Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents and the Two Speeches on America
Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, continued
In what manner our domestic oeconomy is affected by this system, it is needless to explain. It is the perpetual subject of their own complaints.
*186The Court Party resolve the whole into faction. Having said something before upon this subject, I shall only observe here, that, when they give this account of the prevalence of faction, they present no very favourable aspect of the confidence of the people in their own Government. They may be assured, that however they amuse themselves with a variety of projects for substituting something else in the place of that great and only foundation of Government, the confidence of the people, every attempt will but make their condition worse. When men imagine that their food is only a cover for poison, and when they neither love nor trust the hand that serves it, it is *187not the name of the roast beef of Old England, that will persuade them to sit down to the table that is spread for them. When the people conceive that laws, and tribunals, and even popular assemblies, are perverted from the ends of their institution, they find in those names of degenerated establishments only new motives to discontent. Those bodies, which, when full of life and beauty, lay in their arms and were their joy and comfort, when dead and putrid, become but the more loathsome from remembrance of former endearments.
After having stated, as shortly as I am able, the effects of this system on our foreign affairs, on the policy of our Government with regard to our dependencies, and on the interior oeconomy of the Commonwealth; there remains only, in this part of my design, to say something of the grand principle which first recommended this system at Court. The pretence was, to prevent the King from being enslaved by a faction, and *194made a prisoner in his closet. This scheme might have been expected to answer at least its own end, and to indemnify the King, in his personal capacity, for all the confusion into which it has thrown his Government. But has it in reality answered this purpose? I am sure, if it had, every affectionate subject would have one motive for enduring with patience all the evils which attend it.
In order to come at the truth in this matter, it may not be amiss to consider it somewhat in detail. I speak here of the King, and not of the Crown; the interests of which we have already touched. Independent of that greatness which a King possesses merely by being a representative of the national dignity, the things in which he may have an individual interest seem to be these: wealth accumulated; wealth spent in magnificence, pleasure, or beneficence; personal respect and attention; and above all, private ease and repose of mind. These compose the inventory of prosperous circumstances, whether they regard a Prince or a subject; their enjoyments differing only in the scale upon which they are formed.
Suppose then we were to ask, whether the King has been richer than his predecessors in accumulated wealth, since the establishment of the plan of Favouritism? I believe it will
These are revenues within the knowledge and cognizance of our national Councils. We have no direct right to examine into the receipts from his Majesty's German Dominions, and *198the Bishoprick of Osnabrug. This is unquestionably true. But that which is not within the province of Parliament, is yet within the sphere of every man's own reflexion. If a foreign Prince resided amongst us, the state of his revenues
Has this system provided better for the treatment becoming his high and sacred character, and secured the King from those disgusts attached to the necessity of employing men who are not personally agreeable? This is a topick upon which for many reasons I could wish to be silent; but the pretence of securing against such causes of uneasiness, is the corner-stone of the Court Party. It has however so happened, that if I were to fix upon any one point, in which this system has been more particularly and shamefully blameable, the effects which it has produced would justify me in choosing for that point its tendency to degrade the personal dignity of the Sovereign, and to *200expose him to a thousand contradictions and mortifications. It is but too evident in what
An opinion prevails, that greatness has been more than once advised to submit to *203certain condescensions towards individuals, which have been denied to the entreaties of a nation. For the meanest and most dependent instrument of this system knows, that there are hours when its existence may depend upon his adherence to it; and he takes his advantage accordingly. Indeed it is a law of nature, that whoever is necessary to what we have made our object, is sure, in some way, or in some time or other, to become our master. All this however is submitted to, in order to avoid that monstrous evil of governing in concurrence with the opinion of the people. For it seems to be laid down as a maxim, that a King has some sort of interest in giving uneasiness to his subjects: that all who are pleasing to them, are to be of course disagreeable to him: that as soon as the persons who are odious at Court are known to be odious to the people, it is snatched at as a lucky occasion of showering down upon them all kinds of emoluments and honours.
If therefore this system has so ill answered its own grand pretence of saving the King from the necessity of employing persons disagreeable to him, has it given more peace and tranquillity to his Majesty's private hours? No, most certainly. The father of his people cannot possibly enjoy repose, while his family is in such a state of distraction. Then what has the Crown or the King profited by all this fine-wrought scheme? Is he more rich, or more splendid, or more powerful, or more at his ease, by so many labours and contrivances? *205Have they not beggared his Exchequer, tarnished the splendor of his Court, sunk his dignity, galled his feelings, discomposed the whole order and happiness of his private life?
If particular men had grown into an attachment, by the distinguished honour of the society of their Sovereign; and, by being the *208partakers of his amusements, came sometimes to prefer the gratification of his personal inclinations to the support of his high character, the thing would be very
*211So far I have considered the effect of the Court system, chiefly as it operates upon the executive Government, on the temper of the people, and on the happiness of the Sovereign. It remains that we should consider, with a little attention, its operation upon Parliament.
Parliament was indeed the great object of all these politicks, the end at which they aimed, as well as the instrument by which they were to operate. But, before Parliament could be made subservient to a system, by which it was to be degraded from the dignity of a national council, into a mere member of the Court, it must be greatly changed from its original character.
*212In speaking of this body, I have my eye chiefly on the House of Commons. I hope I shall be indulged in a few observations on the nature and character of that assembly; not with regard to its legal form and power, but to its spirit, and to the purposes it is meant to answer in the constitution.
The House of Commons was supposed originally to be no part of the standing Government of this country. It was considered as a controul, issuing immediately from the people,
Whatever alterations time and the necessary accommodation of business may have introduced, this character can never be sustained, unless the House of Commons shall be made to bear some stamp of the actual disposition of the people at large. It would (among public misfortunes) be an evil more natural and tolerable, that the House of Commons should be infected with every epidemical phrensy of the people, as this would indicate some consanguinity, some sympathy of nature with their constituents, than that they should in all cases be wholly untouched by the opinions and feelings of the people out of doors. By this want of sympathy they would cease to be an House of Commons. For it is not the derivation of the power of that House from the people, which makes it in a distinct sense their representative. *214The 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; because no power is given for the sole sake of the holder; and although Government certainly is an institution of Divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who administer it, all originate from the people.
A popular origin cannot therefore be the characteristical
For my part, I shall be compelled to conclude the principle of Parliament to be totally corrupted, and therefore its ends entirely defeated, when I see two symptoms: first, a rule of indiscriminate support to all Ministers; because this destroys the very end of Parliament as a controul, and is a general previous sanction to misgovernment; and secondly, the setting up any claims adverse to the right of free election; for this tends to subvert the legal authority by which the House of Commons sits.
I know that, since the Revolution, along with many dangerous, many useful powers of Government have been weakened. It is absolutely necessary to have frequent recourse to the Legislature.*221 Parliaments must therefore sit every year, and for great part of the year. The dreadful disorders of frequent elections have also necessitated *222a septennial instead of a triennial duration. These circumstances, I mean the constant habit of authority, and the unfrequency of elections, have tended very much to draw the House of Commons towards the character of a standing Senate. It is a disorder which has arisen from the cure of greater disorders; it has arisen from the extreme difficulty of reconciling liberty under a monarchical Government, with external strength and with internal tranquillity.
It is very clear that we cannot free ourselves entirely from this great inconvenience; but I would not increase an evil,
By this plan several important ends are answered to the Cabal. If the authority of Parliament supports itself, the credit of every act of Government, which they contrive, is saved: but if the act be so very odious that the whole strength of Parliament is insufficient to recommend it, then Parliament is itself discredited; and this discredit increases more and more that indifference to the constitution, which it is the constant aim of its enemies, by their abuse of Parliamentary powers, to render general among the people. Whenever Parliament is persuaded to assume the offices of executive Government, it will lose all the confidence, love, and veneration, which it has ever enjoyed whilst it was
For a considerable time this separation of the representatives from their constituents went on with a silent progress; and had those, who conducted the plan for their total separation, been persons of temper and abilities any way equal to the magnitude of their design, the success would have been infallible: but by their precipitancy they have laid it open in all its nakedness; the nation is alarmed at it: and the event may not be pleasant to the contrivers of the scheme. In the last session, the corps called the King's friends made *224
*225The arguments upon which this claim was founded and combated, are not my business here. *226Never has a subject been more amply and more learnedly handled, nor upon one side, in my opinion, more satisfactorily; they who are not convinced by what is already written *227would not receive conviction though one arose from the dead.
I too have thought on this subject: but my purpose here, is only to consider it as a part of the favourite project of Government; to observe on the motives which led to it; and to trace its political consequences.
The instinct which carries the people towards the choice of the former, is justified by reason; because a man of such a character, even in its exorbitancies, does not directly contradict the purposes of a trust, the end of which is a controul on power. The latter character, even when it is not in its extreme, will execute this trust but very imperfectly; and, if
*229It signifies very little how this matter may be quibbled away. *230Example, the only argument of effect in civil life, demonstrates the truth of my proposition. Nothing can alter my opinion concerning the pernicious tendency of this example, until I see some man for his indiscretion in the support of power, for his violent and intemperate servility, rendered incapable of sitting in parliament. For as it now stands, the fault of overstraining popular qualities, and, irregularly if you please, asserting popular privileges, has led to disqualification; the opposite fault never has produced
Not that I would encourage popular disorder, or any disorder. But I would leave such offences to the law, to be punished in measure and proportion. The laws of this country are for the most part constituted, and wisely so, for the general ends of Government, rather than for the preservation of our particular liberties. Whatever therefore is done in support of liberty, by persons not in public trust, or not acting merely in that trust, is liable to be more or less out of the ordinary course of the law; and the law itself is sufficient to animadvert upon it with great severity. Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter from crushing us, except the *231temperaments it may receive from a trial by jury. But if the habit prevails of going beyond the law, and superseding this judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into courts of criminal equity, (*232so the Star Chamber has been called by Lord Bacon,) *233all the evils of the Star Chamber are revived. A large and liberal construction in ascertaining offences, and a discretionary power in punishing them, is the idea of criminal equity; which is in truth a monster in Jurisprudence. It signifies nothing whether a court for this purpose be a *234Committee of Council, or an House of Commons, or an House of Lords; the liberty of the subject will be equally subverted by it. The true end and purpose of that House of Parliament which entertains such a jurisdiction will be destroyed by it.
I will not believe, what no other man living believes, that Mr. Wilkes was punished for the indecency of his publications, or the impiety of his ransacked closet. If he had fallen in a common slaughter of libellers and blasphemers, I could well believe that nothing more was meant than was
Nor is it that vice merely skulks in an obscure and contemptible impunity. Does not the public behold with indignation, persons not only generally scandalous in their lives, but *237the identical persons who, by their society, their instruction, their example, their encouragement, have drawn this man into the very faults which have furnished the Cabal with a pretence for his persecution, loaded with every kind of favour, honour, and distinction, which a Court can bestow? Add but the crime of servility (the *238foedum crimen servitutis) to every other crime, and the whole mass is immediately transmuted into virtue, and becomes the just subject of reward and honour. When therefore I reflect upon this method pursued by the Cabal in distributing rewards and punishments, I must conclude that Mr. Wilkes is the object of persecution, not on account of what he has done in common with others who are the objects of reward, but for that in which he differs from many of them: that he is pursued for the spirited dispositions which are blended with his vices; for *239his unconquerable firmness, for his resolute, indefatigable, strenuous resistance against oppression.
It behoves the people of England to consider how the House of Commons under the operation of these examples must of necessity be constituted. On the side of the Court will be, all honours, offices, emoluments; every sort of personal gratification to avarice or vanity; and, what is of more moment to most gentlemen, the means of growing, by innumerable petty services to individuals, into a spreading interest in their country. On the other hand, let us suppose a person unconnected with the Court, and in opposition to its system. For his own person, no office, or emolument, or title; no promotion ecclesiastical, or civil, or military, or naval, for children, or brothers, or kindred. In vain an expiring interest in a borough calls for offices, or small livings, for the children of *242mayors, and aldermen, and capital burgesses. His court rival has them all. He can do an infinite number of acts of generosity and kindness, and even of public spirit. He can procure *243indemnity from quarters. He can procure advantages in trade. He
The power which they claim, of declaring incapacities, would not be above the just claims of a final judicature, if they had not laid it down as a leading principle, that they had no rule in the exercise of this claim, but their own discretion. Not one of their abettors has ever undertaken to assign the principle of unfitness, the species or degree of delinquency, on which the House of Commons will expel, nor the mode of proceeding upon it, nor the evidence upon which it is established. The direct consequence of which is, that the first franchise of an Englishman, and that on which all the rest vitally depend, is to be forfeited for some offence which no man knows, and which is to be proved by no known rule whatsoever of legal evidence. This is so anomalous to our whole constitution, that I will venture to say, the most trivial right, which the subject claims, never was, nor can be, forfeited in such a manner.
The whole of their usurpation is established upon this method of arguing. *247We do not make laws. No; we do not contend for this power. We only declare law; and, as we are a tribunal both competent and supreme, what we declare to be law becomes law, although it should not have been so before. Thus the circumstance of having no appeal from their jurisdiction is made to imply that they have no rule in the exercise of it: the judgement does not derive its validity from its conformity to the law; but preposterously the law is made to attend on the judgement; and the rule of the
This claim in their hands was no barren theory. It was pursued into its utmost consequences; and a dangerous principle has begot a correspondent practice. A systematic spirit has been shown upon both sides. The electors of Middlesex chose a person whom the House of Commons had voted incapable; and the House of Commons has taken in a member whom the electors of Middlesex had not chosen. By a construction on that legislative power which had been assumed, they declared that the true legal sense of the country was contained in the minority, on that occasion; and might, on a resistance to a vote of incapacity, be contained in any minority.
When any construction of law goes against the spirit of the privilege it was meant to support, it is a vicious construction. It is material to us to be represented really and bona fide, and not in forms, in types, and shadows, and fictions of law. The right of election was not established merely as a matter of form, to satisfy some method and rule of technical reasoning; it was not a principle which might substitute a *248Titius or a Maevius, a John Doe or Richard Roe, in the place of a man specially chosen; not a principle which was just as well satisfied with one man as with another. It is a right, the effect of which is to give to the people that man, and that man only, whom, by their voices, actually, not constructively given, they declare that they know, esteem, love, and trust. This right is a matter within their own power of judging and feeling; not an ens rationis and creature of law: nor can those devices, by which anything else is substituted in the place of such an actual choice, answer in the least degree the end of representation.
I know that the courts of law have *249made as strained constructions
The people indeed have been told, that this power of discretionary disqualification is vested in hands that they may trust, and who will be sure not to abuse it to their prejudice. Until I find something in this argument differing from that on which every mode of despotism has been defended, I shall not be inclined to pay it any great compliment. The people are satisfied to trust themselves with the exercise of their own privileges, and do not desire this kind intervention of the House of Commons to free them from the burthen. They are certainly in the right. They ought not to trust the House of Commons with a power over their franchises; because the constitution, which placed two other co-ordinate powers to controul it, reposed no such confidence in that body. It were a folly well deserving servitude for its punishment, to be full of confidence where the laws are full of distrust; and to give to an House of Commons, arrogating to its sole resolution the most harsh and odious part of legislative authority, that degree of submission which is due only to the Legislature itself.
When the House of Commons, in an endeavour to obtain
But we must purposely shut our eyes, if we consider this matter merely as a contest between the House of Commons and the Electors. The true contest is between the Electors of the Kingdom and the Crown; the Crown acting by an instrumental House of Commons. It is precisely the same, whether the Ministers of the Crown can disqualify by a dependent House of Commons, or by a dependent court of Star Chamber, or by a dependent court of King's Bench. If once Members of Parliament can be practically convinced that they do not depend on the affection or opinion of the people for their political being, they will give themselves over, without even an appearance of reserve, to the influence of the Court.
Indeed, a Parliament unconnected with the people, is essential to a Ministry unconnected with the people; and therefore those who saw through what mighty difficulties the interior Ministry waded, and the exterior were dragged, in
When the House of Commons was thus made to consider itself as the master of its constituents, there wanted but one thing to secure that House against all possible future deviation towards popularity; an unlimited fund of money to be laid out according to the pleasure of the Court.
To compleat the scheme of bringing our Court to a resemblance to the neighbouring Monarchies, it was necessary, in effect, to destroy those appropriations of revenue, which seem to limit the property, as the other laws had done the powers, of the Crown. An opportunity for this purpose was taken, upon an application to Parliament for *251payment of the debts of the Civil List; which in 1769 had amounted to 513,000l. Such application had been made upon former occasions; but to do it in the former manner would by no means answer the present purpose.
Whenever the Crown had come to the Commons to desire a supply for the discharging of debts due on the Civil List; it was always asked and granted with one of the three following qualifications; sometimes with all of them. Either it was stated, that the revenue had been diverted from its purposes by Parliament: or that those duties had fallen short of the sum for which they were given by Parliament, and that the intention of the Legislature had not been fulfilled: or that the money required to discharge the Civil List debt was to be raised chargeable on the Civil List duties. In the reign of Queen Anne, the Crown was found in debt. The lessening and granting away some part of her revenue by Parliament was alleged as the cause of that debt, and pleaded as an equitable ground, (such it certainly was,) for discharging it.
The Civil List debt was twice paid in the reign of George the First. The money was granted upon the same plan which had been followed in the reign of Queen Anne. The Civil List revenues were then mortgaged for the sum to be raised, and stood charged with the ransom of their own deliverance.
George the Second received an addition to his Civil List. Duties were granted for the purpose of raising 800,000l. a year. It was not until he had reigned nineteen years, and after the last rebellion, that he called upon Parliament for a discharge of the Civil List debt. The extraordinary charges brought on by the rebellion, account fully for the necessities of the Crown. However, the extraordinary charges of Government were not thought a ground fit to be relied on. A deficiency of the Civil List duties for several years before was stated as the principal, if not the sole, ground on which an application to Parliament could be justified. About this time the produce of these duties had fallen pretty low; and even upon an average of the whole reign they never produced 800,000l. a year clear to the Treasury.
That Prince reigned fourteen years afterwards: not only no new demands were made; but with so much good order
To have exceeded the sum given for the Civil List, and to have incurred a debt without special authority of Parliament, was, prima facie, a criminal act: as such, Ministers ought naturally rather to have withdrawn it from the inspection, than to have exposed it to the scrutiny, of Parliament. Certainly they ought, of themselves, officially to have come armed with every sort of argument, which, by explaining, could excuse a matter in itself of presumptive guilt. But
On the other hand, the peculiar character of the House of Commons, as trustee of the public purse, would have led them to call with a punctilious solicitude for every public account, and to have examined into them with the most rigorous accuracy.
The nation had settled 800,000l. a year on the Crown, as sufficient for the purpose of its dignity, upon the estimate of its own Ministers. When Ministers came to Parliament, and said that this allowance had not been sufficient for the purpose, and that they had incurred a debt of 500,000l., would it not have been natural for Parliament first to have asked, how, and by what means, their appropriated allowance came to be insufficient? Would it not have savoured of some attention to justice, to have seen in what periods of Administration this debt had been originally incurred; that they might discover, and if need were, animadvert on the persons who were found the most culpable? To put their hands upon such articles of expenditure as they thought improper or excessive, and to secure, in future, against such misapplication or exceeding? Accounts for any other purposes are but a matter of curiosity, and no genuine Parliamentary object. All the accounts which could answer any Parliamentary end were refused, or postponed by previous questions.
When every leading account had been refused, many others were granted with sufficient facility.
But with great candour also, the House was informed, that hardly any of them could be ready until the next session; some of them perhaps not so soon. But, in order firmly to establish the precedent of payment previous to account, and to form it into a settled rule of the House, the *253god in the machine was brought down, nothing less than the wonder-working Law of Parliament. It was alledged, that it is the law of Parliament, when any demand comes from the Crown, that the House must go immediately into the Committee of Supply; in which Committee it was allowed, that the production and examination of accounts would be quite proper and regular. It was therefore carried, that they should go into the Committee without delay, and without accounts, in order to examine with great order and regularity things that could not possibly come before them. After this stroke of orderly and Parliamentary wit and humour, they went into the Committee; and very generously voted the payment.
There was a circumstance in that debate too remarkable to be overlooked. This debt of the Civil List was all along argued upon the same footing as a debt of the State, contracted upon national authority. Its payment was urged as equally pressing upon the public faith and honour; and when the whole year's account was stated, in what is called The Budget, the Ministry valued themselves on the payment of so much public debt, just as if they had discharged 500,000l. of *254navy or exchequer bills. Though, in truth, their payment, from the Sinking Fund, of debt which was never contracted by Parliamentary authority, was, to all intents and purposes, so much debt incurred. But such is the present
Nor was the House at all more attentive to a provident security against future, than it had been to a vindictive retrospect to past, mismanagements. I should have thought indeed that a Ministerial promise, during their own continuance in office, might have been given, though this would have been but a poor security for the publick. Mr. Pelham gave such an assurance, and he kept his word. But nothing was capable of extorting from our Ministers anything which had the least resemblance to a promise of confining the expences of the Civil List within the limits which had been settled by Parliament. This reserve of theirs I look upon to be equivalent to the clearest declaration, that they were resolved upon a contrary course.
However, to put the matter beyond all doubt, in the Speech from the Throne, after thanking Parliament for the relief so liberally granted, the Ministers inform the two Houses, that they will endeavour to confine the expences of the Civil Government—within what limits, think you? those which the law had prescribed? Not in the least—"such limits as the honour of the Crown can possibly admit."
Thus they established an arbitrary standard for that dignity which Parliament had defined and limited to a legal standard. They gave themselves, under the lax and indeterminate idea of the honour of the Crown, a full loose for *255all manner of dissipation, and all manner of corruption. This arbitrary standard they were not afraid to hold out to both Houses; while an idle and unoperative Act of Parliament, estimating the dignity of the Crown at 800,000l., and confining it to that sum, adds to the number of obsolete statutes which load the shelves of libraries without any sort of advantage to the people.
After this proceeding, I suppose that no man can be so
Five hundred thousand pounds is a serious sum. But it is nothing to the *257prolific principle upon which the sum was voted; a principle that may be well called, *258the fruitful mother of an hundred more. Neither is the damage to public credit of very great consequence, when compared with that which results to public morals and to the safety of the constitution, from the exhaustless mine of corruption opened by the precedent, and to be wrought by the principle of the late payment of the debts of the Civil List. The power of discretionary disqualification by one law of Parliament, and the necessity of paying every debt of the Civil List by another law of Parliament, if suffered to pass unnoticed, must establish such a fund of rewards and terrors as will make Parliament the best appendage and support of arbitrary power that ever was invented by the wit of man. This is felt. The quarrel
In such a strait the wisest may well be perplexed, and the boldest staggered. The circumstances are in a great measure new. We have hardly any *259land-marks from the wisdom of our ancestors, to guide us. At best we can only follow the spirit of their proceeding in other cases. I know the diligence with which my observations on our public disorders have been made; I am very sure of the integrity of the motives on which they are published: I cannot be equally confident in any plan for the absolute cure of those disorders, or for their certain future prevention. My aim is to bring this matter into more public discussion. Let the sagacity of others work upon it. It is not uncommon for medical writers to describe histories of diseases very accurately, on whose cure they can say but very little.
The first ideas which generally suggest themselves, for the cure of Parliamentary disorders, are, *260to shorten the duration of Parliaments; and *261to disqualify all, or a great number of placemen, from a seat in the House of Commons. Whatever efficacy there may be in those remedies, I am sure in the present state of things it is impossible to apply them. A restoration of the right of free election is a preliminary indispensable to every other reformation. What alterations ought afterwards to be made in the constitution, is a matter of deep and difficult research.
If I wrote merely to please the popular palate, it would indeed be as little troublesome to me as to another, to extol these remedies, so famous in speculation, but to which their greatest admirers have never attempted seriously to resort in practice. I confess then, that I have no sort of reliance upon either a Triennial Parliament, or a Place-bill. With regard to the former, perhaps, it might rather serve to counteract, than
The next favourite remedy is a Place-bill. The same principle guides in both; I mean, the opinion which is entertained by many, of the *263infallibility of laws and regulations, in the cure of public distempers. Without being as unreasonably doubtful as many are unwisely confident, I will only say, that this also is a matter very well worthy of serious and mature reflexion. It is not easy to foresee, what the effect would be of disconnecting with Parliament, the greatest part of those who hold civil employments, and of such mighty and important bodies as the military and naval establishments. It were better, perhaps, that they should have a corrupt interest in the forms of the constitution, than that they should have none at all. This is a question altogether different from the *264disqualification of a particular description of Revenue Officers from seats in Parliament; or, perhaps, of all the lower sorts of them from votes in elections. In the former case, only the few are affected; in the latter, only the inconsiderable. But a great official, a great professional, a great military and naval interest, all necessarily comprehending many people of the first weight, ability, wealth, and spirit, has been gradually formed in the kingdom. These new interests must be let into a share of representation,
Indeed, in the situation in which we stand, with an immense revenue, an enormous debt, mighty establishments, Government itself a great banker and a great merchant, I see no other way for the preservation of a decent attention to public interest in the Representatives, but the *270interposition of the body of the people itself, whenever it shall appear, by some flagrant and notorious act, by some capital innovation, that these Representatives are going to over-leap the fences of the law, and to introduce an arbitrary power. This interposition is a most unpleasant remedy. But, if it be a *271legal remedy, it is intended on some occasion to be used; to be used then only, when it is evident that nothing else can hold the constitution to its true principles.
The distempers of Monarchy were the great subjects of apprehension and redress, in the last century; in this, the distempers of Parliament. It is not in Parliament alone that the remedy for Parliamentary disorders can be compleated; hardly indeed can it begin there. Until a confidence in Government is re-established, the people ought to be excited
By such means something may be done. By such means it may appear who those are, that, *272by an indiscriminate support of all Administrations, have totally banished all integrity and confidence out of public proceedings; have confounded the best men with the worst; and weakened and dissolved, instead of strengthening and *273compacting, the general frame of Government. If any person is more concerned for government and order, than for the liberties of his country, even he is equally concerned to put an end to this course of indiscriminate support. It is this blind and undistinguishing support, that feeds the spring of those very disorders, by which he is *274frighted into the arms of the faction which contains in itself the source of all disorders, by enfeebling all the visible and regular authority of the State. The distemper is increased by his injudicious and preposterous endeavours, or pretences, for the cure of it.
An exterior Administration, chosen for its impotency, or after it is chosen purposely rendered impotent, in order to be rendered subservient, will not be obeyed. The laws themselves will not be respected, when those who execute them are despised: and they will be despised, when their power is not immediate from the Crown, or natural in the kingdom. Never were Ministers better supported in Parliament. Parliamentary support comes and goes with office, totally regardless of the man, or the merit. Is Government strengthened? It grows weaker and weaker. The popular torrent gains upon it every hour. Let us learn from our experience. It is not support that is wanting to Government,
It is indeed in no way wonderful, that such persons should make such declarations. That connexion and Faction are equivalent terms, is an opinion which has been carefully inculcated at all times by unconstitutional Statesmen. The reason is evident. Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of an evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other's principles, nor experienced in each other's talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connexion, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory
*280It is not enough in a situation of trust in the commonwealth, that a man means well to his country; it is not enough that in his single person he never did an evil act, but always voted according to his conscience, and even harangued against every design which he apprehended to be prejudicial to the interests of his country. This innoxious and ineffectual character, that seems formed upon a plan of apology and disculpation, falls miserably short of the mark of public duty. *281That duty demands and requires, that what is right should *282not only be made known, but made prevalent; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated. When the public man omits to put himself in a situation of doing his duty with effect, it is an omission that frustrates the purposes of his trust almost as much as if he had formally betrayed it. It is surely no very rational account of a man's life, that he has always acted right; but has taken special care to act in such a manner that his endeavours could not possibly be productive of any consequence.
I do not wonder that the behaviour of many parties should have made persons of tender and scrupulous virtue somewhat out of humour with all sorts of connexion in politicks. *283I admit that people frequently acquire in such confederacies a narrow, bigotted, and proscriptive spirit; that they are apt to sink the idea of the general good in this circumscribed and partial interest. But, where duty renders a critical situation a necessary one, it is our business to keep free from the evils attendant upon it; and not to fly from the situation itself. If a fortress is seated in an unwholesome air, an
I do not wonder that the behaviour of many parties should have made persons of tender and scrupulous virtue somewhat out of humour with all sorts of connexion in politicks. *283I admit that people frequently acquire in such confederacies a narrow, bigotted, and proscriptive spirit; that they are apt to sink the idea of the general good in this circumscribed and partial interest. But, where duty renders a critical situation a necessary one, it is our business to keep free from the evils attendant upon it; and not to fly from the situation itself. If a fortress is seated in an unwholesome air, an
*288Some legislators went so far as to make neutrality in party a crime against the State. I do not know whether this might not have been rather to overstrain the principle. Certain it is, the best patriots in the greatest commonwealths have always commended and promoted such connexions. *289Idem sentire de republica, was with them a principal ground of friendship and attachment; nor do I know any other capable of forming firmer, dearer, more pleasing, more honourable, and more virtuous habitudes. *290The Romans carried this principle a great way. Even the holding of offices together, the disposition of which arose from chance, not selection, gave rise to a relation which continued for life. It was called *291necessitudo sortis; and it was looked upon with a sacred reverence. Breaches of any of these kinds of civil relation were considered as acts of the most distinguished turpitude. *292The whole people was distributed into political societies, in which they acted in support of such interests in the State as they severally affected. For it was then thought no crime, *293to endeavour by every honest means to advance to superiority and power those of your own
*296Thy favourites grow not up by fortune's sport,
*298The Whigs of those days believed that the only proper method of rising into power was through hard essays of practised friendship and *299experimented fidelity. At that time it was not imagined, that patriotism was a bloody idol, which
*303These wise men, for such I must call Lord Sunderland, Lord Godolphin, Lord Somers, and Lord Marlborough, were too well principled in these maxims upon which the whole fabrick of public strength is built, to be blown off their ground by the breath of every childish talker. They were not afraid that they should be *304called an ambitious Junto; or that their resolution to stand or fall together should, by placemen, be interpreted into a scuffle for places.
*305Party is a body of men united, for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed. For my part, I find it impossible to conceive, that any one believes in his own politicks, or thinks them to be of any weight, who refuses to adopt the means of having them reduced into practice. It is the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of Government. It is the business of the politician, who is the philosopher in action, to find out proper means towards those ends, and to employ them with effect. Therefore every honourable connexion will avow it as their first purpose, to pursue every just method to put the men who hold their opinions into such a condition as may enable them to carry their common plans into execution, with all
It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals, that their maxims have *308a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to first principles. They are light and portable. They are *309as current as copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the worst men as the best. Of this stamp is the *310cant of Not men but measures; a sort of charm, by which many people get loose from every honourable engagement. When I see a man acting this desultory and disconnected part, with as much detriment to his own fortune as prejudice to the cause of any party, I am not persuaded that he is right; but I am ready to believe he is in earnest. I respect virtue in all its situations; even when it is found in the unsuitable company of weakness. I lament to see qualities, rare and valuable, squandered away without any public utility. But when *311a
I believe the reader would wish to find no substance in a doctrine which has a tendency to destroy all test of character as deduced from conduct. He will therefore excuse my adding something more, towards the further clearing up a point, which the great convenience of obscurity to dishonesty has been able to cover with some degree of darkness and doubt.
I remember an old scholastic aphorism, which says that "the man who lives wholly detached from others, must be *314either an angel or a devil." When I see in any of these detached gentlemen of our times the angelic purity, power, and beneficence, I shall admit them to be angels. In the mean time we are born only to be men. We shall do enough if we form ourselves to be good ones. It is therefore our business carefully to cultivate in our minds, to rear to the most perfect vigour and maturity, every sort of generous and honest feeling that belongs to our nature. To bring the *315dispositions that are lovely in private life into the service and conduct of the commonwealth; so to be patriots, as not to forget we are gentlemen. To cultivate *316friendships, and to incur enmities. To have both strong, but both selected: in the one, to be placable; in the other, immoveable. To model our principles to our duties and our situation. To be fully persuaded, that all virtue which is impracticable is spurious; and rather to run the risque of falling into faults in a course which leads us to act with effect and energy, than to loiter out our days without blame, and without use. Public life is a situation of power and energy; he trespasses against his duty who sleeps upon his watch, as well as he that goes over to the enemy.
*317There is, however, *318a time for all things. It is not every conjuncture which calls with equal force upon the activity of honest men; but *319critical exigences now and then arise; and I am mistaken, if this be not one of them. Men will see the necessity of honest combination; but they may see it when it is too late. They may embody, when it will be ruinous to themselves, and of no advantage to the country;
If the reader believes that there really exists such a Faction as I have described; a Faction ruling by the private inclinations of a Court, against the general sense of the people; and that this Faction, whilst it pursues a scheme for undermining all the foundations of our freedom, weakens (for the present at least) all the powers of executory Government, rendering us abroad contemptible, and at home distracted; he will believe also, that nothing but a firm combination of public men against this body, and that, too, supported by the *320hearty concurrence of the people at large, can possibly get the better of it. The people will see the necessity of restoring public men to an attention to the public opinion, and of restoring the constitution to its original principles. Above all, they will endeavour to keep the House of Commons from assuming a character which does not belong to it. They will endeavour to keep that House, for its existence, for its powers, and its privileges, as independent of *321every other, and as dependent upon themselves, as possible. *322This servitude is to an House of Commons (like obedience to the Divine
When they have learned this lesson themselves, they will be willing and able to teach the Court, that it is the true interest of the Prince to have but one Administration; and that one composed of those who recommend themselves to their Sovereign through the opinion of their country, and not by their obsequiousness to a favourite. Such men will serve their Sovereign with affection and fidelity; because his choice of them, upon such principles, is a compliment to their virtue. They will be able to serve him effectually; because they will add the weight of the country to the force of the executory power. They will be able to serve their King with dignity; because they will never abuse his name to the gratification of their private spleen or avarice. This, with allowances for human frailty, may probably be the general character of a Ministry, which thinks itself accountable to the House of Commons, when the House of Commons thinks itself accountable to its constituents. If other ideas should prevail, things must remain in their present confusion; until they are hurried into all the rage of civil violence; or until they sink into the dead repose of despotism.
Notes for this chapter
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
L. 11. perishes by the assistance, &c. The case of the Britons and the Saxons, among many others, will occur to the student.
L. 17. a procedure which at once. Burke, like Swift, uses the term in the same comprehensive sense as in French.
L. 22. protecting from the severity, &c. The allusion is to the pardon of the convicted rioters at the Middlesex election.
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—
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.
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:
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."
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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."
P. 116, L. 9. Have they not beggared his Exchequer, &c. Burke sums up the conclusions of the previous pages.
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.
Ibid. in what respect the King has profited, &c. Burke has now fulfilled
L. 18. partakers of his amusements. An allusion to the origin of Lord Bute's influence with Frederick Prince of Wales.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
blood, to atone for the misconduct of those who have transacted
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
P. 126, L. 10. how he adventures: Fr. s'aventurer. More correct than the modern word "venture."
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.
L. 32. indemnity from quarters, i.e. from having soldiers quartered on inhabitants of his borough.
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.
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.
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;
P. 129, L. 15. Titius, Maevius, John Doe, Richard Roe. The fictitious parties to actions in Roman and English law respectively.
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.
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.
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.
P. 135, L. 25. god in the machine. (Deus ex machinâ.) A well-known allusion borrowed from the Greek drama.
P. 136, L. 10. navy or exchequer bills. Securities issued for raising money for
L. 24. the Sinking Fund the great buttress of all the rest. A favourite image. Compare p. 174, "clumsy buttresses of arbitrary power."
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
L. 32. influence of contracts, of subscriptions, of direct bribery, &c. See May's Const. History, chap. v.
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.
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,
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.
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
L. 19. So Shakspeare, Milton, Waller, &c. The only authority quoted by Johnson for frighten, is Prior.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
L. 10. not only be made known, &c. Cp. the Aristotelian o&upsgr; gn&ohivrgr;siς &apsgr;ll&agrgr; pr&aivrgr;xiς.
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.
P. 148, L. 1. Burke's favourite moralist had endeavoured to show
—Pope, Ess. on Man, iv. 396.
Ib. Cp. Refl. on Fr. Rev. p. 136: "To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections," &c. Cp. Churchill, Farewell:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
P. 149, L. 9. a poet who was in high esteem with them. See Macaulay's Essay on the Life and Writings of Addison.
L. 18. friendships holy ties. "Let friendship's holy band some names assure." Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel.
L. 21. Fr. "expérimenté" = tried. Fénélon: "Les hommes les moins recueillis et les moins expérimentez."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
L. 6. a plausible air... light and portable. "Disposition towards a
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
L. 9. critical exigences. Burke sometimes, with Bolingbroke, uses the less classical exigencies. Similarly he uses both inconveniences and inconveniencies.
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.
End of Notes
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