Including the following celebrated Political Characters, drawn by himself:

  • Antoinette, late Queen of France
  • Comte D'Artois
  • Paul Benfield, Esq
  • M. Brissot
  • Richard Burke, Esq
  • Late Earl of Chatham
  • M. Condorcet
  • Right Hon. Henry Dundas
  • Hon. C. J. Fox
  • George III.
  • Lord Grenville
  • Late Mr. Grenville
  • Warren Hastings, Esq
  • Late Lord Keppel
  • Sir Hercules Langrishe
  • Louis XVI.
  • Louis XVIII.
  • Lord North
  • Right Honourable William Pitt
  • Marquis of Rockingham
  • Charles Townsend Esq
  • John Wilkes, Esq &c. &c.






IT is presumed that the following selection will be found extremely useful to Readers of almost every class:—To the youthful, as it contains the choicest flowers of fancy, which cannot fail to warm and refine the imagi­nation:—To the Statesman, Philosopher, &c. as abounding in excellent maxims and re­flections, drawn from extensive reading, tried and approved by experience and observation:—To all who aspire to enlarge the sphere of their understanding, but to Englishmen in particular, as every British subject is interested in some part of it.

It is necessary to premise, that the passages selected from Mr. Burke's Pamphlet, entitled, [Page vi] "A Vindication of Natural Society," are not to be taken as conveying Mr. Burke's own opinions, but as an ingenious and artful attack on the principles of Lord Bolingbroke.

A sketch of Mr. Burke's Life, with some original anecdotes, is prefixed, for which the Author entreats the indulgence of the Public, as it is the first attempt of a trembling pen in the biographic line.

A copious index is added, to supply any defects in the arrangement of the different articles, as it was very difficult, amidst such a variety, to place every one under its proper head.

The letter to Mr. Smith was transmitted by an anonymous hand, of course we cannot vouch for its authenticity.


THE gentleman, who suggested the idea of the following selection, conceived that it would be acceptable to prefix some anecdotes of the author. If time, talent, and the nature of the work admitted, it would, in many respects, be a pleasing task to trace this extraordinary man through all the mazes of his politics, to attend him in studious retirement, to mark the boldest flights of his imagination, to fathom a mind, rich and profound as the ocean, and as easily agitated by every gust of passion, and tornado of resentment.—Mr. Burke was called into action in the most eventful period that ever enriched the page of history. His voice was early raised in favour of liberty in America. The blazing suns of India have been often lost in the splendour of his eloquence. The fable children of Africa have numbered him in the list of their advocates, and almost every state in Europe has, at one time or other, been the subject of his tongue and his pen.

Mr. Burke was first taught to read by his mother, a woman of excellent understanding, and a highly cultivated mind. He was instructed in writing and accounts by Mr. James Fitzgerald, who kept a day-school [Page ii] near Smithfield, Dublin. At the age of twelve he was committed to the care of Mr. Abraham Shackelton, a Quaker, master of an eminent classical academy in Balitore, in the County of Kildare. That the reader may form some idea of his pre­ceptor, and the seminary, we transcribe the following advertisement, which appeared in the public prints about that time:


Abraham Shackelton informs his friends and the public, that being placed guardian over the mo­rals of the youth under his care, he declines, from conscientious motives, to teach that part of the aca­demic course, which he conceives injurious to mo­rals, and subversive of sound principles, particularly those authors, who recommend in seducing language, the illusions of love, and the abominable trade of war. Those who design their sons for the college, will take their measures accordingly. He professes to fit youth for business, and instruct them in polite literature. His terms are six pounds per quarter—no entrance money demanded.

Mr. Shackelton was a man of fine even temper, severe in his morals, but extremely indulgent to his pupils, with regard to the bent of their genius, which he was studious to discover and cultivate—his maxim was Natura sequitur melius quam ducitur. Young Burke was very attentive to his studies—sometimes at the ex­pence of his health. He did not confine himself to the Greek and Roman classics, he read at intervals some of the best English writers, and evinced much taste in the selection of the finest passages—many of which he committed to memory. He was passion­ately fond of reading Don Bellianis of Greece. This circumstance he mentioned himself one night in the House of Commons, in the debate on the Affairs of Holland in 1786. He also takes notice of this ro­mance [Page iii] in his Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful. Notwithstanding he appears to have read the poets with all the enthusiasm of a warm imagination, yet it does not appear that he ever invoked the Muses. At one time, it is said, he could repeat all Young's Night Thoughts by rote; in a copy of this work, which he used to carry in his pocket, the two following lines in his hand-writing were found some years since on a blank leaf.

Jove claim'd the verse old Homer sung,
But God himself inspired Young.

Several of his witticisms have been repeated by his schoolfellows, but as they are all unworthy of so great a genius, even in bud, we shall pass them over, with this single observation, that the shafts of his wit were not always winged with the feather of a dove. His filial piety was truly exemplary, and his affection for Mr. Shackelton, his master, was evinced on many occasions. When the good old man visited him in London, he received him as a father, intro­duced him to many of his friends, particularly to Mr. Benjamin West, the painter of posterity, and what is still greater, one of the best of men. He also mentioned him with great respect and veneration in one of his speeches on the Test Act. Having passed a proper time at Balitore Academy, he was transplanted to Trinity College, Dublin, as may appear from the following transcription from the ad­mission book of that university:

‘"1743, April 14, Edmundus Burke, Pens. filius Johannis Gen. annum agens 16, natus Dublinii, edu­catus sub ferulâ M. Shakelton. Tut. D. Pellifier."’

Elected a scholar of the House 26th of May, 1746, commenced A. B. 23d February, 1747-8. He does not appear to have been elected a native.*

[Page iv]Doctor M. Kearney, senior Fellow of the Univer­sity, shone as the rival of Mr. Burke, in every class of the college course. The strictest friendship, how­ever, subsisted between them, and when separated, they continued to correspond with each other till within a few weeks of Mr. Burke's dissolution.

Mr. Burke's father was an attorney, of some emi­nence in his profession, very highly respected for the integrity of his character. Having completed his academic studies, it is said that he offered himself as a candidate to fill the moral chair in the University of Glasgow, vacant by the death of his countryman Mr. Hutcheson. Mr. Reid, however, was raised to that situation, which induced Mr. Burke to turn his attention to the bar. For this purpose he came to London, and entered his name on the books of the Middle Temple. What a transition! he that had d [...]ed the most charming season of life in culling the fairest flowers of imagination, in tracing the pl [...]sing labyrinths of science, to be obliged to w [...] the midnight oil in po [...]g over Coke on Lyt­tleton. He wa [...] not, however, to be dismayed; the entrance was barren and rugged, but it promised a gold [...] [...], and ambition was not the least of Mr. Burke's passions. With such eagerness did he sit down to these new studies, that some­thing [...] almost ‘"forgot himself to stone."’ His constitution was not equal to the task. His health began to d [...]ne; he was advised to consult his friend and countryman, Doctor Nugent, who had pra [...]ed many years with great success at Bath. The Doctor was so benevolent a man, that it is said of him by those who knew him best, that if he had the misfortune to lose a patient, he felt as if he had lost a child. In addition to this, he was so highly charmed with the conversation and opening talents of Mr. Burke, that he was resolved, if possible, to preserve them to the world. For this purpose, he [...]gned him apartments in his own house, where he [Page v] treated him with all the affection of an indulgent parent. Miss Nugent, the Doctor's only daughter, evinced, by her attention, how deeply she was in­terested in the recovery of his health, and what at first assumed the name of friendship, changed into that of love. In short, Mr. Burke was made happy in the possession of a hand that bestowed at the same time one of the gentlest of hearts.

His studies became more diversified, and the suc­cess of some pens induced him to turn his attention to some work that might raise his fame as a writer. His success in this line was equal, nay, superior to his expectation, but he soon found that ‘"fondness of fame was avarice of air,"’ in consequence of which he procured a letter of introduction to the late Earl of Bath, the Mecaenas of the day. His Lordship received him with the utmost politeness, lamented that it was not in his power to render him any ser­vice, as he was no longer in power. The impression which this unexpected intelligence made on Mr. Burke did not escape his Lordship's eye; he felt for the situation of the young man, and after a pause, ‘"I will give you a letter, said he, to the Earl of Bute, though I don't know that I am entitled to take that liberty."’ The proposition revived Mr. Burke's drooping spirits, and he waited, without loss of time, on Lord Bute, who professed his sorrow that it was likewise out of his power to render him any service, as he had resigned all his employments that very morning, adding, that his influence with his Majesty was greatly over-rated; anxious, however, that a man of genius and talent should not pine in the shade, he would take one step, he said, which he did not know he ought to take, but he would venture, and if crowned with success, it would yield him great pleasure. As Lord Halifax had been appointed to assume the vice-regal govern­ment of Ireland, perhaps in that situation, he would be able to render Mr. Burke some service in his native country. The Earl accordingly wrote to [Page vi] Lord Halifax, and recommended the bearer of it as a man of promising genius, who would reflect ho­nour on his patronage and protection. The new appointed Viceroy expressed the deepest regret that every department in his appointment, except that of private secretary to his own secretary was filled up. Mr. Burke was accordingly appointed private secre­tary to the Right Hon. Gerard Hamilton, commonly called Single Speech Hamilton, in consequence of his having made only one speech in the House of Commons during all the time that he sat in Parlia­ment, but which has ever been considered as an effort of unprecedented talent, and is thought to have been composed by the subject of these memoirs.

Having now cursorily traced Mr. Burke to his first debut on the great theatre of public life (in which it was allowed on all sides that he played his part with great applause) we shall introduce him in another character, not so splendid, undoubtedly, but still more amiable. Having contracted an early acquaint­ance with a Mr. Michael Smith, a country school­master, it ripened into mutual friendship. Several letters passed between them; the following is a copy of one which Mr. Burke addressed to him, soon after his arrival in London. Mr. Smith, it appears, taught the Greek and Roman classies at this time in the parish of Fenagh, in the county of Leitrim.—


Mr. Balf was so very kind as to deliver me your friendly epistle about half an hour ago. I read it over, blest the first inventor of letters, and as I have plenty of ink, pens, and paper, and as this is one of my holidays, I intend to dedicate it to friendship.—Balzac having once escaped from a company, where he found it necessary to weigh every word that he uttered, chanced to meet a friend, ‘"Come,"’ said he to him, ‘"let us retire to some place where we can converse freely together, and commit as many solecisms as we please."’ I need not tell you the ap­plication. [Page vii] You'll expect some short account of my journey to this great city; to tell you the truth, I made very few remarks as I rolled along, for my mind was occupied with many thoughts, and my eyes often filled with tears when I reflected on all the dear friends I left behind; yet the prospects could not fail to attract the attention of the most indifferent; country seats sprinkled round on every side, some in the modern taste, others in the stile of old de Coverley Hall, all smiling on the neat, but humble cottage. Every village as gay and compact as a bee­hive, resounding with the busy hum of industry, and inns like palaces. What a contrast between our poor country, where you'll scarce find a cottage orna­mented with a chimney. But what pleased me most of all was the progress of agriculture, my favourite study, and my favourite pursuit, if Providence had blessed me with a few paternal acres. A description of London and its nations would fill a volume. The buildings are very fine, it may be called the sink of vice, but her hospitals and charitable institu­tions, whose turrets pierce the skies, like so many electrical conductors, avert the very wrath of Hea­ven. The inhabitants may be divided into two classes, the undoers and the undone, generally so, I say, for I am persuaded there are many men of honesty and women of virtue in every street. An Englishman is cold and distant at first; he is very cautious even in forming an acquaintance, he must know you well before he enters into friendship with you, but if he does, he is not the first to dissolve that sacred band; in short, a real Englishman is one that performs more than he promises; in company he is rather silent, ex­tremely prudent in his expressions, even in politics, his favourite topic. The women are not quite so reserved; they consult their glasses to the greatest advantage, and as nature is very liberal in her gifts to their persons, and even mind, it is not easy for a young man to escape their glances, or to shut his [Page viii] ears to their softly flowing accents. As to the state of learning in this city, you know I have not been long enough in it to form a proper judgment of that subject. I don't think, however, there is as much respect paid to a man of letters on this side the water as you imagine. I don't find that genius, the ‘"rath primrose, which forsaken, dies,"’ is patronized by any of the nobility, so that writers of the first talents are left to the capricious patronage of the public. Not­withstanding this discouragement, literature is culti­vated in a high degree. Poetry raises her enchanting voice to Heaven. History arrests the wings of time in his slight to the gulph of oblivion. Philosophy, the queen of arts, and the daughter of heaven, is daily extending her intellectual empire. Fancy sports on airy wing like a meteor on the bosom of a summer cloud, and even Metaphysics spins her cobwebs and catches some flies. The House of Commons not unfre­quently exhibits explosions of eloquence, that rise superior to those of Greece and Rome, even in their proudest days. Yet after all a man will make more by the figures of arithmetic than by the figures of rhe­toric, unless he can get into the trade wind, and then he may sail secure over pactolean sands. As to the stage, it is sunk, in my opinion, into the lowest degree; I mean with regard to the trash that is exhi­bited on it, but I don't attribute this to the taste of the audience, for when Shakespeare warbles his ‘"native wood notes,"’ the boxes, pit, and gallery, are crowded—and the Gods are true to every word, if properly winged to the heart.

Soon after my arrival in town, I visited Westminster Abbey; the moment I entered I felt a kind of awe pervade my mind, which I cannot describe; the very silence seemed sacred. Henry the Seventh's chapel is a very fine piece of Gothic architecture, particu­larly the roof, but I am told that it is exceeded by a chapel in the University of Cambridge. Mrs. Nightingale's monument has not been praised beyond [Page ix] its merit. The attitude and expression of the hus­band, in endeavouring to shield his wife from the dart of death, is natural and affecting. But I always thought that the image of death would be much better represented with an extinguished torch, in­verted, than with a dart. Some would imagine that all these monuments were so many monuments of folly—I don't think so; what useful lessons of mor­tality and sound philosophy do they not exhibit. When the high-born beauty surveys her face in the polished parian, though dumb the marble, yet it tells her that it was placed to guard the remains of as fine form, and as fair a face as her own. They shew besides how anxious we are to extend our loves and friendship beyond the grave, and to snatch as much as we can from oblivion—such is our natural love of immortality; but it is here that letters obtain the noblest triumphs; it is here that the swarthy daughters of Cadmus may hang their trophies on high, for when all the pride of the chissel, and the pomp of heraldry yield to the silent touches of time, a single line, a half worn-out inscription, remain faithful to their trust. Blest be the man, that first introduced these strangers into our islands, and may they never want protection or merit. I have not the least doubt, that the finest poem in the English language, I mean Milton's II Penseroso, was composed in the long resounding isle of a mouldering cloister or ivy'd abbey. Yet after all, do you know that I would rather sleep in the southern corner of a little country church yard, than in the tomb of the Capulets. I should like, however, that my dust should mingle with kindred dust. The good old expression, ‘"Fa­mily burying-ground,"’ has something pleasing in it, at least to me. I am glad that Dr. Sheridan is re­turned, and determined to spend the rest of his days in your quarter. I should send him some Botanic writings, which I have in view, if I were not certain that the Irish Hippocrates would rather read nature in [Page x] her own works; with what pleasure I have seen him trace the delicate texture of a lily, and exclaim with the God in humanity, that ‘"Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of those,"’ and you know that our lilies are fairer than new fallen snow. I am extremely sorry that any dispute should arise betwixt you and your brother-in-law; he is, I know, a little hot-headed, especially when he takes a glass, and I am afraid he leans a little too much to the social can. Mr. Peyton, however, is a peace maker, and I am sure, if the whole was laid before him, that he would settle it to your satisfaction, and the sooner the better. You are quite mistaken when you think I don't ad­mire Plutarch, I prefer his writings to those of any other.—Sacra semper excipio, quae in summâ arce locare fas est & aequum nunquam non in manibus ha­benda.

Mr. Balse sets out for Germany in the spring, on a visit to his uncle, who is now in Vienna. The General is very rich, and advancing in years, so that it is probable when he is called to repose on his laurels, that his nephew will be his heir, and I need not tell you that he is worthy of it. I expect, in a day or two, to be introduced to Miss Woffington, our country-woman. She is rapidly rising into thea­tric same; I could wish to publish a few anecdotes of her. She is of low origin, it is true, but talents and nature often avenge themselves on fortune in this respect. The roses of Florida spring out of the finest soil, they are the fairest in the universe, but they emit no fragrance. I recollect that she read her recantation in a little country church, somewhere in the county of Cavan. Mr. Fleming of Stahalmuck, wrote some verses on that occasion. I wish you could procure a copy of them for me as soon as possible. I also wish that you could procure some anecdotes of Mr. Brooke, author of the justly celebrated tra­gedy of Gustavus Vasa.

[Page xi]The remainder of this letter touches on some of Mr. Smith's family affairs, which would not be pro­per to publish.

That the Reader may judge of the epistolary stile of Mr. Burke's correspondent, it may not be unac­ceptable to insert the answer.—


I once read of a King of Spain, Alphonsus, I think, who was cured of a dangerous disease by reading a passage in Livy. Your kind letter had much the same effect on me, for my spirits were so low the moment I received it, that it is not in the power of words to describe my situation; but scarce had I read six lines, when my heart began to emerge, and the sun shone as bright as ever, and if you pity a poor dealer in Syntax, buried alive, I may say, write to me as often as you can. My school is on the increase, it is true, but the people are so poor that they cannot pay. I have thirteen Latin scholars, at a crown a quarter, and six and twenty in writing and figures. I have taken a little farm, of about five acres, so that betwixt the cultivation of my fields, and that of the tender mind, I have very little time on my hands, or my feet, I may say, for sometimes I mingle in the dance. As to Greek, there is no at­tention paid to it in this quarter. Last week I en­deavoured to prevail on Mr. Johnson to permit me to give his nephew a few lessons in the language of Heaven. He said he had no objection, if I could assure him that it would enable Jack to buy a cow or a horse to more advantage. Having cast his eye on a Greek book, which I had in my hand, What, said he, would you have my nephew spend his time in learning these pot-hooks and hangers? Thus you see how learning is prized in this part of the world; and from your own account, I don't find that the Muses are held in such high estimation in England, which I was early taught to consider as the seat of [Page xii] arms and arts. What, then, is to become of their votaries?—neglected, and I am afraid despised!—You'll forgive me, I feel myself so uneasy and de­pressed as often as I think on this matter, that I can­not help dropping a tear on my books—the only source and companions of my solitary hours, so that you see we have little cause to boast of the triumph of letters over the breathing marble, or the proudest trophies of war. Yet I join with you in blessing the memory of the man that first introduced the swarthy daughter of Cadinus into these islands. I think I can recollect some lines on this subject in the form of an aenigma, which, perhaps, you have not seen.

Bis venere novem juvenes ad moenia nostra
Ex aliis, huc ad nos rediere, locis:
Conspicui forma, pariles florentibus annis,
Attamen his minime par decor oris adest.
Nil est egregiae quod dicas de esse cohorti,
Quam quod non potis est edere lingua
Non illis vox est, sed secum quemque godales sonos.
D [...]cunt, ex his, ut verba loquantur, habent;
Sub [...]eto nullum dicunt interprete verbum,
Orbe sed est toto gloria magna verûm.

Whilst I am on this interesting subject, I am sorry to tell you that our old Irish bard, who could conduct those nymphs through all the mystic mazes of poetic dance, resigned his tuneful breath last week. I accompanied his remains to the grave. He has left me all his manuscripts, and I shall select some of the finest passages of them for you, and translate them for you as well as I can.

My school-house was levelled with the ground last week in a storm;—Boreas, of true Russian descent, pays very little respect to learning. The neigh­bours, however, assembled the next day, and raised me a new one, on a more pleasing scite, so that my bare-footed pupils are quite happy, as it is better [Page xiii] wooded, and of course will afford them an oppor­tunity of playing hound and hare with more art. O'Gara has made me a present of a dial, which I intend to erect in the spring. Oh the wit of man, that can even turn a shadow into use, and teach it to point out the sleeting hours, as unsubstantial as itself! But, Paullo majora Canamus. I once read in an old Irish poem, that when Jupiter made man, he gave him his choice either of wings or imagination; he accepted the latter, which shews that our first fabulous father had some brains. Let me rise on this divine plume then, and for once cast a glance into futurity. What do I see? Why I see my wor­thy friend, arrayed in a flowing robe; I hear his voice raised in the cause of innocence and distress; the widow and the orphan bless his name, and the wily villain, hunted down through all the mazes of law. Once more Astrea revisits the earth; I see him raised to the seat of judgment, his ermine as pure as his native snow; the golden scales even balanced in his hands, and the sword of justice tem­pered in the tears of mercy.—The ascent to this eminence is difficult, but

Interpone tuis interdum gaudia curis.

I know you will be glad to hear that Tom and I are on good terms.—You are right, he drinks whiskey as often as he can get it—Ore rotundo, and sometimes

Warm from the still, and faithful to its fires,

too, which is worst of all. Your account of Lon­don, I believe, is very just. All great cities from Rome down are the sinks of vice, and the graves of genius. I admire the idea of your public charities. One of the three impossibilities amongst the ancients was Eripere Jovi fulmen, and amongst the Christians Eripere Deo fulmen iroe, but Charity is the emanation of Heaven!

[Page xiv]As to Miss Woffington, I can collect very little of her. She was born in Dublin, read her recantation in the parish church of Lurgan, near Virginy, in the country of Cavan, before the Reverend Mr. Sterling, who was a great musician. Mr. Fleming did write some verses on that occasion, but it is not easy to procure them, for you know he's a great man—a Justice of Peace, and one of the Grand Jury. They began thus, I think:—

And now the Sun, revolving to the west,
Bequeath'd the weary'd hemisphere to rest.
And now the Moon, in milder glories dight,
Resum'd the peaceful empire of the night.

I can recollect no more, and I don't know that these are correct. There is an anecdote told of her, and I believe there is very little doubt of the truth of it.—

Mr. — having spent some time in Paris, soon after his return happened to dine at Mr. Gore's, where Miss W. captivated the company with her sprightly wit and easy manners; our Parisian hero paid such attention to the glass, that the cloth was scarce removed when the table and chairs exhibited the effects of it, as well as those that were present, particularly Miss W. who, as she happened to be formed of the common mould, was reminded of it, to which she only answered, ‘"Sir, I expected all this, I observed for some time past the yellow clay break­ing through the plaister of Paris."’

As to Mr. Brooke, I believe I can collect you many particulars relative to him.—His father was a clergyman of the Church of England. He is mar­ried to a Miss Mears, a relation of his own. He has lately built a house at Longfield, one of the most desert spots in the county of Meath. He is an en­thusiast in agriculture, and has spent his patrimony in draining lakes, to very little advantage. He has [Page xv] had many children, but Heaven was so indulgent as to call them out of this life just as they began to taste the miseries of it.

Doctor Sheridan is well, and desires to be re­membered to you. I hope that you will write as often as you can. You can't conceive what pleasure it will afford me to correspond with you.

I am, my good Sir, Your's most truly, M. SMITH.

[These letters are taken from copies.]

Notwithstanding the multiplicity of business that naturally devolved on Mr. Burke, as private secre­tary to Mr. Hamilton, he had the happy art of ar­ranging his affairs in such a manner as to devote some moments to the cultivation of literature. He used to pass two evenings every week in conversation with Doctor Thomas Wilson, senior Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and Doctor Blundell, the friends of humanity and letters. The former offered to join with Mr. Burke in a translation of Livy, but the latter preferred reading the sententious Tacitus to the prince of Roman historians, and it appears from many parts of his maxims, &c. that he studied this writer with unwearied attention. Doctor Wilson was considered as a wit, but it seldom rose above a pun. Mr. Burke happened to meet him one even­ing in a short coat, the Doctor immediately ob­serving that his friend did not know him in that guise, exclaimed,

—Brevis esse laboro,
Obscurus fio.

The Doctor passing one day through a street, chanced to espy a person advancing on the same side with whom he did not wish to speak at that time, in consequence of which he crossed to the other side, [Page xvi] where he ran his head almost against another with whom he did not wish to speak at any time, on which he repeated,

—Incidit in Scyllam
Que vult vitare Charybdin.

Notwithstanding the rays of regal favour shone so conspicuously through the Earl of Halifax, that it may be [...]id preferment was in his nod, and notwith­standing the prospects in this respect that opened on every side to Mr Burke, yet he preserved great equanimity of mind, and did not in the least affect the insolence of office. He corresponded with his friends in every line as usual, and received such as visited him with great affection. His character, at this time, was drawn by a lady in the following lines:

With judgment witty, eloquent with sense,
Polite with ease, and free without offence.

This I had from a gentleman, who, to use his own expression, was very well acquainted with Single Speech Hamilton, and Double Speech Burke.

Mr. Hamilton entertained so high an opinion of the talents and integrity of Mr. Burke, that he pro­cured him a pension of three hundred a year on the Irish establishment. On their return to England, they lived on terms of the greatest intimacy, till the Protegé, began to think that his patron did not exert all the influence he still possessed to usher him into life; several letters passed between them on this subject, which ended in the dissolution of their political friendship, and in order to lessen the debt of gratitude, Mr. Burke resigned his pension, which was transferred to Captain Jephson, author of the tragedy of Braganza, &c.

As Mr. Burke had now entered on the arduous study of politics, he was determined not to relinquish the pursuit, in hopes that some favourable opportunity would present itself, which, if taken at the tide, might [Page xvii] lead on to fortune and preferment. The weakness and ill-timed measures of the cabinet, with respect to the American colonies, threatened the downfal of the administration; it lasted, however, much longer than was expected; at length it was obliged to give way. Accordingly, on the 13th of April, 1765, the Marquis of Rockingham, William Dowdeswell, Esq Lord John Cavendish, Thomas Townshend, Esq and George Onslow, Esq were appointed Lords of the Treasury; Mr. Dowdeswell Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Duke of Grafton and General Con­way, Secretaries of State. The Marquis felt himself in want of a private Secretary; Mr. Burke was re­commended to fill that confidential situation by Mr. Fitzherbert, the father of the present Lord St. Helens. Mr. Burke, in a short time, rendered himself so use­ful, that he was brought into parliament for the bo­rough of Wendover, through the interest of Lord Verney. As the Marquis knew that fortune had only hitherto smiled on Mr. Burke deceitfully, he lent him £20,000 on his bond, as the most delicate mode of conferring such a savour. Mr. Burke immedi­ately purchased his elegant seat near Beaconsfield with this sum, as an occasional retreat from the ‘"uneasy seat of high desires,"’ or the conflict of passions, and happy would it have been for the world, perhaps, if he had thrown himself into the arms of phylosophy, and spent the rest of his days in the cultivation of those arts which elevate and embellish human nature. But our young statesman had tasted of power, and preferred the noise and intrigue of party to lettered ease and retirement in his enchanting Tusculum.

Mr Burke may be now considered as a fair public character, and therefore when the ‘"History of the Man,"’ to use Lord Bolingbroke's expression, is also the ‘"History of the State,"’ great judgment is re­quired in selecting, and ability in composing, to produce a full, uniform, and compacted piece. I do not aspire to such qualifications, nor does it fall [Page xviii] within my plan. I shall therefore only notice the pro [...] events of his political life, &c. and leave the detail to abler pens.

As the Duke of Cumberland had recommended the new ministry, he constantly assisted them with his advice; an advantage, which, it is very probable, the nation could not have enjoyed under any other ministry, and which, alone, might compensate all the defects, if real, which the friends of the old ministry were continually finding in them. This advantage, however, though of continuance enough to be felt by the nation, did not last as long as the nation could have wished, even under men of equal integrity and capacity with the present, and greater experience. Whilst his Royal Highness was preparing one even­ing to assist at one of those councils, frequently held to put matters in a way of being more speedily dis­patched by the Privy Council, and without whose assistance the Privy Council business must go on slowly, as the parliam [...]nt business without that of the Committees, he was seized with a sudden disorder, of which he had some symptoms the evening before, and in a sit of shivering sunk senseless, almost instan­taneously, in the arms of the Earl of Albemarle, on the gist of October, 1765*.

It is presumed that it would be almost an apology of itself for the introduction of the following sketch of parties, &c. at this period, to say that it came from the pen of Mr. Burke. It will also serve as an early specimen of his powers as an historian, and even of his moderation.—

‘"At the conclusion of our last volume, we saw the nation involved in the most distressful circumstances that could well be imagined; our manufacturers at a stand, commerce almost totally annihilated, provi­sions extravagantly dear, and a numerous populace unemployed, without the means of procuring a live­lihood. [Page xix] Such, and so gloomy was the prospect that opened at home upon us, along with the year; nor did the view become more pleasing by extending it across the Atlantic, where the colonies exhibited nothing but scenes of anarchy and confusion, where licentiousness was carried almost to the highest pitch that it could possibly admit, without assuming another name; whilst the profligate and abandoned (as is usually the case in civil commotions) under the spe­cious pretext and mask of liberty and the common cause, gave a loose to their own unruly passions, and committed all those exorbitances which the vul­gar are so prone to, when under any pretence they are allowed to assemble in bodies, and through any relaxation of the laws, they have not the fears of immediate punishment upon them. We have before observed, that those of an higher rank amongst them did not take any pains to allay the ferment; it is probable that many of the more serious of them condemned in their own minds several acts that were committed, but did not think proper to damp a spirit, which, however irregularly or improperly exerted, they, perhaps, at that time, thought it conducive to their designs to keep alive.’

‘"But though a violent resentment supported the spirit of the colonists, they could not but sensibly feel the inconveniencies which an intire stoppage of trade must occasion among a people who had hitherto sub­sisted by commerce. However, their warehouses were full of British goods, for which they had not paid; and the many resources of so vast an extent of country, abounding in the most essential articles of life, prevented them from feeling so much immediate distress as our own manufacturers and labouring poor at home.’

‘"It must be observed, that the enormous sums owing to our merchants, in the colonies, added greatly to the difficulties the public were under, and severely afflicted the trading and manufacturing part [Page xx] of the community. These debts, amounting to seve­ral millions sterling, the Americans absolutely re­fused to pay, pleading in excuse their utter inability, which plea, it appears, the merchants admitted to be reasonable.’

‘"As the nation was never, perhaps, in a more cri­tical situation, so, of consequence, no administration ever had greater difficulties to encounter than the new one. They were under an immediate necessity of enforcing the stamp-act by fire and sword, or else of moving its immediate repeal in parliament. In the former case, though there was no doubt of the ability of Great Britain to crush, or even extir­pate the colonies, yet such a decision, if not looked upon as absolute suicide, must, at least, be consi­dered as making use of one arm to cut off the other.’

‘"Fatal were the consequences, which it was foreseen and foretold, would attend such an attempt, and it was obvious, that if such consequences should ensue, the first framers and promoters of the obnoxious laws, would have been entirely forgot in the general odium and execration, which would have fallen solely upon the ministers, who, by enforcing such [...]inous measures, had wrought the destruction of their country.’

‘"On the other hand, if the act should be repealed, a colourable appearance was not wanting to charge them with sacrificing the dignity of the crown, toge­ther with the honour and interest of the nation to their own irresolution, or else to a causeless animo­sity which it would be said they bore to their pre­decessors, and a blind opposition to all their mea­sures.’

‘"The loss of their illustrious friend and patron, the Duke of Cumberland, seemed, at this period, to be truly critical to the ministry; his influence, his authority, his good sense, his patriotism, and the high regard the public held him in, would have added greatly to their strength and security.’

[Page xxi] ‘"Thus situated, they had an opposition to encoun­ter, consisting of gentlemen, several of whom had held the first employments in the kingdom, and who, for abilities, experience, knowledge of business, property, and connexions, were very reputable, and therefore truly formidable.’

‘"Some of these gentlemen seemed obliged in ho­nour, as well as through opinion, and a spirit of opposition, to embark warmly in vindication and support of measures which had originally been their own, for which it may be supposed they had the natural partiality of a parent, and in defence of which they were determined to dispute every inch of ground with the ministry. Some also joined them through principle.’

‘"They thought that the insolence of the Americans deserved chastisement, where, otherwise, the hardship of their circumstances might merit relief. Others there were who gave themselves no trouble as to the rectitude of the American taxation, but who would have been very glad that their own burthens at home could be at all lightened, by any sums, that could be drawn in any manner, out of the pockets of the colonists; and, in general, it may be sup­posed that the lovers and assertors of high prerogative naturally chimed in with the rest, upon their own principles. There were not a few also who first kept aloof from, and in due time declared against the ministry, upon some symptoms which appeared early, of their wanting that countenance, which, as it hath been favourable or adverse, has determined the good or ill fortune of the several successive systems of administration for some years past. This part of the opposition was, for very obvious reasons, by much the most dangerous.’

‘"To balance this powerful opposition, the admi­nistration consisted of gentlemen, who, though many of them were young in office, were yet extremely high in estimation; whose characters were clear, whose integrity was far above suspicion, and whose [Page xxii] abilities seemed to grow with the difficulties of the business they were engaged in; their constant adhe­rence also to the cause of liberty had procured them the confidence and good will of the public, both of which they enjoyed in a very eminent degree*. They had, besides, some other advantages, as they were not bound to the support of measures at all events, merely because they had planned or advised them; so they could weigh matters with coolness and im­partiality, and judge without prejudice or passion; at least they had the happiness not to be obliged to act systematically wrong.’

‘"They appear, accordingly, to have avoided, as well as in matters so critical, perhaps, they could be avoided, the two extremes; in one, which it was apprehended they must inevitably have struck, they neither precipitated affairs in America by the rashness of their councils, nor did they sacrifice the dignity of the crown or nation by irresolution or weakness; and the firmness, as well as temper, which appeared in their dispatches to the different governors, when examined by the House, did them the greatest honour. By preserving this medium, by suspending their own judgment in a matter of so great import­ance, till they had obtained that of the representa­tives of the nation, they still left it in the power of the supreme legislature to use healing measures, and did not urge their fellow subjects, through despera­tion, to the committal of such acts as could not be forgiven.’

‘"Notwithstanding the prudence of this conduct, it was severely animadverted on by the opposite party. These gentlemen would have the most coercive means made use of, for forcing the new laws and regulations, in which themselves had so great a share, fully sensible of the disgrace that must be reflected on them by a repeal; it is not unnatural to suppose that they wished to see the executive power [Page xxiii] so deeply engaged before the meeting of parliament that the legislative could not then in honour recede from the support of it. Upon this principle, the plan of moderation that had been adopted, was op­posed with the greatest acrimony, and the severest invectives pointed at administration, for not having immediately employed troops and ships of war to enforce the laws in such a manner, as the outrage­ousness of the resistance, and the importance of the authority which was resisted, did, as they asserted, indispensably require.’

‘"In the mean time the American affairs were be­come a general subject of discussion, and numberless pamphlets were wrote on both sides of the question; in general, both sides were guilty of the same fault, though in the most opposite extremes; the advocates for the colonies carried the idea of liberty to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, while their antagonists seemed to imagine, that a person forfeited every birthright and privilege of an Englishman by going to live in America. They both also proved a great deal too much, while the former seemed to consider the colonies rather as independent states, in a sort of equal alliance with the mother country, than as deminions depending upon and belonging to her; they furnished the strongest reasons why that irregu­lar spirit of enthusiasm should be timely checked, by making them sensible of their dependence.’

‘"On the other hand, the enemies of the colonies, by exaggerating their power, opulence, and popula­rity, sufficiently proved the necessity of treating them with tenderness, as if their calculations were allowed to be half founded, it must be impossible to retain them long in subjection by any other means.’

‘"In this situation were affairs, (17th Dec.) when the parliament met in the latter end of the year 1765. Particular notice was taken from the throne of the importance of the matters which had occurred in North America, and which were given as a reason [Page xxiv] for assembling the two houses sooner than was in­tended, that they might have an opportunity to issue the necessary writs on the many vacancies that had happened since the last session, and proceed, imme­diately after the recess, to the consideration of the weighty matters that should then be laid before them, for which purpose the fullest accounts of the Ameri­can affairs should be prepared for their inspection. Most of the friends to administration had vacated their seats in consequence of the late changes, so that by death and promotions, there were forty-one seats now vacant. Some thought it would be ungenerous to make any strictures upon the conduct of the mi­nisters, till they should be in a situation to vindicate or explain it, in their proper persons as members of the house: it appears, however, that others were of a contrary opinion. An address having been re­solved in answer to the king's speech, a motion was made by the opposition, that his majesty might be addressed to give orders, that copies of all lettters, papers, orders or instructions, sent from the Secretary of State's office, or the other principal departments, to the governors and officers of the crown in North America, together with copies of all answers thereto, and of all other papers relative to the late disturbance there, to the execution of the stamp duty, to the enforcing of the law, and to the quelling of riotous and tumultuous disorders, should be laid before the house. This motion seemed the more extraordinary, as it had been declared from the throne, that the fullest accounts of these affairs should be laid before parliament.’

‘"The house probably thought the proposition not very decent with regard to the crown, nor candid with regard to the ministry, in their situation at that time, so that on a sharp debate, the previous question being put, it was carried in the negative by a ma­jority of 70 to 35. The house having then issued the necessary writs, adjourned for the holidays."’

[Page xxv]Mr. Burke was thus brought into parliament, at a time that a single glance, even at the map of our territories, was almost sufficient to dismay a young senator—our extensive colonies in America, our pos­sessions in the east—our navy triumphant in every quarter of the globe, and the joyful sound of victory in our ears, and all under the auspices of a youthful monarch, the dawn of whose administration promised a refulgent day. But these appear to have been so many objects that tended rather to excite than to dismay our young senator his mind was well stored with reading, his imagination glowing, his heart, no do doubt, filled with gratitude to those that had raised him to that exalted situation, and every pulse beating high with emulation to distinguish him­self by his tongue, as he had already done so by his pen. The first question of deep consideration that called forth his eloquence, was ‘"on the impo­licy of taxing the colonies."’ The very first speech he made on this subject, was so much admired, that the late Lord Chatham, who immediately followed him in the debate, said, ‘"he should not go any fur­ther into the detail of the business, as that young member (alluding to Mr. Burke) had forcibly and eloquently anticipated every thing he had to offer on the subject."’ This compliment was felt by the house, and insured Mr. Burke a very patient hearing as often as he rose to deliver his opinion. The next question that involved the consideration of parlia­ment, was a bill for the ‘"total repeal of the stamp-act, brought on in the spring of 1766."’ This mo­mentous question furnished Mr. Burke with a full opportunity of bringing all his oratorial powers into the field; it must be confessed that he conducted them with all the energy of a youthful commander, and all the prudence of an experienced General, till victory, after a dubious contest, at length perched on the banners of administration. The universal joy which pervaded the nation on this occasion, cannot [Page xxvi] be better expressed than in his own words. ‘"I remember, Sir, (addressing himself to the speaker) with a melancholy pleasure, the situation of the Honourable Gentleman (the late Field Marshal Con­way) who made the motion for the repeal of the stamp-act. In that crisis, when the whole trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies with a trembling and anxious expectation, waited almost to a winter's return of light, their fate from your resolutions. When at length you had deter­mined in their favour, and your doors thrown open, showed them the figure of their deliverer in well earnest triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involun­tary burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long absent father; they clung about him as captives about their redeemer; all England, all America, joined in his applause; nor did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens; hope elevated, and joy brightened his crest; I stood near him, and his face, to use the expression of the scripture of the first Martyr, ‘'his face was as if it had been the face of an angel.'’ I do not know how others feel; but if I had stood in that situation, I never would have exchanged it for all that kings in their profusion could bestow."’—Vide Mr. Burke's speech, 19th April, 1794, 4 to Ed. p. 36.

Hitherto matters had gone on in the most successful manner with the ministry; they had weathered a se­vere, dangerous, and stormy winter; they had gained every point they attempted in parliament; and had secured the confidence and good will of the public in a very high degree. They had besides acquired some credit in their foreign transactions; they had concluded an advantageous commercial treaty with the Empress of Russia; they settled the long contested affair of the Canada bills, to the satisfaction of the owners of them; and made some progress in re­viving [Page xxvii] the long neglected affair of the Manilla ransom.

From the time that the Right Hon. Henry Belson Legge, was discharged from the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, in May 1761, and Lord Temple and Mr. Pitt resigned the 18th of September that year, no less than 523 changes of places, outs and inns, happened, by the fluctuating of ministerial in­fluence, a circumstance hardly to be parallelled in any annals.

Those who had not considered the fluctuating state of administration for some years back, might have been apt to imagine, that in consequence of so fair a beginning, they were securely fixed in their present situation.

It was then, to the great surprise of the nation, that, notwithstanding these appearances, a sudden and unexpected change took place in the ministry. For on the 30th of July, the Duke of Grafton was ap­pointed to the head of the treasury, in the room of the Marquis of Rockingham; the Earl of Shelburne, Secretary of State, in the room of the Duke of Richmond; Lord Camden, High Chancellor, in the room of the Earl of Northington; Right Hon. Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the room of the Right Hon. William Dowdeswell; and the Right Hon. William Pitt, (created some days before Viscount Pynsent and Earl of Chatham) Lord Privy Seal. Many other changes took place both at home and subsequently in all the different depart­ments of state.

The patriotic opinion which has been conceived of the late ministry, was much increased by the dis­interestedness they had shewn upon quitting their places; as they retired without a place, pensions, or reversion secured to themselves or their friends. The sense which the public held of their services, was also testified by the numerous addresses which were presented to the Marquis of Rockingham upon that occasion. On the other hand, many of those who [Page xxviii] were most attached to the Earl of Chatham regretted, that instead of weakening and dividing an interest, which the public wished to be supported, and con­tributing to remove a ministry, in which they had placed a confidence; he had most rather, by coin­ciding and acting along with them, contributed to give them that permanency, which was so much de­sired and wanted. There were other reasons which contributed greatly to lessen the popularity of which the noble Lord had before possessed so boundless a share; among those, his quitting the House of Com­mons and accepting peerage, was not the least; and his acting alone with, and bringing into place and power, persons who had the misfortune to be sup­posed of a party, which had been long held very obnoxious, contributed its full share*,

The following is Mr. Burke's own account of his introduction into public life, as well as the share which administration took in the repeal of the stamp-act.

‘Sir, I will answer him (Mr. Cornwall) as clearly as I am able, and with great openness; I have no­thing to conceal. In the year sixty-five, being in a very private station, far enough from any line of business, and not having the honour of a seat in this house, it was my fortune, unknowing and unknown to the then ministry, by the intervention of a com­mon friend, to become connected with a very noble person (Marquis of Rockingham) and at the head of the treasury department. It was indeed in a situa­tion of little rank and no consequence, suitable to the mediocrity of my talents and pretensions. But a situation near enough to enable me to see, as well as others, what was going on; and I did see in that noble person such sound principles, such an enlarge­ment of mind, such clear and sagacious sense, and such unshaken fortitude, as have bound me, as well as others much better than me, by an inviolable at­tachment [Page xxix] to him from that time forward. Sir, Lord Rockingham very early in that summer received a strong representation from many weighty English merchants and manufacturers, from governors of provinces and commanders of men of war, against almost the whole of the American commercial regu­lations, and particularly with regard to the total ruin which was threatened to the Spanish trade. I believe, Sir, the noble Lord soon saw his way in this business. But he did not rashly determine against acts which it migh be supposed were the result of much delibera­tion. However, Sir, he scarcely began to open the ground, when the whole veteran body of office took the alarm. A violent outcry of all (except those who knew and felt the mischief) was raised against any alteration. On one hand, his attempt was a direct violation of treaties and public law.—On the other, the act of navigation and all the corps of trade laws were drawn up in array against it.’

‘"The first step the noble Lord took, was to have the opinion of his excellent, learned, and ever lamented friend, the late Mr. Yorke, then Attorney General, on the point of law. When he knew that formally and officially, which in substance he had known be­fore, he immediately dispatched orders to redress the grievance. But I will say it for the then minister, he is of that constitution of mind, that I know he would have issued, on the same critical occasion, the very same orders, if the acts of trade had been, as they were not, directly against him; and would have chearfully submitted to the equity of parliament for his indemnity.’

‘"On the conclusion of this business of the Spanish trade, the news of the troubles, on account of the stamp-act, arrived in England. It was not until the end of October that these accounts were received. No sooner had the sound of that mighty tempest reached us in England, than the whole of the then opposition, instead of feeling humbled by the un­happy [Page xxx] issue of their measures, seemed to be infinitely elated, and cried out, that the ministry, from envy to the glory of their predecessors, were prepared to repeal the stamp-act. Near nine years after, the ho­nourable gentleman takes quite opposite ground, and now [...] me to put my hand to my heart, and say, whether the ministry had resolved on the repeal till a considerable time after the meeting of parlia­ment. Though I do not very well know what the honourable gentleman wishes to infer from the ad­mission, or from the denial of this fact, on which he so earnestly adjures me; I do put my hand on my heart, and assure him, that they did not come to a re­solution directly to repeal. They weighed this matter as its difficulty and importance required. They con­sidered maturely among themselves. They consulted with all who could give advice or information. It was not determined until a little before the meeting of parliament; but it was determined, and the main lines of their own plan marked out, before that meeting. Two questions arose (I hope I am not going into a narrative troublesome to the House)’

[A cry of, go on, go on.]

‘"The first of the two considerations was, whether the repeal should be total, or whether only partial; taking out every thing burthensome and productive, and reserving only an empty acknowledgment, such as a stamp on cards or dice. The other question was, on what principle the act should be repealed? On this head also two principles were started. One, that the legislative rights of this country, with regard to America, were not entire, but had certain restric­tions and limitations. The other principle was, that taxes of this kind were contrary to the fundamental principles of commerce on which the colonies were founded; and contrary to every idea of political equity, by which equity we are bound, as much as possible to extend the spirit and benefit of the British constitution to every part of the British dominions. [Page xxxi] The option, both of the measure, and of the prin­ciple of repeal, was made before the session; and I wonder how any one can read the king's speech at the opening of that session, without seeing in that speech both the repeal and the declaratory act very sufficiently crayoned out. Those who cannot see this can see nothing.’

‘Surely the honourable gentleman will not think that a great deal less time than was then employed, ought to have been spent in deliberation; when he considers that the news of the troubles did not arrive till towards the end of October. The parliament sat to fill the vacancies on the 14th day of December, and on business the 14th of the following January."—Speech on American Taxation.

Mr. Burke then proceeded to state the principle on which administration acted in the repeal of this act.

‘"A partial repeal,"’ says he, ‘"or as the bon ton of the court then was, a modification, would have satisfied a timid, unsystematic, procrastinating mi­nistry, as such a measure has since done such a mi­nistry. A modification is the constant resource of weak, undeciding minds. To repeal by a denial of our right to tax in the preamble (and this too did not want advisers), would have cut, in the heroic stile, the Gordian knot with a sword. Either measure would have cost no more than a day's debate. But when the total repeal was adopted, and adopted on principles of policy, of equity, and of commerce, this plan made it necessary to enter into many and difficult measures. It becomes necessary to open a very large field of evidence commensurate to these extensive views. *** I think the enquiry lasted in the committee for six weeks; and at its conclusion this house, by an independent, noble, spirited, and un­expected majority,—by a majority that will redeem all the acts ever done by majorities in parliament,—in the teeth of all the old mercenary Swiss of state,—in despite of all the speculators and augurs of poli­tical [Page xxxii] events,—in defiance of the whole embattled le­gion of veteran pensioners and practised instruments of a court, gave a total repeal to the stamp-act, and (if it had been so permitted) a lasting peace to this whole empire."’

Mr. Burke then adds, ‘"if the conduct of ministry in prop [...]g the repeal, had arisen from timidity with regard to themselves, it would have been greatly to be condemned. Interested timidity disgraces as much in this cabinet, as personal timidity does in the field. But timidity, with regard to the well being of our country, is heroic virtue. The noble Lord (Marquis of Rockingham) who then conducted affairs, and his worthy colleagues, whilst trembling at the prospects of such distresses as you have since brought upon yourselves, were not afraid steadily to look in the face that glaring and dazzling influence, at which the eyes of eagles have blanched. He looked in the face one of the ablest, and let me say, not the most scrupulous oppositions that perhaps ever was in this house, and withstood it, unaided by even one of the usual supports of administration."’

Short a time as Mr. Burke was in office, he took care to render himself master of something more than what Mr. Canning calls the mechanical part of it, and accordingly we find him in opposition unfold the intrigues of the new administration with uncommon art and dexterity—nor was he sparing of ridicule, which he always [...]ot with unerring hand;—in short it may be said that he brightened from collision, and gathered strength even from defeat. Those that wrestle with us, as he says himself, strengthen us,—nor did he confine his attacks to the senate, for he and his bro­ther Richard, assisted by his relative William Burke, published several papers in defence of the Rocking­ham party, in the Gazetteer, under various signatures, from the year 1766 to 1768. Some of those papers were written in answer to Mr. Scott, of Cambridge, who appeared at the time under the signature of Ante­sejanus. [Page xxxiii] As Mr. Burke was naturally of an active disposition of mind, his moments were constantly employed, either in consulting the best writers, conversing with the most intelligent on the most useful subjects, occasionally pruning his trees, or directing his rivulets. His own account of his studies will be preferred to mine.

‘"When,"’ said he, ‘"I first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was, that gave this country the rank it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two sources—our constitution and commerce. Both these I have spared no study to understand, and no endea­vour to support."—Speech to the Electors of Bristol.

In 1766, Mr. Burke paid a visit to Ireland, where he found a number of persons, who had discovered that they were related to him, since he became a British Senator. He did not, however, forget his old friends in the long list of his new relations—he visited all, received all with affability and good na­ture, retraced with rapture the scenes of his boyish days—and returned to his duty in the latter end of March 1768; in the same year he was returned at the general election for the borough of Malton in Yorkshire, through the interest of the Marquis, his patron.

The session of 1768 was opened with a clouded prospect. The high price of provisions was very severely felt by those who earned them with the sweat of their brow; the restraining act relative to the East India company; the Nullum Tempus Bill, afforded ample room for discussion. Mr. Burke took a very active part in all those questions, in which he was very ably supported by Mr. Dowdeswell, Mr. Dun­ning, (late Lord Ashburton) and Colonel Barré. Such union of talents was equal to the discussion of any subject that could possibly be advanced. Mr. [Page xxxiv] Burke was always found on his post, the first on the breach, and the last on the mine. The brilliancy of his talents was so universally felt and acknowledged, that he was ranked as the leader of the Rockingham party.

Sometimes his zeal, and the natural warmth of his temper, would urge him to press a point beyond its due bounds, which afforded his opponents a tempo­rary triumph;—temporary indeed! for the ease and ingenuity with which he used to recover his previous position, evinced the resources of his mind, and the subtilty of his imagination, which induced the great Lord Chatham to say on one of these occasions, that Burke could only be wounded by Burke.

Mr. Burke, it is true, enlisted under the ban­ners of party, but as that party may be called the guardian of the constitution, he was left at full liberty to suggest such measures as would forward or secure the most patriotic objects; in short he was left to the full display of his own powers and opinions, and rather led than followed in almost every debate.

The Duke of Grafton was daily losing ground; an administration, ‘"so chequered and speckled, a piece of joinery so crossly indented, and so whimsi­cally dovetailed,"’ could not support itself against the eloquence of Mr. Burke, and the pen of Junius. Accordingly, on the 28th of January, 1770, his Grace resigned his situation, as first Lord of the Treasury, and was succeeded by the Right Hon. Frederick Lord North. Mr. Burke describes the situation of public affairs at this period in the follow­ing words:—

‘"Nobody, I believe, will consider it merely as the language of spleen or disappointment, if I say, that there is something particularly alarming in the present conjuncture. There is hardly a man in or out of power who holds any other language. That government is at once dreaded and contemned; that the laws are despoiled of all their respect and [Page xxxv] salutary terrors; that their inaction is a subject of ridicule, and their exertion of abhorrence; that rank, and office, and title, and all the solemn plau­sibilities of the world, have lost their reverence and effect; that our foreign politics are as much de­ranged as our domestic oeconomy; that our depen­dencies are slackened in their affection, and loosened from their obedience; that we know neither how to yield nor how to enforce; that hardly any thing above or below, abroad or at home, is sound and entire; but that disconnexion and confusion, in office, in parties, in families, in parliament, in the nation, prevail beyond the disorders of any former time:—these are facts universally admitted and la­mented."’

The Earl of Chatham saw things in the same alarm­ing point of view. ‘"At my time of life,"’ says that venerable statesman*, ‘"loaded as I am with infirmi­ties, I might, perhaps, have stood excused, if I had continued in retirement, and never taken a part again in public affairs. But the alarming state of the nation forced me to come forward, once more, and to exe­cute that duty which I owe to God, to my sovereign, and to my country, and I am determined to perform it at the risk of my life;"’ and in these three points of view, it must be confessed, that he performed his vow as a man, an hereditary counsellor of the crown, and a patriot, nobly falling with a falling state; but though he raised his voice to Heaven, and poured the balm of conciliation from his lips, that warning voice was not attended to, and his venerable figure, and the fire of his imagination, were the only things that seem to have made an impression on those that heard him. His Lordship's sentiments, relative to America, were well known previous to that day. Speak­ing, however, of that continent in the course of his [Page xxxvi] speech, ‘"He lamented the unhappy measure which had divided the colonies from the mother country, and which, he feared, had drawn them into excesses which he could not justify. He owned his natural partiality to America, and was inclined to make al­lowance even for those excesses; that they ought to be treated with tenderness; for in his sense they were ebullitions of liberty, which broke out upon the skin, and were a sign, if not of perfect health, at least, of a vigorous constitution, and must not be driven in too suddenly, least they should strike to the heart. He professed himself entirely ignorant of the present state of America, therefore should be cautious of giving any opinion of the measures fit to be pursued with respect to that country. That it was a maxim he had observed through life, when he had lost way, to stop short, lest by proceeding with­out knowledge, and advancing (as he feared a noble Duke had done) from one false step to another, he should wind himself into an inextricable labyrinth, and never be able to recover the right road again. That as the House had yet no materials before them, by which they might judge of the proceedings of the colonies, he strongly objected to their passing that heavy censure upon them, which was conveyed in the word unwarrantable, contained in the proposed address; that it was passing a sentence without hear­ing the cause, or being acquainted with facts; might expose the proceedings of the House to be received abroad with indifference or disrespect; that if un­warrantable meant any thing, it must mean illegal, and how could their Lordships decide that proceed­ings, which had not been stated to them in any shape, were contrary to law; that what he had heard of the combinations in America, and of their suc­cess in supplying themselves with goods of their own manufacture, had, indeed, alarmed him much for the commercial interests of the mother country; but he could not conceive in what sense they could be [Page xxxvii] called illegal, much less how a declaration of that House could remove the evil; that they were dan­gerous, indeed, and he greatly wished to have that word substituted for unwarrantable; that the discon­tent of two millions of people deserved considera­tion, and the foundation of it ought to be removed; that this was the true way of putting a stop to com­binations and manufactures in that country; but that he reserved himself to give his opinion more parti­cularly upon this subject, when authentic informa­tion of the state of America should be laid before the House.’

‘"That we should be cautious how we invaded the liberties of any part of our fellow-subjects, how­ever remote in situation, or unable to make resist­ance; that liberty was a plant that deserved to be cherished; that he loved the tree, and wished well to every branch of it; that like the vine in scrip­ture, it had spread from East to West, had embraced whole nations with its branches, and sheltered them under its leaves; that the Americans had purchased their liberty at a dear rate, since they had quitted their native country, and gone in search of freedom to a desert."’

In 1772 and 1773, the East-India affairs were submitted to the attention and consideration of par­liament; two committees were appointed to examine and report on this subject. The first was an open committee, and the second a secret one. The former was very slow in their proceedings, and the latter very hasty. This contrast furnished Mr. Burke with abundant pleasantry. In discussing a subject of such magnitude, he gave evident proofs that it was not beyond his reach; nay, that he was very intimate with the most intricate parts of it, but majorities triumphed over arguments. The House having re­solved itself into a committee on a bill for leaving the Company in possession of their territorial posses­sions [Page xxxviii] in India for a time to be limited, Mr. Burke addressed the Chairman thus:—

‘"Mr. Bacon, you are every thing, but what you should be; you are chairman of a committee in the air—we are a committee of imagination, of idea, of every thing but reality; and we might as well be employed in building castles in the air. But, Sir, I cannot help most seriously remarking, how amazingly the opinions of men change! What has now taken place is a special instance of it. When a proposition comes originally from this side of the House, it is heard with disgust, and treated with contempt; such rea­sons, however, accompany it, as convince even the antagonists of the idea: it passes through the political elaboratory; the sun shines from the treasury-bench on it; it is given to the House, and heard with ap­plause. This, Sir, I have seen more than once; and any member who will take the trouble of re­collecting what I have advanced more than once within these ten days, must also plainly perceive it now adopted, in a manner which shews the conviction of that bench but clogged, damned, with attendants which seem coined to destroy all the good that could result from the other. Why will not the noble Lord at once declare, or give up the right of the crown to the territorial acquisitions? Why is that fantastic right to hang eternally over their heads, in order to destroy that very solidity which he affects to give the Company?’

‘"Sir, I was answered in a former committee, that I did not adhere to the question; but, Sir, it was a reply of ignorance alone. If the proposers of a motion will pass the plain road that leads to common sense, in order to wander into a rotten bog, the man who calls them back again, and tells them they will soon be up to the chin in that ground, is he the man who runs from the question? The noble Lord, in order to come immediately to his motion, passes over the previous question of right, the consequence of which is, all his deductions are actions of absurdity— [Page xxxix] all his propositions strings of contradictions. Let him declare that right, on the strength of which he seizes with the hand of power, and the House will support him. If he gives it up, it will support him. Let him offer a purge, you will swallow it—a vomit, it will go down—an alterative or astringent—an acid or an alkali—all one—down it goes. While the noble Lord finds we have such a swallow, let him give the pill at once without gilding—let him fairly declare the degree of this accursed right, which hangs thus in terrorem on your trade to the east."’

Mr. Burke had now shone with encreasing lustre as the steady advocate of civil liberty, and, in order to compleat his character as a patriot and senator, he availed himself of the first opportunity to evince his attachment to the cause of religious liberty.

On the eighteenth of February, 1773, Sir Harry Houghton moved for leave to bring in a bill for the relief of Protestant Dissenters, in sundry matters re­lating to subscription. It was vehemently opposed by Sir William Baggot on two grounds, first, be­cause the penal laws against such of the Dissenters as did not subscribe were never put in force; and, secondly, because he believed that the attempt to set aside the thirty-nine articles was agitated with a de­sign unfavourable to Christianity, Mr. Burke, in reply, spoke nearly to the following effect:

‘"I propose, Sir, taking notice of what fell from the honourable gentleman's lips, considered in a two-fold view. He advanced the following positions, that the Dissenters now enjoyed liberty by connivance, and that toleration was an attack upon Christianity.—The Dissenters enjoy liberty by connivance! My good Sir, what sort of liberty is this? What, Sir, is liberty by connivance but a temporary relaxation of slavery? Is this a sort of liberty calculated for the meridian of England? Montesquieu places liberty in an exemp­tion from fear. Are persons who enjoy it by conni­vance only—are they exempt from fear, and divested [Page xl] of apprehension? To talk then, Sir, of a connivance, is to talk only of a temporary suspension of tyranny. You are desirous to keep the rod hanging over the Dissenters' heads at the very instant that you assure them they shall never smart under its stripes. Why then at once not set their hearts at rest, by removing the impending danger? Why not release them from the dread of these penal statutes, the cruelty of which so shocks your generous natures, that you think it incumbent on you to declare they never should be put in [...]o execution? The question, Sir, answers itself; and to cavil at its propriety is to carp at truth and elude conviction.’

‘"As to what the honourable gentleman let fall concerning toleration being an attack upon Christi­anity, it is an assertion so contrary to truth and his­tory, that it scarcely stands in need of refutation. By toleration Christianity flourished. Whilst the eastern and western churches were tolerant, they were illustrious; they were venerated; they were held in sacred estimation. When the Romish Church cast aside its toleration, and had recourse to threatenings, slaughter and persecutions; commotions ensued; ecclesiastical anarchy prevailed; and the kingdom of darkness was erected on the ruins of Christianity. Instead of combating the common foe, Christians combated each other. Instead of taking arms against the grand deceivers, they strove by every deceptious art to harrass and torment those whom they ought to have cherished and loved as brethren. In short the want of toleration has lessened the number of be­lievers, and for that reason I would have all Pro­testants united, that we may be the better enabled to make a common cause against infidels of every deno­mination.’

‘"The Church of England, Sir, has not a firmer friend than myself—I wish her illustrious—I wish her head may reach that Heaven to which she would conduct us—But I would also wish her family as [Page xli] numerous as possible—I would wish a brotherly affection to prevail among her offspring—I would have Christians united—I would have them join in every attempt to crush the powers of darkness, and trample under foot the foe to God and man; like a mother, tender of her children, I would have the Church, with wide extended arms, receive in her bosom every believing son; not, with unnatural austerity, reproach her offspring, and drive them to seek for ease, for pleasure, and for comfort, in the harlot lap of infidelity."’

This speech made a great impression in and out of doors, which is not to be wondered at, if we consider the height from whence it fell; surely it was time that Religion should cease to be a crime, and that punishment should not reach those that were guilty of no other. Persecution, as the late Earl of Mansfield said, may make hypocrites and martyrs, but never made a real convert; and it is strange that some persons should imagine that the thirty-nine articles of the Church of England should be fenced with oaths and perjuries. This would be to plant reeds round an oak to defend it from a storm. When penal laws are repealed in the heart, they ought not to be found on the statute books.

Sir Henry Houghton's motion was very favour­ably received; leave was given to bring in the bill, which passed the Commons without a division, but was lost in the House of Lords on the second read­ing, by a great majority.

An act was passed on the 25th of March, 1774, called the Boston Port Bill, which threw the inhabi­tants of Massachusett's into the greatest consternation. The town of Boston passed a resolution, expressing their sense of this oppressive measure, and a desire that all the colonies would concur to stop all im­portation from Great Britain. Most of the colonies entered into spirited resolutions on this occasion, to unite with Massachusett's in a firm opposition to the unconstitutional measures of the parliament. The [Page xlii] first of June, the day on which the Port Bill was to take place, was appointed to be kept as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, throughout the colo­nies, to seek the divine direction and aid, in that critical and gloomy junction of affairs.

During the height of the consternation and confu­sion which the Boston Bort Bill occasioned; at the very time when a town meeting was sitting to consi­der of it, General Gage, who had been appointed to the government of Massachusett's, arrived in the harbour. His arrival, however, did not allay the popular ferment, or check the progress of the mea­sure then taking to unite the colonies, in opposition to the oppressive act of parliament.

But the port bill was not the only act that alarmed the apprehension of the Americans. Determined to compel the province of Massachusett's to submit to their law, parliament passed an act for the better regulating government in the province of Massachu­sett's Bay. The object of this act was to alter the government, as it stood in the charter of King Wil­liam, to take the appointment of the executive out of the hands of the people, and place it in the crown; thus making even the judges and sheriffs dependent on the king, and removeable only at his pleasure.

This act was soon followed by another, which ordained, that any person, indicted for murder, or other capital offence, committed in aiding the ma­gistrates in executing the laws, might be sent by the governor either to another colony, or to Great Britain, for his trial.

This was soon followed by the Quebec Bill, which extended the bounds of that province, and granted many privileges to the Roman Catholics. The object of this bill was, to secure the attachment of that province to the crown of England, and prevent its joining the colonies in their resistance to the laws of parliament.

[Page xliii]But these measures did not intimidate the Ame­ricans. On the other hand, they served to confirm their former apprehensions of the evil designs of government, and to unite the colonies in their oppo­sition.

A correspondence of opinion with respect to the unconstitutional acts of parliament, produced a uni­formity of proceedings in the colonies. The people generally concurred in a proposition for holding a congress by deputation from the several colonies, in order to concert measures for the preservation of their rights. Deputies were accordingly appointed, and met at Philadelphia, on the 26th October, 1774.

On the 19th of April, 1774, Mr. Rose Fuller, member for Rye, made the following motion; that an act made in the seventeenth year of the reign of his present majesty, intituled, ‘"An act for granting cer­tain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation from this kingdom of coffee and cocoa-nuts, of the produce of the said colonies or plantations; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on china earthen ware exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said colo­nies and plantations,"’ might be read.

And the same being read accordingly; he moved, ‘"that this house will, upon this day se'nnight, re­solve itself into a committee of the whole house, to take into consideration the duty of 3d. per pound weight upon tea, payable in all his majesty's dominions in America, imposed by the said act; and also the appropriation of the said duty."’

A warm and interesting debate took place on the question of American taxation, that, perhaps, to use Mr. Burke's expression, no topic had been more familiar to the house. Mr. Wolfran Corn­wall took a wide view of it, and when it was thought that the subject was entirely exhausted, Mr. [Page xliv] Burke rose, and, to the surprize of those that were in the habits of admiring his powers, poured fresh light upon it—not that light that misleads in propor­tion as it dazzles, but the steady beam of reason and sound argument that at once vivifies, charms, and illu­mines all that was dark. In speaking of the repeal of the stamp act, ‘"I affirm,"’ said he, ‘"that when de­parting from the maxims of that repeal, you revived the scheme of taxation, and thereby filled the minds of the colonists with new jealousy, and all sorts of apprehensions; then it was that they quarrelled with the old taxes, as well as the new; then it was, and not till then, that they questioned all the parts of your legislature; and by the battery of such questions have shaken the solid structure of this empire to its deepest foundations."’ Mr. Burke followed up this assertion with such damning proofs arising out of the very acts, and speeches of ministers themselves, particularly in Lord Hillsborough's Letter to the American Go­vernors, dated May 13th, 1769, which he called the Canonical Book of Ministerial Scripture, or the Ge­neral Epistle to the Americans; well knowing that his arguments on this head were unanswerable, he was resolved not to omit the opportunity of a personal triumph. ‘"Upon the principles therefore, said he, of the honourable gentleman, (Mr. Cornwall) upon the principles of the minister himself, the minister has nothing at all to answer. He stands condemned by himself, and by all his associates, old and new, as a destroyer in the first trust of finance of the revenues; and in the first rank of honour, as a betrayer of the dignity of his country."’

Mr. Burke, in the course of his speech, made the following declaration.

‘"I will be content to be declared infamous, if I do not, to the last hour of my life, at all times, in all places, and upon all occasions, exert every power with which I either am, or ever shall be legally invested, in order to obtain and maintain for the continent of Ame­rica [Page xlv] that satisfaction which I have been authorised to promise this day, by the confidential servants of our gracious sovereign, who to my certain knowledge rates his honour so high, that he would rather part with his crown, than preserve it by deceit;"’ and it is but justice to say, that he maintained his promise.

Having shewn first on the narrow ground, which Mr. Cornwall measured, says he, that we were like to lose nothing, by complying with the motion, ex­cept what we had already lost, that in time of peace we flourished in commerce, and when war required it, had sufficient aid from the colonies, as long as we pursued our ancient policy, that the stamp-act threw every thing into confusion, and that the repeal of it restored every thing to peace and order. That the revival of the system of taxation produced the very worst effects, and that the partial repeal produced, not partial good, but universal evil. "Let these considerations, said he, founded on facts, not one of which can be denied, bring us back to our reason by the road of our experience. But alas! this was the old beaten road which ministers did not wish to tread, it was not sufficiently strewed with places and pensions. New paths must be struck out, new turnpikes erected, and additional toll paid.

Mr. Burke concluded this very able and argumen­tative speech, with the following passage, which many have considered as the key-stone of the arch.

‘"On this business of America, I confess I am serious, even to sadness. I have had but one opinion concerning it since I sat, and before I sat in parlia­ment. The noble lord will, as usual, probably, at­tribute the part taken by me and my friends in this business, to a desire of getting his place. Let him enjoy this happy and original idea. If I deprived him of it, I should take away most of his wit, and all his argument. But I had rather bear the brunt of all his wit, and indeed blows much heavier, than stand answerable to God for embracing a system that tends [Page xlvi] to the destruction of some of the very best and fairest of his works. But I know the map of England, as well as the noble lord*, or as any other person; and I know that the way I take is not the road to pre­ferment. My excellent and honourable friend under me on the floor, has trod that road with great toil for upwards of twenty years together. He is not yet arrived at the noble lord's destination. However, the tracks of my worthy friend are those I have ever wished to follow; because I know they lead to ho­nour. Long may we tread the same road together; whoever may accompany us, or whoever may laugh at us on our journey! I honestly and solemnly de­clare, I have in all seasons adhered to the system of 1766, for no other reason, than that I think it laid deep in your truest interests—and that, by unlimiting the exercise, it fixes on the firmest foundations, a real, consistent, well-grounded authority in parlia­ment. Until you come back to that system, there will be no peace for England."’

A gentleman of talents, who had the good fortune to be present at the delivery of this speech, has pourtrayed it thus: ‘"In this speech he had occasion to shew the original plan of government in taxing the colonies, and of course to exhibit the characters that were officially concerned, either in its progress or opposition. He began with the Right Honourable George Grenville, Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1763, and then proceeded to the characters of the late Lord Chatham, late Right Honourable Charles Townshend, (Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1766, and the re-producer of the taxation scheme) the Mar­quis of Rockingham, and the late Field-Marshall Conway, with many others. Some of these charac­ters, who, when living, were in total opposition to Mr. Burke's political sentiments on this subject; but now being dead, and their memories moreover being [Page xlvii] warmly protected by many high personages as rela­tives and friends, presented a subject very difficult and delicate to expand upon. Lord Chatham too was still living, and though rather in the wane of his great political powers, yet, surrounded by his former greatness, his accumulated wisdom, and great ex­perience, he stood as the great Mentor of opposition, to whom all the parts occasionally looked up for ad­vice and protection. When we add to these, that the Marquis of Rockingham and Field-Marshall Conway were his particular friends—the difficulties of reproving and praising became so multiplied, that the undertaking seemed to be one of those traps which vanity sometimes lays for great men, to shew them the extent of their own presumption.’

‘"But Mr. Burke's mind was fully equal to the task; all the leading and pleasing features of those great men who were his political opponents, he praised with a manly openness that would have done honour to the warmest and most exalted friendship; even what he thought of their defects he softened in such a manner, by either attributing them to original opinions, or early habits, or the co-operation of party, that those most intimately attached to their memories could not be displeased with their general portraits."’

The late Lord John Cavendish had retired with other members to the gallery during the delivery of this speech, and at Mr. Burke's description of Ge­neral Conway's feelings—Good God exclaimed his Lordship, ‘"What a man is this!—How could he acquire such transcendent powers?"’

At the dissolution of the parliament on the last day of September, 1774, Mr. Burke made his elec­tion for Malton, but scarce was he returned, when a deputation from some of the most respectable Mer­chants and Dissenters in Bristol invited him to stand for that city. He could not resist so flattering an in­vitation, so that, to use George Selwyn's expression, ‘"he resigned his little country wench for a fine city [Page xlviii] dame, attired in the richest silks, and showered with diamonds;"’ but it should not be forgotten that these ornaments were purchased at the expence of human blood. The candidates who started on this occasion were Lord Clare, one of the late Representatives, who declined on the second day of the poll; Mr. Brickdale, and Mr. Cruger, an American merchant. Mr. Burke appeared on the Hustings on the afternoon of the sixth day's poll. His address to the electors, was manly, candid, and captivating—and such as might be expected from one, whom neither ‘"avarice or ambition had justled out of the straight line of duty."’ The exertions of his friends were crowned with success. It was certainly a very pleasing sight, to behold a man of Mr. Burke's sensibility standing amidst the unbought plaudits of the populace, dumb with gratitude, till his tears got the start of his words—and as a gentleman, who was present, observed it was hard to say which of the two was the more eloquent. The opening of his address was worthy of the man void of all affectation, it arose naturally from the circum­stances of the moment, and conveyed a fine compli­ment to the feelings of his colleague, Mr. Cruger—It ran thus:


I cannot avoid sympathizing strongly with the feel­ings of the gentleman who has received the same ho­nour that you have conferred on me. If he, who was bred and passed his whole life amongst you; if he, who, through the easy gradations of acquaintance, friendship, and esteem, has obtained the honour, which seems of itself, naturally and almost insensibly, to meet with those, who, by the even tenour of pleasing manners and social virtues, slide into the love and confidence of their fellow-citizens;—if he can­not speak but with great emotion on this subject, surrounded as he is on all sides with his old friends; you will have the goodness to excuse me, if my real, [Page xlix] unaffected embarrassment prevents me from expres­sing my gratitude to you as I ought.

I was brought hither under the disadvantage of being unknown, even by sight, to any of you. No previous canvass was made for me. I was put in nomination after the poll was opened. I did not appear until it was far advanced. If, under all these accumulated disadvantages, your good opinion has carried me to this happy point of success, you will pardon me, if I can only say to you collectively, as I said to you individually, simply and plainly, I thank you—I am obliged to you—I am not insensible of your kindness.

Mr. Burke declared, that from the beginning to the end of the election, that he never asked a ques­tion of a voter on the other side, or supported a doubtful one on his own; it is also well known that he never solicited a vote in person—and yet it does not appear that he was deficient in election cant, from the following humourous specimen of it which he gave in the same speech.

But how should I appear to the voters themselves? If I had gone round to the citizens intitled to free­dom, and squeezed them by the hand— ‘"Sir, I humbly beg your vote—I shall be eternally thank­ful—may I hope for the honour of your support?—Well!—come—we shall see you at the council-house."’ —If I were then to deliver them to my managers, pack them into tallies, vote them off in court, and when I heard from the bar— ‘"Such a one only! and such a one for ever!—he's my man!"—"Thank you, good Sir—Hah! my wor­thy friend! thank you kindly—that's an honest fellow—how is your good family?"’ —Whilst these words were hardly out of my mouth, if I should have wheeled round at once, and told them— ‘"Get you gone, you pack of worthless fellows! you have no votes—you are usurpers! you are intru­ders on the rights of real freemen! I will have [Page l] nothing to do with you! you ought never to have been produced at this election, and the sheriff's ought not to have admitted you to poll."’

Mr. Burke was extremely happy in the locality of his similes during the election—witness the following:

‘"As for the trifling petulance, which the rage of party stirs up in little minds, though it should shew itself even in this court, it has not made the slightest impression on me. The highest flight of such cla­morous birds is winged in an inferior region of the air. We hear them, and we look upon them, just as you, gentlemen, when you enjoy the serene air on your lofty rocks, look down upon the gulls, that skim the mud of your river, when it is exhausted of its tide."’

In this speech Mr. Burke has drawn a picture of what he conceived to be the duty of a representative to his constituents. The passage is too fine to be omitted or abridged, especially as it is a point on which the ablest writers are divided.

‘"I am sorry I cannot conclude, without saying a word on a topic touched upon by my worthy col­league. I wish that topic had been passed by, at a time when I have so little leisure to discuss it. But since he has thought proper to throw it out, I owe you a clear explanation of my poor sentiments on that subject.’

‘He tells you, that ‘"the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;"’ and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.’

‘"Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative, to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most un­reserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted atten­tion. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his plea­sures, [Page li] his satisfactions, to theirs; and, above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature judg­ment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your plea­sure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.’

‘"My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be su­perior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and, what sort of reason is that, in which the deter­mination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?’

‘To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear, and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and im­plicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgement and conscience; these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a funda­mental mistake of the whole order and tenour of our constitution.’

‘Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deli­berative [Page lii] assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You chuse a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a mem­ber of Parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to get it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this sub­ject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communica­tion with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: A flatterer you do not wish for. On this point of instructions, however, I think it scarcely possible we ever can have any sort of difference. Perhaps I may give you too much, rather than too little trouble."’

Mr. Burke having found by experience that a ‘"strenuous resistance to every appearance of lawless power; a spirit of independence carried to some degree of enthusiasm; an inquisitive character to discover, and a bold one to display, every corrup­tion and every error of government,"’ had recom­mended him to a seat for Bristol, he was determined to persevere in the same steady course.

He had formed a most intimate friendship with Sir George Saville, that good man, who was very justly looked up to as the land-mark of the constitution, went to Ireland about this time, for the humane purpose of meliorating the condition of his numerous tenantry in that country. Having rode out one frosty morning without any attendant, he espied a man at a little distance, with whom he entered into conversation. Who does that mill belong to? I rent it, Sir. And what is the meaning that your mill is not better thatched, and yourself better clad?—I [Page liii] can't help it, Sir, I have a large family, and I assure you we do not eat the bread of idleness, but I pay a high rent. Who is your landlord? An Englishman, Sir, and one of the best men, Sir George Saville. Why, how much do you pay an acre? Fourteen shillings. What did you pay? Ten. Then take your bill, and write down ten, for I am your land­lord. The poor man could only look up to Heaven, as much as to say, you are dropped from thence. Sir George made similar deductions over all his estate, but he that was ‘"eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame,"’ was called too soon to receive the reward of his virtue.

The public statue of the late Sir George Saville is erected in York Cathedral. It is fixed on an elegant marble pedestal, six feet high, on the frize of which are introduced the emblems of Wisdom, For­titude, and Eternity. Sir George is represented leaning on a pillar, holding in his right hand a scroll, on which is written, ‘"The Petition of the Free­holders of the County of York."’ The back ground is of white marble, and the whole heighth of the monument is sixteen feet, and is executed in so masterly a manner as to do great credit to the statu­ary. On the front of the pedestal is the following inscription, said to be written by Mr. Burke:—

To the Memory of
Sir George Saville, Bart.
In five successive Parliaments
Represented the County of York.
The Public Love and Esteem of his
Fellow Citizens
Have decreed this
His life was an ornament and Blessing
To the Age in which he lived;
And, after his death his
[Page liv] Will continue to be beneficial to mankind,
By holding forth an example of
Pure and unaffected virtue
Most Worthy of Imitation,
To the latest Posterity.
He departed this life, January the 9th,
In the 58th year of his age,
Beloved and lamented.
In private life he was benevolent and
His Charities were extensive and secret;
His whole heart was formed on principles
Of Generosity, Mildness, Justice, and
Universal Candour.
In public, the patron of every national
In the Senate, uncorrupt;
In his commerce with the world disinterested,
By genius entitled in the means of
Doing good;
He was unwearied in doing it.

As splendour gives the brightest mark,
To poisoned arrows in the dark.

'Tis not to be wondered at, if Mr. Burke's cha­racter as an orator and a statesman, was attacked by all the hireling scribblers of administration, but as he did not wish to deprive them of a dinner, he never condescended to take any notice of their scurrility, it's a tax that every great character is doomed to pay, as Addison says, and he was de­termined to contribute his share to it. His judg­ment was now matured, and his fancy no longer soared on trembling pinions, but gazed stedfastly at the sun, or built its aerie on the brow of the most arduous precipice. The American war was the theme of every tongue and every pen. Mr. Burke, as we have already observed, took a decided part in it. [Page lv] He resolved to make one more effort to extinguish the flames of civil discord, not even discouraged by the rejection of a bill brought into the upper House by the Earl of Chatham, for settling the troubles in America. On the 22d of March, 1775, he brought forward his celebrated conciliatory propositions. His speech on that occasion was conciliation indeed, in the true spirit of conciliation, and may be truly termed his golden oration; though there is scarce a quotation in the whole, it may be said to contain the spirit of all that ancient and modern writers have said on the fittest means of allaying all those turbu­lent passions that civil war never fails to excite. As no man was better qualified to resort to the ‘"witness of time, the light of truth, the life of memory, and the messenger of antiquity,"’ his propo­sitions were founded on the best rules of reason, and though they were neither dictated by the passions, nor addressed to the passions, yet there is a certain atherial warmth that pervades all the arguments which he adduced in support of them, and, in many instances, they abound in all the bold relief of ex­pression. Throughout the whole he seems to have had the advice of a celebrated statesman in view, ‘"Omnia sunt in republica suavissime tractanda, arte quae leniat, non exasperet: sanet, non ulceret: moveat, no perturbeat, non perturbeat, animos civium."’ He put the dignity of Great Britain in one scale, and her concession in the other, in order to prove that con­ciliation would add lustre to both.

In the opening of this speech Mr. Burke describes the progress of the discontents of the Americans, and his own conduct, in that approaching storm:—

‘"Surely"’ says he, ‘"it is an awful subject; or there is none so on this side of the grave. When I first had the honour of a seat in this House, the affairs of that continent pressed themselves upon us, as the most important and most delicate object of parliamentary attention. My little share in this great [Page lvi] deliberation oppressed me. I found myself a par­taker in a very high trust; and having no sort of reason to rely on the strength of my natural abilities for the proper execution of that trust, I was obliged to take more than common pains, to instruct myself in every thing which relates to our colonies. I was not less under the necessity of forming some fixed ideas, concerning the general policy of the British empire. Something of this sort seemed to be indis­pensible; in order, amidst so great a fluctuation of passions and opinions, to concentre my thoughts; to ballast my conduct; to preserve me from being blown about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. I really did not think it safe, or manly, to have fresh principles to seek upon every fresh mail which should arrive from America.’

‘"At that period, I had the fortune to find myself in perfect concurrence with a large majority in this House. Bowing under that high authority, and penetrated with the sharpness and strength of that early impression, I have continued ever since, with­out the least deviation, in my original sentiments. Whether this be owing to an obstinate perseverance in error, or a religious adherence to what appears to me truth and reason, it is in your equity to judge.’

‘"Sir, Parliament having an enlarged view of ob­jects, made, during this interval, more frequent changes in their sentiments and their conduct, than could be justified in a particular person upon the contracted scale of private information. But though I do not hazard any thing approaching to a censure on the motives of former Parliaments to all those alterations, one fact is undoubted; that under them the state of America has been kept in continual agitation. Every thing administered as a remedy to the public complaint, if it did not produce, was at least followed by an heightening of the distemper; until, by a variety of experiments, that important country has been brought into her present situation; [Page lvii] —a situation which I will not miscall, which I dare not name; which I scarcely know how to compre­hend in the terms of any description."’

The Americans had been traduced in the ministe­rial prints as the spawn of stews and gaols, as the mere purgamenta urbium *. Mr. Burke touched on this string, and with the finger of a master too. (See page 21.) The predominant feature of their character was a love of liberty; they sought it in the midst of [Page lviii] deserts; religion went before them like a pillar of light, somewhat clouded, it is true, and the songs of Zion soothed the wild murmurs of the Ohio.

Mr. Burke points out in what manner the educa­tion of the colonists (See page 24 and 41) contri­buted to ‘"the growth and effect of their untractable spirit,"’ and that the study of the law, so prevalent in that country, rendered ‘"men acute, inquisitive, dextrous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, and full of resources."’ He then adverts to the religion of the country (See page 23) after which he describes the chief branches of their religion, which ought to be remembered as a piece of history, independent of its eloquence. ‘"The Roman Catholic religion,"’ says he, ‘"is, at least, coeval with most of the governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand with them, and received great favour and every kind of support from authority. The Church of England was formed from her cradle under the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests have sprung up in direct oppo­sition to all the ordinary powers of the world, and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim to natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful and unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies, is a refinement on the principle of resistance, it is the diffidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of Protestantism.’

‘"The religion, under a variety of denominations, agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit of liberty, is predominant in most of the north­ern provinces, where the Church of England, not­withstanding its legal rights, is, in reality, no more than a sort of private sect, not composing, most probably, the tenth of the people. The colonists left England when this spirit was high, and in the emigrants was the highest of all."’ He then shews [Page lix] that the spirit of liberty was still more high and haughty in the southern than in the northern states, and the reasons he assigns, in support of this assertion, are not less ingenious than true. ‘"It is,"’ says he, ‘"that in Virginia and the Carolinas, they have a vast multitude of slaves. Where this is the case in any part of the world, those who are free, are by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and privilege. Not seeing there, that freedom, as in countries where it is a common bles­sing, and as broad and general as the air, may be united with much abject toil, with great misery, with all the exterior of servitude, liberty looks, amongst them, like something that is more noble and liberal. I do not mean, Sir, to commend the superior mo­rality of this sentiment, which has, at least, as much pride as virtue in it; but I cannot alter the nature of man. The fact is so; and these people of the southern colonies are much more strongly, and with an higher and more stubborn spirit, attached to li­berty than those to the northward. Such were all the ancient commonwealths; such were our Gothic ancestors; such in our days were the Poles; and such will be all masters of slaves, who are not slaves themselves. In such a people the haughtiness of domination combines with the spirit of freedom, for­tifies it, and renders it invincible."’

He then remarks on the rapid population of the colonists (See page 11) so rapid that whilst they were disputing about the exaggeration of it, the exagge­ration ended, because they grew to it. Having stated what may be called the biography of the Americans, he proceeds to the natural resources of that country. They had prosecuted agriculture (See page 19) with such a spirit ‘"that for some time past the old world had been fed by the new."’ Hav­ing traced the plough into woods and wilds he in­dulged his imagination in the richest description of [Page lx] their fisheries (See page 20) flies after the line and harpoon through all the ‘"thrilling regions of thick ribbed ice, and seems to leave the gigantic pursuit with reluctance on the coast of Brazil."’ The com­merce of America was a favourite theme (See page 19) ‘"For my part,"’ said he, in another place*, ‘"I never cast an eye on their flourishing com­merce, and their cultivated and commodious life, but they seem to me rather ancient nations grown to perfection through a long series of fortunate events, and a train of successful industry, accumulating wealth in many centuries, than the colonies of yes­terday; than a set of miserable out-casts, a few years ago, not so much sent as thrown out, on the bleak and barren shore of a desolate wilderness three thou­sand miles from all civilized intercourse."’

Having gone round and round the subject, and surveyed it minutely in every possible aspect, he pro­ceeded to take a view of the physical objects we had to contend with in the subjugation of the colonies—space and the ocean—no contrivance could shorten the one, pump the other dry, or remove the eternal barriers of the creation (See page 25, 27.) His sentiments on the idea of enfranchising the Ameri­can slaves, deserves to be remembered.—

‘"It is sometimes as hard to persuade slaves to be free, as it is to compel freemen to be slaves; and in this auspicious scheme, we should have both these pleasing tasks on our hands at once. But when we talk of enfranchisement, do we not perceive that the American master may enfranchise too; and arm ser­vile hands in defence of freedom? A measure to which other people have had recourse more than once, and not without success, in a desperate situation of their affairs.’

[Page lxi] ‘Slaves as these unfortunate black people are, and dull as all men are from slavery, must they not a little suspect the offer of freedom from that very nation which has sold them to their present masters? From that nation, one of whose causes of quarrel with those masters, is their refusal to deal any more in that inhuman traffic? An offer of freedom from England, would come rather oddly, shipped to them in an African vessel, which is refused an entry into the ports of Virginia or Carolina, with a cargo of three hundred Angola negroes. It would be curious to see the Guinea captain attempting, at the same instant, to publish his proclamation of liberty, and to advertise his sale of slaves."’

Amidst the many shining passages in this speech, it would be unpardonable to pass over one, that may be called the brightest of all. It is almost needless to say that I mean the ‘"picture of the rapid growth of our national prosperity."’ The materials, it is true, were then abundant, and his friend, Sir Joshua Rey­nolds, could not have hit it off in gayer colours. The artful manner in which he prepared the mind of his audience for this grand sight is worthy of remark; first he sets out in the plain figures of arithmetic, piling one year of prosperity on the top of the other, as if he were speaking to a parcel of clerks in a count­ing-house. In an instant he flies off to an eminence, and addresses the senate in language worthy of the British Cicero.

‘"Mr. Speaker,"’ said he, ‘"I cannot prevail on myself to hurry over this great consideration, the exports to America; it is good for us to be here; we stand where we have an immense view of what is, and what is past. Clouds, indeed, and darkness, rest upon the future. Let us, however, before we descend from this noble eminence, reflect that this growth of our national prosperity has happened within the short period of the life of man. It has happened within sixty-eight years. There are those [Page lxii] alive whose memory might touch the two extremities. For instance, my Lord Bathhurst might remember all the stages of the progress. He was in 1704 of an age, at least to be made to comprehend such things. He was then old enough acta parentum jam legere, et qua sit poterit cognoscere virtus—Suppose, Sir, that the angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues, which made him one of the most amiable, as he is one of the most fortunate men of his age, had opened to him in vision, that when, in the fourth generation, the third prince of the House of Brunswick had sat twelve years on the throne of that nation, which (by the happy issue of moderate and healing councils) was to be made Great Britain, he should see his son Lord Chancellor of England, turn back the current of hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise him to an higher rank of peerage, whilst he enriched the family with a new one—If amidst these bright and happy scenes of domestic honour and prosperity, that angel should have drawn up the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his country, and whilst he was gazing with admiration on the then commercial grandeur of England, the genius should point out to him a little speck, scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal principle, rather than a formed body, and should tell him—‘"Young man, there is America—which, at this day, serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men, and un­couth manners, yet shall, before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world, rapidly advancing in a progressive in­crease of improvement, brought in by varieties of people, by succession of civilizing conquests and civilizing settlements, in a series of seventeen hun­dred years, you shall see as much added to her by America in the course of a single life!"’ If this state of his country had been foretold to him, would it not require all the sanguine credulity of youth, and [Page lxiii] all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make him be­lieve it? Fortunate man, he has lived to see it! For­tunate, indeed, if he lives to see nothing that shall vary the prospect, and cloud the setting of his day!"’

The Earl of Chatham, on being asked his opinion of this speech, answered, ‘"It is seasonable, reason­able, and eloquent;"’ and now that I have mentioned this great statesman, perhaps the reader would like to see a few extracts from his own speech on the same subject, nearly as follows:

‘"I therefore urge and conjure your lordships immediately to adopt this conciliating measure. I will pledge myself for its immediately producing con­ciliatory effects, by its being thus well timed: but if you delay till your vain hope shall be accomplished, of triumphantly dictating reconciliation, you delay for ever. But, admitting that this hope, which, in truth, is desperate, should be accomplished, what do you gain by the imposition of your victorious amity? You will be untrusted and unthanked. Adopt, then, the grace, while you have the opportunity of recon­cilement, or, at least, prepare the way. Allay the ferment prevailing in America, by removing the obnoxious, hostile cause—obnoxious and unservice­able; for the merit can be only in action: Non dimi­care et vincere, their victory can never be by exer­tion. Their force would be most disproportionately exerted against a brave, generous, and united people, with arms in their hands, and courage in their hearts: Three millions of people, the genuine descendants of a valiant and pious ancestory, driven to those deserts by the narrow maxims of a superstitious tyranny. And is the spirit of persecution never to be appeased? Are the brave sons of those brave forefathers to in­herit their sufferings, as they have inherited their virtues? Are they to sustain the infliction of the most oppressive and unexampled severity, beyond the ac­counts of history, or description of poetry: ‘"Rhada­manthus habet durissima regna, castigatque, auditque."’ [Page lxiv] So says the wisest poet, and, perhaps, the wisest states­man and politician. But our ministers say, the Americans must not be heard. They have been condemned unheard. The indiscriminate hand of vengeance has lumped together innocent and guilty; with all the formalities of hostility, has blocked up the town*, and reduced to beggary and famine thirty thousand inhabitants.’

‘"The means of enforcing this thraldom are found to be as ridiculous and weak in practice, as they are unjust in principle. Indeed, I cannot but feel the most anxious sensibility for the situation of General Gage, and the troops under his command; thinking him, as I do, a man of humanity and understanding, and entertaining, as I ever will, the highest respect, the warmest love, for the British troops. Their situation is truly unworthy; penned up, pining in inglorious inactivity. They are an army of impo­tence. You may call them an army of safety and of guard, but they are, in truth, an army of impo­tence and contempt, and, to make the folly equal to the disgrace, they are an army of irritation and vex­ation.’

‘"Trade, indeed, increases the wealth and glory of a country; but its real strength and stamina are to be looked for among the cultivation of the land: In their simplicity of life is found the simpleness of virtue—the integrity and courage of freedom. These true genuine sons of the earth are invincible: and they surround and hem in the mercantile bodies; even if these bodies, which supposition I totally disclaim, could be supposed disaffected to the cause of liberty.’

‘"This resistance to your arbitrary system of tax­ation might have been foreseen; it was obvious, from the nature of things, and of mankind, and, above all, from the whiggish spirit flourishing in that coun­try. [Page lxv] The spirit which now resists your taxation in America, is the same which formerly opposed loans, benevolences, and ship-money, in England; the same spirit which called all England on its legs, and by the bill of rights, vindicated the English constitution; the same spirit which established the great, funda­mental, essential maxim of your liberties, that no subject of England shall be taxed but by his own consent."’

As the American war is now become a matter of history, and can be useful and instructive only in that point of view, we shall leave it to the historian, and only touch on it merely to shew the part that Mr. Burke took in it. In all wars a great deal is to be left to the chapter of accidents. Mr. Burke seems to have left as little to it as possible in all his calculations on that momentous subject. In his very outset on this question, he appears to have examined it with great caution and judgment, and the cause only seems to have interested him, for he says himself, in his speech at Bristol in 1780, ‘"That the Americans were utter strangers to him, a nation amongst whom he was not sure he had a single ac­quaintance."’ Under these impressions, as often as this contest was agitated, he never failed to call forth fresh arguments and additional reprobation of it. Every aid that the human intellect and unwearied industry could furnish, were at his devotion. Even scurrility furnished her silth, and wit her poignant darts; every one as pointed as the Parthian arrow, and as rapid as its flight. If the Premier chanced to nod, Mr. Burke's imagination furnished him with dreams of splendid victories, and the interpretation of them into the bargain. In short, he excelled the minister in every thing but good humour and majo­rities. Money has been considered, but too gene­rally, as the sinews of war. The American coffers were exhausted, nor did Congress disguise their [Page lxvi] situation*. Every day witnessed the depreciation of their paper credit, 'till at length it fell, like the leaves of their native woods in autumn. Mr. Burke saw this, but, at the same time, he saw the buds of future credit; he did not wish to chill them, but he wished that England should share the promised fruit, as friends, and that they should not be plucked with the rude hand of power. In short, so early as the year 1777, he seems to have seen with a prophetic eye, the result of what time has confirmed: ‘"America,"’ said he, at that period, ‘"is not subdued. Not one unattacked village which was originally adverse throughout that vast continent, has yet submitted from love or terror. You have the ground you encamp on, and you have no more. The canton­ments of your troops and your dominions are exactly of the same extent. You spread devastation, but you do not enlarge the sphere of authority."’

At the opening of the session in October, 1776, opposition attended almost to a man, in hopes that the minister had profitted from experience in the re­cess, especially as he saw that several of his favourite plans to bring the Americans to their senses, as he called it, had failed, were failing, and ought to be relinquished. But it is with states as it is with indi­viduals, there is a season when arguments will not avail. Mr. Burke and his party felt this; their at­tendance became more lax, and a secession was pro­posed, and, as it was not generally approved, he states the grounds on which it was disapproved, and does justice to those who stood on that ground; ‘"They questioned,"’ he says, ‘"whether any [Page lxvii] member could, consistently with his duty, withdraw himself individually from the business of parliament, merely from an opinion that he would be outvoted, and that his attendance would, therefore, be useless. They acknowledged that a secession, collectively in a body, had not only the sanction of precedent, but might be practised with great advantage, and be pro­ductive of much benefit in such cases as the present. But for this purpose, it must be attended with the following circumstances: In the first place it must be general, including the whole minority, against the measure that provoked the secession; and, in the next, it should not be a silent act, but the motives for the secession should be proclaimed, either by a remon­strance on the journals, or a public address to the people. Under these circumstances, and in cases of imminent danger to the constitution, a secession might operate as a call to the nation, and awaken people to a sense of their situation."’

Mr. Burke tried every means that argument and persuasion could suggest, to point out the propriety and necessity of such a step, and to remove every scruple on that head, and in order to hasten the unanimity, he drew up a paper on the subject, in the shape of a remonstrance, in order that it might find its way on the journals; we shall only say, that if it had been put and carried in that form, it would have illumined those Belgic folios. It would have served as a precedent on all such emergent occasions. It would have served as a faithful record in which ministers might learn, that truth, in the end, will prevail over venal majorities. It was thought ad­viseable, however, to convey the substance of it in an address to the King, and, if this proposition had been adopted, perhaps a more respectful and affec­tionate address never was conveyed to the foot of the throne. It will remain as long as the English language lasts, as a monument of the powers and beauties of that tongue, and the use which the writer [Page lxviii] knew how to make of them, independent of the force of the arguments, and the happy manner in which they are arranged. The first paragraph is filled with expressions of unfeigned loyalty, of at­tachment to the sovereign, and his true interest. The second runs thus:

‘"A situation without example, necessitates a con­duct without precedent. We are driven in this mode of addressing your Majesty, reluctantly, to supersede those forms which, in other circumstances, we should highly respect; and regulate ourselves by no other rules than those of our laws, our rights, and the profound reverence we bear to our sove­reign."’

The third contains an apology for the proposed secession, on the grounds of the preservation of their (the seceders) honour, and what stood next in their estimation, his Majesty's good opinion, and for in­flexibly persevering in their dissent from every part of those proceedings, on the experience of their mischief, which they originally gave, from a sure foresight of their unhappy and inevitable tendency.

‘"We deplore, (say they) along with your Ma­jesty, the distractions and disorders which prevail in your empire. But we are convinced, that the dis­orders of the people, in the present time, are owing to the usual and natural cause of such disorders at all times—the misconduct of government; that they are owing to plans laid in error, pursued with obstinacy, and conducted without wisdom. We cannot attribute so much to the power of faction at the expence of human nature, as to suppose, that a combination of men, few in number, not considerable in rank, of no natural hereditary dependencies, of talents, which, however respectable, appear to be no way uncom­monly imposing, should, by the efforts of their po­licy alone, be able to bring the people of your Ame­rican dominions into the disposition which has pro­duced the present troubles. We cannot conceive, [Page lxix] that, without some powerful concurring cause, any management should prevail on some millions of peo­ple dispersed over a whole continent, in thirteen pro­vinces, not only unconnected, but in many particu­lars of religion, manners, government, and local in­terest, totally different and adverse, voluntarily to submit themselves to a suspension of all the profits of industry, and all the comforts of civil life, added to all the evils of an unequal war, carried on with circumstances of the greatest asperity and rigour. This, Sire, could never have happened but from a general sense of some grievance, so radical in its nature, and so spreading in its effects, as to poison all the ordinary satisfactions of life, to dislocate the frame of society, and to convert into fear and hatred that habitual reverence ever paid by mankind to an ancient and venerable government.’

‘"That grievance is as simple in its nature, and as level to the most ordinary understanding, as it is powerful in affecting the most languid passions. It is an attempt made to dispose of the whole property of a whole people, without their consent."’

Having depreciated this scheme set up in direct op­position to the rooted and inveterate prejudices of the whole people of America, they proceed to the following reflections, highly worthy the consideration of every statesman.

‘"The sense of a whole people, most gracious So­vereign, never ought to be contemned by wise and beneficent rulers, whatever may be the abstract claims, or even rights of the supreme power. We have been too early instructed, and too long habituated to be­lieve, that the only firm seat of all authority, is in the minds, affections, and interests of the people, to change our sentiments for the convenience of a temporary arrangement of state. It is not consistent with equity or wisdom, to set at defiance the general feelings of great communities, and all the orders which compose them. Much power is tolerated, and [Page lxx] passes unquestioned, where much is yielded to opi­nion. All is disputed, where every thing is enforced. This is the tenet we hold on the duty and policy of conforming to the prejudices of a whole people, even where the foundation of such prejudices may be false or disputable. But, permit us to lay at your Majesty's feet, our deliberate judgment on the real merits of that principle, the violation of which is the known ground and origin of these troubles. We assure your Majesty, that, on our parts, we should think ourselves unworthy of life, which we only value for the means of spending it in honour and virtue, if we ever submitted to taxes, to which we did not consent, either directly, or by a representation satis­factory to the body of the people. And we add, Sire, that if fortune, instead of blessing us with a situation where we may have daily access to the propitious presence of a gracious prince, had fixed us in settle­ments on the remotest part of the globe, we must carry these sentiments with us, as part of our being; pers [...]ded, that the distance of situation would only render this privilege the more necessary, in the dis­posal of property. Abuses of subordinate authority increase, and all means of redress lessen, as the dis­tance of the subject removes him from the seat of the supreme power. What, in those circumstances, can save him from the last extremes of indignity and op­pression, but something left in his own hands, which may enable him to conciliate the favour, and controul the excesses of government? When no means are possessed of power to awe, or to oblige, the strongest ties which connect mankind in every relation, social and civil, and which teach them mutually to respect each other, are broken. Independency, from that moment, virtually exists. Its formal declaration will quickly follow. Such must be our feelings for our­selves. We are not in possession of another rule for our brethren. When the late attempt, practically to annihilate that privilege was made, great disorders [Page lxxi] and tumults very unhappily and very naturally arose from it. In this state of things, we were of opinion, that satisfaction ought instantly to be given, or that at least the punishment of the disorder, ought to be attended with the redress of the grievance.’

‘"Because, whenever a disorder arises from, and is directly connected with a grievance, to confine our­selves to the punishment of the disorder, is to declare against the reason and justice of the complaint."’

Having recapitulated the instruments which minis­ters employed in their unfortunate plan, recourse was had to force, ‘"and we saw a force"’ say they ‘"sent out enough to menace liberty, but not to awe resist­ance; tending to bring odium on the civil power, and contempt on the military; at once to provoke and encourage resistance.’

‘"This mode of proceeding, by harsh laws and feeble armies, could not be defended on the principle of mercy and forbearance. For mercy, as we conceive, consists not in the weakness of the means, but in the benignity of the ends. We apprehend, that mild measures may be powerfully enforced; and that acts of extreme rigour and injustice may be attended with as much feebleness in the execution, as severity in the formation."’

The concluding part of this address cannot be too highly esteemed by every lover of his king and country, particularly the following passages:

‘"We deprecate the effect of the doctrines which must support and countenance the government over conquered Englishmen. It will be impossible long to resist the powerful and equitable arguments in fa­vour of the freedom of these unhappy people, to be drawn from the principle of our own liberty. At­tempts will be made, attempts have been made, to ridicule and to argue away this principle, and to in­culcate into the minds of your people other maxims of government, and other grounds of obedience than those which have prevailed at and since the glo­rious [Page lxxii] revolution. By degrees, these doctrines, by being convenient, may grow prevalent; the conse­quence is not certain; but a general change of prin­ciples rarely happens among a people without leading to a change of government.’

‘"Sire, your throne cannot stand secure upon the principles of unconditional submission, or passive obedience, on powers exercised without the concur­rence of the people to be governed, on acts made in defiance of their prejudices and habits, on acquies­cence procured by foreign mercenary troops, and secured by standing armies. These may possibly be the foundation of other thrones, they must be the subversion of your's.’

‘"It was not to passive principles in our ancestors that we owe the honour of appearing before a sove­reign, who cannot feel that he is a prince, without knowing that we ought to be free. The revolution is a departure from the ancient course of the descent of this monarchy. The people re-entered into their original rights, and it was not because a positive law authorized the act, but because the freedom and safety of the subject, the origin and cause of all laws, required a proceeding paramount and superior to them. At that ever-memorable and instructive pe­riod, the letter of the law was superseded in favour of the substance of liberty. To the free choice, therefore, of the people, without either king or par­liament, we owe that happy establishment of which both king and parliament were regenerated.’

‘"From that great principle of liberty these statutes have originated, which have confirmed and ratified that establishment from which your Majesty derives your right to rule over us. These statutes have not given us our liberties; our liberties have produced them. Every hour of your Majesty's reign, your title stands upon the very same foundation on which it was at first laid, and we do not know a better on which it can possibly be placed. Convinced that you [Page lxxiii] cannot have different rights, and a different security in different parts of your dominions, we wish to lay an even platform for your throne, and to give it an immoveable stability, by laying it on the general freedom of your people, and by securing equally to your Majesty, that confidence and affection in all parts of your dominions, which makes your best security and dearest title in this chief seat of your empire.’

‘"Such, Sire, being amongst us the foundation of the monarchy itself, much more clearly and pecu­liarly is it the ground of all parliamentary power. Parliament is a security provided for the protection of freedom, and not a subtle fiction contrived to amuse the people in its place; and the authority of both Houses can still less than that of the Crown be supported upon different principles, or different places, so as to be for one part of your subjects a protector of liberty, and for another a fund of des­potism, by which prerogative is extended by occa­sional powers, whenever an arbitrary will finds itself streightened by the restrictions of law."’

This address, which may be considered as the creed of the Rockingham party, was not carried into effect. Mr. Burke was, however, determined that it should meet the public eye in some form or other. He there­for transfused the spirit of it, in a letter which he addressed to John Farr and John Harris, Esquires, Sheriffs of Bristol, on the affairs of America in 1777. No man but himself, perhaps, could have transfused that spirit with so much art, for every subject seemed to be as obedient to his touch as the clay to the plastic hand of the potter; in short, his pen, on almost every occasion, may be compared to the fabled wand of the old magicians.

Attempts were made to drag even the private cha­racters of those that opposed the American war through all the filth and dirt of the ministerial prints. Mr. Burke, in this letter, defends those that opposed [Page lxxiv] those ruinous measures. He conceived that it would be happy for us, if the colonists were taught to be­lieve, that there was even a formed American party in England, to whom they could look for support. ‘"Happy would it be for us, if in all tempers, they might turn their eyes to the parent state, so that their very turbulence and sedition should find vent in no other place than this."’ He then comes to his own defence.

‘"I am charged with being an American. If warm affection towards those over whom I claim any share of authority, be a crime, I am guilty of this charge. But I do assure you (and they who know me publicly and privately well bear witness to me) that if ever one man lived, more zealous than another, for the supremacy of parliament, and the rights of this im­perial crown, it was myself. Many others, indeed, might be more knowing in the extent of the founda­tion of these rights. I do not pretend to be an anti­quary, a lawyer, or qualified for the chair of pro­fessor in metaphysics. I never ventured to put your solid interests upon speculative grounds. My having constantly declined to do so has been attributed to my incapacity for such disquisitions; and I am in­clined to believe it is partly the cause. I never shall be ashamed to confess, that where I am ignorant I am diffident. I am, indeed, not very solicitous to clear myself of this imputed incapacity; because men, even less conversant than I am, in this kind of subtleties, and placed in stations, to which I ought not to aspire, have, by the mere force of civil dis­cretion, often conducted the affairs of great nations with distinguished felicity and glory."’

Having given his opinion on the then state of public affairs," ‘"I feel warmly,"’ said he, ‘"on this subject, and express myself as I feel. I am too old, too stiff, in my inveterate partialities, to be ready at all the fashionable evolutions of opinion. I scarce know how to adapt my mind to the feelings with [Page lxxv] which the court gazettes mean to impress the people. It is not instantly that I can be brought to rejoice, when I hear of the slaughter and captivity of long lists of those names, which have been familiar to my ears from my infancy, and to rejoice that they have fallen under the sword of strangers, whose barbarous appellations I scarcely know how to pronounce. The glory acquired at the white plains by Colonel Roaille, has no charms for me; and I fairly acknowledge, that I have not yet learned to delight in finding Fort Kniphausen in the heart of the British dominions."’ In other instances, as often as he touched on German mercenaries, his warmth kindled into indignation, his passions flew to arms, and, in the conflict, it was seldom that the petty princes of Germany themselves, escaped with a string of epithets as long as their titles.

Towards the conclusion of this letter, the writer combats, with great force and eloquence, the doctrine which every venal minister has endeavoured to disse­minate, namely, ‘"that every man has his price;"’ that the reader may judge for himself, we shall lay an ex­tract of the passage before him.

‘"The common cant is no justification for taking this party (his own.) I have been deceived, say they, by Titius and Maevius; I have been the dupe of this pretender, or of that mountebank; and I can trust appearances no longer. But my credulity and want of discernment cannot, as I conceive, amount to a fair presumption against any man's integrity. A conscientious person would rather doubt his own judgment, than condemn his species. He would say, I have observed without attention, or judged upon erroneous maxims; I trusted to profession, when I ought to have attended to conduct. Such a man will grow wise, not malignant, by his acquaintance with the world. But he that accuses all mankind of corruption, ought to remember, that he is sure to convict only one. In truth, I should rather admit those whom at any time I have disrelished the most, to be patterns [Page lxxvi] of perfection, than seek a consolation to my own unworthiness, in a general communion of depravity with all about me.’

‘"That this illnatured doctrine should be preached by the missionaries of a court I do not wonder. It answers their purpose. But that it should be heard among those who pretend to be strong asserters of liberty, is not only surprising, but hardly natural. This moral levelling is a servile principle. It leads to practical passive obedience, far better than all the doctrines which the pliant accommodation of theo­logy to power has ever produced."’

This letter found a ready reception with those who were already disposed to subscribe to the contents of it; they did not fail to magnify it as a piece of sound political reasoning and manly sense—It was read with great avidity by all parties. Lord Abingdon pub­lished some animadversions on it. Mr. Burke did not reply, he left the public to judge—and his Lord­ship did not appear to be highly pleased with the sentence.

An increase of the civil list was the next question agitated in the Commons. This proposition under­went a warm discussion—it was, however, at length carried, and when the Speaker, Sir Fletcher Norton, presented the bill at the bar of the House of Lords, he addressed the throne in the following speech—

Most gracious Sovereign,

The bill, which it is now my duty to present to your Majesty, is intituled, An Act for the better sup­port of his Majesty's houshold, and of the honour and dignity of the crown of Great Britain, to which your Commons humbly beg your royal assent.

By this bill, Sir, and the circumstances which pre­ceded and accompanied it, your faithful Commons have given their fullest proofs and assurances to your Majesty; for in a time of public distress, full of diffi­culty and danger, your constituents labouring under [Page lxxvii] burdens almost too heavy to be borne, they have not only granted to your Majesty a large present supply, but also a very great additional revenue, great be­yond example, great beyond your Majesty's highest expence. But all this they have done in a well-grounded confidence, that you will apply wisely, what they have granted so liberally, and feeling what every good subject must feel, that the affluence and grandeur of the crown will reflect honour and dig­nity upon the people.

On the return of the Speaker, he received the thanks of the House for his speech, and it was ordered to be printed. Mr. Burke, speaking of it to a friend, said, that the constitutional sentiments which it contained were only equalled by the dignity of the manner in which they were delivered.

Hitherto Mr. Burke had lived in the warmest friendship with the majority of his constituents; they approved his parliamentary conduct; and this, if we may trust his own words, was the highest meed he looked for; but a period was now at hand that was to put that mutual friendship to trial. He had taken a decided part in the support of two bills relative to the trade of Ireland in 1778, the truth is, he only attempted to awaken the long neglected Irish harp, every string of which had been once in tune*, not at the expence of the British lyre, but that the notes of both might flow into all ‘"the concord of sweet sounds,"’ and that the hearts of both nations might dance to the music, but his endeavours were not taken in this point of view, the result of which was, that he wrote a letter to Samuel Span, Esq Master of the Society of Merchants Adventurers of Bristol, in which he vin­dicated [Page lxxviii] his conduct, and pointed out the advantages that his constituents would reap from the adoption of even a more liberal system of commerce, and that under this conviction he had given it all the support in his power. The language was plain; he knew that he was addressing it to a body of men, the major part of whom did not place so high a value upon tropes and figures as they did upon the shining toys and trinkets which they exported to the coasts of Africa.

Mr. Burke saw that America was on the verge of being lost, and he wished to find an America nearer home. He describes the state of England, at that period, in these lines:—

‘"Perhaps Gentlemen are not yet fully aware of the situation of their country, and what its exigencies absolutely require. I find that we are still disposed to talk at our ease, and as if all things were to be regulated by our good pleasure. I should consider it as a fatal symptom, if, in our present distressed and adverse circumstances, we should persist in the errors which are natural only to prosperity. One cannot, indeed, sufficiently lament the continuance of that spirit of delusion, by which, for a long time past, we have thought fit to measure our necessities by our inclinations. Moderation, prudence, and equity, are far more suitable to our condition, than lostiness, and confidence, and rigour. We are threatened by enemies of no small magnitude, whom, if we think fit, we may despise, as we have despised others; but they are enemies who can only cease to be truly formidable, by our entertaining a due respect for their power. Our danger will not be lessened by our shutting our eyes to it; nor will our force abroad be encreased by rendering ourselves feeble, and divided at home.’

‘"There is a dreadful schism in the British nation. Since we are not able to re-unite the empire, it is our business to give all possible vigour and soundness to [Page lxxix] those parts of it which are still content to be governed by our councils. Sir, it is proper to inform you, that our measures must be healing. Such a degree of strength must be communicated to all the members of the state, as may enable them to defend them­selves, and to co-operate in the defence of the whole. Their temper too must be managed, and their good affections cultivated. They may then be disposed to bear the load with chearfulness, as a contribution towards what may be called with truth and propriety, and not by an empty form of words, a common cause."’

Having lamented that his conduct had given his constituents any uneasiness, he declares, that he would much rather run the risque of displeasing than injur­ing them. ‘"If I am driven,"’ says he, ‘"to make such an option, you obligingly lament, that you are not to have me for your advocate; but if I had been capable of acting as an advocate in opposition to a plan so perfectly consonant to my known principles, and to the opinions I had publicly declared on an hundred occasions, I should only disgrace myself, without supporting, with the smallest degree of credit or effect, the cause you wished me to undertake. I should have lost the only thing which can make such abilities as mine of any use to the world now or hereafter; I mean that authority which is derived from an opinion, that a member speaks the language of truth and sincerity; and that he is not ready to take up or lay down a great political system for the con­venience of the hour; that he is in parliament to support his opinion of the public good, and does not form his opinion in order to get into parliament, or to continue in it. It is, in a great measure, for your sake, that I wish to preserve this character. Without it, I am sure, I should be ill able to dis­charge, by any service, the smallest part of that debt of gratitude and affection, which I owe you for the great and honourable trust you have reposed in me."’

[Page lxxx]He seems not to have been a little hurt at the re­ception which his conduct met amongst even some of his best friends in Bristol, as in a conversation a short time after on the mercantile interest, he ex­claimed, ‘"Don't talk to me of a merchant, mer­chants are the same in every part of the world—his God his gold, his invoice his country, his ledger h [...]s Bible, his desk his altar, his Church the Exchange, and he has faith in none but his banker."’

When Mr. Burke found that ministers were deter­mined to persevere in one of the most disastrous wars in which this country was ever engaged, and that the people began to bend beneath the weight of taxes, he resolved to see if it was possible to render the public any service. It struck him that there was one path in which he might move with some degree of success, and that was oeconomy. He had attempted it before, and failed, but he was determined to re­turn to the attack with additional force. The mi­nister saw that it was a popular measure, and capable of great modification. Accordingly, on the 11th of February, 1780, he brought in a bill for ‘"the regu­lation of his Majesty's civil establishments, and of certain public offices; for the limitations of pensions, and the suppression of sundry useless, expensive, and inconvenient places, and for applying the monies saved thereby to the public service."’ This bill was not so formidable in its contents as in its title, and the Honourable mover took care to soften the rigid features of it in a speech of considerable length. Lord North received it with great seeming cordi­ality. He assured the House, that no member in it was more zealous for the establishment of a perma­nent system of oeconomy than himself; but, as among the various subjects treated of, some of them respected the King's patrimonial income, he thought the crown ought to be consulted before the bill was admitted. Colonel Barré passed the highest enco­miums [Page lxxxi] on the ability, assiduity, extensive knowledge and comprehensive genius of his honourable friend Mr. Burke. The late Lord George Gordon thought the house ought not to entertain it, and though he stood alone, divided the house upon it. Mr. Burke hailed this as a lucky omen, but was prudent enough to keep within the limits, which he had prescribed to himself in the outset. It was not his intention even to attempt to cleanse the augean stable, or to pluck up corruption by the root, that very corruption which he himself called the dry-rot of the constitution.

The subject was apparently barren, and it was not expected that even Mr. Burke could enliven it, but the house was very agreeably disappointed—in his hand it became so fertile, that to continue the meta­phor it shot in many places into luxuriancy. In the course of his speech it was necessary that he should point out the use and abuse of certain offices, this was a point of great personal delicacy, in which he was very successful; speaking of the necessity of the proposed measure, his words are worthy of remem­brance. ‘"There is a time,"’ said he, ‘"when men will not suffer bad things, because their ancestors have suffered worse. There is a time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain protection."’

The king of France at that time had seriously turned his attention to a reform in the finances of his country, joined to a reform in his court.* Mr. Burke took notice of this, and descanted on it in the following strain: ‘"The Minister, (Neckar) who does these things, is a great man,—but the king, who de­sires that they should be done, is a far greater. We must do justice to our enemies—These are the acts of a patriot king. I am not in dread of the vast armies of France: I am not in dread of the gallant [Page lxxxii] spirit of its brave and numerous nobility: I am not alarmed even at the great navy which has been so miraculously created. All these things Louis the fourteenth had before. With all these things, the French monarchy has more than once fallen pros­trate at the feet of the public faith of Great Britain. It was the want of public credit which disabled France from recovering after her defeats, or recovering even from her victories and triumphs. It was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered revenue, that sapped the foundations of all her greatness. Credit cannot exist under the arm of necessity. Necessity strikes at credit, I allow, with a heavier and quicker blow under an arbitrary monarchy, than under a limited and ba­lanced government: but still necessity and credit are natural enemies, and cannot be long reconciled in any situation.’

‘"From necessity and corruption, a free state may lose the spirit of that complex constitution which is the foundation of confidence. On the other hand, I am far from being sure, that a monarchy, when once it is properly regulated, may not for a long time, furnish a foundation for credit upon the solidity of its maxims, though it affords no ground of trust in its institutions. I am afraid I see in England, and in France, something like a beginning of both these things. I wish I may be found in a mistake."’

There are many passages in this speech highly worthy the attention of the patriotic statesman, as long as oeconomy is to be considered what it has been found—the best mine in every nation. Gravity and gaiety, perhaps, were never more happily united in any speech or composition. The Revenue Adven­tures of Knight Probert, (see p. 253,) and the Mu­tiny of the Houshold Troops, (see p. 111,) are spe­cimens of the latter, the first is written in all the spirit of romance, and the second threw the house into frequent bursts of laughter, which induced Lord North to whisper, that such was the versality of Mr. [Page lxxxiii] Burke's powers, that if he were to speak of an old almanack, he could set all the planets in the same humourous commotion. Having unfolded part of his plan, he called on the house to do him justice, if it did not tend to abolish offices more expensive than useful, to combine duties improperly separated, to change revenues more vexatious than productive, into ready money, to suppress offices which stood in the way of oeconomy, and to cut off lurking subor­dinate treasurers. Mr. Burke, in a letter to a noble Lord, in 1796, speaks of this measure thus: ‘"My oeconomical reforms were not the suppression of a paltry pension or employment more or less. Oeco­nomy in my plan was, as it ought to be, secondary, subordinate, instrumental. I acted on state princi­ples. I found a great distemper in the common­wealth; and, according to the nature of the evil and the object, I treated it. The malady was deep; it was complicated, in the causes and in the symptoms. Throughout it was full of contraindicants. On one hand government, daily growing more invidious for an apparent increase of the means of strength, was every day growing more contemptible by real weak­ness. Nor was this dissolution confined to govern­ment commonly so called. It extended to parliament; which was losing not a little in it's dignity and esti­mation, by an opinion of it's not acting on worthy motives.’

‘"A complaint was made of too much influence in the House of Commons, I reduced it in both Houses; and I gave my reasons article by article for every reduction, and shewed why I thought it safe for the service of the state. I heaved the lead every inch of way I made."’

The parliament was suddenly dissolved on the first of September, 1780. Mr. Burke had now faithfully served his constituents six years—yet strange as it may appear, when the fame of his integrity and his talents went hand in hand, and was daily increasing, that [Page lxxxiv] his popularity should be on the decline in Bristol, and it is probable that he would not have offered himself a second time to the choice of the electors of that city, if it were not out of respect to many worthy characters amongst the Quakers and Dissenters in it, who promised him their support, and acted up to their promise. He accordingly appeared on the hustings at Guildhall, in Bristol, with all the open­ness and becoming confidence of a man who was conscious that he had discharged his duty. The meeting was uncommonly numerous on that occa­sion. Three candidates offered themselves at the same time. Mr. Burke, in his turn, addressed the audience in a speech replete with arguments, con­veyed in the most eloquent language, in which he defended his parliamentary conduct. ‘"If you call upon me,"’ said he, ‘"I shall solicit the favour of the city upon manly ground. I come before you with the plain confidence of an honest servant in the equity of a candid and discerning master. I come to claim your approbation, not to amuse you with vain apologies, or with professions still more vain and senseless. I have lived too long to be served by apologies, or to stand in need of them. The part I have acted has been in open day; and to hold out to a conduct, which stands in that clear and steady light for all its good and all its evil, to hold out to that conduct, the paltry winking tapers of excuses and promises—I never will do it.—They may ob­scure it with their smoke; but they never can illu­mine sunshine by such a flame as theirs."’

One of the charges exhibited against him was the part which he took in Lord Beauchamp's bill for reforming the law process for imprisonment for debt (See Act of Grace, page 1.) The next was his con­currence in the repeal of certain penal laws against the Roman Catholics. His defence, on this head, was grounded on the laws of humanity, the soundest maxims of policy and justice, and on these points, [Page lxxxv] perhaps, no man ever shone to such advantage. He wanted to snatch the fire-brand out of the hand of the furious zealot, to extinguish it for ever, and to shew that the weapons of superstition and ignorance were not to be numbered with the celestial arms of religion, and that, notwithstanding, various paths led to her peaceful abode, yet they all united in the centre like the rays of glory that play round her head

The part which he took relative to the trade of Ireland gave offence. All commercial maxims are selfish and narrow. He did not wish to see the noble tide of British trade slumber on oozy beds, or creep through crooked channels; he wished to see it flow as bountifully as the ocean itself, so that the sister kingdoms might mutually partake of its blessings. He was also charged with having voted contrary to the instructions of his constituents. This was a ground on which he defended himself with uncom­mon address. He said, ‘"he knew that he had been chosen in his place, along with others, to be a pillar of the State, and not a weather-cock on the top of the edifice, exalted for his levity and versatility, and of no use but to indicate the shiftings of every fashion­able gale*."’

[Page lxxxvi]The picture which he drew of an informer in this speech (See page 135) is very highly finished. At the same instant that we are disgusted with the sub­ject, we are obliged to admire the pencil*. This speech was very warmly received even by those whose mental eyes were too weak to bear the light of conviction.

Almost every thing, perhaps, that fell from his lips, or his pen, on this occasion, are worthy of being preserved, as mixed with his feelings, or dictated by his opinions. Soon after his arrival in Bristol, the following address appeared in the public prints:—

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, Freeholders, and Freemen of the City of Bristol.


My general conduct in parliament, and my humble endeavours to serve the city and the [Page lxxxvii] citizens of Bristol in these particular affairs, having been honoured by the unanimous approbation of a very large and very respectable meeting at Guildhall this day, in conformity with the desire of that meet­ing, and under the sanction of their weighty autho­rity, I beg leave to renew to you my humble solici­tation for your votes at this election, and the favour of your early appearance at the poll on Friday next; and if I have the honour of being again chosen to represent you, I trust that I shall not shew myself less deserving of your favour than formerly, or less sincerely grateful for it.

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect respect and esteem, gentlemen, your most obedient and most obliged servant,


Such is the fluctuation of public opinion, that Mr. Burke felt himself under the necessity of soliciting many who had formerly solicited him. He canvassed in person, but there was nothing mean or unmanly either in his words or in his manner, and notwith­standing the spirit of party ran high in the city, yet it never found its way into the denials which he re­ceived, or rather the apologies, for many of them were conveyed in that language, which, as he said himself, ‘"added to the regret."’ Notwithstanding all his exertions, and the exertions of his friends, he found there was little prospect of success, which in­duced him to address the electors in the following speech:


I decline the election.—It has ever been my rule through life, to observe a proportion between my efforts and my objects. I have never been re­markable [Page lxxxviii] for a bold, active, and sanguine pursuit of advantages that are personal to myself.

I have not canvassed the whole of this city in form. But I have taken such a view of it, as satisfies my own mind, that your choice will not ultimately fall upon me. Your city, Gentlemen, is in a state of miserable distraction; and I am re­solved to withdraw whatever share my pretensions may have had in its unhappy divisions. I have not been in haste; I have tried all prudent means; I have waited for the effect of all contingencies. If I were fond of a contest, by the partiality of my numerous friends (whom ye know to be among the most weighty and respectable people of the city) I have the means of a sharp one in my hands. But I thought it far better, with my strength unspent, and my reputation unimpaired, to do, early and from foresight, that which I might be obliged to do from necessity at last.

I am not in the least surprised, nor in the least angry, at this view of things. I have read the book of life for a long time, and I have read other books a little. Nothing has happened to me, but what has happened to men much better than me, and in times and in nations full as good as the age and country we live in. To say that I am no way concerned would be neither decent nor true. The representation of Bristol was an object on many accounts dear to me: and I certainly should very far prefer it to any other in the kingdom. My habits are made to it; and it is in general more unpleasant to be rejected, after long trial, than not to be chosen at all.

But, Gentlemen, I will see nothing except your former kindness, and I will give way to no other sen­timents than those of gratitude. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for what you have done for me. You have given me a long term, which is now ex­pired. I have performed the conditions, and enjoyed [Page lxxxix] all the profits to the full; and I now surrender your estate into your hands, without being in a single tile, or a single stone, impaired or wasted by my use. I have served the public for fifteen years. I have served you in particular for six. What is passed is well stored. It is safe, and out of the power of for­tune. What is to come, is in wiser hands than ours; and he, in whose hands it is, best knows whether it is best for you and me, that I should be in parliament, or even in the world.

Gentlemen, the melancholy event of yesterday* reads to us an awful lesson against being too much troubled about any of the objects of ordinary ambi­tion. The worthy gentleman, who has been snatched from us at the moment of the election, and in the middle of the contest, whilst his desires were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.

It has been usual for a candidate who declines, to take his leave by a letter to the Sheriffs; but I re­ceived your trust in the face of day, and in the face of day I accept your dismission. I am not,—I am not at all ashamed to look upon you; nor can my presence discompose the order of business here. I humbly and respectfully take my leave of the She­riffs, the Candidates, and the Electors, wishing hear­tily that the choice may be for the best, at a time which calls, if ever time did call, for service that is not nominal. It is no plaything you are about. I tremble when I consider the trust I have presumed to ask. I confided perhaps too much in my intentions. They were really fair and upright; and I am bold to say, that I ask no ill thing for you, when, on parting from this place, I pray, that whoever you choose to succeed me, may resemble me exactly in all things, [Page xc] except in my abilities to serve, and my fortune to please you.

The death of R. Coombe, Esq, who intended to offer himself a candidate for Bristol.

Hope at length sunk into resignation, and Mr. Burke declined the poll, with the following address.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, Freeholders, and Freemen of the City of Bristol.


A very large and respectable meeting of the principal citizens of Bristol did, by an unani­mous vote, authorize me to offer myself once more to your service. My deference to that authority was the sole motive for giving you one moment's trouble. On my canvass, so far as it has proceeded, I have found that my pretensions were well received, and even with a degree of warmth in many of the electors.

But on a calm and very deliberate view of the state of the city, I am convinced that no other conse­quence can be reasonably expected from my conti­nuing a candidate, than a long, vexatious, and ex­pensive contest. Conscious, that no difference be­tween my service, and that of any other man, can be worth the inconveniencies of such a struggle. I decline the election.

I return you my best thanks for having, at any time, or for any period, condescended to think of me for your representative. I have done my duty towards you, and towards the nation, as became me. You dispose of the future trust (as you have a right to do) according to your discretion. We have no cause of complaint on either side. By being returned into the mass of private citizens, my burthens are lessened, my satisfactions are not destroyed. These are duties to be performed, and there are comforts to be enjoyed in obscurity, for which I am not with­out a disposition or relish. I am sure there is nothing [Page xci] in the retrospect of my public conduct, which is likely to disturb the tranquillity of that situation, to which you restore me.

I have the honour to be, with the utmost possible respect, gentlemen, your much obliged, and most obedient humble servant,


‘"Obscurity and retirement"’ are favourite expres­sions on the lips of every great man, but if Mr. Burke thought that he was sufficiently prepared to throw himself into the arms of one or the other, he seems to have been little acquainted with his own heart. Most of those whom he wished to please were still alive, the circle of his friends was hourly expanding, and it would have exhibited rather a kind of peevishness and ill humour, to throw down his sword and buckler, because he had lost one engage­ment, when others of more importance remained to be contended in. His friends exerted every nerve in support of his cause, or rather their own, and were determined to dispute every inch of ground to the last, but he did not wish to put them to that trouble—he declined—and retired amidst the plau­dits of even those who had not voted for him, and though he lost the election, it may be fairly said that he gained the victory.

Having made his election for Malton, he conti­nued to attack Ministers sometimes with a grossness of language, which many of his friends reprobated, and which Lord North used to call the lava of Mr. Burke's eloquence.

Much about this time the necessity of a parlia­mentary reform was contended for, as essential to the salvation of the constitution. A committee was ap­pointed in Yorkshire, in order to take this important subject into consideration; a similar committee was about to be appointed for the same purpose in Buck­inghamshire. [Page xcii] Mr. Burke addressed a letter to a gentleman of that county, in which he gave his opi­nion on this weighty matter, the following extracts are taken from it.

‘"The country will, in some way or other, be called upon to declare it your opinion, that the House of Commons is not sufficiently numerous, and that the elections are not sufficiently frequent. That an hundred new knights of the shire ought to be added; and that we are to have a new election, once in three years for certain, and as much oftener as the King pleases. Such will be the state of things, if the propositions made shall take effect.’

‘"All this may be proper; but as an honest man, I cannot possibly give my vote for it, until I have considered it more fully. I will not deny, that our constitution may have faults, and that those faults, when found, ought to be corrected. It is not every thing which appears at first view to be faulty, in such a very complicated plan as our constitution. To enable us to correct the constitution, the whole con­stitution must be viewed together, and it must be compared with the actual constitution of the people, and the circumstances of the time. For that, which taken singly, and by itself may appear to be wrong, when considered with relation to other things may be perfectly right, or at least such as ought to be pa­tiently endured, as the means of preventing something that is much worse. So far with regard to what, at first view, may appear a distemper in the constitution. As to the remedy of that distemper, an equal caution ought to be used; because this latter consideration is not single and separate, no more than the former. There are many things in reformation, which would be proper to be done, if other things can be done along with them, but which, if they cannot be so accompanied, ought not to be done at all. I there­fore wish, when any deep matter of this new nature [Page xciii] is proposed to me, to have the whole scheme dis­tinctly in my view, and full time to consider of it. Please God, I will walk with caution, whenever I am not able to see my way clearly before me."’

‘"I am now growing old. I have from very early youth been conversant in reading and thinking upon the subjects of our laws and constitution, as well upon those of other times and other countries. I have been for fifteen years a very laborious Member of Parliament, and in that time have had great op­portunities of seeing with my own eyes the working of the machine of our government; of remarking where it went smoothly, and did its business, and where it checked in its movements, or where it da­maged its work. I have also had, and used the op­portunities of conversing with men of the greatest wisdom, and fullest experience in these matters; and I do declare to you most solemnly and most truly, that on the result of all this reading, thinking, expe­rience and communication, I am not able to come to an immediate resolution in savour of a change in the ground-work of our constitution; and in parti­cular, that in the present state of the country, in the present state of our representation, in the present state of our modes and rights of electing, in the pre­sent state of the several prevalent interests, in the present state of the affairs and manners of this country, I am not able to vote that the addition of the hun­dred knights of the shire, and the hurrying of election on election, will be things advantageous, either to liberty or to good government.’

‘"I most heartily wish that the deliberative sense of the kingdom on this great subject should be known. When it is known it must be prevalent. It would be dreadful, indeed, if there were any power in the nation capable of resisting its unanimous desire, or even the desire of any great or very decided majo­rity of the people. The people may be deceived in [Page xciv] their choice of an object, but I can scarcely conceive that any choice they can make to be so very mis­chievous, as the existence of any human force capa­ble of resisting it. It will certainly be the duty of every man, in the situation to which God has called him, to give his best opinion and advice upon the matter; it will not be his duty (let him think what he will) to use any violent or fraudulent means of counteracting the general wish, or even of employing the legal and constructive organ of expressing the peo­ple's sense against the sense which they so actually entertained."’

Towards the conclusion of the year 1781, Mr. Burke, and several characters in the nation, pre­eminently distinguished by their rank and patriotism, their riches and their influence, were applied to from a quarter where the sources of a secret and important intelligence were as indubitable as the readiness to communicate. It was fervent and unsullied, a variety of delicate circumstances (of which not the least cogent is the present existence of several of the illus­trious parties concerned) forbids us to expatiate on the subject, whilst we lament that we are compelled to allude to it in an exceedingly abridged statement. Re­presentations had been made, which, had they been fol­lowed up with unanimous energy and perseverance, would, in all probability, have prevented the dismem­berment of America from Great Britain. What were the answers of other individuals to an awful and pressing requisition must be passed over. We can almost verbally affirm, that the delivered opinion of Mr. Burke was, ‘"that he did not entertain the least doubt of the truth of the information, but that all his en­deavours in consequence of it would prove fruitless, because the administration explicitly manifested a rivetted determination to pursue the same measures until they should become quite annihilated by their positive inability to continue the war against the colonies."’

[Page xcv]On the 28th of March, 1782, Lord North assured the House, on authority, that the present administration was no more! and that for the purpose of giving the necessary time for new arrangements, he moved an adjournment, which was instantly agreed to. The arrangements were as follow: The Marquis of Rock­ingham First Lord of the Treasury, the Earl of Shel­burne and Mr. Fox joint Secretaries of State, Lord Camden President of the Council, Duke of Grafton Privy Seal, Lord John Cavendish Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Burke Paymaster-General of the Forces.

A few days after Mr. Burke was made a Privy Counsellor.

The dawn of the new administration promised a refulgent day. The leading members of it had pledged themselves to many regulations and reforms, which they began to carry into execution as soon as the parliament met, with a degree of alacrity and liberality unknown in the parliamentary history of this country. The integrity and judgment of the Marquis of Rock­ingham justly exalted him in the opinion of the nation, but at the very instant that his bleeding country leaned on his honest heart, it pleased the King of Kings to call him to himself. This illus­trious patriot expired on the first of July, 1782, of a complaint with which he had been long afflicted—(the hydrothorax) and which had latterly very much encreased, from his unremitting attention to public business. His loss was felt and deplored by the whole nation. Mr. Burke drew his character when living, (See page 484) and little did he think, perhaps, at the time, that he should be so soon called on to pay the last sad tribute to his memory, which he did in the following inscription, for the mausoleum erected in Wentworth Park, and in which Earl Fitzwilliam has also placed a bust of the writer of it.

[Page xcvi]


A statesman, in whom constancy, fidelity, sin­cerity, and directness, were the sole instruments of his policy. His virtues were his arts.

A clear, sound, unadulterated sense, not per­plexed with intricate design, or disturbed by un­governed passion, gave consistency, dignity and effect to all his measures. In opposition, he respected the principles of government; in administration he pro­vided for the liberties of the people. He employed his moments of power in realizing every thing which he had proposed in a popular situation. This was the distinguishing mark of his conduct. After twenty-four years of service to the public, in a cri­tical and trying time, he left no debt of just expecta­tion unsatisfied.

By his prudence and patience, he brought toge­ther a party, which it was the great object of his labours to render permanent, not as an instrument of ambition, but as a living depository of principle.

The virtues of his public and private life were not, in him, of different characters. It was the same feeling, benevolent, liberal mind, which, in the internal relations of life, conciliated the unfeigned love of those who see men as they are, which made him an inflexible patriot. He was devoted to the cause of liberty, not because he was haughty and untractable, but because he was beneficent and hu­mane.

Let his successors, who from this house behold this monument, reflect that their conduct will make it their glory or their reproach; let them be per­suaded that similarity of manners, not proximity of blood, gives them an interest in this statue.


[Page xcvii]On the death of Lord Rockingham, Lord Shel­burne (now Marquis of Landsdowne) was appointed First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury; and this giving umbrage to the Rockingham part of the cabi­net, who states, ‘"that by this change the measures of the former administration would be broken in upon,"’ Mr. Fox, Lord John Cavendish, Mr. Burke, and others, resigned their respective offices, when Mr. Pitt succeeded Lord John Cavendish as Chan­cellor of the Exchequer, the present Lord Sydney Mr. Fox, as Secretary of State, and Colonel Barré Mr. Burke, as Paymaster-General of the Forces.

By this change Mr. Burke fell once more into the ranks of opposition, and continued so till after the peace of 1783. We have now followed Mr. Burke to this period, and it was easy and pleasant to follow him, as the road was direct, and he was always found in the middle of it, and though there were alluring prospects on either side, he was never known to be drawn aside from the rugged path of virtue and in­tegrity.

He had travelled this road many years, and was never known to faint or lag in the dreary journey, with many companions, it is true; rich in worth, rich in wealth, but Mr. Burke was only rich in fame, and he had a son, the centre of his affections. Mr. Burke, at that period, shone to the highest advantage in every point of view; even the shades of his character served to embody the lights‘"He censures God who quar­rels with the imperfections of man."’ He had lost his leading star in his patron, and thus, for a moment bewildered, he fell into the coalition, so often repro­bated by members of a more extraordinary one. The result of this junction of parties was, that the Duke of Portland was placed at the head of the Treasury, Lord John Cavendish resumed his office as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord North and Mr. Fox were appointed Secretaries of State, Mr. [Page xcviii] Sheridan Secretary to the Treasury, and Mr. Burke Paymaster-General of the Forces.

On the 18th of November, 1783, Mr. Fox moved for leave to bring in his East-India Bill; leave was given, and on the first of December following, when the question was put, that the Speaker ‘"do now leave the chair,"’ after some opposition to it, Mr. Burke rose, and defended the principles of the bill in a speech, in which it may almost be said, that he surpassed himself in brilliancy of language and rich­ness of argument; it would not fall short of a com­parison with India itself—such dominion of mind, such grasp of thought—such powers of description—and so intimate a knowledge of the subject, that every scene seemed to be the effect of magic instead of oratory. The peroration is the finest in any lan­guage, for it was the character of his friend Mr. Fox (See page 461)—

Warm from the soul, and faithful to its fires.

In the discussion of this bill, Mr. Burke noticed particularly a phrase that had frequently been em­ployed (by Mr. W. Pitt) with a view of exciting odium against the bill and its promoters, viz. ‘"the chartered rights of men."’ The phrase, he observed, was full of affectation and ambiguity. The rights of men, that is, the natural rights of mankind, he said, were sacred things, and if any public measure was sound mischievously to affect them, that circumstance ought to be an objection fatal to the measure, but that was not the case here; the rights the India Com­pany's charters communicated (to speak of them in terms of the greatest possible moderation) did, at least, suspend the natural rights of mankind, and were liable to fall into a direct violation of them, and it was the absolute duty of parliament, he added, to guard against such violation. A new arrangement of ministers took place in 1783, when Mr. W. Pitt was appointed First Lord of the Treasury.

[Page xcix]The next subject of importance that occupied the parliamentary attention of Mr. Burke was the im­peachment of Mr. Hastings. On the 17th of Fe­bruary, 1785, Mr. Burke opened the accusation. ‘"I am told,"’ said he, ‘"that the step I am now about to take, is not likely to be a pleasing one to the pub­lic, and that the good people of England wish that their old and popular member would decline it, but there is a sentence in the best book which tingles in my ear—Happy are ye when men shall revile you, and speak lightly of you for my sake."’

This speech was very long, but he had the happy art of rendering it interesting. ‘"Had Mr. Hastings,"’ said he, ‘"taught the pyramid to seek the sky, had he conducted the plough into the desolate bosom of the valley, reined the proud arch over the foaming flood, sent the sluggard to the ant, the politician to the bee, and the plunderer to prison, I should be readier to applaud him than I am to accuse him, but instead of that, he banished science from her natal seat, the native princes were packed up in prisons like bales of muslin, and left to feed on the vapours of a gaol, even deprived of opium to lull their senses into forgetfulness; the plough was arrested in its shining career, and wherever he trod he marked his footsteps in blood and devastation."’ After this he proceeded to a description of the province of Oude, the paradise of the ancients, and having depicted the beauty and natural fertility of that country in all the glow of a youthful poet; he adverted to the unhappy state of the Zemindars, and the con­duct of Mr. Hastings to the Rohillas. Those who heard this speech imagined that little more could be said on the subject, but what was their surprize when Mr. Sheridan delivered his celebrated oration on sum­ming up the Begum charge, on Friday, June 6, 1788, which abounded with so many beauties, that to point out one in preference to the other, would be to at­tempt to single out a star in the milky way? Ambitious, [Page c] however, that some portion of it should adorn our humble page, we insert the following, where speak­ing of the calamities brought on the province of Oude by the English.

‘"Had a stranger, at this time (in 1782) gone into the kingdom of Oude, ignorant of what had hap­pened since the death of Sujah Dowla, that man, who, with a savage heart had still great lines of cha­racter, and who, with all his ferocity in war, had still, with a cultivating hand, preserved to his country the riches which it derived from benignant skies and a prolific soil. If this stranger, ignorant of all that had happened in the short interval, and observing the wide and general devastation, and all horrors of the scene—of plains uncloathed and brown—of vegeta­tion burnt up and extinguished—of villages depo­pulated and in ruin—of temples unroofed and perish­ing—of reservoirs broken down and dry—he would naturally enquire what war has thus laid waste the fertile fields of this once beautiful and opulent coun­try—what civil dissentions have happened thus to tear asunder, and separate the happy societies that once possessed those villages—what disputed succes­sion—what religious rage has, with unholy violence, demolished those temples, and disturbed fervent, but unobtruding piety, in the exercises of its duties?—What merciless enemy has thus spread the horrors of fire and sword—what severe visitation of Providence has thus dried up the fountain, and taken from the face of the earth every vestige of verdure? Or rather, what monsters have stalked over the country, taint­ing and poisoning, with pestiferous breath, what the voracious appetite could not devour? To such ques­tion, what must be the answer? No wars have ra­vaged these lands and depopulated these villages—no civil discords have been felt—no disputed suc­cession—no religious rage—no merciless enemy—no affliction of Providence, which, while it scourged for the moment, cut off the sources of resuscitation [Page ci] —no voracious and poisoning monsters—no, all this has been accomplished by the friendship, generosity, and kindness of the English nation. They have em­braced us with their protecting arms, and, lo! those are the fruits of their alliance. What, then, shall we be told, that under such circumstances, the ex­asperated feelings of a whole people, thus goaded and spurred on to clamour and resistance, were ex­cited by the poor and seeble influence of the Begums! When we hear from Captain Naylor the description that he gives of the paroxism, fever and delirium, into which despair had thrown the natives, when on the banks of the polluted Ganges, panting for death, they tore more widely open the lips of their gaping wounds, to accelerate their dissolution, and while their blood was issuing presented their ghastly eyes to Heaven, breathing their last and fervent prayer that the dry earth might not be suffered to drink their blood, but that it might rise up to the throne of God, and rouse the eternal Providence to avenge the wrongs of their country. Will it be said that this was brought about by the incantations of these Begums in their secluded Zenana? or that they could inspire this enthusiasm and this despair into the breasts of a people who felt no grievance, and had suffered no torture? What motive, then, could have such influence in their bosom? What motive! That which Nature, the common parent, plants in the bosom of man, and which, though it may be less active in the Indian than in the Englishman, is still congenial with and makes a part of his being—that feeling which tells him, that man was never made to be the property of man; but that when through pride and insolence of power, one human creature dares to tyrannize over another, it is a power usurped, and resistance is a duty—that feeling which tells him that all power is delegated for the good, not for the injury of the people, and that when it is converted from the original purpose, the compact is broken, [Page cii] and the right is to be resumed—that principle which tells him that resistance to power usurped is not merely a duty which he owes to himself and to his neighbour, but a duty which he owes to his God, in asserting and maintaining the rank which he gave him in his creation!—to that common God, who, where he gives the form of man, whatever may be the complexion, gives also the feelings and the rights of man—that principle, which neither the rudeness of ignorance can stifle, nor the enervation of re­finement extinguish!—that principle which makes it base for a man to suffer when he ought to act, which, tending to preserve to the species the original desig­nations of Providence, spurns at the arrogant dis­tinction of man, and vindicates the independent qua­lity of his race."’ He said, that it had been a practice with Mr. Hastings to hold himself out as a preter­natural being, gifted with good fortune, or else the peculiar favourite of Heaven, and that Providence never failed to take up and carry, by wife but hidden means, every project of his to its destined end. In this blasphemous way did the prisoner at the bar libel the course of Providence. Thus, according to him, when his corruptions and bribers were on the eve of exposure, Providence inspired the heart of Nunducomar to commit a low, base crime, in order to save Mr. Hastings from ruin. Thus, also, when in his attempts on Cheyt Sing, and his plunder of the Begums, Providence stepped in, and inspired the one with resistance, and the other with rebellion, to forward his purposes. Thus did he arrogantly hold himself forth as a man, not only the favourite of Providence, but as one for whose sake Provi­dence departed from the eternal cause of its own wise dispensations. Thus did he presume to say that he was honoured and assisted in the administration of office by inspiring felonies, heaven-born crimes, and providential treasons! Arraigning that Providence, whose works are goodness, and whose ways are right.

[Page ciii]Mr. Burke's panegyric on this speech ought not to be omitted; it ran nearly as follows:—

‘"He has, this day, surprized the thousands who hung with rapture on his accents, by such an array of talents, such an exhibition of capacity, such a display of powers, as are unparalleled in the annals of oratory; a display that reflected the highest honor upon himself—lustre upon letters—renown upon par­liament—glory upon the country. Of all species of rhetoric, of every kind of eloquence that has been witnessed or recorded, either in ancient or modern times; whatever the acuteness of the bar, the dignity of the senate, the solidity of the judgment-seat, and the sacred morality of the pulpits, have hitherto fur­nished; nothing have equalled what we have this day heard in Westminster-hall. No holy seer of religion, no statesman, no orator, no man of any literary description whatever, has come up, in the one instance, to the pure sentiments of morality, or, in the other, to that variety of knowledge, force of imagination, propriety and vivacity of allusion, beauty and elegance of diction, strength and copiousness of stile, pathos and sublimity of conception, to which we, this day, listened with ardour and admiration. From poetry up to eloquence, there is not a species of composition of which a complete and perfect spe­cimen might not, from that single speech, be called and collected."’

Those who had never read Mr. Burke's speeches, or heard him speak before, might be easily induced to suppose that he had reserved all the stores of his elo­quence for the impeachment of Mr. Hastings, so that the beauties of those speeches were as countless as the beauties of the fair that assembled to listen to them. In the course of one of them he stiled Mr. Hast­ings ‘"The Commander and Captain General of the Enormities in India."’ When he conferred this title on him, he took care that it should not be a mere empty one; he soon furnished him with abundance [Page civ] of troops, agents, &c. which he marshalled and de­picted in the most artful and eloquent manner. Hav­ing drawn the character of Congo Bulwant Sing (a secretary employed by Mr. Hastings) in the blackest colours, he came to that of Debi Sing, which he painted as one of the greatest villains that ever stained the page of history. ‘"This monster,"’ or rather this collection of monsters, according to Mr. Burke, ‘"raised the rents of the inhabitants. He crouded the prisons with persons of all ranks, and made them give bonds to what amount he pleased, as the price of their liberty; these bonds were put in force, and their demesnes sold at one year's purchase, to cancel the unjust debt. This was not sufficient; he sold even the very ground destined for the burial of the owners, and this was to them, from the nature of their edu­cation and religion, the most heart-rending of all their losses. Having robbed the living of their liberty, food, &c. and the dead even of a resting place, he recollected there was another class, the poor peasantry, who, though unable to assist in the gratification of his avarice, they could still, however, administer to his cruelty.’

‘"This inoffensive race was cruelly tortured; cords were drawn tight round the fingers, until the flesh of the four on each hand was actually incorporated and become one solid mass; the fingers were then sepa­rated by wedges of iron, and wood driven in between them. Others were tied two and two by the feet, and thrown across a wooden bar, upon which they hung with their feet uppermost; they were then beat on the soals of their feet until their toe-nails dropped off.’

‘"They were afterwards beat about the head until the blood gushed out at the mouth, nose, and ears; they were also flogged upon the naked body with bamboo canes and prickly bushes, and, above all, with some poisonous weeds, which were of a most caustic nature, and burnt at every touch. The cruelty of the mon­ster [Page cv] who had ordered all this, had contrived to tear the mind as well as body; he frequently had a father and a son tied naked to one another by the feet and arms, and then flogged until the skin was torn from the flesh; and he had the devilish satisfaction to know that every blow must hurt, for if one escaped the son, his sensibility was wounded by the knowledge he had that the blow had fallen upon his father; when the same torture was felt by the father, then he knew that every blow that missed him had fallen upon his son.’

‘"The treatment of the females could not be de­scribed; dragged forth from the inmost recesses of their houses, which the religion of the country had made for many sanctuaries, they were exposed naked to the public view; the virgins were carried to the court of justice, where they might naturally have looked for protection; but now they looked for it in vain, for in the face of the ministers of justice, in the face of the spectators, in the face of the sun, those tender and modest virgins were brutally violated.’

‘"The only difference between their treatment and that of the mothers was, that the former were dis­honoured in the face of day, the latter in the gloomy recesses of their dungeons. Other females had the nipples of their breasts put in a clift of bamboo, and torn off: What modesty in all nations most carefully conceals, this monster revealed to view, and con­sumed by slow fires, nay, some of the monstrous tools of this monster Debi Sing had, horrid to tell, carried their unnatural brutality so far as to introduce death into the source of life."’

Here Mr. Burke dropt his head upon his hands, unable to proceed, so greatly was he oppressed by the horror which he felt at this relation. The effect of it was visible through the whole auditory; the late Mrs. Sheridan fainted away, several ladies sunk un­der the agitation of their feelings, amongst others Mrs. Siddons. Such a tragedy was never exhibited [Page cvi] on any stage, or delivered in such impassionate tones; and when his tongue could no longer perform its office, indignation and pity alternately spoke from his brow.

Notwithstanding Mr. Burke could command all the figures of rhetoric, all the flowers of fancy, all the beauties of poetry, all the fruits of experience, all the axioms, maxims, authorities, and quotations of ancient and modern writers, yet he could not command his temper, nor could he mention Mr. Hasting's name without adding some degrading epithet, which he well knew he ought not to do, out of respect to the Court, and even to himself. This involved him sometimes in dilemmas which he might have easily avoided, if he had followed the gentleman-like con­duct of Mr. Fox, and the rest of the managers. On one of these occasions he was rebuked by a right reverend prelate. On the 13th of June, 1793, Mr. Francis de [...]ended the conduct of Mr. Burke as a manager, and lamented that he who had written so much in favour of a certain class of men, did not experience gentler treatment from them; the scrip­ture had said (continued Mr. Francis) ‘"Put not your trust in princes,"’ and if he might take the liberty he would add, nor yet bishops. Mr. Burke thanked Mr. Francis, and said, ‘"He never did, nor would, put his trust in great men, nor in little men, but in him that commanded him neither to trust in the one nor the other."’ Mr. Fox, on the opening of the Benares charge, having occasion to mention Mr. Burke, could not be satisfied with the bare mention of a name that was so dear to him.

‘"If we are no longer in shameful ignorance of India,"’ said he, ‘"if India no longer makes us blush, in the eyes of Europe, let us know and feel our obligations to him—whose admirable resources of opinion and affection, whose untiring toil, sublime genius, and high aspiring honour, raised him up con­spicuous among the most beneficent worthies of mankind."’

[Page cvii]We shall not pretend to say what was the mo­tive which induced Mr. Burke to become the pub­lic accuser of Mr. Hastings; but his perseverance in the pursuit undoubtedly tended to encrease his fame, which was then on the decline, and if he had abstained from all asperity of language to the accused, he would have stood in a still fairer point of view with the public; perhaps no man ever exhibited, even in his very countenance, tone, and gesture, a higher degree of personal triumph than he did the day after he found himself in the majority on the question of impeachment. Having met one of his friends, he could scarce contain himself with rapture, ‘"This is a proud day for England,"’ said he, ‘"what a glorious prospect! her justice extending to Asia, her humanity to Africa, her friendship to America, and her faith and good will to all Europe."’

The result of the impeachment is so well known, and the whole of the proceedings so amply detailed in various publications, that it is unnecessary to dwell any longer on the subject.

In the debate on the commercial treaty with France, on the 23d of January, 1787, Mr. Burke opposed it with his usual eloquence and violence. Mr. Pitt, he said, with that narrowness which leads men of limitted minds to look at great objects in a confined point of view, spoke of the transaction as if it was the affair of two little 'compting-houses, and not of two great nations. He seemed to consider it as a contention between the sign of the Fleur-de-lis and the sign of the old Red Lion, which should ob­tain the best custom.

‘"The love,"’ said he ‘"that France bears to this coun­try has been depicted in all the glowing rant of romance. Nay, in order to win upon our passions at the ex­pence of our reason, she has been personified—decked out in all her Lilies—and endued with a heart inca­pable of infidelity, and a tongue that seems only at a loss to convey the artless language of that heart. [Page cviii] She desires nothing more than to be in friendship with us. She has stretched forth her arms to em­brace us; nay more, she has stretched them through the sea—witness Cherbourg. Curiosity may be in­dulged, without danger, in surveying the pyramids of Egypt, those monuments of human power for no human purpose. Would I could say the same of Cherbourg. We gaze at the works now carrying on in that harbour, like the silly Trojans, who gazed at the wooden horse, whose bowels teemed with their destruction."’

The two houses met on the 27th of November, 1787. It was stated in the speech that the King of Prussia had taken measures to enforce his demand of satisfaction for the insult offered to the Princess of Orange.

Mr. Burke took occasion to mention the King's speech, which he spoke of with great humour and pleasantry; he said, it was usual to hold it out as a morsel of finished eloquence, and as a proof of the minister's powers of composition. The speech was certainly an extraordinary performance, but if any man was to make it, and the facts it contained the grounds of historical narrative, he would certainly risque a good deal of ridicule. Instead of grave history, it partook more of the nature of an epic poem, rather resembling an agreeable allegory, or a romance in the style of ancient chivalry. It re­minded him pretty strongly of Palmeron of England, Don Bellianis of Greece, and other books of that romantic nature, which he formerly had lost much of his time in reading. He was glad to find, however, that the gallantry of those kings and princes, that had so eminently distinguished themselves when chi­valry prevailed, was revived. Let any gentleman examine the vein in which the speech proceeded, and he would instantly perceive the strong resemblance it bore to the subjects of ancient romance. A chi­valrous king hearing that a princess had been affront­ed, [Page cix] takes his lance, assembles his knights, and deter­mines to do her justice. He sets out instantly with his knights in quest of adventures, and carries all before him, atchieving wonders in the cause of the injured princess. This reminded him of the ancient story of a princess named Latona, who, having been insulted by a nation, like the Dutch, appealed to Jupiter for satisfaction, when the God, in revenge for her wrongs, turned the nation that had affronted her into a nation of frogs, and left them to live among dykes and wa­ters. [The House burst into a roar of laughter at the apt introduction of this old fable.] Mr. Burke pursued his pleasantry with laughable comments on the speech, and among others he remarked, that although the King of Prussia had professedly set out merely to obtain adequate satisfaction for the injury done his sister; his army, by accident, took Utrecht, possessed themselves of Amsterdam, restored the Stadtholder and the former government, and all this at a stroke, and, by the bye, which put him in mind of a verse in a sprightly song of Cowley's (his ballad, entitled the Chronicle) that he often had read with pleasure,

But when Isabella came
Arm'd with resistless flame
And th' artillery of her eye,
While she proudly marched about,
Greater conquests to find out,
She beat out Susan, by the bye.

Though Mr. Burke affected to despise popularity, yet no man, perhaps, was ever more susceptible of flattery, which he always paid in kind, but a stroke of wit, or a single paragraph in a newspaper, were sufficient to discompose his temper, particularly when he was sinking into the vale of life. A few years since, he happened to call on an old friend, who was very fond of collecting prints of British patriots. Mr. Burke was not a little pleased to see one of himself in that list, with the following rude, but pointed lines written under it with a pencil, which he did not imme­diately perceive;

[Page cx]
Pelliculam veterem retinet, ac fronte polite
Astutam vapido servat sub pectore vulpem.

The old gentleman saw, by Mr. Burke's counte­nance, that it displeased him, but protested he was wholly ignorant of the writer, and that, as he did not understand Latin, he thought the lines were filled with his praise, and immediately effaced them, but they had sunk too deep in Mr. Burke's memory to be effaced; he took a hasty leave, and never after entered the house. In the parliamentary recess of 1788, he went to Ireland, accompanied by his son. His arrival in that country was announced in a provincial newspaper in the following words: ‘"Af­ter an absence of many years, the celebrated Irish orator and British member of parliament, Edmund Burke, has arrived in his native country. It is not flattery to say, that he is the boast of the English senate, and the glory of the Irish nation."’ One of the first poets in that kingdom wrote some encomi­astic verses on the occasion, which Mr. Burke repaid in prose, equal in point of fancy and imagination to the tuneful effusion. It was deemed a little ex­traordinary that the university of Dublin did not then present him with the honorary degree of doctor of laws, but he was never heard to acknowledge that he was highly indebted to the education which he received in that seminary. Having spent some months in the south of Ireland, he returned to England. The Reverend Doctor Campbell* hap­pened to sail in the packet with him; ‘"I don't know any thing,"’ said the Doctor to a friend one day, ‘"that gave me so much pleasure as to find that I was to cross the Irish Hellespont in the company of a man of whom I had heard so much. I was extremely sorry that I had not the honour of being known to any one of the passengers who could [Page cxi] introduce me to him, but it was not difficult to pro­voke Mr. Burke to conversation. We were in sight of the hill of Howth just as the sun began to spread his beams. Mr. Burke enjoyed the beauties of the scenery, even the light clouds, which enveloped the top of the hill, did not escape his attention; ‘"I won­der, said he, that some of the Dublin milliners do not form a head-dress in imitation of those many coloured clouds, and call it the Howth-cap."’ His conversation was rich and captivating; he told me he had passed some days at Lord Kenmere's country seat, near the lakes of Killarney—that delightful spot, which taste seems to have selected from all that is beautiful in the volume of nature. But his description of it exceeded any thing I had ever read or heard before, particularly when he touched on the flowery race; good heaven! how he cloathed the lilly in new-born light, and the rose in virgin blushes; in short, it may be said, that he almost coloured round. Speaking of Lord Charlemont, he praised the gentleness of his manners, and the mildness of his temper, and con­cluded by comparing him to an old picture, whose tints were mellowed by time. When I talked of the state of learning in Ireland, he shook his head, folded his arms, and remained silent for a few mi­nutes. In his person he is about five feet eight inches, remarkably straight for his years, but his mind is more erect than his body. There is a good deal of placidity in his countenance, but nothing of dignity, and, from his nose, I think that no man can sneer with more ease and effect if he chuses."’

A gentleman, (Mr. T—) favoured me some time since with the following minutes of a conversation with Mr. Burke:—

‘"December the sixth I happened to be in Mr. Townley's study; about eleven o'clock Mr. Burke and the Reverend Doctor King came in to view Mr. Townley's fine collection of statues. Mr. Burke seemed highly pleased with the whole, particularly [Page cxii] that of the Baian Homer. Having paid many just compliments to the taste of the collector, he entered into conversation with me in so easy and friendly a manner, that if I was charmed a few minutes before with the taste and judicious reflection of the scholar, I was not less delighted with the man. I shewed him an old manuscript copy of Homer (written, I believe, in the tenth century) he read a few passages in it with the greatest fluency, and criticised some of the critics who had written on the father of im­mortal verse. He invited me to breakfast with him the next morning, without so much as knowing my name. I promised to do myself that honour. My name is Edmund Burke, said he, just as he was going out of the door, I live in Gerard-street, Soho. I called the next morning about nine; it was exces­sively cold; I was shewn into the drawing-room, and in a few minutes Mr. Burke entered, and shook me by the hand in the most friendly manner.’

Mr. B. ‘"Have you been long out of Ireland, Sir?"’

T. ‘"Some years."’

Mr. B. ‘"I paid that country a visit last sum­mer, for the purpose of seeing a sister, a widow (Mrs. French, I believe) I had not seen it for twenty years before."’

T. ‘"It's very much changed within the last twenty years."’

Mr. B. ‘"Very much for the better."’

T. ‘"A spirit of industry has pervaded almost every quarter of the kingdom; the morals of the people are improved, the country gentlemen, in many parts, have relinquished the favourite amuse­ments of the chace for the plough."’

Mr. B. ‘"Not as much as I could wish, but still more than I expected. As to agriculture, it may be called the eighth science. ‘"We may talk what we please,"’ says Cowley, of ‘"lillies and lions rampant, and spread eagles in fields d'or or d'argent, but if [Page cxiii] heraldry were guided by reason, a plough in a field arable would be the most noble and ancient arms."’

T. ‘Very true, Sir, but it is said that the physical situation of Ireland is not favourable to the progress of tillage.’

Mr. B. ‘I have often heard so, but experience proves the contrary. I saw, and I saw it with plea­sure, in my little tour through some parts of the south of Ireland, two or three mountains cloathed with luxuriant grass, that in my time was scarcely covered with barren heath, and half-starved briars, Breakfast was now brought in, young Mr. Burke and Dr. King were present.’

T. ‘There are many passages in the ancient laws of Ireland that evince that agriculture flourished at a very early period in that country.’

Mr. B. ‘Do you mean in the Brehon laws? I wish they were translated.’

T. ‘I wish so too; I am sure the university of Dublin is very much obliged to you, Sir, for the fragments which you presented of the sea-bright collection; they are valuable, as they contain many particulars that shed light on the manners and customs of the ancient Irish, but life is short, and, in some respect, it would be a pity that a man of genius should waste his time in such pursuits.’

Mr. B. ‘To set a man of genius down to such a task, would be to yoke a courser of the sun in a mud cart. No, no, one of your cool plodding half-burnt bricks of the creation would be the fittest per­son in the world for such studies.’

T. ‘Colonel Vallancy has laboured hard in that mine.’

Mr. B. ‘Yes, in that race he has carried off the prize of industry from all his competitors, and if he has done nothing more, he has wakened a spirit of curiosity in that line, but he has built too much on etymology, and that's a very sandy foundation.’

[Page cxiv] Dr. King. ‘Ireland was samed for piety and learn­ing at a very early period.’

Mr. B. ‘Bede says so, and several other writers.’

Dr. King. ‘Can you speak Irish?’

Mr. B. ‘I could speak a little of it when I was a boy, and I can remember a few words and phrases still. Poetry was highly cultivated by the ancient Irish; some of their kings were so smitten with the love of song as to exchange the sceptre for the harp.’

T. ‘The bards were very much protected and en­couraged, but having indulged too much in satire and ribaldry, they were rather dreaded than esteemed, and, at one time, the whole body was on the eve of being banished, if St. Columkill had not interfered.’

Mr. B. ‘Sedulius was an excellent poet.’

T. ‘Yes, his Latin poetry is very much admired.’

Mr. B. ‘I read one of his hymns, that glowed with all the poet, the spirit of it might be said to ascend like the spirit of a Christian martyr, in the midst of flames, but I never could light on his works.’

T. ‘Nor I neither, but many of his verses are scattered through Colgan.’

Mr. B. ‘Wherever they are scattered they will shine like stars. There was a poet that used to compose a little in his native language when I was a boy, I forget his name.’

T. ‘Dignum, I suppose.’

Mr. B. ‘Yes, yes, he could neither read nor write, nor speak any language but his own. I have seen some of his effusions translated into English, but was assured, by judges, that they fell far short of the original, yet they contained some graces ‘"snatched beyond the reach of art."’ I remember one thought in an address to a friend; the poet advises him to lose no time in paying his addresses to a young lady, for that she was of age, and, as á proof of it, ‘"upon her cheek he saw love's letter sealed with a damask rose."’ Spencer, who was himself a bard, says, that [Page cxv] the Irish poetry was sprinkled with many pretty flowers. I wish they were collected in one nosegay.’

T. ‘Yes, Sir, but there is no encouragement.’

Mr. B. ‘No, not in this rust of the iron age. I wish; however, that some able, industrious, and pa­tient pen, would give a history of that country; it is much wanted.’

T. ‘Great expectations were formed from Doctor Leland; he had leisure, talents, and almost every op­portunity. When Lord Chesterfield was viceroy of that kingdom, he was told that the Doctor intended to follow up a prospectus he had published on the sub­ject of a voluminous history, his lordship one day at levee applauded the Doctor's intentions, but re­quested that he would make it a pleasant one.’

Mr. B. ‘Your pleasant historians should be read with caution. Leland promised a voluminous his­tory, and so far he has kept his promise, but he has not done justice to all.’

T. ‘It is said that he had an eye to a mitre.’

Mr. B. ‘Mitres and coronets will dazzle, but the truth is, he had an eye to his bookseller, and, to be candid, he went over it with a heavy hand.’

T. ‘He has scarce dipped into the earlier ages.’

Mr. B. ‘He was no antiquary, but he might have said a little more on the subject. Hooker says, ‘"the reason why first we do admire those things which are greatest, and secondly those things which are ancientest, is, because the one is least distant from the infinite substance, the other from the infinite con­tinuance of God."’ Neither has he detailed with candour the feuds betwixt the house of Desmond and Butler.’

T. ‘The implacable hatred that existed betwixt the two is astonishing.’

Mr. B. ‘Struggles for power. I remember an anecdote of one of the Desmond's, I don't know which, who happened to be severely wounded in an engagement with a party of the Butler's, one of the [Page cxvi] latter threw him on his shoulders to carry him off in tri­umph, and as he passed along, tauntingly asked him, ‘"Ah, Desmond, where are you now?"’ though quite feeble from loss of blood, he collected all his expir­ing strength, and exclaimed, ‘"Where am I? I am where I ought to be, on the neck of my enemy."’

The conversation turned on poetry, which Mr. Burke called ‘"the art of substantiating shadows, and to lend existence to nothing."’ He praised Milton for the judicious choice of his epithets; this led him to say a few words on the use and abuse of those flowery adjectives, as Pontanus calls them, and lamented that some person of taste did not collect a garland of them out of the English poets, as Tex­tor had out of the Latin, which laid every classical scholar under great obligation to him, as he had plucked the fairest flowers that sipped castalion dew.

Geography, he said, was an earthly subject, but a heavenly study. One of the company happened to mention some gentlemen who intended to promote discoveries in the interior parts of Africa, Mr. Burke said, the intention was truly laudable; ‘"Africa,"’ he said, ‘"was worth exploring, it seemed as if nature, in some great convulsion or revolution of her empire, had fled to that quarter with all her treasures, some of which she had concealed in the bowels of the earth, but the surface exhibited such abundance and variety of the vegetable and animal race, that a few miles would enrich the conquests of natural history. Witness on the very shores of that continent—the cabbage-tree, that towered into all the sublimity of the pine, and the luxuriance of the spreading oak, and yet so tender that a few strokes of a fabre were sufficient to lay it prostrate on the earth. Africa was rightly called the mother of monsters, for there was not a sufficient number of minor animals else­where to feed the huge beasts that ranged the forests in that country. He was persuaded the inte­rior [Page cxvii] was healthy, civilized, and so fertile, that the reaper trod on the heels of the sower.’

‘"But the thirst of European avarice and cruelty had raised a barrier round the coasts of that quarter, which prevented all communication with the inoffen­sive inhabitants. The sight of a white face was suf­ficient to make their curly locks stand on end. Death is natural to man, but slavery unnatural, and the moment you strip a man of his liberty, you strip him of all his virtues; you convert his heart into a dark hole, in which all the vices conspire against you."’ Towards the close of the conversation, he asked me if I was acquainted with Mr. Sheridan; I answered, that I was very sorry I could not boast that honour. I shall have the pleasure, said he, of introducing you to him, for he is one of the best natured men in the universe; he accompanied me, on my departure, to the door, and told me that Dr. King was a very learned man, assured me that he would be very happy to see me at Beconsfield, ‘"throw yourself in a coach, said he, come down and make my house your inn."’

In 1788, several petitions were presented to the House of Commons, praying the abolition of the slave trade, and on the 9th of May, in the same year, Mr. Pitt moved and carried a resolution founded on their petitions, the purport of which was, to de­clare that the House would proceed to the investiga­tion of that infamous traffic early in the next session.

Mr. Burke entered into this subject with the spirit of a man who felt for all mankind. His eloquence was never poured forth in a better cause—it was the cause of humanity. As he knew that he had interest and prejudice to contend with, he took the question even on these grounds; he clearly evinced the im­policy of it, raised the African from that low scale of creation into which he had been thrown, up to the dignity of man, vindicated the wisdom, goodness, and providence of God, in the formation, situation, and order of all his beings. His description of a [Page cxviii] slave ship, and the unhappy wretches that were piled together in its womb, drew tears from many that heard him. He then ran out into an eulogy on humanity, in order to shew that man, divested of feeling, may be classed with the greatest monster.—The part which he took during his Majesty's indis­position in 1788, is sufficiently known. Mr. Burke's best friends must lament that he did not abstain from some expressions on that melancholy occasion, which have subtracted from the sincerity of subsequent pro­fessions. His sovereign, however, treated him in a very different manner when he was afflicted by the hand of Providence. During the discussion of this business in parliament, Mr. Pitt addressed a letter to the Prince of Wales, dated 30th December, which stated, ‘"that it was the opinion of his Majesty's faithful servants, that His Royal Highness should be empowered to exercise the royal authority during the illness, and in the name of his father; provided ne­vertheless, that the care of the King's person, with the disposition of his household, should be committed to the Queen; and that the power to be exercised by the Prince, should not extend to the personal pro­perty of his father; to the granting of any office, reversion or pension, except where the law absolutely required it, as in the case of the judges, for any other term than during the King's pleasure; nor to the con­ferring of any peerage, unless upon such persons of the royal issue as should have attained the age of twenty one years."’ The Prince of Wales's answer was written by Mr. Burke, is dated Jan. 29, 1789. It is worthy of being presented as a pure model of the epistolary stile, and expressive of the sentiments of the Prince on a subject of the highest and most natural concern, and personal delicacy. After acknowledg­ing the receipt of Mr. Pitt's letter, ‘"Nothing,"’ he said, ‘"done by the two Houses of Parliament, could be a proper subject of his animadversion; but when, previously to any discussion in parliament, the out­line [Page cxix] of a scheme of government, in which it was proposed that he should be personally and principally concerned, and by which the royal authority and the public welfare might be deeply affected, were sent to him for his consideration, it would be unjustifiable in him to withhold an explicit declaration of his sen­timents. His silence might be construed into a previous approbation of a plan, the accomplishment of which every motive of duty to his father and sovereign, as well as of regard for the public interest, obliged him to consider as injurious to both. He did not expect that a plan, by which government was to be rendered difficult, if not impracticable, would be offered to his consideration, at a moment when government, deprived of its chief energy and support, seemed peculiarly to need the cordial and united aid of all descriptions of good subjects. He forbore to remark on the several parts of the sketch laid before him. It was not probable that any argu­ment of his would produce an alteration of sentiment in the projectors of it. But he trusted to the wisdom and justice of parliament, when the subject should come under their deliberation. It was with deep regret that he perceived in the contents of Mr. Pitt's paper a project for introducing weakness, disorder, insecurity into every branch of political business;—a project for dividing the royal family from each other; for separating the court from the state; and depriving government of its natural and accustomed support;—a scheme for disconnecting the authority to command service, from the power of animating it by reward; and for allotting to the prince all the invidious duties of government, without the means of softening them to the public by any one act of grace, favour, or benignity. His feelings were ren­dered more painful by observing, that the plan was not founded in any general principle, but was cal­culated to infuse jealousies and suspicions in that quarter, whose confidence it would ever be the first [Page cxx] pride of his life to merit and obtain. On the mo­tives and object of the restriction he had little to observe. Ministers had only informed him what the powers were which they meant to refuse, not why they were withheld. As the powers and preroga­tives of the crown were vested there in trust for the benefit of the people, and were secured only because necessary to preserve the point and balance of the constitution, the plea of public utility ought to be strong, manifest, and urgent, which called for the extinction or suspension of any one of those essential rights in the supreme power or its representatives, or which could justify the prince in consenting, that in his person an experiment should be made, to ascertain with how small a portion of the kingly power the executive government of the country might be carried on. If security for the king's re­possessing his rightful government were any part of the object of the proposed plan, the prince had only to be convinced that any measure was necessary, or even conducive to that end, to be the first to urge it, as the preliminary and paramount consideration of any settlement, in which he would consent to share. If attention to what it was presumed might be the king's feelings and wishes on the happy day of his recovery were the object, it was with the truest sin­cerity the prince expressed his firm conviction, that no event could be more repugnant to the feelings of his royal father, than to know, that the government of his son and representative had exhibited the sove­reign power in a state of degradation, of curtailed authority, and diminished energy—a state, hurtful in practice to the prosperity and good government of his people, and injurious in its precedent to the secu­rity of the monarch, and the rights of his family. The prince also felt himself compelled to remark, that it was not necessary for Mr. Pitt, nor proper, to suggest a restraint on his granting away the king's real and personal property: he did not conceive that [Page cxxi] he was by law entiled to make any such grant; and he was sure, that he never had shewn the smallest inclination to possess any such power. He had dis­charged his duty in thus giving his free opinion of the plan. Yet, his conviction of the evils which might arise from the government of the country, remained longer in a maimed and debilitated state, outweighed in his mind every other consideration, and would determine him to undertake the painful trust imposed upon him by the present melancholy necessity (which of all the king's subjects he deplored the most) in full confidence, that the affection and loyalty to the king, the experienced attachment to the House of Brunswick, and the generosity which had always distinguished the nation, would carry him through the many difficulties, inseparable from so critical a situation, with comfort to himself, with honour to the king, and with advantage to the pub­lic."’

Mr. Burke is also said to have been the author of a speech intended to have been delivered by the Duke of York in the upper House on certain pro­visions in the regency bill*. It abounds with elo­quence and argument, and does not appear to have diminished the writer's stock either of the one or the other, in the discussion of every stage of the bill. Mr. Burke sometimes ruffled even the placid temper of Mr. Pitt in these debates. The latter called the former to order several times. Mr. Burke was not very fond of being interrupted in his flights, especially when he mounted his fiery footed courser, and dealt out his arrows in almost every direction, which happened to be one night the case; the first time he was arrested in his career in a tone little less impassionate than his own, which did not escape his observation. ‘"The Right Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Pitt) said he, calls me to order in so mild a [Page cxxii] voice, that it reminds me of two lines which I once read in an old poet:—’

There roar'd the prophet of the northern nation,
Scorch'd in a flaming speech on moderation.

He had not proceeded very far when he was called to order again by Mr. Pitt, with a smile, which Mr. Burke said, reminded him of a line in another poet:

There madness laugh'd in ireful mood.

The asperities which passed betwixt these two gen­tlemen throughout the discussion of this bill, lest little room to expect for that coalition which after­wards took place.

On the 7th of March, 1788, Mr. Steele brought up the report of Mr. Pitt's East India Declaratory Bill. Mr. Burke declared, on the introduction of this bill that he would resist it in every stage; he kept his word, and having exhausted all his arguments, he flew to those that were inexhaustible in his hands—satyr and plea­santry. He was particularly severe on Mr. Dundas. He compared the bill itself to a Polypus of pream­bles; it came forward, he said, like other insects, in the humble form of an egg, then a caterpillar, then a fly, &c. He then changed the simile, and said, when it was first brought in it was shewn about like an abortion in a bottle. Such was the severity of some of his remarks, that even Mr. Dundas evidently evinced that he felt sore.

On the 2d of March, 1790, Mr. Fox moved for leave to bring in a bill to repeal the Corporation and Test Acts. Mr. Burke opposed the motion in a speech of considerable length, in the course of which he read several extracts from the political writings of Dr. Priestley, and commented on them with great acerbity and personal rancour.

Mr. Grey, actuated by the purest motives of hu­manity, brought in a bill for the relief of unfortunate debtors. Mr. Burke paid many handsome compli­ments [Page cxxiii] to the Honourable Mover, and the pains which he had taken to distinguish the unfortunate from the criminal. His (Mr. B's) description of the first class was extremely pathetic and affecting. The facility of credit in this country, he observed, gave the creditor a rash resort to the person of debtor. The mind of the latter might be said to be imprisoned even before his person was immured in the walls of a gaol. The sight of a strange face filled him with alarm, the ap­pearance of a letter shook his nerves, and a knock at the door filled his breast with anxiety, suspense, and fear: and after he had pined for some years in misery and distress, if enlarged by an act of grace or insolvency, he returned from the bare walls of a prison to the bare walls of a gloomy apartment and a famished family, with his credit blasted, and every ray of hope tinged with despair.

On the 27th of February, 1790, Mr. Flood gave notice that he intended, on the 4th of the next month, to move for leave to bring in a bill to re­form the representation in parliament. Mr. Burke requested his Honourable Friend (Mr. F.) would recal the notice he had just given, and abstain from all discussion on the subject; the fire of liberty, as it was falsely called, had been kindled in a neigh­bouring country, and he did not wish that one of the sparks of that flame should fall in this, for it was not that mild temperate flame that might be called the emanation of reason, religion, and prudence; but a devouring fire, at which the ferocious demagogue lighted his brand. This was the first time that he mentioned the revolution of France in the House of Commons. As he had touched on this subject, he scarce ever missed to introduce it in the most trivial debate. As Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Fox did not ac­company him to the full extent of all those Philippics, it was easy to observe, from his countenance and some expressions which he dropt, that he meditated an attack on those two gentlemen, which he carried [Page cxxiv] partly into execution on the report of the army estimates on the 5th of February, 1790. The manly openness and candour of Mr. Fox, and the mildness of his reply to what had fallen from Mr. Burke on that occasion, seemed to have some effect in soothing his temper for the time, so that he did not pour out all the vials of his wrath; but on the 9th of the same month he came down to the House, fully prepared to renew the attack; he began with a detail of the French revo­lution from what he called the blood-bud of it to the time he was speaking; he then entered into a history of the authors of it. Such a biographical sketch was never exhibited; scarce could the imagination of a Shakespeare call such a bloody, tyrannical, pro­scribing, ferocious, crew into existence; such a catalogue of crimes, such a list of vices, were never cast in the mint of human depravity: ‘"Those wretches,"’ he said, ‘"had lost all pretension to the name of man; they, like Herod and Nero, looked on humanity to be weakness, virtue a preju­dice; their hearts could be only warmed with the sacrilegious flames that devoured priests and altars; they naturalized murder, croaked and thirsted for blood and power, attempted to invert the very de­crees of nature, and called on confusion as the order of the day.’

Throughout the whole of this speech Mr. Burke did not so much as touch on lettres de cachet, the Bastile, or the farmers general, who drank the tears of the widows and orphans out of cups of gold.

Mr. Fox complimented Mr. Burke on his elo­quence, but repeated his former declaration, that if ever he could look at a standing army with less con­stitutional jealousy than before, it was now, since, during the late transactions in France, the army had manifested, that on becoming soldiers they did not cease to continue citizens, and would not act as the mere instruments of a despot. This expression re­newed Mr. Burke's choler, and as his brain was well [Page cxxv] known to be a mint of phrases, he attacked the French revolution with redoubled rage, nor was he choice of the epithets which he applied to Mr. Fox. They passed by him, it is true, like ‘"the idle wind which he respected not,"’ but his heart was so full to think of the conduct of a man who held so dear a place in it, that he burst into tears. Mr. Sheridan rose, and commented on Mr. Burke's speech with such irresistible force of argument, eloquence, and poignancy of wit, that Mr. Burke immediately threw off the mask, burst into an open declaration of hos­tilities, and declared that his Honourable Friend and he were from that moment separated in their politics for ever. His gesture and countenance on pro­nouncing these words, were compared by a gen­tleman in the gallery to the soldier mentioned in Lucan's Pharsalia, who was bit by a serpent in the desert of Lybia*. Mr. Burke's conduct on this occasion gave birth to various conjectures. It was supposed by some that he envied the talents of Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan, but truth is the daughter of time, and she has since brought the whole to light.

Mr. Burke was amongst the first to praise the revo­lution in Poland, but he was scarce ever heard to lament the fate of it. When he saw the foundation of that glorious edifice laid, he rejoiced at it, but when he saw it buried in ruins, he never was known to shed a tear over it. In commemoration of that promising event, in which, to use his own words, ‘"every thing was kept in its place and order, but in that place and order every thing was bettered,"’ the Poles struck a medal of the late unfortuate [Page cxxvi] Poniatouski, his majesty sent one of those warm from the mint to Mr. Burke, with a letter in his own hand writing in the English language, as he said, he thought it the most copious and energetic to convey the high sense which he entertained of Mr. Burke's patriotism and talents. Mr. Burke returned a very polite an­swer, stating that so high a mark of esteem might be supposed to awaken his vanity, but it tended rather to encrease his veneration and esteem for the cha­racter of a prince whom he had long admired. He said, he had no cabinet of medals, but that if he had the richest in the universe he was persuaded he would be at a loss in what illustrious series he would place that of his majesty. It must be placed as the first of a new one; he had a son, and happy would it be for him if he lived to be able to add a second to it. He then launched out in praise of the Polish revolution, the origin and progress of which he ascribed to the king; ‘"You,"’ said he, ‘"that may be truly called the father and not the proprietor of your people."’ He entreated his majesty to pardon the length of the letter, as the language of command was brevity, but he was grown old, and fond of dwelling on a theme so dear to his heart, besides it was the very nature of gratitude, that it thought it never could say enough.

On the 30th of April, 1792, Mr. Grey brought forward the question of parliamentary reform. Mr. Burke rose immediately after Mr. Fox had delivered his opinion on this momentous question. He claimed the indulgence of the House as one that did not trouble them often, and one who was not to be impelled by a small exigency. ‘"He knew himself unfit for the general duties of the House, and was not like the archbishop of Grenada, who, contrary to the motives and remonstrances of his best friends, would not be persuaded that his facul­ties were on the decline, when found no longer fit for the situation he held, he could, without great [Page cxxvii] concern, obey the voice that warned him to retire; yet, after serving in that House for twenty-seven years, he might still be of some use in defending it's borders, as invalids, after wearing out their youth, and compacted manhood, are placed in garrison, when discharged from the active duties of military life."’ He insisted that a remedy should not be re­sorted to till the disease was pointed out, and that the grievances pointed out and exaggerated, did not exist, and that the attempt was merely to ensnare people by the gingle of the word reform, a word of five letters, and worth little more than the sounds they conveyed.

Mr. Burke still affected a kind of whining friend­ship for Mr. Fox; he did not rise so often as usual, and when he did, it was merely to introduce the French revolution. Almost every speech which he delivered on this subject, might be divided into three parts, the tragic, the comic, and the farcical. In the last he often sunk to mere buffoonery, but the whole was eloquent in general. It was in the first of these divisions that he introduced the dagger scene; this was a practical trope, as Mr. Sheridan called it, and as he had declared a few minutes before, he drew that weapon from his bosom that neutrality was his motto. Mr. Courtenay humour­ously called it an armed neutrality as soon as he saw it in his hand. In one of his antigallican speeches he drew a humourous picture of the metaphysicians, rhetoricians, and politicians of France, in the course of which he illustrated the new lights of that coun­try with the following quotation:—

So have I seen in larder dark,
Of veal a lucid loin,
Replete with many a brilliant spark,
(As wise philosophers remark)
At once both stink and shine.

[Page cxxviii]On the 18th of February, 1793, Mr. Fox brought forward a motion relative to the war. As Mr. Burke was at war with the French, at war with Mr. Fox; &c. &c. and at war with himself, this motion fur­nished him with an opportunity of pouring out all that he had bottled up on the subject. Towards the conclusion of his speech, he entered into a character of all the individuals in France, with whom a mi­nister from this country might be supposed to treat. From Roland down to Santerre he protested that the hangman was the only honest man in France; and that every man, woman, and child in that coun­try were murderers. He was extremely angry with Mr. Fox for calling the late King of Prussia a despot with respect to the part which he took in the plunder of Poland. He said, he could buy a parrot for a shilling that could be taught to say despot, despot, from morn till night. Mr. Grey answered, that a parrot could be also taught to say murderer, ban­ditti, Brissot, &c. &c. On the 4th of March, 1793, Mr. Sheridan moved for a committee to enquire into the seditious practices alleged to exist in the country. Mr. Burke continued to sit in the opposi­tion bench, but as soon as Mr. Sheridan had handed his motion to the Speaker, Mr. Burke started up, ran towards the Treasury Bench, and when he got to the middle of the floor, he turned round, looked with an eye full of indignation on those he had left behind him, and exclaimed, ‘"I quit the camp, I quit the camp."’ Mr. Sheridan said, ‘"He hoped, as the Honourable Gentleman had quitted the camp as a deserter, that he would not return as a spy."’

In 1792, Mr. Burke addressed a letter to his friend, Sir H. Langrishe, ‘"on the Roman Ca­tholics of Ireland, and the propriety of admitting them to the elective franchise consistently with the principles of the constitution, as established at the revolution."’ As this question had occupied his attention from his earliest days, so it exhibits all [Page cxxix] the marks of the different stages of his life—the toys of childhood, the fire of youth, the vigour of man­hood, and the cool collected judgment of old age. He has endeavoured to prove in this pamphlet, that the ascendancy of humanity, justice, and sound policy ought to rise superior to the ascendancy of any religi­ous sect or party—Religionis non est cogere religionem.

On the 28th of February, 1793, Mr. Burke and his son withdrew their names from the Whig Club.

Mr. Burke's writings on the French revolution have been so universally read, that it is needless to make any remarks on them, and though they abound with many splendid passages, there is scarce an ori­ginal thought in the whole. The first pamphlet which he published on that subject is chiefly taken from the writings of Mallet du Pan. Having now retired on a pension, it was thought that he would have laid down the pen, and enjoyed himself in the conversation of a few select friends, or in read­ing such writers as teach us to wean our affections from all sublunary matters, especially as he had lost his son, the prop of his old age. In this situation, it was expected that he would have exclaimed with the poet on a similar occasion:

Know all the distant din the world can keep,
Rolls o'er my grotto, and but sooths my sleep.

But his passions accompanied him whithersoever he went, and in that very retirement he attacked the Duke of Bedford, because that young nobleman dis­charged his public duty. The privileged class, how­ever, we believe will not consider that attack as a trophy that ought to be hung on the Corinthian pillar of polished society. His conduct to Mr. Fox was rather mysterious, but his pension explained it. He might have parted with his old friend in a more decent and dignified manner. He was envious of his great talents undoubtedly, and though artful enough in every other respect, he could not conceal [Page cxxx] it, for he complained in the House of Commons that Mr. Fox's speeches were detailed at greater length and with more fidelity than his own. It was still more visible one day with a man of letters, who made the following remark:—In Tullio omnes linguam mirantur, pectus non aequè: In Aristotele pectus omnes, linguam non item: In Foxio, pectus et linguam aequè. His irritability might be said to have grown with his growth, and to have gathered strength with his weakness, and there was scarce a shaft leveled at him in the public prints or other medium that he did not read. Some years since at dinner at Lord Tankerville's, the conversation turned on caricatures; a gentleman observed, that he be­lieved Mr. Fox had been oftener exhibited in that line than any other man in the kingdom. ‘"I beg your pardon,'’ said Mr. Burke, ‘"I think I may put in my claim to a greater number and variety of ex­hibitions in that way than my honourable friend."’ ‘"I hope,"’ said Mr. Fox, ‘"they give you no un­easiness."’ ‘"Not in the least,"’ replied Mr. Burke, ‘"I have seen them all, and I remember them all, and if it would not be trespassing on the indulgence of the company, I could repeat the different cha­racters in which I have been represented, obedient to the mimic powers of the pencil."’ Accordingly he began and described them all in so humourous a manner as to set the table on a roar.

Mr. Burke had only one child, a son; he was educated at Oxford, and returned for the borough of Malton, but never took his seat. As his health was visibly on the decline, his father took lodgings for him at Brompton for the benefit of the air. He was attended by Doctor Brocklsby. His father was inconsolable, and in the agony of his grief wrung his hands one morning, and sighed so deeply that his son overheard him, which induced him to rise, dress, and walk down stairs, with the assistance of his ser­vant. When he came to the door he paused to col­lect [Page cxxxi] strength, walked in without any help, and seated himself on the sopha between his father and mother; the day was fine; he rose and repeated Milton's morning hymn, sat down, rose a second time to repeat it again, but had scarce uttered a few lines when he sunk into the arms of his parents, and ex­pired without a sigh, in the thirty-seventh year of his age.

Soon after Mr. Burke published his Reflections on the Revolution in France, it was intended to present him with the freedom of the university of Dublin and other academic honours, but the warm part which he took in the question of the emancipation of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, prevented that intention, it is said, from being carried into effect, and if it even had it could not encrease his fame as a writer or speaker. He did not trust to his pen in promoting the cause of the Catholics, he sent his son to Ireland for that purpose, who received a thousand pounds for his mission. This induced many to be­lieve that the zeal which was exhibited on that occasion flowed from his attachment to the Romish Church, and the old erroneous story of his being bred at St. Omers was revived. This question being put one day to Dr. Doctor Goldsmith, ‘"I don't see,"’ said the Doctor, ‘"that he had any occasion to be bred there."’ To repel those charges, he wrote a letter to Thomas Burgh, Esq of Old Town, in Ireland, in which he stated, at full length, the rea­sons which induced him to become the advocate of the Irish Catholics. When Mr. Burke was a young man it is said that he attempted to write a tragedy, but that having shewn a few passages of it to a friend, he was persuaded to turn his attention to some other literary line, in which he would shine to more advantage. His Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful was the first production of his pen that drew the attention of the learned. When the late Lord Chesterfield first read it, he said the sublime was [Page cxxxii] beautiful, and the beautiful sublime. As an orator Mr. Burke paid very little attention to the graces, as his utterance was in general vehement, his gesticula­tion partook of the same passion. His reading was various, and he had the happy art of making every thing he read his own, so that his plagiarism often escaped in the peculiar flow and modification of his words. His memory was tenacious, his imagination so fervid and head strong, that it could scarce be restrained by his judgment, but swelled ‘"due on, and scarce ever knew retiring ebb."’ The solidity of his judgment was often lost in the brilliancy of his fancy, as the solidity of the sun is often lost in the splendour of his beams. In the heat and whirl­wind of his passions he fell at times into low ex­pressions, as the rapid showers in South America when they wash down gold mingle it with common sand. He was a great lover of agriculture, abste­mious in his diet, and plain in his dress. His favorite maxim was, that the passions ought to instruct the reason; this, perhaps, may account for his conduct in the evening of his life. If he had paid more attention to his private affairs, his friends and ad­mirers, perhaps, would not have to lament that he died a pensioner.

‘"Grandeur of soul"’ says a celebrated writer, ‘"that haughtily struggles with poverty, and will neither yield to, nor make terms with misfortunes; which through every situation reposes a noble con­fidence in itself, and has an immoveable view to future glory and honour, astonishes the world with admiration and delight. We, as it were, lean for­ward with surprize and trembling joy to behold the human soul collecting its strength, and asserting a right to superior fates."’ During his last illness, Mr. Burke was attended by Doctor Lynn, of Windsor. A cancerous abscess had been long gathering in his side, which at last came to a suppuration. He was perfectly collected and sound in his intellects to the [Page cxxxiii] last moment, and a few hours before his death con­versed with some of his friends on political subjects. His enmity to the French republic continued to burn 'till the fuel was quite exhausted. Having read one of Addison's papers in the Spectator, he felt himself so weak that he beckoned to be removed, and expired as his domestics were conveying him to his bed.

Character of Mr. Burke by an anonymous writer.

As a senator he was uniformly attached to the party he set out with, and though his private fortune was far from being established, and though different ad­ministrations would be proud to detach him, he rose and fell with his party.

He has been charged with not being always con­stant to his own declarations and definitions; but before he is judged on this ground, times and cir­cumstances should be well weighed. In our mixed constitution there are times when the power of the prince, or the people, may be alternately too much or too little, and the politician who now speaks in favour of the one, and then of the other, may be equally consistent. There was a period, not very remote from the present, when the power of the crown was thought ‘"to have encreased, was en­creasing, and ought to be diminished;"’ but now that democracy is taking such hideous strides in Europe, every Englishman feels it his duty to rally round the throne, as the best support of freedom, subordination, and liberty.

He was a firm professor of the Christian religion, and exercised its principles in its duties; wisely con­sidering, ‘"that whatever disunites man from God, disunites man from man."’ He looked within him­self for the regulation of his conduct, which was exemplary in all the relations of life; he was warm in [Page cxxxiv] his affections, simple in his manners, plain in his table, arrangements, &c. &c. and so little affected with the follies and dissipations of what is called ‘"the higher classes,"’ that he was totally ignorant of them; so that this great man, with all his talents, would be mere lumber in a modern drawing-room; not but he excelled in all the refinements as well as strength of conversation, and could, at times, badi­nage with great skill and natural ease; but what are such qualifications to a people where cards and dice constitute their business, and fashionable vices their conversation.

Character of Mr. Burke by Thomas Burgh, Esq

‘"Take him for all in all,"’ Edmund Burke must be considered as a man of great and extraordinary talents, who justly acquired in his own day the ap­plauses of his countrymen, and who will always hold an elevated rank amongst the statesmen and philoso­phers of Europe.

A character that would be, indeed, generally imi­tated if it had not arrived at a height discouraging to human nature; that yielded to none of any age or country, as every virtue, public and private, every ability, had raised it to the highest point of perfection of which our nature was found to be capable; which stood, indeed, not only distinguished above those of modern times, but added to the greatness of the greatest of antiquity, the accumulated knowledge and accumulated wisdom of the ages that have elapsed, and the worlds that have been since discovered, I cannot but lament that in a country distinguished by the birth and education of such a person, a coun­try for which had risqued his most near, his most advantageous interests, some had been found who affected to regard him as an alien, and to deny him the rank of a friend and citizen. He disdained to think any vindication necessary, but should have [Page cxxxv] no difficulty in telling his countrymen what was told to the greatest people of the earth in behalf of a character much inferior in every of consideration: Eum cum sit civis non modo non segregandum a numero civium, verum etiam, si non esset civis, adsciscendum fuisse.

Character of Mr. Burke by the Rev. Thomas Campbell, Author of the History of Ireland.

His learning is so various and extensive, that we might praise it for its range and compass, were it not still more praise-worthy for its solidity and depth. His imagination is so lively and so creative, that he may justly be called the child of fancy; and therefore his enemies, for even he is not without them, would persuade us, that his fancy overbears his judgment.—Whereas, this fine frenzy is, as it ought to be, only a secondary ingredient in the high composition of a man, who not only reflects honour on his native country, but elevates the dignity of human nature. In his most eccentric flights, in his most seemingly wild excursions, in the most boisterous tempest of his passion, there is always a guardian angel which rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm. His grand characteristic is genius, and ruling faculty his judgment, though certainly not of that cold kind which the low world call prudence; but his reason is enlightened by intuition, and whilst he persuades as an orator, he instructs as a philosopher.

A nobleman of the highest station and abilities in England, though of an opposite party in politics, when he heard the petty minions of the day decry his powers, stopped them short, and said: ‘"Come, come, hold your tongue, the next age could not know that there was oratory in this, if Edmund Burke had not printed his speeches."’ And Dr. Johnson, gene­rally a niggard in panegyric, speaking of that parity of talents which is generally distributed to the sons [Page cxxxvi] of men, has been heard to say, that during his ac­quaintance with life, he knew but two men who had risen considerably above the common standard; the one was Lord Chatham, the other was Edmund Burke.



I NEVER relished Acts of Grace, nor ever sub­mitted to them but from despair of better. They are a dishonourable invention, by which, not from humanity, not from policy, but merely because we have not room enough to hold these victims of the absurdity of our laws, we turn loose upon the public three or four thousand naked wretches, corrupted by the habits, debased by the ignominy, of a prison. If the creditor had a right to those carcases, as a natural claim for his property, I am sure we have no right to deprive him of that security. But if the few pounds of flesh were not necessary to his security, we had not a right to detain the unfortunate debtor, without any benefit at all to the person that confined him.

Speech previous to the Election at Bristol.


As the extent of our wars has scattered the ac­countants under the Paymaster into every part of the globe, the grand and sure paymaster, Death, in all [Page 2] his shapes, calls these accountants to another reckon­ing. Death, indeed, domineers over every thing but the forms of the Exchequer. Over these he has no power; they are impassive and immortal. The audit of the Exchequer, more severe than the audit to which the accountants are gone, demands proofs which in the nature of things are difficult, sometimes impossible to be had. In this respect too, rigour, as usual, defeats itself. Then, the Exchequer never gives a particular receipt, or clears a man of his account, as far as it goes. A final acquittance, (or a quietus, as they term it) is scarcely ever to be ob­tained. Terrors and ghosts of unlaid accountants haunt the houses of their children from generation to generation. Families, in the course of succession, fall into minorities; the inheritance comes into the hands of females; and very perplexed affairs are often delivered over into the hands of negligent guardians and faithless stewards. So that the demand remains, when the advantage of the money is gone, if ever any advantage at all has been made of it. This is a cause of infinite distress to families; and becomes a source of influence to an extent that can scarcely be imagined, but by those who have taken some pains to trace it. The mildness of Govern­ment in the employment of useless and dangerous powers, furnishes no reason for their continuance.

Oecon. Reform.


IT is necessary, [...]n all matters of public complaint, where men frequently feel right and argue wrong, to separate prejudice from reason; and to be very sure, in attempting the redress of a grievance, that we hit upon its real seat, and its true nature. Where there is an abuse in office, the first thing that occurs in heat is to censure the officer. Our natural dispo­sition leads all our inquiries rather to persons than [Page 3] to things. But this prejudice is to be corrected by maturer thinking.—



BUT there is a time, when men will not suffer bad things because their ancestors have suffered worse. There is a time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain pro­tection.—Ibid.


THE foreign Ministers are the links of our con­nection with other nations.—Ibid.


THERE are many circumstances in the zeal shewn for civil war, which seem to discover little of real magnanimity. The addressers offer their own persons, and they are satisfied with hiring Germans; they promise their private fortunes, and they mort­gage their country. They have all the merit of volunteers, without risque of person, or charge of contribution; and when the unfeeling arm of a foreign soldiery pours out their kindred blood like water, they exult and triumph, as if they themselves had performed some notable exploit.

Speech on Conciliation with America.


I should be sorry, that any thing framed in con­tradiction to the spirit of our constitution, did not [Page 4] instantly produce, in fact, the grossest of the evils with which it was pregnant in its nature. It is by lying dormant a long time, or being first very rarely exercised, that arbitrary power steals upon a people. On the next unconstitutional act, all the fashionable world will be ready to say, Your prophecies are ridiculous, your fears are vain, you see how little of the mischiefs which you formerly foreboded are come to pass. Thus, by degrees, that artful softening of all arbitrary power, the alledged unfrequency, or narrow extent of its operations, will be received as a sort of aphorism; and Mr. Hume will not be singular in telling us, that the felicity of mankind is no more disturbed by it, than by earthquakes, or thunder, or the more universal accidents of nature.—



GOD has planted in man a sense of ambition, and a satisfaction arising from the contemplation of his excelling his fellows in something deemed valuable amongst them. It is this passion that drives men to all the ways we see in use of signalizing themselves, and that tends to make whatever excites in a man the idea of this distinction so very pleasant. It has been so strong as to make very miserable men take com­fort, that they were supreme in misery; and certain it is, that where we cannot distinguish ourselves by something excellent, we begin to take a complacency in some singular infirmities, follies, or defects of one kind or other. It is on this principle that flattery is so prevalent; for flattery is no more than what raises in a man's mind an idea of a preference which he has not. Now, whatever, either on good or upon bad grounds, tends to raise a man in his own opinion, produces a sort of swelling and triumph, that is ex­tremely grateful to the human mind; and this swelling [Page 5] is never more perceived, nor operates with more force, than when without danger we are conversant with terrible objects, the mind always claiming to itself some part of the dignity and importance of the things which it contemplates. Hence proceeds what Longinus has observed of that glorying and sense of inward greatness, that always fills the reader of such passages in poets and orators as are sublime; it is what every man must have felt in himself upon such occasions.—



IT is now found, by abundant experience, that an aristocracy and a despotism differ but in name, and that a people who are in general excluded from any share of the legislative, are to all intents and purposes, as much slaves, when twenty, independent of them, govern, as when but one domineers. The tyranny is even more felt, as every individual of the nobles has the haughtiness of a sultan; the people are more miserable, as they seem on the verge of liberty, from which they are for ever debarred; this fallacious idea of liberty, whilst it presents a vain shadow of hap­piness to the subject, binds faster the chains of his subjection. What is left undone, by the natural avarice and pride of those who are raised above the others, is compleated by their suspicions, and their dread of losing an authority, which has no support in the common utility of the nation.

Vindic. of Nat. Society.


THE Athenians made a very rapid progress to the most enormous excesses; the people under no re­straint soon grew dissipated, luxurious, and idle. [Page 6] They renounced all labour, and began to subsist themselves from the public revenues. They lost all concern for their common honour or safety, and could bear no advice that tended to reform them. At this time truth became offensive to those lords the people, and most highly dangerous to the speaker. The orators no longer ascended the rostrum, but to corrupt them further with the most fulsome adula­tion. These orators were all bribed by foreign princes on the one side or the other. And besides its own parties, in this city there were parties, and avowed ones too, for the Persians, Spartans, and Mac donians, supported each of them by one or more demagogues pensioned and bribed to this iniquitous service. The people, forgetful of all virtue and public spirit, and intoxicated with the flatteries of their orators, (these courtiers of repub­lics, and endowed with the distinguishing cha­racteristics of all other courtiers) this people, I say, at last arrived at that pitch of madness, that they coolly and deliberately, by an express law, made it capital for any man to propose an application of the immense sums squandered in public shows, even to the most necessary purposes of the state. When you see the people of this republic banishing or murdering their best and ablest citizens, dissipating the public treasure with the most senseless extravagance, and spending their whole time, as spectators or actors, in playing, fiddling, dancing, and singing, does it not, my Lord, strike your imagination with the image of a sort of a complex Nero? And does it not strike you with the greater horror, when you observe, not one man only, but a whole city, grown drunk with pride and power, running with a rage of folly into the same mean and senseless debauchery and extra­vagance?

The whole history of this celebrated republic is but one tissue of rashness, folly, ingratitude, injustice, [Page 7] tumult, violence, and tyranny; and indeed of every species of wickedness that can well be imagined.—This was a city of wise men, in which a minister could not exercise his functions; a warlike people, amongst whom a general did not dare either to gain or lose a battle; a learned nation, in which a philosopher could not venture on a free inquiry. This was the city which banished Themistocles, starved Aristides, forced into exile Miltiades, drove out Anaxagoras, and poisoned Socrates. This was a city which changed the form of its government with the moon; eternal conspiracies, revolutions daily, nothing fixed and established. A republic, as an ancient philo­sopher has observed, is no one species of govern­ment, but a magazine of every species; here you find every sort of it, and that in the worst form. As there is a perpetual change, one rising and the other falling, you have all the violence and wicked policy, by which a beginning power must always acquire its strength, and all the weakness by which falling states are brought to a complete destruction.

Vindic. Nat. Society.


THE act of which I speak is among the fruits of the American war: a war, in my humble opinion, productive of many mischiefs, of a kind which dis­tinguish it from all others. Not only our policy is deranged, and our empire distracted, but our laws and our legislative spirit appear to have been totally perverted by it. We have made war on our colonies, not by arms only, but by laws. As hos­tility and law are not very concordant ideas, every step we have taken in this business, has been made by trampling on some maxim of justice, or some capital principle of wise government. What pre­cedents were established, and what principles over­turned, [Page 8] (I will not say of English privilege but of general justice) in the Boston Port, the Massachu­set's Charter, the Military Bill, and all that long array of hostile acts of parliament, by which the war with America has been begun and supported! Had the principles of any of these acts been first exerted on English ground, they would probably have ex­pired as soon as they touched it. But by being re­moved from our persons, they have rooted in our laws; and the latest posterity will taste the fruits of them.

Nor is it the worst effect of this unnatural con­tention, that our laws are corrupted. Whilst man­ners remain intire, they will correct the vices of law, and soften it at length to their own temper. But we have to lament, that in most of the late proceedings we see very few traces of that generosity, humanity, and dignity of mind which formerly characterized this nation. War suspends the rules of moral obli­gation, and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated. Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people. They vitiate their politics; they corrupt their morals; they per­vert even the natural taste and relish of equity and justice. By teaching us to consider our fellow-citizens in an hostile light, the whole body of our nation becomes gradually less dear to us. The very names of affection and kindred, which were the bond of charity whilst we agreed, become new in­centives to hatred and rage, when the communion of our country is dissolved. We may flatter our­selves that we shall not fall into this misfortune. But we have no charter of exemption, that I know of, from the ordinary frailties of our nature.

What but that blindness of heart which arises from the phrensy of civil contention, could have made any persons conceive the present situation of the British affairs as an object of triumph to themselves, or of congratulation to their sovereign? Nothing, [Page 9] surely, could be more lamentable to those who re­member the flourishing days of this kingdom, than to see the insane joy of several unhappy people, amidst the sad spectacle which our affairs and con­duct exhibit to the scorn of Europe. We behold, (and it seems some people rejoice in beholding) our native land, which used to sit the envied arbiter of all her neighbours, reduced to a servile dependence on their mercy; acquiescing in assurances of friend­ship which she does not trust; complaining of hosti­lities which she dares not resent; deficient to her allies; lofty to her subjects, and submissive to her enemies; whilst the liberal government of this free nation is supported by the hireling sword of German boors and vassals; and three millions of the subjects of Great Britain are seeking for protection to English privileges in the arms of France!

Indeed our affairs are in a bad condition. I do assure those gentlemen who have prayed for war, and obtained the blessing they have sought, that they are, at this instant, in very great straits.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


BELIEVE me, gentlemen, the way still before you is intricate, dark, and full of perplexed and treacherous mazes. Those who think they have the clue, may lead us out of this labyrinth. We may trust them as amply as we think proper; but as they have most certainly a call for all the reason which their stock can furnish, why should we think it proper to disturb its operation by inflaming their passions? I may be unable to lend an helping hand to those who direct the state; but I should be ashamed to make myself one of a noisy multitude to hollow and hearten them into doubtful and dan­gerous [Page 10] courses. A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood. He would feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for engaging in so deep a play, without any sort of knowledge of the game. It is no excuse for presumptuous ignorance, that it is directed by insolence or passion. The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from notice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and Man, but I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depth of its wisdom tolerates all sorts of things) that is more odious and disgusting than an impotent helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it; bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles, which he is not to sight, contending for a violent dominion, which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.—Ibid.


I am really ashamed of the fashionable language which has been held for some time past; which to say the best of it, is full of levity. You know, that I allude to the general cry against the cowardice of the Americans, as if we despised them for not making the king's soldiery purchase the advantage they have obtained, at a dearer rate. It is not, gentlemen, it is not, to respect the dispensations of Providence, nor to provide any decent re­treat in the mutability of human affairs. It leaves no medium between insolent victory and infamous defeat. It tends to alienate our minds further and further from our natural regards, and to make an eternal rent and schism in the British nation. Those [Page 11] who do not wish for such a separation, would not dissolve that cement of reciprocal esteem and regard, which can alone bind together the parts of this great fabric. It ought to be our wish, as it is our duty, not only to forbear this style of outrage ourselves, but to make every one as sensible as we can of the impropriety and unworthiness of the tempers which give rise to it, and which designing men are labouring with such malignant industry to diffuse amongst us. It is our business to counteract them, if possible; if possible to awake our natural regards; and to revive the old partiality to the English name. Without something of this kind I do not see how it is ever practicable really to recon­cile with those, whose affection, after all, must be the surest hold of our government; and which is a thousand times more worth to us, than the mer­cenary zeal of all the circles of Germany.—Ibid.


ALL this rage against unresisting dissent, con­vinces me, that at bottom, they are far from satis­fied they are in the right. For what is it they would have? A war? They certainly have at this moment the blessing of something that is very like one; and if the war they enjoy at present be not sufficiently hot and extensive, they may shortly have it as warm and as spreading as their hearts can desire. Is it the force of the kingdom they call for? They have it already; and if they choose to fight their battles in their own person, no body prevents their setting sail to America in the next transports. Do they think, that the service is stinted for want of liberal supplies? Indeed they complain without reason. The table of the House of Commons will glut them, let their appetite for expence be never so keen. And I assure them further, that those who [Page 12] think with them in the House of Commons are full as easy in the controul, as they are liberal in the vote of these expences. If this be not supply or confidence sufficient, let them open their own pri­vate purse-strings, and give from what is left to them, as largely and with as little care as they think proper.—Ibid.


AT the first designation of these assemblies, they were probably not intended for any thing more (nor perhap, did they think themselves much higher) than the municipal corporations within this island, to which some at present love to compare them. But nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. Therefore, as the colonies prospered and increased to a numerous and mighty people, spreading over a very great tract of the globe, it was natural that they should attribute to assemblies, so respectable in their formal constitution, some part of the dignity of the great nations which they represented. No longer tied to by-laws, these assemblies made acts of all sorts, and in all cases whatsoever. They levied money, not for parochial purposes, but upon regular grants to the crown, following all the rules and principles of a parliament, to which they approached every day more and more nearly. Those who think themselves wiser than Providence, and stronger than the course of nature, may complain of all this variation, on the one side or the other, as their several humours and prejudices may lead them. But things could not be otherwise; and English colonies must be had on these terms, or not had at all.—Ibid.


I know, and have long felt, the difficulty of reconciling the unwieldy haughtiness of a great ruling nation, habituated to command, pampered by enormous wealth, and confident from a long course of prosperity and victory, to the high spirit of free dependencies, animated with the first glow and activity of juvenile heat, and assuming to them­selves as their birthright, some part of that very pride which oppresses them.—Ibid.


THERE never, gentleman, was a period in which the stedfastness of some men has been put to so sore a trial. It is not very difficult for well-formed minds to abandon their interest; but the separation of same and virtue is an harsh divorce. Liberty is in danger of being made unpopular to Englishmen. Contending for an imaginary power we begin to acquire the spirit of domination and to lose the relish of honest equality. The principles of our forefathers become suspected to us, because we see them animating the present opposition of our chil­dren. The faults which grow out of the luxuri­ance of freedom, appear much more shocking to us, than the base vices which are generated from the rankness of servitude. Accordingly the least resistance to power appears more inexcusable in our eyes than the greatest abuses of authority. All dread of a standing military force is looked upon as a superstitious panic. All shame of calling in foreigners and savages in a civil contest is worn off. We grow indifferent to the consequences inevitable to ourselves from the plan of ruling half [Page 14] he empire by a mercenary sword. We are taught to believe that a desire of domineering over our countrymen is love to our country; that those who hate civil war abet rebellion, and that the amiable and conciliatory virtues of lenity, moderation, and tenderness to the privileges of those who depend on this kingdom are a sort of treason to the state.

It is impossible that we should remain long in a situation, which breeds such notions and dispositions, without some great alteration in the national cha­racter. Those ingenuous and feeling minds who are so fortified against all other things, and so un­armed to whatever approaches in the shape of dis­grace, finding these principles, which they considered as sure means of honour to be grown into disrepute, will retire disheartened and disgusted. Those of a more robust make, the bold, able, ambitious men, who pay some of their court to power through the people, and substitute the voice of transient opinion in the place of true glory, will give into the general mode; and those superior understandings which ought to correct vulgar prejudice, will confirm and aggravate its errors. Many things have been long operating towards a gradual change in our principles. But this American war has done more in a very few years than all the other causes could have effected in a century. It is therefore not on its own separate account, but because of its attendant circumstances that I consider its continuance, or its ending in any way but that of an honourable and liberal accommodation, as the greatest evils which can befal us.—Ibid.

AMERICA. Effect of the Victory in Long Island.

YOU remember, that in the beginning of this American war (that aera of calamity, disgrace and downfall, an aera which no feeling mind will ever [Page 15] mention without a tear for England) you were greatly divided; and a very strong body, if not the strongest, opposed itself to the madness which every art and every power were employed to render popular, in order that the errors of the rulers might be lost in the general blindness of the nation. This opposition continued until after our great, but most unfortunate victory at Long Island. Then all the mounds and banks of our constancy were borne down at once; and the phrensy of the American war broke in upon us like a deluge. This victory, which seemed to put an immediate end to all difficulties, perfected us in that spirit of domination, which our unparalleled prosperity had but too long nurtured. We had been so very powerful, and so very prosperous, that even the humblest of us were degraded into the vices and follies of kings. We lost all measure between means and ends; and our headlong desires became our politics and our morals. All men who wished for peace, or retained any sentiments of mo­deration, were overborne or silenced; and this city was led by every artifice (and probably with the more management, because I was one of your mem­bers) to distinguish itself by its zeal for that fatal cause. In this temper of yours and of my mind, I should have sooner fled to the extremities of the earth, than have shewn myself here. I, who saw in every American victory (for you have had a long series of these misfortunes) the germ and seed of the naval power of France and Spain, which all our heat and warmth against America was only hatching into life, I should not have been a welcome visitant with the brow and the language of such feelings.

When afterwards, the other face of your calamity was turned upon you, and shewed itself in defeat and distress, I shunned you full as much. I felt sorely this variety in our wretchedness; and I did not wish to have the least appearance of insulting you with that shew of superiority, which, though it [Page 16] may not be assumed, is generally suspected in a time of calamity, from those whose previous warnings have been despised. I could not bear to shew you a representative whose face did not reflect that of his constituents; a face that could not joy in your joys, and sorrow in your sorrows. But time at length has made us all of one opinion; and we have all opened our eyes on the true nature of the American war, to the true nature of all its successes and all its failures.—


AMERICA. Proposition of Peace with America.

THE proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war; not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negociations; not peace to arise out of universal discord, fomented, from principle, in all parts of the empire; not peace to depend on the juridical determination of per­plexing questions; or the precise marking the shadowy boundaries of a complex government. It is simply peace; sought in its natural course, and its ordinary haunts.—It is peace sought in the spirit of peace; and laid in principles purely pacific. I propose, by removing the ground of the difference, and by restoring the former unsuspecting confidence of the colonies in the mother country, to give permanent satisfaction to your people; and (far from a scheme of ruling by discord) to reconcile them to each other in the same act, and by the bond of the very same interest, which reconciles them to British go­vernment.

My idea is nothing more. Refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion; and ever will be so, as long as the world endures. Plain good inten­tion, which is as easily discovered at the first view, as fraud is surely detected at last, is, let me say, of no mean force in the government of mankind. Ge­nuine [Page 17] simplicity of heart is an healing and cementing principle. My plan, therefore, being formed upon the most simple grounds imaginable, may disappoint some people, when they hear it. It has nothing to recommend it to the pruriency of curious ears. There is nothing at all new and captivating in it. It has nothing of the splendor of the project, which has been lately laid upon your table by the noble lord in the blue ribband.* It does not propose to fill your lobby with squabbling colony agents, who will require the interposition of your mace, at every instant, to keep the peace amongst them. It does not institute a magnificent auction of finance, where captivated provinces come to general ransom by bidding against each other, until you knock down the hammer, and determine a proportion of pay­ments, beyond all the powers of algebra to equalize and settle.

Speech on Conciliation with America.

AMERICA. Rapid Population of the Colonies.

THE first thing that we have to consider with regard to the nature of the object is—the number of people in the colonies. I have taken for some years a good deal of pains on that point. I can by no cal­culation justify myself in placing the number below two millions of inhabitants of our own European blood and colour; besides at least 500,000 others, who form no inconsiderable part of the strength and opulence of the whole. This, Sir, is, I believe, about the true number. There is no occasion to exaggerate, where plain truth is of so much weight and importance.

But whether I put the present numbers too high or too low, is a matter of little moment. Such is the strength with which population shoots in that part of the world, that state the numbers as high as we will, whilst the dispute continues, the exaggeration ends. Whilst we are discussing any given magnitude, they are grown to it. Whilst we spend our time in deli­berating on the mode of governing two millions, we shall find we have millions more to manage. Your children do not grow faster from infancy to man­hood, than they spread from families to communities, and from villages to nations.—Ibid.


I put this consideration of the present and the growing numbers in the front of our deliberation; because, Sir, this consideration will make it evident to a blunter discernment than yours, that no partial, narrow, contracted, pinched, occasional system will be at all suitable to such an object. It will shew you, that it is not to be considered as one of those minima which are out of the eye and consideration of the law; not a paltry excrescence of the state; not a [Page 19] mean dependant, who may be neglected with little damage, and provoked with little danger. It will prove, that some degree of care and caution is re­quired in the handling such an object; it will shew, that you ought not, in reason, to trifle with so large a mass of the interests and feelings of the human race. You could at no time do so without guilt; and be assured you will not be able to do it long with impunity.—Ibid.

AMERICA. Commerce with our American Colonies.

WHEN we speak of the commerce with our colo­nies, fiction lags after truth, invention is unfruitful, and imagination cold and barren.—Ibid.


IF I were to detail the imports, I could shew how many enjoyments they procure, which deceive the burthen of life; how many materials which invigo­rate the springs of national industry, and extend and animate every part of our foreign and domestic commerce.—Ibid.


I pass therefore to the colonies in another point of view, their agriculture. This they have prosecuted with such a spirit, that besides feeding plentifully their own growing multitude, their annual export of grain, comprehending rice, has some years ago ex­ceeded a million in value. Of their last harvest, I am persuaded they will export much more. At the beginning of the century, some of these colonies imported corn from the northern country. For some time past the old world has been fed from the new. The scarcity which you have felt would have been a [Page 20] desolating famine. That if this child of your old age, with a true filial piety, with a Roman charity, had not put the full breast of its youthful exuberance to the mouth of its exhausted parent.—



AS to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those acquisitions of value; for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet the spirit, by which that enter­prizing employment has been exercised, ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admi­ration. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay, and Davis's Streights, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and en­gaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falk­land Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their vic­torious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them, than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprize, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy in­dustry [Page 21] to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people; a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When I contemplate these things; when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection: when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt, and die away within me. My rigour relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.—


AMERICANS. Love of Freedom.

IN this character of the Americans a love of freedom is the predominating feature, which marks and distinguishes the whole: and as an ardent is al­ways a jealous affection, your colonies become sus­picious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies probably than in any other people of the earth; and this from a great variety of powerful causes; which, to under­stand the true temper of their minds, and the direc­tion which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.—Ibid.


FIRST, the people of the colonies are descendants of England. England, Sir, is a nation, which still [Page 22] I hope respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The colonists emigrated from you, when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this biass and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the antient commonwealths turned pri­marily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so imme­diate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English constitution, to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove, that the right had been acknowledged in antient parchments, and blind usages, to reside in a certain body called an house of commons. They went much further; they attempted to prove, and they succeeded, that in theory it ought to be so, from the particular nature of a house of commons, as an immediate representative of the peo­ple; whether the old records had delivered this oracle or not. They took infinite pains to inculcate, as a fundamental principle, that, in all monarchies, the people must in effect themselves mediately or im­mediately possess the power of granting their own money, or no shadow of liberty could subsist. The [Page 23] colonies draw from you, as with their life-blood, these ideas and principles. Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific point of taxing. Liberty might be safe, or might be endan­gered in twenty other particulars, without their being much pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse; and as they found that beat, they thought themselves sick or sound. I do not say whether they were right or wrong in applying your general arguments to their own case. It is not easy indeed to make a monopoly of theorems and corollaries. The fact is, that they did thus apply those general arguments; and your mode of governing them, whether through lenity or indolence, through wisdom or mistake, confirmed them in the imagination, that they, as well as you, had an interest in these common principles.—Ibid.


THEY were further confirmed in this pleasing error by the form of their provincial legislative as­semblies. Their governments are popular in an high degree; some are merely popular; in all, the popular representative is the most weighty; and this share of the people in their ordinary government never fails to inspire them with losty sentiments, and with a strong aversion from whatever tends to deprive them of their chief importance.—Ibid.


IF any thing were wanting to this necessary opera­tion of the form of government, religion would have given it a complete effect. Religion, always a prin­ciple of energy, in this new people, is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are protestants, and of that kind, which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opi­nion. [Page 24] This is a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting churches from all that looks like absolute government is so much to be sought in their religious tenets, as in their history.—



PERMIT me, Sir, to add another circumstance in our colonies, which contributes no mean part to­wards the growth and effect of this untractable spirit. I mean their education. In no country perhaps in the world is the law so general a study. The profes­sion itself is numerous and powerful; and in most provinces it takes the lead. The greater number of the deputies sent to the congress were lawyers. But all who read, and most do read, endeavour to obtain some smattering in that science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller, that in no branch of his business, after tracts of public devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported to the plan­tations. The colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone's Commenta­ries in America as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very particularly in a letter on your table. He states, that all the people in his go­vernment are lawyers, or smatterers in law, and that in Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane, wholly to evade many parts of one of your capital penal constitutions. The smartness of debate will say, that this knowledge ought to teach them more clearly the rights of legislature, their obliga­tions to obedience, and the penalties of rebellion. All this is mighty well. But my * honourabe and learned friend on the floor, who condescends to mark [Page 25] what I say for animadversion, will disdain that ground. He has heard, as well as I, that when great honours and great emoluments do not win over this knowledge to the service of the state, it is a formi­dable adversary to government. If the spirit be not tamed and broken by these happy methods, it is stub­born and litigious. Abeunt studia in mores. This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in defence, full of resources. In other countries, the people, more simple and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in go­vernment only by an actual grievance; here they an­ticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.—Ibid.


THE last cause of this disobedient spirit in the co­lonies is hardly less powerful than the rest, as it is not merely moral, but laid deep in the natural consti­tution of things. Three thousand miles of ocean lie between you and them. No contrivance can prevent the effect of this distance, in weakening government. Seas roll, and months pass, between the order and the execution: and the want of a speedy explanation of a single point, is enough to defeat an whole system. You have, indeed, winged ministers of vengeance, who carry your bolts in their pounces to the remotest verge of the sea. But there a power steps in, that limits the arrogance of raging passions and furious elements, and says, ‘"So far shalt thou go, and no farther."’ Who are you, that should fret and rage, and bite the chains of nature?—Nothing worse happens to you, than does to all nations, who have extensive empire; and it happens in all the forms into which empire can be thrown. In large [Page 26] bodies, the circulation of power must be less vigor­ous at the extremities. Nature has said it. The Turk cannot govern Aegypt, and Arabia, and Cur­distan, as he governs Thrace; nor has he the same dominion in Crimea and Algiers, which he has at Brusa and Smyrna. Despotism itself is obliged to truck and huckster. The Sultan gets such obedience as he can. He governs with a loose rein, that he may govern at all; and the whole of the force and vigour of his authority in his centre, is derived from a prudent relaxation in all his borders. Spain, in her provinces, is, perhaps, not so well obeyed, as you are in yours. She complies too; she submits; she watches times. This is the immutable condition; the eternal law of extensive and detached empire.—Ibid.


AS the growing population in the colonies is evi­dently one cause of their resistance, it was last session mentioned in both houses, by men of weight, and received not without applause, that, in order to check this evil, it would be proper for the crown to make no further grants of land. But to this scheme, there are two objections. The first, that there is already so much unsettled land in private hands, as to afford room for an immense future population, although the crown not only withheld its grants, but annihilated its soil. If this be the case, then the only effect of this avarice of desolation, this hoarding of a royal wilderness, would be to raise the value of the possessions in the hands of the great private monopolists, without any adequate check to the growing and alarming mischief of population.

But, if you stopped your grants, what would be the consequence? The people would occupy with­out grants. They have already so occupied in many [Page 27] places. You cannot station garrisons in every part of these deserts. If you drive the people from one place, they will carry on their annual tillage, and remove with their flocks and herds to another. Many of the people in the back settlements are already little attached to particular situations. Already they have topped the Apalachian mountains. From thence they behold before them an immense plain, one vast, rich, level meadow; a square of five hundred miles. Over this they would wander, without a possibility of restraint; they would change their manners with the habits of their life; would soon forget a govern­ment, by which they were disowned; would become hordes of English Tartars; and, pouring down upon your unfortified frontiers a fierce and irresistible cavalry, become masters of your governors and your counsellors, your collectors and comptrollers, and of all the slaves that adhered to them. Such would, and, in no long time, must be, the effect of attempt­ing to forbid as a crime, and to suppress as an evil, the command and blessing of Providence, ‘"En­crease and multiply."’ Such would be the happy result of an endeavour to keep as a lair of wild beasts, that earth, which God, by an express char­ter, has given to the children of men.—Ibid.


BUT let us suppose all these moral difficulties got over. The ocean remains. You cannot pump this dry; and as long as it continues in its present bed, so long all the causes which weaken authority by distance will continue. ‘"Ye gods, annihilate but space and time, and make two lovers happy!"’ —was a pious and passionate prayer;—but just as reasonable, as many of the serious wishes of very grave and solemn politicians.—Ibid.

AMERICA. Conduct of Ministers with Respect to the Repeal of the American Stamp Act.

IT is not a pleasant consideration; but nothing in the world can read so awful and so instructive a lesson, as the conduct of ministry in this business, upon the mischief of not having large and liberal ideas in the management of great affairs. Never have the servants of the state looked at the whole of your complicated interests in one connected view. They have taken things, by bits and scraps, some at one time and one pretence, and some at another, just as they pressed, without any sort of regard to their relations or dependencies. They never had any kind of system, right or wrong; but only invented occa­sionally some miserable tale for the day, in order meanly to sneak out of difficulties, into which they had proudly strutted. And they were put to all these shifts and devices, full of meanness and full of mischief, in order to pilfer piecemeal a repeal of an act, which they had not the generous courage, when they found and felt their error, honourably and fairly to disclaim. By such management, by the irresistible operation of feeble councils, so paltry a sum as three-pence in the eyes of a financier, so insignificant an article as tea in the eyes of a philo­sopher, have shaken the pillars of a commercial em­pire that circled the whole globe.—Speech on American Taxation.


IT is through the American trade of tea that your East India conquests are to be prevented from crush­ing you with their burthen. They are ponderous indeed; and they must have that great country to lean upon, or they tumble upon your head. It is the same folly that has lost you at once the benefit of the west and of the east. This folly has thrown open [Page 29] folding-doors to contraband; and will be the means of giving the profits of the trade of your colonies, to every nation but yourselves. Never did a people suffer so much for the empty words of a preamble. It must be given up. For on what principle does it stand? This famous revenue stands, at this hour, on all the debate, as a description of revenue not as yet known in all the comprehensive (but too com­prehensive!) vocabulary of finance—a preambulary tax. It is indeed a tax of sophistry, a tax of pedan­try, a tax of disputation, a tax of war and rebellion, a tax for any thing but benefit to the imposers, or satisfaction to the subject.—Ibid.


THE feelings of the colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the feelings of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the payment of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No; but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave. It is the weight of that preamble, of which you are so fond, and not the weight of the duty, that the Ame­ricans are unable and unwilling to bear.—Ibid.


IT was in America that your resolutions were pre-declared. It was from thence that we knew to a certainty, how much exactly, and not a scruple more or less, we were to repeal. We were unworthy to be let into the secret of our own conduct. The assemblies had confidential communications from his majesty's confidential servants. We were nothing but instruments. Do you, after this, wonder, that you have no weight and no respect in the colonies? After this, are you surprized, that parliament is every [Page 30] day and every where losing (I feel it with sorrow, I utter it with reluctance) that reverential affection, which so endearing a name of authority ought ever to carry with it; that you are obeyed solely from respect to the bayonet; and that this house, the ground and pillar of freedom, is itself held up only by the treacherous under-pinning and clumsy buttresses of arbitrary power?—



IT is remarkable, Sir, that the persons who for­merly trumpeted forth the most loudly, the violent resolutions of assemblies; the universal insurrections; the seizing and burning the stamped papers; the forcing stamp officers to resign their commissions under the gallows; the rifling and pulling down of the houses of magistrates; and the expulsion from their country of all who dared to write or speak a single word in defence of the powers of parliament; these very trumpeters are now the men that represent the whole as a mere trifle; and choose to date all the disturbances from the repeal of the stamp act, which put an end to them. Hear your officers abroad, and let them refute this shameless falsehood, who, in all their correspondence, state the disturb­ances as owing to their true causes, the discontent of the people, from the taxes. You have this evi­dence in your own archives—and it will give you compleat satisfaction; if you are not so far lost to all parliamentary ideas of information, as rather to cre­dit the lie of the day, than the records of your own house.

Sir, this vermin of court reporters, when they are forced into day upon one point, are sure to burrow in another, but they shall have no refuge: I will make them bolt out of all their holes. Conscious that they must be baffled, when they attribute a pre­cedent disturbance to a subsequent measure, they [Page 31] take other ground, almost as absurd, but very com­mon in modern practice, and very wicked; which is, to attribute the ill effect of ill-judged conduct to the arguments which had been used to dissuade us from it. They say, that the opposition made in parliament to the stamp act at the time of its passing, encouraged the Americans to their resistance. This has even formally appeared in print in a regular volume, from an advocate of that faction, a Dr. Tucker. This Dr. Tucker is already a dean, and his earnest labours in his vineyard will, I suppose, raise him to a bishop­ric.—Ibid.


FOR my own part, I should chuse (If I could have my wish) that the proposition of the Honour­able Gentleman (Mr. Fuller) for the repeal, could go to America without the attendance of the penal bills. Alone I could almost answer for its success. I cannot be certain of its reception in the bad com­pany it may keep. In such heterogeneous assort­ments, the most innocent person will lose the effect of his innocency. Though you should send out this angel of peace, yet you are sending out a destroying angel too; and what would be the effect of the con­flict of these two adverse spirits, or which would pre­dominate in the end, is what I dare not say: whether the lenient measures would cause American passion to subside, or the severe would increase its fury—All this is in the hand of Providence; yet now, even now, I should confide in the prevailing virtue, and efficacious operation of lenity, though working in darkness, and in chaos, in the midst of all this unna­tural and turbid combination. I should hope it might produce order and beauty in the end.—Ibid.


LET us, Sir, embrace some system or other before we end this session. Do you mean to tax America, [Page 32] and to draw a productive revenue from thence? If you do, speak out: name, fix, ascertain this revenue; settle its quantity; define its objects; provide for its collection; and then fight when you have something to fight for. If you murder—rob! If you kill, take possession: and do not appear in the character of madmen, as well as assassins, violent, vindictive, bloody, and tyrannical, without an object. But may better counsels guide you!—



A noble lord, (Carmarthen) who spoke some time ago, is full of the fire of ingenuous youth; and when he has modelled the ideas of a lively imagina­tion by further experience, he will be an ornament to his country in either house. He has said, that the Americans are our children, and how can they revolt against their parent? He says, that if they are not free in their present state, England is not free; because Manchester, and other considerable places, are not represented. So then, because some towns in Eng­land are not represented, America is to have no re­presentative at all. They are ‘"our children;"’ but when children ask for bread, we are not to give a stone. It is because the natural resistance of things, and the various mutations of time, hinders our go­vernment, or any scheme of government, from being any more than a sort of approximation to the right, is it therefore that the colonies are to recede from it infinitely? When this child of ours wishes to assimi­late to its parent, and to reflect with a true filial re­semblance the beauteous countenance of British li­berty; are we to turn to them the shameful parts of our constitution? are we to give them our weakness for their strength; our opprobrium for their glory; and the slough of slavery, which we are not able to work off, to serve them for their freedom?

If this be the case, ask yourselves this question, Will they be content in such a state of slavery? If [Page 33] not, look to the consequences. Reflect how you are to govern a people, who think they ought to be free, and think they are not. Your scheme yields no reve­nue; it yields nothing but discontent, disorder, dis­obedience; and such is the state of America, that after wading up to your eyes in blood, you could only end just where you begun; that is, to tax where no revenue is to be found, to—my voice fails me; my inclination, indeed, carries me no further—all is confusion beyond it.

Well, Sir, I have recovered a little, and before I sit down I must say something to another point with which gentlemen urge us. What is to become of the declaratory act, asserting the entireness of British legislative authority, if we abandon the practice of taxation?

For my part I look upon the rights stated in that act, exactly in the manner in which I viewed them on its very first proposition, and which I have often taken the liberty, with great humility, to lay before you. I look, I say, on the imperial rights of Great Britain, and the privileges which the colonists ought to enjoy under these rights, to be just the most re­concileable things in the world. The parliament of Great Britain sits at the head of her extensive em­pire in two capacities: one as the local legislature of this island, providing for all things at home, immedi­ately, and by no other instrument than the executive power.—The other, and I think her nobler capacity, is what I call her imperial character; in which, as from the throne of heaven, she superintends all the several inferior legislatures, and guides, and controls them all without annihilating any. As all these pro­vincial legislatures are only co-ordinate to each other, they ought all to be subordinate to her; else they can neither preserve mutual peace, nor hope for mu­tual justice, nor effectually afford mutual assistance. It is necessary to coerce the negligent, to restrain the violent, and to aid the weak and deficient, by [Page 34] the over-ruling plenitude of her power. She is ne­ver to intrude into the place of the others, whilst they are equal to the common ends of their institu­tion. But in order to enable parliament to answer all these ends of provident and beneficient superin­tendance, her powers must be boundless.—Ibid.


INDEED there is nothing more prejudicial to the grandeur of buildings, than to abound in angles; a fault obvious in many; and owing to an inordinate thirst for variety, which, whenever it prevails, is sure to leave very little true taste.—Sublime and Beautiful.


A true artist should put a generous deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest designs by easy me­thods.—Ibid.


NO work of art can he great, but as it deceives; to be otherwise is the prerogative of nature only. A good eye will fix the medium betwixt an excessive length or heighth (for the same objection lies against both), and a short or broken quantity: and perhaps it might be ascertained to a tolerable degree of ex­actness, if it was my purpose to descend far into the particulars of any art.—Ibid.


SUCH sounds as imitate the natural inarticulate voices of men, or any animals in pain or danger, are capable of conveying great ideas; unless it be the well-known voice of some creature, on which we are used to look with contempt. The angry tones of wild beasts are equally capable of causing a great and awful sensation.

[Page 35]
Hinc exaudiri gemitus, iroeque leonum
Vincla recusantum, et sera sub nocte rudentum;
Setigerique sues, atque in praesepibus ursi
Saevire; et formae magnorum ululare luporum.

It might seem that these modulations of sound carry some connection with the nature of the things they represent, and are not merely arbitrary; because the natural cries of all animals, even of those animals with whom we have not been acquainted, never fail to make themselves sufficiently understood; this can­not be said of language. The modifications of sound, which may be productive of the sublime, are almost infinite. Those I have mentioned, are only a few instances to shew on what principles they are all built.—Ibid.


THERE are very few in the world who will not prefer an useful ally to an insolent master.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


NEVER expecting to find perfection in men, and not looking for divine attributes in created beings, in my commerce with my cotemporaries, I have found much human virtue. I have seen not a little public spirit; a real subordination of interest to duty; and a decent and regulated sensibility to honest fame and reputation. The age unquestionable produces (whe­ther in a greater or less number than former times, I know not) daring profligates, and insidious hypo­crites. What then? Am I not to avail myself of whatever good is to be found in the world, because of the mixture of evil that will always be in it? The smallness of the quantity in currency only heightens the value. They, who raise suspicions on the good on account of the behaviour of ill men, are of the party of the latter.—Ibid.


VIRTUE will catch as well as vice by contact; and the public stock of honest manly principle will daily accumulate. We are not too nicely to scruti­nize motives as long as action is irreproachable. It is enough, (and for a worthy man perhaps too much) to deal out its infamy to convicted guilt and declared apostacy.—Ibid.

ADMINISTRATION. Consequences of an exterior Administration.

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, but reformation. When mi­nistry rests upon public opinion, it is not, indeed, built upon a rock of adamant; it has, however, some stability. But when it stands upon private humour, its structure is of stubble, and its foundation is on quicksand. I repeat it again—He that supports every administration, subverts all government. The reason is this: The whole business in which a court usually takes an interest goes on at present equally well, in whatever hands, whether high or low, wise or foolish, scandalous or reputable; there is nothing, therefore, to hold it firm to any one body of men, or to any one consistent scheme of politics. Nothing interposes, to prevent the full operation of all the [Page 37] caprices and all the passions of a court upon the ser­vants of the public. The system of administration is open to continual shocks and changes, upon the principles of the meanest cabal, and the most con­temptible intrigue. Nothing can be solid and per­manent. All good men, at length, sly with horror from such a service. Men of rank and ability, with the spirit which ought to animate such men in a free state, while they decline the jurisdiction of dark cabal on their actions and their fortunes, will, for both, chearfully put themselves upon their country. They will trust an inquisitive and distinguishing parliament; because it does enquire, and does distinguish. If they act well, they know, that in such a parliament, they will be supported against any intrigue; if they act ill, they know that no intrigue can protect them. This situation, however awful, is honourable. But in one hour, and in the self-same assembly, without any assigned or assignable cause, to be precipitated from the highest authority to the most marked neg­lect, possibly into the greatest peril of life and repu­tation, is a situation full of danger, and destitute of honour. It will be shunned equally by every man of prudence, and every man of spirit.—Cause of the Discontents of the Nation.


TO be enabled to acquire, the people, without being servile, must be tractable and obedient. The magistrate must have his reverence, the laws their authority. The body of the people must not find the principles of natural subordination by art rooted out of their minds. They must respect that property of which they cannot partake. They must labour to obtain what by labour can be obtained; and when they find, as they commonly do, the success dispro­portioned to the endeavour, they must be taught their consolation in the final proportions of eternal [Page 38] justice. Of this consolation, whoever deprives them, deadens their industry, and strikes at the root of all acquisition as of all conservation. He that does this is the cruel oppressor, the merciless enemy of the poor and wretched; at the same time that by his wicked speculations he exposes the fruits of success­ful industry, and the accumulations of fortune, to the plunder of the negligent, the disappointed, and the unprosperous.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


THE assembly took no notice of his recommenda­tion. They were in this dilemma—If they continued to receive the assignats, cash must become an alien to their treasury: If the treasury should refuse those paper amulets, or should discountenance them in any degree, they must destroy the credit of their sole re­source. They seem, then, to have made their option; and to have given some sort of credit to their paper by taking it themselves; at the same time in their speeches they made a sort of swaggering declaration, something, I rather think, above legislative compe­tence; that is, that there is no difference in value be­tween metallic money and their assignats. This was a good stout proof article of faith, pronounced under an anathema, by the venerable fathers of this phi­losophic synod. Credat who will—certainly not Ju­doeus Appella.Ibid.


WE know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long.—Ibid.


CONTROULED depravity is not innocence; and that it is not the labour of delinquency in chains, [Page 39] that will correct abuses. Never did a serious plan of amending of any old tyrannical establishment pro­pose the authors and abettors of the abuses as the reformers of them.—Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.


BY beauty I mean that quality, or those qualities in bodies, by which they cause love, or some passion similar to it. I confine this definition to the merely sensible qualities of things, for the sake of preserving the utmost simplicity in a subject which must always distract us, whenever we take in those various causes of sympathy which attach us to any persons or things from secondary considerations, and not from the direct force which they have merely on being viewed.—Sublime and Beautiful.


THE passion which belongs to generation, merely as such, is lust only. This is evident in brutes, whose passions are more unmixed, and which pursue their purposes more directly than ours. The only distinction they observe with regard to their mates, is that of sex. It is true, that they stick severally to their own species in preference to all others. But this preference, I imagine, does not arise from any sense of beauty which they find in their species, as Mr. Addison supposes, but from a law of some other kind, to which they are subject; and this we may fairly conclude, from their apparent want of choice amongst those objects to which the barriers of their species have confined them. But man, who is a creature adapted to a greater variety and intricacy of relation, connects with the general passion, the idea of some social qualities, which direct and heighten the appetite which he has in common with all other [Page 40] animals; and as he is not designed, like them, to live at large, it is fit that he should have something to create a preference, and fix his choice; and this, in general, should be some sensible quality; as no other can so quickly, so powerfully, or so surely produce its effect. The object, therefore, of this mixed pas­sion, which we call love, is the beauty of the sex. Men are carried to the sex in general, as it is the sex, and by the common law of nature; but they are at­tached to particulars by personal beauty. I call beauty a social quality; for where women and men, and not only they, but when other animals give us a sense of joy and pleasure in beholding them (and there are many that do so), they inspire us with sen­timents of tenderness and affection towards their persons; we like to have them near us, and we enter willingly into a kind of relation with them, unless we should have strong reasons to the contrary. But to what end, in many cases, this was designed, I am unable to discover; for I see no greater reason for a connection between man and several animals who are attired in so engaging a manner, than between him and some others who entirely want this attraction, or possess it in a far weaker degree. But it is pro­bable, that Providence did not make even this dis­tinction, but with a view to some great end, though we cannot perceive distinctly what it is, as his wisdom is not our wisdom, nor our ways his ways.—Ibid.


OBSERVE that part of a beautiful woman where she is, perhaps, the most beautiful, about the neck and breasts; the smoothness; the softness; the easy and insensible swell; the variety of the surface, which is never for the smallest space the same; the deceitful maze, through which the unsteady eye slides giddily, without knowing where to fix, or whither it is car­ried. Is not this a demonstration of that change of [Page 41] surface, continual, yet hardly perceptible at any point, which forms one of the great constituents of beauty? It gives me no small pleasure to find that I can strengthen my theory in this point, by the opinion of the very ingenious Mr. Hogarth; whose idea of the line of beauty I take in general to be extremely just. But the idea of variation, without attending so accurately to the manner of the variation, has led him to con­sider angular figures as beautiful; these figures, it is true, vary greatly; yet they vary in a sudden and broken manner; and I do not find any natural object which is angular, and at the same beautiful. Indeed few natural objects are entirely angular.—Ibid.


I NEED here say little of the fair sex, where I believe the point will be easily allowed me. The beauty of women is considerably owing to their weakness or delicacy, and so even enhanced by their timidity, a quality of mind analogous to it. I would not here be understood to say, that weakness betraying very bad health has any share in beauty; but the ill effect of this is not because it is weakness, but because the ill state of health which produces such weakness, alters the other conditions of beauty; the parts in such a case collapse; the bright colour, the lumen purpureum juventae, is gone; and the fine variation is lost in wrinkles, sudden breaks, and right lines.—Ibid.

BIRD. Description of a beautiful one.

THE view of a beautiful bird will illustrate this observation. Here we see the head increasing in­sensibly to the middle, from whence it lessens gra­dually until it mixes with the neck; the neck loses itself in a larger swell, which continues to the middle [Page 42] of the body, when the whole decreases again to the tail; the tail takes a new direction; but it soon varies its new course: it blends again with the other parts; and the line is perpetually changing, above, below, upon every side. In this description I have before me the idea of a dove; it agrees very well with most of the conditions of beauty. It is smooth and downy; its parts are (to use that expression) melted into one another; you are represented with no sudden protu­berance through the whole, and yet the whole is continually changing.—Ibid.


This act, therefore, has this distinguished evil in it, that it is the first partial suspension of the Habeas Corpus that has been made. The precedent, which is always of very great importance, is now established. For the first time a distinction is made among the people within this realm. Before this act, every man putting his foot on English ground, every stranger owing only a local and temporary allegiance, even negro slaves, who had been sold in the colonies and under an act of parliament, became as free as every other man who breathed the same air with them.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


BY the favour of my fellow-citizens, I am the representative of an honest, well ordered, virtuous city; of a people, who preserve more of the original English simplicity, and purity of manners, than per­haps any other. You possess among you several men and magistrates of large and cultivated understand­ings, fit for any employment in any sphere. I do, to the best of my power, act so as to make myself worthy of so honourable a choice.—Ibid.


THERE is, Sir, another office, which was not long since closely connected with this of the Ame­rican secretary; but has been lately separated from it for the very same purpose for which it had been conjoined; I mean the sole purpose of all the sepa­rations and all conjunctions that have been lately made—a job. I speak, Sir, of the Board of Trade and Plantations. This board is a sort of temperate bed of influence; a sort of gently ripening hot-house, where eight members of parliament receive salaries of a thousand a year, for a certain given time, in order to mature, at a proper season, a claim to two thousand, granted for doing less, and on the credit of having toiled so long in that inferior laborious department.—Oecon. Reform.


THE British state is, without question, that which pursues the greatest variety of creeds, and is the least disposed to sacrifice any one of them to another, or to the whole. It aims at taking in the whole circle of human desires, and securing for them their fair enjoyment. Our Legislature has been very closely connected in its most efficient part with individual feeling and with individual interest. Personal li­berty, the most lively of these feelings, and the most important of these interests, which in other European countries has rather arisen from the system of mea­sures, and the habitudes of life, than from the laws of the state, (in which it flourished more from neglect than attention) in England, has been a direct object of Government.—Regicide Peace.


AT present the state of their treasury (France) sinks every day more and more in cash, and swells more [Page 44] and more in fictitious representation. When so little within or without is now found but paper, the repre­sentative not of opulence but of want, the creature not of credit but of power, they imagine that our flourishing state in England is owing to that bank paper, and not the bank paper to the flourishing con­dition of our commerce, to the solidity of our credit, and to the total exclusion of all idea of power from any part of the transaction. They forget that, in England, not one shilling of paper-money of any description is received but of choice; that the whole has had its origin in cash actually deposited; and that it is convertible, at pleasure, in an instant, and without the smallest loss, into cash again. Our paper is of value in commerce, because in law it is of none. It is powerful on 'Change, because in Westminster­hall it is not.—Reflect. on the Revolution in France.


WITH regard to the estates possessed by bishops and canons, and commendatory abbots, I cannot find out for what reason some landed estates may not be held otherwise than by inheritance. Can any phi­losophie spoiler undertake to demonstrate the positive or the comparative evil of having a certain, and that too a large portion of landed property, passing in succession through persons whose title to it is, always in theory, and often in fact, an eminent degree of piety, morals, and learning; a property which, by its destination, in their turn, and on the score of merit, gives to the noblest families renovation and support, to the lowest the means of dignity and ele­vation; a property, the tenure of which is the per­formance of some duty, (whatever value you may chuse to set upon that duty) and the character of whose proprietors demands at least an exterior deco­rum and gravity of manners; who are to exercise a generous but temperate hospitality; part of whose [Page 45] income they are to consider as a trust for charity; and who, even when they fail in their trust, when they slide from their character, and degenerate into a mere common secular nobleman or gentleman, are in no respect worse than those who may succeed them in their forfeited possessions? Is it better that estates should be held by those who have no duty, than by those who have one?—by those whose character and destination point to virtues, than by those who have no rule and direction in the expenditure of their estates but their own will and appetite? Nor are these estates held altogether in the character or with the evils supposed inherent in mortmain. They pass from hand to hand with a more rapid circulation than any other. No excess is good; and therefore too great a proportion of landed property may be held officially for life; but it does not seem to me of material injury to any commonwealth, that there should exist some estates that have a chance of being acquired by other means than the previous acqui­sition of money.—Ibid.


THE Board of Works, which in the seven years preceding 1777, has cost towards 400,000 l. and (if I recollect rightly) has not cost less in proportion from the beginning of the reign, is under the very same description of all the other ill-contrived establish­ments, and calls for the very same reform. We are to seek for the visible signs of all this expence.—For all this expence, we do not see a building of the size and importance of a pigeon-house. Buckingham­house was reprised by a bargain with the public, for one hundred thousand pounds; and the small house at Windsor has been, if I mistake not, undertaken since that account was brought before us. The good works of that board of works are as carefully con­cealed as other good works ought to be; they are [Page 46] perfectly invisible. But though it is the perfection of charity to be concealed, it is, Sir, the property and glory of magnificence to appear, and stand for­ward to the eye.—Oecon. Reform.


I know well enough that the bishoprics and cures, under kingly and seignoral patronage, as now they are in England, and as they have been lately in France, are sometimes acquired by unworthy me­thods.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


FROM Magna Charta to the Declaration of Rights, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assist our liberties, as an entailed inheri­tance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity, as an estate specially be­longing to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our constitution preserves an unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and an house of commons and a people inheriting privi­leges, franchises, and liberties, from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of pro­found reflection, or rather the happy effect of fol­lowing nature, which is wisdom without reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance fur­nishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free, [Page 47] but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims, are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement; grasped as in a kind of mortmain for ever. By a constitutional policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our govern­ment and our privileges, in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of Providence, are handed down to us and from us, in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and sym­metry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but in a condition of unchangeable con­stancy, moves on through the varied tenor of per­petual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.—Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on these principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of in­heritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the consti­tution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and che­rishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts, to fortify the [Page 48] fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small be­nefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, lead­ing in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent in­spires us with a sense of habitual native dignity, which prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably ad­hering to and disgracing those who are the first ac­quirers of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect; it has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors; it has its bearings and its ensigns armo­rials; it has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere in­dividual men; on account of their age; and on ac­count of those from whom they are descended.—Ibid.

CAUTION. Great Caution to be used in the Consideration of any complex Matter.

THE characters of nature are legible, it is true; but they are not plain enough to enable those who run, to read them. We must make use of a cau­tious, I had almost said, a timorous method of pro­ceeding. We must not attempt to fly, when we can scarcely pretend to creep. In considering any com­plex matter, we ought to examine every distinct in­gredient in the composition, one by one, and reduce every thing to the utmost simplicity; since the con­dition of our nature binds us to a strict law and very narrow limits. We ought afterwards to re-examine the principles by the effect of the composition, as well as the composition by that of the principles: we [Page 49] ought to compare our subject with things of a similar nature, and even with things of a contrary nature; for discoveries may be and often are made by the contrast, which would escape us on the single view.—

Sublime and Beautiful.

CONSTITUTION. Spirit of the British Constitution.

DO not entertain so weak an imagination, as that your register and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses, are the things that hold together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion, which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivisies every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member.—Speech on Conciliation with America.


THOSE colours which seem most appropriated to beauty, are the milder of every sort; light greens, soft blues, weak whites, pink reds, and violets. If the colours be strong and vivid, they are always diversified, and the object is never of one strong colour; there are almost always such a number of them, (as in variegated flowers) that the strength and glare of each is considerably abated. In a fine complexion, there is not only some variety in the colouring, but the colours; neither the red nor the white are strong and glaring. Besides, they are mixed in such a manner, and with such gradations, that it is impossible to fix the bounds. On the same [Page 50] principle it is, that the dubious colour in the necks and tails of peacocks, and about the heads of drakes, is so very agreeable. In reality, the beauty both of shape and colouring are as nearly related, as we can well suppose it possible for things of such different natures to be.—

Sublime and Beautiful.

CHRISTENDOM. The States of the Christian World.

THE States of the Christian World have grown up to their present magnitude in a great length of time, and by a great variety of accidents. They have been improved to what we see them with greater or less degrees of felicity and skill. Not one of them has been formed upon a regular plan, or with any unity of design. As their constitutions are not systematical, they have not been directed to any peculiar end, eminently distinguished, and superseding every other. The objects which they embrace are of the greatest possible variety, and have become in a manner infinite. In all these old countries the state has been made to the people, and not the people conformed to the state. Every state has pursued, not only every sort of social advan­tage, but it has cultivated the welfare of every individual. His wants, his wishes, even his tastes have been consulted. This comprehensive scheme, virtually produced a degree of personal liberty in forms the most adverse to it. That was found, under monarchies stiled absolute, in a degree un­known to the ancient commonwealths. From hence the powers of all our modern states meet, in all their movements, with some obstruction. It is therefore no wonder, that when these states are to be considered as machines to operate for some one great end, that this dissipated and balanced force is not easily concentred, or made to bear upon one point.—Regicide Peace.


When I (Mr. Burke) first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to discover what it was, that gave this country the rank it holds in the world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not solely, from two sources; our constitution and commerce. Both these I have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.

The distinguishing part of our constitution is its liberty. To preserve that liberty inviolate, seems the particular duty and proper trust of a member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty I mean, is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.

The other source of our power is commerce, of which you are so large a part, and which cannot exist, no more than your liberty, without a con­nection with many virtues.—Speech to the Electors of Bristol.


AT this proposition, I must pause a moment. The thing seems a great deal too big for my ideas of jurisprudence. It should seem, to my way of con­ceiving such matters, that there is a very wide difference in reason and policy, between the mode of proceeding on the irregular conduct of scattered individuals, or even of bands of men, who disturb order within the state, and the civil dissentions which may, from time to time, on great questions, agitate the several communities which compose a great empire. It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic, to apply the ordinary ideas of criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not know the method [Page 52] of drawing up an indictment against an whole people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feelings of millions of my fellow creatures, as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual (Sir Walter Raleigh) at the bar. I am not ripe to pass sentence on the gravest public bodies, entrusted with magistracies of great authority and dignity, and charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon the very same title that I am. I really think, that for wise men, this is not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured with humanity, not mild and merciful.—

Speech on Conciliation with America.


IF your clergy, or any clergy, should shew them­selves vicious beyond the fair bounds allowed to human infirmity, and to those professional faults which can hardly be separated from professional virtues, though their vices never can countenance the exercise of oppression, I do admit, that they would naturally have the effect of abating very much of our indignation against the tyrants who exceed measure and justice in their punishment. I can allow in clergymen, through all their divisions, some tenaciousness of their own opinion; some overflowings of zeal for its propagation; some predilection to their own state and office; some attachment to the interest of their own corps; some preference to those who listen with docility to their doctrines, beyond those who scorn and deride them. I allow all this, because I am a man who have to deal with men, and who would not, through a violence of toleration, run into the greatest of all intolerance. I must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.—Re­flect. on the Revolution in France.


FIRST, I beg leave to speak of our church estab­lishment, which is the first of our prejudices, not a [Page 53] prejudice destitute of reason, but involving in it profound and extensive wisdom. I speak of it first. It is first, and last, and midst in our minds. For, taking ground on that religious system, of which we are now in possession, we continue to act on the early received, and uniformly continued sense of mankind. That sense not only, like a wise architect, hath built up the august fabric of states, but like a provident proprietor, to preserve the structure from prophanation and ruin, as a sacred temple, purged from all the impurities of fraud, and violence, and injustice, and tyranny, hath solemnly and for ever consecrated the commonwealth, and all that officiate in it. This consecration is made, that all who ad­minister in the government of men, in which they stand in the person of God himself, should have high and worthy notions of their function and destination; that their hope should be full of immortality; that they should not look to the paltry pelf of the moment, nor to the temporary and transient praise of the vulgar, but to a solid, permanent existence, in the permanent part of their nature, and to a permanent fame and glory, in the example they leave as a rich inheritance to the world.

Such sublime principles ought to be infused into persons of exalted situations; and religious establish­ments provided, that may continually revive and enforce them. Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure, Man; whose prerogative it is, to be in a great degree a creature of his own making; and who when made as he ought to be made, is destined to hold no trivial place in the creation. But whenever man is put over men, as the better nature ought ever to preside, in that case more [Page 54] particularly, he should as nearly as possible be ap­proximated to his perfection.—Ibid.


THE consecration of the state, by a state religious establishment, is necessary also to operate with an wholesome awe upon free citizens; because, in order to secure their freedom, they must enjoy some determinate portion of power. To them therefore a religion connected with the state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more necessary than in such societies, where the people by the terms of their subjection are confined to private sentiments, and the management of their own family concerns. All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust; and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great master, author and founder of society.—Ibid.


SUCH a body kings generally have as a council. A monarchy may exist without it; but it seems to be in the very essence of a republican government. It holds a sort of middle place between the supreme power exercised by the people, or immediately de­legated from them, and the mere executive.—Ibid.


IT is thus, and for the same end, that they (the regi­cides) endeavour to destroy that tribunal of conscience which exists independently of edicts and decrees. Your despots govern by terror. They know, that he who fears God fears nothing else; and therefore they eradicate from the mind, through their Voltaire, their Helvetius, and the rest of that infamous gang, [Page 55] hat only sort of fear which generates true courage. Their object is, that their fellow citizens may be under the dominion of no awe, but that of their committee of research, and of their lanterne—



THE power of the House of Commons, direct or indirect, is indeed great; and long may it be able to preserve its greatness, and the spirit belonging to true greatness, at the full; and it will do so, as long as it can keep the breakers of law in India from becoming the makers of law for England.—Ibid.


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, and speedily to be resolved into the mass from whence it arose. In this respect it was in the higher part of government what juries are in the lower. The capacity of a magistrate being transitory, and that of a citizen permanent, the latter capacity it was hoped would of course preponderate in all discussions, not only between the people and the standing authority of the crown, but between the people and the fleeting authority of the House of Commons itself. It was hoped that, being of a middle nature between subject and government, they would feel with a more tender and a nearer interest [Page 56] every thing that concerned the people, than the other remoter and more permanent parts of legislature.

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. 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; 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 distinction of a popular representative. This belongs equally to all parts of government, and in all forms. The virtue, spirit, and essence of a House of Commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation. It was not [...]ed to be a controul upon the people, as of late [...] been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency. It was designed as a controul for the people. Other institutions have been formed for the purpose of checking popular excesses; and they are, I apprehend, fully adequate to their object. If not, they ought to be made so. The House of Commons, as it was never intended for the support of [Page 57] peace and subordination, is miserably appointed for that service; having no stronger weapon than its mace, and no better officer than its serjeant at arms, which it can command of its own proper authority. A vigilant and jealous eye over executory and judicial magistracy; an anxious care of public money, an openness, approaching towards facility, to public complaint: these seem to be the true characteristics of an House of Commons. But an addressing House of Commons, and a petitioning nation; an House of Commons full of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair; in the utmost harmony with ministers, whom the people regard with the utmost abhorrence; who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them for impeachments; who are eager to grant, when the general voice demands account; who, in all disputes between the people and administration, presume against the people; who punish their disorders, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them; this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this constitution. Such an assembly may be a great, wise, awful senate; but it is not to any popular purpose an House of Com­mons.—Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents.

CARNATIC, (SEE INDIA.) History of Hyder Ali's irruption into the Eastern Carnatic.

WHEN at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with men who either would sign no convention, or whom no treaty, and no signature could bind, and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he decreed to make the country possessed by these incorrigible and predestinated criminals a memorable example to mankind. He resolved, in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the whole Carnatic an ever­lasting [Page 58] monument of vengeance; and to put perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those against whom the faith which holds the moral elements of the world together was no protection. He became at length so confident of his force, so collected in his might, that he made no secret whatsoever of his dreadful resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy, and every rival, who buried their mutual animosities in their common detestation against the creditors of the Nabob of Arcot, he drew from every quarter whatever a savage ferocity could add to his new rudiments in the arts of destruction; and compounding all the materials of fury, havock, and desolation, into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivities of the mountains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor, which blackened all their horizon, it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents upon the plains of the Carnatic. Then ensued a scene of woe, the like of which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, and which no tongue can adequately tell. All the horrors of war before known or heard of, were mercy to that new havock. A storm of universal fire blasted every field, consumed every house, destroyed every temple. The miserable inhabitants flying from their flaming villages, in part were slaughtered; others, without regard to sex, to age, to the respect of rank, or sacredness of function; fathers torn from children, husbands from wives, enveloped in a whirlwind of cavalry, and amidst the goading spears of drivers, and the trampling of pursuing horses, were swept into captivity, in an unknown and hostile land. Those who were able to evade this tempest, fled to the walled cities. But escaping from fire, sword, and exile, they fell into the jaws of famine.

The alms of the settlement, in this dreadful exigency, were certainly liberal; and all was done by charity that private charity could do: but it was [Page 59] a people in beggary; it was a nation which stretched out its hands for food. For months together these creatures of sufferance, whose very excess and luxury in their most plenteous days, had fallen short of the allowance of our austerest fasts, silent, patient, re­signed, without sedition or disturbance, almost without complaint, perished by an hundred a day in the streets of Madras; every day seventy at least laid their bodies in the streets, or on the glacis of Tanjore, and expired of famine in the granary of India. I was going to awake your justice towards this unhappy part of our fellow citizens, by bringing before you some of the circumstances of this plague of hunger. Of all the calamities which beset and waylay the life of man, this comes the nearest to our heart, and is that wherein the proudest of us all feels himself to be nothing more than he is: but I find myself unable to manage it with decorum; these details are of a species of horror so nauseous and disgusting; they are so degrading to the sufferers and to the hearers; they are so humiliating to human nature itself, that, on better thoughts, I find it more adviseable to throw a pall over this hideous object, and to leave it to your general conceptions.

* For eighteen months, without intermission, this destruction raged from the gates of Madras to the gates of Tanjore; and so completely did these masters in their art, Hyder Ali, and his more ferocious son, absolve themselves of their impious vow, that when the British armies traversed, as they did the Carnatic for hundreds of miles in all directions, through the whole line of their march they did not see one man, not one woman, not one child, not one four-footed beast of any description whatever. One dead uniform silence reigned over the whole region. With the inconsiderable exceptions of the narrow vicinage of some few forts, I wish to be understood as speaking [Page 60] literally. I mean to produce to you more than three witnesses, above all exception, who will support this assertion in its full extent. That hurricane of war passed through every part of the central provinces of the Carnatic. Six or seven districts to the north and to the south (and these not wholly untouched) escaped the general ravage.—

Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts.


THE Carnatic is a country not much inferior in extent to England. Figure to yourself, Mr. Speaker, the land in whose representative chair you sit; figure to yourself the form and fashion of your sweet and cheerful country from Thames to Trent, north and south, and from the Irish to the German sea east and west, emptied and embowelled (May God avert the omen of our crimes!) by so accomplished a desolation. Extend your imagination a little further, and then suppose your ministers taking a survey of this scene of waste and desolation; what would be your thoughts if you should be informed, that they were computing how much had been the amount of the excises, how much the customs, how much the land and malt tax, in order that they should charge (take it in the most favourable light) for public service, upon the relics of the satiated vengeance of relentless enemies, the whole of what England had yielded in the most ex­uberant seasons of peace and abundance? What would you call it? To call it tyranny, sublimed into madness, would be too faint an image; yet this very madness is the principle upon which the ministers at your right hand have proceeded in their estimate of the revenues of the Carnatic, when they were pro­viding, not supply for the establishments of its pro­tection, but rewards for the authors of its ruin.

Every day you are fatigued and disgusted with this cant, ‘"the Carnatic is a country that will soon re­cover, and become instantly as prosperous as ever."’ [Page 61] They think they are talking to innocents, who will believe that by sowing of dragons teeth, men may come up ready grown and ready armed. They who will give themselves the trouble of considering (for it requires no great reach of thought, no very profound knowledge) the manner in which mankind are increased, and countries cultivated, will regard all this raving as it ought to be regarded. In order that the people, after a long period of vexation and plunder, may be in a condition to maintain govern­ment, government must begin by maintaining them. Here the road to oeconomy lies not through receipt, but through expence; and in that country nature has given no short cut to your object. Men must pro­pagate, like other animals, by the mouth. Never did oppression light the nuptial torch; never did extortion and usury spread out the genial bed.

Does any of you think that England, so wasted, would, under such a nursing attendance, so rapidly and cheaply recover? But he is meanly acquainted with either England or India, who does not know that England would a thousand times sooner resume population, fertility, and what ought to be the ultimate secretion from both, revenue, than such a country as the Carnatic.

The Carnatic is not by the bounty of nature a fertile soil. The general size of its cattle is proof enough that it is much otherwise. It is some days since I moved, that a curious and interesting map, kept in the India House, should be laid before you. The India House is not yet in readiness to send it; I have therefore brought down my own copy, and there it lies for the use of any gentleman who may think such a matter worthy of his attention. It is indeed a noble map, and of noble things; but it is decisive against the golden dreams and sanguine speculations of avarice run mad. In addition to what you know must be the case in every part of the world (the necessity of a previous provision of habi­tation, [Page 62] seed, stock, capital) that map will shew you, that the use of the influences of Heaven itself, are in that country a work of art. The Carnatic is refreshed by few or no living brooks or running streams, and it has rain only at a season; but its product of rice exacts the use of water subject to perpetual com­mand. This is the national bank of the Carnatic, on which it must have a perpetual credit, or it perishe irretrievably. For that reason, in the happier times of India, a number almost incredible of reser­voirs have been made in chosen places throughout the whole country; they are formed, for the greater part, of mounds of earth and stones, with sluices of solid masonry; the whole constructed with admirable skill and labour, and maintained at a mighty charge. In the territory contained in that map (Mr. Barnard's map of the Jaghire) alone, I have been at the trouble of reckoning the reservoirs, and they amount to upwards of eleven hundred, from the extent of two or three acres to five miles in circuit. From these reservoirs currents are occasionally drawn over the fields, and these water-courses again call for a con­siderable expence to keep them properly scoured and duly levelled. Taking the district in that map as a measure, there cannot be in the Carnatic and Tanjore fewer than ten thousand of these reservoirs of the larger and middling dimensions, to say nothing of those for domestic services, and the use of religious purification. These are not the enterprizes of your power, nor in a style of magnificence suited to the taste of your minister. These are the monuments of real kings, who were the fathers of their people; testators to a posterity which they embraced as their own. These are the grand sepulchres built by am­bition; but by the ambition of an unsatiable bene­volence, which, not contented with reigning in the dispensation of happiness during the contracted term of human life, had strained, with all the reachings and graspings of a vivacious mind, to extend the [Page 63] dominion of their bounty beyond the limits of nature, and to perpetuate themselves through generations of generations, the guardians, the protectors, the nou­rishers of mankind.

What, Sir, would a virtuous and enlightened mi­nistry do on the view of the ruins of such works be­fore them? On the view of such a chasm of desola­tion as that which yawned in the midst of those coun­tries to the north and south, which still bore some vestiges of cultivation? They would have reduced all their most necessary establishments; they would have suspended the justest payments; they would have employed every shilling derived from the producing to re-animate the powers of the unproductive parts. While they were performing this fundamental duty, whilst they were celebrating these mysteries of justice and humanity, they would have told the corps of fictitious creditors, whose crimes were their claims, that they must keep an awful distance; that they must silence their inauspicious tongues; that they must hold off their profane unhallowed paws from this holy work; they would have proclaimed with a voice that should make itself heard, that on every country the first creditor is the plow; that this original, indefeasi­ble claim supersedes every other demand.

This is what a wise and virtuous ministry would have done and said. This, therefore, is what our minister could never think of saying or doing. A ministry of another kind would have first improved the country, and have thus laid a solid founda­tion for future opulence and future force. But on this grand point of the restoration of the country, there is not one syllable to be found in the correspondence of our ministers, from the first to the last; they felt nothing for a land desolated by fire, sword, and famine; their sympathies took an­other direction; they were touched with pity for bribery, so long tormented with a fruitless itching of [Page 64] its palms; their bowels yearned for usury, that had long missed the harvest of its returning months; they f [...]lt for peculation which had been for so many years [...]ing in the dust of an empty treasury; they were [...]ed into compassion for rapine and oppression, [...]king their dry, parched, unbloody jaws. These were the necessities for which they were studious to provide.—Ibid.


AND what is the soil or climate, where experience has not uniformly proved that the voluntary flow of heaped up plenty, bursting from the weight of its own rich luxuriance, has ever run with a more co­pious stream of revenue, than could be squeezed from the dry husks of oppressed indigence, by the straining of all the politic machinery in the world.—Speech on Conciliation with America.


IS confounding the order of crimes, which, whether by putting them from a higher part of the scale to the lower, or from the lower to the higher, is never done without dangerously disordering the whole frame of jurisprudence.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


WE know, that the convocation of the clergy had formerly been called, and sat with nearly as much regularity to business as parliament itself. It is now called for form only. It sits for the purpose of making some polite ecclesiastical compliments to the king; and when that grace is said, retires and is heard of no more. It is however a part of the constitution, and may be called out into act and energy, whenever there is occasion; and whenever those, who conjure [Page 65] up that spirit, will choose to abide the consequences. It is wise to permit its legal existence; it is much wiser to continue it a legal existence only. So truly has prudence, (constituted as the god of this lower world) the entire dominion over every exercise of power, committed into its hands; and yet I have lived to see prudence and conformity to circum­stances, wholly set at naught in our late controversies, and treated as if they were the most contemptible and irrational of all things. I have heard it an hundred times very gravely alledged, that in order to keep power in wind, it was necessary, by preference, to exert it in those very points in which it was most likely to be resisted, and the least likely to be pro­ductive of any advantage.—Ibid.


IT must be remembered, that since the revolution, until the period we are speaking of, the influence of the crown had been always employed in supporting the ministers of state, and in carrying on the public business according to their opinions. But the party now in question is formed upon a very different idea. It is to intercept the favour, protection and confi­dence of the crown in the passage to its ministers; it is to come between them and their importance in par­liament; it is to separate them from all their natural and acquired dependencies; it is intended as con­troul, not the support, of administration. The machinery of this system is perplexed in its movements, and false in its principle. It is formed on a supposition that the king is something external to his govern­ment; and that he may be honoured and aggrandized, even by its debility and disgrace. The plan pro­ceeds expressly on the idea of enfeebling the regular executory power. It proceeds on the idea of weak­ening the state in order to strengthen the court. The scheme depending entirely on distrust, on disconnec­tion, [Page 66] on mutability by principle, on systematic weak­ness in every particular member; it is impossible that the total result should be substantial strength of any kind.

As a foundation of their scheme, the cabal have established a sort of rota in the court. All sorts of parties, by this means, have been brought into admi­nistration, from whence few have had the good for­tune to escape without disgrace; none at all without considerable losses. In the beginning of each ar­rangement no professions of confidence and support are wanting, to induce the leading men to engage. But while the ministers of the day appear in all the pomp and pride of power, while they have all their canvas spread out to the wind, and every sail filled with the fair and prosperous gale of royal favour, in a short time they find, they know not how, a cur­rent, which sets directly against them; which pre­vents all progress; and even drives them backwards. They grow ashamed and mortified in a situation, which, by its vicinity to power, only serves to re­mind them the more strongly of their insignificance. They are obliged either to execute the orders of their inferiors, or to see themselves opposed by the natural instruments of their office. With the loss of their dignity they lose their temper. In their turn they grow troublesome to that cabal, which, whether it supports or opposes, equally disgraces and equally betrays them. It is soon found necessary to get rid of the heads of administration; but it is of the heads only. As there always are many rotten members belonging to the best connections, it is not hard to persuade several to continue in office without their leaders. By this means the party goes out much thinner than it came in; and is only reduced in strength by its temporary possession of power. Be­sides, if by accident, or in course of changes, that power should be recovered, the junto have thrown up a retrenchment of these carcases, which may serve [Page 67] to cover themselves in a day of danger. They con­clude, not unwisely, that such rotten members will become the first objects of disgust and resentment to their antient connexions.

They contrive to form in the outward administra­tion two parties at the least; which, whilst they are tearing one another to pieces, are both competitors for the favour and protection of the cabal; and, by their emulation, contribute to throw every thing more and more into the hands of the interior ma­nagers.

A minister of state will sometimes keep himself totally estranged from all his colleagues; will differ from them in their councils, will privately traverse, and publicly oppose, their measures, He will, how­ever, continue in his employment. Instead of suf­fering any mark of displeasure, he will be distin­guished by an unbounded profusion of court rewards and caresses; because he does what is expected, and all that is expected, from men in office. He helps to keep some form of administration in being, and keeps it at the same time as weak and divided as pos­sible.

However, we must take care not to be mistaken, or to imagine that such persons have any weight in their opposition. When, by them, administration is convinced of its insignificancy, they are soon to be convinced of their own. They never are suffered to succeed in their opposition. They and the world are to be satisfied, that, neither office, nor authority, nor property, nor ability, eloquence, counsel, skill, or union, are of the least importance; but that the mere influence of the court, naked of all support, and destitute of all management, is abundantly suffi­cient for all its own purposes.

When any adverse connexion is to be destroyed, the cabal seldom appear in the work themselves. They find out some person of whom the party enter­tains an high opinion. Such a person they endeavour [Page 68] to delude with various pretences. They teach him first to distrust, and then to quarrel with his friends; among whom, by the same arts, they excite a similar diffidence of him; so that, in this mutual fear and distrust, he may suffer himself to be employed as the instrument in the change which is brought about. Afterwards they are sure to destroy him in his turn, by setting up in his place some person in whom he had himself reposed the greatest confidence, and who serves to carry off a considerable part of his adhe­rents.

As in destroying their enemies they make use of instruments not immediately belonging to their corps, so in advancing their own friends they pursue exactly the same method. To promote any of them to con­siderable rank or emolument, they commonly take care that the recommendation shall pass through the hands of the oftensible ministry: such a recommen­dation might however appear to the world, as some proof of the credit of ministers, and some means of increasing their strength. To prevent this, the per­sons so advanced are directed, in all companies, in­dustriously to declare, that they are under no obli­gations whatsoever to administration; that they have received their office from another quarter; that they are totally free and independent.

When the faction has any job of lucre to obtain, or of vengeance to perpetrate, their way is, to select, for the execution, those very persons to whose habits, friendships, principles, and declarations, such pro­ceedings are publicly known to be the most adverse; at once to render the instruments the more odious, and therefore the more dependent, and to prevent the people from ever reposing a confidence in any appearance of private friendship, or public principle.

If the administration seem now and then, from re­missness, or from fear of making themselves dis­agreeable, to suffer any popular excesses to go un­punished, the cabal immediately sets up some creature [Page 69] of theirs to raise a clamour against the ministers, as having shamefully betrayed the dignity of govern­ment. Then they compel the ministry to become active in conferring rewards and honours on the per­sons who have been the instruments of their disgrace; and, after having first vilified them with the higher orders for suffering the laws to sleep over the licen­tiousness of the populace, they drive them (in order to make amends for their former inactivity) to some act of atrocious violence, which renders them com­pletely abhorred by the people.

They who remember the riots which attended the Middlesex election; the opening of the present par­liament; and the transactions relative to Saint George's Fields, will not be at a loss for an appli­cation of these remarks.

That this body may be enabled to compass all the ends of its institution, its members are scarcely ever to aim at the high and responsible offices of the state. They are distributed with art and judgment through all the secondary, but efficient, departments of office, and through the households of all the branches of the royal family: so as on one hand to occupy all the avenues to the throne; and on the other to for­ward or frustrate the execution of any measure, according to their own interests. For with the credit and support which they are known to have, though for the greater part in places which are only a genteel excuse for salary, they possess all the influence of the highest posts; and they dictate publicly in almost every thing, even with a parade of superiority. Whenever they dissent (as it often happens) from their nominal leaders, the trained part of the senate, instinctively in the secret, is sure to follow them; provided the leaders, sensible of their situation, do not of themselves recede in time from their most declared opinions. This latter is generally the case. It will not be conceivable to any one who has not seen it, what pleasure is taken by the cabal in ren­dering [Page 70] these heads of office thoroughly contemptible and ridiculous. And when they are become so, they have then the best chance for being well sup­ported.

The members of the court faction are fully indem­nified for not holding places on the slippery heights of the kingdom, not only by the lead in all affairs, but also by the perfect security in which they enjoy less conspicuous, but very advantageous situations. Their places are, in express legal tenure, or in effect, all of them for life. Whilst the first and most re­spectable persons in the kingdom are tossed about like tennis balls, the sport of a blind and insolent caprice, no minister dares even to cast an oblique glance at the lowest of their body. If an attempt be made upon one of this corps, immediately he flies to sanctuary, and pretends to the most inviolable of all promises. No conveniency of public arrange­ment is available to remove any one of them from the specific situation he holds; and the slightest at­tempt upon one of them, by the most powerful mi­nister, is a certain preliminary to his own destruc­tion.

Conscious of their independence, they bear them­selves with a lofty air to the exterior ministers. Like Janissaries, they derive a kind of freedom from the very condition of their servitude. They may act just as they please; provided they are true to the great ruling principle of their institution. It is, therefore, not at all wonderful, that people should be so desirous of adding themselves to that body, in which they may possess and reconcile satisfactions the most alluring, and seemingly the most contradictory; enjoying at once all the spirited pleasure of indepen­dence, and all the gross lucre and sat emoluments of servitude.

Here is a sketch, though a slight one, of the con­stitution, laws, and policy of this new court corpo­ration. The name by which they chuse to distinguish [Page 71] themselves, is that of king's men, or the king's friends, by an invidious exclusion of the rest of his Majesty's most loyal and affectionate subjects. The whole system, comprehending the exterior and interior ad­ministrations, is commonly called in the technical language of the court, double cabinet; in French or English, as you chuse to pronounce it.—Thoughts on the Cause of the Discontents of the Nation.


CHARTERS are kept when their purposes are main­tained: they are violated when the privilege is sup­ported against its end and its object.—Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.


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 any 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 [Page 72] inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, un­systematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate, else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.—Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents.


THOSE who quit their proper character, to assume what does not belong to them, are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave, and of the character they assume.—Ibid.


THIS it has been the glory of the great masters in all the arts to confront, and to overcome; and when they had overcome the first difficulty, to turn it into an instrument for new conquests over new difficul­ties; thus to enable them to extend the empire of their science; and even to push forward beyond the reach of their original thoughts, the land-marks of the human understanding itself. Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. Pater ipse colendi haud sacilem esse viam voluit. He that wrestles with us, strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


DELUSION and weakness produce not one mischief the less, because they are universal.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


BUT as pain is stronger in its operations than plea­sure, so death is in general a much more affecting idea than pain; because there are very few pains, however equisite, which are not preferred to death; nay, what generally make pain itself, if I may say so, is, that it is considered as an emissary of this king of terrors.—Sublime and Beautiful.


DARKNESS is more productive of sublime ideas than light. Our great poet was convinced of this; and indeed so full was he of this idea, so entirely possessed with the power of a well-managed darkness, that in describing the appearance of the Deity, amidst that profusion of magnificent images which the gran­deur of his subject provokes him to pour out upon every side, he is far from forgetting the obscurity which surrounds the most incomprehensible of all beings, but

—With the majesty of darkness round
Circles his throne.

And what is no less remarkable, our author had the secret of preserving this idea, even when he seemed to depart the farthest from it, when he describes the light and glory which flows from the divine presence; a light which by its very excess is converted into a species of darkness.

Dark with excessive light thy skirts appear.

[Page 74]Here is an idea not only poetical in an high degree, but strictly and philosophically just. Extreme light, by overcoming the organs of sight, obliterates all objects, so as in its effect exactly to resemble darkness. After looking for some time at the sun, two black spots, the impression which it leaves, seem to dance before our eyes. Thus are two ideas as opposite as can be imagined reconciled in the ex­tremes of both; and both in spite of their opposite nature brought to concur in producing the sublime. And this is not the only instance wherein the opposite extremes operate equally in favour of the sublime, which in all things abhors mediocrity.—Ibid.


DIGNITY, hitherto, has belonged to the mode of proceeding, not to the matter of a treaty. Never before has it been mentioned as the standard for rating the conditions of peace; no, never by the most violent of conquerors. Indemnity is capable of some estimate; dignity has no standard.—Regi­cide Peace.


THERE are two capital faults in our law with re­lation to civil debts. One is, that every man is pre­sumed solvent. A presumption, in innumerable cases, directly against truth. Therefore the debtor is ordered, on a supposition of ability and fraud, to be coerced his liberty until he makes payment. By this means, in all cases of civil insolvency without a pardon from his creditor, he is to be imprisoned for life:—and thus a miserable mistaken invention of artificial science, operates to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and to scourge misfortune or in­discretion with a punishment which the law does not inflict on the greatest crimes.

[Page 75]The next fault is, that the inflicting of that punish­ment is not on the opinion of an equal and public judge; but is referred to the arbitrary discretion of a private, nay interested, and irritated individual. He, who formally is, and substantially ought to be, the judge, is in reality no more than ministerial, a mere executive instrument of a private man, who is at once judge and party. Every idea of judicial order is sub­verted by this procedure. If the insolvency be no crime, why is it punished with arbitrary imprisonment? If it be a crime, why is it delivered into private hands to pardon without discretion, or to punish without mercy and without measure?—Speech previous to the Election at Bristol.


TO complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind; indeed the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and humours have existed in all times; yet as all times have not been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself, in distinguishing that complaint which only characterizes the general infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season.—Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents.


AN empire is the aggregate of many states, under one common head; whether this head be a monarch, or a presiding republic.—Speech on Conciliation with America.


THESE old establishments were formed also on a third principle, still more adverse to the living oeco­nomy of the age. They were formed, Sir, on the principle of purveyance, and receipt in kind. In former days, when the household was vast, and the supply scanty and precarious, the royal purveyors, sallying forth from under the gothic portcullis, to purchase provision with power and prerogative, in­stead of money, brought home the plunder of an hundred markets, and all that could be seized from a flying and hiding country, and deposited their spoil in an hundred caverns, with each its keeper. There, every commodity, received in its rawest condition, went through all the process which fitted it for use. This inconvenient receipt produced an oeconomy suited only to itself. It multiplied offices beyond all measure; buttery, pantry, and all that rabble of places, which, though profitable to the holders and expensive to the state, are almost too mean to men­tion.—Oeconomical Reform.


THE natives scarcely know what it is to see the grey head of an Englishman. Young men (boys almost) govern there, without society, and without sympathy with the natives. They have no more social habits with the people, than if they still resided in England; nor indeed any species of intercourse but that which is necessary to making a sudden for­tune, with a view to a remote settlement. Animated with all the avarice of age, and all the impetuosity of youth, they roll in one after another, wave after wave, and there is nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new flights of birds of prey and passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that is continually wasting.

[Page 77]There is nothing in the boys we send to India worse than the boys whom we are whipping at school, or that we see trailing a pike, or bending over a desk at home. But as English youth in India drink the intoxicating draught of authority and dominion be­fore their heads are able to bear it, and as they are full grown in fortune long before they are ripe in principle, neither nature nor reason have any oppor­tunity to exert themselves for remedy of the excesses of their premature power. The consequences of their conduct, which in good minds, (and many of theirs are probably such) might produce penitence or amendment, are unable to pursue the rapidity of their flight. Their prey is lodged in England; and the cries of India are given to seas and winds, to be blown about, in every breaking up of the monsoon, over a remote and unhearing ocean.—Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.


EXTENSION is either in length, height, or depth. Of these the length strikes least; an hundred yards of even ground will never work such an effect as a tower an hundred yards high, or a rock or mountain of that altitude. I am apt to imagine likewise, that height is less grand than depth; and that we are more struck at looking down from a precipice, than look­ing up at an object of equal height; but of that I am not very positive. A perpendicular has more force in forming the sublime, than an inclined plain; and the effects of a rugged and broken surface seem stronger than where it is smooth and polished. It would carry us out of our way to enter in this place into the cause of these appearances; but certain it is they afford a large and fruitful field of speculation. However, it may not be amiss to add to these re­marks upon magnitude, that, as the great extreme of dimension is sublime, so the last extreme of littleness [Page 78] is in some measure sublime likewise; when we attend to the infinite divisibility of matter, when we pursue animal life into these excessively small, and yet or­ganized beings, that escape the nicest inquisition of the sense, when we push our discoveries yet down­ward, and consider those creatures so many degrees yet smaller, and the still diminishing scale of exist­ence, in tracing which the imagination is lost as well as the sense, we become amazed and confounded at the wonders of minuteness; nor can we distinguish in its effect this extreme of littleness from the vast itself. For division must be infinite as well as addi­tion; because the idea of a perfect unity can no more be arrived at, than that of a complete whole, to which nothing can be added.—Sublime and Beautiful.


I think then, that the beauty of the eye consists, first, in its clearness; what coloured eye shall please most, depends a good deal on particular fancies; but none are pleased with an eye whose water (to use that term) is dull and muddy. We are pleased with the eye in this view, on the principle upon which we like diamonds, clear water, glass, and such like transpa­rent substances. Secondly, the motion of the eye contributes to its beauty, by continually shifting its direction; but a slow and languid motion is more beautiful than a brisk one; the latter is enlivening; the former lovely. Thirdly, with regard to the union of the eye with the neighbouring parts, it is to hold the same rule that is given of other beautiful ones; it is not to make a strong deviation from the line of the neighbouring parts; nor to verge into any exact geometrical figure.—Ibid.


OUR education is in a manner wholly in the hands of ecclesiastics, and in all stages from infancy to manhood. Even when our youth, leaving schools and universities, enter that most important period of life which begins to link experience and study toge­ther, and when with that view they visit other coun­tries, instead of old domestics whom we have seen as governors to principal men from other parts, three-fourths of those who go abroad with our young no­bility and gentlemen are ecclesiastics; not as austere masters, nor as mere followers; but as friends and companions of a graver character, and not seldom persons as well born as themselves. With them, as relations, they most commonly keep up a close con­nexion through life. By this connexion we conceive that we attach our gentlemen to the church; and we liberalize the church by an intercourse with the lead­ing characters of the country.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


FOUR hundred years have gone over us; but I believe we are not materially changed since that pe­riod. Thanks to our sullen resistance to innovation, thanks to the cold sluggishness of our national cha­racter, we still bear the stamp of our forefathers. We have not (as I conceive) lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century; nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into savages. We are not the converts of Rousseau; we are not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius has made no progress amongst us. Atheists are not our preachers; madmen are not our lawgivers. We know that we have made no discoveries; and we think that no discoveries are to be made in morality; nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we [Page 80] were born, altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presump­tion, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity. In England we have not yet been completely embowelled of our natural entrails; we still feel within us, and we cherish and cultivate those inbred sentiments which are the faithful guar­dians, the active monitors of our duty, the true sup­porters of all liberal and manly morals. We have not been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed birds in a museum, with chaff and rags, and paltry blurred shreds of paper about the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings still native and entire, unsophisticated by pe­dantry and infidelity. We have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms. We fear God; we look up with awe to kings; with affection to par­liaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility*. Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected: because all other feelings are false and spurious, and tend to corrupt our minds, to vitiate our primary morals, to render us unfit for rational liberty; and by teaching us a servile, licentious, and abandoned insolence, to be our low sport for a few holidays, to make us perfectly fit for, and justly deserving of slavery, through the whole course of our lives.

You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess, that we are generally men [Page 81] of untaught feelings; that instead of casting away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree, and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are preju­dices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail them­selves of the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages. Many of our men of speculation, in­stead of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, and they sel­dom fail, they think it more wise to continue the prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection which will give it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previ­ously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and un­resolved. Prejudice renders a man's virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just prejudice his duty becomes a part of his nature.—Ibid.

FRANCE. Old Constitution of France—Consequences of the Revolution.

YOU might, if you pleased, have profited of our example, and have given to your recovered freedom a correspondent dignity. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not lost to memory. Your con­stitution, [Page 82] it is true, whilst you were out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation; but you possessed in some parts the walls, and in all the foundations of a noble and venerable castle. You might have re­paired those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before it was perfected; but you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you had all that combination, and all that opposition of in­terests, you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests, which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in our present con­stitution, interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. They render deliberation a matter not of choice, but of necessity; they make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets mode­ration; they produce temperaments, preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations; and rendering all the headlong exertions of arbi­trary power, in the few or in the many, for ever im­practicable. Through that diversity of members and interests, general liberty had as many securities as there were separate views in the several orders; whilst by pressing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping and starting from their al­lotted places.

You had all these advantages in your ancient states; but you chose to act as if you had never been mould­ed into civil society, and had every thing to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by de­spising every thing that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. If the last genera­tions [Page 83] of your country appeared without much lustre in your eyes, you might have passed them by, and derived your claims from a more early race of an­cestors, Under a pious predilection for those an­cestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a standard of virtue and wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the hour: and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as a people of yes­terday, as a nation of low-born servile wretches until the emancipating year of 1789. In order to furnish, at the expence of your honour, an excuse to your apologists here for several enormities of yours, you would not have been content to be represented as a gang of Maroon slaves, suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to which you were not accustomed, and ill fitted. Would it not, my worthy friend, have been wiser to have you thought, what I, for one, always thought you, a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, ho­nour, and loyalty; that events had been unfavour­able to you, but that you were not enslaved through any illiberal or servile disposition; that in your most devoted submission, you were actuated by a principle of public spirit, and that it was your country you worshipped, in the person of your king? Had you made it to be understood, that in the delusion of this amiable error you had gone further than your wise ancestors; that you were resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient and your recent loyalty and honour; or, if diffident of yourselves, and not clearly dis­cerning the almost obliterated constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbours in this land, who had kept alive the ancient principles and [Page 84] models of the old common law of Europe melio­rated and adapted to its present state—by following wise examples you would have given new examples of wisdom to the world. You would have rendered the cause of liberty venerable in the eyes of every worthy mind in every nation. You would have shamed despotism from the earth, by shewing that freedom was not only reconcileable, but as, when well disciplined, it is auxiliary to law. You would have had an unoppressive but a productive revenue. You would have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would have had a free constitution; a po­tent monarchy; a disciplined army; a reformed and venerated clergy; a mitigated but spirited nobility, to lead your virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order of commons, to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you would have had a pro­tected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggra­vate and imbitter that real inequality, which it never can remove; and which the order of civil life esta­blishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state, as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy. You had a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond any thing re­corded in the history of the world; but you have shewn that difficulty is good for man.

Compute your gains: see what is got by those ex­travagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they became truly despicable. By following those false lights, [Page 85] France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most un­equivocal blessings! France has bought poverty by crime! France has not sacrificed her virtue to her interest; but she has abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the refor­mation of an old, by establishing originally, or by enforcing with greater exactness some rites or other of religion. All other people have laid the founda­tions of civil freedom in severer manners, and a system of a more austere and masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal autho­rity, doubled the licence, of a ferocious dissolute­ness in manners, and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practices; and has extended through all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege, or laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new prin­ciples of equality in France.

France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has utterly disgraced the tone of lenient council in the cabinets of princes, and disarmed it of its most potent topics. She has sanctified the dark suspicious maxims of tyrannous distrust; and taught kings to tremble at (what will hereafter be called) the delusive plausibi­lities of moral politicians. Sovereigns will consider those who advise them to place an unlimited confi­dence in their people, as subverters of their thrones; as traitors who aim at their destruction, by leading their easy good-nature, under specious pretences, to admit combinations of bold and faithless men into a participation of their power. This alone (if there were nothing else) is an irreparable calamity to you and to mankind. Remember that your parliament of Paris told your king, that in calling the states to­gether, he had nothing to fear but the prodigal excess of their zeal in providing for the support of the [Page 86] throne. It is right that these men should hide their heads. It is right that they should bear their part in the ruin which their counsel has brought on their sovereign and their country. Such sanguine decla­rations tend to lull authority asleep; to encourage it rashly to engage in perilous adventures of untried policy; to neglect those provisions, preparations, and precautions, which distinguish benevolence from im­becility; and without which no man can answer for the salutary effect of any abstract plan of govern­ment or of freedom. For want of these, they have seen the medicine of the state corrupted into its poi­son. They have seen the French rebel against a mild and lawful monarch, with more fury, outrage, and insult, than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper, or the most sangui­nary tyrant. Their resistance was made to conces­sion; their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at an hand holding out graces, favours, and immunities.

This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their punishment in their success. Laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigour; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, ye the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; every thing human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impove­rished fraud, and beggared rapine, held out as a cur­rency for the support of an empire, in lieu of the two great recognized species that represent the lasting conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of poverty, whose crea­tures and representatives they are, systematically sub­verted.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


YOU had before your revolution about one hun­dred and twenty bishops. A few of them were men of eminent sanctity. When we talk of the heroic, of course we talk of rare virtue. I believe the in­stances of eminent depravity may be as rare amongst them as those of transcendent goodness. Examples of avarice and of licentiousness may be picked out, I do not question it, by those who delight in the in­vestigation which leads to such discoveries. A man, as old as I am, will not be astonished that several, in every description, do not lead that perfect life of self-denial, with regard to wealth or to pleasure, which is wished for by all, by some expected, but by none exacted with more rigour, than by those who are the most attentive to their own interests, or the most indulgent to their own passions. When I was in France, I am certain that the number of vici­ous prelates was not great. Certain individuals among them, not distinguishable for the regularity of their lives, made some amends for their want of the severe virtues, in their possession of the liberal; and were endowed with qualities which made them useful in the church and state. I am told, that with few exceptions, Louis the Sixteenth had been more attentive to character, in his promotions to that rank, than his immediate predecessor; and I believe, (as some spirit of reform has prevailed through the whole reign) that it may be true. But the present ruling power has shewn a disposition only to plunder the church. It has punished all prelates; which is to favour the vicious, at least, in point of reputa­tion. It has made a degrading pensionary establish­ment, to which no man, of liberal ideas, or liberal condition will destine his children. It must settle into the lowest classes of the people. As with you the inferior clergy are not numerous enough for their duties; as these duties are, beyond measure, minute [Page 88] and toilsome; as you have left no middle classes of clergy at their ease, in future nothing of science or erudition can exist in the Gallican church. To complete the project, without the least attention to the rights of patrons, the assembly has provided in future an elective clergy; an arrangement which will drive out of the clerical profession all men of so­briety; all who can pretend to independence in their function or their conduct; and which will throw the whole direction of the public mind into the hands of a set of licentious, bold, crafty, factious, flattering wretches, of such condition and such habits of life as will make their contemptible pensions (in com­parison of which the stipend of an exciseman is lu­crative and honourable) an object of low and illiberal intrigue. Those officers, whom they still call bishops, are to be elected to a provision comparatively mean, through the same arts, (that is, electioneering arts) by men of all religious tenets that are known or can be invented. The new lawgivers have not ascertained any thing whatsoever concerning their qualifications, relative either to doctrine or to morals; no more than they have done with regard to the subordinate clergy; nor does it appear but that both the higher and the lower may, at their discretion, practise or preach any mode of religion or irreligion that they please. I do not yet see what the jurisdiction of bishops over their subordinates is to be; or whether they are to have any jurisdiction at all.—Ibid.


WHEN my occasions took me into France, to­wards the close of the late reign, the clergy, under all their forms, engaged a considerable part of my curiosity. So far from finding (except from one set of men, not then very numerous, though very active) the complaints and discontents against that body, [Page 89] which some publications had given me reason to expect, I perceived little or no public or private uneasiness on their account. On further examina­tion, I found the clergy in general, persons of mode­rate minds and decorous manners; I include the se­culars, and the regulars of both sexes. I had not the good fortune to know a great many of the paro­chial clergy; but in general I received a perfectly good account of their morals, and of their attention to their duties. With some of the higher clergy I had a personal acquaintance; and of the rest in that class, very good means of information. They were, almost all of them, persons of noble birth. They resembled others of their own rank; and where there was any difference, it was in their favour. They were more fully educated than the military noblesse; so as by no means to disgrace their profession by ig­norance, or by want of fitness for the exercise of their authority. They seemed to me, beyond the clerical character, liberal and open; with the hearts of gen­tlemen, and men of honour; neither insolent nor servile in their manners and conduct. They seemed to me rather a superior class; a set of men, amongst whom you would not be surprized to find a Fenelon. I saw among the clergy in Paris (many of the de­scription are not to be met with any where) men of great learning and candour; and I had reason to be­lieve, that this description was not confined to Paris. What I found in other places, I know was accidental; and therefore to be presumed a fair sample. I spent a few days in a provincial town, where, in the absence of the bishop, I passed my evenings with three cler­gymen, his vicars general, persons who would have done honour to any church. They were all well in­formed; two of them of deep, general, and extensive erudition, ancient and modern, oriental and western; particularly in their own profession. They had a more extensive knowledge of our English divines than I expected; and they entered into the genius of those [Page 90] writers with a critical accuracy. One of these gen­tlemen is since dead, the Abbé Morangis. I pay this tribute, without reluctance, to the memory of that noble, reverend, learned, and excellent person; and I should do the same, with equal chearfulness, to the merits of the others, who, I believe, are still liv­ing, if I did not fear to hurt those whom I am unable to serve.

Some of these ecclesiastics of rank, are, by all titles, persons deserving of general respect. They are deserving of gratitude from me, and from many English. If this letter should ever come into their hands, I hope they will believe there are those of our nation who feel for their unmerited fall, and for the cruel confiscation of their fortunes, with no common sensibility. What I say of them is a testimony, as far as one feeble voice can go, which I owe to truth. Whenever the question of this unnatural persecution is concerned, I will pay it. No one shall prevent me from being just and grateful. The time is fitted for the duty; and it is particularly becoming to shew our justice and gratitude, when those who have de­served well of us and of mankind are labouring un­der popular obloquy and the persecutions of oppres­sive power.—Ibid.


BUT the nobility of France are degenerated since the days of Henry the Fourth.—This is possible. But it is more than I can believe to be true in any great degree. I do not pretend to know France as correctly as some others; but I have endeavoured through my whole life to make myself acquainted with human nature: otherwise I should be unfit to take even my humble part in the service of mankind. In that study I could not pass by a vast portion of our nature, as it appeared modified in a country but twenty-four miles from the shore of this island. On [Page 91] my best observation, compared with my best enqui­ries, I found your nobility for the greater part com­posed of men of an high spirit, and of a delicate sense of honour, both with regard to themselves in­dividually, and with regard to their whole corps, over whom they kept, beyond what is common in other countries, a censorial eye. They were toler­ably well-bred; very officious, humane, and hos­pitable; in their conversation frank and open; with a good military tone; and reasonably tinctured with literature, particularly of the authors in their own lan­guage. Many had pretensions far above this descrip­tion. I speak of those who were generally met with.—Ibid.


THE great object of your tyrants is to destroy the gentlemen of France; and for that purpose they de­stroy, to the best of their power, all the effect of those relations which may render considerable men power­ful or even safe. To destroy that order, they vitiate the whole community. That no means may exist of confederating against their tyranny, by the false sym­pathies of this Nouvelle Eloise, they endeavour to subvert those principles of domestic trust and fidelity, which form the discipline of social life. They pro­pagate principles by which every servant may think it, if not his duty, at least his privilege, to betray his master. By these principles, every considerable fa­ther of a family loses the sanctuary of his house. Debet sua cuique domus esse perfugium tu tissimum, says the law, which your legislators have taken so much pains first to decry, then to repeal. They destroy all the tranquillity and security of domestic life; turn­ing the asylum of the house into a gloomy prison, where the father of the family must drag out a mi­serable existence, endangered in proportion to the apparent means of his safety; where he is worse than [Page 92] solitary in a croud of domestics, and more appre­hensive from his servants and inmates, than from the hired blood-thirsty mob without doors, who are ready to pull him to the lanterne.—Ibid.


IT is not clear, whether in England we learned those grand and decorous principles and manners, of which considerable traces yet remain, from you, or whether you took them from us. But to you, I think, we trace them best. You seem to me to be—gentis incunabula nostrae. France has always more or less influenced manners in England; and when your fountain is choaked up and polluted, the stream will not run long, or not run clear with us, or perhaps with any nation. This gives all Europe, in my opi­nion, but too close and connected a concern in what is done in France. Excuse me, therefore, if I have dwelt too long on the atrocious spectacle of the sixth of October, 1789, or have given too much scope to the reflections which have arisen in my mind on occasion of the most important of all revo­lutions, which may be dated from that day, I mean a revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opi­nions. As things now stand, with every thing re­spectable destroyed without us, and an attempt to destroy within us every principle of respect, one is almost forced to apologize for harbouring the com­mon feelings of men.—Ibid.


ALREADY there appears a poverty of conception, a coarseness and vulgarity in all the proceedings of the assembly and of all their instructors. Their li­berty is not liberal; their science is presumptuous ignorance; their humanity is savage and brutal.

[Page 93]The assembly, their organ, acts before them the farce of deliberation with as little decency as liberty. They act like the comedians of a fair before a riotous audience; they act amidst the tumultuous cries of a mixed mob of ferocious men, and of women lost to shame, who, according to their insolent fancies, direct, control, applaud, explode them; and some­times mix and take their seats amongst them; domi­neering over them with a strange mixture of servile petulance and proud presumptuous authority. As they have inverted order in all things, the gallery is in the place of the house. This assembly, which overthrows kings and kingdoms, has not even the physiognomy and aspect of a grave legislative body—nec color imperii, nec frons erat ulla senatus. They have a power given to them, like that of the evil principle, to subvert and destroy, but none to con­struct, except such machines as may be fitted for further subversion and further destruction.—Ibid.


IN these meetings of all sorts, every counsel, in proportion as it is daring, and violent, and perfidious, is taken for the mark of superior genius. Huma­nity and compassion are ridiculed as the fruits of superstition and ignorance. Tenderness to indivi­duals is considered as treason to the public. Liberty is always to be estimated perfect as property is ren­dered insecure. Amidst assassination, massacre, and confiscation, perpetrated or meditated, they are forming plans for the good order of future society. Embracing in their arms the carcases of base crimi­nals, and promoting their relations on the title of their offences, they drive hundreds of virtuous per­sons to the same end, by forcing them to subsist by beggary or by crime.—Ibid.


THE faction is not local or territorial. It is a general evil. Where it least appears in action, it is still full of life. In its sleep it recruits its strength, and prepares its exertion; its spirit lies deep in the corruptions of our common nature. The social order which restrains it, feeds it. It exists in every coun­try in Europe; and among all orders of men in every country, who look up to France as to a common head. The centre is there. The circumference is the world of Europe, wherever the race of Europe may be settled. Every where else the faction is mi­litant; in France it is triumphant; in France is the bank of deposit, and the bank of circulation, of all the pernicious principles that are forming in every state. It will be a folly scarcely deserving of pity, and too mischievous for contempt, to think of re­straining it in any other country whilst it is predomi­nant there.—Regicide Peace.


THE politicians soon found that they could not do without the philosophers; and the philosophers soon made them sensible, that the destruction of religion was to supply them with means of conquest first at home, and then abroad. The philosophers were the active internal agitators, and supplied the spirit and principles; the second gave the general direction.—Sometimes the one predominated in the composition, sometimes the other. The only difference between them was in the necessity of concealing the general design for a time, and in dealing with foreign nations; the fanatics going straight forward and openly, the politicians by the surer mode of zig-zag. In the course of events, this, among other causes, produced fierce and bloody contentions between them; but at the bottom they thoroughly agreed in all the objects of ambition and irreligion, and substantially in all the means of promoting these ends.—Ibid.


YOU may call this France, if you please; but of the ancient France nothing remains but its dangerous and central geography, its iron frontier, its spirit of ambition, its audacity of enterprise, its perplexing intrigue. These, and these alone remain; and they remain heightened in their principle and augmented in their means. All the old correctives, whether of virtue or of weakness, which existed in the old monarchy, are gone. No single corrective is to be foung in the whole body of the new institutions.—How should such a thing be found there, when every thing has been chosen with care and selection to for­ward all those ambitious designs and dispositions, not to control them? The whole is a body of ways and means for the supply of dominion, without one heterogeneous particle in it.—Ibid.


WHEN I look to the other side of the water, I cannot help recollecting what Pyrrhus said on recon­noitring the Roman camp, ‘"These barbarians have nothing barbarous in their discipline."’ When I look, as I have pretty carefully looked, into the proceedings of the French king, I am sorry to say it, I see nothing of the character and genius of arbitrary finance; none of the bold frauds of bankrupt power; none of the wild struggles and plunges of despotism in distress; no lopping off from the capital of debt; no suspension of interest; no robbery under the name of loan; no raising the value, no debasing the substance of the coin. I see neither Louis the Four­teenth nor Louis the Fifteenth. On the contrary, I behold with astonishment, rising before me, by the very hands of arbitrary power, and in the very midst of war and confusion, a regular, methodical system of public credit; I behold a fabric laid on the na­tural and solid foundations of trust and confidence [Page 96] among men, and rising, by fair gradations, order over order, according to the just rules of symmetry and art. What a reverse of things! Principle, me­thod, regularity, economy, frugality, justice to in­dividuals, and care of the people, are the resources with which France makes war upon Great Britain. God avert the omen! But if we should see any genius in war and politics arise in France, to second what is done in the bureau!—I turn my eyes from the consequences.—Oecon. Reform.


THE body politic of France existed in the majesty of its throne; in the dignity of its nobility; in the honour of its gentry; in the sanctity of its clergy; in the reverence of its magistracy; in the weight and consideration due to its landed property; in the re­spect due to its moveable substance represented by the corporations of the kingdom in all countries. All these particular moleculae united, form the great mass of what is truly the body politic. They are so many deposits and receptacles of justice; because they can only exist by justice. Nation is a moral essence, not a geographical arrangement, or a denomination of the nomenclator. France, though out of her territorial possession, exists; because the sole possible claimant, I mean the proprietary, and the government to which the proprietary adheres, exists and claims. God forbid, that if you were expelled from your house by ruffians and assassins, that I should call the mate­rial walls, doors, and windows of —, the an­cient and honourable family of —. Am I to transfer to the intruders, who, not content to turn you out naked to the world, would rob you of your very name, all the esteem and respect I owe to you?—Reflections on the Revolution in France.

FRANCE. Republics of Algiers and France compared.

I KNOW something of the constitution and compo­sition of this very extraordinary republic. It has a constitution, I admit, similar to the present tumul­tuous military tyranny of France, by which an handful of obscure russians domineer over a fertile country and a brave people. For the composition, too, I admit, the Algerine community resembles that of France, being the very scum, scandal, disgrace, and pest of the Turkish Asia. The Grand Seignior, to disburthen the country, suffers the Dey to recruit, in his dominions, the corps of Janissaries, or Asaphs which form the Directory, or Council of Elders of the African Republic, one and indivisible. But notwithstanding this resemblance, which I allow, I never shall so far injure the Janissarian republic of Algiers, as to put it in comparison for every sort of crime, turpitude, and oppression, with the Jacobin republic of Paris. There is no question with me to which of the two I should chuse to be a neighbour or a subject. But situated as I am, I am in no danger of becoming to Algiers either the one or the other. It is not so in my relation to the atheistical fanatics of France. Have the gentlemen, who borrowed this happy parallel, no idea of the different conduct to be held with regard to the very same evil at an immense distance, and when it is at your door? when its power is enormous, as when it is comparatively as feeble as its distance is remote? and when there is a barrier of languages and usages, which prevents your being corrupted through certain old correspondences and habitudes, which cannot for a long time be so wholly taken away, as not to make many of your people susceptible of contagion from horrible novelties that are introduced into every thing else? I can con­template, without horror, a royal or a national tyger [Page 98] on the borders of Pegu. I can look at him, with an easy curiosity, as prisoner within bars in the mena­gerie of the Tower. But if, by Habeas Corpus, or otherwise, he was to come into the lobby of the House of Commons, whilst your door was open, any of you would be more stout than wise, who would not gladly make his escape out of the back windows. This ambassador from Bengal would disperse you sooner than a dissolution by Royal prerogative. I certainly should dread more from a wild cat in my bed-chamber, than from all the lions that roar in the deserts behind Algiers. But in this parallel it is the cat that is at a distance, and the lions and tygers that are in our anti-chambers and our lobbies. Algiers is not near; Algiers is not powerful; Algiers is not our neighbour; Algiers is not infectious. Algiers, what­ever it may be, is not an old creation; and we have good data to calculate all the mischief to be expected from it. When I find Algiers transferred to Calais, I will tell you what I think of that point. In the mean time, the case quoted from the Algerine reports will not apply as authority. We shall put it out of court; and so far as that goes, let the counsel for the Jacobin peace take nothing by their motion.—Regi­cide Peace.

FRANCE. President of the French Directory.

A STRANGE uncouth thing, a theatrical figure of the opera, his head shaded with three coloured plumes, his body fantastically habited, strutted from the back scenes, and after a short speech, in the mock-heroic falsetto of stupid tragedy, delivered the gentleman who came to make the representation into the custody of a guard, with directions not to lose sight of him for a moment; and then ordered him to be sent from Paris in two hours.—Ibid.


WHILST courts of justice were thrust out by re­volutionary tribunals, and silent churches were only the funeral monuments of departed religion, no fewer than ten theatres were kept open at public expence. At one time I have reckoned fourteen of their adver­tisements of public diversion. Among the gaunt, haggard forms of famine and nakedness, amidst the yells of murder, the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair, the song, the dance, the mimic scene, the buffoon laughter, went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace. I have it from good autho­rity, that under the scaffold of judicial murder, and the gaping planks that poured down blood on the spectators, the space was hired out for a shew of dancing dogs. I think, without conceit, we made the very same remark on reading some of their pieces, which being written for other purposes, let us into a view of their social life.—Ibid.


IN describing the nuisance erected by so pestilen­tial a manufactory, by constructing so infamous a brothel, by digging a night-cellar for such thieves, murderers, and housebreakers, as never infested the world, I am so far from aggravating, that I have fallen infinitely short of the evil. No man who has attended to the particulars of what has been done in France, and combined them with the principles there asserted, can possibly doubt it. When I compare with this great cause of nations, the trifling points of honour, the still more contemptible points of interest, the light ceremonies, the undefinable punctilios, the disputes about precedency, the lowering or the hoist­ing of a sail, the dealing in a hundred or two of wild cat-skins on the other side of the globe, which have [Page 100] often kindled up the flames of war between nations, I stand astonished at those persons who do not feel a resentment, not more natural than politic, at the atrocious insults that this monstrous compound offers to the dignity of every nation, and who are not alarmed with what it threatens to their safety.—


FRANCE. Previous to the Revolution.

WHEN I consider the face of the kingdom of France; the multitude and opulence of her cities; the useful magnificence of her spacious high roads and bridges; the opportunity of her artificial canals and navigations opening the conveniences of mari­time communication through a solid continent of so immense an extent; when I turn my eyes to the stupendous works of her ports and harbours, and to her whole naval apparatus, whether for war or trade; when I bring before my view the number of her for­tifications, constructed with so bold and masterly a skill, and made and maintained at so prodigious a charge, presenting an armed front and impenetrable barrier to her enemies upon every side; when I re­collect how very small a part of that extensive region is without cultivation, and to what complete perfec­tion the culture of many of the best productions of the earth have been brought in France; when I re­flect on the excellence of her manufactures and fabrics, second to none but ours, and in some par­ticulars not second; when I contemplate the grand foundations of charity, public and private; when I survey the state of all the arts that beautify and polish life; when I reckon the men she has bred for ex­tending her same in war, her able statesmen, the mul­titude of her profound lawyers and theologians, her philosophers, her critics, her historians and antiqua­ries, her poets, and her orators, sacred and profane, I behold in all this something which awes and com­mands [Page 101] the imagination, which checks the mind on the brink of precipitate and indiscriminate censure, and which demands that we should very seriously examine what and how great are the latent vices that could authorise us at once to level so spacious a fabric with the ground.—



THE objects of a financier are, then, to secure an ample revenue; to impose it with judgment and equality; to employ it oeconomically; and when ne­cessity obliges him to make use of credit, to secure its foundations in that instance, and for ever, by the clearness and candour of his proceedings, the exact­ness of his calculations, and the solidity of his funds. On these heads we may take a short and distinct view of the merits and abilities of those in the National Assembly, who have taken to themselves the manage­ment of this arduous concern. Far from any increase of revenue in their hands, I find, by a report of M. Vernier, from the Committee of Finances, of the second of August last, that the amount of the national revenue, as compared with its produce before the revolution, was diminished by the sum of two hundred millions, or eight millions sterling of the annual income, considerably more than one-third of the whole.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


A politic caution, a guarded circumspection, a moral rather than a complexional timidity, were among the ruling principles of our forefathers in their most decided conduct. Not being illuminated with the light of which the gentlemen of France tell us they have got so abundant a share, they acted under a strong impression of the ignorance and fallibility of mankind. He that had made them thus fallible, re­warded [Page 102] them for having in their conduct attended to their nature. Let us imitate their caution, if we wish to deserve their fortune, or to retain their be­quests. Let us add, if we please, but let us preserve what they have left; and, standing on the firm ground of the British constitution, let us be satisfied to ad­mire rather than attempt to follow in their desperate flights the aëronauts of France.—Ibid.


OF all things, wisdom is the most terrified with epidemical fanaticism, because, of all enemies it is that against which she is the least able to furnish any kind of resource.—Ibid.


CIVIL freedom is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade us, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just reasoning that can be upon it, is of so coarse a texture, as perfectly to suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy, and of those who are to defend it. Far from any resemblance to those propositions in geometry and metaphysics, which admit no medium, but must be true or false in all their latitude; social and civil freedom, like all other things in common life, are variously mixed and modified, enjoyed in very different degrees, and shaped into an infinite diversity of forms, according to the temper and cir­cumstances of every community. The extreme of liberty (which is its abstract perfection, but its real fault) obtains no where, nor ought to obtain any where. Because extremes, as we all know, in every point which relates either to our duties or satisfactions in life, are destructive both to virtue and enjoyment. Liberty too must be limited in order to be possessed. [Page 103] The degree of restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely. But it ought to be the constant aim of every wise public counsel, to find out by cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little, not how much of this restraint, the com­munity can subsist.—Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.


WHILST freedom is true to itself, every thing becomes subject to it; and its very adversaries are an instrument in its hands.—Speech at Bristol, previous to the Election.


FRUGALITY is founded on the principle, that all riches have limits.—Oeconomical Reform.


DOES not become a slighter distemper on account of the number of those who may be infected with it.—Ibid.


OUR constitution is not made for great, general, and proscriptive exclusions; sooner or later, it will destroy them, or they will destroy the constitution. In our constitution, there has always been a difference made, a Franchise and an Office, and between the capacity for the one and for the other. Franchises were supposed to belong to the subject, as a subject, and not as a member of the governing part of the State. The policy of government has considered them as things very different; for whilst parliament excluded by the test acts, (and for a while these test acts were not a dead letter, as now they are in England) pro­testant [Page 104] dissenters from all civil and military employ­ments, they never touched their right of voting for members of Parliament, or sitting in either House; a point, I state, not as approving or condemning, with regard to them, the measure of exclusion from employments, but to prove that the distinction has been admitted in legislature, as, in truth, it is founded in reason.—Letter to Sir H. Langrishe.


GAMING is a principle inherent in human nature. It belongs to us all.—Oeconomical Reform.


THE common treasury to which we must all be taxed.—Ibid.


IN doing good, we are generally cold, and languid and sluggish; and of all things afraid of being too much in the right. But the works of malice and injustice are quite in another style. They are finished with a bold masterly hand; touched as they are with the spirit of those vehement passions that call forth all our energies whenever we oppress and persecute.—Speech at Bristol, previous to the Election.


GOVERNMENT is deeply interested in every thing which, even through the medium of some temporary uneasiness, may tend finally to compose the minds of the subject, and to conciliate their affections. I have nothing to do here with the abstract value of the voice of the people. But as long as reputation, the most precious possession of every individual, and as long [Page 105] as opinion, the great support of the state, depend entirely upon that voice, it can never be considered as a thing of little consequence either to individuals or to government. Nations are not primarily ruled by laws; less by violence. Whatever original energy may be supposed either in force or regulation; the operation of both is, in truth, merely instrumental. Nations are governed by the same methods, and on the same principles, by which an individual without authority is often able to govern those who are his equals or his superiors; by a knowledge of their temper, and by a judicious management of it; I mean, when public affairs are steadily and quietly conducted; not when government is nothing but a continued scuffle between the magistrate and the multitude; in which sometimes the one and sometimes the other is uppermost; in which they alternately yield and prevail, in a series of contemptible victories, and scandalous submissions. The temper of the people amongst whom he presides ought therefore to be the first study of a statesman.—

Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents.

GOVERNMENT. Founded in Justice.

BUT let government in what form it may be, comprehend the whole in its justice, and restrain the suspicions by its vigilance; let it keep watch and ward; let it discover by its sagacity, and punish by its firmness, all delinquency against its power, when­ever delinquency exists in the overt acts, and then it will be as safe as ever God and nature intended it should be.—Speech at Bristol, previous to the Election.


ALL government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. We balance [Page 106] inconveniencies; we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others; and, we chuse rather to be happy citizens, than subtle disputants. As we must give away some natural liberty, to enjoy civil advantages; so we must sacrifice some civil liberties, for the advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great empire. But in all fair dealings, the thing bought, must bear some proportion to the purchase paid. None will barter away the immediate jewel of his soul. Though a great [...]ouse is apt to make slaves haughty, yet it is purchasing a part of the artificial importance of a great empire too dear, to pay for it all essential rights, and all the intrinsic dignity of human nature. None of us who would not risque his life, rather than fall under a government purely arbitrary. But, al­though there are some amongst us who think our constitution wants many improvements, to make it a complete system of liberty, perhaps none who are of that opinion, would think it right to aim at such im­provement, by disturbing his country, and risquing every thing that is dear to him. In every arduous enterprize, we consider what we are to lose, as well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of liberty every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain attempt to make it more. These are the cords of man. Man acts from adequate motives relative to his interest; and not on metaphysical spe­culations. Aristotle, the great master of reasoning, cautions us, and with great weight and propriety, against this species of delusive geometrical accuracy in moral arguments, as the most fallacious of all sophistry.—Speech on Conciliation with America.

GRIEVANCES. Necessity of removing the first Cause of them.

I AM quite clear, that if we do not go to the very origin and first ruling cause of grievances, we do [Page 107] nothing. What does it signify to turn abuses out of one door, if we are to let them in at another? What does it signify to promote oeconomy upon a measure, and to suffer it to be subverted in the principle?—

Oeconomical Reform.


IT is the nature of grief to keep its object perpe­tually in its eye, to present it in its most pleasurable views, to repeat all the circumstances that attend it, even to the last minuteness; to go back to every particular enjoyment, to dwell upon each, and to find a thousand new perfections in all, that were not sufficiently understood before; in grief, the pleasure is still uppermost; and the affliction we suffer has no resemblance to absolute pain, which is always odious, and which we endeavour to shake off as soon as possible. The Odyssey of Homer, which abounds with so many natural and affecting images, has none more striking than those which Menelaus raises of the calamitous fate of his friends, and his own manner of feeling it. He owns, indeed, that he often gives himself some intermission from such melancholy re­flections; but he observes, too, that melancholy as they are, they give him pleasure.

Still in short intervals of pleasing woe,
Regardful of the friendly dues I owe,
I to the glorious dead, for ever dear,
Indulge the tribute of a grateful tear.
HOM. Od. iv.

Sublime and Beautiful.


WE do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary, without care it may be [Page 108] used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our in­struction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine, fur­nishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in church and state, and supplying the means of keeping alive, or reviving dissentions and animosities, and adding fuel to civil fury. History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by price, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same

— Troublous storms that toss
The private state, and render life unsweet.

These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good. You would not secure men from tyranny and sedition, by rooting out of the mind the principles to which these frau­dulent pretexts apply? If you did, you would root out every thing that is valuable in the human breast. As these are the pretexts, so the ordinary actors and instruments in great public evils are kings, priests, magistrates, senates, parliaments, national assemblies, judges, and captains. You would not cure the evil by resolving, that there should be no more monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the gospel; no inter­preters of law; no general officers; no public coun­cils. You might change the names. The things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of power must always exist in the community, in some hands, and under some appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occa­sional organs by which they act, and the transitory [Page 109] modes in which they appear. Otherwise you will be wise historically, a fool in practice. Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts and the same modes of mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive. Whilst you are discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a new body. The spirit transmigrates; and, far from losing its principle of life by the change of its ap­pearance, it is renovated in its new organs with the fresh vigour of a juvenile activity. It walks abroad; it continues its ravages; whilst you are gibbeting the carcass, or demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourself with ghosts and apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with all those, who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under colour of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are au­thorizing and feeding the same odious vices in diffe­rent factions, and perhaps in worse.

Your citizens of Paris formerly had lent themselves as the ready instruments to slaughter the followers of Calvin, at the infamous massacre of St. Bartholomew. What should we say to those who could think of retaliating on the Parisians of this day the abominations and horrors of that time? They are indeed brought to abhor that massacre. Ferocious as they are, it is not difficult to make them dislike it; because the poli­ticians and fashionable teachers have no interest in giving their passions exactly the same direction. Still however they find it their interest to keep the same savage dispositions alive. It was but the other day that they caused this very massacre to be acted on the stage for the diversion of the descendants of those who committed it. In this tragic farce they produced the cardinal of Lorraine in his robes of function, ordering general slaughter. Was this spectacle in­tended to make the Parisians abhor persecution, and loath the effusion of blood?—No, it was to teach [Page 110] them to persecute their own pastors; it was to excite them, by raising a disgust and horror of their clergy, to an alacrity in hunting down to destruction an order, which, if it ought to exist at all, ought to exist not only in safety, but in reverence: It was to stimulate their cannibal appetites (which one would think had been gorged sufficiently) by variety and seasoning; and to quicken them to an alertness in new murders and massacres, if it should suit the purpose of the Guises of the day. An assembly, in which fat a multitude of priests and prelates, was obliged to suffer this indignity at its door. The author was not sent to the gallies, nor the players to the house of correction. Not long after this exhi­bition, those players came forward to the assembly to claim the rites of that very religion which they had dared to expose, and to shew their prostituted faces in the senate, whilst the archbishop of Paris, whose function was known to his people only by his prayers and benedictions, and his wealth only by his alms, is forced to abandon his house, and to fly from his flock (as from ravenous wolves) because, truly, in the sixteenth century, the cardinal of Lorraine was a rebel and a murderer.

Such is the effect of the perversion of history, by those, who, for the same nefarious purposes, have perverted every other part of learning. But those who will stand upon that elevation of reason, which places centuries under our eye, and brings things to the true point of comparison, which obscures little names, and effaces the colours of little parties, and to which nothing can ascend but the spirit and moral quality of human actions, will say to the teachers of the Palais Royal,—the cardinal of Lor­raine was the murderer of the sixteenth century, you have the glory of being the murderers in the eighteenth; and this is the only difference between you. But history, in the nineteenth century, better understood, and better employed, will, I trust, teach a civilized [Page 111] posterity to abhor the misdeeds of both these barba­rous ages.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.


HUMANITY cannot be degraded by humiliation. It is it's very character to submit to such things. There is a consangunity between benevolence and humility. They are virtues of the same stock.—Regicide Peace.


THE household troops form an army, who will be ready to mutiny for want of pay, and whose mutiny will be really dreadful to a commander in chief. A rebellion of the thirteen lords of the bedchamber would be far more terrible to a minister, and would probably affect his power more to the quick, than a revolt of thirteen colonies. What an uproar such an event would create at court! What petitions, and committees, and associations, would it not produce! Bless me! what a clattering of white sticks and yellow sticks would be about his head—what a storm of gold keys would fly about the ears of the minister—what a shower of Georges, and Thistles, and medals, and collars of S. S. would assail him at his first en­trance into the anti-chamber, after an insolvent Christmas quarter. A tumult which could not be appeased by all the harmony of the New Year's Ode. Rebellion it is certain there would be; and rebellion may not now indeed be so critical an event to those who engage in it, since its price is so correctly ascer­tained at just a thousand pound.—Oecon. Reform.


BESIDES the ideas, with their annexed pains and pleasures, which are presented by the sense; the [Page 112] mind of man possesses a sort of creative power of its own; either in representing at pleasure the images of things in the order and manner in which they were received by the senses, or in combining those images in a new manner, and according to a different order. This power is called imagination; and to this belongs whatever is called wit, fancy, invention, and the like. But it must be observed, that the power of the imagination is incapable of producing any thing abso­lutely new; it can only vary the disposition of those ideas which it has received from the senses. Now the imagination is the most extensive province of pleasure and pain, as it is the region of our fears and our hopes, and of all our passions that are connected with them; and whatever is calculated to affect the imagination with these commanding ideas, by force of any original natural impression, must have the same power pretty equally over all men. For since the imagination is only the representation of the senses, it can only be pleased or displeased with the images, from the same principle on which the sense is pleased or displeased with the realities; and conse­quently there must be just as close an agreement in the imaginations as in the senses of men. A little attention will convince us that this must of necessity be the case.

But in the imagination, besides the pain or pleasure arising from the properties of the natural object, a pleasure is perceived from the resemblance, which the imitation has to the original. The imagination, I conceive, can have no pleasure but what revolts from one or the other of these causes; and these causes operate pretty uniformly upon all men, because they operate by principles of nature, and are not derived from any particular habits or advantages.—Sublime and Beautiful.

INDIA COMPANY. Conduct to the Polygars, or native Princes of the Car­natic. (See CARNATIC.)

IT is only to complete the view I proposed of the conduct of the company, with regard to the depen­dent provinces, that I shall say any thing at all of the Carnatic, which is the scene, if possible, of greater disorder than the northern provinces. Perhaps it were better to say of this center and metropolis of abuse, whence all the rest in India and in England diverge; from whence they are sed and methodized, what was said of Carthage—de Carthagine satius est silere quam parum dicere. This country, in all its denominations, is about 46,000 square miles. It may be affirmed universally, that not one person of substance or property, landed, commercial, or mo­nied, excepting two or three bankers, who are neces­sary deposits and distributors of the general spoil, is left in all that region. In that country the moisture, the bounty of Heaven, is given but at a certain season. Before the aera of our influence, the industry of man carefully husbanded that gift of God. The Gentûs preserved, with a provident and religious care, the precious deposit of the periodical rain in reservoirs, many of them works of royal grandeur; and from these, as occasion demanded, they fructified the whole country. To maintain these reservoirs, and to keep up an annual advance to the cultivators, for seed and cattle, formed a principal object of the piety and policy of the priests and rulers of the Gentû religion.

This object required a command of money; and there was no pollam, or castle, which in the happy days of the Carnatic was without some hoard of trea­sure, by which the governors were enabled to combat with the irregularity of the seasons, and to resist or to buy off the invasion of an enemy. In all the cities were multitudes of merchants and bankers, for all occasions of monied assistance; and on the other hand, the native princes were in condition to obtain [Page 114] credit from them. The manufacturer was paid by the return of commodities, or by imported money, and not, as at present, in the taxes that had been originally exacted from his industry. In aid of casual distress, the country was full of choultries, which were inns and hospitals, where the traveller and the poor were relieved. All ranks of people had their place in the public concern, and their share in the common stock and common prosperity; but the chartered rights of men, and the right which it was thought proper to set up in the Nabob of Arcot, introduced a new system. It was their policy to consider hoards of money as crimes; to regard mo­derate rents as frauds on the sovereign; and to view, in the lesser princes, any claim of exemption from more than settled tribute, as an act of rebellion. Accordingly all the castles were, one after the other, plundered and destroyed. The native princes were expelled; the hospitals fell to ruin; the reservoirs of water went to decay; the merchants, bankers, and manufacturers disappeared; and sterility, indigence, and depopulation, overspread the face of these once flourishing provinces.

The company was very early sensible of these mischiefs, and of their true cause. They gave precise orders, ‘"that the native princes, called polygars, should not be extirpated.—That the rebellion [so they choose to call it] of the polygars, may (they fear) with too much justice, be attributed to the mal­administration of the Nabob's collectors." That "they observe with concern, that their troops have been put to disagreeable services."’ They might have used a stronger expression without impropriety. But they make amends in another place. Speaking of the polygars, the directors say, that ‘"it was re­pugnant to humanity to force them to such dreadful extremeties as they underwent."’ That some examples of severity might be necessary, ‘"when they fell into the Nabob's hands,"’ and not by the destruction of the [Page 115] country. ‘"That they fear his government is none of the mildest; and that there is great oppression in collecting his revenues."’ They state, that the wars in which he has involved the Carnatic, had been a cause of its distresses. ‘"That these distresses have been certainly great; but those by the Nabob's op­pressions we believe to be greater than all."’ Pray, Sir, attend to the reason for their opinion that the government of this their instrument is more calamitous to the country than the ravages of war.—Because, say they, his oppressions are ‘"without intermission.—The others are temporary; by all which oppressions we believe the Nabob has great wealth in store."’ From this store neither he nor they could derive any advantage whatsoever, upon the invasion of Hyder Ali in the hour of their greatest calamity and dismay.

It is now proper to compare these declarations with the company's conduct. The principal reason which they assigned against the extirpation of the polygars was, that the weavers were protected in their for­tresses. They might have added, that the company itself, which slung them to death, had been warmed in the bosom of these unfortunate princes: for, on the taking of Madras by the French, it was in their hospitable pollams, that most of the inhabitants found refuge and protection. But, notwithstanding all these orders, reasons, and declarations, they at length gave an indirect sanction, and permitted the use of a very direct and irresistible force, to measures which they had, over and over again, declared to be false policy, cruel, inhuman, and oppressive. Hav­ing, however, forgot all attention to the princes and the people, they remembered that they had some sort of interest in the trade of the country; and it is matter of curiosity to observe the protection which they afforded to this their natural object.

Full of anxious cares on this head, they direct, ‘"that in reducing the polygars they (their servants) were to be cautious, not to deprive the weavers and [Page 116] manufacturers of the protection they often met with in the strong holds of the polygar countries;"’—and they write to their instrument, the Nabob of Arcot, concerning these poor people in a most pathetic strain. ‘"We entreat your excellency (say they) in particular, to make the manufacturers the object of your tenderest care; particularly when you root out the polygars, you do not deprive the weavers of the protection they enjoyed under them."’ When they root out the protectors in favour of the oppressor, they shew themselves religiously cautious of the rights of the protected. When they extirpate the shepherd and the shepherd's dogs, they piously re­commend the helpless flock to the mercy, and even to the tenderest care, of the wolf.—Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.


BENGAL, and the provinces that are united to it, are larger than the kingdom of France; and once contained, as France does contain, a great and inde­pendent landed interest, composed of princes, of great lords, of a numerous nobility and gentry, of freeholders, of lower tenants, of religious commu­nities, and public foundations. So early as 1769, the company's servants perceived the decay into which these provinces had fallen under English admi­nistration, and they made a strong representation upon this decay, and what they apprehended to be the causes of it. Soon after this representation, Mr. Hastings became president of Bengal. Instead of administering a remedy to this melancholy disorder, upon the heels of a dreadful famine, in the year 1772, the succour which the new president and the council lent to this afflicted nation was—shall I be believed in relating it?—the landed interest of a whole kingdom, of a kingdom to be compared to France, was set up to public auction! They set up [Page 117] (Mr. Hastings set up) the whole nobility, gentry, and freeholders, to the highest bidder. No preference was given to the ancient proprietors. They must bid against every usurer, every temporary adventurer, every jobber and schemer, every servant of every European, or they were obliged to content them­selves, in lieu of their extensive domains, with their house, and such a pension as the state-auctioneers thought fit to assign. In this general calamity, several of the first nobility thought (and in all appearance justly) that they had better submit to the necessity of this pension, than continue, under the name of ze­mindars, the objects and instruments of a system, by which they ruined their tenants, and were ruined themselves. Another reform has since come upon the back of the first; and a pension having been assigned to these unhappy persons, in lieu of their hereditary lands, a new scheme of oeconomy has taken place, and deprived them of that pension.

The menial servants of Englishmen, persons (to use the emphatical phrase of a ruined and patient eastern chief) ‘"whose fathers they would not have set with the dogs of their flock,"’ entered into their patri­monial lands. Mr. Hastings's banian was, after this auction, sound possessed of territories yielding a rent of one hundred and forty thousand pounds a year.

Such an universal proscription, upon any pretence, has few examples. Such a proscription, without even a pretence of delinquency, has none. It stands by itself. It stands as a monument to astonish the imagi­nation, to confound the reason of mankind. I con­fess to you, when I first came to know this business in its true nature and extent, my surprise did a little suspend my indignation. I was in a manner stupi­fied by the desperate boldness of a few obscure young men, who having obtained, by ways which they could not comprehend, a power of which they saw neither the purposes nor the limits, tossed about, subverted, and tore to pieces, as if it were in the [Page 118] gambols of a boyish unluckiness and malice, the most established rights, and the most ancient and most re­vered institutions, of ages and nations. Sir, I will not now trouble you with any detail with regard to what they have since done with these same lands and land-holders; only to inform you, that nothing has been suffered to settle for two seasons together upon any basis; and that the levity and inconstancy of these mock legislators were not the least afflicting parts of the oppressions suffered under their usurpation; nor will any thing give stability to the property of the natives, but an administration in England at once protecting and stable. The country sustains, almost every year, the miseries of a revolution. At present, all is uncertainty, misery, and confusion. There is to be found through these vast regions no longer one landed man, who is a resource for voluntary aid, or an object for particular rapine. Some of them were, not long since, great princes; they possessed treasures, they levied armies. There was a zemindar in Bengal (I forget his name) that, on the threat of an invasion, supplied the soubah of these provinces with the loan of a million sterling. The family this day wants credit for a breakfast at the bazar.—Ibid.


MADRAS, with its dependencies, is the second (but with a long interval, the second) member of the British empire in the east. The trade of that city, and of the adjacent territory, was, not very long ago, among the most flourishing in Asia. But since the establishment of the British power, it has wasted away under an uniform gradual decline; insomuch that in the year 1779 not one merchant of eminence was to be found in the whole country*. During this period of decay, about six hundred thousand sterling pounds [Page 119] a year have been drawn off by English gentlemen on their private account, by the way of China alone. If we add four hundred thousand, as probably re­mitted through other channels, and in other mediums, that is, in jewels, gold, and silver directly brought to Europe, and in bills upon the British and foreign companies, you will scarcely think the matter over­rated. If we fix the commencement of this extrac­tion of money from the Carnatic at a period no ear­lier than the year 1760, and close it in the year 1780, it probably will not amount to a great deal less than twenty millions of money.

During the deep silent flow of this steady stream of wealth, which set from India into Europe, it gene­rally passed on with no adequate observation; but happening at some periods to meet rifts of rocks that checked its course, it grew more noisy, and attracted more notice. The pecuniary discussions caused by an accumulation of part of the fortunes of their ser­vants in a debt from the Nabob of Arcot, was the first thing which very particularly called for, and long engaged, the attention of the court of directors. This debt amounted to eight hundred and eighty thousand pounds sterling, and was claimed, for the greater part, by English gentlemen, residing at Ma­dras. This grand capital, settled at length by order, at ten per cent. afforded an annuity of eighty-eight thousand pounds*.

Whilst the directors were digesting their astonish­ment at this information, a memorial was presented to them from three gentlemen, informing them that their friends had lent likewise, to merchants of Canton in China, a sum of not more than one million sterling. In this memorial they called upon the company for their assistance and interposition with the Chinese go­vernment for the recovery of the debt. This sum [Page 120] lent to Chinese merchants, was at 24 per cent. which would yield, if paid, an annuity of two hundred and forty thousand pounds*.

Perplexed as the directors were with these demands, you may conceive, Sir, that they did not find them­selves very much disembarrassed, by being made ac­quainted that they must again exert their influence for a new reserve of the happy parsimony of their servants, collected into a second debt from the Nabob of Arcot, amounting to two millions four hundred thousand pounds, settled at an interest of 12 per cent. This is known by the name of the Consolidation of 1777, as the former of the nabob's debts was by the title of the Consolidation of 1767. To this was added, in a separate parcel, a little reserve called the Cavalry debt, of one hundred and sixty thousand pounds, at the same interest. The whole of these four capitals, amounting to four millions four hun­dred and forty thousand pounds, produced at their several rates, annuities amounting to six hundred and and twenty-three thousand pounds a year; a good deal more than one third of the clear land-tax of England, at four shillings in the pound; a good deal more than double the whole annual dividend of the East India company, the nominal masters to the pro­prietors in these funds. Of this interest, three hun­dred and eighty-three thousand two hundred pounds a year stood chargeable on the public revenues of the Carnatic.—Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts.


SIR, at this moment, it will not be necessary to consider the various operations which the capital and interest of this debt have successively undergone. I shall speak to these operations when I come particu­larly to answer the right honourable gentleman (Mr. [Page 121] Dundas) on each of the heads, as he has thought proper to divide them. But this was the exact view in which these debts first appeared to the court of directors, and to the world. It varied afterwards. But it never appeared in any other than a most ques­tionable shape. When this gigantic phantom of debt first appeared before a young minister, (Mr. Pitt) it naturally would have justified some degree of doubt and apprehension. Such a prodigy would have filled any common man with superstitious fears. He would exorcise that shapeless, nameless form, and by every thing sacred would have adjured it to tell by what means a small number of slight individuals, of no consequence or situation, possessed of no lucrative offices, without the command of armies, or the known administration of revenues, without profession of any kind, without any sort of trade sufficient to employ a pedlar, could have, in a few years (as to some even in a few months) have amassed treasures equal to the revenues of a respectable kingdom? Was it not enough to put these gentlemen, in the no­viciate of their administration, on their guard, and to call upon them for a strict enquiry (if not to justify them in a reprobation of those demands without any enquiry at all) that when all England, Scotland, and Ireland, had for years been witness to the immense sums laid out by the servants of the company in stocks of all denominations, in the purchase of lands, in the buying and building of houses, in the securing quiet seats in parliament, or in the tumultuous riot of contested elections, in wandering throughout the whole range of those variegated modes of inventive prodigality; which sometimes have excited our won­der, sometimes roused our indignation; that after all India was four millions still in debt to them? India in debt to them! For what? Every debt for which an equivalent of some kind or other is not given, is on the face of it a fraud. What is the equivalent they have given? What equivalent had they to give? [Page 122] What are the articles of commerce, or the branches of manufacture which those gentlemen have carried hence to enrich India? What are the sciences they b [...]ed out to enlighten it? What are the arts they introduced to chear and to adorn it? What are the religious, what the moral institutions they have taught among that people as a guide to life, or as a consola­tion when life is to be no more, that there is an eternal debt, a debt ‘"still paying, still to owe,"’ which must be bound on the present generation in India, and entailed on their mortgaged posterity for ever? A debt of millions, in favour of a set of men, whose names, with few exceptions, are either buried in the obscurity of their origin and talents, or dragged into light by the enormity of their crimes?

In my opinion the courage of the minister was the most wonderful part of the transaction, especially as he must have read, or rather the right honourable gentleman says, he has read for him, whole volumes upon the subject. The volumes, by the way, are not by one tenth part so numerous as the right ho­nourable gentleman has thought proper to pretend, in order to frighten you from enquiry; but in these vo­lumes, such as they are, the minister must have found a full authority for a suspicion (at the very least) of every thing relative to the great fortunes made at Madras. What is that authority? Why no other than the standing authority for all the claims which the ministry has thought fit to provide for—the grand debtor—the nabob of Arcot himself. Hear that prince, in the letter written to the court of directors, at the precise period, whilst the main body of these debts were contracting. In this letter he states him­self to be, what undoubtedly he is, a most compe­tent witness to this point. After speaking of the war with Hyder Ali in 1768 and 1769, and of other measures which he censures (whether right or wrong it signifies nothing) and into which he says he had been led by the company's servants; he proceeds in this [Page 123] manner— ‘"If all these things were against the real interests of the company, they are ten thousand times more against mine, and against the prosperity of my country, and the happiness of my people; for your interests and mine are the same. What were they owing to then? to the private views of a few individuals, who have enriched themselves at the expence of your influence, and of my country; for your servants HAVE NO TRADE IN THIS COUNTRY; neither do you pay them high wages; yet in a few years they return to England, with many lacks of pogodas. How can you or I account for such immense fortunes, acquired in so short a time, without any visible means of getting them?"’

When he asked this question, which involves its answer, it is extraordinary that curiosity did not prompt the chancellor of the exchequer to that en­quiry which might come in vain recommended to him by his own act of parliament. Does not the nabob of Arcot tell us in so many words, that there was no fair way of making the enormous sums sent by the company's servants to England? And do you imagine that there was or could be more honesty and good faith in the demands, for what remained behind in India? Of what nature were the transactions with himself? If you follow the train of his information you must see, that if these great sums were at all lent, it was not property, but spoil that was lent; if not lent, the transaction was not a contract, but a fraud. Either way, if light enough could not be furnished to au­thorise a full condemnation of these demands, they ought to have been left to the parties who best knew and understood each others proceedings. It was not necessary that the authority of government should interpose in favour of claims, whose very foundation was a defiance of that authority, and whose object and end was its entire subversion.

It may be said that this letter was written by the nabob of Arcot in a moody humour, under the in­fluence [Page 124] of some chagrin. Certainly it was; but it is in such humours that truth comes out. And when he tells you from his own knowledge, what every one must presume, from the extreme probability of the thing, whether he told it or not, one such testimony is worth a thousand that contradict that probability, when the parties have a better understanding with each other, and when they have a point to carry, that may unite them in a common deceit.

If this body of private claims of debt, real or devised, were a question, as it is falsely pretended, between the nabob of Arcot as debtor, and Paul Benfield and his associates as creditors, I am sure I should give myself but little trouble about it. If the hoards of oppression were the fund for satisfying the claims of bribery and peculation, who would wish to interfere between such litigants? If the demands were confined to what might be drawn from the treasures which the company's records uniformly assert that the nabob is in possession of; or if he had mines of gold or silver, or diamonds (as we know that he has none) these gentlemen might break open his hoards, or dig in his mines, without any disturbance from me. But the gentlemen on the other side of the house know as well as I do, and they dare not contradict me, that the nabob of Arcot and his creditors are not adver­saries, but collusive parties, and that the whole trans­action is under a false colour, and false names. The litigation is not, nor ever has been, between their rapacity and his hoarded riches. No; it is between him and them combining and confederating on one side, and the public revenues, and the miserable inhabitants of a ruined country, on the other. These are the r [...]l plaintiffs and the real defendants in the suit. Refusing a shilling from his hoards for the satis­faction of any demand, the nabob of Arcot is always ready, nay, he earnestly, and with eagerness and passion, contends for delivering up to these pretended creditors his territory and his subjects. It is therefore [Page 125] not from treasuries and mines, but from the food of your unpaid armies, from the blood withheld from the veins, and whipt out of the backs of the most miserable of men, that we are to pamper extor­tion, usury, and peculation, under the false names of debtors and creditors of state.—Ibid.


THE invariable course of the company's policy is this: Either they set up some prince too odious to maintain himself without the necessity of their assist­ance, or they soon render him odious, by making him the instrument of their government. In that case troops are bountifully sent to him to maintain his authority. That he should have no want of assist­ance, a civil gentleman, called a resident, is kept at his court, who, under pretence of providing duly for the pay of these troops, gets assignments on the revenue into his hands. Under his provident ma­nagement, debts soon accumulate; new assignments are made for these debts; until, step by step, the whole revenue, and with it the whole power of the country, is delivered into his hands. The military do not behold without a virtuous emulation the mo­derate gains of the civil department. They feel that, in a country driven to habitual rebellion by the civil government, the military is necessary; and they will not permit their services to go unrewarded. Tracts of country are delivered over to their discretion. Then it is found proper to convert their commanding officers into farmers of revenue. Thus, between the well paid civil, and well rewarded military establish­ment, the situation of the natives may be easily con­jectured. The authority of the regular and lawful government is every where and in every point ex­tinguished. Disorders and violences arise; they are repressed by other disorders and other violences. Wherever the collectors of the revenue, and the [Page 126] farming colonels and majors move, ruin is about them, rebellion before and behind them. The peo­ple in crowds fly out of the country; and the frontier is guarded by lines of troops, not to exclude an enemy, but to prevent the escape of the inhabitants.—Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.

INDIA. Fate of the Natives of India.

WORSE, far worse, has been the fate of the poor creatures, the natives of India, whom the hypocrisy of the company has betrayed into complaint of op­pression, and discovery of peculation. The first woman in Bengal, the ranni of Rajeshahi, the ranni of Burdwan, the ranni of Amboa, by their weak and thoughtless trust in the company's honour and protection, are utterly ruined: the first of these wo­men, a person of princely rank, and once of cor­respondent fortune, who paid above two hundred thousand a year quit-rent to the state, is, according to very credible information, so completely beggared as to stand in need of the relief of alms. Mahomed Reza Khân, the second Mussulman in Bengal, for having been distinguished by the ill-omened honour of the countenance and protection of the court of directors, was, without the pretence of any enquiry whatsoever into his conduct, stripped of all his em­ployments, and reduced to the lowest condition. His ancient rival for power, the rajah Nundcomar was, by an insult on every thing which India holds respectable and sacred, hanged in the face of all his nation, by the judges you sent to protect that peo­ple; hanged for a pretended crime, upon an ex post facto British act of parliament, in the midst of his evidence against Mr. Hastings. The accuser they saw hanged. The culprit, without acquittal or en­quiry, triumphs on the ground of that murder: a [Page 127] murder not of Nundcomar only, but of all living testimony, and even of evidence yet unborn. From that time not a complaint has been heard from the natives against their governors. All the grievances of India have found a complete remedy.—


INDIA. British Dominions in India described.

IN the northern parts it is a solid mass of land, about eight hundred miles in length, and four or five hundred broad. As you go southward, it becomes narrower for a space. It afterwards dilates; but narrower or broader, you possess the whole eastern and north-eastern coast of that vast country, quite from the borders of Pegu.—Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, with Benares (now unfortunately in our im­mediate possession) measure 161,978 square English miles; a territory considerably larger than the whole kingdom of France. Oude, with its dependant pro­vinces, is 53,286 square miles, not a great deal less than England. The Carnatic, with Tanjour and the Circars, is 65,948 square miles, very considerably larger than England; and the whole of the company's dominions, comprehending Bombay and Salsette, amounts to 281,412 square miles; which forms a territory larger than any European dominion, Russia and Turkey excepted. Through all that vast extent of country there is not a man who eats a mouthful of rice but by permission of the East India company.—So far with regard to the extent. The population of this great empire is not easy to be calculated. When the countries, of which it is composed, came into our possession, they were all eminently peopled, and eminently productive; though at that time con­siderably declined from their antient prosperity. But since they are come into our hands!—! How­ever, if we take the period of our estimate immedi­ately [Page 128] before the utter desolation of the Carnatic, and if we allow for the havoc which our government had even then made in these regions, we cannot, in my opinion, rate the population at much less than thirty millions of souls; more than four times the number of persons in the island of Great Britain.

My next enquiry to that of the number, is the quality and description of the inhabitants. This mul­titude of men does not consist of an abject and bar­barous populace; much less of gangs of savages, like the Guaranies and Chiquitos, who wander on the waste borders of the river of Amazons, or the Plate; but a people for ages civilized and cultivated; culti­vated by all the arts of polished life, whilst we were yet in the woods. There, have been (and still the skeletons remain) princes once of great dignity, au­thority, and opulence. There, are to be found the chiefs of tribes and nations. There, is to be found an antient and venerable priesthood, the depository of their laws, learning, and history, the guides of the people whilst living, and their consolation in death; a nobility of great antiquity and renown; a multitude of cities, not exceeded in population and trade by those of the first class in Europe; merchants and bankers, individual houses of whom have once vied in capital with the Bank of England; whose credit had often supported a tottering state, and pre­served their governments in the midst of war and de­solation; millions of ingenious manufacturers and mechanics; millions of the most diligent, and not the least intelligent, tillers of the earth. Here are to be found almost all the religions professed by men, the Bramincal, the Mussulmen, the Eastern and the Western Christians.

If I were to take the whole aggregate of our pos­sessions there, I should compare it, as the nearest parallel I can find, with the empire of Germany. Our immediate possessions I should compare with the [Page 129] Austrian dominions, and they would not suffer in the comparison. The nabob of Oude might stand for the king of Prussia; the nabob of Arcot I would compare, as superior in territory, and equal in re­venue, to the elector of Saxony. Cheyt Sing, the rajah of Benares, might well rank with the prince of Hesse, at least; and the rajah of Tanjore (though hardly equal in extent of dominion, superior in re­venue) to the elector of Bavaria. The Polygars and the northern Zemindars, and other great chiefs, might well class with the rest of the princes, dukes, counts, marquisses, and bishops in the empire; all of whom I mention to honour, and surely without dis­paragement to any or all of those most respectable princes and grandees.

All this vast mass, composed of so many orders and classes of men, is again infinitely diversified by manners, by religion, by hereditary employment, through all their possible combinations. This ren­ders the handling of India a matter in an high degree critical and delicate. But oh! it has been handled rudely indeed. Even some of the reformers seem to have forgot that they had any thing to do but to re­gulate the tenants of a manor, or the shopkeepers of the next county town.

It is an empire of this extent, of this complicated nature, of this dignity and importance, that I have compared to Germany, and the German government; not for an exact resemblance, but as a sort of a middle term, by which India might be approximated to our understandings, and if possible to our feelings; in order to awaken something of sympathy for the unfortunate natives, of which I am afraid we are not perfectly susceptible, whilst we look at this very remote object through a false and cloudy medium.—Ibid.


A Director's qualification may be worth about two thousand five hundred pounds—and the interest, at eight per cent. is about one hundred and sixty pounds a year. Of what value is that, whether it rise to ten, or fall to six, or to nothing, to him whose son, before he is in Bengal two months, and before he descends the steps of the council chamber, sells the grant of a single contract for forty thousand pounds? Accord­ingly the stock is bought up in qualifications. The vote is not to protect the stock, but the stock is bought to acquire the vote; and the end of the vote is to cover and support, against justice, some man of power who has made an obnoxious fortune in India; or to maintain in power those who are actually em­ploying it in the acquisition of such a fortune; and to avail themselves in return of his patronage, that he may shower the spoils of the east, ‘"barbaric pearl and gold,"’ on them, their families, and dependents. So that all the relations of the Company are not only changed, but inverted. The servants in India are not appointed by the Directors, but the Directors are chosen by them. The trade is carried on with their capitals; to them the revenues of the country are mortgaged. The seat of the supreme power is in Calcutta. The house in Leadenhall-street is nothing more than a 'change for their agents, factors, and deputies to meet in, to take care of their affairs, and support their interests; and this so avowedly, that we see the known agents of the delinquent servants marshalling and disciplining their forces, and the prime spokesmen in all their assemblies.—Ibid.


JACOBINISM is the revolt of the enterprising talents of a country against its property. When private men form themselves into associations for the purpose of [Page 131] destroying the pre-existing laws and institutions of their country; when they secure to themselves an army, by dividing amongst the people of no property the estates of the ancient and lawful proprietors; when a state recognizes those acts; when it does not make confiscations for crimes, but makes crimes for confiscations; when it has its principal strength, and all its resources in such a violation of property; when it stands chiefly upon such a violation; massacreing by judgments, or otherwise, those who make any struggle for their old legal government, and their legal, here­ditary, or acquired possessions, I call this Jacobinism by establishment.— Regicide Peace.


I HAVE a good opinion of the general abilities of the Jacobins; not that I suppose them better born than others; but strong passions awake the faculties: they suffer not a particle to be lost; the spirit of en­terprize gives them the full use of all their native energies.—Ibid.

JACOBINS. Character of the British Jacobins.

IT cannot be concealed. We are a divided people. But in divisions, where a part is to be taken, we are to make a muster of our strength. I have often en­deavoured to class those who, in any political view, are to be called the people. Without doing some­thing of this sort we must proceed absurdly. We should presume as absurdly, if we pretended to very great accuracy in our estimate. But I think, in the calculation I have made, the error cannot be very material. In England and Scotland, I compute that those of adult age, not declining in life, of tolerable leisure for such discussions, and of some means of information, more or less, and who are above menial dependence, (or what virtually is such) may amount [Page 132] to about four hundred thousand. In this number I include the women that take a concern in those transactions, who cannot exceed twenty thousand. There is such a thing as a natural representative of the people. This body is that representative; and on this body, more than on the legal constituent, the artificial representative depends. This is the British public, and it is a public very numerous. The rest, when feeble, are the objects of protection; when strong, the means of force. They who affect to con­sider that part of us in any other light, insult while they cajole us; they do not want us for counsellors in deliberation, but to list us as soldiers for battle.

Of these four hundred thousand political citizens, I look upon one fifth, or about eighty thousand, to be pure Jacobins, utterly incapable of amendment; objects of eternal vigilance; and when they break out, of legal constraint. On these, no reason, no argument, no example, no venerable authority, can have the slightest influence. They desire a change, and they will have it if they can. If they cannot have it by English cabal, they will make no sort of scruple of having it by the cabal of France, into which already they are virtually incorporated.

This minority is great and formidable. I do not know whether if I aimed at the total overthrow of a kingdom, I should wish to be encumbered with a larger body of partizans. These, by their spirit of intrigue, and by their restless agitating activity, are of a force far superior to their numbers; and if times grew the least critical, have the means of de­bauching or intimidating many of those who are now sound, as well as of adding to their force large bodies of the more passive part of the nation. This mino­rity is numerous enough to make a mighty cry for peace, or for war, or for any object they are led ve­hemently to desire. By passing from place to place with a velocity incredible, and diversifying their character and description, they are capable of mi­micking [Page 133] the general voice. We must not always judge of the generality of the opinion by the noise of the acclamation.

The majority, the other four-fifths, is perfectly sound, and of the best possible dispositions to religion, to government, to the true and undivided interest of their country. Such men are naturally disposed to peace. They who are in possession of all they wish, are languid and improvident. With this fault, (and I admit its existence in all its extent) they would not endure to hear of a peace that led to the ruin of every thing for which peace is dear to them. How­ever, the desire of peace is essentially the weak side of all such men. All men that are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities. There they are unguarded. They do not suspect that their de­struction is attempted through their virtues. This their enemies are perfectly aware of, and accordingly they, the most turbulent of mankind, who never made a scruple to shake the tranquillity of their country to its centre, raise a continual cry for peace with France. Peace with regicides, and war with the rest of the world, is their true motto. From the beginning, and even whilst the French gave the blows, and we hardly opposed the vis inertiae to their efforts, from that day to this hour, like importunate Guinea-fowls crying one note day and night, they have called Peace, peace!!—Ibid.


A rectitude of judgment in the arts, which may be called a good taste, does in a great measure depend upon sensibility; because if the mind has no bent to the pleasures of the imagination, it will never apply itself sufficiently to works of that species to acquire a competent knowledge in them. But though a degree of sensibility is requisite to form a good judgment, [Page 134] yet a good judgment does not necessarily arise from a quick sensibility of pleasure; it frequently happens that a very poor judge, merely by force of a greater complexional sensibility, is more affected by a very poor piece, than the best judge by the most perfect; for as every thing new, extraordinary, grand, or pas­sionate, is well calculated to affect such a person, and that the faults do not affect him, his pleasure is more pure and unmixed; and as it is merely a pleasure of the imagination, it is much higher than any which is derived from a rectitude of the judgment; the judgment is for the greater part employed in throwing stumbling-blocks in the way of the imagination, in dissipating the scenes of its enchantment, and in tying us down to the disagreeable yoke of our reason; for almost the only pleasure that men have in judging better than others, consists in a sort of conscious pride and superiority, which arises from thinking rightly; but then, this is an indirect pleasure, a pleasure which does not im­mediately result from the object which is under con­templation. In the morning of our days, when the senses are unworn and tender, when the whole man is awake in every part, and the gloss of novelty fresh upon all the objects that surround us, how lively at that time are our sensations, but how false and inac­curate the judgments we form of things? I despair of ever receiving the same degree of pleasure from the most excellent performances of genius which I felt at that age, from pieces which my present judgment regards as trifling and contemptible. Every trivial cause of pleasure is apt to affect the man of too san­guine a complexion: his appetite is too keen to suffer his taste to be delicate; and he is in all respects what Ovid says of himself in love,

Molle meum levibus cor est violabile telis,
Et semper causa est, cur ego semper amem.

One of this character can never be a refined judge; never what the comic poet calls elegans formarum [Page 135] spectator. The excellence and force of a composition must always be imperfectly estimated from its effect on the minds of any, except we know the temper and character of those minds. The most powerful effects of poetry and music have been displayed, and per­haps are still displayed, where these arts are but in a very low and imperfect state. The rude hearer is affected by the principles which operate in these arts even in their rudest condition; and he is not skilful enough to perceive the defects. But as arts advance towards their perfection, the science of criticism ad­vances with equal pace, and the pleasure of judges is frequently interrupted by the faults which are dis­covered in the most finished compositions.—Intro­duction on Taste.


A mercenary informer knows no distinction.—Under such a system, the obnoxious people are slaves, not only to the Government, but they live at the mercy of every individual; they are at once the slaves of the whole community, and of every part of it; and the worst and most unmerciful men are those on whose goodness they most depend.

In this situation, men not only shrink from the frowns of the stern Magistrate, but they are obliged to fly from their very places. The seeds of destruc­tion are sown in civil intercourse, in social habitudes. The blood of wholesome kindred is infected; their tables and beds are surrounded with snares; all the means given by Providence to make life safe and comfortable, are perverted into instruments of terror and torment. This species of universal subserviency, that makes the very servant who waits behind your chair the arbiter of your life and fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and debase mankind, and to deprive him of that assured and liberal state of mind, which alone can make us what we ought to be, that [Page 136] I vow to God I would sooner bring myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so to get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to fret him with a feverish being, tainted with the gaol distemper of a contagious servitude, to keep him above ground, an animated mass of putrefaction, corrupted himself, and corrupting all about him.—

Speech at Bristol previous to the Election.


ALL jurisdictions, which furnish more matter of expence, more temptation to oppression, or more means or instruments of corrupt influence, than ad­vantage to justice or political administration, ought to be abolished.—Oecon. Reform.


IT is the public justice that holds the community together; the ease, therefore, and independence of the Judges, ought to supersede all other considera­tions, and they ought to be the very last to feel the necessities of the State, or to be obliged either to court or bully a Minister for their right; they ought to be as weak solicitors on their own demands, as stre­nuous assertors of the rights and liberties of others. The Judges are, or ought to be, of a reserved and retired character, and wholly unconnected with the political world.—Ibid.


WHEN any political institution is praised, in spite of great and prominent faults of every kind, and in all its parts, it must be supposed to have something excellent in its fundamental principles. It must be shewn that it was right, though imperfect; that it is not only by possibility susceptible of improvement, but that it contains a principle tending to its meliora­tion.—Appeal from the new to the old Whigs.


JUSTICE is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstance, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.

IRISH CATHOLICS. Conduct of the Irish Catholics in London during the Riots in 1780.

THERE was a circumstance (justice will not suffer me to pass it over) which, if any thing could enforce the reasons I have given, would fully justify the act of relief, and render a repeal, or any thing like a repeal, unnatural, impossible. It was the behaviour of the persecuted Roman Catholics under the acts of violence and brutal insolence which they suffered. I suppose there are not in London less than four or five thousand of that persuasion from my country, who do a great deal of the most laborious works in the metropolis; and they chiefly inhabit those quarters which were the principal theatre of the fury of the bigotted multitude. They are known to be men of strong arms and quick feelings, and more remarkable for a determined resolution, than clear ideas, or much foresight. But though provoked by every thing that can stir the blood of men, their houses and chapels in flames, and with the most atrocious profanations of every thing which they hold sacred before their eyes, not a hand was moved to retaliate, or even to defend.—Speech at Bristol, previous to the Election.

IRISH CATHOLICS. Object and Effect of the Popery Laws.

SETTING, therefore, this case out of the question, it becomes an object of very serious consideration, [Page 138] whether, because wicked men of various descriptions are engaged in seditious courses, the rational, sober, and valuable part of one description should not be indulged in their sober and rational expectations? You, who have looked deeply into the spirit of the popery laws, must be perfectly sensible, that a great part of the present mischief, which we abhor in com­mon, if it at all exists, has arisen from them. Their declared object was to reduce the Catholics of Ire­land to a miserable populace, without property, with­out estimation, without education. The professed object was to deprive the few men who, in spite of those laws, might hold or obtain any property amongst them, of all sort of influence or authority over the rest. They divided the nation into two distinct bo­dies, without common interest, sympathy, or con­nection. One of these bodies was to possess all the franchises, all the property, all the education: the other was to be composed of drawers of water and cutters of turf for them. Are we to be astonished, when, by the efforts of so much violence in conquest, and so much policy in regulation, continued without intermission for near an hundred years, we had re­duced them to a mob; that whenever they came to act at all, many of them would act exactly like a mob, without temper, measure, or foresight? Surely it might be just now a matter of temperate discussion, whether you ought not apply a remedy to the real cause of the evil. If the disorder you speak of be real and considerable, you ought to raise an aristo­cratic interest; that is, an interest of property and education amongst them; and to strengthen, by every prudent means, the authority and influence of men of that description. It will deserve your best thoughts, to examine whether this can be done without giving such persons the means of demonstrating to the rest, that something more is to be got by their temperate conduct, than can be expected from the wild and senseless projects of those who do not belong to their body, who have no interest in their well being, and [Page 139] only wish to make them the dupes of their turbulent ambition.—

Letter to Sir H. Langrishe, M. P.


THE Protestants of Ireland are not alone suffici­ently the people to form a democracy; and they are too numerous to answer the ends and purposes of an aristocracy. Admiration, that first source of obedi­ence, can be only the claim or the imposture of the few. I hold it to be absolutely impossible for two millions of plebeians, (Catholics) composing cer­tainly, a very clear and decided majority in that class, to become so far in love with six or seven hun­dred thousand of their fellow-citizens (to all outward appearance plebeians like themselves, and many of them tradesmen, servants, and otherwise inferior to some of them) as to see with satisfaction, or even with patience, an exclusive power vested in them, by which constitutionally they become the absolute mas­ters; and by the manners derived from their circum­stances, must be capable of exercising upon them, daily and hourly, an insulting and vexatious superi­ority. Neither are the majority of the Irish indem­nified (as in some aristocracies) for this state of hu­miliating vassalage (often inverting the nature of things and relations) by having the lower walks of industry wholly abandoned to them. They are rivalled, to say the least of the matter, in every laborious and lucrative course of life: while every franchise, every honour, every trust, every place down to the very lowest and least confidential (besides whole profes­sions) is reserved for the master cast.—Ibid.


I WILL not here examine, whether the principles of the British [the Irish] constitution, be wise or [Page 140] not. I must assume that they are; and that those who partake the franchises which make it, partake of a benefit. They who are excluded from votes (under proper qualifications inherent in the constitution that gives them) are excluded, not from the state, but from the British constitution. They cannot by any possibility, whilst they hear its praises continually rung in their ears, and are present at the declaration which is so generally and so bravely made by those who possess the privilege—that the best blood in their veins ought to be shed, to preserve their share in it; they, the disfranchised part, cannot, I say, think them­selves in an happy state, to be utterly excluded from all its direct and all its consequential advantages. The popular part of the constitution must be to them, by far the most odious part of it. To them it is not on actual, and, if possible, still less a virtual repre­sentation. It is, indeed, the direct contrary. It is power unlimited, placed in the hands of an adverse description, because it is an adverse description. And if they who compose the privileged body have not an interest, they must but too frequently have motives of pride, passion, petulance, peevish jealousy, or tyran­nic suspicion, to urge them to treat the excluded people with contempt and rigour.

Then, since our oldest fundamental laws follow, or rather couple, freehold with franchise; since no principle of the revolution shakes these liberties; since the oldest and one of the best monuments of the consti [...]tion, demands for the Irish the privilege which they supplicate; since the principles of the revolution coincide with the declarations of the Great Charter; since the practice of the revolution, in this point, did not contradict its principles; since, from that event, twenty-five years had elapsed, before a domineering party, on a party principle, had ventured to disfranchise, without any proof whatsoever of abuse, the greater part of the community; since the king's coronation oath does not stand in his way to [Page 141] the performance of his duty to all his subjects; since you have given to all other dissenters these privileges without limit, which are hitherto withheld, without any limitation whatsoever, from the Catholics; since no nation in the world has ever been known to ex­clude so great a body of men (not born slaves) from the civil state, and all the benefits of its constitution; the whole question comes before parliament, as a matter for its prudence. I do not put the thing on a question of right. That discretion which in judica­ture is well said by Lord Coke to be a crooked cord, in legislature is a golden rule. Supplicants ought not to appear too much in the character of litigants. If the subject thinks so highly and reverently of the sovereign authority, as not to claim any thing of right, so that it may seem to be independent of the power and free choice of its government: and if the sovereign, on his part, considers the advantages of the subjects as their right, and all their reasonable wishes as so many claims; in the fortunate conjunc­tion of these mutual dispositions are laid the foun­dations of a happy and prosperous commonwealth. For my own part, desiring of all things that the autho­rity of the legislature under which I was born, and which I cherish, not only with a dutiful awe, but with a partial and cordial affection, to be maintained in the utmost possible respect, I never will suffer myself to suppose, that, at bottom, their discretion will be found to be at variance with their justice.—Ibid.

IRISH CATHOLIC. Possesses no virtual Representation. (See Representation Virtual.)

THE Irish Catholic, as a Catholic and belonging to a description, has no virtual relation to the repre­sentative; but the contrary. There is a relation in [Page 142] mutual obligation. Gratitude may not always have a very lasting power; but the frequent recurrence of an application for favours will revive and refresh it; and will necessarily produce some degree of mutual attention. It will, produce, at least, acquaintance. The several descriptions of people will not be kept so much apart as they now are, as if they were not only separate nations, but separate species. The stigma and reproach, the hideous mask will be taken off, and men will see each other as they are. Sure I am, that there have been thousands in Ireland, who have never conversed with a Roman Catholic in their whole lives, unless they happened to talk to their gardener's workmen, or to ask their way, when they had lost it in their sports; or, at best, who had known them only as footmen, or other domestics of the second and third order: and so averse were they, some time ago, to have them near their persons, that they would not employ even those who could never find their way beyond the stable. I well remember a great, and, in many respects, a good man, who ad­vertised for a blacksmith; but, at the same time, added, he must be a Protestant. It is impossible that such a state of things, though natural goodness in many persons will undoubtedly make exceptions, must not produce alienation on the one side, and pride and insolence on the other.

Reduced to a question of discretion, and that dis­cretion exercised solely upon what will appear best for the conservation of the state on its present basis, I should recommend it to your serious thoughts, whe­ther the narrowing of the foundation is always the best way to secure the building? The body of dis­franchised men will not be perfectly satisfied to re­main always in that state. If they are not satisfied, you have two millions of subjects in your bosom, full of uneasiness; not that they cannot overturn the act of settlement, and put themselves and you under an [Page 143] arbitrary master; or, that they are not permitted to fpawn an hydra of wild republics, on principles of a pretended natural equality in man; but, because you will not suffer them to enjoy the ancient, funda­mental, tried advantages of a British constitution: that you will not permit them to profit of the pro­tection of a common father, or the freedom of com­mon citizens: and that the only reason which can be assigned for this disfranchisement, has a tendency more deeply to ulcerate their minds than the act of exclusion itself. What the consequence of such feel­ings must be, it is for you to look to. To warn is not to menace.—Ibid.

IRISH CATHOLICS. Repeal of the Test Act in Ireland, &c.

SO far as to England. In Ireland you have out­ran us. Without waiting for an English example, you have totally, and without any modification what­soever, repealed the test as to Protestant Dissenters. Not having the repealing act by me, I ought not to say positively that there is no exception in it; but if it be what I suppose it is, you know very well, that a Jew in religion, or a Mahometan, or even a public, declared atheist, and blasphemer, is perfectly qualified to be lord lieutenant, a lord justice, or even keeper of the king's conscience; and by virtue of his office (if with you it be as it is with us) administrator to a great part of the ecclesiastical patronage of the crown.

Now let us deal a little fairly. We must admit, that Protestant dissent was one of the quarters from which danger was apprehended at the revolution, and against which a part of the coronation oath was pe­culiarly directed. By this unqualified repeal, you certainly did not mean to deny that it was the duty of the crown to preserve the church against Protestant Dissenters; or taking this to be the true sense of the two revolution acts of king William, and of the pre­vious [Page 144] and subsequent union acts of queen Anne, you did not declare by this most unqualified repeal, by which you broke down all the barriers, not invented, indeed, but carefully preserved at the revolution; you did not then and by that proceeding declare, that you had advised the king to perjury towards God, and persidy towards the church. No! far, very far from it! you never would have done it, if you did not think it could be done with perfect repose to the royal conscience, and perfect safety to the national esta­blished religion. You did this upon a full considera­tion of the circumstances of your country. Now, if circumstances required it, why should it be contrary to the king's oath, his parliament judging on those circumstances, to restore to his Catholic people, in such measure, and with such modifications as the public wisdom shall think proper to add, some part in these franchises which they formerly had held without any limitation at all, and which, upon no sort of ur­gent reason at the time, they were deprived of? If such means can with any probability be shown, from cir­cumstances, rather to add strength to our mixed ecclesiastical and secular constitution than to weaken it; surely they are means infinitely to be preferred to penalties, incapacities, and proscriptions continued from generation to generation. They are perfectly consistent with the other parts of the coronation oath, in which the king swears to maintain ‘"the laws of God and the true profession of the gospel, and to govern the people according to the statutes in Parliament agreed upon, and the laws and customs of the realm."’ In consenting to such a statute, the crown would act, at least, as agreeable to the laws of God, and to the true profession of the gospel, and to the laws and customs of the kingdom, as George I. did when he passed the statute which took from the body of the people, every thing which, to that hour, and even after the monstrous acts of the 2d and 8th of Anne (the objects of our common hatred) they still enjoyed inviolate.—Ibid.

IRELAND. Irish Catholic Clergy. (See PROTESTANT CLERGY.)

WHEN we are to provide for the education of any body of men, we ought seriously to consider the par­ticular functions they are to perform in life. A Ro­man Catholic clergyman is the minister of a very ritual religion: and by his profession, subject to many restraints. His life is a life full of strict observances, and his duties are of a laborious nature towards him­self, and of the highest possible trust towards others. The duty of confession alone is sufficient to set in the strongest light the necessity of his having an ap­propriated mode of education. The theological opi­nions and peculiar rites of one religion never can be properly taught in universities, founded for the pur­poses and on the principles of another, which in many points are directly opposite. If a Roman Catholic clergyman, intended for celibacy, and the function of confession, is not strictly bred in a semi­nary where these things are respected, inculcated and enforced, as sacred, and not made the subject of derision and obloquy, he will be ill fitted for the former, and the latter will be indeed in his hands a terrible instrument.

There is a great resemblance between the whole frame and constitution of the Greek and Latin churches. The secular clergy in the former, by being married, living under little restraint, and hav­ing no particular education suited to their function, are universally fallen into such contempt, that they are never permitted to aspire to the dignities of their own church. It is not held respectful to call them papas, their true and antient appellation, but those who wish to address them with civility, always call them hieromonachi. In consequence of this disre­spect, which I venture to say, in such a church, must be the consequence of a secular life, a very great [Page 146] degeneracy from reputable christian manners has taken place throughout almost the whole of that great member of the christian church.

It was so with the Latin church, before the re­straint on marriage. Even that restraint gave rise to the greatest disorders before the council of Trent, which together with the emulation raised, and the good examples given by the reformed churches, wherever they were in view of each other, has brought on that happy amendment, which we see in the Latin communion, both at home and abroad.

The council of Trent has wisely introduced the discipline of seminaries, by which priests are not trusted for a clerical institution, even to the severe discipline of their colleges; but after they pass through them, are frequently, if not for the greater part, obliged to pass through peculiar methods, having their particular ritual function in view. It is in a great measure to this, and to similar methods used in foreign education, that the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, miserably provided for, living among low and ill-regulated people, without any discipline of sufficient force to secure good manners, have been prevented from becoming an intolerable nuisance to the country, instead of being, as I con­ceive they generally are, a very great service to it.—Letter on the penal Laws against Irish Catholics.

IRELAND. Genius and Policy of the English Government in Ire­land; Revolution, &c. (See IRISH CATHOLICS.)

I CANNOT possibly confound in my mind all the things which were done at the revolution, with the principles of the revolution. As in most great changes, many things were done from the necessities of the time, well or ill understood from passion or [Page 147] from vengeance, which were not only not perfectly agreeable to its principles, but in the most direct con­tradiction to them. I shall not think that the depri­vation of some millions of people of all the rights of citizens, and all interest in the constitution, in and to which they were born, was a thing conformable to the declared principles of the revolution. This, I am sure, is true relatively to England (where the opera­tion of these anti-principles comparatively were of little extent) and some of our late laws, in repealing acts made immediately after the revolution, admit that some things then done were not done in the true spirit of the revolution. But the revolution operated differently in England and Irelend, in many, and these essential particulars. Supposing the principles to have been altogether the same in both kingdoms, by the application of those principles to very dif­ferent objects, the whole spirit of the system was changed, not to say reversed. In England it was the struggle of the great body of the people for the establishment of their liberties, against the efforts of a very small faction, who would have oppressed them. In Ireland it was the establishment of the power of the smaller number, at the expence of the civil li­berties and properties of the far greater part; and at the expence of the political liberties of the whole. It was, to say the truth, not a revolution, but a con­quest; which is not to say a great deal in its favour. To insist on every thing done in Ireland at the re­volution, would be to insist on the severe and jealous policy of a conqueror, in the crude settlement of his new acquisition, as a permanent rule for its future government. This, no power, in no country that ever I heard of, has done or professed to do—ex­cept in Ireland; where it is done, and possibly by some people will be professed. Time has, by de­grees, in all other places and periods, blended and coalited the conquered with the conquerors. So, [Page 148] after some time, and after one of the most rigid con­quests that we read of in history, the Normans sof­tened into the English. I wish you to turn your re­collection to the fine speech of Cerealis to the Gauls, made to dissuade them from revolt. Speaking of the Romans,— ‘"Nos quamvis toties lacessiti, jure victo­riae id solum vobis addidimus, quo pacem tuere­mur; nam neque quies gentium sine armis; neque arma sine stipendiis; neque stipendia sine tributis, haberi queant. Coetera in communi sita sunt: ipsi plerumque nostris exercitibus proesidetis: ipsi has aliasque provincias regitis: nil seperatum clausumve—Proinde pacem et urbem, quam victores victique eodem jure obtinemus, amate, colite."’ You will consider, whether the arguments used by that Roman to these Gauls, would apply to the case in Ireland; and whether you could use so plausible a preamble to any severe warning you might think it proper to hold out to those who should resort to sedition instead of supplication, to obtain any object that they may pur­sue with the governing power.

For a much longer period than that which had suf­ficed to blend the Romans with the nation to which of all others they were the most adverse, the Pro­testants settled in Ireland, considered themselves in no other light than that of a sort of colonial garri­son, to keep the natives in subjection to the other state of Great Britain. The whole spirit of the re­volution in Ireland, was that of not the mildest con­queror. In truth, the spirit of those proceedings did not commence at that aera, nor was religion, of any kind, their primary object. What was done, was not in the spirit of a contest between two religious factions; but between two adverse nations. The statutes of Kilkenny shew, that the spirit of the po­pery laws, and some even of their actual provisions, as applied between Englishry and Irishry, had ex­isted in that harassed country before the words Pro­testant [Page 149] and Papist were heard of in the world. If we read baron Finglas, Spenser, and Sir John Davis, we cannot miss the true genius and policy of the English government there before the revolution, as well as during the whole reign of queen Elizabeth. Sir John Davis boasts of the benefits received by the natives, by extending to them the English law, and turning the whole kingdom into shire ground. But the appearance of things alone was changed. The original scheme was never deviated from for a single hour. Unheard-of confiscations were made in the northern parts, upon grounds of plots and conspira­cies, never proved upon their supposed authors. The war of chicane succeeded to the war of arms and of hostile statutes; and a regular series of operations were carried on, particularly from Chichester's time, in the ordinary courts of justice, and by special com­missions and inquisitions; first, under pretence of te­nures, and then of titles in the crown, for the pur­pose of the total extirpation of the interest of the na­tives in their own soil—until this species of subtle ravage, being carried to the last excess of oppression and insolence under Lord Strafford, it kindled the flames of that rebellion which broke out in 1641. By the issue of that war, by the turn which the Earl of Clarendon gave to things at the restoration, and by the total reduction of the kingdom of Ireland in 1691, the ruin of the native Irish, and in a great measure too, of the first races of the English, was completely accomplished. The new English interest was settled with as solid a stability as any thing in human affairs can look for. All the penal laws of that unparalleled code of oppression, which were made after the last event, were manifestly the effects of national hatred and scorn towards a conquered people; whom the victors delighted to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to provoke. They were not the effect of their fears but of their security. [Page 150] They who carried on this system, looked to the irre­sistible force of Great Britain for their support in their acts of power. They were quite certain, that no complaints of the natives would be heard on this side of the water, with any other sentiments than those of contempt and indignation. Their cries serv­ed only to augment their torture. Machines, which could answer their purposes so well, must be of an excellent contrivance. Indeed, in England, the dou­ble name of the complainants, Irish and Papists (it would be hard to say, singly, which singly was the most odious) shut up the hearts of every one against them. Whilst that temper prevailed, and it prevailed in all its force to a time within our memory, every measure was pleasing and popular, just in proportion as it tended to harass and ruin a set of people, who were looked upon as enemies to God and man; and, indeed, as a race of bigotted savages, who were a disgrace to human nature itself.

However, as the English in Ireland began to be domiciliated, they began also to recollect that they had a country. The English interest, at first by [...]aint and almost insensible degrees, but at length openly and avowedly, became an independent Irish interest; full as independent as it could ever have been, if it had continued in the persons of the native Irish; and it was maintained with more skill, and more consis­tency than probably it would have been in theirs. With their views, the Anglo-Irish changed their maxims—it was necessary to demonstrate to the whole people that there was something at least, of a com­mon interest, combined with the independency, which was to become the object of common exertions. The mildness of government produced the first relaxation towards the Irish; the necessities, and, in part too, the temper that predominated at this great change, produced the second and the most important of these relaxations. English government, and Irish legisla­ture, [Page 151] felt jointly the propriety of this measure. The Irish parliament and nation became independent.

The true revolution to you, that which most in­trinsically and substantially resembled the English re­volution of 1688, was the Irish revolution of 1782. The Irish parliament of 1782 bore little resemblance to that which sat in that kingdom, after the period of the first of these revolutions. It bore a much nearer resemblance to that which sat under king James. The change of the parliament in 1782 from the character of the parliament which, as a token of its indignation, had burned all the journals indiscriminately of the former parliament in the council chamber, was very visible. The address of king William's parliament, the parliament which assembled after the revolution, amongst other causes of complaint (many of them sufficiently just) complains of the repeal by their pre­decessors of Poyning's law; no absolute idol with the parliament of 1782.

Great Britain finding the Anglo-Irish highly ani­mated with a spirit, which had, indeed, shewn itself before, though with little energy, and many inter­ruptions, and therefore suffered a multitude of uni­form precedents to be established against it, acted, in my opinion, with the greatest temperance and wisdom. She saw that the disposition of the leading part of the nation would not permit them to act any longer the part of a garrison. She saw that true policy did not require that they ever should have appeared in that character; or if it had done so formerly, the reasons had now ceased to operate. She saw that the Irish of her race, were resolved to build their constitution and their polites upon another bottom. With those things under her view, she instantly complied with the whole of your demands, without any reservation whatsoever. She surrendered that boundless supe­riority, for the preservation of which, and the ac­quisition, she had supported the English colonies in [Page 152] Ireland for so long a time, and at so vast an expence (according to the standard of those ages) of her blood and treasure.

When we bring before us the matter which history affords for our selection, it is not improper to exa­mine the spirit of the several precedents, which are candidates for our choice. Might it not be as well for your statesmen, on the other side of the water, to take an example from this latter, and surely more conciliatory revolution, as a pattern for your conduct towards your own fellow-citizens, than from that of 1688, when a paramount sovereignty over both you and them, was more loftily claimed, and more sternly exerted, than at any former, or at any subsequent period? Great Britain in 1782, rose above the vulgar ideas of policy, the ordinary jealousies of state, and all the sentiments of national pride and national am­bition. If she had been more disposed than, I thank God for it, she was, to listen to the suggestions of passion, than to the dictates of prudence; she might have urged the principles, the maxims, the policy, the practice of the revolution, against the demands of the leading description in Ireland, with full as much plausibility, and full as good a grace, as any amongst them can possibly do, against the supplications of so vast and extensive a description of their own people.

A good deal too, if the spirit of domination and exclusion had prevailed in England, might have been excepted against some of the means then employed in Ireland, whilst her claims were in agitation. They were, at least, as much out of the ordinary course, as those which are now objected against admitting your people to any of the benefits of an English con­stitution. Most certainly, neither with you, nor here, was any one ignorant of what was at that time said, written, and done. But on all sides we separated the means from the end; and we separated the cause of the moderate and rational, from the ill-intentioned [Page 153] and seditious; which on such occasions are so fre­quently apt to march together. At that time, on your part, you were not afraid to review what was done at the revolution of 1688, and what had been continued during the subsequent flourishing period of the British empire. The change then made was a great and fundamental alteration. In the execution, it was an operose business on both sides of the water. It required the repeal of several laws; the modifi­cation of many, and a new course to be given to an infinite number of legislative, judicial, and official practices and usages in both kingdoms. This did not frighten any of us. You are now asked to give, in some moderate measure, to your fellow-citizens, what Great Britain gave to you, without any measure at all. Yet notwithstanding all the difficulties at the time, and the apprehensions which some very well-meaning people entertained, through the admirable temper in which this revolution (or restoration in the nature of a revolution) was conducted in both king­doms, it has hitherto produced no inconvenience to either; and I trust, with the continuance of the same temper, that it never will. I think that this small inconsiderable change relative to an exclusive statute not made at the revolution, for restoring the people to the benefits, from which the green soreness of a civil war had not excluded them, will be productive of no sort of mischief whatsoever. Compare what was done in 1782 with what is wished in 1792; con­sider the spirit of what has been done at the several periods of reformation; and weigh maturely, whether it be exactly true that conciliatory concessions are of good policy only in discussions between nations; but that among descriptions in the same nation, they must always be irrational and dangerous. What have you suffered in your peace, your prosperity, or, in what ought ever to be dear to a nation, your glory, by the last act by which you took the property of that [Page 154] people under the protection of the laws? What reason have you to dread the consequences of ad­mitting the people possessing that property to some share in the protection of the constitution?— Letter to Sir H. Langrishe, M. P.

IRELAND. The English Parliament early communicated to Ireland.

IRELAND, before the English conquest, though never governed by a despotic power, had no parlia­ment. How far the English parliament itself was at that time modelled according to the present form, is disputed among antiquarians. But we have all the reason in the world to be assured, that a form of par­liament, such as England then enjoyed, she instantly communicated to Ireland; and we are equally sure that almost every successive improvement in consti­tutional liberty, as fast as it was made here, was transmitted thither. The feudal baronage, and the feudal knighthood, the roots of our primitive con­stitution, were early transplanted into that soil; and grew and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the house of commons, gave us at least an house of commons of weight and con­sequence. But your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to the feast of Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first extended to all Ireland. Mark the consequence. English authority and English liberties had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could never be advanced an inch before your privileges. Sir John Davis shews beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of these rights, was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in subduing; and after the vain projects of a military government, attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was [Page 155] soon discovered, that nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but your laws and your forms of legislature. It was not English arms, but the English constitution, that conquered Ireland. From that time, Ireland has ever had a general parliament, as she had before a partial parliament. You changed the people; you altered the religion; but you never touched the form or the vital substance of free government in that kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them; you altered the succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown; but you never altered their constitution; the principle of which was respected by usurpation; restored with the resto­ration of monarchy, and established, I trust, for ever, by the glorious Revolution. This has made Ireland the great and flourishing kingdom that it is; and from a disgrace and a burthen intolerable to this nation, has rendered a principal part of our strength and ornament. This country cannot be said to have ever formally taxed her. The irregular things done in the confusion of mighty troubles, and on the hinge of great revolutions, even if all were done that is said to have been done, form no example. If they have any effect in argument, they make an exception to prove the rule. None of your own liberties could stand a moment if the casual deviations from them, at such times, were suffered to be used as proofs of their nullity. By the lucrative amount of such casual breaches in the constitution, judge what the stated and fixed rule of supply has been in that kingdom. Your Irish pensioners would starve, if they had no other fund to live on than taxes granted by English authority. Turn your eyes to those popular grants from whence all your great supplies are come; and learn to respect that only source of public wealth in the British empire—Speech on Conciliation with America.

IRELAND. State of Ireland in 1780.

THE first concessions to Ireland, by being (much against my will) mangled and stripped of the parts which were necessary to make out their just corre­spondence and connection in trade, were of no use. The next year a feeble attempt was made to bring the thing into better shape. This attempt (countenanced by the minister*) on the very first appearance of some popular uneasiness, was, after a considerable progress through the house, thrown out by him.

What was the consequence? The whole kingdom of Ireland was instantly in a flame. Threatened by foreigners, and, as they thought, insulted by Eng­land, they resolved at once to resist the power of France, and to cast off yours. As for us, we were able neither to protect nor to restrain them. Forty thousand men were raised and disciplined without commission from the crown. Two illegal armies were seen with banners displayed at the same time, and in the same country. No executive magistrate, no judicature, in Ireland, would acknowledge the legality of the army which bore the king's commission; and no law, or appearance of law, authorised the army commissioned by itself. In this unexampled state of things, which the least error, the least trespass on the right or left, would have hurried down the precipice into an abyss of blood and confusion, the people of Ireland demand a freedom of trade with arms in their hands. They interdict all commerce between the two nations. They deny all new supply in the house of commons, although in time of war. They stint the trust of the old revenue, given for two years to all the king's predecessors, to six months. The British parliament, in a former session frightened into a limited concession by the menaces of Ireland, frightened out of it by the menaces of England, was now frightened back again, and made an universal [Page 157] surrender of all that had been thought the peculiar, reserved, uncommunicable rights of England;—the exclusive commerce of America, of Africa, of the West-Indies—all the enumerations of the acts of navigation—all the manufactures,—iron, glass, even the last pledge of jealousy and pride, the interest hid in the secret of our hearts, the inveterate prejudice moulded into the constitution of our frame, even the sacred fleece itself, all went together. No reserve; no exception; no debate; no discussion. A sudden light broke in upon us all. It broke in, not through well-contrived and well-disposed windows, but through flaws and breaches; through the yawning chasms of our ruin. We were taught wisdom by humiliation. No town in England presumed to have a prejudice; or dared to mutter a petition. What was worse, the whole Parliament of England, which retained autho­rity for nothing but surrenders, was despoiled of every shadow of its superintendance. It was, without any qualification, denied in theory, as it had been trampled upon in practice. This scene of shame and disgrace has, in a manner whilst I am speaking, ended by the perpetual establishment of a military power, in the dominions of this crown, without con­sent of the British legislature*, contrary to the policy of the constitution, contrary to the declaration of right: and by this your liberties are swept away along with your supreme authority—and both, linked together from the beginning, have, I am afraid, both together perished for ever.

What! gentlemen, was I not to foresee, or fore­seeing, was I not to endeavour to save you from all these multiplied mischiefs and disgraces? Would the little, silly, canvass prattle of obeying instructions, and having no opinions but yours, and such idle senseless tales, which amuse the vacant ears of un­thinking men, have saved you from ‘"the pelting of [Page 158] that pitiless storm,"’ to which the loose improvi­dence, the cowardly rashness of those who dare not look danger in the face, so as to provide against it in time, and therefore throw themselves headlong into the midst of it, have exposed this degraded nation, beat down and prostrate on the earth, un­sheltered, unarmed, unresisting? Was I an Irishman on that day, that I boldly withstood our pride? or on the day that I hung down my head, and wept in shame and silence over the humiliation of Great Britain? I became unpopular in England for the one, and in Ireland for the other. What then? What obligation lay on me to be popular? I was bound to serve both kingdoms. To be pleased with my service, was their affair, not mine.—Speech previous to the Election at Bristol.


CORRUPT influence is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of all disorder; which loads us, more than millions of debt; which takes away vigour from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.—Oecon. Reform.


INDIVIDUALS pass like shadows; but the com­monwealth is fixed and stable. The difference therefore of to-day and to-morrow, which to private people is immense, to the state is nothing.—Ibid.


KINGS are naturally lovers of low company.—They are so elevated above all the rest of mankind, that they must look upon all their subjects as on a [Page 159] level. They are rather apt to hate than to love their nobility, on account of the occasional resistance to their will, which will be made by their virtue, their petulance, or their pride. It must indeed be ad­mitted, that many of the nobility are as perfectly willing to act the part of flatterers, tale-bearers, pa­rasites, pimps, and bussoons, as any of the lowest and vilest of mankind can possibly be. But they are not properly qualified for this object of their ambi­tion. The want of a regular education, and early habits, and some lurking remains of their dignity, will never permit them to become a match for an Italian eunuch, a mountebank, a fidler, a player, or any regular practitioner of that tribe. The Roman Emperors, almost from the beginning, threw them­selves into such hands, and the mischief increased every day till its decline, and its final ruin. It is therefore of very great importance (provided the thing is not overdone) to contrive such an establish­ment as must, almost whether a prince will or not, bring into daily and hourly offices about his person, a great number of his first nobility; and it is rather an useful prejudice that gives them a pride in such a servitude. Though they are not much the better for a court, a court will be much the better for them. I have therefore not attempted to reform any of the offices of honour about the king's person.—Ibid.


Dr. Price, in this sermon*, condemns very pro­perly the practice of gross, adulatory addresses to kings. Instead of this fulsome style, he proposes that his majesty should be told, on occasions of con­gratulation, that ‘"he is to consider himself as more properly the servant than the sovereign of his people."’ For a compliment, this new form of [Page 160] address does not seem to be very soothing. Those who are servants, in name, as well as in effect, do not like to be told of their situation, their duty, and their obligations. The slave, in the old play, tells his master, ‘"Haec commemoratio est quafi exprobratio."’ It is not pleasant as compliment, it is not wholesome as instruction. After all, if the king were to bring himself to echo this new kind of address, to adopt it in terms, and even to take the appellation of Ser­vant of the People as his royal style, how either he or we should be much mended by it, I cannot ima­gine. I have seen very assuming letters, signed, Your most obedient, humble servant. The proudest domination that ever was endured on earth took a title of still greater humility than that which is now proposed for sovereigns by the Apostle of Liberty. Kings and nations were trampled upon by the foot of one calling himself ‘"the Servant of Servants;"’ and mandates for deposing sovereigns were sealed with the signet of ‘"the Fisherman."’

I should have considered all this as no more than a sort of slippant vain discourse, in which, as in an unsavory fume, several persons suffer the spirit of liberty to evaporate, if it were not plainly in sup­port of the idea, and a part of the scheme of ‘"ca­shiering kings for misconduct."’ In that light it is worth some observation.

Kings, in one sense, are undoubtedly the servants of the people, because their power has no other ra­tional end than that of the general advantage; but it is not true that they are, in the ordinary sense (by our constitution at least) any thing like servants; the essence of whose situation is to obey the commands of some other, and to be removeable at pleasure.—But the King of Great Britain obeys no other per­son; all other persons are individually, and col­lectively too, under him, and owe to him a legal obedience. The law, which knows neither to flatter nor to insult, calls this high magistrate, not our ser­vant, [Page 161] as this humble Divine calls him, but ‘"our sovereign lord the King;"’ and we, on our parts, have learned to speak only the primitive language of the law, and not the confused jargon of their Babylonian pulpits.

As he is not to obey us, but as we are to obey the law in him, our constitution has made no sort of provision towards rendering him, as a servant, in any degree responsible. Our constitution knows nothing of a magistrate like the Justicia of Arragon; nor of any court legally appointed, nor of any process le­gally settled for submitting the king to the respon­sibility belonging to all servants. In this he is not distinguished from the Commons and the Lords; who, in their several public capacities, can never be called to an account for their conduct; although the Revolution Society chuses to assert, in direct opposition to one of the wisest and most beautiful parts of our constitution, that ‘"a king is no more than the first servant of the public, created by it, and responsible to it."’Reflections on the Revolution in France.


TO reconcile the minds of the people to all these movements, principles correspondent to them had been preached up with great zeal. Every one must remember that the cabal set out with the most asto­nishing prudery, both moral and political. Those who in a few months after soused over head and ears into the deepest and dirtiest pits of corruption, cried out violently against the indirect practices in the electing and managing of parliaments, which had for­merly prevailed. This marvellous abhorrence which the Court had suddenly taken to all influence, was not only circulated in conversation through the king­dom, but pompously announced to the public, with [Page 162] many other extraordinary things, in a pamphlet which had all the appearance of a manifesto preparatory to some considerable enterprize. Throughout, it was a satire, though in terms managed and decent enough, on the politics of the former reign. It was indeed written with no small art and address.

In this piece (Sentiments of an honest Man) ap­peared the first dawning of the new system; there first appeared the idea (then only in speculation) of separating the court from the administration; of carry­ing every thing from national connection to personal regards; and of forming a regular party for that pur­pose, under the name of king's men.

To recommend this system to the people, a per­spective view of the Court, gorgeously painted, and finely illuminated from within, was exhibited to the gaping multitude. Party was to be totally done away, with all its evil works. Corruption was to be cast down from Court, as Atè was from Heaven. Power was thenceforward to be the chosen residence of public spirit; and no one was to be supposed under any sinister influence, except those who had the mis­fortune to be in disgrace at court, which was to stand in lieu of all vices and all corruptions. A scheme of perfection to be realized in a monarchy far beyond the visionary republic of Plato. The whole scenery was exactly disposed to captivate those good souls, whose credulous morality is so invaluable a treasure to crafty politicians. Indeed there was wherewithal to charm every body, except those few who are not much pleased with professions of super­natural virtue, who know of what stuff such profes­sions are made, for what purposes they are designed, and in what they are sure constantly to end. Many innocent gentlemen, who had been talking prose all their lives without knowing any thing of the matter, began at last to open their eyes upon their own merits, and to attribute their not having been Lords of the Treasury and Lords of Trade many years before, [Page 163] merely to the prevalence of party, and to the mini­sterial power, which had frustrated the good intentions of the Court in favour of their abilities. Now was the time to unlock the sealed fountain of royal bounty, which had been infamously monopolized and huck­stered, and to let it flow at large upon the whole people. The time was come to restore royalty to its original splendor. Mettre le Roy hors de page, became a sort of watch-word; and it was constantly in the mouths of all the runners of the Court, that nothing could preserve the balance of the constitution from being overturned by the rabble, or by a faction of the nobility, but to free the sovereign effectually from that ministerial tyranny under which the royal dignity had been oppressed in the person of his Majesty's grandfather.

These were some of the many artifices used to re­concile the people to the great change which was made in the persons who composed the ministry, and the still greater which was made and avowed in its constitution. As to individuals, other methods were employed with them; in order so thoroughly to dis­unite every party, and even every family, that no concert; order, or effect, might appear in any future opposition. And in this manner an Administration, without connection with the people, or with one another, was first put in possession of government. What good consequences followed from it; we have all seen; whether with regard to virtue, public or private; to the ease and happiness of the sovereign; or to the real strength of government. But as so much stress was then laid on the necessity of this new project, it will not be amiss to take a view of the ef­fects of this royal servitude and vile durance, which was so deplored in the reign of the late monarch, and was so carefully to be avoided in the reign of his successor.—Thoughts on the Cause of the present Dis­contents.


KINGS will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.—Ibid.


THERE is ground enough for the opinion that all the kingdoms of Europe were, at a remote period, elective, with more or fewer limitations in the objects of choice; but whatever kings might have been here or elsewhere, a thousand years ago, or in whatever manner the ruling dynasties of England or France may have begun, the King of Great Britain is at this day king by a fixed rule of succession, according to the laws of his country; and whilst the legal condi­tions of the compact of sovereignty are performed by him (as they are performed) he holds his crown in contempt of the choice of the Revolution Society, who have not a single vote for a king amongst them, either individually or collectively; though I make no doubt they would soon erect themselves into an elec­toral college, if things were ripe to give effect to their claim. His Majesty's heirs and successors, each in his time and order, will come to the crown with the same contempt of their choice with which his Majesty has succeeded to that he wears.

Whatever may be the success of evasion in ex­plaining away the gross error of fact, which supposes that his Majesty (though he holds it in concurrence with the wishes) owes his crown to the choice of his people, yet nothing can evade their full explicit de­claration, concerning the principle of a right in the people to chuse, which right is directly maintained, and tenaciously adhered to. All the oblique insinu­ations concerning election bottom in this proposition, and are referable to it. Lest the foundation of the king's exclusive legal title should pass for a mere rant [Page 165] of adulatory freedom, the political divine (Dr. Price) proceeds dogmatically to assert*, that by the prin­ciples of the revolution, the people of England have acquired three fundamental rights, all which, with him, compose one system, and lie together in one short sentence; namely, that we have acquired a right

  • 1. "To chuse our own governors."
  • 2. "To cashier them for misconduct."
  • 3. "To frame a government for ourselves."

This new, and hitherto unheard of bill of rights, though made in the name of the whole people, be­longs to those gentlemen (Revolution Society) and their faction only. The body of the people of Eng­land have no share in it; they utterly disclaim it; they will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of their country, made at the time of that very revolution, which is appealed to in favour of the fictitious rights claimed by the society which abuses its name.

These gentlemen of the Old Jewry, in all their reasonings on the revolution of 1688, have a revolu­tion which happened in England about forty years before, and the late French revolution, so much be­fore their eyes, and in their hearts, that they are constantly confounding all the three together. It is necessary that we should separate what they confound. We must recall their erring fancies to the acts of the revolution which we revere, for the discovery of its true principles. If the principles of the revolution of 1688 are any where to be found, it is in the statute called the Declaration of Right. In that most wise, sober, and considerate declaration, drawn up by great lawyers and great statesmen, and not by warm and inexperienced enthusiasts, not one word is said, nor one suggestion made, of a general right ‘"to [Page 166] chuse our own governors; to cashier them for mis­conduct; and to form a government for ourselves."’

This declaration of right (the act of the 1st of William and Mary, sess. 2. ch. 2.) is the corner-stone of our constitution, as reinforced, explained, im­proved, and in its fundamental principles for ever settled. It is called ‘"An act for declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and for settling the succession of the crown."’ You will observe, that these rights and this succession are declared in one body, and bound indissolubly together.

A few years after this period, a second opportu­nity offered for asserting a right of election to the crown. On the prospect of a total failure of issue from King William, and from the Princess, after­wards Queen Anne, the consideration of the settle­ment of the crown, and of a further security for the liberties of the people, again came before the Le­gislature. Did they this second time make any pro­vision for legalizing the crown on the spurious revo­lution principles of the Old Jewry? No. They fol­lowed the principles which prevailed in the Declara­tion of Right; indicating with more precision the persons who were to inherit in the Protestant line.—This act also incorporated, by the same policy, our liberties, and an hereditary succession in the same act. Instead of a right to chuse our own governors, they declared that the succession in that line (the Protestant line drawn from James the First) was absolutely ne­cessary ‘"for the peace, quiet, and security of the realm,"’ and that it was equally urgent on them ‘"to maintain a certainty in the succession thereof, to which the subjects may safely have recourse for their protection."’ Both these acts, in which are heard the unerring, unambiguous oracles of revolution policy, instead of countenancing the delusive, gipsey predictions of a ‘"right to chuse our governors,"’ prove to a demonstration how totally adverse the wis­dom [Page 167] of the nation was from turning a case of necessity into a rule of law.

Unquestionably there was at the revolution, in the person of King William, a small and a temporary de­viation from the strict order of a regular hereditary succession; but it is against all genuine principles of jurisprudence to draw a principle from a law made in a special case, and regarding an individual person. Privilegium non transit in exemplum. If ever there was a time favourable for establishing the principle, that a king of popular choice was the only legal king, without all doubt it was at the revolution. Its not being done at that time is a proof that the nation was of opinion it ought not to be done at any time. There is no person so completely ignorant of our history, as not to know that the majority in Parlia­ment of both parties were so little disposed to any thing resembling that principle, that at first they were determined to place the vacant crown, not on the head of the Prince of Orange, but on that of his wife Mary, daughter of King James, the eldest born of the issue of that king, which they acknowledged as undoubtedly his. It would be to repeat a very trite story, to recall to your memory all those circum­stances which demonstrated that their accepting King William was not properly a choice; but to all those who did not wish, in effect, to recall King James, or to deluge their country in blood, and again to bring their religion, laws, and liberties into the peril they had just escaped, it was an act of necessity, in the strictest moral sense in which necessity can be taken.

In the very act, in which, for a time, and in a single case, Parliament departed from the strict order of inheritance, in favour of a prince, who, though not next, was however very near in the line of suc­cession, it is curious to observe how Lord Somers, who drew the bill, called the Declaration of Right, has comported himself on that delicate occasion. It is curious to observe with what address this temporary [Page 168] solution of continuity is kept from the eye; whilst all that could be found in this act of necessity to countenance the idea of an hereditary succession is brought forward, and fostered, and made the most of, by this great man, and by the Legislature who followed him. Quitting the dry, imperative style of an act of Parliament, he makes the Lords and Com­mons fall to a pious, legislative ejaculation, and declare, that they consider it ‘"as a marvellous pro­vidence, and merciful goodness of God to this nation, to preserve their said Majesties royal per­sons, most happily to reign over us on the throne of their ancestors, for which, from the bottom of their hearts, they return their humblest thanks and praises."’ The Legislature plainly had in view the act of recognition of the first of Queen Elizabeth, chap. 3d, and of that of James the First, chap. 1st, both acts strongly declaratory of the inheritable na­ture of the crown, and in many parts they follow, with a nearly literal precision, the words, and even the form of thanksgiving, which is found in these old declaratory statutes.

The two houses, in the act of King William, did not thank God that they had found a fair opportunity to assert a right to choose their own governors, much less to make an election the only lawful title to the crown. Their having been in a condition to avoid the very appearance of it, as much as possible, was by them considered as a providential escape. They threw a politic, well-wrought veil over every cir­cumstance tending to weaken the rights, which in the meliorated order of succession they meant to perpetuate; or which might furnish a precedent for any future departure from what they had then settled for ever. Accordingly, that they might not relax the nerves of their monarchy, and that they might preserve a close conformity to the practice of their ancestors, as it appeared in the declaratory statutes of [Page 169] Queen Mary* and Queen Elizabeth, in the next clause they vest, by recognition, in their majesties, all the legal prerogatives of the crown, declaring, ‘"that in them they are most fully, rightfully, and intirely invested, incorporated, united, and an­nexed."’ In the clause which follows, for pre­venting questions, by reason of any pretended titles to the crown, they declare (observing also in this the traditionary language, along with the traditionary policy of the nation, and repeating as from a rubric the language of the preceding acts of Elizabeth and James) that on the preserving ‘"a certainty in the SUCCESSION thereof, the unity, peace, and tran­quillity of this nation doth, under God, wholly depend."’

They knew that a doubtful title of succession would but too much resemble an election; and that an election would be utterly destructive of the ‘"unity, peace, and tranquillity of this nation,"’ which they thought to be considerations of some moment. To provide for these objects, and there­fore to exclude for ever the Old Jewry doctrine of ‘"a right to choose our own governors,"’ they follow with a clause, containing a most solemn pledge, taken from the preceding act of Queen Elizabeth, as solemn a pledge as ever was or can be given in favour of an hereditary succession, and as solemn a renunciation as could be made of the principles by this society imputed to them. ‘"The lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, do, in the name of all the people aforesaid, most humbly and faith­fully submit themselves, their heirs and posterities for ever; and do faithfully promise, that they will stand to, maintain, and defend their said majesties, and also the limitation of the crown, herein specified and contained, to the utmost of their powers," &c. &c.’

[Page 170]So far is it from being true, that we acquired a right by the revolution to elect our kings, that if we had possessed it before, the English nation did at that time most solemnly renounce and abdicate it, for themselves, and for all their posterity for ever. These gentlemen may value themselves as much as they please on their whig principles; but I never desire to be thought a better whig than Lord Somers; or to understand the principles of the revolution better than those by whom it was brought about; or to read in the declaration of right any mysteries unknown to those whose penetrating style has engraved in our ordinances, and in our hearts, the words and spirit of that immortal law.

It is true that, aided with the powers derived from force and opportunity, the nation was at that time, in some sense, free to take what course it pleased for filling the throne; but only free to do so upon the same grounds on which they might have wholly abolished their monarchy, and every other part of their constitution. However they did not think such bold changes within their commission. It is indeed difficult, perhaps impossible, to give limits to the mere abstract competence of the supreme power, such as was exercised by parliament at that time; but the limits of a moral competence, sub­jecting, even in powers more indisputably sovereign, occasional will to permanent reason, and to the steady maxims of faith, justice, and fixed fundamental po­licy, are perfectly intelligible, and perfectly binding upon those who exercise any authority, under any name, or under any title, in the state. The house of lords, for instance, is not morally competent to dissolve the house of commons; no, nor even to dissolve itself, nor to abdicate, if it would, its portion in the legislature of the kingdom. Though a king may abdicate for his own person, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy. By as strong, or by a stronger reason, the house of commons cannot renounce its [Page 171] share of authority. The engagement and pact of society, which generally goes by the name of the constitution, forbids such invasion and such surrender. The constituent parts of a state are obliged to hold their public faith with each other, and with all those who derive any serious interest under their engage­ments, as much as the whole state is bound to keep its faith with separate communities. Otherwise competence and power would soon be confounded, and no law be left but the will of a prevailing force. On this principle the succession of the crown has always been what it now is, an hereditary succession by law: in the old line it was a succession by the common law; in the new by the statute law, operat­ing on the principles of the common law, not chang­ing the substance, but regulating the mode, and de­scribing the persons. Both these descriptions of law are of the same force, and are derived from an equal authority, emanating from the common agreement and original compact of the state, communi sponsione reipublicae, and as such are equally binding on king and people too, as long as the terms are observed, and they continue the same body politic.

It is far from impossible to reconcile, if we do not suffer ourselves to be entangled in the mazes of metaphysic sophistry, the use both of a fixed rule and an occasional deviation; the sacredness of an here­ditary principle of succession in our government, with a power of change in its application in cases of extreme emergency. Even in that extremity (if we take the measure of our rights by our exercise of them at the revolution) the change is to be confined to the peccant part only; to the part which produced the necessary deviation; and even then it is to be effected without a decomposition of the whole civil and political mass, for the purpose of originating a new civil order out of the first elements of society.

A state without the means of some change is with­out the means of its conservation. Without such [Page 172] means it might even risk the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction operated strongly at the two critical pe­riods of the restoration and revolution, when Eng­land found itself without a king. At both those pe­riods the nation had lost the bond of union in their antient edifice; they did not, however, dissolve the whole fabric. On the contrary, in both cases they regenerated the deficient part of the old constitution through the parts which were not impaired. They kept these old parts exactly as they were, that the part recovered might be suited to them. They acted by the antient organized states in the shape of their old organization, and not by the organic moleculoe of a disbanded people. At no time, perhaps, did the sovereign legislature manifest a more tender regard to that fundamental principle of British constitutional policy, than at the time of the revolution, when it deviated from the direct line of hereditary succession. The crown was carried somewhat out of the line in which it had before moved; but the new line was derived from the same stock. It was still a line of hereditary descent; still an hereditary descent in the same blood, though an hereditary descent qualified with protestantism. When the legislature altered the direction, but kept the principle, they shewed that they held it inviolable.

On this principle, the law of inheritance had ad­mitted some amendment in the old time, and long before the aera of the revolution. Some time after the conquest, great questions arose upon the legal principles of hereditary descent. It became a matter of doubt, whether the heir per capita or the heir per stirpes was to succeed; but whether the heir per ca­pita gave way when the heirdom per stirpes took place, or the catholic heir when the protestant was preferred, the inheritable principle survived with a sort of immortality through all transmigrations— [Page 173] multosque per annos slat fortuna domûs et avi numerantur avorum. This is the spirit of our constitution, not only in its settled course, but in all its revolutions. Whoever came in, or however he came in, whether he obtained the crown by law, or by force, the he­reditary succession was either continued or adopted.

The gentlemen of the society for revolutions see nothing in that of 1688 but the deviation from the constitution; and they take the deviation from the principle for the principle. They have little regard to the obvious consequences of their doctrine, though they must see, that it leaves positive authority in very few of the positive institutions of this country. When such an unwarrantable maxim is once established, that no throne is lawful but the elective, no one act of the princes who preceded their aera of fictitious election can be valid. Do these theorists mean to imitate some of their predecessors, who dragged the bodies of our antient sovereigns out of the quiet of their tombs? Do they mean to attaint and disable backwards all the kings that have reigned before the revolution, and consequently to stain the throne of England with the blot of a continual usurpation? Do they mean to invalidate, annul, or to call into question, together with the titles of the whole line of our kings, that great body of our statute law which passed under those whom they treat as usurpers? to annul laws of inestimable value to our liberties—of as great value at least as any which have passed at or since the period of the revolution? If kings, who did not owe their crown to the choice of their people, had no title to make laws, what will become of the statute de tullagio non concedendo?—of the petition of right?—of the act of habeas corpus? Do these new doctors of the rights of men presume to assert, that King James the Second, who came to the crown as next of blood, according to the rules of a then unqualified succession, was not to all intents and purposes a lawful king of England, before he had [Page 174] done any of those acts which were justly construed into an abdication of his crown? If he was not; much trouble in parliament might have been saved at the period these gentlemen commemorate. But King James was a bad king with a good title, and not an usurper. The princes who succeeded according to the act of parliament which settled the crown on the electress Sophia and on her descendants, being pro­testants, came in as much by a title of inheritance as King James did. He came in according to the law, as it stood at his accession to the crown; and the princes of the house of Brunswick came to the in­heritance of the crown, not by election, but by the law, as it stood at their several accessions of protestant descent and inheritance, as I hope I have shewn suf­ficiently.

The law by which this royal family is specifically destined to the succession, is the act of the 12th and 13th of King William. The terms of this act bind ‘"us and our heirs, and our posterity, to them, their heirs, and their posterity,"’ the declaration of right had bound us to the heirs of King William and Queen Mary. It therefore secures both an heredi­tary crown and an hereditary allegiance. On what ground, except the constitutional policy of forming an establishment to secure that kind of succession which is to preclude a choice of the people for ever, could the legislature have fastidiously rejected the fair and abundant choice which our own country presented to them, and searched in strange lands for a foreign princess, from whose womb the line of our future rulers were to derive their title to govern millions of men through a series of ages?

The Princess Sophia was named in the act of set­tlement of the 12th and 13th of King William, for a stock and root of inheritance to our kings, and not for her merits as a temporary administratrix of a power, which she might not, and, in fact, did not, herself ever exercise. She was adopted for one reason, [Page 175] and for one only, because, says the act, ‘"the most excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover, is daughter of the most excellent Princess Elizabeth, late Queen of Bohe­mia, daughter of our late sovereign lord King James the First, of happy memory, and is hereby de­clared to be the next in succession in the Protestant line," &c. &c.; "and the crown shall continue to the heirs of her body, being Protestants."’ This limitation was made by parliament, that through the Princess Sophia an inheritable line, not only was to be continued in future, but (what they thought very material) that through her it was to be connected with the old stock of inheritance in King James the First; in order that the monarchy might preserve an unbroken unity through all ages, and might be pre­served (with safety to our religion) in the old ap­proved mode by descent, in which, if our liberties had been once endangered, they had often, through all storms and struggles of prerogative and privilege, been preserved. They did well. No experience hrs taught us, that in any other course or method than that of an hereditary crown, our liberties can be regularly perpetuated and preserved sacred as our hereditary right. An irregular, convulsive movement may be necessary to throw off an irregular, convul­sive disease. But the course of succession is the healthy habit of the British constitution. Was it that the legislature wanted, at the act for the limita­tion of the crown in the Hanoverian line, drawn through the female descendants of James the First, a due sense of the inconveniencies of having two or three, or possibly more, foreigners in succession to the British throne? No!—they had a due sense of the evils which might happen from such foreign rule, and more than a due sense of them. But a more decisive proof cannot be given of the full conviction of the British nation, that the principles of the revolution did not authorize them to elect kings at their pleasure, and without any attention to the antient fundamental [Page 176] principles of our government, than their continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary Protestant succession in the old line, with all the dangers and all the inconve­niencies of its being a foreign line full before their eyes, and operating with the utmost force upon their minds.—Reflections on the Revolution in France.

KINGS Ought to bear the Freedom of Subjects that are obnoxious to them.

KINGS, even such as are truly kings, may and ought to bear the freedom of subjects that are ob­noxious to them. They may too, without derogating from themselves, bear even the authority of such per­sons if it promotes their service. Louis the XIIIth mortally hated the cardinal de Richlieu; but his sup­port of that minister against his rivals was the source of all the glory of his reign, and the solid foundation of his throne itself. Louis the XIVth, when come to the throne, did not love the cardinal Mazarin; but for his interests he preserved him in power. When old, he detested Louvois; but for years, whilst he faithfully served his greatness, he endured his person. When George II. took Mr. Pitt, who certainly was not agree­able to him, into his councils, he did nothing which could humble a wise sovereign. But these ministers, who were chosen by affairs, not by affections, acted in the name of, and in trust for, kings; and not as their avowed, constitutional, and ostensible masters.—Ibid.


LAWS are commanded to hold their tongues amongst arms; and tribunals fall to the ground with the peace they are no longer able to uphold.—Ibid.


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