Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

other the true balance is found; and all of them | advantageous commerce with Ireland as Bristol ; are properly poised and harmonized. How much and that none would be so likely to profit of its have you lost by the participation of Scotland in prosperity as our city. But your profit and theirs all your commerce? The external trade of Eng- must concur. Beggary and bankruptcy are not land has more than doubled since that period; the circumstances which invite to an intercourse and I believe your internal (which is the most ad- with that or with any country; and I believe it vantageous) has been augmented at least fourfold. will be found invariably true, that the superfluities Such virtue there is in liberality of sentiment, that of a rich nation furnish a better object of trade you have grown richer even by the partnership of than the necessities of a poor one. It is the inpoverty.

terest of the commercial world that wealth should If you think, that this participation was a loss, be found every where. commercially considered, but that it has been The true ground of fear, in my opinion, is this : compensated by the share which Scotland has that Ireland, from the vitious system of its internal taken in defraying the publick charge-I believe polity, will be a long time before it can derive any you have not very carefully looked at the publick benefit from the liberty now granted, or from any accounts. Ireland, Sir, pays a great deal more thing else. But, as I do not vote advantages in than Scotland ; and is perhaps as much and as hopes that they may not be enjoyed, I will not lay effectually united to England as Scotland is. But any stress upon this consideration. I rather wisli, if Scotland, instead of paying little, had paid that the parliament of Ireland may, in its own nothing at all, we should be gainers, not losers, by wisdom, remove these impediments, and put their acquiring the hearty co-operation of an active, country in a condition to avail itself of its natural intelligent people, towards the encrease of the advantages. If they do not, the fault is with common stock; instead of our being employed in them, and not with us. watching and counteracting them, and their being I have written this long letter, in order to give employed in watching and counteracting us, with all possible satisfaction to my constituents, with the peevish and churlish jealousy of rivals and regard to the part I have taken in this affair. It enemies on both sides.

gave me inexpressible concern to find, that

my I am sure, Sir, that the commercial experience conduct had been a cause of uneasiness to any of of the merchants of Bristol will soon disabuse them them. Next to my honour and conscience, I have of the prejudice, that they can trade no longer, if nothing so near and dear to me as their approbacountries more lightly taxed are permitted to deal tion. However, I had much rather run the risk in the same commodities at the same markets. of displeasing than of injuring them ;-if I am You know that, in fact, you trade very largely driven to make such an option. You obliğingly where you are met by the goods of all nations. lament, that you are not to have me for your adYou even pay high duties on the import of your vocate; but if I had been capable of acting as goods, and afterwards undersell nations less taxed, an advocate in opposition to a plan so perfectly at their own markets; and where goods of the consonant to my known principles, and to the same kind are not charged at all. If it were opinions I had publickly declared on an hundred otherwise, you could trade very little. You know, occasions, I should only disgrace myself, without that the price of all sorts of manufacture is not a supporting, with the smallest degree of credit or great deal inhanced (except to the domestick con effect, the cause you wished me to undertake. I sumer) by any taxes paid in this country. This I should have lost the only thing which can make might very easily prove.

such abiuties as mine of any use to the world now The same consideration will relieve you from or hereafter ; I mean that authority which is dethe apprehension you express with relation to rived from an opinion, that a member speaks the sugars, and the difference of the duties paid here language of truth and sincerity; and that he is and in Ireland. Those duties affect the interiour not ready to take up or lay down a great political consumer only; and for obvious reasons, relative system for the convenience of the hour; that he to the interest of revenue itself, they must be pro- is in parliament to support his opinion of the pubportioned to his ability of payments ; but in all lick good, and does not form his opinion in order cases in which sugar can be an object of commerce, to get into parliament, or to continue in it. It is ind therefore in this view) of rivalship, you are in a great measure for your sake, that I wish to sensible, that you are at least on a par with Ireland. preserve this character. Without it, I am sure, I As to your apprehensions concerning the more ad- should be ill able to discharge, by any service, the vantageous situation of Ireland, for some branches smallest part of that debt of gratitude and affecof commerce, (for it is so but for some,) I trust you tion which I owe you for the great and honourable will not find them more serious. Milford Haven, trust you have reposed in me. I am, with the which is at your door, may serve to shew you, highest regard and esteem, that the mere advantage of ports is not the thing

SIR, which shifts the seat of commerce from one part

Your most obedient, of the world to the other. If I thought you in

And humble servant, clined to take up this matter on local considera

E. B. tions, I should state to you, that I do not know Beaconsfield, any part of the kingdom so well situated for an 23d April, 1778.

Q

[ocr errors]

VOL. 1.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

GENTLEMEN, It gives me the most sensible concern to find, 1 submitted patiently to the evils she suffered from that my

vote on the resolutions relative to the trade an attempt to subdue to your obedience, counof Ireland has not been fortunate enough to meet tries whose very commerce was not open to her. with your approbation. I have explained at large America was to be conquered, in order that Irethe grounds of my conduct on that occasion in land should not trade thither; whilst the miserable letters to the Merchants Hall; but my very sin- trade which she is permitted to carry on to other cere regard and esteem for you will not permit places has been torn to pieces in the struggle. me to let the matter pass without an explanation, In this situation, are we neither to suffer her to which is particular to yourselves, and which, 1 have any real interest in our quarrel, or to be hope, will prove satisfactory to you.

flattered with the hope of any future means of You tell me, that the conduct of your late mem- bearing the burthens which she is to incur in deber is not much wondered at; but you seem to be fending herself against enemies which we have at a loss to account for mine; and you lament, brought upon her ? that I have taken so decided a part against my I cannot set my face against such arguments. constituents.

Is it quite fair to suppose, that I have no other This is rather a heavy imputation. Does it then motive for yielding to them, but a desire of acting really appear to you, that the propositions to which against my constituents? It is for you, and for you refer, are, on the face of them, so manifestly your interest, as a dear, cherished, and respected wrong, and so certainly injurious to the trade and part of a valuable whole, that I have taken my share manufactures of Great Britain, and particularly to in this question, You do not, you cannot suffer yours, that no man could think of proposing or by it. If honesty be true policy with regard to the supporting them, except from resentment to you, transient interest of individuals, it is much more or from some other oblique motive ? If you sup- certainly so with regard to the permanent interests pose your late member, or if you suppose me, to of communities. I know, that it is but too naact upon other reasons than we choose to avow, to tural for us to see our own certain ruin in the what do you attribute the conduct of the other possible prosperity of other people. It is hard members, who in the beginning almost unani- to persuade us, that every thing which is got by mously adopted those resolutions ? To what do another is not taken from ourselves. But it is fit you attribute the strong part taken by the minis- that we should get the better of these suggestions, ters, and along with the ministers, by several of which come from what is not the best and soundest their most declared opponents ? This does not in- part of our nature, and that we should form to dicate a ministerial job; a party design; or a ourselves a way of thinking, more rational, more provincial or local purpose. It is therefore not so just, and more religious. Trade is not a limited absolutely clear, that the measure is wrong, or thing; as if the objects of mutual demand and likely to be injurious to the true interests of any consumption could not stretch beyond the bounds place, or any person.

of our jealousies. God has given the earth to The reason, gentlemen, for taking this step, at the children of men, and he has undoubtedly, in this time, is but too obvious and too urgent. I giving it to them, given them what is abundantly cannot imagine, that you forget the great war, sufficient for all their exigences; not a scanty, which has been carried on with so little success but a most liberal, provision for them all. The (and, as I thought, with so little policy) in Ame- author of our nature has written it strongly in that rica; or that you are not aware of the other great nature, and has promulgated the same law in his wars which are impending. Ireland has been called written word, that man shall eat his bread by his upon to repel the attacks of enemies of no small labour; and I am persuaded, that no man, and power, brought upon her by councils in which she no combination of men, for their own ideas of has had no share. The very purpose and declared their particular profit, can, without great impiety, object of that original war, which has brought undertake to say, that he shall not do so; that other wars and other enemies on Ireland, was they have no sort of right, either to prevent the not very flattering to her dignity, her interest, labour, or to withhold the bread. Ireland having or to the very principle of her liberty. Yet she received no compensation, directly or indirectly,

а

for any restraints on their trade, ought not, in jus- | arguments is made up (not by you, but by others) tice or common honesty, to be made subject to by the usual resource on such occasions, the confisuch restraints. I do not mean to impeach the dence in military force, and superiour power

. But right of the parliament of Great Britain to make that ground of confidence, which at no time was laws for the trade of Ireland. I only speak of perfectly just, or the avowal of it tolerably decent, what laws it is right for parliament to make. is at this time very unseasonable.

Late experiIt is nothing to an oppressed people, to say that ence has shewn, that it cannot be altogether rein part they are protected at our charge. The lied upon ; and many, if not all, of our present military force which shall be kept up in order to difficulties have arisen from putting our trust in cramp the natural faculties of a people, and to what may very possibly fail; and if it should fail, prevent their arrival to their utmost prosperity, is leaves those who are hurt by such a reliance, the instrument of their servitude, not the means of without pity. Whereas honesty and justice, reatheir protection. To protect men, is to forward, son and equity, go a very great way in securing and not to restrain, their improvement. Else, prosperity to those who use them; and, in case of what is it more, than to avow to them, and to the failure, secure the best retreat, and the most howorld, that you guard them from others, only to nourable consolations. make them a prey to yourself? This fundamental It is very unfortunate that we should consider nature of protection does not belong to free, but those as rivals, whom we ought to regard as felto all governments; and is as valid in Turkey as low labourers in a common cause. Ireland has in Great Britain. No government ought to own never made a single step in its progress towards that it exists for the purpose of checking the pros- prosperity, by which you have not had a share, perity of its people, or that there is such a prin- and perhaps the greatest share, in the benefit. ciple involved in its policy.

That progress has been chiefly owing to her own Under the impression of these sentiments, (and natural advantages, and her own efforts, which, not as wanting every attention to my constituents, after a long time, and by slow degrees, have prewhich affection and gratitude could inspire,) I vot- vailed in some measure over the mischievous sysed for these bills which give you so much trouble. tems which have been adopted. Far enough she I voted for them, not as doing complete justice is still from having arrived even at an ordinary to Ireland, but as being something less unjust than state of perfection; and if our jealousies were to the general prohibition which has hitherto prevailed. be converted into politicks, as systematically as I hear some discourse, as if, in one or two paltry some would have them, the trade of Ireland would duties on materials, Ireland had a preference; and vanish out of the system of commerce.

But bethat those, who set themselves against this act of lieve me, if Ireland is beneficial to you, it is so scanty justice, assert that they are only contend- not from the parts in which it is restrained, but ing for an equality. What equality? Do they from those in which it is left free, though not left forget, that the whole woollen manufacture of unrivalled. The greater its freedom, the greater Ireland, the most extensive and profitable of any, must be your advantage. If you should lose in and the natural staple of that kingdom, has been one way, you will gain in twenty. in a manner so destroyed by restrictive laws of Whilst I remain under this unalterable and purs, and (at our persuasion, and on our promises) powerful conviction, you will not wonder at the by restrictive laws of their own, that in a few | decided part I take. It is my custom so to do, years, it is probable, they will not be able to wear when I see my way clearly before me ; and when a coat of their own fabrick ? Is this equality ? Do I know that I am not misled by any passion, or gentlemen forget, that the understood faith, upon any personal interest; as in this case, I am very which they were persuaded to such an unnatural sure, I am not. I find that disagreeable things act, has not been kept; and that a linen-manufac- are circulated among my constituents; and I ture has been set up, and highly encouraged, wish my sentiments, which form my justification, against them? Is this equality ? Do they forget may be equally general with the circulation against the state of the trade of Ireland in beer, so great me. I have the honour to be, with the greatest an article of consumption, and which now stands regard and esteem, in so mischievous a position with regard to their

GENTLEMEN, revenue, their manufacture, and their agriculture ? Do they find any equality in all this? Yet if the

Your most obedient least step is taken towards doing them common

And humble servant, justice in the slightest article for the most limited

Westminster,

E. B. markets, a cry is raised, as if we were going to be ruined by partiality to Ireland.

May 2, 1778. Gentlemen, I know that the deficiency in these

I send the bills.

MR. BURKE'S SPEECH,

OX

PRESENTING TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,

(ON THE Ilth FEBRUARY, 1780,)

A PLAN,

FOR THE BETTER SECURITY OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT,

AND THE

ECONOMICAL REFORMATION OF THE CIVIL AND OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS.

MR. SPEAKER, I rise, in acquittal of my engagement to the that shakes me to the inmost fibre of my frame. house, in obedience to the strong and just requi- I feel that I engage in a business, in itself most sition of my constituents, and, I am persuaded, in ungracious, totally wide of the course of prudent conformity to the unanimous wishes of the whole conduct; and, I really think, the most completely nation, to submit to the wisdom of parliament, adverse that can be imagined to the natural turn “A Plan of reform in the constitution of several and temper of my own mind. I know, that all parts of the public economy."

parsimony is of a quality approaching to unkindI have endeavoured, that this plan should in- ness; and that (on some person or other) every clude, in its execution, a considerable reduction reform must operate as a sort of punishment. Inof improper expence; that it should effect a con- deed the whole class of the severe and restrictive version of unprofitable titles into a productive virtues are at a market almost too high for humaestate ; that it should lead to, and indeed almost nity. What is worse, there are very few of those compel, a provident administration of such sums virtues which are not capable of being imitated, of publick money as must remain under discre- and even outdone, in many of their most striking tionary trusts; that it should render the incurring effects, by the worst of vices. Malignity and envy debts on the civil establishment (which must ulti- will carve much more deeply, and finish much mately affect national strength and national cre- more sharply, in the work of retrenchment, than dit) so very difficult, as to become next to im- frugality and providence. I do not, therefore, practicable.

wonder, that gentlemen have kept away from such But what, I confess, was uppermost with me, a task, as well from good-nature as from prudence. what I bent the whole force of my mind to, was Private feeling might, indeed, be overborne by the reduction of that corrupt influence, which is legislative reason ; and a man of a long-sighted itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of and a strong-nerved humanity might bring himself, all disorder; which loads us, more than millions not so much to consider from whom he takes a of debt; which takes away vigour from our arms, superfluous enjoyment, as for whom in the end he wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of may preserve the absolute necessaries of life. authority and credit from the most venerable parts But it is much more easy to reconcile this meaof our constitution.

sure to humanity, than to bring it to any agreeSir, I assure you, very solemnly, and with a ment with prudence. I do not mean that lite, very clear conscience, that nothing in the world selfish, pitiful, bastard thing, which sometimes goes has led me to such an undertaking, but my zeal by the name of a family in which it is not lefor the honour of this house, and the settled, ha- gitimate, and to which it is a disgrace ;-I mean bitual, systematick affection I bear to the cause even that publick and enlarged prudence, which, and to the principles of government.

apprehensive of being disabled from rendering acI enter perfectly into the nature and consequences ceptable services to the world, withholds itself of my attempt; and I advance to it with a tremour from those that are invidious. Gentlemen who

[ocr errors]

a

are, with me, verging towards the decline of life, systematical process of popularity, the undertaker and are apt to form their ideas of kings from and the undertaking are both exposed, and the kings of former times, might dread the anger of a poor reformer is hissed off the stage both by reigning prince ;--they who are more provident friends and foes. of the future, or by being young are more inte- Observe, Sir, that the apology for my underrested in it, might tremble at the resentment of taking (an apology, which, though long, is no the successor ; they might see a long, dull, dreary, longer than necessary) is not grounded on my unvaried visto of despair and exclusion, for half a want of the fullest sense of the difficult and invicentury, before them. This is no pleasant prospect dious nature of the task I undertake. I risk odium at the outset of a political journey.

if I succeed, and contempt if I fail. My excuse Besides this, Sir, the private enemies to be made must rest in my own and your conviction of the abin all attempts of this kind are innumerable ; and solute, urgent necessity there is, that something of their enmity will be the more bitter, and the more the kind should be done. If there is any sacrifice dangerous too, because a sense of dignity will to be made, either of estimation or of fortune, the oblige them to conceal the cause of their resent- smallest is the best. Commanders in chief are not ment. Very few men of great families, and ex- to be put upon the forlorn hope. But, indeed, it is tensive connexions, but will feel the smart of a necessary that the attempt should be made. It is cutting reform, in some close relation, some bosom necessary from our own political circumstances ; friend, some pleasant acquaintance, some dear, pro- it is necessary from the operations of the enemy; tected dependent. Emolument is taken from some; it is necessary from the demands of the people, patronage from others ; objects of pursuit from all. whose desires, when they do not militate with the Men, forced into an involuntary independence, stable and eternal rules of justice and reason, (rules will abhor the authors of a blessing which in their which are above us and above them,) ought to be eyes has so very near a resemblance to a curse. as a law to a house of commons. When officers are removed, and the offices remain, As to our circumstances, I do not mean to agyou may set the gratitude of some against the gravate the difficulties of them by the strength anger of others; you may oppose the friends you of any colouring whatsoever. On the contrary, I oblige against the enemies you provoke. But ser- observe, and observe with pleasure, that our affairs vices of the present sort create no attachments. rather wear a more promising aspect than they The individual good felt in a publick benefit is did on the opening of this session. We have had comparatively so small, comes round through such some leading successes. But those who rate them an involved labyrinth of intricate and tedious re- at the highest (higher a great deal indeed than I volutions ; whilst a present, personal detriment is dare to do) are of opinion, that, upon the ground so heavy where it falls, and so instant in its ope- of such advantages, we cannot at this time hope ration, that the cold commendation of a publick to make any treaty of peace, which would not be advantage never was, and never will be, a match ruinous and completely disgraceful. In such an for the quick sensibility of a private loss: and you anxious state of things, if dawnings of success serve may depend upon it, Sir, that when many people to animate our diligence, they are good ; if they have an interest in railing, sooner or later, they tend to encrease our presumption, they are worse will bring a considerable degree of unpopularity than defeats. The state of our affairs shall then upon any measure. So that, for the present at be as promising as any one may choose to conceive least, the reformation will operate against the re- it: it is, however, but promising. We must recolformers; and revenge (as against them at the least) lect, that, with but half of our natural strength, will produce all the effects of corruption.

we are at war against confederated powers, who This, Sir, is almost always the case, where the have singly threatened us with ruin ; we must replan has complete success. But how stands the collect, that, whilst we are left naked on one side, matter in the mere attempt ? Nothing, you know, our other flank is uncovered by any alliance ; that, is more common than for men to wish, and call whilst we are weighing and balancing our successes loudly too for a reformation, who, when it arrives, against our losses, we are accumulating debt to the do by no means like the severity of its aspect. amount of at least fourteen millions in the year. Reformation is one of those pieces which must That loss is certain. be put at some distance in order to please. Its I have no wish to deny, that our successes are greatest favourers love it better in the abstract than as brilliant as any one chooses to make them; our in the substance. When any old prejudice of their resources too may, for me, be as unfathomable as own, or any interest that they value, is touched, they are represented. Indeed, they are just whatthey become scrupulous, they become captious, ever the people possess, and will submit to pay. and every man has his separate exception. Some Taxing is an easy business. Any projector can pluck out the black hairs, some the grey; one contrive new impositions; any bungler can add to point must be given up to one; another point the old. But is it altogether wise to have no other must be yielded to another; nothing is suffered bounds to your impositions, than the patience of to prevail upon its own principle; the whole is those who are to bear them? 90 frittered 'down, and disjointed, that scarcely All I claim upon the subject of your resources a trace of the original scheme remains! Thus, is this, that they are not likely to be encreased by between the resistance of power, and the un- wasting them. I think I shall be permitted to

« AnteriorContinuar »