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includes the year 1786. Mr. Pitt, in his average, keeps this expensive year out of sight, and reasons on other years more fayourable to his purpose.
This dispute between Mr. Pitt and Mr. Sheridan is near akin to that between the French minifter, and ex-minister, Mr. Neckar and Mr. de Calonne. Mr. Neckar, anxious like Mr. Pitt to provide a finking fund, reasoned on an average from which certain years, more than ordinarily expenfive, were excluded. Such and such, says Mr. Neckar, would have been the state of the French finances but for the temporary embarrassment in which they were involved in consequence of the part which France took in the American war. Mr. Neckar's successor in the office of comptroller-general of the finances, discovered, that instead of the surplus revenue which he confidently talked of, there was' in reality a very great deficiency. Mr. Neckar acknowledges this deficiency, but, by way of apology, shews how it happened. Mr. de Calonne replies, that reasons why the deficiency could not but exift, ferve only to prove the truth of its existence; and the contingencies by which it was occasioned, ought to have been taken into that average on which the pretended surplus of the public revenue over the public expenditure was founded.
As Mr. Neckar, in the formation of his average, stops when he comes to the extraordinary expences incurred by war, fo Mr, Pitt carries his average no farther back than where he finds the nation to be in a state of perfect tranquillity, and, as he himself affirms, of unexampled prosperity. Now, how far one or two years of unexampled prosperity is a fit average for calculating the balance between the ordinary public expenditure and the ordinary public income, it is not difficult to determine. This is noť quibbling about words. In so grave a matter we would not give way to a levity and petulance which, in the character of critics, we would condemn on any serious occafion : we speak the words of truth and soberness. Have not adminiftration, in order to prop the finking fund, been reduced to the necessity of borrowing a million sterling ; and, in order to defray the annual interett of this sum, to impose new and vexatious taxes ? Our joy at the flattering prospect held out in the budget, though not wholly overcast, cannot but suffer a degree of abatement when we reflect that, on a general review of the income and expenditure of the years 1786, 87, 88, including in this expenditure the annual million for a finking fund, we find a deficiency of several millions sterling; that from the sum already redeemed we are to deduct loans, exchequer-bills, and anticipations of the public revenue to the amount of three millions and an half; and that the improvements in the collection of the taxes which
are now considered as a necessary article in the estimate which supports the sinking fund, were originally held out by the re, venue committee as a provision for contingencies. The only provision that we have for unfavourable, for aught that has yet in fact taken placé, is favourable contingencies. The efficacy of the annual million for a sinking fund depends upon the petuity of peace. If the millennium, as administration suppose, has actually commenced, if Satan fhall indeed be bound for a thousand years, there is not a doubt but the sinking fund will melt away the national debt sooner or later ; but if the old dragon should be suffered to make his usual rounds, he will quickly overturn all that the patrons of the finking fund have been building for years. Although not one of the members of the House of Commons has deemed it proper so far to encounter vulgar opinion as to oppose the establishment of a finking fund of some sort, there is nothing more certain, or even demon, ftrable, than that the scheme of making one object, the PUBLIC, both debtor and creditor, of giving away with one hand and taking with another, of transmitting to posterity depreciated money, instead of productive labour, is a mischievous absurdity; a truth on which we have touched, on different occafions, and particularly at considerable length, in our political speculation for June last, to which we refer our readers.
Indeed, a plain man, without entering into the calculations of finance and the nature and causes of the wealth of riations, naturally puts the question, If our revenue be in reality in só yery flourishing a situation, where is the produce? Why impose so many odious, vexatious, and ruinous taxes ? That the excise imposed on tobacco is such, needs not to be illustrated. It is therefore to be modified, like many others of the present minister's taxes, by a committee of parliament. And here it muft be allowed that the injudicious manner in which administration impose, and the crown lawyers draw up acts for the imposition of taxes, is counterbalanced, in fome degree, by the candour and readiness with which they adopt useful plans and hints from all men, especially from their political adversaries. Tell me, the minister seems to say on many occafions, tell me what you would have me to do; but let me be always prime minister of England. There is a great deal of caution and prudence in this mode of proceeding : but if it continues to grow into a system, if it is carried to the greatest possible length, and practised in ali poffible cases, it may be doubted how far it is consonant with the spirit of our conftitution, as it tends to take away from the RESPONSIBILITY of ministers, and to protect them from blame and censure, be the effect of their conduct what it will, by the authority and sanction of the House of Commons. The business
of that house, as we take it, is rather to say negatively what a minister shall not do, than pro. 17.y what he ought to do, or shall do. Shall I pursue this or that measure Shall i make war or peace, &c. &c. ? Sir, you know best; you are best acquainted with the circumstances of the cafe, you have weighed it in its origin, its collateral circumstances, and probable consequences. Whatever you do, you do it at your own risk. If you act honestly and wisely, you will be rewarded with approbation and applause; if dishonestly or imprudently, punithed with disapprobation and disgrace. It is not enough that a minister be honest, diligent, constant, and firm, and protect himself and his measures by the most consummate arts of management. He should possess an inventive and sublime genius, that can penetrate farther into things than it would be, in all cafes, prudent, or perhaps pollible, to explain to the nation. He should be able not only to prove the purity of his intentions with regard to the means--but to poffefs such a confidence in the wisdom of his measures as might enable him to foresee and foretell the effects of his conduct. Such a minister was the immortal CHATHAM; such a minister is not his fon. Lord North, in the spirit of management and caution, obtained a vote of the Commons for carrying on war against the AngloAmericans. This of course became the war of the House
; and the House therefore persevered in it longer than they would have otherwise done, if it had been undertaken and carried on solely by the authority of the minister.
The small majority by which the motion for a repeal of the tobacco excise act was negatived, fufficiently declares the sense of the nation on that subject.
REFORM OF PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATION, Mr. Flood, as we meant to have observed in our last speculation, had we not been precluded by other matter, introduced and recommended his motion for a more equal representation of the people in parliament with admirable ingenuity and eloquence. All that could be suggested by the faculty of reasoning, in favour of his motion, was urged by Mr. Flood with modesty, with brevity, and in that calm and dispassionate, though manly and energetic manner, that alone becomes the fenate of a cultivated nation-yet was his motion wisely rejected.
At all times, but especially in the present, it would be political madness to excite a spirit of popular discontent; to move more than the united wisdom of the nation could either wield when in motion, or reduce to a state of reft. While any tolerable share of virtue is to be found, while trade flourishes, and
property is secured, there will always remain a fufficient degree of nervous sensibility in the political constitution for vibrating the sensations of the body to the head and heart: nor is there the smallest necessity for more ears to hear, or tongues to utter, the public voice. If commerce shall languish, property become infecure, protection and favour usurp the places of truth and justice, all things become venal and corrupt, the whole body faint, and the head disordered ; in vain shall we attempt to supply a defect in the radical spirit of our constitution, virtue, and honour, by multiplying parliamentary orators
Non-si linguæ centum sint, oraque centum
In the present situation of affairs, there is no British minister but who must pay regard to the public opinion, which, in all public diffenfions, cafts the balance, if not always with wisdom, always with decision. The people, by taking part with ministry, are able to support them if they are in the right, or overturn them if they are found to multiply the oppresions more than the bleflings of the nation, by supporting opposition. The chain of arteries that runs throughout, and connects and bestows vitality on the British conftitution is this: as ministers must pay regard to the voice of the members of parliament, and these to that of their electors; so the electors themselves, on all great and momentous occasions, catch the general tone, and dare not to resist the unanimous sentiments of their neighbours.
The strong CONFEDERACY that has been formed between Prussia, Sweden, Poland, Turkey, and, we may add, England and Holland, is a striking proof of the united
THE RUSSIANS AND AUSTRIANS.
A general war is on the point of bursting out on the continent; if it be not prevented by a sudden pacification. Nor is it altogether unreasonable to suppose that a pacification may yet take place. It was not till after numerous and most formidable armies had been brought into the field, which produced many evolutions, that peace was made at Teschen, which settled the dispute concerning the fucceffion of Bavaria, between the late povereigns of Austria and Pruffia.
DIFFICULTIES AND DISSENSIONS IN FRANCE. It was nobly faid by the Count de Clermont the National Assembly is accustomed to storms. If the arduous work which they have undertaken is not wholly superior to the powers of human wisdom, the genius of that august body, notwithstanding present appearances, will ride in the whirlwind, and direct the
storm. Though aristocratical and clerical combinations and intrigues may trouble and impede their progress in legislation for a time, they will finally prevail
, being supported by reason, and even numbers, on their side, and the invincible spirit of freedom.
IN THE BÉLGIC PROVINCES
the demon of superstition still stretches his raven wings over the land, and by his deadly shade attempts, with various success, to exclude the light of liberty. The Indians have a notion that, in eclipses, there is a contest between a good and an evil spirit; but as light invariably prevails over darkness at last, they rightly conclude that the good spirit is the most powerful. In the Austrian Netherlands, at the present moment, the fun of righteousness is under an eclipse; but the good spirit will prevail, and shed his benign influence on men who are under darkness and the shadow of death.
When we read in ancient authors of the druidical facrifices in Gaul of human creatures, we are struck with surprise and horror. When we reflect on these, and compare them with the despotic and fanguinary proceedings of the priests of GALLIA Belgica at the present moment, we conclude that the spirit of superstition and priestcraft remains always the fame, however it may change its object and mode of acting.
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