« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
fallen into an almost complete oblivion with the pub. lic ; although that Essay ought to have been known, and I presume must have been known to Mr. Pitt ; who also, from his legal education, could not without shame have been ignorant of the military branch of our constitution.
But this minister, instead of adding to our strength, by restoring to its full vigour the civil branch of our constitution, was then treacherously adding to its decay, by elevating the principal borough holders to the peerage, and thus rendering the House of Commons more and more dependent upon the House of Lords, more and more a shadow and mockery of popular representation ; and instead of augmenting our military energies, by fully restoring the military branch of the constitution, he left that as he found it, treacherously sacrificed to court policy; since which, as the urgent demands of war came upon him, he substituted for a revival in this respect of the constitution, his tricking dishonourable plans, which gave such just offence to our commanders of militia; as well as his other unconstitutional novelty, for converting all the parish officers in the kingdom into serjeants and crimps for raising a mercenary army; a project which has deservedly been the object of satire and ridicule.
But notwithstanding the treachery of the minister in going to war, without at the same time restoring the constitutional energies of our government, civil and military, yet, compared with all the nations under the old governments of Europe, England had at that period in her bosom so much of the spirit of liberty, as in comparison with them, gave her a far more energetic character; and her commerce gave her a navy and wealth ; so that she was still too great and too formidable to be driven into a war against her will. What but a very short time antecedent to the war was her power compared with that of France, we have already seen, by the fearful, anxious, secret embassy from the French to the English court; and what the minister thought of the power of France, at the time he joined the confederacy,we may understand from the threats and the boasts of which he was then so lavish ; as well as
from the schemes of dismemberment and partition, and even of subversion and political annihilation, then so much talked of; from whence, and from all the circumstances of the case, including the frauds complained of by Lord Stanhope, and the whole of the supercilious and insolent treatment of the ambassador Chauvelin, the pretence that England, comparatively great and powerful as she was, could not avoid the war without dishonour, must be rejected with indignation, as the most daring falsehood ever attempted to be imimpused upon mankind.
Now, my Lord, having dismissed the circumstances which led to, and which were attendant on the con: mencement of the war, we are come to the consideration of those which have followed.
BUT my mind revolts from the horrid spectacle; my pen shrinks from the calamitous detail of particulars. Brief, therefore, shall be the sketch : it is not indeed an historian we want, but a political moralist and legislator ; not so much a narrative of our miseries, as a discovery of their causes,and of proper means and laws for their future prevention; and until these tasks shall be undertaken by others better qualified for the perfor-mance, even my humble endeavours may possibly be useful. In speaking of the state of the nation, neither external nor accidental circumstances otherwise enter into my contemplation, than as mere trifles compared with those, which, if I may so speak, are internal to the constitution itself, and essential to its preservation. Now, as fertility springs from putrefaction, and as we perpetually see in the inscrutable laws, and workings
of Divine Providence, good arising ont of evil, so, from the very wickedness of the war's origin, and the necessities growing out of its direful continuance, together with its multiplied evil consequences, we shall discover important good ones already in part experienced, and others equally good made so manifest, that it is reason: ably to be presumed, unless the nation be abandoned of heaven, and its final doom be decreed, it will avail itself of its experience to restore its own health, strength and prosperity.
If we see the war to have originated in corrruption, profligacy, and despotism, is it no gain, no benefit, that we can trace the evil to its source ? that, knowing our disease, we know our cure ? that discovering the evil to have its root in the court and borough factions, we have a demonstration of the necessity of a parliamentary reformation ? that as he who is nominally the minister of the crown, is in reality the minister of the factions, he must be divested of power, to make way for a minister more constitutional. If in the prosecu- . tion of this war, the court and borough factions, unrepresented as we are in parliament, have oppressed us with an infinity of taxes, and laid on us an additional burthen of between three and four hundred millions, making the whole under which we now groan, between six and seven hundred millions, are we not practically instructed in the excellence of that constitutional principle which says, there shall be no taxation without representation? If, after the shameful neglect for centuries of the military branch of our constitution, and the corrupt, despotic, and enormously expensive policy of raising upon its ruins a standing mercenary army, for the destruction of liberty, have we gained nothing by a war, the dangers and necessities of which has given us a force of four hundred thousand FREE men in arms? Have we gained nothing in discovering the impossibility of any mercenary defence, and that our security at last depends upon an armed population ? Have we gained nothing in our attention, having ilius been called to the military branch of our constitution,and in learning the necessity of its being“ restored to full Śs vigour and energy ?”
In speaking, my Lord, of the military branch of the constitution, I may not at first be understood by: apy but by the gentleman who reads law with a statesman's eye, particularly such as may have studied the valuable writings of Mr. Granville Sharp; the tract of Sir William Jones, entitled “ An Inquiry into the legal " means of suppressing Riots, with a constitutional plan “ of future defence ;" and such essays as “ The Appeal « civil and military, on the English Constitution, and “ England's Ægis; or the military energies of the Em“ pire.” Suffice it at present to say, that in the plans of military men without constitutional knowledge, we have nothing to expect, but plans, which, in proportion as they should defend our lands, would annihilate our liberties; and that in those, we have received from ministers we have to lament such evasions of the constitution as betray the cloven foot of the faction behind the throne. Those ministers, my Lord, ought to know, that it was no exaggeration when, six years ago, I said of the military system found in the military branch of our constitution, that“ it holds a glorious pre-eminence over “ every other military system of human invention";"1 and they ought to have restored that system, instead of giving us in its stead a lame imitation, and a fraudful evasion of it; a wretched piece of temporary patchwork, which, as soon as they could patch up a peace was to crumble again to dust; whereby the volunteers were to be dissolved and disarmed, and the nation again committed to the keeping of those worst of goalers, a standing mercenary army.
The mountebank motley of plans and projects, of frauds and deceits, and the trickings even of a swindling complexion, for obtaining a disposable force, which justly gave so much offence to those who had commands in the militia, were disgraceful to an English government; and, towards perfecting our military system, ought to be held to be just as wide of rectitude, honesty, and good sense, as the despicable quackery of pretending to cure our state corruptions, by any thing in the
1 Appeal, civ, and mil. on the Const. iv,
shape of an act of parliament for reforming the offices pertaining to the navy and army. Trusting, however, that the . Appeal,” and “ England's Ægis,” have in no small degree tended to communicate constitutional knowledge on the subject, as well as to correct and to counteract military errors, it is my intention shortly to publish to the latter the addition of a second part.
IT is needless, my Lord, to look farther into the state of the nation, than to discover and to mark the decays of our CONSTITUTION civil and military. Repair those decays, and all will soon be well: every thing else will follow, as the cart, to use a homely phrase, follows the horse that draws ic: but when we see the cart before the horse, we are reminded of the bubble, in which the people gave their money to see a horse with his head where his tail should be, and we know that fraud and deception are at work. When, before we have a reform of parliament, we see bills of official reform, and for new commissions of inquiry, in the hands of Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Rose, we see the cart before the horse ; and with Junius, we must“ feel an involuntary emotion within ourselves to guard against mischief;"
Had not such statutes and such commissions been repeatedly tried and found wanting, I might have had faith in them. At present I have none. Like the nostrums of a quack, they repel the corrupt tumours of a corrupt body, but they neither purify the habit, nor preserve the constitution; they only drive the hunour out of sight to prey upon the vital energies. Decayed as is the representative faculty of the body politic, and corrupt as is become the source of legislation, there can be no cure without going to the root of the evil,