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quired an influence in the country; the people, on whose favour that influence depends, and from whom it arose, will never be duped into an opinion, that fuch greatness in a peer is the delpotisin of an aristocracy, when they know and feel it to be the effect and pledge of their own importance.
I am no friend to aristocracy, in the sense at least in which that word is usually understood. If it were not a bad habit to moot cases on the supposed ruin of the constitution, I should be free to declare, that if it must perish, I would rather by far fee it refolved into any other form, than lost in that austere and infolent domination. But, whatever my dislikes may be, my fears are not upon that quarter. The question, on the influence of a court, and of a peerage, is not, which of the · two dangers is the moft eligible, but which is the most imminent. He is but a poor observer, who has not seen, that the generality of peers, far from fupporting themselves in a state of independent greatness, are but too apt to fall into an oblivion of their proper dignity, and to run headlong into an abject servitude. Would to God it were true, that the fault, of our peers were too much fpirit! It is worthy of some observation, that these gentlemen, so jealous of aristocracy, make no complaints of the power of those peers (neither few for inconsiderable.) who are always in the train of scourt, and whose. whole weight, must be conÖ'i 8
sidered as a portion of the settled influence of the crown. This is all safe and right; but if some peers (I am very sorry they are not as many as they ought to be) set themselves, in the great concern of peers and commons, against a back-stairs influence and clandestine government, then the alarm begins; then the conftitution is in danger of being forced into an aristocracy.
I rest a little the longer on this court topick, because it was much infifted upon at the time of the great change, and has been since frequently revived by many of the agents of that party: for, whilst they are terrifying the great and opulent with the horrours of mob-government, they are by other managers attempting (though hitherto with little success) to alarm the people with a phantom of tyranny in the nobles. All this is done upon their favourite principle of disunion, of fowing jealousies amongst the different orders of the state, and of disjointing the natural strength of the kingdom; that it may be rendered incapable of resisting the linister designs of wicked inen, who have engroffed the royal power
Thus much of the topicks chosen by the courtiers to recommend their fystem; it will be necefsary to open a little more at large the nature of that · party which was formed for its support. Without this, the whole would have been no better than a
visionary amusement, like the scheme of Harrington's political club, and not a business in which the nation had a real concern. As a powerful party, and a party constructed on a new principle, it is a very inviting object of curiosity...
It must be remembered, that fince the revolution, until the period we are speaking of, the influence of the crown had been always employed in fupporting the ministers of state, and in carrying on the publick business according to their opinions. But the party now in question is formed upon a very different idea. It is to intercept the favour, protection and confidence of the crown in the pafsage to its ministers; it is to come between them and their importance in parliament; it is to separate them from all their natural and acquired dependencies; it is intended as the controul, not the support, of administration. The machinery of this fyftem is perplexed in its movements, and false in its principle. It is formed on a supposition that the king is something external to his government; and that he may be honoured and aggrandized, even by its debility and disgrace. The plan proceeds expressly on the idea of enfeebling the regular executory power. It proceeds on the idea of weakening the state in order to strengthen the court. The scheme depending entirely on distrust, on difconnexion, on mutability by principle, on fyftematick weakness in every particular member; it is impossible that the total result should be substantial strength of any kind.
As a foundation of their scheme, the cabal have established a sort of rota in the court. All sorts of parties, by this means, have been brought into adminiftration, from whence few have had the good fortune to escape without disgrace; none at all without considerable loffes. In the beginning of each arrangement no professions of confidence and support are wanting, to induce the leading men to engage. But while the ministers of the day appear
in all the pomp and pride of power, while they I have all their canvas spread out to the wind, and
every fail, filled with the fair and prosperous gale of royal favour, in a short time they find, they know not how, a current, which sets directly against them; which prevents all progress; and even drives them backwards. They grow alhamed and mortified in a situation, which, by its vicinity to power, only serves to remind them the more strongly of their insignificance. They are obliged either to execute the orders of their inferiours, or to see themselves opposed by the natural instruments of their office. With the loss of their dig. nity they lose their temper. In their turn they grow troublesome to that cabal which, whether it supports or opposes, equally disgraces and equally betrays them. It is foon found necessary to get
rid of the heads of administration; but it is of the heads only. As there always are many rotten members belonging to the best connexions, it is not hard to persuade several to continue in office without their leaders. By this means the party goes out much thinner than it came in ; and is only reduced in ftrength by its temporary poffeffion of power. Befides, if by accident, or in course of changes, that power, fhould be recovered, the junto have thrown up a retrenchment of these carcales, which may serve to cover themselves in a day of danger. They conclude, not unwisely, that fuch rotten members will become the firft objects of disgust and resentment to their antient connexions. · They contrive to form in the outward adminiftration two parties at the least; which, whilft they are tearing one another to pieces, are both competitors for the favour and protection of the cabal; and, by their emulation, contribute to throw every thing more and more into the hands of the inte
riour managers. in.:: pin A minister of state will fometimes keep himself
totally estranged from all his colleagues ;; will dif. fer from them in their councils, will privately traverfe, and publickly oppose, their measures. He wi!), however, continue in his employment. In, stead of suffering any mark of displeasure, he will be distinguished by an unbounded profufion of