Imágenes de páginas

to themselves not to have resisted. How much warmer will be our resentment if experience should bring the fatal example home to ourselves !

The situation of this country is alarming enough to rouse the attention of every man who pretends to a concern for the public welfare. Appearances justify suspicion; and, when the safety of a nation is at stake, suspicion is a just ground of inquiry. Let us enter into it with candor and decency. Respect is due to the station of ministers: and, if a resolution must at last. be taken, there is none so likely to be supported with firmness as that which has been adopted with moderation.

The ruin or prosperity of a state depends so much upon the administration of its government,., that, 10 be acquainted with the merit of a ministry, we need only observe the condition of the people. If we see them obedient to the laws, prosperous in their industry, united at home, and respected abroad, we may reasonably presume that their affairs are conducted by unen of experience, abilities, and virtue. If, on the contrary, we see an universal spirit of distrust and dissatisfaction, a rapid decay of trade, dissensions in all parts of the empire, and a total loss of respect in the eyes of foreign powers, we may pronounce, without hesitation, that the government of that country is weak, distracted, and corrupt. The multitude, in all countries, are patient to a certain point. Il usage may rouse their indignation, and hurry them into excesses, but the original fault is in government. Perhaps there never was an instance of a change, in the circumstances and temper of a whole nation, so sudden and extraordinary as that which the misconduct of ministers hås, within these few years, produced in Great Britain. When our gracious sovereign *) ascended the throne **), we were a fourishing and a contended people. If the personal virtues of a king could have insured the happiness of his subjects, the scene could not bare altered so entirely as it has done. The idea of uniting all parties, of trying all characters, and distributing the offices of state by rotation, was gracious and benevolent to an extreme, though it has not yet produced the many salutary effects which were intended by it. To say nothing of the wisdom of such a plan, it undoubtedly arose

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

*) George III. **) Den 25 Okt. 1760.

[ocr errors]

it was

from an anbounded goodness of heart, in which folly had no share. It was not a capricious partiality to new faces ; nut a natural turn for low intrigue; 'nor was it the treacherous amusement of double and triple negotiations. No, Sir, it' arose from a continued anxiety, in the purest of all possible hearts, for the general welfare. Unfortunately for us, the event has not been answerable to the design. After a rapid succession of changes *), we are reduced to that stale which hardly any change can mend. Yet there is no extremily of distress which, of itself, ought to reduce a great dation to despair. It is not the disorder, but the physician; it is not a casual concurrence of calamitous circumstances, it is the pernicious hand of government, which alone can make a whole people desperate.

Without much political sagacity, or any extraordinary depth of observation, we need only mark how the principal departments of the state are bestowed, and look no farther for the true cause of every mischief that befalls us.

The **) finances of a nation, sinking under its debts and expençes, are committed to a young nobleman ***) already riiged by play: Introduced to act under the auspices of lord Chatham, and left at the bead of affairs by that nobleman's retreat, he became minister by accident; but, deserting the principles and professions which gave him a moment's popularity, we see him, from every honourable engagement to the public, an apostate by design. As for business, the world yet knows nothing of his talents or resolution; unless' a wayward, wavering inconsistency be a mark of genius, and caprice a demonstration of spirit. It may be said, perhaps, that it is his Grace's province, as gurely it is his passion, rather to dis

*). Seit dem Regierungsantritt des Königs war Grafton's Administration die 5te. **) The duke of Grafton took the office of Secretary of State with an engagement to support the Marquis of Rockinghain's administration. He resigned, however, in a little time under pretence that he could not act without Lord Chatham, nor bear to see Mr, Wilkes abandoned; but that under lord Chatham he would act in any oflice. This was the signal of lord Rockinghain's disinission. 'When lord Chatham eaine in, the Duke got possession of the Treasury. Reader, anark'the consequence? *•*) Aug. Fitzroy Duke of Grafton, Secretary of State vom Julius 1765—1766, First Lord of the Treasury August 1766 1970, Lord Privy Seal Jun. 1771 17:5, wiederum Atörz 1782 --- 1783,

tribute than to saye the public money, and that while Lord

North *) is Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first Lord of " the Treasury **) may be as thoughtless and extravagant as

be pleases. " I hope, however, he will not rely too much on the fertility of Lord North's genius for finance. His Lordship is yet to give us the first proof of his abilities. It may be candid to suppose that he has hitherto voluntarily concealed his talents; intending, perbaps, to astonish the world, when we least expect it, wiib a knowledge of trade, a choice of expedients, and a depth of resources equal to the necessities, and far beyond the hopes of his country. He must Row exert the whole power of his capacity, if he would wish us to forget that, since he has been in office, ao plan has been formed, no system adhered to, nor any one important measure adopted for the relief of public credit. If his plan for the service of the current year be pot irrevocably fixed od, let me warn him to thinks seriously of consequences before he ventures to increase the public debt. Qutraged and oppressed as we are, this nation will not bear, after a six years peace ***), to see new millions borrowed, without an eventual diminution of debt, or reduction of interest. The attempt might rouse a spirit of resentment, which might reach beyond the sacrifice of a minister. As to the debt upon the civil list ****) the people of England expects that it will not be paid without a strict inquiry how it was incurred. If it must be paid by parliament, let me advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer to think of some better expedient than a lottery. To support au expensive war, or in circumstances of absolute necessity, a lottery may, perbaps, be allowable; but, besides that it is at all times the very worst way of raising money upon the people, I think it ill becomes the royal dignity to bave the debts of a king, provided for like the repairs of a country bridge, or a decayed hospital. The management of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*) Frederic Lord North, Chaneellor of the Exchequer Scpt. 1767. First Lord of the Treasury und Chancellor of the Exchequer Jan. 1770 1782, Secretary of State vom April bis Dez. 1783. Earl of Guildford 1790, gest. im Aug. 1792., **) Der Herzog von Grafton. ***) Seit 1763. ****) Çivil list. So heil'st die Summe von 900.000 l, welche der König von England jährlich erhält

, und aus welcher er die Kosten zur Unterhaltung seiner Fa. milie, seiner Plinister etc, und was er an Gnadengchalten bewilligt, bezahlt.

Wegen Schulden, welohe der König ausserdem macht, wendet er sich an das Parliument.


the king's affairs to the House of Commons cannot be more disgraced than it has been *). A leading minister, repeatedly called down for absolute ignorance;

ridiculous motions ridiculously withdrawn; - deliberate plans disconcerted, and a week's preparation of graceful oratory lost in a moment, give us some, though not adequate, idea of Lord North’s parliamentary abilities and influence. Yet before he had the misfortune of being Chancellor of the Exchequer, be was neither an object of derision to his enemies, nor of melancholy pity to his friends,

A series of inconsistent measures bas alienated the colonies **) from their duty as subjects, and from their natural affection to their common country. When Mr. Grenville ***) was placed at the head of the Treasury, he felt the impossibility of Great Britain's supporting such an establishment as her former success had made indispensable, and at the same țime of giving any sensible relief to foreign trade, and to the weight of the public debt. He thought it equitable that those parts of the empire which had benefited most by the expences of the war, should contribute something to the expences of the peace, and he had no doubt of the constitutional right vested in parliament to raise the contribution. But, unfortunately for his country, Mr. Grenville was at any rate to be distressed because he was minister, and Mr. Pitt ****) and Lord Camden +) were to be the patrons of America, because they were in opposition. Their declaration gave spirit and argument to the colonies, and while, perhaps, they meant no more than a ruin of a minister, they in effect divided one half of the empire from the other.

Under une administration the stamp act is made t);

*) This happened frequently to poor Lord North. **) Die Amerikanischen Colonien. ***) George Grenville, First Lord of the Treasury und Chancellor of the Excheques April 1763 1765, gest. Nov, 1770. ****) Yet Junius has been

called the partisan of Lord Chatham. †) Charles Pratt Lord Camden war Lord Chancellor 1766 1770, bekleidete noch verschiedene 'andere Würden, und starb im April 1794.

**) Nämlich unter Grenville's Ministerium wurde den 22sten März 1765 eine Akte gegeben, wodurch Stompelpapier in die Kolonien eingeführt wurde.


[ocr errors]

under the second ") it is repealed; under the third **) in spite of all experience, a new mode of taxing the colonies is invented, and a question revived, which ought to have been buried in oblivion ***). In these circumstances a new office

is established for the business of the plantations, and the Earl i of Hilsborough called forth at a most critical season, to govern

America ****). The choice at least announced to us a man of superior capacity and knowledge. Whether he be so or not, let his dispatches as far as they have appeared, let bis measures, as far as they have operated, determine for him. In the former we have seen strong assertions without proof, declamation without argument, and violent censures without dignity or moderation; but neither correctness in the composition, nor judgment in the design. As for his measures, let it be remembered, that he was called upon to conciliate and unite; and that, when he entered into office, the most refractory of the colonies were still disposed to proceed by the constitutional methods of petition and remonstrance. Since that period they have been driven into exces. ses little short of rebellion. Petitions have been hindered from reaching the throne; and the continuance of one of the principal assemblies rested upon an arbitrary condition +), which considering the temper they were in, it was impossible they should comply with, and which would have availed nothing as to the general question, if it had been complied with. So violent, and I believe I may call it so unconstitutional an exertion of the prerogative, to say nothing of the weak, injudicious terms in which it was conveyed, gives us as humble an opinion of his lordship’s capacity as it does of his temper and moderation. While 'we are at peace with other 'nations, our military force may, perhaps, be spared

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*) Unter Rockingham's Administration wurde dieselbe den 18ten Mai 1766 wieder aufgehoben. **) Unter Grafton's Administration: ' ***);Vermuthlich die Frage, ob das Englische Pars lament die, Souveruinitätsrechte über die Kolonien und auch dus Schatzungsrecht' hube. *****) Lord Hilsborough' erhielt im März 1768 das neuerrichtete Staatssekretariat fiir die Amerikunischen Kolonien, und der allgemeinen DIeinung nach hat die despotische Härte dieses Mannes viel zum Abfall der Amerikanischen Kos lonien beigetragen. (11 ang elsdorf's Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, 5tes Heft, S. 254). Lord Hilsborough starb im Oktober 1793. f) That they should retract one of their resolutions, and erase the entry of it.

« AnteriorContinuar »