Obrazy na stronie
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--that unwieldy power which cannot move a step without alarm,-it dimi. nished the only interference of the Crown, which is singly and independently exposed before the people, and whose abuses therefore are obvious to their senses and capacities; like the myrtle over a celebrated statue in Minerva's temple at Athens, it skilfully veiled from the public eye the only obtrusive feature of royalty. At the same time, however, that the Revolution abridged this unpopular attribute, it amply compensated by the substitution of a new power, as much more potent in its effect as it is more secret in its operations. In the disposal of an immense revenue and the extensive patronage annexed to it, the first foundations of this power of the Crown were laid : the innovation of a standing army at once increased and strengthened it, and the few slight barriers which the Act of Settlement opposed to its progress have all been gradually removed during the Whiggish reigns that succeeded; till at length. this spirit of influence has become the vital principle of the State,-an agency, subtle and unseen, which pervades every part of the Constitution, lurks under all its forms, and regulates all its movements, and, like the invisible sylph or grace which presides over the motions of beauty,

Illam, quicquid agit, quoquo vestigia flectit,

Componit furtim subsequiturque.' The cause of Liberty and the Revolution are so habitually associated in the minds of Englishmen, that probably įn objecting to the latter, I may be thought hostile or indifferent to the former; but assuredly nothing could be more unjust than such a suspicion. The very object, indeed, which my humble animadversions would attain is, that in the crisis to which I think England is now hastening, and between which and foreign subjugation she may soon be compelled to choose, the errors and omissions of 1688 may be remedied; and, as it was then her fate to experience a Revolution without Reform, she may now seek a Reform without Revolution.

In speaking of the parties which have so long agitated England, it will be observed that I lean as little to the Whigs as to their adversaries. Both factions have been equally cruel to Ireland, and perhaps equally insincere in their efforts for the liberties of England. There is one naine, indeed, connected with Whiggism, of which I can never think but with veneration and tender

As justly, however, might the light of the sun be claimed by any particular nation, as the sanction of that name be monopolized by any party whatever. Mr. Fox belonged to mankind, and they have lost in him their ablest friend.

With respect to the few lines upon Intolerance, which I have subjoined, they are but the imperfect beginning of a long series of Essays, with which I here menace my readers, upon the same important subject. I shall look to no higher merit in the task than that of giving a new form to claims and remon. strances, which have often been much more eloquently urged, and which would long ere now have produced their effect, but that the minds of some of our statesmen, like the pupil of the human eye, contract themselves the more the stronger light there is shed upon them.

ness.

CORRUPTION.

AN EPISTLE.

Νυν δ' απανσ ώσπερ εξ αγορας εκπεπραται ταυτα αντεισακται δε αντι τουτων, υφ' ών απολωλεκαι νενοσηκεν η Ελλας. Ταύτα δ' εστι τι; ζηλος, ει τις ειληφε τις γελως αν ομολογη" συγγνωμη. τους ελεγχομενοις· μισος, αν τουτοις τις επιτιμα ταλλα παντα, όσα εκ του δωροδοκειν ηρτηται.Demosthenes, Philipp. iii.

Boast on, my friend--though stripp'd of all beside,
Thy struggling nation still retains her pride :1
That pride, which once in genuine glory woke
When Marlborough fought, and brilliant St. John spoke :
That pride which still, by time and shame unstrung,
Outlives e'en Wh-tel---cke's sword and H-wk-ob'ry's tongue !
Boast on, my friend, while in this humbled isle
Where Honour mourns and Freedom fears to smile,
Where the bright light of England's fame is known
But by the baleful shadow she has thrown
On all our fate_where, doom'd to wrongs and slights,
We hear you talk of Britain's glorious rights,
As wretched slaves, that under hatches lie,
Hear those on deck extol the sun and sky !
Boast on, while wandering through my native haunts,
I coldly listen to thy patriot vaunts;
And feel, though close our wedded countries twine,
More sorrow for my own than pride from thine.

Yet pause a moment-and if truths severe
Can find an inlet to that courtly ear,
Which loves no politics in rhyme but Pye's,
And hears no news but W-rd's gazetted lies,-
If aught can please thee but the good old saws
Of Church and State,' and 'William's matchless laws,'
And ·Acts and Rights of glorious Eighty-eight,'-
Things, which though now a century out of date,
Still serve to ballast, with convenient words,

A few crank arguments for speeching lords, ?' Angli suos ac sua omnia impense mirantur; affairs can look for. All the penal laws of that creteras nationes despectui habent.” - Barclay unparalleled code of oppression, which were (as quoted in one of Dryden's prefaces). made after the last event, were manifestly the

2 England began very early to feel the effects effects of national hatred and scorn towards a of cruelty towards her dependencies. • The conquered people, whom the victors delighted severity of her government (says Macpherson) to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to contributed more to deprive her of the continental provoke. dominions of the family of Plantagenet than the • It never seems to occur to those orators and Irms of France.' ---See his History, vol. i. addressers who round off so many sentences

$• By the total reduction of the kingdom of Ire- and paragraphs with the Bill of Rights, the Act land in 1891 (says Burke), the ruin of the native of Settlement, &c., that most of the provisione Irish, and in a great measure too, of the first which these Acts contained for the preservation races of the English, was completely accom- of parliamentary independence have been long plished. The new English interest was settled laid aside as romantic and troublesome. So that, with as solid a stability as anything in human I confess, I never hear a politician who quotes

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Turn, while I tell how England's freedom found,
Where most she look'd for life, her deadliest wound
How brave she struggled, while her foe was seen,
How faint since Influence lent that foe a screen ;
How strong o'er James and Popery she prevail’d,
How weakly fell, when Whigs and gold assail'd.i

While kings were poor, and all those schemes unknown
Which drain

the people, to enrich the throne ;
Ere yet a yielding Commons had supplied
Those chains of gold by which themselves are tied ;
Then proud Prerogative, untaught to creep
With bribery's silent foot on Freedom's sleep,
Frankly avow'd his bold enslaving plan,
And claim'd a right from God to trample man !
But Luther's schism had too much roused mankind
For Hampden's truths to linger long behind ;
Nor then, when king-like popes had fallen so low,
Could pope-like kingse escape the levelling blow.
That ponderous sceptre (in

whose place we bow
To the light talisman of influence now),
Too gross, too visible to work the spell
Which modern power performs, in fragments fell:
In fragments lay, till, patch'd and painted o'er
With Heur-de-lys, it shone and scourged once more.

'Twas then, my friend, thy kneeling nation quaff'd
Long, long and deep, the churchman's opiate draught
Of tame obedience-till her sense of right
And pulse of glory seem'd extinguish'd quite,
And Britons slept so sluggish in their chain,
That wakening Freedom call'd almost in vain.
O England ! England ! what a chance was thine,
When the last tyrant of that ill-starr'd line
Fled from his sullied crown, and left thee free
To found thy own eternal liberty !
How bright, how glorious, in that sunshine hour
Might patriot hands have raised the triple tower3

seriously the Declaration of Rights, &c., to prove illustration, into what doting, idiotic brains the the actual existence of English liberty, that I do plan of arbitrary power may enter. not think of that Marquis, whom Montesqnieu 3 Tacitus has expressed his opicion, in a pas. mentions, who set about looking for mines in the sage very frequently quoted, that such a distri. Pyrenees, on the strength of authorities which bution of power as the theory of the British con. he had read in some ancient authors. The poor stitution exhibits is merely a subject of bright Marquis toiled and searched in vain. He quoted speculation, a system more easily praised than his authorities to the last, but found no mines practised, and which, even could it happen to after all.

exist, wonld certainly not prove permanent; The chief, perhaps the only advantage which and, in truth, a review of England's anuals would has resulted from the system of influence, is that dispose us to agree with the great historian's retranquil course of uninterrupted action which mark. For we find that at no period whatever it has giren to the administration of governo has this balance of the three estates existed ; ment.

that the nobles predominated till the policy of 2 The drivelling correspondence between James Henry VII, and his successor reduced their I. and his dog Steenie' (the Duke of Bucking. weight by breaking up the feudal system of proham), which we find among the Hardwicke perty; that the power of the Crown became Papers, sufficiently shows. if we wanted any such ihen supreme and absolute, till the bold en

Of British freedom, on a rock divine
Which neither force could storm nor treachery mine!
But, no—the luminous, the lofty plan,
Like mighty Babel, seem'd too bold for man;
The curse of jarring tongues again was given
To thwart a work that raised men nearer heaven.
While Tories marr'd what Whigs had scarce begun,?
While Whigs undid what Whigs themselves had done, a
The time was lost, and William, with a smile,
Saw Freedom weeping o'er the unfinish'd pile !

Hence all the ills you suffer,-hence remain Such galling fragments of that feudal chain,

croachments of the Commons subverted the lated in its defence the celebrated ' Balancing fabric altogether; that the alternate ascendancy Letter,' in which it is insinuated that England, of prerogative and privilege distracted the period even then, in her boasted hour of regeneration, which followed the Restoration; and that, lastly, was arrived at such a pitch of faction and corthe Acts of 1639, by laying the foundation of an ruption that nothing could keep her in order but unbounded court-influence, have secured a pre. a Whig ministry and a standinz army. They ponderance to the Throne, which every succeeding refused as long as they could, to shorten the year increases. So that the vaunted British duration of Parliaments; and though the Decla. constitution has never perhaps existed but in ration of Rights acknowledged the necessity of mere theory.

such a reform, they were able, liy aris not un1 “Those two thieves," says Ralph," between known to modern ministers, to brand those as whorn the nation was crucified."— Use and Abuse traitors and republicans who urged it. But the of Parliament.

grand and distinguishing trait of their measurcs 3 The monarchs of Great Britain can never be was the power which they gave to the Crown of sufficiently grateful for that accommodating aumlilatinz the freedom of elections, of muddy. spirit which lcd the Revolutionary Whigs to ing for ever that stream of representation which give away the crown, without imposinz any had, even in the most agitated times, reflected of those restraints or stipulations which other some features of the people, but which then for men might have taken advantage of so favour the first time became the Pactolus of the Court, able a moment to enforee, and in the framing of and grew so darkened with sands of gold that it which they had so good a model to follow as the served for the people's mirror no longer. We limitations proposed by the Lords Essex and need but consult the writings of that time to Halifax, in the debate upon the Exclusion Bill. understand the astonishment then excited by They not only condescended, however, to accept measures which the prac:ice of a century has of places, but took care that these dignities should rendered not only familiar, but necessary. See ve no impediment to their voice potential' in a pamphlet called “The Danger of Mercenary affairs of legislation; and although an Act was Parliaments,' 1698; 'State Tracts,' Will. III. after many years sutered to pass, which by one vol. ii. p. 633; and see also 'Some Paradoxes of its articles disqualified placemen from serving presented as a New Year's Gin.'-(State Poems, as members of the House of Commons, it was yet vol. iii. p. 327). not allowed to interfere with the influence of the 3 The last great wound given to the feudal sys. reigning monarch, nor with that of his successor tem was the act of the 12th of Charles II., which Anne. The purifying clause, indeed, was not to abolished the tenure of knight's service in take cffect till after the decease of the latter Sove. capite, and which Blackstone compares, for its reign, and she very considerately repealed it salutary influence upon property, to the boasted altogether. So that, as representation has con provisions of Magna Charta itself. Yet even in tinued ever since, if the king were simple enough this Act we see the effects of that counteracting to send to foreign courts ambassadors who were spirit which has contrived to weakca every most of them in the pay of those courts, he effort of the English nation towards liberty. would be just as honestly and faithfully repre. The exclusion of copyholders from their share sented as are nis people.

of elective rights was permitted to remain It wculd be endless to enumerate all the as a brand of feudal servitude, and as an oba savours which were conferred upon William by stacle to the rise of that strong counter. those 'apostate Whigs.' They complimented balance which an equal representation of prohiin with the first suspension of the Habeas perty would oppose to the weight of the Corpus Act which had been hazarded since the Crown. I the managers of the Revolution had contirmation of that privilege; and this example been sincere in their wishes for reform, they of our deliverer's reign has not been lost would not only have taken this fetter off the upon any of his successors. They promoted the rights of election, but would have renewed establishment of a standing army, and circu. I the mode adopted in Cromwell's time, of in.

1

Whose links around you by the Norman flung,
Though loosed and broke so often, still have clung.
Hence sly Prerogative, like Jove of old,
Has turn'd his thunder into showers of gold,
Whose silent courtship wins securer joys,
Taints by degrees, and ruins without noise.
While parliaments, no more those sacred things
Which make and rule the destiny of kings,
Like loaded dice by ministers are thrown,
And each new set of sharpers cog their own.
Hence the rich oil, that from the Treasury steals,
And drips o'er all the Constitution's wheels,
Giving the old machine such pliant play, 2
That Court and Commons jog one joltless way,
While Wisdom trembles for the crazy car,
So gilt, so rotten, carrying fools so far ;
And the duped people, hourly doom'd to pay
The sums that bribe their liberties away,

2

successors

creasing the number of kuights of the shire, the constitution, is still left in free and unqualified to the exclusion of those rotten insignisicant activity, notwithstanding the example of that boroughs, which have tainted the whole mass celebrated Bill

for the limitation of this ever-bud. of the constitution. Lord Clarendon calls this diug branch of prerogative, which was proposed measure of Cromwell's 'an alteration fit to be in the reign of George I. under the peculiar more warrantable made, and in a better time. sanction and recommendation of the Crown, but It formed part of Mr. Pitt's plan in 1783; but which the Whigs thought right to reject, with Pitt's plan of reform was a kind of announced all that characteristic delicaey, w hichi, in general, aramatic piece, about as likely to be ever acted prevents them, when enjoying the sweets of as Mr. Sheridan's 'Foresters.'

office themselves, from taking any uncourtly ad. fore enim tutum iter et patens

vantage of the 'Throne. It will be recollected, Converso in pretium Deo.

however, that the creation of the twelve peers by Aurum per medios ire satellites, &c.- Horat. the Tories in Anne's reign (a measure which

Swift, like a true party man, defends) gave It would be amusing to trace the history of these upright Whigs all possible alarm for their Prerogative from the date of its strength under liberties. the Tudor princes, when Henry VII. and his With regard to this generous fit about his

taught the people (as Nathaniel prerogative which seized so unroyally the good Bacon says) to dance to the inne of Allegiance,' King George I., historians have hinted that the to the period of the Revolution, when the Throne, paroxysm originated far more in hatred to his In its attacks upon liberty, began to exchange son than in love to the constitution; but no the noisy explosions of Prerogative for the silent loyal person, acquainted with the annals of the and effeétual air-gun of Influence. In following three Georges, could possibly suspect any one of its course, too, since that memorable era, we those gracious monarchs either of ill-will to his shall find that, while the royal power has been heir, or indifference for the constitution. abridged in branches where it might be made • They drove so fast (says Welwood of the conducive to the interests of the people, it has ministers of Charles I.), that it was no wonder been leît in full and unshackled vigour against that the wheels and chariot broke. (Memoirs, almost every point where the integrity of the p. 35).—But this fatal accident, if we may judge constitution is vulnerable. For instance, the from experience, is to be imputed far less to the power of charterinz boroughs, 10 whose capri- folly and impetuosity of the drivers, than to the cious abuse in the hands of the Stuarts we are want of that suppling oil from the Treasury indebted for most of the present anomalies of which has been found so necessary to make a representation, might, if suffered to remain, have government like that of England run smoothly. in some degree atoned for its mischief, by re. Had Charles been as well provided with this storing the old unchartered boroughs to their article as his successors have been since the rights, and widening more equally the basis of happy Revolution, his Commons would never the legislature. But, by the Act of Union with have merited from him the harsh appellation of Scotland, this part of ihe prerogative was re- 'seditious vipers,' but would have been (as they mored lest Freedom should have a chance of now are, and I trust always will be) dutiful being healed, even by the rust of the spear which Commons,' loyal Commons,' &c., &c., and would had formerly wounded her. The dangerous have given him ship-money, or any other sort of

Moneguhin might take afwicy top so often exercised for the government against 3 During the reigns of Charles and James, 'No

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