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treaty fell to his successor. Whoever will be at the trouble to compare it with the treaty of 1734, will, I believe, confess, that, if the former ministers could have obtained such terms, they were criminal in not accepting them.
But the merchants “ deemed them unsafe and unprofitable.” What merchants? As no treaty ever was more maturely considered, so the opinion of the Russia merchants in London was all along taken; and all the instructions sent over were in exact conformity to that opinion. Our minister there made no step without having previously consulted our merchants resident in Petersburgh, who, before the signing of the treaty, gave the most full and unanimous testimony in its favour.
In their address to our minister at that court, among other things they say, “ It may afford some additional satisfaction to your excellency, to receive a public acknowledgment of the entire and unreserved approbation of every article in this treaty, from us who are so immediately and so nearly concerned in its consequences." This was signed by the consul-general, and every British merchant in Petersburgh.
The approbation of those immediately concerned in the consequences is nothing to this author. He and his friends have so much tenderness for people's interests, and understand them so much better than they do themselves, that, whilst these politicians are contending for the best of possible terms, the claimants are obliged to go without any terms at all.
One of the first and justest complaints against the administration of the author's friends, was the want of vigour in their foreign negotiations. Their immediate successors endeavoured to correct that error, along with others; and there was scarcely a foreign court, in which the new spirit that had arisen was not sensibly felt, acknowledged, and sometimes complained of. On their coming into administration, they found the demolition of Dunkirk entirely at a stand: instead of demolition, they found construction; for the French were then at work on the repair of the jettees. On the remonstrances of General Conway, some parts of these jettees were immediately destroyed. The Duke of Richmond personally surveyed the place, and obtained a fuller knowledge of its true state and condition than any of our ministers had done; and, in consequence, had larger offers from the Duke of Choiseul than had ever been received. But, as these were short of our just expectations under the treaty, he rejected them. Our then ministers, knowing that, in their administration, the people's minds were set at ease upon all the essential points of public and private liberty, and that no project of theirs could endanger the concord of the empire, were
under no restraint from pursuing every just demand upon foreign nations.
The author, towards the end of this work, falls into reflections upon the state of public morals in this country: he draws use from this doctrine, by recommending his friend to the king and the public, as another Duke of Sully; and he concludes the whole performance with a very devout prayer.
The prayers of politicians may sometimes be sincere ; and as this prayer is in substance, that the author, or his friends, may be soon brought into power, I have great reason to believe it is very much from the heart. It must be owned too that after he has drawn such a picture, such a shocking picture, of the state of this country, he has great faith in thinking the means he prays for sufficient to relieve us: after the character he has given of its inhabitants of all ranks and classes, he has great charity in caring much about them; and indeed no less hope, in being of opinion, that such a detestable nation can ever become the care of Providence. He has not even found five good men in our devoted city.
He talks indeed of men of virtue and ability. But where are his men of virtue and ability to be found? Are they in the present administration? Never were a set of people more blackened by this author. Are they among the party of those (no small body) who adhere to the system of 1766? These it is the great purpose
of this book to calumniate. Are they the persons who acted with his great friend, since the change in 1762, to his removal in 1765? Scarcely any of these are now out of employment; and we are in possession of his desideratum. Yet I think he hardly means to select, even some of the highest of them, as examples fit for the reformation of a corrupt world.
He observes, that the virtue of the most exemplary prince that ever swayed a sceptre can never warm or illuminate the body of his people, if foul mirrors are placed so near him as to refract and dissipate the rays at their first emanation 3." Without observing upon the propriety of this metaphor, or asking how mirrors come to have lost their old quality of reflecting, and to have acquired that of refracting, and dissipating rays, and how far their foulness will account for this change; the remark itself is common and true: no less true, and equally surprising from him, is that which immediately precedes it: “it is in vain to endeavour to check the progress of irreligion and licentiousness, by punishing such crimes in one individual, if others equally culpable are rewarded with the honours
3 P. 46.
and emoluments of the state." I am not in the secret of the author's manner of writing; but it appears to me, that he must intend these reflections as a satire upon the administration of his happy years. Were ever the honours and emoluments of the state more lavishly squandered upon persons scandalous in their lives than during that period? In these scandalous lives, was there any thing more scandalous than the mode of punishing one culpable individual ? In that individual, is any thing more culpable than his having been seduced by the example of some of those very persons by whom he was thus persecuted ?
The author is so eager to attack others, that he provides but indifferently for his own defence. I believe, without going beyond the page I have now before me, he is very sensible, that I have sufficient matter of further, and, if possible, of heavier charge against his friends, upon his own principle. But it is because the advantage is too great, that I decline making use of it. I wish the author had not thought that all methods are lawful in party. Above all he ought to have taken care not to wound his enemies through the sides of his country. This he has done, by making that monstrous and overcharged picture of the distresses of our situation. No wonder that he, who finds this country in the same condition with that of France at the time of Henry the Fourth, could also find a resemblance between his political friend and the Duke of Sully. As to those personal resemblances, people will often judge of them from their affections: they may imagine in these clouds whatsoever figures they please ; but what is the conformation of that eye which can discover a resemblance of this country and these times to those with which the author compares them? France, a country just recovered out of twenty-five years of the most cruel and desolating civil war that perhaps was ever known. The kingdom, under the veil of momentary quiet, full of the most atrocious political, operating upon the most furious fanatical factions. Some pretenders even to the crown; and those who did not pretend to the whole, imed at the partition of the monarchy. There were almost as many competitors as provinces; and all abetted by the greatest, the most ambitious, and most enterprising power in Europe. No place safe from treason; no, not the bosoms on which the most amiable prince that ever lived reposed his head; not his mistresses; not even his queen. As to the finances, they had scarce an existence, but as a matter of plunder to the managers, and of grants to insatiable and ungrateful courtiers.
How can our author have the heart to describe this as any sort of parallel to our situation? To be sure, an April shower has some
resemblance to a water-spout; for they are both wet: and there is some likeness between a summer evening's breeze and a hurricane ; they are both wind: but who can compare our disturbances, our situation, or our finances, to those of France in the time of Henry? Great Britain is indeed at this time wearied, but not broken, with the efforts of a victorious foreign war; not sufficiently relieved by an inadequate peace, but somewhat benefited by that peace, and infinitely by the consequences of that war. The powers of Europe awed by our victories, and lying in ruins upon every side of us. Burdened indeed we are with debt, but abounding with resources. We have a trade, not perhaps equal to our wishes, but more than ever we possessed. In effect, no pretender to the crown; nor nutriment for such desperate and destructive factions as have formerly shaken this kingdom.
As to our finances, the author trifles with us. When Sully came to those of France, in what order was any part of the financial system? or what system was there at all? There is no man in office who must not be sensible that ours is, without the act of any parading minister, the most regular and orderly system perhaps that was ever known; the best secured against all frauds in the collection, and all misapplication in the expenditure of public money.
I admit that, in this flourishing state of things, there are appearances enough to excite uneasiness and apprehension. I admit there is a cankerworm in the rose ;
medio de fonte leporum
Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat. There is nothing else than a spirit of disconnexion, of distrust, and of treachery among public men. It is no accidental evil; nor has its effect been trusted to the usual frailty of nature; the distemper has been inoculated. The author is sensible of it, and we lament it together. This distemper is alone sufficient to take away considerably from the benefits of our constitution and situation, and perhaps to render their continuance precarious. If these evil dispositions should spread much farther they must end in our destruction ; for nothing can save a people destitute of public and private faith. However, the author, for the present state of things, has extended the charge by much too widely; as men are but too apt to take the measure of all mankind from their own particular acquaintance. Barren as this age may be in the growth of honour and virtue, the country does not want, at this moment, as strong, and those not a few examples, as were ever known, of an unshaken adherence to principle, and attachment to connexion, against every allurement of interest. Those examples are not
furnished by the great alone; nor by those, whose activity in public affairs may render it suspected that they make such a character one of the rounds in their ladder of ambition; but by men more quiet, and more in the shade, on whom an unmixed sense of honour alone could operate. Such examples indeed are not furnished in great abundance amongst those who are the subjects of the author's panegyric. He must look for them in another camp. He, who complains of the ill effects of a divided and heterogeneous administration, is not justifiable in labouring to render odious in the eyes of the public those men, whose principles, whose maxims of policy, and whose personal character, can alone administer a remedy to this capital evil of the age: neither is he consistent with himself, in constantly extolling those whom he knows to be the authors of the very mischief of which he complains, and which the whole nation feels so deeply.
The persons who are the objects of his dislike and complaint are many of them of the first families, and weightiest properties, in the kingdom; but infinitely more distinguished for their untainted honour, public and private, and their zealous but sober attachment to the constitution of their country, than they can be by any birth, or any station. If they are the friends of any one great man rather than another, it is not that they make his aggrandizement the end of their union; or because they know him to be the most active in caballing for his connexions the largest and speediest emoluments. It is because they know him, by personal experience, to have wise and enlarged ideas of the public good, and an invincible constancy in adhering to it; because they are convinced, by the whole tenor of his actions, that he will never negotiate away their honour or his own: and that, in or out of power, change of situation will make no alteration in his conduct. This will give to such a person in such a body, an authority and respect that no minister ever enjoyed among his venal dependents, in the highest plenitude of his power ; such as servility never can give, such as ambition never can receive or relish.
This body will often be reproached by their adversaries, for want of ability in their political transactions; they will be ridiculed for missing many favourable conjunctures, and not profiting of several brilliant opportunities of fortune; but they must be contented to endure that reproach; for they cannot acquire the reputation of that kind of ability without losing all the other reputation they possess.
They will be charged too with a dangerous spirit of exclusion and proscription, for being unwilling to mix in schemes of administration, which have no bond of union, or principle of confidence.