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ginning, from whatever cause, to legalize his authority. The one was to be resisted, the other was to be managed and directed; but in neither case was the order of the state to be changed, lest government might be ruined, which ought only to be corrected and legalized. With us we got rid of the man, and preserved the constituent parts of the state. There they get rid of the constituent parts of the state, and keep the man. What we did was in truth and substance, and in a constitutional light, a revolution, not made, but prevented. We took solid securities; we settled doubtful questions; we corrected anomalies in our law. In the stable, fundamental parts of our constitution we made no revolution; no, nor any alteration at all
. We did not impair the monarchy. Perhaps it might be shown that we strengthened it very considerably. The nation kept the same ranks, the same orders, the same privileges, the same franchises, the same rules for property, the same subordinations, the same order in the law, in the revenue, and in the magistracy; the same Lords, the same Commons, the same corporations, the same electors.
The church was not impaired. Her estates, her majesty, her splendour, her orders and gradations, continued the same. She was preserved in her full efficiency, and cleared only of a certain intolerance, which was her weakness and disgrace. The church and the state were the same after the Revolution that they were before, but better secured in every part.
Was little done because a revolution was not made in the constitution ? No! Everything was done; because we commenced with reparation, not with ruin. Accordingly the state flourished. Instead of lying as dead, in a sort of trance, or exposed, as some others, in an epileptic fit, to the pity or derision of the world, for her wild, ridiculous, con. vulsive movements, impotent to every purpose but that of dashing out her brains against the pavement, Great Britain rose above the standard even of her former self. An æra of a more improved domestic prosperity then commenced, and still continues not only unimpaired, but growing, under the wasting hand of time. All the energies of the country were awakened. England never presented a firmer countenance, nor a more vigorous arm, to all her enemies and to all her rivals. Europe under her respired and revived. Every
where she appeared as the protector, assertor, or avenger, of liberty. A war was made and supported against fortune itself. The treaty of Ryswick, which first limited the power of France, was soon after made: the grand alliance very shortly followed, which shook to the foundations the dreadful
power which menaced the independence of mankind. The states of Europe lay happy under the shade of a great and free monarchy, which knew how to be great without endangering its own peace at home, or the internal or external peace of any of its neighbours.
Mr. Burke said he should have felt very unpleasantly if he had not delivered these sentiments. He was near the end of his natural, probably still nearer the end of his political, career; that he was weak and weary ; and wished for rest. That he was little disposed to controversies, or what is called a detailed opposition. That at his time of life, if he could not do something by some sort of weight of opinion, natural or acquired, it was useless and indecorous to attempt anything by mere struggle. Turpe senex miles. That he had for that reason little attended the army business, or that of the revenue, or almost any other matter of detail
, for some years past. That he had, however, his task. He was far from condemning such opposition ; on the contrary, he mostly highly applauded it, where a just occasion existed for it, and gentlemen had vigour and capacity to pursue it. Where a great occasion occurred, he was, and, while he continued in parliament, would be, amongst the most active and the most earnest; as he hoped he had shown on a late event. With respect to the constitution itself, he wished few alterations in it. Happy if he left it not the worse for any
share he had taken in its service.
Mr. Fox then rose, and declared, in substance, that so far as regarded the French army, he went no further than the general principle, by which that army showed itself indisposed to be an instrument in the servitude of their fellowcitizens, but did not enter into the particulars of their conduct. He declared, that he did not affect a democracy. That he always thought any of the simple, unbalanced governments bad; simple monarchy, simple aristocracy, simple democracy; he held them all imperfect or vicious: all were bad by themselves ; the composition alone was good. That
these had been always his principles, in which he had agreed with his friend Mr. Burke, of whom he said many kind and flattering things, which Mr. Burke, I take it for granted, will know himself too well to think he merits from anything but Mr. Fox's acknowledged good nature. Mr. Fox thought, however, that, in many cases, Mr. Burke was rather carried too far by his hatred to innovation.
Mr. Burke said, he well knew that these had been Mr. Fox's invariable opinions ; that they were a sure ground for the confidence of his country. But he had been fearful, that cabals of very different intentions would be ready to make use of his great name, against his character and sentiments, in order to derive a credit to their destructive machinations.
Mr. Sheridan then rose, and made a lively and eloquent speech against Mr. Burke; in which, among other things, he said that Mr. Burke had libelled the National Assembly of France, and had cast out reflections on such characters as those of the Marquis de la Fayette and Mr. Bailly.
Mr. Burke said, that he did not libel the National Assembly of France, whom he considered very little in the discussion of these matters. That he thought all the substantial power resided in the republic of Paris, whose authority guided, or whose example was followed by, all the republics of France. The republic of Paris had an army under their orders, and not under those of the National Assembly.
N. B. As to the particular gentlemen, I do not remember that Mr. Burke mentioned either of them-certainly not Mr. Bailly. He alluded, undoubtedly, to the case of the Marquis de la Fayette; but whether what he asserted of him be a libel on him, must be left to those who are acquainted with the business.
Mr. Pitt concluded the debate with becoming gravity and dignity, and a reserve on both sides of the question, as related to France, fit for a person in a ministerial situation. He said, that what he had spoken only regarded France when she should unite, which he rather thought she soon might, with the liberty she had acquired, the blessings of law and order. He, too, said several civil things concerning the sentiments of Mr. Burke, as applied to this country.
LETTER TO A PEER OF IRELAND,
THE PENAL LAWS AGAINST IRISH CATHOLICS;
PREVIOUS TO THE LATE REPEAL OF A PART THEREOF, IN THE SESSION OF THE IRISH PARLIAMENT, HELD A. D. 1782.
Charles Street, London, Feb. 21, 1782. MY LORD,
I AM obliged to your Lordship for your communication of the heads of Mr. Gardiner's bill. I had received it, in an earlier stage of its progress, from Mr. Braughall; and I am still in that gentleman's debt, as I have not made him the proper return for the favour he has done me. Business, to which I was more immediately called, and in which my sentiments had the weight of one vote, occupied me every moment since I received his letter. This first morning which I can call my own, I give with great cheerfulness to the subject on which your Lordship has done me the honour of desiring my opinion._I have read the heads of the bill, with the amendments. Your Lordship is too well acquainted with
men, and with affairs, to imagine that any true judg. ment can be formed on the value of a great measure of policy from the perusal of a piece of paper. At present I am much in the dark with regard to the state of the country, which the intended law is to be applied to. It is not easy for me to determine whether or no it was wise, (for the sake of expunging the black letter of laws, which, menacing as they
The sketch of the bill sent to Mr. Burke, along with the repeal of some acts, re-affirmed many others in the penal code. It was altered afterwards, and the clauses re-affirming the incapacities left out; bu! they all still exist, and are in full force.
were in the language, were every day fading into disuse,) solemnly to re-affirm the principles, and to re-enact the provisions, of a code of statutes, by which you are totally excluded from THE PRIVILEGES OF THE COMMONWEALTH, from the highest to the lowest, from the most material of the civil professions, from the army, and even from education, where alone education is to be had.
Whether this scheme of indulgence, grounded at once on contempt and jealousy, has a tendency gradually to produce something better and more liberal, I cannot tell
, for want of having the actual map of the country. If this should be the case, it was right in you to accept it, such as it is. But if this should be one of the experiments, which have sometimes been made before the temper of the nation was ripe for a real reformation, I think it may possibly have ill effects, by disposing the penal matter in a more systematic order, and thereby fixing a permanent bar against any relief that is truly substantial. The whole merit or demerit of the measure depends upon the plans and dispositions of those by whom the act was made, concurring with the general temper of the Protestants of Ireland, and their aptitude to admit in time of some part of that equality, without which you never can be FELLOW-CITIZENS. Of all this I am wholly ignorant. All my correspondence with men of public importance in Ireland has for some time totally ceased. On the first bill for the relief of the ROMAN CATHOLICS of Ireland, I was, without any call of mine, consulted both on your side of the water and on this. On the present occasion, I have not heard a word from any man in office; and know as little of the intentions of the British government, as I know of the temper of the Irish parliament. I do not find that any opposition was made by the principal persons of the minority in the House of Commons, or that any is apprehended from them in the House of Lords. The whole of the difficulty seems to lie with the principal men in government, under whose protection this bill is supposed to be brought in. This violent opposition and cordial support, coming from one and the same quarter, appears to me something mysterious, and hinders me from being able to make any clear judgment of the merit of the present measure, as compared with the actual state of the country, and the general views of goveril