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affairs should be brought under the management or controu" of any minister, however able or upright, might not the same fate be reasonably apprehended ? and that it would be destructive of that trade and commerce, upon which the maritime power and riches, and, consequently, the safety and welfare of this nation depend in so eminent a degree? Were it even possible that the riches of India could be brought into this country, through the hands of any minister, they must inevitably' be destructive to the constitution.'
XI. Thoughts on the Cause of the present Discontents. 4to. Pr. 26. 6d.
Dodfley. - Hoc vero occultum, intestinum domefticum malum, non modo non existit, verum etiam opprimit antequain perspicere atque explorare potueris. Cic. THE subject of this pamphlet is announced to the reader ia
the title-page : from the operation and influence of one par. ticular evil, our author derives all the discontents which have of late gone abroad among the people. This is the principle and the scope of his pamphlet. Whether the reader will be satisfied with this ingenious writer's solution, is a point somewhat problematical ; but that he may judge for himself, we shall er: deavour to give a compendious analysis of the whole work, without interrupting the thread of the author's reasoning, by stopping to combat any of the positions upon which we may happen to entertain a different opinion. When the system of this refined politician is once unfolded, the observacions which we have to offer, inay be comprised in a narrower compafs, and will perhaps throw a stronger light upon the question.
" It is an undertaking, says our author, of some degree of delicacy to examine into the cause of public disorders. If a man happens not to succeed in such an enquiry, he will be thought weak and visionary. When the affairs of the nation are distracted, private people are, by the spirit of the law, justified in stepping a little out of their ordinary sphere.
• To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present • poffesors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind; indecil the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and hainours have existed in all times; yet as all times have 1101 been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself, in distinguishing that complaint, which only characterizes the general infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season.
. Our ministers are of opinion, that the encrease of our trade and manufactures, that our growth by colonization and by conquest, have concurred to accumulate immense wealth in the hands of lonie individuals ; that the infolence of some from their enormous wealth, and the boldness of others from a guilty poverty, have
rendered them capable of the most atrocious attempts. They contend, that no adequate provocation has been given for so spread ing a discontent: the wicked industry of some libellers, joined to the intriguies of a few disappointed politicians, have, in their opi. nion, been able to produce this unnatural ferment in the nation.''
Our author proceeds to make some concessions to government, before he assigns what he takes to be the cause of our discontents. He says, ' Every age has its own manners, and its politicks dependent upon them; and the same attempts will not be made against a con. ftitution fully formed and matured, that were used to destroy it in the cradle, or to resist its growth during its infancy.
The power of the crown, almost dead and rotten as prerogative, has grown up anew, with much more strength, and far less odium, under the name of influence.--At the Revolution, the court was obliged to delegate a part of its powers to men of such intereft as could support, and of such fidelity as would adhere to, its establishment. But as the title to the crown grew stronger by long possession, and by the constant increase of its influence, these helps have of late seemed to certain persons no better than incumbrances. To get rid of all this intermediate and independent importance, and to recure to the court the unlimited and uncontrolled use of its own val influence, under the fole direction of its own private favour, has for some years paft been the great object of policy. A new project was therefore devised, by a certain set of intriguing men, totally different from the system of administration which had prevailed since the accession of the house of Brunswick. This project, I have heard, was first conceived by some persons in the court of Frederick prince of Wales,
• The first part of the reformed plan was to draw a line which pould separate the court from the ministry. , Hitherto these names had been looked upon as synonymous; but for the future, court and administration were to be considered as things totally distinct : two syftems of administration were to be formed; one which should be in the real secret and confidence: the other merely ostensible, to perform the official and executory duties of government.
• Secondly, A party was to be formed in favour of the court againft the ministry : this party was to have a large share in the emoluments of government, and to hold it totally separate from, and independent of, ostensible adminiftration. Parliament was to look on, as if perfectly unconcerned ; while a cabal of the closet and back stairs was substituted in the place of a national administration,
His Majesty came to the throne of these kingdoms with more advantages than any of his predecessors since the Revolution, Fourthi in descent, and third in succession of his royal family, even the zealots of hereditary right, in him, saw something to fatter their favourite prejudices; and to justify a transfer of their attachments, without a change in their principles.The greatest weight of popu. lar opinion and party connexion were then with the duke of New. castle and Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt was first attacked. Not satisfied with removing him from power, they endeavoured by various artifices to ruin his character. The other party seemed rather pleased to get rid of so oppressive a support; not perceiving, that their own fall was prepared by his, and involved in it. i
* For the time were pulled down, in the persons of the whig leaders and of Mr. Pitt (in spite of the fervices of the one at the acceffion of the royal family, and the recent services of the other in the war), the two only securities for the importance of the people; poruer arising from popularity; and power arising from connexion. A new
party was formed called King's FRIENDS, or king's men, or in the technical language of the court, Double Cabinet ; in French or Eng. lith, as you choole to pronounce it.
About four years ago, during the administration of the marquis of Rockingham, an attempt was made (but without any idea of proscription) to break their corps, to discountenance their doctrines, and to revive connexions of a different kind.
"It may appear somewhat affected, that in so much discourse upon this extraordinary party, I Mould say so little of the earl of Bute, who is the supposed head of it. But this was neither owing to affectation nor inadvertence. I have carefully avoided the introduction of personal reflexions of any kind. Much the greater part of the topicks which have been used to blacken this nobleman, åre either unjuft or frivolous. This system has not risen solely from the ambition of lord Bute. We should have been tried with it, if the earl of Bute had never existed ; and it will want neither a contriving head nor active members, when the earl of Bute exists no longer.
"A plan of favouritism for our executory government is essen. tially at variance with the plan of our legislature. It had always, until of late, been held the first duty of parliament, to refuse to fupport government, until power was in the hands of persons who were acceptable to the people, or while factions predominated in the court in which the nation' had no confidence. Formerly this power of control was what kept ministers in awe of parliaments, and parliaments in reverence with the people. If the use of this power of control on the system and persons of administration is gone, every thing is lost, parliament and all.-There is, in my opinion, a peculiar venoin and malignity in this political distemper beyond any that I have heard or read of.
The interior ministry are sensible, that war is a situation which sets in its full light the value of the hearts of a people ; and they well know, that the beginning of the importance of the people must be the end of theirs. Foreign powers, confident of the knowledge of their character, have not scrupled to violate the most (olemn treaties. Such was the conquest of Corsica, by the profetied enemies of the freedom of mankind, in defiance of those who were formerly its professed defenders. Such I call the ransom of Manilla, and the demand on France for the East India prisoners.
If by any chance the ministers, who itand before the curtain, possess, or affect any spirit, it makes little or no impreilion. Foreign courts and ministers know that those shadows of ministers have nothing to do in the ultimate disposal of things. Of this nature was that aftonilliing transaction, in which lord Rochford, our ambassa. dor at Paris, remonstrated against the attempt upon Cortica, in consequence of a direct authority from lord Shelburne. This remonstrance the French minister treated with the contempt that was natural; as he was assured, from the ambassador of his court to ours, that these orders of lord Shelburne were not supported by the rest of the (I had like to have said British) administration. Lord Rocliford, a man of fpirit, could not endure this situation. The consequences were, however, curious. He returns from Paris, and comes home full of anger. Lord Shelburne, who gave the orders, is obliged to give up the feals. Lord Rochford, who obeyed these or. ders, receives them. He goes, however, into another department of the saine office, that he might not be obliged officially to acqui.
VOL. XXIX, April, 1770.
esce in one situation under what he had officially remonstrated against in another. At Paris, the duke of Choiseul considered this office arrangement as a compliment paid to him : here it was spoke of as an attention to the delicacy of lord Rochford. But whether the compliment was to one or both, to this nation it was the same.
. Such has been the aspect of our foreign politics, under the infuence of a double cabinet. In what manner our domestic æconomy is aifected by this system, it is needless to explain. It is the perpe. tual subject of their own complaints.-When the people conceive that laws, and tribunals, and even popular assemblies, are perverted from their ends, a sullen gloom, and furious disorder, prevail by fits; the nation loses its relish tor peace and prosperity, as it did in that feason of fullness which opened our troubles in the time of Charles I. Fierce licentiousness begets violent restraints. The military arm is the fole reliance; and then, call your constitution what you please, it is the sword that governs. Íhe civil power, like every other that calls in the aid of an ally stronger than itself, perishes by the aslistance it receives. One mob is hired to destroy another; a procedure which at once encourages the boldness of the populace, and juftiy increases their discontent. Men become pensioners of state on account of their abilities in the array of riot, and the discipline of confusion. These are the consequences inevitable to our public peace, from the scheme of rendering the executory government at once odjaus and feeble, and inventing for it a new control, unknown to the constitution, an interior cabinet ; which brings the whole body of government into confusion and contempt.
« The grand principle which first recommended this system at court, was the pretence to prevent the king from being endlaved by a faction, and made a prisoner in his closet.--But suppose we were to ask, whether the king has been richer than his predecessors in accumulated wealth, ince the establishment of the plan of favouritilm? I believe it will be found that the picture of royal indigence which our court has presented until this year, has been truly humiliating. If the public treasures had been exhausted in magni. ficence and Splendour, this distress would have been accounted for, and in loine mealure justified. But the generality of people, it must be confessed, do feel a good deal mortified, when they compare the wants of the court with its expences. Nothing expended, nothing saved. Their wonder is increased by their knowledge, that besides the revenue settled on his Majesty's civil list to the amount of 800,000). a year, he has a farther aid, from a large penfion lift, near 90,000l. a year, in Ireland ; from the produce of the duchy of Lancatter (which we are told has been greatly improved); from the revenue of the duchy of Cornwall; from the American quitrents ; from the four and a half per cent. duty in the Leeward Illands; this last worth to be sure considerably more than 40,000 1. a year. The whole is certainly not much thort of a million annually.
This produce the people do not believe to be lioarded, nor perceive to be spent. It is accounted for in the only manner it can, by supposing that it is drawn away, for the support of that court faction, which, whilst it distresses the nation, impoverithes the prince in every one of his relources. ." If therefore, this system has so ill answered its own grand pretence of saving the king from the neceflity of ernploying persons dilayreeable to him, has it given more peace and tranquillity to his Majelty's private hours ? No, moit certainly, is he more rich, or
more more splendid, or more powerful, or more at his ease, by so many labours and contrivances? Have they not beggared his exchequer, tarnished the splendor of his court, funk his dignity, galled his feelings, discomposed the whole order and happiness of his private life?
• It remains, that we should consider, with a little attention, the operation of this system upon parliament.-In speaking of this body, I have my eye chiefly on the house of commons. The houte of commons was supposed originally to be no part of the standing yovernment of this country. It was considered as a control, issuing immediately from the people, and speedily to be resolved into the mass from whence it arose, Whatever alterations time and the neceilary accommodation of business may have introduced, this character can never be sustained, unless the house of commons thall be made to bear some stamp of the actual disposition of the people at large. By this want of sympathy they would cease to be an house of com. mons.-An addresling house of cominons, and a petitioning nation ; an house of commons full of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair; in the utmost harmony with minifters, whom the people regard with the utmost abhorrence ; who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them for impeachments; who are eager to grant, when the general voice demands account; who, in all dif. putes between the people and adminiftration, presume against the people; who punish their disorders, but refuse even to enquire into tbe provocations to them; this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this conftitution. Such an assembly may be a great, wise, awful senate ; but it is not to any popular purpose an house of commons.
" It is very clear that we cannot free ourselves entirely from this great inconvenience; but I would not increase an evil, because I was not able to remove it; and because it was not in my power to keep the house of commons religiously true to its first principles, I would not argue for carrying it to a total oblivion of them. In the last session, the corps called the king's friends, made an hardy attempt all at once to alter the right of election itself; to put it into the power of the house of commons to disable any person difagreeable to them from fitting in parliament, without any other rule than their own pleasure. "
• A violent rage for the punishment of Mr. Wilkes was the pretence of the whole. I will not believe, what no other man living believes, that Mr. Wilkes was punished for the indecency of his publications, or the impiety of his ransacked closet. I conclude that Mr. Wilkes is the object of persecution, not on account of what he has done in conmon with orbers who are the objects of reward, but for that in which he differs from many of them : that he is pursued for the fpirited difpofitions which are blended with his vices ; for his unconquerable firmness, for his resolute, indefatigable, Itrenuous relittance against oppression.
We must purposely Thut our eyes, if we consider this matter merely as a contest between the house of compons and the electors. The true contest is between the electors of the kingdom and the crown; the crown acting by an initrunental houle of commons.
• To compieat the scheme of bringing our couit to a resem. blance to the neighbouring monarchies, it was necellary, in effect, to destroy those appropriations of revenue, which seein to limit the property, as the other laws had done the powers, of the crown.