Imágenes de páginas




MINISTERS turning their backs on the reputation which properly belongs to them, aspire at the glory of being speculative writers. The duties of these two situations are, in general, directly opposite to each other. Speculators ought to be neutral. A minister cannot be so. He is to support the interest of the public as connected with that of his master.He is his master's trustee, advocate, attorney, and steward—and he is not to indulge in any speculation which contradicts that character or even detracts from its efficacy. Necker had an extreme thirst for this sort of glory; so had others; and this pursuit of a misplaced and misunderstood reputation, was one of the causes of the ruin of these ministers, and of their unhappy master.

* * * *

It is undoubtedly the business of ministers very much to consult the inclinations of the people, but they ought to take great care that they do not receive

[blocks in formation]

that inclination from the few persons who may happen to approach them. The petty interests of such gentlemen, their low conceptions of things, their fears arising from the danger to which the very arduous and critical situation of public affairs may expose their places; their apprehensions from the hazards to which the discontents of a few popular men at elections may expose their seats in parliament; all these causes trouble and confuse the representations which they make to ministers of the real temper of the nation. If ministers, instead of following the great indications of the constitution, proceed on such reports, they will take the whispers of a cabal for the voice of the people, and the counsels of imprudent timidity for the wisdom of a nation.

* * * *

It is no excuse at all for a minister, who at our desire, takes a measure contrary to our safety, that it is our own act. He who does not stay the hand of suicide, is guilty of murder. On our part I say, that to be instructed, is not to be degraded or enslaved. Information is an advantage to us; and we have a right to demand it. He that is bound to act in the dark cannot be said to act freely. When it appears evident to our governors that our desires and our interests are at variance, they ought not to gratify the former at the expence of the latter. Statesmen are placed on an eminence, that they may have a larger horizon than we can possibly command. They have a whole before them, which we can contemplate only in the parts, and often without the necessary relations. Ministers are not only our natural rulers but our natural guides. Reason clearly and manfully delivered,

« AnteriorContinuar »