most precious possession of every individual—alluding to the passage from "Othello," quoted at p. 279.
14. P. 71, L. 11. The temper of the people... ought to be the first study of a Statesman. Instead of the temper of the House of Commons. Cp. the passage on C. Townshend, pp. 210-11. The maxim is an old commonplace. Tacitus, Ann. lib. 3: "Noscenda tibi natura vulgi est, et quibus modis temperanter habeatur." Martial:
15. L. 20. levity of the vulgar. "Multitudinis levitas" is an expression of Cicero, who often insists on the fact. "Vulgo nihil incertius," Pro Muraena. "In multitudine est varietas, et crebra tanquam tempestatum, sic sententiarum commutatio," Pro Domo.
16. L. 21. all times have not been alike. "I have read my friend Congreve's verses to Lord Cobham, which end with a vile and false moral, and I remember is not in Horace to Tibullus, which he imitates, 'that all times are equally virtuous and vicious,' wherein he differs from all Poets, Philosophers and Christians that ever writ." Swift to Bolingbroke, April 5, 1729. But Marcus Antoninus, Bacon, and Guicciardini, have expressed the contrary opinion. It is perhaps put most forcibly by Machiavelli, "giudico il mondo sempre esser stato ad un medesimo modo," &c. Discorsi sopra T. Livio, Lib. II, Introduction. The question on both sides is stated by Burke in his review of Brown's "Estimate of the Manners," &c., Annual Register, 1758, p. 444. Sir T. Browne says: "'Tis better to think that times past have been better than times present, than that times were always bad." Christian Morals, Part III, Sect. 3.
17. P. 72, L. 6. disconnexion... in families—alluding particularly to the Temple family. In general Lord Temple was a staunch opponent of the Court; his brother, George Grenville, a supporter of the Court, and his brother-in-law, Lord Chatham, politically separated from both. A reconciliation however had taken place before the publication of this pamphlet.
19. L. 11. great parties.... in a manner entirely dissolved. An old commonplace. "These associations are broken; these distinct sets of ideas are shuffled out of their order; new combinations force themselves upon us.... The bulk of both parties are really united; united on principles of liberty, in opposition to an obscure remnant of one party, who disown those principles, and a mercenary detachment from the other, who betray them." Dissertation on Parties, Letter I, Bolingbroke's Works, 4to. edition, vol. ii. p. 32. The real distinction of Whig and Tory parties faded away after the Revolution: and
20. L. 14. at present... scheme of taxation. There is an allusion to the attempted taxation of America, and to possible attempts of a like nature at home.
21. L. 16. Nor are we engaged in unsuccessful war, &c. "The last means (of averting popular discontents) consists in preventing dangers from abroad; for foreign dangers raise fears at home, and fears among the People raise jealousies of the Prince or State, and give them ill opinions either of their abilities or good intentions," &c. Sir William Temple on Popular Discontents.
22. L. 22. those who administer our affairs. The Duke of Grafton resigned while this pamphlet was in the press; but Lord North, his Chancellor of the Exchequer, succeeded him, and Onslow, Jenkinson, and Dyson, continued Junior Lords of the Treasury.
23. L. 23. take notice... of their speculation, i.e. theory.
24. L. 27. immense wealth in the hands of some individuals. A gloomy picture of the depravation of the country from these causes is drawn by
25. L. 31. boldness of others from a guilty poverty. On the frightful prevalence of crime at this time see Phillimore's Hist. of George III, p. 49.
26. P. 73, L. 5. industry of some libellers—especially of Junius, whose letters began January 21, 1769. Nearly forty of them had been published before Burke's pamphlet.
27. L. 17. measures... persons—the two political categories. Cp. infra. p. 151, l. 11.
28. L. 27. to introduce poverty, as a constable, &c. "He is an unskilful physician that cannot cure one disease without casting his patient into another: so he that can find no other way for correcting the errors of his people but by taking from them the conveniencies of life, shows that he knows not what it is to govern a free nation." Sir T. More's Utopia (Bp. Burnet's translation), Book I. Cp. inf. p. 248, "the exploded problem of tyranny, which proposes to beggar its subjects into submission."
29. L. 28. If our dominions abroad are the roots which feed all this rank luxuriance of sedition. "The current price of boroughs—for such is the corrupt state of the national representation in England, that this language is authorized by common use—was enormously raised by the rival plunderers of the East and of the West, who, by a new species of alchymy, had transmuted into English gold the Blood of Africa and the Tears of Hindostan. Many private fortunes were ruined, or materially impaired, by contests carried on with the utmost shamelessness of political depravity." Belsham, History of Great Britain, vol. v. p. 268 (Anno 1768).
30. P. 74, L. 5. this untoward people—"this untoward generation," Acts ii. 40.
32. L. 29. When popular discontents have been very prevalent, &c. "Politicians may say what they please, but it is no hard thing for the meanest person to know whether he be well or ill governed," &c. Swift, Sermon V, on martyrdom of Charles I. See infra, p. 252.
33. L. 31. something amiss in the conduct of Government. "The disorders of the people, in the present time and in the present place, are owing to the usual and natural cause of such disorders at all times and in all places, when such have prevailed—the misconduct of government; they are owing to plans laid in error, pursued with obstinacy, and conducted without wisdom." Address to the King (1777).
35. P. 75, L. 1. Les révolutions qui arrivent—impatience de souffrir. Memoirs of Sully, tom. i. p. 133. (Burke.) But there follows (p. 97) a partial exculpation of the Earl of Bute, the only man who resembled the favourites of Henry III. The parallel of the discontents will not bear close examination, and it is due to Burke to add that not only is it none of his invention, but that in an earlier pamphlet he had taken some pains to expose its unsoundness. Grenville had introduced it in his pamphlet on the State of the Nation, with the foolish idea of exhibiting himself as the counterpart of Sully.
36. L. 3. "Pour le populace," &c. "General rebellions and revolts of a whole people never were encouraged, now or at any time. They are always provoked." This is represented as the lesson of the "whole course of history" (Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol).
37. L. 11. trustees of power. Cp. p. 118, "They are all Trustees for the people," &c., and note.
38. L. 32. generality of people, &c. Nothing is more striking than the general truth of Burke's aphorism that the majority of people are half a century behind-hand in their politics. It will scarcely be credited that in 1777 one Dr. Miles Newton preached a sermon at Oxford strenuously denying the doctrines of power derived from the people, and of the lawfulness of resistance. This effusion was provoked by the recent publication of Dr. Powell's Sermons. At the present day the Tories, of the two parties, are the least liable to the charge of hoarding worn-out ideas.
39. P. 76, L. 2. in books everything is settled for them, &c. History in the time of Burke had already begun to assume the philosophical tone, which assumes that the reader is either too dull or too indolent to draw an inference for himself. When this pamphlet was written, Robertson's chief works had been published, and Hume was in his fifth edition. On the difference between Burnet and modern historians, cp. Charles Lamb's letter to Manning, Works, p. 55.
40. L. 4. Men are wise with but little reflection, &c. "It is natural to mean well, when only abstracted ideas of virtue are proposed to the mind, and no particular passion turns us aside from rectitude: and so willing is every man to flatter himself, that the difference between approving laws and obeying them is frequently forgotten." Johnson, Rambler, No. 76. See the famous passage in vol. ii. p. 244.
41. L. 8. the whole train of circumstances, &c. "The examples which history presents to us, both of men and of events, are generally complete: the whole example is before us, &c." Bolingbroke, On the Study of History.
42. L. 11. Whig on the business of an hundred years ago. Alluding to the professed Whigs who had joined the Court party, and to ministers like George Grenville, Charles Townshend, Lord North, and Lord Mansfield, who boasted of the name of Whig, while leading the policy of would-be tyranny.
To make the accomplish'd gentleman complete:
There, safe in self-sufficient impudence,
Without experience, honesty, or sense,
Unknowing in her interest, trade, or laws,
He vainly undertakes his country's cause.
Forth from his lips, prepared at all to rail,
Torrents of nonsense burst, like bottled ale,
Though shallow, muddy; brisk, though mighty dull;
Fierce without strength; o'erflowing, yet not full;
Now, quite a Frenchman in his garb and air,
His neck yok'd down with bag and solitaire,
The liberties of Britain he supports,
And storms at placemen, ministers, and courts.
Next, we have him among his constituents:
He loudly bellows out his patriot speeches;
King, lords, and commons ventures to abuse,
Yet dares to show those ears he ought to lose.
The end of all is—
But seeks preferment, as the last resort,
Cringes each morn at levées, bows at court,
And, from the hand he hates, implores support;
The minister, well pleas'd at small expence
To silence so much rude impertinence,
With squeeze and whisper yields to his demands,
And on the venal list enrolled he stands;
A ribband and a pension buy the slave;
This bribes the fool about him, that the knave.
And now, arriv'd at his meridian glory,
He sinks apace, despis'd by Whig and Tory;
Of independence now he talks no more,
Nor shakes the senate with his patriot roar;
But silent votes, and with court trappings hung,
Eyes his own glittering star, and holds his tongue.
A contemporary observer writes: "Une très longue expérience prouve, que dans la Grande Bretagne le Patriotisme de ceux, qui se montrent opposés à la cour ou au parti du ministère, n'a pour objet que d'importuner le Souverain, de contrarier les actions de ses ministres, de renverser leurs projets les
43. L. 13. historical patriotism. "You will be wise historically, a fool in practice." Vol. ii., ubi sup.
44. L. 16. Many a stern republican, &c. In Bubb Dodington's correspondence with the Duke of Newcastle, in reference to his preferment, which has been described as exhibiting the meanest sentiments that ever were trusted to paper, he declared that a peerage was "not worth the expense of new-painting his coach." Better men have assumed similar airs. "Halifax was in speculation a strong republican, and did not conceal it. He often made hereditary monarchy and aristocracy the subjects of his keen pleasantry, while he was fighting the battles of the Court, and obtaining for himself step after step in the peerage. In this way he tried to gratify at once his intellectual vanity, and his mere vulgar ambition." Macaulay, Essay on Sir William Temple. Cp. vol. ii. p. 155.
45. L. 18. Our true Saxon constitution. See Burke's interesting Fragment of an Essay on the History of English Law. "N. Bacon, in order to establish his republican system, has so distorted all the evidence he has produced, concealed so many things of consequence, and thrown such false colours upon the whole argument, that I know no book so likely to mislead the reader in antiquities, if yet it retains any authority. In reality, that ancient constitution, and those Saxon laws, made little or nothing for any of our modern parties.... Nothing has been a larger theme of panegyrick with all our writers on politicks and history, than the Anglo-Saxon government; and it is impossible not to conceive an high opinion of its laws, if we rather consider what is said of them, than what they visibly are," &c. (Bolingbroke had made large use of N. Bacon as an authority.) The figment of the Saxon constitution, however, long survived the ridicule of Burke. Cp. the once popular Lesson to a Young Prince, intended for Prince George, afterwards George IV, with its absurd copper-plate illustrations of different constitutions.
46. L. 19. splendid bile. Horace, Satires, ii. 3. 141.
47. L. 20. coarsest work—used like "job," in malam partem:
—Shakspeare, Coriolanus, iv. 6.
Cp. the common expression "what work was made of it," i.e. what a bungle.
48. L. 30. alteration to the prejudice of our constitution. It is a well-known maxim of Machiavelli that a free government must be perpetually making new regulations to secure its liberty. According to this doctrine, it is in the nature of things that some alterations should take place, and if they are not directed in one way they proceed, by a species of gravitation, in the other. Burke professes to enter thoroughly into that spirit of jealousy of government which prevailed for centuries among the English people. Bolingbroke writes in the Patriot King: "Men decline easily from virtue. There is a devil, too, in the political system—a constant tempter at hand."
50. P. 77, L. 1. Furniture of ancient tyranny, &c. "You will find nothing in their houses but the refuse of Knave's Acre: nothing but the rotten stuff, &c. &c. It is nearly two thousand years since it has been observed that these devices of ambition, avarice, and turbulence, were antiquated." Appeal from New to Old Whigs. "They have totally abandoned the shattered and old-fashioned fortress of Prerogative," &c., infra, p. 120.
51. L. 3. to fall into the identical snare. "The unpitied calamity of being repeatedly caught in the same snare," infra, p. 161.
Still the same bait, and circumvented still!
—Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel.
52. L. 7. ship-money. See Hallam, Constitutional History, ch. viii.
54. L. 11. Exaction of two hundred pullets, &c. "Uxor Hugonis de Nevill dat Domino Regi ducentas gallinas, eo quod possit jacere una nocte cum Domino suo Hugone de Nevill." Madox, Hist. Exch. c. xiii. p. 326. (Burke.)
55. L. 13. Every age has its own manners, &c. Burke sums up, as usual with him, in a single sentence, the conclusions of the two preceding paragraphs.
56. L. 18. Against the being of Parliament.... no designs have ever been entertained since the Revolution. Burke might have gone back earlier. Lord Egmont was one of the first to draw attention to the exaggerated importance generally attached to the Revolution as an era of civil liberty. "The Revolution," says Mr. Hallam, "is justly entitled to honour as the era of religious in a far greater degree than civil liberty: the privileges of conscience having no earlier Magna Charta and Petition of Right whereto they could appeal against encroachment." Constitutional History, ch. xv.
57. L. 24. However they may hire out the usufruct of their voices, &c. This recalls the irony of Butler's Characters, published by Thyer in 1759 and noticed by Burke in the Annual Register for that year. Burke's pungent remark is copied by Macaulay in his essay on Sir William Temple.
58. L. 26. Those who have been of the most known devotion, &c. Dyson was especially forward in asserting it. See G. Grenville's Speech of February 2, 1769, Parliamentary History, xvi. 550.
59. P. 78, L. 1. forms of a free... ends of an arbitrary Government. The policy of Tiberius as described by Tacitus will at once suggest itself to the student. "A constitution may be lost, whilst all its forms are preserved,"
60. L. 4. The power of the Crown... Prerogative... Influence.
Could scape the heavy hand of God and man;
Yet by the natural variety
Of frailties, reigning since the world began,
And change force into craft, old times to new.
"The formidable prerogatives of the Sovereign were, indeed, reduced within the bounds of a just executive authority, and limited by the strict letter of the laws. But the terror and jealousy of the people were quieted by this victory, and the mild and seducing dominion of influence stole upon us insensibly in its stead, bestowing a greater and more fatal authority than ever existed in the most arbitrary periods of the government.... The Crown, by appearing to act with the consent of the people through their representatives, though in fact by its own influence, is enabled to carry on a system which the most absolute prince could not have fastened upon England for centuries past." Erskine, Speech for Reform, May 26, 1797. He goes on to point out that Burke, "as he abhorred reform, must be supposed to have disclosed unwillingly the disgraces of Parliament." "The state of things has much altered in this country, since it was necessary to protect our representatives against the direct power of the Crown. We have nothing to apprehend from prerogative, but everything from undue influence." Junius, April 22, 1771.
61. L. 6. Influence. The name, and the thing itself, were alike borrowed from the great Whig lords. It might seem strange that the King should be the only English gentleman whose rightful possessions and lawful connexions entitled him to no political power or credit, but this doctrine was remorselessly urged by the Whigs.
62. L. 13. moulded in its original stamina irresistible principles, &c. A favourite image of Burke. "The heads of certain families should make it their business, by the whole course of their lives, principally by their example, to mould into the very vital stamina of their descendants, those principles which ought to be transmitted pure and unmixed to posterity." Letter to the Duke of Richmond, November 17, 1772.
63. L. 22. the Court had drawn far less advantage. This is partly to be explained by the predilections of the first two Georges. George the Third had an Englishman's passion for state business, and was naturally disposed to claim all the influence to which his active exertions might entitle him.
64. P. 79, L. 9. confidence in their own strength... fear of offending their friends. Men of great natural interest—of great acquired consideration. Alluding to Pitt on the one hand, and the great Whig leaders on the other.
65. L. 19. returned again, &c. The image of rain and the ocean was a favourite one with Burke. Readers of Cobbett will remember his attack on Burke for applying it to money raised by taxation and afterwards spent in
66. L. 24. nature of despotism to abhor power, &c. It was the constant employment of the terms "despotism," "tyranny," "liberty," "the people," &c., in this pamphlet, that so irritated those who called themselves Supporters of the Bill of Rights (Wilkes, Glynn, Sawbridge, &c.), of whom the "republican virago" (Correspondence i. 230), Mrs Macaulay, was the literary champion. That an aristocratic faction should lisp the Shibboleth of democracy seemed intolerable.
67. P. 80, L. 3. A certain set of intriguing men... court of Frederick Prince of Wales. See Introduction.
68. L. 9. a person in rank indeed respectable, &c. The Earl of Bute. "Respectable" is here used in the earlier and French sense = worthy of respect.
69. L. 10. very ample in fortune. This generously contradicts sinister remarks caused by the enormous amount (between 200,000l. and 300,000l.) expended by Lord Bute in purchasing an estate, laying out a park, and building houses, in 1763-1765, whilst his clear income was asserted to be only 5000l. per annum. Cp. Anti-Sejanus (Scott), Letter of August 3, 1765.
70. L. 16. that idea was soon abandoned. Bute resigned in April 1763.
71. L. 20. the reformed plan, &c. "The plan of Bute and George III," says Earl Russell, "was not so systematic, nor was the Whig government so beneficial as Burke has depicted: but the project was certainly formed of restoring to the Crown that absolute direction and control which Charles I and James II had been forced to relinquish, and from which George I and George II had quietly abstained." Bedford Corresp. vol. iii, Preface, p. xxix.
72. L. 27. —a legal word, employed by Burke in an unusual sense. He seems to have adopted it from the French phrase puissance exécutrice (Montesquieu). Swift and Addison said, as we do, executive.
73. P. 81, L. 2. to bring Parliament to an acquiescence in this project. The submission was not unprecedented. "The Parliament having resigned all their ecclesiastical liberties, proceeded to an entire surrender of their civil, and without any scruple or deliberation, they made by one act a total subversion of the English constitution." Hume, c. 37 (Henry VIII), alluding to 31 Hen. VIII. cap. 1, repealed by 1 Edw. VI. c. 12. Filangieri says of this occasion, "This part of the history of England may convince us that in mixed Governments of this nature, the prince may often succeed in his wishes, and even oppress the nation without any alteration in the form of the constitution, and without any risk to his personal safety, if he have only the address to corrupt the assembly which represents the sovereignty." Scienza della Legislazione, c. 10. Bolingbroke (Diss. on Parties, Letter
74. L. 21. than in a Turkish army. "As among the Turks, and most of the Eastern tyrannies, there is no nobility, and no man has any considerable advantage above the common people, unless by the immediate favour of the Prince; so in all the legal kingdoms of the North, the strength of the government has always been placed in the nobility; and no better defence has been found against the encroachments of ill Kings than by setting up an order of men, who, by holding large territories, and having great numbers of tenants and dependants, might be able to restrain the exorbitancies that either the Kings or the Commons, might run into." Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government, chap. iii. sec. 28.
75. L. 22. might appoint one of his footmen. Alluding to Lord Holland's saying "The King may make a page first minister." Walpole, Mem. iii. 66.
76. L. 25. first name for rank or wisdom. This distinction again alludes to the Duke of Newcastle and Pitt.
77. P. 82, L. 11. Arguments not wholly unplausible. The case is impartially stated by Burke in the Annual Register for 1763, chap. vii.
79. L. 26. victorious in every part of the globe. The earlier volumes of the Annual Register contain Burke's chronicle of these victories. See Macknight's Life of Burke, vol. i.
80. L. 28. foreign habitudes. As in the case of the two first Georges.
81. L. 31. a large, but definite sum—800,000l. See May's Const. Hist., ch. iv.
82. L. 32. additions from conquest. Canada and the Floridas, together with some possessions in the West Indies and in Africa.
83. P. 83, L. 3. averseness from. Better than the modern phrase "averse to."
84. L. 5. reversionary hope. Such as had existed when the return of the Pretender was still possible.
85. L. 6. inspired his Majesty only with a more ardent desire to preserve unimpaired the spirit of that national freedom. The pamphlet was intended to conciliate the monarch, while attacking his instruments. In his speeches and writings Burke always preserved a respectful tone towards the King. Among his friends he was not always so cautious. "One day he (Burke) came into the room (Reynolds's studio) when Goldsmith was there, full of ire and abuse against the late King (George III), and went on in such a torrent of unqualified invective that Goldsmith threatened to leave the room. The other, however, persisted; and Goldsmith went out, unable to bear it any longer." Hazlitt, Conversations of Northcote, p. 40. Another of these ebullitions occurred later on, when the King was seized by a fit of mental aberration, on which occasion he said publicly "that the Almighty had hurled him from his throne."
87. L. 17. former bottom. "Bottom" means here the keel of a ship.
88. L. 22. gradually, but not slowly. Notice the distinction.
89. L. 30. under a forced coalition there rankled an incurable alienation, &c. The formation of Pitt's first ministry in December 1756 was on a thoroughly popular basis. The refusal of Pitt, Temple, and Legge to support the unfortunate German expedition of the Duke of Cumberland, occasioned their removal: but the public will which had brought them in was strong enough to procure their recall. The second ministry was formed in June 1757, including Lord Anson, Sir R. Henley, and Mr. Fox, of the opposition. Fox was placed in the Pay Office, which Pitt had left: "a triumph," says his candid biographer, "too diminutive for the dignity of Mr. Pitt's mind. However, he enjoyed it: which shows the influence of little passions in men of the first abilities." Anecdotes of Lord Chatham, vol. i. p. 249.
90. L. 34. endeavoured by various artifices to ruin his character. Through fear lest the popular will, which had brought him back to power in 1757, might do so again. The hired press, in the hands of the Leicester House faction, branded him with the names of Pensioner, Apostate, Deserter, &c. A pamphlet of considerable size, says Adolphus, was formed by the republication of paragraphs which appeared against him in the newspapers on this single occasion. The barony of Chatham conferred on his wife at his resignation, and the annuity of 3000l. per. annum, furnished substantial grounds for unpopularity.
91. P. 84, L. 17. Long possession, &c. Burke was fond of recounting the historical merits of the Whig party. "If I have wandered," he writes in another place, "out of the paths of rectitude into those of an interested faction, it was in company with the Saviles, the Dowdeswells, the Wentworths, the Bentincks; with the Lenoxes, the Manchesters, the Keppels, the Saunderses; with the temperate, permanent, hereditary virtue of the whole house of Cavendish; names among which some have extended your fame and empire in arms, and all have fought the battle of your liberties in fields not less glorious."
92. L. 30. The whole party was put under a proscription, &c. A more severe political persecution never raged. See Walpole, Memoirs, vol. i. p. 233. "Numberless innocent families which had subsisted on salaries from 50l. to 100l. a year, turned out to misery and ruin." Speech of Lord Rockingham, Jan. 22, 1770. "A cruel and inhuman proscription at the Customhouse," Duke of Newcastle. Rockingham Memoirs, i. 235. Noblemen of the first consideration, like the Duke of Newcastle and Earl Temple were deprived of their county lieutenancies. The proscription was directed by Lord Holland.
93. P. 85, L. 9. Here and there... a few individuals were left standing. Lord Northington, Lord Granville, the Duke of Bedford, and Lord Halifax, besides Lord Holland (Fox), continued in office under Lord Bute.
94. L. 27. a pamphlet which had all the appearance of a manifesto.
95. L. 31. written with no small art and address. The only remarkable passage in the pamphlet seems that which contains the aphorism borrowed from Defoe, "Party is the madness of the many for the gain of the few," p. 32. It is plainly written, and bears marks of declining power. Walpole says, "the author, and some of the doctrines it broached—not any merit in the composition—make it memorable." Mem. Geo. III. i. 54. "In general the language of the pamphlet was that of the Court, who conducted themselves by the advice bequeathed by Lord Bolingbroke, who had, and with truth, assured the late Prince of Wales that the Tories would be the heartiest in support of prerogative." Ibid. The reputation of the author as a wit, as well as a politician, was great. "How many Martials are in Pulteney lost!" Pope. "How can I Pult'ney, Chesterfield forget, While Roman spirit charms, and Attic wit?" Id. "All wit, about six years ago, came from L(ord) C(hesterfield): and nobody could say a clever thing that was not by the vox populi placed to his lordship's general account. For some time every Monitor, with very long sentences in it, was my friend Pitt's; every political pamphlet the E(arl) of B(ath)'s," &c. Ann. Register, 1760, p. 211.
96. P. 86, L. 4. a perspective view of the Court, i.e. a transparency, as in a puppet show.
97. L. 15. those good souls, whose credulous morality, &c. "Of all kinds of credulity, the most obstinate and wonderful is that of political zealots; of men, who, being numbered, they know not how nor why, in any of the parties that divide a State, resign the use of their own eyes and ears, and resolve to believe nothing that does not favour those whom they profess to follow." The Idler, Ann. Register, 1758. With such "good souls," arguments of a moral character, however misplaced, go a long way.
98. L. 21. sure constantly to end, i.e. without exception—not as now used = frequently. Cp. infra p. 150, and note.
99. L. 22. talking prose all their lives without knowing anything of the matter. "Mr.
100. L. 29. which had been infamously monopolized and huckstered. "I have never deemed it reasonable that any confederacy of great names should monopolize to themselves the whole patronage and authority of the state:
101. L. 32. Mettre le Roy hors de page. A phrase applied by contemporary historians to Louis XI. Sidney, Discourses concerning Government, chap. ii. § 30: "For that reason (increasing the power of the crown) he is said by Mezeray and others 'to have brought those kings out of guardianship.' (D'avoir mis les roys hors de page)." It is also quoted by Bolingbroke, 6th "Letter on the Study of History."
102. L. 34. —those who did the lowest work, spies, messengers, &c. Burke's Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 205, "One of the runners of Government in the City—a tool of Harley." Infra, p. 203, "The wretched runners for a wretched cause."
103. P. 87, L. 10. no concert, order, or effect, &c. This, with many other topics, is repeated from the pamphlet on the State of the Nation. Cp. also p. 146, l. 20.
104. L. 30. carried the glory, the power, the commerce of England, &c. "That infernal chaos, into which he (Bute) from the first plunged affairs, at the time that through his cloudy imbecility it so soon thickened in the clear of the fairest horizon that ever tantalized a country with the promise of meridian splendor." Public Advertiser, August 30, 1776.
105. P. 88, L. 12. condition of servility. An impression of which George III always found it impossible to disabuse himself.
106. L. 19. topicks... much employed by that political school. See the political writings of the late Dr. Brown, and many others. (Burke.) Thoughts on Civil Liberty, Licentiousness, and Faction, Second Edition, 1765. This work is written somewhat in the spirit of Dr. Johnson, to attack Bolingbroke's views, based on the disavowal of natural religion, and Mandeville's, based on the alleged incurable depravity of human nature. Like Bolingbroke, however, he attacks the Whig doctrine of "men not measures," and aims "to unite all honest men of all parties," p. 124, and with Mandeville he maintains the unconditional necessity of corruption in all free governments, p. 142. The state of things which forced Pitt into power in 1757 is marked as the culminating point of the corruption of the age. He advocates "a general and prescribed improvement in the laws of Education" (p. 156) as a remedy for the disorders of the State ("a correspondent and adequate Code of Education inwrought into its first Essence," p. 159). A better work is the Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, 2 vols. 1757-8 (reviewed in the Annual Register, 1758), an attack on the existing system of education, beginning with the universities, on effeminacy in manners, luxury in dress, &c.; the exorbitant advance of trade and wealth is adduced as a cause of depravity; and change is advocated on general moral grounds.
107. L. 29. lately appeared in the House of Lords a disposition to some attempts derogatory to the rights of the subject. The allusion is to the Debates on the
108. P. 89, L. 8. While they are men of property, it is impossible to prevent it... property is power. The law that power follows the balance of property, first clearly laid down by Harrington, was thought by Adams to be a discovery comparable with Harvey's on the circulation of the blood. But Burke's Aristotelian views of the fallibility of general laws in politics, must be kept in mind. "That power goes with Property is not universally true, and the idea that the operation of it is certain and invariable may mislead us very fatally." Thoughts on French Affairs, December, 1791. The decline of the power of the crown after the Tudors was thought to be traceable to the alienation of the Crown Lands, which previously included about one fourth of the Kingdom. Bishop Burnet, with a view of reinstating the Crown in its former power, advised the House of Hanover to apply as much surplus revenue as possible (300,000l. or 400,000l. per annum) in repurchasing the Crown Lands. "This would purchase 15,000l. by the year of good land every year; which in about ten or fifteen years' time would be a good estate of its selfe, and may be so contrived as that the nation shall take but little notice in the doing it, &c." Memorial to Princess Sophia, p. 67.
109. L. 14. any particular peers—the Rockingham party.
110. L. 23. a bad habit to moot cases, &c. English political writers have always freely indulged in the habit.
111. L. 26. that austere and insolent domination. "The worst imaginable government, a feudal aristocracy," Burke's Abridgment of English Hist., Book iii. c. 8. Cp. the description of Poland under such a government, Ann. Reg. 1763. "Every new tribunal, erected for the decision of facts, without the interposition of a jury... is a step towards establishing aristocracy, the most oppressive of absolute governments." Id. 1768, p. 272.
112. L. 29. influence of a Court, and of a Peerage, which... is the most imminent. Pope thus describes the supposed paralysing influence of a Whig minister:
Proud to my list to add one monarch more;
And nobly conscious princes are but things
Born for First Ministers, as slaves for Kings.
And make one mighty Dunciad of the land!
—Dunciad, iv. 599.
The opinion that England was like to end in despotism prevailed in many thinking minds from the time when Hume wrote the Essay on the British Government ("Absolute Monarchy—the true Euthanasia of the British Constitution") to the end of the reign of George III. "Despotism," wrote Bentham in 1817, "is advancing in seven-leagued boots." Works, iii. 486. On the anticipation of an absolute aristocracy, in the early part of that reign, cp. Churchill, The Farewell, Works, Fifth Edition, iii. 147, 148:
Nor titled upstarts league to rob the realm,
Let not, whatever other ills assail,
If, all too short, our course of Freedom run,
'Tis thy good pleasure we should be undone,
Let us, some comfort in our griefs to bring,
Be slaves to one, and be that one a King.
Cp. also Goldsmith, Traveller (1764);
Contracting regal power to stretch their own,
When I behold a factious band agree
To call it freedom when themselves are free—
... half a patriot, half a coward grown,
I fly from petty tyrants to the throne.
Dr. Primrose, in the Vicar of Wakefield (ch. xix), expresses a similar feeling. See also Cowper, Task, Book v. 485 sqq. The fear of the Whig nobles constantly haunted the brain of George the Third. He often declared his determination not to submit to be shackled by those desperate men, Correspondence with Lord North, passim. Burke was acute enough to see where the real weakness of the body of the Peers lay, and how few could leave below them what Grattan termed the "vulgar level of the great."
113. P. 90, L. 9. back-stairs influence. P. 81, l. 27.
115. P. 91, L. 20. established a sort of Rota in the Court. Harrington's club, called the Rota, had for its aim to bring the nation to adopt a scheme of aristocracy. The name is borrowed from the privy council of the Court of Rome. Sidrophel, in Hudibras, is described as being
—Part II. Canto iii. 1107.
116. L. 21. All sorts of parties... have been brought into Administration,... few have had the good fortune to escape without disgrace, &c. Every statesman of the day, except Lord Temple, was in turn gulled by the King into accepting office, and then left to find out that he was expected to hold it by a tenure inconsistent alike with self-respect and constitutional traditions.
117. P. 92, L. 7. many rotten members belonging to the best connexions. "That tail which draggles in the dirt, and which every party in every state must carry about it." Burke, Correspondence, vol. ii. p. 385. "Parties are like coin: which would never be fit for common use without some considerable alloy of the baser metals." Lord Stanhope, History of England, vol. v. p. 179. The image is borrowed from Bacon, Essay I.
118. L. 13. the Junto = cabal or faction. The opposite party applied the term to the Whigs; cp. "Seasonable Hints."
119. L. 14. Retrenchment, Fr. "retranchement" = intrenchment.
120. L. 24. A minister of state. The allusion is not to a Premier.
121. L. 25. collegues, Fr. "collégues," classical, and always used by Burke.
122. P. 93, L. 10. some person of whom the party entertains an high opinion. The allusion is to the young Duke of Grafton, who was one of the Secretaries in Lord Rockingham's ministry.
123. L. 17. Afterwards they are sure to destroy him in his turn; by setting up in his place, &c. The Duke of Grafton was displaced in January 1770, when Lord North became First Lord of the Treasury.
124. L. 24. an attempt to strip a particular friend of his family estate. Alluding to the scandalous attempt to deprive the Duke of Portland of Inglewood forest with the Manor and Castle of Carlisle, and extensive appurtenant election influence, by a grant to Sir James Lowther, the son-in-law of Lord Bute. These premises, though not specified in the grant from William III of the honour of Penrith to the Portland family, had been enjoyed by the family for several descents under that tenure. The grant was completed and sealed before the Duke had the opportunity of establishing his title, notwithstanding a caveat entered in the Exchequer, the Treasury relying on the antiquated prerogative maxim nullum tempus occurrit regi. Sir G. Savile's bill abolishing this maxim, though at first rejected, subsequently became law: and sixty years adverse possession now defeats the title of the Crown
125. P. 96, L. 1. Like Janissaries, they derive a kind of freedom, &c. Cp. "the ancient household troops of that side of the house." Infra, p. 164, &c. "In the teeth of all the old mercenary Swiss of state," p. 195, and p. 197. G. Grenville first applied the term to the King's men: "a set of Janissaries, who might at any time be ordered to put the bowstring around his neck." Bedford Correspondence, vol. iii.
126. L. 2. the very condition of their servitude... people should be so desirous of adding themselves to that body. Burke, in speaking of the Janissaries, perhaps has in mind the description in the letter of Lady M. W. Montagu to the Countess of Bristol, April 1, 1717. "This (offering to bring the head of the cadi who had neglected her orders) may give you some idea of the unlimited power of these fellows, who are all sworn brothers, and bound to revenge the injuries done to one another, whether at Cairo, Aleppo, or any part of the world. This inviolable league makes them so powerful, that the greatest man at Court never speaks to them but in a flattering tone; and in Asia, any man that is rich is forced to enrol himself a Janizary, to secure his estate."
127. L. 14. invidious exclusion. "The King of France," says Machiavelli, "suffers nobody to call himself of the King's party, because that would imply a party against him." "The King of England," pertinently remarks a critic of the day, "has no enemies."
128. L. 23. for eight years past. The institution was supposed to have been set up after Lord Bute had been forced to resign, as a defence to the Crown against the Whig Ministries. See Butler's Reminiscences, vol. ii. p. 114.
129. P. 97, L. 1. hid but for a moment. Cp. infra, p. 207.
130. L. 5. without any idea of proscription. Referring to Lord Holland's proscription. See note to p. 84, l. 31.
131. L. 11. abhorred and violently opposed by the Court Faction, &c. But it was the inherent weakness of the Rockingham administration, and the unhappy schisms among the Whigs, rather than the opposition of the King's friends, which brought about its fall. This was notorious at the time. Cp. note to p. 196, l. 9.
132. L. 15. I should say so little of the Earl of Bute, &c. Burke wished rather to conciliate than to offend this nobleman. The democratic party were exceedingly enraged at his being treated so leniently.
134. L. 23. a dangerous national quarrel—alluding to the indecent attacks on the Scotch nation in the North Briton and other publications of that day.
135. L. 28. indifference to the constitution. By a natural reaction from the violent Whiggism of the early part of the century.
136. L. 30. We should have been tried with it, if the Earl of Bute had never existed. Burke here corrects the views of the author of the History of the Minority, p. 10.
137. L. 33. firmly to embody—now seldom used intransitively. Cp. infra, p. 154, l. 12.
139. P. 98, L. 2. He communicates very little in a direct manner, &c. After 1764 Bute never seems to have directly communicated with the King, much less with Ministers. His visits, however, to Carlton House, on his return from abroad, were as frequent as ever, and were especially remarked during the month preceding the establishment of the Chatham Ministry in 1766.
140. L. 8. whoever becomes a party to an Administration, &c. The attack on Lord Chatham which the pamphlet in an earlier shape contained, and which was afterwards expunged, perhaps followed this paragraph.
142. L. 23. System of Favouritism. Unnatural perhaps, but not uncommon in similar circumstances. Bacon extols a system of Favouritism as the best remedy against the ambitious great. Essay of Ambition.
143. L. 32. bitter waters, Numbers v. 14. The rhetorical phrases and images borrowed from the Holy Scriptures, which always suggested themselves to Burke when rising above the common level of his argument, are naturally less thickly sown in this pamphlet than in his speeches. See pp. 105, 118, 122, 144.
144. L. 33. drunk until we are ready to burst. Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle iii. "Men and dogs shall drink him till they burst." "Largely drink, e'en till their bowels burst." Churchill, Gotham, Book ii. 3.
145. L. 35. abused by bad or weak men—and by the King himself, though Burke could only hint this. Yet without an unusually low standard of morality among public men, the King would have been unable to abuse his discretionary power.
146. P. 99, L. 3. A plan of Favouritism, &c.—better of this system. These pages demand attentive study; and the student will beware of taking for aphorisms which can be detached the frequent maxims which form the successive landing-places of the reasoning. Burke here assumes a concealed influence on the part of Lord Bute, though the existence of such an influence at this
147. L. 19. The laws reach but a very little way. Vide supra, p. 70.
148. L. 25. scheme upon paper—cp. "paper government," p. 224.
149. P. 100, L. 3. i.e. the people.
150. L. 9. security of ideots—the old spelling, derived from the low Latin of the law.
151. L. 23. In arbitrary Governments, &c.... Both the Law and the Magistrates are the creatures of Will. All legislative power is in the strict sense arbitrary. "If it be objected that I am a defender of arbitrary powers, I confess I cannot comprehend how any society can be established or subsist without them; for the establishment of government is an arbitrary act, wholly depending on the will of men.... Magna Charta, which comprehends our antient laws, and all the subsequent statutes, were not sent from heaven, but made according to the will of men.... The difference between good and ill governments is not, that those of one sort have an arbitrary power which the others have not: for they all have it: but that those that are well constituted, place this power so as it may be beneficial to the people, and set such rules as are hardly to be transgressed, &c." Sidney, ch. iii. s. 45.
152. L. 27. every sort of government, &c. Cp. the principle of Montesquieu, that legislation should be relative to the principle as well as to the organisation of each Government. Raleigh, in his Maxims of State, has a remark very similar to that of Burke.
153. L. 30. free Commonwealth. Burke boldly points out the real character of the English constitution, and shows that the only alternative is a government practically arbitrary.
154. P. 101, L. 1. The popular election of magistrates, &c. The analogy of England with a republic like that of ancient Rome is firmly traced.
155. L. 6. did not admit of such an actual election, &c. Burke's observations on this point are confirmed by a comparison of the democratic institutions which have been set up in different parts of the world, since they were penned, with the English political system. On the weakness of looking more to the form than to the working of an institution, cp. Aristotle, Pol., Book v.
156. L. 20. the King with the controul of his negative. "The circumstance that in England the royal veto has practically not been exercised for a century and a half, whilst the President of the United States (Tyler) has lately made frequent and energetic use of it, is often adduced as a proof of the powerlessness of the British Crown, whereas it is really of itself a great proof of the advancement of the English Constitution, and its wealth in preventive remedies (Vorbeugungsmitteln)." Dahlmann, Politik, Th. 1. cap. 5. Cp. vol. ii.: "All the struggle, all the dissension, arose afterwards upon the preference of a despotic democracy to a government of reciprocal controul. The triumph of a victorious party was over the principles of a British constitution."
157. P. 102, L. 1. Every good political institution, &c. The practical doctrines of the
158. L. 8. Before men are put forward, &c. England indeed now possesses a far greater security for the excellence of her chief ruler than any other country has ever had. He must be chosen, as it were, by a triple election. A constituency must return him, public opinion and Parliament must accept him as a leader, and the Sovereign must send for him.
159. L. 19. that man, &c. The allusion is to "independent" politicians like Lord Shelburne.
160. L. 29. Those knots or cabals, &c. The allusion is to the Bedford Whigs.
161. P. 103, L. 7. Whatever be the road to power, &c. A favourite image with Burke. Cp. infra, p. 220. "Men will not look to Acts of Parliament, to regulations, to declarations, to votes, and resolutions. No, they are not such fools. They will ask, what is the road to power, credit, wealth, and honour," &c. Speech on East India Bill.
162. L. 13. operation of pure virtue. The cant of the "Patriot King."
163. L. 16. Cunning men, &c. Burke states at length the case which he intends to refute.
164. L. 34. opinion of the meer vulgar is a miserable rule. Cp. p. 71, "ignorance and levity of the vulgar." It has been reserved for our own generation to put forth the monstrous paradox of the inherent wisdom of the mass of a people. The political philosophers of the period of the Commonwealth knew nothing of it. See Milton, and Baxter's Holy Commonwealth. chap. viii. Dryden is hardly more severe, Absalom and Achitophel;
Whom kings no titles gave, and God no grace.
165. P. 104, L. 4. public opinion.... collected with great difficulty. The chief source was the city of London, where George III encountered the most uncompromising resistance on the Wilkes question and others. It was owing to this limitation of area that productions like the letters of Junius appeared to have so enormous an influence on public opinion. Johnson speaks of this author as working on "the cits of London and the boors of Middlesex." Owing to well-known circumstances the opinions of the city of London no longer possess this peculiar significance.
166. L. 24. It is a fallacy, &c. Remark the ease with which Burke mounts from a particular case to the widest general principles, and the strength of thought which in this process never lets go the special consideration. In this, as well as in the way of framing and applying his general principles, he resembles Aristotle.
To clear the vile, and spot the innocent.
—Crabbe, "The Maid's Story."
168. P. 105, L. 9. a cloud no bigger than an hand. 1 Kings xviii. 44.
169. L. 11. no lines can be laid down, &c. The student of Aristotle will be struck with the frequency with which the inestimable axioms of the Greek politician are employed, in an enriched form, by Burke. Not only is this true of detached sayings, but the Aristotelian political method was constantly present to him as a whole. Compare the following: "Nothing universal can be rationally affirmed on any moral or any political subject. Pure metaphysical abstraction does not belong to these matters. The lines of morality are not like ideal lines of mathematicks. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit of exceptions; they demand modifications. These exceptions and modifications are not made by the process of logick, but by the rules of prudence. Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the standard of them all. Metaphysicks cannot live without definition; but prudence is careful how she defines." Appeal from New to Old Whigs. "The state of civil society is a state of nature. Man is by nature reasonable. Art is man's nature. (Dahlmann commences his Politik with this aphorism.) Men qualified in the manner I have just described, form in nature as she operates on the common modification of society, the leading, guiding, and governing part. It is the soul to the body, without which the man does not exist." Doctrine of Natural Aristocracy, ib. "The vice of the ancient democracies, and one cause of their ruin was, that they ruled as you do, by occasional decrees, psephismata." Vol. ii. p. 319. "But as human affairs and human actions are not of a metaphysical nature, but the subject is concrete, complex, and moral, they cannot be subjected (without exceptions which reduce it almost to nothing) to any certain rule." Report of Committee on Lords' Journals. "Civil freedom is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade you, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abtruse science. It is a blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just reasoning that can be upon it is of so coarse a texture as perfectly to suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy, and of those who are to defend it, &c." Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol. See also infra, p. 254, &c., the Second Letter on a Regicide Peace, and many other of Burke's writings.
170. L. 13. though no man can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night, &c.
A thousand ways, is there no black or white?
—Pope, Essay on Man, il.
These lines are quoted by Burke in the "Sublime and Beautiful," and often alluded to in his later works.
—Dryden, Astraea Redux.
And, as by stealth, with so much softness blend,
'Tis hard to say, where they begin, or end.
—Churchill, Gotham, Book ii.
"The principles of right and wrong so intermix in centuries of human dealing, as to become inseparable, like light and shade: but does it follow that there is no such thing as light or shade; no such thing as right or wrong?" Grattan, Speech against the Union, Feb. 5, 1800.
171. L. 23. those who advise him may have an interest in disorder and confusion. "The interest of the present Royal family was to succeed without opposition and risque, and to come to the throne in a calm. It was the interest of a faction that they should come to it in a storm." Bolingbroke, Letter on the State of Parties at the Accession of George I.
172. P. 106, L. 10. a peculiar venom and malignity, &c. It might be said that Burke here pushes his point too far. The student should read the criticism of H. Walpole, Mem. Geo. III, vol. iv. pp. 129-147.
173. L. 15. system unfavourable to freedom. The allusion is to France.
174. L. 29. energy of a Monarchy that is absolute. "Le gouvernement monarchique a un grand avantage sur le républicain; les affaires étant menées par un seul, il y a plus de promptitude dans l'exécution." Montesquieu, Esp. des Lois, v. 10.
175. L. 33. war is a situation, &c. "Peace at any price" has generally been the maxim of a weak ministry.
176. P. 107, L. 5. pious fear... such a fear, being the tender sensation of virtue: cp. p. 195, "Timidity, with regard to the well-being of our country, is heroic virtue." Burke speaks elsewhere of "the fortitude of rational fear."
177. L. 9. keeps danger at a distance, &c.
Began his state with vigour to reform,
And made a calm by laughing at the storm.
—Crabbe "The Widow."
178. L. 15. the conquest of Corsica. Corsica had groaned in vain from century to century under the Republican tyranny of Genoa, patronised by France. Her last struggle was begun in 1755 under Pascal Paoli, and was advancing towards victory, when the proclamation of George III, in 1762, prohibited British subjects from rendering any assistance to the Rebels of Corsica. (The Mediterranean fleet had in former times given effectual help to the insurgents, having recovered from the Genoese, in 1745, the forts of St. Fiorenzo and Bastia.) This proclamation was a terrible blow to the Corsicans, and probably emboldened France to conclude the subsequent treaty with Genoa, by which the progress of the Corsican general was arrested in the midst of his victories. England was in a position to have
179. L. 16. professed enemies of the freedom of mankind. The spirit of liberty which existed in France was unsuspected. "Il faut avouer que vos François sont un peuple bien servile, bien vendu à la tyrannie, bien cruel, et bien acharni sur les malheureux. S'ils savoient un homme libre à l'autre bout du monde, je crois qu'ils y iroient pour le seul plaisir de l'exterminer." Rousseau, Letter to M. de Leyre on the occasion of the Treaty of France and Genoa. Contemporary literature teems with allusions to the French people as the veriest slaves in the world.
180. L. 22. Ransom of Manilla... East India prisoners. Manilla was taken October 6, 1762, by General Draper and Admiral Cornish, and the enemy escaped with life, property, and liberty, on promising to pay a ransom of a million sterling. The East India prisoners were the garrison of Pondicherry, to the number of 1400 Europeans. See Ann. Reg. 1761, p. 56.
181. L. 30. vinedresser. Meaning "statesman."
182. P. 108, L. 2. Foreign Courts and Ministers, &c. "A letter from the Russian Minister to his Court was intercepted, urging his mistress not to conclude too hastily with Ministers, who could not maintain their ground. This the King denied, and assured Lord Rockingham that they had his confidence—having at that very moment determined on their speedy overthrow." Phillimore's Hist. of Geo. III, vol. i. p. 558. The belief in the still prevailing influence of Lord Bute, widely spread in England, was universally entertained on the Continent. Chatham was possessed of it till his dying day. The rumour of bribery on the occasion of the peace of 1762 probably gave other courts the cue for future transactions.
183. L. 25. Lord Shelburne... is obliged to give up the seals. Burke's hint that Lord Shelburne's removal was a penalty for the warmth of his remonstrances to the French court on the subject of Corsica, is disproved by the Duke of Grafton's MSS., and by other contemporary documents. See Lord Stanhope's Hist. of England, vol. v. p. 307.
184. P. 109, L. 21. Therefore they turn their eyes, &c. The Colonists rather attributed the encroaching policy of the government to the spirit of the majority of the nation.
185. L. 27. not even friendly in their new independence. The use of such terms in 1770 was truly prophetic.
186. P. 110, L. 4. The Court Party resolve the whole into faction. See the letters of Sir W. Draper to Junius. The cry of "faction!" was common from the Revolution until the Reform of Parliament. "In all political disputes the
187. L. 15. not the name of the roast beef of Old England—alluding to the famous song in Fielding's "Grub-street Opera," Act iii. sc. 3.
188. L. 26. season of fullness which opened our troubles in the time of Charles I.
Purge the imposthum'd humours of a Peace,
Which oft else makes good government decrease.
—Lord Brooke, Treat. of Monarchie, sect. xii.
Sir W. Temple, in his Memoirs, p. 31, describes the yeomanry and lower gentry as in possession of the great bulk of the land, with "their Hearts high by ease and plenty." The gloomy picture here painted by Burke is in his most striking style. In the words of Churchill,
The colours boldly glow, not idly glare.
Macaulay compares this juncture with the lethargy which preceded in England the struggles of the Reformation. Burke in 1796 describes the English nation as "full even to plethory." Letters on Regicide Peace, No. I.
189. L. 35. look upon this distracted scene, &c. Cp. Goldsmith, Traveller:
Represt ambition struggles round her shore,
Till, over-wrought, the general system feels
Its motions stop, or phrenzy fire the wheels.
190. P. 111, L. 7. the voice of law is not to be heard ... it is the sword that governs. "Inter arma leges silent." Cic. Pro. Milone. Cp. Bacon, Apophth. 235, and vol. ii. p. 118, l. 11.
191. L. 11. perishes by the assistance, &c. The case of the Britons and the Saxons, among many others, will occur to the student.
192. L. 17. a procedure which at once. Burke, like Swift, uses the term in the same comprehensive sense as in French.
193. L. 22. protecting from the severity, &c. The allusion is to the pardon of the convicted rioters at the Middlesex election.
194. P. 112, L. 6. made a prisoner in his closet. The common phrase. See note to p. 89, l. 28. The words put into the mouth of the monarch by Peter Pindar, twenty years afterwards (Ode to Burke), are substantially the language of his own letters at this time:
"Burke, Burke, I'm glad, I'm glad you ran away;
Rope, rope me, like a horse, an ass, a mule—
196. P. 113, L. 1. with a mean and mechanical rule. "A parcel of mean, mechanical book-keepers." Speech on Impeachment of Hastings. "Vulgar and mechanical politicians." Infra, p. 288.
197. L. 18. The whole is certainly not much short of a million annually. In Almon's Parliamentary Register, 1777, vol. vii. p. 57, it is set down at 1,400,000l. per annum, including, however, items not mentioned by Burke. This is probably an exaggerated estimate. The general accuracy of Burke is witnessed by the following addition of the items here mentioned, estimated from later authorities, which comes exactly to a million. See Sir J. Sinclair's History of the Public Revenue, Third Edition, vol. ii. p. 81:
198. L. 23. the Bishoprick of Osnabrug. The infant Prince Frederick had been already made Bishop of Osnabrück. "The King, after keeping the bishoprick of Osnaburgh open near three years... bestowed it on his son, a new-born child, before it was christened... Of the revenue, which is about 25,000l. a year, only 2,000l belong to the Bishop till he is eighteen, and the rest is divided among the Popish chapter." Walpole, Mem. Geo. III, vol. i. p. 320. It is hardly necessary to add that the bishoprick was merely titular. Oct. 27, 1784, "His royal highness prince Frederick, Bishop of Osnaburgh, was gazetted colonel of the Coldstream Guards, vice the Earl of Waldegrave, and to be a lieutenant-general in the army."
199. P. 114, L. 1. drawn away for the support of that Court Faction. Burke writes as if there had been no such thing as Secret Service money in the days of Walpole. In the time of George II the debts of the Civil List had been paid without much scruple on the part of Parliament on this account. The introduction of the question of the foreign revenue is not happy.
200. L. 24. expose him to a thousand contradictions and mortifications. On the alleged outrageous behaviour of the Duke of Bedford to the King in 1765 ("repeatedly gave him the lie, and left him in convulsions," Junius, Letter xxiii, note) see the remarks of Lord Russell, Bedford Correspondence,
201. L. 30. language of the Court but a few years ago, concerning most of the persons now in the external Administration—consisting as it did mainly of Whigs, with a small remnant of the original Bute party.
202. L. 33. keener instrument of mortification. Burke justly credits the King with acute feelings on this subject. It is difficult however to see that he would have been less mortified by being in the hands of one body of Whig noblemen than of another. Still, the present difference between the Whig veterans Bedford, Temple, &c., and the youthful Lord Rockingham, who had held a post in the Bedchamber, was considerable.
203. P. 115, L. 7. certain condescensions towards individuals. The allusion seems to be to the seat at the Privy Council, and the lucrative contract, bestowed on Lord Mayor Harley for his activity and spirit during the Metropolitan riots of May 1768. See Walpole's Memoirs, vol. iii. pp. 207, 210, and Letter to Mann, May 12, 1768.
204. L. 29. this refined project—this fine-wrought scheme. "Refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion." Speech on Conciliation with America, p. 226. The spirit of la fine politique, of the School of Mazarin, was not likely to work well in England. Swift says, "I have frequently observed more causes of discontent arise from the practice of some refined Ministers, to act in common business out of the common road, than from all the usual topicks of displeasure against men in power."
205. P. 116, L. 9. Have they not beggared his Exchequer, &c. Burke sums up the conclusions of the previous pages.
206. L. 13. It will be very hard, I believe, &c. Burke throughout these pages uses the arguments employed by Swift, fifty years before, against the Whigs. After recalling the cases of Gaveston and the Spencers, Swift proceeds: "However, in the case of minions it must at least be acknowledged that the prince is pleased and happy, though his subjects be aggrieved; and he has the plea of friendship to excuse him, which is a disposition of generous minds. Besides, a wise minion, though he be haughty to others, is humble and insinuating to his master, and cultivates his favour by obedience and respect. But our misfortune has been a great deal worse; we have suffered for some years under the oppression, the avarice, and insolence of those for whom the queen had neither esteem nor friendship: who rather seem to snatch their own dues than receive the favour of their sovereign; and were so far from returning respect, that they forgot common good manners" (cp. p. 114). The Examiner, No. 30.
208. L. 18. partakers of his amusements. An allusion to the origin of Lord Bute's influence with Frederick Prince of Wales.
209. L. 22. these King's friends... May no storm ever come, &c. Burke's rhetoric seems wasted when we learn that the number of King's Friends who held paid offices, all subordinate, did not at any time exceed a dozen, and that not more than thirty could at this time be counted in the House of Commons. That all ministers could be thwarted upon system by the instrumentality of a body in every way so insignificant, is incredible. But the name of King's Friends was also applied to a large number of loyal and independent peers and commoners, who certainly had never "deceived" the King's "benignity, into offices, pensions and grants"; men like Lord Dudley, "without a thought or wish of office for themselves, but who loved and revered the Crown with all their heart," &c. (Lord Stanhope, History of England, vol. v. p. 179), devoted to courts and ministers, but wholly indifferent to the favours that they had to bestow (p. 181). Such men formed much of the strength of the administrations of George III. The great question of the American War swelled the body of King's Friends in the House under the leading of Jenkinson and Rigby, the successors of Bradshaw (the "cream-coloured parasite") and Jeremiah or Mungo Dyson, who were supposed to head them in earlier days. With the termination of the American War they seemed to become extinct; but after Pitt's victory over the Coalition, and the New Parliament of 1784, were again found all over the House. The rendezvous of the party at this time seems to have been the Pay-office, where Rigby was wont to entertain them after the House adjourned. The sentiments of the party were thus embodied by Lord Barrington: "The King has long known that I am entirely devoted to him: having no political connexion with any man, being determined never to form one, and conceiving that in this age the country and its constitution are best served by an unbiassed attachment to the Crown." Foster's Life of Goldsmith, vol. ii. p. 90. Pope thus describes the "King's friends" of his time:
Extracts his brain; and principle is fled;
Lost is his God, his country, everything;
And nothing left but homage to a King.
—Dunciad, iv. 521.
211. L. 34. So far I have considered, &c. The remainder of the pamphlet consists of an examination of the effects of the Royal policy on Parliament, and a spirited defence of the old Party System which that policy discountenanced. It appears strange that a politician who held these popular views on the nature of Parliament, and who saw so clearly that it had become hopelessly corrupt, should have opposed Parliamentary Reform. But Burke had from the beginning of his political career a theory of Reform, which was likely to commend itself to few practical politicians, viz. "by lessening the number, to add to the weight and independency, of our voters." Observations on Present State of Nation, 1769. "Every honest man," wrote Coleridge in 1795, "must wish that the lesser number of the House of Commons were elected as the majority (or actual legislative power), that is, by the 162 Peers, Gentlemen, and Treasury." The system on its old footing Burke did not regard as incurable, although in this pamphlet he expressed fears that symptoms of an incorrigible decay had appeared (p. 119). He fortified himself in this position by appealing to the widely different proposals of statesmen holding the same general views with himself. The Duke of Richmond and Sir George Savile were both members of the Rockingham party. The Duke was in favour of annual Parliaments, of universal suffrage at the age of eighteen, and of sweeping away at one stroke the privileges of every citizen, burgess, and freeholder, throughout the kingdom. This wild project, when embodied in a Bill, brought in at a most inopportune juncture (June 3, 1780), was negatived without a division. Savile, following the favourite idea of Lord Chatham, was for doubling the power of the freeholders, to swamp the corruption of the towns. "If I am asked," writes Burke, "who the Duke of Richmond and Sir George Savile are, I must fairly say that I look upon them to be the first men of their age and their country; and that I do not know men of more parts, or of more honour." Correspondence, ii. 386. When such men were advocates for opposite and sweeping measures, Burke deemed it his duty to throw all his weight into the Conservative scale. Reasonably, indeed, may a statesman revolt from change, on the ground of the partial, the ineffectual, and the contradictory methods, which may have been proposed for effecting it.
212. P. 117, L. 11. In speaking of this body... I hope I shall be indulged in a few observations. The expression reminds us of a speech. Burke, like Bolingbroke, carried with him into the closet the manner of the senate; most of his political writings are oratorical dissertations.
213. L. 20. in the higher part of Government what juries are in the lower. By this bold analogy Burke gives the key to the original parliamentary system. As each man was judged by his peers, so was each man to be taxed and legislated for by his peers. So Erskine: "The jury I regard as the Commons' House of the judicial system, as affording a safeguard to the people, &c." Speech on the Bill entitled, An Act to remove Doubts respecting the Functions of Juries, &c. And cp. Burke's Review of Blackstone,
214. P. 118, L. 10. The King is the representative of the people; so are the Lords; so are the Judges. They all are trustees for the people, as well as the Commons. Cp. the beautiful expression of Bolingbroke, Patriot King, p. 94, "Majesty is not an inherent, but a reflected light." Burke almost repeats the passionate words of John Adams in New England, in September 1765. "Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees for the people: and if the trust is insidiously betrayed," &c. Bancroft, History of the United States, v. 325. Cp. the same arguments applied to commercial privileges and "self-derived trusts" in the opening of the Speech on the East-India Bill. Cp. p. 254, "the general trust of government," and vol. ii. p. 188. l. 31. "The Whigs, who consider them (the prerogatives of the Crown) as a trust for the people, a doctrine which the Tories themselves, when pushed in argument, will sometimes admit," &c. Fox, Hist. of James II, c. 1.
215. L. 20. express image, Hebrews i. 3.
216. L. 23. control for the people. The doctrine is not confined to the old Whiggism. "The House of Commons is properly speaking no more than a Court of Delegates, appointed and commissioned by the whole diffused body of the people of Great Britain to speak in their sense, and act in their name, in order to secure their rights and privileges against all incroachments of ill-disposed princes, rapacious ministers, or aspiring nobles." The Craftsman, No. 56.
217. L. 28. miserably appointed, i.e. furnished.
218. L. 35. But an addressing House, &c. "We may say, and cannot say it too often, that if the only road to honour and power is the mere personal favour of the sovereign, then that those men alone will be found from time to time possessed of honour and power who are favourable to the maxims of prerogative—to the principles of harsh government; who are very indulgent critics of the measures of ministers; who are very careless auditors of the public expense; who are not made very uneasy by sinecures, jobs, and pensions; who are not very ready to try or punish public defaulters, unless they be indeed the writers of libels; who are in a word always unwilling to assist, or rather who are always willing to impede in its operations, the democratic part of our mixed constitution." Professor Smyth, Lectures on Modern History, Lect. xxx.
219. P. 119, L. 1. a petitioning nation. It is but fair to commend the reader to Johnson's amusing description of the origin and progress of these Petitions, in The False Alarm, Works, vol. x. 25. The system of petitioning has, since the Reform Bill, lost most of its significance. At this time it was of considerable constitutional importance. "This unrestricted right of overawing the oligarchy of Parliament by constitutional expression of the general will, forms our liberty: it is the sole boundary that divides us from despotism.... By the almost winged communication of the Press, the whole nation
220. L. 6. to grant, when the general voice demands account—referring to the payment of the debts of the Civil List. Erskine quoted the whole of this eloquent passage in his Speech for Reform ("Sir, this is, in plain English, the degraded, disgraceful state of this assembly at this moment") 1797.
222. L. 3. a septennial instead of a triennial duration. "The enormous duration of seventeen years during which Charles II protracted his second Parliament, turned the thoughts of all who desired improvement in the constitution towards some limitation on a prerogative which had not hitherto been thus abused." Hallam, Constitutional History, chap. xv. Three years were at first deemed a sufficient limitation, without recurring to the ancient but inconvenient system of annual Parliaments. The substitution of septennial for triennial Parliaments, so frequently censured in later times, was based on the prevalent disaffection, and the general danger of the government in the early years of George I. "Nothing," says Mr. Hallam, "can be more extravagant, than what is sometimes confidently bolted out by the ignorant, that the Legislature exceeded its rights by this enactment.... The law for triennial Parliaments was of little more than twenty years' continuance. It was an experiment, which, as was argued, had proved unsuccessful; it was subject, like every other law, to be repealed entirely, or to be modified at discretion." Ib. chap. xvi.
223. L. 33. Impeachment, that great guardian of the purity of the Constitution, &c. Cp. Grattan, Dedic. of Baratariana. The liberty of impeaching ministers is the necessary corollary of the theorem that the King can do no wrong. See Bolingbroke, Dedication to Dissertation on Parties. But the practice of impeachment, which had been common from the reign of Edward III to the Revolution, naturally declined with the growth of the system of government by Party. A certain spirit of generosity sprang up between party and party, based, however, on the obvious business-principle of sparing the conquered on the understanding that you were entitled to similar mercy in return. Burke knew this well enough, but he wished to represent the ministry as a constitutional monster, waging a wicked war against all lawful parties. Cp. "the terrours of the House of Commons," &c., infra, p. 134, and p. 172, "These might have been serious matters formerly." On a subsequent occasion he spoke yet more menacingly. "There must be blood, I say
224. P. 121, L. 26. an hardy attempt all at once, to alter the right of election itself, in seating Luttrell a member for Middlesex in the place of Wilkes. Wilkes was duly elected in 1768, expelled February 3, 1769, "for having printed and published a seditious libel, and three obscene and impious libels"; elected a second time, February 16; election resolved to be void, February 17; elected a third time, March 16, when the intended opponent retired before the nomination; and a fourth time, April 13, on the election of March being declared void, and a new writ ordered. Colonel Luttrell had in the meantime been induced to vacate his seat and stand; he obtained 296 votes: Wilkes, who received 1143, was returned by the Sheriff. The House, on April 15, declared Luttrell lawfully elected. These unconstitutional votes were afterwards rescinded, and ordered to be expunged from the Journals of the House.
225. L. 35. The arguments upon which this claim was founded and combated. "If a few precedents, and those not before the year 1680, were to determine all controversies of Constitutional law, it is plain enough from the Journals, that the House have assumed the power of incapacitation. But as such an authority is highly dangerous, and unnecessary for any good purpose, and as, according to legal rules, so extraordinary a power could not be supported except by a sort of prescription which cannot be shown, the final resolution of the House of Commons, which condemned the votes, passed in times of great excitement, appears far more consonant to just principles." Hallam, Constitutional History, chap. xvi. "When we see this power so seldom exercised in old times, so grossly abused when it was, and so entirely abandoned since, we cannot but conclude that usage disclaims the power as much as reason protests against it, and that it does not exist in our constitution." Annual Register, 1769.
226. P. 122, L. 1. Never has a subject been more amply and more learnedly handled. See the Speech of George Grenville, February 3, 1769, Parliamentary History, xvi. 546; Burke's own summary in the Annual Register, 1769, and the masterly pamphlet An Enquiry into the Doctrine of Libels.
227. L. 4. would not receive conviction though one arose, &c. Luke xvi. 31.
228. L. 11. by setting himself strongly in opposition to the Court Cabal. Burke might have said, by assailing it with every weapon of calumny and ribaldry. The forcible feebleness of the North Briton is hardly redeemed by its occasional smartness. It derived its effect from a spirit in artful consilience with popular prejudice, and a blunt language, checkered with Billingsgate. Its circulation was enormous, being rivalled only, among works of that class, by the writings of Junius and Paine.
229. P. 123, L. 30. It signifies very little how this matter, &c. This paragraph should be noticed as a conspicuous example of Burke's method. He begins by an axiom parenthetically introduced. He goes on to put the case in the
231. P. 124, L. 17. temperaments. In the French sense = restraints. "Il n'y a point de tempérament, de modification, d'accommodements." Montesquieu. "On prend des tempéraments, on s'arrange," &c., Ibid. Cp. p. 264, l. 8.
232. L. 21. So the Star Chamber has been called by Lord Bacon—who, of course, highly approves of it. History of Henry VII: "And as the Chancery had the praetorian power for equity; so the Star Chamber had the censorian power for offences under the degree of capital." The incorrect expression "Lord Bacon," justified only by the usage of lawyers (so "Lord Coke," "Lord Hale") has now become quasi-classical from common use since its adoption by Swift and Bolingbroke. Properly it should be "[Sir] Francis Bacon," "Lord Verulam," or "St. Albans," or "Lord Chancellor Bacon." Our classical writers down to Addison never use the expression "Lord Bacon."
233. L. 22. all the evils of the Star Chamber. In the remarkable passage in which public opinion is recognised as the "vehicle and organ of legislative omnipotence," as the power to which it is the duty of the legislature to give "a direction, a form, a technical dress, a specific sanction" (Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol), the revival of the Star Chamber is introduced as an example of things which a legislative power, still remaining the same, would be powerless to effect, and insane to attempt.
234. L. 27. Committee of Council. The Star Chamber.
236. L. 13. To ruin one libeller. "The destruction of one man has been, for many years, the sole object of your Government." Junius, December 19, 1769. Chatham used to say that in his time, the object was the destruction of France; now, it was the destruction of Wilkes.
237. L. 18. The identical persons, who by their society, &c., have drawn this man into the very faults, &c. Wilkes had, in other days, been the intimate associate of Dashwood (Bute's Chancellor of the Exchequer), and a member of his infamous Medmenham Club. It was one of their associates, Lord
238. L. 23. foedum crimen servitutis. Tacitus, Hist. i. 1.
239. L. 32. his unconquerable firmness, &c. The virtues of Wilkes are freely acknowledged by Burke. He possessed more than the show of patriotism. He was the first to treat the King's Speech publicly as the work of his ministers. He contributed not a little to make an Englishman's home really his castle, by making his papers inviolable in all cases except high treason. He was less than a great man, but was honourably distinguished by characteristics which have been wanting to many great men; he could face exile and penury, despise a jail, and resist corruption. See the Annual Register, 1797.
240. P. 126, L. 10. how he adventures: Fr. s'aventurer. More correct than the modern word "venture."
241. L. 11. Breves et infaustos populi Romani amores. Tacitus, Ann., lib. ii. c. 41.
242. L. 29. Mayors and Aldermen, and Capital Burgesses. Burke had an undisguised contempt for the rotten system which in his Whiggish Conservatism, he supported. "Intrusion into this important debate, of such company as quo warranto, and mandamus, and certiorari; as if we were on a trial about mayors, and aldermen, and capital burgesses; or engaged in a suit concerning the borough of Penryn, or Saltash, or St. Ives, or St. Mawes... matter of the lowest and meanest litigation." Speech on East India Bill, ad init.
243. L. 32. indemnity from quarters, i.e. from having soldiers quartered on inhabitants of his borough.
244. P. 127, L. 11. wise and knowing men. In the old classical sense = intelligent. So in Speech on Econ. Reform; "The inexperienced instruct the knowing." Now only used ironically.
245. L. 13. without the eclat. Dr. Johnson considers this word "not English."
246. L. 29. unless they are controuled themselves by their constituents. Burke's words are applicable enough now that there is a fair approximation to a genuine representation of the nation: but misleading in connexion with a House of Commons of which three-fourths were returned by themselves, the Peers and the Government. (Bentham's Works, vol. iii. p. 530.) "The people at large exercise no sovereignty either personally or by representation," &c. Coleridge, Plot Discovered, p. 39.
247. P. 128, L. 21. We do not make laws... We only declare law, &c. Cp. Bacon, Ess. of Judicature, ad init. The distinction between a legislative and a juridical act was thus traced by Burke, in a subsequent speech on this subject: "A legislative act has no reference to any rule but these two;
248. P. 129, L. 15. Titius, Maevius, John Doe, Richard Roe. The fictitious parties to actions in Roman and English law respectively.
249. L. 26. made as strained constructions. Alluding to the methods of barring entails by levying a fine and suffering a recovery, abolished by 3 & 4 Will. IV, c. 74.
250. L. 34. Statute of Westminster—the Second, 13 Edw. I, c. 1.
251. P. 132, L. 4. payment of the debts of Civil List... 513,000l. The actual sum was 513,511l. (See Parliamentary History, xvi. 598.) The Civil List "includes all the civil offices and expenses of Government, and those, whether public or private, which are supposed necessary for the support and dignity of the court: except on extraordinary occasions, as the marriage of a princess, or the establishment of households for the younger branches of the family: when, in either case, the Parliament usually allots a suitable portion for the one, and a sufficient revenue for the support of the other." Burke, Annual Register, 1769. On an allusion made by Col. Barré, to a similar occasion in the reign of George I on which the King promised "to make enquiry how the exceedings came, and to remedy them for the future," Lord North, sure of his majority, coolly told the House he should make no such promise, as he was not sure that he could keep it. As Mr. Grenville and Mr. Dowdeswell concurred in demanding accounts, it is obvious that the existing ministry alone were responsible for this increase of expenditure. Lord North fulfilled his anticipation. On April 16, 1777, a second sum of 620,000l. was voted to pay off Civil List debts, and an addition of 100,000l. per annum was made to the income of the crown. This occasioned violent debates in Parliament, and general dissatisfaction throughout the country, which led to Burke's Scheme of Economical Reform, introduced in one of his greatest speeches, February 11, 1780.
252. P. 134, L. 21. No man ever pays first, and calls for his account afterwards. "Why, you great blockhead, was ever man so foolish? What, pay the debts first, and see the bills afterwards? did ever man in his senses do so before? Why you are not fit to be sent to London at all, &c. &c." Sir G. Savile's Speech, March 2, 1769.
253. P. 135, L. 25. god in the machine. (Deus ex machinâ.) A well-known allusion borrowed from the Greek drama.
254. P. 136, L. 10. navy or exchequer bills. Securities issued for raising money for
255. P. 137, L. 4. all manner of dissipation = waste.
256. L. 24. the Sinking Fund the great buttress of all the rest. A favourite image. Compare p. 174, "clumsy buttresses of arbitrary power."
257. L. 31. prolific principle. Burke generally insisted on the tendency of bad examples to propagate themselves. "Your people were despoiled; and your navy, by a new, dangerous, and prolific example, corrupted with the plunder of their countrymen." Address to the King.
258. L. 32. the fruitful mother of an hundred more. The inscription on a bag, containing a hundred pounds, represented under the arm of the figure, in the picture of Hobson the carrier (see Milton) at an inn frequented by him in Bishopsgate-street. See the letter of Hezekiah Thrift in the No. 509 of the Spectator.
259. P. 138, L. 13. land-marks from the wisdom of our ancestors. Cp. p. 252. "All this cant about our ancestors is merely an abuse of words, by transferring phrases true of contemporary men to succeeding ages. Whereas of living men the oldest has, caeteris paribus, the most experience; of generations, the oldest has, caeteris paribus, the least experience. Our ancestors, up to the Conquest, were children in arms; chubby boys, in the time of Edward the First; striplings, under Elizabeth; men, in the reign of Queen Anne; and we only are the white-bearded, silver-headed ancients,—who have treasured up and are prepared to profit by, all the experience which human life can supply." Sydney Smith, Review of Bentham's Book of Fallacies, Edinburgh Review, vol. xlii. p. 368. This amplification of Bacon's witty remark ("These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient," Advancement of Learning, Book I), is directed rather against the abuse of this question-begging phrase (whether from policy, as by Lord Eldon, or from timidity and ignorance as by "agricolous persons in the Commons") than against the legitimate use so often made of it by Burke. Burke speaks thoroughly in the spirit of Bacon. "Antiquity deserveth that reverence," says the latter, "that men should make a stand thereupon, and discover what is the best way; but when the discovery is well taken, then to make progression." Burke "makes what the ancients call mos majorum, not indeed the sole, but certainly his principal rule of policy, to guide his judgment in whatever regards our laws. Uniformity and analogy can be preserved in them by this process only. That point being fixed, and laying fast hold of a strong bottom, our speculations may swing in all directions, without public detriment, because they will ride with sure anchorage." (Appeal from New to Old Whigs.) Modern philosophy identifies a recurrence to the wisdom of our forefathers with the custom of some savages, who solemnly go to weep at the tombs of their ancestors and invoke their direction in the affairs of daily life.
260. L. 26. to shorten the duration of Parliaments. The demands of the democratic party, embodied in the annual motions of Alderman Sawbridge (commenced in 1771) for shortening the duration of Parliaments, were based on
261. L. 27. to disqualify... placemen, from a seat in the House of Commons. The expedient of multiplying offices, invented for the control of Parliament by William III, was from the first viewed with suspicion by the country party. In 1693 the first place-bill was introduced, and the principle at one time became law that no placeman or pensioner should sit in the House of Commons. This too stringent provision was repealed before it came into operation. An important Place Act provides that every holder of a new office, created after October 25, 1705, and every holder of a crown pension during pleasure, shall be excluded from Parliament, and that every member of the House, accepting any old office, shall vacate his seat, but be capable of re-election. The Act of 1742 limited still further the extent of Place influence. To carry out strictly the theory of a Place Bill would of course bring Parliament into hopeless conflict with the executive; but the following list will show that it has been the steady policy of Parliament to diminish the number of Placemen and Pensioners belonging to it:
264. L. 32. disqualification... of all the lower sorts of them from votes in elections. A bill for this purpose, which had hitherto been an opposition measure, was finally carried by the Rockingham ministry in 1782. "Its imperative necessity was proved by Lord Rockingham himself, who stated that seventy elections chiefly depended on the votes of these officers: and that 11,500 officers of customs and excise were electors. In one borough, he said that 120 out of the 500 voters had obtained revenue appointments, through the influence of a single person." Sir T. E. May, i. 349.
265. P. 141, L. 9. Lat. aperio.
266. L. 20. It is no inconsiderable part of wisdom, &c. Cp. the Aristotelian caution on Reform, &epsgr;at&eacgr;on &epsgr;n&iacgr;aς &adagr;mart&iacgr;aς ka&igrgr; t&ohivrgr;n nomo&thgr;et&ohivrgr;n ka&igrgr; t&ohivrgr;n &adagr;rχ&oacgr;nt&ohgr;n˙ o&upsgr; g&agrgr;r toso&uivrgr;ton &ohpsgr;&phgr;el&eeacgr;setai kin&eeacgr;saς, &c. Pol. ii. 5. "Il ne faut pas tout corriger," Montesquieu. Dryden, Astraea Redux:
While growing pains pronounce the humours crude;
Deaf to complaints, they wait upon the ill,
Till some safe crisis authorize their skill.
267. L. 22. degree of purity impracticable, &c. Cp. p. 151, l. 2, and p. 153, l. 35.
268. L. 32. influence of contracts, of subscriptions, of direct bribery, &c. See May's Const. History, chap. v.
269. P. 142, L. 2. Our Constitution stands on a nice equipoise. An antiquated commonplace, in which sense it is alluded to ante, p. 86, l. 35; p. 88, l. 21, &c. "The true poise of our Constitution, on maintaining which our all depends." Diss. on Parties, Letter xvi. Cp. the last letters of this famous series. "That nicely-poised Constitution," Erskine, Speech on Reform.
270. L. 22. interposition of the body of the people itself... to be used then only, when it is evident that nothing else can hold the constitution to its true principles. Cp. the quotations from the speech of Sir Joseph Jekyl, in the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. And Bolingbroke, Dissertation on Parties, Letter xvii: "If you therefore put so extravagant a case, as to suppose the two houses of Parliament concurring to make at once a formal cession of their own rights and privileges, and of those of the whole nation, to the Crown, and ask who hath the right and the means to resist the supreme legislative power; I answer, the whole nation hath the right; and a people who deserve to enjoy liberty, will find the means." He goes on to put the case, in prophetic terms, of the exact conjuncture now in question; "Let us suppose our Parliaments, in some future generation, grown so corrupt,
271. L. 27. legal remedy. So Locke, who expresses the popular Whig views, is of opinion that "there remains still inherent in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them; for, when such trust is abused, it is thereby forfeited, and devolves to those who gave it." On Government, Part II, ss. 149, 227. The doctrine is not denied by Blackstone, who expounds the views of the opposite party, but he maintains that it is impossible to carry it legally into execution.
272. P. 143, L. 9. by an indiscriminate support of all Administrations. It is the interest of the public that the amount of support received by a minister should depend wholly on the efficiency and honesty with which he executes his trust. Burke's criticism is justified not only by the maxims of the Whig system to which it primarily belongs, but by the general laws of the relation between people and government. Caeteris paribus, the supporters of government have the advantage over its adversaries; and it is for the public interest that a vigorous opposition should never be wanting. "A man of no party is, nine times out of ten, a man of no party but his own. Few, very few, can comprehend the whole truth; and it much concerns the general interest that every portion of that truth should have interested and passionate advocates." Hartley Coleridge, Essays, vol. i. p. 352. "There is no true
273. L. 13. compacting. A lost verb. G. Herbert:
274. L. 19. So Shakspeare, Milton, Waller, &c. The only authority quoted by Johnson for frighten, is Prior.
275. P. 144, L. 2. rock of adamant. Paradise Regained, iv. 533. The old English proverb was "He that builds on the people builds on the dirt." (B. Jonson, Discoveries.) Shelley, perhaps directly contradicting this passage, speaks of Athens as "On the will of man as on a mount of diamond, set." (Ode to Liberty.) The trite images of sand and stubble are borrowed from St. Matt. vii. 25-27, and St. Paul 1 Cor. iii. 12. The latter occurs in Milton's lines,
And Earth's base built on stubble.
276. L. 3. its structure is of stubble. "Her (the Church of England) walls... are constructed of other materials than of stubble and straw; are built up with the strong and stable matter of the gospel of liberty," &c. Speech on a Bill for the Relief of Protestant Dissenters, 1773.
277. P. 146, L. 2. The doctrine... That all political connexions are in their nature factious—strongly insisted on in the tract of Bolingbroke. "Faction is to party what the superlative is to the positive: party is a political evil, and faction is the worst of all parties." Patriot King, p. 162. The plausible cry against Party was fortified by the professions of respectable statesmen. Lord Lechmere, says the Craftsman (No. 54, July 15, 1727), "was of no party, nor attached to any interest, but that of his country, which he constantly made the rule and measure of his actions."
278. L. 34. When bad men combine, &c. "In fatti si danno la mano i malvagi per fare il male, non avrebbero a darsi la mano i buoni per fare il bene?" Silvio Pellico, "Dei doveri degli nomini."
Press to usurp the reins of power, the more
Behoves it virtue with indignant zeal
To check the combination. Shall low views
Of sneaking interest, or luxurious vice,
The villain's passions, quicken more to toil
And dart a livelier vigour through the soul,
Than those that, mingled with our truest good,
With present honour and immortal fame,
Involve the good of all? An empty form
Is the weak virtue that amid the shade
Lamenting lies, with future schemes amused,
While wickedness and folly, kindred powers,
Confound the world.
—Thomson, Lines on Lord Talbot.
280. P. 147, L. 1. It is not enough, &c. This paragraph in particular alludes to Lord Chatham.
281. L. 9. That duty demands, &c. "Let a man have a hearty strong opinion, and strive by all fair means to bring it into action.... Divisions in a state are a necessary consequence of freedom, and the practical question is, not to dispense with party, but to make the most good of it. The contest may exist, but it may have something of generosity enough; and how is this to be? Not by the better kind of men abstaining altogether from any attention to politics, or shunning party connections altogether. Staying away from a danger which in many instances it is their duty to face would be but a poor way of keeping themselves safe. It would be a doubtful policy to encourage political indifference as a cure for the evils of party-spirit, even if it were a certain cure." Sir Arthur Helps, Essays at Intervals. Bishop Taylor, when speaking of ecclesiastical party, says: "From all this it comes to pass that it is hard for a man to chuse his side, and he that chuseth wisest takes that which hath in it least hurt, but some he must endure or live without communion." Sermon on Christian Prudence.
282. L. 10. not only be made known, &c. Cp. the Aristotelian o&upsgr; gn&ohivrgr;siς &apsgr;ll&agrgr; pr&aivrgr;xiς.
283. L. 22. I admit that people frequently acquire, &c. Cp. p. 206, l. 17.
284. L. 30. Every profession... sacred one of a priest. See the review of the clerical character, vol. ii. pp. 246, 247. Cp. also infra, p. 185, l. 26.
286. P. 148, L. 1. Burke's favourite moralist had endeavoured to show
—Pope, Ess. on Man, iv. 396.
In which the mind of narrow cast is pent,
Are only steps on which the generous soul
Mounts by degrees till she includes the whole.
288. L. 6. some legislators, &c. The allusion is to Solon. (See Plutarch's Life of Solon, and Aul. Gell. ii. 12.) Aulus Gellius quotes this law of Solon from Aristotle. The illustration is used in the same sense by Bolingbroke, Occasional Writer, No. 3 (4to. ed. vol. i. p. 180), and by Addison in the Spectator, No. 16.
289. L. 10. Idem sentire de republica. From Cic. de Amicitia, ch. x. At the end, in ch. xxvii, "consensus de republica" is again mentioned as an important element in the friendship of Laelius and Scipio. "Idem sentire de republica, to think alike about political affairs, hath been esteemed necessary to constitute and maintain private friendships. It is obviously more
290. L. 14. The Romans carried this principle a great way. Burke often alludes to the similarity between Roman and English politics. Cp. the allusion to the Claudian and Valerian families in the Letter to the Duke of Richmond, Corr. i. 382. In the panegyric on the great families, in the Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, he seems to have had the Roman families in mind.
292. L. 20. The whole people... political societies. The allusion is to the tribes and centuries, which were the constituencies of Roman politics. A separate canvass was carried on in each of them upon public questions.
293. L. 23. to endeavour by every honest means. See the tract attributed to Q. Cicero, "De Petitione Consulatus," and the remarks of Bacon, Advancement of Learning, Book II, ch. 23.
294. L. 34. plus sages que les sages. "Il sied mal de vouloir être plus sages que celles qui sont sages," Molière, La Critique de l'École des Femmes, Act i. sc. 3. Cp. Appeal from New to Old Whigs: "They (the Rockingham party) did not affect to be better Whigs than those were who lived in the days in which principle was put to the test."
295. P. 149, L. 9. a poet who was in high esteem with them. See Macaulay's Essay on the Life and Writings of Addison.
296. L. 15. Thy favourites... friendship's holy ties. From "The Campaign," near the beginning.
297. L. 18. friendships holy ties. "Let friendship's holy band some names assure." Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel.
299. L. 21. Fr. "expérimenté" = tried. Fénélon: "Les hommes les moins recueillis et les moins expérimentez."
300. L. 23. sacrifice of... connexions in private life. "Some, perhaps, may expect that the fewer and weaker men's particular attachments are, the more extensive and the stronger will be their general benevolence; but experience shows the contrary. Break off the nearest ties of affection and you weaken proportionably all that remain," &c. Powell, Sermon I.
302. L. 27. patiently bearing the sufferings of your friends. Third Letter on Reg. Peace: "In the disasters of their friends, people are seldom wanting in a laudable patience."
303. P. 150, L. 1. These wise men, &c. See the extracts from the History of the last four years of Queen Anne, published as the work of Swift, in the Ann. Reg., 1758, and the remarks on them, evidently by Burke.
304. L. 6. called an ambitious Junto, which was a term often applied to them
305. L. 9. Party is a body of men united, &c. Fox explains the principle of party union to be "that men of honour, who entertain similar principles, conceive that those principles may be more beneficially and successfully pursued by the force of mutual support, harmony, and confidential connexion." Speech on Reform, 1797. "Sir, I will tell gentlemen what description of party is beneficial; party united on public principle by the bond of certain specific public measures, which measures cannot be carried by individuals, and can only succeed by party." Grattan, Speech on Corruption by Government, February 11, 1790. "When the two parties that divide the whole Commonwealth come once to a rupture, without any hopes of forming a third on better principles to balance the others, it seems every man's duty to choose one of the two sides, though he cannot entirely approve of either: and all pretences to neutrality are justly exploded by both, being too stale and obvious, only intending the safety and ease of a few individuals, while the public is embroiled." Swift, Sentiments of a Church of England Man. Compare with the theory of Party at the end of this pamphlet, the powerful vindication of it, based on experience, at the end of the Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777. "In the way which they call party, I worship the constitution of your fathers," &c. &c.
306. L. 26. by no means, for private considerations, to accept any offers, &c. For an equally able statement of the other side of the case, the reader is recommended to Swift's Letter to a Whig Lord, 1712: "Will you declare you cannot serve your queen unless you choose her ministry? Is this forsaking your principles? But that phrase has dropped of late, and they call it forsaking your friends. To serve your queen and country, while any but they are at the helm, is to forsake your friends. This is a new party figure of speech, which I cannot comprehend."
307. P. 151, L. 2. professions incompatible with human practice... practices below the level of vulgar rectitude. "Entre nous, ce sont choses que j'ay tousjours veues de singulier accord, les opinions supercelestes, et les moeurs soubterraines." Montaigne, Ess., Liv. iii. chap. 13. "Narrow theories, so coincident with the poorest and most miserable practice." Reynolds, Discourse xiii. "He (Fox) at once set about the purchase of the House of Commons. The lowest bribe given was £200. The treasury was the scene where the traffic was carried on by his emissaries. The demands of the representatives of England were so enormous, that money was actually wanting to defray the necessary expenses of the King's household. Such was the commentary on the specious professions of purity with which the new reign was ushered in." Phillimore, Hist. Geo. III, vol. i. p. 335. Cp. Sp. on the Econ. Reform: "I do not hesitate to say, that that state, which lays its foundation in rare and heroic virtues, will be sure to have its superstructure in the basest profligacy and corruption."
308. L. 6. a plausible air... light and portable. "Disposition towards a
309. L. 8. as current as copper coin: and about as valuable. "It puts me in mind of a Birmingham button, which has passed through an hundred hands, and after all is not worth three halfpence a dozen." Speech, January 25, 1771. The illustration of "current coin" is applied to personal popularity, Correspondence, i. 108. Molière, Bourgeois Gent. Act i. sc. 2: "Ses louanges sont monnoyées—His praises are Current Coin." Works, French and English, viii. 15. Lord Brooke wished laws to be written in English, in order to prove "coyns for traffick general." Treat. of Monarchie, sect. vii. "The greatest part of these opinions, like current coin in its circulation, we are used to take without weighing or examining; but by this inevitable inattention, many adulterated pieces are received, which, when we seriously estimate our wealth, we must throw away. So the collector of popular opinions," &c. Reynolds, Discourse vii. Cp. Goldsmith, Traveller:
Or e'en imaginary worth obtains,
Here passes current; paid from hand to hand,
It shifts in splendid traffic round the land.
Bacon wished the existing systems of philosophy, which he was undermining, to be still used as "current coin." Nov. Org. I. Aph. 128.
310. L. 11. cant of "Not men but measures." "I was always for Liberty and Property, Sir," says Bristle in the Craftsman's Dialogue (No. 58, Aug. 12, 1727), "and am so still; and that I thought was a Whiggish principle; but if the parties change sides, 'tis none of my fault d'ye see. I shall always follow the Principles, whatever the Persons may be that espouse them." Brown, Thoughts on Civil Liberty, &c., p. 124. "As to my future conduct, your Lordship will pardon me if I say, 'Measures, and not men,' will be the rule of it." Lord Shelburne to Lord Rockingham, refusing to join the administration, July 11, 1765; Rockingham Memoirs, i. 235. "How vain, then, how idle, how presumptuous is the opinion, that laws can do every thing! and how weak and pernicious the maxim founded upon it, that measures, not men, are to be attended to!" Fox, Hist. of James II, ch. i; cp. Canning's Speech on the Army Estimate, December 8, 1802. "Away with the cant of measures, not men—the idle supposition that it is the harness and not the horses that draw the chariot along. No, Sir; if the comparison must be made, if the distinction must be taken; measures are comparatively nothing, men everything. I speak, Sir, of times of difficulty and danger, of times when precedents and general rules of conduct fail. Then it is that not to this or that measure, however prudently desired, however blameless in execution, but to the energy and character of individuals a state must be indebted for its salvation." On the Whig maxim of "not measures but men," see the amusing discussion in Bentham's Book of Fallacies, part iv. ch. 14. Goldsmith (1768) puts
311. L. 20. a gentleman with great visible emoluments. Most obviously applicable to General Conway, the brother of Lord Hertford. He came in as one of the Secretaries with the Rockingham party in 1765, and continued in office after their resignation under Lord Chatham, and afterwards under the Duke of Grafton, from whom in 1768 he accepted the military appointment of Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance. See the bitter allusions to him in the Speech on Taxation, p. 197, l. 32, and cp. note.
312. L. 30. Would not such a coincidence of interest and opinion, &c. Similarly argues a contemporary Whig divine: "He whose situation obliges him frequently to take a part in the public divisions, must be very fortunate if his sentiments constantly coincide with his interest; or very generous if he never pursues his interest in contradiction to his sentiments." Powell, Sermon on Public Virtue (1765).
313. P. 153, L. 2. that partiality which becomes a well-chosen friendship. The student will find the bold views of Burke on the important place of inclinations and prejudices in the philosophy of man and states more fully developed as he goes on. In this passage the peculiar happiness of the expression should be noticed. Cp. the expression of Reynolds, "Among the first moral qualities which the student ought to cultivate, is a just and manly confidence in himself," Discourse xii.
314. L. 22. either an angel or a devil. "Homo solus aut Deus aut Daemon; a man alone is either a Saint or a Devil; mens ejus aut languescit aut tumescit," &c. Burton, Anat. Mel., Part 1, Sect. 2, Mem. 2, Subs. 7. "Whoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god." Quoted by Bacon, Essay of Friendship.
315. L. 29. dispositions that are lovely. St. Paul, Phil. iv. 8.
316. L. 32. friendships... enmities... in the one, to be placable; in the other, immoveable. "What Mr. Fox said finely of himself, could be affirmed with equal truth of his former rival (Lord Shelburne), 'Amicitiae sempiternae, inimicitiae placabiles.' "; May, Const. History, ch. viii.
317. P. 154, L. 7. There is, however, a time for all things. In this paragraph Burke states in clear terms the menace he has foreshadowed at p. 74, l. 35, "Les Révolutions," &c.; p. 104, "While some politicians," &c.; p. 110, "A sullen gloom," &c., with the significant hint at the times of Charles I; and p. 142, in asserting the right of the body of the people to interposition.
319. L. 9. critical exigences. Burke sometimes, with Bolingbroke, uses the less classical exigencies. Similarly he uses both inconveniences and inconveniencies.
321. L. 9. every other, i. e. "every one else."
322. L. 10. This servitude is... "perfect freedom." "Whose service is perfect
But boast themselves more comely than before.' ";
Compare Speech on Economical Reform: "We ought to walk before them with purity, plainness, and integrity of heart: with filial love, and not with slavish fear," &c. And the animated appeal, in the peroration, to the House of Commons under the image of a faithless wife.
323. L. 18. casting from it, with scorn,... all the false ornaments, &c. "Let us cast away from us, with a generous scorn,.... . all the other adulterous trinkets that are the pledges of our alienation, and the monuments of our shame." Ibid.