Page images

newspaper arrives as rarely as an almanack, they most probably have not bad the opportunity of knowing how this part of the farce (the original prelude to all the Addresses) has been acted. For their information, I will suspend awbile the more serious purpose of my Letter, and entertain them with two or three Speeches in the last Session of Parliament, which will serve them for politics till Parliament meets again.

You must know, Gentlemen, that the Second Part of RIGHTS OF MAN (the book against which you have been presenting Addresses, though, it is most probable, that many of you did not know it) was to have come out precisely at the time that Parliament last met. It happened not to be published till a few days after. But as it was very well known that the book would shortly appear, the Parliamentary Orators entered into a very cordial coalition to cry the book down, and they began their attack by crying up the blessings of the Constitution.

Had it been your fate to bave been there, you could not but have been moved at the heart-and-pocket-felt congratulations that passed between all the parties on this subject of blessings; for the Outs enjoy places, and pensions, and sinecures, as well as the Ins, and are as devoutly attached to the firm of the house.

One of the most conspicuous of this motley groupe is the Clerk of the Court of King's Bench, who calls himself Lord Stormont. He is also called Justice-General of Scotland, and Keeper of Scoon (an opposition man) and he draws from the public for these nominal offices, not less, as I am informed, than six thousand pounds a year, and he is, most probably, at the trouble of counting the money, and signing a receipt, to shew, perhaps, that he is qualified to be Clerk, as well as Justice. He spoke as follows:*

“ That we shall all be unanimous, in expressing our attachment to the Constitution of these realms, I am confident. It is a subject upon which there can be no divided opinion in this House. I do not pretend to be deep read in the knowledge of the Constitution, but I take upon me to say, that from the extent of my knowledge (for I have 80 many thousands a year for nothing) it appears to me, that from the period of the Revolution, for it was by no means

• See his Speech in the Morning Chronicle of Feb. 1.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was seen.

[ocr errors][merged small]

created then, it has been, both in theory and practice, the wisest system that ever was formed. I never was (he means he never was till now) a dealer in political cant. My life has not been occupied in that way, but the speculations of late years seem to have taken a turn, for which I cannot account. When I came into public life, the political pamphlets of the time, however they might be charged with the heat and violence of parties, were agreed in extolling the radical beauties of the Constitution itself. I remember (he means he has forgotten) a most captivating eulogium on its charms by Lord Bolingbroke, where he recommends his readers to contemplate it in all its aspects, with the assurance that it would be found more estimable the more it

I do not recollect bis precise words, but I wish that men who write upon these subjects would take this for their model, instead of the political pamphlets, which, I am told, are now in circulation, (such, I suppose, as Rights of Man) -pamphlets which I have not read, and whose purport I know only by report, (he means, perhaps, by the noise they make.) This, however, I am sure, that pamphlets tending to unsettle the public reverence for the Constitution, will have very little influence. They can do very little harm--for (by the bye, he is no dealer in political cant) the English are a sober, thinking people, and are more intelligent, more solid, more steady in their opinions, than any people I ever had the furtune to see. (This is pretty well laid on, though, for a new beginner). But if there should ever come a time when the propagation of those doctrines should agitate the public mind, I am sure, for every one of your Lordships, that no attack will be made on the Constitution, from which it is truly said that we derive all our prosperity, without raising every one of your Lordships to its support. It will then be found that there is no difference among us, but that we are all determined to stand or fall together, in defence of the inestimable system"--of places and pensions.

After Stormont, on the opposition side, sat down, up rose another noble Lord ! on the ininisterial side, Grenville. This man ought to be as strong in the back as a mule, or the sire of a mule, or it would crack with the weight of places and offices. He rose, however, without feeling any incumbrance, full master of his weight! and thus said this noble Lord to t'other noble Lord !

“ The patriotic and manly manner in which the noble Lord has declared his sentiments on the subject of the Con

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

stitution, demands my cordial approbation. The noble Viscount has proved, that however we may differ on particular. measures, amidst all the jars and dissonance of parties, we are unanimous in principle. There is a perfect and entire consent (between us) in the love and maintenance of the Constitution as happily subsisting. It must undoubtedly give your Lordships concern, to find, that the time is come! (heigh ho!) when there is propriety in these expressions of regard TO (0! o! o!) THE CONSTITUTION. And that there are men (con-found--their-po-li-tics) who disseminate doctrines hostile to the genuine spirit of our well-balanced system (it is certainly well-balanced when both sides hold places and pensions at once). I agree with the noble Viscount that they have not (I hope) much success. I am convinced that there is no danger to be apprehended from their attempts : but it is truly important and consolatory (to us placemen, I soppose) to know, that if there should ever arise a serious alarm, there is but one spirit, one sense, and that sense I presume is not common sense) and one determination in this House;"—which undoubtedly is to hold all their places and pensions as long as they can.

Both these speeches (excepting the parts enclosed in parentheses, which are added for the purpose of illustration) are copied verbatim from the Morning Chronicle of the 1st of February last; and when the situation of the speakers is considered, the one in the opposition, and the other in the ministry, and both of them living at the public expence, by sidecure, or nominal places and offices, it required a very unblushing front to be able to deliver them. Can those men seriously suppose any Nation to be so completely blind as not to see through them? Can Stormont imagine that the political cant, with which he has larded his harangue, will conceal the craft? Does he not know that there never was a cover large enough to hide itself? Or can Grenville believe, that his credit with the public increases with his avarice for places?

But, if these orators will accept a service from me, in return for the allusions they have made to the Rights of Man, I will make a speech for either of them to deliver on the excellence of the Constitution, that shall be as much to the purpose as what they have spoken, or as Bolingbroke's captivating encomium. Here it is.

“ That we shall all be vnanimous in expressing our attachment to the Constitution, I am confident. It is, my Lords, incomprehensibly good: but the great wonder of

all is the wisdom; for it is, my Lords, the wisest system that ever was formed.

“ With respect to us noble Lords, though the world does not know it, it is very well known to us, that we have more wisdom than we know what to do with; and what is still better, my Lords, we have it all in stock.

I defy your Lordships to prove, that a tittle of it has been used as yet; and if we do but go on, my Lords, with the frugality we have hitherto done, we shall leave to our heirs and successors, wben we go out of the world, the whole stock of wisdom, untouched, that we brought in; and there is no doubt but they will follow our example. This, my Lords, is one of the blessed effects of the hereditary system; for we can never be without wisdom so long as we keep it by us, and do not use it.

“ But, my Lords, as all this wisdom is hereditary property, for the sole benefit of us and our heirs, and as it is necessary that the people should know where to get a supply for their own use, the excellence of our Constitution has provided a King for this very purpose, and for no other. But, my Lords, I perceive a defect to which the Constitution is subject, and which I propose to remedy by bringing a bill into Parliament for that purpose.

“ The Constitution, my Lords, out of delicacy, I presume, has left it as a matter of choice to a King whether he will be wise or not. It has not, I mean, my Lords, insisted upon it as a Constitutional point, which, I conceive, it ought to have done; for I pledge myself to your Lordships to prove, and that with true patriotic boldness, that he has no choice in the matter. The bill, my Lords, that I shall bring in, will be to declare, that the Constitution, according to the true intent and meaning thereof, does not invest the King with this choice; our ancestors were too wise to do that; and, in order to prevent any doubts that might otherwise arise, I shall prepare, my Lords, an enacting clause, to fix the wisdom of Kings, by act of Parliament; and then, my Lords, our Constitution will be the wonder of the world!

Wisdom, my Lords, is the one thing needful; but that there may be no mistake in this matter, and that we may proceed consistently with the true wisdom of the Constitution, I shall propose a certain criterion, whereby the exact quantity of wisdom necessary for a King may be known. (Here should be a cry of Hear him! Hear him!

[ocr errors]

“ It is recorded, my Lords, in the Statutes at Large of the Jews, a book, my Lords, which I have not read, and whose purport I know only by report, but perhaps the bench of Bishops can recollect something about it, that Saul gave the most convincing proofs of royal wisdom before he was made a King, for he was sent to seek his father's asses, and he could not find them.

“ Here, my Lords, we have, most happily for us, a case in point: this precedent ought to be established by act of Parliament; aud every King, before he be crowned, should be sent to seek his father's asses, and if he cannot find them, he shall be declared wise enough to be King, according to the true meaning of our excellent Constitution. All, therefore, my Lords, that will be necessary to be done, by the enacting clause that I shall bring in, will be to invest the King before-band with the quantity of wisdom necessary for this purpose, lest he should happen not to possess it: and this, my Lords, we can do without making use of any of our own.

“We further read, my Lords, in the said Statutes at Large of the Jews, that Samuel, who certainly was as mad as any Man-of-Rights-Man now-a-days, (hear him! hear him!) was highly displeased, and even exasperated, at the proposal of the Jews to have a King, and he warned them against it with all that assurance apd impudence of which he was master. I have been, my Lords, at the trouble of going all the way to Paternoster Row, to procure an extract from the printed copy. I was told that I should meet with it there, or in Amen Corner, for I was then going, my Lords, to rummage for it among the curiosities of the Antiquarian Society. I will read the extract to your Lordships, to shew how little Samuel knew of the matter.

“ The extract, my Lords, is from 1 Samuel, chap. 8. • And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a King.

' And he said, this will be the manner of the King that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint " them for himself, for bis chariots, and to be his horsemen; and sonie shall run before his chariots.

* And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and 'captains over fifties, and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make bis instruments of 'war and instruments of his chariots.

* And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

« PreviousContinue »