Gambar halaman

without removing the cause of the malady; and I say with Mr. Burke, “ I am quite clear, that if we do not “ go to the very origin and first ruling cause of grievances, we do nothing :" until reformation shall reach the house of Commons itself, all pretences of cure are imposture and mockery. ". What does it sig. “ nify to promote æconomy' upon a measure, and to “ suffer it to be subverted in the principle ?”1

Such was the former im posture of Mr. Pitt himself, when, in 1785, he gave you, instead of one statute for parliamentary, two for official reformation ; such the imposture of him who, in the same year, gave you that very Navy Pay Office statute, for the gross violation of which by himself, he is now impeached; a statute in which he seems to have outwitted hiwself, as it was so loosely worded, that he now tells the House of Commons it was not intended to forbid that which they charge upon him as a crime! and such also the imposture of Mr. Burke himself, one of whose direct purposes in the official reforms he so paradingly introduced was 10bafflethe friends of a parliamentary reforination. “ I would persuade,” says he, “a resistance “ both to the corruption and to the reformation, that

prevails, It will not be weaker but much stronger for “ combatting both together. A victory over real corrup“tions would enable us to baffle the spurious the pretend« ed reformations.”2 I do not claim half the merit for “ what I did, as for what I prevented from being done.” This is the man, who, so long ago as 1774, in reply to a sophistical argument for taxing America by an English parliament, had indignantly replied,—" He says, so that if they are not free in their present state, Engļand is not free ; because Manchester and other « considerable places, are not represented. So then, “ because some towns in England are not represented, « America is to have no representation at all. They “ are our children ; but when children ask for bread, we « are not to give a stone. Is it because the natural re“sistance of things, and the various mutations of time,

1 Speech on securing the Independence of parliament, p. 18, 2 Letter to Elliott, vol. vii. 368, 3 Letter to a Noble Lord, 23.

« hinders our government, or any government from being any more than a sort of approximation to the « right, is it therefore that the colonies are to recede « from it infinitely? When this child of ours wishes to « assimilate to its parent, and to reflect with a true filial reverence the beauteous countenance of British liber“ ty ; are we to turn to them the shameful parts of our constitution? Are we to give them our weakness for “ their strength ? our opprobium for their glory ? and “ the slough of slavery which we are not able to work off, to serve them for their freedom ?”1

Lord North too, when his American war had filled the nation with misery and discontent, but not before, had become an official reformer; and indeed set the fashion to Messieurs Burke, Pitt, and Dundas, (now Lord Melville ;) and among them we had in the course of seven years sixteen statutes for correcting official abuses and corruptions; and, including revivals we had in all twenty-four of them prior to that for which we are indebted to the Earl of St. Vincent. But where, my Lord, is the rich fruit of these reforms proinised us by Mr. Burke, when he says, “a disposition to expence « was complained of; to that I opposed, not mere re" trenchment, but a system of æconomy, which would « make a random expence without plan or foresight, " in future not easily practicable. I proceeded upon “ principles of research to put me in possession of my matter; on principles of method to regulate it; and “ on principles in the human mind and in civil affairs to secure and perpetuate the operation. Hereafter, no civil list debt can ever come upon the public. It " extinguishes secret corruption almost to the possibi" lity of its existence. It destroys direct and visible “ influence equal to the offices of at least fifty members of parliament. 2 Whatever I did at that time, “ so far as it regarded order or æconomy, is stable and eternal; as all principles must be." 3 "This to be sure is mighty fine in an oration. But I wish to know, where was this bar to the possibility of fresh civil list debts, when Mr. Pitt twice or thrice since came to parliament for very large sums to pay the creditors? And I ask, what reason we have to imagine that Mr. Burke either made secret corruption less practicable, or parliament more independent, than before? And where, I again ask, in real practical operation, is this perpetuation of the orator's system ? this stability and eternity of his æconomy? Where is his restriction of secret service money at home to ten thousand pounds a year?1 Where his “ victory over real corruptions,” by which he was to bafflethe parliamentary reformers, by rendering their system unnecessary? For these happy effects I have inquired in vain. I have sought them in the numerous folio volumes of the commissioners of naval inquiry; but they are full of new abuses, new corruptions, and new misapplications of public money ; which, unless that reform which Mr. Burke baffled" shall previously take place, present us with an Augean stable which not even a Hercules could cleanse. Shall we not then from experience retort upon this spurious, this pretended reformer," the words he himself applied on conjecture to Mr. Pitt's plan of parliamentary reform in 1785. « But this measure was only an illu“ sion, from which no solid benefit could ever result.” « For his part, he considered the whole of it as mere “ delusion, an ignis fatuus, calculated to mislead and “ bewilder.” 2 All that we distinctly see respecting secret service money is, that exclusive of acknowledged misapplications, one sum of ten thousand pounds not only went 'secretly into the pockets of somebody, but for that purpose was secretly seized upon, out of money granted for the service of the navy, and forbidden by an express law to be otherwise applied ; and Lord Melrille in his speech at the bar of the house of commons, lets them know he is determined to " baffleall inquiry about it. Is Mr. Burke's “victory over real corruptiops” found in the departments of the army, the ordnance, the barracks, where abuse and corruption are now the subjects of new acts of parliament? No, my

i Speech 19th. April, 1774. p. 91. 2 Let. to a noble Lord. 23. 3 Ib. 32.

1 See 22 Geo. III. c. 82. 2 Wyvill's Polit. papers, II. 432, 434. Thoughts on the causes of the present discontents. Ed. 1780. p. 48, 87.

Lord, here is no victory of reform over corruption ; but, on the contrary, a victory of corruption over reform; and such indeed (to borrow words from the reforming orator,) must perpetually and eternally be the case, until you shall dry up the source of the mischief in the house of commons itself.

The wily politician when he first published his oration on official economy, called it a speech, on presen. ting “ A PLAN FOR THE BETTER SECURITY OF THE “ INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT, &c.” and in the introductory argument he expressly says, “I am quite “ clear, that if we do not go to the very origin and first s ruling cause of grievances, we do nothing :” 1 and towards “ better securing the independence of parlia. ment,” NOTHING HE DID, as every one knows; and not withstanding this declaration, so far was he from intending to “ go to the very origin and first ruling cause of grievances,” that the very object of his plan was to " bafflethose who did honestly attempt it, as he himself has since, under his own pensioned hand, assured us. How anxious he was to bafflethe real refor. mers of parliament, a good judge will discern, from observing that into his plan and his oration, he had put the whole industry of his energetic nature, the whole powers of his vigorous and comprehensive mind, and all the persuasiveness of his admirable eloquence. When it suited the factious purpose of the orator, no man could paint the loathsomeness of parliamentary corruprion in stronger colours than himself; for, ten years prior to his plan of official reform, he had said, “ When the people conceive that laws, and tribunals, " and even POPULAR ASSEMBLIES, are perverted from “ the ends of their institution, they find in those names « of degenerated establishments, only new motives of “ discontent. Those bodies which when full of life ~ and beauty, lay in their arms, and were their joy and “ comfort, when DEAD AND PUTRID, become but the “ more LOATHSOME from remembrance of former en« dearments.”2

r. p. 18. Thoughts on the causes of the present discontents. p. 56.

And although his sagacity had early perceived, that: in respect of the politics of the faction behind the throne; « 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 operate;”ı although for ten years he had witnessed the truth of these observations made in 1770; and although after ten years more, including the greater part of the American war, ot still more shocking experience, and even talking in 1780 of going “ to the very origin and first ruling cause 5 of grievances," yet we find nothing could prevail with him to act against his own innate hatred of po. pular freedom, so predominant, and so active at all times was that principle in his mind, that he was ever vigilant to discern the most distant approach of popular demands for an amended representation and a shorter duration of parliaments; and what his sagacity in 1770, with prophetic eye foresaw, he artfully endeaFoured at the same time by anticipation, to baffleand defeat. As it then suited his purpose, he inflamed the discontents of the people, that he might make use of them against the court, in favour of his party; and in doing this it became necessary to shew how parliament had been “made subservient to a system, by which it “ was to be degraded from the dignity of a national “ council, into a mere member of the court;" that it was corrupt, and “DEAD and PUTRID,"even to “ LOATHSOMENESS;" but that the people might only clamour against the court for a change of ministers, without obtaining for themselves any real redress of grievances, he introduces arguments for shewing it is neither expedient nor practicable, to amend our representation ; and when he speaks of representation itself, he, like almost all dealers in sophistry and delusion, resorts to the fraudulent trick of a figurative application of this plain word, when the literal application ought to be used ; in order to divert his reader from its legal and constitutional signification: I must conclude these observati. ons with remarking, that although the Thoughts on the

1 Thoughts on the causes of the present discontents p. 7.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »