« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
been. But -now that time and the tenth report have convinced us, that this man's origin was as earthly as that of any other politician's, and indeed that the clay of which he is made is none of the best, or purest; and when all the grievous and melancholy consequence of his anti-reforming war have been seen, and telt, and are still foreseen in dreadful anticipation, it is possible that a time is come, when our alarmists, who by their fatal error made themselves so instrumental to the mischiefs he has brought upon us, may give a patient hearing to a few expostulatory questions. I would therefore ask of them, ist. If it was inconsistent with the good of the empire, that reforms in the decayed and corrupted representation of the people in parliament, and in the duration of parliaments, for which patriotic men had for many years contended, should then have been adopted and made law?
2d. Unless those reforms shall be so adopted and made law, is it possible that political liberty can, in this country, have any existence, or property any se. curity?
3d. Had parliament, prior to the war of 1793, passed an act for the admission of all taxable householders to the elective franchise, for equalizing among them the national representation, for simplifying the elections, and for so protecting the voters as to secure a perfect freedom of election, and to have made parliaments annual, while at the same time it prevented expence ; would not the goveroment have still had in their hands the same law, with a sufficient army, a sufficient navy, and a sufficient revenue, for defending themselves, if necessary, against Thomas Paine? And would it not have been as feasible a project, as that of making a conquest of France?
4th. Had such a legislative reform taken place, filling the land with joy and gladness, establishing the liberties of England on the most solid base, and far eclipsing, in the eyes of all who understand the constitution, the glories of Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights, would any soul have regarded either the sense, or the nonsense of Thomas Paine ? or would he
himself ever have thought of circulating a single pamphlet in this country?
5th. And, in a pecuniary point of view, would it not have been as much to the credit of “ the first financier in the world,” to have promoted such a reform, which with but decent management in ministers, would have enabled us to have discharged in a dozen or fifteen years, the whole national debt then subsisting; as to have rushed into a war for the
preventing such a reform; a war that has already made that debt between six and seven hundred millions?
6th. Let our alarmists, I say, lay their hands on their hearts, and as honest men answer these few questions. Will Mr. Windham? Will Lord Grenville? Will Lord Spencer? Will any man pretending a knowledge of, and a regard for our constitution, now argue against a reform in our representation? Will these, or any men now tell the nation it ought not to have such means of self-defence against despotism in its ministers, or corruption in its parliaments? These I have named, (and I name them for no unfriendly purpose) are prac. tised statesmen; but if not yet convinced of the necessity of this reformation in the state, they have been statesmen to little purpose, and are beyond the reach of even experience itself in conferring wisdom. If they are to this moment ignorant of the vital principle of the English constitution, they cannot be qualified for an English cabinet. Is it possible that they should know the principle, and yet not respect it? Is it possible they could act a part which should effectually disentitle them to any respect from an English people ?
From the steadiness, however, with which these persons have resisted all the attempts for re-uniting then once more in a cabinet with Mr. Pitt and apostacy, corruption and treachery, we must hope they have not only ceased to think with that political impostor, but have likewise seen their own errors; those errors which hurried them from the virtyous and peaceful courses of constitutional reformation, into a frantic war against the liberties of their country and of mankind: we must hope that visiting recollections since their retirement, will have rendered them incapable of ever lending their names to a revival of the stale and shameless imposture, of mere official economy for the purpose of " baffling" that reform which can alone redress the grievances of a much and long suffering nation : we must hope they will not repeat the insulting trash, of the security, the perpetual operation, the sta. bility, the eternity, and the impossibility of failure in
mere regulation of those offices which are the pipes that empty the exchequer, while the pipes that empty the pockets of the people into that ever-yawning gulf, are left to run with a perpetually increasing stream!
I have intentionally called by name upon Earl Spencer, Lord Grenville, and Mr. Windham, because the nation has had cause to mark in these ex-ministers, a long course of ardent and active hostility to the con. STITUTION ; an hostility which has in no small degree, if they in council were of any weight, brought our country into its present situation. The people of England have a strong claim to know from these persons, apparently desirous of returning to official situations, if they have “ turned them from their evil way."ı Do they, or do any of them, deny that represeNTATION, as in this work explained, is the CONSTITUTION? If on this question they are willing to enter the lists, there will be no want of combatants.
Although a child in prowess to that champion who, against the monster despotism, once took up the “defence of the people of England;" ? yet, putting on armour of Albion,” s which, in a political view, is "the armour of light,” 4 even I, the humblest knight in the service of that peerless English princess, sweet Liberty, besitate not to throw down the gauntlet; and to proclaim through the regions of chivalry, that my mistress is the most fair, most chaste, most lovely of all the princely daughters of Europe ; and that her proper, characteristic attire, and which alone can display her heavenly form to advantage, or preserve her charms to immortality, is the transparent robe of representation, which, playfully as it flows, changes its vivid hues, as changes the ever-varying face of heaven. If the valorous Windham and his companions, or any other discourteous knights, dare gainsay what I advance, let them come on, spear in hand. Whether the adverse knights shall be three, or three hundred, or three thousaud, is matter of indifference. If truth be on my side, my antagonists must be overthrown. But, all gaiety apart, I am seriously of opinion, my Lord, that, after the part these statesmen so long acted, when colleagues of Mr. Pitt, and Lord Melville, it is not enough that they should coolly become candidates again for power, without explanation; but that they owe it to their country, as gentlemen, as men of honour and probity, in this awful crisis of her affairs, explicitly to declare themselves on this great question, on which her very existence depends.
1 Jer. 23, 22.
3 Trident, 5%.
4 Rom. 13, 12, 1 See p. 63 and Mr. Burke's Thoughts on the cause of the pre sent discontents, p. 57. 1770.
What imports it indeed that the expenditure of office be accounted for to a farthing, .if that expenditure may be just what it shall please a faction, who do not desire that it should be a farthing less than can be extorted from the people by such a financier as Mr. Pitt? What imports it that the offices should be as pure as snow, if parliament should be as corrupt as putrid carrion?! What imports it that the scratches of private peculation, and the petty wounds of official abuse, be ever so oft bound up by such plastering reforms as Mr Burke's, if kings and ministers are to be under no constitutional controul, but may when they please tear open the bleeding arteries of war and profusion ? 2 What combination of such reforms could have prevented either of the two destructive and treasure-wasting wars of the present reign, which have been waged against the constitution, and the liberties, and the purses of the nation.
Had we wanted proof of the mockery of reforming the offices with a view 10 economy wbile parliament - remains unreformed, we bave it in the Atholl job; which, for its rankness, and for the indecency of bringing it forward at the moment the whole nation was
2 See his speech on economy, P: 90. 1780.
complaining of the waste of public money, and its have ing been driven through both houses of parliament as it were in defiance of public opinion, while its author was under impeachment for other jobs, exceeds every thing we could have imagined possible, even to the effrontery of a Melville or the audacity of a Pitt. Parliament indeed, imposed on by the factions, having passed a statute in favour of the grant applied for, that statute must now be treated with respect; but we may still complain of its injustice, and pray its repeal. Nor are we precluded from noticing the conduct of individuals, or of factions concerned in obtaining the law. From the best sources of information, we are warranted in believing it to be a fact, that the Atholl rights in the Isle of Man were sold to the public, and fully paid for “ on or before 1st. June 1765," at which time the sum of 1.70,000 was given for the same. It is so stated in 5th. Geo: III. c. 26. being “An act for carrying in“ to execution a CONTRÀCT made, pursuant to the
act of parliament of the 12th. of his late majesty
George the first,1 between the commissioners of his “ Majesty's treasury and the Duke and Dutchess of “ Atholl the proprietors of the isle of Man, and their " trustees, for the purchase of the said Island and its “ dependencies, under certain exceptions therein par« ticularly mentioned." Those exceptions in favour of the Atholl family are the patronage of two bishoppricks, and of every ecclesiastical benefice or promotion; all manorial rights, and rights of soil, and private property
of every kind, expressed in a very long and particular enumeration; the same to be holden of the king by honorary service, of rendering two falcons af every coronation, and a yearly rent of 1.101. 15. 11. Here then is
CONTRACT,” into which the family certainly were not hurried, nor by the terms of which were taken by surprize, for they had it seems, deliberated for forty years, that is, from 1725, to 1765, before they finally contracted; which then was done with the most precise enumerazion of particulars, calculated to a penny, ratified by an aot of parliament, and now
1 Chap. 28, passed in 1725.