Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tranquillity among men, has a strong tendency to facilitate accommodation, and to produce a.generous oblivion of the rancour of their quarrels. With this similitude, peace is more of peace, and war is less of war.

* * * *

In that great war carried on against Louis the XIVth, for near eighteen years, government spared no pains to satisfy the nation, that though they were to be animated by a desire of glory, glory was not their ultimate object : but that every thing dear to them, in religion, in law, in liberty, every thing which as freemen, as Englishmen, and as citizens of the great commonwealth of Christendom, they had at heart, was then at stake. This was to know the true art of gaining the affections and confidence of an highminded people; this was to understand human nature. A danger to avert a danger-a present inconvenience and suffering to prevent a foreseen future, and a worse calamity-these are the motives that belong to an animal, who, in his constitution, is at once adventurous and provident; circumspect and daring; whom his Creator has made, as the poet says, “ of large dis

course, looking before and after.” But never can a vehement and sustained spirit of fortitude be kindled in a people by a war of calculation. It has nothing that can keep the mind erect under the gusts of adversity. Even where men are willing, as sometimes they are, to barter their blood for lucre, to hazard their safety for the gratification of their avarice, the passion, which animates them to that sort of conflict, like all the short-sighted passions, must see its objects distinct and near at hand. The passions of the lower order

[blocks in formation]

are hungry and impatient. Speculative plunder ; contingent spoil ; future, long adjourned, uncertain booty; pillage which must enrich a late posterity, and which possibly may not reach to posterity at all; these, for any length of time, will never support a mercenary war. The people are in the right. The calculation of profit in all such wars is false. On balancing the account of such wars, ten thousand hogsheads of sugar are purchased at ten thousand times their price. The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime.

I speak it emphatically, and with a desire that it should be marked, in a long war; because, without such a war, no experience has yet told us, that a dangerous power has ever been reduced to measure or to reason. I do not throw back my view to the Peloponnesian war of twenty-seven years ; nor to two of the Punic wars, the first of twenty-four, the second of eighteen; nor to the more recent war concluded by the treaty of Westphalia, which continued, I think, for thirty. I go to what is but just fallen behind living memory, and immediately touches our own country. Let the portion of our history from the year 1689 to 1713 be brought before us. We shall find, that in all that period of twenty-four years, there were hardly five that could be called a season of peace; and the interval between the two wars was in reality, nothing more than a very active preparation for renovated hostility. During that period, every one of the propositions of peace came from the enemy.

WEALTH.

İf wealth is the obedient and laborious slave of virtue and of public honour, then wealth is in its place, and has its use : but if this order is changed, and honour is to be sacrificed to the conservation of riches, riches which have neither eyes nor hands, nor any thing truly vital in them, cannot long survive the being of their vivifying powers, their legitimate masters, and their potent protectors. If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free: If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure from our own coffers. Too great a sense of the value of a subordinate interest may be the very source of its danger, as well as the certain ruin of interests of a superior order. Often has a man lost his all because he would not submit to hazard all in defending it. A display of our wealth before robbers is not the way to restrain their boldness, or to lessen their rapacity.

WEST INDIAN CONQUESTS.

It does not require much sagacity to discern, that no power wholly baffled and defeated in Europe, can flatter itself with conquests in the West Indies. In that state of things it can neither keep nor hold. No! It cannot even long make war, if the grand bank and deposit of its force is at all in the West Indies.

DOCTRINES OF THE OLD AND NEW WHIGS.

THESE new whigs hold, that the sovereignty, whether exercised by one or many, did not only originate from

the people (a position not denied, nor worth denying or assenting to) but that, in the people the same sovereignty constantly and unalienably resides ; that the people may lawfully depose kings, not only for misconduct, but without any misconduct at all; that they may set up any new fashion of government for themselves, or continue without any government at their pleasure ; that the people are essentially their own rule, and their will the measure of their conduct; that the tenure of magistracy is not a proper subject of contract; because magistrates have duties, but no rights : and that if a contract de facto is made with them in one age, allowing that it binds at all, it only binds those who are immediately concerned in it, but does not pass to posterity. These doctrines concerning the people (a term which they are far from accurately defining, but by which, from many circumstances, it is plain enough they mean their own 'faction, if they should grow by early arming, by treachery, or violence, into the prevailing force) tend, in my opinion, to the utter subversion, not only of all government, in all modes, and to all stable securities to rational freedom, but to all the rules and principles of morality itself.

I assert, that the ancient whigs held doctrines, totally different from those I have last mentioned. I assert, that the foundations laid down by the commons, on the trial of Dr. Sacheverel, for justifying the revolution of 1688, are the very same laid down in Mr. Burke's reflections, that is to say,-a breach of the original contract, implied and expressed in the constitution of this country, as a scheme of government fundamentally and inviolably fixed in king, lords, and commons.That the fundamental subversion of this antient constitution, by one of its parts, having been attempted, and in effect accomplished, justified the revolution. That it was justified only upon the necessity of the case; as the only means left for the recovery of that antient constitution, formed by the original contract of the British state ; as well as for the future preservation of the same government.

« AnteriorContinuar »