Imagens da página

for doing this, as established by the Constitution, is to address his Majesty to remove him from his councils, • Sir, if the general discontent which hath arisen against the Minister, were but of yesterday, or without any just or solid foundation, I should expect it would soon blow over, and therefore should not think it worthy the notice of Parliament; but it has lasted for so many years, was at first so well founded, and has every year since been gathering, from his conduct, so much additional strength, that I have for several Sessions expected such a Motion, as I am now to make, from some other Gentleman, more capable than I am to enforce what he pro. poses : but as no Gentleman has hitherto attempted it, and as this is the last Session of this Parliament, I was unwilling it should expire without answering the People's expectations, which in this respect are so just, so well founded, and so agree. able to our Constitution; therefore I hope I shall be excused for attempting what I think my duty, as a Member of this House, and as a friend to our present happy Establishment.

After what I have said, Sir, I believe no Gentleman can mistake the person I mean: I am convinced every one supposes I mean the Honorable Gentleman, who fits upon the floor, over against me ; and the whole House may fee, he takes it to himself. Against him, there is, I believe, as general a popular discontent, as ever was against any Minister in this kingdom ; and this discontent has lasted so long, that I must say, his having withstood it for so many years, is no great sign of the freedom of our Government; for a free People neither will, nor can be governed by a Minister they hate and despise, As I am only to propose an Address to remove him from his Majesty's Councils, I have no occasion to accuse him of any crime: The People's being generally disfatisfied with him, and suspicious of his conduct, is a fufficient foundation for such an Address, and a sufficient cause for his Majesty's removing him from his councils; because, no Sovereign of these kingdoms pught to employ a Minister, who is become disagreeable to the


generality of the People ; and when any Minister happens to become fo, it is our duty to inform his Majesty of it, that he may give satisfaction to his People, by the removal of such a Minister.

: However, Sir, though I shall not at present charge this Minister with any particular crime, I must beg leave to examine a little into his conduct, in order to thew, that the discontents of the People are not without foundation, and if it be true, what was, and is still generally supposed, it must be allowed, that the methods by which he first advanced himself to the high offices he has ever since enjoyed, were such as could not but be offenfive to every honest man in the nation. The making and unmaking the famous Bank contract; the screening from condign punishment those who, by their wicked and avaricious execution of the trust reposed in them by the South-Sea scheme, which had ruined many thousands; the lumping of public justice, and the subjecting the less guilty to a punishment too severe, in order that the most henious. offenders might escape the punishment they deserved; and the giving up to the SouthSea Company the sum of seven millions sterling, which they had obliged themselves to pay to the Public, a great part of which sum was given to old stockholders, and consequently to those who had never suffered by the scheme, were the steps by which he was supposed to have risen to power, and such steps could not but raise a general distaste at his advancement, and a dread of his administration.

Thus, Sir, he entered into administration with the general disapprobation of the People ; and I am sure, his measures fince have been far from restoring him to their love or esteem. As he began, so has he gone on, oppressing the innocent, imposing upon the credulous, screening the guilty, wasting the public treasure, and endangering the liberties of the People. All this I could evince from every step of his adminiftration, from the beginning to this very day, but I shall confine myself to some of the most remarkable instances, In general, I shall observe,

that that by his advice and influence, a much greater army has all along been kept up than was necessary for the support of our Government, or consistent with our Conftitution, and even that army often augmented without any real cause ; that many squadrons have been fitted out, to the great expence of the nation, and general disturbance of our trade, without any just cause, and, I believe, without so much as a design to employ them effectually, either against our enemies, or for the assistance of our allies; that every method proposed of late years, for securing our Conftitution against our most dangerous enemy, Corruption, has been, by his means, rejected, or rendered in. effectual; whilft, on the other hand, many penal laws have been passed, which have reduced a great number of his Majesty's subjects under the arbitrary power of a Minister and his creatures.

That almost every article of public expence has been increased by the addition of new and useless Officers; and all enquiries into the management of any public money, either prevented or defeated; that votes of credit at the end of a Seffion of Parliament, which always have been thought of dangerous consequences to our Constitution, have by him been made so frequent, that few Sessions have passed without one; that the expence of the Civil Lift has been vastly increased since the beginning of his Administration, though it was then much greater than it had ever amounted to in former times ; to these, Sir, which are all of a domestic nature, I shall add, with regard to our foreign affairs, that ever fince his advice began to be prevalent in our foreign affairs, the trade and particular interest of this nation, have in all treaties and negociations been neglected, the confidence of our most natural allies disregarded, and the favour of our most dangerous enemies courted; and that to this most unaccountable conduct, the present melancholy situation of the affairs of Europe is principally to be ascribed.

I know, Sir, it will be objected, that as every material step in the late conduct of our public affairs, either at home or

· abroad, abroad, has been authorized or approved of by Parliament, what I have faid must be looked on as a general charge against his Majesty's Councils and our Parliament, rather than a perfonal charge against any one Minister ; but this, upon a due confideration, becomes the most heavy, and the most evident charge against the Minister I aiin at. According to our Conftitution, we can have no sole and prime Minister; we ought always to have several prime Ministers or Officers of State ; every such Officer has his own proper department, and no Officer ought to meddle in the affairs belonging to the department of another: but it is publicly known, that this Minister, having obtained a sole influence over all our public councils, has not only assumed the sole direction of all public affairs, but has got every Officer of State removed that would not follow his directions, even in the affairs belonging to his own proper 'department. By this means he hath monopolized all the favours of the Crown, and engrossed the fole disposal of all Places, Pensions, Titles, and Ribbons, as well as of all Preferments, Civil, Military, or Ecclefiaftical.

This, Sir, is of itself a most heinous offence against our Conftitution; but he has greatly aggravated the heinousnefs of his crime; for, having thus monopolized all the favours of the Crown, he has made a blind submission to his direction at elections and in Parliament, the only ground to hope for any honours or Preferment, and the only tenure by which any Gentleman would preserve what he had. This is so notoriously known, that it can stand in need of no proof. Have not many deserving Gentlemen been disappointed in the preferment they had a just title to, upon the bare suspicion of not being blindly devoted to his personal interest? Have not some persons of the highest rank and most illustrious characters been displaced, for no other reason, than because they disdained to sacrifice their honour and conscience to his direction in Parliament ? As no crime, no neglect, no misbehaviour could ever be objected to them, as no other reasons could ever be assigned for depriving


the Crown of their service, this only could be the reason, Nay, has not this Minister himself not only confessed it, but boasted of it? Has he not“faid, and in this House too, that he would be a pitiful fellow of a Minister, who did not displace any Officer that opposed his measures in Parliament ?

Can any Gentleman who heard this declaration desire a proof of the Minister's misconduct, or of his crimes ? Was not this openly avowing one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed by a Minister in this kingdom? Was it not avowing, that he had made use of the favours of the Crown for obtaining a corrupt Majority in both Houses of Parliament, and keeping that Majority in a flavish dependance upon himself alone ? Do not we all know, that even the King himself is not, by our Constitution, to take notice of any man's behaviour in Parliament, far less to make that behaviour a means by which he is to obtain, or a tenure by which he is to hold, the favour of the Crown? And shall we allow a Minister not only to do, but openly to avow, what he ought to be hanged for, should he advise his Sovereign to do so? It is by means of this crime, Sir, that the Minister I am speaking of has obtained the authority or approbation of Parliament in every step of his conduct, and therefore that authority or approbation is so far from being an alleviation, that it is a most heavy aggravation of every wrong step which he has thus got authorized or approved by Parliament. For this reason, in considering any particular kep of his conduct, its being authorized or approved by Parliament can have no weight in his favour, whatever it may have against him. If the step was in itself weak or wicked, or if it now appears from its consequences to have been so, its having been approved of or authorized by Parliament, must be supposed to have proceeded either from his having misled the Parliament by false glosses and asseverations, or from his baving overawed a Majority by means of that crime which he bas lince openly avowed.

Mr, Sands, April 16, 1740.


« AnteriorContinuar »