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Thoughts on the Present Discontents, and Speeches by Edmund Burke

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This etext was transcribed by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk,
proofing by David, Terry L. Jeffress and Edgar A. Howard. The edition
was the 1886 Cassell & Co. edition.


by Edmund Burke


Thoughts on the Present Discontents
Speech on the Middlesex Election.
Speech on the Powers of Juries in Prosecutions for Libels.
Speech on a Bill for Shortening the Duration of Parliaments
Speech on Reform of Representation in the House of Commons


Edmund Burke was born at Dublin on the first of January, 1730. His
father was an attorney, who had fifteen children, of whom all but
four died in their youth. Edmund, the second son, being of delicate
health in his childhood, was taught at home and at his grandfather's
house in the country before he was sent with his two brothers
Garrett and Richard to a school at Ballitore, under Abraham
Shackleton, a member of the Society of Friends. For nearly forty
years afterwards Burke paid an annual visit to Ballitore.

In 1744, after leaving school, Burke entered Trinity College,
Dublin. He graduated B.A. in 1748; M.A., 1751. In 1750 he came to
London, to the Middle Temple. In 1756 Burke became known as a
writer, by two pieces. One was a pamphlet called "A Vindication of
Natural Society." This was an ironical piece, reducing to absurdity
those theories of the excellence of uncivilised humanity which were
gathering strength in France, and had been favoured in the
philosophical works of Bolingbroke, then lately published. Burke's
other work published in 1756, was his "Essay on the Sublime and

At this time Burke's health broke down. He was cared for in the
house of a kindly physician, Dr. Nugent, and the result was that in
the spring of 1757 he married Dr. Nugent's daughter. In the
following year Burke made Samuel Johnson's acquaintance, and
acquaintance ripened fast into close friendship. In 1758, also, a
son was born; and, as a way of adding to his income, Burke suggested
the plan of "The Annual Register."

In 1761 Burke became private secretary to William Gerard Hamilton,
who was then appointed Chief Secretary to Ireland. In April, 1763,
Burke's services were recognised by a pension of 300 pounds a year;
but he threw this up in April, 1765, when he found that his services
were considered to have been not only recognised, but also bought.
On the 10th of July in that year (1765) Lord Rockingham became
Premier, and a week later Burke, through the good offices of an
admiring friend who had come to know him in the newly-founded Turk's
Head Club, became Rockingham's private secretary. He was now the
mainstay, if not the inspirer, of Rockingham's policy of pacific
compromise in the vexed questions between England and the American
colonies. Burke's elder brother, who had lately succeeded to his
father's property, died also in 1765, and Burke sold the estate in
Cork for 4,000 pounds.

Having become private secretary to Lord Rockingham, Burke entered
Parliament as member for Wendover, and promptly took his place among
the leading speakers in the House.

On the 30th of July, 1766, the Rockingham Ministry went out, and
Burke wrote a defence of its policy in "A Short Account of a late
Short Administration." In 1768 Burke bought for 23,000 pounds an
estate called Gregories or Butler's Court, about a mile from
Beaconsfield. He called it by the more territorial name of
Beaconsfield, and made it his home. Burke's endeavours to stay the
policy that was driving the American colonies to revolution, caused
the State of New York, in 1771, to nominate him as its agent. About
May, 1769, Edmund Burke began the pamphlet here given, Thoughts on
the Present Discontents. It was published in 1770, and four
editions of it were issued before the end of the year. It was
directed chiefly against Court influence, that had first been used
successfully against the Rockingham Ministry. Allegiance to
Rockingham caused Burke to write the pamphlet, but he based his
argument upon essentials of his own faith as a statesman. It was
the beginning of the larger utterance of his political mind.

Court influence was strengthened in those days by the large number
of newly-rich men, who bought their way into the House of Commons
for personal reasons and could easily be attached to the King's
party. In a population of 8,000,000 there were then but 160,000
electors, mostly nominal. The great land-owners generally held the
counties. When two great houses disputed the county of York, the
election lasted fourteen days, and the costs, chiefly in bribery,
were said to have reached three hundred thousand pounds. Many seats
in Parliament were regarded as hereditary possessions, which could
be let at rental, or to which the nominations could be sold. Town
corporations often let, to the highest bidders, seats in Parliament,
for the benefit of the town funds. The election of John Wilkes for
Middlesex, in 1768, was taken as a triumph of the people. The King
and his ministers then brought the House of Commons into conflict
with the freeholders of Westminster. Discontent became active and
general. "Junius" began, in his letters, to attack boldly the
King's friends, and into the midst of the discontent was thrown a
message from the Crown asking for half a million, to make good a
shortcoming in the Civil List. Men asked in vain what had been done
with the lost money. Confusion at home was increased by the great
conflict with the American colonies; discontents, ever present, were
colonial as well as home. In such a time Burke endeavoured to show
by what pilotage he would have men weather the storm.

H. M.


It is an undertaking of some degree of delicacy to examine into the
cause of public disorders. If a man happens not to succeed in such
an inquiry, he will be thought weak and visionary; if he touches the
true grievance, there is a danger that he may come near to persons
of weight and consequence, who will rather be exasperated at the
discovery of their errors than thankful for the occasion of
correcting them. If he should be obliged to blame the favourites of
the people, he will be considered as the tool of power; if he
censures those in power, he will be looked on as an instrument of
faction. But in all exertions of duty something is to be hazarded.
In cases of tumult and disorder, our law has invested every man, in
some sort, with the authority of a magistrate. When the affairs of
the nation are distracted, private people are, by the spirit of that
law, justified in stepping a little out of their ordinary sphere.
They enjoy a privilege of somewhat more dignity and effect than that
of idle lamentation over the calamities of their country. They may
look into them narrowly; they may reason upon them liberally; and if
they should be so fortunate as to discover the true source of the
mischief, and to suggest any probable method of removing it, though
they may displease the rulers for the day, they are certainly of
service to the cause of Government. Government is deeply interested
in everything which, even through the medium of some temporary
uneasiness, may tend finally to compose the minds of the subjects,
and to conciliate their affections. I have nothing to do here with
the abstract value of the voice of the people. But as long as
reputation, the most precious possession of every individual, and as
long as opinion, the great support of the State, depend entirely
upon that voice, it can never be considered as a thing of little
consequence either to individuals or to Government. Nations are not
primarily ruled by laws; less by violence. Whatever original energy
may be supposed either in force or regulation, the operation of both
is, in truth, merely instrumental. Nations are governed by the same
methods, and on the same principles, by which an individual without
authority is often able to govern those who are his equals or his
superiors, by a knowledge of their temper, and by a judicious
management of it; I mean, when public affairs are steadily and
quietly conducted: not when Government is nothing but a continued
scuffle between the magistrate and the multitude, in which sometimes
the one and sometimes the other is uppermost--in which they
alternately yield and prevail, in a series of contemptible victories
and scandalous submissions. The temper of the people amongst whom
he presides ought therefore to be the first study of a statesman.
And the knowledge of this temper it is by no means impossible for
him to attain, if he has not an interest in being ignorant of what
it is his duty to learn.

To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present
possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant
hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greater part
of mankind--indeed, the necessary effects of the ignorance and
levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and humours have existed in
all times; yet as all times have NOT been alike, true political
sagacity manifests itself, in distinguishing that complaint which
only characterises the general infirmity of human nature from those
which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air
and season.

Nobody, I believe, will consider it merely as the language of spleen
or disappointment, if I say that there is something particularly
alarming in the present conjuncture. There is hardly a man, in or
out of power, who holds any other language. That Government is at
once dreaded and contemned; that the laws are despoiled of all their
respected and salutary terrors; that their inaction is a subject of
ridicule, and their exertion of abhorrence; that rank, and office,
and title, and all the solemn plausibilities of the world, have lost
their reverence and effect; that our foreign politics are as much
deranged as our domestic economy; that our dependencies are
slackened in their affection, and loosened from their obedience;
that we know neither how to yield nor how to enforce; that hardly
anything above or below, abroad or at home, is sound and entire; but
that disconnection and confusion, in offices, in parties, in
families, in Parliament, in the nation, prevail beyond the disorders
of any former time: these are facts universally admitted and

This state of things is the more extraordinary, because the great
parties which formerly divided and agitated the kingdom are known to
be in a manner entirely dissolved. No great external calamity has
visited the nation; no pestilence or famine. We do not labour at
present under any scheme of taxation new or oppressive in the
quantity or in the mode. Nor are we engaged in unsuccessful war, in
which our misfortunes might easily pervert our judgment, and our
minds, sore from the loss of national glory, might feel every blow
of fortune as a crime in Government.

It is impossible that the cause of this strange distemper should not
sometimes become a subject of discourse. It is a compliment due,
and which I willingly pay, to those who administer our affairs, to
take notice in the first place of their speculation. Our Ministers
are of opinion that the increase of our trade and manufactures, that
our growth by colonisation and by conquest, have concurred to
accumulate immense wealth in the hands of some individuals; and this
again being dispersed amongst the people, has rendered them
universally proud, ferocious, and ungovernable; that the insolence
of some from their enormous wealth, and the boldness of others from
a guilty poverty, have rendered them capable of the most atrocious
attempts; so that they have trampled upon all subordination, and
violently borne down the unarmed laws of a free Government--barriers
too feeble against the fury of a populace so fierce and licentious
as ours. They contend that no adequate provocation has been given
for so spreading a discontent, our affairs having been conducted
throughout with remarkable temper and consummate wisdom. The wicked
industry of some libellers, joined to the intrigues of a few
disappointed politicians, have, in their opinion, been able to
produce this unnatural ferment in the nation.

Nothing indeed can be more unnatural than the present convulsions of
this country, if the above account be a true one. I confess I shall
assent to it with great reluctance, and only on the compulsion of
the clearest and firmest proofs; because their account resolves
itself into this short but discouraging proposition, "That we have a
very good Ministry, but that we are a very bad people;" that we set
ourselves to bite the hand that feeds us; that with a malignant
insanity we oppose the measures, and ungratefully vilify the
persons, of those whose sole object is our own peace and prosperity.
If a few puny libellers, acting under a knot of factious
politicians, without virtue, parts, or character (such they are
constantly represented by these gentlemen), are sufficient to excite
this disturbance, very perverse must be the disposition of that
people amongst whom such a disturbance can be excited by such means.
It is besides no small aggravation of the public misfortune that the
disease, on this hypothesis, appears to be without remedy. If the
wealth of the nation be the cause of its turbulence, I imagine it is
not proposed to introduce poverty as a constable to keep the peace.
If our dominions abroad are the roots which feed all this rank
luxuriance of sedition, it is not intended to cut them off in order
to famish the fruit. If our liberty has enfeebled the executive
power, there is no design, I hope, to call in the aid of despotism
to fill up the deficiencies of law. Whatever may be intended, these
things are not yet professed. We seem therefore to be driven to
absolute despair, for we have no other materials to work upon but
those out of which God has been pleased to form the inhabitants of
this island. If these be radically and essentially vicious, all
that can be said is that those men are very unhappy to whose fortune
or duty it falls to administer the affairs of this untoward people.
I hear it indeed sometimes asserted that a steady perseverance in
the present measures, and a rigorous punishment of those who oppose
them, will in course of time infallibly put an end to these
disorders. But this, in my opinion, is said without much
observation of our present disposition, and without any knowledge at
all of the general nature of mankind. If the matter of which this
nation is composed be so very fermentable as these gentlemen
describe it, leaven never will be wanting to work it up, as long as
discontent, revenge, and ambition have existence in the world.
Particular punishments are the cure for accidental distempers in the
State; they inflame rather than allay those heats which arise from
the settled mismanagement of the Government, or from a natural ill
disposition in the people. It is of the utmost moment not to make
mistakes in the use of strong measures, and firmness is then only a
virtue when it accompanies the most perfect wisdom. In truth,
inconstancy is a sort of natural corrective of folly and ignorance.

I am not one of those who think that the people are never in the
wrong. They have been so, frequently and outrageously, both in
other countries and in this. But I do say that in all disputes
between them and their rulers the presumption is at least upon a par
in favour of the people. Experience may perhaps justify me in going
further. When popular discontents have been very prevalent, it may
well be affirmed and supported that there has been generally
something found amiss in the constitution or in the conduct of
Government. The people have no interest in disorder. When they do
wrong, it is their error, and not their crime. But with the
governing part of the State it is far otherwise. They certainly may
act ill by design, as well as by mistake. "Les revolutions qui
arrivent dans les grands etats ne sont point un effect du hasard, ni
du caprice des peuples. Rien ne revolte les grands d'un royaume
comme un Gouvernoment foible et derange. Pour la populace, ce n'est
jamais par envie d'attaquer qu'elle se souleve, mais par impatience
de souffrir." These are the words of a great man, of a Minister of
State, and a zealous assertor of Monarchy. They are applied to the
system of favouritism which was adopted by Henry the Third of
France, and to the dreadful consequences it produced. What he says
of revolutions is equally true of all great disturbances. If this
presumption in favour of the subjects against the trustees of power
be not the more probable, I am sure it is the more comfortable
speculation, because it is more easy to change an Administration
than to reform a people.

Upon a supposition, therefore, that, in the opening of the cause,
the presumptions stand equally balanced between the parties, there
seems sufficient ground to entitle any person to a fair hearing who
attempts some other scheme besides that easy one which is
fashionable in some fashionable companies, to account for the
present discontents. It is not to be argued that we endure no
grievance, because our grievances are not of the same sort with
those under which we laboured formerly--not precisely those which we
bore from the Tudors, or vindicated on the Stuarts. A great change
has taken place in the affairs of this country. For in the silent
lapse of events as material alterations have been insensibly brought
about in the policy and character of governments and nations as
those which have been marked by the tumult of public revolutions.

It is very rare indeed for men to be wrong in their feelings
concerning public misconduct; as rare to be right in their
speculation upon the cause of it. I have constantly observed that
the generality of people are fifty years, at least, behindhand in
their politics. There are but very few who are capable of comparing
and digesting what passes before their eyes at different times and
occasions, so as to form the whole into a distinct system. But in
books everything is settled for them, without the exertion of any
considerable diligence or sagacity. For which reason men are wise
with but little reflection, and good with little self-denial, in the
business of all times except their own. We are very uncorrupt and
tolerably enlightened judges of the transactions of past ages; where
no passions deceive, and where the whole train of circumstances,
from the trifling cause to the tragical event, is set in an orderly
series before us. Few are the partisans of departed tyranny; and to
be a Whig on the business of a hundred years ago is very consistent
with every advantage of present servility. This retrospective
wisdom and historical patriotism are things of wonderful
convenience, and serve admirably to reconcile the old quarrel
between speculation and practice. Many a stern republican, after
gorging himself with a full feast of admiration of the Grecian
commonwealths and of our true Saxon constitution, and discharging
all the splendid bile of his virtuous indignation on King John and
King James, sits down perfectly satisfied to the coarsest work and
homeliest job of the day he lives in. I believe there was no
professed admirer of Henry the Eighth among the instruments of the
last King James; nor in the court of Henry the Eighth was there, I
dare say, to be found a single advocate for the favourites of
Richard the Second.

No complaisance to our Court, or to our age, can make me believe
nature to be so changed but that public liberty will be among us, as
among our ancestors, obnoxious to some person or other, and that
opportunities will be furnished for attempting, at least, some
alteration to the prejudice of our constitution. These attempts
will naturally vary in their mode, according to times and
circumstances. For ambition, though it has ever the same general
views, has not at all times the same means, nor the same particular
objects. A great deal of the furniture of ancient tyranny is worn
to rags; the rest is entirely out of fashion. Besides, there are
few statesmen so very clumsy and awkward in their business as to
fall into the identical snare which has proved fatal to their
predecessors. When an arbitrary imposition is attempted upon the
subject, undoubtedly it will not bear on its forehead the name of
SHIP-MONEY. There is no danger that an extension of the FOREST LAWS
should be the chosen mode of oppression in this age. And when we
hear any instance of ministerial rapacity to the prejudice of the
rights of private life, it will certainly not be the exaction of two
hundred pullets, from a woman of fashion, for leave to lie with her
own husband.

Every age has its own manners, and its politics dependent upon them;
and the same attempts will not be made against a constitution fully
formed and matured, that were used to destroy it in the cradle, or
to resist its growth during its infancy.

Against the being of Parliament, I am satisfied, no designs have
ever been entertained since the Revolution. Every one must perceive
that it is strongly the interest of the Court to have some second
cause interposed between the Ministers and the people. The
gentlemen of the House of Commons have an interest equally strong in
sustaining the part of that intermediate cause. However they may
hire out the usufruct of their voices, they never will part with the
FEE AND INHERITANCE. Accordingly those who have been of the most
known devotion to the will and pleasure of a Court, have at the same
time been most forward in asserting a high authority in the House of
Commons. When they knew who were to use that authority, and how it
was to be employed, they thought it never could be carried too far.
It must be always the wish of an unconstitutional statesman, that a
House of Commons who are entirely dependent upon him, should have
every right of the people entirely dependent upon their pleasure.
It was soon discovered that the forms of a free, and the ends of an
arbitrary Government, were things not altogether incompatible.

The power of the Crown, almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has
grown up anew, with much more strength, and far less odium, under
the name of Influence. An influence which operated without noise
and without violence; an influence which converted the very
antagonist into the instrument of power; which contained in itself a
perpetual principle of growth and renovation; and which the
distresses and the prosperity of the country equally tended to
augment, was an admirable substitute for a prerogative that, being
only the offspring of antiquated prejudices, had moulded in its
original stamina irresistible principles of decay and dissolution.
The ignorance of the people is a bottom but for a temporary system;
the interest of active men in the State is a foundation perpetual
and infallible. However, some circumstances, arising, it must be
confessed, in a great degree from accident, prevented the effects of
this influence for a long time from breaking out in a manner capable
of exciting any serious apprehensions. Although Government was
strong and flourished exceedingly, the COURT had drawn far less
advantage than one would imagine from this great source of power.

At the Revolution, the Crown, deprived, for the ends of the
Revolution itself, of many prerogatives, was found too weak to
struggle against all the difficulties which pressed so new and
unsettled a Government. The Court was obliged therefore to delegate
a part of its powers to men of such interest as could support, and
of such fidelity as would adhere to, its establishment. Such men
were able to draw in a greater number to a concurrence in the common
defence. This connection, necessary at first, continued long after
convenient; and properly conducted might indeed, in all situations,
be a useful instrument of Government. At the same time, through the
intervention of men of popular weight and character, the people
possessed a security for their just proportion of importance in the
State. But as the title to the Crown grew stronger by long
possession, and by the constant increase of its influence, these
helps have of late seemed to certain persons no better than
incumbrances. The powerful managers for Government were not
sufficiently submissive to the pleasure of the possessors of
immediate and personal favour, sometimes from a confidence in their
own strength, natural and acquired; sometimes from a fear of
offending their friends, and weakening that lead in the country,
which gave them a consideration independent of the Court. Men acted
as if the Court could receive, as well as confer, an obligation.
The influence of Government, thus divided in appearance between the
Court and the leaders of parties, became in many cases an accession
rather to the popular than to the royal scale; and some part of that
influence, which would otherwise have been possessed as in a sort of
mortmain and unalienable domain, returned again to the great ocean
from whence it arose, and circulated among the people. This method
therefore of governing by men of great natural interest or great
acquired consideration, was viewed in a very invidious light by the
true lovers of absolute monarchy. It is the nature of despotism to
abhor power held by any means but its own momentary pleasure; and to
annihilate all intermediate situations between boundless strength on
its own part, and total debility on the part of the people.

To get rid of all this intermediate and independent importance, and
has for some years past been the great object of policy. If this
were compassed, the influence of the Crown must of course produce
all the effects which the most sanguine partisans of the Court could
possibly desire. Government might then be carried on without any
concurrence on the part of the people; without any attention to the
dignity of the greater, or to the affections of the lower sorts. A
new project was therefore devised by a certain set of intriguing
men, totally different from the system of Administration which had
prevailed since the accession of the House of Brunswick. This
project, I have heard, was first conceived by some persons in the
Court of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

The earliest attempt in the execution of this design was to set up
for Minister a person, in rank indeed respectable, and very ample in
fortune; but who, to the moment of this vast and sudden elevation,
was little known or considered in the kingdom. To him the whole
nation was to yield an immediate and implicit submission. But
whether it was from want of firmness to bear up against the first
opposition, or that things were not yet fully ripened, or that this
method was not found the most eligible, that idea was soon
abandoned. The instrumental part of the project was a little
altered, to accommodate it to the time, and to bring things more
gradually and more surely to the one great end proposed.

The first part of the reformed plan was to draw A LINE WHICH SHOULD
SEPARATE THE COURT FROM THE MINISTRY. Hitherto these names had been
looked upon as synonymous; but, for the future, Court and
Administration were to be considered as things totally distinct. By
this operation, two systems of Administration were to be formed:
one which should be in the real secret and confidence; the other
merely ostensible, to perform the official and executory duties of
Government. The latter were alone to be responsible; whilst the
real advisers, who enjoyed all the power, were effectually removed
from all the danger.

THE COURT AGAINST THE MINISTRY: this party was to have a large
share in the emoluments of Government, and to hold it totally
separate from, and independent of, ostensible Administration.

The third point, and that on which the success of the whole scheme
THIS PROJECT. Parliament was therefore to be taught by degrees a
total indifference to the persons, rank, influence, abilities,
connections, and character of the Ministers of the Crown. By means
of a discipline, on which I shall say more hereafter, that body was
to be habituated to the most opposite interests, and the most
discordant politics. All connections and dependencies among
subjects were to be entirely dissolved. As hitherto business had
gone through the hands of leaders of Whigs or Tories, men of talents
to conciliate the people, and to engage their confidence, now the
method was to be altered; and the lead was to be given to men of no
sort of consideration or credit in the country. This want of
natural importance was to be their very title to delegated power.
Members of parliament were to be hardened into an insensibility to
pride as well as to duty. Those high and haughty sentiments, which
are the great support of independence, were to be let down
gradually. Point of honour and precedence were no more to be
regarded in Parliamentary decorum than in a Turkish army. It was to
be avowed, as a constitutional maxim, that the King might appoint
one of his footmen, or one of your footmen, for Minister; and that
he ought to be, and that he would be, as well followed as the first
name for rank or wisdom in the nation. Thus Parliament was to look
on, as if perfectly unconcerned while a cabal of the closet and
back-stairs was substituted in the place of a national

With such a degree of acquiescence, any measure of any Court might
well be deemed thoroughly secure. The capital objects, and by much
the most flattering characteristics of arbitrary power, would be
obtained. Everything would be drawn from its holdings in the
country to the personal favour and inclination of the Prince. This
favour would be the sole introduction to power, and the only tenure
by which it was to be held: so that no person looking towards
another, and all looking towards the Court, it was impossible but
that the motive which solely influenced every man's hopes must come
in time to govern every man's conduct; till at last the servility
became universal, in spite of the dead letter of any laws or
institutions whatsoever.

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

His Majesty came to the throne of these kingdoms with more
advantages than any of his predecessors since the Revolution.
Fourth in descent, and third in succession of his Royal family, even
the zealots of hereditary right, in him, saw something to flatter
their favourite prejudices; and to justify a transfer of their
attachments, without a change in their principles. The person and
cause of the Pretender were become contemptible; his title disowned
throughout Europe, his party disbanded in England. His Majesty came
indeed to the inheritance of a mighty war; but, victorious in every
part of the globe, peace was always in his power, not to negotiate,
but to dictate. No foreign habitudes or attachments withdrew him
from the cultivation of his power at home. His revenue for the
Civil establishment, fixed (as it was then thought) at a large, but
definite sum, was ample, without being invidious; his influence, by
additions from conquest, by an augmentation of debt, by an increase
of military and naval establishment, much strengthened and extended.
And coming to the throne in the prime and full vigour of youth, as
from affection there was a strong dislike, so from dread there
seemed to be a general averseness from giving anything like offence
to a monarch against whose resentment opposition could not look for
a refuge in any sort of reversionary hope.

These singular advantages inspired his Majesty only with a more
ardent desire to preserve unimpaired the spirit of that national
freedom to which he owed a situation so full of glory. But to
others it suggested sentiments of a very different nature. They
thought they now beheld an opportunity (by a certain sort of
statesman never long undiscovered or unemployed) of drawing to
themselves, by the aggrandisement of a Court faction, a degree of
power which they could never hope to derive from natural influence
or from honourable service; and which it was impossible they could
hold with the least security, whilst the system of Administration
rested upon its former bottom. In order to facilitate the execution
of their design, it was necessary to make many alterations in
political arrangement, and a signal change in the opinions, habits,
and connections of the greater part of those who at that time acted
in public.

In the first place, they proceeded gradually, but not slowly, to
destroy everything of strength which did not derive its principal
nourishment from the immediate pleasure of the Court. The greatest
weight of popular opinion and party connection were then with the
Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Pitt. Neither of these held his
importance by the NEW TENURE of the Court; they were not, therefore,
thought to be so proper as others for the services which were
required by that tenure. It happened very favourably for the new
system, that under a forced coalition there rankled an incurable
alienation and disgust between the parties which composed the
Administration. Mr. Pitt was first attacked. Not satisfied with
removing him from power, they endeavoured by various artifices to
ruin his character. The other party seemed rather pleased to get
rid of so oppressive a support; not perceiving that their own fall
was prepared by his, and involved in it. Many other reasons
prevented them from daring to look their true situation in the face.
To the great Whig families it was extremely disagreeable, and seemed
almost unnatural, to oppose the Administration of a Prince of the
House of Brunswick. Day after day they hesitated, and doubted, and
lingered, expecting that other counsels would take place; and were
slow to be persuaded that all which had been done by the Cabal was
the effect, not of humour, but of system. It was more strongly and
evidently the interest of the new Court faction to get rid of the
great Whig connections than to destroy Mr. Pitt. The power of that
gentleman was vast indeed, and merited; but it was in a great degree
personal, and therefore transient. Theirs was rooted in the
country. For, with a good deal less of popularity, they possessed a
far more natural and fixed influence. Long possession of
Government; vast property; obligations of favours given and
received; connection of office; ties of blood, of alliance, of
friendship (things at that time supposed of some force); the name of
Whig, dear to the majority of the people; the zeal early begun and
steadily continued to the Royal Family; all these together formed a
body of power in the nation, which was criminal and devoted. The
great ruling principle of the Cabal, and that which animated and
harmonised all their proceedings, how various soever they may have
been, was to signify to the world that the Court would proceed upon
its own proper forces only; and that the pretence of bringing any
other into its service was an affront to it, and not a support.
Therefore when the chiefs were removed, in order to go to the root,
the whole party was put under a proscription, so general and severe
as to take their hard-earned bread from the lowest officers, in a
manner which had never been known before, even in general
revolutions. But it was thought necessary effectually to destroy
all dependencies but one, and to show an example of the firmness and
rigour with which the new system was to be supported.

Thus for the time were pulled down, in the persons of the Whig
leaders and of Mr. Pitt (in spite of the services of the one at the
accession of the Royal Family, and the recent services of the other
CONNECTION. Here and there indeed a few individuals were left
standing, who gave security for their total estrangement from the
odious principles of party connection and personal attachment; and
it must be confessed that most of them have religiously kept their
faith. Such a change could not, however, be made without a mighty
shock to Government.

To reconcile the minds of the people to all these movements,
principles correspondent to them had been preached up with great
zeal. Every one must remember that the Cabal set out with the most
astonishing prudery, both moral and political. Those who in a few
months after soused over head and ears into the deepest and dirtiest
pits of corruption, cried out violently against the indirect
practices in the electing and managing of Parliaments, which had
formerly prevailed. This marvellous abhorrence which the Court had
suddenly taken to all influence, was not only circulated in
conversation through the kingdom, but pompously announced to the
public, with many other extraordinary things, in a pamphlet which
had all the appearance of a manifesto preparatory to some
considerable enterprise. Throughout, it was a satire, though in
terms managed and decent enough, on the politics of the former
reign. It was indeed written with no small art and address.

In this piece appeared the first dawning of the new system; there
first appeared the idea (then only in speculation) of SEPARATING THE
COURT FROM THE ADMINISTRATION; of carrying everything from national
connection to personal regards; and of forming a regular party for
that purpose, under the name of KING'S MEN.

To recommend this system to the people, a perspective view of the
Court, gorgeously painted, and finely illuminated from within, was
exhibited to the gaping multitude. Party was to be totally done
away, with all its evil works. Corruption was to be cast down from
Court, as Ate was from heaven. Power was thenceforward to be the
chosen residence of public spirit; and no one was to be supposed
under any sinister influence, except those who had the misfortune to
be in disgrace at Court, which was to stand in lieu of all vices and
all corruptions. A scheme of perfection to be realised in a
Monarchy, far beyond the visionary Republic of Plato. The whole
scenery was exactly disposed to captivate those good souls, whose
credulous morality is so invaluable a treasure to crafty
politicians. Indeed, there was wherewithal to charm everybody,
except those few who are not much pleased with professions of
supernatural virtue, who know of what stuff such professions are
made, for what purposes they are designed, and in what they are sure
constantly to end. Many innocent gentlemen, who had been talking
prose all their lives without knowing anything of the matter, began
at last to open their eyes upon their own merits, and to attribute
their not having been Lords of the Treasury and Lords of Trade many
years before merely to the prevalence of party, and to the
Ministerial power, which had frustrated the good intentions of the
Court in favour of their abilities. Now was the time to unlock the
sealed fountain of Royal bounty, which had been infamously
monopolised and huckstered, and to let it flow at large upon the
whole people. The time was come to restore Royalty to its original
splendour. Mettre le Roy hors de page, became a sort of watchword.
And it was constantly in the mouths of all the runners of the Court,
that nothing could preserve the balance of the constitution from
being overturned by the rabble, or by a faction of the nobility, but
to free the Sovereign effectually from that Ministerial tyranny
under which the Royal dignity had been oppressed in the person of
his Majesty's grandfather.

These were some of the many artifices used to reconcile the people
to the great change which was made in the persons who composed the
Ministry, and the still greater which was made and avowed in its
constitution. As to individuals, other methods were employed with
them, in order so thoroughly to disunite every party, and even every
FUTURE OPPOSITION. And in this manner an Administration without
connection with the people, or with one another, was first put in
possession of Government. What good consequences followed from it,
we have all seen; whether with regard to virtue, public or private;
to the ease and happiness of the Sovereign; or to the real strength
of Government. But as so much stress was then laid on the necessity
of this new project, it will not be amiss to take a view of the
effects of this Royal servitude and vile durance, which was so
deplored in the reign of the late Monarch, and was so carefully to
be avoided in the reign of his successor. The effects were these.

In times full of doubt and danger to his person and family, George
the Second maintained the dignity of his Crown connected with the
liberty of his people, not only unimpaired, but improved, for the
space of thirty-three years. He overcame a dangerous rebellion,
abetted by foreign force, and raging in the heart of his kingdoms;
and thereby destroyed the seeds of all future rebellion that could
arise upon the same principle. He carried the glory, the power, the
commerce of England, to a height unknown even to this renowned
nation in the times of its greatest prosperity: and he left his
succession resting on the true and only true foundation of all
national and all regal greatness; affection at home, reputation
abroad, trust in allies, terror in rival nations. The most ardent
lover of his country cannot wish for Great Britain a happier fate
than to continue as she was then left. A people emulous as we are
in affection to our present Sovereign, know not how to form a prayer
to Heaven for a greater blessing upon his virtues, or a higher state
of felicity and glory, than that he should live, and should reign,
and, when Providence ordains it, should die, exactly like his
illustrious predecessor.

A great Prince may be obliged (though such a thing cannot happen
very often) to sacrifice his private inclination to his public
interest. A wise Prince will not think that such a restraint
implies a condition of servility; and truly, if such was the
condition of the last reign, and the effects were also such as we
have described, we ought, no less for the sake of the Sovereign whom
we love, than for our own, to hear arguments convincing indeed,
before we depart from the maxims of that reign, or fly in the face
of this great body of strong and recent experience.

One of the principal topics which was then, and has been since, much
employed by that political school, is an effectual terror of the
growth of an aristocratic power, prejudicial to the rights of the
Crown, and the balance of the constitution. Any new powers
exercised in the House of Lords, or in the House of Commons, or by
the Crown, ought certainly to excite the vigilant and anxious
jealousy of a free people. Even a new and unprecedented course of
action in the whole Legislature, without great and evident reason,
may be a subject of just uneasiness. I will not affirm, that there
may not have lately appeared in the House of Lords a disposition to
some attempts derogatory to the legal rights of the subject. If any
such have really appeared, they have arisen, not from a power
properly aristocratic, but from the same influence which is charged
with having excited attempts of a similar nature in the House of
Commons; which House, if it should have been betrayed into an
unfortunate quarrel with its constituents, and involved in a charge
of the very same nature, could have neither power nor inclination to
repel such attempts in others. Those attempts in the House of Lords
can no more be called aristocratic proceedings, than the proceedings
with regard to the county of Middlesex in the House of Commons can
with any sense be called democratical.

It is true, that the Peers have a great influence in the kingdom,
and in every part of the public concerns. While they are men of
property, it is impossible to prevent it, except by such means as
must prevent all property from its natural operation: an event not
easily to be compassed, while property is power; nor by any means to
be wished, while the least notion exists of the method by which the
spirit of liberty acts, and of the means by which it is preserved.
If any particular Peers, by their uniform, upright, constitutional
conduct, by their public and their private virtues, have acquired an
influence in the country; the people on whose favour that influence
depends, and from whom it arose, will never be duped into an
opinion, that such greatness in a Peer is the despotism of an
aristocracy, when they know and feel it to be the effect and pledge
of their own importance.

I am no friend to aristocracy, in the sense at least in which that
word is usually understood. If it were not a bad habit to moot
cases on the supposed ruin of the constitution, I should be free to
declare, that if it must perish, I would rather by far see it
resolved into any other form, than lost in that austere and insolent
domination. But, whatever my dislikes may be, my fears are not upon
that quarter. The question, on the influence of a Court, and of a
Peerage, is not, which of the two dangers is the most eligible, but
which is the most imminent. He is but a poor observer, who has not
seen, that the generality of Peers, far from supporting themselves
in a state of independent greatness, are but too apt to fall into an
oblivion of their proper dignity, and to run headlong into an abject
servitude. Would to God it were true, that the fault of our Peers
were too much spirit! It is worthy of some observation, that these
gentlemen, so jealous of aristocracy, make no complaints of the
power of those peers (neither few nor inconsiderable) who are always
in the train of a Court, and whose whole weight must be considered
as a portion of the settled influence of the Crown. This is all
safe and right; but if some Peers (I am very sorry they are not as
many as they ought to be) set themselves, in the great concern of
Peers and Commons, against a back-stairs influence and clandestine
government, then the alarm begins; then the constitution is in
danger of being forced into an aristocracy.

I rest a little the longer on this Court topic, because it was much
insisted upon at the time of the great change, and has been since
frequently revived by many of the agents of that party: for, whilst
they are terrifying the great and opulent with the horrors of mob-
government, they are by other managers attempting (though hitherto
with little success) to alarm the people with a phantom of tyranny
in the Nobles. All this is done upon their favourite principle of
disunion, of sowing jealousies amongst the different orders of the
State, and of disjointing the natural strength of the kingdom; that
it may be rendered incapable of resisting the sinister designs of
wicked men, who have engrossed the Royal power.

Thus much of the topics chosen by the courtiers to recommend their
system; it will be necessary to open a little more at large the
nature of that party which was formed for its support. Without
this, the whole would have been no better than a visionary
amusement, like the scheme of Harrington's political club, and not a
business in which the nation had a real concern. As a powerful
party, and a party constructed on a new principle, it is a very
inviting object of curiosity.

It must be remembered, that since the Revolution, until the period
we are speaking of, the influence of the Crown had been always
employed in supporting the Ministers of State, and in carrying on
the public business according to their opinions. But the party now
in question is formed upon a very different idea. It is to
intercept the favour, protection, and confidence of the Crown in the
passage to its Ministers; it is to come between them and their
importance in Parliament; it is to separate them from all their
natural and acquired dependencies; it is intended as the control,
not the support, of Administration. The machinery of this system is
perplexed in its movements, and false in its principle. It is
formed on a supposition that the King is something external to his
government; and that he may be honoured and aggrandised, even by its
debility and disgrace. The plan proceeds expressly on the idea of
enfeebling the regular executory power. It proceeds on the idea of
weakening the State in order to strengthen the Court. The scheme
depending entirely on distrust, on disconnection, on mutability by
principle, on systematic weakness in every particular member; it is
impossible that the total result should be substantial strength of
any kind.

As a foundation of their scheme, the Cabal have established a sort
of Rota in the Court. All sorts of parties, by this means, have
been brought into Administration, from whence few have had the good
fortune to escape without disgrace; none at all without considerable
losses. In the beginning of each arrangement no professions of
confidence and support are wanting, to induce the leading men to
engage. But while the Ministers of the day appear in all the pomp
and pride of power, while they have all their canvas spread out to
the wind, and every sail filled with the fair and prosperous gale of
Royal favour, in a short time they find, they know not how, a
current, which sets directly against them; which prevents all
progress, and even drives them backwards. They grow ashamed and
mortified in a situation, which, by its vicinity to power, only
serves to remind them the more strongly of their insignificance.
They are obliged either to execute the orders of their inferiors, or
to see themselves opposed by the natural instruments of their
office. With the loss of their dignity, they lose their temper. In
their turn they grow troublesome to that Cabal, which, whether it
supports or opposes, equally disgraces and equally betrays them. It
is soon found necessary to get rid of the heads of Administration;
but it is of the heads only. As there always are many rotten
members belonging to the best connections, it is not hard to
persuade several to continue in office without their leaders. By
this means the party goes out much thinner than it came in; and is
only reduced in strength by its temporary possession of power.
Besides, if by accident, or in course of changes, that power should
be recovered, the Junto have thrown up a retrenchment of these
carcases, which may serve to cover themselves in a day of danger.
They conclude, not unwisely, that such rotten members will become
the first objects of disgust and resentment to their ancient

They contrive to form in the outward Administration two parties at
the least; which, whilst they are tearing one another to pieces, are
both competitors for the favour and protection of the Cabal; and, by
their emulation, contribute to throw everything more and more into
the hands of the interior managers.

A Minister of State will sometimes keep himself totally estranged
from all his colleagues; will differ from them in their counsels,
will privately traverse, and publicly oppose, their measures. He
will, however, continue in his employment. Instead of suffering any
mark of displeasure, he will be distinguished by an unbounded
profusion of Court rewards and caresses; because he does what is
expected, and all that is expected, from men in office. He helps to
keep some form of Administration in being, and keeps it at the same
time as weak and divided as possible.

However, we must take care not to be mistaken, or to imagine that
such persons have any weight in their opposition. When, by them,
Administration is convinced of its insignificancy, they are soon to
be convinced of their own. They never are suffered to succeed in
their opposition. They and the world are to be satisfied, that
neither office, nor authority, nor property, nor ability, eloquence,
counsel, skill, or union, are of the least importance; but that the
mere influence of the Court, naked of all support, and destitute of
all management, is abundantly sufficient for all its own purposes.

When any adverse connection is to be destroyed, the Cabal seldom
appear in the work themselves. They find out some person of whom
the party entertains a high opinion. Such a person they endeavour
to delude with various pretences. They teach him first to distrust,
and then to quarrel with his friends; among whom, by the same arts,
they excite a similar diffidence of him; so that in this mutual fear
and distrust, he may suffer himself to be employed as the instrument
in the change which is brought about. Afterwards they are sure to
destroy him in his turn; by setting up in his place some person in
whom he had himself reposed the greatest confidence, and who serves
to carry on a considerable part of his adherents.

When such a person has broke in this manner with his connections, he
is soon compelled to commit some flagrant act of iniquitous personal
hostility against some of them (such as an attempt to strip a
particular friend of his family estate), by which the Cabal hope to
render the parties utterly irreconcilable. In truth, they have so
contrived matters, that people have a greater hatred to the
subordinate instruments than to the principal movers.

As in destroying their enemies they make use of instruments not
immediately belonging to their corps, so in advancing their own
friends they pursue exactly the same method. To promote any of them
to considerable rank or emolument, they commonly take care that the
recommendation shall pass through the hands of the ostensible
Ministry: such a recommendation might, however, appear to the world
as some proof of the credit of Ministers, and some means of
increasing their strength. To prevent this, the persons so advanced
are directed in all companies, industriously to declare, that they
are under no obligations whatsoever to Administration; that they
have received their office from another quarter; that they are
totally free and independent.

When the Faction has any job of lucre to obtain, or of vengeance to
perpetrate, their way is, to select, for the execution, those very
persons to whose habits, friendships, principles, and declarations,
such proceedings are publicly known to be the most adverse; at once
to render the instruments the more odious, and therefore the more
dependent, and to prevent the people from ever reposing a confidence
in any appearance of private friendship, or public principle.

If the Administration seem now and then, from remissness, or from
fear of making themselves disagreeable, to suffer any popular
excesses to go unpunished, the Cabal immediately sets up some
creature of theirs to raise a clamour against the Ministers, as
having shamefully betrayed the dignity of Government. Then they
compel the Ministry to become active in conferring rewards and
honours on the persons who have been the instruments of their
disgrace; and, after having first vilified them with the higher
orders for suffering the laws to sleep over the licentiousness of
the populace, they drive them (in order to make amends for their
former inactivity) to some act of atrocious violence, which renders
them completely abhorred by the people. They who remember the riots
which attended the Middlesex Election; the opening of the present
Parliament; and the transactions relative to Saint George's Fields,
will not be at a loss for an application of these remarks.

That this body may be enabled to compass all the ends of its
institution, its members are scarcely ever to aim at the high and
responsible offices of the State. They are distributed with art and
judgment through all the secondary, but efficient, departments of
office, and through the households of all the branches of the Royal
Family: so as on one hand to occupy all the avenues to the Throne;
and on the other to forward or frustrate the execution of any
measure, according to their own interests. For with the credit and
support which they are known to have, though for the greater part in
places which are only a genteel excuse for salary, they possess all
the influence of the highest posts; and they dictate publicly in
almost everything, even with a parade of superiority. Whenever they
dissent (as it often happens) from their nominal leaders, the
trained part of the Senate, instinctively in the secret, is sure to
follow them; provided the leaders, sensible of their situation, do
not of themselves recede in time from their most declared opinions.
This latter is generally the case. It will not be conceivable to
any one who has not seen it, what pleasure is taken by the Cabal in
rendering these heads of office thoroughly contemptible and
ridiculous. And when they are become so, they have then the best
chance, for being well supported.

The members of the Court faction are fully indemnified for not
holding places on the slippery heights of the kingdom, not only by
the lead in all affairs, but also by the perfect security in which
they enjoy less conspicuous, but very advantageous, situations.
Their places are, in express legal tenure, or in effect, all of them
for life. Whilst the first and most respectable persons in the
kingdom are tossed about like tennis balls, the sport of a blind and
insolent caprice, no Minister dares even to cast an oblique glance
at the lowest of their body. If an attempt be made upon one of this
corps, immediately he flies to sanctuary, and pretends to the most
inviolable of all promises. No conveniency of public arrangement is
available to remove any one of them from the specific situation he
holds; and the slightest attempt upon one of them, by the most
powerful Minister, is a certain preliminary to his own destruction.

Conscious of their independence, they bear themselves with a lofty
air to the exterior Ministers. Like Janissaries, they derive a kind
of freedom from the very condition of their servitude. They may act
just as they please; provided they are true to the great ruling
principle of their institution. It is, therefore, not at all
wonderful, that people should be so desirous of adding themselves to
that body, in which they may possess and reconcile satisfactions the
most alluring, and seemingly the most contradictory; enjoying at
once all the spirited pleasure of independence, and all the gross
lucre and fat emoluments of servitude.

Here is a sketch, though a slight one, of the constitution, laws,
and policy, of this new Court corporation. The name by which they
choose to distinguish themselves, is that of KING'S MEN, or the
KING'S FRIENDS, by an invidious exclusion of the rest of his
Majesty's most loyal and affectionate subjects. The whole system,
comprehending the exterior and interior Administrations, is commonly
called, in the technical language of the Court, DOUBLE CABINET; in
French or English, as you choose to pronounce it.

Whether all this be a vision of a distracted brain, or the invention
of a malicious heart, or a real faction in the country, must be
judged by the appearances which things have worn for eight years
past. Thus far I am certain, that there is not a single public man,
in or out of office, who has not, at some time or other, borne
testimony to the truth of what I have now related. In particular,
no persons have been more strong in their assertions, and louder and
more indecent in their complaints, than those who compose all the
exterior part of the present Administration; in whose time that
faction has arrived at such a height of power, and of boldness in
the use of it, as may, in the end, perhaps bring about its total

It is true, that about four years ago, during the administration of
the Marquis of Rockingham, an attempt was made to carry on
Government without their concurrence. However, this was only a
transient cloud; they were hid but for a moment; and their
constellation blazed out with greater brightness, and a far more
vigorous influence, some time after it was blown over. An attempt
was at that time made (but without any idea of proscription) to
break their corps, to discountenance their doctrines, to revive
connections of a different kind, to restore the principles and
policy of the Whigs, to reanimate the cause of Liberty by
Ministerial countenance; and then for the first time were men seen
attached in office to every principle they had maintained in
opposition. No one will doubt, that such men were abhorred and
violently opposed by the Court faction, and that such a system could
have but a short duration.

It may appear somewhat affected, that in so much discourse upon this
extraordinary party, I should say so little of the Earl of Bute, who
is the supposed head of it. But this was neither owing to
affectation nor inadvertence. I have carefully avoided the
introduction of personal reflections of any kind. Much the greater
part of the topics which have been used to blacken this nobleman are
either unjust or frivolous. At best, they have a tendency to give
the resentment of this bitter calamity a wrong direction, and to
turn a public grievance into a mean personal, or a dangerous
national, quarrel. Where there is a regular scheme of operations
carried on, it is the system, and not any individual person who acts
in it, that is truly dangerous. This system has not risen solely
from the ambition of Lord Bute, but from the circumstances which
favoured it, and from an indifference to the constitution which had
been for some time growing among our gentry. We should have been
tried with it, if the Earl of Bute had never existed; and it will
want neither a contriving head nor active members, when the Earl of
Bute exists no longer. It is not, therefore, to rail at Lord Bute,
but firmly to embody against this Court party and its practices,
which can afford us any prospect of relief in our present condition.

Another motive induces me to put the personal consideration of Lord
Bute wholly out of the question. He communicates very little in a
direct manner with the greater part of our men of business. This
has never been his custom. It is enough for him that he surrounds
them with his creatures. Several imagine, therefore, that they have
a very good excuse for doing all the work of this faction, when they
have no personal connection with Lord Bute. But whoever becomes a
party to an Administration, composed of insulated individuals,
without faith plighted, tie, or common principle; an Administration
constitutionally impotent, because supported by no party in the
nation; he who contributes to destroy the connections of men and
their trust in one another, or in any sort to throw the dependence
of public counsels upon private will and favour, possibly may have
nothing to do with the Earl of Bute. It matters little whether he
be the friend or the enemy of that particular person. But let him
be who or what he will, he abets a faction that is driving hard to
the ruin of his country. He is sapping the foundation of its
liberty, disturbing the sources of its domestic tranquillity,
weakening its government over its dependencies, degrading it from
all its importance in the system of Europe.

It is this unnatural infusion of a SYSTEM OF FAVOURITISM into a
Government which in a great part of its constitution is popular,
that has raised the present ferment in the nation. The people,
without entering deeply into its principles, could plainly perceive
its effects, in much violence, in a great spirit of innovation, and
a general disorder in all the functions of Government. I keep my
eye solely on this system; if I speak of those measures which have
arisen from it, it will be so far only as they illustrate the
general scheme. This is the fountain of all those bitter waters of
which, through a hundred different conducts, we have drunk until we
are ready to burst. The discretionary power of the Crown in the
formation of Ministry, abused by bad or weak men, has given rise to
a system, which, without directly violating the letter of any law,
operates against the spirit of the whole constitution.

A plan of Favouritism for our executory Government is essentially at
variance with the plan of our Legislature. One great end
undoubtedly of a mixed Government like ours, composed of Monarchy,
and of controls, on the part of the higher people and the lower, is
that the Prince shall not be able to violate the laws. This is
useful indeed and fundamental. But this, even at first view, is no
more than a negative advantage; an armour merely defensive. It is
therefore next in order, and equal in importance, THAT THE
equal in importance to the securing a Government according to law.
The laws reach but a very little way. Constitute Government how you
please, infinitely the greater part of it must depend upon the
exercise of the powers which are left at large to the prudence and
uprightness of Ministers of State. Even all the use and potency of
the laws depends upon them. Without them, your Commonwealth is no
better than a scheme upon paper; and not a living, active, effective
constitution. It is possible, that through negligence, or
ignorance, or design artfully conducted, Ministers may suffer one
part of Government to languish, another to be perverted from its
purposes: and every valuable interest of the country to fall into
ruin and decay, without possibility of fixing any single act on
which a criminal prosecution can be justly grounded. The due
arrangement of men in the active part of the state, far from being
foreign to the purposes of a wise Government, ought to be among its
very first and dearest objects. When, therefore, the abettors of
new system tell us, that between them and their opposers there is
nothing but a struggle for power, and that therefore we are no-ways
concerned in it; we must tell those who have the impudence to insult
us in this manner, that, of all things, we ought to be the most
concerned, who and what sort of men they are, that hold the trust of
everything that is dear to us. Nothing can render this a point of
indifference to the nation, but what must either render us totally
desperate, or soothe us into the security of idiots. We must soften
into a credulity below the milkiness of infancy, to think all men
virtuous. We must be tainted with a malignity truly diabolical, to
believe all the world to be equally wicked and corrupt. Men are in
public life as in private--some good, some evil. The elevation of
the one, and the depression of the other, are the first objects of
all true policy. But that form of Government, which, neither in its
direct institutions, nor in their immediate tendency, has contrived
to throw its affairs into the most trustworthy hands, but has left
its whole executory system to be disposed of agreeably to the
uncontrolled pleasure of any one man, however excellent or virtuous,
is a plan of polity defective not only in that member, but
consequentially erroneous in every part of it.

In arbitrary Governments, the constitution of the Ministry follows
the constitution of the Legislature. Both the Law and the
Magistrate are the creatures of Will. It must be so. Nothing,
indeed, will appear more certain, on any tolerable consideration of
otherwise, things must fall into a hideous disorder. The people of
a free Commonwealth, who have taken such care that their laws should
be the result of general consent, cannot be so senseless as to
suffer their executory system to be composed of persons on whom they
have no dependence, and whom no proofs of the public love and
confidence have recommended to those powers, upon the use of which
the very being of the State depends.

The popular election of magistrates, and popular disposition of
rewards and honours, is one of the first advantages of a free State.
Without it, or something equivalent to it, perhaps the people cannot
long enjoy the substance of freedom; certainly none of the vivifying
energy of good Government. The frame of our Commonwealth did not
admit of such an actual election: but it provided as well, and
(while the spirit of the constitution is preserved) better, for all
the effects of it, than by the method of suffrage in any democratic
State whatsoever. It had always, until of late, been held the first
CONFIDENCE. Thus all the good effects of popular election were
supposed to be secured to us, without the mischiefs attending on
perpetual intrigue, and a distinct canvass for every particular
office throughout the body of the people. This was the most noble
and refined part of our constitution. The people, by their
representatives and grandees, were intrusted with a deliberative
power in making laws; the King with the control of his negative.
The King was intrusted with the deliberative choice and the election
to office; the people had the negative in a Parliamentary refusal to
support. Formerly this power of control was what kept Ministers in
awe of Parliaments, and Parliaments in reverence with the people.
If the use of this power of control on the system and persons of
Administration is gone, everything is lost, Parliament and all. We
may assure ourselves, that if Parliament will tamely see evil men
take possession of all the strongholds of their country, and allow
them time and means to fortify themselves, under a pretence of
giving them a fair trial, and upon a hope of discovering, whether
they will not be reformed by power, and whether their measures will
not be better than their morals; such a Parliament will give
countenance to their measures also, whatever that Parliament may
pretend, and whatever those measures may be.

Every good political institution must have a preventive operation as
well as a remedial. It ought to have a natural tendency to exclude
bad men from Government, and not to trust for the safety of the
State to subsequent punishment alone--punishment which has ever been
tardy and uncertain, and which, when power is suffered in bad hands,
may chance to fall rather on the injured than the criminal.

Before men are put forward into the great trusts of the State, they
ought by their conduct to have obtained such a degree of estimation
in their country as may be some sort of pledge and security to the
public that they will not abuse those trusts. It is no mean
security for a proper use of power, that a man has shown by the
general tenor of his actions, that the affection, the good opinion,
the confidence of his fellow-citizens have been among the principal
objects of his life, and that he has owed none of the gradations of
his power or fortune to a settled contempt or occasional forfeiture
of their esteem.

That man who, before he comes into power, has no friends, or who,
coming into power, is obliged to desert his friends, or who, losing
it, has no friends to sympathise with him, he who has no sway among
any part of the landed or commercial interest, but whose whole
importance has begun with his office, and is sure to end with it, is
a person who ought never to be suffered by a controlling Parliament,
to continue in any of those situations which confer the lead and
direction of all our public affairs; because such a man HAS NO

Those knots or cabals of men who have got together, avowedly without
any public principle, in order to sell their conjunct iniquity at
the higher rate, and are therefore universally odious, ought never
to be suffered to domineer in the State; because they have NO

These are considerations which, in my opinion, enforce the necessity
of having some better reason, in a free country and a free
Parliament, for supporting the Ministers of the Crown, than that
is something very courtly in this. But it is a principle pregnant
with all sorts of mischief, in a constitution like ours, to turn the
views of active men from the country to the Court. Whatever be the
road to power, that is the road which will be trod. If the opinion
of the country be of no use as a means of power or consideration,
the qualities which usually procure that opinion will be no longer
cultivated. And whether it will be right, in a State so popular in
its constitution as ours, to leave ambition without popular motives,
and to trust all to the operation of pure virtue in the minds of
Kings and Ministers, and public men, must be submitted to the
judgment and good sense of the people of England.

Cunning men are here apt to break in, and, without directly
controverting the principle, to raise objections from the difficulty
under which the Sovereign labours to distinguish the genuine voice
and sentiments of his people from the clamour of a faction, by which
it is so easily counterfeited. The nation, they say, is generally
divided into parties, with views and passions utterly
irreconcilable. If the King should put his affairs into the hands
of any one of them, he is sure to disgust the rest; if he select
particular men from among them all, it is a hazard that he disgusts
them all. Those who are left out, however divided before, will soon
run into a body of opposition, which, being a collection of many
discontents into one focus, will without doubt be hot and violent
enough. Faction will make its cries resound through the nation, as
if the whole were in an uproar, when by far the majority, and much
the better part, will seem for awhile, as it were, annihilated by
the quiet in which their virtue and moderation incline them to enjoy
the blessings of Government. Besides that, the opinion of the mere
vulgar is a miserable rule even with regard to themselves, on
account of their violence and instability. So that if you were to
gratify them in their humour to-day, that very gratification would
be a ground of their dissatisfaction on the next. Now as all these
rules of public opinion are to be collected with great difficulty,
and to be applied with equal uncertainty as to the effect, what
better can a King of England do than to employ such men as he finds
to have views and inclinations most conformable to his own, who are
least infected with pride and self-will, and who are least moved by
such popular humours as are perpetually traversing his designs, and
disturbing his service; trusting that when he means no ill to his
people he will be supported in his appointments, whether he chooses
to keep or to change, as his private judgment or his pleasure leads
him? He will find a sure resource in the real weight and influence
of the Crown, when it is not suffered to become an instrument in the
hands of a faction.

I will not pretend to say that there is nothing at all in this mode
of reasoning, because I will not assert that there is no difficulty
in the art of government. Undoubtedly the very best Administration
must encounter a great deal of opposition, and the very worst will
find more support than it deserves. Sufficient appearances will
never be wanting to those who have a mind to deceive themselves. It
is a fallacy in constant use with those who would level all things,
and confound right with wrong, to insist upon the inconveniences
which are attached to every choice, without taking into
consideration the different weight and consequence of those
inconveniences. The question is not concerning absolute discontent
or perfect satisfaction in Government, neither of which can be pure
and unmixed at any time or upon any system. The controversy is
about that degree of good-humour in the people, which may possibly
be attained, and ought certainly to be looked for. While some
politicians may be waiting to know whether the sense of every
individual be against them, accurately distinguishing the vulgar
from the better sort, drawing lines between the enterprises of a
faction and the efforts of a people, they may chance to see the
Government, which they are so nicely weighing, and dividing, and
distinguishing, tumble to the ground in the midst of their wise
deliberation. Prudent men, when so great an object as the security
of Government, or even its peace, is at stake, will not run the risk
of a decision which may be fatal to it. They who can read the
political sky will seen a hurricane in a cloud no bigger than a hand
at the very edge of the horizon, and will run into the first
harbour. No lines can be laid down for civil or political wisdom.
They are a matter incapable of exact definition. But, though no man
can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night, yet light
and darkness are upon the whole tolerably distinguishable. Nor will
it be impossible for a Prince to find out such a mode of government,
and such persons to administer it, as will give a great degree of
content to his people, without any curious and anxious research for
that abstract, universal, perfect harmony, which, while he is
seeking, he abandons those means of ordinary tranquillity which are
in his power without any research at all.

It is not more the duty than it is the interest of a Prince to aim
at giving tranquillity to his Government. If those who advise him
may have an interest in disorder and confusion. If the opinion of
the people is against them, they will naturally wish that it should
have no prevalence. Here it is that the people must on their part
show themselves sensible of their own value. Their whole
importance, in the first instance, and afterwards their whole
freedom, is at stake. Their freedom cannot long survive their
importance. Here it is that the natural strength of the kingdom,
the great peers, the leading landed gentlemen, the opulent merchants
and manufacturers, the substantial yeomanry, must interpose, to
rescue their Prince, themselves, and their posterity.

We are at present at issue upon this point. We are in the great
crisis of this contention, and the part which men take, one way or
other, will serve to discriminate their characters and their
principles. Until the matter is decided, the country will remain in
its present confusion. For while a system of Administration is
attempted, entirely repugnant to the genius of the people, and not
conformable to the plan of their Government, everything must
necessarily be disordered for a time, until this system destroys the
constitution, or the constitution gets the better of this system.

There is, in my opinion, a peculiar venom and malignity in this
political distemper beyond any that I have heard or read of. In
former lines the projectors of arbitrary Government attacked only
the liberties of their country, a design surely mischievous enough
to have satisfied a mind of the most unruly ambition. But a system
unfavourable to freedom may be so formed as considerably to exalt
the grandeur of the State, and men may find in the pride and
splendour of that prosperity some sort of consolation for the loss
of their solid privileges. Indeed, the increase of the power of the
State has often been urged by artful men, as a pretext for some
abridgment of the public liberty. But the scheme of the junto under
consideration not only strikes a palsy into every nerve of our free
constitution, but in the same degree benumbs and stupefies the whole
executive power, rendering Government in all its grand operations
languid, uncertain, ineffective, making Ministers fearful of
attempting, and incapable of executing, any useful plan of domestic
arrangement, or of foreign politics. It tends to produce neither
the security of a free Government, nor the energy of a Monarchy that
is absolute. Accordingly, the Crown has dwindled away in proportion
to the unnatural and turgid growth of this excrescence on the Court.

The interior Ministry are sensible that war is a situation which
sets in its full light the value of the hearts of a people, and they
well know that the beginning of the importance of the people must be
the end of theirs. For this reason they discover upon all occasions
the utmost fear of everything which by possibility may lead to such
an event. I do not mean that they manifest any of that pious fear
which is backward to commit the safety of the country to the dubious
experiment of war. Such a fear, being the tender sensation of
virtue, excited, as it is regulated, by reason, frequently shows
itself in a seasonable boldness, which keeps danger at a distance,
by seeming to despise it. Their fear betrays to the first glance of
the eye its true cause and its real object. Foreign powers,
confident in the knowledge of their character, have not scrupled to
violate the most solemn treaties; and, in defiance of them, to make
conquests in the midst of a general peace, and in the heart of
Europe. Such was the conquest of Corsica, by the professed enemies
of the freedom of mankind, in defiance of those who were formerly
its professed defenders. We have had just claims upon the same
powers--rights which ought to have been sacred to them as well as to
us, as they had their origin in our lenity and generosity towards
France and Spain in the day of their great humiliation. Such I call
the ransom of Manilla, and the demand on France for the East India
prisoners. But these powers put a just confidence in their resource
of the double Cabinet. These demands (one of them, at least) are
hastening fast towards an acquittal by prescription. Oblivion
begins to spread her cobwebs over all our spirited remonstrances.
Some of the most valuable branches of our trade are also on the
point of perishing from the same cause. I do not mean those
branches which bear without the hand of the vine-dresser; I mean
those which the policy of treaties had formerly secured to us; I
mean to mark and distinguish the trade of Portugal, the loss of
which, and the power of the Cabal, have one and the same era.

If, by any chance, the Ministers who stand before the curtain
possess or affect any spirit, it makes little or no impression.
Foreign Courts and Ministers, who were among the first to discover
and to profit by this invention of the DOUBLE CABINET, attended very
little to their remonstrances. They know that those shadows of
Ministers have nothing to do in the ultimate disposal of things.
Jealousies and animosities are sedulously nourished in the outward
Administration, and have been even considered as a causa sine qua
non in its constitution: thence foreign Courts have a certainty,
that nothing can be done by common counsel in this nation. If one
of those Ministers officially takes up a business with spirit, it
serves only the better to signalise the meanness of the rest, and
the discord of them all. His colleagues in office are in haste to
shake him off, and to disclaim the whole of his proceedings. Of
this nature was that astonishing transaction, in which Lord
Rochford, our Ambassador at Paris, remonstrated against the attempt
upon Corsica, in consequence of a direct authority from Lord
Shelburne. This remonstrance the French Minister treated with the
contempt that was natural; as he was assured, from the Ambassador of
his Court to ours, that these orders of Lord Shelburne were not
supported by the rest of the (I had like to have said British)
Administration. Lord Rochford, a man of spirit, could not endure
this situation. The consequences were, however, curious. He
returns from Paris, and comes home full of anger. Lord Shelburne,
who gave the orders, is obliged to give up the seals. Lord
Rochford, who obeyed these orders, receives them. He goes, however,
into another department of the same office, that he might not be
obliged officially to acquiesce in one situation, under what he had
officially remonstrated against in another. At Paris, the Duke of
Choiseul considered this office arrangement as a compliment to him:
here it was spoke of as an attention to the delicacy of Lord
Rochford. But whether the compliment was to one or both, to this
nation it was the same. By this transaction the condition of our
Court lay exposed in all its nakedness. Our office correspondence
has lost all pretence to authenticity; British policy is brought
into derision in those nations, that a while ago trembled at the
power of our arms, whilst they looked up with confidence to the
equity, firmness, and candour, which shone in all our negotiations.
I represent this matter exactly in the light in which it has been
universally received.

Such has been the aspect of our foreign politics under the influence
of a DOUBLE CABINET. With such an arrangement at Court, it is
impossible it should have been otherwise. Nor is it possible that
this scheme should have a better effect upon the government of our
dependencies, the first, the dearest, and most delicate objects of
the interior policy of this empire. The Colonies know that
Administration is separated from the Court, divided within itself,
and detested by the nation. The double Cabinet has, in both the
parts of it, shown the most malignant dispositions towards them,
without being able to do them the smallest mischief.

They are convinced, by sufficient experience, that no plan, either
of lenity or rigour, can be pursued with uniformity and
perseverance. Therefore they turn their eyes entirely from Great
Britain, where they have neither dependence on friendship nor
apprehension from enmity. They look to themselves, and their own
arrangements. They grow every day into alienation from this
country; and whilst they are becoming disconnected with our
Government, we have not the consolation to find that they are even
friendly in their new independence. Nothing can equal the futility,
the weakness, the rashness, the timidity, the perpetual
contradiction, in the management of our affairs in that part of the
world. A volume might be written on this melancholy subject; but it
were better to leave it entirely to the reflections of the reader
himself, than not to treat it in the extent it deserves.

In what manner our domestic economy is affected by this system, it
is needless to explain. It is the perpetual subject of their own

The Court party resolve the whole into faction. Having said
something before upon this subject, I shall only observe here, that,
when they give this account of the prevalence of faction, they
present no very favourable aspect of the confidence of the people in
their own Government. They may be assured, that however they amuse
themselves with a variety of projects for substituting something
else in the place of that great and only foundation of Government,
the confidence of the people, every attempt will but make their
condition worse. When men imagine that their food is only a cover
for poison, and when they neither love nor trust the hand that
serves it, it is not the name of the roast beef of Old England that
will persuade them to sit down to the table that is spread for them.
When the people conceive that laws, and tribunals, and even popular
assemblies, are perverted from the ends of their institution, they
find in those names of degenerated establishments only new motives
to discontent. Those bodies, which, when full of life and beauty,
lay in their arms and were their joy and comfort; when dead and
putrid, become but the more loathsome from remembrance of former
endearments. A sullen gloom, and furious disorder, prevail by fits:
the nation loses its relish for peace and prosperity, as it did in
that season of fulness which opened our troubles in the time of
Charles the First. A species of men to whom a state of order would
become a sentence of obscurity, are nourished into a dangerous
magnitude by the heat of intestine disturbances; and it is no wonder
that, by a sort of sinister piety, they cherish, in their turn, the
disorders which are the parents of all their consequence.
Superficial observers consider such persons as the cause of the
public uneasiness, when, in truth, they are nothing more than the
effect of it. Good men look upon this distracted scene with sorrow
and indignation. Their hands are tied behind them. They are
despoiled of all the power which might enable them to reconcile the
strength of Government with the rights of the people. They stand in
a most distressing alternative. But in the election among evils
they hope better things from temporary confusion, than from
established servitude. In the mean time, the voice of law is not to
be heard. Fierce licentiousness begets violent restraints. The
military arm is the sole reliance; and then, call your constitution
what you please, it is the sword that governs. The civil power,
like every other that calls in the aid of an ally stronger than
itself, perishes by the assistance it receives. But the contrivers
of this scheme of Government will not trust solely to the military
power, because they are cunning men. Their restless and crooked
spirit drives them to rake in the dirt of every kind of expedient.
Unable to rule the multitude, they endeavour to raise divisions
amongst them. One mob is hired to destroy another; a procedure
which at once encourages the boldness of the populace, and justly
increases their discontent. Men become pensioners of state on
account of their abilities in the array of riot, and the discipline
of confusion. Government is put under the disgraceful necessity of
protecting from the severity of the laws that very licentiousness,
which the laws had been before violated to repress. Everything
partakes of the original disorder. Anarchy predominates without
freedom, and servitude without submission or subordination. These
are the consequences inevitable to our public peace, from the scheme
of rendering the executory Government at once odious and feeble; of
freeing Administration from the constitutional and salutary control
of Parliament, and inventing for it a new control, unknown to the
constitution, an INTERIOR Cabinet; which brings the whole body of
Government into confusion and contempt.

After having stated, as shortly as I am able, the effects of this
system on our foreign affairs, on the policy of our Government with
regard to our dependencies, and on the interior economy of the
Commonwealth; there remains only, in this part of my design, to say
something of the grand principle which first recommended this system
at Court. The pretence was to prevent the King from being enslaved
by a faction, and made a prisoner in his closet. This scheme might
have been expected to answer at least its own end, and to indemnify
the King, in his personal capacity, for all the confusion into which
it has thrown his Government. But has it in reality answered this
purpose? I am sure, if it had, every affectionate subject would
have one motive for enduring with patience all the evils which
attend it.

In order to come at the truth in this matter, it may not be amiss to
consider it somewhat in detail. I speak here of the King, and not
of the Crown; the interests of which we have already touched.
Independent of that greatness which a King possesses merely by being
a representative of the national dignity, the things in which he may
have an individual interest seem to be these: wealth accumulated;
wealth spent in magnificence, pleasure, or beneficence; personal
respect and attention; and above all, private ease and repose of
mind. These compose the inventory of prosperous circumstances,
whether they regard a Prince or a subject; their enjoyments
differing only in the scale upon which they are formed.

Suppose then we were to ask, whether the King has been richer than
his predecessors in accumulated wealth, since the establishment of
the plan of Favouritism? I believe it will be found that the
picture of royal indigence which our Court has presented until this
year, has been truly humiliating. Nor has it been relieved from
this unseemly distress, but by means which have hazarded the
affection of the people, and shaken their confidence in Parliament.
If the public treasures had been exhausted in magnificence and
splendour, this distress would have been accounted for, and in some
measure justified. Nothing would be more unworthy of this nation,
than with a mean and mechanical rule, to mete out the splendour of
the Crown. Indeed, I have found very few persons disposed to so
ungenerous a procedure. But the generality of people, it must be
confessed, do feel a good deal mortified, when they compare the
wants of the Court with its expenses. They do not behold the cause
of this distress in any part of the apparatus of Royal magnificence.
In all this, they see nothing but the operations of parsimony,
attended with all the consequences of profusion. Nothing expended,
nothing saved. Their wonder is increased by their knowledge, that
besides the revenue settled on his Majesty's Civil List to the
amount of 800,000 pounds a year, he has a farther aid, from a large
pension list, near 90,000 pounds a year, in Ireland; from the
produce of the Duchy of Lancaster (which we are told has been
greatly improved); from the revenue of the Duchy of Cornwall; from
the American quit-rents; from the four and a half per cent. duty in
the Leeward Islands; this last worth to be sure considerably more
than 40,000 pounds a year. The whole is certainly not much short of
a million annually.

These are revenues within the knowledge and cognizance of our
national Councils. We have no direct right to examine into the
receipts from his Majesty's German Dominions, and the Bishopric of
Osnaburg. This is unquestionably true. But that which is not
within the province of Parliament, is yet within the sphere of every
man's own reflection. If a foreign Prince resided amongst us, the
state of his revenues could not fail of becoming the subject of our
speculation. Filled with an anxious concern for whatever regards
the welfare of our Sovereign, it is impossible, in considering the
miserable circumstances into which he has been brought, that this
obvious topic should be entirely passed over. There is an opinion
universal, that these revenues produce something not inconsiderable,
clear of all charges and establishments. This produce the people do
not believe to be hoarded, nor perceive to be spent. It is
accounted for in the only manner it can, by supposing that it is
drawn away, for the support of that Court faction, which, whilst it
distresses the nation, impoverishes the Prince in every one of his
resources. I once more caution the reader, that I do not urge this
consideration concerning the foreign revenue, as if I supposed we
had a direct right to examine into the expenditure of any part of
it; but solely for the purpose of showing how little this system of
Favouritism has been advantageous to the Monarch himself; which,
without magnificence, has sunk him into a state of unnatural
poverty; at the same time that he possessed every means of
affluence, from ample revenues, both in this country and in other
parts of his dominions.

Has this system provided better for the treatment becoming his high
and sacred character, and secured the King from those disgusts
attached to the necessity of employing men who are not personally
agreeable? This is a topic upon which for many reasons I could wish
to be silent; but the pretence of securing against such causes of
uneasiness, is the corner-stone of the Court party. It has however
so happened, that if I were to fix upon any one point, in which this
system has been more particularly and shamefully blameable, the
effects which it has produced would justify me in choosing for that
point its tendency to degrade the personal dignity of the Sovereign,
and to expose him to a thousand contradictions and mortifications.
It is but too evident in what manner these projectors of Royal
greatness have fulfilled all their magnificent promises. Without
recapitulating all the circumstances of the reign, every one of
which is more or less a melancholy proof of the truth of what I have
advanced, let us consider the language of the Court but a few years
ago, concerning most of the persons now in the external
Administration: let me ask, whether any enemy to the personal
feelings of the Sovereign, could possibly contrive a keener
instrument of mortification, and degradation of all dignity, than
almost every part and member of the present arrangement? Nor, in
the whole course of our history, has any compliance with the will of
the people ever been known to extort from any Prince a greater
contradiction to all his own declared affections and dislikes, than
that which is now adopted, in direct opposition to every thing the
people approve and desire.

An opinion prevails, that greatness has been more than once advised
to submit to certain condescensions towards individuals, which have
been denied to the entreaties of a nation. For the meanest and most
dependent instrument of this system knows, that there are hours when
its existence may depend upon his adherence to it; and he takes his
advantage accordingly. Indeed it is a law of nature, that whoever
is necessary to what we have made our object, is sure, in some way,
or in some time or other, to become our master. All this however is
submitted to, in order to avoid that monstrous evil of governing in
concurrence with the opinion of the people. For it seems to be laid
down as a maxim, that a King has some sort of interest in giving
uneasiness to his subjects: that all who are pleasing to them, are
to be of course disagreeable to him: that as soon as the persons
who are odious at Court are known to be odious to the people, it is
snatched at as a lucky occasion of showering down upon them all
kinds of emoluments and honours. None are considered as well-
wishers to the Crown, but those who advised to some unpopular course
of action; none capable of serving it, but those who are obliged to
call at every instant upon all its power for the safety of their
lives. None are supposed to be fit priests in the temple of
Government, but the persons who are compelled to fly into it for
sanctuary. Such is the effect of this refined project; such is ever
the result of all the contrivances which are used to free men from
the servitude of their reason, and from the necessity of ordering
their affairs according to their evident interests. These
contrivances oblige them to run into a real and ruinous servitude,
in order to avoid a supposed restraint that might be attended with

If therefore this system has so ill answered its own grand pretence
of saving the King from the necessity of employing persons
disagreeable to him, has it given more peace and tranquillity to his
Majesty's private hours? No, most certainly. The father of his
people cannot possibly enjoy repose, while his family is in such a
state of distraction. Then what has the Crown or the King profited
by all this fine-wrought scheme? Is he more rich, or more splendid,
or more powerful, or more at his ease, by so many labours and
contrivances? Have they not beggared his Exchequer, tarnished the
splendour of his Court, sunk his dignity, galled his feelings,
discomposed the whole order and happiness of his private life?

It will be very hard, I believe, to state in what respect the King
has profited by that faction which presumptuously choose to call
themselves HIS FRIENDS.

If particular men had grown into an attachment, by the distinguished
honour of the society of their Sovereign, and, by being the
partakers of his amusements, came sometimes to prefer the
gratification of his personal inclinations to the support of his
high character, the thing would be very natural, and it would be
excusable enough. But the pleasant part of the story is, that these
KING'S FRIENDS have no more ground for usurping such a title, than a
resident freeholder in Cumberland or in Cornwall. They are only
known to their Sovereign by kissing his hand, for the offices,
pensions, and grants into which they have deceived his benignity.
May no storm ever come, which will put the firmness of their
attachment to the proof; and which, in the midst of confusions and
terrors, and sufferings, may demonstrate the eternal difference
between a true and severe friend to the Monarchy, and a slippery
sycophant of the Court; Quantum infido scurrae distabit amicus!

So far I have considered the effect of the Court system, chiefly as
it operates upon the executive Government, on the temper of the
people and on the happiness of the Sovereign. It remains that we
should consider, with a little attention, its operation upon

Parliament was indeed the great object of all these politics, the
end at which they aimed, as well as the instrument by which they
were to operate. But, before Parliament could be made subservient
to a system, by which it was to be degraded from the dignity of a
national council, into a mere member of the Court, it must be
greatly changed from its original character.

In speaking of this body, I have my eye chiefly on the House of
Commons. I hope I shall be indulged in a few observations on the
nature and character of that assembly; not with regard to its LEGAL
FORM AND POWER, but to its SPIRIT, and to the purposes it is meant
to answer in the constitution.

The House of Commons was supposed originally to be NO PART OF THE
control, issuing immediately from the people, and speedily to be
resolved into the mass from whence it arose. In this respect it was
in the higher part of Government what juries are in the lower. The
capacity of a magistrate being transitory, and that of a citizen
permanent, the latter capacity it was hoped would of course
preponderate in all discussions, not only between the people and the
standing authority of the Crown, but between the people and the
fleeting authority of the House of Commons itself. It was hoped
that, being of a middle nature between subject and Government, they
would feel with a more tender and a nearer interest everything that
concerned the people, than the other remoter and more permanent
parts of Legislature.

Whatever alterations time and the necessary accommodation of
business may have introduced, this character can never be sustained,
unless the House of Commons shall be made to bear some stamp of the
actual disposition of the people at large. It would (among public
misfortunes) be an evil more natural and tolerable, that the House
of Commons should be infected with every epidemical frenzy of the
people, as this would indicate some consanguinity, some sympathy of
nature with their constituents, than that they should in all cases
be wholly untouched by the opinions and feelings of the people out
of doors. By this want of sympathy they would cease to be a House
of Commons. For it is not the derivation of the power of that House
from the people, which makes it in a distinct sense their
representative. The King is the representative of the people; so
are the Lords; so are the Judges. They all are trustees for the
people, as well as the Commons; because no power is given for the
sole sake of the holder; and although Government certainly is an
institution of Divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who
administer it, all originate from the people.

A popular origin cannot therefore be the characteristical
distinction of a popular representative. This belongs equally to
all parts of Government, and in all forms. The virtue, spirit, and
essence of a House of Commons consists in its being the express
image of the feelings of the nation. It was not instituted to be a
control upon the people, as of late it has been taught, by a
doctrine of the most pernicious tendency. It was designed as a
control FOR the people. Other institutions have been formed for the
purpose of checking popular excesses; and they are, I apprehend,
fully adequate to their object. If not, they ought to be made so.
The House of Commons, as it was never intended for the support of
peace and subordination, is miserably appointed for that service;
having no stronger weapon than its Mace, and no better officer than
its Serjeant-at-Arms, which it can command of its own proper
authority. A vigilant and jealous eye over executory and judicial
magistracy; an anxious care of public money, an openness,
approaching towards facility, to public complaint; these seem to be
the true characteristics of a House of Commons. But an addressing
House of Commons, and a petitioning nation; a House of Commons full
of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair; in the utmost
harmony with Ministers, whom the people regard with the utmost
abhorrence; who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them
for impeachments; who are eager to grant, when the general voice
demands account; who, in all disputes between the people and
Administration, presume against the people; who punish their
disorder, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them;
this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this
constitution. Such an Assembly may be a great, wise, awful senate;
but it is not, to any popular purpose, a House of Commons. This
change from an immediate state of procuration and delegation to a
course of acting as from original power, is the way in which all the
popular magistracies in the world have been perverted from their
purposes. It is indeed their greatest and sometimes their incurable
corruption. For there is a material distinction between that
corruption by which particular points are carried against reason
(this is a thing which cannot be prevented by human wisdom, and is
of less consequence), and the corruption of the principle itself.
For then the evil is not accidental, but settled. The distemper
becomes the natural habit.

For my part, I shall be compelled to conclude the principle of
Parliament to be totally corrupted, and therefore its ends entirely
defeated, when I see two symptoms: first, a rule of indiscriminate
support to all Ministers; because this destroys the very end of
Parliament as a control, and is a general previous sanction to
misgovernment; and secondly, the setting up any claims adverse to
the right of free election; for this tends to subvert the legal
authority by which the House of Commons sits.

I know that, since the Revolution, along with many dangerous, many
useful powers of Government have been weakened. It is absolutely
necessary to have frequent recourse to the Legislature. Parliaments
must therefore sit every year, and for great part of the year. The
dreadful disorders of frequent elections have also necessitated a
septennial instead of a triennial duration. These circumstances, I
mean the constant habit of authority, and the infrequency of
elections, have tended very much to draw the House of Commons
towards the character of a standing Senate. It is a disorder which
has arisen from the cure of greater disorders; it has arisen from
the extreme difficulty of reconciling liberty under a monarchical
Government, with external strength and with internal tranquillity.

It is very clear that we cannot free ourselves entirely from this
great inconvenience; but I would not increase an evil, because I was
not able to remove it; and because it was not in my power to keep
the House of Commons religiously true to its first principles, I
would not argue for carrying it to a total oblivion of them. This
has been the great scheme of power in our time. They who will not
conform their conduct to the public good, and cannot support it by
the prerogative of the Crown, have adopted a new plan. They have
totally abandoned the shattered and old-fashioned fortress of
prerogative, and made a lodgment in the stronghold of Parliament
itself. If they have any evil design to which there is no ordinary
legal power commensurate, they bring it into Parliament. In
Parliament the whole is executed from the beginning to the end. In
Parliament the power of obtaining their object is absolute, and the
safety in the proceeding perfect: no rules to confine, no after
reckonings to terrify. Parliament cannot with any great propriety
punish others for things in which they themselves have been
accomplices. Thus the control of Parliament upon the executory
power is lost; because Parliament is made to partake in every
considerable act of Government. IMPEACHMENT, THAT GREAT GUARDIAN OF

By this plan several important ends are answered to the Cabal. If
the authority of Parliament supports itself, the credit of every act
of Government, which they contrive, is saved; but if the act be so
very odious that the whole strength of Parliament is insufficient to
recommend it, then Parliament is itself discredited; and this
discredit increases more and more that indifference to the
constitution, which it is the constant aim of its enemies, by their
abuse of Parliamentary powers, to render general among the people.
Whenever Parliament is persuaded to assume the offices of executive
Government, it will lose all the confidence, love, and veneration
which it has ever enjoyed, whilst it was supposed the CORRECTIVE and
CONTROL of the acting powers of the State. This would be the event,
though its conduct in such a perversion of its functions should be
tolerably just and moderate; but if it should be iniquitous,
violent, full of passion, and full of faction, it would be
considered as the most intolerable of all the modes of tyranny.

For a considerable time this separation of the representatives from
their constituents went on with a silent progress; and had those,
who conducted the plan for their total separation, been persons of
temper and abilities any way equal to the magnitude of their design,
the success would have been infallible; but by their precipitancy
they have laid it open in all its nakedness; the nation is alarmed
at it; and the event may not be pleasant to the contrivers of the
scheme. In the last session, the corps called the KING'S FRIENDS
made a hardy attempt all at once, TO ALTER THE RIGHT OF ELECTION
ITSELF; to put it into the power of the House of Commons to disable
any person disagreeable to them from sitting in Parliament, without
any other rule than their own pleasure; to make incapacities, either
general for descriptions of men, or particular for individuals; and
to take into their body, persons who avowedly had never been chosen
by the majority of legal electors, nor agreeably to any known rule
of law.

The arguments upon which this claim was founded and combated, are
not my business here. Never has a subject been more amply and more
learnedly handled, nor upon one side, in my opinion, more
satisfactorily; they who are not convinced by what is already
written would not receive conviction THOUGH ONE AROSE FROM THE DEAD.

I too have thought on this subject; but my purpose here, is only to
consider it as a part of the favourite project of Government; to
observe on the motives which led to it; and to trace its political

A violent rage for the punishment of Mr. Wilkes was the pretence of
the whole. This gentleman, by setting himself strongly in
opposition to the Court Cabal, had become at once an object of their
persecution, and of the popular favour. The hatred of the Court
party pursuing, and the countenance of the people protecting him, it
very soon became not at all a question on the man, but a trial of
strength between the two parties. The advantage of the victory in
this particular contest was the present, but not the only, nor by
any means, the principal, object. Its operation upon the character
of the House of Commons was the great point in view. The point to
be gained by the Cabal was this: that a precedent should be
established, tending to show, THAT THE FAVOUR OF THE PEOPLE WAS NOT
AND POPULAR TRUSTS. A strenuous resistance to every appearance of
lawless power; a spirit of independence carried to some degree of
enthusiasm; an inquisitive character to discover, and a bold one to
display, every corruption and every error of Government; these are
the qualities which recommend a man to a seat in the House of
Commons, in open and merely popular elections. An indolent and
submissive disposition; a disposition to think charitably of all the
actions of men in power, and to live in a mutual intercourse of
favours with them; an inclination rather to countenance a strong use
of authority, than to bear any sort of licentiousness on the part of
the people; these are unfavourable qualities in an open election for
Members of Parliament.

The instinct which carries the people towards the choice of the
former, is justified by reason; because a man of such a character,
even in its exorbitancies, does not directly contradict the purposes
of a trust, the end of which is a control on power. The latter
character, even when it is not in its extreme, will execute this
trust but very imperfectly; and, if deviating to the least excess,
will certainly frustrate instead of forwarding the purposes of a
control on Government. But when the House of Commons was to be new
modelled, this principle was not only to be changed, but reversed.
Whist any errors committed in support of power were left to the law,
with every advantage of favourable construction, of mitigation, and
finally of pardon; all excesses on the side of liberty, or in
pursuit of popular favour, or in defence of popular rights and
privileges, were not only to be punished by the rigour of the known
law, but by a DISCRETIONARY proceeding, which brought on THE LOSS OF
THE POPULAR OBJECT ITSELF. Popularity was to be rendered, if not
directly penal, at least highly dangerous. The favour of the people
might lead even to a disqualification of representing them. Their
odium might become, strained through the medium of two or three
constructions, the means of sitting as the trustee of all that was
dear to them. This is punishing the offence in the offending part.
Until this time, the opinion of the people, through the power of an
Assembly, still in some sort popular, led to the greatest honours
and emoluments in the gift of the Crown. Now the principle is
reversed; and the favour of the Court is the only sure way of
obtaining and holding those honours which ought to be in the
disposal of the people.

It signifies very little how this matter may be quibbled away.
Example, the only argument of effect in civil life, demonstrates the
truth of my proposition. Nothing can alter my opinion concerning
the pernicious tendency of this example, until I see some man for
his indiscretion in the support of power, for his violent and
intemperate servility, rendered incapable of sitting in parliament.
For as it now stands, the fault of overstraining popular qualities,
and, irregularly if you please, asserting popular privileges, has
led to disqualification; the opposite fault never has produced the
slightest punishment. Resistance to power has shut the door of the
House of Commons to one man; obsequiousness and servility, to none.

Not that I would encourage popular disorder, or any disorder. But I
would leave such offences to the law, to be punished in measure and
proportion. The laws of this country are for the most part
constituted, and wisely so, for the general ends of Government,
rather than for the preservation of our particular liberties.
Whatever therefore is done in support of liberty, by persons not in
public trust, or not acting merely in that trust, is liable to be
more or less out of the ordinary course of the law; and the law
itself is sufficient to animadvert upon it with great severity.
Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter from crushing us,
except the temperaments it may receive from a trial by jury. But if
the habit prevails of GOING BEYOND THE LAW, and superseding this
judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the
legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into COURTS OF
CRIMINAL EQUITY, (so THE STAR CHAMBER has been called by Lord
Bacon,) all the evils of the STAR Chamber are revived. A large and
liberal construction in ascertaining offences, and a discretionary
power in punishing them, is the idea of criminal equity; which is in
truth a monster in Jurisprudence. It signifies nothing whether a
court for this purpose be a Committee of Council, or a House of
Commons, or a House of Lords; the liberty of the subject will be
equally subverted by it. The true end and purpose of that House of
Parliament which entertains such a jurisdiction will be destroyed by

I will not believe, what no other man living believes, that Mr.
Wilkes was punished for the indecency of his publications, or the
impiety of his ransacked closet. If he had fallen in a common
slaughter of libellers and blasphemers, I could well believe that
nothing more was meant than was pretended. But when I see, that,
for years together, full as impious, and perhaps more dangerous
writings to religion, and virtue, and order, have not been punished,
nor their authors discountenanced; that the most audacious libels on
Royal Majesty have passed without notice; that the most treasonable
invectives against the laws, liberties, and constitution of the
country, have not met with the slightest animadversion; I must
consider this as a shocking and shameless pretence. Never did an
envenomed scurrility against everything sacred and civil, public and

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