Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

To get rid of all this intermediate and independent importance, and to secure to the Court the unlimited and uncontrouled use of its own vast influence, under the fole direction of its own private favour, has for some years past been the great object of policy. If this were compassed, the influence of the Crown must of course produce all the effects which the most fanguine partizans of the Court could possibly desire. Government might then be carried on without any concurrence on the part of the people; without any attention to the dignity of the greater, or to the affections of the lower forts. A new project was therefore devised, by a certain set of intriguing men, totally different from the fystem 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 earliest attempt in the execution of this design was to set up for Minister, a person, in rank indeed respectable, and very ample in fortune; but who, to the moment of this vast and sudden elevation, was little known or confidered in the kingdom. To him the whole nation was to yield an immediate and implicit submission. But whether it was for want of firmness to bear up against the first opposition ; or that things were not yet fully ripened, or that this method was not found the most eligible; that idea was soon abandoned. The inftrumental part of the project was a little altered,

10

to accommodate it to the time, and to bringe things more gradually and more surely to the one great end proposed.

The first part of the reformed plan was to draw a line which should 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. By this operation, two systems 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. The latter were alone to be responsible; whilst the real advisers, who enjoyed all the power, were effectually removed from all the danger.

Secondly, A party under these leaders was to be formed in favour of the Court against the Ministry: this party was to have a large share in the emoJuments of Government, and to hold it totally feparate from, and independent of, ostensible Administration.

The third point, and that on which the success of the whole scheme ultimately depended, was to bring Parliament to an acquiescence in this project. Parliament was therefore to be taught by degrees a total indifference to the persons, rank, influence, abilities, connexions, and character, of the Ministers of the Crown'. By means of a discipline, on which I shall say more hereafter, that body was to be habituated to the most opposite interests, and the most discordant

politicks;

[ocr errors]

politicks. All connexions and dependencies among subjects were to be entirely diffolved. As hitherto business had gone through the hands of leaders of Whigs or Tories, men of talents to conciliate the people, and engage to their confidence, now the method was to be altered; and the lead was to be given to men of no fort of consideration or credit in the country. This want of natural importance was to be their very title to delegated power. Members of Parliament were to be hardened into an insensibility to pride as well as to duty. Those high and haughty sentiments, which are the great support of independence, were to be let down gradually. Point of honour and precedence were no more to be regarded in Parliamentary decorum, than in a Turkish army. It was to be avowed as a conItitutional maxim, that the King might appoint one of his footr:ren, or one of your footmen, for Minister; and that he ought to be, and that he would be, as well followed as the first name for rank or wisdom in the nation. Thus Parliament was to look on, as if perfectly unconcerned, while á cabal of the closet and back-stairs was substituted in the place of a national AdminiItration.

With such a degree of acquiescence, any measure of any Court might well be deemed thoroughly secure. The capital objects, and by much the most flattering characteristicks of arbitrary power, would be obtained. Every thing would be drawn from its holdings in the country to the personal favour and inclination of the

Prince.

Prince. This favour would be the fole introduction to power, and the only tenure by which it was to be held: so that no person looking towards another, and all looking towards the Court, it was impoffible but that the motive which solely influenced every man's hopes must come in time to govern every man's conduct; till at last the servility became universal, in spite of the dead letter of any laws or institutions whatsoever.

How it should happen that any man could be tempted to venture upon such a project of Government, may at first view appear surprizing. But the fact is, that opportunities very inviting to such an attempt have offered ; and the scheme itself was not destitute of some arguments not wholly unplausible to recommend it. These opportunities and these arguments, the use that has been made of both, the plan for carrying this new scheme of government into execution, and the effects which it has produced, are in my opinion worthy of our serious consideration.

His Majesty came to the throne of these kingdoms with more advantages than any of his predecessors fince the Revolution. Fourth in descent, and third in succession of his Royal family, even the zealots of hereditary right, in him, saw something to flatter their favourite prejudices; and to justify a transfer of their attachments, without a change in their principles. The person and cause of the Pretender were become contemptible; his title disowned throughout Europe, his party disbanded in England.

His

[ocr errors]

His Majesty came indeed to the inheritance of a mighty war; but, victorious in every part of the globe, peace was always in his power, not to negociate, but to dictate. No foreign habis tudes or attachments withdrew him from the cultivation of his power at home. His revenue for the civil establishment, fixed (as it was then thought) at a large, but definite fum, was ample, without being invidious. His influence, by additions from conquest, by an augmentation of debt, by an increase of military and naval establishment, much strengthened and extended, And coming to the throne in the prime and full vigour of youth, as from affection there was a strong dislike, so from dread there seemed to be a general averseness, from giving any thing like offence to a Monarch, against whole resentment opposition could not look for a refuge in any sort of reversionary hope.

These singular advantages inspired his Majesty only with a more ardent desire to preserve unimpaired the spirit of that national freedom, to which he owed a situation so full of glory. But to others it suggested sentiments of a very different nature. They thought they now beheld an opportunity (by a certain fort of States, men never long undiscovered or unemployed) of drawing to themselves, by the aggrandisement of a Court Faction, a degree of power which they could never hope to derive from natural influence or from honourable service; and which it was impossible they could hold with the least security, whilst the system of Administration

C2

rested

« AnteriorContinuar »