Imágenes de página

been asserted. And, thank God! till some proof less than £8,000,000 of our debt has been act. be offered, I have the laws of the land, as well ually discharged, by the due application of the as the laws of charity, in my favor.

sinking fund; and at least £7,000,000 has been Some members of both Houses have, it is true, taken from that fund, and applied to the ease of been removed from their employments under the the land tax. For if it had not been applied to Crown; but were they ever told, either by me, the current service, we must have supplied that or by any other of his Majesty's servants, that it service by increasing the land tax; and as the was for opposing the measures of the adminis. sinking fund was originally designed for paying tration in Parliament ? They were removed off our debts, and easing us of our taxes, the apbecause his Majesty did not think fit to continue plication of it in ease of the land tax, was certhem longer in his service. His Majesty had a tainly as proper and necessary a use as could be right so to do; and I know no one that has a made. And I little thought that giving relief right to ask him, " What doest thou ?" If his to landed gentlemen, would have been brought Majesty had a mind that the favors of the Crown against me as a crime.9 should circulate, would not this of itself be a III. I shall now advert to the third topic of good reason for removing any of his servants ? accusation : the conduct of the war. I have al. Would not this reason be approved of by the ready stated in what manner, and under what whole nation, except those who happen to be circumstances, hostilities commenced ; and as I the present possessors ? I can not, therefore, am neither general nor admiral-as I have nothsee bow this can be imputed as a crime, or how | ing to do either with our navy or army-I am any of the King's ministers can be blamed for sure I am not answerable for the prosecution of his doing what the public has no concern in; for it. But were I to answer for every thing, no if the public be well and faithfully served, it has fault could, I think, be found with my conduct in no business to ask by whom.

| the prosecution of the war. It has from the beAs to the particular charge urged against me, ginning been carried on with as much vigor, and I mean that of the army debentures, I am suras great care of our trade, as was consistent prised, sir, to hear any thing relating to this affair with our safety at home, and with the circumcharged upon me. Whatever blame may at- stances we were in at the beginning of the war. tarh to this affair, it must be placed to the ac If our attacks upon the enemy were too long decvant of those that were in power when I was, layed, or if they have not been so vigorous or so as they call it, the country gentleman. It was frequent as they ought to have been, those only by them this affair was introduced and conduct- are to blame who have for many years been haed, and I came in only to pay off those public ranguing against standing armies; for, without securities, which their management had reduced a suflicient number of regular troops in proporto a great discount; and consequently to redeem tion to the numbers kept up by our neighbors, I our pablic credit from that reproach which they am sure we can neither defend ourselves nor bad brought upon it. The discount at which offend our enemies. On the supposed miscarthese army debentures were negotiated, was a riages of the war, so unfairly stated, and so unstrong and prevalent reason with Parliament justly imputed to me, I could, with great ease, to apply the sinking fund first to the payment frame an incontrovertible defense. But as I of those debentures; but the sinking fund could have trespassed so long on the time of the House, not be applied to that purpose till it began to I shall not weaken the effect of that forcible exproduce something considerable, which was not culpation, so generously and disinterestedly adtill the year 1727. That the sinking fund was vanced by the right honorable gentleman who then to receive a great addition, was a fact pub- so meritoriously presides at the Admiralty. licly known in 1726 ; and if some people were If my whole administration is to be scrutinized eufficiently quick-sighted to foresee that the Par- and arraigned, why are the most favorable parts liament would probably make this use of it, and to be omitted? If facts are to be accumulated cunning enough to make the most of their own on one side, why not on the other? And why foresight, could I help it, or could they be blamed | for doing so ? But I desy my most inveterate . Here Walpole dexterously avoids the main point

of the difficulty. In 1717, it was provided by law enemy to prove that I had any hand in bringing

that all the surplus income of the government should these debentures to a discount, or that I had any

be converted into wbat was called the Sinking share in the profits by buying them up.

Fund, which was to be used for paying off the pubin reply to those who confidently assert that I lic debt. This principle was strictly adhered to the cational debt is not decreased since 1727, down to 1729, when more than a million of this fund and that the sinking fund has not been applied was used for current expenses, instead of laying to the discharge of the public burdens, I can taxes to meet them. The same thing was done in with truth declare, that a part of the debt has six other instances, under Walpole's administrabeen paid off; and the landed interest has been tion. Now it is true, as Walpole says, that by thus very much eased with respect to that most un applying the fund, he lessened the land tax. Still,

it was a perversion of the fand from its original deequal and grievous burden, the land tax. I say

sign; and if the taxes had been uniformly laid for so, sir, because apon examination it will appear, I all current expenses, and the fund been faithfully that within these sixteen or seventeen years, no applied to its original purpose, the debt (small as it

then was) might perhaps have wholly been extins One who held himself bound to neither party. I guished.

may not I be permitted to speak in my own fa- to see those honors which their ancestors have vor? Was I not called by the voice of the King worn, restored again to the Commons. and the nation to remedy the fatal effects of the Have I given any symptoms of an avaricious South Sea project, and to support declining cred- disposition ? Have I obtained any grants from it? Was I not placed at the head of the treas- the Crown, since I have been placed at the head ury when the revenues were in the greatest con- of the treasury? Has my conduct been differfusion ? Is credit revived, and does it now flour-ent from that which others in the same station ish? Is it not at an incredible height, and if so, would have followed? Have I acted wrong in to whom must that circumstance be attributed ? | giving the place of auditor to my son, and in Has not tranquillity been preserved both at providing for my own family? I trust that their home and abroad, notwithstanding a most un- advancement will not be imputed to me as a reasonable and violent opposition? Has the true crime, unless it shall be proved that I placed interest of the nation been pursued, or has trade them in offices of trust and responsibility for flourished? Have gentlemen produced one in which they were unfit. stance of this exorbitant power; of the influence But while I unequivocally deny that I am sole which I extend to all parts of the nation ; of the and prime minister, and that to my influence and tyranny with which I oppress those who oppose, direction all the measures of the government and the liberality with which I reward those must be attributed, yet I will not shrink from who support me? But having first invested me the responsibility which attaches to the post I with a kind of mock dignity, and styled me a have the honor to hold ; and should, during the prime minister, they impute to me an unpardon- long period in which I have sat upon this bench, able abuse of that chimerical authority which any one step taken by government be proved to they only have created and conferred. If they be either disgraceful or disadvantageous to the are really persuaded that the army is annually nation, I am ready to hold myself accountable. established by me, that I have the sole disposal To conclude, sir, though I shall always be of posts and honors, that I employ this power in proud of the honor of any trust or confidence the destruction of liberty and the diminution of from his Majesty, yet I shall always be ready to commerce, let me awaken them from their de- remove from his councils and presence when he lusion. Let me expose to their view the real thinks fit; and therefore I should think myself condition of the public weal. Let me show them very little concerned in the event of the present that the Crown has made no encroachments, that question, if it were not for the encroachment that all supplies have been granted by Parliament, will thereby be made upon the prerogatives of that all questions have been debated with the the Crown. But I must think that an address to same freedom as before the fatal period in which his Majesty to remove one of his servants, withmy counsels are said to have gained the ascend-out so much as alleging any particular crime ency; an ascendency from which they deduce against him, is one of the greatest encroachments the loss of trade, the approach of slavery, the that was ever made upon the prerogatives of the preponderance of prerogative, and the extension Crown. And therefore, for the sake of my masof influence. But I am far from believing that ter, without any regard for my own, I hope all they feel those apprehensions which they so earn- | those that have a due regard for our constitution, estly labor to communicate to others; and I and for the rights and prerogatives of the Crown, have too high an opinion of their sagacity not to without which our constitution can not be preconclude that, even in their own judgment, they served, will be against this motion. are complaining of grievances that they do not sufler, and promoting rather their private inter This speech had a great effect. The motion est than that of the public.

for an address was negatived by a large majority. What is this unbounded sole power which is But the advantage thus gained was only temimputed to me? How has it discovered itself, porary. A spirit of disaffection had spread or how has it been proved ?

throughout the kingdom; and the next elecWhat have been the effects of the corruption, tions, which took place a few months after, ambition, and avarice with which I am so abund showed that the power and influence of Walpole antly charged ?

were on the decline. Still he clung to office Have I ever been suspected of being corrupt- with a more desperate grasp than ever. He ed? A strange phenomenon, a corrupter him- used some of the most extraordinary expedients self not corrupt! Is ambition imputed to me ? ever adopted by a minister, to divide the Oppo. Why then do I still continue a commoner ? 1, sition and retain his power. He even opened a who refused a white statf and a peerage. I had, negotiation with the Pretender at Rome, to ob. indeed, like to have forgotten the little ornament tain the support of the Jacobites. But his el. about my shoulders (the garter), which gentle- forts were in vain. He lost his majority in the men have so repeatedly mentioned in terms of House; he was compelled to inform the King sarcastic obloquy. But surely, though this may that he could no longer administer the governbe regarded with envy or indignation in another ment; he was created Earl of Orford with a place, it can not be supposed to raise any resent- pension of £4000 a year, and resigned all his ment in this House, where many may be pleased offices on the 11th of February, 1742.


WILLIAM PULTENEY, first Earl of Bath, was born in 1682. He was elected a member of Parliament in early life, and applied himself to the diligent study of the temper of the House, and the best mode of speaking in so mixed and discordant an assembly. He made no attempts to dazzle by any elaborate display of eloquence; for it was his maxim, that “there are few real orators who commence with set speeches." His powers were slowly developed. He took part in almost every important debate, more (at first) for his own improvement than with any expectation of materially changing the vote. He thus gradually rose into one of the most dexterous and effective speakers of the British Senate.

His speeches, unfortunately, have been worse reported, in respect to the peculiar characteristics of his eloquence, than those of any of his contemporaries. The following one, however, though shorter than might be wished, is undoubtedly a fair specimen of the bold, direct, and confident, though not overbearing manner, in which he ordinarily addressed himself to the judgment and feelings of the House. The language is uncommonly easy, pointed, and vigorous. The sentences flow lightly off in a clear and varied sequence, without the slightest appearance of stateliness or mannerism. It is the exact style for that conversational mode of discussion which is best adapted to the purposes of debate.

Walpole, when displaced by the exertions of Pulteney in 1742, had the satisfaction of dragging down his adversary along with him. He saw that the Opposition must go to pieces the moment they were left to themselves; that a new administration could never be framed out of such discordant materials ; and that whoever should undertake it would be ruined in the attempt. He therefore induced the King to lay that duty upon Pulteney. The result was just what he expected. The King insisted on retaining a large proportion of Walpole's friends. Comparatively few offices remained for others, and both Whigs and Tories were disappointed and enraged. Pulteney shrunk from taking office himself, under these circumstances. He professed great disinterestedness; he had no desire for power; he would merely accept a peerage, which all parties regarded as the reward of his perfidy. He was created Earl of Bath; and the name of Patriot, as Horace Walpole tells us, became a term of derision and contempt throughout all the kingdom. When the newly-created earls met for the first time in the House of Lords, Walpole walked up to Pulteney, and said to him, with a mixture of pleasantry and bitterness, for which he was always distinguished, “ Here we are, my Lord, the two most insignificant fellows in England." Pulteney died on the Sth of June, 1764.




SIR,_We have heard a great deal about Par- tion. A standing army is still a standing army, liamentary armies, and about an army continued whatever name it be called by. They are a body from year to year. I have always been, sir, and of men distinct from the body of the people; they always shall be, against a standing army of any are governed by different laws; and blind obe. kind. To me it is a terrible thing, whether un-dience, and an entire submission to the orders of der that of Parliamentary or any other designa- | their commanding officer, is their only principle.

The nations around us, sir, are already enslaved, I that case happens, I am afraid that, in place of and have been enslaved by these very means : | Parliament's dismissing the army, the army will by means of their standing armies they have ev- dismiss the Parliament, as they have done hereery one lost their liberties. It is indeed impos- tofore. Nor does the legality or illegality of that sible that the liberties of the people can be pre- Parliament, or of that army, alter the case. For served in any country where a numerous stand with respect to that army, and according to their ing army is kept up. Shall we, then, take any way of thinking, the Parliament dismissed by of our measures from the examples of our neigh- them was a legal Parliament; they were an bors? No, sir, on the contrary, from their mis- army raised and maintained according to law; fortunes we ought to learn to avoid those rocks and at first they were raised, as they imagined, upon which they have split.

for the preservation of those liberties which they It signifies nothing to tell me, that our army afterward destroyed. is commanded by such gentlemen as can not be It has been urged, sir, that whoever is for the supposed to join in any measures for enslaving Protestant succession must be for continuing the their country. It may be so. I hope it is so! army: for that very reason, sir, I am against I have a very good opinion of many gentlemen continuing the army. I know that neither the now in the army. I believe they would not join Protestant succession in his Majesty's most illusin any such measures. But their lives are un- trious house, nor any succession, can ever be safe certain, nor can we be sure how long they may so long as there is a standing army in the counbe continued in command ; they may be all dis- try. Armies, sir, have no regard to hereditary missed in a moment, and proper tools of power successions. The first two Cesars at Rome did put in their room. Besides, sir, we know the pretty well, and found means to keep their armies passions of men; we know how dangerous it is in tolerable subjection, because the generals and to trust the best of men with too much power. officers were all their own creatures. But how Where was there a braver army than that under did it fare with their successors ? Was not evJulius Cesar? Where was there ever an army ery one of them named by the army, without that had served their country more faithfully ? any regard to hereditary right, or to any right? That army was commanded generally by the A cobbler, a gardener, or any man who hapbest citizens of Rome-by men of great fortune pened to raise himself in the army, and could and figure in their country; yet that army en- gain their affections, was made Emperor of the slaved their country. The affections of the solo world. Was not every succeeding Emperor diers toward their country, the honor and integ- raised to the throne, or tumbled headlong into rity of the under officers, are not to be depended the dust, according to the mere whim or mad on. By the military law, the administration of phrensy of the soldiers ? justice is so quick, and the punishments so se. We are told this army is desired to be continvere, that neither officer nor soldier dares offer ued but for one year longer, or for a limited term to dispute the orders of his supreme commander; of years. How absurd is this distinction! Is he must not consult his own inclinations. If an there any army in the world continued for any officer were commanded to pull his own father term of years? Does the most absolute monout of this House, he must do it; he dares not arch tell his army, that he is to continue them disobey; immediate death would be the sure any number of years, or any number of months ? consequence of the least grumbling. And if an How long have we already continued our army officer were sent into the Court of Requests, ac- from year to year? And if it thus continues, companied by a body of musketeers with screw- wherein will it differ from the standing armies ed bayonets, and with orders to tell us what we of those countries which have already submitted ought to do, and how we were to vote, I know their necks to the yoke? We are now come to what would be the duty of this House; I know the Rubicon. Our army is now to be reduced, it would be our duty to order the officer to be or never will. From his Majesty's own mouth taken and hanged up at the door of the lobby. we are assured of a profound tranquillity abroad, But, sir, I doubt much if such a spirit could be and we know there is one at home. If this is found in the House, or in any House of Com- not a proper time, if these circumstances do not mons that will ever be in England.

afford us a safe opportunity for reducing at least Sir, I talk not of imaginary things. I talk of a part of our regular forces, we never can exwhat has happened to an English House of Com- pect to see any reduction. This nation, already mons, and from an English army; and not only overburdened with debts and taxes, must be loadfrom an English army, but an army that was ed with the heavy charge of perpetually supportraised by that very House of Commons, an army ing a numerous standing army; and remain forthat was paid by them, and an army that was ever exposed to the danger of having its liberties commanded by generals appointed by them. and privileges trampled upon by any future king Therefore do not let us vainly imagine that an or ministry, who shall take in their head to do army raised and maintained by authority of Par- so, and shall take a proper care to model the liament will always be submissive to them. If army for that purpose. an army be so numerous as to have it in their power to overawe the Parliament, they will be submissive as long as the Parliament does noth- The bill for continuing the army on the same ing to disoblige their favorite general; but when footing was passed by a large majority.


PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE, fourth Earl of Chesterfield, was born in 1694. He was equally distinguished for his love of polite literature, the grace of his manners, the pungency of his wit, and the elegance of his literary productions. In later times he has been most known by his Letters to his Son. These, though admirable models of the epistolary style, are disfigured by a profligacy of sentiment which has cast a just odium on his character ; while the stress they lay upon mere accomplishments has created a very natural suspicion, among those who have seen him only in that correspondence, as to the strength and soundness of his judgment. He was unquestionably, however, a man of great acuteness and force of intellect. As an orator, Horace Walpole gave him the preference over all the speakers of his day. This may have arisen, in part, from the peculiar dexterity with which he could play with a subject that he did not choose to discuss—a kind of talent which Walpole would be very apt to appreciate. It often happens that weak and foolish measures can be exposed more effectually by wit than by reasoning. In this kind of attack Lord Chesterfield had uncommon power. His fancy supplied him with a wide range of materials, which he brought forward with great ingenuity, presenting a succession of unexpected combinations, that flashed upon the mind with all the liveliness and force of the keenest wit or the most poignant satire. The speech which follows is a specimen of his talent for this kind of speaking. “It will be read with avidity by those who relish the sprightly sallies of genius, or who are emulous of a style of eloquence which, though it may not always convince, will never fail to delight.”

The speech relates to a bill for granting licenses to gin-shops, by which the ministry hoped to realize a very large annual income. This income they proposed to employ in carrying on the German war of George II., which arose out of his exclusive care for his Electorate of Hanover, and was generally odious throughout Great Britain. Lord Chesterfield made two speeches on this subject, which are here given together, with the omission of a few unimportant paragraphs. It has been hastily inferred, from a conversation reported by Boswell, that these speeches, as here given, were written by Johnson. Subsequent inquiry, however, seems to prove that this was not the fact; but, on the contrary, that Lord Chesterfield prepared them for publication himself.

Lord Chesterfield filled many offices of the highest importance under the reign of George II. In 1728 he was appointed embassador to Holland ; and, by his adroitness and diplomatic skill, succeeded in delivering Hanover from the calamities of war which hung over it. As a reward for his services, he was made Knight of the Garter and Lord Steward of the Royal Household. At a later period he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. This difficult office he discharged with great dexterity and self-command, holding in check the various factions of that country with consummate skill. On his return to England in 1746, he was called to the office of Secretary of State ; but, having become wearied of public employments, he soon resigned, and devoted the remainder of his life to the pursuits of literature and the society of his friends. He now carried on the publication of a series of papers in imitation of the Spectator, entitled the World, in which some of the best specimens may be found of his light, animated, and easy style of writing. Toward the close of his life he became deaf, and suffered from numerous bodily infirmities, which filled his latter days with gloom and despondency. He bore the most emphatic testimony to the folly and disappointment of the course he had led, and died in 1773, at the age of seventy-nine.

« AnteriorContinuar »