Abbildungen der Seite

own salary-Sir, you are calling for the appointments of my colleagues who sit about me in office-Sir, you are going to excite a mutiny at court against me-you are going to estrange his majesty's confidence from me, through the chamberlain, or the master of the horse, or the groom of the stole.”

As things now stand, every man, in proportion to his consequence at court, tends to add to the expence of the civil list, by all manner of jobs, if not for himself, yet for his dependents. When the new plan is established, those who are now suitors for jobs, will become the most strenuous opposers of them. They will have a cominon interest with the minister in publick economy. Every class, as it stands low, will become security for the payment of the preceding class ; and thus the persons whose insignificant services defraud those that are useful, would then become interested in their payment. Then the powerful, instead of oppressing would be obliged to support the weak; and idleness would become concerned in the reward of industry. The whole fabrick of the civil economy would become compact and connected in all its parts; it would be formed into a well-organized body, where every member contributes to the support of the whole ; and where even the lazy stomach secures the vigour of the active arm.

This plan, I really flatter myself, is laid, not in official formality, nor in airy speculation, but in real life, and in human nature, in what “comes home (as Bacon says) to the business and bosoms of men.” You have now, Sir, before you, the whole of my scheme, as far as I have digested it into a form, that might be in any respect worthy of your consideration.I intend to lay it before you in five bills.* The plan consists, indeed, of many parts, but they stand upon a few plain principles. It is a plan which takes nothing from the civil list without discharging it of a burthen equal to the sum carried to the publick service. It weakens no one function necessary to government ; but on the contrary, by appropriating supply to service, it gives it greater vigour. It provides the means of order and foresight to a minister of finance, which may always keep all the objects of his office, and their

• Titles of the bills read. VOL. II.


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


state, condition, and relations, distinctly before him. It brings forward accounts without hurrying and distressing the accountants; whilst it provides for publick convenience, it regards private rights. It extinguishes secret corruption almost to the possibility of its existence. It destroys direct and visible influence equal to the offices of at least fifty members of parliament. Lastly, it prevents the provision for his majesty's children, from being diverted to the political purposes of his minister.

These are the points, on which I rely for the merit of the plan : I pursue economy in a secondary view, and only as it is connected with these great objects. I am persuaded, that even for supply this scheme will be far from unfruitful, if it be executed to the extent I propose it. I think it will give to the publick, at its periods, two or three hundred thousand pounds a year ; if not, it will give them a system of economy, which is itself a great revenue. It gives me no little pride and satisfaction, to find that the principles of my proceedings are, in many respects, the very same with those which are now pursued in the plans of the French minister of finance. I am sure, that I lay before you a scheme easy and practicable in all its parts. I know it is common at once to applaud and to reject all attempts of this nature. I know it is common for men to say, that such and such things are perfectly right-very desirable; but that, unfortunately, they are not practicable. Oh! no, Sir, no. Those things which are not practicable, are not desirable. There is nothing in the world really beneficial, that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding, and a well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us, that he has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural and the moral world. If we cry, like children for the moon, like children we must cry on.

We must follow the nature of our affairs, and conform ourselves to our situation. If we do, our objects are plain and compassable. Why should we resolve to do nothing, because what I propose to you may not be the exact demand of the petition; when we are far from resolved to comply even with what evidently is so ? Does this sort of chicanery become us? The people are the masters. They have only to

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

express their wants at large and in


We are the expert artists; we are the skilful workmen, to shape their desires into perfect form, and to fit the utensil to the use. They are the sufferers, they tell the symptoms of the complaint; but we know the exact seat of the disease, and how to apply the remedy according to the rules of art. How shocking would it be to see us pervert our skill, into a sinister and servile dexterity, for the purpose of evading our duty, and defrauding our employers, who are our natural lords, of the object of their just expectations. I think the whole not only practicable, but practicable in a very short time. If we are in earnest about it, and if we exert that industry, and those talents in forwarding the work, which I am afraid may be exerted in impeding it-I engage, that the whole may be put in complete execution within a year. For my own part, I have very little to recommend me for this or for

any task, but a kind of earnest and anxious perseverance of mind, which, with all its good and all its evil effects, is moulded into my constitution. I faithfully engage to the house, if they choose to appoint-me to any part in the execution of this work, which (when they have made it theirs by the improvements of their wisdom, will be worthy of the able assistance they may give me that by night and by day, in town, or in country, at the desk, or in the forest, I will, without regard to convenience, ease, or pleasure, devote myself to their service, not expecting or admitting any reward whatsoever. I owe to this country my labour, which is my all ; and I owe to it ten times more industry, if ten times more I could exert. After all I shall be an unprofitable servant.

At the same time, if I am able, and if I shall be permitted, I will lend an humble helping hand to any other good work which is going on.

I have not, Sir, the frantick presumption to suppose, that this plan contains in it the whole of what the publick has a right to expect, in the great work of reformation they call for. Indeed it falls infinitely short of it. It falls short, even of my own ideas. I have some thoughts not yet fully ripened, relative to a reform in the customs and excise, as well as in some other branches of financial administration. There are other things too, which orm essential parts in a great plan for the purpose of re

[ocr errors]

storing the independence of parliament. The contractors bill of last year it is fit to revive ; and I rejoice that it is in better hands than mine. The bill for suspending the votes of customhouse officers, brought into parliament several years ago, by one of our worthiest and wisest members,* (would to God we could along with the plan revive the person who designed it.) But a man of very real integrity, honour, and ability will be found to take his place, and to carry his idea into full execution. You all see how necessary it is to review our military expences for some years past, and, if possible, to bind up and close that bleeding artery of profusion : but that business also, I have reason to hope, will be undertaken by abilities that are fully adequate to it. Something must be devised (if possible) to check the ruinous expence of elections.

Sir, all or most of these things must be done. Every one must take his part.

If we should be able by dexterity or power, or intrigue, to disappoint the expectations of our constituents, what will it avail us? We shall never be strong or artful enough to parry, or to put by the irresistible demands of our situation. That situation calls upon us, and upon our constituents too, with a voice which will be heard. I am sure no man is more zealously attached than I am to the privileges of this house, particularly in regard to the exclusive management of money. The lords have no right to the disposition, in any sense of the publick purse; but they have gone further in + self-denial than our utmost jealousy could have required. A power of examining accounts, to censure, correct, and punish, we never, that I know of, have thought of denying to the house of lords. It is something more than a century since we voted that body useless; they have now voted themselves so. The whole hope of reformation is at length cast upon us; and let us not deceive the nation, which does us the honour to hope every thing from our virtue. If all the nation are not equally forward to press this duty upon us, yet be assured, that they will equally expect we should perform

[ocr errors]

* W. Dowdeswell, Esq. chancellor of the exchequer, 1765.
+ Rejection of lord Shelburne's motion in the house of lords.

it. The respectful silence of those who wait upon your pleasure, ought to be as powerful with you, as the call of those who require your service as their right. Some, withour doors, affect to feel hurt for your dignity, because they suppose that menaces are held out to you. Justify their good opinion, by shewing that no menaces are necessary to stimulate you to your duty.—But, Sir, whilst we may sympathise with them, in one point, who sympathise with us in another, we ought to attend no less to those who approach us like men, and who, in the guise of petitioners, speak to us in the tone of a concealed authority. It is not wise to force them to speak out more plainly, what they plainly mean.-But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct, are not those that love you most. Moderate affection, and satiated enjoyment, are cold and respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath, and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of the furies. They who call upon you to belong wholly to the people, are those who wish you to return to your proper home ; to the sphere of your duty, to the post of your honour, to the mansion-house of all genuine, serene, and solid satisfaction. We have furnished to the people of England indeed we have some real cause of jealousy. Let us leave that sort of company which, if it does not destroy our innocence, pollutes our honour : let us free ourselves at once from every thing that can increase their suspicions, and inflame their just resentment : let us cast away from


with a generous scorn, all the love-tokens and symbols that we have been vain and light enough to accept ;-all the bracelets, and snuff-boxes, and miniature pictures, and hair devices, and all the other adulterous trinkets that are the pledges of our alienation, and the monuments of our shame. Let us return to our legitimate home, and all jars and all quarrels will be lost in embraces. Let the commons in parliament assembled, be one and the same thing with the Commons at large. The distinctions that are made to separate us, are unnatural and wicked contrivances. Let us identify, let us incorporate ourselves with the people. Let us cut

« ZurückWeiter »