Gambar halaman

they would have us believe, that this prerogative is not of a political, but a personal character. But the constitution and law of England know nothing of personal prerogatives; and if political, or legal prerogatives, be exercised " to the grievance or dishonour of the king“ dom, the parliament will call the advisers to a just “ and severe account;" for “ if discretionary power “ be abused to the public detriment, such prerogative is exercised in an unconstitutional manner.” 1 And the minister who should hold his office to the public injury, in defiance of public opinion, must unquestionably be considered as the king's adviser to continue him, and highly criminal as such; and to hold his office after a solemn address of either house of parliament, would as unquestiopably be an impeachable offence. Whenever therefore addresses shall manifest to the king, that in the opinion of his people, the continuing in his service any

of his ministers, would be “ to the grievance or dis" honour of the kingdom,” we may be well assured, his Majesty would remove such ministers, without waiting for addresses of a more solemn nature.

Now, with regard to the first of the two disastrous wars of this reign, that with America, the passions and prejudices which gave it birth, and so long continued it

to the grievance and dishonour of the kingdom,” having now subsided, the verdict of the nation, at this time decidedly condemns that war as having been, on the part of England, glaringly unjust in its principle, and equally unwise in the view of its policy; a pregnant instance for shewing the insolidity of the arguments in favour of reposing confidence in men, merely because our sovereign has made them ministers. The time however came, when the people, ceasing to have confidence in the author and conductor of the American war, their opinion was made known to his Majesty, and the minister was removed. In the opinion of Mr. Burke, there is a “ necessity of having some better reason, in

a free country, and a free parliament, for supporting the ministers of the crown, than that short one, That the king has thought proper to appoint them.

[ocr errors]

1 Blacks. Com. I. 252, 253, 272.

[ocr errors]

There is something very courtly in this. But it is a

principle pregnant with all sorts of mischief, in a " constitution like ours, to turn the views of active men “ from the country to the court."* Let then those inert children of patriotism, who now look on the removal of the present minister, during the continuance of the present reign, as a hopeless case, consider what sort of a compliment they pay the English constitution, and the English nation, and let them no longer talk nonsense, as an excuse for idleness,

* Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents: p. 46. Ed. 1770.



The true cause of either of these wars cannot be rightly explained, nor can we beneficially understand how they have jointly occasioned the present State of the Nation, without adverting to those principles of government, which sprung up near the throne, from the moment on which it was ascended by his present Majesty; principles which, in the same quarter, continue to this day in full force.

The defenceless condition to which English Liberty, and consequently English Property, through a decay of REPRESENTATION, was, in fact, at the time of the accession reduced, was but too clearly seen by those to whom we owe the principles of government to which I allude; and it required no more than their measure of capacity to discover, that here was ready prepared to their hands a lever, whereby, whatever stood in the way of their designs might be overturned, provided only those principles could be made to take root in the royal mind.“ PARLIAMENT was indeed the great object of “ all these politics, the end at which they aimed, as “ well as the instrument by which they were to oper



« ate."! To the double object, therefore of prejudicing the royal mind, and making parliament their instrument, all their art was directed, and all their powers of insinuation were applied. The two preceding soveteigns of the house of Brunswick, had for the most part kept near their persons, and taken into their counsels, distinguished individuals of those illustrious families, who, on constitutional principles, had favoured the call of their family to the throne; as indeed persons holding such principles, seemed the most proper supports

of throne so founded.

This whig ascendancy, was artfully represented as eclipsing royalty ; and, indeed every thing among the antient families savouring of united action, or of superior claims to consultation, was misrepresented as an incroachment on prerogative; and it was insinuated, that a king was no king, unless, according to the dictates of his personal will, he could elevate or depress, advance or discard, his ministers and official servants at his plea

How far a rooted prejudice against the persons of the Whigs, and by an easy transition against the prineiples of whigism, was in fact thus implanted, can only be judged of by experience ; but certain it is, íhat whig, or constitutional principles, have not found favour at court at any period of the present reign; and how long any whig minister, who did not abandon his principles, has been able to keep in place, need not be pointed out.

In a prince who receives wrong impressions, there may be no blame; opinion is involuntary; and indeed, considering the education of princes, it seems a sort of miracle, when they think justly on the subject of their own power : but heavy lies responsibility on those who,

either originally cause, or traitorously continue, any -violation of public right, which deprives the constitution of its conservative and controuling powers; as well as on those, who, under such circumstances of the constitution, through Aattery and falsehood, pervert the minds of princes, so as to endanger the very foundation of a good government, to the grievance and dishonour of the kingdom.

1 Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents, p. 66.

Those who took an early part in depreciating the natural and proper supports of legitimate sovereignty, in our limited government, and in misrepresenting them as improper checks and incroachments on the personal prerogatives of the sovereign, were pleased to stile themselves The king's friends, although others thought them the king's worst enemies. But the efficient few,

to whose sycophancy and insidious whisperings, the secret springs of court counsels were attributed, were not unaptly denominated the faction behind the throne.

Wise and generous statesmen, my Lord, contemplate the nation they govern as a moral soil, to be cultivated for the production of order, virtue, industry, art, science, genius, freedom, and happiness; ever considering taration, beyond what is necessary to those ends, as an evil; and peace, as a blessing to be sought and cherished with a pious care and solicitude: and it is material to observe, that it is not so much in a nation of superior science and virtue, as under a government of superior freedom, that such statesmen both naturally spring up, and as naturally become selected. Even in our own days, and in a nation by no means equal to our own in intellectual attainments, nor its superior in moral excellence, we have seen three such statesmen in succession, filling an uninterrupted period of more than twenty years, chosen to preside in quality of supreme magistrate over several millions of men, and the largest territory in the world, in the persons of Washington, Adams,1 and Jefferson ; and, when we reflect on the genuine and substantial representation in their parliaments, which the American people enjoy, it is extremely difficult to imagine, how any statesman of a different description should ever be placed at the head of their affairs.

Of an opposite character to such men as these, there is a gross-minded, and sordid kind of state rulers, forstatesmen they cannot be called,—who contemplate the moral condition of a people, with no other view than that of securing their obedience ; and the intellectual or physical capacities of a nation, no otherwise

1 See his character in de Rochfaucault Liancourt's Travels. II.

p. 124.

than as they can be made productive of taxes and mercenary soldiers ; of such state rulers, war is the favourite employment, because to them and their supporters it is gainful. In whatever country men of this stamp. bear sway, there can be no such thing, be forms and appearances what they may, as real legislative representation

Immediately after the peace of 1763, the faction behind the throne, immoral and short sighted, greedy and rash, eagerly sought to establish an extensive and fruitful scheme of revenue, by taxing America in the parliament of the mother country; in which the colonists had not any representation ;1 and the system in the year following was still improved upon by the passing of their famous Stamp Act ;2 when, in consequence of the tempest which thereupon immediately blew from across the Atlantic, these snail-like spoilers, whose feelers were then more tender and sensible than they have since been, instantly shruuk back within their shell, until the storm should blow over, and they might again sally forth to devour.

But, that the consistency of the faction might be preserved, and the Whigs be betrayed into measures that should at once injure their own reputation as friends of liberty, aud sanction the favourite system, a hypocritical affectation was played off at court, as if the faction aud their principles had fallen into disfavour, and the reins of government were put into the hands of the Marquis of Rockingham. The new ministry, intent on favouring freedom by substantial acts, and to that end not even refusing to flatter despotism by what they might think mere empty words, readily accompanied their repeal of the Stamp Act with the passing of the Declaratory Act;3 by wħich means, in the same breath that they denied the expediency, they asserted the right, of an English parliament to tax an American people. Thus were the Whigs not only made the cat's paw for putting out the colonial fire, but duped also into the fatal measure, of laying down by act of parliament, a false and

1 See 4 Geo. III. c. 15; also Appeal civ. and mil. on Constitution, p. 9. 2 5 Geo. III. c. 12. 3 6 Geo. III. c. 12.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »