Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

by Ministers and Placemen is a strong argument in its favour. In my opinion, this is a sort of begging the Question. Before we can suppose this to be an argument in favour of the Motion for excluding Placemen, we must suppose, that Ministers and Placemen oppose it, not because they think it wrong, but because that they are Ministers and Placemen, which is the very Queftion now in debate. I do not believe, that ever any any Minister or Placeman opposed, or supported a Question in this House, contrary to his private sentiments, and only because he was a Minister or Placeman. I am sure their conduct of late years has given us no room to think fo; nor can we ever have room to think so, as long as none but Gentlemen of credit and honour are employed in the Administration, or in any place of honour and profit under the Crown. If mere upstarts, or persons of no fortune or credit were employed, and by illegal methods brought into this House, for by fair means they could not, there might be some room for making such a supposition; and then there would be fome cause for bringing in such a Bill as is now proposed: but when I look sound me, and consider the particular circumstances of these Gentlemen now here, who have the honour to be at the fame time in the service of the Crown, I must look upon the danger now pretended to be so real and imninent, to be as chimerical à danger as the most luxuriant fancy can invent.

I shall agree with the Honourable Gentlemen who seem fo fond of this Bill, that if the Crown could gain an absolute and uncontroulable power over all, or a majority of the elections in the kingdom, every Parliament thus chosen by the power would be under the direction of the Crown, and in this case our Conftitution would be at an end; but this I think impossible. Whilst the Crown pursues right measures, whilst none but Gentlemen of good credit and fortune are employed in the Administration, or in any fuperior Poft or Office under the Administration, the Crown will certainly have a great influence both in Parliament and at Elections : but this proceeds from

the

the wisdom and uprightness of its measures, and from the weight of those that are employed; and it would certainly cease as soon as the Crown began to pursue contrary meafures; because we must suppose the Administration would then certainly be deserted, and opposed by all; or most Gentlemen of any fortune or credit in their country, would soon unite in measures in making a facrifice of themselves, as well as their country, which is a supposition that cannot, I think, be made nor pretended by any man whose head is found and heart sincere.

In all Questions, Sir, which do not admit of demonstration, there must be a variety of opinions; and as Questions of a political nature are lefs capable of demonstration than any other, it is natural to see a difference of sentiments in every country like this, where the People have not only a power of judging, but a liberty to talk and write against the measures "pursued by Government: this is natural, and even necessary in every country where the People are free: and as every man is fond of his own opinion, and fully convinced of his having reason on bis fide, he is apt to imagine, that those who differ from him must be governed by some prejudice, or by some selfish confideration. From hence it is, that all those who dira approve of the Measures of the Government conclude, that the approbation of those who differ from them, proceeds from the influence of some lucrative Post they are in possession or expectation of; and on the other hand, those that approve of and support the measures pursued by the Government, are apt to conclude, that the opposition is entirely owing to party prejudice, or to malice and resentment. For my part, I fhall always endeavour to keep in the middle course, and to believe that both are in the wrong: and therefore I hall always be against any alteration in our Constitution, when I think that the alteration proposed is founded upon one or other of these mistakes. I should be as much against restraining the Liberties of the People, in order to prevent that influence which is

fupposed supposed to proceed from party-prejudice, malice, and resentó ment, as I shall be against restraining the power or free choice of the Crown, in order to prevent that influence which is supposed to proceed from the disposal of places or preferments. There may, perhaps, I believe, there always will be a little of each in the nation, but never can be of any dangerous consequence to our constitution: on the contrary, they serve as a balance to each other ; so that by removing either without removing the other at the same time, the constitution will run a great risk of being overturned.

There are many causes, Sir, which naturally raise a party against the best and wiseft Administration. In this life it is impossible for us to be completely happy. All men feel some wants, pressures, or misfortunes; and very few are willing to impute them to their own folly, or to any mistake in their own conduct. To such men, the Administration is in politics, what the Devil is in religion; it is the author of all their misdeeds, and the cause of all their sufferings : this naturally breeds in them a bad opinion of the Administration, and then, of course, they not only condemn, but oppose all its measures. This must raise a great many enemies to the Administration in every country; and their number will be considerably increased by those that are disappointed of the honours and preferments they expected, and justly, as they thought, deserved; as well as by those that wish for a change in the Administration, for no other reafun but because they hope for a share in the next. In all countries it is honourable to have a share in the Government of one's country: in rich countries, it is profitable as well as honourable; and as there are but a very few, in any country, that can have a share of the Government, and still fewer that can have such a share as, they think, they deserve, there must be many candidates for every title of honour, or post of profit, that is to be disposed of. Of these candidates, one only can be chosen, and all the rest will, of course, think they have had injustice done them; for few men are so modest, as to think such

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

a disappointment owing to their own want of merit, or to the superior merit of their rival; and from thence they will begin to entertain a secret animosity, nay, perhaps, they will declare an open enmity to those at the head of the Administration.

By these two sorts of men united together, there will always be a considerable party, in every country, ready to condemn and vilify the wisest measures that can be pursued by the Administration : and, as in every free country, there are different parties, as in this country there are at present, and, I believe, always will be different parties, the parties that are by their profession and principles opposite to the party in power, will be ready to find fault with every thing done by the Administration. In this country, I say, Sir, there are, and, I believe, always will be different parties. There are at present, and will be, as long as our present happy establishment endures, three different par, ties in this kingdom: the Jacobites of one side, the Republicans of the other, which I may call the two extremes; and the party for supporting our present happy establishment, which may be justly called the proper mean between these two extremes.

Thus, Sir, we see what a numerous party our Administration must always have to struggle with. All these sorts of men, the discontented, the disappointed, the Jacobites, and the Republie cans, will always be ready to condemn and oppose the measures of the Administration, let them be never so wise, let them be never so just; and by their arguments, they will often be able to prevail with some well-meaning and unthinking men, or at least to stagger them in their opinions. With regard to Parliaments, and the choice of Members of Parliaments, our Administration has no defence against this formidable union of parties; but by the wisdom of their measures, to engage most Gentlemen of interest and fortune in their interest. Whilst the Administration pursues right measures, such Gentlemen will be ready to join with them; and by this means the Administration will al... ways have a prevailing influence, both in Parliament, and at elections; for when a majority of those who have the best for.

tunes, tunes, and greatest interest in their respective counties, are friends to the Administration, it is not at all surprising that an Administration, by means of such friends, should have a prevailing influence at elections, as well as in Parliament. But such friends, or at least a great number of such, no Administration can have, that pursues measures inconsistent with the good of the community in general.

I shall grant, Sir, that a title of honour, or a lucrative post or employment, may be of some service in prevailing with a Gentleman to judge favourable of the Government's measures in all cases, where he is wavering in his opinion; but a bad Government can never, by this way, gain many friends : even a good Government can never gain near so many friends, as it will Jose by causeless discontents and just disappointments: and if you should take away from the Crown the chief advantage it can reap by the disposal of posts and employments, not only a good Administration, but even the Crown itself, may sink under the weight of party-prejudice, supported by caufeless discontents and just disappointment. Therefore, to support the Crown against the disadvantages and opposition which the wiseft and beit Administration must always have to struggle with, I think you ought to leave it in the power of the Crown to dispose of all posts and employments in the same manner they have been hitherto, without any bad effects, disposed of.

Sir Robert IValpole, Jan. 29, 1739.

COMMON fame may be a good foundation for a parliamentary inquiry; but that it always ought to be esteemed such, is what I cannot agree to. A parliamentary inquiry, Sir, must always be attended with many and great inconveniencies. In the first place, it must always raise a great ferment in the nation; and when it relates to foreign affairs, it generally disobliges some of our allies, or disturbs some of the negociations that may then be on foot for the benefit of our trade, or for preserving the tranquillity of Europe. In the next place, it possesses the thoughts

of

« AnteriorContinuar »