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courage and resolution. To say, that if the it! I should have to do with it! Every man House of Commons has passed an unjustifiable in the kingdom would have to do with it! Every vote, it is a matter between God and their own man would have a right to insist on the repeal consciences, and that nobody else has any thing of such a treasonable vote, and to bring the auto do with it, is such a strange assertion as I thors of it to condign punishment. I would, have never before heard, and involves a doc- therefore, call on the noble Lord to declare his trine subversive of the Constitution. What! opinion, unless he would lie under the imputation If the House of Commons should pass a vote of being conscious of the illegality of the vote, and abolishing this House, and surrendering to the yet of being restrained by some unworthy moCrown all the rights and interests of the people, tive from avowing it to the world." Lord Manswould it be only a matter between them and field replied not.”Gentleman's Magazine for their conscience, and would nobody have any January, 1770. thing to do with it? You would have to do with
SPEECH OF LORD CHATHAM ON A MOTION OF LORD ROCKINGHAM TO INQUIRE INTO THE STATE OF THE
NATION, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, JANUARY 22, 1770.
INTRODUCTION. The preceding speech of Lord Chatham, in connection with the decisive step taken by Lord Camdeu, threw the Duke of Grafton and his ministry into the utmost confusion; and an adjournment of a week was resorted to, for the purpose of making new arrangements. During this time, the Marquess of Granby de. serted the administration, apologizing for the vote he had given for seating Colonel Luttrell in the House, and deploring it as the greatest misfortune of his life. He resigned all his places, except his commission as Colonel. Mr. Grenville, Mr. Dunning, the Dukes of Beaufort and Manchester, the Earls of Coventry and Huntington, and a number of others, followed his example. A reconciliation took place between Lord Chatham and Lord Rockingham, and the Opposition was completely organized under their guidance. It was decided to follow up the blow at once, by a motion from Lord Rockingham for an "inquiry into the state of the nation," which allows the utmost latitude for examining into the conduct of a minister. Accordingly, Lord Rockingham moved such an inquiry, almost immediately after the Lords again met. In supporting this motion, he maintained, that the existing discontents did not spring from any immediate temporary cause, but from a maxim which had grown up by degrees from the accession of George III., viz., " that the royal prerogative was sufficient to support the government, whatever might be the hands to which the administration was committed." He exposed this Tory principle as fatal to the liberties of the people. The Duke of Grafton followed in a few explanatory remarks; and Lord Chatham then delivered the following speech, which contains some passages of remarkable boldness and even vehemence.
SPEECH, &c.' My Lords, -I meant to have arisen imme- which ought to have been an era of happiness diately to second the motion made by the noble and prosperity to this country.3 Lord [Rockingham). The charge which the My Lords, I shall give you my reasons for noble Duke (Grafton) seemed to think affected concurring with the motion, not methodically, himself particularly, did undoubtedly demand an but as they occur to my mind. I may wander, early answer. It was proper he should speak perhaps, from the exact parliamentary debate, before me, and I am as ready as any man to ap- but I hope I shall say nothing but what may deplaud the decency and propriety with which he serve your attention, and what, if not strictly has expressed himself.
proper at present, would be fit to be said when I entirely agree with the noble Lord, both in the state of the nation shall come to be considthe necessity of your Lordships' concurring with ered. My uncertain state of health must plead the motion, and in the principles and arguments my excuse. I am now in some pain, and very by which he has very judiciously supported it. probably may not be able to attend to my duty I see clearly that the complexion of our govern- when I desire it most, in this House. I thank ment has been materially altered ; and I can trace the origin of the alteration up to a period 3 When George III. came to the throne, England
was in the midst of that splendid career of victories 1 This is the topic 80 powerfully discussed in Mr. by which Lord Chatham humbled the enemies of Burke's pamphlet, entitled, "Thoughts on the Cause bis country, and established her power in every of the Present Discontents," one of the most inge.. quarter of the globe. The peace which was made nious and able productions of that great writer. two years after, under the influence of Lord Bute,
This speech, like the last, was reported at the was generally considered a disgrace to the nation, time by a gentleman, who is now ascertained to bave and from that time dissatisfaction began to prevail been Sir Pbilip Francis.
in all classes of society.
God, my Lords, for having thus long preserved My Lords, I can not agree with the noble so inconsiderable a being as I am, to take a part Duke, that nothing less than an immediate attack upon this great occasion, and to contribute my upon the honor or interest of this nation can auendeavors, such as they are, to restore, to save, thorize us to interpose in defense of weaker states, to confirm the Constitution.
and in stopping the enterprises of an ambitious My Lords, I need not look abroad for griev- neighbor. Whenever that narrow, selfish pol. ances. The grand capital mischief is fixed at icy has prevailed in our councils, we have conhome. It corrupts the very foundation of our stantly experienced the fatal effects of it. By political existence, and preys upon the vitals of suffering our natural enemies to oppress the the state. The Constitution has been grossly powers less able than we are to make resistviolated. The Constitution at this moment stands ance, we have permitted them to increase their violated. Until that wound be healed, until the strength, we have lost the most favorable opporgrievance be redressed, it is in vain to recom- tunities of opposing them with success, and found mend union to Parliament, in vain to promote ourselves at last obliged to run every hazard in concord among the people. If we mean seri- making that cause our own, in which we were ously to unite the nation within itself, we must not wise enough to take part while the expense convince them that their complaints are regard- and danger might have been supported by othed, that their injuries shall be redressed. On ers. With respect to Corsica, I shall only say, that foundation I would take the lead in recom- that France has obtained a more useful and immending peace and harmony to the people. On portant acquisition in one pacific campaign than any other, I would never wish to see them united in any of her belligerent campaigns—at least again. If the breach in the Constitution be effect- while I had the honor of administering war ually repaired, the people will of themselves re- against her. The word may, perhaps, be thought turn to a state of tranquillity ; if not, may dis- singular. I mean only while I was the miniscord prerail forever. I know to what point this ter chiefly intrusted with the conduct of the war. doctrine and this language will appear directed. I remember, my Lords, the time when Lorraine Bat I feel the principles of an Englishman, and was united to the crown of France. That, too, I atter them without apprehension or reserve. was in some measure a pacific conquest; and The crisis is indeed alarming. So much the there were people who talked of it as the noble more does it require a prudent relaxation on the Duke now speaks of Corsica. France was perpart of government. If the King's servants will mitted to take and keep possession of a noble not permit a constitutional question to be decided province; and, according to his grace's ideas, on according to the forms and on the principles we did right in not opposing it. The effect of of the Constitution, it must then be decided in these acquisitions is, I confess, not immediate ; some other manner; and, rather than it should but they unite with the main body by degrees, be given up, rather than the nation should sur-and, in time, make a part of the national strength. render their birthright to a despotic minister, 1 I fear, my Lords, it is too much the temper of hope, my Lords, old as I am, I shall see the this country to be insensible of the approach of question brought to issue, and fairly tried be- danger, until it comes with gccumulated terror tween the people and the government. My upon us. Lord, this is not the language of faction. Let My Lords, the condition of his Majesty's afit be tried by that criterion by which alone we fairs in Ireland, and the state of that kingdom can distinguish what is factious from what is within itself, will undoubtedly make a very manot-by the principles of the English Constitu- terial part of your Lordship's inquiry. I am not tion. I have been bred up in these principles, sufficiently informed to enter into the subject so and know, that when the liberty of the subject is fully as I could wish ; but by what appears to invaded, and all redress denied him, resistance the public, and from my own observation, I conis justified. If I had a doubt upon the matter, I fess I can not give the ministry much credit for should follow the example set us by the most the spirit or prudence of their conduct. I see reverend bench, with whom I believe it is a that even where their measures are well chosen, maxim, when any doubt in point of faith arises, they are incapable of carrying them through or any question of controversy is started, to ap- without some unhappy mixture of weakness or peal at once to the greatest source and evidence imprudence. They are incapable of doing enof our religion—I mean the Holy Bible. The tirely right. My Lords, I do, from my conConstitution has its Political Bible, by which, if science, and from the best weighed principles it be fairly consulted, every political question of my understanding, applaud the augmentation may, and ought to be determined. Magna of the army. As a military plan, I believe it Charta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of has been judiciously arranged. In a political Rights, form that code which I call the Bible of the English Constitution. Had some of his Maj
* In the year 1768, France, under pretense of a esty's unhappy predecessors trusted less to the transfer from the Genoese (who claimed the island), comments of their ministers ; had they been bet- had seized upon Corsica. General Paoli made a
brave resistance, but was overpowered, and fled to ter read in the text itself, the glorious revolution England, where his presence excited a lively interwould have remained only possible in theory, and est in the oppressed Corsicans. Lord Chatham would not now have existed upon record a for- maintained that France ought to have been resistmidable example to their successors.
ed in this shameful act of aggression.
view, I am convinced it was for the welfare, for sand men locked up in Ireland, let the situation the safety of the whole empire. But, my Lords, of his affairs abroad, or the approach of danger with all these advantages, with all these recom- to this country, be ever so alarming, unless there mendations, if I had the honor of advising his be an actual rebellion or invasion in Great BritMajesty, I never would have consented to his ain. Even in the two cases excepted by the accepting the augmentation, with that absurd, King's promise, the mischief must have already dishonorable condition which the ministry have begun to operate, must have already taken effect, submitted to annex to it. My Lords, I revere before his Majesty can be authorized to send for the just prerogative of the Crown, and would the assistance of his Irish army. He has not contend for it as warmly as for the rights of the left himself the power of taking any preventive people. They are linked together, and natu- measures, let his intelligence be ever so certain, rally support each other. I would not touch a his apprehensions of invasion or rebellion be feather of the prerogative. The expression, per- ever so well founded. Unless the traitor be haps, is too light; but, since I have made use of actually in arms, unless the enemy be in the it, let me add, that the entire command and heart of your country, he can not move a single power of directing the local disposition of the man from Ireland. army is to the royal prerogative, as the master I feel myself compelled, my Lords, to return feather in the eagle's wing; and, if I were per- to that subject which occupies and interests me mitted to carry the allusion a little farther, I most. I mean the internal disorder of the Conwould say, they have disarmed the imperial stitution, and the remedy it demands. But first bird, the " Ministrum Fulminis Alitem.”6 The I would observe, there is one point upon which army is the thunder of the Crown. The minis- I think the noble Duke has not explained himtry have tied up the hand which should direct self. I do not mean to catch at words, but, if the bolt.
possible, to possess the sense of what I hear. I My Lords, I remember that Minorca was lost would treat every man with candor, and should for want of four battalions. They could not be expect the same candor in return. For the nospared from hence, and there was a delicacy ble Duke, in particular, I have every personal about taking them from Ireland. I was one of respect and regard. I never desire to underthose who promoted an inquiry into that matter stand him but as he wishes to be understood. in the other House; and I was convinced we had His Grace, I think, has laid much stress upon not regular troops sufficient for the necessary the diligence of the several public offices, and service of the nation. Since the moment the the assistance given them by the administration plan of augmentation was first talked of, I have in preparing a state of the expenses of his Majconstantly and warmly supported it among my esty's civil government, for the information of friends. I have recommended it to several mem- Parliament and for the satisfaction of the public. bers of the Irish House of Commons, and exhort- He has given us a number of plausible reasons ed them to support it with their utmost interest for their not having yet been able to finish the in Parliament. I did not foresee, nor could I account; but, as far as I am able to recollect, conceive it possible, the ministry would accept he has not yet given us the smallest reason to of it, with a condition that makes the plan itself hope that it ever will be finished, or that it ever ineffectual, and, as far as it operates, defeats will be laid before Parliament. every useful purpose of maintaining a standing My Lords, I am not unpracticed in business ; military force. His Majesty is now so confined and if, with all that apparent diligence, and all by his promise, that he must leave twelve thou- that assistance which the noble Duke speaks of,
the accounts in question have not yet been made $ This refers to an engagement on the part of the up, I am convinced there must be a defect in King, that a namber of effective troops, not less than some of the public offices, which ought to be 12,000 men, should at all times, except in cases of strictly inquired into, and severely punished. invasion or rebellion in Great Britain, be kept in But, my Lords, the waste of the public money Ireland for its better defense.
is not, of itself, so important as the pernicious 6 "The winged minister of thunder.” This is one 'purpose to which we have reason to suspect that of the most beautiful instances in our literature of money has been applied. For some years past, rising at once from a casual and familiar expression, there has been an influx of wealth into this counwhich seemed below the dignity of the occasion, into a magnificent image, sustained and enforced by try, which has been attended with many fatal a quotation from Horace, which bas always been consequences, because it has not been the reguadmired for its sublimity and strength.
lar, natural produce of labor and industry. The The image of a feather here applied to the King riches of Asia have been poured in upon us, and may have suggested to Junius (who was obviously have brought with them not only Asiatic luxury, an attentive hearer of Lord Chatham) a similar ap. but, I fear, Asiatic principles of government. plication of it to the same personage a few months without connections, without any natural interafter, in what has generally been considered the est in the soil
, the importers of foreign gold have finest of his images. “The King's bonor is that of forced their way into Parliament by such a torbis people. Their real honor and interest are the same. ** The feather that adorns the royal • Much of the wealth which was brought from Inbird supports its flight. Strip him of his plumage, dia about this time, was used for the purchase of and you fix him to the earth.”
seats in Parliament by men who went out mere ad7 In January, 1756.
rent of private corruption, as no private heredit- pendence. The infusion of health which I now ary fortune could resist. My Lords, not saying allude to would be to permit every county to but what is within the knowledge of us all, the elect one member more, in addition to their prescorruption of the people is the great original ent representation. The knights of the shires cause of the discontents of the people themselves, approach nearest to the constitutional represenof the enterprise of the Crown, and the notorious tation of the county, because they represent the decay of the internal vigor of the Constitution. soil. It is not in the little dependent boroughs, For this great evil some immediate remedy must it is in the great cities and counties that the be provided; and I confess, my Lords, I did hope strength and vigor of the Constitution resides ; that his Majesty's servants would not have suf- and by them alone, if an unhappy question should fered so many years of peace to relapse without ever arise, will the Constitution be honestly and paying some attention to an object which ought firmly defended. It would increase that strength, to engage and interest us all. I flattered my because I think it is the only security we have self I should see some barriers thrown up in against the profligacy of the times, the corrupdefense of the Constitution; some impediment tion of the people, and the ambition of the formed to stop the rapid progress of corruption. Crown. I doubt not we all agree that something must be I think I have weighed every possible objecdone. I shall offer my thoughts, such as they tion that can be raised against a plan of this naare, to the consideration of the House; and I ture; and I confess I see but one which, to me, wish that every noble Lord that hears me would carries any appearance of solidity. It may be be as ready as I am to contribute his opinion to said, perhaps, that when the act passed for unitthis important service. I will not call my own ing the two kingdoms, the number of persons sentiments crude and undigested. It would be who were to represent the whole nation in Parunfit for me to offer any thing to your Lordships liament was proportioned and fixed on forever. which I had not well considered; and this sub- That this limitation is a fundamental article, and
ject, I own, has not long occupied my thoughts. can not be altered without hazarding a dissoluI will now give them to your Lordships without tion of the Union. reserve.
My Lords, no man who hears me can have a Whoever understands the theory of the En- greater reverence for that wise and important glish Constitution, and will compare it with the act than I have. I revere the memory of that fact, must see at once how widely they differ. great prince (King William III.) who first formWe must reconcile them to each other, if we ed the plan, and of those illustrious patriots who wish to save the liberties of this country; we carried it into execution. As a contract, every must reduce our political practice, as nearly as article of it should be inviolable; as the common possible, to our principles. The Constitution in- basis of the strength and happiness of two naiended that there should be a permanent relation tions, every article of it should be sacred. I between the constituent and representative body hope I can not be suspected of conceiving a of the people. Will any man affirm that, as the thought so detestable as to propose an advantHouse of Commons is now formed, that relation age to one of the contracting parties at the exis in any degree preserved? My Lords, it is pense of the other. No, my Lords, I mean that not preserved; it is destroyed. Let us be cau- the benefit should be universal, and the consent tious, however, how we have recourse to violent to receive it unanimous. Nothing less than a expedients.
most urgent and important occasion should perThe boroughs of this country have properly suade me to vary even from the letter of the act; enough been called "the rotten parts” of the but there is no occasion, however urgent, howConstitution. I have lived in Cornwall, and, ever important, that should ever induce me to without entering into any invidious particularity, depart from the spirit of it. Let that spirit be have seen enough to justify the appellation. But religiously preserved. Let us follow the prinin my judgment, my Lords, these boroughs, cor. ciple upon which the representation of the two rupt as they are, must be considered as the nat- countries was proportioned at the Union; and ural infirmity of the Constitution. Like the in. when we increase the number of representatives firmities of the body, we must bear them with for the English counties, let the shires of Scotpatience, and submit to carry them about with land be allowed an equal privilege. On these us. The limb is mortified, but the amputation terms, and while the proportion limited by the might be death.
Union is preserved by the two nations, I appreLet us try, my Lords, whether some gentler hend that no man who is a friend to either will remedies may not be discovered. Since we can not cure the disorder, let us endeavor to infuse 9 This is the first distinct proposal that was ever such a portion of new health into the Constitu- made for a reform of Parliament. It left the bor. tion as may enable it to support its most invet- ough system as it was, in all its rottenness, and erate diseases.
aimed to "infuse a portion of new health into the The representation of the counties is, I think, Constitution,” sufficient to counteract the evil
, by in
creasing the representation from the counties. The still preserved pure and uncorrupted. That of plan was never taken up by iater reformers The the greatest cities is upon a footing equally re- rotten part was amputated in 1832, as Lord Chatspectable ; and there are many of the larger ham bimself predicted it would be before the expi. trading towns which still preserve their inde- ration of a century.
object to an alteration so necessary for the secu- this ground we met ; upon this ground we stand, rity of both. I do not speak of the authority of firm and inseparable. No ministerial artifices, the Legislature to carry such a measure into ef- no private offers, no secret seduction, can divide fect, because I imagine no man will dispute it. us. United as we are, we can set the profoundBut I would not wish the Legislature to inter- est policy of the present ministry, their grand, pose by an exertion of its power alone, without their only arcanum of government, their “divide the cheerful concurrence of all parties. My ob- et impera,''10 at defiance. ject is the happiness and security of the two na- I hope an early day will be agreed to for tions, and I would not wish to obtain it without considering the state of the nation. My infirmtheir mutual consent.
ities must fall heavily upon me, indeed, if I do My Lords, besides my warm approbation of not attend to my duty that day. When I con. the motion made by the noble Lord, I have a sider my age and unhappy state of health, I feel natural and personal pleasure in rising up to how little I am personally interested in the event second it. I consider my seconding his Lord of any political question. But I look forward to ship’s motion (and I would wish it to be consid- others, and am determined, as far as my poor ered by others) as a public demonstration of that ability extends, to convey to them who come cordial union which I am happy to affirm sub- after me the blessings which I can not hope to sists between us, of my attachment to those prin- enjoy myself. ciples which he has so well defended, and of my respect for his person. There has been a time, my Lords, when those who wished well to nei- It was impossible to resist the motion, and ther of us, who wished to see us separated for- therefore the Duke of Graston yielded to it with ever, found a sufficient gratification for their the best grace possible, naming two days from malignity against us both. But that time is that time, January 24th, as the day for the enhappily at an end. The friends of this country quiry. He afterward deferred it until February will, I doubt not, hear with pleasure that the 20 ; but, finding it impossible to resist the pressnoble Lord and his friends are now united with ure, he resigned on the 28th of January, 1770. me and mine upon a principle which, I trust, Lord North took his place. The administrawill make our union indissoluble. It is not to tion now became more decidedly Tory than bepossess, or divide the emoluments of govern- fore. Lord North continued at the head of the ment, but, if possible, to save the state. Upon government for about twelve years.
SPEECH OF LORD CHATHAM ON A MOTION CALLING FOR PAPERS IN RELATION TO THE SEIZURE OF THE
FALKLAND ISLANDS BY SPAIN, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, NOVEMBER 2, 1770.
INTRODUCTION. The Falkland Islands, lying about three hundred miles east of the Straits of Magellan, were discovered by the English in the days of Queen Elizabeth, but so dreary and deterring was their appearance, that no steps were taken for their settlement during the next two hundred years. At length, in 1765, they were occupied in form by the British government, who soon after erected a small block-house, named Fort Egmont, on one of the islands, and there stationed a few troops. This gave much offense to the court of Spain, which claimed all the Magellanic regions; and, after sundry protests, Buccarelli, the governor of Buenos Ayres, sent an expedition which drove the English from the islands in the early part of 1770. It is a remarkable fact, as already mentioned, that Lord Chatham predicted this event at the close of the preceding Parliament, during the very month in which the Spanish fleet arrived at the Falkland Islands. "I do now pledge myself," said be, “ to this honorable House for the truth of what I am going to assert, that, at this very hour that we are sitting together, a blow of hostility has been struck against us by our old inveterate enemies in some quarter of the world."
When the intelligence of this seizure reached England, the whole nation was fired at the indignity offered to the British flag, and in every quarter the utmost eagerness was manifested to vindicate the national honor. Lord Chatham, who had always cherished a strong antipathy and contempt for the Span. iards, shared largely in these feelings. Accordingly, when the Duke of Richmond moved for papers on this subject, he made the following speech, in which he first considers the outrage committed by Spain, and then expatiates on the want of spirit exhibited by the ministry, their neglect of naval and military preparations, the depressed condition of the country, and some of the causes which had led to this result.
SPEECH, &c.' My Lords – I rise to give my hearty assent to the motion made by the noble Duke. 10 Divide and rule.
Grace's favor I have been permitted to see it, · This speech is understood to have been report. before it was offered to the House. I have fully ed by Sir Philip Francis.
considered the necessity of obtaining from the