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Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. by Edmund Burke

Part 2 out of 9

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in action, to find out proper means towards those ends, and to employ
them with effect. Therefore every honourable connection will avow it is
their first purpose to pursue every just method to put the men who hold
their opinions into such a condition as may enable them to carry their
common plans into execution, with all the power and authority of the
state. As this power is attached to certain situations, it is their duty
to contend for these situations. Without a proscription of others, they
are bound to give to their own party the preference in all things; and
by no means, for private considerations, to accept any offers of power
in which the whole body is not included; nor to suffer themselves to be
led, or to be controlled, or to be overbalanced, in office or in
council, by those who contradict the very fundamental principles on
which their party is formed, and even those upon which every fair
connection must stand. Such a generous contention for power, on such
manly and honourable maxims, will easily be distinguished from the mean
and interested struggle for place and emolument. The very style of such
persons will serve to discriminate them from those numberless imposters
who have deluded the ignorant with professions incompatible with human
practice, and have afterwards incensed them by practices below the level
of vulgar rectitude.


Every profession, not excepting the glorious one of a soldier, or the
sacred one of a priest, is liable to its own particular vices, which,
however, form no argument against those ways of life; nor are the vices
themselves inevitable to every individual in those professions. Of such
a nature are connections in politics; essentially necessary for the full
performance of our public duty, accidentally liable to degenerate into
faction. Commonwealths are made of families, free commonwealths of
parties also; and we may as well affirm, that our natural regards and
ties of blood tend inevitably to make men bad citizens, as that the
bonds of our party weaken those by which we are held to our country.

Some legislators went so far as to make neutrality in party a crime
against the state. I do not know whether this might not have been rather
to overstrain the principle. Certain it is, the best patriots in the
greatest commonwealths have always commended and promoted such
connections. Idem sentire de republica, was with them a principal ground
of friendship and attachment; nor do I know any other capable of forming
firmer, dearer, more pleasing, more honourable, and more virtuous
habitudes. The Romans carried this principle a great way. Even the
holding of offices together, the disposition of which arose from chance,
not selection, gave rise to a relation which continued for life. It was
called necessitudo sortis; and it was looked upon with a sacred
reverence. Breaches of any of these kinds of civil relation were
considered as acts of the most distinguished turpitude. The whole people
was distributed into political societies, in which they acted in support
of such interests in the state as they severally affected. For it was
then thought no crime to endeavour, by every honest means, to advance to
superiority and power those of your own sentiments and opinions. This
wise people was far from imagining that those connections had no tie,
and obliged to no duty; but that men might quit them without shame, upon
every call of interest. They believed private honour to be the great
foundation of public trust; that friendship was no mean step towards
patriotism; that he who, in the common intercourse of life, showed he
regarded somebody besides himself, when he came to act in a public
situation, might probably consult some other interest than his own.


They were a race of men (I hope in God the species is extinct) who, when
they rose in their place, no man living could divine, from any known
adherence to parties, to opinions, or to principles, from any order or
system in their politics, or from any sequel or connection in their
ideas, what part they were going to take in any debate. It is
astonishing how much this uncertainty, especially at critical times,
called the attention of all parties on such men. All eyes were fixed on
them, all ears open to hear them; each party gaped, and looked
alternately for their vote, almost to the end of their speeches. While
the house hung on this uncertainty, now the HEAR HIMS rose from this
side--now they rebellowed from the other; and that party, to whom they
fell at length from their tremulous and dancing balance, always received
them in a tempest of applause. The fortune of such men was a temptation
too great to be resisted by one to whom a single whiff of incense
withheld gave much greater pain than he received delight in the clouds
of it which daily rose about him from the prodigal superstition of
innumerable admirers. He was a candidate for contradictory honours; and
his great aim was to make those agree in admiration of him who never
agreed in anything else.


Let us learn from our experience. It is not support that is wanting to
government, but reformation. When ministry rests upon public opinion, it
is not indeed built upon a rock of adamant; it has, however, some
stability. But when it stands upon private humour, its structure is of
stubble, and its foundation is on quicksand. I repeat it again--He that
supports every administration subverts all government. The reason is
this: The whole business in which a court usually takes an interest goes
on at present equally well, in whatever hands, whether high or low, wise
or foolish, scandalous or reputable; there is nothing, therefore, to
hold it firm to any one body of men, or to any one consistent scheme of
politics. Nothing interposes to prevent the full operation of all the
caprices and all the passions of a court upon the servants of the
public. The system of administration is open to continual shocks and
changes, upon the principles of the meanest cabal, and the most
contemptible intrigue. Nothing can be solid and permanent. All good men
at length fly with horror from such a service. Men of rank and ability,
with the spirit which ought to animate such men in a free state, while
they decline the jurisdiction of dark cabal on their actions and their
fortunes, will, for both, cheerfully put themselves upon their country.
They will trust an inquisitive and distinguishing parliament; because it
does inquire, and does distinguish. If they act well, they know that, in
such a parliament, they will be supported against any intrigue; if they
act ill, they know that no intrigue can protect them. This situation,
however awful, is honourable. But in one hour, and in the self-same
assembly, without any assigned or assignable cause, to be precipitated
from the highest authority to the most marked neglect, possibly into the
greatest peril of life and reputation, is a situation full of danger,
and destitute of honour. It will be shunned equally by every man of
prudence, and every man of spirit.


Nothing in the history of mankind is like their progress. For my part, I
never cast an eye on their flourishing commerce, and their cultivated
and commodious life, but they seem to me rather ancient nations grown to
perfection through a long series of fortunate events, and a train of
successful industry, accumulating wealth in many centuries, than the
colonies of yesterday; than a set of miserable outcasts, a few years
ago, not so much sent as thrown out, on the bleak and barren shore of a
desolate wilderness, three thousand miles from all civilized


That connection and faction are equivalent terms, is an opinion which
has been carefully inculcated at all times by unconstitutional
statesmen. The reason is evident. Whilst men are linked together, they
easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are
enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united
strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or
discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and
resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other's
principles, nor experienced in each other's talents, nor at all
practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in
business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest,
subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a
public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection,
the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has
his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly
unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory
into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported,
desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle
designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine,
the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied
sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.


Great men are the guide-posts and land-marks in the state. The credit of
such men at court, or in the nation, is the sole cause of all the public
measures. It would be an invidious thing (most foreign, I trust, to what
you think my disposition) to remark the errors into which the authority
of great names has brought the nation, without doing justice at the same
time to the great qualities whence that authority arose. The subject is
instructive to those who wish to form themselves on whatever of
excellence has gone before them. There are many young members in the
house (such of late has been the rapid succession of public men) who
never saw that prodigy, Charles Townshend; nor of course know what a
ferment he was able to excite in everything by the violent ebullition of
his mixed virtues and failings. For failings he had undoubtedly--many of
us remember them; we are this day considering the effect of them. But he
had no failings which were not owing to a noble cause; to an ardent,
generous, perhaps an immoderate, passion for fame; a passion which is
the instinct of all great souls.


The power of the people, within the laws, must show itself sufficient to
protect every representative in the animated performance of his duty, or
that duty cannot be performed. The House of Commons can never be a
control on other parts of government, unless they are controlled
themselves by their constituents; and unless these constituents possess
some right in the choice of that house, which it is not in the power of
that house to take away. If they suffer this power of arbitrary
incapacitation to stand, they have utterly perverted every other power
of the House of Commons. The late proceeding I will not say IS contrary
to law, it MUST be so; for the power which is claimed cannot, by any
possibility, be a legal power in any limited member of government.


It is no inconsiderable part of wisdom, to know how much of an evil
ought to be tolerated; lest, by attempting a degree of purity
impracticable in degenerate times and manners, instead of cutting off
the subsisting ill practices, new corruptions might be produced for the
concealment and security of the old. It were better, undoubtedly, that
no influence at all could affect the mind of a member of Parliament. But
of all modes of influence, in my opinion, a place under the government
is the least disgraceful to the man who holds it, and by far the most
safe to the country. I would not shut out that sort of influence which
is open and visible, which is connected with the dignity and the service
of the state, when it is not in my power to prevent the influence of
contracts, of subscriptions, of direct bribery, and those innumerable
methods of clandestine corruption, which are abundantly in the hands of
the court, and which will be applied as long as these means of
corruption, and the disposition to be corrupted, have existence among
us. Our constitution stands on a nice equipoise, with steep precipices
and deep waters upon all sides of it. In removing it from a dangerous
leaning towards one side, there may be a risk of oversetting it on the
other. Every project of a material change in a government so complicated
as ours, combined at the same time with external circumstances, still
more complicated, is a matter full of difficulties: in which a
considerate man will not be too ready to decide; a prudent man too ready
to undertake; or an honest man too ready to promise. They do not respect
the public nor themselves, who engage for more than they are sure that
they ought to attempt, or that they are able to perform.


No man ever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an imposition
of threepence. But no commodity will bear threepence, or will bear a
penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions
of people are resolved not to pay. The feelings of the colonies were
formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the
feelings of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the payment of twenty
shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No!
but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was
demanded, would have made him a slave.


To be a good member of parliament is, let me tell you, no easy task;
especially at this time, when there is so strong a disposition to run
into the perilous extremes of servile compliance or wild popularity. To
unite circumspection with vigour is absolutely necessary; but it is
extremely difficult. We are now members for a rich commercial CITY; this
city, however, is but a part of a rich commercial NATION, the interests
of which are various, multiform, and intricate. We are members for that
great nation, which however is itself but part of a great EMPIRE,
extended by our virtue and our fortune to the farthest limits of the
east and of the west. All these wide-spread interests must be
considered; must be compared; must be reconciled, if possible. We are
members for a FREE country; and surely we all know, that the machine of
a free constitution is no simple thing; but as intricate and as delicate
as it is valuable. We are members in a great and ancient MONARCHY; and
we must preserve religiously the true legal rights of the sovereign,
which form the key-stone that binds together the noble and
well-constructed arch of our empire and our constitution.


As to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their
fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely
thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your
envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been
exercised ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and
admiration. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it! Pass by the
other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England
have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among
the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the
deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis's Straits, whilst we
are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have
pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the
antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falkland
Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of
national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of
their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging
to them, than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that
whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of
Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along
the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No
climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of
Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity
of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hard
industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent
people; a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not
yet hardened into the bone of manhood.


When I first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I
should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to
discover what it was that gave this country the rank it holds in the
world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not
solely, from two sources;--our constitution and commerce. Both these I
have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.

The distinguishing part of our constitution is its liberty. To preserve
that liberty inviolate, seems the particular duty and proper trust of a
member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty I
mean, is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with
order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres
in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.

The other source of our power is commerce, of which you are so large a
part, and which cannot exist, no more than your liberty, without a
connection with many virtues. It has ever been a very particular and a
very favourite object of my study, in its principles, and in its
details. I think many here are acquainted with the truth of what I say.
This I know, that I have ever had my house open, and my poor services
ready, for traders and manufacturers of every denomination. My favourite
ambition is to have those services acknowledged. I now appear before you
to make trial, whether my earnest endeavours have been so wholly
oppressed by the weakness of my abilities as to be rendered
insignificant in the eyes of a great trading city; or whether you choose
to give a weight to humble abilities, for the sake of the honest
exertions with which they are accompanied. This is my trial to?day. My
industry is not on trial. Of my industry I am sure, as far as my
constitution of mind and body admitted.


Let us, however, before with descend from this noble eminence, reflect
that this growth of our national prosperity has happened within the
short period of the life of man. It has happened within sixty-eight
years. There are those alive whose memory might touch the two
extremities. For instance, my Lord Bathurst might remember all the
stages of the progress. He was, in 1704, of an age at least to be made
to comprehend such things. He was then old enough "acta parentum jam
legere, et quae sit poterit cognoscere virtus." Suppose, Sir, that the
angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues which made
him one of the most amiable, as he is one of the most fortunate, men of
his age, had opened to him in vision, that when, in the fourth
generation, the third prince of the house of Brunswick had sat twelve
years on the throne of that nation, which (by the happy issue of
moderate and healing councils) was to be made Great Britain, he should
see his son, lord chancellor of England, turn back the current of
hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise him to a higher rank of
peerage, whilst he enriched the family with a new one. If amidst these
bright and happy scenes of domestic honour and prosperity, that angel
should have drawn up the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his
country, and whilst he was gazing with admiration on the then commercial
grandeur of England, the genius should point out to him a little speck,
scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal
principle, rather than a formed body, and should tell him--"Young man,
there is America--which at this day serves for little more than to amuse
you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before
you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of that commerce
which now attracts the envy of the world. Whatever England has been
growing to by a progressive increase of improvement, brought in by
varieties of people, by succession of civilizing conquests and
civilizing settlements in a series of seventeen hundred years, you shall
see as much added to her by America in the course of a single life!" If
this state of his country had been foretold to him, would it not require
all the sanguine credulity of youth, and all the fervid glow of
enthusiasm, to make him believe it? Fortunate man, he has lived to see
it! Fortunate, indeed, if he lives to see nothing that shall vary the
prospect, and cloud the setting of his day!


Refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion; and ever will be
so, as long as the world endures. Plain good intention, which is as
easily discovered at the first view, as fraud is surely detected at
last, is, let me say, of no mean force in the government of mankind.
Genuine simplicity of heart is a healing and cementing principle. My
plan, therefore, being formed upon the most simple grounds imaginable,
may disappoint some people, when they hear it. It has nothing to
recommend it to the pruriency of curious ears. There is nothing at all
new and captivating in it. It has nothing of the splendour of the
project which has been lately laid upon your table by the noble lord in
the blue riband. It does not propose to fill your lobby with squabbling
colony agents, who will require the interposition of your mace, at every
instant, to keep the peace amongst them. It does not institute a
magnificent auction of finance, where captivated provinces come to
general ransom by bidding against each other, until you knock down the
hammer, and determine a proportion of payments beyond all the powers of
algebra to equalize and settle.


Peace implies reconciliation; and where there has been a material
dispute, reconciliation does in a manner always imply concession on the
one part or the other. In this state of things I make no difficulty in
affirming that the proposal ought to originate from us. Great and
acknowledged force is not impaired, either in effect or in opinion, by
an unwillingness to exert itself. The superior power may offer peace
with honour and with safety. Such an offer from such a power will be
attributed to magnanimity. But the concessions of the weak are the
concessions of fear. When such a one is disarmed, he is wholly at the
mercy of his superior; and he loses for ever that time and those chances
which, as they happen to all men, are the strength and resources of all
inferior power.


As for the trifling petulance which the rage of party stirs up in little
minds, though it should show itself even in this court, it has not made
the slightest impression on me. The highest flight of such clamorous
birds is winged in an inferior region of the air. We hear them, and we
look upon them, just as you, gentlemen, when you enjoy the serene air on
your lofty rocks, look down upon the gulls that skim the mud of your
river, when it is exhausted of its tide.


It ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in
the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved
communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great
weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted
attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his
satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to
prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature
judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you,
to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from
your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a
trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable.
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment;
and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your


Though I gave so far into his opinion, that I immediately threw my
thoughts into a sort of parliamentary form, I was by no means equally
ready to produce them. It generally argues some degree of natural
impotence of mind, or some want of knowledge of the world, to hazard
plans of government except from a seat of authority. Propositions are
made, not only ineffectually, but somewhat disreputably, when the minds
of men are not properly disposed for their reception: and for my part, I
am not ambitious of ridicule; not absolutely a candidate for disgrace.


They are "our children;" but when children ask for bread, we are not to
give a stone. Is it because the natural resistance of things, and the
various mutations of time, hinders our government, or any scheme of
government, from being any more than a sort of approximation to the
right, is it therefore that the colonies are to recede from it
infinitely? When this child of ours wishes to assimilate to its parent,
and to reflect with a true filial resemblance the beauteous countenance
of British liberty, are we to turn to them the shameful parts of our
constitution? are we to give them our weakness for their strength? our
opprobrium for their glory? and the slough of slavery, which we are not
able to work off, to serve them for their freedom?


If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without
question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are
matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of
reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in
which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who
form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those
who hear the arguments?


Parliament is not a CONGRESS of ambassadors from different and hostile
interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate,
against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a DELIBERATIVE
assembly of ONE nation, with ONE interest, that of the whole; where, not
local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general
good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a
member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of
Bristol, but he is a member of PARLIAMENT.


This moral levelling is a SERVILE PRINCIPLE. It leads to practical
passive obedience far better than all the doctrines which the pliant
accommodation of theology to power has ever produced. It cuts up by the
roots, not only all idea of forcible resistance, but even of civil
opposition. It disposes men to an abject submission, not by opinion,
which may be shaken by argument or altered by passion, but by the strong
ties of public and private interest. For if all men who act in a public
situation are equally selfish, corrupt, and venal, what reason can be
given for desiring any sort of change, which, besides the evils which
must attend all changes, can be productive of no possible advantage? The
active men in the state are true samples of the mass. If they are
universally depraved, the commonwealth itself is not sound. We may amuse
ourselves with talking as much as we please of the virtue of middle or
humble life; that is, we may place our confidence in the virtue of those
who have never been tried. But if the persons who are continually
emerging out of that sphere be no better than those whom birth has
placed above it, what hopes are there in the remainder of the body,
which is to furnish the perpetual succession of the state? All who have
ever written on government are unanimous, that among a people generally
corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. And indeed how is it possible? when
those who are to make the laws, to guard, to enforce, or to obey them,
are, by a tacit confederacy of manners, indisposed to the spirit of all
generous and noble institutions.


I am not possessed of an exact common measure between real service and
its reward. I am very sure that states do sometimes receive services
which it is hardly in their power to reward according to their worth. If
I were to give my judgment with regard to this country, I do not think
the great efficient offices of the state to be overpaid. The service of
the public is a thing which cannot be put to auction, and struck down to
those who will agree to execute it the cheapest. When the proportion
between reward and service is our object, we must always consider of
what nature the service is, and what sort of men they are that must
perform it. What is just payment for one kind of labour, and full
encouragement for one kind of talents, is fraud and discouragement to
others. Many of the great offices have much duty to do, and much expense
of representation to maintain. A secretary of state, for instance, must
not appear sordid in the eyes of the ministers of other nations; neither
ought our ministers abroad to appear contemptible in the courts where
they reside. In all offices of duty, there is, almost necessarily, a
great neglect of all domestic affairs. A person in high office can
rarely take a view of his family house. If he sees that the state takes
no detriment, the state must see that his affairs should take as little.
I will even go so far as to affirm, that if men were willing to serve in
such situations without salary, they ought not to be permitted to do it.
Ordinary service must be secured by the motives to ordinary integrity. I
do not hesitate to say, that that state which lays its foundations in
rare and heroic virtues, will be sure to have its superstructure in the
basest profligacy and corruption. An honourable and fair profit is the
best security against avarice and rapacity; as in all things else, a
lawful and regulated enjoyment is the best security against debauchery
and excess. For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw
wealth to itself by some means or other: and when men are left no way of
ascertaining their profits but by their means of obtaining them, those
means will be increased to infinity. This is true in all the parts of
administration, as well as in the whole. If any individual were to
decline his appointments, it might give an unfair advantage to
ostentatious ambition over unpretending service; it might breed
invidious comparisons; it might tend to destroy whatever little unity
and agreement may be found among ministers. And, after all, when an
ambitious man had run down his competitors by a fallacious show of
disinterestedness, and fixed himself in power by that means, what
security is there that he would not change his course, and claim as an
indemnity ten times more than he has given up?


Liberty, too, must be limited in order to be possessed. The degree of
restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely. But it ought
to be the constant aim of every wise public council to find out by
cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little,
not how much, of this restraint the community can subsist. For liberty
is a good to be improved, and not an evil to be lessened. It is not only
a private blessing of the first order, but the vital spring and energy
of the state itself, which has just so much life and vigour as there is
liberty in it. But whether liberty be advantageous or not (for I know it
is a fashion to decry the very principle), none will dispute that peace
is a blessing; and peace must in the course of human affairs be
frequently bought by some indulgence and toleration at least to liberty.
For as the sabbath (though of Divine institution) was made for man, not
man for the sabbath, government, which can claim no higher origin or
authority, in its exercise at least, ought to conform to the exigencies
of the time, and the temper and character of the people with whom it is
concerned; and not always to attempt violently to bend the people to
their theories of subjection. The bulk of mankind on their part are not
excessively curious concerning any theories whilst they are really
happy; and one sure symptom of an ill-conducted state is the propensity
of the people to resort to them.


The feudal baronage and the feudal knighthood, the roots of our
primitive constitution, were early transplanted into that soil, and grew
and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the
House of Commons, gave us at least a house of commons of weight and
consequence. But your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to the
feast of Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This
benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first
extended to ALL Ireland. Mark the consequence. English authority and
English liberty had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could
never be advanced an inch beyond your privileges. Sir John Davis shows,
beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of these
rights was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in
subduing; and after the vain projects of a military government,
attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered that
nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but
your laws and your forms of legislature. It was not English arms, but
the English constitution, that conquered Ireland. From that time Ireland
has ever had a general parliament, as she had before a partial
parliament. You changed the people; you altered the religion; but you
never touched the form or the vital substance of free government in that
kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them; you altered the
succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown; but you never
altered their constitution; the principle of which was respected by
usurpation; restored with the restoration of monarchy, and established,
I trust, for ever, by the glorious Revolution.


For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire,
my trust is in her interest in the British constitution. My hold of the
colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from
kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are
ties, which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let
the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with
your government;--they will cling and grapple to you; and no force under
heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it
be once understood that your government may be one thing, and their
privileges another; that these two things may exist without any mutual
relation; the cement is gone; the cohesion is loosened; and everything
hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep
the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the
sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race
and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards
you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more
ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience.
Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil.
They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But, until
you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural
dignity, freedom they can have from none but you. This is the commodity
of price, of which you have the monopoly. This is the true act of
navigation, which binds to you the commerce of the colonies, and through
them secures to you the wealth of the world. Deny them this
participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond, which originally
made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Do not entertain
so weak an imagination, as that your registers and your bonds, your
affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are
what form the great securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your
letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses,
are the things that hold together the great contexture of this
mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead
instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English
communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the
spirit of the English constitution, which, infused through the mighty
mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the
empire, even down to the minutest member.


At the first fatal opening of this contest, the wisest course seemed to
be to put an end as soon as possible to the immediate causes of the
dispute; and to quiet a discussion, not easily settled upon clear
principles, and arising from claims, which pride would permit neither
party to abandon, by resorting as nearly as possible to the old,
successful course. A mere repeal of the obnoxious tax, with a
declaration of the legislative authority of this kingdom, was then fully
sufficient to procure peace to BOTH SIDES. Man is a creature of habit,
and, the first breach being of very short continuance, the colonies fell
back exactly into their ancient state. The congress has used an
expression with regard to this pacification, which appears to me truly
significant. After the repeal of the Stamp Act, "the colonies fell,"
says this assembly, "into their ancient state of UNSUSPECTING CONFIDENCE
IN THE MOTHER COUNTRY." This unsuspecting confidence is the true centre
of gravity amongst mankind, about which all the parts are at rest. It is
this UNSUSPECTING CONFIDENCE that removes all difficulties, and
reconciles all the contradictions which occur in the complexity of all
ancient, puzzled, political establishments. Happy are the rulers which
have the secret of preserving it!


When men receive obligations from the Crown, through the pious hands of
fathers, or of connections as venerable as the paternal, the
dependencies which arise from thence are the obligations of gratitude,
and not the fetters of servility. Such ties originate in virtue, and
they promote it. They continue men in those habitudes of friendship,
those political connexions, and those political principles, in which
they began life. They are antidotes against a corrupt levity, instead of
causes of it. What an unseemly spectacle would it afford, what a
disgrace would it be to the commonwealth that suffered such things, to
see the hopeful son of a meritorious minister begging his bread at the
door of that treasury, from whence his father dispensed the economy of
an empire, and promoted the happiness and glory of his country! Why
should he be obliged to prostrate his honour, and to submit his
principles at the levee of some proud favourite, shouldered and thrust
aside by every impudent pretender, on the very spot where a few days
before he saw himself adored?--obliged to cringe to the author of the
calamities of his house, and to kiss the hands that are red with his
father's blood.


But nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well
think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. Therefore as
the colonies prospered and increased to a numerous and mighty people,
spreading over a very great tract of the globe; it was natural that they
should attribute to assemblies, so respectable in their formal
constitution, some part of the dignity of the great nations which they
represented. No longer tied to by-laws, these assemblies made acts of
all sorts and in all cases whatsoever. They levied money, not for
parochial purposes, but upon regular grants to the Crown, following all
the rules and principles of a parliament to which they approached every
day more and more nearly. Those who think themselves wiser than
Providence, and stronger than the course of nature, may complain of all
this variation, on the one side or the other, as their several humours
and prejudices may lead them. But things could not be otherwise; and
English colonies must be had on these terms, or not had at all.


In the first place, it is formed, in many respects, upon FEUDAL
PRINCIPLES. In the feudal times, it was not uncommon, even among
subjects, for the lowest offices to be held by considerable persons;
persons as unfit by their incapacity, as improper from their rank, to
occupy such employments. They were held by patent, sometimes for life,
and sometimes by inheritance. If my memory does not deceive me, a person
of no slight consideration held the office of patent hereditary cook to
an earl of Warwick. The earl of Warwick's soups, I fear, were not the
better for the dignity of his kitchen. I think it was an earl of
Gloucester, who officiated as steward of the household to the
archbishops of Canterbury. Instances of the same kind may in some degree
be found in the Northumberland house-book, and other family records.
There was some reason in ancient necessities, for these ancient customs.
Protection was wanted; and the domestic tie, thought not the highest,
was the closest. The king's household has not only several strong traces
of this FEUDALITY, but it is formed also upon the principles of a BODY
CORPORATE; it has its own magistrates, courts, and by-laws. This might
be necessary in the ancient times, in order to have a government within
itself, capable of regulating the vast and often unruly multitude which
composed and attended it. This was the origin of the ancient court
called the GREEN CLOTH--composed of the marshal, treasurer, and other
great officers of the household, with certain clerks. The rich subjects
of the kingdom who had formerly the same establishments (only on a
reduced scale) have since altered their economy; and turned the course
of their expense from the maintenance of vast establishments within
their walls, to the employment of a great variety of independent trades
abroad. Their influence is lessened; but a mode of accommodation, and a
style of splendour, suited to the manners of the times, has been
increased. Royalty itself has insensibly followed; and the royal
household has been carried away by the resistless tide of manners: but
with this very material difference;--private men have got rid of the
establishments along with the reasons of them; whereas the royal
household has lost all that was stately and venerable in the antique
manners, without retrenching anything of the cumbrous charge of a Gothic
establishment. It is shrunk into the polished littleness of modern
elegance and personal accommodation; it has evaporated from the gross
concrete into an essence and rectified spirit of expense, where you have
tuns of ancient pomp in a vial of modern luxury.


I know, that all parsimony is of a quality approaching to unkindness;
and that (on some person or other) every reform must operate as a sort
of punishment. Indeed, the whole class of the severe and restrictive
virtues are at a market almost too high for humanity. What is worse,
there are very few of those virtues which are not capable of being
imitated, and even outdone, in many of their most striking effects, by
the worst of vices. Malignity and envy will carve much more deeply, and
finish much more sharply, in the work of retrenchment, than frugality
and providence. I do not, therefore, wonder that gentlemen have kept
away from such a task, as well from good-nature as from prudence.
Private feeling might, indeed, be overborne by legislative reason; and a
man of a longd-sighted and a strong-nerved humanity might bring himself,
not so much to consider from whom he takes a superfluous enjoyment, as
for whom in the end he may preserve the absolute necessaries of life.


I hope there are none of you corrupted with the doctrine taught by
wicked men for the worst purposes, and received by the malignant
credulity of envy and ignorance, which is, that the men who act upon the
public stage are all alike; all equally corrupt; all influenced by no
other views than the sordid lure of salary and pension. The thing I know
by experience to be false. Never expecting to find perfection in men,
and not looking for divine attributes in created beings, in my commerce
with my contemporaries, I have found much human virtue. I have seen not
a little public spirit; a real subordination of interest to duty; and a
decent and regulated sensibility to honest fame and reputation. The age
unquestionably produces (whether in a greater or less number than former
times, I know not) daring profligates, and insidious hypocrites. What
then? Am I not to avail myself of whatever good is to be found in the
world, because of the mixture of evil that will always be in it? The
smallness of the quantity in currency only heightens the value. They who
raise suspicions on the good on account of the behaviour of ill men, are
of the party of the latter. The common cant is no justification for
taking this party. I have been deceived, say they, by Titius and
Maevius; I have been the dupe of this pretender or of that mountebank;
and I can trust appearances no longer. But my credulity and want of
discernment cannot, as I conceive, amount to a fair presumption against
any man's integrity. A conscientious person would rather doubt his own
judgment, than condemn his species. He would say, I have observed
without attention, or judged upon erroneous maxims; I trusted to
profession, when I ought to have attended to conduct. Such a man will
grow wise, not malignant, by his acquaintance with the world. But he
that accuses all mankind of corruption, ought to remember that he is
sure to convict only one. In truth I should much rather admit those,
whom at any time I have disrelished the most, to be patterns of
perfection, than seek a consolation to my own unworthiness, in a general
communion of depravity with all about me.


What (says the financier) is peace to us without money? Your plan gives
us no revenue. No! But it does--for it secures to the subject the power
of REFUSAL; the first of all revenues. Experience is a cheat, and fact a
liar, if this power in the subject of proportioning his grant, or of not
granting at all, has not been found the richest mine of revenue ever
discovered by the skill or by the fortune of man. It does not indeed
vote you 152,752 pounds : 11 : 2 3/4ths, nor any other paltry limited
sum. But it gives the strong box itself, the fund, the bank, from whence
only revenues can arise amongst a people sensible of freedom: Posita
luditur arca. Cannot you in England; cannot you at this time of day;
cannot you, a House of Commons, trust to the principle which has raised
so mighty a revenue, and accumulated a debt of near 140 millions in this
country? Is this principle to be true in England, and false everywhere
else? Is it not true in Ireland? Has it not hitherto been true in the
colonies? Why should you presume, that, in any country, a body duly
constituted for any function, will neglect to perform its duty, and
abdicate its trust? Such a presumption would go against all governments
in all modes. But, in truth, this dread of penury of supply, from a free
assembly, has no foundation in nature. For first observe, that besides
the desire which all men have naturally of supporting the honour of
their own government, that sense of dignity, and that security to
property, which ever attend freedom, have a tendency to increase the
stock of the free community. Most may be taken where most is
accumulated. And what is the soil or climate where experience has not
uniformly proved, that the voluntary flow of heaped-up plenty, bursting
from the weight of its own rich luxuriance, has ever run with a more
copious stream of revenue, than could be squeezed from the dry husks of
oppressed indigence, by the straining of all the politic machinery in
the world.


The only method which has ever been found effectual to preserve any man
against the corruption of nature and example, is a habit of life and
communication of counsels with the most virtuous and public-spirited men
of the age you live in. Such a society cannot be kept without advantage
or deserted without shame. For this rule of conduct I may be called in
reproach a PARTY MAN; but I am little affected with such aspersions. In
the way which they call party, I worship the constitution of your
fathers; and I shall never blush for my political company. All reverence
to honour, all idea of what it is, will be lost out of the world, before
it can be imputed as a fault to any man, that he has been closely
connected with those incomparable persons, living and dead, with whom
for eleven years I have constantly thought and acted. If I have wandered
out of the paths of rectitude into those of interested faction, it was
in company with the Saviles, the Dowdeswells, the Wentworths, the
Bentincks; with the Lenoxes, the Manchesters, the Keppels, the
Saunderses; with the temperate, permanent, hereditary virtue of the
whole house of Cavendish; names, among which, some have extended your
fame and empire in arms, and all have fought the battle of your
liberties in fields not less glorious. These, and many more like these,
grafting public principles on private honour, have redeemed the present
age, and would have adorned the most splendid period in your history.


Is it not the same virtue which does everything for us here in England?
Do you imagine, then, that it is the land-tax which raises your revenue?
that it is the annual vote in the committee of supply, which gives you
your army? or that it is the Mutiny Bill, which inspires it with bravery
and discipline? No! surely no! It is the love of the people; it is their
attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they
have in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your
navy, and infuses into both that liberal obedience, without which your
army would be a base rabble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber.

All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical to the
profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians, who have no
place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what
is gross and material; and who therefore, far from being qualified to be
directors of the great movement of empire, are not fit to turn a wheel
in the machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these
ruling and master principles, which, in the opinion of such men as I
have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth everything,
and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom;
and a great empire and little minds go ill together. If we are conscious
of our situation, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our
station and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings
on America, with the old warning of the Church, Sursum corda! We ought
to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order
of Providence has called us. By adverting to the dignity of this high
calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious
empire; and have made the most extensive, and the only honourable
conquests, not by destroying, but by promoting the wealth, the number,
the happiness of the human race. Let us get an American revenue as we
have got an American empire. English privileges have made it all that it
is; English privileges alone will make it all it can be.


If anything were wanting to this necessary operation of the form of
government, religion would have given it a complete effect. Religion,
always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or
impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this
free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the
most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a
persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not
think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting
churches, from all that looks like absolute government, is so much to be
sought in their religious tenets, as in their history. Every one knows
that the Roman Catholic religion is at least coeval with most of the
governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand
with them, and received great favour and every kind of support from
authority. The Church of England, too, was formed from her cradle, under
the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests
have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary powers of the
world; and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim to
natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful and
unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the most
cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent
in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance;
it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant


I am resolved this day to have nothing at all to do with the question of
the right of taxation. Some gentlemen startle, but it is true; I put it
totally out of the question. It is less than nothing in my
consideration. I do not indeed wonder, nor will you, Sir, that gentlemen
of profound learning are fond of displaying it on this profound subject.
But my consideration is narrow, confined, and wholly limited to the
policy of the question. I do not examine whether the giving away a man's
money be a power excepted and reserved out of the general trust of
government; and how far all mankind, in all forms of polity, are
entitled to an exercise of that right by the charter of nature. Or
whether, on the contrary, a right of taxation is necessarily involved in
the general principle of legislation, and inseparable from the ordinary
supreme power. These are deep questions, where great names militate
against each other; where reason is perplexed; and an appeal to
authorities only thickens the confusion. For high and reverend
authorities lift up their heads on both sides; and there is no sure
footing in the middle. This point is the GREAT SERBONIAN BOG, BETWIXT
intend to be overwhelmed in that bog, though in such respectable
company. The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render
your people miserable; but whether it is not your interest to make them
happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I MAY do; but what humanity,
reason, and justice tell me I ought to do. Is a politic act the worse
for being a generous one? Is no concession proper, but that which is
made from your want of right to keep what you grant? Or does it lessen
the grace or dignity of relaxing in the exercise of an odious claim,
because you have your evidence-room full of titles, and your magazines
stuffed with arms to enforce them? What signify all those titles, and
all those arms? Of what avail are they, when the reason of the thing
tells me, that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit; and
that I could do nothing but wound myself by the use of my own weapons?


It is exceedingly common for men to contract their love to their country
into an attachment to its petty subdivisions; and they sometimes even
cling to their provincial abuses, as if they were franchises and local
privileges. Accordingly, in places where there is much of this kind of
estate, persons will be always found who would rather trust to their
talents in recommending themselves to power for the renewal of their
interests, than to incumber their purses, though never so lightly, in
order to transmit independence to their posterity. It is a great
mistake, that the desire of securing property is universal among
mankind. Gaming is a principle inherent in human nature. It belongs to
us all. I would therefore break those tables; I would furnish no evil
occupation for that spirit. I would make every man look everywhere,
except to the intrigue of a court, for the improvement of his
circumstances, or the security of his fortune.


I am sure that the only means of checking precipitate degeneracy is
heartily to concur with whatever is the best in our time; and to have
some more correct standard of judging what that best is, than the
transient and uncertain favour of a court. If once we are able to find,
and can prevail on ourselves to strengthen, a union of such men,
whatever accidentally becomes indisposed to ill-exercised power, even by
the ordinary operation of human passions, must join with that society,
and cannot long be joined without in some degree assimilating to it.
Virtue will catch as well as vice by contact; and the public stock of
honest, manly principle will daily accumulate. We are not too nicely to
scrutinize motives as long as action is irreproachable. It is enough
(and for a worthy man perhaps too much) to deal out its infamy to
convicted guilt and declared apostacy.


But there is a time when men will not suffer bad things because their
ancestors have suffered worse. There is a time when the hoary head of
inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain protection. If
the noble lord in the blue riband pleads "not guilty" to the charges
brought against the present system of public economy, it is not possible
to give a fair verdict by which he will not stand acquitted. But
pleading is not our present business. His plea or his traverse may be
allowed as an answer to a charge, when a charge is made. But if he puts
himself in the way to obstruct reformation, then the faults of his
office instantly become his own. Instead of a public officer in an
abusive department, whose province is an object to be regulated, he
becomes a criminal who is to be punished. I do most seriously put it to
administration, to consider the wisdom of a timely reform. Early
reformations are amicable arrangements with a friend in power; late
reformations are terms imposed upon a conquered enemy: early
reformations are made in cool blood; late reformations are made under a
state of inflammation. In that state of things people behold in
government nothing that is respectable. They see the abuse, and they
will see nothing else: they fall into the temper of a furious populace
provoked at the disorder of a house of ill-fame; they never attempt to
correct or regulate; they go to work by the shortest way--they abate the
nuisance, they pull down the house.


Nothing, you know, is more common than for men to wish, and call loudly,
too, for a reformation, who, when it arrives, do by no means like the
severity of its aspect. Reformation is one of those pieces which must be
put at some distance in order to please. Its greatest favourers love it
better in the abstract than in the substance. When any old prejudice of
their own, or any interest that they value, is touched, they become
scrupulous, they become captious, and every man has his separate
exception. Some pluck out the black hairs, some the gray; one point must
be given up to one; another point must be yielded to another; nothing is
suffered to prevail upon its own principle; the whole is so frittered
down, and disjointed, that scarcely a trace of the original scheme
remains! Thus, between the resistance of power, and the unsystematical
process of popularity, the undertaker and the undertaking are both
exposed, and the poor reformer is hissed off the stage both by friends
and foes.


If honesty be true policy with regard to the transient interest of
individuals, it is much more certainly so with regard to the permanent
interests of communities. I know, that it is but too natural for us to
see our own CERTAIN ruin in the POSSIBLE prosperity of other people. It
is hard to persuade us, that everything which is GOT by another is not
TAKEN from ourselves. But it is fit that we should get the better of
these suggestions, which come from what is not the best and soundest
part of our nature, and that we should form to ourselves a way of
thinking, more rational, more just, and more religious. Trade is not a
limited thing; as if the objects of mutual demand and consumption could
not stretch beyond the bounds of our jealousies. God has given the earth
to the children of men, and he has undoubtedly, in giving it to them,
given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies; not a
scanty, but a most liberal, provision for them all. The author of our
nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the
same law in his written word, that man shall eat his bread by his
labour; and I am persuaded, that no man, and no combination of men, for
their own ideas of their particular profit, can, without great impiety,
undertake to say, that he SHALL NOT do so; that they have no sort of
right, either to prevent the labour, or to withhold the bread.


There are people who have split and anatomised the doctrine of free
government, as if it were an abstract question concerning metaphysical
liberty and necessity; and not a matter of moral prudence and natural
feeling. They have disputed, whether liberty be a positive or a negative
idea; whether it does not consist in being governed by laws, without
considering what are the laws, or who are the makers; whether man has
any rights by nature; and whether all the property he enjoys be not the
alms of his government, and his life itself their favour and indulgence.
Others corrupting religion, as these have perverted philosophy, contend,
that Christians are redeemed into captivity; and the blood of the
Saviour of mankind has been shed to make them the slaves of a few proud
and insolent sinners. These shocking extremes provoking to extremes of
another kind, speculations are let loose as destructive to all
authority, as the former are to all freedom; and every government is
called tyranny and usurpation which is not formed on their fancies. In
this manner the stirrers-up of this contention, not satisfied with
distracting our dependencies and filling them with blood and slaughter,
are corrupting our understandings; they are endeavouring to tear up,
along with practical liberty, all the foundations of human society, all
equity and justice, religion and order.


Economy and public spirit have made a beneficent and an honest spoil;
they have plundered from extravagance and luxury, for the use of
substantial service, a revenue of near four hundred thousand pounds. The
reform of the finances, joined to this reform of the court, gives to the
public nine hundred thousand pounds a year and upwards.

The minister who does these things is a great man--but the king who
desires that they should be done is a far greater. We must do justice to
our enemies--these are the acts of a patriot king. I am not in dread of
the vast armies of France; I am not in dread of the gallant spirit of
its brave and numerous nobility; I am not alarmed even at the great navy
which has been so miraculously created. All these things Louis the
Fourteenth had before. With all these things, the French monarchy has
more than once fallen prostrate at the feet of the public faith of Great
Britain. It was the want of public credit which disabled France from
recovering after her defeats, or recovering even from her victories and
triumphs. It was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered revenue, that
sapped the foundations of all her greatness. Credit cannot exist under
the arm of necessity. Necessity strikes at credit, I allow, with a
heavier and quicker blow under an arbitrary monarchy, than under a
limited and balanced government; but still necessity and credit are
natural enemies, and cannot be long reconciled in any situation. From
necessity and corruption, a free state may lose the spirit of that
complex constitution which is the foundation of confidence.


Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further
improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the
effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence,
because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas in hot reformations,
in what men, more zealous than considerate, call MAKING CLEAR WORK, the
whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested; mixed with so much
imprudence, and so much injustice; so contrary to the whole course of
human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most
eager for it are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have
done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recalled from its
exile in order to become a corrective of the correction. Then the abuse
assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The very idea of
purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into disrepute, and is
considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders
become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the
unapt and violent nature of the remedies. A great part, therefore, of my
idea of reform is meant to operate gradually; some benefits will come at
a nearer, some at a more remote period. We must no more make haste to be
rich by parsimony, than by intemperate acquisition.


Civil freedom, gentlemen, is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade
you, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a
blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just
reasoning that can be upon it is of so coarse a texture, as perfectly to
suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy, and of those who
are to defend it. Far from any resemblance to those propositions in
geometry and metaphysics, which admit no medium, but must be true or
false in all their latitude; social and civil freedom, like all other
things in common life, are variously mixed and modified, enjoyed in very
different degrees, and shaped into an infinite diversity of forms,
according to the temper and circumstances of every community. The
EXTREME of liberty (which is its abstract perfection, but its real
fault) obtains nowhere, nor ought to obtain anywhere. Because extremes,
as we all know, in every point which relates either to our duties or
satisfactions in life, are destructive both to virtue and enjoyment.


When any community is subordinately connected with another, the great
danger of the connection is the extreme pride and self-complacency of
the superior, which in all matters of controversy will probably decide
in its own favour. It is a powerful corrective to such a very rational
cause of fear if the inferior body can be made to believe that the party
inclination, or political views, of several in the principal state will
induce them in some degree to counteract this blind and tyrannical
partiality. There is no danger that any one acquiring consideration or
power in the presiding state should carry this leaning to the inferior
too far. The fault of human nature is not of that sort. Power, in
whatever hands, is rarely guilty of too strict limitations on itself.
But one great advantage to the support of authority attends such an
amicable and protecting connection, that those who have conferred
favours obtain influence; and from the foresight of future events can
persuade men who have received obligations, sometimes to return them.
Thus, by the mediation of those healing principles (call them good or
evil), troublesome discussions are brought to some sort of adjustment,
and every hot controversy is not a civil war.


The individual good felt in a public benefit is comparatively so small,
comes round through such an involved labyrinth of intricate and tedious
revolutions; whilst a present, personal detriment is so heavy where it
falls, and so instant in its operation, that the cold commendation of a
public advantage never was, and never will be a match for the quick
sensibility of a private loss: and you may depend upon it, sir, that
when many people have an interest in railing, sooner or later, they will
bring a considerable degree of unpopularity upon any measure, So that,
for the present at least, the reformation will operate against the
reformers, and revenge (as against them at the least) will produce all
the effects of corruption.


Nor is it the worst effect of this unnatural contention, that our LAWS
are corrupted. Whilst MANNERS remain entire, they will correct the vices
of law, and soften it at length to their own temper. But we have to
lament, that in most of the late proceedings we see very few traces of
that generosity, humanity, and dignity of mind which formerly
characterized this nation. War suspends the rules of moral obligation,
and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated.
Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people. They
vitiate their politics; they corrupt their morals; they pervert even the
natural taste and relish of equity and justice. By teaching us to
consider our fellow-citizens in a hostile light, the whole body of our
nation becomes gradually less dear to us. The very names of affection
and kindred, which were the bond of charity whilst we agreed, become new
incentives to hatred and rage when the communion of our country is
dissolved. We may flatter ourselves that we shall not fall into this
misfortune. But we have no charter of exemption, that I know of, from
the ordinary frailties of our nature.


A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood. He would
feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for
engaging in so deep a play, without any sort of knowledge of the game.
It is no excuse for presumptuous ignorance, that it is directed by
insolent passion. The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to
save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in
the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under
heaven (which, in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of
things) that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent
helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a
consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to
it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is
not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never
exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to
render others contemptible and wretched.


Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. In such a country as this they
are of all bad things the worst, worse by far than anywhere else; and
they derive a particular malignity even from the wisdom and soundness of
the rest of our institutions. For very obvious reasons you cannot trust
the crown with a dispensing power over any of your laws. However, a
government, be it as bad as it may, will, in the exercise of a
discretionary power, discriminate times and persons; and will not
ordinarily pursue any man when its own safety is not concerned. A
mercenary informer knows no distinction. Under such a system, the
obnoxious people are slaves, not only to the government, but they live
at the mercy of every individual; they are at once the slaves of the
whole community, and of every part of it; and the worst and most
unmerciful men are those on whose goodness they most depend.

In this situation men not only shrink from the frowns of a stern
magistrate, but they are obliged to fly from their very species. The
seeds of destruction are sown in civil intercourse, in social habitudes.
The blood of wholesome kindred is infected. Their tables and beds are
surrounded with snares. All the means given by Providence to make life
safe and comfortable are perverted into instruments of terror and
torment. This species of universal subserviency, that makes the very
servant who waits behind your chair the arbiter of your life and
fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and abase mankind, and to
deprive them of that assured and liberal state of mind which alone can
make us what we ought to be, that I vow to God I would sooner bring
myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so
to get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to fret him with a
feverish being, tainted with the jail-distemper of a contagious
servitude, to keep him above ground an animated mass of putrefaction,
corrupted himself, and corrupting all about him.


If we repent of our good actions, what, I pray you, is left for our
faults and follies? It is not the beneficence of the laws, it is the
unnatural temper which beneficence can fret and sour that is to be
lamented. It is this temper which, by all rational means, ought to be
sweetened and corrected. If froward men should refuse this cure, can
they vitiate anything but themselves? Does evil so react upon good, as
not only to retard its motion, but to change its nature? If it can so
operate, then good men will always be in the power of the bad; and
virtue, by a dreadful reverse of order, must lie under perpetual
subjection and bondage to vice.


With very few, and those inconsiderable, intervals, the British
dominion, either in the Company's name, or in the names of princes
absolutely dependent upon the Company, extends from the mountains that
separate India from Tartary to Cape Comorin,--that is, one-and-twenty
degrees of latitude!

In the northern parts it is a solid mass of land, about eight hundred
miles in length, and four or five hundred broad. As you go southward, it
becomes narrower for a space. It afterwards dilates; but, narrower or
broader, you possess the whole eastern and north-eastern coast of that
vast country, quite from the borders of Pegu. Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa,
with Benares (now unfortunately in our immediate possession), measure
161,978 square English miles; a territory considerably larger than the
whole kingdom of France. Oude, with its dependent provinces, is 53,286
square miles, not a great deal less than England. The Carnatic, with
Tanjore and the Circars, is 65,948 square miles, very considerably
larger than England; and the whole of the Company's dominions,
comprehending Bombay and Salsette, amounts to 281,412 square miles;
which forms a territory larger than any European dominion, Russia and
Turkey excepted. Through all that vast extent of country there is not a
man who eats a mouthful of rice but by permission of the East-India

So far with regard to the extent. The population of this great empire is
not easily to be calculated. When the countries, of which it is
composed, came into our possession, they were all eminently peopled, and
eminently productive; though at that time considerably declined from
their ancient prosperity. But, since they are come into our hands!--!
However, if we make the period of our estimate immediately before the
utter desolation of the Carnatic, and if we allow for the havoc which
our government had even then made in these regions, we cannot, in my
opinion, rate the population at much less than thirty millions of
souls,--more than four times the number of persons in the Island of
Great Britain.

My next inquiry to that of the number, is the quality and description of
the inhabitants. This multitude of men does not consist of an abject and
barbarous populace; much less of gangs of savages, like the Guaranies
and Chiquitos, who wander on the waste borders of the river of Amazons,
or the Plate; but a people for ages civilized and cultivated; cultivated
by all the arts of polished life, whilst we were yet in the woods. There
have been (and still the skeletons remain) princes once of great
dignity, authority, and opulence. There are to be found the chiefs of
tribes and nations. There is to be found an ancient and venerable
priesthood, the depository of their laws, learning, and history, the
guides of the people whilst living, and their consolation in death; a
nobility of great antiquity and renown; a multitude of cities, not
exceeded in population and trade by those of the first class in Europe;
merchants and bankers, individual houses of whom have once vied in
capital with the Bank of England; whose credit had often supported a
tottering state, and preserved their governments in the midst of war and
desolation; millions of ingenious manufacturers and mechanics; millions
of the most diligent, and not the least intelligent, tillers of the
earth. There are to be found almost all the religions professed by
men,--the Brahminical, the Mussulman, the Eastern and the Western

If I were to take the whole aggregate of our possessions there, I should
compare it, as the nearest parallel I can find, with the empire of
Germany. Our immediate possessions I should compare with the Austrian
dominions,--and they would not suffer in the comparison. The nabob of
Oude might stand for the king of Prussia; the nabob of Arcot I would
compare, as superior in territory and equal in revenue, to the elector
of Saxony. Cheyt Sing, the rajah of Benares, might well rank with the
prince of Hesse, at least; and the rajah of Tanjore (though hardly equal
in extent of dominion, superior in revenue), to the elector of Bavaria.
The Polygars and the northern Zemindars, and other great chiefs, might
well class with the rest of the princes, dukes, counts, marquises, and
bishops, in the empire; all of whom I mention to honour, and surely
without disparagement to any or all of those most respectable princes
and grandees. All this vast mass, composed of so many orders and classes
of men, is again infinitely advocated by manners, by religion, by
hereditary employment, through all their possible combinations. This
renders the handling of India a matter in a high degree critical and
delicate. But oh! it has been handled rudely indeed. Even some of the
reformers seem to have forgot that they had anything to do but to
regulate the tenants of a manor, or the shopkeepers of the next county

It is an empire of this extent, of this complicated nature, of this
dignity and importance, that I have compared to Germany, and the German
government; not for an exact resemblance, but as a sort of a middle
term, by which India might be approximated to our understandings, and if
possible to our feelings; in order to awaken something of sympathy for
the unfortunate natives, of which I am afraid we are not perfectly
susceptible, whilst we look at this very remote object through a false
and cloudy medium.


Honest men will not forget either their merit or their sufferings. There
are men (and many, I trust, there are) who, out of love to their country
and their kind, would torture their invention to find excuses for the
mistakes of their brethren; and who, to stifle dissension, would
construe even doubtful appearances with the utmost favour: such men will
never persuade themselves to be ingenious and refined in discovering
disaffection and treason in the manifest, palpable signs of suffering
loyalty. Persecution is so unnatural to them, that they gladly snatch
the very first opportunity of laying aside all the tricks and devices of
penal politics; and of returning home, after all their irksome and
vexatious wanderings, to our natural family mansion, to the grand social
principle, that unites all men, in all descriptions, under the shadow of
an equal and impartial justice.


The very attempt towards pleasing everybody discovers a temper always
flashy, and often false and insincere. Therefore as I have proceeded
straight onward in my conduct, so I will proceed in my account of those
parts of it which have been most excepted to. But I must first beg leave
just to hint to you, that we may suffer very great detriment by being
open to every talker. It is not to be imagined how much of service is
lost from spirits full of activity and full of energy, who are pressing,
who are rushing forward, to great and capital objects, when you oblige
them to be continually looking back. Whilst they are defending one
service, they defraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when we run; console
us when we fall; cheer us when we recover; but let us pass on--for God's
sake let us pass on.


And now, having done my duty to the bill, let me say a word to the
author. I should leave him to his own noble sentiments, if the unworthy
and illiberal language with which he has been treated, beyond all
example of parliamentary liberty, did not make a few words necessary;
not so much in justice to him, as to my own feelings. I must say, then,
that it will be a distinction honourable to the age, that the rescue of
the greatest number of the human race that ever were so grievously
oppressed, from the greatest tyranny that was ever exercised, has fallen
to the lot of abilities and dispositions equal to the task; that it has
fallen to one who has the enlargement to comprehend, the spirit to
undertake, and the eloquence to support, so great a measure of hazardous
benevolence. His spirit is not owing to his ignorance of the state of
men and things; he well knows what snares are spread about his path,
from personal animosity, from court intrigues, and possibly from popular
delusion. But he has put to hazard his ease, his security, his interest,
his power, even his darling popularity, for the benefit of a people whom
he has never seen. This is the road that all heroes have trod before
him. He is traduced and abused for his supposed motives. He will
remember, that obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of
all true glory: he will remember, that it was not only in the Roman
customs, but it is in the nature and constitution of things, that
calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph. These thoughts will
support a mind, which only exists for honour, under the burthen of
temporary reproach. He is doing indeed a great good; such as rarely
falls to the lot, and almost as rarely coincides with the desires, of
any man. Let him use his time. Let him give the whole length of the
reins to his benevolence. He is now on a great eminence, where the eyes
of mankind are turned to him. He may live long, he may do much. But here
is the summit. He never can exceed what he does this day.

He has faults; but they are faults that, though they may in a small
degree tarnish the lustre, and sometimes impede the march, of his
abilities, have nothing in them to extinguish the fire of great virtues.
In those faults there is no mixture of deceit, of hypocrisy, of pride,
of ferocity, of complexional despotism, or want of feeling for the
distresses of mankind. His are faults which might exist in a descendant
of Henry the Fourth of France, as they did exist in that father of his
country. Henry the Fourth wished that he might live to see a fowl in the
pot of every peasant in his kingdom. That sentiment of homely
benevolence was worth all the splendid sayings that are recorded of
kings. But he wished perhaps for more than could be obtained, and the
goodness of the man exceeded the power of the king. But this gentleman,
a subject, may this day say this at least, with truth, that he secures
the rice in his pot to every man in India. A poet of antiquity thought
it one of the first distinctions to a prince whom he meant to celebrate,
that through a long succession of generations, he had been the
progenitor of an able and virtuous citizen, who by force of the arts of
peace, had corrected governments of oppression, and suppressed wars of

Indole proh quanta juvenis, quantumque daturus
Ausoniae populis ventura in saecula civem.
Ille super Gangem, super exauditus et Indos,
Implebit terras voce; et furialia bella
Fulmine compescet linguae.--

This was what was said of the predecessor of the only person to whose
eloquence it does not wrong that of the mover of this bill to be
compared. But the Ganges and the Indus are the patrimony of the fame of
my honourable friend, and not of Cicero. I confess, I anticipate with
joy the reward of those, whose whole consequence, power, and authority,
exist only for the benefit of mankind; and I carry my mind to all the
people, and all the names and descriptions, that, relieved by this bill,
will bless the labours of this parliament, and the confidence which the
best House of Commons has given to him who the best deserves it. The
little cavils of party will not be heard, where freedom and happiness
will be felt. There is not a tongue, a nation, or religion in India
which will not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of this
house, and of him who proposes to you this great work. Your names will
never be separated before the throne of the Divine goodness, in whatever
language, or with whatever rites, pardon is asked for sin, and reward
for those who imitate the Godhead in his universal bounty to his
creatures. These honours you deserve, and they will surely be paid, when
all the jargon of influence, and party, and patronage, are swept into


I know it is common for men to say, that such and such things are
perfectly right--very desirable; but that, unfortunately, they are not
practicable. Oh! no, sir, no. Those things, which are not practicable,
are not desirable. There is nothing in the world really beneficial that
does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding, and a
well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us
that he has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural
and the moral world. If we cry, like children, for the moon, like
children we must cry on.


The late House of Commons has been punished for its independence. That
example is made. Have we an example on record of a House of Commons
punished for its servility? The rewards of a senate so disposed are
manifest to the world. Several gentlemen are very desirous of altering
the constitution of the House of Commons; but they must alter the frame
and constitution of human nature itself before they can so fashion it by
any mode of election that its conduct will not be influenced by reward
and punishment, by fame, and by disgrace. If these examples take root in
the minds of men, what members hereafter will be bold enough not to be
corrupt? Especially as the king's highway of obsequiousness is so very
broad and easy. To make a passive member of parliament, no dignity of
mind, no principles of honour, no resolution, no ability, no industry,
no learning, no experience, are in the least degree necessary. To defend
a post of importance against a powerful enemy, requires an Elliot; a
drunken invalid is qualified to hoist a white flag, or to deliver up the
keys of the fortress on his knees.


No man knows, when he cuts off the incitements to a virtuous ambition,
and the just rewards of public service, what infinite mischief he may do
his country, through all generations. Such saving to the public may
prove the worst mode of robbing it. The crown, which has in its hands
the trust of the daily pay for national service, ought to have in its
hands also the means for the repose of public labour, and the fixed
settlement of acknowledged merit. There is a time when the
weather-beaten vessels of the state ought to come into harbour. They
must at length have a retreat from the malice of rivals, from the
perfidy of political friends, and the inconstancy of the people. Many of
the persons, who in all times have filled the great offices of state,
have been younger brothers, who had originally little, if any, fortune.
These offices do not furnish the means of amassing wealth. There ought
to be some power in the crown of granting pensions out of the reach of
its own caprices. An entail of dependence is a bad reward of merit.


Those who are least anxious about your conduct are not those that love
you most. Moderate affection and satiated enjoyment are cold and
respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath,
and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of
violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of
the furies. They who call upon you to belong WHOLLY to the people, are
those who wish you to return to your PROPER home; to the sphere of your
duty, to the post of your honour, to the mansion-house of all genuine,
serene, and solid satisfaction.


Look, gentlemen, to the WHOLE TENOUR of your member's conduct. Try
whether his ambition or his avarice have jostled him out of the straight
line of duty; or whether that grand foe of the offices of active life,
that master vice in men of business, a degenerate and inglorious
sloth--has made him flag and languish in his course. This is the object
of our inquiry. If our member's conduct can bear this touch, mark it for
sterling. He may have fallen into errors; he must have faults; but our
error is greater, and our fault is radically ruinous to ourselves, if we
do not bear, if we do not even applaud, the whole compound and mixed
mass of such a character. Not to act thus is folly; I had almost said it
is impiety. He censures God, who quarrels with the imperfections of man.

Gentlemen, we must not be peevish with those who serve the people. For
none will serve us whilst there is a court to serve but those who are of
a nice and jealous honour. They who think everything, in comparison of
that honour, to be dust and ashes, will not bear to have it soiled and
impaired by those for whose sake they make a thousand sacrifices to
preserve it immaculate and whole. We shall either drive such men from
the public stage, or we shall send them to the court for protection;
where, if they must sacrifice their reputation, they will at least
secure their interest. Depend upon it, that the lovers of freedom will
be free. None will violate their conscience to please us, in order
afterwards to discharge that conscience, which they have violated, by
doing us faithful and affectionate service. If we degrade and deprave
their minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect, that they who are
creeping and abject towards us, will ever be bold and incorruptible
assertors of our freedom, against the most seducing and the most
formidable of all powers. No! human nature is not so formed; nor shall
we improve the faculties or better the morals of public men, by our
possession of the most infallible receipt in the world for making cheats
and hypocrites.

Let me say with plainness, I who am no longer in a public character,
that if by a fair, by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behaviour to our
representatives, we do not give confidence to their minds, and a liberal
scope to their understandings; if we do not permit our members to act
upon a VERY enlarged view of things; we shall at length infallibly
degrade our national representation into a confused and scuffling bustle
of local agency. When the popular member is narrowed in his ideas, and
rendered timid in his proceedings, the service of the crown will be the
sole nursery of statesmen. Among the frolics of the court, it may at
length take that of attending to its business. Then the monopoly of
mental power will be added to the power of all other kinds it possesses.
On the side of the people there will be nothing but impotence: for
ignorance is impotence; narrowness of mind is impotence; timidity is
itself impotence, and makes all other qualities that go along with it,
impotent and useless.


When we know, that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the
standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those
opinions the masters of my conscience. But if it may be doubted whether
Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of
right and wrong, sure I am that such THINGS, as they and I, are
possessed of no such power. No man carries further than I do the policy
of making government pleasing to the people. But the widest range of
this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I
would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would
cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a sort of children that
must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my
nature. I would bear, I would even myself play my part in any innocent
buffooneries to divert them. But I never will act the tyrant for their
amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never
consent to throw them any living, sentient creature whatsoever--no, not
so much as a kitling, to torment.


The condition of our nature is such, that we buy our blessings at a
price. The Reformation, one of the greatest periods of human
improvement, was a time of trouble and confusion. The vast structure of
superstition and tyranny, which had been for ages in rearing, and which
was combined with the interest of the great and of the many, which was
moulded into the laws, the manners, and civil institutions of nations,
and blended with the frame and policy of states, could not be brought to
the ground without a fearful struggle; nor could it fall without a
violent concussion of itself and all about it. When this great
revolution was attempted in a more regular mode by government, it was
opposed by plots and seditions of the people; when by popular efforts,
it was repressed as a rebellion by the hand of power; and bloody
executions (often bloodily returned) marked the whole of its progress
through all its stages. The affairs of religion, which are no longer
heard of in the tumult of our present contentions, made a principal
ingredient in the wars and politics of that time; the enthusiasm of
religion threw a gloom over the politics; and political interests
poisoned and perverted the spirit of religion upon all sides. The
Protestant religion in that violent struggle, infected, as the Popish
had been before, by worldly interests and worldly passions, became a
persecutor in its turn, sometimes of the new sects, which carried their
own principles further than it was convenient to the original reformers;
and always of the body from whom they parted: and this persecuting
spirit arose, not only from the bitterness of retaliation, but from the
merciless policy of fear.

It was long before the spirit of true piety and true wisdom, involved in
the principles of the Reformation, could be depurated from the dregs and
feculence of the contention with which it was carried through. However,
until this be done, the Reformation is not complete; and those who think
themselves good Protestants, from their animosity to others, are in that
respect no Protestants at all.


DESCRIPTIONS, dignified by the name of reason of state, and security for
constitutions and commonwealths, is nothing better at bottom, than the
miserable invention of an ungenerous ambition, which would fain hold the
sacred trust of power, without any of the virtues or any of the energies
that give a title to it: a receipt of policy, made up of a detestable
compound of malice, cowardice, and sloth. They would govern men against
their will; but in that government they would be discharged from the
exercise of vigilance, providence, and fortitude; and therefore, that
they may sleep on their watch, they consent to take some one division of
the society into partnership of the tyranny over the rest. But let
government, in what form it may be, comprehend the whole in its justice,
and restrain the suspicious by its vigilance; let it keep watch and
ward; let it discover by its sagacity, and punish by its firmness, all
delinquency against its power, whenever delinquency exists in the overt
acts; and then it will be as safe as ever God and nature intended it
should be. Crimes are the acts of individuals, and not of denominations;
and therefore arbitrarily to class men under general descriptions, in
order to proscribe and punish them in the lump for a presumed
delinquency, of which perhaps but a part, perhaps none at all, are
guilty, is indeed a compendious method, and saves a world of trouble
about proof; but such a method, instead of being law, is an act of
unnatural rebellion against the legal dominion of reason and justice;
and this vice, in any constitution that entertains it, at one time or
other will certainly bring on its ruin.


I must fairly tell you, that so far as my principles are concerned,
(principles that I hope will only depart with my last breath), I have no
idea of a liberty unconnected with honesty and justice. Nor do I believe
that any good constitutions of government, or of freedom, can find it
necessary for their security to doom any part of the people to a
permanent slavery. Such a constitution of freedom, if such can be, is in
effect no more than another name for the tyranny of the strongest
faction; and factions in republics have been, and are, full as capable
as monarchs of the most cruel oppression and injustice. It is but too
true, that the love, and even the very idea of genuine liberty is
extremely rare. It is but too true, that there are many whose whole
scheme of freedom is made up of pride, perverseness, and insolence. They
feel themselves in a state of thraldom, they imagine that their souls
are cooped and cabined in, unless they have some man, or some body of
men, dependent on their mercy. The desire of having some one below them
descends to those who are the very lowest of all,--and a Protestant
cobbler, debased by his poverty, but exalted by his share of the ruling
church, feels a pride in knowing it is by his generosity alone that the
peer, whose footman's instep he measures, is able to keep his chaplain
from a gaol.


They enter the capital of America only to abandon it; and these
assertors and representatives of the dignity of England, at the tail of
a flying army, let fly their Parthian shafts of memorials and
remonstrances at random behind them. Their promises and their offers,
their flatteries and their menaces, were all despised; and we were saved
from the disgrace of their formal reception, only because the congress
scorned to receive them; whilst the state-house of independent
Philadelphia opened her doors to the public entry of the ambassador of
France. From war and blood we went to submission; and from submission
plunged back again to war and blood; to desolate and be desolated,
without measure, hope, or end. I am a Royalist, I blushed for this
degradation of the crown. I am a Whig, I blushed for the dishonour of
parliament. I am a true Englishman, I felt to the quick for the disgrace
of England. I am a man, I felt for the melancholy reverse of human
affairs in the fall of the first power in the world.


I cannot name this gentleman without remarking that his labours and
writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has
visited all Europe,--not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the
stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains
of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art;
not to collect medals, or collate manuscripts:--but to dive into the
depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey
the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and dimensions of
misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend
to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the
distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original; and is as
full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a
circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt
more or less in every country; I hope he will anticipate his final
reward by seeing all its effects fully realized in his own. He will
receive, not by detail, but in gross, the reward of those who visit the
prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of
charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts
of benevolence hereafter.


It is certainly not pleasing to be put out of the public service. But I
wish to be a member of parliament, to have my share of doing good and
resisting evil. It would therefore be absurd to renounce my objects in
order to obtain my seat. I deceive myself indeed most grossly if I had
not much rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in the recesses of
the deepest obscurity, feeding my mind even with the visions and
imaginations of such things, than to be placed on the most splendid
throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all
which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse.
Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my
gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the
slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in
any measure giving quiet to private property, and private conscience; if
by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession,
peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and
subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign
holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to
the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the goodwill of his
countrymen--if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the
best of their actions, I can shut the book;--I might wish to read a page
or two more--but this is enough for my measure,--I have not lived in


Let the commons in parliament assembled be one and the same thing with
the commons at large. The distinctions that are made to separate us are
unnatural and wicked contrivances. Let us identify, let us incorporate,
ourselves with the people. Let us cut all the cables and snap the chains
which tie us to an unfaithful shore, and enter the friendly harbour that
shoots far out into the main its moles and jettees to receive us.--"War
with the world, and peace with our constituents." Be this our motto, and
our principle. Then, indeed, we shall be truly great. Respecting
ourselves, we shall be respected by the world. At present all is
troubled, and cloudy, and distracted, and full of anger and turbulence,
both abroad and at home; but the air may be cleared by this storm, and
light and fertility may follow it. Let us give a faithful pledge to the
people, that we honour indeed the crown, but that we BELONG to them;
that we are their auxiliaries, and not their task-masters,--the
fellow-labourers in the same vineyard,--not lording over their rights,
but helpers of their joy: that to tax them is a grievance to ourselves;
but to cut off from our enjoyments to forward theirs, is the highest
gratification we are capable of receiving.


As things now stand, every man, in proportion to his consequence at
court, tends to add to the expense of the civil list, by all manner of
jobs, if not for himself, yet for his dependents. When the new plan is
established, those who are now suitors for jobs will become the most
strenuous opposers of them. They will have a common interest with the
minister in public economy. Every class, as it stands low, will become
security for the payment of the preceding class; and, thus, the persons
whose insignificant services defraud those that are useful, would then
become interested in their payment. Then the powerful, instead of
oppressing, would be obliged to support the weak; and idleness would
become concerned in the reward of industry. The whole fabric of the
civil economy would become compact and connected in all its parts; it
would be formed into a well-organized body, where every member
contributes to the support of the whole; and where even the lazy stomach
secures the vigour of the active arm.


He felt some concern that this strange thing, called a Revolution in
France, should be compared with the glorious event commonly called the
Revolution in England; and the conduct of the soldiery, on that
occasion, compared with the behaviour of some of the troops of France in
the present instance. At that period the prince of Orange, a prince of
the blood-royal in England, was called in by the flower of the English
aristocracy to defend its ancient constitution, and not to level all
distinctions. To this prince, so invited, the aristocratic leaders who
commanded the troops went over with their several corps, in bodies, to
the deliverer of their country. Aristocratic leaders brought up the
corps of citizens who newly enlisted in this cause. Military obedience
changed its object; but military discipline was not for a moment
interrupted in its principle. The troops were ready for war, but
indisposed to mutiny. But as the conduct of the English armies was
different, so was that of the whole English nation at that time. In
truth, the circumstances of our revolution (as it is called) and that of
France, are just the reverse of each other in almost every particular,
and in the whole spirit of the transaction. With us it was the case of a
legal monarch attempting arbitrary power--in France it is the case of an
arbitrary monarch, beginning, from whatever cause, to legalize his
authority. The one was to be resisted, the other was to be managed and
directed; but in neither case was the order of the state to be changed,
lest government might be ruined, which ought only to be corrected and
legalized. With us we got rid of the man, and preserved the constituent
parts of the state. There they get rid of the constituent parts of the
state, and keep the man. What we did was in truth and substance, and in
a constitutional light, a revolution, not made, but prevented. We took
solid securities; we settled doubtful questions; we corrected anomalies
in our law. In the stable, fundamental parts of our constitution we made
no revolution; no, nor any alteration at all. We did not impair the
monarchy. Perhaps it might be shown that we strengthened it very
considerably. The nation kept the same ranks, the same orders, the same
privileges, the same franchises, the same rules for property, the same
subordinations, the same order in the law, in the revenue, and in the
magistracy; the same lords, the same commons, the same corporations, the
same electors.

The church was not impaired. Her estates, her majesty, her splendour,
her orders and gradations, continued the same. She was preserved in her
full efficiency, and cleared only of a certain intolerance, which was
her weakness and disgrace. The church and the state were the same after
the revolution that they were before, but better secured in every part.

Was little done because a revolution was not made in the constitution?
No! Everything was done; because we commenced with reparation, not with
ruin. Accordingly the state flourished. Instead of laying as dead, in a
sort of trance, or exposed, as some others, in an epileptic fit, to the
pity or derision of the world, for her wild, ridiculous, convulsive
movements, impotent to every purpose but that of dashing out her brains
against the pavement, Great Britain rose above the standard even of her
former self. An era of a more improved domestic prosperity then
commenced, and still continues not only unimpaired, but growing, under
the wasting hand of time. All the energies of the country were awakened.
England never preserved a firmer countenance, nor a more vigorous arm,
to all her enemies, and to all her rivals. Europe under her respired and
revived. Everywhere she appeared as the protector, assertor, or avenger,
of liberty. A war was made and supported against fortune itself. The
treaty of Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, was soon
after made; the grand alliance very shortly followed, which shook to the
foundations the dreadful power which menaced the independence of
mankind. The states of Europe lay happy under the shade of a great and
free monarchy, which knew how to be great without endangering its own
peace at home, or the internal or external peace of any of its


He knew too well, and he felt as much as any man, how difficult it was
to accommodate a standing army to a free constitution, or to any
constitution. An armed, disciplined, body is, in its essence, dangerous
to liberty; undisciplined, it is ruinous to society. Its component parts
are, in the latter case, neither good citizens nor good soldiers. What
have they thought of in France, under such a difficulty as almost puts
the human faculties to a stand? They have put their army under such a
variety of principles of duty, that it is more likely to breed
litigants, pettifoggers, and mutineers, than soldiers. They have set up,
to balance their crown army, another army, deriving under another
authority, called a municipal army--a balance of armies, not of orders.
These latter they have destroyed with every mark of insult and
oppression. States may, and they will best, exist with a partition of
civil powers. Armies cannot exist under a divided command. This state of
things he thought, in effect, a state of war, or, at best, but a truce
instead of peace, in the country.


In the last century, Louis the Fourteenth had established a greater and
better disciplined military force than ever had been before seen in
Europe, and with it a perfect despotism. Though that despotism was
proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, splendour, magnificence, and even
covered over with the imposing robes of science, literature, and arts,
it was, in government, nothing better than a painted and gilded tyranny;
in religion, a hard, stern intolerance, the fit companion and auxiliary
to the despotic tyranny which prevailed in its government. The same
character of despotism insinuated itself into every court of Europe, the
same spirit of disproportioned magnificence--the same love of standing
armies, above the ability of the people. In particular, our then
sovereigns, King Charles and King James, fell in love with the
government of their neighbour, so flattering to the pride of kings. A
similarity of sentiments brought on connections equally dangerous to the
interests and liberties of their country. It were well that the
infection had gone no farther than the throne. The admiration of a
government flourishing and successful, unchecked in its operations, and
seeming therefore to compass its objects more speedily and effectually,
gained something upon all ranks of people. The good patriots of that
day, however, struggled against it. They sought nothing more anxiously
than to break off all communication with France, and to be get a total
alienation from its councils and its example; which, by the animosity
prevalent between the abettors of their religious system and the
assertors of ours, was in some degree effected.


In the last age we were in danger of being entangled by the example of
France in the net of a relentless despotism. It is not necessary to say
anything upon that example. It exists no longer. Our present danger from
the example of a people, whose character knows no medium, is, with
regard to government, a danger from anarchy; a danger of being led
through an admiration of successful fraud and violence, to an imitation
of the excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing,
confiscating, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy.
On the side of religion, the danger of their example is no longer from
intolerance, but from atheism; a foul, unnatural vice, foe to all the
dignity and consolation of mankind; which seems in France, for a long
time, to have been embodied into a faction, accredited, and almost


When an act of great and signal humanity was to be done, and done with
all the weight and authority that belonged to it, the world would cast
its eyes upon none but him. I hope that few things which have a tendency
to bless or to adorn life have wholly escaped my observation in my
passage through it. I have sought the acquaintance of that gentleman,
and have seen him in all situations. He is a true genius; with an
understanding vigorous, and acute, and refined, and distinguishing even
to excess; and illuminated with a most unbounded, peculiar, and original
cast of imagination. With these he possesses many external and
instrumental advantages; and he makes use of them all. His fortune is
among the largest; a fortune which, wholly unincumbered, as it is, with
one single charge from luxury, vanity, or excess, sinks under the
benevolence of its dispenser. This private benevolence, expanding itself
into patriotism, renders his whole being the estate of the public, in
which he has not reserved a peculium for himself of profit, diversion,
or relaxation. During the session, the first in, and the last out of the
House of Commons; he passes from the senate to the camp; and, seldom
seeing the seat of his ancestors, he is always in the senate to serve
his country, or in the field to defend it.


Those, who would commit the reformation of India to the destroyers of
it, are the enemies to that reformation. They would make a distinction
between directors and proprietors, which, in the present state of
things, does not, cannot exist. But a right honourable gentleman says,
he would keep the present government of India in the court of directors;
and would, to curb them, provide salutary regulations;--wonderful! That
is, he would appoint the old offenders to correct the old offences; and
he would render the vicious and the foolish wise and virtuous, by
salutary regulations. He would appoint the wolf as guardian of the
sheep; but he has invented a curious muzzle, by which this protecting
wolf shall not be able to open his jaws above an inch or two at the
utmost. Thus his work is finished. But I tell the right honourable
gentleman, that controlled depravity is not innocence; and that it is
not the labour of delinquency in chains that will correct abuses. Will
these gentlemen of the direction animadvert on the partners of their own
guilt? Never did a serious plan of amending any old tyrannical
establishment propose the authors and abettors of the abuses as the
reformers of them.


If I am to speak my private sentiments, I think that in a thousand cases
for one it would be far less mischievous to the public, and full as
little dishonourable to themselves, to be polluted with direct bribery,
than thus to become a standing auxiliary to the oppression, usury, and
peculation, of multitudes, in order to obtain a corrupt support to their
power. It is by bribing, not so often by being bribed, that wicked
politicians bring ruin on mankind. Avarice is a rival to the pursuits of
many. It finds a multitude of checks, and many opposers, in every walk

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