Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Had I not other and substantial grounds for my opimion, still I should thus argue, because I am a man and an Englishman, because I have the same nature, and was born to the same constitutional inheritance, as other men and other Englishmen. If I feel accord ing to the law of my nature, and reason according to the principles of the constitution, I know that such feeling and such reasoning must, by being known, become general. That those principles may gaiu on this occasion applicable method and force, I have, as you see, my Lord," written a book;" which “mine adversary," and the adversary of the constitution I hope will endeavour to decry; for next to the commendation of those who value that constitution, the enmity of base men who set about to destroy it, is the most desirable praise ; and I shall not easily be persuaded that

my

book merits this praise, unless it shall incur that enmity.

I write at a period, and on a subject, when the suc'cess of my book will have comparatively little dependence on reviewers of any description. Unless anticonstitutional reviewers can prevent the patriotism of the country appearing in public meetings, to abuse my book will stand them in little stead. If in the terse form of popular resolutions, public virtue shall circulate its principles, the instruction, the spirit will be electrically felt by every man without exception who either reads or thinks. I shall have gained my end, if I shall have contributed to give method and force to the proceedings of early meetings. If good they will be taken as models by those that follow; and the flame of reform will burst out, first here and then there, till it run through the nation. At every new burst of the patriotic fire, public spirit will grow more and more ardent, more and more conscious of its powers.

A mere book might obtain the approbation of honest men, who sighing over the state of the nation, and breathing useless wishes for amendment might lay it down again in despair: but if DUKES OF BEDFORD, if the leaders and luminaries of their country, in the genuine spirit of English liberty, energetically promote on the same principles popular meetings through the land, then, in the shape of resolutions, those princi

ples are instantly changed from a dead letter to a living spirit. No longer the mere opinions of an individual, attended with doubts of practicability, -ceasing to be unembodied notions of desirable things little to be hoped for, and becoming real operative acts of our fellow-citizens with whom we are in perfect sympathy, they are now examples we burn to imitate, and deeds we are emulous to excel; they are sanctions supporting us in our duty against corrupt influence exerted to de ter and to destroy us; assurances that our rights shall no longer be with-holden, nor our property be transferred to a usurping faction; they are pledges that an English people shall no more be insulted by official ar rogance, and that the time is at hand when their moral feelings shall not be shocked, nor their sense of decency outraged, by spectacles of loathsome prostitution in a house, which ought to be an unsullied object of their respect and veneration : in short, virtuous resolutions of public meetings, are the efficacious stimulants to patriot exertion, and the healthful gales that waft the purifying flame of constitutional reformation, and a reviving public spirit, over a drooping nation.

In generating a spirit of patriotism, public political meetings, provided they be honestly dealt with by those who 'propose the subjects of consideration, and the matter be judiciously stated, infinitely surpass parliamentary debates. These carried on by persons with whom the mass of society are not on a level, and heard only at second hand, excite, except on very critical occasions, but an imperfect sympathy; whereas those, in which the people themselves are the actors, have every requisite for causing the most powerful enthusiasm. He who personally listens, who personally applauds, and votes, and is the aclual associate of the champions of liberty, and a real principal in the deliverance of his country, shares and feels, and tastes the glory of the triumph.

Not believing in any surrender of a besieged tyrant driven by his crimes to desperation; or in any conquest except that of direct breach, and storm, and overpow, ering force; so I hold it to have been fortunate that

[ocr errors]

the Addington part of the ministry has retired, since now a powerful association of ideas, and all circumstances alike will conspire to arouse an injured people; for in the person of the commander of the body to be attacked, must not the nation see at once the supple slave of the Faction behind the throne, the vile instrument of the faction of the Boroughs, and the unprincipled apostate from reforming virtue ; who is equally an enemy of the Crown, an enemy of the constitution, and an enemy of his country?

LETTER XXVII.

My Lord,

IMPAT

MPATIENT as Mr. Pitt and the factions have been for the call of the French armies from the coast to the Rhine, their joy at this event may find a sad counterbalance of disappointment, in its effectually silencing them, as to the unfitness of the time now chosen for making a reform of parliament, and a removal of ministers, subjects of public discussion.

Invasion being now removed to a distance, their objections to the time must now be the mere. repetition of nonsense a thousand times urged, and a thousand times refuted: and to us this diversion of the French armies furnishes an interval of repose peculiarly favourable to our un. dertaking; an interval which we shall be greatly deficient in our public duty if we neglect..

We live, my Lord, in awful times; and we seem by this very event, to be warned by Providence to provide ere it be too late, for our ultimate security, by a complete revival of our constitution, in all its energies, civil andmilitary. After several years of war and bloodshed, which

[ocr errors]

have annihilated a French monarchy, raised up a French republic, then an oligarchy, and finally an empire, and which have been so fruitful of changes to other kingdoms and states, Europe is probably but in the begining of her political convulsions. When her combined despotisms attempted to devour the new born liberty of France, the babe, for their punishment, was miraculously changed into a serpent of their own species, more potent than they; and its now swallowing them all, would be a less miracle than its own origin.

What, in that case, or in the event of the new confederacy being foiled and laid prostrate, must be our situation if not previously armed at every point? Can any patriot statesman look forward to such a possibility, and not honestly join in restoring the constitution to full vigour and energy, by a rigid adherence to its genuine principles? Evasions, or palliatives, of whatever kind, or from whatever quarter, must be the very dotage of folly, or the last excess of faction; they must be either causes of our contempt, or objects of our detestation. All in turn appeal to the constitution. They alone are not impostors, who really make it the guide of their actions. Your Grace and Mr. Fox, and Mr. Grey, stand on a rock of adamant. On that rock, in the cause of parliamentary reformation, you may

wield the democracy of England,and save your country both from France, and from a worse enemy. Be firm and you must succeed.

If in this second continental coalition, there be less of wickedness, than in the first, are we sure there is more wisdom? On the former'occasion, the attempt was encouraged, by France exhibiting the weakness of a child with ihe ignorance of a sans-culotte; she is now known to possess the strength of a giant, wearing the head of a Machiavel and the arm of a Cæsar. Have her opponents gathered strength from defeat, or .caught enthusiasm from humiliation! Is England after expending about three hundred millions, and being put under the necessity of taxing the income of the land owner, the capital of the trader, and the salt of the poor; and remaining still subject to a profligate paste of her resources in jobs and peculation, now better able to subsidize their mercenaries than at the first onset ?

By the admirers of this new enterprize, a stress was at first laid upon directing the war personally against the new Emperor and King; of exciting desertion from his standard, and civil war against his sovereignty; and upon offering the people of France a Bourbon in exchange for a Buonaparte. I should as soon, I confess, attempt to seduce a French soldier, by offering him an emetic, in exchange for his brandy; or to excite a French peasant to rebel, by telling bim he might become a Bohemian or a Muscovite slave, ranking with the cattle on the estate, instead of what he is ; a native of the great nation, who probably considers war from Austria as the rebellion of a vassal state. To Mr. Pitt, on the principles upon which in 1793, he rushed into the war, this new confederation will be a subject of boast, and a straw he will catch at in his despair to prevent sinking by his personal demerits; but, on the principles which attach me to the constitution of England, according to iny views of the '" deliverance of Europe," advice similar to that I have always given my country, I should have given to the governments of Austria and Russia, Sweden and Germany ; ' Stay at home until you have given political li

berty to all your states, and put arms into the hands * of all your people. If, after that, you take post on

the frontier of France, Frenchmen may then possibly • discover that they are slaves, and that you are their friends. But, having once done as I advise, you will • certainly be saved the trouble and expence of a mili

tary march; because you will have gained the hearts ' of your own subjects; and have made their countries ' worth defending by themselves, and impenetrable to

an enemy: the charm, by which France has now the • means of mischief, will be dissolved; the spell of her • inchartments will be broken ; when she cannot over* turn or annoy other states, her activity and ambition I must find its exercise in the improvement of her own, ' and in a rivalship in the arts and ornaments of peace; " and the good you are now so generous as to propose

doing the French nation, by improving their government, at the expence of the lives and fortunes of your

[ocr errors]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »