Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

But there are some penal measures which defy explanation. Why deprive the pensioner who got his pension with the approbation of government as compensation for office extinguished? Is compensation to be considered as a bribe for a vote? Why deprive the pensioner who got his pension to support hereditary honours? Is the prop of honour to be considered as a bribe ? Why deprive the pensioner who got his pension on the address of one of the Houses of Parliament? Is that to be considered as a bribe ? Are the nobility of this country to be subject to a letter missive, or a message from a clerk or runner, desiring that they will attend in their place, and vote to blemish their blood and save their pension ? Such has been the conduct of your Reformer. This was the man; you remember his entry into the capital, trampling on the hearse of the Duke of Rutland, and seated in a triumphal car, drawn by public credulity; on the one hand fallacious hope, and on the other many-mouthed profession; a figure with two faces, one turned to the treasury, and the other presented to. the people; and with a double tongue, speaking contradictory languages. This minister alights; justice looks up to him with empty hopes, and peculation faints with idle alarms: he finds the city a prey to an unconstitutional police—he continues it; he finds the country overburthened with a shameful pension list-he increases it; he finds the House of Commons swarming with placemen—he multiplies them; he finds the salary of the secretary increased to prevent a pension-he grants a pension; he finds the kingdom drained by absenteeemployments, and by compensations to buy them home-be gives the best reversion in the country to an absentee-his brother! He finds the government, at different times, had disgraced itself by creating sinecures, to gratify corrupt affection-he makes two commissioners of the rolls, and gives one of them to another brother: he finds the second council to the commissioners put down, because useless—he revives it: he finds the boards of accounts and stamps annexed by public compact-he divides them : he finds three resolutions, declaring that seven commissioners are sufficient-he makes nine: he finds the country has suffered by some peculations in the ord

:

nance-he increases the salary of officers, and gives the places to members—members of parliament!

What will you say now, when the viceroy shakes hands with the populace, and enfeoffs himself to the lowest popularity ? He should not proceed on the principles of Punic faith or of Parthian flight. To retain the affections of the public on negative terms is difficult; but to attach them by injuries, to annex the delusion of the public to his person, and the plunder of the country to his family, is a monster in the history of ambition !

What shall we say to the public peculator? for he will triumph, and he will calculate, and he will set up the innocence of little peculations against the crimes of affected, and teazing, and little regulation.

What shall we say to the people? They looked for relief, because they were oppressed; and looked to Lord Buckingham for relief, because they were deceived; it is to relieve them that I wish to direct the attention of this session.

Sir, the prodigality of honours, places, and pensions, by the present ministers of the crown, was held to be so criminal, as to render the ordinary provisions in Great Britain insufficient, and extraordinary and unconstitutional restrictions admissible to disparage the second personage in these dominions; some of those ministers having committed in Ireland, in this particular, excesses far beyond those which falsehood presumed to prophesy; what measure of restraint shall they find ? Show them a justice which they refused to the son of their prince, and resort only to constitutional provisions, such as may abolish these grievances, and guard the country against the danger of a repetition.

11.–PERORATION TO MR ERSKINE'S SPEECH ON THE

AGE OF REASON.

GENTLEMEN,—I have no objection to the most extended and free discussion upon doctrinal points of the Christian religion ; and, though the law of England does not permit it, I do not dread the reasonings of Deists against the existence of Christianity itself, because, as it was said by its Divine author, if it be of God, it will stand. An intellectual book, however erroneous, addressed to the intellectual world upon so profound and complicated a subject, can never work the mischief it is calculated to repress. Such works will only incite the minds of men, enlightened by study, to a closer investigation of a subject well worthy of their deepest and continued contemplation. The powers of the mind are given for human improvement in the progress of human existence. The changes produced by such reciprocations of lights and intelligences are certain in their progression, and make their way imperceptibly by the final and irresistible power of truth. If Christianity be founded in falsehood, let us become Deists in this manner, and I am contented. But this book has no such object and no such capacity ;-it presents no arguments to the wise and enlightened; on the contrary, it treats the faith and opinions of the wisest with the most shocking contempt, and stirs up men, without the advantages of learning or sober thinking, to a total disbelief of every thing hitherto held sacred; and consequently to a rejection of all the laws and ordinances of the state, which stand only upon the assumption of their truth.

Gentlemen, I cannot conclude without expressing the deepest regret at all attacks upon the Christian religion by authors who profess to promote the civil liberties of the world. For under what other auspices than Christianity have the lost and subverted liberties of mankind in former ages been re-asserted ? By what zeal, but the warm zeal of devout Christians, have English liberties been redeemed and consecrated ? Under what other sanctions, even in our own days, have liberty and happiness been spreading to the uttermost corners of the earth ? What work of civilisation, what commonwealth of greatness, has this bald religion of nature ever established? We see, on the contrary, those nations that have no other light than that of nature to direct them, sunk in barbarism, or slaves to arbitrary governments; whilst under the Christian dispensation the great career of the world has been slowly but clearly advancing, lighter at every step, from the encouraging prophecies of the Gospel, and leading, I trust, in the end, to universal and eternal happiness. Each generation of mankind can see

[ocr errors]

a

but a few revolving links of this mighty and mysterious chain ; but by doing our several duties in our allotted stations, we are sure that we are fulfilling the purposes of our existence. You, I trust, will fulfil yours this day.

12.-EXTRACT FROM CHARLES Fox's CHARGE AGAINST

WARREN HASTINGS.

a

The whole government of India rests upon responsibility. This is the grand object to which our attention should be directed. And, let me ask, how is it to be effected ? If, in every instance and at every point of time, you have not the means of enforcing this principle, it is not possible that the government of this country can be preserved in its purity in the East. You have no other hold of the people whom you send out to that part of the world, but by placing them in such a situation, that every thing they do is to be canvassed and inquired into, and inal punished with severity. If you lose sight of this for a moment your power of that country is gone. If a bad act is committed, what can you do? You threaten, and you recall, you appoint committees, and prepare all the apparatus of punishment. This consumes time; and with regard to that part of the world, thirteen months are thirteen years. Before this man can be recalled, something may happen which will be a set-off, and the whole may at once vanish away. The inquiry will be silenced, and affairs go on in the same wretched train in which they hitherto have been conducted.

I would have strict, literal, and absolute obedience to orders, in all those whom I intrusted with the administration of government in that country; that we might know the ground upon which we were treading, and be able to form some judgment of the real state of our affairs in that part of our possessions. This House has already passed certain resolutions, and has pledged itself to see them put in execution; an opportunity is now presented, the matter is now at issue, and, if it is suffered to fall to the ground without a spirited and firm examination, all inquiry may sleep for ever, and every idea of punishment be buried in oblivion.

SPECIMENS OF ANCIENT ELOQUENCE.

1.—THE VALUE OF LITERATURE.

world any

But whence, you ask, the extraordinary interest I take in this man? Because to him I am indebted for that which recreates my spirits after the clamorous contentions of the Forum, and soothes my senses when stunned with the jarring discords of debate. Would it be possible, do you suppose, to meet the daily demand on our intellectual resources, arising from the infinite variety of causes in which we are engaged, unless our minds were enriched with the stores of learning, or could they sustain this long-continued tension of their powers without some indulgence in literary relaxation ? For me, I glory in my devotion to these studies; be theirs the shame, who are so absorbed in profitless speculations, that they have never turned them to any purpose of public utility, or given to the

visible result of their labours. But why should I blush at this avowal, whose time for a series of years has been so completely engrossed by my profession, that neither the seductions of ease, nor the solicitations of pleasure, nor even the demand for necessary repose, have for a moment withdrawn me from the service of my friends. Who then can censure me, or take reasonable umbrage at my conduct, if I dedicate to the revisal of my early studies only that portion of my time which is left to the unquestioned disposal of others—which by some is devoted to their private affairs, to the sports and spectacles of our festivals, to other amusements, or to mere repose of mind or body; that time, which others again expend in manly exercise, or waste in gaming and intemperance? And my claim to such indulgence is the more reasonable, as I thereby enhance the reputation of my professional ability, which, as far as it extends, has never yet been wanting to the exigencies of my friends—a trifling talent this perhaps in the estimation of many; but there are other things, and those avowedly the loftiest, and well do I know the hallowed fount from which

« AnteriorContinuar »