« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
selves around, to promote and watch over the county movements; and let the honest and the ardent every where unfurl “ the spirit stirring" banner of the constia tution, and lead on to victory!.
But I see the lazy and the lukewarm seeking in dreams and phantoms an apology for inaction ; and I hear them as ignorantly as ignobly descanting on the peoples' fears.-The PEOPLES fears!—THE PEOPLE HAVE NO FEARS, but of the farther accumulation of taxes and oppressions, of the continuanee of the borough system, and the Pitt ministry. Away with these dreams and phantoms that haunt the imaginations of degenerate Englishmen?What! A reform that is to restore the sacred birth-right of REPRESENTATION, an object of fear !—The only means under heaven of preserving LIBERTY, an object of fear !—The sole security for PROPERTY, an object of fear !Do the cotempor aries of a Cornwallis, a Nelson, a St. Vincent, at the call of duty, talk of fear? Will the dread of shame and contempt, now silence the old snake in the grass, the pretended Whig? Or will he still labour in his base vocation? Should he now say, unless you can insure an universal and overpowering moveinent, stir not at all; unless you call into action the great mass of the na. tion, you will do more harm than good ; the people you see are backward in the cause; and until they shall generally petition for the reform more urgently than heretofore, you will be premature, and it will be prudent to lie quiet; answers are ready. To a proposed resis, tence of arms, this counsel would be friendship ; lo a resistance of argument and opinion, 'tis treachery, 'In this case, sleep and silence are insanity. Each additional day of acquiescence in usurpation, is an additional link in slavery's vile chain. Vicious ambition, in wars of the sword, as seems to be our danger in India, is oft weakened by success, and ruined by victory ; whereas, on the contrary, in wars of reason, while contending for constitutional rights, from the very warfare itself, independent of early success, we gather Herculean strength; temporary defeats, arouzing the powers of thought, and sympathies of feeling, infuse new vigour and animation, insuring to our perseverance final suca cess ; shall we argue, that, because a bow is unstrung and lies quiet in the armonry, it has therefore lost its elasticity? Are we to pronounce it bad, and unfit for use, because it does not string itself? Where are they who have a right to reproach the people with backwardness? And who shall find fault with those who ought to follow, because they do not lead? Or, do we reason aright, when, in the cause of Liberty, and the high concerns of the constitution, we wait for the illiterate, to instruct the learned ; the tenant to push forward his lord ; or the private, to summon to the field of battle his general ? Of what value are experienced generals, powerful lords, or the learned, if not to watch while others sleep ; if not to mark even the distant appearance of public mischief, while undiscerned by the busy world; if not, as it draws near, to give the alarm ; if not, when the constitution is endangered through deceitful counsels or treacherous acts, to defeat and expose the villany, to enlighten first, and then arouze the people in its defence? Those who are by nature, by Tank and fortune, the proper leaders of a people, must have ill employed their time, if, when despotism is in full march, they cannot, on the stamp of a foot, or the wave of a hand, call in an instant around them ten thousand patriots, as the vanguard of resistance.
Of the innate force and gratifying nature of the principle of parliamentary reformation, we may form some estimate, when we call back to our remembrance, the darkest period of the Pitt despotism, and recollect that even then, in the very midnight of that disgraceful season, in the year 1797, on the second of Mr. Grey's motions for reform, the minority's division, small as it was in comparison of better times, yet was by far the greatest division, that any question called forth in the house of commons of several years; and when we compare the wretched speaking and nefarious voting of Mr. Pitt and his associates on that occasion, with the glorious flood of eloquence poured forth by Mr. Fox, we know what must be the triumph of the question, in every un. influenced assembly of Englishmen. If when the na. tion, as though stupified by the potent spell of some necromancer, then lay prostrate at the feet of the ty•
rant, such was the power of this principle, what must now be its expansive force !
The patriot great, qualified for the pilotage of the state, have for some time past had their conferences. Naturally expecting, as the result of public meetings at this awful period, a national call to the helm,they doubtless, as was the case when the patriots of 1782, had similar consultations, have arranged in readiness, heads of constitutional points to be insisted on, in case their services should be demanded by their sovereign. On the occasion alluded to, the principal terms proposed to his majesty through Lord Thurlow, on which Lord Rockingham and his friends would engage in administration, were,
“ The independence of America: no veto;
« General peace, if to be had ! * The Duke of Richmond, on seeing the conditions « above mentioned, had observed, that no mention was “ made of A REFORM OF PARLIAMENT, and proposed, “ as an additional stipulation, that the discussion of that “ subject in parliament should be agreed to, which " Lord Rockingham' consented to ;" but when Mr. Wyvill, to whom that noble Lord communicated these particulars, asked if he might represent his Lordship as a general well-wisher to the cause of a parliamentary reformation, “ he did not receive any clear and de“ cisive answer.”1 This conversation it seems passed on the very day when, as I have already stated, Lord Rockingham's private secretary informed me, of his Lordship’s having forgotten the day, when this great question was to be discussed; namely, the day following that of the debate. .
How much, (unfortunately for his country,) the ear of that virtuous nobleman, had been poisoned by the pernicious doctrines of a pretended whig, we see from the original form of the memorandum of terms, in which stood Mr. Burke's BILL, but NO REFORM OF PARLIA
1 Wyvill's polit. pa. III. 355.
ment! Other noblemen, who have lived to make a true estimate of the Hibernian reformation of that period, will take care, we trust, to shun the rock on which Lord Rockingham split! How much of a piece at all times have been the palsying counsels and the insipid patriotism of pretended whigs! They were as busy in 1688, as in 1782; they deprived the political food provided at the revolution of the salt that would have kept it from putrefaction, to the end of time; so that in less than seven years, it had a very ill savour ; in little more than twenty,rottenness had reached the bone; and, before the end of the century, this boasted nutriment of English liberty, was dissolved into a mass of corruption.
“ The subjects which are protestants, may have “ arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, « and as allowed by law. The election of members of “ parliament ought to be free ; and for redress of all “ grievances, and for amending, strengthening, and " preserving of the laws, parliaments ought to be held " frequently !!!”
. Nostrum of 1688. “ The contractors' bill; the revenue officers bill, Mr. « Burke's bill !!!"
· Nostrum of 1782. But as the state physicians of 1805 mean, I trust, to be either, “ a wise and virtuous administration," or none at all; and rather to sacrifice their own personal ambition, than to see “ the liberty of the nation,” sacrificed to the crown; and as they know that “, without a parliamentary reformation that liberty CANNOT be preserved, and the permanence of such an administration CANNOT be secured ;” so we may confidently assure ourselves, that the first article of their conditions of serving, and a șine qua non of holding the reins of the executive government, will be A REFORM OF PARLIAMENT.
An agreement to “the discussion,” is NOTHING. Well, if not worse than nothing. As one person once forgot to muster all his dependents; so another may forget to command his vassals. Should a “ discussion" end like the discussion" of 1782, what is the consequence ? Ministers must either resign their places or their honour. They cannot serve God and mammon. They cannot at the same time serve their country and the
borough faction. If that faction is to remain, the new ministers must either deliver up the people again, to the iron rod of the unprincipled apostate, or they themselves must become apostates as base ; for “á wise and virtuous administration,” the borough faction will never endure : indeed it cannot. When fire and water come in contact, they cannot exist together; the fire either Jicks up the water and continues to burn; or the water prevails, and puts out the fire. But if the proper con. ditions be entered into; if it be agreed, that the matter of reform shall be left in the hands of the minister, to be disposed of as he pleases, we know that he may then equally despise the faction behind the throne and the faction of the boroughs ; and that the standing army of parliamentary mercenaries may be broken, disbanded, and dispersed with contempt. If he have carte blanche; he cannot be resisted. If he be firm and steady to his own honour and to the people, he cannot be counteracted, without having in his hands the honourable means of counteracting counteraction, and triumphing over perfidy.
To know that PARLIAMENTARY REFORMATION is a sine qua non with a patriotic opposition,would be highly gratifying to the people. For a call into action the people are impatient; an efficient staff at head quarters they desire to see ; and to be well officered wherever they shall stand forth, is their wish. The rest belongs to themselves, and they are ready for their duty. Emulous of their naval brethren who incessantly seek, and know how to subdue, the combined enemies of their country at sea ; the people at land, desire only to meet, that they may subdue, the combined enemies of their free. dom. There is no need to metamorphose a single parish officer into a recruiting serjeant : at the voice of the sheriffs,the people will repair to their Runnimeads, to hew the borough fiend in pieces before the spirit of the constitution, as “ Samuel hewed Agag in pieces be
fore the Lord in Gilgal.” The same indignant mind which lately exhorted to chop off an offending claw, still breathes and burns for a completion of the work ; for the annihilation of the criminal system.