Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

cile them. And to give the whole a sort of portentous air of labour and information, the table of the house of commons is swept into this grand reservoir of politicks.

As to the composition, it bears a striking and whimsical resemblance to a funeral sermon, not only in the pathetick prayer with which it concludes, but in the style and tenour of the whole performance. It is piteously doleful, nodding every now and then towards dulness; well stored with pious frauds, and, like most discourses of the sort, much better calculated for the private advantage of the preacher than the edification of the hearers.

The author has indeed so involved his subject, that it is frequently far from being easy to comprehend his meaning. It is happy for the publick that it is never difficult to fathom his design. The apparent intention of this author is to draw the most aggravated, hideous, and deformed picture of the state of this country, which his querulous eloquence, aided by the arbitrary dominion he assumes over fact, is capable of exhibiting. Had he attributed our misfortunes to their true cause, the injudicious tampering of bold, improvident, and visionary ministers at one period, or to their supine negligence and traitorous dissensions at another, the complaint had been just, and might have been useful. But far the greater and much the worst part of the state which he exhibits is owing, according to his representation, not to accidental and extrinsick mischiefs attendant on the nation, but to its radical weakness and constitutional distempers. All this however is not without purpose. The author is in hopes, that, when we are fallen into a fanatical terrour for the national salvation, we shall then be ready to throw ourselves, in a sort of precipitate trust, some strange disposition of the mind jumbled up of presumption and despair, into the hands of the most pretending and forward undertaker. One such undertaker at least he has in readiness for our service. But let me assure this generous person, that however he may succeed in exciting our fears for the publick danger, he will find it hard indeed to engage us to place any confidence in the system he proposes for our security. His undertaking is great. The purpose of this pamphlet,

29

YOL I

and at which it aims directly or obliquely in every page, is to persuade the publick of three or four of the most difficult points in the world—that all the advantages of the late war were on the part of the Bourbon alliance ; that the peace of Paris perfectly consulted the dignity and interest of this country ; and that the American stamp-act was a master-piece of policy and finance; that the only good minister this nation has enjoyed since his majesty's accession, is the Earl of Bute ; and the only good managers of revenue we have seen are Lord Despenser and Mr. George Grenville ; and under the description of men of virtue and ability, he holds them out to us as the only persons fit to put our affairs in order. Let not the reader mistake me : he does not actually name these persons ; but, having highly applauded their conduct in all its parts, and heavily censured every other set of men in the kingdom, he then recommends us to his men of virtue and ability.

Such is the author's scheme. Whether it will answer his purpose, I know not. But surely that purpose ought to be a wonderfully good one, to warrant the methods he has taken to compass it. If the facts and reasonings in this piece are admitted, it is all over with us. The continuance of our tranquillity depends upon the compassion of our rivals. Unable to secure to ourselves the advantages of peace, we are at the same time utterly unfit for war. It is impossible, if this state of things be credited abroad, that we can have any alliance; all nations will fly from so dangerous a connexion, lest, instead of being partakers of our strength, they should only become sharers in our ruin. If it is believed at home, all that firmness of mind, and dignified national courage, which used to be the great support of this isle against the powers of the world, must melt away, and fail within us.

In such a state of things can it be amiss, if I aim at holding out some comfort to the nation ; another sort of comfort indeed, than that which this writer provides for it; a comfort, not from its physician, but from its constitution ; if I attempt to shew that all the arguments upon which he founds the decay of that constitution, and the necessity of

[ocr errors]

that physician, are vain and frivolous ?

1 will follow the author closely in his own long career, through the war, the peace, the finances, our trade, and our foreign politicks : not for the sake of the particular measures which he discusses ; that can be of no use; they are all decided; their good is all enjoyed, or their evil incurred : but for the sake of the principles of war, peace, trade, and finances. These principles are of infinite moment. They must come again and again under consideration ; and it imports the publick, of all things, that those of its ministers be enlarged, and just, and well confirmed, upon all these subjects. What notions this author entertains, we shall see presently; notions in my opinion very irrational, and extremely dangerous ; and which, if they should crawl from pamphlets into counsels, and be realised from private speculation into national measures, cannot fail of hastening and completing our ruin.

This author, after having paid his compliment to the shewy appearances of the late war in our favour, is in the utmost haste to tell you that these appearances were fallacious, that they were no more than an imposition.-I fear I must trouble the reader with a pretty long quotation, in order to set before him the more clearly this author's peculiar way of conceiving and reasoning :

Happily (the K.) was then advised by ministers, who did not suffer themselves to be dazzled by the glare of brilliant appearances ; but, knowing them to be fallacious, they wisely resolved to profit of their splendour before our enemies should also discover the imposition. The increase in the exports was found to have been occasioned chiefly by the demands of our own fleets and armies, and, instead of bringing wealth to the nation, was to be paid for by oppressive taxes upon the people of England. While the British seamen were consuming on board our men of war and privateers, foreign ships and foreign seamen were employed in the transportation of our merchandize ; and the carrying trade, so great a source of wealth and marine, was entirely engrossed by the neutral nations. The number of British ships annually arriving in our ports was reduced 1756 sail, containing 92,559 tons, on a medium of the six years war, compared with the

[ocr errors]

ca.

six years of peace preceding it. The conquest of the Havannah had, indeed, stopped the remittance of specie from Mexico to Spain ; but it had not enabled England to seize it : on the contrary, our merchants suffered by the detention of the galleons, as their correspondents in Spain were disabled from paying them for their goods sent to Ameri.

The loss of the trade to old Spain was a farther bar to an influx of specie ; and the attempt upon Portugal had not only deprived us of an import of bullion from thence, but the payment of our troops employed in its defence was a fresh drain opened for the diminution of our circulating specie.—The high premiums given for new loans had sunk the price of the old stock near a third of its original value, so that the purchasers had an obligation from the state to re-pay them with an addition of 33 per cent. to their capital. Every new loan required new taxes to be imposed; new taxes must add to the price of our manufactures and lessen their consumption among foreigners. The decay of our trade must necessarily occasion a decrease of the publick revenue ; and a deficiency of our funds must either be made up by fresh taxes, which would only add to the calamity, or our national credit must be destroyed, by shewing the publick creditors the inability of the nation to re-pay them their principal money.—Bounties had already been given for recruits which exceeded the year's wages of the ploughman and reaper ; and as these were exhausted, and husbandry stood still for want of hands, the manufacturers were next to be tempted to quit the anvil and loom by higher offers.--France, bankrupt France, had no such calamities impending over her ; her distresses were great, but they were immediate and temporary ; her want of credit preserved her from a great increase of debt, and the loss of her ultra-marine dominions lessened her expenses. Her colonies had, indeed, put themselves into the hands of the English ; but the property of her subjects had been preserved by capitulations, and a way opened for making her those remittances, which the war had before suspended, with as much security as in the time of peace.Her armies in Germany had been hitherto prevented from seiz

ر

[ocr errors]

ing upon Hanover ; but they continued to encamp on the same ground on which the first battle was fought; and, as it must ever happen from the policy of that government, the last troops she sent into the field were always found to be the best, and her frequent losses only served to fill her regiments with better soldiers. The conquest of Hanover became therefore every campaign more probable. It is not to be noted, that the French troops received subsistence only, for the last three years of the war ; and that, although large arrears were due to them at its conclusion, the charge was the less during its continuance."*

If any one be willing to see to how much greater lengths the author carries these ideas, he will recur to the book. This is sufficient for a specimen of his manner of thinking. I believe one reflection uniformly obtrudes itself upon every reader of these paragraphs. For what purpose in any cause shall we hereafter contend with France ? can we ever flatter ourselves that we shall wage a more successful war? If, on our part, in a war the most prosperous we ever carried on, by sea and by land, and in every part of the globe, attended with the unparalleled circumstance of an immense increase of trade and augmentation of revenue ; if a continued series of disappointments, disgraces, and defeats, followed by publick bankruptcy, on the part of France ; if all these still leave her a gainer on the whole balance, will it not be downright phrenzy in us ever to look her in the face again, or to contend with her any, even the most essential points, since victory and defeat, though by different ways, equally conduct us to our ruin? Subjection to France without a struggle will indeed be less for our honour, but on every principle of our author it must be more for our advantage. According to his representation of things, the question is only concerning the most easy fall. France had not discovered, our statesman tells us, at the end of that war, the triumphs of defeat, and the resources which are derived from bankruptcy. For my poor part, I do not wonder at their blindness. But the English ministers saw further. Our author has at length let foreigners also into the secret, and made them altogether as

* P. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »