« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
er, even his darling popularity, for the benefit of a people whom he has never seen.
This is the road that all heroes have trod before him. He is traduced and abused for his supposed motives. He will remember, that obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of all true glory : he will remember, that it was not only in the Roman customs, but it is in the nature and constitution of things, that calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph. These thoughts will support a mind, which only exists for honour, under the burthen of temporary reproach. He is doing indeed a great good; such as rarely falls to the lot, and almost as rarely coincides with the desires, of any man. Let him use his time. Let him give the whole length of the reins to his benevolence. He is now on a great eminence, where the eyes of mankind are turned to him. He may live long, he may do much. But here is the summit. He never can exceed what he does this day.
He has faults; but they are faults that, though they may in a small degree tarnish the lustre, and sometimes impede the march of his abilities, have nothing in them to extinguish the fire of great virtues. In those faults, there is no mixture of deceit, of hypocrisy, of pride, of ferocity, of complexional despotism, or want of feeling for the distresses of mankind. His are faults which might exist in a descendant of Henry the Fourth of France, as they did exist in that father of his country. Henry the Fourth wished that he might live to see a fowl in the pot of every peasant in his kingdom. That sentiment of homely benevolence was worth all the splendid sayings that are recorded of kings. But he wished perhaps for more than 'could be obtained, and the goodness of the man exceeded the power of the king. But this gentleman, a subject, may this day say this at least, with truth, that he secures the rice in his pot to every man in India. A poet of antiquity thought it one of the first distinctions to a prince whom he meant to celebrate, that through a long succession of generations, he had been the progenitor of an able and virtuous citizen, who, by force of the arts of peace, had corrected governments of oppression, and suppressed wars of rapine.
Indole proh quanta juvenis, quantumque daturus
This was what was said of the predecessor of the only person to whose eloquence it does not wrong that of the mover of this bill to be compared. But the Ganges and the Indus are the patrimony of the fame of my honourable friend, and not of Cicero. I confess, I anticipate with joy the reward of those, whose whole consequence, power, and authority, exist only for the benefit of mankind; and I carry my mind to all the people, and all the names and descriptions, that, relieved by this bill, will bless the labours of this parliament, and the confidence which the best house of commons has given to him who the best deserves it. The little cavils of party will not be heard, where freedom and happiness will be felt. There is not a tongue, a nation, or religion in India, which will not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of this house, and of him who proposes to you this great work. Your names will never be separated before the throne of the Divine Goodness, in whatever language, or with whatever rites, pardon is asked for sin, and reward for those who imitate the Godhead in his universal bounty to his creatures. These honours you deserve, and they will surely be paid, when all the jargon of influence, and party, and patronage, are swept into oblivion.
I have spoken what I think, and what I feel, of the mover of this bill. An honourable friend of mine, speaking of his merits, was charged with having made a studied panegyrick. I don't know what his was. Mine, I am sure, is a studied panegyrick; the fruit of much meditation; the result of the observation of near twenty years. For my own part, I am happy that I have lived to see this day; I feel myself overpaid for the labours of eighteen years, when, at this late period, I am able to take my share, by one humble vote, in destroying a tyranny that exists to the disgrace of this nation, and the destruction of so large a part of the human species.
TO HIS MAJESTY, MOVED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, BY THE RIGHT HON. EDMUND BURKE, AND SECONDED BY WILLIAM WINDHAM, ESQ. ON MONDAY, JUNE 14, 1784, AND NEGATIVED.--WITH
A PREFACE AND NOTES.
He representation now given to the publick relates to some of the most essential privileges of the house of commons. It would appear of little importance, if it were to be judged by its reception in the place where it was proposed. There it was rejected without debate. The subject matter may, perhaps, hereafter appear to merit a more serious consideration. Thinking men will scarcely regard the penal dissolution of a parliament as a very trifling concern. Such a dissolution must operate forcibly as an example ; and it much imports the people of this kingdom to consider what lesson that example is to teach.
The late house of commons was not accused of an interested compliance to the will of a court. The charge against them was of a different nature. They were charged with being actuated by an extravagant spirit of independency. This species of offence is so closely connected with merit; this vice bears so near a resemblance to virtue ; that the flight of a house of commons above the exact temperate medium of independence, ought to be correctly ascertained, lest we give encouragement to dispositions of a less generous nature, and less safe for the people; we ought to call for very solid and convincing proofs of the existence, and of the magnitude too of the evils, which are charged to an independent spirit, before we give sanction to any measure, that by checking a spirit so easily damped, and so hard to be excited, may affect the liberty of a part of our constitution, which, if not free, is worse than useless.
The Editor does not deny, that by possibility such an abuse may exist : but primâ fronte, there is no reason to presume it. The house of commons is not, by its complexion, peculiarly subject to the distempers of an independent habit. Very little compulsion is necessary, on the part of the people, to render it abundantly complaisant to ministers and favourites of all descriptions. It required a great length of time, very considerable industry and perseverance, no vulgar policy, the union of many men and many tempers, and the concurrence of events which do not happen every day, to build up an independent house of commons. Its demolition was accomplished in a moment; and it was the work of ordinary hands. But to construct is a matter of skill; to demolish, force and fury are sufficient.
The late house of commons has been punished for its independence. That example is made. Have we an example on record, of a house of commons punished for its servility? The rewards of a senate so disposed, are manifest to the world. Several gentlemen are very desirous of altering the constitution of the house of commons: but they must alter the frame and constitution of human nature itself, before they can so fashion it by any mode of election, that its conduct will not be influenced by reward and punishment; by fame, and by disgrace. If these examples take root in the minds of men, what members hereafter will be bold enough not to be corrupt ? Especially as the king's high-way of obsequiousness is so very broad and easy. To make a passive member of parliament, no dignity of mind, no principles of honour, no resolution, no ability, no industry, no learning, no experience are in the least degree necessary. To defend a post of importance against a powerful enemy, requires an Elliot; a drunken invalid is qualified to hoist a white flag, or to deliver up the keys of the fortress on his knees.
The gentlemen chosen into this parliament, for the purpose of this surrender, were bred to better things; and are no doubt qualified for other service. But for this strenuous exertion of inactivity, for the vigorous task of submission and passive obedience, all their learning and ability are rather a
matter of personal ornament to themselves, than of the least use in the performance of their duty.
The present surrender, therefore, of rights and privileges, without examination, and the resolution to support any minister given by the secret advisers of the crown, determines not only on all the power and authority of the house, but it settles the character and description of the men who are to compose it; and perpetuates that character as long as it may be thought expedient to keep up a phantom of popular representation.
It is for the chance of some amendment before this new settlement takes a permanent form, and while the matter is yet soft and ductile, that the editor has republished this piece, and added some notes and explanations to it. His intentions, he hopes, will excuse him to the original mover, and to the world. He acts from a strong sense of the incurable ill effects of holding out the conduct of the late house of commons, as an example to be shunned by future representatives of the people.
RELATIVE TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE.
Luna, 14° Die Junij, 1784. A Motion was made, That a representation be presented to his majesty, most humbly to offer to his royal consideration, that the address of this house, upon his majesty's speech from the throne, was dictated solely by our conviction of his majesty's own most gracious intentions towards his people, which, as we feel with gratitude, so we are ever ready to acknowledge with cheerfulness and satisfaction.
Impressed with these sentiments, we were willing to separate from our general expressions of duty, respect, and veneration to his majesty's royal person and his princely virtues, all discussion whatever, with relation to several of the mat